• upcoming trips

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  • Theatre and Concerts

    May20 My dear friend, Barbara, invited me to a play reading at the Roundabout Theatre Company. The play is by Greg Pierce and is entitled: The Decoys. the storyline has, as a base, the tale of the two escapees from a high-security prison some years ago. They engineered their exit with the help of electric tools supplied to them by a prison guard who was also the girl friend of one. I seem to remember that one died, somehow, shortly after the escape and the other recaptured. I do remember that the girl friend was arrested and charged. However,the main theme of the play seems to be the conflicted emotions of father and son. I found the reading, interupted by scene settings by the Director, somewhat rambling and difficult to follow. My short-term memory failed to reinforce my imagination.
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Gliding along the Danube on the “River Aria” – part 1 – Budapest

Lucy, our very pleasant, and always reliable car-hire lady, hefted our baggage and took us smoothly to JFK where we boarded a KLM flight to Schiphol airport in Amsterdam–an airport much beloved by Ethel in the past because it has a casino in which to while away any stop-over time travelers may have. From there, we took another KLM plane to Budapest where we were met by Grand Circle people who took charge of our luggage; gathered fellow passengers, and put us aboard a private bus to be transported to the Danube where the “River Aria” was temporarily docked.

From Budapest we cruised for ten days up the Danube visiting Bratislava, Slovakia; Vienna, Austria and Krems. We disembarked at Linz to board a bus to taking us to Prague via Cesky Krumlov, Czeck Republic. Enlarge the pictures to full screen for great detail.

The “River Aria” our full service floating hotel for ten days with — complimentary wine served with every meal!   When we arrived in our cabin, we were greeted by our baggage and, because of our previous trips’ record, the Captain’s greetings, a bottle of wine, a bowl of fresh fruit, a packet of chocolates and  fresh flowers! Most welcoming!

The view from the cabin window constantly reflected the changing shoreline as we sailed along . . .

 

The steward had lowered our bunk beds and placed a chocolate and the next day’s activities notice on them while we were at dinner . . . .

by coincidence, Christine’s nephew, Joey, was studying in Budapest at the time we passed through and Christine arranged to have him meet us aboard, on the day of our arrival, to have dinner with us while the boat shifted its moorings to the City dock, a little way downstream. It was a most joyful reunion all round! Here is a picture of the two of them enjoying the dinner conversation:

Joey and Christine

You may remember the tragic incident involving a cruise ship and a pleasure boat earlier this year? It happened under the bridge, near which, we now docked. As a result, the authorities banned the nighttime sightseeing which used to be part of every tour. However, we were able to see the lights of Budapest because the transfer from the loading dock took place in the late evening after dinner. Here are a few of the spectacular nighttime views of the city:

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Mihai, Program Director of the ‘red’ group, has an encyclopedic knowledge of the, often turbulent, history and politics of the whole region covered by our tour and he enthralled us all with his detailed explanations of the buildings and places we visited. Here he is with one of his flock:

Cristine and Mihai ready for the discovery walk . . .

Hungary, like its neighboring states is a land of towering steeples clawing their way to the skies; abbeys and castles perched on inaccessible hills (all, as yet, unhindered by modern skyscrapers); and many of the churches, like the one Christine is guarding below, have roofs decorated with geometric patterns and the insides are a riot of gilded artifacts! It also has countless commemorative statues from King Wenceslas to Kafka:

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Parliament Building

detail . . .

looking down the Danube  . . .

 

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The “River Aria” left Budapest on a somber note–a few yards up the dock form the boat, was a very touching memorial to the Jews who were rounded up and shot by local communists when the  advancing Soviet troops took over the region–the victims, of all ages, were lined up at the edge of the dock and shot so that their bodies fell into the Danube! Here are two picture of the memorial: A line of shoes cast in bronze and fixed to the spot where they died.

Sad memory of the inhumanity of which Homo Sapiens is capable . . .

 

. . .?

 

The Captain casting off . . .

boat’s bell . . .

To be continued — On towards the next Capital City,

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Bermuda Break

For, perhaps, the tenth time, Christine and I took a cruise to Bermuda. Partly as a respite from the long hours that Christine has been putting in in her Job at Fox’s and partly the lousy weather we have been having recently. This time, Luba (Christine’s younger sister) was able to join us. As it happened, the weather was not good by Caribbean standards; it rained a couple of days and the 80 degree sun was tempered by a cool wind; nice for walking and sheltered sun-bathing, but the water was too cold for the ladies to swim in. Here are a few pictures:

Busy ferry terminal at The Royal Dockyard where the NCL “Escape” was docked

 

Exotic palm . . .

