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Cruise across the Atlantic Ocean

Recollections from a cruise ship voyage starting in Brazil, going to Europe
Roy Erasmus

Jean and I recently went on a cruise with my brother Guy and his wife Eileen. It was awesome.

We started in Brazil, crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the Canary Islands, Spain, France, and ended in Italy. We then spent five days in Portugal. Woohoo!

A great thing about leaving for a month at the end of March is that we missed the slush and mud of the spring thaw. Yellowknife was full of snow when we left and there wasn’t a speck on the streets when we got back. Now you’re talking.

In Brazil, we went to see the 98-foot-high statue of Christ the Redeemer on top of Mount Corcovado. Voted as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, it’s a pretty amazing sight of Jesus standing with his arms outstretched, but not on a cross.

Our personal tour guide stopped near the top of the mountain so we could take pictures. Pointing down to a valley with houses touching one another, he said “Don’t go down there. People are very poor, and you can hear bullets flying around, even in the daytime!” Whoa. 

We stayed right on Copacabana, so we walked up and down the 4.5-kilometre beach visiting little kiosks. Jean bought a jersey of a Brazilian soccer player for her son. We noticed we hardly saw any seriously overweight people. 

Crossing the Atlantic Ocean was pretty awesome. We crossed the equator going south to north,and it was still warm on deck. We did not hit any major storms until we got to Europe. At least we couldn’t feel it, but of course our ship had 18 levels and can hold 5,000 passengers and 2,000 staff, so you could say it was huge. Eschia, take it easy eh!

The Canary Islands were pretty cool. It’s a volcanic area, so it has black sand on the beaches. Jean put her feet in the ocean and walked in the black sand. I couldn’t because my feet get all splotchy from sand and it had already begun from the sand in Brazil.

Driving formula one cars
One of our big highlights was renting Formula One cars in Mallorca, Spain, and driving behind our guide, then up a mountain and back. The curves on the mountain were tight with cliffs on one side. The guide goes pretty fast up and down the mountain so it feels like you are actually in a race. Very exhilarating. The vehicle was a standard, so Jean was driving and she was yelling, “This is awesome” a lot. Hahaha.

We also saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and you can actually see it leans 15 feet to the side. It wasn’t meant to lean like that, but the ground was not stable and it started to tilt, so they had to reinforce the foundation. The tower took centuries to complete because of wars and other things.

Once our cruise was over, we spent five days in Lisbon, Portugal. We stayed close to the airport, next to the route for the hop on/hop off bus. We paid to go on a scheduled route around the city while listening to a description of things we passed. Buses come every 20 minutes and we could get off anytime then catch another bus and continue on our journey.

We stayed in Lisbon because Jean’s soul sister has a very good male friend there that Jean had met in Canada back in the 1990s. Rui took us around the countryside and showed us beaches and things not seen on regular tours. We ate at a small outdoor restaurant and walked through the streets for hours in areas with hundreds of shops and venues. It was very cool and we would not have seen it without Rui.

We had met a nice young couple from Portugal on the ship, and we joined them in Lisbon. Arthur’s family moved to Portugal because Brazil was getting too dangerous — something we did not know when we went there. We met his parents at their home overlooking the ocean and then went to Arthur’s bar/restaurant. It was a very safe area and we walked around and took in more sights that we did not see on the tour bus. Very cool.

Some things we noticed
We did not see many overweight people in Brazil or any of the European cities we visited. I don’t think we saw any very obese people like we see on many streets in North America. 

Also, they seem to eat much more healthily than most North Americans. There were some fast-food outlets, like McDonald's, but they were few and far between. Meanwhile we can sometimes see three or four outlets on one street over here.

It seemed more people were walking and cycling. Even when we were going up and down the mountains there were lots of people walking or on their bikes. We walked many miles on our vacation, which was a good thing because we ate some good food.

We only saw one pickup truck in all the places we visited and it was a small one to boot. Everywhere we went, the vehicles were compact in size, probably because gas cost over $2.50 a litre.

Overall, a very nice trip. We would definitely go on another cruise.