Thursday, July 28, 2005

Cruising, May - July 2005

My cruise ship gig was delayed for a month because of the fire. I was actually prepared to cancel it completely but Doug convinced me that I should do the last three months of it. It was going to take that long for the insurance company to figure out our situation, apparently. He had to give up a month of touring as well.

What was really nice about this was that we’d both be there together for the first section of it. Way back in January before all of this craziness ensued, I had noticed that a certain big band was going to be performing for the ship’s big band theme cruise and I suggested to Doug that he ask his former student, who used to play with that band, if he could find out if they needed a sub for the cruise. He did and they did, so Doug was there playing in the big band for 10 days starting the same day that I began my 3 month contract as a show band musician. Isn’t that cool?

So we had what amounted to a working vacation together for the beginning of my contract. It was definitely a vacation after everything we’d been through. We were crossing the Atlantic from Fort Lauderdale to Lisbon, so we also had plenty of time to get together and work on house things. We got started on his clothing list and we made some initial drawings of potential floor plan changes that we could make to improve the house. It was great to have all of that time together in such a nice environment. I also had fun sitting in with Doug’s band after I finished my gig each night.

After Doug got off in Lisbon, the ship cruised in the Mediterranean for a month and the rest of the time we were in the British Isles and the Baltic Sea area, which included St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Oslo, the Norwegian Fjords, Stockholm, Tallin, and Gdynia. It was a fabulous itinerary.

I got off at every port and saw as much as I possibly could. I took a lot of pictures. But every spare minute I had while I was onboard was spent working on that g*%@&#% personal property inventory. By the time the three months were up I had all of the items listed that I could possibly think of or visualize in our house. Internet access at sea was very expensive so I had to wait until I got home to do the rest of the pricing research.

Friday, July 22, 2005

CRUISE PHOTOS: Guernsey

This is how it looks here when the tide is low at St. Peter Port on the beautiful island of Guernsey.

My contract ends tomorrow in Dover. I've had a blast, but I can't wait to get home to see Doug and Ted.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

CRUISE PHOTOS: Edinburgh






Now that's what I've been missing!!! Only 5 more days!



We have one of these in Wheaton.



A view from Edinburgh Castle




A view of Edinburgh Castle




A view from the ship of the lumber yard in the shipyard at Rosyth




Exiting Edinburgh via the Firth of Forth


Saturday, July 16, 2005

CRUISE PHOTOS: Belfast

notice the barbed wire






Now playing at the Opera House: The Jungle Book



Irish cheese is excellent!



Is this a statue or a photograph? Um....it's both.


Yum Yum Yum

Thursday, July 14, 2005

CRUISE PHOTOS: Dublin

A Dublin Doorway

Dublin Castle

Sweet Molly Malone

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Monday, July 11, 2005

CRUISE PHOTOS: More Dover


The "Full English Breakfast"



The "White Cliffs of Dover"

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

CRUISE PHOTOS: Alesund

Alesund is where I nearly got stranded in the outer reaches of the Norwegian fiord country. The town of Alesund only took an hour to explore, and there was a bus stop with a schedule that clearly indicated I could take a public bus out to the end of a distant penisula and easily get back in time to catch the ship.

I trusted this schedule because Norwegians generally seem to be almost as punctual and organized as Germans are. Riding the public bus has always been a great way to have a "local" experience so I was psyched for this little adventure. And the scenery was stunning, as usual.

The bus driver seemed to know all of his passengers by name and I began to realize after a while that he was actually dropping people off at their houses and was not exactly sticking to the route or the schedule. He got to the final destination pretty late, and at some point I figured out, in spite of his lack of English, that he was planning to be finished for the day and had not intended to take the scheduled trip back to Alesund.

I had to do some serious explaining and showing him the schedule and begging before he agreed to take me back. So I was sort of freaking out about whether I'd make it back in time, but at the same time I was trying to play it cool so he wouldn't think I was being pushy or obnoxious. I needed to have him want to help me.

Fortunately getting back took half as long because he drove straight there. So it all worked out fine, but it would have been really bad news if he had refused to come back. I tried to give him a nice tip but he wouldn't accept it.
So that was my exciting little side trip! After all of that I still kind of enjoy the experience of not being able to speak the language of whatever country I'm in - it definitely keeps things interesting and it's fun (for me at least) trying to communicate with people by pointing at things and using facial expressions and only recognizing tiny bits of the language.

However, if I were anywhere for longer than a few days, I would definitely make an effort to learn at least a few useful phrases. So far I guess I've been lucky that this hasn't gotten me into more trouble. But if I had a more cautious attitude, I wouldn't be having nearly as much fun. So it's worth it.



Monday, July 4, 2005

CRUISE PHOTOS: The History of the North Cape

The North Cape was first discovered in 1907. The explorers brought along their wives and girlfriends.
It was a steep climb up from the sea.
The End

CRUISE PHOTOS: The Beauty of the North Cape

Here's the cute little port town of Honningvag. From there we took a tour to the North Cape where they have reindeer.
And scenery that is stark yet beautiful.



Sunday, July 3, 2005

CRUISE PHOTOS: Midnight Sun

It's almost midnight and we are heading towards the North Cape.

This is as low as the sun ever got that night. It started rising again shortly after this picture was taken. The farther north you go, the longer the sun stays up.