Sunday, February 20, 2011

February Blizzard!

Last week we enjoyed temps in the 30's and 40's, boy was that nice! Then comes the weekend, temp was down to 8*F yesterday morning, and today we wake up to a blizzard, we're expecting 8" to 15" of the fresh stuff. The lord taketh and he giveth, we probably lost that much of our snow cap during the warm up.

So what did we do when it warmed up last weekend? Cross country skiing and snow shoeing.  This is Abby's first time this year on the shoe's. Her first complaint was that I took her snow that was way to deep. As I calmly told her, with all the snow we had on the ground, the snow pack was about 24" to 30" deep, and further more, that is why she had on the snow shoes! She still didn't appreciate where she was at.
This day for me at this time was a leisure ski, as I had gone out earlier in the morning for my physical workout. The temp was warm, with no breeze, but the snow was a little sticky due to the melt.

This brings us up to today. We awake with threats of another blizzard. So what do you do when these come? Make chili! Watch hockey! Surf to Nascar! Paint! Which I did last night. My art work is coming along, I enjoy all mediums, but I prefer working with the oils. My paintings are landscapes. I try to paint from pictures, but that isn't always the easiest. I like to paint scenes of places I'd like to be at or at places I would have enjoyed in a previous life. I'll continue to practice to perfect and below is my latest. Enjoy, and hope you all have a wonderful day.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days. Wrapping this up.

Now where are we?
Our last day in Barcelona, and like I've always said, when visiting a location you've never been to before, take the city tour. Becca, Abby, and I did exactly that, we bought a day pass on the double decker. Now I would suggest that when riding the double decker you should either, do it on a warm day or have warm cloths on. Our day found us not doing either of my suggestion. So in the morning, although it was chilly we road up top, after lunch, it was all down stairs. Barcelona, being an old city has hosted many things for the world in the past. To name a couple the Worlds Fair and Olympics. We saw both of these complexes.

1992 Olympic Stadium.

Like I said yesterday, old equals spectacular architecture! Old school to modern. Great finishing touches with unbelievable attention to detail.

Statues galore. 
Sagrada Familia.

As we travel through the streets, we come across familiar sights, a bingo hall, yes even in Spain they have Bingo!

One of the most famous designers in the world is Gaudi. His work is truly amazing, as I have posted 2 of his works.

Saturday night in Barcelona is crazy. People all over the place. Vendors keep their stores open to at least 9pm. We walked into a knife shop, it was elbow to &%*($#, we looked around and started to walk out when a little old lady sitting next to the door pointed at something, I looked a little closer and it was a ticket machine, you know something you might find in a meat shop, next customer ticket. We laughed and walked out.

Gaudi's Place.
 We finished out our night by getting a light supper, more topas, wine, beer, a stew, muscles, sausage, it was all good. We were taking off early in the morning so we needed to get back to pack and rest.

The following morning we're up early to catch the bus to the airport. Upon arrival we find our airplane needs repair so they offer to reroute us, we take them up on that so instead of flying to JFK then MN, we take a flight to Atlanta, then Mn, but get in to late to catch our connection to Watertown, so Delta puts us up in a motel for our last night out.

Over all we had a pleasant trip. It was very relaxing and we really enjoyed the special attention our tour guide gave us. Now comes my bias, you all know our tour guide was our daughter and her special friend, but I really have to endorse them highly. Was the trip perfect? Of course not. Do they have a lot of work to make it better? Of course they do! The real questions is, are they capable of doing all of this? My answer is of course. They're young, energetic, and most of all have a passion for what they do! You can tell that with how they get along with people and we wish the best for them.

Check them out for a trip, at ........until my next blog...John

John, Becca, Abby, & Jesper. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days. Midnight cruise and Barcelona

Ship's cabin.
The photo to the left shows our cabin for the night. Four bunks, bathroom, and enough room for our luggage. While on board we did go to the main dining room for a late supper. We kept it light, and of course we concluded the meal with Raki. I was also surprised with a birthday cake as this day was my 57th birthday. We got back to the cabin around 11:30pm, we were due into Athens by 7am. The ship was lightly rocking as we headed out to sea, just enough that it rocked me to sleep and I had one of my best night of sleep since on the trip.

