May 12, 2019 Mother’s Day and Homecoming Celebration

On Sunday, we went to the Oliver’s for a celebration. 

 

Everyone, including Max, was in for a good time.

 

 

 

The grand kids were in high spirits and we provided presents for all.

 

 

 

Lily liked her African elephant

 

 

 

and Cheetah T-Shirt.

 

 

 

Everyone received T-Shirts

 

 

 

with animals.

 

 

 

 

Including the big boys.

 

 

 

There were also bracelets including the popular lava rock bracelet. These were for Lily.

 

 

Cole is well supplied with bracelets.

 

 

 

 

Anthony liked his.

 

 

 

Gabe’s is on the table, plus he liked his big cat.

 

 

 

With a late request for photo we captured Tyler’s bracelets.

 

 

 

The adult girls received beaded necklaces which were very popular in Africa.

 

 

 

For the Mother’s Day celebration, the girls all received T-shirts.

 

What a wonderful homecoming conclusion to our amazing trip.  Great trip, but nothing beats being together with our gang of 11.

Day 129 LHR to GRR

Well the time has come to leave the Viking Sun and head home.   

The big suitcases are gone and here we are leaving with the carry-on bags.  Not sure he is smiling.

 

Goodbye to a wonderful room.  That’s Greenwich out the window.  Our departure from Heathrow started ugly and ended wonderfully.  American Airlines had made a change they forgot to tell us about, so our 10:00 pm arrival into Grand Rapids had changed to 2:00 am the next day with a 7 ½ hour layover in Charlotte.  We were able to change flights, go through Chicago, and arrive in GRR at 6:00 pm.  Super.  Getting all our bags to the new terminal at Heathrow, schlepping them on and off the train and up and down elevators was a real negative hoot, but we made it.    

Our wonderful seats on British Airways Business Class.  Those seats go completely horizontal.  Great drinks and great naps ahead.

 

The entire Oliver family greeted us at the airport in GRR for a great homecoming.

Day 128 London (Greenwich) England May 10, 2019

We arrive overnight in Greenwich

 

 

 

 

to our mooring in the Thames.

 

 

 

The waterfront is well built up in this area.

 

 

 

We take a catamaran transfer boat to shore.  The barge made loading and unloading a breeze.

 

 

 

 

That is our landing area to the left with the famous Cutty Sark in view.

 

We head ashore in Greenwich.

 

 

 

The Gipsy Moth in honor of Sir Francis Chichester’s Gipsy Moth IV in which he single-handed around the world setting numerous records.

 

 

 

We board a bus with our tour guide Vivian to check out some key sites in London.

 

 

 

 

We pass the Greenwich Market which claims to have the oldest shop in the UK.

 

London was founded in the 1st century as a Roman city.  These are remains of the Roman wall around the city.  Amazing old stuff here.

 

 

First stop is the Tower of London.

 

 

 

The Tower of London is really a group of buildings that were added to and modified over the years and thus we see a multitude of towers today.

 

 

It does strike one as being very old.

 

 

 

Numerous modern buildings visible from the Tower grounds.

 

 

 

The old moat.

 

 

 

Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, popularly known as Beefeaters.

The Traitors Gate.  Normally a one way passage.  Very few that entered here ever left alive.

 

 

 

Building within the Tower.

 

 

One of the ravens at the Tower.  There is a raven keeper and legend has it that if the ravens ever leave, the tower will fall.  They clip the raven’s wings so they cannot fly away – problem solved.

 

 

Old construction details.  The wooden stringers are most interesting.

 

 

 

 

The Tower Bridge from inside the Tower grounds.

 

 

Building that houses the Crown Jewels.

 

 

 

We did go inside and viewed the Crown Jewels.  Very impressive but no photos allowed.

 

 

Structures inside the Tower.

 

 

 

 

Tower housing.

 

 

 

One of the buildings was converted to at museum.

 

 

 

I liked this 1836 wine cooler they had on display.  No price given.

 

 

 

 

One display was a tribute to David Ben Gurion.

 

Better view of the Tower Bridge as we were leaving.

 

 

 

So long to the Tower.  Fascinating history segment of England.

