Friday, August 30, 2013

Last Sea Day

 Tuesday August 13th was our last day at sea, Mike's last day of meetings and our last day on the Ocean Princess.

One of the things I did while Mike was at meetings was go to a culinary demonstration with the head chef and head maitre'd and then a galley tour of the kitchen area.

The staff had made some pretty incredible food sculptures for us to enjoy during the galley tour!

Here they are busy at work.  The meals were fabulous.  The head chef told us that he has worked for four different cruise lines and of those four (he didn't say which ones) Princess is the only one that makes everything, all sauces and everything, from scratch.

The head maitre'd is on the left and the head chef on the right.  I think the head chef looks just like Jimmy Kimmel.

They prepared a fantastic dessert buffet for lunch that day.  Almost too pretty to eat!  Almost, but we managed.

The last night was Baked Alaska night!  Here are our wonderful table mates who we sat with all week and had a lot of fun with.  This is our honeymoon couple, Brandon and Stephanie.

Our Canadian friends Ray and Joann

Our Florida friends Greg and Marianne - Greg attended the same meetings that Mike went to.

Our baked Alaska!  After we sang and waved our napkins while the waiters paraded them through the dining room of course!

Our delightful waiters, Anthony on the left and Louis on the right.  We had a lot of fun with these guys.

I also went to a port lecture on London, since we were headed there next, we packed, and then attended "Do You Wanna Dance?" by the OP Dancers and Singers for our final evening performance.  We couldn't have had more fun on this cruise.  I loved just spending time and enjoying this with my hubby :)
We docked back in Dover bright and early on the 14th.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

More pictures of Edinburgh

I mentioned that we took a lot of pictures in Edinburgh!  Today's are just a variety of photos that Mike or I took that I just found interesting architecturally, colorfully or whatever.  They might inspire design or art of some kind!

Below is a picture of a monument to Sir Walter Scott, who was a popular author who wrote Ivanhoe, The Lady of the Lake and others.  This monument sits right by the park, West Princes Street Gardens, on Princes Street.

I included this photo Mike took of me by the fireplace to show how massive it is.  This was in Edinburgh Castle.

This is St. Margaret's Chapel which is the oldest building within the castle walls.

Photos from the Great Hall in Edinburgh Castle

A close up of the windows at St. Margaret's Chapel.

Tartan plaids everywhere!

Bolts and bolts of tartan plaid.  Here is where you could be measured for your own kilt!

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Sir Walter Scott monument

Above is the West Princes Street Gardens

Scottish show onboard the Ocean Princess

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Edinburgh, Scotland

We arrived at the Port of Rosythe early in the morning on Monday August 12th.  We were able to stay and explore the city until midnight, so it was a good long day to explore.  Some people bought tickets to the Edinburgh Tattoo which takes place outside the castle in the Esplanade in the evening.  We were told it is a spectacular show of bagpipes and military drums.  Mike actually had meetings early the next day so we went back to the ship around 8PM and watched the Scottish show they provided onboard, which was also spectacular!

We both took a LOT of photos in Edinburgh.  It is a very picturesque and beautiful old city.  We took a taxi from Rosythe into the city of Edinburgh and began our own self-guided tour of the city at the Edinburgh Castle.  This is a picture looking at the city from the castle.
The castle crowns the topmost height of the city and dominates the entire landscape with its 12th century battlements.  Eventually the castle became so strongly fortified that no one dared to attack it.

This building is within the castle walls and I believe it is called Foog's Gate.  We joined a guided tour inside the castle led by a wonderful young Scotsman.  However, he spoke so fast with his thick Scottish accent, we had a difficult time understanding what he was saying!  What we did understand was quite interesting!
The Royal Mile leads from the Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is the official royal residence in Scotland and is occupied by members of the Royal Family on official visits.

Along the Royal Mile are many shops!  We had not taken time to do much shopping on this trip and wanted to bring something to our kids, so most of their gifts came from Edinburgh!

This purse is something I didn't buy so I took a picture of it.  I am having a little bit of buyer's remorse - thinking perhaps I "should have" instead of "shouldn't have".  They had some cute purses made of Scottish Tartan plaids and I fell in love with this one, but.... it has two handles and I'm a one handle girl....

If you like that purse as much as me, you will have to go to Edinburgh to get it - because that's where I left it....

This man is flying what he claims to be is "the World's Smallest Kite".  Jonathan gets one of these :)
 Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile were very busy and crowded, partly because it was "holiday time" in Europe.  We heard many, many different languages being spoken by the tourists there.  It was Disneyland-like crowded, on one of their busiest days.
Eileen and I were the shoppers.  Mike and John were the patient waiter outsiders. It was nice to have a gal pal to get shopping opinions from, no offense to Mike - he gives good opinions too!
We ate lunch at this place called Maxies.  We walked in from the street level and went down into a basement to the restaurant.  They asked if we'd like to eat outside and we said yes, so they took us out to this terrace which overlooked a street far below it!  Very interesting, as we were sitting outside the basement of the street above.

We could have had Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, traditional Scottish food, but alas, Mike had fish and chips (he just couldn't get enough) and I had a delicious tomato and herb soup which the waiter had to pronounce for me twice because I really didn't understand him the first time.  Ah, those Americans!
Haggis, by the way is a dish of minced meat and oatmeal cooked in sheep's bladder.  Neeps are turnips and Tatties are of course, potatoes.

Another beautiful day, weather wise.  We were very blessed on this trip with nice weather!

 There were many street performers along the Royal Mile, adding to the fun and the Disneyland-like experience.
The Scottish and Irish are the two groups that best represent the surviving elements of the ancient culture of the Celts, which once flourished in most parts of Europe.  Today the only surviving Celtic languages are Highland Scottish, Irish Gaelic, Welsh, Manx and Breton in north-western France.  Another Celtic language, Cornish, survived in southwestern Britain until last century.

Here is the invisible man! I got a little video of him.

Not far from Edinburgh in St. Andrews is The Old Course, which is one of the oldest golf courses in the world.  It is considered by many to be the home of golf because the sport was first played on the links at St. Andrews in the early 1400's.  The Old Course was pivotal to the development of how the game is played today.
For instance, in 1764, the course had 22 holes. The members would play the same hole going out and in with the exception of the 11th and 22nd holes. The members decided that the first four and last four holes on the course were too short and should be combined into four total holes (two in and two out). St Andrews then had 18 holes and that was how the standard of 18 holes was created. (Wikipedia)
The Old Course is home of the Open Championship, the oldest of golf's major championships.
We did not have a chance to go visit the Old Course so I think we need to go back and do that.  Mike can make a reservation now to play the course in two years.


Another street performer above -  and Mike and I in front of the door of the Queen's Gallery to the right.

Click on this picture to enlarge it, just so you know I did spell Jeffrey's name correctly!

After we walked and shopped the Royal Mile, we went to Princes street.  There is a beautiful park there and this clock was at the entrance to the park.  The plants and flowers making up this clock are all live.

Mike, Karen, Eileen and John in the park on Princes Street with Edinburgh Castle up on the hill in the background.

By the time we reached the end of the Royal Mile we were too late to go inside the Palace of Holyroodhouse, but we got some great pictures of the outside.  Mike took this one.
 This is back at Edinburgh Castle - me standing in line to see the Crown Jewels of Scotland.  The Crown Room contains the crown, scepter and sword of the ancient Scottish monarchy and the Stone of Scone, where monarchs sat (and still do today) to be crowned.
We also saw the apartments of Mary Queen of Scots, where her son James was born.  Mary was half French and staunchly Catholic, which put her at odds with her cousin Queen Elizabeth I of England.
Elizabeth finally had her cousin Mary beheaded for plotting against her.
Queen Elizabeth I, the last Tudor, died in 1603 leaving no direct heir.  So Mary's son James became King of Scotland and England.  In 1707, the Act of Union joined England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales in the United Kingdom of Great Britain.  The new British flag combined the crosses of patron Saints George, Andrew, and Patrick into a single "Union Jack".
More pictures tomorrow!