Thursday, May 23, 2019

Norwegian Epic: Barcelona to Rome/Disembartion Day/ Solo Travel



The fourth day of my cruise was disembarkation day. I woke up really early and made coffee. The balcony rooms on NCL come with coffeemakers.  My backpack had been collected the night before, so all I had to do was organize my carry on bag. Once again, I enjoyed my coffee with cream and sugar out on the balcony. It was perfectly quiet and peaceful.  I was  glad that I had packed wool socks, cashmere leggings, and an alpaca turtleneck. My soft, cozy knits came in handy for the early morning hours, and for wearing on the plane.  I also put on my tennis shoes. I knew that they would be comfortable for the long travel day. You do a lot of walking in airports.  I had debated whether or not to bring them, but I needed  them at the gym, as well. I packed my sandals and a pair of black tango shoes. (which I wore at night to see the shows.)  

I went down to O'Sheehans and had breakfast. There were some other early risers there, as well. It was still dark outside. We were now docked in Rome, but I wouldn't be seeing it this time. I worked there when I was 26, and toured with the European Tour of "42nd Street". It is one of my favorite cities.  We performed at Teatra Sistina. (near the Sistine Chapel.)


I got in line early, with several other passengers. We disembarked very quickly. Right away I found my bus parked right in front of the pier. There were uniformed agents there to help us and to answer our questions. My name was on the list of passengers headed to the airport. I had arranged my transportation through NCL for my flight home, and to ride their airport bus.  It was a relief to have it all organized, and to not have to spend money on a taxi, or worry about pickpockets. It's quite a ways to the airport. The drive takes about an hour and a half.

I found my backpack in the red group after the luggage was delivered. Everything was so well organized. The bus driver offered to put it in the trunk for me. He was very kind, and really took pride in his work. I love that about the Italians that I met. It was a very comfortable bus, and  was only about half full.

When we arrived at our terminal, the NCL agent provided  luggage carts for us. I was so appreciative. They normally cost $5.00. I always use them; it really makes a difference when you have an older dancer's body and two replaced hips.

I sat next to a young man and his wife from Alabama. She had her headphones on, but he and I had an animated conversation about Capri, Sorrento, and the love of travel. He was so enthusiastic! His photographs were gorgeous. He sells them. He is in the business of wine, and was excited about a bottle  that he had purchased  for a third of what it would have cost him at home. I really enjoyed conversing with him.  He told me that he is determined to do a lot more traveling. So am I. It really expands your mental horizons.


On my connecting flight, I sat next to a  man who was on his way to join the Marines. He offered me one of his headphones, and also some of the snack he had brought on board with him. I thought that was so cute. I politely declined; I had packed my own headphones and snack. We talked about diet, discipline, and his future plans. He was a very sweet man. I watched some television and a movie, and that was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Since I don't have t.v. at home, it was exciting and entertaining. The film was about Mary Queen of Scotts.  The actors were fantastic.

I was so impressed with the flight crew on Delta. The women were so pretty, upbeat, patient, and mature. I like that their company hires ladies over forty. They seemed so happy in their work. One of them said to me, "You are always smiling, you should be a flight attendant." After observing them, I had actually been thinking about applying.  I don't think I could handle the fourteen hour days with my replaced hips, though.  Plus, at my age the jet lag knocks me out like a zombie. I really connected with the vibe of our international crew. The food was excellent, too. They even served us Starbucks coffee!  Delta definitely felt like a  luxurious airline to me. It was more comfortable, and had more leg room.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Norwegian Epic: Barcelona to Rome/Day Three/ Solo Travel



The third day was the most exciting, because we arrived in Naples, or Napoli. I took the elevator to the top deck early in the morning, and watched the sun rise. It was glorious! I met two men who were traveling together. We had a fun conversation and lots of laughs. They were a couple. One was from Australia, the other was from Los Angeles. We compared notes on Norwegian Air. I had an excellent experience with them, and the price was superb.  They are one of the only airlines that fly non stop from LAX to Barcelona.

I got off of the ship early and walked to the ticket counter for the Hydrofoil. I met a nice couple from England who were waiting for the same boat. We chatted for a while, and sat  together. They had been staying in Napoli, and had rented a car. She thought I was "very brave" to be traveling on my own.  I thought they were daring to be driving in Italy. We had an enjoyable time together; they felt like old friends to me.


The island of Capri was magical. I really fell in love with that place. I took so many photos. Most of the ones you see on the past few blog posts are from Capri. It is so charming and spiritual. Everything there looks like art. I walked through the narrow streets, and took some of the steep staircases that are tucked in among the homes.  It was fun to peek into the gardens.

I stopped at a market and bought some loquats. I was interested in experiencing a grocery store that the locals use in Italy. Everyone was so helpful. I felt right at home.


