24 Apr 2014

Crystal Serenity 2014 World Cruise Review

How was this year’s World Cruise? - The BEST yet!

It was like going to your favorite summer camp with the addition of being spoiled with unrelenting luxury.  The experience of traveling for three months with the same people offers an intimacy not usually found in daily life. And while cruising in general has become very popular, Crystal just does it better than the rest.

World cruisers discuss the concept of whether the PORT visited or the SHIP ITSELF is the ultimate destination. Half our days were at sea and Crystal made the ship the ultimate destination.  No higher compliment can be given to a cruise line.

Besides just hanging out (an important activity) there is fitness, yoga, pilates, trivia, scrabble, piano lessons, many levels/types of computer lessons with university credits, dancing and instruction, bridge and lessons, knitting, needlepoint, and memoir writing every single sea day.

Did I mention fun?

Additionally, every sea day includes a number of lectures ranging from port information, current events, physical issues, general information to celebrity talks and first run movies with warm popcorn! We had real ambassadors, generals, POWs, Olympic champions, and experts on a vast range of subjects.

Every single night has much varied entertainment.

Where else would I be able to meet and eat with Hank Aaron?

Did I mention food?  As you know, I LOVE my food. Though not needed, they are always happy to customize meals and preparations. I asked for a favorite salad once and it was there nightly waiting just in case I wanted it. Whatever can be done for a guest, will be done.




Of course popping by many cities in 15 countries including Japan, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Mauritius, South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Senegal, Morocco, Portugal and the UK is not too shabby either.

We love our travel experience on Crystal so much, we are going to make ourselves available by hosting our cruises for those who may want to join for some or all of where we go. Details will follow shortly.


23 Apr 2014

London, 2014, Early Jewish History and Migration

I hired private Jewish guide extraordinaire, Stephen Burstin, to walk us around the East Side and educate us on early England Jewish expulsion and immigration. Additionally he regaled us with many hidden gems and countless anecdotes about London’s old Jewish “heroes and villains”

The name of Jewry Street derives from the Jewish community who resettled just inside the city gate. They were expelled in 1290 and not allowed to return for 400 years.

In 2001, a mikveh  (Jewish ritual bath) was discovered nearby that would have predated the expulsion.


The Bevis Marls Synagogue is the UK’s oldest synagogue and the only one in Europe that has held regular services for over 300 years.



The Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor (unfortunately that is not an oxymoron) served a very important role for Jewish immigrants. Over 2 million Jews fled extremely hard times in Russia between 1881 and 1914.

Many thought they were going to the US but were tricked into landing in London. About 120,000 stayed; almost all in this area.



Jack the Ripper did his business in this part of town. Jack the Ripper tours are quite popular in London and start near here. Many local businesses play off of his sensationalism.



What a nice treat when we ran into our cruising buddies, Barbara and Ted. We decided to pub together for a fun British evening. We enjoyed a nice stroll through the beautiful park between our hotel and the River Thames. 

22 Apr 2014

London, 2014

Since our three-month World Cruise ended in Southampton, and London is our favorite place in Europe, there was no chance that we were just going to head for the airport.

It was a “typical” gorgeous London spring day. J

I had secured great tickets to The Bodyguard five months ago. What an upper.

We stayed at The Savoy, just down the block from the play. It is one of London’s famous, located on he banks of the River Thames. Now a Fairmont, it underwent a three year, $300 million renovation (double budget) in 2010 and is back to its historical splendor.

Some Savoy firsts:

London has many great hotels though. I think they may be hurting financially and am not sure such a plush hotel is suitable for the West End these days.



Dinner was at Moti Mahal, and Indian restaurant in Covent Gardens, also in walking distance. We have been to fancier Indian restaurants, but this was the best Indian food ever. We had a great table right next to the windowed kitchen.

Please stay tuned for my 2014 World Cruise review.

17 Apr 2014

Lisbon, Portugal, 2014


It’s always a pleasure to visit Lisbon. Everybody seems to love it regardless of what they are after.




Sailing in shows off its history and quaintness.



Their narrow, hilly streets make the trams and elevator in the downtown shopping area a welcome relief.

Click here to read my 2011 Jewish Lisbon blog.

13 Apr 2014

Agadir, Morocco

I was shocked at how high end and modern Agadir is. Of course coming up west Africa most places would seem like New York City.

Casablanca, the larger port city feels like a dump. Not here.

Tragically the city was totally destroyed in 1960 by a major earthquake and from that rubble this modern beauty has grown. It is now winter tourist spot for Northern Europeans.

We made our usual stop at the local Synagogue