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What's New From August 2004

 July 27
Thursday we take off on our cruise so I thought I would update this page early; we won't be back until late in the evening of August 12. We are so excited. We will be taking the computer and plan on uploading pictures every three or four days.

I have tallied the poll on how full-timers get or plan to get email on the road and I have added a new poll. The question this time is for married couples and there are two separate sections---one for the husband and one for the wife. The basic question is will the wife learn to drive the RV and will she do it. Please take a minute to put your two cents worth in. Poll.

To give you something new to read, I have uploaded the next installment in our old newsletters. This one from November 1996 is one of my favorites (I love them all really). The headline reads, Red Roads All the Way. That story is in our book, Movin' On but with the pictures and the rest of the newsletter (Potpourri, Campground Report, Letters, Coffee Break, Good Places to Eat and This and That) it all comes together nicely. I hope you enjoy it and that you can make the same trip yourself someday. 

New Mystery Picture
This might a bit of a challenge this month. but if you think you know where we were when this picture was taken email us   (because we will be gone, I may not respond to your emails right away.). We were there in 1989 (early in our full-timing life) and that is long before we started doing newsletters so there will be no reference to us being there anywhere in this site or in our books. Next month I will include my diary notes on our visit to this area (on the Guess page) when we give the correct answer since we never wrote about it before.

We only had a half of a dozen replies to last month's picture and all of them were correct. It appears that those who knew were sure otherwise no one even had a clue what to guess. If you are dying to know where it was taken please take a little trip to our  Mystery Picture page.  When you guess correctly you will get to read a little from my diary regarding our visit to that school since we never wrote about visiting that place before (again that was long before we were writing our newsletters). This is so much fun to revisit places again.

August 7
Hello from somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea. So far the cruise has been wonderful. We have seen a lot and eaten way more than we should. We have met some wonderful people and enjoyed a lot of great entertainment, but we are getting anxious to get back home and be in our comfortable routine again. We always said that being on vacation 24/7 is too tiring; it is not normal. 

One of the things we have done is compare RV travel to this cruise and there is no comparison. For us, we think that RVing is more comfortable and enjoyable, but most of the people on this cruise have been on many cruises (one couple boasted that this was their 30th cruise). Yes, it is fun to be pampered for a little while but we would rather have more time to explore and be less pampered. The ship is only in port for a few hours (maybe 8 hours) and the touring has to be done in a hurry. We are both going to write about this comparison after we get home. 

The Westerdam is not the biggest ship in the world but it is plenty big enough 
and too big to get it all in a picture.

Our stateroom is quite large and has a balcony beyond the doors Ron is sitting in front of.
There are two pools, a gym, spa, tennis/volleyball/basketball court, coffee bar, casino, stores, dining rooms and many night clubs on the ship. There is so much to do that we find we schedule our time. 

So far we have taken tours in Amsterdam, Holland, Honfleur, France, Vigo, Spain, Lisbon, Portugal, Cadiz, and Malaga, Spain and are on our way to Sardinia, Italy now. Highlights in each are varied but 
I will list a few. 

As we set sail from England, we were given a proper send off by pipers. It was quite charming. I took this picture from our balcony.
Our day in Holland included the windmill tour and in Amsterdam we were amazed at all the bicycles. Look at the huge (city square---three story) bicycle parking garage.
When it was time to sail from Holland we were serenaded by a group of Dutch singers and crowds waved to the ship as it sailed away. Ron is seen on our balcony.

At dinner on the ship that evening we were all given traditional Dutch hats.
In France, we were told about the French thatched roofs where they grow Iris (flowers) on the top of the roofs so that they attract the water. I liked the contrast with the thatched roof and the satellite dish. Notice again the iris plants on top.

It is fun to dress for dinner once in a while. Here we are Ron is at the captain's reception.

We were impressed with the beautiful Muller family from Connecticut.

On a tour in Vigo, Spain, we see our ship and the muscle farms (in the background) in the bay.

We had a wonderful tour in Lisbon, Portugal. Above is the monument to the navigators.

In Cadiz, Spain, we saw cathedrals, iron work on balconies and narrow streets. Very charming. 
I  will add more when we get home and get rested. 

August 13
We are home safe and sound but very tired. Our flight out of Athens was delayed for 7 hours. We ended up in a  New York hotel last night and flew home early this morning. I have more pictures to share and will do it soon. 

August 14
We are a little rested. I am adding the rest of the pictures now and will do the articles later.

After Cadiz, Spain, we went to Malaga, Spain, which was very beautiful. They boast being home to Pablo 
Picasso and the busiest bull ring in all of Spain.

We were up high having just explored the old ancient Moorish fortress and had a good view of the bull ring. Notice our ship in the background. On the right is the main street of Malaga with decorations going up for the upcoming festival. In the background is an arch commemorating Picasso. 
In Sardinia, Italy, we visited the Roman ruins of Nora. The mosaic tile work was remarkable. 

Palermo, Sicily, Italy, was beautiful. The architecture was just outstanding as you might imagine something in Italy would be.

The insides of this cathedral were impressive but my pictures just don't do it justice.
In all the countries we visited we learned that the Muslims ruled for a time centuries ago and the picture on the left is a good example of their influence. They are no longer prominent and the Mosques have been converted to christian churches or monasteries.
These pictures were taken from the ship as we were arriving in Malta. The stone is yellow and the buildings were just so very beautiful. Our tour there was not good though because we had a horrible tour guide, but what we saw was very interesting. We were disappointed that the shops in most of the places we visited were closed from 1 p.m to 4 or 6 p.m. (siesta time) so we couldn't do any shopping. Because the ship usually sailed each day somewhere between 4 and 6 p.m. we were just out of luck. 

Here we are again on another of the formal nights. We always felt so elegant.
Ron with Nan and Chuck (also from Arizona) waiting for showtime which was a nightly thing. Every night we had great entertainment but a highlight was the three shows the Westerdam stars did. They were just like Las Vegas shows.Our matre'd and our servers (Sarengat and Arief) each evening for dinner. 

On the next to the last night on board the chefs prepared a dessert extravaganza for a late night snack. That was awesome. Below are some of the pictures of the tables which were set up out around the swimming pool. 
As we pulled into Athens we were amazed at all of the cruise ships already in port. We had heard that all of the cruise ships were going to be used as floating hotels for the Olympic games. We were totally amazed to pass by the Queen Mary II. It was huge and beautiful. The middle picture is of two other ships in port and we got this close to the Queen Mary (that is not a blown up picture), but by then it was getting dark so the picture isn't that great. 

Here is our official photo with the captain of the ship which was taken on our first formal night.

This and the airport is all we saw of Athens. This is one of the new Olympic stadiums; I photographed it from the bus window on our way to the airport. 

August 18
We just finished our articles and wanted to share them with everyone. My article is: Exploring and Ron has added a few thoughts in Our First Cruise.

August 22
I have added a foot note to my Exploring article (which is an email from a reader) and I went even further to print another email in the Guest Articles section. They both add a lot to the subject of exploring.

I have another guest article coming soon. This one will be on families on the road. I have been wanting an article like that for ages so I am excited about that.

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