Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Trip pics!

Hey everyone! As usual, it's been about a thousand years since I last posted anything... this "once a millennium" posting schedule really needs to change... :)

We just got back from the UK (and by "just got back" I mean, "we've been back since Thursday night, but it's taken several days of being in the central time zone to feel like a normal, non-jetlagged human again."Seriously, this may be the first day since we got back that I don't feel really brain-foggy... like living half-submerged underwater... No complaints, though, because it was worth it for the opportunity to explore some new countries. Sometimes I think that if I could just perpetually live out of a suitcase (half-submerged-underwater-brain-fog or not) I would be quite happy with that.

Our cruising adventures began before we even left the U.S., when we all received emails to let us know that the group of passengers before ours had been afflicted with a higher-than-average number of norovirus cases. Because of this, they were extra-thoroughly sanitizing the ship, which meant a three-hour delay for embarking. This turned out to be a non-issue, however, as Aunt Carol (who was supposed to fly into Chicago the day we left and join the rest of us on the plane to London) discovered her flight from Buffalo to Chicago was cancelled. (Side note: Rick had suggested she fly into Chicago a couple days early to avoid any last minute complications. So when her flight was cancelled, this resulted in Rick dancing around singing, "I told you so, I told you so, I told you so." Seriously. He actually did that. :)) Anyway, Aunt Carol ended up on a flight to Charlotte, and then flew from Charlotte to London four hours after our Chicago-London flight left. This meant that we had four extra hours to hang out at Heathrow while we waited for her plane to land, so the three-hour embarkation delay was no big deal...

I have to admit, the thought that our huge ship was crawling with norovirus was a bit disconcerting at first -- even though I knew they disinfected the ship before we boarded, the first thing I did when we got to our cabin was wipe down the remote control, all the door handles, and all the light switches. (Which, incidentally, is the same thing I do every time I stay at a hotel... Rick thinks I'm crazy, but c'mon -- think about it: they NEVER clean the remote control. And EVERYONE touches the remote control. Eewww.) I also washed my hands about thirty times a day the entire time we were on the ship. And they had Purell everywhere... even though Purell has been shown to be ineffective against norovirus. I saw it as more of a "sense of security" type thing -- so passengers would feel like they were travelling on a nearly virus-free ship... but I worried it was more of a FALSE sense of security type thing. Because if people thought the Purell was protecting them from the virus, maybe they'd be less apt to wash their hands more (and hand-washing IS effective against norovirus).

Fortunately, none of us came down with norovirus, but here's the ironic thing: I DID manage to catch a cold. How did that happen??? No, really, I'm serious, I can't figure it out. I had the cleanest hands on that ship... maybe someone sneezed on me and I don't remember it...

Anyway, other than the excessive Purell-ing (the dining rooms were all patrolled by Purell Police -- they wouldn't let you in if you didn't use it first), the trip was awesome and we saw so many cool things. I have way too many pictures I could post, so these are mostly just random and not necessarily in any logical order. :)

Our first stop -- the island of Guernsey.

A street in Guernsey. That blue crate on the steps was full of milk cartons... which I thought was a little strange, since that restaurant wasn't open yet, and the warm sun was shining right on the milk. Then again, I disinfect hotel remote controls before I use them, so maybe I'm just paranoid...

Cobh, Ireland

Houses on a street near Loch Lomond in Scotland.

Liverpool... I have to admit that when we docked in Liverpool, I didn't have the highest hopes for this place. It seemed sort of gritty and depressing from the looks of it (although I'm sure the overcast skies didn't help). But after spending the day there, I actually really loved it -- it was one of my favorite stops.

Hills in Scotland... I'm not sure what I was expecting with Scotland, but it turned out to be one of the most interesting and prettiest countries I've ever seen. Maybe THE prettiest country I've ever seen. It has a sort of constantly changing quality to it, because the weather seems really unpredictable -- one minute it would be cloudy, the next sunny, the next rainy -- and as the weather changes, the scenery goes from mysterious to awe-inspiring to melancholy to cheery... and back again. The lochs -- with their black, glassy water -- stir up the imagination with possibilities of what might lie beneath the surface. It's not difficult to understand why the legend of the Loch Ness Monster has endured for so long. (I learned, however, that the blackness of the water in Scottish lochs is due to peat particles -- but I think it's more fun to just say it's some kind of magical Scottish thing. :))

A misty morning on Loch Ness, near the ruins of Urquhart Castle... legend has it that Nessie lives in a cavern somewhere underneath this castle. We never saw him (or her??) though. :)

The view through one of the castle windows...

The Firth of Fourth bridge in Queensferry, Scotland, with our ship in the background.

Snapping pictures in Liverpool...

Pointe du Hoc on the coast of Normandy... our last stop on the cruise.

This was a crater left by a bomb -- they were all over Pointe du Hoc. It's hard to tell from the picture just how big they all were -- I tried to snap this picture before those kids finished climbing up the side, so you can kind of tell how large it is.

The American Cemetery in Normandy.

That's it for now, but next up: Trip Pics: Churches and Cathedrals Edition. :)

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