So I’ve finally broken the code. The way to travel in Europe, especially France, is to be basically be in denial the whole time. Just think of everything in dollars and just forget about the exchange rate. So a Coke is 4 euro. A coke at a bar in DC is going to be 4 dollars. So it’s the same. Remember, denial, denial, denial.
Which doesn’t completely work in Nice. My last full day in Nice I decided to hit the plage (the beach). The beach runs down the full length of the bay in Nice. It’s not a very deep beach, maybe only 20-30 yards, but it’s all rocks. A mixture of little pebbles and decent size rocks that makes it tricky (not to mention painful) to walk on. I decided to opt for one of the private beach areas. I got a “discount” from my hotel for the Sporting Club de Plage so it was only 17 euros. Plus 5 euro for a towel. But I got a lounge chair, an umbrella, and waiter service. I got settled in, lubed up with my various SPF leveled lotions, and then proceed to just read, tan, and slowly fall asleep. I had the Out magazine with Kylie on the cover and I pretty much read every page of it. In the article about Kylie, the author says something like Kylie is like Glenda the Good Witch of the South. I love that. After an hour or so, I decided for an adult bevage. A mojito. 9 euros. Then I pulled on the little rubber beach shoes I had bought and went into the ocean. The waves weren’t bad, but there is no way to gracefully enter or exit the water while walking on all of the rocks. Just not possible. After I dried out from my swim, I had lunch at the Sporting Club restaurant. Pizza and a couple of glasses of wine. 22 euros. Then it was back to the lounge chair where I finished off the book I had brought with me. It was really good. Then it was time for another adult beverage (9 euros). More tanning, more rolling over, more sweating, more listening to my iPod. Oh, and more people watching.
We are talking about some seriously good people watching. The really pale people, the really red people, and then the really tan people. And the really tan, leathery people. I’m glad I only “lay out” 4-6 days a year. And I always use sun screen. Lots of thong bikinis and banana hammocks. Ugh. But I did see some board shorts and some hotties in square cuts. Overall I have to give the people watching a solid B. Anyways, after a good 6 plus hours on the plage, I headed back to the hotel to cool down, clean up, and then head to dinner. So how much did my day at the beach cost? 62 euro. Which is about $85. See, it’s all about denial.
The tour book recommended the La Petit Maison as a good cheap place to eat where Elton John sometimes comes to eat. So the hotel made reservations for me for 730 PM. At 730PM I’m there, and I’m like the third customer. But where do I get seated? At a table that is basically in the street. Cars would go by and the napkins would ruffle. When there was a back up, I could have passed the grey poupon to the guy in the car next to me without even having to stretch a bit. The zuchinni blossom fritters were outstanding. And the calamari was really good. Dessert was pretty awesome also. So a good meal food wise, just not experience wise. Oh well.
The next day I had a massage at the spa at the hotel. I have mentioned that it’s hot, right? Well, it’s not really a good idea to get a massage when it’s miserably hot. She did a good job, but she used a lot of oil and with it being so hot, it didn’t really seep into my skin. I had to use a towel to “dry” myself. Ugh, pretty disgusting. After that, I went up to my room, finished packing, and then hit the train station to catch my train to Toulon. It’s time to go to work!
So there is a bus stop relatively close to the hotel, so I caught the number 22 bus up to Cimiez which is where the museums are. Cimiez is the high rent district. It's up on a hill over looking Nice and the neighborhood was nice, really nice. It kind of reminded me of how the Phillips Collection is located in Dupont and that there aren't a lot of tourist trappy places nearby. And like the Phillips, the Musee Matisse was in a old home (villa) that had been modified to be a museum.
The musuem was quite good. The major exhibit was on Lydia (some weird slavic name) who was Matisse's muse. She was his assistant, executive secretary, studio manager, etc. And there were all of these paintings, drawings, and pictures of her. Now, there was a Mrs. Matisse (Amelie I believe) but no drawings of her. So I assume that Lydia was also his mistress considering how many nudes he drew. And I wonder what Mrs. Matisse thought of that? I know, I know. It's a French thing. But still. Overall the collection was good, but a lot of nude women. Not really my thing.
After an interminable wait for the bus in the blistering sun (obligatory heat reference #1), I took the bus down to the Chagall museum. It's actually the Musee National Biblique Marc Chagall. So how do you get a national museum named after yourself? You give all of your art to the state. And voila! So I got my ticket and made a beeline to the cafe to get lunch before I did the collection. This not drinking sodas is not fun. I had peach tea which I'm sure have a 1000 grams of sugar. Oh well. So did you notice the extra word in the name of the museum? Biblique? Well originally the collection was made up of biblical paintings. Which is something that I didn't realize Chagall was known for. A Russian Jew, he considered France his home country and after touring the exhibit it's amazing at the number of religious paintings or even religious symbols in his works. Unlike Matisse, Chagall's use of color is extreme, dark blues, deep reds, fiery oranges. It was really quite amazing. And in addition the religious symbols in the paintings, there were also many references or depictions of the plight of the Jews in Russia, France, and Palestine (as it was then known). The whole collection was fascinating.
After that, I headed back to the hotel to hit the roof top pool. The thermometer at the pool said it was 32 degrees. Translation: fricking hot (obligatory heat reference #2). So I just relaxed and let the sweat drip off me. Ugh.
For dinner, the concierge recommended a couple of places in the pedestrian section of downtown. The first was right on the main strip and looked very seafoody. The second was down a small alley to this charming little courtyard with flowering vines covering lattices that provided some shade with candles everywhere. Totally charming. I'm in. And what a good call. For my starter, I had the tartine of something. It was a small slice of bread with chevre cheese spread thick, really thick, on top of it. Toasted. With little slices of figs on top. On top of a bed of arrugla (my new favorite green). With prosciutto on one side, and this delicious piece of bacon on the other. I was in heaven. My main was penne pesto with a creamy parmigiano reggiano sauce with shaved smoked corfu ham. A-Maz-Ing. So, so, so good. With a couple of glasses of the local wine, I was feeling good.
So good that I decided to try to hit the Eagle. So I went back to the hotel, changed, and then took a cab to the Eagle. Where it was foam night. Yes, foam night. Hello, Miami is calling from 1998 and they want their foam night back. A foam party? Really? And how wrong to have a foam party at the Eagle. The Eagle? Needless to say I was dressed incorrectly. And that was fine with me. I had a beer. Then bought a T-shirt and was back at my hotel by midnight. So that was my adventure at the Nice Eagle. Kind of lame, but then again . . . .
I'm eating dinner and the sweat is dripping down my back like it's Niagara Falls. Totally gross.
