Thursday, June 11, 2009

June 11 Kiel

Rain, rain, go away...come again another day. But it didn't, so I ventured out on my own, getting pretty darn wet despite a slicker to wear and an umbrella. Now I can say I've been in Germany on this trip!

Sadly this is the last post of this trip. It's been fun teaching myself PSE 7. Hopefully my brain is growing somewhat in keeping with my waistline on this trip. I only wish.

June 10 Ronne, Bornholm

Ronne is on Bornholm, a small Danish island off the Swedish coast. The day started out beautifully sunny and warm, became overcast with threatening thunderstorms (never materialized) and ended with warm sun. It's good to be prepared for all weather! Ronne was a tantalizing taste of Denmark with friendly (blond) people and compact tidy homes. There is also a small Thai community and I happily traded some memories in a Thai-English mixture. I know I started the shopkeeper with a Sawadee Kha! The fun of travel.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June 8 and 9 Stockholm

Stockholm was advertised as two days but in effect it really wasn't with the over two hours it took to get people unloaded via tenders. Paid tours always go first and there were also a lot of people visiting family. I think there were over 40 tenders going from ship to shore the first day. Nonetheless, Stockholm is a lovely city and we used our 24hr transit passes a lot! While we didn't see the midnight sun, we did stay up to see the 11pm sun butI can imagine how long the winters must seem with the very short days.

Friday, June 5, 2009

June 2 Edinburgh

btw in case you wonder how we got from the ship to Queensferry from whence there was a bus into Edinburgh, here are the tenders.

June 1 Newcastle

Our day in Newcastle was another brilliantly sunny day with temps that promised to be warm - into the 70s. Arrival from Rotterdam was scheduled to be around noon with a mid-day departure from the ship. We never knew the exact time for tenders or a shuttle bus for sure each day until a few hours before and the times still changed after arrival in a port. Those people taking a tour with HAL always had priority in leaving the ship so it could be hard and frustrating to plan much of a trip outside of strolling around the main part of a city. Fortunately this suited us most of the time but it was hard for dh to wait till 11am or later to leave the ship when he is such an early bird in the a.m.

I had seen Newcastle years and years ago, and despite the boast that the city had been cleaned up and modernized, I decided Newcastle would be a r&r day aboard ship for me. Reading, computer time with the pictures and just a relaxing day before Edinburgh, which I DID want to see. DH decided that he would be adventurous and explore on his own. I saw the looong line waiting for the shuttle bus into the city and wondered how his patience was holding out.

From what he tells me the city still has the look of an industrial city - which it was - and thus had no 'old' buildings with most being either modern architecture or Victorian era still needing some clean up. Sandblasting makes the limestone look lovely again but it is costly.

Where once a city might be full of scaffolding with ancient buildings etc being restored, it seems that today more construction and replacement or repair of infrastructure might be happening. Newcastle was a place dh said had some of that and some of the 'normal' occurrence of a metro stop being closed for x,y, or z and the trains rerouted.

All in all, he can say he has visited Newcastle and I can say I had a good leisurely day with no pressure to walk or see something new. A daily diet of anything can get old.

Monday, June 1, 2009

May 29 Le Harve

Oh the food we saw, oh the views from the Haute Ville! So far one of my favorite 'new' cities and so so beautiful on a perfect sunny day.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 28 Plymouth

Some of this day was very much like the 'Gilligan Island' 3 hour tour. Dick went into Plymouth before I did, and when I attempted to board a tender about two hours later, there was a lot of going round in circles out in the bay. Every day a new experience! but isn't that what travel is all about.

I am so sorry not to be writing more but even writing off line and posting has taken a great deal of time that is usually spent out and about. I hope the pictures give you a good taste of this trip and I will say that they have given me a lot of Photoshop (Elements 7) practice which has been great fun.

May 27 Waterford Ireland

Sunday, May 24, 2009


My anniversary card to my dear husband. Celebrating a day early!

May 20 St. John’s Newfoundland

We anticipated some of our worst weather in St. John’s, so we planned to leave the ship with layers of clothing, topped by the ubiquitous slickers. It was overcast but windless when I texted dh to find out where he was in town. He had already started climbing up the hill to the Basilica so I trudged up those steps getting warmer by the step! So much for that cold weather! When I caught up with him, breathless and warm, we climbed the remaining bit to find out that there was a mass going on in the basilica so we headed around to the far side hoping to see a glimpse of land beyond the crest of that hill. Nothing visible but more houses but we did notice the painted mailboxes on some of them. We asked a young woman where the nearest café was. She recommended The Hungry Heart which, in addition to being downhill, gave its profits to the homeless. We were glad to sit again and have coffee, a good pot of tea and an apple scone. A very good stop.

Back to the Cathedral we went where we learned that Basilica is an honorary title bestowed by the Pope. I don’t know what percentage of the population is Roman Catholic but the church looks very well supported. Just beyond the church, I had noted a very large sign for The Rooms. (I hadn’t taken time to talk to the Tourist Information people on the dock as I was dashing to catch up with dh.) When we walked over past the church we saw that The Rooms were the archives and museum. The gift shop wasn’t open yet as they are still on Winter Hours (!) but I left dh on a comfortable bench while I went off to Scobeys, a huge supermarket to look for some tea. With a packet of local decaf tea in hand, I came back to The Rooms and looked around the really lovely gift shop but didn’t buy. We were considering eating at the top floor restaurant/café but after taking some wonderful pictures from the observation deck in Full Sun, we decided to go back to Hungry Heart.

We had seen the staff setting up for a large group in the morning, and when we got back the tables were full. With all the chatter, I whispered to dh “I hope they’re leaving soon.”
Rather than leaving, the group was about to hear a talk by the folklorist of Newfoundland which turned out to be absolutely fascinating. We had a marvelous lunch of quiche for me and soup and sandwich for dh AND a wonderful chance to hear all about the work to preserve heritage crafts and stories in NFL. It was pure serendipity.

With our slickers in our bag, we headed back down towards the harbor and the main shopping areas. We walked from shop to shop and while the woolens were wonderful and hand made, we really had no need for that kind of good for our normally mild winters. DH and I then parted ways as he went back to the ship for a nap and I forged on to see the rest of Water Street. By mid afternoon, the clouds had come in and the temperature was dropping. A shop keeper said the previous Victoria Day weekend had been the nicest in 30 years. I ended up contributing a bit to the NFL economy with a fleece pullover and a wool hat. (The hat I had planned to buy turned out to have raw fleece inside and as the clerk said, was the warmest hat they had. Hmmm, not what I needed I’m afraid.)

Finally I said goodbye to NFL, and after dinner on board we time to see Slumdog Millionaire, and a welcome climb into bed. A sunny day in NFL was a real treat so much so that dh is willing to come back, By Car!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Monday May 18, 2009 Halifax Photo

Monday May 18, 2009

Today was our first port day – Halifax Nova Scotia. While the day was overcast, with rain on and off all day, it was still mild and the wind wasn’t fierce. A ‘soft day’ as those who have ever been to Ireland well know. The other phrase used was ‘liquid sunshine’!

After a lie in for me with a cabin bit of breakfast and a much earlier start to the day for dh who prepared himself with a full breakfast, we headed down the gangplank and decided on the Gray line On and Off bus. It didn’t seem like a good idea to try to hike up to The Citadel with dh’s feet not up to par. There are three routes the buses take and they truly take in all the sites to see in downtown Halifax. There was only one fly in the ointment. It was Victoria Day so many things were closed and the downtown seemed almost deserted for a Monday morning.

We rode thru town and got off the bus at the entrance to The Citadel. We paid to go into the site and while touring it, the rain really came down at times, but that’s why we pack good slickers. We cut the tour a bit short and walked down the hill to the main part of town. Again, it felt so strange to be one of the few people walking about near noon. I did regret that we missed the 21 gun salute given to Queen Victoria (!) but figured we’d hear some of it down below in town. Walking towards Spring Garden Street, we wanted to get back to a bookstore we’d spotted on the bust trip up to the Citadel. But low and behold, I spied with my little eye another book store, so we veered off onto Doyle Street. Alas the shop was closed but the little Italian coffee shop was open. Instead of coffee, we ended up sharing a bowl of seafood chowder and a cheese scone. Hot, tasty and with small fish quenelles in it, it was just the thing to take the edge off of our hunger and the chill of the rain.

