Living with dogs

On a much cheerier topic (or not as the case may be) I might have just mentioned that Daughter #2 and her husband Alex relocated to our area this fall. Winters in Chicago are challenging at the best of times and not fun at all if you are trying to manage to keep your feet while walking a rambunctious dog on ice and snow.

So they are out here, temporarily in our house.

Actually, having talked with several of our friends in the area, this is not at all uncommon. Adult children moving in for various lengths of time sometimes with spouses, partners, off spring and pets. Friends over in Marin mentioned that with the recent move out of daughter & husband they found themselves missing the dogs.

Me? I could very easily live without these two.

Dog #1v

Dog #1v

Dog #2

Dog #2

 

Both obviously look sweet and innocent. Not a pup that would attempt to climb on a table, or a counter or dig through the trash. Oh, no, not them…..

Did I mention that one of their favorite activities is barking? Since we replaced the windows this past year traffic sounds are just about absent. But that doesn’t mean that we still don’t get squirrels in trees hanging there laughing or deer strolling across the grass discussing which of my trees they are going to decimate this time.

Books

The third book in Nora Roberts Guardian Trilogy was released yesterday. I am partway through in audio. Mike Lewis’s new non-fiction book – The Undoing Project was also released. I had already placed it on my list of books to get; reinforced by an interview on NPR. Unfortunately he isn’t reading his own work this time, but the reader seems to be ok.

Navigating the VA

A few of you who are reading this have been in the military/are in the military/have dealt with the VA system. In spite of all the bad press (most of it related to administrative problems and not actual quality of care) I am certainly a fan of having a VA Medical System. Yes, admittedly it is more easily used by those who are in the larger cities and more challenging for those in remote locations. No, it is not military sick call, nor can you dictate a list of what you want and expect to just be handed a bag of medications.

The price for most of us is certainly right. The system does means test those coming in with non-service related medical problems. At least that is what I have read. Considering that the VA considered me 100% I haven’t had to worry about any paperwork other than to keep repeating “I don’t have any other medical insurance.

In the back of my mind, I had the occasional feeling of guilt about being considered “disabled.” After all, the non-Hodgkins lymphoma on which they rated me (plus secondary resultant medical conditions which certainly are valid) was back in 1995. Since I never received chemo or rads, I was considered in remission rather than cured. Remission implies disease could possibly come back. Almost unheard of after 15 years, but the possibility always exists.  Meanwhile, an amount lands in my savings account every month

Some of this moved to the front of my mind when I flew home from the UK rather than take the Navigator. Something just wasn’t right. The ER doc at the SF VA wasn’t impressed with my concerns. He ordered some routine stuff and told me to follow up with primary care. This was a Friday night. On Monday I went over to the Oakland Outpatient VA Clinic who did take me seriously. Labs were ok, exam wasn’t normal and most certainly my ultrasound wasn’t. Had the pleasure of getting my first CT in almost two decades on an urgent basis. Huh – what the ???? is that where my right kidney should be. Since I’m not exactly fat, a mass in my abdomen takes talent to miss.

Since then I have met some lovely providers and talked to several more on the phone. The extremely knowledgeable and kind urology staff of the Sacramento VA called and said that I needed to have a biopsy soonest but she didn’t think it was going to be diagnosed as renal. The interventional radiologist (same place) was amazing; pathology came to do on the spot touch preps as well as take samples for further diagnostics. Their assessment? You had it before and it is baaaackkk… (Fenton – Death Sheep from Hell kept running through my mind  – the Tom Smith song from 1992/4). Following that starts the rounds of “get this lab, see that person, you need a couple more tests, there is this thing called a port……”

I’m neither amused nor dancing with joy. I had a lot of travel planned for after the first of the year:

  1. Lapland for wildlife and Aurora photography in Jan
  2. Amazon cruise and Machu Pichu with George in Feb
  3.  The final two cruises of the Legend in March
  4.  April starts the As home game season
  5. End of April through mid-may on the Rhapsody followed by a meeting in Barcelona
  6. and then potentially an OAT trip lasting till mid-June.