Arriving to Athens on time, we disembarked, found the bus going to the airport, and in about 1 hour arrived for our flight to Barcelona, Spain. After a light breakfast, we stuck with the yogurt and honey, juice, we boarded our flight and 3 hours later we're landing in Barcelona. A very modern airport. Another nice item was that because we're within the European Union, there is no need to go through customs.

Unloading in central Barcelona.
We get our luggage and head to the bus for a 30 minute ride to central Barcelona. Now we're going to the see a big difference from rural Crete to metropolitan Barcelona. The first thing I notice is the number of people. As you can see in the back ground, although light at this time, that this is a city and there is lots of people. Not only people, but vehicles. Now I thought Tokyo had lots of motorcycles and mopeds, but I think Barcelona is right up with them!

Central Barcelona.

Barcelona is an old city which is obvious by the lovely architecture. Our stay in Barcelona is going to be a short stay, about 1 1/2 days and 2 nights. So on Friday night we elect to do some walking. We're viewing the shops, harbor, architecture and it's all very beautiful. One of the things we're looking for this night is that a lot of the bars serve topas. Topas are small portions of food. From bar to bar this becomes a big variety of food. There is also lots of people doing the same thing as we are. We find out that Barcelona is no different than any other large city in the world, it's a 24 hour city.

Shops of all kinds.
Great Architecture!
As we walk there is lots to see.
Beautiful Harbour!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days. Last Day on Crete.

One of Crete's Gorges.
Tunnel near the edge of the gorge.
Our time on Crete was winding down, after our breakfast at Milia, it was bags on, and hike back to the car, loading it up and onto the gravel road back. Once on the pavement, we don't go real far and we find one of Crete's Gorges. These gorges offer great views and hiking trails if you choose.
The gorge gets so steep that a tunnel was warranted, and of course, it's a one lane tunnel, but controlled by stop lights.

Road side vender.
Two friendly Greeks.
Our final destination is to the city of Chania where we'll board the midnight fairy to Athens. Prior to there our host and hostess has been wanting us to stop at a road side kantina, but on previous days we was closed. So we take one more drive by and he's open today. Upon arrival, this table behind the kantina is full of people, but they invite us to join them anyways. Out comes the wine glasses, and the toast's begin. Only one knows English, and his first words to me is, "what took you so long my friend to come visit us?" One of the couples have to leave, but prior to leaving he tells the vender to wine and dine us and that he'll stop by later to pay. This behavior was always present, very friendly people on Crete. So toasted bread, fresh tomatoes, cheese, chicken on a stick, fish, and of course wine starts to head to the table. The man on the right was our translator, and he told us that the gentleman on his right was dressed in black and had facial hair because he was in mourning for the loss of a grandson.

Fishing lady.
After our light lunch it was off to a beach for a little relaxation. We ran into Rose, who was born in Greece, had lived in the US for awhile, but had returned home to take care of her elderly parents. She was on the beach fishing and we had a nice visit.

Our short stay found us shortly back in the car and off to Chania, which is a port city and where we flew into 5 days ago. Our ship is sailing at 9pm so we have about 3 hours to walk around the Venetian Harbour. Shops and waterfront restaurants are in abundance. Again, the tourism is at a low right now, it being January, so some of the shops are closed. Like all tourist areas, there are lots of jewelry stores, t-shirt shops, boot shops(a note for all the woman reading this blog, the European fashion is wearing knee high boots), and clothing stores. Abby and I stop at a restaurant for a cocktail and some horderves. We have a sampler platter, tomatoes, cheese, olives, sausage, meat balls, to name a few of the items. Of course, we even end this with a shot of Raki.

Lighthouse in Chania.

As the sun begins to set, we gaze over the harbour, to the the light house, out to the sea and begin to reflect on what just happened over the last 5 days of our lives. One of the selling points of this trip was to learn about the healty ways of the people in the Mediterranean region. Being diabetic, I have to say I was real pleased with my glucose this week. Usually I go on vacations and my glucose goes up and down like a yo-yo trying to jump the string. That didn't happen this trip, so just maybe their life style is better. What foods stood out to me, fresh yogurt, fresh honey, greek salad,  tomatoes, the use of olive oil, the meats, cheese's, and of course the wine and Raki. We also did get a lot of walking in. So good food and exercise is the way to go.