Archive for May, 2015

End of cruising for now…

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

3453 nautical miles from Harwich to Harwich round trip. St Petersburg was supposed to be the highlight, but I think the experience at Stockholm Sweden with cousins was amazing! And we saw a Palace and the changing of the guard, but on a much more personal level!!!! And missing Skagen was sad as I love the little sea fish villages… I wanted to walk Chuck out to the “edge” and see the North Sea meet the Baltic. Maybe someday one of you or your children can do that and take a photo we can see. My photos from the ship will be very foggy. We will be let off the ship about 8:45am and trundle all the luggage to the rental car place and begin the long trek north. Our friends Liz and Nick weren’t expecting us until Sunday.. Let’s see how flexible we all can be! Not only do I invite myself but I give the wrong date! Ah isn’t it wonderful knowing Susie Peabody! Sun is half shining and it is 50 degrees. Enjoy the beginning of summer! God bless you!

Our bags are packed and… onward into England tomorrow

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Today was busy with packing the 10 suitcases that get luggage tags and set outside the door. We will carry off 4 bags. Hope we give away a lot of presents and we can ditch bags as we go along the way. Friends we meet say a Ford Focus will NEVER do for this road show. I swam in the pool and then we visited the future bookings guy who gets us into so much trouble so we set up some (3) advanced bookings to celebrate Chuck’s big 70th birthday celebration. Join us in 2017? God bless you!

Turning around again…

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

We were out to sea headed away from Denmark into the North Sea when the Captain advised we are turning around for another evacuation. It seems the Danish Coast Guard refused the mission so our boat came into a small port called Hitchalls (someone please look at the west coast of Denmark and find a town with a similar sound… this is the best I could do with the Captain’s announcements). We turned around at 5:15 pm and pulled to a stop near the beach as we could not get into the small port. We launched a life boat with the patient and the doctor and they bounced into the town. Seas are high and the little boat looked like a toy bouncing around. By the way the couple air lifted this morning was “an elderly lady” who had a stroke and her husband who “used canes.” This report was from a fellow traveler. I imagine their baggage will be all packed and delivered to safe keeping in Harwich. Lesson learned? Travel now, and then later, settle in to our home near hospitals. As we waited, we dined on lamb chops and veal osso bucco at Giovannis, one of the Specialty restaurants on board compliments of our travel agent. And we talked about other cruises we have taken and the great Renaissance cruise we took with Dave and Debbie with about a 1 day notice… and how they also traveled with us to England. It’s fun to have compatible traveling partners. Finally we watched the little bucking bronco life boat bounce back and now (8:15 pm) we are underway again. A rainbow shone over the small town as if to say, “job well done and goodnight!” Tomorrow will be a day of weeping and gnashing of teeth as we try to pack all our stuff and we put the bags outside the door in the hallway before midnight. God bless you.

Eye witness report from Skagen Denmark (at sea)

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Skagen was declared a no-go at 10:15 am when pilot and Captain agreed that with winds of 45 knots directly out of the south and currents and high seas also too dangerous to land. At the same time a passenger was taken ill and required immediate treatment. The Danish Coast guard was called and arrived within 10 minutes. Meanwhile we watched on our room TV the crew trying to lower the 2 “masts” out on the bow. Radar and deck railing went down easily, but 2nd mast with flag blowing straight out would not lower. The helicopter hovered in high winds as the ship turned a full 360 degrees to try to come around with winds directly against the starboard. Meanwhile I tried to take photos outside, but it is grey and the land looks like a grey blob if we can see it at all. We watched the precarious maneuvering of the helicopter and ship as they tried to hover together in the wind and seas and hold still long enough to land 2 red uniformed rescue team and a stretcher on to the bow. With that mast up, it probably was very dangerous as a line might blow and snag. Even if the helicopter wanted to land, he couldn’t. The flag on the mast whipped straight out at 30 mph from starboard to port. The pilot boat hovered off the bow waiting for her pilot who stayed on board as we came close to the spit of land in Skagen that marks the joining of the North Sea to the Baltic. I had hoped to walk out and stand on that point of land, but will have to depend on a very grey photo for the experience. While we waited and the helicopter hovered, I thought back to two other rescues during this trip: In Norfolk, an ambulance picked up a stretcher and a person carrying two back packs (perhaps a father and son team going on an adventure), and in the Baltic we had another helicopter rescue by the Swedish Coast Guard, but not in such grave conditions. In 26 days at sea we have witnessed 3 rescues. I wonder what the statistics are. Our Big Pine Key renter works at the Lower Keys Medical Center, and she says they get ship mates for surgery sometime so I guess this is like a traveling small town with 3360 souls in total and 3 in a month need surgery. The rescue completed, the stretcher and a civilian hoisted up on to the helicopter, the Captain thanked the Danish Coast Guard for a professional job well done. It was a treacherous rescue, but all went well. God bless this crew, passengers, and God bless you! Onward to Harwich we go with a sea day tomorrow. Sipping a glass of wine, I salute you!

