January 7, 2017
Paul Groves

Tayrona Park Tour



Day 4 of 111. Santa Marta, Columbia
During the tour, Ron took lots of photos. The views of the beaches were really nice. The walking was not overly strenuous but I did enjoy the opportunities to sit quietly and cool down. It was fairly humid. We did catch glimpses of some pretty butterflies and a clear-winged moth landed on one of the other tour members but did not see a lot of wildlife (I should probably be thankful). We had a nice lunch of meat, beans, rice and fried plantains.

January 7, 2017
Paul Groves

First Port–Santa Marta, Columbia



Day 4 of 111. Santa Marta, Columbia
Tayrona National Park is a nearly pristine park where we walked, looked for wildlife and had a nice lunch. The bus trip to and from the park was a great opportunity to see the different styles of vegetation as the altitude changed as well as the varied types of housing from very poor to very nice. I must admit that one of the great features of this trip is the fact that the bus has WiFi! The fellow in white was our tour guide. We docked far from the town of Santa Marta in a dock usually reserved for coal ships. There were buses to take passengers to the town and our tour bus came and picked us up at the dock. When we left the dock, we passed many very shabby dwellings.

Ron and I were especially struck by a sign in the park that seemed kind of philosophical. It basically stated that If you go off the established path, you are making a decision; you are on a learning path. How true!

January 5, 2017
Paul Groves

The First Sea Day


Day 2 of 111. Sea Day
Today is the first “sea day” and I am learning that they are at least as important as the ports we visit. They change the rug in the elevators each day so we know what day it is. This is very helpful. I had a Windows 10 class, a watercolor class and an arts and crafts class. I had time to read some J K Rowling short stories and it is only 2:30 p.m. Ron attended a cooking demonstration, signed up for some hands-on cooking classes and joined me for the arts and crafts class introduction.

January 4, 2017
Paul Groves

On Board


Day 1 of 111. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
We have embarked and are situated comfortably in our stateroom. It is nice, with two beds, a couch, lots of closets and even a bathtub. We have explored the ship, signed up for some cooking classes, found the movie theater (Florence Foster Jenkins shows tonight) and had a little to nibble on. It was nice looking out the aft of the ship with the Netherlands flag flying in the breeze. From our window we can also see one of our pieces of luggage sitting on the dock (the bright blue bag). We don’t actually sail until 10:00 p.m. tonight so I am not at all worried that the last two suitcases will show up in the room. We just finished our muster drill, so all is well. If we end up on the news, look for lifeboat #8!

January 4, 2017
Paul Groves

Morning on the Beach


I got up early to use the WiFi in the lobby and see the sunrise over the beach. I am still collecting Pokémon and the beach offers some great variety compared to home. There are lots of Squirtles and Bulbasaurs and I even caught a Dratini. When Ron joined me, we walked around the hotel. It looks rather different during the day! I love using the portrait feature on the iPhone 7s.

January 4, 2017
Paul Groves

Our Starting Point–Ft. Lauderdale



This has been a great trip. Just a little turbulence near the end of the trip on Virgin America, but otherwise a very smooth trip. We were met at the airport by the Holland America people and transported to the Harbor Beach Marriott Hotel. This is a beautiful place. I’m hoping to see the sunrise in a few minutes. Last night, we could see a cruise ship in the distance in the dark. We think it must be the ms Amsterdam.

January 3, 2017
Paul Groves

On Our Way…Finally


Here we are at LAX. We got here in plenty of time to sit and have a leisurely breakfast at Gladstone’s LAX overlooking the airplane loading zone. We had TSA Precheck today so everything was smoooooth. What a great way to begin our trip.

January 2, 2017
Paul Groves

Ready to Go


OK, we are about as ready as we are going to be. Our bags are packed. We’ve checked in at the airlines. We have friends watching the house. Valuables have been put in storage. We’ve got our shots, our passports, our visas, our clothes, our medications, our computers… everything. Our neighbor will give us a ride to the Flyaway tomorrow morning. Can’t wait!

December 30, 2016
Paul Groves

The Amsterdam–my classroom


This ship will be our home for the next four months. It seems incredible to spend so much time away from home. This ship holds 1,300 passengers which is not like the larger ship (the NCL Jewel) we were on for our tips to Mexico and to Alaska that held 2,350 passengers. I like the idea of the smaller, more intimate ship. I’m hoping to make some new friends as well as see the world.

I view this trip as a class rather than a vacation. I know a lot about chemistry and teaching chemistry, but I really know very little about the World. I will blog about the lessons I learn in each port and between stops as well. We always talk about being lifelong learners… here’s an amazing opportunity to be one.

December 30, 2016
Paul Groves

Ron’s Dream Excursion


We just found out that there will be an excursion to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Ron really wanted to visit this temple complex, but was told earlier that it wouldn’t fit into this cruise’s itinerary. Ron is signed up and ready to go!

Ron is interested because of the immense temple complex and impressive structures. Paul is excited because Angkor Wat showed up in Indiana Jones and Laura Croft Tomb Raider.