Weekly Wilson - Blog of Author Connie C. Wilson

"There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries." (Julius Caesar; Act 4, Scene 3).

Category: travel (Page 2 of 11)

4th & 5th Days at Sea: Mediterranean Cruise

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At Cagney’s Steakhouse on board the “Epic” cruise ship on July 23, 2015, on my birthday.

Fourth day was my birthday. We opted to sleep in and miss Florence ( been there/done that.) Heard the crowds were horrible and it was hotter than hell from those who journeyed in, which meant a 4-hour round-trip bus ride.We stayed onboard and used the casino. I was given a $25 free chip to bet (on one hand) which I immediately lost. Nestor, the bartender, set us up with free champagne in honor of the day, which was very nice, but we had the UBP—Unlimited Beverage Package—part of Norwegian’s “perks” to lure us aboard, so the “free” drink would have been “free,” anyway. (Thanks, anyway, Nestor!)2015-07-23 15.11.23

After resting up from the onslaught, we took off on July 24 at 7:15 a.m. for an 8-hour tour of Cannes, Monte Carlo and Monaco.2015-07-23 15.12.34

The first part of that statement strikes fear and loathing into my heart; the latter part (Cannes, Monte Carlo, Monaco) has yielded the pictures you see here.2015-07-23 15.27.58

I think this was my favorite stop of all, with the possible exception of the Pompeii tour (which was only 4 hours long.) Craig holds out for Majorca as his favorite, but that’s still coming up in a post for another day.2015-07-23 15.20.41

So, without further ado, here are some pictures of both the area of Cannes (we had to take small boats in to the port…tinders), Monte Carlo and Monaco.2015-07-23 15.18.03

The lavish casino you see was used to film “Casino Royale.” It should be noted that we saw Prince Albert go by in a limousine and our tour guide, Lucy, (whom no one could understand) was in complete awe, as she had never seen Prince Albert.

A "Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner! slot machine in Monte Carlo.

A “Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner! slot machine in Monte Carlo.

We told her to invite him onto the bus and tell him to “leave the driving to us.” (Ha!)

Third Day at Sea: Rome

Our first day at sea was spent cruising. Day two found us in either Pisa or Pompeii after docking in Naples.2015-07-21 15.17.05

On day three, we docked in Civitavecchia, Italy at 6 a.m.2015-07-23 15.03.10

Two hours later, our tour of the city left by bus, facing a one and 1/2 hour trip to the city from the docks (and a one and 1/2 hour trip back). (I just LOVE those early morning tours!)2015-07-21 15.14.48

Mainly, we drove past the sights that Rome conjures up, because the wait time to get inside the Coliseum, for instance, was 2 hours. (Only later, after our return, did I learn about the passes one could have purchased in advance that would have let you cut to the front of all lines, but they were primarily for 2 and 3 days, which would not have worked for those of us on an 8 and 1/2 hour tour of which 4 hours was spent on a bus).2015-07-21 15.16.02

After the extensive, exhausting trek through Pompeii (Day 2), the bus was quite welcome in the 100 degree heat. It was also very humid. 2015-07-21 15.31.52

I did some shopping with a fellow tour member, Deborah Matthews of Washington, D.C., and we were able to find a leather goods shop for souvenirs. We also tried the delicious dessert that our tour guide, Luisiana, went on and on about, calling us “my family” and using the phrase “you must know” to mean, “you should be aware that.”2015-07-21 18.35.27

I enjoyed seeing the area where the chariot races took place in “Ben Hur,” and the window from which a new Pope is announced. We were told by our guide that visiting the Treasures of the Vatican Museum would take at least a week and getting in to see the Pieta or anything in the Vatican requires extensive security, (plus, you have to be wearing something that covers both your shoulders and your knees.) Since my husband had on shorts, that was probably out in the first place.2015-07-21 14.48.16

I spent a period of days in Rome way back when, so the failure to be able to tromp around some more in 100 degree heat didn’t bother me at all.



Pompeii: Buried in 79 A.D.

`We arrived in port at Naples and some went in to Naples (reporting  it 2015-07-20 19.51.38a fairly dirty and not-that-attractive industrial city). Our guide, Carmine, carefully explained the lay-out of the city, including the small doors (approximately 4′ 9″) where gladiators were housed. (One of the corpses found during the excavation was a wealthy woman who had, perhaps, paid to spend the night with a gladiator, which was a common occurrence.)2015-07-20 19.37.24

We opted to visit ancient Pompeii, a city that was buried by the volcanic ash from Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The inhabitants of the city did not die from lava, but from rocks thrown by the volcano and from the gas.

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Many, in fact, left the city after the initial eruption only to return and die there at night. August 24, 79 AD was the date of the eruption. The violence of the eruption was such that the top part of the volcano collapsed, forming the present broad caldera.2015-07-20 19.34.21

The eruption devastated the entire coast between Herculaneum and Stabia for 3 days and the description of it has come down to us from letters written by Pliny the Younger and sent to Tacitus, to describe for him the death of his uncle, Pliny the Elder, the Admiral of the Fleet of Misenum.2015-07-20 20.00.39

Pompeii remained buried under a layer of ash more than 6 meters deep for more than 2 centuries. In fact the white house pictured at the bottom of this post was the residence of the man who bought the land, not realizing it was the former site of the disaster, which buried alive thousands of people. The house is to be preserved as it was. 2015-07-20 19.40.27

A display of the discoveries made by archaeologists centuries later were on tour at the Field Museum about 5 years ago. It is also true that some of the excavators died from pockets of gas trapped underground, during their excavation.2015-07-20 19.45.45This tour lasted only 4 hours, but was rated a 3, which meant lots of walking in 104 degree heat over uneven surfaces and uphill, with little or no shade.  We also had to hop on stones to cross ancient Pompeii streets, which was a little bit like the ice floe scene from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, hopping from ice floe to ice floe. This was done because ancient Pompeii had no sewer system and residents used the stones in the middle of the open-air sludge to keep from having to wade through human feces.2015-07-20 20.13.12

Birthday Cruise to Italy, France & Spain Concludes


The Norwegian "Epic" (holds 6,000 travelers).

The Norwegian “Epic” (holds 6,000 travelers).

Our trip to Spain, Italy and France began with a journey on Lufthansa to Munich and Barcelona. Then we set off on the ship pictured above, which held roughly 6,000 people (5,000 tourists and 1,000 staff) and is the 4th largest at sea.

I would have posted as we traveled to Pompeii, Rome, Florence, Cannes, Monte Carlo, Monaco and Mallorca, but I only had the wireless on the ship to use, so I could not upload the pictures, which I’ll do now with some comment, for my first post(s) since the “Rolling Stones” on the Fourth of July in Indianapolis.

I am still recommending to one and all that they celebrate their birthday MONTH, not just their birth day. If you live to be 100, that only gives you 100 days of specialness. If you live to be 100 and celebrate the entire month in some small way, you exponentially expand your chances for fun (100 x 31 = 3100).

Give it some thought. It doesn’t have to be a BIG celebration (although this one was); it could be something as simple as having a Starbucks or a massage or some special “perk” that you allow yourself to enjoy.

So far, it’s been working out well for me, and I will conclude by listening to Paul McCartney sing from 7:45 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Lollapalooza in Chicago and by taking delivery of 2 new couches there.

My thanks to all who wished me well on my “day(s)” and please be aware that I hope you have as happy a day/week/month as I have had.

Of FREE Books NOW & Tarantula Bites Then ?

This is the day that I remind you of tomorrow’s FREE give-away of the 3rd installment in the Hellfire & Damnation short story series. The KDP (Kindle) give-away is scheduled for April 24, April 25, May 2, 3 and 4th. For more information on the book(s) and for trailers, check at www.HellfireAndDamnationTheBook.com.

DSCN0153While letting readers know about the give-away (again) is one concern, my biggest concern the past week has been my left leg. Something bit me in Mexico. I think it happened on Wednesday and, no, I’m not kidding about the possibility it was a small tarantula, since I had watched the lifeguards at the beach in Cancun cart one off on a stick that was (roughly) the size of your knuckles. I remember that my friend said, “What bit you?” and I nonchalantly said, “I don’t know. I probably ran into something.” The small (about 1 inch) cut was bleeding slightly.

By the next day, I was hot and uncomfortable and sweaty.  That was just the prelude to a “fit” of sorts that took place at 4:10 a.m. on Friday. My teeth were chattering so hard that I couldn’t speak and all my muscles became rigid, while my arms and hands resembled the tragic footage of the Saran gas victims in Syria that was shown on “Sixty Minutes” recently. I was absolutely baffled; nothing like this had ever hit me before. My husband said (later), “I thought you were having a stroke.”

