A Travellerspoint blog

Boarding the Pacific Princess

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

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Checkout time at the Cathedral Gate Hotel is a generous 11:00 so we had plenty of time to get our luggage down to the foyer. We'd thought to order a taxi but the staff assured us it was just an easy walk to the bus station. We'd walked there previously and decided to try. It is so much more difficult when you're weighed down with over 30 kg of luggage even though it is on wheels. If the bus was an additional 500 metres I doubt we'd have made it.

Plenty of time to wait and just to keep us amused the Country Express bay has been moved to a new location during the week.
The coach trip to Dover was not much over 30 minutes, getting to the centre added another 15 minutes. Our booked destination was the Ferry Terminal where we would have to find a taxi. There were only 4 couples remaining on the coach and the driver generously offered to take us to the Cruise Terminal as were all heading for the Pacific Princess. He pulled up at the baggage drop-off where the porters took care of heavy bags. The entire building looked like something from a more elegant past. The whole area was tastefully decorated and the check-in process totally painless. Found out later there were only about 400 new passengers embarking in Dover.

Found Stateroom 7037 on Deck 7 right near the forward lifts and stairs. The ship has accommodation on decks 6, 7 and 8 with the buffet on 9 and passenger services, casino and shops on deck 4 and 5. This arrangement places us very well for just about everything. Found the buffet for a quick lunch and returned to the cabin to meet Silawan, our steward, who took great pains to ensure we had everything to our satisfaction. The baggage arrived and was unpacked into the quirky storage spaces. Then we were off to the compulsory Muster Station Drill, just 2 decks down in the Cabaret Lounge. With that taken care of, I went out to the open deck to photograph our departure with the iconic White Cliffs in the background. The light didn't cooperate and the results are fuzzy with little contrast.

There is one general dining room the Club Restaurant with two fixed seating times 17:30 and 19:45 and assigned tables. The was a long line and lots of confusion with many guests having no table number recorded on their Cruise Card. We're assigned to Table 54, Early Seating. We ask for and normally have a table for two but this time we're shown to a table of nine. We sat there for about half an hour and no-one else joined the table. Someone must have noticed that we were not too happy and the Maitre d'Hotel came over and asked us to discuss a re-assignment after dinner. Looks like we may have to change to the late seating, something new for us.

The meal was excellent and the two waiters most helpful and pleasant, it will be a shame to leave them. I suspect, Peter the waiter, picked up on our conversation about the size of the table and contacted the Maitre d'Hotel.

The ship is becoming lively as we head for the Theatre for the introductory show. The layout is not a typical theatre which is no doubt why it is referred to as the Cabaret Lounge. For the size of the ship it is an appropriate space and it re-enforces my feeling that the ship's facilities are designed with the feel of an upmarket intimate private club. Jenny worries about tall people sitting in front of her and she much prefers the stepped down seating of a regular theatre.

Clocks are set forward an hour overnight and we have a sea day tomorrow.

Until next time. Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 02:52 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

Still More History

Monday, 26 June 2017

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This morning we walked Eastward and discovered more history in the form of the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church reported to be England's oldest working parish church. The area is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Much of the area appears to occupied by the Kings School. Old stonework covers many structure partly visible behind large walls.

On the way back to the hotel we were attracted by the sound of singing and found a lovely church only accessible by a narrow passage between adjoining buildings. A group of people were practising their singing. They may not have been a professional outfit but provided some impressive music. To my surprise they were singing some olden popular songs rather than hymns. The church was on a cosy neighbourhood scale and looked like there was an active parish where people were made welcome. We were invited to join in but didn't want to destroy the harmony.

Back to the hotel and a light lunch along the way. Today marks the last full day in Canterbury and we were surprised to have found yet another corner of this historic city.

For our last evening meal we decided to dine at the Old Buttermarket Pub across the street. Jenny went in convinced she would have Fish and Chips but was distracted by the menu and settled for Sausages and Chips, it was a substantial plate of food. I was undecided but enthusiastically ordered the Beef and Mushroom Pie. It tasted as great as it looked. We didn't really need it but indulged in some delicious dessert.

Settled down for our last night in the hotel and will sort out the suitcases in the morning.

Until next time. Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 21:49 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Sunday Roast and Evensong

Sunday, 25 June 2017

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No rush to do anything this morning and even though we were later than usual we were the only guests for breakfast. Watched some British TV and left the room in the hands of the chambermaids. Not my word but that's how they were referred to by the manager.

Had no trouble finding the Pilgrims English Restaurant, we'd been here before. We were a bit early but there was no crowd and we had the choice of tables and the undivided attention of the waiter. The Sunday Roast Special is priced at UK£ 9.95, add dessert and tea or coffee brings it to UK£ 12.95. The roast lived up to all expectations and would challenge all but the most robust of appetites. The decor is refined and the service professional and helpful. I tried to suggest what might be on the dessert menu knowing that Jenny is not too keen on many of the old time favourites. My suggestions included "bread and butter pudding", "wine trifle" and "rice custard". She was delighted when I was proved 100% wrong.

Our room in the hotel doesn't have a number, it has the name "Evensong" so I thought it appropriate that we should attend the Evensong service in the cathedral. I'm not big on religious services but must admit that the size of the structure and the sound of the choir and the organ were impressive. There is no doubt that the structure is an outstanding example of early craftsmanship.

It was free to enter for the service and I didn't push my luck by blatantly sporting the camera. As it turned out almost the entire space around the structure is fenced off or covered by scaffolding. It would have been virtually impossible to encompass even a significant portion of the place. It was well worth the visit but well pleased that we didn't pay the entry fee.

Back at the hotel we spent time confirming that despite to 50 or so TV channels available it was difficult to find anything worth watching. Jenny is off to an evening mass at the local Catholic Church. Nothing as grand as the Evensong but more like her regular fare.

Didn't need much for dinner after that lunch so picked up a snack and a drink. One more full day before we pack up and join the ship on Tuesday.

Until next time. Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 11:59 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Recovery and Re-discovery

Saturday, 24 June 2017

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We were a little slow starting this morning and missed out on the window seat in the dining room. The waiter apologised even though it has nothing to do with him. Set out for a walk to Northgate and discovered a few additional eating places. I'm surprised that they all appear to make a living.

A few days ago we identified a place that offered Sunday Roast Lunch and Jenny has her heart set on it. We decided to book a table while we were out and about. Would you believe ?? We couldn't find the place nor remember the name. Pretty bloody stupid. I had taken a photo of the place but that image was on the computer back at the hotel.

Picked up some lunch and fruit before heading back to the hotel. Sounds like a lot of walking but it isn't. It is also quite slow because of the cobbled streets, the crowds and two pairs of tired feet. Checked the images and determined that we'd been looking for The Pilgrims English Restaurant located on a lane off the main street. We'll visit there this evening and make the booking.

Didn't do a whole lot this afternoon. I battled with the flaky Internet, read a little and watched some TV. About 18:30 we set out for the Pilgrims Restaurant, found it this time and recorded our booking for 12:00 tomorrow. Tried a different Italian restaurant for dinner tonight. Food was good, place was busy and very loud. Returned to the hotel at about 20:30 to sit down and record these few words.

No specific plans for tomorrow although Jenny is thinking of attending a church service,

Until next time. Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 13:29 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Massive Day in Dover

Friday, 23 June 2017

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Close to perfect day as we entered the Bus Shop. Spoke to the lady and purchased a 'family all day' bus pass for just £12.00. She also printed off the 'two for one' Dover Castle Form. At about 08:30 we set off with just two other passengers in a double decked "Stagecoach" bus. Most of the journey is along small country roads and narrow village streets.

First stop in Dover was the Visitor Information Centre where it was suggested that we visit their free museum. Their star attraction is the world's oldest known wooden seagoing vessel. It is reputed to date back to the Bronze Age. The museum is spread over three floors and is presented in a modern and tasteful fashion. We walked to the waterfront to 'admire' the stony-gravelled beach 8-). No building sand castles here.

Went back to the bus station to catch the bus that takes us past the Dover Castle. We decided to pass on the suggestion that we walk up there and anyway the day-pass covers this as well. We pay for our entry - Half Price Concession just £8.50 each. The site covers 88 acres with lots of ups and downs. First stop the WW2 tunnels and the story of the evacuation of Dunkirk presented as a sequence of audio-visual pieces in different rooms and corridors.

Used the Land Rover powered "train" to get us to the tower. This massive structure is based on the original fortifications. The history and story behind the the various parts was beautifully presented including real people in period costume. It was a challenging climb to the roof of the tower and while we were considerably slower than most we made it up there. The wind was fierce but I managed to take some reasonable images. After the heat of the past few days we almost needed a jacket.

The site also hosts the Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment museum. An amazing history of a military formation dating back to to the late 1700. The names on the 'colours' cover most of the known world. I was surprised to find New Zealand among the battle honours. This museum alone deserves at least half a day. Supper impressive.

On the advice of one of the staff we walked down to the town. It did save waiting for a return bus but it was a LONG way down. On the way we discussed options for the remainder of the day and decided to ride the bus North to Deal with the intention of spending some time in that city. The route from Dover to Deal was certainly not straightforward. Jenny assures me that we passed one spot at least four times. Instead of returning to Dover and then Canterbury we took the option of swapping bus routes and travel on to Sandwich and travel to Canterbury from there. We passed through a number of towns and villages with passengers joining and leaving the bus leaving us as the sole occupants on occasions.

Back in Canterbury just before 18:00 we were both a little foot-sore and had a quick meal on the way back to the hotel. Lots of things to write up but don't want to bore you any further. Hope you've gained the impression that this was indeed a massive day.

Will take it easy tomorrow with nothing specific planned.

Until next time. Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 12:55 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

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