Notes from your cruise host
July 21, 2014
I've been hanging on to the idea of Dover August 9 like a life buoy for almost a year now — through a busy season, the final editing of a book, the writing of a play, a month-long book tour, the 40th anniversary PHC festival, the recording of two months' worth of Writer's Almanac — on the theory that one can endure a crowded schedule so long as one has a Thing of Beauty to look forward to. And two weeks on the Baltic is the Beautiful Thing.
When you are 71, as I now am, life speeds up, you hear the clock ticking, so much to do and less time to do it in, and I've been so busy I haven't had time for family, so I brought a dozen of them along.
The cruise to Spain was glorious and Italy was magnificent, but northern Europe is where my people are from, the mysterious mannerly taciturn industrious stoical people of the north — the Germans who founded our orchestras and libraries, the Danes who introduced cooperatives and dairy farming, the Swedes who made the trains run on time, the Finns who organized unions, the Russian Jews who brought their love of learning and literature, the English who gave us our poetry — and so these foreign streets feel sort of familiar to me. Most people you meet have some Americans in their family tree.
And for us flatlanders, the appeal of the sea the sea I must go down to the sea again never loses its appeal. I'm going to spend some time on the Promenade Deck, in a deck chair inhaling the salt air and thinking large thoughts. Maybe I'll read a book about the Hanseatic League. I'll take my place among the basses at the glee club and I'll sing some duets with Heather and Aoife. After every cruise I ask myself, "Why didn't you play some blackjack?" so maybe I'll do that this year. And along the way, I hope to meet you and sit and converse, which is the real pleasure of travel, as you know. It's a good reward for a busy year, two weeks in pleasant company sailing around the Baltic Sea, and thank you for making it so. I started this radio show because I wasn't doing anything on Saturday nights anyway and I thought it'd be a way to meet people and how right I was. Welcome aboard.
October 8, 2013
I never imagined our old radio show would get into the cruise business, but the Barcelona-Venice trip a couple months ago was such a pleasure, we decided to do one more.
So off we go to the Baltic in August.
We'll sail on the 9th aboard the ms Ryndam from the white cliffs of Dover and head off to visit a string of fabulous northern cities, including Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, and Århus, taking along all the usual suspects and our naturalists and some excellent lecturers, and we'll have a mob sing on the afterdeck as we pull out of Dover, and late-night dances in the Crow's Nest and 7 a.m. choir practice (optional) and more storytelling and lectures about the Hanseatic League and the Revolution of 1917, and a cavalcade of music in the bars and lounges, as the watery world slips by and we take a two-week leave from our ordinary hectic lives. No texting. No email.
Jenny and I did this trip years ago, and the memory is still vivid (in a good way). The thought of walking around Stockholm in August and eating tre slags sild (that's three kinds of herring) at an outdoor café in Copenhagen and walking through the czar's summer palace outside St. Petersburg and the graceful boulevards of Helsinki — that is what is going to cheer me up through the doldrums of March and the book tour in June and the airports and the hotel lobbies and then July 6, the 40th anniversary of the first Prairie Home show, when I am going to feel 103 years old.
A person can get through a strenuous year if you just have something wonderful to look forward to. And I'm looking forward to August 9th and Dover and the walk up the gangway and seeing familiar faces around the Lido pool.
|August 9||depart 4:00p||Dover, England, United Kingdom|
|August 10||At Sea||North Sea|
|August 11||10:00a 8:00p||Copenhagen, Denmark|
|August 12||6:00a 10:00p||Warnemünde (Berlin), Germany|
|August 13||At Sea||Baltic Sea|
|August 14||10:00a 5:00p||Tallinn, Estonia|
|August 15||arrive 7:00a||Saint Petersburg, Russia |
|August 16||depart 6:00p|
|August 17||6:00a 5:00p||Helsinki, Finland|
|August 18||arrive 8:00a||Stockholm, Sweden |
|August 19||depart 5:00p|
|August 20||At Sea||Baltic Sea|
|August 21||8:00a 2:00p||Århus, Denmark|
|August 22||At Sea||North Sea|
|August 23||arrive 7:00a||Dover, England, United Kingdom|
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 »