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Halifax and sunshine

September 28th, 2014 No comments

 

Returning to a familiar port is a joy. No hurrying to see everything all at once. No worry that I might possibly miss something whether it be a museum, photo or landmark.

It was that way yesterday in St John. I spent a few minutes knitting at CricketCove after a great hike out to Reversing Falls. My view this time was better than the last both from having all the time I needed and the walkways. I skipped the visitors center in favor of taking the footpath under both traffic and regular bridge.There are two tectonic plates that come together under the railroad bridge. Walking along the path you can touch the obviously different stone of the two plates.

Today we were a bit late docking. For what ever reason, the NCL Dawn just ahead of us had difficulties. Our captain has given us back the 30 minutes at the end of the day.

It is Sunday, the churches are open, the Superstore is open (as is ViaRail where I found a free hotspot) but LK Yarns is not. Wallet and suitcase spared. From here I am going to hit the Map Store and the Museum Store at the Titanic Museum.

It is a god day for walking while avoiding adding to yesterday’s bit of sun. George made it safely home from Hong Kong. I may add to this later. Or not depending on time…..

 

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Byways & Skyways

September 27th, 2014 1 comment

You can tell the weather of certain northern towns by their building construction, at least in the most recent. Take the Twin Cities (Minneapolis, St Paul Minnesota for those not from the Upper Midwest. Back more than 30 years ago, some one with a streak of genius decided that no one really likes walking outside in wind, driving snow and -20* (in this case, it really doesn’t matter *C or *F, just think cold). If something was not done to revitalize downtown areas, all that would be left would be a few hardy businesses and lawyers. Everyone else seeming to have fled to the suburbs in the 1950s and 60s.

How about connecting the buildings above street level? Say about the second or third story so that trucks could still use the streets but the pedestrians would stay warm and dry. And so the Skyways were born. I don’t know for certain that the first major connections originated in Minnesota but the Twin Cities have perhaps one of the most extensive networks. I have seen the same in Calgary, just with a different name. After searching for yarn store in St John the last time I was here, I found a partial system without much signage starting on the second floor of what appeared to be a government building.

The whole process is not without cost, especially to those who have shops at street level. It would seem on the surface that for half a year or more they would be fine with customers walking in front of their doors. Admittedly those fortunate enough to have had space on both second and first floors might be a bit more successful as they would have a presence and be ready to take advantage of the winter season. In fact, I think that humans are creatures of habit. If they take skyways to avoid the cold and snow in the winter, they are likely to take them in spring and fall to avoid wind and rain. That means that they are going to take the skyways, leaving merchants in a quandary. Store fronts are visible to anyone in a car, on bike or on foot. They are not visible to those hurrying above the street. At the same time, all those shops on the second floor are invisible to those above. You have to know that they are there. Same principle as to why mall space on the main floor costs more, second floor costs less and the food court is tucked either one floor down or up on the third floor. Everyone knows it exists. If they are hungry they will find it. Why have it compete with retail space?

Back to my original discussion – there are skyways here. An extensive retail and business structure. St John was also where the brand new gangway was first hooked to the Enchantment of the Seas, Sept 2012. Unfortunately, it didn’t want to unhook, causing chaos on the docks and 2 hour waits to reboard. As I remember the fix involved a cutting torch and a return to a standard gangway rather than the lovely enclosed number through which we disembarked.

Today there were absolutely no issues at all. I walked a portion of the old city and went into Brunswick Square to see if I could find WiFi. Imagine my surprise at the Running Store being open early. The reason? The local Canadian Air Cadets were having a fun run/walk. So how could I resist? I donated my money, walked the 3k with a nice Canadian Army Officer and her husband (the daughter was being spoiled by grandparents for the day) and cheered in all the kids. If I hadn’t been lazy I could have gone back to the ship and changed shoes, but I didn’t.

I have grabbed postcards, a magnet or three and am now about to hike back out to the Reversing Falls Bridge. Then the yarn shop which is open till 1800 but the ship is leaving about 1530 so those are my limits. I remember the fix involved a cutting torch and a return to a standard gangway rather than the lovely enclosed number through which we disembarked. Today there were absolutely no issues at all. I walked a portion of the old city and went into Brunswick Square to see if I could find WiFi. Imagine my surprise at the Running Store being open early. The reason? The local Canadian Air Cadets were having a fun run/walk. So how could I resist? I donated my money, walked the 3k with a nice Canadian Army Officer and her husband (the daughter was being spoiled by grandparents for the day) and cheered in all the kids. If I hadn’t been lazy I could have gone back to the ship and changed shoes, but I didn’t. I have grabbed postcards, a magnet or three and am now about to hike back out to the Reversing Falls Bridge. Then the yarn shop which is open till 1800 but the ship is leaving about 1530 so those are my limits.

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Portland, ME

September 26th, 2014 No comments

The gulls were certainly not quiet about their opinion of my ship’s arrival in Portland this morning. If I had still been asleep their loudly voice complaints regarding intruders who stirred up waters without providing recompense in fish would have woken me. Not creating any feelings of guilt. Gulls like pigeons are simply large flying vermin. But the certainly have, and are, entitled to an opinion or twenty.  I headed out of the ship early and found a coffee shop that had both an excellent mocha and fast wifi until the rest of the horde managed to be dressed, fed and off the ship. At that point connectivity went down to why bother and I decided to head out for the Portland Museum of Art.

My first foray into Google Maps told me that my trip by car was going to be well over a day and involving 3800+ miles. ??? Ok, it really helps to add “Maine” to the search engine. The fact that Google rates Oregon higher than Maine should not have been  a surprise but was more than a bit annoying. Saving my little map on the phone as a photo to save my daily data limit I happily charged off. It looked really easy. Which is why it should come as no surprise to any of us that I managed to find the one perpendicular street to Spring that crossed without any signage. About 30 minutes later and a hike over several hills I finally asked for directions. “Several blocks too far” I was told by a pleasant but taciturn man. He pointed toward uphill and said to work my way back toward the harbor.  I found Center Street and Congress, followed Center to Spring. Spring to High Street which took me back to High Street/Congress Street/Free Street about three blocks from my last sign check.

Museum was on the corner, just where it was the last time I was here. Duh!

Isobel and I managed to find each other, a local used book store and a lovely coffee shop. Ann & Ira bailed us out about an hour and a half later. As it turns out, there is a steamboat on one of the Piers which has been turned into a restaurant. We had a fabulous lunch and hung out talking most of the afternoon.

I am headed back to the ship, everyone else on their way home: could be New Hampshire or Maine. Let me skip the part about almost letting them take off without emptying out the presents in my backpack. Obviously Isobel needs yarn and Ann & Ira need towels!

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Bar Harbor

September 25th, 2014 No comments

there are two ships at anchor today; the RCI Legend of the Seas and NCL Dawn (if I am reading the side of the ship correctly from this distance). Since I haven’t really been able to access the internet for a couple of days I am headed back to the Trailhead Cafe. Just far enough off the main drag that most of the customers are local, that is exactly why I go there. Not anywhere near as much competition for decent but not blazing fast wifi…

The sun is shining and I am looking forward to potentially taking a hike as soon as I hit the post office and finish with these files. With George off in Hong Kong (don’t ask – but I am not there. Serves me right for traveling by sea) for less than a week I have no clue as to when I am going to be able to expand my allowable storage space on the server to start wowing you (ok, sharing with you) photos of some of these exciting and not so exciting locations.

I am holding out for a full day of friends in Portland tomorrow!

(and Bee’s Yarns and Candies was open. Nice, helpful and friendly owner. She has those which are from Maine prominently displayed. I managed the post office and now working on post cards before heading back to the ship….)

 

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The Year Turns

September 24th, 2014 No comments

I could talk about a lot of totally useless thoughts. And some not all that easy on the mind and conscience.

Sailing out of NJ yesterday being delighted if I don’t have to deal with that particular terminal again. After the connivence of European harbors which might not exactly be in the city to whose name they are attached, Cape Liberty was a nasty shock. Not only is it miles from anywhere, but you can’t easily get out. Walkable ? No sidewalks and cab/car drivers competing for the TSTB award. You could get a cab out, but not back.

I am on the starboard side. The Manhattan sky line not visible till quite distant. It has changed once again. Being on the ground is not the same. You don’t see an outline against the sky driving home all the changes of the last 13 years. Perhaps if it wasn’t so close to 11 Sept, perhaps if there had been even a moment of thought or remembrance around me I might not be so sensitive. Or if it was not Rosh Hashanah.

But life is what it is. I can’t claw the world back to what it was. But I can take a deep breath, turn toward what is important and listen to the waves from my balcony.

Shanah Tova

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And off to Canada

September 23rd, 2014 1 comment
ending in Quebec

ending in Quebec

 

In case you had’t gathered – I am still on the Legend happily leaving out of Cape Liberty today for a leisurely journey up the eastern seaboard

 

ITINERARY

DAY DATE PORT ARRIVE   DEPART
Tue Sep 23 Bayonne, NJ 4:30pm
Wed Sep 24 At Sea
Thu Sep 25 Bar Harbor, ME 8:00am 6:00pm
Fri Sep 26 Portland, ME 8:00am 4:30pm
Sat Sep 27 Saint John, NB, Canada 7:30am 4:00pm
Sun Sep 28 Halifax, NS, Canada 9:30am 6:00pm
Mon Sep 29 Sydney, NS, Canada 9:00am 5:00pm
Tue Sep 30 At Sea
Wed Oct 1 Saguenay, QC, Canada 8:00am 5:00pm
Thu Oct 2 Quebec City, QC, Canada 10:00am
Fri Oct 3 Quebec City, QC, Canada Disembark

 

 
And for now, we will just totally and completely ignore the fact that I have an extremely early flight on the 3rd to JFK en route to home.

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Gale Force 10

September 22nd, 2014 No comments
Even with the new stabilizers, one can certainly feel the movement of the ship when the sea conditions get rough. There was thunder and lightening outside my balcony door which started sometime after midnight. Ok – and? Oh, a bit of blowing rain which hit me in the face when I opened the door, or rather attempted to open the door. For the second time this voyage I turned on the TV to get the bridge report. Humm – 9-12 meter waves and a stiff wind blowing across the deck with a weather forecast of predicting more of the same.
It was at this point that I realized the absence of lids for the Go Cups was going to prove a challenge.  Not as much challenge as clearing up the “Art” which now resembled a pack of plying cards scattered across the floor of the Centrum but close. You would think that someone whose job it was to peddle said art would have spared a moment to think.
“High waves and wind. Property I am trying to peddle sitting on easels. Most of the items are framed and fronted with glass. If they all fall over, could it cost me?”
The storm seemed to settle out mid morning with a predicted resurgence late afternoon. Meanwhile I decided that cleaning, organizing and packing everything to change cabins was in order before wandering around to trade off a few emails.
Since it seems like Cape Liberty – aka Bayonne NJ – is out in the middle of nowhere, I am not going to be able to pull my usual turn around day stunt and head off for internet.
Ah, well. Knitting is always a good thing.
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YADS

September 21st, 2014 No comments

Yet another day at sea.

Not a problem for me, but it seems that a few of our fellow passengers are getting twitchy. The German couple from Dusseldorf who sat at the next table last night informed me that they never would have chosen this cruise if they had known there was a chance of missing St John’s. Not that it was St John’s in specific – but that five sea days in a row were too many and six was unacceptable. Other people were extremely upset at the change in the entertainment program because the new act scheduled to board in St John’s obviously didn’t make it out to the ship.

As for the rest of us, most noticeable the Crafters @ Sea – well we just brought our stuff to the Solarium again today and worked on projects. One woman finished her scarf – two balls of sparkle accented yarn in a basket weave stitch. It was her first project; she was more than pleased. Another woman finished her hat – again a first project and I left her on the final bind-off at about noon.

After the confusion at the beginning of the cruise -we finally managed to pull off the cabin crawl this afternoon. Starting with one of the ocean views on Deck 2, we moved up to six for a balcony followed by deck seven where it turned out that inside and balcony cabins were practically across the hall from each other. Finishing the tour (which had 20 people signed up and turned into a gaggle of almost 40) everyone stopped at both my JS and a similar one on port side.

You can just fill in the rest of the day yourself – talking to people, wandering in to the dining room. More knitting. Traveling 3982 nautical miles since Hamburg.

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St John’s – the port that wasn’t

September 20th, 2014 No comments
it was extremely early when I woke to look out the doors at the white caps on the water. Feeling still a bit blurry and noting the rocking of the ship I decided to see what it was like on the balcony.
Cold. It was cold and extremely windy. The cold would not be an issue, but the wind was going to present some challenges if I correctly remembered what someone had described last evening.   St John’s is a really well sheltered harbor. The channel leading into it is called The Narrows. With typical quiet bluntness – it is narrow. As in 90 meters wide. The harbor behind it is deep but clearly affected by tide and wind. They don’t have tug boats since bringing a ship in during a bad storm is unlikely due to the channel and getting out during one is even more remote a possibility.
As I am thinking through all of this (and downloading email, getting dressed and contemplating coffee) it suddenly occurs to me that my thrill of suddenly being in range of shore with the phone might just be overcome by the fact that I could no longer see the shot. The Harbor is on the Canadian Coast and the ship is now headed east. What the ????
By the time we repeated this dance with water and wave it was pretty obvious to all but the least intelligent of passengers that we were not going to be challenging 6+ meter waves, 40 knot windows and a narrow channel that morning.  A ship whose length is longer than the channel is wide would be taking a serious risk in even attempting entry.  The only thing that might have been worse would be to get into the harbor and be stuck for several days. (Not for me, but all but 12 of the ship’s passengers have plans that involve taxis. cars, trains, buses or planes starting on the 23rd. Being somewhere along the Atlantic seaboard would not make them overly thrilled).
So it was only the occasional idiot who was complaining about not being able to get off the ship: demanding that the Captain “do something.” Well he had. Made a decision not to risk life, limb or ship just to enter a port so that a few people could have seven hours on shore. I mean really – we had only had three days at sea. Being on for another three is not all that difficult.
Not for those of us who met up at the morning craft table anyway.  We have yarn!

