Friday, October 30, 2009

Generation Natural Pet is up and running....

In my spare time, I've been contributing to a new site on Facebook called Generation Natural Pet. It's a site for people who want the best for their pets and want to hear and learn from other pet parents, share information etc. The site's mission is "to promote and celebrate optimal pet health and happiness through Natural, Organic and Holistic Products." I'm a member of The Generation Natural Pet Council along with others who are contributing information and ideas to help other pet parents learn how to help their pets live longer, happier and healthier lives with natural pet products. Don't worry, it is not a site selling anything- it's a fan site for fun and sharing. So if you have a pet and want to join it, please go to our new Generation Natural Pet site on facebook, become a fan and have some fun. Right now we're running a contest to find the pet with the shiniest coat. All you need to do is upload a photo of your pet and you are entered to win a $200 gift certificate. So what are you waiting for? Hope to see you over there soon.
-Rick Rockhill

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Aegean Sea Cruise: All Good Things Come to an End

Today is the final installment of my Aegean Sea Cruise blog series. It has been a terrific cruise- everything you hope for in a vacation. I spent most of yesterday relaxing, napping and reading. In fact I finally finished the book I had been reading, so I was especially pleased with myself. At dinner we said our farewells to table-mates, with whom we've dined nearly every night for the past two weeks. I went back to my cabin to finish packing and just chill out. John went to the final show of passenger Idol, the singing contest. Someone we met on the cruise had entered and made it all the way to the finals, but frankly I was sleepy and just wanted to relax on my own balcony. It was my own personal slice of paradise on the ship. Each morning room service would bring a pot of coffee, fresh croissants, a bowl of mixed berries, hard boiled eggs, and perhaps a grapefruit. It was a perfect way to start the day, with the sound of the ocean and a beautiful sunrise.

above: I relaxed in the ship's atrium, as it was a bit breezy on deck
above: Bruna, our cocktail waitress from Brazil made fab martinis. She made cocktail hour fun and memorable.
A Quick Video from Mykonos


above: I forgot to upload this little video from Mykonos. It was from last week, but I thought it would be nice to show you how beautiful it is.
And Finally...

above: a fabulous sunset we saw one evening from the ship, it seemed like a fitting end to this cruise post series.
Well, this cruise is now over. We're back in Rome today so its a great way to unwind before flying back to Palm Springs. Thanks for reading these past two weeks!
-Rick Rockhill

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Aegean Sea Cruise: A Bit More From Cairo, & Alexandria, Egypt

Today is our last full day aboard the Grand Princess ship. We are still at sea, sailing the beautiful and shimmering blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. I’m reading “My Life in France” by Julia Child, and what a terrific book so far. It was the final book written by the venerable cooking expert known as The French Chef, and more importantly, author of numerous best selling cookbooks including “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. I can almost hear her speak the words I am reading, with her usual sense of humor and amusing manner. It is a perfect book to read on vacation. So my last two days at sea are filled with this enjoyable story of the great Julia Child. Anyway, I digress.
I have a few more photos to share from Cairo, Egypt and then a few quick flashes of Alexandria. This one above left was within our hotel in Cairo, it is a replica statue of the "guard" statues inside King Tut's tomb. Next up are photos from a rather interesting place where we stopped for lunch in Giza. It looked a bit like a camp for gypsies, hurriedly put together with color tents and makeshift grounds. But it was actually connected to a hotel (see hotel pool below), and made to look as it were. We sat down and were enthusiastically gre
eted by a man who mainly spoke Arabic but knew enough English for us to communicate. To the table he brought an individual mini-grill, which had piles of chicken pieces, elongated meatballs and tomatoes. It sizzled and smelled absolutely delicious. Immediately behind him was another waiter who served plates of hummus, diced eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, and some other dip, plus a dish of things wrapped in grape leaves and other mysterious foods. Finally a plate of freshly made bread- sort of liked pita bread but all puffy. It was quite good. It was surprisingly good, and I bravely consumed most of what they served. Yes, I was trying to delve deep into the local culture and taste Egypt. Here are a few photos:

above: as we first approached the restaurant, this is what we saw. Naturally I was hesitant, but I always keep an open mind while traveling!

