Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Enjoy the Ride

If there is one thing that I am learning on this trip it is that not everyone's opinion of a port is the same.  I often ask people about the ports we are going to and they respond with a fairly short answer.  They might say that's it is a very nice port, one that they really enjoy.  Other times they may say that it is boring because there isn't much to do.  I have learned to take such responses with a grain of salt.  For one, I want to enjoy every port that we go to.  I feel that every place, if approached with the right attitude, has something good to offer.  This is not to say that there are some ports that I favor over others, but the point is that I want to enjoy each one for what it is / what I make of it. 

Today's port was Lisbon, Portugal and it was much different from the last few islands that we visited.  Unlike the islands, which were rugged and mountainous, Lisbon was, well, a city.  Generally I do not like the "big city" ports as much.  I explained to my assistant Kathy the other day that when I was in college I did not have a strong desire to study abroad in a sophisticated European country.  I would have much preferred to study in a third world country.  A place such as Kenya or Tanzania was more what I was looking for.  Given the choice between city or country, ocean or mountain, a warm bed or a sleeping bag beneath the stars, I choose the latter in all three scenarios.  That's just the way I am.  It is for this reason that I love the ports that some people think are boring.  I don't need a big shopping mall or a fancy restaurant.  Give me a tiny town tucked at the edge of a towering mountain range and I am all set.  Eating an orange from a street vendor after a long run in the mountains is far more satisfying to me than being waited on hand and foot at a fancy restaurant. 

Having said all of this, I still enjoyed Portugal.  My run through Lisbon gave me a good chance to see what the place was like.  Lisbon was a place filled with Palm trees, cobblestones, old buildings, a Starbucks, a bridge that resembled San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, and closely grouped houses capped in red roofing.  There were also trolleys which shared the streets with the automobiles.  Many of the streets were narrow, and navigating them was kind of like traveling through a maze.  Although it lacked the mountains that I enjoyed over the past few days, it was a nice place and I enjoyed my visit.  With Lisbon in our wake we will spend the next two days sailing back to Southampton and after that we are off to France.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Gran Canaria

Today we landed on the shores of Gran Canaria.  Like all of the other islands we've visited in the past few days, Gran Canaria is situated off the coast of Africa's Northwest corner.  The unique thing about Gran Canaria is that it is home to the World's second largest "city beach".  Hence, after finishing up some work in the print shop, I exited the ship and ran to the beach. 

After a short jaunt along the sandy shoreline, I headed for the hills.  I soon found a paved path that wound up the side of a large hill / small mountain overlooking the city.  While running up the path I passed one other runner who was on his way down.  Upon reaching the top I snapped a
few pictures and then began my descent.  Before
too long I was back on board the ship.  

Although today's run was not as intense as the previous three, it was still quite nice.  I really enjoy getting to see different parts of the World and having the chance to experiencing something unique in each place.  Some things take your breath away and others just catch you off guard.  Take today for instance, when I was running down the beach and all of a sudden it became very clear that my t-shirt and running shorts were far from being the least amount of clothing being worn on the beach.  I guess life is just full of all sorts of surprises and sometimes you just have to sit back and laugh it off.  Tomorrow we will spend the day at sea as we travel to Lisbon.  Who knows what adventures Lisbon might have in store!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Loss For Words

Today's endeavors in Tenerife pose a bit of a challenge for me to write about.  Not because they were boring or un-eventful, for they were anything but.  The challenge stems from the fact that what happened is difficult to find words for.  

Much like any other day I stepped off the ship and began my run.  Exactly where I would go I knew not, but I soon found myself on a narrow road that wound upward through a valley of mountains.  The further I got the more serene and quiet it became.  Eventually I stumbled upon a trail that veered off into the mountains.  After speaking with a German couple just getting off the trail I left the road and climbed towards the top.  What I was climbing I knew not.  One thing, however, was for certain.  It was a stunning landscape.  


The trail and its surrounding landscape was so unique that it is kind of hard to describe.  Most of it was rocky,  some of it was wet and muddy, and every part of it was a joy to run.  The many cacti growing on the sides and the various buildings clinging to the mountains were also a nice touch.  Upon reaching the top I was greeted with a lush green landscape and a breathtaking view. 

Despite the extreme serenity I was not the only one at the top.  There were a couple of mountain bikers riding what looked to be like some fantastic trails.  It was fun seeing the mountain bikers and exchanging a few words of Spanish (high school spanish class finally came in handy!).  

The return trip was also very enjoyable and of course, I stopped to buy fruit (oranges and kiwis) on my way back to the ship.  Once on board I ran the twelve flights of stairs to deck thirteen and enjoyed my fruit while gazing at the mountains.  All in all it was an incredible day, and to think that it only cost me approximately two Euros!  Now it's on to Gran Canaria!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sea to Summit

Yesterday I wrote of how I ascended the second highest sea cliffs in the World.  Today, however, we were in La Palma and once again I went for a run.  Although yesterday's run was fairly intense, today's run made it look like a walk in the park.  Yesterday I ran a hill, today I ran a MOUNTAIN.  

Upon stepping off the ship this morning I clicked the start button on my watch and set out in search of higher ground.  A few minutes later I was winding upwards out of town and into the hills.  Much to my delight I stumbled upon a trail marker for Pico de la Nieve.  I did not know exactly what Pico de la Nieve was or how high it was.  I simply assumed it was a mountain and I set off in search of the top.  Well, 7,354 ft. later I got my answer.  

What I learned is that La Nieve is a fantastic mountain (elevation 7,354 ft.)that lies far above the sea.  Getting there, however, was no easy task.  It took me 2hrs and 53 minutes to get from the ship to the top of Nieve.  Much of the route was incredibly steep.  As I pushed towards the summit my legs grew tired, my stride shortened, the air grew cool (at one point I could see my breath) and thin, and my brain screamed for me to rest.  Nonetheless I pushed onward (and upward).  

Upon reaching the top I was rewarded with a magnificent view.  The landscape in La Palma reminded me a lot of Colorado.  I like to think of it as a tropical Colorado.  Hopefully the pictures I am including can help you to understand the sheer beauty of the land.  While at the top of Nieve I met a couple from Switzerland.  Perhaps they noticed that I was a bit fatigued as they kindly offered me food and water.  A very gracious man, my new found friend pulled several goodies from his pack for me to consume.  First water, followed by dried fruit, then more water, and finally both bread and chocolate.  Very grateful for his generosity, I bid he and his wife goodbye and headed back down the mountain, chocolate and bread in hand.

Fortunately, the descent went much faster than the ascent and I returned to the ship in just under 5 hours.  Upon reaching sea level I immediately started buying all sort of oranges and fruit juices most of which I consumed in a flash.  I then borded the ship to return to work and attempt to recover from my journey.  After taking care of a few things at the print shop I proceeded to the crew mess where I collapsed in a chair and drank mug after mug after mug of water and iced tea, some of which I mixed with salt (we do not have gatorade on the ship).  Upon returning to the print shop my leg muscles proceeded to have some of the worst cramps I have ever experienced.  Thankfully nobody was around to witness this event.  

Over all today was a fantastic day.  However, it is now time for bed as I must get some rest to prepare for tomorrow's adventures in Tenerife!  Word on the street is that Tenerife is home to the tallest mountain in Spain.  I am not sure if I will tackle it tomorrow but who knows.  I will return to Tenerife in December so perhaps I can conquer it then (or tomorrow).

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Running a (Dengue) Fever

    Ten days ago our ship set sail from NYC trying to out run Super Storm Sandy.  Although the seas were a bit rough we made it through just fine and six days later we found ourselves on the shores of Southampton (UK).  I stayed on the ship during our port day in Southampton as I was assigned to In Port Manning (IPM) duty.  Fortunately I was able to head up to deck 13 for the sail away party, giving me a chance to get some fresh air.  The evening was cool and crisp and it made me miss home.  Well, actually it made me miss splitting wood on cool autumn days.  It's funny the things you miss when you spend so much time at sea. 

    From Southampton we sailed South for three days.  During these days I spent most of my time working, training, and of course, eating.  The highlight was adding swimming to my training schedule.  Although there are several pools on the ship they tend to be very small.  The one that I am aloud to use is around twenty meters long.  Given that I didn't want to be swimming such short laps, I put my ingenuity to use to come up with a way to swim continuously without turning around.  Fortunately I was able to use a pair of running tights to anchor myself to the end of the pool.  Doing this allows me to swim in place as if I am on a treadmill.  It works pretty well.  Of course I may tweak my design and create something even better but for the time being it works quite well. 

    At the end of the three sea days we arrived in Medeira.  Located off the coast of West Africa, I believe Medeira belongs to Portugal.  Our visit to Medeira was made a bit more interesting because Medeira has recently had an outbreak of Dengue Fever.  Given that Dengue Fever is transmitted via a mosquito bite, we were advised to wear long pants and long sleeves.  Anyone who knows me knows that I pretty much never where long pants when I run.  Nonetheless, I did my entire run in Medeira's warm climate in orange RIT sweatpants (thanks Lars).  Despite the small set back of having to wear long pants, I had a fantastic run in Medeira!  From the Ship I followed the coast line in search of some sea cliffs that I had read about.  At 580m (1,902ft) above sea level, the cliffs are the second highest sea cliffs in the World!  Although finding them was not difficult, getting to the top was quite the adventure.  Stride after stride, hill after hill, I wound through the streets of Medeira in search of the top.  The ascent from the bottom to the top probably took about 30-40 minutes and it was quite the CLIMB!  Some of the streets were incredibly STEEP.  Given my love for hills I thoroughly enjoyed the climb.  And the views were FANTASTIC!  The lush, green landscape filled with banana trees and red roofed houses was just marvelous.  At the top there was a transparent platform that extended out over the cliff.  You could stand on the platform and see right through it to the ground 1,902 ft. below.  After reaching the top I retraced my steps back to the ship.  All in all it was a fantastic day.  As I was ascending to the top of the cliffs I thought to myself that they wouldn't even have to pay me for the work that I do.  They can just pay me in runs and adventures such as today's.  Then again, I am not going to argue if they want to give me both!  As I type we are sailing to La Palma.  La Palma sounds like a really great place.  I suppose I'll find out soon enough.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Food for Thought

    Several weeks ago, before starting my new job with Ryan Edwards Communications, I spoke of writing a blog.  Typically I am not one for producing such literary works of my life, but I thought that given the circumstances of my job now would be a good time to do so.  It is my desire that this blog will help people to catch a glimpse of some of the things that I am learning and experiencing as I travel the World.   Hopefully this blog will be entertaining, informative, and fun to read.  Should I fail, I may just come across as one of those tweeters on twitter tweeting every little thing that pops into their head.  Comedian Ray Romano says it is this twitter phenomena that I makes it harder to tell who the crazy people are.  For example, there was once a time when most people ate a blueberry bagel with cream cheese and did not feel the need to broadcast such news to the rest of the World.  In those days we would have thought such a person to be crazy.  In the social media crazed world of today, however, spouting off that you had a great workout at the gym and a tasty cheeseburger afterwards is practically the norm.  So hears to hoping that this blog is about a bit more than what I ate for breakfast.  With that said, food is likely to be mentioned at some point in this blog.  After all, food is an important part of life.  As my Grandfather says, "If you can't eat, you might as well be dead."  Bon a petit (it still kind of cracks me up when the waiters on the ship say that to me)!