A Travellerspoint blog

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Preparations and Anticipation

Before the Trip


View Crossing One Off the Bucket List in 2021 & Cruising the Chesapeake and Riding to RI in 2021 on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

In the summer of 2020, I realized that the pandemic wasn't going to be over quickly. So I made two reservations for cruises in 2021 and later I made some reservations in 2022.

May 2021 - a Chesapeake Bay cruise.
Opening the blinds to see the Bay Bridge

Opening the blinds to see the Bay Bridge


I thought that had the best chance of actually happening. It was a small ship and did not go out of the US and I could get a single cabin so I wouldn't have to pay a single supplement. Bob drove me up to Baltimore and I went on that cruise by myself. I found that I could handle the ship itself on my own, but I needed help getting to embarkation. American Cruise Lines cruise

The other was a Galapagos cruise.

I have wanted to visit the Galapagos ever since I read "The Voyage of the Beagle" in college when I was taking Evolution class in 1957. And I happened to mention this to my son and daughter-in-law Kathy. Kathy immediately said that she would go with me since she had always wanted to see the blue footed booby's courtship dance. My son Rob said he would go too.

After we discussed when they could get off work, we decided to go in in September 2021. I picked Silverseas Cruise Line. I had to pay a single supplement, but it was less than on other ships I could have booked. While the Silverseas price is very much more than other cruise lines on the surface, the price included gratuities, wi-fi, all tours, all drinks, and airfare. I was concerned about my ability to do the excursions from the ship but the Silversea travel agent assured me that I would be able to do everything, and that I would be able to snorkel.

I have been holding my breath to see if this cruise would actually happen.

Non-cruise trips - granddaughter M's graduation from the University of RI (I took both the scooter and the rollator),
Graduation photo

Graduation photo


and grandson J's wedding (I took only the rollator).
L-R Son Rob, wife Kathy, daughter B, son-in-law Dave, daughter D, two sisters of the groom, bride, Groom J, his mother E, his father Bill, Bob and me

L-R Son Rob, wife Kathy, daughter B, son-in-law Dave, daughter D, two sisters of the groom, bride, Groom J, his mother E, his father Bill, Bob and me


These trips showed me that I needed the scooter in addition to the rollator. But the rollator is very large and impossible to fold very much. So I found a smaller one and ordered it - it comes in a box which is reasonably small to ship. My plan now is to use the scooter in the airports, and in places where there are some type of pathways, and use the little rollator on the ship and such shore excursions as I can do. The ship does not go in to the dock except for embarkation and dis-embarkation. All of the other shore visits are by Zodiac.

I have been working to get in shape for this cruise. When we stopped being able to go to the pool, I gained some weight and my stamina deteriorated. I found that Novacare in Leonardtown had a pool so I started therapy there. But I did not make enough progress for them to bill Medicare so they cut me loose just before the trip to RI for M's graduation. When I got back I found that the Great Mills pool was open and I could do water aerobics there and also I practiced snorkeling. My old snorkel and mask leaked, so I had to get new ones. I also decided to resume respiratory therapy at the hospital. I do that two days a week.

I realized that the Humboldt Current from Antartica comes up to the islands and that it might be chilly. So I asked the Silverseas people what equipment they supplied for snorkeling. They said they supplied the mask, snorkel and fins and wetsuits, but that they might run out of large wetsuits. This was bad news for me. Snorkeling was the one type of excursion that I was pretty sure I could actually do. So I started out to try to get a wetsuit. I ordered a 2xx woman's suit, but the upper arms were too small. There were no 3xxx women's suits to be found anywhere. I tried ordering a pair of pants, but the 2xx waist is too small to go over my hips. I finally found a 3xxx man's vest which (since there are no arms) I can wear.

I found a review of a cruise that was taken on this ship in July - it was very helpful. I found that the ship does not come in to the dock at all - even for embarkation.

I am mostly packed - I added another pair of jeans for embarkation. I have a carry-on, a checked bag, the box with the rollator to check, and the scooter and I will carry a cane. I have contacted all three airlines to tell them that I have had a hip replacement and will be on a mobility scooter. I will have my hair cut today.

