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Trip Report London to Lisbon Norwegian Dawn October 14, 2023

I am trying to decide how to write about my trip. And I have decided to do it in small or smaller posts taking one segment at a time.

First, something general that will apply to the entire trip

I have said that I have arthritis of the knee and am looking at a knee replacement. I experience a lot of pain when walking or standing.

I was given an injection before leaving home to mask the pain but it did not work and so I experienced pain the entire trip. Sometimes the pain was very severe and sometimes less so but there was always pain walking and standing.

And it interfered with the enjoyment of my trip.

And a second general point

I am on a pretty tight budget and can not afford transport fees

I can not afford a taxi or uber to here, there or anywhere.

It would be nice if I could but I can't. So I am thoroughly dependent on public transportation and often it was difficult finding out how to get from Point A to Point B. That includes walking even with my bum knee.

Of course my trip would have been far more comfortable without a bum knee and ditto if I could have afforded private transport services.

I also experienced several disappointments and I am going to write about the disappointments in my trip reports.

Still when it is all said and done, i had many wondrous experiences. I am glad that I went on this trip. I saw a lot and experienced a lot. I have learned a lot including from my mistakes.

And I owe most of the good stuff to this community. Thanks to all who responded to me in one way or another.

To be continued. will be updated and edited

Posted by
13904 posts

It might be easier for your readers to keep your report to one thread while doing separate smaller posts for each of your topics or thoughts on that thread. Of course, it's your TR and you can set it up any way that appeals to you.

I'm sorry you were in pain for your trip. That so affects anyone's enjoyment. I'm glad you did have some fun and interesting experiences in the fabulous ports your cruise called at.

Posted by
6274 posts

I agree with Pam. Trip reports posted in separate parts have a tendency to get separated. You could go back once they are done and insert links to the other parts in each one, but that's kind of a pain to do.

I'm sorry about your knee and other disappointments, but hopefully you have scheduled a visit with your doctor to get that surgery. I have several friends who are in the same predicament and love to travel. Once they had the surgery, they said it was like night and day. They also told me that they got it done way before their trips to make sure they had plenty of time to heal. You mentioned you have a trip coming up next year, so that might be something to think about!

Also, you mentioned your money situation. I totally get that and have been in that position in the past. But I will say it is a shame that you spent so much money on a cruise but then don't feel you have the means to splurge a little with taxis or nice meals. Have you considered starting very early before your trip and possibly putting aside a little extra money each month to go into the "splurge" category for future trips? If you can't, you can't but it is a shame that you feel like you cannot enjoy a cab ride when your knee is hurting.

Posted by
1916 posts

Good Morning Mardee and Pam,

Since this is my first trip report, I am uncertain about how to best do it "My Way"

I am only able to write so much without becoming very tired so what I am thinking, write what I can, post it and then later edit and update and keep going but keep it to one thread.

Mardee,

My travel money is strictly from my savings. I think that I may have told you that my social security is the only money coming in and it is low, not enough to put away anything.

I made a lot of money while doing sleep studies for my insomnia. I am no longer able to do these studies.

I am no longer able to get any kind of work, even p.t. simple work.

My vacation money and others luxuries comes from my savings but equally my responsibility for health care comes from my saving. When this money is gone, there is no way to replace it. Thus, I am trying to stretch out my vacations by cutting back when I can or at least feel that I can.

but I can relate to what you are saying. Is cutting back worth the pain and the inconvenience?

Posted by
1916 posts

so Pam and Mardee,

I edited my title by taking out the #1.

I will edit my one thread, write what I can, post and move on until the next post.

Posted by
13904 posts

I think everyone will appreciate doing it that way if that works for you. It's just easier to get the feeling of someone's full travel experience in one thread! There is a letter limit on each post anyway so you'd have to break it up anyway.

What I usually do is write my whole TR up in WORD or googledocs, then add each post after I've got the whole thing done. That is how my mind works best but you might find a different way for yourself. I can go back and cut/paste or add things as I think of them.

Posted by
3240 posts

I always look forward to drafting a trip report once I get home, but this time stupid Covid took away my energy - both physical and mental. Now that I'm better, I just don't have the motivation anymore. I will give some lucky poster or posters the benefit of my trip experiences instead.

Posted by
9548 posts

That is great that you will continue to add things here in this thread, BostonPhil. It certainly makes it easier for others to follow !

Posted by
2501 posts

I agree with writing your report in something like Word or Google Docs, saving it, then copying it and adding it to new posts as you develop your report.

With Word or Google Docs, you can dictate—you don't even have to type.

Posted by
8340 posts

BostonPhil. So glad you are home. So sorry about your pain. Since budget is a big issue, let us help you in planning. I know you like Norwegian Cruise Line, but you might be able to save some money by exploring other cruise lines, especially as a solo traveler.

I am always hunting for bargains and there are some good ones out there. The trick is to take advantage of them when they come up. Example: there was a brief window in September where a solo traveler could book an 11 day cruise around Japan in April 2025 for $1900 including taxes/insurance and receive $1000 in onboard credit. I jumped on it. Same cruise, same cabin type today is listed at $3400 plus taxes/insurance with $100 on board credit.

The point is to be a bit flexible and willing to look beyond the usual. I know you love planning your trips. Maybe add bargain hunting your cruise to your trip planning skills.

Also, you need to take care of yourself, first and foremost. I save my money when traveling in the planning stage. Then, if something comes up where I need to spend something for my health and safety on the actual trip I go ahead and do so. I realize that I have resources beyond what you are coping with, but taking care of yourself is important.

Posted by
4077 posts

What I usually do is write my whole TR up in WORD or googledocs, then
add each post after I've got the whole thing done.

I was going to write the same time. I do it this way and it usually takes me about a week to get it done. Then I post it all at once. As far as figuring out how to write it "your way," you probably won't figure that out until you're writing it and discover your own style. For me, I tend to write it as a journal to myself and hope other people appreciate it. Tammy aka Diveloonie also had an excellent format for her recent TR about London and Bath.

So sorry about your knee, but I'm happy you're still travelling and sharing.

Posted by
3745 posts

About the writing of the trip report; I think it is a good idea to look at the format of reports others have done and take some tips from the structure of their reports.
For example, this recent report by Tammy is excellent.
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/london-bath-september-2023

The format is well-organized.
I would avoid the urge to post different bits of your trip in different threads.
It is confusing to readers and loses the spontaneity of the all-in-one-column report.

I think it is important to play up the bits of your trip you enjoyed the most.
What were your favorite things/experiences/sights?
Which were your favorite meals?

I am very sorry your knee was and is causing you pain!
Also sorry your budget on this trip did not allow you to take a taxi sometimes.
I hope that if you do have the knee replacement surgery it will make your future trips much more enjoyable.

Posted by
626 posts

Awww I'm just so sorry you were in pain on your trip. I know how much you were looking forward to it & planning on meeting some old friends, so I hope that went well? I really liked what @Carol now retired said about scouting out deals & then jumping on them when they happen. Hopefully we will see & hear about your next adventure one day soon.

Posted by
32699 posts

thanks for continuing to remember us.

I actually think that your style and content in your various threads once you headed for the Austin airport was pretty darn good.

Maybe you could go back and copy and paste some of those which would give you a good set of bones to work on.

I know about knees, ever since I was in high school and damaged both knees and an ankle. No surgery in those days.

I look forward to this thread growing and growing, like little early spring shoots turning into beautiful flowers.

Posted by
2427 posts

I have been following your posts. I am so sorry about your knee affecting your trip. Please get that taken care of asap. Total knee replacement is not a fun thing to go through but it is life changing. I wish I had mine done sooner. And be sure to do all the physical therapy afterwards. It makes a big difference in getting back to a fully functioning knee. I look forward to your trip report.

Posted by
1916 posts

I am back to using Voltaren and it is already helping with the bum knee. I wish that I had taken it on my trip. I did buy a topical in Portugal but it provided little relief although some and icing also helped.

Thanks for all the tips about writing a Trip Report. I will read and try to use what i can.

I like the idea of writing about the highlights and that which I especially liked but I also plan on writing about the disappointments.

Getting through customs and security at Heathrow was so easy that I was very surprised when i found myself at the Elizabeth Line. I actually asked someone "am I through" ie haver I gone through immigration and security?

There was a lot of staff helping visitors at the machines before entering the Elizabeth Line and I bought my first Oyster Card.

People were very friendly and helpful and before I knew it I was on the Elizabeth Line

I was sort of expecting something more elaborate given the name. I expected some plush train like the Czars used to ride on as well as gold trimmed pictures of Queen Elizabeth but not to be. I remember thinking "all it is is a train" but it was a pleasant train and a nice ride to Paddington Station.

Thanks to the kindness of others, I foind my way to Hotel 63 with very little trouble. And I will review Hotel 63 under Hotel reviews.

As i have said many times, I am a bird watcher. I love nature and wildlife.

And I was in the perfect spot for bird watching, nature and wildlife. My hotel was right across the street from Kensington Gardens

Almost immediately, I was across the street and would be across the street about four more times before heading to Southampton.

I loved Kensington Gardens. I loved the Serpentine. I loved the birds, and the ducks and the wildlife. They were beautiful. it was beautiful

London was having unusually nice weather for October and all kinds of people were out and about and having a wonderful time. Everyone ws smiling and so friendly.

Did not get to most of the museums that I hoped to but did get to V&A as well as the National Gallery. Loved both. Loved the many places to sit. Decent cafeterias at both locations.

Two highlights of my trip to London was reuniting with an old friend whom I had not seen since the 1960's and meeting a cousin for the first time. We share the same great grandfather.

My friend walked me all over London and I saw much more than I might have if I had been on my own. We took the bus and we took the tube as well. We walked to and about the theater district, the West End, Big Ben, the bridges, Picadully Circus, Old Bond Street.

She said that she enjoyed seeing London through my eyes.

Really enjoyed Old Bond Street even though everything was out of budget.

Had a long list of all that I wanted to see before leaving home but was forced to get more realistic once in London. Had to substitute. Would have loved to get to Tate London but chose V&A becaue it was easier for me to walk to V&A than attempt the tube to Tate London.

There is so much to see and do that if you can not get to one place, there is always another that is just as good.

London is a fabulous city.

Posted by
557 posts

I’m so glad you loved your visit to London other than the pain with your knee. I have never been there but with good weather, meeting your cousin, seeing your friend and all those wonderful sights, I bet it was a great time. Looking forward to more of your report. Thank you!

Posted by
8642 posts

Glad you enjoyed my favorite city on the planet.

As you discovered lots to see and do.

Waiting to read your comments about 63 Bayswater.

Posted by
1916 posts

Luv2Travel

London is really an incredible city. Somewhat like NYC or any of the other great cities of the world. There is so much to see and do that you almost certainly will not be able to see and do it all unless you spend a full year there.

I suggest that you put it on your list of must do's.

Posted by
1916 posts

and Claudia, I can see why London is your very favorite city on the planet. It is a great place and I am glad that I got the opportunity to spend time with London. I would love to go back one day and spend a full week in London seeing some of the things on my list that I could not get to this time.

Posted by
1916 posts

Just to add a little more about the birds, the ducks and swans at Kensington Gardens.

They are very well cared for and they look really happy. They are friendly and at some points, there are so many of them that I felt like it must be some kind of breeding ground. They are beautiful and there are many different kinds which seem to tolerate one another, maybe even like one another.

I especially remember small black ducks with white faces like the face of a possum. There were many Mallards and while we have Mallards on Lady Bird Lake in Austin, the Mallards in Kensington Gardens were much larger, fatter and friendlier.

When walking with my friend, I stopped to take so many pictures of the aquatic life that she asked me, "don't they have birds in Texas"

Posted by
5674 posts

The thing about the Elizabeth Line is that it was always going to be called the more prosaic Crossrail. It was quite a late change (in 2016) to name it the Elizabeth Line. Ultimately it is just mass transit. It was never going to be like the metros in St Petersburg and (especially) Moscow- which are both significantly closer to your picture of how the Elizabeth Line might have been- in terms of their many wonderful stations.
But on Crossrail/Elizabeth line, there are many features about the stations which makes each very individual and worthy of exploration. A lot of work and thought went into that. But its the kind of detail the average commuter or tourist doesn't really notice, unlike the over the top Moscow metro- a system I love and have explored extensively.

Just as the Jubilee line (named after the Queen's Silver Jubilee) was intended to be the Fleet Line (after the now underground River Fleet in the City of London, not after a fleet of ships).

I was so pleased that your time in London was so good for you, and that you were able to meet your cousin and your friend while you were there.

Posted by
1280 posts

“ Getting through customs and security at Heathrow was so easy that I was very surprised when i found myself at the Elizabeth Line. I actually asked someone "am I through" ie haver I gone through immigration and security?”

There is no security to go thru upon arrival. So no, you didn’t go thru security. You did go thru passport control.

Posted by
1916 posts

Well, I guess that it is time to move on. I could never want to be accused of getting boring

After almost a week in London, it was time to go. I was going to Southampton.

being stubborn, I felt that i could walk from Hotel 63 to Victoria Bus Station. It looked so close on google maps and it did say something about talking 40 minutes to walk.

I did do it but there were almost a few times that I came c;lose to crying. It possibly took me about two hours but still got to National Express with plenty of time to spare and even to eat

The walk was very pretty and at times extremely pretty. I really liked the area around Victoria Station and if I should come back to London might like to look for a hotel near Victoria Station.

At National; Express, I finally ate at A Pret. Got a good salad at a good price and regretted that I did not choose Pret more often in London. I sure liked Pret.

I do not recall when the weather changed but I have said that we had unusually nice weather most of the days that i was in London but the weather was to turn and we would now begin to have cold and rainy weather for most of the rest of my trip. Sometimes it poured. Sometimes it was off and on. Sometimes it was a very cold rain and other times a warmer rain. But this was to continue until the day that I left Lisbon and it is continuing in Austin TX.

I felt like I was growing leaves.

National; Express Bus Station was definitely steps above Greyhound but still very crowded and not luxurious.

The bus was nicer than Greyhound but still not luxurious.

We had two very nice bus drivers but I have to mention what happened when we arrived at the National Express Bus Station in Southampton. I am planning on writing about this separately but feel that it is worth mentioning here.

We arrived at the bus station soon after 5 pm and it was pouring, a very cold rain. The manager of the bus station was trying to close. Some of us passengers stopped in to put on rain gear and she threw us out. She very rudely told us that whe was closing and to get out.

We asked her where the Ibis Budget and Novatel was. In a very rude manner she responded "How would I know? I live in London"

Excuse me but this is the manager of National Bus in Southampton and she does not lnow where Ibis Budget or Novatel is becaue she lives in London???????

And that was that.

She finished locking up the station and left with another employee.

There was myself and. a group who was trying to find the Ibis Budget and Novatel which were in the same area.

With the help of others, we eventually found out way to our respective hotels. It was not that easy. it is possible that if the weather was better and it was earlier we would have found it easier to find our hotels.

And I found the Ibis Budget very pleasant. Because of the weather I had to eat close by. I had a choice of McDonald's or TGIF Fridays. I chose the latter. I had a decent hamburger with fries but not exactly what I had wanted.

It was an easy walk from Ibis Budget to the port. Decent port and before I knew it, I was in the holding area waiting to board my ship.

And before I knew it, I was on the ship and before I knew it, we were sailing.

First port: Zee with an excursion to Brugess.

Posted by
8340 posts

I had a completely different experience at Southampton National Express Bus terminal. They opened 45 minutes early when they saw many people waiting outside. Everyone was treated with courtesy and respect. I wonder if the usual staff was just missing that day and the substitute from London was eager to get home after work.

You broke my heart with your description of your painful walk across London. 1.75 pounds would have been the cost on the bus.

Posted by
1916 posts

It was not the cost of the bus that caused me to walk.

I have always loved walking. I felt that I could do it. I wanted to see some of London that I had not yet seen. And I did do the latter.

And it was rush hour. I did not want to take up space on the bus with my luggage when people were trying to get to work

Re National Express. I do not know what to say about the rudeness of the manager. There was a whole group of us. One group was a multi generational family and then myself.

We were visitors and newcomers who were all going on a cruise.

Not a good impression of Southampton National Express.

Posted by
1916 posts

In thinking back, I want to remark on my walk through Hyde Park. on my way to Victoria Coach Station.

It was a beautiful walk through a canopy of trees as I was getting closer to exiting Hyde Park. Then I came to Wellington Arch which I found very impressive and an area that I found very majestic.

If I was not with my luggage, I would have wanted to explore more.

It made me realize how little I had actually seen of London and how much more I wish that i could have seen.

Posted by
5674 posts

If you had had more time you could have gone inside Wellington Arch (open 10 to 5, Wednesday to Sunday) and seen the exhibition- https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/wellington-arch/

National Express are slowly closing coach stations. I was at Newcastle Coach Station one time just after it had closed (I didn't know that) in torrential rain late at night. I was and still am surprised that a major city like Newcastle would have it's coach station de-staffed and a modern building abandoned. Very few external seats and the overhead canopy to the waiting area leaks like a sieve. Apparently the land is owned by Newcastle City Council- which they debate- but anyway rubbish clearance is at best spasmodic. It is a bit of a dump. I now wait in the railway station and go up to the Coach Station at the last minute if I have to use Newcastle.

It's a shame because the likes of their flagship Birmingham, Plymouth and Leeds stations are great- all open and staffed 24 hours a day. Manchester is an older station but open 24 hours and staffed, rather more serviceable than anything else.

Victoria CS has been there for many decades. It is valuable real estate and there are constant talks about what to do with it as it has been too small for the traffic for many years. It is actually owned by Transport for London- Nat Ex are just the tenants. NatEx would love to build a new one like the splendid Birmingham Digbeth, but there just isn't the land anywhere in central London- the rumbles are about building a new place at Wembley. Which of course is not exactly central. But rumbles, nothing concrete.

Posted by
1916 posts

isn31c

I was really awed by Wellington Arch and the area surrounding it.

Wish I could have explored more.

Wish that I might have the opportunity its to come back at least one more time but that may not be in the cards.

I think this might be one of the pluses of taking a hop on hop off bus around London. You see the different vicinities and can later go back to some that especially grab you.

Posted by
6274 posts

It was not the cost of the bus that caused me to walk. I have always loved walking. I felt that I could do it. I wanted to see some of London that I had not yet seen. And I did do the latter.

Phyllis, I totally get that. I have a tendency to overestimate my ability to walk megamiles in cities--and I don't have bad knees. So I do understand what you are talking about when you say that you want to walk and you want to see the city. That is understandable.

But you also have to think about your health and your ability to continue with the trip. For someone who has bad knees, a walk like that could put you out of capacity if you're not careful. And then you're laid up and missing out on the rest of the trip. Maybe next time, you could plan a walk but make plans to stop at a cafe along the way to rest. Google is very good for things like that. You just open up Google maps, type in "cafe (or coffee shop) near me" and it will show you places nearby.

Hopefully you will contact your doctor and get your surgery scheduled now that you are back, as I know you have another trip coming up next year. But regardless, people our age need to think about their health when traveling and be careful not to overdo the walking and sightseeing. None of us are getting any younger. 😉

Posted by
1916 posts

Mardee, thanks for your concern

I allowed myself plenty of time to walk from Hotel 63 to Victoria Coach.

I sat down a lot and I did appreciate the beauty of wherever I sat. Took some pictures.

Unfortunately my knee is bad. I have an appointment to see my primary care physician in December and will need to ask for a referral to an orthopedic surgeon. There are alternatives to surgery and maybe I might be a candidate for one of those alternatives. Just maybe

Yes, I have a cruise booked for next October. I have put down a rather large deposit which is not refundable but can be moved to book another cruise.

I may change to a simpler cruise for next Spring before my surgery if that is what I am going to need. If I need surgery, I am possibly going to be unable to do very much for months after surgery.

And there is some sort of time limit about using my credits or I end up losing them. I have to check on that.

I am icing my knee and gone back to using Voltaren. There is some relief from the pain. I did buy a topical in Lisbon and it helped a little but not enough.

As someone who loves walking (just like I love eating), I once walked 10 miles a day.

Posted by
1916 posts

Continuing On

The Ibis Budget was a short walk to the port. I remember it being a nice port and I boarded my ship easily enough.

I sailed the Norwegian Dawn which is one of the older ships and the smaller ones. It has been refurbished possibly more than once. Out of eight cruises, This was my second time on a smaller ship. Usually I sail the large ships because they offer studio cabins for the solo passenger but I got a good deal on a regular inside cabin. It was about twice as big as what i am used to.

I liked the ship. I liked the smallness. It had almost everything the bigger ships had but less so. There wers shops but less and smaller versions. There was plenty of entertainment but possibly not as lavish as the bigger ships.

There was no water park and no go go cars which I did not miss at all.

I ate solely at the Garden Cafe which is a buffet. If you have ever been to Texas, you might be familiar with Luby's and the Garden Cafe reminds me of Luby's. The Garden cafe is similar to any nice cafeteria. Plenty of options. Not everything is a win but you always find enough that is good.

