My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 6 – Greenock & Stirling Castle–Unicorns Everywhere!

My musings about our 12-day British Isle cruise is a joyful time. As I look back at the pictures and the journal I kept, I get to relive this wonderful trip all over again. I hope you enjoy this sixth day of our adventure!

On July 26, we slept in a little and had breakfast in Windows, one of the specialty restaurants, and had Salmon Benedict, sitting by the windows enjoying the ocean side view.

The View on Deck 12

After breakfast, we went to Deck 7 and took pictures, then up to Deck 12 and took more pictures—clouds hanging over the hills! The ship moved inward to the dock with land on both sides and a wonderful morning of picture taking. We docked at about noon.

My stomach flared up in before we left and didn’t feel good all day—I just continued!

We were welcomed by a bagpiper and this big Scottish friend. Also we laughed at the welcome sign at the terminal at the door of the terminal—what fun!

Lin Shopping to Add to His Kilt Outfit!

The terminal had great shops and we left the ship early enough to have time to shop before our excursion. Lin added to his kilt outfit: a beautiful black vest, white shirt and long white socks. I joined the shopping spree and bought a beautiful jewelry set made of heatherwood: a necklace, bracelet and earrings. Lin ran our purchases back to the ship and we left.

We boarded our bus to drive to Stirling Castle, our excursion for the day. Ian, our guide, shared his Scottish knowledge for one and half hour—lots of information! We drove through Glasgow, a city’s name I knew from an Abba song, “Super Trouper!”

Stirling Castle, located in Stirling, is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both historically and architecturally. The castle sits atop Castle Hill, an intrusivecrag, which forms part of the Stirling Sill geological formation. It is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, giving it a strong defensive position. Its strategic location, guarding what was, until the 1890s, the farthest downstream crossing of the River Forth, has made it an important fortification in the region from the earliest times.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling_Castle

The castle was well-worth the wait! We toured several spectacular areas inside the castle with numerous fireplaces & decorative unicorn shields and/or tapestries over the fireplaces.

We craned our necks to see amazing ceilings with wooden carvings.

We went through the Great Kitchens with life-sized figurines working at their tasks, and a beautiful green view of the surrounding area. The cloud-covered day added to the mystique.

We wandered around the walkaway at the top of the castle, seeing the cemetery near by and the grand vista of the area!

Lin and I in Queen Anne’s Garden

My favorite part was Queen Anne’s garden. We wore our 2020 New Mexico Square and Round Dance Association Festival t-shirts and took pictures in the garden. The array of flowers was beautiful!

We crammed as much as possible into the allotted time at the castle: Chapel Royal, the Great Kitchens and walking around a walkway around the top of the castle.

So when I got to the gift shop, it was closed. I opened the door and begged the clerk to let me in for just a few minutes. She reluctantly agreed, so I ran through the shop and ended up buying a small unicorn—in memory of all the unicorns displayed throughout the castle!

Bridge at Glasgow, Scotland

The ride home through Glasgow was delightful, and I took a great picture crossing a bridge there. When we returned to the terminal, we checked email. Once we boarded the ship, we ate dinner quickly, so we could see the musical production in the Stardust Theater, “Rockin Nights,” a lively tradition to Soul music!

We chalked up another delightful day in Scotland, wandering around a lovely castle, loving the mysterious unicorn interest at Stirling castle and admiring beautiful wooden carved ceilings!

Have you ever had a castle experience? Do you get a sense of history when you step into a castle? Then add unicorns to it! What an experience!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

Two memoirs, a historical fiction, a nonfiction and three cookbooks! It’s your choice! Just be sure to select at least one. Also, I have bundles where you save money when you buy more than one! Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

I HAVE 200 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 5 – Kirkwall & Orkney Islands – A Serendipitous Day!

Surprised cute woman
This Serendipitous Day Surprised Me!

A DISTURBING MORNING

Day 5 turned out to be a serendipitous day, but it’s beginning was harsh! Up at 4:45 AM because of our early excursion, I had trouble sleeping. We received a text from AT&T the night before warning us of a device usage on the cruise that had already exceeded $100. The text also had a phone number to call at no charge, so I did in a panic.

