Showing posts with label Mark Twain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mark Twain. Show all posts

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saturday’s Satchel: Suitcase Savvy, the short list

washington wednesdays 005 Our longer travels always present a packing challenge thanks to the self-imposed ‘small suitcase’ size limits we’ve given ourselves.

We set those limits on size and weight after the first few European trains we boarded required getting us and the bags up steps made for giants and through midget-sized doorways within the few minutes allocated for the train stop and doing it as two dozen other travelers were all clamouring  to accomplish the same task.

Smaller and lighter, is now our suitcase mantra.

While it still seems at times that our bags are too heavy, we laughed when reading the packing list given to Mark Twain when he set out on his transatlantic cruise on the steamship, Quaker City, back in 1867, because it included:
  • light musical instruments for amusement on the ship,
  • saddles for Syrian travel,
  • green spectacles and umbrellas,
  • veils for Egypt,
  • substantial clothing for use in rough pilgrimizing in the Holy Land
  • and a few guidebooks, a Bible and some standard works of travel. *
Can you imagine flying off to catch a cruise ship with those items? Think of  the fees!

Speaking of fees, did you know that  in 2010 airlines made $3.4 Billion in their airline fees, which, of course, included charges for checked bags?

Tip:  A good one-stop source of airline fee information is:
*From Twain’s Innocents Abroad

Friday, May 6, 2011

Twixt Twain and Us: The Transatlantic

We’re mid-way across the Atlantic Ocean now and for the last couple of our days, our 122,000 ton ship has been buffeted by gusting  35 mph winds and traveling through 10 – 15 foot waves. Stacks of  seasick bags (that look identical to those bags found in airline seat pockets) are readily available. Luckil, we've not needed them.

We’ve bumped into a few fellow passengers (pun intended) as we’ve made our way around each day. Speaking of our fellow passengers there are 2,749 of us on board, a wee bit less than capacity ( 2,850) and we have 42 nationalities represented.
solsticetransatlantic 005 Solstice, our floating home for two weeks, (the size of  three-football fields placed end-to-end and 60-meters tall) entered calm waters (photo on left) on Sunday but the ocean has gotten rougher as the days have gone by. Even with the six-meter stabilizers out on both sides of the ship we’ve been a rockin’ –n- rollin’.  (BTW, the ‘H ‘on the ship’s deck in the photo is the helicopter landing pad.) 

Considering the bounce we’ve experienced, we’ve been speculating on Mark Twain’s journey, described in his book The Innocents Abroad, that began with a 10-day Atlantic crossing in which he describes many storms and very seasick passengers.

Twain's journey to Europe aboard the steamship “Quaker City” began on June 8,1867  in New York.  He describes the trip, that was to last several months, as ‘the first organized pleasure party ever assembled for a transatlantic voyage.’ 

I doubt any of his 149 fellow passengers had any idea that they were kicking off what would become a billion dollar cruise industry. The cost of their passage was $1,250 per person, more than we are paying and certainly a considerable amount of money in those days. And being able to buy a ticket  didn’t get you on the ship – you had to apply and be approved by the Committee on Selecting Steamer. In contrast we just reserved space this morning on a Celebrity cruise in Nov. 2012 – with no more information required than our names and a credit card.

Promotional material provided those passengers  assured them that the ship would have every comfort including, a library, musical instruments and ‘an experienced physician’.

Suppose they would like the glass blowing demonstrations and live lawn sports that our ship features?  Or our theatre that seats hundreds of passengers on multi levels?  We have a number of musical groups –very good ones, I might add – on board providing cabaret type shows, theatrical performances, poolside entertainment. . .whew, and I’ve just gotten started. . . there are cooking demonstrations, wine classes, art auctions, exercise classes. . .in fact it is time to head out now. . .there’s a lecture starting soon! 


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