 

Obviously my schedule has had to undergo a bit of an adjustment. I’m still talking with SAS about being able to move my airfare to next year (rather than lose it completely). The lovely guys in Sweden were able to fill my slot and gave me a complete refund. Transfer to something else for Feb is being worked on. I’ll swap the Rhapsody TA for 8-11 in Munich for a NATO meeting followed by ISTM in Barcelona the following week. OAT has been slid.

My oncologist is willing to work with me on a treatment schedule that is not going to leave me weak and hairless. Unless something amazing comes up on the last rads test I have a chronic and indolent lymphoma. It has probably been growing for a long time. You control it; cure is not really feasible (without taking me out in the process).

Next week I get to go over to the SF VA (again) for a confirmatory opinion and hopefully the first round of treatment since my tumor size dictates that in-patient would be really, really smart. I’ll keep up the commentary here. Since for the next few months there isn’t going to be much travel going on, I won’t be offended if you don’t chose to drop by. Other than my whining, anything else is likely to be about knitting, sewing and reading.

Oh, and sleeping. Sleeping is really good!

Thanksgiving

For those of you who have been reading my various emails since 1998 or blog postings since 2007, my going off line for a while has happened on occasion. As you might expect, it happens when there is absolutely nothing of interest going on. So boring that I can’t drum up enough energy to tell you that I am bored or that there is simply nothing worth saying. Not depression mind you, just lack of anything worth sharing.

There have also been those occasional other times when there is so much going on that I can’t find the time, or I don’t have internet, or am simply overwhelmed. These last couple of weeks have fallen some where in the middle. No death defying students (see jumping out of airplanes in 2007) or hiking in mountainous foothills (2015) or getting shot at in combat zones (1998, 2010, 2011). And I most certainly am not participating in NaNoWrMo. I like to read garbage fiction but do not have the imagination to create something that I would be interested in reading, much less inflict on anyone else.

Instead, I am in Berkeley where our Thanksgiving is going to be a continuous dance of family coming and going. The only one who is not here is Miriam who seems to be thoroughly enjoying her job in NYC. Dani is working ~ 0700-1230. She and Alex (SIL) spent most of yesterday cooking so I have little to do today other than enjoy everyone and eat. Shana will be coming over this morning and is meeting friends late afternoon. Noah works 1100-2030. Alex is off today. George has conference calls since today is a normal business day in the rest of the world.

We have veggies, lots of veggies, soup, stuffing,  pies and torts, turkey for those inclined, pumpkin scones and a loaf of Chalapenjo for taste/humor/and a bit of other tradition. It looks like dinner at 1300 and 1830. I don’t think anyone is going to have a problem eating several times. There should be leftovers. OTOH – it is only a 20# turkey!

a small football

To actively think about one’s death is to admit to human frailties. An acknowledgement that life ends and while living there are limitations/ It is as if the act of just considering affects the fabric of personal reality. It is thus  I sit with fingers on keyboard in the dark of the night admitting that I will not enjoy today. My trip to Sacramento, to the VA hospital will mark much more than the last week, a defining line in my transition from person to patient.  I could visit an ER, get a CT scan, consult on the phone. But the act this morning of signing into Radiology to have a needle stuck into me for a biopsy changes everything.

It isn’t like I really have a choice. What was even a few weeks ago a “huh?” is now fact that can’t be avoided. It is not that I weigh all that much that I have to wonder how this tumor has managed to successfully  hide itself for so long/. Perhaps it hasn’t been all that long, which brings its own bit of coolness along the spin as a different story, a sooner ending travels up my nerves and into my brain.  If it hasn’t been there all that long, then it is even more rapidly growing than I want to consider and my time left is less than I want to admit.

So today I get to hold still while the radiologist sticks a needle into what used to be my right kidney while i attempt to hold myself together. My original plan has already been foiled by the alien thing inside which apparently is situated such that it simply can’t been excised. Do I care how things are usually done? Not really. I want it gone but am realistic enough to admit I can’t force surgeons into a no win situation; to perform a surgery that they don’t think has even a small chance of leaving them with a living patient rather than a blood bath.

So at 0430 in the morning I lay here quietly thinking. Listening to an audiobook. Letting George get the sleep that he will need in order to drive me to  Sacramento. I’ve spoken with my kids. Tried to reassure them while inside I know that my choices are limiting to a narrow path with an end in sight. I’m not even angry that my 21 year respite from disease is at an end. I am too weary for that. I am simply glad for those years, for family, friends and the travel I have been able to do. Regretful for those things which I had planned that are simply not going to happen. But we all run out of time, no matter how long or short our lives.

