Sorry folks, no post today...WiFi signal is too weak to load photos...

We have so much to share but unfortunately, the ship's WiFi signal isn't strong enough today to upload it.  We'll try again tomorrow with our fantastic photos of St. Petersburg.

Happy day!

Back to posting one day earlier than expected...Why?...Tallinn, Estonia...


View over Tallinn, Estonia from a scenic overlook.
Yesterday was a day we'll always remember, not only for the exquisite sites we visited in St. Petersburg, Russia but for the challenging experience of my attempt to navigate over 12,000 steps in one day with my lingering painful legs situation.
The town well.
No doubt, a month ago, I couldn't have conceived I'd make it through such a day as this but somehow with Tom's unrelenting help and emotional support, overall we'd stayed up with the group of 15 passengers in our group, only avoiding a few less important additional walking sidelines during the full day, beginning at 8:30 am and ending at 6:00 pm.

It was difficult.  It was painful.  But I knew I wasn't hurting anything by forging ahead.  Ultimately, maybe my legs would become stronger after this cruise with all it's walking while attempting to recover after over six months of pure hell.
The remains of a historic castle tower.
I've "sugar-coated" it long enough to be tough, resilient and strong.  Yes, attitude is a big part of recovery and I do credit myself for remaining upbeat and hopeful.  But, at times, I have felt hopeless and fearful that I'd never recover.
There is stunning artwork on the many churches within Old Town.
In the next several days, we'll be posting, time allowing, the amazing photos we were able to take while on yesterday's St. Petersburg tour.  However, last night we decided we would not be going on Day 2 of the prepaid tour since I knew I wouldn't be able to spend another day like yesterday.

We are disappointed to lose the non-refundable fees we paid for Day 2 but this decision had to be made.  And now, as we sit comfortably in the Park Cafe on deck 5, we've totally at peace with our decision.  
We didn't enter the churches due to many steps and long queues.
Yes, today we'll miss a few choice locations popular with tourists to the magnificent city but yesterday provided us with considerable information regarding St. Petersburg rich history and culture.
The winding streets of the walled city of Tallinn, Estonia.
To follow a sequential course for our posts as ports of call as they occurred, today we're sharing photos of Tallinn, Estonia which we visited two days ago.  We hadn't booked a tour for this city and decided to "wing it."

Instead, we were planning to use the shuttle bus to get us into town, and from there, we'd figure out how we'd get around, fearful that being on foot may be too much for me when the bigger tour lay ahead the following day in St. Petersburg.
Here we are in the motorized bike.
No more than a few seconds after we exited the shuttle bus we were approached by a clean-cut looking young man in his 20's who had a motorized bicycle with a cart attached, perfect for the two of us.  

It was pricey for one hour at Euro 153, US $170 which we'd already negotiated down from Euro 189, US $210 but after about 70 minutes we couldn't have been more thrilled after seeing most of the highlights of Old Town.
Historic churches and buildings lined the streets.
About Tallinn, Estonia from this site:"Tallinn (/ˈtɑːlɪn, ˈtælɪn/; Estonian: [ˈtɑlʲˑinˑ]; names in other languages) is the capital, primate and the most populous city of Estonia. Located in the northern part of the country, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea, it has a population of 434,562. Administratively a part of Harju maakond (county), Tallinn is a major financial, industrial, cultural, educational and research center of Estonia. Tallinn is located 80 kilometers (50 mi) south of Helsinki, Finland, 320 kilometers (200 mi) west of Saint Petersburg, Russia, and 380 kilometers (240 mi) east of Stockholm, Sweden. It has close historical ties with these three cities. From the 13th century until the first half of the 20th century Tallinn was known in most of the world by its historical German name Reval."
Many churches with architecturally interesting steeple filled the rooftops.
The cobblestone and brick roads were bumpy but didn't cause a problem for either of us.  And this young man knew his way around quickly maneuvering between crowds and other vehicles to take advantage of every moment.

