Tag: Fog

Meeting Our First Grandchild

Meeting Our First Grandchild

Fruita, Colorado – November 21, 2018

Our first grandchild, Michael, was born at virtually the same time as when I landed in La Paz, Bolivia for the first time.  He was born while his father was at sea.  On Veterans Day; father, mother, and baby were finally reunited.

Shortly before Tyler returned from deployment, he said he and his family planned a trip to Colorado around the Thanksgiving holiday.  With that knowledge, I was able to make arrangements to leave work for a little over a week and head to Colorado.

The anticipation was enormous! I had not seen my wife for nearly four months because she had been in Colorado. I had not seen Tyler, Hillary, or the rest of my family for close to 15 months. I had never met Tyler’s wife, Victoria, and, of course, I had only seen Michael in photographs.

A very comfortable, sleeping baby.

My countdown for my Colorado homecoming finally made it to mere hours as I sat at home on the evening of November 19.  My taxi was due to pick me up at about 00:15 on the morning of the 20th.

Right on time, my taxi arrived. I was tired because I had only dozed while waiting. Regardless, I wheeled my luggage, laden with Bolivian gifts, to the curbside, and placed it in the rear of the car. The woman who was my driver spoke virtually no English. But even with me being 90 percent illiterate in Spanish, we were able to communicate. One of her first questions to me, in Spanish, was whether I wanted her to go via the Llojetta route or take the Autopista. I said I did not care, and it was up to her as the driver. She selected the Llojetta route.

When we turned off of Avenida Costanera onto Avenida Mario Mercado, we began our climb to El Alto. We went up and up. In fact, there seemed to be no end to up. The only difference in our climb was when we encountered a speed bump or a sharp hairpin turn. Other than that, it was all up! Because of the steep road, much of that part of the journey was in second gear.

Our house in La Paz is at 11,180 feet (3,408 meters).  The El Alto International Airport is at 13,300 feet (4,054 meters); quite an altitude gain.

We finally crested onto the top of the El Alto mesa.  There were still several more kilometers to go to get to the El Alto International Airport, but at least it was all reasonably level.

It was around 01:00 when we arrived at the airport.  I paid my 200 Bolivianos (US$29), took my baggage, and went inside the terminal.  By 01:40, my check-in was complete.  Ten minutes later, I was at my gate, waiting patiently for my 04:30 flight to Lima, Peru.  That flight was right on time.

About an hour and one-half later, the plane landed at the Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima, Peru.  Since I was merely transiting Lima, I did not have to go through passport control.  However, I did have to go back through security screening.  I left the screening area after a very brief wait and made my way to Friday’s for breakfast.  I must have been hungry because it tasted so delicious.

Departing the restaurant, I made my way to the gate for my flight to Orlando, Florida. I arrived early. I watched as the security and airline personnel set up another security screening area at the gate. This is standard practice for a flight departing an international location, heading to a United States airport. Once again, I had no issues and a very short wait for the screening.

Soon after the screening, the airline employees began to scan the passengers’ boarding passes and allow us onto the waiting bus. When the bus was full, we rode to the waiting Latam aircraft. Onboard the plane, I settled into my seat and waited for the five and one-half hour flight to begin. It ended up being a comfortable and uneventful flight.

Passing the Florida coastline on the way to Orlando.

Once I was off the plane in Orlando, Florida, I went to passport control. As usual, that was a breeze. I waited in the Customs area for my one bag to come off the plane. My customs form dutifully filled out in detail, rested in my pocket. I lifted my bag from the carousel and went to the exit. I did not see anyone collecting the Customs forms. I asked a passing Customs officer to whom I should give my paper. She said they no longer use those forms…

To get to my next gate, I had to exit the terminal. That meant I had to go back through a security screening. I usually have TSA Pre-Check status on my boarding pass. The boarding pass issued by Latam in Bolivia did not have that notation as the lady at the TSA Pre-Check line pointed out to me. She said I could go to a nearby kiosk and try printing another boarding pass. I declined. That ended up to be an error in judgment.

I entered the line for security screening. Today was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving in Orlando, Florida. By the way, Orlando is home to Disney World. The screening area was absolutely packed with holiday travelers and many, many families sporting Disney World attire. The line snaked back and forth for a distance at least equal to the steep road to El Alto.

I found myself sandwiched in the line between two of the Disney World families. The family behind me had a child in a stroller. I lost count of the number of times the stroller bumped into the back of my legs. The family in front of me was a husband, wife, and two children in the eight-year-old range. I am not sure just how much of their home they brought with them or how much of Florida they were trying to take back to their home, but I did not know TSA had that many plastic x-ray bins. I pictured myself finally approaching the x-ray conveyor, looking wistfully at an automaton TSA employee, and merely shrugging my shoulders because there were no more bins in the entire zip code. Somehow, additional containers did show up. When I could finally approach the conveyor, I placed my items in the bin (note that word is not plural) and stepped through security. At this point, I request the reader to stop, take a deep breath, sigh, and revel in my successful trip through the Orlando security checkpoint. I celebrated the fact that there was no bruising on the back of my legs from the stroller.

Quite blissful, I made my way to Ruby Tuesday for a well-deserved glass of sauvignon blanc and chicken sandwich.

My last flight of the day was to Dallas, Texas. I quickly boarded the plane and had a relatively quick trip to DFW. The flight arrived in Dallas at about 23:05 Bolivian time. I could not make it to my final destination because there were no more flights to Grand Junction that day.

I waited at the baggage carousel to collect my bag. With my suitcase in tow, I walked to the lower level, called the Marriott for a shuttle, and waited. I made it to the hotel at about 00:00 Bolivian time. That meant I had been traveling for about 24-hours. I was delighted to lie down and sleep.