We then went back on the main drag of Spring Garden and did a lot of window shopping and a stroll through Jenners which had a lot of handcrafted items from Nova Scotia. There is a lot of beautiful silver and pewter jewelry here but as I wear gold, I saved my money. Dick is always happy to support a local independent bookstore but I had to pass since I am seriously working at reducing the stockpile of books I have at home.

We continued up Spring Garden to the actual city gardens which were gorgeous but then the rains came down again. Fortunately there is a refreshment building where we shared a hot and luscious hot chocolate. I never think about hot chocolate but dh has suggested it at times and it’s really a nice change from tea. Then back on our On-Off bus to the ship and lunch aboard. DH decided it was time for a nap but I headed back into town on another of the bus’s routes which took me back to the Old Burying Grounds and a walk thru the once again rain to a tea merchant. I had an ok cuppa Lapsong Souchong but got dear gd a packet of Lady Hannah tea. I think it will be a thrill to get tea with her own name on it.

Now it was time to start heading back to the ship lest it sail without me but I did dash into a huge SuperStore to check on powdered laundry detergent. What caught my eye as I entered were whole cooked lobsters at under $6. Canadian. Oh I was tempted but we have access to so much food I couldn’t justify it. I wanted to. DH met me but there really wasn’t time for more walking so Water Street would wait for another trip.

Some computer time, and then I was off to my massage, facial and pedicure. Oh how nice that was…a real treat and of course it left me absolutely ready for bed with one more time change.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sunday May 17, 2009 At Sea

@ 6am a knock on the cabin door slightly woke me as my tea and fruit platter were delivered to the cabin. Fortunately dh was already awake as I knew he’d be and back to a sound sound sleep I went as he left me to do more of an exploration venture round the ship. No light, no one moving about and no cat crying…ah, I could sleep in! By 8am, I was up, he was back and we went on up to the Lido again for some more tea and coffee and my usual if it’s available gravlax. With 11 decks and a few twists of floors that could only be accessed in one way, we had a lot of exploring to do. The sea was not terribly smooth and both of us walked like drunken sailors. Fortunately neither word applies to us.

Mid morning we met up with the Cruise Critic group and were grateful that Fran – our serendipitous meeting at the train station – had told us where and when the group was meeting. Amazingly enough there was another couple named Maureen and Richard, and they were on the same deck. Talking to the assorted other members about 40 people in all, we found many interests shared and many had many enjoyable conversations. Because the online group has been in existence since last year, a lot of work has been done on booking tours and setting up plans at prices much more reasonable than HAL’s prices. That was a real blessing.

Suddenly – it seemed – it was lunchtime and back to the Lido we went. We each had our laptops and uploaded our photos and enjoyed talking to the couple at the next table who are on baby call…waiting to hear about a new grandchild in San Diego. While dh went back to the cabin for a nap, I went to a talk about Belfast. We had a quick dash to High Tea with tea, coffee and pastries and tablemates from Tennessee. I think I will have to pass on the High Tea if I want to have any hopes of continuing to wear the clothes I brought with me. Morning walks become harder and harder to get up for as we continue to lose an hour hear and there each night sailing east. I had forgotten about that.

A bit more exploring, some computer time off line and then we had a 12 step meeting. It’s always nice to make that connection with Friends of Bill at sea. Amazingly, it was time for dinner again! Neither of us was terribly hungry but we made a valiant effort and of course managed to eat!

After dinner, there was some computer time and then a movie. We saw Nixon/Frost which both of us really enjoyed and I highly recommend it to people of all political persuasions. I found it very poignant and even if you feel you know that history you may get some insights into the personalities of both men.