Istanbul

Why, might you ask, am I talking about Istanbul. It certainly is not in a direct line from the UK to San Francisco.

The answer is both simple and complex. Taking a one-way flight at the last minute is not easy and potentially not cheap. When I decided to head back to the US rather than board the ship I started looking at tickets. Flying directly from the UK is of course limited to American Carriers or British Airways. If I didn’t want the last seat in the back of coach in the middle, the price was obscene. Unlike Southwest which prices flights individually, most of the long haul carriers severely penalize you for flying one way. In fact, the one-way prices are normally more than double the roundtrip. I wanted to be comfortable on the flight, but not enough to be bankrupt. There is also the small matter of preferring  Star Alliance to accumulate more miles.

Of all of my options – Turkish Airlines once again offered the best value. Which explains why I boarded a plane last night for Istanbul after taking the National Express Bus to Heathrow. I had arrived way too early at Heathrow but one of the counter people took pity on me and saw me checked in. It is much more comfortable to wait in a lounge than a random seat outside Check-In when your flight leaves at 2230 in the evening.

Its less than four hours from London to Istanbul. The international terminal is almost as fancy as Abu Dhabi.  All of the high end boutiques have a presence as well as the usual shops you expect to find in the airport. The THY lounge is amazing with two levels, arches and traditional Moorish appearing architecture. Stumbling in at what is now 0500 in the morning, I found a comfortable pull out lounge chair and managed a few hours of dozing. After that, I munched my way through a variety of Mid-Eastern cuisine offerings.

The lovely thing about Turkish Airways is that the service they offer in Business Class is about equal to what most airlines offer in 1st. Not only do the seats flatten, but the cabin attendant makes the seat into a bed complete with small mattress, a second pillow and decent covers. In fact the only thing they don’t offer is pajamas. In case you were wondering – business class was cheaper than premium economy on all the other carriers and less than coach on Lufthansa or United.  Spending several thousand for a one-way coach ticket is just beyond me.

The meals were lovely, I managed a few hours of sleep on the flight and George picked me up at SFO.

What more could I want?

The Cruise I didn’t take

Navigator of the Seas – 13 days from Southampton to Miami followed by a flight back to Oakland on the day before Thanksgiving. I’d been feeling kind of crappy and decided to head home rather than not have fun for those same 13 days, especially the 7 consecutive going across the Atlantic. Have a flight tonight out of Heathrow heading home.

 

Southampton to MIA

Southampton to MIA

er

Actually, this is a simple solution to getting home from Europe. Never mind that I will preferentially take a ship anytime over flying when the costs are equal…. This ship is the same class as the Mariner which I sailed on a few years ago and the Explorer (which I took last fall and this spring just past). Bigger than I prefer, but the dates were just about as perfect as I could imagine. This was also the cruise which replaced the Rhapsody as my TA ship. The dates on that one conflicted with the meeting just past in Vienna, and since the cruise line asked me to reschedule due to their changing the departure date – I was paid with OBC to change ships. Confusing? Sorry, let us just say that I lucked on my obliviousness to the dates in the first place and wound up fanatically ahead for my ignorance.

any way – here is the

 

ITINERARY

DAY DATE PORT ARRIVE   DEPART
Thu Nov 10 London (Southampton), England 4:30pm
Fri Nov 11 At Sea
Sat Nov 12 At Sea
Sun Nov 13 At Sea
Mon Nov 14 At Sea
Tue Nov 15 At Sea
Wed Nov 16 At Sea
Thu Nov 17 Boston, MA 8:00am 5:00pm
Fri Nov 18 New York (Manhattan), NY 4:00pm
Sat Nov 19 New York (Manhattan), NY 8:00pm
Sun Nov 20 At Sea
Mon Nov 21 At Sea
Tue Nov 22 Port Canaveral, FL 7:00am 7:00pm
Wed Nov 23 Miami, FL 7:00am

which will also potentially give me time to visit friends in Boston and see Maus while in New York before landing in Miami (where I can potentially go visit yet another friend…)  Obviously, I have no interest in flying on the 23rd. 24th? Now I can get into that (hotel + air on 24th < flying on 23rd…)

 

Quiet

Its quiet. The Brits around me are stunned. These are well educated people who are concerned about their future. They are not those who voted for Brexit. They are also quite aware of the fear and anger in the Caucasian  population that see itself becoming increasingly irrelevant as demographics change. They are comfortable ignoring the Irish and Scotts here and would rather not have to deal with the waves of immigration that have arrived from the Commonwealth over the last 30 years. Going back to the 60s is a dream that has long passed.

