Monday, July 29, 2019

Baltic Cruise 2019, Part 14: Coming Home

What an incredible experience!

I very much enjoyed my first cruise, and seeing parts of the world that were new to me. I wasn't quite ready to call it finished, but once we got into the bulk of the flying, I was ready to have that part of it over with and just be home with my dudes.

As we took our last bus ride of the trip, from the ship to Copenhagen airport, I got one last picture of the Regal Princess.

Our wait at Copenhagen wasn't terribly long, but they confiscated my conditioner (my expensive conditioner) from my carry-on, and the airport itself is not very comfortable. There's not a lot of available seating, no charging stations, and there was food all over the floor, as though no one had bothered to mop for a few days. Sigh.

But again, it wasn't a long wait, and soon enough, we were on our flight...for eight hours and twenty minutes.

It was uneventful, just long. I finished a book on my Kindle and watched a documentary about pandas. I tried to nap with no success.

Finally, we arrived in the USofA and just in case I was confused about this, well, first, I got to go through the "I Live Here" line in customs, and also:

Yup, we're in the US. The Trump duck made me die a little inside. Dad offered to buy me one, but I told him if he did, I'd put a Warren 2020 sticker on his car. (Warren is my current favorite.)

We had a couple of hours to sit and wait, so I did the math from my boarding pass and realized the flight time on it (factoring in the three-hour time difference) was six hours.

Me, sitting in Dulles, facing six more hours of flying. 

It ended up only being five, though.

We finally landed in Sacramento, exhausted from the extra-long day we'd had. Dad's friends were there to pick us up. Instead of staying a night at Dad's, I just grabbed my keys and some things I'd left there, loaded up Sylvie, and went straight home to my boys, my own bed, and the comforts of home. I didn't want to wait one more minute.

The boys were waiting at the door when I came in, and they seemed happy to see me--both were rubbing my hands and my legs and the purring started shortly after. There was a lot of cuddling that night as I went to sleep, and I woke to them curled up by my side.

Traveling is fun, but there is no place like home.

Archie's louder-than-loud purr was going when I took this. lap cat. 
Would I go on another cruise? Absolutely--I very much enjoyed the atmosphere on board and the ease of travel they provide. The one drawback is having such limited time in each destination--I do love going somewhere for several days and really diving into exploring it. But why not have the best of both worlds in my future travels?

I'm glad I got to keep Dad company and have such a wonderful experience. We made some great memories, and I got to see seven completely new places, taking my country tally to fifteen.

And with that, my Baltic Cruise 2019 posts are done. I've been home two weeks today, and two weeks from now is the first day of school. Here's to all the adventures--Wild and Absolutely True.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Baltic Cruise 2019, Part 13: Can't Fjord to Miss Oslo

Just like that, two weeks had zipped by, and it was our last full day as residents of the Regal Princess. We woke to find ourselves docked in front of Akershus Castle, a medieval castle and fortress dating back to 1299. 

From the balcony of our stateroom.

Ground view
Tour Bus Selfie

We met up with our tour group and left to find our bus. Again, we had a very congenial, knowledgeable guide, who showed us interesting points and bits of history as we drove to our first destination. Of course, along the way, I took pictures out the bus window. 

Our first stop was outside of Oslo, in the hills above: The Holmenkollen Ski Jump, built for the 1952 Olympics ski jump competition.  It is perched in a lovely area overlooking Oslo and Oslo Fjord.

After a few minutes here, we drove back down the hill to visit Oslo's famous Vigeland Sculpture Park. It features over 200 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland, depicting the human life cycle. It was a gorgeous morning by this time.

The sculptures are, obviously, lovely, showing the range of human feeling through life. Tenderness, grief, despair, love.

We wandered from one end of the park to the other, stopping to look at and discuss the sculptures.

This fountain again depicts the cycle of life, so we walked around it to see the various stages.

As we continued walking, we saw more statues, and, of course, a lot of flowers. (Happy Meg!)

Our bus had driven to the other end of the park to meet us, and we were whisked away to the current Munch Museum. Oslo's National Gallery, home to the famous "The Scream," is closed this year for major renovations, but we were able to see that famous work in its temporary location.

The Madonna, another of Munch's famous works.

There are actually three versions of "The Scream" in existence, and two of them have been famously stolen (the third sold privately in 2012 for $119.9 million, so, you know, it's worth a lot of money). The version I saw in Oslo is the one that was stolen in 2004. It was missing for two years and then recovered with some tears and a little bit of what appears to be water damage in the bottom left corner.

Sadly, our time in Oslo was only three-and-a-half hours. The ship had to sale in the afternoon to make it back to Copenhagen, so my visit to Norway's lovely capitol was a whirlwind. 

I took more bus pictures as we returned to port.

Because our tour of Oslo was so rushed, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed as the ship set sail. I had plans to attend a spin cycle class later in the day with my new trainer friend, but until then, I was left to my own devices.

Then I looked outside the stateroom and realized what I was seeing. The Oslo fjord is absolutely beautiful, and the weather was perfect for sitting on the balcony and taking it all in. 

I spent at least an hour (I lost track of time) out there, watching Norway go by and listening to seagulls. Later in the day I'd have one last killer workout, one more lovely dinner, and then spend time packing my suitcase to leave outside the stateroom door for pickup. But on this lovely afternoon in Norwegian waters, I just relaxed and took it all in.