Monday, May 18, 2009

May 16 NYC

A morning departure from BWI train station to Newark led to a serendipitous meeting with a fellow cruise member. She spotted our luggage and came over to talk to us, rightly guessing that we were on our way to the Holland America cruise. We learned about the Cruise Critic on line group, and we said we would find each other on the ship. The train left, and after a Whole Foods pre-purchased lunch aboard the train, we hopped aboard the airport train and met out HAL connection at the airport. We shared a van with two other couples – one from Ottawa Canada and the other from Ocala Florida. As the drive into Manhattan was thru heavy traffic we had time to do a lot of chatting with them. Hank, the FL man, turned out to be a USNA grad so there were some memories traded of Annapolis.

Upon arrival at the ship, we turned over our luggage and then went thru the security and health checks. Finally, we boarded the ship, and went to our cabin. My suitcase was already in there and dh’s arrived while we went out exploring the internet site. Then came the requisite lifeboat drill which always involves a lot of ‘stooging around’ but then we were done. Time to use the net a bit while we still had free access thru the WAN on dh’s Mac, then farewell to NYC, the Statue of Liberty and our first dinner.

We decided to stick to the casual Lido buffet which had the same menu as the main dining room for the first night especially as I was really feeling the movement of the ship. I was glad to have the Dramamine from a prior cruise and after a walk about outside – just one lap to be sure dh’s feet didn’t get blistered up again – we were ready for an early night. We did go back to the Lido for an ice cream cone tho – chocolate and cinnamon scoops for me and vanilla and orange sherbet for dh.

A Dramamine for me and about 5 pages of reading and I was out like a light while being rocked to sleep by the ship.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Counting Down Once Again

This week is the week to plan the suitcase. What does one take for 28 days with 18 different cities, and who knows how many changes of weather? That should be a clue that this trip involves a BIG ship but not the ship below.

Ok, we have lifeboats

At least I am going with a laptop of my own this time (well at least a hand-me-down from dh) and a chance to do some of my own computer work, and not have to share on line time with dh. DH's computer time makes $$ so it was always hard to compete with that!

Ok, I have to get back to some serious planning of the packing! See me back here on Saturday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Adieu adieu

"Oh my bags are packed and I'm ready to go..."

farewell London

Goodbye Kenisngton Marriott, you are a great location. I'll be back.

final meal

Finally, we had one more fry-up at Heathrow. Good stodgy sendoff for our last meal. btw, note that there is a tangerine in both the pictures. Marriott had bowls of these each day and I did eat my share. No scurvy for this woman! However...I forgot to eat the last one I had in my carry on bag, and the drug dogs sniffed it out at Newark airport. Guess which two people had to have their bags searched by the food police?!?!? I shrugged it off but dh was NOT amused by the waste of his precious time. They confiscated the tangerine of course...and sent me off with a warning not to do this again. Bah humbug.

Now for a break from travel blogging for a bit again. See you next trip!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Time Running Out...

We were reaching the final days of our trip and so it was time to think...was there anything we both wanted to do. A good start had been made on the 'pack it all up' part, so we had mostly a day free. I had seen a nice little 'French' cafe while we were walking back from Kensington Palace the day before. Petit Delice.
Petit Delice
He had a quiche and I had a sandwich. Both of us had tea after our early morning coffees and pot of tea in the room. Having an electric kettle AND a coffee maker was just perfect.)
IMG_0809 her brekfast

Believe it or not after some walking and a bus ride, we actually were ready for a stop for lunch at The Three Tuns just off Oxford Street. Best to have a full stomach when museum hopping, I say!
.last pub lunch
Bangers and mash for the gentleman and pea soup for the lady with dry gingerale for both of us.
his last pub lunch her last pub lunch

We had decided to try the Wallace Collection which neither of us had ever seen. So much of my time in my earlier years in England involved travel with short children, so a few of the more adult museums never got onto the lists. I had just read a few books about WWII and Polish Jews so this exhibit Treasures of the Black Death had caught my eye. I have no photographs of that exhibit but it was exquisite and moving. We did wander into some of the other rooms, including a hands on amour room. So back to the 16th century and the big kids played too!
him in armour her in armour