In the US, segments of our population are perfectly capable of telling themselves stories that don’t include the Spanish settling what is now the US West Coast long before the ancestors of most Western Europeans arrived; They can complete ignore the native populations who “weren’t using the land” as having both been there first and having any rights.

The next four years are going to be interesting. As much as the 60s in some people’s eyes were better than today – we can’t go back. We are in a world economy. What we do affects not just our country but the rest of the world.

America has always been great – we just don’t agree what great means. For me it means education and the ability to better one’s self. To walk in the evening unsafe and unimpeded. To keep politics out of medical procedures and to – as MG Lewis, the CG of 1AR when I was downrange with them in Bosnia, put it –

Dignity and Respect

Ibis Budget

There are those who need fancy hotels. I am not one of them. Now, I won’t deny that staying at a high end hotel or upper end medium like the Hiltons isn’t nice. But rather that I am fine at Budget Ibis, La Quinta and others of that ilk.

All I really require is a clean bed, a secure door and facilities inside the room. The fact that I have wifi with no seeming limit on the number of devices is just icing on the cake. I donl’t have anything on the agenda today. Other than get organized (switch things in the suitcase around) and read.

I would consider a nice long walk if the weather wasn’t so freaking cold.

Mind you – it is not Minnesota cold or winter cold, but I have been cruising along in temperatures a significant bit above these and don’t particularly enjoy the wind blowing….

Leaving Vienna

My meeting let out shortly before 1200. Since my flight wasn’t till 1800, it isn’t like I had to really hurry to the airport.

After retrieving my luggage from the Bell Captain I wandered across the street and took the CAT back to the airport. This time I was flying British Airways.  Guess what? They are extremely nice and had no problems getting me a hard copy of my boarding card. However, they aren’t open till 2 1/2 hours before the flight for luggage.

That’s right. Even though it is an international flight outside of the Schengen area, they don’t do the four hours.

After a bit of wander, I found a vacant seat and read till 1530 when I easily dropped off my luggage and went through passport control. From there it was just finding a place in the terminal where I could plug in electronics.

True to form, security was immediately before entering the gate area. The flight was fine and we actually arrived at Gatwick 15 minutes early which gave me even more time before my National Express Bus left. That ride was smooth and I made the Ibis just before midnight.

Green Ducky

meet my new friend

meet my new friend

Returning after the morning sessions, I spied this young friend sitting on my bathroom counter. I will take him home to join the one I received two years ago.  The front desk has other small characters for sale as part of their charity money raising. I have purchased several of the packs before, but unfortunately these duckies are not proportioned correctly to float. I also, frankly don’t need a lot more toys in the hot tub.

I attended sessions today geared toward refugees, emerging anti-microbial resistance, diseases across species boundaries and managing the next outbreak. Interspersed were conversations, coffee breaks and observations of people around me. It is one of those rare opportunities to chat with those from multiple professional backgrounds engaged in everything from practice to research and NGOs to a few journalists and government types lurking in the background.

By 1800 I was tired. Heavy duty lectures and schooling are for the young. I’m finding as I age that being in large crowds can be wearing.  Having been there the last two times I attending this meeting – I skipped the Mayor’s reception in favor of a quiet evening with reading and knitting.

 

IMED2016

IMED started a number of years ago as an International Conference on Emerging Infectious Disease sponsored primarily by PROMED-Mail. I won’t give you the extensive history and background but just leave it at – from its roots in 1995 with a simple ASCII based distribution list to a world wide network of over 65,000 individuals. The purpose is simple: report on new, unusual or important outbreaks as they first appear. There are only a few paid staff, the vast majority of participants watch, observe and submit as part of their commitment to improving response to new and emerging diseases. This is not just “Human Health” as most MD/ODs think about it but encompasses marine, wildlife, agriculture, livestock as well.

Think about it – humans in most locations are at the top of the food chain. But there is a food chain. When it is compromised, then no one does well. Oh, and environment. We all attempt to live somewhere.

There are about 800 attendees from over 100 countries. I am one of the few who is free from presenting a poster and can circulate and talk with others during the morning and afternoon session. I’ve met incredibly interesting people from Australia, Europe, Asia, South America and Africa who are involved in different aspects of the whole picture. Me? I have decided to be completely comfortable with my role as learner and observer. I’m not going to spot the next epidemic, I’m not going to find a drug that saves animals/people from the next dread disease. But what I can do, and am fairly good at, is asking questions about the “holes” or the missing information that sometimes doesn’t get identified by those too close to the problem. I can enjoy the poster sessions and ask interested and intelligent questions of the young people. Those who are starting to make a difference now and will carry their efforts forth to the next generation. I can talk people at the coffee breaks, I can relax.

What I am not doing is spending time traveling around Vienna, shopping or seeing the sites. I have been here many times before. Frankly the food offered at the breaks is more than enough to feed me extra meals. I’m also not knitting in even the large sessions since cultural morays very so much. Instead, like everyone else, if I get distracted I can always check my email…..

VIE

Did I mention that one of my least favorite things in the world is arriving in a foreign (to me) city after dark? But then, I could have chosen to pay about 3x as much and flown Austrian Air to avoid that kind of hassle. Instead, I had booked on Brussels Air knowing that I was going to have a plane change in Brussels. That change had almost an hour allotted. We arrived at A76 and all I had to do was wander partway down the concourse to A64. Not difficult at all.

Now just imagine. It is now after 2030. I have landed safely and head to baggage claim. The crowd is small. After about 15 minutes, everyone but me has their luggage. Ok, schlepp to the Lufthansa&friends counter to fill out paperwork. I identify my luggage. HINT: If you have a smart phone, take a picture of your luggage. It makes it oh so simple to show them what it looks like and let the nice service person pick off the list which they think it is. He tells me not to worry, there are several more flights tonight and it should come. They will have it delivered to the hotel.

Go to CAT. Having just done the above, I just missed the train for city center and have to wait for the next one. Glad it is so easy to take the non-stop direct train and then walk across the street to the hotel.

It is now 2200 and I am wiped. Chocolate is more than enough for dinner. Guest services call at 2330. My luggage has arrived and it is on the way up with staff.

Take a breath. I have now made it to the 4th. Since I am at the hotel, it is easy to go downstair and pick up my registration materials for IMED2016 before attending this morning’s EpiCore workshop. There is coffee along with pastries and croissants. I now have breakfast and lunch on hand.

The meeting is being held by PROMED and other professional organizations under the One Health umbrella. I have a chance to hear about the planned changes, increased disease identification planned as well as chat with participants from across the spectrum (environmental, scientists, medical, veterinary).  The evening reception is classic for it’s kind: wine, beer, juice. Trays of tiny and extremely fancy bites of things which the staff explains. 450+ people crammed into an open upstairs lobby. I never figured out the entry point for the food. Others obviously did for with rare exception the trays were empty when they reached me (and no, while onion chutney sounds wonderful, I certainly didn’t need the thinly sliced ham…..)

Looking at the attendee’s list, I should both enjoy the meeting as well as reconnecting with colleagues.

And chocolate. Since I am stopping in NYC on the way home, I think Maus might just be expecting chocolate….

BCN

Barcelona, as you may remember is the largest city in Catalonia, which at current time is still part of Spain. It was disembarkation day for everyone. Not a few passengers became disgruntled when they finally realized that they weren’t going to get late check out. No one was getting late check out. Everyone was going to be off the ship by 0900. No exceptions. In fact, all signing off ship’s crew were under the same constraint.

The ship sails for dry dock at 1100 which is being performed in the shipyards near Cadiz. Since this is on the other side of Straights of Gibraltar, you can understand why the Captain is anxious to get under way.

Meanwhile, yours truly joined a couple of other passengers who had a really late flight and shared a cab to their hotel. While they went in for their day check, I caught the hotel’s free shuttle to the Airport. BTW, Barcelona Airport Hotel has great rates (much lower than the city) which can include breakfast and transfer to the cruise terminals….

