Fabulous day out and about…Unreal photos from one year ago…Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world…A building anomoly…

 

The view of the ocean as we explored the area and dined.

It was definitely time to get out after two weeks with a few outings due to my recent illness. Although not yet 100%, the fresh sea air, and sunshine were exactly what we both needed to freshen our enthusiasm and usually joyful spirits.

As summer approaches, we expect this area to be jammed with tourists.

Starting the day with our first walk in the neighborhood, we were enthralled with the sights and sounds as we made our way up the very steep hill. I was surprised how easily we tackled it after weeks of laying low. For me, this will become a daily occurrence as I rebuild my health stamina. Let’s see if I can get Tom to join me most days.

The Don Luis Restaurant is located on the right with many tables outdoors and inside. 

Later in the day we easily found our way to the boardwalk in Ribeira Brava and after parking the car in the modern ramp, we were enthused to stroll along the shops and narrow streets lined with a variety of vendors selling local wares.

The outdoor area of the restaurant, a popular tourist spot.

We felt liberated when it suddenly dawned on us how this beautiful island and lovely home made us feel comfortable and free of constraints and unfamiliar customs. We freely held hands and took photos with nary a vendor’s opposition. Our perusing presented no pressure to purchase.

We chose a table closest to the ocean under a bright red umbrella, casting a red glow on all of our photos.

It was interesting to see new merchandise as opposed to the common items we walked passed day after day in Morocco. Without a doubt, Morocco had its charm and unique persona. Madeira is more relaxed, moves at a slower pace, and provides the expanse of fresh cool ocean air, so appealing to our senses. 

Tom was more relaxed than I’d seen him in months.

It felts so wonderful to be out in the fresh ocean air.

During the later fabulous dinner at Don Luis which we easily found in the area, we discussed the possibility of returning to Madeira someday. Similar to South Africa, in the warmth of its people and magical surroundings we’ve easily embraced our surroundings in no time at all, feeling as if we belong.

My prawn and squid skewer.  Delicious! I haven’t had squid since we were in Kenya

Our house overlooking the sea feels like home with its views, spaciousness, and clean lines. Everything is comfortable from the L shaped leather sectional to the leather-bound dining rooms chairs to the fluffy down comforter on the bed (to which we’ve adjusted, sleeping well), to the easy to use modern kitchen, to the huge soaking tub, I use every morning. 

Tom’s mixed grill with a side of chips (they call fries “chips” here, too).

Dining last night was divine as shown in these photos. The price for our meal including one large beer for Tom, two bottles of sparkling water for me, a side salad, and our entrees came to a total of US $63.39, EU $46.50, similar to the cost of our dinner out a week ago at Muralha. 

A side dish of steamed veggies was seasoned to perfection with garlic butter and spices.

Based on our budget of US $1200, EU $880, for restaurant dining, we plan to dine out no more than twice every 10 days or so, choosing the nicer establishments. Most less expensive restaurants have few suitable options for my way of eating when many items include gluten and starch.

Had I realized the extra cost for this small salad I would have passed on it.  It was US $6.82, EU $5, not worth it. From what we’ve observed, salads aren’t served with salad dressings outside the US unless specifically requested which I don’t bother.

 


The service at Don Luis was superb and to our delight both of our wait staff spoke excellent English.  At the end of dinner, they poured us each a shot of banana liqueur. I handed mine over to Tom as usual.  He chugged them both down with a scowl of his face.  He’s not a “shot” kind of guy.
Ice cream cones and other ice cream bars are often seen in these freezer carts outside of restaurants and shops.

Last night when Gina stopped by she suggested we try two of the local less expensive restaurants here in Campanario.  She pointed us in the direction of the restaurants. The trick is finding them on these maze-like mountains.

GPS doesn’t help  in these mountains and turn by turn directions are confusing when many streets aren’t clearly marked.  Today, we may try to find them when we head out to the nearby local market.

View as we were leaving Ribeira Brava at 7:00 pm.

We had a wonderful afternoon and evening, settling in for the evening after dark with a few new shows to watch, hunkering down on the comfy sofa with a blanket on our laps and content to be “home.”  Life is good.

More photos of our trip to the village will follow tomorrow. 

Yes, even a pigeon holds our interest fluffed up and standing on one foot, in this relatively wildlife sparse area.

 

Hummm…the pigeon pair that hung around us as we dined managed a little action of their own while they too, enjoyed the romantic setting.

