A Travellerspoint blog

A Weekend in Aspen, Colorado

semi-overcast -5 °C

When my friend Susan Beckman invited me to visit her in Aspen I jumped at the chance. Her apartment, very close to the gondola and ski lifts on Aspen Mountain is about 8,200 feet above sea level so she strongly suggested I see my doctor before coming. But having hiked in the Alps many years ago I ignored her recommendation and paid the price. Here is a description of Acute Mountain Sickness (Altitude Sickness):

"Acute mountain sickness (AMS) can occur above 2,400 metres (8,000 feet), although in some people it can also present at lower elevations. Altitude sickness affects about 40% of people to some degree at a moderate altitude (about 10,000 feet). Symptoms may become evident about 6 hours after ascent, but sometimes as quickly as one hour. Headache is the most common altitude sickness symptom, which will occur in the presence of other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, increased heart rate, and insomnia. Exertion such as hiking, skiing or snowboarding aggravates the symptoms".

I arrived on Friday, didn't feel too bad Saturday but couldn't even go out Sunday. While I didn't have insomnia my heart was skipping beats and I had trouble breathing. On Monday I felt some better and flew home. Once inside the pressurized aircraft I could breathe easier and my heartrate settled down. Now five days later I am almost back to normal but had an electrocardiogram and chest exray as soon as I got home. So let this be a warning and see your doctor before travelling to a high altitude. There are medications to alleviate the condition. The former astronaut Buzz Aldrin.....who is my age.....just had to be air-lifted from the South Pole where he also had AMS.

Aspen is a former silver mining town which was settled over one hundred years ago. So while a skiing town now it has an interesting history, is a simply lovely place surrounded by mountains with the Roaring Fork River( a tributary of the Colorado) flowing through it.

Susan's Apartment

Town Centre about five minutes walk away from the apartment

A park on the Roaring Fork River honouring John Denver

Posted by douglasw 19:18 Archived in USA Comments (0)

European Cruise on the Norwegian Star

Visiting seven countries on one trip.

all seasons in one day 22 °C

I asked my good friend Susan Beckman if she would like to accompany me on a repositioning cruise from Copenhagen to Barcelona. Fortunately for me she agreed. The ship is now on its way to Dubai after some Mediterranean ports. First a word about the ship. Both Susan and I were very impressed with the cleanliness, service and food. Although this is an older ship it was spotless and the well trained staff were both friendly and efficient. So, while the itinerary is the most important thing to me I have no hesitation in recommending the Norwegian Star.

Our first stop after Copenhagen was Oslo. From there we stopped at the following ports: Rotterdam, Zeebrugge, Belgium from where we visited Brussels and met a friend of Susan's for a walk about and lunch, Le Havre and Le Verdon in France, then Gijon,Spain and on to Lisbon, back into Spain to the beautiful port of Cadiz. Last stop before Barcelona was in Valencia. I won't try to describe them except to say every stop was very enjoyable. The weather was cool the first half of our trip but summer-like as we headed south. And we managed to avoid rain until Barcelona where it really poured. They needed it and we didn't let it dampen our spirits. From Barcelona we took the TGV....France's high speed train for a day in Perpignan, France.

Thus endeth a lovely vacation as Susan and I each headed home.


Oslo, Norway


Rotterdam, Holland


Brussels, Belgium

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Gijon, Spain


Soulac-sur-Mer, France

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Lisbon, Portugal

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Valencia and Cadiz, Spain


Perpignan, France

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Barcelona, Spain

A little postscript: I think our visits to the 4 Gats Restaurant and the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona were really special. Gaudi's masterpiece has been under construction for over 100 years. It should be finished in 2026. I hope to visit it again then.

Posted by douglasw 18:58 Comments (0)

A Week in Ontario

Family time in Toronto, Muskoka, St Catharines and Welland

overcast 22 °C

My son, Doug, invited me to come for a visit and of course I was quick to accept. On my first day in Toronto we had a barbeque at his house with my oldest grandchildren Tanya and Shannon and their families as well as grandson Chris and his partner Miriam. Shannon just got engaged to Ryan who has shown up on some of my earlier Blogs so that added to the festivities.

The next day Doug and I drove to his cottage in Muskoka where we joined my daughter-in-law Linda and granddaughter Carolyn. Unfortunately the weather was grey and drizzly but on the occasional breaks we ate on the deck, went for a walk and a boat ride. That gave lots of time for pleasant conversation, reading and watching DVD's in the evenings.

Back in Toronto it was my great pleasure to take Tanya and Shannon out to lunch one day and their Mother, Wendy on another. Then I borrowed Doug's car and drove to Niagara to visit my sisters-in-law Bev and Fran. I always enjoy doing that. So ended a terrific family vacation. Oh, one thing, Doug found it nerve wracking waiting for me to get back from Niagara........as bad as waiting up for teen-agers!

IMG_2028.jpg Four generation picture with Doug, Tanya, Justin and Ethan

IMG_2030.jpg Out on the boat with Doug, Linda and Carolyn

IMG_2039.jpg A few pictures in Pt Dalhousie where Bev and I had lunch. Their War Memorial has been restored with a walkway of individual memorials including one to my father who actually served with the R.A.F. From 1940- 1945.

IMG_2035.jpg Visiting St Catharines always makes me nostalgic so I took this picture of the house my grandfather, Albert, visited when his grandmother lived there. Isn't it lovely? Imagine she was my great-great Grandmother.

Posted by douglasw 20:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

A month in the south of France

sunny 25 °C

Having spent a month each year for nine years at L'Institut de Francais in Villefranche-sur-mer I decided to try something different. Aude Fauche' was my first teacher there and we are Facebook friends. So having heard she was now giving private French lessons in person and via Skype I asked if she could fit me in. With Aude's help I found a nice apartment in the old town which was founded in the 1200's and had eight three hour lessons over a two week period. And I had made up my mind to live only in French while in France which has been easy to do in this town. The few people who switched to English to help me out were very happy to go back to French when I asked.

Fortunately for me my friend Susan Beckman, who helped me attain Advanced status at L'Institut last year, joined me for a week during which we treated ourselves to wonderful lunches at the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat and Le Colombe d'Or in St Paul de Vence. Our lunches and dinners in town weren't too shabby either. One day we took the train to Ventimiglia across the border into Italy. Another day we met a fellow classmate from the Institut, Janet Owens and her friend Steve for lunch and we also had dinner with Elizabeth, the Institut's Secretary.

Those who have followed my Facebook posts already know I have been swimming regularly and walking my legs off. I particularly enjoyed the first day of summer celebrations during which across France there are free concerts. And because Euro 2016 is underway I have followed the football games with keen interest while hoisting a pint at my favourite spot "Chez Betty". Betty has always been happy to help me with my French as has everyone else. Oh yes, I climbed up the famous Nietzsche Pathway between Eze-sur-mer and the perched village of Eze.

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B42EF5A7DCC7B19FAFD1F77423E15C25.jpg This picture of Aude and me was taken at the cafe where we spent the second half of each lesson, Les Palmiers on the seafront. The lessons were a real pleasure and I learned a lot too thanks to Aude.

Posted by douglasw 06:23 Archived in France Comments (0)

Vancouver visit from my son Doug and our weekend in Quesnel

semi-overcast 13 °C

When my son said he was coming to Vancouver on business and wanted to spend some time with me I was extremely pleased. And as it turned out his trip coincided with his sister Melinda's birthday. So I suggested we fly to Quesnel for the occasion. And we did! I have described Quesnel in previous Blog entries so suffice to say we had a great visit with lots of laughs, good natured bantering and probably too much eating and drinking. Then yesterday I met Melinda, my granddaughter Andrea and great granddaughters Kenzue and Erika at Vancouver airport on their way to Disneyland. And to cap it all off Doug treated me to an upscale dinner last night. I saw him off this morning on his way home.


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Posted by douglasw 17:31 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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