On a Vacation Primer

For those wanting some background music for the post, here’s some music from the land.

On to the post.

The image shows are 12-days of cruising. Keep in mind that we had 4 days in London before cruising, plus 3 days in Reykjavik, Iceland after the cruise. Both of these stops were independent of the cruise and done on our own.

I was struck by the fact that each of the major cities in the British Isles were quite different from one another.

  • The most grand: London, England
  • The most captivating: Edinburgh, Scotland
  • The most walkable: Dublin, Ireland
  • The most unexpectedly different: Liverpool, England
  • The most gut wrenching: Belfast, Northern Ireland

… and we didn’t just visit cities on the trip:

  • The most scenic countryside: Northern Scotland
  • The most solemn: American military cemetery at Normandy (Omaha Beach)
  • The most quaint: St. Peter Port, Guernsey
  • The most geologic diverse: Iceland

We walked a lot – averaging about 13,500 steps per day with over 25,000 being the most. When walking, my eyes are busy. For those who remember, when in Florence, Italy – I say “Look up!” Whether walking or passing by in a touring bus, these business signs on the trip caught my eye. Other than the obvious, any thoughts on what they sell?

 

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On the Rest of the Journey

This post is a synopsis of the rest of our trip. Previous post provided info about the most prominent stops. Not that the remaining stops don’t merit their own post, but I don’t want to drone on about this trip.

SpainCruiseShip

Gibraltar (UK)
I thought Gibraltar was a small peninsula with a big rock at it’s point. Wow, was I ever wrong because it’s primarily a rock with 30,000 people living around it’s base. We walked from the dock to the tram (which took us to the top), then we walked down, and back to the ship. Of all our days on this trip, this was our highest count of walking steps – 24,500+.

Gibraltar Whole Rock

Caves, tunnels, views, and monkeys entertained us on the way down. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the airport with a main road crossing the runways, so see this 1-minute video. The return trip through the strait was at night … and with city lights on each side of the ship, one can tell Africa and Gibraltar are closer than one may think.

Montserrat
We visited Montserrat while in Barcelona. Located about 30 minutes outside the city, it’s a monastery located at the top of the Serrated Mountains. Within the altar is the Black Madonna. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to experience the stunning views because of the lingering fog – but we are glad we went. Because of the fog, here’s a link to a Google Images search to accompany mine.


Cadiz
Cadiz (KA diz) is the closest port to Seville (Sevilla), but getting there is a 2-hour trip in each direction. Given we were only in port 8-5, we first visited Jerez (the next section), then spent the afternoon in the Cadiz’s Old City. To me, Cadiz was the most unexpected surprise of the trip. The Old City was vibrant, and a grand cathedral serves as its hub. Thumbs up!


Jerez de la Frontera (Jerez)
From Cadiz, we took a ship’s tour to Jerez, a 20-minute ride from the port. Walking through it’s main square and past the Alcazar castle of the Moors, the focus of our tour was the Gonzalez Byass Bodegas that produces sherry (wine). We loved both the tour and the sherry samples.


Cartagena
Founded in 227 BC by the Carthaginians, today’s Cartagena is a small city for 200,000+ nestled in a small bay flanked by 5 mountains. The dock is close, so we strolled the streets to the Roman theater, the old bullring, the waterfront, and to the Castillo de la Concepcion for panoramic views of the city.


Palma de Mallorca
Palma de Mallorca, the largest city and capital of the Balearic Islands, was our first stop after leaving Barcelona. It was a Sunday, so many stores were closed and the local free walking tour we wanted wasn’t available. The weather was beautiful, so we made the best of what we could without a map.


Although more posts about this trip may appear over time, the links to past posts from the rest of the cruise are below.

Lisbon Sun Effect

On a Big Apple Dawn

After an evening of dinner, a show, and some dancing, we returned to our cabin for the final night …
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… only to rise early for the special treat from the deck to the east …
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… but the show we came to see was to the west …
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… as we approached the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge …
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… which the ship cleared with a little to spare …
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… to eventually dock on the New Jersey of the river with a wonderful view of Lady Liberty and the Manhattan skyline featuring One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, and the morning clouds getting ready to make a break.
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From the dock, our return home started as we went directly to the airport, so we couldn’t connect with NYC area bloggers as Lame, Guapo, Kay, and Weebs. But if you are late joining this trip, click here to get you to the start, plus each post will end with the next stop.

On Mary Time

Whether Mary had a little lamb, Hail Mary, or Along Comes Mary, this post has nothing to do with Mary – but everything to do with our cruise stops in Canada’s maritime provinces.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (population 35,000) is PEI’s largest city and provincial capital. It may be a city, but it sure as a small town feel. It’s also the setting of the novel Anne of Green Gables.

We walked around the residential neighbors with well-maintained homes and took the long walk to Victoria Park and beyond to the lighthouse. Interestingly, the rocks and sand are red, and even the shallow water near the shore had a red cast.

One of the many gorgeous old homes

One of the many gorgeous old homes

The red in Charlottetown

The red in Charlottetown

The boardwalk along Victoria Park is a refreshing walk

The boardwalk along Victoria Park is a refreshing walk

Charlottetown is also the home to Cows Ice Cream, rated the world’s best ice cream by Tauck’s World Discovery. We tried it, it was good, but sorry Tauck, it’s no Graeter’s, which wasn’t listed! Nor was Viveka’s beloved Mövenpick!

After Charlottetown, we cruised north to Corner Brook on Newfoundland’s west coast. This will probably be the closest I’ll ever be to Kayjai (she’s on the east coast).  On this day we were without a camera because of issues. Too bad because the fiord-like trip into Corner Brook was scenic.

Corner Brook, Newfoundland (pic from Wikipedia)

Corner Brook, Newfoundland (pic from Wikipedia)

Halifax was our final maritime stop. Unlike the two previous stops, Halifax is definitely a city … and the amount of new construction surprised us. Interestingly, the fortress that guarded the city is atop a hill above city center.

Old Clock installed 1803 just below the Citadel

Old Clock installed 1803 just below the Citadel

We didn’t realize the role that Halifax played in the Titanic disaster. With the nameless headstones, the trip into the cemetery with the most gravesites (121) from the ship was surreal.

Halifax Titanic Graves

The unidentified and the identified (amazingly, some were identified in 1992)

The unidentified and the identified (amazingly, some were identified in 1992)

We also boarded a bus for a trip to Peggy’s Cove, a small, picturesque fishing village found among the glacial remnants. Tour buses flock to this village for its charm, scenery, and lighthouse.

Peggy's Cove is picturesque

Peggy’s Cove rocky shore

Hope you enjoyed your quick journey to the Canadian maritime provinces of Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia.

Visit our next ports.

On an Explorer

Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, and Vasco da Gama are a few of the early European explorers. but this post is not about any of them because the day after arriving in Quebec City, we joined another explorer – Royal Caribbean’s (RCCL) Explorer of the Seas.

This 1025 ft (312.4 m) explorer is part of RCCL Voyager Class capable of carrying 3,114 passengers and almost 1,200 crew. Our trip was about 96% capacity.

When in port, we spend much time seeing sites and walking. Our evenings following a pattern of dinner, theater entertainment, then dancing – but the dance floors on this ship were a negative. Enjoy some pics of the ship.

Explorer of the Seas

Explorer of the Seas

Beautiful main dining room named after famous explorer

Beautiful main dining room named after famous explorers

1,350 capacity theater

1,350-seat capacity theater

900 seat ice rink

900-seat ice rink

ProminadeAbove

4-story Main Street Promenade for shopping, eating, drinking, and gathering

Some rooms overlook Main Street

Some rooms overlook Main Street

A not-for-me climbing wall

A not-for-me climbing wall

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The top deck (from ship-technology.com)

The top deck (from ship-technology.com)

Find out where this trip went.

For additional information about Explorer of the Seas

On A to Z

a-z-2013Someone declared April as A-to-Z Challenge Month. Sure, the challenge’s intent is to have a separate post for each letter, but hey – I have a streak of independence.

With 1,167 posts before this one, why not use my archives to meet the challenge? After all, even frequent readers aren’t aware of some of the posts.

Therefore, I present A Frank Angle’s A-to-Z. Visit as many as you like, because as in my tradition, there is something for all …. so hopefully you’ll visit at least one.

