Thursday, March 31, 2016

Big cruise ships vs. small ones...

Tiny SeaDream 1 next to a gigantic P&O ship in Antigua...

Maybe I shouldn't write this blog post.  My husband Bill and I have done seven cruises, six of which were on very small ships.  Our very first cruise was on Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas, which is one of their oldest and smallest vessels.  I think Vision of the Seas carries about 2400 people max, which makes her pretty small for a Royal Caribbean ship.  Compare Vision of the Seas to Royal Caribbean's enormous Oasis of the Seas, which carries over 5000 people, and Vision of the Seas seems positively dainty.

Bill and I enjoyed our first cruise on a big cruise ship, but we didn't like the huge crowds and nickel and diming that went on all the time.  Though there's plenty of do on a big ship and it's easy to escape the crowds if you are so inclined, we determined that we liked the idea of small ships and all inclusive cruising better.  So we tried SeaDream Yacht Club and, to date, have been on three SeaDream cruises.  Either of SeaDream's mega yachts only carries 112 passengers at a time.  So the staff gets to know your name.  So do the other passengers.

Later, we tried Hebridean Island Cruises, which is an even smaller ship.  Only 49 passengers are aboard at a time.  That means even more personal attention and even more inclusiveness.  

Bill and I had a great time on our most recent cruise, but once we disembarked, I couldn't help thinking I'd like to try another cruise line.  There are several I'm interested in.  One I've been wanting to try for years is Un-Cruise Adventures, which is an American line.  If we hadn't moved to Germany, we might have cruised with them this year instead of Hebridean.  I've also been wanting to try Seabourn for a long time.  Azamara has kind of piqued my interest, too.  So has Paul Gauguin Cruises, though I doubt we'll be trying one of those until we're back in the States.  It takes way too long to get to Tahiti from Germany!  None of these cruise lines have ships that are super huge, but most of them are smaller than anything you'd find on a mainstream line.

Some people love the really huge ships with many restaurants, shopping venues, waterslides, rock climbing walls, waverunners, and the like.  Me?  I like a ship that has really good food, all inclusive pricing, and excellent service.  I also like ships that don't pressure me to tip.  One thing I like about Hebridean is that they operate on a strict non tipping policy.  SeaDream also doesn't pressure passengers to tip.  Instead, those who want to tip are encouraged to donate to the crew fund.  The only exception is when you use the spa, where tips are expected.

Don't get me wrong.  When I go out to eat or get personal services, I tip.  I have waited tables before and understand how it is, especially in the United States.  However, I find tipping rather awkward.  I never know how much to tip or how to go about doing it gracefully.  I would rather cruise lines (and restaurants, for that matter) pay their people appropriately.  I know it'll probably never be popular practice in the United States not to tip because servers like being in charge of what they can earn.  But I think the people who employ servers should be paying them and not putting that duty off to the customer.  I thought this when I was a server myself, too.  I would seriously rather pay higher fares than deal with tipping.  I remember being on Vision of the Seas and noticing the video about tipping on the ship's television channel.  I thought it was really tacky.

Another thing I liked about the smaller ships is that a lot of times, what you pay up front is what you pay.  At the end of a SeaDream cruise, we usually have a bill.  It's never been as big as it was when we cruised on Royal Caribbean.  When we've been on Hebridean Princess, we have never had a bill at the end.  We don't even give them a credit card when we board.  I like that.

I'm not sure when our next cruise will be.  Bill has said more than once that he wants to try river barging.  I am definitely up for that.  That means an even smaller boat.  I think most barges only carry about a dozen people.  Tipping is also expected and you don't tend to cover as many miles on a barge. 

There are drawbacks to small ship cruising.  For one thing, smaller ships don't tend to be as stable as the big ships are.  You can end up getting pretty seasick on the small ships.  I never have on Hebridean Princess because they mostly stick to the lochs, which are usually pretty calm.  They also anchor at night.  I have gotten very seasick on SeaDream 1 on more than one occasion, often in the middle of the night when they move to the next port.  

Another drawback is that it can be hard to escape people who get on your nerves.  If you happen to be on a cruise where a large group has booked, you can end up feeling a little like an afterthought.  Big groups on small boats can overwhelm the ambience a bit.  If there's someone you clash with, it can be hard to avoid them.  On the other hand, the small ship also allows for very personal attention and service.  For instance, I got a big kick out of one of the bartenders on Hebridean Princess going out of his way to make me a Brandy Alexander.  That probably wouldn't happen on a huge ship.

Anyway... my guess is that the next cruise we book will be a barge somewhere in France or perhaps Ireland.  Things will get even smaller!  But I haven't ruled out Seabourn or another SeaDream cruise. I may even get crazy and try another line.  We'll see.

Tiny SeaDream one in the foreground and a huge Celebrity behind it.  Actually, this photo makes me want to book a SeaDream cruise...  


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Part 14... Time to go home!

I want to thank those of you who have been following along.  I hope these posts weren't too dull.  I think this may be the last one of my Scotland/England series.  To be honest, by Saturday, Bill and I were feeling a bit fatigued and just wanted to kill time.  Also, the weather wasn't so great on Saturday.  Originally, we were going to go to Bury St. Edmunds and walk around.  We did drive there and started to park, but Bill realized that he didn't have enough change to prepay for the parking.  Also, the weather wasn't conducive to walking around.  It was cold, windy, and wet.  So we decided to drive to Ipswich, which wasn't very inspiring either, although it did look like they had a lot of ethnic restaurants there!

Actually, I would have liked to have walked around Bury St. Edmunds.  There are a lot of impressive churches and it looked like there was a big park there.  I bet we could have found a cool pub or something.  When we decided to turn around from Ipswich, I initially said we should go back there.  But then I remembered my sister mentioned the Bird In Hand pub, which is right outside the gates of Mildenhall Air Force Base and around the corner from where we lived.  In the interest of nostalgia, we decided to have lunch there.

I enjoyed a local beer from Bury St. Edmunds...  I also had the Old Speckled Hen when we were on the Hebridean Princess.

Bill soaks up the atmosphere at the Bird in Hand pub.

My sister says it looks the same as it did in the 70s.

The beer taps weren't working when we first walked in the pub, so our first beers came from bottles.  In retrospect, we probably should have stuck with the bottled stuff.  I could tell this place is very popular with Americans.  They had lots of American style military awards on the walls, along with video gambling and darts.  Bill and I had burgers, which were okay, but nothing really special.  After lunch, we went back to the inn and decided to pick up some beer and watch TV...

I bought a few childhood favorites to bring back to Germany.  I love British sweets!

Bill went to tell the hotel folks that we had to leave early in the morning and we needed to know what to do with the room key.  They were kind enough to give us a tray of food so we'd have breakfast!

They even gave us a portable fridge and toaster!  That came in handy for the beer we bought at the local grocery store.

Some of my friends made fun of the Weetabix, especially since we were leaving Easter Sunday.  

One thing I forgot to mention in the previous post is that you can meet some interesting people in British pubs.  On Friday evening, we sat in The Willow House's bar and ended up talking to a couple who were visiting Watton.  The male half had a relative who had owned another inn in town and later sold it.  They had wanted to check it out, but it was closed.  So there they were in the only other pub in Watton.  

The guy had been a prison guard in Britain, while his wife, who was about my age, was telling me about her obsession with Dallas and J.R. Ewing as portrayed by the late Larry Hagman.  By the time we got the pub, the two of them looked like they'd been there awhile.  It was too bad.  I would have liked to have heard a few British prison stories from the guy, who also told us about his relatives in Islay in Scotland and how he'd once gone there, told the bartender his family name, and the bartender called up the guy's relatives.  They showed up at the bar and partied with him.

Later, we chatted with a British couple who had moved to Norfolk from London and brought their adorable Staffordshire Terrier with them.  I enjoyed a little canine attention as they chatted with Bill about Korea and Japan.  Yep... Brits are a friendly lot!  We sure appreciated their hospitality when we visited Scotland and England for two weeks!

Our drive to Norwich Airport on Easter morning was a delight.  Very few people were on the road, so we had no trouble getting there.  Getting through security was a breeze, though we had to pay 10 GBP each as an "airport improvement fee" and the machine wouldn't accept Scottish money.  Don't worry, though, you can pay with a card.  We had English money, too.  

The flight to Amsterdam was smooth as silk and took 35 minutes.  The flight from Amsterdam to Stuttgart was also smooth as silk and took an hour.  It was super easy getting to and from England and, now that we know Bill has left side driving skills, flying in and out of airports without train connections is a possibility!  However, because we chose to check out carry ons for the sake of taking up less overhead bin space, Bill ended up leaving his tablet on the plane in Stuttgart.  Fortunately, someone turned it in to lost and found.  He went back to the airport and got it after paying a 10 euro fee.

This is a curling iron...  You can pay and curl your hair.  It was in the bathroom at the Norwich Airport.  I had to take a photo because I had never seen something like this before.

So ends my two weeks of fun and vomiting in Great Britain.  I hope to be back sometime soon, though at this point, it looks like our next trip may be to Ireland.  Stay tuned!

Part 13... Mildenhall 38 years post PCS...

It may seem odd that out of all the places I could visit in the United Kingdom, I'd want to visit Mildenhall.  Mildenhall is a market town in Suffolk.  It is also home to an Air Force base that has been home to many Americans, including my own family.  My father's last assignment as an Air Force officer was at Mildenhall.  He was the base engineer from 1975 until 1978 and we lived in base housing.  Since I was born in 1972, I was a little girl when we lived there.  I really don't have any memories of living in Hampton, Virginia, which is where I was born.  I also don't remember much of Dayton, Ohio, which is where we lived before we went to England.

Although I have been fortunate enough to get to travel all over Europe and beyond, I hadn't been to Mildenhall since we PCS'd in 1978, when I was almost six years old.  I have been trying to get back there, though.  Two years ago, when we lived in Texas and Bill was finishing his Army career, we took two Space A trips.  I was kind of hoping we'd wind up at Mildenhall, but we went to Ramstein instead.

When I started planning our Scotland trip and we realized we'd have a few days afterwards to go somewhere else, I decided we'd finally get to Mildenhall, even though it's not near Scotland and isn't exactly known for being a tourist destination.  For me, it was exciting to get to go again and see my old stomping grounds!

On March 24th, Bill and I said goodbye to Staffordshire and set off for Norfolk, the county next to Suffolk.  As a native Virginian who grew up near Virginia's own Suffolk and Norfolk, it was a little weird to be going to the original ones in England.  Especially since once we got there, I noticed how much England's Norfolk and Suffolk looked like Virginia's Norfolk and Suffolk.

Unfortunately, Bill got my stomach virus, so the drive down there wasn't as smooth as it could be.  We ended up having to pull off the road once so he could throw up.  I had chosen to book The Willow House, a bed and breakfast in Watton, a little village that was on the way to the airport in Norwich.  Although at the time, I was kind of sad we wouldn't be able to stay closer to the base, I have to say that now that we've been to the Mildenhall area, I'm glad we stayed further out.  Mildenhall is very built up now and traffic is pretty bad there.

The Willow House in Watton.

Basic accommodations.

Thursday night, Bill and I were recovering from our run in with the stomach bug.  We had dinner at The Willow House, which has a pretty nice pub.  The portion sizes were huge and neither of us came close to finishing our meals.  On the other hand, I had a good rib eye steak, which was a nice change of pace after a week of so much fresh seafood.  The Willow House also has a nice selection of cask ales, which Bill and I appreciated as beer lovers.

