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As you can see – there aren’t many ports on this trip which means that there are a lot of sea days.
Yes, I know that I have been threatening to move websites, blogs and all the rest of it for several months now.
It is happening. I haven’t yet been able to replicate everything from here over to the new site as of yet but I have started to move pages, pix and the blog starting as of 1 Oct (yes, this year – 2018 AD).
admittedly, I decided that I would rather keep it simple and not have a title or name that made it hard to find. The “.net” is easy – “.com” is already tied up till I close down the websites on the German server….
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Vigo on a Sunday
October 4th, 2015 Holly Comments off
Proved to be a lovely city for a walk. Without stores open, the streets weren’t crowded with shoppers. Instead, families were out strolling and tourists were able to gawk without appearing complete rubes.
It was up the hill and off to the left this time rather than hiking up and down the twisty streets and alleys of old town. I got to see some of the more modern sculpture, trees, shaped plants and parks.
Do you start at the top and work down with what ails you?
Do you start with the first practitioner and work down with what ails you?
We hadn’t arrived till 1000, on schedule in spite of 50+ knot winds. Our departure was smooth. Passing once again some of the islands off the coast, we were all rapidly enveloped by fog….
a hazy, foggy exit
I hit the wall today considering travel, time zones and disruption of anything even remotely resembling a normal sleep cycle. It is a good thing it was a sea day.
Last night was mostly dozing on and off which means that I was both cranky and groggy this morning. The knitting entertainment with a fellow knitter from the Grandeur (2011? 2012) was followed by a shortened Cruise Critic meeting, lunch and what was going to be a short nap.
About six hours later I surfaced enough to realize that most of the day was gone. I managed to stagger around at glacial speed preparing for dinner. It was formal night and I had promised a friend to join him for dinner. Eating at Chops was a good way to burn out another 2/1 dinner coupon. Right now the plan is to eat there again on the last night of this cruise. I am not sure that they are going to be happy to see me. Normally I adore the forest mushroom soup. This version was too heavy on the cream and light on the mushrooms. The salad was terrific but for the goat cheese which was supposed to be baked and turned out to be ice cold in the middle. By the time my entree appeared I think the waiter was holding his breath. The tuna and side dishes were excellent I assured him (and the manager) several times.
[aside – I always have mixed emotions on reporting food that doesn’t quite meet the standard. In this case it wasn’t really a complaint since the food wasn’t bad or unsafe – more like an observation that neither the soup nor the salad were as good as the same I had had on the Serenade just a couple of weeks ago. It makes me uncomfortable to say anything, but I don’t want to avoid menu items I would normally order. Does that make any sense?]
It was after 2200 by the time we finished eating. More than time to crash.
is now in the past. This birthday is different only in that it marks a turning point in those basic interactions with the government which most of us want to avoid. Part A & B of Medicare come to mind. In the same way, I’m hoping to avoid a fuss and absolutely detest public recognition or embarrassment. Specifically singing waiters and other assorted displays. Obviously, I am speaking to dinner possibilities this evening.
I don’t have any particularly brilliant thoughts to share. It has been a good year, an interesting year in which I have been fortunate enough to travel to areas of the world new to me as well as revisit places I enjoy. I have made new friends as well as maintained contact with those I have known for years.
There have been other milestones – probably the most significant (besides that pesky Medicare Part A & B) is renewing my medical license for the 40th time. I guess that balances managing to lose both a jacket and a phone on the same trip. Photo courtesy of one of my fellow traveler’s and probably the location of the escaped phone.
Godafoss – Iceland
Thank you all for the well wishes on this, my 65th birthday. This coming year should be interesting complete with family, travel and a number of professional meetings. We will be closing out the house in Heidelberg, seeing the Eldest move into her own home later this fall, the College Guy transfer, Ms Chicago return to school and Ms Maus take on NYC. I’ll be on land a bit more, on ships a bit less and following the example of my good friend Carmen – start to make serious decisions on all that “stuff” I have been hauling around for years.
OTOH – I can finally set up my Play-mobile trains, the weather in Berkeley is pretty decent….. Garden Gauge thank you very much……
Is the ship I am boarding starting tomorrow from Southampton. Between now and then – I have my plane to LHR, the National Express Bus to Southampton and three rounds to go with Barclay’s bank. I also have to figure out what I might possibly have planned since I am sure that I made arrangements to join a group at least in Gibraltar.
(Exhausted and still time zone whacked – it is now 1930 in the evening. I have been to Barclays. I am checked into the hotel. I found something for supper. The Wifi is free.
