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28 Aug 2017

London and Greenwich, 2017

 

Our summer trip is wrapping up in London, still our favorite stop in this part of the world. As usual we are staying in the West End, the fun part of town rather than at a chic fancy hotel in a chic fancy area.

Theater night in London is always a treat. We were thrilled with School of Rock, the Muscial, a musical adapted from the 2003 blockbuster movie. We did not know the show even existed but knew we had to go when we heard Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote 14 new songs for it. As they say here, it was brilliant.

After we wisely went with our concierge’s recommendation of a wonderful dinner house. San Carlo Cicchetti, known just as Cicchetti, serves Italian tapas in a bustling, trendy, upscale environment.

The next day, wanting to visit someplace new, we spent the afternoon in Greenwich. Since the weather was perfect we took a sightseeing boat down the Thames River seeing and learning so much.

 

The London Eye is gigantic up close. It is almost as big as The Linq in Las Vegas. (Newer ones always need to be a hair bigger for bragging rights).

 

The London Bridge is in the background past the Tower Bridge (which is way more impressive looking.)

 

The ride to Greenwich was a fine destination in itself. Visiting the Royal Observatory was really fun and informative.

 

Straddling the Prime Meridian is a hoot also. You could actually do this any place on a straight line from here to the South Pole (and up to the North Pole) if you knew where to stand and if you could walk on water.

 









26 Aug 2017

Barcelona Tragedy, 2017 Allyn Shulman Guest Blogger

Barcelona is one of our favorite places and we never miss a trip to the famous and bustling Las Ramblas Street.

It was a somber moment standing at the beautiful makeshift memorial spontaneously created where the violence had occurred the prior day.   To think, we might have been among the victims had our travel plans been different by a few days.

Thirteen were dead and 100 injured following the terrorist attack where a van plowed through the crowds.  The following day, droves of people came to the site to pay homage to a nation in crisis. 

Family and friends of those deceased wrote letters, lit candles and even took a deceased’s work boots and filled them with flowers.

That was a chilling reminder of a Holocaust memorial in Budapest where 60 pairs of rusted period shoes cast out of iron are displayed at the edge of the Danube to pay tribute to the men, women and children who were shot down there.   My son Julian recently visited.

Thousands of visitors came to the memorial and stared in disbelief.  People were unusually polite making way for others to look or take photographs. 

The mood in Barcelona was different than in past visits.  Our car was not permitted to drive into our hotel and had to stop in the street.  Staff apologized but asked for ID each time we  entered the hotel.   The local casino had security patting down patrons and searching backpacks and purses.  Even bottled water was confiscated. And finally, the port at which we docked and the airport from which we departed,  were filled with police officers dressed in combat gear with visible guns and other weapons.

In the famous words of German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) responding to the Holocaust:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me.

 We must stand up against violence in any form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 









21 Aug 2017

Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, 2017

 

 

The Balearic Islands are an autonomous Provence of Spain. Beautiful Mallorca has a bit fewer than 1MM inhabitants and Palma, its largest city, is home to about half of them. That is about how many people visited here annually in 1960. 30 years later that number of visitors grew to 7MM and it has tripled since then.

 

 

 

 

Last time we were here, on a Sunday, the shuttle bus dropped us off, everything was closed, and we got right back on the bus and when back to the ship. Somebody at the Chamber of Commerce got smart because today, also Sunday, it was booming and things were all open.

Allyn was able to get her 10,000 steps in as well as ride the hop on hop off bus. I opted for a massage.

 

 

I have a strong recollection that their beautiful cathedral, La Seu, is the only one in the world that reflects on the water.

 

 

In 2008 we did a Jewish tour here. Click here to read about their interesting history.

 









19 Aug 2017

Marseille, France 2017

 

Marseille is by and large a slum. The second largest city in France, and its biggest seaport, is old, ugly, and dangerous. Drug gangs and local mafia thrive here as does tourism now. I would have much preferred that we stopped in either St. Tropez or Cannes.

However there are a few pretty old buildings and they are working at cleaning up the “Old Port”

 

 

 

 

And the Provencal food served here is the BEST. I’m talking mussels, sardines, fish soup, and their untouchable bouillabaisse, which originated right here.

 









17 Aug 2017

Sorrento, Italy 2017

 

Arriving by sea sets the stage for a great day in Sorrento. It is a great tourist city in the Southwestern Italian coast where the weather is wonderful, and it is within easy distance of the Amalfi coast cities, Naples and the Isle of Capri.

Although a free shuttle to the top was provided we took the stairs knowing we needed the steps and what was in store.

We did not feel any need to venture out of town today.

We had already decided to go local with pizza, tomato salad with arugula, and beer. After all we are just down the street from Naples (home of pizza), you cannot find better tomatoes anyplace and either local beer or wine generally hits the spot when traveling.  And Allyn bought a new hat made out of paper.

The squares are lovely, but their narrow shopping alleys are even more charming.

 

Even the local art is unique and interesting. That can’t possibly be that goof from North Korea, can it?