Tag Archives: food

April 9-10 –Going home

Once at the CDG airport we were pretty tired. Our luggage had gone through to LAX so we only had our carry on’s and large purses, but that was plenty. Unwilling to search for the shuttle to the hotel we grabbed a cab. The travel agency said the Marriot was closest to the airport, but we passed several on the way, including a Sheraton which is actually attached to the airport. At least it was only a 20E ride and about 15 minutes. The Marriott was lovely with the softest beds and pillows, ever. When we checked in I realized my Visa card was gone, so I had Terry cancel it. I am pretty sure I left it in a machine at the Genoa Airport. We watched TV and caught the finale of Britain’s The Voice and then slept hard till morning.

We had coffee and caught the 8am bus for our 10:30 departure. The airport security was miles long and they decided my bag was too heavy. As Carolyn continued I had to go way back to turn in my bag. Good news, because it was a connecting flight there was no charge. Back at the first check point, they let me thru a shortcut and then I was on my way to find Carolyn. The lines were all moving so slow that I actually caught up to her. We boarded promptly and took off on time. Carolyn had bought some more gifts at the airport. On the plane, we were in the bulkhead with a man in the seat between us. Oh well, I am not sitting in the middle, so that’s the way it goes.

We had some ok food, chicken and cous cous and other stuff I ignored. I would really love a sweet right now, but have none.

My wonderful Bose ear buds ran out of charge and the noise on the plane seems so much more awful than normal, since I had a couple of hours of relative silence. I watched the Good Dinosaur, which I though was cute. It is a simple adventure story, no reason for the critics to be so harsh.

I ended up watching animated films all the way home. I did find ice cream bars when I walked around the planes kitchen. I got one each for me, Carolyn, and our seat partner. I also got coffee for all of us. Carolyn and I later spent some time in the kitchen stretching our legs and being entertained by a charming baby named Santiago.

Landing at LAX was quick but getting off the plane took a long time. Most people waited their turn, but some people shoved forward. We had to go thru customs, I was able to text Terry once before customs area blocked all cell use. The line was long but moved fairly quickly. It was interesting to see how the custom officers talked with some people a long time and just gave a quick nod to others. There was a large high school group on our plan and lots of overexcited parents waiting for them. The parents behaved as if the kids were being released from a kidnapping situation, lol. We finally got through and found all of our suitcases. Terry was waiting for us outside, he went to get the car while we waited curbside. The place was packed and it was frustrating for Terry to get to us. LAX is just too big and too messy.

We dropped Carolyn off and when we got home I managed to stay awake until 5:30, then I was out until morning.

All in all, a good trip, interesting sights cool souvenirs.

April 2 –Casablanca, Morocco

Our Casablanca tour was scheduled for 7:45am. We got up at 6:30 and time to get dressed and I made a quick coffee run to the buffet. We remembered our tickets this time and were soon walking down a very steep ramp to the port. A crew member helped Carolyn and I used my cane and went slowly. On our bus we had a young woman from Costa and a guide. Once again the tour was in German and English. The Costa member told me when I asked that the guide was telling all of us the same thing, but it took much longer to say in German.

We got off the bus soon after we got on and began to walk through a closed market area. The stench was bad and there were huge (no exaggeration) piles of trash everywhere. Our guide kept apologizing and explained that the people slept late on Saturday and it would get better. We did see people sweeping but it was still not great. This was again a Kasbah, and I think slum might be a better translation. We walked a long way with very little to see. There were some cats wandering around but no where near the amount we saw in Tangier. Also these were thinner looking. I did see some well taken care of dogs, I even saw someone grooming their dog in a park.

We came to a wider, more modern area of shops, but nothing really caught anyone’s eye. Then we went into an olive market. The smell was wonderful and the variety of olives was amazing. There must have 50 barrels divided into several stalls. There was no competition, the owners just sat and smiled as we browsed.

When we left the shop we strolled through stores with “set” prices. I wanted a children’s book for my collection and I really needed sunglasses. I had left mine in the room and it was a pretty sunny day. We continued walking and Carolyn found a terrific, leather bag that she bought and plans to use it with her carry on when we go home. I finally found a bookstore and bought a darling book about farm animals. It is of course in Arabic and opens right to left.

Back on the bus we went to see the Kings palace and an older palace that was now a city building. Again the tile work and lanterns are so amazing. We saw some of the inside and the courtyard before we went on our way.

Around this time the guide took us to a restaurant to use the bathroom. There were two, one was a hole in the ground and the other was a toilet with a broken flusher and no toilet paper. The smell was pretty bad, but one must do what one must do.

