Today is 89 days before the cruise (and 87 days until my month-long vacation) and since it’s within 90 days, it’s now possible to book special services on the cruise and this evening, through the convenient website, I booked myself 4 strategically scheduled massages, ensuring I get the times that I wanted:
- July 6 @ 4 PM: Swedish Full Body Message (50 minutes)
- July 8 @ 8 AM: Deep Tissue Sports Therapy Message (50 minutes)
- July 11 @ 4 PM: Swedish Full Body Message (50 minutes)
- July 14 @ 4 PM: Swedish Full Body Message (50 minutes)
Yes, I’m spoiling myself. But you only live once, right? And who knows when I will be in Europe, or on a cruise again for that matter!
[Working from home today]
My original plan was to keep this project super-secret and then surprise everyone at the beginning of July. But after mentioning it to jen_ashlock and jkashlock over the weekend (no more secret) and thinking about it harder, I decided it would make an excellent example of an experiment, the results of which may benefit other people.
So what is this super-secret project?
I am leaning Italian.
I have ordered the Rosetta Stone software for Italian Levels 1 & 2, which is supposed to be the best software out there for learning a new language. I should have the software by the end of the week, and then I get started.
I can already speak fairly decent Spanish (and I am nearly fluent in my reading of Spanish). I am told that will make learning Italian even easier. My goal is to be able to speak Italian well enough to understand what I need to understand (directions, ordering food, simple conversation, etc.) in time for the Big Summer Vacation in July. It is a lot of effort for only perhaps a week or so worth of time being spent in Italy, but it will hopefully be worth the effort. For one thing, I think you get better service if you try and speak the native language. For another, hey, it’s another language that I can try out.
So, in addition ot keeping up with my workouts, and keeping up my commentary on SCIENCE FICTION AGE, not to mention my regular reading and writing, and softball, which will be starting up in a few months, I now have something else to fill my time.
Those interested in following along on my Italian language progress to see how well the Rosetta Stone software works for me may do so using the following link:
I got my booking number for the cruise this summer and with that number, I discovered that I could do several things on the website. So I put in all of my immigration information (passport number, etc.), my emergency contact info, and registered a credit card. This does several things. It automatically enrolls me in an expedited boarding process, and beginning within 90 days of the cruise, I can reserve services (like messages in the spa) over the website, so I can be sure I get the times that I want. (I’m planning on 4-5 messages over the duration of the cruise.)
I was also able to set my preferences (like whether or not I wanted robes in my cabin), see the itinerary, and other cools stuff.
I found out for certain that the cruise ship has wireless Internet access in several locations on board, so this blog will not miss a beat while I’m vacationing and will contain at least daily reports (and pictures) of my adventures.
I also enabled my cell phone for International calling with T-Mobile, which was easy to do over their website. Within Italy and Greece, rates are not too bad. On the ship they are pricey. But I also discovered that international text messaging is still relatively cheap and can actually be drawn from your pool of messages if you have a service (I have 400/month) so that might be the way to go unless I absolutely need to make a call.
124 days and counting…
I received word this morning that my flight from Dulles to Munich, Germany on July 2 (on my way to Venice to begin my big summer vacation) was confirmed for the upgrade I requested! That’s good news because the flight is just over 8 hours long and I did not want to be couped up in coach for 8 hours.
The aircraft is a 777 which means there are 3 classes, so my upgrade got me into Business Class. But my experience has been that Business Class ona 3-class airplane is much better than First Class on a two-class airplane. In any event, it means better food, better seats, more leg room, more space to stretch out and sleep and it only cost me 30,000 frequent flyer miles, which I had more than enough of anyway.
My whole vacation has been planned so as to be “first class” and now my first ever international flight will be (almost) first class as well.
I said I’d have my passport no later than Friday, December 29. It arrived today–only, I wasn’t home to sign for it and since was sent Express Mail, I need to be here, or pick it up at the Post Office. Since I won’t be home tomorrow, either, I will likely have to pick it up at the Post Office on Saturday. Even so, I will have my passport in hand before the end of the year!
