A Travellerspoint blog

23 June, Thursday

Totally settled in, all things working. Had to get new o-rings for the water system, it was spraying water all over. That is fixed and all is well.
Also called Magellan about the GPS unit, very good, simple fix so no need to purchase a new one.

Marine layer in the morning burning off about 11:00, cool (65) and breezy. Cleared for the afternoon with the temperature reaching 76, not bad compared to Phoenix. Road the bike this AM for over an hour, down to the Life Guard Office and back. This evening was the second night of STROLL AND SAVOR in Belmont. Always make it a point to participate in this. You get 12 tickets for $10. Each food establishment has sample items for the strollers. They range from 1 to 6 tickets. You get to sample their food and decide if you want to return to dine. Streets were full of people, very active, very good food. Had to stop at Panama Joe's to set the stroll off. Happy Hour gives you two of the same drink when you order. They have totally remodeled with lots of open doors and windows. Great place for an evening.

Posted by REDTAILRV 05:59 Comments (0)

22 June, Wednesday

Well we finally made it to Long Beach and the weather is much more moderate. It is warm for Long Beach but still only 85 as compared to 117 or so in Phoenix. Last week it was supposed to reach 120, the official temperature was 118. However on the weather station on the roof of my house it was much more. My station is 10 feet above the roof, there the temperature read 126.7 at 4pm. The humidity showed 2%. IT WAS HOT.

Then we were delayed leaving Phoenix as we had interview with the Border Patrol for our Global Pass Entry forms. It was scheduled for mid day so decided to leave early on Tuesday instead of spending the night in Palm Springs (123 degrees). All went well with the interview and we were granted the Global Pass for 5 years. At the rate people are getting them there will be more room in the regular lines than the express lines.

Left at 0500 on Tuesday, temp was 91, arrived at Golden Shore RV Park at 1245 and the temp was 84. NICE. Spent the rest of the afternoon setting up the camp site, early happy hour, disappointing soccer game (USA vs Argentina) and early to bed. Have already secured the same spot for next year. We will arrive earlier and stay later. Much better than Phoenix during the summer. We have traveled the USA in the coach and have pretty much emptied our bucket list. There are still a few places we would like to revisit, time will tell.

Entries will be periodic from here during the summer. Will try to update events as the happen.

Posted by REDTAILRV 05:23 Comments (0)

7 June, Tuesday

Well another postscript. Today was GREAT with Viking. I am convinced they are the best cruise line. I talked with the agent I signed with about the great trip on the river. Everything was 10+, food, service, tours, friendliness, and the condition of the ship. Then I relayed the story of our return.
He immediately put me over to consumer complaints. The person there was most interested in our fiasco with British Air. He offered to discount our next trip, but since it has been paid in full, could not do that. Instead he offered a very generous shipboard credit and some wine. This will be nice on the next cruise. He also referred me to the Air division. I again relayed my disappointment with British Air and London Heathrow airport. The lady said we have to fix that. Within 3-5 minutes she was back on line with a completely new itinery for our flight. Now we go non-stop to New York, nonstop to Barcelona. On return we go nonstop from Athens to New York nonstop to Phoenix. All this on Delta. What a change.

As I said before: I HIGHLY RECOMMEND VIKING CRUISES.

Posted by REDTAILRV 10:59 Comments (0)

4 June, Saturday

I don't usually write in the blog after we get back from a trip. HOWEVER, since Saturday was very different, thought I would update the writings.
First of all at 2:00 I was wide awake. Now remember this time is Phoenix is actually 11:00 in Europe where we spent 20 days. Not being able to sleep I got up, had some coffee and proceeded to totally unpack, take care of the paper work and enjoy some American tv and news. Today in Phoenix was going to be special in another way. The forcast for temperature is to set a record and it did. It reached 116 by 3:00 in the afternoon. Not a breeze outside, just hot. Only salvation was the humidity was only 11%, so that helped or so they say. It is like standing in front of your hair drier on high.
Tonight it will cool down to 86. Not much use for a hot water heater. Weatherman says it will be like this for at least 5 days. YUCK ! !

Minor crises with the car, would not start. So hooked up the charger and it would not take a charge. SO called AAA and they replaced the battery on the warranty of the battery I had put in last year. WEIRD.

A nap in the afternoon was a welcome relief. Will gradually get back on Phoenix time.

Posted by REDTAILRV 09:45 Comments (0)

3 June, Friday

Well the FANTASTIC River Cruise is over and now the agony of getting back to Phoenix. Viking provided transport and a guide for getting to the Amsterdam airport, HUGE. Then things started to deteriorate. Our flight was delayed because of fog in the Netherlands and a storm over England.
Instead of leaving at 11:40 it was more like 12:20 and then another delay getting into Heathrow. Once on the ground we still had 2 hours to find our next terminal, via bus, and then the gate. At London Heathrow you have to pass security again, even if you are arriving on an international flight.
So with the long line and the strick (much stricter than other places) we were delayed even more. Our next terminal was 1 10-15 bus ride and then a mile or two of concourse. The outbound flight was on time, we arrived at the gate with 30 minutes before departure, found our seats and nested.
The flight was FULL.

So now the real fun begins, we taxi out for take off and sit for nearly 2 hours. This is all done with NO PA. Finally the Captain says we have to go back to the gate for a sick passenger. Once the medics come on board, remover the passenger we are again ready to depart. Now they cannot obtain a push back crew, another 30 minutes. Again all with no PA's. We finally leave the gate, taxi out and depart. The flight was shorter than schedule so that helped. We arrived in Phoenix with temperatures setting records. It was 105 on touchdown at 7:30pm. The forcast is for 117 or more, YUCK!
We passed thru U S Customs and Immigration easily and the Sun City Express was waiting at the gate. Easy ride home to a hot house. Turned on all the A/C units, along with other needs like hot water and coffee maker, unpacked somewhat and went to bed.

This was perhaps one, if not THEE ONE, of the greatest trips. The ship was clean and efficient, the Crew friendly and attentive, the food out standing.
We will certainly do more Viking experiences. The only downfall is getting to, from, and passing thru London. This was our first experience with British Airways. I expected services similar to Quanta and South African. Definitely not, more like cattle car service with a reserved seat.

A special good-bye and thanks to the wonderful friends we met, especially B & B.

Posted by REDTAILRV 03:17 Comments (0)

2 June, Thursday

Left Cologne in rain again, the river is high. Headed to our last stop of the trip, KINDERDJIK, or small dyke. This is on the west side of the Netherlands. Dykes are the mainstay of the Netherlands as most of the country is below sea level. Kinderdjik is 3 feet below and the airport at Amsterdam is 7 feet below. It has been a constant battle ridding the area of water. The windmills, and now electric and diesel pumps, lift the water into holding ponds or lakes. Then at low tide the gates are opened and the excess water flows into the ocean. There is a fine line between too much water and too little. Too much and it is unlivable, too little and the soil dries and sinks deeper causing more lifting and flooding.

We were able to enter one of the windmill structures. In this one a family with 13 children lived in very small rooms with low ceilings. The constant noise and rumble of the blades and turn post would have been very hard. No cars are allowed in the area, they have to park near the main road and then walk or bike to their respective windmill. All of the current 18 windmills have families living in them. Not at easy life.

Today we heard that up river at PASSAU they are having high water. We passed thru there early in the trip. Now the river is so high that one river boat ties up on the up-river side and one on the down-river side. Luggage is placed in the hallways and while the passengers are touring the crews exchange baggage. You get your same number room, only on a different ship. Not at easy task.

Last dinner on board, time to say good bye to new friends. We are lucky, our ride departs the boat at 0830. Others are leaving as early as 0400. Doesn't leave much time for sleeping.

Our flight leave Amsterdam at 1140 to London. Then we leave London at 3:50 and arrive, nonstop, in Phoenix at 5:30. Long flight, long day, especially returning to temperatures of 98+

Hopefully will add another day tomorrow.

Posted by REDTAILRV 21:20 Comments (0)

1 June, Wednesday

Another month already, time flies when you are having fun! ! !
Today we are in KOLN or COLOGNE, one of the most modern cities of Germany. It was destroyed in WWII and rebuilt. It is a very affluent city with many companies headquartered here.
The weather was not cooperating with the tour at this stop, pouring rain. However that did not stop the walking tours (large RED golf umbrellas with VIKING on them furnished by the boat.) The center of attraction is St Martin's Church, the largest church in Europe. IT IS HUGE. The structure was mainly saved during the bombings. All the stained glass windows were removed and hidden before the war. After peace was resolved they were reinstalled. Hundreds of them.