We next took the bus to visit the Mosque, it is the largest in the world except for the one in Mecca. It was a beautiful place and covered a large area. The current King’s father had it built to honor Mohammed and to employ the citizens. 26 thousand workers were involved the entire time. Part of it was built over the sea. We strolled around for a while and then went back to the bus. One of our passengers was lost, her husband and the guide and the crewmember all went searching. We lost about 20 minutes before the lost woman realized she was on the wrong bus and came looking for us.

We stopped for a wonderful, beautiful, delicious lunch in a Morroccan Restaurant. We sat at round tables but due to the language barriers we did little beside smile at each other and signal for the passing of food. The first set of dishes, set out for us to share were a variety of salads. There were shredded orange slices with a light flavoring of some sort, beets, cucumber with tomato, mashed olives and a tasty, soft orange colored thing. It was all yummy and we ate it with bread. Next they brought a large dish of cous cous with vegetables and a huge dish with chicken and olives. Everyone helped serve and pass food around. It was so good. I ate strange sauces and loved every bite. When all the food was gone they put a large platter of thinly sliced oranges with cinnamon in the center of the table. They also brought small, tasty almond cookies. There were 8 of us and they brought 8 cookies, but one man, large and pushy and rude took two, so someone did not get a cookie.

When we left the restaurant we drove through the “California” part of Casablanca, where we saw many beautiful homes, we also drove along the shore and saw McDonalds, with a big, outdoor beach seating area.

I asked the guide if we were going to see Rick’s Café from the Casablanca movie and he said yes. We drove by and stopped for outside pictures. Of course the movie was filmed on a studio lot, but it was still fun.

We were supposed to go next to a handicraft area but had run out of time. The bus dropped off two couples who wanted to continue to stroll around and the rest of us went back to the ship.

We had to take the ramp to walk up and a crew member assisted Carolyn, she looked very regal as she walked up on his arm. We went though x-ray, something we do each time we return to the ship.

Carolyn and I went back to our room to relax before dinner and we both napped. I did stroll up to the buffet to see if the ice cream machine was working. After asking daily someone finally told me it was by the “other” pool. I went in search, and found it, it is a vending machine. I got a Magnum bar for Carolyn and a drumstick for me. It was lovely. We also discussed our future tour plans and decided to book the tour of Lisbon for Monday but will do Cadiz on our own tomorrow. I also agreed it was foolish to not do the Rome tour and planned to sign up.

At 5:30 we went to deck 3 to await the 6:00 opening of the tour office. Carolyn walked over to the hospitality desk to get a copy of her bill. We are finding the billing VERY confusing and plan to go over it carefully before we leave the ship. As soon as someone got into the excursion line I got behind them and quickly behind me were another 20 people. A lady cut into the front, but the two people she cut off said nothing. I ordered for the Lisbon tour for each of us and the Rome tour for me.

Once this was all taken care of, we went into dinner. We did not know what the others were doing since we are in port until 10pm but soon Emmett and Andrea appeared and the girls a bit later. Larry and Linda had gone to Marikesch and did not get back. I had the special salted cod, a cheese plate and chocolate icecream. The cod was only so-so, very saucey, so I also got French fries, which I shared with Emmet. As usual, our group was the last to leave the dinning room, we all get along so well. Courtney and Keynae and Carolyn and I are going to taxi to Cadiz together tomorrow, we will meet around a 11 when the ship docks. Tomorrow is also the day Keynae will compete for the “VOICE OF THE SEA” contest and we will all be there cheering her on.

It is now 10pm and we are relaxing in our room. Carolyn is playing a game and I am typing away. I also downloaded my photos to the computer, but will post when I have a decent connection.

In our opinion, Tangier is more sophisticated than Casablanca and we all liked it better, but Barcelona, for Carolyn and I was the place we liked least.

Tomorrow – Cadiz, Spain

An Unexpected Outing

March 28 An Unexpected Outing

Savona, while charming, is small and we saw most of it yesterday so it was with relief that we made arrangements with Davide, our driver from the airport, to go on an excursion. Carolyn thought going to Milan and Lake Como would be great, so that’s what we did.

We set the alarm for 7 but woke up on our own. We went to the complimentary breakfast, wow! There was a hug assortment of food. Many different breads, muffins, hard boiled eggs, some fruit, sliced meats and cheese and lettuce and tomatoes. There were also many dessert type pastries. We both enjoyed ourselves. I had a hard boiled egg and several pieces of crusty French bread with jam. I also had coffee with hot milk. Carolyn made a little sandwich and also had some hard boiled egg. Our view was of the gardens and the sea, so lovely, even with rain coming down.

We went back to the room to gather everything we needed and met Davide in the lobby at 9am. Then we were off.

We decided to drive to Lake Como first and get to Milan on the way back. We drove for almost 4 hours. Along the way there was an accident. Davide slowed to ask the people if they were ok, they said yes, and then as we drove along he called the police to report it. Chances are they were tourists and I am sure that was helpful. He is a very kind man.

Soon after we and arrived at Lake Como in a drizzling rain.

