MITSUGIRLYS EPIC CRUISE--2nd time around-1st from Port Canaveral
Day 5: Tortola
Day 4 on the ship: TORTOLA
This would be our very first time in Tortola and I was excited about it because I had read so many things about the baths and just knew that it was a great photo opportunity.
Overview of the shopping area that NCL provides info on:
Our hours in Tortola was going to be 8-6pm. More than enough time for us to do the Baths on our own, instead of using a ship excursion.
I set my alarm for 6:30am and I immediately headed out on the balcony to check the weather situation.
It looked like it was going to be a beautiful day and it felt warm already.
Since it was a port day, we did our usual and headed to the buffet upstairs with Kolin & Courtney. Kendra and family was up, but still getting ready.
I decided to stand in line for the omelet and it was yummy.
After breakfast, we headed back to our room to grab some last minute things (camera's charging and our beach bags).
The sun was starting to peak out and Sakari was excited about it being our first beach day.
We gathered everyone up and was headed off the ship at 8am and posing for the paparazzi that awaited us.
During my research, I knew that we needed to head out of the port and to the left down the street to catch the ferry.
Walking through the port area:
Notice the horrid pictures I was taking (there were many, but I'm only sharing these few due to the poor quality). Going from the cold ship inside to the heat outside makes the camera fog like crazy.
I would discover that (I think) between submerging my camera in water for the first time the day before and going from the cold a/c on the ship to the humid heat outside, everything between the camera and my added lens was fogging up. I have only encountered this problem once before and it was from the extreme heat and cold back and forth.
Now normally when I take pictures, I'm just a snap-happy fool. Walking and snapping. But for some reason, I looked down and noticed the horrid picture and decided to investigate along the way (a major task for someone like me who is usually leading the pack, trying to walk and carry things, and now taking my camera/lens apart). After discovering that both the camera lens and the fish-eye lens were fogged up, I would wipe them clean and continue.
We walked and walked and I wondered if we had missed something. It seemed like a pretty far walk to me. But, you know how you are traveling and it seems like you are never going to get there, but on the way back it always seems closer and less time?
We stopped once to ask a local where the ferry was and they pointed down the street and said "go down there where you see the red roof". You can see this red roof in the picture to give you an idea of how far it was from the point that we had stopped to ask for directions.
Once we made it there, we purchased our "tickets" and our "wristbands", which would include these plastic "passes" that we were to give to the ferry people and the wrist bands indicated that we would get the open aired bus transportation to the baths once we got off the ferry.
The price was $30 for round trip transportation on the ferry IF you used the same ferry company (which we did) and we used Speedy's. Transportation from the ferry to the baths is $4 pp each way. So, add another $8 for each pass and you have paid $38 total per person for ferry and bus passes.
Children are cheaper for the ferry at $20 round trip and $28 total for their pass.
This shows the distance we were from the ship.
The ferry was to arrive at 9am. We were sitting on the steps of the building where we bought the passes and talking. Then I thought...wait a minute, we should probably be over on the side where the ferry will pull up or we'll never know it's there.
We headed over that way and indeed, the ferry was pulling up and there was already a bunch of people in the area behind the rails.
The ferry was huge and everyone piled in. There were plenty of seats left over and it was 2 stories tall (with both being enclosed).
We sat down by the "A/C" unit, which in this case stands for "almost cool" and it would be a very hot ride over.
The ferry pulled out at 9:05.
Goodbye my beauty with the fancy top hat. We'll see you soon.
Kendra's favorite past-time hobby is sleeping of course, and that's what she did on the way over.
I believe by the end of the ride, everyone was asleep but me and Sakari. We were just too excited....and hot. Just too hot to sleep.
We arrived at 9:44am, so the ride took exactly 39 minutes to get there for those wondering.
Everyone woke up and got their added nap for the day so no cranky arses today please!
Kendra has that look of "someone just woke me up!"
This was the long pier we had to walk down.
They had gates up with shuttle buses outside there, but we were able to catch a bus that was within the pier area.
Outside the gates, I spotted this of course....but there was no time to stop darnit (since we caught the bus inside the gates, we were already moving). I guess I would be forced to pay the overpriced amounts at the Baths.
These are the shuttle buses:
Along the way...
We have arrived!!!!!!!!!
It took us exactly 8 minutes to arrive. Those of you that wonder how the heck I am estimating an exact time....I take a picture of my watch as we pull out and another picture when we arrive. So yes, these are exact times when we went (and of course can very depending on traffic I suppose).
We really wasn't sure where to go or what to do, so we just followed some of the crowd, which was headed toward a building.
