"" Writer's Wanderings

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Nafplion, Greece

The light streamed in the window from our balcony as Bob drew back the curtains in the morning. Surrounding the harbor where we were anchored were sun kissed mountains and hills and blue, blue water. Nafplion would be a tender port but it was kind of nice to not be tied to a dock. The view from the ship was spectacular.

We were in no hurry to get off the ship as we had no excursion from the ship to account to. Leisurely, we collected our tender ticket and waited but a few minutes for our number to be called. The ship was using its own tenders for those on excursions. They would be taken to waiting buses somewhere. Our tender ride would be on local boats and right to the downtown port area. Perfect.

In doing my research, I had stumbled upon a place we could explore on our own, the Bourtzi castle, which it turns out is really a fortress that was converted to a hotel of sorts back in 1930. So, I guess it was someone's "castle" for a while. 

The only way to get to the castle is by boat since it sits on a tiny island in the middle of the harbor. I had found that there was a ferry but it wasn't obvious which way we should go once we got off the tender. Thankfully, Bob spotted a tourist information booth close by and we inquired there. 

"Oh yes," she said and pointed. "That way 200 meters. 'Odeseus' cruise."

We thanked her and walked in that direction for what we thought was 200 meters until we were about to pass the city tour train and thought that the ferry to the castle had to be there somewhere. No, said the train operator and pointed a bit farther down. "My meter reader is off," said Bob, "I thought we'd walked 200."

In front of a row of large sidewalk cafes sat a small well used passenger boat and the sign across from it said "Odyssey Cruise". And there it was. Our ride.

For a mere five euros each we could get a roundtrip to the castle. The boatsman spoke enough English and had enough body language (with a smile) to indicate when it was time to get on and off and how to pay, in cash of course.

The ride to the island was fun on the old boat that ran quite well under the skillful hands of its captain and soon we stepped off and into the castle. A lady sat in a little cubby hole and almost scared us as she greeted us just inside the entrance arch. The price was four euros for residents over sixty-five but five euros for everyone else. Senior status did not get us a discount as foreigners.

We met another lady inside who was there to greet us and let us know she would answer questions but we were on our own to explore. She did tell us that the castle had sat closed for eighteen years and in the last eight years, they had done major renovation. It was still a work in progress as they were planning on putting in a small cafe and gift shop. 

There were lots and lots of steps. Most had handrails but not all. Bob's only comment on that was, "This wouldn't fly in the States." It did have some spots where someone could easily fall or make a misstep. I climbed most of the several layers to the castle but passed on the one that went to the very top. There was no handrail and a whole lot of steps. Bob braved it and took a few pictures from the top.

Several signs gave some information on the castle. One of them dated the fortress back to the late 1400s. Cleverly, they had surrounded the castle with layers of rocks that were hidden under the water's surface. Any large boat attacking would run aground. 

For anyone interested, please note that there are restrooms and an elevator for handicap accessibility although I'm not quite sure how you would get there if in a wheelchair unless somewhat mobile. And, in the future, there will be a lovely cafe, I'm sure.

After about an hour of walking around and up and down, we boarded our sweet little ride back to town and decided that we would rather take a city train tour than to walk the streets ourselves. The sun was warming the day and we weren't up for a hot walk.

The city tour train was only four euros each and was almost an hour long. It showed us enough of the city to get the flavor of it. Lovely narrow side streets, shuttered windows open to the sun and fresh air, small iron balconies and hanging plants. Here and there a church, a school (the kids all waved), and of course lots of open air cafes. All in all, a very pleasant place.

The train tour ended not far from our tender dock and we arrived in time to catch the tender as it was loading again. Lunch, a little R&R and here I am again trying to get this posted before my internet gets funky again. Oh, one last thing...

Last night we had a great performance from a stand up comic. Simon Palomares. One of the best lines from his talk about life aboard the ship was how it made him uncomfortable to go into the gym and see the captain exercising---on the rowing machine. "Think about it." HIs delivery was a lot better than mine. 

Just one more smile. Last night, according to our account statement, Bob drank 770 cups of coffee! After a good laugh, we straightened it out. "Glitch in the system." I think someone just hit too many keys on the register *smile*.

Next up is a day at sea and then the Pyramids in Egypt. We will be returning to Nafplion in another week or so on the second segment of our cruise. At that time we'll be visiting Corinth on an excursion. I'm excited.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Katakolon, Greece

The gentle rumble of our giant behemoth as it idles in port keeping all the comforts available and functioning is almost soothing as I try to nap. It's been a nice morning of exploring in the little port town of Katakolo and beyond. 