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Davide showed us where to go and also where he would be. He sat happily in his car watching a movie on his ipad while we strolled around.

First thing was a trip to the bathroom and a coffee. This was accomplished at a small, outdoor café. No toilet paper. Oh well.

Then we took pictures of the Caduti Monument on the edge of the lake. It is a modern looking monument commemorating Como’s fallen of WW1, constructed in 1931 in a futuristic style and at 33 metres high is an imposing monument. We took some pictures and then walked over to the lakes edge.

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It occurred to Carolyn that perhaps we could get a boat tour of the homes on the lake. We walked along the harbor and asked around and then found a water taxi that would take us on a 30 minute tour. The cost was 50E each, and we were fine with that. The tour was very nice and we saw many of the beautiful homes. Unfortunately George and the others live far away on the lake on a private road and were too far for the boat to go. We enjoyed our ride anyway.

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Back on shore we headed back to the car, stopping to look at anything that caught our interest. There was a very well done European Resistance Memorial. This monument to the European Resistance Movement is dedicated to the many Europeans who were condemned to death – it comprises stones from the Nazi extermination camps and the tragedy of Hiroshima. We got several pictures but could find nothing in English.

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We walked and took pictures and ended up at a beautiful little building called the Volta Temple. The entire building is dedicated to the life and works of Alessandro Volta. He died in 1827 and the temple was built in 1928 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of his death. Volta was a great physicist and invented many things most notably the electric battery. It is a lovely building with excellent displays.

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We next returned to Davide and headed for Milan.

When we arrived in Milan, we were a little disappointed. It was not much to look at. Davide took us to the big shopping area known as Corso Venezia. We wandered about, but honestly, we could see the same, perhaps better, at South Coast Plaza. We did get gelatos, I got chocolate and Carolyn got chocolate chip. It was very cold, but so worth it. We stopped at a restroom in a place where the lower floor, known here as -1 level was like some odd hipster version of a Parisian Club without the smoke and booze, instead there were fraps and gelatos. Crazy man, crazy.

We next found a store called the HIGHLINE outlet. It was pretty cool, with designer seconds at very low prices. Carolyn tried very hard to love one of the Valentino purses (80E) but they just did not suit. I found that there is a designer who designs purses, shoes and wallets just for me. Each is inscribed “RB”. I bought a pretty Robin’s egg blue wallet with my initials on it.

We were pretty much done by now, so we stopped at an ATM to get more Euros. It was difficult to get into the locked ATM building, but we somehow figured it out. Once inside we each got 250E on our debit cards. Then we went to find David, waiting and watching his movie. He suggested we might want to eat before we left and we agreed. We went to a charming Panini Restaurant. Carolyn had a Madrus Panini which had turkey, lettuce, tomato, cheese and curry sauce and almonds. The roll was warm and crusty. I had smoked salmon on warm crusty bread. I also took one look at someone’s table with French fries and ordered them. The sandwiches were awesome and the fries were delicious and shaped to make a little boat for scooping ketchup. YUM!!!! Lunch was about 35E with tip.

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Davide was parked nearby and we were more than ready to come to the hotel. We got back about 6:20. We took some pictures with Davide, who we had become very fond of. We paid Davide 210E each, and well worth it. All together we spent 260E on a faboulous day! (Food does not count, one must eat). We were sorry to say goodbye to Davide, he was wonderful!

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We are now back in our room, in our PJ’s, tired and happy and looking forward to boarding the ship tomorrow.

Carolyn says; “I finally checked Lake Como and Milan off my bucket list, hooray hooray, it was a fantastic day. Rain, fog and all.”

A Day In Savona

March 27 Adventures

Once we were all dressed and ready we went to find food. Out the back of the hotel (we are on the street side) we were directed to a small building on the beach side where we could order food. We had a tasty gnocchi and more breadsticks than we needed. We also had coffee and water. The service and view were terrific, a pretty, windowed room and a gorgeous view of the Mediterranean Sea. This hotel is pretty spectacular and the price is so reasonable. In the US it would easily be $500 a night, but here we are paying 119E. A quick trip back to the room and then with coats and cameras, we were ready to go out. It was about 1:30.

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Our room with pretty blue lights. Nice and big!

We decided to take a cab to the center of town. It was 15E. Once there, we were able to visit the small Sistine Chaple. It is very pretty, not very small. We each lit a candle and then strolled around admiring the art and the sculptures. Because of the holiday, the entire  chapel area was not all open, but we enjoyed what we did see.

Then we walked to the huge, ancient Priamar Fortress. It was built in 1542 and is an amazing place, crumbling façade and stone walkways. It is also a museum, but today is Easter Sunday and the museum, and almost the entire town was closed. We walked all around the fortress and up on a few of the higher towers. Once we were back outside we also took pictures of the ruins of the monastery that used to be there as well as a few modern sculptures on the lawn. We enjoyed this very much, the oldness of the area is wonderful. We also saw, from the top of the fortress a COSTA cruise ship, so we now know that our ship will be very close when the hotel takes us on Tuesday.

