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2018 travel

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Jaisalmer

01 – 04 February 2018 Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India

We left Jaipur at midnight to Jaisalmer taking a 2nd class sleeper. First class was filled when we booked three months earlier. Narda took the upper bunk and seemed to sleep more than me. A woman in the bunk across from me snored louder than anyone I have ever heard before keeping me awake for most of the night. Somewhere in the night she was replaced by two women covered head to toe in black with no face showing sitting on the bunk opposite and looking at me. That kept me awake most of the rest of the night. We got to Jaisalmer around noon and took a tuk tuk to Hotel Helsinki.

Jaisalmer is a former medieval trading center in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, in the heart of the Thar Desert. Dominating the skyline is Jaisalmer Fort, a sprawling hilltop citadel buttressed by 99 bastions. Behind its massive walls stand the ornate Maharaja’s Palace and intricately carved Jain temples.

Helsinki House (http://www.helsinkihouse.in/) is built as a Haveli, (rooms surround a central courtyard) and for a budget hotel is very comfortable, meaning the beds were soft, the shower had hot water, and the room was large.  View below is walking outside our room into the centre of the haveli.They advertise as being at the edge of the Gadisar Lake, however, we found the lake a bit of a trek away. This is because of a long-term drought. The photo of the walled city is at the top of this blog, from their rooftop. We ate most of our meals here and they were affordable and tasty. Affordable meaning a complete feed for two with drinks (not beer) for about 600 rupees which is about $9 USD. Breakfast was included. The people running it are really helpful, friendly and with the line ‘this is your home we are just here to make it good’, and they did. The one who built it lives in Melbourne now and his brother is running the place. Getting there is not worth the ride, walk those last few blocks. The single lane road is so rough that body parts begin to fall off by the time one gets to the hotel.

In one ride Narda held onto the driver’s child as we roared around the old city streets:Our first trek was to the fort which is viewable from our hotel. It looks like a gigantic sandcastle. It is one of the few ‘living forts’ in the world, if not the only one; filled with temples, shops, and thousands of people living within the walls.  Built in 1156 AD, the streets and houses are a journey into the past with the present everywhere (people with cell phones and free WIFI throughout the city and satellite television dishes sticking out of five-hundred-year-old homes). See our slideshow for a bunch of groovy pics showing this wonderful place at

On our second day we hired a tour guide. Going into the walled city there are dozens of men offering their services as guides. We were hounded by them yesterday and today when someone said for two-hundred rupees ($3 USD) they would spend a few hours showing us around and explaining stuff. I recorded some of what he said (see clip above) though at the end of the day the only thing I remember was him telling us how the fort was not attacked because the enemy’s elephants and camels could not make it up the steep stone climb into the city; the fort-folks “poured oil over the long ascending road” – what a good idea. The image of elephants, camels, and horses sliding down the mountain on oil stayed with me for days. I think I even had a dream about it. Very Freudian.We did a tour of temples in the walled city, such as the main Jain Temple with such incredible carvings, Paraswanath Temple, built in the 1100s. Narda bought some clothing, pants I think, I got a fridge magnet and toilet paper. For anyone who has never travelled to Asia before (any country) carry toilet paper with you as they never provide it. There are those water spray thingies like they have in Europe, details not included, but still toilet paper for those of you like me is a necessity. We bought hats for the high tourist price of 150 rupees each (almost $2) for our camel ride. In this city of narrow winding roads cows, tuk tuks, people, goats, pigs, dogs, and cats vie for navigational prominence. Here is a short clip of our tour of the fort etc.

Jaisalmer is a very hustling town. At every step someone or their child is trying to sell something or ask for money. I was hoping this dude would give me some groovy mantra or tell me I had the most magnificent aura ever but instead he put his hand out for money then was disappointed with the amount we gave. Even the animals, as in every city, go for handouts, with cows nuzzling up to you if food is in your hand, the same with goats, dogs, and some places monkeys.

Camels I freaked out about the idea of riding camels in the hot blazing sun. It was not the ride, but the sun that scared me. Terrell REALLY had his heart set on it. He is usually very laid back about everything (with the exception of all things computer related), but the camels had captured his imagination. So here we were. I bought a white scarf and a hat to hold it in place, Arabian style.

Our camels were one-humped boys, called dromedaries. They have nice big eyes, and lovely long lashes. My camel, named Rocket (a little alarming) stood over 7’ at the top of the hump, putting my head 9 to 10 feet up! They also have soft mushy feet divided into 2 toes. The feet splay out to the size of a large dinner place I recon, protecting them from sinking sand. They walk with a gentle roll, like being on the ocean. It was surprisingly pleasant. Mind you, getting on and off…you have to lean forwards, then lean right back. All good.

We got picked up at the hotel. The driver stopped at a few villages on the way, the first one was full of kids, the second one was ruins from 350 years ago, abandoned because of a mixed marriage. A boy falls in love with a girl from the wrong caste, and all hell breaks loose. That’s the short version.

Actually, speaking of caste, the system is still alive and well in India. Our tuk tuk driver Shambu, a lovely guy, told us about his upcoming arranged (by his brother) marriage. She was from the shoe-maker caste, as he was, and so he told us that this makes life so much easier, especially when there are children. They would meet at MacDonalds to get to know each other better. He just completed building his one roomed house, and now he is ready to receive his bride. Bless them!!

I am surprised everyday in India. It is such a fascinating country. And the food……don’t get me started…..is fabulous; you don’t need to go to a fancy restaurant. The dodgiest looking little places serve the most wonderful food. Though last night I nearly had to call the fire brigade when I bit into a serve of Momos..HOT dumplings. The waiter came rushing to me with a spoon full of sugar…bless him…it helped. Back to the camels. We rode for some 2 hours, then sat in the sand and waited while the camel guys cooked us a meal over a fire. From scratch, kneading the dough; the whole thing! The ride home in the 4Wheel drive was the scariest thing. He had to ‘gun it’ to get past the sandy area, otherwise we kept getting bogged. That was definitely a ‘white knuckle’ ride. I recommend camel riding; another surprise.

Our video, not to be missed, of camels’ adventures with us

I loved the camel ride and could have gone for longer. Narda’s camel seemed friendlier, I know this because mine spit at me when Itried to pet him, and Narda’s didn’t. While our guide(s) cooked, our rides were tied to bags of something to keep them from wandering off; not sure how many or who belonged to us but there were at least five blocks around the campfire cooking, frying, laughing, a couple holding hands. We were told that the camels had to be tied up as they were males and females were in a wanting mood, and if let loose, our camels ‘would go off and party and not return for days’. The idea of camels humping one another (get the humping joke?) whilst we sat in our meditative moods on their humps did not seem so picturesque. Until sunset we sat on our own little sand dune with no one else in sight. After dark we wandered toward the fire and got our meal which was very good, though, as one would expect, there was some sand in it. Most people we met at our hotel did this for days. Narda’s son, Brendan and a gal, did an overnighter but we were not quite up to it and got back about ten pm.

Below some happy city residents of Jaisalmer that Narda caught smiling at us. We have four sources of photos: our Nikon with wide angle, regular and zoom lenses, Narda’s Samsung phone, and tablet, and my iPhone. From our room we would watch incredible sunrises every morning – see the clip below…

For a great way to end the day there is always tea at the Tibet Café inside the walls. Then we took an overnight, eighteen-hour, train to Jodhpur, the incredible Blue City, in an AC1 carriage – we had our own room. That will be the post next.

I also do this blog at our India site which is located at http://neuage.org/india and is often more up to date than this as we are too busy exploring where we are or reading. Currently Narda is reading, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” and I am reading “Homo Deus A Brief History of Tomorrow” both by Yuval Noah Harari. I have already read the book Narda is reading. We love these books and recommend them to everyone. Any time left, which is little I post my photo textual work at https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/E_6JaB

I post my daily thoughts at http://neuage.org/2018/

My HomePage is http://neuage.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jaipur

Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan
25 January, Thursday

 Narda slept most of the way from Agra to Jaipur. We had first class sleepers which were comfortable. I sat up the whole way (six hours) and played with some Photoshop stuff.

We got to Jaipur after eleven pm and took the first tuk tuk driver we spoke with. For 100 rupees he got us to our hotel and along the way he told us that he had fallen on hard times and he would give us a tour for the day for 500 rupees (less than $8 USD). He did not have a card or website (very few do) but he gave us his brother’s phone number if we were so inclined. I did write it down, but we never got in touch again. The reason being that every time we walked out of our hotel, restaurant, shop, there would be dozens of tuk tuk drivers offering their services. When we said we were just going for a walk people would walk alongside us offering tours, guides, rides, marijuana, hash, even opium, along with carpets, and textiles to view and purchase.

The Anaraag Villa (http://www.anuraagvilla.com/) was quite a change from our place in Agra. Both were around $20 USD but this place was heaps better with a garden that filled with peacocks in the morning and evening (I counted twelve once). And the food was excellent for the whole week.

We spent most days wandering around our neighbourhood, a couple of times we took a random bus ride into town and one day we had a tuk tuk drive us around.

The famous places are the forts, which we went past but not inside, and the Pink City. I bought a new suitcase as the wheel fell off the one I have used for the past couple of years, Narda got dresses and scarves and generally we just chilled.

We walked for a couple of hours in the Pink City (the paint was produced from a calcium oxide compound), where, once, long ago, everything was pink, though now it is all a bit of a mildewed brown. At a restaurant we met a couple of fellas from Albany, New York, which is where I am from, I grew up twenty miles away in Clifton Park, New York, though I left there in 1965. Narda and I taught in Albany, New York 2002 – 2007 so I did have another run at that town. We saw them again several days later in Jaisalmer and had a chatty evening with them. We are on one of the tourist treks between cities that people go to one after another, but it is still interesting to see people from one’s obscure hometown.

Below is the Hawa Mahal (palace of winds) which is really just a front – there is no building in back. The Mahal was constructed by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799. Word on the street is that the Mahal was constructed to enable the Royal women of Rajput family to view the happenings in the city.

