Archive for October, 2013

Our Day in Nuremberg, Germany

While we’re already back home and back to reality, I didn’t get around to sharing our last day of the cruise in Nuremberg, Germany.

Saturday and Sunday were a little busy because of the Captain’s Farewell Dinner and packing Saturday night and then flying ten hours back home across the Atlantic and traveling five hours on the roadways (two in Germany and three from Chicago to the Quad Cities) for over 5,000 miles Sunday!


When we started our Nuremberg tour Saturday afternoon, we stopped by Zeppelin Field, which had been a central part in rallies for Adolf Hitler.  Since the fall of Nazi Germany, the area has lost its flashy look from the 1940s and is rather bleak, just like the times it symbolized under Hitler.

On a happier note, we visited another castle that overlooked the city and the site where the Nuremberg Trials took place in 1945-1946 to prosecute prominent members of the military and political leadership of Nazi Germany.


And, before we headed back to the boat for the Captain’s Farewell Dinner, we had a drink in a small cafe.


I’ve always been intrigued by what a Campari and soda would taste like so I ordered one and it was HORRIBLE.  (Campari is a bitter infusion of fruit and herbs in alcohol and water.)  Yuck!  It was too bitter for me.

Ray is such a gentleman.  He gave me his Jever beer and it was much better and he said he didn’t mind the Campari and soda, but he might have just said that. 🙂

That was the last tour of our trip before the two-hour bus ride to the airport in Munich, Germany, and our trip back to reality.

I hope you enjoyed the little updates and I’ll be posting all of the pictures this week on Facebook.


Our Day In Regensberg

We arrived in Germany Thursday and explored Passau, a community that was heavily damaged by this past summer’s floods,

Friday, we woke up to another foggy morning that promised sunshine.


However, as we toured Regensberg, the 56th largest city in Germany, the sun deceived us and it remained overcast and very cool.

But, shopping was vibrant on our walk through town.

IPHONE EUROPE 2013 (125)

We also loved the bridge of locks where lovers have their names inscribed on locks and they put them on the bridge and throw the key into the River.  Should they break up, the locks are then cut off.



Random Friday Thoughts — October 25. 2013

Greetings this Friday morning from Germany!

In the past week, we’ve been to Zurich (Switzerland), the airport in Budapest (Hungary), Bratislava (Slovakia), Vienna (Austria), and Durnstein and Melk in Germany.

Yesterday, we toured Passau, Germany, a city that was ravaged by flood waters this summer as the Danube River inundated many cities along its path.

Passau Flooding 2

This is what it looked like Thursday and you can still see the marks of how high the flood waters were back in the summer.


We have two more days left on our amazing Danube River cruise on the “Sound of Music”.  On Sunday, we’ll begin our international journey back to the Quad Cities just in time for me to be at work bright and early Monday morning at 2 a.m. with jet lag.

Have a great weekend and here are my random thoughts this Friday.


The name that tops most people’s list of leading Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential bid is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.


Please find another candidate to run against Hillary Clinton (or whoever it is if she doesn’t run)!  I cannot imagine waking up each day with him as President in a worse case scenario!

And, yes, it’s personal.  It’s over marriage equality and marriage equality alone!

After the New Jersey Senate and the New Jersey Assembly approved marriage equality in early 2012, Christie vetoed it.  And, now that a high-ranking judge says that same-sex marriages will start in the Garden State this week, he’s still opposed.

Luckily, earlier this week, he gave up his fight to marriage equality in New Jersey.  It’s about time since the the numbers were against Christie.

A few weeks ago, a new Quinnipiac University poll showed that 61% of those polled in New Jersey opposed Christie’s decision to stand in the way of marriage equality, while only 31% agreed with him.

I’m glad that Christie wised up!


Last Tuesday, Christie said that if one of his four children told him that they were gay, he would “grab them and hug them and tell them I love them.” and then say “that Dad believes that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Chris Christie Family

Haunted HouseClown Margaritas Laugh it Up


Gretel is ready to go trick-or-treating one more time before she gets too old.  Yes, I encouraged her to go this year for the candy! 🙂

Have you gotten your fill of watching horror movies yet?  I’m hoping next week that I get a chance to see “Hellbent” again.  It’s become a staple for me since I first saw it in 2006.

If you haven’t seen it, check it out.  It’s from the co-creator of “Halloween” and the executive producer of “A Nightmare on Elm Street”.


Russia and the International Olympic Committee, listen up.

Bode Miller

35-year-old American Olympic Gold Medalist Bode Miller recently spoke out about the upcoming 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games and Russia’s anti-gay laws that were implemented this past summer.

Miller says, “I think it’s absolutely embarrassing that there’s countries and there’s people who are that intolerant and that ignorant.  But it’s not the first time.  We’ve been dealing with human-rights issues probably since there were humans.”

While some think that politics, sports, and the Olympics should not be seen as one, Miller disagrees.

He says, “I think it’s unfortunate when they get stuffed together because there are politics in sports and athletics.  They always are intertwined, even though people try to keep them separate or try to act like they’re separate. Asking an athlete to go somewhere and compete and be a representative of a philosophy and … then tell them they can’t express their views or they can’t say what they believe, I think is pretty hypocritical or unfair.”

Here’s to Bode making the team and winning more Gold for America and a big thank you for his stance on equality!


When you think of Britney Spears’ music, you think of a pounding dance beat and when you think of the accompanying video, you probably expect to see plenty of skin.

Her latest hit, “Work Bitch”, the first single from her upcoming December album, “Britney Jean”, doesn’t disappoint on both of those requirements.

Britney Las Vegas

Britney says, “Oh my god, we showed way more skin and did way more stuff for the video than what is actually there.  Like, I cut out half the video because I am a mother and because, you know, I have children, and it’s just hard to play sexy mom while you’re being a pop star as well. I just have to be true to myself and feel it out when I do stuff.”

About her sexy videos, she adds, “A lot of sex goes into what I do.  But sometimes I would like to bring it back to the old days when there was, like, one outfit through the whole video, and you’re dancing the whole video, and there’s like not that much sex stuff going on.”


This led some to believe that Britney was coerced into being more revealing than she wanted to be, but the “Work Bitch” director Ben Mor disputes that.

He says, “I don’t know if it’s being misinterpreted or not, but Britney’s in control of every aspect of the video, from the concepts to the setups to everything.  There’s nothing that we shot that she didn’t approve of. As far as the edit, you can always make it a little more racy, because we had scantily clad people on set. It’s just an editorial choice, and I always tend to go sexy anyway, so that was my choice. I think she just wanted it to be more dance-centric.”

Britney Whip

Mor adds, “My cut was a lot racier for sure, but it didn’t necessarily involve Britney.  It was really just cutaways. An artist knows how they perceive themselves. I promise you 100 percent:  All of these artists are in charge of their content. No one is forcing anyone to do anything that they don’t want to do, and they’re very well aware of that. They might change their mind after the fact, but Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and Britney Spears are all very much in control of their image. Things don’t just happen. Everything is scrutinized.”


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the 13th wealthiest person in the world and is worth $31 billion.

Michael Bloomberg

He gives billions to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, and millions to the arts,  for education and the environment, and for politicians that believe as he does.

He owns homes in the Upper East Side of New York City; upstate New York; Vail, Colorado; London; and Bermuda.

And, his favorite meal is … “White-bread toast, Skippy peanut butter and bacon”!



While you’re putting the final touches on your Halloween costume, Kelly Clarkson will be celebrating Christmas Vegas-style.


She’ll be taping her December holiday special, “Kelly Clarkson’s (Cautionary) Christmas Tale on NBC” at the Venetian singing songs from “Wrapped in Red”, her first Christmas album that comes out October 29th and features Reba and Trisha Yearwood on “Silent Night”.

Instead of tormenting you with another Christmas song this week since it’s six days before Halloween, here’s one of my favorite new songs from Kelly’s “Greatest Hits — Volume One” album that came out last November.

“People Like Us” only reached #28 on the Top 40 radio airplay charts, but it topped the Billboard Dance Club chart.

I love the lyrics, “People like us we’ve gotta stick together/Keep your head up, nothing lasts forever/Here’s to the damned, to the lost and forgotten/It’s hard to get high when you’re living on the bottom” and “We are all misfits living in a world on fire”.


I just renewed my subscription to “Time” magazine after not getting it for a couple of years.  However, after two issues, I cancelled it.  It just didn’t do anything me other than the articles by my favorite “Time” writers Joel Stein (because of his warped sense of humor) and Joe Klein (because of his political leanings).

Joe Klein  Time

In the issue I just read, Klein didn’t hold back on his thoughts of the Tea Party.   He calls them “the radical nihilist minority of the Republican Party and the GOP’s craven leadership.” 

Tea Party Illionis

Klein continues, “These radicals — it is wildly inaccurate to call them conservatives — are a pestilence feeding on ignorance and cynicism, preying on fear as a period of unprecedented prosperity wanes.  They are not the apocalypse but represent the desperate last gasp of the white majority and of an era.  My generation’s era.”


“You’ve got to have a J-O-B if you want to be with me/No romance without finance” sounds materialistic and if you’re saying it to a man, some might find that controversial.

Gwen Guthrie

That’s exactly what people thought back in 1986 when R & B singer Gwen Guthrie sang those lyrics in her #1 R&B and Billboard Dance Club hit, “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On But The Rent”.  It also hit #1 in New Zealand and #5 in the U.K.  Sadly, it only hit #42 on the Billboard Hot 100.

While Guthrie, who was born in Oklahoma and raised in New Jersey, never scored a Top 40 hit on the Hot 100, she did have four Top 40 hits on the R&B charts.  But, “Rent” would become her trademark song.

Before venturing out on her own, she sang back-up for Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, and Madonna.


As a ’80s bonus, here’s Gwen singing backup on “Lucky Star”, Madonna’s first Top Ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984.  It peaked at #4 on that chart and reached #1 on the Dance Chart.


Have a great weekend and I’ll be back in States Sunday night!


Our Day In Passau, Germany

We traveled from Aschach, Austria, to Passau, Germany today.

While I’ve seen some beautiful sights in my travels in the United States, like Lake Tahoe, California, the boat cruise today out of Austria to Germany has to be one of the most breath-taking views I’ve had the pleasure to witness.


The afternoon, we docked in Passau, “the city on three rivers” in Germany.

We walked along the Danube, the Inn, and the Ilz rivers, visited the shopping district, and St. Steven’s Cathedral, which houses the world’s largest cathedral organ.


While very interesting, Passau has been my least favorite city we’ve visited so far.  We still have two more nights in Germany after tonight.


Our Day in Durnstein and Melk, Austria

Since the cruise began Monday night, we’ve traveled at night.  Today, we were lucky to make our way up the Danube River in Durnstein through the Wachau Valley, to Melk, Austria.

It was another foggy morning as we walked through the very small village of Durnstein, which is known for its wines and apricot brandy.

After sampling free shots and chocolates, we sailed along the Wuchau Valley and it was spectacular.  I’m amazed at how many large cruise ships there are on the Danube River.


We then arrived in Melk, Austria, to tour a monastery that is almost 1,000 years old and it was incredible.  It was the most beautiful church in the world.  Okay, I haven’t spent a lot of time in churches!  But, it was spectacular.




Our Day in Vienna, Austria

The “MS Sound of Music” finally set sail late Monday night and we awoke to a foggy morning on the Danube River docked in Vienna, Austria.

Vienna is well-known for classical composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Strauss.


It was here also that psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud made his name.

There is currently an exhibit on display in Vienna honoring his artist grandson, Lucian Freud, who died two years ago.

His works are known for their “psychological penetration and for their often discomforting examination of the relationship between artist and model.”  Needless to say, unflattering photos of naked men and women grace the city.  Sexuality isn’t taboo here like in the United States.

Along with this advertisement for the show highlighting Lucian Freud, boobs and penis art and mannequins grace the windows in many stores,


Just to let you know that I do have a filter, the blue star is not on the billboards in the city!  And, for those inquiring minds, the star is proportional! 🙂

Now, let’s get our minds out of the gutter and check out the beautiful architecture that dates back hundreds of years!

And, one clarification that you’ll find on mugs, t-shirt, and other souvenirs, there are no kangaroos in Austria.  However, I found a cute little Joey-mama!


Here’s something very cool.  We noticed the Austrian Military and the Police outside the Chancellor’s office.  The U.S. Ambassador to Austria, Alexa Wesner from Texas was in Vienna today presenting her credentials to the country’s Federal President Heinz Fischer.

They even played “The Star-Spangled Banner”!


I’ll leave you with a couple of interesting notes about Austria.

Vienna is the capital and the largest city in Austria.  Of the five million that live in the country, 1.8 million live in Vienna.  (The second largest city in the country is populated by only 265,000 people.)


And, of those almost two million, 82% live in apartments that they rent, 11% live in townhouses/condos, and only 7% of people in Vienna own homes.  Of course, those number change outside of the city.

I close by honoring another of Vienna’s stars, the late Falco, with one of his hits, “Der Kommissar”, even though he’s better known for “Rock Me Amadeus”.


Our Day in Bratislava, Slovakia

Greetings from the Danube River.  It’s going on midnight Monday and we finally just set sail from Bratislava, Slovakia.  By morning, we’ll be arriving in Vienna, Austria.


The weather today in Bratislava was absolutely gorgeous with a high of 72 degrees and I hear that snow is still in the forecast back home in the Quad Cities.  Here is what snow on the Alps looked like Sunday on our flight from Zurich, Switzerland, to Budapest, Hungary.


Because of a maintenance problem at a lock, our cruise did not set sail Sunday night from Budapest and we didn’t get to explore the city prior to departure.

Instead, we were bussed from the airport to a hotel in Budapest where we got on another bus and traveled two hours in the countryside to Bratislava, where we were supposed to sail on the first night.

Here’s a picture of that minutes long visit in Budapest.


Here are a few from Bratislava today.


We finally left Bratislava around 11 p.m. local time here and just crossed over into Austria now that we’re finally sailing.

Bon Voyage!


P.S.   Here are all of the pictures from Bratislava.