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?



On Exploring an Unexpected Place

Ljubljana, Slovenia is a place on my bucket list.

I know the thoughts racing through the mind of most readers right now …. “Ljubljana, Slovenia? Where’s that? How does one say that place? What the heck is he thinking?” (Was I close?)

First the pronunciation – lyoo-BLYAH-nah. I even discovered that the Italians and Spanish simply say (and write) Lubiana, which I find helpful.

Slovenia is a small country that was part of Austria-Hungary (WW I), part of Yugoslavia after WW II, and part of Italy for 27 years between the two World Wars. It became independent in 1991, and has been part of the EU and NATO since 2004.

It has a small coastline along the northeastern Adriatic Sea, and those who remember my background note that Slovenia is very close (a few miles/kilometers) to my birthplace – Trieste, Italy – so I’ve seen Slovenia in the distance, but haven’t visited.

I recall watching a feature on a Slovenian skier from Ljubljana during the Sochi Winter Olympics, and a Rick Steves episode expanded my attraction for Ljubljana. Yep, I’ve even researched how to get from Trieste to Ljubljana by train – so it’s time to pass along this hidden secret to others. FYI: Trains don’t connect the two cities, but I discovered the way.

Enjoy this short tourism video. For those wanting to do see the Rick Steves episode, here it is. What do you think? Ready to join an aFa tour group?

On Stockholm

After a day in Helsinki, we were anxious to visit Stockholm, especially because my wife’s paternal ancestry is Swedish.

The night before, the cruise director encouraged passengers to see Stockholm’s 24,000-island archipelago, which we would be entering around 4 AM. We didn’t set the alarm clock, but as my eyes opened early, a quick glance revealed island – so I quickly dressed, and to one of the upper decks I went.


Given the 4-hour trip through the islands each way, our time in port was short. Frequent drizzle and occasional hard rain was the order of the day, but it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm for being there. Stockholm is home to 2 million people, and located on a series of islands connect by bridges and water taxis. Stockholm’s architecture intrigued us.


Vasa was a grand warship that sank about 30 minutes into its maiden voyage. For over 300 years, it remained submerged on the bottom of Stockholm’s harbor – yet, a salvage operation discovered much remained intact. After a length restoration, it is now in a worthwhile museum.

With it shops, churches, the Royal Palace, and old buildings flanking the narrow, stone streets, Gramla Stan (Old Town) is picturesque and charming.


At the end of the day, we went to a specialty restaurant on the ship’s upper deck as that was our night to celebrate our 35th anniversary (which was actually 5 months earlier). Given the view of the islands from our window table, it was a fabulous way to end the day – the day that our oldest nephew was getting married back in Ohio.

Of all the ports on our trip, Stockholm remains the city that beckons our return, so enjoy the videos below of this beautiful city.

This 2+-minute aerial tour of Stockholm is outstanding, so hop aboard!

For narration, The Expeditioner guides your 4+ minute video tour

Viveka, a Swedish visitor here, provides this post about her recent visit to Stockholm. In her honor, as well as my wife’s family, enjoy this 2-minute video of Sweden to Du gamla, Du fria – the Swedish national anthem with beautiful images.

After a 5-day whirlwind touring cities and with four time changes, we were ready for a full day cruising on the Celebrity Constellation … but Copenhagen yet to come … just click here to join the tour.