Saturday, May 11, 2013

Italy & Greece May 2000

May 8, 2000 – Monday

Italy! Rome! It better be worth it after the 9 hour flight. Not to mention waiting on the runway for 45 minutes in Detroit!
Didn’t get a stamp in my passport though. The line for the US citizens was very long, so they started a new one and he just looked at our passports and let us through-no stamp to prove I was here. Guess I’ll have to take lots of pictures.
The weather is nice. Not too hot. Our hotel (Hotel Caravel) is on the outskirts of town so won’t see much till the tour starts tomorrow. It costs 300 lira to use the air conditioning!
Slept for a couple of hours when we first got here. Then went for a walk and saw the ‘wall’ that surrounded Imperial Rome. Also saw the Roman Baths. Then took another nap!
Went on a mini tour of Rome. Saw Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Venetian Palace and ate dinner. 6 courses. Holy cow! Then saw Coliseum and Circus Maximus.
Tomorrow we are going to see the Sistine Chapel. Cool.

May 9th – Tuesday
I saw the pope!
We started out this morning by going into the Vatican. We went through the Vatican Museum and then into the Sistine Chapel. Very nice! Then our city guide – Stephania – told us we were going into St. Peters Square to look at St. Peters Basilica, but that it was closed and we wouldn’t get to go inside. But when we got there she saw that it was open and said we could go in and that we were very lucky because the Pope was inside giving Mass. Sow e went in and saw and heard the Pope! Cool- very cool! Then we went to the Coliseum and went inside and went to the Forum which is the ancient city of Rome.
Now we have free time to do what we want and it’s raining!
Didn’t go back our for free time. Stayed inside and read Vatican book. Ate dinner in hotel bar.
Tomorrow I see the Leaning Tower.

May 10th – Wednesday
Goodbye Rome! Left Rome this morning and drove to Pisa. Along the way we stopped for coffee and then stopped for lunch. Then we arrived in Pisa and saw the Leaning Tower. Absolutely gorgeous! Well worth the visit. I guess the other 100,000 people milling around thought so to! Gorgeous day too. Sunny and 85. Oh found out in Italy you have to pay 500Lira to use public restrooms. We are only talking 25 cents, but still!
Arrived in Florence at 5:30pm. Having dinner at the hotel and then will turn in for the night. Will do city tour tomorrow.
Ate dinner at hotel. Have to say so far not impressed with the food here. Had a calzone in Rome that was okay, but nothing else stands out. Tried gelato-ice cream- it was good but not like home.

May 11th – Thursday
Went on a city tour of Florence today. Started out at the Basilica of Santa Croce. Here is buried Michelangelo, Rossellini and Galileo. Then saw Duomo. It’s awesome! At the Baptistery is a door known as ‘Gate to Paradise’. Then we went into the Academia. It’s the museum that houses Michelangelo’s Statue of David. It’s awe inspiring. Then we walked around a lot and ate and shopped and went back to the hotel.
Ate dinner at the restaurant near the hotel. Finally something not Italian. Chicken and french fries. Ate gelato for third time today. It’s so good!
Tomorrow finally see Venice.

May 12th – Friday
Left Florence this morning. Stopped in Verona and did a city tour. Beautiful city. Saw Juliet’s balcony. Kinda nice.
Then went to Padua. Saw St. Anthony’s Basilica. Inside very nice.
Then got to Venice area. I say area because our hotel is ½ hour drive to Venice. Went on a Venice By Night tour. Saw St. Marks Square. Took a boat (not a gondola) ride. Very nice at night.
Tomorrow we go back to Venice. Should be fun.

May 13th – Saturday
Venice by day. Very, very crowded! Very pretty. Saw St. Marks Square and the Rialto. Ate lunch at McDonalds. Went to bathroom for 1000Lira! Took boat trip to Burano. Little Island off Venice. Venice is made up of 117 islands. Burano is where they make lace. Venice is known for its glass. Called Devin from Burano. Not the best connection, but at least I got to talk to my little guy.
Am running out of cash. Don’t let anyone tell you you can use a credit card (Visa) anywhere in the world. Not true! Am finding it hard to use my card in restaurants and shops.
Keith called twice tonight at 9:30pm. Was very glad to hear from him. Don’t want to know what it cost him to call though. When I called Devin I bought a phone card for 10.000Lira = $5USD.

May 14th – Sunday
Happy Birthday Keith!
Left Venice this morning. Stopped in Ravanna for lunch. Ate a pretty good pizza. Have I mentioned how bland the food is?! No spices!
Went to Anconna to board ferry to Patras, Greece. Ferry is named Super Fast IV. We are in an outside cabin #7019. Very basic but nice and roomy actually. It will take 19 hours to get to Greece.
Stayed at the bar pretty much last night. Very good looking Greek waiter – we called him gorgeous – but his name was Greek for George – close enough we thought.

May 15th – Monday
Didn’t want to get up this morning. The alarm went off at 8am though. We had to get breakfast this morning between 8-9am. Otherwise I could have slept longer.
Very cool out. No sun. Hope it’s only because we are on the water. Hope it gets better the closer we get to Greece. It’s raining now.
Arrived in Olympia and its still raining! Walked around in the rain shopping for a while. Then had dinner.
Tomorrow we see the ruins in Olympia. Hope it stops raining.

May 16th – Tuesday
It’s cold. It’s not raining, but it’s cold!
Should have known to very my sweatshirt to the Olympic ruins, but didn’t. Saw the ruins where the ancient Olympics were held.
Then drove to town of Nafplio and took pictures of the Palamedes – fort on top of hill. And pictures of Bourdzi Island – little island off the coast used to defend against invaders.
Got to hotel in Tolon , the Royal Flivos room #205. It’s across the street from the beach and awesome! The nicest one we’ve stayed in so far. Weather is very nice here too. Gonna go to the beach!
Didn’t swim, but mom and others did. Dinner was nice. Mom went for a walk afterwards but I went back to hotel and soaked in a bath!

May 17th – Wednesday
Left Tolon and went to a ceramic shop. Then went to the ruins of Mycenae. Very interesting.
Then drove to the Corinth Canal. Very, very interesting.
Then went on to Athens. So busy and crowded! Saw from a distance the Acropolis. Cool! Nice hotel too, the Acropolis Select room #111.
Walked up to the Plaka. Narrow streets with lots of shops. Was fun to shop.
Greek people who work in restaurants are very pushy. Everyone you walk by tries to stop you and get you in their establishment. If you didn’t go in they give you a card and say tomorrow for lunch, huh?!
Ate at a little family owned restaurant. Mom saw a bug on the wall-thought it was a cockroach. But Greece has so many bugs it didn’t bother me. The food was excellent!

May 18th – Thursday
Went on a city tour this morning. Saw the Olympic Stadium where they held the first modern Olympics. Went to the Acropolis. The Acropolis is the mountain area where the Parthenon is. Had to climb stairs all the way up to the top. Then went back to the hotel and rested. Got up and walked to the Plaka again.
Went to dinner at the local tavern. Very good food. Then went to a sound and light show of the Acropolis. That was very boring! But good view. Came back and went to the bar and said goodbye to everyone.

May 19th – Friday
Woke up at 2:45am! Am tired, but extremely happy to be going home!!!

Egypt 2005

Sunday May 14, 2005: Minneapolis to New York

Depart Minneapolis on a Sun Country flight at 6:30am arriving New York JFK at 10:05am. Took a shuttle van to the Millennium UN Plaza hotel. Went sightseeing for rest of the day.

Sunday May 15, 2005: New York – Cairo
After more sightseeing in New York, caught an Egypt Air flight at 6:30pm to Cairo, Egypt.

Monday May 16, 2005: Cairo
Arrived in Egypt at 1:00pm. After getting our luggage we went to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities. Then we checked into our hotel, the Sonesta Cairo Hotel for the night.

Tuesday May 17, 2005: Cairo-Abu Simbel- Aswan
Caught a morning flight to Abu Simbel where we explored the Great Temple of Ramses II. Then we flew to Aswan where we checked into our hotel, the Movenpick Island Resort. That evening we took a felucca to a Nubian village and went to the bazaar.

Wednesday May 18, 2005: Aswan-Kom Ombo-Edfu
We visited the High Dam in Aswan and then we went to the Temple of Philae. Then we checked on board the Mojito for our 3-night cruise down the Nile. We stopped in Kom Ombo and visited the Temple of Sobek.

Thursday May 19, 2005: Edfu – Luxor
We stopped in Edfu and took a horse drawn carriage the Temple of Horus. Back on board the Mojito we sailed through the Esna Lock towards Luxor.

Friday May 20, 2005: Luxor
In Luxor we visited the Valley of the Kings, Temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir El Bahair and saw the Colossi of Memnon. We had a private dinner in the dining room to celebrate my moms 61st birthday.

Saturday May 21, 2005: Luxor – Cairo
In Luxor we saw Karnak and the Luxor Temples. Then we flew to Cairo and checked into the JW Marriott.

Sunday May 22, 2005: Cairo
Today we went to old Cairo where we saw the Hanging Church, Ben Ezra Synagogue & the Kan El Khalili Bazaar. Then we visited the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx.

Monday May 23, 2005: Cairo
We spent the entire day relaxing poolside at the JW Marriott.

Tuesday May 24, 2005:
Departed Cairo at 10:00am and arrived back home at 9:00pm. It was an 11 hour flight from Cairo to New York!

Disney World 2007

Darla & Judy attended an Education Trip to Disney World in June 2007. They attended classes and visited a bunch of the hotels for site inspections and all the theme parks. They also went over to Port Canaveral to see one of Disney's crusie ships, the Disney Wonder.

Monday, June 25, 2007 –
We arrived in Orlando and transferred to our hotel, Disney’s Board Walk Resort. We meet up with the rest of our fellow travel agents and headed over to the Coronado Springs Resort for a site inspection. After the Coronado Springs, we headed over to the Caribbean Beach Resort. Then it was on to Epcot for a Welcome Dinner. Then it was a Dessert Party on the UK Terrace where we watched Illuminations. The rest of the evening was on our own and we spent it at Epcot.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007 –
After breakfast and morning classes at the Board Walk Resort, we headed out to the Pop Century Resort for a site inspection and lunch. Then it was off to Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Fort Wilderness Lodge & Villas at Fort Wilderness for site inspections. The Grand Floridian was our last site inspection of the day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007 –
We had a Character Breakfast at Cape May CafĂ© at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy & Chip & Dale were there. From there we did the Keys to the Kingdom Tour at Magic Kingdom. Then we went on to the Polynesian Resort for a site inspection. We then had classes for a couple hours but after that we got to spend time at the Animal Kingdom Park.

Thursday, June 28, 2007 –
After breakfast and classes at the Boardwalk Conference Center, we took a Disney Bus to Port Canaveral where we toured the Disney Wonder. After that we headed back to Disney World and did a site inspection of the All Star Music Resort and Blizzard Beach Water Park. That night we ate at the Sci Fi Dine In Restaurant inside Hollywood Studios.

Friday, June 29, 2007 –
After breakfast we graduated from Disney’s College of Knowledge. Mickey gave us our diplomas!

China 2006

March 8th & 9th, 2006, Wednesday & Thursday

13 ½ hour flight not as bad as I was thinking it would be. Much better than Egypt Air! United had individual movie screens at each seat. They then played at least 5 different movies throughout the flight. I barely slept and didn’t read any of the magazines I brought. They served more food too. The 1st meal was American – chicken or beef – we had beef – bad choice. Hours later the 2nd "meal" was noodles & a cookie. The guy sitting next to me said "let the conversion begin". I said " you will be assimilated. Resistance is futile". Then for what I thought should have been breakfast we had a choice of chicken & noodles or pasta. I had pasta-another bad choice.
Upon arrival in Beijing we were met by someone from Viking River Cruise. Took a private BMW to the Hotel Beijing. City buildings are all the same drab color, nothing exciting. Note to self – Beijing cross walks not the same as back home, nobody stops for you. I almost got hit coming out of the airport and then when I narrowly escaped the bus there was a car gunning for me! No seat belt laws here either. Hotel is quite large. But when we got to our room the key wouldn’t work. Wrong room. The key card said 6209 but it was really 6219. Nothing on tv in English but CNN. Walked around by the hotel. Went into a shop and got "mugged" to buy stuff. Ate in the hotel.
Forgot to mention about the flight here. It was light the entire time we were flying. And right before we landed they announced they would come through the cabin and spray everyone for bugs and airborne viruses. One of the stewards came around with looked like a Lysol can. I said if I see a steward with a hazmat suit on coming around to spray us, I was out of there!

March 10th, Friday
Saw the Great Wall. Wow! It’s impressive and very hard to walk up. It’s so high up in the mountains it’s hard to catch your breath. Tina (our tour guide in Beijing) asked if we wanted to up the easy way or the hard way. Basically same view, just on the easy side there are more people and on the hard side less people. We chose easy! There were a lot of people. I can’t imagine it during peak tourist season. Speaking of peak season, it’s not. It’s cold. Well not so cold as at home, but cold. No snow. 45 degrees in Beijing but colder at the wall.
After the wall we went to a Jade Factory for lunch. Lunch was unusual to say the least. Then we went to the Silk Market for 2 ½ hours of shopping. But I didn’t like the feeling of being "mugged" so we only shopped for 2 hours. Came back to hotel and slept for 1 ½ hours then went to have an authentic Peking Duck dinner. That was fun; different. Shopped some more on way back to hotel. Went to bed at 10:00pm last two nights but keep waking up at 2:00am and tossing and turning until 4:00am when I finally get up. Very dry here. Nose and throat hurt when I get up.

March 11th, Saturday
Drove past Tienamen Square. Couldn’t get out and walk it because it was "closed". Dignitaries in town or some such stuff. Got out and walked the Forbidden City. Walked, and walked, and walked. It’s 250 acres! It was neat though. Then went to airport to fly to Chongquing. Chongquing reminds me of Las Vegas. All the buildings are lit up. The city is so clean here to. So far Beijing and Chongquing airports and city have been very clean!
Let me tell you about getting on the Viking Century Sky! We pulled up and right outside the "bus" was a drop off. Our guide from the airport to the boat – Jonason- said there was 140 steps to go down to get to the boat. He said when we get off the bus there will be men wanting to help you down the steps or carry your bags, or both. If you need help, by all means use them and tip them a couple dollars. If you don’t need help firmly say no. Well mom needed help so she had two guys helping her! I didn’t need help and they left me alone. But I have to say those 140 steps were "Oh My Gosh!" They were wide open, no rail and it was a loooooong way down. And then when we got to the bottom we had to walk across rocks for a couple yards before we reached the gangplanks, which were wobbly. I thought it was fun – but I can see some people who wouldn’t. Handicapped accessible it is not!
Dinner on the boat was great! Shining is our waiter – she’s fun.

March 12th, Sunday
Couldn’t figure out the hair dryer or how to drain the water in the bathroom sink. Luckily a cabin stewardess was outside our room and helped us! Breakfast was buffet, but it was not unlike Beijing breakfast.
We departed Chongquing this morning at 7:30am. Wow we are going fast! It’s rainy but that explains why it’s so green along the river.
The Century Sky has two glass elevators, facing outside. If you don’t think you get motion sick on a "cruise" try stepping into a glass elevator, on a ship, that faces the water.
We attended a Yangtze River talk. Fact; 3rd longest river in world beaten only by the Amazon and Nile.
Went on the Snow Jade Cave excursion. Can I just say "Oh My Gosh! There were 200 steps to get from the ship to the parking lot. Then when we got to the Snow Jade Cave we had to practically climb a mountain to get to it. Then inside there was 800 steps!! All in all we did about 1200 steps that day! Boy was I beat. The cave was beautiful though!

March 13th, Monday
Woke up today to beautiful scenery. We are coming up to the Three Gorges.
Interesting side note: In the dining room for breakfast they are playing a jazz version of the Little Drummer Boy! "Shore excursion" today was Lessor of the Three Gorges. Wow! Gorgeous! Awesome! Hope the pictures turn out. It was overcast.
This is our third night onboard. We depart tomorrow.
When we departed we sailed through the Second Gorge. Absolutely stunning.

March 14th, Tuesday
We docked last night be we didn’t get off the ship until 2:00pm. Then we went on a dam excursion. It was interesting, but it made for a long day. We ate breakfast from 7:00am-9:00am, then stayed onboard for lunch, then got off at 2:00pm. Did the dam excursion then went to the airport to fly to Shanghai. We landed around 9:30pm and I went to bed at 11:00pm. Still not adjusted to time, but I slept till 3:30am instead of 2:30am!

March 15th, Wednesday
Got out of bed at 5:30am. Going sightseeing today. Last of the shopping!
Shanghai is very modern. The saying in China goes "If you want to see 100 year old history go to Shanghai. If you want to see 1000 year old history go to Beijing. If you want to see 2000 year old history go to Xian (we didn’t go to Xian though).
Saw the Bund and old Shanghai – the China Town in China. That was neat. Old buildings and gardens. Then shopped for awhile in old town. Then went to Westin Hotel so everyone else could rest. We went shopping on Ninjing Road though.
Then we all went to the Children’s Palace. It’s not a palace but a school for gifted students where they learn calligraphy, painting, opera, drawing, etc. Then we had dinner – Chinese again! Then we went to Shanghai Acrobat s how. That was amazing!

March 16th, Thursday
Whole day of leisure. We leave for airport at 3:00pm for our 7:30pm flight. Not really looking forward to 13 ½ hour flight!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Music Tour 2007

Thursday September 6th

We left the cities heading into Wisconsin. We spent the night in Champaign, Illinois at the Baymont Inn & Suites. En-route to the hotel we stopped at a Bob Evans to eat dinner.

Friday September 7th
We arrived in Nashville today and went directly to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Afterwards we checked into the Holiday Inn – Brentwood for 2 nights.

Saturday September 8th
This morning we toured downtown Nashville. We got to see the Ryman Auditorium and Studio B. Studio B is where may hit’s were recorded, including Elvis Presley’s "It’s now or Never" and "Little Sister", and Dolly Parton’s "Jolene" and "I Will Always Love You". We had lunch on board the General Jackson Showboat on the Cumberland River and Tim Watson entertained us. Afterwards we toured the Opryland Hotel and then had free time to shop at Opry Mills. We also visited the Grand Ole Opry Museum. And then we enjoyed a performance at the Grand Ole Opry. Performers that night included; Porter Wagoner, Blue County, The Whites, Jennifer Hanson, Wade Hayes, Buddy Jewel & Jess McReynolds & The Virginia Boys.

Sunday September 9th
We left Nashville this morning and took the Natchez Trace route to Tupelo, Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis Presley. There we saw his boyhood home and visited a small museum. Then we checked into our hotel, the Fitz Casino and Hotel in Tunica, Mississippi.

Monday September 10th
In Memphis this morning we stopped at the St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Then we went on to Sun Studios where Elvis Presley recorded many of his hit records. Later we went to Beale Street for some time on our own. We walked down to the Peabody Hotel and saw the ducks. Then it was on to Graceland where we toured Elvis Presley’s home.

Tuesday September 11th
We made it to Branson this afternoon. We went to Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theatre Complex and had dinner and saw the classic cars in ’57 Heaven. We also saw Paul Revere and the Raiders and Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers.

Wednesday September 12th
This morning we saw the Lowe Family Morning Show and then headed towards Springfield where we stopped at the Bass Pro Shop for lunch and shopping. We also stopped at the Osceola Cheese Shop on our way to Lenexa, Kansas where we stayed the night.