When our bike tour ended, he dropped us back at the shuttle bus and minutes later the bus arrived at the pier as we tackled the long back to the ship with a smile on our faces for a day well spent.
We crossed a red-painted wooden bridge.
As for the remainder of the cruise, we continue to meet more and more passengers with great stories to tell. At night, we tend to stay out late enjoying the music and entertainment in a variety of venues throughout the ship.  It's been such fun to be out and about after all this time.

Tomorrow, we have another port of call and hope to post when we return later in the day.

Thanks to all of our readers who continue to "look for us" online and send endless good wishes and encouragement.  We so appreciate each and every one of you!
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Photo from one year ago today, August 17, 2018:
While back in Zambia for another "visa run"Tom was busy reading the extensive menu at Café Zambezi trying to decide what to order.  It was nice to be back.  For more details, please click here.

Sorry folks, no post today and tomorrow...

We are touring St. Petersburg from 8 m am until 6 pm today and tomorrow.  Absolutely stunning.
Thanks for your patience.  We will be back on Saturday with new breathtaking photos.

Today is Day 5 of our Baltic cruise...Few more Copenhagen photos...Today, we'll tour Tallinn, Estonia...


"The Gefion Fountain is a large fountain on the harbor front in Copenhagen, Denmark. It features a large-scale group of animal figures being driven by the Norse goddess Gefjon. It is located in Nordre Toldbod area next to Kastellet and immediately south of Langelinie."
The WiFi signal is so poor it takes three times longer to prepare a post and try to upload photos.  We're doing the best we can in the time we've allotted to present our daily activities.
Typical residential building in Copenhagen.
I must admit I am not as diligent as usual when there's such a flurry of activity around us with many distractions.  No sooner I get started and other passengers join us at our little corner near electrical outlets in the Park Café.  To avoid being rude, I close my laptop to participate in the lively chatter.

We're having an exceptionally good time, better than I'd expected when I felt so awful only a few weeks ago.  I never imagined I'd be able to be up and about from early morning, often up until midnight, without a daytime nap or rest.
The uncomplicated style of buildings in Copenhagen seemed to be universal.
Yesterday was more fun than I can describe.  At breakfast in the main dining room by 8:00 am, we met more new people as the conversation flowed at our table for 10.

For midday on a Wednesday, there were few crowds.
By 10:30 am, we headed to this same spot at the coffee shop while I enthusiastically worked on the post hoping to upload a decent story with photos of Copenhagen taken during the rainy four-hour bus ride. 

I hadn't quite finished having yet to caption the photos and move them into their appropriate spots in the post, but we dropped off the equipment back at the cabin to make the 1:00 pm movie in the intimate theatre, the Cinema.  "Aquaman" was the movie of the day.
Bicycle parking lots are everywhere.
Tom, not necessarily a fan of fantasy-type movies stayed awake during the entire movie while I sat on the edge of my seat in the sheer wonder of watching such a good movie.  I loved every moment!  Tom surprised me and also enjoyed it but not as much as me.  (We're out of touch with movies made in the US after so long away).
With energy conservation the order of the day, there were minimal vehicles on the road.
After the movie ended at 3:10, we headed back to the cabin where I finished the post and the photo captions.  We showered and dressed to be ready for "happy hour(s)" in the Diamond Club lounge on the 13th floor.  It starts at 5:00 pm and ends at 8:30 pm.

The long happy hour period requires me to drink my two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon very slowly, trying to save a little in the second glass to take to the dining room to savor during dinner. 
An ice cream shop.
Tom, when he saw how little was left in my glass, he ordered me a third glass of wine but concerned about over-doing it, I never drank it.  In the dining room with sat with a delightful couple, Fred and Larry from the US and once again, the conversation was fantastic.  We plan to meet up with them in Phoenix for dinner when we're staying in Apache Junction in January.
Statues are commonly seen in Copenhagen.
It always amazes us how easy it is to make friends on cruises.  There is no environment we've ever experienced where it was so easy.  We all have a commonality of a love of travel and that's always an easy place to start the conversation.  We seldom encounter passengers who aren't enjoying themselves.

