Saturday, January 10, 2009

It's 2 days before I leave Austin and I'm packing the suitcase I will take on the plane. The picture is primarily for
Jonthy who will notice that I packed the yellow shorts. Daughter-in- Law Canan is having a Bon Voyage party
for me this afternoon and she has offered to take me to the airport on Monday.


Jonthy, Alice the uppity white cat's babysitter said...

Yep, Frank. Thems the ones.

Laura said...


Have you cast off anchor yet? Raised anchor? Set sail? I'm hoping for another bit of news soon as well as a description of stateroom, balcony, favorite bar, tablemates, etc. I

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Hi all. Dad is experiencing technical difficulties. This just in:

Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 11:57 AM
Subject: Damn

I'm fine. On the QM2. All is well. I've tried twice to update my blog. Typed a long message only
to have blogspot freeze including having the cursor freeze

Jane said...

I just reset my password to see if I can now post. Your boarding sounds chaotic. Love, Jane

heavy metal mom said...

sounds fabulous, Frank!! I love visual of you in the cigar lounge - too bad that Tom Barnes didn't travel with you :) Take lots of pictures and send us a postcard!

Karen, wannabe Bash-Cervenka said...

Hope you get online, soon, Frank!!

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Folks, here are a couple of updates (some of you would have seen a version of the first--wink):

From 1/15:
It turns out that the QM2 has a new wireless system and lots of people are having problems-a long line at the one persons office who is in charge. I will try to get help later today.

Boarding was a nightmare-like Ellis Island with 2500 people. Lines for 2 hours first to go through security next for passport checks and finally for our pictures and the magic card that opens your room door and acts like a credit card on board ship. I felt like the only American at first. Most passengers from the UK but lots from Canada and Germany.. The ship is very elegant and I constantly discover a new bar or lounge. The food is great. I walked the deck and went to the gym yesterday..
All my suitcases arrived fine and all fits in the room. Last night was the first formal night so I wore my tux for the Captains reception and for dinner.

Did the Churchill Cigar Lounge 2 nights ago with armagnac. Wonderful!! We arrive in Grenada tomorrow.

From 1/16:
We are docked at Grenada. I'm about to board a tender and go ashore for the "Spice Island"
tour. It's a beautiful day-temp already nearly 90 degrees at 8:05 am. More later.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Hi everyone--
It appears that technical difficulties may be insurmountable for Dad. He's having trouble even getting e-mail to work.

Here's a little update from Grenada, and I ask you all to extend him the courtesy of understanding that he is an old man (!!) (yeah, I'll pay for that):

Grenada yesterday. Nutmeg Factory-National Park-Lots of driving. Colorful Houses-cute schoolkids
No 28yr old but saw a beautiful black Grenadian policewoman but she didn't want to move
to Texas-just kidding.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

From this morning (1/18--aka granddaughter Erika's THIRD birthday):
The Company is working on the problem i'm told so maybe it will
be fixed and I can do my blog. We are at sea and I'm reading and went to the gym and walked a mile
around the deck.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Update via a very expensive phone call from the QM2: Dad reports that he is canceling his e-mail access until they can get things fixed (he suggests he might not be their favorite client). It seems that the problem might lie in his Mac. If the problem is not resolved by Los Angeles, they have promised to loan him a PC laptop. He says the ship is beautiful and he is doing a lot of reading. He just finished a book that Mom gave him about going around Cape Horn. Said it scared him to death, although he enjoyed it. He sent it on to the captain. So...Rio is the next stop (they arrive on the 22nd) then Montevideio, Cape Horn on the 28th, Santiago, Lima, Acapulco and reach LA on 2/10.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

1/24: Another update via a maritime phone call. First topic, as always, is his impatience at the nonfunctioning web access. He's taken his complaint all the way to the captain (with whom he was invited to dine one evening).

Dad is in between Rio de Janerio and Montevideo. It was raining with very low clouds in Rio; he couldn't see much at all. He was rather lukewarm about Rio, all and all.

He is looking forward to the next stop, Montevideo. It is supposed to be a lovely, quaint city and he is going on a tour.

He has now given a lecture on astronomy, which was very well received. He said that the ship provides comment cards so that the passengers can comment on the employees. He received a glowing comment card following his lecture.