Today, I completed the final travel and hotel arrangements for vacation 2007. As a reminder, I am taking the entire month of July 2007 off to spend 3 weeks in Europe. Mom and Dad are taking Doug, Rachel, Ruby, Carson, Jen, Jason, and myself on a cruise through the Greek islands in celebration of their 40th wedding anniversary. Since this will be my first time to Europe, I decided to take advantage of it and travel to England and France as well.
Check out my full itinerary
My passport processing is underway! I headed over to the Post Office at 9:12 AM and was back here in the office at 9:56 AM. Keep in mind that the post office is 0.7 miles away and so I had to walk a total of 1.5 miles in that time. They technically don’t start processing passports until 10 AM, and when I got to the front of the line, it was only 9:30. However, a very nice postal worker, Melina, helped me anyway. She checked all of the documentation, and processed the request. I asked for the expedited service for 2 reasons: (1) it’s close to end of the year and mail and processing paperwork gets busier at the end of the year; (2) I just wanted to get this done with.
All told, the bill came to $172.35. My passport will be sent to me via Express mail (I have a tracking number), and I should have my passport in hand by no later than Friday, December 29.
I’m finally getting around to getting a passport, which I will need for my trip to Europe this summer. I did some quick searching to see how one goes about getting a passport and found these “simple” instructions.
It doesn’t surprise me that a bureaucracy can take 6 simple steps and turn it into a 1,500 word document.
For those who don’t want to read through the document, the 6 steps are:
- Provide the Application for Passport, Form DS-11
- Present Proof of U.S. Citizenship
- Present Proof of Identity
- Provide Two Passport Photos
- Pay the Applicable Fee
- Provide a Social Security Number
It is suggested that first time applicants, like me, apply in person. Therefore, step 0 in the list of above steps should be “Figure out where to go to apply in person”. I found that I can apply in person at a post office close to my office building.
Today, I plan on filling out the application and getting my passport photos taken. I already have proof of U.S. Citizenship, and I already of proof of my identify. Once I have the passport photos in hand, I’ll call the local post office for an appointment. It seems to me the process should be simpler than this. You should be able to do just about everything online except, perhaps, present your birth certificate. But what do I know, I’ve never applied for a passport before. Maybe it’s easier now than it was 50 years ago.
To be continued…
UPDATE: I now have my passport photos; I’ve filled out my application; I’ve checked with the post office here to see if I need an appointment (I don’t), so tomorrow I will go into the post office and give them what they need to process my passport. I’d do it today, but my birth certificate is at home.
As a followup to an earlier post on the cruise I’ll be taking in 2007, it looks like the vote is in, and we will be doing a Greek Island cruise. Instead of a 7 night cruise, however, it will be a 12 night cruise. The particular cruise we are looking at now has the following itinerary:
Day 1: Venice, Italy (using ship as hotel)
Day 2: Venice, Italy (departing at 1 PM)
Day 3: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Day 4: Corfu, Greece,
Day 5: Katakolon (Olympia), Greece
Day 6: Athens (Piraeus), Greece
Day 7: Mykonos, Greece
Day 8: Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey
Day 9: Rhodes, Greece
Day 10: Santorini, Greece
Day 11: At Sea
Day 12: Naples/Capri, Italy
Day 13: Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
The nice thing about the cruise is that I’ll be able to knock off two continents in two weeks, since, I beleive, Turkey is considered to be in Asia. It also means, if things stay on schedule, that my parents will celebrate their 40th anniversary in Mykonos, Greece. I wonder if, 40 years ago, they ever imagined spending their 40th anniversary in Greece? It makes me wonder: where will I be spending my 40th anniversay? On the moon, perhaps? Mars? That would be pretty cool!
July 2007 is Mom and Dad’s 40th wedding anniversary and the whole family is going on a cruise in the Mediterranean in order to celebrate. Planning on this has just begun. There are two possible cruises:
7 Nights Greek Islands and Turkey
7 Nights Mediterranean (Barcelona, France, Italy)
Now, I prefer the latter, but just about everyone else prefers the former, so that is probably what we will end up doing. But I am interested to know what cruise you would choose and why. Am I the only one who would pick the Mediterranean cruise? Complete the poll and let me know what you think.
NOTE: Only LiveJournal users can fill out the poll. So if you are not an LJ user, you can view the results but can’t fill out the poll. Sorry.
Those who are curious can view the results here.