Sunday, July 31, 2011

Roma Day 2

I've added these two of Micheangelo's painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel as an afterthought, because I've mentioned them in my blog below....)

Me with my cheap parasol at St Peter's Basilica

Doing the Roman Bath thing at the Vatican Museum (look familiar Michelle?)

Standing in front of the doors that the Pope is driven in and out of when he leaves the Vatican (thank you to the English speaking tour guide I happened upon and listened to for awhile).

This morning I overslept a little, but still made it for the continental breakfast here at the hotel. Then I caught the HOHO bus and got off at St. Peter's Basilica. I wandered around there awhile, it was neat, they had big screen TV's set up waiting for the Pope to come out and do his blessing (they had the screens set up so people could see it in front of St. Peter's, but that's not where he was going to be at the window (I don't think). After walking around there about 20 minutes (it was probably about 80+ degrees), I decided to see if I could find the Vatican museum from there... and I did. I ended up hooking up with a English speaking tour group for a little bit and they went on into the Museum. I wasn't going to go in, until I found out it was free on Sunday mornings, until 12:30pm. It was lunchtime by then, so I made it with about 20 minutes to spare (so, I got there about 12:10pm). I wandered around awhile, I don't think they had everything open that they normally would, but it was still kind of nice to go back and visit (for free). I had lunch there at the Vatican Museum (Lasagna... did I mention I had it for dinner last night and I had it for dinner again tonight! I guess it is my favorite Italian type pasta food).

After lunch I finished wandering through the museum, I took a lot of pictures, many were repeats that I took last year when I was there. And yes, I took some pictures in the Sistine Chapel (everyone was!). Okay... I added two of the photos above.

The were kicking everyone out of the chapel by 2 or 2:30, so I went back and got on the HOHO bus, but not before stopping to buy some cheap rosary beads (and I'm not even Catholic... but it seems like something you should do if you visit the Vatican more than once... lol!).

Actually, I switched HOHO busses, since my pass expired at 1:30pm, so I got on the Red 11o bus, which seems to be a lot more prevalent around Rome. I got off at the stop nearest to the Spanish Steps and walked over and finally saw those for the first time. (I've done over 20K steps today! Yea for me!). From there I came back to my hotel room for a short rest, then headed back out about 5:30pm, this time walking. I went to the Plaza of the Republika which isn't too far from my hotel, from there I walked down to Bernini Plaza and on over to the Hard Rock Cafe. I didn't buy anything, I have my tee shirt from last time I was here. I walked back up towards my hotel down several interesting streets and finally stopped at the restaurant that is kind of across the street from the hotel, the same one my daughter Michelle & I ate at last year. Oh yea... when I came back to the hotel this afternoon, I went and found a new suitcase. I wonder how long it will last. : ( Hopefully at least a year. Isn't it sad that I can be glad if a suitcase lasts a year? The airlines are SO hard on the suitcases! Oh yea and I walked over to the train station this afternoon to check on the cost of a train ride out to the airport, it's only about 14 euro (for 1st class, 9 for 2nd)... so that's doable. I need to double check my airline ticket so I know what time I need to catch my train (they seem to run out there to the airport VERY often).

Okay... guess I'll sign off. It's after 10pm. It's going to be hard to get back on the work schedule on Tuesday! YIKES!

I'll probably post from home tomorrow night.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Saturday, July 30, 2011

All roads lead to Rome?

Sun is setting behind St Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Well, it worked the last time I threw a coin into the fountain (if you throw a coin into the fountain, that means you will be back!). I didn't expect to be back so soon!

The Colliseum

I decided I needed a new profile picture (I have one in a similar pose up on top of Mount Titlis in the snow... in Engelburg, Switzerland).

So. I was supposed to be off the boat today at 8:30, but since I made my train reservation into Rome for 11am, I didn't leave the boat until about 9:30am or so. Thankfully they have a bus that takes you into the small city there at the port (otherwise it would have been a LONG walk! The taxi's were hard to get). From where the bus let everyone off, I still had a 10-15 minute walk, but then I had a fairly long wait (over an hour). And I need to get a new suitcase. One of my wheels is all but gone, so I drag it more than it rolls. (bummer). Thankfully my hotel is only about a 10 minute walk from the train station (if that). I'm in the same hotel I stayed in last year with Michelle and even ended up in the same room!

