Alison J

Joined October 2016Living in: Portland, OR
  • Day8

    Prince Rupert, Canada

    July 5, 2017 in Canada

    The boys and I had a great time on a group kayaking excursion. I got a little frustrated towards the end due to being tired and not getting clear instructions, but Ben and Evan were both so supportive and helpful and I wasn't even the last one back. I had a nice talk with our young guide, Chelsea, on the way to and from the kayaking base on the bus. No photos from kayaking because I was afraid we'd lose something in the water.

    We met up with Chris and walked around the town a bit. This day made us want to drive up and explore British Columbia more.
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  • Day7

    Sitka, Alaska

    July 4, 2017 in the United States

    Notes on Sitka:

    Chris got to go mountain biking
    The boys and I wandered around the little town with my dad.
    We watched the little parade
    It was still bright out when we sailed away, so no fireworks to watch, but there was a nice party with live music that night on the ship.

  • Day7

    Tracy Arm fjord

    July 4, 2017 in the United States

    In the grand scheme of things, in this era of global warming, getting iced out of the Endicott Arm fjord so that we were unable to see the Dawes glacier could be viewed as a good thing. We didn't get to watch ice crashing into the sea, but we saw plenty of previously-crashed ice. And, as an added bonus, didn't hit an iceberg!

    It was a beautiful voyage up the Tracy Arm fjord. No complaints.

  • Day6

    Ketchikan, Alaska

    July 3, 2017 in the United States

    Ketchikan is an old frontier town with old wooden boardwalks and a street that used to house a red light district back in gold prospecting days. There are also many totem poles around town, and tourist shops and....that's pretty much it. Oh, and it rains a lot.

    Chris saw a place on the tourist map that said Eagle Viewing, so when we were on the free tourist shuttle bus, I asked the young driver about it. He squinted at my map as if he'd never seen his hometown laid out on paper before, and said, "Eagle Viewing area? I don't know what that is. I never look at a map here." (In a town of 8,000 people the locals don't generally feel the need to consult a map.)

    I said, "I mean, is it even... would there be eagles around, this time of year? Is it worth looking?"

    "The best place I can think of would be right next to E.C. Phillips," he said. "You might see some from there."

    "E...C.... Phillips?" I'm looking at my map.

    "Next stop," he said, starting up the bus.

    At the next stop, he told us to go over to what looked like a warehouse parking lot by the shore and look back towards the trees. We crunched across the gravel as the bus pulled away, and looked around aimlessly. Here, eagle-eagle.

    "Hear that?" Chris said suddenly.

    I had heard it, but hadn't quite registered it. An eagle cry. I turned just in time to see the eagle who had just shrieked above us, swoop in and land in one of the trees behind us. A tree that, now that Eagle #1 had so kindly focused our attention, we saw held 2 additional eagles. The tree next to it held two also.

    Before moving to the Pacific Northwest I never dreamed I would see that many bald eagles in my lifetime, much less all in one place. As we walked back toward town, our highest count was 12 eagles. We watched one clean his feathers, clear as day through the binoculars.

    Thank you, young bus driver who's never heard of the Eagle Viewing Area but knows where you might see some eagles.
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  • Day3

    Bon voyage!

    June 30, 2017

    We boarded the ship at about 2:00 and headed straight to the Team Grill for lunch, hauling all our stuff with us because we somehow missed the luggage porter. We found Kathryn and her family on the terrace, chatted there until we were able to get in to our cabins.

    After a fun afternoon of exploring the ship and watching the sail away, we found my parents, Kathryn and Dave in the horizons lounge. Then, dinner at the Polo Grill. The boys were feeling adventurous--escargots and lobster for Ben, lobster bisque and lamb for Evan. We celebrated Kathryn and Dave's 27th anniversary with a special chocolate cake, a serenade by the wait staff, and an impromptu speech by Dave. We topped the day off by attending the show in the lounge.Read more

  • Day1

    Itinerary

    June 28, 2017 in the United States

    This will be vastly different from my November cruise, though we're using the same cruise line.

    1) More family members!
    Kathryn and I are bringing our husbands and kids. I'm so excited to share this adventure with the whole family.

    2) More sea days
    Easy to do, since we had zero of them last time.

    3) Only 3 ports
    For this Friday to Friday cruise, we'll be off the ship on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I imagine there'll be stuff to look at on the other days. But I think it will be more relaxation and less adventure.