Below is the Hawa Mahal (palace of winds) which is really just a front – there is no building in back.
Jaipur Pink City

Amer Fort...

Amer Fort…

Getting around Jaipur tuk tuks

Amer Fort…It was constructed by Raja Mansingh in the year 1592.The red sandstone and marble stone construction reflect a blend of Hindu-Muslim architecture. We didn’t go inside but we got a lot of photos of the outside.The Anaraag Villa has been a real treat. The building is beautiful, 3 stories with lovely wall and ceiling frescos and marble floors. In the back a shady garden, peacocks grazing and tables and chairs where you can eat and relax. Only issue is the flute player who comes during breakfast times, playing his wooden flute to a mechanical drone. It was truly horrible. He played scales over and over again, never changing key. ….for 1 ½ hours. It drove me crazy. I actually asked for him to stop while we had our breakfast and to the credit of the staff here, they accommodated Miss Grumpy!

Jaipur has been nice. The air is much cleaner, the weather fantastic. We have slept well and done some explorations of the Pink city, a section of town with craftsmen and even visited a guru, who told us a whole lot of crap.

Yesterday we decided to go real local and took the bus across town to the World Trade Park. Enjoyed a movie “The Post”…loved it. Took our first Uber home. A nice easy ride.

World Trade Park is an amazing modern plaza for this part of the world. We have not seen anything like this yet. We saw a movie here and ate in there tripped out dinning area. The Uber ride we took cost 200 rupees ($3 USD) for a 45 minute drive.
Elephants take cargo and tourists up the mountain. Elephants take cargo and tourists up the mountain. We went up with a tuk tuk. The driver asked for 200 rupees for three hours of showing us around, we gave him 300 ($4.50 USD). We went to the various carpet shops, dress and scarf shops and worse of all an idiot guru. Our tuk tuk driver told us how he had been ill for years – some stomach thing – and he went to this famous guru who reads auras and the dude sold him some gem and then he was well. The ‘guru’ had a jewellery shop and we were parked in front of a glass case filled with silver and ‘amulets’ and the good ‘guru’ said a lot of stupid things to both of us and we left. (For example, he said I had dementia in my aura – which I ‘decided myself’ to quickly forget; of course, if I purchased some stone – it would help). We were extra upset to discover our poor tuk tuk driver who told us he had a crippled daughter plus two other children at home, his wife had died, and his elderly mother was home looking after the children. This ‘guru’ who had read his aura had sold him an amulet for 3000 rupees to heal him. The tuk tuk driver is lucky to get a couple of hundred rupees in a day. India is filled with sad stories. Everyone we meet has a list of dead people, troubled home situations and just difficult lives. People plead with us to show us things; to hire them for a couple of hours. There are so many more tuk tuk drivers than passengers. We hear stories of drivers getting no passengers for days. This is their livelihood. Then so called ‘gurus’ hustle illiterate people for all they can get from them.

Situated in the middle of Mansagar Lake is the groovy Jal Mahal. It was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II in the 18th century, as a hunting lodge and summer retreat. Not visible is the high level of pollution in the lake with lots of rubbish – I enhanced the colours a bit on my photo to give more blue and less grey and less yuck in the lake.In the evening, as we do at home (wherever that may be at any given time) we watch TV series. We have yet to figure out how to watch television, though we have tried in several cities, so we watch our Netflix series on our laptop. Currently we are finishing up the “The Good Fight” season one; which is an extension of “The Good Wife” that we loved except for the series ending, which sucked.

Narda was back to her Delhi Belly ways so we went to the local chemist and got a repeat of the pills we paid about $35 a piece for in Australia for $1.50 USD for a pack of ten. We didn’t need a script, like going to the chemist in China, if you know the name of the drug, they will sell it, no questions asked.

even with Delhi Belly shopping is good

even with Delhi Belly shopping is good

And there is always someone to ask for directions, even if everyone points a different direction.

I also do this blog at our India site which is located at http://neuage.org/india and is often more up to date than this as we are too busy exploring where we are or reading. Currently Narda is reading, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” and I am reading “Homo Deus A Brief History of Tomorrow” both by Yuval Noah Harari. I have already read the book Narda is reading. We love these books and recommend them to everyone. Any time left, which is little I post my photo textual work at https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/E_6JaB

I post my daily thoughts at http://neuage.org/2018/

 

 

 

India2018: Agra

Travels through India with Terrell Neuage and Narda Biemond. India 2018 itinerary   Previous blog: Delhi

Wednesday 24/01/2018 Agra

We were up at five am after not sleeping well all night from waking up constantly to be sure we were awake at five am. We had our phone alarms on (my wake-up ring tone is a Dylan song ‘She belongs to me’ and Narda is enough to drown out a freight train) plus the hotel was to bang on our door but we were up before then. Still we worry.

We got a tuk tuk to the train station that even at 6:30 am was crowded with zillions of people all over.

We had a nice chat with a couple of police people while we waited. They helped us get on to the correct carriage, which in our case was first class seats for the two plus hours. See  below.

The train seats were comfortable – not Amtrak comfortable but Indian good. Our first train on this three-month trip. We got breakfast served (cornflakes, milk, coffee, and a hot meal of eggs and something which we declined as we had breakfast at the train station. An uneventful couple of hours with some reading done. Shambhu, our tuk tuk driver for the next three days greeted us with our names on a sign and we settled into Hotel Sheela near the Taj Mahal and after eating at the hotel we slept. The hotel is quite basic, we had booked the basic room for $23 USD for two nights, but apparently it was too basic for us uptown folks (no hot showers, and small) so for $53 USD we got a hot shower and a larger room for two nights. We thought the beds in India were going to be too hard, so we brought a couple of blow-up mattress and a pump which puts our luggage over weight for internal flights. The beds so far are good, thick foam, after two stays we gave them away to Shambhu.

With Delhi we were tossing out blogs a day, videos, photos galore, now we are too busy to do any such thing. Or we were, I am writing this on the night train to Jaipur, with Narda, and everyone else in our carriage asleep. When we get there I will be stuffed, but then I should sleep, Narda will be reading her Kindle for the rest of the night. The last couple of days have tested every fibre of this seventy-year old and I am sure Narda-the-younger feels exhausted also. Of course, she has been asleep for the past three hours on the berth above me. And this morning I woke her at eight am, so we could get out the door; such is the life of an old person.

We did the Taj Mahal thing Wednesday morning, a very foggy morning – barely saw it. An hour later when sun decided to shine and chase away the fog we got a couple of photos. It is somewhat impressive, the fact that it has lasted so long is a testament to something.

I have always liked cows, from living on a dairy farm in Australia to not eating them since my parents may have slipped something onto my plate in the early 1950s and throughout the early 1960s that may have had cow chunks in it, cows have been an interesting topic of observation for me. My email image of the past ten years has been with me walking alongside a cow in Goa.  In Delhi, Agra, and now Jaipur I have had many photo ops with cows. So many in fact that Narda has put me on a cow-band. I will include a couple here just to remind myself of these days.

We met our tuk tuk driver in the afternoon and went to a carpet weaving place.

Shambhu was recommended to us by Narda’s work colleague, Brother Rob. He has been using his services and those of his family for a period of about 30 years as he made frequent trips back to India. This family of tuk tuk drivers has become very special to Rob, and he has many great stories to tell.

We visited Shambhu’s village. One of our favourite visits, ‘the real India’ he said. The video below is a bit blurry, something I blame on very poor internet for uploading but it does give an idea of this village. Shambhu is getting married in a month and he explained the process to us. His brother arranged a girl from the same class; in his case the ‘shoemaker class’. They meet at McDonalds. He asked if she like him and with an affirmative she asked if he like her, and thus began their romance. They met one-another’s families and when we met Shambhu he was in the process of building his new home; an add-on room to his brother’s home. There will be no floors, outside of what the earth provides, he has the bricks and has started digging out the sandy soil for a foundation. They have a well for water for their area, provided by Brother Robert, who brings students from his school in Australia. It will cost some 50,000 rupees to build his new home; about $776 USD. Shambhu is working hard with this tuk tuk business to raise the money. If he can not build his house in the next two months he will lose his bride as her father wants her provided for. She is 19, he is 25. He is also raising funds for the marriage. I forget how much it is but it is supposed to be a three day affair with a horse and bands and lots of celebration. Travel gives us such a different view of life-styles. Narda and I met on the internet, from the day we physically met at the end of 2000 until now we have rarely been apart. My marriage proposal was one night when, in the middle of the night, not even knowing whether Narda was awake or not, I said, ‘let’s do this thing’. That was it. I could not even use the word marriage for a long time. We did the deed with family present at the end of a pier, and I called it ‘JettyDay’. At the time I didn’t have a car, I was a single-parent, a few bucks in my pocket, and I didn’t even give her a ring. What a contrast to an Indian hitch.

The class thing takes awhile to get one’s mind around, but we have heard people mention it wherever we go. People will tell us on first meeting, ‘I am of the Brahmin Class’ which I believe is a priest class and they feel they are at the top of the heap. It seems strange to identify with birth as the totality of one’s place in life. Of course, it is easy for me as a white male from a western culture (with my duel citizenship of USA and Australia) to say one can achieve whatever they wish. I sure have. I realise I need to get over myself and understand how society has limited people by race, gender, place of birth, belief systems. I always thought by now, 2018, the world would be more homogenous. Maybe religion would be replaced by doctrines of love without doctrines. We would treat each other equally. I think it is getting worse. America First as well as anyone else who proclaims themselves first is putting us back into the class systems. Everyone is to get in the back of the line. I must be careful when I think a tuk tuk driver is over-charging me 150 instead of 100 rupees ($2.33 instead of $1.55 USD). A cup of coffee in most shops in Australia is about $4 (204 rupees), a beer in a pub starts at $8 (408 rupees). Our daily budget for food in India is $20 USD (sorry about switching between USD and Australian Dollar) for the two of us which is about one meal if we are doing it on the cheap in Australia. We feel good about ourselves giving a beggar a twenty rupee note until we realise we just gave away 30-cents. India is tough on a western consciousness.