After settling in at the hotel, I went out to get a hop-on, hop-off (HOHO) bus. I didn't want the one we went on last year because I'd see 4 of other busses go by for every 1 of ours. I got a different one, and it was more frequent than the one last year, but hardly told you anything along the route. The pass I got is good for 24 hours so I can use it for a 1/2 day tomorrow (Sunday). I'll decide if I want to get another one to take me through a half day or so on Monday. If I do, it will be on a different bus.

I got off at the Colliseum, the St Peter's Basilica and at Bernini Fountain where I walked on down to the Trevi fountain. I wanted to see it lit up, so I stayed and had dinner in the area at an Italian restaurant, and then wandered back down to the Trevi fountain again. It was just as crowded then as it was earlier!

Since the HOHO bus had stopped running, I walked back to the Bernini Fountain area and caught the metro (for 1 Euro) back to the train station and came home. Now it's bedtime so I had better sign off.

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Friday, July 29, 2011

My last full day on the Silhouette

So, today is my last full day on the cruise. It’s been wonderful (other than some rough water the first night and the weather not being warm for the first couple days). So… how do you spend your last day of a cruise? Well, if the weather is cooperative, you enjoy time by the pool. Which I did for several hours (made sure I put some sunscreen on!). It was a beautiful day out, I could not have asked for better weather. I read and lounged by the pool, then later I changed out of my swimsuit, took a shower and then went and sat in one of the little alcoves they have here on board and finished reading my book. Oh yea, and I did play a little more on the slots. I haven’t quite broke even, but I’m not going home broke, so that’s good.

I’m getting ready for my last dinner in the dining room, what to wear? I have one dress I brought that I didn’t wear, and I have my turquoise top and white pants on and would rather just wear that. I need to be making a decision soon. After dinner I’ll probably skip the Broadway show and come back to the room and pack. Everyone is supposed to have their luggage outside their door tonight by 11pm (except for a carry-on, if you need it and I will).
So, I’ll sign off and finish getting ready for dinner and will probably post this after dinner.

Auf Wiedersehen!- Kris

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cruise Barcelona 28 July 11

See! I made it!

Overlooking Barcelona from the Tibidaba


Wow! What a day! I think I saw as much as I possibly could have seen in one day of Barcelona! I did the hop-on, hop-off (HOHO) bus with my German friends. It was nice because Thomas has been there before with his Mother, so he had some good suggestions as places to stop and see for awhile. I’m not sure what was my favorite part of the day. I think seeing the church up on the hill. We took the HOHO bus to the bottom of the hill, then took a cable car up part of the way (think San Francisco Cable car), then took a Funicular train up to the top… THEN walked up the steps to the top of the church. It was weird to see them have an amusement park up there by the church. The church is called Tibidabo (google it?).

The first stop we got off on was at the Placa de Catalunya, so I could get my Hard Rock Café tee shirt (we also went to the McDonald’s there for a soda and a burger, just a quick snack). We changed busses there (from the Red line to the Blue Line), We talked about getting off at the church Sagrada Familia, but the lines were SOOO long, we stayed on the bus and settled for pictures from the bus. Our next stop that we got off on was the Park Guell. It was supposed to be the home of Guadi, but he never lived there. It afforded a scenic view of the city. We then hopped back on the bus and went to the Tibidabo stop and made our way up to the church and got some GREAT photos from up there on the hill! I think the next place we got off to look around was at the National Palace. After we made our complete round, we walked across the pier to a fairly new area, it’s an extension of the Ramblas street on Port Vell. I picked up a Starbucks mug for someone back in Stuttgart that had put in a special request, and then we headed up Ramblas and found a place where my friends could get a Sangria (I had diet coke) and we had dinner there as well (I had the traditional Spanish dish Paella). We walked up and down the Ramblas (like a touristy shopping district area) and then made it back to the bus that we needed to catch to make it back to the bus. We got to the bus about 10pm. Everyone is supposed to be on board by 11:30pm so that we can sail away at midnight.

So… that is a snapshot of my day in Barcelona. It was enough to whet my appetite to want to come back again some day.

Oh yea! And I got permission from my boss to book the Transatlantic cruise (YEA!!!!), which I promptly did while I could still get a good deal. So, I’ll be in an 8th floor balcony (I’m currently in a 9th floor balcony). I am SO excited!!!! What an awesome vacation THAT will be. And to spend a couple days in New York City on the other end is something I’m looking forward to as well.
Okay… time to sign off.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Silhouette Cruise July 27, 2011

With the Captain at the Captain's reception

Touring the Bridge...