I came back early, and had lunch on the ship. Next time, I will stay all day, and explore Anacapri. I'd like to have lunch in one of the restaurants. I did walk down to the beach, and put my feet in the water. There was a sweet little long haired dachshund there with a young man. The little dog seemed like he had been abused, but he liked me. I had one as a child named Noodles. There were a few other people relaxing on the sand, as well. It was peaceful and quiet. I stopped at a cafe and had a ham and cheese sandwich. The owner served it to me with pride. "Ham and cheese," he announced. "Classic!" he added. I thanked him warmly. The view of the sea was spectacular. The water just sparkles.

I was a little nervous about getting back to port in plenty of time. I had read horror stories of people arriving back from tours too late, due to traffic. You don't want to miss the ship.  I overcompensated, but enjoyed lunch on the ship when I returned. I like to eat my meals there, since I have already paid for them. I also went back to the spa. I wanted to get full use of my membership, since I had spent money on that, too.


I decided not to go to the Solo Lounge that evening, and just went down to Taste for dinner. I chatted with my waitress, and the couple seated next to me. The fruit tart that I had for dessert was excellent. The lady to my right had tiramisu, and she raved about it.

I had made reservations to see Priscilla, Queen of the Desert that night. The show started at 7:00 p.m. Once again, I was so impressed with the talent and technical level of that production. The leads were especially good. It was a very enjoyable evening. NCL really shines in the entertainment department. It's their specialty.

I went home and packed my bag. The cruise line provides porters who will pick your luggage up at your door and have it near the bus for you when you disembark. I knew that this would be a relief. Lugging my bags around on my arrival  had been a mistake.  I wished that I had brought my Burley Travoy luggage cart/bike trailer, or had invested in a carry on with rollers.

Once again, I couldn't sleep, due to jet lag. I had gotten used to it, though. I said some prayers of thanks. The trip had been a huge success. I had done and seen everything that I had planned. It was exciting and rewarding to reflect on the memories and experiences.  What a wonderful journey!

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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Norwegian Epic: Barcelona to Rome/Day Two/ Solo Travel



The first two nights on the ship I didn't sleep very well. Although the bed was ultra comfortable, and the room was perfectly quiet, I was wired. My body felt jet lagged, and I seemed to get tired during the day. I was charged with energy at night. I just went with it.  Normally I sleep very well, but now I was dealing with a huge time change, having traveled from Los Angeles to Spain.  My body clock was way out of whack.

Sunday night I decided give up on sleeping and to call for a pizza at 2:00 a.m. They have 24 hour room service on the ship. When in doubt on a cruise, you usually eat. I got up, and enjoyed yet another meal. NCL had left  a complimentary bottle of sparking fruit wine on my bed as a gift, so I had a glass of that, too. (even though I normally don't drink.) It did the trick, and I gratefully fell asleep.

The second night I decided to just get up and take a walk around the ship. It was midnight, and people were still out partying. There was a movie with Judy Dench playing on the big screen in the Atrium. I ordered a fruit salad with banana bread at O'Sheehans, and then hoped to watch the rest of the movie. By the time I got down there, the credits were rolling. Next time...

Day two was a sea day. After having breakfast in the Garden Cafe, and eating outside on the deck, I decided to explore the gym. It was fantastic! I loved the view of the water. I used the stationary bike, the weight machines, and the yoga studio. I kind of overdid it. My shoulders were so sore the next day that I could hardly lift my purse. I was a bit concerned about carrying my bags. I've got to remember that I'm 54. Sometimes I still really push it, physically.


Once again, I had lunch at O'Sheehans. This time I ordered a salad and shepherd's pie. It was very good. I didn't go to any  of the specialty restaurants this cruise. My plan was to try the free places and pay for one pizza delivery. I had budgeted for a trip to Capri, and a pass at the spa. Next time instead of the spa I will try Cagney's Steakhouse and a couple of the other places. On my upcoming cruise I will receive a coupon for two complimentary dinners at the specialty restaurants. It's kind of like a rewards program. I am looking forward to it. I ate in a couple of them on The Norwegian Bliss last May, and the food was excellent!     


I headed back to the spa and soaked my sore body in the whirlpools.  They have a lovely station with citrus water, tea, and fresh fruit. Having a cup of hot tea really helped to warm me up, since I felt a  bit cold. I relaxed on the lounge chairs that are made of heated stones. They provide very cushy, white, plush bathrobes, too. I used the same one for the three days I was there. I did the same with the towels. You are given two blue beach towels, I believe. After that you are charged. I kept my bath towels and beach towel hung up, so that no water was wasted on laundry. Everything was very clean and new. If you leave a towel on the floor of your room, your cabin steward will replace it with a fresh one.