Catalina said...

Katie, Thank you so much for the updates. I enjoy reading about Frank's cruise adventures.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Hi everyone:
Quick update via Lee and Canan, who received a phone call today from Dad. He's fine and having a good time. Had befriended the captain, and apparently dined with him several times. But as of the last stop, they have changed captains. So he has a new one to break in. He's enjoying the cognac/cigar lounge and has read 15 books. He had a great view from his starboard-side cabin of Cape Hope, and said the passage was absolutely beautiful and he that he took a lot of pictures. It appears that he has given more lectures on astronomy. He reports the last stop in Santiago was cool and drizzly. I quipped to Lee, "I guess that's why they call it Chile!" And a tip, if you go to the QM2 website, you will find a link to the bridge web camera. It's not the most exciting thing in the world, but it does give you a sense of where they are. Canan and I enjoy following his progress and remarking on the sea conditions. We observed Friday that it looked rough and indeed Dad took a dramamine (I have no idea how to spell that) just in case. But he was fine.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Dear All:

We're back in business--here's an excerpt from a recent (2/10) e-mail:

Dear All:

As they promised, I have been lent a PC laptop to do email. It has Internet explorer on it but no other
software so I can't try pictures. So here goes:

First, Happy Birthday to Canan. The Getty Museum yesterday was spectacular. Part of the reason was
that it had rained in LA the day before, the mountains were covered with snow, and it was spectacularly
clear and cold (low 60's) and sunny. So the view from the Getty was just beautiful-pictures later.
The tour included the usual-the Chinese theater, Beverley Hills, Rodeo Drive, downtown LA. The Getty was
the highlight. Back to the ship at 4pm and we sailed at 5pm.

At LA we reached the end of the first segment of the cruise so 1500 old Brits got off and 1500 old
Austrailians got on. So the Anglican priest's and my wonderful dinner table companions are gone.
I skipped dinner last night as I was still full from an expensive lunch at the Getty so I don't know
who the new ones are.

Rumor has it that I will be asked to talk again, but I still have not been contacted.
WE are on our way to Honolulu. WE are there on Sunday. I will try to call.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Dad called yesterday (2/15) from Honolulu. It was very early in the morning for him, and a beautiful day. He'd just had breakfast and all the many thousands of people were being disgorged from the QM2 to go off on their various day adventures (including, he marveled, a family with small children). Dad was heading off on a tour later in the afternoon. Let's see: he repeated how beautiful the Getty was. He is taking a lot of pictures which he downloads to his Mac every night. He's using an old-fashioned travel journal and writing out all his experiences by hand. He continues to enjoy the Churchill Cigar Lounge every evening. The composition of people has changed somewhat since Los Angeles, but he still has his two good friends the Australians (he, a former police detective; she, a nurse). On days at sea he goes to the gym and reads a book. He says he is a complete vegetable! He's gone to one "singles lunch" which was uneventful (filled with older Australian women). He says a lot of people are, like him, on the cruise to recover from some sort of bruising life event. He plans to try and call this Thursday from American Samoa. I thought I might be able to "ghost blog" as Dad--but haven't figured that out yet. We (Lee and Canan, Mark and I) are waiting for a letter he posted from Los Angeles--so maybe more in there to regale you with.

Frank said...

Dear FOF,

Dad called last night from Auckland, NZ--a brief chat before the phone starting cutting in and out.

He said Auckland is absolutely beautiful. He was interested to learn that no people lived there until the 1300's (Maori, maybe?) and no westerners until the 1800's. He's now heading for Sydney, where he will be sad to see his good friend the Australian police detective and his wife, the nurse, disembark. They are talking about re-joining the QM2 in Dubai, which I know Dad looks forward to.

I expect more people will get off in Sydney (I gather there was a big group of Australians who are doing the LA to Sydney leg)--so who knows what new people will join them.

After that, they head go to Tokyo--I think they are at sea for a while between Sydney and Tokyo.

I think his days are quite calm and peacful. He says when they are at sea he always goes to the gym, walks the deck, reads a book, and ends the day at the cigar lounge. So---the vegetative state continues. I asked him if he was bored and he said no, not at all. He thinks re-entering normal life (with chores, etc.) will be hard.

