Sunday, December 30, 2018

Home of the Bouncing Urine--Nijmegen, Netherlands

Casa Grande, Arizona

I'm still having trouble finding the time to blog about our recent river cruise last month--The Romance of the Rhine and Mosel.  I'll just highlight a few things that occured.

Breakfast in the dining room is 7-9 every morning.  Even though we usually arrived at 7 we still didn't make it to the morning stretching at 8 am.  However, we were ready to follow our program director on a walking tour of Nijmegen.
Jorn kept reminding us that the Netherlands were the most beautiful country in the world.  Did I mention he was from Antwerp, Netherlands?  He also told us that the tallest people in the world were from the Netherlands.

As we followed him through the narrow cobblestone streets, he pointed out things along the way.  Here's a car for someone who is handicapped.

Jorn led us up some back steps to the town square.  He told us not to touch those metal triangles in the corner of the staircases.  When we stopped to talk to some small children (who knew English) in the playground, Jorn explained why we shouldn't touch those pieces of metal in the corner.  It seems that when the town folks go out and have too many beers, they would stop in the corner and urinate.  Of course, we're talking about men here.  Now it might also have to do with the fact that it now costs 50 cent in euros in some areas to use the restroom, if you can find one.  The town installed these so that if someone peed on one, they were sloped so that the urine would bounce back on themselves.  

These are the kind of things you can't learn about without a knowledgeable guide.

These towns are nothing like you'd see in the US.  Jorn knew all the details of how the buildings were constructed.  I wish I could remember what all those spires represented on the building.

St. Nicolas Chapel was built in the 11th century.  Now that's old!

The town square was beautiful and the cobblestone streets were so clean.

Jorn also showed us how the Dutch eat their favorite food, herring.

Jorn ordered a platter of herring so that everyone could try it.  I thought it was okay, but wouldn't be number one on a menu for me.

Jorn then talked about marijuana in the Netherlands and took us to a shop.  Because the shop was small, he went in to buy some and we listened from the street.  We could hear the exchange between Jorn and the shopkeeper because of the headphones and receivers everyone is supplied with during the trip.  I thought it was strange that you couldn't go in and smoke a cigarette at the tables in that shop but you could marijuana.

Some of the people returned to the ship and took the supplied bicycles out to tour around the town.  After all the walking and climbing steps we just went back to the ship and took a break in the lounge.  I didn't care that the bicycles were electric assisted.  It wasn't long before it was time for lunch, but we had enough time to play rummikub with Maureen and Russ.  

The ship departed for Remagen while we were walking to the dining room.  We sailed the rest of the day.  The ice cream party was fun, even though we were stuffed we still managed to enjoy it. 

Here's the view out our balcony as we sailed.

We sat on the deck for awhile and just watched the scenery.  There was a gallery tour going on, but we've done those before.  I'll blog the next stop at a late date.

Friday we spent the day with John and Karen Knoll.  She reminded me that the White Elephant thrift store is only open until noon so we headed out early so we'd arrive in time to visit it.  It's a favorite place to visit when we are in Green Valley.  The parking lot was packed but we managed to park in a nearby parking lot.

Karen had been wanting to try an Italian restaurant at the golf course.  It changed management and is now called Dominick's.  

Bill could only eat half of his Italian sandwich, but the rest of us cleaned our plates.

It was great visiting with John and Karen as we hadn't seen them since the Escapade in Sedalia.

Yesterday, we visited with Vern and Polly. 

We mentioned that we want to do a trip to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.  Vern brought out his souvenir from when he served in the military.  He had no desire to return to Vietnam.  If you see him, ask to see his cigarette lighter.

Turtle Safely....... 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Our River Boat Cruise continues to Kinderdijk, Netherlands

Casa Grande, Arizona

Those of you who read yesterday's blog are probably wondering where I ordered the Christmas dinner.  Now you might want to record this date in history as I actually cooked the prime rib, green beans with tomatoes, scalloped potatoes, rolls, broccoli salad, and deviled eggs.  I didn't even burn the rolls.  For dessert I made pumpkin rolls.  Everyone that knows me, knows I hate to cook but it was actually fun to cook for the Schoolcraft's and Morey's.

Okay, I promised I'd finally get down to blogging about last month's river boat cruise.  Our next stop was Kinderdijk, Netherlands after we sailed from Antwerp.  

Here's a few facts that were published in our daily news    After a massive flood in 1421, someone on the dyke saw a cradle floating in the floodwaters.  As it came closer, a cat was seen jumping side to side to keep the water out--inside with the cat was a baby sleeping soundly. This legend became the foundation for the English folktale, "The Cat and the Cradle,"  and gave the city its  name, which translate to "children's dyke."

     The iconic 19 windmills of Kinderdijk were a  
     rudimentary pumping system that helped to keep the  
     land behind the dykes dry, even though it is lower than 
     the water level of the      river.  These 19 windmills in one place make for the highest concentration of windmills in a single area in the world.

Shortly after breakfast our program director led us on a short walk to the windmills which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  

These windmills are massive but very easy to hand turn them.