That evening, after socializing briefly in the Solo Lounge, I had dinner again at Taste. I enjoyed the view out the window of the sea. This time I ordered the chicken, sweet potatoes, and marinated vegetables. It was a nice meal. I loved the desserts. I sampled several at the different complimentary places on the ship. It's exciting to eat new foods and to get out of your regular routine of cooking.


I had a reservation to see Burn The Floor at 7:00 p.m. I was unprepared for what a phenomenal show this is. The ballroom dancers were incredible! I was thrilled, and had chills over and over again. It's a wonderful show on so many levels. The music, costumes, choreography, hair, make-up, and tech are all top notch. I could watch that show every night. The women, especially, were alluring and passionate. It's my kind of dancing.


I went back to my room and tried to go to bed at 10:00 p.m. Once again, I couldn't sleep. I had another glass of my complimentary sparkling wine, even though I normally don't drink. I was pretty wired from the show. The energy on a cruise ship is very "go go go!" I could feel it. You could stay up all night, and there is always somewhere to go or something to do. I wanted to sleep, though, since I was looking forward to arriving in Naples the next morning.

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Norwegian Epic:Barcelona to Rome/Day One/ Solo Travel


I booked a hotel room for the first night in Barcelona, just to be safe. You never know if your flight may be delayed, and I didn't want to risk missing the ship. I slept in until 10:00 a..m., (which is very unusual for me.  I am normally a very early riser.)  I got up, showered, put on my make-up, and headed downstairs for breakfast. The waiter was a handsome man from a mountainous region of Spain. He was very thoughtful and sweet.  He offered to refill my water bottle for me. They had a beautiful stone cistern that looked like it was an antique. I had packed a stainless steel water bottle for the trip. It came in so handy, especially on the airplane. That way I didn't need to worry about buying water on the ship, or using plastic.

I took a taxi  to the port at around 11:00 a.m. It was only fifteen Euros. There was a long line to check in, which I expected. The ship holds 4,100 passengers. We all waited patiently. I had lunch at O'Sheehans,  ordering a salad and chicken fajitas. It was very good, and I enjoyed the atmosphere. After finding my cabin and unpacking, I went to the pool and jacuzzi. I met a man from England there, and chatted with him for a while. We went on the water slide, which I found  slightly terrifying. I was concerned about my replaced hips, but pushed through the fear. Relieved that I didn't dislocate anything, I took the elevator up to the 14th floor to check out the  spa. I had purchased a pass online for the duration on the cruise. By getting it in advance, I received a 20% discount.


The spa was fabulous. I took a sauna, and relaxed in the whirlpools. The view was amazing! The water is so glorious. I met a nice woman in the dressing room who gave me instructions on how to get to Capri from Naples.  She was traveling on her own, as well.

At 5:00 I went down the the Solo Lounge and met with the other solo travelers. We were all excited about being on the cruise, and it was fun to have a social group, if you wanted to make plans to eat together, or to have a drink in their bar. I ordered  a Lavazza cappuccino.  We even had our own bartender.


At 7:00 p.m. I attended the Cirque show. It included dinner, and was reasonably priced. I had booked it months in advance. The dinner was a perfectly seasoned, tender filet mignon. It was heavenly. The dessert was divine. It was a trio of samples. My favorite was the red velvet cake.  I sat comfortably with two couples in a booth. They were really friendly and fun. One was two men, the other was a man and a woman. I was between them. It was interesting to hear about their careers. One was in hotel management, the other was a judge in Los Angeles. The show was fantastic! I gave them a standing ovation feeling awe over their muscular bodies and strength. 


From there I went back to my room, brushed my teeth, and took off my makeup.  I changed into my red Lanz flannel nightgown, and flopped into bed. It had been an exciting and fulfilling day.  By then the waves were 60 feet high, so the ship was really rocking. Fortunately, I didn't get seasick.  I am still feeling the sensation of being on a boat, even though I have been on land since Wednesday.

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Solo Cruise From Barcelona To Rome


Last May I  booked a three night cruise on the Norwegian Epic.  I got an excellent deal through my friend Richard. We were dance captains in Berlin on Anything Goes together. He is now the Vice President of Entertainment at NCL  I found  a low cost round trip airfare, as well.

On Friday I packed a few outfits in my backpack, and placed my toiletries and electronics in my carry on bag. I walked to the bus stop around the corner from my home.   After a short ride,  I got off at the Metrolink station, and walked up to the train platform.  I bought a ticket at the kiosk,  and took the following commuter train to Union Station. From there  I boarded the Flyaway bus to LAX.



Once inside, I checked the board and saw that my flight with Norwegian was on time. I had arrived at the airport very early, just to be on the safe side. I killed some time by having  dinner at Planet Hollywood,  enjoying a bacon cheeseburger and engaging in some interesting people watching.


The flight was full, and it was an all-nighter. After over twelve hours, we arrived in Barcelona. I changed over some money at the conversion booth and  took a taxi to Hotel Market.


Once  I had unpacked and showered, my friend Gayle came and met me and we walked around  the market. We sat in the hotel bar and chatted. It was so much fun to finally meet her, and to have a friend in Barcelona. Hotel Market is a boutique hotel. It used to be an old house. It's very charming. I loved the dark wood and the old, heavy doors.


The next morning, after enjoying a delicious  breakfast at the hotel's restaurant, I took a taxi to the port. After getting through the line and checking in,  I settled into my room and unpacked. I had a lovely balcony cabin. The views were spectacular!  

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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Using The Beach Bike Path in Santa Monica



This morning I drove down to Santa Monica to rent a bike and try out the bike path that runs along the beach. My dog Lula was eager to come with me, so I decided to let her enjoy the trip, and sleep in the car. I parked in covered parking at my favorite lot on Colorado and 2nd Street. The first ninety minutes there are free. The ocean breeze keeps the area cool and comfortable.


I walked down to The Pier, and rented a beach cruiser at Perry's Bike and Skate Rental. It was only $10.00 for one hour. I rode to the end of the path at Will Rogers Beach. It was such a freeing feeling. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous! The mountains and water made such a beautiful moving picture. I had forgotten how much I love this section of Los Angeles. Tourists come from all over the world to see it.


These photos are from the drive I took down Pacific Coast Highway on Saturday. I have decided to get my ocean fix more often; it's so relaxing and rejuvenating. Part of the reason I moved to LA was so be near the beach. I hadn't gone in twenty years!  Have you been to the sea yet this year?

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Monday, May 6, 2019

Knitting Gloves



Fingerless gloves are a very popular project with knitters.  I am knitting a pair of soft  gloves with fingers, out of recycled cashmere yarn. I bought this skein on clearance. I used a gift card that my youngest brother gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago.  It's lovely. I know that my neutral, simple knits are the ones that get the most use. 

Gloves are not that difficult to make. You need good eyesight, and working in the natural sunlight helps. I made my first pair about six years ago, using some colorful leftover sock yarn.  The pattern consists mostly of stockinette stitch, and is done on double pointed needles. There is a lot of counting, and you slip a certain number of stitches onto  scrap yarn to put on hold for each finger.

I'm using a simple pattern from Ravelry. It's called Dancing At Lughnasa Gloves, by Anne Carroll Gilmour.  These shouldn't take too long. The pattern moves very quickly. They're nice and portable, too.  If you can knit socks, you can probably make gloves. I wear the other pair that I knit every single day in the winter. They make practical gifts, too.

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Saturday, May 4, 2019

Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica



Today was an extraordinary day. I drove down PCH to the beach with Lula. We took a gorgeous walks in the hills off of Entrada Street.


I parked the car in front of Patrick's Roadhouse. I used to frequent this place for lunch when I was a teenager. It's very well known by the locals, and is right by the beach.


I found a hidden stairway that led us down to a cold cement tunnel that opened up to the shore. You walk under Pacific Coast Highway. I led Lula to the other side, and we gazed at the sand and sparkling water. Next time I'll come prepared with a towel and swimsuit. 


On the way to the movie theater, I drove by this  lovely house. It's  where I used to rent a room as a ballet student. It belonged to Rosemary Valaire, of The Royal Ballet. It still looks charming and gorgeous.

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'Nureyev Unzipped' - A brief survey of the life and career of the great ...

Thursday, May 2, 2019

THE WHITE CROW - Official Trailer - Directed by Ralph Fiennes

Sunshine, Gardening, and Red Henna



I took a few photos of the garden for you. It's fun to see the flowers and fruit trees in bloom. The weather has been warm and pleasant. Lula and I enjoy our bike ride and long walk each day. It's healthy to be outside, chatting with neighbors, and getting daily exercise. She really looks forward to going.  I think a regular workout routine really helps with having a positive attitude.


I've been laying out in the sun to get a base tan. I do it at a time when the sun is less intense. It feels so healing to soak in the rays of sunshine. I  unfold my towel on the ground, and absorb the magnetic forces of nature. It's energizing to connect with the land.  Lula relaxes next to me.  We love to get grounded into the earth.


I spread red henna through my hair this afternoon. At first it looks a bit orange,  but I have gotten several compliments. I definitely prefer it to the grey that's creeping into my roots. I love how the henna deep conditions the hair, too. I leave it on for four hours. It's a relief to have it done for the month. Ah, the maintenance of being a woman... It's kind of fun being a redhead,  though. (even though I'm not a natural redhead.)

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