And we're off
Sep 4, 2007
|When we woke up at 3:15 am, Barkley looked at us as if we were nuts and promptly went back to sleep. We, on the other hand, were extremely glad to be awake since I forgot to set the alarm -- wouldn't want to miss the plane/limo/ship today! We're leaving the house in "realtor-readiness" for Gina, our house and Barkley sitter. Limo West was right on time (not to be confused with Southwest Limo -- more on that story later), check in at Midway was quick, the plane ride was short and smooth, and all of our luggage arrived with us in New York. Life was good at this point.
When I was trying to figure out the cheapest way to get from Chicago to the Brooklyn Ferry Terminal, I ended up with a Southwest Airlines flight to Long Island and a limo to Pier 12 where the Queen Mary was docked. The best price was with a company named Southwest Limo which I found from reading the airport web site. Got a cheap rate, confirmed it the day before we left, and called them when we had collected our luggage. 30 minutes, two phone calls, and Bob walking to another part of the airport later, we got into our Lincoln town car -- which, judging from the markings still left on the windows and fenders, appeared to be recently purchased from an auction house.
Bob picks up the story (right up there with the water glass on the flight to New Zealand last year).
We started the trip to Brooklyn with our Nigerian driver. During the trip we discovered that the world headquarters of our limo service was right there in the front seat of the town car. Using a cell phone with a Blue Tooth ear plug, our driver controlled several cars & other bits of business (he was using his native Nigerian language, so we can only guess what else he was doing). The ride was uneventful until we approached Brooklyn with exception of the music selection; the 5 disc CD player was filled with everything ever recorded by Lional Richie. At this point it became apparent our driver did not have a clue where Pier 12 was located. Our first attempt to get directions was the (I guess, typical New York method) of pulling up along side a cab, rolling the window down & asking the driver where the cruise terminal was located. Now we were moving at 45 miles per hour, the cabby was from Brooklyn, our driver was from Nigeria, so English was not the first language of either one of them. So now we're totally Lost in Brooklyn, (Isn't that a movie title?). Several u-turns, tangled traffic, and many blocks later, our driver next pulled up & stopped next to a young black man sitting in the open door of a van and holding a fist full of 20 dollar bills. Yes, we asked directions from the local drug dealer! Our Nigerian driver still could not communicate, so Cabana Bob asked for directions, not drugs. The dealer was very helpful with clear, concise directions to the 278 expressway. We then guided our confused driver around many blocks to the expressway & exit 26. Another 10 blocks three turns & we arrived at Pier 12, a mere two hours after first entering the vehicle.
Ok, back to Marilyn (wouldn't want you to lose track of whose voice is whose!)
Check in for our crossing (must be proper with our terminology or the QM2 propriety police will strike) was incredibly smooth -- drop off the luggage with speedy porters, a quick trip through a TSA-like screening (tho much quicker, friendlier and more efficient than at any airport), quick stop for the creation of our on-board account and photo ID. long walk down a dock and up several ramps (dodging those slower than we), a stop for the obligatory first picture by the ship photographers, and finally down the elevator and another very long passageway to our cabin. The ship is gorgeous; take a peek at the photos on (http://www.cunard.com) for a sneak peek of the Queen Mary 2. We'll upload our pictures after we land in six days. Thanks to a nice special offer from American Express, we were able to upgrade to the Princess Grill level which means we have a larger cabin with a balcony, can dine when we want in a smaller dining room, and have a cheap bottle of French sparkling wine waiting for us on the coffee table in our cabin.
And now on to what you all have been waiting for -- Bob's gustatorial report for today...
We were finally on board & ready for lunch. First, a small explanation of the dining classes on board the Queen Mary 2. At the top end is the Queen's Grill [starboard side] ( with lots of walker assisted & oxygen tank using patrons. Next in the hierarchy, the Princess Grill [port side] is our dining room, table 16 where we have lowered the median age by 15 years minimum. All the food comes from the same kitchen, the menus are similar and if you do not see what you want, just tell them what you want & it will be prepared. The Britannia Restaurant is the next level down (we will be dining there on the return trip. The last dining area is the King's Court food area. This has an Asian area, Italian area, and a carvery area. Food is pre-cooked & served buffet style. So what did we have for lunch-- we both started with a mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette. M had salmon with a Chablis sauce, mashed potatoes,and baby veggies. I opted for the Nicoise Veggie Mozzarella Quiche. Our wine was a delightful 2002 Hugel Pinot Gris with a distinct honeysuckle nose & taste. This was a very relaxing lunch where we made friends with Bruno our sommelier and Jun Jun, our waiter. The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring this huge ship and practicing our favorite sport -- people watching.
After much walking to build our appetites back up for dinner, we walked to the Queen's Grill Lounge where a nice mix of jazz was playing. A glass or two of Perrier Jouet Champagne was just enough to prepare us for dinner. A short stroll from the starboard side to the portside brought us back to table 16. A decision to try the seafood was made. The final member of our serving staff was Denisa from Romania. M started with a seafood salad where the phoney crab was a turn-off for an otherwise nice dish. I had the fried calamari with a red pepper coulis which was tasty. We both asked for the scallops. They came wrapped in spinach inside a pouch of filo dough which was deep fried -- result was over cooked scallops. The wine selection was another winner that we have not had for a couple of years -- a 2005 Gavi dei Gavi from La Scolca. After dinner it was the short stroll back to the Queen's Lounge for after dinner drinks. Maybe tomorrow we can stay up to hear the piano player that starts at 10:45.