Precruise research revealed that there was a hop on hop off bus available right at the dock and when we checked after breakfast, we could see it sitting right there as promised. This port is the door to Olympia where you can visit old ruins and see where the Olympics were first held back in 776BC. We'd been there before and felt that we didn't want to pay for an excursion to see the same thing. The HOHO bus was only 10 Euros each for a ride that would last an hour and a half round trip into the city of Pyrgos.

The audio on the bus was a little hard to figure out to find the English channel and at one point it cut out and returned to the Spanish channel. I decided I just wanted to enjoy the fresh air and see the countryside without all the explanation and music. I pulled my earphones out and enjoyed the silence, well except for the whistling on occasion that came from Bob as he enjoyed the music.

Farmland passed by interspersed with small homes and a little shop now and then. In the distance, hazy blue mountains filled the horizon. It was the setting for a a romantic movie, maybe a Hallmark, and then we reached the city.

City of Pyrgos

For a moment I thought we were back in Rome. Cars were parked sometimes three deep. Horns blared impatiently or to warn that the vehicle was not stopping as motorcycles wove in and out of traffic and side streets. At one point, there were lots of Greek words exchanged as a parked car, motor idling until the driver returned from his purchase in a shop  to finally move the car. I thought about how that would work in the States. Either the car would be stolen or road rage would end badly. Here, there was no place to run off with the car since traffic was blocked mostly or moving very slowly and words seemed to be the worst of the road rage.

Streets were difficult to discern. I saw a few names on buildings which I thought might correspond but I couldn't match that with the map of the area we'd been given. At the stop where there was to be a pedestrian area, it was impossible to tell where it was and so when Bob said let's get off, I said no way. Instead I said I would rather walk through the little town of Katakolo when we got back. He relented.


On our way back, I saw that a lot of the area had groves of olive trees. They are very pretty trees with small leaves. I couldn't tell if they had olives on them. Between the distance and the speed of the bus it wasn't discernable. We did see some trees along the street in town though that had limes on them.

Back in Katakolo, we excited the bus at the park near the entrance to the little town's main street. There's a strange looking statue of a seagull there which I think is just photo op for visitors. It has a wing extended to appear to put an "arm" around you as someone snaps the photo.

The shops were very nice and even tempting. The clothing was not the usual cheap type of souvenir stuff. That's not to say there wasn't plenty of that but there was also some nice jewelry to look at as well. We strolled the main street in the direction of the dock and the ship and found a small convenient store to buy a large bottle of water. Holland America Cruises has finally relented and allows you to bring water onboard again. What is available other than the tap water on the ship is cans of water. Maybe it's just me, but I think the canned water tastes weird. The whole thing was a campaign for the environment but I think it fell flat.

As I write this, we are spending the afternoon leisurely. The temps have risen a bit and the sun is hot but there's a gentle breeze now and then. We'll enjoy a walk around the Promenade later and dinner (and the recorded or delayed Browns game) shortly after we leave the port. Since the internet at sea is still a bit sketchy, I want to post this while we are still in port. Looking forward to the comedian tonight at the theater. I understand from seeing comments on Facebook that we might not enjoy the football game so much.

On to our next port, Nafplion, in the morning.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Rome In A Day

With a full night of rest we were ready to take on the day. Well, almost. The jet lag lingers a bit longer when you travel west to east. We chose to forget all the walking for the day and just ride. Rome has four or five hop on hop off bus lines. All of them offer pretty much the same thing. We chose the Greenline Bus service. It had three routes which were kind of the same but two of them extended out from the city center a bit.

On most any corner you can find someone in a red vest that says Hop On Hop Off. They have all the information for all the buses. The fellow who explained it all to us led us to a corner souvenir/news stand where we purchased tickets. You can also buy them on the bus but he was so good about explaining it all to us that we went with him across the street to purchase ours.

Since it was early, about 9 am, we were on the first bus to leave from the stop. We chose the blue line which was the longest of the two that were at this stop (Terminal A). The top of the bus was covered but open and we scored a front seat so we had a great view as we toured the city.

This, I believe, is the third time we’ve been in Rome. I do need to keep better notes. We have explored most of the prime places to see, the Forum, the Colosseum, the Trevi, the Pantheon, etc. The enchanting thing about Rome is that no matter where you go there is a piece of the past. From the moment you step out of the train terminal you are immediately immersed. We followed an ancient stone wall to the corner of the street to find our hotel the day before. Ancient baths were across the street.