Early the next morning I got back on a shuttle and went back to the airport. I checked my bag, grabbed some breakfast, and found my gate, D14. While I was sitting at the gate, I saw a plane arrive. The plane stopped short of the jet bridge because the ground crew was not there to guide the aircraft. After 10 or 12 minutes, the ground crew arrived and guided the plane to a proper stop. Just as that happened, I received a text on my phone. With about 45 minutes left before my flight was to begin boarding, the departure gate changed to Terminal C. That was disheartening. However, it turned out to be ok because I did not have to go back through security.

A wishbone sculpture in one of the DFW terminals. It seemed appropriate for Thanksgiving!
The D14 jet-bridge at DFW airport.
An American Eagle plane arriving at D14. I mistakenly thought this would be my plane to Grand Junction, Colorado.
The pilots waiting patiently for a ground crew to guide them to D14.
Stopping on the mark at D14.

At the new gate, I boarded the plane, sat back for a smooth ride, and was in Grand Junction by 10:30 local time, Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.

Leslie and Hillary met me at the airport.  Soon we were in Fruita, Colorado, Lorraine’s home, the base of operations for this high-level visit.  I began eating my way across Colorado with some Gardetto’s Snack Mix, one of my favorite things on this planet.  We busied ourselves with last-minute preparations for Tyler, Victoria, and, of course, Michael.

Enjoying time on the patio with Bella.
Mother and daughter.

On the morning of Thanksgiving Day, we drove to the airport to pick up the newest members of our family, Victoria and Michael. We quickly caught a glimpse of the proud papa, Tyler, carrying our very first grandchild, Michael. We very happily saw, met, and hugged our new daughter-in-law Victoria too. It was so lovely to have them at the same place on Earth as Leslie and me.

Once we were back in Fruita, poor Michael was passed around like a rugby ball…well, we did not toss him around; but he indeed found his way to many people at the house! Hillary and Shane stopped by so, now the only couple missing was great-grandma and great-grandpa Juvera. That was remedied the next morning when they arrived at the airport. Suddenly Michael had two more fans to whom he could be passed.

Grandma and Michael.
Great-grandma and Michael…oh, and Bella.
And this grandpa loves this boy!!
Great-grandma J.
Great-grandpa J.
Asleep after a feeding.
Auntie and Michael playing like a boss!
Just a little tired.
Grandma holding her dear, sweet grandson.
Time for his close-up.
If one wants a good selfie, don’t let the grandpa take it!!
Father and son.
Auntie Hillary with her newest nephew, Michael.

Since everyone was finally together, Friday was Bolivian Santa day.  I had brought gifts from Bolivia for everyone.  There was Bolivian chocolate for each family.  The guys received wallets, alpaca socks, t-shirts, key chains, a refrigerator magnet, and a Marine Security Guard Detachment coin.  Everything was from Bolivia.  The women received hand-woven, baby alpaca shawls.  The remainder of Friday was spent visiting with all of our family.

It was also an Ugly Christmas Sweater day. Hillary had purchased ugly Christmas sweaters for all of us. I set up the tripod, and we captured the moments.

Gifts from Bolivia and happy recipients.  These are mantillas or shawls.
The family reunion photo with ugly Christmas sweaters provided by Hillary. From left to right is Lorraine, Victoria, Tyler with Michael, Terry (your humble writer), Leslie, Hillary, Shane, Joleen, and Claude.
Great-grandma Joleen and great-grandpa Claude joined in the photo.
Great-grandma Lorraine joined in the photo.
Grandpa and grandma with number one grandson, Michael.
Modeling our ugly Christmas sweaters…

Saturday was a day for more visiting with relatives.  Early that morning, Tyler, Victoria, and I stopped at the Aspen Street Coffee Company to get some go-juice.  Later in the day, Tyler and I went to the barn to sort through some of his stuff.  In one of the boxes, he found his baby blanket!  That is now 25 years old!  It seemed strangely appropriate now that Michael is on the scene.

Inside the Aspen Street Coffee Company in Fruita, Colorado.
The proud papa displaying his newly discovered baby blanket from a quarter-century ago!

Just as important was the preparation of our Thanksgiving meal. That evening, I took the opportunity to take a selfie of the group. It may not be the best photograph, but it will forever mean a lot to me. Michael is just off-camera in his bouncy chair.

The Thanksgiving feast!

On an evening trip through the town center of Fruita, I was struck by the beautiful Christmas lights on display.  I had never seen that before.

The Christmas lights in downtown Fruita, Colorado looking west.
The Christmas lights in downtown Fruita, Colorado looking east.
A Christmas bicycle in Fruita, Colorado.

Sunday morning, Leslie and I took great-grandma and great-grandpa Juvera back to the airport for their return to Colorado Springs.

One morning in Fruita, it was cold and foggy. I looked outside and saw there was a beautiful frost on nearly everything. That meant it was a great time to go out with my camera.

View of a fence post with frost in Fruita, Colorado.
Fog, fence, trees, and a paddock in Fruita, Colorado.
Fog, fence, and trees in Fruita, Colorado.
Detail of frost on a top-rail of a fence in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost on the top rail of a fence in Fruita, Colorado.
Fog as seen through a very frosty and somewhat symmetrical gate in Fruita, Colorado.
Detail of a very frosty and somewhat symmetrical gate in Fruita, Colorado.
Looking toward a barn gate in Fruita, Colorado.
Another frosty plastic hay bale tie in Fruita, Colorado.
A frosty fence at a horse paddock in Fruita, Colorado.
Detail of frost on a plastic hay bale tie in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost on a plastic hay bale tie in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost on a fence and weed in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost on the bare branches of a globe willow in Fruita, Colorado.
Detail of frost on the bare branches of a globe willow in Fruita, Colorado.
A frosty water spigot in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost, fog, and trees in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost on an evergreen tree in Fruita, Colorado.
Detail of frost on an evergreen tree in Fruita, Colorado.

Once the fog lifted, one could see that the Colorado National Monument had received some snow.  I was very picturesque as seen from Fruita.

A view of snow on the Colorado National Monument.
Looking toward the Colorado National Monument, one can see the Independence Monument.
A closer view of the Independence Monument.

