From Amsterdam to Gdansk
As the Semester at Sea ship passed from Amsterdam to Gdansk through the waters of the North Sea and into the Baltic, the shipboard community was busily getting acquainted, beginning classes and forming groups around mutual interest and concern. I am happy to report that the Earth Day 2020 Group was among the most popular of these and that a young woman from the contingent of students from the University of San Diego has volunteered to work with me in doing our work throughout the voyage. Her name is Jackie Gold, and she is pictured here just before our disembarkation to various places in Poland. The group will meet together and begin its work after we depart Gdansk and make the trip through the Kiel Canal and on Lisbon. There are some 60 students, faculty and staff, and Lifelong Learners in the group from places all across the United States as well as a few students from other countries.
As I write this I am sitting on the terrace of a quaint cafe in the Old Town district of Gdansk, an espresso at my elbow and my heart filled with gratitude and joy to be here. I am sending a couple of photos from the canal nearby that runs through the city. It is Sunday afternoon and people are walking about in fairer weather than was forecast for today. I left the ship prepared for rain and took a taxi into town with three students to make the 15-minute drive from the quay where the ship is berthed.
Telephone, email and internet access is very limited while the ship is at sea, and so my reports will be made when the ship is in port, as will most of my communications with friends and loved ones at home. I have been blessed to be upgraded at no charge from a cramped economy single room to a larger room with more than ample space, and I have had the two single beds placed together to form a bed that is nearly as large as the entire floor area of my tiny room in Amsterdam. The food served in the two cafeteria-style restaurants is varied and generally very good, and I am eating better than I have been during the last four years in my bachelor’s apartment in Santa Barbara.
I have been walking miles on the outside decks of the ship each day, as well as climbing up and down the stairs from the six-deck levels several times a day to move between my room, the classrooms, the library, the restaurants, the faculty lounge and other places on the ship. Despite eating well, I have lost some extra weight. When we head for Portugal I will lead “body song" sessions with the many members of the shipboard community who have signed up to do so. More about this and much else later on. For now, I remain, in service, gratitude, and joy.