Narda even played a bit of cricket with the children.

Shambhu and his sisters made us a meal. We were concerned about getting to the train on time. He kept saying we would be there on time, and he did do it. Was I feeling uneasy being waited and eating a meal surrounded by about twenty children. I said feed them first and we were told there was plenty for them. What I saw didn’t seem like it. The meal was cooked in their kitchen, a small open fire on the ground with a few vegetables. Letting go is such a difficult thing. Perhaps this is what I will learn in three months of being in India.

We were told that the school situation was good for people with money, they could send their children to a private school. Public school was a different story. Teachers are paid a salary. They do not show up, except a couple of times a year when there is an inspection. When we were there on what should have been a school day, children were all over the place. We went up to the roof and 360 degrees around us there were children on the rooftops waving to us. We did not share a language but they were smiling and we all laughed together. Narda taught them a song – see the clip below.

Village visit =

Shambhu took us to the local market with everyone smiling and saying it was OK for me to take their photo. We didn’t buy anything, no one seemed to worry. Around historic sites it is a different story with so many people asking for money, selling tours, trinkets, pity. What would I do in their situation? I have had my hardships, tragedies, failures, and success in life but nothing compares to the stories we get and the situations we see. I feel I get beggar fatigue. But I feel somewhat good about animal life in India. I am sure I will go on about this too many times. Unlike cultures of animal-eaters (goody-two-shoes vegetarian for decades me gets a bit judgemental in this space) the animals in India receive more respect. Cows are holy. They wander everywhere. Nutritionally their life is crap as they forge for themselves among the garbage, but they get to live their lives, hangout with each other. The calf is not separated from the mother at birth so we can steal the milk, pigs and chickens are not forced to live in such totally unnatural conditions where they can barely move, let alone socialize, so we can slaughter them to get fat on.

We had no intentions on purchasing a carpet – what would we do with an expensive new rug in our home that we are trying to get rid of stuff from? We watched how rugs were handwoven, months of works, and such an array of amazing colours. Then we thought of our home back in Adelaide. A bit dated, needing new style, something different than our Chinese collections of things dotted around, then we remembered how we have no second thought of replacing a camera or computer for a thousand dollars every few years; phones, television, constant car/caravan servicing, etc. A handwoven carpet should last for a long time. We were told it also would help several families.

This is the carpet we bought. We will now need to redecorate our lounge; oh wait, the house, the next day we bought three more: two for our bedroom and one for the hall. We need new curtains, we will paint the lounge when we get home, maybe even some new furniture. It is amazing what one can do a month after saying no more spending on the house.

the two for our bedroom: handwoven months of work,

And the one for our lounge;

And the one for our hallway (in the middle)

We were told this took five months and three-months of work to make. That is about how much we had to work to make the money to pay for it (not really – but they were not Walmart rugs.

Carpet – here is a video we took of them making a carpet:

We went to a music store where we were given a sitar concert and Narda was taught how to play a sitar in a few lessons. Of course, they wanted us to buy one but we didn’t.

We went to a marble shop and saw how marble pieces were inserted into tables and things. Tuk tuk drivers get a small commission for taking tourists to places like this. There is no pressure to buy anything; we did go nuts at the carpet place, but other places we just look and make it clear for the start we are not buying. They are happy to show their wares and the tuk tuk driver gets something and we learn from everyone we meet and there is always my ever-present camera taking photos or video. I made a rather uninteresting video which can be seen here Marble factory

Agra Fort video

Agra Fort is in the city of Agra. It was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty till 1638, when the capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi. Compared to the Red Fort in Delhi it is much more spectualar. The fort in Delhi was going through a reconstruction cycle but even without that the Agra one is bigger and better. It was India Tourism Day so we got to have our photo taken with some foreigners. Narda got them all to do a round of “Aussie Aussie Aussie” and them to say “oi oi oi”. I did not get my camera up in time to record it so just imagine it.

Video Clips are HERE

India2018

Travels through India with Terrell Neuage and Narda Biemond. Return to India 2018

For daily notes and photos and clips see http://www.neuage.org/India/ and follow the link to UPDATED…
Video Clips are HERE

Thursday 18, January 2018 Friday morning 10 AM India time Delhi

Narda writes in italics Terrell not

I’m writing waiting for brekkie at the Diamond Restaurant. It’s “roll out of bed and there you are” …..almost. Yesterday we went for a ride on the wild side. Bought a 3 day tourist card for the metro. The Delhi metro is really modern, fast and efficient. Women get offered seats, they line up separately for the extensive (just like the airport) security check. And the line is much much shorter. Less women travelling…it looks like it in the metro. There is even a special area on the platform marked  “Women only”.

Our first stop was Connaught  Place, a large roundabout with high end restaurants, shops and hotels. We bought a high end coffee were a little unimpressed and then tried to find the Red Fort by metro. We were unsuccessful and walked for quite a while through some pretty dodgy areas. There was a bunch of public hospitals in this area. Then we decided to do some random rides and got off at a station north of Vishwadidyalaya 😏😀. There the housing was quite different, three story buildings surrounding a park. A nice place to live and quite a contrast.

Think we slept about five, maybe six hours last night. ‘We’ll come and take a nap’, we promised ourselves when we began to rattle around our room at six am. It is now seven pm and naps never came our way today, nevertheless, we felt good and spent the day getting lost and enjoying it all. At our new found great breakfast place we spent a couple of hours on our computers/smart devices while sipping chia and eating a wonderful breakfast; eight am until past ten. Much more pleasant than our room to write and to connect with the great world out there; not that the twenty-five million (give or take a couple of dozen) people in our immediate vicinity are not enough to connect with; we do connect with them though in a bumping into a crowded type of way. Back in our room we managed to fiddle and fart around for a couple of hours with several serious attempts at trying to get out the door. Perhaps we are just old, maybe too thingy about what we want to wear (after all we have about two changes of clothes as we packed very little, other than all that we thought we would need: mosquito net, blowup mattresses because we thought the beds would be too hard (not so, so far), mesh to lock around our bags on trains, camera gear, one fifteen inch computer – must get that size and weight down, extra shoes, books, some stuff to give away, and not much to wear. Of course, that opens the door, if not the overfilled full of crap we may never use suitcases, for Narda’s new Indian clothing. Not to worry, finally out the door, tried to follow our GPS but ended up taking a tuk tuk to Connaught Place, not sure why, I think someone recommended it to us. Ended up in a rather longish conversation about Muslims with a Muslim man, the second in two days. Both from Kashmir and both with houseboats to rent. I think we may go there for a week and stay on a houseboat at the end of our trip in mid-April.

Love the fact that India the main choice is vegetarian and that meat eaters are like smokers or Trump supporters...

Love the fact that India the main choice is vegetarian

Had coffee at some alleged trendy Starbucks-like place, not a nice place, people too precious, all thinking they were trendy, we much prefer our area, which is just happy people getting through their life. We bought a three-day visitor metro pass for about eight bucks and rode around. One place we got off there was lots of college students protesting with signs and banners and surrounded by police with their guns. We finally found a sign in English, seems there were protesting about wanting another bus to come to their schools.

I think there were more police than students. After all, kids wanting another bus can get quite unruly.

We got back on the train not out of fear of police and college students but because there was a long line waiting to get onto the metro. They have airport security things to go through here (they have it our hotel too) and I show my special card as I unbutton my shirt, to show my defibrillator /pace maker, then I get to go around and get checked individually. Hey, I have been lifting weights and going to they gym for many years, maybe a bit of a vain Leo, but at 70 I can show off a bit.

That’s it. On and off at a few more shops; a great lunch; absolutely love Indian food. We try different things each time. we are looking at taking a cooking class later this week; so come to our home when we get back and we will cook great stuff for you too.

The Cow Thing

Narda, the wise, asked an intriguing question yesterday which got me to thinking about it sometime around two am when the world around us was asleep.

If I had to be a cow, would I rather be a cow in Australia living with clean air and green grass and roaming about a groovy open paddock or a cow in Delhi with the air not so good and playing bumper tag with the traffic and eating garbage?

After deep reflection using these thoughts I think I sided with the cows of India. Here is why;

The cows of Australia with their clean air, water, wide open terrain get to produce their grass-fed butter and lots of milk for humans but at what cost? Life is short and swift for an Australian cow. Luxury living, then it is off to the slaughter house for wayward cows to feed the meat eaters who enjoy chunks of karma in their stew. A cow lives only a couple of years – a cow giving birth has it worse with their calf being taken away soon after birth, so we can have their milk.

Cows in India have freedom. They may push a rider off her motor scooter and tourists get stepped on, but they do what they wish. I have seen cows in the middle of a busy street contently looking about for quite sometime as everyone finds a way past them. I have seen cows laying in the middle of the road having a bit of a rest with no one stressed. Can you imagine that in NYC? Some irate driver would shoot the cow in a road-rage moment.

There seems to be a lot of food around the place and once they find their way through Delhi perhaps they will make it to the Ganges for a bit of a bath later in life. I am sure some enlightened person would tell us how Australian cows are reincarnated souls who had worked hard in past lives but had done something not too correct, so they get luxury then death whereas Indian cows are reincarnated souls working off stuff. As I am not believing in reincarnation at the current time I don’t really have an opinion. Below is an enlightened cow giving me a bit of an eye.

Friday 19/01/18 11 AM

our video for the chai maker https://youtu.be/OOX-W7nfU1Q

Starting to figure this place out. The metro is a big bonus and on our 5th day we found a stop much closer.

Our area seems to be a neighbourhood of Kashmeri Muslims. At have met 4 in a short space of time, in completely separate incidents, all have a houseboat on the lake in Kashmir which we may rent (we will be taken care of by their family). 

It’s so interesting to hear a different take on everything, from moderate Muslims, which they all are, to the conflict over the border with India, which in their view is India being inflexible. 

