Author Archives: ontheroadagainsoon

This was a Travel blog?

In the early spring 2020 I had brought this blog up to date with my recent travels and I was looking forward to a busy year of travel in 2020 and on into 2021. Meanwhile, stuff has happened; the Pandemic of course, but also our house was flooded (27″ of river water throughout) and so a great deal of our attention the last 11 months has been on recovering/rebuilding/restoring our home and contents. But I’ve also spent quite a bit of time dealing with cancelled cruises and the travel and lodging arrangements associated with those plans. And making new plans. And then dealing with those cancellations… More on our future plans in an upcoming post to this blog.

Meanwhile, I have been working another project: a series of photo books. The first one which covers our cruises in the Caribbean was just finished:

My thoughts are now turning to Europe. Cruising, we have visited 35 different ports in Europe. Before and after cruises we have often spent time in the region of the embarkation or disembarkation points, and we have done other-than-cruise trips, some of these associated with work-related travel. London, Rome, Paris, Venice, Naples, Florence, Jeruselem, Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen…

Years ago I put together a book on our 2007 trip to Venice, and then another book on our 2009 trip to Rome. I am not going to do one book for each place visited! I am thinking I may do one covering time we’ve spent in Greece, Israel, and other portions of the Eastern Mediterranean. Another book, maybe two, just on Italy. Another for Spain, Portugal, and coastal France. Another for Capital cites… One straightforward approach would be to do one book per trip. I considered this approach for the Caribbean book, but my intent is not to Journal our trips. Rather, I want the focus to be on the places we’ve seen. And many of the places are ones we have been able to visit multiple times on different trips. However I eventually choose to sort this out, I certainly have enough to keep me busy until our next planned travel in January 2022!


Unusual for us we are in a long stretch of time at home. Busy with yard work, hosting holiday parties, catching up with “stuff.” And planning future travels!
My previous note from early December included a photo of piles of leaves covered in snow. Since then the snow melted, the city hauled the leaves away, we had a big storm, many tree branches down. So the piles of leaves were replaced with piles of branches. Which have since been hauled away. 


The second shot, New Year’s Eve, of the local Tridge and the flooding river park…


I got a little out of sequence! Paris happened last week, between Barcelona and our current visit to England. Last Wednesday we walked from our lodging to the Arc de Triomphe, and climbed to the top. And back down. And then walked the length of the Champs-Elysées. And back to our lodging. A long day! Good weather, a pleasant visit with interesting sights. Thursday we walked to the Eiffel Tower, waited to ride to the top at our pre-booked time. Spent quite a bit of time on top, then Meg rode down while I walked down. We walked up along the Seine, found a nice place for lunch. Then onto the Metro to the Montmartre neighbored. Took the short funicular up for the views, walked on around to the artists’ square, and back down to the Metro and a ride to a stop near our lodging. Another long day with good weather and good viewing!

Dorset, England – Shaftesbury

A smooth pleasant Eurostar trip from Paris last Friday. The 8:43am train and our 9:06am train were both delayed “because of operational issues.” We were able to switch to the earlier train, actually left about 9:30am. Arrival in London St. Pancras was a bit chaotic, no info booth, poor signage. I had considered the Underground for the next stage, but we have accumulated too much stuff, suitcases too heavy to want to be schlepping through a series of train connections. So we found a cab. Rode to our rental car pick up outside of Heathrow airport.
We wanted a car with auto transmission (I’ve done manual here before with no drama, but that was a few years ago…), with built-in GPS. They gave us a nice Mercedes. After 10 minutes of orientation, adjustment, programming the GPS, I drove 1/2 mile, could not work out why an alarm bell was ringing. Did a U-turn of sorts. Back through the car return section, pulled to the front. “This car is broken, give me something else.” A guy fiddled around, tried pounding on the hood/bonnet. ‘Loose bonnet warning.’ We drove 50 feet, all seemed good. Left. As soon as we reached about 20mph the alarm started up again. I was beyond the U-turn point, went on to a big roundabout, survived, got back to the rental place. Demanded a working car. They swapped the Mercedes for a Jaguar. Another 10 minutes of orientation, adjustment, programming the GPS…
The drive to Shaftesbury itself had no drama except that I kept going too far left as I am used to left-hand drive and expect my viewpoint to be closer to that side of the road. We passed by Stonehenge, heralded by warning signs about backups in traffic, and by police and ambulance sirens, vehicles responding to a serious accident due to slow downs as people gawked at the site.
We survived, we arrived in Shaftesbury, and soon after we found a Tescos and bought some wine. Today was leisurely, walked the edges of the original hill town, great views. Walked High Street, did some shopping.

And on to Paris

Tuesday was a travel day, another ride on the Spanish high speed train, this time from Barceloneta to Paris. A bit of a struggle getting too much too heavy luggage up to the second level on the car, but we were quickly settled into comfortable seats and ready to watch the Spanish and French countryside go by at up to 294kph.

About a 6 1/2 hour journey with several brief stops along the way. A cab ride through heavy traffic, past the Norte Dame 😥, and on to our hotel. Which, Surprise!, turned out to be not a small hotel as advertised, but rather a back bedroom in someone’s apartment. An airbnb masquerading as a hotel. Oh well, we are here, it is reasonably comfortable, and Paris is all around!

(Images below a bit out of sequence… Sorry about that!)

Barcelona – on to the next phase

We debarked (disembarked?) (left the ship) about 9:00a.m. Monday. After a final nice breakfast in the main dining room and a coffee and parting chat in the Tuscany. By waiting until about the last minute, we allowed the taxi-stand queue to build up, probably enough people in line to fill 50-60 cabs. Occasionally a cab would show up. Barcelona has a reputation for a shortage of cabs, and 4-5 cruise ships in port at the same time obviously aggravates the situation. After about five minutes of no progress, we left that line, went and got on the port’s local shuttle to a drop off point closer to edge of downtown. Looked there for a cab but it was futile. There was almost gridlock at the circle at the base of the Ramblas, traffic cops trying to move things along and wouldn’t have appreciated a cab pulling to the curb, even if there had been an empty cab.

So I asked my iPhone, it told me that the hotel was a mile in that direction. So we walked. In a different direction which was more interesting and featured cafes where we could pause as needed. The relatively short distance wasn’t the issue, but combined with the heat and the heavy suitcases, it was a bit of work. We made it to our hotel, nicely situated in the Gothic Quarter, a place we’ve stayed twice before.

Of course our room wasn’t ready. We checked luggage and headed out for a day of window shopping and photos. Within a few steps of our hotel is a small alley containing several artisanal shops. Meg spotted a jeweler. He had some bracelets on display. Meg said that they were almost what she had been looking for but not quite. The guy said he would make what she described, it would be ready in 20 minutes. It was more like an hour and 20 minutes, but we had a good wander through the neighborhood. Picked up her custom bracelet after lunch and continued on.

Barcelona is a vibrant community, lots of small independent shops, bars and tapas places. Partially intact city walls from Roman Times, old buildings, Modern office buildings and street art, and of course graffiti and tourists. Plenty of kids and dogs being walked; real people still live here. Somewhat regretting that we only are here for an overnight, but looking forward to Paris!

Herculaneum – Naples

Last November on a stop in Naples we spent the day with friend Gianfranco in Naples proper. It was his birthday, he took us to his favorite restaurant (to which he would return later for a big party) and showed us some different sides of the city. This time our day in Naples happened to be on my birthday. Gianfranco acceded to my suggestion that we visit Herculaneum, the town where he was born, raised, and still lives. We went to the archeological site of the ancient town which was destroyed by the same Vesuvius eruptions as Pompeii. Interesting site, a nice small adjacent museum.

And then back into the heart of Naples for lunch and a chance to walk in the university neighborhood. Which is the old center of Naples. Fun!


Tarquinia – Tuscania

We were docked for the day in Civitavechia, another Italian port “convenient ” to a major city, Rome in this case. With no desire to take a long crowded bus ride to spend the day running from place to place to get glimpses of all the major sights, we instead opted to join a small group tour into Tuscany. First stop was the excavation site of a cluster of pre-Roman Etruscan tombs. Then on into Tarquinia where we visited a museum based on the tombs and other Etruscan sites. The museum was in a converted mansion, a treat in its own right.

One of the features of the tombs are the wall painted frescos; several of these had been removed and installed in the museum as a representation of the original site. Plus pottery and other artifacts. Nicely done.

We then moved on to the small walled town of Tuscania. Had lunch, a wander through the town, a visit to an old basilica, and then back to the ship. A good day.


Livorno Italy is the most convenient port for travelers who want to reach Florence. Which does not mean that it is All that convenient! Two hour bus rides each way, or take one’s chances on the train schedules…

We opted to use our day in Livorno a bit closer to the port. There were six of us signed up for a tour I had arranged, two had to drop out at the last minute due to illness. So we four went off to the walled city of Lucca for a few hours, then back to the port with about an hour and a half in Pisa, including some time in the cathedral. My first time in Pisa, I am pleased to report that the tower does lean and that it seems in no immediate danger of falling.