Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What's Black and Yellow and Red all over?

Answer: The German Flag!! We're in Germany!

Good morning GERMANY! Today started off with a stroll through the quaint little town of Kiel. This is where we came into port and the city is a fairly “new” city because a lot of the historical buildings and landmarks were destroyed during World War II. The city center is very has lots of character. We window-shopped and went into some churches, which ironically, a lot of the churches in Germany are not functioning churches anymore; one we went into is an art gallery.

After our lovely stroll through the park and lakes of the city, we really wanted to taste some of the traditional German food.
While we were walking around the lake Keelyn recounted this marvelous scene in a movie where a grandma gets her legs burnt off in a lake of sulfuric acid ... the mental picture of a grandma with her legs corroded-off is all I can see when I see this picture now. :)
We walked and we walked and we walked. We couldn’t find anywhere! How hard can it be to find German food in Germany?! Finally, as we were returning defeated to the ship, we found a lovely café right by the water we had a beautiful view of the harbor and our ship. For lunch we had Snitzel and Currywurst. They were both delicious and the best part was getting to sit in a private covered bench… where I got to take a nap in the sun as Kaitlin people watched. Then we walked down the harbor and saw the seals that live down there--  they were cute little buggers.

We sat in one of those cute things and had lunch!

See our boat?!
Cute little seal buggers.
After that, we returned to our ship and went up to the Lido deck for the coronation party. Coming from Holland, and Holland America being a company with strong Dutch ties, this was a big deal. Many passengers were decked out in the color Orange as the Prince of Orange became king! Normally, that day would have been celebrated anyway as it would have been Queen’s Day, but because she abdicated her throne and her son had his coronation the same day, it will now be King’s Day!

 As we perused the deck, two women about our age who work for Holland America called us over. We soon found out that they were “youth coordinators” and they asked us if they got a group of “kids” together if we wanted to come to the event – us being the kids they were trying to wrangle into a group. The funny thing is that the age range would be from 15 to us, the oldest, at 23. We had to laugh. They told us that the usual age rang they work with are 3 to 17 year olds. So we said we would try anything once and that if they planned something we would come. So we will give you an update on that. It will probably be us and a bunch of 15 year olds but we will see. We keep being told that we look much younger than we are and maybe that will get us an “in” with the high schoolers. I hope they like us.

Than after that we went to Pub Trivia, where a very nice woman asked us to be on her team. So it was Kaitlin and I and two couples playing some good old pub trivia. Questions were asked, answers given. My favorite question: What was a 2 suit made for? Any thoughts? Well, I found out that it was actually a space suite invented to have sex in space so that when we moved to the moon we would be able to repopulate. Another question: What happens to Killer whales in captivity? We knew this one because we had just watched Free Willie! The whale swims around in a small circular pattern so its dorsal fin curves over. In the end our team won the game for the most points and we got a pin!!! Jealous, I know.

Then it was off to dinner because we were on a very tight schedule, we didn’t want to miss the movie, Quartet, which was playing in the theater at nine. It is about a retirement home for musicians. This is appropriate because Kaitlin and I feel like we have been living in a retirement home!

At dinner we were placed at a table with three other couples and they were from Holland but lived in Canada and Australia. One of the couples was a husband and wife who ran a sheep farmer. So we had lots to talk about. The other couple was retired and just played golf about four times a week and traveled a lot. They were very interesting people and we had some wonderful conversations about Holland and traveling as well as working on farms. It was great fun. We are actually going on the same tour tomorrow with one of the couples so that will be fun to see them.

We saw the movie after dinner, Quartet. Highly recommend it! Finally we went back to our room where we were greeted by our nightly art pieces made by our steward our out of towels! We’ve had a bat, a dinosaur, a crown and are looking forward to the next creation!

Our dinosaur towel animal.

Keelyn thinks they're adorable!

Kaitlin thinks they're .... well, not adorable.

Copenhagen! The land of hot people and MAGGIE!

Let me just say that today was one of the BEST days that I have had this whole trip. First of all, Copenhagen has become the temporary home of one of my bestest friends Maggie Magner. Originally, when I found out that she was going to be there while we were in Europe, Keelyn and I tried to figure out a way to get there. However, Copenhagen is a ridiculously expensive city, so we couldn’t find the means to get there. That all changed when the cruise entered our life like the giant fairy godmother it is! Our wonderful ship dropped us right off into the city and into the arms of my loved one!!! We were so excited to spend the day with Maggie and see the sights.

Another reason why we were excited for Copenhagen was its reputation for ridiculously good looking people. I don’t think we’ve mentioned it here, but Keelyn and I have been keeping an ongoing score of which cities we visit have the best looking men. After yesterday, Copenhagen is number one. The myths are fact. And, did you know that Copenhagen has repeatedly been found to have the highest ratings of life-satisfaction among its inhabitants? Copenhagen: Full of happy, black-clad gods and goddesses.
So, we hopped off the boat and walked the 700 feet to the Mermaid Statue. It’s super cute y’all if you enjoy tourists posing with a lump of molded metal. No, I am not that cynical about it, but when we first got there, there were three tour buses and a bunch of individuals just swarmed around it. So we decided to leave and come back later when we returned to the ship.