I talked to Josh from AT&T, and he tried to sell us a cruise package. He assured us there would be no charge after I explained that it was a mistake. Somehow my husband, Lin’s iPad had Airplane mode turned off. Also, LIn had trouble getting on the network on the cruise ship. Apparently, he thought he was on the cruise ship network, and he was using AT&T’s data. After thinking about it, I’m pretty sure the network tech was the culprit because he took Lin’s iPad away from him and was fiddling with it trying to get it to go online. It was after that the charges started!

We’ve all heard horror stories of travelers who had gigantic phone charges. When we traveled to Ireland and England in 2017, Lin found AT&T’s International Day Pass plan, and we activated it on my phone then. It’s a great plan: $10 for a 24-hour period of unlimited calling and texting. I used it sparingly and it was great—exactly what they said.

So, for this trip, we set it up on my phone again before we left. We hadn’t used it yet on this cruise, so this whole problem with the charges seemed crazy to me. My stomach flared up in the midst of this, but I was able let it go—I didn’t want this to ruin our trip!

We got ready and took our tour stuff to breakfast, planning to leave from there, and was at the Stardust theater at 6:45 AM. The ship docked at 7:00 AM and would be leaving early in the afternoon at 1:00 PM. The Norwegian travel agent entertained us with fun-filled activities while we waited. Our cruise ship was docked away from land, so we caught the first tender available.

SOUTH ISLAND PANORAMIC EXCURSION

Cattle Graze with the Ocean in the Background
Cattle Grazed with the Ocean in the Background

Seated in the back of the bus, we traveled through checker board farm land so rich and green! As I looked at all the green pastures and abundance of water, my ranching background kicked in and I marveled at it. Our southeastern Colorado family ranch has a horrible water shortage right now with all our reservoirs empty!

Churchill Barrier

As our travels continued, we passed over the Churchill Barrier. Our guide told us that the Barrier was built because of the sinking of HMS Royal Oak in 1939.

“Four barriers were built during the Second World War to protect the great natural harbour of Scapa Flow, the home of the Royal Navy during the conflict, from enemy attacks. Construction of the causeways was ordered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill after the sinking of HMS Royal Oak in October 1939 by a German U-boat.”


https://www.orkney.com/news/churchill-barriers

Water surrounded us as we traveled through this chain of islands—water, water, everywhere! Cattle and sheep fed in green fields.

Catholic Chapel on Lamb Holm Island

Our first stop on our tour was a picturesque Catholic chapel.

“The Italian Chapel is a highly ornate Catholic chapel on Lamb Holm in the Orkney Islands. It was built during World War II by Italian prisoners of war captured in North Africa, who were housed on the previously uninhabited island while they constructed the Churchill Barriers to the east of Scapa Flow. Only the concrete foundations of the other buildings of the prisoner-of-war camp survive. It was not completed until after the end of the war, and was restored in the 1960s and again in the 1990s. It is now a popular tourist attraction,”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Chapel

As always, we didn’t have enough time to linger, but the inside of this chapel took my breath away. Admiring the ingenuity of these prisoners to use what they had available, they used a Quonset hut for the building, light holders made out of corn beef tins, and the baptismal font created from the inside of a car exhaust.

From there we traveled to St. Margaret’s Hope.

St Margaret’s Hope is a town in the Orkney Islands, off the north coast of Scotland. It is known locally as “The Hope” or “The Hup”. With a population of about 550, it is Orkney’s third largest settlement. . .”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Margaret%27s_Hope

I had a delightful time shopping there at a Craft Workshop, buying a wool/cashmere blend yarn. I love to knit and plan on making something beautiful out of this. Lin found the local ice cream shop.

It was back to Kirkwall on the bus, and the line for the tenders to get back to our cruise ship was long, so I immediately got in line. We were leaving at 1:00 PM, and I didn’t want to be one of the casualties of not managing our time appropriately and getting left behind. Lin always pushes it to the limit, so he shopped and found a beautiful new Scottish beret. Our trip back to the cruise ship on the tender was pleasant and we were back on time!

ONBOARD THE SHIP

We ate a quick lunch and napped the afternoon away, sleeping four hours! Later, we ate dinner up on Deck 12 at Raffles because I needed a small meal–the restaurants served such big meals. Then we gambled in the casino our obligatory $20 limit, but I left the slots with $15! After that, we went to the 9:30 PM Danielle Williams show, a woman singer, and it was great.

What a delightful day we had in a remote area of Scotland where peaceful rural life was the norm. The serendipities of the day surprised me: the chapel so loved by the Italian prisoners of war and a lovely small village so welcoming and warm.