As close as I will get to Africa at this point... would love to go there and visit someday!

I stayed up late last night, until about 1am. They had “70’s” night up in the Sky Lounge. I danced with several people from Cruise Critic and my German friends joined us (well, Thomas did, his father went to bed). I wanted to introduce Thomas to some of the other younger Cruise Critic bunch. I woke up about 7:30 and then dozed off and on until just after 8am. Then we were going through the Strait of Gibraltar, that was neat. I could see Morocco SO close! I was THAT close to Africa! It was neat. You know what else was neat? Seeing the many pods of Spinner dolphins! There were some HUGE pods, of at least 100 dolphins. And I saw 1 turtle. *smiles*

Then later this morning about 10, I got to join a bunch of other “Cruise Critic” folks and we got a “tour” of the Bridge. It wasn’t really a tour, but we did get to go up on the Bridge and see it. (The bridge tour I was on, when I was on the Millennium was a LOT more interactive and I even got to pretend I was steering the ship with the joy stick!

This afternoon I got to participate in a “Captain’s Club” reception, that was really nice, far more food than I expected! They celebrated two couples who have the most Celebrity sailings under their belts, I think one had 79 cruise credits (I get 2 credits for being in a concierge level cabin on this cruise) and the other had 69. Must be nice to be older, in good health, retired and have some wealth, eh? Maybe some day. I did get my picture taken with the Captain of the ship, he’s from Greece, a nice guy with a fairly good sense of humor.

I tried my hand at the slot machines today again, and lost what I had won yesterday. Oh well, as they say… easy come, easy go. Right? I budgeted money for playing in the casino because it is something I like to do. I am sure I spend less on the slot machines than many people do drinking.

Tonight is another formal night. It’s a little after 5 as I write this, and my dinner time is 6:30pm. I may go to the evening show after that… I’ll see what is playing. Right now I’m enjoying sitting on the veranda, enjoying the sea breeze and the wonderful weather. (I stayed out of the sun today because I got more than my fair share yesterday).

Okay… off again for today.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sailing 26 July 2011

Ahhh, it is so nice to have a balcony! Especially at sunset.

People enjoying the pool and deck.

It's been awhile since I've been able to take THIS kind of picture... sunset over the ocean!

Today there was sunshine, so tonight about half the boat are sporting a red complexion! *smiles* I started off the day (late) by grabbing a bite to eat in the main buffet dining area and then went to the Solarium and spent some time in the Jacuzzi. I met a German woman who teaches English, so she was an easy person to have a conversation with! Later, about lunchtime, I went up above the pool deck (I went to deck 15) and managed to get a lounge chair and then dozed off and on for several hours. I did take a swim break about halfway through, the water in the pool was cold initially, but then warmed up. I stayed up there until about 4, then decided to change and go play some bingo. Unfortunately there weren’t enough Bingo players, so we got our money refunded (but they gave us a free pull-tab thing and I won $5.00). Did I mention that I won just over $120 yesterday playing the 1 game of Bingo? I did. I met up with some Germans I had dinner with the first night (father and son) and another older German couple that were from Hamburg for dinner tonight. I had Escargot (I have had that almost every night for my appetizer!) and then I had Shish Kabob. For desert, I had Crème Brule, something I’ve had almost every night for dinner as well.

After dinner tonight I went into the casino and won some and lost some, but ended up walking away with about $40 more than I went in there with (I won $144 on the penny slot machines). Right now I’m sitting on the balcony of my cabin, waiting for sunset. It looks like the sun will be setting on the water tonight, there’s a little bit of haze and no clouds. YEA!

Tomorrow I get to go on a tour of the Ship’s Bridge. I’ll take pictures! Then depending on what time it gets done, I may be able to hop in on the ship’s Galley tour. Tomorrow afternoon I get to go to a “Captain’s” reception (because I’ve been on a Celebrity Cruise before, I now belong to the ‘Captain’s Club.”). No other plans for tomorrow, maybe some “sun” time, depending on the weather.

Oh yea, I almost forgot. Tomorrow morning will be an early morning, as the Captain is going to do a wakeup call at 7:30am so that we can all watch as we go through the locks at the Strait of Gibraltar. That will be neat. I’ll get to watch it from the balcony of my cabin.

Oh yea, and one other thing. They have a lot of Filopinos working on the ship, so while I've been sailing from Germany to Italy (via Spain), I've been learning Tagalog (Filopino language). I can now say "Good Morning", "Good Afternoon", "Good Evening", "Thank you" and "Good bye" in Filopino. I can also say "Thank you" in Turkish (the maitre de for our table is Turkish). Funny huh... learning Filopino in Europe on a cruise. *smiles* It's fun though. I *should* be brushing up on my Spanish and Italian since that's where I'm headed!

Okay… I’m going to sign off… I’m going to head up to the Observation Deck bar for ‘70’s night. I just need to remember that I need to get to bed at a halfway decent time.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cruise blog July for July 23rd

Leaving the port in Hamburg, it was about a 4-5 hour cruise up to the coast. I'll post more pictures when I return.

Sorry for missing a couple days blogging. It’s SO expensive to blog on board. For 208 minutes it is $99, so I haven’t even tried logging into the ship’s internet system until today.

Saturday, I took it easy in the morning, and rested instead of trying to get to the Minature World. Hamburg is a beautiful enough city that I would like to visit it again some day. I took the cab over to the ship about noon and was able to board fairly quickly, but we weren’t allowed into our cabins until 1pm. Then I got a wild idea that I wanted a Hamburg Hard Rock Café Tee shirt. The Hard Rock Café there had just opened within the last week or so. That was an expensive idea, I had to pay a cab to go there and back and I made the mistake of paying the cabbie to wait for me… and he didn’t wait, so I had to catch a different cab back.

The ship is beautiful. It reminds me a lot of the Millenium that I was on from Auckland to Hawaii a couple years ago. And as I write this I am sitting listening to some violinists play in the “Centrum” (the main lobby area). Saturday was spent orienting myself to the ship. I also had to buy a new camera once I got onboard. I had bought a new Canon Elph 300 last week and after only taking about 27 pictures with it, the lens keeps jamming and malfunctioning, so my first purchase on board was another new canon, this one is Canon Powershot ELPH 100HS. (It’s a pretty blue!). I will return my other camera when I get back to Stuttgart.

Sunday was a day of rest for me, and of exploration. I did try my hand at some slot machines and played a quick game of bingo (no luck). Last night was the formal night, I sat with some widows from Germany who spoke really good English and then there was another couple from Germany at the table. The first night I sat with a father and son from Munich, Germany. They are both very tall. I think the father has Parkinson’s (I think he said he is 57 or something like that) and his son is 21, he also has a daughter who is 23. I didn’t ask about the wife/mother. Oh yea, and on Monday our “Cruise Critic” bunch had their little party. So, I got to meet some of the people I have been talking with online. While there with the Guest Relations person, I asked if I could get a tour of the Ship’s Bridge and it looks like they are going to try and make it happen. A lot of the cruise critic bunch wanted to do it too. Last night after the formal dinner, I went to the entertainment show. It was pretty good, a lot of acrobatics. I much prefer acrobatic and circus type acts over Broadway shows.

This morning I had room service (again) for breakfast, I think I need to start going to the dining room or to the mast grill for breakfast, the meal will probably be hotter and the fruit smoothie will still be icy. I also need to get up and out more, because I haven’t been making my 10,000 steps. This morning I left the room about 10am, and went to the main dining room for a tour of the galley. That was neat! And, I got my picture taken with the head chef!

This afternoon I may go play another quick game of Bingo. I am hoping to get this blog posted online (so I have to sign up for the internet service). I may go see if the Jacuzzi’s are warmer today, they were relatively cold yesterday according to someone I talked to. I could go lounge by the indoor pool (which thankfully is for adults only).

Weather-wise, it was rainy in Hamburg and the first night on the ship was pretty rocky. I woke up a lot. I’m on the 9th floor, so my cabin rocks probably more than if I were on a lower level. Last night wasn’t too bad for sleeping. Yesterday we actually had a little sunshine, but I think the high temperature was 60*. Today it is rainy and foggy outside. I keep hoping that the farther south we go, that it might warm up??? It *was* neat seeing the cliffs of Dover yesterday as we passed through the English channel. We hugged the coast of England quite a bit coming down Between England and mainland Europe.

Okay, time to sign off. I’ll try to write a daily blog from now on. It’s almost noon and time for the daily announcement by the Captain (he’s from Athens, Greece and has a great sense of humor). Then I’ll go play the “quick” game of Bingo (they only play one game), and then see about getting this blog uploaded. I am also trying to upload pictures to my computer, and will try to post a couple pictures with my blog.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Friday, July 22, 2011

Made it to Hamburg!