Skagen, Denmark a new port

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Good morning! We’re inside the ship, looking out the windows, watching the Baltic sea go by as we don’t dock for another 2 hours. There is a lot of freighter traffic in the Baltic and it seems that the ships pass very near to each other! I guess they are used to this. Today might be a bust as the forecast is 100% precipitation (we can see this from our windows) and barely 53 degrees with a low of 45 degrees. Chuck and I might take this as a rain day and read our books. Newcastle (our first English stop), doesn’t look much better with a forecast of 56 degrees and rain for Sunday. We will be able to visit with old friends so hopefully we’ll sit and sip and not get too wet! I hoped we could go out to the market in Hexham, but … we’re not hardy Englishmen so we’ll see how the day shakes out. Nottingham (our second English stop to visit Emily and Stephen and 2 babies) looks better at about 69 to 71 degrees and partly sunny! Yea! come on summer. We knew this early season visit might be wet and cold, but we always hope for sunshine! So my dears. If anything happens, I’ll let you know! Happy spring and early summer. God bless you!

An “at sea” day

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

An “at sea” day means a sleep in day! At sea there is nothing to do… so what’s the first thing we do? wake up at 7am! So… we look at each other, “Oh well” and we roll out of the sweet covers, and we have a very important decision to make right off: Eat in the dining room or the Windjammer? We chose the dining room (very posh, table cloths and all that), get a daily soduku and trivia paper, but the dining room is not open! So. Windjammer it is! NEXT. Do laundry. Pack a small bag with all the underwear and sox and one tee shirt. Then I washed some of Chuck’s tee shirts (these are the long sleeved “warm” tee shirts we will need for the next few days and in England), and finally my little undies. Hang everything out on the balcony! Even the leopard undies… After all, those container ship crews need some excitement as they pass us by! Those of you who have passed through my yard have seen the laundry I hang out. Moving on… Very busy day. I went to passenger services to check on some credits we got, but that haven’t shown up yet on the bill. And finally, The Captain’s Corner. Here is where the Captain reveals all like the building of the ship (took 4 years and $500 million), Did you know they no longer “launch a ship? They fill the building with water and float her out. She has Azipod “screws” that turn 360 degrees and I have been up top when he has turned on a dime in ports. A 5 ton helicopter can land on her pad although we had a sea rescue and the Swedish coast guard did not land, rather dropped in a doctor and then attached a line to a stretcher and lifted off a staff member. In the food department we use 18,400 eggs and 3500 gallons of milk per week (we are a hungry bunch). When she is full the ship carries 3000 tons of fuel. Pretty amazing. In 2016 RCCL will not be using Harwich which was very convenient for us. Finally the ship’s front end is shaped like the submarine… the bulbous bow is a rounded bow that allows for increased speed at lower fuel consumption. I talked Chuck into going to the pool which was warm like a bathtub… OK he did it, but was like a cat in the water…. not moving too much and watching all the exits. I let him go after about 20 minutes. Nap, and now it is formal night… busy busy. We have dinner at 6 and a party at 7:45. Hope all are well. Tomorrow is our last port: Skagen, Denmark. God bless you!!!

a single guitar

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Good evening friends and family. A single guitar plays in the Centrum (which I have on occasion called the atrium.) The ship is sailing away from Stockholm and I took about a million pictures starting at about 8am. The day progressed from foggy, rainy, sunny, SUNNY! so some pictures will come out. We met Chuck’s cousins Ingela and Hakan (Ingela and Chuck are related by having the same great grandmother Anna from Sweden!) They were waiting for us at 8:50 am and we began our adventure. We toured and finally parked at a marine museum and I took us off the beaten path to the entrance because I thought I saw a memorial. Indeed it was a memorial cemetery to seamen (a lot of commanders, admirals etc) How beautiful. When we finally got to the museum there were about a million people waiting in line. Ah…. not this time we said… So we took off for more garden walking. We decided to take a boat tour and so climbed aboard a boat to tour the many bridges over the waters of Stockholm. How beautiful Stockholm is with lots of gardens and green spaces for walking and running. Then we saw horses at the Palace and hurried up to see the changing of the guard. The guard are so young!!! I took many photos. Then Ingela and I lost Chuck and Hakan but never fear… They were talking to horse policemen. I forwarded the photo via email; if I forgot you, please let me know and I’ll send to you! Ingela and I went into the Cathedral which was built I think in the 1600s. We read tomb stones and I think this was about the earliest date on the tombs… It was really beautiful and bright. Then we went out to find the boys… and wait!!! where do you think they were? A pub about 20 paces from the church door sipping beer! We ate lunch of herring, salmon, and Ingela had reindeer (is that legal? It tasted good, but what would Santa say?) Then Ingela had to go to a business meeting in Italy (you know these Europeans… off to Italy.) We walked in the old town and then met up with the boys (Oliver and Felix - beautiful nearly 14 year old twins all ready for summer vacation). By now it was warm enough to strip down to long sleeved tee shirt and by now (7pm) the sun is shining brightly! We came back to the ship and I put on bathing suit to swim for 1/2 hour then go drink wine with Chuck and the crowd we have met at Vintages. It’s almost bedtime and the sun won’t go down for another three hours! Tomorrow is a free day and I intend to do nothing! Be happy and look up! God bless you.

