The year in review

This has been an epic year for my husband Greg and I.  I retired from a teaching job that I loved, learned to live with my husband full time, started blogging, traveled extensively and rekindled my passion for photography.

My husband and I have learned the dance of being retired together.  He has his hobbies and interests and I am learning to take time to do the things that I love.  First I had to figure out what those things were (writing, photography, crafts)  but now we give each other space, so that later we want to spend time together.  This year our European travels have included Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Amsterdam, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.  My husband and I are very different people, he is quiet organized and cerebral and I am spontaneous, outgoing, and attention seeking.  But the one thing that we agree upon is that we both passionately love to travel and meet new people from around the globe.

For this blog  I decided to include some of my favorite photographs from the year.  I hope you enjoy them.

 

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View of the Vatican at night from our balcony

This was a special gift we enjoyed nightly in Rome, our Airbnb was located in a fabulous area with shops, restaurants and so many sights to enjoy.

 

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A wonderful dinner at Alfredo e Ada with a young California couple in Rome

Sometimes you find you stumble upon a real gem of a restaurant, a family run place with homemade pasta and delicious specialities offered each night.

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Greg, enjoying a sweet gelato at the end of the day

 

The location of our Airbnb in Florence was just steps from the Ponte Vecchio.

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Pointe Vecchio in the evening inFlorence

The sheer size and beauty of David was worth the trip to Florence.

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Michaelangelo’s David

We spent five days in the beautiful area known as Cinque Terre, where we enjoyed the spectacular scenery, hiking and seeing the beautiful cities clinging to the cliffs..

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Manarola on the Cinque Terre coast
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My attempt at an “artsy” photograph from Nessun Dorma
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Trattoria Dal Billy a fabulous restaurant with even better views
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I love this photograph of a lovely Italian lady checking out the neighborhood

Following Cinque Terre we rented a car and explored Siena and Tuscany.

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Appetizers and wine with views of Siena from our backyard.
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Sienna at sunset
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Tuscany landscape

It was a great pleasure to turn in our car in Rome and board the Celebrity Equinox.  No unpacking for a week and we were able to visit some great new places on the way to Barcelona.

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Grass growing on the top of the Celebrity cruise ship
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View from the hilltop town of Eze, France
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We loved the sangria, beer and olives in Mallorca
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Street view near our flat in Barcelona
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La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s masterpiece

After a week in Barcelona we took a flight to Geneva, Switzerland to visit friends and see much of the pristine beauty of Switzerland.

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“The Void” on Mont Blanc, France
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Fabulous times with friends
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Sunflower fields in Switzerland

We left Switzerland and headed for a few days in Amsterdam, a city we loved because of its beauty, accessibility, friendliness and rich history.

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Greg standing by the canals in Amsterdam
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A different point of view
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Zaanse Schans windmills

Next, we flew to London for a few days before we boarded a cruise to the British Isles.

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The band playing Queens’ “Fat Bottom Gor;s”
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Belfast’s famous murals
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Falling for Giant’s Causeway with my friend Brooks
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Looking up from Giant’s Causeway
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Nearing the end of our journey, taking time to snuggle together.
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One last stop before we fly home, a lucky detour to Stonehenge 

 

 

I hope you enjoy seeing some highlights of Europe 2016.  I promise there is more travel to come in 2017.  I wish you all a wonderful, happy and healthy new year.

Cruise Comments

We have enjoyed a number of cruises and decided to end our trip with a twelve day British Isles cruise on Princess.  I think that a cruise vacation is perfect for fun family trips, and it is a great opportunity for diverse friends to enjoy different aspects of their cruise at the same time. We have met some great people on cruises as well. Sharing a meal with others is just a nice way to get to know others.
All large cruise lines seem to offer similar things on their boats. Entertainment in the form of live music, shows, food, art auctions, the sale of jewelry, gambling and some form of passenger competition, whether it be singing, egg drop contests or dance contests and more food and drink.

 

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Tasty desserts on the ship

The great thing about a cruise is that there are very different levels of fitness onboard. I see the passengers hitting the gym each morning or running up on deck as well as those who are unable to walk but can participate in a lot of activities. For me it is a reminder that as long as my body will allow me, it is my obligation to stay fit.  But I did not go to the gym, just the stairs and lots of walking in the ports.

When we’re on a cruise we generally eat too much but do try to walk and climb stairs all the time. The fact of the matter is we probably eat more than we exercise, but we try to comfort ourselves in the knowledge that the cruise will not last too long.

Last year Greg promised me that we would take dance lessons. I was just in awe of passengers with the rhythm and grace to dance every dance. Well the fact of the matter is that we are both without rhythm or grace. I am quite sure if I did get Greg to a dance studio we would have been asked to leave. As a child my mom signed me up for dance lessons with my sister. I had the bag, the outfit, the ballet, tap and jazz shoes. After one lesson, the girl next to me recognized what a klutz I was and told me I was doing everything wrong. I quit dance, refusing to ever go back.  Even now I fail to hear a beat, have no rhythm and am as clumsy as a bear. Greg is not far behind me. We continue to watch the dancers on the boat and know that that will never be us.

We enjoyed all of the ports we visited.  Overall the weather was pretty good, cloudy and only a little rain.  We loved all of the musicians in the ports, except for maybe the bagpipers.  Not a big fan.

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I’m not a fan of the bagpipe

I’m sure he’s a nice guy I’m just not a fan of his music
At night it is difficult not to notice the old lady hecklers who delight in giving the singers a difficult time. They keep yelling a request for the same song over and over again. It is with great aplomb that the performers handle such pains.

At breakfast on one of our last days we sat with two other couples. One gentleman was originally from the UK, he and his wife had traveled to over one hundred countries, mostly on their own and not with tours. It would have been easy to admire him except for the fact that when he ordered a five course breakfast and  the pepper was not delivered at the same time as the Tabasco for his tomato juice he yelled at the waitress for not bringing everything in a specific order.

Cruise Dos and Don’t

1.  Don’t take the elevator, if you can walk, take the stairs

Take the stairs

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Lots of stairs at Giant’s Causeway

2.  Do research and plan your own excursions to give your trip a personal touch.

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Clock at Glasgow train station

3.  Do check out the entertainment, it is often really good.

4.  Do go off the beaten track, see things that all of the tours don’t go to.

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Coastline in Northern Ireland

5.  Don’t miss the iconic places too, there is a reason they are so popular.

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A cloudy day, but not raining yet

 

6.  Shop for cruise prices.  I often get an inside stateroom, and if that means I go on more cruises then that’s fine with me.

7.  Make the cruise your own.  Do what you want on the cruise.

9.  Do enjoy the food, but remember you can’t eat like that forever.

10.  Don’t be a bully to the waitstaff, it’s amazing how much people appreciate the “magic words” I taught my students of     “please” and “thank you.”

11.  If you decide to sing karoke after a few drinks, pick a song that everyone knows and can join in with, so no one notices your bad voice.

12.  There is limited wifi onboard so unplug and enjoy the time without having the distraction of email, Facebook etc.

13.  Kismet- Destiny, fate, luck, chance.  Leave room in your life for it.  We asked the driver who picked us up as the airport if      we could possibly visit Stonehenge.  The answer was “yes” (for a fee) we were delighted to get to see this iconic sight.

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Stonehenge, before the crowds

14.  Listen to the people you meet, ask questions, we learned so much from the people we met onboard.

15.     Go with friends, make friends, and remember to have a good time.

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Lunch on the beach in Northern Ireland