Monday, May 31, 2010

Weekend's over...

So,
after sleeping in (after getting up early to take the dogs for a walk), I left just after lunch and ran some errands before going back to the same beach I went to yesterday. It was pretty crowded again, but I must have still be tired as I found myself dozing off and on. I stayed less than 2 hours (don't want any serious sunburn).

Today, in addition to being Memorial Day is my youngest daughter's 27th birthday. So I made sure I called her to wish her a happy birthday. I sent her birthday card earlier this past week, she got it Friday or Saturday.

Other than that, I'm watching "The Bachelorette" tonight and getting psyched up for work tomorrow. At least it will be a short week.

Signing off...

Aloha!
- Kris

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Sun time

I made to the beach today (Hickam beach). I took my Sony camera (the spare one I took on my trip but didn't use). I'm not impressed with the camera... the coloring is weird (like this one being all blue) and I even set it on the beach and sun setting (after the 1st picture), no change.

Haven't done much else today... cleaned up the kitchen, did some laundry, played with the pups... watched the "Daytona 500" (I went to one back in 1976, what is that? 35 years ago? Wow.

I was going to watch "The Bachelorette" tonight, but it is just a repeat from earlier this week. So, I'm watching "The Divinci Code" instead. I've seen it before too... but it has been awhile.

Okay... not much else to write about. I'm just so VERY thankful that tomorrow is still another day off from work, I'm not ready to go back just quite yet.

Aloha!
- Kris

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lazy Saturday

Wouldn't you like to be floating in this infinity pool? (It's in Santorini, Greece)
So... after a relaxing, sleepy morning, I went and got my nails done, picked up some pictures (some of the Santorini ones that I had printed in 5X7 size so I could put them on my desk at work). Then I had my PT and stopped by the bank to open a new bank account. I haven't been happy with my current bank for a couple years and there was some problems with my bank while I was on my trip, so I've decided to change finally. It'll probably take a couple months to get everything switched over (I have to change my automatic deposit and then the automatic withdrawals I have coming out).

Other than that... and taking the dogs for a couple walks, I haven't done much. I have been watching LOST and Jimmy Kimmel's "Aloha to LOST" show. It's been a lazy day. I'm hoping tomorrow there will be good weather so I can go hang out at the beach for awhile.

Aloha!
- Kris

Friday, May 28, 2010

TGIF


Up close of a horse (of course) in Santorini


So, today was blessedly quiet at work. It helped me to start preparing for the onslaught of new cases I will get next week. I only had one appt today, but it was a crisis management appointment. I wish I could help people focus more on the GOOD in their life and help them see how it really DOES outweigh the negative. I had a client who was very angry at the 1% in their life and so blinded by it, that they were having difficulty seeing the 99% that was going good for them and the 99% of people in their life that would be affected if they were to end their own life. I have to say though... it did remind me of the days in my life when I felt similarly and I am so thankful I made it through that tough time in MY life, because had I not, I would have missed out on a LOT!
Speaking of which, we had a doctor in one of the clinics where I used to work, pass away in her sleep last week. She hadn't been feeling well and apparently she had some lab values that were off, but went to sleep one night and didn't wake up the next morning. She left behind a husband she adored and a 5 year old behind. She was only 35. Needless to say, her death has really affected the therapeutic community greatly. Its times like these that make you realize that we are NOT guaranteed tomorrow and that we need to appreciate each day that we are given.
Okay... I'm going to sign off. I've already taken the dogs for their walk. No real plans for the weekend, although I do want to get my nails done tomorrow and I have a Physical Therapy appointment for tomorrow. Hopefully I can find some sun and sand this weekend if the weather cooperates.
Aloha!
- Kris

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Full Moon!

Santorini...

So... what a day! (can I go back to Santorini?). This morning wasn't too bad, but it sure got busy this afternoon! I had three new clients come in today (although two may not stay with us due to the reasons they are with us) and then I had two case staffings including clients this afternoon as well. After one of the staffings, I needed to meet with my clients who was severely depressed. I got him calmed down, but I still worry about him. Two of my co-workers also had clients today that were feeling suicidal. Like I said... full moon. One of the clients got hospitalized. Please pray for our clients, life seems to be hard for a lot of people right now. I wish I could infuse them with hope, I wish I had a magic wand to make everything okay for them.

I *am* starting the process to get my resume online for a position overseas in Europe. It can take at least 6 months once you are even accepted for a position, from what I understand. I want/need to be here for Spring Break next year so I can take my youngest daughter & youngest granddaughter on a cruise out of California. But... I'd be ready to head out shortly after that.

Speaking of cruising... wanna take some time off in October for a cruise? There's one out of San Deigo that sails through the Panama Canal on a 17 day cruise, it ends in Baltimore (and it is on the Celebrity Mercury). It's only $999! (for an inside cabin). That ends up being about $59 a night. Heck of a deal for a cruise (and air fare from HI going to SD and return from BWI) is less than $750. This cruise goes to Mexico, Costa Rica, Columbia and the Bahamas. WOW! Hmmm... I'll have to keep this in consideration!

Time to sign off and take the dogs for a walk. I'm looking forward to my 3 day weekend, although I don't have any concrete plans.

Aloha!
- Kris

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Long Day

Hey...
Just a quick post. I woke up at 4am and got up about 4:30, so I'm beat. I had a very busy day and everyone was really glad to see me back.

Tonight I've been watching "American Idol" and trying not to doze. I'm going to take the dogs before I go to bed.

Aloha!
- Kris

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Last Day off..

Isn't this a beautiful picture? I took it in Santorini...

So... I stayed up until 3am this morning messing with my photos and then I uploaded about 130 of them to Walmart online so that I could pick them up today. I got up about 8am, because the dogs wanted to go for a walk and I had Physical Therapy at 10am. After PT I went and picked up my photos and a new photo album, then came home and put all the pictures in the album. I wanted to be able to take the photos into work tomorrow.

This afternoon I laid down and took a nap most of the afternoon (and part of the evening). Hopefully I will be able to sleep tonight!

I'm going to cut this short. I just watched "The Biggest Loser" and now its time to take the dogs for walk before going to bed. Hard to believe I'll be back at work tomorrow.

Aloha!
- Kris

Monday, May 24, 2010

Safely home!

The train station in the city of Frankfurt, Germany
We flew over the ice fields of Iceland (I think)... not directly over the "pole" but sure way up north!

I made it home safe and in one piece! *smiles* We had a 4:15 wake up call yesterday morning in Venice (poor Michelle had an extra couple hours at the airport to wait). My flight went out at 7:20am and it took a couple hours to get to Frankfurt (I slept most of the way). I had window seats all the way back to Hawaii (yea!). I *was* able to get out of the airport and take the train into Frankfurt. It was a little more confusing than I thought, but I finally asked someone and got on the right train. Probably Sunday mornings aren't a good time to go exploring in town. I had my (heavy) backpack with me (I couldn''t figure out where the luggage storage was). I walked around in about an 8 block area for about an hour & a half and got back to the airport about 2 1/2 hours before my flight was to leave. I wanted to have some Currywurst and Pommesfritz, but didn't find any until I got back to the airport, but by then I was worried about having enough time to get through security and customs, so I skipped it. I did pick up some small souvenirs though (at the airport).

The Frankfurt airport boarding situation was weird. We went out like we were going down the gangway to the plane, but instead went downstairs to the ground level and then took a bus out to our plane on the Tarmac. Then we had to climb the steps up to our plane. And they don't board by rows, so it is mass confusion getting on. The other thing about the European airports is that they don't make you take off your shoes (which was nice). I took an Ambien and slept off and on during the flight to San Francisco. In SFO I had a 3 hour layover which was just about the right amount of time. I had to get my luggage and re-check it in (and go through customs and everything).

The flight to Honolulu was uneventful, but the girl sitting next to me in the middle seat was sick (she kept the blanket wrapped around her face, trying to minimize the spread of germs, I guess.

A friend picked me up at the airport and it was nice to come home and see my dogs. (the same friend was watching them for me). They gave me a LOT of lickins! *smiles* It was also nice to be back in my own bed.

Today I spent most of the day unpacking and organizing the souvenirs that I bought for gifts. I was hoping to make it to the airport this afternoon and get my daughters' and granddaughters' gifts off, but in my effort to only make 1 trip to the post office, I also spent all afternoon uploading all my photos onto TEN DVD's to send to my middle daughter. So... I got to the airport about 5 minutes after it closed. Guess I'll be going back to the airport tomorrow. I am So glad I am taking 2 days off before returning to work on Wednesday.

Tonight I've been resting and watching "The Bachelor." I am about ready to take the dogs for their bedtime walk and then head to bed. So... I'll sign off.
Aloha!
- Kris

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Venice (again)


We made it to Venice just fine. We arrived about 6am and were off the ship around 8:15am. We were able to catch a taxi right away and dropped our luggage off at the hotel by about 8:30. At 8:42 we purchased our Vaporetto pass and were on the bus back to Venice within about 5 minutes after that. Once in Venice we hopped on the #1 Vaporetto boat and listened to the "Rick Steves Audio Guide" to the Grand Canal (Michelle listening on one ear bud and me listening on the other). It was a great guide (I'd highly recommend Rick Steves stuff!).
We got to San Marco square (oh, and did I mention that today was an absolutely fabulous weather day? It was just BEAUTIFUL!). We spent the next 8 hours or so wandering around Venice, exploring all the back little roads and such, stopping in at the various shops. (I didn't buy too much, a tee shirt, a tote, and a pair of earrings). We stopped for some italian cookies, and later stopped and ate pizza at a small restaurant right on the Grand Canal (it was delicious). Later in the afternoon we got our final Gelatto (Italian Ice Cream). We got back to our hotel about 6:30pm or so, checked our email and then went and found a small Italian restaurant that was recommended by the hotel attendant. Oh, and our hotel room is fantastic, we are both VERY pleased and would HIGHLY recommend it. It is called the Ambasciatori Hotel. Great location (near Mestra and just a couple blocks from where we were before, but MUCH better).
For dinner I had some home-made Ravioli, while Michelle had a somewhat spicy thick speghetti dish that she said was delicious. It was great food and we each had a glass of wine to go with it.

Now it's time to head to bed. It's 9:35pm and our wake up call is for 4:15am. My flight leaves for Frankfurt at 7:20am and I need to be at the hotel 2 hours early. UGH! I'll definitely sleep on the fight from Frankfurt to San Francisco (but that comes after a 5 1/2 hour layover in Frankfurt.
Okay... Bueno Nottes!
- Kris

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sea Day #2

I got up about 8:30 and joined Michelle in the Dining room for breakfast. It’s the first time in 3 cruises that I have sat down for breakfast in the Dining Room, usually I do the buffet breakfast. It was nice and we met two couples that were originally from Billings, Montana. Judy is an artist and does some fantastic pen & ink drawings along with water colors of the Montana area. She gave both Michelle & I a print she had done. After breakfast Michelle went to learn how to fold table napkins and towels into fancy shapes, while I finally used my Bingo cards (to no avail) and made a necklace & earring set, and finished the earrings that went with the necklace & bracelet I had made earlier in the week in the Jewelry making classes. I went to look for a lounge chair before lunch, but it was WAY too crowded, so no luck. After lunch I had a little better luck and was able to sit in the Jacuzzi awhile and lounge by the pool. Later this afternoon I’ve had to start packing. I’m not done yet, but the suitcases have to be outside the cabin by 11pm. Tonight was our last dinner, we sat at the table we started with on the first night. We got to say good-bye & exchange emails with many of our tablemates that we have had over the course of the week. Tonight, as I write this, we are preparing for the last evening show entertainment, which should be good. Then I need to finish packing.

Tomorrow morning we have to be up early for breakfast and will need to be off the ship by 8:30am. We’ll need to take a taxi to our hotel and hopefully they will allow us to leave our luggage there until we can check in later. We plan to get a 12 hour Vaporetto pass and go explore Venice some more. (We will be staying in Mestre again). We don’t plan to stay out too late, because we have to be at the airport by shortly after 5am on Sunday, ugh!
Time to sign off.

Aloha!

- Kris

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Corfu and not so ancient temple

Our ship alongside another (the Splendour of the Seas is in front)
A clock tower and street in town where we went shopping...

The "not so old" temple built at the "old" fort. I think the temple was built in 1951 or 1956

The beautiful necklace I made in the Jewelry making class today...

Today was nice, I slept in until about 9 am after staying up until about midnight last night enjoying the ship activities (the last of which was watching karaoke, and no… I did NOT participate! *smiles*). After checking my email this morning and having breakfast, I headed down to the centrum to learn a little about Corfu and then went all the way up to the top, to the Viking Lounge to participate in a jewelry making class. Today we made the necklace that went with our bracelets we made on our first sea day. I had met a really nice couple from California, so the woman joined me in the jewelry making class. I am horrible with names, but then we ran into them several times today, when we boarded the shuttle bus to town and then later we saw them just before dinner.

Once the jewelry class was over, it was time for lunch. I just had a salad, I wasn’t really hungry, but wanted to eat before going into town.

We docked at 1pm. Michelle & I had decided to wait a little while before getting off the ship. The clouds looked pretty ominous. As it turned out… those who got off the ship right away ended up in a thunder, lightning and hail storm. So, out of four ports, we’ve had torrential rain in three of the ports… isn’t there a discount? Michelle & I decided to take a short nap (seems appropriate to take a nap after lunch, eh?). We woke up about 2:30 and looked our out window and it was still raining. We decided that if we wanted to see the town, we were just going to have to get wet. We did take our umbrellas though, and I had my bright yellow rain jacket (from Mackinac Island). It was blowing rain when we went out to board first, the shuttle bus to the port entry, and then the shuttle bus into town (I had paid for that last night, it was $5 each way per person). We got off the bus and decided to go into the old fort (with a new temple, what’s up with that?). We wandered around there, but didn’t go all the way up to the lighthouse. It was pretty wet and there were a LOT of puddles. BUT, miraculously it stopped raining! Whew! After wandering around in the old temple for awhile we headed into the shopping district. We stopped for some ice cream (at Hagan Daaz of all places), mainly because we saw a couple from the ship that I had met about my first day on port (I did the trivia quiz game with them, they are from Ireland and have a son that lives on Oahu). I’ve met so many people on board, that when they see Michelle & I together, they say “Oh, YOU’RE Michelle.” And of course, they already know a lot about her. *smiles* She even met one of the cruise critic people that I’ve not met. But they found out she was from Arizona, and I don’t know if she said something about traveling with her mom, and she (Rose) asked her if she was Michelle. LOL! I’ve still not met Rose; I hear she’s got a 3 year old that has been keeping her pretty busy.

Anyway, after wandering around the town for awhile (and I bought a beautiful reversible Greek ring), we made it back to catch the shuttle bus about 6:30pm. (the last shuttle bus left at 7pm to go back to the ship). We changed and headed down to dinner. There was one couple from Texas that we’ve eaten with before, at our table, along with a couple British women that are traveling together (They said there are about 8 of them that do a lot of traveling together, leaving their husbands and children at home). We had another couple Americans at our table that we sat with on our first night, Bea and her granddaughter Jasmine. There were two sisters traveling together, Chris and Ruth from New Jersey that we hadn’t met before. Ruth said she used to travel with her daughter, (ironically named Michelle), but her daughter passed away a couple years ago. She became sick and died within 2 weeks (wow!) and they found out afterwards that her body was riddled with cancer. They said it was fortunate that she didn’t have to suffer long.

Now it’s almost 10:30 (we didn’t leave the dinner table til 9:30). I’ve been uploading my pictures and writing this blog. As soon as I finish though and get it uploaded, I’m going to head back down and go to bed. Tomorrow is a sea day, and we also have to pack. We will need to have our suitcases outside our doors tomorrow night in preparation for docking back in Venice on Saturday. Tomorrow I plan to play some Bingo (I had bought the cards the first day on board, but because not enough people had purchased cards, they didn’t use them for the Jackpot bingo and I’ve not played Bingo since. So, I still have a couple cards to play… it’s the British version too… which is different). I also plan to take the jewelry making class tomorrow (or at least I will see what they are making tomorrow).

So… Aloha for another night/day.

- Kris

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Santorini

Santorini, folks... JUST BEAUTIFUL!
I would LOVE to stay here... and swim in this "infinity" pool. This place was next to the French Consulate. Maybe in my next life? LOL!

What a beautiful place to enjoy lunch!

Along the path back to Fira

Going back down 600+ stairs... (I'll post pictures with the donkeys on these steps later when I return, unless you have access to my facebook, I've posted a LOT more pictures there).

We arrived in port of Santorini about 7am. Michelle & I had breakfast up in the Windjammer Café and then left the ship until about 9:45am. Today’s port was “tendered”, meaning we had to be ferried to the port by a smaller boat. The wait wasn’t too long, probably because we didn’t “rush” off the boat. I wanted to take a donkey ride up to Fira, but Michelle wasn’t too keen on the idea so we waited about 45 minutes and took the cable car up the mountain to the top (Fira is about 890 feet above sea level). You can also walk up on the path that they take the donkeys, they say there are more than 600 stairs, but then the stairs are about 3’ in length. Once we got up to the top, Michelle suggested that we walk along the ridgeline area, there is a nice pathway, about the width of one and a half car lanes most of the time, at the narrowest, it was probably about 4 feet wide. It was safe, as there were Greek hotels and housing along both sides for the most part. We walked from the town of Fira, which is the biggest city on the island up to the town of Imerovig, it was probably about a mile and a half that we walked. We took our time and took some GREAT photos along the way. We were blessed with good weather today. We had lunch at a small café named Galini, they apparently also rent rooms there. We sat at a corner table overlooking the caldera and the island of Nea Kameni. We both had Greek sandwiches; mine was smoked salmon with a cream cheese spread, some lettuce & cucumber. It was delicious (and lunch was also expensive, but you pay for the ambience). During lunch we worried that we would get hit with a rain shower, but we were spared. It was a little chilly so I had to put on my windbreaker after a bit. After lunch we continued our way back down to Fira. I wanted to go on down via the stairs, but Michelle decided (and rightfully so) that I would want to browse in too many of the shops, so she insisted on taking the cable car back down. So… yes, I did meander and browse through the stores. I wanted to find something for my oldest granddaughter, I had gotten something for my youngest granddaughter in Florence, but my oldest granddaughter is about ready to become a teen, so she’s a little harder to buy for. I *did* find something that I think she will enjoy In my meandering, I came across the Orthodox Cathedral (which is dedicated to Ipapanti (the Coming or Presentation of Christ in the temple). The cathedral is locally known as “our Lady Beloni’a. I just took one picture inside of the dome, it was beautiful and then I took a couple pictures outside. Then I walked down the stairs (once I found them). It probably took me about a half hour to 45 minutes to walk down the stairs, they zig-zag down the hillside. Up near the top and near the bottom, you have to maneuver around the donkeys who take up most of the pathway area. (This pathway area is probably about 8’ across).


I got back down to the dock about 3:30 or so and then had to wait awhile for the tender boat. On the way back to the ship, I rode in the very back, it was quite a lovely ride.


After resting in my cabin for a bit and sorting through some souvenirs, I took my shower and got ready for another formal night. Tonight we sat with the couple from Sweden (that we’ve sat with before), we sat with a couple women from Australia, one couple from Ireland (Did I say I love the Irish folks we have on board????, I *really* have enjoyed them all! ), and we had one couple on board from near Bath, England (at least that is one place I can say I *have* been). After dinner they had Greek performers and music in the centrum (in the middle of the ship), it’s now almost 10pm again and tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow we don’t dock in Corfu until 1pm, but we get to stay until 8pm. Sounds like dinner tomorrow will be in Corfu, Greece!


Time to sign off so I can get this posted tonight and head to bed. I’m looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow!


Aloha!


- Kris

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Heavenly Turkish bath!

This [soaked] cat definitely portrays how we felt today. (Poor kitty... poor us). This was at Ephesus.
Touring Ephesus in the rain..

Inside the temple..

The steps to the temple with the original columns.

The Grand Theater...

Sitting on the steps to the entry of the Grand Theater at Miletus.

We made it to Kasudasi today. It was a beautiful harbor town in Turkey. We had an early morning boarding time for our “Best of Antiquity” tour, meeting at 8am in the 42nd Street theater (on board). We boarded our tour bus shortly thereafter and headed to Ephesus. We had about 5 minutes before we entered the archeological site to use the restroom, or buy a souvenir if we so desired. At that point the sky was a little cloudy… not too bad. As SOON as we entered into the archeological area, it started to rain, and continued to rain the whole time we were in the area! And of course, we didn’t bring an umbrella. At least I brought a rain jacket, Michelle didn’t even have that! We tried to keep dry by standing under an olive tree… THAT didn’t work. We darted from one archway to another, not really able to appreciate what we were seeing. Then there was thundering and lightening for about 30 minutes which was accompanied by hail. I took a picture of Michelle with pea size hail in her hair! It was unbelievable and reminiscent of our climb/walk around the wall in Dubrovnik. The tour guide said that it does not rain for 300 days a year. I guess we found one of the 64 to be in Kusadasi/Ephesus!


Our tour guide took a poll and we ALL agreed to return to the ship to change clothing. The guide allowed us a ½ hour to get changed and meet back at the bus. I think all but 5 returned. It sure was nice to do the rest of the tour in dry clothing (although my seat was soaked from earlier, so the seat of my pants were continuously wet. After that we were fortunate in that when we continued our journey to our other destinations, it didn’t rain. We drove past Magnesia (where magnets originated), but didn’t really stop. The bus driver pulled over long enough for us to take pictures. We then stopped for a typical Turkish lunch about 1:30 (probably running a half hour late by this point). It was a buffet, I had different kinds of beans, some salads, some sausage type stew over rice, and we had some local, fresh fish. For desert I had cherries, strawberries and some baklava. The restaurant overlooked our next historical sight, I believe the guide said it was the “Temple of Artimus” which was wonderfully intact with a couple of the original columns still standing and we were able to walk into the temple area. Pictures WILL follow once I am done with the trip. I’ve been trying to keep a daily journal with more detail that I hope to put pictures into the appropriate places.


After we left the temple, we drove about an hour to Miletus to see another archeological site, this one was the “Grand Theater.” It was similar in nature to the Coliseum in Rome, but did not have a sub-floor and was circular in nature which allowed for better sound. We climbed some stairs and went out one end of the “theater” and were treated to an greater overview of the archeological site. We didn’t have time to go through it all, but our guide did explain what each of the buildings were. They still have a lot to excavate there.