 

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Art Crawl? Meals?

September 19th, 2014 No comments

or Sea Day 3/3. It all blurs together

The “Meal with an Officer” was held as a luncheon with the nice menu providing a choice between filet, blackened salmon and pasta alfredo. I landed at a table with three very pleasant Danes, two name tag wearing Pinnacles, the Hotel Director and his admin (from Scandinavia). The food was excellent, the conversation was mostly cruising geography.
After lunch I couldn’t find any of the knitters since our normal gather location had vanished under an onslaught of card and Mahjongg players. A peak into the Diamond lounge found one of the group. Fortified by a latte, I finished one hat, started another and couched a new knitter through finishing hers.
We have a lacemaker in the group: Bobbin Lace, tatted lace, knitted lace. The kind who also sews, quilts and can make something lovely out of just about anything. If she wasn’t so nice….  Anyway she walked into the lounge. We had been talking about cruising the handwork that was part of the art display on the ship. After mentioning it several mornings and getting no interest it was going to be just the two of us anyway.
We set off with our cameras. There are a couple of beaded pieces, multiple items of embroidery embellished with gold work, lace and one piece of woven paper. It isn’t a lot, but then this ship doesn’t have “art”  every three feet down every corridor.
Tomorrow we dock in St John’s Newfoundland
Categories: Knitting, Travel Tags:

Sea Days 2/3

September 18th, 2014 No comments
The 18th was almost but not quite a repeat of yesterday. Hanging out with a dozen or so for the morning knitting. The detour in the afternoon was accompanied by a multiple location search as the ship’s group coordinator relocated a Cruise Critic organized necklace group from the Viking Crown Lounge to the Conference Center to Deck 5 Dining Room.  Now consider that there are two groups co-ocupying the space. The group that has been here daily on sea days are playing duplicate bridge. Today they are having a tournament. We are a group of ~ 20 women making jewelry.
Trust me, it is not a good mix. Not that under normal circumstances all us would get along but in this case, Sue can’t teach without talking. We just don’t operate without chatter and having fun. The bridge group is serious and really, really wants silence.
You see the problem? It doesn’t stop me from playing with my crochet hook, wire and beads. If I had bought more than one clasp I could have made more things…..
Categories: Knitting, Travel Tags:

Sea Days 1/3

September 17th, 2014 No comments

 

Rather than give you a long diatribe about three days at sea, the crowded solarium, and the ignorant who can’t read (Hello? The sign says NO SAVING DECK CHAIRS. What makes you think you are exempt? A few minutes I can understand. But getting up, dropping off a towel and not coming back for hours at a time is just plain selfish. Yes, it is warm and sheltered from the wind and I know that your towel is enjoying the break from being squashed. However there just happen to be another 1800 or so individuals on this ship who might like a chance to enjoy the warmth, humidity and the sight of bodies overly stuffed into spandex. Off soap box)

It is not the same as the crafting group. Admittedly one of us is there fairly early to grab a table and chairs. And more tables and more chairs as the group expands. We do give up the area as people leave.

So that takes care of the 17th.

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Sunshine and Early Departure

September 16th, 2014 No comments

The sun certainly came out of hiding this morning. The air crisp and clear. You think that the weather gods know that our ship sails at lunch time? What fun is overcast and rain when you don’t have tourists out to become wet and miserable ?

One of the other knitters and I made the hike to town. Besides the Icelandic hand knitters guild shop which was open we identified three other major locations for yarn (all of whom open at 1100 which means we stared through the window, took pictures and saved our money) and several minor. Seems like all the gift and souvenir stores are now carrying sport weight in about 15 colors just in case someone needs a yarn fix.

Since we had forced our way against the wind on our trip to Reykjavik we had that little bit of extra push to help along those last two kilometers back. And yes there was a city pay shuttle bus but really – better to walk along the harbor for a 9 km round trip to the far end then have to hit the treadmill tonight.

Time to knit?

Most certainly!

Categories: Travel Tags:

Ice, Volcanos, Waterfalls

September 15th, 2014 No comments

It wasn’t something that occurred to be in 2010. And it certainly didn’t until we drove off road today on our adventure. Along the area where there used to be a mountain top which exploded in lava and ash is now partly a plain criss crossed by flooded flat lands and rivers.

More than spew ash in the air to disrupt air traffic, volcanos produce heat. And if yours just happens to push lava up under the largest glacier in Iceland then the resulting large amount of melted ice should not be a surprise. Melted ice = water, right? Not just the planes then but also the local farmers flooded out, roads and bridges affected. Sheep, don’t forget the sheep. Really not sure how well they would swim in the month of April.

