Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Southampton Turnaround and a New Cruise

Hello from Southampton! If it looks more like a Journey concert on the big screen by the pool on a windy and cloudy day you’d be right.

nation flags flying over under Movie Under the Stars Princess Cruises
Wonder what my 16 year old self listening to Journey in her bedroom
would think of where her almost 60 year old self is listening today?

Today most guests are disembarking and a whole new bunch will be joining us. Since I had to change cabins again (for the last time, yay) I was without a home for a few hours so I camped out by the pool for a chunk of the day. Bring on the fresh air! The sun popped out here and there, enough to give me a bit of sunburned face.

Cleaning my new cabin and setting things up took the rest of the afternoon. I disinfected handles and knobs and flat surfaces. Unpacked the suitcase and organized my drawers for the next two months. Worked up a sweat, even.

I cooled off just enough to change clothes and have a quick dinner in Sabatini’s. Food is all about texture for me these days so bread, lasagna, and their Rocher chocolate dessert checked off all the variety boxes. Creamy, chewy, crunchy, smooth, coarse, hot, and cold all in one small meal.

With a full belly I made my way onto the balcony to get more fresh air and watched boats dashing about. I had to look this one up - it’s a hovercraft ferry. Who knew?

Isle of Wight hovercraft
Isle of Wright hovercraft

So, where are we going on this cruise? It’s an amazing itinerary.

We have a couple of sea days ahead of us and then we’ll be in Bornholm, Denmark on July 1. By the looks of my calendar it’ll be a whirlwind of a month.

See you in Denmark in a few days!

Monday, June 26, 2023

Edinburgh, Scotland

Hello from Edinburgh! 

Can't see much from the picture, can you?
It's because we're anchored offshore.
Today the ship's tenders took us to Newhaven Harbour. There is plenty to see in the area, but I had to go all the way into downtown Edinburgh for my task of the day.
tender port launch New Haven Harbour Edinburgh, Scotland
Remember the other day I planned on buying a new iPhone charger cable onboard to replace the one that broke? Well, the ship doesn't carry any such thing. Thankfully a person working at guest services took pity on a panicked guest (me) and let me borrow her extra cable for a couple days until I could get my own. 

Thanks to the charger situation the calm, quiet, and stillness I was working on was replaced with anxiety. I got through it - and today - by reminding myself of something I read years ago on a friend's blog:
"If I won't remember it in 10 years, or if it will make a good story, then don't waste time stressing over it today."
~Yellow Fish Cruises
(Now go read her blog at Everything I learned about extended travel came from her.)

I survived my day. I got my charger cable.
Onshore. (After a bumpy tender ride.) 
At the Apple Store. (I've never been in an Apple Store before. They were so nice!)
In Downtown Edinburgh, Scotland. (It's summer and the streets were packed.) 
Not by taxi. (Wasn't sure they would wait.)
Not by public transportation. (Scooters aren't allowed on their busses. No ADA here.)

Hop on, Hop off to the rescue. Blue bus to the transfer station at Waterloo Place. Wheel two blocks away to find the Apple Store. With the purchase secure in my jacket pocket I was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief. 

Wheel back to the transfer station and take the Green bus for a tour of the city. The Green bus had live commentary instead of the recording. Cool, right? Well...I've never been to Scotland before. I don't know anyone from Scotland. And I have no experience in listening to a Scottish accent. Add in him talking as fast as he did, I barely could figure out what he was saying. I got some words - castle, Harry Potter, church. So I did what I do best, I took pictures of things I found interesting whether they were important or not.

I started with businesses. 
Beautiful building for a mattress store
flowers in back of vehicle in Edinburgh, Scotland
Florist prepping deliveries
pink flowers on building in Edinburgh, Scotland
Must be too early in the day for outdoor seating
colorful storefronts in Edinburgh, Scotland
Colorful storefronts
line at cat cafe in Edinburgh, Scotland
You can have tea, coffee, and cake with the kitties!
Then it was old buildings. 
I also got into colorful doors.
I took way too many pictures today. And to think, I probably wouldn't have gone into the city if it wasn't for the dang anxiety-provoking no-charger situation!
There's a park in the city, too
crowds at Edinburgh capitol
So. Many. People.
We have a sea day tomorrow and we'll wind up back in Southampton on Wednesday for turnaround day. See you then!