So off we go to Kashmir in April, in search of truth , beauty, and a cooler climate.

And Lahore is safe. The last fellow was very definite. His brother lives there and   “the people are very friendly”.

Tried being tourist for the day, day; oh wait, we are always tourists – even back in Adelaide. As usual, we managed to have difficulty getting around on the metro and at some point we got near to where we thought we should be. Many people descended on us to sell tours and offer great discounts on rides and who knows what else. This morning one bloke, after not being able to sell me a tour, offered some ‘very good weed’ and a police car was sitting right next to us; gave that one a miss. Once you get in a tuk tuk, whether it is a motorbike or rickshaw type they just go on and on about offering to show side streets and special markets. The first rickshaw said only 20 rupees to the Red Fort “too far to walk – very dangerous, pick pockets, and criminals everywhere” then he said only $30 (I think he meant USD and not the Australian dollar) he would give us this wonderful tour. The more we said no the more he went on. After a few blocks we just got out and gave him 20 rupees and wished him well.

I am aware of all the dangers. Of course, that does not protect me from them. I do have the latest Nikon and zoom lens and our phones and whatnots that we cart around, and I don’t hesitate taking photos, asking first if I can take someone’s picture, but what is the point of having a camera and hiding it in fear of someone grabbing it? The Red Fort is amazing from the outside. There was the always present security with machine gun totting military types and the airport electronic scanners that I can’t go through. When I showed my pacemaker/ defibrillator they send me around for personal searching – a tour guide led us through and around security. Sure enough, on the way out an hour later he was there and said, ‘hi, Mr Pacemaker’ and we had a difficult time trying to get away from him with his tour selling ways.

Inside the fort several ‘guides’ offered their ‘excellent’ services and that we should not go through the place without them, but we declined and wandered about happily on our own.  The place is under re-construction with lots of repairs going on, so we did not get inside some of the buildings and the water did not flow through all the little canals and fountains but a well worth visit.

Narda made some new friends:

To get away from ‘Mr Pacemaker, the expert tour guide’ we got the next rickshaw in line to the Spice Market. Of course, he tried to sell us ‘must see’ tours all the way and we parted ways on good terms after giving him 100 rupees ($1.55 USD) instead of the 70 we originally agreed on. We do this often wherever we are; if the price is fair, and they get us to where we are going in one piece we tend to add to the fare. If they start off with some ridiculous price to begin with we go elsewhere. Tourists pay a lot more than locals as it should be. The Spice Market is very loud, congested, and smells nice but a short visit was enough for the likes of us.

We took some more metros, went to some shopping area as Narda wanted to get some local garb. Holy cow, one forgets what it is like shopping with a woman until it actually is in front of them. In Adelaide, Narda says she needs to shop, great, I spend quality time in front of the computer with my best mate, Adobe. In foreign places I just find some place to sit and look foreign. I do get caught up with my Facebook friends, world news, sports, weather, write a few blogs, take pictures, videos, say no to someone at the average of every 56 seconds and at the end of it Narda hasn’t found anything she wants. We have three months here so I am sure the correct clothing will manifest on some cosmic level and say ‘take me’.

Fact check: In Adelaide when I say I need to shop, I dash off to Aldis and spend as little time as possible on it, while his highness spends hours reading labels at Coles. That’s what really happens!

As we keep saying, the food here is absolutely amazing. On Sunday we will take a cooking class with our first person to interest us into going to Kashmir. He has his office out of our local favourite restaurant (Diamond Restaurant) and has named his travel business after the music group The Doors (I saw Jim Morison in 1969 and where he is buried in Paris in the 1980s) https://www.facebook.com/touradvisorindia/. He rents house boats on a lake in Kashmir and it all looks very tempting. We have met three more Muslim men each who has a houseboat for rent in Kashmir. Maybe this is the area where they all live. Something to think about! Everything else is all planned.

Saturday 20/01/2018 Delhi

Saturday morning we were up early, a bit before six, and off to our neighbourhood chai street vendor. For our first three days we struggled to get to the nearest metro, which we would take a tuk tuk through unbelievable heavy traffic for twenty minutes to because that was our first instructions how to get to it. The night before in some dark alley somewhere in Delhi in one of our totally lost moments we hailed a tuk tuk and it took them about 45 minutes to find their way to the alley we live in. I am sure we should have some natural alert instinct of any possible dangers, especially with cameras and other things worth more than a couple of rupees we cart about to record our moments but we don’t. So we were happy to be informed that there is a metro stop five minutes away from where we live. The रामकृष्ण आश्रम मार्ग stop (OK, the Ramakrishna Ashram Marg stop). I was a tad bit interested in the Rama Krishna Ashram which is near us, maybe we will get to it tomorrow, due to the popularity of the Krishna movement at the end of the 1960s in California. It was the hippie thing to be involved with though at that time I got involved with a different cult for a decade but I was aware of its hold on others. Those of you who are young enough to have experienced the 1960s would have seen this sect at airports and malls (even in Adelaide) around the world with devotees or pretend to be devotees chanting stuff, burning incense and handing out flowers. (The Vedanta Society of Southern California, with its headquarters in Hollywood, was founded in 1930 by Swami Prabhavananda). Incidentally, the New York Times (International Edition, which we collected in KL on the way to here) had a cover story about when the Beatles went to the TM ashram in Rishikesh and how it is being renovated. Not sure if we will get there. But back to our local subway stop. Groovy. Not far away. It is on the Blue line which we took for one stop to Rajiv Chowk, where we caught a train on the yellow line to the INA stop as we wanted to check out a hotel we had booked for when we came back through here in April. We immediately did not like the area, nothing beats our area with the narrow streets, startled looking cows, people trying to sell us tours, shops, chai carts, and the bustle of this older area. However, Narda did find a dress she liked and bought it so that was a fortunate stop in one of our worlds. Back on the yellow line we thought going to the end of the line would be good. Huda City Centre was sort of pronounceable which made it a logical destination. However, after a series of stops the train started going back and never made it to Huda. Wanting to persevere to our desired stop we crossed the track to continue our journey. It was then I spotted two signs of interest; this was of course, at the Saket stop, one sign advertised Garden of Five Senses and another a cinema. I told Narda that I wanted to go to the Garden of Five Senses, but feeling a ‘rolling of the eyes’ coming on I said and there is a cinema at this stop too and she was quite interested. Another extremely busy hustling part of Delhi where we got swarmed by tuk tuk drivers we just kept walking to who knows where? Realising our utter lostness, and seeing a park with a sign for the Garden of Five Senses we asked someone about the cinema and of course the garden. The person told us that the Garden of Five Senses was not worth the bother, pleasing all five senses of Narda, and that yes there was a cinema.

The only English movie playing was ‘The Darkest Hour’ which we have seen good reviews for and we paid the extra 25 rupees for the ‘premier’ seating (total 400 rupees for the two of us or six buck USD) believing we would get good seats. However, the seats were average and close together with little leg room, but we were in a balcony, so I suppose that was the extra we paid for. Movies in India begin with standing for the national anthem. The movie was good, however, there were several anti-smoking commercials at the start and throughout the whole movie in rather large letters at the bottom of the movie was a line about not smoking. The ironic thing was that Winston Churchill and lots of other people in the movie smoked the whole time. Half way through the movie there was an intermission that lasted about half an hour filled with ads, most of which were impossible to know what was being advertised.

And that pretty much was our day. we never made it to Huda City or the Garden of delights but getting back to our area around nine pm we had another great meal and that is it.

subway youtube of this 24 second clip

 

 

cruise

Cruise

Norwegian Getaway 70th birthday cruise

the video for this blog is at  (https://youtu.be/ZdShBQ21o20)

coming into Copenhagen

coming into Copenhagen

If you want a clear concise reading, read what is written in italics – which is from Narda’s blogs; if you want to sludge through my verbiage then read the rest too.
Day One 05 August Copenhagen

I have always been restless. We have always been restless. I can speak for Narda too. After twelve years living away from Australia and traveling a lot during that period we could have easily settled once back in Adelaide. Our first year back, 2015, we tried to nest, working on our new house in a trendy eco-friendly village but after having renovating three houses in the States each a hundred years old we realised new was not us and so we moved to Vista, half an hour further out from downtown, into an older place. We spent months gutting and re-doing our house and creating a home. We still were focused on going elsewhere. We got a caravan and did some exploring but that was not enough. Early 2016 we were back doing international stuff; Cambodia and Thailand, and by the end we were on a four-month trip, November 2016 – April 2017: the States, Holland, Cambodia. We got back to Adelaide and a few weeks later went out with the caravan and planning next trips. Now we are on this one past the mid-point of  2017 doing a cruise around the Baltic then six weeks in Ringkøbing, Denmark where we will live like a local though we no doubt will do trips within trips as we explore this part of our life. For me, this part of our life is me becoming a seventy-year-old. It seems just a few years ago I was wandering the States from age 16 – to my mid-thirties when I became an Australian-bound single parent and except for a few trips back to New York with my children in tow I did little travel. Then I met Narda and we have just been going, except for 2015, and going.

So, we got to Copenhagen in an alternative state. Not the type of alternative state that I existed in while traveling on many different levels back in the late 1960s and early 1970s but in the alternative state to being awake and feeling alive. After a few hours in Dubai wandering like zombies through the airport after little sleep on the fifteen-hour flight. The flight from Dubai to Copenhagen was better, we were on one of those new double decker setups and got a seat in the first row. It was originally for business class but now that the whole plane is economy there is no business section but the seats are more spread out and more comfortable. Our wonderful host, Erik and Bi Bi, met us at the airport, they had a sign with an Australian and a Denmark flag on it, but we were easily spotted and they got us to their flat in downtown Copenhagen which is our home at the start of our trip and for four days at the end. After our cruise, we have their home in Ringkøbing for six weeks and they have our home in Adelaide during that time.

