Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Reflections and Home

This trip was the dream I had for almost 20 years. It became so much more, as I could not take it with my husband, but COULD take it with my Mom! I am so happy that we did this, I learned so much about my mom that I never knew, and our friendship grew so much stronger! It’s really good to be best friends with your mom.

It is so important to take the moments in your life as you can, don’t keep waiting for the right ones to come along as they rarely will. I learned that with this trip. I had this wonderful time with my mom, and carried David in my heart. People have told me that they hear their departed speak to them, but I never could hear David until this trip. I heard him loud and clear now. He is always with me, and I can treasure all our life together, but move on alone now. I found my independence, thanks to Mom, too, for letting me be the tour director.

I learned that I have to take the time to fulfill my dreams, too. Learning French and taking ballet to end up on pointe shoes are my current goals. We’ll see how that goes. There might be an aerodynamic issue with the ballet thing… Going BACK to Europe is also on the list, maybe to live for awhile, we’ll see.

So stay posted for more yarns. Quite a few in the near future will probably contain yarn and knitting information!

Manhattan, Family and Friends.

As this wonderful trip ended, the final highlights occurred.

On the last day at sea, we were informed that we would pass under the Verrazano Bridge at 5:00 am the next morning, and that there was a 6 meter clearance. That’s about a 36 FOOT clearance from the top of the smokestack to the bottom of the bridge. And then steaming into New York harbor past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. But… it was 5:00 am… I thought about getting a wake up call, and then re-thought that idea. The best thing then happened, my eyes flew open at 4:45 am! I threw on some clothes and ran up to the top deck, and missed going under the bridge by about 2 minutes, the ship was early. Still very moving, especially as David loved that bridge. He used to point it out every time we even came near that bridge on every trip to the city.

Then the Statue came into view in the distance, along with the New York skyline. I realized our cabin was on the right side to see the statue from our balcony, so I ran back down and woke up Mom. She was so moved at the sight, she cried, and I took her photo.

Getting back to Manhattan, and the US, was really coming home. It was exciting, as our last night would be at the Waldorf Astoria (I got a really good deal!). I called the family from the back of the cab, no more dollar a minute charges on the cell phone, and started making our last day plans.

We checked in, and met Melinda and Ryan for breakfast, I went to a yarn shop and met my shipboard friend at my favorite yarn shop, then I went out to buy more luggage (!) avoiding the Puerto Rican Parade on 5th Avenue. Dinner with Mom at her favorite, a sushi restaurant, then meeting Neil for drinks.

The next morning found us having the Breakfast Club at the Waldorf (how cool!!) and then Neil surprising us with lunch at his club, The Friars Club. What a send off to end the trip of a lifetime!

The QM2

The journey to London from Spain was “unique.” You know that joke about mañana and Spain? Well, it’s not a joke…. Our plane was delayed by at least 4 hours; we missed our connection from Dublin to Heathrow, and ended sleeping in an airport hotel in Dublin. We flew to Heathrow the next morning. Aer Lingus took good care of us, and the trip was uneventful, but long.

We made it in plenty of time to board our luxury liner, with a slight knitting emergency, I was running out of sock yarn!!! We had to find a haberdashery in a department store to fill my sock yarn needs. Mission accomplished, though!

And that English Queen keeps following us around! She was in Buckingham Palace when we visited, and she was decommissioning the QE2 just before we boarded the QM2. This was a BIG DEAL in Southampton, thus the photographs.

Then you are supposed to drink champagne as you leave the dock. The Commodore then sounded the horn (?) and we promptly spilled half our glasses! That horn is LOUD!

The next morning found us relaxing on our balcony.

Then the days flowed by, filled with activities. There is soo much to do on a trip like this! There were only two things wrong – too much food(!) and there were quite a few passengers in the “elderly” category, elderly like the customers at the big Florida grocery, they would be walking down a corridor and just stop. Combined with the rocking of the ship, some passenger collisions occurred. But, God bless them for taking the trip and enjoying life, whatever their circumstances.

Mom was a little worried about iceberg collisions, but we didn’t have any of those. There was one or two rocky days, it didn’t bother me, but Mom was a little green here and there. She just rested, the weather changed, and she was fine.

We went to two shows, absolutely fabulous!, a lecture, and other activities. Now let me tell you about the dining. The Dining! Breakfast was a daily adventure, sitting with different people, meeting passengers from all over the western world. It turns out that many people take the Queen over the ocean and back as their full holiday! Four hours in Manhattan is just part of the trip, not the destination.

Lunch was a daily buffet adventure, as was finding a seat… and dinner – well, that was a highlight. We had wonderful dining companions from England, Wales and Maine. Mom and I made a plan to change our personal seats every day, so we could converse with everyone, and I think everyone enjoyed that. We learned about shipboard activities, the home life of our companions, and why they were travelling. Here is an un-official ship’s photo of our group. I'll add the official photo soon.

My personal highlights were blogging and e-mailing from the champagne bar and the middle of the Atlantic Ocean via satellite, and the daily stitching group that met, also in the champagne bar.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Wedding

The Wedding was the epitome of Spain and Granada. It was so beautiful and so Spanish! It was the absolute highlight of the trip!

Here we are in the lobby of our fabulous hotel, just before starting out to “La Boda.” (The Wedding.)

Marelis and Casto were the most beautiful and handsome couple!

Mare was glowing as she walked into the exquisite church with her Papa.

Casto and his mom were waiting for her; Casto looked so handsome and proud, as did his mom in her stunning mantilla.

Even though we didn’t have a common language, we managed to communicate before the event.

The ceremony was performed by a bishop from Venezuela, Marelis’ home country, in the oldest Granada church. Notice the altar décor. We were surrounded by daisy bouquets in front of every statue, and each pew was decorated with individual flowers.

The ceremony was all in Spanish, yet Mom and I understood quite a bit, picking up words here and there. When Marelis’ grandmother spoke, we could almost fill in the words, she was so expressive. Casto’s sister gave a speech that put a tear in the eyes of the pew in front of us, it must have been beautiful.

Upon leaving the church, as Mare and Casto greeted the crowd, the party was the center of attention for all the onlookers. Then the Spanish guitars started playing, and the crowd went wild.

The reception was at the most beautiful mansion, outdoor cocktail party, beautiful centerpieces and the most striking building. The interior of the building was true Spanish historical luxury.

The reception followed the New York/Florida style event, with Spanish touches. The Bride and Groom sliced the cake with a sword. The food was presented marvelously and was delicious! No one was overlooked! Special deserts for the children!

Then out came the Venezuelan Mariachi band! It was hard to get a photo, the guests loved the music and players so much!

We were thoughtfully seated at a table with Mare & Casto’s German friends, who all also spoke English! It was very much fun, exchanging stories and laughing.

Claudia and Sasha came from Munich, leaving their two young children at home with a sitter. They did keep calling though, thanks to cell phones! They told us they did not even have a hotel, they just came for the ceremony and party, and were flying back the next morning….! I should explain that the party was scheduled to last till 5:00 am!!! (The ceremony started at 5:00 pm.)

Needless to say, Mom and I didn’t stay THAT late, but it was the wee hours when we returned to the hotel, which was just down the street.