He's lectured again on astronomy, and hears he's scheduled to do yet another lecture.

Although he did get the promised loaner laptop in LA, apparently the password has expired--and no one knows what the password is, which is required for setting a new password. I imagine that laptop is floating somewhere in the South Pacific now. He tried again with his Mac, but couldn't get it to work. Both Lee and I have tried to call him, but neither of us could ever get through (past where we gave them our credit card numbers)--so let's just say the QM2 is beautiful, but seems behind-the-times in some aspects (!).

I commented to Dad that I find myself missing mom more since the holidays. He agrees. He says he dreams about her every night. I guess we all will just need time to adjust to having such a force of nature gone!

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Dad is back on-line! Here's one from last night:

I now have a new computer-a new new computer. Yesterday, in Sydney, I mailed you each a letter which updates things after
Sydney was cloudy and rainy in the morning but cleared somewhat-temp in the 70s. I did the harbor tour called Canan and Lee
and did some shopping. Taxi back to the ship where the security was so tight that I had a hard time getting back on. Finally
a Sydney policeman on a motorcycle interceded with the private security guards to get me back on.

Last night was the elaborate dinner for the World Cruise guests-held in the Sydney Convention Center. There are about 300 on the ship.
The president of Cunard, Carol Marlow, came from Southampton. My Austrlian detective and his wife got off in Sydney but live
near the Convention Center so the brought their kids over to meet me and another couple. Their daughter is just into a PhD program
at Sydney University and wants to study the American frontier so they will come to Austin on a swing through the middle of America.
I will really miss them on the ship but they are hoping to re-join in Singapore.

Today we are just off the Australian coast heading North to Yokahama. We now have 6 at-sea days and are at the half-way point of
the World Cruise. I miss you and look forward to seeing you soon.

Jonthy, Alice the uppity white cat's babysitter said...

Thanks for the updates Katie. Alice sends her regards.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

This e-mail from yesterday:
Yokohama yesterday was cold (47) and rainy. I went off with Regina on the shuttle bus to the train station where we found the
SOCO department store. It was huge with many clerks ready to help. Using English was no problem. That clerk would converse
or scurry off to find one who could. After looking at several things we ended up in the Japan Department where they had
Japanese things. The rest of the store looks just like an American department store with the same brands. I bought Truman
some shirts and Erika some dolls. Regina bought herself a huge cat which is soft.

We ran into 2 Austrlian women from the ship (mother and daughter) who wanted to go to the famous park so we got a taxi and went.
Of course it was raining like crazy and cold so we all got soaking wet in spite of our umbrellas. Nevertheless the park was
beautiful with the blossoms on the trees just beginning to show. We took a taxi straight back to the ship and got back about 2:30.
I had wet clothes all over my room which have dried out by now (the next morning).

We are on our way to Hong Kong which we get to on Monday. I hope it's warmer and sunny. I just realized that I'm now
one month from the end of the cruise-hard to believe.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

From 3/10 (Hong Kong):
My Austin travel agent gave me an escorted tour of Hong Kong to thank me for my business. I invited my German friend Regina to go
with me. So yesterday at 9:30am we were met by a guide, named Victor, and a chauffeur driven S-class mercedes. The first
stop was the dried fish market-a series of shops selling dried scallops, squid, abalone, salmon, octapus, etc. They also sold
dried herbs and roots especially those involved with Chinese medicine. The day was hazy but no threat of rain. Temp in the 60's.

Next was a Dao-ist temple which was visited by Queen Elizabeth in the 1980's(?). They have 2 main gods, one warlike and the other
of peace and learning. This is the ying and yang thing. The place was extremely smoky due ot burning incense and included an old
woman who spent the day burning especially printed pieces of paper, bundles and bundles of them. The burning conveys the message
to heaven.

Next was Victoria Peak where the line for the tram was very long due to pasengers from our ship so we drove to the top and later took the
tram down-no line going down. The view from the top was spectacular even though it was hazy. There are more high-rise buildings
crammed in less space than anywhere I have seen. Apparently most people live in high rise buildings. Everyone is taught English
and all street signs are in English and Chinese-English first. As we walked out of the tram station our car was across the street and
our chauffeur had the doors open. That is the way to tour.

Next was a sampan ride on the harbor which was not very interesting and very touristy. You saw fishing junks on which people live. It
looks like a very simple and rustic life.

Next a dim sum lunch in a "members only" yacht club on the 9th floor. The lunch was wonderful and the room was spectacular. The
windows overlooked the part of the harbor where we had just taken the sampan ride. Victor took us a back way to the elevator
to go down and we passed an ice skating rink where kids were learning to skate. Apparently the club has 12 restaurants.

After driving around Hong Kong we were taken back to the ship at around 3pm. The ship sailed at 6pm for Bangkok.
I skipped dinner and watched us leave Hong Kong along the Eastern Channel and did laundry. The departure was spectacular
with all the lit-up high rise buildings and all the neon.

Today we are on our way to Bangkok. It's overcast but 78 degrees and no rain. Bangkok on Thursday. Today I have had breakfast (eggs
went to a lecture on Cunard and the QE2, gone to the gym,done my 3 laps of the deck (1.1 miles), am typing this and plan to read
on my balcony later. Tough life. Tonight the dinner is formal (about one out of 3 nights) and after we world cruisers are invited to
a Captain's cocktail party. Captains have changed again. We have back the one we had from Ft. Lauderdale to Rio. This is the very
Irish one who is full of jokes.

From 3/14 (Singapore). In the middle was Bangkok, which didn't get to us somehow.

Singapore yesterday. It was pretty hot and, as usual, we docked in the container port since the ship is too big for the cruise ship
port. My tour wasn't till afternoon, so I puttered around in the morning. The tour left at 1:15pm and included the place on the
Singapore river where Sir Charles Raffles landed and declared this to be the property of England, the hill where he built his house
and the Raffles Hotel. The hotel is 150 years old, is completely restored, includes turbaned doormen and a gravel driveway since
that's what they had 150 years ago. We went to "The Long Bar" where we had a Singapore Sling. That is a vile drink with fruit
lots of different kinds of liquers and ginger ale. The bar had boxes of peanuts on each table and you just dropped the shells on the
floor-the nuts inside were tiny. The ceiling had ranks of paddle fans waving back and forth. After that we had about a half hour to
shop and I loaded up at the Raffles Shop. My room is increasingly looking like a storage room for a store.

Singapore is a very clean, modern place with excellent roads, lots of trees and many parks. Eighty four percent of the people live
in government subsidized high rises. It is full of exactly the same shops you see at home-Borders, Seven Eleven,KFC, and all
the same fancy clothing and jewelry shops. The place seems busy but has been effected by the global financial crisis since the
shipping of goods through the port is down. It is hard to find things to buy that are distinctive of the place where you are.

Back to the ship about 5pm. Dinner at 6pm which is when we sailed. Two of our table companions left at Singapore so we have
two new ones, Jack and Margaret, from England who are very nice and about 80 years old. We are on our way now to India-
Cochin (whatever that is). We get there on Wednesday.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

And here's the report from Bangkok. Dad, typically, raises more questions than he answers:

Daughter Katie asked about Bangkok. I can't find any message re Bangkok in my sent mail so,either didn't send one or, I screwed up.

Bangkok was March 12. We docked a little late due to having to stop and pick up a dead body from the ocean the afternoon before.
I was on a tour of about 20 people sponsered by a set of travel agents to which mine belongs. So we set off about 15 minutes
after the ship docked. We docked at a port about 2 hours from Bangkok by bus. Bangkok has no zoning nor any city center so
high-rise buildings sprout randomly about. We went to the main street which was decorated for some royal visit which had just
occurred and to the nearby royal palace. That is the famous place all covered in gold and bits of colored glass. It was absolutely
spectacular. We had to take our shoes off to visit the jade buda which was carved from a single piece of jade. Next we walked to
the river and climbed abord a small boat for a river tour. The only stop was the Royal Barge Museum where the king stores
his elaborate golden decorated royal barges which he brings out once per year. We then went on in the boat to see houses along
the river with shacks next to mansions, kids swiming, people bathing, garbage boats, mail boats, grocery boats etc. The
ride was supposed to run one hour but went two. It was extremely hot and we were late for lunch. Lunch was at the Oriental
Hotel, a famous old place, and lunch was wonderful. It was beautifully presented and cooked and the service was exceptional. We had
about 15 minutes to shop at the hotel and I did while enjoying the atmosphere of the place. It alone would almost justify a trip to Bangkok.
We piled back into the bus and two hours plus (rush hour traffic) later were were back at the ship. We sailed a half hour later.

