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Alaska LPC 2016 Day 1 BOS –> SEA

by on May.20, 2016, under Alaska 2016, General, Vacation

This is a placeholder until content is added next week.  jlj

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1000/1000 Club

by on Dec.14, 2015, under Gaming, General

[UPDATE] – I seem to consistently update this post, so I will place the newest update in red from now on.  Carry on.

People on the GameFAQS boards constantly tell everyone else when they’ve completed the board’s game 100% with the maximum 1000 gamerpoints per game.  I thought I’d start my own little section here for this since, well, this is my site and I can do whatever I want really.  So here goes!

Call of Duty 4 – 1000/1000 on 1-21-2008

This game, as some of you know, has become one of my favorite alltime games, not for the single player but for the multiplayer.  At this writing, I’ve amassed over 500 hours on online play.  Achievements however were only awarded for the single player campaign, and some of the harder ones were REALLY hard.  I would have to say that beating “One Shot One Kill” and “No Fighting in the War Room” on Veteran dificulty caused me the most mental anguish.  The last level, “Mile High Club”, though fun on Normal difficulty, became a nightmare on Veteran, though it felt SO good to complete it, knowing that all that was left to do in order to 100% the game was find a few tapes and destory a lot of televisions 🙂

Fallout 3 – 1000/1000 on 12-15-2008

If you’ve read anything on this site about Fallout 3, you know that I’ve really enjoyed it.  From being a game that I told myself I would never get to being one that I will probably never forget, Fallout 3 is a complete masterpiece, and I’m sad that the story is over.  It took me about 75 hours to 100% it and the entire time was like a wild rollercoaster ride.  I won’t spoil the ending here, but it was pretty sweet.  Bethesda is releasing some DLC for this game which I will most definitely pick up, as it is one of the most engaging games I’ve ever played.
[UPDATE – 1-29-2009 – 1100/1100 now after Operation Anchorage DLC]
[UPDATE – 3-27-2009 – 1200/1200 now after The Pitt DLC]
[UPDATE – 5-20-2009 – 1350/1350 now after Broken Steel DLC]
[UPDATE – 7-6-2009 – 1450/1450 now after Point Lookout DLC]
[UPDATE – 8-11-2009 – 1550/1550 now after Mothership Zeta DLC]
Since Bethesda has not announced any further DLC for this masterpiece, I am taking this as the end for me. If they do decide to release more, I will pick it up, but if they don’t, then the ride was a great one and I will look forward to the next game in this series. Fallout 3 is easily one of the best experiences in gaming that I’ve ever had, took up 1497 save files, and lasted me well over 120 hours.

Tales of Vesperia – 1000/1000 on 12-28-2008

This has been months in the making and I can finally say that I have completed this masterpiece.  The “Tales of” series is huge in Japan and I have played two of the games in the series: Tales of Symphonia on the Gamecube, and now Tales of Vesperia on the 360.  These games are traditional Japanese Role Playing Games, meaning the style is very anime and the characters have a lot of personality.  They also implement a crazy live action battle system, which make them a complete joy to play.  Anyways, I played through Tales of Vesperia from launch day until I beat the game about a month later, totaling about 95 hours.  I then immediately started over again, and played through it again to tie up all loose ends and basically get everything in the game, which took another 50-60 hours.  The last two achievements would require a third playthrough, one for finishing the first chapter at a very low level, and another for finishing the game within 15 hours.  All in all, I finished this playthrough in 9:37:31, ranked 791 on the leaderboards for time, and the entire playtime for me is about 173 hours.  I have done everything there is to do in this game, probably a few times, and all I can say is that it is by far the best JRPG I’ve ever played and I’m really looking forward to Namco’s next installment of this great series.  Tales of Vesperia is an epic, long journey that is worth playing for anyone who either likes the series or the genre in the slightest bit.

Fable II – 1100/1100 on 1-25-2009

I consider this to actually be 1300/1300 as I have fully completed the Fable II Pub Games as well. Fable II was a game that I have owned for many months, but stopped playing almost immediately as it was horribly bugged and people were complaining that their games glitched out and got wrecked. This scared me, so I played Fallout 3 instead. A few weeks back, Fable II was patched so I started playing it again. It is a blast to play and is very relaxing. Albion has a very medieval feel to it and you can basically do whatever you want, whenever you want. As far as achievements go, this game has them brilliantly placed. There are only a handful of story-based achievements, and Fable II focuses more on craziness when it comes to them. There’s one for kicking a chicken. There’s one for killing a rabbit. There’s one for shooting the weapons out of an enemy and then hitting him with a headshot. There are so many weird achievements. Some of them require you meeting people online and trading items with them. This can be tedious, but I met some nice people that way. I bought the Knothole Island expansion pack, which honestly only takes about an hour or two to complete, so $10 might be a bit high for it, but I really enjoyed it and the new weapons that it adds. It also adds another 100 to the score, so that’s why this one is more than 1000. I’m not really “done” with this game as there are other things that need to be done in it, but for some reason, there aren’t any achievements for them. I think it would have been cool to have an achievement for opening all of the demon doors for example. Overall, this is an excellent game if you don’t run into a crazy bug along the way!
[UPDATE – 6-4-2009 – 1350/1350 now after See the Future DLC]

Resident Evil 5 – 1000/1000 on 4-1-2009

I had been looking forward to Resident Evil 5 for a few years now, and told myself that I would be taking the release day off of work when it was announced last summer. More on that can be read here but this update is to discuss the game after full completion. That is to say the story mode of the game. Resident Evil titles seem to consistently change with each incarnation, and fans seem to always have some sort of problem with that. I’ve learned to take it as Capcom gives it and enjoy what they’ve created. Resident Evil 5 is without a doubt my favorite in the series, seconded only to the genre-changing Resident Evil 4. The addition of co-op to 5 worried me as so many game publishers are just trying to slap on the words “co-op” as marketing strategies, but when realized, they don’t add anything or are completely one-sided towards the host. I don’t think that Capcom could have done any better with their implementation of co-op, and in this game playing with someone else over XBL trumps the single player in every single way. Finishing this title to 100% took just over 43 hours, making it one of the shorter games I’ve played to get every achievement in. It is truly a masterpiece and I am now going to tackle The Mercenaries, an arcade-like minigame of sorts that is packaged with Resident Evil titles. In a few weeks, Capcom will be releasing an online versus mode based on The Mercenaries, so it’s time to train!