Since Victoria had never been to Colorado, we had to take her to the Colorado National Monument.  At the entry station, the ranger told us no Desert Bighorn Sheep had been spotted that day; however, we should stay alert.  There was a chance we might see some.

We drove up to the visitor center, stopping periodically to view sights from the various overlooks.  At the visitor center, we stopped to go inside and explore.  We also stepped out to the Canyon Rim Trail to look down into the adjoining canyon.

Looking across the Colorado River Valley from the Colorado National Monument.
Tyler and Victoria at the Colorado National Monument.
A jet passing by the Balanced Rock formation in the Colorado National Monument.
A closer view of the Balanced Rock in the Colorado National Monument.
Pointing the way to the Canyon Rim Trail near the visitor center in Colorado National Monument.
A view of a cliff from the Canyon Rim Trail overlook.
A twisted cedar tree in Colorado National Monument.
Detail of the sandstone bricks used in the construction of the visitor center in the Colorado National Monument.
A red sandstone cliff near the visitor center of the Colorado National Monument.

Back in the vehicle, we continued toward the East Entrance to the Colorado National Monument. I was driving and focused on the road. Suddenly Leslie shouted there was a sheep alongside the road! Sure enough, a Desert Bighorn Sheep ewe was lying beside the road, casually chewing her cud. I stopped immediately. Tyler, Victoria, and I piled out to take photographs. Just as we finished, I saw another vehicle approaching. They were slowing to take photos as we had done.

A Desert Bighorn Sheep along the road in the Colorado National Monument.
A closer view of the Desert Bighorn Sheep in the Colorado National Monument.
There was an inch or two of snow in places at the Colorado National Monument.
Looking across the canyon to the Canyon Rim Trail.
View of the Independence Monument from Otto’s trailhead in the Colorado National Monument.
A closer view of the Independence Monument from Otto’s trailhead in the Colorado National Monument. The Grand Mesa is in the distance.
Snow, cedar, and pines in the Colorado National Monument.
Mountains in the distance as seen from the Colorado National Monument.
Detail of a cedar tree in the Colorado National Monument.
A dead cedar tree in front of a Mormon Tea plant in the Colorado National Monument.
Independence Monument and the view looking north and west from the Colorado National Monument.
A closer view of the Independence Monument in the Colorado National Monument. The town in the background is Fruita, Colorado.

Continuing our eastward journey, I was surprised at how much snow there was on the road.  By the time we got to the East Entrance, the road was completely dry.

When we left the Colorado National Monument, we called Hillary and Shane to tell them we were on the way to the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita.  They met us there.  For the meager entry fee, a visit to the museum is a must if one is in the area.  The interpretive and interactive displays help put the prehistoric history of the area into perspective.

The truck outside the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado.
One of the displays in the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado.
In the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado. This is where the work of exposing fossils takes place.
A rather gruesome depiction of mealtime in the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado.
A depiction of a stegosaurus in the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado.

Our time in Fruita coincided with a full moon.  I was able to get a reasonably good photograph of the moon one night.  It reminded me of the pictures I took of the moon while we were stationed in Islamabad, Pakistan.

A full moon visible in Fruita, Colorado.

No trip to Fruita is complete without a visit to the Main Street Café in Grand Junction, Colorado.  When we go there, we always try to get the table that is in the display window.  The day we went, that table was open, so grabbed it quickly.  It had been eons since I had a milkshake.  I corrected that oversight with a strawberry milkshake.  It was absolutely everything I thought it would be!

Yep! That is a strawberry shake! You too can get one at the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Ready for lunch at the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado.
He just finished his lunch at the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado.
A Marilyn Monroe advertisement in the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado.
One of the “window display” seating areas in the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado.
An art installation just outside of the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado. The cafe is visible in the background with the checkerboard sign.

After lunch, we walked along Main Street; stopping at the Main Street Minerals and Beads shop and then the Robin’s Nest Antiques and Treasures store.  That antique store is one of our favorite stops in downtown Grand Junction.

The Main Street Minerals & Beads shop in Grand Junction, Colorado.
The building housing the Main Street Minerals & Beads store in Grand Junction, Colorado dates from 1890.
Our favorite antique store in Grand Junction, Colorado. A Robin’s Nest of Antiques & Treasures.
A partial view of the Reed Building in Grand Junction, Colorado. It dates from 1908.
An artfully disguised utility box along Main Street in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Wednesday morning after Thanksgiving, I was up early as usual.  I could tell the sunrise was going to be good.  So once again, even though it was cold, I grabbed my camera and headed outside.  I think the results speak for themselves.

Looking across a paddock in Fruita, Colorado watching the sunrise.
A closer view of a lone tree in Fruita, Colorado during a sunrise. The Grand Mesa is visible in the distance.
A wider view across the paddock in Fruita, Colorado.
A lone tree in Fruita, Colorado silhouetted by the sunrise.
The sunrise was very pretty on this cold fall morning in Fruita, Colorado.
The home in Fruita, Colorado.
A globe willow tree in front of a barn in Fruita, Colorado.
Looking across a paddock in Fruita, Colorado toward the Colorado National Monument.

Later that morning, we took Tyler, Victoria, and Michael to the airport so they could begin their 11-hour journey home.  They made it home about an hour late, but safe and sound.

When we returned from the airport, Leslie and I finished packing our baggage.  We were due to the leave Grand Junction the next morning.  We had so much stuff we had to ship some items to Bolivia to keep from having overweight baggage.

That next morning, we drove to the airport.  We left the vehicle in the parking lot for Lorraine and Hillary to retrieve later that morning.  We went inside the airport, checked-in, and went to our gate to await boarding.

We boarded and left on time.  It was a very smooth and uneventful flight to Dallas, Texas.

On the final approach to the DFW airport in Dallas, Texas.

Once we were in Dallas, we had enough time to get breakfast at Chili’s.  It was particularly marginal, but it was food.

When we got to our gate, we only had a short wait before we boarded the American Airlines plane bound for Orlando, Florida.  Once again, that flight was comfortable and uneventful.  We had a row of three seats to ourselves, so we were able to spread out.