Some guests were very unhappy with the ship. I met a mother and daughter who had only sailed Royal Caribbean previously and they really hated Norwegian. They kept comparing how much better RC was to NCL. There were others unhappy with the food and with this and with that.

But then most persons were happy with the food and the ship and the entertainment.

Fifty cabins took on water during the storm, some very severely, and needless to say, guests were not happy about this. While it was an Act of God, Norwegian Corporate had ordered the captain to sail into the storm and for many of us, it turned out to be one of the highlights of the cruise after it was all said and done.

I liked the smaller and the older ship. I would like to try another one of the the smaller ships if I can get a good deal ie no single or low single supplement.

To be continued

Posted by
8340 posts

A great place to look for solo supplement deals. One thing that I really appreciate is that they include port fees/taxes and mandatory gratuities in their final price so you really know what you are looking at on cost. I have found some great bargains here and then go to the cruise line and book.

https://www.cruiseplum.com/solo-supplement-deals

Posted by
6274 posts

Carol, I'm bookmarking that link for possible future use. Thanks for sharing it!

Posted by
1916 posts

Carol,

I checked out cruise plum and it looks interesting.

I will keep it in mind when I book my net cruise, assuming that I will be going on another cruise.

Posted by
1916 posts

As I write this, I find myself thinking about all that I missed rather than all that I have seen.

And I am reminded of a Meet & Greet on the ship. This is arranged through Roll Call on CruiseCritic. Before sailing, and even months before, one can go to cruise critic and join the roll call of your ship. You can get to know other persons who will be on your ship before the cruise.

Someone usually arranges activities which always includes. Meet & Greet on the ship. There are refreshments. The captain and other top staff attend

Well, one very well traveled couple arranged the Meet & Greet. I went. The husband was very upset, even to the point of being angry, because only about 15 or so persons attended the Meet & Greet while 30 - 35 had said that they would attend.

Instead of focusing on us who did attend, he focused on those who did not attend. Later I saw this couple in an elevator and they snubbed me. I guess I was someone thy had little interest in.

As I find myself focusing all that I missed rather than all I had seen, I remind myself of this man. Need to see things differently.

Posted by
5674 posts

I've seen about these Roll Calls on this forum, but have only encountered one once- and didn't really know how it had come about, as all meetings were unhosted by the ship.

I got the feeling that the line was not over impressed with having Cruise Critic on. They concentrated their efforts on their own loyalty club meet ups and on their own solo events.

But that time from what I saw and heard much the same thing happened, in that very few people turned up, and my impression of the fellow was, well, not very favourable. But then I have read Cruise Critic reviews of the ships I sail on (even of the same voyage), and often wondered if CC members and I have been on the same ships.

The line I would be sailing on now, they don't even have a section for on their Roll Call page (and don't for it's predecessor company either). Which kind of says it all.

Posted by
4077 posts

As I find myself focusing all that I missed rather than all I had
seen, I remind myself of this man. Need to see things differently.

It's early, but your latest comments may be my favourite on the Forum today. Ever since the pandemic and lockdowns started I began calling my Mom everyday on my way home from work, and one of the conversations earlier this week was about her regrets of what she didn't see on her travels. After retirement, she and her twin sister began 10 years of well-deserved travel together and I was living vicariously through them and their stories. Now as my wife and I start travelling more, my Mom is full of regrets of the things we're seeing but she didn't see. She marvels at how "brave" we are because she and her sister were too timid to venture out beyond the tour groups they were with. I keep having to remind her that she should have no regrets because she always came back from those trips so excited and full of stories.

By the way, I think you took some lemon and made lemonade regarding the storms you encountered while at sea and turned the memories into an adventure.

Posted by
52 posts

Boston phil7, Please continue your report of your trip! I wish that I had the courage to travel on my own as you do. My husband and I traveled together for 20 years.but now his health prevents it.

Posted by
13904 posts

"Instead of focusing on us who did attend, he focused on those who did not attend. Later I saw this couple in an elevator and they snubbed me. I guess I was someone thy had little interest in."

Yikes...not really the kind of people you want to hang out with anyway!

"As I find myself focusing all that I missed rather than all I had seen, I remind myself of this man. Need to see things differently."

Personal growth, no matter how old we are or how it comes to us, is always hard, lol!! I do keep a list of what I want to see on my next trip so that might work for a positive take on what you "missed". I think Rebecca and I both have a list so long for London that we will never complete it! I have one for Paris as well!

Thanks for taking the time to talk about your trip. I think for your ports you did day excursions thru the cruise line? How did that work out?

Posted by
1916 posts

Pam.

I am getting close to writing about individual ports and my excursions.

Hate to say this but there were a lot of disappointments and I will be explaining when I get into my report

Posted by
32699 posts

As I sit here with major storm Ciaran nearby with huge winds and water - again - I really look forward to the next installment of your trip - good, bad and ugly , tell it like it was.

Posted by
2710 posts

It's a little late to offer this suggestion about writing trip reports but maybe it will help others. I write my trip reports in word doc. When done and proof read, I paste it into a forum thread. Since it's usually long, I made an editable note asking people not to comment until I'm done so the trip report is together. When done I undo the edit note. Sometimes I'll add other thoughts or info. And try to thank people and answer questions.

I just started reading your trip report. I'm sorry about your knee. Pain is a bummer any time but on a trip it is awful. Budget woes are very understandable. Hubby and I mainly live on social security. The money in our savings and IRAs has to last the rest of our lives. We're getting to the age that health problems are in the back of our minds. One trip a year is all I can afford. By watching my budget and planning cheaper hotels, restaurants, etc., I manage to have an enjoyable trip.

I'll keep reading about your adventure and may add another comment or two. It's good to report both the good and bad as learning experiences.

Posted by
1916 posts

I am getting close to writing abut the ports ands my excursions but I first want to write something more about the guests on my cruise

Many of them had problems with legs, feet, backs etc. It was an all age crowd but like with many cruises, there was a large number of mid life and senior passengers.

And I got to talking to many of these passengers whi had problems with arthritis of the knees and other mobility issues.

Like myself, some to many had had an injection before leaving home but also like myself, the injection ddid not work and just like me, they were limping and obviously experiencing some pain.

So many persons on the ship were limping that i jokingly told someone that we should have a Limpers Support Group.

OK so now, I believe that I am ready to begin writing about my ports and my excursions.

BRUGES

The first port was Brussels / Bruges (Zeebrugge), Belgium. After a lot of research, I chose to do Bruges on my own. I got transportation to and from an area for buses. I think that i was given a map and the guide pointed the way to the center of the village. And that was that. The bus left us and we were on our own.

I followed other persons to a square in Bruges . I do not know if this was the center of Bruges or not.

There was no visitor information that i could see. I was there on a Sunday and maybe there was visitor information Monday thru Saturday but I did not see any this Sunday.

Bruges was very busy and there was no one to get any information from.

I did not see any signs to any of the sites or attractions such as the museums or churches.

Bruges was of course very quaint, beautiful, peaceful and interesting but I had expected different.

I did a lot of research and expected to find one large four corner square where everything was located. For instance, I expected a church to be over there and a museum over here. I thought that everything would be very obvious and simple to find.

I expected it would be easy to get information about where to go and what to do in Bruges but that was not so.

So I followed the crowds and the road to a monument in. square in Bruges. I sat around the monument andf I explored the area.

The monument was across from an Italian Restaurant, maybe a pizza place. A couple pf doors down was a place that sold linen. and novelties / collectibles. Across the street was a business that sold delicious home made chococlate candies.It was a large business and sold a lot of different kinds of chocolate

Anyone who has been to Bruges would probably recognize the area where I chose to hang out and explore.

My knee was a real problem and I was not able to walk a lot.

I went into the linen store for.a short while because I was unable to stand for very long. IAnd the linen was beautiful;. I looked at the collectibles. Many were xmas decorations. I loved the collectibles. I once bought anfd sold as a side gig so i am familiar with collectibles and xmas collectibles.

Went to the chocolate shop and bought several pieces of chocolate candy and it was really delicious.

Walked around a bit. Discovered the very old Convent and explored the grounds and the church.

I loved and I mean loved all the birds and the ducks.

I ate at a restaurant. I had heard that Belgium was known for fries and waffles so i ordered some fries and waffles. The fries were good but nothing special. I was disappointed with the waffle. I was asked what I wanted on it and I said strawberry sauce. There were a lot of people behind me and I did not know what to order. The waffle was not very good. i just did not know what to order.

I did not know what to do or where to go. I am not even certain of what I did do or what I saw.

I was expecting visitor information or signage.

And my knee really bothered me.

to be continued

Posted by
2329 posts

Later I saw this couple in an elevator and they snubbed me. I guess I was someone thy had little interest in."

What jerks. I can't imagine this happening with RS people 🙂

Posted by
1280 posts

“ I did not know what to do or where to go. I am not even certain of what I did do or what I saw.
I was expecting visitor information or signage.”

I’m sorry but I just don’t understand this. You received a lot of help on this forum with regards to your trip to Bruges. People told you the exact spot where the bus would drop you off, gave you tips about what to see, where to eat, where to get good chocolate, which stand to buy the famous Belgian fries from etc etc. You said you had watched videos about Bruges and that you felt really prepared. And then this?
What happened? Did you forget to bring your notes? If so, why didn’t you use your map? Why didn’t you ask people for help to find a site you wanted to see? Everyone in Bruges speaks English and if they don’t, just ask the next person.
By the way, there are signs pointing visitors to the main sights everywhere. The signs are brown with white letters.
The tourist information is located right at the station where the bus dropped you off, it’s open every day of the week. Another tourist information center is located right in the very center of Bruges at the Market Square, also open every day of the week.
I’m really sorry your day in Bruges was such a disappointment. If only you asked the nice people of Bruges for help.

Posted by
6274 posts

Bostonphil, I have to agree with Dutch_Traveler. I don't think you did your homework (or you did and forgot to bring your notes). Do you not know how to use a map (or Google maps)? That's how I find everything. And the night before, I look at the map and figure out what I want to see and where it is.

I feel bad for you but I think you have no one to blame but yourself. You received a LOT of good advice on this forum, but evidently did not bring it along with you. I'm not sure how you could have missed everything. As was noted above, there are plenty of signs, and the first thing you should have done was have the address of the TIC, which it sounds like you did not do.

I think you did a good job of asking for information before your trip, but you just didn't follow up with it. You can't just collect all the information and expect to remember it all. My memory is as crappy as all get-out, so I always write and re-write everything down that I want to see. I also save the places in Google maps so that I can always find them (which is a VERY handy feature). And your phone is a great place to store notes about sightseeing and public transportation.

There are many people here (including myself) who would be happy to give you a tutorial on how to organize your day trips, mark/save places on maps (both paper and digital) and make sure you don't miss anything. It's a shame because there are some beautiful sights in Bruges to see. And I love the food, but again you have do your research and make a note of places to eat and what kinds of food to eat.

Posted by
1916 posts

I agree. I was not prepared for Bruges.

I had no notes. I followed persons ahead of me. The bus driver or guide gave us information to go to the the left, etc and I followed others.

The bus driver / guide did not say anything about visitor information.

I did not find the map very helpful. I am not good with maps

After the fact when I was waiting on a bench for the bus to take us back to the ship, I noticed a place to buy coffee and snacks as well as toilets across the way. It occurred to me that that was where I could get visitor information but I never saw anything about visitor information. And I never saw any signs. I saw street signs only.

I have a prayer card from the convent and It is Begijnhof-Brugge. I lit a candle and said a prayer for my knee. No miracles.

The above was a very beautiful place. Grounds were beautiful and church was beautiful.

I loved the ducks and birds. I loved the canals . And I loved the village.

My expectations were different from reality.

Persons on this forum were most helpful with information and the videos that I watched were also very helpful but I did not think about taking notes. I thought that everything would be very available. I possibly also expected that persons on my bus would be more sociable and inclusive.

On the way back to the bus, I took a fall. This was on the bridge. Because my knee hurt so much, I was not lifting my foot high enough and it caught under something. I embarrassingly enough took a fall but fortunately I was walking with someone from the ship. He helped me get up and helped me walk to a bench where I could sit until the bus came. This was the area where there was a place selling coffee and snacks with another building that had toilets across the way.

I was very early because I was afraid of getting lost and missing the bus.

I sat next to a woman who was on a. cruise also but it may have been a different ship. She had been on a a guided excursion but had some health issues that caused her to not be able to keep up with the group. So she was waiting for her group to return from the excursion. She told me that she had gone on a cruise with a friend as a favor and was afraid that she would not be able to keep up with a group during excursions. And that is just what happened. She said that she would probably just stay on the ship at ports rather than attempt any more excursions because she felt that she would always fall behind
and continue to have problems keeping up with a group.

It would be helpful if there were walking excursions for persons who for whatever reasons are slow or slower. Do tour guides walk very fast or is it just that I have gotten so slow?

Posted by
1916 posts

Thanks to all of you who are reading my trip report and offering feedback.

I am not an organized person. I do not take notes. I always expect everything to just work out but reality often lets me down.

I was very grateful for all the help persons on forum gave me and I read the information but just assumed it would all be so readily available.

I do not believe that Bruges on Your Own was the right excursion for me. Maybe I should have tried a guided tour but I do not think I could have kept up with the group. There were other Bruges excursions offered by NCL including one with a canal ride.

Nevertheless I saw a beautiful village. I ate some very delicious chocolate. Saw some beautiful lace and beautiful Xmas collectibles. Saw the canals and the nature.

Posted by
2181 posts

I know on our Viking river cruise last May that there was a group for people who wished for/needed a slower pace for shore excursions. I am a little surprised that your cruise didn’t divide up participants so that those with mobility issues would have a positive experience, unless this was not a cruise sponsored activity. I am so sorry that your Bruges visit did not live up to your expectations. It is a fascinating town, which is why it gets so crowded. I am sure many of us recognize the convent that you did find and I happy you did find that.

Posted by
8340 posts

I do appreciate you sharing your honest report of your trip and your challenges and accomplishments while traveling.
I think you under-estimate your ability to learn new skills. If you use Google Maps or City Mapper, you can get anywhere efficiently. Saying "some people don't like apps" or " I am not good with maps" means that you eliminate important sources of information that could make your trip easier. I know you could learn to use these tools.

I have never traveled on Norwegian Cruise Lines, but I do know that other cruise lines have special shore excursions specifically designed for individuals with limited mobility. I think those may be the type of excursions you will want to aim for until fully recovered on your knee replacement.

These are all tutorials on City Mapper
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44jHE_BQVxE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46FXgA6ReAE

Posted by
1916 posts

Patty & Carol

NCL does offer some excursions for mobility impaired guests but from what I have read, they are mostly ones where you stay in the bus and get out just to take pictures.

The excursions are labeled :one, two or three. One is for those who have mobility issues although anyone can take it with three being the most challenging. Two is in the middle but till can be challenging and NCL tells you this.

I a,m not aware of NCL offering guided walking tours for those who are slower.

Patty

Viking is considered to be one of the top of the line cruise companies. The ships are smaller. Guests pay more and sometime a lot more for the cruise but guests get white glove treatment. Guests get more.

Posted by
1916 posts

Carol

I know that you love City Mapper. I did learn to use it and was going to use it for Lisbon but then got a message that it was not available yet in Lisbon

I will read the tutorials soon. Promise (for the next trip)

Posted by
2710 posts

bostonphil7, to make Google maps easy to use, I save all the points I want to see, where I am staying, train/tram/bus stops. I can then easily find a walking route. I get lost a lot so this really helps me. I also ask a lot of directions from shops. Everyone has always been helpful.
My system does take a little preplanning but now that I travel solo I need to be organized.

I’m enjoying your trip report. I’m sorry some things and people weren’t as you thought. I found that being the only solo person within a group can be lonely at times. So I plan my activities and have met some very interesting people.

Posted by
4822 posts

I have to agree sith some of the previous posters. It seems that all of the excellent information you received before this trip was all for naught. If you are going to travel solo to international destinations you MUST be able to do it independently. Which means knowing IN ADVANCE how to get around in each of those places. Know how to use a map (digital or paper) and always have it with you. Have a plan. Don't just count on everything being laid out before you with billboard sized signs pointing you wherever it is you might want to go.

And know your limitations! I'm sure this knee problem didn't spring up over night. If you can't walk a couple of kilometers without pain, then don't take a walking excursion. If you can't learn to read a map or plan a day trip in advance, then don't take excursions that are "on your own", because all they do is get you there and back to the ship. The rest of the time you are, as the name implies, on your own,.

Walking tours for slow walkers? Exactly how slow would be slow enough? How far would be too far? Listen, I get it. I limped around for far too many years on bad knees before getting my replacements. But when travelling, we based our daily activities on those limitations to avoid just those disappointments you have faced with walking distances.

Posted by
2073 posts

So far it sounds like you still had a good time in spite of your knee and some mishaps! I once walked all over Amsterdam and London with a painful knee. Every step I took made me want to go home. I have no idea what caused it but it took eight months and several medical tests before it went away. Pain can change our expectations.

Posted by
1916 posts

Diane

Yes, pain is a terrible thing. You can be in the most beautiful place in the world with everything going right but pain in your knee and down your leg is still going to affect your experience.

As said, I had an injection before leaving home that was supposed to mask the pain but it did not work.

I did ice my knee and that helped a little.

Fortunately I could sit with no pain so I did spend a lot of time sitting but st times I could also walk with little or no pain while other times, the pain was more extreme.

And yes, I still had. a good time. I am glad for the trip and the good people that I did meet and the places that i saw even if some did not live up to my expectations. The problem was never the place. The problem was my expectations.

Posted by
1916 posts

CJean

yes, I have had arthritis of the knee for some time but the pain has been bad for maybe two years now.
I had an injection before leaving home that was supposed to mask the pain but it did not work.

I did ice the knee. I took OTC meds for the arthritis and I bought a topical in Lisbon. All of tjhese helped some but not very much. I think the ice helped the most.

I did a lot of research before my cruise, a lot. I do not feel that i wasted anyone's time including my own.. I read everything sent me and learned about every place that i visited before going on my cruise. I took mental notes. For instance I found out that Belgium is known for fries, waffles. lace, xmas decorations and chocolate. I would not have known these things if I had not done my research.

I heard about the very old Convent because of my research. And I visited the grounds and the church. After getting home, I did sme more research about this Convent

I did not even consider taking notes on paper. And I am not a well organized person. That's just the way that it is. I take a vacation just like I live -- My Way.

I am writing out my trip report for Bruges which includes that things did not always go well or as I wished. I made mistakes but learned from my mistakes.

I do take a notebook with me and I have the name and address of my hotel with directions to my hotel in my notebook.

I

Posted by
1916 posts

Tammy and Others

It never occurred to me to make physical notes. I did make mental notes.

I read everything that was sent to me and learned from what was said.

I am not an organized person and that is how it is. I am not well organized I should say and at 78 years old, I probably am not going to change anytime soon.

I had expectations that were different than reality. That is a learning experience also.

For my other ports, I did take guided tours. In Santiago, I was on my own again but had less difficulty than I did with Bruges.

Posted by
5674 posts

One thing I am surprised at, because I am used to it happening, is that the cruise line did not make paper maps of each port available on board on the day of arrival. Did you ask guest services or the shore excursion desk about that?
And/or that maps were not available in the terminal building at the port of Zeebrugge.

Also, quite frankly, if you are paying an arm and a leg for these 'on your own' transfers [I know it was little actual cost because of 'Free at Sea' but the ticket price is high] that maps were not made available on the bus and/or that when the coach arrived at Bruges, no-one pointed out where the Information Office was and/or said something like "that way into town".

Also that you didn't use your Free at Sea internet allowance to do last minute checking up on what had been said on the forum.

To me irrespective of other merits or demerits of NCL or any other line that is the level of detail which costs the line almost nothing, but makes all the difference. It is that kind of thing which ultimately determines to me whether a line is worth sailing with.

Posted by
1916 posts

isn31c

I did not pay much for the transfers because I took a $50 off of port excursion amenity and I also got a discount based on the many cruises that I have taken. I do not recall what my Bruges on Your Own cost but it was very little. Most definitely it was not an arm and a leg

There is a cruise excursion desk on the ship but I never thought of seeing what information might be available for the different ports. It tends to be very busy and crowded and intense especially on the first couple of days.

I took free wi fi as another amenity but it was only a few hours and it was not enough to do any searching. I could only use it for some emails and some picture posting and after a few days, I had to buy more internet but got a decent deal on unlimited.

When we got to Bruges, the tour or bus guide did point us to the center of town. We were told straight ahead, to the left, etc etc. Nothing was said about any visitor information.

I believe that we were given maps but if so, I did not find it helpful.

As for the port terminal. you sit in the Stardust Theater on the ship until your goup is called and then you move fast rushing out and keep going until you go through the trminal, exit it and head to your coach. There is some mania and chaos and no time to look around the terminal.

Posted by
1280 posts

“ One thing I am surprised at, because I am used to it happening, is that the cruise line did not make paper maps of each port available on board on the day of arrival. ”

The OP was given a map when she left the bus and the direction of the city center was pointed out to her. That’s pretty much what you should expect from an excursion called Bruges on your own.
But even if she wasn’t given a map, she could very easily have asked for directions. Pretty much everyone in Bruges speaks English and if one asks nicely no one will refuse to help.
Another option would have been to use Google maps or City Mapper which works both in Bruges and Lisbon.

Posted by
1916 posts

ROUEN

And so I am now ready to continue writing about my next port and my next cruise excursion which will be Rouen.

The day after Bruges was a day at sea and I have written about the Meet and Greet that was organized thru cruise critic.

On the third day, we arrived at Le Harve. I had chosen to take an excursion to Rouen. I can no longer remember how long the bus ride was from the port to Rouen or how pretty it might be.

This excursion was a guided tour with some free time but it was a short excursion about 5 hours total including the coming and the going.

I do not know if the tour guide walked fast or if I was just very slow because of my knee and leg but I was always behind and trying to catch up.

We walked to Notre Dame, a magnificent Cathedral. The tour guide gave us some information about the Cathedral but I was forced to find a place to sit because of my knee and was unable to hear much of what he was saying. He was standing as well as the rest of the tour group.

But then after ending his spiel, he said "as you can see the doors to the Cathedral are shut and that is because it is a Monday. The Cathedral is closed on Mondays" but then he assured us that it was magnificent inside and a shame that we could not go in.

This was a really big disappointment as this cathedral was to be one of the highlights of the excursion and almost certainly we we would have spent some time inside.

Later when speaking to other guests we agreed that we wish we had been told that the cathedral was going to be closed so that we might decide if we wanted to take another excursion You might remember that I stressed about Rouen or Honfleur when deciding upon a shore excursion. and settled upon Rouen.

After The Cathedral, we walked towards the clock and a square where we saw and talked about the timber houses

Then it was a short walk to the spot where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. Our guide gave us some information and then told us we were now on our own time and would meet back at Notre Dame Cathedral to walk back to the bus. as a group

There was a modern shrine built in memory and honor of St Joan. I walked into the shirine and walked around. I sat for a little while and reflected. There was a lot of glass and it was very light and airy It was a very open place.

Later our guide asked me if I liked the shrine. i did but he dd not being so modern. I did think that it was a little strange that the shrine was so modern and that a shrine more reflective of the time period was not built.

We did not have a lot of time in Rouen. After visiting the spot where St Joan was executed and the shrine built to honor her, I headed back to Notre Dame Catheral.

I stopped to buy a sandwich at one of the many vendors along with a donut. The sandwich was delicious and the donut was especially delicious. The sandwich was not what we would call a submarine but we might call it a hoagie. I remember having read about the sandwiches and the donuts on this forum. I love hoagies and I love donuts so I really enjoyed my food.

I walked over to Notre Dame Cathedral and found a comfortable place to sit and eat my food.

A mother and daughter on my excursion walked over to sit with me. They are the two who hated everything about Norwegian while comparing it to Royal Caribbean.

We had had a very long walk from the ship to the coach and the mother and daughter told me that Royal Caribbean would have had a shuttle service.

We all agreed that NCL should have offered a shuttle service from the port to the coach..

Other guests arrived and so did the tour guide. Of course we had to wait for the one passenger who was late because she had to pay for whatever she had bought. There is always that one or two who holds everything up.

The tour guide had to go looking for her eventually finding her and we walked back to the coach.

Posted by
4077 posts

I've only sailed NCL and Princess in the past and my biggest frustration with NCL has always been the inconsistency of the experience. When they're good, they can be really good; the best ship I've been on was an NCL ship, the best meal was on NCL. But when they're bad they're bad; the worst ship I've been on was NCL, the worst meal was on NCL, and the worst customer experiences were on NCL. On Princess my experience has always been a consistent "Very Good" with none of the roller coaster experiences with the other.

Posted by
4299 posts

bostonphil7, I'm so sorry your shots didn't work-I'm a fan of cortisone shots. For future reference, I also take plenty of Tylenol and Tylenol PM because the paracetamol that's acetominophen's name in Europe for some reason(I know it doesn't make sense) does not work as well for me.

I'm sure by now you have figured out that many of us on this forum are extreme overplanners. Most of us would agree that this habit increases our ability to enjoy our trips. For example, knowing when sights are open and getting advance tickets is very necessary. You and I both need to work on our use of maps-I spent a lot of time wandering around Kensington looking for the V&A when the closest Tube station was closed and Google Maps didn't work well. It was quite tiring and time-consuming.

Have you looked at Gate 1 Tours? Their prices attract a lot of teachers and several of us on this forum have really enjoyed their tours.

Posted by
6274 posts

But then after ending his spiel, he said "as you can see the doors to the Cathedral are shut and that is because it is a Monday. The Cathedral is closed on Mondays" but then he assured us that it was magnificent inside and a shame that we could not go in. This was a really big disappointment as this cathedral was to be one of the highlights of the excursion and almost certainly we we would have spent some time inside.

The Cathedral is not closed on Mondays. If you would have looked at the website, you would have seen that it is open from 2-6 pm on Mondays. I don't know why you were told it was closed (maybe he was referring to the time you were there) but if you would have just looked up the cathedral online, you would have seen the schedule. It took me about 60 seconds this morning to find that information.

I agree with Tammy and CJean. You gathered SO much information about all these places online, you have a computer to do more research on your own, and you keep telling us that you spend a year "working" on each trip. I guess I'm confused because I don't see the results of any of that work. All I see are complaints about a lack of information that could so easily have been avoided. I am sorry about your knee and the pain you are feeling, but if I was in that much pain, I would definitely rethink my travel plans and especially how I would get around on those trips.

If you can't organize yourself and take the time to do research on a trip, then I agree that maybe you should think about a tour for those who are mobility challenged. Let others do the work you don't want to do. There are many unorganized people who do not like planning and want others to do the work. There is nothing wrong with that. I like planning my own trips because I'm good at it. If I wasn't, I wouldn't do it. You should definitely look into some tours that would do all the planning for you.

Posted by
1916 posts

Mardee

Our excursion was from about 7:30 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m..

So the Cathedral was closed when we were there.

The tour guide told us that it was closed on Monday. I had no reason to doubt him and what he was telling us.

I do spend about. a year planning my once a year cruise. That includes flights, hotels pre and post cruise, the communities pre and post cruise and my excursions.

It is a lot of work. I enjoy doing it but I must be honest. If it was not a perfect experience, I am going to tell it like it is. If there are disappointments, I am going to mention the disappointments and what did not go right.

.

Posted by
1916 posts

Hi Cala

I have Diabetes II and am in Stage Two kidney failure which my doctor tells me is normal for someone in my age group with diabetes. Nothing to seriously worry about Yet.

I need to be careful about OTC meds because that can cause stress on the kidneys and I definitely do not want that. I did bring Tylenol Arthritis with me but was very cautious and it did not seem to do a. lot of good.

I wish that I had brought my Voltaren with me but thought that the shot would work. I am using Voltaren again and it is helping but one needs to be careful with it.

Yes, I can see that there are many persons on this site who are Type A plus. I am type B, maybe even C.

I am familiar with Gate 1 and it gets good reviews.

But given my age and my remaining savings, I do not have that many more trips left. I will probably stick with NCL until the end, whether it be my age or my money.

I spend about a whole year planning my trip but. a lot of situations come up that I was not prepared for and I am honest about writing about them. I do not fake anything. If something did not work like I wanted or expected, I am going to say it.

This is my first trip report.

I took a Baltic Cruise in 2019 and now this one. These are my two most adventurous cruises. The others were shorter, simpler, and I left and returned from the same U S port. This recent cruise was only my second time in Europe.

I do google maps at home. I somehow found my way to V&A from Hotel 63 and I eventually found my way to Victoria Coach from Hotel 63. I do not recall if I used google maps at all but I know that I had to ask directions several times and people were most glad to help.

I wish that I were better with maps and directions but I am not.

.

Posted by
6274 posts

My point was that if you would have looked up the hours of the Cathedral ahead of time, you would have known it was closed and maybe made other plans. You mentioned that you were torn being Rouen and Honfleur. So maybe Honfleur would have been a better choice. But that only works if you plan ahead.

If there are disappointments, I am going to mention the disappointments and what did not go right.

You are free to write what you want. But again, my point is that many of these disappointments you mention are because you did not keep up with the research. You said that you did not write down the help you received here on the forum, and just kept it in your head (where it obviously did not stay). I'm really not trying to be mean here, and I feel bad that you did not have the trip you wanted. But Ii still believe that most of your disappointments could have been easily avoided with a little research and planning. And if, as you say, you are not able to research or plan, then take a tour or hire a guide. There is a saying "The Lord (or whatever deity you like) helps those who help themselves."

Posted by
1280 posts

“ If it was not a perfect experience, I am going to tell it like it is. If there are disappointments, I am going to mention the disappointments and what did not go right.”

No one here is saying that you shouldn’t mention your disappointments. What people are saying is that a lot of your disappointments could have been easily avoided. You asked a lot of questions and received lots of very valuable information from lots of posters. But now we learn that you didn’t write any of it down. So why did you even ask these questions in the first place?
You said you found the map you were given by the cruise company to be unhelpful. Why didn’t you make sure you were prepared with a print of a map highlighting the main sights? Or why didn’t you use Google maps or City Mapper?
You complain that there are no signs in Bruges, when in reality there are signs all over the place directing visitors to the main sights.
You complain there wasn’t a tourist information center in Bruges, when in reality there are 2; one right where the bus dropped you off and the other one right in the middle of the market square. Both are open 7 days on the week, including Sunday.
You complain about people on the bus not being socialble, but how socialble were you yourself when you didn’t even reach out to others to help you find the market square?

Apart from the storm that your cruise had to deal with, all your disappointments could have been easily avoided by doing research. Something you claim you did for one whole year, but have very little to show for.

Again, there is nothing wrong with sharing your disappointments. There however is something wrong with seeking blame outside yourself for things that were your own fault.
I understand that my words can come across as hard or direct. But given the huge amount of advice and help you received here, I just don’t think it’s fair that you seek to blame others for your own lack of preparation.

Posted by
1916 posts

Dutch_Traveler

I am not blaming others for anything that went wrong or did not go right.and I am not blaming myself either.

I do not see myself as complaining. I see myself as reporting my experiences on the trip that I just took.

I asked a lot of questions from forum to get the information that I needed or wanted to plan and have a wonderful trip. I appreciated all the help that I got from the forum and I used some of the information even if I did not write it down.

It was a good trip but it had its ups and downs. i am honest about my travel experiences jiust like I am about everything else.

Maybe my experiences might help someone else not do what I did.

It appears that I am not reporting what some members want me to say. I am telling the truth about my trip.

Posted by
1916 posts

Mardee

I signed up for an excursion titled "Historic Rouen" offered by Norwegian Cruise Line. I did not know what i was going to be seeing or not seeing. I was not aware that there was a magnificent cathedral that was supposed to be part of this excursion but was not open when we were there (even though the tour guide told us that the cathedral was closed on Monday.)

There was no reason for me to look up the hours of this cathedral.

As for taking notes, it never occurred to me to take notes for a vacation.

I am not a type A personality. I am type B or maybe even C.

Posted by
13904 posts

"I do not know if the tour guide walked fast or if I was just very slow because of my knee and leg but I was always behind and trying to catch up."

One of the best pieces of advice I've ever gotten from a Rick Steves tour guide was after others in the group complained he was walking too fast. He said the further back in the pack you are the more you have to hustle to keep up. He said if you are having a problem keeping up, stay right with me. I am walking a moderate pace and if you are right with me you will not struggle. He was 100% correct. (Thank you Dimitri Rigas!!)

Posted by
1280 posts

What people take issue with, is that you aren’t telling the truth and that you are blaming others.

You falsely claim there was no tourist information center in Bruges. There are 2, open all day of the week.
You blame the cruise company for not providing you with a helpful map. You don’t blame yourself for not being prepared and for not using Google Maps.
You falsely claim there is no signage in Bruges. You don’t blame yourself for not knowing where you had to go.
You complain there was no one to ask information from in Bruges. You don’t blame yourself for not opening your mouth to ask someone for directions.

I’m going to stop responding to you now, because I feel I’m not getting anywhere.
I wanted to stop responding to you much earlier. The only reason I’m still responding is because you paint a very unjust and incorrect image of Bruges and its lovely inhabitants and because I feel the way you write things down is really unfair to all the people that tried to help you prepare your trip and who assisted you during your trip.

Posted by
5674 posts

You say above that-

I signed up for an excursion titled "Historic Rouen" offered by Norwegian Cruise Line. I did not know what i was going to be seeing or not seeing. I was not aware that there was a magnificent cathedral that was supposed to be part of this excursion but was not open when we were there (even though the tour guide told us that the cathedral was closed on Monday.). There was no reason for me to look up the hours of this cathedral.

I'm sorry, but that is not factual. I am equally sorry to be so blunt. I quote from the NCL Tour Description in full-

Discover a skyline of towers and spires in Rouen, the capital of Higher Normandy, and its importance stemming from Roman times. The alignment of its two main streets – Rue du Gros Horloge and Rue des Carmes – still reflects the layout of the early city. With its heritage of fine buildings and many museums, the city offers its visitors a wealth of artistic delights.
Follow your guide through the historical part of the city. See the Old Market Place where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431 and the modern Joan of Arc Church completed in 1979. Other sites you’ll find during your walking tour are the Gros Horloge Street with its belfry and a sculpted archway on which rests a Renaissance lodge decorated with clock faces that still indicate the time of the day, the phases of the moon and the days of the week. Discover the Law Courts, the seat of Normandy’s Parliament and the cathedral, made famous by Claude Monet’s paintings of its façade.

So you knew about the Cathedral. Whatever personality type someone is it would be reasonable planning to look up the opening hours for each of those places. That is what I would do as a matter of routine, as would many, if not most, of the regular posters on here.
The word 'discover' is repeatedly used. This did NOT, in cruise language, imply that you were ever going to go inside the Cathedral, or the Law Courts or the Parliament.

I can't remember now whether that distinction of language was pointed out at the time- almost certainly it was.

Posted by
1916 posts

isn31c

I read the description. Did not absorb it. Did not memorize it.

Did not even think about it after i booked it. I moved on. I trusted NCL that it was going to be a wonderful experience

I would not have even thought of going to the sites and checking on the hours opened. I was trusting in NCL to do it for me. I am paying money to take this excursion from companies that NCL contracts with.

NCL does say something somewhere about contracting with the best. Those are not exact words but that is the idea.

Posted by
8340 posts

I admit to feeling frustrated at times as well. However, I am glad the OP is still traveling at 78. I am glad that she felt enough a part of the forum to share her trip report from her perspective. She may travel differently than I am used to. She may ask for help and seemingly ignore. That really isn’t too far off from the description of quite a few forum members.

Let’s keep this a welcoming place and allow people to be who they are. I am glad Boston Phil is sharing her trip report.

I do wonder if we have been part of the problem a bit. “Give me a fish, I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat daily”. Perhaps we should have spent more time helping her learn to navigate on her own rather than telling her which bus to take on demand? Hard to know…….

Posted by
6274 posts

Perhaps we should have spent more time helping her learn to navigate on her own rather than telling her which bus to take on demand?

Maybe, Carol. It's a good idea in theory. It does not really sound like she wants to learn, but maybe I'm wrong. Wouldn't be the first time! 😊 I get that it can be overwhelming. There is a thread just started by Pam that gives tips on organization and research. I've added to it and maybe others could as well. Hopefully it's not too difficult to follow for someone starting from scratch...

Posted by
156 posts

bostonphil 7,

I am enjoying your trip report, the good and the bad you experienced.

I have been described as a Type A personality. I have friends who are Type Bs and as you describe Type Cs. The key for me is to realize that Type Cs don't do a lot of planning and organizing. It's not how they are wired. Those of us Type As can wish for Type Cs to be different, more like them but I isn't going to happen. If we don't choose to appreciate and understand the differences we can be very frustrated with Type Cs. This may be what is happening with previous posts.

I appreciate your report as it gives me insight and even better understanding of how others unlike me are wired. Thank you for educating me. I look forward to the reading the rest of your trip report.

When I am 78 I hope to be traveling and exploring. Enjoy planning your next cruise!

Traveler Girl

Posted by
14499 posts

Re: Rouen.

Staying in Paris in July, I decided to do a day trip (solo) to Rouen, turned out to be a day well spent. Obviously, I wanted to see this famous historic city for its own sake, even more incentive since I had been told (by a French) of the Napoleon Stature, not merely a plaque, situated in Rouen.

I got to the centre-ville walking down, literally it was slightly downward from the train station just following the signs , just tracking the evidence of this location. I came across the main square, the Tourist Office was located there too, went in to look around as I usually do in the TO, talked to a staff girl in French and English, who saw me obviously as a tourist. Most definitely, I got to statue as the girl in the TO enthusiastically point me in the right direction, ca. less than 10 mins from the T.O. in front of the Hotel de Ville, very fitting.

Rouen is a lovely and interesting city. I wasn't too successful tracking my way back to the train station, got lost, had to ask twice for directions. When I get tired , I just find a place to sit as I saw the locals do, had lunch in nice almost empty restaurant, the only other party present were two young French women chirping away in French.

Posted by
9548 posts

Lisbon is available in City Mapper.

I just switched to it, lying here on my couch in Paris.

Posted by
1916 posts

and when I tried it on my ipad, i got a message that it was not available in Lisbon. I may have tried it from London.

I believe that I have now deleted the app.

Update; I tried it on my computer and I was able to access Lisbon. On my iPad, I seem to be stuck in Austin. I can not find anyway to change cities.

Posted by
3948 posts

You can Google how to change cities in CityMapper and follow instructions.

How do I switch to a different city?
Tap on the text at the top of the home screen that says "Citymapper [city name]”. From there you can switch to a different city.

Posted by
1070 posts

@bostonphil7

Overall, did you enjoy this trip? Did you enjoy the planning ahead of time? If so, then I call it a successful trip.

Thinking about a trip, planning for that trip and sharing ideas can be fun even if not all is remembered or written down. And anyways, questions asked and advice given are not just benefiting the OP but overall a larger group of individuals.

To be willing to travel at 78 with health concerns and have adventures, I personally think is lovely. I'm enjoying your trip report :)

Posted by
2710 posts

Bostonphil7, I sent you a PM. I’ve enjoyed your trip report. I’m sorry that some things did not meet your expectations. But overall, did you enjoy your trip? I hope you can get your knee replaced soon so you don’t have so much pain on your next trip.

Posted by
5674 posts

But how are we supposed to know who is a 'Type A' and who is a 'Type C' person? I have never seen someone on this forum say I am a Type A, B or C person. If they had, until today, I wouldn't have even known what they meant.

And above it has been talked about helping people to fish for themselves, and specifically talking about using Citymapper., which many people on this forum swear by. Well I have no idea how well Citymapper works in London (I use TfL, route knowledge and paper timetables in London). But tonight I have just been plotting on pen and paper a fairly simple journey in Liverpool which I will be doing next week (from Headbolt Lane to Billinge Stork Hotel for anyone who wants to look). So I thought I would check it on Citymapper.

And, well, let's just say Citymapper fell flat on its face. It doesn't know that Headbolt Lane station exists (it opened 4 weeks ago). So I thought start the journey from Kirkby (the next and much older station 18 minutes walk south). Lo and behold it doesn't know about the Kirkby to Wigan railway either. So it gives me routes for my journey taking between 90 and 120 minutes, when I know (using old fashioned paper) that the shortest and easiest route is via Rainford and takes 45 minutes (one train and one bus).
It also gives wrong bus fares for some routes (not using the £2 cap) and can't give multi modal fares using the Saveaway ticket (Liverpool's version of the London Paper Day Travelcard). This happens for any journey I tried in Liverpool. Overall a bit of a flop for me.

Posted by
90 posts

@Bostonphil7
I hope when I am your age, and perhaps living with daily pain, that I have the gumption to leave my comfort zone for a travel adventure. You had an adventure, not what you’d expected, but still an adventure. I hope that you don’t allow the disappointments of this trip put you off from a future travel adventure.. It could be absolutely wonderful.

Thank you for taking the time to write a travel report, warts and all. I’m enjoying the read.

Posted by
27054 posts

I found CityMapper only sometimes accurate in Istanbul in September and October. It quoted transit fares that were many, many months out of date; I think they changed early in 2023. It never seemed to recommend use of the funiculars (not remotely new). It mis-placed the station at the bottom of the Taksim-Kabatas funicular in such a way that it caused an extra 6 blocks or so of walking (because you couldn't cross the street in many places). I reported at least some of those problems after I returned home.

I used CityMapper from time to time in other cities, and I don't remember obvious errors. Istanbul is a particularly challenging environment. Still, I think it would be better to seek routing information from the local transit authority, if you have that website at your fingertips. If you're blasting through a bunch of large cities, CityMapper is an easy solution, as long as it's accurate. I don't much care for its user interface, so I'd be happy not to need it.

