Unexpected Rain

September 1, 1929 ~ At sea
Rain and lightning during the night but calm riding. At 5:30 it was raining hard and Anne was awakened by the rain coming in on her. I woke also and we got busy as the water was filling her bed. We struggled with the ports a while until we managed to close them securely. Then we started to bale the water from the protective sills with towels. We formed a brigade, I wringing towels out in the basin and Anne sopping up the water. Her bed was wet by this time but she covered it over and went to bed. Lots of water had also collected in a corner of the floor, so that Anne thought the ship had sprung a leak, but her fears were groundless.

 

February 15, 2017 ~ Doha, Qatar
We touch down in Doha into an eerie mist. The reflection of the colored skyline lights blend together in the choppy harbor. After settling in to the Saraya Corniche hotel, we walked in search of some food and felt a light drizzle on our heads. Odd, we thought, given our desert coordinates. We smile at the rain and head in to dinner.

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Sated and still jet lagged, we barely notice that an hour or two go by. It was only about two miles or so to the hotel and we didn’t feel like hailing a cab. It was a warm downpour by this point, but we simply didn’t care. It felt good to stretch after the long flight from Kathmandu. The roads were beginning to flood and we are ankle deep at points. I hike up my long dress just enough to get it out of the puddles but not so much as to show off too much skin. I had just the one outfit that was culturally appropriate for Middle Eastern dress and I couldn’t ruin it on the first night. The sidewalk ended at a relatively busy road (we took a different route going back), but we were too far to turn around. I hopped up onto the construction barrier on the side of the asphalt, treading across the top like the balance beams of my youth. We made it back a little muddy with water squishing in our shoes, but still smiling from the silly adventure and the fantastic meal in a new country.

Much to our surprise, the heavy rains persisted over night. The locals were overjoyed at this wonderful gift from above. The streets and sidewalks were now flooded and it became near impossible to walk without getting wet – same goes for getting Riyals from the ATM.

 

We didn’t realize that Doha only gets about 3 inches of rain a year and they don’t have the drains to accommodate any long stretches of precipitation. In our two days, they got about half of their yearly allotment. Perhaps I’m a rain goddess? I seem to bring rain to places that need it, and to some that maybe don’t want it as much!

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Resting and Regret

June 25, 1935 ~ Kingston, Jamaica
Docked at Kingston at 7:30 A.M. Celia and I went ashore to shop and bought some gaudy material for the Rags and Tatters party. Back to the ship for lunch and decided to take a trip during the afternoon to Hope Gardens.

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Being tired after lunch we took and nap and slept so late that we didn’t take the trip after all. We needed the rest so didn’t regret missing the trip. Rae and her group spent the afternoon at Bournemouth Baths and joined some boys they met before for the evening. Becky got back shortly before sailing escorted by George Hill, his sweetheart and his brother, to whom Becky had transferred her attention with good results. Brother took her out for dinner, etc.

Sailed at midnight.

February 9, 2017 ~ Stockholm, Sweden
A self-imposed rest day, coincidentally the week two marker of our trip. While 14 days on the road isn’t long in the grand scheme of things, Sweden is already the sixth country we’ve passed through on our (mostly) ’round the world jaunt. It’s been non-stop movement. Planes, trains, automobiles, ferries, horses, our own two feet. I try not to get wrapped up in the mind space that dictates a jam-packed schedule, completed in record low time, for fear of missing something should one never return to a place or, you know, tragically drop dead tomorrow. Get out of bed before the sun, see and do EVERYTHING, sleep when you’re dead. While I admire the concept, it’s near impossible, for me, to push forth with fervor when I’m feeling run down.

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We slept in and had the Lord Nelson’s complimentary hotel breakfast, a typical spread of smörgås (open-faced sandwich) fixins: toasts and crackers with meats, cheeses, veggies, and hard boiled eggs, with pastries for good measure. We didn’t set out until 11am or so, which felt terribly lazy and a tad indulgent. I’m not sure we would have left the hotel room at all if the TV shows hadn’t been in a foreign tongue. The negative chill in the air negated any inclination I had to do a walking tour of the city. We’d just left territory above the arctic circle and this perpetually cold Monster was running out of patience for having numb extremities. Stockholm was merely a stopover city for us. Nothing in particular was on the agenda, proving to be fodder for spending the day on a whim.

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The plethora of museums seemed like the next best way to get to know the old world city, aside from eating our way through, but that was already a given for us. Visiting the exhibits is a leisurely activity that doesn’t require too much energy and we could stop and go as we pleased. While I’m not usually a museum girl, I have to say that Europe does them right. Copenhagen had some fascinating ones and Stockholm didn’t disappoint either. They’re more interactive, they evoke a feeling of grandeur, and you can find exhibits on just about anything – from stamps, to seafaring lore, to the history of bootleg alcohol.