You did get my Singapore report. Cochin India tomorrow.

Stacy said...

yay! so good to hear about your travels! Kristal and I will be visiting Austin March 26-30 but I don't think you will be back yet. Keep the stories coming!

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Here's the latest. Don't even get me started....

Cochin India yesterday. Cochin is on the south west coast of India (also called Kochin). It is way south of Mumbai. Cochin has
a nice harbor for big ships but that is about all to recommend it. Perhaps I was influenced by temperatures in the high 90's
and an non-air conditioned bus. By the end of the tour I was soaking wet (from my sweat). It is also the case that when this ship
docks and 2500 passengers set out on tour in a small town with only a few attractions, the tourists overwhelm the attractions.

We began seeing the Chinese fishing nets set up along the river which are near the first Christian church in India where Vasco de Gamma
was buried. His body has since been moved to Portugal. We next saw a synagogue-the oldest one in India. It was on Jew street.
Then down the street to a shop. Along the way people selling post cards, fans, small models of the tuk-tuk taxis, etc. They are very
agressive. The shop obviously has a deal with Cunard to share the profits which is the reason that one was selected. The
positive was that the shop had a bit of air conditioning. Next was the old governors palace which was small and overwhelmed by
6 busses of ships passengers. On to an old hotel for refreshments and a harbor tour by boat. That was interesting because it
was cooler on the water and we saw eagles fishing and fishing boats unloading their cargo and the fish being sold by auction.
Back to the ship around 2pm and we sailed at 5:30pm.

The ship has had a mini epidemic of noro virus among the passengers who got on in Singapore so strong measures have been taken.
Sick passengers have been quaranteened in their rooms, mandatory hand disenfectant in the dining room, all railings constantly being
wiped down, no newspapers in the library. Apparently things are improving now. I have had no problem.

Last night in the Daily Programme for today was enclosed a letter from the captain about Somali pirates which letter I will save. The
basic point was that there is no problem but, if I tell you to over the speaker system, lie down on the floor and stay away from

I am investigating postponing my return to Austin for a few days in order to visit Regina in Hamburg. Stay tuned.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Dear All:

Dubai yesterday. Went with Susan, the Debbie Reynolds look alike, who is at my table. Regina booked a different tour. The weather was
hot but not too and everything is air conditioned even the bus stops. Dubai is amazing. Construction everywhere. More high
rise buildings than you can count. The tallest building in the world under construction. Two (not one) copies of the Crysler Building
in New York. Fantastic roads, monorail under construction, huge artificial islands under construction. First part of the tour was a
catamaran ride to see Palm Island-an artificial island laid out in the shape of a palm tree. The water was a bit rough and one woman got
sick. The ride was too long and the sky was quite hazy. Next the very nice bus took us onto palm island to see the housing and
hotel construction. Amazing. Final stop was the Burg Al Arab hotel- the one on its own artificial island and shaped like a sail.
We had tea there on the 27th floor. When you enter the lobby you are offered a date and then rose water for washing your hands.
Ahead of you is a giant stepped waterfall. On each level there are arcs of water squirted out of water jets which arcs dance and play
in a long performance. The hotel is hollow and you look up to see a fantastic pattern on the walls and ceiling. Tea was in a private
dining room and was superb. There were about 30 of us there all from the Queen Mary 2. Then Susan and I dashed to the gift
shop and loaded up. She is a very high-end interior designer and was busy photographing light fixtures, elevator doors, wall
coverings, etc. Back to the ship about 3pm. We sailed at 5:30pm. I am told that I will find out tomorrow about whether it is possible
to visit Regina in Hamburg for a few days. Cunard is checking flight schedules and cost.

Salalah tomorrow. I am toured out so I have cancelled my tour. We have 800 new passengers who got on in Dubai but not including
my wonderful Australian friends who got off in Sydney and at one time planned to re join in Dubai. The ship is still in noro- virus
mode. Things are improving but all ships parties and receptions are postponed. I am fine and hope that no sick people got on in

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Hi all--Dad is deep in pirate territory right now off the coast of Somalia. He reports that folks are on the decks with binoculars, helicopters fly by every now and then, and they are being escorted by naval vessels (although they remain unseen). He says he has his eyepatch ready.

