26 Aug 2019

Copenhagen, Denmark 2019

Today was major for Allyn. Her absolute very closest high school friend, Mette Dam, was an exchange student from Copenhagen. Almost fifty years later, they were able to spend the day together today.

From the ship, we were able to walk to the iconic Little Mermaid sculpture.
We decided to spend some time on the Hop-on Hop-off bus to just take in the sights allowing the ladies to chat with one another.
The changing of the guard is fun to watch wherever it takes place.
Then we visited beautiful Tivoli Gardens for a traditional Danish lunch.

24 Aug 2019

Amsterdam, Netherlands 2019

Since we have done extensive Amsterdam touring over the years, we decided to take it easy today and mainly enjoy its loveliness.
Our one major sightseeing event was at The Hermitage Museum. It was ok but, in my opinion, not nearly as compelling as The Van Gogh or The Rijksmuseum. I was interested because it was connected with The Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
The Romanov portrait tableware, although gorgeous from the early 20th century shows how tastes were determined by the royal elite. That certainly changed. 50 years later the same factory was making Suprematist porcelain.
Although not at all a political commentary, we find the old stuff way more elegant.
Allyn got a kick out of the malachite table they had on display because it looks so much like ours at home.
We like ours better.
My favorite was 3Three Guys Pissing. (That is my name for it. I don't know the real name. Maybe it is Four Guys Pissing).

Most of our time was spent out and about in their beautiful waterways. Some call Amsterdam The Venice of the North because of its 1500 bridges and beautiful architecture.
Some of the houses can't decide whether to lean left or right.
Amsterdam is known for its 2,500 houseboats. FYI many can be rented via airbnb.
Since the houses are so narrow furniture cannot be carried up from the inside. In fact even walking up is a chore. Therefore hooks are installed on the outside to hoist things up.
Amongst all the beauty, it was chilling and important to cruise by the Anne Frank House so that we don't forget out history.

23 Aug 2019

Bruges, Belgium 2019

Guest Blogger - Allyn Shulman

Bruges is a magical city that will mesmerize you and leave you wanting more. Its history and architectural footprint is so rich that it is a UNESCO World Heritage City.  



Bruges is distinguished by its canals, cobbled streets and medieval buildings.

It has maintained its historic fabric with Gothic, Medieval and Renaissance buildings, even as it has evolved over the centuries. 

Tucked in the Southern most corner of Bruges is one of the most romantic places in the world, The Lake of Love where today we find swans instead of merchant ships navigating these waters.




The Church of Our Lady dates mainly from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. Its tower, at 379’ is the tallest structure in the city and the second tallest brickwork tower in the world.  Inside the church is a famous white marble sculpture of Madonna and Child by Michelangelo, made in 1504.




The Market Square  (Markt) was the scene of mediëval festivals, fairs, tournaments, uprisings and executions. Today, the square serves as a meeting place for the locals with 3-4 million yearly visitors. The most striking building is the Belfry, a medieval bell tower with 47 melodious bells.  It leans quite a bit but our guide assured us that it’s not a problem.




In the Market is the beer museum and brewery. Belgium has more than 250 active breweries, the most famous being De Halve Maan which has a beer pipeline that runs from the brewing hall in the center of Bruges through a tube of 3276 meters to the bottling plant outside the city, The beer is wonderful, as are the moules and frites!! The story about beer is so interesting.  In ancient times, the local hospital was on the water and dumped everything in the water polluting it beyond use.  Therefore, the locals made very weak beer which everyone drank all day long!!





Bruges is often called "the Venice of the North", referring to the numerous canals and bridges on the river "Reie where only 20 boats are permitted on the canal at once.




The Flemish Primitaves (Groeninge Museum) has paintings from the 14th, 15th and early-16th Centuries. World-renowned works of Jan Van Eyck, Hans Memling, and other prominent Flemish Masters can be admired there.



21 Aug 2019

London - Victoria and Albert Museum 2019

We had a day in London and spent it at The Victoria and Albert Museum.
It is still awesome to see Buckingham Palace even if it was just on the way. What a beautiful day we had today.
The V&A is the world's largest museum of applied and decorative arts and design. It is the so vast, interesting, fun, and eclectic. 
The very first thing you see when you walk in is a magnificent huge piece from Dale Chihuly that is 27 feet high and 12 feet at its widest. 
This is what they wore for an evening out in the mid 1700s.
The museum is so huge it has the actual real rooms from various places taken down and rebuilt insde the museum. This is a music room from a castle.
The have all kinds of miniature things. One of my favorites was the snuff boxes.
A large section is dedicated to real items used in theater such as the horse, and so many outfits used during performances from personalities such as  Fred Astaire, Elton John and Bjorn Ulvaeus (ABBA).
We saw Charlie Chaplan's real cane and Cinderella's ugly stepsister's outfits. Then there was Vivien Leigh's Oscar for Best Actress.
Queen Victoria's diamond and sapphire coronet was quite nice.
They have an entire room devoted to cameras.
There are so many full life reproductions of famous sculpture that you don't even need to leave London to see and learn about them.
Imagine a young Mozart playing a harpsichord like this one.
I could keep going on because they have over 2,270,000 items. You get the point.

20 Aug 2019

Oslo, Norway 2019

Being sick is the pits. It is nice to be back up and around. It makes one appreciate health even more.
We spent most of the time walking around Oslo's beautifully revitalized waterfront. It seemed like the entire city was out today.They have such a variety of street food vendors which really jazzes things up.
We had the best salmon ever at a place called The Salmon - sushi, salad, appetizers, grilled ... It was so good that both of our friends with us who are major fish restauranteurs (Chart House Waikiki and The Original Fish Company in Los Alamitos) are arranging for recipes, sourcing and whatever restaurants do with each other. And these folks search worldwide for the very best product.
Best sashimi ever.
They had a great film on the Norwegian salmon industry. Since 70% of the world is covered with water and only 3% of the food supply it makes lots of sense to devote significant resources in this area.
Allyn even bought a salmon skin purse there. I hope she doesn't accidentally eat it.
Last time I visited Oslo, their Resistance Museum left such an impact that I just had to return with Allyn. It is fascinating to see the chronicling of German occupation impacting an entire country and the steps folks would go to to try to help the cause.
It is absolutely chilling to see how close the Nazis came to winning.