In fairness, I suspect the maps displayed by CityMapper are based on Google Maps, so some of the issues may lie with Google.

Posted by
20 posts

I am also a senior traveler, actually several years older than bostonphil, who still enjoys traveling on my own. This reply is not about whether the OP should have been better prepared, especially after receiving all the excellent advice provided by forum members. Other posters have addressed the issue.

However, perhaps this suggestion may help for future self-directed touring. I do use my cellphone when traveling, although I still fear dropping or losing the phone or having it suddenly stop working in the middle of a trip. This is probably a senior traveler's concern of someone who came late to cellphones. So yes, I travel with a notebook for back-up, but this is too heavy to carry around for daily excursions and is used in the hotel. Therefore, I keep paper copies of everything important, including tearing pages from the most recent edition of a travel guide to the cities or towns that I'll be visiting. The most helpful page is the map of a specific place with circled numbers beside each church, museum, or other sites of interest. Most guidebooks (RS, Frommer's, Lonely Planet, etc.) have these. And then I tear out the accompanying page or pages with descriptions of the numbered entries. This way I have both the location and the description of the site or building, including opening times and entrance fees, and take only the relevant pages with me each day. Of course, times and fees change even with the most recent edition of the book, so I check these before leaving the hotel.

Like bostonphil, I'm not great with maps but I do manage. If I get lost, I can ask someone for directions by just pointing to the circled point of interest on the map. Perhaps bostonphil might consider doing this before her next trip. It's quick and easy, and the cost of a guide book is so minimal compared with the overall cost of the trip.

Finally, some posters object to paper copies because of the supposed added weight when packing. I can't imagine that even the most compulsive gathering of papers adds more than a few ounces. And I am, alas, compulsive.

Posted by
1916 posts

To answer a lot of you.

I had good and not so good experiences. Because I write about the not so good experiences along with the good ones does not mean that it was a bad trip. I still had an adventure. And I still enjoyed myself a lot of the time. Unfortunately my bad knee did get in the way and that is part of the life experience.

I am glad that i went on this cruise. I saw a lot. I learned a lot. I met some great people.

By my sharing the not so good, maybe someone reading about my experiences will learn from them and not make my mistakes.

And by my sharing the good ones, maybe someone will learn from those also.

Life is not always good. And I can not always pretend that it is.

I am going to be writing about other ports and shore excursions soon. I will continue to write about the good and the not so good.

I do wish that I had done some things differently.

I thank everyone for your feedback, your interest and your support.

Posted by
9548 posts

To switch cities on the CityMapper app, touch the little crowned guy in the top left corner of the screen,

It brings up a screen called “App Settings.”

The very first line gives the city you are in, and the option next to it says Switch City. if you tap on that, it gives you a list of all the cities that CityMapper covers (in ranking of how close they are to where you are). Go through the list and find the city you want.

But I’ve never had to do this, because the thing is, the first time you open the app after arriving somewhere new, CityMapper automatically figures out where you are and asks you if you want to switch to that city. You don’t have to go looking for it, they come looking for you.

So I don’t think you had CityMapper on your phone in Lisbon. You wouldn’t have had to go searching for how to choose Lisbon. When you opened the app, a message would literally have popped up on the screen: “It looks like you’re in Lisbon. Would you like to switch?

I’ve been using this app for 7 or 8 years now and it literally has asked me every single time I show up somewhere new (where it operates, which is a LOT of places, I even used it in Bergen in November) whether I want to switch to that location. The whole app is so user friendly and takes all the guesswork out of how to get around.

It’s really a shame you didn’t try it. It would have saved you a LOT of trouble and a lot of wandering in bad directions (and thus would have saved a lot of stress on your knee, and therefore your whole body).

Posted by
1916 posts

Hi Kim.

I tried to change from London to Lisbon while still in London and I was on my iPad. I had just figured out how to use it or so I thought and I got a message that it was not yet available in Lisbon. Maybe I got the message because I was still in London????

I will try it next trip which will be as early as 6 months away or maybe a year away.

But when it was all said and done, I was able to find out where I needed to go by bus, train and metro while in Lisbon.

And I felt that it was such an achievement.

Posted by
1916 posts

Continuing on with my adventure.

I want to add something about Rouen. When we were at the spot where St Joan was executed, my tour guide told us that her last three words were reported to be "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus"

She was just 19 and had done so much with her life but came to such a terrible end.

But as my guide said "We all still talk about her. All over the world, people know who she is. And no one talks about the soldiers who executed her"

that has stayed with me. It is poignant.

Bruges Update: I went back to the trip that I took and looked over the excursions offered when at Bruges. There were several other guided excursions offered which included a canal ride. Mine was simply "Bruges on your own" The others included Bruges Like a Local, Romantic Bruges, and Historical Bruges.

However my excursion was Level One and all the others were Level Two. Level One is the easiest while Level Two becomes more challenging.

I probably would have had problems keeping up with the group if I had signed up for any of the others but as I look back now, I wish that I had tried. I have my regrets.

BORDEAUX

I am going to begin to write about my excursion while visiting Bordeaux. Norwegian only offered four excursions at Le Verdon. All were going to or towards Bordeaux. Two of the excursions were to a chateau and wine tasing. One was going to a chateau for a wine tasting and then a little free time in Bordeaux. and then there was the following one which is the one that I signed up for:

Bordeaux (Le Verdon), France

Duration 8 1/2 hrs

Explore Bordeaux's timeless beauty on a tour of city & surrounding areas, with free time to shop, visit museums, and savor superb wines. ...

So the coach picked us up at the port and we had about two hours to Bordeaux. It was a beautiful ride. We stopped a few times to see the vines and the vineyards and the Chateaux. . We did not get out of the bus but we stopped long enough to be able to take pictures out of the windows.

The Chateaux were magnificent. They looked like palaces or castles.

However I remember reading reviews of former guests who had taken the excursions to the Chateaux for wine tastings. The wine tastings were on the grounds. the guests never got to enter the Chateaux and that was a real disappointment for many of those who took these excursions.

So we entered Bordeaux and we had maybe a 30 minutes to 45 minute coach tour of Bordeaux. Things were pointed out to us by the tour guide and there were times that we were stopped momentaily because of traffic or lights but the coach never stopped for any other reason.

We went to a parking area where tour buses and other vehicles park.

I do n ot remember if we were given maps I do not remember if we were told where we were.

I remember the guide telling us that we would meet back right where we were at such and such a time. She said if you are not back by this time, I will wait 15 minutes and then we go. And it is an expensive taxi ride back to the ship.

Nothing was said about toilets and I had to go to the bathroom. By this time, we had been on the bus about three hours and we had been in The Stardust theater an hour before getting on the coach.

I asked "where are the toilets" and she pointed me and others to public toilets at the corner of this parking area. It would turn out to be one toilet and several of us had to wait in line.

I felt like there should have been a toilet break before we arrived in Bordeaux along with a place to pick up some food. Every other guide we had was very sensitive and aware of people in the group needing. toilet breaks. Toilets were always pointed to us right up front.

Posted by
1916 posts

BOURDEAUX continued

The name of the excursion that I took was named Bordeaux Sampler. I was unable to copy it when I copied the description.

I am on a Facebook page for the cruise that I took. I asked some of the participants how they felt both about the cruise and the excursions.

One or two participants were unhappy with the winery excursion and said something about wishing they had gone to Bordeaux instead. I have said that I had read previous comments from previous cruisers about the excursion to a wine tasting at a Chateaux and there was unhappiness that guests were not allowed in the Chateaux but that the wine tasting was held on the grounds of the Chateaux. I think that it should have been made very clear that the wine tastings were to be held on the grounds of the Chateaux and that participants in this excursion were not going to go inside the Chateaux.

Going back to my excursion in Bordeaux.

I ended my previous report when we arrived at the area where the bus parked. It was an 8 1/2 hour excursion and already we had been on the bus about 3 hours with nothing said about toilets. We were getting off the bus and nothing at all had been said about toilets or about food. When I got off the bus, I asked the guide "where are there toilets" and she pointed "over there" .

myself and another person walked to "over there" and had some difficulty finding the toilet.. That is because we had not walked enough. We had to continue walking and finally found the one public toilet at a corner of the parking area.

By this time, the bus and our tour guide were already gone.

There were maybe four or five of in line waiting for the toilet so it went fairly fast. I do not know what might have happened if there were 20 or so persons waiting for the toilet. A lot of our free time would have been waiting for a toilet.

The toilet was unpleasant but it served its person.

Except for this one situation, our tour guides were very sensitive to toilet needs and addressed the issue almost immediately. We did not have to ask.

I felt that there should have been a toilet break before we entered Boudreaux so that we might not have the need during the 30 to 45 minute bus tour of Bordeaux. And I felt that along with the toilet break, there should have been a break for us to purchase take out food at the same time. Maybe a box lunch for a fee might have been offered as part of the excursion.

I expect that when I buy a good or service, I get quality.

All of us on the excursion had already paid for our cruise and we had also paid for this excursion . This excursion was not charity. We bought this excursion and I expected to be treated like a "customer" which I was.

I am complaining but I also am giving feedback and making suggestions.

Most businesses in the travel trade ask for feedback and suggestions. I am certain that R S does also.

I do not remember being given a map. We were given some information about Bordeaux during the 30 minute or so bus tour of the city. I do not recall if any information was given about where we were being dropped off.

I had no idea where I was but it was very pretty. I was hungry and so after using the toilet, I headed towards a restaurant that I noticed. We were running into the end of lunch time when restaurants would be closing down. for several hours.

I have possibly mentioned being diabetic and I have an unusual symptom of extreme hunger. Persons are familiar that frequent urination and great thirst are symptoms of diabetes but not many are aware that there is a less common symptom of frequent and extreme hunger which I experience. I nibble all day but can get extremely hungry when I have not been able to nibble. We are not able to take food from the ship so I was very angry by the time we were in Bordeaux.

We were in a very pretty area of Bordeaux and an area that looks to be upscale.

Posted by
1916 posts

BORDEAUX continued

The weather was rainy. I do not recall if it was cold. We might have showers, then it would let up, then it might pour, then showers, then let up .

I walked over to the cafe. It had both indoor and outdoor seating. It was crowded.

Someone who spoke English asked me if I wanted to sit outdoors or indoors. I preferred outdoors and she found me a spot that was covered which was a good thing because we had one or two downpours while I was sitting outside.

When she came to take my order, I had no idea what I wanted but there was a lady sitting at a table next to me who was eating something that looked good. I pointed to the lady and said that I would like whatever she was eating.

While I was waiting for my food, I noticed a board facing me and a man was erasing the "Plate of The Day" which was in French. I had not even seen the board until then and had not noticed a Plate of The Day.

I got my food. I had no idea what it was and I hate to have to say this but I did not like my food. It was thin noodles with what I think was oil over it. There vegetables and some pieces of what I thought was chicken. But it appeared to be pieces of chicken that I did not care to eat. It appeared to be maybe pieces of the neck or the gizzards.

I ate the noodles and I ate the vegetables but was unable to eat what I thought was pieces of the chicken. I realize that I might have been wrong. Perhaps it was mushrooms or chestnuts.

I finished my meal and the waitress came back for my plate. She looked very surprised to see that I had not eaten some of it.

Again I made a bad choice.

The cafe was very nice in a very nice area of Bordeaux. The staff was very nice.

I paid and then I began to walk around.

I walked across the street to what appeared to be a sort of amusement park. While still on the bus, the tour guide had described it as an amusement park in the middle of the city. I forget how she described it but she said something about having a large empty space, an amusement park had been built to take up the empty space.

I noticed that stalls were open. There was a beautiful grand monument and I took some pictures. I was aware that this must have been a famous monument because there so many tourists taking pictures of one another in front of the monument .

I went to an open stall that offered delicious looking baked goods, coffee and perhaps other foods. I bought. a donut and coffee. This donut was dry, there was no filling and I had had such a delicious donut in Rouen that I was disappointed . I also had a coffee.. None of the persons working the stall could speak English so I am uncertain what coffee I got but for the most part, I did not fully enjoy my coffees that I had while traveling in Europe with a few exceptions.

I had been forewarned by members of this forum that coffee in Europe might not be the coffee that I was used to in America. And that turned out to be true. There were a few exceptions.

I did not continue walking around the amusement park but walked around other immediate areas. It was very beautiful and there were magnificent buildings.

I walked back to the bus early. I thought that I was walking in a park but found out later that it was considered to be a parking lot but a very pretty parking lot with green areas and very pretty trees.

While looking for my bus, I ran into two women who were on my cruise and took the same excursion I had but had been on a different bus. They were very unhappy with the excursion. They told me that their bus driver had gotten lost and the tour guide had been terrible. They made it sound like it had been. terrible coach trip to Bordeaux and they had every intention of letting Norwegian know it.

Posted by
1916 posts

BORDEAUX continued

Our trip back to the ship was comfortable and pleasant.

Mostly what I did in Bordeaux was eat, walk around and take pictures. the area was beautiful and the buildings were magnificent.

I had no idea where we were. I did not ask the tour guide any questions because she did not seem terribly interested in being asked questions. She offered a lot of information and good information but did not encourage questions. Still I wished that I had now asked.

We had taken the long ride from the ship to Bordeaux, the very pretty ride. On the way back, we took the faster route which was along a highway.

I really do not remember much about the trip back to the ship. I may have even slept some on the bus. It was a long bus ride to and from. It had been a long day.

For whatever reason, the pictures that I took with my iPad did not sync with my computer and the pictures that I took do not have labels. Usually the pictures are labeled with what I took and where I took the pictures. This did not happen with Bordeaux. Eventually I will call AppleCare and see if anything can be done.

However I did some research and did discover where I believe that we were. This was a very famous are and the monument was very famous. I am going to have to go back to my research to find the name f the monument and the area of Bordeaux

To be continued.

Update: Doing some research, I believe that I visited Esplanade des Quinconces which is where the monument was and I need to go back to YouTube and get the name of the monument.

I believe the name of The Monument was Monument des Girondins. And I also got this from YouTube.

Now another cruise line might have offered Enrichment Talks giving us information about each port in advance. NCL does not offer such talks and this has been.criticism of NCL by those who favor other cruise lines.

Posted by
32699 posts

thanks for the description of Bordeaux. I have never been to southwest France so now you have given me something to look forward to.

Thank you..

Posted by
11127 posts

I keep trying to interpret your comments,bostonphil. You say you are giving us the good and bad about your tour. And you say you will sail with Norwegian again which I do not understand at all. They gave you terrible tours and were not helpful. Find a better company to sail with!!.
I enjoy the frankness of your comments.

Posted by
1916 posts

Hi Nigel,

I loved both Rouen and Bordeaux even if there were disappointments.

They are both beautiful, historic, fascinating and interesting.

I will probably say this more than once but a cruise is a bit of a tease. You usually go to a lot of places but for only. a short period of time.

We definitely did not spend enough time in Rouen or Bordeaux.

Hi Suki

i began to sail Norwegian because they offered studio cabins for the solo traveler. I have sailed with them eight times now and get rewards and perks. I only have a few more vacations left in me given my age and my savings so I think that I will stick with NCL until the bitter end.

There are some cruise lines such as Viking that are considered a step or two above Norwegian but one pays a lot more money to sail with Viking and there are still plenty of complaints to go around.

At the risk of sounding like a Marxist, Norwegian like Royal Caribbean and Carnival caters to the masses and makes cruising affordable for the working classes. However NCL also offers very upscale cabins which are known as The Haven or the Balcony with Spa. The Haven is an upscale area cut off from the rest of the guests except for some of the major entertainment shows but Haven guests have reserved seats at the Broadway Musicals. Guests in The Haven never have to mingle with other cruisers except if they want to.

Posted by
4822 posts

Suki, I'm going to go out on a limb and say the main reason she sails NCL is because of the relatively cheaper prices for the miniscule solo cabins they offer. But other than that, if you Google "nickel and diming", chances are it will show a photo of an NCL ship. You get what you pay for. How bad must the food in the Main Dining Room be if the OP instead chose to eat all her meals on the buffet.

And speaking of food. OP, you must have noted when you booked the excursion that meals were not included. You say you usually nibble all the time. But on this cruise you did not bring any prepackaged snacks with you that you could have legally taken off the ship. No wonder you arrived in Bordeaux angry. But again, that is entirely on you, not the excursion providers. And if there were no intermediate stops that could accommodate a bus and all its passengers, how would you expect them to do that bathroom and food stop? All the while not cutting into the time actually spent in Bordeaux. Are you saying that the coach didn't have a toilet?

I noticed other complaints about no map and no information about where you were once parked, but at the same time frequent comments about "I don't recall" regarding the info given by the tour leader. And you didn't bother asking. I hope these were more lessons learned.

Given your stated inability to adequately research and absorb or document the knowledge you need to travel on your own, you might want to look at tour groups for seniors where the destinations and daily sight-seeing is limited and tailored for those who need "hand holding" for the whole duration of the trip. Travel & Leisure has a web article about some of them.

Posted by
5674 posts

In this case it sounds as if the bus took the D2 route to Bordeaux, and a quick search shows that there were at least 3 locations where a restroom stop could have been made. All those are in towns or villages so presumably there is a shop close by in each location.
BostonPhil has stated before (on previous threads) that they are not allowed to take ANY food off the ship (pre packaged or otherwise) and cruise critic bulletin boards appear to support that, with some of the self righteous posts being deeply critical of those who have evaded the rules.
Something I have not encountered outside the Caribbean and New Zealand (local rules)- but does seem to be the case on NCL, enforced, apparently, by random searches as you leave the ship.
There seems to be fewer (if any) restrooms on the main highway D1215 back.

From what I have read/researched previously other lines offer shuttles to Soulac for independent guests (as it is a port you can't walk out of) but it seems that NCL may not do that- that would be my choice at that port (for bus or train to the Phare de Grave). But Soulac also has restrooms from a search- no less than 3 of them.

EDIT- I think it was a shame that BP bowed out of today's Zoom Call, I think it might have been beneficial to her. The more I read the more I think there could be other (better) ways of supporting her on future vacations which match her style of travel. Maybe we, certainly I, have seen that what was tried through the forum per se had what could be called mixed results, was not as beneficial as might have been hoped. It has been a learning curve to me, at least.

Posted by
8340 posts

If you haven’t figured it out by now , Boston Phil is going to be Boston Phil and do things her way regardless of anyone’s input. It is her vacation and she can choose to travel as she pleases. It will only lead to frustration if you try to change the way she travels. Just accept that traveling like this is what she wants.

Posted by
27054 posts

I wish that someone could work with her on how to use Google Maps (or some similar option) to at least load a map and follow the You Are Here dot as she moves around her destination. Although I like paper maps a lot, I'm also intensely fond of the blue dot. It helps me avoid a lot of wasted time and energy, because I can see within a minute or two whether I'm walking toward my next sightseeing target.

Posted by
4822 posts

Isn31c, whatever Bostonphil said, prepackaged food (and by that I mean commercially packaged) can certainly be taken off the ship. You can't take anything offered by the dining rooms or buffets that has been prepared on the ship. Prepackaged food is hard to find on board, except for whatever snacks may be found in the gift shop. Diabetics, especially, should know that they should have these available just in case, and would bring them on board at embarkation, or purchase a resupply in port as necessary.

Posted by
4573 posts

I have cruised on the Dawn. I like the smaller size. I am a budget traveler too and understand the draw of a cruise line that suits my budget. But I consider it as transport and a break from home cooking. How else can you visit numerous countries in under 2 weeks and never have to repack and unpack?

I generally do my own port planning, but it is handy, when the body hurts or fatigue has set in, to let the cruise excursions do the work for us.
I am also a bird watcher. Not having been to England before, I loved the countryside and also the feather distractions on the bus route from Heathrow to Southampton. A tiny pair of binoculars in a purse is a great distraction when waiting for a ride, or some delay. Your friend's comment of 'aren't there birds in Texas'? Made me laugh. Non birders don't understand the draw of a new bird...regardless of how many are at home. And even the longest wait or misadventure can turn bright when there are birds for distraction.
I am no longer of the forum often enough to keep up with regulars and their trip planning, but I am a little aghast at the criticisms here. Maybe they are frustrated that their efforts to help you plan went awry, but I don't understand some of the harshness. Trips have ups and downs. No point glossing over the tough parts. You are allowed to tell your story as you wish to. You are a stronger woman than I to keep it up...must be that Boston upbringing.

Posted by
14499 posts

Generally, the coffee served at breakfast in France and Germany is different. I think so and have been told as much. That it is different makes it better.

In SF French coffee is not available in the stores but 2 brands of German coffee (beans or ground) are available, the price for 500 grams is, however, twice as much here.

Posted by
1916 posts

Moving on. I am trying to remember where i am.

I believe that we have now entered Spain. We would not be able to port in La Coruna due to the storm.

BILBAO

I can not remember if we ported in Bilbao or Vigo first but i believe Bilbao. My excursion was the Guggenheim Museum and Bilbao. It was an escorted tour with a little bit of free time.

