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Final Thoughts and Grateful Thanks November 3, 2009

Posted by Kathy Bax in Uncategorized.
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We are SO FORTUNATE to be the guests of The Stirling Club of Las Vegas and the Charlie Palmer Group. This opportunity is unprecedented. After talking to many people here, this is obviously the top cruise line and the top yacht in their line. I now understand why cruising is a wonderful way to see the world. You have a home base and food and comfort while exploring the exotic places of the world.
We are on the younger edge of the cruise population here. There are a few 30-somethings…but most people are older than us. There is at least one person who chooses to live on a cruise ship for most of the year. I can see that. The people are delightful and there is no shortage of activities available.
The staff is stellar. No Americans on staff; I heard because of regulatory issues. Everything is top notch. The cuisine. Well, Charlie Palmer is amazing. The food is 5-star all the time. We were totally impressed by the chef, Graeme. The variety of food is incredible as well. I described earlier the shopping trip to the Barcelona market. All the ingredients are fresh and top-drawer.
Thank you Stirling Club and Charlie Palmer Group for this unforgettable cruise. Thank you Kathleen Gustafson for your help!!

Seabourn Odyssey HallwayThe main restaurantMain restaurantHallway leading to the restaurantThe ship's casinoDeck 6 bar"The Club" Deck 6The Grand StairGrand Salon Deck 5Coffee bar deck 7Colonnade Restaurant Deck 8Colonnade Restaurant Deck 8Restaurant 2Looking down the Grand StairView across Deck 8 & 9 to the SpaObservation Lounge Deck 10Pool, Patio Grill, and SkyBar Decks 8 & 9

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Madrid November 3, 2009

Posted by Kathy Bax in Uncategorized.
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The train ride from Malaga was 2 hours 40 minutes. Fastest speed achieved was 270 kmh. We took a taxi to the Intercontinental Hotel in Madrid. It is very nice, but definitely old, and everything had an extra charge to it, except breakfast which was fantastic. We took the metro to the old part of town. Next time we would choose to stay in the old part. There are broad avenues that are mostly pedestrian. I say mostly because cars are allowed to cross…although that becomes difficult when there are a lot of people. We wandered from Puerta del Sol to Plaza Mayor and got a bite to eat in one of the outdoor cafes. Boy it’s tough to have to pay after a couple of weeks of whatever you want whenever you want without pulling out the wallet.
We decided to go grocery shopping. That was fun. We bypassed the deli counter…my Spanish is too rusty. Everything was packed with people. Apparently it is usually this way. People like to walk around Madrid. Also, since it was Halloween, there were families there with kids in costume. Not that Halloween is big outside the US, but it is there. I heard a news story about a Spanish Archbishop of the Catholic Church urging Catholics not to participate in this commercialized holiday because it would detract from Nov 1 All Souls Day. Interesting. We walked and sat by the central fountain in Puerto del Sol and watched people. It was a very enjoyable evening.
Sunday, Nov 1, 2009
Today was Museo del Prado day! The Prado Museum is famous as one of the premier collections of paintings in the world. It is VERY large. We spent most of the day there and enjoyed it thoroughly. Our favorites included the Flemish school painters (primarily Joachim Patinir) and an amazing bust of Isabella II with a veil! The veil was of course part of the sculpture and incredibly lifelike. But we enjoyed all the paintings. Goyas Black paintings are pretty freaky. I’ll upload some pictures.
We expected to tour the palace and cathedral after that, but they were already closed. I guess we’ll have to return. We spent more time in the continuously crowded squares and then retired to our room for a rest before our long travel day.

Haribo in MadridPlaza MayorKathy enjoying a cerveza in Plaza MayorNightlife Puerta del SolHalloween in MadridPuerta del SolDanny and Kathy hanging out at fountain in Puerta del SolHere's a closeup of that crowded streetCathedral across from the PalaceCloseup of Cathedral domePalace in MadridKathy exhausted on steps of Cathedral after day at Museo del PradoSide of the PalaceCharon Crossing the River Styx
Monday, Nov 2, 2009
What can I say about travelling all day? It was just something to get through. It’s amazing that both our flights were full! We arrived home a little before 10pm and hit the bed. Our odyssey is complete.

Valencia and Malaga Spain November 3, 2009

Posted by Kathy Bax in Uncategorized.
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Valencia, SpainBeautiful administration buildingPretty building in ValenciaBeautiful alabaster frescoe on front of the Theater in ValenciaThe cathedral in ValenciaNave of the Cathedral in ValenciaAltar of the Cathedral in ValenciaMore of the Cathedral in ValenciaThursday, Oct 29, 2009
Valencia, Spain, is a very large port. The city center is a bit far from the dock so we took a shuttle. It was quite warm, finally. It’s been pretty chilly in most of the cities, at least for desert dwellers with thin blood. The Brits were the ones in the pool, mostly. It’s cold in London already, apparently.
By this point on our journey, my feet are perpetually in pain from walking. But we set out again to see what we could see. The buildings are not so grand as in Barcelona, but they are very decorative in style, Empire and Baroque and probably some others I have no names for. Valencia is a very pretty city. The people strolled rather than walk briskly as in Barcelona. The cathedral here was built over a 1,000 year period so there are styles mixed from Romanesque to Baroque. It was built on top of a mosque on top of a pagan temple. They reportedly house the holy grail, according to the literature. Of course it is reputed to be elsewhere as well. We decided not to spend the euros on a tour of the cathedral. We walked around a bit more, and since we were both exhausted we decided to go back aboard ship. We were docked until 11pm. We slept and played backgammon and watched movies. Perfect for that day. In the evening Seabourn brought flamenco dancers aboard for a show. I enjoyed it very much.
Sometimes days of doing nothing are great.

The Flamenco DancersFlamencoAudience participation in Flamenco dancing
Friday, Oct 30, 2009
A day at sea and our last day aboard ship. The chef and crew had a special lunch for us all in the galley. This was the most spectacular array of food ever. Every kind of food one might imagine and vodka shots. Whew. A couple joined us and the gentleman used to work for IBM, like me, and in fact we knew a lot of the same people. He called up one of them right there and I spoke to a colleague I had not seen for 32 years. It’s truly a small world.  Later that afternoon we had a bridge tour.  There are some pictures here.
We had to pack. Sadly.

Vodka shots at the galley lunch last day at seaPart of the galley lunchMore galley lunchSmiles at the galley lunchWhat a lunch!Danny is thoroughly enjoying the galley lunchGalley LunchGalley lunchWhat a handsome galley!The galley lunch extended into the restaurantGalley lunchBaked goods galoreBridge tourSome bridge instrumentationMore bridge instrumentsThey don't need sideview mirrors to see the side of the shipBut they have mirrors too.More bridgeBridge tour
Saturday, Oct 31, 2009
Malaga, Spain. We had to be out of our rooms and off the ship by 9:30 am. So we had a celebratory final glass of champagne, said goodbye to our new friends and exchanged emails with some. We took the shuttle into town and then a taxi to the rail station where we boarded a high-speed train to Madrid.

Malaga Train Station