Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cunard's Queen Elizabeth

When I was 10 years old, my family moved from Hampton, Virginia to Kelsterbach Germany.  At that time it was West Germany.  When we moved, we drove to New York City and boarded RMS Queen Elizabeth.  They loaded up our car on the ship too.  We sailed to LeHarve, France where the family and the car got off the boat, and off we drove to our new home.

This was a magical time.  I have pictures at the bottom.

Imagine my surprise when we arrived in Athens and docked next to our ship was the new Queen Elizabeth.  Here are pictures I took.

Go to the bottom for my pictures and comments on the original RMS Queen Elizabeth.

Here is a picture of the original RMS Queen Elizabeth that I found on the internet.  To my young eyes it was the most exquisite sight I had ever seen (till the SS France on the way back 2 years later).  The ship has 2 classes, first and tourist, and we were in first class.  I could not find pictures of the rooms.  It was like living in a fairy tale.  I had so much fun and never forgot this experience! 

We dressed up every night to go eat as a family in the dining room.  Everything was very formal.

This was one of the lounges.

Here is the movie theater.  I remember going in there and watching Cleopatra several times.  I know another movie was An American in Paris.  The movie started my life long obsession with Paris.

We spent a lot of time in the swimming pool.  Since it is cold crossing the Atlantic, the first class pool was in the bottom of the ship where it would not slosh as much and was warmer.  The tourist class pool was on the top of the ship.  There was only 1 other family with kids that we would see at the pool.  I remember there were a lot of activities for the kids.

To the Ship, Dubrovnik, Corfu and Santorini

We left Trieste early and jumped on our train.  We had first class tickets but there was not a first class car.  The conductor told us to get a refund at the train station when we got to Venice.  Which we did.  It ended up being 10 Euros a piece to go from Trieste to Venice.  Can't beat the trains.  Of course we had luggage which  is not good in second class.  We had our bags piled in 2 seats and the train was packed. 

We got to Venice and had to go over a bridge to get to the people mover.  We made a wise decision to pay a guy to haul our bags since the bridge had steps.  When we got to the other side, we bought people mover tickets for a Euro.  It dumped us off at the ship.  We checked our bags then went to the check in which was very efficient.  Next we went to the cafĂ© for lunch.  It was cafeteria style and the food was good.  Bill especially liked having several small portions of desserts.

We were allowed to go to our room at 1 and I unpacked our backpacks.  We had to wait awhile for our bags but met our steward Angelica.  She was fantastic.  We had a lovely balcony room which we used a lot.  We had lots of storage.  When our bags got there, I send our dirty clothes off the laundry and unpacked the rest.  Bill discovered the English movie channel and ESPN.  We saw more soccer and poker than we wanted since football games and the world series happened in the middle of the night.

We went to dinner where we sat with 4 other couples every night.  We sat with the same Dane's 3 times and several people twice.  We did a 6:30 seating which was perfect for us.  The food was good and lots of choices.

Our first stop was Dubrovnik, Croatia.  We fell in love with the place.  The water was beautiful but there was no sea life in the Mediterranean.  Overfishing then pollution from boats killed it.  We were so disappointed.  The only boats out were pleasure craft.  No fishing boats to be seen.  Most boats were just on docks.

We went to a sidewalk cafe and drank very expensive drinks.  Bill got a coke and I ordered Orangina.  One of my childhood drinks from Germany.  It was just as good as I remembered and Bill liked it too.  We tried to find it in Greece and no one had any clue as to what I wanted.

We took pictures of an old fort but just walked through the town.  Our waiter noticed our binoculars and said he raises birds.  He told us to go to a park several blocks away.  We thought we found the park, but it was wooded.  We ran into some hikers trying to find their way out, so we told them how to get to the road and they told us where the woods were.  It was a lovely time.
Here are some pictures of a canon and a lovely moon!
Corfu was our next stop.  It was also nice.  It had an old fort with a university in the middle of it.  We walked around looked at the birds, listening to the music from the classes. 

