With a free launderette on every deck, you can pack a lot less!
We were in our late 70’s when we took our first cruise. Our second was on a Viking River Boat from Bucharest to Budapest. It was such a great experience that we then signed up for a Viking Ocean Cruise on the Viking Sun. We are now in the fifth day of that cruise. First thoughts are important, so… here are mine.
Our cruise, South America and Cape Horn, is from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Santiago, Chile.
- The ship is small – only 930 passengers.
- There are no children aboard.
- There are few additional costs – beer and wine with meals are free; one free tour in each port; and 24 hour free room service. The wi-fi is free. Old people are cheap. Viking, by including almost everything in the fare, makes “traveling while old” (TWO) much easier and more pleasant.
- Viking has some sort of deal with the countries we stopped in. Viking kept our passports and we could go ashore using our Viking ID cards. No one ever checked us on land; we were carefully checked when boarding the ship.
- There are expert lecturers on board, including a ship’s historian who presented talks about every port. In addition there are movies, musicals, classes, etc.
- The staff is a diverse international group and the most friendly and helpful people I have ever met.
- There is a free launderette on every deck, which means next time I can travel with one change of clothing; a great fitness center with the best exercise machines I have experienced; all the usual spa treatments; hot tubs, saunas; and, a 1/4 mile walking path on deck 2. (This was sometimes cold and windy.) These were great because only a few people took advantage of them.
- Most of the passengers had been on several Viking cruises and half were on the Round The World Cruise which could last for up to 160 days, or so. The rest of us just filled in the empty spaces between the Round the World ports of call.
- The only “dress code” is no jeans/shorts at dinner in the main and speciality dining rooms. Not only was a coat and tie not required, but no one was wearing either in the speciality dining rooms. No extra charge for specialty dining.
- At 78, I think I was a bit over the average age, but not by much.
Those are my initial thoughts; but, I have two weeks to go.
In December of 2018 we went on a Road Scholar Trip that included white water rafting. Think about it. What do I do with my hearing aids? What if l the boat turns over? Will I get wet? Can i trust the guide? How big are the boats? Can I get out of it without loosing face at 78?
Needless to say, I did it. For 5 dollars before I left Albuquerque, I bought a “water proof” small fannie pack, then didn’t use it because I deemed it best to leave my hearing aid in the van. I couldn’t hear the guide, but I sat in the back so I could watch the other three old people paddling up front. No problems, but I did get wet.
The water wasn’t bad, level 2. It was lower than usual as water had not been released from the dam up-stream and we slipped over rocks. There were a few drops, and of course, I got soaked.
There was a photographer in a kayak who constantly passed us, stood on the bank, took our photos, and then sold the photos to us at the end of the trip. Well worth the $20.
Toward the end we stopped for pineapple and water melon.
All in all, it was worth it, even though it was out of my comfort zone.
In 1971 a bunch of homeless people (hippies) took possession of an abandoned military base in the center of Copenhagen, Denmark and Freetown Christiania was born.
A few years ago I visited Christiania in Copenhagen, Denmark. It has become one of the major tourist attractions in Copenhagen and home to about 600 people; and took me back to the 1960’s. Since 1971, Christiania has evolved and has become a co-op instead of a squatters’ habitat.
When I was there, there were signs warning about marijuana which was freely sold, although illegal; there were simple restaurants; there were all sorts of craft stands; and houses in various forms of construction. The organization was informal but in 2012 they voted on who could live there and had developed some form of ownership and property rights.
The hippies resisted all efforts by the government to remove them. They have entered into contracts for utilities and trash; and , have obtained not only the right to own the property, but have government loans to finance the property.
The set-up is largely like a co-op with the existing residents voting on new residents and making the rules, such as they are.
It is located a 30 minute ride or a 45 minute walk from the Central Train Station. You might still get illegal marijuana with little apparent risk from the authorities, but there may now be internal restrictions. Times are changing and hippies are growing older. Maybe they should look to medical marijuana?
It is worth a visit; especially if you grew up in the 60’s and it is going strong today. I don’t know how many of the original squatters are still there, but they would probably be in their 60’s.
It may even give you a few ideas as you grow older; and, feel the need of a delayed alternative lifestyle.
For more pictures and reasons to visit Christiania, see : Buzzfeed
Google: Christiania for up-to-date information and “alternative tours.”
I can’t help but update this blog to show you the New York Times review of the restaurant NOMA near Christiania.
A second update showing problems in Christiania is reported by The New York Times, even though it has become a major tourist attraction.
Iceland has had some basic equal rights for women, by law, since June 13, 1720. The Sea Women’s exhibit at the Maritime Museum in Reykjavik celebrates the role of fisherwomen, who received equal pay as fisherwomen from 1720 to today.
The exhibit at the Vikin Maritime Museum located on the waterfront in Reykjavik, a short walk from the center of town.
The Vikin Maritime Museum has permanent and changing exhibits dealing with Iceland’s fishing history. The For Cod’s Sake exhibit traces Iceland’s fight with Great Britain over territorial waters; resulting in a win for Iceland and the extension of the territorial limit to 200 miles. The net result was that numerous British and Scottish long distance fishing companies went out of business.
This exhibit will lead you to other sites reflecting women’s rights in Iceland, a pioneer in the recognition of women’s equality.
The museum is open daily from 10 to 5 and is free if you are over 67; like many museums in Iceland.
In Albuquerque, NM I visited the 2926 Restoration Project. The New Mexico Steam locomotive and Railroad Historical Society is restoring a steam engine that hit the tracks on May 17, 1944. It travelled 1,090,539 miles. It is being completely restored by volunteers and will be put back into service for excursions soon, we hope.
You can visit the restoration project on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1833 8th NW, Albuquerque, New Mexico. One of the members will give you a tour and explain what the restoration.
It is close to Old Town and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
Try Cafe Azul for the best huevos rancheros with Hatch green chile – get the papitas, not the hash browns. BUT: the hot Hatch green chile may take you way out of your comfort zone. Remember you can always have it on the side.
In September there is always the model railroad exhibit at the state Fair. If you like New Mexico trains, ride the Amtrak, the Railrunner, and the Cumbres and Toltec narrow gage. At Christmas, take the Cumbres and Toltec through the snow.
You can see a video showing the history and restoration of 2926 on You Tube.
100 yards from my home there is a walking/bike path, the Paseo del Bosque Trail, which runs for 18 miles without crossing a street. The asphalt part has two lanes for bikes, runners and walkers. The gravel path next to it is ideal for walking. It is about 100 yards from the Rio Grande River and is the home of coyotes, owl, ducks, geese, beavers, and numerous birds.
It attracts balloons, bikers, walkers, runners, baby carriages and dogs on leashes. (A dog off the leash is a free lunch for a coyote, as are neighborhood chickens.)
A few miles down the path, you come to Tingley Beach where you can boat and fish. You also have the Albuquerque Zoo, the Albuquerque Aquarium, and the Albuquerque Bio-park. Going in the other direction for a half a mile you come to the Nature Center and a small pond. There are walking paths leading to the Rio Grande River. There is limited access and no motor vehicles.
The Path joins other paths. There is now a 50 mile activity path circling the city. I have heard that there are also people starting to walk the entire 50 miles over a several day period; sort of civic pilgrimage route.
The Paseo del Bosque Trail is ideal for older people. You can walk, ride bikes or push grandchildren. You can always meet a few people who you know if you are a regular. The open-space officers will point out nesting birds each spring; especially owls and hawks which are regulars. There are birders with their GPS devices locating various species of birds.
The balloons follow the path and the river; and sometimes land on our street. They are a daily occurrence.
It is a valuable city asset.
I am addicted to restaurants while travelling and since we spend a lot of time in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, I have three favorite restaurants, and a grocery store.
Crabby Bills: Every morning I walk a mile and a half down the beach to Crabby Bill’s, which has been family owned since its founding in 1983. The morning crowd consists of older patrons who are vacationing. or living, near the beach. It is a sports bar, restaurant and hang-out for the under 30 crowd the rest of the day and until 2:00 AM.
The All-American Breakfast is my choice, with 2 eggs, potatoes, crisp bacon and toast for $6. Then it is a mile and a half walk back to the rented condo. In the evening, you can get the menu to go.
Guppy’s: A short walk and excellent food with daily specials; indoors or out. Great fish. The Grouper is expensive as it is over-fished. Small plates and you can share. I get three sides; grilled octopus, spinach and Caesar Salad. Octopus is available thanks to the large Greek community. New Mexico restaurants tend not to serve octopus, so it is always a treat.
A small French restaurant in the edge of Belair and next to Largo and Indian Rocks Beach. Run by a French couple, it is always good and one of our favorite stopping places each time we come.
The desert is great, especially if you can try three at once. Eat desert first, life is short.
The lamb shanks can’t be beat. Not always available but when they are, well worth ordering.
If you want to do your own thing with food prepared for you, take a look at Publix Grocery Stores which now have prepared meals that you cook. There is salmon, meatballs, etc. We tried chicken breasts with feta cheese and spinach and it was great. Cheaper than a restaurant meal and it can be eaten with a glass of wine on your rented condo balcony. The sunset over the Gulf of Mexico is better than any restaurant; and quieter.
I like museums, but not for the reasons you might think. I have spent 60 years going to museums and have been overwhelmed by the shear volume of items and my lack of ability to be selective in my viewing. I have been to art museums, archeology museums, and science museums. I have been to big museums and tiny museums.
Museums have become a blur; they are useful, however; especially if you are studying something – you can see how in idea or a concept developed over time. You can get new ideas and make new connections to old idea; which is especially rewarding to an old person.
These days, I go to museums with altered goals. I am interested in the creative side of museums and the ways in which they present new ideas and spark creativity and imagination. I am interested in new connections to my distant past. I like large international museums because they have great cafes and almost always serve local wine. In fact, I usually start with the cafe.
Our recent trip to Indian Rocks Beach led us to the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida. It has all the art basics; a chronology from various schools with representative samples; including two Georgia O’Keeffe’s, which I appreciated, coming from New Mexico.
First, the Cafe . It is simple, pleasant, and worthy of the museum. It is located in the entrance hall and the food is great. With our menus, we received a plate of scones. They were so good, we asked if we could order some to take with us. We received an additional free plate of 5 scones, three of which we took with us.
Scones at the museum.
The menu gave us a variety of choices and allowed us to share a plate; a requirement for couples of our age.
Since I had a Bank of America credit card, my entry into the museum was free; next time, I will have my wife bring her card, so we can both get in free. Old people are cheap, even when they don’t have to be. Bank of America Credit Cards give free access to about 150 museums the first week of the month through its Museums on Us program.
Once inside, I did a quick run through, checked out the Georgia O’Keeffes and then went looking for the special exhibits, which I found more interesting and which touched some dormant part of my imagination.
The first was Selfies which was a collection of self photographs that preceded cell phones. Interesting.
The exhibit that got my attention was outside the museum, where Haider Ali, an artist from Pakistan, was painting a Prius. The exhibit, Live car painting by Haider Ali, reminded me of Espanola, NM where the City Council recently declared Espanola as the “Lowrider Capitol of the World.”
Prius by Haider Ali
Having gone through Espanola many times, and having been amazed at how stock cars could be modified and painted, I was surprised to find an artist from Pakistan painting a Prius in St. Petersburg, Florida. My first thought was that he should go to Espanola, some Sunday.
Finally, there were signs on lawn. An interesting idea that could be copied anywhere. Intriguing, because the only part that required skill, was coming up with the idea; everything else was done by volunteers.
The bottom line is that I enjoyed the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida, for all the wrong reasons, but which gave me something to take away.
TWO (Traveling While Old) requires food. I don’t eat in fancy restaurants; and, I am cheap and dress “old.” McDonald’s is good for the “senior coffee” and the free Wi-Fi, but there are lots of other places that you might find more interesting than fast food hangouts.
Off-the-wall alternatives are available. Here are ten to consider. Use the internet to find times and locations.
1. Hospitals: Long hours, usually healthful food, but almost always a fried option. In Albuquerque try University of New Mexico Hospitals, cafeteria.
2. Universities: They have to feed students, faculty and staff and have a variety of food and long hours. The prices are reasonable and it is fun to see what you looked like fifty years ago. You can also find cheap movies, lectures and other activities. Parking is a pain, consider the bus; many have free shuttles to free parking. Certainly out of your comfort zone.
3. Museums: The US is catching up to Europe with museum cafes and restaurants. Visit exhibits and discover special events. When you search for the museum, check for cafes and menus. Plan a meal there; and, look for unique menus and specials tied to art. It may surprise you. And, frequently they have wine.
4. Cooking Schools: Every large town has a cooking school; attend, learn something and eat what you cook. I took my 14- year-old granddaughter to Paris and the thing she seemed to like best was the cooking school. She learned to make macaroons and received a box to take home to her parents. In Paris, sign up in advance.
5. Food Trucks: You can spot them parked on vacant lots, along the street, or at shopping centers. They are fancier than the usual hot dog carts found in downtown areas. Web pages list food trucks and give you a location and time. In Albuquerque on Wednesday noon they gather at the Talin Market, in the International Zone. The market is worth a visit just to see the variety of foods. Don’t be afraid. Move outside your comfort zone. Food trucks offer a variety of foods, often cooked by creative new chefs who can’t afford a fixed site.
7. Senior Centers: All towns have Senior Centers. You can usually find a cup of coffee, breakfast and lunch, although you may have to order lunch a day in advance. You can eat cheap food with other old people. There is usually a bulletin board that lists things to do; day trips, computer help, etc. You may have to join, but that is usually cheap. I have never had any problem just walking in and looking around; having a twenty cent cup of coffee and a twenty-five cent box of popcorn. I have also discovered cheap trips where I don’t have to do the driving. Think Crown Point rug auction.
Here is my $1.75 breakfast with a 25 cent cup of coffee eaten at my local Senior Center:
8. Whole Foods: Groceries, but also – sandwiches – salad bar – prepared foods and a place to sit and eat. The food is good, varied and available all day. Good for a coffee and a bagel in the morning; sandwiches for lunch, salad bar, and a whole variety of food for dinner, to eat in or take back to your motel room, along with a bottle of wine in Albuquerque and Tucson. At 73 you don’t want to be picked up for DWI after a few glasses of wine at a restaurant. Watching a movie in your hotel room with a good bottle of wine, and a variety of food from the deli is not all bad; besides they have nice deserts. Most motel rooms are quieter than restaurants.
9. Diners, Drive Ins and Dives: This show on the Food Network takes you to places all over the country. Interesting to visit, a mini-goal for your trip, and, you can always check them out on-line. I have enjoyed the ones that I have visited, both in Albuquerque and Florida.
10. Costco: If you have a card, you can’t beat the hot dog and drink for $1.50.
Look beyond the restaurants in the guide books. Experience the community and learn something new while getting interesting food at a fraction of the cost of a fancy restaurant. Besides, all of the above places are usually fairly quiet, have no music playing, and are convenient. Important if, like the geezer, you are old and deaf.
A final, tongue-in-cheek idea. Large Assisted Living facilities will usually give you a free meal if you listen to the sales pitch and take the tour. You should really take a look at a few of these as they are closer than you think.
Above all, consider sharing a plate; even if it costs you $3.
We have been coming to Indian Rocks Beach, Florida for several years. Initially we rented a place a few blocks from the beach, but still walkable. For the last three years we have rented a place right on the beach, with a view of the water.
We rent a car, even though there is pretty good public transportation.
We have a routine.
Watching the sea, especially in the evening when the sun goes down, is very relaxing. We come in September, after Labor Day, because it is cheaper, there are fewer people, and we can watch the changes in the weather. Twice, we have been delayed as we followed the hurricanes in.
Hurricanes are scary, but interesting; not only for the changes in the weather, but to watch the destructiveness of the wind and water and the foolishness of people caught up in hurricanes; pre, during and post hurricane.
We fly into Tampa, rent a car at the airport through Costco, and try to find our way out of the airport complex – if you are old and they change the rental car locations, you are glad you come and go on a Saturday, when there was less traffic. There is a 4 story escalator, which didn’t bother you at 50, but which gets your attention at 78. Then a 10 minute train ride to all of the rental agencies and the huge indoor rental car garage.
The beach is a relief and calming. We have a balcony overlooking the water, an indoor well-lit garage for your car, and an elevator.
The beach is swept every morning, the sand is white, This year there was a red tide problem, but except for a couple of days of dead fish on the beach, didn’t bother us.
September can be a problem. It is the month for construction work and repairs, some restaurants are closed, hurricanes can be a problem, and this year the red tide lasted longer than usual. However; in September it is low season so rates are cheaper, traffic is reduced, no problem finding seats in restaurants, no crowds, no spring breaks, changing weather and cooler weather. If you are old, September is the month for you. The whole atmosphere is recharging.
Walking a couple of miles a day on the beach in the early morning is a benefit. Walking to Crabby Bills for breakfast is great. The breakfast is cheap, filling and interesting. Nothing like TV’s broadcasting football games from who knows where at 8 in the morning – the bar also operates at 8 – you can eat outside. It is not crowded and the wait-staff is friendly.
There are numerous book boxes where you can take a book and leave a book. The Largo Library has a genealogy section and there is an Indian Rocks Library with computers, papers, magazines and books for sale.
At night you can walk to a few restaurants including Guppy’s, where you can share a plate and eat octopus.
If you are old, you want to be able to walk if you are going to have wine. News articles about seniors who have accidents always say “an elderly man was driving…” Can you imagine being in the drunk tank at 78? or, trying to walk a straight line, even if you could hear the cop’s directions??
The bottom line is that time spent watching the sea is recharging; especially if you are old. It is a nice rhythm.
Check it out!