Let’s Take a Boat Ride – Day 0

Today is a day of getting off earth and planting our feet firmly on the sea. Today we board the Carnival Vista to sail from Athens to Rodes Greece.pat ship (jpeg)It will take us a couple of days to get there. In cruise ship time, we have to travel at about 9kts to stay on schedule. So tomorrow will be a relaxing day at sea.

So today goes, up in the morning, coffee, clean up, pack the bags, move to the lobby, check out, get a cab and off to the cruise port. All part of the cruising ritual on a boarding day. Once there, it’s one step at a time. Get in line, go through security, get in line, get pictures taken for ID, go sit for a while, get in line then walk the plank to the ship. Once aboard, we head to the room, dump off our luggage and then head to the Atrium Bar for a sip of something to celebrate the boarding process and talk about our plans for the trip.

CP & P Bar (jpeg)

After that tradition, we walk to the Lido Deck to have lunch. We caught up with Pete and Iva there and had a good lunch, since we missed breakfast. It’s a wonderful thing to be traveling with these guys. Their laid back comfort is a pleasure to be around and well, Iva, along with Eva and Ava are always in rare form. (Eva and Ava are Iva’s alternate personalities.) We love them all.

So, after lunch, back to the cabin to unpack and get settled, nap and balcony time. Then time for 8:15 dinner. We have a table of eight new people to join us on a ten top round table. Good people, new company, new stories and friendships kindle. We also had a chance to visit shortly with Ken. We’ve sailed with him a few times before and we are looking forward to his singing and the wonderful way he runs his restaurant.

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After dinner, Pat headed to the casino to pick up some money and I headed to the room to kick back on the balcony and watch the water pass by with a nice half moon shining down and turning the surface of the sea into diamonds and I knoded in and out in a dream. All was right.

Tomorrow is a day at sea. Sully is playing at the iMax theater, so I think we’ll take a trip to the movies. That’s a first for us, but I’ve wanted to see that movie, so since it’s available here on the ship, it will be an experience to be enjoyed.

I’ve also got a book that I’ve wanted to re-read, Cellini’s Dreamers Highway. Cellini is the street performers, street performer. He passed away a few years ago and is missed by many of us magicians. He was gentle, loving, strong and a classic street performer, taking control of his piece of sidewalk, sharing the magic with respect to himself and his audiences, and laying his hat down for support, which is the way he lived, graciously. So the read will make me smile, again and fill my heart with magic.

Sea day tomorrow…

capt. paul (jpeg)



The Bus Tour of Athens – Day 2

You know what? I like breakfast. Sure, I like to eat fruit and peanut butter, eggs, turkey bacon, toast and garlic, but when I travel, I like to check out what breakfast is for others around the world. Well I’m not sure if this is the norm since we are in a hotel, but breakfast was a feast. Fresh Greek Yougart – not like we get in America, I mean real Greek Yougart. It was great. A lot of fresh fruit and a hard boiled egg and of course coffee, and that was the tip of the iceberg.

pete and iva (jpeg)

Now that breakfast was out of the way, it was time to go to the lobby and meet the group of us that had a bus trip booked to see Piraeus and Athens. A full day was ahead of us, that’s for sure. The plan is to board the bus, cruise the cruise ship docks then off to the yacht harbor to pick up the road to Athens. Stop at the 1896 Olympic Stadium, the first modern competive Olympics in the world. Then a cruise around the city with all the cool sites a stop to watch the changing of the guard at the tomb of the Unknown Greek Soldier. It was a very cool thing to watch. Then off to the Parthenon to hike to the top. After that lunch and home. I like the plan.

So Pat, Pete, Iva and I found comfortable seats and we were off for a day of exploring new sites.

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All I could think about was Krysta Palmer. Brother Dan’s niece that fought for her place in the 2016 Olympics Woman’s Diving Competiton, as I stood in awe looking at the stadium that housed the 1st Olympic Modern Competition in 1896. What a treat it was to visualize the events that have taken place here. Krysta didn’t make the cut for 2016, but she is on track for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. You are in such amazing company Krysta. Stand tall and strong. You’ve truly got this.
We stopped for a few to watch the changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Greek Soldier. What a formal piece of ritual this was. I do have some video of it and I will load it up on Facebook as WiFi affords me to do so. What a site to see. Our timing was great, because it happens every hour on the hour and our driver pulled up five minutes before the ceremony.