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We ended up walking anyway, bundled up and enjoying the architecture en route, and took in two, Fotografiska and The Nobel Museum, before calling it a day and heading back to the hotel to recharge before dinner.

Savor Something New

June 21, 1926 ~ Kingston, Jamaica
Our room is at the back of the hotel facing the inner garden and harbor. The grounds are beautiful with many varieties of palm trees including coconut and banana trees. In the foreground is one of the beautiful Poinciana trees, which has bright red flower clusters.

Our bags hadn’t arrived so we were unable to change for lunch but our room was so cool, there being a very strong breeze blowing, that after washing we felt much refreshed. For lunch, I ate pepper-pot, which is a very spicy vegetable soup, delicious stewed duck with spiced rice, baked yams, cho chos, potatoes, and string beans. For dessert I had sherbet, cakes and fruit. Always a variety of fruit is served, artistically arranged in a bowl with special forks standing up high and proud stuck into skinned oranges with only the top left for a good hold.

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We didn’t care about the oranges, bananas, or pineapple because we get these at home, but we fairly devoured every bit of mango which came our way. Next best to the mango we liked paw-paw, which looks like cantaloupe but tastes like strong cheese or worse, so is eaten with lime juice, which improves it immensely.

Dear Aunt Jean,
I love getting to know the traveler in you. You don’t come across as being timid, I sense an assertiveness and an air of confidence about you. Journeying to the varying landscapes that exist outside of the concrete jungle and trying new foods that you couldn’t get back home are experiences I can admire and appreciate. I wonder, did you have any must do’s when you went somewhere new? Or, perhaps, things you’d try to avoid?

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I’ve come up with a few “rules” for myself along the way when I venture to an unfamiliar destination. They revolve around being open to new experiences and not setting my expectations too high for when things don’t work out as planned. I also try to sneak in as many local foods and drinks as possible, something we have in common! If there’s a market, you can guarantee I’ll be there. It’s a great way to get to know a local culture, through its artisans and foods.

I know very well the pleasure you must have felt upon seeing the selection of native tropical fruits in your travels across Jamaica, Colombia, and Haiti. You mentioned on a few occasions how special it was to have mango! How sweet it was, literally, and in its newness to you. Would you believe that they’re widely available at grocery stores now? So many different types of “foreign” produce and products from around the world are now mainstream. On any given day I can find mango, papaya, coconuts, jackfruit, tamarind, and the like in my local market.

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There is still something to be said for eating a mango, for example, since we’re on the subject, as close to the source as you can. I have a hunch it will always taste better when it’s freshly picked and sun kissed. Tropical ambiance has a lot to do with the tasting experience! I can attest to that personally. I was introduced to guava on my second trip to Kauai and I was elated to buy some from the store when I got home. Much to my dismay, it tasted bitter and sour, sitting alone in my cold, dark kitchen. It was nothing like the sweet fruit picked from the tree that fueled me on a hike into the mountains.

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While I understand the want for comfort food every now and again, especially if one gets a tad homesick, I find it utterly absurd to bother going through the hassle of traveling, perhaps venturing many miles from home, and eating at a chain restaurant or choosing the same foods off of a menu that you might normally eat at home. But that’s me! I, personally, like to know what people eat for their every day meals. I find it comforting in a way. Oftentimes, it can be very similar to what we eat, just with tiny variations. And if it happens to be totally different, say eating crickets, then I relish in the experience anyway. I suppose I may be in the minority in that I haven’t run into many foods that I won’t eat! In fact, many of my tasting experiences have led to new favorites that I look forward to when I’m back on the road again.

Ai pono,
Monster

Return Trip

June 24, 1926 ~ Kingston, Jamaica
Our schedule called for a morning drive to Castleton Gardens, the Government botanical gardens, but we and a number of others decided to make an all-day ride of it by going to the north shore of Jamaica visiting Hotel Titchfield at Port Antonio for lunch and returning along the shore to Kingston. The Myrtle Bank Hotel gave us box lunches to take with us.

At Castleton Gardens we saw a large and strange variety of trees, plants and flowers of which Anne and Miss Todd collected some cuttings to take home for planting. The gardener assured them that the cuttings would grow if kept in water meantime, but I am positive that Anne’s won’t grow, planted on her piano.

June 18, 1935 ~ Kingston, Jamaica
Debarked at Kingston, Jamaica about 11 A.M. Explored the shops on King and Harbor Sts. until noon. Lunched at the Myrtle Bank Hotel. Had a delicious meal in the room in the right wing. Recognized our waiter whom I remembered from our previous visit in 1926.

After lunch drove to Castleton Gardens. By the time we reached there it was raining pretty hard so we sat in the car till it let up. Our guide took us on a quick trip through the gardens. Saw the small elderly man who was our guide in 1926.

Returned to the Myrtle Bank Hotel. Found Jimmy and other members of the crew impersonating seals in the swimming pool. Stayed a while enjoying the loveliness of the hotel grounds before walking back to the ship for dinner. Saw only the better side of Kingston – did not drive through the poor sections. Wanted to go ashore at night but even Becky agreed it was unadvisable to go unescorted so we remained on the ship and watched the other passengers trailing back for the midnight sailing.

 

September 20, 2013 ~ Reykjavik, Iceland
After flying overnight and landing in a new time zone, the first point of business was to grab some coffee (for him) and hot chocolate (for me). Something comforting and familiar to sip on after an evening devoid of sleep. We wandered around Reykjavik, zigzagging our way about town. We admired the street art and the delightful scent of baked goods wafting out of buildings. We turned right, following our noses to some freshly baked croissants. The road name was Kárastígur. The flowers potted outside were a bright spot on a gray day.

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Out from the chill of the rain, we were able to ease into our trip by sipping on some hot beverages, perhaps the best we’d had in a long while. My hot cocoa was no Swiss Miss. It was delightfully dark and not too sweet, perfect for this chocolate-loving Monster. What a wonderful experience to have proper whipped cream, the kind that is so thick it stands up on its legs and doesn’t immediately dissolve into nothingness.

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It decorates your upper lip and teases your tongue with its cool temperature in contrast to the steaming liquid below. I was blissfully happy and ready to explore.

January 25, 2017 ~ Reykjavik, Iceland
We landed in Keflavik around 6am local time, having flown the same red eye we had a few years prior. We took the shuttle to the regional airport in Reykjavik and stowed our bags as we had a few hours to kill before our flight north to Akureyri. We took a taxi straight to Reykjavik Roasters, our favorite find from the last trip. The sun wasn’t awake yet and it was dark outside, the January air crisp but dry. The windows to the coffee shop were fogged up, alluding to the warmth we would find inside. The flowers in the planter were brown and shriveled, covered in ice and snow. Our old friend greeted us gently with hot chocolate and a cappuccino upon arrival. It felt good to be back.

We wandered the familiar streets in a warm milk drunk stupor, happily noticing new street art, restaurants we dined in years prior, and places we missed the first go round. It was interesting to see the city in a new season, this time with a fresh coating of snow and the pastel hue of a frosty winter morning’s light. It was quieter and we weren’t seeing everything fresh for the first time.

 

Spirits and Funeral Cookies

August 2, 1933 ~ At sea
Beautiful moon and flashes of heat, chain and spear lightning in the west for quite a few hours. Last night on board and not a sign of romance. We five girls, Axel Dahlgard, and Pop Seller sat in the Smoke room listening to the raspy phonograph. Elinor served the last of her liqueur and we couldn’t be gay even though we tried.

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January 31, 2017 ~ Klaksvik, Faroe Islands
It was a cloudy flight from Iceland to the Faroe Islands. Nearly two hours of white out my window seat view. In the last five minutes, as we descended from the sky, the fog dissipated and the razor-edge cliffs appeared as if from nowhere. They rose up like giants from the ocean; green gems amongst the blue. A waterfall spilled over the edge of a moss-covered mountain like a scene from a fairy tale book. Majestic.

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The rains poured down on our drive to Klaksvík, a town on one of the northernmost islands in the Faroes. It was dark despite the early evening hour. Not having high expectations for this small, relatively sleepy town where we were seeing more sheep than people, we stumbled into a local pub to check out the night life. We were two of three guests at the bustling Roykstovan bar that night and the one local was on his way out. We sat down at a well-worn wooden picnic bench inside the tavern and enjoyed a flight of beer made at the brewery across the street. You can’t get more local than that. The lights were dim, the bar was dead, and the music on the radio was eclectic. You’re So Vain melded into MMMBop, which somehow seemed fitting for this joint. The barmaid wasn’t terribly chatty, unusual for someone in her position. It turns out she had come from her granny’s funeral. She bent down behind the bar and came up with a tin of freshly baked cookies leftover from the reception. Those were probably the saddest cookies I’ve ever been offered, but I’m a sucker for chocolate chip and couldn’t say no. We chatted a bit and learned more about her grandma, toasting our last round and cookies to her.

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