FUN-travel: Oslo, Norway – Full Day – A&K Tour Start

August 24, 2014 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: Oslo, Norway – Full Day – A&K Tour Start 

Day 38 – Thursday, August 7 – Oslo, Norway – Day 1 – A & K Arctic Tour – full sun w/high clouds – mid 70’s


  •  8:45 – down for hot coffee
  • – breakfast included – thank god!
  • – typical big buffet & omelet station
  • – who knows the cost
  • – if typical buffet costs 24 Euro – in Oslo it must cost 40!
  • 12:00 – in room lunch w/leftovers & to go sandwich from breakfast

Oslo, Norway 2013 31

  • 2:00 – City walking tour – beginning part of A&K tour
  • 1st stop – Parliament Building
  • 2nd stop – Christiana Square – statue – founded Oslo
  • 3rd stop – Oslo Opera House – designed to look like ice berg/glacier
  • 4th stop – Grev Wedels Place
  • 5th stop – Akershus Fortress & Castle
  • 4:00 – end tour early – saw it last week
  • Spend last 20 Kroner @ grocery store = liter diet coke
  • 6:40 – bus to the Polar Ship Fram – museum w/original arctic expedition ship
  • 7:00 – cocktail reception – wine & buffet of typical Norwegian food – reindeer burgers, salmon, salads
  • 8:30 – bus back
Oslo, Norway 2013 32

Opera House


  • Not enough cut fresh fruit variety
  • Hand held shower – unable to control height
  • – have to get on knees to wash hair!
  • 11:00 – need to go to sleep – have early morning

FUN-fact – Look very, very closely at this picture as the sculpture has a quite vivid depiction of a male body part that I don’t think you’d see in the US.

Not so FF –The Grand Hotel isn’t so Grand any more.

Oslo, Norway 2013 46


April 15, 2009 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel:Egypt 

Minus Day 1- December 28, 2006

  • Bad News – We are now officially homeless. Foolishly believe remodel would be complete!
  • Drive to LAX, spend the night before boarding our flight to Cairo.
  • Good News – Check bank account online, find we’re fully funded!
Spice Shop

Spice Shop

Plus Day 1 – December 29, 2006 – Depart

  • Good News – Flight departs 3:30 pm – think we have all day.
  • Bad News – Told by hotel reception, “Big Holiday Weekend. You need to be at the airport 3 hours prior to departure.”
  • Good News – No long lines, no problems. Proceed to Business Class Lounge. Drink free Bloody Mary’s.
Pyramids in Giza

Pyramids in Giza

Plus Day 2 – December 30, 2006 – Cairo

  • Bad News – Paris airport, total remodeling chaos! Exit plane on outside stairs, take buses to terminal. Have to go through security all over again. Take my tiny needlepoint scissors. (Like you could stab somebody with them)
  • Good News – All planes on time.
  • Good News – Had the sense to bite the bullet & book A& K tour.
  • Bad News – Had stroke! 1st two days in Cairo booked at 4 Seasons at $400 per night. Following Sooz’s motto, “You can’t wear a hotel room,” booked Sofitel for 38.50 Euros ($50.00) per night.
  • Good News – Picked up by driver and two escorts who handle all bags. Get to hotel, have room with real glasses and mini bar. Ahhh, life is good!
  • Bad News – Only Egyptian wine, $30 a bottle.

Readers Digest Condensed Version of Egyptian Tombs – A privileged, egotistical few who lived their entire life preparing for their death, building big block houses with lots of graffiti.

A&K Nile Adventurer

A&K Nile Adventurer

Plus Day 3 – December 31, 2006 – Cairo –Our First Anniversary

  • Bad News – 8:30 am pick up. Experiencing severe jet lag and sleep deprivation. Cold, cloudy, & rainy.
  • Good News – A&K Egyptologist with driver takes us to Cairo Museum. See lots of old stuff including King Tutankhamun’s tomb, (inside a tomb, inside a tomb, inside three boxes, each more elaborate than the other). Go to El-Khalili Bazaar, have authentic Egyptian lunch, Pyramids of Giza, take first (and last) camel ride. Go shopping. Guide extremely informative, discuss politics and religion. Have dinner, go to bed, completely miss NYE.
Temple of Karnak

Temple of Karnak

Plus Day 4 – January 1, 2007- Luxor

  • Bad News – Pick up at 0’Dark:30 for airport departure at 5:00 am. Airport is packed, lines out the doors, total chaos!
  • Good News – Escorts take all bags, get boarding passes, and push to front of line. No waiting!
  • Good News – Airport security does not make us take off our clothes, shoes, check liquids, or anything.
  • Bad News – Not sure there is any security!
  • Good News – Arrive on time. Board A&K Nile Adventurer. (Only 34 cabins) Go to Temple of Karnak. 250 acre complex, 134 columns in hall make it the world’s largest columnar structure. Then to Valley of the Kings & Queens, 1500 B.C., temples are carved into the desert rocks. Total of 62 subterranean tombs, each with numerous chambers once filled to overflowing with treasures, since robbed. Go into 3 of them plus King Tut’s. His tomb not robbed, discovered intact in 1922. Queen Hatshepsut Temple, rises out of the desert plain in a series of terraces, merges with the sheer limestone cliffs that surround it.
  • Bad News – Get back to Luxor at 5:30 exhausted. Attempt to find liquor store to buy bottle of wine. More difficult than expected. End up in part of Luxor where we do not belong.
  • Good News – Get the hell out of there, find restaurant, get Egyptian wine. Go back to ship, have dinner, see Belly Dancing show.
  • Good News – Ship has Australian and French wines.
  • Bad News – Cost – over $100 US.
  • Good News – Egyptian wine is not so bad!
Valley of the Queens

Queen Hatshepsut Temple in Valley of the Queens

Plus Day 5 – January 2, 2007 – Sail to Esna

  • Bad News – Legs sore from prior day of all the walking and climbing stairs in and out of the tombs.
  • Good News – Stay on ship all day. Eat, nap, eat, nap, eat, sleep! Coffee, tea, & water are complimentary.
  • Bad News – Order Ice Tea with lunch, get bill. Have fit, then apologize, tell waiter, “If I’m going to pay for a drink it better have alcohol in it,” charge removed.
Nile Souvenir Salesmen

Nile Souvenir Salesmen

Plus Day 6 – January 3, 2007 – Still sailing to Esna

  • Bad News – We are stuck at the locks for 25 hours instead of 15. Too many ships, only one lock, two ships at a time.
  • Good News – Get through locks, short walk to Temple of Khnum. Greco-Roman style, in good shape, roof and walls intact. Was buried under sand and silt for thousands of years. Town built on top of it, now being torn down. Back on ship to sail to Edfu. Explore Temple of Horus, the largest and most well preserved in all of Egypt. Need to buy “Galabeyyas” to dress up for Egyptian Night costume party.
  • Bad News – Must navigate stalls where Bazaar shop owners simultaneously grab you and beg you to buy. Asking price, $280.00 Egyptian ($50.00 US)
  • Good News – Pay $60 ($10 US). Great authentic Egyptian dinner. Music and dancing in bar.
Nile Travel Insurance

Nile Travel Insurance

Plus Day 7 – January 4, 2007 – Sail to Aswan

  • Good News – Sleep without aid of sleeping pills. 1st stop, Temple of Kom Ombo, dedicated to crocodile-god Sobek. See crocodile mummies. Go to Granite Quarries, see unfinished Obelisk. All Egyptian granite shipped from Aswan. All Obelisks cut from single piece of stone. Go to Philae Temple in Lake Nasser by boat. Once under water, moved to higher island next to it. Go to Aswan dam. Felucca boat ride on Nile at Sunset.
  • Bad News – No wind, no sail, towed by felucca tug boats.
  • Good News – Full moon, clear skies.
Tomb on Lake Nasser