Made it to Hamburg okay, no problems. The train went fast for awhile (the ICE trains are supposed to be the fastest in Europe), but not always. I took a taxi over to the hotel (I'm staying at the Intercontinental). What is neat about where I am staying, it is only about a half a block away from the American Embassy (I went exploring after I got here). I'm using the free wifi in the hotel and for some reason it won't let me upload pictures. I've only taken a few, as it is a pretty rainy day out there today. (I got up here about 6:30pm).

Right now I'm planning to head over to the port about 10am and hope that I can at least drop off my luggage and then go over to the "Minature World" place and check it out before I leave on my cruise.

Okay... signing off.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Thursday, July 21, 2011

One more half day!

Here's a picture of the ship I will be on this coming week. I think this photo was taken as it was being taken from the shipyard to the harbor.

Work went okay today, I had four appointments, but the last one was a no-show. I was able to get all my documentation for today done. Tomorrow should be relatively easy, it will only be a half day and I don't have any appointments scheduled. I have three assessments I can work on and I have to do my online timesheet (we have two timesheets to do, an electronic one and a paper one - don't ask me why). My boss is going to drop me off at the train station near where I work and then I'll catch the train on into Stuttgart from there and switch over to the ICE (bullet) train heading to Hamburg.

I went out to dinner with a friend tonight that was celebrating a birthday. That was nice. Then came home and got my satellite dish switched over (they are changing satellites the end of the month before I get back, so I didn't want to wait and try to figure it out then). After I got mine working, I called my neighbor (her husband is still in the states) and I helped her get her satellite dish switched. It was easier than I thought. (Thank goodness!). She's going to pick me up at the train station and take me to where I work to pick up my car.

Now it's 9:30 at night and I need to get some last minute things done before I go to bed, so I'll be ready to leave tomorrow.

SO... time to sign off. Forgive me if I don't get a chance to post tomorrow night from Hamburg. You know I'll post if I can.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

one and a half more days...

self portrait... *smiles*

So, work went fine today, I had several appointments, including a new client that I really like. It was a rainy day here in Germany, so I'm not going to do the long walk with the dogs tonight.

Last night I stayed up til midnight or so. BUT, I *am* finished packing and I have all my travel information printed out and organized. I even swept the floors again (I think there was a dust bunny convention at my house this week... you guys can have them all back now!).

I'm very excited about my upcoming cruise on the new Celebrity Silhouette ship! I have visions of spending the first 4 sea days lounging on the balcony of my cabin sunbathing. That just sounds SOOOOO relaxing. And (providing weather IS cooperative), I may intersperse that with trips to the pool and jacuzzi. I also think it will be hard to come back to work afterwards...

Okay... signing off for another day... going to love on my doggies and watch "America's Got Talent."

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

3 days and counting?

Trevor pigging out...

So... thought I'd post some piggy pictures from Saturday's visit to the Pig museum. *smiles*

Work went okay today, I stayed busy. I think I had four appointments, and I really don't know where the time went. After work I took the dogs for their walk. It was sprinkling out, but we still did just over 2 1/2 miles. I got my fitbit weekly results this morning. Last week I did 73,324 steps, which apparently equals 31.11 miles. Wow! And just think... that was with several days of not making 10 thousand steps every day because i was doing the training and it was drenching rain at least one day.

Tonight I got just about everything packed for my trip later this week. By the way, I'm not sure how much I will be able to post. Friday night I'll be staying the night in a hotel in Hamburg and I'm not sure how much they will charge to use their internet (it's not free there). Then, I'll be on the boat and I'm *assuming* they've got their wireless internet system all up and running. But... there's always a slight chance there might be a glitch because it IS a brand new ship.

I've also been doing a little cleaning to make sure my house is clean to come home to. I'm amazed at how many dust bunnies I've collected since Friday (when I swept and mopped last). I think all my friends have sent their dust bunnies to me and they are all here for a convention! LOL!

Okay... I need to sign off. It's after 1opm and I still need to get a bunch of stuff done before I go to bed (and walk the dogs).

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Monday, July 18, 2011

Back to work (but only 3 1/2 more days this week!)

Out for a 2 1/2 mile walk...

In their beds waiting on mama!

Last evening the clouds cleared over Steinenbronn!

