Bora Bora, French Polynesia

2019 HAL World Cruise

Monday, February 18, 2019

 

Well, sometimes the best laid plans………

We went to bed in Papeete on Saturday night expecting to awaken Sunday morning in Moorea.  That did not happen.  We awoke Sunday morning still in Papeete.   The storm that arrived Saturday and cancelled the festivities of the food trucks had also caused havoc with the sea and cancelled our ability to sail through the reef and anchor in Opunohu Bay.  Instead, we set course to Bora Bora and arrived there Sunday night just after dinner.  (If you’d like to read about Moorea, French Polynesia check out our post from January 24, 2018.)  I’m afraid that for many, an extra evening in Bora Bora was not enough to compensate for missing Moorea.  But just imagine the panic of those passengers who had  ferried from Papeete to Moorea to enjoy a night in an overwater Bungalow!   They wound up scrambling to catch flights to Bora Bora to re-board the MS Amsterdam.

We are all back on schedule now.

Let me show you a little bit of Bora Bora:

We are anchored in the Bora Bora Lagoon and tender to the dock.
We are anchored in the Bora Bora Lagoon and tender to the dock.
Mount Otemanu dominates the island.
Mount Otemanu dominates the island.
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Vaitape is a small town with many Black Pearl shops, a supermarket, church, a few restaurants, and the tender dock. It doesn’t take long to explore.
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So we elected to take the island sponsored shuttle (US $5.00/pp/trip) to Matira Beach. It was about a 15 minute drive to the beach. This is the view along the way.
The shuttle let us off at the Moihere Snack Bar on Matira Beach.
The shuttle let us off at the Moihere Snack Bar on Matira Beach.
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First priority: have a local beer! As long as we’re at the Moihere Snack Bar, that’s where we decided to have the afternoon libation.
That Hinano beer was pretty good!
That Hinano beer was pretty good!
Hinano is the local beer.
Hinano is the local beer.
This is the closest we came to swimming!
This is the closest we came to swimming!
And Rog is still enjoying his afternoon libation!
And Rog is still enjoying his afternoon libation!
Next, we caught the shuttle to Bloody Mary's.  (another US$5.00/pp)
Next, we caught the shuttle to Bloody Mary’s. (another US$5.00/pp)
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At Bloody Mary’s, it is almost a requirement to have Jimmy Buffet’s Cheeseburger in Paradise!
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As you can see on the celebrity visitors board, Buffet has been here. So has Michner! (There are more signs of famous names. Bloody Mary’s has been a local institution since 1956.)
The food looks pretty good.  And the Bloody Mary's are too!
The food looks pretty good. And the Bloody Mary’s are too!
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There’s often a wait to get a table. We were between tour buses so it wasn’t too bad today.
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Bloody Mary has a private dock–but we have never seen private boats bringing diners. None-the-less, it is a very pleasant place to sit and enjoy the view and tropical breezes.
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We caught another shuttle ($5.00/pp) back to the ship. The MS Amsterdam is awaiting our return.
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The local entertainers, vendors, and tour guides are all still on the dock. Ready to bid us farewell!

 

Now, it will take 3 more days at sea to sail to Nuku Alofa, Tonga.  The adventure continues!

Cruising to Cuba

Key West, Florida

The first port-of-call on our cruise to Cuba was Key West.  We docked at Mallory Square.  Wall Street leads from the Square to Duval Street and along the way is the El Meson de Pepe Cuban Restaurant at the Cayo Hueso y Habana Historeum.  Although founded in 1985, it exemplifies the historic connection between Key West and Cuba.  Shipwrecks and their salvage created the first boom in Key West and attracted many settlers to the Island from Cuba.  In the 1860s, the cigar industry with its many workers started a migration from Cuba to Key West.  Soon, Key West became “Cigar City USA.”  And remained so until a fire decimated the industry in 1886.

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View of Mallory dock from Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Empress of the Seas. The Brick Building to the left of the arches is the Cayo Hueso y Habana Historeum.
The El Meson de Pepe Cuban Restaurant on Wall Street, just off Mallory Square.
The El Meson de Pepe Cuban Restaurant on Wall Street, just off Mallory Square.

We walked over to the old Custom House where Seward Johnson’s sculpture “Unconditional Surrender” is displayed.  I love Johnson’s work and, obviously, so do many others.  Copies of this sculpture are installed all over the world!  We first saw “Unconditional Surrender” in San Diego.  It is also on display in New York.  We were surprised to see it in Civitavecchia, Italy.  But we considered it totally appropriate in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu.  Other locations include Hamilton, New Jersey; Caen, France; Sarasota, Florida; Royal Oak, Michigan and Bastenaken, Belgium.

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Seward Johnson’s sculpture, “Unconditional Surrender,” in front of the Old Cutom House, now the Museum of Art & History

We continued along Duval Street to 428 Greene St.  where Captain Tony’s Saloon is located.  Here, many famous people such as Truman Capote, John F. Kennedy, and Harry Truman enjoyed a drink or two.  Barstools are named for these famous patrons.  There is even a life-sized statue of Ernest Hemingway.  Jimmy Buffett got his start here and still comes by occasionally (but he will not perform here anymore; that is something he only does at his own Margaritaville Café around the corner!)  This building has a long and interesting history.  Constructed in 1852 as an ice house, it also doubled as the city morgue.  In 1898, it was the telegraph station that reported to the world the sinking of the USS Maine.  In 1912, it was a cigar factory.  For the next 21 years it housed a couple of bars, a bordello, and a series of speakeasies.  Then, in 1933, Josie Russell created Sloppy Joe’s Bar.  It became a favorite hang-out of Ernest Hemingway.  As a matter of fact, Hemingway suggested the name based on the original Sloppy Joe’s in Havana.   When the landlord raised the rent, Russell and his customers picked up the entire bar and transported everything to Sloppy Joe’s current location at 201 Duval Street.

Duval Street
Duval Street
Duval Street
Duval Street
Captain Tony's Saloon on Duval Street.
Captain Tony’s Saloon on Duval Street.
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The interior of Captain Tony’s Saloon papered with $1.00 bills! The bar stools are named for famous patrons.
Sloppy Joe's Bar on Duval Street.
Sloppy Joe’s Bar on Duval Street.
Interior of Sloppy Joe's.
Interior of Sloppy Joe’s.

Before returning to the ship, we deemed it necessary to have a Margarita, on the rocks, at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Café.   A stop at the gift shop followed.

JimmyBuffett's Margaritaville Cafe.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Cafe.
The bar at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Cafe.
The bar at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Cafe.
This is what Jimmy Buffett looked like back in the day!
This is what Jimmy Buffett looked like back in the day!