Saturday June 30, 2012

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I have a confession to make. We’ve been lazy, so lazy you wouldn’t believe it. We spent yesterday and the day before at sea – cruising south, from Scandinavia back to Holland. Which meant two whole days to do all those lovely lazy things we haven’t yet got around to. And, if you’d been on board, you might have found your Kiwi friends and family members catching up on sleep … or turning pages in a good book … or taking in an entertaining lecture, a course on digital photography, or a recent-release movie (while munching on popcorn) … or stepping out for a brisk few kilometres around the teak Promenade Deck … or challenging other passengers at golf, quoits, shuffle-board or table-tennis … or catching up on emails … or writing up their travel diaries … or enjoying a gourmet cooking class at the Culinary Arts Centre … or indulging in a Royal Dutch High Tea at the La Fontaine Dining Room

Following which you might’ve spotted them working it all off in the gym (ouch, the pain!) … or sweating it all off in the thermal steam and aromatic room (phew!) … or pampering themselves with a relaxing Swedish massage in the Spa (aahh, yes!) … or just having a lie-down (now you’re talking!).

Then, early this morning, our ship docked in the busy Dutch portof Rotterdam – where our main Baltic cruise started, two weeks ago. And we quickly got back to work …

Leaving Rotterdam, we enjoyed a short coach-drive to the very old (and very pretty) town of Delft – stopping first at the Porceleijne Fles to see where (and how) they make the world-renowned Royal Delft Blue Porcelain. (The women, I’ve gotta tell you, went a little crazy here, maxing-out their credit-cards and diving into their husbands’ wallets for any leftover Euros.)

Then, for something a little different, we got introduced to the stunning art of Dutch painter, Vermeer, before sitting down to a posh lunch at the posh Kurhaus Hotel in The Hague – capital of theNetherlands and home of Queen Beatrix.

Finally, after a quick look at the nearby beach (with views out over the North Sea) … and an even quicker drive-past the Royal Palace, the Peace Palace and the new Government House … we spent a fun 45-minutes wandering around Madurodam, where a remarkable interactive display of Holland’s past-&-present in miniature attracts local families and tourists in their hordes.

Arriving back at the cruise terminal, we said a sad – and hurried – goodbye to seven of our gallant Kiwis. Sad because we’re gonna miss them, for sure. Hurried, because the other 25 of us were almost late (again) getting back on board.

While the seven headed to Amsterdam for the night (then various other parts of the planet) … the rest of us attended lifeboat drill on deck 3. Then, to the accompaniment of an enthusiastic ragtag band who were playing their hearts out on the pier, the ms Rotterdam sounded its horn and moved slowly back out to sea.


Part 2 of our Mad Midlife Cruise gets underway – in the drop-dead-gorgeous Norwegian Fjords. And we do some serious sightseeing in beautiful Bergen (founded in 1070 by nice King Olav the Peace Loving). There’s lots more fun to come, folks, so stay close to your computer …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN