"" Writer's Wanderings: March 2016

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mini Cruise - Freeport, Grand Bahama

There was a time long ago, pre-retirement, when we would take a quick getaway and fly to Freeport and stay at the hotel that is now called the Grand Lucayan. It was always in November and sometimes the weather was a bit chilly for getting in the pool but at least the sun was usually shining and the time there was very relaxing. So it was with fond memories and that we looked forward to taking a walk down memory lane.

We were off the ship early and found our way to a taxi stand where we and ten other people were squeezed into a van and we were off--well so to speak. The van got a mile or so out and started to chug. Then the engine started to smell funny and the driver pulled off the road and made a phone call. He apologized and said that another taxi was picking us up. With that he turned the van around and met the other one a ways down the road. So much for a good start to the day. Ah, but it's all about the story, isn't it?

The taxi dropped all the other passengers off at a beach and then took us to Port Lucaya where the hotel, the casino and the market is. We were dropped off at the marketplace and managed to find our favorite spot for breakfast there, Zorbas. They must be doing well without us as it appeared they were expanding. The whole market place looked a lot spiffier than we remembered.

The casino that had taken so long for them to build and then before it even opened was damaged by a hurricane, was up and running but the hotel grounds where we had stayed so many times were off limits unless you were a guest. So much for that part of memory lane.

We explored the marketplace a bit more before calling it a morning and heading back to the ship. The ride back was uneventful and by the time we started for the ship we realized the port area had come alive--well more than when we'd left it.

There were all sorts of shops and food stands open and several DJs competing for attention. One was line dancing continuously to a loop of dance music he had playing. Several people were joining in. It wasn't until later in the afternoon while I was wandering the promenade deck that I noticed the young people had found Senor Frogs in the port. The place was jumping.

That night we ate at the Palace Restaurant, another complimentary meal that was quite good and then we enjoyed the production show put on by the entertainers on board. It was amazing. The theater was not full and I wondered where all the college kids were. This was there kind of high energy music and show.

This was actually during a lull in the action.
The pool was usually as full as that hot tub.
A stroll on the top deck looking down at the pool and hot tubs told the story. The ship had set up a BBQ at 3 PM and it kept feeding them until late night. I don't know if that was usual fare for NCL or if it was their way of coping with the young crowd that only wanted to mix and mingle. It worked.

Again, we were in bed earlier than the crowd and except for a little noise in the hallway once, we were not disturbed and the ship was headed to Nassau, our next stop.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Mini Cruise on NCL

We were up for a new adventure and since our kids were going to use our condo for a few days, we decided to go on a mini cruise. Originally we were going to go home and let them close up the condo but we wanted to put things back the way we found them--or better, and didn't want them to spend their vacation time doing that. We've never been on a Norwegian Cruise ship and there was one available for four days at a really good price. Of course it was an inside room but, hey, it was only for four days. We hadn't had an inside cabin since we first started cruising. It would be an adventure.

The adventure it turned out was not in that we were in a very, very small stateroom but that we didn't count on their being so many college students. Sure, we knew it was spring break and we'd taken a cruise once before where it was tough to find space in the hot tub but this--this was something else.

The fish on the hall carpet swim to the front of the ship.
Apparently there was a great package deal offered through a travel agency or two because there were a few private get-to-know-you parties for the kids. As Bob put it, the dress code was bikini, cover up optional and to save time, most of the kids were already in their swimwear as we checked in.

We were probably the oldest on the cruise ship or at least close to it. We did see a few other gray heads in the crowd. Undaunted we boarded with our carry-ons (only four days worth of casual clothes since NCL is not a dress up affair unless you want to) and checked the bags while we roamed the ship, grabbed lunch and waited for our rooms to be available.

The Norwegian Sky is an older ship and probably in need of some refurbishing but it was clean and presentable and ready to be well used by hundreds of college kids celebrating spring. The only thing that loomed large in my head was the fact that part of the special package NCL was offering included beverages--except for water that was $3.25/small bottle and $4.25 for a large. All the alcohol and soda was included in your cruise fee. Hmmm. I wondered how well this was going to go. 

Bob had made reservations for all of the restaurants even though it probably wasn't necessary. Our first night was in the Crossings which was one of the complimentary restaurants. We were given a table in the back of the restaurant that was by a rear window with a view of the Miami skyline as we left port and the sun was setting. Not only did we get a wonderful meal but the view was spectacular. 

The show was a bit disappointing. They had to move it from the theater to the center nightclub area because of a problem with the stage and the comedian had an awful time being heard over all the kids who were standing at the bar and talking and drinking. He made the best of it though and we did laugh through it.

The good news was that we were in bed before anything wild was going on and we were up so "early" the next morning that the ship was quite quiet and we didn't have any crowds as we exited to enjoy our first port of call, Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Through My Lens - Anatomy of an Easter Sunrise

After sharing so many sunsets over the last three months, I thought it was appropriate to share a sunrise. This was our Easter Sunday morning at John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo. There were about 300 gathered for the First Baptist of Key Largo services, only one group of many that dotted the shoreline of the keys at many beaches. It was a beautiful morning.


Friday, March 25, 2016

The Shark Named Bob

While our grandkids were visiting with us a couple of weeks ago, they did a lot of poking around in the shallow tidal pools created by large holes in the coral rock that lines most of the shore here. They found all sorts of things like hermit crabs, tiny shrimps, and small fish. The best find was a small nurse shark. It created quite a bit of excitement.

Since they left, Bob has checked on the shark every day. He's pointed it out to whoever asked what he was looking at. Most days it is there. We think it goes out to feed at night. It's only about a foot and a half long but I would guess it will grow out of its little cove before long and move on.

The others in our condo complex have generously named the shark Bob.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Places We Haven't Been

Alimatha Island Resort
People often ask us, "Is there some place you haven't been?" The answer: Oh, yes. Many. It's a great big world. Unfortunately we only have one lifetime to explore it and there's lots more for us to cover. That fact came to light when I scrolled through a list of 25 top hotels in a Smarter Travel.com article.

The Maldives popped up several times on their list. It is a place we've overlooked and perhaps need to take a look at for a future excursion. The Maldives is an island country located in the Indian Ocean southwest of India and Sri Lanka in the Laccadive Sea.

According to TripAdvisor, the number one thing do do in the Maldives is scuba and snorkeling. That fits quite well with our interests. There are plenty of leisure activities as well. The second thing on the  TA to-do list is a stay at Alimatha Island. Beaches, fishing, and I would guess more of that snorkeling would make for some fun times. From the reviews it appears there is lots of marine life to see even from the shore.

Then I found a place called Manta Point. From May to November there is a burst of plankton in the water in that area and it attracts the giant mantas in to feed. We have dived with the mantas in Papua New Guinea and it was one of the most awesome experiences we have had. I'm in! No need to look further. Put it on the bucket list.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Mama Owl

A nest with an ocean view
A few days ago I posted about the owl who fought the osprey in order to take over the osprey's nest. She really needed that nest. She was ready to start her family.

We revisited the nest after our friend from Quebec who has been monitoring it reported that there were two little heads showing up. When we went to dinner in the area, we decided to take a look for ourselves and sure enough, there were two snowy fluffy heads popping up in the nest.

Generally the Great Horned Owl has two offspring. What I read says that they usually take over an abandoned hawk or heron nest but will fight for one if necessary as apparently this one did. They are ferocious night time hunters and our friend said he saw the remains of several mice one day when he was there.

Eggs are generally produced sometime between December and March and take 26-35 days to hatch. The young ones cannot fly for 9-10 weeks and are dependent upon the parent for food. Judging from that we should have a few more weeks of observing their progress. What a privilege!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Finding Entertainment in the Keys

This is the first year we have stayed a full three months in the Florida Keys. Guess that makes us official snow birds now.  While there are not a lot of shopping malls, large theaters, fancy restaurants, there is still plenty to keep you occupied.

Every night the sunset is celebrated. In our complex people gather together at the club house or at the picnic tables along the shore and watch for the green flash or the afterglow which can be quite spectacular when the clouds light up in the sky with all sorts of bright colors.

Add to that the pelicans that are always entertaining, the occasional dolphin pack that passes by, the manatees and all the critters you can discover in the small tidal pools along the shore.

In addition to all of that are some unique shopping opportunities. I like the Pink Junktique store for its originality. Then there's Shell World where you can get most any kind of shell and plenty of other stuff to take home should you feel the need for souvenirs. On our morning walks we pass by a custom golf cart place that has all sorts of original designs for golf carts. Bob's favorite is the Rolls Royce version.