Perhaps the most interesting thing was when they were excavating for repairs they discovered an entire Roman city, including the wharf and boats below the church. All the buildings and arches were in original form. Inlaid tile floors and walls were as made hundreds of years ago. This truly was a find of the century.

Cologne, like Heidleburg and Munich is a city of beer. Here it is the KOLSCH variety which is a bright straw colored light beer. It is less bitter than pale lager. The taverns serve it in 7 ounce glasses, small enough so it keeps cold while you drink it. We opted for a tavern crawl and dinner.
Here we sampled the food and beer. They keep bringing the beer glasses until you emphatically say no. Cologne does not have the music that several other cities have.

On the boat, before the tavern crawl a local professor at University explained the German system of living, the wages, insurance, education, TAXES, and other aspects. Quite different from the USA.

For those staying on board for dinner, they were treated to a German evening of food, beer and wine. They also were able to tour the kitchen.
We will do that tomorrow night.

Time is winding down, suitcases have to be packed, boarding passes secured and the angst of passing thru airports for our trip home.
We have one more day of seeing the country of The Netherlands and the town of Kinderdijk.

Posted by REDTAILRV 21:08 Comments (0)

31 May, Tuesday

We are meeting another VIKING LONGBOAT. He is heading UP the Rhine as we are going down. There are many Viking Longboats as well as many other companies with similar watercraft. It sometimes is a traffic jamb along the river.

WIN_20160531_10_30_04_Pro.jpg

Posted by REDTAILRV 21:58 Comments (0)

31 May, Tuesday

Capt. Alexander is docking at a port in Koblenz. He is currently moving the long boat (over 200 feet) sideways with the thrusters to have the boat reach the dock.

WIN_20160531_10_42_05_Pro.jpg

Posted by REDTAILRV 21:52 Comments (0)

31 May, Tuesday

This is one of two remote stations to control the ship. When docking or the wheel house is totally retracted the Captain will control the ship from there. Notice in the background a cargo ship and how low in the water he is riding.

WIN_20160531_10_31_24_Pro.jpg

Posted by REDTAILRV 21:47 Comments (0)

31 May, Tuesday

The Wheel House of the Gefjon. Notice the scissor mechanicism, this is to allow the wheel house to lower into the body of the ship. This is done often when passing under low bridges.

WIN_20160531_10_29_25_Pro.jpg

Posted by REDTAILRV 21:33 Comments (0)

31 May, Tuesday

The Wheel House of the Gefjon. Notice the scissor mechanicism, this is to allow the wheel house to lower into the body of the ship. This is done often when passing under low bridges.

WIN_20160531_10_29_25_Pro.jpg

Posted by REDTAILRV 21:33 Comments (0)

31 May, Tuesday

Enter the town of KOBLENZ at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers. In the valley of the Moselle the most famous REISLINGS are made from the grapes grown.

Our excursion in Koblenz was to the Marksburg Castle. This castle was started in 1117 as a protection to the town of Braubach. It was never intended to become a royal residence, only a guard tower. It survived all the various wars and attacks. Only damage ever done was by fire, thus it is totally intact. Rough paths to the entrance, cross the moat and enter. Very difficult walking, dark and dank walls took you inside the castle.
The only room that could be heated was the bedroom/living room. This was done by stokeing a fire place from the outside, thus giving the residents privacy. Large windows with benches along the sides provided seating places for the knights and guests. The size of the horse shoes indicated the horses were huge, even bigger than the Clydesdales of Budweiser. They had to be huge because a knight fully clad in armor weighed more than 300 pounds. Since it is the only castle that was never destroyed or partially destroyed, it is truly a sight to see.

Back at the ship and a change of clothes for the Captain's Cocktail Party and Farewell dinner. We still have two days to go however they are filled with busy activities in the afternoon and evenings. Our Captain, Alexander Galko, age 27, grew up as a Captain's son and grandson. He learned how to sail the rivers at an early age and has done quite well.

Posted by REDTAILRV 21:17 Comments (0)

30 May, Monday

The surprise in our room when we returned from dinner, as explained earlier.

anniv_towels.jpg

Posted by REDTAILRV 02:14 Comments (0)

30 May, Monday

The surprise in our room when we returned from dinner, as explained earlier.

anniv_towels.jpg

Posted by REDTAILRV 02:14 Comments (0)

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