The interiors were furnished very nicely.

Our first glimpse of the wooden shoes.

You can see Jorn at the front door.  There is also a back door on the other side.  The families that live here seem to enjoy it.

Cooking was done in this little out house due to the fear of a fire.

All of the families had a vegetable garden.  You might wonder what the weather was like.  The forecast was a high of 55 and a low of 44. When you consider the latitude is about the same as St. John's, Newfoundland it wasn't bad.

After our tour of the windmill we walked over to a dock and took a small enclosed boat.

Our local guide told us how the people live and socialize.  The windmills are positioned a certain way to communicate with the others.  

After our boat ride we walked the short distance to the MS Rhapsody as she was sailing again at noon.  Lunch was at 12:30 instead of the usually 1 pm.

We docked in Willemstad at 2:15 and immediately got on the bus to depart for the Delta Works.

I wasn't exactly sure what the Delta Works were other than a flood control.

Once again we had a local guide to explain everything.  I might mention that the Delta Works stayed open longer for us.

Our itinerary explained the Delta Works this way:

Originally, Zeeland was a collection of islands--easy prey to the sea.  Inhabitants still remember the destructive tides that flooded the islands in 1953 and claimed the lives of 1,800 people.  Since then the gigantic Delta Works have prevented a recurrence.  Now the islands are connected and protected by a series of dams, dikes, and bridges.  This tour shows you several ingenious technical achievements designed over the past 65 years, giving you an impressive idea of how the Dutch have claimed, reclaimed, and protected their homeland from the threat of the sea.

By the time we returned to the ship it was dark, but what a welcome back we received.  Sergio, the musician was on the upper deck playing the saxophone.  The staff greeted us with hot wine and hot towels.  

We were just in time for the 6 pm cocktail hour with our nightly port talk at 6:45.  We were told about the next days adventure.  7 pm was dinner followed by dancing for some.  Bill and I were ready for bed.  It had been a wonderful busy day.  Next stop will be Nijmegen, I'll continue the blog tomorrow.

Turtle Safely.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

In Answer to the Christmas Cards

Casa Grande, Arizona
I've had numerous calls, emails, and texts from my readers that I never posted anything from our river cruise on the Romance of the Rhine & Mosel.  You asked for it, here's an abbreviated post.  Of course, I've already forgotten a lot of the information we were given. 

Our flight from Phoenix via Denver and Toronto had a few hitches resulting in sprinting through the airport to make our connections but we arrived in Antwerp on the morning of November 11.  One of the places I wanted to visit was closed because of the holiday but we wouldn't have had enough time to visit it anyway.  

Jorn, our program director, took  us on a walking tour of Antwerp after breakfast.  It was raining, but not hard enough to use our umbrella. 

The shopkeeper of the chocolate shop came out and gave everyone samples of their chocolates.

It didn't take long before we were enjoying Jorn.  He had a way of telling you the "whys" of things we saw.

After showing us this keyhole, he told us this was for the drunks that came home and couldn't find the hole for the key. Your key naturally falls down into the correct spot.

Bill and I walked back the few blocks to the ship to have lunch.  We had some free time to rest or go back and explore the city on our own.  Naturally, there was too much to see, so we'll rest later (in 15 days).  

The oldest wooden escalator in Europe was right next door to the boat so we decided to take a ride on it.  It is free and we saw people taking their bicycles on it.  

At the bottom of the escalator was a big clean tunnel where families would be walking.    

I thought it was strange that people took their bicycles up the escalator when there was an elevator, but people in Belgium are different. 

The tunnel took you under the river.  The wind was blowing and I stayed here long enough for a picture of me with our river cruise boat on the other side of the river.  It didn't take long to walk back under the river in through the tunnel.

It was time to get back to the ship as it sailed to Kinderdijk at 5 pm. Looks like the weather is clearing. Just enough time to enjoy the lounge before the port talk for the following day and of course followed by dinner. 

I'll blog about Kinderdijk later but wanted to put in this picture of our Christmas Day with our friends, George and Linda and Harry and Carlena.  We enjoyed the day so much.

Turtle Safely,.......

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Two Airports--One Very Lively and One Dead

Casa Grande, Arizona

Friday was a very long day for us.  We had tickets for Trump's Rally and had a few stops to make before we went to Mesa airport.  We were going to stop at Grimaldi's for lunch and couldn't find a parking spot so ended up at a Arriba's.  Lunch wasn't great but we wanted to get something fast and head over to the airport.  
As I turned into the airport road I was surprised that we didn't see any signs or police.  This was about 2:30.  The doors were to open at 3:30 for the 6:30 rally.  

It took us about 15 minutes in line to get to the parking lot.  They started a new section that was very close to the road.

You can't describe the lines to anyone that wasn't there but it took us 30 minutes to walk to the back of the line.  Neither Bill nor I like crowds, but this was so different.  Everyone was very polite.  No pushing or shoving.  Everyone was excited to see the President.  

