Here, there and everywhere – September

Finally the day arrived for our trip to the land of rolling green hills, shamrocks and leprechauns. Today we board a plane in Orlando to Oslo, Norway for an overnight stay then on to Amsterdam where we will board the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the seas.

Our wonderful 16-night cruise will take us to the Emerald Isle of Ireland and the Azores.  Our ports-of-call in Ireland includes Waterford, Dublin, Belfast and Cork, Ireland then a stop in Ponta Delgada, Azores.  The rest of our trip will be spent leisurely cruising across the Atlantic as we make our way to Tampa, Florida and home.

The flight over was quite comfortable, the dinner was delicious and, because of my difficulty in sleeping, I spent the entire flight playing endless games of solitaire on the computer screen.  We had a five-hour layover in Oslo, Norway which I must say was a bit bothersome.  We made our way up to customs only to wait for over two hours before we were finally processed.

With three hours to wait, we decided to find a nice restaurant to grab a bite to eat before boarding the plane for Amsterdam.  We walked around the airport for a bit looking here and there and finally decided to stop at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant.  Doug and Sue had eaten at this restaurant before and said it was good so off we went.


The Porkie – Sweet tomato sauce, pepperoni, smoky pancetta & spicy salami with mozzarella & oregano Pizza. YUMMY!

Lovely tasting Hansa beer.

They were right!  The atmosphere was quite lovely, we had a wonderful waiter who pointed us all the best choices on the menu and the food was really delicious.  We all ordered something different which gave us an opportunity to have a little taste of each dish.  They were all wonderful!  We topped our meal off with a local beer and our appetites were deliciously sated.

View from plane window as we approached Amsterdam airport.

The short flight to Amsterdam was quite nice.  As we approached the airport I did so enjoy looking out the window at all the canals, windmills and green, green parcels of land below.  We arrived late in the evening and quickly got our bags and made our way to catch the hotel bus.  We stayed at a lovely hotel called the NH Schiphol Airport. Very nice accommodations and a wonderful breakfast buffet the next morning.

The Green House restaurant at the NH Schiphol Airport hotel

Up early in the morning and had a great breakfast at The Green House restaurant.  The buffet style meal was a thing of beauty.  There was a fruit, pastry, cereal, juice, hot food stations arranged around the room so that you never felt crowded.  There was also an omelet station where the cook prepared the most wonderfully delicious tomato and cheese crepe-style omelet.  No, no picture.  It looked so appetizing that as soon a I sat down, I devoured it.

Our bus finally came and we were on our way to the terminal.  Just a few minutes into our trip a passenger told the driver he had left something back at the hotel.  After a few moments it was decided to return to the hotel.  We waited as the gentleman ran into the hotel and reappeared holding of all things a hat.

We all laughed and continued our journey to the pier.  We checked in and were on the ship in all what seemed like no time at all.  We stepped onto a ship that was ready to return home after being overseas for the summer season.

We were greeted by members of the staff and crew, handed glasses of Champagne and other libations, flags from around the world were hanging along the deck railing and a small group of musicians were playing 50s and 60s rock and roll music.  We each accepted a glass and enjoyed the festive atmosphere before heading up to the Windjammer to eat a bit of lunch while we waited for our cabins to be ready.

For the first time in a long time, we were greeted by a beautiful ice sculpture as we entered the Windjammer.  It was a true piece of artistry.

The first night on any cruise is always a time of anticipation as you meet the people you will be breaking bread for the rest of the cruise.  We started our first evening with a bit of a start as we learned that we were not seated together.  Add, we learned that friends Sal and Anna had requested to be seated at our table and were not.  Oh my.  It would take a few more days to straighten out the seating arrangements but in the end we had a wonderful table!

As we ate dinner, we enjoyed beautiful views from our dining room window.  We cruised by so many windmills it was amazing.  We have seen many windmills on our travels to Europe but never this close.  They are so tall!!

After dinner we made our way to the Colony Club to enjoy the views from back of the ship as we left the canal.  As we watched, we realized that we were being put into a lock.  Everyone there watched as the lock slowly closed and water started to rise allowing our ship to go to sea.  It was really quite amazing to watch.  I supposed this gave us a small glimpse of what it will be like when we cruise through the Panama Canal next year.

The last few days had been long, hectic and sleep deprived so Randy and I retired to the cabin in hopes of getting a good night’s rest.  Randy and I stood on the balcony as day became night and watched as our ship and others slowly left Amsterdam for other destinations.

Tomorrow we will be at sea as we make our way to Ireland.



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