Monday, September 26, 2005
Every night since we arrived, we sit out on our 4th floor 20 foot wide balcony and gaze at sandy beaches, palm trees, sunshine and that awesome azure Mediterranean Sea as far as the eye can see. We can hardly believe this amazing place is less than a hundred dollars per night Canadian, full breakfast included. We have extended our stay.
We also didn't know that the weekend we arrived was a holiday celebrating Calella's local saint (each city has their own protecting saint that they venerate with a festival), or that the end of their season is September 30. On that day most hotels shut completely down until Easter. Who knows why--the weather is still hot and sunny.
Why had no one told us about this haven before? We've seen very few Americans and no Canadians, but the city is full of English, German, Dutch Russian etc. This is their summer get away place. The many restaurants have every international flavor, but favor the English style pubs (fish and chips and mushy peas, etc.) and as I mentioned before tourists travel by bus from all over Europe to vacation here (25 hours from York, 17 hours from the Netherlands).
The shopping is wonderful!!! There is about a 2 kilometre stretch with no cars allowed, with everything a visitor could imagine. If we had known, we'd have been wise to leave all of our shopping (except in Turkey) for this last leg of our vacation. Because the city will close down in a few days, there are plenty of deals to be made. When a vendor commented "you must be Canadians," we queried, "yes, how did you know?" He answered, "because Americans just pay the sticker price. Canadians like to barter and wait for a lower price." He was right.
Our days have consisted of a leisurely breakfast, then a few hours on the beach. Thankfully the atmosphere is a little more family orientated, so there are relatively fewer topless female sunbathers. After sunbathing we come back to our balcony for a baguette and cheese and there we sit to read and study (I have 5 messages to prepare for my upcoming conference in Halifax) in the afternoon sun.
The town all but shuts down for siesta time from 1-4 PM. At 7 or 8 PM we begin our stroll through the town (these small European towns always seem to have a Roman Catholic church and square in the centre of town). For dinner we sit in a sidewalk cafe, drink our bottled water and enjoy an English or Italian meal for about 5-6 euros each. We come back around 10 or so, but have to sleep with earplugs because the night life goes on for 6-7 more hours. We are delighted with our seaview room at the Hotel Maritim. I'm not sure why it is only rated with a 2-3 stars. We cannot imagine a more lovely way to wind down our once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
Tomorrow, Susan and I fly to London, enjoy dinner with friends, and then head for home to see our precious family on Wednesday, September 28.
This has been an unforgettable journey.
P.S. We disembarked from the Brilliance of the Seas in Barcelona on September 21 and arrived at the Canadian Consulate by 9:30 AM. Thankfully, a young woman named Claudia took good are of us. By 11:00 AM we were off to stroll La Ramblas (a famous shopping/nightlife stretch in downtown Barcelona) with our new temporary passports in hand.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Apparently, Calella (Spain) is one of the prime destination resorts in all of Europe. An old lighthouse, inaugurated in 1859, is situated high on a hill atop the entry to the town and we are told it is one of Calella's most familiar landmarks. Sharp-edged cliffs have been carved out by the ever crashing of the sea's ebb and flow. It's an awesome place.
Guess it is time for me to slap some more tanning lotion on Susan. I'll try to write more tomorrow, but that beach seems to be calling my name.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Big Ben is actually the name of the largest bell inside the clock tower, which forms part of the Houses of Parliament. The building is officially known as St. Stephen’s Tower and quit possibly houses the most famous clock face in the world. It is thought that the name Big Ben comes from Sir Benjamin Hall who was commissioner of works when the bell was first installed in 1858. The accuracy of the clock movement is controlled by the placing of old pennies in the mechanism. Big Ben weighs 13 tons, the tower is 320 feet high and the clock faces are 23 feet across. The 13 foot minute hand sweeps the length of our body every 5 minutes.
. . . Rick Steves is the best tour guide?
I’ve never met Rick, but if I did, I’d thank him personally for his extremely helpful guide book. We found some of the best restaurants in Paris, thanks to him. Some friends took us to dinner at this one place still sporting its 1920 décor. We had a wonderful 3 course meal (thank you Vern and Diane) thoroughly enhanced by the ambience. Thankfully, Rick’s book was not in our stolen backpack!
You can visit his web site at: http://www.ricksteves.com/
. . . there’s still a chip in the tunnel?