We seen a line forming and I told everyone to wait there and I went up further to investigate and found that there was a charge to get in to the baths. Ok, obviously I missed this part and had not estimated it or told the family about it. Maybe I did read about it and forgot or I had totally not heard of this...either way I was oblivious to it and the family let me know their disappointment in my lack of knowledge. LOL
So we are standing in line and a lady and her family, that was behind us, kinda moved up and around us. Um, ok... I said "I believe this is the line" and her reply was "Yea, I'm not sure"....Um, ok again. So my reply was "I'm not asking you IF it's the line, I'm telling you it IS the line and you just went around us". People are so rude sometimes. She just continued on and acted like she didn't hear me and got her tickets. Whatever, life is too short (and obviously this lady and her family thinks it's even shorter for them) to worry about an overly-excited family wanting to pass us up that I didn't press the issue. We were next in line, behind her, and we were all going to get there around the same time anyhow. Geesh. So if you are the lady in this picture, I'm outing you for being rude.
We purchased our tickets...but no one collected them. This must be the reason that a lot of people just continued around this window and didn't purchase tickets. I have a souvenir for my scrapbook now and being the honest person I am, I would have still stopped to buy tickets.
So time to start our journey. I was very aware of the terrain that we would encounter. I know others have said that you should wear water shoes or something that is good for walking and also for the water once you get there. Honestly, Sakari has outgrown her water shoes, the hubbys started coming apart with the inserts not staying in, and I can only find one of mine. We haven't been using water shoes for quite some time now. So, I wasn't about to purchase new shoes just for this trip. I grew up walking barefooted everywhere I could (no, I'm not a country girl but just don't like the restriction of shoes if I don't have to) and Sakari is the same way. So I knew that both of us would be ok with the walk. I could run on gravel if needed. My feet are tough.
Everyone else had flip-flops on and the guys just wore their tennis shoes.
I took this picture as we were heading in on the trails, but really didn't pay attention to it and didn't realize this was a restaurant.
This hike honestly felt like when we go to visit a place here in Ohio called "Old Mans Cave", but it was on a smaller scale. So, not hard for us at all.
Remember...going down is always easy for me.
We were in the lead and I'm not sure what happened to the kids. They were no where in sight. At that point I made an executive decision to stop and allow them time to catch up. Guess who passed us? The rude lady and their family. I guess getting in front of us didn't have any benefits to you did it? Then....along came a HUGE crowd, which ended up being a cruise ship tour. Oh just great. They were now ahead of us.
Finally, out came the family.
Kendra made her entrance in the "usual Kendra fashion style"
It didn't take too long before I stopped to take my shoes off for the walk. Ahhh, yes...I felt better now and didn't have to deal with sand going in between my feet and flip flops.
We continued on.
Notice Sakari has now also removed her shoes.
We have arrived!!!! Potty stop.
The first area you arrive to on the beach is small with a lot of rocks. To the left of it is the "baths" and to the right is another bigger beach area.
The waves were really crashing and it made me a little nervous.
Here is the bigger area and where I would see plenty of people heading out with their snorkels.
We immediately found a nice spot on the sand and under the trees for some shade. Billy was approached by several local chickens, which of course made him nervous.
With the boys camped out under the shade, the girls headed out into the water to explore. I felt bad that I did not allow Sakari to bring her mermaid tail or fin because I knew that this was more of a snorkeling area with tons of rocks and I didn't want her outfit to get tore up. Then we also didn't want to carry any more than we HAD to, due to walking in the baths area, which involved climbing and such.
So off we went to snorkel and explore.
Immediately I discovered some rather large ocean surgeon fish and blue tangs.
This blue tang (which is considered in the intermediate stage because it has the yellow tail fin and blue body. Adults=blue bodies and juveniles have the yellow body. Intermediates are mixed as they grow into adults) was rather large. The rock it was swimming by was huge and we could stand on it, if that gives you any indication of his size.
The water really was rough and it really made me nervous with Sakari swimming with no fins. She does an excellent job, but even better with fins.
I noticed someone had one of those sea scooters there. Brayden did not bring his this time around. It's just too heavy and bulky to bring each time.
A bluehead wrasse. They are nosy creatures.
A lot of times the water was really fairly calm. Then other times it would get so rough with waves crashing and coming really far up on the beach.
After awhile, the kids started talking about food. It was still morning!! I informed them that we were not staying here all day and still need to head into the baths. According to my pictures and times on them, we had actually only been there for about 45 minutes at the most, but it sure felt like a lot longer. So, we started gathering all of our things up at that point to take the long journey.