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Carolyn’s hand pointing at a COSTA ship docked nearby.

 

Once we had looked to our hearts content, we crossed the street to have a coffee in Pizzeria Restorante, which must get many tourists but they speak no English. Of course, that’s fine, this is their country after all. I had an espresso, OMG, never again! Carolyn ordered the lemon gelato and we shared it. It was light and creamy and for a bowl they used an actual lemon. We also shared some water.

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We wanted to take a bus back, save a bit of money but were not sure where to catch the bus. I approached a table to ask if anyone spoke English. There were 6 people at the table and the young couple said they spoke a little. Carolyn took photos as they all gathered around the table, looked at our (useless map) and began a very long discussion in Italian with much disagreement. I finally said maybe we should taxi. The young man, who was somewhat bemused by his 5 female companions and their desire to talk about a bus for a long time, said, “good idea!” It was all not much help, but seriously fun.

We paid for our snack, it was 10E and tipped 2E. Then we began to walk in a suggested direction. We were worried about it getting dark and when we passed by an emergency ambulance place, we asked if they could get us a taxi and they were very nice and did so. When the cab came we told him our hotel and off we went. Though we were much closer this one cost 20E. We knew we were being ripped off, but by now did not care.

We stopped at the desk to get our key (we leave it when we go out) and are relaxing in our room with coffee. The balcony door is open to cool off this room and we are content. Later we will eat in the hotel restaurant. Much later because it does not open until 8pm. Our choices are limited because though we are on a nice beach, there is nothing nearby. In California the road by the beach and hotels would be filled with restaurants!

At about 7:55 we went to the Hotel Bistro to eat. They asked us is we had a reservation, we said no, after a long discussion in Italian they sat us at one of the “fish tables”. We were offered a menu in English and took it. The prices were extremely reasonable. Carolyn got a vegetable soup and I had stuffed anchovies. We also had a large plate of delicious bread. The soup was the best she has had in a long time.  My anchovies were fried and yummy, but tasted like any random fish, not salty at all. We also had sparkling water. It was 16E for the meal.Turns out the regular restaurant, which we did not think was open due to language confusion, had prices well beyond 16E, so we are glad we missed it.

(photos coming)

We are back in our pretty room, in our jammies, comfortable and ready for our exciting day tomorrow. We will leave for Lake Como at 9 in the morning. We plan on having breakfast first.

Carolyn says “beautiful city, so nice being back in Italy again.” Hope everyone enjoyed Easter. I did, I am licking chocolate off my fingers right now.”

More tomorrow……………….

Sovana Italy – March 27

March 26-27

The flight to Genoa was quick and easy, the plane had about 100 passengers. The attendant brought us a sandwich, I did not take one. Carolyn had one, she said the flavor was crap and cheese. Also, we were not seated together, that was odd but ok. Carolyn was next to a nice young man and I sat next to a young college student doing math homework! The horror.

I called Davide, our driver when we got to luggage and he assured me he was waiting outside. Our luggage, which Carolyn was sure would never arrive since it had not stayed with us, but gone straight thru from LA. However, it was all safely on the carrousel. We rented a cart (1 E here, $5 in US) and went to find our ride, but first customs.Going through customs was like being checked as you leave Costco, no real scrutany.

Davide was indeed waiting for us, holding a ipad that said O’Dell on it. He was very nice and drove a shiny, black Mercedes van. We talked about our time here and have arranged to have him take us to Milan and Lake Como on Monday. Carolyn is wildly excited to see Lake Como, I’m just hoping to run into George.

We checked in and were welcomed in a lovely manner by Diego. He helped us to the room with our luggage and after explaining a few things we were on our own.

The room is large and lovely, with two big beds, a big window and balcony with a view of a parking lot. The bathroom is huge and it has a bidet! There is a TV and cupboards and closet space. Our only complaint is the room is too warm and Carolyn feels the light is bad for makeup.

We slept hard and deep. Carolyn was reading when I got up.  Blankets were not needed and we both went to sleep pretty quickly.

Morning now, after showering, finally, and getting a bit more organized we are ready to go. It is Sunday the 27th and it is 12:20 and we are up and dressed and about to hit the road for food, coffee and sights.

Our Trip Begins

March 25: On our way

Terry drove us to the airport. We picked up Carolyn at 6pm. We had a brief visit with Carl and then were on our way. We were able to car pool on the way over and then Terry luckily had no traffic on the way home. Terry wanted to park and help us with our luggage, but that proved impossible. So we just stopped in the Bradley lot and got a luggage cart and said our goodbyes.