1st Olympic Stadium.

All went as planned. Our tour guide was remarkable. She spoke with passion and color. She put history to life and made sure that you could feel the magic of the history. Step by step we moved through 4,000 years of Greek tradition and history. I only got lost once, when I lost our group, but I found a new trail that was not heavely used and made it to the bus at 1:15 p.m. This is the exact time that the guide told us that the bus would leave, so all was good. We did have to wait for the guide to come back to the bus because she was out looking for me, but I was there on time. I’m good with that.

The Parthenon was remarkable. The energy was very high. Magic was in my soul. I have never experienced the wonder that I experienced there. I will never forget it either.  To touch a hand carved slab of marble that 4,000 years earlier a man was carving to be placed in a perfect spot to make this monument of art was a moment of celestial connection. For a moment, I was linked with the history of this place, the people, the time. I could only capture it with a picture as I left it behind as time itself has done also.

Guard change (jpeg)

We left the Parthenon to go to lunch. It was a great shopping mall area of Athens with restaurant after restaurant and shop after shop. All beautiful, with strolling music and people all working for your money. It was great. I love that kind of atmosphere and gardens.

Lunch was a real treat too. Very traditional and tasty. We couldn’t have asked for more that’s for sure. The bus was on time and my souvenir from here was a new tube of toothpaste. I’ll need a Greek interpreter to tell me what’s in it, but I’m sure it will be fine. I had to replace the one that the English Customs took from me when heading to Greece. Which was weird to me because Greece didn’t check what I brought in, but England wouldn’t let me take it with me. I’m sure there is a reason for that, but I’ll never know, I guess.

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We arrived back at the hotel and took a couple hour break and then had to meet a group of people that we are sailing with us tomorrow on the Carnival Vista for a 10 day Mediterranean Cruise. Yep. Tomorrow we move onto the ship and start our cruising adventures. We are looking forward to it. So up early and get organized. Anytime I’m in a hotel for a couple of days, I’ve moved in. It’s just me, sorry Pat.

P.S I want to work this stage. How cool would that be.

Tommrow is another day…

capt paul (jpeg)

Capt. Paul



parthanon (jpeg)

From What We Awoke To We’re Stoked – Day 1

This is our laid back day. A day of, sort of, rest. Waking up and realizing that we are in Greece is a very strange feeling for me. I really never thought of being here. I mean, I thought about it, but I never really even did much research as to where I really was going to be. How cool is this feeling of being. A feeling of just being here, or there. It didn’t matter, I was just… Here…

We woke up around 10:00 a.m. Pete and I got some coffee going, I slipped on a spiral marble stair case, hung by my bad arm on a pipe and grabbed Pete’s bad shoulder to save my fall that I’m sure would have put me up in the hospital, showered in the smallest shower I can remember and met up with Pete again, and Iva, to go for a walk. The city is so different than I imagined it would be. Being one day in London, then flying and arriving in the dark, then walking out the door of a place I had no concept of… Whew, I loved it.

Small skinny streets, fast moving traffic, strong but gentle people and incredible sights. We headed in the direction of the marina. The town of Piraeus seems to have two bays or ports. One for commercial ship traffic and one for pleasure vessels and the fishing fleet.

We found a place to eat a brunch and walked the waterfront and found a place to kickback and spend a few hours sipping water and a capachino. We engaged in great conversation and Pete did a walk for a couple of miles to bring us back more conversation. It was truly a blessed time. A day we really needed and enjoyed.

We headed back to the hotel, finding an amazing chocolate shop, more views of the city and some cool bars and stores. Truly a wonderful city to explore.

Once back at the hotel, we relaxed for a while, collected emails, caught up on some news from home and then went to dinner at the roof top restaurant again. What a great place to eat with great prices. Our waiter George is wonderful. He takes pretty good care of us and is teaching us about the way of things here in Piraeus.