Lost: Via Domus – 1000/1000 on 6-28-2009
Lost: Via Domus I’ve been trying to think about how to put this back when I was still playing the game and knowing that I’d be writing a little blurb about it eventually for all of probably 3 people to see, but this is easily one of the worst games I’ve ever played. For anyone who knows me well enough, you know that I adore the show Lost. It’s my favorite television show that is on television now, and may be of all time. I’m thinking about The A-Team here, but I kind of put them in two totally different categories, so we’ll just ignore that. When Lost: Via Domus was announced and released, it got pretty bad reviews, and I passed over it thinking that it probably wasn’t worth $60….and it isn’t. I found this game a few months back for $10 at Best Buy and figured that I couldn’t really go wrong. I think I got a so-so deal on it. Anyways, when you boot up the game, you first see a Ubisoft logo. If I had read the box and saw that it was a Ubisoft game, I might have just left it be, as I am terribly upset with them and what they did to the Prince of Persia a few years back. But I didn’t see that logo and bought the game anyways. You play the game as a guy who was on Oceanic 815 and crashed with everyone else, but you don’t have any memory. You look almost exactly like Jacob’s nemesis from the Season 5 finale, which I find very strange, and I look forward to seeing if others feel the same way about this. It’s just uncanny how similar you look to him. As you “play” this game which consists of you walking around the beach talking to horribly created versions of the cast, being chased around the jungle by the smoke monster, doing stupid fuse puzzles that make no sense whatsoever, and recovering your memory via looping scenarios where you need to take pictures of things, I realized that I might have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t a Lost fan. I’m kind of on the fence about this one. If I wasn’t a Lost fan, I wouldn’t be so critical about the modeling or voice acting, though John Locke repeating “I’m over in the Banyan Trees” and “Hey, Look at me in the Banyan Trees” over and over again was actually funny, but the funny part was when he said “Banyan Trees”. I don’t know. I’m weird. Hurley, believe it or not, it even fatter in this game. The controls are very loose, and your actions seem to make you float around. You can trade fruit and stuff that you pick up for lanterns and guns, etc, but you only need to really shoot 1 or 2 people, so you never ever need a clip, though they seem to have lots to trade. What sucks even more is that in the end, all your stuff is taken from you, so it’s all pretty useless. They should have just given you what you need when you need it, but then this game would have been even shorter probably. It only took me about 2-4 hours to complete in its entirety, but it seemed like a chore. Would I rather deal with this mess or play CoD4? I had to force myself to finish this game so that I could delete it from my hard drive. One thing that I can say positively about this game is that I didn’t run into any game breaking bugs. That’s a nice thing, but there are some annoyances. One level starts out with you having to run away from the smoke monster, jumping over trees and running across wooden planks, but if you trip up then the smoke monster gets you. That’s not the bad part though. The bad part is that the game is set up episodically, so when you die, which you will a few times, you have to go through the whole 30 second long “Previously on Lost” crap. Argh! Anyways, Lost: Via Domus can’t be recommended by me. If you like Lost, and can get it for cheap (or borrow it from me), then check it out, but don’t expect much.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – 1000/1000 on 12-13-2009

Well, it took me much less time than I thought it would to get 1000 gamerscore points in Modern Warfare 2.  I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that this game is easier and less annoying/time consuming as its predecessor, and I had a great partner in Glenn for all of the co-op missions.  Glenn and I had a really fun time playing through the Spec-Ops missions, and we’re looking forward to more of them via DLC.  The story in this game is not as emotional or as good as it was in Call of Duty 4, and it definitely does not wrap up with a satisfying conclusion, but I believe that this is done on purpose, so that in a few years, we’ll see Modern Warfare 3.  It is also very difficult to follow.  Being a self-proclaimed expert in this series’ storyline (I played through the CoD4 story four or five times and know it by heart), I was confused most of the way through this game.  The writers don’t really like setting the story up beforehand, but rather just drop you into the middle of it, and your squad mates seem to tell the story around you.  The problem with this is that while they are talking, you’re being barraged by bullets and explosions, so your mind isn’t really paying attention to what they are trying to say.  It’s a small gripe about an otherwise excellent piece of work.  All in all, Infinity Ward made another masterpiece with this game, and now all that’s left is multiplayer!!

Assassin’s Creed II – 1000/1000 on 1-18-2010

I was very skeptical about Assassin’s Creed II.  I wrote up about that in my Initial Impressions, and now that I’ve completed the game in its entirety (for now) I have to say that I have much more faith in Ubisoft.  I’m still a bit uneasy about the Prince of Persia series, but now that I’ve completed Assassin’s Creed II, I might give that series another try when it releases a new entry this summer.  Assassin’s Creed II did so many things right.  The graphics are amazing, the story is deep though a bit confusing at times, and the sound is simple extraordinary.  This was a game that I played both with and without the A40’s, and when playing without them, I lost out on some subtle details such as birds chirping in the background.  These things make up the feeling that is Assassin’s Creed II.  I absolutely love how you’re given a walled-in city that is in terrible disarray, and asked to upgrade it by donating your money.  Over time, you see new structures going up and more people flocking towards this city, earning you more money to build it up more.  It has a very medieval feel to it and I just loved it.  After completing the story, I went hunting for feathers; a remedial task in most games, but it is something that I really enjoy.  I have so much fun doing this and the world that the designers created is nothing short of fantastic.  There is only a single missable achievement (Flyswatter) in this game, but I’ve read that in upcoming DLC it will again become attainable.  Overall the achievements were on the easy side, and I almost wish that some of them were integrated better.  Finishing ALL of the races would have been more of an achievement than just finishing a single, easy one.  As I said in my previous segment about this game, I was mostly interested in the Venetian portions of the game, and they really did not disappoint.  Venice isn’t just created to look like you’re in Venice.  It’s created in the same layout as the islands, with the main Grand Canal bridges intact, St. Mark’s Square is nearly identical to the real thing, and even the market is in the correct location on the eastern side of the Rialto Bridge.  One of the funniest moments in the game for me was when I overheard a public speaker informing the public not to eat fish that came out of the canals.  The only thing that made me cringe about playing a game set in Venice is when I would accidentally jump in the wrong direction and dive into a canal.  When I lived in Venice, I worked on a project to drastically change the way the Venetian sewerage system works, so that may help you understand why I have reservations on jumping into the canals.  🙂

 

Bulletstorm – 1000/1000 on 3-6-2011

Today, Bulletstorm joins my list of fully completed games.  This is a game that exceeded all of my expectations, many of which were set very high.  The story is fun adn hysterical, the time trial mode (Echoes) is challenging and great to compare scores against friends, and the co-op multiplayer mode (Anarchy) is a blast to play with friends.  As far as achievements go, only a few require other people, and most are easily doable.  Red Barrels was difficult for me to get, and a few chapters on Very Hard difficulty were a pain (I’m looking at you 7-1), but overall it wasn’t terribly hard to fully complete.  This is a spectacular game for adults, and I whole-heartedly recommend it.