My son Rob and Kathy will be down on the first and we will drive up to the airport - leave his car at a motel (Park, Fly, Stay) and take a shuttle to the airport to fly to Quite on Sept 2nd. My daughter B suggested I use the WhatsApp app to contact a guy in Quito for a tour. So I did that yesterday. Francisco Ati is picking us up at the hotel on the 3rd - he has a van.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 12:36 Archived in USA Tagged cruise galapagos wetsuit Comments (5)

Mis-Information is the Grit in the Travel Machinery

Flying to Quito


View Crossing One Off the Bucket List in 2021 on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

On Wednesday, September 1st, I got an email from Silversea which said:

Following recent changes to local entry requirements, from September 1st travellers will need to present a negative result of a PCR test, performed up to 72 hours prior to boarding their flight to the Galapagos. Guests will therefore need to complete the test from Wednesday in preparation for their onward flight to the Galapagos on Saturday. Please note, you will still be required to present your vaccination certificate.

After that it said that we would have a test made in Quito at the hotel on Friday and that was what I had thought would happen. But it sounded from this letter that the test had to be done on Wednesday - 72 hours in advance, and the test on Friday would only be 24 hours in advance. Plus when I called my doctor to ask about the test, they said that it would take 48 to 72 hours to get the results back so I didn't think a Friday test would be back in time.

I called Silversea and the people in the main office and our Silversea travel agent were clueless about how this would be handled. They couldn't tell me whether the test Friday would meet the requirements. The helpful review of a previous trip that I had read said that they had gone to a lot of trouble to have the tests done at home and worried about getting them in time, and then no one ever asked them for the test. But the email said that the change was as of Sept 1st and her trip was in July. So I went up to the doctor's office to get the test, but they said they could not email me the results. So I had to teach Bob how to take a photo with his iPad and then how to attach the photo to an email to me. And hope that it only took 48 hours.

Hurricane Ida was coming up the coast as Rob and Kathy were driving down, but they did not have any delay on that account. I told them that they needed to get a test also. So they went to a local walk-in clinic. It took them several hours to get all their paperwork done. Bob had fixed dinner but they didn't get to our house until after 9:00 pm to eat it.

Thursday 2 September

We got up at 5 to 5:15 and made it to the airport 3 hours ahead of the scheduled take-off as Delta said we should. Leaving the car at the hotel went well, but there were few wheelchair pushers and they told me that if I gate checked the scooter I would not get it back in the Atlanta airport, so I should wait to get a wheelchair until after we checked in. I knew this was not true, and I wanted a wheelchair in Atlanta, but my intuition told me that they were telling me that because they didn't have enough wheelchair pushers so I let it go and stayed on the scooter.

I persuaded the check-in person not to charge me for the rollator box (or the scooter) and all our bags were checked through. Rob had to pay for an extra bag as he had two. Since we had not gotten breakfast, we go something to eat at the airport
Half eaten muffin - breakfast in the airport

Half eaten muffin - breakfast in the airport


Immediately we got to our gate, we saw that the flight was delayed. It was coming from Atlanta and was late leaving Atlanta because of the hurricane yesterday
Inside the door of the handicapped toilet

Inside the door of the handicapped toilet

Washing the windows at BWI

Washing the windows at BWI

I saw them put the wheelchairs in a line to get people off that plane, and there were two Delta wheelchairs on the other side of the desk. So when I saw a wheelchair lined up to board, I went and sat in the Delta wheelchair
Selfies in the airport

Selfies in the airport


and Rob folded the scooter to gate check it. In the past, 95% of the time airport people freaked about the battery because it is a lithium ion battery. This time, they apparently did not care about the battery.

I'm going backward down the ramp in the wheelchair - Rob and Kathy following me

I'm going backward down the ramp in the wheelchair - Rob and Kathy following me

Rob and Kathy across the aisle from me.  I have a window seat - they only sat next to me once on this trip

Rob and Kathy across the aisle from me. I have a window seat - they only sat next to me once on this trip


The flight which was scheduled to take off at 11:13, finally lifted off at 1300. It was a full flight. They were asking people to check their bags because they wouldn't have enough room for all of them.

And after they got everyone on, the pilot announced that we couldn't leave yet because our luggage had not yet been loaded. Apparently two planes which were to have gone to NYC had not made it out last night (because of the debris/rain from Hurricane Ida) and the baggage men were behind. I saw them load the rollator.