August 4, Friday from Narda’s blog

Arrived in Dubai at 5.15am. Slept a few hours, maybe 4 or 5, which helped to break up the trip. The next plane we boarded was amazing. A double decker Airbus. We had 2 seats together on the upper level, seats 34a and B. They were really roomy and so we slept a bit more. The transit stop in Dubai was pretty difficult. We were really wiped out, and the airport was so crowed; we could hardly find seats anywhere.

We got into Copenhagen at 1pm and were met by Erik and his daughter Bibi. They were great. First we took the metro with them to their apartment, where we left our stuff. They showed us the iconic harbour of Copenhagen and we had a nice chat, walk and some drinks.

They left and we set out for dinner. We found a nice place nearby, near the sea, and waited for 45 minutes for a bowl of soup. The soup, when it finally came was yummy, but we were so tired by then, it was difficult. Still we hit the bed and slept. Both had a good night.

Leaving our stuff in our new flat Eric and Bi Bi gave us a tour of Copenhagen and then we found our way back via the metro to our flat by ourselves, becoming lost only a couple of times.

 

Amazing to us we were still upright at nine pm, having gone for a couple of days with a few hours of uncomfortable sleep somewhere between Adelaide and Copenhagen. That was our extended Friday which had more than thirty hours in it; such is international travel.

I often take photos of airlines I have never heard of and the first plane at Copenhagen Airport we saw was WOW airline, https://wowair.com/, Air Iceland – sounds like our kind of airline

We were up at 5:30. We have lost the ability to sleep. We dragged ourselves, muttering incoherently, to the nearest metro station and off at another station where we wandered aimlessly for way too long in search of Bus # 25 to get our sorry asses to the cruise port. We walked and walked, dragging all our crap with us. No one seemed to know where Bus # 25 did its thing. We even stopped a city bus and asked the driver who did not know. Of course, because we are now on our boat it is obvious we found someone to guide us to Bus #25. Not having done this cruise capper before we were amazed by the size of this boat, which we have been told not to call a boat because it is a ship. People are so thingy about stuff, aren’t they?

Seeing the ship for the first time was so amazing. Getting on was more amazing. In the Copenhagen Harbour, I took a zillion plus photos and images – see our video clip about this cruise – video here – https://youtu.be/ZdShBQ21o20

Check in time we were told was between noon and three with departure at five. We were checked in by 11:30 in our acting like little children just shaking with excitement. Our room was not ready so we ate and ate and then ate some more. Holy guacamole! I, we, have never seen such a large spread of so much good food. Like a city block worth of food. This was the Garden Buffet Café or some such name. Exercise is good. We walk around the buffet. We did go to the gym too and stretched and lifted a bit then went and ate some more. There were hundreds of dishes to choose from – and we did; except for meat stuff I tried it all, Narda tried the meats and reported back, yum.

We went to a life-boat/what happens if we sink, type of drill at six pm. There were lots of announcements in lots of languages and when the alarms sounded we slowly made our way to where our section of 3500+ passengers were lounging about. People were not too serious, of course the crew were – and they were a bit annoyed at us for not paying attention. Several children, and being school holidays – the place had an infestation of them, were chatting and laughing and rolling about as children do; but our mindful Narda went over to them and in her best school-teacher fashion brought them to heel. A couple gave her a bit of a stink eye but at the end she went over to them and thanked them for behaving. Once a teacher – is there a continuation of that line?

We attended the evening’s orientation which highlighted various performances for the next nine days. We figured maybe we would see one, two at the most. By the end of the trip we had seen them all. Then we went back to the buffet and ate heaps more and managed to get back our room about ten-pm. We love our room with a balcony, sofa, desk, bathroom and of course a comfy bed.

August 5, Saturday

Woke up early, but feeling pretty good. We managed to put together a breakfast, continental style, a couple of rolls, some yogurt, and a glass of Berocca. Then we headed for the local grocery and marvelled at the stuff….all good. Our credit card was not accepted, luckily we had some Euros which they took.

Then off to the cruise terminal. Again our credit card was declined; annoying. Still we got ourselves from the metro, then onto bus number 25, and arrived at the port.  Beautiful ship. The Norwegian Getaway. Fantastic. We have spent a lot of time today at the buffet, the food is amazing. And our room is lovely too. I think we won’t want to leave here!!!!! Bloody nice life!

Day Two. Sunday, 06 August, Warnemunde, Germany

Day Two. Sunday, 06 August, Warnemunde, Germany

Warnemunde

Warnemunde

August 6, Sunday

OK, talk about a weird day. We woke at 5.30, at least Terrell woke and woke me up. Daylight of course, as we are in the higher latitudes. So we are sitting on the balcony taking photos (he is) of dark seas, misty horizons and the occasional ferry. The we had breakfast number 1. Bacon and eggs for me. Then back to the cabin for a shower, watched our ship come into Rostock, Germany.

It was very interesting watching the manoeuvres of two other cruise ships who came after us. They had to go right into the port to find room to make a 360 turn, and then head back to park. They all seem to be equipped with side parking thrusts. (been handy in a car).

Then back to the Garden Buffet for breakfast number 2. This time some bread and cheese and salmon mousse. It’s exhausting, all this eating, so we went back to the cabin for a nap. I slept 3 hours. Bit jet lagged I guess. Another meal and now I’m writing this.

Narda pointing the way to our room on the fourteenth floor. We are now on the 15th floor where the Garden Cafe Buffet is.

Narda pointing the way to our room on the fourteenth floor. We are now on the 15th floor where the Garden Cafe Buffet is.

I think I can become addicted to cruising. Wasn’t sure, but now I am. It’s a lovely life. Last night we watched the ‘Duelling pianos” Two guys singing all the songs everyone knows. Really well done. Both guys played really well and one especially had an amazing voice. The average age of the audience was about 72+ but an enthusiastic group.

We were up early, probably about 5:30 am and went on to the balcony. It was a bright sunny day already. Our room has blackout curtains making sleep easy unless one is too excited to sleep. We were soon at the buffet; our go to place for incredible comfort. Then back to our room for a lay down so we could wake up in real time. Today is a ‘sea day’ meaning there is no port stop from when we left Copenhagen last night until we get to our next port, Germany, tomorrow.

Wow, Narda is snoring, three hours after laying down for a mid-morning nap, she must have been tired.

So here I am writing in our dark cabin. The curtains are closed blocking out all light because Narda is asleep. She has been asleep since 9:30 this morning and it is now 12:15. I slept from 9:30 until 10:30 then I was anxious to play in Photoshop with photos we took last night. Our sleep patterns are all over the shop. Three days ago was the flight from Adelaide to Dubai. Twelve hours with Dubai arrival being at 5 am. Wow were we feeling under slept. Hey folks, I am old, I need blocks of comfortable sleep. Not to worry soon we were on a double decker plane to Copenhagen. More leg room and just a great new plane with Emirates.  The flight was only six-hours. There was confusion due to the fact I was not getting my vegetarian meals. We ordered it months ago. We have not had this happen since we left Australia in 2002 to take on the States. And I did not have this happen for the decades before. Of course, I let everyone know this and the wonderful cabin crew rushed around trying to please me. Of course, this is natural; I am a Leo, I was adopted; Narda suggested I could take it easy on one of my attention-seeking behavours but that is just nonsense. I was well served and I was assured this would not happen again as they put in for our return flights to Australia in a couple of months that I was this old, needy, special, dude. What I liked especially was their music selection which was good as we did not find any movies worth watching. They had all these albums of the 1960s and early 1970s. I fell to sleep at some point listening to Janis Joplin and got caught up with all the Dylan albums I had not heard for weeks. My friend Daniel complained once late 1970s that I was stuck in the 1960s and it was time for me to progress. I still don’t know what he meant.

Having a long morning nap and a second or was it a third? breakfast, extended our day. Like having two days in one.

We spent the rest of the day wandering around the ship. We even played a game of shuffle board; Narda had never heard of it and I played once at some Bible Camp my parents would send me, kicking and screaming, to each summer when I was staggering through adolescents in the Catskills. It was an exciting game and after many attempts we each got a thingy on a seven so we decided never to play again as we had tied. There is so much to do. I did go swimming for a few minutes. The pool was good. I wanted to sit in the spa but they had a sign warning people with cardiac trips (like an implanted defibrillator/pacemaker), diabetes, and a couple of other things I share with the infirmed – Narda was strongly opposed to me going in, so I didn’t. I thought of sneaking out and going in but our overpriced insurance would not cover me if I had ‘an incident’. Stuff them all I still enjoy myself. We both went to the fitness area and tossed about some weights. I went most days but my sidekick went just this first day. There is a large casino area which we gave a miss to. It seems such a waste of time to give more money to this company, sitting in front of a pokie like an idiot waiting for a possible coin to fall when some several childish characters line up on the machine. But people do. And they have the roulette tables with more people doing that instead of eating at the buffet or looking at the world outside passing by.

By four pm we thought we should go for a walk. Not having any idea what the procedure was and not signing up for any tours today we found our way to gangplank shuffled off and to our delight discovered there was nothing to it. We could just walk out into the street. Because we had already gone through customs in Denmark, only Russia required us to go through passport control of the several cities we would stop at. I bought a fridge magnet and we walked around the town.

Warnemunde Harbour

Warnemunde Harbour

As there was a safety drill at six pm, and we had already suffered through one, we walked for a couple of hours before hunger got the best of us and we were back in the buffet line.

Warnemunde Harbour sand sculpture

Warnemunde Harbour sand sculpture

In the evening; already forgot what we did for the afternoon, this is what we call retirement, we gave the buffet a miss with the thought that eating in a restaurant environment would give us a more adventurous feeling to ourselves. The buffet is our comfort zone and they say to challenge yourself by doing something different. We went to the Tropicana where there was a Jamaica like trio of dudes doing the golden oldies routine with a few recent songs such as ‘YMCA’ tossed in. White tablecloth, waiters, the whole shebang. I got some veggie pasta thingy and Narda lasagne with dead cow. The food was not as good as the buffet and I am not used to having someone fuss over us, obviously for tips, but it is a complimentary restaurant for our cruise so outside of 18% on Narda’s overprice glass of wine it was a cheap date. What amused me was seeing a lot of children; like about 5 – 11 years old, dancing to the ‘YMCA’ song and singing along and doing the hand motions. I wondered if they knew it was a song about men picking up men in Greenwich Village, NYC, at the Y (Young Men’s Christian Association) for sex. If I see them again I suppose it is my duty to inform them so.

