Which trip was best? Part II

Ann Swanson

The trips I took with the grandchildren were some of my favorites. I went to New York City two years in a row. First, I took the granddaughter, then I took the boys.

When you see the wonder of the children experiencing something for the first time it is really an awesome experience. We got tickets for the buses that let you get on and off whenever you want to. We saw most of the sites we really wanted to see. We took the advice of our guide and ate in “Little Italy” on one trip. On another we saw a city full of Santas collecting for charity.

The youngest asked to be able to see the little church down in the area of the 9/11 museum. He had read about the people leaving notes. We not only got there, but we went through the museum as well.

When a man on the street told the boys to get out of his “house” – a cardboard box spread out on the sidewalk – it was an eye opener for them as well as for us.

The trip up the Danube was spectacular. At each port an excursion was planned for us to the old part of whatever city we were visiting. There was no charge for this excursion. We went through a lot of locks on our way up the river to Amsterdam. Thank goodness we did not have to get off of the ship as some others did because the river was low. Our captain had it planned so he had plenty of room to pass a boat when he met one.

I think my favorite city was Vienna. There was so much history there. The music we enjoyed was wonderful. The night we were there it was mild enough to be without coats near the end of October. The Linzer tarts were delicious.

Often, I purchase a cookie cutter as a memento. They are small and pack easily. I bought a gingerbread man and a ravioli cutter that I think I can use for filled cookies as well.

Although Vienna was my favorite city, I was thrilled to be in Amsterdam. My ancestry is Dutch with my great-grandmother and great-grandfather originating there. After I got home, I found out our foreign exchange student lives near there as well. We reconnected at our classes’ seventy-fifth birthday bash. She invited me to come visit with her anytime.

The canals of Amsterdam literally cover the city. I bought a small dish that was Delft pottery. I use it for tea bags. We rode around the city on a boat. Traffic was heavy. You had to watch when you came to an intersection.

On another trip we went through the Panama Canal. That trip took me to many Central American countries that I had never anticipated visiting. At the jade factory an armed guard led us from the bus and back to the bus. As we were exiting the facility we had to wait while they did an inventory.

In another spot we saw flamingoes. The group nominated me to go in with them and their trainer. They happily took photos while I was in there.

On the day we were to go through the locks, we were up early. We got our spot on the deck to be able to see. We did not stay there all day but returned when we were ready to go through the big lock. The rest of the day we spent in our room watching the closed-circuit television pictures of our voyage. Some of the ships had only inches to spare as they entered the lock. We saw one get stuck, but they eventually were able to get out.

At one stop I admired a bracelet. The salesman was not about to let me leave without it. I told him I had no money and no credit cards. He told me to borrow from my friends. He wanted me to wear the bracelet a while but I declined. He followed me everywhere I went! It was kind of creepy. Thank goodness for other passengers who were also in the shops. I was never so happy to get back to my bus that day.

A trip to Alaska was special. It you ever get the chance to go to this beautiful state, be sure you travel on land and sea.

Our journey began on land as we landed in Fairbanks. We explored the area around there seeing the pipeline, tried panning for gold, and visited an ice hotel. While walking through the ice structure we saw an ice carver repairing his work. When the guide mentioned his name, I realized that he probably knew the cousins who were ice carvers, I struck up a conversation with him and found out he knew the Firths. (At this point Melanie is my daughter by marriage and her children are my grandchildren.)

We saw many moose as we traveled about as well as bear, a mountain goat, and sled dogs. I had my picture taken with one if the puppies. The explanation about their training was very interesting.

On this trip we enjoyed delicious seafood. We had crab legs at one spot and grilled salmon at another. They used a delicious rub on the salmon that was cooked over an open fire.

I cannot forget the trips to Lancaster Sight and Sound Theater. The productions were top notch. There were so many things to look at that you cannot possibly see them all the first time. The production of Noah was my favorite. There was just something about when that door to the ark slammed that made me sit up and take notice.

Traveling all those years was wonderful, but I was always happy to get back home to my pets and my family.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.