 

Portal 2 – 1000/1000 on 4-28-2011

When I first heard that Valve was creating Portal 2, one of the first thoughts in my head was “What kind of crazy achievements will this game have?”.  I was also worried about the length of the game.  Portal 1 took all of 2 hours to fully complete the story, so could Valve create a game that people would and should pay a full $60 for?  The story portion of Portal 2 took just over 9 hours to complete, without a single moment of boredom.  The co-op portion took about half that to complete, but I’ve since played it through two to three times.  The achievements range from smashing 11 TV’s in a single play session to simply hugging your friends.  This game is perfectly executed in every way, and one not to miss out on.

 

Brink – 1000/1000 on 5-15-2011

Brink is an interesting game. It was marketed very well, but is missing some key aspects that could make it great. The concept of gaining experience whether you play against robotic AI or humans is a breath of fresh air. The same can be said for being able to fully map the controller layout. Every game should have this feature. One thing this game is lacking, and I can not being to contemplate why, is a multiplayer lobby. Brink promotes playing with friends, but there is no easy way to group friends together and then play against other humans. It’s a mess, and I have no idea how this decision was made. Anyways, overall I’d say that Brink is a good game. It throws gamerscore at you like nothing else, and within five days, I’ve completed every achievement. The only one that I could see giving trouble would be “Tough as nails” which requires you to finish the storyline in Hard mode or online. The latter is extremely annoying because of what I mentioned earlier, and the fact that every time a person joins or leaves a team when online, the server comes to a halt for a few seconds. I played through the campaign with friends, and that made it easier, but it wasn’t a walk in the park. The reason this is difficult is because as you rank up, the enemy AI ranks up as well, and while your team’s AI still waits until the last 2 minutes to help out in any fashion, the enemy team’s AI just gets more brutal. Other than this achievement, which is mildly annoying, the rest are extremely easy. I hope the development team adds more achievements with DLC in the future.

 

L.A. Noire – 1000/1200 on 5-23-2011

This game shiped with two pieces of DLC that are preorder specific. I didn’t get these, but that’s why there are 1200 points total. Instead, I got a sweet light blue outfit called The Broderick. Yippee. Anyways… I didn’t know what to expect from L.A. Noire before release. I’m glad to say that this is not Grand Theft Auto in the 1940’s Los Angeles. I’m a big fan of GTA, but not really of this time period. L.A. Noire is more of a puzzle game than a shooting one, and the story that Team Bondi has created is spectacular. I figured out some of the story from bits and pieces, but was thrown off by others. It’s also nice to play a game without a multiplayer component. You can tell that a lot of work was focused on this single player element. I look forward to playing future games using this engine. Real actors can now successfully play roles in video games, and L.A. Noire is the first game that I believe can show off their talent well. This year is looking great for gaming, and it’s only May!

Deus Ex – Human Revolution – 1000/1000 on 9-5-2011

I never wrote up my impressions of this game when it first came out. This is because of two separate reasons that melded together and caused me to first write up about this game after fully completing it. First off, after playing this game for a few hours, I didn’t really care for it, and I was having trouble figuring out how to write that down. I was upset that the control layout was so radically different than most other games, and there is no way to change it with exception to inverting axes and sensitivity. That right there angered me, along with the fact that I couldn’t aim well and couldn’t hack into anything successfully. It was just somewhat of a mess, and after a few hours, I decided to give it a rest and come back the next day. This is where the second reason comes in. I picked the game back up after a night’s rest, and somehow the controls made sense to me. I started leveling up my character and weapons, making them easier to aim, and making hacking much easier. Most of my problems were almost instantly solved. The only problem now, is that I was somewhat hooked; hence my second reason. The depth that this game goes in each of its aspects is amazing, be it first person shooter, third person spy, even the hacking minigame is probably the best hacking minigame in any game that I’ve ever played. It’s smart, and took me a while to master. The best thing Deus Ex has to offer though is that you can tackle objectives in just about any way you want. You can get there by sneaking by, or by knocking guards out and hiding their bodies. You can also just run in and kill everyone. It’s up to you and in every single situation in the ~25 hour long campaign, it worked flawlessly. This is easily the best game that’s come out this year so far, and possibly even last year as well. As far as achievements go, all but three were completed rather easily on my first runthrough of the game. A second playthrough was completed in order to 1. finish on the hardest difficulty, 2. without killing anybody, and 3. without setting off any alarms. Playing through a second time like this wasn’t as difficult as it may sound because I knew every nook and cranny of the game already, and it was a blast to play through again.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – 1000/1000 on 3-23-2012

I don’t quite know where to begin with this one. I’ve never played any of the previous games in this series, but was in complete awe when I played Fallout 3, another amazing Bethesda piece of art. If you scroll up in this post a bit, you’ll see that I completed that game as well. Skyrim plays very similar to Fallout 3 at its core, but the world and characters here are vastly different. I started this game and played for about 40 hours as a pure mage before starting all over again as a stealth Khajiit assassin, and never looked back. When all was said and done, I’ve got over 1500 save files and 130 hours into this character. Skyrim also now sits atop my list of greatest games ever played. It is masterfully made and a pure joy to play. You can lose yourself in this world, and whoever designed the city of Whiterun is a complete genius. None of the achievements seem really difficult to get; the hardest if probably Oblivion Walker which requires you to find 15 of the 16 special Daedric weapons scattered in numerous dungeons in the land. I’m still not done with the game, but I’m done with the achievements until DLC is inevitably released. Some minor bugs aside, this one is a complete winner.

SSX – 1000/1000 on 4-14-2012

SSX is the first sports game that I’ve ever completed fully. This game’s achievements are a mix between easy completion awards and tough, time consuming challenges. Some require grinding, but not too much. They are generally very easy to attain. Some of them do happen to require many people playing online, so the older this game gets, the tougher it will be to max out its achievements. In general, SSX is loads of fun, and I plan on continuing to play it as the online challenges are very well made. A maxed out character in this game can do some wildy amazing moves. I made a video of a race recently that can be found here. It doesn’t show off the magnitude of the tricks that can be performed, but it shows some of the more treacherous terrain that the game sometimes throws at you. I had an absolute blast playing this game for achievements, and look forward to setting some sweet scores now!