I also am amused at the buffet counter(s) watching children choose what to eat. I find it amazing that the common fare for adolescents, with hundreds of things to choose from is hotdog and chips. No matter the nationality. I watched in parental horror a Japanese, maybe 18 years old, alternating between a mouth full of ice cream and chips. He had an ice cream cone in one hand and every other bite was a handful of chips. Another favourite was watching a nine or so year old in front of a large cake with a lot of icing, he had already had a slice of pizza on his plate. He would set down his pizza, look around, look at the cake, then pick up his plate of pizza. Finally, he quickly ate his slice of pizza then took a rather enormous slice of cake. We figured his mother probably said he had to eat his meal before dessert. The child was already considerably over weight. No doubt someone looking at his would remark that we spend a lot of time cruising the food – and rapidly going back for more. In our defense I will say, we take small amounts each time. For me this is all quite a challenge. For two years I have been on a strict diet of low carb crap to curtail my diabetes so I can carry less medication with me as it takes up too much room in our suitcase. Then add the vegetarian caper (fifty or so years of) and I have a rather bland diet. Can you believe I even brought enough dry kale and protein powder for two months? And I brought a container of my special low-carb cookies and bread I made a few weeks ago. I need to eat some of it or I will have to give the bread and cookies the toss in a few days or they will have some white and green growth on them. (I did finally give them a toss – not over board but in the trash as they did turn green and white) Bottom line, I have ‘sampled’ the mac and cheese (in the past my favourite food in the world), the corn and cheese thingy, one slice of German fudge cake, and a few things I have stayed clear of for years; more than once. Today or early tomorrow, perhaps soon after, I will work back toward the low carb diet. Narda is fine. She will eat anything if it is dead. She can have the wine and beer too. I don’t even drink alcohol but that is due to a shot liver from too many years of too much good time and not enough constraint time.

There are ‘professional photographers’ roaming all over. Always wanting to take people’s photos in front of a green screen – hey I do that at home, and I have a new camera (Nikon D7500) so I am not interested but they sure ask a lot.  [The camera was from Narda for my birthday, oh so was the cruise – can’t wait to see what she will get me if get to 71]. However, we found machine that took a photo for free and we could Facebook or email it so this was the result. This is a real money making boat – but we managed not to spend any more than what we have for whatever free money we got for signing on to this cruise. We didn’t even have to pay the 18% tip. We had $350 to spend and we spent it on Narda’s daily wine at $10 a shot, some laundry as Narda was tired of doing ‘the smalls’ in the toilet basin; something about it not being classy. What? Saving money is classy to me. Then there was my birthday meal in a ‘specialty restaurant’, a couple of not-included for free Broadway performances and I got a fridge magnet. The only other expense was Narda’s new watch – well that put us way over budget, but hey, we are on holiday. She is very happy with her new watch so be sure to notice it when you see her.

We have been doing the free shows but are signing up for some comedy wine show where they provide wine – how embarrassing I will ask for soda water at a wine show. One free show we watched was ‘duelling pianos’. They were quite good and people put in requests. I asked for ‘She belongs to me’ by Dylan, never did hear the song. They seemed to like songs by Elton John and the like.

dueling pianos

dueling pianos

We set sail at ten pm. Heaps of people lined the shore waving and yelling so lots of people, including Narda, yelled and waved back. I am not sure whether the town was happy to see us leave or wanted everyone to return and spend money. I had bought a fridge magnet so no doubt that is what everyone on shore was so excited about.

August 7, Monday

Today we are at sea all day. This morning we took a walk around the ship for some ‘exercise’. Met some girls our age, one of them was our neighbour. They are very interested in a house exchange. Who knows! Last night we took a walk around Warnemunde. Lovely little town, the port of Berlin.

Day Three – 7 August Monday – At Sea – we think

We did our walk like we do back at home though there were no kangaroos along the way but walking around the boat is good fun. Of course, we made a few detours to the Garden Café Buffet before getting to the jogging track which with eight laps the sign says equals a mile. OK we made it to five and tomorrow we plan to walk before eating.

Lunch was some to-do at a Spanish Restaurant Buffet – which was kind of alright but not as good as our blocks of regular food buffet. Now I am at the main outdoor entertainment area where there was a soul-rock band and now some loud mouth DJ doing dance contests or some crazy thing with folks. I found a sheltered place to write, play in Photoshop, and Narda is in the midst of people cheering and stuff. She said it was a ‘hairy-leg for dudes contest’. See photo below.

It is a lively area with the swimming pool, main stage, and today being a sea day; we left last night at ten and get to Tallinn tomorrow morning, everyone is just everywhere. We spoke to our boat-neighbour who we ran into on our walk this morning about house exchanges. They are from England and I think one of them has a house in Spain so we are hoping we can get some more home exchanges on this trip. We have one for Berlin next September and need a couple more of a month each to make flying to this area worthwhile. This is what retirement is about; forgetting what happened the day before and planning for the next trip. Saying that I remember what we did yesterday afternoon, we went into Warnemünde for a wander. A nice seaside town. A lot of people had gone for a tour to Berlin and other German like towns but we wanted to immerse ourselves into the cruise experience, sleep and eat, and we did not think we could just walk off the boat whenever we wanted to. But by five pm we were a tad bit bored and wanted to go out. It was all very easy, just showed our room card and went for a couple of hours walk. There were two other large ships behind us and hoped the people aboard were not envious of our larger and newer vessel.

Day Four, Tuesday about August 8 or so, Tallinn, Estonia

Not sure what we were going to do; book a tour, take a hop-on-hop-off bus, or walk to town. After another lengthy lots of food brekkie – though I kind of did a diet compliant almost with egg over avocado over toast with a lot of hollandaise sauce – I didn’t eat the high carb toast – and fruit and some muesli. We made the decision to walk into town which we were told was only about twenty-minutes. Narda had a bit of a sore foot so we did toy with the hop-on-hop-off bus parked at the end of the pier but we didn’t. Then right away we saw the bike-rental shop and we were home and hosed. The bikes were great and not expensive; we paid nine euros each at the end for four hours.

August 8, Tuesday

Tallinn Old Town

Tallinn Old Town

Today a wonderful day in Tallinn. We rent a couple of great bikes, and headed off on our own.

All the cruise people went to the old town, but we decided to check out a residential area to the right of the old part. We found a great little local coffee shop and sat outside drinking coffee (2 cups for EU3) The we worked our way back to the Old Town, which is surrounded by a very old thick wall.

Day Four, Tuesday about August 8 or so, Tallinn, Estonia

It’s just a beautiful cobbled city. We stepped into a lovely little chapel, and then rode on to the market square. There was a funny incident there. We saw a few young lads looking for customers on the rickshaws. Then suddenly they high tailed it, at a dangerous speed out of the market square. We tut tutted them ‘how dangerous’, and the girls standing in front of one of the restaurants said they are running away from the police. And sure enough, a couple of cops in a car came cruising through the square. They didn’t see any problems and continued on their way. A few minutes later the boys reappeared and continued their soliciting. It happened twice. So funny.

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

We got a map and were off, riding past all the people lined up at the buses for their tours so they could obediently follow the guide with their umbrella or sign in the air. Some were walking into town, others were lined up at the hop-on-hop-off bus. We proudly rode past them all. We decided not to go to the old town right away but went off into the burbs to live like a local. Stopping at a local wonderful café for coffee for only a euro and a half we enjoyed the beginning of a wonderful day we would be having. There was barely a cloud in the sky at about 19 degrees centigrade. The only thing that separated us from the locals was we had no idea what they were saying in their Estonia-speak and we were drawing lines on our tourist map of all the places we would go. We did not look at the map again for the day so that was a bit of waste though fun planning. Tallinn is quite flat so riding around is easy. People seemed friendly or amused by us – difficult to tell whether people are smiling because they think we are cool or because we are some daft tourists.  Nevertheless, we managed to negotiate the place and not get run over. We found our way into the walled town and like all European cities it was old and cool. Built in the 1200s.

According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tallinn), Tallinn was first mentioned in 1219, received city rights in 1248, but the earliest human settlements date back 5,000 years. The initial claim over the land was laid by the Danes in 1219. Tallinn’s Old Town is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe.

After taking lots of photos and looking inside (free) churches which we were figured were as trendy as the expensive tourist ones we found a fantastic café. The tofu stack in the front is mine the smoking gelato marzipan apple crumble Tallinn style is Narda’s. https://revalcafe.ee/ Reval Café.

Later we stopped at a really lovely café for ‘lunch’. Mine was apple pie and cream, (I did order what Terrell described, but this is what I got)…… but on a plate of dry ice. Smoking everywhere.

Reval Café in Tallinn

Reval Café in Tallinn

After dinner we saw a great show “Burn the floor”. A troupe of 12 dancers, a singer and to drummers  with a Latin style dance routine. High energy and really skilled. Great fun.

We got back to the boat at 3:30 pm, found the food buffet place; hard to miss, it covers a large area of the fifteenth floor, and lucky us we are on the fourteenth floor so it is not much of a journey to the food trough. We have decided to do all the shows, most of which are free, and tonight’s was ‘Burn the Floor’. It was a full Broadway dance musical. Amazing to us. The only down side was we were told not to take pics. OK I snuck in a few. There were sixteen or so dancers. Really amazing. We read their profiles after the show and everyone was some variation of a national or world champion dancer at some point. I believe they were in their twenties. How else could they have so much constant energy and be so athletic? And their skimpy outfits. Wow, where we ever like that? Back to the gym for me. Actually, I have been the gym a couple of days so far, but my body is not quite on par with twenty-year-old professional dancers. Tomorrow I will be 70, I suppose that is an excuse. That and the buffet line and other restaurants dotted around the place. See our video of the tour for their performance on the last night of the tour – toward the end of our video if you get weary watching.