We looked into a seat change at the airport but nothing better was available. We had already paid $32 to switch to a row with only 2 seats, so that’s what we kept.

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At Bradley Intl.

In the terminal we quickly went through security, though Carolyn had her luggage searched. Back in our shoes we had coffee and I had a cookie while we chatted and waited. There was a wonderful art installation in sight and it was so fun to watch. It was a series of posts with screens on them and each country that used the airport had a few minutes of decoration on the screens. My favorite was the one from Santiago, it was the neck and a bit of the body of a guitar and the strings vibrated each time a note played.

At about 9:15 we went to our gate, visited the ladies room a few times and watched a huge growing line of passengers standing, but for no apparent reason. Finally I checked at the desk, and we did need to line up, but in a much less crowded section. In less than 5 minutes we boarded.

We sat in seats 44K and when I got there a lady was there. I told her it was my seat, she said she was using it to find stuff for her little girl, and nicely asked if I would wait. I did. When she finally moved. We stowed our luggage and I sat by the window. Carolyn got the aisle seat and had an entire seats worth of room next to her. Having only 2 seats is great.

We both took something to help us sleep and then played around with the various movies and other things available on our seat screens when, to our amazement, they served us dinner at midnight local time. Carolyn had chicken with rice, she got the last one. I got pasta in lobster sauce which I did not eat. There was also a grain salad of some sort that was good. The bread was good and the applesauce was tolerable. I ignored the brownie, bleh.

After they cleared all the dishes, they dimmed the lights and we went to sleep, sort of. Carolyn slept fairly well, I am not sure if I slept or not. I felt like I was awake the entire time, but it’s hard to tell.

We both got up at about 5:30am California time. We went to freshen up a bit and I got suddenly so cold I was shaking. The steward (our section has all men) gave me some coffee and worriedly checked the temp, but I told him I was ok, just reacting to being tired.

Back at our seats we sipped coffee and tried to play solitare on the screen, but it required more button pushing that either of us could stand, so we gave up. Carolyn played a game on her ipad for a while and I am typing.

We had breakfast on the plane, some sort of egg sandwich, but there were mushrooms in the same container, I did not eat them. The orange juice was yummy and the coffee was decent.

Once on the ground we got off the plane fairly quickly. The lady in the row in front of us was searching for a lost ring, so she was still there when we left.

Our luggage is going to Genoa without us, but even so, security made me throw my water away, even though I had to have been through security to get to where the next one was. Oh well.

We took a shuttle a long way to terminal 2-G and are not waiting for our 90 min. flight to Genova on HOP Regional. Once there a driver will pick us up (we hope) and take us to the hotel.

We are tired, but happy and excited.

Carolyn says she is very tired but it is well worth it.

Sunday off the ms Amsterdam and in Seattle July 5

We woke up about 7 to the sound of being at dock. Our luggage was gone, as expected. We both cleaned up and got dressed. At the Lido buffet we got juice, coffee and dry cereal. We brought it back to our room. We felt relaxed, and finally left the room about 8:30 and sat in the library until they called us. We were Yellow 1. The line to get off the ship was very long and only got longer while we waited. Once off the ship it was surprising simple. The luggage was neatly gathered by color and we found our easily. They had spread out the disembarkation very well and there were not big crowds. Once through customs we discussed our next move. There was a place we could leave the suitcases, but the temperature was headed for 95 and we were only on foot. We decided to use Uber and had a pleasant, chatty ride to the Holiday Inn. Breakfast was still going on when we arrived. We had to wait a couple of hours for our room, but the lobby was big and comfortable and we were able to use wi fi.

I was able to get our boarding passes, both “A”s and finally we got a room. Terry is very happy to have a room with wi fi and normal TV. We walked across the street to a festival near Angle Lake. It was a tiny fair with one food booth. And it was hot and there was trash everywhere. So, back to the hotel, and we have ordered a pizza to be delivered from a local pizza place called Pizza Time. Hopefully it will be good, but even mall pizza is better than what they had on the ship.

Our plane leaves tomorrow at 12:25 and we are looking forward to seeing friends, Otis and home.

Are there any cruises in the future? Yes for me, but no for Terry. I will travel with an enthusiastic friend, and Terry will be happy in the garage with his scooters. And, you know, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Saturday on ms Amsterdam July 4

 

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Happy 4th of July and Happy Birthday to my nephew Axel!

We were woken up by a knock on the door, it was breakfast, an hour early, but we had forgotten the clocks were changed. The coffee was great, I should have done that every morning. The food was pretty bad. And the “frosted” flakes turned out to be cornflakes. Sigh.

We are going to a “cook-off” show at 11 and there is a 4th of July bar b que on the lido this afternoon.

The cook off show was very cute, two officers on the ship competed to make a meal with a steak and Idaho potato. The officers were funny, and the judges were fine. The hostess was weak, she couldn’t seem to think of things to say. Still it was fun to watch.

