Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cruise Wrap Up, Flaming Emails & Folsom Trip

Yikes, having stupid computer problems and haven't been able to blog recently. Okay, let's see, where were we?

Med Cruise Wrap Up:

The last day at sea is always a bit of a bummer. It starts off slow as everyone recovers from the previous nights (well actually this mornings) festivities. But by lunch time the pool deck is crowded and hopping. I continue to work on my poor semblance of a tan. Laying out in the sun is actually help my cold. Or atleast I think it is. I also finally do the rock climbing wall. I chose the easiest path to go up, and up I went. I crossed my arms a couple of times (not good) but I made it to the top, pretty quickly actually, rang the bell, and then rappelled down. Once I got down, this guy was like, “Isn’t the view from up there spectacular?” I’m like “Hmm, view?” I guess I should have looked around while I was up there. But I was just so glad to get up and then come down that I didn’t scope it out. But maybe next time.

After the rock climbing wall, I quickly changed for the last T-dance. DJ Abel was spinning and it was a great end to the cruise. After the dance, it was time to start packing and then attend Shann Carr’s Last Laugh. She was a riot as usual. There was one final dance party that night, but I was tired and just wanted to sleep.

After 9 days of GLORIOUS weather, we finally get our due. It’s grey and overcast as we pull into Barcelona. But of course as soon as it’s time to get off the ship, whooom, this torrential downpour. I didn’t buck a transfer this time, and I regret it. The line for taxis was atleast 600 people long. And so I stood in line for almost 2 hours. Which actually worked out for me, because by the time I got to my hotel, my room was ready. My hotel was nice, and really close to the Ramblas. Son once I got situated in my room, I headed down to the Ramblas to find a café for lunch. I find this little place on a side street and all I want is a glass of sangria and some tapas. I managed to pick some things off the menu that were good despite my poor Spanish skills and had a big glass of sangria. Well the sangria and the Dayquil mixed well and I stumbled back up the Ramblas to my hotel where I had a serious power nap. I did get up later that night to walk around the gay district, but the weather sucked so I just crashed early and then the next day was the usual flight back crap. But all in all, another great Atlantis cruise! Right now I’m signed up for the Baltic cruise next summer, but I might try to do the March one as well, we’ll have to see. My last pic from the cruise. This guy has it exactly right.

Flaming Emails:

Well my "Appearance of Impropriety" email to my class mail list certainly brought out a flamer. Denying that I have any hard proof, he claimed that apparently I'm being led astray by the liberal, American hating main stream media. I tried to argue that of course I, normal guy on the street, isn't going to have proof, but I'm assuming that not all of the reporters who get access to this stuff are lying. And that it isn't all about proof anyways, it's the appearance, the perception, the actions we take in trying to re-define what the Geneva Conventions say that undermine our moral authority. But he has zero tolerance for me without proof. Sadly one day, and maybe sooner than we think if the Dems take over the House or Senate, I think we'll have that proof. And then I wonder what my flamer friend will say.


Yep, I jetted off to San Fran to visit my friend and to attend Folsom. Here's a pic. Joe.My.God as usual does the best job of explaining the freakshow that is Folsom. I will say that I've never felt so boring, normal, thin, or young in all of my life. We didn't do Magnitude, but we did Real Bad. Had a blast. The fact that I dance the night away with a hottie didn't hurt. But now it's back to reality. Or what passes for reality these days.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Appearance of Impropriety

And now for a little reality break:

I remember when I was told that we needed to avoid even the appearance of
impropriety in our actions and conduct as Naval Officers. It wasn't just a
matter of whether something was technically right or wrong, but how our
actions would be percieved by others and whether that would reflect poorly
on us as Naval Officers.

After watching Pres. Bush defend his need to allow CIA officials to torture
on TV, and what looks like a compromise law where it will be the President
to decide what is allowed, I'm more than a little dismayed. This is the man
who fought against the original McCain bill. Then when we realized that he
was going to lose, embraced it, signed it, and then added a little signing
statement saying that he could ignore it.