So... I stayed up WAY too late last night. I watched the Women's World Soccer game. I was disappointed when we lost, but if we had to lose, I'm glad it was Japan. Japan has been the underdog and hopefully winning the game will bring happiness to their country. I didn't go to bed until almost 12:30am though... ugh!

I was glad when things were quiet today at work. I had four appointments scheduled. None showed up (glad I don't depend on their showing up to get paid!). One couple got delayed and weren't able to come in, one had a sick child and one overslept. The other was a complete no-show, not sure why. I'll have to call them and check on them. But... it *was* nice to have a quiet day back at work and I got to catch up on what's gone on while I've been at my training and to talk with my boss a few times today.

When I got home I took the dogs out for a walk and then had a hotdog for dinner. I haven't had a hotdog in such a long time and it just sounded good to have tonight. (I had to run to the store anyway to pick up some ketchup and a couple other things, so I got some hotdog buns and some hotdogs). The doggies and I did 2.5 miles (and hooray! I've already got my 10k steps in today!). Tonight I've been watching "Undercover Boss" The Johnny Rocket's show (where the CEO went undercover). It was good and brought tears to my eyes when he met with several employees at the end.

I'm hoping to head to bed by 9pm tonight. Tomorrow I only have any appointments scheduled for the afternoon... so hopefully I will finish up with some paperwork I need to get done!

Okay... signing off.

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Stuttgart sightseeing...

The TV tower in Stuttgart..

The view from the top of the TV tower...

Our bus tour started at the Pig Museum/restaurant...

This is where we started... this used to be the administrative building for the slaughterhouse, now it is a restaurant. *smiles*

So... got up and went over to my neighbor's for breakfast. We had the coffee cake that I had bought yesterday (okay, the breakfast was after a short walk with the dogs). Then we headed down to Stuttgart (I'm about 2o minutes from town). We met up with about 7 others and did the local "hop on, hop off" bus. (The others were co-workers and family members from my neighbor's office). It was very rainy and drizzly, so it was nice to just stay on the bus. The only place we got off was to go up to the TV tower.

After we finished the bus tour we went back to the Pig Museum where we started and had lunch there, then came home about 3pm. I laid down for a nap with the dogs (after taking them for another short potty break, in the rain). Tonight I'm watching the Women's World Soccer match on TV. GO USA (they are playing Japan). If I had my TV hooked up in the basement, I think I would be watching it down there while starting to pack.

Okay... signing off.

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pacing and pacing... (and Volksmarching)

This was our group at the end of the volksmarch. Bad picture of Tamie looking at me instead of the camera. Trevor is right beside me there... (he's 12).

Beautiful views along the trail...

Neat houses in the town (I *love* the half timbered houses here in Germany!)

Great shot of some flowers...

So, got up and took the dogs for a mile or so walk first thing this morning and then went with Tamie and Trevor to a Volksmarch in the town of Aurich. We met up with three of Tamie's co-workers there. (You walk slower when you are with a group, because you can only go as fast as your slowest walker). We had a beautiful day though and a great volksmarch. It was supposed to be a 10k, but then at the end it said "11k", but it was over 7 miles. Then I had to run some errands this afternoon (after a short nap). For some reason when I switched the sim card in my phone, I cannot receive calls. I went to the place where I got the phone, but the guy didn't have an Iphone himself and didn't know how to fix the problem. Guess I'll call the company on Monday and hope I can get someone who speaks English. I don't use my phone much... I *can* call out and send & receive text messages... just no calls. Then I went and bought me some shorts. I guess I didn't think I would need them here in Germany, so I gave them to the Goodwill there in Hawaii. Now I need some for my cruise (coming up the end of this next week!).

Tonight I updated my cell phone (someone suggested that might fix the call problem, but it didn't). Then I took the dogs out for another short walk (Trevor saw me heading out, so asked if he could go with us) and then I came back and talked with Tamie for awhile (they live across the street). Then I came home and I had something like 28,000 steps on my fitbit... so I've done a LOT of pacing since then and I got a total of 30,692 steps in for today, barely beating my all time record that was just set last Sunday (so still in this "week's" period) of 30,124 steps!).

Now it's after midnight. I've got to be over at Tamie's at 8am. We are heading into town to ride the "Hop On, Hop Off" bus around Stuttgart. But first we are going to have some coffee cake that we didn't eat today. As we were leaving our town, we stopped by a bakery and I thought I was asking for a piece of coffee cake (for breakfast) and she gave me the whole half (not TOO expensive)... so we decided to have it tomorrow morning for breakfast before we go into town.