Restaurants are very casual. It's the Keys! Sandals, flip flops and shorts are the norm. And while they may not be the fanciest of places the food offerings are really great.

We have enjoyed the almost weekly fairs and festivals. The annual nautical flea market was amazing as was the arts and crafts market at one of the churches. There is a snow crab festival that backs up traffic for miles because it is so popular.

This year we also took in an wonderful production of Shrek, The Musical, by The Keys Players community theater. And the First Baptist Church of Key Largo had a group that performed one night with music, martial arts and an amazing motor cross bike demonstration.

Time is running out for our stay here but we'll be entertained to the end.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Failte Ireland!

There is not an Irish gene in my body but Ireland has always been part of me. You see, I’m a St. Patrick’s Day baby! Yes, every year growing up Mom and I would try to think of some treat to take to school that wasn’t so green the kids wouldn’t eat it. When my co-travel addict, my husband, decided Ireland was the next place on the bucket list to visit, there was no argument from me.

We started in Dublin and traveled clockwise around the whole island ending back in Dublin. Along the way we feasted on Irish delicacies, visited ancient sites, roamed quaint streets, watched the ocean crash into huge stone cliffs, heard tales of giants and leprechauns, drank in the purpled fields of heather, and marveled at the numbers of sheep we met in the middle of the road. A month on the road stopping for a night or two in places like Waterford, Cobh, Kinsale, Killarney, Galway, Dingle, Potrush, Londonderry, and Belfast passed by quickly as we sampled Irish hospitality all along the way. It all sounds so romantic. And looking back now, it was.

We came home with over 1500 digital pictures. But the things that I value most from the trip are the impressions of people and places that will enrich my characters and settings in novels yet to come. For example, we had heard that in order to preserve the original Gaelic language, there were pockets in some communities where only Gaelic was spoken.  In one little town where we stopped for tea and scones, an elderly gentleman started past our outdoor table on his way in to the bakery. The gentleman, weathered and bent from years of perhaps shepherding or farming, tipped his hat to us and rattled off a greeting in Gaelic, none of which we understood. We smiled and nodded and he continued to speak to us never halting to see if we would answer. I have no idea what he said but it appeared to be friendly from the expression on his face. With a wink, he disappeared through the door leaving us to wonder what we had missed with no translation. Somewhere he will fit into a story, I’m sure.

Towns and cities were representative of their struggles of the past. The playfulness in the colors of Kinsale’s homes and businesses reflected the release of restrictions from British laws that required more “proper” decoration and were a stark contrast to the intense murals of Belfast that mark the period called the Troubles. So much history shapes the country and the people of the Emerald Island as it does all countries and peoples. Whether as a writer, one gets to travel the world or only their own community, there is a wealth of material on which to build characters and settings. The key is to observe, tuck the images in your mind, and look for what makes them so unique.

I also learned that the Irish are great storytellers. There is a story behind most everything you see in Ireland. The Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland is a prime example. The natural wonder was said to be made by two fighting giants, one from Scotland and one from Ireland. Through a very clever trick of the Irish giant’s wife, he won the battle without even fighting.

Thinking back to all those great Irish storytellers we heard along the way—well, maybe I do have a bit o’the Irish in me after all. 

For a look at our Ireland trip use the Ireland Posts Page

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Manatee Madness

Kayaking on the Florida Bay has been one of the joys of our time here in the winter. We have found places to spot iguana, manatees and even a crocodile. It seems like there is always something new to discover.

On one outing we paddled down to the marina where we usually see the manatees. We weren't disappointed. There were three there floating around and snorting. Sometimes I think they are actually sunning themselves. They love the marina because when people wash the salt water off their boats, the fresh water is available to them. We've seem them actually come up to the back of the boat and suck on the scuppers (the drains) to get the fresh water. Otherwise they get their freshwater from eating the sea grass or finding a freshwater spring that empties into the salt water. They can go a long time though without the fresh water.

After a time of watching and muddling around the docks to see the manatees there we headed off for the lagoon where we have seen the crocodile and usually see lots of iguanas. We paddled through the channel and out into the lagoon and headed for the smaller end where the croc usually is.

Halfway across we noticed quite a commotion in the water. At first I thought it might be a feeding frenzy of some sort but when we realized it was a group of manatees, we knew that wasn't what was happening. As a matter of fact. . .yep. . .it became obvious. There were several males and one female. The female would break away once in a while and then the males would scramble after her. She gave them a merry chase and then they would all end up in a pile together churning up the water.

I tried to get Bob to video the action with his phone but he didn't want to invade their privacy. Such a thoughtful guy. And we certainly didn't want to get too close to take still shots. I have never seen manatees expend so much energy or move so fast.

The good news is that sometime next year, right around this time, we may get to see a baby manatee. Gestation is twelve months.

Wouldn't it be neat to see it born?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pelican Patience

This year I broke down and bought a Florida fishing license. I bought a non-resident-three-day for when our grandson visited but ended up committing to a year long license a few weeks later. It will be good for our return next year and I am enjoying the peace and quiet that sitting and watching a bobber brings on a warm calm day.

Now I've had plenty of fishing buddies in the past. Growing up there was my dad, my mom, my brother, the kid next door and my grandfather. I've even fished with the guy who hates fishing, Bob. He goes once in a while as a concession to me. Of course the next generation, my grands, are fishing some too. Our Florida grandson especially and he was no slouch when it came to hooking fish. By the end of our fishing time together he was even taking them off the hook by himself.

Fishing on the dock here in Florida is a bit crowded at times though. You see when the pelicans spot a fishing pole, they flock to the dock and wait. The first time we were surrounded by a half dozen. The more that came, the more they closed in on us and started grunting. The grunting was to tell another pelican to back off. We tried not to feed them our catch but unfortunately several didn't make it back into the water soon enough and were scooped up which only made the pelicans more determined. So much so that one got tangled in my line. I was about to cut it when all of a sudden he shook it off. I think he'd had some experience.

This morning I was out fishing on my own. The Florida grandson is back home. I thought it would be a little lonely but sure enough, a pelican that was flying by spotted my pole and the bobber in the water and made a u-turn. He settled in the water about 20 feet away from the bobber and watched it with me. There seemed a glint of optimism in his eye. Certainly he was being quite patient. But then that's the sign of a good fisherman: patience sprinkled with optimism. It paid off for one of us.

Friday, March 11, 2016

When Is An Osprey Not An Osprey?

Several years ago we rented our first condo in Florida and it happened to be near an osprey nest. It was fascinating watching the comings and goings of the inhabitants. The nests are huge and are all over the Florida Keys. Many of them are actually on tall posts that have been specifically placed for the osprey to nest on. I'm guessing it's to encourage them not to use the lamp posts on the highways.

The osprey is also called the fish eagle, sea hawk, river hawk or fish hawk and by its other names you can tell that its main diet is fish. We watched one day as the osprey carried a wiggling fish to its nest to feed on. I'm guessing there might have been some little ones in there to feed as well.

This year we have met a fellow from Quebec who is an avid photographer and osprey watcher. He pointed us to a nest he'd discovered where we were at least eye level with it. On our way north to pick up our granddaughter, we pulled off the exit ramp of the Overseas Highway to check it out and sure enough, there was an osprey on the nest. Our friend said that there are several young ones in the nest but we couldn't see them. I think mama osprey was shielding them.

Another spot we were directed to was at a local hotel that has three stories and at the end of one of the buildings is an osprey nest. This one begs the question: when is an osprey not an osprey? Answer: when the nest has been taken over by an owl. According to reports the owl fought valiantly to take over the nest and won. The hotel personnel we spoke with says they expect to see offspring soon.

Nature provides abundant entertainment in the Keys.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Theater Of The Sea

One of the favorite places our grandkids like to visit is the Theater Of The Sea in Islamorada just south of Key Largo. It was requested again this year by one of our granddaughters when she came to spend her time with Grandma and Grandpa.

Actually, I like it better than Sea World. It is a lot more intimate and you get closer to the marine animals so you can actually see them. The dolphin show of course is my favorite. We watch it twice each time we go.

Let me explain. The show schedule is set up so that you go from one venue to the next and can jump in at any spot on the schedule and follow through all the shows. It takes about three or four hours to see it all (including the extra show we took in).