 

After the cook off I went to the Lido deck for the bar b que. I was sitting at a table watching for Terry and he, the brat, was sitting at a table behind me watching me. Finally he said hi, I can’t believe I did not see him. I had a bowl of ice cream and Terry didn’t eat anything. We are both looking forward to our dinner at the Skinny Tater in Victoria and then swigging down some Race Rock on tab.

 

Terry and I sat in the library for a while, I worked on my travel notebook and Terry went through his photos on the ipad. He has taken some amazing photos! When we got back to the room we began packing. We have to put our luggage out before midnight. I guess we will shower tonight.

One thing that apparently most cruises do is advertise a LOT of things for sale. Here is a photo of all the flyers put in our cabin during the cruise. We did not care for this at all.

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Terry hung out in the room and I went to the ships Dancing With The Stars show. This was by far the best show I have seen on this trip. Every day they have offered dancing lessons, and 3 men and 3 women passengers were selected to be in the competition. The stage was set like the show with a judges table and the 3 judges had paddles with scores. The show began with a dance from the ships dance group. Then we saw a brief video with Bruno and Len to introduce the show. We were introduced to all the contestants and then they came out one at a time to dance and be judged. Each passenger on the stage was paired with a professional. They danced one dance each, a Samba, a waltz and a Jive. The first dance was a Samba and the woman passenger was very good, though she almost had a costume problem when her strapless dress threatened to fall down. They were all very good. One lady missed a few steps but they all did a great job with dances they had barely learned. Five of the teams got all 10’s and one team got all nines. Then we all got to cheer for a pair and a winner was declared. I had a favorite but he came in third. This winner will be compared to all the ms Amsterdam winners throughout the season and the best one will compete against the best dancer/passenger from all the HAL ships. This big dance off will be held on a cruise that will include some of the professionals and some of the stars. It was all very cool.

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We will dock in Victoria at about 6pm and we are looking forward to it.

We waited in a long line to get off the ship, and finally we were in a taxi heading toward the Skinny Tater. Once inside, we were recognized by the lady owner. We ordered a deluxe plate for Terry and a vegetarian plate for me. TO start we each had a cup of the wonderful pickle soup. Mmmmm. My plate came with 4 perogis, 2 salads and 3 potato pancakes. Terry had perogis, smoked sausage and stuffed cabbage. The food was not as good as we remembered, it was BETTER! We ate slowly and savored every bite. When we had eaten every bit, we paid and strolled along the street, enjoying our stuffed stomachs.

Every waiter and waitress in Victoria has one of these little devices. You can add in a tip and you sign on the screen and out comes the receipt. Very easy to use.

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Pickel Soup YUM!IMG_2472

We went to the Bard & Banker to enjoy a glass of Race Rock beer on tap. This was not nearly as good as remembered, neither of us finished. Oh well. We would rather have the food good and it was. We decided to walk back to the ship and stopped at Starbucks for cookies, molasses and oatmeal rasin. US Starbucks need to carry these cookies.

On the way to the ship we came across the same man who had carved the hummingbird I bought when we visited Seattle last October. I was glad to see him because the picture we had taken was lost. So now I have a picture of this excellent craftsman.

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Back at the ship we finished packing and are relaxing on our last night as cruisers. We arrive in Seattle at 7am tomorrow and are supposed to be off the ship by 9:30. Our flight home is Sunday. This has been an interesting trip, some great days and some so, so.

IMG_0122Goodbye ms Amsterdam

 

 

Friday on ms Amsterdam July 3

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We woke up early and excited. Zip lineing, hooray and OH MY!!!
I wore my fleece lined leggings and a book t shirt and a book sweatshirt, and carried a jacket, but it was an extremely warm day and the sweatshirt proved enough. We did not have breakfast, we had to get up at 6:30 and be on the dock at 7:20.
Our driver of the Grayline bus that picked us up was a nice girl named Kat. She chatted with us, and the two brothers from our ship, who were also going. She stopped at another cruise line and picked up about 12 people who were going on a rainforest hike. When we reached the base camp for zip lining she let us off and continued on her way. Then, we were driven in a big four wheeler called a Unimog to the place where we got all hooked into our gear. Our guides, Taylor and Jeff were great. Young men, they were funny and casual but obviously very professional. I was nervous and they made me feel safe, I could tell they knew what they were doing. We left all our stuff, jackets, purse, etc in a big box and watched a tiny safety film, which was pretty useless.

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We put on red helmets and gloves that are big and silly and they guys began helping us into our harness. As we left the little building we walked out to a small platform and our first line.

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Before we started and often after that, they guys tugged on our gear and checked all the attachments. Tylor explained and demonstrated a little, how to zip line and then it was our turn. The brothers went first and then me. Tylor was at the next platform and Jeff hooked my sling to the cable and told me I could go. I thought about it for a brief moment and then stepped off.

