Sunday, July 19, 2009


Got home last night, five flights in 24 days, yikes! Hubby picked me up at baggage claim, no comments about who the baggage was. Greeted at home by dogs and son, one was all over me and one was asking where his presents were! I'll leave it to you to guess who was who! 
Unpacked this morning and doled out goodies, everyone seemed pleased, well it's too late now anyways.
I've been going over my pics today, 463 in all, putting together a remembrance book via iphoto, never done it before so fingers are crossed.
Signing off for the time being, next trip is in a month...see you then.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Spent a few days with sis in CT, tomorrow I'm on my way home. I don't suppose my guys will have caviar waiting for me every night!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009




Landed on U.S. soil last night. Flew through customs. Met by limo and whisked away to Milford, CT. Managed to stay awake until midnight, just to adjust to jet lag. Started laundry this morning, with Starbucks in hand! Still rocking but assume it's not a lasting sensation! Here are the promised pics from London town.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yesterday we went to lunch at the Tate Britain, for those of you who have not been in London in recent years that is the old Tate as opposed to the Tate Modern which is across the river. We viewed an exhibit of Turner in conjunction with Rothko. Showing the modernism of Turner, use of light and abstract much unheard of in the mid 1800's. Turner's work in comparison with his contemporaries was very different and led to criticism during his lifetime. After lunch at the Rex Whistler restaurant, not one I'd recommend, we headed off on foot along the Thames. 
Took in the sights of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben. We then wound our way toward Buckingham Palace via St. James Park and finally back to our hotel. 
We truly did try for high tea but were an hour early so we opted for a drink and strawberries at the bar! Next we went to Harrod's, I know not why...oh yes souvenirs. It is a crowded, hot, big department store, really nothing special, except for the food court. I imagine most everyone there was a visitor not a Londoner. 
We had dinner at an Indian restaurant, Benares. A very upscale Indian restaurant, not like the small strip mall varieties we find ourselves in at home. It was excellent fare, well recommended by the hotel concierge.
By the by if you ever do have a chance the Lanesborough was a great hotel, the accommodation roomy and comfortable, the staff was very friendly and helpful, it's a good location for exploring the city, and the best high tea in London; the bar is good too!
Today we find ourselves sitting at Heathrow awaiting our flight back to the states. I will post our London pics tomorrow.
I understand some of you have commented on the blog but I have not received them all. I also wish that I would stop rocking, we've been off the ship now for three days and I'm still feeling the motion.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Today we slept in, first time in twelve or so days. Had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel. Headed over to the British museum (approximately a 2 mile walk) via Hyde Park (speakers corner was very lively today), up Oxford Street (oh my the crowds), and hooked a left onto Bloomsbury Street (Virginia Wolfe and cohorts area), mistakingly went in back entrance (actually good idea because when we exited onto Russell Street side it was a zoo). Saw the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian and Greek exhibits (plundered antiquities) and decided enough was enough. The museums in London are free which makes for a crowded experience but still a good idea. After all the walking we hailed a cab which took us back to our hotel in a round about way, an unexpected sightseeing trip! As soon as we arrived we headed to the bar, yippee! We are off to eat seafood tonight, will let you know how that goes tomorrow. Sorry no pics, been to London town several times now and don't feel like toting camera around, will consider it for tomorrow.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

We all went our separate ways today, I guess reunion/vacation is over. Next year it's on to Chicago!
Crackup and Intrepid Traveler though are still on the road. We had a smooth transfer from the ship to the airport via the Imperial Hotel in Copenhagen, (just a holding pen until it was time to head for the airport). The airport was a bit of a zoo, not much in the way of signage to guide the traveler unfamiliar with the set up. We were able to find the right people to ask the right questions and everything went smoothly. 
Landed in London, gained another hour, baggage was off by the time we finished in the rest room, and were met by a driver from the hotel. We are staying at the Lanesborough, at the corner of  
Hyde Park Corner. We are at this very moment having high tea in our mini suite. Rain has followed us but I'm sure we won't leave our umbrellas behind like we did yesterday in Copenhagen when the skies opened.

Friday, July 10, 2009



Copenhagen, Denmark......

A flourishing medieval trade center at the entrance to the Baltic.
Neighboring countries of Sweden and Norway.
Now a cosmopolitan city, a political and cultural center, Copenhagen has many parks, a loooong shopping street where you can find anything your heart desires (mostly), Tivoli Gardens (an amusement park, 2nd oldest in the world), and the Little Mermaid rests in the harbor. Hans Christian Andersen was raised in the Nyhaven area, or the “canal quarter” where we had a fabulous lunch. He was poverty ridden and failed as an actor before he took up the pen, first as a poet which won him patronage from the king. We spent the day walking around the city, of course we did go down that shopping street, saw Amalienborg Palace, the residence of the royal family since 1794, City Hall, Tivoli Gardens, Hard Rock Cafe, and the Little Mermaid.
Most of our packing is done and we disembark tomorrow morning...on to London.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Lovely Lubeck & Kiel, Germany.....

