Semester at Sea, Spring 2013 Enrichment Voyage. Day 21 of 52. The M/V Explorer arrived in Amsterdam, Netherlands early in the morning. I signed up for the field trip to the Tulip festival at Keukenhof gardens in Lisse, Netherlands with my parents. The Tulip festival at Keukenhof gardens is only open for a short time every spring, and this was one of the last days. When we arrived there were many tourist buses in the parking lot. The sky was grey with some off and on light rain. The flower gardens were beautiful, although there were a few “ugly tourists” that walked right into the flower gardens. There was also a wedding party where the photographer had the full entourage stand in the middle of a patch of tulips. I don’t know how many flowers got trampled.
Olso. Semester at Sea Spring 2013 Enrichment Voyage Day 32.
It had been misting and raining for several hours before sailing into Oslo Harbor. The rain was heavy enough at one point for there to be standing water on the decks. It gets light very early this far north, but it was overcast so I didn’t see the sun rise at 04:13 AM. The mist and fog prevented us from seeing much of the channel and islands as we got close to Oslo. We left the ship as soon as the Norwegian Customs and Immigration officials cleared the ship. Our first goal was getting an Oslo Pass (good for museums, bus, tram, train, and ferry). The nearest tourist office at the port terminal was closed. We were told that it would open at 11:00 AM as soon as a larger 4000 passenger ship arrived — I guess that the M/V Explorer with 750 passengers isn’t a large enough ship to rate. The next tourist office was a 15 minute walk, just behind City Hall. This one was open, and we were lucky we arrived early. After taking a number you wait for the lighted sign to indicate your turn to see a tourist representative. In addition to getting the Oslo pass, we got a booklet, maps, and directions. They also exchange currency (but don’t have an ATM) and will make reservations hotels and trips. By the time we left, the tourist office was filled with 40+ folks waiting to see a tourist representative.
Next we walked to the ferry terminal to take Ferry 92 to Bygøoynes. The first stop on the Ferry is within walking distance to the Norwegian Folk Museum (Norsk Folkemuseum) and the Viking Ship Museum. After visiting the Viking Ship Museum we walked to the cluster of the Kon-Tiki, Polar Ship Fram, and Norwegian Maritime Museums. This was a longer walk than expected, and after figured out that we could have taken the ferry to the 2nd stop, or take Bus 30 to get these Museums. The Oslo Pass quickly paid for itself by providing free admission to the Museums. An interesting note about the Fram Museum is that the primary language for all of the displays are in English.
The next goal was Vigeland Sculpture Park. To get there we took Bus 30 to Olav Kyrres plass, and transferred to Bus 20. Two stops latter we arrived at the Park. The morning rain ended and the sky started to clear. There were six Tourist and School buses in the parking lot at the entrance, but not too many people for a 73 acre park. The trees were green with fresh spring leaves, and tulips were in bloom. A large part of the gardens had newly planted rose plants (not yet in bloom). In addition to tourists visiting the park, there were lots of locals including several groups of school children out to enjoy the sun. For this segment of the trip, I am focusing on taking pictures with prime lenses. With the sun shining through, I was able to get some sunburst images with the sculptures. A great future project will be to photograph the sculptures in all seasons and weather conditions. Yes, I want to return.
To get back to the ship we went to the bus stop. An electronic sign at the bus stop indicated it would be a 25-30 minute wait for Bus 12. Across the street was a stop for Tram 12 with trams running every 5-10 minutes. As soon as we got across the street, the tram arrived. A short time later we were back at the City Hall. All in all, a great day in Oslo.
Barcelona, Spain. Semester at Sea, Spring 2013 Enrichment Voyage – Day 1
After a long day of travel – Overnight on British Air from Tampa to Gatwick, then Gatwick to Barcelona we made it to the Semester at Sea M/V Explorer. The ship was not docked at the location that the SAS folks indicated, but we saw it in the taxi when we got near the port. Once on board we found our cabins and had dinner. On Friday, we were able to spend the morning visiting Barcelona. The weather was great with blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Our first stop was the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. There were many tourists visiting the unfinished Cathedral. My parents had online tickets to visit the inside of the Cathedral. If you plan to visit, get the online tickets – it will save you a line that was blocks long. I went to find Xavi, a friend and fellow student from 30 years ago when I went to Graduate School at Caltech. We had a great lunch of Tapas at Cerveceria Catalina. Xavi also recently retired and is spending his time traveling and doing photography: Xavi’s Blog. Then back to the ship for our mandatory safety drill before sailing off to Monte Carlo, Monaco.
When I got home tonight after being away from the house for a day, I found that the tomato plants on my deck wilting. It continues to be very hot here in New Jersey. I did water the tomato plants Sunday before I left, and from where I was in PA yesterday thought that they would have had some rain on Monday. Apparently not. I added 3 gallons of water to each of the planters. Hopefully they recover.
While doing the watering a Dragonfly and a very large white moth (?) flew by. The moth was about twice as big as a Monarch butterfly, and I have not seen a white moth this big before — but I didn’t get out in time with a camera (what did I say in my previous post — the best camera is the camera with you). I did get a couple of images of the Dragonfly and you can see one below.
Earlier this year I was on a Semester at Sea (SAS) Enrichment Voyage “Central America and Panama Canal” and last spring a SAS Enrichment Voyage “Caribbean Islands. ” These were both done as part of Nikonians “Ultimate Travel Workshops” run by Michael Mariant. Several images from these trips are on previous blogs from this site. While on the voyage this spring I heard that there was going to be an Enrichment Voyage starting this December, going into next year that would start in Nassau Bahamas, stop in several Caribbean Island then go to Brazil and up the Amazon river, and then back through some more Caribbean islands before ending in Fort Lauderdale Florida. This trip was not part of the Nikonians “Ultimate Travel Workshops” but I was still very interested. I didn’t sign up while on the last trip, mainly because of issues at work and amount of remaining vacation time this year. SAS extended the early sign-up time until 31-July-2011. I sent a reservation application in late Sunday (31-July-2011). Unfortunately, I got a call today that the voyage is well subscribed, and that my request for a single supplement would not be 150% (as advertised), but now 200% because of bookings. I’m not going to pay 2x because I am traveling single. I did a little bit of research and it looks like the Road Scholar group may have taken up the rooms since they are charging the same amout per room for the voyage for either single or double occupancy. ARRG.
I may be dissapointed, but now will have extra vacation time next year to do an extended road trip across America, and possibly an Alaska Marine Highway ferry trip to Alaska and Canada.