Meanwhile, I was blaming it on overly cool air conditioning–which was not really the case and didn’t explain any of the baffling symptoms described above. All day Friday I felt punk, sleeping until almost 3:30 p.m. after trying to get up and get going earlier. I had no appetite and could eat no dinner with the other 3 vacationers.

DSCN0154As we sat there on our last night of vacation, feet propped up on a pillow watching television, my college roommate said, with alarm, “What’s the matter with your leg?” I had not been aware that there was anything the matter with my leg, but I knew I didn’t feel good. When she had me put both feet out, side-by-side, it was obvious that there were two roughly fifty-cent sized red places on my left shin.

Dr. John Rhodes, vacationing with us, came in from the balcony and immediately said (after examining the leg), “You’ve got cellulitis,” which is an infection of the skin that can be caused by insect bites, staph or other bacteria, or even by mersa, the flesh-eating bacteria. The antibiotic I have been taking in 500 mg. dosages 4 times a day since Sunday (the earliest I could get back to the United States and be seen by another doctor to receive a prescription) is designed to protect against nearly every infectious agent, and the leg IS responding, but my need(s) to let the world know a book is free has faded slightly in significance when compared to the thought of intravenous antibiotics in a hospital.

Meanwhile, I’ve provided you with graphic evidence of why you should always travel with Bactine or another antibiotic ointment and use it if you are bitten by some mysterious bug. I wish I had.

Easter Week in Cancun, Mexico

DSCN0019We’re coming to the end of Easter week in Cancun at the Royal Sands. The weather has been lovely and the water warm.

Tomorrow, the men will play golf.  Tonight was prime rib night at the Veranda restaurant and it was just as good as prime rib at Short Hills, which is a high standard to meet.

We also dined on traditional Mexican cuisine at Sisal and have taken in the Seafood Surprise (lobster, shrimp, grouper, calamari, scallops) at Captain’s Cove, where we watched both an alligator and a sting ray swim beneath the deck where eleven of us were eating.

DSCN0027Daughter Stacey left today and had to fly back to Chicago with tornadoes and 70 mph winds hammering places like Rochelle, IL, near DeKalb. There were also tornadoes in Iowa, Michigan and other parts of the Midwest.

Wisconsin Cheeseheads Knock Off Unbeaten Kentucky on April 4, 2015

Wisconsin’s Big Ten team knocked off the unbeaten Kentucky Wildcats in a frenzied finish that saw the Wisconsin Badgers emerge as the ultimate winners who will face Duke for the national NCAA championship on Monday, April 6th.

As we were in Cancun, the bar of the Royal Sands represented a cross section of fans from both Kentucky and Wisconsin, but I’d have to give the nod to the Wisconsin fans, who came with their red and white shirts and cheered noisily throughout.

Enjoyed the game.DSCN0010

Two New Route 66 E-Book Offerings Available Now

Some time ago, I traveled most of Route 66 with my husband and wrote 3 volumes of Ghostly Tales of Route 66 for Quixote Press.

Years after the initial publication of the paperback ($9.95) and the E-book that contained all of Volumes II and III, I have begun breaking out the individual states along Route 66, because I removed the pictures when I had the book converted to an e-book, and priced it too expensively (although getting TWO $10 books for $9.95 seemed like a good idea, at the time.)

These new state-by-state e-books have many more pictures than the original e-book, and will periodically go on sale for 99 cents as they are released. Right now, only one state is up: Oklahoma. Also, I used only the Oklahoma stories that appeared in paperback in Volume II, although there are also Oklahoma stories in Volume I. That is because the Fort El Reno Ghost Tour was the centerpiece of Volume II, and that is where I got an actual “ghostly orb” picture (among many others).

I combined the states of New Mexico and Arizona, because I did not have enough stories from New Mexico. But that volume is still plenty long for that plane trip and there are many pictures. It is entitled “Ghostly Tales of Oklahoma: Route 66” and the new book is “Ghostly Tales of New Mexico & Arizona: Route 66.”

The original e-book with the ’57 Chevy fin in red will probably go back up in due time, but, for now, I’m working on the individual states, and next up will be Texas, after the New Mexico/Arizona compilation.