I would take a few additional photos of the area before heading into the baths.
Notice they are not as crisp, clear and colorful as before? Here goes the fog again. Remember I had just came from the heat, into the water for snorkeling, then returned to the heat.
I had read up a lot on the baths. I had seen beautiful pictures. I found a website that showed a "map" and directions of what you would see when you are in there.
I printed it off and took it to Kendra to laminate so that we could have it out and carry it around while we were in there.
THIS DOES NOT BELONG TO ME AND IS COPYRIGHTED TO D. R. MCCLINTOCK. All credit goes to that person and you can find this info HERE. You can also read up on the history of the baths there and a lot of other awesome information.
So here are what the maps look like from that page:
With the directions:
So I was prepared to see it all and know what I was seeing...or so I thought.
We headed toward the entrance and the "littles" walked between the two boulders and the adults had a blank stare at me. "Yes, you have to walk through that!" I scolded them. Ok, so we were not off to a good start.
Those that were skinny made it fine. Those that are not so skinny anymore...did not and had to crawl...namely myself and the hubs and he was not happy.
Now normally we carry 2 beach bags with us. The kind you put on your shoulder. But I had read to "pack lightly" and it was easier to carry a back pack instead. So the hubby grabbed one out of his store prior to leaving and everything was in there. But when you factor in 3 beach towels, our mask, and then everyone's shoes were now in there (then small items like money and cards), then it became pretty "fluffy" and got stuck on some of the rocks that you had to crawl through. Oops. He was not happy to say the least.
The kids kept going and every so often looking back at me saying "is this it? Is this the right way?" How do I know, you guys are rushing so fast that I can't even tell where we are on the map at this point.
Now I'm going to stop right here and tell you that I'm super bummed that my pictures absolutely, positively SUCK that I took while I was in there. Like super suck. I'm so upset. I couldn't believe what I was seeing when I got home. One of the most beautiful nature-filled places and I screwed up. I wasn't checking the pictures and they were icky and the camera and lens was busy fogging up and looking very drab and blown out and not clear and ....I'm just heart broken. Sigh.
So, these pictures that are either a little blurry or foggy have been "doctored" a little because I just couldn't stand the way they looked. I had to find a way to add in some color and I still consider a majority of them to be not worthy of a share (and I didn't share a lot of them because they just couldn't be salvaged). But you will be able to tell the "icky" ones from the ones after I decided to wipe the lens. There's a big difference.
I'm hanging my head in shame now...but pressing on...just like I did in the baths.
Every where you went in here, there's sand, there's rocks, there's water, there's slippery-sand and water covered steps and ropes to climb rocks. I found it to be a rather dangerous place actually.
There were a few places that were a bit of a tight squeeze. Man I really need to lose this weight.
At times the "littles" were so far ahead of us that I started to speed up. The "bigens" were way behind and moaning. I yelled at the "littles" that they needed to stop and wait for everyone else. Once the "bigens" caught up, I had almost wished that I would have just kept going with S & B so that I didn't have to hear all the "moaning" (which is using the "nice" word for, well, you know, what they were really doing).
Then we came to this...oh.my.word! My life was flashing before my eyes and I reflected on my mishap of falling on the concrete in St Maarten and breaking my hand. I just knew my history had not been good in the past and I was actually really worried, but grateful that I was not carrying anything other than my weight and my camera. (Poor hubs).
You were required to pull yourself up this huge rock (that was wet of course from everyone walking in the water prior to getting there) and ....well, good luck to ya!
Ok, ok, everyone is REALLY not happy with me now. The look on Courtneys face said it all and I just hung my head in shame.
Meanwhile the "littles" where having a blast and swimming every chance they could (if you can tell in this horrid picture).
I have absolutely no idea how Kolin got up there, but it was the first time that I seen a smile from someone.
Am I the only one that notices that everyone is carrying their phones? Are they crazy?
I wanted to mention that the steps they have at this place are built really weird. Like the steps are super small...almost like a 2x2 and they situated almost underneath each other in places...think more like a ladder that is tilted. It would have been so much easier if they had spread them out a little. It made for very difficult climbing. Since they were wet, I took it super super slow on them. One foot up, next foot up to that same level. Rinse and repeat.
♪ Just keep swimming, just keep swimming ♫...who needs to walk?
A little treacherous after you get past the steps too.
Moan and groan, moan and groan, say cheese and smile for the camera. (It was fake, trust me).
Ok, let's get a good picture for back home and make everyone think we're having a good time here.
We came to this sign that said "Devils something or other" and told us to go that way.
