Carrie's Adventures

Friday, May 20, 2005

Warnemunde, Germany

A cute little place off the coast ~ yes, I finally found another beach. Although currently the temperature allows you to walk barefoot on the sand, that is about all this Canadian gal is willing to expose herself to.

Carrie at the beach ~ it's not warm!! Posted by Hello

The beach appears to be quite nice and is spotted with small huts which remind be of the Beach Houses on St. Kilda beach in Melbourne ~ these aren’t quite as elaborate, but appears as though they will keep your things safe while you are not enjoying the sunshine.

Beach Huts ~ aren't they cute? Posted by Hello

More Beach huts... Posted by Hello

The area around the port is very well developed with small cafés, shops and many a boat you could get on if you were interested in touring the harbour. I had a great lunch at a wee place called Casablanca where they breaded and fried the goat cheese and served it on a bed of tzaziki ~ yummy! Definitely a Lactaid kind of dish for those of us who don’t do dairy well… After lunch, I wandered to the beach and as always when you are out and about, you find other crew members enjoying the sights. I caught up with Sharon and we wandered through the shops and I found the cutest bathing suits and was pleasantly surprised to find that this is the one thing in Europe that appears to be cheaper than the Caribbean.

View of the Sidewalk Posted by Hello

Quaint homes ~ it will be beautiful when the flowers bloom Posted by Hello

View of the port entrance Posted by Hello

On our return trip to the ship, we managed to find the local watering hole. It is a bunch of picnic tables located behind an Airstream Trailer that serves as a Sausage stand. The beer is on tap and the company looks to be good. Jeff managed to spend the whole damn day there… Perhaps I will next time.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The movie: The Terminal ~ Carrie's version

Have you seen it? Do you feel for Tom when all he wants to do is leave the airport and see New York and they won't let him out? For those of you who haven’t seen it, it is a movie about a guy who flies to JFK and while he is mid-flight civil unrest breaks out in his country. As such, his country is no longer recognized by the US, he can not get a visa to enter the US and he is not able to return to his country. So there he is ~ stuck in the airport. While my country is not in the midst of civil unrest, there was definitely other stuff goin' on.

When I first came on board, we were made aware of documentation that would be required for us to get off the ship in St. Petersburg. This document is a Seaman’s Book and from what I can tell is only required here in Russia. So upon arriving, a number of us shelled out the $30US and 2 sexy passport photos for the document. Here in lies the issue ~ the books still have not arrived. It would seem the applications that were sent mid-March arrived in the UK, were processed and the promptly put in the mail. Yes, the mail, on their way to Miami. It now appears that the ‘package’ may have been misplaced. Without a means to track the package, there are a number of us who are now living ‘The Terminal’ onboard the Constellation while we are in Russia. The kicker here is that we overnight in St. Petersburg, so we actually have 2 days where we are able to see the outside world, but alas we can not pass the gangway. We are told that the package should be arriving in Dover this week, but I think they are merely trying to pacify us and stop the mob from crashing the Crew Purser’s office… So as we listened to the stories of others as they returned from their adventures on shore (including an unlikely trip by the Marine Admin Assistant to the Seaman’s Club ~ a strip club ~ by accident. Not sure how she managed that, but the story was good and I had a good laugh…). We are now praying to the Documentation God that the books will be delivered before next week.

So what I have seen of Russia is the Oompa band and port. This is apparently one of the largest ports going and I can definitely see why. Doing a 360 on the ship, everywhere you look you see loading equipment for the ships. Hopefully I will be able to report more later…

Port side of the ship Posted by Hello

From the back side of the ship Posted by Hello

Oslo, Norway

If you read the posting for Stockholm earlier, this may look familair ~ turns out this really is from Norway. Jeepers all of these Scandinavian countries look the same... Same feelings hold true, it was one of the most spectacular sites ~ particularly since I wasn't able to get off the ship while we were in port. :)

Olso is located in an inlet. So in order to get there, you need to sail a fair distance up this inlet. The surrounding land is rock with homes scattered here and there and a great number of trees. It reminds me most of the Muskokas for those of you who have been there. Unfortunately the pictures do not do it justice, but you definitely get the idea. I am sure this would be a great place to come and leisurely float with your boat!

Leaving Oslo Posted by Hello

Helsinki Finland

My first exposure to the Finns was a gal my dad once dated. She was Finnish and would speak in Finn to her mom. In doing so, we picked up a word or two, learned that the Finns love their fish, and in particular herring. As you know, I don’t do anything that comes from the sea, so this was never appealing to me. But you can see evidence everywhere as the market and the restaurants feature primarily fish delicacies.

There are two ports in Helsinki. One that is very close to the downtown core and one that is not so close. Unfortunately you know which one we ended up at ~ all hail to the shuttle bus. After going downtown, I wandered and took in the sights. Again, similar to Stockholm, you can see the North American influence as it didn’t take me long to find a McDonalds. As I wandered down to the water, I did manage to find the market. Unlike the market in Stockholm, these vendors were peddling their fish, wooden wares and winter woolies. With temperatures dropping to single digits, I was almost convinced to pay 25 Euros for those woolen mittens, but managed to hold off. The other unique thing about the market was the fact that they had little coffee vendors there. You could get your coffee and then sit and people watch… Unfortunately I arrived just as they were taking things down so I am sure I missed out on seeing the market at it’s finest.

