Daily Post: Learning

I always thought of myself as a good student, but I don’t recall learning very much about World War 2 when I was in high school. Perhaps the curriculum at my school district┬áwas not very deep?

When I planned my Viking River Cruise last year, I didn’t realize it would come with a history lesson. But I guess that isn’t much of a stretch considering most of the cruise was in Germany, and we visited many historically significant places.

I won’t try and regurgitate what I learned, because I am not confident about how much I could actually remember. Plus, there are much better sources about WWII history than my blog. ­čÖé

One of my favorite cities on that trip was Nuremberg. One thing I do remember learning as a child was to hate the Nazis. And that was also the theme during our day in Nuremberg.


Court Room 600 – site of the WWII Nazi trials


The defendants sat on the left side of the room.

old and new 600

Side by side photos of how the courtroom looked during the Nazi trials and how it looks today. Many differences; cross, seating, 2nd level windows for reports

My grandfather served in the military during WWII, but he only served stateside. He never talked about his military career, or the war. My mom told me he never served abroad because he was German. I didn’t question that as a child, but I do now. Was being German really a reason why a young man wouldn’t be able to serve his country (born in the USA) while fighting the country of his ancestors? He had 4 small children at home – perhaps that was really why they didn’t send him abroad.

I hate that I didn’t spend more time learning from my grandparents when they were still alive. I have so many questions, about so many topics. I wish I had taken better advantage of them. Plus, I miss them!

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Daily Post: Surface

I love the water. And the surface of water is something I enjoy photographing – especially when it is calm and reflective.

But who doesn’t love whales? Especially when they are breaching. It was so much fun to see them breaking the surface of the water as they were coming up; but more so when they came back down. Our guide said breaching is not typical behavior when they are in Alaska. You are more likely to see it when the whales are near Mexico and Hawaii in the winter.


Whale watching in Juneau, Alaska

It was almost two years ago when I went on an Alaskan cruise. These pictures are all from that amazing vacation.



Salmon just at the surface of the water


New Eddystone Rock

Alaska – go there!

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Daily Post: Praise

I am not an art critic, and would not make a very good one; but I have opinions.

I have no praise for this:


How is this “art” – in Foundation Louis Vuitton

I don’t understand it. I find it disturbing.

But lots of praise for this:


Rose Bowl parade

and this:


Jeff Koons Tulips: Guggenheim Bilbao


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Photo Challenge: Morning

I’ve been to Vatican City twice. Once in the late afternoon, and once in the morning.

I highly recommend the morning. Look, almost no one is here (include the Pope, as it turned out):


St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

I consider myself a “morning” person, but not always while traveling. However, there are moments that really are worth getting an early start in order to experience.

I wanted to climb to the top of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica; and I wanted to avoid a long queue – so I was there when they opened and was very happy to have arrived early.

I love how the early day sun is reflecting off of this magnificent church. I hope to return to Rome, and plan to repeat this experience.

Buona giornata!

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Daily Post: Craving

My initial idea for this topic was to write about how I am craving a Laduree macaron. I have Paris on my mind!

Famous Laduree

Famous Laduree

However, I decided to go in a different direction. (In part to try and squash my sweet craving.)

2016 is missing something for me. It will be the first year in many when I am not cruising; so, I am craving some ocean time.

I love the ocean. I have always loved water. I only started cruising 10 years ago, but immediately fell in love. I then went on the following cruise streak:

2011 – Mediterranean aboard Holland America’s Noordam

HAL Noordam

HAL Noordam

This was my second cruise. Ever. The first was also Mediterranean, and I so fell in love with the region that I needed to return. I visited some of the same places as before, but also many new ones; including my first time in Africa.

Michaelangelo's David (replica)

Michaelangelo’s David (replica) in Florence


Monte Carlo

Cove where we swam

Mallorca  cove

2012 – Caribbean aboard Norwegian’s Spirit

This was my first cruise with my parents. They took the whole family to celebrate their 50th anniversary. I didn’t love the Caribbean, but it was an awesome vacation.

NCL Spirit

NCL Spirit

Andy and his fish

Andy and his fish

Towel mouse

Towel mouse

Family swim time

Family swim time

2013 – Baltic aboard Holland America’s Eurodam

I love Europe, and decided to expand my horizons with this cruise and see the northern countries. And even though my parents did a nearly identical trip the previous year, they joined us on this cruise.


Private cabana on Eurodam

Private cabana on Eurodam

Swedish Archipelago

Swedish Archipelago

Old Tallinn

Old Tallinn

Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg, Russia

2014 – Alaska aboard the Grand Princess

My 50th state! This was a cruise with my parents, brother and SIL, and paternal aunt. Alaska is beautiful. We were blessed with wonderful weather – best all summer, according to the crew.

And while this was one of my favorite vacations, it was also the time when my mother began having physical challenges that led to her terminal cancer diagnosis. I am so, so happy that I had this experience with my parents. I am blessed!

grand princess

Whale watching

Whale watching

Alaskan waterfall

Alaskan waterfall

Mendenhall Glacier and lake

Mendenhall Glacier and lake

2015 – European river cruise on Viking

This was my mom’s bucket list trip, and her last vacation. Again, I was incredibly blessed to ┬áhave this experience with her. But I also have mixed feelings because she never really recovered her strength after getting home. However, it was important to her that she live what life she had left to the fullest, and she accomplished that!

We started in Budapest and ended in Amsterdam. I added 3 new countries to my list on this trip.

Credit: Viking River Cruise website

Budapest, photo credit: Viking River Cruise website

The sun was perfect to "light" up these buildings on the shore

Wachau Valley, The sun was perfect to “light” up these buildings on the shore

View of the Abbey from the road below. The two towers are the chapel part of the building.

View of the Abbey from the road below. The two towers are the chapel part of the building.



No worries, my cruise craving will be satisfied in January 2017 aboard Norwegian’s Pride of America. ┬áI will be sailing around the Hawaiian islands with my dad, DH, both brothers and their wives; and of course my mom will be with us in spirit.

Hopefully 2016 will be the last year I endure an entire year without cruising.

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Daily Post: Muse

It is highly unlikely that had I lived in the 1880s-1890s, and knew him, that I would have ever been a muse for Oscar Wilde. Why is another blog post, or just check his wikipedia page if you want to learn more about this brilliant playwright.

However, he is now a sort of muse for me. And this is how it happened…..

I’ve been to Paris many times, and I plan to visit many more times. I’ve been to the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Seine river cruise, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe….

I was in Paris and wanted to have a more unconventional visit than my past trips. I read once that Pete Lachaise Cemetery was a tourist attraction. I initially dismissed the idea of visiting a Paris cemetery as a little creepy; but then I started to read up on who was buried there.  Some include:

  • Oscar Wilde
    Sarah Bernhardt
    Gertrude Stein
    Marcel Marceau
    Jim Morrison

And there are many more…

Oscar Wilde wrote my favorite play – The Importance of Being Earnest. But I didn’t know very much about him, so I started doing a little research and decided that I would visit him. But I wanted to make it as fun as I could while in a cemetery, so tried to make an event out of it. “Breakfast with Oscar

I bought a bottle of wine, stopped at my local patisserie to get some pastries, and hopped on the metro headed for Pere Lachaise. The cemetery does provide maps, but I recommend doing your research before going to make sure you really know how to find the graves you want to see. Oscar’s is very easy to find, especially if you enter via the Gambetta entrance.

Paris 244

Oscar Wilde’s grave in Paris – Breakfast with Oscar

Paris 242

Kisses for Oscar

As my newly appointed muse, I think Oscar would have embraced having wine and pastries with him for breakfast.

However, other visitors to his grave did not approve. I tried to be respectful, but again I didn’t want it to be a somber occasion.


I was in Dublin two years ago, but forgot to have breakfast with Oscar on that trip. I did, however, try to have breakfast with him in London, but the area around him was taped off for construction.

I made Oscar my blog muse to try and find a new angle for how I would approach travel. And, it was because of him that I decided to see a famous Paris site that I had not previously considered.

I also visited Jim Morrison’s grave. It was more difficult to find, but all you really need is a general idea of where it is and then just listen for the party and follow the noise. (I left the rest of my wine for Jim.) I would have never been his muse either.

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Weekly Photo: Narrow

Did you know that there is a very narrow and winding staircase you can walk up inside the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica? If you aren’t claustrophobic, I highly recommend this experience.


St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

basilica dome

Photo credit: Google images


Photo credit: wikipedia

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