SO... I'd better sign off and get to bed!

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Friday, July 15, 2011

Back home

My dinner last night at the hotel, I had Cream of Basil soup with cheese toast and then parmesan crusted chicken with long grain rice.

SO... I came home and had gained 1-2 pounds. That's a combination of a lot of good food (they fed us snacks twice a day as well as the three "square" meals) and NOT enough walking. Good thing I got those 30k steps in on Sunday, because I think there has only been one other day this week I got 10k in.

I got home late this morning and because my dog sitter had an appointment, I needed to wait awhile to go pick them up, and ended up just going over for the local training that we have and then picked the dogs up after that. But, I came home before the training to drop my stuff off and then while I didn't have the dogs here (which are just like kids!), I took advantage of the opportunity to quickly sweep the floors (main floor and basement) and then mopped them. I also changed the bedding on my bed.

I've just been vegetating since I got home, playing on the computer and my neighbors came over (Tamie and Tristan) and we are going on a volksmarch early tomorrow morning (I'm going to be over at their house at 7:45am, which means I need to get up and walk the dogs before that). Sunday they are going to go down to Stuttgart and do the "hop-on, hop-off" bus and have asked me to go with them.

Anyway... now it's almost 11pm and I had better sign off and get ready for tomorrow morning and for bed.

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Training finished!

Well, I finished my training today. I still need to do 10 hours of consultation before I can get my training certification. After we finished I came up to my hotel room and relaxed for a bit, then I went up and saw the two castles that are here in the Wienheim area. One of them is called the Wachenburg castle, I’m not sure what the other one is called. I came back to the hotel and had some dinner, I wasn’t too hungry though. I had cream of Basil soup and parmesan crusted chicken. It was good, but I only ate about half.

I’ll be headed home tomorrow, and will probably try to go into work for a couple hours tomorrow afternoon, if nothing else, so that I can get through all my accumulated emails.

Well, not much else to write about tonight, so I’ll sign off.

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Way to go USA!

I'm posting from my IPad again, so will keep it short. Training is going okay, it's a little overwhelming, but I feel like I am learning what I need to learn. Tonight a bunch of us were watching as our USA women's soccer team beat France, so they will be going to the finals this weekend against either Japan or Sweden.

Okay, I'm going to keep this short again and try to get to bed early. It's been raining all day, so I haven't even 3,000 steps in today. I guess I am giving myself a day off from my daily 10k.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2nd Day of Training

Okay, just a short blog tonight. I am posting from my IPad. Not the most efficient. Training is going good, I am enjoying all the people I have been getting to know. Tonight after dinner I went for a two mile walk to make sure I got my 10k steps in, which I have, barely. Now it is after 10, time for me to sign off.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Monday, July 11, 2011

First day of training

Castle up on a hill overlooking Weinheim.

Schloss in Weinheim town.

So, after getting to bed way too late last night (only got about 6 hours of sleep), I got up and went down for the buffet breakfast about 7:30 (training started at 8). It was a long day of training and there was some confusion regarding when training was supposed to end. Our trainers thought it was to last for 5 days, we had been told 4 days, so what we are going to do is meet for 9 hours a day for the 4 days (95% of us agreed to do a 1/2 day on Friday, but one person who has a LOT of influence at this training conference through a fit, and said people had clients scheduled for Friday (no one I have talked to scheduled anyone for Friday because it was supposed to be a travel day anyway), so we could have done the 4.5 day. Oh well).

After we ended at 6 tonight, I went with a couple Social Workers from Landstuhl and we hopped on the train and went on into Weinheim (it would have been about a 30 minute walk, but then they gave us a designated dinnertime of 7:30pm, so we had to get back in time for that). Anyway... I went into town and we wandered around the old town for about 45 minutes and then hopped on a train and came back to the hotel. (3 train stops away). Got here in time for dinner. I met a couple Social Workers from Northern Italy that work in the Substance Abuse clinic there. It sounds like they will be opening a new clinic there about the time I've done my 3 years here in Germany, if I am interested in moving down there. That would be neat. 3 years in Italy? After Germany? Guess time will tell.

Okay... I'd better sign off. It's almost 10 pm and I'd like to be going to sleep VERY soon. We have to be at training at 7:30am tomorrow. Ugh! (Oh well, that's the time I normally have to be at work, at least here all I have to do is get dressed and head downstairs! *smiles*

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday volksmarching and traveling...

