communication, complaints, condescending twatbags, rants, slut shamers

You really don’t need to comment either way…

On this date in 2012, I took the featured photo in Cologne, Germany. We were on our very first “hop”, which took us to Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg. I spotted this sticker on utility equipment and snapped a photo. It fits today’s topic perfectly.

Happy Sunday, folks. It’s another pretty, late spring morning here, and already 69 degrees Fahrenheit, which is pretty nice. I know it’s hard to fathom to those of you in the southern United States, but it’s still a bit chilly in Germany. I don’t look forward to the hot, un air-conditioned days that are coming, but right now, the weather is getting more pleasant.

Our Nordic holiday is rapidly approaching. I have experienced Scandinavian and Baltic countries in the summer, and I know that it will behoove us to bring layers. I remember the first time we went to Norway, back in June 2009, and we both had to buy warmer clothes. Bill got two sweaters, and I got a hoodie and a sweatshirt. I loved the hoodie and was pretty sad when I lost it after our 2014 “hop” to France and Germany from Texas. Perhaps I’ll find a new one when we’re up there.

I’m kind of glad we’re going up north next month. I probably won’t be wearing a bathing suit in public. Maybe I’ll wear one on the cruise ship, but I’ll bring a robe with me. Actually, one thing I’ve noticed and really enjoyed in Europe is the less judgmental and shitty attitude people tend to have about other people’s bodies. This is especially true in Germany, where there are a lot of health spas in which being nude is a requirement. I’ll admit, as an American, it was hard for me to embrace the idea of being nude in a “public” place. However, once I did it, I found the experience very liberating. Nudity isn’t a big deal here, so you see all kinds of people at the spa. All of them are there for themselves, and it’s not a big deal if you don’t have a bikini or Speedo worthy body.

Yesterday, a friend shared the below post on Facebook. I liked it, so I decided to share it, too.

I added the comment, “Yup. Zip it.”

Now… I’m going to clarify. Personally, I don’t objectively think that every body is necessarily beautiful. However, I do believe that (almost) every person has basic worth. I do think that we should show basic respect to people, and do our best to preserve their dignity. I completely agree with the original poster’s statements that people don’t need to make comments about other people’s bodies, positive or negative. You really don’t need to comment either way. I honestly don’t see why people feel emboldened to make such personal comments to people, especially when they are total strangers.

A lot of my friends saw the above post and liked it. However, I did get one comment that I’m afraid has given me something to write/rant about this morning. It was actually a little embarrassing on many levels. A family member, seeing the above post, wrote this:

You look GREAT๐Ÿ’•

In fairness, this family member is related by marriage. She’s married to my dad’s first cousin (my first cousin once removed– Granny’s nephew– and the son of my fabulous late Aunt Estelle, who was hilarious). She has known my parents for years, though, because she’s from the Tidewater area, and used to patronize my parents’ business. One time, we went to our annual Thanksgiving shindig and she was there with cousin Jimmy. She didn’t even know Jimmy was my dad’s cousin, and asked us what the hell we were doing there!

I’m not sure if this relative knew me when I was growing up. She probably saw me a few times, since my parents’ business was run out of their house. However, she hasn’t seen me in person since 2014. Moreover, it’s pretty obvious if you actually READ the post before reacting or commenting, that I am not the original poster. Anyway, I wrote this response, with a laughing reaction (though I kind of wanted to post an orange, angry reaction):

Uhโ€ฆ. That isnโ€™t me.

My relative posted this:

๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃoooops!

If my relative knew me better, she’d know that I never wear bikinis. I probably should wear them, since it’s easier to go to the bathroom if you have a two piece bathing suit. But when I do wear bathing suits, I prefer to wear one pieces. Anyway, I responded thusly:

When I go swimming, Iโ€™m usually nude. Plus, I could never grow my hair that long.

And this is the truth. In Germany, when I go swimming, it’s often at a health spa, and a lot of them are nude. So when I swim in Germany, I do often go swimming in the buff. When I’m not in Germany, I don’t wear bikinis. And I have never had long hair like the woman in the picture has. My hair simply won’t grow that long. I’ve tried.

My relative wrote:

I did notice her hair is longer than yours usually is!

Right. And did you also notice that she’s got darker hair than mine has been in years? She probably has a “better” figure than I have, too (although tastes differ). ๐Ÿ˜‰ I was a bit perturbed and it was later in the evening, so I made one more response.

Sheโ€™s also a bit younger.

People should be able to go swimming or whatever and not have people comment about their bodies. I like how it is in Germany. Nudity isnโ€™t a big deal here, so you see people of all shapes and sizes, especially at wellness spas. Nobody cares. Itโ€™s very liberating.

This was my main point. You don’t need to make a comment of any kind about other people’s bodies. You don’t need to reassure someone that they look “great”. You don’t need to compliment them, nor do you need to tell them they’re too fat, too thin, or need to wear a bra, shapewear, or a girdle. Just let them live in their own skin in peace.

If you must comment, try to pay attention to other things, like whether or not they look happy. Stop focusing so much on the external appearances of other people– especially those you don’t know personally. Most of them won’t care about your opinions either way, and by keeping your mouth shut, you avoid embarrassing and traumatic situations with strangers.

My relative still didn’t get it. She posted this…

You could pass for that ageโ€ฆwhatever that may be!

Well gee… thank you. But a compliment on my looks was not what I was hoping for when I shared that post, as much as I appreciate being complimented. It’s not that I don’t like being told I look young, or beautiful, or whatever else. I do like hearing sincere compliments. Sincere is the operative word, and really, compliments should come from someone whose opinions matter to me.

I did visit the original post, just to see what other people’s reactions to it were. Naturally, there were many comments about how “obesity isn’t pretty”. Some were from mansplaining males who expect women they deem unattractive to cover up. Some were, sadly, from women who harped on what’s beautiful and “healthy”. Others posted backassed things like, “I wouldn’t do it, but good for her.” A comment like that tells me that you’re trying to be “nice”, but you still disapprove. The woman in that photo doesn’t require your approval or your opinion. Just zip it, and mind your own business.

Everybody has a story. You have no idea what’s going on in that woman’s life. For all you know, she might have just lost a lot of weight. Or maybe she just gained a lot of weight. Maybe it’s the first time she’s been to the beach in years. Or maybe she visits the beach every day, and it’s her happy place. Who are you to intrude on her business with uninvited comments about her body? Why do you think she, or anyone else, should care what you think about her body? You’ve got your own body. Pay attention to that, instead.

I’ll be honest. I don’t like it when people make comments about my body. They almost never make me feel good, even when they’re positive. When they come from men, they make me feel skeevy. When they come from women, they make me feel bullshitted. And no matter what a person does, there’s always going to be someone who is critical. Even if everyone was an “acceptable” size for aesthetic purposes, there would always be someone out there with a criticism or a backhanded compliment. Seems to me that people really ought to just STFU about other people’s bodies and mind their own business.

Last weekend, I took some photos with Bill at a street food festival we attended. They turned out really nicely. Below is the photo currently serving as my profile picture.

Maybe I look “pretty” in this photo, but I would much rather someone say that I look happy.

One friend left a comment that I really appreciated. She wrote, “Great picture!” That’s really all anyone needs to say, if they say anything at all.

I know not everyone shares my opinions about this subject. My thoughts on this probably come from being raised by people who were very image conscious and constantly criticized me for not looking “good” at all times.

I can remember my dad grabbing me by the head and forcibly combing my hair as he claimed it “looked like a rat’s nest.”

I can remember my mom looking at me with disdain and saying, “Why don’t you go put on some makeup?” Alternatively, when I got dolled up, she’d pull out the camera for a photo… as if it was such a rare and momentous occasion that it demanded to be preserved for posterity’s sake.

I can remember both of them giving me endless shit about my weight when I was a teen and a young woman, even as I flirted with eating disorders. My dad called me names. My mom tried to bribe me with new clothes, as she pleaded with me to lose weight. It made me feel unloved, ugly, and unworthy, and eventually led me to depression bad enough that I saw a psychiatrist, who also fat and appearance shamed me (but did at least find the right antidepressant).

