Category Archives: Personal
I think we’re about ready for Christmas. All three of our grandchildren were with us a couple weekends ago and we let them hand-make all the Christmas ornaments for our tree this year. Marci bought the crafts supplies and let the kids go crazy. We also hung a few ornaments on the tree that our children (their parents) made when they were little. While we don’t do this every year, it’s a great tradition that makes decorating the tree a lot more fun and meaningful.
Well, this song has special meaning for me today.
Funny, I don’t really think of myself as that old, but my body gives me a reality check pretty much every day.
A few other 64-year-olds: Steve Martin, Rod Stewart, Pete Townsend, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Tom Sellick, Lou Dobbs, Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, Priscilla Presley, Diane Sawyer.
We flew home from London on Saturday night and I’ve been a bit jet lagged and real busy trying to get caught up. We had a great time indulging ourselves on the cruise and the bathroom scale proves it. I gained 10 pounds which isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Back to the low carb diet for me!
I posted about 200 random photos (of the more than 800 I took) on the web. Just click here to see them. I may add a few more and some captions soon so that you can figure out what you’re looking at. When you take pictures of scenery, it’s hard to tell Amsterdam from Copenhagen after you get home.
Yesterday we arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark and spent most of the day exploring the city which has some very interesting sights to see. There are lots of tourists, shops and crowded streets. We took a little tour this morning and our guide pointed out some huge churches, mentioned that the Lutheran Church is the official state church and further commented “You might assume that Denmark is a very religious country with a state church and so many churches all over the city but that’s not the case. We are not a religious country. The only religion that is on the increase here is Islam. In fact there is quite a controversy right now regarding a mosque that is going to be built in Copenhagen.”
It truly is sad to go into some of these huge, very ornate church buildings in Copenhagen and see that they have just become tourist attractions and restaurants. I sometimes wonder if the same thing is going to happen in the U.S. if we fail to pass our faith on to our children and grandchildren.
But Copenhagen is a beautiful city and again, there just isn’t time to see it all even though we’ve had two days here have been to most of the tourist attractions (palaces, castles, cathedrals, downtown areas and even the Tivoli Gardens theme park which was Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disneyland.) We’ve taken lots of pictures and when I get home I’ll post a few more here on the web.
We are finished visiting ports (we stopped in seven altogether-Amsterdam, Helskinki, Stockholm, Warnemunde, St. Petersburg, Tallin and Copenhagen) and now we cruise tonight and tomorrow back to England (Harwich) and fly home Saturday from London. We’ve seen a lot of incredible sights and we’ve had a great time with Mary and Gary and their friends who are now our friends. It’s going to be hard to return to normal life without all the good food and people to wait on us hand and foot but I guess that’s what vacations are for. We are amazed and grateful that we actually got to have a real one this year.
The last few days have been incredible. Saturday and Sunday we visited St. Petersburg, the former capitol of Russia. It’s a fascinating city with a lot of history which I discovered I don’t really know much about. The city is beautiful with canals all through the city, much like Amsterdam and Venice. We took a little canal cruise on a longboat to see some of the sights and take a lot of pictures.
The highlight of this trip happened yesterday (Sunday) with our visit to the Hermitage Museum, which is located in one of the many palaces built here by the Russian czars. Like the Louvre in Paris, it is home to some of the world’s greatest art treasures. Ever since Henri Nouwen told us about his pilgrimage to the Hermitage to study and meditate upon Rembrandt’s “Return of the Prodigal Son,” I’ve always wanted to see it myself but never dreamed I ever would. But there it was, just hanging on the wall of the gallery. It was stunning in its beauty and because it has been somewhat iconic for me over the years, it was a spiritually moving experience to see it so close, so big. I wondered what it must have been like for Henri to sit there in that room and gaze upon it for several days in a row and let it speak to him.
We only had a short time in the museum and we had to return to the ship on time so we had to scurry through several other galleries (the Hermitage is HUGE) which had Picassos, Monets, Renoirs, Cezannes, even works by Leonardo da Vinci hanging on the wall and we had to just zip past them without even taking a look. Somehow this experience reminded me of much of my life. Just too busy to stop and enjoy all the beauty all around me. Still, I’m grateful I got to enjoy what I did.
We left St. Petersburg last evening and arrived in Tallin, Estonia this morning (Monday). I don’t think we had even heard of this place until we were invited to come on this cruise but we walked all over its cobblestone streets today. There are probably lots of beautiful places like this we haven’t heard of.