“Burn the floor”

“Burn the floor”

My big goal for today was not to eat mac and cheese and not to take any more sunset pictures. I managed not to eat any mac and cheese so that was a proud moment in my low-carb struggle on a ship with so much wonderful food. I caved when it came to the sunset pictures and though I limited myself to only a few dozen I knew I was on my way to a reduction of my sunset picture obsession(s).

OK one more – of hundreds – oh and I have videos too (of sunsets) and of course time delay

Day Five, Thursday, 9th of August. One day to go to being 70; St. Petersburg, Russia – Day 1

All those times I thought I won’t make it to 70. I used to believe I would never get to thirty. I was pushing the boundaries of what my body could ingest back in the 1970s and I thought well if I make it to 30 that would be an achievement. Yesterday I had a moment in the afternoon while eating when I felt faint and I thought I was going to have a heart problem and we returned to our room. Narda was taking my pulse and saying we should go down to the emergency room but after half an hour I seemed to start feeling whatever feeling normal for an old person is.

I was up at 6 something this morning, Narda was trying the sleeping in routine but my phone alarm went off with Dylan’s ‘Tangled Up in Blue‘, at seven so we dragged our sorry asses down to brekky and off the boat by 7:30. Low and behold there was a glitch in the Russian Immigration computer system, who would believe that? Oops, no photos; that is just so unfair, me, a Yank, first time in Russia and they’re trying to say not to take pics. Well stuff them, I took heaps. Videos too. Sorry – couldn’t resist embedding us into the door. The rest is real news though and an actual photo taken in a restricted zone – whoopee.

And it took us two hours to get through to our waiting tour guide who told us she had been waiting, and that all the rest were already on the bus. She was the archetype Russian keeping us in line all day. She reminded us a few times that the most important rule was to follow the rules. We were marched through Catherine’s shack,

 

 

Palace of Catherine

Palace of Catherine

some palace park fountain thingy,

Peterhof Fountains - The most famous ensemble of fountains, the Grand Cascade, which runs from the northern facade of the Grand Palace to the Marine Canal, comprises 64 different fountains, and over 200 bronze statues, bas-reliefs, and other decorations.

Peterhof Fountains – The most famous ensemble of fountains, the Grand Cascade, which runs from the northern facade of the Grand Palace to the Marine Canal, comprises 64 different fountains, and over 200 bronze statues, bas-reliefs, and other decorations.

rushed through lunch and I have already forgotten the day, except for the metro ride which was the only non-tourist, live-like-a-local thing we did. There is a good segment of this on our video at https://youtu.be/ZdShBQ21o20

Narda tried to stage a coup – by getting several passengers together to say we wanted a longer lunch period but at the end of the day we got rushed through everything.

August 9, Wednesday

Today, St Petersburg. We left early, got stuck in a passport queue for an hour and a half (some computer malfunction!) and embarked on a fairly intense sightseeing tour of the tourist attractions of St Petersburg. First the Palace of Catherine. Lot of rooms with gold gilt, and mirrors and art.

Many tourists there, so there was quite a bit of waiting in lines, but definitely worth a look. After that we went to Peterhof, and ornate garden with fountains, canals and lovely gardens. We had lunch at this bus place, bought a couple of salads ($5 ea) and a beer ($3).  No too bad. Later in the day we rode the Metro. Beautiful subway station, lots of decoration and art. Enjoyed this very much.

Tonight we had a shower, ate a nice buffet meal, and now we’re just chillin. It’s 8pm, and I’m ready for bed. Finished “Mosquito Coast’ by Paul Theroux, last night. Hard act to follow!

We were happy to be back in the buffet. After dinner, we roamed about. This ship is so large. There is a library though usually full, lots of areas to hangout in, plus the whole upper deck, half of which is for children so we avoid that area. We did not engage in any of the many activities such as ‘movie scores music trivia’, ‘country line dancing’, ‘Latin Rhythms with their DJ’, the video concerts shown on their big screen, and many other game, dances, music stuff. It is fun just to wander about and soak up the atmosphere. Being an American ship (the Norwegian part seems to be the company or driver, not sure how that works out) it was more American than European I think though of course there were people from everywhere. This was the first time this ship had done the Baltic area, usually hanging out in Florida. The entertainment was predominantly American. We loved to sit on our balcony and watch the evening sea.

Day 6, Thursday 10th – I am 70 – St. Petersburg, Russia – Day 2

Wow! Woke up this morning in Russia, day 2. That was the backdrop. 70-years old today. So what? Heaps of people, and some animals do that. But in my little self-centred world, what a thing. The 60’s was my favourite decade – the 1960s. Amazed I survived that, never thought I would make it to 20, then 30, surely not to 40. My son, Leigh only got to 20 before ending his. Perhaps my own 60s was my best. Who knows? Bottom line; I made it thus far. Still got most of my hair and only a bit has turned grey. I have shit wrong with me but that is normal, I think (heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, stuff like that), but damn don’t I feel great. Maybe not drinking any alcohol since 2005, no drugs since the 1970s, no cigarettes, going to the gym for decades, walking heaps, getting rid of the hep C virus – thanks to the wonders of new drugs, my stents (5), implant, low carb diet for past two years (well we strayed from that on this cruise a bit), no sugar (strayed a bit from that one too), good thoughts and all, and of course the one that makes me glow and still young(ish), Narda. Have I found a way to slow down the aging progress or will it hit me next week?

When we got back after our run amok through Russia there was a birthday cupcake and a card for me. How cool is that? They were not sure what language I spoke so they listed heaps. Lucky gibberish was not on the list.

Today, we did the St. Petersburg Day Two tour crawl. Back to that in a moment because we were talking about me. I am a Leo. I was adopted. I had a bit of a rough trot for the first couple of decades, and later as a single parent but that is all so far behind – though I retained the attention behaviour one does being a Leo and being adopted. The dozen people on our tour wished me happy stuff, even sang to me in Russian, Spanish, and Chinese. And Narda’s grandchildren, age 3 and 5 sang to me on Facebook. In the evening we went out to dinner on the boat to an Italian restaurant. It was our first pay-to-eat dinner. There are several white-table-cloth waiter serviced complimentary places and of course the buffet that is so superb but we actually booked the Italian one and it cost us some sixty bucks but hey, it was my birthday. I had a card in our room signed by the captain – I believe it was a true signature and not a printed one; a birthday cupcake in my room and at dinner we were given a birthday cake and the wine too. Of course, I didn’t drink the wine but Narda did. Drinks are expensive. A beer or a small glass with a bit of wine in it is ten dollars. So we saved about twenty bucks because we didn’t pay for the dessert either. I did eat quite a big chunk and I am sure my body will forgive me in a few days. The Indian waiter offered to sing me happy birthday but I said we were OK. In the evening we saw some singer from the UK, Rob Acre-something. I guess for those into that kind of singing it was OK. He was good – did Stevie Wonder songs and rambled on about his own self a bit, kind of boring.

I made a little clip (two minutes) of the Russian tour guide singing happy birthday to me in Russian, The New Jersey family in Spanish, and a Chinese family in whatever they sing in and Narda’s grandchildren sent me a clip on Facebook which was the best of all. https://yo utu.be/odkR5yaIGBM My son, Sacha, said he made a clip too – but I haven’t seen it yet. Hey Sacha where is it?

St. Petersburg – I will grab Narda’s notes, as they will be better than mine. I was too busy turning seventy and being in awe of the fact I got this far in life.

August 10, Thursday from Narda’s blog…        

Today Terrell turns 70!!!

Second day of our tour in St Petersburg. We started the day with a canal tour for an hour.

We booked a nice meal at the Italian Restaurant in the ship. They brought us a small cake, a card form the captain, and then another cake at the end of the meal, and a free glass of wine. All very pleasant. A nice waiter from Mumbai! Then strolled on to the centre area, and watched the small band play rock and roll; we even did a little dancing!

We took a boat road during the day – there is more in the video – I forgot to put it above for today but here is a photo of that boat ride,

By this time, the Russian guide was getting pretty irritating. She talked nonstop about the 18th century history of the czars, interacted very little with us, threatened that we would lose our lunch break if we strayed from the group or caused it to run late in any way. The afternoon at the Hermitage Museum was exhausting, though incredibly beautiful.

On the trip we met a nice couple from Jersey. The guy, Alfredo, would be independent and got lost, or ran late a number of times. The Russian guide was very frustrated with him. I told her that she would always remember this tour group as the “Where is Alfredo” tour. She actually laughed.

Two hours trailing this woman was too much. Actually had to wear these head pieces, she had a microphone, so she could call us back to heal anytime. Blimey! The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is another amazing church, full of spectacular walls and art work.

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

My impressions, to be brief; would love to have spent more time here. Would have loved to have gotten away from our guide – she made me a bit funny in the head. If someone was into history and religion and art the tour would have been good. I had no idea what she was on about most of the time. She took for granted we knew stuff like she would say, ‘as you would remember about Catherine…. As you would recall about St. Paul…. As I told you earlier about Alexander… Really, she thought we knew shit. None of us did. We all just wanted to take photos and wander around and see how ordinary people lived. The palaces and cathedrals were amazing but we didn’t need to know every grubby detail about every painting, every Russian hero. She surely did not speak well of Germans – I suppose because they dropped a few bombs here and there. She was a real commie, often injecting in her own world view and telling us how much better Russia was before it fell to pieces. Narda asked her some questions about life before the fall of the Soviet Union and she said life was easier then; they all had free education and medical,  that now there is much more distance between the rich and the poor. Interesting.