After a wonderful breakfast at another little café (thanks again Rick) we walked along the Seine River and just looked at the sights. We saw some gorgeous buildings and went inside Notre Dame Cathedral which we thoroughly enjoyed.
After leaving the cathedral, we continued our walk. We saw the hotel where Princess Di and Dodi spent their last hours together. Then we also went down into the tunnel where the accident happened. As a matter of fact, where the car hit the pillar in the tunnel it is still chipped and broken. They haven’t repaired that and I don’t know why they haven’t. Probably because it draws so many visitors, just like us.
. . . that the Eiffel Tower isn't the best place to view the City of Lights?
While most people think the Eiffel Tower is the best place to go to see Paris, there is another place even better. No, it’s not a famous tourist site either. It’s the department store Samaritaine. Ride the elevator to the top floor, then walk up the stairs to the roof terrace. There's a splendid café where you can sit and enjoy a breathtaking view.
Here’s a great web site with panoramic views of Paris.
So, those are my random thoughts. Did you know . . . I had hoped this would be a very short entry?
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Our last night in Paris was unforgettable. And not for any of the obvious romantic reasons associated with the City of Light. We were staying in a very small, old Parisian hotel, probably about 80 years old. The stairway leading to our tiny room on the third floor was dark and narrow. It was hot as anything and we opened the windows wide. Of course when you open your windows, right across the street are all the apartment buildings. You can see right into their homes and they can see into your place if your windows are open; but you can’t close your windows because it is so hot. So you keep them open and your lights off when you are in bed or they will watch you sleeping -- or trying to sleep. Anyway we tried to get to bed early but the French love to stay up late.
It was probably about 10:00 pm when we went to bed, but we couldn't sleep. The noise level was high. From about 11:00 onward, we could hear a young male, about 16 years old, talking on the phone as loud as can be. He screamed, laughed and so on until 2:00 in the morning and we had to be up by 4:00 so we were awake most of the night.
We got all packed up (most of it was packed up before we went to bed) and met our friends at their hotel, about a block away. Then we tried to hail a cab. That was difficult procedure. It took about ½ an hour. The taxis kept going by. I don’t know why they kept going by but they did. Anyway, we finally got a cab that took us to the bus depot. We got there about 6:30 and so we didn’t have a chance to eat. As a matter of fact, we didn’t eat until suppertime tonight.
At the bus depot we waited for another half hour for the bus and then in the darkness we drove off to the airport. We got there in about an hour and half and took an inexpensive flight to Spain. As a matter of fact, the cost was .99 Euros which was like $2.00 for the flight. But then you add on $150 for overweight luggage (note to self: travel lighter next time), the taxes and the busters to go the extra distance you are probably talking about a $200 flight.
The plane was rickety, small time, but we made it safely to our destination. After we landed we were herded onto another bus and we drove for 2 hours to get to Barcelona. By this time the rain was coming down. You would not believe the thunder and lightning. It was kind of a freak storm they’d had for a couple of days off and on, along with hail. Later we learned that it had been a tornado.
So we were at the bus depot and now we had to find our way to the metro. Of course no one speaks English (we are used to Mexico where a lot of the people speak English but here nobody speaks our language, nor seemed to care about us that much and that’s okay, we’re the foreigners!). We finally found our way on the metro and we went down where we had instructions to go to from the tourist people and found out we had gone in the wrong direction. So, we paid again and went back on the metro to go back where we came from. Meanwhile, we’re carrying along five pieces of luggage and we're running up and down these massive flights of stairs. About 50-60 of them! At one point, I leave Susan with the bags while I try and figure out where we are to go. When I get back, we discover that even in that time that she was standing there someone had taken one of our bags (yes, one of the ones we’d paid $100 for in overweight charges!).
It happened to be a backpack and it had a few toys we had bought for the grandchildren, my expensive sunglasses and our passports. For some reason we left our passports in that bag. Everything else, all our important papers, our tickets, etc. were in another bag. So the police there ran to and fro to try and find the guy, but they didn’t come up with anybody.
So, now we have no passports and we were worried we will not be able to board the ship the next day without them. The rain is beating down and it is kind of a depressing day. We took an hour to find the right underground and ended up some distance away from our hotel – didn’t know which direction to walk. We are dragging these five heavy suitcases along for several blocks only to learn we are going the wrong way. We are exhausted and somebody took pity on us and helped us get turned around and to the hotel.
At the hotel we begin to research what are we going to do now about our passports. They said we should phone the police first and we did that. We had to ask for English speaking people in Madrid, they translated for us, gave us an order number and then sent us down to the local police department. We walked over there but they were closed for some reason. We rapped on the door and finally somebody came and didn’t know what we were talking about. Once we got all that sorted out – about half an hour – they had heard from the English speaking department and gave us a file number saying we are now registered as being offended by a Spanish thief.
So then we proceeded to go back to the hotel and work on the Canadian Embassy. By this time it was 2:30 pm and they was closed at 1:00 so they forwarded us to the embassy in Madrid. They closed at 2:00 pm. For some strange reason, the embassies are only open for 2 to 2-1/2 hours during the day. We also phoned the cruiseship people. They weren’t in either. So, we didn’t know what to do. We walked around a bit and then came back to our room and finally got a hold of the cruiseship people. They told us that if we go to the Canadian Embassy they would give us a temporary passport which would get us through the cruise and the rest of our trip.
So we had to wait until the morning to do that. In the meantime, we decided to do some laundry. You would not guess what it costs to do a single load. We have enough clothes for 2 loads but when we learned it would be $40, we shoved everything into one big machine and only paid $22.
While that was on we went back to the hotel and contacted the cruiseship then finally at about 5:30 pm we were able to get some food. While at the restaurant, the thunder and lightning began to crash and the rain came tumbling down. It just poured as we sat there for about an hour. We were going to wait it out, but had to go back and get our laundry.
By the time we got back it was 6:30 and we were done in for the day. We had hoped to go to Las Ramblas which is a beautiful walking area in Barcelona but it was raining too hard. So we stayed in the hotel and got some rest, thankful our money wasn't stolen and the day was finally over!
Before we went anywhere the next day, we had to take care of our passports so we headed for the Canadian Embassy. Of course we had no idea how far it was so we got a taxi and wound around the city for about 20 minutes until we finally got to this remote place. Behind a locked gate was the Canadian Embassy where hardly anyone spoke English. It was about 21 Euros ($30) to get there by cab. Interestingly, when we came back, it took us about 1/3 of the time and only cost about 8 Euros.
I don’t think the guy that was the Consulate was there so another young girl sat in his seat and she didn’t know too much about anything. Cute, but didn’t know much about anything. And so she had to call somebody else whom she talked to, in Spanish, for about 15 minutes. When she hung up the phone she told us it was impossible to get a temporary passport. There was no way we could do it. She suggested we fly to Madrid (the centre for passports for Spain) but we couldn’t go until Monday. Well it was Friday now so we would have to sit for 2 days in Barcelona and then fly to Madrid and apply for new passports and once approved we could fly to Rome and meet the ship there. We would miss half the cruise but that’s the best we could do.
I said, "I’m sorry that’s not good enough." So from the embassy I called the cruiseship and asked if we could get on without a passport even though the Consulate had said it was impossible.
She told me, “Yes, you can do that Mr. Buzza. We will let you on with your photocopy and your driver’s license."
And the rest is, as they say, history.
We will deal with our temporary passports once we have disembarked the ship. All I can say, is I'm glad we didn't have to meet the ship in Rome. We would have missed some wonderful sights and shopping.
Then we hiked up the 137 Spanish Steps that the French had built to join theirs and the Spanish quarter during the Spanish occupation. After snapping several obligatory pictures, Susan and I wound our way by foot through the narrow streets to the Tiber River. We crossed over an old Roman bridge built almost 2000 years ago to the Vatican side and spent a bit of time chatting with several black-market salesmen. I did learn again that when you get them down to their lowest price and they cry from their pain of loss, there is still a better deal 30 feet down the street.
Earlier that morning the line to tour St. Peter's Basilica meant a 2 1/2 hour wait. By afternoon it was down to about 10 minutes. I noticed the door of Jubilee by the main entrance which is only opened every 25 years. During the year 2000 it remained opened and anyone who walked through it was supposed to receive absolution of their sins. That's why 2 1/2 million youth walked through that door during World Youth Week in 2000.
The 600 foot, largest church in the world was magnificent. It was completed in 1626 after 100 years of construction. The design was created by renaissance architects Raphael and Michelangelo. The tomb of St. Peter supposedly lays under the main alter, where only the pope himself is allowed to officiate in the Holy Eucharist. The Pieta (Mary holding her dead son Jesus), sculpted by Michelangelo when he was only 24, as well as the mosaics (that you would swear were paintings) are breathtaking.
I'm sure it takes the 1/4 million dollars a day that entry fees total to maintain the magnificent structure. In the colonnades, we saw the home of Pope Benedict and the window he appears at to bless the thousands of worshippers who wait every Sunday and Wednesday (the street hawkers also claim that each of their cheap trinkets is covered by his power-filled blessings).
I noticed also the obelisque of Emperor Caligula in the centre of the courtyard. He was the chief persecutor and murderer of Christians in 200 AD, but above his memorial stands a bronze cross and a remnant of the real cross (reportedly) of Jesus, which shows the victory of Christ over the Roman polytheistic powers.
Later that day, we gazed at Constantine's arch, commemorating his victory and the legalizing of Christianity in 323 AD. We owe a great debt to the emperor who made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire.
Beside the Arch, stands the 50,000 seat Colosseum. We walked where innumerable Christians had been tortured publicly, as well as where gladiators had fought to the finish for both their freedom and for reward. It is a moving and sober tribute to the genius as well as the emptiness of mankind.
Rome is a fascinating city. It is intensely religious and yet spiritually void. We looked, we were awed, we imagined what living in the distant past might have been like, we considered the brevity of our lives-then we went back to where we were before we arrived. It was an exhausting and exhilarating day in Rome.
On the ship Sunday before we arrived in Civitavecchia, just after passing between Sicily and Italy we passed the world's most active volcano, Stromboli. It rises like a broken cone out of the azure Mediterranean. Stromboli has erupted almost continually over the last 2 millenniums. In 2000 several people were killed. It was fuming smoke as always when we sailed by. What fascinated me were the several homes which had been built on the slopes. Why would a few hundred people choose to live on an active volcano? It reminded me of those who live their busy secular lives either ignorant or apathetic of the dangers of ignoring the imminent power of God.
Back to the ship we went, after our busy day of touring, to eat some more rich foods! Though a nap might have been better.
So, that's it for our last port. Soon we will be docking and saying goodbye to our floating home. This time next week we will be back in Canada -- loaded with wonderful memories and an empty wallet.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Susan and I disembarked from the Brilliance of the Seas on Friday to tour Athens (named after Athena the goddess of wisdom). Almost one half of Greece lives in this sprawling metropolis of 4 million.
Winding through busy streets down the Posidon (god of the sea) Road we finally reached the Acropolis (extremity of the city). History in Athens dates back to 3000 BC, but this marvellous structure was built in their hayday of city/state power in the 4th century BC. The Parthenon, sitting centre place is considered to be one of the most beautifully preserved ancient sites. It was first built as a temple for Athena in 438 BC.
When the ancient sages came up with a new system of government called democracy (power of the people), the rulers, who lived in the acropolis overlooking the city, were forced to live below with the people. The acropolis was then kept for the home of the gods.
From earliest history, the gods reigned in Athens. Greece was at first a matriarchal society, because the men went to sea, so the queen of all was mother earth. From her womb came fire, water, war, power, wisdom, etc. The 12 gods and goddesses all came from her. Everyone of their gods were kind, loving and happy. There was no fear in their worship because their gods were as fallible as humans were.
Zeus for example, had a weakness for pretty girls. He was often depicted as chasing a beautiful maiden and his wife Hera chasing after him (even on the Greek 2 euro coin Zeus in portrayed as a bull and sitting on his shoulder is Euro, a young girlfriend). Of course because Zeus was so promiscuous, that gave permission for every man to behave likewise.
No wonder when the Apostle Paul came to introduce Christianity to the Athenians in 50 AD, his message was largely rejected. Susan and I walked up the path that Paul walked from the Agora (marketplace) to the Acropolis where he preached his sermon about the unknown God. "I want to introduce Him to you," the apostle declared.
They listened for a while because they loved to hear new ideas but ultimately said no because Paul's God had standards and virtues which would limit their fun and freedom. Paul's God was to be feared. Their gods could be laughed at. When Christians finally began to proliferate they zealously tore down all the statues of gods on the acropolis, and made it a church. Ultimately icons of the Greek orthodox saints took their places.
The Acropolis was a lot larger than I had pictured it. The Parthenon and it both stand boldly overlooking the great city of Athens. Over the last 2,500 years it may have lost its power, but it still has a certain human glory to it. One story that impressed me about Greek history comes from the time when Greek leaders fought off the Persian army of about 2 million men. Persians had already burned Athens and stolen her treasures, but in 480 BC they were strategically routed by a comparatively small army.
That victory, which changed the course of history (Europe today would have been Asian rather than Greek influenced), led to a sense of we can do anything. Their feel-good position introduced the golden age of the great thinkers, artesians and builders of history.
And of course as it always does, their pride in the 3rd and 4th centuries BC led to their failure and defeat in the Roman times that followed. From the valley of the shadow of death comes success and power; from the dizzying heights of success comes pride and ultimate failure.
It is hard to believe we are nearing the end of our cruise and will be returning to Barcelona in two days. I hope you are enjoying my travelblog!
Thursday, September 15, 2005
In 3000 BC, Amazons (women warriors who killed their baby boys) built and named the city. Over the years various other conquerers settled up to Alexander the Great in the 3rd century BC. When Alexander died he gave 1/4 of his empire to each of his 4 generals. One took the Asia Minor territory and set up Ephesus as its capital.
The ruins which had been excavated over the past 100 years, are a magnificent window into the time when the apostle Paul walked the streets of Ephesus. Beginning his ministry in the 1,500 seat amphitheatre, Demitrius the silversmith started a riot to have him arrested.
When Susan and I walked through this same area today, we could understand the concern of Demitrius. Artemis the goddess of love and the temple of Artemis (Diana in Latin) were world famous. People travelled from all corners of the earth to see one of the seven wonders of the world and to worship at her shrine. Like today, the souvenir hawkers kept the economy of the entire city afloat. If Paul were to convince the city to become Christian the tourist based economy could have been bankrupted.
Like Pompeii, Ephesus, domineered by Artemis the goddess of love, seemed to be sex saturated. Pagan statues depicted sexual themes and the largest brothel was accessible from the library through a tunnel. Pointers embeded in the marble roadway directed seamen and tourists to the houses of prostitution.
The magnificent library (pictured to the left) which boasted 120,000 volumes was decorated with statues of goddesses of wisdom, knowledge and virtue. It has been restored with 40 percent actual stonework from the 1st century and 60% recently manufactured parts.
Our visit to Ephesus was well worth the long walk, the blazing heat and the $150.00 we invested. I wish we could have spent a whole day imagining life alongside the great apostle Paul.
Back to the Brilliance of the Sea, for lunch, and then we set out to shop in Kusadasi. This was the highlight of the trip for Susan. Leathers (cheap imitations of name brands), jewelry and carpets are their specialty. We had fun winding up the crowded streets through noisy bazaars and bartering with the very aggressive salesmen. They enjoyed the bargaining as much as the sales. We managed to buy 3 good silk leather jackets for under $400.00. How we're going to carry all this stuff home is anybody's guess.
Susan also wanted a pair of earrings that one lady vendor did not have. She said, "just wait a minute and I'll make them for you." And that she did. We came "home" a few hundred euros lighter, a few shopping pounds heavier and too tired to walk anymore. And besides, the sun had changed to clouds with the promise of rain.
We got back to the ship in time for afternoon coffee and strawberry shortcake. Wish you could have joined us!
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Watching the small white caps crash against the shore helped us feel a little cooler. And we thought the sandy beach, dotted with umbrellas, looked like giant mushrooms had invaded the island. As we watched the stunning sunset, I found myself thankful that God created such a picturesque place. I wish my imagination was just half a great as God's.
We learned that the most popular monument on the island (and one of the most photographed churches) is Paraportiani. It is five churches. It is believed that it was built gradually during the 16th and the 17th century. Over the years, normal wear and tear has contributed to the formation of the external changes to the building which has created a unique appearance.
Tomorrow we will dock at Kusadasi. Then next day we will stop in Athens then on to Santorini before heading back to Italy.
So, that's my brief post. We are well and safe.