Any of the errands I had planned – in fact – none of the errands on the schedule.
In fact, none of them happened. I didn’t go to ADAC to get my driver’s license replaced. I didn’t drive to Kleber Caserne to do the same with my ID card (after all – it doesn’t expire for another couple of days).
Instead, I concentrated on tossing out a few more things that really needed to be in the trash rather than in the house. Packing for tomorrow’s departure took a bit of time mostly to maximize choices with a minimum number of shoes. I’ll drop off more books (30) at the USO, drink coffee in the Lufthansa Lounge and be in the UK by 1000.
We had barely taken off yesterday when the line of men headed for the toilets started. Unlike on a weekend, business class was over 60% obvious middle aged men on their way to/from important meetings. The rest of the seats re filled with an assortment of elderly women, super cool looking dudes, well fed couples + me. Notice that I did not mention children? Child free is always good when heading east and wishing to sleep.
This plane is name “Beijing”. Why? Asking, I received a lovely informative spiel from the cabin steward. It seems that when the Airbus 380’s went into service they started naming them for the distant cities they connected with Frankfurt and München. Tokyo, Beijing, Johannesburg etc.
Sleep, wake, catch a train. It happened to be the Basel train running late so that I didn’t have to wait another 35 minutes for the one I had booked. Changing in Mannheim, I was home in reasonable order in time to empty the mailbox and get some serious sleep.
No surprise – I am sitting in the United Lounge at SFO since Lufthansa doesn’t have their own lounge. United being the bragging but cheaper member of Star Alliance they grace their lounge with a couple of vegetarian lunch options (same hummus, olives, peppers, tabouli and garden vegetable soup as the last time) along with sugar loaded sweets. Not that I tried the different colors of Skittles to see if they were actually all the same or anything…
My flight boards for Frankfurt about 1430 and we arrive after 1000 tomorrow morning. Instead of traveling a lot lighter going home the extra bag is yarn for various people, souvenir pins for the next set of cruises, costumes for the cruise after that and the list goes on. When all is said and done – it feels like I am not making all that much progress in moving stuff out of Germany.
* Fenton – starring character in one of Tom Smith’s Filk Songs (Sheep Marketing Ploy (The Ballad of Fenton) (from Sounds Familiar)). If you have a sense of humor and enjoy filk – follow the link. If you have no clue as to what I am talking about – never mind.
This is the puzzle that has been hanging out in the puzzle keeper since I was here in June. A vintage poster from the days when sailing across the ocean was either necessity or luxury and unlikely anything in the middle.
Like all of Liberty’s puzzles, they are wooden, laser cut and well seasoned with whimsy pieces.
This at is the figure that the shuttle driver provided during the extremely short ride from where I was staying over to the Mall. Which Mall – that of America of course. After all, I flew into the MPLS-St Paul Airport.
That many people visit Mall of America every year? Why? Even if I subtract out the numbers for those who work there, it still makes the 5 Million a year who used to walk by our doors in Heidelberg seem paltry.
I took the shuttle over. I walked around. There are a lot of stores, most of which either strongly resemble national and international chains. Except for several which feature “Minnesota” souvenirs, books, t-shirts, magnets, slippers and recipe books. Otherwise? Mostly there are just a lot of stores, almost matched by the number of places where you can consume calories. The amusement park in the center runs year round, but by far the most popular is the water park on the lower level. Outdoor water sports aren’t possible most of the year – in winter it is cold, in summer there are mosquitos….
I was bored a lot more quickly than I expected and returned on the early shuttle. Hotel lobby with Wifi was much more peaceful.
After watching from my balcony a short while, I made the hike up to Deck 12 and an unobstructed view. Having been to NYC a few times, I could actually recognize landmarks from Brooklyn’s bridge to Staten Island to the ferries, Manhattan Skyline, the Lady.
The bridges in San Francisco are light with golden light, more visible in the fog. Not New York, light bright and white, they shine silver in the early morning.
Bringing out the Cake
Carefully lowering it into place
Huh – looks a lot like the souvenir cruise pin
Map – land and water – check. Route? – check…. I tried turning it “right side up” so that you could read the “Transatlantic Crossing” better but it looked really weird due to the edging on the sides.
This is our last sea day, our last day on the ship and packing day (oh, what fun….. not). What I managed to pass off on the way here has been replaced by Faroes & Icelandic Yarn requested by various individuals. Plus a couple of towels. Of course, I underestimated the amount of space taken up by two bath sheet size towels even when not overly thick and bearing a Crown/Anchor logo.