The open sides of the bus made for a pleasant ride on a day that was a bit overcast but still promising to become very warm. While many of the sites to see were a little off the main route, there was a good commentary running about them and some of the things we could see.

The extension of the blue route that we’d chosen took us out to a more residential area with lots of beautiful flowering tree lined streets and pretty apartment buildings. This was an area where there were quite a few museums and the zoo. The zoo sounded interesting and I almost suggested getting off there but thought better of it. The route was only a little more than half done and the morning was waning.

We passed the Forum and the Colosseum and were back again at our starting point which was near our hotel. After a short rest stop, we weren’t real hungry but needed to stay on a schedule to continue to get used to the time change. We settled on McDonald’s. Yes, here we were in Rome going to McD’s. It was easy. We knew where it was in the nearby train station/mall and we could eat lighter than pasta.

Back at the bus stop again, we wanted to take the orange line. The orange bus showed up (it had an orange stripe on front) but it turned out to be doing the short green route that just hit the major points of interest rather than going out a bit to a place called Eatary so we found ourselves ending our afternoon early. That was fine. We were still tired and an afternoon nap was welcomed.

During one of our past trips that happened to coincide with an anniversary, we had eaten in a piazza that was full of sidewalk restaurants and a couple of fountains, one of which was very large but had been covered at that time for renovation. It had been one of the more romantic experiences we’d had in Rome with entertainers stopping to perform near our table.

With the realization that nothing is ever recreated quite the same as the sweet memories, we searched my blog to try to find the name of the piazza. I couldn’t find the reference. Some of my older posts were a little funky. I searched the net for famous Rome fountains and found the one I remembered. It is called “the four rivers” or Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. Google maps had it a 37 minute walk from our hotel. Considering we had spent the day riding we decided to walk it. The weather was not as hot as the day before and we knew it would take us mostly downhill. We agreed that we would take a taxi back if it seemed too much after we ate.

The walk was not bad and took us past the Trevi fountain again which was packed with people. After weaving our way through the crowd we started past the Pantheon which was also crowded but apparently more from a fencing exhibition or contest for young people that was going on. We arrived at the Piazza Novana and were pleased to see that even though it wasn’t quite six o’clock, the restaurants were open and yes, hustling people to come in. They are gentle hustlers though and quite engaging.

We settled upon one restaurant and had a nice dinner. As the evening cooled and we finished our pasta dishes, we ambitiously chose to walk back to the hotel. There would be a little uphill climb but Bob promised gelato halfway home and I wasn’t going to pass it up this time. We found a small place for gelato part way up an incline and stopped for our treat. There was a small area to sit and eat it so we could rest a bit as well.

Refreshed, we finished our trek back and sank into bed, satisfied with our adventure and ready to begin the next one in the morning that would take us to Civitavecchia and our ship to begin our cruise.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

A Half Day In Rome

 After getting our room key to work, we locked the door, put out the Do Not Disturb tag and tried to sleep a bit. Jet lag is awful and when you've had two large time adjustments within a week it's murderous. We awoke after a couple of hours feeling hungry and decided to take a walk and find something to eat along the way. 

The walk was a bit longer than we should have gone and, while gradual, we were walking downhill. We ended up at the Trevi Fountain and took a couple of pictures. We weren't up to elbowing through the crowd to toss a coin over our heads We'd done that before and sure enough, here we were back again. It must work. 

On a side street, we paused to look at a menu at a pizza/pasta sidewalk cafe. It was just long enough to feel a gentle pressure on the elbow and have a chair pulled out for us. All good. We ended up sitting between two American couples, one touring on their own and another with a large tour group. It was enjoyable conversation and hopefully ours made sense.

Real Italian pizza. Strangely, it tastes
a lot like American.

The temperature was rising. The sun was shining brightly and we were wearing down the longer we walked. We thought we would make it to the Colosseum but thought better of it. We glimpsed it down the street as we turned away to head for our hotel. 

As we walked, it felt like we had walked uphill both ways. At least it wasn't snowing but it was hot. A stop for water helped some but my legs were feeling like the water I'd drank and I was close to saying, "Call a cab before we have to call an ambulance." We made it though, stopping several times to rest and collapsed into bed again. 

