“I just want more of her.” A wonderful piece on the late lamented food writer, Laurie Colwin.

Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm Syndrome

Dear Kay, You don’t think of the word agile all that often when you’re on a cruise ship. It feels so big, so unwieldy and ridiculous. There’s an atrium, for heaven’s sake. A ship shouldn’t have an atrium. Before long, though, you realize that a minutely choreographed dance is going on all around you, a perfect coordination of people working very hard. You glimpse the details: three dozen bowls of roses sit on the...

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Helsinki and the Partial Leonardo

Helsinki and the Partial Leonardo

Dear Kay, We almost didn’t see Helsinki. That’s just a fact. Almost slept through it. After three days of pectopahs and blasting around St. Petersburg, the fellas were double jetlagged–you lose two hours from Copenhagen to St. Petersburg, just when you’re over that first jetlag. And they were homesick. For the ship. We had missed Team Trivia two days in a row. Captain Dag had taken all the kids up for a tour of the...

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St. Petersburg: Land of Many Monumental Contrasts

St. Petersburg: Land of Many Monumental Contrasts

Dear Kay, Among the Things They Think You Want To See is the large category known as monuments. I don’t mind a monument. But the density of monuments in Russia is really, really something. In the basement of the Estonian Museum of the Occupations, they have a bunch of leftover Lenins gleefully removed from every street corner in 1991 when Estonia became independent. In St. Petersburg, our poor guide could barely finish describing Catherine...

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St. Petersburg: Land of So Many Contrasts That It All Blurred Together

St. Petersburg: Land of So Many Contrasts That It All Blurred Together

Dear Kay, Top down, bottom up. Top down, bottom up. That’s the phrase that came to my mind, over and over, as we toured St. Petersburg. The push of dictators, the push back from the people below them. The revolutionaries become the oppressors, up goes down, down goes up. Our steady American democracy, however balky it sometimes feels, has nothing in it to match the sort of ferocious upheaval that Russia has experienced. Our watery borders...

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Tallinn, Estonia: Land of Many Contrasts

Tallinn, Estonia: Land of Many Contrasts

Dear Kay, At about this point in the trip, I started to feel seriously stupid. The street signs were starting to get to me–I couldn’t figure out the name of anything, and the increasing number of umlauts and serial vowels meant that I was sounding out words in my own made-up Danish/Swedish fake language. I sounded like somebody from The Vague Land of Scandinavia. Furthermore, all the money in my pocketbook was colorful, varied in...

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Visby: Land of Many Contrasts

Visby: Land of Many Contrasts

Dear Kay, Until this trip, my knowledge of basic northern European geography was embarrassing. If anybody had asked me whether Denmark and Sweden are neighbors, I would have said, “Yeah, or Holland. Isn’t Holland in there?” I’m including this handy Baltic Sea map to show you our itinerary, and also in case anybody else gets the jones for a sea-based yarn crawl. I’m telling you, it is impossible to travel this...

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Copenhagen: Land of Many Contrasts

Copenhagen: Land of Many Contrasts

Dear Kay, So we made it to Copenhagen, on a flight stacked to the bulkheads with attractive co-passengers. One gorgeous mom mesmerized us all by walking up and down the aisle with her downy-headed tot in her arms, fresh as a daisy at 3 am, her tiny bundle of Danish DNA smiling delightfully or snoozing in a picturesque way. As I endlessly adjusted my Saran Wrap blanket and wondered whether I was getting the flu, I thought, What is this strange...

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