A Travellerspoint blog

THURSDAY, MAY 7 LOS ANGELES, USA

THURSDAY, MAY 7 LOS ANGELES, USA
1. After leaving Serenity amid lots of fond farewells, we enjoyed San Pedro, CA once again. We spent hours walking around the old Queen Mary (yes, after all those days at sea we still like cruise ships!).
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2. One last pose for Hästa - waiting to go to the airport in LA.
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3. This photo is out of order (I was on the old-fashioned gangplank in San Francisco), but it is a good farewell photo. As a Jimmy Buffet song goes, “It’s been a lovely cruise!” Only we’re not being philosophical- the 106 days on the Serenity were, really, lovely!
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Posted by Swenigale 10:55

TUESDAY, MAY 5 SAN FRANCISCO, USA

1. At about 11am (behind schedule after sailing through lots of windy seas since leaving Victoria) we sailed into San Francisco bay under the Golden Gate bridge! The fog moved in and out of “Fog City” during the day, leaving a brilliant blue sky for part of the afternoon.
2. The most visited place – Alcatraz.
3. Those are the steep streets we all think of when we think of San Francisco. 4. A view of the city from The Presidio.
5. Some of the Victorian homes are beautifully restored.
6. City Hall – gleaming in the sunlight.
7. The Bay Bridge – it’s eight miles long, while the Golden Gate is just one mile long.
8. We rode the Cable Cars and watched as the men turned a car in the turntable. It’s all impressively hands on.
9. We had time to walk on famous “Fisherman’s Wharf”- here’s Pier 39, where scads of Sea Lions bed down for the night (they’re there most of the day, as well – fun to watch, but hold your nose!).
10. A sweet ending to our final port of call.
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Posted by Swenigale 07:21

SUNDAY, MAY 3 VICTORIA, CANADA

1. We looked out the window to see this sub resting on a container ship docked next to us in Victoria.
2. We toured the harbor on a Harbor-Hopper. Kind of looks like a toy boat, right?
3. Victoria harbor through the “toy boat” door.
4. A view from the water of the odd pair, sub and Serenity.
5. The next wave – floating houses! More modern than the floating Chinese villages.
6. Back on shore, the Parliament building and the start of the annual May commemoration of the Battle of the Atlantic.
7. We visited the Royal British Columbia Museum which has won numerous awards for design and content.
8. Part of the museum is devoted to the history of the “First People” of BC.
9. The museum retraces history with many artifacts – this cross was from the church of St. John the Divine in the gold rush town of Yale on the Fraser.
10. Back to living things and natural beauty on a sunny day in Victoria.
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Posted by Swenigale 12:21

SATURDAY, MAY 2……..VANCOUVER / WHISTLER, CANADA

1. Vancouver will be hosting the Winter Olympic Games and we decided to drive north to Whistler to see some of the Alpine venues. The beautiful Sea to Sky Highway is being widened and improved – but it’s not quite done.
2. The Shannon Waterfall is the 3rd longest waterfall in Canada with hiking trails and scenic views, but our time was limited so we just stopped to take a quick photo of the main attraction.
3 – 10. Some random pictures of Whistler village – places we might see on TV when we watch the Olympics this winter.
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Posted by Swenigale 09:36

THURSDAY, APRIL 30 KETCHIKAN, ALASKA

1. Only 4 blocks wide and more than 32 miles long, Ketchikan is Alaska’s 4th largest city – but with only 14,000 residents! It is also the “Rain Capital of Alaska”, so we really lucked out with another glorious day.
2. Duck tours are pretty new here. These “ducks” are specially built to withstand salt water and are a fun way to hear some history and tour the streets and waterfront.
3. The tide was coming in. Tidal difference is around 26 feet!
4. Seaplanes fly to Misty Fjord National Monument – they dock here. Farther on down are the Norwegian Star and the Crystal Serenity.
5. Creek Street’s infamous wooden boardwalk – once the red light district. 6. A short incline climbs a hill over Ketchikan –
7.-where weathered totem poles stand in front of the town civic center. Hästa made an appearance – can you find him?
8. Harbor view from Fox Hill.
9. The walk back down to the Salmon “ladder” and the town.
10. There were times in Alaska when we felt like we were on the set of the old TV series “Northern Exposure” – although no moose has wandered out in front of us!
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Posted by Swenigale 14:56

