Our boat is the big one with the pretty lips.Believe it or not, Alexander the Pool Shark and I get up at 7:30 and "train our bodies" until 9:10, at which time I go for my first and last massage on the AIDA Sol--because it turns out to be a lame massage. With all my aches and pains, I've had hundreds of massages in my life--in fact one, sometimes two, a week for the last year. So I know massage. I've had massages in gyms, massages in wellness hotels, massages from Bulgarian massage therapists, massages from Thai torturists, massages from Germans, Italians, Peruvians, New Yorkers, massages from college roommates. Um.
"I have a problem with my shoul--"
"This isn't going to be a medical massage," the woman dressed (at least) like she could give a good massage says. She says it like she's said it a hundred times to make sure no one expects her to be good.
This should be my cue to leave, but I don't. I'm nothing if not optimistic. She does move her hands over my muscles, but it feels more like a person consoling me after the death of a puppy than someone interested in delivering me from my pain. The 40 minutes is certainly not worth the "special" price of 80 dollars. You live; you learn. And sometimes you do not get what you pay for.
At around 11:00, we hike through the port of Funchal, Madeira to . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . McDonald's. Yes, McDonald's. Why? you ask with a scowl. I see the scowl. I don't feel guilty about the trip to McDonald's. They have free Wifi. See, on board the AIDA ships, Wifi costs 180 dollars a week. At McDonald's it's free. Say what you like about Maceedees, they have free Wifi and . . . wait for it again . . . now gluten-free bread! You won't believe this either, but it's true.
For the first time in eight years, I have a burger at McDonald's. Yes I do. Oh, yes I do. It is not horrible.
Afterward, we walk to the park on the hill overlooking the port. It's a nicely manicured park with lots of tourists and Madeirans enjoying the rare bit of sunshine. Here are a few impressions of Funchal, Madeira:
Have you ever been on a cruise? I've always associated the entertainment on cruise ships with mediocre singers and corny shows that appeal to the sort of crowd who's a little bit country and not very rock&roll at all. The first show--the signature show--"Fata Morgana" (mirage in English) is ridiculous. Maybe there is a plot, maybe there isn't. There are lots of costumes and effects and one soprano killing me with her razor-like screech right below the pitch. I don't like it; I want to leave, but Alexander the Pool Shark is tapping his foot and humming along with the singers. I look around. Other people are staring at the stage in wonder. Really? I hail the waiter and get another caipirinha.
The Theatrium from Deck 11 -- where the magic happens
This post is shaping up into the post where I dissed AIDA, but I promise to say really nice things later in the week about the shows. There are actually some mighty fine actors on board and at least one good singer.
Tomorrow Day 4 of my Eight Days in the Canary Islands.
I must be off,
Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), available from Amazon Anything.