Have you ever had a serendipitous day! on a trip? What was it? I’d love to hear about your experience!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

Two memoirs, a historical fiction, a nonfiction and three cookbooks! It’s your choice! Just be sure to select at least one. Also, I have bundles where you save money when you buy more than one! Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

I HAVE 199 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY! Be the 200th to pre-order! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Scotland · Travel

Day 4 – Inverness, Cawdor Castle & Loch Lomond: A Day of Intrigue and Mystery

            Lin and I woke up to rain on July 24, 2019, day four on our British Isle cruise and visit to Scotland. We docked at Invergordon. Lin had created a weather spreadsheet before we left and the prediction for most of our trip was RAIN, so here we were! But after our showers and breakfast, it cleared and proved to be a beautiful, cloudy day.

Farms Along the River Ness

            We caught our tour bus and met our tour guide, John, a very knowledgeable man who shared his wisdom of Scotland and the Scottish Highlands. He described Cromarty Firth, the Black Isle, as we traveled through the countryside. The patchwork green fields fascinated me with checker board farm land and beautiful rock houses, rolling hills and green for miles. Sheep grazed in the fields and there was recently mowed hay. I love the green of Scotland. We headed to our first stop, Cawdor Castle.

            Cawdor Castle is unique as a castle in Great Britain because the government doesn’t own it.

“Originally a property of the Calder family, it passed to the Campbells in the 16th century. It remains in Campbell ownership, and is now home to the Dowager Countess Cawdor, stepmother of Colin Campbell, 7th Earl Cawdor. “

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cawdor_Castle

John, our tour guide, called her “Angelica.” In fact, John and some people on our tour saw her. She funds Cawdor Castle herself and from revenue the castle brings in.

Famous Hawthorn Tree in the castle

            Intrigue and mystery permeated Cawdor castle with its rich story of how it was built:

The legendary tale says that the Thane of Cawdor, who had a small castle about a mile away, decided to build a new, stronger tower. Visited by an oracle in his dream who instructed him to load a chest of gold onto the back of a donkey. The spot where the animal rested would be a safe haven to build a Castle for his family. Finally resting at the foot of a Hawthorn Tree, the Thane built his tower. The tree exists to this day, standing at the heart of Cawdor Castle.


https://www.cawdorcastle.com/welcome-to-cawdor-castle/a-living-home/

            The major claim to fame for Cawdor Castle is the reference in Shakespeare’s play, MacBeth

“The name of Cawdor still connects the castle to Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. However, the story portrayed by Shakespeare takes extensive liberties with history. In the play, Shakespeare has three witches foretell that Macbeth, then Thane of Glamis, would become Thane of Cawdor and King thereafter. Duncan almost immediately makes Macbeth Thane of Cawdor, after which Macbeth and his Lady plot the murder of Duncan in order to fulfil the prophecy. Duncan is killed in his sleep, at Macbeth’s castle in Inverness, an act that leads to Macbeth’s ultimate downfall.
The historical King Macbeth ruled Scotland from 1040 to 1057, after his forces killed King Duncan I in battle near Elgin. Macbeth was never Thane of Cawdor, this being an invention of the 15th-century writer Hector Boece. Moreover, Cawdor Castle did not exist during the lifetimes of Macbeth or Duncan, and it is never explicitly mentioned in the play. The 5th Earl Cawdor is quoted as saying, “I wish the Bard had never written his damned play!”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cawdor_Castle#Gardens

Motto over the Entry Way

            Any time I stand outside a castle, I feel overwhelmed with the rock work, size and history of it—Cawdor castle was no exception. The motto, Be Mindful, hung over the entryway to the castle and set the tone for the place.

Living room in the castle

Because this castle is actually a home, the inside felt comfortable and lived in. Bright green and blue Highland Tartan rugs ran throughout it. Huge tapestries hung on all the walls that didn’t have paintings on them.

            Lin and I enjoyed the famous gardens at Cawdor castle but ran out of time, not getting to spend any leisure time there–one of the downfalls of being on a tour.

            In our drive to Loc Lomond, we drove by the battleground of the Battle of Culloden where red and blue flags still wave to identify the two forces that met that day. John gave us a rousing description of this famous battle.