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29 GLACIER BAY, ALASKA

1. We were the first cruise ship to sail into Glacier Bay this season and the day was picture-perfect. As we entered the 65 mile long bay we could see the rounded top of 15,300 ft Mt. Fairweather in the distance.
2. There are several glaciers here – some advancing, some retreating. This is Reid Glacier.
3. We approached our destination – the long, low gray mass in the distance is the Grand Pacific Glacier and to the left of that is Marjorie Glacier. We were up on the top of the ship, the 13th deck.
4. It was impossible to stop taking pictures – just look at that reflection! This wilderness is all protected – part of a UNESCO World Heritage area that is 25 million acres!
5, 6, 7. The rocks and dirt ground up by the moving ice mass accounts for the gray / black color. When ice breaks off and falls into the water (calving) the blue color is revealed. Marjorie Glacier is 350 feet high and a mile wide.
8. We sailed away late in the day, dropping off our two ranger guides and getting a good look at more Steller Sea Lions basking in the sun.
9. We stayed at the railing hoping for some whale sightings. We were rewarded- there is one tail waving good-bye….
10. …..and there a glimpse of a distant spout as we sailed out of Icy Strait.
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Posted by Swenigale 00:21

MONDAY, APRIL 27 SEWARD, ALASKA, USA

1. We spent our day in Seward – on the water, but in a smaller excursion boat. The morning started out cloudy, foggy and misting – but that didn’t bother the really cute sea otters.
2. This mountain goat had a great observation post.
3, 4 & 5. Our tour was of Kenai Fjords National Park – we watched three whales breaching and blowing – and the skies had cleared!
6. After we saw a tidewater glacier (glacier pictures will come later) we found amazing “rafts” of sea birds (these are alcids).
7. The cliffs were teeming with gulls, terns, and the Common Murre (those penguin-looking birds).
8. Even though it is very early in the season, we saw tufted puffins (yay!), red headed cormorants, Arctic loons, Dall’s porpoise and these lazy Steller Sea Lions. They looked like they were poured onto the rocks.
9. The Serenity, itself really big compared to us humans, is dwarfed by the snow-capped mountains.
10. We glided away from Seward at sunset (9:44pm).

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Posted by Swenigale 13:36

SUNDAY, APRIL 26 KODIAK, ALASKA, USA

1. Kodiak is the Alaskan “Emerald Isle”. The biggest tourist draw in Kodiak is the Kodiak bear, all of whom are not yet awake from their long winter’s nap. So – we had no fear of disturbing them as we explored Ft. Abercrombie State Park.
2, 3 & 4. The Fort was built as part of the North Pacific’s WW 2 defense system. The amount of moss covering everything in the forest is incredible!
5 & 6. This is Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral, built in 1794 it is the first Orthodox parish in North America. The present church, built in 1945, is the 3rd one built on this site.
7. A small gift shop helps to support the parish.
8. The Russian Orthodox Seminary Chapel- just up the hill from the Cathedral. 9. An eagle and a raven find a perch in St. Paul’s harbor.
10. A bit of sunshine lights up the snowy mountains.
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Posted by Swenigale 10:36

FRIDAY, APRIL 24 DUTCH HARBOR, ALASKA, USA

1. God Bless the USA! Even here, in the heart of the Aleutian Islands, we know we are home! The fishing industry in Dutch Harbor/Unalaska (800 miles Southwest of Anchorage) is booming - perhaps one of the few places in the world not suffering financial difficulties.
2. Evidently these treeless hills are green in the summer – but our day was bleak, wet and windy.
3. An exciting welcome – a lone bald eagle, the first of many we would see. The island’s people population is only 5000 friendly, helpful folks.
4 & 5. The 1824 Church of Holy Ascension (Orthodox), a national historic landmark and one of the top ten most endangered.
6. World War 2 Memorial park.
7. Fishing boats line a small boat harbor and cannery. Millions of pounds of King Crab, Snow Crab, Halibut, Cod and Herring are caught, processed and exported by the fleets and canneries. Unemployment is only 2%.
8, 9 & 10. Locals call the Bald Eagles “dumpster divers”. Seems the fishing is good for everyone!
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Posted by Swenigale 23:21

TUESDAY, APRIL 21 PETROPAVLOVSK, RUSSIA

1. We were on Russia’s Far East Kamchatka peninsula – in the city founded in 1740 by Vitus Bering which has only been opened to outsiders since 1991! It is 9 time zones away from Moscow, is not connected by roads to anywhere, and there are 68 active volcanoes! Black ash can be found everywhere on the snow and ice.
2 &3. The Russian Orthodox Church, which was a theater during the Soviet era, and is now a church once again. Orthodox Easter was celebrated on April 19th. Their new church is being built behind it and to the right.
4. Most Russian towns have torn down their statues of Lenin – not here. The kids here refer to the statue as “Batman”.
5. It was a cold, snowy day so from a hill over the town we could see the bay, our ship, and some hills – but none of the volcanoes.
6 & 7. The Natural History Museum of Kamchatka.
8 & 9, Entrance to the local market where you can buy fur hats, dried fish, and caviar – but only if you have Rubles.
10. Our “Sail-away” was delayed by two hours (due, perhaps, to all the Russian paperwork) and we started on our way across the Bering Sea. Every night now for 7 nights we have been turning our clocks ahead by one hour, and since we will be crossing the International Dateline heading east we will be having two Thursdays!
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Posted by Swenigale 18:16

FRIDAY, APRIL 17 YOKOHAMA, JAPAN (PART 2)

(We are out of Japanese waters, so we expect to have internet connection from now on.)
1. On our 2nd day in Yokohama we walked within a 2 mile radius of the port. This clock tower, built in 1917, is affectionately known as “Jack”.
2. Yay! We found more Cherry Blossoms.
3. Shiloh Presbyterian Church – one of Japan’s oldest Protestant churches, founded in 1874.
4. Five toddlers, two adults and a rope (with handles!).
5 & 6. Even on a cloudy day, something draws us skyward. Today it was the top of “Landmark Tower” and its 360 degrees.
7. Maybe I was unduly excited – but I have never seen a curved escalator!
8. Okay, who got the Ferris Wheel - building contract in Japan? This one is part of an amusement park – and look where the roller coaster goes!
9. We felt like we were in Quincy Market in Boston! This market is only seven years old – I wonder where they got the idea? It is the “Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse” and Flower Garden – right on the water front. Boston really needs to get a Ferris wheel too!
10. A misty good-bye from Yokohama “…and I think to myself, what a wonderful world!”.
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Posted by Swenigale 19:21

THURSDAY, APRIL 16 YOKOHAMA / TOKYO, JAPAN (PART 1)

1. This is the beginning of the 7th and final segment and since the Serenity still does not have full power, itinerary changes have been made. We will not be stopping in Otaru, Japan and we will be docked in Russia on April 21st instead of the 22nd.
2. Yokohama Overseas terminal with a gracious welcoming ceremony.
3. In Tokyo (a short train ride from Yokohama) we passed these young ladies (guides in training?).
4-8. The Imperial Palace East Garden is a calm oasis in the city of over 11 million people!
9. In the Yokohama train station we found Kimono stores, where beautiful creations can be made to order.
10. This beautiful Kimono was for pictures only – and it weighs about 8 pounds!
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Posted by Swenigale 15:51

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15 SHIMIZU, JAPAN

1. Mt. Fuji from the Serenity as we sailed into Shimizu. We were so lucky to have a clear view (somewhat rare, we were told).
2 & 3. We had a hero’s welcome from the townspeople and port authorities. The 4th graders performed their phys-ed routines while the adorable younger kids looked on. A brass band played Sousa marches too!
4. Ed and the Mayor of Shimizu – it just happened – they were gracious and happy hosts.
5. Mt. Fuji is snowless in the summertime, so I think this was the perfect time to see it. It is an active volcano, but the Japanese people deal with volcanoes, earthquakes, typhoons (and North Koreans) as part of life.
6. God’s art (Fuji, cherry blossoms) was complemented by our visit to the Shizuoka Prefecture Museum of Art and its collections made by man.
7 & 8. Some cherry tree varieties are still blooming.
9 & 10. People gathered to wave good-bye and we snapped one more shot of the magnificent mountain.

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Posted by Swenigale 07:46

TUESDAY, APRIL 14 OSAKA, JAPAN

1 - 4. We are a bit late for Japan’s famous Cherry Blossom festivals, but some blossoms still clung to the trees as we visited Osaka Castle. The impenetrable fortification was built by Hideyoshi Toyomori toward the end of the 16th century.
5. Shitenno-ji, a 6th century Buddhist Temple – one of the oldest in Japan. 6. No photos of the Buddha statues allowed – so we settled for pictures of turtles – symbols of long life to the Japanese.
7. School girls like “Hello Kitty”.
8….So does Hästa.
9. Yup, we are in a mall – had to visit “Popcorn Papa”.
10. Ninja Hästa.
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Posted by Swenigale 06:51

SUNDAY, APRIL 12 NAGASAKI, JAPAN

Right now we are 12 miles away from Japan’s coastline and we can use the internet momentarily– surprise! - this will happen once more before the 18th.
1. The sun rose over the hills of Nagasaki as we held an Ecumenical Easter service onboard the Serenity. Later, an unusually warm day with bright sunshine and the excitement of Easter made us climb to the top of Mt. Nabekamuri Park Observatory.
2. We walked past Oura RC church – Japan’s oldest wooden church with a history worth googling!
3 & 4. Just to prove we climbed the mountain!
5. Large bees up there – surveillance drones?
6. We visited Peace Park, built to memorialize the war-ending events of August 9, 1945 and the Atomic Bomb museum. Both are located in the area of the “Hypocenter”.
7. The hope for peace, symbolized by the thousands of paper cranes made by school children.
8. Statues have been donated from around the world – this “Joy of Life” was give by Czechoslovakia in 1980.
9 & 10. Scottish businessman’s Thomas Glover’s estate, situated on Dutch Hill over-looking Nagasaki and the harbor. Puccini is said to have used the estate as the setting for “Madame Butterfly”.
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Posted by Swenigale 12:56

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