By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 2/23/2019
Occurred: 1/5/2008
Topics/Keywords: #Ensenada #Mexico #MonarchoftheSeas #RoyalCaribbean #Travel Page Views: 3945
All about the day we visited Ensenada, Mexico.

Cruise Day 2

Zachary woke us early, but then decided to remain in bed while Michael and I went to breakfast. At 8, Zach probably spends too much time closely supervised by one or more of the five adults with whom he lives; so it was a big deal for him to be left alone even for a half hour.

We ate in the casual buffet restaurant called Windjammers. I loved the decor. The restaurant is on Deck 11, all the way forward, and has full length windows all the way around. I had the "omelet of the day" (which was very much like the omelets of all the other days), a big mess of bacon, and some guava juice that was delicious. Michael had much the same, plus a generous sampling of the pastries. As we ate we watched the rain-shrouded hills of Ensenada slide into view.

While eating, Michael explained that he hadn't slept well at all. His sinuses were bothering him and he was exhausted. Finally he decided he would just sleep in for a few hours, since we didn't have any specific plans for excursions anyway.

So I dropped him off at our stateroom, sent Zach to go—alone!—back to his room for a shower and to get dressed, and called Surya to offer to escort her to breakfast. While there Karen and Zach joined us and watched as we tied up at the Ensenada pier.

Zach and Paul wait for the ship to tie up.

I had stated my intention to work out at the gym each day and Zach wanted to join me. So we put on shorts and tanks and found the health club. The treadmills were arranged along the curve of windows so that each walker could look out while exercising. That was certainly an improvement over most health clubs, where all you can see is a TV set! Zach and I found adjacent treadmills and I showed him how to adjust his. That kid ran at 5 mph for fifteen minutes, barely breaking a sweat! Oh, to be 8 again.

Surya has left the ship.

Despite the rain, Barbara and Peter decided they wanted to explore at least one of the Ensenada museums. Ensenada is a pre-Columbian town that was "discovered" by Spanish missionaries, so its history is long and varied. I hadn't planned to go ashore at all, especially in the rain; but I relented at the last minute and off we went, leaving Michael still trying to sleepDepartures were easily accomplished, though the ramp was a tad steep. We had to pass through a duty-free junk store in order to go into town, though. Barbara had supplied us all with about $25 in leftover pesos from previous trips, so Zach especially was anxious to buy something. On his previous trip he'd purchased a marionette; so when he found one here, he had to have it. He also bought a little display set of souvenir swords—all for less than $25.Vans were waiting to take us into town for $2 a person ($1 for the return trip). That dropped us off into the center of a town that, frankly, didn't seem to have a lot to offer.

Barbara's map indicated a short walk of a few blocks to the museo; but apparently the map was compressed so that it turned out to be a longer walk than anticipated. We were all concerned about Surya and her walker but she did fine.

Had I been alone, I would probably have skipped the museum and taken a bus tour to La Bufadora, a natural phenomenon on the coast in which ocean waves are funneled into great geyser-like plumes every 30 seconds or so. But my purpose would have been to take pictures; and on such a gray day I doubted the plumes would stand out enough to photograph. Besides, the opportunity to stroll in the rain in a foreign city was irresistible. The pictures I got in Paris of the Eiffel Tower poking into the clouds were stunning and absolutely unique. So I set off with the others in search of the museum.

Three Heads Are Better Than One.

On the way we passed this display. Known as Three Heads Park, this civic plaza features giant, gold painted busts of three of Mexico's most revered heroes: Miguel Hidalgo, Benito Juarez and Venustiano Carranza. The reflections on the wet cement make it look so much more interesting than they'd appear on a sunny day, I think. As we walked, we could see our ship tied to the pier with its distinctive aft saucer.

Our ship had come in.

Once I got into the groove of the local economy, I found the place to be not unattractive. Actually, it reminded me in many ways of a downscale St. Augustine, also a centuries old city with much Spanish influence. An important way of gauging a city is to note how locals drive. Mexico, of course, is known for crazy drivers, but I didn't find them to be crazy at all. And when we wanted to cross the street, a woman driving an SUV stopped to let us go. You don't see that happening very often in Phoenix. Eventually we reached the Riveria del Pacifico, a former nightclub and casino that now serves as the "Civic, Social and Cultural Center of Ensenada.

Flowers at the Civic Center.

Locals insist that Al Capone once owned the joint; there is no doubt that it drew a big American crowd during Prohibition. It also housed troops during the Second World War. Now, in addition to serving as a civic center, it also houses a museum.

The Civic Center

Unfortunately—or not—the ticket taker was at lunch when we arrived so the place was officially closed. But a very nice man took us on a private tour of the building, with its dark, nicotine-stained woods and ornate grillwork-in-plaster walls. There was enough there to capture the attention of even Zachary, who has an interest in architecture. And the chandelier in the ballroom had all of us captivated.

There were shops in small buildings located behind the former casino, and there was supposed to be an Italian restaurant there, as well. The buildings were built to match the casino's Moorish style. Mary got a series of pictures that I made into a panorama.

Panoramic view of shops behind the Civic Center.

Alas, the Italian restaurant was also closed. (Things being closed that should have been open was to become a keynote for this trip. Which only meant we got to do other things we hadn't planned for.) So Peter signaled a taxi van, and we returned to the ship for a free lunch.

Free lunches always taste better, anyway.

I checked on Michael, who was sleeping so soundly he didn't even stir when I opened the door. Besides, by now it was late afternoon. So I took a nap of my own, waking just in time to dress for dinner. This was Formal Night, an old sailing tradition that survives everywhere, I understand, except cruises leaving from Texas, where the residents just don't hold with that kind of froufrou. Personally, I hate it. But Karen and Barbara both gushed enthusiastically and Peter offered to loan me a jacket (which would only work if I didn't even try to button it shut. So I put on my good cream trousers, black shirt, and Yoda tie, and the jacket, and proceeded with Michael (who got dressed but looked awful because he felt so bad) to "Vincent's", the main dining room.

The ladies, on the other hand, looked ravishing. And even Zachary cleaned up pretty good, though he didn't look too happy about it.

There had been some talk of going to karaoke this night, an activity I had enjoyed immensely on our previous cruise. But Michael still felt sick, and Mary and Karen were tired, and Barbara and Peter wanted to participate in a Salsa Dancing class. So Michael and I went to bed.

Next: A Day at Sea!