So maybe I'm complaining a little.
Yes I'm hot, but here I am eating dinner at a cute little outdoor cafe on the Promenade des Anglais on the Cote D'Azur. So I guess I really shouldn't complain.
But I'm so good at it!
The flights to Nice were fine. United upgraded me on the flight to Frankfurt, but two gentleman decided to talk the whole flight and even with ear plugs I could hear every single word. Ugh. Frankfurt Airport is a mess. I definitely prefer Munich. I landed at the Nice/Cote D'Azur airport, took the bus and then a taxi to my hotel.
The Hotel Splendid is not Splendid. It is close to the beach and it has a roof top pool. But the rooms are small and dated and the AC does not work well. Have I mentioned that it's hot? After a tortuous disco nap, I went to check out the roof top pool. It's small, but nice and I hunker down on one of the chaise to get my vitamin D and to read. Since I have my iPad, I only brought one book. Big mistake. Oh well. I laid out for a bit and then got cleaned up. The conceirge recommended a little cafe down the promenade so I walked down to check it out. Even at 730PM, the beach is still hopping and the promenade is packed. The sun is still unmercifully beating down on my so I work up a good sweat walking to the cafe.
My plans to hit the "trendy gay club where the fashion conscious under 35 crowd dance to pumping house music" kind of fell apart. I'm tired. And old. And it doesn't start until 11PM. And I set my alarm so I could get up and go, but I was just exhausted.
This AM I got up and went on a walkabout. And as typical of my walkabouts it turned into a death march. Down the promenade. Then up the hill to the park where there used to be a fort. Then back down the hills, with a couple of wrong turn down dead ends, and into the marina/harbor area. Then back around the point, down the promenade, and back to the hotel. What was supposed to be a hour or so walk turned into a three hour death march. And have I mentioned the unmerciful sun and the heat?
So I've discovered two types of Brits. The drunk and pale Brits, or the drunk and freakishly red Brits. Seriously, these people do not tan. And I guess they haven't caught on to the use of sun screen. Nor are they ever sober.
This afternoon it's museum time. Hopefully it will be cool in the museums. I'm just so tired of sweating.
So Lawyer X warned me that this was going to be a death march through Disney World. And I'm like, right. How hard could it be? Hard. And unbareably hot as well. See Orlando was having just the most disgusting heatwave. Hot, humid, and oppressive. So trekking across Disney did indeed become a death march. But it’s one of the things you do for love.
Day 1: Disney's Hollywood Studios. I passed on the Tower of Terror, but I did do the Aerosmith Rockn' Rollercoaster. Am I getting old, or are roller coasters just not as fun anymore. Wait. Don't answer that. If you're familiar with Disney, then you know it's all about the FastPass. We had run to the Toy Story ride and gotten fastpasses for that. Lots of fun. Kind of a shoot em up game. LawyerX beat me, but not by much. Not bad considering I'd never done the ride before. Have I mentioned how hot it was? It was miserable. But that didn't stop us. When we started to fade, we would hop into a store for the air conditioning. And to shop of course. We stayed @ Disney's Hollywood Studios till about 3PM before we headed back to the resort of a quick disco nap. Because that afternoon (like around 5PM), we headed to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. It’s a special night at the Magic Kingdom where all of the characters dress up in Halloween costumes, there’s a special parade, and there’s trick or treating. Yep, in addition to the most delicious, but seriously not good for you food, we were trick or treating. And while we didn’t have costumes on LawyerX’s sister got us devil horns that had red lights in them. Very cool and the added bonus of helping to keep track of our party amidst the hordes of Disney. More food. More rides. More candy. Just more of everything. The fireworks and laser show at the Magic Kingdom was amazing. When we finally bailed around 1130PM I was ready to admit defeat.
Day 2: Slept in. Thank God. And then we had a lazy day planned by going to Blizzard Beach. It’s one of the water parks at Disney. And the fact that it was another hot, humid, sunny day was actually a good thing. The first thing we did was the lazy river, or whatever they call it. Just riding around the park in an inner tube. It was the perfect way to start the day! We then discovered the rafting slides at the backside of the park. In the singles slide, it’s completely enclosed, dark, and you’re slip-sliding up and down and all around. Just a ton of fun. I don’t think the doubles was meant for adult kids like LawyerX and I. Yes I’ll start my diet on Tuesday, but with our combined mass there were a couple of times I thought we were going to go over the slide. It was dangerously close. And fun. After we did that four or five time (no lines!) we headed around to the front of the mountain for some more slides. This time on rubber mats facing forward. LawyerX and I raced down, but he beat me. Oh well. After a couple of runs, we grabbed a bite to eat and then it was back to the lazy river to relax. The only way it could have been more perfect was if we could float around the park enjoying an adult beverage of our choice. But not so much. No food or beverages allowed at all. Bummer. After a loop or two, we took the chair lift up to the summit to do the Summit Plummet. It’s a 12 story water slide drop. The line was kind of a haze, but great views from the top of the summit. And you know it wasn’t until we got to the top that I started to get scared. Oh well, too late to back down. It was over before you had a chance to freak out too much. I did have to extract my swimsuit from my buttocks after I finally got down. Hmm, the ride was okay. Been there, did that. Done. After the park, we headed back to our resort (Old Key West) for a shower change and then we were meeting up with some folks for dinner at a new Greek place. The chef there was a famous chef from Iron Chef. Anyways, it was good and the drinks were flowing, and then it was time to roll into bed.
Day 3: In theory we were supposed to get up early to see the Animal Kingdom, but we both slept in and then we just decided to head to Epcot. Today was the glutton day. The Disney International Food and Wine Festival. So at Epcot, there is a big lake and around the lake are little stores, restaurants, and rides from countries around the world. So each of the countries has a little amuse bouche (sometimes bigger) plus wines, beers, and other delicious beverages. But the food would have to wait. First it was a fast pass for Soarin. And then we hit the Test Track ride. Eh, it was okay. Then we *had* to do Mission Space. Now I had done this a couple of years ago when I came down for a work conference. I did the Orange, “more intense”, training and I was wrecked for the rest of the day. I didn’t get sick, but I was pretty miserable for awhile. So this time I did the green, “less intense” training and it was fine. The special effects at Disney are really top notch. After that, it was time for Soarin. Very cool ride and special effects. And finally it was time for “2009 Disney Drunk & Grub Fest”. People had actually made t-shirts that said that! Loved it. We started at San Juan and headed counter clockwise around the lake. Have I mentioned the heat. OMG disgusting. Good food, good drinks, and then just the life getting sucked out of us by the heat. I passed on the escargot at France, but we had this frozen Parisien cosmo that was to die for. We pretty much ate, drank, and shopped (for the blessed air conditioning) all after noon. Around 4 PM I had to raise the white flag. I was more than pleasantly buzzed, stuffed, and just drenched in sweat. I needed a break. So I went back to the resort for a quick disco nap, a shower, and a clean set of clothes. When I got back LawyerX, his sister, and his aunt were all winding down their trek. I did get to partake of some of the last food items (perogies from Poland, egg rolls from China, and a fiesta margarita!). Then we stayed for the amazing fireworks and laser shows. It was great and we had a great spot to watch it all. Afterwards, we all headed back to the resort to crash.
Day 4: A surprisingly early get up, which was good since it took a while to pack. LawyerX was taking some of my stuff back to DC since I was heading to Europe directly from Orlando. After a leisurely AM, we hit Downtown Disney for a list bit of shopping and lunch and then it was time to get on the Disney Magical Express back to the airport.
So all in all it was a good weekend. If the temperature had been a little bit cooler, it probably would have been great. I will say that while I’ve always suspected that there is a little 8 year old kid inside of LawyerX, now I know it’s true. And I’ve seen him come out at Disney, while on a ride, or eating a ginormous turkey leg, or getting a picture taken with Doug (from Up!). Squirrel! Just too cute.
My next death march is work related. Orlando to Frankfurt. Frankfurt to Nice. Taxi from the Nice airport to the Nice train station. Train from Nice to Toulon. And then taxi form the train station to the hotel. I’m in Toulon for 2 days for work. Then a train to Paris. Work Friday. Spend the weekend with my sister. And then fly back to DC on Monday. And then I don’t want to get on a plane for a long time. Atleast a month if I can swing it.
Currently in Frankfurt. I got bumped up to Business Class on the Lufthansa flight. See, it pays to be a United Mileage Plus whore. Just need to stay awake till I get to Toulon. Then I can crash.
So I recently complained to LawyerX that we don't do anything gay. And yes this was less than 10 days after coming back from a gay cruise in the Meditterean. He kind of looked at me like I was crazy. Umm, guilty.
So Lawyer X really scored some big points when he got us tickets to see Kylie in Vegas. Now mind you, our fall travel schedule is crazy, but when Kylie comes to the United States, you fix your schedule around her tour dates. So we did. And last weekend we headed to Las Vegas for our fantasy gay weekend! The trip out to Vegas went fine and we got the Encore late in the afternoon. We had just enough time to take a quick shower and sample the buffet (check that off the tourista list) and then headed to the Bellagio to see O. It was actually my first Cirque du Soleil show and it was really amazing. Just too cool. After the show, we checked out the water fountain show at the Bellagio and then sort of wandered down the strip.
We did take a dangerous detour into the Forum Shops at Caesar's where we stumbled upon a John Varvatos store. Danger Will Robinson, Danger! We both found coats that we absolutely loved. Unfortunately, they really didn't fit us that well. Nothing that a couple of stomach viruses couldn't have solved, but still. In the end, no matter how much I loved it, I just couldn't rationalize spending that much for a jacket.
We tried to sleep late the next day, but we were still on east coast time. So we got up and promptly went to the pool. The pool area was just amazing. Several pools and actually some good music. While Lawyer X was working on "The Lost Symbol", I was laughing my way through "Official Book Club Selection." Hey, I did say it was a gay weekend. After a rough afternoon of laying out, we went back up to the room to nap before the main event. We had dinner at Society at the Encore and then headed to the Pearl to see Kylie.
The concert? Just amazing. Fabulous. Fantastic. Keep adding adjectives until you run out. It was that good. Probably one of the best concerts I've ever seen. She looked awesome. She sounded amazing. And I knew almost all of the songs. We had great seats so we had a good view for the improvised shower scene:
Love the song. Love the hot dancers. Love it.
Oh, best t-shirt of the night: "Do these jeans make my cock look fat?" I love my people. They are just too funny.
After the concert, we headed back to the hotel to drop off our concert souvenirs and then we headed to the gay club in Vegas: Krave. It was hosting the Kylie concert after party (of course) and was filled to the brim with the gays. So we had a good time getting our groove on and dancing up a storm.
Waking up way to early the next morning, we hit the spa for the sandalwood scrub and hot stone massage. It was OMG expensive, but totally amazing. Just so wonderful and relaxing. Which was good because the flight home was not fabulous. After a quick bite to eat, we headed to the airport. Our flight to St Louis actually arrived 30 minutes early, but our flight to DC was late. And then once we go on board, some moron in first class shoved something so hard into the overhead compartment that it broke the light bulb behind the compartment. It took them almost an hour to fix it (it involved removing the overhead panel) so we were really late getting back to DC. We didn't land until 0130AM.
Vegas? It was good. But kind of overwhelming. And kind of expensive. Totally worth it to see Kylie! Otherwise, I'm not so sure. We'll see.
But that was our fantasy gay weekend in Las Vegas!
So both Lawyer X and I have been to Rome a number of times. So we weren't in a hurry to do the forced march through Rome to see the Coliseum, the forum, the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, etc. We kind of wanted to take it easy.
The flight over was okay. LX was constantly whining about flying in economy. He's 6'5" and he always flies business class for work. But the business class seats were outrageously expensive. And as a premier executive, I could get us economy plus. And when he finally sat down in the seat he did grudgingly admit that it wasn't as awful as he thought it was going to be. Anyways, we arrived in Rome on time but then had to wait forever for my luggage (marked priority). As we would say over and over during the trip: TIB. That's Italy Baby. LX had arranged for driver for us into the city to our hotel which was really nice. Our friends whose flight was delayed ended up taking the express train and were not happy about it. LX had gotten us a room at the Sofitel in Rome and it was very, very, very nice.
After a quick disco nap, we headed out for a quick lunch down near the Spanish Steps and then LX had gotten us tickets to the Museo Borghese in the Borghese Gardens. It was blistering hot as we hiked through the gardens so spending some time in a pseudo airconditioned museum. Lots of statues and great frescos. It was very cool. Afterwards, we wandered back to the Spanish Steps and hit the Via Condatti, the premier shopping street in Rome. Home to Prada, Gucci, Hermes, etc. All high end stores. Very high end if you consider how sucky the dollar is these days as compared to the Euro.
That night we had a nice quiet dinner not far from the hotel. We mad a quick dash to see the Trevi Fountain and to get some gelatto and then we headed back to the hotel to crash. We were heading to Civitavecchia in the morning to catch the ship.
So after scoring a prime parking spot the section of the marina right in front of the Empress, we got settled in and then LawyerX and I headed up to the Visitor Center which was just at the top of the causeway. We wanted to find out some information on getting to the Buchart Gardens. Which we did. And then I said to the cute-ish guy behind the help desk at the visitor center, "So where's the nearest gay bar?" And he's say, "Oh, it's not far. I can't remember it's name, it just changed it's name, but I can show you where it is on the map. It's not far at all." Yes, *it*. As in singular. Sigh. I thought Victoria was a little bit larger than that, but apparently not. As he's pulling out the map to show us where it is, he goes, "Now, I remember, it's called Paparazzi." And both LawyerX and I say, "Of course it is."
Fully armed with information for our stay in Victoria, we proceeded to explore the very cute downtown area which included a quick stop to Roger's for a carmel milkshake for me and a rootbeer float for LawyerX. Sorry, it had to be done. Afterwards, wegot our shopping on. We went to "The Bay" which is their version of Macy's I guess. All of the stores had Olympic gear in addition to the normal touristy stuff for sale. The 2010 Olympics are taking place in Vancover, so the Olympic marketing machine was in full gear. I did find the cutest little shirt for my niece that has all of the Olympic mascots on it. And since I got her something, I had to get the nephew one as well. And then I felt left out in the shopping so I bought one as well.
After shopping, we returned to the boat for evening cocktails and then dinner. Post dinner, we were ready for adventure into the exciting gay nightlife of Victoria. So we headed to Paparazzi! Well, the best thing I can say is the the bartender was kind of hot. Located in the basement, it had a fairly decent size dance floor considering, a smallish bar, a little sitting lounge area, and then some pool tables. As is typical for small town gay bars, they try to be all things to all people and don't do any of them really well. But we grabbed some drinks a
nd proceeded to watch the other dozen people in the bar. Sometimes it's all about the people watching. But it had been a long day and I bonked hard and we ended up leaving fairly early.
The next day, LawyerX and I got up early to walk the long walk to the showers. We changed clothes, went to get our tickets for the Butchart Gardens and then quickly walked to the buss that left at 0900. We got their at 0859. Atleast that's what time our ticket said. So we were cutting it close. I tried to pay attention to the bus ride, but really didn't. Once we left the city, it looked like the country side was pretty nice. It took a little over 30 minutes to get to the gardens. Now LaywerX kept saying that he was going to "drag me" to the gardens and despite the fact that I really did want to go, I wasn't sure what to expect.
Think of a Disney World for gardeners and flower enthusiasts.
It really as spectacular. Originally a quarry, the owner's wife worked to transform the quarry and then the surrounding area into a collection of different gardens with different themes, plants, flowers, etc. It was really incredible. And we were there at the perfect time of year. We were probably just past the full bloom of most of the flowers. And I took lots and lots and lots of pics. As you can tell. It really was quite amazing. And I'll say one of the best things about getting to the gardens so early was that it wasn't *that* crowded and we did get to wander quite a bit looking at all of the fantastic flowers, plants, and trees. And LawyerX and I got to spend some quality alone time and just talked as we wandered. So that was really nice.
After we wandered our way through the gardens we headed
back to Victoria where we had lunch at a small little bistro we had spotted the previous night. Bon Rouge was just a block off the main drag in downtown Victoria, but it had this open terrace area where LawyerX and Ijust sat and ate some
really good food and drank some really good beverages. And since it was Friday, it was $5 martini's. And who were we to say no to that. So we probably had one of the most leisurely and decadent lunches I canremember. And it was fantastic. Afterwards, we headed back to the boat so we could change in time for tea at the Empress.
The Empress is one of those famous old hotels that has been renovated several times and it's famous for it's high tea. So before we had set sail, we had made reservations for tea. So we all got dressed up in our "smart casual" wear and headed across the street from the causeway to the Empress Hotel. There was a very nice selection of tea, but almost all of us decided to go with the house special blend, "The Empress Blend", and I took mine with some milk and a couple of sugars. It was really delicious. In addition to the tea of course, you get the all of the little finger foods. AndOMG they were delicious. So tasty and if you liked one, you can ask some more of them. So we asked for seconds on the cucumber sandwiches (so light!) and the chicken curry sandwhiches (spicy, but not too spicy). It was very much a fantastic afternoon and we sit and chatted for while as we sipped our tea and noshed on the nibblies. Unfortunately between the very nice lunch and the fabulous tea, I was heading towards a very hard food coma. So we headed back to the boat where I proceeded to take a much needed nap. When I woke up, the sun was beginning to set in Victoria Harbor and the light was just amazing. I quickly snapped some photos and then went back to the ship to indulge in some more cocktails. And if you haven't gotten the clue that this trip involves a lot of eating and drinking then you aren't paying attention.
MuseumMan, Lawyer X, a
nd I headed back to Bon Rouge for some more drinks and a light dinner before hitting Paparazzi's. Our experience at Bon Rouge the second time was not a good. Despite there being a cute bar area, the whole interior of the bistro was reserved for a private party, so were back on the terrace. Which is fine, except the private party had a singer in the restaurant. A very loud singer. It was not too bad on the terrace when the doors were closed, but when one of the doors opened you couldn't hear the person next to you. They must have been deaf inside. Anyways, we had some more good food and $5 martinis before heading to Paparazzi's.
Now LawyerX and I had take some 5 Hour Energy shots, so we were flying. We get to the bar and it's a little bit more crowded. It is Friday night after all. But it's also "Friday Night Sass!" Yes, we're there on lesbian night. Well, ish. It was definitely mixed, but still mainly female. But that's okay. We're having a good time. We order our drinks and are a little surprised by the less that fabulous quantity of alcohol. While the drinks are cheap, we were expecting our martini glasses to be filled to the brim. Not so much. Because here in Victoria, you can only serve 2 ounces of liquor per drink. And no, you can't do doubles. So we started calling that the "Victoria pour." After a bit, the music started to improve and we actually got up to dance once or twice. The music was all over the place but they did play a couple of my favoritesongs of the summer. But . . . I'm used to the extended dance versions of these songs. Long enough to really get into them and to work up a sweat. No so much here. Both of the songs were strangely short and didn't include some of the fun chorus or anthem parts of the songs. So we started calling them the "Victoria Mix." When you recognize the song, but the song is sort of short and a little bit tragic. We ended up bailing a little after 1AM and headed back to the boat.
The next AM, I got up early to take some early morning photos of Victoria Harbor. It was very quiet in the AM which was kind of nice and I did get some good shots. But it was an early departure from Victoria because we needed to get to Roche Harbor by early afternoon so we could get a good moorage there. So we said farewell to Victoria, BC and headed back to the United States.
So last year Museum Man invited me on his family's annual sailing trip up to the San Juan Islands in Washington state. We had a blast and it was so relaxing. And so this year he invited me again, and LawyerX as well. It would be the three of us, his Mom and stepdad, and then a couple they know from Wenatchee, Washington. And while LawyerX and I are going to Europe later this month, I really wanted to go. So we did.
Let me tell, first class is the only way to travel these days. Since we procrastinated in buying our tickets, I ended up using miles to get two first class tickets to Seattle. LawyerX is like 6'5", so he needs the legroom. And with a direct flight from Dulles to Seattle, we didn't have that OMG early get up that morning. Now I was a little concerned
about this trip because LawyerX hasn't seen me in my airplane mode. I see air travel as a series of obstacles to be overcome as quickly as possible and I never really relax until I'm actually in my seat on the airplane. But I think I managed to be fun and not to
o stressed. Mind you, we walked up to the gate and got immediately on the flight. So we were doing the just-in-time thing. Now they had switched out aircraft on us, so we weren't sitting together which kind of bummed me out. But, instead of seats, we got these kick ass little pods that actually let you lie flat. So nice. And some good quality entertainment with movies, games, and music. And the screwdrivers we had weren't bad either. We got to Seattle a couple of hours before MuseumMan, so we had lunch and then got manicures. Yes, we're that gay.
Once MuseumMan showed up, we got our bags and his Mom picked us up and we headed north to Anacortes which is the hopping off point for the San Juan Islands. Most of the north west ferries leave out of there and just on the opposite side of the ridge from the ferry
landing was the little marina where we picked up our boat. The Sienne. A 50 Bennato. For those who know those things. It was very nice and fairly spacious. And I say fairly because while we did get one of the
larger cabins, LawyerX is kind of big, and I'm not exactly petite myself. Needless to say there was a lot of banging of heads. But I digress. We loaded up the boat and started doing inventory while we awaited the rest of our party. They finally showed up and everything was squared away for a departure the next AM. That evening we had a fine dining experience at the Brass Lantern. Think small town dive bar/restaurant. I will have to say the fried olives were delicious!
The next day we got up, showered at the facilities at the marina (reminded me of being in a barracks!), had breakfast and then prepared to get underway. Since we had such experience sailors on board, they let us go without a ship check so we got underway a little
bit earlier than planned. Which was good because our plan was to bee line to Victoria so we can get a good moorage (parking spot) in front of the Empress Hotel. The weather was a bit cold and overcast. After a week of over 100 degrees heat which is really freakish for them, the pendulum swung the other way and we had highs in the lid 60s. So kind of chilly on the water. But of course, I loved it!
Anacortes is actually a little bit north of Victoria, so we had to swing a little bit south and sail just under Lopez island and then started to hug the coast of San Juan Island so we could cut straight across Haro Straight to Victoria. We did raise the sail once, but the wind wasn't really that strong and we had a mission, so we used the motor most of the day. As we approached San Juan Island, we got the binoculars our because that's where we would see whales if we were lucky. And boy were we lucky. We actually saw quite a few whales including one killer whale that breached, jumping out of the water, to slam itself back into the water. Quite spectacular. And I wish I had caught it on film, but I wasn't quick enough with my camera. But I did get a few semi-decent shots. Plus we did see some other wildlife. But eventually we had to leave San Juan Island and head to Victoria.
Sailing into Victoria is always so great. Such a pretty little town on the water. There were a couple of cruise ships who were there as well, but the sun had come out and the weather was great so it was a great trip into Victoria. After clearing Canadian customs (something we couldn't do last year, long story, don't ask), we got the princess parking in front of the Empress Hotel. Yeah!
You know what’s weird?Now that I have a social life, I don’t seem to work insane hours (well as insane) which is good I guess.But I apparently don’t blog as much either.Hmm, go to dinner with Lawyer X, or blog?Wii bowling with Lawyer X, or blog?(Insert almost anything) with Lawyer X, or blog.Seems the blogging is losing out in this deal.I’ll try to find a way to balance my real social life and my online life a bit better.
Anyways, so Lawyer X and I passed a major milestone last weekend.First it was our 6th month anniversary (the exact date we started officially “dating” is kind of arbitrary, but that’s what I’m saying it is) and we had our first trip together!Yep, we decided to skip out of town and where did we go?Tilghman Island, MD.Yes, I know, how random, and not very gay, but it was great!
We actually ditched work on Friday and around 1030 or so we headed out to Annapolis.Can someone please explain to me why traffic SUCKS heading out of DC on a Friday morning?Anyhoo, we made it out to Annapolis and the weather was GLORIOUS!After some rainy, dreary, cold days, the weather had finally turned and it was just amazing.We had lunch at Chick and Ruth’s, a serious dive from my midshipman days.The food was good and the milkshake was delicious!Afterwards, we walked around the Yard (USNA campus) and I showed him the Chapel, John Paul Jones’ crypt, some of the academic buildings, Bancroft Hall, etc.It was fun, though I can’t seem to remember a lot of the details anymore.It must be that getting old thing.We hit the Midshipman Store for some quality shopping and then got on the road around 4PMish for the eastern shore.
So the drive was fine and we made our way to Tilghman Island Inn.Now I had heard about this from the Washingtonian’s website and it looks really nice.Plus they had a really nice restaurant and Lawyer X is a foodie.So I knew he would be happy.The Inn was really nice, on the edge of a channel and across the water is a marsh area where you could see all sorts of egrets, ducks, etc.Very nice room, with a fireplace on a timer and a bathtub spa!After settling in a bit, we sampled the cheese plate and champagne that we got as part of the weekend package.Very nice.After a couple of glasses of champagne, we went down to dinner, with a quick stop at the bar for a cocktail to enjoy as we watched the sun setting.Since the Inn is on the western edge of the eastern shore, we had a beautiful sunset over the water.Dinner was amazing.And included a couple of glasses of wine.And then we had a dessert wine to finish the meal.If you are counting, that makes basically 6 different drinks.Needless to say, after dinner I wanted to make sure I got a glass of ice water to take back to the room.At the bar was the executive chef.When we had come down for dinner originally, he had been at the bar working on his 3rd or 4th glass of scotch, or so I thought.Well by this point he was pretty buzzed and very chatty.He’s talking about his grandkids, etc and now I’m tired and starting to tune him out.And then all of a sudden, he’s talking about his partner!! Apparently they own the Inn and one runs the Inn and the other the restaurant!So I guess it was going to be a gay weekend after all.
