Sail out from the final port was a bitter sweet occasion, both because it was the leaving of our last port of call, and because of the head cold. But sail out was a scenic occasion. Not only did we pass under the three Forth bridges, but we went past the aircraft carrier “Prince of Wales” in the construction dock, under the Forth bridges, and … Continue reading Final Sailout
I got back to the ship for a bit of a rest and to let the new cough syrup do its work. By “sail-out’ the skies had cleared and I felt well enough to go out on deck to watch us pass under the three Forth bridges. The one closest to the ship was the newest, the Queen’s Ferry Bridge. It was opened by the … Continue reading Three Forth Bridges
Rosyth, Scotland, United Kingdom, September 6, 2017: Rosyth is a former Royal Navy base, now a privatized port. It’s just up the Firth of Forth from Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital. While it’s no longer a military base a huge carrier “The Prince of Wales” is being built in her yards. I was feeling badly enough last night that we decided to not set an alarm and … Continue reading A Fortunate Alternate
Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, Scotland, September 4, 2017: What do you do in Kirkwell, Orkney Islands on a wet and windy day? Visit the Orkney Wireless Museum, of course! It is one of those delightfully cluttered and chaotic museums that invite exploration. There are all sorts of radios, and other somewhat related things, like jukeboxes, phonographs, and, WWII memorabilia. The World War II stuff is … Continue reading Orkney Wireless Museum
Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, Scotland, September 4, 2017: According to our Norwegian Sea Captain, Dag, Kirkwall is from the old Norse meaning “Church Harbor.” The town is best known for St. Magnus Cathedral but the town was named for the earlier St. Ofav’s Cathedral. This year Kirkwall is commemorating the 900th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Magnus, Jarl (Earl) of Orkney and the 880 … Continue reading A Cathedral Sets its Viking Sails
Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland, Sept 3, 2017: As Prinsendam pulled out of Reykjavik the PA chimes alerted us to a message. It started normally for a sail out with the Captain on mic, “This is your disembodied voice from the Bridge, Captain Dag.” But there was a tone in his voice that told us that we were in for some bad news, and he delivered it. … Continue reading Unexpected Sea Day
If you want to get to Iceland before it’s discovered, too late. While we found the Eastern, Northern and Western fjords of Iceland pleasantly un-trampled Reykjavik, which is a tidy little city, is overrun. While we were in port we saw 5 other ships, all of them larger than Prinsendam, come in and out. And that is not to mention all the Icelandair stopover packages … Continue reading Reykjavik
Reykjavik, Iceland, August 31: The “Golden Circle” was an invention of, I am told, Icelandic Airlines. The original low-cost pioneer. It was licensed to fly people to and from Iceland, however the flight from New York to Keflevik would renumber and become a flight from Keflevik to Luxembourg, or wherever. It flew prop planes into the 1970s, sometimes having to stop to refuel not only … Continue reading Cold Mist, Hot Mist and the Mother of Parliaments
According to Lonely Planet Isafjordur in the Westfjord country is best known for its folk museum and for a tunnel that has a “T” intersection in the middle. One part of the T goes to the town of Sudureri and the other goes one fjord further to Tingeyri. From Isafjordur to the T is two way, from the T toward Sudureri and Tingeyri it is … Continue reading Waterfalls, Tunnels and Sustainable Fisheries.
We berthed in Akureuri, which styles itself “The Capital of the North.” Akureuri, Iceland’s second city, sits at the head of the Eyjafjorur, a 60 mile long arm of water reaching into the interior of Iceland from the Arctic Ocean. It gives Akureuri a transitional climate between maritime and interior. We didn’t make more than a nodding acquaintance with Akureuri because we decided to take … Continue reading Where North America and Europe Drift Apart
You approach Eskifjordur by sailing down the Reydarfjord until you see a big aluminum smelter. A small fjord, Eskifjord, branches off to the starboard. At the end of that small fjord you see some gleaming white fuel tanks. This is Eskifjordur. The water is almost completely still and reflects the mountains. As you approach the fuel tanks, where Prinsendam will dock, you see, stretched out … Continue reading Aluminium and Fish, Eskifjordur, Iceland,
They call themselves isolated. They sit in the Atlantic between Iceland, Norway and Scotland, somewhere around 50,000 people on 17 or 18 islands. But to me they are fully connected. They have weekly ferry service to Denmark, Scotland and Iceland and about 10 flights in and out each day, several a day to Denmark but also to Iceland, the UK, Norway and Spain. To me … Continue reading Isolation depends on your point of view.
