Sunday, May 16, 2010

Arrived in Massachusetts!

I have arrived on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, U.S.A. to spend some time with Emperor-Fool and her husband, FoolMan. The trip here from the other coast of America was uneventful, though I must say it was a pleasure to get out of the box and enjoy some fresh air. The Fools have two resident tigers, but they are both so elderly and slothful that pacifying them hardly tested my animal taming abilities.

Here are a few pictures:

What I have seen so far of Cape Cod is quite pretty. E-F took me for a wee walk to the beach near her house so I could look out over the Atlantic ocean once again. What I assumed to be the west coast of Scotland was looming plain as day across the water, but it turned out it was merely a local island called Martha’s Vineyard. E-F has promised to take me there on a ferry sometime soon, and also by ferry or airplane to another nearby island called Nantucket. This latter piece of news was quite exciting, since I am most interested in meeting a mysterious man from Nantucket; I’ve heard some rather extraordinary stories about him.

Tomorrow, E-F and I are off to the hilly western part of Massachusetts, where I am told there will be lovely scenery, ample hiking opportunities, and a chance to try yoga. I’m not sure about the latter, as I’m not the most limber of utensils. Still, I do like to try new things, so perhaps I shall enjoy it.

More later, friends…


Saturday, May 15, 2010

I'm off to New England!

My box is packed and I'm off to New England to spend some time with Emperor-fool. I've enjoyed Washington, but am eager to visit somewhere new. Watch for more entries from Massachusetts!

With love,

Skinny Malinky Spurtle

More Travel adventures to come

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mykonos, the Straights of Messina, Sorrento, and Pompeii

Mykonos, Greece was lovely with the white washed buildings trimmed in bright colors--the water was the bluest blue, and it was nice to play at the beach with the kids. We relaxed, ate at a cafe along the water, ate still more gelato, and did some light shopping. The next day we spent at sea, so I lounged at the pool and napped much of the day. The children continued working on their school work--both finished reports today which were emailed back to school.

On our way to Sorrento, we passed through the Straights of Messina (that's the toe of Italy's boot) this is the legendary home of Scylla and Charybdis. I watched for them, but they let us pass peacefully. We stayed up late on the deck to watch the almost constant eruption of Stromboli, one of Sicily's Lipari islands. We saw several flares of magma against the black sky.

We awoke in Naples, and boarded our tour bus at 7: 45 am. Mt. Vesuvius loomed over us as we drove to Sorrento for a trip to a local farm to see how they grow and process olives into olive oil and lemons for lemoncello. Many of the olive trees are believed to be over 500 years old--and they still produce heavy harvests. The farm also makes salami, cheese, and wine-all of which we eagerly sampled. (hic!) We watched a cheese making demonstration and headed off to into town for some shopping, strolling, and lunch.

We spent the afternoon in Pompeii, strolling the stone streets and listening to our guide tell us about live in Roman times. Did you know they collected urine at the laundry and used it as a source of ammonia to wash clothes? Personally, I prefer soap. . . I enjoyed seeing the communal bread ovens, some looked like modern pizza ovens. We ended our day with a visit to a tourist trap cameo factory.

Next stop: Rome!

Friday, August 14, 2009

My cruise--continued

Well, as you can see I am a little behind in my blog--but I took excellent notes and now that I've had a few more adventures under my cap I'm ready to sit down and tell you all about them.

Last time I updated, we were preparing to visit Istanbul, Turkey. (That's Istanbul, not Constantinople). We started the day at with a visit to the Blue Mosque named after the lovely blue tiles decorating the interior walls. The tiles were beautifully painted with geometric and floral patterns. and I was surprised at how large it was inside. We all had to remove our shoes and ladies had to have their shoulders and knees covered, but that was no trouble for me at all. As it was between prayer times, the mosque was very crowded with tourists and visitors.

Then we went to see a carpet weaving demonstration--including how they get the silk strands for the thread by boiling the cocoons of those poor little silkworms. I admit the rugs were beautiful, but once I realized they didn't have any flying carpets, and the carpets in front of me were made by bug spit, I just quietly sipped my apple tea and enjoyed the show. Afterwards, I tagged along with Blue to shop in the Grand Bazaar--she bought so many things I think she's going to need another suitcase--but I'll let her figure that out later.

Lunch was all Turkish food and was the most wonderful meal I have ever eaten. There were dozens of dishes including little lamb ribs, pearl couscous salad, candied pumpkin, saffron chicken eggplant salad, four types of hummus, local cured meats and cheeses, nuts, dried apricots, roasted potatoes, green salads, and so on. For dessert, there were trays of bakalava of all kinds of shapes and flavors including chocolate, pistachio, and walnut. There were little honey and pistachio cakes that melted in your mouth-and if that wasn't enough there was apple crumble, chocolate brownies, custard, and raspberry and green tea mousses. I ate so much I could barely fit into my cape. I left full, and with a great appreciation for Turkish cuisine.

After waddling to the bus we drove to Topkapi palace and where Sultans once lived and ruled over the Ottoman Empire. The treasury included the Topkapi dagger with three egg sized emeralds, the Spoonseller's diamond, and a shoebox sized crystal box filled with emeralds. It must have been good to be the Sultan--but not so good to be one of his many wives or concubines. The harem seemed like it would be a difficult place to live in with so many women vying for the Sultans' attentions.

Our final stop was to the Hagia Sophia, or Divine Wisdom. It was a Christian church built by the Romans to be the both the largest building in the world, and to have the largest dome. It was destroyed and rebuilt twice before finally falling into disuse. Eventually it was converted into a Mosque, and the beautiful mosaics were plastered over in keeping with the Muslim belief of not having pictures or statues of people within a building of worship. The plasters are now being removed so the mosaics can be restored and enjoyed by visitors. The four corners of the church are held up by eight of the marble pillars from the Temple of Artemis that once stood in Ephesus and was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world

We returned to the ship for a relaxing evening. Next stop, Mykonos.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Skinny's Update! I'm on a Mediterranean cruise!

Greetings from the Ruby Princess!

Ahhh! I am enjoying myself with Bluestocking88 and her family. We spent four lovely days in Venice. We stayed in a little convent at night and enjoyed the city during the day. I toured St. Mark’s Basilica, the tomb of St. Mark the evangelist, the Doge’s Palace, rode in a gondola, toured Murano and enjoyed a busy morning at the Rialto market looking at all the fresh seafood and produce. We ate plenty of gelato and pizza—and I took lots of pictures. I really wanted a carnival mask as a souvenir, but we couldn’t find one in my size so blue and her daughter has agreed to help me make one when we return to Washington. The canals were lovely, and I very much wanted to dive in and go for a swim—but blue insisted it was too dirty to swim in and I didn’t want to offend my hostess so early in our trip.

Venice was so romantic I missed my beau, but must admit I struck up a conversation with the gondolier’s pole and he was very friendly—but a bit grubby after being in that muddy water all day. I loved the sunshine, friendly people, and beautiful scenery.

After Venice, we boarded a cruise ship and spent three days at sea. Well we were supposed to visit Athens one of those days but I’m afraid someone upset Poseidon and he blew so hard we couldn’t get through the wind to harbor safely. So I consoled myself swimming in the pool, taking tea with blue and the children, and resting.

Today we were able to port in Kusadasi, Turkey. I was able to walk through the ancient city of Ephesus—a beautiful place but with very little wood to be found anywhere. We also visited what is believed to be the final home of the Virgin Mary as well as St. John’s Basilica where St. John the apostle is believed to be buried. It was a lovely day and blue and her children kept me safe from the Anatolian shepherds wandering around town that kept eyeing me as some kind of toy. It was rather hot today, so I was carrying my hat and as we hurried through security I’m afraid I dropped it and didn’t realize it. Blue was frantic and worried she’d have to make me another but it turns out her scamp of a boy picked it up and quietly slipped it in his pocket. He saved my hat and worried his mother all in moment’s time. While swimming this afternoon he admitted my hat was safe, so I don’t have a care in the world. I can now say I have been to Asia-which is very exciting to me.

Tomorrow we will visit Istanbul, Turkey. I understand we’ll have lunch at the Ciragan Palace where I heard a rumor there will be a baklava buffet for me to sample. I’ll also visit Topkapi Palace with a tour of the sultan’s harem, St. Sophia’s, the Blue Mosque, and then we’ll go shopping at the Grand Bazaar.

I must say, blue’s children are taking excellent care of me—they are sure I go on all outings and are happy to hold my hand as we travel around. I have lots of pictures, but the internet is very slow and expensive. I will upload my pictures when I get back to Washington—but for now do know that I am safe and having a wonderful time. I think I may be the most traveled spurtle in the world by now!

I’ll update again soon—

Love, Skinny

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Shhh! I'm hiding in a suitcase!

I'd upload a photo, but it's very dark here in blue's carry on suitcase, and besides I need to stay quiet so we aren't discovered. I overheard the children talking about going to Venice in the morning and I just couldn't bear to miss out on the trip so I slipped into the bag while the family was sleeping. I don't know where else we're going, but first stop--Venice.

Washington is lovely--very green and lush. I've enjoyed sitting through a Girl Scout meeting, driving the children to school, and watching out for the Golden Retriever that thinks I'm just a common stick. So far, Blue has kept me safe.

It will likely take a day or two before I log in, but hopefully I'll be able to share my favorite flavour of gelato. See you soon!