And we walked and walked. Way too often, she would say, ‘you have three minutes to take pictures then we have to go, we are behind schedule’. The Jersey family really annoyed her because they would wander off and we would spend time looking for them. I have taken so many photos and so has Narda. We will try to make albums of specifics as they are worth looking at.  St. Petersburg looks like a really cool place and one to be left alone in though I believe there are a lot of steps to go through to do that.

Day 7 Friday 11th – Helsinki, Finland

Walked around

Today we are in Helsinki.

An anti-tour day! Set out with no plans. The best way. After waiting for a little time at the tram stop, we changed our minds and walked into town. We hung about at a pleasant flea market, had a coffee and then continued our walk. Bought some floor and 96c beer at the Aldi down the road, and caught the tram back to the harbour.

Upon our return we tried to take a nap, but I finished up reading for a while. Terrell went off to the gym and a swim, and then we headed to our dinner show, which was a dinner and a show, “Cirque Dreams and Steam”. The dinner was great, really good food. We sat at a table with an English couple who lived ½ year in Spain, and a young German couple. The show was great too, speccie circus stuff with unusual costuming.

This cruising suits us. It is just so relaxing and fun. We do whatever we feel like, when we feel like it. Fantastic.

As Narda mentioned above we went to see “Cirque Dreams and Steam”. A fantastic show. There is some of this performance in our video of this cruise. https://goo.gl/5V1q9i.  We were told not to take videos so I took 8 pictures per second which the Nikon D7500 we bought for this trip does. I recorded some of their music too but no one saw that so don’t tell on me.

Here are a few images of hundreds:

Cirque Dreams and Steam

Cirque Dreams and Steam

Day 8, Saturday, 12, August, Stockholm, Sweden

Here we are in Stockholm. The approach to the city is a long sail though many islands.

entrance to Stockholm

entrance to Stockholm

We arrived in Stockholm about an hour late, so tours were thrown in a bit of a tizzy. We were held in the theatre for a time, so that they could dismiss us in an orderly fashion. After waiting too long we gave up and went outside, and hopped straight onto the Hop on Hop off bus. It took us to the old town first where we got off and walked down a lovely narrow street, full of tourists.

We enjoyed a coffee and learned our first Swedish word “tuk” which means thankyou. Don’t know about the spelling J The we walked to a nice market area where there was a Korean Festival. Back on the Hop on Hop off bus, where despite assurances to the contrary, our round the city loop took 2 ½ hours! Making us latish…to get back on board. Panic. We got off the bus thinking a quicker way was in the other direction, but it was not so. Finally we boarded the green line hop on Hop off bus, the conductor was an Aussie who kindly told us “we’ll get you there”. It turned out that this double decker bus, a two story one, was making the run to the ship, with us and 3 young girls as a mercy dash. The driver, a Swede, was so sweet, and reassured us that we were going straight there, no stops. He exceeded the speed limits and actually ran a red light. We have him our remaining Kroners in gratitude. A nail biting ride. We will not do this again.

So back on board, all relaxed again, we ate a decent meal and I slept for an hour and a bit. The evening show was amazing, the best yet! It was the story, with lots of great live music, of the owner of Sun records, who is credited to be the ‘father of rock and roll’ and in the 50’s hosted Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, some other guys and Jerry Lee Lewis. They were actually in his studio recording all together. Great story and such great playing/music.

We were up and on the balcony taking photos – well I was, at six am. Then breakfast while watching the many islands going into Stockholm. We were herded into the large Gateway Theatre to find out when our hop-on-hop off bus would deliver us to a day of excitement and wonderment. OK we got into port an hour later than planned, then we had to wait for buses. The theatre was full and no one wanted to wait. Narda thought she had insider information as someone told her that the first rows would go to the first buses – I thought we should sit in the last rows as they were closest to the door. Much to our low-waiting skills they chose the back rows first to go to the hop-on-hop-off bus. After a long wait we stood up and went outside. The announcer in the front who was trying to keep us all in control said we should stay inside until our row was called as it was running outside. We were soon off the boat and the rain was actually a few drops. Lucky we did as the hop-on-hop-off bus was there and by the time it filled there was a huge line waiting for another one to arrive. As Narda often points out we should never follow the crowd and once again we were on our way looking at those who were not.

The bus, we were told, would take an hour and a half to make the run through Stockholm, which would get us back before noon, long before the four-pm departure of little boat. We got off in the old town quarters and walked a few blocks of tourist infested streets, settling in for coffee in a groovy, narrow, street. After walking a bit more we thought it was time to get back on a bus and be early back on the boat. After more than an hour, and feeling quite lost, we asked which way to get back the quickest and the non-English speaking driver indicated we should stay on the bus and in 45-minutes we would be to our home, this would get us there at about one pm – cutting our time a bit short. After more than an hour we felt we were going the wrong direction and asking one of the people collecting money on the bus how to get back quicker she said we should get off and go to another stop and get the bus. We even followed her off the bus and rushed to the stop she pointed out. We asked again at the bus stop and were told we were at the wrong stop. It was now after two and we were to be on the boat by three for a four-pm departure. Someone told us it would take two hours – which means our home would be sailing the high seas before we got there. The traffic was intense as any downtown in a major city would be in the afternoon. We tried to get a taxi and there were none. Being in a full-on panic mode we started jogging back to where we got off the bus. When we saw a hop-on-hop-off bus that was red, the same colour as ours; there are two companies in Stockholm doing this and we were told one was ours and the other a different company that we could not ride with, we ran the last two blocks – even crossing a busy road, not at a pedestrian crossing. There were only four people on the bus and we saw it was the wrong bus company but in one of those divine-heroic moments someone said we could get on that bus and it would take us to our dock. We think he sounded Australian – he told the driver in Danish to take us. By now it was 2:40, we were in the centre of town, the dock we wanted seemed forever away, and we were both sweating and quite upset. If you do not return in time for a departure cruise ships leave and it is the passenger’s responsibility to find their way to the next port, which for us was Copenhagen, meaning we would miss out on a whole day at sea. When the bus was on the way Narda went to the driver to confirm we were headed to our dock and he said not to worry we would get there in time. The four girls on the bus were also going to the same boat – OK, ship, and told us that they too were in a panic and that they tried to get onto the hop-on-hop-off bus earlier but it was full and they saw this one and could get on. To end this story, which writing this now a couple of days later, I still feel surges of panic about, the bus did not stop for anyone and drove us straight to the ship which we got to at three, we realised we had until 3:30 but still, when being stuck in the centre of a major city in a traffic jam and being told it would take two hours to get to where we needed to be in one hour is not a good feeling. By the time we got aboard, and sitting in the Garden Café, with plates full of carbs we were still a bit shaky but happy as the ship began to sail out of Stockholm Harbour with us once again stuffing our faces with food. We have not much to say that would be good about the red hop-on-hop-off bus; their WIFI did not work, they got us lost – but the green hop-on-hop-off bus saved our sorry asses for sure – and they had WIFI, which meant I could separate myself from our panic and post photos of us on several social places, giving our family and friends (all five of them) the sense that life was going great for us. The driver even had to call ahead and say we were going into the other buses spaces so to deliver us. If we had not been given this bus ride we would have to had stay in Stockholm, which most people would think was fine, and fly to Copenhagen. OK so no one would feel sorry for us. But we did.

What a great evening. Sailing – sitting on our balcony; the ability to change clothes, which we would have not had if the ship had sailed without us and with all our possessions – and of course having my laptop, the ability to sooth my shredded nerves with Photoshop, and being full and prepared to attend the evening’s performance we were signed up for; ‘The Million Dollar Quartet’.  ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ is a recording of an impromptu jam session involving Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash made on December 4, 1956, at the Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. The person playing Jerry Lee Lewis was great and hilarious as well as musically amazing, as were the other three musicians. See https://youtu.be/vKpg3PkGlZs for the original video of this moment in history.

We sat on our balcony after that watching the sun set and feeling happy to be where we were.

Day 9, Sunday 13th @ Sea

Our last day of the course was at sea, from Stockholm to Copenhagen. We got caught up with some computer stuff, I read for a while. At 12.30 we saw “Wine lovers, the musical” where we had a nice lunch and 6 glasses of wine to taste. It was nice. I sat next to a single girl from Atlanta named Megan. In the afternoon I packed the 2 main suitcases. Dinner at the Garden Café, then watched the Finale show in the main theatre, which was great.

And there I am at a wine lovers bash and I don’t drink wine. Also, the appetizer and the main course are parts of animal carcasses. I wanted to say I am on a low-carb diet, no sugar, and could you please be sure my food is organic, but I didn’t; don’t want to sound strange. I did say no wine for me and no meat and no sugar. I am sure there was some eye-rolling going on but I didn’t look.  It was a bit of a funny and an entertaining show.

Wine lovers the musical

Wine lovers the musical

Day 10, Monday 14th and all over – Copenhagen to Ringkøbing Denmark

Ringkøbing is a town in Ringkøbing-Skjern municipality in Region Midtjylland on the west coast of the Jutland peninsula in west Denmark. It has a population of 9,717.

August 14, Monday

Ringkobing

We left the ship at 8.30, it was all really efficient and orderly. Picked up our suitcase, and were then met by Erik and Bente, who generously drove us around Copenhagen. We saw the Royal Palace and some other beautiful buildings, which we will return to at the end of the trip. Had a coffee with them at the beach, then started our long drive to Ringkobing. It was actually quite easy. A great car, a Citroen van, easy to drive, and the roads are pretty much all freeways. We arrived there at about 3pm.

More stuff: http://neuage.org/e-books/new_for_2017addphotos.htm And my textual imagery is at several sites as I do them: https://www.flickr.com/photos/neuage/ ~ https://youpic.com/photographer/neuage/ ~ https://twitter.com/neuage ~ https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/E_6JaB and of course on my twitter page: https://twitter.com/neuage And other stuff I do (such as video stories for children and maybe grownups) is at http://neuage.org As every breath is a creative moment, the possible start of a new universe, I only reproduce a few – the rest of my creative breathing time is filled with travel, study (always learning something), Narda, and sleep.

 

 

got to tell ya about this

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yesterday perhaps before