Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Hamburg Germany

Hamburg, the second largest city in Germany, has more canals than Venice and the most bridges within city limits of any city in the world.

We found the Elbe pedestrian tunnel under the Elbe River about a mile East of the cruise port and walked it both ways about 90 feet under the river. The tunnel was built at the beginning of the 20th century.

 Proceeding North, we found the Hamburg red light district, called the Reeperbahn. A sign on a gated area of hotels forbids entry to all women and men under the age of 18.

The Trip Adviser App is amazing. We have no cell coverage but somehow the downloaded App map keeps track of exactly where we are and tells us when we are near a restaurant, hotel or attraction. Perhaps it is triangulating on someone else' cell towers?

 We catch a cab and visit the top rated German restaurant named Bruedigans in Hamburg. I have a pork dish and Mrs Phred has stuffed square ravioli. We exchange plates about halfway though the meal.

 Famous German composers can be heard through these openings in a gray building.

We manage the five mile walk back to the boat with the aid of the App although the streets are winding and the sun is mostly obscured by clouds.

Hamburg was firebombed in WWII with about 50,000 dead and a million evacuated.

Located in the zone of British occupation after WWII, Hamburg is where the Beatles got started in the Reeperbahn district. There is a Beatles Platz to commemorate this. Lenny Krazitz is coming here June 22. I like his work.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015


I admit it. Holland, the Netherlands, windmills, Belgium, polders, Dutch, dykes, tulips, who's the Queen? It's all very confusing to those of us Americans who are weak on geography and misspent our youth in the Pacific and Far East rather than the Atlantic and Europe.

OK, so Google says Belgium and Holland are not part of the Netherlands and Netherlands means “low country:. Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the main cities along with The Hague. Dutch is a language as in the expression ...”It's all Dutch to me.” and also a demonym (name used for the people who inhabit a region) .

 Dutch is the main language and Rotterdam is the largest port in the world. The current monarch is probably not a Queen whose name is Wilhelm Alexander. The government is a unitary parliament constitutional monarchy.

We first hit the Museum Park which has three fine museums. Due to time constraints we only visit the museum of Natural History which is compact, interesting and well-organized.

 Next we attempt to locate a small Dutch pub on Gaffenstaat but are foiled by a strange street numbering system. We make our way to the third objective (the train station) and enjoy the rest rooms, coffee, wifi and a chocolate chip cookie.

 I learn that the Trip Adviser App allows one to download entire cities for walking around convenience. That is the hopefully the end of my map problems. ( I dislike the words "hack" and "app" very much...hackneyed IMHO)

 Rotterdam has stunning architecture. It reminds us of Chicago with one amazing structure after another. The Allies can take some credit for that since they bombed Rotterdam into rubble in sort of an early urban renewal plan.

 The main hazards of Rotterdam and Amsterdam are being run down by bikes.

We make our way to see the Kubus houses which were built in 1984 and the nearby amazing Marthal Market which opened this year.

 We lose our map somewhere near the old harbor but eventually wander around for about an hour and find the Dutch pub where Mrs Phred wants to eat.

Back at the boat, I discover that I've lost my passport somewhere during our seven hour wander in Rotterdam. I call the pub on Skype and find that they have it. Time is running out on the ship departure si I grab a cab and arrive at the pub at 9 PM only to find it locked and shuttered. I bank on the window and the cleaning crew hands me the passport. I arrive back at the ship before it sails....a little excitement...I've always had what you might call sloppy good luck...its better than no luck or even bad luck...

Monday, 27 April 2015

Port of Le Havre in France

We get off the ship and grab a taxi to go see Les Jardins Suspendus (the hanging gardens). They are in an old fortress way up on the hill.

I figure we can walk back down into town easier than climbing up. Forts have a way of being up on hills overlooking harbours. It give the defenders a big advantage in range since they shoot cannons downhill and the attackers face the opposite physics.

The French taxi driver doesn't seem encouraging. He says “If you wish” in a voice that means “why would you go there?”. Later he tells us that tourists don't go there and that we can expect to walk back to town”.

The gardens, old fort and greenhouses are fascinating. We poke around for an hour or two and hike back into town. We have a crap Internet map and get lost until we find a tourist bureau and score a better map with street names and everything.

We have lunch at the Museum of Modern Art which boasts a large collection of early 20th century impressionist paintings. We split 50 CL of Sauvignon Blanc and a salmon sandwich.

There is a strange new church here built in 1948 after the 8th Air Force smashed most of the town to rubble. It has a tall tower with lots of stained glass.

We see some graffiti.

Museum art.

Views from the fort.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Cobh and Cork Ireland

Professor Schrodinger was driving through Cork when he was pulled over by a traffic cop.

"What's in the trunk?", the cop asks.
"My cat", replied the professor.
"Open it up.", says the cop.

The trunk is opened and the cop says, "This cat is dead!".

"It is now"!, the professor replies...

Anyway, more text later when the Wifi is better.

When I had lunch in a restaurant on the moon, the food was good, but there was no atmosphere.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Ponta Delgado, the Azores

Ponta Delgada in the Azores has good seafood, lots of black and white cows and stunning volcanic lakes.

We take a tour with Hugo from Green Vision tours. He does a great job narrating the island.

I'll make this a short blog because we're sitting in a restaurant using free wifi and the boat won't wait for us.

On the boat

The weather in the North Atlantic turned bad so the boat changed course, skipping Halifax and Canada,  and chugged six days to the Azores, 900 miles off the coast of Portugal.

The security office confiscated my "Michael Corleone" 12 inch switchblade. I guess they were worried that I might go berserk....more and more we are a nanny society...

We're four time zones east of Sarasota. Last night I watched the nightly movie on deck in the cold rain from the hot was very lonely out there...

Formal night on the Princess Regal....

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Bon Voyage

Heading out to the Russian Federation....Thr Princess Regal makes the Titanic look puny....

 I'm back in the U.S.S.R.
You don't know how lucky you are boy
Back in the U.S.
Back in the U.S.
Back in the U.S.S.R.

Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out
They leave the West behind
And Moscow girls make me sing and shout
That Georgia's always on my mind

Aw come on!
Ho yeah!
Ho yeah!
Ho ho yeah!
Yeah yeah!

In 23 days we go though Russian immigration in St. Petersburg....just in time for the Victory Day parades to celebrate crushing Hitler 70 years ago...I was just a tyke back then....

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Sailing Near Boca Grande

Ken and Karen invite us to go sailing with them one last time this season.

 We drive to the Pink Elephant in Boca Grande. They meet us on the dock with their rubber dinghy and transfer us to the Coyote.

 Boca Grande means "big mouth" in Spanish. It's an upscale community on Gasparilla Island.

 We have lunch on cabbage key. I order a Reuben sandwich and am pleasantly surprised to find that they substitute grouper for the pastrami. The ceiling has about $70,000 in currency attached by customers with scotch tape.

The area was inhabited by Calusa Indians from about 5,0000 B.C.  By the mid-18th century, the Calusa had all but disappeared, the victims of European diseases, slavery and warfare.

 Gasparilla Island and the big Gasparilla blowout in Tampa are both named after the legendary pirate, Jose Gaspar. Jose died in 1821 after many daring exploits. No trace of him appears in writing until about 80 years later. Some feel this calls his actual existence into question.

Ken is towing a dinghy for the first time. The noise it makes as the waves lap against the hull bother him a little. He like the silence of sailing quietly to and fro, going nowhere slowly

Boca Grande is best known for Tarpon fishing. Tarpon are large fish that fight fiercely. They are not good to eat so it's a sport that pretty much involves pure animal abuse. About 5,000 Tarpon a year are caught and released here (worse for wear).

We pass a pod of porpoises lat in the day and then say goodbye to Ken and Karen until perhaps next fall...