 

Enviable ride to have in this idyllic set of islands . . . .

 

Old Bermudan selfie Bar . . . .

 

Part of the British fleet of yesteryear . . . .

 

Christine in merry mood . . 

 

Shot of the old fort (now a museum) at The Royal Dockyard. I am going to use it as a background subject . . .

 

. . . finally, a balcony shot of Christine on a fine evening.

THE END

Virtual Reality and Factual Teeth at AMNH

Christine and I enjoyed a members only,  late-evening, viewing of “T. Rex -The Ultimate Predator” at the American Museum of Natural History. The exhibit is a high-tech, hands-on showcase of the latest discoveries about T. Rex  and the multiple stages of its lifetime. As a hatchling, it had a beak-like mouth and feathers; As a juvenile it had a short snout and slicing teeth; as an adult, it could close its jaws with more that 7,000 lbs. of force and crush hard bones to smitherines!

a cuddly hatchling with feathers . . . .

 

a juvenile relative of T. Rex

 

A relative of T. Rex

 

Teeth! . . . .

 

. . .more teeth . . . .

 

T. Rex fossil . . .  Strangely, this massive jaw could close with such sensativity, that it could carry hatchlings to safety without harm!

An interesting feature of this wonderful exhibition, is the opportunity to don ‘virtual-reality’ equipment and travel 65 million years  back in time to watch virtual dinosaurs in their habitat. Because of the pace-maker, I was, at first, a little apprehensive about the emitting devices strung about my neck, but I really wanted to experience the opportunity and I was assured that the only effect would be the shock of proximity. Never-the–less, I was provided with a special chair so that I would not get disoriented and fall over! I used my virtual hands to grab pieces of fossil and aim them towards a frame which eventually morphed into a magnificent T. Rex which thudded through its giant forest towards me, turned, waved its  ton-weight tail above me, and stalk away.  It was a great thrill and I recommend every child of 97 and under to visit this extraordinary exhibit at the Museum.

This is a shot of the inter-active screen, nearby,  which gives a little idea of the virtual-reality format–but not the thrill of the experience.

THE END

 

 

 

The Ghost of July Garland

Last Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day, Christine and I went to The Producers Club on West 44th to experience the incomparable Peter Mac as Judy Garland! He introduces himself as Liza Minelli’s mother and he sings, and dresses, in the style of Judy in her vulnerable years. His monologue is sprinkled with funny (if somewhat Rabelaisian) one-liners, but the pathos is ever-present below the surface. It is most touching when he sings “Somewhere over The rainbow”.

Peter Mac as Judy Garland. (Picture taken by Christine on her mobile phone)

I was anxious to tell Peter how much we appreciated his talent and, to let him know that Judy Garland, at the age of sixteen and dressed in young girls’ frilly clothes, was the heart-throb of the whole British Army, (including me), some seventy-five years earlier! And, that his performance brought back powerfully nostalgic memories of a wonderful child actress. He keeps, on stage, a pair of the red shoes used by Judy to skip down ‘The Yellow  Brick Road’. I was surprised to hear from him that Judy Garland died fifty years ago!

 

Peter invited us to  have a picture taken with him. Dr. John (His spouse of ten years) kindly took this one with Christine’s phone. A must-see performance!

END OF POST

 

 

 

Caribbean Cruise with S and C, (End)

George Town, Cayman Islands

At this port stop we all took a trip to a local beach.

In New York it was snowing!

 

from the first row of chairs one could dip one’s feet into the sparkling sea water . . . .

 

. . . . or jump right in! . . .

 

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. . . . . while all this splashing around was going on, I relaxed in the shade of the beach umbrella, protecting my delicate skin . . . . and . . . .

 

. . . watching the competition go by . . .

During the rest of the vacation:

This is a selfie taken by Christine when she arrived back after a luminous deck party one night!

 

. . .this was a scene from her Party Bus . . . .

 

. . . as was this view . . .

 

And , finally. This is a picture of me looking for a local beer.

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

Caribbean Cruise with S and C (Part 2)

Harvest Caye, Belize

Harvest Caye is a small island just off the coast of Belize. I visited it some 45 years ago with my friend and colleague, Eddie Staine, who had arranged with a relative of his to take us there in his fishing boat and drop us off for the day. The island, then, was little more than a sand bar and was uninhabited–an idyllic spot for a picnic. An unmanned lighthouse stood at one end and two palm trees had rooted nearby. Here is a picture I took of Eddie sitting on a pile of conch shells discarded by local conch fishermen:

. . . . . the lighthouse and palm trees were behind me.