Monday, September 12, 2005
I'm always awed by the power of such a sight. While the kids and animals hide, I love to watch as the lights brighten the dark sky. It is a reminder of just how powerful God is. Nothing is impossible for Him.
As I write this, we have just spent the day walking streets that are 2000 years old. I've been to Pompeii before, and my current article in the Tri-City News (and uploaded to our church website) talks briefly about my experience, but I was still wowed by it all. It is amazing to see how life was back then and their quest for, and pride in, power yet they were powerless when the mountain erupted.
We spent the afternoon in Naples chatting with the local residents. The people were friendly and the city has a beautiful view of the bay. The Greeks founded Naples back in the 7th century and much of the ancient design remains prevalent today. Susan I were amazed at the traffic flow along the narrow streets shared by pedestrians, motorbikes, and cars (not to mention fruit stands!). Everyone seemed to get where they were going, accident-free. At least while we were there. It has been a good day and we are really enjoying ourselves.
So, that's it for now.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Our two quick days in Paris were awesome and we hated to leave. And maybe we shouldn't have. While in Barcelona, our bag was stolen with our passports and we almost didn't make it on the cruise ship.
We've stopped at Monaco (only 1 square mile, but it seemed bigger) and unlike most of the passengers, we were not tempted to visit the casinos in Monte-Carlo. The next port was Nice. It seems that Italy is rich with culture, history and colour. And, of course food. Not just pizza, either. I've yet to try Crostini di fegato (chicken liver paste) or Fettunta (bread that you dip in olive oil). Somehow, the lasagna and raviolli taste nothing at all like what we enjoy in Canada! Must be because we are on vacation and all of our senses are heightened.
I promised Susan I would not work during this trip, but the sights and sounds have put my creative thought process into overdrive. I am eager to sit down and share with you some of the highlights of our trip. So, keep checking back.
P.S. We've heard of the devastation left in Katrina's wake and our hearts go out to those suffering. You are in our thoughts and prayers. I'm delighted to see how the Canadian government and Air Canada pitched in to help. As a peace-keeping nation our efforts are often not noticed. So it was great to see President Bush recognize and appreciate our contribution. Yeah, Canada!
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
We had a wonderful time in England and I hope to get access to a computer so I can give you some highlights. Thankfully, there were no bombs, threats or other terrorist activities . . . unless you count the terrible exchange rate. If my calculations are right, my poor Canadian dollar was worth less than 50 cents!
So, that's about it for now. I just wanted to let friends and family know we are safe and seeing all that we can. Please keep us in your prayers.
Monday, September 05, 2005
In the meantime, here's what the back cover says:
“I just want to be happy.”Like most authors, even though this is not my first book, I'm still excited about it's birth! I'm sure you'll be reading lots of comments about it over the next few weeks.
How many times have we heard that statement? And after all, don’t we have the same rights as the Americans, “to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”?
The fact is that millions of us are pursuing happiness with everything within us, and we’re still not finding it.
The Secret to Happiness reveals in a candid and easy to understand way how to find true and lasting happiness. The wonderful reality is that you already have the key in your hand. Read this book in a couple of hours to learn how to unlock the secret of happiness. You’ll be so glad you did.
Happy Labour Day!
Sunday, September 04, 2005
A friend of mine is in the last stages of cancer, and as I sat with him last week, it occurred to me that dying is like leaving the country for an extended period of time. An eternity, to be exact and we need to have our house in order.
There are the financial things to take care of like making sure the bills are current and the funds are there to cover what might still be owing; the spiritual things to take care of and then all the issues with family (saying good-bye, etc.).
In addition to the foregoing, I recommend that everybody takes care of three things before they leave:
1. Say thank you to your family
2. Say I am sorry to your family
3. Say I love you to your family
Sometimes, you may even need to say I forgive you to someone in your family.
With these steps, you kind of clear the air with family and friends before you go. That’s all part of the preparation to your final journey to heaven and we never know when it will come either.
While I am away, I do not know if I will have much access to the internet, but I will try and keep you updated on the sites and sounds of our exciting trip.
I think mentioned in an earlier post that we are going to England for 4 days, then on to Paris where we will meet some friends. We board a cruise for 12 days after that, which stops at numerous ports, and then continue on our travels. I won't bore you with the details now but hopefully, I'll have plenty of stories and illustrations representing our life's journey to share upon my return.