We didn’t spend much time in Kiel. We were off on the bus by 9:30am on our way to lovely Lubeck. Lubeck is a medieval city, capital of the Hanseatic League. The Hanseatic League was a powerful group of trading partners across northern Europe. Lubeck is considered the first western city along the Baltic coast, it was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 1987. The Marketplatz dates back to 1230, and Marienkirche (St. Mary’s) is the country’s third largest church featuring the world’s largest mechanized organ. Thomas Mann hails from Lubeck and Lubeck is said to be the place where marzipan was invented. We had a delightful lunch and headed back to the ship just in time for sailing. Tomorrow is Copenhagen and then we’re off to London and home, eventually! 





Sachsenhausen Camp & Berlin, Germany.....July 8th

Thirteen hour bus tour and by the time we rolled onto the ship I was in no mood to write the blog. It will take me some time to process the experience of Sachsenhausen and the fact that Berlin really needs several days, not a whirlwind six hours. Today we are off to lovely Lubeck and this evening I will finish this blog.

The guides we had for the Berlin trip were great. The main person was a young man who had spent quite a bit of time traveling the world and had even attended school in Southern California. Once we arrived at the concentration camp we picked up a second guide. The camp is a memorial to the victims who passed through the gates. The guide’s commentary on the camp was frank and revealing. Raising sobering thoughts on what humans did and can do to one another and the horrendous possibility of it ever happening again. The camps started to become memorials sometime in the ‘60s when a changing attitude among younger Germans surfaced. Through a freedom of information act many of the facts that up until then denied were brought to light and acknowledged by the German populace. 

The Berlin wall came down twenty years ago, though parts have been left standing - I guess for the tourists. The graffiti that we’ve all seen from the media coverage has faded over time and the powers that be are having the original artists come back and touch up their work. 

Berlin is a lively modern city. Both east and west have integrated with the reunification.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Today I had a stone massage, you could blow me over with a feather. Lunch was vodka shots with caviar and tea sandwiches with the girls. Today is Charlotte's birthday! Tonight we dine at Nobu and as I understand it will also be disco night in bday celebration. Tomorrow we're off to Berlin.

Monday, July 6, 2009








Helsinki, Porvoo, Kiala, Finland....

This morning we awoke to the ship docking in Helsinki, Finland. One-tenth of the population lives within metropolitan Helsinki. The official language is Finnish, but they also speak Swedish (due to the conquering Swedes of old). The traffic and street signs use both languages. The major religion is Lutheran and the populace is expected to tithe 1% to the church yearly. 70% of Finland is forested, they farm wheat, barley, and canola. Fish, beef, pork, and potatoes are staples; reindeer although available in the local supermarket is rather expensive according to our guide. The Lapplanders (Samms) in the north, are only allowed to maintain herds of a certain size and they hunt to cull the herd every year. Finland has many lakes with canals that lead to and from the Baltic. Granite and copper are plentiful resources.

Our tour took us out of the city to a medieval town called Porvoo, some 45 minutes outside of Helsinki. Old town has cobble stone streets (and no sprained ankles or skinned knees to report), wooden buildings, and a cathedral. Very charming little town with many shopping opportunities (don’t expect anything). One side of town is the old section the other is modern and commercial.

We then went on to Kiala, which was a farm, and distillery. We had our lunch in the basement of the distillery, nothing really exotic but we did have a very tasty Finnish beer.

The bus headed back to Helsinki where we proceeded to see the city sights. Senate Square, Lutheran Cathedral, Rock Church, and an open air street market. We sail away at 6pm and have another day at sea tomorrow; be forewarned it is a spa day so there most likely will not be a posting.

Sunday, July 5, 2009










St. Petersburg.....

Catherine & Alexander’s Palace in Pushkin, Peterhof Park, and Nicholas ll’s mini cottage. 

Well the experience at Catherine’s digs was very different from last night’s tour. Today we were among many other groups and you will see in the pics the effect. 

Alexander’s Palace is in the process of refurbishment, with few original aspects remaining. The guide said that when the military took over much was destroyed. 

After this we went to a restaurant and had traditional Russian fare, again. This time we did get borscht, the lunch was very good. Small vodka bottles graced each table, when in Rome.....! Shots were had by all and the table next to us didn’t finish their bottle and past it on to us. The girls held their own and more!

Peterhof Park/Palace was the home of Peter the Great, we did not go inside the palace. The grounds though are magnificent, the palace sits on the Bay of Finland. 

By the time we got to the mini cottage, all of us had had enough so opted to sit outside and take in the fresh air.

We leave St. Pete as I’m writing, on to Helsinki, Finland.

