Saturday, February 18, 2012

2011 SFC A Few Extra Pix

I have a few extra photographs- some taken by moi, some.....well- I didn't take.

I either forgot to post them on the appropriate day or they got misfiled and I just found them. In any case, they are fun memories I'd like to share.

Oh, and the ones I didn't take--yes, I am working on getting the proper permission. I will give credit where credit is due, though. The photos not taken by me--and you can tell because they have ME appearing in them--were taken by the MARVELOUS professional photographers aboard Crystal Serenity. Photography services for Crystal Cruises are handled by Paragon Pixels, and, in particular, three TERRIFIC photographers-- Jeremy Fratkin, Lianne Butler, and George Tzavaras. How they can manage to get ALL of us to 1)have our eyes opened at the same time, 2)smile together on cue and 3)make us look presentable is a testament to their abilities.

And, so--remembering that asking forgiveness is easier than getting permission.......

The boys.

Buzz at work.

(I may have posted that one before. Seriously, Buzz had quite a following amongst the male guests. He has high entertainment value, relaxing by the pool, making custom fishing rods, chatting with the curious.)

Brother Ed, the camera shy.

He hates this photo..I love it.

All of us in Prague.

(Ok, I'm in this one...the tour guide took it).

The Gang's All Here.

The Catherine Palace

(No, they didn't paint the palace to match Gran's shirt.)

The ladies of Maison Cou Rouge at sea.

Vintage Room Dinner.

The next generation of ladies.

And finally, although we lost a few before this last one- Gran, Will and Hutch are MIA-

The family salute!

Always remember that LIFE IS GOOD!!!!!!!!!!

2011 SFC Home Home Home

Time to head home! But not before one last chance for retail therapy and some photos.

Alix wanted a photo with this anti-child abuse signpost. Interesting how the message is clear in any language.

One last European meal.

One last Kozel. (In an Urquell glass).

A sign for the original.

Why are Alix and I on one side of the window and everyone else on the other?

Because we volunteered to be bumped off the overbooked flight. Wouldn't you if you were offered a $1000 travel voucher EACH?

Well, we made the plane. But because we volunteered to be "bumped", we WERE bumped...up to business class!

Eat your heart out, Austin.

Loved every minute of it.

Definitely the longest part of the trip was the Atlanta airport from terminal E customs to baggage claim.

See Alix?

Looking rather tired. Little did she know that Wesley was at the airport waiting for us. SURPRISE!!!! It took all my power not to tell her, and I'm so glad I didn't. But you'll see the video later...maybe.

It was the perfect ending for the perfect trip.

And if you haven't been bored to sobs, I am leaving day after tomorrow on another wonderful adventure with CruiseGran and the cousins......yippee!!!!!!!

2011 SFC Cesky Krumlov

If you haven't figured it out by now, trips with CruiseGran are not lounge-around-all-day-sleep-until-noon vacations. Her interest in seeing the world combined with our wonderful travel agent Teri Crane's research had us up very early to travel three hours outside Prague to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cesky Krumlov.

Three hours, you say?? Yes- and worth the drive many times over.

Cesky Krumlov beautifully preserves the architecture and atmosphere of the late thirteenth century.

But let's start at the top. The gardens of the palace is where we began our day with a group photo.

Just a short walk led us to the gates of the castle, with its magnificent view.

How old is this sundial, I wonder?

Bears have been kept within the castle moat since the sixteenth century.

Charming lanes and alleys connect streets.

Here's a look up from where the first photo was taken.

Clever way to span to hills, isn't it?

The castle has a series of courtyards. The faux painting on the exterior is wonderfully restored.

Yes, it is paint, not beveled stone.

More decorative manhole covers.

This takes the award for cleverest clock of the day!

The cathedral from the valley.

The Vltava River, the same one that winds through Prague, is much smaller here.

One of the "giggles" of the river system is the weirs. Some rafters do well...

and some, not so.

One of the main squares of Cesky Krumlov. Such charm!

We found a lovely spot for a late lunch before returning to Prague. Outdoors, but protected from the sun, we could overlook the weir and watch for the rafters' misadventures.

I went for the daily special.

It could have fed all of us.

And just when you think you'd seen it all, we came upon an art gallery with a most unusual entrance.

A stunning day.

It was hard to keep our eyes open on the trip back to Prague. A little Redbull aperitif helps.

After dinner, a leisurely walk back to the Palace found us playing with some unusual seating.

Almost time to head home!

2011 SFC A Day with the Axe Murderer

***Note to Ralf-Finally! I'm FINALLY getting around to writing about our day together! Words and pictures will NEVER be able to express how much I appreciate your coming over to Prague from Germany to see Alix and me. It was a fascinating and fun day!!! Hope we get to do it again- SOON!!

As you can gather, my internet friend Ralf came to meet up with us in Prague. Thanks again to Captain's Voyage Forum for linking friends all around the world! Ralf has business interests in the Czech Republic, and arranged his work schedule to coincide with our visit. It was so wonderful to finally meet him in person!

Is Ralf an axe murderer? Of course not. But it's my brother Ed's way of expressing--um......concern--of my making friends around the world via the internet. I love my brother to pieces for being so protective of me, and can't thank Ralf enough for thinking the whole thing rather funny. I think it's absolutely WONDERFUL to have this whole group of friends scattered all around the world- Germany, Asia, Europe. But I digress. Back to our wonderful and interesting day in Prague with Ralf.

After Ralf collected us, we were off on the tram. We boarded the funicular railway to Petrin Hill.

I caught our reflection a mirror as we began the trip.

At the top, the park was lovely.

I should have stopped to smell the roses more, because soon we were looking at our next hike.

Up the observation tower. Yes, there is an elevator, but ever practical (and FIT) Ralf tempted us to try the ascent on foot. Yep, we made it.. and the view was SO worth it.

Now, so all of you can see, here is Ralf with Alix....

(I TOLD you he doesn't even LOOK like an axe murderer....)

After walking UP....

and DOWN...

this beautiful and ancient city, Ralf took us for a treat.

A wonderful pub so far off the tourist map that there's barely a sign.

The Black Bull.

Oh, my, it was SPLENDID!

Here's a link to a panorama of the small room in the back where we sat.

And Ralf introduced me to probably the best dark beer I have ever had...Kozel.

Seriously (and remember I used to brew beer.......)

This stuff was sublime. Even amongst all the top-shelf Czech beers. I couldn't get enough of the stuff. It's all I drank after that pub visit. I am still craving it, almost eight months later. Yes, it is that good.

Ok, after a couple of pints, we were off again, this time to ride the antique electric tram.

Ralf knows I LOVE adventures like this- the slightly slower pace of the antique cars lets the rider look out the windows, find all the unusual details that make Prague unique. Then it was the fast tram back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

On the way to a "classic" Czech dinner, we took a detour to look for another famous David Cerny scupture-St. Wenceslas Riding a Horse.

Kooky, I know...but that's what interests me. Was so glad we found it. Then it was off to dinner (I wish I had the card from the restaurant- it was great!) Goulash and dumplings. Definitely Czech. Definitely great.

It was an absolutely brilliant day with one of the kindest guys I've had the pleasure to know. Thank you Ralf, for an amazingly memorable day!

**ps- Cecilia...this is just for you! We passed the Trilobite Bar!