Sunday, August 26, 2007

Dream Cruise 2007 - Getting to Barcelona

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...brought to you by...

After months of planning it was finally time to pack and go! Five people x two checked suitcases + eight carry-ons = 18 pieces of luggage. So this is about half of it!

We left on a Monday afternoon. Our transportation to the airport got to the house right on time. We weren't really expecting a limo (we were thinking a van of some sort). But hey...we'll take the nice ride!

The thing I like least about traveling is the flying. Not the flight itself, but getting to the airport, waiting in lines, delayed flights, uncomfortable seats and lousy food. Well, on this part of the trip...we had NONE of that!

Here's where I shall institute The Donkey Ratings System. Remember my friend The Donkey? He's going to help me give you an idea how much we liked or disliked various aspects of the trip...on a scale of one to four Donkeys, four being the best. Because as that old saying goes, four donkeys are always better than one! (OK, I made that up.)

First, the limo ride. The limo was cool and the ride was quick and pleasant enough...but it was just a pain to get in and out of that vehicle. I give it 3.5 Donkeys.

Now let's talk about Air France. Our Air France experience didn't start off too great, as it took several online attempts and one kinda long phone call to confirm our seats the night before we left.

But everything else...WOW! The plane was beautiful and comfortable and there was a video monitor for each passenger! The video services available included a menu of movies and TV shows to choose from, lots of video games, and a channel which showed the flight's progress on a map. The service was spectacular. And the food! This picture of our dinner does not do it justice!

If I didn't know better, I would think that the baguette was baked in the airplane galley!

We had a bit of a delay once we landed in Paris. The airport has a lot of construction going on, and we taxi-ed about 20 minutes, then got on a bus, then through the passport desk, then through security again, then another bus and we were finally on our way for the short flight to Barcelona. FYI...the signs in the Paris airport are in French...who knew?

I can't blame Air France for the problems at the Paris airport, and the plane for the connecting flight wasn't that great, but overall I give Air France 3.5 Donkeys!

By the time we got to Barcelona, we still had about six hours which we could have used to tour some of the city, but we were just too tired. And we had a scare at the airport when it seemed that only seven of our checked bags arrived. Just as Mike was going to the line to file a claim, the rest of the bags arrived, to our great joy!

The only interesting thing we saw on the way from the airport to the ship was a cemetery built into the side of a hill. None of us got a picture, but I have since learned that the name of the cemetery is Montjuic. Barcelona looks like an interesting place. I would go back there exploring sometime.

But for now, we were happy to finally be on the ship. In the next installment, I'll tell you all about the amazing Celebrity Millennium.

(to be continued)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Electricity = Good, Electricity = Bad

I have survived the big storms in Chicago. There is more rain expected tonight, but the super-duper winds and tornado fears have diminished.

My neighborhood was without power for almost 24 hours. Some of the stores are still closed, but my building is back. It wasn't too bad climbing up the 11 flights of stairs last night. What was worse was having to go to work without washing my hair. I couldn't get water because even the best municipal water pressure won't deliver it that high without the help of a pump. And I had only enough bottled water to wash the rest of me.

Since I couldn't really do much of anything else last night, I watched the storm for a while and got to I was in the dark because I had no eletricity. But there was plenty of it outside. Same stuff that in one context is good, and in the other is deadly. Just like the water, which we cannot live without but is drowning homes just a few miles from here.

Can you think of anything else that can be very good or very bad depending on where/when/how often it is used/consumed/partaken of? How

What would you add to this list?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Flip-flops are not real shoes!

See Mikey, I told you so!

The problem with the flip-flop, [Dr. Steven] Ross explained, is "it doesn't meet the basic criteria of a shoe, which are protection, support and shock absorption. The other most popular shoe, the athletic shoe, does, which is why we recommend wearing it instead."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dream Cruise 2007, brought to you by...

Before I tell you about the cruise, I would like to let you know how the whole thing came about, and who we have to thank for making our wonderful trip possible.

The idea was born quite a while ago. When my brother- and sister-in-law started the home schooling of my niece and nephew, travel to historical places was planned as part of the curriculum. But the year was 2001, and early that fall world travel suddenly lost its appeal just days after we lost my husband Daniel.

Over the years there was some school-related travel, but other events made a big trip overseas a low priority. That's how life goes...priorities and plans change.

Once the kids neared their high school graduation last year - the same year their parents would celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary - the idea transformed into a dream...a dream cruise in the Mediterranean.

From the beginning, this dream had a sponsor...

I've written about Daniel's dad Teofil before. Well, he was a unique and very generous man. He never made a big show of his generosity. He would decide to do something, and just do it. Like the time he donated sod (and a lot of it) to the church in time for our wedding.

And he wanted to give us the cruise as a gift. His health would not allow him to participate, but he would be with us in spirit. He passed away last fall. But his generosity extended beyond his earthly life, and the dream became a reality.

And so we thank you, Grandpa Phil, for the trip of a lifetime. We think about you every day.

And we toasted him every night on the cruise, as you will see.

Next...Getting to Barcelona

Monday, August 13, 2007

Please stayed tuned

Hello. I am The Donkey.

Aunt Judie asked me to let you know that she is still working on organizing the cruise pictures. It's a big job - there are over 1200 pics from four cameras to get in order.

Between you and me, the real reason she's not done is that she keeps daydreaming...looking at the pictures and sighing, imagining she's back in Santorini, where we met on the staircase.

She should be done in a day or two. If she lays off the ouzo.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Back online

I've got lots to tell you, but for now just wanted to let you know I am back (in my Michigan) home safe and sound. Pictures and stories to come.

The cruise was even more wonderful than I expected. If you have never been on a cruise, and you would enjoy a vacation where you are pampered and well-fed and wake up in a new place each day, I highly recommend it.