Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Baltic Cruise - The Quilt Goes a Cruisin'

For the quilt's creator's 50th birthday, the quilt decided to try a new mode of transportation - a cruise. Now sure the quilt has gone cruisin' before, in the Galapagos and Fiji, but that was on boats holding around 20 people. This ship, Holland America's Eurodam, has a 2104 passenger capacity. The ship is 11 stories high! Here it is in port in Tallinn, Estonia

The cruise departed from Copenhagen, Denmark. Here the quilt poses with Den lille havfrue, better known as the Little Mermaid.

This trip the quilt visited Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Germany. The quilt requested photos of all the various flags. I was more than happy to comply. Here's Denmark.

While in Copenhagen, the quilt insisted on visiting the world famous Tivoli Gardens. I was very happy that the quilt was so determined to visit because it was certainly worthwhile.

Here the quilt visits the statue of Hans Christan Andersen that gazes across the street toward Tivoli.

We rented a condo right behind the bright yellow building in the center of this photo of Nyhavn. It was over 80 degrees when we arrived and packed with people; not exactly what one would expect in Copenhagen in May.

Copenhagen has wonderful ice cream. I especially liked the chocolate dipped cones. I was glad the quilt was watching what it was eating so I had the entire cone to myself!

First port for the boat was Tallinn, Estonia. This was a new country for the quilt. We climbed one church into the bell tower, and from the window there was a great view of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

Here the quilt poses with the flag of Estonia.

View of the old town of Tallinn from our balcony on the Eurodam.

The next destination of the boat was St. Petersburg, Russia. We decided to hire a private guide for the two days the boat was docked here because we weren't sure about the possibility of returning. Below the quilt visits Церковь Спаса на Крови -  the Church on the Spilled Blood, site of the assassination of Czar Alexander II.

The flag of Russia.

The quilt visited Peterhof Palace. The fountains were amazing. As were the gardens. The next three photos show the grounds of Peterhof.
Everything was so green and the flowers were beautiful.

Our guide, Irina, needed to stop at the market. We enjoyed seeing Russians going about their daily lives. The fruits and veggies looked nice.

After St. Petersburg the ship went to Helsinki Finland. Here the quilt poses in front of the Uspenski Cathedral. We enjoyed walking around the city, the architecture was amazing. Unfortunately it was a Sunday so most stores were closed. However some of the markets were open.
Here the quilt visits with the flag of Finland at one of the markets.
The fruit markets were amazing. The raspberries and blueberries were quite picturesque.
As were the strawberries...
and cherries. Complete with basket.

Next up was Stockholm, Sweden. Again the quilt insisted on a photo with the flag. There are lots of pedestrian streets in the Gamla Stan area.
This square provided the back drop for a delicious patisserie treat, not to mention a great photo op.
Here's a view of Gamla Stan from the Eurodam as we entered the center part of Stockholm.

The last country the quilt visited before returning to Denmark was Germany. The ship docked in Warnemünde. We took the train to the nearby Rostock and visited the markets and shopping areas.
Here the quilt poses with the German flag in Warnemunde.
What trip would be complete without a visit to the library?
I was in the market in Rostock taking photos of the vegetables. The vendor was jealous of the vegetables and requested that I take her picture. She ducked down and peered over the white asparagus.

The quilt enjoyed the cruise, considering it a wonderful way to visit several great countries in a relatively short time. It was amazing to only unpack once and to live in the cabin for 10 days. Actually, the quilt has already been starting to grumble about going on another cruise. I think the quilt is spoiled.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Quilt Makes Friends in Costa Rica

Michael, Michelle and the Quilt pose by the pool at Banana Azul

Once again the Quilt elected to flee the Chicago Winter. Who can blame it really. We did manage to miss out on a 10 inch snowfall! Costa Rica was the destination of choice, but with a slight twist. Each previous visit has included visits to the Pacific Coast but never the Caribbean. The area around Puerto Viejo is rustic and very laid back. The Banana Azul is a wonderful place to visit, and quite comfortable too. This is fortunate because we all had stomach issues and there was lots of rain. We ended up spending more time on the property than we ever have before. The food was good, and there was ginger ale a plenty. It also gave us the opportunity to meet some of the other hotel guests and employees. Our favorites were Michelle and her wife CJ from New York City. Michelle expressed interest in the quilt and she was invited to be the first to make a guest blog appearance. Great job Michelle and we look forward to a reunion sometime in the future in NYC!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hawaii - Take 3

When winter comes to Chicago, the quilt longs for warm weather. Again, it begged to go to Hawaii. What could I do but acquiesce?
This Hawaiian trip it was all about the food. Rainbow Drive-In is a Honolulu institution. Check out their website and menu Rainbow Drive-In An episode of Hawaii 5-0 was filmed here.

Speaking of Hawaii 5-0. They regularly film at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The quilt has seen almost all of the stars on set. Below you can see quilt visiting Kamekona's Shrimp truck on the set.

Another Honolulu institution is Leonard's. Here the quilt visits the retro sign in the Leonard's parking lot.  Have you ever had malasadas? Guava was the flavor of the day when we visited, and yum, they are good! Hot, fresh, covered in sugar and dripping with guava filling, oh my.

Finally, the quilt insisted in visiting a functional shrimp truck (as opposed to Kamekona's fake one). There is one problem, I don't eat seafood. Fortunately, in Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu there are several shrimp trucks that share a wooded lot. One of them Dat Cajun Guy, has fabulous fish-free gumbo and jumbalaya, double yum!

All in all, I must say that the quilt has become quite spoiled. I can't believe that I give in so easily when it insists on visiting warmer climes during the winter. I hereby resolve to be more firm and not be such a push-over..... well, maybe not.