Will You Choose to Cruise?

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Cruising in happier days.

Photos courtesy of Viking Cruise Lines

Four months ago, I wrote a travel article that began like this –

32 million people can’t be wrong. That’s the number of travelers who booked cruise vacations in 2019.  Statistics show this figure has increased 7% annually since 2007, and it’s not hard to see why. Life on a cruise ship is about as good as it gets . . .

How times have changed.  In January we were blissfully unaware of what was coming and completely unprepared. Well, to be perfectly honest the cruise ship industry probably had a clue. They’ve been quietly dealing with onboard epidemics for a while now, think Legionnaires Disease, and gastrointestinal bugs like Norovirus, Salmonella, and Shigella, any of which can wreak havoc in a cruise environment.

For the most part, these isolated incidents flew under the radar and die-hard cruisers like myself turned a blind eye to the warning signs. It won’t happen to me, right?  Wrong. Now the problems are impossible to ignore. It’s absolutely nobody’s dream to be stuck in a floating piece of jetsam that bounces from port to port unloved and unwanted. The very thought of being quarantined to the tiny windowless room we usually book gives me claustrophobia in the extreme – excuse me while I run outside and take several deep breaths.

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Next time I’ll book this room. (I wish.)

O.K. I’m back – so now, what’s to be done about this? I have no idea. To me, it seemed the cruise lines were already bending over backward to keep things sanitary and hygienic. On our last cruise, I noticed employees constantly disinfecting every surface from stair rails to elevator buttons.  There are spiffy touchless water faucets, and super strength hand dryers at the entrance of every dining area, not to mention the armies of cheery but INSISTENT purveyors of hand sanitizer sprinkled liberally throughout the ship.  Despite all these precautions, the entire cruise industry ran aground in a matter of weeks. The culprit, a microscopic virus called Covid 19.

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Duck Takes a Walk (During COVID 19)

A Silly But Serious Story

As I got ready to go on my morning walk, my granddaughter stopped me and said, “Duck needs to get out of the house (don’t we all) would you take him on your walk?”

I agreed, and this is what happened:

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Duck leaves the house for the first time in forever.

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He stops to enjoy the flowers.

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He chats with a friend at a local watering hole.

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Of Songs and Silence

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Yesterday, Easter Sunday, I had the good fortune to watch Andrea Bocelli’s Music for Hope concert at Milan’s Duomo Cathedral. The broadcast began with a long shot of the Duomo, an exquisite structure which took nearly six centuries to complete.  The next scene showed Bocelli and organist Emanuele Vianelli – the sole occupants of the cathedral’s massive interior.

As Bocelli began to sing his heart out to the wounded people of Italy and of this COVID ravaged world, I felt goosebumps rise on my arms. His rendition of Amazing Grace was an otherworldly experience.

Italy Clamps Down On Public Events And Travel To Halt Spread Of Coronavirus

ROME, ITALY – MARCH 10: The area around the Arch of Constantine Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

What really shook me though was when the camera left Bocelli and panned around the world’s famous destinations  – all weirdly empty. A crumpled newspaper blows across the barren grounds of the Eiffel Tower. The stillness in Times Square is broken by the sight of one person crossing an intersection. This desolation in places ordinarily packed with people is spooky, and brings home the astounding ramifications of this pandemic.

Sometimes I sit in my home and find it hard to believe all this isolation is really necessary, but seeing the lengths we’ve gone to, to protect the citizens of the world reinforces the need for it all.

Hang in there my friends.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Miss This!

How to Travel When You’re Stuck at Home

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Images by the Library Lady and Pixabay Photos.

For one strange moment in time, we are all required to stay home. This means no work, no socializing, and especially no travel. For those who yearn for adventure in exotic locales, this can be a bit of a problem. It was for me anyway, until I discovered Google’s Art and Culture website (not being paid to say this, I just love the site). Now I’m traveling again without even leaving my home.

Admittedly, virtual travel is not quite like the real thing, but it can be pretty amazing.  With this site, I can sit on the couch in my pajamas and visit India or tour Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum. I can stroll through Queen Victoria’s Durbar Room,  or learn about the art of making a Kimono. I can even watch the bones of a Sea Dragon – or Rhomelosaures – come to life and swim away from its display in the Natural history Museum of London. (More links at the end of this post.) All this from the comfort – and hopefully virus-free setting of my own front room.

Viking Museum – Oslo Norway

How is This Possible?

 

Simply go to Google’s Art and Culture website where you’ll find an astounding collection of artwork,  museum tours, rare collectibles, and cultural experiences. I was amazed by all the options. You could literally spend weeks clicking through this information.

My favorites are the videos. Shot in 360-degree mode, you can scroll around the screen to get the big picture of backgrounds and surroundings. You can even pause the narrative and search a particular scene in more detail before resuming the video.

How to  Play

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Ronda, Spain: a Small Town that Puts on a Big Show

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I’m especially excited about this Library Lady post because it was published on Go World Travel, a site I faithfully follow! 

Photographers beware: Leaning out to get the perfect shot of the magnificent Puente Nuevo bridge in Ronda, Spain, can result in a long drop – 390 feet to be exact. And while the bridge may be the star of the show in Ronda, the supporting cast of awesome views and medieval splendor also draws quite a crowd . . . Read more at Go World Travel.

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Doors of Kauai

It’s time for more of Norm’s Thursday Doors, where door lovers of the world unite!

We’ve recently returned from a trip to Hawaii where I found some interesting doors. Well O.K. not all of these are doors, some fall into the category of entryways – but I think you’ll like them.

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SHARK DOOR!

Shark door was my favorite. Unfortunately, I have no information.  It looks like a residence, although there might be some kind of sign behind that fence. All I know is we were driving down the road, I spotted shark door and our driver kindly screeched to a halt and backed up so I could take a picture. Don’t you wish you had a supersize sea creature hanging in your front yard? The door is pretty amazing too.

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From the wild and crazy shark residence, we go to this lovely and dignified door. It was adorning a 4 million-dollar home in an upscale Hawaiian neighborhood. I believe I could live quite happily here.

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This is the door/entryway to Kauai’s Hindu Monastery. A peaceful oasis that features two Hindu temples and the Himalayan Academy. It’s free of charge and a must-see if you’re in the area. Continue reading

Banning Group Hugs? & Travel Signs

Today’s post is an eclectic combination of odds and ends, but I’ll start by sharing my Rosanne Rosanna Danna moment. Does anyone remember Roseanne Rosanna Danna from Saturday Night Live? (I know, it was a long time ago).

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As I was listening to the radio this morning I heard the announcer say, ” Today the city of Provo will vote on whether group hugs should be allowed within the city limits.” then they cut for a commercial break.

Someone wants to ban group hugs? I thought. Why would anyone do that? Group hugs are a positive thing, we need more positive things. That’s crazy! What’s this world coming to anyway!

As the announcer returned, I listened with angry ears. “Today the city of Provo  will vote on whether to allow BREW PUBS within the city limits.”

Brew pubs?

Oh. Well.

Never mind.

For those who never saw Gilda Radner / Rosanne in all her glory, I’ve included a  Youtube link at the end of this post.

Next on the agenda are the signs. These are signs I’ve either liked or laughed at in my travels.

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Truer words were never spoken.
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Carry On: Packing Light

These people are bringing too much stuff on their plane trip. Some of it will get lost or broken.

Turning Over a New Leaf

19 Inch Travel Bag and Matching Case

On our trip to Paris France (See Carry On: The French Connection) we experienced the luggage mix up of the century, where – long story short- my husband traveled across town in the middle of the night to exchange suitcases with a complete stranger.

On our next trip, we traveled to Spain. This time we resolved to play it safe and keep our luggage with us.  John and I each brought a 19-inch upright bag with a matching tote that sits on top for easy transportation. You’d be surprised how much stuff will fit into these expandable cases, especially if you do your research and learn how to pack correctly. There are all kinds of ‘travel light’ packing lists online, along with endless YouTube videos, but for now, I’ll share a few things I’ve learned about traveling with carry-on bags.

A Mental Shift

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Day two – same outfit!

Over the years I’ve been conditioned to think its taboo to wear the same outfit two days in a row.  Well, guess what? I did just that in Spain and the world didn’t come to an end. News flash – I travel to see the world, not to have the world see me. So, rather than taking weeks’ worth of clothing and accessories, I learned to pack light.

Mix and Match

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Figure out the minimum amount of clothing you can get by with, then choose items that mix and match. Include a variety of scarves and lightweight accessories that will go with everything and create different looks. The items pictured here fit easily into my suitcase along with lingerie etc. Here’s a surprise, I didn’t even wear all the clothes I brought.

 Consider the Season

Tne reason I didn’t wear all the clothes I took to Spain was that I packed for the wrong season.  Once again, a mental thing.  I was in Utah where the average daily temps were in the 60’s.  Even though I could see online it would be 80 to 90 degrees in Spain, I couldn’t get my head around that and insisted on packing a sweater and too many long pants.

Great Shoes
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Bring 2 pairs of comfortable walking shoes, black goes with everything, but that’s up to you.  I brought one pair to wear with casual clothes and another that worked well enough with skirts and sundresses. (I love my Clarks Cloud Steppers. This pair walked from one end of Spain to the other and is still as comfy as ever.)

 Shoulder Bag

I always roll up an empty canvas shoulder bag like these and stuff it inside my carry-on tote, so I’ll have something to use on a daily basis. You need a small bag to hold necessities like phone, camera, hand sanitizer, and I.D. Your tote is too big to carry around on a daily basis, besides, it’s stuffed with toiletries back at the hotel.

Wash and Wear

One thing that helped us was the fact we usually had access to laundry facilities. If that’s not an option, purchase a small bottle of dish soap to wash items in the hotel sink, then hang to dry on a shower rod or portable clothesline. If you’ll be doing lots of handwashing, make sure to pack clothes that are lightweight and quick to dry.

Carry-On Converts

By the end of this trip, we agreed that traveling with carry-on bags was the best idea we’d ever had.  I for one will never check luggage again.  Carrying my bags with me made it easier to make tight connections, and I was happy to save the time of checking suitcases and claiming it (hopefully) on the other end. But best of all, with this system, my spouse will never again have to rendezvous with a complete stranger, in the middle of the night after stealing her suitcase. Happy travels everyone and Carry On!

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Another reason I will always keep my luggage with me.

On returning from an overseas trip two days ago, I sat in the plane and watched airport employees unloading luggage from the cargo hold onto a trailer. They threw things willy nilly – including skis and a musical instrument – which crashed down on top of each other. The icing on the cake was a stroller, which banged onto the trailer rail. A wheel broke off the stroller and went skittering across the tarmac. The employees did not notice and drove away.

Ever had a problem with items being damaged while in the care of an airline? Any suggestions on packing light? I’d love to hear from you.

(For more great travel tips, read Globetrotting Grandpa’s excellent post!)

Carry On: The French Connection

Travel Blunder #367

It was midnight in Paris. Sound asleep, I was blissfully unaware that my husband was on his way to meet another woman . . . at her hotel.

It all started that afternoon when we flew into the Charles De Gaul airport. Since one of our travel companions wasn’t feeling well, we grabbed our suitcases from the carousel, hired a cab and hurried to the hotel so he could lie down. My husband John and I were eager to explore the city, so we stashed our bags, checked on our friend and set out to see the sights of Paris. Continue reading

Irish Windows

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Arched window and geriatric Castle – St. Cirains’s Monastery in Shannonbridge Ireland.

Have you ever dreamed of going to  Ireland? I did, and when it finally happened, I hardly dared to close my eyes for fear I’d miss something. Here velvet blue skies flanked rolling green hills, ancient stone buildings hovered on every horizon, and age-old rock walls snaked across the fields. Aside from that,  people have remnants of castles in their very own backyards!

From what I understand, these medieval marvels are protected – big fines if you knock one down to make room for your backyard pool – and people in Ireland seem to take all this antiquity in stride. I remember one house in particular which had a laundry line strung from a crumbling castle turret to a tree. There were sheets hanging on the line and cows grazing peacefully nearby.  What would it be like to look out your kitchen window at an ancient ruin? I’d love to find out.

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