I still have to post pics for yesterday Charlotte brought the camera last night and I need to get her flash card. For some reason posting pics tonight is taking too long, will try some other time.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


St. Petersburg.....
Tonight we went to Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin. There was a band playing as we entered the grounds, a tour of the palace and royal carriages, with demonstrations of music and dancing. It is a grand place with many more in the Czar village which we will see tomorrow; one wonders or not when such wealth is spent and such opulent lifestyles are lived by a select few why the “everyman” revolted! We had a good time though, we expected to eat in the palace but instead were shuttled off to a palace annex. Not a place Catherine would have eaten. There was great entertainment and a celebration of my birthday thanks to the ladies with whom I‘m traveling. The food was supposed to be typical Russian fare but I didn’t see a beet anywhere.
 Topped the night off with a nightcap and sing along in the piano bar on board ship. All and all a festive fourth.
I have a video to add to this post but it is taking too long to download, and as it is almost 3am and we have to be on the road by 7am I think I'll try posting the video tomorrow/later today.
video




St. Petersburg.....

Today we took a tour to the Hermitage. The Hermitage is a museum, encompassed within five buildings. One of which is the Winter Palace, Catherine the Great was the Czarina who first started collecting the work and named it the Hermitage. Our tour unfortunately was only three hours long and there are five or six cruise ships in port. Needless to say in was hot and crowded. The guide whisked us from room to room giving us little chance to see any of the pieces. If you ever get to St. Petersburg it would be well worth it to secure a private tour, we would have liked to have had time to go on our own but everything is controlled. Tonight we go to Catherine’s Palace for dinner so I will not be blogging until....I don’t know when. Tomorow is a full day excursion of palaces and Peterhof.

Friday, July 3, 2009





Thanks JWC for permission to just have fun, I can assure you we all our doing our best. I haven't posted on the bar stories because children may be listening!


St. Petersburg, Russia - the Venice of Northern Europe. Built on a marshland by Peter the Great in an effort to regain a port city and start bringing Russia into the western world. Formerly Petrograd, formerly Leningrad. Our guide said that for people born before 1991 their passports name the city of birth as Leningrad and the country as USSR, both a city and country that no longer exists. 

The skies were dotted with dark clouds this morning threatening rain. We were fortunate that our afternoon tour was dry and mostly sunny. We went to the Church on the Spilled Blood, and cruised the canals for a different view of the city. 

The Church on the Spilled Blood, was the site of the assassination attempt of Alexander ( I think the lll, but don’t hold my feet to the fire on that one). The church was fashioned after St Basil’s in Moscow. When the revolution did away with religion it was used as a storehouse, a lot of churches were leveled to the ground. More than a generation went by and most had no idea what treasures lay inside; the build up of dirt and grime hid the mosaics. It took years of painstaking,(we’re talking toothbrushes) cleaning to bring the church and it’s art back to life. It is no longer in use as a church but as a “museum.”

Our canal trip took us on the Neva, some of the sites we saw: the Hermitage, Aurora (ship that fired the first shot of the revolution), former KGB building (has a basement with the best view of Siberia), Trinity bridge (given to Russia by the French - designed and installed by Eiffel), palaces (because one is never enough), and the Peter & Paul Fortress (first structure of the settlement of St. Petersburg). 

Not to forget the ever present souvenir shop, don’t expect anything.

We had a delightful day, a quiet dinner aboard ship, and some young up and coming entertainers this evening. 


Pictures:

locks on bridge- day of wedding groom puts lock on bridge to ensure a strong marriage.

yellow building w/ three antennas- former KGB ( now named something different but same game!)

Church on the Spilled Blood

church mosaics

Aurora,( by the way the flag on the ship is St. Andrew's, the patron saint of their Navy)

1950's "Stalin style" apartments


Tomorrow, bright and early, we head to the Hermitage.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

I understand from one reader that I need to be blogging more often. Ok, but between all the meals, social engagements, and sightseeing we're doing finding the time is difficult. So I will endeavor to bring you more info and pics as the days go on.
We docked in St. Petersburg this morning. Much red tape and general bureaucracy to go through, they even brought dogs on board. If you didn't plan a shore excursion through the ship you had to obtain your own visa, otherwise the Russians don't let you off the ship. Here I was thinking the Russia of today was more progressive. 
In response to the question of whether the work out clothes are being used. Other than moving them  from suitcase to drawer, no! Though we have actually stepped into the gym, just inside the doorway to be precise. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2009




This is our last day in Stockholm. Overall Stockholm is a lovely city with gracious and friendly people. It prides itself on the many green spaces and the “green,” ecologically speaking, attitude of the country. I have been told I’ve been remiss, by “Intrepid Traveler,” that I did not mention we had dinner the other night in a former prison. To be precise our table was in a cell. We had traditional Swedish fare and it was very good. We’ve just had our life boat drill, and are preparing to leave port.  On our way to St. Petersburg. Tomorrow is a sea day and is a spa day for us as well so there will probably not be a posting.