Far Cry 3 – 1000/1000 on 1-2-2013

Far Cry 3 released at a good time for me. I had been playing Borderlands 2 for a good two months, had completed Black Ops 2 for as much as I could handle, and had just played Assassin’s Creed 3, which for me, was a letdown. When I heard that Far Cry 3 was basically Assassin’s Creed with guns, it sparked some interest. I really like the AC series, but the latest installment left me with somewhat of a stale taste in my mouth. Right from the beginning of Far Cry 3, I could see that this was an entertaining and well-made game, even if it copied its core structure from another game. I spent about 15 hours with this game, and was able to complete the achievements in just a single playthrough. The multiplayer co-op isn’t anything special, but the single player portion is really great. I enjoyed the stealth aspects when trying to liberate the outposts the most. None of the achievements were really hard. Overall, I think they were well balanced and spaced out. I’d say that some of the most annoying achievements were just the ones for completing multiplayer, as I never really wanted to go through it.

Borderlands 2 – 1125/1125 on 10-20-2012
I haven’t made many updates to my site in a while. The only game I’ve been playing is Borderlands 2, and though I’ve wanted to write up my impressions, I just haven’t had any time to do so. I guess I can use this space for a few of them. Borderlands 1 is one of my all-time favorite games, and I was really excited for its sequel. I’m glad that Gearbox took their time with this game, because they improved almost every aspect of it. They made an incredible game even better, which seems to be a difficult task now that publishers are trying to milk some franchises dry. Anyways, Borderlands 2 starts you off with no real good items for the first ~10 hours or so, and then starts dropping better ones in a seemingly exponential fashion. By the time you’re at max level, you’ve played through the game twice, and can then focus on farming bosses for better loot. I did this for a few days before starting up a different character. If Gearbox is going to raise the level cap like they did with Borderlands 1, then there isn’t much of a point to collect a lot of maxed out weapons now, or even use my maxxed out character. They’ve already released one DLC pack, which is why my score is 1125 instead of 1000. They’ve also released a DLC character, which I have at level 32 currently. As far as achievements go, the character-specific achievements aren’t as easy as they were in the first game. One character has to get to level 31 in order to earn his achievement, and another to level 25. In the first game, they could all be gotten in the first ~10 levels. Other than these, the rest kind of fell into place. Borderlands 2 is not a game that I play for the achievements. I play it for the amazing world that Gearbox has created, and I will play it until the next entry in the series releases.

1125/1125 on 10-20-2012- Captain Scarlett and her Pirate’s Booty – This was a surprise, releasing within 30 days of the actual game. It lasts about 5 hours, and is quite fun to play. I’ve gone through it with my level 50 Siren and level 32 Mechromancer. It adds a new type of crystal called Seraph, that only drops by the DLC’s two raid bosses. These bosses are not easy, and they only drop a few crystals each time. It appears as though the special items that you receive cost around 100 crystals, and they aren’t really that great, so I’m not putting a whole lot of time in here once finished. It is a really nice place for your character to level up, and it is quite comical and fun, so I recommend it for characters going through the story each time.

1250/1250 on 11-23-2012 – Mr. Torgue and his Campaign of Carnage – The humor in this piece of DLC is off the charts. I enjoyed this one as I did with the first, but still question why we haven’t been given a level cap increase to expand our characters some more. The achievements in this DLC were pretty straightforward, with one requiring a bit of luck. Every so often, an enemy will drop a photo of Moxxi, and you need to collect 10 of these. This was the last achievement acquired, and took a bit of farming.

1375/1375 on 5-1-2013 – Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt – So far,  this is my least favorite piece of Borderlands 2 DLC.  For one, if focused only on main story quests, this takes 2 hours maximum.  I don’t usually play without doing the sidequests, but it isn’t as deep as the previous Torgue DLC, which is quite good.  There is one treasure room that can be looted just once per playthrough.  There are two raid bosses, one of which is insanely difficult (Voracidous), and another that requires you to travel around, lighting furnaces with Eridium in order to spawn (Dexiduous).  This one has the chance to drop The Chopper, which is a throwback weapon to Borderlands 1.  This isn’t a bad piece of DLC, but it isn’t as deep as the others.  I think it would be better off if it had given a skill point upon completion, like the Mad Moxxi DLC did in the first game.  By far, the hardest achievement was to complete all sidequests, but sidequest to defeat Voracidous took me a very long time.

Call of Duty: Ghosts (360) – 1000/1000 on 12-8-2013
Call of Duty: Ghosts (One) – 1000/1000 on 2-3-2014

The addition of the Extinction game mode is the highlight of this entry. It was released just before the Xbox One came out so it was split between two consoles. This means twice the amount of achievement points! The game definitley lookes better on the One, but just a fraction of my friends moved over, so it quickly fizzled out in terms of multiplayer. Since the release of Titanfall, it hasn’t gotten much attention except for when new DLC is released.

South Park: The Stick of Truth – 1000/1000 on 3-16-2014

This game caught me off-guard. I’ve been a longtime fan of South Park and was excited for this to come out. I was also a bit nervous, as many South Park games have been attempted in the past, and most of them are horrid. I always did like the first person N64 South Park game though, where you could upgrade your snowballs to yellow snowballs. That was a blast. The Stick of Truth is set up as a side scrolling turn-based RPG, and it’s made very well. I ended up playing through the game twice to get all of the achievements, and I laughed the entire time. This is easily the funniest game I’ve ever played.

Titanfall (One) – 1000/1000 on 5-11-2014

Well, I never thought this would happen. Titanfall has been my most anticipated game since Respawn was born. As a long time fan of the old Infinity Ward who made some of the previous titles in this list, hearing that this team was going to create a new IP made me very excited. As an achievement hunter, this game scared me a whole lot. There is one achievement that I never wanted to even attempt (Pull Harder) where you have to get an airborne kill with a very precise weapon. I only went after this one after unlocking an achievement that takes mostly luck to attain (I Killed Them All). For this one, you have to kill all escaping enemies single-handedly, which can be tough when the whole team is going after them. This one unlocked for me in a slightly cheesy way because all but two of the enemy team backed out of the room, so upon killing just two enemies, I got the achievement. Respawn hasn’t announced any more achievements for Titanfall, but if they do, I’ll be going after them… this game is phenomenal.

 

Fallout 4 – 1000/1000 on 12-13-2015
Yesterday I attained 1000/1000 in Fallout 4. It’s been a very long time since I’ve updated this log with a gaming post. Earlier in this same post, I saw that Fallout 3 was completed on 12-15, and Fallout 4 on 12-13. Fallout 3 was released about two weeks earlier in the year however, so my 33 day completion is pretty good. I’m far from done with this one though. It’s really been seven years since Fallout 3, and since then, I had always hoped that they would bring the wasteland to

Massachusetts. The season pass was purchased alongside the game, so I’m ready for whatever Bethesda has lined up next for this one! I think it’s funny that I spent a total of 120 hours in Fallout 3 and all of its DLC, and I’ve already put in over 160 in Fallout for in just over a month. The most time-consuming achievement was definitely Benevolent Leader, which requires you to bring the happiness of one of your settlements all the way up to 100%. It took a few hours to get it the last 10% or so.

