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After shooting some 2700+ shots  – these are some of my personal favorites.  Most are not in the blog.  Enjoy.

Michael g

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Going home – We caught a flight at 10:30 to Paris, and then a 10+-hour flight from Paris to Houston. The flight to Houston was only about 60% full so we were able to spread out and watch movies. Overall the flight was enjoyable. Air France was our carrier for all of our flights. They were exceptional! The food was great and there was no additional charge for anything. I highly recommend Air France. We reached Houston at 8pm and Terri Smith was waiting to pick us up. Thank you Terri!  I have to say that even with all we experienced it is good to be home.

Friday morning we  got off the ship  in Barcelona at 9:00am and were at the Renaissance Hotel by 9:30. We checked in and again we were given a blessing of a  room upgrade to the Elite Section were breakfast and dinner was served at no extra charge. That is a good thing when you consider the when you exchange $100 US Dollars they gave you $70 Euros. Eating out can become quite expensive. We decided to lazy around the hotel and see Barcelona on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday Morning we got up about 10-am, ate breakfast and caught a shuttle at 1pm to “THE LA RAMBLA”. Barcelona is to Spain what New York City is to the USA. Barcelona is a city that is attempting to be more modern and progressive than Madrid. Sometimes it works – sometimes it struggles.   LA RAMBLA is to Barcelona what  Time Square is to New York City. It is a hub of activity 24/7 and is crowded with both tourist and Spaniards. Barcelona is known for its pickpockets and bag snatchers, but we prepared ourselves and were very aware very of our surrounding. We had no problems at all. Once you get off the main street and back into the side streets, it is very pleasant. There were many small shops and cafes to enjoy at a leisurely pace. The architecture was beautiful and a joy to appreciate and photograph.   It was Interesting to notice that this part of Barcelona was primarily a  younger crowd, mostly between 18 and 30. What this is all about I am not sure, but it was evident. I did not bring my camera with me on Saturday because so many people had warned us about the theft problem. I did not want to lose my camera!  I wished I had since  at least for us the thiefs  were not a problem.   But there is tomorrow. We got back to the hotel at about 7pm and relaxed the rest of the evening.

Sunday morning we got up at about 10am, ate breakfast and took a cab at about 1:30 to the LA RAMBLA for another day of Barcelona – but this time with my camera. Over all we loved just hanging out in this part of Barcelona. There were some historical sites to see in greater Barcelona, but after 19+ days we had seen enough sites for one trip and now it was the time to relax and enjoy this part of the city. The highlights of Barcelona were the street performers, the cafes and shops, the architecture, the marina and the perfect weather. It was one of the most relaxing days of the entire trip. It was the perfect day to end the perfect trip. We got back to the hotel about 8pm, ate dinner and got packed to leave Monday morning for home.

This is our final day at sea and our final day on the ship.  It has been a great cruise.  Royal Caribbean did not miss a beat.  They were absolutely perfect and their attention to detail is to be admired.  And for those of you who know me  – that is saying a lot!  We relaxed today and got ready for Barcelona.

The two pictures of are of our waiter and assistant waiter for the twelve days in the main dining room.  They were very professional and made us feel special.  They always had a smile on their face.  And they were very patient with a table of Texans who think that brown gravy is a staple of any meal.  But I do have to say that brown gravy does not go to well with smoked salmon. Thank you again Royal Caribbean for a great vacation!

As planned, we slept in and ate a big breakfast at about 11:30. After breakfast, we went back to the room and got ready to leave the ship at about 1:45pm to visit Malta. On our way off the ship we passed the pool and for the first time the chefs were grilling chicken, sausage and fajitas. It smelled so good!!! But we were so full from breakfast – how could we eat again?!?!? Well being full never stopped an avid cruiser; Malta would just have to wait! The picture of Tammy in the dining room is where we are eating overlooking the Malta coast.

We finally rolled off the ship at about 2:30 and decided to hired a cab to tour the city.  Originally, we were just going to go shopping but I am so glad that a very nice cab driver convinced us to take a 2-3 hour tour of the island. We had an interesting drive through the city and he took us to the Presidential Palace and Gardens, the Plaza of St. Paul. (Paul was in Malta for 3 months) and finally to a domed Cathedral. All of the sites were amazing and Malta is the cleanest city we have seen so far. When we walked into the Cathedral, I was blown away. We have seen many unbelievable sites but this domed church was absolutely incredible. The detail of the painting was beautiful and the interior of the dome was overwhelming. Wow!!! And check out the pulpit – my first thought when I saw the pulpit was “Mark Brenon”.  Now that is a pulpit to stand in and boldly proclaim the Word! The island is rich with history regarding the Knights, the Roman and the Arabians – I just wish we had another day on the Island. We were able to do a little shopping before we board the ship to sail at 6pm. We loved Malta!

We were at sea today.  It was a welcome rest after a great but long day in Egypt.  This is a Guthrie Day…..Sleeping In!!!  The girls have wanted to go to the rock climbing wall since we got on the ship, and today was the day.  Several days they we out to climb but the wind was blowing way to hard.  They had a great time and it was exciting to see Tammy climb the wall.  They all rang the bell.  Tonight is the second formal night and that means its picture taking night.   I think my little girls have grown up!!!!  As usual, after dinner Sara and Lauren changed, got hot chocolate in the café, went to one of the lounge areas and read until about 12:30 am.  It is a blessing to have girls that choose to enjoy a good book, rather than hit the “Teen Disco” or hang out every night in the video arcade.  Homeschoolers!!   Tomorrow is Malta, and the ship does not dock until about 1:30pm.  So we are planning to sleep late and having a late breakfast….just because we can.  I am kind of getting use to this vacation schedule!

Today was “The Big Day” and it was everything we hoped for. We got up at 5:30 am to get ready and board the tour bus at 7:30 – destination “CAIRO, EGYPT” to see the pyramids and more. The ship had at least 30 buses taking a 2-1/2 hour trip to Cairo, each complete with an Egyptian tour guide and an armed security guard. I have to say prior to the tour, I was slightly concerned about our safety, but looking back I never felt unsafe. Traveling with a big group is the only way to see Egypt! I would not even consider venturing out alone!

Egypt is a very poor nation. I have not seen this type of poverty since I was in Mexico. There are cars, horses, and donkeys on the same street – in the city. This was evident in both Alexandria and Cairo. Witnessing this poverty was quite sobering to say the least.

When we arrived in Cairo we went straight to the pyramids. It truly was one of those – “I cannot believe we are actually here moments”. The pyramids are huge and spectacular but another amazing reality is that they are actually in the city of Cairo. Cairo is built around the pyramids and the Sphinx. I had always imagined them to be out in an open desert. The girls went into the burial chamber in one of the pyramids. The path to get to the chamber was maybe 4 ft x 4ft – I tried it and chickened out. The pathway was way too small for me and about half way in I turned around and came out! We went to another burial tomb that was the size of a normal room with original hieroglyphics on the walls. It was incredible – I just wish they had let us take cameras in. Each of the girls rode a camel for about 10 minutes. We went to a museum with a huge statue of Ramses II and other ancient artifacts dating back to the 19th dynasty. We ate a fantastic buffet lunch at a 5 star hotel in Cairo that was part of the tour, and we went to the papyrus institute where we learned how the ancient Egyptians made papyrus for paper. We got back to the ship at about 9:15pm. It was a long day, but well worth the trip! I can now mark that one off my bucket list and I am grateful that we live in America!

Wednesday we will be in Malta, Thursday at sea, and Friday we finish our cruise in Barcelona where we will be staying for three days.

Cyprus is an island that has a Greek – Egyptian culture and is very close Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. Probably not a great place to hang out for an extended period of time. Cyprus is primarily a beach resort island and offers few tourist attractions. The ship was only in port until 2:30 pm so we caught a shuttle from the ship at about 11:45 to do “a little” shopping. We did get to see a jet ski race which was interesting but overall Cyprus had few attractions enjoy. I guess the cruise line needs somewhere to port between Rhodes and Egypt. Speaking of Egypt – tomorrow is the big day. Egypt is the main event of the cruise other than eating – so early to bed since the tour bus leaves at 7:30.

Wow – what a great day!!! This has to be the best day of the trip so far. Rhodes, Greece is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I have ever experienced. It is right there with Hawaii. Rhodes is a seaside island town. The pace is very slow and the people are very nice. Tourism is their main industry and they treated us with kindness and respect. The coastline is absolutely beautiful with bluest water you can possibly imagine.

We left the ship at about 10:30, hired a taxi and took a 1-1/2 hour tour of the city. Once again, it was just amazing. These people live in paradise. After the tour we spent the rest of our day in the “OLD CITY”. The old city of Rhodes is behind a stone fortress type of wall. Going inside is like stepping back in time. I really can not adequately describe it’s beauty, the pictures will have to do that for me. It is a photographer’s paradise. There were many small shops and outdoor cafes in the commercial part, which might be about half of the old city. The balance of the old city is a residential area where people actually live. Once again, it was like stepping back in time. The girls went shopping as I went through the city on an incredible photo-taking journey. I shot about 500 pictures in Rhodes. At about 2pm I reconnected with the girls and we found a quaint café to have a Greek Gyro Sandwich. A gyro sandwich in Greece is a must! Then we went shopping. This is by far the best selection of original, reasonably priced items that we have seen so far. Their merchandise was not extremely touristy like so many places we visited. Rhodes actually has items that you want to buy. We really enjoyed shopping until about 4pm since we had to be back on the ship by 4:30. The OLD CITY was only about a 10-15 minute walk to the ship and that was a blessing for sure. It is hard to get lost when you can see the ship from the OLD TOWN!!! And not getting lost is a good thing.

I could go on and on about Rhodes, but I will leave you with this – Rhodes is one place where Tammy and I would love to come and stay for 7-10 days to just relax and soak in the beauty. Maybe someday?!?!

Days 9 was another relaxing day at sea. Eat, sleep, swim, eat, eat some more and eat some more……

Day 10 we arrived in Athens, Greece. We left the ship at about 7:45 am for the bus to the Acropolis. It was interesting to see ancient history. I am a fan of Greek architecture and its symmetry. It was great for taking photographs!

Athens is a very crowded city. It is basically white and grey with not much color except for an occasional red tile roof or a colored awning. Athens also has to be the graffiti capital of the world! It is on almost every building. After the tour we came back to the ship at about 2:30 to eat lunch and relax until dinner at 8:30.