Another hour of sleep and we were up to shower and find food again, not because we were hungry but because we needed to start to get on the right schedule for the time zone. We walked around the block and found the sweetest sidewalk restaurant. Cloths covered the tables, twinkling lights were strung through the bushes that hid the street mostly from view and the service was wonderful.

After a light dinner of salads, a bowl of tortellini in broth for me and a small plate of spaghetti Bolognese for Bob, we walked to the train station to get come gelato (for Bob). The train station is like a huge two floor mall with platforms for trains and then beneath the basement floor, the metro system. The mall is full of shops and quick places to eat. Bob's gelato was good and I almost wished I had some but I didn't need the stomachache just then.

Unlike Iceland, Italy has McDonald's. What they don't have is brewed McDonald's coffee. When Bob ordered what the kiosk said was American coffee, it turned out to be just Americano made from espresso. 

Back at the hotel, we watched a bit of the CNN channel and found that another UA flight to Rome out of Newark the day before ours had dropped suddenly 28,000 feet in the turbulence. Thank goodness I hadn't seen that before we boarded ours. 

Sleep came quickly once the lights were out. Buono Notte, Roma.

Friday, September 15, 2023

What A Night! Good Morning Roma!

 Most of our air flights over the years have worked out well. We have not had a difficult time with any for many air miles. Our luck was about to change. Not drastically but enough to be an irritation. 

We flew from CLE to Newark without a problem. As a matter of fact for me, it was quite nice. Bob got an upgrade to first class and let me take it. As he told his seat mates who posed with him for a selfie that he sent me, he was trying to be sure we'd make it to the 55th anniversary. I did enjoy the pampering, if you can call it that. First class is not what it used to be and this was just a short ride anyway.

Our flight had been changed to leave a little earlier so we arrived with about three hours to kill in Newark. After a fifteen minute ride on a shuttle to the international terminal, we searched for a United Club. The one we found was a temporary setup while they constructed a new one. The lady sent us over to another one that was closer to our gate anyway. The problem seemed to be that you needed the VISA card, not the MasterCard to get in. It was all very confusing and we were running out of time by then to find food. Bob will settle the problem for the future when we get home.

The restaurants in the Newark airport were all pretty expensive. I consider a hamburger and fries for $25 a bit much. We finally decided it wasn't going to get any better and ordered one to split. While we waited for it to arrive, I found a map online for the airport. Wouldn't you know. There was a Wendy's just a few steps from our gate. We didn't check the prices. We didn't need to make ourselves feel worse.

Embarkation for the flight to Rome went fairly smoothly considering it was a large full plane. Once everyone was settled, the announcement came that we would be delayed fifteen minutes because they couldn't get the video system to work. Someone had already spent four hours troubleshooting, she said. Then another announcement and another delay. By the time they decided we could do without, we were almost an hour late taking off. 

Now you wouldn't think the video system would be all that important. Just entertainment. Not so. Not only do they rely on it for the safety talk, which somehow managed to make it most of the way through, but it also controls the individual lights overhead. Thankfully Bob had some movies he could watch on his iPad. Others weren't so fortunate and they were bored. The noise level in the plane rose as many around us were all part of a tour group and shouted to one another.

Cue the turbulence. I didn't think Hurricane Lee was close enough to affect us yet but I'm guessing that's what gave us a rough start. "Dinner" was delayed almost an hour until we were through the rough ride. When it did roll down the aisle, there was a nasty smell of food. Not appetizing at all. Our choices were pasta that was swimming in a watery sauce and some sort of chicken dish with rice. The entrees were accompanied by some sort of little greens and a clump of barley salad and a roll that was hard enough to make me worry I would break a tooth biting into it. Thankfully our expensive hamburger was still with us and we weren't that hungry anyway.

But wait! There's more. Off and on turbulence delayed some of the dinner cleanup. By the time we were ready to try to get some zzzs, the lights were finally dimmed. Now comes the fun part. There was no way to turn on your individual light above the seat so if you had reading material that wasn't digital, you were out of luck unless you could see well in dim light. Then there were the people who were bored. The couple in the seats across the aisle got into a loud discussion about the music choices of the wife and what hubby wanted to listen to. The guy in the seat just in front of him couldn't keep his pillow under his head and it kept flying in my direction. Then the best one. I still don't know what they were looking for but the couple turned on their phone lights and weren't careful about where the beams were directed. I'm usually pretty patient but I was ready to say something when finally the lights turned off. 

Between off and on turbulence which meant the loud seat belt tone was off and on, and the flight stewards coming through shaking plastic bags calling out "garbage" or "trash" and finally the water run. "Water! Anyone want water?" if we slept an hour out of the seven hour flight, I would be surprised. 

