A special thank you to my parents for giving me this bucket list experience, I never imagined that I would be able to travel to Russia since being diagnosed with ALS. A lesson to me that ALS is not an excuse to give up on my dreams!
Thank you to my amazing cousins Emily & Jessica and my aunt Elizabeth for joining us in London at the historical Fortnum & Masons for a lovely catch-up, I am very lucky to have such a loving family. It was extra special to spend time doing a puzzle (as many of you know one of my favourite activities) with my first cousin once removed (how awful does that sound, who came up with this stuff?) Sebastian. Emily's son, who is extra adorable and seemed to know that we were family as he doled out hugs to all of us.
Also, a big thank you to Coral, Megan & Sherryn for coming to London to spend time with Travis & I. We had such a great time together, the weather was beautiful and we walked & wheeled the streets of London ending up at dinner at Jamie's Italian, one of Travis's favourite chefs.
Both visits reinforce to me that it is not the quantity of life experiences and/or time spent with family, but the quality the matters. Even though we were in London for such a short time, the memories are precious.
We embarked on our cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse in Southampton. I was very impressed with the accessibility of the ship. It was the most accessible place I have ever experienced! Even within the washrooms the doors were push button, with a push button lock and large enough for me to fit my wheelchair into. When Travis inserted the key into the lock of our cabin, the door opened automatically. I had a roll in shower and the ship even lent us one of their wheelchairs with big wheels for the length of the cruise. It was a lifesaver as many of the cities we visited had cobblestones and curbs and Travis easily maneuvered the chair, which we could not have done with my chair as it has small wheels. Even the buffet had plenty of room for me to navigate through and on top of that it was delicious! It made me think of Don, he would have looooved that buffet with fresh, hot food made in front of you including, fish & chips, indian, fresh salads, hot thin crust pizza and sushi. It even had an ice cream bar, the staff would give us bowls of candy including Reece's Pieces without the ice cream to take back to our room. I can picture Don's incredulous face over that one! I used to be a buffet snob, but no longer!
I have 5 new countries to add to my list! I can't say enough about Scandinavia, Europe & Russia. Such an overwhelming sense of history. So much to say, I've of course highlighted all of the awesome things we experienced on the Travel page of the blog, and have included pictures on the Gallery page.
Copenhagen, Denmark was our first stop after 2 relaxing days at sea. It was wonderful to be able to walk off the ship and be in the heart of the city. We visited the King's Gardens and Rosenborg Castle in the sunshine. It was amazing when we wandered onto the walking street called the Strøget. Established in 1962 and at 1111 metres long, it is the world's longest and oldest pedestrian street. It was wonderful to be among the buzz of shoppers and street performers without having to worry about cars and cobblestone!
It was raining when we arrived in Stockholm, Sweden, but that gave us the opportunity to see the Vasa Warship. It was built between 1626 and 1628 and is the world's only preserved 17th century warship. Meant to be the most powerful warship in the Baltic if not the world, commissioned by King Gustav II Adolf, within minutes of sailing 1300 metres, it sank. The story of raising the Vasa from the sea and it's preservation is a feat of mastery and worth a read.
As I am no longer able to walk, I had researched wheelchair accessible tours. I must thank Cory Lee for his website Curb Free with Cory Lee, as he puts it "SHARING THE WORLD FROM A WHEELCHAIR USER'S PERSPECTIVE" an invaluable tool for continuing to travel regardless of mobility issues.
How do I call myself lucky when living with a terminal illness that leads to paralysis? It is never forgetting what others have sacrificed for our freedom.