The Battle of Culloden (/kəˈlɒdən/;[3] Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart were decisively defeated by Hanoverian forces commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Culloden

            I had been looking forward to seeing Loch Lomond all day–of course to the Loch Ness monster! The weather held out with beautiful sunshine overhead and rain clouds hovering at the far end of the lake. It’s a big lake! Of course, I strained my eyes for any trace of Nessie—I was sure I saw her or at least a part of her!

            Back on the bus, we traveled through the city of Inverness at the end of our tour and went by the Tomnahurich Cemetery. Inverness means “Mouth of the River Ness.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverness

Scottish Highland Bull

As the daughter of a Hereford cattle rancher, all day I had been looking for the shaggy red-haired Scottish Highland cattle in the fields, and as our day neared the end, we saw a bull in a pasture—not up close and personal, but I did get to see one!

From there we returned to Invergordon, and I loved John’s parting words to us, “Hasty back!” Lin and I shopped around town. We found an ice cream shop with free Wifi, so we checked our email and had ice cream. It was fascinating to watch the locals gather in this little shop and listen to them share their news–a true neighborhood gathering spot! We bought souvenirs and returned to the ship.

Bagpipes and Drums Sent Us Off

A bagpipe and drum group sent us off! What a great day we had in Scotland!

When we got onboard, we decided to go directly to the Garden Room for dinner, not thinking about the baseball cap I was wearing. This is one of the nicer complimentary restaurants onboard, so they forced me to remove my hat. It certainly was a bad hair day after wearing a hat all day, but I decided it didn’t matter.  I patted down my hair and was seated. After dinner, we saw the “World Beat” show in the Stardust theater with lots of singing and dancing. It was an exceptional show.

We showered and got to bed early because we had an early departure the next day for our excursion to Kirkwall.

Have you ever visited a castle? Strained to see the Loc Ness monster? Traveled to Scotland? Share your comments with me. I’d love to hear about your trip!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

Curl up with one of my books–either paperback or ebook format! 20% discount on all 4 of my book bundles until September 22, 2019. Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 3 – On Our Own in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle front
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh was our first stop in Scotland! When we were making our excursion plans at home, Lin and I decided to do Edinburgh on our own. We mainly wanted to see the Edinburgh Castle. He found some information that said they sold limited amounts of tickets each day, so that was our focus—also the Royal Mile.

The Royal Mile is a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. The term was first used descriptively in W M Gilbert’s Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century (1901), “…with its Castle and Palace and the royal mile between”, and was further popularised as the title of a guidebook, published in 1920.[1]

From the Castle gates to the Palace gates the street is almost exactly a mile (1.6 km) long and runs downhill between two significant locations in the royal history of Scotland, namely Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, hence its name. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Mile

When I woke up the third day of our cruise, I was so excited–my first time to Scotland. The ship anchored away from the shore, so, we had to ride a tender to get to Newhaven to catch a bus to Edinburgh. Our tender was scheduled to leave at 11:15 am, but we were lucky and left earlier. On the tender, we enjoyed a friendly exchange with a couple from San Diego who were adventuresome, too and doing the city on their own. We rode bus #15 to go into Edinburgh and had a delightful tour guide, Barbara, but she wasn’t much help until we asked for it. She warned us that we needed to be back to the bus by 6:15 pm because the ship was leaving at 6:30 pm.

We had some concerns because on ship we were told the last tender would leave Newhaven at 6:30 pm. Because of our late departure from Southampton, the first couple day’s itinerary had been adjusted, but apparently our tour guide didn’t get the news. Everyone on the bus seemed worried.

Barbara did hand out maps, so away we walked searching for the Royal Mile and the castle.

Bagpiper on the Royal Mile!

The Royal Mile is quite distinctive with quaint shops selling kilts, tartans and souvenirs. Bagpipers dressed in bright tartans played and entertained us!

I needed a restroom, so we stopped at one place that was like a chamber of commerce. They steered us up to the castle where I found one downstairs in a café. Waiting in line was hot, and I felt faint, so we took a break and had water. Lin had a sweet treat, and I had a banana. That helped.

St. Margaret's Chapel in Edinburgh Castle
St. Margarets Chapel

We toured the castle—a massive structure on the hill with St. Margaret’s Chapel dating back to 1130 being one of the sights we visited. Down in the bowels of the castle, we saw the prison where prisoners slept on hammocks. We went through the Royal Scots Dragoon Museum.