So off to the room to settle in and write up today’s doings. The internet is a bit slow tonight, so I’m in hopes the pictures get uploaded too. I don’t think I’ll sit up and wait. I’ll check on them in the morning.

Tomorrow morning, we take a tour to Athens to see the Parthenon, one of the great wonders of the world. Tour the city and then back to Piraeus for a “Ship Get-Together” to meet some of the people that Pat has met online. Where at you ask? Yep. The roof top restaurant here at the hotel…

Capt. Paul (jpet)

Capt. Paul



Today’s Photos… (I had a glitch, but these are the ones that I could get to post.)

Off to Piraeus Greece – Day 0

Oh what a morning. Waking up in London, cool crisp air and a beautiful day, cloudy, but nice. Coffee, some fruit and packing. Making sure we can get what we need in the right places at the right time and and bags the right weight as well.

Pat (jpeg)

Our experience with the transportation from Gatwick Airport to the flat in London was not the best. An hour ride was over two hours and the driver was very disconnected.to airport (jpeg) We have the same service picking us up. Our fingers were crossed.

He came, he was great and the trip was an hour this time. We were also sweating the timing of our flight. It seems that at 9:01 p.m. Today the air traffic controllers, in Athens, are going on strike. Flights that get in after 9:01 are being canceled. We arrive in Athens at 8:20 p.m. So I think we are going to be just fine. We are in the air anyway. We may end up landing in Italy, who knows. But we’re on our way.
Our other option was to leave this morning and take two trains and a ferry. That takes about 24 hours. But the trip would have been beautiful. Through Germany, Switzerland, France and an overnight ferry ride. So there was no down side to our plan B.
So for now, we fly. Thoughts of everyone at home. Today is my daughter Nadines Birthday. She’s doing so well and we are so proud of her. Happy Birthday sweetheart. We’ll sing to you when we find a WiFi connection that works. Pat and Katie at home. We are wishing that they were here, but life happens and they had to cancel. We miss you. Also Judy that couldn’t make it with us too. We know that you’d be having a ball and laughing a lot as we are. Wish you were here.
In any case, I’ll finish this up when we get checked in later tonight or first thing in the morning. Now time for a quick nap…

People and bags (jpeg)

So after disembarking the plane and anticipating a long wait in customs, we ran across a little shack that said, “Passport Check.” We showed our passports to the guy, he scanned ’em and that was that. We were in Greece. That was that. A simple process with a friendly face.

Our driver was waiting for us. He was a big guy named Johnny. He grabbed our stuff and we walked with a slight run really to keep up with him. He loaded all of our stuff and we were off to the the Piraeus City Hotel. What a great ride. We know know a lot about what’s going on locally and a lot about his family. This is the guy you want to meet in a new place in the world. Thank you Johnny. We appreciate you a lot.

Piraeus is a great city. It’s like all the pictures of Greece. Duh!

on plane (jpeg)

So once checked in, we were hungry and it was a little before 11, the roof top restaurant here at the hotel was open. We took the elevator, that only fits two people, got a table and had our first Greek meal. Wonderful it was. Now off to bed.

Tomorrow is a laid back day. No tours booked and a new city to explore. This adventure is going just fine…

late dinner (jpeg)

Capt Paul (jpeg)

Capt. Paul



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Running Down the List in London – Day 2

covent gardens (jpeg)
The Tube. Check. Covent Garden. Check. Davenport’s Magic Shop. Check. Getting Lost. Check.

So it looks like we knocked off a couple of things on our list today. What fun. In all reality though, I think the Brits are just putting up with us and helping us along the way.pete, iva, pat, tube (jpeg)We end up in the right places somehow and meet the right people and do the right things at the right times. So, I’m thinking we are pretty blessed. We do seem to be wondering around in a haze, but we seem to end up where we stared to go. How it happens? Well I’m not sure, but I live in gratefulness.

This morning we had coffee and got ourselves going to walk to Covent Garden. Well we have an Underground station just up the street so in we went. Asked where we should go to get to point A. Well just three legs with one transfer and we ended up there. How cool is that.

Covent Gardens was all that I expected it to be. Art, performers, food, drink, and an Apple Store and a visual treat. Once there, we foraged for food. We found a nice French place that treated us with some tasty treats and then off to explore.

street performer (jpeg)

Pat and Iva went to check out the shops. Pete and I went on an adventure to find Davenport’s Magic Shop. Pete and I found some great alleys to walk and streets to enjoy, but no Davenports. I had the address and a map, but it was nowhere to be found. We asked directions. Nope, no one knew anything. It just didn’t exist.

Then we found a book store and a wonderful lady. Yep, she took the time to look it up on the computer and after finding it, and looking at the map, she said it has to be underground. So she gave us directions, we headed down the street, we found an underground enterance. We went down three flights of stairs and there is was. Jackpot.

After spending time with the Danial’s (Yep, there were two Danials there, and showing each other a trick or two, we were out of there, we worked our way back to daylight and headed back to Covent Garden to meet up with the ladies.alley (jpeg)

We all headed back to the Tube to head to our neighborhood. Working our way back was a bit easier. It seems that on both trips on the Tube, our fares were free. One person let us in on one end and told us to pay at our destination. So on the end of the trips, we went to pay but the person on the end didn’t want to deal with us muchdavenports (jpeg) and just let us out on the street. What an experience it all was.

Once at the flat, we dropped things off and walked back out to find some dinner. We found a place for some nice chicken and headed back home. For the evening.

Tomorrow is a travel day. You know what that means, it’s Day 0 again. Off to Athens Greece. A 3.5 hour flight.

Peace and Love from London…

Capt. Paul (jpeg)

Capt. Paul



chicken (jpeg)the ring (jpeg)

Roaming London – Day 1

Oh yes. It was amazing. I loved every minute of it. It was a great nights sleep… Sure, I slept a bit on the plane, but in and out as we all do. But today I was up and ready to go. London. Wow, I can’t believe I’m here, but I am, so time to explore.

eggs (jpeg

First to forage for food. Well just around the corner was MA. Free range eggs, organic ingredients and a menu that changes daily. Sounded good to us. Now I don’t remember what the name of this dish was, but it had a small potato ball, mushrooms, fresh braised tomatoes, two medium eggs and baked beans topped off with a couple of veggie sausages. It was terrific. If I didn’t want to explore, I’d have it again tomorrow, but there’s another place that has a sign that says, “Brillient Breakfast.” It’s only open for breakfast and lunch, so I think I’m there in the morning.

We asked our waitress, “Which stop do we take, once we get on the tube (subway), to go to downtown to see all the cool sites?” She laughed and said, “You are in downtown. If you get on the tube, you will spend four pounds to the next stop that’s about a 10 minute walk.” (Lesson one, get a map before you ask really stupid questions unless you just want to entertain the locals.) But, as you know, I’m in the entertainment business, so what the hell, we started walking.

We're walking the streets. (jpeg)Street perfomer. (jpeg)The Eye. (jpeg)The energy here is amazing. Everything is majestic, historical and amazingly enough, pretty common place for the locals. I never thought about that part of it. People take the miricals of history, that I’ve only dreamed about seeing as just daily life. What an eye opener. I have to think on that for a while, but a very interesting discovery for me. Actually kind of life changing in a way. We passed the Eye, and train stations, streets, shops, the The River Thames, bridges, pubs and then we found the the London Duck Tours. Now we’re talking. A tour of London by an anphibious Duck boat.

Big Ben.  (jpeg)

So we jumped on and away we went. The palace, Big Ben, museums, gallery’s, a wonderful guide that knew everything about everything and presented it in a whacked out manor with that in the face British humor. After the land tour we pulled up to the River Thames, cruised down a ramp and splashed into the river. Off we go. Throwing us more facts and entertainment up river about a mile and then back to the ramp. It was a great tour and gave us a thumbnail view of what downtown is all about. Score!

Once off the boat/bus, we started the hike back to the flat stopping at a pub with the most incredible fish and chips with smashed peas I’ve ever had. What a great dinner. I’m not drinking alcohol at the moment, but Pat wanted to sample a local beer. She chose a lager. The bartender brought out three for her to taste. She chose one. He brought it to the table and I took a sip to make sure it was okay. Wow! Bummer of a time to be on the wagan. It was GREAT!

The Wellington. (jpeg)

So a couple of doors down, was a store. Kind of like a 7-11 in the states, but more of a convince store. It had fruit, meats and general stuff for eating and drinking, but a lot of organic foods too. It seems to be the norm around here. How cool is that. The stores have real food and the restaurants serve real food too. People walk. Roads, with two lanes for bikes. People take public transportation and live very healthy lifestyles.

How cool is all of this. At first glance, London is a pretty fantastic place to me. I like it, a lot. But, it’s cool weather. I’d have to buy more long pants in shades of dark green, grays and blacks. I kind of stand out with my white cotten beach pants, a tee-shirt, boat shoes and a Schooner Warf Bar blue denim shirt. I think they know I’m a tourist. Of course I feel that way too when I visit Minnesota. I guess it’s just me.

Hurricane Matthew. (jpet)

Also, during this trip, I’m thinking about all the people, places, animals, property and lives that Hurricane Matthew is affecting. My heart, thoughts, love and wishes go out to everyone in his path. Be safe. Be blessed. Lot’s of work to do after this one. Dang!
So home we came, settled in for the night, checked email, blogged, told stories, ice Pete’s neck and now hitting the sack. Tomorrow is another day. Covent Gardens tomorrow and Davenport’s Magic Shop. Treasures to be found in people and places…

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Capt. Paul (jpeg)

Capt. Paul West



Off and Running… Day 0

Well the day has come. Time to load Fredie’s car and have him run us from Fort Myers Beach to Orlando to catch a flight to London, England for the start of our adventure/journey. This is a milestone trip for Pat and I. Pat turned 65. I turn 65 in November. We’ve been married for 25 years and together for 29. We’ve planned this for 2 years and there’s no turning back. Here we go.Storm to Orlando (jpeg)

It’s my first time in Europe and Pat’s 2nd (She went when she was 19). So a lot of new stuff, places, people and adventures. I’m pretty excited. Yep, I’m half English and half Cowboy according to my Dad. My Mom was full blooded English and my Dad said his heritage was pretty much anything I could think of so I guess Cowboy was the best way he could put it. I’d take one of those DNA tests, but maybe I’ll just call myself a Cowboy.

As we headed north to Orlando, we ran into a pretty impressive storm. It made me think of what is going to happen to Florida and the east coast as Hurricane Mathew works his way north through the Bahamas tonight. My thoughts are with friends in the islands, boats and wildlife. As Jimmy Buffett says, “There ain’t no reason to hurricane season.” Be safe everyone and pay attention. Please.

Pat ready to fly. (jpeg)

So after we got to the airport, we headed to the counter and got the tickets and they accepted our 40 pound bags for shipment to London. We headed to the gate to meet up with Pete and Iva our good friends from Illinois. In fact, our trip started out with Pat & Katie from MN, as well as Judy from AZ coming along also, but because of conditions of life, that happens, they had to cancel. So the phrase for this trip is, “And now there were four.” One suggestion from Bro. Dan was, “**** Pat,” but it was overridden, except now Pat has the title anyway.

Well the flight was good. Up the east coast, about 100 to 200 miles off the coast until about New York then we began to head northeast then east to London. It was an 8 hour flight from Orlando and only about 45 minutes of turbulence a couple of times through the night. We left Orlando at 10:30 p.m. and arrived in London at about 11:30 a.m. London time.

Pat, Iva & Pete (jpeg)

After customs, we went to be picked up by our driver to take us to the flat we rented, but he’d left. So we called the company and they sent him back to us. Our 45 minute drive was over to hours because the driver took us through a ton of neighborhoods. He didn’t know how to get to where we needed to go. After two gps’s and a phone call or two to dispatch, WE found the pace for him and all was fine.

A great place, a good dinner and an amazing nights sleep… We were here! Now to explore and meet the locals and experience the sites and the culture.


Trip map. (jpeg)
Capt. Paul West