A happy passenger waiting to depart from DFW in Dallas, Texas.
While our plane was taxiing at DFW airport in Dallas, Texas, another plane was landing.
A runway marker at the DFW airport in Dallas, Texas. Our plane ultimately took off on runway 35L.
A Delta jet at the DFW airport beginning the takeoff roll.
The passengers on our plane at the DFW airport in Dallas, Texas waiting for the takeoff.
An American Airlines jet at the DFW airport in Dallas, Texas beginning its takeoff roll.
Another American Airlines jet at the DFW airport in Dallas, Texas beginning its takeoff roll.

The comfort ended at Orlando.  A wheelchair attendant was at the door of the plane to collect Leslie.  He pushed her to the desk at the gate, said he had to go clear the plane and left us there.  We did not quite understand that.  In all of our travels, once the wheelchair arrives, we are off to our next destination with no stops.

The young man finally returned and began walking with us down the concourse.  I asked to confirm that he knew where we were going.  He replied yes, to baggage claim such and such.  I said no, we had a connecting flight to Lima, Peru.  He stopped, checked his iPad, and said we had to leave the secure area to check in with our carrier, Latam Airlines.  That was disheartening since I already knew how challenging the security screening was at Orlando.

Regardless, he got us to the Latam desk. I showed our tickets to the woman at the counter. She said we were all set and we could go to our gate. Since Leslie and I had not originally planned to travel together, we had different itineraries. That meant our seat assignments were not together. I asked the woman if she could seat us together. She flatly said no. That surprised me. She said we might be able to change seats at the gate. I pointed out that Leslie needed assistance. She told us to wait at a designated point, and someone would take us to the gate shortly.

We waited at the designated spot for nearly ten minutes.  Finally, I asked another Latam employee how we were supposed to get to the gate.  Ultimately, they called someone, and we began our journey to gate 82.

As we got to the security screening area, we entered the wheelchair assistance line. I thought that meant we would be expedited through the queue. Boy was that an incorrect thought. I could have sworn that some of the families in line wearing Disney World attire were the same families I had seen a week earlier. Even though we were in a short and “fast” lane, it took an excessive amount of time to get through security.

Departing security, our attendant got us to the gate reasonably quickly.  Just as we arrived, they started boarding.  By our way of reckoning, we just barely made it to our plane.

We boarded the plane, and Leslie took her seat at 18J, an aisle seat. I continued to 26C, another aisle seat. The boarding was somewhat chaotic. I kept an eye on Leslie. I saw the middle seat next to her remained open. As it so happened, the middle seat next to me also remained open. When it appeared boarding was complete, I asked one of the flight attendants if I could sit next to my wife. She agreed, so we were able to sit together.

The flight from Orlando to Lima, Peru was uneventful but lengthy. At only about five and one-half hours, it was certainly not the longest flight we have taken, but it is still a long time to be cooped up in an aluminum cigar. We eagerly awaited the in-flight service and a glass of wine…wait a minute…Latam airlines do not serve alcohol…what?!?! We may never fly them again…

I was ever hopeful that when we arrived in Lima, we would have enough time to go to Fridays and get something to eat and drink…wrong.  The airport was bustling.  We made it to our next gate with about 20-minutes to spare.  The only good thing is I asked the gate attendant if Leslie and I could sit together.  She moved us to the front of the plan, row 2, and seated us side by side.

The pilot making preparations to depart Lima, Peru on the way to La Paz, Bolivia.

The flight from Lima to La Paz, Bolivia was one of our shorter trips.  We arrived in La Paz at about 03:15 Bolivian time.  One of the Embassy employees was there to meet us and help us through customs.  When we had retrieved our luggage and got in the vehicle, it was nearing 04:00.

Our driver selected the Autopista, a not-quite-finished highway. WOW! After taking that, if another driver ever asks if I want to take the Autopista or the Llojetta route, it will definitely be the Autopista! It was much quicker, and fewer hairpin turns, no speed bumps, and travel was at a reasonable speed.

We made it home at about 04:30, after nearly 24-hours of travel. We had that long-awaited glass of wine and crashed into bed. We were together and at home!!

Aarhus

Aarhus

Aarhus, Denmark – July 9, 2015

Early in the morning, while still at sea, we could feel the ship rolling. The wind whistled through our balcony doors. The wooden hangers in the closet banged against the closet wall.

The Birgit Knutsen on a very choppy Baltic Sea.
The Birgit Knutsen on a very choppy Baltic Sea…view II.

When we awoke, we could tell the weather was not good. The ship approached the dock with two tugboats. That is unusual since the boat is ordinarily able to dock under its power. Over the intercom, the captain informed us that the tugboats were necessary since the winds were gale force (39-54 mph). Once we were off the ship, we felt the full power of those winds. It was uncomfortable to walk.

Detail of one of the tugboats.
Another tugboat assisting the cruise ship.
A tugboat pulling against the Regal Princess.

The ship docked in a cargo area of the port. I assume that was due to the draft of the vessel. To disembark, we had to get a bus ticket and wait in one of the dining rooms. When the crew called the range of numbers that included ours, we disembarked the ship and climbed onto a bus. A few minutes later, we got off the boat near a tourist information center.

Cargo cranes and two ships at the Aarhus port.

That is when we found out the sites we wanted to visit were each at least an hour out of town. We decided to take our chances in town.
We set out on foot from the tourist information center. We had zero ideas where we were going or what we would do in town. Following the crowd from our bus seemed an excellent place to start. At one point, the group began to follow the Aarhus River. We opted to take a side street. On that side street were several ancient buildings. There did not seem to be a straight or plumb line on any part of the buildings.

Following many shipmates along the Aarhus River into the town of Aarhus.
A family riding on the streets of Aarhus.
I am not sure of the age of the building, but it does seem to have some old-age sagging…
This older building seems to be a bit more plumb.

