On February 6, 2019 while on a Viking Sun cruise, we visited the ship’s galley. The galley tour, like the bridge tour, is not advertised due to space limitations, so if you want to take the tour on any ship ask. You should also ask about any other tours that are not advertised.
The Viking Sun carries 930 passengers and a crew of about 450. This works out to 4140 meals prepared and served each day, plus 24 hour free room service and other food outlets open from early morning to late at night. Preparation of this food requires 106 chefs and a large number of support staff.
The several kitchens are spotless and computer controlled as far as food that has been ordered, cooked and delivered to one of the dining areas. The ship’s nurse checks the cooking staff’s hands each day for long or dirty finger nails.
Everything is made from scratch except for gluten bread. Viking Chefs make the gelato, all pastries and everything else from scratch. The pastry chefs start baking at 10:00 PM so that bread, bagels, muffins and other items are available in time for breakfast.
In addition at the World Cafe, line chefs cook eggs, pancakes and waffles to order in front of you.
In addition, they must have a massive wine room as house wine is free at lunch and dinner. In South America it was from countries that we were stopping at.
Escalators and dumb waiters speed the food from deck one to the restaurants on higher desks. Food goes up in a dumb waiter separate from the one that carries waste and dirty dishes down.
On February 1, 2019, while on a Viking Cruise, we took a train ride on a prison train that was built by Argentine prisoners in the early 20th Century.
A prison for hard-core and political prisoners was established in Ushuaia, Argentina in 1896 and the prisoners built their own prison.
They needed a train to haul wood from the nearby forests, so they laid the tracks and built a railway to haul wood and prisoners. Today, the train only hauls tourists and has expanded to about a half-dozen small trains running on narrow-gage tracks.
The trains are duplicates of the original prison trains and there is a shop at the station to repair and build them.
Each car has about 6 compartments with six seats facing each other in each compartment. It is a tight fit and you are warned about sticking your hands, or other body parts, out the windows.
The engines are steam engines, modified to run on diesel fuel instead of firewood to reduce the danger of a fire. There are water towers to add water to the steam boilers.
You can find out about the train and buy tickets at: Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino
The train station is about 20 minutes outside Ushuaia so you will need to be on a tour or take a taxi.
Following the train ride through beautiful country, with fields of horses, you take a bus to Terro del Fuego National Park, with its lake and hiking trails.
The trip is fascinating and the prison was closed in 1947 due to corruption and horrible prison conditions.
There is no truth to the rumor that cruise lines weigh passengers when they board and when they leave, and that the one who gains the most weight gets a free trip. But, it seems that way. There is food everywhere and all the time. I keep looking for the resident gerontologist.
That said, cruise ships also have great fitness facilities and an assortment of food that allows you to eat only what is good for you.
The fitness facilities on the Viking Sun are great and decidedly Scandinavian. The rule here is: “Showing up is half the battle.” If you can move down a deck or two, you will be one of a handful of people who use the facilities. It is like the health club you belong to. (for free with Silver Sneakers). There are a few dozen out of hundreds of members who actually show up regularly.
On our Viking Sun Ocean Cruise the fitness facilities stood out even if only used by a few of us. We are the new 1 %, only it is health not money that moves us into this category of old people.
Viking Sun has:
- A quarter-mile walking track with a half-dozen walkers. Great except for windy days.
- Fitness classes including yoga, Pilates, etc.
- Trainers for a fee.
- The best machines that I have ever used; and, I used them daily along with about a dozen others. (Out of 930 passengers, none of whom were children, there were few in the fitness rooms.)
- The usual spa treatments, massages, hair stylists, manicures, etc.
- A swimming pool
- A salt water whirl pool; a regular whirl pool; and a sauna.
- In addition and unusual on a cruise ship, a cold water bucket and the snow grotto. I tried the snow grotto – man-made snow in a glassed-in room kept at freezing temperature. I did not try the water bucket. These two reflect the Scandinavian love of hot and cold.
The snow grotto.
The cold water bucket.
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, 2018, I visited the Ox Cart Factory in Sarchi, Costa Rica. It was established in 1923 and operates today much as it did then. Wheels were made with steel rims and were huge. The most interesting thing about the factory is that is was a pre-industrial revolution factory. The power for the line shaft came from a stream that flowed for 2 miles before turning a large waterwheel which in turn powered numerous belts throughout the factory. These belts ran all the machines in the factory including saws, drill presses and stamping machines.
They only make large ox carts today if specially ordered and they cost about $6000; however, they have a huge store with small ox carts for tourists and for tourist rides. They also sell comfortable rocking chairs which they ship to the US. Take a look at Costaricanmarket.com.
The history is set out in the Tico Times, the Costa Rican English language newspaper.
Well worth the trip just to see the waterwheel in operation.
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.
Two years age I attended the Matanza in Belen, NM where I ate my fill of roasted whole hog, beans, chile, and tortillas. This year it is scheduled for January 26, 2019 from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM at Eagle Park in Belen, NM, about 30 miles South of Albuquerque, NM.
Matanzas involve roasting a whole pig overnight in a pit dug in the ground. It is a celebration for all your family and friends. It involves a lot of home-made food and too much drinking. The first one I attended was when I came to Albuquerque over 50 years ago and was held on Thanksgiving Day. Lou had obtained a 300 pound hog and the night before it was placed in a pit in his backyard, wrapped in wet burlap, and laid on top of a huge bed of coals. The hog was then covered with coals and dirt and left to roast for twelve hours.
