As I mentioned yesterday, the big draw in Bergen was going up the Vertical Train. A vertical train. You can see the tracks in a couple of pictures. You can also see all of us, walking through the rain. I suspect we walked a little less than 3 miles to get from the ship to the train and back to the ship. It only rained while we were waiting for the train, and then when we were on top of the mountain (that was more a hill than a mountain). We were on the very first train of the day. As we wandered up to the train tracks via train, I have to say it was impressive. If it had been a clear day, we could have seen more of Bergen. As it was, we got to see a lot of the city as we rose into the air.
On top, there was a café (that wasn’t open yet) and an open gift shop. There was an observation area. I wandered out to that area and took a few pictures. The rain started to fall a lot harder and faster while we were on top of the mountain, so we got the field test our new umbrellas. We did consider going into the café, but it was as I said, not open yet. When we first got to the top of the hill, the gift shop wasn’t either. We waited a bit, wandered the gift shop, and they walked out to see what else there was to see. There was a kids area, but we didn’t have any kids with us anymore. They, the children, were all adults. There were also sheep and other animals wandering around.
The trip back down the mountain was just as fun as going up. It is a train that rises about 78 degrees. Not straight-up vertical but close. By the time we got back to the ground, the rain had stopped. We had purchased lunch at the fish market, so we were going to head there next. Although, as became our tradition, we did stop at the bakery that was just ½ a block from the train station. The bakery was just on the crest of the section of the hill where they built the train. That means we got our treats and walked the rest of the way down the hill to the inner harbor. Like most US harbors, the inner harbor was devoted to pleasure craft and smaller boats. It was also where the fish market was located!
The story isn’t often about the picture, although the launch point for me always is. Today we start with lots of different pictures. Some are of the twins that live with me, many years ago. Some are of my daughter. There is one of my mother and I. There is one of my wife and her daughter. Mothers are interesting creatures. It is not a job you would sign up for, full of change and all sorts of hard things. There comes a time when you have to let go. That, you know your child has to go on their own. You wish. To send off into the world wrapped in bubble wrap. Protected from everything the world can throw at them but that isn’t realistic, is it?
The world will impact your children as you struggle to prevent that. It isn’t that the world is cruel. It is that life continues even sometimes as we grasp life itself with fingers tight. You know, when you are holding tight. It is the moment that you let go that suddenly realize your child is grown. I know as a dad that letting go is incredibly hard, but rewarding. As a parent, there is that intake of breath, that fear as you let go. Will my child be ok? Will they reach their goals? In the song Allentown Billy Joel talks about “the dream,” the dream of the children of steels in Allentown Pennsylvania was to get, at least as far as their old many got. To at least do as well as dad or mom did.
But that isn’t a fair dream for children. Children have to be free of parents dreams. They have to live the life they choose. That is the letting go. The twins came to this world more than 21 years ago now. Over the last couple of years, I find myself able to let go more and more. I no longer feel the need to micro-manage to talk AT the twins. We, the twins, discussed that on our walk yesterday. Talking at people isn’t good, ever. When one person doesn’t respond in a conversation, it doesn’t bode well. But parents often have to do that, to talk At their children. The teachable moments that don’t require the child to respond. You when a parent talks AT their child it is a one-way conversation.
Bergen Norway was the next stop in our Viking tour. A Costa Cruise line ship on the path of the Vikings. Bergen was interesting in that, unlike Gelsinger, where we were not doing any of the shore excursions, in Bergen, we had a plan. Yes. For those of you following along at home, part of our plan was to find a Bakery. But we were also going to go to the top of the mountain (that was more of a hill) on a train that was rumored to be vertical. Well, it wasn’t vertical, but it was a very steep train ride. We got off the ship to wander the city of Bergen before the train opened. The hardest thing of all was the fact that it looked like rain as we got off the ship.
It started to rain right as we made it to the point of known return — halfway between a gift shop and the ship. We decided rather than return to the ship for raincoats (which we didn’t have) instead we would wander to the gift shop and buy five umbrellas. The fight shop wasn’t open, and we waited under the awning for the 15 minutes before the gift shop was opening. It didn’t rain hard, so we did take our time and wandered by the Castle. I did wonder if the castle was used to keep the Vikings out or the Vikings in. I love castles, the stone the walls and the effort. Castles are a lot of fun! From the outer harbor to the inner harbor was a little over a ½ mile.
So we stood under the awning of the gift shop. As they opened the first thing, we looked for umbrellas. They had the smaller travel umbrellas, so we grabbed the top five, and a couple of other fun things and headed off towards the train. We were following the map the cruise ship had given us; we already had the tickets for the train. We were simply meandering to the train. We did, get there after stopping at a church. 15 Euros each to tour a church was a no-go. We got to the train roughly 40 minutes before it was open (notice an early trend here0? But, we ended up at the train a good 30 minutes before the official cruise ship tour it meant we got to sit on the train where we wanted!
We took three cameras to Europe with us; we ended up using two extensively, one was a video camera. We do have a few videos from Europe and posted those on our YouTube family channel along with yesterday’s weather feed. I find the memories flow when I see these pictures. We arrived in Geisinger, actually taking a journey down the Fjord. We have video and pictures of both coming down and going out the Fjord. We were only in Geisinger for 6 hours or so. Geisinger is a huge camping destination in Norway. Lots of people love to set up their campers just outside the city. The funny thing is the city itself is not where the cruise ship ferries land.
We landed in a small tourist trap area. It, the tourist trap looked like Wisconsin Dells or Nashville, Indiana. A tourist trap like any in the US. But we had a blast. The first place we went to was the gift shop. We ended up buying the four trolls that live with us now. Captain Lars the gnome/troll that lives on our boat, the moose crossing guard that lives in our kitchen and the lucky gnome that lives upstairs. The three trolls or gnomes are part of the family now. The fourth, the laughing troll /gnome, lives with my daughter at her house now. All four rode home in my suitcase and ended up surviving the trip. They would ride in my luggage for the rest of the cruise and three airplane flights.
Well, four flights. We flew from Copenhagen to Amsterdam, Amsterdam, to Copenhagen. Then Copenhagen to Iceland and Iceland to Baltimore. The stopover in Iceland was a lot of fun. Although last summer, the airline we went on (WOW!) went out of business. I heard there were people stranded for a day or more in Rajecvick. There was no, refunds or money returned. So they were out the cost of the original ticket and the new tickets to get home. Wow! Formerly Iceland air or Air Iceland is now no longer doing business. They were a cheap alternative for flying to Europe. But, this is about the crew making a beeline to the bakery. The twins, my daughter, and my wife wanted something sweet!
In June of 2016, we took a long-planned family vacation to Europe. We had promised the kids for many years that we would take them to Europe. They had been to the Caribbean, to Mexico, and Thailand. We knew they could handle the 7-hour flight. But Europe is different. Different in the sense that our families come from Europe. Although, based on ancestry DNA testing, not the split that I always assumed. We flew on an airline that is no more (once called Icelandic Air). Our flight left Baltimore international airport. BWI or Thorogood Marshall International Airport. The B is for Baltimore. The W is for Washington. It is the 3rd major international airport in the DMV.
(District, Maryland and Virginia)
We flew overnight and landed around 11 am in Copenhagen. (there was a brief layover in Iceland). We grabbed a cab and went across the city from The international airport to the harbor. Copenhagen has a harbor similar to Baltimore does. There is the inner harbor for pleasure craft and the broader commercial harbor. The Cruise ships dock in between the two in Copenhagen. We got to the ship right as boarding was starting. You get into line and wait. They check your passports and your cruise tickets first. We then had our luggage taken, to be put in our staterooms. We ended up getting two, one for the kids and one stateroom for my wife and me.
The Costa Cruise ship was clean. We had heard previously that sometimes Costa doesn’t do a good job. They were awesome on this cruise. We unpacked and went up to have a light lunch. After that, it was a journey up to the top deck to watch as the massive ship pulled out of the harbor. The fun thing was watching the sailboats off in the distance as they weaved and out of the wind turbines in the water off to the south of the harbor. We were off on our Costa Viking Cruise. Called the Viking Cruise as it replicated the journeys many Vikings took. Denmark first, then Norway, Denmark, and Germany. The first day and the pictures shared today are different. These pictures come from Geisinger, our first stop in Norway.
