Blog Intro and Update – Rivers and WiFi – Grrrrrrr

I should have learnt by now that Rivers and Wi-Fi are rarely compatible!!   Certainly the Dnieper is no exception, so will try to post this as text only and when we get back to the joys, (or are they perils ?) of Internet access I will upload an avalanche of photos etc.

I suspect that some of you may need a “nudge” to let you know that I am up and blogging again.   Apologies if you get it more that once and feel free to ignore it etc…..

Flew from Malaga to Instanbul on Thursday with Turkish Airlines – whom, I have to say, have some of the most miserable and unfriendly crew that I have ever encountered.   They make EasyJet ground staff (a distant memory for me since they dumped me in Madrid Airport overnight on my birthday a few years ago without so much as an apology) positively welcoming!!

Anyway, I arrived at the new Istanbul Airport, which in April, replaced overnight the old one.    A logistical feat that makes anything that RWP may have achieved in the past seem relatively insignificant!!     A magnificent facility which once they can work out how to use it, should be a huge improvement on its predecessor!!    Cavernous terminals with every sort of electric vehicles zooming around in all directions – Buggies, Wheelchairs, Seways, scooters, luggage carts, etc – potential for total carnage once they add pedestrians to the mix  !! All driven/ridden by young volunteers wearing purple “Can We Help You ?” tee-shirts, which of course if you manage to stop one and ask, without getting run over – they can’t,  as they don’t know how it all works either !!     Plenty of room for improvement and I am sure – as with Terminal 5 at Heathrow a few years ago – will get better with time.    No lounges open yet so took refuge overnight in Yotel (an offshoot of Yo Sushi but without the fish !) another brainchild of my old mate Simon Woodroffe – compact, clean, comfortable and inside the terminal.

Up at dawn for the onward flight to Kiev – more unsmiling Turkish Airlines personnel – who I managed to navigate without any frustration induced strangulation!!!    Arrived in Kiev and connected with the Viking Cruises Team and Viking Sineus {which I am sure means something in Ukrainian} – my shipboard home for the next 10 days.     All excellent although with 200 passengers – my largest yet, and a reminder of my Southampton induced vows never to “cruise on large ships” – and, for my liking, slightly too many fellow passengers.    Its taken a couple of days to identify and target a couple of dinner companions – hopefully for the remainder of the cruise who hail from somewhere called Fargo {N or S Dakota?} in the US – great company so far and a taste for fine wine and the good life.   Needless to say I can’t remember their names so will need a memory jog when we reconnect later!!  OK it’s a fair cop I have has to slide “off the wagon” for a few days, though fully intend to clamber back on board when I get home in a couple of weeks !!

Kiev was – as expected – amazing.    Golden domes and mosaics – also the holiest Lavra (monastery to you and me) in the Russian/Ukrainian  Orthodox Religion with caves full of dead saints and monks.

Am starting to realise that any exploration of matters historical, seldom avoids some pretty gruesome stuff – and Kiev is no exception – with WW2 German and Russian atrocities including the horrors of the gorge at Babi Yar.     Once I get this blog up and running there will be a posting dedicated to Babi Yar which those of you of a squeamish nature may want to avoid.   Suffice it to say, that for someone who recently got back from the Cambodian killing fields, it makes them seem like a “walk in the park” which of course is how all these atrocities seem to start out !!!     Man’s inhumanity to Man never ceases to astound, and reinforces my belief and appreciation that my lifespan has indeed been blessed – never having to deal with, or witness any of that shit !!

I have decided to forego today’s shore excursion in Kemenchuk as it was destined to be a day of “home visits” (think Dachas and Dumplings) which with 5 x 40 seat coaches crammed to capacity, is my idea of hell !!!    So have stayed on board to catch up on blog text and sorting out photos etc.     Also hoping that Wi/Fi may reappear now that 200+ iPhones and iPads have “left the building – though not holding my breath as the crew will probably give it a good hammering now that the “guests” have pissed off for the day !!

It looks as though I may be about to get this text version posting so watch this space and I will attempt a more photo inclusive version later………..

R

Upcoming Travel Alert

Doesn’t seem that long ago that I was getting back from Vietnam in February.    Memories still linger – Thanks to Rehahn’ amazing photos……..

Quite a lot has happened since, including a hernia operation (BIG Ouch !!!!) and various other medical stuff.     Other news includes that I have been virtually alcohol free since November.  A major shock to the system and, though I hate to admit it, has made a huge improvement to my health – both physical and mental !!!    No more anti-depressants and many other ailments (blood pressure etc) have normalised which can only be good !!

Also it means that I don’t trip over the dogs as often which is also a good thing !!!

Anyway am off on my travels again later this week.     Off to Kiev and then a cruise down the Dnieper through Ukraine to Odessa

Ukraine Map

Then 5 days in Istanbul

Istanbul - Blue Mosque_20190306_171530

with a side trip to Ephesus (Amazing Roman and Greek city and also where St John looked after Mary (Yup Jesus’ Mum) in AD37  where she spent the last years of her life).

Ephesus

Trying to book a day trip to Chernobyl whilst in Kiev but scheduling may restrict me to a visit to the Museum in Kiev so may have top come back for that one !!    Should be interesting in Ukraine, now that the new President is a comedian, and also since the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has broken away from the Russians who have always considered the “Lavra” in Kiev to be their holiest site and are well pissed off about it !!

So should be much to report and blog etc.   Always Wi-Fi permitting of course but it is getting globally better, especially with the help of those clever Chinese chaps at Huawei who have some great SIM charged gadgets that enable internet access almost (and I stress almost !!) anywhere these days !!

So log in and “follow” if you can be bothered.   feel free to “comment” etc.    And stay in touch ………….