Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Wake of the Vikings: TugBoat Dances to Welcome us to Quebec

 

It is a joyful morning. The air is soft, the sky is blue, and Quebec shines like a jewel in the harbor.

The sun is gleaming off a smaller white boat – a tug?

 

The tug starts shooting off water. This is interesting! What is he doing? Is the tug able to use seawater to form the chute of water? Is it also a fireboat?

 

The boat starts toward our boat, and one chute of the water is grazing the bow! Oh no! Is he going to spray all the cruise ship guests? Is this a security risk?

 

No! He veers away, just in time to keep from giving us a soaking, but bouncing port to starboard, starboard to port, dancing for us, dancing with us. One of the crew members waves seeing me shooting this segment. AdventureMan joins me, he waves back.

 

What a delightful and lovely way to start the day. It just keeps getting better!

He is having so much fun. We are having so much fun! The water sparkles off his joyful waterspouts!

 

He almost disappears in a spray of water. He goes around the back to welcome the other side of the ship.

It doesn’t take much to thrill our hearts. This joyful welcome does the trick.

As we dock, the World Cafe is full of people and their cameras; we are docking in the heart of the old city, and views present themselves for the taking. You couldn’t ask for a lovelier day in Quebec; the temperatures will be in the high 70’s F.

 

 

The tug boat harbor:

 

 

“Oh look, the local Vikings are coming,” I said to AdventureMan, and looking right at them, he asked “where?”

“That’s them, the local Viking crew, coming to help get people onto their tours and hand out water,” I pointed out.

“Oh, I thought you meant REAL Vikings,” he grumbled.

LocalVikingsArrive.jpg

Hmmm. When I attended the Bayeux Tapestry lecture, the speaker said that the Battle of Hastings in 1066 is considered the end of the Viking Era, meaning exploration, pillage, plunder and settlement. But really, the Battle of Hastings was Norman (Norseman) against Northman, Viking fighting Viking, and perhaps . . . perhaps . . . the Viking Era goes on, hidden under a thin veneer of civilization.

Don’t you like that idea?

We have a tour late into the afternoon, then final goodbyes, dinner, and making sure our bags are out in the hall and ready to go by ten tonight. The good part about a cruise is unpacking and not having to pack and unpack again. The bad part is that a reckoning always comes, and we are stuffing our suitcases, and throwing out old underwear to make room for the few souvenirs we picked up along the way. The Viking Sky leaves Quebec City tonight for Montreal, and from our landing we head to the airport, en route back to Pensacola. I don’t believe I will be able to post again until we are there, and perhaps not right away, as you know what it is like, the deluge of things that must be done, when you get home . . .

So for now, au revoir from Quebec.

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September 22, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Marketing, Pensacola, Travel, Weather | , , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: A Short Day in L’Anse Aux Meadows

 

We have a wake-up call for six o’clock; we are on the first tender headed into L’anse Aux Meadows and we are excited. Who wouldn’t be; just look at this gorgeous morning sky to greet us. I’m good with drama if it is a morning or evening sky.

We wait a long time to get clearance; there is one other boat in town, and it is the National Geographic Explorer. Canadian Customs officials have to go through our paperwork and interview a select few face-to-face. Our 0700 departure is more like 0830.

 

No rain, so we are thankful, because rain is predicted. We are hoping it will hold off until we have visited the L’anse Aux Meadows Viking Site. Or is it a Native American Camp? For many long years it was believed to be Native American, but a team of archaeologists did a re-look and determined it may well have been an early Norse settlement.

The people in L’anse Aux Meadows go all out to make this interesting for their visitors. They dress in Viking costume to welcome us, and the site we visit has people who are “in character” telling us about their challenging lives in the early settlement, which only lasted maybe ten years.

Below is the woman who organized the buses:

 

 


A beautiful statue of the Vikings reaching the new world:

Statue detail of the ship:

 

There are a series of rooms built together, covered with sod. At one end is an outbuilding with a lathe. This may be someone’s imagination rather than something they really found, like they may have found evidence of an out-building and someone thought “oh it might have been a place where people worked wood, which Vikings did, a lot.”

 

These character actors really enjoy playing their roles. They were a hardy lot, and they work hard.

Decoration on entry to middle of houses:

Outside view of houses:

To the far end of the connected rooms is a multiple bedroom, with kinds of clothing they might have worn. The beds are small, the mattresses thin. It would appear this might be where a family might live, or a father keep his unmarried daughters, as it looks like the next room, much larger, is more of a lodge room where unattached men might sleep along the side of rooms or on the floor near the fire.

 

 

 

More clothing, and cooking tools. Sigh. I am guessing mostly women did the cooking, and that those are women’s clothes, and the corner where they speculate women might have worked preparing meals.

I love the room at the far end. I bet some old woman lived there, some old woman who loved fabrics and colors and textures, who would shear the sheep and clean and comb the wool, card the wool and make it into yarn, or thin threads that could be woven into serviceable clothing.

 

And I am speculating that old woman slept in this chaste little bed among all the supplies for spinning and weaving the wool into yarn and fabrics to clothe the inhabitants. Maybe she even made warm blankets 🙂

Outside the far end of the long house, with an opening for smoke to escape, and light to come in.

This was a forge. What it seems they might have made there was nails, using the most primitive tools and techniques.

We walked back to the center, where we were told to catch the bus, but we are told no, go to this bus-gathering place. Our meet-up seems to have been scheduled about the same time as the National Geographic Explorer meet-up, as their buses are there and . . . ours are not. It is starting to rain.

We wait a long time, and then our bus comes, to take us to another stop, a sort of re-creation of someone’s idea what things may have been like. AdventureMan and I look at each other. He is really tired. He wants to go back to the ship. When the others get off, we stay on, and one other couple asks if the bus can take us to the ship. More and more people figure out that this bus might be going back to the ship, and hop on.

It is really raining now. A tender has just arrived, and a lot of people get off, more people than I would have thought possible. We get on. I learn that a tender can hold a total of 234 people. We head back to the ship. On our way to the elevator, we ask the spa lady if the spa pool is open and she says “YES!” We run upstairs and take off all our clothes and jump into our swim clothes and head down to the hot pool. There is no one else there, just us, rolling around, warming our chilled bodies in the relaxing hot pool and the “ya-kut-zee.” We have a quick lunch, AdventureMan sacks out, and the ship is making rumbles like we are leaving L’anse aux Meadows any minute now. Life is sweet, or as the Captain ends all of his daily announcements from the bridge – All is Well.

September 19, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cooking, Cultural, Customer Service, Education, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, GoogleEarth, Living Conditions, Photos, Quality of Life Issues, Travel, Weather, Women's Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: Day at Sea Between Qaqortoq and L’Anse aux Meadows, Canada

 

AdventureMan pokes me awake, he’s hungry. “I felt like I was falling out of the bed a couple times last night!” he told me.

I am sympathetic. I don’t have motion sickness, but the other day, after a massage, in the spa at the bottom of the boat, I felt queasy. I’m pretty sure it was the moisturizing lotion; there was something about the smell of it, but once I had showered it off, I was OK again. I can imagine what it must be like to have that feeling every time the boat rocks and rolls.

 

 

The sun is coming up; it may be a little rocky but it is a beautiful day. We even see some gulls.

After breakfast, we grab our reading material and head up to the Explorer’s Lounge, where we  have a 180 degree view facing forward. There is a rainbow, ending almost on our ship, and a shadow rainbow with it. Surely, that is the best of luck!

 

Midmorning, we still have beautiful skies, even some blue, lots of sunshine. A little rocky but people are getting used to it.

I love the way the wind blows the spray off the top of the waves and leaves a ghostly mist.

 

 

 

We had a wonderful dinner in the Italian restaurant, Manfredi’s, last night. I had a cold tomato soup, very tasty, even some peppery heat, and the seafood platter, AdventureMan had Caprese Insalata and the Seafood Platter. It was a lovely evening altogether, great food, attentive service and very interesting dining companions from the Carolinas.

 

Every day the Captain comes on at noon to give us a location and conditions update. “Ladies and Yentlemen” he begins and then brings us up to speed on what we can expect, ending with “From the bridge, all is well.” We love that ending. All is well.

September 18, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Birds, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Restaurant, sunrise series, Travel, Weather | , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: “Wake-Up! It’s Prince Christianssund Inlet”

 

AdventureMan wakes me early, and it’s perfectly OK. I’ve been asleep since about eight the night before. It might have been a little seasickness; I was down on level 1 having a massage and the heavy waves didn’t bother me, I liked seeing them crash, but for some reason, not seeing, and the smell of the lotion started to bother me, and I found myself breathing deeply and thinking I might end my session a little early. Fortunately, it was toward the end of the session and it finished and I managed to stay the whole time.

AdventureMan had ordered dinner – after massages, we like to just settle in, and Viking has a wonderful room-service menu. I really needed to shower, I needed to get this scent off me, it was making me uneasy, so I showered and drank some ginger ale, and felt much much better, only tired. I only ate the soup and salad, and went straight to sleep, sleeping soundly through the night.

When AdventureMan woke me, I was ready! And what a thrill, calm seas and gorgeous new scenery to start our day.

“Get dressed! Let’s go have breakfast in the Explorer’s Lounge!” he urged me, so I hurried, but we were not the first, LOL, we have a sturdy demographic on this ship!

 

The views are stunning, and change by the moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We spend a couple hours in the Explorer’s Lounge, and then it is eight and as the surf is calm, I need to see if the spa pool is open!

September 16, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Exercise, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, Travel, Weather | , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: Reykjavik and Thingvellir in Iceland

We can’t believe our good luck, after the clouds and rain in Oslo, Bergen and being shut out of Lerwick, here we are in Iceland, and the weather is PERFECT. Perfect, that is, if you are an Alaska girl who loves to chill 😉 as AdventureMan debates whether or not he needs to wear his long underwear to keep warm.

The cruise director, Aaron Syfert, has told all of us, his cruise-children, to dress “like onions,” in layers, so that we can dress down if possible, and be warm enough when it is really cold. As we enter the bus, we have three or four layers; within minutes, there is a loud outcry from those aboard “Please turn down the heat!” In our full-up onion garb, it is really hot. The driver laughs and said he had wanted us to be warm enough, and turns down the heat until everyone is happy.

We drive through part of Reykjavik en route to our first stop, and the place I have wanted to see the most, Thingviller.

I have a thing about sacred spots, that it seems to me that there are some places in the world where the interface between this world and . . . the next? . . . the former? . . . .the alternate? . . . the interface is thin and perhaps not open, but permeable. Thingviller is a very very old place, a place where all those spread out in rural Iceland would gather to made decisions for the community. It was one of the most ancient forms of democracy, or democracy of a sort, of course it was mostly chieftains making the decisions, advised by their counsel, and while those decision makers were probably mostly men, they made decisions by consensus, and vote, for the greater good of the community.

Some of the decisions they reached would chill you. You will see a waterfall, below, by which there is a pond where violates of the law were drowned. Our guide tells us that most of them were women who had children out of wedlock. “What happened to the men?” one guest asked. “They were beheaded, if they could be found, if they could be identified,” she replied. She added that most of the time, the women went to their death without identifying the man who had impregnated her.

Geologically, Thingviller is fascinating. Thingviller is a huge rift between two tectonic plates, the North American Plate and the Euro/Asian Plate. I had known of “The Thing” the Viking Thing, about the decision making places, but it wasn’t until Digg, or one of the other news sourcing articles I get told me in some spectacular photos from around the world, that I knew about the rift. There were photos underwater, photos of daring young divers with one hand and foot on the North American Plate and the other on the EuroAsian Plate, truly spectacular. I wanted to visit the decision making place, and I wanted to visit the rift.

Last – and not least – Thingviller is one of the locations where Game of Thrones is shot, many of the scenes north of The Wall and of The Wall are shot here. It gives us a thrill, first Spain and the Alcazar and Alhambra, then Dubrovnik, and now Iceland, we are on a roll.

We had a great day, a truly great day, and the weather held. For me, Thingviller was worth the trip to Iceland.