Many of you have asked when he will return to Austin. As of this morning, he's planning on Monday, April 20.

Lee found this neat link (below) where you can watch both the ship's progress on a map as well as see the bridge camera.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Dad is heading towards Suez Canal--Egypt (Cairo) tomorrow. He'll be back in Austin April 13 (I previously had the return date a week later). He's delaying his return to fly to Hamburg to visit his new friend Regina. And he's signed up for beginning German lessons.....

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Yesterday we passed through the Suez Canal. We were supposed to start at 6am but got an earlier start. I woke up at 6am
and saw the Sun rising through the clouds and that we were just into the canal. It was very narrow there but got wider later.
The canal is "one-way" so ships wait their turn and go in convoys. At the half-way point there is a "divided highway" with
maybe 5 ships waiting for us to pass so they could go south. We were in the front of our convoy. It was a beautiful day
although windy and cool. (I fear that our warm sun-bathing days are over.)

Apparently one of Egypt's major sources of revenue is fees from the canal.

Regina and I spent much of the day on deck. On deck 11, just below the bridge, there is a great open viewing deck that
stretches from one side of the ship to the other. The ship moved along pretty slowly. All along about every mile there was
an Egyptian Army post with a few soldiers each. They would wave and shout. Regina and I would wave back. I found out
that she is able to whistle very loud and she used her skills. We passed several nice towns on the west side of the canal.
The east side is mostly sand. On two occasions the ships whistle blew-very loud and just above us. Far ahead we could
see fishermen in a row boat right in the middle of the canal. You realized how long a distance it takes to stop this ship.
They seemed in no hurry to move. They had nets out and only oars-no motor. As we approached, they moved slightly
and we steered a bit to the left and we missed them by 20 feet. I wonder if the enormous container ship behind us got
them. There are big green areas near the towns and we were told that the water is piped in from the Nile. It takes only
water to make the desert green. Of course the canal is salt water so that doesn't work. At one point-near half way
we passed under a very high and very new suspension bridge-the only one over the canal. We were asked to guess how
much clearance we had. It wasn't much but it was enough.

We left the canal about 4pm. The Captain said that that was one of the quickest trips through the canal that he had had.
We are now in the Mediterranean. Athens tomorrow. Regina and I are on tour together. Sunny and 64 degrees today.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Oops--sorry folks...I realized I forgot Cairo:

First, no pirates though even two days ago there were security staff on the deck with binoculars. As we passed above Somalia, we had
a US Navy escort for a while then later we passed a convoy of ships with a Navy ship in the middle. Noro virus continues to be
a problem but the number of cases seems to be declining. My cabin steward said that they plan to maintain "red" status till
Southampton. That means constant washing of all public surfaces, no big cocktail parties, manditory hand sanitizers in the dining
room, etc. Grumbles among passengers that we -the innocent- deserve compensation for a curtailed cruise.

Yesterday Cairo. We docked at Sukhna, on the Red Sea, east of Cairo. On the bus at 7:15am and an hour and a half later we were at
the pyramids. They used to be well west of Cairo but urban sprawl has happened and they are part of the city now. Cairo is grim.
Very many concrete colored buildings, many seeming half finished, and all sprouting a forest of satellite dishes on their roofs.

The pyramids were spectacular. We also saw a fairly recently discovered royal boat buried under the great pyramid. On to the
sphinx. Good guide who knew good photo spots but by now the crowds were huge. On Friday the day of rest there were many
school kids apparently from outside Cairo being introduced to their heritage. About this time a dust storm blew up obscuring
the pyramids and getting dust in eyes and everywhere else. We went on to ride a camel-photo later. Then to lunch at a very nice
private resort. Very nice tomato soup, a beautiful salad full of tomatoes and feta cheese, and a main course of steak and mashed potatoes.
The steak was too tough to cut but I was so full from the first two courses that it was just as well. Then to the museum in Cairo.
Our guide took us to the King Tut section since we had limited time. The museum is old, dusty and badly lit. The stuff inside looks like
a giant rummage sale of really old stuff. With the guides help locating the "good stuff" we had a fabulous time seeing the amazing
treasures. A new museum is being built on the outskirts of Cairo. A few minutes in the shop then back on the bus at 4pm and to
the ship at 6pm. We sailed about 8pm.