So there you have one of the second and third order effects; water run off and flooding. We managed to get 2/3 of the way toward the remaining glacial area before the height of the rivers made it too risky. No bridges here but off road in a 4×4

Instead we visited waterfall after waterfall one of which had a small climb (527 steps according to the sign) to reach the observation platform at the top. There is a really challenging hiking trail that starts there but we had neither the time or the equipment for a 26 km jaunt at this time of year.

Then there was the hiking behind a falls and the hiking up a river bed to the base of another. It was a fabulous day and hopefully I can do pix at some point.

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It’s getting colder

September 14th, 2014 No comments

And the volcanos are holding off; at least so far as to not trash cruise ships ability to dock.

The remainder of yesterday was spent on wandering streets, taking a few pix, and meeting a ram with a really impressive set of double horns.

Oh yes, and finding out that even with a ship in port those 1400 closing hours are firm. The yarn shop at the mall had nice yarn but nothing special. The best one in town was closed. Sirri featured mostly finished products but did have a small room of yarn from local sheep ( but I do suspect it was spun I neither Denmark or Estonia.

So today is mostly show and tell at the crafters table and tomorrow we dock in Iceland.

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Tørshaven

September 13th, 2014 No comments

We weren’t underway even 30 minutes last evening before the fog crept up around us to blanket the sea with in a few hundred meters of the ship. The Shetlands seem to first recede, then vanish into mist. Slightly an eerie feeling with gulls calling but not visible. If I was a Bard, it would be a wonderful start to a tale of magic, struggle and stubbornness. Shetlands are part of Scotland. That sense of independence and stubborn has insured their survival.

Overnight we have traveled in the white with not even the moon visible.

This morning I woke to white out followed by an announcement that the cargo ship had not cleared the pier due to technical difficulties so that we would be tendering. In spite of all of that we were on the pier about 1145 just in time to see the sun finally being disgusted enough with the damp to burn it away

So now I am wandering old sod roofed houses, book stores and seeing want is on the three yarn stores in town. I even found postcards. Last tender is 1730 leaving a reasonable but not huge amount of time in this clean, organized and free bus ride town.

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Lerwick

September 12th, 2014 No comments

You are hearing from me early today both so that you know that I am fine and the fact that reasonable WiFi is always easier to find before most of the passengers get off the ship.  For those of you who have forgotten all the Geography you have learned, the Shetlands are off of the coast of & part of Scotland. So yes, there are quiet but firm opinions here on independence. Most here see themselves as much more politically and financially vulnerable than the main land of Scotland and don’t see anywhere the pride of independence balancing the potential costs.

Lerwick is the largest of the towns here. Hardworking and nothing fancy. Much of the industry is directed toward the sea or maintenance of the buildings that are here. Since many seem to date back a century or two (what was good enough for our great grandparents should be good enough for us and our children….)..
Anyway. I was the only one on the upper deck of my tender as it traveled from ship to shore.
When you build your houses of stone or local brick when the clay of your land is has the color of winter seas your buildings are dark, plain and undistinguished against the bright green of nature. The roofs are dark, the chimneys prominent. This is Scotland. You don’t fix that which is not broken. If it worked for your grandparents then it is probably right for wind, wave and sea and strong enough to survive on this isolated location.
I spent the first couple of hours walking around town before finding a nice coffee shop to have tea with milk and WiFi.  I know where I can find the Museum, the knit shops, the Shetland Islands Spinners Guild and the Puffins. 
 
I am off!
Categories: Knitting, Travel Tags:

Remember

September 11th, 2014 No comments

Where you were, what you were doing that morning of East Coast Time. Coffee perhaps? Or tea at your desk partway through the work day? Were you asleep since in your life and time it was too early to think about being awake much less fire and falling bodies.

The number of lives lost was not actually all that great if you compare it to other disasters both natural and man made. But this particular act of violence has had long term consequences for both the US and the world. Innocence and security at home can’t be reestablished. Iraq, Afghanistan and the aftermath can’t be undone.

These last 13 years have seen changes in attitudes, civil liberties, and justice in the US and none of them for the good.

What is now being lost are the personal stories. The memories of those who who were killed, those who died while doing their jobs in the service of their city, county, country.

Not just today, but for the next few days – think. It has been 13 years. We all have been affected. Not just the US but from almost all countries around the world whose citizens were in the Twin Towers, at the Pentagon, on that final flight going to ground.

Remember, think about your contributions for the last 13 years. And say a prayer or light a candle or meditate on where you are going from here in memory of those individuals, their families, friends and the holes left by their deaths.

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The moose is still here, Kristiansand

September 10th, 2014 2 comments

It was relaxing, just walking around a perfectly normal Norwegian town. Yes, several book stores had a few post cards and the small info point on the pier had magnets, but the tenor of the town is normal commerce.

Since last night I had flippantly texted the kids that this was their “last chance for Norwegian Sweaters” imagine my surprise when the replies I received were to the positive. So here I am
In the non tourist town looking for sweaters. My own fault. Several sweater stores in Oslo but I hadn’t offered so here I am looking for sweaters when it isn’t cold.