A fish vendor at the Market Posted by Hello

After leaving the market, I wandered along the park area adjacent to the market. I find it remarkable that people find time during the middle of the day to take pause, relax and spend quality time either alone or in the company of others. As I walked through you see a number of people sitting on the grass, park benches and the like and coming from a North American view point, you wonder why on earth these people aren’t at work. Maybe they have found something that the rest of us fail to recognize the importance, or maybe we have just forgotten in our hectic daily life. Seeing people in the park, under the tree, enjoying a packed lunch it reminds me of the times in Melbourne when Jon Paul and I would get take away soup, sit in the park, enjoy the sunshine. I can honestly say I have forgotten how important it is to unwind…

Green parks in the middle of Helsinki Posted by Hello

The gang hanging out enjoying the sun and the Ice Cream Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Stockholm, Sweden

So the first thought when you get to Sweden is I need to find the IKEA… Despite the fact that the IKEA is only one train stop away, I decided to leave that for a later trip and spent my afternoon wandering through the streets. Like any other city it seems, there is an old section of town which has government buildings and historical landmarks, while the new section of town has all of the commerce and business aspects to it. Stockholm is no different ~ what is cool about it however is that the city seems to be comprised of a number of islands that are all connected by bridges, gaining it’s reputation as the Venice of the North. Reminds me of Vancouver in that regard ~ I wonder if they have the same traffic issues…

The other surprising thing we observed was that for the most part, people in Stockholm speak English very well. So well in fact their accent is barely detectible. They are also a very friendly bunch. As Ehrin was looking for the Post Office, we found that people were very helpful in offering directions and the like.

In the business area, there is a local market ~ full of fruit and flowers.

Stockholm Market Posted by Hello

Another view of the Market Posted by Hello

The other required stop was currency exchange and the Souvenir shop for some postcards. We walked into the shop to find it full of stuff moose, Swedish flags, shirts, postcards and the like. However the ambiance was complete with the musical selection ~ yep, you’ve got it ~ ABBA. I thought immediately of Liz and our many roadtrip adventures where each morning sees me getting out of the tent, bad hair, looking for tea, listening to the The Dancing Queen. I was somewhat surprised to learn that there is NO museum for ABBA ~ rather a corner of the Music Museum which is dedicated to the band. While looking online to see if there was such a museum, I was shocked to discover the number of avid ABBA supporters and the amount of ‘memorabilia’ they own. I will need to check it out one day ~ just to say I had been there.

We wandered into Old Town ~ missed the Royal Palace ~ that will be next time, but fell in love again with the streets. The entrance to Old Town has big archways and are quite beautiful, with the small bridge leading to it.

Entrance to Old Town Posted by Hello

Further along, the streets became narrow and cobblestoned ~ and the colours of the buildings were gorgeous.

The streets in Old Town Posted by Hello

Old Town ~ and all of that cobblestone! Posted by Hello

Lisbon, Portugal

After longing to get out in Funchal and another 2 days at sea, the time finally came when we arrived in Lisbon for me to get my feet firmly planted on the ground. The night previous had been a Wine and Cheese night in the Crew bar and while the temptation to consume great amounts of red wine was there, I was quite restrained remembering my previous lesson.

Often when the port is a long way from town, there is a shuttle that will run from the ship to town. This particular shuttle had to accommodate some serious road repair and while town was only 3 or 4 km away, it took a good 35 minutes to get there. However once we were there it was definitely worth it. I had forgotten how much I love European architecture and the whole café culture. There is something about being able to sit outside in the middle of a pedestrian street having your ‘fromage et jambon’ sandwich with a coffee.

We got off the shuttle at Commerce Square:

Commerce Square Posted by Hello

Commerce Square Posted by Hello

From the square you are able to walk down Augusta Street, which allows pedestrians only and find all kinds of shops and cafés. The part I loved about this was the wee side streets. It was one of my favourite things while I was in Melbourne and the quaintness of it all in my mind is unmatched.

Entry to Augusta Street ~ Commerce Square in the background Posted by Hello

I was out with a couple of ladies from the ship who were looking to shop. I myself had sights on seeing the Castle that overlooks the city. We were only going to be in Lisbon once, and I figured I could always shop later. So as I parted from the 2 gals and left them in search of the Body Shop, I wandered through the most amazing streets on my way up to the castle. Not really knowing where I was going, I managed to observe someone asking for directions and the local was pointing up the hill. I figured, I’ll follow him ~ I wouldn’t necessarily call it stalking, but I was watching his every move very closely.

Lisbon Streets on the way to the Castle Posted by Hello

More side streets Posted by Hello

The last view of the cobblestone paths... Posted by Hello

So as you do at just about every castle, I paid my 3 Euros, got the quick fact sheet and proceeded to wander through. There wasn’t much to the building itself, but the grounds were laid out and offered amazing views of the city. Everywhere you looked you would see the clay tiles on the roofs of the buildings. It was a very refreshing view and it made me realize how much history is here in Europe that you don’t see in North America. Much of Lisbon had been destroyed by earthquake a couple hundred years ago, so much of what is here is new. The castle is one of the few buildings that remained standing through the ordeal.

Carrie Posted by Hello

Commerce Square from the castle Posted by Hello

Tagus River from the Castle Posted by Hello

After a great day in Lisbon, we were off to Le Havre France and then on to Dover which began the ‘Baltic’ season.