Unfortunately perception is reality for a lot of folks. Abu Ghraib. Gitmo.
Secret CIA prisons in Europe. Alledged murders and rapes in Haditha. And
now the President arguing why we need his "program" (his code word for
torture). It's a wonder we have any friends in the Middle East at all.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Med Cruise 2006 Part 3

Another torturous day at sea. Let’s see, what did I do. Lay in the sun, nap, read my book, and maybe sample a cool frothy beverage or two while watching the passing scenery. Yeah, that’s the ticket. The weather was gorgeous and so were some of the men!

That afternoon was the Classic Disco T-dance. I went, but I’m not really a classic disco type of guy. But it was still fun to watch and look at the insane costumes/outfits that some people wore. Plus I had to rest up because tonight was the Venetian Carnivale party. So I got a disco nap in and then went to watch the Newlywed Game. I love this game as the couple say the funniest things. One of the questions was, “Your partner has a very big (blank) and a very small (blank). And this one guy, who had just gotten married not FIVE hours before, said that his partner had a very big bank account. OUCH! Of course it was the lesbian couple that won. Go figure. Then it was time for the Venetian Carnivale Party with DJ Wayne G. Lots of great costumes, lots of great masks, just lots of fun.

The next morning we arrived in Messina Sicily. We pulled along pierside and were greeted to a cloudy hazy morning. Well the reason it was hazy was that Mt Etna was erupting, but it was still good enough to go out and I went on a trip to Taormina. I’ve been there before, but it’s this little medieval town perched high atop a hill overlooking the coast with an amazing ancient greek amphitheater. Apparently everyone else on the ship decided to go to as they had over 25 busses going to Taormina. Figure there were atleast 30 guys per bus, that means over 750 gay men invading this little town. It was just insane. But the town was so pretty and I managed to snag some time at an internet café, so it was good.

Then it was back to the boat for an alumni party (for those who have been on 4 or more Atlantis trips), a massage, and then our special guest for the trip: Ana Gasteyer. Who? Yeah, I had to do a double check on this one. She was on SNL and did the hilarious Celine Dion impersonations. Well she left SNL and is now a Broadway type singer. She was in 3 Penny Opera and is going to be taking the lead in Wicked this fall. Not exactly a huge Broadway fan, but I went and it was good. She did a great job of telling some amusing stories and then working in some great songs, and she’s definitely got the pipes. So it was good. And then after the show, it was time for the 80s Dance Party where I rocked out till about 2AM.

Naples. I had lived in Naples for 2 years and I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when we pulled into port. So I finally just decided to go with my roommate and his friends on a private tour of Pompeii and then the Amalfi coast. I love the Amalfi coast, so I was looking forward to that. So we got off the boat, boarded our own little mini-van and then sped down the autostrade to Pompeii where we met up with our tour guide. We must have spent a good 2.5 hours in Pompeii and it was really fascinating. I’d been there before, but had done it myself and the tour guide was providing a lot more info, almost too much. After Pompeii, I recommended that we head to Positano for lunch. I love Positano. It’s this little seaside town on the Amalfi coast that starts at the sea and just continues up the side of the mountain. It’s just amazing, and there are these great restaurants right down by the beach. It took us some time to get there, but we finally made it and it was so worth it. Lunch was just amazing. I do love Italian food. After lunch, we hit a couple of other towns on the coast to include Amalfi and Ravello. In Amalfi I saw the sadded T-shirt on some large American girl. It said, “Been there, Done That, Wanted It, Bought It.” Is there a sadder description of the way that some Americans travel/behave? I felt so ashamed.

