Mother’s Day 5/8/22

I had a wonderful Mother’s Day surrounded by my kids and grandkids. Sarah started the day off with a delicious coffee cake that she made especially for me. It is very similar to one that I ate as a kid but without the sugary frosting which is just too over the top sweet for me. John bought me some flowers and they both gave me some nice cards.

Sarah’s super coffee cake just out of the oven

Later we went over to Ryan and Jon’s for a Mother’s Day brunch. Jonathan had made a strata and also had fruit and bagels and lox. Alex and Sam gave me lots of great hugs. I also got some really nice cards from them. Here are some pictures from the day.

Sam, Ryan, and Alex

Delicious strata that Jon made

Jon in the midst of eating his strata

Cards from Sam and Alex. Sam drew an actual heart on his!

Cards and flowers from my sweet family

Passover at home 5/1/22

Once we got home from our cruise we were having a hard time finding a date for Passover. Originally I wanted to have everyone over on the Saturday after we got back. I got vetoed on that because John and Sarah thought we would be too jet lagged to cook and host a Passover dinner. So, although it was not ideal since Ryan and Leigh were out of town, we settled on May 1.

Table set for Passover

Jonathan, Alex, and Sam came over an we had a fun celebration. We read the Haggadah, sang a song, ate ritual foods, and had a lovely dinner of grilled lamb with chimichurri, asparagus with sauce grabiche, and a potato au gratin that I bought fully made from Costco. Sarah made macaroons for dessert.

It was a lovely celebration but I wish I had taken more pictures!

At sea, Bergen, and homeward April 19, 20, 21, 2022

For our last of three ”at sea” days I am having trouble remembering what we did. I imagine we hung out and read books and started getting ourselves organized for the trip home. I only have one picture and that is of veal parmesan. We were eating at the Italian restaurant and I was saying that I wished that they had veal parmesan since they had lots of other veal preparations. Sarah said why don’t you just ask for what you want and see what happens. What happened was an enormous plateful of veal parmesan! Everyone at Viking will bend over backwards to make sure you are happy.

Veal parmesan

After an unbelievably smooth crossing of the North Sea we arrive in Bergen, Norway. Bergen was founded in 1070 on what has previously been a Viking settlement. It is the second largest city in Norway and was the country’s capital before Oslo. Due to it being a Hanseatic League stronghold it be came an economic powerhouse in the Middle Ages providing stockfish to Northern Europe. The Bergen wharf with its quaint wooden houses has been named a UNESCO world heritage site.

Since John and I have been to Bergen several times and know that the ship anchors right near the center of town, we decide to make our own adventure today. Sarah is a willing participant. We walk down to the historic harbor and look at the iconic Bergen houses.

These repurposed houses along the wharf are on every Bergen postcard.

From there we walk over St. Mary’s Church. ”The construction of the church is believed to have started in the 1130s or 1140s and completed around 1180, making this church the oldest remaining building in the whole city of Bergen. There have been a few fires that burned the church, as well as several renovations and reconstructions, most recently in 2013.” (Wikipedia.) Since the church was begun before Reformation and protected by the powerful Hanseatic League its interior is decorated by statues and paintings. Otherwise it might have been torn down or whitewashed like many other Northern European churches.

St. Mary’s Church, Bergen

Alterpiece in St. Mary’s Church, Bergen (The photogtapher – Morten Dreier) Photos not allowed in church

Situation of St. Mary’’s Church from blockprint, 1580

Our plan is to next look at the Hanseatic Museum. Unfortunately it is closed until 2024 as it is getting restored using materials and techniques which are historically correct. We are able to go into the Schøtstuene assembly rooms where the merchants were able to go to relax and interact.

Sarah next to an old heating stove in the Schotstuene

One of the things that Sarah has been looking forward to and that we have totally hyped is having lunch at Bryggeloftet & Stuene where they make this amazing Bergen fish soup. Hurrah! She likes it as much as we do!

Bergen fish soup is kind of like New England clam chowder but with a variety of seafood

Sarah and John enjoying a beer to go with their fish soup

Now we meander back to the ship stopping at the Bergenhus Fortress which looks out over the harbor. The walls are a little high for me to get a good picture. The Bergenhus Fortress was built in 1240 and is still in use today.

Part of the Bergenhus Fortress with the medieval Rosenkrantz Tower rising behind it

Part of the harbor

We arrive back at the ship with enough time to get our packing organized and to have tea.

Our last tea

Later we have our last dinner at Chef’s Table. The menu tonight is called Asian Panorama.

It is a short night since we have to assemble for our ride to the airport at 3 AM. Our flight leaves for Copenhagen at 6 AM. This is followed by an almost 5 hour layover before our flight back to SFO. Everything goes smoothly but it is a really long day before we are home.

We had a wonderful time and saw lots of new stuff. As always by the end we are tired of being with so many people and eating so much. No doubt that will wear off in the next couple of weeks.

Amsterdam 4/18/22

We arrive in Amsterdam around 8:00 AM having come through the Noordzeekanal (North Sea Canal) which is kind of a shortcut to Amsterdam. Amsterdam’s patchwork of waterways forms about 90 islands connected by 1500 bridges. We have a lazy morning since our excursion, ”A Taste of Amsterdam” does not depart until the afternoon. We have decided on this excursion because all of us, and especially Sarah, have been to most of the Amsterdam tourist sites multiple times and this tour sounds like fun.

Our sardonic guide, Pim, starts our excursion off with a talk and walk. Here we are near the Heineken Brewery and the Heineken Experience, a multi-media tour. It is obvious that Pim loves his city but maybe not the tourists so much? After walking around for a bit we stop at the Kaas Bar for cheese and drinks.

The Kass Bar, The Cheese Bar

We are pleased to be served any drink that we want and a large platter of cheese, fruit, accompaniments, and crackers. Starting at 9 o’clock and going clockwise are truffle brie,, de grutte grize (goat cheese), fiore cow”s milk cheese, another cow’s milk cheese called brokkel oplegkaas, and brabants blauw (blue).

Platter of delicious cheeses
Sarah suggests we try Ijwit, a tasty wheat beer

John with Ijwit beer

We reboard the bus after a little more walking around. Amazingly we walk through the very square where John and I ate lunch several years ago.

Amsterdam is 1/3 water and a million bicycles

Our next stop is at a place called Grand Cafe 1884 which is near our ship’s parking place. Sarah is very excited to order Kwak beer for John and herself. It comes in an odd wooden holder. You are supposed to pick up the entire holder to drink the beer. I decide to stick with the Ijwit.

Sarah is also excited to introduce us to bitterballen one of the foods she got to try during her visits to Mark. It is like a bunch of gravy encased in a spherical deep fried crust that is served with mustard and cheese.

John and Sarah have Kwak in its weird drinking contraption

Mary sticks with Ijwit

Our fun taste here is bitterballen with cheese, dried olives, and mustard

Later John and I have dinner at The Restaurant. Sarah is uncomfortable with everyone trying to please her so she eats up at the World Cafe which is less formal and cafeteria style.

The ship casts off around 6 PM and executes a 180 degree turn to head back down the Nordzeekanal. We enter the North Sea around 9 PM. We will sail all of Tuesday to reach Bergen, Norway.