Stockholm islands

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

I heard the fog horn, mournful, yet threatening, in the night. Long and low, from the throat, growling, “I’m here; I’m big! Move out of my way!” I woke again to watch the archipelago that makes up the opening to the port of Stockholm float by, well I guess we were floating by; it is granite. Sweden has thousands of granite islands. As we neared harbor, a big cruise boat passed. She is called Viking Grace, with Grace written on her side three times. She made me think of Mom who loved adventure. “Mom would love this!” I whispered to a few sea gulls sitting expectantly next to me. “Mom would be up for this!” “Perhaps she is,” they cooed back. And so our Stockholm adventure begins. 8am and tying up to the pier which faces a big granite hill, I wave to a couple walking a big black dog, “Good morning!” but they don’t see me. I’m just another bit of white in my RCCL bathrobe with white coffee cup, leaning against one of hundreds of balconies. They don’t wave back, but I wave! “Good morning Stockholm! I bring Peace!” God bless you!

Celebrating Spring in Helsinki

Monday, May 25th, 2015

I think I was a little “down” from Russia. There was so much overpowering Palaces, Domed churches, gold, glorified empresses… Today was different. Our guide’s name was Maria. She almost sang about spring and flowers … We took a boat trip and the boat captain pointed out mating birds and talked about Spring! “Every year is a new spring! Summer will begin ’soon’ and last ‘a while’…. and the birds return every year to mate!” I took photos of geese and ducks and tulips and daffodils. After a tour of Helsinki (very clean and artsy) we traveled to Porvoo (a small old fishing village), took a boat ride to a manor house turned spa and conference center, ate a lovely lunch and then toured back to Helsinki for a visit to 2 churches, including the rock church literally carved out of a giant rock, and an outdoor market. Did I mention I sampled home made Finnish chocolates, licorice and a beer? Yawn. I’m ready for bed. Tomorrow we are meeting cousins in Stockholm, Sweden. God bless you.

Decoration Day and Memorial Day

Monday, May 25th, 2015

Good morning dear friends. My second father, Jack Harlan always called this American day of memory Decoration Day for it was the day when women decorated the graves of fallen warriors … In the South the women decorated the graves of all soldiers. They showed compassion and love for mankind… not political fervor. So let us remember today and drop the swords and stop rattling the sabers. Our guide who was a patriotic Russian told us a new Convention Center wasn’t being used this year due to the “Crisis in Ukraine” and I nearly blurted out something about “you started it and it isn’t just a crisis!!!!” … but I was in Russia where saber rattling has always been a way of communicating and I’m just a guest with my American ways… I heard a lot of stories of who took what in war.. and the celebration of those victories and the glorification of the leaders. Let us put the swords down and go find a warrior and thank him and then go decorate a grave today. I remember Omaha Beach and I thank God we are free. May God surround soldiers with light and love. God bless America.

Today we are in Helsinki and I haven’t written about our last day in St Petersburg. Amazing museums and churches, but you know what? No really new stuff. They need to change their story and come away from the past and let us pray for that. Live, grow and develop a healthy future. Be safe and look up! God bless you!

Pentecost Sunday in Russia

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

Good Sunday morning dear friends. As we drove around yesterday our guide pointed out great onion domed churches and said, “During the Soviet times, the domes were destroyed and … that church was a roller skating rink, that church was used to care for old people, that church was used for….” Churches are being restored and indeed today we will visit a grand church, St Issac… but I think I will miss Mass as we are on tour from 7am until probably like yesterday…. 6pm. So my dears, please offer a little prayer for Susie and Chuck as we pray today in thanksgiving to the Lord God for sending the Advocate as he promised! The coming of the Holy Spirit is celebrated today as we end the Easter Season: ” The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit of God dwelling within us… Alleluia” (Romans 5:5)