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SRC 2015 – Day 16 – At Sea

by on Sep.24, 2015, under General, Scandinavia Russian Collection 2015, Vacation

Throughout today, Ocean Princess will follow various southwesterly courses through the North Sea, giving a wide berth to the many offshore installations that ply the oil and gas reserves in the region. Tonight we will approach the Dover Strait, one of the busiest stretches of water in the world.

Well, today is the last day of the cruise. I was surprised that there was no breast cancer awareness walk today, and I planned to walk it anyways, but the weather did not cooperate. The weather has been near perfect for this entire voyage, with just a few drops in Klaipeda, and then some on the At Sea days. I’m hearing that it’ll be rainy in Dover tomorrow, but I could care less.

We woke up and went down to the dining room for our last breakfast. I noticed that the James Beard French Toast was yet again not on the menu. I specially requested it and they had no problem making it for me. I’m kind of glad that I didn’t try this out earlier in the cruise, as this dish is both tasty and fattening. At breakfast, a gentleman sitting next to me told us that he was about to go on an engine room tour. This is something that Dad has always wanted to do, but Princess stopped giving them out after 9-11. We’ve been able to request bridge tours, but nothing downstairs. On the larger ships, Princess likes to charge passengers for bridge tours, but that’s not the case on these. After finishing my great breakfast, I went down to the purser’s desk and asked if they were having any engine room tours today, that my father would really enjoy it. I was told to be back there at 10AM, which was just 45 minutes away. I called their room and told Mom to have Dad ready to go at 9:55, and didn’t give her any more information. When I picked him up, I made sure he had his camera and we walked over to the purser’s desk, where about eight other men were waiting. The tour wasn’t of the engine room, but the engine control room. In there, they had monitors of all the diesel generators, alternators, water treatment devices, and propeller shafts. It was very interesting, and we spent about an hour in there talking with the ship’s engineers. Dad loved it. They let us photograph and capture video, which was awesome. We also met the chief engineer while we were down there.


After this little diversion, I walked Dad back up to his room, and then bolted to the Cabaret Lounge where Heather and Mom were watching the culinary demonstration. They were sitting in the back as I had advised in order to get down to the galley before the mad rush. We then walked through the galley and saw where all the great food was made. I talked with the chef for a bit and gave him my youtube information for when I made up his montage. This is seriously by far the best food that we’ve ever had on any ship and the executive chef is only 34 years old.

We packed for a few hours and had our last cheeseburgers, and then went and lost the last Bingo game. There were only about 40 people in there, which is a far cry from the normal last Bingo games. Before it started, they auctioned off the navigational map; something that we’ve always wanted. I ended up winning the auction, so we’ll have it hanging up at home after getting it framed. It shows the entire cruise, and is signed by all the chief staff.

Before dinner, Heather and I weeded through a two-inch thick pile of photographs, and ended up buying a few of them. I had the Tom Turkey and NY Strip Steak for dinner. The turkey was fantastic. We then watched the parade of Baked Alaska before eating it, and finally weighed our luggage.

Heather was starting to get tired, but I dragged her to the last photo raffle. We ended up winning second prize, which is a CD with around 200 professional photos of locations we visited on the cruise. Heather then went back upstairs while I watched a few minutes of a comedian named David Copperfield. He was pretty funny, and definitely not the magician! Now I’m waiting for one photo to be reprinted as it was creased, while Heather sleeps. We have a 4:30AM wake-up call and should be arriving in Dover sometime in the night. Tomorrow will be a long day, but it’ll be worth it to get home after such a wonderful vacation.

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SRC 2015 – Day 15 – At Sea

by on Sep.24, 2015, under General, Scandinavia Russian Collection 2015, Vacation

On departure from Copenhagen yesterday evening, Ocean Princess set various northerly courses through The Sound. In the early hours this morning, we transited the narrowest point of Oresund, which separates Helsingor in Denmark and the Swedish city of Helsingborg, before we enter the Kattegat.

The show last night was pretty great. A guitarist, bass player, and accordion player jammed for about 45 minutes, singing only in Danish. They explained the songs to us in English, which was nice. After the show, Heather and I went up to the buffet area to get some waters for the night and watch us leave Copenhagen. I wanted to film four large warships that I had seen earlier in the day as we were arriving, but were at lunch and missed out on the opportunity. We went to the walking track and I started to film. Off in the distance, at 10:45, fireworks starting going off, and I got some nice shots of them. It made us feel really good.

There was no James Beard French Toast on the breakfast menu this morning, so I had fruit and bacon in the buffet yet again. We rounded the northern part of Denmark and the sea became noticeably less calm, but still not very rough. We saw some white caps, but the ship stayed very steady. We really didn’t have much going on today as we’re done with ports and tomorrow will be spent getting packed and ready to fly home.

I spent most of the morning finishing up and posting the last few days’ worth of write-ups while Heather had her nails done and some other appointments in the spa. She was gone through lunch and I had some amazing Pasta Bolognese up in the buffet. I had seen it on the lunch menu and decided to see if they had it upstairs; they did, so I tried it and was blown away. Thirty minutes later, Mom and Dad were going up there, so I had another bowl full. An hour afterwards, Heather came back from the spa and I had yet another one! It was really good.

After lunch they were having a get together for pet lovers, but nobody showed, so we went to a talk about Larimar. Mom won the raffle today, but since they were out of Larimar, she won a Tanzanite pendant. Heather’s going to make a nice chain for it.

We took a nap until it was time to get ready for our last formal night. We had some photos taken and then for dinner, had specially-made French Onion Soup. Princess seems to have taken the best soup off their menu, but after a simple request to our Maître D’, we had four bowls of it. I also had pineapple, oxtail pasta, chicken, and a mini filet mignon.

We then made our way to the Cabaret Lounge where we are now for the Captain’s Circle party. He told us that there was a portable nuclear reactor in the Neva River when we were back in St. Petersburg. I’ll have to go back through my videos and pictures to see if I can see it. We’re now waiting for a show called the Magical Misstory Four. It’s four women who are going to sing us Beatles songs. It sounds like it will be great.

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SRC 2015 – Day 14 – Copenhagen, Denmark

by on Sep.20, 2015, under General, Scandinavia Russian Collection 2015, Vacation

On departure from Klaipeda yesterday afternoon, Ocean Princess set a westerly course through the Baltic Sea. This morning we altered our course to starboard and entered Oresund, the stretch of water separating the Danish island of Zealand and Sweden, as we made our approach to Copenhagen.

