Dining Mates

There is NOTHING more fun than to have friends with whom to dine, is there? 

From what I observe, you eat whether there are friends there or not,” Jabber thoughtfully commented.

Well, when you are on a big ship with 2500 (more or less) of your bestest friends, it’s still nice to have dinner of an evening with a fun group. 

We LUCKED OUT!

These are our dining mates, all of us assigned to the same dining room table.  We had such fun!

Below is a picture of all of us at a mystery dinner one night aboard the ship:

image

Here are our new friends from Canada……..

image

L to R:  Joan, Sandra, Bob and Linda  (Bob and Sandra are married.)

And here are our new friends (two of the three) from Iowa, Lou and Brian.  (Brian’s wife is Tanya, not in picture.  Lou is Brian’s Mom.)

image

I don’t have pictures of the rest of our group.  (Hint:  if the rest of you see this post, please email a picture of yourselves to me!)

It went like this:  TMWLH (the guy who kept following me), had a crush, evidently, on Bob (first picture above).  Kept trying to kiss him.

Bob managed to escape, but as I mentioned we went to a murder mystery dinner one evening, thanks to the finagling of Bob, who IS a darned good “finagler” of the first degree by the way! 

“Who got murdered?” Jabber asks…….

Nobody, Jabber.  It was a play.  We had dinner and there would be acts of the play between the courses.  There was also lots of wine.  I mean LOTS of wine, which explains some of this which follows, but not all.  One must take into consideration personalities.  What can I say?

“Well, you could get on with the story..” Jabber suggested.  Helpfully. 

Bob (briefly) fell in love with one of the actresses who had, well, let’s just say she was well-endowed.  One of the bouncers waiters had to apprehend him at the end of the meal as he got up to go after and grab said actress.   Seeing the possible competition, TMWLH went after Bob.  Yours truly grabbed TMWLH just in time to prevent the dreaded ‘public display of affection!’ which might have surprised the rest of the dining room, but not our group.  We were all laughing ourselves silly.

Then I have to mention that Brian (in the picture with his Mother, Lou) was most helpful in pointing out that my new friend “The Maltese” (from Malta and not in our dining group) was likely telling me a tall tale about his life, but of course, Jabber being Jabber, believed it.  Proving once again that Jabber really is naïve—gullible– (even at 111) about men!  No matter.

(If you are on a ship and encounter a handsome man ‘of a certain age’ (who is from Malta) and he begins to tell you about his tragic life and ends with telling you of his ultimate success—early in the a.m. over coffee when most of the rest of the normal people are sleeping and you are trying to enjoy your first cup of coffee whilst looking out at the sea on a ship—I fear it’s likely not true.  The life story.  Then again, it might be.  One never knows, does one?  Which is what makes the entire encounter fun.)

We surely enjoyed this group!  Thanks to Bob and Joan for sending me emails and photos.

P.S.  TMWLH has, seemingly, overcome his broken heart and carried on with his life.  It was only a passing fancy.

(TMWLH = The Man Who Lives Here)

 

Alert! Convicts on the Loose!

“OHHHHHHHH!  Isn’t that dangerous?” Jabberwocky asked, frightened at the idea.

I’m referring to three of the Brocanters who (evidently) got the email to wear black and white stripped striped shirts with black pants for brocanting yesterday. 

Yours truly did not get the email. 

But I did have on a stripped striped shirt. 

(Striped and stripped mean two different things.  Go ahead.  Look it up!  This is brought to you as a public service announcement.  Besides, I had to look it up.)

I got to be the Warden to keep this group in line.  (They were on work-release.  Make that shopping-release.)

image

Two brocanters were MIA—off doing other important-like stuff, no doubt.  So it was just four of us………and we did find things to get into.  (Criminal minds and all.)

(Oh not really criminal minds.  Just more, uh, mischievous minds.)

(Oh alright.  We’re all a bit crackers.  And proud of it.)