Thursday September 13th
We stopped in Des Moines, Iowa at the Machine Shed for lunch and arrived back home this evening.

London & Paris 2009

Thursday August 20, 2009

9:00pm we board our flight to London. Not nearly as long or as bad as the flight to Sydney! Kim was accidentally served a kids dinner, at 11:00pm no less! I ate that. It was chicken nuggets and tator tots – not half bad.

Friday August 21st
Arrived London 11:30am. Luggage did not ): By the time we filed a lost luggage claim and got to the hotel – Grosvenor- it was 3:00pm! The hotel lobby is sic! Wow, it’s nice. Room is fine. We immediately left our hotel on foot and walked to & saw:
Buckingham Palace
Big Ben & House of Parliament
London Eye
Westminster Abbey
We got back to the hotel at about 6:00pm. Not a bad little walking tour. Saw a lot and the hotel is in an awesome location. We met our tour guide, Konrad, and the rest of our companions at a 7:00pm welcome reception with drinks and hor de orvers. Then we had dinner – steak and fries. We shopped a little after dinner and were in bed at 10:30pm.

Saturday August 22nd
Woke up at 5:45am. Not bad. I slept all night! Went to see Stonehenge! Pretty cool. Took picture of me and Druid from SWORD: Sacred Warrior Order of Rival Druids. Then we went on to Salsbury that has a very nice cathedral that houses 1 of the 4 Magna Carta’s. Then drove on to Bath and toured the Roman Baths. VERY beautiful city.

Sunday August 23rd
Left Warwick and headed to Stratford-Upon-Avon and toured the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Also saw his wife Anne Hatheways’ house. Saw the cathedral where he is buried. Then went on to Wedgewood and ate lunch and toured the shop and museum. Then it was on to Cheshire and toured the midevil town. Walked along the wall surrounding the town. Then it was on to Port Sunlight for dinner at the Bridge Inn, which has haunted rooms in the basement. On to Liverpool for the night.

Monday August 24th
Toured Liverpool – home of the Beatles! Then went to the lake district: Windamere & Grasmere. Went to York. Had tea and scones. Walked to a huge cathedral called Minster. Went to Evensong in the Cathedral.

Tuesday August 25th
Walked around York. Then drove to Cambridge. Had lunch in a park in Cambridge and then left for London. Had dinner at really nice pub called Alberts. Got back to hotel and walked across the street to see Big Ben and House of Parliament in the dark all lit up. Went to bed for 4:30am wake up call.

Wednesday August 26th
4:30am wake up call came early enough! Off to Paris for 2 nights! We took the Eurostar/Chunnel and arrived Paris at 10:11am. Took the Metro to the hotel, it cost 1.60Euro. Room wasn't ready so we left our luggage and walked to the Eiffle Tower. Took about 10 minutes. From there we bought a 2 day ticket for the BatoBus. 12Euro for 1 day and 16Euro for 2 days. The BatoBus goes down the Seine and you can hop on and hop off at different stops. We went to Notre Dame and went right in and had a escorted tour around the cathredal. Then we hopped back on the BatoBus and went back to the hotel. After a quick nap we walked up the Eiffle Tower again and watched it in dark. It's contstantly lit up at night, but every hour on the hour they have sparkelding lights go off for about 5 minutes. We walked back to our hotel and went to bed (after walking down our hallway with no lights on!)

Thursday August 27th
Woke up at 8:00am and took a shower in the worlds smallest shower! Had breakfast at the hotel and walked to BatoBus and went to the Lourve. 9Euro to get in. Saw the Mona Lisa (as did HUNDREDS of other people!) and the Venus de Milo. Got back on BatoBus and went to the Champs Elysee. Walked up, and up, and up to the Arc de Trimophe. From there we walked to the Tocadero and took pictures of the Eiffle Tower. Then walked back to our hotel and passed out from exhaustion!

Friday August 28th
We flew home.

Saturday August 29th
I worked in the office from 9:00am-1:00pm!