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Wow, it was great. The gear completely holds you so you do not need to use any strength to zip line. As directed, I held my little handels, leaned way back and crossed my ankles. As I neared Tylor he called out to break. I lay one hand on the cable above me and that slowed me down. We had been warned not to grip it. Just as me feet were at the platform Tylor reached out and tugged me in. It was like flying, like going up on a swing when you’re a kid and feeling sure that you can touch the clouds.
Tylor and Jeff always seemed to know whose clip was whose and gave us turns to be first. After we had zipped a few times, we went on the longest one, almost 800 feet. I would have been happy if it had been twice that long!
On one of the platforms, Jeff, the comedian, shouted “oh no, wait” to one of the brothers just as he took off. Not being the victims of this prank we laughed at his horrified face. But he laughed also. I sternly warned Jeff that jokes were not to be played on me.
Next we walked across a suspension bridge. It was more like a narrow wooden curb than a bridge. We were hooked on but about halfway across we all stopped and enjoyed the scenery. We had such beautiful sunny weather, we saw several eagles but no bear. We chatted and joked on the bridge and then finished the walk. The last part was very up hill, I got to a place where there were no knots in the rope and I was almost stuck, I had nothing to keep from sliding back. Finally I got a good grip on the rope rail and pulled hard and got across. There was a second smaller bridge and though I was hooked on and holding the rail ropes, I still slid on the slightly down hill part, I shouted that I was ice skating!
Then we came to the last platform. I was sad, we had been having such a very good time. It was too soon, I wanted to zip all day!

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There was photographers along the way and the last one took some group shots. Once we got out of all our gear we went into the little store for some salmon on crackers, cookies and coffee. Terry bought a water for us. I bought 4 photos, one of each of us, and one group shot and one from the suspension bridge. They were very pricey but had to have them.
We looked at the small blacksmiths shop and visited Sitka, a beautiful bald eagle who lives there. She was hit by a car when she was a year old and lost a back talon and injured her wing. She is not able to go back and has lived there a long time. She is huge, 13 pounds, and very majestic.

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Our van arrived to take us back to town. We chatted about our adventure and the driver pointed out interesting sights. Back in town our plan was to wander around and see the sights. We only had about 2 hours until our ship was leaving. Suddenly we realized Terry did not have his messanger bag. We did a quick cabin check and then panicked a bit. A nice crossing guard (live signals) gave us the number for a cab and we were soon on our way back. The driver was a nice guy and chatted with us about fishing and his life in Alaska. When we got to the store, he waited while we jumped out, Terry ran to his last spot and I went in the store where they were just looking at the bag and trying to decide what to do. Whew! It was a $70 mistake, but that’s life. Back in town, our time was very short, so we walked a tiny bit and then used the rest of the time to take advantage of having some internet.

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I had some lunch while Terry finished loading pictures to our laptop and ipads. I had chicken and mashed potatoes again, safe and easy, tastes best to me. They were having a beerfest on the pool deck and though I skipped the beer, I did take some of the bratwurst to Terry. Along with 2 very large pretzel breads. For dessert, Angie scooped strawberry and chocolate with nuts and chocolate syrup for me.
I was able to make 6:30 dinner reservations for tonight at the Pinacle Grill. Hopefully the food will be better, since it is $29 apiece but anything will beat ship food.
We went to the Pinacle Grill with high hopes. We were seated in a nice booth, and the hostess laid a jacket across on of our chairs to imply Terry had a jacket, pretty funny. We were served an appetizer that was escargot in a cream sauce, it was wonderful and we had a good feeling. I ordered a baked potato and a medium rare, bone in rib eye. Terry got the same and we also ordered grilled asparagus. For starters Terry had crabcakes and I had lobster bisque. The potato was good of course, and I though my steak was delicious. I did not care for the asparagus or the soup, but Terry found them to be ok. He though his steak was too fatty. I only wished I had smuggled in a baggy, because I must have left over half my steak and they wouldn’t wrap it to go. I had coffee and sherbet for dessert and Terry had fresh berries. The best part of dinner was how peaceful it was in the restaurant instead of the chaos of the Lido deck.

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After dinner I went to the lounge to watch another singing/dancing show and Terry headed for the room. He had to take his key to the front desk because it stopped opening the door, but they fixed it. When the show was over I went back to the cabin and we spent the rest of the evening watching movies. It was very relaxing.
I filled out the breakfast order form and hopefully the food will be decent.
I have been doing most of my writing in the ships library, it is fairly peaceful here and the table / chair height ratio is perfect for me.
Tomorrow we will get to Victoria about 6pm. A long ride ahead of us.