Photo of Thomas Point Light on the BWI airport

Photo of Thomas Point Light on the BWI airport

Another lighthouse on the BWI airport wall

Another lighthouse on the BWI airport wall

taxiing from BWI

taxiing from BWI


They fed us a snack on the plane - I was a little queasy as I always am when I start a trip and I thought ginger would be good so I asked for ginger ale.
Ginger ale - with no real ginger

Ginger ale - with no real ginger

Snack- cookies which did have ginger in them

Snack- cookies which did have ginger in them

Landing in Atlanta a little after 1400

Landing in Atlanta a little after 1400

Welcome to Atlanta (from a wheelchair)

Welcome to Atlanta (from a wheelchair)

We were over an hour late landing. A lot of people were worried about making connecting flights. But we had plenty of time. Our plane didn't leave until 1800. And I had a wheelchair like I had wanted - the wheelchair people know the airports and can get you to where you need to be expeditiously.

Inside the elevator

Inside the elevator


The wheelchair guy took us on the train (A concourse to F concourse),

Train in Atlanta - A to F

Train in Atlanta - A to F

But first, since we had not had lunch, he said that we should get something to eat and suggested Chik-Fil-A because he said with a wheelchair, we could jump the line and there wasn't much in F concourse. (He was right) He got himself a drink too.
Limited Chik-fil-a menu in Atlanta airport

Limited Chik-fil-a menu in Atlanta airport


He left the wheelchair with me. So after the Zoom call with George (our travel agent for regular cruises who does a zoom call every Thursday and Sunday), we just waited around.

When we went to line up something very strange happened. They did not want us to take the battery out of the scooter and put it in the carry-on. They insisted that we gate check it with the battery in it. That never happens. Usually I have to plead with them to be able to have the battery on the plane at all.
Looking out the window before we take off from Atlanta

Looking out the window before we take off from Atlanta


This fight was late taking off too.
Taking off

Taking off


The seats were uncomfortable and the dinner was lame - a few pieces of cheese and some crackers,
Delta's idea of dinner

Delta's idea of dinner


some grapes and a couple of pieces of apple, and a piece of chocolate. We didn't get it until 2000. My seat mate brought her own dinner and started eating as soon as we took off. Yummy smelling salad and fruit which she ate for almost the entire flight. She put her earphones in and didn't talk. I got the earphone too and listed to two episodes of NCIS. Both on this flight and the earlier one, my screen had to be reset a couple of times because I would keep saying to "try again later"

When we got to Quito,
In the airport in Quito - every other seat blocked

In the airport in Quito - every other seat blocked


the wheelchair guy expedited things - we got all our luggage but the rollator and that was in a large luggage area. The Silversea rep said they had a rapid PCS test that would come back in a couple of hours and that was all we needed. We hadn't needed to get the tests on Wednesday. She took us on socially distanced bus (every other seat) to the hotel.
Temperature in Celsius on the bus to the hotel-it rotated to the time

Temperature in Celsius on the bus to the hotel-it rotated to the time

The lady who met us at the airport and took us to the hotel gave us a lot of directions as to what we should be doing. She said that Ecuador used American dollars, except for some of their small change - they have a $1.00 coin. Some of what she said was wrong - she said we just had breakfast included on Saturday and it was included both days. She also said that there would be a welcome letter in our room and forms to sign. But we could go for a Covid test starting at 7 tomorrow - Friday (Sept 3). We were to meet our guide at 9, so we thought that we should be up to do the Covid testing at 7

We were in rooms 509 and 511 - they are adjoining with a door between which is nice. I wanted to call Rob and Kathy on my cell but they don't have international calling so I thought I would call the on the room phone. Couldn't get a dial tone. I tried everything I could think of before looking to see if the darn phone was attached to the phone line, and it wasn't. Once I got that fixed I could phone.

I thought I needed to get up early so I asked for a 6:30 wake-up call. I finished charging the scooter, and I read the literature and typed an email and then I was very sleepy so I finally went to bed at 1:30 Quito time (2:30 EDT).