 

 

 

We were able to walk around St. Paul’s for some photos.

 

 

 

All angles of this massive Cathedral are impressive.

 

 

 

Including the front entrance.

 

 

 

The Royal Courts of Justice.

 

 

 

 

For lunch we stopped at an English Pub, The Lady Charlotte.

 

 

We enjoyed Fish and Chips and a pint while also enjoying a great view.

 

 

 

Lots of tour buses in London.

 

 

 

Buckingham Palace.

 

 

 

Nice gates

 

 

 

 

and gardens.

 

 

 

Prince Albert statue covered in gold leaf.  Bet he would like the fact they still have horses.

 

 

 

Royal Albert Hall.  Used for concerts and other events.

 

 

 

Nice area of town.

 

 

Typical busy London thorough fare.

 

 

 

Hyde Park.

 

 

 

The always busy Piccadilly Circus.

 

 

 

Part of the Theater District.

 

 

 

 

Trafalger Square with Nelson’s column

 

 

and the National Gallery.

 

 

 

 

Popular area.

 

 

 

Number 10 Downing Street, the headquarters of the Government of the United Kingdom

 

 

Commonwealth offices.

 

 

 

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs

 

 

 

Westminster Abbey and Parliament.

 

 

 

Parliament from the river side.

 

 

 

 

Nice pubs everywhere.

 

 

 

Hawthorne tree in full bloom.  1396

 

 

 

Back to the Cutty Sark and our ship.

 

 

 

Our speedy transport back to the  

 

 

 

Viking Sun.

 

 

 

That was a really great excursion for the last one of this great Viking trip.  Wow, what a trip.  We covered over 40,000 miles, visited North America, South America, Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Indian Ocean Islands, Africa including a Safari, and finished with Europe via Spain and England. WOW.

Day 127 English Channel May 9, 2019

We spent a day getting from Portsmouth to Greenwich.  The captain had to wait for an outgoing tide to pass through the barrier on the Thames.   

 

Lots of boats (this one near Boulogne-sur-Mer, France)

 

 

and ferries to be seen in the English Channel.

 

 

 

This is my best shot of the famous White Cliffs of Dover.  Could have been better visibility.  ☹

Day 126 Portsmouth, England May 8, 2019

Day 125 was a smooth day at sea, used to get us to England.   

We arrived early morning on Day 126, May 8, 2019 in Portsmouth, England.  This was an added stop on our World Cruise to replace Casablanca that we missed due to storm avoidance.  We signed up for a tour of Windsor Castle. 

 

This is our guide Cemil.

 

 

 

 

This also took us through some lovely English countryside going and returning from the castle.

 

 

Lovely spot along the Thames in the Old Windsor area.

 

 

 

Boats on the Thames.

 

 

 

Typical homes in this area.

 

 

 

 

Nice flowers at the entrance area to Windsor Castle.

 

 

 

OK, there it is.

 

 

 

We proceed through the Windsor Royal Train Station.

 

 

 

Classic looking English Castle.

 

 

 

Watched over by a statue of Queen Victoria.

 

 

 

Henry VIII Gate often seen in ceremonies.

 

 

 

 

 

The Round Tower that is impressive but not quite round.

 

 

 

What used to be a protective moat, is now a nice garden area.

 

 

Royal Guards on the grounds

 

 

 

 

and near  

 

 

 

St. George’s Chapel.

 

 

St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle is a chapel

 

 

 

designed in the high-medieval Gothic style. It is both a Royal Peculiar,

 

 

a church under the direct jurisdiction of the monarch, and the Chapel of the Order of the Garter.

 

 

St. George’s castle chapel was established in the 14th century by King Edward III.   Impressive main entrance.

 

 

 

Inside the Castle grounds.

 

 

 

The guards look very young.

 

 

 

 

After departure from the Castle one travels through a very up-scale area of England.

 

 

We took the back-roads home to avoid the traffic and saw some beautiful areas of English countryside.

 

 

We passed the Royal Ascot Race Track.  The Royal Family turns up here for race week.  There is actually a back pathway where they can take horse carriages from Windsor to Ascot.

 

We passed through many areas of picturesque English countryside

 

 

 

and villages.

 

 

 

Back to the port and some private boats.

 

 

 

We were at a very busy ferry dock.  Here we see a ferry about to swallow a semi.  We now depart for Greenwich (London).

Day 124 Vigo, Spain May 6, 2019

 

We arrive in Vigo on the morning of May 6th.   

 

 

 

It is a nice port area in that we are at the edge of downtown, 

 

 

and the marina is also next to the cruise ship terminal. 

 

 

 

First thing you see as you exit the terminal building is this monument of a departing individual.  Many immigrants departed from this terminal in search of a better life, mostly in the Americas somewhere.   

 

 

To start the day, Dale did a Segway tour.  Learned much and it was a lot of fun.  Thanks for the photo Dedy.  

 

 

Next Linda and I head out to see the sights. 

 

 

 

This is our modern bus and tour guide Catherine with our driver Victor. 

 

 

Vigo is a prosperous European city. 

 

 

Seafood is a big industry.  This is a monument to fishermen pulling in their oyster nets. 

 

 

During the plague, the locals promised to release their horses if they were saved from the sickness.  None died, so they released many horses.  This is a monument to those horses leaping up to the heavens.   

 

First stop is the Castro fort. 

 

 

 

 

With its cross display (these are common in Spain).    

 

Impressive views from the fort.  This is a ship building area with a large cruise ship under construction.   

This is the port area in the opposite direction. 

 

 

 

Directly across the channel are a series of islands with nice beaches that are popular in the summer. 

 

 

 

The grounds of the fort are well maintained.   

 

 

The stones are old, but still standing. 

 

This is a monument near the town center that used to have a large fountain that the fans would jump into after a major soccer win.  The Mayor decided to turn it into a garden area and this change is in process.  Next stop was the Castrelos Park.  This was a 17th century estate. 

 

 

 

 

As was typical in that era, large estates had their own chapel. 

 

 

 

Out back is a large garden.  Back in the day, 

 

 

this area would also have served for food production.   

 

 

Today it is decorative, with beautiful flowers. 

 

 

Including this Bird of Paradise. 

 

 

 

Frog pond with statue. 

 

 

 

Interesting tree. 

 

 

 

 

 

Pigeon house.  Back in the day, they were used for food. 

 

 

 

Eucalyptus trees imported from Australia that they would now like to give back.   

 

 

 

Three different colors of blooms on the same tree.    

 

 

English garden section.  

 

 

 

Leaving the park, we pass an area of modern housing. 

 

 

Nice older homes.  The small structure with the wooden panels is a traditional dry storage building.  The locals pride themselves on an excellent diet which highlights seafood and fresh garden produce.   

We drive down by the seashore and some of the beaches. This one has a recent history.  The developer thought he could keep this beach to himself, but the mayor explained it was public.     

Past this marina is a Tax Free Zone that drives significant employment in the area. 

 

 

The Citroen plant provides direct employment for 5,000 with 5 times that amount when you include the support functions outside the plant. 

 

 

After the bus tour we had time to walk into town.  This is their main cathedral. 

 

 

 

We ran into our Room Stewardess, Efrileen, by the Cathedral.  Always nice to meet friends while touring.   

The area next to the Cathedral is an older part of town.  The city council wants young people to move here, so if you do the city pays 40% of the rent. 

 

This is their main street which has shopping and café’s and a very European feel. 

 

 

 

They also have this Mermaid Man statue which just seems plain weird to me. 

 

 

 

An older, nice monument. 

 

 

 

Popular transportation.  Solves the parking problem.   

 

 

Lots of great architecture.  This is the Vigo Museum. 

 

 

 

Even the buildings have statues.   

 

 

 

This was a nice park a block from the seashore.  There were two statues to honor the main industries of the town.  This one is for a stone worker.  They have unique red granite in the area that is still in demand. 

 

 

This one is of a fisherman.  This industry is still very active, and they pride themselves on having arguably the best shell fish in Europe. 

 

 

This monument is to honor the engineer and politician Jose Elduayen e Gorritt (1823 – 1898) who served in the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Treasury.  They do love their monuments. 