    One thing that may not be different?
    The weather.
    Alaska in July is looking mighty similar to the Mediterranean in November. 60s and rain, at least for the first bit.

    So, layers, then. Time to find my rain jacket and start packing!
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  • Day15

    JFK Airport

    November 11, 2016 in the United States

    I just left my sister at her gate and am eating a really salty Shake Shack burger while I wait for my flight to board.

    We had a smooth 1-hour ride from the seaport to the airport this morning, with a friendly driver who spoke excellent English. He talked about Italy, some of his favorite Italian wines, and his hope to visit America one day. Regarding Rome, he said that he's lived there all his life and, in his 60s, he still learns new things. "A lifetime isn't long enough to know Rome," he said.

    Now that I'm alone, reflecting on the trip, here are some final notes.

    My parents had several disappointments due to my mom's knee injury and my dad's cold--they were not able to do much exploring off the ship. They never once complained, so I will take a moment to complain on their behalf: no fair! We enjoyed dinner with them each night, and quite a few other meals, happy hours, and activities on board. It was lovely to have the extended time with them.

    My sister and I are well matched traveling companions and didn't get sick of each other once.

    The Oceania ship and crew were fantastic. The food was delicious and our suite stewardess, Carla, was attentive and so much fun. 10 days was a great length for a cruise and I can't wait to go again!
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  • Day14

    Herculaneum, near Naples

    November 10, 2016 in Italy

    Herculaneum is like Pompeii, except instead of being covered with ash when Mt Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, Herculaneum was buried in mudflow. The end result is that it's better preserved. A very cool site, we could have spent another hour looking around.

    We didn't end up exploring Naples at all, because we were hungry for lunch when we got back to the port from our Herculaneum tour, and then we felt like spending our last afternoon enjoying the ship. We had high tea, said some goodbyes, took care of some business, and packed. One more dinner, one more sleep, then back to reality.Read more

  • Day13

    Catania, Sicily, part 2

    November 9, 2016 in Italy

    As we headed north through the city in search of a restroom, I told my sister the story of how I discovered Nossa Familia espresso bar in Portland. The story is that I was in search of a restroom in Northwest Portland and decided to find a coffee house for that purpose. A little googling led me to the highly recommended Nossa Familia, and I walked in with enthusiasm, only to find that it had no tables and no restroom. I ordered a coffee anyway, and it turned out to be the best cup of coffee ever and that's how I found my favorite coffee place.

    So, I told this story to Kathryn as we were using Pee.place to find the nearest public restroom. We followed the map on my phone to the Greco Roman Theater where there was supposedly a public w/c, but when we walked in and inquired, the women at the ticket booth seemed a little perplexed by the idea. They asked (in Italian--there's much less English available here than in the other cities we've been to this trip) if we were buying admission. How Kathryn and I looked at each other, and looked at the bit of Roman ruins that we could see from the entrance, and I said, "This might be another favorite coffee shop situation. I think we should do it."

    And that's how we spent the next 1 1/2 hours exploring this fascinating, relatively recent archeological excavation. Houses had been built on top of the ruins throughout history, so the excavation was like decluttering on a grand scale, figuring out what was worth keeping and what had to go. Kept: parts of an 18th century house, walls from a 17th century house, Roman theater, Greek base structure, and artifacts found in the excavation of the site.
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  • Day13

    Catania, Italy, part 1

    November 9, 2016 in Italy

    We had a fabulous day in Catania, despite the pall of the election news hovering over us throughout the day. Dad has a cold and Mom is still uneasy about walking any distance at all, unfortunately, so it was just Kathryn and I once again. After talking with the local tourist guide, we decided to walk through the outdoor fish market first. It was charmingly boisterous, with the produce sellers and fishmongers hawking their catches-of-the-day.

    Past the market was the 13th century Castello Ursino, which is now a museum. We looked at the free part, but didn't pay the 10 euros for the museum of antiquities it houses.
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  • Day13

    Valetta, Malta

    November 9, 2016 in Italy

    Valetta is the port city where we arrived. We rode an open-topped bus to and from Mdina, which was slightly terrifying but with interesting views, when my eyes weren't squeezed shut against the dust and wind. We stopped at the Barrakas Garden at the top of the old city wall before heading down the lift to the port. We were treated to a gorgeous sunset as we waited for the boat to take us back to our ship.Read more

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