Friday, August 28, 2009


I am trying to remember the Russian expression my father used to use for a non- sequiter.

A Russian peasant walked in to a bar and ordered a vodka. Tossing that down he ordered another and another

He exclaimed to the bartender, "You aren't refilling my glass to the top!"

The phrase translates. "Well, of course,because you are leaving some in the bottom.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Back from Baltic cruise.

This is the one that Jean and I were to take last year when I was diagnosed with pneumonia and had to cancel.

This time there was a bonus package of six days in the Norwegian Fjords. The scenery in Norway is spectacular. The cities of Bergen and Oslo were showing their summertime charm.

At Flam we boarded a train up the mountain via a series of switchbacks transferred to another train that paused beside a cascading waterfall as we dismounted the train a loudspeaker began blasting music as a troll, actually three women dressed alike, danced at various levels in the mist.

We ate lunch at a village inn high in the mountains and then boarded a bus for a breathtaking descent on a one way road down the mountain.

In Estonia five cruise ships called the same day so we shared the small village square with five thousand other tourists.

There was some question as to whether we should take the three hour bus trip into Berlin but we did. AS cars zipped past out bus on the way in I assumed we were going about forty miles per hour actually we were doing a steady sixty. There is no speed limit for cars on the Autobahn.

We saw checkpoint Charlie and what is left of the Berlin Wall. Our guide who lived in the Russian zone before unification spoke about life in that era but little about WWII.

Two day in St. Petersberg were almost like a forced march. WE did a bus tour of the city. In the afternoon we went through the Hermitage which is spectacular. Prior to WWII the opulent reminders of czarist opulence and disregard for the masses were allowed to disintegrate. The Nazis set fire to them.

Many of the art treasures were buried in vaults on the grounds. The Germans searched for them because where ever they went they stole anything of value. Only after the war did the docents unlock the vaults and the palaces are being restored room by room to the delight of thousands of foreign and domestic tourists.

In the evening we attended a show of Russian dancers by an accomplished troupe.

The next day was a bus trip to Peterhof, the summer palace. Spectacular on its own it featured the restored gardens that rival anything I have seen on six continents.

I have rambled on and will skip my reminisces of charming Amsterdam delghful Oslo and cosmopolitan Copenhagen.