Off the plane at a reasonable time in the morning, transfer to the airport then a long wait before my flights.
Walk up the hill away from the harbor next to the Atlantic Superstore. Not far, just a parallel street or two and you are out of the tourist area and into the real city. There are painted ladies reminiscent of San Fransisco, locally painted signs, lost cats heart wringing posters on the telephone poles.
The English influence is everywhere: the public gardens, hotel names and brick architecture and construction details. The Irish fill the Catholic cemetery while the Scots have both the Province name and much of the music.
Halifax is also a a university city with more than its share of medium and high rise ugly cement slab dorms and signs for apartments and sublets in many windows. Then there are the discounts on offer, perhaps Tuesday or Thursday but never on the weekend when more money is to had from he tourists.
I walked up and past the old fort looking down on the harbor. The first time I was here, 2010 off the Costa Atlântica, Noah and I explored it. Our timing was right for both canon firing and a change of the guards in what I sincerely hoped was period uniforms.
I had wondered about the horses before spotting the sign for the Junior Lancers opposite the Citadel High School.
On the flats above the museum and boardwalk is an area of wooden houses. For Americans, it is like the oldest buildings in Bar Harbor or Portland. Homes under historic preservation stand next to tries of obviously the same era but owned by those who don’t want that burden. A Well tended house may share a wall with one which probably saw more care and live in previous centuries. A kaleidoscope of colors brighten your eyes. No rows of demure white here, but a riot of combination that would case massive heart attacks and strokes in the stuffier homeowners associations.
Which doesn’t mean that historic markers aren’t present.
The next time you are here, after strolling the boardwalk, seeing the maritime Museum and contemplating the citadel, take a few minutes to explore a neighborhood or two. See the hidden gems adding cheer to what could be the grey of an Atlantic costal town winter. The graffiti that is art.
near the harbor
We have been inured in fog for several days now. At a time when there is massive magnetic storm activity and the solar winds are blowing and dancing, elsewhere in Northern Latitudes there have been incredible Auras in the night sky.
Us? Physically located on the globe where the possibilities are great – no chance.
To see the Northern Lights you need just a few things: clear skies, cold, dark, and appropriate solar winds. We have had overcast skies at night (when it is dark) since leaving Oslo. Except, of course, when it was raining. Which has been just about every night since we have been at sea.
Now I understand variable temperatures related to the ocean. There is a lot of water. We are sailing on it. That means that there is water in the air. It is fall in the Northern Hemisphere. Most of the time we get clouds and rain. I look out every night into white capped seas and sheets of fine rain and mist blowing past my balcony. The sky is a mass of clouds overhead.
I can’t give you pictures – that wonderful light show has been taking place, but well above the clouds which block my view. So if you want to see pictures – follow the Aurora Gallery Link @ SpaceWeather.com where those who have been fortunate with clear skies have been posting some incredible photos.
Instead, you can know that it was our last of five days at sea. The morning knit group again managed to take over a significant portion of Cafe Latitudes. The passenger choir performed four songs in the Atrium in the early afternoon. And there was, again, way too much available food.
You can’t make anyone see reason. All you can do is throw a big party around reason and see who shows up.
Its been fourteen years since the world as the US knew it literally exploded in its face in one of the most painful ways possible. The attacks on the New York World Trade Center and Pentagon were not the impulsive work of an unhappy loner. It wasn’t domestic terrorism. This was not the Oklahoma bombing or the Uni bomber. The attack on one of the financial centers of the world and a major communications hub in New York City was a long planned, carefully thought out and executed act by a well funded and determined group.
The repercussions are still being felt. Multiple countries and thousands of families around the world were personally affected. All of us who were on active duty at the time knew at least one of those in the Pentagon. Most in the financial markets had a connection. But for thousands it was personal, caused a loss and impact that drastically changed the course of their lives.
The events of that day became fodder for countless news stories, journal articles, novels, memories and not a few criminal investigations.
It is difficult to say, but what became apparent over the next days, months and years was the depth of the hate some of the non-government organizations had for groups not like themselves coupled with the need to exterminate all those not agreeing. Violence, once again became an acceptable way to make your point. Not as a single individual or splinter group but as a major player on the world stage.
In certain mind sets the response was easy: military strike. Wipe them out, hunt them down. In doing so, it is easily possible to further the case you are trying to defeat. Demonstrating on CNN that you are the “evil western infidels” who are trying to destroy your particular way of life. Having started the fight has nothing to do with your reaction.
