At Sea, last day of the 2019 ATW cruise

July 4, 2019

When we meet people in the ports they always ask where our cruise is going – and when we say around the world, they are almost always shocked at that answer.

It is hard to believe we are completing our third ATW and each one seems to go faster.

So here we are on the last day.  More of the ATW passengers are staying on until Miami or now beyond with the special deals that were offered, so those of us disembarking in NY are in the minority which should make for an easy departure.

So, last night we had the cocktail party with the officers, the gala dinner and then a party in Horizons with the crew.  Norm didn’t make the late night party – but I had a great time. Everyone danced until late at night

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These four guests were congratulated for their contributions  of pictures, etc., on social media.IMG_5648IMG_5649

More cocktail party fun with Charlie, Vic and Stephanie.

IMG_5640Here is the menu for the dinner.  Mario went all out!

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Some of my friends in Horizons late night.

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Today there was a July 4 barbecue on deck from 11:30 – 4 and a huge and delicious cake in the Terrace Café.

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Here’s the map of our journey and the crew of the wonderful Insignia.

2019 ATW map

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Can’t wait till next time.

Posted in At Sea, Food, July, World Cruise 3 | 7 Comments

Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

July 3, 2019

Well, sad to say, this is our last port before we reach New York. It has been an amazing trip. I will still have a post tomorrow about our Around the World cocktail party and Farewell Gala Dinner as well as the July 4 festivities.

Today we are in Saint John, New Brunswick.  It was a bit foggy for our sail in this morning but then the fog cleared and it was a beautiful day.

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They have a market set up in a tent on the pier next to the ship. There was a duo playing and singing.  The woman had a beautiful voice.

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We walked around the town and saw these painted salmon in many spots. Each one had a different pattern and they were painted by different artists.

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There are really beautiful craft shops here (and in all of the Canadian ports we visited).  We browsed around in them and marveled at the talent on display. Nice place for Norm to wait for me as I shop!

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We spent some time in the Saint John City Market which is sort of a small version of the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. It was constructed in 1876 and narrowly escaped the devastating fire of 1877 which makes it the oldest continuously  operating farmer’s market in Canada. The roof was designed to resemble the inverted keel of a ship since Saint John was a leading shipbuilding center at the time. Food, crafts, fresh produce, meats, fish, etc. on display.

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Looks like it is strawberry rhubarb pie season here!

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Dulse is a kind of seaweed.  I never heard of it before today.

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Further up the hill from the market is Saint John’s Square, a small but beautiful park.  The square was designed in 1848 in the pattern of the Union Jack to express the city founders’ loyalty to England. Just across the street is the Old Loyalist Burial Ground.  We spent time in both – very peaceful here.

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The city is quite hilly, and very charming.

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Here are two pictures from Marie and Ken’s party on Sunday.  And Henry shared the video he made – which I know I can’t post from the ship, but will put it on the blog when we get back to Philadelphia.

IMG_5628IMG_5604This is our Captain with Ken, Marie and us.



Posted in July, North America, World Cruise 3 | 2 Comments

Halifax, Nova Scotia

July 2, 2019

Last night in Horizons, there was a Canada Day party. The entertainment team did songs by Canadian artists and the chefs made these adorable beaver cupcakes and also the traditional beaver tails.  You can see that I did  a pretty good job on the beaver tail!

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Today we were in Halifax which is the Capital City of Nova Scotia.  I am sure my readers know that Nova Scotia means New Scotland, and there are Scottish influences everywhere in this city, starting with the bagpiper that greeted us on the pier!

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Our sail in was beautiful and it was a beautiful sunny and warm day.

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We have been here before and have done whale watching and the Titanic cemetery, so this time we chose to walk the extensive harborside boardwalk, shop, visit the botanical garden and have a lobster roll lunch.  We checked them all off!

There were two other ships in port today, the Queen Mary 2 and the Celebrity Summit.  They were both docked when we came in so we had a shuttle from the ship to the port gate where the other two ships were docked.   A 3 minute ride, but you cannot walk through the port.

Here are some of the sights along the boardwalk.

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There is a beautiful shop of Nova Scotia crystal, so we stopped at the glassblowing and cutting studio to watch the process.

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The craftsmen there said it takes 10 years to become a master. 

Some more sights on the walk.  Loved this tugboat! And Norm is “cool as a moose!”

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This is the city hall.  There are beautiful flowers all over the city.

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We walked up the hill to the Citadel which is an 18th century fortress.  The views from there are really nice.

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The next stop was the botanical garden which had the most lush and beautiful rhododendrons that I have ever seen.  The rest of the flower beds were so nicely done that we spent quite a bit of time both walking and sitting in this garden.

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We stopped in to see St. Mary’s Basilica.

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We had lunch outside on the waterfront at the Waterfront Warehouse Restaurant.  Delicious lobster roll! And, Mike, thought of you with all these varieties of oysters!

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Two attempts to frame the lighthouse through this sculpture.  Not too successful, but it was a nice thing to see.

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Yes those are hammocks on the pier!

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Samuel Cunard statue outside the Cunard building. He was the founder of the shipping company.

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In case you were wondering about kilts…..

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Only one more port tomorrow before our sea day and then return to NY. 


Posted in Food, July, North America, World Cruise 3 | 1 Comment

Sydney, Nova Scotia

July 1, 2019

Yesterday we had the White Elephant Auction of items that the world cruise passengers donated.  Ray was a terrific auctioneer! He even modeled some of the items as he auctioned them off.  Here are a couple of pictures of the mayhem!  It raised $2500 for the crew welfare fund, and they couldn’t even get to all of the donated items within the time limit. Some people bought some of the items that were left and the rest will be donated.

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We saw a whale just off the ship today – too quick to take a picture.

We were also invited to a cocktail party hosted by a fellow around the world guest, Marie.  And she was surprised at her own party by a video of crew members wishing her a happy birthday.  She is very fond of bananas – here is an ice sculpture that was made for the party – a banana with a space for champagne to flow through it!  And there was a beautiful cake in the shape of a suitcase with a globe on top of it.  Lovely time.

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We went to the late night cabaret featuring one of our entertainment team, Charisse.

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Today we arrived in Sydney,  Nova Scotia to a cool and rainy day.

Here are pictures of our arrival into the port.

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It is Canada Day today so the shops, banks, etc. are closed.  It is very chilly and rainy so we decided to just go to the local markets which open whenever cruise ships are in port.  They had such lovely merchandise and all were wonderfully friendly.  They gave us Canada pins and even had cake to celebrate the day! With many crew and passengers visiting, they went through two cakes!

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The huge fiddle is the world’s largest – 60 feet tall – and pays homage to Cape Breton’s Celtic heritage and fiddle music.

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Here are a few pictures from the shops.

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And one of a silly guy in a kilt!

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At lunch on the ship there was a Canadian flag and the dessert that Vic and Stephanie gave Mario the recipe for – naniamo bars.

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Ray said we will be having the traditional beaver tails in Horizons tonight, so we didn’t buy any at the port, but they did have them there. All kinds.

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Well, we started our packing.  Sad smile There is a sea day the day before we get to NY, so we will finish then.

There is a saying that is sometimes attributed to Dr. Seuss:

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

We have to keep remembering that – it will be hard to leave.

 


Posted in Food, July, North America, World Cruise 3 | 2 Comments

St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

June 29, 2019

I didn’t have my phone with me when we watched Aleks complete her half marathon in the gym. Here are some pictures that Mary Anne sent me of her finish.

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Last evening was the second of two receptions for Oceania Club members and it was (sadly) our last of this cruise.  Three of our entertainers, Amy, Cherisse and Mason, performed and were great as usual.

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We had a great group perform last night – The Shamrock Tenors from Belfast.  It was their second of two shows.

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Today we visited our first port in 4 days!  The Atlantic crossing was, as Ray said, the smoothest he has had in his 26 years at sea.  Foggy, but very smooth sailing.

Our first port in Canada, St. John’s,  is the capital and largest city in Newfoundland, Canada.  It is our first visit to this city – we have been to Cornerbrook in Newfoundland twice before.

