A Mediterranean and Middle East Adventure

Written by Harold McNeill on May 30th, 2013. Posted in Travelogue


River Beatrice Photo

Tag along on this Blog and the McNeill Life Stories Facebook as GarthEsther, Lynn and Harold embark upon a new adventure that extends from Barcelona, Spain to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
It seems a few hardy souls have backed away from this voyage into antiquity because of perceived dangers, but their choice was our good fortune. Our research suggests most parts of the Middle East is as safe to explore as most other travel destinations, including our friendly neighbour south of the ‘forty-ninth’, the United States of America.

Exploring the Empires of Antiquity

After departing Victoria on November 9, we kick things off in Spain by spending several days becoming acclimatized to the seasonal average temperature of 22 – 26 C. (a little warm for Canadians, but we shall persevere). After savouring the sites, sounds and wines (we have long since learned that wine helps one to acclimatize) of Barcelona, we then join the Oceania Liner  “Nautica” for a 24 day of cruise that will see us meandering across the Mediterranean with stops in Italy and, after passing through the Strait of Messina and crossing the Ionian Sea, will check out Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus.   

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14 Night Hawaiian Land/Cruise Dream Holiday

Written by Harold McNeill on October 16th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


An exotic 14 night Hawaiian dream vacation May 3-17th 2013. Experience the Hawaiian Islands as never before aboard the majestic Radiance of the Sea cruising from island to island, and across the Pacific to the beautiful port of Vancouver. The perfect gift for someone special. (Don’t forget Mother’s day is May 12!)

Perhaps a second honeymoon, anniversary or transition to a well earned retirement is the order of the day?

Arriving from Vancouver by air, you will spend three unbelievable nights enraptured by the inate beauty of Hawaii. Stroll along the famous Waikiki Beach, explore the nightlife of Honolulu, immerse yourself in the history of Pearl Harbour, and explore the many more attractions of Oahu before embarking upon an unforgettable cruise of the Hawaiian Islands and home aboard the Radiance of the Sea.

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Prague: At War and at Peace

Written by Harold McNeill on May 26th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


Photo from Painting
View of the Charles Bridge looking toward the main city centre. Paintings, sketches and drawings, such as the one above, depict various scenes around the city. Many are the work of talented young people trying to make their way in life. For a small donation, the artist allows pictures to be taken.

What ever direction you might travel in Eastern Europe, a few days in Prague is a must.  For Esther, Garth, Lynn and I, a four day extension of our Danube trip was barely enough, however we did manage to savour every last second. We would have gladly stayed for another week just to touch upon the many things that still awaited our eager senses but, alas, time (and booked flights) conspired against our wishes. For other travelers we highly recommend a minimum of one week, perhaps ten days if you can squeeze out the time. A three month stay in Prague and the surrounding country would be heaven.

As with many cities and countries in Eastern Europe emerging from thirty five years of war (World War I and II), then forty-one years of communism, peace comes with a cost, but that cost seems worth every penny in hard cash, blood, sweat and tears. Around the world we see these costs being paid everyday for a small taste of that elusive dream we call freedom. (Reference Footnote on Quebec Student Protests).

Photo (Web): This is typical of the foothill farm country through which we passed. Many of the farms along the highway had seen better times.

Our four hour bus trip from Passau, Germany then across the southern Republic, left no doubt this was a country once held by iron fists, first those of the Nazi’s during two World Wars, then during the decades of an equally brutal Soviet communist dictatorship. As we crossed the now open border from Germany, warnings were still in place advising tourists of the danger of land mines in a strip of ‘no man’s land’ between the two countries and at our one stop for refreshments at a small, remote service station, the feeling of being in another time and another place was clearly evident.

While the countryside was beautiful, much as it is in the foothills of Alberta, the mix of worn down buildings, old railway stations and broken shelters, serve as a reminder of those decades of death and brutal repression. A few stark examples of how ordinary people suffered; following the Nazi occupation, it is estimated over 155,000 persons of Jewish descent (86% of the population) died in the streets, at concentration camps or during ‘death marches’ that took place near the end of the war.