 

 

 

This monument is of Jules Verne.   

 

 

Supporting Linda and Dale from 20,000 Leagues Across the Sea.  ( pun intended)

 

 

We are out of there.  What a great city to visit.  One could easily see coming back to Spain for a vacation. 

 

 

Days 122 and 123 Cruise the Atlantic May 4 and 5, 2019

Smooth seas and a great sunrise on May 5th.  Nevertheless, we have had an itinerary change due to a forecast storm in the Bay of Biscay.  Today, May 5th, we were supposed to be in Casablanca, Morocco.  Due to this storm, we need to get north sooner, so we are going directly to Vigo, Spain and will arrive there one day early on May 6th.  This storm is forecast to be a Force 10 Full Gale with waves to 40 feet.  Do not want to play Viking Sky.  Good idea to get ahead of this storm.  Even with our stop in Vigo, we are now on an itinerary to be snug in Portsmouth, England on Wednesday, May 8th with this storm to the south of us.

 

 

In the meantime, we are being mightily entertained by the on-board group.  Emilia Parker provided a jazz concert in the Atrium on the afternoon of the 5th.

 

 

That is Emilia in the center with the keyboard player on the left and the cello player on the right.

 

 

This is Emilia hamming it up in front of her giant poster.

 

 

Day 121 Santa Cruz de Tenerife Canary Islands Spain May 3, 2019

We arrived in Puerto de la Cruz Tenerife on the morning of May 3, 2019.

 

 

One immediately notes a more prosperous area than we have seen in weeks.  That is the Opera House just beyond the private marina.  

 

 

 

We pick up our tour guide Liz and head out to see the island.  Liz was one of our best guides ever.  Full of knowledge and enthusiasm.

 

The area is very prosperous driven largely by their largest industry – tourism.  Note how they use the limited valley space to build the needed business buildings and housing.   

 

We see colorful buildings.

 

 

 

Nice houses.

 

 

 

And everywhere, the classic Spanish tile roofs.

 

 

Modern roads for mostly small cars.

 

 

 

They squeeze in agriculture wherever they can on the limited flat areas.

 

 

 

We go to a nice overlook and find these well-fed travelers.

 

 

Wild cactus.

 

 

 

 

Really steep volcanic sloops.

 

 

 

 

Colorful villages.

 

 

 

Harvesting potatoes.

 

 

 

Unique trees.

 

 

 

Banana fields.  Exports of produce led by bananas and flowers is their second largest industry.

 

Next we visit their Botanical Garden.  Over the years, seamen have brought many different species to this island which can survive in this mild year around climate.  They established this garden to preserve as many as possible.   

 

We saw many beautiful examples.

 

 

 

 

Spanish moss.

 

 

 

Mariachi gourd tree.

 

 

 

Ficus macrophylla f. columnaris.  The aerial prop roots act as buttresses to support the branches, allowing the tree to spread over a considerable area.  Eventually, they will become trunks in their own right.   This particular tree is massive.

 

 

 

Interesting plant.

 

 

 

Great flowering plants everywhere.

 

 

Looks like the New Zealand fern.  It is Zamiaceae from Angola, Zaire.

 

 

 

More blooms.

 

 

 

 

And more blooms.

 

 

 

Leaves with lightning holes.

 

 

 

Linda and Dale enjoyed these gardens.

 

 

 

Liked this exotic flower.

 

 

 

Nice area providing semi-shade.  We really enjoyed these gardens.  Very well done and they really flourish in this climate.

 

 

Lots of catering to the ocean resort area. We now head down to a seaside town.

 

 

 

Picturesque shoreline.

 

 

 

 

Chapel to the fishermen.

 

 

 

We are now down at the sea.

 

 

 

Gramma consents to an interview by some students.

 

 

 

Beautiful seaside area.

 

 

 

 

Tons of shops on the promenade.

 

 

 

Village cathedral.

 

 

 

 

Inside the cathedral.

 

 

 

Resort accessed by an interesting tunnel.

 

 

Today was a bank holiday called The Day of the Cross.

 

 

Various groups decorate crosses and the folks turn out to enjoy them.

 

Back to the port, past the Opera House.