Now the only downside to this day was that I was starting to get sick. I had woken up with a sore throat and that’s always the precursor to a full blown cold, so I kept looking for a farmacia. But it was Sunday, so it was not looking good. But at our last stop, I found one that was open and then tried to explain to the pharmacist what my symptoms were. Unfortunately his English was about as good as my Italian, so I ended up with some throat lozenges (good) and some weird powder stuff with directions in Italian (bad). But I took some anyway and just hoped for the best.

It took us forever to get back to the boat, but I took a nap and then it was the White Party!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Objects de Lust

So on every cruise I see this one guy who I just fall in love with. Love, lust, whatever. I did it on the last cruise. And the cruise before that.

This time, I was torn between the uber hot daddy:

And this young hottie in the white speedos:

So this . . . . . . . . .

or this . . . . . . . . .

So why choose?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Med Cruise Part 2

The next day was a day at sea which are usually pretty rough for me. I get up, hit the gym, a little breakfast, and then it’s time for the lounge chair Olympics on the pool deck. Yep, I was a total slug, just sitting there reading my book and watching all of the hot men go by. Oh, and did I mention the cool, frosty drinks to quench my thirst after all of my hard work? Yeah, it’s rough. I will say the crowd on this cruise was a bit older than my other cruises, which makes sense it was more expensive. I’d say the majority of the guys were between 35-55. So I was on the left hand side of the bell curve. And speaking of older men, this was the first day that I met one of my Object D’Lust (aka ODL #1) on the cruise. Heading back from the gym to the room I got on a really packed elevator and the next thing I know I’m about 2 inches from a very nice muscular chest with light silver hair that’s been clipped very nicely. We’re talking a seriously hot daddy type, very muscular, great smile, etc. Love him.

Anyways, later that afternoon was the Dog Tag T-Dance which is always a lot of fun. They hand out dog tags and then you put a different color sticker on them if you’re available (green), might be available (yellow), or not available (red). And of course there are always the multiple stickers: green & yellow, or yellow & red. One guy had founds some stickers that had prices on them ($5, $1, Best Offer) and so that added to the fun. After the dance, I went to see one of the comedy shows called “Pam Ann’s Security Alert.” It this British comedienne who is a sarcastic, bitchy, rude flight attendant who is just hilarious! And with all of the new travel restrictions, her show was especially funny. After that I got suckered into volunteering to be on the Atlantis version of the Dating Game. It was awful. I like to think of myself as being funny and witty and quick on my feet, but I froze. Some of my answers were just weird. Not that I was going to win anyways. We had to describe the other contestants and contestant number three described contestant number one as hot. So that was the end of that. Why even ask the questions at this point! There was another dance that night, but with no disco nap, I couldn’t stay out too late.

Up early the next morning as we arrived in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Wow, just amazing. After a quick cardio burn in the gym and some breakfast, I went out for my tour. I decided to do the walking tour of Dubrovnik where you basically walk the fortress walls that surround the city. After a quick photo stop for a panoramic view of the city, we headed down into the city. After filing off our bus, we walked through the ancient gates of the city and then climbed up the city walls. The walls and fortifications were amazing, as was the weather. It was sunny and hot and just great. We started walking as we listened to the tour guide explain the history of the city. I still don’t get why the early name of the people were “Ragusans” but I just let that go. As we made our way around the city walls, we had a bird’s eye view of the ancient harbor, of the cool, clear water surrounding the city, and the maze of small streets within the old city. It was just too cool. We, however, were not cool. It was getting pretty hot and we kept looking down at the people in the water and I was just dieing to jump in to cool off, but no such luck. After the tour, I wandered the main street a bit, had a drink, and then did some shopping. I definitely want to go back to Croatia, it was just so pretty.