Johannes Patursson is a “King’s Farmer.” His family has been farming the same land at Kirkjubour in the Faroe Islands for 17 generations, since the Reformation. Kirkjubour, on Steymoy Island, is a town of a little over 200. It was founded near a beach where a lot of driftwood ended up, which made the land valuable because the Faroe Islands have no trees. It is … Continue reading The King’s Farmer
Torshavn, Faroe Islands, August 21, 2017: Holland America assured us that they loved whales but wanted to warn us. “Holland America expressly disassociates itself from whaling. We cannot control the cultural of the areas of the world to which we travel.” The line told us that if anyone had booked a tour through Holland America and wanted to cancel it and not go ashore they … Continue reading Torshavn, Faroe Islands.
Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland: The Shetland islands, no ponies, but we did see a goat. He was raising money to buy an infrared camera to be used by the Lerwick Lifeboat Society, the local search and rescue. We met him in a shop that sells hand crafted soap made from goats’ milk packed in little Shetland wool pouches. Since we arrived on a Sunday, one … Continue reading Shetland, No Ponies
This is Beltane, Celtic May Day. In 2002 we were in London walking down Great Russell Street and we ran across the “Beltane Bash” held in conjunction with the “Pagan Pride March.” This is from a family letter written in May 2002. Wherever we travel we find things that interest us. Saturday we walked into the fifth annual Pagan Pride Parade. The parade was to … Continue reading Beltane Bash (Happy May Day!)
Christmas Markets came late to the UK. It’s not that the UK didn’t celebrate Christmas. Since Victoria’s Albert brought the Christmas tree to England the Brits have done it up in grand style. Before Christmas markets, in the European fashion, came to the UK there was always Covent Garden with its stalls and decorations and Regent Street moving out from Piccadilly Circus. (Below are some … Continue reading Brexit Or Not, London Gets European Christmas Markets
Christmas Markets started in Central Europe, Austria and Southern Germany, and have moved up and down the Danube and spread out from that waterway across the continent. London has always had great Christmas decorations and shopping, but the European style Christmas Market crossed the Channel only in the 1980s. Today there are Christmas Markets, Fairs and Faires, throughout England, with the big one in Hyde … Continue reading Covent Garden, London, 2014
When the St. Pancras railway station opened in 1868 its wrought iron and glass train shed, designed by Henry Barlow, was the largest single structure roof in the world. It was 689 feet long, 240 feet wide and 100 feet high. The station was the pride of the Midland Railway and was fronted by a Victorian gothic revival hotel, The Midland Grand, designed by George … Continue reading St. Pancras International Railway Station
I woke up at the St. Pancras Hotel in London this morning at 5 AM with a great sense of quiet and thankfulness. Normally when I wake up early it is because of some imagined fear or excitement for the day ahead. This was different, a sense of calmness kept me awake. It had been a difficult week at the funeral of a dear friend. … Continue reading Thoughts on the way home.
Douglas is the capital. We stayed in a guesthouse right on the water and saw some wonderful sunrises and watched the ferry come and go from the UK. Continue reading Douglas, Isle of Man
Peel is on the West Coast of the Isle of Man. It is the cathedral town, it has the Manannan MacLir’s museum, as well as Peel Castle and St. Patrick’s Island. The island has working boats. It also has some interesting Celtic-Viking stones and crosses with both religious and pagan symbols. Continue reading Peel, Isle of Man
Castletown was the original capital of the Isle of Man. It is on the Manx Steam Railway. The Rushen Castle is still administrative center. The small whitewashed building is from around 1200. It was first a church than the first school in town, now it is preserved as a historical monument. Continue reading Castletown, Isle of Man
Port Erin is one of the loveliest towns I have seen, aside, of course, for Sitka. Unfortunately there are not many working commercial fishing boats there now. It is the southern terminus of the Manx Steam Railway. It is the home of the Manx Railway Museum. Continue reading Port Erin, Isle of Man