Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Iowa/Denmark/Nigeria Connection

There were so many people needing a wheelchair to get to the gate that we ended up on one of those motorized carts.  Another woman in the business lounge and I hopped on the back seat, while her husband and Dennis headed to the gate on foot.  While I chatted with her, learning that they lived in Copenhagen and were flying to the US to see the eclipse, visit friends in Minnesota, and visit New Orleans, Dennis was learning that the husband had done mission work in Nigeria.

When we all got back together at the gate, I mentioned that my parents had been missionaries in Nigeria.  The husband asked where, and I responded Bukuru, and went on to explain since I was sure he would never have heard of the tiny village of Bukuru, with Jos as the nearest town of any size. But the husband got a big smile on his face, nodded, and responded, "TCNN?"  So, not only did he know of Bukuru, he knew of the Theological College of Northern Nigeria.

What a small world!

And the cruise ends in Copenhagen

By this point in the cruise, I am feeling lousy.  For some reason, my normal seasonal allergies which are controlled with antihistamine, were running amok.  Non-stop running nose, post-nasal drop clogging up my throat, lots of coughing to clear my throat, and no stamina.  As in walking half a block, stopping to rest, walking a bit more, stopping to rest.

Our arrival at Fredericia, Denmark was greeted by pretty much the whole town.  There was a cannon salute (with the tiniest miniature cannons I have ever seen).  Apparently we were around the fourth cruise ship to dock there this year.  At most of our other stops, we were among 4 to 8 cruise ships docking per day.

At the end of the day, the town, including local dignataries, turned out to give us a band concert, with people in historical native attire, waving flags and waving at us.  It was great!

I decided to skip the shore excursion to Copenhagen, and thus missed the statue of the Little Mermaid. And I ended up having to resort to a wheelchair at the airports.  We had paid for a shuttle bus from the ship to the airport, but it was ahike to the bus, and then the bus dropped us off at terminal 1 and we needed to be at terminal 2.  By the time we got to the ticket counter, I was done in.

Since we had "premium economy" tickets, we had access to the business lounge, which included comfortable waiting, soup and a variety of snacks, and assorted beverages.

Family Reunion in Germany

Our next stop was Warnemunde in Germany, where we met brother Robert.  There was a cruise center (read "tourist-trap") with a gift shop and little restaurant.  We found seats in the restaurant area, had some pop, and caught up with a nice chat. Then Dennis and I headed back to the ship, while John and Renee headed with Robert to a tour of the city.

View of our ship from the pier in Wurnemunde

View of Wernemunde from the ship

Latvia and Lithuania.

Next stop on our cruise was Riga, Latvia.  Unfortunately, it was too windy.  There is a narrow channel into Riga Bay, and the wind was just at the point of being too strong to safely traverse the channel. And, the winds were forecast to get stronger in the afternoon. Sooo, assuming the harbot pilot decided it was safe to enter the harbor, it was iffy whether we would be able to get back out.  So, we waved at Riga as we turned and spent the day at sea.

Next stop was Lithuania, where we had a shore excursion of touring an amber factory.  The amber factory was way too hot and stuffy, and lots of standing, so I opted for sitting on a bench outside in the cool shade and light breeze.

Then on to, guess where - the amber factory's gift shop outlet, where we had some amber tea and amber cake, then "got" to spend time looking at all the amber jewelry and other giftware.  I bought a pair of earrings, Dennis bought some amber dust and raw amber.

What I found very interesting on our tours, was the disparity with which the individual Scandinavian and Baltic countries saw Russia.   Some countries were proud of their past and current relationship with Russia, others were quite disparaging of how they were treated by Russia during World War II.

For example, the following joke was told by our tour guide in Lithuania, as we drove past obvious Soviet-era apartment complexes that all looked the same.  There is the story of the man who went home from work and went to the wrong apartment.  He didn't notice because they all look the same. His key worked, because there were only a few different keys.  And his furniture was what he was used to seeing, since there were only three choices in furniture.  And so the story goes on.
Pictures of Klaipeda from the ship

United States? Um, Where is that?

Our shore excursion to Helsinki was "by land and by sea."  We started out with a boat trip around the many islands that make up the city.  Then we landed at, guess where, a flea market with lots of vendors selling lots of souvenirs.  With a quick trip to the restrooms in City Hall, which actually functioned like a city hall, with an internet area where people were using computers and a very nice art exhibit.

As we walked the several blocks to our bus for the land portion of our tour, we met a young man who asked where we were from.  We tour participants stand out like sore thumbs, with colored stickers on our lapels denoting which tour group we're with - so it wasn't hard for him to peg us as tourists.  When we responded, "the United States," he got a confused look on his face and responded  that he'd never heard of that.  As we clarified, "The United States of America," he then understood and said that he'd heard of "America." 

Lutheran Cathedrals

In our bus trip around St. Petersburg, our tour guide pointed out what she called a "Lutheran Cathedral."  It was tucked away behind and between two other buildings and we were by it so fast I couldn't get a picture.  But I wondered about her word choice.  Lutherans have churches, not cathedrals.  Catholics have cathedrals.   But as I learned later from our tour guide in Helsinki, there are Lutheran Cathedrals in Europe.

Statue of Alexander II in Market Square in Helsinki

Lutheran Cathedral in Market Square, with only 350 steps up to the door

The 12 apostles, in zinc, around the roof

But Cairo is in Egypt

One of the things we like to do on cruises is participate in the trivia contests, which are held a couple of times a day.  Most of the time we just listen and don't try to compete for prizes.  But one day another couple and we were the only people interested, so the four of us decided to work together rather than compete. That day, the contest was to identify, from photos, the movie character's name. That was harder than it sounded.  We could usually identify the actor, or the show, but couldn't always come up with the character's name.  But, since we were the only people participating, all four of us received a prize - a Royal Caribbean pen!  Whoo-hoo

Well, the next day, we headed to the trivia contest, not expecting to participate, but we ran into the same couple and decided to join with them again.  There were a lot of people participating that day, and some of the questions were pretty obscure.

Anyway, one of the questions was, "What city in Africa has the largest population?" The other couple were guessing Johannesburg, and I said what about Cairo, is Cairo bigger than Johannesburg?  The woman looked at me like I was nuts and said, "But Cairo is in Egypt!"  To which I responded, well, yes, but Egypt is in Africa.  It turns out I was right, Cairo is the biggest city in Africa.