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VirReturnsFromMinbar PM
Joined Jan '19

I have finished watching season one of Versailles and that series was very good. Bontemps, the King's valet, was very good. One of my favorite moments was when Bontemps was taking care of the king when he was ill and the king got out of bed at one point because he was still very unwell and he found him dancing in one of the rooms and ordered all the doors and windows closed so nobody could see what was going on and the king finally collapsed and Bontemps carried him back up to his room and put him to bed and slept on his usual pallet, but at the foot of the bed until the king recovered. I have discovered the joys of rediscovering old movies, like the Richard Gere version of First Knight, on Netflix. I had forgotten how good that movie was. The d.v.d. version was a bit hard to understand because of Sean Connery's accent, but Netflix automatically has subtitles.

I have already received my booster dose of the COVID vaccine, just in time for the emergence of the new South African variant. If people had gotten vaccinated when they were told to, we wouldn't have so many variants to contend with. Because I am now fully vaccinated, I have been able to do things that were considered too dangerous back when the pandemic first started, like travel overseas. My favorite trip with Viking Ocean cruises was our Italy to Greece trip, with an extension in Rome to start with. We had an early morning semi private tour of the Vatican the second day and that was very special. We had a more substantial breakfast at the Cafe Vaticano, right across the street from the entrance to the Vatican and Mom admired the pizza plates and bought it. Traffic in Rome is bad at the best of times, and being driven around in a taxi is an adventure because of the motorcyclists. They will get in front of a car, but the taxi drivers won't hit them and they know to give them room. Walking around Rome at night is super safe because of all the police officers and army officers around. We saw the Coliseum at night and it was very impressive. We also saw the Italian version of the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier, which is colloquially known as "The Wedding Cake" because it is so ornate. To prepare for that trip, I watched The Great Courses Guide To Essential Italy, narrated by Professor Bartlett, so I learned a lot more about Italy. We also went to Pompeii, which was very interesting. We also went to Sila National Park, and our group from the ship were the only people there, apart for some locals. Another of our stops was in Venice, which was fun. Our whole group had a semi prviate gondola ride and getting into the gondolas, at least for me, was a bit of a challenge because they are so low to the ground. In one of the other gondolas, there was a guy singing and another guy playing an accordion and we went into some of the residential canals and the people living along those canals had their windows open and waved to us. We also saw Saint Mark's Basilica, but didn't go in. The murals were very ornate. We also had a stop in Dubrovnik, which was the set for King's Landing in Game Of Thrones, and there were Game OF Thrones souvenir shops all over the place. We finished the cruise in Athens and stayed at the Athens Plaza Hotel, which was steps away from the Hellenic Parliament. Visiting Athens in October is preferable to visiting in August, like we did when we went on the Malta to the Greek Islands cruise, and it was humid that month. We did a lot of shopping on that trip. One of my favorite places in Athens was a shop where everything was made totally out of cork, including eyeglass cases. All the locals we met were very nice and they continued to take precautions against COVID. My next trip is Viking Homelands during the summer of next year, from Stockholm, Sweden to Bergen, Norway, with a post extension called Norway and Scenic Train, which finishes in Oslo. We also have stops in Saint Petersburg, Russia and a couple other places, including Berlin, Germany. Our second cruise that year will be Alaska And The Inside Passage, from Canada to Alaska. The year after that is our big trip, a month long one from Australia to Thailand, with a stop in Komodo, Indonesia and we will get to see the Komodo dragons. I already have my new passport, so I am all set for next year. Viking will also be offering expedition cruises, which go to places that are not often traveled to, like Mackinaw Island and other places.

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