The QM2 is supposedly 236.2 feet high. The original Queen Mary that debuted in 1936 which sits in Long Beach, California is 181 feet tall. QM2 has 17 total decks and 13 passenger decks. The original Queen had 12 decks, at least as far as I can determine. The fad seems to be to make cruise ships taller. Inevitably some decks are going to be farther and farther away from those lifeboats. In the dark without electricity and perhaps with a ship that’s starting to list to one side like the Costa Concordia and the Lusitania, that makes it all the more difficult to reach those lifeboats even with the aid of stairs.

Disclaimer: I don’t mean to imply that any cruise ship approaches the literal height of the Twin Towers. I’m using the Twin Towers as a metaphor and a warning.

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It just occurred to me that tall modern cruise ships can be as dangerous as the tall Twin Towers in 2001 in New York. If passengers are dependent upon using elevators to descend many levels to the main deck where the lifeboats are stored, they are in trouble — perhaps as much trouble as many of the denizens of the Twin Towers who didn’t use the stairs.

Cruise ships of yesteryear didn’t have this setup.

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This is the ship that the Benleys sail on to reach America when war is declared in 1939. They take their granddaughter, Thomasina Edwina Ware, with them to Pittsburgh. It is also the ship that Dora, Edward, and Churchill sail on in May of 1940 when they accompany the British fleet to America. By then it is called the Gray Ghost. People think the QM2 is impressive. But this seems to be the really historic ship that was launched in 1936. Would you believe that Bob Hope would be accompanying the Benleys on that last 1939 sailing to NYC right before the war?

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Best Western in Cologne? They seem to be everywhere. This one doesn’t even look like a traditional building. It must have been something else first. I wonder what. I don’t think it goes back to the Romans.

Here’s another Best Western in Brussels of all places! This one looks more like a palace than anything that resembles the Best Westerns in the U.S. along the sides of the interstates. The Romans really might have visited here.

This BW looks really modern. It reminds me of Erdman, one of the dorms at Bryn Mawr College where I was a stude

This hotel in Cologne looks like a hotel I stayed at before when I was in Europe back in high school. They haven’t changed much, have they. But then Europe doesn’t.

C’mon now, you’ve got to be kidding me about this BW between Nuremberg and Wurzburg. This is no simple Best Western. It looks like a place where a king might live. Either that or they’re taking a cue from Disney World and turning it into a theme park.

Now this Nuremberg City Center Holiday Inn looks like it’s part of Old Town Nuremberg! I could picture a bunch of gnomes, dwarfs, and medieval types hanging out here in the beer hall. They would be dressed in leiderhosen and would have their own beer steins.

What a way to go! First you take a car to the East Coast. Then you sail across the Atlantic. You hop a car in Hamburg and drive through Belgium to France to hit Dunkirk. Then you drive back through Cologne, Nuremberg, and Weimar to return the car to the airport in Hamburg. This BW International airport hotel is as close as you can get to the airport and still stay at a BW. Then you hop the ship and find that set of wheels parked at the pier in Brooklyn. Wow!

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I hope this guide includes Dunkirk. I just wrote The Dunkirk Plot and need a guide. The table of contents promises a military guide to the Benelux, which is supposed to be Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. That sounds promising.

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I’m now reading the Baedecker Guide to Cologne. I think I can use the Schloss Augustusburg as a model for the schloss in Escape From The Berghof. I’m buying the Berlin Baedecker Guide because I hope I can find a schloss around Berlin. That’s the location in the novel — in the western suburbs.

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The Baedecker guide I just bought of Hamburg looks like an old one. You can tell by the sophisticated picture on the front that resembles a landscape painting. Nobody prints guides like this anymore. Now they always have flashy photos, especially modernistic ones. This is the sort of thing Dora might be carrying if she sailed to Germany in 1935 on her first visit with Edward to participate in the activities associated with the Anglo-German Naval Treaty. Even if she flew back she might have actually sailed there even though it was an official visit. Either that or they could have offered tours of Hamburg and Bremerhaven — naval centers.

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Wow! Dora would take this with her when she went to see the Sphinx at Christmas time when her mother-in-law showed up. It has the ambiance of the 1930’s in the picture on the front of the guidebook. And that’s when The Nazi Sphinx took place. Ditto Captive At The Berghof where Dora also tours the Sphinx. Authenic period details help add realism to the novels. It would be fantastic to actually go to Egypt. But it’s not exactly the place for American tourists since the British pulled out in 1956. With them left people like Dora and Edward.

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Munich would be our third stop on our whirlwind Germany/Austria tour in July. First would come Wurzburg which would be an overnight stop where we could experience our first real German dinner. Then would come Nuremberg, to see the Nazi Parade Grounds and the Documentation Center. About 60 more miles down the road we run into Munich. How do we get to the Mandarin Oriental near the Hofbrauhaus unless we buy this map? I was in Munich in 1970, but I certainly don’t remember where anything was.

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I’m trying to locate where to stay in Salzburg, Austria. That’s the Sound of Music town. It’s also in the shadow of the Berghof which is about 12 miles away. The very meadow where Maria first sang in the Sound Of Music is in sight of the big windows at Hitler’s country estate.

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