We went off for our next goal: Internet. While Holland America has been great, they charge 50 dollars for 1 hour of internet. Too spendy for us. So, we went and got coffees in a café and told Maggie that we were indeed going to meet her at the spot she designated. However, our lovely Mags misspelled the name of the place where we were to meet, so it took us a good 45 minutes and the help of the ridiculously good looking barista to figure out where we were to go. Once we thought we might have an idea where to go, we continued our journey down the street where we bumped into the Marble Church, which, like the city’s inhabitants is ridiculously good looking. It’s really pretty and has the 4th largest dome in Europe. Just a little factoid for you.

The Marble Church

The next thing we explored on our way to meet Maggie was the botanical gardens, which we literally stumbled into. Keelyn and I seem to have a penchant for exploring botanical gardens and thoroughly enjoyed meandering through this one as well.

Then, we went to our destination: The glass houses. And, if you can believe it, we actually made it to the right place! They are these markets that are covered by glass houses which hold stands from local restaurants and vendors. There was everything from spices to chocolate to fish cakes. But, it was all sooo cool. Too cool for weirdos like myself. It was so bitchin’. Basically, as I was wandering through the vendors, it made me wonder why every hipster in the world isn’t actively trying to get to Copenhagen, back to the Motherland. The cool just oozed all over the place. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

And in the midst of the cool, arrived the awesome – Maggie Magner! She came peddling up on her bike, looking like a piece of sunshine in the midst of the darkly dressed Danes. What a welcome sight she was! After hugging her for a good 5 minutes, all I could find myself wanting to do was stare at her! A. She is beautiful. B. She is amazing. C. She is a piece of everything I miss about home! She, Keelyn and I walked and got some yummy food and talked and talked and talked. The conversation was soooooo GOOD. Honest, real, and fun, in such a short amount of time!


After soaking up all the goodness to maximum capacity, we all decided to meet at Nyhavn in an hour while we sight-saw and she went to office hours for a professor. So, Keelyn and I headed off to the cute little street with its brightly painted  buildings and nautical flare. We did get lost. Quite a bit. But we made it and enjoyed looking at its offerings. In the pictures, if you see Keelyn holding my purse, that’s just a sign of what an amazing friend she is! I have injured my shoulder and she graciously has been looking out for me. If only everyone could have a Keke in their life!

Then, Maggie met us, we took some pictures then walked in the rain back to our ship. The rain was fitting as none of us wanted to say goodbye. We made a pit stop at the mermaid statue and then sat with Maggie and talked. 

Truly, for me, it was so refreshing to see her (Maggie, not the mermaid) and to just get to have a taste of home all the way in Denmark.

Sadly, the time came to say goodbye. We hugged, said our farewells, and then I cast myself against the rocks in my despair – that’s definitely not true, but it was good for dramatic effect, I thought. J
We got back on the boat, went to our room, got a snack … got another snack and then prepared to go to the ships’s seminar entitled, “Modern Art for Dummies.” The seminar was dandy. Again we were the youngest in the room by a good 40 years. We did get free prints of a painting, though! We then went outside on the deck and let the wind whip our hair all over our faces as we looked put on the great blue mass we call the ocean.

Our seminar with our 70 year old friends

The Ocean
We weren’t in the mood for a long dinner, so we decided to go to the “casual dining” option, where we learned you can get the exact same thing as the dining room in a more informal setting. Only one downside: You feel like you are eating in a retirement home.

We closed our night with our ritual of milk, cookies, and a movie – all delivered to our room. We realized at the end of the night that we had food delivered to our room three times: breakfast, onion soup snack, and dessert. We finished by watching the Matrix Reloaded and are now very confused by the whole Matrix thing, so if anyone can explain it, please make a comment! We will be watching the last one in the coming days after we can look up in Wikipedia what it all means.

We’re headed for Kiel, Germany tomorrow and will share with you what it held for us once we’ve experienced it! Goodnight!

All Aboard for the MS ROTTERDAM

We hopped out of the cab at the Rotterdam port with a dream and our luggage. We don’t know how we got it all there, we were over by 4 kilograms and our carry-on luggage was as heavy as can be, but somehow we got to check that for free. It was a miracle we didn’t have to pay any fees. Literally.

We started the check-in process and knew right away that this trip was going to be like none other. There we were, the youngest in a room of a couple hundred individuals who all seemed to have shades of gray, white, or blue hair. After check-in, we entered the ship and saw golden staircases and perfectly decorated walls. We walked down to our room so see a quaint room that is just the right size for the both of us – With TWO portholes!

Our Room!
 A little while later the captain came over the loud speaker throughout the ship to tell us that we all had to report to our life boat assignment for a safety drill. It was quite disorganized as people in our group didn’t get there on time and we were one of the last groups to finish. So I hope we don’t crash or we might not make it off the boat. 

