Around the World in 69 Days - Fall 2007 travel blog


deck blankets

indoor pool

The barometer is climbing and the sun and blue skies have reappeared. The waves have calmed down and the pleasant rocking motion that remains, reminds us that we are on a ship. The yellow crime tape blockades are removed from the doors and brave souls venture outside once again. The indoor pool, which is enclosed by a glass roof, gives the illusion of being outside without those gusts of wind that make you feel like your hair might be pulled out by the roots. We still have many miles to go and the captain is taking advantage of the calmer seas to put the peddle to the metal - about twenty knots per hour.

Today's lecture was about Emperor Hirohito. Under his leadership, Japan was in a highly militaristic mode, conquering many of the lands we are about to visit on this trip. The lecturer speaks in the first person and denies much culpability for the many cruel decisions made during the first half of his reign. "They didn't tell me. I didn't know, he repeats. His overwhelming interest is in marine biology and he writes books and papers on the topic, while Asia burns. Perhaps the world would have been better off if he had made it his business to find out a bit more about what was being done in his name, but his disengagement probably helped him to live a long life even if his countrymen did not.

The ship's staff works manfully to keep us entertained during another 25 hour day. They demonstrate how to roll sushi and how to whip up a mean martini. Trivia games and bridge classes keep the mind going, no matter what time zone it is on. We attend a wine tasting and swirl and sniff with the best of them. "A hint of blackberry, and undertone of chocolate, " we say knowingly. Wine tasting and art criticism are related in my mind by high BS quotients. Every nook and cranny has a talented musician or group, performing a wide range of music both classical and pop, that appeals to people of a certain age, which most of us are. And of course, the chef and his staff are doing their best to have us in need of larger clothes by the time we disembark. Everything they prepare is top notch. While the dinner portions are small and surrounded by lots of decorative frou frou that is more tempting to the eye than to the palate, the buffet area where we breakfast and lunch issues plates that are large enough to recline on. I fill my plate with drinks, soup, and salad, but there's still lots of space left for a sampler of food that can really do some damage.

And so we don our parkas, snap on our Ipods, and head out to the deck for an hour of energetic walking. Enough to burn off a piece of veal marinara?

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