The fort is old and the steps were cool!

 Lovely sunset!!

The next stop was Santorini.  Santorini is all on top of a hill.  To get there you take this lift!  It was very fun, but a monopoly.  You either paid 6 Euros to go up and walk the path that would have killed us.

The architecture was stunning.  At the top of the hill is miles of shops.  We did find some nice things to buy.  Bill got a CD of Greek music.


 Santorini at night! We would just eat on the ship and go ashore until our legs couldn't stand it any longer!  We ended up taking lots of naps.

Santorini is just beautiful!!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Honeymoon - Flight and Italy

Last February I decided I was going to Greece and Bill could come if he wanted.  I told him I found a cruise out of Venice and that way we could go to Trieste and see Paul before the cruise.  Meanwhile we decided to get married.  So it turned into the honeymoon.
Then Paul's mom needed surgery in England so he set us up with Enrico and Emily.  More on that later.
We got to the airport early since we never know how long the bus will take from parking, how long the line is to check bags and how long the lines are in security.  It was Tuesday, and we were picked up at our car and taken immediately to Terminal E.  No line for checking bags or security.  But our gate was not by Jamba Juice.  So I parked Bill with the bags and went to the other end of the earth to Jamba Juice and then got us Cheese Enchiladas at Papasitos. 
Our flight to Frankfurt was uneventful.  The guy next to me had the shade down so I couldn't see Kelsterbach and I was sad.  We did have extra leg room which was nice.  We watched movies the whole way and didn't sleep.  Bill and I timed Drive together so we watched it "together".  We got to Frankfurt and were afraid our connection was too tight but it wasn't.  We got through customs quickly and waited for our flight.  Somehow I mixed up our boarding passes and Bill went through but they stopped me.  So I was the last one on the plane.  Of course he never looked back  We didn't have a window because we were on the exit row and missed the Alps. 
We took the bus to the train station from the airport.  We get dropped out and can't see the train station but someone points it out.  The first train had first class seats but wasn't the really nice train.  But for 17 Euros it was great.  We get to Trieste and lug our bags about 4 blocks to the hotel.  As soon as we get to the room the phone rings.  It's Paul and he is downstairs.  He was on his way to the airport and saw us lugging the bags.  It was great to see him albeit for only a few minutes.  We then walked across the street for pizza since we were not going to make it to the dinner hour and then slept.
The next day we have a lovely continental breakfast.  They had meats that we didn't not eat, cheeses and fresh breads with lots of jams.  Also yogurt and cereal.
Enrico and Emily are there to pick us up.  Enrico is an Italian bird guide and Emily is a British birder.
Both were fantastic and we had a great time.
We first went to Monte Srena overlook at the Val Rosandra Rieserve.  Wow!  Check out this cute church we looked down on.  Emily said it no longer has services but people do get married there.  She said she knew someone that married there and it was very muddy.  We were lucky, the weather was beautiful.  There used to be a train that ran through the valley but now there are walking trails.
Here is an olive grove that we could see.

Here is the sign that we are entering Slovenia.  We mainly wanted a new country and it was beautiful!!!!We went to Lake Cerknica.  Gorgeous!  Everything was clean and so beautiful.

We went to a place that was a cave that caved in.  It's now a gorgeous rock bridge and waterfalls.

There were so many beautiful small churches.  This one had bells in the bell tower,
Lovely reflections of the trees.

I don't know where we saw this sign.  Too funny. 

We found a dipper!!

Day 2 Emily couldn't come with us and we were sad.   The first stop we found a Blue Rock Thrush, juvenile 

At Valle Cavanata we found a Kingfisher.  The European Kingfisher is gorgeous!!!

The gulls are all different from what we are used to.
We loved watching the fisherman in Duino feed the Mute Swans.

I neglected to put in any pictures of the Grifone Vultures.  They are endangered and are cared for at a refuge.  It was a spectacular place. 
We were exhausted after both days and ate pizza across the street both times!!