Tag: vacation.2007

221B Baker Street

Pretty much everyone figured out where I was going. 221B Baker St. is where Sherlock Holmes is supposed to have lived. Here are a couple of pictures:

221B Baker Street is now the Sherlock Holmes museum. Watson would be proud!

Incidentally, I estimate that I walked a total of about 6 miles today. That’s not too bad, and gives me a good excuse for skipping the gym today.

Bathroom acoustics

My freshly cleaned laundry was delivered a short time ago, so I jumped in the shower to wash away all of the ichiness from my previous clothes. I noticed that the acoustics in the shower are amazing. I did what I consider to be my best-ever acapella version of “Basin Street Blues” and it sounded terrific, if I do say so myself. Chalk up another plus for Starwood hotels: good singing showers.

And speaking of Basin Street, now that I’m all cleaned up and in fresh clothes, I’m heading back out. First stop on my list is 221B Baker Street and I will give you a few hours to figure out why. No Googling allowed. Scouts honor.

On the shoulders of giants

Today I visited Westminster Abbey. I walked there from the hotel, crossing the Green Park, passing by Buckingham Palace, and along St. James Park until I reached the Abbey. Those of you that have seen it know that you can’t miss it. You are not allowed to take pictures inside, but I did take some pictures from outside.

On the shoulders of giants

Early morning

Tried as I might, I couldn’t sleep much later than 7 AM, and for all practical purposes, I was really up at around 6 AM. I woke up around 4:30 AM at one point and the sky was already filled with daylight, another reminder of just how far north I am. (I am also reminded that my longitude at the moment is easy to remember: I’m very close to 0 degrees of longitude, being close to Greenwich.)

I cleaned up the room a bit, showered and had some laundry sent out. It is incredibly expensive to have laundry done here in the hotel (more than it was on the cruise ship), but I just have to take a deep breath and go with the flow. Besides, I need some clean clothes to last me the rest of the week. After that, I headed down to breakfast at Bracewells, the hotel’s breakfast restaurant. For 21 pounds, I had an overwhelmingly large breakfast and it was quite good, but it’s the last time I’ll do it. I just can’t bear to spend $45 on breakfast every morning. I very much liked the English-style bacon, which is a kind of American/Canadian bacon hybrid.

When I finished breakfast, I asked where I might find a pharmacy and was directed up Piccadilly a block or so past the Underground. There, I looked for plug adapter that had a level, instead of indented face so that I could plug my camera charger and cell phone charger into it. They didn’t have any U.S. to U.K. adapters, so I continued up the street until I came across an small Indian bodega. They had exactly what I was looking for: a “tourist travel adapter”. I brought it back to the hotel and it works like a charm. Now I don’t have to stress about my phone or camera.

I’m about to plan out what to see today, and then head out for the day. It’s beautiful out at the moment, by the way, although it looks like it may rain later on in the day. I’m hoping to get some good pictures.

Arriving in London: Cheers!

Today I flew from Italy to Munich and then Munich to London. I flew Lufthansa on both flights, and both flights were very good. We were served small sandwiches and Twix bars, as well as beverages, even beer and wine at no cost, which is better than what most American airlines do. I had to pass through passport control coming through Munich, as well as through London. Why is it that most of the passport control people seem very mean and cold? It is the repetition of the job? Well, in London anyway, the woman at passport control was very pleasant and was very glad to hear I was spending the rest of my “holiday” in London.

London, here I come

Leaving Rome

Up at 6 AM this morning and I requested an 8 AM car to the airport. It was difficult leaving that amazing suite. Mom and Dad seemed a bit down, but I think that was because they were actually heading home, whereas I am going on to London.

Yesterday, he11o_sunshine warned me that Da Vinci Airport in Rome was a virtual nightmare. In a series of text messages, I learned from her that there were long lines, that it was unorganized, that you couldn’t even check in until your flight posted on the board, and that once in line, you didn’t move. In general, it sounded pretty bad.

We had a great driver from the hotel who gave us a mini-tour of Rome as we left. We arrived at the airport at about 8:45 AM. I’m flying Lufthansa to Munich and then catching a connecting flight to London, so he dropped me off at the Lufthansa check-in first. With much trepidation, and having prepared myself for the worst, I lugged my bags and found the check-in line. It was long, but not LAX long. However, after about a minute, one of the agents came by and asked if I had electronic tickets. I did, so he lead me to a machine through which I was able to get my tickets (and seats on both flights) without a wait. From there, he led me to the quick baggage check-in, where there was no line and where I checked in my bags, had my passport scanned, and was directed to the gate.

There was a short line (3 minutes) at the security checkpoint, and once through, it was a 2 minute walk to the gate. In fact, I was at my gate at 9 AM, fifteen minutes after having gotten out of the car. I don’t know if this is because I am traveling to another country in Europe (restrictions are tougher to the U.S.) or if Tuesday is just not as busy as Monday. I can’t explain it. It will be interesting to find out how things went for Mom and Dad. They are scheduled to get into LAX sometime around 10 PM PDT and they probably won’t be home until sometime after midnight PDT, which means they will just be getting home while I am getting my breakfast tomorrow morning.

Oh, incidentally, I got a text message late last night, and he11o_sunshine and jkashlock made it home safely last night.

I have a very short layover in Munich and then I head on to London, at which time, I will be five hours ahead of my friends on the East Coast, and eight hours ahead of my friends on the West Coast. (And six hours ahead of thepopeswife and Trevor.) In London I’m staying at the Sheraton Park Lane, right smack in the center of everything. I arranged to have the hotel send a car to pick me up at the airport. If everything is on time, I expect to be at my hotel sometime between 3 and 4 PM local London time.

In the meantime, there are plenty of pictures to look at.


Okay, here are some photos from the first few days of my trip. I’ve still got tons more to post, but this should be a decent start:

Munich and Venice Day 1 (32 pictures)

Venice Day 2 (64 pictures)

Leaving Venice/The Walls of Dubrovnik (268 pictures)

First formal night and a day of rest for me (18 pictures)

I head to the airport in about half an hour, on my way to London. More pictures later.

Yes, I’m alive and well and updates are coming soon!

I’m in Rome at the moment. The last two days have been busy, yesterday filled with climbing Vesuvius and visiting the ruins of Pompeii, as well as packing; today, with debarking and seeing as much of Rome as I can in the few hours I have to see it.

However, now that I have a cheaper Internet connection, I am, as I type this, in the process of uploading lots of pictures. I’ll post links later. Given time constraint, I’m not going to label most of the pictures tonight; it would take too long. But I will post links to them later, and they will at least be grouped by the various ports we visited.

Oh, and don’t let me forget to tell you about the amazing suite that I am in right now at the Westin Excelsior, the upgrade courtesy of vickyandnorm. Norm outdid himself on this one. This suite is bigger than my house! I’ve got the pictures to prove it.

More later…

Naples, Vesuvius and Pompeii

This was a very early morning for me because I wanted to watch the sun rise and a very nice sunrise it turned out to be. The sun came up over Mount Vesuvius as the ship approached Naples from the south. I stood on the deck of the ship as it came up, taking several pictures of it. I then wandered to the front of the ship and watched us enter the harbor and then make what was essentially a three-point turn and back into our parking space at the pier.

More to come…

A day at sea

Written at about 9:55 PM local time

We were at sea all day today. I was up early because I figured it would be very crowded on deck and I was right. I had breakfast before 8 AM and by the time I got out on deck at around 8:30 AM, there was no room on the pool deck and I had to find a deck chair on the next level up. I spent about 3 hours sitting out in the sun (applying 15 SPF sunscreen every 45 minutes). It was very windy and even cloudy at times, and it was very crowded. And noisy.

I went to the buffet for lunch (and had Monte Cristo sandwiches, which I love) and then decided to try The Sanctuary. This is a place at the front of the ship on a high deck that is for relaxation. It costs $10 for a half day but I was happy to pay. I was given a very plush, comfortable chair in which to recline, as well as water to drink. The Sanctuary was shielded from the wind and it is a designated quiet area so there’s no music playing and everyone in the area is quiet. (There is a limited capacity and they don’t book it beyond the limit.) You can order from the bar, as well as order a variety of food that are brought to you. There are special towels. They even bring around cool towels with which you can wipe your skin to cool yourself down. I was at the Sanctuary until nearly 4 PM, when I had to get ready for my 4th and final massage.

My final massage was with Dunja again and although I thought the last massage she gave me was the best I ever had, she outdid herself on this one. She used these hot stones and pulled out all of the stops. And when it was all over, she once again remarked on what good physical condition I was in–again, just some knots in my calf muscles. She gave me a hug at the end and wished me well. I gave her a very big tip.

I wasn’t that hungry for dinner tonight, and in fact, I was downright tired. Sitting in the sun all day, doing nothing, can do that I suppose. During dinner we passed through the Strait of Misina, with Sicily to the south and the rest of Italy to the north. I had a crab appetizer that included two types of caviar–and it was the first time I ever tried that particular delicacy. The caviar was salty and the salmon caviar burst open in your mouth which was a little disconcerting. For the main course, I had beef Wellington, and for dessert, of course, the chocolate mousse. It was the last formal night this evening, so we were all dressed up, and after dinner, we sat for some formal pictures once again. Then, even though it was only 8 PM, I decided to call it an early night.

I came back to my cabin and packed up. I found out that my debarkation time will be between 9 and 9:30 AM on Monday; Mom and Dad’s will be half an hour later. That’s perfect since the car from the hotel will be picking us up at about 10 AM. I am now just about completely packed.

Nervously, with a fair amount of trepidation, I went to the purser’s desk to get a copy of my bill. I hadn’t looked at the bill at all yet and I was a bit nervous to see how bad the damage was. Turns out it wasn’t too bad. In fact, when all is said and done, for the cruise portion of my vacation, I came under budget by $318. For those interested in the breakdown:

Category   Budgeted    Actual     Difference
--------   --------    ------     ----------
Bar            $600      $371           $229
Massage        $500      $636          -$136
Tours          $500      $341           $159
Tips           $120      $120             $0
Misc.          $350      $284            $66
========   ========    ======     ==========
Totals       $2,070    $1,752           $318

Tomorrow, we are in Naples, and Jen, Jason, Mom and I are taking a hiking tour of Vesuvius and Pompei. It’s an all-day tour and I’m looking forward to it. Tomorrow night is the last night on the ship and then Monday, we debark in Civitaveccia, near Rome. I have some notes about this cruise, and cruising in general that I will post Monday or Tuesday evening. In the meantime, look for a description of our adventures in Pompei and Naples tomorrow night.

For a relaxing time, make it Santorini time

Written at about 7:30 AM local time on July 14

We were told by numerous people, crew and passenger alike, that Santorini was the most beautiful of all of the Greek islands we visited–and certainly the most unique. I, for one, was not disappointed. We were warned that there would be large crowds and long lines so I decided to get to the island as early as I could. Mom, Dad, Jen and Jason all had an organized tour of the island and their tour departed at 7:15 AM. I left for the island 15 minutes later, at about 7:30 AM.

Visiting Santornini