AFAa2zBadgeA is for Acquaintance – People that were not in my graduation class: set 1 and set 2

B is for Ballroom – … and ballroom dance delivers benefits

C is for Cruising – We like cruising, so start your trip with a click

D is for Dinner Group – … We hosted a night of Chopped

E is for Education Reform – Although the need is obvious, here are the obstacles

F is for Frank – Yep, that’s my name, but these are the All-Time Franks in baseball

G is for God and Government – I must say that this post about the separation of church and state is pretty darn good

H is for Handbells – It takes many bells to make one instrument

I is for Italian – I’m 100% Italian heritage, and Ellis Island is an important place

J is for Joys – To whatever give you joy, but for some of us, it’s reliving the cartoons of our youth, and here is where the series started, which led to the first honoree

K is for Knowledge – What do you know about supersonic kangaroos?

L is for LearnerLearning should never stop

M is for Moderate – This early post defines an independent moderate, thus shows why neither party wants me … well, except for my vote

N is for News – Staying informed is important, but there is something more biased than the media

O is for Ohio River – A story from my hometown on a river during my youth.

P is for Politics – I wrote this shortly after the 2008 election, but before the Tea Party’s emergence (which is what makes this post interesting)

Q is for Quantum – Actually, this past post was On a Quantum Thought

R is for Recipes – I’m sort of a Foodie, so try Cranberry Sausage Spaghetti or my own spaghetti sauce that offers a little crunch

S is for Science – Like sports, science has players, plays, rules, and boundaries

T is for Trieste – A beautiful city on the Adriatic Sea that is the place of my birth

U is for Universe – The universe is vast and inspiring, and this post includes one of my absolute favorite videos

V is for Victory – The raised arm created an unexpected moment in college

W is for Wonders – There are many wonders in our world, and let’s not forget Fibonacci, Pi, and Tau

X is for X-Factor – and one X-factor in life is forgiveness

Y is for Why because I can – This is the first main post about the religion-science interchange; now there are 44, plus here is the very first post

Z is for Zinfandel – I enjoy a wide spectrum of wines, especially reds, but zins were the first to capture my fancy – and cheers to the wine group at church

AAA+++ Bonus for the bloggers on my sidebar and on the More Bloggers page, for as without them and you, I wouldn’t be here, so try to visiting someone soon that you don’t know, and tell them I sent you.

Addendum: To learn more about the A Frank Angle A-to-Z Challenge, click here.

On a Blog Reflection: 2012

In lieu of Friday’s typical Opinions in the Shorts, here’s a look back at 2012. Besides, I still feel a bit overwhelmed from the hectic nature of the past few days.

From the blogging perspective, 2012 was a successful year.

  • Except when on vacation, I maintained my 5-6 posts per week
  • December was already on pace to be the best month ever, but with Freshly Pressed, this month may stand a while
  • Visits for the year improved over 40% from 2011
  • Reached the 100,000 mark for visits
  • 20,000th comment will be soon – and who will get the fireworks display
  • Freshly Pressed on December 24
  • Being added to Le Clown’s blogroll
  • My 1000th post party was very special
  • I continue to enjoy posting and interacting with my visitors

By reviewing my 2012 posts, I selected one post from each month to feature the variety of topics that I embrace. From politics to religion to science to travel to ballroom dance and more, here is my look back at 2012. This collection also gives new readers a chance to learn about me and this blog – which could either encourage them to return or drive them away!

For your comments, which did you read? To my long-time visitors, do you have any memorable posts that I didn’t include?

January: My story of living with a night of blame for 40+ years

February: A tribute to Pi – yep, 3.141592653, including a link of Pi to a million digits

March: On a spectacular place – the universe

April: Looking at the difficult topic of free will

May: Political gridlock remains valid today … and probably tomorrow

June: Faith and science are compatible

July: A mistaken view about global warming

August: I enjoy college football, so look at some of my favorite college football traditions

September: Time for a cruise – Start in Amsterdam, and then follow the link at the bottom of the post to the next port

October: Learn about and enjoy tango

November: I enjoy classic cartoons, so it’s all about Taz

December: How many people can play one instrument at the same time

To send you into the weekend, enjoy Disco Santa, which makes me laugh … and yep, sure sounds like the Village People. Have a safe weekend, and hopefully I can get a play-toy post together for your Saturday.