September 15, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Circle of Life and Death, Community, Crime, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Leadership, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Social Issues, Travel, Weather | , , , , | 4 Comments

The Wake of the Vikings: Dawn in Torshavn, Faroe Islands

Our wake up call comes at 0730, and we have slept through the night! We celebrate even minor blessings 🙂 another of which is that despite the heavy clouds, it is not raining, and rain is not expected until late afternoon. We’ll take that 🙂

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Travel, Weather | , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: The Fantoft Stave Church

People are irrational, or anyway I know I am irrational. I think I am logical and make decisions using my mind, but I know that I often make decisions based on an emotional tug, and I rationalize my decision to make it seem logical. Such is the Fantoft Stave Church just outside of Bergen.

I really wanted to see this church. I found a way to take a bus there, but it was a long way out and it was a Sunday and I wasn’t sure about buses running on Sunday. I signed us up for a tour.

I really like churches.

I really like being alone in a church, or being with other church-y people, people who respect churches as a place where people do their best to communicate with a God they can’t figure out.

This was not that kind of visit.

One group out, another group in. I never had a moment alone in this lovely church, built entirely of pegged wood. Imagine, putting an entire church together without a nail. Pretty amazing. The church is beautiful and unique. I just wish I had had time there to get to know it better.

 

The roof is stunning. They used the same technology they used to build Viking boats.

The tour was also listed as “moderate” walking, but several people were on the tour who had wheelchairs or walkers. The second part of the tour, visiting Grieg’s house, museum, studio, grave site, etc required hiking up and down rock paths and leaf strewn paths in wet, rainy conditions. There were places I just didn’t go; I didn’t want to take a chance on a slip-and-fall that could hold me up the rest of the trip. I did fine, but I felt really sorry for those who had signed on thinking it was ‘moderate’ walking and it was really some fairly dangerous turn for those with mobility impairments.

Back on the ship, we went straight to the safety muster, where we gather to be shown how to put on a life-jacket and to go to our life boat, when and if needed.

Best part of the day was Sunday church services held in the Torshavn Bar. It’s a light interdenominational service with inspirational readings, but it soothes my grumpy soul and sets me right for the week to come.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, Faith, Survival, Travel, Weather | , , , | Leave a comment

Terrify Them With Your Hurricane

This morning we awoke to the Boom! Boom! BOOM!  of thunder overhead. You can hear it coming, off in the distance, that almost subsonic rumble far off, getting louder and louder. We have learned to  rouse only slightly, and to go back to sleep between strikes.

There comes a time, however, when it is too close to be ignored. The lightning shines through the eyelids, the BOOMS! are shaking the house, and the rain is coming in sheets. The wind blows from a variety of directions, always a threat to houses built with roof vents – the rain blows up, in and under the vent in quantity, and we need to scurry to find the buckets and the old towels.

Pensacola is experiencing the backlash from Harvey. It started late yesterday, it comes in waves. Heavy rain, clearing. Heavy rain and wind, clearing. Heavy rain and thunder and lightning – and, I am assuming, clearing.

AdventureMan has been up most of the night, monitoring the gutters. He keeps them cleaned out, but when your nearest neighbors are oak trees, the gutters can clog quickly.

This is what it looks like over Pensacola this morning:

 

This is what it looks like in the area:

And here is how it relates to Harvey, which has come back ashore in Louisiana:

 

When the high winds hit, I think of old Psalm 83, which in the version I learned, had the line “terrify them with your hurricane.”

 

Psalm 83[a]

A song. A psalm of Asaph.

O God, do not remain silent;
    do not turn a deaf ear,
    do not stand aloof, O God.
See how your enemies growl,
    how your foes rear their heads.
With cunning they conspire against your people;
    they plot against those you cherish.
“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
    so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

With one mind they plot together;
    they form an alliance against you—
the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
    of Moab and the Hagrites,
Byblos, Ammon and Amalek,
    Philistia, with the people of Tyre.
Even Assyria has joined them
    to reinforce Lot’s descendants.[b]

Do to them as you did to Midian,
    as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
10 who perished at Endor
    and became like dung on the ground.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,
    all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12 who said, “Let us take possession
    of the pasturelands of God.”

13 Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
    like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
    or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so pursue them with your tempest
    and terrify them with your storm.
16 Cover their faces with shame, Lord,
    so that they will seek your name.