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Skjolden, Norway

Hello from Skjolden! 

Skjolden, Norway

We had to sail through Sognefjorden, the longest and deepest fjord in the world, to get to Skjolden. The views in the fjord were stunning. I've now visited eight different ports in Norway and I think the country might be the most beautiful place on earth.

sailing through Sognefjorden
Cloudy early but clear later
sailing through Sognefjorden
Ferry was running early
sailing through Sognefjorden
Green glacial silt waters
sailing through Sognefjorden
The smooth, clear waters reflected the land and sky
sailing through Sognefjorden
Again and again.
sailing through Sognefjorden
Which tunnel would you drive through?
Hint: There's really only one.
Once we arrived in Skjolden I had to get myself to one of the dining rooms to pick up the sticker for my tour. The Jotunheimen National Park and Sognefjell Mountain Pass tour was only the second one I've taken this trip. Being on a bus full of cruise ship passengers for four hours reminded me why I don't do excursions. Thanks to pushy, rude, and selfish adults, just getting an elevator (six tries), getting to the bus, and finding a seat on the bus started out rough for me. But the joke was on them because at the very back of the bus I finally found one open seat. Not just one, but five all the way across. All to myself.
Photo taken when everyone was gone
With the ability to take pictures out the left window and right window I went wild. We had a tour guide but sometimes she didn't tell us what we were seeing on both sides so I just took pictures of things I found interesting whether she mentioned them or not.
church in Skjolden, Norway
Sognefjell Mountain Pass
Sognefjell Mountain Pass
It's difficult to understand the size of the mountains 
frozen lake in Sognefjell Mountain Pass
Frozen lakes were beginning to melt
Sognefjell Mountain Pass
Sognefjell Mountain Pass
And a river runs through it
grooming trails for cross country skiing in Sognefjell Mountain Pass
Machines were grooming trails for cross country skiers
The road had lots of hairpin turns and was oh-so-narrow. When two vehicles approached each other someone was going to have to back up.
Have to be a skilled driver to avoid a head on collision
One of the busses overheated on the way up
and all the passengers had to wait for another
We stopped at a lodge for a waffle and another rough time was had. The bus driver left the bus for a smoke break without opening the hatch for the scooter or the several walkers onboard. All of us barely-mobile people had to carefully make our way from the bus to the building without our devices.
Jotunheimen National Park
Then we all had to climb the beaten up and uneven stone steps. For some of us it was quite the task. 
Not easy, but I did it!
Once inside we were rewarded with standing in a long line for some time because the 40 other people got there first with waffles. Jam and cream on mine, please. (At least I think it was. Still can't taste or smell a thing so it could have been sour cream for all I know.)
berries and waffles in Norway
After the quick snack AKA my lunch, I gingerly made my way back down the steps and sat at a table outside in the sun for a bit before carefully making my way to the bus for the return trip. 
Well, hello ewe
Some for you, Ed:
You know how I like my signs. I've never seen an orange X over one before.
Then in other things-going-rough news, my phone charger broke and it's one of the few things I didn't bring a backup for. I'm hoping I can find one in the shop onboard tomorrow before my phone completely dies. But wow, I'm so thankful the little piece didn't break off in the phone. Now that would be rough! 
But wait, there’s more. I have something in the how gross can you be department. My balcony extends out from the ship so the deck above me can see partially into my balcony, mostly when I’m near the railing. So I come back to the balcony tonight and spy a whole bunch of these. 
Looks to be toenail size
Based on the placement it appears a person in the cabin straight above me threw their cut nails on my balcony. Hey gross person, the deck plan tells me exactly which cabin you’re in, you know.

Not a minute too soon we're up with a sea day tomorrow. These old painful joints are desperate for some R & R before we get to our next port. This time we're heading to the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh. See you there on Monday!