Regina stayed behind on the ship. I was on a special tour organized by a group my travel agent belongs to with Susan who is at our table.
Susan did not join us but the rest of the table got together for dinner on the ship. Everyone was tired and dusty.

We are currently going through the Suez Canal. It's about 10am. We started about 5am and it will take all day to pass through.
Tonight we will be in the Mediterranean leaving a kind of old, foreign, oriental world behind and re-entering the world I know.
It all seems surreal. We also are leaving behind warm weather and re-entering northern Spring. It's about 65degrees outside now.
The canal is narrow here. I'm looking east. Lots of sand and guardposts every mile or so.

Son Lee reports that my car was badly damaged by a massive hail storm while it sat at the repair shop for service. I hope that my
house was spared. It's always something.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

The updates are fast and furious now:

Athens yesterday. On a brief tour with Regina. The whole thing was bittersweet because I kept remembering what a great time
Susan and I had there so recently. I saw the hotel we stayed in and the hill-top restaurant where we ate dinner as we watched
the sun set over the Acropolis. Of course, we couldn't climb the Acropolis then.

Our tour featured the Acropolis. It is quite a hike up the hill with very uneven ground and steep steps with no railing. The Parthenon
is being worked on (as always) and the place was overrun with Italian school kids. The day was hazy and overcast but a perfect
temperature. The haze was dust from the Sahara. The Parthenon as beat up as it is, is still awe inspiring. As always the Greek
guide was focussed on the Elgin Marbles and their return from England. The Greeks are building a new Acropolis Museum which
includes a place for the Marbles when (if) they are returned.
I'm still impressed by the transformation of Ahens caused by the recent Olympic Games- dramatically reduced pollution, a beautiful
Metro. etc. On to the 1896 Olympic Stadium whose one advantage as a tour stop is ample parking for busses. Then a bus tour of
Athens and back to the ship at about 1:30pm. I had time to do laundry and to read. Joan (from our table) invited me out to
dinner to pay me back for the dinner in Aukland where she had forgotten her money. She and I had a nice seafood dinner at a
waterfront restaurant. She paid for it all-very nice. Back to the ship at 9pm and we sailed at 10:30pm.

Rome tomorrow, Cannes the next day and Barcelona the next. I'll be home before long.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Rome. Bus tour with regina. Stopped at Vatican. The Pope was out in front of St. Peter's with a big audience and I got his
picture. Back on the bus as it started to rain. The sky was very dark and cars had their lights on. We did a bus tour of
Rome and saw all the sights from rain covered windows. Back to the ship about 2:30pm. Went to the gym for my usual
workout. It's hard to believe that one week from today we are in Southampton and the end of this journey.

I'm on a special travel agent tour of Cannes tomorrow and Regina is on a different tour. Then Barcelona the next day.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Cannes yesterday. We anchored and were tendered ashore. I was off with my Travel Agent group. Many big yachts in the harbor.
The bus went by the building where the Cannes Film Festival will be held next month and through the charming and very French town.
As we drove up into the hills above, it started to rain and when we got to St. Paul it was raining pretty hard. St Paul is a hyper-
charming mideaval village with surrounding wall and lanes so narrow that you can almost touch both sides simultaneously.
As we walked through we got wetter and wetter but it was worth it. Many many absolutely charming scenes which I photographed.
At the end of the village is a graveyard with Marc Chagall's grave. Then to a beautiful hilltop hotel for a 5 star lunch-rack of lamb
with great service and lots of wine. Then to a small chapel which Matisse had decorated. It was very charming.

After bussing back through Cannes (with signs to Antibes, St Tropez, Monte Carlo, etc.) we got back to the ship about 4pm.
At dinner the Captain announced that on the day we plan to dock at Le Harve, the dockworkers there plan to strike. So
stay tuned for changes of plan.