After a tea break in the gorgeous cafe at the Wallace, we decided to part company for the rest of the day. I seriously wanted to get back to the British Museum and dh seriously wanted to Just Rest. We each got our wish. Much of the British Museum has been discussed over at Cooking My Life, but before I got there, I hustled with a bus ride and some suddenly lost and trying to relocate via the map time. I had also nearly exhauste my oyster card and needed to top it up to get back to the hotel. Fortunately, a pharmacy was able to add my money to it. Amazing! Lots of fun stuff to see along the way tho.. a soccer shop for my dear grandson
her last pub lunch
a rubber stamp shop (pricier than the US I think)
Blade Rubber
a book store of course
a fossil shop for dear son
and a Scottish shop that I browsed but didn't buy, this time. I thought that this would be a shop dh would like to see and pick out what helikes himself. Then, there was a sign telling me there was some reason I was getting lost and not just because I was getting tired. Bloomsbury was being improved!
a change from the 70s
But finally I saw the familiar building and in some way it jogged that memory from the mid 1960s.


So many things to see in this Museum and I had less than an hour, and it was also getting dark, and rush hour was coming. However, I mushed on. It nearly broke my heart to pass on this exhibit. But at least I saw the items in the gift shop. :(
British Museum
My real goal was the Elgin Marbles as they were called in 1965 on my first visit. The Parthenon Marbles in all their glory 44years later.
British Museum
Well, there they were, no longer proudly displayed as loot, but still just amazing. I then dashed to the Rosetta stone, the mummies, the gift shop to see what I had missed from the exhibits I couldn't see. The minutes ticked off, and the Museum was closing and I was beat. All I wanted was a cuppa tea, and the little cafe was already closed. London was staring to look like this. I guess I was really done. ;-)
It's all a blur

It was time to get on the bus or tube and get 'home' to my dear husband, make a pot of tea and realize it was a damn good trip. Full of so much and yet home was really beckoning.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sunday at the Palace part II

Ok, so we dewatered as FEMA was wont to say during the Katrina fiasco. i.e we used the park facilities.

Now to walk through the park to the Palace. Ah Sunday in this park was Sunday in every big park - dog walkers, children on scooters and skates, babies in prams, couples canoodling, joggers jogging and people sitting on benches reading the papers. Yes, it was gray and cloudy but it was mild. Mild enough for a nice day out. Sun is just icing on the cake at the end of winter.
Sunday in the park water fountains for all

You did know that this was Princess Diana's home, didn't you? We didn't take the tour not just for price, but because it gets to be a bit much for us to stand and look and look.
State Apartments

State Apartments

One thing we saw, and I then seriously regretted those pastries at Paul's, was the Orangery. So so pretty but we weren't hungry or thirsty by then. If you go to Kensington Palace, you really should Continue Your Day in Style as the sign says.
The Orangery

next time

Well goodbye to William of Orange (how about those clouds?),
Willam of Orange himself
and a husband playing in the guard box. I bet those gardens are breathtaking this month as the buds were just starting to appear in February.

We did spend a good bit of time in the gift shop, which was free and just lovely inside. Fortunately there wasn't a lot of geegaws and schmaltzy stuff. This is a royal abode so respectful, stiff upper lift items were about. Tastefully done. Had I been 20 or 30 years younger, and still buying things, I would have been sorely tempted by a lot of the lovelies. I did get my daughter a small lavender sachet and that was it. (Himself is the silhouette in the center of the pic.)
Great shop at the palace

Ok, time to head home and walk down more closed shops. I really liked these pinhole ceramics.

pinhole ceramics I wanted this!
And oh this book...I so love maps, and this wasn't too big, but not this trip. Lots of shops were also closed Monday so that settled the idea of coming back for it.

Finally a little section of houses that must have been built at the same time by the same builder. Spec houses of the day but what day?
#12 great set of houses

Well we were thinking about dinner, and trying to think about packing too when we saw this restaurant. Sadly after googling and checking some reviews we decided to pass. Shame, I think I would consider it for a lunch sometime but not the more pricey dinner.
Maybe just a night to finish up the food we have in the hotel fridge, or maybe finally try the little Chinese place.