No press release or publicity, yet. I’m waiting until I have more states out there in e-book format.

I remember being at an authors’ gathering at the East Moline Library and I was selling a different book when a gentleman approached me and said, “And the Route 66 ones are good, too!”  The original Volume I was Chicago to Oklahoma. Volume I was Chicago to Oklahoma. Volume II was Oklahoma to Arizona. Volume III was Arizona to the coast.

Check them out in e-book format if that is your desired format. The website is www.GhostlyTalesofRoute66TheBook.com.

“Read Local” Appearance at Bettendorf Library on Dec. 10, 2014

Big Thanks to Hedy Hustedde at the Bettendorf Public Library and the hardy souls who came out to hear about “The Christmas Cats” series.

Since Michael Shaugnessy of the University of Michigan had done a 14-page (!) interview, which Allison Levine and I posted on my website (www.ConnieCWilson.com), I ran copies of that and handed them out, thereby leaving time for the participants to actually contribute great, creative ideas to accompany next year’s book, “The Christmas Cats Fear for the Deer.”

Thanks for the suggestions, guys, and I hope you enjoyed hearing such stories as the reviews of Book #1 by friends of Andrew Weinert (the first artist, along with Emily Marquez Vlcek).

Don’t forget that I’ll be in Rock Island from 6 to 9 p.m. at S&K Models for the Rock Island Gallery Hop this coming Friday night (free photos with the Cat).

On Saturday, we’ll be inside the Four Seasons at the Geneseo Christmas Walk, as we have been for at least 3 years. Free photos with the Cat. (The Grinch charges!) I will not be at the book signing mentioned in Metro East, as the festivities in Geneseo start at 2 p.m. and Death Valley Days go on forever at the other store mentioned, which I will no longer visit. [Finally, I can hope to get expensive P.R. materials returned, rather than completely lost by the staff, who are hostile, to boot, for reasons they could not explain when politely asked.

After the Christmas Walk, I’ll drive to Chicago and read the book at several schools in the lead-up to the Writers’ Benefit for New Orleans, wh,ich is taking place December 19-21st. Talked to Jacquelyn Michard today (her birthday) regarding her keynote duties, but, alas, the author of “The Deep End of the Ocean” will not be able to come to NOLA  so close to the holiday.

Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday to all, and I hope to see you in Rock Island or Geneseo this week.

2014 “I Heart Radio” Show in Las Vegas on Sept. 19, 2014

“Coldplay” performing at IHeartRadio Show 2014 in Vegas on 9/19.


The I Heart Radio show in Las Vegas on September 19 (Friday) was a star-studded affair, the fourth such gathering of the most popular artists performing today. Lorde, for instance, (whom I did not get to hear) was scheduled to perform, as was “One Direction.” For months, the airwaves have described the show as “sold out.”

I attended the very first I Heart Radio show in Vegas, and soon learned that my version of “sold out” and the radio station’s idea of “sold out” are two different things. There were plenty of empty seats at that first concert, as the venue at the MGM Grand is a huge arena not unlike our local civic center and seemingly as large, inside, as the United Center in Chicago.

Therefore, when I knew we were going to be in Vegas for other reasons, I asked the concierge at Mandalay Bay to see if she could secure a ticket and—guess what? “They just released some more seats.” Nevermind that the seats were high up in the nosebleed section: for $150 I got to hear/see Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Ariana Grande, Motley Crue, Usher, Alesia Keys and some local D.J. named Steve Aoki. I learned that other younger performers, many of them rap artists like “Lil’ Wayne” were performing in a field opposite the Luxor the next day (Saturday), outside. Therefore, I opted for the  six-hour concert taking place inside and, aside from nearly falling down the stairs two times (I was about 8 rows from the top) when the concrete stairs gave way to less sturdy ones, it was a great show. Certainly it was far more topical and current than acts like Donnie and Marie, who were performing elsewhere in town.


I took my trusty 16 zoom camera and captured some shots which I will share with you here, and I attempted to upload video footage, although my first attempts to mount it here have been a bust.  We’re back in the Midwest now, but the 50th Chicago Film Festival commences soon, so stay tuned for more interesting posts, as I have the ability to see documentaries from around the world and feature length films, as well. Additionally, Oliver Stone, Liv Ullman, Michael Moore and Kathleen Turner are just a few of the big names expected to grace the Festival this anniversary year.








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