Posted by greatgrandmaR 19:10 Archived in Ecuador Tagged airport quito covid Comments (2)

A Day on the Equator - 3 September 2021

The Heights of Quito


View Crossing One Off the Bucket List in 2021 on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

I didn't sleep that well and if I got a wake-up call, it didn't wake me up. I woke about 7. The clock was on the other side of the bed and I couldn't see it well.
My room - TV, desk and part of the window curtain - also the scooter

My room - TV, desk and part of the window curtain - also the scooter

Looking into the bathroom

Looking into the bathroom

Window of my room

Window of my room


I got the temperature and it was 55 deg F so I decided to wear a skirt and top. That light blue denim skirt has NO POCKETS. I have to have pockets. Can't use that skirt anymore.

We were at the J. W. Marriott hotel
Hotel front desk

Hotel front desk


We went down to take the Covid test and I was still filling out forms for Snorkeling and Kayaking which basically said that if I had any problems, the only person to blame was me - Silversea would not be libel for anything. They wanted me to be able to walk a mile in 12 minutes or something like that. I answered honestly (which was a mistake) that I couldn't walk at all but I could swim a half mile.
Rob and me getting ready for our PCR test- me filling out the paperwork

Rob and me getting ready for our PCR test- me filling out the paperwork


After the Covid test, we went down to breakfast. There was no menu but you could order what you want. I got a poached egg and toast. There was a buffet and Rob also had pancakes.
Rob's breakfast pancakes

Rob's breakfast pancakes


The waiter also brought us some local delicacies to try.
My breakfast with a local delicacy on the left

My breakfast with a local delicacy on the left

We were finished breakfast by about 8:30 and went back to our rooms. I texted Francisco our guide that we were at breakfast and he said he was running a little late. Both Kathy and I were having some small intestinal problems so we said that was fine it would allow us more time to make a last bathroom trip.

Also I got my negative Covid test results back from the test I took Wednesday. First I got a confidential email from the doctor that I had to sign in to get, and then right after that Bob send me the photo of the form.
My negative Covid test sent by Bob by email

My negative Covid test sent by Bob by email

Hotel lobby

Hotel lobby


We went down about 9:25 and Francisco was there with a man from the hotel and he wanted to know if the scooter would fit in the back of the van. Which of course it would. He turned us over to Jorge to take the tour. Which initially I wasn't too thrilled about. But we got in the van, and drove away. I took photos as we drove
J. W. Marriott hotel

J. W. Marriott hotel

Red Bull sculpture near the hotel

Red Bull sculpture near the hotel

Typical wiring

Typical wiring

Houses on the hill

Houses on the hill

Pedestrian overpass

Pedestrian overpass

Flags

Flags

Driving in Quito

Driving in Quito

Mining operation making dust

Mining operation making dust

Supermarket

Supermarket


We drove a long way. Quito is a long thin city between mountain ranges. Like a river in the valley, it is about 25 miles long.

Mountains around quito

Mountains around quito

Taxi cabs

Taxi cabs


We saw a native tree which has silver on one side of the leaves and green on the other and he gave us many interesting facts about the city and Ecuador
Local tree with leaves that are silver on one side

Local tree with leaves that are silver on one side

Gas and diesel prices (in gallons)

Gas and diesel prices (in gallons)

Houses on the hill

Houses on the hill


After 45 minutes we got to the equator museum which had been recommended to us by many people, but it was called Museo de Sitio "Inti-Nan" and appeared to be made of cobblestones.
The cobblestone effect

The cobblestone effect


They charged us $4 each and gave me a ticket.
Museo "Inti-Nan"

Museo "Inti-Nan"

Llama

Llama

Museo sign

Museo sign

Entrance fee

Entrance fee

Years 1966-1979

Years 1966-1979

Equator museum

Equator museum


Then they said that in 15 minutes we could have an English tour. Still under the impression that I was at the wrong museum, I said that I didn't think I wanted to wait. So immediately a guy came up and said he could help us and do the tour right then.

I didn't think that this was the museum that I wanted to see. It was very hard on the scooter, because the paths were steep and sometimes slanted so that I was afraid I would fall over. Also the scooter continues to have a problem turning left.
Mural in the equator museum

Mural in the equator museum


First he went into all the rain forest creatures, boa constrictor, tarantula, anaconda. Then he talked about the shrunken head indigenous people.
Head shrinkers

Head shrinkers


I was not interested in that. The next place there was another tour there so we didn't see that.