Husfliden! Yes they have sweaters. rauma (hand knit ) Dale, Viking. Next challenge was to find the sweaters in approximately the right color and size combination. Meeting up with friends I dragged my heavy bag to the quilt store – no purchases. To the other yarn store – no sweaters and avoided buying anything more.

Detoured back to the ship for lunch before hiking all over the town again. I have been here before and still find the sculptures a bit strange. But what clinched my memories was the stuffed moose on a rolling platform on the pier…,

And George- Happy Anniversary
!

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turn over day in Oslo

September 9th, 2014 No comments

We sail into OsloHarbor to the quiet rumble of the engines and slapping waves. I get to enjoy the sight of the buildings appearing out of the mist and starting to sparkle in the wavering early morning light.

Docking promptly at 0700 I am standing on my balcony with my camera when the rain starts.

 

(please note, this doesn’t slow me down.  I have a rain jacket, an umbrella and a date with free WiFi in the shopping center before most are off the ship.  I just love high speed free…..

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Knitting

September 8th, 2014 No comments

After a week of wandering around on ship without any obligations to anyone I thought to behave myself. After all, I had dinner last night at Chops with Klaus & Ilona who I first met last fall on that little jaunt across the Pacific and around Australia. In the lounge earlier in the evening were a whole table of those with fancy name tags with whom I have met on previous crossings.

So it was that I took myself up to the Solarium before 0900 to stake out an area and have a munch since I was already there. Neither are actually all that much of a hardship. I am an early riser, a couple of lattes were already history. Besides, the kiwi yogurt parfaits are lovely.

Rather than 9-11, this gathering turned into an all day happy chat. Two of those wanting to learn brought yarn, needles and husbands. The other serious crafter in the group brought not only here knitting but also hand piecing, lots of pictures and her husband. The guys were fine even though they denied any interest in participating in our end of the table. I had forgotten to post on the Community Bulletin Board but crafters seem to be able to find each other anyway.

Since I had such a good start to the day, I managed a trip to the gym and a limited supper in the CL. The Aussie with whom I chatted reminds me of my British exercise companion from the Grandeur & Liberty. Nothing like being 87, still reasonably mobile and off for a bit of travel. Then just before heading back to my lovely cabin (balcony, spacious and as far aft as was possible) I turned a short hello to Art & Julie into an hour + conversation. We connected on the Infinity this winter, so they had missed most of my whines concerning George’s house in Berkeley.

Sitting on my balcony watching the moon hanging not quite full in the sky I really appreciate the changes in my life, especially the last year. I love the travel, the time to learn about new subjects, and mostly all the fascinating people. Obviously I don’t miss cranking patients through an exam room, but that wasn’t my role (except sometimes on deployments) for the last two decades in the Army anyway.

Categories: Friends, Travel Tags:

Heading across the Atlantic

September 7th, 2014 No comments

Changing cabins once again, I am headed across the Atlantic by the Northern Route. The stops should be fabulous and hopefully Iceland will not be a blast.

 

Up and across

Up and across

 

ITINERARY

DAY DATE PORT ARRIVE   DEPART
Sun Sep 7 Hamburg, Germany 5:00pm
Mon Sep 8 At Sea
Tue Sep 9 Oslo, Norway 7:00am 5:00pm
Wed Sep 10 Kristiansand, Norway 10:00am 6:00pm
Thu Sep 11 At Sea
Fri Sep 12 Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland 7:00am 4:00pm
Sat Sep 13 Torshavn, Denmark 10:00am 7:00pm
Sun Sep 14 At Sea
Mon Sep 15 Reykjavik, Iceland 9:00am
Tue Sep 16 Reykjavik, Iceland 1:00pm
Wed Sep 17 At Sea
Thu Sep 18 At Sea
Fri Sep 19 At Sea
Sat Sep 20 St. John’s, NL, Canada 7:00am 3:00pm
Sun Sep 21 At Sea
Mon Sep 22 At Sea
Tue Sep 23 Bayonne, NJ 6:00am

None of the stops are new for me except for Lerwick. The Cruise Critic group is not as large as many of my transatlantics which is all to the good. A bit of rest, reading and knitting on sea days would be a novelty for me, right?.

Categories: Travel Tags:

Oh, right

September 6th, 2014 No comments

what one does on the last day of a “cruise” is get organized. Unless of course if you are staying on for the next voyage. If you are staying with the ship you might not have to do anything. Unless, of course you are changing cabins….in which case you have to pack up enough of your stuff so that your poor cabin attendant can relocate you without problems.

If you want to do it yourself, not a problem but then it is a matter of hanging out till those who are in the next cabin on your list have departed the ship. No one likes being invaded and there is this slight issue of not leaving personal belongings open to the perusal of other passengers. What can I say? I am not particularly paranoid but that doesn’t mean that I want to put temptation in the way of someone who is departing the ship.

Not very trusting am I?

Anyway, packing is what one does on the last day of the cruise. Along with eating – always an option. Only ships with major problems leaving them dead in the water have ever been rumored to run short on rood. In the case of the passengers on this particular vessel, a shortage of beer might be seen as more concerning than a lack of food. But since there was no lack of food – those of us staying on the ship were treated to a rather nice luncheon to accompany the info-dump about turnover day in Hamburg. Since there were 14 passengers who boarded in Oslo also staying for the transatlantic, they included them as well.

So that leaves me after lunch with packing, which actually I could do in the morning if I want to be up early. Pilot joins the ship at midnight for the sail up the Elbe. With docking at 0700 that should be plenty of time…..

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Aalesund

September 5th, 2014 No comments

I love this town, sprawled across three islands and crawling up the side of the hills with houses clinging in places that wouldn’t be allowed in California. But then, I don’t think fire is a big issue here. And if rain was going to wash them away, well it would have happened several years ago. That is not to say that the city itself was not destroyed by fire in 1904, but just that today the rain seems to keep all those lovely stone and concrete buildings more than damp.

I’m not hiking up to the top of the mountain today. I have been up there to look down over the city the last three times I have been here. Today instead I am catching up on email and files (something ever so tempting about free high speed wifi in the local shopping center) as well as correspondence.

Of course, since I don’t need anything at all, I won’t be stopping at the new yarn store, the souvenir shops or any of the second hand locations….

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I am not 32 anymore

September 4th, 2014 No comments

Also in port yesterday – HAL Rotterdam. & Phoenix Albatross

Passenger origin: (all numbers rounded)
180 Norwegians
150 Spanish
225 Romanians
170 US
730 Germans

Ok and on to today. But first, the year is 1983 and I am hiking a 200 km self paced volksmarch around the Canton of Thurgau in Switzerland. It is the second day. Yesterday we hiked 70km today is is only 60 but we have done sea level to 1000 meters six times.

After that it has taken a lot of hiking up to intimidate me

Then today I am hiking up to a waterfall. Only 1500 meters up the mountains scrambling around ricks streams and wet grass.

My 24 hours is about to run out so the rest of the story tomorrow.

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Stavanger

September 3rd, 2014 No comments

As it turns out, climbing Pulpit Rock today was out of the question. Yes, it is near Stavanger, but near is relative. Being docked for about seven hours balanced against a 3 hour drive each way without even including the more than 90 minutes to climbed …. Well even a member of the Denial Royalty can honestly believe that particular feasibility.

So instead Joy who I met along with her husband in the Vision TA in fall 2012 picked me up for some more local sightseeing. Since her husband Ron works for NATO here I lucked out with knowing someone familiar with the area.

We went to the Three Swords Monument, the actual battlefield location, and the local TV tower. The last was to get an overview of the area. There were tour buses at the Monument but not at the battlefield or Harald’s Chair since scrambling down embankments, across cow pastures and up the sides of hills is not compatible with most cruise ship passengers on tour.

You remember Harald the Fair/Long Hair? The Norwegian King who united the three kingdoms in Norway around 872? Something about winning the hand of the woman he wanted. Personally having your guy go to war for you is a bit much, but then I am not a Viking Woman of the 9th century. I will leave it to your imagination if she really wanted a united Norway or saw it as a way to avoid Harald/get him killed. After the other two chiefs surrendered to him, folk lore has that he finally got his hair cut. Thus there is the stone chair sitting near the cliff side to this day.

Oh, Gjestal has a factory store about 45 minutes out of town where they sell both sweaters and yarn.

Pictures have been taken. Adding then to posts will be limited till I am home as a warning post has come in from my server. I am close to my paid for limit. I manage all functions relayed to self-hosting off a dedicated netbook at home. Since I am not home and don’t have either account info or passwords, FTP clean out of duplicate files and junk is just going to have to wait.

Just think high hills, rocky fields, water, fjords and lots of pine trees. No. Not Northern Minnesota or the Upper Michigan Peninsula but close.

Gee, Norwegians feeling like home in the new land….

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First Stop – Oslo

September 2nd, 2014 No comments

You know you are in Norway when:

The alphabet sprouts new A and O diatrictical marks

When the cost of a cup of coffee is $7

When NOW means Norwegians on Wheels

When you find yourself watching young troops marching up then lining a parade route as an honor guard while military marching bands blast our ears.

Where most of the names on buildings could just as easily be found in Northfield MN

Where the coffee and ice cream places out number everything else

If you are on my postcard list, not happening here. As much as I might love you – between the card and postage it’s over $4. Even Italy is cheaper than that. Got back to the ship with the same amount as I left with.

