Carrie's Adventures

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Oh what a mess...

Many thanks to Kevin for letting me keep my stuff at his place. And before I wore out my welcome, I decided it was time to collect my goods, pack them and take them off to the storage place. Well I don't think I realized just how much I had there.

I decided to take advantage of the time both Beth and Marc were out of the apartment and collected my things from Kevin's and brought them here to pack. I am very glad that Beth was not here as I think she may have had a bit of a heart attack looking at all my stuff spread out.

As it was, she came home to find her closet FULL of boxes. As a side note, VW convertibles, are capable of carrying NINE 1.5 cu ft boxes and still has room for more in the trunk. Marcus ~ you rock, a mover extraordinare.

The final 'big stuff' was moved by Kev ~ who knew his car could double as a moving van!! Kev ~ I appreciate your help ~ if you drank coffee, I'd give you STARBUCKS!!

Next big task ~ moving my suitcase from Beth's house to Canada Place to get my butt on a ship for 2 weeks vacation. I know, I know ~ who would have thought I would get on a ship while on holidays. I guess I am a bit of a nutter!!

One last time in Stockholm

So on my final cruise I made a plea to the Shore Excursion manager to let me go on the tour to the Ice Bar. Generally it is booked which means we don't get the opportunity to go, however Luc smiled upon me and signed me up as an Escort ~ Bonus being that I didn't need to pay to go!!

I realized during this tour that I should have taken more opportunities to go out on these tours as a) they were quite enlightening with local facts, b) you get a greater sense of actually seeing the place and finally c) you could escape, if even for a couple of hours the cloak of working on the ship and pretend that you were cruising.

Our guide was awesome...

We first toured the old town. I had been here before and figured I would be putting in time until we got to the Ice Bar, but as it turns out, I learned a lot and was amazed at what I didn't know about the city. First off, many parts of the old town is actually built on garbage. This is causing issues as the garbage is starting to sink and the buildings are shifting. It is noticable in some areas where the buildings are actually leaning. I also learned that in the winter when it is bitterly cold, to avoid freezing to be nosy and find out who is making the noise, they could just observe out the window peering into the mirror and check out the neighbourhood...

There as a cute little statue which was located in one of the squares. It 'apparently' is suppose to bring you back to Stockholm should you rub his wee little head. I am thinking, you have more control over that than the wee statue, but he was still cute!

The other interesting point was that there were a number of homes that had an icon above the door. This icon represented all of the homes that had purchased Fire insurance. This was important for if there was a fire, the Firemen would ONLY save those houses that had purchased this insurance. If your home was on fire and you hadn't purchased this insurance and your neighbour had, the fire fighters would stand at the home with the insurance and wait until the fire got there and then start to fight... Amazing.

So once our tour concluded and I had also been presented with the Nobel museum ~ apparently the Nobel prizes are given out in Stockholm, I had an opportunity to spend some money for 20 minutes. I made the most of it and bought 2 ceramic pieces which are gorgeous and after getting the Visa bill, apparently expensive!

We then gathered on the bus and headed to the Ice Bar. We arrived to find that it was WAY smaller than I thought it would be. The capacity is 30 people and is sponsored completely by Absolute ~ so here's hoping you like Vodka!

The inside is completely furnished with Ice. The average amount of time a person spends in the Ice Bar is 30 minutes. Guess the cold is a bit too much. Go figure, myself and a couple from Calgary were the last ones to leave... In fact they took this picture ~ do you think they may have had one too many?!?

As mentioned the bar is sponsored by Absolute ~ hence the menu, only Vodka products...

The bar itself has everything you could find in any other bar other than chairs. The staff only work for 20 minutes before switching out with other staff members. The glasses were of ice and were situated at the end of the bar. Your lips, while they didn't freeze to the glass, would get a bit stuck. All in all, a very cool experience... I'm glad I went. I learned a lot!

And of course you knew that I would be wearing the sandals... Thanks Luc! I had a great time!

Monday, September 12, 2005


Well I did make it to Oslo ~ the time in the port itself made it difficult for me to get out and see the city. We docked at 7am and were again on our way by 2pm. Given my morning work requirments, I was never ready to get off the ship until at least 1pm. That said, I decided on the last day that after the Audit, there would be NO NAP, and I would head out for a morning coffee and be back in time for work at 10am. The city itself was not 'very awake' on a Monday morning at 8am. But what I did manage to see was the city slowly waking up as everyone made their way into work.

There were a couple of intersting points that others were able to see ~ the statue park which had a number of interestingly naked statues placed close together for convenient viewing. I was only able to see the photos others had brought back to the ship, but it looks like it would have been worth a view.

The other sites included some of the Olympic venues from the '56 Winter Olympics.

As I walked around the downtown core, there was a nice park and settled in for a wee nap on one of the benches... that was until it was time to return to the floating office.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I'm HOME...

Well sort of... I've returned to Vancouver and have taken up temporary residence with some friends, but I sure can tell you it was a nice feeling landing in Vancouver. Very comfortable...

Anyways, I do owe updates from the last cruise and my missions:
Heading out in Oslo: check
Finding pottery in Estonia: check
Getting to the Ice Bar in Stockholm: check
Getting out in Riga: no check
Seeing the Hermitage: no check

The last cruise was good in that George let me go out pretty much whenever I wanted. With 3 of us in the office, there was definitely more workers than there was work, so the last little bit was definitely easier on the hours. It was hard to imagine that after becoming so comfortable in my small cabin that I was going to leave it and head back home. My world had become the ship ~ my friends, my support, my entertainment.

The trip home required just over 2hrs on the bus to get to Heathrow. From there I spent far too much money on lunch ~ I'm not quite sure how they afford things there ~ 14 pounds for lunch which was $26US and that was with only a diet coke ~ no beer! After hanging around the airport for about 4 hours, I finally boarded the plane for home. The flight was just under 10 hours which I suppose is really quite remarkable seeing that I was in the North Sea less than 24hrs ago. I always love flying into Vancouver and yesterday was no different. Coming in over the mountains, I get a sense of calm as we approach the runway, and often find myself saying, it's good to be home.

Beth and Marc picked me up at the airport ~ kind souls. Beth has a new VW beetle and similar to my car is not necessarily intended for moving folks around. So there I was with my suitcase and box in the back seat as they were just a bit too big for the trunk.

I think it will take a bit of getting used to the fact that there isn't anywhere or anything that I need to do. For the past 6 months I have been required to stick to a daily schedule. Now my time is mine ~ and believe it or not the 2 months has been sliced, diced and a fair bit of it allocated. Plans include catching up with friends here, taking a 2 week vacation, heading back to ON to visit my dad and Krista ~ gotta see the new house ~ and then coming back to see a few folks before I head to New York to pick up the ship again in November. With things planned out, I am sure the time will go very quickly and before I know it I will be returning to my tiny cabin and a life that has oddly become comfortable, if not a bit surreal.

Saying good-bye to everyone before I left wasn't as difficult knowing that I would be returning. It felt like I was saying 'catch you later', rather than good-bye. Although I do know that there will be some folks who will not be there when I return and that is sad. I WILL MISS YOU PAM!!

Anyways, I was up at 5am, it is now 6:45am and I'm ready for a nap. Oh the joys of days off! I'm going to enjoy them while I have them I tell you.

Photos from Oslo and the Ice Bar to come. I promise.