The scheduling today was similar to that of our last port day on Alaska 2010, meaning that we didn’t arrive until noon and we don’t depart until 11PM this evening. As I write this, I’m sitting in our stateroom, but am about to head to the Cabaret Lounge because they have more local singers here tonight.

Okay, Heather and I are now in the Cabaret Lounge with about ten others waiting for this show to start. We have about an hour until show time, so having a dozen people here is a bit strange. This morning, we slept in and had breakfast up in the buffet. I’ve been waiting for the breakfast menu to have the James Beard French Toast, but they seem to only have that on the lunch menu for “brunch”. Hopefully they’ll have it in the next few days, or I’ll have to go without. That’s okay though as it’s extremely high in calories!

Heather, Mom, and I went to a talk about Effy jewelry and lost the raffle. We had a good chance however as there were only about eight people there. The prize was a nice pair of earrings that would have looked great on Heather. We had lunch in the dining room. I had spaghetti, Swedish meatballs, and a roast beef sandwich with “waffle fries” which were just warm, homemade potato chips, and they were good.


Our tour began after lunch. We took a bus to the “Little Mermaid” which is famous here in Copenhagen. Some men were jumping onto a log over to the mermaid statue, and it looked like Heather was going to try it herself, but she decided not to at the last second. I think she would have fallen in, and even though it would have been hysterical, she was holding both her camera and her phone, so it wouldn’t have been a good idea.

We then took the bus over to the Royal Palace and walked around there for about half an hour. We took some photos with a guard before heading back towards the bus to buy a magnet. We always buy magnets in each port we go to, and always decide to pay more for locally made ones rather than ones made in China. This one cost $7, which is far from the most expensive one we’ve gotten (Monaco).

Our bus then took us around the city, passed the famous canal where Hans Christian Anderson lived, and to our final destination: Tivoli Gardens. This is an amusement park in the middle of the city that greatly influenced Walt Disney, and you could tell! To be honest, when I booked this tour, I thought this was another garden similar to The Enchanting Buchart Gardens in Victoria, BC. It isn’t. I was actually hoping for such a place, but they still had some nice gardens and flowers. Some of these rides were rather spectacular, but we didn’t go on any. They had a pond with both ducks and large koi in it, and Heather fed them all crackers simultaneously. We had about two hours there, but one thing we couldn’t find anywhere was a Danish pastry. We went into every little food shop and café, and nobody had a pastry named after this place, even though we were in Denmark.


Our tour ended at 5:45, 15 minutes after dinner started. When we got back to the room, Heather reminded me that we had to log onto the web and reserve our plane seats for the trip back home. I then realized that this great vacation is coming to an end. It was Italian night in the dining room tonight. I had cantaloupe & prosciutto, minestrone soup, more spaghetti but with meatballs this time, slow-roasted beef, and for dessert, two types of gelato and one scoop of lemon Italian ice. It was a nice meal.

During our tour today, we were told that a flag on a nearby fort is lowered at 8PM and a cannon is shot off. I went up on the top deck at 7:30 and saw that the flag was already down, so I started to head back downstairs when I heard a chopper. It was a very big one and it flew right passed the moon, which was pretty awesome. I watched as it landed on a nearby building before heading back to the room. I then started writing this up before Heather came back from shopping right outside the ship and we came down here. The local folkloric show is called the Halfdanskerne Trio and is described as popular Danish songs and folk ballads. I’m going to set up the video camera for it.

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SRC 2015 – Day 13 – Klaipeda, Lithuania

by on Sep.20, 2015, under General, Scandinavia Russian Collection 2015, Vacation

After disembarking our pilot yesterday afternoon, Ocean Princess set a northwesterly course through the Gulf of Riga. In the evening we will transit the Irbe Strait once more and subsequently alter our course to port, setting a southerly course through the Baltic Sea. In the early hours we will make another alteration of course to port in order to approach the Lithuanian city of Klaipeda from the west.

I realize now that this navigator loves the word “subsequently”… anyways, we awoke 30 minutes before our 7AM wakeup call this morning. Outside, we were still at sea, and the air had a strong smell of salt. This was the first time that it overpowered the air.

We had a quick breakfast and then met at 9AM for our tour. We hadn’t originally signed up for this one, but decided to just a few days ago. There were 42 people on this tour, so the bus was pretty tight.


We took the bus about 45 minutes to a national park, and were told that this was the nicest park in Lithuania. We walked to a lookout and saw two lakes and a lot of land. It was very nice. We also saw a cow. This was the first port day where we had rain, but it was only a little bit. I still covered the video camera with my jacket.

We then took our bus to the highlight of this tour: a Soviet nuclear missile complex. We started driving up a dirt road that switched to some very unique and strange concrete. Our tour guide Robertas told us that this road was not designed for buses, but instead for tanks. When we arrived at the complex, I bolted to the restroom and then filmed the four layers of different types of wire fences, including two types of barbed wire. While doing this, I walked right into a very thin but very strong wire fence that probably originally was electrified. I’m glad it wasn’t another barbed type!

We walked around the four silos on the outside, and then took some stairs down into the base. We went room to room, but it was difficult as the ceilings were very low, and you had to step over walls to get through it. Also, with 42 people, our guide, and the bus driver, it was difficult to fit into some of these rooms. It was very nice to see though. After viewing the base, we ended up inside one of the silos, where Heather and I took a few photos. We all then headed back to the bus. I helped a gentleman with a cane who was a bit slower than the rest of us.


We were running a bit late and still had a restaurant to go to. We arrived there and had lunch, but only had about 40 minutes to do so. This can be difficult with so many people! We had cold beet soup that I didn’t care for, bread that was incredible, potato pancakes, goat meat that was stuffed into potatoes kind of like twice-baked ones, and local beer. The lunch was fantastic, and I can definitely say that I prefer Lithuanian cuisine to Russian cuisine! The waitress kept coming back and filling our plates with food and putting beers down in front of us even though we were full. The building had a thatch roof, a small bridge over a pond, and a wooden basketball full court. They love basketball here as much as they do in Latvia.

Our bus arrived back at the ship with about 15 minutes to spare before we were scheduled to depart. We had a wonderful day, and I just came downstairs after filming our departure. The sea is the roughest it’s been, and might rival the Kodiak Sea for roughest I’ve ever been on. I hope not, as that was the only time I’ve gotten seasickness on a cruise!