But we landed safely, made it through immigration smoothly, found the train to Rome from the airport and our hotel that was just around the corner from the train station. At this point I was truly grateful that Bob had arranged for an early checkin. We were ready to crash.

And then...the key wouldn't work for the door to our room. To make a long story shorter, it required the manager and then the maintenance man before the key would work. Good morning Roma!

Monday, September 11, 2023

Crystal Serenity Cruise Reflections

It's time for a little reflection about our Crystal Serenity cruise around Iceland. Our day at sea and the last full port day in Reykjavik was spent enjoying time on the ship. All too soon though it was time to pack up and head for home.

We had searched several times for a tour where we could keep our luggage with us and end up at the airport but nothing we found would get us to the airport at the right time. Crystal provided a hospitality suite and transportation to the airport for those who had booked air with them. For a charge of $70/person those of us who had booked our own air could take advantage of the program. Since we had onboard credit we had not used, we were able to purchase the option for a much lower price.

Our departure morning started with our last breakfast in the Waterside, the main dining room and saying more goodbyes to staff and crew. At nine we left the ship, retrieved our luggage and went to the bus that would take us into the city to the concert hall where our hospitality suite was. It was pouring rain and windy. They loaded our luggage on a truck that would take it to the airport where we would later claim it and we were on our way.

We had only seen the concert hall from the outside. It is an unusual building and even more intriguing from the inside. Bob noticed that no two windows were alike. Must have been a real challenge putting it all together. 

There were two restaurants in the building, one on the first floor and the second on the fourth floor. Crystal had reserved the fourth floor restaurant for us. There were about 72 waiting for their afternoon flights and more coming in who had arrived on early flights for the next cruise. Refreshments were available and we settled in for a time.

When the weather let up a bit, Bob decided it was time to get an Icelandic hot dog. There is a famous hot dog stand in the city that was visited once by Bill Clinton. Of course we had to try it out. The last time I had an Icelandic hot dog it was red and really didn't taste all that good. I wasn't enthused. 

A block or two from the concert hall, we found the hot dog stand. It was already busy at 11:30 with a tour group in line before us. I glimpsed one of the hot dogs and was relieved to discover that it wasn't the red variety. Bob had said that the dogs had some lamb meat in them. I still wasn't too enthused. A hot dog, I was afraid, would stay with me on the flight home and make me uncomfortable. 

You could get the dog with the works which included mustard, a couple of other toppings I didn't recognize and raw onions. I passed on the onions and just ordered it with mustard. To my surprise, the hot dog was mild tasting, not the spicy kind and the mustard was sweet. I devoured it.

Clinton's visit.

We made the forty-five minute ride to the airport comfortably on the bus and collected our luggage, much of which had already been transferred to an area just inside the door. We tucked our heavier jackets into the outside pocket of one. It would be a lot warmer arriving home. 

The airport has you print your own baggage tags and then take them to the baggage drop. It was a little confusing (and busy) at first but one of the attendants helped us figure it out. From there it was through immigration and security and into the bustling airport. We found a sandwich and chips and water to take with us on the flight. IcelandAir does not offer anything more than beverages unless you order ahead online.

The flight home was very comfortable with little air turbulence considering the the wind we had experienced on departure. Arriving in Detroit, we started our drive home. It was eight local time, midnight in Iceland. By the time we arrived home, it was 11:30, 3:30 am in Iceland. We dropped into bed.
Three puzzles done. One left.

A couple of days later at church, someone asked me what was the highlight of Iceland. There were so many things we saw, I couldn't really say but as I thought about it, the highlight of our trip was not so much the landscape we saw but the people we met both on land and on the ship. 

A good part of our enjoyment in the trip was being with the crew and staff of Serenity again. So many familiar faces and some new ones we got to know as well. Crystal's return to the sea by a new owner who recognized what made it great in the past has been astounding in a little over a year and a half. The crew was gathered from around the world where they had scattered after the bankruptcy and at least 80% of them have returned. For them it was like coming home. It was, in a way, for us as well. 

We took a few pictures of those who cared for us as we cruised. The crew is truly the heartbeat of Serenity and it is beating strong. We look forward to the future.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Torshavn, Faroe Islands

 The Faroe Islands is a small nation made up of eighteen islands. Torshavn is the capital and main port. The island nation belongs to Denmark but is mostly autonomous. It lies southeast of Iceland. We've been here before but again, our memories differ a bit. The excursion we chose was something we both agreed we had not done before. It was to visit the island of Vagar.