Today Barcelona. Touring with Regina and a tour which features Gaudi. I look forward to it.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

Dear All:

I'm in love with Barcelona. It was a beautiful day after several days of rain. I toured with Regina and we had a great guide.
The theme of the tour was Gaudi and his architecture. First, Barcelona is a beautiful city. It reminded me of Paris but with a harbor.
It is full of the old, stone buildings maybe 4 stories tall-like Paris-but with quirky accents. As you leave the harbor on the bus you see
a giant statue of a lobster and a few blocks later a giant sculpture by Roy Lictenstein (sp?). Like many cities around the world,
Barcelona used hosting the Olympic Games as an excuse for really cleaning up blighted areas of the city.

First stop was an apartment building designed by Gaudi. Basically, Gaudi believed that architecture should be organic. "There
are no straight lines in nature." So everything is curved and puffy. It is absolutely wonderful-especially since in this case right across
the street is a modern bank building with the metal facade and all straight lines-very ugly. Nerxt stop was an extensive tour of
"Sangrada Familia" the cathedral Gaudi designed. The current entrance (the cathedral is still under construction) has the usual
carved figures on the facade. They ascend in order of increasing importance. First wisemen and shepherds and above angels
up to the manger scene with Mary and Joseph and the baby all carved in the usual stone but at the top above the entrance, way up there,
is a green christmas tree. The surfaces of the carvings are the usual matte but the christmas tree is shiny green ceramic.
Along the side there are windows each with a peaked dormer and at the top of each dormer is a shiny bunch of colorful fruit.
The inside is a busy construction site. The ceiling and coloumns are done. The coloumns are like trees with branches. The construction
is expected to continue for 20 more years. Fees from tourists are a major source of the money to finish it. I have many pictures.

Then on to a park which was originally a subdivision designed for a limited number of houses with common areas for kids to play
and with no commercial development allowed. Gaudi designed the entrance buildings to the subdivision and the bench which
surrounds the common area. Only one lot was ever sold. Gaudi lived in the house on that lot but did not design it. The area is now a city
park and mobbed with tourists. The entrance buildings look like Hansel and Gretal houses at Disneyland.

Finally the bus drove through the Olympic Village-now an apartment complex and passed the first Gaudi works which are lamp
fixtures outside a government building. Back to the ship about 2:30.

Our final stop will be Cherbourg not LeHarve. The dockworkers in LeHarve plan to go on strike the day we were scheduled to arrive.
I have to think about packing my suitcases. I cleared British Immigration this morning on the ship. Regina and I are talking about
our itinerary in Hamburg and about her visiting me in Austin this summer. It's hard to believe that this odyssey is almost over.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

I'm packing today. Tomorrow Cherbourg and Regina and I have a tour. The day after tomorrow we disembark in Southamptom.
I'm flying to Hamburg to visit Regina for a few days then I will fly home, arriving on Apr 13. After many computer problems on the
ship, Cunard finally lent me a computer which I will have to return today or tomorrow so this may be my last message from the ship.
The weather today is cold (53degrees) and gloomy.

It's hard to believe that this voyage is nearly over. I'm really glad that I did it. Since Ft. Lauderdale, the ship has covered some
36000 miles.-around the World at 26 knots. I've seen many places for the first time and made many new friends.
Highlights include Cape Horn, Acapulco, Aukland,Singapore, Hong Kong,Dubai,Suez Canal,Barcelona. The ship stays such
a short time in each port that you don't get more than a taste but sometimes that's enough.

It must be obvious that meeting Regina was also a highlight. She lives in Hamburg, is divorced and is 61 years old. She has
3 daughters and one son. She has 2 grandchildren. She is in great shape for an old woman. She plans to visit me in Austin
but no date is set yet. She tells me that I seem much younger than my actual age. Maybe that's what did it.

Katie, Frank's destitute daughter said...

The cruise comes to an end! Hard to believe it! From this morning:

Just a quick note-my last one from the ship. Just back from a countryside tour of Normandy. All very cute. We could see some of
the Normandy landing beaches and some German fortifications but the tour featured lovely little villages near Cherborgh.
It is a pretty day but cool and windy.

I need to finish packing and need to give back this computer to Cunard. This time tomorrow I'm off to Hamburg with Regina.

I will try to look at my email from there.

Catalina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catalina said...

61 is not old!She is a Spring Chicken. Can't wait to see you, the pictures, and hear all aboiut your trip.