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Photo from one year ago today, May 31, 2013:

 Tom took this photo from the 124th floor observation deck of the tallest building
in the world, the Burj Khalifa, with a total 163 stories.

Oh. Here’s the most intentionally crooked skyscraper in the world in Abu Dhabi, UAE, the Capital Gate, built at a full 18 degree angle.

 

 

A weather phenomenon in Madeira that we followed by the hour….A year ago…the most amazing ATM in the world!

 

We took this video on Wednesday as the low lying clouds rolled in. It was awe-inspiring.

We’ve been in Madeira for two weeks as of today, all of which I’ve spent being ill with an awful virus. Several days ago I reported that I was feeling better only to have the illness return later in the day. It’s still hovering in my sinuses slowly getting a little better each day. Tom continues to have signs of the virus lingering, almost a month later.

As a gust of wind came in from the sea, the density of the cloud escalated.
It was a picturesque setting.

Leaving the house requires driving on mountainous roads with many hairpins turns enough to make the toughest passenger’s stomach lurch and head spin. Add Tom’s somewhat jerky five-speed driving, none the less highly competent and safe, and one can easily become queasy when already sick with a dizzying sinus infection.

Every which way we turned, the view was beautiful.

As a result, we’ve stayed in except for a few short outings. We’ve dined out only once. Tonight we’ll try again heading to the village of Ribeira Brava to a different restaurant, a 15-minute drive through mountains, tunnels, and many turns. If that goes well, soon we’ll begin getting out more frequently.

Those who live close to the sea may have an opportunity to witness a day such as this.  But, for us, formerly from the US Midwest, far from the sea and mountains, it was a new experience.

After researching what’s to do in Madeira we’ve discovered most of it revolves around hiking, horseback riding, and scenery overlooking the sea, much of it high in the mountains and others out to sea. 

At this point, we could barely see the ocean.
For a short period, there was an opening making it possible to see the ocean.

The “out to sea” adventures appeal to us most especially when the weather warms over the next month. We’ll play it by ear.

We took the photos are various times of the day when it was like this for the entire day.

 

This hill is directly across from us.

We love being home with the ever changing views overlooking the valley and the ocean. It was two days ago that we witnessed an entire day of changing weather, clouds, and sky that literally took our breath away, a low cloud cover morphing into one amazing view after another. 

At times, the clouds moved close to us, wafting away a short while later.

 

Unquestionably, the close proximity to the ocean had an effect on the clouds.

The above video was taken on Wednesday as were all of the included photos. Perhaps some of them appear repetitious but, being amid this scenario was exciting as we were drawn to its magic, that we spent most of the day on the veranda.

When we lived in the mountains of Tuscany last summer, we had a few days of low lying clouds which we’d posted at the time.

It was fascinating how quickly the scenery changed.

Last summer we watched an episode of the Bachelorette where one of the “dates” consisted of visiting the top of a mountain in Madeira, the Pico do Arieiro, one of the highest peaks in Madeira where the same cloud cover occurred during the filming of the show.

We imagine that the locals are used to this.  For us, it was a rare treat.

 

An opening gave us a peek at the sun setting behind the mountain. With only a gentle breeze, the clouds moved quickly.

When we watched that episode, knowing at the time that we were coming to Madeira, we were amazed by the low clouds wafting around Desiree and her date. Wednesday, here at our home, we had a similar experience, much to our delight.

We were amazed as it inched closer to us.
Looking over the veranda at the house below us.

Visiting that particular mountaintop requires a 2 to 3-hour hike each way, something that I don’t believe we are up to at this point. But, when the experience came to us here at home, we began to wonder if “safari luck” may have in fact followed us to Madeira, minus the wildlife.

As darkness fell, our veranda became cloudy as well.

As I write this today, I see the hilltops begin to become shrouded in more fluffy clouds. Ah, Mother Nature, she certainly knows how to give!
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Photo from approximately one year ago today, May 30, 2013:

A pure gold dispensing ATM at the Emirates Palace Hotel which we toured a year ago., one of the most expensive hotels in the world. Insert a credit or debit card, select your desired amount of gold, and out pops the gold from the machine. Wow! We couldn’t believe it when we saw this. For the rest of the day’s activities, please click here.

 

Cruise to Australia details…Itinerary, cost, details, deck plan and how we chose a cabin…

 

No matter how busy we may become in planning for the future we never fail to stop and notice the beauty surrounding us at the time, whether its a simple flower on our veranda or an expansive view.

