December 12, 2014 . . . nearly a month ago, we pulled into the port in Antigua after two days of sailing from Ft. Lauderdale. The original post of that day is HERE. This is a supplement to that post showcasing the photos from the Nikon.
BUT FIRST . . . a couple of things.
One, days at sea go by pretty quick; no more than blurs of us going from meal to meal, food station to food station, one dessert offering to another, all punctuated by coffees, teas, and ice cream. In other words, relaxing and fun. Port days, on the other hand, can be hectic.
I mentioned before the original idea with this cruise was to go see islands that, individually, would be too expensive and would take a lot of time to visit on their own (the Caribbean has a lot of islands). The cruise was meant to give us a feel for the islands, with a secondary goal of potentially finding a destination that was not Hawaii. I mean, we love Hawaii, but travel there is expensive.
The plan only half worked . . . you don’t see much of the islands in the short amount of time one has between arrival and departure. I mean, six hours sounds like a lot, but it takes a while to get off the boat, back on, and in between fight veritable throngs of tourists both on the road and at the various popular locations. Plus, on said locations one has limited amount of time to look around.
My tentative conclusion is that one should cruise primarily for the ship experience, with destinations serving as secondary objectives; no more than breaks from the cruise itself.
Two, this cruise will be the last time I compromise on my photography. I made the decision right off the bat to make use of the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens for most of my shooting. The plus of that decision was that I did not have to carry my full complement of lenses . . . all 25 pounds of them. I mean, I had them with me on the boat, but I left them in the cabin. The minus is photos which while passable for blog posting, don’t pass the pixel test. Lots of grain, generally soft, and overall little better than snapshots.
Don’t get me wrong; that lens rocks on my D100 and my D200. The D7000, as I mentioned before, pushes the limits of that lens. I had done small tests, and concluded it wasn’t that bad. I also relied on the camera’s viewfinder to asses the wisdom of my choice.
Eighteen hundred photos viewed at home convinced me otherwise. Oh well . . .
It was a bit past dawn, the sun was partially blocked by the surrounding hills and occasionally by the moderate cloud cover, when we cruised into the harbor.
Not many people were up and about . . .
. . . and there was little activity in the harbor.
We had an excursion planned, but as the ship slowly maneuvered to its dock, I took the time to take snapshots of subjects I would return to over and over throughout the day.
The remnants of a fort at the entrance of the harbor . . .
. . . a few boats that captured my attention . . .
. . . and, of course, scenery . . .
. . . and the Frigatebirds flying around, also known as Man-of-War birds.
I snapped a few more photos, and then breakfast before the excursion we had scheduled.
Right here I’m going to take a quick break to inform non-cruising people about a few things . . . the PrincessPatter, the Port Guide, and the Shore Excursion Form.
The PrincessPatter is published in the evening, and serves as the ship’s log, listing ports of calls for the next day, schedule of entertainment and other events, and general information.
The Port Guide provides information about the Port of Call, in this case, Antigua. One can certainly go and get more information on Wikipedia’s Antigua page, but this is really focused on the cruisers looking to get a feel for what they might want to visit.
The Shore Excursion Form lists the offerings by Princess as far as touristy things go. A large portion of them involve activities we are not interested in (sailing, swimming, snorkeling, zip-lining, off-road treks, etc.).
Ideally, we would want to see the island at a leisurely pace. Ideally, I would rent a car and go exploring . . . except, you know, they all drive on the wrong side of the road, and they all drive as if in a big hurry. I noticed that in Hawaii . . . locals drive way to fast, and often recklessly. Same with Antiguans . . . Antiguanites? . . . Antiguonians? . . . Antiguanians? Whatever; they drive recklessly and on the wrong side of the road.
We should have researched and hired excursions run by local companies, concentrating on small groups, and with flexible schedules. Maybe next time if, you know, there is a next time.
I don’t have photos from the disembarkation and subsequent embarkation of the tour vehicle. We, along with 22 others, got soaked on the pier as a quick shower passed through. I ruefully relived my decision to leave our umbrella in the room. Having the locals reassure us that it was nothing more than ‘liquid sunshine’ did nothing toward making me feel better.
Our guide was Tony. It might have been his real name, but I doubt it. Of all the excursions, he would turn out to be the best guide, both because he spoke clearly and slowly enough to be understood, and because he was funny. He had long dreadlocks that came down to almost his knees. Ten year’s worth.
The two shots above are, respectively, the remnant of a sugar mill (many of these dotting the island, as sugar was the main industry for many years), and one of the many, many churches we saw. The first church, of course, was visible from the ship, St. John’s Cathedral.
Quality-wise, this next photo is probably the best of the bunch . . . and interesting on its own right.
This is likely one of Antigua’s goats, If it were standing you would know for sure; if the tail is up, it’s a goat. Sheep here do not produce wool as the climate does not require them to grow a thick coat, so they can be confused for goats.
Keeping a steady and entertaining narrative, Tony drove us to the Blockhouse Ruins atop a cliff offering great views.