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SRC 2015 – Day 12 – Riga, Latvia

by on Sep.20, 2015, under General, Scandinavia Russian Collection 2015, Vacation

Throughout yesterday afternoon, Ocean Princess maintained a southerly course through the Baltic Sea. In the early hours we will transit the Irbe Strait, which separates Estonia and Latvia and will subsequently enter the Gulf of Riga. Later we will alter our course to starboard and round the Kolka Peninsula in order to approach the city of Riga from the northwest.

Well, we’re now officially heading back west towards the US. I guess we were yesterday too, but I was so pooped from a few long days in St. Petersburg that yesterday just kind of faded away. Heather and I left the show early as she was feeling a bit queasy. We had an early tour this morning, so we woke up at 5AM and did the usual routine.

It was pitch black out all the way until about 6:30, and I even thought that we missed a clock change, but it was just cloudy. Heather saw some birds flying alongside the ship and had me record them, but all I could see was black.

To be honest, I never thought that Latvia would ever be somewhere I’d visit. I don’t know anything about the country, but when I opened the balcony door this morning, the smell of freshly cut trees filled the air. It was very pleasant, and surprisingly warm. The high temperature ended up hitting 75 degrees today, and became too hot at times.

Once we got close to the port, we saw some modern buildings and a very tall radio tower. We met in the Cabaret Lounge again and learned that there were five buses going on our tour. This has been the most in any port, but there were just three tours going out today, so it makes sense.

We boarded our bus and took a drive around the city. Twice we stopped to walk for about 45 minutes each time, learning about the architecture for the most part. There are many nice looking buildings here, and scattered between them are very plain looking ones that were built during the Soviet occupation. We also saw a group of cats walking around and hunting.


Riga is famous for one specific building with two black cats on the top of it. We stopped and took some photos of it before taking a break for tea and coffee. We also did a little shopping. It’s hard to describe, but they were selling large rock art pieces for 2000+ euros. I saw some that were 4000 euros too. They were nice, but we’d never get them home!! We ended up getting a magnet and a souvenir for Heather’s mom. We also learned that Latvians love Basketball. They had a countdown clock in a square that counted down until the next national game.

We were back onboard the ship before lunch, so we had cheeseburgers and pasta. The ship wasn’t scheduled to leave until 4PM, and while we were eating outside on the top deck, we saw a church not too far away and decided to try to walk there. We left the ship and started walking in its direction. We came across a gas station and saw a large group of ship staff sitting outside it. The gas station had free wifi! I tried to connect my phone to it to download the newly released iOS9, but it wouldn’t allow the download, so I’ll just wait a few more days. We kept walking and about 10 minutes later, we saw the church. It was in rough condition, and upon closer inspection, was condemned and locked up. It was still fun to walk over there on our own though. With all the global strife happening right now, I made a rule that we wouldn’t really divert away from Princess-sponsored tours, but this was a nice little adventure. The people in Riga were very kind to us, and we definitely stood out in the crowd!

We started heading back to the ship when we walked around a corner and saw a Lego sign. We love Legos. We went into this store, which was actually a pharmacy first, but the entire upstairs was dedicated to Legos, and they had a lot of them. We spoke with the sales people and asked if they had any Legos that we might not have back home, and were told that they were envious of our Lego selection in the U.S. We ended up buying a few Lego minifigs. The store also had a huge assortment of Playmobil sets, which I haven’t really seen since the 1980’s. Outside the store, they had a few 4-foot tall Playmobil people, and we took some pictures with them.

We walked back to the ship through a secure area that Heather was afraid to go in. The guard let us in though and I was able to get some nice footage of some seagulls and Ocean Princess, even though the sun was in a bad spot.

Heather and I went to the shops onboard and found a Matryoshka doll that we really liked, so we picked it up after dinner. I had lamb and barley soup as well as two orders of duck breast. We also caught a few minutes of Chilli Gold, an English vocalist who is on board for a few days.

Tomorrow, our tour doesn’t leave until 9AM, so we’re going to get a 7AM wake-up call and relax in our cabin.

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SRC 2015 – Day 11 – At Sea

by on Sep.20, 2015, under General, Scandinavia Russian Collection 2015, Vacation

In the early hours, Ocean Princess will leave the St. Petersburg traffic area, entering the Gulf of Finland. Today we will follow a west-southwesterly course through the Baltic Sea and later we will alter our course to the port, following the Estonian coast as we make our way towards Riga.

It was great to sleep in all the way to 8AM. Today has been the first day that the weather hasn’t cooperated, but since we’ve got no plans to get off the ship, it hasn’t been a problem. We went to breakfast in the dining room, and then I fought the Internet while Heather went to the spa.


For lunch, I had some sweet chicken wings, pasta with meatballs, and a very good “Hot Pot Pie” which is a chicken pot pie but with beef stew in it. I’ve never had such a thing, and was very impressed with it.

After lunch, Heather took a nap while I finally won my fight with the Internet and was able to post a few days’ worth of write-ups. At 3PM, Hector the Magician was having an up-close performance in the Tahitian Lounge, and we all went and watched him again. Unfortunately, this is going to be his last performance, even though Heather wrote to the cruise director asking for another. Actually, Andrew the cruise director just called our room to tell us that Hector is getting off the ship and won’t be able to perform again unless a miracle happens.

Tonight is formal night, and we’re skipping it. I generally like formal nights, but having three on a 14 day cruise is a bit much. Instead, we’re going to have a pizza made and eat upstairs in the buffet area. After dinner, the ship is having the champagne waterfall before another production show called Cinematastic. Tomorrow starts another few days in a row of tours, so we’ll probably head to bed shortly after the show ends. As I write this, the sun has just come out for the first time today!

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SRC 2015 – Day 10 – St. Petersburg, Russia

by on Sep.18, 2015, under General, Scandinavia Russian Collection 2015, Vacation

On departure from St. Petersburg this afternoon, Ocean Princess will turn 180 degrees and re-trace her tracks down the Neva River. Later this evening, we will pass the city of Kronstadt on our starboard side, exiting through the St. Petersburg Dam. We will subsequently follow various courses through the St. Petersburg traffic area towards the Gulf of Finland.

Our wakeup call came in at 5AM, but Heather was up long before that due to excitement. This was the day that she has been waiting for, and thusly the reason for this itinerary. When I saw the sun beginning to light up the sky, I set up the camera on the balcony and went upstairs to have some fruit and bacon. Our tour was meeting at 7:15 this morning, so we had to be ready. Thankfully, we went to bed promptly after the local folk show last night, so we were rested.


Immigration was much quicker than yesterday. We basically walked right through, bust still held off smiling at the officers. I nodded when asked a question. We boarded the bus and learned that we had two tour guides today, one being Marina, who we had yesterday. There was also a woman on our bus who really shouldn’t have been anywhere except her stateroom, as she had a horrible wet, phlegmy cough and was infecting the whole bus.