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Glass Doors

September 1st, 2014 No comments

It seems to me that large glass doors – oh about the size and shape of the one leading into the fitness center on the Legend – need to have a large sign on them at about face height. Most certainly they should not be so clear and clean that you don’t see that they are there. Is that enough said? My head is hard but my knee has a significant bruise on it.

In any case it put a slightly different end on the day than what I had planned. Not that I didn’t enjoy myself today. I slept, read, talked to a few people and finished the back on my Ypsilon Vest. I made it to the fitness center and pushed my number of steps past 10k for the day according to the FitBit.

I just hadn’t planned on sitting this evening with an ice pack on my knee and whining. So shoot me now!

Cruise -
Have met some interesting people: there is a couple from Canada a few hours from both Calgary and Edmonton who will be on ship until Quebec City. They are lovely, less polite than a few other Canadians and have the distinction of their parents having immigrated from Minnesota ~ 1910 since the US was getting too crowded (especially with their fellow Norwegians) according to family history. A sail away I met a couple of guys who live in Hamburg. One is German, the other came to Germany for a Master’s degree about 15 years ago and is still here.

And yes, there are a significant number of staff who are either still on board from last spring or have been on leave and have now returned for the trip back to the US.

Books -

In other news – I forgot to mention didn’t I that I dropped off 19 kids books at the USO on the way to the states last month. Put 10 on the shelves in Neuegasse last week on Thursday and another 11 on Friday.

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Back on a ship!

August 31st, 2014 No comments

Yes!

 

just a few Norwegian Ports

just a few Norwegian Ports

 

Wouldn’t think that I was excited or anything (grin)

 

ITINERARY

DAY DATE PORT ARRIVE   DEPART
Sun Aug 31 Hamburg, Germany 5:00pm
Mon Sep 1 At Sea
Tue Sep 2 Oslo, Norway 7:00am 4:00pm
Wed Sep 3 Stavanger, Norway 10:30am 6:00pm
Thu Sep 4 Geiranger, Norway 2:00pm 10:00pm
Fri Sep 5 Alesund, Norway 7:00am 5:00pm
Sat Sep 6 At Sea
Sun Sep 7 Hamburg, Germany 7:00am
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Off to Hamburg

August 30th, 2014 No comments

I was actually all packed and ready to go last night at a more than reasonable time. It really wasn’t all that hard: traveling clothes are easy and I had already figured out what I wanted for knitting projects. Then I remembered that this trip was northern across the Atlantic and didn’t need snorkel gear or beach wear. So out came some items and in went the umbrella, rain jacket and a variety of items for layering.

This morning, when the weather looked like rain I traded sandals for hiking shoes which meant I needed socks and perhaps the umbrella? Nah, and closed the suitcase for the third time.

The train trip was enjoyable featuring a change in Mannheim, a reserved seat, a wonderful young (and tall) man who boosted my suitcase up to the rack and only 26 minutes of delay. Hotel is another story. It is clean and basic with flaky internet. Did I mention the fact that there are no lifts? Wasn’t in the info on the booking site. My suitcase is sitting in solitary splendour in their luggage room since I was not about to carry it up two flights, long flights of stairs.

I’m across the street from the main train station and about 2km from the HafenCity port. I walked it today to check out the route noticing that there are escalators at both the U-Bahn station on mine and the ports end. If the weather is good I will walk, if not? Well public transportation is only 20 meters away. One of the Aida ships docked today; sailing out at 1800 with a crowd there to watch. None of the people with whom I spoke knew anyone on the ship. They just thought it was good fun to watch a sail away.

Check in is at 1100 – I asked! So am going to attempt sleep if the drunks in the next room chooses to shut up for a few minutes. I am not interested in thanking the idiot who thought giving the a room with a balavony was a brilliant idea …..

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Keybearer

August 27th, 2014 3 comments

It wasn’t until we were on the S-bahn between Mannheim and Heidelberg that I discovered the real reason my true love waited for me. We had been on different flights from the US; him flying first to SF and then home on Lufthansa, me straight from Denver on a flight that turned out to be significantly late.

“Do you have a house key?” he asks..

“Of course,” I reply, “Don’t you?”

No

Oh.

and with that, everything was clear. He has been this particular route before, stranded without a way to get into the house. The last time wasn’t pretty and involved waiting most of the day for the Eldest who was off in another city. Our friend who has an emergency key was tied up at work. I was not in country which either took me off the blame line or placed me square in the center of the bull’s eye.

This time around there would be a limited ability to be rescued. The Eldest is in California, our friend with the key might/might not be around today. But here I am, returning on the same day ad close to the same time. Rather than ask me for my key (or ask me to bring an extra from home before coming to the states) he chose to say nothing.

Isn’t it so nice to be loved?

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