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum is a regimental museum displaying the collections of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and its predecessor regiments. It is based in the New Barracks (built between 1796 and 1799) at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Scots_Dragoon_Guards_Museum

View of our ship from Edinburgh Castle

There was absolutely too much to see in a day, but we thoroughly enjoyed the view from the castle. One attraction I hated missing was the Royal Jewels, but the line was way too long to wait with our limited time.

From there we wandering down the Royal Mile, stopping at several shops to buy souvenirs. I spied a Starbucks, so we took another break and had a Latte and Frappuccino and enjoyed a high-speed Internet connection. I bought one of my favorite souvenirs there—a coffee travel mug with the Edinburgh castle on it.

From there we continued shopping, and I found a store that sold a variety of handbags in a wide range of Scottish tartan colors—reds, blues, and purples! A young Scottish man, Liam, adopted us and told us that the red tartan I like was the Lowland tartan. 

While I bought my bag, Lin took Liam next door to shop for a kilt! Lin liked the navy blue and green tartan which is the Highland tartan, so Lin ended up buying a kilt and sporran.

A sporran which is Gaelic for purse, is a pouch worn with the male traditional Highland dress. The kilt has no pockets and so the sporran was designed for that function.

http://gaukartifact.com/2013/03/19/what-is-a-sporran/

Lin and Liam, our host in Edinburgh!

Lin and I so enjoyed Liam and his hospitality—a true ambassador for Scotland. We exchanged our Facebook information and are now friends. Any time I think of our Edinburgh experience, I think of Liam and his smile!

Lin proudly wore his kilt the rest of the afternoon, enjoying comments made by passersby. We laughed about what Liam and the sales’ clerk told him about what’s traditionally worn under a kilt–NOTHING!

Lin and I walked back to the bus early which my idea. Lin always has to be right down to the wire, but I like to be back early. I was also still wondering if our tour guide had given us the correct time to return. He couldn’t stand being early, so we took off up the hill, enjoying the walk and the scenery. I turned around before Lin did and went back to the bus and visited with Barbara, our tour guide. Lin made it back at 6:10—I was already on the bus and nervous!

When we left the bus and started down the walk towards the tenders, Lin walked in front of me, and one of the workers at gate grabbed me and whispered in my ear, “Tell him to go traditionally when he wears a kilt!” I laughed and shared this bit of advice with Lin.

On our tender ride back to the ship, we saw a seal on a buoy! I so enjoy the ocean and its serendipities! We made it back in time. Exhausted, we ate up on Deck 12 at Raffles, the buffet. We saw the evening entertainment at the Star Dust and headed straight to bed. What a day we had in Edinburgh and Lin had a kilt!

This cruise differed so much from previous ones. Usually we have sea days in-between ports, but on this cruise, we had one sea day, and then it was port-after-port-after-port which for Lin and I was either an excursion or outing each day! Whew!!

Have you visited Edinburgh? What was your experience? Do you own a kilt?

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

Curl up with one of my books–either paperback or ebook format! 20% discount on all 4 of my book bundles until September 22, 2019. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 1 & 2- Flight Day & First Day at Sea

Lin and I left Albuquerque on Friday, July 19 and flew to Denver. On Saturday, July 20 we flew to Toronto, Canada and started our flight to London. We arrived at Heathrow on Sunday, July 21 at 11:50 AM! Whew! If you didn’t read my blog last week, you need to catch up and read that harrowing experience.

When we got off the plane (in travel lingo, is that deplaned?) and gathered our luggage, we had trouble finding the Norwegian Cruise Line representative to catch the shuttle to Southampton. As you actually enter the Heathrow airport, multitudes of travel companies, tours, etc. stand with signs designating their company on each side of a walk-way that passengers must pass through. We experienced this two years ago trying to find our transport to our hotel.

So, I stopped with our four cumbersome bags, and Lin wandered around one area and had no luck, then he went the other direction—again no luck. I asked someone standing near me, and they pointed out where NCL (Norwegian Cruise Lines) reps usually stand, so we crossed over to the other side of the walk-way and still no NCL rep.

Again, I asked someone standing near the walk-way, and the woman said, “He’ll be right back!” So, we found him. Overwhelmed the NCL rep rushed in like a whirlwind and let us know he was short-handed and many flights had been delayed, so he was doing the best he could. Lin and I were just relieved to find him. The responsibility of transport was on Norwegian now, so we could relax.

I found some snacks for us. We hadn’t come prepared on this trip with foreign currency, and it just now dawned on both of us! We came with American dollars and would be in places in countries that didn’t accept our money! They did accept it at Heathrow though, so I returned to Lin, and we waited patiently.

Finally, the NCL rep herded our group out the door to the bus. At this time, it had grown to a sizable crowd. We found our bus, boarded and headed towards Southampton. I was so exhausted from our flight but so excited to be back in London again!

Yahooooooo! We made it!

The one hour and a half trip went smoothly, and we arrived at the Norwegian Star at 4:30 PM. Usually when we board the ship, the terminal overflows with people and activity—only one or two Norwegian people worked behind the desk. That was it! No picture of us boarding the ship!

One thing they did that was strange: they took our passports and said they would stamp them and return them to us later. Really?

Lin and I boarded the ship, found our room–#5078–and relaxed a moment but heard an announcement that we had to attend the “Emergency Training” in the Stardust theater on Deck 7! We took a breath and ran up to the training. The review of what to do in an emergency reminded me of the danger of sailing on a ship, and interestingly enough, we learned on this trip that the Titanic sailed out of Southampton on its fateful voyage, just like us! We found our designated spot to go to in case of an emergency and went upstairs to the buffet, Raffles, for our first meal of the day.

When we got back to our room, we unpacked and relaxed until the entertainment show at 7:30 PM, fully aware we hadn’t left port yet. We were supposed to leave at 5:00 PM, so we thought the cruise director would explain our delay at the show—she didn’t.

The show was an overview of the talent we would see on this cruise and they all were exceptional! Lin and I especially like the magician.

After the show, we slipped back to our room quickly and went to bed—exhausted from this marathon day.

On July 22, I slept until 8:00 AM. When I’m onboard a ship, I always look out the window first thing to see what I can see—we were sailing. We found out later Norwegian crew worked in scuba gear for hours, and the cruise was almost canceled, but we finally left port about 4:30 AM. Lin and I were so exhausted we never heard the ship pull away from the port. Lin was gone when I woke up—out walking the deck and enjoying the sea. I never heard him leave!

When he returned, we had a leisurely breakfast in Raffles, the buffet on the deck 12, one of the complimentary restaurants on the Star. In wandering around deck 12 and getting oriented again, we found the Game Room, so we played a couple Cribbage games, and Lin won. We continued our tour of the ship and had a delightful lunch in Windows, one of the complimentary restaurants onboard ship.

Lin’s $20 Chocolate

Anyone who knows Lin knows he loves chocolate. We went by the Tourist Shop onboard, and Lin bought a HUGE bar of Lindt chocolate. Shocked after he bought it, it cost $20. He rationed it out the whole trip, and we finished it in the airport in London waiting for our flight home.

At about 2:00 PM, we participate in one of our favorite onboard ship activities: Deal or No Deal. Neither one of us was chosen to play, but everyone who participates has a chance to be a winner, and Lin won a free 8 X 10 photo.

Afterwards, we went to the Excursion desk to put our names on a waiting list for Conwy Castle at Holyhead, Wales. It was sold out when we booked our excursion, so we signed up for Penrhyn Castle & Gardens as a second choice. The agent told us they would create another tour if enough people asked—we both really wanted to go to Conwy Castle because of the pictures we saw, and it all worked out!

After all this activity, Lin and I retired to our room, and he napped. I experimented with getting on the Internet and had some problems. I also worked on my current book project: the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo. Yes, I took Flippo with me on this cruise.

We ate dinner at Shogun’s, another complimentary restaurant for certain dishes, then went to the early show and saw Danielle Williams—energetic pop music singer!

Lin had heard they had coconut ice cream up at Raffles, so we ventured up to see. They didn’t have it, but they had a piña colada that was delicious. We went by the lounge for a short time and listened to the band, Hot Wire.

When we got back to the room, we tried the Internet again. Lin had a lot of trouble, and it was slow for me, so we gave up and went to bed.

The next day we had our first experience in Scotland—Edinburgh and the castle! We were both excited about the four ports in Scotland! Also, the next day started our marathon of ports and excursions—ten ports, ten excursions and no at-sea days in-between to catch up and rest! None of our previous cruises had this intense schedule!

So, next week I will share our Edinburgh adventures! Stay tuned!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

BACK TO SCHOOL SAVINGS END AUGUST 16, 2019: 50%off of ALL MY DIGITAL BOOKS at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42s