Any who, BCN is definitely not like Rome. Yes, I was really early, but Brussels Airline let me check in anyway. The flight leaving in 40 minutes was full or they would have put me on it. Security let me through. The WiFi in the lounge is reaaallllly slow, but it works.

Plane change in Brussels, then on to Vienna. Where, after taking the tram to the city I will be all set for my meeting which starts in the morning.

Halloween Entertainment

Starting mid-day, chains of balloons started appearing around the ship. Today is the only sea day on the cruise. That means that all of the requisite standard scheduled events must happen today on top of the fun of halloween.

I showed you some of the decorations already. The balloons added actually a more festive appearance –

 

and then there was the Mystery Theater that was added to the mix. Starting with the first day of the cruise there were “clues” printed every day in the compass.

 

Today they put up sign boards, just in case anyone missed the fact that they were running a Mystery Theater (and 2200 says it isn’t for kids).

 

So anyway, I am off to get costumed, find dinner and, if I am still awake – go and see who killed whom….

 

(photos to follow when they actually agree to be uploaded…

La Seyne sur Mer

We docked for Toulon. Instead of being at the city dock, it was across the bay in Seyne sur Mer (note, Wiki has little to no history or current information on the town. Especially lacking is what happened to the town during WWII) where there is a commercial port not far from Fort Balaguier. There is extensive anchorage as well as pier in Toulon. At the Naval Base which is the largest in France. One might surmise that interests, weather, and lack of Brits as well as economics might have something to do with the placement of this important Naval Station. The Naval school is located here as well. The last time I was here we docked in Toulon and I spent extensive time in the Maritime Museum. If I had wanted to go across the bay it would have been a local water transfer. It seems that a French Ferry and another cruise ship (HAL?) had the only docking berths for the day.

docked in Toulon

docked in Toulon

Not being one to spend 18€ when I can walk for free, I first headed to Fort Balaguier only to find that, this not being Wed or Thurs afternoon, it was not open for visitors. There were workers inside, but my French is atrocious at best so I didn’t bother to call out.

Front there I wandered through an building that had obviously seen better days.

Back past

an old house

an old house

the more modern military fort

the more modern military fort

 the port to the town itself where I had just missed both the flea market and the produce market.

So I wandered around enjoying myself taking pictures of buildings, streets and alleys.

a couple of pictures for Cheré

and one for Pat, Linda and any other librarian reading this

019a2869

the ships in the harbors (Naval Yards, Toulon, local) of all manner

and the monument to the French Resistance including those lost in the Shoah

019a2877

Napoleon?

This was as close as I came to seeing the in/famous French General. He stands facing out from the Beaux Arts Museum, still on guard after all these centuries.

019a2813

Otherwise, it is fairly easy to distinguish locals from ship’s passengers from French tourists. One group is casually but fashionably dressed. Sunglasses are mandatory often to the accompaniment of smallish sized dog on a leash. Doggie stations are not in evidence. Passengers? It isn’t just the sea pass cards hanging from a lanyard around the neck. It is also the baggy shorts, running shoes, flip-flops (thongs for you Aussies) and t-shirts with slogans.

arbors, plazas

arbors, plazas

and the ever present cruise ship tourists

and the ever present cruise ship tourists

There seem to be hundreds of cars competing for a couple dozen parking slots;

don't suppose he could put down the phone for even a minute to help his wife?

don’t suppose he could put down the phone for even a minute to help his wife?

all of the shiny new model expensive variety so that shopping could be done at the fresh produce market

olives, and cheese and ...

olives, and cheese and …

Sidewalk cafes were not just on the main streets but tucked into alleys, cross street and corners

 

While various bits of architecture and buildings caught my eye.

 

including the Public Health Headquarters-

where maternal/child, vaccination, hepatitis & HIV treatment, and TB control programs are located

where maternal/child, vaccination, hepatitis & HIV treatment, and TB control programs are located

I’m also including the photo of one shop I know would appeal to Daughter #2
019a2814

which I spotted before returning to my ship, logging in a reasonable 16k steps for the day

the Rhapsody

the Rhapsody

Livorno from the ship

I’ve been here before; back in my 10th MEDLAB days it was to inspect the occupational health program. I managed a trip back when Daughter #2 was just about a year old. Something about an interesting drive to first Vicenza and then on to Livorno as part of our radiation health protection course. The next time was around 2009 (which is along time after early 1990) when the NCL ship I was on stopped here. Maus and her roommate were my company since it was their fall half-term break. The girls and I walked to the train and, on a family ticket, went to Pisa. Up the tower, around town and then back to the ship (no Maus did not climb up the Leaning Tower).

This time I had every intention of getting off until I learned that we would be a fair distance from the terminal with no walking allowed. Of course, I could have easily afforded the 5€ for the shuttle, but I was irritated. Paying to be transferred to town I can understand. But ship to terminal? Of course, that shuttle bus also went into town.

Instead I prowled the ship. Apparently a demented demon struck the public areas sometime between 2300 and 0530 and vomited cobwebs everywhere. To add to the insanity, there are inflatable pumpkins, glow in the dark skeletons, spiders, witches’ hats, and dungeon signs. It is so tacky it is wonderful. Apparently this ship is going to take Halloween seriously. Since the holiday falls on our only sea day, I think it is going to be interesting.

Without further ado – the gallery….

and I have made progress on the scarf – finally

more than 1/2 way

more than 1/2 way

Rhapsody of the Seas 4/4

By 1000 the ship was empty of all passengers except for those of us remaining for the next cruise and the staff. And coffee – the machine in the Diamond Lounge is scheduled to be operational in just a few minutes. I am waiting with computer plugged in and personal mug in hand.

This is my last cruise of those on the Rhapsody this fall. Yes, believe it or not, I will be actually getting off in Barcelona after “only” four cruises. Why? Well, I mentioned that meeting in Vienna didn’t I? This will be the third time that I have been able to attend. Related to emerging infectious diseases, the conference is held on even years. Promed is one of the major sponsors.  Any way, there are no ports new to me on this trip and I am going to be extremely well behaved. Museums are in my plan and not yarn shops at all since I already have several life times worth of fiber on hand..

Rome to Barcelona

Rome to Barcelona

ITINERARY
DAY DATE PORT ARRIVE   DEPART
Thu Oct 27 Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy 5:00pm
Fri Oct 28 Florence / Pisa (Livorno), Italy 7:00am 7:00pm
Sat Oct 29 Ajaccio, Corsica, France 8:00am 5:00pm
Sun Oct 30 Toulon, France 8:00am 5:00pm
Mon Oct 31 At Sea
Tue Nov 1 Valencia, Spain 7:00am 9:00pm
Wed Nov 2 Palma de Mallorca, Spain 8:00am 6:00pm
Thu Nov 3 Barcelona, Spain 6:00am

There isn’t a lot of down time on this cruise with the only sea day being Halloween. [did I bring a costume…..]

Procrastinating on a sea day

It is the last day of this cruise and I am very busy not accomplishing much of anything. I can’t pack early because my laundry isn’t back yet. Even if it was, it is doubtful that I would be packing before tomorrow morning, but that isn’t want we are discussing. What is on the table is my lack of getting anything useful done in the last couple of days – or today at least.

It doesn’t mean that I am still lounging around in pj’s at 1600 in the afternoon. It is more that I have been falling asleep while reading, while listening to an audiobook and knitting. So I must be either bored or tired. It also could be due to a caffeine deficit.

In any case, nothing much happened today – other than making a small bit of progress on my knitting.

 

Barcelona, in the rain

We docked @ A Terminal in Barcelona in line behind Celebritie’s Equinox and Reflection;

Three in a row

Three in a row

the pair looking like two identical peas balanced next to the pier on keels complete with a rear fan reminiscent of a duck. Never mind. The build of Celebrities “S” Class ship just looks weird to my eyes.

Aft Ship

Aft Ship

Where was I? Oh, yes rain. Which was why I had my rain jacket but left the umbrella on ship. I believed the lies about the weather clearing up.

It didn’t.

I wandered around, took a few photos and otherwise just looked around. Walked streets and alleys of the old city. Even visited “All You Knit is Love” and didn’t buy anything. Can’t quite say the same about my stop through Desigual.

18k steps and I headed back to the ship more than a little bit wet..