After all of the walking around town all afternoon in the hot sun, I went back to the ship, had a late afternoon snack and then promptly crashed for a needed disco nap. The entertainment this evening was a singer named Shayna Steele who’s been in Rent, Hairspray, and some other Broadway shows and she was awesome. After her show, I stayed for Dixie Longate’s Tupperware Party. Think of it as a bitchy, sarcastic, trailor trash saleswoman pushing Tupperware. It was just hilarious! And then for the triple crown I stayed for the late night comedy show which was good also. And then since I was rested from my dicso nap, I headed up to the Starquest Disco for a little dancing. Just a little as Venice was the next day!

Venice. I love Venice. I’ve been there before, several times, but this was the first time I’ve seen Venice coming in from the 13th deck of a cruise ship. As we made our approach to the city, we had just an amazing view of the city and the various islands that make up Venice. Pulling into Venice is a bit of a haze. The ship’s pilot comes onboard almost 90 minutes before we dock to guide us through the channel to take us to the pier where we docked. Needless to say the pier wasn’t anywhere close to St. Mark’s Square in the center of Venice, so we took a bus boat into the city center. I spent the day with my roommate and his friends and after arriving at St. Mark’s Square, we immediately got on another boat to got o Murano, another island that is famous for its glass work. Because of the fear of fire, all of the glass factories were sent over to Murano and now that’s what is famous for. We got a “free” ride over, but had to sit through a glass blowing exhibition and then got “offered” the opportunity to look at the factory’s gift shop. It was nice and the glass is amazing, but I don’t need a $3000 piece of glass artwork or a $5000 chandelier. After we escaped, we wandered Murano a bit poking into other stores looking for more reasonably priced gifts and souvenirs. After stocking up on multi-colored glass pendants, we caught a bus boat back to Venice. After searching unsuccessfully for a costume store, we ate lunch at a little pizzeria where I had a nice calzone. Yum! After lunch we wandered around St. Mark’s Square and took some pics. It was very crowded, but lots of fun just bumming around. We then split up and I continued my quest for a costume for the Venetian Masquerade dance. I did find some stores, but I wasn’t ready to drop $1500 dollars on a silk and wool costume. Maybe what I brought isn’t so bad after all. So I went back to the ship, did my nap, gym, dinner thing and then went up to the 90s Diva Dance party. It was a blast and some of the ship’s crew was there so I drug a couple of the female crew members onto the dance floor where they had a blast. The DJ was Wayne G and he rocked. So definitely a good night and I was up late as we were at sea the next day.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Med Cruise 2006 Part 1

I know, I know. It’s not like I haven’t taken enough vacations this year, but really, what’s one more? (and I haven’t mentioned to my boss that I’m thinking about another one, but since that’s in the planning phase, it doesn’t count. Okay?).

So I won’t bore you with the fiasco that was Dulles. Let’s just say that by the time I got on the plane for Zurich I was READY TO GO! We got to Zurich early, yippee! And after confirming that I couldn’t get on the earlier flight to Athens, I boarded a train and headed into Zurich to wander around. I had gotten maybe 4 hours of sleep on the flight so I was only slightly comatose. I put my roller bag into a locker at the Bahnhoff (train station) and then wandered down the main drag, the Bahnhoff Strasse, with only 8 hours to kill before I needed to be back at the airport. The city is really nice and it felt good to wander. Lots of high end shops (Gucci, Chanel, etc). Much to rich for my budget. My train ticket got me a free boat ride around the lake, so I did that as well. It was slightly overcast, and a bit cool, but still very nice. I ended up going back to the airport early so I wouldn’t spend any more money and just read my book until my flight to Athens was ready.

The flight to Athens was good, clearing customs in Athens was not. I got stuck behind around 50 young Egyptian men in the non-EU line. And it was not moving at all. When the EU line started to get down to the last few folks, this Canadian who I met who was also on the cruise and I sort of slipped into the EU line and made it through. My big bag had made it, so it was then a quick cab ride into the city arriving at my hotel around 130AM. Where I promptly took a shower and then crashed.

