Monday, November 11, 2013

Day 9 - Sunday, Nov 10, 2013 - Castellon de la Plana, Spain

We got up early again and saw another great sunrise.  

Today we were visiting Castellon de la Plana for the maiden port visit for the Serenity.  The area is known for its oranges and is known as the Orange Blossom coast.  We were scheduled to go on a half day tour.  Upon debarking, we were met by a band playing local music, a booth set up to give us a taste of their absolutely wonderful orange juice, and also some free olive oil grown and bottled locally.  

We boarded our bus and headed down the coast.  They had quite lovely beaches.  Eventually we arrived at our first destination, a Carmelite monk distillery.  In this place, they process and bottle about two dozen different wines and liquors.  We learned a bit about the distillation process (what was interesting is how very small the facility really is) and then entered the tasting room.  In this room were about a dozen small casks of wine and liquors that varied in strength from 15% muscatel wine up through their famous 34% herb-infused liquor.  The idea was to take a shot glass and put a taste of the booze in your glass, try it and then move on.  As the guide joked, if you weren’t quite sure, then you could go back through all of the casks several times.  Note, this was at about 9:30 in the morning.

The guide pointed out that the typical worker gets up, has breakfast, goes to work and at 9, gets off at 10:30 and goes and has a second breakfast.  Then they return to work for an hour and a half till noon when they get off have lunch/dinner, a siesta/nap (no longer than 25 minutes - as any longer isn’t helpful) and then goes back to work.  We couldn’t quite figure it out, but it seems hard to understand how many hours in a day they work.  Note, each break involves drinking alcohol of some kind.
We then left and drove through the city and eventually made it to the Caves of Saint Joseph.  This has the longest, navigable underground waterway in Europe.  We arrived a bit before our scheduled start time and wandered to the top of the caves and took some pictures of the area around.  

Here Julie is standing in front of one of the boats.

Once our time came, we entered the cave and boarded the boats.  Each boat had a driver (who spoke no English) and you were not permitted to take pictures.  You were also supposed to be silent and enjoy the serenity of the cave.  The boats were kind of tippy, but as long as everyone stayed in their places it was fine.  Also, the cave was extremely low in places and we had to duck down while floating along.  The driver used a pushing stick to push us along.  After about a kilometer, we disembarked and walked on a path through the caves.  It was great, seeing all of the formations and minerals.  Our boat met us at the end of our walk and we boarded again for the journey back to the mouth of the cave.  It was truly a great experience.  We both highly recommend it.

On the map below, we entered on the right, went to the left on the river until we got to the brown part.  That is where we got out and walked inside of the cave.  We joined our boat back where the brown intersects with the blue and floated back down the blue part.

After the caves, we took a siesta driving back to the port.  We boarded the ship, had lunch and then went to see the movie “Now You See Me.”  A movie we had seen before, but it was terrific the first time (maybe better the second).  We hope they make a sequel.
As we got ready for dinner, we noticed that a group of local dancers had arrived at the side of the ship.  They serenaded us with music and dance while we waited to leave port.

For dinner, we decided to go to Tastes again.  Julie had pizza (again) and Bob had spaghetti.  It is really nice to get some simple “comfort” food to break up the fancy meals you get in the dining room.
After dinner, we stopped by the Crystal Cove where the Serenity orchestra (6 pieces) were playing dance music (In the Mood, Chattanooga Choo Choo, etc.).  They were wonderful and there was tons of dancing.
After dinner, we saw a show that started with the dance team doing three dances.  They are extremely talented.  Then the comic, JohnJoseph came on.  He was extremely funny, interacting with the audience and telling stories mostly about men and women and their differences.  It was hilarious.

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