If we go down these are the people that we will go with.
For the older generation, they didn't follow directions very well!
Now to discuss our fellow travelers, they are anywhere from 50 to 80 years old and we are definitely the youngest people on the ship besides the young kids that are with their parents. So needless to say we stand out.  After our safety demonstration we went down to our room to unpack and get all settled in to our new home for the next two weeks. After that we got changed and went to dinner in the dining room. We have open seating so that we can eat at any time we would like. Well, quite a few other people had the same idea, so we had to wait for a little bit until we got seated. We said that we would sit wherever and wouldn’t mind sharing a table with some other couples on the ship. We were seated and just a few minutes later a lovely couple Jane and Larry, who are from Arkansas, came to sit with us. They are in their 60’s and retired. Larry was in the National Guard and Jane worked in the registrar’s office at the local secondary school. They were the sweetest couple and we had the loveliest meal. Our evening came to an end and we were so tired that we decided to order a movie and some dessert to our room! All for free, might I add. So we watched The Matrix and had warm cookies and milk sent to our room. When the gentleman arrived with our cookies and milk he laughed at us … I think he was expecting some little kids, but no, it was two grown ladies acting like old grandmas.

We are out on the open sea and we can definitely feel the swaying of the boat, it is kind of fun walking around and seeing everyone sway with the boat. It was like we were being rocked to sleep. Or that we’re all drunk.

The next day was our first full day at sea. The funny thing was that our clocks got all messed up so when the Captain came on to wake us up in the morning we were so surprised because it was only 7 in the morning. But by the time we got up and were out the door for breakfast at 9:30, we checked a clock on the wall and it was 1130--we had slept through breakfast. So we went straight to lunch. We had also sadly missed the singles and solo traveler’s mixer which we were so looking forward to! We had wanted to find us some sugar daddies for the trip, but our plans were ruined. While we were eating lunch we saw Larry and Jane walk by. Then we decided to walk around the ship a bit. There are nine floors of nonstop fun so we wanted to check out some of the happenings on the ship. We decided to go play some bingo which, by the way, is high stakes as there were some tough grandmas in there. Both Kaitlin and I got one away from winning … but unfortunately didn’t win the jackpot. 

 Our "Winning" Faces

Then it was time to get ready for dinner and it was a formal night! Do you know what this means?! We get to put on our 80’s vintage thrift store dresses!!!!!! We chose our coordinated dresses, which match with our green chiffon. 

80's babies in 80's fashion!

We knew we would “wow” the other guests with our secret finds. As we were waiting in line to be seated Larry and Jane walked up and Larry asked if we wanted to sit with them again. We were very flattered and said yes. We were seated at a table with an Australian couple and two French cousins. They were the sweetest ladies and only one of them could speak English but the other woman was very cute trying to talk to us. After dinner we hurried over to the show room to see the ventriloquist act. It was kind of funny but not one of our favorites. Then it was time for our milk and cookies and a movie. We decided upon Moonstruck for our movie of choice and then it was off to bed for a big day on the town in Copenhagen, Denmark.

We have realized something important: Life on a cruise ship is hard work!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Highlands

Today was a day that we had been looking forward to for some time! The Highlands! The beautiful, romanticized highlands. The mysterious and dramatic highlands! THE HIGHLANDS! Kaitlin, at one point, almost asked, sincerely, why the highlands are called the highlands .... well, it's because they are literally the high lands of Scotland.

When choosing where we were to go, we decided to skip out on Loch Ness and the potential of finding Nessie and go for the largest loch in the UK, Loch Lomond. We would start there on our tour, made a detour into Galway, see the highlands, make a stop at a castle, and end up back in Edinburgh!

At the start of the blog, we would like to share with you a song that will give you a wonderful feeling of what our anticipation for our tour was like. We visited the shores of Loch Lomond and heard our ancestors singing this song to our hearts. Needless to say, we were excited!

Look deep into this man's eyes. He won't look away.

Okay, first stop Galway. It was only a little bit of time, but enough time to snap some pictures with these Las Vegas style lions.

Then we went to Loch Lomond! And boy, was it gorgeous! We took a little boat tour around the loch and felt our hair being swept back by the wind and the spring showers. 

Than we learned about one of Scotland’s great warriors William Wallace and how he fought for the FREEDOM of his country. And how the movie is just really inaccurate. But hey, it's a great movie!

 He inspired a people to stand up for their families and loved ones. He greatly shaped the future of Scotland and fought for what he believed in.

Then we went to Stirling castle, but didn't take the tour. We're kind of over castles. The day has come. So, we decided to just stroll around the town and the local cemetery. The cemetery was a definite highlight.

We also met honey, and her family of Highland Cows. They are the cutest cows I have ever seen.

And the best part of the day was at the end of the tour, I found out I became an Aunt for the second time! My sister had a beautiful baby girl and I am so proud of her and can't wait to meet my little niece. Here she is with her other Auntie.