12 Aug 2019

Harstad, Norway 2019

Harstad is our northernmost stop this cruise. We crossed the Arctic Circle yesterday and still headed north.

Did you know that not all maps have the USA in the middle?
You can see what a beautiful day we had - no rain or wind and temperature in the mid sixties - and that is typical for this time of year.
Global warming factoid - It isn't happening this week, but if the Arctic ice cap melted it would raise the sea level around the world 20 feet.
These type ports are just fun for walking around. We did no touring today.
This area is one of the great spots to watch the Northern lights (Aurora borealis) because there is no pollution - light or otherwise. Don't try tonight though. The darkest they get now is some type of twilight. A month ago it was 24/7 daylight.
I think this thing is supposed to be some kind of art.
Dinner tonight was at yet another restaurant onboard, Setti Mare. It is particularly nice because they actually convert the nice breakfast/lunch buffet to a lovely Italian restaurant in the evenings. We are returning tomorrow.

10 Aug 2019

Bergen, Norway, 2019

Bergen is Norway's second largest city, yet quite quaint.
We traveled to Troldhaugen to visit the Edvard Grieg house, and to learn about his music.
The location itself quite beautiful on the outside as well.
Then it was up the funicular to the Mount Floyen viewpoint. 
We were a bit weather challenged. Since it rains here 240 days a year, that should not have been a big surprise for too many of the tourists. It's days like this that I enjoy sightseeing mostly from inside the bus.
Dinner tonight was at yet another elegant restaurant, Pacific Rim. You can guess the food type.

09 Aug 2019

Kristiansand, Norway 2019

Our first port was Kristiansand, on Norway's southern tip, across from Copenhagen.
We drove 20 miles up a scenic road to Lillesand and boarded the 80 foot SS Christiansand for a fun boat ride back through the Skagerrak Sea. Although the North Sea oil has changed the economy, it is all about beauty and a lifestyle along the water here.
Our group is enjoying the boat ride.
She just has to play with the merchandise.
Our ship.
We love onboard activities. Allyn took a French cooking class today.
Tonight we had dinner at Prime 7, an elegant steakhouse with elegant ambiance.

08 Aug 2019

Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Explorer

Allyn and I boarded Regent's Explorer today. It is the loveliest ship we have ever been on. Our room is sensational. We are looking forward to a great experience on our home here for the next three weeks.
The rooms are large and well designed, and quite pretty.
All of these photos are from our Cabin 901.

06 Aug 2019

Madrid, Spain 2019

Guernica, one of the most brilliant artworks ever created, and not coincidentally Picasso’s most famous painting is considered to be one of the most powerful anti-war paintings ever.
And that is the reason we found ourselves back in Madrid. Yesterday we took a trip to Reina Sofia Museum to study, view, and learn about Guernica.
We had such a good time and learned so much last year with our great guide Mr. Hernan A. Satt, partner (with wife Irina) of  Madrid Museum Tours. We were shocked and thrilled when they invited us out for a wonderful dinner at a deluxe local’s restaurant when we told him we were returning.
This 12 x 25 ft black white and gray painting just blows people away even if you understand nothing. You can spend all day looking at it. It doubly blows you away to have somebody explain it.
Early in 1937, the Spanish Republicans had commissioned Picasso to paint a mural for the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. 
Then on 26th April 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, Guernica was bombed by Nazi German and Fascist Italian warplanes on request of Spanish Nationalists. Picasso created this masterpiece in response to the bombing of Guernica. 
At least that is what is generally accepted. However, all Picassos are always about Picasso too. Many art historians point out this was a very sad period in Picasso’s life wherein he was in a funk over several love relationships. He produced almost nothing for the first three months of his commission and then cranked out this masterpiece in three months as he had the World’s Fair deadline date.
Note the three women in the painting. One would not grant him a divorce, one was so sad that he wouldn’t marry her, and one was involved in a love killing with his friend.
He was a genius.
Day two was a return trip to The Prado where we just did not have enough time last year. See last year's blog.
This time Irina was our guide. She was great also. 
It is so interesting to learn both the history of the time and the amazing art methodology that was being used. A couple examples:
The Equestrian Portrait of Charles V had such a profound effect on Spanish Art.
The Lovers of Teruel besides one of the great love stories and the detail delicacy such as the lace and pearls is incredible.
We love searching for and finding wonderful small local restaurants around the world and we hit a home run in Madrid near Opera. We had such a delightful dinner at Algarabia. I mean the food was great. There were only six tables. Two sisters own it and work all of it. Isabel is the hostess/server and Pilar is the chef. Dinner for two including wine - 70 Euros.