We got back to the dock about 5pm, and had to be on board by 5:30pm. I still hadn’t had any time to shop and wanted to find a “Turkish” towel. Fortunately I found one between where we were let off the tour bus and the dock. We did have the option of going to a carpet manufacturing place (I heard the carpets are very expensive, especially the silk ones, but they last forever. Supposedly they found one in another country in ice and they dated it to be 2500 years old!). I chose not to do the carpet stop, because I wanted to find my towel. In addition to my towel, I bought a tablecloth (nothing TOO fancy) and I found a “Turkey” Starbucks mug for my co-worker. Michelle had gone ahead of me to the ship and I boarded about 5:25pm. We were to be on board by 5:30 (at least I wasn’t the LAST one to get on!).

Tonight we had dinner at 7pm, we sat with a younger (than me!) couple from just outside of London, England; a couple from Dublin, Ireland; and a couple from Melbourne, Australia (they’re on a 3 month European vacation! How cool is that?). I have enjoyed all of my Irish ship-mates that I have met, the most, although I have also enjoyed the two couples we’ve met from Wales.

Time to sign off so I can post this blog. I don’t think I will stay up too late tonight, we dock in Santorini at 7am in the morning. We plan to take the cable car up to the top of the hill and then walk from one town to another (if Michelle were sitting by me, I could tell you which two towns we plan to walk between). Apparently there is a nice road or path that runs along the cliffs between the two towns and it supposed to take about a half an hour. I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow night.

Aloha!

- Kris

Monday, May 17, 2010

First Sea Day

We had a beautiful sunset tonight!
The bracelet I made in the Jewelry making class, everyone had the same set of beads to make a bracelet today.


I love sea days, they are all about relaxing! This morning I slept in until about 8:30am and then went up to have breakfast. After breakfast, I was still tired, so I returned to my room and took a nice nap for most of the morning. After lunch I headed up to the Viking Lounge at 1:30pm to participate in a free jewelry making class. I made a lovely bracelet and look forward to another class so I can make the earrings and or necklace to match my bracelet. After the jewelry making class, I watched as men paraded their stuff at a pool side party to see which man had the best leg. The Viking lounge overlooks the pool area, so I had a great vantage point. Those kinds of “competitions” are always humorous! I think it was a guy about 70 that won. He even beat out a Chippendale type dancing guy! LOL! I also got to meet one of our cruise critic members, Bob, and then I got to meet his wife, daughter & son-in-law. They are going on the longest Ephesus tour tomorrow, so we may see them there. We actually got some sunshine this afternoon, so I changed and headed down to the solarium pool and Jacuzzi until it was time to go get dressed for dinner.



Tonight was “formal” night, so most everyone was in their finest attire. Not as many Tuxes’s as I’ve seen on my other cruises, but most everyone looked pretty spectacular. We also had our “Captain’s welcome” tonight before dinner. We did a “meet and greet” with the Captain. He looks younger than he sounds and let us know that the pointed end of the boat is referred to as “Forward” and the rounded part is “aft.” *smiles* for dinner I had escargot, a shrimp cocktail and medallions of beef with mashed potatoes and asparagus. I wasn’t too hungry for desert, but had some sugar free vanilla and coconut cake that was delicious. Tonight we sat at a table with a couple from Sweden who spoke just a little English and a couple from Norway that spoke excellent English. The couple from Sweden has been retired for a number of years, and were on the cruise to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. The couple from Norway were wonderful. She is originally from Winnipeg, Canada, but then met her NATO pilot husband and moved to Norway, where she was teaching English as a second language until a few years ago. We finished dinner in enough time to go watch the sunset, it was beautiful (still a bit chilly/windy, but beautiful). Right now we are getting ready to go to the after dinner show. It is billed as “a spectacular, energetic and entertaining show with a difference” with a guy named “Gary Lovini.” And as a "post note" he was REALLY good, he played the violin and did everything from Dixieland to Classical and many nationality types of music.

So… I must sign off for tonight and will post again tomorrow when we return from our 8 ½ hour tour around the ancient sites of Turkey. We dock in Kusadasi. Since the 8th millennium BC, Turkey was home to the oldest human settlements on Earth. Today Kusadasi is supposed to be one of the most popular seaside resorts in Turkey. Kusadasi means ‘bird island” which comes from a small island known as “pigeon” island which is now connected to the city by a causeway.


Aloha for another day…


- Kris

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dubrovnik, Croatia

The church in Burano
Looking down a channel in Burano at the colorful buildings...

Part of the wall in Dubrovnik

Looking down from one section of the wall around the old city (looking seaside)

Just a lovely view from up on the wall. (notice the puddles?)

Part of the wall and steps we had been on.

We made it to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Unfortunately, when we arrived, the bus driver said the weather we were having today was typical of January. It was rainy and cold... probably around 60 degrees or so. Being the die-hard adventurer though... and dragging poor Michelle along, we climbed the wall around the old city. It was raining and before we got very far, we were caught in TORRENTIAL rain! We were absolutely drenched by the time we got halfway around, so we went back down the steps into the old city and looked around there for awhile.
Michelle gets frustrated with me, her version of travel enjoyment is to find a little cafe to sit and enjoy some coffee and do some people watching. Me, I like to browse and shop. I like to see as much as there is possible to see. So, Michelle decided to head back to the ship and I wandered a little more.
The sun has come out a little this afternoon, but at the moment it is overcast.

I came back to the ship about 2:30 or so and headed to the jacuzzi to warm up, that was nice! I went down to our cabin where Michelle was reading, and took a shower. Then we had this most awful smell, it smelled like turpentine or paint thinner. It was so bad we both had to leave the cabin. I did go to the purser's desk and complained. They said it was because they had been working on some carpeting and because the ship isn't moving, the air isn't circulating very much. I hope it is better this evening, otherwise we may have to see if they can move us.
As I write this, I am sitting up in the Viking Lounge looking over the bay where we are docked. We sail in about an hour and a half... I'd like to stay here and keep a good seat for the sail away.
Time to sign off... internet costs on board are expensive. (By the way Bette... the Burano pictures are for you! *smiles*)
Aloha!
- Kris

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Oye!

So...
I am at an Internet cafe down from our hotel in Venice (our hotel does NOT have internet service.... darn it!).

We arrived yesterday from Florence. Worst part of yesterday, was lugging my BIG, HEAVY suitcase up two stories of stairs (and I managed to hit my head on a metal handrail at the bottom of the stairs, which STILL hurts!). After dropping off our luggage in our rooms and being grumpy with each other, and taking a break for about an hour, we went and got a Vaparetto pass for 24 hours. We left about 7pm, took the bus over to Venice (we are actually staying in Mestre, on the mainland, no canals in front of OUR hotel *smiles*). We enjoyed a ride down the Grand Canal and found out we just missed seeing Johnny Depp as he was filming a scene at San Marco Square. I guess Angelina Jolie was there too. We walked around awhile (and I found the Hard Rock Cafe & picked up my tee shirt). We got back home to our hotel about 10pm. We had no problems with transportation at all. The bus stops about a 1/4 of a block from our hotel.

We slept in until about 8am, went down for our continental breakfast and then headed out. We took the bus to Venice, the Vaporetto to San Marco, then changed to the Vaparetto to Murano. We really enjoyed Murano! And I found some nice little souvenirs. Then we went on to Burano... and that is where we started getting frustrated for the day. We had to wait about an HOUR for the cattle car (I mean, Vaporetto) to Burano. And we had to STAND the whole way to Burano (about 40 more minutes). Our feet were KILLING us by the time we arrived! Michelle was ready to throttle me. (That is not HER kind of vacation!). We had a late lunch in Burano and I found a couple "lace" things for my coffee table and my little table in my office. I also bought a couple handkerchiefs.

Then it was back on the cattle car to San Marco... at least we got a seat after waiting another 45 minutes to get on. Once in San Marco we had to change boats once again... and I think there were two boats that did not show up, so once again, it was the cattle car experience, but we managed to scury and get a seat, at least! We made it back to our hotel about 7:45pm.

One nice thing about last night, was we met a wonderful, older couple, Malcom & Mary, who will be on our cruise. They are from Wales (near England). We ran into them in Murano today as well.

Okay... I need to sign off. Hopefully tomorrow I can get on in the evening, once we are on the ship and then post some pictures. It will be a relief to get on the ship. I am looking forward to resting a little.

Aloha!
Kris

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In Florence heading to Venice

Michelle & I on top of the Tower of Pisa! It was quite the climb up and the stairs were worn down, but SO worth it. I *did* it (I did NOT climb the St. Peter's Basilica, but glad I saved my energy for the tower).

Trying to shove the Tower of Pisa over...

The view from the Terrace of our hotel here in Florence (which does NOT have wi-fi!). So, no blog yesterday... sorry. That's the Duomo here in Florence... great views from the Terrace, makes it worth the cost!

We are in Florence. We left Rome yesterday morning and made it Pisa, climbed the tower and then headed here to Florence. We roamed around yesterday when we got here and today we went to the Acadamy to see the "real" statue of David (we saw the awesome close up imitation yesterday). We went to the Ponte Vecchio bridge last night too. It rained off and on. This afternoon we take the train to Venice.
Will blog again when I can.

Aloha!
- Kris

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

2nd Day in Roma

The River Tiber... and the "Angel" Bridge
At the Trevi fountain... something I really wanted to see and something Michelle really hated, because there were SO many people there, all jockeying for a position to throw a coin and get a photo op. Michelle was pretty tired and sore and frustrated with me at this point...

The Coliseum was really neat!




Michelle trying to kiss her favorite "ancient" - Plato.


Trying to look like I am taking a Roman bath... at the Vatican Museum


St Peters Basilisa


Well, we survived our second day... not without a LOT of walking though. We left our hotel by about 7:15 to head to Vatican City. We caught the local train there... then of course, turned the wrong way before asking directions and back-tracking a couple blocks. We got to the Museum just about the time it was opening. Then we went through the Museum a couple times... because we missed the part near the beginning that Michelle most wanted to see (the section with all the "ancients" like the bust of Plato).

After leaving the Museum, we headed the wrong direction in our attempt to find the Basilica, after walking about halfway around the outside wall, we gave up and hailed a taxi. It was SO worth it. By the time we got to the Basilica, the line was VERY long and we were pretty tired, so we settled for just getting close and decided to head on to our next stop (the Coliseum). SO... we did NOT climb St. Peters Basilica as I had hoped... but my feet were too tired... and sore... and I know I want to climb the Tower of Pisa tomorrow, so needed to save my energy.

We did not make it to the "Forum" either... (too much walking)... we DID get very frustrated with the Hop-on, hop off bus that we used, as they advertised every 20 minutes and we ended up waiting at the Coliseum for almost an hour! I do not think they EVER came at the 20 minute timeframe as advertised.

After the Coliseum, we hopped off as close as we could get to the Trevi fountain and still had to walk about a mile. From there we back tracked and went over to the Pantheon... and then I led us in the wrong direction and we did an extra mile or two for good measure! *smiles* I think I should have brought a Pedometer. We finally hopped on our bus for the last time and once again, got back to our hotel about 8:30pm. After a short break, we went out for a bite to eat (I got some Pizza) and now we are back at the hotel.

I may not be able to blog for several days because the "international" charger I brought, does not work here in Italy. GRRRR! So, my computer battery has run down and at this point, I do not have a way to charge it. I even bought another one locally, but cannot get the American plug to fit into it. Needless to say, I am a little upset about that.

SO... if I do NOT blog til Saturday, please forgive me. Time to sign off. We have an 8am train to catch to Pisa. We will need to get to the station early (fortunately) it is only a couple blocks away. Then we have to figure out which train we are supposed to be on to get to where we need to go.

Aloha!

Kris

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Capuchin Cemetery (it's indoors)... *MY* favorite part of the Catacombs and Crypts tour.


Just to keep it brief, both of our flights were slightly delayed as they flew the long route up near Greenland to escape the volanic ash cloud. Michelle arrived about 45 minutes before I did. No problems through customs.

We took a shuttle to our hotel, it was worth it. (we had planned to take the train). After checking in at the hotel and on Facebook, we hit the road. Long story short... we did a self-guide "lets get lost in Rome" tour (well... we wandered around a lot before getting to where we wanted to be... took WAY too long and MY feet were absolutely killing me!). We then met up for the Crypts and Catacombs tour which included St Clements church that Michelle wanted to go to and the Capuchin Cemetery that *I* wanted to see... with all the skulls!

We THEN (about 6pm) started the hop-on, hop-off bus tour, and were on that til about 8pm. We wandered back to our hotel, found a little Italian restaurant and each had a class of wine, Michelle had some gnoche for dinner and I had Lasagna (it was delicious!). We got back up to our room about 9:30pm, it's now after 10, Michelle's already had her shower and is sleeping as I update to Facebook and my blog. I'm exhausted, it's been a long day. Somewhat cloudy weather, but nice the first half. I hope it isn't raining tomorrow as predicted. We are supposed to be at the Vatican at 8am!


Time to sign off for today.


Aloha!

- Kris

Sunday, May 9, 2010

In Newark

Hey! I've made it to Newark, NJ, yea! Flying into the airport I got to see the Statue of Liberty (that tiny island upper center of the picture) and I got to see the Manhattan skyline as well, but didn't get my camera out fast enough. And it was a VERY bumpy ride in to the airport.

The flight across from Hawaii was good. I had a window seat, so I watched "Leap Year" on the little TV on the back of the screen and then slept until about an hour outside of Newark.

At this point my daughter Michelle has made it to Atlanta. She's scheduled to fly out almost 2 hours ahead of me. I did call Delta to check on her flight, they said it hasn't been cancelled, if it were going to get cancelled, it would have been cancelled by now.

Okay... I'm going to sign off... next post should be from Rome, whenever that might be.

Aloha!
(Ciao!)

- Kris

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I'm leaving... on a jet plane...


So... I am to be at the airport in about a half an hour. I *am* packed, I still need to change into the clothes that I will be flying in. My suitcase weighs about 45 pounds. My backpack... probably 30! I've got a spare change of clothes in it, along with everything else (even my jammies and a swimsuit!). I'm sure I'm over-packed... but what else is new?
I stayed up too late last night... and amazingly, lost my passport. I had used it to check in for my flight and then a couple hours later I went to look for it and could not find it. Fortunately, I had not gone anywhere and my apartment is small. I did find it this morning, it was in a drawer where I had stuck my checkbook (that I don't need while traveling). Go figure. I didn't panic too much, because other than the dogs getting ahold of it and shredding it (there was no evidence of that), then I knew it had to be here someplace!
Today I even got a nap in and I got my nails done. *smiles* I've been watching flight status and flight aware tracking the flights that are going today (the same ones my daughter and I will be on as we cross the ocean). Michelle's Delta is flying way up north, mine is going straight across. I don't understand her's going up north... she's flying out of Atlanta for that leg! And, her flight has been consistently running a couple hours late!
Keep us in your thoughts and prayers that the volcanic activity/clouds from the Iceland volcano don't interrupt our flights too much. Thankfully we are flying into Rome, but they are saying that by tomorrow, the ash cloud could be affecting northern Italy. Once I'm there... I have no worries... I can handle a delay of a couple days coming back. I just want to GET there!
I'll be calling my daughters from Newark, NJ so they can tell me Happy Mother's Day. *smiles* I've got great daughters... I wish I were taking all three of them with me! Whooohooo!
Okay... guess I'd better sign off... do some last minute checking, change and head out the door. A friend is here to take me to the airport.
Aloha!
- Kris

Friday, May 7, 2010

Less than 24 hours...


So... in less than 24 hours I get to fly out of here! YEA! Have I started packing? Nope. I've been messing with my computer trying to get things set up. What a time waster computers can be! LOL!
Work itself went fine... I got everything done I needed to do (well, everything that HAD to be done... I did forget one minor thing, but no worries on that).
I'm going to keep this short so I can go fold clothes (and finish washing clothes) so I can start packing.

Aloha!
- Kris

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Still not packed...

Mokapu'u Beach


So, yea... still not packed. Think I'm waiting til Saturday morning (well... maybe tomorrow night). I did get my camera memory cards emptied and camera batteries charged. Tonight in addition to watching TV, I'm also coloring my hair. Ipod, Ishuffle & Nano are all ready to go. Also got my bills paid tonight, so that's taken care of.
Work went okay today, had a glitch with a co-worker, but oh well... it'll work out. Tomorrow I have quite a bit yet to do, so I can ensure everything is wrapped up for me to take off on my vacation with a clean conscious. Oh yea and we thought we had a new co-worker starting that could walk right in and start working with us... they decided NOT to come over. Mainly because there are some job risks with my job that other positions don't have. The other person has a fairly easy position at this time, I don't blame them. No sense counting your chickens before they are hatched (we're supposedly going to get our positions upgraded... I'll believe it when I see it).
Okay, time to go rinse my hair and take the dogs out for a walk.

Aloha!
- Kris

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

two days 23 hours... and counting... and still not packed!

A photo of the rugged coastline of Oahu, taken this past weekend...

So, work was busy today, I saw 5-6 clients. I managed to stay on top of my notes and was able to leave at 4 to go over to the gym for an hour before coming home. Hard to believe I only have two more days of work before I leave. My co-workers are jealous (rightfully so), I have a calendar on my door with my count down and my activities while I'm on my vacation.

Tomorrow will be focused on seeing clients (whassup with that... I have the most appointments scheduled for tomorrow of all my Social Worker co-workers????). Tomorrow afternoon is tied up with meetings and sometime tomorrow I need to make sure I have all my ducks in a row to ensure that my co-worker can adequately cover for me while I'm gone and I'm going to pray that everything is calm while I'm gone.

Tonight... instead of packing, or doing anything I need to do to get ready for my trip, I've been watching "The Unit." I still say, its a great show!

Time to sign off... dogs will want to go for a walk soon.

Aloha!
- Kris

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Whoooohooooo down to just under 4 days!

Found this gecko up at the Dole Plantation Saturday... cool, huh!

So... I *am* down to just under 4 days. And I have not really done anything on my "to-do" list to prepare for the trip for the past two days. I don't think I'm too worried about packing... I have a pretty good idea what I want to pack. I *am* worried that I'm procrastinating on a couple things... like coloring my hair, getting my nails done, making sure all my electronics are charged, finding my shuffle... making sure my pods are set up with the right music and photos, etc... some of THOSE things can't wait until Saturday.

So... what am I doing? Watching "The Biggest Loser." Although I have to say, tonight's episode is my favorite... it's when all the contestants get a makeover. It's almost over, they haven't started the weigh in yet.

Work itself went okay today, I didn't get everything done I wanted to do, in part because I let myself get drawn into conversations with co-workers and my work doesn't get done (in this particular instance, one of the co-workers came into my office to talk). And... there was another meeting this afternoon.

Okay... I'm going to sign off. I *am* hoping to get to bed by 9:30 tonight. I need to try and be as rested as possible this week (and I know my tendency will be to stay up late Friday night).

Aloha!
- Kris

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday... 4 days, 22 hours and counting!

So...
Today went fine, although I got a client that was discharged from a local hospital and I swear, the client came out more delusional than when they went in! I only had 4 appointments today, but I also had a meeting that lasted all afternoon. SO... a busy day.

Tonight I've been surfing the web in anticipation of my trip. Specifically I was looking into our first cruise stop, in Dubrovnik, Croatia. It looks like other than visiting a wine bar there, the best thing is doing the City Gate walk, which walks along the outside upper wall. I don't think I ever saw how much it would cost for entry, but it sounded like it was reasonable. Hopefully I will physically be up to doing it (its not for those who are afraid of heights apparently, but no problem there!) and hopefully I can talk Michelle into doing it (or I guess I can do it with whoever on the ship is willing to do it with me *smiles*).

Time to sign off and get the dogs out for their walk.

Aloha!
- Kris

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Last Sunday in Hawaii for 3 weeks!

It was grey and overcast when I took Rob & Pam over to see the Arizona Memorial from the back side (from Ford Island).

Not much going on today... I slept in, then went in and picked Rob & Pam up and brought them up for dinner (I stopped and picked up some Chicken, potato salad & beans, along with a pie for desert). They spent a couple hours up here at my apartment and I took them back home about 6pm, stopping by Ford Island on the way back to Waikiki.

I didn't get back home until after 8pm, so now I've been watching "The Apprentice." I wish it didn't last for 2 hours! I missed "The Amazing Race" and will miss it next week (I think that's the finale). That's okay... firends are more important.

Last night I stayed up late... I was working on a checklist for packing and then a to-do list. As I write this, I'm down to 5 days, 22 hours and 37 minutes until I fly out. Guess I need to get more serious about packing! *smiles*

Aloha!
- Kris

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Lucky I live Hawaii!

The Byodin Temple in the Valley of Temples

So... today I picked up my friends from the cruise ship port a little after 9am. It was about 7pm when I dropped them off at their hotel. We did a lot today.

We drove around Oahu and made many stops. Since I had already showed them around the Diamond Head area last week, we headed east past Diamond Head and our first stop was the overlook just past Hanauma Bay. Then we went to the Halona Blow hole, continued on around to the Mokapu'u lighthouse... Bellows beach... through Kailua and Kanoehe (I pulled up next to my friend Tom with a friend on the back of his Harley. Tom was my friend Janis' fiance for the last two years of her life...). We kept heading north, stopping at the Byodin Temple (above). We wandered around the temple for awhile and I got some great pictures. (I'll be posting pictures from today's trip all week). I took them on up to Laie Point. I didn't take any pictures there with my camera, because I've seen it a LOT more colorful/spectacular than it was today with overcast skies. Our next stop was to the ORIGINAL Giovani Shrimp wagon in Kahuku...mmmm, good! I just had a half portion while Rob & Pam shared a full plate. I left room so we could stop at Ted's Bakery for a slice of pie. (I had chocolate haupia). We continued our drive around the North Shore of Oahu, past the many famous surfing beaches (but waves were relatively calm today). We stopped to look for turtles at two different beaches... no luck, darn it! I took them by where I work up in the middle of the island and then came on by the apartment to check on the dogs. We were here at my apartment for about 45 minutes. I took the dogs with us when I drove them back into their hotel in Waikiki (they are staying at the Beachcomber). It was almost 8:30pm when I got back home.

Tonight I've just been watching a little TV and I've been on the computer uploading the pictures first to my laptop, then to my Facebook page.

Now it's about time to take the dogs for their last walk and get to bed. We have decided what we are doing tomorrow, we just know we are going to spend the day together, whether I take them to a beach or to Hanauma Bay, or if I bring them out here for a barbeque. Oahu is supposed to have heavy rains, possibly starting tonight, but supposedly for sure by tomorrow afternoon.

Okay... signing off.

Aloha!
- Kris