Tomb on Lake Nasser

Plus Day 8 – January 5, 2007 – Aswan

  • Good News – Take taxi to Old Cataract Hotel to have breakfast with our cruise mates at 8:00 (2 nice couples, ages 30’s to 40 from NYC and Puerto Rico. One of which is a Plastic Surgeon & knows Kaiser doctors). Built in 1899, was setting for Agatha Christie’s “Death on the Nile.”
  • Bad News – Egypt’s Prime Minister and Cabinet are there, not allowed in.
  • Good News – Get back in time for our free breakfast on ship. 12:30 check out and transfer to M.S. Eugenie on Lake Nasser for 2nd cruise (52 cabins).
  • Good News – 5 Star ship. Forgot had upgraded to cabin with balcony!
  • Bad News – Not the same 5 Star as A&K Nile Adventurer. Lower Egypt clearly has different rating system!
  • Good News – 3rd Egyptologist, (each more informative than the last). Go to Kalabsha Temple by motor boat, largest free-standing built in Nubia. See Beit El-Wali, very good color & Shrine of Kertassi.
  • Bad News – On verge of Temple overload. Having AADD! TMI!
Camels on Break

Camels on Break

Plus Day 9 – January 6, 2007 – Sail to Wadi El-Sebouha

  • Good News – Ship is just as quiet, never hear engines start up or boat moving at 4:00 am. Watch movie describing how all of the Temples were moved when Lake Nasser was flooded. Incredible fete! Cross Tropic of Cancer at 10 am. Take launch to tour 3 temples. All were cut into pieces 20 & 30 tons each and moved to higher ground.
  • Good News- Lots of English speaking tourists on cruise.
  • Bad News – Mostly Brits, substantially older, and stodgy.
  • Good News – Meet Christina & St. John (pronounced Sen-Jen, go figure) nice couple, our age, great conversations.
  • Bad News – Service not as good, charge us for coffee, tea, & water after being told not to drink Egyptian water! No Egyptian show or TV. Have read both travel books cover to cover.
  • Good News – Have laptop & 12 episodes of Season 5 “24”
King Ramses II Tomb

King Ramses II Tomb

Plus Day 10 – January 7, 2007 – Sail to Amada & Abu Simbel

  • Bad News – Wake up call 6:00 am for tour of Temples.Good News – Room service coffee. Take launch to 3 Temples. 1st one moved intact on a rail system. Took 6 months to go 6 kilometers & only had 2 kilometers of rail. Good color and different style of reliefs and carvings.
  • Good News – Sail to Kasr Ibrahim. View Temple from ship, still in its original location!Good News – Abu Simbel was worth the trip! See Temples of Ramses II and Queen Nefratari, his wife. Famed as most impressive monuments of Ancient Egypt. Each fronted with colossal statues up to 70 feet high. 2000 huge blocks cut out of the mountain & moved 212 feet higher into man-made mountain.
  • Good News – See our first sound & light show.Bad News – Sound in Japanese, head sets in English don’t work. Supposed to have candle dinner overlooking the Temple. NOT!
  • Good News – We have never seen so many stars!
Sharm El Sheikh

Sharm El Sheikh

Plus Day 12 – January 9, 2007 – 3 Perfect Days in Sharm El Sheikh, Sinai Peninsula, Red Sea

Perfect for Sooz = Eat, lay on beach, read trashy novel, nap.
Perfect for Chris = Eat, catch up on 800 emails, nap.

  • Bad News – Lonely Planet quote, “City does not reflect the underwater beauty. Las Vegas-style strip with all the charm of a shopping mall.”
  • Good News – Modern Civilization! IN HEAVEN! Marriott hotel, big room, feather pillows, down comforter, balcony overlooking pool, internet in room that works. Eat hamburgers, Doritos, pizza, Thai, Indian, Italian. Waiter named George, meet first Christian Egyptian. Enjoy long walks along seaside promenade. No Temples!
  • Bad News – Water not hot enough to snorkel.
  • Good News – Next best thing, glass bottom boat. See prettiest colored reefs and fish ever!
  • Good News – Locate liquor store and buy South African & Lebanese wines.
  • Bad News – They are worse & worser, & more expensive.
  • Good News – That Egyptian wine is tasting better by the minute.
  • Bad News – American Embassy in Greece is bombed. Decide we should not be Americans anymore. We’re now English, or when asked, “Where are you from?” we reply, “Marriott.” Creates lots of puzzled faces
Lazer Light Show

Lazer Light Show

Plus Day 15 – January 12, 2007 – Fly to Cairo

  • Good News – Plane on time, got smart, have exit row seats. Once again, new best friend in Cairo, Hany, picks us up, suggests Light & Sound show at Giza. Show starts with marching Pharoahs playing bag pipes? Have tables and waiters serving drinks. Show very good. All 3 pyramids are lit up in background.
  • Bad News – Intermittent breeze of Camel dung permeates the air.
  • Good News – Have dinner at “must-visit Egyptian restaurant, decked out in-over-the-top stage-set Orientalia, padded cushions, gilded furniture, spangly bric-a-brac.” Very trippy & good food. Share table with 2 women, one from San Diego, what are the odds?


El-Khalili Bazaar

El-Khalili Bazaar

Plus Day 16 – January 13, 2007 – Last Day in Cairo

Good News – Used points for Cairo Marriott, room on Executive Floor. Free breakfast and happy hour, enough food for dinner.Bad News – Opt to guide ourselves and take a cab to the El-Khalili Bazaar. Must negotiate all fees before getting in, then renegotiate thru out course of drive. Crazy people!Good News – Practiced haggling past 2 weeks in preparation for final day of shopping!

The Sphinx

The Sphinx

Plus Day 17 January 14, 2007 – Fly home

  • Bad News – Another 0’dark:30 pick up. Plane leaves at 4:10 am, stops in Milan, then JFK, then LAX.
  • Good News – Been a great trip, ready to be back in the good old US of A!

* FFTK&T: Kings are painted blue and referred to as “blue blood.”

Good News – Egypt is in North Africa. (Friends were worried they were going to the Middle East)
Bad News – 5 Egyptian minutes = 20 US minutes
Good News – Sooz is never late!
Good News- Metal detectors and police at all sights.
Bad News – Everyone walks through & sets them off! Nobody does anything.
Good News – Lots of vegetable and fruit dishes.
Bad News – Not all of it tastes that good.
Good News – All Egyptians love Baksheesh.
Bad News – It’s not a dessert. It’s a tip!
Bad News – Lots of flies & bugs.
See first Black person ever with tattoos. Kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it?

Cost of souvenirs – $125
Cost of 5 star A&K vacation – $$$$$
Being in a Third World Country and feeling completely spoiled – Priceless!

* Fun Facts To Know & Tell


April 9, 2009 by · Comments Off on FUN-Travel:Antarctica 

Are First Impressions Lasting Impressions?

Ushuaia Fin del Mundo

Ushuaia Fin del Mundo

Day 12 – Sunday, February 8, 2009

  • Good News – going to Antarctica
  • Bad News – get up 0’dark 30 for 6:30 am flight
  • Good News – take off on time, arrive Ushuaia 9:30 am
  • Bad News – Motto here is “Hurry up and wait”
  • Good News – tour to National Park, lunch with typical Argentinian show, city tour, board ship
    3:00 pm, depart 5:00, see full moon, ship not full, try to get upgrade
  • Good News – Small world, Sooz runs into hotel director, Lech, recognizes him from first cruise,
    Barcelona to Barbados in 2000, where her glass of red wine went all over him in his dress whites,
    he upgrades their cabin, no extra charge, but must not tell anyone

Day Rating – 8

Lunch on deck

Lunch on deck

Day 13 – Monday, February 9, 2009 – Drake passage crossing – cloudy -sunrise 6:04 am, sunset 9:18, temperature around 40 degrees

  • Good News – had put on sea sick patches and seas are relatively calm
  • Good News – eat, drink, nap, eat, drink, sleep
  • Good News – Lech invites them to sit at his table for the Captain’s dinner

Day Rating – 10

Susan and Lech at Captain's Dinner

Susan and Lech at Captain's Dinner

Day 15 – Wednesday, February 11, 2009 – cloudy, rainy, windy, snow flurries – 38 degrees – sunrise 5:05 am, sunset 9:08

  • Good News – 1st landing 10:00 am, board Zodiak for Penguin Island, go to Sea World Chinstrap
    penguins & seal show, they still serve beer here! See Petrols nesting – Rating 10
  • Bad News – 2nd landing at Arctowski, Polish research center, very windy, snow, feels cold –
    Rating 7

Day Rating – 8.5

Zodiak Expedition Boat

Zodiak Expedition Boat

Day 16 – Thursday, February 12, 2009 – Sooz’s birthday – partly cloudy – sunrise 5:16 am, sunset 9:16, temperature around 36 degrees

  • Good News – wake up to card on floor from Dori, the travel agent, $100 on board credit
  • Bad News – 1st landing Half Moon Island 7:30 am, barely awake, lots of rocks & guano (penguin poop) smell is pretty gross – Rating 10
  • Good News – see lots of baby Chinstraps, whale bones, and seals
  • Good News – 2nd landing on Deception Island 5:30, see old whaling buildings, seals, take big
    hike up hill and see Antarctica continent in distant – Rating 10
  • Good News – have surprise birthday party with 23 ship mates in main dining room, was a
    surprise to see who’d show up – Rating 10

Day Rating – better than yesterday 10+

Who Says penguins don't fly

Who Says Penguins Don't Fly?

Day 17 – Friday, February 13, 2009 – partly cloudy – sunrise 5:30 am, sunset 9:30 temperature around 38 degrees, no wind makes it feel warmer

  • Good News – 1st landing Mikkelson Harbour landing, spectacular glaciers, Weddell seals
  • Good News – 2nd landing Cierva Cove, choked with ice, filled with sunshine, Zodiak only tour of
    incredible icebergs, see Gentoo penguins & Leopard seals
  • Good News – back on ship Humpback whales surround us
    Good News – see spectacular sunset

Day Rating – better than yesterday 10++

Leopard Seal Lounging

Leopard Seal Lounging

Day 18 – Saturday, February 14, 2009 – sunshine – sunrise 5:26 am, sunset 9:30 temperature around 40 degrees, no wind makes it feel warmer

  • Good News – 1st landing Port Lockroy, oldest British structure remaining on the Antarctic
    Peninsula, built 1944, see museum and lots of penguins
  • Good News – pool side BBQ lunch with band
  • Good News – go through Lemaire Channel aka Kodak Alley, 7 miles long, 1 mile wide, separates
    Booth Island and Antarctic peninsula with dramatic snow covered mountains
  • Good News – 2nd landing Pleneau Island aka Iceberg Alley, nd playful Minke whale w/in 5′,
    Crabeater seals, chunks of ice with seals perched on top snoozing pass by, Pablo (the whale
    whisperer) our guide, sees spout way away, only Zodiak to get close to Humpback whales

Day Rating – better than yesterday 10+++

Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale

Day 19 – Sunday, February 15, 2009 – sunrise 5:27 am, sunset 9:25 temperature around 38 degrees, no wind makes it feel warmer

  • Good News – 1st landing Neko Harbour, set foot on Antarctic Peninsula, hike up 300′,
    breathtaking views, avalanches of ice create sunami effect in water
  • Good News – special Antarctica BBQ lunch pool side, bananas foster for desert
  • Good News – 2nd landing Cuverville Island, watched penguins jump in & out of the water,
    squawking babies chasing their parents for food, low flying skuas attempted to get any leftovers,
    on way back to ship stop at “Lost Penguin Bar” for champagne toast in Zodiaks

Day Rating – better than yesterday 10++++

Champagne Toast at "Lost Penguin Bar"

Champagne Toast at "Lost Penguin Bar"

FFTK&T breaking sheets of ice sounds like a gunshot in the distant

Day 20 – Monday, February 16, 2009 -Drake Passage-sunrise 5:37 am, sunset 9:07 temperature around 42 degrees

  • Good News – eat, drink, nap, eat, drink, sleep
  • Good News – crossing is Drake Lake not Drake Shake
  • Bad News – no more landings and we are headed back


Day 21 – Tuesday, February 17, 2009 – Drake Passage – sunrise 5:51 am, sunset 9:03 temperature around 52 degrees

  • See day 20
Penguin Chick Feeding Port Lockroy

Penguin Chick Feeding Port Lockroy

Day 22 – Wednesday, February 18, 2009 – Depart ship 8:30 am, head for home

  • Good News – met lots of wonderful people!
  • Bad News – not ready for it to end!
  • Bad News – don’t get home until Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 11:30 am


First Impression/Lasting Impression Antarctica – gotta go back!

Cost of Airfare to South America – free (used points)
Cost of Marriott Hotels in South America – free (used points)
Cost of Antarctica Expedition, take home parka, drinks & tips included – $$$$$$$$$$$$$
Having spouse who really didn’t want to go say “this is the best trip we ever did” – PRICELESS!

*Made it to all 7 continents! Time to start over