• James Eric Fristad

It was all so ...

Updated: Mar 21

different before everything changed. If you should look at the website, observe that the places have changed along with the dates. Shudder.


Here is a teaser.

It's a scene on Lake Windermere, rental boats and gulls and swans, and all. But wait, that is in the Lake District. Which is in Cumbria. Which is in England. As in, not on the original itinerary. Exactly.


It's possible cruises will be back in semi-full operation by November, I guess. What is less likely is that Europe will be in any mood to receive outlanders, such as ourselves, to spend time and just hang out in neighborhoods. The realization of that made me pause and reflect on the whole plan.


Could we put it all off longer, and if so how much longer, since we be aging? And the larger question, were these all places we wanted to visit -- or were many just re-visits chosen because we are pretty sure seeing them again would give us the pleasure of seeing familiar strangeness again. "Familiar strangeness" is quite a phrase, huh? So much as we honestly would enjoy each of those places, most are now struck from today's version of the schedule. (Struck because stricken, though grammatical, suggests illness which is anything but our intention. Grrr.) We both are now vaccinated. Pfizer.


So revisiting the events we had planned for this coming October 2021... Nothing was off limits to slough off, including Holland America. And my own protest that I was not actually a cruiser, I discovered to be only partly true. An okay way to get from point A to point B -- as a variation for travel to the continent, I like it. But the doing of it does not feed my soul. And there's the corollary of that, that being out on the great waters day after day mingling with people whose souls it emphatically does feed, is less than marvy. But.


Might there be a way of varying that experience, an alternative mode fraught with novelty of the agreeable sort, that this schedule-upset might give us a good excuse to explore? As it happens, yes. Enter Oceania's repositioning event scheduled for NEXT March. They do food. Haut cuisine, indeed. And unless you insist on spending your way into your own private room with cooks and wait staff eager to respond to only your whims (you charge-card-titan, you), there is not a single extra dollar involved. Wine, too? Hahaha, no, but let's don't go there. Different cosmos, rarefied, "if you have to ask" kind of category.


So the current plan is this. Southwest Airlines to Miami, overnite for a short and restless sleep someplace with shuttle from airport and another shuttle to cruise port next morning. Ten days aboard the Riviera with about 1,200 folks (we may actually meet authentic gourmands enroute. And like them, and they us). To Lisbon, in Portugal where we have never been. After two nights only, we're off to Avignon for a week. I wish you could be there with us. Not to keep us company, actually (as in always hanging out together), but to experience the same place and its history and then have the pleasure, afterwards, of knowing there's someone else you know, whose mind absolutely percolates with many of the same memories. If that makes sense.


It's a relatively short train-ride from Avignon to Girona, which one may think of as a suburb of Barcelona. I still want us to visit the La Sagrada Familia cathedral there, but more as a guided day-trip from G on one of those weekdays, than being immersed in that massive (though pleasant) metropolis for days. Girona is stuffed with archaeology, with things recently unearthed and things being lived in still. Old places, things, traditions. Michele remembers enough Spanish from college. We trust.


A flight to Manchester, then (the Irish cheap-flights company RyanAir makes that run from Girona every Tuesday and Friday). Which is nice but it arrives late in the UK, so a single night in Manchester before boarding the train from the airport up to Oxenholme. I know, wonderful British placenames, huh? Then aboard a connecting rail run to Windermere. Photograph above, hmm?


Where we found a restored farmhouse to rent (available and now ours per deposit paid) in Grasmere. A place nobody much has heard about. But it is endowed with a misty beauty and homey charm that you may catch a whiff of in reading The Hobbit or the Narnia books. A little over a kilometer walk into town to buy bread and such, and to catch the bus that plies the main road between Windermere to the south and Keswick more or less to the northwest. That week in/around Grasmere straddles next year's Easter Sunday. And 14th c. St Oswald's Church there is a place worth visiting on Easter. Old almost beyond reckoning (built atop a church easily dated in the Anglo Saxon period, put up by King Oswald himself). I get antsy just imagining the walk to and from there, that Sunday morning.


There is a chance, just a chance, that our son's family could/would spend that same week somewhere nearby. He, more adventuresome than I, intends to drive those wrong-sided roads. And how otherworldly to stroll those pathways with granddaughters. Stay tuned.


Then to Rome by air, for a final four days before boarding Lufthansa for Munich/Seattle and swapping carriers for Alaska Airlines to Boise. Sounds both tiring and invigorating, as I put it all on this blog entry.


Please write as you may be inclined. H&Ks from Eric and Michele


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