It took years after that to stop going on starvation diets as I constantly made derogatory comments about my body to anyone who would listen. I’m sure that was as tiresome for other people, as it was not helpful for me. I don’t want to go back down that road.

Years after my last appointment with that psychiatrist, I asked for his notes to be sent to me, because I needed to give them to the Army for an EFMP screening. I made the mistake of looking at what he wrote about me. He made quite a few comments about how I wasn’t losing weight, and how I looked “garish”. I guess he felt my clothes were too “loud” for being my size (about a 14 at the time). He gave me medication that was supposed to be used for migraine headaches and seizures for an off label use– it caused appetite suppression. He was obviously very disappointed when it didn’t cause me to lose scads of weight. (This experience, by the way, is the main reason I don’t go looking for people’s opinions about me or this blog. I’d probably rather not know.)

I already had little trust or regard for doctors at that point in my life, mainly due to the very disrespectful and traumatic way I was treated by an Air Force OB-GYN at my very first gyno appointment. When I read those notes by a psychiatrist, who was supposed to be helping me with depression, I trusted them even less. That doctor’s notes should have indicated things like whether or not I was appropriately dressed, or adequately groomed for the occasion. Comments about my weight might have been fair enough, but only in terms of my health. My personal makeup and clothing style should not have factored into my records at all. Using the word “garish” to describe me was completely inappropriate. I think he had a bias against people he deemed to be “too fat”, and felt entitled to share them with patients who came to him for help.

When I was younger, maybe I would have appreciated fake compliments about how “good” I looked over rude comments about body image. But today, at almost 51 years of age, I’d much rather people just focus on what’s important… and what’s important is NOT what my body looks like. Because if you think about it, people who body shame are basically expecting everyone who doesn’t meet their standards to just hide away somewhere until they’re more suitable for public view. That’s not a fair thing to ask of anyone. Moreover, most of the people who make those kinds of comments aren’t exactly hot shit themselves. 99.9% of the time, you really don’t need to make a comment at all… just zip it, and leave the person alone to enjoy their lives. By keeping your mouth shut, you will keep them from experiencing unnecessary trauma, and you will keep yourself in good karma. Just my thoughts.

And… just to end this post on an amen, the wonderful singer, Jane Monheit, posted this on Twitter in 2019:

I would also add… please don’t give people unsolicited advice, either. Especially on something as personal as their body image. If someone wants your advice or input, they’ll ask for it.

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blog news, travel

Just one month to go before it’s time to travel…

The featured photo was taken in February 2018, when we visited the Czech Republic and stumbled across a really cool Soviet era airplane museum. I trust Lufthansa will have more comfortable planes when we fly next month.

I don’t have a lot to write about this morning. Bill and I had a very nice weekend together. It’s great to have him home again. We made a video for younger daughter, and Bill talked to his mom on Skype. I talked to mine a few days ago and wished her a Happy Mother’s Day then.

I meant to watch Eurovision, since we finally got local TV, but I forgot it was on and hung out with Bill in our dining room, where we drank wine. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sweden won the contest. Maybe I’ll look for it on YouTube, but I find that Eurovision is more fun to watch live. We used to be in the habit of watching every year, even when we didn’t live in Europe. There were a couple of years we happened to be vacationing in Europe in May, when Eurovision airs.

Since today is May 15th, that means that it will soon be time for us to hop on a plane and go to Norway for a week before we get on our cruise in Sweden. Our flight to Oslo is on June 16th. I’m really looking forward to this trip, for so many reasons. If it goes well, maybe we’ll get back into traveling like we did pre-pandemic. Maybe I might even be persuaded to go back to the United States.

I find that I still love to travel, but as I get older, I don’t have the stamina I used to have. It’s too bad, since we have more money now than we did when we were younger. I just find nowadays that I value my alone time more. I think we’ll enjoy the cruise, but I also think I enjoy land based vacations more. We’ll see how we like Regent, though. It’s definitely going to be different for us.

When I told my mom about our trip, she said it sounded great… for us. I know kind of what she means. Mom is going to be 85 years old this year, and I think traveling is exhausting for her now. It’s tiring for me, and I’m only 50. But I love to see new places, try new things, eat different foods, and meet new people (within reason).

Then, after our big trip, it may be time to get a new dog… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sorry today’s post is kind of brief. I’m still kind of tired this morning. I woke up at 3:00AM and couldn’t get back to sleep. I feel drowsy as I type this, and I think I’ll probably need a nap sooner, rather than later. So, I think I’ll sign off, practice guitar, walk Noyzi, and crash for an hour or so. Maybe I’ll write more later… but I probably won’t. I need some inspiration.

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royals

King Charles gets crowned and gowned for all to see…

I genuinely looked forward to watching King Charles III’s coronation ceremony yesterday. Since I live in Germany, and Germany is an hour ahead of the United Kingdom, I didn’t even have to get up early to watch the whole thing live on my television. While I can understand why some people think the British monarchy should go, I can’t deny that I enjoy watching the pageantry of their traditions. And so it was yesterday, as I tuned in– first on German television, then on YouTube, where I found plenty of live coverage in English.

I think I love watching the British royals, not necessarily because of the family itself, but because I love all the sights and sounds of their parades. I love watching the horses, especially, all smartly decked out, prancing down the wide boulevard between Buckingham Palace and whichever church is hosting the main event of the day. Yesterday, it was Westminster Abbey again, but it’s not always Westminster Abbey.

I also love hearing the wonderful music invariably played at British royal events. Yesterday was no exception, as there were choirs and orchestras playing, and they sounded so gorgeous on my HomePod, hooked to my TV. Some of the music played was obviously composed for the coronation, including one piece that addressed Queen Camilla in song. Prince William and Princess Catherine both looked regal in their robes, and their children, as usual, were so beautifully behaved.

They’re next… maybe I’ll be around to see King William and Queen Catherine, someday.

The ceremony itself was interesting, although I confess that I fell asleep a couple of times. I think that had to do with the fact that I was watching it in bed and I don’t typically sleep all night without waking up at least once. So yes, I dozed off a couple of times, only to be startled awake by the beautiful music booming through the HomePod again.

I was a bit surprised to find out that the new king and queen are both anointed in oil. Charles had to undress, get anointed, and then get dressed again in different robes. Camilla was also anointed, although I don’t think they did it as part of the ceremony yesterday. Charles’s anointing took place behind giant screens with crosses on them.

It reminded me of what I’ve heard and read about LDS endowment ceremonies, where church members wear special garments that allow temple workers to anoint them with “sacred” oil. I kinda wonder if the church got that bit of the endowment ceremony from Britain’s coronation ceremony. But who knows? I’ve never been Mormon, and all of that stuff is probably only meaningful to those who attach meaning to it… which I don’t. Charles isn’t my king, and the LDS church isn’t my church.

I got a little choked up, anyway, though… because if I weren’t from the United States, I’d be British. Or really, I’d probably be Scottish. I think I inherited a lot of national traits from my ancestors, like a love of good music, an affinity for good spirits, a tendency toward depression, a quick wit, an appreciation for interesting stories, and an affection for time honored traditions. Most British royal ceremonies incorporate those things… I might even include depression, since I know not everyone appreciates the British Royal family or their soirees.

It’s not lost on me that the huge production that went into yesterday caused issues for the locals. Yes, there was an opportunity to make a lot of money– hotels, restaurants, taxi drivers, airlines, cruise lines (especially in the case of Cunard), and souvenir shops all probably made out like bandits.

London isn’t cheap to visit under the best of circumstances. I’ll bet hotel rooms were scarce and very expensive! I wonder about those who booked hotels a year in advance. What did the hotel managers do? Because I’m sure the price went up for those dates. Did they jack the price up on the people who booked ahead? What if they paid in advance? I mean, this could have been a thing. A year ago, Queen Elizabeth II was still living. What if someone had planned a trip to Britain for the weekend of May 6, 2023 and planned WAY in advance, as I tend to do for trips that involve cruises?