The Guggenheim Museum was very interesting and beautiful. Our tour guide was also our museum guide. He was very knowledgeable as well as pleasant.

One disappointment was that Jeff Koonz's "The Dog" was not available to view. It was in what was called "holding". Twice a year, The Dog gets pulled so as to have its flowers changed from one season to another. Several artists work on it for a few days and we were there during the changing of the flowers.

Nevertheless, this museum is beautiful. There are many interesting works. The museum itself is a beautiful and interesting architectural wonder. Looking over my pictures, I am sad that I forgot to take pictures of the outside of the museum but I have very many nice pictures of the inside.

After the museum, we got a bus tour of Bilbao. And we also stopped for some free time to eat, shop or just walk around. I do not remember what came first.

So I will discuss what will turn out to be some free time. We were brought to an area of Bilbao. Our guide pointed out a couple of "cafeterias" to us and cautioned us that lunch time was close to ending. If we wanted to eat, he suggested that we eat immediately before shopping or doing our own sightseeing because the restaurants were soon going to close for some hours.

He also was going to give an escorted walk to a.church that would take about 25 minutes total.

I chose to get something to eat. I walked over to what he had pointed out to us as a cafeteria. I never saw anything that resembled a cafeteria in the American sense of the word. There was a bakery / cafe where I had a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. The cake was very good.

I had to go upstairs to use the bathroom and on the second level, there was a restaurant where you could get sandwiches and other foods but it looked like lunch was over

I walked back to where we had gotten off of the bus. This was the same area where the bus was goung to be picking us up.

There were several fast food restaurants on this street including a KFC.

Almost no one spoke any English at the previous place or now at these fast food restaurants and I speak no Spanish.

I went into an Asian fast food restaurant. This may have been a buffet. I had to pay in advance. For some reason, the gadget used would not accept my credit card. We tried twice. I then tried to use another credit card and also had a problem. I had not had any problem earlier when i went to the bakery cafe.

The gal behind the counter made a phone call and then showed me a message in English on the phone which said "He does not want to take your money". I left.

I went next door to a KFC. This is not what I wanted but I was hungry. Everything was done by ordering electronically. One of the staff helped me and I got my piece of chicken which turned out to be bland. I can not remember if I got fries also. I ate a lot of fries on my cruise and my excursions and wherever I ate fries, they were alway good.

I was at the spot where the bus would pick us up which was right around the KFC. Eventually other persons from my excursion arrived and then the tour guide showed up.

Posted by
1916 posts

I told him what happened to me with the first restaurant where I was unable to use my credit cards. I told him that I hoped they had not ripped me me off and he said something like "I hope so also". I am still so tired from the trip that I am not yet able to check my credit cards but the bills are starting to come in and I will be paying them soon. I will have to keep my eye on the two credit cards that i tried to use at the Asian fast food restaurant. I had no trouble using one of the two at KFC.

We then had a bus tour of Bilbao which is an amazing city. We went up to the top of a hill in the bus to a very popular area frequented both by locals and tourists

The views were spectacular.

And from here, we went back to the ship.

It had been a. good day and a good excursion.

SANTIAGO

The next port in Spain that we were able to visit was Vigo and this is where I would take an excursion to Santiago.

To be continued later. I need to go back to sleep.

Posted by
285 posts

Bostonphil7, thanks for writing your trip report including all of the ups and downs. I admire your determination in continuing with your trip despite the pre-trip injection not helping with the pain and your focus on trying to enjoy whatever sight seeing and experiences you could.

Posted by
5674 posts

@ Boston Phil- it would have been Bilbao before (the cancelled A Coruna) and then Vigo, in that order;

@ acraven- Firstly someone tell me about the moving blue dot on google maps, let alone BP. But leaving that aside yes that is where a bit of practical help (rather than us just writing on a forum) would have been beneficial. I'm a bit disappointed her cousin and her friend didn't pick up on that- but hey they didn't. I was one of several folks trying to help her navigate in London, and did think several times it was a shame that I was 300 miles away at the time, and can only do so much through a keyboard. When she walked through Hyde Park from hotel to coach station I think it would have been helpful (in a perfect world) if anyone had been around London both to offer practical help but also act as a bit of a tour guide to fully enjoy the park, and nudge her to stop at the Serpentine cafe (for instance, while at the cafe, such a personal guide would have told her the interesting story of where the water in the Serpentine Lake comes from and goes to, but much else less esoteric to show of course as well). Personally I need at least 72 hours notice to get down to London at a decent price (one of my sub £20 tickets). But it isn't a perfect world and it's the wrong time of the year for many folk on this forum to be in London- I don't think anyone was on the ground on the days in question. In this case the final decision to walk was taken at about one hours notice.

Through this TR BP has built an understanding of her situation, I believe. Yes, some (including me) have become a bit frustrated- but I hope in a good and constructive way.

@cjean- I don't know where the apparent mis-understanding about taking food off the ship originates, but do know I got very aerated last night reading the pomposity (even arrogance) on Cruise Critic. The same attitude as BP seems to have encountered on board. But there is a story for her future vacations- again relating to Google Maps (or similar)- to identify suitable shops close to the ports. I don't believe that was raised on her pre cruise posts. Yes I do know that the on board shops would not readily have fulfilled that purpose.

Posted by
1916 posts

isn31c

I did stop at the Serpentine Cafe but to ask directions. I had had breakfast at Hotel 63 and was full. I even have a picture or two of the Serpentine from the cafe.

The staff member who helped me did not speak English well so there was a language barrier.

I also stopped and sat many times, first because I had to but also because I wanted to. I wanted to look around. I also was saying goodby to London. I gave myself plenty of time to get from Hotel 63 to Victoria Coach Station.

And please tell me where does the water from the Serpentine come from and go to. I remember asking that about another man made lake and I was told that the city is built on marshes . And all that had to be done was to dig until water came up. Was that the Serpentine?

You have always been very helpful and so have many many others on forum. Because I did not always recall what was told me or understand does not mean that I did not get help from forum.

Posted by
1916 posts

I also want to add something more about Bordeaux

I have already copied and pasted the description of what we were going to be offered as an excursion to Bordeaux, the excursion titled The Bordeaux Sampler

Here it is again

Bordeaux (Le Verdon), France

Duration 8 1/2 hrs

Explore Bordeaux's timeless beauty on a tour of city & surrounding areas, with free time to shop, visit museums, and savor superb wines. ...

that is the only information that we were given.

It does not say that we would get a 30 to 45 minute bus tour on our way to drop us off. All the guide did was point out things to us.

We had about 4 hours free time in Bourdeaux. It was mostly a Bourdeaux on Your Own.

The bus driver and the tour guide also had 4 hours or so free time which meant that they might have gotten together with a friend or relative, etc. etc.

Norwegian also no longer allows guests to review the excursions that they offer on the NCL site. There were no reviews of the excursions that i was signing up for.

Norwegian contracts with third party companies to offer us excursions. They contract with companies that they believe to be reputable.

Posted by
4573 posts

Bostonphil7, I meant to ask whether you like cruising for cruising sake, or as a transport method to get you between ports? Have you considered a repositioning cruise where most of the time is at sea? It may reduce fight costs and still allow you to visit your arrival or departure city and region. Just something that may reduce the disappointments.

Posted by
5674 posts

The Serpentine was formed from the Westbourne River- that is one of 20 or so lost rivers of London which are now entirely culverted (another example is the Fleet as in Fleet Street). But the Westbourne actually has several sources on Hampstead Heath and flows down into the Thames at Chelsea.
One of it's unique features is that Sloane Square tube station was built in it's path, so it had to be diverted via pumping into a pipe which runs above the platforms.
Nowadays the water for the Serpentine is pumped and recirculated from depths deeper than the river.

Wikipedia will have you believe that the Westbourne is now a sewer, and that undoubtedly was true at one stage. But if you peek into the pipe at Sloane Square it is now really pure water, and there are actually no signs at all in the pipe of that history.

If there isn't a London Walks walk of it's course then there should be as much of it's course has a really fascinating history with parts of the associated history going back into the 1100's.

Posted by
1280 posts

Quote from OP:
“ Bordeaux (Le Verdon), France
Duration 8 1/2 hrs
Explore Bordeaux's timeless beauty on a tour of city & surrounding areas, with free time to shop, visit museums, and savor superb wines. ...”

that is the only information that we were given.
It does not say that we would get a 30 to 45 minute bus tour on our way to drop us off. All the guide did was point out things to us.
We had about 4 hours free time in Bourdeaux. It was mostly a Bourdeaux on Your Own.

End quote

It took me less than 30 seconds to find the information about this excursion on the website of NCL;

https://www.ncl.com/fr/en/shore-excursions/search?destination=Europe+Cruises&port=LVN

“Bordeaux (Le Verdon), France

Explore Bordeaux's timeless beauty on a tour of city & surrounding areas, with free time to shop, visit museums, and savor superb wines.
The timeless beauty of Bordeaux is yours to discover during this orientation tour of the city and its surrounding areas, complimented with free time to do as you please and have lunch on your own. Your drive to Bordeaux takes you along the famous Medoc wine road, Route des Chateaux, with panoramic views of vineyards as far as the eye can see. The Medoc vineyards are orderly and impeccably maintained, and the famous Chateaux region produces superb wines.

Reaching Bordeaux, you’ll have a short orientation of the city before being dropped off to enjoy a few hours of free time to explore at your leisure. Take advantage of this opportunity to shop, visit museums or just stroll about and discover more about the history of the city. Some of the city highlights are Place de la Bourse, the riverfront, Cailhau Gate, Grosse Cloche from the English Period, the Bordeaux Cathedral, and Gambetta Square. Don’t miss the Grand Theater, one of the most beautiful 18th-century theaters in Europe. The pedestrian friendly city center and waterfront have many shops, cafes and restaurants for you to choose from as well as a number of museums. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll have a wonderful time in Bordeaux.”

So as it turns out the OP was given much more information about the excursion. Information that gives a pretty good description of the excursion I would say.

Posted by
1916 posts

I am on a facebook page which is dedicated to the cruise that I was on.

Several other members were unhappy wuth the Bordeaux Sampler. One person was on an excursion that was titled "Beyond Bordeaux". She and another asked NCL for their money back because they did not feel they got what they had paid for. NCL refused because they told them that no one else had complained.

So I am not the only one dissatisfied with the excursions in and around Bordeaux.

Dutch__Traveler

I think that you are correct. I possibly did see the entire description when I signed up for the excursion. I do not recall but my time in Bordeaux was not what I had expected and did not work for me.

As said above, I was not the only one who posted being unhappy with the excursion. But what are you going to do.

Posted by
1916 posts

Well, I think that I have said enough about Bordeaux. It is a beautiful place but I made some bad choices and was not prepared to see Bordeaux on my own. When you buy an excursion sometimes months in advance, you feget what you paid for.

It is time to move on.

SANTIAGO

I am going to write about porting in Vigo and taking an excursion to Santiago.

Vigo was beautiful. I was sort of stunned because I was not expecting Vigo to be so beautiful from what I had heard and read. When I say that it was beautiful, I mean walking out to the deck and looking around. I can not say that I saw very much of it.

I saw hills that surrounded the water. The water was beautiful. The hills were beautiful. The hills were populated. There were houses in the hills. I did not know enough about Vigo to know what I ws seeing.

There were a lot of birds and I love birds. I believe they were mostly seagulls.

We gathered in the Stardust Theater until our group was called.

There was a casino on or around the port. The port was new and nice if I remember correctly.

And then we were on our coach to Santiago. I remember very little about the ride to Santiago. I remember that Vigo looked to be nice as we drove through it.

I have no memory of how long our trip to Santiago took or whether the journey was long. I may have fallen asleep.

But we arrived in Santiago

We got off the coach at the bottom of our hill and our tour guide walked us up to the center of the city first of all stopping at the toilets.

She took us to the toilets (like kids in school) and those who had to use the toilets did so, She and the group waited for whoever .

And then we continued walking up the hill to the center of Santiago. I do not recall if she was pointing out anything as we walke up the hill.

We got to the square and she showed us where the bus would pick us up. The bus would pick us up in front of the hostel / hotel n the square at such and such a time and then we were on our own.

The tour was Santiago on our Own.

I found her to be very professional and caring in that she walked us to the toilets before we were left on our own. This is unlike the tour guide in Bordeaux.

I loved Santiago. I loved the square. You would walk around the square. You could walk around the side streets. You could explore a little or you could explore a lot but there was always the square.. And it was so central. Even I could not get lost but of course I did not go too far.

People were very friendly and helpful. It was crowded. There was rain sometimes brief downpours. There was music, singing, joy, jubilation, happiness, etc

It was a good feeling.

I asked about The Cathedral and I was sent to the front of The Cathedral. This was a bit of a mistake. There was a long line and it would get cut off when a mass began. The line was broken up and we had to leave until after the mass.

I did not get back in line when it formed again and I found other things to do which I will soon describe.

However from other persons on the same excursion as myself, I would later find out that there were side doors on the side streets and it was very easy for them to get into the Cathedral. There were short lines., I had seen the opened doors on the side streets but did not explore. Other persons told me that they got back into the line at the Cathedral after the mass and this time, they were able to get into the Cathedral after a wait.

So for those visiting Santiago who are wanting to go into The Cathedral, check out the side doors on the side streets.

To be continued

Posted by
363 posts

bostonphil7
Thank you for your trip report. I hope that I will have such bravery to travel alone in strange places when I reach 78 years old, in 13 years.

I also hope that, if I get around to writing my trip report, I will not be SO chastised for not remembering, not referring to (or choosing to not follow) all the forum recommendations. Some reminders and group reflections are very helpful, though, and there may be some history here of which I am not aware.

I know I felt better facing my trip with the advice and information I received before (and during—thanks, very much isn31c; Speckled Trout was just the right location!). Much will be saved for future trips.

That being said, I am only about 10% type A (and I'm sure undiagnosed ADHD) and I find taking notes (even when I don't refer to them) helps my brain to remember, regardless if I review the notes. A person who does better with the hands on, kinesthetic and experiential learning (is that you?) would be expected to remember better with just the action of writing.

However, physical discomfort/pain can be impact the ability or effectiveness of learning or even thinking on one’s feet in any given situation. Pain was a tough travel companion for you.

It just makes sense to adjust some preparatory habits before expending more limited funds on next year’s trips.

I know I will be studying the thread about trip planning/organization so I can maximize my travel $$ and gain the most from future trips. Even if I adopt only one or two new planning strategies for the near future, I know I will have a better launch.

Posted by
1916 posts

CanAmCherie

Thank you for your kind words.

The problem is I hate taking notes. I would much rather just listen and read. and if I forget things or get things not quite correct, my attitude is "so what" but that is the Type B or C personality

Yes, my knee is a very bad problem. I am going to have to deal with it and I dread it. Theraworx seems to be working better that the Voltaren.

I find this a very interesting community for many reasons. This community has been very helpful to me. but I still end up doing things "My Way"

Posted by
14499 posts

There have been occasions where my credit card in question was rejected.

One such incident was my first time in Strasbourg. The first card not accepted, neither was the 2nd one I pulled out. This was at Flunch where the waiter insisted that his hand held card reader was not accepting our cards. This time I was with a friend who was quite comfortable in French. She and the waiter went back and forth over the cc issue. We didn't leave nor did we offer to pay in cash.

Since I could not understand what was being said, this waiter was adamant, he wanted us to pay cash. My friend decided to up the ante, so to speak, by telling the waiter to call his supervisor. Surprisingly, he did.

When the supervisor showed up, she told him what the issue was. The supervisor showed the waiter how to pay using that hand held apparatus with an American credit card. Obviously, my card went through, transaction completed.

Because the waiter was ignorant of that, he tried faking us out by saying my card would not work. It was obvious he did not know how to use the card reader with US credit cards.

Posted by
1916 posts

Fred

I had the same problem with my credit cards. I had brought four and they are all in good standing.

I would go somewhere and try to use a credit card but it would be rejected. I would try another and it would work fine. Then I would go somehere else and the cc that had worked fine in the previous place would be rejected but the one that had been rejected previously would be accepted.

I think that it has something to do with the gadget or maybe how I tapped or where I tapped.

Posted by
1916 posts

SANTIAGO continued

Not many people in Santiago speak English so given that I do not know any Spanish even after many years in Texas, there was a language barrier.

My memory is that there are not many benches to sit on . You can find stairs to sit on or a wall or a large rock but for some reason no benches unlike other cities that i visited.

There are very many restaurants and souvenir and other shops. Some souvenirs are the typical souvenir but there are others that are more artstic, of higher quality and maybe very expensive. I mostly looked in the windows because the shops were crowded and in some case cluttered. I did go in one shop to buy some magnets and accidentally caused some magnets to fall. The woman who owned or managed the shop came right over to look at what I had done. Fortunately nothing broke or I might have been responsible for payment, So be cautious when you go into a souvenir shop. It is easy to accidentally cause something to fall.

There are many small restaurants and I would imagine they could get very crowded. I went into one where I was the only person. The menus are in Spanish and as said most people do not speak any English. I recognized some of the words on the menu because I live in Texas. I ordered an empanada. it was different than what i was used to in Texas. It was the size of a pancake but soft. The empanada was filled with a spicy ground beef. It was good but if I could have read the menu, I would probably have chosen something else.

And I did have something stolen while in Santiago. I wanted to take a picture. I was carrying a raincoat and two small bags with personal items in them. Nothing expensive. I put down my raincoat and my two small bags to step away for just a moment and take. a picture. I remember thinking "no one is going to steal these things"

Well after taking the picture, I continued walking and realized that one of the two bags was gone. It wa not a great loss but I really liked the bag. It was wine color and very soft. It could expand. I had a knit scarf and hat in it that someone had given me. I had my only pair of long pants that i had brought on the trip. Fortunately I would not need these long pants again on my vacation. And fortunately, I did not lose the other bag which held my umbrella. And fortunately, the person did not take my raincoat.

So caution with your personal items even in Santiago.

Santiago was fascinating. it wa beautiful with a very rich history.

I loved the large public square and the many side streets going to and from the public square. As I have said, even I could not get lost. The public square was a great point of reference.

Besides the Cathedral, there were other sites to explore and more than one museum. There were several buildings in the public square. One was a very large hotel / hostel which looked beautiful on the outside and when i looked into the lobby. I did not try to go inside. This would be where we got the coach to go back to our ship

There were small trams that were fee based. I do not know where the trams went but they were busy. People getting on and off the trams seemed familiar with them, what the cost was and where they went..

Posted by
1916 posts

BRUGES Again

Well, I am watching a long very well made video of. Bruges and it is obvious that I missed a lot. I never got to Burg Square among other places. I never got to the area where there were horse drawn carriages o even vehicle traffic.

I saw many nice looking waffle houses and chocolate stores.

I saw the church and some other attractions that I missed during my visit.

it is obvious that I stopped walking too soon. I cheated myself.

However I also have not yet seen the area of Bruges that I was in. I have not finished the video but I have not yet seen the monument where I was sitting or the convent and church that I did visit.

Some of it was the pain but there was also limited time. I had to keep my eye on the clock.

My doctor and his staff had to mix up the injection that I was given. I wondered if they did not mix it up right. To add insult to injury, the doctor's office did not run the injection by my insurance plan and thus far, they have rejected payment. I may be liable for over $200 for an injection that did not work.

I wish that I had taken a guided tour even given that I might have difficulty keeping up with it.

Posted by
1916 posts

Museo das Peregrinacions e de Santiago

This is the museum that I visited while in Santiago . I want to discuss it but do not have time now. I will come back and edit.

Posted by
5674 posts

The Norwegian Dawn came off lightly in the storm. During Storm Ciaran both Fred Olsen's Balmoral and the Saga ship Spirit of Discovery sustained damage and also injuries to passengers (the Spirit of Discovery was reportedly immobilized for 15 hours in Biscay at the height of the storm) and at least one other cruise ship had to take refuge at Falmouth.

Posted by
5674 posts

By tram, in Santiago, do you mean a streetcar/light rail running on rails, or the white tourist train on rubber wheels?
If the latter that gets terrible reviews.

I'm not aware that they have streetcars.

Posted by
14499 posts

@ bostonphil......This last trip if a credit card happens not to work for whatever reason, I did one of 3 things: try one more time with the same card, (sometimes that worked), 2. Use another cc, which usually worked, 3. resorted to using cash since I didn't want to bother with the problem and to be expedient.

Posted by
1916 posts

isn31c

We got lucky.

Fifty cabins took water and some got flooded. Some got shorted.

I did get a little concerned when the captain came on the loudspeaker to assure us that our ship was seaworthy.

After it. was all said and done, we were all laughing about it. Everyone was exhausted because we had all been up all night. It turned out to be a highlight of the cruise.

I regret that I do not have children or grandxhildren to tell about it but I do have this forum.

Posted by
1916 posts

isn31c

It was more like a choo choo train. I guess it was a tourist car that I am referring to as a tram. I do not know what to call it. In memory, I see red as one of its colors. It was more like something for kids but adults rode it also.

Posted by
5674 posts

In English English speak it's a road train. I don't know the American English terminology.