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Thursday on the ms Amsterdam July 3

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Today got off to a wild start, at about 1am almost everyone on the ship (some slept) experienced a lot of turbulence. It was crazy, it was enough to toss you off your bed. Terry and I looked out the window, it was not a storm, it was just very rough sea. Though it was impossible to fall back to sleep for a while I was pleased to not feel ill. I guess my seasickness wrist bands are working, so that is good to know. Eventually we fell asleep, I’m sure most people did.

 

Morning came to a calm sea, we were now close to Sitka, our second stop. We took our time getting up and showering and then went to the Lido Buffet for some breakfast. The lines are so long, so disorganized and the food is only mediocre, what a pain! I much prefer the river cruise style of breakfast, with the cold food out and hot food is ordered and brought to you. Of course there are only 200 people on the river cruise and almost 2000 on this ship.

 

When we were all ready, we went, as directed, to the Wajang theatre to get a number which would allow us to be “tendered” to shore. In large, covered boats they took about 50 of us at a time. It was a quick, easy ride to the nearby dock.

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Sitka is a tiny, charming little town. We headed toward the B___________ Castle. It was such a nice stroll, with so many pretty plants and flowers along the way. Once up the hill, we found only a small, round park overlooking the sea. The “castle” which had only been a mansion, had burned down long ago and the land was dedicated as a park to honor the sale of Alaska to the USA from Russia. There were some informative signs, most interesting to me was the one about the actual transfer of land ceremony. There were a bunch of American soldiers and a few Russian soldiers, there were the representatives from each country to make the change and a planned ceremony of lowering the Russian Flag and raising the American Flag. Unfortunately the Russian Flag was stuck and after two climbing attempts to free it had failed, they tried another tactic. The soldier got the flag free, but to the horror of onlookers, he dropped it to the ground. Amid this embarrassing situation, the American Flag was quickly raised, hands shaken and they quickly departed.

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Because of it’s native and Russian beginnings the town has a strong Russian influence. We visited several shops with the Russian nesting dolls and Faberge Eggs. I bought a few souvenirs, it’s hard because I do not want to get stuff made in China, neither do I want to spend a huge amount of money for native made items. I would have loved to buy my mom a set of nesting dolls, she used to love them so much.

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The flowers were simply beautiful, it’s nice to visit places that are not in drought! We also so wild raspberries growing in many places. Terry took way too many pictures to post but here are some favorites.

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We saw a building that was a senior residence, it was a very old building that had gone through several changes until finally refurbished. They had a tiny gift shop with handmade items from the residents, as well as some other items. I bought a few things, glad that my money was going to such a nice place.

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We then headed for the other side of the harbor to see the famous totem poles and their special park and museum. The totems were fine, but the forest walk was great. The foliage was beautiful and some of the plants had HUGE leaves! We also saw and heard a mated pair of bald eagles. I wondered if they knew Liberty and Spirit, a pair of eagles who live in Northern California. The walk was through a forest, but also along the shore. We wished we could bring some of the beautiful driftwood home, but settled for pictures.

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LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THIS LEAF!

 

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Having seen everything we were interested in, we headed back to the dock. As we passed a shack selling Clam Chowder, Terry suggested we try it. The chowder was wonderful! We were both reminded of the amazing lobster bisque we had from a tiny shack on Martha’s Vineyard. You just never know for sure where the good food will be.

The last tender was to be at 3:30, but we returned about 1:00.

I was very tired, having had little sleep last night, so I took a long nap while Terry watched TV. There is always a movie on which is good and bad. Good cause the movies are current and bad because Terry will start watching in the middle and just as I find myself involved in the story and an exciting part comes along, he stands us and suggests we go out. I have never, and will never, understand how he does that.

We went to the buffet for dinner and sat by the pool. There was a very good jazz band playing. The ship was moving a lot and the swimming pool was swishing the swimmers back and forth, they were shrieking with delight and mock terror. Finally the crew had to close the pool so no one could get hurt. For dinner I had steak, chicken and potatoes. It sounds like a lot but I barely made a dent. Between the ship motion and the not great food, neither of us are eating a lot. However, my favorite server, Angie, always has great food, because she scoops ice cream. We are on a first name basis.

 

The disnitigration of manners and the unawareness of appropriate behavior is apparent on the ship. A older man who was extremely sweaty from his workout came to a table by the pool, and lay on the floor to do sit ups. It was not a very nice sight. A lady took a diapered baby into the Jacuzzi, yuck. And a very large man was leaning back in the Jacuzzi entertaining his friends with the sight of his huge belly. He looked like a beached whale. Terry looked over and said “you never have a harpoon when you need one”. Lol.

 

We took our dessert back to the room to find another nice surprise! Terry immediately found Million Dollar Baby to watch on TV and I went to the ships library to do some writing.

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Tomorrow we will be in Ketchikan and go ziplining in the morning. I am excited about that.

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