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

    August 16, 2019 |

    Many thanks for reviewing the article Elizabeth. There are so many areas of our society in which populism carries the day, although I think what is happening with the ICBC is that groups having a vested interest in private insurance would dearly love to dislodge ICBC from their preferred position. That being said, I think was a good move to have only portions of the insurance coverage in BC being held by ICBC and other portions being made available through private enterprise.

  • Elizabeth Mary McInnes, CAIB

    August 15, 2019 |

    It’s a breath of fresh air to see a resident of British Columbia look to review all the facts over believing what is reported in the news or just following along with the negative stigma of the masses. Your article truly showcases that with a little reform to ICBC’s provincial system – British Columbia could be a true leader for other provinces in Canada. Very well written article!

  • Harold McNeill

    August 13, 2019 |

    August 13, 2019. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), a private enterprise group not unlike the Fraser Institute, is again on the campaign trail. They state ICBC rates are the highest in Canada, but, thankfully, Global BC inserted a section indicating the Insurance Bureau cherry-picked the highest number in BC and the lowest numbers in AB, ON and other Eastern Provinces. If you take a few minutes to check reliable sources you will find BC rates, are the lowest in Canada.

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.