Within a couple of blocks, we found the Aarhus Cathedral in the Latin Quarter; so had nearly all our shipmates. It was very crowded. The cathedral construction began in 1190, with additional expansion work from the mid-1400s to the early 1500s. From quite a distance away, one could not help but see the main spire. The tower is roughly as tall as the cathedral is long, at just over 300 feet. Once inside, I found it hard to believe that the cathedral can accommodate about 1,200 people. It seemed too narrow. That narrowness made the vaulted ceilings look even higher. Surprisingly, nearly every item hung on the walls, or every tomb marker had either a skull or skeleton prominently displayed. That seems out of the ordinary for a cathedral.

The Aarhus Cathedral.
People walking along the street at the rear of the Aarhus Cathedral.
A side chapel in the Aarhus Cathedral.
The long, narrow main aisle of the Aarhus Cathedral.
This fresco dates between 1470 and 1520. It depicts St. George slaying the dragon.
A plaque commemorating a person who died in 1669. Note the skull in the center.
A model of the ship Unity hanging in the Aarhus Cathedral. The model dates from 1720. The Cathedral is named after St. Clement, the patron saint of sailors.
The altar of the Aarhus Cathedral.  The gold is real 24k gold.
The base of the altar of the Aarhus Cathedral.
Detail of the Aarhus Cathedral altar.
Detail of the altar in the Aarhus Cathedral.
This plaque commemorates a person who died in 1587.
An ancient fresco in the Aarhus Cathedral.
A tourist stopping for a photograph of the clock.
The clock above the entrance to the chapter house in the Aarhus Cathedral.  I am not quite certain how one tells the time with this clock…
Detail of the end of a pew.
Another of the ancient frescoes. This one is partially covered by a plaque commemorating a death from 1690.
This stone was laid on the floor, presumably to cover a burial. Note the full skeleton in this motif.
Another commemorative plaque from 1667. Note the skulls at the base.
The chapter house in the Aarhus Cathedral.
Some paintings and a commemorative plaque in the chapter house of the Aarhus Cathedral.

Leaving the cathedral, we wanted to find a refrigerator magnet from Aarhus. We only found run-of-the-mill shops and department stores. We ended up alongside a canal at the Ziggy Cafe. We sat outside, facing the channel so that we could watch the world.  Luckily, the buildings provided an excellent windbreak. Even still, Leslie was cold. The cafe was prepared.  Each outdoor seat had a fleece blanket folded on the back. Braced against the wind, we had a beer and shared some chicken nachos. The nachos were surprisingly good.

The Royal Hotel.
People in the plaza in front of the Aarhus Cathedral.
Pedestrians near the Aarhus Cathedral.
Some flowers near the Aarhus Cathedral.
The Aarhus River passes through the central business district.
A busy pedestrian street in Aarhus.
Kissing a gull…a mural on a building in the central business district of Aarhus.
Looking back toward the Aarhus Cathedral spire.
Tourists taking a group photo on a bridge over the Aarhus River.
Typical buildings facing the Aarhus River.
A very old building on the edge of the central business district.

Walking back to the drop-off/pick-up point, I saw a building that intrigued me; rather, it was the sculpture on the second-floor landing. We walked to the building that turned out to be the public library. We got off the elevator on the second floor. The eagle “sculpture” was part of a children’s play area. A young boy “rode” the eagle as we arrived. We left via the stairs and braved the wind back to the bus.

The play area at the library.
Coming down the steps of the library building.

Back on the ship, we found out our next port of call was not Warnemunde, Germany. The gale-force winds forced the closure of that port for boats the size of the Regal Princess. Our new port of call was Kiel, Germany, more on that in the next blog entry.

View from the cruise ship back toward Aarhus.
A ferry departing the port of Aarhus.
Oslo

Oslo

Oslo, Norway – July 8, 2015

Around 05:00-ish, the Regal Princess smoothly glided northerly in the Outter Oslofjord, heading toward port in Oslo, Norway. It was very relaxing to sit on the balcony and watch the sights of the fjord silently slip by the ship. It was a long passage. We did not dock in Oslo until about 10:00 on this gray and rainy day. The temperature was somewhere around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and hazy with low cloud cover. The water had a blue-gray tint. The sea was very calm.

At times, in both the Outer and Inner Oslofjords, the rain was ferocious.

The previous night we slept with our balcony door wide open. I thought that was very comfortable. It was chilly, which made for good sleeping. We could hear the sound of the sea as the ship cut through the water. For me, that was very relaxing.
The scenery from our balcony was beautiful. Some areas were an utterly pristine forest, from the cloudy hilltops, ending at the rocky seashore. Some areas had houses interspersed throughout. Looking at several homes on a hillside reminded me of looking at houses on the hill in Cascade, Colorado. At one point, at the end of Oscarsborg island, there was a military gun emplacement. It is the Oscarsborg Fortress, charged with defending the seaward approach to Oslo.

Homes along the shore of the picturesque Outer Oslofjord.
Gun emplacement at the south end of Oscarsborg Fortress on Oscarsborg Island. This is in the Inner Oslofjord.
A closer view of the gun emplacement at Oscarsborg Fortress.
One of the buildings on Oscarsborg Island.
The small dock at Oscarsborg Island is visible in the lower right.
The dock area and white hotel at Oscarsborg Island.
A wider view as the cruise ship slips by Oscarsborg Island.
The rugged coast of the Inner Oslofjord.

Marinas, along with colorful buildings and homes, seemed to be everywhere. One must wonder just what life is like this far north.
From our balcony, once we had docked, we saw water taxis of various sizes and ferries continually moving to and from Oslo. We even saw a seaplane go by at one point. The weather did not seem to deter anyone on their travels.

One of the many ferries we passed on this cold and rainy morning.
I am not sure what building is at the lower left, but it reminds one of something built from Legos.
A lone seaplane flying above the fjord.
A sightseeing boat approaching the port of Oslo.
Sheets of rain plagued our arrival to Oslo.
The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art at Oslo.
A larger ferry departing Oslo.
City hall as seen from the Oslo port.
As the cruise ship was preparing to dock, Akershus Fortress and Castle came into view.