Cute pub!

Bill's huge jacket potato, which he said wasn't quite cooked all the way.

My steak.  this came with chips, too.  It was way too much food, but the steak was good.

An example of breakfast at The Willow House.

The accommodations at The Willow House are pretty basic, but reasonably priced.  For years, my uncle ran the The Natural Bridge Hotel and Conference Center in Natural Bridge, Virginia.  They have "cabins" there.  Basically, they are little buildings with six to eight rooms in them.  The Willow House only has one building with rooms, but it really reminded me of the Natural Bridge Hotel cabins.  The Willow House has plenty of free parking and offers a great breakfast.

On Friday morning, after a good night's sleep, Bill and I were both feeling fine again.  We had a big breakfast in the inn's charming restaurant, then set off for Mildenhall.  Bill had set the GPS to find Tolley Cobbold Street.  If you click the link, you can get the backstory on why finding that street was on my bucket list.  The short version is that legend has it, that street was named after my late father, Charles P. Tolley.  I wanted to see if the street was still there 38 years after we PCS'd.

We got to Mildenhall and found Tolly Cobbold Street.  At first, I was a little disappointed.  Tolly Cobbold is the name of a beer that was produced for centuries in nearby Bury St. Edmunds until the brewery ceased production in 2002.  I was looking for Tolley Cobbold Street.  Unwilling to be let down by not finding it, Bill and I drove around some more and found the British school where I went to kindergarten.  We found the main drag, which features beautiful St. Mary's Church and a charming little market square.  We also found our old house, which I easily recognized because it's base housing and there's a big field behind it.

Beyond those brambles is the field that backs up to our old house on base.  In my day, there were cows there.  Now there are horses.  I'd rather gaze at the horses.

Me in Mildenhall as a little girl, looking at the cows from our yard.

Tolly Cobbold Street

Tolley Cobbold Road!

I told Bill I wanted to drive into our old neighborhood.  He was reluctant because we didn't have a visitor's pass.  However, I noticed that the guard shack near the neighborhood (which I don't think existed in 1978) was standing wide open and was unmanned.  I kept pressuring Bill, so he finally relented...  And then, I saw it.  The sign... Tolley Cobbold Road (instead of Street).  As I snapped a picture of it, I had to wonder how many Air Force folks looked at that sign right next to Tolly Cobbold Street and wondered if it was a typo.

My old school.  I went to kindergarten here with a bunch of British five year olds.  My mom said she sent me there because the school day was longer.  I'm glad she did it, even if she did it for kind of selfish reasons.

Our old English house... the first one I have memories of in my lifetime.  I sent these pictures to my sisters, who were much older when we lived there and they confirmed that my memory hadn't failed me!

I was a little sad to see all those trash bins under the gazebo.  

Scenes from around Mildenhall.  I hear they are planning to shut the base...  That makes me sad, especially since its been built up so much now!  And they like Americans, too... right?

Part 14

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Part 12... An unplanned night in Glasgow and off to see Avenue Q...

Despite my stomach bug, I still love Scotland.  I was inspired to make this video with pictures from 2016 and 2012.

I mentioned in prior posts that we meant to head to Stoke on Trent the day our cruise ended.  I didn't plan for getting a stomach bug.  Sometimes your best laid plans don't work out and by the time we reached Glasgow after our messy ride in a taxi cab, I knew I wasn't going to be able to go anywhere in England that evening.  Our cab driver dropped us off at the Hertz rental car office near the Glasgow Central Train Station.

Let me just say that both the cab driver and the folks at Hertz were just wonderful to deal with.  I looked like I had been run over by a truck and felt even worse.  I had a bag of soiled clothes (explained on my main blog) that needed to be disposed of and a sour look on my face.  My stomach was cramping; I had diarrhea; and probably stank of shit and vomit.  But they all treated me with great kindness and compassion and for that, I am very grateful.

Bill explained to the folks at Hertz that we needed to delay our rental for a day because I needed to go to bed.  The manager of the Hertz office took one look at me and concurred, then helped us book a hotel room at the Hallmark Hotel, a place just around the corner.  One of his co-workers drove us to the hotel; the Hertz guy had even tried to haggle the price on our behalf (that old Scot thriftiness at work).  Unfortunately, the Hertz guy had booked us using his phone, so he got the dates wrong.  They didn't have a record of our booking and there were no standard rooms left.  We ended up paying a lot for our one night stay in a mediocre hotel.  At the time I didn't really care much, though.  I just wanted to go to bed.  Besides making me erupt from every orifice, the virus also made me very sleepy.

We were on the first floor, but I barely made it up there even using the elevator.  Once we got into the room, I decided to take a shower.  The only towels in the bathroom were hair towels.  I didn't care.  I turned on the water and sat down in the tub while the water came down on me.  And then I hurled again.

Once I was finished cleaning up, I crawled into bed and fell asleep.  Bill went out to find me fluids and ended up at the Glasgow Central Train Station, where new cruise passengers were waiting like we were the week prior.  He came back with Milk of Magnesia and very strong ginger beer.  I didn't try the Milk of Magnesia, since I read that it was a laxative and I sure as hell didn't need one of those.  Later, he went out and got me some Coke and 7Up, then took himself to dinner while I snoozed.  He also emailed the folks at the Shawgate Farm Guest House in Foxt, which is where I had originally booked us.

Our room at Shawgate Farm Guest House.

The toilet and shower were a little tricky.

I'm pleased to say that I felt a whole lot better the next morning, though I still had stomach cramps and diarrhea.  Bill walked to the Hertz office and came back with a nice car for us.  The manager had upgraded us to a larger car with an automatic transmission and even took off 35 GBP because of the hotel error.  We were blown away by and grateful for how kind he was to us.  If we ever need another rental car in Glasgow, he will definitely get our business.

Once we checked out of the hotel, Bill set about driving on the left for the first time.  I think we were both surprised that he handled it seamlessly.  It took several hours to get to our hotel near Stoke.  As long as we were there in time to see Avenue Q at the Regent Theatre, all would be okay.  Driving from Scotland to England gave me an odd sense of deja vu.  At times, I felt like I was on either I-95 or I-81 in Virginia.  It's easy to see why my family ended up settling there once they left the British Isles.

Shawgate Farm Guest House...

Our lodging near Stoke turned out to be further away from the city than I'd originally realized.  It took awhile to get there, mainly due to us getting to town as school was letting out.  It was interesting to see all the kids walking home alone or with their parents.  One little girl looked upset as she handed her dad a note.  Maybe it was from her teacher?

Kids coming home from school.

I saw a cheeky ad for a hand car wash.  Its slogan was "Best hand job in town."  Sex sells.

Our hostess at the Shawgate Farm Guest House was a pretty lady named Nina who had a five month old infant.  She lit up when we told her we live in Germany.  It turns out she is German and hails from Frankfurt.  She showed us to our room with its charming canopy bed and bidet.  The Shawgate Farm Guest House also had lots of mama sheep outside, guarding their babies.  I got a kick out of how they all bravely came forward, bleating at us indignantly, even though we were well behind the fence and were no threat to their lambs.

These were some protective mama sheep!

We ended up skipping dinner because we didn't really have time to eat and I still had no appetite.  But we did get "blue boxes" at the theater, which offered snacks and cheap wine.  I drank one cup of wine and gave the other to Bill.

Avenue Q was fabulous!  I related to it on many levels.  Not only is it a wickedly funny show, especially for overeducated housewives like me, it's also got kind of a nice moral to it.  We're reminded that tough times don't last.  At the end of the show, they even threw in a hilarious reference to Donald Trump.  We also ended up with front row seats, which was awesome.  For once, I didn't have a tall person sitting in front of me.  I had been worried about parking and it was a bit of a challenge until Bill found a nearby parking garage.  Then he spent several stressful minutes trying to figure out how to park and pay.

Our view of the stage.

Our breakfast at the guest house was very good, though I was still a little fragile and could barely manage half of it.

On another day, this would have been awesome!

I wish we could have spent the second night at the B&B.  Though Stoke is not a very pretty town, the B&B is located in a lovely rural area.  It would have been nice to take a couple of walks around there.  They only charged us half of the first night's rate, because they couldn't rebook it due to our late cancellation.  I wasn't expecting them to give us a break and really appreciated it.  Not all innkeepers are that understanding.  

Unfortunately, Bill started showing symptoms of the virus early Thursday morning, so we beat a hasty retreat and made our way to the town of Watton in Norfolk.  We would be staying there for three nights so I could explore Mildenhall, the town where I lived when I was very young and where my first memories were formed.


Part 11... Oban Distillery, the captain's farewell, and disembarkation...

After our visit to Jura Distillery, it was time to venture to Oban, the town where most Hebridean cruises begin once the season gets going.  The early spring and late fall cruises usually start in Greenock, probably because the weather is milder down that way.  Bill and I had never been to Oban before this cruise and, I must admit, it's an awfully cute town.  I think I'd like to go there and just spend a few days shopping and eating.

Tenders ready for our last day.

Before we went to Oban, we stopped to tour some pretty gardens in Ardfern.  It was a bit overcast during the morning, but we managed to enjoy about an hour of walking around.  Afterwards, we had tea and shortbread in the cafe attached to Loch Melfort Hotel, where the gardens were located.  I also managed to get a picture of a Highland cow, though I probably should have gotten closer than I did.

Highland cows.

Pretty flowers!

After the garden tour, we had lunch.  It was a ham buffet, kind of like the fresh seafood buffet of a few days earlier, only with ham.  I enjoyed the ham buffet, but I am more of a seafood fan.

The ham is ready for carving...

A close up of the 2012 version...

Oban does, of course, have a distillery.  It's right in the middle of town.  According to our very cool guide, Catriona, the town of Oban was pretty much built around the distillery, which dates from 1794.  Of all of the distilleries we visited during our weeklong cruise, I think Oban has some of the most interesting history.  Catriona told us that the distillery can't expand too much because of its location, as well as the fact that there are caves in the cliff behind the distillery.  Some excavations were done during the distillery's early years and some very old-- prehistoric maybe?-- bones were found back there.  Also, there is a Roman style amphitheater on the cliff over the distillery and people had started to live up there, so more room could not be carved out of the cliff.

Oban Distillery.

Bill checks out the visitor's center.

Because of Oban Distillery's location, it's one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland.  It's known for producing a 14 year old malt.  In 2014, Oban introduced "Little Bay", which is a non-age statement whisky.  Oban actually means "little bay" in Gaelic.

I thought Catriona did a great job telling us about the Oban Distillery, though I was pretty much distilleried out by the time we got to her.  She also showed us a part of the process that no one at the other distilleries did.  It was basically a three layered box used to separate the grist of the malt... I think, anyway.  Although all of the distilleries supposedly use this rather unsophisticated tool, no one else told us about it.  So, as Catriona said, "Score one for Oban!"

During this particular tour, the whisky expert expounded on the wonders of whisky making in such a way that Catriona had to stop him.  There was another tour coming behind us that needed use of the room.

After the distillery, we walked around Oban and I did my best to try to talk Bill into getting a kilt.  But he demurred, as usual...  One of these days, I'll have him wearing a skirt.

Oban sunset.

We went back to the ship and put on our finery for one last gala dinner.  Bill squeezed into his uniform and I squeezed into pantyhose.  I also put on a blue wraparound dress I ordered from Amazon on a whim two years ago.  I have another one that is identical, except it's in red.  I brought it with me, but bright red makes me feel too loud.


The second gala on Hebridean Princess always involves eating haggis.  I tried haggis the last time we cruised and didn't remember hating it much.  I am pleased to say that it was actually pretty delicious this last time, although it's not something I would choose to eat outside of Scotland, especially when no one is reciting Robert Burns.  I had turbot for dinner and Bill had venison.  It was actually a very nice meal.  Little did I know that later, I'd be tasting it again.

Hilarious original poetry by a passenger...

A rare photo of both Bill and me...

Haggis... it was surprisingly good!

Gin and tonic sorbet!

Bill looking smashing.

After dinner, we all had the chance to see the galley and chat with the kitchen staff.  Much to my delight, one of the guys in the kitchen claims to have remembered me from 2012.  I guess that's possible, since I doubt too many Americans cruise on Hebridean Princess and I do have a distinctive laugh.  Anyway, it was nice to be able to thank them for a job well done.

Someone had an accident on the steps, so we were asked to take a detour to the Tiree Lounge for cocktails.  Bill and I went there and Philip, one of the bar staff members who had also worked on The Royal Scotsman, made me another Brandy Alexander, some of which I ended up spilling on my shoes.  I have to admit, my mood was beginning to sour due to a personality clash I had with someone else on the cruise.  I just wanted to go to bed.  But we were met with a road block on the way there, as the person who had had the accident was being evacuated.

I assured the assistant purser that I just wanted to go to bed and wasn't interested in rubber necking.  So she let us go; we went to bed; and I promptly fell asleep until 3:00am.  I woke up, felt queasy, and began the first of about twelve hours of vomiting.  As I mentioned in the very first Scotland post, I wrote a rather detailed account on my main, more R rated blog.

In the interest of keeping my travel blog somewhat benign, I will dispense with going into great detail here...  except to say that germs are no joke on cruise ships!  Wash your hands!  Don't share eating utensils or towels with strangers.  Use the alcohol hand sanitizers, but realize that they are no substitute for thorough and properly done hand washing.  Also realize that sometimes no matter what you do and what precautions you take, you will sometimes get sick.  Rather than beat yourself up over it, just simmer down and let the sickness take its course.  If you're lucky, your illness will be rather short lived.  I was mostly back to normal within 48 hours, though those 48 hours were definitely not much fun.

In any case, by about 6:00am, I really looked like death warmed over.  I was sitting there wondering what we were going to do, since our plans had us going back to Glasgow, picking up a rental car, and driving to the Stoke on Trent area, where we had reserved a room at the Shawgate Farm House for two nights.  Had I been completely healthy, that plan would have been doable, if not making for a long day of travel.  But I was repeatedly vomiting, had diarrhea, and really bad stomach cramps.

Bill called the bridge to tell them that I was not feeling well.  The first officer came down to our cabin, took my temperature, and gave me water with electrolytes.  I later threw it up.  Bill explained to the purser that we were afraid what I had was contagious (and later it proved to be when Bill also got it).  I feared riding the coach and exposing others, even though they had probably already been exposed.  Also, I wondered if I would be able to make the ride to Glasgow without getting sick (I didn't, but that's explained in my other post about this).  I think had it been entirely up to me, I would have just found a hotel room in Oban.  But Bill and the purser determined we'd take a cab to Glasgow, which the ship kindly paid for.

Several very kind staff members expressed concern for me, which I appreciated.  I would have loved to have said goodbye properly to a few of my more favorite staffers.  Iain, the hottie hotel manager from Islay, said goodbye to me before we left the ship.  I hope he didn't catch my sickness in those brief few moments.  I also really hope our poor stewardess, Katarzyna, did not get sick...  or the people who had the stateroom after us.  And the poor cabbie who drove us to Oban and the lady who ran the B&B where we stayed Wednesday night.  Despite feeling really miserable, I also felt pretty guilty about having a contagious illness.