It was hoisted out of the pit, unwrapped, and the meat fell off the bones. More beer, pinto beans, tortillas, salad and pork made the Thanksgiving Dinner one that I remember to this day.
The one in Belen is more organized, raising money for charity. It costs $15 and is preceded by judges determining who made the best red chile, pork, tortillas and chicharrones. There are long lines and no shortage of beer. It is best to come early.
You can read about the “World’s Largest Matanza” in the January 2018 issue of New Mexico Magazine. The article, “Whole Hog” by Gwyneth Doland is worth reading. The article also contains recipes if you want to create your own Matanza, and tells you where to buy a whole hog. Go for it.
The 2017 Belen Matanza was the first I attended.
For instructions see the Weekly Alibi
Several weeks ago we went to visit a relative in Orange County, CA. We were supposed to go to Alpine, CA, but due to the fire situation, we ended up at their home in Orange.
A homeless family of feral cats had taken up residence outside their front gate; a mother and two small kittens. By chance, they trapped the female kitten in a fenced area next to the garage and adopted her. When we arrived, the kitten had disappeared. They had kept it in a closed second bathroom along with their washer and dryer. The cat was gone.
Using tuna as bait we hoped to entice the cat out of its hiding place. We thought she was behind the washer and dryer. The tuna was set out, and a string was tied to the washer/dryer closet door. The cat would come out, we would see the cat, jerk the string and prevent the cat from going back behind the washer/dryer. Nothing happened! For several hours we watched the door and held the string. Nothing.
We took a break, shut the bathroom door and a short time later, the tuna was gone.
Prior to our arrival, a four-foot cat cage had been delivered for the cat. We took a break and put the cage together; not a simple task, but the feral kitten could not run free.
The cage being ready, we turned our attention back to the bathroom again. Nothing. No cat. No tuna.
We went to Best Buy and bought a wireless camera that could be hooked up to a cell phone. We placed the camera in the bathroom and aimed at the washer/dryer and another helping of tuna. After some time, the cat appeared, ate the tuna and disappeared; but not in the direction of the washer/dryer.
We pointed the camera at the sink and toilet and set out another helping of tuna.
At 11:00 at night the cat came out, ate the tuna and disappeared behind the sink. We caught it on the cell phone. On checking the base of the sink, we discovered it was hollow and the kitten was hiding inside the base.
The kitten was moved to the cat cage and kept there except when it was being held. It is still feral – look at its eyes – even when it is being petted.
The mother and the brother are still waiting outside the house, but the sister is on the way to domestication.
Since this was first written, the mother has given birth to 2 or 3 more kittens; more feral cats. The next step is to catch the mother and take her to the vet for a bit of surgery.
Makes one wonder about all the feral children that are being separated from their parents at the border. But maybe being kept in pens with dozens of other children is not the same thing….. Maybe I just imagine that I see the kitten we captured in those kids. It is amazing how much the cat cage looks like the cages for immigrant children being held near the border.
Wireless Security Camera https://www.bestbuy.com/site/lorex-indoor-4mp-wi-fi-security-camera-silver-black/5824309.p?skuId=5824309
Cat Playpen https://www.chewy.com/midwest-collapsible-cat-playpen/dp/45740
Feral Cats https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feral_cat
Feral children https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feral_child
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.
Old people are stupid! Including me. I think I am the same person I was 20 years ago, even though my daily visit to the mirror tells me different. I think I can do the same things that I did 20 years ago, and that there will be no consequences. The worst thing is I think I am as competent and as smart as I was 20 years ago. WRONG!
Old people need hints to make life easier and more convenient, not to mention safer. The idea is not to live long, but to live well for as long as you can. Living in rehab is NOT living well. There are a few steps you can take. I will post them as I think of them and you can do with them as you please.
REMEMBER: Don’t focus on longevity, focus on living the best life that you can, while you can.
# 1 Grab Bar as Towel Rack
Why are grab bars important to old people?
Falls are one of the greatest causes of a miserable life. Think about it:
- You are prone to falling after a certain age.
- Grab bars are usually only in the tub or shower. Towel racks are not changed out. Yet, if you get out of a tub, the first thing you will grab for is a towel rack. So, why not replace the towel rack with a grab bar. One time grabbing hold of your old towel rack will convince you. Look at your towel rack. It sort of hangs on to a couple of screws. How many times has it come apart when you tried to hang a towel on it?
- You usually don’t wear your alert button in the shower.
- You usually shower alone; unlike years ago, a dim memory, if you even remember. Consider showering with a friend – for your own well-being, but two old people trying not to fall gives rise to a whole new blog idea.
- The bottom of the tub or shower tends to be slippery, thanks to soap.
- If you fall:
- It may take hours, or days, to find you if you live alone; or if your spouse is of questionable competency.
- If you break something, it is a trip to the hospital; then to rehab; then to assisted living: then ……….
- Breaks are painful.
- You may have locked the bathroom door.
- You don’t have your cell phone handy; and, it is usually not charged. And, you may not be any good at using it.
- You will feel like a fool lying naked on the bathroom floor when the para-medics break down the door to get you; or, when a friend who hasn’t heard from you for a few days comes to check on you.