Vanna and Thumper got into flowers:

image  New flowers.  For one’s hair.  Thumper is shy, being a bunny and all………….

image

image  Vanna is NOT shy, being, well……..being Vanna and the fashion diva that she is.

image

Girlfriend had to get in on the shenanigans as well, of course, being a……….well, being a girlfriend I suppose (I could have said HAM with her history of trying on bras at sales and all, but that wouldn’t be nice, now, would it?  No.  Wouldn’t.  So I won’t say it.)

So then what do you suppose we saw?  Guess, go ahead, just guess!!! 

Okay, can’t………………. can you?  Here is a picture:

image

Somebody’s garden.  They were holding a sale and we got a great view of their beautiful garden—the path less taken and all that……………(in fact, it didn’t look like anybody ever took that path.)

And cranes and flingos!  Yep, in the garden.  Statues…..statues of cranes and flingos.  You do know what ‘flingos’ are, don’t you?  Of course you do.

image

In front of a lovely waterfall.  People have amazing gardens hidden in their backyards and we surely enjoyed this one.

Update:  all convicts safely returned to their cells and you can now feel free to wander the streets without fear. 

You are welcome. 

Over and out.

Llamas, Llamas, Everywhere!

Oh I know you wonder about the title, that’s why I used it of course.  Here we were in Helsinki, Finland, ……….

image

and what do you think we saw in a store window across from the church we’d been taken to see?

image

FELTED LLAMAS IN HELSINKI!

say that really fast 10 times………

image

 

They’re everywhere!  They’re everywhere!

(This one’s for you, Kaki and Deborah)

More Pictures

Most without labels.  You make up the stories.  These were scenes from Tallinn, Estonia and Visby, Sweden.  

In front of a steak house………….

image

image

Modern-day rickshaws, pedal powered.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

 

image

image

Picturesque!  Everywhere I looked it was lovely.  Most of the more modern cities were built around ‘old towns’ and the old towns have been maintained, right in the center of the cities.  Some still are occupied by residents and merchants. 

The Big Floating Hotel

So you would like to see some pictures of the ship, wouldn’t you?  Well, even if you wouldn’t, I’m going to show them to you, at least part of them, because I’ve got the pictures next up on my 85 zillion picture camera what-cha-ma-call-it storage thingy.  Besides, now that it’s 95 degrees HERE at home, I’m rather missing the lovely cool (and wet) weather we enjoyed (most of the time) whilst on our Baltic cruise, not to mention the prepared-and-served-special-as-you-request-delicious meals and no need to clean up afterwards service, so I won’t.  Mention it.  But I do remember it fondly.  Such luxury~!

 

image

If you have taken a cruise on one of these huge ships, you know that they are like a hotel—a resort-style hotel as they include all the amenities you can imagine.  Above is the Solarium indoor pool.  The Solarium had an Indian theme.  (Yes, there was food involved, too, in the Solarium, mostly snacks and light meals and coffee and, well, you get the idea.) Here are some more pictures of it:

image

image  One of the two hot tubs around the larger pool.

image  Elephants—and see the bridge below in the picture? 

image

image

image

In the center of the ship, looking down at the Centrum of the ship……

image

with elevators (5) on one side

image

along with a stairway,

image

there were open balconies (I believe around 10 levels).  Here is a picture of some of the balconies:

image

image

There was a casino on the ship, too…….

image

Above a loveseat in one of the bars.

image  Many cruise-themed vignettes to look at as one strolled from one section of the ship to another……

image

It was a beautiful ‘hotel’ on water complete with a huge theater and many restaurants, pools, track, large well-equipped workout room, volleyball court, outdoor pool and hot tubs and about anything one could desire.  In the Centrum, one evening, a trapeze act performed—right up to the top of the Centrum (10 or so levels).  Quite astounding.

 

image

 

image  Another bar, gathering area

image

Above, a lounge area with a bar and also a stage

image

where we listened to some talks about the places we visited.

image

 

image

Wait a minute!  There is that man again!

In Which the Cruise Tours are Continued

“Well, about time!” Jabber interjected here, at the beginning, which I suppose means it isn’t an interjection, it’s more of an interruption in what I haven’t even begun yet……

Yes, well, things here needed attending, Jabber!  Like weeds.  Which have taken over the front and back yards, not to mention the side yards so I won’t.

