Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Taking a break

The above picture is from the Island of Murano, the glass making island off Venice. We visited the island and walked about. When the "free" water taxi dropped us off at the dock we were escorted into a work room where a demonstration of glass blowing was taking place. We have seen this before when we visited the glass works in Corning, New York. Still it is interesting to watch a Master take a glob of molten glass and make a bathroom tumbler which you could purchase for 20euro. (Euro is a $1.30) After the demonstration we were escorted into the main show room where you could purchase a chandelier, glass object D'Art or many other pieces too delicate to touch. Prices start well out of my range and went up. No pictures of course, these were one of a kinds. All very beautiful.Wish i had won the lottery.
I am taking a break from the blog until Monday. I have to organize the hundreds of photos i have into something coherent. Also, i have to fix the shed that crushed under the snow load while we were gone. and other household duties left untouched.
If you have joined the blog then you will get a message that a new blog has been added, if not then Monday should have a new entry.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Summary 1.

I am compiling my photos and other information that i collected on our journey and found some interesting facts. Get a pillow and a strong cup of coffee for just statistics can be a tad boring.
As we began our ocean crossing we cruised in waters with a depth of 1300ft give or take. As soon as we passed out of the continental shelf, in our case just east of the Bahamas, The floor of the ocean dropped to 15,000ft. That is right, almost 3 miles. The lowest i saw was 18,000ft. At the Atlantic Ridge, the volcanic fissure that is spreading our continents, it rose to 10,000ft.  Our speed seemed to average around 18kts(20mph).
The first point of interest on the journey other than the journey itself was the Strait of Gibraltor. We arrived around 2:00am. I had many interested souls with me on the forward deck even though we could only see lights on shore and nothing else. It was pitch black. It took, maybe an hour plus, to pass through the channel. Depth 1100ft, width 7.7nm. The little hand in the photo above shores our position as we entered the strait. An interesting highlight, possibly for my nose only, as we got closer to the African shore(in miles of course), The wind coming from the south had a distinct odor.Tangier is the country and city on that side and i imagine this is what it must smell like. It was a smokey, spicy, not unpleasant yet strange odor. Perhaps my imagination and an exotic place but there it is. Cruise distance 3815nm. Cruise time 10 days. Time zone change added 6 hours(GMT +1).
First port of call Malaga, Spain. Distance traveled 3916nm.
I won't give port by port statistics (unless you ask) but the depth of the Mediterranean got downwards of 8900ft from what i saw.
Total distance to Venice, Italy with stops in Barcelona, Florence and Rome was 5992nm and took 18 days.
We passed through another Strait at the tip of Italy. It is a mile wide and separates Italy from Sicily, the Strait of Messina. Talk about threading the needle. This is so small that you can almost touch other boats as we made passage. Car and people ferries zoomed across our path. It was thrilling. The summit of Mt. Etna was occluded by clouds so no pictures. :(.
This information was acquired from a gps system presented on the internal television system with large screens posted about the ship as well.The pictures to be posted are of this system, same as you would find on a long flight.
Our land travel from Venice to Vienna to Prague to Berlin to Cologne to Amsterdam was 1366mies (1187nm). We rode on regular trains for the most part but had the high-speed rail from Berlin to Amsterdam reaching speeds in excess of 150mph. zoom zoom.
Total time from Florida to Amsterdam, the hard way, was 28 days.
Our flight of 7.5 hours to return us to our -5 time zone, was 35,000ft high, 3932miles (3419nm) at a speed of 554mph.
Check here for screen shots...

Monday, March 4, 2013


Traverse city

Made it home without a hitch last night. Got yhtorugh customs and immegration like butta'. Thank goodness we did this before the Sequester issues kick in. We had enough personnel to make the experience just right.
Now is a weird period. We have laundry to wash and bags to unpack and all sorts of mail to sort through then try to get back to a regular life style. It is a little overwhelming. During the last month we had things to do each day. Evenon teh boat we knew we weren't going anywhere so it was a none thinking life style. Now we have responsibility back and it is odd.
I am up for the challenge though and look forward to growing up all over again. Maybe this time i can do it right!
Sun! haven't seen it in 10 days. It looks wonderful. In the next couple of days i will wrap up this blog and psot all the picture fit to print. Deb and i travel west in May so there will be another blog for that trip.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cologne and Amsterdam


Finally, the sun came out! Noonish on Saturday the sun appeared and we rejoiced. If was a glorious thing. Our hearts jumped with delight at its radiance.
I walked the shopping district near the Dom and reveled in the sunshine soaking up the vitamin D. Soon after it appeared... it disappeared. Good thing we boarded our train for Amsterdam. 
cologne is a Beautiful city, lots of history and places to see. However, without benefit of sun and warmer temperatures it is just not a thing one would like to do at the end of a long trip. We did get to Hard Rock in cologne. We walked a little in the area around the train station and walked a bridge over the Rhine. enough!
Our trains from Berlin to Cologne and from Cologne to Amsterdam were the German High speed trains called ICE. During the Berlin-cologne leg we reached a speed of 249km, around 150mph. The trip from Cologne-Amsterdam topped out at 133km that i noticed. Very comfortable trains, quiet and smooth riding. A very pleasant way to travel.
We arrived in Amsterdam ready to get to our room and wait for the next day's travel to the airport. However, we found that the Hard Rock Cafe in Amsterdam was only a short tram ride away. "second Wind" kicked in and off we rode.
We had our picture taken in the hard Rock and left due to shoulder to shoulder people. Next door was an Irish pub where we settled in for beer and a celebratory Paddy's. Amsterdam's energy and lights and youth brought us back for one more crack at walking the streets. We passed some sex shops, ( i dragged Deb out several times), past some hash houses, (i dragged Deb out several times), and just walked and watched... still too damn cold.
At this moment the fog has set in and we can hardly see the other side of the canal from our 6th floor room. We won't see sun today until we reach flight deck 25 or 30. We will walk for breakfast this Sunday but we are done and done. 
Next post... Traverse City.

Saturday, March 2, 2013



It was our last day in Berlin, actually half day. We were up early to see the Berlin Wall one last time. There are two places to see the extant wall. one is a good distance out for a tourist. At the fall of the wall many artists from around the world painted their thoughts on this section. It may run 500ft. Today's news story is that developers want to tear the wall down to make way for hotels and such.
The other Wall segment is in Potsdammer Platz. This section had been chained off and connected to a museum. too many "wood peckers", the name Berliners gave to tourists who broke off pieces of the wall for souvenirs  so now you can't touch it. But connected to this part is the original foundations for the East German side watch towers and such. I heard that 138 people died trying to cross the border from East to West. However, the same report suggested more than 500 people made it through.
We walked around Checkpoint Charlie on this trip as well. It is unimpressive save the picture of tanks lining Friedrieche Strausse during the height of tensions. We had to continually remind ourselves that this city was a theater of war. Over half the city was destroyed, rubble, some places a lot more. 
After our history lesson we returned to the hotel and grab our  luggage for the trip to the Cologne HauptBahnHof. 
The train trip from Berlin to cologne was uneventful save seeing a Monorail in Wuppetal, Germany. It was the suspended type with a Erector set style support system. Cool!
We had grabbed a map to our hotel from Google. The map gave us directions but had the caution, (Beta) on it. So we followed the directions. We walked down the first street looking for the "slight left". Under a blue lit tunnel, we entered into a local business area. Street not more than a car and a half wide. small shops on both sides of the street. Didn't seem like the place we were headed for.  Fortunately there was a map of the city right there! Blessed saint of travelers whoever that is. We checked our location a found we had passed our hotel. Returned under the blue lit bridge, turned right as directed, and walked past several hotels, none of them ours. Turned at the corner and found a small restaurant and asked the question. It was right around the corner if we continued on! We could have gone the other way and walked right to it instead we walked around the block. Be careful when Google says "Beta".