What a fun-filled jam-packed weekend! Finally we had a few beautiful days and I took full advantage of it.

Saturday I biked the Minuteman Trail (“America’s Most Celebrated Bike Path”) along with Mr. V who rollerbladed the 24 miles proving once again that he is the pillar of physical fitness (except for the fact that I carried his heavy manly-man pack and gave him my much lighter girly-girl pack to carry so he wouldn’t hurt himself) . I had a great time, and it was good to be out in the fresh air for a while. I was bummed to find out that my beloved bike needs some major work done on the gears, so I’ll have to take her in soon for repairs. Or just ride this one into the ground and get a new one. Saaadddd….

I got home with just enough time to shower, change, and get my rock-and-roll mojo on to see Keane with Ann and Dabney. I didn’t know much about Keane and could only recall one song that I heard a few times on the radio. I rarely listen to radio these days (thanks to my Ipod) so new bands easily slip me by. They have just one disk out, so their playlist is pretty limited. There were lots of pauses between songs and they walked off stage to encourage the faux encore after only 30 minutes of play (more about encores in a moment). But they sounded great– amazing just piano and drums, no guitar accompaniment. The evening was warm with a nice breeze and a killer sunset, perfect for an outdoor concert. I wish I had been more familiar with their songs; I realized that concerts are much more fun when you can sing along, preferably at the top of your voice which is exactly what I’ll be doing at the U2 concert next month in Amsterdam.

So about Encores: I don’t like that encores are now built into every concert. I remember going to see Springsteen several years back; after 4 hours (!!) of playing he has every right to just be done with the performance. So when people start demanding the encore, you aren’t really sure if he’ll come back out and do one more song. He’s Tired! He’s Performed Almost Everything! He’s Given Us So Much! BUT we want MORE! The anticipation is thrilling! But when you know the artists will come back out, with an “aww, shucks, sure we’ll give you one more tune (especially in this case where they had only played 10 or so tracks)since you clapped real loud for us”…it seems so… fake. Well, it is.

Sunday was even warmer than the day before so I took a blanket, book, Ipod and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich down to the Esplanade to read, nap and people watch. It was glorious!! It was incredibly relaxing just to sit and enjoy the day. I finished off the day with a date with my favorite 80’s cover band keyboardist at Solas, my favorite little Boston bar. And I swear that it isn’t my favorite Boston bar because the bartender, Sean, is a god-like Adonis of an Irishman. No, that’s not the reason at all.* It was fun to catch up with Mr. Keyboardist, who I hadn’t been out with in a while. Sounds like the band is doing well and will be opening for Cyndi Lauper later this fall– how cool is that?

*Yes, you all know that’s the reason I keep going back. And because he gives me free drinks. A hot bartender and free drinks? Who would say no to that??

The first few days of the trip…

I got on the plane feeling very alone and sad. I was calling friends until the very moment they shut the doors looking for a little support. I have been so fortunate to visit so many amazing places, yet more often than not seem to be seeing these magnificent place on my own. I used to prefer to travel alone, as I can be a bit selfish. I hate to be slowed down by someone else’s interests. And slow walkers. When you travel on your own you and you alone are the boss and you get to do everything you want to do even if that means sitting in Piazza Navona eating ice-cream and people watching all day long. I kind of like that part of it. Except eating alone, I never did like that part, so when I travel by myself I often end up eating from street-vendors, local markets (picnic style) or furtively in my room. I think it’s a good goal to make– to feel comfortable in a restaurant on my own.

More and more I wish there was someone next to me I could nudge when I see something really spectacular like the G-string wearing roller-blader frequently seen zooming his way around Amsterdam with his ass cheeks exposed–even in the dead of winter. I knew this trip was going to be amazing, which it truly was, and I am sad that once again there won’t be someone I can ring up in 10 years and say, “Hey, remember that time in St. Petersburg…”. You know what I mean?


I arrived in London happy as a clam to be back in my favorite city. Our hotel was right next to the Tower Bridge, the one everyone thinks is London Bridge:

This was a great area to stay in, as the warf along the Thames has been recently rennovated and full of fun bars and restaurants. Time was short in London… just enough for me to get a UK SIM card for my cell phone, have dinner, and a good night sleep before heading with our group to meet the ship in Harwich the next morning.

Seeing the Jewel of the Seas for the first time takes your breath away– it is so HUGE! Check in was quick and before I knew it I was checking out my little inside cabin on the 3rd deck. Just enough space for a double bed, small couch, a closet, mini-bar, desk/dresser, and private bathroom. I’ve mentioned before the proportions of the ship and some of the amenities. But knowing there is a miniature golf course on the ship and actually SEEING it are two totally different things.

Here is a shot of the big white behemouth parked in Tallinn:

I never thought I would like taking a cruise (after working on a small cruise ship for a year). But it really wasn’t as tasteless and tacky as I thought it would be. Except for all the casio piano light jazz renditions of “The Greatest Love of All” and “My Endless Love”. I could have done without that. I didn’t go into any of the shows, and spent minimal amounts of time in the casino, so I guess my exposure to the truely tasteless was rather limited. In retrospect, that was probably a mistake.

Well, that’s all for today. Tomorrow I will talk about the first port of call: OSLO!

Where to begin?

I feel like I have so much to tell about my recent trip, but I don’t even know where to begin. I’d like to post a few photos, but out of the 800… which to choose? I am almost done cataloging the 200 that I will post in my online photo album; once I am done I will post the link. Maybe an idea is to start posting a little each day about the different countries that were visited. Yes. Tomorrow we’ll start with Norway. Here is a preview photo for you of the cutest little Norwegian baby you ever did see:

I am already contemplating my next trip to Europe in July. Ashlee and I are heading to Amsterdam to see U2 at the Amsterdam Arena. Lucky for me, if I didn’t mention it already, I scored free plane tickets at work. I will likely stay with M., so it should be one cheap vacation!! The question is– where to go on my free days? After the concert there are 4-5 days to play around with. So here are a few thoughts:

1) Just hang in Amsterdam with old friends. Sit along the canals drinking wittebiers and watching the bikers roll on by. Maybe a day or two at the beach.

2) M. wants to go with me to Barcelona. Spain is one huge gap in my travel resume and I am dying to see Barcelona. But Spain in July… is that loco?

3) Miss Frankie generously offered to have me stay at her flat in London for a few days. As I have made abundantly clear I Love Love Love London and would love to go back and spend some free time meandering through the city streets.

4) Head back to Naples to visit my old host mother. She lost her husband last Fall and would probably like a visit. Sadly Giorgia won’t be there.

5) A visit to Pelle in Scandinavia. Well, not actually Pelle in Scandinavia, but those of you in the know likely know what I am talking about (umm, that’s probably just Ashlee come to think of it).

So many choices!! Wow, a feeling of gratitude just washed over me. How lucky am I that my biggest worry tonight (other than how to pay off my credit card from all the recent travel!) is what lovely place to visit next?

Well, it is late and I still have sleep to catch up on.