Then he got into the equator part which we were really interested in.
Sundial from the scooter

Sundial from the scooter

Sundial

Sundial

Jorge our guide

Jorge our guide


He explained how the sun dial worked, and he demonstrated how the water swirled clockwise south of the line and counter clockwise north of the line, and if you had it right on the line it just went straight down.
Explanation of the Coriolis effect

Explanation of the Coriolis effect

Demonstrating that the water doesn't swirl on the equator

Demonstrating that the water doesn't swirl on the equator


We got our passports stamped, and he took our pictures.
Our photo at the equator

Our photo at the equator


Rob trying to stand and egg on one end

Rob trying to stand and egg on one end

Rob trying to stand an egg on end

Rob trying to stand an egg on end


Then they wanted the ticket back. I think that is the way that they keep track of their visitors. They were lucky that I remembered where I put it and could actually find it. If I had known that they would want it back, I would have taken a photo of it.

We went to the other, more modern looking museum which I think was municipal but Jorge said that there were no elevators so I would not be able to get up to the exhibits - I could only get up the roof. And since I figured I had seen what I came for, we didn't stop there.
Modern equator museum

Modern equator museum

Equator monument

Equator monument

Equator monument

Equator monument


We saw a number of statues, but I can't find any information about them.
Statue

Statue

Statue

Statue

Statue of a man

Statue of a man

Statue - bust of unknown person

Statue - bust of unknown person

Arch and statue

Arch and statue

Hummingbird - mural

Hummingbird - mural

Art mural

Art mural

Mural

Mural


I said we wanted to go up the Cable Car which Barb had mentioned and also the Rob and Kathy wanted to do the swings. So that's where we went next. We drove up the steep mountain (or volcano) and eventually we came to a toll booth and they wanted $3.00. On the way down - they wanted their ticket back at the toll booth.

Anyway the car climbed and climbed and eventually got to the cable car terminal - Jorge parked in a handicapped space. Kathy wanted to use the bathroom - She had to pay for toilet paper there. Women 25 cents - men 15 cents. Jorge turned me over to one of the people running the cable car and Rob went in and paid. He said he and Kathy were $8.50@, I was $6 and Jorge was $5.00.
Andalucia artwork at the cable car headquarters

Andalucia artwork at the cable car headquarters

Cable car instructions

Cable car instructions

What you should know (about the cable cars)

What you should know (about the cable cars)

Bottom building of the cable car operation

Bottom building of the cable car operation

Prohibited items (explosives, food, dogs)

Prohibited items (explosives, food, dogs)


The man I was with took me around the back way with the scooter, and eventually Jorge and Rob and Kathy came around the corner. We 'hopped' in. Jorge tried to fold the scooter but he didn't know how to fold the seat down. He still managed to get on the cable car with the scooter.
People getting off the cable car

People getting off the cable car

Cable car

Cable car


I was sitting with my back to the valley so I couldn't take many photos on the way up.
Going up in the cable car

Going up in the cable car


Cable car headquarters and an amusement park

Cable car headquarters and an amusement park

Looking down at Quito

Looking down at Quito

Going up the cable car

Going up the cable car

Antennas on the hill

Antennas on the hill

Going up in the cable car

Going up in the cable car


It had been hot and sunny at the equator museum, but now it was cold. At the top, we looked at the view
Mountains and volcanoes

Mountains and volcanoes

Volcano

Volcano

and then Rob and Kathy climbed up to the swings. I would have liked to do the swings which swing out over the edge of the mountain, but I knew I couldn't do the climb.
Rob on the Swing

Rob on the Swing

Kathy on the swings

Kathy on the swings

Swings

Swings


I wanted something hot to drink but the place in the shop at the top where you buy souvenirs didn't have an elevator to the 2nd floor restaurant. So I went out and on looking around, I saw a place that looked like it sold coffee and hot drinks. There was a step, and I was going to leave the scooter and step up, but the owner came out and showed us a way in without a step. I got the chai tea and what I thought was a roll like I had at breakfast, but it was really a long ham and cheese sandwich. Total was $4.00.
Clock on the wall says 10 of 10

