Friday, July 31, 2015

Meditating in Milwaukee and Reviews

Lake Michigan from Milwaukee Art Museum
One of my great pleasures is making beaded jewelry and it’s been years since I attended the Bead and Button Show, so I got myself on a plane to Milwaukee. I knew that the town was in an area of Wisconsin that had once been home to several native American tribes. These groups, the Fox, Mascouten, Potawatomi, and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) native Americans, described the area as a ‘Good’, ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Pleasant Land’ and as a ‘Gathering place by the water’; Milwaukee is all of those things – at least in the spring and early summer. I’m not so sure that the descriptions fit in the winter when the area can be covered with several feet of snow.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Review of the Viking Cruise from Prague to Paris

Viking Ship Idun
We booked the Cities of Light tour with Viking Cruise, leaving from Prague and arriving in Paris. The only other small boat cruise I had been on had traveled through the Inside Passage in Alaska. I was prepared for this to be more like a ‘big boat’ cruise with average facilities, food and tours that cost extra. I could have not been more incorrect or happier about my misconceptions. We were aboard the Viking Idun; we learned later that this ship is rated number three in the world for river cruising. We chose a Veranda room because I simply can’t stand to be unable to see out of a hotel room. We did use the balcony a bit, but the weather was chilly enough that we chose to sit inside and looked out through the glass doors instead. While neither the room nor the bath was huge, each was efficiently arranged so that we did have room to move around and to store luggage out of the way; we were quite comfortable. The closet was large enough for our clothes and then some. Everyone from the stewards to the waiters to the captain treated us with courtesy and respect. Our room was cleaned while we were at breakfast every
Veranda Room with Balcony
morning, but I did notice that there were several people who hung ‘Do not disturb’ signs and rose a bit later (or quite a bit later).

Friday, July 17, 2015

Pausing in Paris

Bridge over Seine River
Paris is one of my all-time favorite cities! Perhaps the only thing I don’t like is the number of tourists. As we wandered the streets, renewing old acquaintances with landmarks and eateries, it dawned on me that I’ve never been to Paris without a jacket and without needing a raincoat. This trip was no exception; we got damp and chilly, but it didn’t dull our enthusiasm. I was surprised, however, at the increase in the number of people who spoke to us in English. This doesn’t mean that you don’t need any French to travel in France. Having a few phrases (please, thank you, where is, I would like, what does it cost, etc.) are always helpful, particularly if the person with whom you are dealing has the same level of English as you do of French. And being polite goes a long way toward getting folks to communicate with you. Although the French have a reputation for being surly and rude, I have not found this to be the case; rude people are everywhere and there are no more in France than in the US. As a population, they are more likely to speak more than one language and are much more tolerant of poorly spoken French than Americans are of poorly spoken English.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Towns along the Mosel

Faust Gallery

Bernkastel, Trier and Luxembourg were the last three places we stopped before heading into Paris. In many ways they were the same as the other towns we’d visited: a long history, relics of medieval architecture, and winding streets. In other ways they were quite different.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Along the Rhine

Low bridge!
The captain of our ship referred to the Main River as a ‘creek’ with innumerable locks that had to be negotiated, keeping the passengers from enjoying the upper deck most of the time. The Rhine, in contrast, is a deeper, broader river with a few low bridges that require the wheelhouse to be lowered, but allowed us to spend our time enjoying the upper deck. A few times I thought I might be able to touch the bridge girders; they were just a bit beyond my reach.