However, along with all of the money, excitement, and pomp and circumstance, no doubt came traffic snarls, loud crowds, pollution, and everything else that comes with huge events. I’m sure some people– even including those who don’t have a problem with the monarchy– were annoyed by the whole thing.

Some people simply don’t like Charles and Camilla. I saw people commenting about how Diana should have been queen. To that, I say no, she shouldn’t have. Charles and Diana should never have married in the first place. They didn’t like each other, let alone love each other. Yes, Diana was beautiful and extraordinary, but she wasn’t suited to being Charles’s wife. It’s clear to me that Charles and Camilla deeply love each other, and have for well over 50 years. They should have been married to each other in the first place. I think, if Charles hadn’t been who he is, they would have married and never divorced. As far as I’m concerned, Camilla is the rightful Queen Consort.

Meh… this is pretty simplistic. It’s not like Camilla swooped in on Charles, nor is it like Diana and Charles really had chemistry. They probably would have divorced even if Camilla had never existed.

But that doesn’t mean that Diana wasn’t an incredible person. It’s tragic that she died so young, under such terrible circumstances. She should have had more of a chance to find the right person to be with, and do the work she loved to do. Her story is very sad, and what makes it worse is that her death could have been prevented.

It’s all I can do not to offer a rebuttal, though, when I read comments about how awful Charles and Camilla are. Charles didn’t ask to be a prince. He was born into that situation. And he didn’t ask to have his family meddle in his love life, back in the 1970s and 80s. Most anyone else would have been permitted to marry the person they loved. He obviously loves Camilla. Yes, it was wrong for Charles and Camilla to have an affair when they were married to other people. But… to be fair, it’s not as if Diana didn’t also have affairs. I’m not sure about Camilla’s ex husband’s fidelity.

Charles and Camilla may be royal, but they’re also human… and as the second wife of a man who married the WRONG person in 1990, I have great empathy for Camilla. I think she’ll make a fine Queen Consort. Divorce generally sucks on many levels, but sometimes, it’s absolutely necessary. And I think it was necessary in the case of Charles and Diana.

On another note, I’ll bet Charles and Camilla are tired today…

I’m glad I was able to watch the coronation. Regardless of what I might think of British royalty, yesterday’s ceremony was historic. If nothing else, I just really enjoyed the music and watching the beautiful horses (and missing having my own horse). I also enjoyed seeing my new favorite royal, Princess Anne. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was a nice way to pass the time alone, while I wait for Bill to finish his latest TDY assignment, and we start making some summer fun plans. I am in some serious need of fun, after the last three years… and the last six months, really.

Well, I have a few things to do today. I might try to finish preparing the garden furniture for the summer. Noyzi needs a walk. I need to practice guitar for a few minutes. I have a book to finish, and a roast to cook. So, I think I will end today’s post, and get on with my Sunday. Hope you enjoy yours…

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first world problems, travel

The big decision has now been made…

Again, cross-posted on the travel blog… The featured photo was taken on the car ferry from Denmark to Germany, back in 2019.

Yesterday, I wrote about my apprehension about booking a cruise. I termed it a “true first world problem.” Aye– as my Scottish ancestors would say– that it is. Twenty-four hours ago, as I was pondering whether or not I wanted to spend big bucks on a luxury cruise in the Baltic region, I started looking for alternatives.

A friend of mine had suggested touring the Norwegian fjords on Hurtigruten, which is, of course, a perfectly good suggestion. However, if I had decided to go for the fjords, that would have completely negated using the champagne bucket to choose where to go. The Norwegian fjords are a place I’d love to see the right way, and a cruise is probably the right way to go. But it wasn’t one of the choices for this particular trip. Moreover, I never asked for alternative suggestions.

I still decided to look into the Norwegian fjords experience and found that besides Hurtigruten, there’s another line that does cruises along the fjords. Maybe at some point we’ll pull the trigger on that. I did look into short cruises in Norway for the days we’ll be there, but they aren’t very convenient to our plans.

After a short while, I stopped researching travel possibilities, and turned my attention to my guitar, which badly needed new strings. I don’t play it so often that I routinely change the strings. But, it had gotten to the point at which I had forgotten when I had last changed them. The old ones were starting to get discolored, and weren’t staying tuned well. So, as much as I hate changing the strings, but love the results of changing them, once they stretch, I knew it was a job that urgently needed doing. I had just put one string on when my phone rang.

It was someone from Regent Seven Seas Cruises calling. I felt confident in answering, since I knew Bill was already agreeable to my booking the cruise, once we confirmed the correct price. The cruise specialist, whose name is Andrea, is from Germany. She thought I was German too, and was speaking German to me, even though I had made contact in English. I didn’t realize it, but the voicemail on my phone is in German… No one ever calls me, so I didn’t know. I thought the call was coming from Germany, but actually, it was a U.S. based call that somehow looked like it came from Germany.

Andrea and I got to talking, and it turns out she lives in Florida, which is where Regent is based. She’s been there since 1991. I always find myself bonding with Germans in the U.S., since I’m an American in Germany. As we discussed the cruise, we talked about how we ended up in each other’s countries. In many ways, Germany is kind of like the U.S., but I find that the U.K. feels more like home to me than Germany does, even though people drive on the other side of the road and kids wear uniforms to school.

Andrea said that my request went to her, because I am in Germany. She handles all clients from Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany, even though she’s based in Florida. It was still very early in the morning where she lives when we were talking– maybe 5:30AM! Nevertheless, she was wide awake and friendly. I guess she’s a morning person like Bill is. All of our documents are in German. Andrea says there’s nothing she can do about that, since I’m in Germany. Google Chrome will save us, I’m sure…

It didn’t take long for Andrea to sell me on Regent. I put a deposit on the cruise. I would have just paid for the whole thing, since the cruise is coming up in June, but I used my credit card with a lower limit, and the whole cruise costs more than the limit is. I used that card rather than the other one, because I knew it was less likely to get declined for “suspicious activity”. Both of my cards usually have zero balances. I rarely use them because it took me forever to pay them off when we were less affluent. The deposit didn’t raise any red flags, which made me feel confident.

Bill got home later and I proposed booking the flights. I was thinking of flying into Stavanger or Bergen, since we had never been to either of those beautiful towns, and we have been to Oslo. But it turned out there weren’t any flights that worked with boarding Noyzi and didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Like… there was an attractive flight that would have worked, except it left at 10:30AM, and that wasn’t enough time to get Noyzi to the Hundepension and get ourselves checked in at the airport. So, Oslo it is…

I had no idea that Norway’s cities were so far apart. Stavanger looks like it’s not that far from Oslo, but it’s a seven or eight hour car ride or train trip. Bergen, likewise, is hours away by car or train. There are cheap flights available, and we may decide to avail ourselves of one, just so we can get a feel for a city other than Oslo. But, we did also enjoy visiting Oslo when we were there in 2009, and that was at a time when we had a lot less money.

Oslo is also closer to Stockholm, which is where we will be meeting the ship. We haven’t seen anything in Stockholm except the cruise port, which is where our first Baltic cruise in 2009 ended. It was a four night “short break” on Royal Caribbean, and we started in Oslo and stopped in Tallin and Copenhagen, then ended in Stockholm. We couldn’t enjoy the city, because Bill had a conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen the next day. So, we hopped a plane to Munich. I spent the next week taking tours out of the Edelweiss MWR Lodge while Bill tended to his Army duties. We had flown to Oslo from Munich, and when we got back to the parking garage, the car battery was dead, necessitating a call to ADAC. Plus, our bags didn’t make the flight, and had to be brought to us in Garmisch.

This time, we will end in Copenhagen, a city we’ve been to twice, but haven’t had much of a chance to really enjoy. The first time, it was on that short cruise, that only allowed a few hours in town. The second time was in 2019, when we were passing through on our way home with our new car and stopped for a night of rest as we continued onward to Rostock, Germany. This trip will at least give us a full day to enjoy Denmark. We’ll spend a couple of nights there before coming home on July 2.

So, off I went to Lufthansa to book our flights, after confirming with Bill which ones we wanted. I input all of the information, then tried to use my trusty credit card to pay. Sure enough, it was declined. I called up PenFed and explained that I was trying to book my vacation. I should have probably asked them to raise the limit on that card, too. Maybe next time I call…

The tickets are now booked. All I have to do now is decide on hotels in Norway and Denmark and maybe book transportation to Stockholm. A flight from Oslo takes an hour, but a train is much more scenic and is about five hours of fun. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Oh… and I also need to choose excursions and restaurant reservations for the cruise, since they are included in the fare.

It’s hard to believe, just a few days ago, I was agonizing over all of this. It’s all coming together now, like magic. I wasn’t planning to do a cruise, but this may turn out to be a bit of a Godsend. If it turns out we really love any of the places we see, we can come back and do a land based tour, as I originally planned. They are now building a railway in the Baltics that will make it a lot easier to travel there. And I do want to go and spend more than a few hours. We already know we like Tallinn from our 2009 trip, and Bill enjoyed Riga when he went.

I know… first world problem, and maybe I should be ashamed of myself for writing about it. But, at least this isn’t a cranky complaint post about politics or similarly unpleasant topics.

For those who are curious, here’s a video highlighting the ship we’re going to be on. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s not like you don’t get a lot for the money. This is also not our usual style. We normally prefer much smaller ships, and that generally means the ships we’re on are usually much older. Splendor was built in 2020. Hebridean Princess, by contrast, was built in 1964 as a car ferry and later became a cruise ship in 1989. SeaDream I was built in 1984. I think Vision of the Seas is 1998 vintage, and I’m not even sure if it’s still in service.

A new experience for us… revisiting the region where we had our very first cruise. This time, we’re taking more time and spending way more money!
We booked a Concierge Suite.

Again, I chose this entirely for the itinerary, and the fact that it’s an all inclusive cruise. I’m not a Regent cheerleader, and I’m not sure we’ll give up small ships for this. But then again, maybe we will. We won’t know until we actually have the experience. At least now, I’ll have something new to write about on the travel blog!

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first world problems, travel

A true first world issue…

Because this post involves travel, I’m going to cross post it on my travel blog. The featured photo was taken in 2019, when Bill and I went to Sweden to pick up our car and drove it on a Nordic adventure.

I’m in the midst of trying to plan a summer vacation/birthday trip for Bill and myself. Because of the whole COVID-19 odyssey, and the seemingly endless lockdowns that followed, we’ve decided that this year, we’d like to fly somewhere. And because there are a lot of places in Europe we still want to see, we decided to choose our destination using the “champagne bucket” method.

I’ve written about the champagne bucket method on my travel blog. Basically, I got the idea for it from “blind bookings” on Germanwings (now known as Eurowings). I’m not sure if Eurowings still does blind bookings, but Lufthansa does, and Lufthansa owns Eurowings. It basically involves booking a surprise flight, and usually paying a lower fare. You don’t know where you’re going until after you pay for the ticket(s). Bill and I have done it four times to great success. We visited Barcelona, London, Berlin, and Munich that way.

When we moved back to the States, I decided that it wouldn’t be hard to plan more of our vacations that way. Instead of relying on the airline, we just put our choices on slips of paper and put them in the champagne bucket. Then, Bill picks one of the slips out of the bucket.

I was really rooting for a trip to Armenia and possibly Georgia this summer. That was one of the choices, too. Bill was a bit reluctant, because of political and military issues going on in Armenia right now. We may still go there this year, but for a short trip to Yerevan, instead of an all out country tour. Then, I can show Bill where I lived, when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer, and sign him up for a more extensive trip. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, when we did our champagne bucket challenge, Bill ended up choosing Finland. Neither of us has ever been there before. We have been to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Estonia together. Bill has also been to Latvia a couple of times on business. Neither of us has seen Lithuania, but we’ve met people from there and Latvia on cruises.

Originally, I was planning for us to go to Helsinki and do a land based trip, then go by ferry to Tallinn, Estonia, stay a few days, and work our way south to Latvia and Lithuania, before flying back. Then I started researching and discovered, there’s no easy way to travel to Latvia and Lithuania that doesn’t involve riding a bus. We considered renting a car, but that seemed potentially risky.

So then I thought, maybe instead of trying to hit the Baltic capitals, I could go west. Visit Finland, do a day trip in Tallinn, then head west toward Norway, which we know we love. Then I thought, maybe it would be better to start in Norway, and head east to Finland, then go to Tallinn and spend a night or two…

Then I realized how expensive flights would be… plus the stress and inconvenience involving finding transportation, hauling bags, and booking hotels… and although I’d already looked for cruises and initially didn’t see any I liked, I kept getting ads for Regent Seven Seas on Facebook. And Regent is– or was– considered a luxury line, although it’s a much bigger ship than we usually go for when we cruise.

I noticed they had a cruise available during the time we plan to travel. It starts June 23 and ends June 30, and hits ports in Sweden, Helsinki, Estonia, Latvia, and Denmark. We could still go to Norway and do a land based trip, working our way to Stockholm, a city we’ve been to, but didn’t really get to explore at all in 2009. Best of all, the cruise in question is on sale. It’s still expensive, but doable for us. We wouldn’t even have to stay in the cheapest stateroom. I pitched the idea to Bill, who liked it.

I started making a booking request. It took about a half dozen times to finally get registered. I mismatched my email address, or added one too many dots in the address, or the passwords didn’t match. Finally, I had my account, and started to make the request.

But the stateroom I wanted was listed as twice as expensive than was advertised. While we technically could do it, I’d rather spend that much money on a new car or a down payment on a house. So I stopped making the request, and sent an inquiry to Regent, asking them to confirm that the cruise is on sale.

About an hour later, I got a phone call through my iPad, which I wasn’t prepared to answer, as I was reading something to Bill. I also got a message, written in German, indicating that the cruise is on sale, and inviting me to call between 11am and 8pm today. I sent a message back in English, asking if I have to call to get that rate, and clarifying that I’m American and can’t speak German worth a damn. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Then I went on Cruise Critic and started reading reviews and comments on the messageboards. The consensus is, the ship I’m looking at booking is beautiful, although Regent has “gone downhill” in recent years. Bill and I have done cruises on Royal Caribbean, SeaDream, and Hebridean Island Cruises. SeaDream and Hebridean, like Regent, are considered luxury and are all inclusive. However, they are much smaller ships. So Regent would be a different cruise experience for us, and it would offer some convenience, as we’d be hitting places we want to visit– albeit for a shorter time than we would personally plan for ourselves.

I truly am attracted to the cruise because of the itinerary and the time the cruise is going. I don’t have particularly high expectations of great service or being treated like royalty. A cruise just offers a convenient way to cross some items off our bucket list.

On the other hand, I was kind of looking forward to a deeper dive into the areas, and exploring more on our own. Also, there’s less chance of running into people with whom we don’t mesh when we do land based trips, or getting sick from any number of viruses on ships. I like to plan trips and look for interesting places to stay. I guess the pre cruise travel to Norway would offer that, but I was kind of wanting to get more of a feel for Finland.

Either way, this trip is going to be expensive. Good thing Bill got a generous raise this year. We do have the money, too… at least for the cruise. I’m just not used to having that, either… being somewhat well-heeled is kind of a new experience for us.

Sigh… a trip to Armenia would be a lot more economical. On the other hand, if I develop a bleeding stomach ulcer, I’d feel better about seeking treatment in a nordic country. ๐Ÿ˜‰

This is truly a first world problem. I’m sure I should just go for it and see what happens. We’ve had some great times on cruises and made some friends. And a bonus is, since Regent ships are a lot bigger, there’s less chance I’ll get seasick this time.

We’ll see what happens. I may scrap the idea of the cruise. It is tempting, though… Regent is probably more comfortable than the Stockholm to Helsinki ferry.

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