Wednesday, September 30, 2015

If it’s Tuesday then it must be Belgium, Si?

Port of A Coruña, Spain

Since we crossed the waters from the UK we have been playing a game of country-ping pong, bouncing in and out of Spain and Portugal almost at will. If you take a look at the map you will see how Spain sort of wraps its arms around Portugal in a most loving embrace.

A Coruña, Spain

Perhaps once it was Portugal’s neck that Spain had it arms around? Spain seems to have a way of getting under the skin of smaller countries that it borders, case in point Gibraltar, but that will be for a post for a few days from now.

Yesterday in A Coruña, Spain and today in Leixões, Portugal I have enjoyed the quietude of a semi-deserted ship. For people like myself it is a time second only to sea days for pure enjoyment.

Leixões, Portugal 

I think I had an epiphany on this trip; it is not the destination that is important rather it is the journey.

When I was just seventeen my mother had my baby shoes waiting for me on my dresser when I returned home from my very first trip abroad. Beside them a little handwritten note… “Vagabond Shoes”.

I don’t think she realized how much that image and message would fuel my soul.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Moonlight Through the Porthole.

Back when I was a teeny-tiny child I remember over-hearing a torrid story about actor Errol Flynn and an alleged affair his had aboard his yacht that was anchored off Catalina Island.

The part about the affair didn’t interest me much, I was a child after all but I remember they kept talking a lot about the moon. This intrigued me. I think the story went this way…

‘She said’ – clearly remembering the night with the dashing actor, the moonlight pouring through the porthole.

Time passed and a trial began. Again the moonlight was mentioned. But this time in the hallowed halls of justice “truth” came into balance.

It seems on that night in question, there on the yacht owned by actor Errol Flynn and anchored in the calm bay of Catalina Harbor ~ the truth could finally be told:

It was a moonless night on that particular night in question.

Case closed.

However that was not the case last evening in my MS Rotterdam stateroom. The moonlight literally flowed through the porthole. As for Errol Flynn, he was nowhere to be found.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Southampton Peaceful and Quiet on Sunday, September 27, 2015

Southampton 2015

On this Sunday when we sailed into the Southampton harbor is was warm and quiet. A laid back day and our view was of families enjoying sail boating and parks and relishing that last day of rest before returning to the work schedule on Monday.

But ninety-seven years ago when my uncle, Sgt. John Guess, Jr. was in this harbor it was a total different view. The water teemed with activity as ships waited outside in the channel to get in to the Southampton docks and on the ferries that waited for nightfall to take their soldiers across the channel and to finally step on French soil.

“On the morning of July 18, 1918 we woke with five U.S. destroyers surrounding our ship the Olympic as we made our way on this last leg of the trip. By evening and under soft light of the moon we could make out Land’s End on the port side as the ship worked its way through the ships graveyard. Morning found us at the entrance to Southampton where we waited silently for the rise in tide that would take us up the channel and to the piers.
       Oddly we were arriving at the exactly same point that the historic Mayflower left from for her voyage to America. Across the channel were boats filled with other members of the ninety-first division already making their way across the English Channel to France.
       We would remain onboard ship for one more day before disembarking the following morning for the ferryboats that would make the night run across the English Channel. Each ferry had us packed in like sardines for the trip that lasted from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. The weather turned bitterly cold and windy and was quite miserable as we made our way to our French destination, the city of Le Havre. “

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Another "Dam" City - This one is Rotterdam

After spending the last few weeks in small cities and towns Rotterdam was an eye opener when I pulled open my curtains this morning. It was nice to see the sunshine as well.

And of course a day would never be complete without some ship humor. I am not even sure what this means but it made me laugh out loud.

To the best of my knowledge I have never smoked whilst bunkering... but please don't hold me to this claim.

As you were folks.

Docked at Rotterdam, The Netherlands

For all of you facts and figures guys here are some excerpts from the official Cruise Log that was passed out to passengers last night.

First here is a little about the ship herself. The MS Rotterdam is 780 feet in length with a width of 106 feet. She carries 1,229 guests and a crew of 601. Her maximum speed is 25 knots.

Since my boarding the MS Rotterdam in Harwich, England on Sunday, September 13 and docking this morning, Saturday, September 26 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands we have traveled a total of 3,382 nautical miles and have visited the following Norwegian ports: Eidfjord, Alesund, Tromso, Alta, Narvik, Molde and Begen.

Most days have been cloudy with either a fresh southerly or easterly breeze accompanied with slight seas. The log however has recorded one day at sea as moderate seas and near gale force easterly winds.

If you really want to get a good idea of how the sea is performing, the best place to go in up on the deck with the pool. Take a nice deck chair as close to the edge of the pool as you can possibly get.  Now if you say sit there for an hour or so and your book or body does not get splashed with water consider it a ‘slight sea’ day.

On the other hand if you suddenly find yourself drenched in pool water, without seaweed of course, this is what we call ‘moderate sea”. If perchance the slosh is more like a tidal wave; Let me ask you, “Why are you not in the bar, safe – sound – tipsy?”

Are you curious about Land and Nautical Miles? As luck would have it our Cruise Log gives a nice little history. And if you can remember this little tale you will be able to shine the next time this discussion comes up.

“The Mile”

It comes to us from the Romans, who had a distance of a thousand (“Mille”) double-steps. A Roman Mile was just over 1400 meters long. Later, when the Normans conquered England, William I divided up the country, other than crown lands, amongst the nobles who supported his adventures. 
The common people living on these “manors” were required to give their services free for three or four days a week to the Lord of the manor in return for such privileges as having a cottage and garden, grazing rights on common ground, and the right to collect as much firewood from the Lord’s forests as they were able. 
As time went on, however, the people began to commute their services by paying rent. The yeoman farmer developed and the manorial lands were slowly broken up. To establish ownership, some unit of measurement was required. 
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, an Act of Parliament was introduced which stated that one-mile should be 5,280 feet in length.

At sea, however, the term “miles” has a mathematical basis and the nautical mile is the length, in fact, of one minute of angle of latitude. 
As the earth is not a perfect sphere, but flattened at the poles, this minute of area varies between 6,046 feet at the Equator to 6,108 feet at the poles; a mean of 6,076 is thus actually used.  ~ From the Cruise Log of MS Rotterdam, September 2015

Dancing With The Stars At Sea - Finale

Number one in our hearts, our dinner table companion, Liz, danced her heart out with professional dancer, Sasha, but she did not capture a go at the mirror ball trophy in December.  Still she gracefully danced the waltz and made us all so proud of her performance.

Liz and Sasha

Edwardo from Mexico captured first place in the Jive Dance

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Come to Bergen, Norway ~ It’s a Scream

Here we are our last stop in Norway.

Bergen, if I remember correctly is the second largest city in Norway after Oslo. The city became prominent way back in the 12th century with its dry cod trade and by golly they are still fishing today.

Many of the old wooden building have been restored and offer a charm not often seen in many European towns today. 

In addition to wood the restored stone castle, Bergenhus Festning, can be seen and is more than 700 years old. It is complete with dungeon, royal hall and defensive hall.

The large and busy harbor reminds you that Bergen is still an active and important seaport yet today. I love the “tumble” of houses that gathers around and hugs the shoreline of so many Norwegian towns.

There is much to see in Bergen certainly worth more than just a days visit, especially if you are a music lover where you could get out of town a bit and visit the home of Edward Grieg.

I was not disappointed in what I have seen of this vast country. Certainly the people of the western coastal areas are a hardy lot. I would definitely put Norway on my ‘return to’ list.