The Cruise that Wasn’t

Celebrity Eclipse (internet photo)

Shortly before Covid-19 hit and brought the world to a standstill, My sister and I booked a Pacific Coastal cruise on Celebrity Eclipse which was to set sail on May 3rd. This one-week cruise would have sailed round trip from Vancouver BC (Canada) with an overnight in San Francisco and stops in Seattle and Victoria. We’ve been to all those places before, but this was just to be a little vacation and a fun get-away for us.

Amtrak train at Pacific Central Station in Vancouver BC

Our plans were to take a train up to Vancouver the day before and get a hotel for the night near the dock or at least near a sky train station on the route that goes to Waterfront Station, which is next to Canada Place where cruise ships dock. There is a hotel right at Canada Place. That one isn’t really in our budget, but several nearby were.

bridge and boat in Zhujiajao, China (an ancient city turned into a tourist attraction)

We had talked a bit about options of things to do at the various ports, but hadn’t made any concrete plans when the first news hit about coronavirus, before they named it Covid-19. Initially of course it just seemed to be a problem in China, but then when a cruise ship hit the news when the attempt at quarantining it in Japan turned it into basically a plague ship, followed by news of coronavirus on other ships, it led to people frantically canceling their cruises or wondering whether or not they would still sail.

cruise terminal and park all in one

Westerdam in Yokohama – the port where the Diamond Princess was quarantined

Meanwhile the cost of cruises dropped and we were upgraded from balcony to concierge class, which comes with a more choice room location as well as things like priority boarding and concierge service onboard. Most of the world was still functioning normally at the time and we were looking forward to this more premium than we are accustomed to designation and sailing on a ship that was likely to have far less passengers than usual.

Seattle Skyline

Seattle waterfront

Soon the big news was a nursing home in Kirkland where the virus ran rampant. At the time my husband’s mother was in a nursing home in Everett, which is not that far from Kirkland (or Seattle). Luckily he and his sister were able to get her out before other area nursing homes became an issue, though she had needed medical attention for an unknown flu-like illness that ran through her nursing home shortly before coronavirus became a thing. Was it Covid 19? That was prior to when any testing for it began in the USA and before the Kirkland nursing home hit the news so we will never know. She did say some other residents of her nursing home vanished mysteriously at that time, never to be seen or heard from again. Now that researchers have discovered many people have mild cases or no symptoms at all she’s definitely not the only one wondering if they’ve already had it. Anyone who thought they had a cold or the flu earlier this year may wonder now if that was really Covid 19, and even people who never had anything might speculate if they were one of those asymptomatic carriers.

Canada Place in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada

As things got worse and the virus hit more states and countries all cruising in the USA initially shut down for a month. It looked at the time like ours might still sail as it was nearly two months distant. Then the virus spread farther around the USA, hitting Canada as well. Borders closing between countries followed and Canada closed all their ports. At that time Celebrity was in wait and see mode, probably hoping the situation would improve, as of course was the rest of the world. We figured as long as they stayed in wait and see mode we would be in wait and see what they do mode.

Victoria Parliament Building

Parliament Building in Victoria – one of the port stops on the cruise we couldn’t take. Victoria is on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. The city of Vancouver is on the mainland.

Things got worse and we were pretty sure our cruise would never sail since no port wanted to let any ships still at sea in and the border to Mexico closed as well as the one to Canada. For a time there was no news from Celebrity. If we canceled the cruise ourselves then we would get a full refund. If we waited for Celebrity to cancel it we would have other options, so we waited to see what they offered. The options they gave us were either a full refund or 125% of what we spent on that cruise applied to a future cruise taken any time up to December 2021, so when things settle down and the world gets back to normal we can make new plans. Unfortunately we did not book any shore excursions, as we would have been given 125% of the cost in future onboard credits if we had (or a refund if that were the option we chose.)

Meanwhile our biggest concern personally is for our father, who hits nearly all the marks for people who are most likely to die if they get sick – and for my sister trying to insure that he doesn’t catch it, (or our mother either). I live too far away to help by doing anything other than staying away so as not to expose them to anything I may have come in contact with. Broader concerns of course extend to the entire world since this is a global problem.

Cruising into or out of San Francisco means passing under the Golden Gate bridge  where it always looks like there is no way the ship can possibly fit under – but it does

Hopefully cures and vaccinations come soon and life can return to normal, but that’s likely wishful thinking. Living in Washington, which was the first and one of the harder hit states in the USA, life has pretty much ground to a halt. Just about everything not deemed essential closed here before the rest of the country and will remain so for some time yet to come. Because of that new cases are under better control here than on the other side of the continent at the new epicenter in New York where their totals far surpassed that of Washington State and the rest of the country bringing the USA into the current epicenter of the world. Some countries definitely handled the impending pandemic better than others early on while they still had the chance to keep it from getting so far out of control.

out for a walk

Piper on a trail at a now-closed park where the crowds consist of deer and ducks, not people.

Even the parks here are all closed – everything no matter how remote. Which was done to keep urban people from congregating in city parks and popular recreation areas. In the rural area where I live the parks are acres of trails where you’re more likely to see a deer, bird, or squirrel than a person, and can easily avoid them if you do happen across anyone, but they are closed anyway which actually puts more people out to walk their dogs into less area. It ends up having the opposite effect in putting people closer together rather than spreading them farther apart.

smoggy view from the Shanghai Tower in China – and this was on one of their clearer days

The only bright spot in all this is with so many people staying home and so many things shut down the air around our planet has become cleaner. People in places like some areas of India and China can see what the world really looks like when not viewed through thick brown smog. Even where I live the view of hills and mountains has slowly faded away in a haze over the years from beautiful vibrant bold bright colors that appear nearby to unimpressive, pale, and distant looking. They are currently bolder and brighter than they’ve looked in years.

sunset over the Strait of Juan de Fuca

After all this if enough people worldwide decide to work from home more often than they did in the past both air and traffic conditions would benefit. And if after that glimpse of color and chance to breathe fresh air all the countries of the world would turn to green energy sooner rather than later then something good could come out of all the bad.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2020
Posted in Celebrity, Randoms, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Seattle Underground Tour

Royal Princess in Seattle taken from Miner’s Landing (pier 57)

Royal Princess docked in the center of the waterfront activity at Seattle’s Pier 66. This pier is so much nicer for a port stop than being stuck out at pier 91 where ships often board for cruises usually heading out to Alaska. Being out in the boontoolies is fine for boarding day, not so much for a day in port. With a scheduled port time arrival of 11am, a line to get off the ship builds quite fast. To speed up disembarkation the crew split the line just ahead of us and our section was funneled out what would later become the crew entrance leading directly to the dock rather than the passenger entrance through the port building. Which meant no professional port photos at that stop for anyone in that part of the line who may have wanted them, and nothing looked familiar on the way back in.

free waterfront shuttle

We had plans to take the Seattle Underground Tour. We made reservations in advance directly through their website for about a third of the price of booking through the ship. Of course the ship’s tour includes transportation, but besides the free waterfront shuttle being available if anyone wanted a ride to Pioneer Square, it’s not that far so we just walked.

old building in Pioneer Square

We knew to walk south from the pier and inland a bit, but were not quite sure where to turn inland from the waterfront. The sign saying Pioneer Square with an arrow pointing up a road made it pretty obvious, as did the Pioneer Square flags on lamp posts along the street leading directly to where we needed to go so we didn’t need to use google maps or anything to find it. It was just a couple blocks or so from the waterfront to a more or less triangular plaza where Doc Maynard’s Pub is located, and the entrance to the underground tour right next door.

remnants of a bank in Seattle’s underground

The tour starts with everyone sitting in a room listening to a bit of Seattle history. More historic stories were told throughout the tour at various stops along the way. Early settlers built in the tide flats so the original natural waterfront was at Pioneer Square, even though it’s now inland a couple blocks. Entire horse-drawn carts could disappear into the potholes in the early roads, which were then filled in with sawdust, a plentiful by-product of the town lumbermill.

abandoned toilet in the underground

When your town is in a tide flat sewage is a major issue. You can’t dig a pit for a pit toilet and anything that goes out with the tide comes back in when the water returns. So they were ecstatic at the invention of the crapper, though it took the shipload with their order for 10,000 of them 10 years to arrive. Residences on the hills above did just fine with their new installations, and of course the plumbing (in wooden pipes) all ran downhill emptying into the sea. Down in the tide flats toilets flushed just fine at low tide. Not so much when the water came in. People built higher and higher toilet platforms trying to elevate their crapper higher than the neighbor’s because whoever had the lowest one got a geyser of sewage coming out when the tides came in and backed up the system.

remains of an old wooden pipe

All the buildings of the town were made of wood. With metal nails being expensive and hard to come by boards were often stuck together using glue. Which sounds fine except their glue did not come out of handy plastic bottles labeled glue. It came from highly flammable compressed animal parts heated to boiling over a fire. When a newbie to town didn’t watch his glue pot it boiled over.

even the street signs were made of wood

Circumstances ranging from him exacerbating the fire by trying to put it out with water on the glue to the fire department using new and untested waterlines that didn’t have enough pressure trying to put the fire out after it spread into the building and ending up with no water, to wind blowing the ever increasingly raging fire onward through the row of wooden buildings that made up the town led to burning down a significant portion of the business district. It didn’t help that at the time even the water pipes were made from wood.

drawing in the underground showing the streets high above sidewalk level

For rebuilding the town leaders required use of brick and stone. They wanted to raise the streets so they could run the plumbing underneath ending the toilet backup geyser issue, which sounds fine, but would take about 10 years and nobody wanted to wait that long to rebuild their business. They needed to rebuild right away so all the buildings had to be at least 2 stories high in order to have at least one level above the height of the new road after it got built. Once the roads were raised the sidewalks and business entries were a story below the roads so people had to go up and down ladders whenever they crossed the street. Not an easy task for a woman in old fashioned long dresses with hoopskirts, and even harder for the men who got drunk and ended their drinking problems with Seattle’s one-step program. This involved climbing up the ladder to street level and taking one step in the wrong direction. These deaths were given the classification of involuntary suicide.

some of the walkways through the underground tour are flat, level, and easy walking

others not so much

Business owners finally convinced the town to add sidewalks adjoining the buildings to the streets so the second story became street level and the first story the underground. Sidewalks included sections of little glass squares to provide light to the lower level.

from above the little glass squares just look like fancy sidewalk decor

from below they still provide some light in spite of aging to a purple color

At the time the glass was clear, but over the years it became purple. The lower level was a lively business district for awhile until rats moved in and a bubonic plague epidemic broke out. The underground was sealed off and mostly forgotten except during prohibition where it became a handy place for moonshiners.

view of an old sidewalk on the underground tour

Over time the sections used in the tour vary as some areas get renovated and used for new businesses, and others filled in to support the buildings above which otherwise could sink into settling ground or fall in an earthquake. The floor in some areas of the underground has dropped and settled so unevenly that those spots would be prohibitively expensive to renovate and will probably remain on the tour, which has built a wooden walkway over some of the uneven areas.

relics in the underground

There are glimpses into the past in the things left behind by former occupants, discarded to the underground forever in piles. Here and there signs from former building entrances remain. The skylights in the sidewalk provide some light in a few underground areas, through the aged purple glass. Electric lighting provides most of the illumination.

underground memorabilia in the gift shop

As is usual pretty much anywhere, the tour exits through a gift shop. This one is in a renovated area of the underground, which looks nothing like the unrenovated areas. The floors are even and the walls are clean. It does have some items from the underground on display, but they too are clean and nice looking. Again nothing like the dusty piles of discards we passed on the tour.

fancy toilet up close

It even has a toilet. Old fashioned, yes, but clean of course, and quite fancy. The store also has some regular touristy type underground tour themed merchandise. Being part of the underground, it does require going up a set of stairs to get to street level.

view from our table at Anthony’s on pier 66

I had a gift card to Anthony’s someone had given to me on a Christmas past, which I hadn’t used since there isn’t one near my house. Knowing there is one on the Seattle waterfront, I brought the card with me on the cruise. We had time on the way back to the ship to stop in. Anthony’s is conveniently located on pier 66. Extremely convenient for us since that was where our cruise ship docked. This waterfront restaurant normally has views of Elliot Bay and Mount Rainier. We were seated at a table by the window overlooking the pier – with a view of a portion of the Royal Princess. When there’s a giant ship docked in front of a restaurant on the pier, that’s all you see, the ship. And not even all of it since it was close enough that we just saw a portion of it through our dockside window. Guess we couldn’t really complain about that though since we came in on that ship – and we could get all the view the restaurant normally had and then some from the ship itself.

under the sidewalk skylights on the underground tour

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2020

More Blogs about Seattle

Seattle Tourist Attractions, Seattle Great Wheel, Ballard Locks, Fishermen’s Terminal

Posted in Port Cities, Ports of Call, Princess, Royal Princess, USA, Washington | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lucerne, Switzerland

old town Lucerne riverwalk

Lucerne, a postcard perfect city known for its medieval architecture, sits on Lake Lucerne surrounded by the snowcapped peaks of Switzerland’s Alps. It is the most populated town in central Switzerland and served by a network of public transportation including trains and busses. People have lived there since long before medieval times. Its colorful Altstadt (old town) is bordered on the north by 14th century ramparts and remnants of the old town walls with 8 watch towers.

there’s a series of paintings in the bridge rafters

The town’s most famous bridge, the covered Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) was originally built in 1333. Parts of it had to be rebuilt in 1993 after a fire suspected to be caused by a carelessly discarded cigarette. The Chapel bridge links the Aldstat to the Reuss River’s right bank. Another famous bridge is the Mill Bridge built in 1408 and painted with a macabre series of plague paintings known as the Dance of Death. A small chapel was added to the middle of the bridge in 1568. You could walk across this bridge and never even notice the paintings as they are up in the rafters. You have to look up to see them. The chapel bridge has paintings in the rafters too, just not plague paintings.

covered bridge in Lucerne

The twin needle towers of the Church of St Leodegar (named after the city’s patron saint) are all that remains of the original structure built on a small hill above the lake in 735. The present building was constructed in 1633 to 1639 on the foundation of the Roman basilica that burned in 1633.

covered bridge in Lucerne

After an uneventful train ride from Zurich, we arrived in Lucerne with a 2-night booking at Roesli Guest House, which the booking info said was near the train station. We had no directions of any sort so as we exited the train station we consulted Google maps. While Google maps usually works quite well, this was one of those places where in its sometimes frustrating fashion it kept changing the direction of the walk this way arrow depending on which way we went, always pointing us to go in a different direction no matter which way we tried. There’s only so many directions you can go and it said all of them were wrong. Not knowing the area at all we gave up and took a taxi. We tried uber first, but there were no cars active in the area at the time, and taxis at the train station were plentiful.

street in Lucerne

The taxi went a round about way, perhaps due to one way streets, or to their GPS, or maybe just to have a longer drive so he’d make more money. Anyway the distance he drove made it seem way too far to ever consider walking back to the train station from there. Everything online spelled the name of the guest house as Roesli, but the name painted on the building wall said Rosli. The door to the guest house had a sign saying to check in at a nearby hotel, and the lady at the desk there said it was a 10-minute walk along the pathway by the river to the train station. Just about everyone we came across in Switzerland spoke English, which was a good thing since we speak no German. The next day we found that 10 minutes was a long estimate as we walked to the train station in half that. Too bad Google maps had never pointed us toward the river the previous day.

Rosli Guest House – the tunnel next to the door leads to the river. The window over the guesthouse door is to a stairway and the next two by the flags and above a shop were our room.

We got settled into our room and then went out for a walk around the local area, which is in the old town section. I tried to book all our lodgings in a touristy area near the train station. Being in the old town area, this room was unsurprisingly in an old building. It had 2 bay windows with window seats and uninsulated windows with radiators under them for heat. The bathroom was average size with shower toilet, and sink. The tap on the sink moved around loosely when used so it needed a bit of work. It was a big room and they provided 2 sets of bath and hand towels, plus 2 washcloths and a bathmat, which is really good for Europe where many places give you a bath towel and nothing else. The beds had the same odd sort of all-in-one sleeping bag style quilt and sheet thing that most of the places we stayed in Europe had.

inside the guest house

From the windows you could see down to the narrow street below, a little ways up and down each way of the street, and the buildings on the other side. It was a fairly quiet street most of the time with very little traffic and not too many people walking by. The bakery across the road would take all the goodies out of their window each night and put new ones out the next morning.

our room in the guest house had a couch bed and a wall bunk like those found on older cruise ships

The room had a bed, couch, and chair. Also a desk, closet, and free wi-fi. It reminded me
of a cruise ship cabin in several ways. It had a cruise ship style clothesline that extended from the wall by the sink into the shower when pulled out of its container. The shower was also just like those found in cruise ships, except they generally have shampoo and sometimes conditioner where only soap was provided here. The bed consisted of 2 beds pushed together in cruise ship style so they can be split apart for those who want separate beds. The couch could also make into a bed, and had above it a bunk hanging sideways in a frame that could lower over it when a fourth bed is needed. Modern cruise ships have the bunks concealed in the ceiling, but there are still older ships out there with the wall style bunks. In spite of being an older place we liked our stay there. The room was spacious and the guest house conveniently located in the old town area by the river.

view of a dam from a bridge

All we had to do to get to the river was walk through a tunnel passing through the building we were staying in. The train station was less than a kilometer upstream, and there were buildings, shops, restaurants and bridges in both directions and on both sides of the river.

Taube restaurant

The area has lots of interesting old buildings and some narrow cobblestone streets as well as the bridges, river, shops, and restaurants. For dinner on our first night there we tried a nearby place called Taube, recommended for local Swiss food by the desk clerk at the hotel where we checked in. Prices on pretty much everything in Switzerland are sky high, but that place was lower than most others in the area. Which is not to say they were low, just not quite as high.

Swiss food tastes better than it looks

We had an appetizer of onion soup, which was nothing like French onion soup, but quite tasty. Dinner was pork with barley and potatoes with a bit of veggies mixed in. Nothing like anything we’ve had before, but quite tasty. Food is very expensive in Switzerland so while we were there we pretty much always just ordered one meal and shared it – and the price on that was about equal to ordering two meals in most places. Money in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc, which is pretty close to equal in value with US dollars.

covered bridge in Lucerne

There were several bridges crossing the river near where we stayed. Two of them were
covered, and the closest was the Mill bridge – the one with a series of plague paintings in the rafters and a tiny chapel partway across. We actually crossed that one a couple times the first night we were wandering around there without even noticing the paintings in the rafters in the dark.

trail outside the town wall

We walked up a little cobblestone road and found a gateway through the city walls where we could walk alongside them on a trail with views of the city outside the walls. One bit of the trail passed a small pasture with highland cattle and alpacas.

pasture by the wall

The trail went down a steep hill from there, turning at a round tower where the trail went a short distance along the lower wall before rejoining a nearby street.

tower at the end of the wall

From there we could see what looked like a funicular going up a steep hill to a castle. The internet says the Gütsch Bahn was a funicular railway running directly from Baselstrasse in Lucerne up to the Hotel Château Gütsch, (which looks like a castle). The funicular was built in 1881 to provide access to the hotel and opened in 1884 as a water ballast railway. In 1990 the Gütschbahn was converted to automatic operation and in 2015 the old funicular railway was replaced by two modern inclined lifts. The journey to Gütsch today takes just one and a half minutes. So apparently it was the inclined lifts we could see in the distance. Going up to the hotel is free for booked guests, and other people can buy a ticket.

it looks like a castle, but it’s really a hotel

While in Switzerland we tried Swiss chocolate, both in the sort you buy individually from a chocolate shop and the packaged kind. While definitely tasty, we didn’t find it to be any more spectacular than any other sort of fine chocolate, just more expensive. (Everything in Switzerland is expensive.)