National Geographic Magazine named St. John’s one of the world’s top ten oceanside destinations.

Our cruise director, Ray, told us there wasn’t much to see here, and that “both Tim Horton’s will be open” but the dining room on the ship will be too (the Grand Dining Room is usually closed when we are in port.) He said most of us will probably be back by noon so that’s why they are keeping the dining room open! And “there is a dog on the pier”.  Those are the highlights he mentioned.

Here is our sail in and indeed it is a beautiful place.

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The architecture here is very different in style from the rest of Canada since it was one of the first British colonial capitals and is the oldest city in Canada. Then the great fire of 1892 destroyed most of the downtown core so most of the buildings date from after that. It is often compared to San Francisco due to the hilly terrain. The houses here are painted in bright colors and the city council has strict heritage regulations. Water Street is thought to be the oldest street in North America and houses many historical shops, restaurants and galleries.

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We planned to walk all around the town today – it is still a bit chilly but the sun is shining brightly. We were greeted by this young man playing the guitar.

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There was a dog on the pier – Molly – a Newfoundland, of course.  We both had to meet and greet her.  Her owner said that there are many volunteers who bring their dogs when cruise ships arrive.  She gave each passenger a Newfoundland pin with the namesake dog on it.

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The people here are very friendly and there are volunteers stationed near the ship and also in the churches to tell you about the city and give directions.

IMG_5390IMG_5395This is the Supreme Court Building

IMG_5392Beautiful lilac tree.

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The picture above is from the Total Abstinence Society.  They don’t look very happy, do they?

There are 6 impressive churches here and we visited two of them.   The Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was first. It is beautiful – very impressive.  The organ is a highlight here. And the walls are of stone almost 5 feet deep.

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The second church is the Basilica of St. John the Baptist. Confusing, but this is the Catholic church. Very different design. The outside is in the foggy mist!

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Here is a picture of the outside of one of the others. And a plaque that names each one.

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Most of our morning was spent in the amazing cultural center called The Rooms.

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To read more about The Rooms, you can click the link.

The Rooms

It is easily one of the most beautiful and well designed museums I have ever been in. It houses the Newfoundland Museum, the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador.  There are exhibits about sailing, native Inuit people, seabirds, the fishing industry and maritime art just to name a few.  The floor to ceiling windows provide a beautiful view of the city and the harbor.  Here are the views.

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Who knew there were Mummers here?  I thought that was a Philadelphia thing!

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Gander, Newfoundland, is where the planes were grounded after 9/11 and is the subject of the play we saw in NY – Come From Away.

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The exhibits all have these touch screens in front of them with explanations of all of the numbered items.

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There was a special exhibit called Beyond Bone by Billy Gautier who used bone, antler, and other native materials in his art.  It is intricate and really amazing.

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This exhibit allows you to create a tweet and it is printed out on this crazy piece of equipment.

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You couldn’t photograph many of the permanent exhibits, but the animal ones were able to be photographed.

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We spent several hours here. Then, we walked around the streets, shopped and had lunch in the Celtic Hearth on Water Street.  Believe it or not, we had this huge nacho platter.  Nothing like this on the ship!

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The restaurant used to be a pharmacy.

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Here are a couple of other sights from around town.  Awesome candy shop.

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And these two signs…

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We have a sea day tomorrow, then two ports in Nova Scotia and one in New Brunswick before heading back to New York.


Posted in Food, June, North America, World Cruise 3 | Leave a comment

At Sea Crossing the Atlantic

June 27, 2019

Today is day 3 of our Atlantic crossing.  We have a lot of end of cruise activities happening and will have even more before we disembark in New York a week from tomorrow.  I know, it is hard to believe and very bittersweet for sure.

So, here is some of what’s been happening.

On Tuesday, our first sea day, we had an Around the World gathering at 9:15 with specially made doughnuts and other pastries, coffee and tea.  Tricia (Around the World Hostess) put together a group of childhood pictures of some of the officers and entertainment staff and we had to guess who each one was.  A fun way to get the group engaged.

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On Wednesday, we had the Around the World raffle and auction.  The huge mural that many passengers worked on was auctioned off, and Frank del Rio, the CEO of the cruise line, had put in an opening bid of $2000 and it sold to him for $5000.  It will be on display in the corporate offices in Miami.  There were lots of auction items including the official charts of the 180 day voyage, pictures of the entire crew, certificates to take crew members of your choice to dinner, lunch or breakfast and many other items.  In all, the auction raised over $24,000 for the crew welfare fund which provides gifts, excursions, etc. for the crew. There was also a ship’s flag autographed by all of the crew. There is even an item to be cruise director for the day.  Marie Ross won it and donated it to Sukey and Chris.  That will happen on July 4 and they will do all of Ray’s job that day!

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In addition, Aleks, one of the passengers who also conducts the yoga classes on sea days, is trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon and is in training.  She ran a half marathon on the gym treadmill and people gave money, also for the crew welfare fund. She raised over $2400. Ray called her up after the show to thank her.

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Yesterday, I won the blackjack tournament.  It has been a while since we even had a tournament as we only have them on sea days, and quite a while since I have won.

Tonight we are invited to dinner in Toscana with the Staff Captain, Stjepan, and the Environmental Officer, Ivo and also both today and tomorrow we are attending the Oceania Club cocktail parties.

Still to come – a cocktail party and dinner for the ATW guests where the lounge and dining room will be reserved for us and Mario (our executive chef) will have a special dinner.  He has hinted that it will be spectacular.

I should also mention that Oceania has decided to eliminate plastic water bottles and is using the Vero system for water.  It is used in many hotels and it is very good.  Very soon all plastic bottles will be eliminated on all ships.

Our friends Stephanie and Vic who are from Canada, have given their daughter’s recipe for a dessert that is served on Canada Day (July 1) to Mario and he has been testing it so it can be served that day.  It is called nanaimo and we got the chance to taste it when we were having dinner with them and Mario brought out a sample for them to taste.  Delicious.  Can’t wait until Canada Day. I don’t think most other cruise lines would even consider doing this.

There will also be a White Elephant Auction where around the world guests can see what they bought that they don’t really want to take home and can donate for the auction (also for the crew welfare fund).  I remember this from the 2017 trip. Ray is a great auctioneer and it will be a lot of fun.  Some of the segment guests can buy stuff from ports they never went to!

There will be a big July 4 party and also a cocktail party on Sunday hosted by one of our fellow guests.

So, there is no end to the celebrations during the next week.

All of the entertainment team will be having cabaret performances in Horizons at cocktail hour – we started last night with Amy who did the female divas.  Excellent!

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Many guests who were scheduled to leave in Miami were offered great deals to stay on since the Cuba ports have been cancelled so a lot of passengers who booked those cruises cancelled to.  Some friends will be on until the end of July at very little cost. 

We will definitely miss all of our friends and the crew on board. We will be back for a segment next year and around the world again in 2021.  Life doesn’t owe us any refunds, I always say.  We feel very fortunate to be able to explore the world this way.

Posted in At Sea, Food, June, World Cruise 3 | Leave a comment

Cobh/Cork, Ireland

June 24, 2019

Last time we were in Cobh, we went to the Titanic Museum. Cobh was the last port of call for the Titanic before it sailed into the Atlantic.  We did the whole Titanic experience last , from Belfast where the museum is a start to finish experience, to Cobh to the cemeteries in Halifax.

Here is our view as we sailed in.

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Today we decided to take the train to Cork since we didn’t visit there before.  The train station is right outside of the port area where the ship docks so it was very easy.  The ticket was only 10.30 pounds round trip and the train runs every half hour and takes only 24 minutes to get to Cork.

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The forecast was for rain today but to our surprise it turned out to be a delightful sunny day.  Not even as cool as Dublin.

When we got to Cork, we walked around before getting on the hop on hop off bus to get a perspective of the city. Of course, we visited the 400 year old English Market.

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We heard that this fearsome creature is a monk fish.  Eeek.IMG_5297

Cork is divided by the River Lee. It flows through the city in two main channels so you find yourself constantly crossing beautiful bridges.

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Cork was once fully walled and now you can see only remnants of the wall.

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There are two cathedrals in the city; St. Mary’s Cathedral and Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral.

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We also passed the Shandon Bells Tower of St. Anne’s Church.

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The old jail is interesting.  It was eventually made into a women’s jail and the men’s was at the bottom of the hill.

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St. Patrick’s Street is the main street of the city and it is a pedestrian friendly route. There are lots of shops and pubs.  Here are some of the sights.

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We had lunch in the English Market – delicious.  Also bought a scone there – there were way too many good things to sample.

This is the Cork City Hall.

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We took the train back and I had a stroll through Cobh.  It is also a delightful place.  Very small but charming.

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There is a lot of Titanic memorabilia here. 

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And a beautiful waterfront.

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Before we left Cobh, we saw these people in period dress on the pier.  We also saw colorful houses, remains of the fort and this lighthouse as we left the harbor and Ireland for our Atlantic crossing.

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Posted in Europe, June, World Cruise 3 | Leave a comment

Dublin, Ireland

June 23, 2019

Well, readers, I found out how fast things will post when I didn’t add the pictures yet!  Apologies for the Liverpool notification, I quickly deleted it and then added the photos.

I am catching up on three days of fun in the UK and Ireland. They have been very full days and I didn’t post each day.

On our last trip to Dublin, we did a fun pub day with 6 friends and a paid driver/guide, of course.  We did Guinness, Jameson and three of the Temple Bars.  Lots of fun.

Today we opted to take the hop on hop off bus to see more of the city, have lunch at a pub and do a bit of shopping. The forecast was for rain, but we only saw a sprinkle on our way back to the ship so again we lucked out on the weather.

Dublin is the capital city of Ireland and is a thriving city.  It has been redeveloped over the last few decades.  There are lots of cranes and new buildings but in the old city center there are lots of churches, monuments and pubs.

More than a third of the population of 4 1/2 million lives within the Greater Dublin area. They boast of 650 churches and 800 pubs, so in typical Irish fashion, our guide told us they have their priorities straight!

We docked on the River Liffey which divides the city into the Northside and the Southside. 

There is a bridge that looks like a harp – we could see it from the ship.

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We also spotted the stadium.

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We took the shuttle bus to the National Gallery area and boarded the hop on hop off bus there. 

Two spectacular churches are nearby – St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral which are Protestant since the Reformation.

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The Custom House is a huge and beautiful building.

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Guinness is so much a part of Dublin – it is a must see for visitors. These cylinders each hold 750,000 pints and they export to 120 countries.

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Their symbol, the harp, is interesting.  Ireland wanted it as their symbol, but Guinness already had it, so the country pictured it the opposite way and now each has a harp facing the opposite direction!

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IMG_5059This is a memorial statue of Oscar Wilde, the Irish poet and playwright.

Trinity College is Ireland’s oldest college. It is located on a prime 40 acre tract of land in the center of Dublin.  The world famous Book of Kells is located here.

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The beautiful Phoenix Park is a place we never visited before and it is huge.  For perspective, it is 2 1/2 times the size of Central Park in NY, and also the entire country of Monaco would fit inside the park.  There are polo and cricket fields, and we saw many people walking and running there.  The lamps are gaslights. There are also many deer here, but we didn’t spot any.

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The US ambassador’s residence is in the park as is the home of the Irish President.  The residence looks quite a lot like the US White House.

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The park also houses the Dublin Zoo.

Here are some other sights in the city.  The statue of Molly Malone is an icon as are many of the beautiful pubs with their flowers.

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IMG_5151This hotel is owned by the band U2.

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Until today we didn’t realize that the Euro coins are different from each country that uses the Euro.  Here in Ireland the harp is on their coins.

Now it is on to our last city on this side of the “pond”, Cork.  Then we will have the 4 day Atlantic Crossing to Canada.

Posted in Europe, Excursions, June, World Cruise 3 | 2 Comments

Belfast, Northern Ireland


June 22, 2019

Here we are in the furthest northern spot that we have been all this trip!  It stays light here until almost 11 PM.

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Our tour to the Giants Causeway isn’t leaving until 1:15 PM today so we headed into the city of Belfast for the morning.

Belfast has a population of 270,000 in the inner city.  It was once rated one of the world’s 4 cities to avoid (Belfast, Beirut, Baghdad and Bosnia).  This is largely because of the “Troubles” that dominated Northern Ireland’s politics for almost three decades from the late 1960’s.  Due to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, in recent years it has undergone a remarkable transformation.

The docklands, where the Titanic was built, are undergoing massive redevelopment.  Where there used to be over 36,000 workers, there are now only about 500. The Harland and Wolff shipyard is an icon and these cranes can be seen for miles. Our guide said that one is named Samson and the other Goliath by the locals.

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Last time we were here, we did the whole Titanic experience, including the great museum they have here.  Today we took the shuttle into the city and spent some time at the wonderful market here.  It opened at 9 AM so we came here first and we were glad we did.  This market has everything from prepared foods to fresh fish to beautiful crafts and jewelry.

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We bought some of these delicious scones – couldn’t resist. And they were worth the calories for sure. IMG_4833

We also spent time in the beautiful City Hall where there are 14 different rooms of exhibits.  Very worth a visit.

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We had lunch on the ship before leaving for Giants Causeway.  Guess what they were bringing on for our English Pub night dinner?

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Our guide today was Adrian.  He was a lot of fun, and carried on with a whole string of stories about the superiority of the Irish over the Scots. 

The drive was about 2 hours through beautiful countryside. 

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Then on to the Giants Causeway.  This is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1986 and is Northern Ireland’s most famous landmark.

It was formed between 50 and 60 million years ago by an ancient volcanic eruption, but it takes its name from the legends of the giant Finn MacCool.

There are over 40,000 basalt stones and we climbed up on many of them.  There are several unique formations.

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the bootIMG_4970

and really just the interlocking columns that you see everywhere.

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There is a relatively new visitors center that was built in 2012 and you can take a shuttle to the stones.  We walked both ways instead of taking the shuttle.  You get an audio guide to give you information at many of the numbered places along the trail next to the stones.

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We had plenty of time to walk, take photos, and visit the center at the end.  Even time for a bit of refreshment.

On our way back, we passed the golf course – the Royal Portrush – where the British Open will take place next month.  They are very busy putting up stands, etc.  Hard to get good pictures.  Adrian said that this is the golfer,Graeme Mc Dowell’s home course.  The wind off of the Atlantic Ocean makes this quite a challenging course.

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Adrian told us that Northern Ireland is the world’s most deforested country – only 0.8% is forested. This is due to the invasions in early days when Britain wanted to become a super naval power and knew that conquering Northern Ireland would give them plenty of wood to build more ships.  They cut down most of the trees and they have never been replanted.

Adrian had a lot to say about Scotch Whiskey vs Irish Whiskey and of course prefers Irish which stays in barrels to age for 3 years and 1 day.  He says the Scots were too impatient to do proper distilling and they roasted the barley too quickly, this is why Scotch Whiskey smells smoky.  It isn’t distilled three times like Irish Whiskey is!!He says that the Irish should have never told them how to make whiskey because they screwed it up!!

We had a photo stop for Dunluce Castle which is largely in ruins now. You can see how magnificent it once was though.

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Our last stop was along the Antrim  Coast to Ballycastle.  The coastline is just gorgeous and people say it is one of the world’s most spectacular unspoiled sights. We had a view of the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge that spans a chasm that is 98 feet deep. This was once a bridge that had only one rope because fishermen who were carrying their gear on their way to do salmon fishing had only one hand to hold on. Now that it is mostly a tourist destination, there are two ropes. Our tour didn’t include going across the bridge, we just viewed it from a distance. That is a lighthouse on the cliff.  Here the light is at the bottom because the fog often covers the top!

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There was a woman in an ice cream truck (lovely soft serve vanilla). It is called a poke – an Irish slang term. Of course I sampled it!

Back to the ship for a very late dinner.  Again, still a little light at almost 11 PM!

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We had the English dinner in Terrace Cafe tonight and really enjoyed it.

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