Saturday AM, we sort of slept in and then got up around 10ish to grab a quick light breakfast before heading up to St. Michael’s.St. Michael’s is just the cutest little village.It’s a short drive away.We parked and then basically walked about the town.Had lunch at a restaurant in the harbor and then wandered around the little shops that lined the main street.The weather was amazing again and the little town was packed with tourists.We wandered over to the local winery for a tasting and since the outside area was full we were taken deep into the winery where the settling tanks are and where they have another sampling area.It was kind of dark, and cool, and it was kind of romantic back there.We sampled some wines and most of them were good.Lawyer X bought some a cabernet, while I got the chocolate zin (a-ma-zing!).After that, we discovered that the local brewery was right next to the winery (talk about some city planning!) and so we had to sample a flight of the local beer.Some good stuff and some interesting conversations with the locals.Afterwards, we drove down to a small town that has the oldest, consecutively running, private ferry which took us across the river to Oxford.The ferry could probably only hold 9 cars and it was a short ferry ride, but it was just fun to do.Oxford is another one of those picturesque towns and the waterfront houses are all just so pretty.And I’m sure quite a pretty penny.Our whole mission to Oxford?To get ice cream.Apparently the ice cream place there is quite well known and we both got two HUGE scoops.Birthday Cake Oreo and Carrot Cake for me.OMG, so good.And if you notice a food and alcohol theme for the weekend, you wouldn’t be wrong.At all.Back on the ferry and then back to the Inn where we did an encore of the afternoon cheese plate and champagne.Yum.Then I had made reservations in St. Michael at another high end restaurant.Apparently Rumsfeld and Cheney eat there occasionally.If I had known that ahead of time, then I would have gone somewhere else, but as it was they were not there and I didn’t have to try to do a citizen’s arrest on them.Dinner was again phenomenal.And included some great wine.We were fat, buzzed, and happy by the time we made our way back to the Inn.
Another leisurely get up on Sunday AM.I will say that it’s weird to hear boats going by in the morning.But they actually have a real fishing fleet at Tilghman Island, plus all of the wannabe weekend fisherman, so the channel was hopping.Brunch was included in our package so we settled in to another great meal.Gumbo, eggs benedict & French toast with grand marnier, and then a brownie with ice cream for dessert.All so delicious!Now, you know how I hate to talk about other people, oh wait, I actually like to do that.So let me tell you about the other guests having brunch.A nice couple (boring), a cute young gay couple (hate them), and then we had this one straight couple.He was a bit older (late 40s), a bit dumpy, glasses, tragic comb over.Just kind of sad.His “companion”?She was Asian, much younger, but not really that attractive.Sporting a black bustier that highlighted her ample chest and then some black short, shorts.For BRUNCH?This is what you wear to brunch?After I pushed my eyeballs back into my head, I’m like, “don’t look at them, don’t look at them. “But it’s like a car wreck.I can’t *not* look.That’s when I notice the short shorts have a big metal zipper that goes all the way up.Lovely.When he starts to feed her salad (salad?!?!?!), that’s when I’m like, we gotta go.Just too weird.
On the drive back to DC we hit the outlets just before the bay bridge and did quite a bit of damage.
Overall, the weekend ROCKED!Just some good quality time with Lawyer X.We got along amazingly well.The Inn was fabulous!The food was great.And the liquor was copious!So it all adds up to an amazing weekend!
As I write this entry, I’m somewhere over the middle of the United States, en route to Chicago and then eventually back to DC, hopefully before midnight.
Yes the vacation is over and I’ve already cranked out some of my monthly reports on the plane.Yes, that is a big L on my forehead.But the vacation was a blast.So much fun, so much quality downtime.It’s a good thing.
So we had a pretty decent size bear contingent on this trip.And if you could hear the rise cheering, then you could tell they were doing shots.Oy vey, did they like their shots.And you don’t even want to know what was in the shots.One of them was Daddy’s Milk.It was beyond foul.And they would use an inflatable raft as a drink barge to take the shots out to the middle of the pool where they would all congregate around a slightly submerged little island.It was just below the water level so you could lay there on your back and most of your body would be underwater, but your face, etc would be above the water.This little submerged island became BearIsland.And the bears even went so far as to move several lounge chairs, little plastic tables, and even some umbrellas to provide shade.Look, they may be bears, but they are still gay, and you know how the gays love to decorate.
In response to BearIslands, the twinks felt like they were being left out, so they create Twinktown.Just a grouping of lounge chairs where all of the twinks would hang out.They were the ones with the Obama-Biden signs at the pool on Tuesday.So they created new signs that said Twinktown.So yes, Twinktown was across from BearIsland.Look, on an Atlantis vacations you get all types and everyone gets along.It really is one of the great, but strange things about Atlantis vacations.It seems like everyone checks their egos at the door and everyone is nice to everyone.It really is very warm and friendly.Whether you are a twink or a bear, or somewhere in between.
Despite predictions for rain on Thursday and Friday, it was sunny and gorgeous both days.We really did have spectacular weather the whole time we were there.Friday afternoon was the last T dance.It was amazing.The theme is tropical wear, so lots of people in sarongs.Yes, even me. And dancing in a sarong is a bit challenging.But do-able.Some great music again.Love T dance music.As the sun began to set, the crowd moved down to the beach with their drinks and their cameras.I took a number of great photos as well.When the sun finally set, I handed my camera and my sarong to a friend and ran into the ocean, plunging into the warm gentle water and just reveling in the amazing experience I had this past week in PV.
Okay, it's amazing down here. Yes, the flight was a haze and getting through immigration was seriously insane (think early voting type lines), but it so nice down here. Warm, sunny, the resort is beautiful. I'm on the 7th floor looking down on the pool, hot tubs, the palm trees and then out to the beach. It's just so spectacular.
So I'm trying this new thing. I'm trying to be more out going and try to meet new people. And it's not really working for me. Last night I got my first clinger. He was nice enough looking, a little bit older, but with some nice salt and pepper hair. Unfortunately he was drunk. Not an ugly drunk, but he just didn't realize the he was so drunk. And while I appreciate being called "hot", after the sixth slurred time, I'm beginning to think that hanging out with you is a bad idea. And I *hate* being the bad person in this situation, but seriously, you're trashed. GO AWAY! Anyways, to escape him, I ended up going to sleep early.
This AM I got up and did my workout at the gym. It was packed, of course, but I managed to do an abbreviated routine. Then it was pool time which was great. I heard a great new adjective to use to describe the muscle men: overbuilt! Isn't that great. Mind you, I still think they are uber-hot, but it is a great word. And there are several overbuilt men here. Just yummy.
Today was the dog tag tea dance. Loved it. I had brought a flight suit to wear, but it was so hot I decided to just wear my cammie shorts and no shirt. I can almost get away with it. Almost. Anyways, great music. Great time. Blazing hot in the sun and I'm just drenched in sweat from the dancing. So I decided to head down to the beach. I'm already cover in salt, I might as well dip into the ocean. So I ditch my shoes and walk out to the beach. The sun is setting and even though there are clouds blocking the view, it's still just so pretty. And I'm there sort of wading in the water. And then it happens. I start to get depressed. I really would love to have someone I care about with me at times like these. It's just so beautiful and I want to share it with someone. Well, to make sure I didn't slip into a pity party, I decided to go back to the dance and let the music take me away. As I go back to my shoes, just a foot away, six little sea turtles have crawled out of the sand. They are valiantly tryingt to get over a small sand ridge and they are just miles away from the water from their perspective. Of course I freak out a bit. I call one of the waitresses over and ask her if we should take them down to the water. She called a security guard so they could record the location and number of turtles, and then a group of us carried the turtles down to the water. They were small little things and struggling a bit to get out of our grasps, but we made it to the water and then released them! So we saved 6 baby sea turtles today! By this time, all thoughts of a pity party were gone and I went back to dance one last dance.
My gym that is. Or to be a bit more honest, my self-esteem crushing gym. I swear there must have been a dozen guys who looked like they just walked off a Titan or Colt movie set. Clothed of course. Big, muscled, short haircuts, a little bit of scruff going. I'm surprised there wasn't a little trail of drool across the floor as I went about my work out. Sure, some people may see it as incentive, or examples to aspire to. Not me. It just reminds me that I'm fat. Well, less fat than before, but still fat.
Oh, but I'm hot. Radioactively speaking. I took the iodine pill today so radiation is coursing through my body looking for any cancer cell. I go in for a CAT scan on Friday. Should be fun. Not. And that will be my fourth trip to the hospital this week. Enough.
On Saturday I'm off to Puerta Vallarta with the gays. I can't wait. And while I'm fat (see above), I'm less fat that when I went last year. Plus I was off my thyroid medication last year in prep for my quarantine procedure, so I was also really tired and run down. So I should hopefully have a better time this year. Have laptop, will travel. So I'll be doing a little bit of work, but hopefully not too much. But still, all I want is a beach, a pool, and someone to bring me a cold beverage while I read my books!
Well let's see. Sure the cruise was nice. Sure it was full of hot men. Sure I get sick after about day 3. Yep, it started with the tell tale sore throat and built up to a full cold with aches and pains thrown in. And then on the last three days, we had 16-20 ft waves and winds gusting to 50 mph. And having a cabin in the front of the ship meant we got the up and down as well as the side to side movement. I didn't really get sea sick, more I just wasn't really able to rest at all those last couple of days. So a fun meter, I'd have to give this vacation a solid 3.
So I took my first dose of radiation on Tuesday. It was so cute, the pill came in it's own little steel Fabergé egg. This is just the small dose to tag any remaining thyroid tissue in my body. I was hoping that exposure to the radiation would give me some sort of super powers, but so far nothing. It's probably because it's just your normal everyday radiation, not some freaky nuclear, solar, interstellar radiation. I'm just not that lucky.
Actually, I've got the anti-super powers. I'll be doing okay, and then bam, I'm all tired and crap. I definitely felt bad on Monday. Plus having a sore throat didn't help. Tuesday I felt better, but the long trip to Langley on Wednesday for a meeting was not a good idea. I was okay until about 11AM and then it hit me. And in addition to being really tired, it's like my tongue starts to swell up so in addition to having a hard time talking, I keep biting it. Wow, will the fun never stop? I was a zombie the whole drive back. I'm just glad I wasn't driving.
Still had a sore throat and felt crappy, so I worked from home and drank lots of hot lemon echinacea tea. And when I drink hot tea, you know I'm sick. Then this afternoon I trekked back to the hostpital for the full body scans. Talk about fun. Lay there and don't move for over an hour as they take different "pictures" of me. I wasn't sure how I could be "fierce!" if they didn't want me to move. So I just sort of zoned out for a bit. The technician did tell me that there is some residual thryoid tissue in my neck area and that the radiologist will look at all of the pics and then tell my Dr. I'll give him a call tomorrow.
So what does all of this mean. It means I get to spend a couple of fun days in a lead lined room in the hospital next week. They will give me the super big dose and that will hopefully kill all of the remaining thyroid tissue (cancerous or not) remaining in my body. And hopefully I'll be released on Wednesday with instructions to avoid people until my body stops glowing. So to speak. So I should have a quiet Thanksgiving next week. Which is good because then my life starts to ramp up again. I'm really too busy to be sick.
Oh, thanks to K in Dallas for some kick ass photos from PV. Enjoy the sunsets!
So I land in Copenhagen a little after and head immediately to the ship.Check in is the usual organized chaos.The good thing is that it is frakkin hot in the check in area.Yes the weather has changed and it is sunny and gorgeous.What a great change!So while I’m waiting for my turn to be processed, I check out my fellow shipmates.I do see some people I know who were coming on the trip.The average age is a little bit higher than average for the usual Atlantis cruise.I’m thinking it was more upper 30s-low 40s.Let’s be honest, the cruise isn’t cheap, plus airfare to Europe, so it’s not going to draw the twink crowd.Which is fine by me.Plus it only makes me feel younger!
I check in, get to the room to find my luggage already there and to find a note from Atlantis about the rules of engagement when doing a share.So yes, I was doing the share program and I knew the name of the guy sharing the room with me, but that was it.Anyways the letter recommends spending some time to get to know each other before deciding on how to split up the room, who gets what bed, etc.So I just pulled my luggage into the room and decided to roam for a bit until my roomie showed up.Now this is actually the same ship that I did my first Atlantis cruise on.So I basically knew the floor plan.Anyways I headed up to get some lunch and then to just wander.So it’s hard to explain just how relaxing it is on board the ship.It really does remind me of bring in Ptown.Where everyone is relaxed, in a good mood, happy to be on vacation.So there’s very little attitude.Which is great.
I hook up with the couple I met on my first cruise and have my first cocktail with them.Then it’s back down to the room where I find my roomie.So in it’s a small world after all, my roomie is from Tulsa and friends with the guy I did a share with during the med cruise last year.Just too funny.So we had a good time as we chatted, unpacked and prepared ourselves for the cruise.After the mandatory boat drill (does this big orange life vest make my butt look big?Bigger?), it was time for the ship to set sail to Warnemunde Germany.So we did the sailaway happy hour and toasted our cruise as we left Copenhagen!That night we had our first dance at night club on the ship called “The Bar At the Edge of the Earth.”Let me tell you, it became a running joke on how badly you could make fun of that name.But DJ Abel kicked of the entertainment with some great vocals and I finally got a chance to get my groove on.
The next AM, I think over half of the ship boarded trains to take a 2 hour ride to Berlin.Not me.Today was my personal day.While we did have one day at sea, I was afraid that it was going to be cold, so while we were in port, I just wanted to camp out by the pool, read my book, and have someone bring me my cool frozen drinks.And let me tell you, it was just the most perfect day.Warm, almost hot in the sun.There were enough guys left on the ship to make the scenery interesting.And I felt like it was the first time I really got to decompress while on vacation.Part of me felt guilty about not getting off the ship at all.Warnemunde looked like a cute little German town.Apparently it was where the big whig members of the East Germany communist party would go to vacation.So it didn’t have that overcommercialized feel.Or atleast it didn’t seem that way to me.They brought an Oompah band onto the ship to play on the pool deck which isn’t exactly music to relax too, but they did serve some great bratwurst and pretzels for lunch that day.So I did get a taste of Germany.
After a very strenuous day of tanning, I figured it was time for a disco nap, then the singles dinner, and then time for entertainment.Well the Berlin crowd didn’t get back till late and they said that they all had a great time.But I’m sorry, 4 hours in a train is kind of hard core for me.I’ll get there (again) some day, not on this trip.So the theme party for the night was the Kit Kat Club to kind of play off the night club scene in the WeimarRepublic days.Now in addition to the fact that I had the whole weight issue with my luggage.What exactly were they wearing in the WeimarRepublic days.I keep thinking about Cabaret and I think of black skimpy outfits (not for me thanks) and black uniforms.Well some people live for the theme nights and there were some good costumes.Since we were at sea for the evening parties and the weather was a bit too windy/cold to have the dances on the pool deck, all of the dances were inside at the Bar at the Top of the Hill Overlooking the Ocean.Which was fine, but my attempts to take pictures were hindered by the fog machines that diffused the flash and washed out the pics.But I tried.DJ Warren Gluck spun that night and it was great.Plus I could stay up late because we were at sea the next day.
Now I love sea days.There’s no rushing to get breakfast before your excursions.There’s no rushing at all.Get up when you want.Do you own thing.Just kick back.And despite my fears, the weather was again amazing and even with the ship underway it was quite pleasant laying out on the pool deck.Now I did go to the gym first, but then it was back to my lounge chair Olympics.And I was burning through some of the books that I had brought.And every once in awhile I would take a little stroll around the pool deck and the solarium to check out the scenery.It was really quite nice.
And you’ve got to give it to Atlantis for their entertainment.It rocks. After a good 4-5 hours of laying out, I headed down to Dixie Longate’s Bingo Extravaganza.Bingo you’re thinking?Yeah, not so much.But I love Dixie.She’s just hilarious and it was worth it to listen to “Oh-69” to hear her vicious and amusing quips.One of my favorite lines, “I’ll beat the bleach off your teeth.”Just too funny.She rocks!And she’s apparently going on a national tour so I definitely want to get a group together for when she comes to DC.
After Dixie it was time for the traditional Dog Tag Dance.Now, this is always one of the best dances on the ship.Lots of opportunity to flirt and to check out who’s single, who’s partners, and which partners are willing to play.So lots of fun and finally some good pics of the hot guys on the ship.
That night, it was the Atlantis Comedy Showcase with Jim David, Shann Carr, and Alec Mapa.Now Jim and Shann are regulars on the Atlantis cruises and are just hilarious.Both had great new material.Apparently Shann got asked if she was from “that ship” in Warnemunde.So apparently the local folk do know we are coming.But Alec Mapa was the hit of the evening.Just too funny and I loved some of his jokes, but they are definitely NSFW.He did make the comment that he was originally afraid to come on a gay cruise.That it would be this floating orgy and that he’d be stuck in a hot tub with some cracked out porn star who was deep in a K-hole.It was just too funny.After that, I caught the tail end of the dating game starring some guy from DC.Who apparently confirmed to the whole ship that he’s basically a slut.Hey, truth in advertising I guess. I'm sure he won't be lonely.
And then finally it was time for the Conquest party at the Bar Around the Corner On Top of the Island in the Middle of the Ocean.So you were supposed to dress up as Vikings, Cossacks, kings, or serfs or just whatever you wanted to wear.So seriously, what does a Cossack wear?I’m just not that gay.I wore shorts and a tank top.I figured that was good enough.DJ Abel again who killed.I think I made it to before crashing.I had a relatively early tour in Tallinn the next day.
So I'm still working on my vacation trip report, but something got me thinking about a very strange common thread wherever I went. I would talk with people, at bars, or cafes, or on our tours, etc. And it used to be the most people in other countries didn't know or care about U.S. politics. And they wouldn't bring the subject up. Boy has that changed. I can't tell you how many conversations I had about US politics while I was on vacation in Europe.
The guy manning the desk at the hotel in Amsterdam at 10PM at night as I was leaving for a evening out wanted to know what the word "commute" means. As in Bush commuted Libby's sentence. He was a smart guy and spoke English very well, but it was such a random question.
As I was sitting in a cafe in Tallinn, the lady sitting next to me heard my English and asked if I was American. I said yes and she asked me why Congress couldn't stop the President from continuing the war in Iraq. I tried my best to explain.
And even on the cruise where there were guys from other countries, a question about US politics came up. It was all very odd.
But thankfully, while they really don't like the U.S., they don't hate us. I think they can separate the individual people from the policies of the U.S. government.
I've travelled a lot overseas and it's sad to see America's reputation as tarnished and sullied as it is now.
So I'm back! And jet lagged beyond belief. I woke up this AM at 0130. Rolled into the office around 530AM, and then hit the wall around 3PM. It wasn't pretty. But, the trip was a blast. After all of the crappy weather in Paris and Amsterdam, I finally got beautiful sunny weather in the Baltic!! We so lucked out.
A full trip report with lots of pics to follow.
Oh, and guess who was our special guest on the cruise??
Off on vacation tomorrow. Which is good because I'm about to collapse. Pretty much been working non-stop for the past 2-3 weeks. Just insane. And I'm leaving at a bad time for one of my projects but I can't help it. I so need a break.
National to Philly. Philly to Paris. Visit niece and nephew. Paris to Amsterdam. A couple of days there. Amsterdam to Copenhagen to catch the cruise.
Stockholm to Chicago. Chicago to National.
I'll probably blog from Paris and Amsterdam. And I'll do a post cruise report with lots of pics using my new camera.