In (1) on the left, I continued my journal page. Below the journaling is a picture of Jim wearing his new wool cap. When you flip Jim’s picture, you will see the 3 piece wool set (scarf, hat and fingerless gloves) I bought for myself (2)! I used the flip pages on (1 & 3) as well. I 12′d in front of the Blarney Castle and Jim & Tracy were freezing in the rain and wind in front of the castle. Of course I saved the tags that show we bought our wool merchandise at the Blarney Woollen Mills in Ireland (Jim complains about all the little things I save, but they all end up in the scrapbook)!
I added a pocket on the left to keep a map of the Blarney Castle, a brochure on the Woollen Mills and the Titanic connection to Cobh (* 123 passengers boarded the Titanic from Cobh – then known as Queenstown, County Cork; * Queenstown was Titanic’s last port of call on April 11, 1912). In the flip page is the GRIFFIN CODE OF ARMS.
“The Griffins of today are the descendants of a number of septs (families) of O Griobhatha, who were located at Ballygriffin, in the Barony of Glanarough in County Kerry, as well as also, of Coshma. Another sept were located in the Barony of Inchiquin in County Clare, will also add to the ancestry. The name today, is the seventy fifth most numerous name in Ireland, being about 8,000 members strong. The greatest number of the name are found in the homelands of Counties Clare and Kerry, with Counties Cork and Limerick being well populated with the name. The ARMS are a sable, a griffin segreant or, langued and armed gules. The MOTTO is NE VILE VELIS (with nothing base).”
Opposite the Griffin Code of Arms is my morning view of the sea before getting closer to Ireland where it turned foggy as you can see when we’re off the point of land.
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) You can see the commemorative sign for the Titanic from the ship (1). Cobh (2) is a beautiful town (village?, city?). I love all the the architecture of the buildings. A close-up of the main castle at Blarney (3). When you walk around the corner (4) and see the Blarney Castle estate – it’s beautiful. Another close-up of part of the castle ruins (5).
I was the only one of our group to climb to the top of the Blarney Castle but there was no way I was going to get down on my back in the pouring rain and laying in the mud, hang backwards over the floor holding onto a metal bar, and kiss that nasty stone! Unfortunately, there was a water spot on the lens of my camera but the people were lined up waiting to get down in the mud. The story is that after everyone leaves and the place is locked up for the night, the staff come and pee on that wall and laugh every day about the idiot tourists who kiss it every day. Don’t know if it’s true or not but just disgusting enough to make me not want to kiss the stone! The grounds around the castle are just beautiful. Too bad it was raining and cold otherwise I’m sure we would have been able to walk around see so much more. Before we left Blarney, we bought our woollen products at the Blarney Woollen Mills. I could have spent a bunch of money there but had to limit myself to Jim’s cap and my 3 piece scarf/hat/mitten set.
After leaving Blarney, we went to the little village of Kinsale. We ate lunch at Fishy Fishy which was off the beaten path and not frequented by tourists. It was a little pricier than had we eaten on the main drag at the tourist traps but so much better! After we ate we wandered around town until it was time to get the bus back to the ship. I thought the EAT DRINK SLEEPOVER place was a pretty cool idea! No drinking and driving! And of course the TULLY sign caught my eye – except it wasn’t Seattle’s Tully’s Coffee! I’m sure the growers of GRIFFIN POTATOES are relatives of ours too! Finally, our cruise brochure on Cork-Cobh!
Journal page is DAY 12 AT SEA. My morning view of the sea showed clouds and the seas were choppy. Sometime during the night after leaving Ireland we had entered the English Channel, saw more container ship traffic and thought, “how dare those ships come close to us”! I did some hand washing and hung Jim’s Seattle Seahawk shirt out on the balcony to dry. We also got our passports back after having Ireland’s Customs stamped them. Our towel animal that night, sporting Jim’s sunglasses, was a frog!
The journal page is DAY 13 AT PARIS, FRANCE. My morning view wasn’t of the sea today since we were already docked when I woke up. Me, Tracy & Jim on the 2+ hour bus ride from LeHavre into Paris. I loved the double decker bus with a picture of a girl and boy with President Obama t-shirts on! And, of course, Tracy & I were 12ing in Paris in front of the Eiffel Tower (love my Seattle Seahawks)!
We had a bite to eat at Cafe Le Corona and I ordered a Croque-Madame non fromage e chocolat (fried egg and ham sandwich with no cheese and hot chocolate)! After we got back to our meeting place to catch our bus back to the ship, we were so tired from walking everywhere. Tracy, me & Jim patiently waiting for our ride and people watching!
The top left picture is a tree with ball-type flowers. The tree is a mistletoe tree and that’s the mistletoe that we stand under to get kissed. We thought the field of yellow was mustard seeds but it was the seef that’s used to make canola oil. We headed into a rain storm and saw this double rainbow! The second picture is my Big Red Bus map and our cruise brochure of Paris.
The journal pages are DAY 14 AT ZEEBRUGGE, BRUGGES, BELGIUM. We rode a taxi into Brugge (about half hour drive from the ship). Of course we had to sample the famous Belgium chocolate and it did not disappoint. The only disappointment was I didn’t buy enough! My view first thing in the morning was very foggy. I couldn’t tell if we were close to shore or not. I want to tell you, the Belgium’s certainly know a thing or two about pilot boats. It’s huge!
On the way to the Tourist center to pick up a city map, we passed this bronze bicycle statute. I’ve been amazed at all the people who ride bikes as a way of transportation instead of driving cars. The cost of gas is out of this world in Europe so it’s not only cheaper to ride a bike, it’s much healthier! The store where I bought my Belgium chocolate! It seems that every old town in Europe has a bell tower in the center. And the architecture of the building in these old cities is beautiful. I’m not sure I could live in such an old place, but I enjoy looking at all the old buildings.
We walked around and around that city as well as taking a canal boat tour. The weather was perfect after it quit drizzling shortly after we got there. There is a large flock of swans that live on the canal – they sure were beautiful.
We had a snack at Panos Enjoy Your Break. My favorite was the chocolate filled croissant – YUMMY! Patrick was our taxi driver. He got us to and from town very fast! He was crazy! Tracy was sitting in the front seat and she said she had to close her eyes a couple of times it was so crazy! Our towel animal that night was an elephant! And, of course, I saved the Brugge town map as well as the cruise port guide. The journal page is DAY 15 AT AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS.
My first view of the morning as we were coming into Amsterdam was dismal it was so foggy. But slowly and surely the fog burned off. This port was so modern. The use of an actual real jetway for us to get off the ship was awesome (versus the temporary one the ship keeps on board). And look at their modern terminal.
The line to go into the Anne Frank house was around several blocks but I was able to get a picture with her statute. We had homemade french fries from Wil Graanstra’s Frites sidewalk stand. They were so good but we didn’t eat them with mayonnaise like the locals; yep, we had catsup! We ate them out of a paper cup with little plastic forks. They sure hit the spot! More and more bicycles locked up anywhere a post could be found!
I just love the canals that run all through Amsterdam. In the first picture, we saw this monument (the steps going down to the canal from the street) that was dedicated to the people who had died of Aids. I thought it was kind of sad that the sign read: HOMO MONUMENT. We also took a canal tour from where the ship docked to in front of the Anne Frank house. It was still cold so the plastic windows were still zipped shut so it was hard to get any good pictures. If you could see clearly, the second picture shows all the way down the canal with 7 bridges/underpasses – the only place you can see that is if you’re in a boat on the canal. Gabled houses dating from the 17th and 18th centuries line the canals. It’s so hard to pick just one or two pictures to put in a scrapbook. In the last set of pictures, the top picture shows the top of our ship peeking up above the terminal. And finally, it seems every port of call we had been on this cruise there was a Noah’s Ark restaurant or office building!
In the top photo in the first picture is the only Russian gift shop in Holland. Tracy & I went inside and looked at the nesting dolls but decided we’d wait until 2018 when we went to Russian to buy homemade Russian nesting dolls! The bottom photo of that first picture caught my eye because of the wisteria growing along the top of the awnings. The second picture is an up-close view of the wisteria. I just love that flower. And finally, the rhododendron that had been pruned to grow like a tree. It was going to have a ton of flowers and I would have loved to see it all bloomed out.
As Jim & I were wandering around the streets and canals of Amsterdam, we inadvertently walked right into the Red Light District as well as some other different areas! But the funniest thing I saw in a shop window was this little bust statute of John F. Kennedy!
To get back to the ship we had to walk through the bus/train station, Amsterdam Central. It was a nice walk along the waterfront to get back to the ship. As we were sailing away from Amsterdam, we passed a bicycle only parking lot for one of the local ferries; a two store houseboat; a table and chairs that you had to use a ladder to get up to the top of the table for your picnic; and finally, this huge four sided billboard. I’m not sure if this building is strictly for advertising or if it’s an actual office building with “skins” on the sides for advertisers. I guess I’ll never know.
My last port brochure. Later in the evening after sailing from Amsterdam headed to Copenhagen, we passed through a little lock system. Some of our group had never been on a ship going through the locks and found it very fascinating!
The journal page is DAY 16 AT SEA. We had to put the #12 (haha, that’s funny huh … I’ve been flying my #12 Seattle Seahawks flag in every port of call and now we’re given the #12 for our luggage) tag on our luggage and have it outside in the hall before we go to bed tonight. I had one final morning view at sea and it seemed to be a pretty good morning. The seas were very calm. Of course we all had to have our picture taken with Ferdinand. He took such good care of us and we were so lucky to have gotten him as our cabin steward! Our evening Assistant Waiter in the Windjammer, Snjezana, was just as awesome. After the first couple of days, she realized there would be 7 of us at 7 every night for dinner so she’d have two tables put together with water and silverware/napkins already at the table for us. And she was cute as a button! My final evening sunset on the cruise ship. The journal page is DAY 17 ARRIVE COPENHAGEN, DENMARK (DEBARKATION DAY).
The first picture shows our progress from Ft. Lauderdale to Copenhagen (thanks Tracy for the pictures). We were up early today so we could get breakfast and be ready to leave the ship to get our Copenhagen bus tour. We were still coming into the port but the water was very calm. I was quite surprised to see all these windmills in the water. These Europeans really know how to use natural resources (i.e., bicycles, windmills, solar power, etc.). And finally, sadly, leaving the ship for the last time and loading our luggage into the tour bus with the ship behind it.
As we were touring around the city, we passed several coffee shops. The first one (top photo in the first picture) was selling Seattle’s Best Coffee! Of course, anywhere you go in the world there is always a McDonald’s (bottom photo in first picture)! The unique building in the second picture used to be a telephone booth but is now a coffee shop. The third picture is actually a train stop and the only parking is for bicycles.
We stopped at the Queen’s Palace (our tour guide called it her summer house) and while we were there her motorcade came in from her winter house (I’m sure it’s a palace as well) to meet with the Japanese Ambassador, whose motorcade also came through while we were there. Her son/daughter-in-law also live in this group of palaces. Her son the Prince is married to a gal from Australia. The tour guide was hoping we’d see them come out riding their bikes while we were there since apparently the Princess and the kids ride their bikes every day to/from school. There was one guard in front of the son’s palace. He was pretty funny to watch – he would walk back and forth and not move his head to watch us but his eyes were following our every move!
Another Noah’s Ark restaurant. I tried to buy these two shirts for Jim but he said no. Yesterday when he saw the picture he asked why I hadn’t bought him those shirts. I had to remind him that he said no when I wanted to buy them for him, especially the bike shirt! Maybe one day we’ll get back to Copenhagen and I can buy him that shirt!
We stopped at The Little Mermaid statute which is made of bronze and granite and is 101 years old and inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale. Our tour guide got so mad at the tourists who kept climbing up on her when the sign clearly says to stay off the statue. We were standing there trying to get a picture without any tourists and she started hollering at the people can’t they read the sign that says no climbing. Then she started shooing them away! She was awesome! Across from the statue was a huge lilac bush. I’d never seen anything like it! We could also see our ship docked across the waterway. The top right photo in the second picture was taken after we took a walk by our hotel. It was an exit off the highway and it was obvious what two of the three signs depicted. However, the 3rd sign was a bit confusing. It’s a dog with a wire basket in its mouth. I would have never guessed that this was a sign for a grocery store!
Believe it or not but we ate lunch in the airport at the 7-11 (we didn’t find out there was a McDonald’s within walking distance until after we had eaten)! The food at the 7-11 was actually pretty good, too. Then we went to Starbucks for coffee after! About 5:00 while I was looking out the window of our hotel, I saw our ship leaving Copenhagen. I can’t believe she left without us!
I had to get in one last photo op for my Seattle Seahawks #12 flag! We were staying at the Copenhagen’s Airport Hilton. And my final view of the day was a beautiful sunset over the city of Copenhagen. The journal page is DAY 18 TRAVEL DAY.
We had such a busy day in Copenhagen it took both the front and back of the journal page to get it all down! My first view of the morning was sure different than the last 17 days when we were either at sea or docked in the next port of call. This was our travel day back home and I was not looking forward to it at all. Neither Jim nor I can sleep on airplanes and it was a 10 hour flight to Washington, D.C. Once you get past security at the Copenhagen airport, it’s like a HUGE mall inside. I lost track of how many high-end stores there were and it seems everyone was shopping. The Starbucks was packed. I was able to snag one of these little carts so I wouldn’t have to carry my purse and overnight bag! And finally, my last picture of our vacation was taken out the window of our third, and final, flight of the day. It was a beautiful sunset on our way from Charlotte, NC to New Orleans, LA.
We had a wonderful vacation with good friends and looking to the next one … September, 2015!