Our arrival into port was late morning and our excursion did not start until 1:45. The weather had turned a bit more chilly than the previous day and the sky had clouded over. Still, the landscape was amazing as we drove to our first stop on the tour. 

Our guide was named Napoleon. I thought that a strange name for this part of the world but later figured out that it probably wasn't his real name. He was a French teacher in school and had spent a year studying in France. I'm guessing his real name was maybe harder to pronounce or the entertainer in him chose a "stage name". He was entertaining. He carried a ukulele with him that he pulled out several times to sing with. 

Our first stop after going through a long tunnel that connected  the island of Vagar with the island of Streymoy where Torshavn is located was the small town of Sandavagur. The town's name has to do with the black sandy beach. Most of the beaches in Iceland and the Faroes are black sand because of the volcanoes that formed the land. 

We stopped at the iconic church with the red roof. It was built back during World War I. Napoleon handed us each a hymnal so that we could see what the written language looked like. We turned to one hymn which his translation led me to believe it was about the story of Peter wanting to walk on water with Jesus. I'm not sure, but our guide began to play his ukulele and sing the hymn in his language.

The church had a ship hanging from the ceiling between the two chandeliers, a reference to the Vikings perhaps? In the corner at the front of the church was a rune stone from the 13th century that honors the first Viking settler to the area. 

From the church we continued on to the Mulafossur Waterfall that was significant for its plunge into the ocean. It was described as a take-your-breath-away experience. Perhaps they meant because of the brisk walk? On a windy day though the flow of water is said to blow up into the air. Other waterfalls we had passed were more like water gently flowing down stairsteps so I guess this would be spectacular by those standards. The quaint town near the waterfall has only about 25 houses. We didn't get to explore there but the village we stopped in next was very similar in size.

Our greeter resting on the roof.

A short drive from the waterfall was the village of Bour. The bus parked in a lot slightly above the town whose narrow streets would barely let a car pass let alone a bus. We walked down to the Pakkhusid, a house that was once a warehouse for the fishing industry.  Just as we neared the house a beautiful dog, maybe a collie mix, came bounding up to us, paused and waited for a greeting. As soon as I talked to him, he cuddled up and enjoyed a little scratch behind the ears and then bounded off again as if to lead the way. So sweet.

The house which dates back to 1861 was painted in black as were most of the others in the village. It's a traditional color as our lecturer on the ship had explained, it was a mixture of tar with other things to make the paint. They used it back in the day before all the colorful paints became available. Also traditional or not, most of the roofs were sod. and yes, they have to mow the roof on occasion. 

As the granddaughter of the original owners explained, the floor below the one where we were having coffee and cake was slanted as that is where they salted and dried the fish. The slanted floor would help the water to run off. The warehouse has now become a restaurant and a place for social gatherings and has been preserved as a piece of their history.

I cannot tell you much about the bus ride back which took a little over an hour. Bob is no help there. He fell asleep before I did. We were both exhausted. This was a port intensive cruise and we had been going full speed for the whole week. Have I mentioned that we're getting much older? As a matter of fact Bob even celebrated another birthday and birthdays at this age are definitely a cause for celebration.

We had to really hustle when we arrived back at the ship as we only had about fifteen minutes before our reservation at the Tastes specialty restaurant. We weren't too worried though as we knew it would not be full and they would hold a place for us. As it turned out, we were only about ten minutes late. 

Dinner is ordered at the Tastes as samples of all sorts of dishes. We had a salad, some kind of Asian dish with raw fish, churrasco steak with sweet potato sticks and Mongolian lamb chops. It was the first time I have been disappointed with a meal on the cruise. We ordered some kind of dumpling that did not resemble any kind of Asian dumpling I'd seen before and my lamb was not the lamb I remembered from the past. It had a totally different flavor and was sitting in some sort of mint sauce. I'm one who thinks mint ruins the taste of lamb. The sweet potato sticks (more like logs) were very good however.

After dinner we went to listen to the piano music in the Avenue. I ordered a pot of green tea to try to warm up. The ship seemed so much colder and I think being tired I had gotten a chill. We listened, drank tea and struck up a conversation with another couple, then Bob went off to the show which was a tribute to Billy Joel that we'd seen many times before and I went up to the room to crawl into bed. It wasn't long before I was asleep. There would be no looking for Northern Lights again tonight.

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