So, when I left you, I was driving the SECOND rental car of the SECOND accident that WAS NOT MY FAULT, ending the school year, and trying to get in all my cyber knife appointments in BEFORE my bucket list trip to the Baltic's. So, here is what happened. I hung up on GEICO twice. LOL. They were the other insured and started tell me a week after I had gotten everything taken care with my insurance company, "...that I needed to just listen to them, so that I know what I needed to do next." Which turned out to be a lot of things for me to do because they wanted to switch the claim over to them with their discounts. I told them I was not going to do any of it as I have to have a car and if I waited around for them, my kids would not go to school for a week. They didn't like my answer and told me what I needed to do, so I hung up on them. Apparently, that was a big deal. They were shocked and called me back, in which, I hung up on them again. Then, they called my insurance company and complained about me. Apparently Generation X's are not used to not being listened to even if their perspective to the customer is INSANE. See, I am almost 50 and I decided I am not listening to anyone that is going to give me more work ESPECIALLY a 28 year old telling me to listen to what I need to do. In addition, my medical insurance company's third party administrator that "helps" approve treatment stalled the process so much that I was not able to do a single treatment before I left. HOWEVER, the clinic was able to set up all my pre-treatment appointments and I was able to start LITERALLY the day I got home. INSURANCE - awesome.
So, school ended on the the 21st of June. My brother and sister in law were here for most of June and helped me pick up and drop off the boys all month. Jane and I even saw some movies for cheap. I also ended cleaning like a freak show. I always clean before treatment, but this was over the top. I got out the rug doctor and literally cleaned EVERY PIECE OF CLOTH in my house - carpet, stairs, couches, seat covers, EVERYTHING. Smart? No. Freshening? Sure! I also cut open my foot to the point of having to buy new shoes for the trip, but that is my ridiculousness, nothing else. The only places not touched were the boys room and my study. Too bad for them.....not me, I don't care and there was too much to move.....they and I have too much crap.
So, lots of pawns in the game changed in June. I mean that in the nicest of ways. Insurance - car and medical, school, etc. For example, towards the end of school while I am listening to my boys complain about their schools, I say, "Well, you can go back. I asked for a year and I would be TOTALLY MORE CONVENIENT FOR ME FOR YOU TO GO TO NEELY AND MILL CREEK. I will transfer you tomorrow." They both looked at me stunned.....pause....stunned.....pause.....and then it was just like the movie Trading Places where the two old guys say, "William (Eddie Murphy), you can leave us now and never see us again....." and William says, "No, I believe I can hang with you guys for a while....." No more complaining and everyone is on board with next year. Do I hate driving them every darn day - YES. Have I LOVED their experience - YES. So, I drive them every damn day and hope that my brother and sister in law visit more often!
Then, off we go to the Baltic's! First to Newark and then to Stockholm. My kids had never been to Europe and never experienced bad jet lag. Hawaii is one thing, but it is 3 hours at most and it is HAWAII after all. Toronto was always to our advantage, so we never really suffered there. North Carolina and Boston the same. I tried to help them through it, but to no avail. There is only so much you can do. So, my family, Mom and Donna went. We were supposed to have rooms next to each other so that we could share a balcony, but at the last minute they changed my Mom and Donna's room to the other side of the ship. When called they said our travel agent did it. WHAT? Lisa would never do that. In addition, we wanted to get the 6:30 dining time, which we were never able to get before the cruise and then we could get something like it with "free style dinning" which we researched a ton, but then were told that we had to register for it before we left port (with all our research how did we not know this?!?!?!). When we asked, it was 20 mins after we left port. We asked again, and were never responded to. In addition, we discovered that there was no one in the room beside us that my Mom and Aunt were suppose to have. No lie. The room was vacant all week and we could prove it. So, the cruise line that I always wanted to go on, that spoke to me in all marketing ways, well, SUCKS. IT IS ROYAL CARIBBEAN. The tours were good, the Indian food was amazing in at the buffet since we were banished from the dining room, and there pasty chef was worth following to the end of the earth. They should get different jobs where they can be appreciated. Also the staff for our room and at the buffet were exceptional - they should also jump cruise lines. AFTER THAT - THEY SUCK. DON'T GO ON THEM - THEY LIE, AND THEY IGNORE THE FIRST TIME CRUISER, BUT THEY PAY A LOT OF ATTENTION TO RUDE TOUR GROUPS. Bad Royal Caribbean. You have no idea what an enemy you have made.
