Sunday, December 18, 2016

Europe Trip 2016 ~ Last week in Malyn & Athens + Carnival Dream

This blog is scattered because I've been trying to write it for over two months in bits and pieces. Sometimes my writing just falls off the train and can't seem to get back on again.


The end has arrived to my amazing and adventurous trip to Europe. It didn't end at all the way I expected but then, my plans are merely suggestions where my life is concerned.

After the Carnival cruise, I flew back to Kiev and headed home to Malyn for what was originally going to be a couple of weeks. When I arrived I learned my Ukrainian sister had moved out and it was much colder than I was anticipating. I enjoyed the last few days with my adopted family there, trying desperately to stay warm, and then headed to Athens for a surprise and impromptu week vacation. When I checked the weather while I was in Kiev, it was almost 80 degrees, but when I got here, so did late fall/winter. Instead of the shorts and t shirts I was hoping to wear, I did laundry and went back to the jeans and sweaters. Still, I wasn't wearing two of everything and wishing for my winter coat, gloves, and scarf. Athens was lovely again. I spent days enjoying delicious food and getting a chance to relax. Then one day after dinner, I returned to the condo to check my email and discovered I had an urgent request from Carnival for another cruise. Luckily I had everything with me....except the music.

Life Story: Music Acquisition.

When I got the email from Carnival, I had 3 days before I had to fly to the ship. Neither Earle nor I expected a contract on such short notice so soon so we had mailed our duo music binders back to my home. No one was there when the package arrived obviously and no one was going to be. So there was a FedEx package sitting on the front porch that we desperately needed but couldn't get. I called FedEx and told them the situation and asked if the next day they could pick up the package and send it two day shipping to Earle in the States since he was leaving a day after me. I spent over five hours on the phone with them, setting up an account, figuring out the shipping issues, and confirming the situation in the notes. Finally it worked and I breathed a sigh of relief that even though I hadn't slept that night and wouldn't get to sleep much the next, at least I'd get to sleep the third night before boarding the ship. About 12 hours later I checked the tracking number of the package and it said it wasn't readable. So I called up FedEx to see what was happening. Oh, they replied, no one was home so the driver didn't pick up the package. I wanted to scream. After all the notes I'd written in the order and the representative had written in my account, the driver didn't pick up the order. Now it was too late for the driver to go back and get it and have it delivered to Earle in time. The little sleep I thought I'd get that night just flew out the window. I spent that night downloading all the music again and sorting it into printing folders. The next morning I finished packing my bags (realized I hadn't showered in two days and since it had been cloudy the previous day the hot water tanks weren't charged so I had no hot water to shower that morning either) and took off for the airport. I had paid an extra $100 upgrade to bulkhead for the international flight so I could put up my feet and therefore be able to walk off the plane. My brother Murphy came along for the flight though an for the first time in my life that I was denied the privilege of putting up my feet. Instead, they gave me two of the pull out trays from the push carts and I stacked my book bag on top of that for a foot rest. After I got to my final destination it was almost 10 p.m. and I was exhausted because I hadn't slept on the connecting flight either. Once I arrived in New Orleans, I connected to the airport wifi (as I still didn't have US phone service), called Earle to check in, and went to the hotel I was assigned. As expected (not really), the hotel did not have my reservations so I spent an hour on hold with off hour assistance trying to get that sorted. They were very helpful and I got a reservation in the hotel for the night. Now it was time to print the music I had downloaded. I dropped my stuff off in the room and went to the business center. I was very fortunate that the night desk clerk was kind and helpful and gave me a couple reams of paper and a three whole punch, lots of paper clips, and rubber bands. It was unfortunate that the printer did not print double sided so I had a huge pile of music by the time I had finished that wasn't going to fit in any binder we had. But, I did finish by the next morning when I returned to the room, showered (finally) and drug my luggage back downstairs to wait for the shuttle to the ship. Music acquired!


Weeks and weeks have gone by and I have started writing a sentence only to get distracted. Starting backwards, I'm writing quickly in the Miami airport waiting for my flight to Mahogany Bay, Jamaica where I'll board the Carnival Dream for a couple of weeks. I can't wait! Why?

Before this last week I spent an amazing three weeks aboard the Dream, performing, rehearsing, forming friendships, playing tourist, and living the usual no sleep life I live.

This last week I've been performing in the inaugural concert for the Arkansas Symphony. We played Mozart Symphony 35 (Haffner), Respighi Pines of Rome, Ruslan and Lyudmilla Overture, and my favorite, the Korngold violin concerto. The Sat. night concert was the best and the house was packed. It was wonderful to return and see my friends there and play in the new hall and be a part of something so big. Grateful I was able to participate!

I wasn't sure by playing in that ASO concert that I'd be able to return to the ship however. Of course I wanted to but it took a lot of work to make it happen. So thankful to say it did workout so I could return to the Dream.

The Dream is doing alternate 7 day routes including Cozumel, Jamaica, Honduras, Grand Cayman, and Belize. Lots of sunshine. Lots of new friends. Lots of music. Lots of happiness :)

I apologize for the lack of pictures in the post. Wifi has been either ship wifi or 30 minute limit like I'm on now in the airport so the luxury to peruse through google photos, edit, and upload has not been available. I'll see what I can do in the near future. Hopefully I'll keep much better notes while I'm cruising to be able to share the silly stories that are almost daily events.


After wifi and computer struggles of every shape and sort, I'm finally at a restaurant in NOLA finishing typing this entry so I can start on the next! Happy reading, happy traveling, and HAPPY HOLIDAYS :)