Turnaround Time

August 17th, 2018

Wow! I just realized I didn’t post once during the first Alaska cruise.  Maybe that’s a good sign that I really switched gears, but it’s more honestly the result of a busy schedule and poor satellite internet.

i am in Seward, Alaska, between my first and second cruises.  This evening we head back in the direction of Vancouver, from where I will fly back to San Diego briefly before heading off to Montreal for the fall season—can the first falling leaves be on the horizon so soon?

So now it’s transition time. Dan left for the airport a few minutes ago, and after a goodbye at his bus, I went back on board a ship that most guests rarely see.  The cabin stewards look as if they are in the starting blocks for a sprint, which in a way they are. In a few hours the ship will be pristine again and ready for the new passengers.  But right now, the hallways are filled with piles of sheets and towels, and staff are coming through to remove copious quantities of half-empty liquor and wine bottles. A real bonanza if I drank the hard stuff—I’d never come out of my room!  I did go through a massive pile of soda cans and discovered diet tonic water, which I didn’t know they had. Score!  I guess they remove all the stuff in the fridges, even if unopened, then put it all back in later—maybe wiped down?  I will have to ask.

So now, I am doing my laundry—the one time you can be sure the machines won’t be in use—and spreading out to fill all the closets and drawers in the room.  It is so comforting and fun to have Dan aboard, and it would be great to be looking forward to having a friend join me (illness recovery prevented my buddy Sharon from coming along), but I do have to admit, there is something special about calling 100% of the shots about time, space and activities.

And of course, it is time for a mental recap and a new set of promises to myself, as follows:

1) I will skip breakfast except on tour mornings

2) I will cheat less on my rules at lunch, and will skip the buffet in favor of ordering from a menu at the pool or restaurant most days.  Easier to know how much I have eaten.

3)  I will drink more water and less wine at dinner.  I no longer have wine at lunch at all, except if I just finished a lecture

4). I will walk briskly at least an hour a day, on treadmill or in port

5). I will get over my dislike of small hotel-style gyms and give my upper body something to cheer about.

6) I will do more of my work in the beautiful public spaces on the ship, rather than holed up in my room.

7) I will not order room service just because I don’t have a concrete dinner plan.  Something always works out.

8) I will go on more strenuous shore excursions.  There were reasons to be more sedentary this time around (Dan’s broken toe and my need to get familiar with the ports), but there’s no excuse this time!

9)….And on that note, I will kayak at least once  I don’t know why I have it so built up in my mind that I will be a spaz at it and end up in the icy water, but that’s the vision I have.

I am repeating a mantra that I wish I followed a little better:  Being afraid of something is a good reason to do it.   Since this Year of Living Travelly is in large part about expanding my comfort zone, I will do my best to become the Kayak Queeen, and Solo Traveler extraordinaire!

And since ten resolutions has more resonance than nine, I will add my ongoing one:  never let even one day pass without remembering to be grateful for this beautiful life

Time to move clothes into the dryer.  Then into town for that hour of walking—and no, poking around the shopping street doesn’t count!


First Fireworks, then a Parade

August 5th, 2018

It seems as if most of the time I arrive a day too late or leave a day too early to see a city make a big splash, but in Vancouver I was just right, and I didn’t even know it until the excitement was  on my  doorstep—literally.

Many months ago, Dan and I made reservations to come to Vancouver a couple of days before starting a cruise, to give us a chance to look around a little more.  Since arriving it has been one surprise after another.  First, the hotel we booked, The Sylvia,  turns out to be a historic beauty right on the waterfront of English Bay. Second it has been sunny and warm, the water sparkling, and the locals  out in droves on bikes and on foot, enjoying the utter happiness of this beautiful place they call home. With Dan’s broken toe we haven’t been able walk very far to dinnner, and voila, the hotel restaurant turned out to be first rate.

”There are fireworks tomorrow tonight, “ our cab driver said. “You’ll be able to see them from your hotel.”  That was the first big understatement of our trip.  The fireworks were a lollapalooza, part of an International Fireworks Festival, spanning several weeks, in which countries compete for who can impress Vancouver the most with a  25-minute display choreographed to music. The festival has been going on nearly three decades, and I had to shake my head in wonderment that a city could get other countries to come and entertain it like this, for no  reward that I could discern except the bragging rights of winning.  I wonder what would happen if I tried to persuade top chefs to come compete at my place, and then I would clap one of them on the back and say, “Congratulations!  Your truffle-infused duck fat potato confit with persillade and pea sprout garnish wins the prize!  Thanks for coming!  Bye!””

It didn’t take us long to determine that another surprise was in store this weekend, when we started seeing all the costumes and an extraordinary spirit of fun and frivolity everywhere.  Not only was there a comic convention going on downtown, but it was a Pride Weekend and there would be a huge parade passing  by —you guessed it—one block from our hotel.  Drums,  rainbow floats, lots of random marchers and proud onlookers.  Thanks, Universe —I needed a reminder that even though so much seems dark and threatening now at home,  there  has been great progress in my lifetime on this and other social fronts I care about.

I  am feeling like royalty!  I mean, how many visitors get fireworks and a parade?  And then, to top it off, I discovered wines from the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia.  I had been there once with my late husband, who grew up on the shores of Lake Okenagan, and while there we tried the wine and weren’t very impressed. With my penchant for trying local when I travel, I decided to give it another chance, and yum!  I was, of course, inspired by that to give local peach wheat beer a try at lunch in Stanley Park yesterday. Yum too!    So of course I had to confirm my experiment by trying Okanagan wine again today at lunch.  Even better than the first one!  The photo below is included to show what great lengths I will go to to boost the British Columbia economy by drinking their best!  Cheers!



Options and Other Pleasures

August 1st, 2018

It’s almost time to leave San Diego for the next short chapter in My Year of Living Travelly.  I  leave on Friday for Vancouver, where Dan and I will spend a few days before boarding Seabourn Sojourn for 11 days (him) and 25 days (me).

I have only been once to Alaska, briefly,  about thirty years ago, but really it is unforgettable.  I am excited to be hitting the road again, not just to see it again, but because my year ought to be spent as travelly as possible, and it’s time to end a lovely hiatus and move on.

I do have a few observations, or should I say a few points of gratitude to share before leaving, so here they are.

I really appreciated the  ease of being here.  When I am traveling, in some ways my world is smaller.  I have fewer options in a unfamiliar place—no idea where to go if I can’t find what I want at the place I was told to look, no sense of how to get around blocked streets or traffic jams,  few ideas about the best place to get what I feel like eating.  Options are nice!

I appreciated cheap sports.  On the ship, a round of golf costs hundreds of dollars.  Yesterday, nine holes at a municipal course cost me ten. Tennis outings never seem to happen on cruise lines , but if they did, I doubt I could afford to go. Here a couple of bucks at the public courts gets me all the play I want.

Friends.  That really should come first.  My dance card has been so full with getting together with friends, and I have loved seeing every one of them, from people I have known forever, to others I just met on a recent cruise.

Familiar routines have been fun too—walks in the park with Dan, going to minyan at the synagogue, walking to the gym.  Sometimes I feel like a tourist, taking photos of Balboa Park, the golf course, even the American and California flags, as if they are something exotic. Which of course they are, with different eyes.

Overall, the feeling I have had is that I am still traveling, Even here. I lived out of a suitcase, didn’t have a car, and didn’t  set foot in my own condo.  That’s fine with me.  Seeing my life from a different perspective works both at home and wherever else I lay my head, walk my feet, or share my thoughts.