Anywho, been on a massive digging up spree ‘round here, this after a week of getting over colds and a bit of flu thanks to the very long plane ride home, and only yesterday when I received a much-anticipated email from our tablemates on the cruise did I again think, “Oh Yes!  I must post more on the blog!”

So, until I receive some photos from said tablemates who have returned home to all parts of the world, you’ll have to do with my photos, most of which I can’t identify, but still they’re fun to take a look at.  So I shall inflict them upon you forthwith!

Let’s see, when last I left off, this strange man kept showing up in my pictures:

image  so it must have been Sweden last.   I must tell you about the Vasa!  Yes, in Stockholm!

What, you may ask and likely will because you are so very curious (no, I don’t mean YOU are a curious sight, I mean you have a curious inquisitive mind—don’t you?  Yes.  I thought so.), well then, you might ask, as I’m sure you shall, “What is a “Vasa’?

Well my friends, here is a clue:

image  This is where it is housed.

This is a museum, built around the Vasa.  Which is………a ship!  Yes, it is!  Below is a replica of what the Vasa must have looked like in its heyday.  Which lasted 50 minutes.  It doesn’t look like this any longer…………….indeed, for 50 glorious minutes it looked like this!  Then, it sank.

image

This is what it looks like now:

image

Apologies for the poor quality of the photo—but the museum was kept very dark and it was next to impossible to get a good shot of this ship. 

Here is the story:

In the 17th Century or so, the Swedish Navy ruled the waves.   At the order of the King, a big battleship was built.  It had three levels inside and on the bottom two levels were glorious cannons!  There were openings in the hull all around the ship so the cannons could be fired.  Upon testing, it became apparent that the ship was not stable, but the King INSISTED that it be built and launched into use.  So the architects continued on their doomed project.

The day of sailing arrived!  It was the maiden voyage of the Vasa.  In great celebration and much fanfare, not only did the Navy men board the ship but also their wives and children.

A little side note here:  back in the day—and by that I mean THEIR day—those sailors were not taught to swim.  The thought was, if they couldn’t swim, they wouldn’t be tempted to abandon their posts, so to speak, not that anyone in their right mind would abandon a post just to jump into the sea, anyway, but this was one method of keeping the sailors at their posts until the ship got to its destination.  So, nobody knew how to swim………….

As you can imagine the great celebration going on as this crowning achievement was launched, the ship sailed off into the harbor, but after a short time, it began to sway a bit.  Water rushed into the sides of the ship where the cannon barrels were pointing outwards.  Soon, the boat began to sink.  Fifty minutes later,  it did.  Sink.  Along with a lot of the crew and their families.  Who could not swim.  There it sat, at the bottom of the harbor, for centuries.

After hundreds of years, the Vasa was located and technology had advanced enough to raise it from the sea.  Now composed of almost petrified wood, it is amazingly intact.  Because moving it over land might cause the mighty Vasa, petrified although it was, to fall apart, the museum was built AROUND the Vasa after it had been pulled into dry dock.  And so there it is—the museum of the Vasa.

I’d like to write something profound here, you know, lessons learned from history and tragedies and horrible misjudgments and all that.  All I can think of is:  Really, people!, if you choose to become a sailor, learn how to swim!  Wouldn’t hurt to take a few swimming lessons if you were the spouse or child of a sailor, either, especially if Daddy said, “Oh come on, come to the gala debut sailing of our new ship!  It’ll be fun!”

So that’s all I’ve got to say about the Vasa. 

image

However, I will add that we toured an ancient town called Sigtuna founded 1,000 years ago by Sweden’s King Christian.  It was interesting to see, still exists AS a town and what do you think “Sigtuna” means?

image

It means SICK TOWN—Sig is sick and Tuna is town………

image

Yes, back in the day, it’s where they sent all the sick—those with leprosy or other illnesses. 

image  Ruins of old church

When we returned to our stateroom for the evening that night, this is what greeted us on the bed:

image

This one’s for YOU, Thumper!

Cruise Adventures continued

 

image

The next ports of call on our cruise—Stockholm and Helsinki, Finland 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden with a population of over 2 million in the city and surrounding area.  Founded in 1200 or so, it’s an old city with a great history and presence today, among the leaders of Scandinavian countries in commerce and progress.  Sweden has a democratically elected governing body as well as a monarchy.   It tends to be a socially democratic country, providing free education and other social services to its population.  This is possible as Sweden (and other countries as well) tends to be homogenous in composition (although not entirely) and small in population.  Certainly Stockholm is a leader in industry and commerce, so this form of government has not prohibited the human tendency towards competition in any way.  Many Swedish speak English along with other languages and their native tongue.

Extremely ‘green’ and ‘clean’, Stockholm provides educational opportunities for individuals from other countries to learn how to control pollution and encourage a healthy environment.  Stockholm is composed of 14 islands and Sweden has a total of about 2400!  Cruising into this port was just beautiful.

image

image

image

image

image  Wait a minute!  This man isn’t Swedish!  He’s Irish!   A fellow traveler, no doubt………..

image

image  There he is again!  Keeps sneaking into my pictures!

image

It was rainy and we needed a  bite to eat, so we ducked into a restaurant.  The proprietor said, “Come in!  There is plenty of room downstairs.”  So we came in——-to a restaurant the size of my closet.   “Downstairs” involved going down an open spiral, metal stairway with steps approximately 4 inches wide.  When we got ‘downstairs’ we saw this:

image

image

image  This is an old door leaning against the wall.  In front, a lit candelabra.  There were exactly three electric lights ‘downstairs’ and the rest of the light was supplemented with many lit candles. 

image

The poor waitress had to run up and down the spiral staircase to get drinks and food for the patrons who were seated either at long, large, rustic wooden table or in smaller wooden tables crowded into the space.   It was a CAVE!

But we all enjoyed a cup of coffee and some apple cake which was recommended by the waitress.  Returning outside, the rain had subsided.  Here I am, dressed as a Munchkin from the Wizard of Oz following the yellow  brick road—fully stuffed and fluffy with two shirts, fleece jacket and rain jacket over the top of that, pockets stuffed with necessary items so I had no purse, with my oh-so-stylish beret cap. 

image

I also had gloves, which I wore!  It was chilly.

If I’d had a cane and top hat, I would have launched into my Llama Song and dance.  Which would have not been appropriate, but then I was on vacation and who cares?  Maybe they would have cared?  I dunno…….

image

More in the next post………

Princess Security’s Excellent Adventure

Security reported a wonderful vacation, lots of running and chasing of assorted critters, multiple ventures in to a large hydrangea patch (someone had put up a fence at some point around the hydrangea patch, but Security reported it was no problem to simply knock it over so she did), much cat-chasing and of course, a selection of sleeping accommodations inside the home itself.  She has indicated she loved getting back, briefly, to her roots and felt more connected with her ancestors, and she is pleased to have had the experience.  Quite educationally enriching.

She did complain a bit about the meals, however, noting that while she did get (many) treats every night (to which she is accustomed), Leader did not seem to understand that a plate was to be set for HER at every evening meal.  She tried her best to educate Leader about this issue, but Leader insisted she eat mostly her dog food, supplemented with the occasional bit of cheese or crust of toast.  This for health purposes, she was told. 

Well! Security reported she had never had a weight problem and certainly has kept her girlish figure—the French do that–and was getting her exercise daily whilst at the resort, so she had difficulty understanding just why Leader might not provide a good fish and potatoes dinner served with, perhaps, a nice chardonnay.  (Oh alright, she doesn’t get chardonnay at home unless someone inadvertently sets their glass on the floor.) 

Needless to say, she has immediately ensured her dinner is served on time every evening now that she and her servants are home. 

After two weeks of vacation camp with Leader at her farm home with a huge backyard, Security was ready for a beauty parlor day, so we made an appointment for this morning.

She is a princess as always—only this time she’s an INDIAN princess!  (I think it has something to do with her two-week camping vacation, back to her roots and all……..but I’m not sure?)

image

image

 

image

She said that she selected the colors herself—to match both her own beautiful fur coat and her collar.  The asymmetrical look is all the rage, of course, for Standards.  And she is NOTHING if not a Standard.   (Poodle Princesses so love to be coordinated).

Hugs and Licks to Leader and her husband, she said.  And thank you for the lovely adventure!

Copenhagen Tour, continued

A bit of interesting tidbits here—I ran across some notes I’d taken on the cruise from a lecture given by a professor.  I only wish there were more lectures prior to going to each port.

Most of the Baltic States were influenced/inhabited/settled by Germans at some point.  Of great importance were the Hansa—what we in America understand today as trade and commerce unions.  This, they discovered, was the key to sustained wealth of both individuals and countries.  Trade unions, or Hansa, developed by trades and business (commerce) groups to represent their individual interests and interacted democratically between groups and countries.  It might be argued that the Hansa is the basis for democracy itself.

Copenhagen has three very important individuals—and the professor called them the BATs of Copenhagen. 

1.  B is for Bohr—the Danish physicist who discovered bohrium and for whom the element is named.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohrium

Bohrium is cold fusion—so in some ways, Niels Bohr is one of the founders of nuclear physics—some would include him as the founder of nuclear (atomic) reactions.

2.  A is for Andersen, Hans Christian.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Christian_Andersen

Writer of famous, internationally appreciated children’s books such as The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid.  He had a sad personal life, but an interesting one!

3.  T is for (Karl Albert) Bertel Thorvaldsen. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertel_Thorvaldsen

Thorvaldsen was a sculptor from Denmark.

On with the tour of Copenhagen, in photos:

From the window of the bus, this scene of a busy and old street:image

image

image

image  Current day apartments and below, containers for sale in a shop window.

image

Some of the walkways have raised pieces for the blind so they can follow/feel the walkway.  I thought this very interesting and forward thinking:

image

image

image  Bicycle stand

Below, furs for sale:

image

image

Open air restaurants all over the Baltic states:

image

image  image

A window display above right.

The canal and river boat going by (left below)—we rode in one for part of the tour:

image  image

image

image

image

image

Boat that looks like an ark is a restaurant.

A dignitary arrived at the government building for a visit.  Guards presented their respects and do a routine for them.  This daycare brought children to watch the activities:

image

image

One of the many statues in Copenhagen.

image

Almost all Danes speak English and speak it well.  They are friendly and helpful, eager to share their culture and sights with tourists.  It’s an extremely clean and well-kept country and people are proud of their heritage and patriotic.

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and has a population of around 2 million.  You may read more about Copenhagen here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen

Copenhagen

We knew we were approaching Denmark as we saw land and then docked.  The tour began early, included a river cruise through their canals and many beautiful buildings.  We were greeted on the pier with our tour guide, boarded a large bus and were transported to the beginning of the tour where we disembarked and walked a while. 

Cobblestone streets are just that—stones cobbled together eons ago, irregular and rough, but that is the main portion of the old historic streets in Copenhagen as it is in many of the other countries we visited, especially in their ‘old towns’ which are historic and maintained well.

image

There is a great deal of construction going on!

image

image

Ironic sign on this station!  No, I don’t know what it was……maybe a train station?

image  The Little Mermaid has become Copenhagen’s iconic symbol.  Do you recall the story of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson?  He was from Denmark.

image

Other sights—military, historic:

image

image

image

image

image  image

imageimage

On the ceiling of this church:

image  Yes, a boat! hangs…….and on the grounds…….

image

image  As we walked on, we saw old buildings, well maintained……..

image

image

Note:  1751!  And this isn’t one of the oldest buildings, either!

image

image

image

More pictures in next post.  One of the problems I have is I can not remember all the places’ names—so much to remember, and one is walking rapidly, trying to get a shot of this and that.  Remembering the foreign names is hard.  The overall impression is of history, and a feeling of how the country has evolved. 

Previous Older Entries