There is also a beach where you can catch some rays, snorkel, or just sit and relax. Opportunities to swim with the dolphins and now feed the sharks cost extra but everything else, the bird show, the dolphin show, the sea lion show, the short boat ride through the lagoon accompanied by dolphins, and the ponds that hold all sorts of other marine animals are all included.

The two dolphin shows were just a little different. I suspect it was due to the time of day, the attitude of the dolphins and the change in trainers in the water with them.

Still, it is fascinating to watch these magnificent animals with their grace and power in the water and the gentleness that they exhibit when it comes to getting kissed by a dolphin. I was kissed a few years ago when we dove with them in the Bahamas. When all the kissing was done this time, our granddaughter touched her cheek and said, "I'm never washing that cheek again."

Monday, March 07, 2016

Books For The Road - Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

As I was browsing through possible books for reading, I came across Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee and realized I hadn't put that on my reading list yet. I downloaded it to my Kindle and then was surprised to hear that the next day Harper Lee had passed away. I have read Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles Shields and knew that To Kill A Mockingbird was the one novel that she'd written and published. A while later the Watchman book came out.

It is said that Watchmen is possibly a rough draft of the Mockingbird or one that was written first and then discarded for the Mockingbird. It is a lot more caustic as far as the racial overtones go. There is still a lot of the old lovable Scout there but she is all grown up now and upon her return home is horrified to discover that Atticus is not the man she had built him up to be.

The last half of the book is quite a look into some of the attitudes of the South as they were learning to adjust to the new freedoms of the black population. I think it's set in the very early sixties and just before or just as the marches were beginning and integration was a hard reality for a culture that had been separated for so long by the color of a person's skin.

Nothing is solved really in the book as far as racial attitudes go but then nothing is really solved today although I would hope we are a little further along.  Scout's Uncle Jack tells her, "Every man's watchman is his conscience." Like Jean Louise, I too don't understand. Why do we still have those racial lines?

A book for the road? Yes, if you want to be challenged a bit. Be aware, you may be a bit offended as well but Lee does a decent job of presenting the opinions of the times. I'm really glad though that it evolved into the Mockingbird story. I like the showing of the story better than the telling.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Mrs. Noah's Cruise - Part III

For the Noahs, this was a real Do-It-Yourself cruise. How many of you have ever gone camping with the family or taken one of those vacations where you rent a condo for the week? If you are like most wives and mothers, you packed, you cooked, you picked up after everyone, and you may have even had to clean and do the laundry. Can we imagine it was any different for Mrs. Noah?

First there was all the rain. That at least floated the boat but there wasn’t much opportunity for lounging in the sun on the deck. And incidentally, all those passengers needed looking after. What do you do with a seasick elephant?—give him lots of room. And what about those rabbits that seemed to be mathematically precocious? Where was she going to put them all?

Yes, it was a real adventure and I’m sure Mrs. Noah was happy to see the top of Mt. Ararat appear in the distance as the sun broke through once again. Incidentally, the forty night cruise turned into 150 days before they set foot on dry land. That’s an around the world cruise today!

I’ll bet she was glad to see the cruise end but at the same time, what an amazing journey—an adventure unlike any other. Something to tell her grandchildren about for years to come—As a matter of fact the story is still being told. It was truly an adventure of faith.

If you were to ask Mrs. Noah, she’d tell you:
Adventures of a spiritual nature often come in unusual and unique ways.
Remember, as you sail on in your spiritual adventure, to ask Jesus to calm the storms.
Know that God is there wherever your journey may take you. 

Friday, March 04, 2016

Mrs. Noah's Cruise - Part II

Noah and his wife finally put the finishing touches on the ship, oiled all the teak, and were ready to begin embarkation. Mrs. Noah got all her cruise wardrobe packed and set the suitcases out for the porters to take on board. She happened to see the porters as they picked them up and she wasn’t happy with the way they handled the luggage. The only way to describe them was: they were gorillas.

She boarded the ship and took her welcome aboard drink from the server who was decked out in bright feathers and kept squawking “hello.” Something seemed odd about this cruise already but she just couldn’t put her finger on it.

The cabin was a bit small but comfortable and with a window. She’d wanted a balcony but Noah had insisted it wouldn’t be necessary. When her luggage arrived in the room, she tucked away all the clothes in the bureaus and closet and then went up on deck to watch the other passengers board the ship. 

She was appalled! They were real animals! Some were hairy and loud. Some were rather large and clumsy. Others, well, it was just not the kind of company she’d expected to have dinner with in the dining room.

Mrs. Noah sighed and took out the book she brought to read, found a deck chair and then slathered on her sun block. She sat back and closed her eyes to enjoy a few rays of sun only to be interrupted by her husband.

           “What are you doing?” he asked.
           “I’m relaxing a bit,” she told him. “I think I’ve earned a little rest and relaxation after all this ship building.”
           “I think you’ll want to get your rain gear out,” he told her.
           “Rain gear? What are you talking about? The sun’s out. I want to get a tan.”
           Noah took her to the side railing. “Honey, take a look out there. Do you see any water?”

Mrs. Noah looked out on a dry sandy soil. There wasn’t even a backyard creek running through the yard. Now she realized what had been bothering her. How do you cruise on a ship when there’s no water? 

           “What kind of a ship is this if there’s no water to cruise on?” she asked Noah.
           “It’s an ark. God’s gonna provide all the water we need and we’re going to save all the animals of the world and have a wonderful cruise as well. You did remember to bring your sense of adventure, right?”

[Now when anyone tells you to bring your sense of adventure on a trip, you know you’re in for an unusual adventure. Trust me on this. That’s what our cruise company told us when we were going to China. It truly was a unique adventure. ]

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Mrs. Noah's Cruise - Part I

How many of you have ever said, “I’m waiting for my ship to come in?” I used to hear that term a lot when I was growing up. Every time my dad was dreaming of getting something big or doing something he’d always dreamed of, he would say he had to wait for his ship to come in.

Have you ever wondered what that ship would look like? Perhaps a big yacht? Or an oil freighter? Or maybe a cruise ship?

I think Noah’s wife was thinking cruise ship when Noah started talking about his ship coming in. Mrs. Noah, was probably very excited when she heard her husband talking about a cruise—a forty day cruise no less! I can see her sitting at her kitchen table, sipping coffee and turning pages of the latest cruise brochure.  Dreaming of exotic ports of call, warm sandy beaches, chilled fruit smoothies.

And then Noah handed her a hammer and said he needed her help building the ship.

Well, wives are pretty resilient. And I’m sure Mrs. Noah after a bit of negotiating with Noah, decided it was better to help build the ship than to not get to cruise at all. The ship began to take shape and of course, then she had to endure all the gossip about what was going on in their backyard. She took to telling people in the grocery store that her ship had come in—it was just in pieces and they had to put it together.

[Thankful I've never had to build my own cruise ship. But wait! The story gets even better.]

Mrs. Noah's Cruise - Part II
Mrs. Noah's Cruise - Part III

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Destination: Tokyo

Several times Tokyo has been our destination. While it may seem intimidating because of the language difficulty, we have had the privilege of being guided by our daughter-in-law who is Japanese. Not having to worry about the language eased our anxiety the first time when we all went as a family for the wedding our our son and his wife. We spent several days in Tokyo before going on to Sapporo where we were privileged to attend a traditional Shinto wedding ceremony and the big reception that followed.

Our son and his family have moved to Tokyo for a few years and it gave us the opportunity to visit again. It is an amazing city and, we discovered, the language difference is not such a big deal. People are for the most part very helpful and with some sign language, pointing to maps, etc., you can usually find your way all right. With a little pre-study, you can decipher the train system and easily find your destination with a good guide book.

Recently I learned that there is also a Tokyo Free Guide service with English speaking guides who will design a tour for you according to your interests and guide you around the city. You only need to pay for food and transportation.

Tokyo is a city made up of many districts and each has a unique flavor not only in their foods but in the architecture, shops, and entertainment opportunities. For instance, Yokohama is on the water and home to the Cup of Noodle museum. It has a beautiful boardwalk and lovely shops and restaurants. Then there is the electronics section, Akibara, that is not to be missed if you are at all interested in those things. One afternoon, we visited the Chinatown of Tokyo and found an excellent restaurant.

There is so much to see--it is a huge city. You really need to plan ahead so that you catch the things you truly want to see and still have time to explore and discover and taste.

Next up for us in Japan: Climbing Mount Fuji. Watch for my posts this late summer/fall. I just hope I can keep up with the grandkids.

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