above: this was the sort of hookah bar...

above: it sure looked festive....

above: this was the little grill with all the meat on it sizzling away

above: there were all sorts of dishes with delicacies, including some mystery friend things next to the french fries- I tried it all.
The Imperial Mohammed Ali Mosque
We visited a grand Imperial Mosque, called the Mohammed Ali Mosque. It was up on a high hill in the center of a fortress, along with the Sultan Hassan. Interestingly, this mosque was built by the same architect who constructed the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. Within this mosque is the tomb of the prophet Mohammed Ali.

above: exterior view of the Mosque. The silver domes are all covered in lead.

above: the external courtyard, but this is considered a prayer area at the mosque, so shoes came off here.

above: the water fountain within the courtyard to cleanse yourself before prayer

above: this was reserved for the Sultan, who back in the day, would have a grand place within the mosque.

above: beautiful inscriptions on these round panels adorned the four pillars of the main dome.

above: the main dome was surrounded by half domes, all beautiful and ornate. These are actually carved from wood, and decorated.

above: difficult to see in this photo but above the door is a wonderful gold half ring.

above: within the mosque is the tomb of Mohammed

above: and within that room is the actual marble tomb itself

above: I like the lion on the wall here with the mosque in the distance.

above: close up of the water fountain- it was carved from ONE giant piece of alabaster

above: a close up of the detail above the water fountain. You can see the restoration work in progress, look at the panels on either side of the center one.
A few other glimpses of Cairo
Here are some other random photos around Cairo to give you more of an sense of the city:

above: Cairo is a huge, sprawling city

above: its not uncommon to find donkey drawn carts on the main streets

above and below: or herds of sheep crossing in the middle of busy roads!

Finally while in Alexandria I didn’t take many photos, but here are a few:

above: the Alexandria Library building itself is slanted with an interesting glass roof

above: an ordinary building, but I just liked the arched windows with blue tile work

Once again, thanks for stopping by today. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into Egypt. We’ll arrive back in Rome tomorrow, which is starting to feel like home we've been there so often this past year. Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great weekend.
-Rick Rockhill

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Aegean Sea Cruise: More from Cairo, Egypt

We’re at sea today, sailing north back to Rome. Last night it was a perfect night, I left the balcony doors open to enjoy the sound of the ocean lulling me to sleep. Today it is warm and sunny, a perfect day to relax on deck by the pool and relax. I still have many photos to share from our two days in wonderful Egypt, so here goes. First, a few photos from the dinner cruise we took along the River Nile:

above: a blurry photo of "Scarabee", the dinner cruise boat

above: I've had a lot of fine wines in my time, but never heard of this one: "Omar Khaggam Vin Rouge Gianclis"

above: there was an Egyptian wedding on the boat that night

and a exciting belly dancer...

above: who I danced with!

These days in Egypt have been enlightening, educational and enjoyable. Once again I feel enriched from learning more about the modern and ancient Egyptian cultures. Not all of it is perfect, but that again, what nation is? And how is perfection defined anyway? Depending on your point of view, the world looks very different when you travel. Aside from all the wonderful sights and experiences, if you have an open mind, it also provides unique perspectives on the similarities and differences we have from each other. More from the Pyramids:

above: look over my shoulder at the stone serpents carved at the top

above: a wild dog at the step pyramids

these columns are over 5,000 years old!

These days in Egypt have been enlightening, educational and enjoyable. Once again I feel enriched from learning more about the modern and ancient Egyptian cultures. Not all of it is perfect, but that again, what nation is? And how is perfection defined anyway? Depending on your point of view, the world looks very different when you travel. Aside from all the wonderful sights and experiences, if you have an open mind, it also provides unique perspectives on the similarities and differences we have from each other. Thanks for stopping by today, I appreciate it.
-Rick Rockhill


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