A Travellerspoint blog


On the way

sunny 72 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

We arrived in London, large_d4f77690-7c56-11e9-baa5-570029abd48b.jpgwere berthed in the river at Greenwich, and then “docked” ourselves at the Oxford and Cambridge Clubwhere large_d3337f70-7c56-11e9-bd2e-11cafa7b9e18.jpg

we have had a splendid time. So far we have had lunch with Hugh Bryant, dinner with George and Louise Browning, lunch with Mary Quinlan, Mary’s daughter Carrie and Carrie’s fiancée Allie, dinner with Alice Griffin and her friend Gail, and lunch with Teresa Morgan. In addition we have loved seeing Shaul and Monique Ezer, friends from the Silver Whisper who are staying at the O&C too. We’ve been to the Churchill War Rooms (line too long), the Royal Academy (nice show on the history of painting nudes), to Apsley Tailor to pick up a coat that Hope was fitted for in Hong Kong many months ago. At New & Lingwood next door, the haberdasher displayed an outfit that looks quite, well, episcopal. large_d529f840-7c56-11e9-86fb-dddae813c1f3.jpg

We are often asked “where was your favorite place on the world cruise," and we have no answer. There was the school in Ghana, where students were fascinated by Bill’s white hair. There was Nuka Hiva, our first port after a loooong Pacific crossing, where we called Lee Adams and heard news from home. There was Shanghai cooking school where we learned the intricacies of making dumplings, and the elephant sanctuary in Bali where Dumbo put a flower wreath on Hope’s head. We were honored and moved every Sunday with the privilege of providing worship for our faithful congregation aboard ship and the joy of writing sermons while sitting on deck chairs! And we couldn’t stop smiling as that congregation made music with their rhythm instruments at our African service. We brought an amaryllis bulb from home and watched it come to life and fill our sitting room with stunning flowers; we saw sunsets that dazzled us. In Japan, we took three classes – how to arrange flowers, how to tie kimonos (Bill looked stunning) and how to do calligraphy. At Silversea events we sailed to the Sydney Opera House and saw a great Bohème, got teary on Robben Island as we stood by Nelson Mandela’s cell, were fêted on the train from Capetown with a violinist, an oysterman, and an acrobat, and were wowed by another acrobat who entertained us at the Guggenheim in Bilbao. We laughed a lot when we ended up at a MacDonalds in Morocco (we were looking for a restaurant on first day of Ramadan). We went on safari for three days and flew over the Cook Islands; we were part of a rescue effort after a ferry capsized in São Tome.

Best of all were the people, as always, those we met in far away places, those we grew to love aboard ship, and especially those we knew from years past and were privileged to meet again.

Today we went to the Chelsea Flower Show (flowers and pensioners below), tomorrow we fly home, eager to meet Bryan and Julie’s new dog Clay,


eager to see children and grandchildren, eager to be back at St. John’s, West Hartford, and filled with thanks for the opportunities we have had to go around the world in 140 days.

Posted by HopeEakins 22:56 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)


And the sublime Mont St-Michel

sunny 60 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

On the northern coast of France, the 17th century ramparts of St. Malo face the elegant chateaux of Dinard across the Rance estuary. Sailing between them gives you a stiff neck because your head turns back and forth and back and forth taking in these magnificent sights. But we weren’t to see them for long; we left quite early to drive to Mont St-Michel via the lovely medieval town of Dinan, surrounded by beautiful ramparts and planted with lovely and well-planned flower gardens.

Hope was last in Mont St-Michel with her son Bruce in 1983; Bill last visited in 1989. Both of us remember the long causeway crowded with tour busses. No longer so! Because the sea was silting up and connecting this magnificent island with the coast, forward thinking engineers have reconstructed the area, removing the causeway that blocked water flow, and adding a gentle low bridge (along with multiple other complex structures) that allow the water to go freely around the island and wash the silt away. Finally we ate omelets at Mere Poulard and returned to the Silver Whisper.


Posted by HopeEakins 08:37 Archived in France Comments (0)


Into the wine country

sunny 69 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

Another adventure: exploring the magnificent wine regions around Bordeaux. We took a van to Château Fonplégade, a stunning estate in St. Émilion. Oh, how stunning! The vineyard produces a Grand Cru Classé, and every vine, every leaf, every flower bud is meticulously groomed and very beautiful. We traveled through the chalky paths on Range Rovers, riding by the 13th century fountain that gives the Château its name and the little patches of flowers that punctuate the beautiful ranks of vines. We were greeted with a Sauvignon Blanc - surprise - from the owners’ vineyard in the Napa Valley. Denise and Stephen Adams are Americans who fell in love with this ancient vineyard and bought it in 2004. The Adamses must have loved being vintners because they founded Adamvs in California in 2008. When asked how the traditional French received these newcomers, the staff rep suggested that there was at first much suspicion and hesitancy --- all counteracted by the chateau’s commitment to biodynamic cultivation and to maintaining the high classification of their wines. The Adamses also replaced one of the château’s towers, destroyed in WWII, and they completely rebuilt the former stables converting them into a state of the art wine cellar.

Château Fonplègade is an intriguing mixture of the old and new. Beautiful oak barrels lie next to modern cement egg shaped fermentation vats – the latter impart a slight minerality to the wine. The orangery is stunning. There we tasted a Pomerol from another Adams vineyard nearby and the remarkable Château Fonplègade. Oh, my goodness!

We went on to the totally charming village of St. Èmilion where we enjoyed an abundant French petit déjuner at L’Envers du Décor, along with another delicious St. Èmilion. We snoozed on the way back to the ship!

Posted by HopeEakins 00:31 Archived in France Comments (0)


Oh, what a beautiful city

sunny 65 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

The Silver Whisper docked at Le Verdon on the Atlantic Coast. Some of us took a bus to Bordeaux, while the ship sailed up the Garonne River. Our bus route wound through the beautiful vineyards of the Medoc where we stopped at Chateau Margaux and then went into the center of this magnificent city. There we bought CD's to thank the ship's resident pianist who has played faithfully for our worship, had lunch, visited the Cathedral (it was open!), went to a fine bookstore, and then sat for a while in the XVIIth century Église Notre-Dame and watched a spot of sunlight travel through the nave from an oculus above.

In the city, we walked on pedestrian street after pedestrian street. Since silent trams whisk folks to their destinations, cars can be shunted outside the city center, leaving beautiful vistas and easy walking. About six o'clock, we walked our way back to the ship, now berthed in the center of town, so exploring the city will be very easy. See the photos below taken from the ship's deck.large_27722090-76e5-11e9-b091-eba206875f65.jpglarge_ac106f10-76e4-11e9-bf03-8f7d38f48e54.jpglarge_451e9010-76e5-11e9-b091-eba206875f65.jpglarge_4addd0b0-76e5-11e9-b091-eba206875f65.jpglarge_24108af0-7725-11e9-8877-6f94025f0798.jpg2d3a2a40-7726-11e9-89ba-7f5faa110275.jpglarge_1e5f2d00-7725-11e9-8877-6f94025f0798.jpglarge_dc7df100-7724-11e9-8877-6f94025f0798.jpg

Posted by HopeEakins 08:30 Archived in France Comments (1)


There's more than a museum here!

sunny 70 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

After the rockiest sea day we have had in the past 4 1/2 months (not too bad!!! see below) we sailed up the river to Bilbao, Spain, a perfectly beautiful city, reclaimed from industrial squalor and grime through a concerted and determined endeavor that brought the Guggenheim Museum here and built it on the site of an old iron warehouse. Now the warehouse and docks are gone - and power and predominance of iron are incarnated in the Richard Serra sculptures of rolled steel that fill one of the museum galleries.

In the morning we took a funicular to the top of a "mountain" above and looked down on the museum that has changed this city and, in fact, changed the whole Basque Country, converting it to a region of beauty and artistic encouragement and gracious living. The huge museum complex is actually quite small, nestled beside the river in the center of the photo below. After lunch on the mountain top and a walk through the old city (cathedral locked up tight - again), we got dressed up and went to the Museum for a grand extravaganza of events. We were welcomed by a local band and then given an excellent tour of the collections and the current Jenny Holzer show. As our guide spoke, the sound of a string trio echoed through the museum's various soaring spaces. What a treat to be at a private opening of the museum! We could walk through those huge Serra scrolls and feel their dizzying effect without a crush of tourists around us. During the grand dinner with grand wines and grand flowers on the tables, a Basque youth choir sang for us and an acrobat twirled overhead. As we left, huge lighted puppets danced in the plaza. large_687275b0-7625-11e9-984c-e57dc115e9de.jpglarge_c171f7d0-7625-11e9-984c-e57dc115e9de.jpglarge_d7916b90-7625-11e9-984c-e57dc115e9de.jpglarge_7ec0e8b0-7625-11e9-984c-e57dc115e9de.jpglarge_18abf1a0-7625-11e9-984c-e57dc115e9de.jpglarge_69aa8080-7625-11e9-984c-e57dc115e9de.jpglarge_07459920-7625-11e9-984c-e57dc115e9de.jpglarge_7310a5e0-7621-11e9-acd0-db183ba41098.jpglarge_a14ebbf0-7625-11e9-984c-e57dc115e9de.jpglarge_6b066700-7625-11e9-984c-e57dc115e9de.jpglarge_ba8051b0-7625-11e9-984c-e57dc115e9de.jpglarge_c26a6190-7625-11e9-984c-e57dc115e9de.jpg

Posted by HopeEakins 09:11 Archived in Spain Comments (0)


May 12, 2019

sunny 62 °F

Worship aboard the Silver Whisper on Sunday, May 12, 2019

HYMN: For the beauty of the earth


Give thanks to God and call upon his name.
Make known his deeds among the peoples.

Let us pray. O God of unchangeable power and light: Look favorably on all that you have made. By the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation. Let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands; *
serve the Lord with gladness and come before his presence with a song.

Know this: The Lord himself is God; *
he himself has made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise; *
give thanks to him and call upon his Name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; *
and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ When he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’ (17:11-19)

Reflection The Reverend Hope H. Eakins

“The other nine, where are they?” asks Jesus. Were not ten made clean? And only one has remembered to say thank you? The other nine, where are they? Well, sorry, Lord, but we are the other nine and we are right here in the Show Lounge on the Silver Whisper. And like the lepers, we forget to give thanks to you for the blessings that are ours.

The right word IS forget. It’s not that we are ingrates, entitled people, unappreciative folks. It’s just that we forget to express our appreciation to you, Lord. It’s not that we aren’t thankful for our life and loves, our health and education and the privilege of travel. It’s just that we get busy and forget to tell you so.

We can understand the nine lepers, for we are like them. Healed of the disease that separated them from all that they loved, they ran out in joy to hug and laugh and rejoice. They weren’t unthankful to Jesus; they just forgot to tell him so.

They forgot and we forget. This is why Muslims send a muzzein out onto a minaret five times a day to call people to prayer, to remind them to kneel down and humble themselves and worship. This is why the people of Ghana give their shops names like God is King Tailoring. Did you see them? Did you see the I Thank God Bike Shop, and the best of all, the beauty salon named With God All Things Are Possible? Our forgetfulness is why God spoke to Moses from Mt. Sinai and gave us the commandment to keep holy the Lord’s Day, to set aside a time every week to remember how blessed we are, to remember that we have so much while so many have so little.

I think that perhaps the best souvenir (which means a remembrance) we could take home from this World Cruise would be a new practice of thanksgiving, a new pattern of naming our blessings, a regular time for appreciation. Perhaps it could be at the beginning of every day before you get out of bed, or at the beginning of every golf game, or as you walk to the mail box or walk the dog; perhaps you could say grace out loud at dinner or keep a notebook with a place to name the things that bring you joy and delight. Perhaps you could write something or draw something for which you give thanks and put the papers into a jar or a basket and become aware of how many blessings are yours.

At the end of the Gospel story, Jesus says this to the leper who returned to give thanks: “Get up and go your way.”
We can go OUR way home from this incredible journey to continue our lives taking for granted all that has happened to us. Or we can fall on our knees and say “Thank you, God.” Then we shall go on our way made whole, people filled with humility and profound gratitude and joy.


Let us give thanks for all God’s gifts so freely bestowed upon us.
For the beauty and wonder of creation, in earth and sky and sea,
We thank you, Lord.
For our mothers who gave us life and all who have served as mothers to us,
We thank you, Lord.
For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women,
We thank you, Lord.
For homes and families and friends old and new,
We thank you, Lord.
For minds to think, hearts to love, and hands to serve,
We thank you, Lord.
For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play,
We thank you, Lord.
For the brave and courageous, who risk much for our sake,
We thank you, Lord.
For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice,
We thank you, Lord.
For those who have taught us our faith in many times and ways,
We thank you, Lord.
For the diversity of races and cultures in this world that enrich our lives,
We thank you, Lord.
For tasks which demand our best efforts, and for accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.
We thank you, Lord.
For disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you,
We thank you, Lord.
Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus who taught us to pray,

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

At this time, you are invited to reflect on something for which you give thanks, note it on the card you have been given, and put it in the envelope. The usher will collect these thanksgivings in a basket and place it upon the altar. After the service, the clergy will dispose of the envelopes reverently.


Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise God all creatures here below
Praise God above ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you now and always. Amen.

HYMN: Now thank we all our God


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Officiants: The Reverend Hope Eakins, The Reverend William Eakins
Music: Alex Manev
Altar Guild: Jane Kline, Directress, Jill Ingham
Usher: Doug Kline

Posted by HopeEakins 05:35 Archived in Spain Comments (0)


Home port for explorers

sunny 69 °F

Lisbon is beautiful, and we are docked on the Tagus River in its center. (The first photo below is taken from the ship.) We saw the city driving through broad boulevards lined with jacaranda trees abloom in purple, then on a tram winding through narrow alleys bounded by houses covered with tiles. Fountains dot the corners; churches are everywhere. There are signs of Roman and Moorish influence, many statues to the explorers they honor (like Vasco de Gama), and few structures from pre-1755 when an earthquake devastated the city and killed a quarter of its occupants.

On our tram ride we were served glasses of port (at 10 am!) and sweets called Pastels de nata de Belem. Belem means “Bethlehem;” like most food, buildings, and institutions here, the name of the pastry has a religious tone. E.g., the legislature of St. Benedict, theater of Sao Carlos, sword of St. James. The lamp posts are mounted with the city’s emblem of St. Anthony; the train station is that of St. Apollonia. Hagiography is alive and well here.

St. Jeronimos Monastery is huge and now morphed into two museums; its Church is huge and dark with a nice ceiling of palm tree design and a highly carved south portal. Confessionals line one wall facing this door, the door the sailors used – it was assumed they had sins to confess before worshipping!

We returned to the ship to find a balloon bouquet on our bed celebrating our wedding anniversary. Margaret Adams, if you look closely at the wall, you will see the drawing you made for us posted there!!


Posted by HopeEakins 09:33 Archived in Portugal Comments (1)


A palace, a cathedral, and a festival

sunny 70 °F

Our cruise generally visits ocean ports, but yesterday we sailed about fifty miles up the Guadalquivir River to dock in the center of the gracious and beautiful city of Seville, arriving about 10:30 pm. Although we were told that this was nowhere near too late for the Spanish to dine out, we decided to eat on the ship and get ready for the big day tomorrow. A big day it was. Our feet hurt.

We first went to Alcazar, the huge fortress/castle built for Pedro of Castile in the 14th century. Pedro was a Christian King with deep affection and respect for Islam, so he built his palace on the site of a Muslim residential fortress destroyed when the Christians conquered Seville. The intertwining of Moorish and Spanish architecture is stunning. Long Arabic Quranic inscriptions surround bands of crosses. Room after room, hall after hall, flow in splendid order, looking out at the magnificent gardens - with one exception: the grotto wall (see below) looks rather like some disease has got inside the plaster and extruded globs of twisted accretions. Well, that’s our opinion.

Near the entrance to the palace sits the Treasury and its chapel. The Treasury served as a repository for all the riches from the New World, brought back to Seville and sailed up the river. At the entrance is a large painting of the Virgin Mary hovering over the Niña, the Piñta, and the Santa Maria.

Next we walked to the third largest church in the world (after St. Peter’s, Rome, and someplace in Brazil). Seville’s Cathedral is called Santa Maria de la Sede – St. Mary’s of the See, the See being the local Diocese. The place looks like it has been designed for diocesan clergy, and the rest of the people of God don’t count. The huge space is bisected by a central choir with high walls, so the folks can’t see the altar; only the professional holy people get a look at it. Even when you turn the corner and get a glimpse of the huge gold reredos, it is behind a mammoth metal gated fence. Everything is behind fences, except the massive tomb of Christopher Columbus and his son. A clamor of tourists sweeps back and forth; many cases scattered throughout the nave hold displays of vessels and vestments, the vestments so encrusted with gold braid that it would take a football player to wear them.

The cathedral’s huge square bell tower (Giralda) is the tallest in the world, so large that you can ride a horse up inside it on special ramps. That is what was done at the mosque formerly on this site – a muezzin rode up the tower to call people to prayer. The orange garden at the entrance surrounds the ancient fountain, once at the center of the ancient Islamic courtyard used for ablutions before prayer.

An unpleasant lunch at a restaurant called La Canasta followed. Bill ordered a club sandwich; one of the plastic picks in each quarter had broken into pieces, one of which Bill swallowed. He is still alive.

Then after a long walk to the shuttle bus to the ship, we took a long walk to the Feria de Abril Festival. This is a grand extravaganza, a Spanish version of the Eastern States Exposition or any state fair. The Feria occupies a huge area dominated by an enormous building constructed anew each year. Elegant carriages swept people through its paths, their horsemen garbed in fashionable livery and their horses decorated with lace caps on their ears. From time to time, industrial water trucks sprayed the abundant horse poop and dust. Seville’s women and girls swept by in flamenco dresses, swirling their skirts. The streets were lined with casitas de Sevilla, large marquee tents decorated to the hilt and filled with tables and chairs and a dance stage. Flamenco music sounded noisily from each one as people danced on the stage and around every table. Even the smaller girls danced, dressed in little flamenco costumes, wearing lipstick and big earrings and flowers atop their heads and managing the Sevillaña dances even when they are quite little. The casitas are constructed each year by local families and groups (the Spanish Communist Party had one); our tent, for the Port of Seville, was larger than most. Plates of tapas: shrimp, potato pancakes, Iberian hams, and bread were served, along with a pitcher of rebujito, a mixture of sherry, water, and a carbonated drink, specially concocted for the festival.

Amazingly, we returned to the ship and had supper on the deck as the sun set.

Posted by HopeEakins 19:45 Archived in Spain Comments (0)