Hopefully the pictures will load. One is of me drinking the "farm fresh milk" as I tried to duck out of the rain for a little bit, the other is from the volksmarch this morning. *smiles*

It’s almost 11pm, past my bedtime, but wanted to do a short blog. I got up this morning and went volksmarching with my neighbor, her son and a co-worker of hers that is new to Germany (the same one that went with us last weekend). It was a 10k today. I got home later than anticipated (we stopped by the military store on the way home), so finished putting things together for my trip and then took the dogs out for a walk of just over a mile, then took them over to the Dog sitter’s. I hope Bruno does okay!

It took a couple hours to get up here to my hotel in Weinheim. It’s a really nice hotel and dinner was delicious (a steak, green beans and fries. I ate all my green beans and half my steak and a few of the fries. I also had soup (kind of like egg drop soup) before the rest of the meal and a scoop of ice cream. After dinner I decided to go find a small lake near the hotel (about a mile away), so I walked down to the lake and it started raining when I got near to the lake. I was hoping the rain would let up, but it didn’t, it just got worse. On the way down to the lake, I saw a dairy farm and they had a booth kind of thing (think large bus stop kind of place), where you could purchase liter bottles and then fill them up with fresh farm milk. So, I bought a bottle and filled it up about halfway. It was pretty good and a nice break from the rain. Then I had to come the remaining mile home in the rain. Ugh! As soon as I got back to the hotel, I jumped in the shower. Sure felt nice.

Okay… I’m going to sign off.
Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Nice Saturday...

So, I had a good day. I got up about 8 and took the dogs for a 2.6 mile walk, then came home and spent the day doing housework. I got a lot done. I swept inside and out, I did several loads of laundry, including the bedspread from the upstairs "blue" room. I had let Peanut and Bruno up on the bed one day and the spread was a magnet for Peanut's hair. So, it needed to be washed. My house is really clean right now *smiles* (The only thing I didn't do was mop, figured I'd do that next weekend).

I invited my dog sitter & her husband over for dinner. We grilled a steak and some boneless, skinless chicken breasts (they were REALLY tender). Then we had some rice and mixed vegetables (cauliflower & brussels sprouts in a cheese sauce). I made some Brownies for desert, they turned out okay as well.

Tonight I'm just taking it easy. It will be bedtime soon. I'm going to get up and go on a volksmarch with my neighbors in the morning and then in the afternoon I am driving up to the Mannheim area where I'll be going through some training for the week. By the way, apparently the wi-fi up there is available for a fee. I'm hoping because we're there as a group we can get free wi-fi. I am taking my Ipad and now have it set up so I have internet access through my phone provider. I should be able to do at least a minimal blog (without pictures?).

Okay... I'm going to sign off.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Friday, July 8, 2011

No more work for over a week!

I took these pictures while I was walking my doggies after work today. In the top photo, it was taken just as a bicyclist went past on the road and the dogs did really good and stayed put (they didn't chase the bike). The bottom one is a bench we sat on about halfway through our walk. We did 3.77 miles today.

Work went fine... no appointments this morning, so got caught up on paperwork (always a challenge!) and then this afternoon was spent at a "Resilliency" training. It's the first of three parts, but I'll have to miss the other two because I won't be working on those days.

Feeling lazy tonight and hoping I don't stay up too late tonight (I usually like to stay up half the night on weekends). No plans for tomorrow, hopefully I'll do some housework, and I need to get my vitamins organized (I put them into weekly vitamin holders, but I'll do 6 weeks of them if I have that many vitamins on hand). I need to make sure my camera is charged for my trip on Sunday. It sounds like my neighbors might do another Volksmarch with me on Sunday morning and then early Sunday afternoon I hope to get the dogs dropped off and head on up north to my training (check in tomorrow late afternoon, training starts Monday and runs through Friday). The training is only about 2 hours north of where I live, so not too bad. I need to pack for that tomorrow as well (and should do some more laundry). When I return from that trip then I will only have a week until I leave for my cruise. THAT week will be busy.

Speaking of Volksmarching though, I mentioned I went last Sunday and I think I mentioned that they had some live music (a guy playing a keyboard and singing). I had to chuckle when the guy started singing "Onward Christian Soldiers" and a bunch of German volksmarchers joined in with him!

Well, guess I'll sign off for tonight. I sure hope I have internet access when I get to my hotel up north on Sunday!

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris