I haven’t written for a while. I have been lazy. I would like to pretend that I’ve been busy, but … I haven’t. I did take a week to go up to Ohio and visit friends and family. But it’s been a bit longer than that. I’ve not been writing much at all.

I have been able to keep up with my yoga practice and my gym routines. One necessitates the other. I’m at a gym where the CrossFit Open is on the menu for Friday, so even though I’m not signed up, I’m doing the Open.

I keep track of every single solitary workout I’ve ever done. I used to write them up here on a daily basis but frankly, that got boring even for me. So I have a notebook and I write in the WOD, my scaling, my score, and any notes I feel are relevant. I was smart enough to put in the date for the muscle tear thing and so I know that it happened on June 13. It still isn’t completely healed, but I’m improving.

I finally managed some thrusters and clean and jerks although they were both quite light. That came in handy for the ground to overhead movement for 20.1. At least I knew I could manage that without causing another injury. I tried, just as an experiment, hanging from the rig and that still hurts. Snatches hurt. Double unders hurt and that one just confuses me, but I apparently do something weird with my arm and when that pulls, I then mess up the twirl of the rope and whip myself, adding insult to injury. Overhead squats are also sill out of the picture.

However, I’m able to do most things or find a scaled option for them and manage to get a decent workout in when I show up at the gym. So, I’m pretty happy about that. I didn’t have to take lots of time off, I just had to modify and be smart. The latter part was the hardest to manage.

I started using the library again and have been several times, and I found some interesting books to read. I’ve also found some books to not read and just return to the library on time. Life is like that. The cover looked good, but the inside didn’t live up to my expectations (or at least not to my tastes).

I’ve been doing quite a bit of crochet and have yet another stack of baby blankets to donate to The Linus Project. This has kept me busy and given me some feeling of not being a total slug as I watch The Great Courses, You Tube, or Netflix.

I keep seeing that having a purpose to life is supposed to make living life better. It is difficult to find a purpose at this age. I used to save lives and conquer disease and felt like a worthwhile and contributing member of society. Teaching is always seen as helpful. Even working as a secretary for a community theater and a financial advisory team felt like I was somehow making the world a better place. I was at least contributing to society.

I set myself a project for the year. I picked a topic per month, found images online that were free to use (Google advanced search allows you to filter for that), and added quotes about the topic. I posted them daily when my technology worked properly. I have always worked ahead. When I was writing Little Bits of History, I was always done with the next month and usually more than six weeks ahead with the writing. I would post an entire month at one time and schedule it in advance. I don’t know how to do that with Instagram or Facebook, so even though I was ready to travel, I didn’t manage to upload the stuff because it didn’t work abroad.

True to form, I’m finished with the entire year’s worth of images and quotes. I needed a new project for next year. Something to feel like I’m a bit creative. And I think I found a new idea that might work well. At least I have a tentative plan for not fading into the sunset. The ability to use my words has always been important. If I’m going to keep my body moving along, I also need to keep my mind sharp. They are a connected pair.

So while I would like to have a decent reason for slacking off, I don’t. I have only excuses that are shallow at best. Still, I suppose that’s better than nothing at all.

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The grandkids putting a skull together at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. 

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I am a CrossFitter. I’m also a Senior Citizen complete with retirement and Medicare. I’m old.

I have been doing CrossFit for seven years now. I thought, when I started, that I would just magically work hard, achieve all the things, and be able to do the workouts as written, just like all the people half my age, or even just those the same age as my kids.

This has not worked out the way I expected. I cannot do all the things. I have RXd a WOD a few times over the years, but only if they were not weighted WODs or if they were supposed to be “light and fast” and for me they were ponderous and heavy.

When I started, I didn’t really know how to scale and I would be working for much longer than anyone else if the WODs were so many rounds for time. And if they were an AMRAP, I had very few rounds and was exhausted.

I have since learned to give myself a senior discount and modify the WODs to the point where I’m not keeping everyone at the gym for hours while I try to finish what took them mere minutes.

I used to tell myself that it was easy for those other, younger people. And then I watched more closely. It wasn’t. They were working, struggling, powering through. They were drenched in sweat. They were breathing hard. They were crumpled in a heap on the floor after time was called, just like me.

CrossFit isn’t easy for anyone. It certainly isn’t easy for me, but that doesn’t make me anything special. Perhaps those who go to the Games can achieve far more than I can, but they are working exceptionally hard in order to do so.

It took me a long time to stop feeling either persecuted or unworthy of being in the same space as the other athletes. I have the same right to show up. CrossFit bills itself as good for everyone because it is endlessly scaleable. There are scaling options for every single damn thing. I use many of them.

Once I decided – and that is the key part, I had to decide – to be content with my progress even while striving to improve, I stopped being so angry at both myself and the white board. And then came the joy.

I’m never going to be the best score on the board. I still am not a fan of the white board. But I have finally let it go, knowing that I win every time my name goes up there. The numbers after my name are meaningless. I am the only 66 year old at the gym doing CrossFit. I’m best in my age group.

I’m doing the things and finally finding the joy in the simple act of doing them. My devil press today was lighter by far than what was on the board. But I did them with integrity as my scaling option was laid out. My handstand push-up came from a box. Seven years ago, I would not have been able to do either of those things and today I found them remarkably difficult and did them repeatedly anyway.

Giving myself the permission to enjoy my limited performance has actually given me the freedom to increase my limited performance. I know I’m not like anyone else at the gym, so when I can’t do what they do, it is okay. I can do all the things I’ve worked for. I would like more and so tomorrow, the alarm clock will go off, I will get up and do some yin yoga to stretch and warm up, and then head for the gym and do it all again.

Learning to be happy without having to be best has been the most difficult lesson to learn. And it took me years. I could have been a lot happier a lot sooner if I had actually learned to let go of my ego. I am currently the best version of me possible. I’m not the best person at the gym. I’m the best me I can bring to the gym. That’s really enough.

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Dorian has finally gone away. We were very lucky as the storm stayed about 50 miles out to sea and thereby diminished the land effects.

It rained and gusted for around 16 to 20 hours and in that time dropped about 3.5 inches of rain. But it did it in gusts and then in showers and the drainage could keep up with the downfall, so we never had standing water creeping up the back yard. The streets didn’t turn into rivers. The system worked.

I walked around the neighborhood this morning and saw the damage. It was minor. There were many branches and palm fronds down. There were millions of twigs and leaves. We have a small decorative fence hiding the air conditioner and garbage can and one of the panels of that fell over.

I didn’t see any shattered solar panels as I walked and I thought that was rather amazing. There were so many sticks flying around.

As I walked around, I could hear them working on the golf course. They had a chipper working grinding up fallen branches and I heard a chain saw as well. They should be back in business relatively quickly.

What I noticed was all the crepe myrtle berries on the ground. They kept crunching underfoot and I realized that birds were going to have a smaller food supply come fall.

That’s when I started to worry about the alligators. They are not usually anything I worry about except as a hope to avoid completely. But here they were, just minding their alligator business and it started to rain. And it gusted. Then it rained a little and then it rained a lot and then it rained some more and then it kept raining.

They probably didn’t know about Dorian. I mean, their internet connection is weak and all. So what does an alligator think as it rains and rains and rains. It’s not like they hate water, but it has to get rather tiring after a few hours and then more hours and then even more.

And the deer in the area. They were sheltered under swirling trees throwing leaves and twigs and even the occasional branch at them. How do they cope with these storms? I assume the birds can either hold on to lower branches and hope for the best or fly away from the storm completely. What does an eagle do with this crap?

As I walked, I worried about all the little critters who were out there in the storm. Not that I was going to invite any alligator in for shelter or anything, but I did worry about them.

The electricity is back, the mess is slight, we are lucky. Again.

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A list.

    1. Their coffee is horrible and you don’t get much of it. My 6 ounces of Americana (with heated and frothed milk and a small glass of water and rarely a little cookie) was the same price as Dick’s pint of beer. There are no refills on anything in Europe and you have to buy the next one, too.
    2. I hate duvets. All of them. What the hell? It’s not that Americans like that much air conditioning. You just make us sleep with winter blankets even in the dead of summer in a heat wave.
    3. European men buy their dress shirts one size too small consistently. Regardless of body type.
    4. Some people liked Communism.
    5. It is difficult to defend the Church’s wealth, but I’m getting better at it. The cathedrals were built on the backs of laborers, instead of feeding the poor. However, they created jobs for centuries and allowed the peons entrance whereas palaces did the same thing but kept the unwashed masses out. It’s good to be the king.
    6. They make Kleenex out of sandpaper. Toilet paper isn’t very good, either.              6 a. Free bathrooms are wonderful.
    7. Their chocolate is better.
    8. I use my cell phone more than I think I do.
    9. I can do shots – but I’m not a fan.
    10. The Croatians love Americans.
    11. Hungarians were fascist anti-Semites before Hitler came along.
    12. We call people and countries names they themselves don’t use. Hungary is Magyar. Apparently a different group of Huns.
    13. Each place finds a way to be best. Highest instead of longest, for example.
    14. I hate being illiterate and it was even worse with a Cyrillic alphabet.                        14 a. I depend on signs far more than I realized.
    15. I can manage complicated subway systems even if I can’t pronounce the street names. We got off at “Bela Lugosi”.
    16. The way to toast someone in Croatian sounds an awful lot like “eggs Benedict” but don’t toast with beer.
    17. Taking the risk was worth it and the Ship Swap was smooth as silk.                           17 a. The 40+ people who backed out missed a great adventure.
    18. Even in all our different cultures with all our different languages, we are the same.
    19. Man’s inhumanity to man is nauseating but if you look closely, you find good people everywhere.
    20. It is good to be home.

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We got to Bratislava around 4.30 AM, luckily my input was not needed for this. This is the third capital city we are visiting and the smallest of the lot with only around 500,000 inhabitants. That still means that about 10% of Slovakia lives here.

We began our day with food because that is the entire focus of a cruise. We then left the ship for a walking tour of the city. The roads are cobblestones and were a bit difficult to walk on, but weren’t as uneven as in some places.

We made our way through the old city with many beautiful buildings that had been changing hands over the eons as one power unit after another steamrolled over the region. In 1945 the locals were saved from the Nazis by the Russians. Like any big brother, they told us, the Russians forgot to leave.

After the end of the first War to End All Wars, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was broken up into several smaller countries, but they still lumped several of them together for some reason or another. Pressburg became Bratislava but the region was still predominantly German by population and language. The entire region was still a powder keg because the people who ended the war didn’t actually speak with the people who were being affected by their decisions.

There remain many of the old beautiful buildings and some of the statues of the liberating Russians are honored in the old quarter. The streets are winding and the city centers are huge in this part of the world. Apparently no one really cared about straight lines in medieval days and they just built wherever the whim suited as long as there was a large market place in the center.

They love to build monuments thanking God for saving them as they died in droves.

Dragos recommended a local taste treat of a chocolate and honey confection. We looked for it at the grocery store, roaming up and down the candy aisle and the cookie aisle and even the honey aisle. We could not find it. We gave up and met for lunch and clarified the name of the tasty treat.

After lunch, on this hottest day of the tour, we went back out into the city to walk to the Blue Church. It is called that because – wait for it – it is blue. It is actually blue and white as is the companion building next to it. The school across the street is tan and brown. We stopped at one of the “functional” design buildings the Russians built during their occupation because the front door was open and we could peek inside. These are not luxury buildings in any sense of the word. They were functional as they were meant to be.

We tried again to find the chocolate/honey treat. We looked in all the usual places. I finally asked a clerk who didn’t speak English for some help. I tried to pronounce the name of the treat and failed miserably. However, she offered another name and I shrugged and said maybe. She took us past the candy, cookies, honey, and the rest of the store to the produce section and there in the middle of the vegetables, were the treats. We bought some. They are delicious. BTW over here every single ESL person calls them veg eh tables. Every single one.

Today was the day for our home hosted dinner. In the past, local people who contract with Grand Circle would cook up some food for us and we would go to their house and have something to eat and talk about their culture, way of life, or anything we could think of. However, the EU is just as stupid as the US when it comes to infuriating interfering laws. They decided that anyone who cooked food to feed to strangers was a “restaurant” and would need a license and inspection as well as clearly marked men’s and women’s bathrooms. So, the food was catered and brought to the houses by a professional service and then the bathrooms didn’t matter any more, but we didn’t get some home cooked food. Governments are stupid everywhere. The catered food was okay, but not the same as cooks showing off their local favorites.

We met a woman in her apartment. She was single and had already been retired for nine years, but didn’t look all that old to me – perhaps sixty at most. What amazed me most was that she was rather nostalgic for the Communist regime. She was around 20 when they left and had a good job before the economy collapsed.

The Communist philosophy was that everybody worked, perhaps in a job you hated or were not suited for in any way, but you worked and were supplied an equal share of the very few resources available. Part of everyone’s job was to stand in lines to try to get possession of the rare items appearing on shelves for a brief moment. But at least there was something, even if it wasn’t enough.