After dinner, we began looking for seats overlooking the Centrum area, one level below from which we could watch the upcoming "disco" music and 70s show.  We lucked out and found two comfy chairs directly at the railing where we stayed watching a memorable heart-pounding show.
Taking photos through the rain-covered windows was challenging.
The dance floor was packed with enthusiastic passenger's dancing the night away.  Some time ago, we would have been included in that excited flurry of arms and legs flailing to the music.  Instead, we watched with equal enthusiasm.  Maybe someday I'll be able to dance with Tom but time will tell.

The stage presented a variety of staff dancers who "worked" the crowd into a frenzy.  After about an hour, a show started we'd seen on many cruises; the songs from the Village People, In The Navy and of course, Y-M-C-A. 
A gilded spire atop the train station.
The crew was wearing similar costumes to the Village People, and the place rocked beyond belief.  The energy was truly electric, not only enjoying the familiar songs but also remembering our youth when those were first introduced.  We had such fun as we danced in our chairs, grateful and happy to be together sharing yet another special day and evening.
A fountain near the canal.
Finally, by 12:30 am we dozed off with smiles on our faces over a day well-spent.  Today, we're off on a shuttle bus soon to head to Tallinn, Estonia, a quaint walled town with supposedly lots of charm and appeal.

We'll be back tomorrow with photos from our tour of this most unusual place to visit (for us anyway).  See you then!
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Photo from one year ago today, August 15, 2018:
What could they possibly be waiting for?  They were looking in one direction waiting to decide their next move.  For more photos, please click here.

Its good to be posting again!...No post yesterday because...


There are many colorful buildings in Copenhagen. 
Yesterday, we were disappointed we were unable to post.  It wasn't that we didn't try.  In the morning at the pier, we took the Copenhagen, Denmark "Hop-On, Hop-Off bus thinking this would allow me to decide if I could walk and if not, we'd stay on the bus and yet see the highlights of the city of Copenhagen.
Many large buildings such as this are converted former estates.
Our expectations were high.  We climbed the precarious steps to the second level for better views, only to be unable to see anything due to the pouring rain that continued for the over four-hour tour on three different routes.
There weren't as many cars as one might expect.  Copenhagen is energy conscientious and many of is people ride bikes.
We'd never utilized a "Hop-On, Hop-Off" bus in any country preferring to take a taxi to be able to get out and take photos at our leisure.  Based on the heavy rain, the dirty windows on the bus and the inability to open a window made photo-taking a near impossibility.  I doubt we'll ever make this choice in the future.
A street scene from the bus.
The only good part? I could sit when walking is still a struggle (but improving daily) as I wean myself off of this last awful drug, Bisoprolol.  I've only reduced the dose 50% thus far. 
No longer than the first bus took off, it began raining.  Taking photos was tough, especially when the windows didn't open.
It may take a month or more to wean off of it entirely with the dangerous effects that occur during the weaning process such as high and irregular blood pressure, afib (irregular pulse) and dangerously high pulse.  I've had a few instances of these but they resolved quickly with everything returning to normal.
'Historic building.
Of course, whatever I do and wherever we go I am aware that these symptoms can occur but I try not to think about it which will only exacerbate the situation. As each day passes, I can walk a little better, leaving us both hopeful.
Residents bundled up in raingear continuing to get around on bikes.
In any case, the only time we had to get off the bus was to change buses to travel another route.  There were three routes in total.  Fortunately, the bus company had a staff member at each transfer point making the process relatively easy except for standing in the pouring rain while waiting to board the next bus.
The architecture throughout the city was less ornate than in many cities we've visited in the past.
When we couldn't see out the foggy windows and past the rain, I dozed from time to time, tired from not getting enough sleep due to late nights of having fun.  And fun, it is!  
We were surprised to see so few cars on the roads. There was traffic in certain areas but much than one would expect: "As of July 2018, the city has a population of 777,218 (616,098 in Copenhagen Municipality, 103,914 in Frederiksberg Municipality, 43,005 in Tårnby Municipality, and 14,201 in Dragør Municipality)."
We continue to meet more and more fabulous people at every turn. Thus, when we returned from the pointless bus tour, after returning to the ship and parking ourselves near an electric outlet in the Park Cafe, we met a couple from Australia, Vicki, and John.  We had such a good time, I couldn't break away to do the post.
Beer is very popular in Copenhagen and there are many bars and pubs.
The time passed quickly and before we knew it, it was time to freshen up for the evening and head to the Diamond Club to meet up with new friends JoAnn and Fran with whom we've been enjoying happy hour in the Diamond Lounge each evening before heading to dinner.