But wait...I'm looking at my map and we hadn't went all the ways that it said to go to see all the neat stuff on it. We needed to go back! I want pictures of the things it said on the map. We must go back! Oh EM Gee. The kids had a fit. I'm showing them this map of everything in the baths and we hadn't been there and I wanted to see it. We went back and forth about what to do and then they said "Let's just go back".
We came out to this little cove area and checked it out.
She was making me nervous!
We headed back the way we came...twisting and turning, climbing and slipping, up the steps, down the steps, over to the rope and so on.
We came to this area where there were steps we needed to go back up. There were people coming down...and more people, and more people, and there was a major traffic jam. They were not stopping. Everyone was getting pissed and we weren't the only ones trying to go that way.
At one point a girl coming down the steps said "You guys are going in the wrong direction. You might want to turn around". I told her "we missed some things and are going back". She said "If you came from this direction, you didn't miss anything and are supposed to be going the other way." I told her about my map and all the areas we missed. She said "Let's see this map". I showed her and she started laughing. She said "Where the heck did you get that? That map is wrong and looks like a kid drew it". I told her it was off a website and it was to make sure that you didn't miss anything. She said "Well, I'm telling you that it is wrong and I have done this many times and you need to turn around" and she trotted off with her group laughing.
NOW EVERYONE WAS PISSED AT ME. I ask them what to do. They just stood there. Another girl in the line behind us was like "Ok, I've had enough, this line is going to stop and I'm going to make sure they do! It's our turn to go and they are not letting up!" She ran around us and CLIMBED the rocks and darted underneath a huge bolder. She got to the top and said "Ok, come on!" But by that time, the very last person coming down the steps was at the bottom and there wasn't a line now. LOL
So we marched up the steps and I headed on down the path. All of a sudden I hear Courtney yell. She started screaming and crying and I hear her yelling and Kolin yelling something about her phone and carrying it and she was yelling about she wasn't about to let anything happen to it because all her pictures were on it and blah blah blah. Then I hear "YOUR MOM" and a lot of "griping" (using that word loosely).
Oh my. I was blamed for everything bad that has ever happened in her life at that point. It was all my fault. I learned that she had fallen on the slippery steps and fell onto the rock below in the water and hit her head on the steps as well. Man down. She was hurt and pissed and I was pissed that she blamed me for her fall.
I held back my anger and hurt and went off in an entirely different direction than the path and just acted as if I was taking pictures as they passed me by.
I hear them go by and was told she said she was packing when she got home and leaving Kolin. Yea, she's a bit of a drama queen at times. I understand she's hurt, but she takes it to the extreme.
I hear her yelling "This would have never happened if it wasn't for your mom. I will never do anything like this again. If I wanted to be in caves and climb rocks, I'd go to Old Mans Cave. I'm never going back in there and I'll just head back to the ship. You guys can be stupid and follow her back in there if you want." Oh.my.word!
Ok snap a picture of this pretty rock. Snap a picture of that pretty rock. I'm keeping my cool at this point and trying to calm myself down knowing that I was about to blow my stack and pull her out to the water and drown her. (j/k of course).
The hubby and Sakari were the only ones standing with me at this dead end, staring at a rock, and snapping pictures. They told me to come on out and we'd go back to the beach and hang out for a few and give it another try later.
Amazingly enough, our spot under the tree in the shade was still available and everyone threw their things down there and sat. Courtney with tears in her eyes and me shooting red flames from mine as I glared off toward the water.
She wouldn't talk. I wouldn't talk. It was uncomfortable and as much as I wanted to confront her and advise her that I did nothing to "make her fall", I decided that I would get up and walk away instead and go explore on down the other way on the beach. I had to do something to get away and keep my cool.
Sakari walked with me. She knows when I'm upset and she's so loving and caring that she makes everything all better. I don't think she wanted me to be alone.
I decided enough time had passed by and we would head back to reassess the situation.
I noticed the hubby was at the beach starring off into the water...socks and all.
I made it back and noticed Courtney was out in the water by herself. I guess she needed some time to herself as well.
Then all of a sudden Billy got up and headed toward the water...wait what? If you have read any of my previous reviews, Billy doesn't go in the water...hardly ever. He's very afraid of fish. All fish bite. All fish are bad. They are going to get him. LOL The one and only time we were able to convince him to come out into the water was when we were in Bermuda last year and the kids were playing and jumping the waves. He adventured out and was immediately.....I'll let you guess....BIT BY A FISH. I kid you not. He came out of the water with a bloody finger. Seriously! I couldn't believe it.
So...this was funny to watch him head to the water.