This Is A First

I am sure that sounds pretty strange coming from me since pretty much everything Catherine and I do is a first.  We really don’t like to do the same thing more than once.  Unless it is a marathoner, 64 for me and 78 for Catherine.  However we rarely do it more than once in the same place.  

We do like to go on cruises but then again usually to different ports of call but mostly on Windstar Cruise.  What I mean about the first, in this case, I mean, I am not going to write this blog as the trip develops.  I decided to wait till we get back to ATL and write it from my memory.  For me, it was time to switch things up so it will be interesting to see how this works out.

I do love writing about our adventures as we run all over the world but I was finding myself thinking about what I was going to say about wherever we were instead of totally enjoying the experience.  It was as if I was writing each experience in my head.  It was not that it was distracting but at the same time I wanted to try a different approach to my writings.

I will use the  pictures that I take along the way to jog my memory and if there were none of a particular area then it must not had been note worthy.  I also found that I was taking time out of the day that I could have been doing something exciting rather than sitting down at the computer writing.  I must admit, most times, I do write while waiting for the plane, train, etc or while in flight or the various other modes of transportation.

This 38 day trip started in Amsterdam, on to Athens Greece where we met up with our favorite Cruise Line Windstar Cruise for a 7 day cruise of the Greek Isles.  From there we went to Crete for a week.  On to Copenhagen for another 11 day cruise with Windstar.  That will be week number 15 with them, for us.  This time it will be the Norwegian Fjords and Scottish Isles ending in Edinburgh.  Back to Amsterdam to decompress before our daytime flight back to go old ATL.

I did manage to wait until I got on the plane back to ATL before I started writing about our latest adventure.  I must admit it was full of firsts for us and maybe I will remember a few of them along the way.  It was a flawless trip, which always helps.

Someone asked me what was the one thing that was the hardest about traveling all the time and also what was the easiest.  For me it is always thinking about money.  For most folks, that are on vacation, they may think about it during that period of time but for us, this is our lifestyle, so I need to keep track of all expenses as they occur.  

I do have a pretty good system, however, instead of just enjoying the meal I tend to think about how much it is costing.  I am not a penny pincher, by any means, but will make decisions based on cost,  most times.  As an example, is that excursion for $179 per person worth it to see another castle on a hill.

For Catherine it is the food choices.  Her digestive system is a bit tricky so going from place to place is somewhat difficult.  If they have Salmon and sweet potato fries she is good to go.  I can eat just about anything just as long as you tell me exactly what it is.  Don’t just tell me it is meat.

The easiest part is talking about our travels.  We use to just tell people that we are from ATL and if they seemed interesting then we would go into more detail about our nomadic lifestyle.  On this trip we switched it up and told everyone that asked where we were from that we are nomads.

Catherine pointed out after a few days that we meeting and talking to a lot more people than usual.  I guess we seemed interesting to them and so they hung around to hear more.  I sometimes come across as aloof when I first meet people so I also tried to be more inviting.  Catherine was also more engaged so that was also a plus.

Over the years we have gone back and forth on how to tackle the trip to Europe.  When we first started we would just press on with a connecting flight to our final destination in Europe but over time we realized it was easier on the body to stop over for a few days before pushing on.  Since time was usually not a factor we would sometimes stop in Paris or Amsterdam. 

Marriott has very nice properties near the airport in both Paris and Amsterdam.  Amsterdam has our all-time favorite, Renaissance hotel, near the Central train station which is only a 20 minute train ride and a short walk.  They have trains leaving every 10 minutes from the airport.  The one near the airport is also adjacent to a great park.

We had a bad experience with Air France back in March and they use Paris.  They lost Catherine’s bag for over 20 days.  I won’t to go into detail here but if interested that was in a blog called, We haven’t been everywhere, but it is on our list.

For this trip we stopped in Amsterdam in both directions.  We stayed at the Renaissance in center city for three days going and the one near the airport on the way back to the states.  From Amsterdam we were off to Athens Greece to meet up with our all time favorite cruise line Windstar.  On this cruise they were using their smaller sail ships which holds about 148 of our closest friends.

During this cruise we meet up with my sister, Gwen and my sister-in-law, Joan.  Catherine had been looking forward to this trip as long as I have known her so that we could visit Santorini.  We have been to Athens several times in the past but never to Santorini.  During this cruise we also visited the islands of Nafplio, Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos, and Monemvasia.  To put it simply they did not disappoint.

They use to go to Istanbul but I did not complain since while we were on the island of Kusadasi, Turkey we had our signature dinner outside the library of Ephesus.  That was a magical event and a once in a lifetime experience.  Windstar had it closed off to the public and the sunset during the event was over the top.

Donkey steps down from the top of Santorini

Moon rise over Santorini as we sail away, magical

After the cruise we met up with two of Gwen and Joan’s friends, Vicky and Patricia  and rented an AirBNB on the Island of Crete.   I did not realize how large an island it was and the area we stayed in was called, Rethymno.

While there we enjoyed two farm to table dinners.  One at Arkadi, which included dancers.  There the meal included 23 different dishes to sample, all from their farm.  The other one was just as good and was cooked by a local family.  They did not speak much English but our neighbor was there to translate.

One day we took a ferry to two very popular beaches, Gramvousa and Balos in the area.  They are both uninhabited and pristine.  It was a day long trip with a few hour stop at each beach.  Several large ferries make the trip each day and there was not an empty seat on our boat.  The first stop you could hike up to a fort to some incredible views of the beach below.

We were able to get in some good runs and walks while in Crete but just like anywhere else it was time to move with our next destination of Copenhagen for two days prior to our once again  This time thru the Fjords and the Shetlon Islands to Edinburgh.  This cruise was 11 days and made stops in Oslo, Norway with an overnight. Bergen and Flam Norway.  Lerwick, Stornoway, Kirkwall and Invergordon UK.

The Hotel in Copenhagen was not like anything I had ever seen before and once again there was a nearby park for us to run in.  This time we were on one of their power ships and now we had 210 of our closest friends.

The infamous mermaid statue above

I would say the majority of the folks were there to trace back their ancestors from the area. I stuck out like a sore thumb even though my 23 and me DNA says I am 20 something percent British and Irish, United Kingdom.  On the plus side there were a dozen crew members that remembered us from previous cruises.  Also this was the last of their 6 ships for us to cruise on.

I had people come up to me and ask the usual, do you play basketball questions, are you 7 feet tall.  One person thought I was Italian while another asked if I spoke English.  Still another thought I was African royalty.   As usual I took it in stride and just chalked it to, they need to get out more.

I must say these mid 70 pushing 80 folks sure did get around and did not miss an excursion.  On the other hand Catherine and I saw the country side by foot.  There was a lot to see but I am sure we missed many a castle or fort but that was okay by me.  Catherine and I were glad we got to see that part of the world but doubt if we would ever go back.

Oslo Opera house

Head chief mugging in the background in Flam

On board entertainment

A few of our new best friends

When we arrived in Edinburgh it was festival time and you can’t go there and not walk the Royal Mile, visit the Edinburgh Castle or see the world-famous, Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, performance in the temporary stadium they build each year.  Back to what I said earlier the 30 buck admission fee to the Castle or the several hundred dollars to watch marching bag pipers, Tattoo, did not make the cut.  They showed a 7 minute video on the ship, which you can see here.  Seemed like a half time show with guys in kilts to me.

Edinburgh Castle

I must admit they have great public transportation in Edinburgh.  They have busses everywhere going every which a way.  There is an Airport bus that runs right by our Marriott hotel near the airport to center city and the monitor screens on the double-decker bus gives the next stop information and sign language when the audio is describing the stop and what connections that can be made.

The bus on the way towards the airport also displays flight information which is handy.  The festival which is called fringe, that I mentioned earlier is basically all sorts of bands and acts that are performing during the month of August all over town.  They even have a thick free guide to list all the times and places.  There are also banners for such acts everywhere.

With two days under our belt it was back to Amsterdam for two night at the airport Marriott.  They are completing their merger with SPG so the website was not up to snuff but that was soon forgotten by the upgrade to a corner room, free welcome drinks and 40 buck food and drink vouchers for the two nights.

3  hours left on this 9 hour flight with two meals in the bank with one more to go.  We were doing Delta Comfort on this day flight back to ATL which is comfortable enough but Delta has started a new system where they only upgrade folks with global upgrade certificates which we have already used our 4 each for the year.

They use to upgrade others in order of status on International flights but now are willing to fly those seats empty in order to encourage folks to buy them or use miles.  If it was an overnight I would have considered it but as I said these seats are comfortable enough.  Since we did come inbound from AMS we were selected for an extra Customs check which included our bags being X-rayed and electronically sniffed for drugs.

We are back in ATL for 11 days with Catherine doing an Olympic distance triathlon outside ATL on Saturday.  That consists of a 1000 meter swim, 18 mile bike and 5 mile run.  My tri days are over.  I am training with her but I really don’t like riding a bike for more than 10 or so miles.  We will probably run down to Athens to see my District Commissioner, daughter, Mariah while there.

The 1st of September we are back at it for 23 days.   First to LA for a night then Loretto, Mexico for a week.  Back to LA for a few days then we meet up with our cohorts in Hawaii with a five island cruise.  I have mentioned them many times and you can read about the a recent adventure with them at, what is a land based running cruise?  We will be doing a half marathon in Kona on the Ironman course while on the island.  When that seven day cruise concludes we are back to LA for three nights where my son, Aaron and his fiancé, Kelsey will drive down from San Diego.

Undecided how I like this new way of writing to this blog.  It does have some advantages and probably is much shorter without all the daily commentary.  I am sure it has the same number of pictures but this is my first run thru while in flight.  I will most likely expand upon it while in ATL before it is actually published.

I usually go over it several times anyhow to smooth out the rough spots.  It was nice to just experience the trip but must admit I could not help myself from thinking about what I was going to say about each experience.  It does on the other hand seem a bit cut and dry so hopefully I can spice up later, or not.

I had mentioned that this trip was full of firsts but I realized that that simply how we roll.  Too many to mention.  I remember before I retired I use to say to myself I want to do something I have never done before.  Sometimes days would go by before I could come up with and idea of what that might be.

Now that happens several times a day.  No thought required just go with the flow.  All I need to do now is not think about money so much.  It is not like we are living on a budget but when the savings are gone we will have to settle down and live on our pensions and SS.  I am not ready for that to start next year so that is why I keep such a close eye on the all mighty dollar bill.

On the other side we are running out of places to go.  I did run into a couple that told me about an that goes Cario-Cairo and probably have a dozen other places I would like to visit.  I am big into familiar named places and have run into many people that have been places that I have not heard of.

I am not that adventurous to do on my own.  I will probably go if is going like we will to Bagan Temple in November.  The trip to Buthan with them was outstanding and you can read about that trip at, Nomads, noun, people who wander from place to place.  Next year I am looking at staying place for a month in several places like St Kitts, Amsterdam and maybe someplace in Mexico.

Outside the store called the Old Man


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