When we got off the ship, we boarded one of the Hop-On-Hop-Off buses that were right by the cruise ship dock. It was raining very hard. We ended up getting off the bus near the royal palace. It was beautiful even though we did not go inside.

The rather red interior of the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus at the port of Oslo. The windows on the right are those of the cruise ship.

We tried to keep the perpetual rain from dampening our spirits. We ended up walking around the palace area of town, seeing some magnificent architecture such as the University of Oslo and the National Theater buildings.

Det Kongelige Slott or The Royal Palace of Norway.
A closer view of the Royal Palace entry.
Wet tourists on a wet day, walking along a wet street, in front of a wet Scandinavian Institute of Maritime Law.
The front of the Nationaltheatret.
A sculpture on the side of the Nationaltheatret.
An advertisement for some of the upcoming works at the Nationaltheatret.
One of the many trolleys operating in the area.
Some flowers in the park enjoying the rain.
More flowers soaking in the rain.
The rain continued as tourists took in the sights of a small park. The pond is used as an ice skating rink in the winter.

We also saw the Oslo Radhus (city hall). It has an art deco style, no doubt due to construction beginning in 1931. This building is world-famous as the home of the annual Nobel Peace Prize ceremony that occurs every year on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. Probably the most eye-catching feature of the building is the astrological clock. The twelve signs of the zodiac are interspersed on the face of the clock. I must say with all of the hands; I was a little stumped on just how to tell the time.

At the end of the street is the Oslo city hall.
The entry to the Oslo city hall.
Detail of the clock at the Oslo city hall.
The fountain at the front entrance to the Oslo city hall.

Ultimately we found a store in which to do some shopping for Norway tourist junk. It was easy to find all of the “junk” we could ever want. We found refrigerator magnets, office magnets, moose lanyards, and even moose underwear!
Leaving the shopping behind, we stopped at a street-side cafe on Karl Johans Gate, Egon. Our server, Lorena, was amiable. She was actually from Grand Canary, in the Canary Islands of Spain. She said she had been in Oslo for only one week. When we inquired what had prompted her to come to Norway, she replied she had just gotten divorced. Regardless, she was very happy and quite keen to talk to us.
After having such a large breakfast on the ship, we were not yet hungry. Instead, we shared a pitcher of Ringnes, a Norwegian beer.

The sidewalk seating area of Egon Restaurant.
Lorena, our very nice and friendly Spanish server at Egon Restaurant.
My Oslo companion!
Pedestrians passing by Egon Restaurant.

When we finished the beer, we got back on the bus and sat through numerous stops. We chose to see the sights from the bus, letting the others hop on and hop off. The bus drove through some rural areas with horses and cattle scattered in the lush green fields. It is a lovely country.

An ornate metal door.
A quaint looking coffee shop in Oslo.
A view of our cruise ship across from some construction.
The Auster Salon and Academy in Oslo.
A view into an office while stopped at a red light in Oslo.
A portion of the Frognerkilen Marina.
Horses in a paddock in the Bygdøy area of Oslo.
A beautiful home in the Bygdøy area of Oslo.
People getting off the bus near a telephone booth in the Bygdøy area of Oslo.
One of the typical buildings we rode by in the Bygdøy area of Oslo.
Some dairy cows in the Bygdøy area of Oslo.
A new complex of offices and apartments.
People were out and about despite the weather.
A typical side street in Oslo.

We got off the bus at the cruise ship dock. Directly across the street from the ship is Akershus Fortress and Castle. It cost about $7 for both of us to enter.  It was still raining hard, so it was nice to be inside, dry and relatively warm.

The path to the entry point of the Akershus Fortress and Castle in Oslo.
The welcome sign to the fortress. The cruise ship is in the background.
A lonely canon overlooking the harbor.
The ancient canons seem to be trained on the cruise ship.

The castle, built in 1300, offered a self-guided tour with headphones. Surprisingly, there was a lot of the palace open to visitors. I found it to be the “coziest” castle we have ever toured. I imagine that is due to the much smaller scale of this castle. For example, compared to the Palacio Real in Madrid, the Akershus Castle is more like a country retreat.
There is a royal guard at the main entrance to the castle. There is an active military base still on the grounds. The guard stands stoically, neither speaking or moving…until a tourist tried to pose for a photograph on his right side, his weapon side. He immediately motioned that she must stand on his left. Once that happened, he allowed several pictures.

A couple exiting Akershus Fortress near the royal guard.
A royal guard at one of the entries to the Akershus Fortress.
A portion of the fortress viewed from inside the perimeter wall.
A lonely soul walking in the rain at the fortress.
Our cruise ship awaits.
Looking out of a gun-port at the Akershus Fortress.
A courtyard area within the Akershus Fortress.
The royal coat of arms inside the Akershus Fortress.
A painting and a piece of furniture inside the Akershus Castle.
Detail of some clothing on display in the Akershus Castle.

The castle still houses the royal chapel. In the chapel, one can see the royal box or balcony. That is obviously where the royals sit when they attend services.  The seating toward the front were individual chairs.  Farther back were some traditional pews.

View of the Akershus Castle Church from the rear of the church.
Detail of the altar in the Akershus Castle church.
The Royal Crest on the altar in the Akershus Castle church.
The Royal seating area in the Akershus Castle church.
The organ at the rear of the Akershus Castle church.
Detail of the end of a pew in the Akershus Castle church.  The monogram denotes King Haakon VII, the great grandfather of the current monarch, King Harald V.
A bible on display in the Akershus Castle church.
Looking through the rolled-glass windows from the Akershus Castle church toward the cruise ship.

The royal mausoleum, as one might imagine, is directly below the chapel. Our visit to the crypt reminded me of our trip to El Escorial in Spain.

Detail of the gate to the Royal Mausoleum crypt of King Haakon VII and Queen Maud as well as King Olav V and Crown Princess Märtha.
The white sarcophagus contains the remains of King Haakon VII and Queen Maud. The years of death were 1957 and 1938. The green sarcophagus contains the remains of King Olav V and Crown Princess Märtha. The years of death were 1991 and 1954 respectively.

One of the oddest things I saw were two small pieces of stained glass in the Hall of Olav V. Most of the scenes were religious; however, two stood out. They each looked like characters from the Ghostbusters movie. That was a little strange for something dating from 1300.

Ghostbusters stained glass.
Ghostbusters stained glass II.
A more traditional stained glass.
The entire stained glass rosette.
The upper hall in Akershus Castle.
The opposite end of the upper hall in Akershus Castle. This puts the stained glass rosette in perspective.
A room in the Akershus Castle.
A suit of armor on display in the Akershus Castle.
Additional tapestries in the Akershus Castle.
A tapestry in the Akershus Castle.
A sword on the wall in the Akershus Castle.
Several flags on display in the Akershus Castle.
Detail of a royal flag in the Akershus Castle.
Detail of a royal flag in Akershus Castle.
One of the larger reception rooms in Akershus Castle.
A room in Akershus Castle with period furniture.
Another room and fireplace in Akershus Castle.
Detail of a tapestry in the castle.
Louise (1724-1751) of Great Britain, Queen Consort of Denmark and Norway. Married to King Frederick V of Denmark.
Seating for 70 in this dining room in Akershus Castle.
Coat of arms of King Frederick IV of Denmark and Norway (1699 to 1730).
Tapestry detail in Akershus Castle.
A fireplace in Akershus Castle.
The bow of the Regal Princess.
A little bit of civilization by the fjord.
“Illegal Immigration Started with Columbus.” I shall notify the Consul General…
Detail of the handles on the canons near the Akershus Fortress.
The canon seems to be holding the cruise ship at bay.
A boat heading to the dock.
A view of the port of Oslo. Near the top of the hill, one can see the Olympic ski jump installation.
Boats and ships everywhere.
Flowers for my bride to begin our cruise.
A cloudy, rainy day.
A motor yacht going by the cruise ship.
A ferry departing the port of Oslo.
A seagull checking out the photographer.

When we left the castle, we boarded the ship to prepare for dinner.

3000 Year Old City

3000 Year Old City

Cádiz, Spain – December 24, 2011

Today we drove to Cádiz. It is known as the oldest city in Europe. We had wanted to take the ferry from Rota; however, because of it being Christmas Eve, the schedule did not allow us enough time to tour Cádiz. When we walked along the waterfront in Rota, Spain yesterday, we noticed we could see the city of Cádiz. We did not notice that the last time we were here.

Very uncharacteristically, we did not wake up today until about 08:00. After getting ourselves ready, we piled into the car at about 10:30. It was very foggy when we arrived at Cádiz at about 11:20. We parked in an underground parking garage. It was right by the cruise ship dock.

A cruise ship docked in the fog at Cádiz. 

Emerging from the garage, we crossed the street and entered the tourist information office. We picked up a brochure for walking tours that was absolutely idiot proof! A different color indicated each tour. The walking tour we chose was green. All we had to do was follow the green line painted on the ground!

The first site we came to was the Plaza de San Juan de Dios (St. John of God). City Hall is the most prominent building overlooking the Plaza. We had some coffee in our room, but nothing to eat. So, our first order of business was to find a café. We ended up at Restaurante el Sardinero (The Sardine Restaurant). We each had a coffee and a pastry. That ended up costing us 20.40€ (US$25) – OUCH! That was nothing like our little bar last night in Rota! I imagine there were two main reasons for the higher price. First, the café was right on the Plaza, near the cruise ship dock. Second, it is one of the first ones after people get off the cruise ships.

Men walking along Calle Marques de Cádiz.
Tourists trying to find their bearings. Note the green painted path on the ground.
The Cádiz City Hall at the Plaza de San Juan de Dios.
The flags flying at the city hall.
Three travelers and a poinsettia display.
People walking on Calle Pelota.

After our coffee, we continued along our green path. We saw the El Pópulo Arch and the Rosa Arch. The Rosa Arch led us into the Plaza in front of the New Cathedral. We bought tickets for our entry into the cathedral for 16€ (US$19.50), much better than the coffee! As we entered the cathedral, we heard deafening music. More on that later.

El Pópulo Arch.
The sign for La Gata Lupe.
Detail of the sign for La Gata Lupe.
Approaching the cathedral in the distance via the Rosa Arch.
The opposite side of the Rosa Arch.
The Church of St. Luke the Apostle at the Cathedral Plaza. The church dates from the 17th-century.
A panoramic view of the Cádiz Cathedral.

The cathedral was fascinating to tour. For example, in one of the side chapels, there was a huge, silver monstrance, used during the Holy Week parades. It requires 12 men to carry it. I am sure that translates to more than one-half ton of weight.

Shortly after the monstrance, we noticed a staircase going beneath the presbytery. The gate was open and accompanied by several signs, so we went down the stairs. We found ourselves standing in the circular crypt. Interred in the vaults are several bishops, the earliest dating from the mid-1700s. Also, the crypt contains some relics of Santa Victoria. Near the buried remains of Santa Victoria is a letter. The letter, dated August 24, 1816, explains the Church of Rome donated the sacred relics to Cádiz. The painted wood box, wrapped in silk contains a vial of her holy blood and some period clothing. The letter authorizes public exhibition to the faithful according to the norms of the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites of August 11, 1691.

The large hymn book at the choir, opened to the Magnificat.

Panoramic view of the main aisle and altar.
The altar and the ciborium in the cathedral.
Detail of the altar and ciborium.
A decorative angel holding a thurible.
A man in contemplation near the altar and ciborium.
The entry to the crypt of the cathedral.
A portion of the circular crypt.
This statue is on an altar near the remains of St. Victoria.
A cross in the crypt.
Detail of the cross.
A private crypt chapel.
Tombs on the floor in the private chapel.
The decree for St. Victoria.
A statue of Mary under the ciborium in the cathedral.
The detail in the Chapel of St. Joseph. The painting is of Jesus and St. Joseph. The statue is Mary of course.
The monstrance used during Holy Week.
Detail of the base of the monstrance.
One of the side chapels in the cathedral.
A different entry to the crypt.
Detail of the Chapel of St. Thomas of Villanueva in the cathedral.
A holy water font.

Departing the crypt, Hillary and Tyler went outside to see what was going on in front of the cathedral.  Leslie and I continued walking through the cathedral.  When we emerged from the cathedral, we saw a large group of female dancers and a couple of male dancers.  They performed several dance numbers choreographed to popular songs.  We stood there and watched them for several minutes.

The performance on the steps of the cathedral.
The performance on the steps of the cathedral II.
The performance on the steps of the cathedral III.
The performance on the steps of the cathedral IV.

We left the Cathedral Plaza and walked toward the Church of Santa Cruz (Holy Cross), built between the 13th and 16th centuries. Continuing south, we arrived at the seawall. From there, we walked by the ruins of the Roman theater. The site was closed, so there was not much to see.

The Church of Santa Cruz (Holy Cross).
A memorial on the side of the church.
Detail of the memorial.
A cross on a dome at Plaza Fray Félix.
Detail of a streetlight base in the Plaza Fray Félix.
A cat on a terrace.
A man walking along the seawall in the fog.
A dome of the Santa Cruz Church covered with birds.
A cat entering the remains of a Roman theater.
The wall to the Roman theater in the foreground. The twin spires of the cathedral in the background.
The Arco Blanco or White Arch.
A sign for an artisan gallery near an ancient wall.
A panoramic view of the wall.

Returning to the old town section of Cádiz, we ended up on Calle Pelota. That is a busy street with many shops. Hungry, we ultimately selected Bodegon Riojano (Rioja Still Life) for lunch. We sat in the back of the restaurant. I thought the music we heard playing was Flamenco. I asked our server, Jose Luis. He said I was right; it was Flamenco de Navidad.

I asked Jose Luis about the cold, foggy weather. He said it was very unusual for this time of year. I asked him for a business card. He gave us a card and four wallet-sized calendars. After he took our order, he brought us some olives and pickled, pearl onions as a tapa. For a starter, we decided on grilled prawns. Grilled with the shells on, and sprinkled with sea salt, they were delicious! For the main course, the girls ordered beef, two different types of steak. The boys shared a paella. Now, paella has not been my favorite meal in Spain; however, I could eat this particular paella every day! It had shrimp, clams, some fish, and chicken. To go with this, Leslie and I had vino tinto; Chiton Crianza 2007 Rioja. It was good, but then we have never really found a red wine we did not like! Our lunch came to a total of 86.60€ (US$106).

Gambas de la plancha (grilled prawns).

The serving of paella.
Ready for lunch!
Our server, Jose Luis.
The banner on the right reads, God is with us. The sign advertises a 25% discount on sunglasses during the Christmas season.
Sometimes…

From the restaurant, we walked to the store, Bengala. It is one of the stores along the side of Cathedral Plaza. We bought several souvenirs.

Leaving the store, we walked back through the Plaza de San Juan de Dios. When we got there and looked to the port, we saw another huge cruise ship. We thought about going to the car and driving back to the lodge at Rota. Instead, we decided to take a taxi to Santa Catalina Castle. If I understood the taxi driver correctly, he said the Battle of Trafalgar took place there. A bit of research confirmed Cádiz played a role in the Battle of Trafalgar; however, it seems no battle occurred at Cádiz.

The Christmas tree in the Plaza of San Juan de Dios.
The view from under the Christmas tree.
Another cruise ship docked while we walked around the city.

Walking through the castle, we saw numerous art shows on exhibit. Work on the Castillo de Santa Catalina began in 1597. The castle hosted a military presence and a prison. The Spanish Ministry of Defense used the castle up until 1991.

The entry to Castillo de Santa Catalina (St. Catherine’s Castle).
The chapel at Santa Catalina. It dates from 1693.
The interior of the chapel.
The entry to the gallery.
The waterfront as seen from Santa Catalina.
A panoramic view toward Castillo de San Sebastian.
One of the turrets.
The Atlantic Ocean as seen from Santa Catalina.
A Santa Catalina photo op. At least 33% of the group is worn out.
A seagull atop a turret.
Detail of the seagull.
Hillary getting ready to capture the moment.
Everyone has eyes on the seagull.
Leather artwork at Santa Catalina.
Leather artwork at Santa Catalina II.
Leather artwork at Santa Catalina III.
Leather artwork at Santa Catalina IV.
Detail of the leather map.
Detail of the leather map II.
Delatex 2 by Francisco Galeote Gonzalez.
Muy Fragil II by Blanca del Rio Oriol.
A painting of ceramics.
Another painting of ceramics.
Garden sculpture and a visitor.
Old urns on display.
A Phonecian capital, possibly from Castillo de San Sebastian.

We left the castle and walked to the taxi stand. At the taxi stand was an enormous tree. Actually, there were two trees. We asked the driver what kind of trees they were. He said they were ficus trees. He also said they were about 100 years old.

A sculpture near Santa Catalina.
Detail of the sculpture.
Seagulls on the seawall.
View toward the city from Santa Catalina.
The 100-year old ficus tree. Note the columns helping to support one of the branches.
A panorama of the base of the tree.

 

One thing that surprised us in Cadiz was the number of German tourists we ran into while we walked around the city. Maybe they were all off the cruise ships we saw in the port. They were kind; we were just surprised by the numbers.

The taxi took us back to our parking garage. Many of the garages in Spain have lighting above the parking spaces. If a parking space is occupied, the light is red. If it is available, the light is green. That makes it very easy to find a place to park. From the garage, which cost 9.90€ (US$12), we drove back to the lodge at Rota. We arrived at about 18:00. Leslie went to the NEX (Navy Exchange) to play Santa for us tomorrow! We shall see!

A parking garage with indicator lights.