I was in this same place at this time yesterday, got Chuck a cup of coffee, told him, “hit the decks!” and then got hot chocolate for myself and headed off for blogging. Sun is shining but it reads 46 degrees on the TV. bbbbrrrrr. We got off the ship and queued up for Russian Immigration… Present passport and tour ticket and get a stamp for the day. … About 1 1/2 hours after meeting time in the Pacifica lounge we were on our tour bus, 30 bright eyed travelers with Galina, our excellent, perky, full of energy host and guide. She kept counting us because I’ll bet if she loses one of us… she will be roller skating in one of those closed churches (no! She says the Soviet regime is over and all the churches are back in service….) St Petersburg is celebrating what they call Victory over the Nazis (our VE day is their liberation from Nazi Germany) and they are celebrating the birthday of St Petersburg 350 years ago (?) when Peter the great decided he needed a warm water port and he built the port at St Petersburg. The city is clean and with lots of buildings, and with the occasional Palace and onion domed church. We went first to Peterhof, the summer Palace of Peter the Great. Cream color and gold and white. What a maintenance nightmare and very clean and well kept. We had to put on little booties to protect the amazing parquet floors. Every window is curtained with gold and white. Many rooms are covered with silk wall paper and the gold!!!!! One whole gold room, Chinese “lobbies” rooms that are for walking through only! Dancing rooms, and finally “The Throne Room”. What great egos these Czars and Czarinas had! Apparently the Nazis did a lot of damage. The Nazis invaded through Poland and tried to get to Moscow but never made it. When they invaded the Palaces (and later the same with the Hermatage) they burned many of the panels and paintings for fuel. Even with that loss and damage, the palaces and art museums have been restored to great wonder. Miles and miles of gardens with fountains. Now our guide told us, the fountains at Peterhof are filled by underground springs that Peter found and he developed a system of locks to get the water “up” to the top garden with no pumping stations, all natural. The water then flows into the Gulf of Finland (and then the fertilizer polutes that gulf…) Oh well remember the grand egos. Let me tell you… It is Grand Gardens and it is called the Grand Cascade. We left Peterhof after looking at the great beautiful gardens and church there and headed for lunch in an “Americanized” restaurant (my evaluation. I wanted sausages and Russian black bread and we got soup, salad, and chicken). Oh well. Went to the Neva River and the Hermatage which is really 4 Palaces spliced together to form an amazing museum. I stood spell bound before Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son, and Leonardo, and many many Madonnas. I’m blank here on the artist who painted Christ being taken down from the Cross and while the background is almost black, the light in the painting comes from the body of Christ… Beautiful! Czars collected great works from France and Italy and then the works were stolen by the Nazis but recovered after liberation. The museums were full of people so at least the art is being seen. We finally left and walked along the Neva towards our tour bus. I think we were sleeping by 8:30 pm and here I am… I have to go get some more coffee and make sure Chuck did not crawl back into bed! Happy Happy Sunday dear friends. God bless you!

Saturday in Russia

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

My dears! The sun “set” at 9:30 pm and was back up at 3:30am this morning! It was bright daylight at 5am so I poked my head out…… brrrrrr at 50 degrees but clear skies and sunny. We should be OK for touring today. We have Shore Excursions for 2 days. Cannot get off the boat without tour ticket and passport. Will go through passport control leaving and entering the ship every day. Will stick very close to tour guide. When I went for coffee two ladies were talking: “My mother said don’t go there … Stalin is horrible.” The speaker said she grew up during the Cold War, but her mother vividly remembers Stalin and WWII… It is eerie entering the home of those who don’t like us. I can feel Debbie shaking her head… nope Debbie wouldn’t go here. We will stick very close to tour guide. I’m still remembering yesterday and as friend Andy said: “WOW we got it all back.” Who ever thought we would be picked so easily? It was right out of Oliver Twist! Chuck’s wallet with driver’s license and credit cards is in the safe with my wallet, and Chuck is wearing his credit card on a bag around his neck today… It’s hard for him to give up that big back pocket bulge! OK that’s it for now. I delivered a book back to the library and I’m headed upstairs for more coffee. We are entering the port at St Petersburg now. God bless you.

Thank you St. Catherine

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Today we woke up to a sunny day. The window was warm when I leaned against it, but it’s still “jacket weather”. Finally made it off the ship by 10:30! and caught a shuttle bus into the heart of Tallinn, Estonia. I intended to go directly to the Monastery of St Catherine, but our maps are in Estonia language which is a mix of Germanic, Dutch, etc. hard to compare to street signs so we missed Katerina Kaik and headed into town a block or so south… Saw a wonderful little cafe with lovely young people authentic Hansa clothed people inviting tourists to eat, so, determined to return we headed “up” the hill towards the St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. We climbed up a windy cobblestone narrow road past artists displaying their paintings on the town walls and emerged at Cathedral square. I visited the magnificent Orthodox Cathedral. Walked around a bit and then decided to go down and find our little cafe. That’s not as easy as it sounds…. We’re up on the top of a walled hill and keep coming out at overlooks of different sides of the city! We finally found our way down and to the little cafe and had wonderful salads with herring and smoked salmon… yum. And snaps and beer. burp. After a while, with the sun still shining, it was time to go so I led us to Katerina Kaik which is on Vene 12. Found it! We entered St Catherine’s passage hoping to find the Monastery and the “Energy pillar” thought to be a source of physical and spiritual healing. I walked on Chuck’s left (his wallet side) and he was carrying a small bag with his jacket and some other small stuff like sunglasses on his right. I got joggled and a skinny tall guy was trying to give me some papers. Suddenly Chuck yelled “Sue” and I turned to see him with hand on his pocket, “They got my wallet!” I ran and took the bag from him and he ran back out the way we came in… It was absolutely calm on that street. No one around. It’s like we got hit by maybe three guys who made a distraction by bumping me away from him, picked the wallet pocket, and flew away. “They’re gone.” Chuck said a guy grabbed his pants leg and another must have picked his pocket… “They got my badge and patrol ID, he said.” I said, “They got the credit cards.” We hesitated a few minutes scanning the street and then headed back into the alley… All I could think of is how sorry I was that this happened. What a violation of our privacy and rights. and how I would handle cancelling the cards. We gave up the search and headed back down Katerina to the ship but in front of us came running 2 boys with Chuck’s wallet! We were stunned. The boy with the wallet tried to talk to us. I thought he sounded like a deaf person speaking and Chuck said he just doesn’t speak English… Chuck gave him what looked like a few $20s maybe Euro bills, I’m not sure. I was near tears, when I said, “Look where we are! At the Monastery!” I took a photo, but we headed back to the ship without going in. I think this just took the stuffing out of us. And so I offer thanks to St. Catherine. She knew my intentions. What can I say. This was a surreal event! Try to explain getting the wallet back with everything in it? Were the robbers stopped when they saw the badge and there was no money, and two boys saw it all and brought the wallet back? … we will never know. Can you imagine losing Chuck’s driver’s license and we have rental cars booked for 30 days? YIKES. Bad things happen; good things restored us. Thank God.

Yesterday was Copenhagen

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

It’s after dinner already and I haven’t written about Copenhagen which is about to be supplanted by Tallinn… How fast this goes. Like a herd of turtles, Chuck and I were off YESTERDAY at 8:27 am. Onto the bus that waited at the foot of the pier to whisk us off into downtown Copenhagen of which there is no “old city.” Within 10 minutes within a concert of Danish, French, English, Spanish among other languages 2 young men collected money and tickets (Euro, pounds, dollars) with elan and laughter. The top came off the bus and we were off! Copenhagen is a clean, modern city with palaces, gardens, and tall modern buildings and squares. There is a living queen who has her own palace and her own little building that she waits in while her boat comes to take her to the Royal Yacht. … We jumped on a boat to tour the canals and our guide was (ladies … this is right out of Under the Tuscan Sun) the tall, thin, blond son of Danish gods… standing tall with his blond hair in a pony tail and speaking English and Danish … His name was Viktor (of course) and he advised us to “mind our heads” as we went under low bridges… The boat tour (I bought it with the hop on hop off ticket) took an hour and it was amazing. Like Venice … We got off and chose to spend some time in Tivoli Gardens. (You can’t do everything and rather than a church or museum I chose a place Chuck thought he remembered from 1967) … We went in and asked the young lady (could be our granddaughter) if the garden of life was still there… she said, “a long time ago there was a garden with statues…” and I knew we were lost. Not there anymore. So I asked where we could get good Danish beer and open faced sandwiches, “Ah! now that she can help us with!” So we enjoyed real Danish food and beer at Grafton … which has big heaters and blankets (we saw them everywhere) “in case the sun goes behind a cloud…” After an excellent snack of open faced herring sandwich, beet root and beer we went back to the bus and to the ship. You know with all this amazing splendor, my heart is full of home. My friends and family with whom I correspond daily about illness and needs, pray with and dream with, are so far away… I’d like the freedom of my own kitchen and bedroom… OK! I’m the one who plans all these trips, but then I get here and keep looking homeward. Today was a day at sea with some excitement in the middle…. On the Norfolk day 2 people were taken off for medical emergency and today the Swedish Coast Guard visited the ship and helicopter air lifted off a crew member to the hospital. The Captain told us he is Ok. But thanks to modern technology and communications. We went to shore talks and listened to a lecture about Russia… Then the Captain talked to us. Here’s some facts: We traveled 5200 nautical miles on the Atlantic crossing and will travel 3400 nautical miles on this Baltic crossing. Other facts included why waves are so much more powerful in the Atlantic (ask Chuck) and the fact that the propellers on this ship turn 360 degrees. There are 2166 guests on this Baltic trip. OK! Tomorrow is Tallinn named after a Norse goddess Linda! Poor Tallinn was taken over by the Swedish and the Russians so … who knows what we will see? Currency is the Euro. I’ll write more tomorrow as Chuck and I are doing an independent tour (self guided). God bless you!

Copenhagen! Sunny day!