Poke the tiger with a stick, the tiger responds.
See! I told you the tiger is dangerous!
If it had only been that particular day and that particular set of government and military responses against essentially non-government allied groups we might have been able to settle down in a different world with a bit more fear but stability. Its not a pretty picture. Instead we are now mired in a conflict that looks to replace the Cold War for the next decades and beyond. This time there are not parties to sit down at a table and negotiate a peace. In truth I don’t think those on either side particularly want to the other to survive.
Militaries don’t just attack enemies in their plan to win a war. They fund research, search for tactical, technical and industrial advances to better be able to find and conquer their enemies. Parallel tanks rolling with cyber warfare. In this case it worked both ways. Monitoring found “enemies.” Cellphones let small groups and individuals better wreak havoc and kill. Drones can be piloted from half a world a way. Kill what is hopefully your enemy (if the intelligence is correct and it is not a school or clinic) and go home to your family in the evening.
Is it Ender’s Game, creating reality out of fiction?
We have stopped looking outward. The universe beyond our planet has been returned to those who write and read speculative fiction and isn’t a frontier of science and discovery. We look, but we don’t plan on seeing, traveling, exploring. As a global society, we seriously aren’t taking care of our planet. We continue to pump oil, destroy land, deliberately destroy forests while insisting that large parts of the “Third World” remain pristine so that we all can enjoy them. Those same parts of the world are riddled with disease and poverty. Unlike in earlier centuries communications have enabled the farmer whose crops were just elephant destroyed to know and see how others live their lives. To be told that he can’t kill the elephant, to be inundated with foreign images. One can hardly blame a parent for wanting better for their children which might just mean enough food to survive to the next growing season or a bed net to prevent mosquito bites.
Our world has become smaller, interconnected. Many aren’t adapting and are seeking to return to that time of history where Religion was reality and authority had all the answers. No thinking, no choices, just follow the prescribed path in this world. I am reminded of the Bug-Blatter Beast: just put the towel over your head and they won’t bother you.
Since I walked to the front of our local synagogue chapel with this shaggy haired bearded guy with us both looking probably like refugees from an early decade. I did forgo flowers for my hair and I wasn’t carrying any either. But long hair and large glasses were definitely in attendance.
We were embarking on a new stage of our lives; more or less in our own fashion. If anyone noticed, that Sunday certainly foreshadowed what our lives were going to be. Our path to that point hadn’t been traditional, why would we expect our future to be?
A couple of years ago I counted up moves, children, houses and countries lived in, cars and other challenges which we have survived over time. For almost ten consecutive years somewhere there in the middle we managed to be separated on both of our birthdays in addition to our anniversary. This year is no different with me being the member strayed off in a foreign location (this year – Tanzania, mid-Atlantic and the Bay of Biscay. Next year will be at least a little bit better since right now we are actually both scheduled to be on the same trip in July (his birthday). Anniversary? Probably not, and I’m not one to make a lot of noise about mine.
I’m hoping we are improved models on what we were then – and a bit more mature. Certainly the hair has changed –
Yes, I do know how to knit socks. And have over the years. In fact, in 2007 there was the 52 pr sock challenge right about the time that most of us moved from the Knitlist to Ravelry. Then it was years before I got around to even thinking of knitting sock.
For a while it was the easy seduction of scarves and shawls which could be knit out of the same yarn with fancy and fun patterns. Things that someone else could see and admire. The sad reality of socks was that I had dozens of wonderful patterns, all of which disappear into the body of my shoe or sandal while the lovely top was covered by my trousers. No one ever saw my socks. I knew they were on my feet. It was my secret. The sad fact too was that the 12-16 hours put into a pair of socks had much more tangible, or at least visible, results.
I drifted back off into spinning, knitting of sweaters and vest. At the point where I moved back to Germany from the UK in Sept 2010 right before I was deploying to Afghanistan I thought again about socks. I even packed a few skeins of yarn to take along should I get the urge for hand knit socks inside my boots. That winter was nasty, boot socks are boring to knit and dirt was a fact of life. I put a halt on knitting in favor of audio and paperback books.
Then I moved on to the next series of life’s adventures – mostly to do with sailing the seven seas – one cruise at a time. In port shops all over the world I discovered the fun of tourist socks. In spite of the fact that most are made in china – one can find totally fun, wild, strange socks very inexpensively. They are reminders of the places I have been. Did I mention that they are cheap? If one gets worn, lost or has a hole I have absolutely no guilt in tossing the pair. Not so with hand knit socks which I tend to coddle like baby kittens.
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