I can't believe we stood in line over 3 hours, but it went quickly.  Everyone was very patient.  We inched along for awhile and then the line started moving a little faster.  As it turned out the hangar was full, but the outside of the hangar had a big screen TV.  

Kudos go out to everyone that was involved in putting this event together.  It was well organized.  I can't even begin to imagine what was involved on such short notice.  Even though there were no trash receptacles until you got near the hangar there wasn't one piece of trash anywhere.

The TV stations reported different estimates of the crowd.  One said 40,000 and then another said Mesa PD estimated 20,000.  It was an experience of a lifetime and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Yesterday we had reservations for the a tour of the Pinal County Airpark.  If you've ever traveled from Tucson to Casa Grande on I 10 you've passed it.  We've always wanted to take a tour so when they had the open house and tours we signed up.

I was surprised when we pulled up to the Flightline Grill that the parking lot wasn't completely full.  Our tour was scheduled for 11:30 and we had planned to stop for lunch afterwards.  Were we ever surprised to find out that the free tour included lunch.  

There were about 8 people in our group.  We were driven out to the boneyard in a van.  After all the walking yesterday we were pleased that we were driven around.

The Marana Army Airfield began in 1942 as a training site for pilots and the first class graduated in 1943.  In 1948 the War Assets Administration quit claimed the airport to Pinal County.  In the 50's it was once again used to train pilots.  In 1974 Evergreen Helicopters leases the facility until 2012.  The following year, Pinal County started managing the airport.

This TWA airplane is the oldest one at the park.  It has been sitting there for 21 years.

A large percent of the aircraft are recycled back into planes.

The engines are removed first and then it's a waiting game to see if it is worth waiting around for the metal prices to go up and when to scrap the rest of the plane.  

I thought we have seen a lot of different airlines in our travels, but I now  know there's a lot more out there.  There were 83 planes at the airpark yesterday but they have had up to 257.

We didn't go close enough to the AH-64 Helicopters to get a photo.  

After the tour we were invited inside to get more to eat and view the photos of the airpark.  We found it interesting that the CIA used the airpark.  I'm sure a lot of things were discussed in the bar.  

We were given hats and insulated coffee mugs as souvenirs.  It was a great tour, and we plan to return next year.

Turtle Safely..........

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Our Final Days

Casa Grande, Arizona

The Royal Yacht was on our agenda for our final day in Edinburgh.  This was my favorite place we visited while in Scotland.

The Royal Yacht Britannia sailed over 1,000,000 miles around the world.  Probably the most famous use of the the yacht was for the honeymoon of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

I realize I've forgotten a lot of the details but this was where the guards slept.  

Her Majesty, the Queen had many gifts given to the Royal Family.

There was a lot of lavish entertaining on the yacht.

While the rooms were very functional, I was surprised that they were so modest.  The Queen actually has a single twin bed.

You would see a nice cozy room.

Right next to a very nice modest room, you'd see a grand ballroom style. Modesty to elegance.

This is the Queen's office where she worked while she was at sea.

We had headsets for this tour.  Some of the group had  enough time to have tea in the Royal Deck Tea Room.  I'm sorry to say, we were still looking at rooms and didn't have enough time.

The laundry was amazing and I wish I could remember the facts and figures about how much they did.  It was said that some of the personnel changed uniforms up to 9 times a day.

The Royal Family went to shore in this craft.

I have more photos of the Royal Yacht, but I promised myself I'd finish this blog.

Our second tour included a visit to Palace of Holyrood House.

"It's carefully designed addition over the centuries have made it one of the most admired buildings in the British Isles.

The palace was completed in 1501 and was the site of the marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley in 1565, and of much subsequent intrigue.  Less than a year later, the jealous Darnley had Mary's private secretary murdered here in her presence."  

We arrived back to our hotel in time to pack our luggage before our farewell dinner.  This was the best farewell dinner in all the 10 trips we've taken with this company.

Of course we couldn't leave Scotland with hearing a piper play the bagpipes.

This wasn't just any piper.  John told us he was a member of the Royal Guard and also the police department.

He answered all kinds of questions about the plaid, the hats, and badges.  No one asked what was under the kilt.

Virginia assisted John, the Piper, for bringing in the Haggis ceremony.  If there was one thing we learned on this trip it was to like Haggis.  

This trip wouldn't have been nearly as good, without our excellent program director, Anita Mclaughlin.

The evening lasted much later than the usual farewell dinners.  I think there was a lot of wine consumed.  Some of the group had to leave the hotel as early as 3 am for their flights home.  We were lucky that we didn't leave until 7:30.  Hurricane Florence was expected to have 80 mph winds just as everyone's flights were leaving.  

We were about an hour late leaving Edinburgh as the planes were having trouble with the winds landing in Heathrow.  Our flight was quite rough taking off and landing but other than that no problems.  We had to change terminals in Heathrow but everything went smoothly.  In all of our travels, it was the first time we've ever had to go through customs in Phoenix.  The Global Entry card is worth every penny.

We are now less than a month before our next journey.  I hope it's as great as this trip was.

Turtle Safely......