April - June 2017
  • Day52

    Home is very Sweet Home

    June 10, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Last blog...it is 4:00 am and jet lag is messing with my internal clock. We are glad to be home in DeLand and soon to NY. Some simple pleasures I have missed...a fresh mug (large) of brewed decaf coffee, wash cloths and hand towels, more than one bed pillow, familiar, readable signage (although we were gradually getting more proficient), free public toilets, the clothesline out back, etc. But we loved the new experiences, sights and sounds (except for the gun shots in Paris) and are already planning another "expedition". First, there are places in the USA off the beaten track that we have on our bucket list. Would love to hear about your favorites. Signing off, for now. Gin and DanRead more

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  • Day48

    Notre Dame - we are safe just barely

    June 6, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    After a lovely reunion with my second cousin Laura, Nancy and their daughter Ari at Montmartre, we returned to the Left Bank across from Notre Dame Cathedral​. As we entered the plaza in front of the cathedral, it began to sprinkle. Since we were just recovering from being drenched with a cool rain and small hail while walking down the steps from Sacre Coeur, I asked Dan if he wanted to enter the line to visit Notre Dame although we had been at that same spot yesterday taking the typical tourist photos and reading about the cathedral. He declined to go inside so we stopped momentarily to put on our rain gear. We cut through the waiting line and had just entered the street leading back to our apartment when we heard 2 gunshots. Looking over our shoulders, we saw hundreds of people either hit the ground or run in all directions, mainly toward us. Everyone was screaming in panic. Dan grabbed my hand and told me to run, but with my knee problem, all I could manage was a slightly faster shuffle. People ran past us like we were standing still while gendarmes were running the other direction back toward the cathedral and sirens were blaring all around us. Needless to say, we are thankful for the timing that allowed us to be 10 seconds away from a terrifying incident. From what we can read in French on TV, there was one assailant armed with a hammer and yelling "C'est pour Syria". Not sure if this made the news in the states but it seemed to be a major but brief event here in Paris in light of recent terrorist attacks in Europe. We are safe and glad to be returning home on Thursday.Read more

  • Day47

    Paris

    June 5, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    We have been blessed with beautiful weather on this trip. Reservations for a nighttime visit to the Eiffel Tower was the best idea ever! Today we are being lazy tourists by riding around on a bus. My bad knee finally decided to scream at me after all this traveling but I am hobbling around quite well. Not posting pictures because I cracked the screen on my phone. I guess this means that it is time to go home. We are ready! Au revoir.Read more

  • Day43

    Ieper, Belgium

    June 1, 2017 in France ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Explored World War I sites yesterday including British and German cemeteries. The countryside is so peaceful today so it is hard to visualize the devastation from 100 years ago. The town of Ieper (Ypres) was virtually bombed to rubble but has been rebuilt to look as original as possible. Every evening at 8 the town holds a memorial service at the Menen Gate to honor the 90,000 soldiers who died and whose bodies were never recovered. Thousands more are buried all across the area in beautiful cemeteries that are meticulously groomed. Workers were on their knees tending the flowers beside each headstone, carefully pulling weeds one at a time. Today we drove south through beautiful farmland in France, had a brief stop in the seaside town of Honfleur and meandered through several quaint villages on the way to our cozy accommodations in an apple orchard in the Calvados region of Normandy. I would love to just sit here for a day, reading and relaxing and listening to the birds but more sightseeing awaits! We will be home in a week😚!Read more

  • Day41

    Bruges

    May 30, 2017 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    In case anyone is concerned about our having fun on our trip, don't worry! Bruges is wonderful and the beer is tasty. We like the city much better than Amsterdam. Add Bruges to your bucket list.

  • Day39

    Monnickendam

    May 28, 2017 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    After fighting the city crowds and a brief heat wave yesterday, we are biking in the countryside north of Amsterdam. We found a cafe in the shade for coffee and apple pie (with the whipped cream, of course). Our lodging is a garden house on a canal near Amsterdam. (Our hostess Zita and her daughter, Erna are pictured) Found it through Airbnb - a first experience and very pleasant so far. We are using Airbnb in Bruges and Home Away in Normandy and Paris. We are remembering our fallen soldiers this weekend and during the week, too. Wednesday we will attend a remembrance ceremony in Ypres for the 90,000 soldiers who were lost in Flanders during WWI and will be tracing my father's path in the area during the war almost 100 years ago. Dad was born in 1896 and joined the Calvary in 1917, trained in Augusta, GA, and was sent overseas in 1918. His diaries and letters are intact along with a map and memorabilia from his service. Precious artifacts from a war that doesn't receive much notice.Read more

  • Day37

    Copenhagen

    May 26, 2017 in Denmark ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C

    Renting bikes from the hotel was a perfect way to maximize our time in Cooenhagen, especially on a holiday with less traffic. Christiania (the alternative living community) with a path along the water, the opera house, Rosenborg Castle, lunch on a busy square, Christianborg Palace and the Royal library. At one point we heard the roar of voices near a canal and discovered a massive football celebration with yellow dust being thrown in the air. Police presence was obvious but we quickly left for quieter places. Topped off a delicious Danish dinner with waffle cones. Yum! The weather has been ideal although I hear that rain may be upon us in Belgium. Today we are walking to a weekend antique/flea market before our flight to Amsterdam. I would definitely come back to Scandinavia again to experience more rural areas but we have enjoyed the cities, especially Helsinki.Read more

  • Day34

    Stockholm

    May 23, 2017 in Sweden ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    The ship docked about 45 km from Stockholm so we took a bus into the city. Took a boat cruise and walked around for a few hours. Found an antique store (my kind of day) and the owner's husband walked us to his basement antique shop in the old town. Dan and I enjoyed browsing but didn't buy anything.Read more

  • Day33

    Helsinki

    May 22, 2017 in Finland ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Exploring some of the 1952 Olympic venues today, among other sites.

  • Day32

    St. Petersburg

    May 21, 2017 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    This visit has exceeded out expectations and we are thankful for our guide, Elena, who has sheltered us from harm and given us a crash course in Russian history and culture for 2 days. The palaces and churches are gorgeous beyond description and the art in the Hermitage was breathtaking.Read more