Not many families have the advantage of a pro to do their Christmas video. Here is John Trippe's account of our Christmas: http://youtu.be/M9FYx94h7ls
I am not a fan of cruises -- seems lately that there are too many guys who look like me who take cruises. It is a bit like opera on Sunday afternoon -- you are relieved to see someone younger than you are. The cruise ships have exploded in number and size, bringing prosperity to provincial coastal towns, and of course dramatically changing what made those places so attractive in the first place. But it is hypocritical to complain about the effects of tourism when you are a tourist yourself -- a point well made by Rick Steves many years ago. It is much better to do your best to enjoy the people you meet and let them know how you appreciate their land and customs. There is the undeniable advantage of seeing places that there really is little practical way to visit otherwise, but it is hard to get away from the feeling that you are in a prosperous capsule (US dollars and 110 volts) floating from one tourist location to another. One good thing about the capsule is its international staff, who are unfailingly cheerful (good training, I am sure) and make you happy to be around them. And the triumph of gaining only 2.5 lbs despite having 4 meals a day. Louis de Berniere's Birds Without Wings made a wonderful trip companion to our stops in Turkey and Greece, and somewhat to Italy as well. Lawrence In Arabia (Scott Anderson), absolutely obligatory for T. E. Lawrence nuts, fleshed out Birds nicely but was too heavy to pack.
Above: Another sunrise from the deck.
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