Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Goldring Travel's 2016 Culinary & Cultural (Food & Wine) Cruise on the Seabourn Quest - Part III (Torquay, Pokémon Go and Little Things)

Arriving onboard the Seabourn Quest was, as always, a simple and quick affair even though I did not have three things:  my Cruise Documents, my Luggage Tags and, more importantly, my girlfriend (who had said cruise documents and luggage tags).  Unfortunately, due to a rather disagreeable boss, at the last minute my girlfriend wasn't be able to join me at the start of the cruise...accusing me of interfering with his business. (Wait a minute, this is my business and he is interfering with it…and worse!) She, of course, had the Cruise Documents and Luggage Tags...and will be joining me later.

Seabourn Quest's Owner's Suite 601- Forward on Deck 6
My home for the next 16 days
 More important to you than my personal issues are two things: (1) If, for some reason (even if not as strange as mine) you arrive to your cruise without your documents or tags, you and your luggage will make it onboard; and (2) If you miss the ship you can still board at a later port (just keep Seabourn advised).  All you have to do upon arrival is tell the porter your suite number (he’ll put a tag on each bag) and the check-in agent your name (with electronic documents it is a very simple process). 

That said, let’s get this cruise going!

This cruise I am in Suite 601, an Owner’s Suite located on Deck 6, overlooking the bow, starboard side.  While the suite is beautiful, there have been complaints about it being noisy.  I will, over the course of the next 16 days, give you an honest appraisal of this issue.  In the end we might find this suite to be a gem or a to be avoided…which, of course, may vary person to person. 

Seabourn Quest Owner's Suite 601
As we are in England the weather may be a challenge from time to time and for our sailaway it was, with the wind blowing and the seas a bit rough, forcing the sailaway party into The Club.  I decided to miss it and, instead, supervise the Seabourn Quest’s maneuvering through Dover’s breakwater and then begin organizing various events, both onboard the ship and off.

I was invited to dine with the Bridge Lecturers.  I found this interesting for two reasons:  I was not aware that Seabourn had lectures on bridge and clearly I would have nothing in common with them.  (My only memory of bridge is my grandmother supposedly babysitting me at the beach club while she played bridge or mahjong for hours.)   However, my polite dinner turned into a rather curious one as the husband of this couple is a staunch Libertarian and a strange view of politics overtook the evening.  (Enough on that topic!)

Seabourn Quest anchored off Torquay, England
The next day brought us to Torquay, England; a small seaside town in Devon with not a lot to see, but one which provided me with one of those “Little Thing” moments and a bit of “Don’t look at technology as your enemy…not matter how silly you may think it is!”.  But in order to get to the Little Thing I had to embrace the technology.  Let me explain.

Toquay, England's Ferris Wheel
At present there is a new game called Pokémon Go, based upon the children’s cartoon and card craze about capturing and fighting with “pocket monsters” of about a decade ago (which I live through with my now 17 and 20 year old children).  Pokémon Go is a phone app that basically has you walking all over the place trying to find and capture these pocket monsters with Pokéballs that you can either purchase or obtain a Pokéstops.  As literally millions of young and old(er) are playing the game I started fooling around with it as something I could talk about with my kids…rather than go “That’s stupid” and be excluded from their enthusiasm.  Through that I learned from them that there are Pokémon in Europe that you cannot get in the United States so, being the good dad that I am, I would take some of my free time to find these unique Pokémon…and make my kids jealous.

Now, the key here is the Pokéstops! You see Pokéstops are somehow (and I have no idea how) located at historical and other sites of interest.  So if you look for Pokéstops you find, actually are lead to, many interesting places and, of course, get a bit of information on what that particular building or piece of art or socially important location is about.  And the amazing thing is that it seemingly works in literally every little town there is.  (I wish I knew what database this game uses.)

Now, back to Torquay.  There was no tourist map or really much information available if you just wanted to walk around town, so I figured I would take a stroll and find a few Pokémon along the way.  Well, this is how I made my travel discovery…and I had a good bit of fun and a great walk.  There is a church that sort of quietly dominates Torquay, but is up the hill a bit.  Following my Pokémon app, I came to St. Joseph’s church and as I was claiming my Pokéballs, an elderly woman excited said, “Would you like to come in and see our church.”  I mean what was I going to say?  No?  So in I went.  And it was a charming Little Thing moment!

St. Joseph's Church quietly dominates
the Torquay, England "skyline"
As I entered I was looked upon as an honored guest who was about to be shown the most important thing.  Which woman was going to do the honors?  It was decided the woman who brought me in would and my short, but sweet, tour began.  As we approached the alter I asked how large the congregation was.  She responded “Twenty”.  I said that was surprising small…and then a booming voice came out of nowhere: “PLUS THE CHOIR!”  I turned around and a charming woman hidden behind the choir’s seating was there with a big smile.  She obviously led the choir.  They were so proud, funny and it made my “travel” experience for the day.  It was a Little Thing I shall always remember…even if the name of the town, Torquay, may not.

I then continued my stroll, stopping for a lamb pasty (sort of like a large English empanada filled with lamb and potatoes), and – at another Pokéstop - came across an old synagogue (though no longer identified as one).  It caused me to take a moment, do some research on my phone and learn of the relatively brief and sad Jewish history of Torquay; now essentially devoid of any Jews, so the former synagogue is now converted into meeting space and residences.

The former Synagogue  in Torquay, England 
After a bit of stroll, being led to such things as a memorial for those who departed from Torquay for the invasion of Normandy, it was time to head back to the Seabourn Quest for, among other things, a few meetings to organize some Goldring Travel Culinary & Cultural Cruise events and my first of a few dinners at The Grill by Thomas Keller. 

I will write separately about my overall dining experiences, but as a “tease” what I will say is that the cuisine was excellent to my taste, though it seems consistently, not to my Australian dining partner’s, but the service was troublesome…though my second dining experience was everything I had hoped and wished this new dining venue to be.  

There isn't anything ordinary about chicken
at The Grill by Thomas Keller
Trust me:  Order the chicken!!!! 

But that is the subject of another article.

If you would like more information or would like to book your Seabourn cruise, please email Goldring Travel or give us a call.

United States:       (877) 2GO-LUXURY
United Kingdom: 020 8133 3450
Australia:             (07) 3102 4685
Everywhere Else: +1 732 578 8585


Or email me at eric@goldringtravel.com.