Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Stockhom stroll enjoyable, refreshing

Pedestrian walkway between two streets in Stockholm, Sweden

Cruises are exhilarating and they can be limiting.

Both are good points.

Bulletin board

On our Baltics Sea cruise in early May, we made port in six countries. They were all new countries to my wife and I.

That was exhilarating.

The limiting part of such a trip, if that I feel that for one to get a better feel for a community, one must spend a night in that particular place.

We did overnight in St. Petersburg, but our two-day tour kept us on the go and at the end of each day, we were so tired we were not interested in any nightlife. As is the case with Russia, cruisers couldn’t just get off the boat and amble around on their own.

There were limitations and requirements. And that was OK, under the circumstances which we were involved in.

Apparently I wasn't meant to go into this area
But with other countries, that was not the case.

And after my wife fell and injured herself after leaving Helsinki, she was was not able to do anything touristy the next day in Stockholm.

That’s when I ventured out for a couple hours on my own and managed to walk through a portion of the area on the outskirts of the downtown area.

Typical grocery store such as is in most countries

During the whole course of my excursion, there was a very light rain falling, but not enough to interrupt it.

I meandered around huge fields, down through a residential area, then a park, a McDonald’s, a grocery store and a very pedestrian friendly walkway between two streets.

Since it was May, the daytime temperatures were mild and enjoyable.  There weren’t any restrictions on my travels, but I didn’t journey more than about a couple miles from our ship the Norwegian Sun.

Colorfully dressed small ones taking a morning stroll 

In planning for the trip, my wife and I talked about visiting the Abba Museum, but that didn’t happen.

Sometimes things just don’t work out.

Hope you enjoy the pictures from my jaunt around town.

Next post: Sept. 1, 2015


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Can a vanilla latte be a cruise highlight?

Enjoying a vanilla latte as wife enjoys hot chocolate in the Star's Grand Atrium coffee shop

I enjoy a vanilla latte. It is now my go-to drink.

I order them all the time at our local coffee shop and when I travel and was expecting to do the same on our Baltics cruise earlier this year.

We were on the Norwegian Star sailing out of Copenhagen, Denmark in May.

My first trip to the coffee shop in the Grand Atrium was a small disappointment.

I wanted a latte, a vanilla latte, but upon reaching the counter, I perused the flavors and didn’t see it.

“You don’t have vanilla, do you?”

The reply was in the negative, along with something along the lines of “Do they make that flavor?”

Looking over the assortment, I discovered that “You don’t have coconut either?"

On further inspection of the flavors I said, "Make that a hazelnut latte, then.”

The barista worked his magic and produced a good tasting latte although I wished it had been vanilla.

I had a good bit of on-ship credit to spend during the next nine days and I was disappointed that a lot of it would be spent on hazelnut, which is OK, but just not my favorite.

I expected to visit the coffee bar at least three times a day for the rest of the cruise which is a lot of latte and a lot of disappointment.

But I decided to accept my lot in life and enjoy the hazelnut.

But that wasn’t the case.

Upon my return later that day, to my surprise, I noticed a bottle of vanilla flavoring had appeared.

For someone who likes their latte — vanilla style, that helped make my day and my cruise. For hardcore coffee drinkers of which I am apparently one, that is a big deal!

Thanks so much to the barista who took the effort to go and find the vanilla somewhere and have it available to make my cruise even more special.

Next post: Aug. 25, 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Owls add to entertainment during trip

One of two owls that made an appearance at our campsite at Elkmont

Owl offers a more evil look
Another summer has come and is almost gone.

But we did make a pilgrimage to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the Tennessee/North Carolina border for a week of camping in July with our children, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, brother and sister and their spouses.

It was a great time, with temperatures, as expected, to be in the mid to high 70s in the day and hovering in the mid 60s during the night.

Sunny days gave way to rainy skies on a couple of occasions.

I like to say that “a rainy day in the Smokies is better that any day anywhere else.”

We ventured into Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville to find the temperatures there to be 15 to 20 degrees higher.

That’s why I like the 2200-foot elevation of the Elkmont campground -- always a little bit cooler.

Didn’t see any bears this year, although part of our contingent did. Another surprise was the fact that some owls were spending time around our campsite. They stayed stationary long enough to get rather close for some pictures.

Tubing in the river, taking walks, having a campfire and making smores added to the pleasure for our group.

The days quickly passed and then it was time to get back to reality. Ugggh.

Next post: August 18, 2015

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Cagney's steak just melts in one's mouth

Cagney's on the Norwegian Star offers great food
I like to grill steak at home.

But it is usually sirloin or T-bone. Not the more expensive cuts.

I thought I knew what a good steak tastes like.

But it took a piece of meat on the Norwegian Star to change my mind.

During the Baltic Sea cruise with my wife back in May, we enjoyed being able to participate in the specialty dining venues.

There was La Cucina, Cagney’s, Le Bistro, Moderno and Teppanyaki.

On our second night out, Cagney’s was our choice. And it was also our choice two more times.

It was a steak house. And I chose a steak, the filet mignon, along with a baked potato and broccoli with cheese. The meal was preceded by a nice salad and followed by ice cream.

I didn’t know what to expect about the steak, but couldn’t believe my taste buds upon putting that first piece in my mouth.

Those who have traveled the world, and experienced more upscale restaurants, may say that the steak was OK. 

But to me, it was wonderful. Cooked just right and unbelievably, it just seemed to melt in my mouth.

The other times we visited Cagney’s I ordered the 1 lb sirloin and then went back to the filet mignon, this time the smaller size.  They were all great.

My wife and I had the Norwegian experience a few years ago on a cruise out of New Orleans. We thoroughly enjoyed the dining options and their "free style" and that’s why we cruised Norwegian again, because I enjoy being able to just have a “table for two.”

Next post: Aug. 11, 2015