While we did get some rain in St. Petersburg, the weather has been good and the seas have been flat and calm so far although I think that’s changing right now as I write. We’re now on our way to Copenhagen, Denmark and I can feel the ship moving a little more than usual. I may need to take a little Dramamine tonight just in case.
Along with the incredible sights, we’ve been doing some world-class eating and drinking on this trip. We had an amazing meal last night with the group we are traveling with (my sister Mary, her husband Gary and some of their friends) at the best restaurant on the ship. Gary and his friend Robert are wine experts and brought some nice bottles to share. We are definitely going to come back from this trip a few pounds heavier.
I haven’t posted more because the internet access is expensive on board the ship, but hopefully this will keep you updated on where we are and how we’re doing. We’ve been concerned about the hot weather and the fires back home, especially since they are so close to Mary and Gary’s home in La Canada. But we pray every day for our family and friends and hope all of you are doing well.
Just got back from a fascinating tour of Helsinki, Finland and some of the surrounding countryside. I’ve learned quite a bit about these Nordic countries that I didn’t know before. I’ve always heard of Finland (like during the Winter Olympics) but otherwise, haven’t paid much attention to it. Despite their long and cold winters, the people here seem to be very proud of their country and wouldn’t live anywhere else.
We also visited Sweden a couple days ago (Stockholm) and enjoyed our short stay there. We had some vodka in an ice bar (everything inside is made of ice, including the glasses you drink from) which was very cool (pun intended). Stockholm is a very picturesque city, especially the old part of town with its cobblestone streets and such.
These have been whirlwind tours so far, only a day in each city. We’ve been typical tourists on this trip, riding on tour buses and walking around town clicking away on our cameras and following guides with their number signs held up so we won’t get lost. We probably look pretty silly (like tourists back home) but I’m sure we are important to their economy so they seem to treat us nice.
Speaking of economy, everything is very expensive. The dollar is not strong compared to the euro and other foreign currency, so we’re unable to contribute much to the local economies over here. Just taking pictures and enjoying the sights.
The weather has been nice so far-no rain and temperatures in the 60′s and low 70′s. From what we heard, the last cruise had awful weather (very rainy) so we’ve been lucky.
We’re continuing to enjoy this trip very much which has been a gift to us in more ways than one. There are times when I don’t feel that we belong here (most of the people who “cruise” are people with a lot of money and expensive tastes) but we’re making the most of it-pretending that we fit right in.
Tonight we travel to St. Petersburg, Russia. I’m looking forward to our visit to the Hermitage Museum where Rembrandt’s “Return of the Prodigal” is on display. I have a print hanging in my office at home so it will be amazing to see the real thing.
Marci and I left Harwich, England on Saturday on the cruise ship Constellation and woke up Sunday in Amsterdam, Holland. We did a walking tour of the city under clear blue skies and also a boat right through the many canals which run throughout the city (much like Venice in Italy). City highlights included the Anne Frank house, Rembrandt’s home, the Heineken brewery and the famous red light district. The “coffee shops” in Amsterdam are actually marijuana dealers (legal here).
Yesterday was a day at sea (very relaxing) and this morning we arrived in Warnemunde, Germany, a popular resort town in the north of Germany on the Baltic Sea. We did a some sightseeing and learned a lot about this part of the world which was once part of the old East Germany (GDR) before the Berlin Wall came down. Warnemunde has a nice beach and the weather was warm so there were a lot of people sunbathing-in the nude. They let it all hang out here (literally.).
We also visited Rostock, a historic German village on the Warnow River. The beautiful cathedral in the center of town is-like many in Europe-nothing more than a tourist attraction now. It seems sad to me that the churches who once occupied these buildings somehow lost their vitality and failed to pass their faith on to future generations. Churches in the U.S. are not immune to this.
We’re been having a lot of laughs with Gary and Mary and their friends who also came on this trip. We are relaxing, eating too much and generally being overindulged. Next stop, Stockholm, Sweden.
Tomorrow Marci and I fly to London for a cruise to northern Europe with my sister Mary and her husband Gary. We’ll be visiting places like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin, St. Petersburg. Just unbelievable. We never thought we’d ever get to do something like this but we have been blessed by a loving family. I’ll try to post some pictures and fun stuff if I have access to the internet while we’re on the trip.
I finally managed to take a day off from writing yesterday to do a little fishing. My son Corey went with me. Shortly after we left, two of the four tires on my boat trailer went flat and I had to get them fixed before we could get out on the water. But we finally did, headed for the Coronado Islands and caught three yellowtails and a couple of calico bass. Normally Corey outfishes me but this time I got to gloat a little bit.