BART, in San Francisco, stands for Bay Area Rapid Transit. Washington has the Metro and Atlanta does as well. Chicago has the L. New York has its subways. But London has the Underground. The Tube. Mind, the Gap they tell you from speakers at every single terminal. Mind the gap is simply reminding people that there is a space between the platform and the underground car. Today a few evening pictures of Westminster Abbey. The pictures I am sharing today all shaky camera. I have mostly taken on the move. I suspect I should have stopped. But there was so much to see. So much to do, that I moved fast. There are great pictures of the Abbey, great pictures of the surrounding world.
But these are the pictures I have — the moments I captured. I will not again, traverse the light questions. Instead today it is all about the images of London. My all-time favorite Underground stop is Paddington Station, although a close second would always be Lord Pancreas Station. I wonder, was the Pancreas named for the lord of the Lord for the Pancreas? I don’t want to know. Landing at Heathrow London is one of the few cities that I didn’t go to the cab stand. I just got on the trains and headed off. My first trip, I was lucky enough to meet up with a co-worker that had gone many times. We took the Underground across the city and then headed north to Darby.
But this time, with the Shaky Cam views, we walked. We wandered the Financial district at Lunch. Our hotel was in the district, near a couple of parks. We walked around after work. The one evening we were off to the pub. The rest of the evenings, we were on our own. We are trying different restaurants. The days spent indoors focused on the project. The evenings spent wandering in London. London is a city of old and new. London is a city that has a long, storied history and promise. My favorite thing was to wander the theater district at night. On an earlier trip to London, I had stayed in the theater district. A hotel just off Trafalgar square and Edwards gates (that lead to the park, that leads to Buckingham Palace).
I was wandering in London for a couple more days. The first time I was in London, it was simply a stop on my way to Darby. Darby is north of London and is a beautiful place. The factory where the Rolls Royce cars were once hand-built was there in Darby. Rolls Royce was selling off its car brand to BMW a few years ago. Interesting that the top luxury car brands other than Lexus and Acura, and Jaguar are all in Germany now. By in Germany I mean they are owned by German companies. We were in the Financial District, and the thing I most wanted to see was the remains of the great Roman wall of London. Hadrian’s wall is far north of London and is more a wall to protect all of England.
The wall of London was to protect the city itself. We did go to a wonderful hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant. The best Indian food is in London. Not India. Well, that isn’t true. The best Indian food I’ve ever had was in Bangalore. But the Indian restaurants in London are amazing. The first day we were in London my friend/co-worker wanted to go to Harrods. Harrods is an experience. Walking into the liquor store of Harrods, I was in awe. My all-time go-to drink is to sit and sip scotch! I wandered into the basement of Harrods and got to see Glenlivet 50 year, and other 40,50 and even a 100-year-old scotch. One hundred years in an oak barrel before it was placed into a bottle.
That bottle was a little outside my price range. (15,000 pounds striking – or roughly then 24,000 US dollars). It was fun to wander Harrods! After that we were hungry, so we walked down the street to a pub. We had bangers and mash and a pint of bitters. Bitters served at room temperature as pointed out in the comments of my last London post are mandatory! In Darby, I was introduced to the English Pub. It is very different overall than an America bar. For the most part, America bars are more theme focused. They tend to be sports bars, or more like Marconi’s bar from the movie “it’s a wonderful life.” A place where people go to drink. English pubs have more things going on than simply big TV’s playing sports!
Over the years, I have become close friends with several co-workers. One of my closest friends and I worked on a project where we got to go to London for seven days. London is one of my all-time favorite cities to visit. London isn’t a place you go to sample Haute Cuisine. If you are looking for an unbelievable meal after an unbelievable meal, I would recommend Amsterdam. The second choice in that great meal trip would be Paris. If you are looking for great Indian food; however, London is your choice. London is a city of neighborhoods like all cities. In particular this trip we were staying in the Financial District. Near what was left of the original Roman wall of London.
My co-worker/dear friend enjoys walking as much as I do, so we walked. Every night, every day, we wandered the financial district of London. One afternoon the customer invited us to visit a pub. It was in the basement of a building that the customer team often went to visit. English pubs a similar to Irish pubs, and for that matter pubs throughout Europe. Very different look and feel than a US bar. We all arrived and unlike a US bar where you tended to find a table and sit, in the pub you got your pint and stood. There were many fewer seats in the pub. The beer was warm, another difference, well not warm but room temperature. That was also interesting.
I had been to London a few times before, so the room temperature beer didn’t impact me. I knew to order Heineken Ice Cold (my favorite) that is served at 32 degrees.
After the event at the pub, we ended up walking by several sites as the sun was falling. It is funny the things that you recall as time passes — the moments of reflection that time brings and the moments that are lost to time. I remember every day meeting in the hotel restaurant for breakfast. We enjoyed the baked beans (which we do for lunch and dinner in the US) and the fried tomato halves!
Today’s wander is pictures and words about the dogs that joined our lives. I know that Gwen and Fran are waiting at the Rainbow bridge. I am waiting to escort each of us over the bridge. The first do that joined us in Cincinnati, Ohio was Blackie. We don’t have many pictures of him. He was famous for tearing up shoes. Blackie was a welsh Corgi mix and moved to a farm after he bit our daughter. The next dog that joined our family was Gwen. She joined us when we lived in Western Hills, Ohio. Western Hills we had a fenced back yard and Gwen. She was an Australian Cattle dog and Blue Tick healer mix. One of if not the smartest dog that ever lived with us. Also the least likely to let people run across the back yard. Gwen moved with us from Cincinnati to Indiana.
When we moved back to Indiana, my daughter wanted to get a second dog. Gwen was particular, plus Gwen didn’t do well with kids, other than seeing them as a food supply. My daughter and I spent a lot of time researching dogs. We wanted to get a Great Dane, but the 8 or less year life span was too hard for us to deal with. We got a lot of useless input from a lot of people about dogs. We, my daughter, and I finally decided on a Lab. In particular, my daughter wanted a Yellow Lab. Francine joined our family shortly after that. The thing about dogs is you have to pick a dog that fits what you want, not what other people tell you that you need. We learned that with Fran. Gwen made it to 15 and passed away the year we moved to Maryland.
Fran moved with us from Indiana to Maryland. While in Maryland, we decided after a year or so to get another dog. Dylan appeared. Not that simple. My daughter and I had long conversations about dogs. We decided that this time, we were going to help the world’s dog population by adopting a Lab from the Lab Rescue of Virginia and Maryland. Dylan joined us. IT seems every time we add a dog, the older dog dies. Fran passed away, but unlike the year after Gwen Died, Dylan was so lonely that we went back to Lab Rescue. We were looking for a dog that the Twins could adopt. A dog that would be more of a family dog (Dylan sees himself as my dog and has more single person traits). Raven joined our family.
I cannot imagine what life would be like had we taken the useless advice we got.
I also cannot imagine what our lives would be like with our Canine friends!
One of the things my wife loves to do is go to amusement parks. The parks around Greenwood Indiana were the always delightful Kings Island. Kings Island was in Cincinnati, Ohio, and roughly a 2.5-hour drive. Once a year or so we would pack up and head to Cincinnati for Kings Island. When we lived in Cincinnati, we went a lot more often than when we moved to Indiana. There was also Six Flags in Louisville. Also about the same distance overall but we only went there one time. I had a customer meeting in Louisville, so my wife and the kids went to Six Flags for the day. We then drove home in the early evening. That was I think the only time all of us went to Six Flags.
Santa Claus land in Santa Claus Indiana later became Holiday World. We went there several times. But the initial pictures are of the pool and the construction crew that was the Twins. Not, a construction crew. They would be later. But at the age, they are in the picture they were more of a destruction crew. The two of them used to run full speed until they stopped. So as you wander the pictures today, you will see the two of them in our old Van on the way to Holiday World conked out. Like I said they were running until they dropped back in those days. We went to Holiday World several times. I do remember because the first time I went, it was still Santa Claus Land!
Most of the time, we would drive down early in the morning. The Park opened around 10 am. We would get up early and drive down. One time, for several reasons, my wife wanted to spend the night at the Holiday World hotel. It had been revolted the season before, lots of parts of the hotel were still being worked on. The hotel also had a golf course. The putt-putt was more our speed, and we wandered there the first night. It wasn’t a stellar 5-star hotel, but after a day of running around Holiday World, it was good enough. It also let us spend time in the park, and that was fun. My favorite thing at Holiday World was the wonderful glass blowing in the main store.
I love watching glass blowing!