Friday, August 31, 2007

Reykjavik, Iceland

OK, so I won't spend more time bad-mouthing Reykjavik since I've done that so much in the past. We stayed onboard and relaxed. Jill got a facial and I got a massage. Othewise, a kick back and do nothing day. Tonight we have dinner reservations in the special restaurant - the Pinnacle Grill. Entertainment tonight is a singer - George Solomon. We've seen him a couple times before and he is very good. Sea day tomorrow. Time to sit back and read.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Isafjord, Iceland

Today we spent the day in Isafjord, Iceland. This small town of 3,000 is in the northwest corner of Iceland.

In general, the weather is kinda crummy - maybe high 40's and rainy. However, it worked out OK for us.

We had a boat excursion that took us to Vigur island - about a 40 minute boat ride. There, it wasn't raining and we had a nice walk around the island which is 2 kilometers long and 500 meters wide.

We saw eider ducks, seals and the dairy cows owned by the single family that inhabits the little island. We saw how the clean up the eider down for use in comforters and sleeping bags.

They also served us cakes/breads and tea in their home. The walk was a little tough for both of us - but we made it without too much difficulty. Perhaps one of the more interesting excursions so far.

The rest of the day we just rested. Ugh - second at trivia again - this time by just 1/2 point. Tonight's entertainment includes two performers who weren't very good the first time around - so we'll probably skip the show and maybe catch a movie on TV.

Today was roughly the halfway point in our cruise. So far, so good.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Trees in Iceland

Hey, believe it or not, there are actually trees, grass and mountains/hills in Iceland. Today we arrived in Akureyri, Iceland and did a short tour. It is pronounce ah-coo-rare-ee.

We visited (or wisited, as our guide said) Santa's House (Xmas gift shop), a botanical garden, Nonni Museum (he was a children's book author) and their Lutheran church. Lutheran is the official religion here.

We couldn't believe the number of trees or the green grass. It's hard to believe that this is the same Iceland that we have visited 3 times before. This area is much more reminiscent of Ireland and Scotland. Akureyri only has a poulation of 17,000 - so it is obviously not a big place. But it is still the 2nd largest city in Iceland.

The botanical gardens were beautiful with lots of flowers still in bloom. Even though it was chilly and was sprinkling just a little, it was a nice walk through the gardens. Right now they still have pretty long days. Which is good for the plants. But, by late October through late January, they will only have about 2 to 3 hours of daylight - if it isn't cloudy.

We got back to the ship in time for lunch and Jill is taking a nap before trivia.

We crossed the Arctic Circle last night and will remain north for our port tomorrow. Apparently, there is a chance that we may see whales this afternoon as we leave the fjord and enter the ocean. And, there is a chance we could see the Northern Lights if the clouds clear up.

It's around the high 40's today and quite cloudy right now. Fog is blocking much of our view of the mountains/hills. But, even with this weather, it has been nice to see such a part of Iceland that is actually green.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Extra update was supposed to be an very uneventful sea day. However, apparently a crew member become critically ill. Earlier this morning the captain changed our course to head straight west toward Iceland rather than north to our next port on the north side of Iceland. He needed to get the ship as close to Iceland as quickly as possible so that the crew member could be evacuated ASAP. A few minutes ago a helicopter came to the ship for the evacuation. The ship does not have a landing area - so the helicopter hovered, lowered two personnel to the ship and lifted the crew member by cable in a basket to the helicopter. This all happened within view of our verandah. Quite an operation. They closed off the entire front third of the ship for obvious safety reasons during the evac. Now, the captain and turned the ship back to a northern heading and we are on our way to our next port which we reach tomorrow morning.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Faroe Islands

Well, yesterday was a relaxing day at sea. Didn't really do too much. We attended a cooking demonstration by a guest chef - really good chocolate cake. We once again did mediocre at trivia - 2nd place again. I read a James Patterson book. Otherwise, a nice "do nothing" day at sea.

Today, we visited Torshavn, Faroe Islands which is a Danish territory. Took a boat excursion to see the 500 to 700 ft cliffs on the western side of the island. Saw loads of birds - seagulls and related birds. We are too late for the puffins who have already migrated. The bus ride to and from the boat was pretty interesting. The terrain is very rocky with many cliffs and steep grassy areas where sheep are grazing. Like Iceland, there are very, very few trees here. The Faroe Islands are a bit of a sleepy little place with total population of just 48,000 on 16 islands. One island only has two inhabitants - a husband and wife. So, I hope they get along! Within the past few years, they have completed a auto tunnel between two of the larger islands - it is about 150 meters below sea level. This has eliminated the need for boat/ferry sevice between the two island - one of which has the capitol city and the other has the only airport.

The temperature has taken a quick turn the past couple days. The high today was just 51. But, at least it was sunny. The seas have provided a very nice rocking while sailing - very nice for sleeping.

Tomorrow is another day at sea.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bergen, Norway

Not much to report today. We slept in again and had a late breakfast in our cabin.

We had planned on taking a local tour bus into town since the onboard port person had said it picked up at the port. doesn't. In fact, we would need to make a 15 to 20 minute walk into town to catch the bus there. Go figure.

A local helping the ship staff said "Welcome to Norway. We walk a lot." Jill & I told him that we don't and we turned around to reboard the ship. We walked quite a bit yesterday and certainly weren't up to it again today. I guess they just don't want the shopping money from us if they can't make it convenient.

So...we just relaxed onboard. Played pictionary with a few others. Trivia is soon this afternoon.

In general, my opinion of Norway after 3 ports is about the same as the last time we were here - not a big deal. You do see nice scenic fjords but they all start to look the same and they're not as good as scenic cruising in Alaska. The glassblowing was interesting - but otherwise, I wouldn't go out of my way to come back.

So, Denmark was worth seeing. Norway is a so-so place for my taste.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Oh, I forgot to include the fact that Jill won the jackpot on the buckle slots last night - $50!!!

Norway 2

Today was a nice quiet day for us. We slept in a bit and had a late breakfast. Afterward, we walked around Kristiansand a little. Town was only a few blocks from the ship. No overly interesting shopping but it was good to get out for a while.

We wore ourselves out and made the walk back to the ship in time for lunch. After lunch, we finished second in trivia.

Otherwise, we mainly just sat around on our verandah and didn't do too much. Tonight is the first, formal dress night so we must get all dressed up and force ourselves to have surf & turf for dinner!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

On the ship

Well...yesterday we boarded the Veendam in Copenhagen. We had the same driver from the hotel who picked us up at the airport and he gave us a little more of a driving your of some parts of Copenhagen.

Boarding was very smooth and quick. We had our luggage quite early and were able to unpack before dinner - we have early seating at 5:45. So far it seems like we have a nice group at our table.

We arrived in Oslo, Norway and did a tour that visited the Hadeland Glassworks where we watched glassblowers make bowls and wine glasses. Quite interesting. Then, we visited the Viking Ship Museum where there were 3 almost complete Viking ships on display. The ships were from around 800 to 900 AD. Two were almost complete, intact ships.

We got back to the ship around 3PM - which was tough on us since we hadn't had lunch. Thank goodness for the snacks in the Concierge Lounge on our floor so we could get something light to hold us over for dinner.

Also, played trivia after we got back. But, we only did so-so. It looks like we will have tough competition.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Denmark day 3

Another overcast, cool day in Copenhagen. We got out in the late AM. Took a taxi to one end of what they call the "walking street" - Stroget. This concentrated shopping area is about 12 blocks long - starting at the Town Hall and ending at the Nyhavn - New Harbor. Mostly pedestrian only. Many names that you would recognize in the US - McDonalds, KFC, Footlocker, Rolex, Gucci, Chanel, 7-11, Burger King, H&M. Many others are obviously either local or European only retailers.

At Nyhavn, we joined a canal boat tour. The tour was about an hour and took us around many of the canals of Copenhagen. The guide pointed out the important sights visible from the canals. The new national theater building, the opera house, the "little mermaid", and several important castles and churches are on the tour.

After the canal tour, we walked part of Nyhavn which is a large collection of bars and restaurants. Once again, we ate outside - it seems that is pretty standard here and, for those who know me, this is already the third meal I have eaten outside.

One thing I haven't noted in previous updates is the amount of walking and bicycling they do here. It seems that there are literally hundreds of bicycles in the city and people use them to get around probably more than cars. Every street has a bicycle lane that is heavily used. When crossing streets, you absolutely must watch for bicycles as much as for cars - they might ring a bell, whistle or yell but they don't stop for walkers.

Also, when getting directions, it seems that everything is a "10 or 15 minute walk away". We quickly learned that their estimate was for a 20 year old in good shape and walking fast - not for people our age with health problems! Didn't take long for us to start taking taxis for these 10 minute walks.

For the curious, Jill and I see both doing well. Jill has been bothered just a little by a couple foods with too much salt - but she is handling it well. Once we get onboard the ship, they have instructions to prepare her food low salt/sodium. And, just before we left, my hypertension specialist had me drop one of my meds. So far so good. My BP was pretty much normal the past few days even without that med.

That's about it for Copenhagen. Tomorrow we will board the ship - so we won't try to do any further touring here. It will be interesting to perhaps get back to Copenhagen in the future since there are quite a few things we could not see on this trip.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Today we did tourist stuff in Copenhagen. First, we went to Tivoli Gardens - which is actually more like a small amusement park. Weather was kinda cool with some light rain. Then, we went to Rosenburg Castle. This castle and grounds are actually pretty much in the middle of the city. We saw lots of "old" paintings, artwork, weapons, etc. This is also one location of many of the royal crown jewels - particularly items used by the Danish queen. Quite ornate stuff.

By the time we visited these two places, we were both getting tired - so we headed back to the hotel. For naps and relaxing.

Didn't feel like going out again so we decided to try the restaurant in the hotel. They are quite "proud" of their food - and the prices showed it. We thought London was expensive. But, much of the food here seems to be about 2X the prices in London.

Yesterday, we paid 149DK - about $27 - for one beef burger that we split and two soft drinks. Today, it was 385DK - about $72 - for a grilled chicken breast with rice for Jill and a simple salad bar for me with just water for both of us. Some things, like taxis, don't seem too high.

They also seem to be a little creative with some foods. Fried egg on club sandwiches and curry sauce on club sandwishes. (Connie - no cheese on the club sandwiches.) Cucumbers and tomatoes with everything. Some very heavy breads filled with bits and other seeds.

We plan to try to find some kind of local restaurant for lunch and dinner tomorrow. Don't know yet what we will do - but there seem to be several options.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Travel to Denmark

Saturday/Sunday travel wasn't too bad. Our trip started with me being an airhead. We were almost halfway to the airport when I realized that I had left my sportcoat at home. That certainly wouldn't have been good on the formal nights of the cruise. Luckily, both kids were home and Brett was able to bring it to me at the airport.

Then, as we checked in with United, they initially couldn't find our reservation. I had a brief bit of stress but they finally found the reservation. Then, when we tried to exchange dollars to Danish Krones, the currency exchange had no krones. We were beginning to worry that we were jinxed.

But things started to go better. In Chicago, they didn't have the amount of krones we had planned - but they had enough for now. The security line in the internatonal terminal was huge - but it kept crawling along in a bit of a mess. Once we got thru security, we finally settled into a long wait in the Scandinavian Airlines lounge.

Our SAS plane boarded and we were off for our 8 hour flight to Copenhagen. Very nice plane, pretty good food, excellent service, and seats that extended flat enough that we could get some sleep.

Arrival, pickup by our driver, luggage claim all went incredibly well. The Marriott is very nice - particularly since we used points for the stay. I was wrong to assume that they would have US type electric plugs - so we are waiting for a converter for which we must provide a hefty deposit. And they are short on foam pillows.

For lunch/dinner, we got a suggestion from the bellman. Went to a bar and grill type place. Everything on the menu was in Danish but they were very helpful and we ordered a beef burger. It turned out to be very good - probably close to a half pound so we were glad we ordered just one to share. And, rather than french fries, they served roasted potatoes with ketchup and Mayo. The ketchup & Mayo were served together side by side in the same small cup. We both got plenty to eat.

Oh by the way, Julie, the hotel restaurant serves a club sandwich that has a fried egg on the sandwich.

For now, it is time to relax a little and probably get to sleep very early. Our combined Saturday/Sunday has been very tiring - but it seems like we are off to a good start. Tomorrow, we will get our bearings and begin to see the sights of Copenhagen.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

off to vacation

Well...not much new lately. My blood pressure is pretty much under control - so the headaches are gone. I am feeling pretty good. Making it to work every day for almost full days. The only real news is that we leave for vacation in a few hours. Last night we got mostly packed and I have handled a few things that I remembered overnight. We will be gone for three weeks - so it takes a little planning. But, at least we will have laundry service on the ship in case we didn't pack enough of something. Today will be a very long day. We fly to Chicago mid-day. But, our flight for Copenhagen doesn't leave until late - so we'll be at O'hare for many hours. I am pretty sure that we will get to use the SAS airport lounge - so that will help. We will arrive in Copenhagen late morning local time - and I imagine we will go straight to bed since we don't usually sleep very well on the plane.

I won't be doing any blog posts while we travel unless I figure out how to do it from my blackberry. We'll see. In any case, it will be nice to get away and relax.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

doing well

Since learning that I am in remission, I have continued to feel a little better each day. Headaches have continued on some days as the docs have worked to get my BP down. Finally had to visit a hypertension specialist last Friday. As of last night, he has changed most of my BP meds - either eliminated or reduced dosage - and has added a couple different meds. I met with Dr Einhorn today and he explained that my high BP issue is "very complicated." Apparently, the latest blood and urine tests have shown certain measured substances are high and those substances cause BP to be high. And, there is an effect on BP by the Avastin that I get (and got today) - but they don't really know how. In any case, I learned today that my blood counts are "remarkable". Hemoglobin, white cell count and others are all back very close to normal. So...that's a good thing. Oh by the way, my hair is starting to grow back and it is coming in something like peach fuzz so far ;-)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

so much better

Well...after a week, I am feeling so-o-o much better. Each day my strength and stamina get a little better. And, it is such a relief to know that I won't be slammed with chemo any time soon. I have been able to get into the office and have stayed until around 5-ish without any problems. I have still continued to have some headaches - last night was a real head-splitter. But, they are pretty well controlled with Advil. BP is still not really under control. But, we are working on that. Dr Forkin made quite a few med changes on Tuesday - including adding another med and changing timing and dosage of a couple others. BP was down yesterday; but, it was back up today. I will be talking to her later today to see what she wants to do next. When I saw her Tuesday, she did say that it may be time to bring in a hypertension specialist if the most recent changes don't do the job. But, even with the elevated BP and the headaches, I am doing so much better that during the rounds of chemo.

FYI, we leave for a cruise on Aug 18. We will be gone until Sept 9. So, there will be no blog updates for a few weeks.