Up early-ish the next day. I checked out and but kept my bags at the hotel and then went to the Acropolis. I’d been there before when I was a child, but don’t remember much of it. Even though you can’t go into the ruins, you can get pretty close and they were amazing. The other amazing thing is that there must have been about 2000 gay men on the hill that day. You figure half of the guys going on the cruise were there before the cruise left in the afternoon, and half of the guys coming off the first cruise were there as well. So there was plenty of scenery. And I mean the ruins of course!

After traipsing up and down the Acropolis and looking at some of the other ruins, I went back to the hotel where I caught a cab with some other cruisers to the ship. The line was long, but it moved and I was just excited about getting onboard. It was at the check in counter that I found out that we weren’t going to Istanbul. Due to the bombings there, they decided to change the port call to Santorini! And I was stoked since I wanted to do that anyways. After checking in, I went to my room where I met my roommate, a lawyer from Dallas. Tall, cute, and very nice. We got along really well, so no scarey roommate stories. I then went through my on board logistics routine: unpack, get Coke sticker, sign up for tours, walk the ship, and then ended up on the pool deck for the sail away cocktail party. After dinner, the entertainment for the night was Charo! She is just amazing. I’m not sure what “work” she’s had done, but it was worth every penny. She looked fabulous. In addition to her usual routines, she’s a classical guitar player and the whole show was great. After her show, it was the first dance on the pool deck with DJ Wayne G who rocked. I think I ended up crashing around 2AM. Not too shabby!

We woke up to the amazing view of the towering cliffs of the island of Santorini. Anchored in the middle of the caldera, it seemed we were a stones throw from the island. I had signed up for a tour on one of the volcanic islands just off of Santorini. So we got into our tenders and made our way to one of the smaller islands and then proceeded to climb across this barren, volcanic landscape to the top where there is still an active volcano spewing sulfur gas. It was a hot hike, but the views were amazing. After the hike, we went to this area where there are hot springs. I was the first to dive off the ship into the brilliant, but cold, blue water and then swam towards the yellowish water that marked the hot springs. The ancient Greeks used to go there and we practically had the area to ourselves. Since it was connected to the ocean water, it was never really hot, but definitely warm. And nice. Despite a small jellyfish sting, it was totally worth it. After our swim break, we got dropped off at the port at Santorini where I took the cable cars up to the top. You can do the donkey ride if you want, but I can only imagine how bad those donkeys smell in that heat. Once on top of the island in the town to Fira, I sort of wandered around the town, grabbed a bite to eat, and did a little shopping. I then returned to the ship so I could get a disco nap in, there was dancing in my future. I ate quick dinner and then went to the comedy showcase which featured three comedians. I’d seen them all before, but they are all so funny. One of them joked that skipping Istanbul did blow, but a bombing a gay cruise would be like a terrorist triple word score!

After the comedy show, I went back to my cabin to change for the Empire party. I had bought some stuff at a costume place, so I was ready.

And of course I took my camera so I could take pics of all the hot men.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Back from my cruise!

Had a blast. A full, more detailed, report with lots of pics to follow. In the mean time, here's a little tease . . .
More hot men to follow!!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Ok, Now I'm Psyched

So it wasn't until last night that I got really psyched about my cruise. I'm not sure if I was just blase about the whole thing after I had to cancel part of my vacation, or the headache of dealing with a new and insane flight plan, or what, but I sort of just put it off. No real packing. I had some thoughts on what I needed to bring, but I just couldn't get into it.

Then last night I got a DVD from Atlantis that showed the highlights of the cruise last October. So I sat and watched that, and then more and more I got excited. I'm even in the DVD for a little bit! And not looking too bad. So I was up till midnight packing and getting ready. Now I'm psyched!

Athen, Istanbul, Dubrovnik, Venice, Messina, Naples and then Barcelona. I haven't been back to Europe since I lived in Naples, so I'm excited, but also a little freaked out for some reason. Not sure why.

So no updates for me for awhile. But I promise a full trip report with lots of pics of hotties!