The four of us joined a table for 10 and had a pleasant dinner, minus a few glitches regarding my food.  I won't get into that.  It happens all the time.  Lack of communication among the kitchen staff is ultimately responsible for the errors. 
We were intrigued by the large cement balls bordering this government building.
They have my detailed food list and all they have to do it follow it.  Hopefully, this will be resolved after last night.  After all, my diet is pretty easy; a piece of grilled fish or seafood, steamed vegetables (no carrots, no starchy veggies) and a side salad (no croutons).  It can't be that complicated.
There are numerous war hero statues located throughout the city.
With a one-hour time change, we didn't get to sleep until 12:30 or 1:00 am, awakening at 6:00 am, not quite enough sleep but we can always take a 20-minute nap later in the day.
The VOOM wireless provides a poor signal at most times.  Yesterday, when I attempted to post a notice that they would not be a post, it took an hour to get online for the short blurb.  The prior day, we couldn't upload photos.  
"The Little Mermaid is a bronze statue by Edvard Eriksen, depicting a mermaid becoming human. The sculpture is displayed on a rock by the waterside at the Langelinie promenade in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is 1.25 meters tall and weighs 175 kilograms." Tom exited the bus to take a photo when it stopped for photos.
If you don't see a post over the next nine days, please check back later in the day or the following day.  Combined with the fact that we have many ports of call to visit, the poor WiFi signal and many social interactions, we could easily miss another day while on the cruise.  From there, we'll be in England and all should be fine with included WiFi at each of the four properties.
"The Maritime Monument, located at Langelinie, close to Langelinie Marina, is a maritime memorial in Copenhagen, Denmark, commemorating civilian Danish sailors who lost their lives during the First World War."
Should we miss an opportunity to post photos of the various countries, we can always include them once we're in the UK.  Tomorrow, we'll be touring Tallinn, Estonia by taxi, hoping for clear skies and many photo ops.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.
Be well.  Be happy.
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Photo from one year ago today, August 14, 2018:
Mom and baby love in Marloth Park.  For more, please click here.

Sorry, no post today ..

We've had a busy day in port with no time to post.  We'll be back tomorrow on a sea day!

We've set sail!...Fabulous first day!...

*Based on a poor WiFi signal while out to sea, we aren't able to download any photos today.  Please check back tomorrow.

Cruise check-in can be a nightmare, taking hours to finally walk aboard the ship.  But, yesterday's check-in at the Port of Amsterdam was literally almost as quick as it could have been.

The only time-consuming process was checking in our bags since Tom had to fill in the information on the paper luggage tags.  Moments later, our bags were whisked away, leaving us carrying only the laptop backpack and the small blue cloth shopping bag in which I had the camera and a few other items.

From there getting "sea passes" and completing the check-in process, we were on the ship in no time at all.  We had sailed on this same ship, Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas, in 2014 from Harwich, England to Boston, Massachusetts. 

We stayed in Boston for a few nights in order to see my cousin Phyllis and our since-passed-away Uncle Bernie and visit my father's gravesite.  See here for the link from that day. 

We're so glad we had a chance to see Uncle Bernie one last time before he passed at 98 years of age.  He was my father's brother and we'd stayed in touch over the years.

Once we boarded the ship at 12:30 pm, and since the cabins weren't available for a few hours, nor would our luggage be delivered to our cabin until several hours later, we decided to have lunch since we hadn't had breakfast in the flurry of activity.

We sat with a lovely couple from Australia, Vickie, and Pino having a great talk while we all ate our lunch.  The table sharing and subsequent endless chatter had begun, one of our big motivators in enjoying cruises as much as we do.

Of course, we love the lazy life aboard ship and the opportunity to visit more and more countries in our journey.  This cruise will result in us visiting six countries we've never visited in the past.  Few cruise itineraries provide us with such an opportunity.

That is undoubtedly a major benefit of cruising.  Although we don't get the full flavor of the country in one or two-day stops, we're often able to see some of the highlights and also to decide if we'd like to return for a longer stay in the future.

A few hours later when the announcement was made that our cabins were ready, we said goodbye to the lovely couple hoping to see them again which on this somewhat smaller ship carrying 2501 passengers, small compared to some of the jumbo cruise ships offered today such as Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas with a capacity of 5518 passengers and over a 1000 crew members.

Those big ships are not for us.  The sheer size creates long queues and waiting times for boarding, leaving the ship for ports of call, availability of dining times and maneuvering about the ship.  

We're not interested in water parks and high adventure activities, common selling points of the massive ships.  Also, we prefer a more intimate, mostly adult environment, quieter and more relaxing while still giving us a chance to interact with many passengers, making new friends.

When we think of all the people we've met on cruises, with whom we're still in touch, we don't regret a moment of the effort we'd consciously made to meet new people at every mealtime and in each lounge area.

It's not surprising that most "cruisers" are frequent travelers to many parts of the world inciting fantastic conversations among all of us.  After chatting with Vickie and Pino, we unpacked a little since our bags had arrived and got ready for the evening's activities.

Our next stop was to the Diamond Lounge for happy hour where once again we shared a comfy table with JoAnn and Fran, from Pennsylvania and stayed until happy hour ended, engaged in lively conversation.

I'd promised myself I'd only have two small glasses of dry red wine a night.  As an enthusiast of red wine, I knew I had to limit myself due to my health situation which I've managed since my first glass of wine, three months after the surgery.

Since I made that commitment to myself, I've learned to sip as slowly as possible while also drinking a big glass of sparkling water on the side.  This works for me and worked well last night, our first night in the Diamond Lounge where drinks are complimentary for Diamond Club members, such as us.

At dinner, we were seated at a table for 10 with all the chairs occupied.  What a great time we had.  I sat next to a lovely couple Vera and Michael and couldn't have enjoyed their companionship more. Tom, based on the seating arrangement, had a better chance to chat with the others.

We didn't get up from the dinner table until 2200 hours, 10:00 pm and headed out to a seating area overlooking the Centrum area while a decent band played "oldies."  We didn't get to our cabin until almost midnight, exhausted from a memorable day.

Now, at almost noon, we're seated in the cafe close to an electric outlet in order to plug in my laptop. My battery only holds a charge for one hour.  We'll be buying new laptops when we arrive in the US in less than three months.

With little sleep last night, soon we'll head to the cabin for a short nap and then make our way to the movie theatre to watch "Captain Marvel."  We aren't necessarily comic book character fans but we'll give it a try.

We'll be back tomorrow with more including an update on how the walking is going so far.

Carpe diem!
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Photo from one year ago today, August 12, 2018:
Once again, we spotted ostriches on Vostruis Road (volstruis means ostrich in Afrikaans) next to this same vehicle where we'd seen them almost five years ago.  Click this link here to see the post from December 7, 2013.  Funny, eh?  For more photos, please click here.

No worse for the wear...Amsterdam keeps giving and giving...Boarding the cruise today...


Me in front of soldier statues. " Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) is a major square in central Amsterdam, Netherlands, ... It was cast in one piece and it is Amsterdam's oldest surviving statue in a public space."  It was a very windy day!
 With many photos from Amsterdam yet to be posted we may save them to share at a future time, perhaps on the cruise on a sea day.  Today, we board the ship.  
Tom, arm-in-arm with the statues.
Checkout time is noon at the Eden Hotel (very nice, canal view) when we'll arrange a taxi to take us to the passenger cruise terminal, a short distance from here.  We'll be ready to go.
Diplomatic building with many flags.
Now, at 10:30 am, Tom is streaming a Minnesota Vikings pre-season game with one quarter remaining.  Since we never unpacked, only opening the bags to get out clean clothes and toiletries, it will only take 10 minutes to close the bags and be on our way.

There are 1000 bridges over the canals in Amsterdam.
Last night we had a great meal at Rain Americana Grill, walking distance from the hotel which added to our daily distance up to 3.5 km, 2.2 miles...a lot of walking for me.  But I'm thrilled I was able to do it, however, difficult it may have been and suffer no ill effects today.

Many of the huge estate homes have been converted to offices, apartments, and condos.
Tom needed some American food so we selected this spot. He had a burger and chips while I had a gluten-free, starch-free burrito using lettuce leaves as wraps and it was delicious.  I have been craving Mexican food for some time.   What a treat!
Menu of marijuana and other such products are available for sale to any adults who so desire to partake. We happened to walk down an alley to run into people smoking pot outside at the cafe.  From this site: "Cannabis has been available for recreational use in coffee shops since 1976. Cannabis products are only sold openly in certain local "coffeeshops" and possession of up to 5 grams for personal use is decriminalized, however, the police may still confiscate it, which often happens in car checks near the border.[citation needed] Other types of sales and transportation are not permitted, although the general approach toward cannabis was lenient even before official decriminalization."
This morning we decided to wait until we board the ship to eat since they have such great options included in our fare.  Until I meet with the maitre'd to review my printed food list, we'll wing it in the buffet.  There will be plenty of salad bar items that will work for me.  

The small park where this statue of Rembrandt is located is a popular gathering place.
During the day, I'll drop off the food list and make a special order for tonight's dinner until they coordinate my restrictions with the chef.  Most likely on this first night, it will be grilled salmon, veggies and Caesar salad (minus the croutons).  Fine with me.

Today's photos continue from yesterday's sightseeing along and in the canals of Amsterdam.  Unfortunately, as the boat moved along, I wasn't able to recall the names of the structures in many of the photos.  

The Sea Palace Chinese Restaurant is located on one of the canals.
Also, I try to "live in the moment" and pay attention to the scenery before me rather than worry about identifying the buildings the next day when I prepare a post.  

And live in the moment we did.  The unique scenery continually enthralled us.  Everywhere one turns, there's something magical to behold.  We both agreed we'd like to return to the Netherlands at some point and see more of this unusual country with design elements, unique to this country.  

There are approximately 2500 houseboats with permits to dock on the canals.  Utilities are made available for those houseboats.  Illegal boats can't access city services.
We'd yet to see tulips (wrong time of year), windmills (not in the city) and stores selling wooden shoes, all very touristy but none the less, fun to see.  Yes, sometimes we behave just like tourists delighting in the all too familiar tourist traps and sightseeing expectations.
Various types of mallards paddle in the many canals.
So, off we go folks.  Our next post will be from the ship on a sea day.  We'll share all the photos and excitement we'll experience along the way.

Have a pleasing day filled with wonder.
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Photo from one year ago today, August 11, 2018:

What a lovely scene on the Crocodile River as seen from Marloth Park.  For more photos, please click here.