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Camping Close to Home 2012, Inaugural Edition

Written by Harold McNeill on April 24th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


View across the front yard of Leney Place. The story of the Gnome is posted in a footer.

It only took four guys, three chain saws, one chipper, two hours and a bit of bush whacking, to clear a spot as close to home as we could get for our first “Camping Close to Home” experience of the 2012 season.  While driveway camping is “ok”, it just doesn’t feel the same as being surrounded by trees and a bit of grass especially when you look out from your bed at night.  It struck me this spring that I could do better than the driveway, so checked out the angles, trees and shrubs to find the best use of our smaller property.

After two days work this past week, the trailer was moved in, fireplace set up, BBQ moved from the back deck and we were ‘good to go’ for our first BBQ of the season.

As those who live in Victoria know, this week-end really kicked in the feeling that summer is finally on its way. Along with our friends Linda, Bjorn, Sandy and Ron (Sandy and Ron over for the week-end from the Lower Mainland to visit the Island Boat Show in the Inner Harbour), we settled in for an evening of wine tasting, hamburgers, potato salad and corn on the cob. Given the weather we have had over the past few months, it was a treat to sit outside by the fire without feeling one was going to develop hypothermia with those frigid winds blowing in off the water.

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Holland America Cruise Ship Docking in Las Vegas? You Bet Your Booties.

Written by Harold McNeill on April 14th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


Photo: Holland America was the first cruise ship company to take a crack at the lucrative Las Vegas market with planned trips by the newly refurbised MS Westerdam this coming fall. This was made possible by building a giant canal from San Diego to the heart of the strip in Sin City. As with the Panama Canal this was a major undertaking that will surely become a big hit with the cruise companies.  When they complete the planned extension to Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico in 2018, it will add a whole new dimension to the world of crusing.

Hello Friends and Friends of Friends.
A short description of the various stops and photographs from this
amazing adventure are now posted below.
(Scroll to “Narrative and Photo Gallery Links” Below)

 L

Left to Right: Anne, Herb, Lynn, Esther, Garth, Patty, Doug, Ron, Sandy,
Gloria, Jim, Bjorn, Linda, Harold (Absent while on leave for a cruise
through the Canadian Rockies, Roslie and John, Lib and Larry)

For the full set of pictures of the Viva Las Vegas pre cruise party held at the McNeill’s
on September 16, 2012.  LINK HERE

Looking for a little adventure?  Thinking you might like to extend this coming summer by almost two weeks at the beginning of October?  Well, think no more.

Join these fun loving couples: Esther and Garth Dunn, Patty and Doug Cassels, Linda and Bjorn Simonsen, Ann Skelcher and Herb Craig, Sandy and Ron Hall, Gloria and Jim Arnott, Lib and Larry Lohr, Roslie and John Gold (welcome Visitors from Australia),  Lynn and Harold McNeill, as they climb aboard the recently renovated MS Westerdam for an historic cruise that will take us from Vancouver to San Diego (with a brief stop in Astoria, Oregon), then on to Las Vegas for our final 3 nights.

This 10 night package includes 4 nights cruising, hotels in San Diego (3 nights) and Las Vegas (3 nights), transfers, and flights from San Diego to Las Vegas and return to Vancouver.

Itinerary
30 September: Sail from Vancouver at 4:45 pm
1   October: Astoria, Oregon
2/3 October: At Sea
4-6 October: San Diego
7   October: Fly from San Diego to Las Vega
7-9 October: Las Vegas
10  October: Fly from Las Vegas to Vancouver

We will be staying at the Holiday Inn on the Bay in San Diego and the Excalibur ($10 more) in Las Vegas, (The Luxor and Harrahs are two alternate options you may choose from with this package for no additional charge).

Package price begins at $839.00 for an inside cabin (under $1200 with all taxes and fees) – based on double occupancy (other stateroom categories, as well as single and quad rates, are also available).

Patty and Doug have taken advantage of similar re-positioning cruises before and have found them to be of excellent value, with a great itinerary.

If you would like to join with us this fall for 11 days of fun and laughter, please contact Lynn as soon as possible. (With such a great deal, space is limited, – several other itineraries have already ‘Sold Out’.) $250 per person deposit is required to hold your space- refundable up to 90 days before departure.

Contact Lynn by phone, email or Facebook
Office:250 656-5441   Email: lynnmcneill@cruiseshipcenters.com
Harold Contact: harold@mcneillifestories.com

September 17, 2012: Special Bookings:

World Premier of the Musical “Allegiance” a new American Musical at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.

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Cathedrals, Abby’s and Castles 4/7

Written by Harold McNeill on April 13th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


Entrance to the Benedictine Abbey in Melk, Austria (hdm).

When preparing stories for the Travelogue Section, a question often arises in discussion between Lynn and me as to how much “social comment” or “opinion”, would be appropriate within the context of the story.

For example, when travelling through Steyr or Linz, Austria, our travel guide told a story about a 15,000 seat church built in a nearby city back in the 16th or 17th Century. It took 70 years of sacrifice by the 20,000 residents of the city to pay for the structure as no fund assistance was forthcoming from the Monarchy (the Hapsburgs). It seemed to me that many of the poor would have dedicated their entire life toward the building of that single structure, a structure that would sit largely empty over the centuries. 

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Making friends along the Danube 3/7

Written by Harold McNeill on April 13th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


Photo: This crew of women opened the dance floor each evening, then closed it at some point after midnight. It was a great cruise for the men, for, as the old fifties song goes, “Two Girls for Every Guy”‘

Brazil, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, England and Scotland as well as a sizable number of people from the United States and Canada, were just a few of the fifteen countries represented by guests on the River Beatrice.  Everyone we met, and we met many of the 133 guests, brought special stories of their lives which they freely shared over meals, while touring and, later, over drinks in the lounge. It was a family atmosphere, filled with good cheer and conversation, as we might expect back home during a holiday celebration with guests enjoying the freedom of sharing with family members around the dinner table.

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Life Aboard the River Beatrice 2/7

Written by Harold McNeill on April 13th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


River Beatrice Photo

Photo: Garth, Esther, Lynn and Harold relax in the dining room of the River Beatrice. While the surroundings were elegant and the service exquisite, it was not many meals into the cruise before everyone had the feeling of being among family and friends. With complimentary local wines and beer served at both lunch and dinner, the atmosphere was certainly lively.

Link to Travel Stories Index and Cruise and Vacation Specialist, Lynn McNeill
(The remainder of this travel series is linked at  the bottom of the above index.)

To receive regular notifications of new posts, link to the
McNeill Life Stories Facebook page and click Like.
LINK HERE

It would be difficult to grow up with the affluence that permeates life in North America, particularly as presented on TV and in the movies, without at least once wondering what it might be like to live aboard one of the many superyachts sprinkled throughout the harbours of our nation, a yacht upon which you could invite family and friends and where you would most certainly meet others from the four corners of the earth?

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]

  • Harold McNeill

    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    January 5, 2020 |

    […] 28. The past as a guide to the future (Part III): Over the past 60 years, many activities the police once performed as a natural part of their daily duty, eventually became incompatible with achieving their basic goals. What happened? (August 2019) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories Why I stand with science? - McNeill Life Stories

    November 11, 2019 |

    […] During the Ice Age, the Earth’s average temperature was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it is today. That was enough to keep snow from melting during the summers in northern regions. As snow fell on the snow, glaciers formed. (NASA Earth Observatory) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories How to Game an Election - McNeill Life Stories

    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]