The ruins are named after the still standing blockhouse (used to house gunpowder and ammunition) and the ruins of the officer’s quarters and various buildings associated with a lookout post.
By the way, as usual readers can click on the individual photos for a larger view in an new tab or window. One can also go to the associated SmugMug Gallery HERE to see the photos in their native resolution, as well as additional photos not shown here.
Sometimes the ruins have walls . . .
and sometimes only a few stones remain . . .
Let me step back a moment . . .
. . . hmm . . .
Interesting place . . . if you want to read about Eric Clapton’s house, click HERE. It’s called Standfast Point, and if you have to ask how much it costs to stay there, you probably can’t afford to do so. But it looks nice.
After the Blockhouse Ruins (we had 15 minutes there), we drove a short way to the Guard House.
The place affords a nice overlook of the bay and of the next destination of the tour, Nelson’s Dockyard.
By the way, the person in the center of the next photo is Tony. I did not purposefully take his photo, but since he’s in it . . .
OK, on with the views . . .
I did not link the originals because they are in Smugmug, and the files are a combined total of 25MB. You can still get a decent size by clicking on them, but if you want to see them larger, go to SmugMug.
. . . a few close-ups of the views.
Here we had the luxury of twenty minutes . . . so I took a few extra ‘artistic’ shots.
. . . and then off we were to Nelson’s Dockyard.
We had a whole 45 minutes here, and we were done with the place in 15 minutes. That’s not counting the 15 minutes tour that basically repeated stuff we already knew . . . when we could hear the lady over the noise of the place. You can click on the link to read more of the history of the place, but I’ll give you a quick rundown of what I found interesting.
Nope, did not go in there . . . but here’s the Nelson figurine at the entrance.
He looks like a sanctimonious pri . . . er . . . gentleman, but then it might just be a bad carving and awful paint job. Here’s another shot of the museum without people . . .
I liked the rich bastards boats . . .
Did you notice the spoked horizontal wheel in the foreground of the first two photos. They used to train horses for Olympic Racing with those wheel.
. . . yes, I’m joking; those (there is another off frame) were used to pull the ship while docked, lifting one side out of the water to affect repairs to the underside while docked. The ship would then reverse the docking direction, be pulled to lift the other side so it too could be repaired.
I like this photo . . .
. . . mainly because of the house in the background . . .
How in heck’s bells did they get a hold of the White Tree of Gondor? . . . is this the Fifth White Tree? Like Gondor, it looks like it’s in need of repair.
However, what mostly held my attention were the plants . . .
. . . some wood carvings . . .
In the olden days I might have found us a smallish one to take back home. Those days are past, not likely to return unless it’s something both extraordinary and cheap.
I did like the boats . . .
. . . wondering what it would be like to own one . . .
. . . ah . . . Nevermind.
The excursion included a free drink . . . we had our choice of water, lemonade, or rum punch. Real rum. We got a rum punch and a lemonade . . . finished the lemonade, ditched the rum punch.
For reference, here’s the signage of the place . . .
. . . and a shot of Antigua’s flag . . .
After waiting 15 minutes for a married couple who ‘did not have a watch’ and who were immediately classified by me as asshole and assholette, we headed back to the ship.
This particular excursion was also good in two ways . . . one, a smaller vehicle, but large enough to be comfortable and with with large windows . . . and two, we had the seats right behind the driver because they had less room and we were well under the mass of the other riders. This afforded me the opportunity to take photos while driving.
Here’s the view from our seats . . .
. . . and here are shots of Antigua . . . shops . . .
. . . houses . . .
. . . another church . . .
. . . the ‘boat house’ . . . supposedly a guy who wanted to live in a boat, but his wife did not want to . . .
. . . streets . . . the white uniform is mandatory for kids attending school.
Also saw a horse moonlighting as a perch . . .
. . . or maybe an egret working as a groomer. If so, he was terrible at it.
This sign told me something about the billboard and possibly the economy . . .
. . . it had not been rented for at least two years.
This next shot told me little . . . other than cultural icons of the West are ubiquitous.
. . . never did see the attraction of them annoying characters . . . but that’s a story for another time.
Here’s more street photography . . .
. . . apparently they have quacks here as well.
Here’s the main street, leading to the dock and the ship . . .
. . . which gave me an opportunity to catch some more street photography scenes . . .
Another guy I would like to meet and talk with . . . he was really into the music that was playing . . .
Maybe he’s a jerk, maybe he has a shitty life, but in that moment, in that place, he was a real human being living in the moment. I liked him.
We slowly made it to the dock as I snapped a few more shots . . .
. . . and then we were back on the boat . . . I have a tendency of saying ‘in the boat’ as opposed to ‘on the boat’ and get corrected for it. But, we were, in fact, ‘in’ the boat.
The photo below, however, was from ‘on the boat’. Our balcony, to be precise.
I’ll wrap up our visit to Antigua in the next post.
. . . or is it ‘on the next post’? . . . ah, who cares.
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