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

My dears! I hope your sunny day is as brilliant as this one. It’s warm too. Leaving England, we wondered if it would be misty and chilly all the way, but the warmth on our balcony suggests no need for jackets and scarves, although it could change and might be breezy, so bringing them. Heard while walking, 2 ladies walking too…. “I had a bit of bread with butter and a bit of cheese.” I laughed and just kept walking… Our friend Sally says “bits of things” and I have to pause and wonder…. I guess we Yanks say “bits and pieces” and Jesus did say he did not leave out a “jot or tittle” of the Old Law. Aren’t we all different and funny! When I hear for example “A bit of cheese”… I think guiltily of the “hunks” of cheese I’m eating… “Real cheese” not the weak American stuff. Enough musing. I painted yesterday with a lady named Lisa I’ve seen drawing with colored pencils we sat together in the Solarium after my walk and swim with our water colors and painted … It was fun and even though mine look like 6 year old stuff, I’m capturing the joy of color that, for example, we see on Brugges, Belgium post cards. yes they really do paint their buildings those bright colors! OK! Off into Copenhagen and The Little Mermaid. I bought a Hop on Hop Off bus and canal boat tour like we have in Key West, Boston etc. Got room service and am full of hair curling coffee. Probably won’t sleep for a week. God bless you! Susie checking out at 7:20am.

1:30pm already?????

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

At sea days can be awash with laziness or one could select activities. Unfortunately the activities I selected were before our wake up time of 1045am! well. so much for planning. I walked outside and discovered it is very brisk and windy, but the Captain advises it is calm and tomorrow in Copenhagen it will be warm and sunny! Yes! I drank coffee and a whiled away time with bit of standing at the balcony to watch the Explorer of the Seas pass by to port and then to the computer to write that we are doing… nothing. Actually yesterday the view of Harwich as we pulled away and all the wind farms in the water was interesting so I took a few pictures. Went to bed early and slept! I was having a hard time sleeping with all the energy on board the ship and Chuck just goes to sleep immediately. So… Hopefully I’ll be able to walk upstairs and then jump into the Solarium pool. The water in the Solarium pool was cold two days ago but I stayed in for 45 minutes. We both have books to read and I want to go over our maps of Wales as we met a lovely couple from Wales who recommended several places to “must see.” If I see them again, I want to be able to pin point what they recommend. The upper coast of Wales including Conwy is recommended. I also met three ladies with a picture of a 4th who had to cancel… her husband had emergency surgery (so she stayed by his side). Chuck said he thought I would go on the cruise he would be OK - he would just call Dave. I thought I would miss him terribly. Jury is out on that one. Anyhow I took the ladies picture at the rail with Harwich behind and … wished them well. Off to do walking and pool bouncing. Love and God bless you!

giving in to naughtiness….

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Travel agent just sent an additional $75 credit. That’s more than 2 bottles of wine. I think I’m just going to give up on saving my brain. Love and God bless you! Time for life boat drill and… the sun is shining!

Arrived: Harwich port

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Good day dear friends and family. Here’s an update: We are very happy with the cruise so far. Chuck got over-tired with staying up every night to after midnight in the King and Country Pub… and I am normal trying to run up and down the stairs but not getting any better with the exercise. So I just hump and huff along out of wind! I will be blogging all along but let me give you a snap shot of today. Cold and rainy… I got off the ship with my new sail and sign card and I checked out the terminal here at Harwich and found the rental car place which tells me I will be able to get a porter to carry our (many) bags of luggage to the car rental site…. Should be no problem (as the Italians say… “Normale”) Back on the ship without troubles and at noon we get a fancy lunch in the Chops Grille. For now, it’s sit and read while we wait for the thundering hoardes to get on. So far Brilliance staff has been wonderful and food great. Love to you and God bless you.

in this place where so many people have given their lives…

Monday, May 18th, 2015

A prayer in the church at Saint Mere Eglise begins … “Our Lady of Peace, in this place where so many people have given their lives for freedom and human dignity…” In the church where American soldiers died and one hung from the bell tower while his soldier companions were slaughtered below him… in this place of fighting and death, the French people have placed a mile marker. Zero. From this place… peace begins. Each mile from there is marked as this is the first place the Allies liberated. As we drove around Normandy the announcer kept referring to Saving Private Ryan and The Longest Day. So those two movies really paid homage truly to D Day and the events that ended the war in Europe. While we fight with politics and greed we must remember that these men fought for freedom and peace. I was very affected by seeing and walking on Omaha Beach and the American Cemetary and I hope all of us will go to visit our soldiers. I read some markers and found Walter Baker and other names that are so close to family that I felt the brotherhood… So many men from a generation and then we went and did it again in Viet Nam and now the middle east (Afganistan). Thank God I got to make this trip. I would definitely return. In Brugges, Belgium the weather was grand. The town is lovely and peaceful. Someone said, since weather has been recorded; this is the nicest day of weather recorded! Still need light scarf and jacket as I am a Miami flower… We headed out and towards Harwich, England at 9:30pm and woke up to a somewhat cloudy day… with a little headache. Perhaps 2 Belgium beers, chocolate and several glasses of wine at Vintages made that headache!!!! Saving Private Ryan might become Saving Susie’s brain if this Vintages thing continues…. My dears, as of last night we had covered 5132 nautical miles. This ship is now empty except for about 250 who are “continuing” on the Baltic cruise. I need to go get my sail and sign card updated. Paid the last bill and will start a new bill. need coffee and will take a little walk outside to see if the rental car is near by where the ship will dock again in twelve days. Eventually (in twelve days) we will have to pack up and get off for good… but for now we are looking forward to swimming every day, walking on the upper deck, visiting Baltic countries, and doing new things… We have been invited to lunch at the Chops Grille at noon so … moving on I salute you my friends and family and wish you blessings and beauty. God bless you.