We drove for about 45 minutes along some very modern highways to our first stop, and the highlight for Heather: Catherine the Great’s Palace. It was a cold morning, and since I was so warm yesterday, I decided to leave my fleece on the bus. This was a bad idea. The palace wasn’t going to open for a good hour after we arrived, so we all walked around the beautiful gardens, me being the only one sans coat. Even when we got to the main gate at opening time, we were told that they were delaying it for another 15 minutes. Argh! Russia is cold. Our tour guides took us to a bathroom stop in another little gift shop. When I came out of the tiny little bathroom, I saw Heather looking at more Russian hats. She found two that she liked, and one of them looked very good on her. I ended up getting this one for her, and then took a few photos outside of Catherine’s Palace with her new hat. We entered the palace and walked around golden rooms that were like nothing I’ve ever seen before. We were also taken through the Amber Room, which has been in the news lately, but is called the “Gold Room” there. It’s a room that’s completely made up of chunks of amber, all the way down to the picture frames. We weren’t allowed to photograph it, but it was the highlight of the palace. I may or may not have captured a small amount of video of it from the previous room…


We then boarded the bus and drove 45 minutes through some shady areas until we came to an ultra-modern shopping area. One building here was designed to look like a large shell, with a huge glass sphere depicting a pearl. We were heading a few blocks down from it to a “steakhouse” for lunch. We sat on couches and a similar band played for us, but this time, the male singer’s voice was so loud that it was like he was yelling at us in Russian. Today’s lunch consisted of mushroom soup, salad, and steak tips in a mushroom sauce and the same potatoes as yesterday. This restaurant seemed to replace dill with mushrooms. There were train trolleys running around this area, which were cool to watch.

We boarded our bus and headed towards Peterhof, which is another huge palace. It’s famous for being on the water and having many fountains. Elizabeth built Catherine’s Palace for Catherine, and Catherine built Peterhof for Peter. They wouldn’t let us photograph inside, but I was able to capture some nice video of the gardens. Inside was impressive, but I preferred Catherine’s Palace from earlier in the day. Both were spectacular though.

Back onboard, we skipped dinner for a Mexican buffet. This is because we were scheduled to leave St. Petersburg at 6PM, right in the middle of dinner, and I wanted to film us heading down the Neva River. I was able to capture over an hour, which will end up taking 30 seconds or so once I’m done with it. We’ve now exited the river and are heading back towards the Baltic Sea. The movie “Spy” is on the television, and we’re going to watch it because tomorrow is a sea day, hence no wake-up call!!

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SRC 2015 – Day 9 – St. Petersburg, Russia

by on Sep.18, 2015, under General, Scandinavia Russian Collection 2015, Vacation

After departing Tallinn yesterday, Ocean Princess followed the various traffic separation schemes through the Gulf of Finland as we made our way towards St. Petersburg. In the early hours, we will enter the St. Petersburg traffic area, boarding our pilot shortly afterwards. We will subsequently pass through the gates at the city of Kronstadt, entering the narrow channel that leads to the Neva River and eventually our berth.

Last night we went to bed early, but not until after we saw a magician named Hector. He was really great. The Carbonara and Turkey Pot Pie were also excellent.

Heather woke up at 5:10 and I about 20 minutes later. I’ve been to many ports over the years, but I don’t think anywhere has been anything like entering St. Petersburg. We were navigating up the Neva River to our berth right in the middle of the city. This is yet another location that larger ships generally can’t get to, and they have to port some 15 miles away. Somebody told me that Royal Princess has been here before, so it may be possible. Turing that ship around in this river would be some feat! On one side, there were shipyards, and the other, a trash dump, with large apartment buildings in the background, some of which appeared to be smoking. Upon closer inspection, there were power plant towers amongst them, producing the smoke.

We had an early tour today, so we grabbed a quick bite and met Mom and Dad in the Cabaret Lounge. We noticed that the immigration barge was queuing quite a long line, so it took a while to get into Russia. We were told not to joke around or even smile at the officers, or they could arrest us. They really mean business here. Once on the other side, we boarded a bus and took a short drive over to the Winter Palace, otherwise known as the Hermitage.


I’ve been to many museums, and by far the most impressive has been the Vatican Museum in Italy. Without disrespecting the Vatican Museum, The Hermitage makes it look like a local art shop. This place is just amazing, and we saw works from Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, and an entire room full of Rembrandts. There were many enormous vases made out of Blue Lapis and Malachite. A great part about this museum was that it was Monday, and thusly, it was closed to everyone except the ~50 or so passengers from our ship. I can’t speak highly enough about this fabulous museum.

We then drove back towards the ship and had lunch at a local restaurant, where I learned that Russian cuisine is not for me, but I’m somewhat picky. We arrived to plates of caviar, some sort of salad, a shot of vodka, a flute of champagne, and a bottle of water. I had some water and a piece of bread. We were then brought chicken dumpling soup with a huge amount of dill in it. I had a few dumplings. A small troupe serenaded us with local music, and we bought a CD from them. After that, we were given a plate with a sausage thing on it and some mashed potatoes (with a huge helping of dill in the middle). This was pretty good. Dessert was the best… baklava. It was delicious.

After lunch, we drove around the city for an hour or so until we stopped at a small shop to use bathrooms and look at Matryoshka dolls, etc. A little backstory here… Back in 2010 when we visited Alaska, we went into a small shop in Skagway and Heather saw some Russian fur hats that she liked. She looked really good in them, but they were upwards of $1000, and we ended up getting a nice totem pole instead. I remember telling her that if we ever travelled to Russia, I’d get her one… great thinking Jay.

Anyways, back to this little shop in St. Petersburg… they had these hats in the back room. Heather tried on a few of them, and eventually found one that she liked. It had some tassels on the back of it, and I thought it looked a bit weird, but she liked it. We noticed that it was missing a tassel, and the shopkeeper said that she would discount it. We then noticed that it had been ripped apart and fixed previously, and in the end, decided against getting it. I hope that we can find something that works on this trip however, or I’ll be in some trouble.

After our little pit stop, we headed in the direction of St. Isaac’s Cathedral. This cathedral is known to have the largest golden dome in the world, and many beautiful mosaic pieces of art. It’s made out of marble throughout, and really is a nice-looking church. Before entering, Dad and I noticed that there were people walking around the dome way up high, but our tour guide Marina told us that this was not part of the tour. Bummer, as it would have been a great place to take photos.

We then took a very short ride back to the ship, and thankfully so, as we were exhausted, and have another very long tour tomorrow. Since we’re staying in St. Petersburg overnight, some local folk singers and dancers came on board and gave us a wonderful performance.

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