Category Image Home Again, 115 Days Later

Just before dawn on Friday, April 22, we sailed up the Hudson River, under the Verizano Bridge, and past the Statue of Liberty to arrive in New York, right back where we had started from on January 3. If you have been following this blog, you will know that this World voyage has been an extraordinary adventure and one that we are sad to see end. How are we going to deal with re-entry and reality after being away for 3 months and 3 weeks? A fellow I met on the ship who has done five world cruises told me that there are four things he hates about returning home: having to make his own bed, having to get his own breakfast, not having a chocolate on his pillow each night, and having to put his own napkin in his lap!

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Category Image QM2: A Beautiful Ship

The weather for our crossing could have been better, but if we had to be confined to quarters, I can't think of a more beautiful or comfortable place to spend five days. Cunard pulled out all the stops when they built this ship.

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Category Image QM2: Tragedy on the High Seas

We awoke this Wednesday morning to the sound of the Captain making an announcement that we have lost a man overboard during the night.

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Category Image QE2: Post-parting Depression

I admit that I went into a bit of a funk the first night we were on the Queen Mary 2. As lovely a ship that she is, I was really missing al the places and faces that had become so familiar to us over the past few months.

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Category Image QE2 Characters: Part Two

I heard from a number of people that they really enjoyed the entry describing some of the "characters" I have seen on the QE2. She seems to attract them like wallpaper attracts flies. So here are a few more descriptions for your reading enjoyment.

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Category Image England: Southampton

This was definitely a day of emotional conflict for us. After two days of packing and some pretty rough seas crossing the dreaded Bay of Biscay, we arrived in Southampton, the last port of call on our QE2 World Cruise. It was a bittersweet time because although we would be transferring to the "biggest, tallest, widest, grandest ship in the world", the Queen Mary 2, for our transatlantic crossing to New York and home, I really hated to say goodbye to the QE2 and all her wonderful staff. Stateroom 2057 had been home for us for the last three and a half months and we were really going to miss it. The good news was that the friends we had made on the voyage would be with us on the QM2 and were feeling the same sense of separation.

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Category Image Toot the Flute!

One of my winnings from the World Charity Fair was the chance to go up to the Bridge to sound the noon whistle. Once, when travelling across Canada by train with my Dad who worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway, my sister Jackie and I got to go to the locomotive car to meet the engineer and pull the train whistle. I never forgot what a thrill this was for me and I was equally excited about having the chance to sound QE2's deep, deep, horn. It was all a matter of pressing a rubber button at the right time. Or, as my invitation from the Captain referred to it, "tooting the flute"!

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Category Image Spain: Malaga

Seeing as we have a timeshare condo we can use that is just an hour's drive away from Malaga, we felt like we were coming home in a way. We have visited all the places that the shore excursions were slated to go (Granada, Ronda, Mijas, Marbella and Puerto Banus) and didn't feel the need to pay for a guided tour, so we decided that we would just hire a taxi and poke around on our own for the day. It made for another lazy day where we didn't do a great deal of anything, which was just fine with us.

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Category Image Spain: Barcelona

Barcelona is a fantastic city and I'm so glad we had two days here to get to know the place. Other than a two-hour, whirwind bus tour of the city a few years ago, neither of us had ever spent time in Barcelona and didn't really appreciate what we had been missing. It is Spain's second biggest city and is quite different from Madrid. I found it to be more cosmopolitan and the architecture is certainly more imaginative, while Madrid excels in its sense of history and its fantastic art galleries.

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Category Image Italy: A View from the Bridge

As part of a World Cruise Charity Fair that was held on board the ship, Mike and I made a bid for a chance to have champagne under the starts and a tour of the bridge. We didn't bid enough to win the tour outright, but when the Captain saw what people were willing to bid, he wisely accepted the top 6 bids, which included ours.

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Category Image Italy: Naples

Mike and I dithered for awhile as to what we should do on our day in Naples. We could visit the city, go to Pompeii or Herculaneum, take a drive down the Amalfi coast, or hop a hyrdofoil over to the Isle of Capri, just to name a few of the options. Seeing as I have visited this area many times and we will be back in this neighborhood in October when I bring a group over, we didn't feel compelled to do much of anything. But we settled on a leisurely day in Capri and it turned out to be just the right choice.

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Category Image Turkey: Marmaris

When I first saw on our itinerary that we would be stopping in Marmaris, Turkey, I thought, "Where???" I had to get out a map and look it up. I then got out a guide book and noticed that it warranted a couple of lines about being a popular resort town on the southern coast of Turkey in an area called the Turquoise Coast, quite close to Bodrum. All this left me rather underwhelmed at the prospect of a day in Marmaris. Boy, was I wrong!

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Category Image Egypt: Suez Canal

This entry is going to be short because I have to say that transiting the Suez Canal is not nearly as exciting as passing through the Panama Canal. For one thing, there are no locks. And although there is civilization and some farming along one side of the 117 mile canal, the other side is the Sinai Peninsula, which is basically desert.

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Category Image Egypt: Cairo

On April 4, the Queen Elizabeth 2 had the honor of being the very first tourist ship to dock at the new port of Ain Sokhna. We were also the first tourists to use the highway that the military built from Ain Sokhna to Cairo. The port went all out to welcome us. We were met by a band and male dancers dressed in multi-colored overskirts that they would take off and swirl over their heads as they twirled around like whirling dervishes. (And we were entertained with a wonderful display of fireworks as the tugs pulled us away in the evening.) There was a real sense of excitement in the air as we boarded our busses for the two-hour trip into Cairo. We were going to see the pyramids of Egypt! And not even the facts that we had to travel in a convoy escorted by cars of armed guards and that our muscles were still aching from Petra could dampen our enthusiasm.

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Category Image Jordon: Petra

The rose-red walls of Petra, half as old as time...

These words describe the ancient city of Petra perfectly. There is nothing in the world that compares with this magical place. Its ornate tombs, temples, and houses were carved from the rose-colored sandstone cliffs by the Nabateans over 2,000 years ago, and lay hidden beneath desert sands until the early 1800s.

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