Posted by
320 posts

I was on this cruise also. We took the express bus to Bruges outside of the terminal also. There was a marathon run in Bruges that day that made it a little more difficult to get around than usual. There were 8000 participants with a few streets closed. We did take a free 2-hour walking tour from the Markt . There were many on offer and it was very informative. I believe it would have been very hard for you to keep up though as it moved along at a good pace.
I believe we spoke briefly on the Minho Province excursion which was very good. I thought you were keeping up pretty well but could tell that you were feeling some pain. One thing I would suggest though, for your next jaunt is to wear better shoes. We noticed you were wearing sandals with little arch support. I have knee problems myself. I always wear comfortable but appropriate shoes for walking, especially on cobblestones. Just a suggestion.
Editing to add that the storm we went through was quite an adventure. We had a picture window in our cabin and they came and covered it with a sheet of metal. I knew then we were in for a wild ride.😀 I feel bad for those whose cabins were flooded but I also admit I enjoyed watching the 24ft. swells. I hope you are able to get your knee fixed so that you can enjoy many more adventures.

Posted by
556 posts

24 ft swells? Are you sure? That sounds very frightening. That's like 3 stories.

Posted by
32699 posts

I have no problem seeing 24 ft swells. Many a time when I was young we -on a liner - went through similar lumpy seas especially in the Irish Sea. A well designed ship is designed to cut through them to a degree. What you don't want is to broach them, to have them come side on to the ship. That can get unpleasant.

Posted by
1916 posts

Hi Pat

I cheated myself when it came to Bruges. As you may know, I took "Bruges on Your Own" which was Level One but had to stop short because of the pain. Never got to see very much of Bruges when it was all said and done. If I had only walked a little bit more, perhaps I would have come to Mrket Square or another one of the squres. I stopped soon after the very old Covenant but we also had a time limitation.

I think that I wish I had taken a guided tour of Bruges that was offered through NCL but I am not certain that i could have kept up. It was Level Two.

I am looking at other cruises that offer a visit to Bruges and would like to do it all over again.

I never got to any of the main squares in Bruges and or where the free shuttle service was offered.

The excursion to the Minho Region was one of the highlights of the trip for me but I was in pain when walking. There is no pain when sitting.

It was a good excursion

Everyone was very kind to me on this excursion.

I wear Chaco Sandals which are made in Colorado. They are recommended by the American Podiatry Association. They are weather / water proof and even used by hikers and outdoors people. They last almost forever.

But the pair that i have been wearing was purchased off of Amazon rather than in store and it is not the same quality as the Chacos that I have previously bought. It has occurred to me that maybe I got knock off's.

I have many foot problems which causes me to have to avoid some shoes and need to wear others . I can not wear any boots or tie shoes such as sneakers. I can wear loafers, moccasins and sandals. If not sandals, they have to be slip on and off, no ties.

I meant to buy a pair of loafers for the trip but got busy and kept putting it off. By the time of the trip, it was too late to buy a pair of loafers and break them in.

I have Morton's Neuroma on my left foot. I have a bunion on my right foot which is the least of my problems. I have Hammer Toes. I have spinal stenosis on the left side and I have an arthritic knee with the right knee being especially bad which causes pain all the way down my leg in to my foot.

I dread surgery especially the recovery period but it looks like I do not have much choice.

You may have read that I did have an injection before leaving home but that it did not work. I remember my doctor telling me something about having to mix it up and I wonder if I did not get the right formula.

Posted by
320 posts

24 ft swells? Are you sure? That sounds very frightening. That's like 3 stories.

Yes, Kateja that was the height according to the Captain. The waves were hitting the upper part of the main dining room window located on deck 6 aft. Made for interesting mealtimes.😀

BostonPhil
I'm sorry you weren't able to see more of Bruges. I have an appointment this week myself to have my knee replaced. After a couple of bouts of injections, I find they no longer work for me and realize it's time I face reality. Having it done robotically which I am told is less invasive and quicker recovery. I'm having it done in January so I can be on another planned cruise in March.
I hope you can get your foot issues corrected as well. Pain can really impact your enjoyment of life. I admire your determination to continue to travel. Wishing you the best and who knows maybe we'll meet again.

Posted by
1916 posts

Pat

I am thinking of trying to put surgery off until next June. I never travel in summer because of the crowds, the higher costs and sometimes the heat.

But living in Texas, summers tend to be very unpleasant most especially the last two.

I might as well be in the hospital, rehab center and recovery for next June and following months. I won't feel like I am missing anything

Posted by
1916 posts

Museo das Peregrinacions e de Santiago

This was a museum that I visited while in Santiago. At least I think this is the correct museum. I did some research on museums in Santiago and this seems to be the closest in description. I had no idea there were o many free museums in Santiago.

This was a beautiful, large, airy, comfortable and modern museum. It was not at all crowded. It is free but you have to go to the basement and put all your things in a locker. The locker cost one euro but you get your euro back when unlocking your locker. I was allowed to take my iPad and I assume that you would be allowed to take yur phone. They do make change at the front desk if you do not have coins.

There are very nice bathrooms or toilets in the basement.

I noticed in the elevator that on the 3rd or 4th floor, it says cafeteria. I never went so I do not know if it was open and anything about the food. but I wish that i had gone and at least checked it out as well as maybe checkd out any view.

This museum is a homage to the Caminos and to the pilgrims and to St James

There is art work, collectibles, jewelry, artifacts.

Great museum. It is close to the cathedral. I guess that i would describe it as perpendicular to the cathedral. It is the first large building just left of the cathedral if coming down the steps from the cathedral to the plaza.

Posted by
11127 posts

I love Santiago de Compostela, watching the pilgrims arrive on foot or by bike is inspirational.
Some have walked almost 500 miles to finish their pilgrimages in Santiago de Compostela. We stayed in the Parador which had been built next to the cathedral as a hospital by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand.

Posted by
4299 posts

I hope you're not going to use that same doctor for your knee replacement surgery. Before I got my(expensive if insurance hadn't paid) gel injections, my doctor talked at length about the hoops we might have to jump through before the injections to get them approved.(that was on Monday) She clearly knew what she was doing, because my Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plan had approved them by Friday! I'm not thinking your shots were mixed wrong, but I do have a problem with the doctor not getting them approved prior to the injections.

Relative to your kidney issues, my nephrologist told me Tylenol is ok but Ibuprofen, etc. are not. Of course, your doctor may have told you differently, but Tylenol in normal doses is usually considered to be ok. Also, I have learned that taking medicine when the pain first starts is the best plan. Once the pain gets going, twice the amount of meds may not be effective.

I'm obviously not a doctor, just sharing what has worked for me.

Posted by
2329 posts

The problem is I hate taking notes. I would much rather just listen and read.

Have you tried highlighting relevant portions of guidebooks as you read? And list relevant page numbers on the inside cover of the book. That way when you're in the city in question you can flip to the important pages and see what you highlighted (opening days/hours, etc.)

Posted by
4822 posts

I did have an injection before leaving home but that it did not work.
I remember my doctor telling me something about having to mix it up
and I wonder if I did not get the right formula

You've mentioned this on several occasions. Since you seem to have had this injection several times before, I will assume it was a steroid injection. If any mixing was involved, it would only have been the drawing up of a small amount of local anesthetic into the syringe after the steroid dose had already been drawn up. Neither of those drugs require preparatory mixing before being drawn up; there is no "formula", so an incorrect admixture would be highly unlikely.

What is entirely more likely is that your arthritis has progressed and the knee joint has now deteriorated to the point where steroids are now ineffective.

Posted by
1916 posts

Suki

I did not spend enough time in Santiago de Compostela but I loved it before I went and I continue to feel "haunted" by it in a good way.

I became acquainted with Santiago by seeing the movie "The Way" many years back. Never forgot it and felt affected by the movie back then.

This cruise gave me the opportunity to visit The Caminos.

And yes, I know that some pilgrims walk hundreds of miles.

Very recently, here in Austin, (since my trip) I have met at least two different persons who walked a Camino. I did not realize that Caminos were even so well known.

Posted by
1916 posts

I realize that I I have been writing about the pain I experienced a lot -- maybe even too much

But this is a trip report and sadly pain dominated me and my trip.

I hate to say that it ruined my trip but it did have a very negative impact.

Still I really loved th ship and I loved the ports and the excursions.

Posted by
6274 posts

I am thinking of trying to put surgery off until next June. I never travel in summer because of the crowds, the higher costs and sometimes the heat.

BP, don't you have a trip in October? I remember reading that. If it were me, I would schedule it before June. You never know what will happen with a knee replacement. In the end, most of them work out very well. However, while some may only take a couple of months, others may take 6 months or more to really recover. And you have told us about your multiple health problems, which makes me think that your recovery might take longer than most.

Keep in mind that if your trip is anything like this one, there will be lots of walking involved, and I would imagine that you would want to be in your best form for that. At the very least, consider talking to your surgeon about the timing of this and get their advice.

Posted by
5674 posts

It was very evident from bp's trip planning threads she found the whole subject of the caminos and of the sacred pilgrimage element of them really interesting. Although there is nothing at all wrong with it, many are I think now doing the camino as a long distance walk rather than as a spiritual exercise per se- although many agnostics and other faiths benefit in wholly unexpected ways from their "long distance walk". It is the spirituality, and the whole story of St James and his relics which I think bp found so very interesting. On those original threads we (a lot of us) really deep dived the subject.

I, for one, am pleased that BP found out so much more than she knew from the movie, and was clearly so interested by it. The epitome to me of what world travel is about, of broadening your horizons and learning new things.

I would compare it in some ways with Iona. Most everyone goes there, but very few truly as a pilgrimage in the really religious sense, but Iona is a hugely important place in the history of Christianity in Scotland, just as Lindisfarne is in Northumberland.
Most Iona visitors may be tourists rather than religious pilgrims but many, if not most get the powerful spirituality which is in the air on Iona,
Or how many people on this forum who go to Canterbury explore the hugely important and multiple caminos which lead to Canterbury (or St Albans as another example)- how many on this forum even know about them?

And in that thread we touched on the many pilgrimage routes

Posted by
1916 posts

Mardee,

I am in a state of denial and disbelief. I have an appointment with my primary care doctor and am going to need to ask for a referral to an orthopedic surgeon.

But it may not be all that easy to get surgery

I have a friend who needs hip replacement . She began the process in September needing tests before surgery could be approved. Then she was given a date in December about two to Three months after she began the process. There were no available dates for her replacement because the doctor's calendar was so busy. And she has much better insurance that I do, I have an HMO and she has a PPO.

I do have a trip booked for next October but I also have a cruisenext deposit and other credits that are not refundable and also have a time limit. They do expire and I would lose my money if not used by such and such a date.

.

Posted by
1916 posts

Isn31c and CJean

I had never heard of Caminos, the Way or Santiago Spain until I saw the movie "The Way" some years back. Until I began planning my trip, I thought there was only one Camino. (the one that Martin Sheen walked in the movie)

I have a few friends and many acquaintances. Almost none of them have heard of the Caminos in Europe.

They have heard of pilgrimages but in Mexico. When I say Santiago, they think of Chile.

The Caminos are in Europe. In Austin and Texas, we are close to Mexico, Central America and South America. The Spanish were not always kind to Mexico.

I was surprised that I met a couple of persons (maybe even three) since returning home who had actually made a Camino because I had not met any persons before my cruise who were aware of The Caminos or even Santiago Spain

One person was a lady who is a volunteer with Meals on Wheels and was delivering my daily lunch to me. The other was a lady who works for Lifepoints. I wear a gadget around my neck in case I fall and I was doing my monthly check in. We were talking about my cruise and she told me that she has two coming up and mentioned having made a camino..

Most people I know are not as well traveled as the regulars on this forum and most of them are not even aware of this forum. However they are aware of R S because of PBS.

Should Caminos be capitalized. I can never figure it out

Posted by
3240 posts

I shared a Meals on Wheels route in east Austin for over 7 years. Most of the clients I saw could barely make it to the front door. I ask this without rancor, but how do you meet the eligibility criteria for MOW - which include being primarily homebound and unable to easily prepare nutritious meals - and still manage a solo trip to Europe plus a cruise?

Posted by
8340 posts

Boston Phil you are under no obligation to answer personal questions or make explanations about your living arrangements.

Posted by
1916 posts

Estimated Prophet

I qualified for MOW during Covid because of my many disabilities.

Although I went on this cruise, I am mostly homebound. I seldom go anywhere although I have some ability to do so.

But since my original qualification, I have developed arthritis of the knee and require a knee replacement. I wrote about how much pain I was in during my vacation.

This is going to cause me to become completely homebound for weeks to months.

I did tell MOW that I was going on vacation.

Many persons who live in my complex get MOW. Some are very disabled and others are somewhat to very mobile. Most of the persons can still prepare other meals. The meal that we get from MOW is help but not sufficient for a full day of food.

I believe age is also a factor as well as income.

Edit: At my last complex as well as this, I know clients who go walking and shopping every day as well as some traveling to see grandchildren, etc.

And if you have been reading my trip report, you should be aware that I was in a. lot off pain during my entire trip, needing help ands not always able to maneuver.

Posted by
1916 posts

And I want to continue writing about Santiago.

The best way that I can say it is to say I feel very affected by Santiago. And as I have said other times, I feel haunted but I mean that in a good way.

I have felt that way ever since I saw the movie "The Way" and I continue to feel being affected and haunted by Santiago.

I want to make a couple of edits about what I have said previously.

I have said that there was no where to sit in the square except for steps. but in the far corners of the square, there were comfortable places to sit. I do not know what you would call them. They were not benches. They were made out of stone.

And going back to the coach that transported us and the guide who led us. I have said that the bus picked us up in front of the hotel / hostel. That is not accurate. We met up in front of the hotel / hostel and walked back to the bus.

I did not try to enter the hostel / hotel believing that it was only open to guests staying there. There was security at the front even before you enter although now I wish that I had tried.

I described the museum that I did visit but apparently there were several others. There was one that appeared to have a relationship with The Cathedral (that was my impression) but I made no attempt to go in because it was getting close to meeting up for the walk back to the bus.

Santiago is spiritual. It is amazing.

And I think of the kindness of others. While waiting for the bus two brothers remarked on how well they felt that I was doing given my age. yes that is what they said.

Later when we were walking back to the bus, I began to fall behind. The guide came to the back to help me and walk with me but I believe that these two men went to her and brought my plight to her attention.. Others looked out for me.

I have previously mentioned trying to walk up the stairs to The Cathedral. I had to hold on to a railing and put my left food first while pulling up my right foot behind me

I felt something taking my left arm and it was.a young very beautiful girl who was taking my left arm to help me up the stairs.

Throughout my whole trip, there were kind persons every where who gave me their arm or took my arm. Some took my luggage when I was arriving and when I was leaving.

Going back to Bruges for just a moment.

I think that I had expected Bruges to be more like Santiago, that I would just walk into an open square. But then I realized that our guide walked us up the hill to the square .

I feel like if I would have just walked further in Bruges, I might have walked to one of the open squares. There were a lot of people in Bruges. It was crowded and persons were walking towards somewhere. I wish that I had kept walking with the crowds. As said, I think that I gave up to soon and I regret it.

Posted by
8340 posts

Boston Phil you might be interested that Rick Steves has been highly involved with bringing “The Way” back into theaters. They had a special showing at the theater in Edmonds.

Posted by
5674 posts

@bostonphil7-

That is a very gracious response to a somewhat tricky question, and one you didn't have to give.

I don't really know how your healthcare system works in this kind of case, so feel like I am also poking my nose in. But in the UK from everything you have said, at this moment I think you would qualify for short term additional help from Social Services. There may be no such fall back help in your system.

And, if it helps you, while you are in this situation at least, if you are able to join in with Andrea's or CW social's (or if there are others) Zoom meetings, maybe that will be of a little help as well (obviously not practical help, but on a social level).

Posted by
1916 posts

Carol,

I am very aware that R S speaks on a newish version of The Way and that it had a recent limited run in theaters but I think that it was also available on line as well.

The Way was a family affair. Martin Sheen starred in it. His son produced or directed it.

I saw it when it first came out at an AARP conference in Los Angeles. We had a Red Carpet Premier. Martin and son showed up. He was charming and the ladies loved Martin

I guess it is an independent production and I guess none of the big studios wanted to buy it.

I have no idea why it did not have more of a run.

Posted by
3240 posts

I wonder how many of the people on the waiting list are also planning their next trip to Europe.

I am done. The End.

Posted by
1916 posts

Estimated Prophet

Have you ever gone on a cruise. There are many disabled persons on cruises, some using walkers and scooters even

You do not have to do much on a cruise. All meals are provided. Your room is cleaned. Mainly you just have to take care of your personal needs.

I live in affordable housing but am allowed assets. I pay for my cruise with my savings that I put away not with current income.

On my floor is a very disabled man who gets MOW. He has had a stroke and is non verbal. He is a paraplegic and in a veyr large wheelchair. His sister who lives elsewhere is a caregiver and he goes places with her. But he even goes out alone by himself.

A non profit, Mobile Loaves and Fishes, just came by and brought us sandwiches and chips. I was even given a pair of socks. They did not ask us what we have or do not have. Just by living in my building, I was eligible.

Why does it bother you that I went on a cruise and receive MOW.

I fit the criteria for eligibility.

You previously wrote that clients you delivered to when you were a volunteer could hardly get to the door.

I live in independent housing and you are usually required to be able to take care of yourself but sometimes with help like the gentleman who has had a stroke.

If you can not take care of yourself in my housing, the next step is a nursing home.

You should be glad that some MOW clients can still manage to take a cruise.

Posted by
507 posts

Esteemed Prophet, as a retired medical social worker, I can tell you that very few recipients of MOW are taking a cruise but with a few exceptions: the handful with extended family who have financial resources and for whatever reason, want to support their loved one to do this. So your efforts were not unnecessary or unappreciated.

Reading between the lines of BP’s thread comments, I don’t find it difficult to see why she is eligible for MOW. I also can see that her efforts to take this cruise were courageous and not for the faint of heart. It sounds like she had to push herself everyday to do what for many of us would be the bare minimum when travelling.

I remember being in Antwerp 6 years ago and seeing a group of travellers in an old part of town. Several were either using walkers or were in w/c. I was filled with admiration that they were still out there, travelling at their pace!

Posted by
418 posts

I'm an infrequent visitor to this forum but, going back to the beginning ot his thread, bostonphil7, you mentioned how much you enjoyed watching the birds in Kensington Gardens while you were staying at No. 63.
I think you would enjoy this website https://kensingtongardensandhydeparkbirds.blogspot.com/
At the very least it could perhaps entertain you while you recover from surgery.

Posted by
1916 posts

Thank you Claire from Vancouver

I got. a very good deal on my cruise and was able to use some of the stimulus money that I had put away and never spent.

I was not expecting the cruise to be so difficult because of my arthritic knee.

I do not want to say that it ruined my cruise but it made things very difficult.

Still I am glad that I went

yes, some of us disabled persons still try to do things and not just sit home feeling sorry for ourselves. It is very challenging but still we do it.

Posted by
1916 posts

Thank you cgichard

I can tell you that I am not going to be a very good patient. I love being active even if challenged and hate being laid up.

Need surgery but not ready mentally.

Will be seeing my primary care doctor month. He will be giving me a referral to an orthopedic surgeon and I will go from there, Maybe there are alternatives to invasive surgery????? Just maybe.

During recovery, I will probably be spending a lot of time on R S

Thanks for the link. I live on a greenbelt and became a bird watcher during COVID

Posted by
1916 posts

cgichard

I viewed the link and it brought back many fond memories.

There were many ducks or birds in Kensington Park that were all black with all white faces. What is the duck or bird that has an all black body with all white faces. The white faces remind me of possums faces.

Posted by
1916 posts

OPORTO / PORTO

Well I am ready to begin writing about the last port that we visited before debarking in Lisbon.

I chose a guided excursion for Oporto and was to be very happy with my excursion. The name of my excursion is titled "The Charming Minho Province"

It began rocky, For whatever reason, all the coaches were delayed and we did not begin our excursion until about one hour late.

As with most of the excursions, we all met in the Stardust Theater. Some of the cruise guests became impatient and were yelling at the NCL staff member who was trying to coordinate our excursions. It was very rude, very uncomfortable and very unpleasant.

This was going to be a beautiful excursion but I find myself not good with remembering what we sid or what all i saw. That may be because I saw so much and we did so much. This excursion included lunch,

I had to go to my pictures to refresh my memory and even do a little research before beginning this post. My iPad only dates my pictures but does not give any further information at the top as it has done in the past

And here I am going to take a break

.

Posted by
1916 posts

Well as said when taking pictures with my iPad, my pictures from both London and Lisbon were titled along with dated. But when I took pictures at my ports and on excursions, the pictures were dated but there was no other information. No descriptions.

I have begin to write abut my Oporto excursion. And some memory is gone. That is because the excursion began one hour late and we were in some cases rushing or moving rapidly from one point to another. We had to forfeit one of the places we should have stopped because of the late departure from the ship. We still had to be back to the ship on time because we were sailing to Lisbon.

This excursion included lunch and I happen to have a picture of where we had lunch. There is no title on the picture but there is Estampas Esmolas on the building and on the awning, it says, Recordacoes Sameiro. Maybe someone can tell me where I was.

I believe the restaurant was in a hotel and the hotel had an affiliation with a church or other Catholic facility

It was a nice place. The meal was good. I remember a good soup. We had salad and vegetables. And we had fish but the fish was part of a casserole that I found just ok. I would have preferred a piece of fish all by itself. I think we had dessert but I can not remember what but for coffee, we had to move out of the main dining room and to the coffee room. I think that was because lunch was coming to and end and the staff had to prepare for dinner.

Coffee was rushed and then i think that we moved on to somewhere else.

But let's back up. When we first began this excursion, we went to a very old church and then to what I believe was an old fort. which was attached to or part of the old church.

I was always behind the group trying to catch up. I remember thinking that everyione was walking so fast only to realize that I was walking very slowly.

Because I was behind and because I often had to find a place to sit when the guide stopped to share some information, I usually missed out on what was being said . What I do remember is that when we were looking at the fort, he spoke about Jews having been hidden in this location I think from the Nazis but I guess that it could just as easily during the Inquisition. This church and building was very old.

Yet plants such as vegetables were being grown in this location. I asked the guide who was growing the plants and I think he told me that persons still lived in the area and tendered to the plants.

There are 80 churches in the area. It was Sunday and every time the guide tried to talk, the church bells would begin ringing. Every time or most times.

From here, we went to a. very large and interesting and magnificent square. The guide had mentioned that we were going to visit a temple. He described a couple of temples in the area very close to one another. One temple was dedicated to such and such while the other temple was dedicated to such and such. I can not recall who the temples were dedicated to but they were Catholic. When he first used the word temples, I wondered if we were going to a Buddhist or Hindu Temple or a Jewish Synagiogue. But the one that we did visit was a church to me. I never got to ask him why he referred to what I saw as a church as a temple. We only went to one temple because of our late start.

But it was high on a hill, part of a large square. I think there was a gift store next to the church. The square was magnificent like the church. There were very high columns, stairs, views, vistas and the restaurant that we ate at

to be continued

Posted by
928 posts

I'm invoking guidelines #1 and 2. Folks, let's keep this about bostonphil's trip report. Otherwise I'll close the thread. Fwiw, I appreciate botonphil's grace in her responses. It's the reason why this thread is still here.

Posted by
1916 posts

So I went to NCL and copied a description of the excursion that I took in Oporto.

It's a scenic drive from the port that brings you to Minho, a charming province that remains one of Portugal's most uncharted territories. Your exploration of the region begins in Guimaraes, the first capital of Portugal and the birthplace of the nation's first king. The city has endeavored to preserve as many of its medieval structures as possible and its historical center has earned a place as one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

After a short panoramic drive through the city, you'll enjoy a walking tour through city centre and free time.

Re-boarding your coach, you'll proceed on to Braga, considered by many to be one of Portugal's most beautiful cites due in large part to its vast array of stunning Baroque monuments. Your time in Braga includes a stop at one of the country's most well-known sites, the Bom Jesus Sanctuary. Described as a masterpiece of European Baroque, the Sanctuary consists of a twin-towered church that rests atop a spectacular Baroque staircase. The stairway itself is flanked by several smaller chapels that represent the Stations of the Cross. While a funicular provides access to the church, the more adventurous may elect to climb the magnificent stairs, enjoying the splendid architecture up-close.

Following a relaxing lunch in a local restaurant, your tour continues with a visit of the cathedral, also considered one of Braga's most important monuments. The imposing, yet largely unadorned exterior hides a wonderfully decorated interior. Two massive gilded organs dominate the high choir and the main chapel boasts soaring vaulted arches as well as a lovely 16th century statue of the Madonna. From here, your guide takes you on an enjoyable walking tour of the city center where you will be allowed some free time for shopping before it's time to re-board your coach and travel back to Oporto.

I forgot to add that we had white wine at lunch and it was a very good white wine.

I have watched a few youtube videos about Oporto and realize how much I did not see. That is one of the down side of cruises. You might visit a lot of places but often you do not see very much at any one place. The excursions are only a moment in time. They are a tease.

Posted by
8340 posts

BostonPhil, I have to agree with you about shore excursions/cruises. I always consider them to be "samplers" of a port or country. It may not be as much as one would like, but for many it is the option that works with their situation best. The question becomes is it better to see at least a "taste" or "sample" then not to see anything at all? I vote some travel is better than no travel. :)

Posted by
1916 posts

Agreed Carol

Still sometimes I realize just how little I saw. I would feel that i saw so much at the time and maybe soon afterwards but then I might do further research like i did today and realize just how little i saw of Oporto but there is only so much that you can see in 5 or so hours, if that.

what I did see was beautiful and I learned some about the history and culture of Portugal. it gives me a base to work from so that i can learn more.

Posted by
4822 posts

I'm glad you added the cruise ship's description of the tour. It makes more sense now. You didn't explore Porto at all, but Braga. Thanks for adding those details.

And that bit about sheltering Jews in the fort I doubt they were referring to sheltering from the Nazis, since Portugal was neutral during WWII.

Posted by
1916 posts

CJean

before we went to Braga, which I found beautiful and loved, we went to Guimaraes. Where is Guimaraes? Is it a separate city or is it in Oporto?

And back to sheltering Jews. Even though Portugal, the country, was neutral in WW11, isn't it possible that some private citizens hid Jews in the church or the fort.

I could not hear the guide very well because I had to sit down on a rock.

Posted by
11127 posts

Guimares is in the the Minho region and was Portugal’s original capital city. It is a wonderful place to visit. We spent three wonderful nights there. I hope you get a chance to visit it in the future.
You were very brave to go on this trip with your disability. I hope you can get your knee surgery as soon as possible and get traveling again! Thanks so much for writing this trip report.

Posted by
4822 posts

"And back to sheltering Jews. Even though Portugal, the country, was neutral in WW11, isn't it possible that some private citizens hid Jews in the church or the fort"

Why would they need to hide out? Those who lived in Portugal were safe there. Those who were either repatriated during the war or who escaped there from other parts of Europe were safe once there. Although, those refugees who did not have transit visas could be held under house arrest until they could arrange onward passage to the US or Latin America.

You might want to read up on Portugal and the Holocaust.

Posted by
1916 posts

In doing my post cruise research, I discovered that we visited Sanctuary of Our Lady Sameiro in Braga.

Great views and architecture.

And a short walk away would be where we ate lunch.

Edit and added

After lunch, we headed towards Braga Center

We visited a very old and magnificent cathedral and then was given a short walking tour. After the short walking tour, we had some free time to shop or get something to eat and to meet back at the monument that dominated the street we were on. .

It was Sunday and most of the shops were closed but one man did purchase a really beautiful tablecloth and six napkins. The colors were very rich and vibrant with designs representing Portugal. However another person on my excursion was unable to get into the shop because the line was so long.

So if you are going to be there only on a Sunday, know that most of the shops will be closed. We had no choice but you might have

Myself, I sat on a chair relaxing and people watching. It was a very pleasant and beautiful place to be.

From here, we went back to the ship. This had been a good excursion but given that it was only a few
hours, we actually did not see very much when it is all said and done. Still I am glad that I got to see a little of Braga.

In re-reading the description of my excursion as provided by NCL, I now realize that we did not go to to Bom Jesus Sanctuary. That is probably because we were about one hour late in leaving the ship. Our tour guide told us that something had to be eliminated and unfortunately it turned out to br Bom Jesus Sanctuary. That is really too bad.

Posted by
1916 posts

isn31c

strange how things happen on line -- all kinds of mysterious things.

I have been doing research about the Jews being sheltered in Guimares

I know that I heard the guide talk about Jews being sheltered or hidden at the fort / palace / castle in Guimares but I missed a lot. This would be where the first King of Portugal had lived back when. Was it King Alfonso I?

And this was a problem during this and other excursions.

In this case, the guide spoke very good English but still had a strong accent so there was a language barrier.

Because I had difficulty keeping up with the group, When I finally did catch up, I was at the very back of the group with much bigger people in front of me. I could not always hear what the guide said or hear it well. Often I could not even see the guide.

I confess to having mild loss of hearing due to age.

Plus I often had to find a place to sit down because of my knee problems.

So during the guide talking about the castle / fort, I missed a lot. I do remember him talking about Jews being hidden there but I missed some of what he was talking about.

And then he would start moving or walking fast?? with others following him also walking fast and me way behind right from the get go. Were they walking fast or was it just that I was very slow.

I was afraid that this would happen with a guided tour. I had trouble keeping up and this was a very nice group who helped take care of me.

So I have been doing my research and not finding the information

I have sent an email to a Jewish paper in Porto and we will see if I get. a response back.. Unfortunately the Jewish Synagogue in Porto was just vandalized because of the Israel - Gaza situation.

I accessed the links that you sent me. I think they look like the information that I have alrewady accessed doing my own research.

But thank you for being so helpful to me

Posted by
1916 posts

About my doing research.

I do do a lot of research before taking a trip. This includes doing my own searches online, youtube videos. movies and tv shows, and forum.

I send for information if available

But I do not make notes. I assume that i will be given visitor information or can find visitor information during my travels. And that is not always the case.

I really screwed up in Bruges.

During my sightseeing, there is often a lot of information available such as visiting museums and other sites.

And then I take excursions. The tour guides are a wealth of information.

But it does not stop when I come home. I then continue the research. This is my post cruise research and this is where and when I learn about what I have seen and where I have been.

This is how I learn. it may not work for others but it works for me.

I do not just go to see a place or a picture or a monument. I go to learn. And I do.

I know so much more now than before I began my pre cruise research. Perhaps my excursions are only a speck of sand on the beach but I still now know some about this place and that place. I have seen places and heard about places that I would have no knowledge of if I had not traveled to these places.

And so I am now doing my post cruise research.

When it comes to Oporto. I realize how much I saw and did but had no idea of what i had really seen. And so I am continuing to learn with my post cruise research.

Posted by
6274 posts

But I do not make notes. I assume that i will be given visitor information or can find visitor information during my travels. And that is not always the case. I really screwed up in Bruges.

Bostonphil, I agree that it is much easier to gather and keep information about your travels before you go, rather than hope or expect that there will be information at the actual sight. For one thing, even if there is information, it takes time to go to a tourist info office and get it. Sometimes you have to wait in line. Or walks a ways to find the TIC. It involves time that could be better spent enjoying a beautiful historic cathedral or lovely market square.

Have you seen Pam's thread about Trip Research? https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/how-do-you-organize-your-trip-research If not, it would be worth checking out. I understand it might be a little overwhelming as some/many/most of us tend to geek out a bit over trip research. 😊 That said, you could still pick up a few things from it.

BUT one of the easiest and best things you can do is to write down your information ahead of time.

One simple way of doing this is to ask a question on this forum. After you get responses, jot down the ideas/tips you like on a piece of paper. Then when you have time, open a new document (I use Google docs but there are other similar applications) and type the notes in there (or just copy and paste the info right from the forum post). Then keep that document handy on your laptop, and as you acquire more information, add to it. You can do this with guidebook information as well. For example, if you know you are going to Bruges, look for the section in the book, make notes of the places you want to see (and can, in the time you have), then add that to the document. Maybe add a note about the location.

As the time goes by, read through it occasionally. Cull it as necessary. There will be notes in there that you may decide you no longer need, so delete them. Not only does that keep it up to date, but reading it occasionally helps to reinforce these places in your memory so you don't forget them later. And I can vouch for that--I've found my memory gets worse as I age, and this really does help to keep you on track with your research.

When you are getting closer to departure, go through your document and sort it by destination. For example, put all the notes for Bruges together, then all the notes for London together, and so on. Separate them online into different sections. Before you leave, print them all out. That way when you take your port excursion to Bruges, for example, you just grab the Bruges section and all the info is right there.

One other thing--I don't know if you have a smartphone. If you do, then as many others here have mentioned, get familiar with Google maps. It will give you everything you need to find places when traveling. That is the number one application that most of us use.

If you do not have a smartphone, then I would find some maps online and print them out, so that you have them to refer to when you visit each destination. You can purchase them at TICs (and sometimes get them for free) but again that takes time, and sometimes you need a map to find the TIC. So it's always going to be better to have some kind of map (even if it's just a photocopy of the city map in a Rick Steves' guidebook) with you before you head off on your excursion.

That would be the simple basics of trip research, in my opinion. Obviously there is more you can do. In fact, once you start with this basic research, you might find that you like it so much, you will geek out as much as the rest of us and start using all kinds of tools to plan your trips. 😊

Posted by
1916 posts

Thank you Mardee

You have been very helpful to me. I hope that you might continue to be if and when I plan my next trip.

I have a smart phone but it is an Android and I have difficulty with it. I was trained on an iPhone but when my 5c died, I could not afford to buy a new one and had to go with a less expensive Samsung Galaxy. I miss the iPhone I use my Galaxy for phone calls and text messages.

I do have an iPad and like that. I am going to try to set up folders of the various places lthat I might be visiting (like Bruges) for the next trip. I am most unhappy with my screw up at Bruges.

I will check out Pam's thread.

I appreciate that you and others have been so patient with me.

Posted by
1916 posts

Throughout this trip, many others and I mean many were very kind to me. It was obvious that I was struggling sometimes and people would come over and take my suitcase and help me with it, This would be when i was going to and from airports and hotels

Or they would take my arm or give me their arm when I was going up or down stairs..

It was very touching but it was also sad. I remember when it was not so obvious that I needed assistance some of the time.

It is somewhat embarrassing to be in a position where you need help.

But I remind myself that while it is a blessing to help others it is an equal blessing to allow others to help you.

I still see myself as very independent but now needing a little help from friends and strangers.

Posted by
1916 posts

LISBON

I believe that I am ready to move on and write about Lisbon where we disembarked. I would spend four nights in Lisbon before flying back to Austin.

For me the arrival into Lisbon and trying to get to my hotel was not very pleasant.

We arrived at 4 a.m. For some reason, I thought that we were arriving at 7 a.m.I had planned to take my
time leaving the ship after having breakfast but that was not to be

Because I had opted to carry my luggage off, I had to be in the first group leaving the ship.

I was off the ship and standing on ground before 6 a.m. it was pitch black. It was cold and raining, even pouring at times.

And I had no idea where to go.

It would turn out that it was a relatively short and pleasant walk to my hotel from the port but not in the darkness and the cold rain.

I managed to find a bus that took me close to Rue Augusta and the bus driver pointed the way. I had no way to pay so the bus driver took pity on a wet old American and let me ride free.

I showed up at my hotel about 7 a.m. I was very early and I was wet. We stored my luggage and he told me that he would send me a text message when my room was ready.

My hotel was on the main drag in between Rossio Square and Praca do Comericio. For me, it was a great location. So I walked to Rossio Square, then down to Praca do Comericio.

I people watched and watched birds and took pictures. Rossio Square is great and so is Praca do Comericio. You could spend a lot of time at either place.

I ate but do not remember where I ate. It was one of the many cafes on Rue Augusta.

Never got my text message so i went back to the hotel at 2 pm and I was told that they had sent me my text message three hours earlier through What's App.

My luggage was in my room. it was a nice room right on the street and I was concerned abut noise but the street shuts down by night time

Lisbon was very crowded and this was the end of October. I think that It could be very unpleasant because of the crowds during the season.

it rained every day that i was there, sometimes briefly but other times, it poured. Other times it was dry and the sun might come out for short periods of time. I do not know if this is typical weather for Lisbon or not.

The hotel had a really excellent continental breakfast mostly cold but with scrambled eggs and sausages and bacon. It was a very good breakfast that came with the price of the room. There were lots of Portuguese Pastries.

I sort of wasted the first full day. I mainly repeated what i had done the day before going to Praca do Comericio and then to Rossio Square.

There is a visitor center around Praca do Comericio.. There is a lot of printed information on the wall and one or two persons at a desk who could help but the line was very long. And this was the end of October. again, i can not imagine how long the line may be during the season but perhaps there are more staff to assist.

There is so much to do on and around both Rossio Square, Praca do Comericio., and Rue Augusta . you could spend all day watching people and wildlife, going shopping, eating museums, exploring. I loved it.

However in looking back i wish that i had done more on my first full day like go to the brand new art museum or another museum. I never got to any of the museums.

I did get to Sintra and walked some along the path leading to the top but knew that I could only go so far. It was beautiful and there was art. There is a city shuttle that takes you up to the top but Sintra was very crowded and I did not want to deal with the crowds.

The next day I went to Belem and that was also crowded but less so than Sintra and there was a whole lot of space at Belem. the line was so long at the Monastery that i chose not to even attempt to stand in line.

Posted by
1916 posts

Continuing with LISBON

There is a pretty decent cafeteria at Belem and I ate there. The cafeteria is part of a nice gift store

Across from the cafeteria is a Museum about Navigation. I did not go in but there were no lines or very short lines and there was also a planetarium in the vicinity which I did not check out. I think that it may only be open evenings.

Sintra and Belem are both fabulous and if possible not to be missed places.

I have.an old friend from my San Francisco days who i had not seen since the 1960's. She lives in Lagos Portugal and came up to eat with me the last day that i was in Lisbon.

I found a beauty shop and had a nice massage. i discovered what appeared to be a wonderful Indian Restaurant but did not have time to eat there. I was on my way to meet my friend at Rossio Station.

We connected and it was wonderful. She looks great.

We went looking for a place to eat and found one that she liked . It was a restaurant in a hotel and I remember the hotel had the name Brown in it. it was a sort of elegant place, very interesting. It had lots of books on fashion distributed around the entire restaurant. It seemed very British. My friend is British but after retiring, she and her husband chose to permanently relocate to Lagos. According to my friend, this restaurant / hotel ws not art of the Brown Collection.

I had soup here and I would have a really good cup of coffee here.

My friend had. a favorite hotel in Lisbon and she had rented a room there. After eating, i walked her to the main rail station so that she could get her transport back to the hotel.

It was so touching and so wonderful that she had come up from Lagos to eat with me.

The highlights of my entire trip was seeing a very old friend in London, meeting my cousin in London for the first time and seeing this old friend n Lisbon. It was wonderful.

And the next day I was to leave Lisbon and what a journey it was. I will attempt to write about it maybe tomorrow or the next day.

Posted by
1916 posts

thank you isn31c

I will wait a day or two and then email the other two links.

I will keep you updated.

Posted by
1478 posts

bostonphil,
I am enjoying your trip report. I have bad knees that become problematic during travel. I find that my favorite part of travel is the pre-trip planning, then second is the reflection after the trip (what you are doing now) and thirdly is the trip. Of course the trip is fabulous, but it is also difficult. I hope that you hold on to the positive memories and remember the negative ones only long enough to learn from them.

Posted by
1916 posts

vandrabrud

you are so correct in what you said.

Re my knees. They are a problem at home and when traveling. I am seeing my doctor next month and we will go from there. I need a new right knee and am not mentally ready to deal with it.

Posted by
6274 posts

Thank you Mardee. You have been very helpful to me. I hope that you might continue to be if and when I plan my next trip. I have a smart phone but it is an Android and I have difficulty with it. I was trained on an iPhone but when my 5c died, I could not afford to buy a new one and had to go with a less expensive Samsung Galaxy. I miss the iPhone I use my Galaxy for phone calls and text messages. I do have an iPad and like that. I am going to try to set up folders of the various places lthat I might be visiting (like Bruges) for the next trip. I am most unhappy with my screw up at Bruges.

BP, I'm more than happy to help you, and I know there are many others here who would as well. I'm sure it was frustrating for you not to be able to enjoy all the sites you had read about and spent so much money to get to.

You can access Google maps with a Samsung Galaxy. In fact, because Samsungs are Android phones (created by Google), you will probably get a better experience with Google maps on your Samsung Galaxy than an iPhone. But when you are ready to learn how to use it, just post something here and we can help with your questions. Also with the iPad - let us know if you need help setting up folders.

For what it's worth, I have 3 different types of ways to save information. 1) Bookmark online sites for later. I use Chrome most of the time, but all browsers have methods for bookmarking websites. In Chrome, you can go into Bookmark Manager to organize your bookmarks and put them in folders. 2) Save information in Google docs and spreadsheets, like I explained above. 3) Save documents (i.e., maps, PDFs, and anything similar) to my files, like you were talking about.

Posted by
5674 posts

As a for instance, putting the cart before the horse- now would be a good time to start to research how to get from Ben Gurion airport to your hotel in Tel Aviv, then from Tel Aviv to Haifa Port (assuming that circumstances in the middle east allow Haifa to be used as an embarkation port), similarly for Istanbul Cruise Port (disembarkation port), for next years cruise.

The way I personally would do it (and others will have their own ways) before I had even booked the cruise would be-
Look at the Ben Gurion airport website (note the url down) and the Israeli railways website and establish ways into Tel Aviv (probably the train, but maybe other ways), then find a hotel which matches a railway station, and is within budget.

I would then know that it is the same station for my train to Haifa.

I would then find the website for Haifa Port which tells me that Haifa Centre HaShmona station is across the street from the port, then check and note the train timetable for guidance (and much later checking for changes). Then check the port statement about proximity of the port on google maps, to verify that it is right.

I would sketch plan Istanbul similarly before I had booked the cruise, and also the route from Istanbul city to the airport.

So I have written first and last page of my plan really early, to avoid any problems.

Then I can build my pre cruise stay plan, researching city transit. Then my post cruise plan.

Then I would build my sketch plan for each cruise port of call, to avoid later surprises.

Personally I do all of that before booking the cruise.

I am doing a similar process currently for a land trip to the US in Fall 2025- doing due diligence first. That has already thrown up real surprises (like a change of both inward and return US airports). But doing the due diligence now means that if the opportunity arose to do that trip earlier (like next week!, or next spring more likely) I could move really fast in a few days.

Posted by
3099 posts

Bostonphil: regarding learning about your phone and I-Pad, local libraries often offer free tuition or actual classes about learning about your electronics.
Also, check with your local Senior’s Centres, they often offer the same services.
It’s easier to learn in person!
We have something here called Elder College offering free or nearly free, classes for seniors.

Posted by
696 posts

Bostonphil.....I am very appreciative of your honesty in talking about your trip.....what went wrong, what went right. I read your post all at once and was very upset by the tone of some of the responses to you. People have different skill sets, and many of us ,while getting advice, find it difficult to follow. I know that I ave read many things on this site, pictured the place, train in my mind and then was completely wrong when I got there..a 'oh that's what they meant' moments.
Let's try to be a little less judgemental please. If you gave advice and it wasn't followed, no need to rub that in. Also, I just did a cruise line different from NCL and had the same issue as reported here....no map, excursions going to site when closed. When you are paying for something, it is a reasonable expectation that the fact that the site is closed be given. Should not have to goggle it.
And, let's try to remember that this is supposed to be fun and light.
Bostonphil...I admire your persistence and can emphasize how hard it is to travel in pain and alone.

Posted by
1916 posts

isn31c

I think that I am going to change my cruise.

I find the Tel Aviv to Istanbul a little too complicated for me to deal with right now. Norwegian has planned this cruise the worst possible time. It sails from Haifa in-between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I would be flying in during the Sabbath and as your probably know, there is no public transportation during the Sabbath and El Al does not fly those days.

I am thinking a simpler cruise like beginning and ending in Barcelona and :

There is one that sails from Paris (Le Harve) to Barcelona and would include Bruges, Bordeaux and La Coruna and Oporto with others that I have not been to. I want to make Bruges and Bordeaux right. I never got to La Coruna because of the storm and I most definitely would love to do something else in Oporto.

But I would be flying into Paris and of course have to spend a few days. Then find my way to Le Harve and at the end of the cruise want to spend a few days in Barcelona before flying home.

Sounds complicated though, doesn't it?

I believe that we now have a non stop to Paris like once a week. For Barcelona, I would have to make a stop.

Right now, I do not have the energy to plan another cruise. I may have to do a simple last minute cruise .

I also have to deal with my arthritic knee.

And to complicate things further I have certificates that are non refundable and have to be used by mid 2025 or I lose my money.

Posted by
1916 posts

S J

I am good with my iPad and have Apple Care. I can always turn to them for help

Spectrum is my service provider for my phone and they offer support but I would like classes on how to use an Android. I may call Spectrum and see if they can suggest classes.

Posted by
5674 posts

I think some of us here would breathe a sigh of relief if you cancelled that particular cruise.

What we would prefer is for you to get back to fitness first, and then look at a last minute option. I think it was Mardee who commented that your time frame between proposed operation and October was on the tight side, to be certain of the success of the operation.

The UK NHS website says you should not be lifting anything heavy for at least 3 months afterwards.

Oporto in particular sounds like unfinished business for you, let alone Bruges.

You'll know your local airport better than me (clearly) but the AUS website seems to be saying that the only European non stops are Frankfurt, London and Amsterdam.

If you did Le Havre to Barcelona you could fly into LHR again, another night or two in London, then Eurostar to Paris and on to Le Havre on the regular train service. Yes you have to change stations in Paris, but you can learn the journey mapping tools, and our French colleagues will ensure you know how to do that. But that is for the future.

Posted by
696 posts

Reading your thoughts about future cruises....I haven't posted my trip report yet but under Lessons learned for us: will be looking at cruises which feature great scenery so the cruise itself is the main attraction. Will also be looking very closely at the ports of call. Frankly,when you are mobility challenged and can't just do the port tours,it is exhausting to figure out each port. So may look at cruises that have fewer ports of call. We do river cruises and like those .
I do think that the cruise lines need to acknowledge that their client base is aging and start to make accommodations for that. I suggested to our director having a minibus tour which would take people to Center of town and then back to ship with a short tour of main attraction.

Posted by
1916 posts

Dianejay

I am going to look forward to your trip report.

I wish they would offer excursions for persons who are slower -- still can walk but are slow.

I would prefer not to take an excursion where you only sit on the bus.

Like the mini bus idea but that would probably be pricey.

Posted by
1916 posts

isn31c

you are correct. There is not yet a non stop from Austin to Paris but I wonder if one may be coming in the future. I thought that i saw that one was coming but maybe it was Austin to Amsterdam.

I am not yet ready for surgery but if I have to have it I will and I can use my recovery to plan the next cruise.

Posted by
1916 posts

i have been thinking about my cruise and there are some things that I would like to add before I continue.

Federico García Lorca at Santiago

Federico García Lorca is a famous Spanish writer. He was a poet, playwright, and musician who was born in Granada, Spain in 1898. He was a leading figure in the Spanish avant-garde movement and is considered one of the most important Spanish-language poets of the 20th century.

When in Santiago, I stumbled into an exhibit of him and his works. I had never heard about Lorca until then and now I have learned more about him.

Lisbon, Portugal

I want to add that Lisbon has excellent public transportation. There is a train station in Rossio Square as well a Metro Station. Buses and trams are everywhere

There is either a train or metro station (or both) near Praca de Comercio as well as buses and trams.

And there is a very large train station right in the middle of both of them off of Rua Augusta. . This is where I got my train to go to the airport.

Norwegian Cruise Line

The cruise ship industry still has not recovered from Covid. Staffing might still be a problem.

I have read on other forums that NCL no longer offers Broadway Musicals and other first class entertainment on their large ships. This is a shame if true because NCL was known for being #1 in the cruise industry when it came to entertainment.

When I have sailed in the past, I usually got at least one bottle of wine and chocolate covered strawberries because I am gold. I did not get anything this time.

There is a private party every cruise for those gold and higher. In the past we have had a choice of cocktails but this time, all that was offered was wine or beer.

In the past, we got snacks but they were not offered this time.

These are just edits to what I have previously been writing about.

Posted by
3745 posts

BostonPhil, you wrote, several posts up:
"Right now, I do not have the energy to plan another cruise. I may have to do a simple last minute cruise.
I also have to deal with my arthritic knee.

And to complicate things further I have certificates that are non refundable and have to be used by mid 2025 or I lose my money."

About your last sentence; Norwegian has several Transatlantic cruises.
I am looking at one that leaves from Miami and arrives into Southampton for next year.
Might I suggest you take a Transatlantic cruise to use up your certificates, then spend a week or 10 days in London and other parts of England. You could stay near Victoria Station In London and finish up seeing some sights you missed the first time.
Then, once you get out of London and into the countryside, hotels are much cheaper. B&B's even more so.
Fly home from England.

I think this would be a very good trip.
I would temporarily stop letting your travel agent book you automatically on inexpensive cruise deals that come up.
At least until your knee is taken care of.

Posted by
1916 posts

Hello Rebecca

Well since I posted about not having the energy to think about another cruise, I have recovered from lack of energy and now am looking another cruise.

I am looking at a Mediterranean cruise that will leave from and return to Barcelona. Or another cruise that I am looking at is a West Coast Cruise that leaves from Vancouver and goes to San Diego.

I have gotten excited about another cruise. Excitement is back.

But my knee. I have started to use a cane and it is so helpful. My balance is better and there is less pain. I thought that the less pain was in my head but I did research and that can happen because the cane helps to take pressure off of the knee. I have a four pronged cane coming this week. I wish that I had not been too vain to use a cane on my last cruise.

I do not have a travel agent. I have a Personal Cruise Consultant (PCC) who works for Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and does what I ask him to do. I decide what cruise I want to go on and call him to book me. He gets me perks. He advises me. He is a big help.

I have also been looking at a Transatlantic but think that the next one is going to be a Mediterranean or a West Coast Cruise.

I am sort of locked into traveling either April, May, September or October for right now.

Posted by
3745 posts

BostonPhil, glad to hear the cane is helping to take some of the load off of your knee.
Ah, I see, about your Personal Cruise Consultant.
I hope you enjoy your next cruise.
That Mediterranean cruise sounds good to me.
P.S. I have a sister with a bad knee who uses a walker. It has "scoot along" wheels on it. She says it has worked wonders for her knee.
She has other bone problems, too.
She is only 65 years old.

Posted by
8340 posts

Boston Phil, here is a cruise for you to consider. Azamara (a small ship luxury cruise line) 7 day cruise "Italy Intensive", Departs Rome May 11th and goes to Nice in France. A solo traveler such as yourself can currently book an Oceanview Cabin for $2300 and receive $1000 in onboard credit. That credit would pay for a shore excursion in every port and they have quite a variety of shore excursions. All drinks and gratuities are included in the base price.

I know you like Norwegian, but maybe it is time for a change? This is a very good price for a solo traveler.

Posted by
5674 posts

I like the look of the Pacific Coastal Cruise- Vancouver,British Columbia, Astoria,Oregon, San Francisco,California, Santa Barbara,California, Ensenada,Mexico, San Diego,California, Los Angeles,California

50% off at the moment with FAS included, and a $250 air fare credit.

A good range of ports- Astoria, OR has a nice range of shore excursions. A city which is very much on my list of places to visit. That's the kind of repositioning itinerary I like.

Posted by
32699 posts

50% off at the moment with FAS included

ok for those non-cruisers reading along, what is an FAS when it is at home?

Posted by
5674 posts

ok for those non-cruisers reading along, what is an FAS when it is at home?

Free at Sea. A unique thing to NCL- normally you pay extra for the package which gives you all your drinks, basic wifi, speciality dining and a $50 credit on a shore excursion at each port. For boston phil, being American, she pays 18% gratuities on drinks (so they are not technically free, for UK citizens those 18% gratuities are included in Northern Europe).

It's an amazing price at the moment. Because of the gratuities and that there is never an excursion for $50 or less it's true worth is a matter of hot debate, normally.

I looked at the Astoria shore excursions (that's a port I really want to do)- they are a much better price than NCL normally charge and I would be spoilt for choice there- but know the one I would have to do if I was able to be there- the classic Lewis and Clark trail.

Posted by
6274 posts

Nigel, I think it means "Free at Sea." It's offered by NCL and is basically a package of free perks.

Posted by
6274 posts

For boston phil, being American, she pays 18% gratuities on drinks.

Can you pack some wine in your luggage?

Posted by
4822 posts

Can you pack some wine in your luggage?

On most other lines you can bring a bottle of wine on board with you. Not so on NCL, where they expect you to pay for just about everything. Free at Sea is totally misnamed. It's not free at all- you are paying for the things included, just at a reduced rate.

Posted by
5674 posts

Can you pack some wine in your luggage?

Yes, but NCL say on their FAQ that you get charged corkage of $15 a bottle, unless you have a beverage package, like free at sea- they have you every which way. The corkage applies even if you drink the wine in your stateroom.

Posted by
1916 posts

I am not much of a drinker.

The bottle of wine left me on my bed was a perk because I was gold or whatever but I did not get any bottles of wine this time. NCL has been forced to cut back or is choosing to cut back.

I have never opened the bottle while at sea and usually just take it home. I am allowed to do this because it has not been opened.

Posted by
1916 posts

Nigel

Free At Sea is not exactly free.

If you take the drink package, you have to still pay very high gratuities per day. Same with the dinner package. If you take the so called free excursions, you get $50 off of a NCL shore excursion. You get one per cabin not per person. As for the so called free wi fi, I got a few free hours my last cruise which only lasted a few days and then I had to buy more internet or go without. I bought unlimited internet for the last three or four days and it was ony about $40.00.

You have to read the fine print.

Posted by
507 posts

bostonphil, May I say it’s good you are trying out a cane and noticing it helps. Lots of folks don’t realize that a walking aid can improve mobility and assist with increased independence (retired hospital SW who dealt with this with patients for years). Plus pain really sucks the energy out of us.

Great to hear you are exploring some cruise ideas after your brief respite from the topic. I do hope you can get your knee surgery first and that it makes a difference.

You could do worse than start a cruise in Vancouver! 😁

Posted by
1916 posts

isn31c and Carol

I am already booked for Haifa to Istanbul for October 2024 but I think I am going to change the cruise because of the current situation. I do not believe it is going to be much better by next October.

I have already put down a $500 deposit which is non refundable but I can move it to any other cruise.

I do not know if I will be available for the current promotion because I have a cruise already booked. It is not a new booking

I like the Vancouver to San Diego. Have never been to Vancouver and would be during the fall colors. Astoria looks very interesting. I lived in San Francisco but have not been back since 1984 and it will be interesting to return as a tourist. I have never been to Santa Barbara. I have been to San Diego once and would like to return. And have not been to Ensenada.

But I like the Mediterranean leaving from Barcelona also. I hear wonderful things about Barcelona. Everyone loves it and the itinerary is very good.

I am going to call my cruise consultant this week.

Posted by
1916 posts

isn31c

you mentioned Lewis and Clark

Amtrak has a route from Chicago to Seattle that follows the Lewis and Clark exploration. It also goes Seattle to Chicago.

It is supposed to be one of Amtrak's most beautiful routes or the most beautiful one.

I have not taken this one myself

Posted by
5674 posts

The Empire Builder. Interestingly Amtrak have recently more than halved sleeper class fares, and it has actually become an affordable splurge now. Whether that is temporary or permanent I don't know.
If following L and C probably the Portland, OR section of the train is the more authentic.

And you call at Rugby, Glasgow, Malta and Essex on the way!

I love the idea of flying into either O'Hare or more likely MSP, then doing the train across, or the other way round.

Plans, plans....

Posted by
1916 posts

isn31c

If you take Amtrak, I strongly suggest a sleeper.

I have traveled Amtrak many times going from one end of the country to the next. I have never had a sleeper and it can get unpleasant at times traveling coach.

I do not know if this is still true but a sleeper includes all your meals and everything that you want. I remember the food being pretty ok

I took Amtrak from San Francisco to Denver and it was very beautiful I think that i also took Amtrak party up the west coast and it was also beautiful.

I guess if you want a truly authentic experience, you can travel coach but I recommend against it.

I am going to check out the Empire Builder I know the name but do not know if I have traveled the route.

Posted by
8340 posts

I hate to disillusion anyone on taking the train, but you need to know that by the time it reaches the West Coast it is often hours late due to allowing freight trains to pass it. Don't schedule anything for the same day or even the following day of arrival times. You go through Glacier National Park in the night and I would not really say that the route follows that of Lewis and Clark very closely.

It is also probably more expensive than flying from Austin to the West Coast.

Posted by
5674 posts

I've done the Californian Zephyr, the South West Chief, the Coast Starlight, the Cascades from Vancouver BC to Seattle, most of the Capitols service, as well as the private railroads- the Cumbres and Toltec, the Durango and Silverton, Pikes Peak, Grand Canyon and the Georgetown Loop, parts of the Chicago El and the Los Angeles metro, Denver Light Rail, Santa Clara Light Rail, also large parts of the San Francisco MUNI and the BART (and of course the Cable Cars), most of CalTrain and parts of the Chicago Metra network.
But nothing east of Chicago.

Posted by
14499 posts

Taking Amtrak I do quite often in the course of a year., the longest route being Oakland to Los Angeles, the duration depends on doing the direct route , ie 12 hours, or one that requires a transfer either in Bakersfield or Santa Barbara.

One ride on the west coast on Amtrak is a possible "bucker list " destination, ie going to Seattle. A sleeper would not be necessary. If I can do without a sleeper taking the OeBB Night Jet on a 9-12 hour ride, I certainly won't need that on Amtrak.

Very interesting observing the sociologically differences one sees in Amtrak passengers.

Posted by
1916 posts

Carol

I think that some people choose to take Amtrak so as to see the country and not to get anywhere faster or to save money.

I realize that some beautiful places are often during the night but other times really beautiful places are during daylight.

I wish that we had better rail service as well as long distance bus service

Posted by
3745 posts

I am enjoying this thread and the conversation very much. It makes me want to take a couple of Amtrak trips and a cruise in the spring.

"I've done the Californian Zephyr, the South West Chief, the Coast Starlight, the Cascades from Vancouver BC to Seattle, most of the Capitols service, as well as the private railroads- the Cumbres and Toltec, the Durango and Silverton, Pikes Peak, Grand Canyon and the Georgetown Loop, parts of the Chicago El and the Los Angeles metro, Denver Light Rail, Santa Clara Light Rail, also large parts of the San Francisco MUNI and the BART (and of course the Cable Cars), most of CalTrain and parts of the Chicago Metra network.
But nothing east of Chicago."

Wow, it all sounds great!

Posted by
1916 posts

what's stopping you, Rebecca?

If you travel Amtrak, I suggest a sleeper if you are going any distance.

Posted by
5674 posts

Rebecca,

What indeed is stopping you? And, why wait until the spring? I did the Canadian in deep winter, and that was wonderful scenically -part of a Halifax to SFO (and on to the Indian Pacific, in Australia) rail journey. I would imagine that any of the transcontinental Amtrak routes would be equally good in the winter. And less busy.

I may have been lucky, but mile for mile, my delay statistics are no worse on Amtrak than on UK railways where I expect a minute delay for every 9.5 miles travelled, as a long term mean. I have even been early on Amtrak.

The next routes firmly in my eyesight are The Empire Builder (probably eastbound, ending at MSP, or SPM to Amtrak), and the Snoqualmie Valley Railroad. If I could do that tomorrow I would.
I say eastbound (the current plan), but for the purposes of my trip, westbound would be the more authentic direction. Then fly the other way.

Posted by
6274 posts

Yeah, Rebecca, take Amtrak up to the north west and pick up me on the way!

Posted by
1916 posts

If you are a solo who wants one of the sleepers , you can call Amtrak and get a better price than if you were booking online and had to pay for two. Amtrak will give you a price for one person

I do not know if that is true during this special sale

Posted by
3745 posts

Hello, I finally came back to this thread and saw that people are talking to me about Amtrak.
I am looking forward to traveling on Amtrak! Nothing is holding me back except I prefer to travel in warm weather, so I can do some walks at destinations along the way. I'm not much of a winter travel person.
For me, winter is a good time for R and R; reading and research for my spring and summer trips.
Thanks for all the good tips from everyone!
Yes, I will call Amtrak if I don't see what I need online.
Thanks for that advice.

I will probably take some trips in Florida first. Have always wanted to arrive in Miami by train.
Then probably back up the line through Virginia (beautiful scenery) to Washington, D.C. for a few days to see museums.
Next I will hit the midwest and then head to the west coast to ride the trains along the California coast.
OK Mardee, I will come by and get you!!
Have you ever wanted to ride the Californian Zephyr and the Coast Starlight?
CA Zephyr from Chicago to Sacramento.
Coast Starlight, Sacramento (have friends there) south to LA, turn around and travel back north, ending in Seattle.
Then rental car to travel to Edmonds; visit the Rick Steves store, shop, and headquarters.
Fly home.

Posted by
6274 posts

OK Mardee, I will come by and get you!!
Have you ever wanted to ride the Californian Zephyr and the Coast Starlight?

Oh yes!!

Posted by
3745 posts

OK, the end point will be Edmonds, which is a cool little town, say those who have visited there.

Posted by
5674 posts

Or, as I would, I would go those few last miles by Amtrak to Edmonds Station- either on the Empire Builder or on the Cascades service to Vancouver BC. In my case my freshly minted plan says on the Sounder commuter train, but it's the same difference.

Just the way my transit oriented mind works- if I've gone several thousand miles to get somewhere by public transit I will end the journey the same way.
To me there would be something just a bit surreal in taking a long distance train like the Empire Builder one stop up the line!

I always fancied doing the Sunset Limited, all the way from Orlando to LAX before Hurricane Katrina swept the tracks away, then the service was permanently curtailed to New Orleans after the line was rebuilt, so that was the end of that.

Posted by
3745 posts

"Or, as I would, I would go those few last miles by Amtrak to Edmonds Station- either on the Empire Builder or on the Cascades service to Vancouver BC."

Thanks isn31c! Will do!

Posted by
8340 posts

If the train schedules from Seattle to Edmonds don’t match with your incoming journey, there are good transit options available. I live about 15-20 minutes from Edmonds. If you are really coming, PM me……