Monday, May 27, 2013

Glaiciers: Not Planning to Lick one: water for $5.00

DSCN2334          DSCN2335
What is the most you                       
have paid for a bottle of water?                                                                                   
As I walked in the towns we stopped at in Norway I saw small bottles of water for $4.00 and $5.00.   I thought it was a mistake and perhaps it was for a small case of water.  But this was repeated in each town.    

In Ulvik,  the tourist office told me the water they sold was declared the ‘best’ drinking water.  the source was a glacier and since I do not plan to lick a glacier anytime soon I paid the exorbitant amount and tired it.    On my return from a short hike I stopped into the office again and told him he was correct.  That was the best water I have ever tasted and the LAST I shall pay $5.00 for….

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Paid to Smile

the service industry requires workers to be pleasant and SMILE.   Especially on a ship.   You can see that some days the staff is very tired but still they smile, try to recognize you and say something pleasant.
I do think and hope that it is not only for the gratuities they receive, which is most of their salary!

What is even more difficult is trying to explain what you are asking for.   They try to satisfy every request and you just need to remember to be patient.    They work very hard at a repetitive job that starts all over again every 7 days…..  


I was told by a staff member that many of the crew are from Bali and the surrounding islands and countries and that those cultures are 'naturally happy'.

Well if this is true I need to speak to the Balinese crew members and find the source for this 'joy'.  I can use this on  my travels.

Front desk staff

After an embarrassing 'blow up' (on my part), a comment note the ship ASKED me to respond to and a telephone call from the dining room manager I have returned to the formal dining room and have been greeted as a lost friend OR AS THE ANNOYING WRITER WHO COMPLAINS.  I am not sure which but they are all very kind and attentive.   Of course they may enjoy the laugh behind the scenes but they work hard and I shall not fault them for this.
now that is a genuine smile...

Monday, May 20, 2013

People the Travel Warrior meets

One of the best parts of solo travel is meeting people are really talk with you.

not the obligatory chat from a wait staff or tourist office but a REAL chat.

The jewelry designer in Oslo     This was my first stop and of course I was anxious to start the blog a day program.   The heavy rain did not stop me from setting off for a 6 hour walk.
While I passed through the terminal where shops and tourist services were offered I noticed the lovely silver jewelry on display.     Alice was kind enough to chat with me and tell me that she makes the rings and many other pieces herself.   There was a very interesting chain design based on what the Vikings used to tie their ropes……I hope I have this correct.

Next stop was Deluca deli to try a typical bun offered to go with morning coffee.  Similar to a brioche with raisins or chocolate but not very sweet.
The delightful clerk told me politely I could not photograph the amazing selections of sandwiches but thanked me for asking first.   A short chat told me she hoped/planned to travel.
DSCN2100DSCN2116Rick Steve's tells you more about De Luca…..think of it as a upscale 7/11
My visit to the tourist office resulted in a quick chat with a cheery woman (this photo does not do her justice) who shared the information on where to find a waffle.  (see other stories)

Next day I stopped into a chemist (drug store) to see if they had the amazing over the counter tablets that stopped the flue in Italy last year.
The pharmacist worked with me directly and although he did not recognize the product I had, he looked up the contents (taking more than 15 minutes of his time) and found me a similar product on their shelf…..
Meanwhile I asked him countless questions about Norway that he happily answered.
At the next port I found Nina at the library.   A very pretty young woman (just I am a terrible photographer) who planned to visit New Orleans because she loved Jazz.
  We started to chat while there were no clients and she told me about the ‘white Christmas’.
Everything is white.  The trees are never artificial, the lights are always clear not colored.    I was very engrossed in our conversation but library clients needed to be served.   I hope we can continue our chat online.
Craig who will teach computer classes on the ship for the next 3 weeks.   He is my new best friend…….I hope to learn lots while traveling to the 7 countries this month.
Several others who will have mini stories are posted elsewhere……
All this returns to my theory that the people we meet can change US but do we ever have an effect on the them?????
what do you think?

Norway Eat Waffels

I was told I Must try Waffles and Sour Cream….hmmm  better than fish in sour cream….

The tourist office told me they consider a waffle to be  like a ‘cookie’ but she enjoyed her waffle with jam and butter and a local cheese that is sweet and brown.
so I stopped at the Mission Church that has volunteers and rehabilitated clients working the café.    What a delightful woman meet me and the two Australian ladies who sat at my table.         A smile and a cheery answer to any questions…….what a lovely way to spend your day                                                                                   DSCN2168          DSCN2166                                                               DSCN2167 
                                                                                                                                                     While walking throughout the streets of Stavanger’s old town, I saw a sign for a Kafe next to the cannery museum.    With limited time I skipped the museum and entered the Kafe which was also a museum of how a home was furnished in the 1900’s.  But the reward for this spontaneous decision was to meet Lisa.   Lisa was the historian, greeter and also prepared coffees and wafels for guests.   What a great opportunity to try WAFELS a second time,  all for the story right?                                                                                          ….


While walking throughout the streets of
Stavanger's  old town, I saw a sign for a Kafe next to the cannery museum.    With limited time I skipped the museum and entered the Kafe which was also a museum of how a home was furnished in the 1900’s.  But the reward for this spontaneous decision was to meet Lisa.   Lisa was the historian, greeter and also prepared coffees and wafels for guests.   What a great opportunity to try WAFELS a second time,  all for the story right?                                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                Although Lisa prepared the wafel on an electric wafel maker there were original irons on the wood burning stove.
 DSCN2230    Here the wafels were in the pattern of a heart.    I asked Lisa to explain how they were made and she was gracious enough to do a mini movie:          and she shares the SECRET INGREDIENT she uses when making them at home.        

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hardy's Candy store - Step back in time

Hardy's Candy Store:  London

I thought I had walked through the looking glass into a time in London that I have only read about or seen in movies.    No, it was Hardy's just down the street from St. Pauls.

After reading all of the Harry Potter stories I thought I had arrived at Honeydukes sweet shop.   They  did not carry Bertie Bott's Every flavour beans or chocolate Frogs or even exploting bon bons but they did have an endless selection of  sweets that have a long history in the UK


I entered to take a look and stayed to learn about the many, many candies.   some are recreations from by gone eras and many are sweets I have never heard of.
while browsing or gaping at the selection several patrons entered in business suits and ordered a bag of their favorite.  Was it for a child at home or was it for a snack on the train……

So much to choose from.   You could ask for any type of jelly, toffee, or sweet that you wished and the delightful candy lady knew exactly what jar to find them in.  The colors were dazzling.

When I return to London I shall have to try several with the strangest names….
View album


I entered to take a look and stayed to learn about the many, many candies.   some are recreations from by gone eras and many are sweets I have never heard of.
while browsing or gaping at the selection several patrons entered in business suits and ordered a bag of their favorite.  Was it for a child at home or was it for a snack on the train……

So much to choose from.   You could ask for any type of jelly, toffee, or sweet that you wished and the delightful candy lady knew exactly what jar to find them in.  The colors were dazzling.

When I return to London I shall have to try several with the strangest names….

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Meeting kind Locals: The Heart Lady

Small Towns Have Great People!
Often I pass the monuments and museums for hours of walking the streets of a small town or city.
If I were at home I would never speak to a stranger in a shop or market but as a traveler I ask questions, inquire about life in their town and generally become annoying.
Today I am in a town of only 1,100.  That is about the size of the subdivision I live in.

This tranquil location overlooks a lake or perhaps it is the end of the fiord.  While hiking I was startled to hear birding in the fields and trees on both sides of the road.   Living in a city or large town you can forget there are sounds that do not emanate from a machine.

Today I met the HEART LADY

At the start of my hike I passed one of the only shops open since the vacation season does not start for a few weeks.  And with climate changes ever stop on this trip has been abnormally cold.    This art store is almost a co op with other local artists having products displayed but the predominant products are pottery.    

What caught my eye immediately was the hear theme throughout her work.

Gallery Ulvik in Ulvik Norway is the showcase for Ingvild Seljiseth Winters work, or the Heart Lady.      There are hand knit items, jewelry, glass ornaments, paintings and many clay pieces.    It was difficult to choose what I would take home as a treasure and after selecting a ‘knitted’ wire bracelet I left for my hike.   But shopping is like hunting, you don’t want to think of the one that got away.

So on my return to town I stopped in again to pick up my heart mug.   Now I can think of Ulvik with morning coffee

Monday, May 13, 2013

Travel Warrior Taking a Ride

I hate the word cruising…… it has all the connotations you expect,  non stop eating, dressing up for dinner, bragging about the NUBMER of cruises you have taken not the unusual experiences.

I like to think of this as water transportation…… I can visit 7 countries in 1/5 the time by train or plane and not have to worry about the travel connections or dragging a suitcase behind me.

  So I keep a low profile and try to blend into the crowd of two by twos……

Yesterday there was a lunch for all the solo travelers……..what a shock………………
1.  we are all OLD
2.  mostly female
3.  talk too much
4.  not very interested in each other

Perhaps this is why we all solo travel.  I had hoped to ask that question to this group but never got beyond hello and listening to each of them speak…..

Things I do Like:
multiple computer classes offered at no cost
few children on board
kindness of the crew (so far)
excellent food, a BIG surprise after the bland selection offered by larger ships

Some Challenges
washing the deck at 5 am and splashing the windows of my room ……
getting up at 5 am
waiting until 9 pm to eat dinner so the other diners do not sit there with such pity for me on their faces
having the waiter yell at the top of his voice ‘you are alone’   while I reply  ‘yes, and glad about it’
8 formal nights
wearing the same thing every 3 days,   truly depressing

The adventure has just begun and it shall be great!

Where is Ben? the cookie man

I told the counter man I had traveled 8,000 miles for a cookie.

There was a blank stare............
Was it my accent?
Was it the fact I did not say kilomoters?
Was it because he thought I was just another crazy?   

Ben's cookies.

I always visit Convent gardens and 2 years ago after a long absence I returned.    There was a VERY large crowd/line at one shop.  A shop so small only 2 patrons could enter, belly up to the counter and try to select 
what treasure they would buy or how many.

Across from a cupcake store is Ben's Cookies.
they were too busy to talk, they are always busy but you can find their info on line, just like everything else.

The fresh, warm out of the oven cookies are large and larger.   You select and then they are weighed to obtain the cost.

Try to buy just one!  Just try it.  

I may become a cookie expert just to find out if there is a better cookie anywhere.
so far my favorite is white chocolate chip.....and yours?
from their web site:

We have been making cookies since 1983 and selling them through our stores since 1984.
Our original store in Oxford’s Covered Market is still baking cookies every day. Ben’s was founded by Helge Rubinstein, author of The Chocolate Book and many other publications and an ardent chocoholic! Our cookies are sold by weight and can be bought individually or packaged in bags, boxes and tins, each bearing the logo created for us by Quentin Blake, the well known artist and first ever children’s laureate.
Ben’s Cookies currently has ten stores and will open a few more soon, so please visit us here again for more news.

Travel Warrier 3 1/2

there is no surprise if I tell you it rained today…..what do you expect in London.
and once you are wet there is nothing to stop you from pressing on.   You can not sit in a hotel or B&B all day just because it is raining.

Instead of choosing a museum to hide out in I went to join a walking tour in the ‘City’.     As usual plans change and mostly with a nice surprise.
As I made the inevitable wrong turn I was too late for the tour but stumbled on St. Paul’s cathedral.   I don’t write about the wonderful sites, monuments and churches you can visit all over the world.  There are other better sources for this information, companies with the resources to spend months gathering information.    But my topic this week was where a shy solo traveler might eat lunch or dinner.    I try to find one hot meal a day but when you find it difficult to go into a ‘sit down restaurant’ your choices are limited.
Cakes are as good as they look                                                                           

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Road Warrier Solo #3 ARRIVAL

What to do when you are too tired to enjoy a new city?

I often arrive to the start of a new adventure so tired from planning, preparing to leave and arriving that I cant enjoy day one, can even stay awake and often begin the start of a ‘travel cold’.

Perhaps you are one of the lucky few who get off a plane and start to site see, eat the local cuisine and if you a blogger, begin the first of many posts…..

Well I am not that lucky.  
Even splurging for a very comfortable ride with sir Richard Branson (seats great, food too strange to eat) I barely made the 1hr tube ride into London without dozing off.   I really resent my body when it can not just ‘buck up’ and get out there.   

first day:  maintenance, tube card, endless search for a sim card, tube travel with 1/2 of the worlds population squeezed into a shoebox, lovely street walks with major monuments/buildings within blocks, annual visit to the crypt under St. Martin in the Field for a bite to eat, more tube squeezes, (is this where the phrase squeeze the tube came from?)  and finally to sleep for 10 hrs….

hey what happened to shopping?  the famous British tea or at least CAKE?   I mu

I must get out there today to make up for all of this..

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Comfort and Flying: who put those words together?

On rare occasions I have been able to use years of saved Frequent Flyer miles to sit in the front of the ‘bus’.    And it is better than the back.

But now I have discovered Virgin Atlantic, premium.    You may have to fly hundreds of miles to an airport that Virgin  but one benefit is only 6 hours in the air if you leave from Boston.
a splurge for premium economy was well worth it, the return will be with the peasants in the back and I shall let you know how that is…… additional $500+ for a return was NOT worth it.

What a shock when they offered dinner……perhaps I am not cosmopolitan enough, I had to ask what the entrée way and when it was explained to me I could not eat either.
Not a problem, we arrive in 6 hours and no one starved in 6 hours…….and as part of this adventure, can  you become fit, loose weight and still have afternoon tea and cake…..

Travel Warrior On The Road

Travel warrior day one!

I have not flown since December and now I know why.   The weather was visually fine but the plane was tossed around ……  what I remember a roller coaster feels like the one time I went on that!
I am in the back of the plane so that I can have room for my luggage to find there are LOTS of vacant aisle seats…   But Delta wanted $25.00 to book me a unavailable seat and another 25 or 30 to give me one in the front of the plane…..perhaps this is why I drive.
I believe my travel in 2014 will be by car, train or boat.  And when I see one of the great deals for business class, I shall take that.    Yes I will travel less but I shall not be crippled when I try to squeeze out of the sea.     If I had only planned better and faster I would have taken a boat to England…..

Next a Virgin flight.  I have heard it is wonderful, but the source travels for business in the front of the plane….  shall let you know.

This is my first time at Boston airport:  wow, bright, clean and wide open spaces but they really missed out on stuff to see, do and buy in the departure area…. cant have everything.

And can you tell me why you NEVER sleep the day before a BIg trip!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

36 Hours and Still Not Ready

Thinking I started packing far in advance I did not plan for flooding yesterday and power outage.

Not only could I not see to pack or iron BUT I spent 5 hours in the basement when the power returned to remove water.

At 1 am I just gave up to the flood.   Sad to say, the cost to replace the carpet is far less than missing the flights....

So next stop is the airport and the uncomfortable seat that I paid an extra $50.00 for to be ABLE TO SIT ON THE AISLE!

Isn't travel great?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cunard Sale? What is the solo rate?

This is a repost, call Cunard for pricing......  did you receive this too?

Not a solo promotion BUT if I have to pay 200% this is not bad for luxury...

As a former passenger on Cunard I received this 
call Cunard to check prices....this is only a repost

After just booking a Baltic cruise for May, I wish I had seen this 'sale' by Cunard.   After crossing on the QEII 2 years ago, the prospect of an another adventure on a luxury ship would have been tempting......but what is the solo rate?

CUNARD® Offers
Call Cunard at (800) 728-6273
Mon-Fri, 5am-6pm & Sat-Sun, 6am-2:45pm PT
14-day Europe voyages for less than $100 per day*


Fares from
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7 days — Fjords & Waterfalls (Q312)
Ports of call: Southampton, Stavanger, Olden, Geiranger, Bergen, Southampton

Fares from
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14 days — Norwegian Fjords &
North Cape Explorer (Q313)
Ports of call: Southampton, Stavanger, Flam, Alesund, Trondheim, Honningsvag, North Cape, Tromso, Andalsnes, Bergen, Southampton

Fares from
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14 days — St. Petersburg &
Baltic Explorer (V307)
1 June 2013 — QUEEN VICTORIA
Ports of call: Southampton, Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg (overnight), Tallinn, Warnemunde, Copenhagen, Kristiansand, Southampton

Todd English
Fares from
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7 days — Fjords and Waterfalls (Q314)
Ports of call: Southampton, Bergen, Geiranger, Flam, Stavanger, Southampton

Fares from
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15 days — Geysers & Glaciers (V308)
15 June 2013 — QUEEN VICTORIA
Ports of call: Southampton, Stavanger, Eidfjord, Olden, Alesund, Akureyri, Isafjordur, Reykjavik (overnight), Torshavn, Southampton

Fares from
View Offer
13 days — St. Petersburg &
Baltic Discovery (Q315P)
18 June 2013 — QUEEN ELIZABETH
Ports of call: Southampton, Kristiansand, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg (overnight), Tallinn, Southampton

On Deck
Fares from
View Offer
7 days — Fjords & Waterfalls (V309)
30 June 2013 — QUEEN VICTORIA
Ports of call: Southampton, Stavanger, Olden, Geiranger, Bergen, Southampton

Contact your Travel Agent, call (800) 728-6273 or visit
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*Offer is for new bookings only. Savings are based on a per person discount off Early Booking Fares. Early Booking Fares are initial offering fares and may not have resulted in sales in the past 90 days. Intermediate discounts may have been taken and fares may remain at a discounted level after this promotion. Government fees and taxes ranging from $50-$195 per person are additional and subject to change. Fares apply to minimum lead-in categories (Inside stateroom category IC/ID) on a space-available basis at time of reservation. Fares for other categories not shown may vary. Fares are per person, do not include air travel, are voyage only, based on double occupancy and apply to the first two guests in a stateroom. These fares do not apply to singles or third/fourth-berth guests. This offer is capacity-controlled, is subject to change, and may not be combinable with any other public, group or past guest discount, including On Board Credit. Offer is not transferable and is available only to residents of the 50 United States, Canada, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Mexico and the District of Columbia who are 21 years of age or older and receive this offer. Fares quoted in U.S. dollars. Cunard reserves the right to impose a fuel supplement of up to $9 per person per day on all passengers if the NYMEX oil price exceeds $70 per barrel, even if fares have been paid in full. Please refer to the applicable Cunard brochure or for terms, conditions and definitions that apply to all reservations. Ask about our applicable air add-on programme. Please reference promotion code: PEC. Offer expires 15 May 2013. Ships’ Registry: Bermuda. ©CUNARD 2013. The CUNARD logo and logotype are registered trademarks of Carnival plc, an English company trading as Cunard Line. QUEEN MARY 2, QUEEN ELIZABETH, QUEEN VICTORIA and The Most Famous Ocean Liners in the World are trademarks owned by CUNARD. All rights reserved in the United States and other countries.

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