In any case, we had a good time. Can't keep a good group down, but seriously, we wanted to go to Cuba and there was a great itinerary to Cuba with Royal Caribbean and I dumped it. They were that horrible to us from an administration point of view. Too bad - even if they gave us a great deal, I wouldn't go. It is too much money to risk and not feel valued. I worked in Administration for years. If I ever treated anyone like this I would be ashamed (and in my early years I did, but never repeated the mistake).
Grant had been WONDERFUL with all the towns we did not do tours in - Helsinki, Finland; Tallinn, Estonia; Riga, Latvia, and Stockholm, Sweden. Helsinki had beautiful weather and we saw amazing things, but the most important thing I noticed was, people were orderly, but not polite. It was weird. So, if there was someone taking a picture, Fins just walk through it. No waiting, no nothing. Actually no thought at all. I was shocked. This town DEPENDS on tourism. Especially from all the drunk and disorderliness I witnessed on the streets on a MONDAY morning. They should be happy people are coming! WEIRD. Beautiful churches, markets, shops, etc. I was waiting in line for the washroom. There were two women at the front of the line involved in an intense conversation. They continued even when there were empty stalls, then, they were so close they did not allow anyone out. Finally, a Fin said what I imagine to be, "Hey, there are stalls and you need to get a move on!" And they did. Again, WEIRD. We experienced REALLY rude behavior on the ship also. To the point, I was using my Spanish.....Latino and all....to move the Spaniards along. Seriously, you are going to put your three and four year old in front of me during miniature golf, play my ball, and then watch and film them while the hold up everyone? Yeah, they did, until I started to tell them they needed to move it. Apparently, they did not want that on the video. Rude? Maybe, but matched with rude. Then, St. Petersberg. When we got there, Grant and I had planned five tours over two days. We wanted to do several things and you cannot leave the boat without a tour ticket or a VISA which takes months to get. Also, I did not want an all day tour in case I did get treatment and I could not hack 11 hours of touring. Literally, it was get up, go through immigration, tour, come back go through, what I came to know as, ex-immigration, back to the ship and repeat.....five times. They got really used to us and we all got used to them. Then, I stared to think about it. Why would you check my papers back to the ship......unless, you did not want people to get out. See in Russia, you have to carry your passport - mandatory. So, if someone killed me, they would have me cruise pass, passport, and they could board the ship. CREEPY. Outside of that, I had a great time. I tried to buy Rubles, but no one would let me. No lie. Dollars were accepted EVERYWHERE, but on the DL. Very curious. It was fun being there during FIFA. Lots of tourists, people were happy, and weather was great. I finally got there. "Viva Mexico, Argentina!" I always wanted to go to St Petersberg. My High School Spanish teacher, Mr. Carter, spoke Spanish and Russian and always took a group to Russia. This was in the early 80s during the cold war. I was his Spanish TA and he always told me how amazing the Metro was there and how we were really the same......now I know. 31 years later I got there. Thank you Mr. Carter for making me want to go and I went on a Metro and Market tour just for you. You were right - never a cleaner more efficient Metro, seriously, you can eat off the floor. London, New York, Mexico City, and Seattle have NOTHIN' on this. NOTE: On the last day RIGHT BEFORE OUR SHIP LEFT, we were on a tour of the Hermitage - a major art museum and the winter palace of Peter the Great. I was the last person out of our tour. I was helping this Asian family who had a slow Grandpa and I couldn't leave him behind. They had gotten lost on a previous tour and I just could not have that happen again. I was out of the museum and Mason ran up to me....."MOM! DO YOU HAVE NOLAN?" "No. I thought he was with your Dad." "He is not and he is lost. We have to find him!" I reversed into the museum thinking this is weird. Nolan stays with that group....I taught him that as painful as it was cause it took him FOREVER. But I was also in a foreign country with a blonde boy that had no papers and cruise ship that was going to leave him and all I could think of was sex trade....." I went as far back as I could and started calling him name. Shortly there after, a young woman came up to me and told me to stop screaming. I told her I would I had lost my son and I would not until he was found or there was some sort of plan to find him. "Go to administration." "Where is Administration?" "Please stop screaming." "Tell me where Administration is and I will." Then I secretly (maybe not so much now) cursed her to have her child lost for longer than mine and see how it feels. Administration was EXTREMELY helpful. They started a plan. That is when Grant and the tour guide showed up. Nolan was on the bus. Mason had misunderstood. Everything was fine. I apologized a million times. Everyone was super kind and we went on. Nolan was not sold into the sex trade and I would see him again. My mind goes to a horrible place when it comes to kids.....I don't wish it on anyone. My instincts were right though.....I taught him well; those who survive stay will the group.
On to Estonia.....THIS IS THE CUTEST MOST AMAZING PLACE IN THE WORLD. GO THERE. EAT THERE. CONVERSE THERE. BEST PLACE EVER. OH, AND EAT THE BREAD!
Riga, Latvia...Not as cute as Estonia, but eat there and go to the the real market. This is a real city. We had the BEST lunch ever with the sweetest girl ever. All lunches are composed with potatoes, beets and some meat with gravy and they are DELICIOUS! But they only accept Euros and you might have to go over the menu a couple times......we translated fish soup with sausage soup which was wrong. If you find a Business Lunch, do it. Economical and delish!
So, after the cruise we stayed in Stockholm for three days. I loved it. We screwed up a little because we did the hop on hop off tour for our transportation to our hotel. Mom and Donna were NOT to pleased, but the hotel turned out to be amazing with a grocery right next. It was still a serious walk. We were there for the Sweden soccer game which they won. We were walking back to the hotel and when they scored there was a cheer that reverberated through the streets or Stockholm. It was amazing.....truly. I am a Sweden fan forever now. They lost today, but from now on, they are my team. So, committed, so loyal, so normally excited. Also, if you go......the ABBA and Vasa Museum are a must! Except when you go to ABBA, Grant was all, "So, when did they couple swap??!?!?!" and I was like, "That was Fleetwood Mac!" It really took over our experience......and there was no couple swapping.....it was Fleetwood Mac......I am no expert on ABBA, but I am know there was no couple swapping!!!!!! I was right......:) WAYNE'S COFFEE ROCKS!
We toured during the day and ate in our room at night with the help of the bar downstairs. Then, taxi to airport and home. After being on the tarmac for three hours in Newark, we got home late on the 4th, exhausted and colasped (sp) in our beds with little regard for any fireworks. NOTE: Fireworks were outlawed in Kent two years ago, so it was not really noisy. I have no reason to be home now for the 4th, but there are thinking of reversing the law. Doesn't every American deserve to responsibly blow stuff up on the 4th?!!?!?! If not, I am going on vacation.
Treatment started the next day. It was shockingly normal and familiar. The boys are still a little messed up from jet lag, but they are working through it. Nolan to camp next week, me in treatment until the 18th, and Mason in camp on the 22nd.
The house was blissfully normal, our cars are our own, the cats blissfully accommodating, a garage needs to be cleaned out, school stuff to purge for next year, and life to continue....2 treatments down 8 to go for this time. Life works out sometimes....and another bucket list item checked off....