We meandered the vessel throughout the night and finally made our way to bed. When we awoke, we were in a foreign land. No, it wasn't like we woke up in OZ (we knew this from the lack of munchkins and no yellow brick road). We were in Ensenada.Bienvenido a Mexico!!
This is quite possibly one of the larges flag poles I have ever seen. Ensenada, Mexico is no small town. With a population over 400,00, there are quite a few people living there. Their chief forms of industry are fishing, tourism, and wineries. Ensenada, or the area around it to be more precise, produces about 70% of the countries wines. And in recent years, they have started exporting to other countries making Mexico a formidable opponent to the major wine producers around the world (heads up, Napa).Our first order of business was to hop on a bus and take a tour of two of the local wineries. The countryside was very scenic, although is was fairly sparse in certain areas. Our first stop was Casa Pedro Domeqc. The name Domecq is attached to various alcohols that come Mexico, most notably Kahlua (a coffee liqueur). Now, however, there is a large assortment of other drinks, including wine. About 45 minutes from the cruise ship port we found our first stop. We saw a room filled with 100's of barrels of aging wine, then wound our way into the cave.
Lining the walls of the cave were hundred upon hundreds of bottles of wine. I assume for the purpose of aging, once they are bottled and out of the barrel (I guess?). The cave is the ideal place for aging, as it is a cool, dry place. And the temperature is easily controlled. Topside it was somewhere in the 70's. In the cave it was about 65. This temperature is maintained year round. Of course, they went to some great lengths to make the presentations of their beverages. At one point, I thought I had spotted a cave gnome. As it turns out, after closer inspection of the photo, its only Wife, hiding behind an old wine press. After leaving Domeqc, we found ourselves on the terrace of L.A. Cetta, another winery. From there we saw some wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. And of course, every rich and wealthy family, as Cetta is a family business, could be happy without their very own bull fighting area? Once off the terrace, we wandered around Cetta with tour guide, however, he seemed more interested in getting to the wine tasting than he was telling us about the winery. So we were whisked through the winery and off to the tasting room.
One thing of note, soil that is good for grape vines is also good for olive trees. And here we tasted a wonderful olive oil, and some very tasty olives. These we brought back with us. Beyond that, Cetta was not as interesting or informative as Domeqc. Too bad.
We returned to the ship and dropped off our souvenirs, then took a shuttle back to the main shopping area of Ensenada. Anyone who has ever been shopping in a tourist-type town in Mexico should know the drill here. Most of the stores carry similar, if not identical items. So it doesn't take very long to walk into a few shops and feel like you have seen it all. The streets are filled with vendors, some more pushy than others. The worst was this insanely cute little girl, probably about 8 years old.
She immediately honed in on Wife and I. Trying to peddle some gum and other silly trinkets I would never buy. I quickly showed off my prowess in using the native language and said, "No, gracias." The little girl quickly replied, "Si." It wasn't a question, it was a statement of fact. The gift of tongues quickly kicked in, and this young lady and I got in to a heated verbal debate about whether or not I was going to purchase something.
"No," I said.
We were now across a street and down a block and she was relentless in her press for a purchase. I, being determined not buy anything from her. Wife and I quickly came up with a compromise, as we feared she might be joining us for dinner if we didn't shake her soon. We pulled a couple bucks from Wife's pocket and handed the little girl a dollar. She beamed with delight, said "Gracias," and was on her way.
I felt like the victor here, as I did not buy anything. She was happy, because she got my money. Everybody won. I wish that I had asked her name and gotten a picture with her, and I would have even given her a little more had we done so. However, hindsight is always 20/20.
The rest of the day in Ensenada was spent in a single store. One we found to actually have stuff other than the normal trinkets and doo-dads.
Bazar Casa Ramirez. A wonderful little shop, a really nice gal working inside, and we spent quite a bit of money here. If you are looking for more than the standard souvenirs being peddled on the streets, this is a decent place to visit.
We finished out shopping, had a small snack and made our way back to the ship.
The next day, we barely left our stateroom. We were recouping, and simply relaxing. We ordered breakfast in bed, we slept in, we watched TV, took a nap. It was fantastic. Sadly, we spent some time that night packing. We had quite an assortment of things we were bringing back, so I left the packing up to Wife, as she is a miracle packer. I however, found myself getting into trouble.All in all, it was a wonderful vacation. It was a sad and somber thing, coming home. But of course, its always good to be home. And I doubt I'll ever get a sanctioned picture of me with a bra tied to my head without being on a cruise ship.