Clock on the wall says 10 of 10


The clock in the shop said it was about 10 of 10, so I didn't realize that I was hungry for lunch. Really it was about 12:30 But I drank the tea and talked to Jorge. He had to train for a year to be a guide. (That's pretty common for guides need to be trained and licensed.) He said he had been a government worker and he got tired of that so he did the guide training in 2019 and then ... pandemic. He has a daughter 18, a daughter 23 and a son.
Kathy eating lunch

Kathy eating lunch

Rob eating lunch

Rob eating lunch


After Rob and Kathy came down from the swing about 1300, they got empanadas ($2.50@ which looked a bit like Cornish pasties) and we all got hot chocolate.$2.50@ I looked at the time and it was still 10 of 10. But it was really 1315.

On the way down I was in the same seat but facing the valley this time and could take photos.
View from the cable car

View from the cable car

Watch tower

Watch tower


View of Quito from the cable car

View of Quito from the cable car

Quito from the cable car

Quito from the cable car

Quito in the valley

Quito in the valley

Quito from the cable car

Quito from the cable car

Cleared area on the mountain

Cleared area on the mountain

Looking down at Quito

Looking down at Quito


Jorge pointed out that in the old section of town, there are a lot of church steeples. He said the old section was only about 2 miles long
Old town marked by church steeples

Old town marked by church steeples


When we got back to town, I said that I had done about as much as I could and asked that they drop me off at the hotel before they did the Old Town tour. So they did. I had a little trouble with the elevator - I would push the button and the elevator would be behind me and I wouldn't get there before it closed. The second time I tried it another woman got in with me. You have to swipe your room card to get the elevator to run. She swiped her card but the elevator wouldn't stop on 5 because she was going to the 8th floor. I had to swipe my card for the elevator to stop on 5.

I also had trouble getting in my room. Going out is no problem. I can pull the door to me and it will catch and stay open. But it is heavy and I couldn't open it far enough to 'catch' so I had to hold it at the same time as I was going in with the scooter.

Kathy and Rob went on the rest of the tour and I saw their photos when they got back
old town

old town


San Francisco square

San Francisco square

San Francisco square

San Francisco square


They climbed the winged Virgin Mary. ($1@)
Winged Virgin Mary

Winged Virgin Mary

volcano

volcano

Shops

Shops


and they had some kind of alcoholic ice cream ($2@). Ice cream shop

Ice cream shop


Alcoholic ice cream

Alcoholic ice cream

Phone booth

Phone booth


Originally the tour was to be $110 but it didn't include the equator museum. Jorge said it would be $140 and Rob paid him plus a tip - he said it was well worth it.

We were to have a night tour of the old town at night, but it started to rain and we decided not to go. Rob and Kath had already seen it and I decided I didn't need to.

Kathy was tired and didn't want to go out to dinner. There was one of those fractal squares QR code) which had the room service menu.
Room service menu

Room service menu

Munchies

Munchies


My phone refuses to read them. We both had potato soup, and I also had a vegetarian dish with cheese and eggplant. It was good, but I couldn't eat it all.
Potato soup

Potato soup

Cheese and eggplant vegetarian dish

Cheese and eggplant vegetarian dish


The directions we were given as to what we are doing tomorrow were somewhat confusing. We are to leave our checked bags outside the door by 9 pm with a yellow ribbon on them (we are in the yellow group) and a tag with our ship room number. These will be collected and inspected for contraband such as food, seeds, non-reef friendly sunscreen etc. and hermetically sealed (not really -they are just in a locked room). With Rob's help I packed. I put everything except my nightgown, the pants and top I am wearing tomorrow, my medicines and my computer into the checked bag.

Then we are to be in the lobby by 7:15 with our carry-ons to go to the airport and collect our bags to check them.

When we put the luggage out, we had to have them tape the yellow ribbon to the rollator box. Kathy was afraid of theft, but everyone on this floor is on our cruise and no one can get to this floor unless they have a room here (except for the employees of course).

Posted by greatgrandmaR 01:11 Archived in Ecuador Tagged cable-car equator quito ecuador Comments (6)

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