2012 APHC At Sea Amsterdam-Barcelona

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Notes from your cruise host

May 24, 2012

The Great 2012 Prairie Home Cruise to España is four months away and in my house anticipation is building among the three ladies who are Coming With (as we say in Minnesota). To deal with my jet lag (which turns me into a zombie for days on end) we are heading for Europe early and taking an overnight train from Amsterdam to Copenhagen to visit old friends. I am, believe it or not, a good friend of the first husband of my second wife and I'll see him and a couple of American exiles and we'll take the ferry to Sweden to visit some lively young cousins, and come back to Amsterdam to make the rounds of great museums, and then, in a cheery mood, board the ms Ryndam on August 18 for ten days sailing south along the coast to the Mediterranean and beautiful Barcelona.

There are a few windows in life when you have freedom to travel, in your restless twenties and then after the kids are out of the house and after retirement. Or when you're about to be indicted for mail fraud. Or when you feel mortality tapping you on the shoulder. Or when you are feeling lucky. I have a 14-year-old daughter and no intention of retirement and mortality hasn't poked me lately, but I admit to being excited about this trip to Spain, which I've never seen. The urge to work hard and then work harder is ever strong, of course — that's how we were brought up in the potato fields of Minnesota — and I am hard at work on a screenplay, a collection of verse, a piece for National Geographic about the Twin Cities, a Lives of the Cowboys screenplay, an essay on cheerfulness, a piece for Men's Health about my most recent visit to Mayo, but as one approaches the Biblical Life Span, which I am a couple months away from, you start to relish the ordinary things more and how better to relish the ordinary than to see it in a foreign country. To sit in a coffee shop in Lisbon and see how the Portuguese go about their business and what they wear and how they converse and what they eat for lunch. Others may long to see castles and beaches, I like to look at the ordinary.

This is all by way of apologizing for going to Europe for most of August while other people stay home and do the work. For seeing the sights and sniffing the salt breeze and lying about on deck chairs and reading Don Quixote and For Whom the Bell Tolls and landing in Tangiers — first time on the African continent! Wow! I feel like Vasco de Gama.

Across the street, the maple now
Is leafing greenly on the bough.
The lawn is lush, the flowers bloom,
Their sweet aroma fills the room.
Now of my three-score years and ten,
Sixty-nine won't come again.
Subtract from seventy sixty-nine —
It means I'm soon to cross the line,
And so to ward away the blues,
I think I'll take a little cruise
To Spain and down to the Mediterranean
With friends of the Prairie Home Companean,
Eat Mediterranean food, my dears,
Set foot lightly in Tangiers,
Sing some songs, disperse the gloom,
Come back to St. Paul and resume
And may the neighbors, God forbid,
Ever learn the details, kid,
Of where we went and what we did.

Thanks for accompanying an old workaholic on his vacation and making him enjoy himself. I'll do the same for you someday.

Garrison Keillor


November 21, 2012

The 2012 Prairie Home Companion cruise will be an eleven-day voyage in late August along the coast of Spain and Portugal, a part of Europe that so many friends have said simply must be seen, and so here we go.

The ms Ryndam will carry us all, sailing from Amsterdam, the Venice of the North, on August 18 and landing in Barcelona on August 29. From the canals and gabled houses and the Rembrandt milieu of Amsterdam to the fresh olives in the tapas bars of the fishing port of Vigo, the medieval cobblestone streets of Lisbon, the city that launched Magellan, and the ancient cities of Cádiz and Seville with their great cathedrals and palaces — then a side trip to Tangier to walk under palm-shaded boulevards to the vast markets — we'll go to Málaga to see the Moorish castles, the Picasso museum (it's his birthplace), and visit the Alhambra and its great botanical garden — Valencia, a city of beautiful beaches and majestic gardens — and finally disembark in Barcelona to promenade through the winding streets of the Gothic Quarter and enjoy lunch to a flamenco beat.

It's a world unlike Lake Wobegon, a world of open-air markets, vineyards, the ghost of Hemingway, and we'll explore it together with our cast of fine musicians, naturalists and historians, and the gentle traditions of PHC cruises — the daily glee club, the dance lessons, the book club, the knitting circle, the storytelling evenings, the amateur show, the Embarkation Sing-Along, and the Last-Night Dance.

If this touches your fancy, look at the itinerary on our cruise website.

Your faithful host,
Garrison Keillor

August 185:00pDepart Amsterdam, Netherlands
August 19At SeaNorth Sea
August 20At SeaBay of Biscay
August 218:00a – 5:00pVigo, Spain
August 228:00a – 5:00pLisbon, Portugal
August 23arrive NoonCádiz (Seville), Spain,
overnight stay
August 24depart Midnight
August 258:00a – 5:00pTangier, Morocco
August 268:00a – 5:00pMálaga (Granada), Spain
August 27At SeaMediterranean Sea
August 288:00a – 5:00pValencia, Spain
August 29arrive 7:00aBarcelona, Spain

Cruise Bulletin

Visit our journal of daily updates to see the highlights from this year's cruise — including videos, photos and notes — or relive your time aboard the ms Ryndam

A Prairie Home Companion Cruise is produced by Prairie Home Productions and presented by American Public Media. Ship's registry: The Netherlands.
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