17 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
    may they perish in disgrace.
18 Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord
    that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

August 30, 2017 Posted by | Hurricanes, Weather | | Leave a comment

Oceana Grill, New Orleans

In our casual conversations with people who work in New Orleans, we always ask them where they eat. Sometimes we specify in the French Quarter but because we always have a car with us, we aren’t limited. One of the places most frequently recommended is the Oceana Grill.

“It’s not fancy,” one waitress told us when we asked her she she liked to eat, “but the food is reliably good and everyone I know goes there.”

That’s what we want to hear.

Our concierge recommended Deannie’s, a seafood grill just a block away, and since it is raining, we give it a try. There are like fifty people waiting, and a 45 minute wait. We walk another block to the Oceana – still a wait, but only 10 minutes, and we like the atmosphere.

We are quickly shown to a table near the grill. This was an exciting place to sit. We figured out that there is another kitchen somewhere, as food would appear from another direction, but here was where the action was happening, billows of steam flying up into a huge exhaust fan as the fillets hit the grill.

 

 

I decided to go for the New Orleans special, focusing on shrimp etoufee, beans and rice, jambalaya with andouille sausage. It was good. We have a lot of the same in Pensacola.

AdventureMan choose a Po’Boy Oyster sandwich. He said it was fine.

We couldn’t resist a creme brûlée. It was the highlight of our meal 🙂

Just as we left, it rained heavily, it poured rain, and the streets flooded, and even just two blocks back to the hotel took forever – and we didn’t mind a bit. Our clothes were soaked, our shoes were soaked, and we had a wonderful time.

We slept the sleep of The Saints. We woke up late the next morning . . . well, late for us, maybe 7:30 instead of o-dark-hundred when the cats think it’s time for me to get up and feed them. What luxury! Check out was quick and easy, and off we went to grab breakfast and be early to the World War II Museum.

June 24, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Cultural, Eating Out, Food, New Orleans, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel, Weather | , | Leave a comment

The Saint Hotel, New Orleans

What you see is the trips we take.

What you don’t see is the planning and the occasional agony of trying to find just the right place to stay, which restaurant to try. We live in an age of information, sometimes too much information, sometimes false information. You can read reviews, and you have to filter through what they like to glean nuggets pertaining to what you like.

I was looking for a hotel in New Orleans. There are a lot of hotels in New Orleans. We stay frequently at the Westin, at the foot of Canal, for one reason. It is perfect with the grandchildren – the room is spacious, there is parking close by, the kids LOVE the elevator on the outside of the hotel, we can walk to restaurants in the French Quarter, it is close to Magazine street, and a short drive to the Zoo, and it is right next to the Aquarium. (It is also right next to the Algiers Point Ferry I just told you about.)

We have another hotel, the French Market Inn, which we love, but it is noisy, and the rooms we love are actually the noisiest. Others are dark, and smaller.

I found a special offer on a new hotel in the Marriott chain, which is a chain I love because of their customer service training. It looked . . . intriguing. Not like any place we have stayed before. So I booked at The Saint. I liked the location; I liked the novelty.

 

And, as it turned out, I totally loved the hotel.

The entry to the hotel is at least two floors high, with long flowing panels breaking up the space. The lines are clean, the colors soothing – and bold.

For some reason, I think of the room as cobalt blue, when in reality, as I see the photo, the walls were white, with just a small portion of cobalt, and the rug was cobalt. There where long flowing white sheers, and the combination of the cobalt and the white was serene.

The receptionist was welcoming, and efficient, and gave us a couple good ideas for dinner. Meanwhile, it had started raining, and we loved the room so much we took a nap. Even overlooking Canal Street, the room was quiet and . . . serene. The bed was lovely, the bathroom was spacious and sparkling clean with a clear bowl sink – we just loved the room.

 

This was the door to our room – every door was different:

The hallway had blue lights.

It was pouring rain when we went out to eat, and it didn’t matter. We were near so many good restaurants, and we had this lovely room to come back to.

June 24, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Building, Customer Service, Hotels, Road Trips, Travel, Weather | , | Leave a comment