49 48 47 N headed for Normandy (Omaha Beach)

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

This is our Latitude/Longitude this Saturday morning… interesting, and we are headed for 0 degrees W. I remember studying latitude and longitude in school… So every day we look at the map and see our numbers and where we are. We will “land” at Cherbourg, France at 2pm and begin our tour to the beaches at Normandy at 2:15. We will travel through the first town that the allies liberated (we needed to take the road to keep the Germans from getting to the beaches when they found out they were being invaded). We have received our passports and passed through English immigration already and we still have France and Belgium on this leg of the tour. At 8:30 am there was little wind (8 mph), 55 degrees air temp. and 4796 nautical miles traveled so far. Blue sky! I’m off to the pool for bouncing exercise! Happy Saturday and God bless you and God bless our American soldiers.

Cork, Ireland

Friday, May 15th, 2015

We waited so long for land to come.. and yesterday was another day of high seas and waves. Gray and dismal. At 4:23am I woke up dreaming about finding the McCarthys of my family in Cork. It was dark, but still. No knocking and rolling. Thinking about the lovely Partick McCarthy with the blue-teal eyes whom I met this trip who told me McCarthys came from Cork, I thought… we are arrived in my family home! I peeked out the curtain and stepped outside! It was not windy, a little rainy, and in the dark I could see lights like shore lights. Chuck came out to make sure I hadn’t fallen in, and then we slept until 8am. We went outside again to an iffy sky. cloudy, air temp 57 degrees. The TV from the bridge announced we have traveled 4532 nautical miles. After breakfast we stepped outside and found it a little breezy. caught the train to Cork at 10:30 and walked up to the English Market and found The Mutton Inn and the mural I’ve been waiting to see on Prince Street. An Irish gentleman invited us into the pub and proceeded to buy us Guinness and bitter shandies…. at 2:30 I advised we have to go. I went into the English market and bought a foot long sausage in a bun for Chuck and two short bread sweetie wonders for me using my store of Euros. I wrote the young man’s name and email and will send him a photo and of course invited him to Miami. Full of sausage, sweet tarts, guinness, and bitter shandies… we came back to the ship and watched Irish dancers in the theater. It’s time to leave port… Tonight at 6pm we will do “face to face” with immigration authorities and get our passports back. Off to clean up and get ready for more fun and games (wine and dinner). From Cork with Love… God bless you!

wearing green!

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

A young lady at our table wanted green to wear to the piano bar because tomorrow is Ireland so I lent her my favorite green jacket! Sarah it’s the one you found for me and I wear every day! Hope I get it back!!! Green tonight while we hope hope it will clear up for Cork, Ireland. It is currently 52 degrees and windy rough and foggy at sea. Giant waves have broken windows and actually done some damage to stacks of liquor, perfumes, and dishes… The pools are emptied and the decks are closed off for walking. The ship is creaking and making noises. A bit of claustrophobia abounds and the Thriller dance lessons are in the Centrum where angels used to sing… I’ll write how we did as we are planning to take a train into Cork from the port of Cobh where the Brilliance docks… Wish us luck using our Euros to buy train tickets and beer! Headed for the piano bar with Chuck where a red headed Irish lady will sing… God bless you.

A little bit of sunshine!

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Good morning! A puzzle has been under construction for 3 days in the Scooner walkway. No single person worked on it, rather various people at various times. At first it was a lot of colorful pieces all spread out and gradually it took form and I’m sure there were some changes as “I don’t think that piece fits there, but it goes over here…” Jesus said to his disciples, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” (John 16:12) So we piece together the pieces begging for wisdom! Yesterday in Bible study, a lady started a debate over the humanity of Jesus when we read in Philippians that Jesus took on the form of man (2: 1-11), and I thought of the early church fathers discussions of “what are we to make of the pieces we have? what are we to believe?” and today we ask, “what is my faith?” Of course church councils decreed that Jesus is true (wholly) God and true (wholly) man. Not easily understood by us is it? Not an easy concept for me - human, grumpy, mean at times to realize God is in my heart! My heart is God’s heart! He really gets down and dirty with us!

So… After Mass this morning, while waiting for Chuck to wake up, I was out on the balcony writing this in my bathrobe and freezing! Looking out and trying to figure what direction I was looking trying to see if east is brighter… If we are driving Northeast, the sun would be “up front” (very nautical terminology) I think I’m slightly aft and looking north and celebrating “It’s not raining!” I think I can bundle enough to get in a 2 mile walk before the 1pm pool bouncing with the ladies in the Solarium. But first wake up Chuck for breakfast of eggs benedict and smoked salmon (burp). Captain is on and making a summary… 52 degrees…. 712 miles to Cork! in 2500 meters water depth… Tomorrow is the last sea day before we pull into Cork, Ireland, Cherbourg, France (Normandy invasion beaches), Bruges, Belgium and then…. on Monday, Harwich England where we will stay on board and go on to the Scandinavian countries. Chuck said we don’t need a balcony this trip as it is chilly and windy, but I think we need to hang out and watch docking in our pajamas!!! God bless you and keep you nice and warm.

Zoomba and cousins

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Well normally I sing of angels in the Centrum, but today I’m a little early at the pc and there is a Zoomba class downstairs in the Centrum. WOW! A very muscelled cute guy is leading the group and it makes me want to do Zoomba, but I’m all dressed for dinner and going to spend an hour in the wine bar in the company of Patrick and Leona McCarthy “cousins from Cork.” Well maybe cousins. Patrick says all McCarthys come from the Cork area and not from Dublin where my father said our Grand Daddy Michael came from… I guess my story of “an Irishman on the run” doesn’t hold water any more. Today I did almost everything on the schedule I had circled. Mass, Bible study, and a talk on stress and how to avoid the killing nature of stress. (Stress pours adrenaline and cortisol into the blood which eventually kills us if we don’t run or fight which used to serve cave men but today only kills our heart and blood vessels..) and yes I know that, and I’ve been told not to worry so much and not to have so much angst. So we are supposed to do Yoga breathing and think… take the power away from our fear and out of our reaction to “attack”… rather than stress out, respond with reason: Say things like “I’m stressed: breathe; go walk; move the big muscles, drink water (to wash out the adrenaline and cortisol).” Tend to whoever is in trouble (that is what women do) and deal with life when it’s hard without killing ourselves. Try to write a list of the 5 most important things I want in life that I can use to evaluate my life at the moment of death… One lady said I will ask if I was a good person… I think I will ask Did I love you enough Mary and Jesus? My mother firmly believed Mary would meet her, so what did you say to Mary Mom?
Two final things on the list were an art lecture, but I missed that as the stress talk went long, and the pool which I went to and bounced. No outdoor walking today as it is a nasty weather day - grey and wet!” Off to meet cousins. Toodles. God bless you.

Angels singing in the Centrum

Monday, May 11th, 2015

My goodness what beautiful music emanates from 2 violins and a piano! I came here to the pc at 3pm and I thought… “I hear angels!” And so I caution everyone who says “the computers are slow!” to “listen to the music!!!! peace be with you.” “Yeah lady what are you smokin’” they look back at me. Today is a 50% day. I planned to go to daily Mass, origami, a talk, a walk and then go into the solarioum pool at 1pm. I refuse to go less than 50%, but I did miss Mass and origami with sleeping in… yawn, I grabbed coffee and headed for the talk called Perception isn’t Reality… about how we form perceptions and how we can change how we perceive … Chuck and I say “Perception IS Reality.” But what we need to know is that perception is MY reality. When we “go up against” another person who does not agree with us, we really need to realize their perspective, their focal point, what they automatically didn’t see, or what they saw into something, what story they made up from what they saw, what motive they attributed to the story they saw and realize I did all that too! I try so hard especially on a long cruise like this to be positive and not to read any negatives into people’s actions or events… If someone is angry or grumpy I have to wonder what has happened to them that makes them feel crowded, chilly, nauseated, sad… and there is a lot! I suggest just go take several Advils and maybe a nap!
Speaking of naps, our little English friend Emily had her baby named Oliver (no middle name yet) Hardstaff! Em: I vote for Charles or William - good strong names!) Emily and Oliver and big brother Henry were out in the garden in short sleeves in a photo in Facebook so Maybe it will be lovely weather when we finally get off the ship in England!! We are rocking and rolling here in the middle of the Atlantic and it’s chilly, but I’m holding out for sunshine!
Today after the talk on perception, I missed walking as I promised to meet 2 new lady friends at the Solarioum at 1pm. So realizing I have to kick a lot in the pool to make up for missing a 2 mile walk… I got into the pool and the ladies came and then more! We float and kick and talk as the waves batter us around. In the pool were folks from Augusta Georgia, Boot Hill Kansas, San Antonio Texas, Bridport England and … some others. What fun to share about our towns! After tea and a panini and a hot shower, here I am… I ask for prayer today for my friends Linda and Marj both of whom are undergoing testing for potential cancers. I pray for their peace of mind as doctors poke and prod… Both are wonderful sweet ladies and you all know others who need prayer for people who are besieged by life’s ills and inequities. As you read this, ask angels to hold the ladies and to hold your friends and you too against the cold of the unknown. Hold us towards the light of hope and faith. God bless you! Sue