Riverwalk at night

Things to do in Lucerne
Things to see or do in Lucerne include Lake Lucerne, Mt. Pilatus by cogwheel train (steepest in world) and gondola, old town, Museum of transport (which also has a Swiss chocolate adventure and a planetarium), and other museums and artworks, lion monument (stone carving) glacier garden, and musegg wall with 9 towers (disagrees with the other site that said 8.) 4 towers are open to the public.

archway through the wall

The internet says you can walk on the wall between towers, but we didn’t find anywhere to walk on much of it. After we went through an archway to the other side we walked next to it for awhile, and around one end where there was a little pathway below part of the wall and above a lower bit, but that soon turned into a road so if there is actual wall access to walk on top it for very far it was somewhere else.

view from the top of the lower wall

The clock on the oldest tower chimes 1 minute before all other city clocks. More things to see in Lucerne include Hofkirche (church of Leodegar) and other churches, chapel bridge (with water tower), mill bridge (Spreuerbrücke), Reuess River, and Nadelwher (needle dam). Death seems to be a theme in this town. Besides the plague paintings on the mill bridge, the stone lion is dying and so is a virgin Mary at the Hofkirche.  More attractions include Town hall and other medieval buildings, Mt Rigi cog railway, a Jesuit church, Hammetschwand Elevator – the highest external lift in Europe, Meggenhorn Castle, and Strandbad Tribschen beach – a beach with a view of the alps.

river dam

We went to Mt. Pilatus on our one full day in Lucerne. Other than that we just wandered around the old town area. If we’d had more time to see them there were a lot of other things there to see.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2020


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Scrubba Washbag Review

scrubba wash bag

The Scrubba wash bag is an Australian invention – a portable washing machine for people on the go. It’s easy to use. Just put your dirty clothes into the bag along with water and soap intended for handwashing clothes. Then close off the end and squeeze the air out and rub your clothes on the built-in washboard. Empty out the wash water, put in rinse water and rinse them, then hang to dry.

directions are on the back of the package

This invention would be especially useful when camping where there is no access to a sink or anything to wash clothes in, so long as you had a hose or river or something to fill the bag with. A bonus when using it while camping outdoors is that any water leakage doesn’t really matter when you’re outside.

the directions are also on the bag

On a cruise ship of course there is a sink where clothes can be washed in the bathroom without the need to pack something extra like the scrubba bag. It does however hold more clothes than the sink does, assuming you have somewhere to hang them, which is always what limits the amount you can wash at one time on a ship since hanging space is limited by the size of the bathroom’s shower or tub.

one side of the bag works as a washboard

It’s hard to fill the bag in the cruise ship bathroom sink, but easy to fill it from the shower since the showerhead is always on a movable hose and you can just stick the showerhead into the bag and fill. It’s a good idea to do the washing part on the shower floor so any leakage just goes down the drain.

easy to fill with a hose, or a showerhead on a hose

The scrubba bag is easy to use and works well, but personally I find just washing in the sink easier. As well needing to pack something extra, there’s also the need to find space to dry the bag in addition to the clothes. I’ve met people who packed things like collapsible buckets and a plunger to make their own washer, so for them this would be far easier to use. It would take less space in the suitcase since a bucket and plunger would take up quite a lot of space while the scrubba washbag just takes about as much as an article of clothing.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2020
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Split, Croatia

MSC Lirica in Split

Split is the second largest city in Croatia, with over 350,000 people living in its urban area. The city spreads over a peninsula and surrounding area on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. It’s the largest city in the area called Dalmatia, where the famous spotted dogs originated. Development of the area first began as a Greek colony in the second or third century BC.

there’s a model of the original Diocletian Palace in the city

Founding of the city is associated with a palace built in 305 AD when a Roman named Diocletian wanted a retirement residence built there. The city developed within and around the walls of that early palace, which was subject to raids and sackings over the centuries.

this narrow alley in Split is reminiscent of the alleys of Venice, except in Split they don’t lead to canals

Rule changed hands depending on the winners of various wars including 377 years under Venetian rule. Some of the streets through the old town area are narrow alleyways between tall buildings resembling the alleys winding through Venice. Croatia was part of Yugoslavia after WWII, gaining independence in 1991.

art made from garbage found in the sea on a wall at the port

Smaller cruise ships dock near the ferry terminal a short distance from town, larger ships anchor in the bay and tender to a dock even closer to the old town area. It’s less than a 15 minute walk from the cruise port to the old historic castle, which is pretty much unrecognizable as a castle since the town is built throughout the castle grounds and destruction and rebuilding occurred in ancient wars. There are some visible ruins and castle walls, and places where walls of the old castle are part of more recent buildings. An area of shops lies within an intact portion of the old castle.

it’s a short walk to town along the waterfront

The language of the area is Croatian, but many of the people also speak English. Their currency is called Kuna. It takes over 6 kuna to equal one US dollar. Price tags make things look expensive since they are in kuna, but when translated into dollars the prices there were actually quite reasonable. Shops generally open at 8 on weekdays and 9 on Saturdays. Many are closed on Sunday. The old town area is easily reached by foot, being about 500 meters from the cruise dock.

seaside promenade outside the old walls

There’s a tourist office with free maps just outside the city walls near the historic center. It’s quite a unique place since the old town grew within the walls that once encircled Diocletian’s palace. Some of the original palace buildings that still exist have been converted to other uses while additional buildings and cobblestone streets built within the walls make it look more like a medieval city than a former palace. Outside the old castle walls the Riva Promenade is a nice place to walk with views of the port area.

walking past a sailboat on the way into town from the port

The MSC Lirica docked in Split, Croatia late on a Friday morning. It was quite windy next to the ship, as is often the case. Large cruise ships seem to make their own wind tunnels, especially when docked near each other or at ports with large structures as this one had. You can see the town across the bay from the ship, and to get there you walk along the water past the ferry docks and then other ships docked along the seawall.

local tours at the port were expensive in Split

Once we walked beyond the ship the wind lessened dramatically. In town it was just a breeze. The ship offered a few tours for that port, cheap compared to usual cruise ship excursions. Once we cleared the port gate there were numerous locals offering taxi or van tours ranging from 1-4 hours. Had their prices been in the local kuna they wouldn’t have been bad, but since they were in euros they were actually higher than the cruise ship excursions, which is opposite what local tours at the port usually are.

Fortress of Klis (internet photo)

One of the stop options on the taxi tours locals offered was the Fortress of Klis around 13 km away, which was used as the city of Meereen in the filming of Game of Thrones.

the old walls in Split range from ruins to intact or restored to parts of buildings

Some scenes in Game of Thrones were filmed right in old town Split in the basement area of the Dioecletian’s palace where it is still intact. This area was used for Daenerys’ throne room as well as where the dragons were kept. Another scene filmed in Split was at Papalićeva Street, which was one of the Streets from the slave rebellion scene. We found a shop where all the merchandise in the entire store was GoT oriented.

street in Split

We opted to just walk into town as the old town area is just past a bunch of ferries on the other side of the little bay area where the ship docked. For the most part it’s hard to tell there was once a palace there. Some of the streets are cobblestone and some of the sidewalks some sort of whiteish stone or brick. Some are quite narrow. Others are not quite that slim, yet narrow enough to give the feeling of walking through a medieval town or something out of Harry Potter as the lanes are surrounded in ancient buildings.

the tallest tower in old town Split

Split is a UNESCO world heritage site with 1700 years of history. As mentioned earlier, Split is Croatia’s second biggest city. Only Dubrovnik is larger. Split is located in the center of the country on the Adriatic coast. Its most famous monument is the 4th century Diocletian’s Palace, so basically the entire old town area.

ruins in Split

If you don’t have a specific agenda it really doesn’t matter where you go in the old town area because there are ancient structures everywhere. Some are in ruins, some current buildings use portions of the ruins as part of their walls, and some buildings are fully intact and though old, were not part of the original palace. A sort of tunnel filled with shops through an ancient and still intact basement of the palace leads from the seaside to a stairway up to an open area with an old church and some tall columns and other ruins, and is the basement mentioned earlier where the GoT scenes were filmed.

tower and statue of Bishop Gregory of Nin

Just outside the walls we came across other interesting things like a fountain, tower, and statue all in the same area near an entrance through the wall.

all the restaurants along the promenade have outdoor seating

The seaside walkway outside the old castle walls in the Riva Promenade area follows a wide open space next to the edge of town with palm trees and lots of little restaurants along a long row of outside tables. There’s a good view of the cruise ship from there.

little train ride

We came upon a little train ride that seemed out of place among all the historic buildings.

in case you are wondering where you are…

You can easily walk to all the main historical attractions in old town on your own, but if you want more information about the things you see there guided tours are available including a Game of Thrones walking tour. Segway tours are also an option. Split has lots of galleries and museums. Split also has lots of beaches. Bacvice is the most popular local beach, the only sandy beach around, and it’s the closest beach to the old town area. Expect crowds in warm weather. This beach also has water sports and stylish cafés. Snorkeling and diving are popular things to do in warm weather on islands near to Split. Excursions offered by MSC in Split included a city tour, walking tour through old town, bus tours to other historical cities, a walking tour through a national park that is a 1.5 hour bus ride away, and a mill tour.

view of Split

The view from the ship is pretty awesome with all of the town in front of a range of tall, desolute and barren looking mountains. It’s an interesting place to visit.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2020
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Busan, South Korea Cruise Port

Busan, South Korea

Westerdam in Busan, South Korea

Formerly spelled Pusan, but now changed to Busan although since apparently the Korean pronunciation actually is Pusan the spelling change really makes no sense, this city is South Korea’s second most populous city after Seoul. It is the 5th busiest seaport in the world and one of only 2 cities in South Korea not to be captured by North Korea during the Korean war. Being the closest Korean city to Japan, it has been a trade port for centuries. The climate is humid subtropical with average highs from the 40’s to 80’s °F and average lows from the 30’s to 70’s °F. August and September are generally rainy with a possibility of typhoons. October and November generally have nice weather. Busan has the least snow of anywhere in Korea falling only an average of 5 days per year.

Busan Tower

entrance to Busan Tower

The port is mainly commercial, but provides free shuttles for cruise ship passengers into the city. When we came to Busan on the Holland America Westerdam, the port’s shuttle took us to Yongdusan Park, whose main attraction is Busan Tower. Free wifi is available at the port and in most coffee shops around town.

Busan, South Korea

money exchange bus at the port in Busan

Currency is the South Korean won. There was a mobile bank booth right at the port that would exchange American money for Korean, and vice versa so passengers could change any leftover Korean money back to American before returning to the ship. We brought some Korean money from home, but didn’t use it all so we changed our leftover Korean money to American since we had no other ports in Korea. They gave the official exchange rate of the day and did not charge us a fee for their service.

Busan South Korea campground

campground next to the cruise dock

From the ship we could see a little campground right next to the cruise terminal. Within a little fenced in area it had buildings that are probably restrooms, a loop road through the camping area, greenspace with a few swings in the center, and large square gravel campsites around the outer edge each marked with a number. Most of the people there had tents, but there was one with a trailer when we came. John saw another trailer pull in, but instead of maneuvering it around to park it while hitched up the guy had some sort of motorized jack. He unhitched the trailer and used a phone app to make the trailer park itself. John was pretty impressed by that and I was sorry I missed it because it would have been interesting to see and not something you see every day. We didn’t even know such a thing existed.

stage next to the cruise dock in Busan

Korean dancer

When it neared time for the ship to leave some Korean dancers gave a performance from the port on a little stage facing the ship.

cruise dock in Busan

Busan cruise ship dock

Tourist attractions in Busan include parks, museums, temples, a lighthouse, and lots of shopping including major brand stores, local markets, and the largest retail store in the world. Boat tours around nearby islands are popular with tourists. There is a maritime museum near the port with a hop on hop off bus stop nearby for one of the two available routes though some people said Busan’s Ho-Ho bus service is not always reliable. China town is also within walking distance of the ship. Busan does have a subway system for those who want to plan their own tours. For those who travel by taxi, tipping is not customary in Asia.

Korean war memorial in Busan, South Korea

Korean war memorial on a hill above Busan

There’s a war memorial up on a hill that you can see in the distance from the ship, or up close if you go there. The monument is located within the UN memorial cemetery, which is the only UN memorial cemetery in the world. It has the remains of people from 11 different countries who lost their lives in the Korean War.

Busan cruise port

cruise ship dock in Busan

Excursions offered from Holland America Westerdam mainly went to various temples. Some included things like a tea ceremony or beach stop. The highlights tour included a fish market, a skywalk trail over the ocean, an island visit, and a stop at Gujke Market.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2020
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Glow Worm Tunnel

glow worm tunnel

signs at the trailhead

Visiting Australia’s Glow Worm Tunnel in the Blue Mountains is a trip for the more adventurous sort of travelers. There’s no public transportation anywhere nearby so you need a car to get there. Preferably a 4×4 since whichever of the two approaches you choose involves a long trek down sometimes rough dirt roads.

jurassic tree

prehistoric looking fern tree

The dirt road in from Lithgow is about 30K each way with parking available a couple kilometers or so from the tunnel. The Newnes approach requires a much longer hike, but the dirt road is considerably shorter. Annual Glow Worm Tunnel marathons start from the Newnes end and require all runners to wear a headlamp or carry a flashlight as well as walking rather than running through the tunnel.

trail to Glow Worm Tunnel

looking back toward the parking lot at the start of the trail

We came down the long and often rutted road from Lithgow in my daughter’s van. There was one place fairly near the end of the road with a steep enough drop she actually stopped and got out to inspect the road questioning whether or not we’d be able to get back up if we went down it. We did. Not far after that we finally reached the parking lot. Ours was the only vehicle there that was not a 4×4. There is a rustic restroom with composting toilets by the parking lot.

medal from glow worm tunnel marathon

runner numbers and medals from the glow worm marathon are covered in little green dots because that is what the glow worms actually look like

Glow Worm Tunnel is an old railroad tunnel used by a former shale oil mining operation which ran from around 1906 until the 1930’s and was dismantled in the 1940’s when they moved some of the equipment to another site. Tracks were removed both from the tunnel itself and from the trails in and out of it.

glow worm tunnel

walking on the dry ledge through the glow worm tunnel

The 400-meter tunnel has a couple bends leaving the middle pitch black. A creek runs through most of the floor. Part of it has a ledge on one side to walk above the water level.

glow worms

internet photo of glow worms

When far enough into the tunnel to be in full darkness stop and turn off all your lights to see the glow worms. They appear as pinpricks of green light along the wall or sometimes ceiling of the tunnel. If your light has a red setting you can see them with it turned to red, but they don’t show up in white light. There were no sections of the tunnel that had glow worms as plentiful as in the photo above and my attempts at getting photos resulted in nothing but blackness. The ones we saw looked green like the dots on the glow worm tunnel medal rather than blueish like the ones in the photo above.

old railway pipe

parts of the trail still have remnants of the railway like this old pipe

The glow worms found in the tunnel are the larvae of the fungus gnat. Their glow comes from a chemical reaction within the body of the glow worm. They use the glow to lure in prey like mosquitos.

don't disturb the glow worms

sign near the opening into the tunnel

Signs warn visitors to pass through the tunnel without touching the walls or making too much noise so as not to disturb or destroy the glow worms. Bogan is an Australian term for lowlife people. Just within the time we were there we saw two different groups of people with no respect for nature who definitely fit that description as they apparently didn’t care to preserve the glow worms for anyone else to see. Both groups talked and shouted loudly enough to be heard for the entire length of the tunnel. One group clustered around glow worms on the wall, taking close-up phone pictures and getting their hands all over everything while loudly wondering if they would be able to hold a glow worm.

bridge on trail

bridge on the trail to the glow worm tunnel

The other group thought they could run through the tunnel without lights, perhaps thinking the worms were big and bright enough to light up the tunnel like neon lights. They’re not. You need a light to get far enough into the dark part of the tunnel, then darkness to actually see their glow. Just a small light to find your way, nothing too bright since the glow worms are sensitive to light. Not having lights that group didn’t get in far enough to see any glow worms before turning around and coming out loudly complaining that there weren’t any glow worms there, while smoking in the tunnel. Smoke is harmful to the glow worms, who are quite sensitive to environmental disturbances.

glow worm tunnel

looking for dry ground in the glow worm tunnel

All of the ground in the tunnel is damp and uneven whether in the wet part or not. At least it was during our visit. We were there after a recent rain, but not enough rain to have any water in the big dry wash below the trail near the parking lot.

trail stairs

stairway on the trail to the glow worm tunnel

If you like the wonders of nature, hiking on trails, and don’t mind rough roads this tunnel is pretty interesting to see, but if you are looking for spectacular sights, great photos, or easy tourist spots don’t bother because it takes a lot to get there and the glow worms are just little pinpricks of light that don’t show up at all in the average photo. Some areas of the tunnel had lots of them and other areas just a few or none. There would probably be more if visitors to the area had a bit more respect for the things they come to see as well as for others who might come to see them later on. Especially considering that all of the areas that had very many glow worms were up too high for anyone to reach.

trail to glow worm tunnel

hiking to glow worm tunnel

Sadly rocks near the tunnel entrance had graffiti on them and some areas of the trail as well as the road in had garbage strewn about. People seem to manage to carry things just fine when they are full and heavier, but when empty and lighter they want to get rid of them immediately whether it is appropriate or not, thus ruining otherwise pristine areas not just for other visitors, but also for the animals who live there. And often leaving plastic to work its way into the ocean where it wreaks all kinds of havoc.

tunnel entrance

entrance to the glow worm tunnel

The Glow Worm Tunnel is located on the Newnes Plateau between Newnes and Lithgow. Lithgow is a town in Australia’s Blue Mountains while Newnes existed for the refinery. Not much is left of the town at Newnes. Many of the buildings were torn down and used elsewhere after World War II when building materials were in short supply. People can visit ruins of the refinery in Wollemi National Park.

glow worm tunnel

Hannah at the tunnel entrance

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2020



Posted in Australia, Explorer of the Seas, Port City Side Trips, Royal Caribbean | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Royal Princess Balcony Cabin

Royal Princess in Vancouver

Royal Princess has a variety of cabins that have balconies, one of which is the standard balcony cabin. It also has deluxe balcony cabins and a several different types of suites with balconies. What the ship does not have is oceanview cabins. It’s missing that entire category. On the Royal Princess if you’re not in an interior cabin you have a balcony. Of course balcony cabins have an ocean view, but the oceanview category is for cabins with just a window, not a balcony.

not the biggest cruise ship cabin, but it worked

While we likely would have booked oceanview to save money had it been available, since it wasn’t we went with the standard balcony cabin as that was the least expensive other than inside cabins. While higher priced than an oceanview cabin would have been if the ship had any, at least the standard balcony cabins on the Royal Princess were priced lower than balcony cabins on other Princess ships sailing a similar itinerary. Inside staterooms tend to be the smallest cabins, and with 3 in the room we wanted a bit more space. Which is exactly what we got. The standard balcony cabins have a desk and a chair, but to get larger room with a small sofa on this ship you have to book the deluxe balcony cabin so we didn’t have a whole lot more room than an inside cabin.

door entry on medallion class ships

Being a medallion class ship, entry into the cabins was done through the medallions that passengers had instead of key cards. The door was supposed to sense your medallion and unlock on approach, but we had to touch our medallions to the display by the doorway to get ours to unlock. Another passenger I talked to said his wife’s medallion would unlock their door from several feet away, but he had to touch his to the sensor like we did. So apparently some of them worked better than others in that respect.

the bunk took up a good chunk of space when it was down

Our cabin had the standard two beds that can either be set apart as twins or together as a queen depending on who is in the room and what sort of bed configuration they want. We had 3 sisters in the room so in addition to the twin beds we also used one of the cabin’s drop-down bunks that fold up into the ceiling. Since the room wasn’t all that large and other than one chair we had nowhere to sit but the two lower beds we asked the steward to put the bunk up in the daytime and have it down just at night except on long port days when we’d be out all day. This made a bit more space in the room as it seems more open without the bed blocking so much of it, and left both lower beds open as a place to sit, which we rather needed since the room had just the one chair.

balcony view

The balcony had two chairs, but for the majority of the trip one actually would have been enough out there. There was one nice day when we all 3 sat out on the balcony awhile, for which we borrowed the one chair from the room.

boarding day before we cluttered up the cabin with all our stuff

In the mornings we each had our own routine of what we thought was important for our way to start the day. I tend to wake up earlier than my sisters, and on days where we did not have a port stop first thing in the morning I went to the gym for a run on the treadmill. My preference on ships is to run on the promenade deck, but Royal Princess doesn’t have much in the way of an outside promenade deck, and the few small sections it has don’t connect to one another. Luckily their gym was open 24 hours because I run earlier in the morning than most ships open their gyms. According to their published open hours in their daily newsletter it opened later, but one of the crew people told me that was just the staffed hours and the equipment was available for use anytime.

Royal Princess standard bathroom

The problem with running at that time of day was that I’d finish about the time my sisters got up and hogging the bathroom to take a shower right when they needed it wouldn’t be very nice. To solve that problem I showered in the locker room at the gym. The showers there looked nice with big square rainshower showerheads, but they did have a major problem. The source of hot water must have been quite distant from the gym because I was always nearly done with my shower before the water finally began to warm up so I spent a lot more time avoiding the chilly water than enjoying the fancy rainshower. Meanwhile our cabin shower (which I only used once the entire cruise) had nearly instant hot water.

the one bit of floorspace big enough for exercising

My sisters had their own morning routines with my younger sister ordering room service coffee that she would sit out on the balcony to drink no matter how cold the weather, even if she had to bundle up like an arctic explorer to sit out there. My older sister claimed the one area of the room with a bit of floorspace in front of the desk and between one bed and the sliding door to the balcony for her morning exercises and yoga. They both used the cabin bathroom for all their showers so they always had a nice hot shower. I thought about trying the one at the spa, but it was quite distant from the gym and the spa wasn’t open that time of morning. I didn’t particularly want to hike pretty much the entire ship between working out and showering so I never did check to see whether or not the locker room at the spa would be unlocked that early. On most ships the spa and gym are in the same area and share a locker room, but on Royal Princess they are on different decks and opposite ends of the ship so each has its own.

big open closet and small closet with shelves and a door

The cabin had a lot of storage space with a good sized open closet next to a small skinny closet with shelves and a door, 2 nightstands with drawers plus the same set of drawers in the desk, and shelves between the countertop and the floor on one end of the counter over the little refrigerator. They all divided well by 3. There were 3 shelves under the counter, 3 in the bathroom, and 3 that had about the same amount of room not taken up by a safe in the tall skinny closet (plus an extra one there). The two nightstands and desk made 3 sets of drawers. The one thing the room didn’t have was enough room under the beds for all 3 suitcases because most of the space there was taken up by bedding for the second bunk that we weren’t using. Two of them fit, but that left the third one taking up space in the closet. They were all about the same size so we couldn’t fit one into another.

cabin with the bunk down

While the cabin would have been a bit cramped if we actually lived there, it was just a one week cruise and we didn’t spend a lot of time in the cabin so it was fine.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2020
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Gondola Ride in Venice

gondola in the Grand Canal

Our 20-day cruise on the MSC Lirica was scheduled from Venice to Dubai so we flew into Switzerland 10 days ahead and did some traveling around Europe by train, ending with 3 nights in Venice before boarding the ship. Although a last-minute change in the embarkation port ended up with passengers being bussed to Trieste 2 hours away, we still enjoyed having a bit of time to explore Venice before our cruise.

someone made use of this flooded building for boat storage

Venice is a city built on small marshy islands in a shallow lagoon. Construction of this unique city involved driving pilings into the ground and topping them with a stone foundation upon which to put the buildings. Between these pilings settling deeper into the ground over the centuries and sea level rising, Venice has been sinking ever since. In some places the lowest level of the buildings has been abandoned for constant flooding, but many are still in use and subject to periodic flooding with high tides and heavy rains.

tourists with slip-over boots in a puddle at Piazza San Marcos (Saint Mark’s Square)

Flood barriers are a common sight across doorways, but when the waters rise higher than the barrier these places still flood. In areas like Piazza San Marcos (Saint Mark’s Square) flooding occurs frequently enough that they place portable raised walkways in high water areas. Enterprising local vendors also sell raincoat-like boots that tourists can wear over their shoes to keep dry when the water rises.

gondola stand

Gondolas are a major icon of Venice, and these long thin paddle powered boats are everywhere. You don’t go far without seeing gondolas tied up along the edges of the canals, or paddling by. The gondoliers don’t all sing though. Some places charge extra for a serenade, others don’t offer singing gondoliers. Once we happened to be on a small bridge when a gondola passed under with the gondolier singing away.

gondola about to go under the Rialto Bridge

We couldn’t go to Venice and not ride a gondola. Our first full day there was kind of rainy so we decided to wait until the next day when the weather forecast looked better. Walking around Venice we had seen quite a few places with gondola stands, though not all of them had anyone there. While crossing the Rialto Bridge we had seen a sizable one next to it, which had lots of boats and gondoliers. It wasn’t far from the bnb where we were staying so we went there.

passing another gondola under the Rialto Bridge

The ride was about half an hour long. We started by walking across one gondola to get into the next one where we sat down for our ride. First we went under the Rialto Bridge. Venice has many bridges, but the Rialto Bridge is big and famous. It also crosses the grand canal. Venice is criss-crossed by many canals of various sizes having been built on a series of swampy islands in a lagoon, but the S-shaped grand canal running through the main part of Venice is the widest and most traveled, being full of boats of all sorts.

going under a small bridge

Whether powered by man or engine the canal boats all have one thing in common. They are long, low, and narrow. They have to be low to fit under the bridges, especially if they go into the smaller canals where the bridges are lower. They have to be narrow to fit into the small canals, and to get past one another even if they stay in the grand canal. Long is their only option for carrying much since they are low and narrow.


The gondolier has to have some excellent boating skills to navigate the grand canal around and between bigger and speedier boats as well as to be able to cross it through a steady stream of other boats going by.

gondola in a small canal

He also needs mad skills to get around some of the tight corners without scraping building walls in the smaller canals, to pass other boats in a narrow canal where there’s barely room to squeak by, and to slide under bridges so low he has to duck and tilt the boat so the taller bits fit. Our gondolier didn’t scrape a thing, but we did see some scrape marks on the underside of a particularly low bridge where others had hit it.

approaching a small bridge

We went under bridges we had walked over while wandering through Venice on foot. The route took a loop around some smaller canals and then back into the grand canal where he had to cross through an unending sea of oncoming boats to get to the other side before returning to the gondola stand where we got on. It was pretty amazing that he could make it through the neverending stream of boat traffic, but he did.

gondola stand

When visiting Venice a gondola ride is definitely a must-do. Besides being a major icon of the city, it’s fun to do and a great way to see the sights.

heading toward the Rialto Bridge

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2020


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Ohori Park in Fukuoka, Japan

park map

map of Ohori Park at the park

Holland America Westerdam docked at Chuo Wharf, Hakarta Cruise Port in Fukuoka, Japan on what started out as one of those if you don’t like the weather wait 5 minutes days. For the most part it was overcast, but there were sudden bursts of sunshine, occasional short downpours, and sometimes a pretty strong wind kicking up. Waves bounced around the wharf kicking up whitecaps.

Ohori Park

pagoda on the island at Ohori Park

There’s nothing much near the port in Fukoaka/Hakarta, but they did have free wifi and information and maps in the terminal. The port provided free shuttle service to City Hall in town with busses running about 1 every 20 minutes. We decided to see Ohori Park, which is just a couple subway stops away from Tenjin Station near city hall.

Ohori Park in Fukuoka, Japan

Ohori Park

The subway station has multiple entrances and an underground shopping center so it’s important to note where you came in so you can leave the same way in order to know where you are when emerging on street level. The stairways into the subway area often look the same, but they are all numbered. Take note of what number you came in on so you can find the right one when you want to leave. It’s also important to make sure you know which platform to go to for the train line you want and the direction you need to go. Ohori Park is on the Kuko line 2 stops away from Tenjin with a station called Akasaka in between. Since it was painted on the wall which station the train was coming from and going to knowing that is quite helpful in insuring you are on the right platform. The park is at Ohorikoen Station – koen meaning park. This station also has multiple exits so check what goes where to find the right one. (Take exit 3 for Ohori Park, exit 6 for the elevator, or exit 5 for Maizuru Park and the castle ruins.)

Ohori Park

sculpture on the side of the trail on the island

Upon surfacing to ground level from the subway we took a look around to make sure we’d recognize the area in order to find the station again. Which wasn’t hard as long as we left the park the way we came in since the park entrance was not far from the subway. Checking our surroundings we noted a playground near where we entered the park, useful for locating the correct exit to get us back to the subway station when it came time to leave.

bridge at Ohori Park

bridge across the center of the lake

Ohori Park has a trail around a lake that was once a moat to a castle. Bridges to an island in the center make a shortcut right through the lake as well as a pleasant path to walk on. There’s a bike trail and running path around the lake as well. Some pretty good-sized fish clustered around a no fishing sign next to the bridge. Soon a turtle and ducks swam out from under the bridge together. A little red pagoda juts out into the water on its own dock on one side of the island.

no fishing Ohori Park

wildlife at the no fishing sign

Trails off to the side of the lake lead into a Japanese garden near the far end of the bridge from the subway station. Near the playground more trails lead into the area noted as castle ruins, though other than one of what used to be many towers there didn’t seem to be much in the way of ruins there. It did have a section with many little cabanas, some with outdoor furniture and others with picnic tables, and lots of barbecues. Whether those are always there or were just there that day for a race people were in the process of setting up for I can’t say.

homeless in Japan

homeless camp in Ohori Park

Off to the end of the field with the trail leading to the tower we saw what looked like a homeless camp with lots of cats. First sign of homelessness we’d seen in Japan, and we didn’t come across any anywhere else.

Fukuoka, Japan

castle turret in Ohori Park

The lake had a cluster of swan boats and other little boats floating about, but it didn’t look like they were renting any out that day as nobody was using any of them. It may have been too windy for them to be used safely that day.

arch in the park

we found a handy arch to hide under and escape a torrential downpour

Fukuoka castle ruins sit fairly close to Ohori Park, but it started pouring down rain before we got through the park and this time the rain showed no sign of stopping so we didn’t go there. Instead we made our way back to the subway when we caught a brief break where the rain let up enough to emerge from the archway we hid under during the worst of the downpour. Since there is that one turret in the park we did at least see something from an old castle.

brides in Ohori Park, Japan

brides like to pose for pre-wedding photos in Ohori Park, in traditional or modern clothing

Overall Ohori Park is a pleasant place to spend a day, especially if the weather cooperates.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2020
Posted in Holland America, Japan, Ports of Call, Westerdam | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments