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Note: references in BOLD type, refer to an external web site that you might find informative. Ordinary hyperlink refers to pictures we supplied.

In 2004, we went to Delft (Holland) to see where Vermeer painted and to see his paintings (in The Hague). Vermeer is famous for the "Girl with the Pearl Earring" which was made into a movie. We included Kuekenhof, Holland where the tulip growers show (and sell) their flowers in a garden setting. Brussels (Belgium) was next to see our European MP, and then home again via the Eurostar.

In June, we went to Bradford on Avon (England) to see one of the gardens, and in November, we made our annual trip to California. The most unusual visit in 2004 was to Venice (Italy) where there are no vehicles, including the trip from the airport. The main transport is boat, and many of the hotels overlook a canal, including our own in the San Marco District. We went in late September, to avoid the crowds (unsuccessfully) although the Academia District was the least crowded (and least expensive). There were crowds of fellow tourists, not Italians on a summer holiday. We walked everywhere, including the main district where we came across street singers, and eventually ended up at the train station. We took the waterbus (same as a water taxi but bigger) to one of the neighboring islands, but thought the scenery wasn't worth wasting camera memory (lucky for you, dear reader).

In April, 2005, we went to Carmona, Spain for a rest from our Andersen Windows business. We stayed in Casa de Carmona, which is an old Moorish Palace. The town predates the invasion of the Moors, who left their architecture and offspring everywhere. The old city is situated on an isolated mountainous rock on the andelucia plains and on a clear day you can see forever. Al had a bad cold, so we didn't venture far from town, preferring to infect the locals. The orange blossoms were out and the trees in one of the many hotel patios gave a lovely Spring-like feel to the place. Gillian taught the Spanish staf how to make a good pot of tea. (All the Pictures).

In September 2005, we went on a Mediterranean cruise (Voyages of Discovery) for 13 days. The ship had 700 passengers, most all were from England or Australia. and we met about a dozen from the Suffolk, England area. The ship stopped at Barcelona, Spain for a day and a half, which gave us a good chance to see the Architect Gaudi's works. We could have spent a day and a half just at the Sagrada Familia , Gaudi's famous church. He was a very good architect, but a bit careless, having been runover by a streetcar when his work was 1/2 done. It's still about 1/2 done despite the millions poured into completing the church.

Our next stop was at Florence, and Rome where we took the day excursions into each city (the ship stopped at two different ports. Both cities were very interesting, and if it hadn't been for the unexpected rain, we would have liked it a lot more. In Rome, we stopped at Babington's tea shop to warm up and dry off. We felt more like human beings after having been to the Coliseum and got soaking wet.

After passing through the Messina straights (between Italy and Sicily), we went to Malta which is famous for it's resistance to being conquered by the Germans and Italians during WWII. At the palace of justice, there were plaques containing the citations from Fanklin Roosevelt and King Edward for the bravery of the Maltese.

Next was Katakalon, Greece which was just a small port town where the Olympians trained (in the hills). As we didn't particularly want to visit where the Olympians had their toilets and sweat chambers, we went into town. Main street was Jewelry and Trinkets, Ocean Avenue was bars and cafes. We didn't make it much past the Jewelry shop where Gillian bought a Marcasite double cross. For our pic, click here. We next went to Athens, for which we only wanted to see the Parthenon, but a couple of extra stops were thrown in as well. To Gillian and myself, Athens wasn't worth seeing as a City. The Parthenon was outstanding, and we're glad we went via Cruise line.

After that came Rhodes, Greece where the Knights of the Crusades held out for several hundred years. We got off the ship, saw the castle, bought a cheap copy of some RayBan sunglasses, and came back on board the ship.

Our first stop in Turkey, was at Kusadasi, where our primary goal was to see the old Roman town of Ephesus. Two other cruise ships (very large) also arrived, and spilled passengers into the small town. It was a race to the Roman Ruins of Ephesus to see who could beat the crowds. (We didn't win). The next stop after an overnight sailing was Istanbul. Our plan was to see the Bosphorus straights where the Black Sea flows into the Mediterranean. Imagine a Salt Water River, 3/4 mile wide, deep enough to take the largest aircraft carrier, and flowing 10 to 15 miles per hour, constantly. The straights are where the rich live in their villas, while the everyday worker is packed into an apartment in a highrise away from the water. Turkey is 98% Muslim, so we saw a lot of mosques. Both Turkish guides claim that Turkey is non-sectarian, so that religion does not play a part in politics. My guess is that they were trying to put on a good show for the European Union people, so we wouldn't feel so jittery about having them with a free right-to-travel in Europe. Would we come to Istanbul on a holiday? NO! see pics.

 

 

 

****as we get more trips, we'll post them here****