It is now a thriving tourist resort maintained by the local authority and has a deep water dock which can accommodate the largest tourist ships! 10,000 mangrove trees have bee planted around its perimeter and  a small wetland has been established  to entice migrating birds:

Covered walkway from dock to island .

 

. . . the lighthouse has been recycled . . . . .

 

. . . . . it is now a zip-line tower . . . . .

 

. . . Whee-ee! . . . .

 

. . . . landing.

 

Suntan lotion is a must . .

 

Travelers’ Palm

 

The resort is amply supplied with sun-worshippers’ lounge-chairs . . . .

 

. . . . and a floating bar!

 

Tourist shop, of course . . .

 

. . . which offered cocoa drinks . . .

 

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Ohco Rios, Jamaica

Christine and I took a mini-van tour of the town while Susan and Craig went snorkeling. We by-passed Duns River Falls which was an open sight-seeing spot when Dorothy and I  were there in the Seventies but is now fenced off and has a $23 dollar entrance fee! :

Columbus looking out to sea . . . he landed in Jamaica before sailing on to America

 

typical Jamaican dress

 

. . .wayside café  (tourists stocked up with “Blue Mountain coffee whenever they could!) . . .

 

local art carvings

 

Beach bar – Christine dropped off the tour here for a swim and sunbathe while I continued on with the rest of the tour . . .

 

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Beech Lodge reception . . .

 

Earings to fit the clime!

TO BE CONTINUED

 

 

 

 

Caribbean Cruise with Susan and Craig (Part 1)

STAY CALM!

YOU ARE ON THE OTHER  SIDE OF TRUMP’S WALL! 

. . . . so proclaimed the poster which greeted us as we landed in the Mexican tourist resort of Cosumel. The great many tourists off the three cruise ships which were docked there, found the notice extremely humourous; for the Americans among us, however, the humour was tempered with a certain dolefulness.

The NCL cruise ship we boarded at Pier 91 in Manhattan was one of their largest, the “Escape”; displacing more than 175,000 tons and accommodating some 3,000 passengers:

Click on the pictures for best detail:

THE “Escape”

The hulls of NCl”s ships are all decorated with paintings in the signature styles of different artists, this one by Guy Harvey. Guy Harvey is not only a great portrayer of marine life, but he has founded, and leads, a foundation for the preservation of the oceans. He is a vastly experienced deep-sea diver and his team has produced incredible under-sea movies of sharks, whales and sailfish and the like! The forward hull of the ship is painted with his logo: a breeching sail-fish with its beak wide open–I have a smaller one woven into the back of a tropical shirt I bought long before the ship was built!

The “Escape’s” distinctive chandelier . . . .

 

. . . . and intriguing Bar

 

Dining in the “Bistro”  . . . . .

 

Craig, Susan, Christine and me. . . . .

 

Christine . . . . .

 

. . . the ladies make their choice  in the Manhattan restaurant. . .

 

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Craig deliberates . . . .

 

Susan’s dessert

We manged, by dint of lining up very early in the stand-by line, to get a table in the Supper Club one night. The entertainment for the evening was provided by the Vox Futura; four classically-trained male singers from the UK who, among many other successes, won the European Song Contest. Their style of singing is a combination of operatic and soul — and an impressively refreshing sound it is–very exciting!

Here we are at our booth table: (Susan took the pictures)

Craig and Christine

 

Christine and me

Costa Maya, Mexico

At this port stop, we decided to do our own thing; Susan and I went to visit a Mayan ruin, Craig went on a snorkeling outing and Christine was happy to take a trip on the “Party Bus”! Here  she is boarding it:

A joyful Christine boards the party bus

 

Our guide to the Chacchoben Mayan temple has everybody mesmerised . . .

 

Chacchoben temple. I have seen much larger structures and, better restored than this – but this one has taken 30 years to rescue from an irresistibly encroaching forest — and this is only a tiny part of a once great city uncovered so far!

 

Susan climbed up as far as was permitted while I watched from a bench below

Susan and I completed our side trip in a bar/restaurant in sight of the docked “Escape”. We dined on a local spiny lobster cooked to perfection on an open grill, served with chips, salad, guacamole and a local beer. At our feet, the sparkling Caribbean splashed the rocks with enthusiastic glee. Unfortunately, the glee was a little too much around coast and Craig’s snorkeling trip had to be abandoned!

TO BE CONTINUED