After they left, there was about a 30% unemployment rate and our host shifted from job to job until she could retire. She has two small pensions from her previous jobs and is able to live in a rather “large” apartment she bought about 20 years ago. It is a two bedroom place, perhaps 750 square feet. There is no air conditioning but there is central heating and each apartment does have its own bathroom. We ate in the warm, dark room as she never turned on any lights even as dusk approached.

They talk a lot about “free” stuff here, but none of it is actually free for everybody. They have free college IF you can get into one of the free slots by having a high enough GPA and passing a test with a high enough score. We call these scholarships. They have their pensions or what we call Social Security and it no more really enough for them than it is for us.

There are hundreds and hundreds of the social housing units made of prefab blocks of concrete that were put together “like LEGOs” and then ignored so that they have had to be renovated and spruced up as they were starting to disintegrate. They were built to last 80 to 100 years and so their shelf life is about half over and much of the city resides in them. They have already started to talk about what they are going to do when they crumble into dust.

We spent the night in port and then went on the Communist Bus tour the next day. It was a real Communist era bus built in the 1970s in the Czech region of the Eastern Bloc. It had been refurbished and was a bright orange in color with all new seats. One assumes the engine had also been overhauled. The suspension was quite bouncy and it was a stick shift, unlike modern buses. There was no computer on board and none of the extra gadgets so prevalent on tour buses of today.

We went past thousands of units of the social housing stuff. They look different than they did when we first saw them six years ago. Today, the outsides are partially painted with various colors and in various designs. They look much better than the rows and rows of bare concrete, but they are still in the functional style and less than beautiful by any stretch of the imagination.

We turned down this narrow road, more like a driveway. We did not meet any oncoming traffic which was just as well as I’m not sure it would have fit. There was a median strip and then another narrow lane to our left. That was Austria. During the Communist regime, this was heavily guarded and the median strip still had the posts every few feet that held up the barbed wire fencing.

We came to a military cemetery where soldiers from WWI were buried. This was lost for over forty years because the entire area for about 250 to 500 meters from the border was a no man’s land. There was also a replica of the border displayed. There was an inner electrified barbed wire fence with a space that was often filled with sand to find footprints, and at one time also held landmines, but these were removed when more guards than escapees were killed, and then a second barbed wire fence. There had been raised searchlights every few hundred feet all along the border as well.

Over 300 people were killed while trying to escape the brutal regime. More than twice that many guards died and many more committed suicide after having to shoot their fellow citizens (often in the back) as they tried to escape. This area was simply a reminder of how cruel we are to one another all for the power hungry who demand ever more power.

We somehow managed to get out of here and I can only say I could never have been a bus driver. I don’t know how they do this.

We then wended our way up the hillside along the road where all the embassy bosses have private housing. The US house looks like a small White House. At the top of the hill is a memorial for the 7,000 Russian soldiers buried here. The statues represent the gratitude of the Slovakian people to those who died to liberate them from the oppressive Nazi occupation. As our guide said, they were not responsible for what happened three years later.

We got back to the ship and set sail for a quiet rest of the day on the water. We went through the largest lock in this part of the world and were in there with at least two other large cruising ships. Some locks are so small, they barely contain our one ship (and this limits the size of sailing along the entire river).

After our return, I was so embarrassed to overhear some idiot American complaining that he didn’t see an Iron Curtain. He apparently thought there was some sort of iron shower curtain or drapery all along the border between free and non-free regions. I am mortified at times by our lack of intercultural understanding.

We had a discussion with our Program Directors. All three men were affected by the Communist occupation. Both Dragos and Dom were children born into Communist controlled countries. Dragos is Romanian and while his stories were heartbreaking, Dom is Croatian and his stories were terrifying. The breakup of Yugoslavia impacted his family personally. Although none of his closest relatives were killed, many family friends were. Both of these young men are in their 30s and so their memories are not as scary as they might have been if they had been responsible adults at the time. They were somewhat protected by their youth.

Harold was born in Western Germany and didn’t really understand the entire situation. He is a year older than me (and still working!). He knew that part of his family was in Eastern Germany and although some of his relatives managed to get to the west before the Berlin Wall was erected, others didn’t make it. His introduction into the difference between West and East came when he was in college and tried to visit the other side of the wall. His stories were not as personal but still quite moving.

We ended the day with a “talent show” by the crew. It was quite entertaining and we all toddled off to bed happy and content and wrapped in the safety of a free world, at least the part we live and travel in.

A recreation of what an iron curtain looked like

We arrived in Vienna early in the morning, like before 1 AM. So essentially, we spent the night there. They did an excellent job docking and I was surprised to look outside and see the city before us.

We started out with a local guide because Austria insists on it. We rode the bus around Ring Road, the old city wall of the original Vienna. There were residents living in the region for nearly a hundred thousand years, but they didn’t call it that.

Way back then, the Danube River ran directly next to the city gates. And it flooded with alarming regularity because rivers tend to do that. So, many years ago (but I have no idea when) they actually rerouted the Danube and left the older part that is now inside the city proper as a waterway, but not the mighty Danube River we sail on. They straightened out the bigger waterway, leaving just a small, non-flooding bit of river inside the city.

We were then kicked off the bus and walked around Vienna until we came to St. Stephen’s Cathedral. It is a massive church and is the biggest or tallest or some way the best in all Austria. This happens with all sorts of landmarks. Each proud city finds some way to have their stuff be the best. St. Stephen’s roof was destroyed by fire not during WWII, but shortly thereafter. It was retiled and the place repaired in the years following the War.

Vienna was a target for the Nazis and city officials and the Austrian Army refused to surrender. But some guy climbed the tower of the church and hung out a massive white flag. The Austrian Army was ordered to bomb the cathedral to take down the flag and the Austrian in charge of the bombing brigade people refused and saved the historic church.

Many of the windows had been broken and the church was not nearly as artsy or pretty as many of the others we have visited. We were then left alone to wander the city streets for about 90 minutes and were to meet back at the cathedral.

We did wander around and found St. Peter’s church very close by St. Stephen’s. That particular church is beautiful and full of all the froo froo stuff one is used to seeing in European churches that are hundreds of years old. We learned later that remnants of much older churches have been excavated, showing a church has existed here for many hundreds of years.

We were shown the Plague Tower, a feature of many European cities. During the scourge of the Black Death, when those damn foreigners brought strange diseases to the masses, it was assumed that so many people were dying because they were not devote enough or God was unhappy with them. They built massive towering structures in the city centers around here in order to placate this unhappy god. They also got rid of many of the cats because they were related to witches. The cats would have helped to get rid of the rats that carried the fleas that were spreading the diseases, but the towers are very ornate and pretty.

We were warned that café waiters were surly and rude, but did not find this to be the case when we stopped for a coffee and a shared apple strudel. A single very small cup of coffee was 4.50 euro or about $5. No refills here in Europe. No large coffee cups, just basically the size of a double shot of espresso. That’s what you get and you will like it.

There was a chance to go to the Vienna Opera House and listen to some music and it was highly praised, but not something I really wanted to do. So we stayed on the ship and they showed an old movie that had been filmed in Vienna in 1948, The Third Man.

The next day started quite early with a tour of the palace at Schonbrunn. This was the country summer palace of the Hapsburg family. While it used to be out in the country, Vienna has grown o much that is now in the city itself. The last time we were here, we couldn’t tour it because of some reason and it was top on my list of things to do on this trip. We were given a tour of part of the palace and taken through 40 of the over 1,000 rooms. They were ornate. They were opulent. They were awe inspiring. My favorite was the black lacquer room which was eye popping.

We then went to the carriage museum, also at the palace and saw just a few of the carriages owned by the Hapsburgs. By the end of their hundreds of years in power, they own several hundred carriages all decked out for various occasions. We were shown about 25 of them.

We were then given some time to tour the gardens which are extensive and beautiful and grand and vast. It is indeed good to be the king.

We made our way back to the ship. We had to be packed up and ready for a Ship Swap. We were going to be leaving the Adagio and getting aboard the Rhapsody, the ship we were originally supposed to be on. There were people on the Rhapsody that needed to be on the Adagio, the ship they were supposed to originally be on.

We had to give up our room keys and have all our stuff out in the hall, ready for the swap at 3 PM. In order to keep us busy, they came up with another optional tour for the day. We were taken out in the world and shown this artistic building designed by someone I was supposed to know. The guy hated straight lines and everything is curved and swooping, even the sidewalks outside the building.

Vienna has most of its residents living in this subsidized housing – 65%. They have a waiting list for this very cheap, but very cramped option. The apartments we looked at were about 600 square feet each. If your family grows and you need more space, you have to apply and get on a waiting list which can be up to four years long. I don’t know where you are supposed to live while you wait for the first of these apartments had how stacked up you are supposed to be when looking for a bit more space, but this is apparently working for them.

We then went to the Nashmarkt, a mile long row of stalls selling every damn thing from every damn where. There were options to buy either the ingredients or the already cooked meals from every cuisine imaginable. There were options for clothing items or souvenirs. On Saturdays, at the end of the market there is a massive flea market set up. The last time we were here, it was a Saturday. This time it was not, so that was not operating.

We had dinner on the Adagio and by that time the Rhapsody was parked right next to us so all we had to do was walk across a gangplank set up for the trade and get the keys to our new room. And just like that, we were on the Rhapsody! I don’t know how they could have possibly made it less painless. What a great logistic feat.

We were placated by having an open bar for an hour after boarding and then as we trailed off to our new cabins, we sailed toward Bratislava.

We stayed in Krems overnight. We had our first outing of the day, leaving the ship at 9.15. The red and yellow groups went first to the Winzer Krems Winery. There are some special types of grapes grown only in the Wachau valley and instead of each small vineyard trying to make and market their own wine, they have formed a cooperative. There are many small vineyards who sell all their grapes to the co-op while others sell only a portion of them.

The winery is then able to manage quality control, fermentation, bottling, and marketing with a much larger production budget. This seems to work well for most of those participating. The winemakers cooperative has been in existence for many years now and was the impetus for the family from yesterday to start something similar for the apricot growers.

I’m not sure who thought having a wine tasting tour start at 9.15 AM was a good idea, but it wasn’t me. I’m not a big drinker even later in the day, and this time of the morning was particularly unappetizing. They did off just fruit juice if you were looking for something nonalcoholic, but that had more carbs for no good reason and I just passed. I only went on this particular tour because I wanted to participate in the next phase.

The winery itself was interesting. They had some really well done presentations throughout the factory portion of the tour. The plant for wine making was huge and had 179 massive tanks for the beginning part of the wine making procedure. The higher quality wines were stored in oak barrels while cheaper wines were stored in metal vats.

We were taken into a movie theater and shown a 4-D movie. That’s not a typo. We wore our 3-D glasses and that worked just as normal, but there were vents in the air system that would spray in scents that were part of the presentation as well. It was more than wonderful and so I suppose the trip was worth it. That and they had a free bathroom.

After the winery tour was over, we were back on the bus and taken to Durnstein, a small and quaint riverside village that has endured for thousands of years. In it’s present state, it has existed for nearly one thousand years. We know this because this is where Richard the Lionhearted was held after he was captured as he returned from the Crusades.

The castle/fortress where he was held is in ruins now, but if you were industrious enough and wished to climb to the top of the “hill” AKA mountain, you could visit it. We were not quite that industrious.

We stayed in the town and wandered around. We went to see the great views of the Danube outside the Hotel Schloss which is right there on the bend of the river. Richard Gere owns the thing and it the place Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed stayed just weeks before they were killed. They had remained here for three weeks prior to leaving the area and their tragic deaths.

We were bused back to the ship and fed again because that whole thing about not missing a meal is important. After lunch we went back into Krems and wandered around.

I wanted to see inside the old church that was part of the monastery. We looked again inside the cathedral and it was much different when we were in there without a whole bunch of tourists. We then went to the church “up on the hill”. Again, these people have an odd sense of the world hill. I think it was like climbing the Matterhorn or something. There were stairs and ramps and stairs and more stairs and more ramps and finally, as the air was thinning, we reached the church.

We wandered around, trying to find a door to get in. we did eventually find our way inside. The church was older and smaller than the cathedral. It was still full of art work, froo-froo stuff, and lots of gold leaf. While the cathedral was said to seat 400, this church couldn’t have held more than 150 and yet it was highly decorated, beautiful, massively built, and rather unlike normal small town churches back home.

We managed to get back down to sea level and made our way back to the ship. They had an appreciation meeting for Inner Circle people – those who had repeatedly vacationed with Grand Circle. They gave us some champagne or sparkling wine or something and a few snacks and then they gave us each a shot of pear/apple schnapps. We were toasted again and told you were supposed to throw it back in one gulp and not sip it. So I did.

I’m certain I have never chugged a shot before in my life. I thought Dick was going to faint. But here I was, acting all adult and stuff. I managed to make it to the dining room for dinner without tipping over, so it was a success. Dinner was delicious, as always, and then it was time to toddle off to some quiet time.

Church tower or steeple structure at Durnstein.