 

 

 

 

And the Marina.

 

 

 

After lunch, we walk back into town to check it out.

 

 

 

McDonald’s colors here reminds one of the Green Bay Packers.  Ran into some staff from the boat.

 

 

 

Igor

 

 

 

 

and Joy.

 

 

 

 

An 18th century convent.

 

 

 

 

 

Very European type area.

 

 

 

Monument to the soldiers that fought for Spain.

 

 

 

 

Great to be in a nice area.

 

 

 

Later, from The Chef’s Table as we pass to the north of Tenerife.  An enjoyable day.

Day 118 Dakar, Senegal April 30, 2019

We clear the harbor entrance into Dakar at 7:28 am on April 30th.

 

 

 

The vendors are already out in force.   

 

 

 

 

The buses arrive and the days activity begin.

 

 

 

 

We depart the port at a leisurely 11:00 am.

 

 

 

with our guide Dudu.

 

 

 

 

 

We pass the train station built by the French.

 

 

The Chamber of Commerce is also a colonial era built office.

 

 

 

The National Assembly building.   While we were observing this building and taking photos from the bus, the guard came out and asked the driver to move along.  

 

 

 

The military hospital is their best hospital according to our guide.

 

 

The clinics are private (you pay) and work best for those that can afford them.   

 

 

 

Lots of Falcons flying around.  Caught this one in a tree.  He looks impressive to me.

 

 

 

Fishing is their number one industry.  Here are some private fishermen in the bay.   

 

 

The shoreline is rocky interspersed with sand beaches.   

 

A falcon patrols the shoreline.

 

 

 

First stop is the Catholic Cathedral.  The nation is 90% Moslem and 10% Christian.  The guide pointed out several times that they live together in harmony.  

 

 

 

Stained glass window by the baptismal font.

 

 

 

 

The cathedral

 

 

 

 

with a close up of the alter area.

 

 

 

 

Nice pipe organ.

 

 

 

We went through the market area which was packed with folks.   

 

 

 

They have a large market area.  

 

 

 

 

Colorful clothing.

 

 

 

and the market just went on and on.

 

 

 

 

Also automotive supplies.  Based on the traffic and no stop lights, the bull bars seem useful.

 

 

The people are generally thin and tall.

 

 

Our guide attributed this to their diet.  Due to the large fishing industry, most people would have rice and fish with vegetables for lunch.  Similar for dinner.

 

We stopped at this gas station because an elderly lady on our bus desperately needed to use the restroom.  These kids offer car washes for a fee.  Unemployment is large and people do what they can but according to our guide these guys probably skipped school entirely and have very few choices. 

As we continue down the streets, we leave the central market, but street vendors remain everywhere.

 

 

 

 

A Christian Church.

 

 

 

 

This obelisk is in remembrance of their independence from the French in 1960.  The Lion is their symbol of independence.  The colonial period of the French had lasted for over 300 years.   

 

 

 

An all-girls school.

 

 

We stopped for a refreshment break, bought a sand painting, and had our photo taken with the artist.

 

 

 

This is a baobab tree outside the artist’s shop.  They use the sap from this tree to make the adhesive for the sand paintings.    

 

 

Nicer areas overlooking the Atlantic.   

 

 

 

Cemetery.   

 

 

 

Typical view along the roads.  Large number of unfinished buildings.  There seems to be no drive to clean up trash during or after construction.   

Our next stop was the Renaissance Africa Monument.   

 

 

 

This bronze monument is massive and very impressive.  There was some controversy prior to its unveiling in 2010, driven by its $27 million cost and the North Korean (not Senegalese) construction crew.  Now it is frequently visited by school classes as a source of African pride.    

 

 

Back by the beach.  Another large mosque in this largely Muslim country.

 

 

 

Colorful fishing boats on the beach.

 

 

 

Ministere Des Affaires Estrangeres.    That’s us.  Also, a colonial building.

 

 

Here we are back at the port.  It was educational to see Dakar, Senegal.  Would not wish to shop at their main market.  Appreciated that we had great weather, saw the Renaissance Africa Monument and we were able to buy some souvenirs for the grandchildren.