Following is the information about the cruise we’ve booked in Sydney, Australia on May 24, 2015. Once we arrive in Sydney, we’ll stay for a few days to see the beautiful city and then take off for the first of several vacation homes in which we’ll live in various parts of the continent.

One of our top priorities will be to go on a wildlife photography safari which we’ll arrange to occur between vacation homes to avoid added costs. Australia has a wealth of wildlife and scenery we can hardly wait to see. 

When we leave Australia we’ll then move on to New Zealand where we’ll also live for a yet to be determined period of time taking advantage of what treasures this island will also have in store for us.

Once again we booked our cruise with Vacations to Go although we’re now working with a new rep when Joaquin our former rep is no longer employed. With a little work, we’ve found a new rep and so far we’re pleased with her assistance. Anna Urban can be reached by email at aurban@vacationstogo.com

Here’s the cruise to Australia that not only provides us with transportation to Australia but also interesting ports of call along the way. Scroll further down the page for the cruise itinerary.

Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas

One of Royal Caribbean’s Vision-class ships, the Legend of the Seas is well-equipped with many of the line’s signature features. The multilevel Centrum, an open atrium with gliding glass elevators, palm trees, panoramic windows, and gleaming brass, is the center of all the action and an ideal spot to gather for a pre-dinner cocktail and listen to live music. Other popular hot spots include the convivial Schooner Bar, the sophisticated Champagne Bar, and the Viking Lounge, which is an observation point by day and a pulsating dance club at night. There’s also a glitzy casino, a show lounge, and Solarium with a glass-enclosed pool area and retractable roof. Go for a seaside jog on the top deck, spend a few hours being pampered, or work out with a view at the Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center. Kids will love the 18-hole miniature golf course and Adventure Ocean youth facilities located on the top deck. The Windjammer Café is a casual alternative to the formal, two-level Romeo & Juliet Dining Room. Staterooms amenities include a private bath, vanity area, and sofa, as well as a mini-bar, hairdryer, TV, and phone. Legend of the Seas
 Ship Statistics 
Year Built 1995
Last Refurbished 2013
Tonnage 70,000 tons
Registry Bahamas
Length 867 feet
Beam 105 feet
Passenger Capacity 2,076
Crew Size 720
Total Inside Cabins 327
Total Outside Cabins 575
Cabins & Suites w/ verandas 231
Suites 87
Maximum Occupancy per room 7
Age Restrictions One person must be 21 or older
Dinner Seatings 2
Seating Assignments 
in Main Dining Room
Assigned
Dining Hours 6:00 p.m. & 8:30 p.m.
Dining Room Dress Code Dining
Tipping Recommended? Yes
Tipping Guidelines Royal Caribbean will automatically add a $12.00 USD gratuity ($14.25 USD for Suite guests) to each guest’s onboard SeaPass® account on a daily basis. 15% tip included on beverage orders.
Onboard Currency US Dollar
Services & Amenities
Bars/Lounges 8
Beauty Salon/Barber Shop Yes
Casino Yes
Note: The casino does not operate when sailing within the Hawaiian Islands.
Chapel Yes
Disco/Dancing Yes
Elevators 3
Hot Tub 4
Cell Phone Service Yes
Internet Center Yes
Wireless Internet Access Yes
Note: Available in certain areas
Laundry/Dry Cleaning Yes
Library Yes
Movie Theatre No
Outdoor Movie Screen Yes
Onboard Weddings Yes
Self Serve Laundromats No
Shops Yes
Showroom Yes
Spa Yes
Video Arcade Yes
Fitness & Sports Facilities
Basketball Court No
Fitness Center Yes
Golf Driving Net No
Golf Simulator No
Ice Skating Rink No
Jogging Track Yes
Mini-Golf Course Yes
Rock Climbing Wall Yes
Swimming Pool 2
Note: 1 Heated
Tennis Court No
Water Slide No
Water Sports Platform No
Cabin Features & Amenities
24-Hour Room Service Yes
Hair Dryer Yes
Safe Yes
Telephone Yes
Television Yes
Kids Facilities
Babysitting Yes
Children’s Playroom Yes
Kiddie Pool Yes
Supervised Youth Program Yes
Teen Center Yes
Special Needs & Requests
Adjoining Cabins
(private connecting doors)
Yes
Kosher Meals Yes
Single Occupancy Cabins No
Wheelchair-Accessible Cabins 17
Single Share Program No

The D2 Balcony Cabin we chose was an upgrade from the prices listed below. Plus, there was a sale in progress until May 31, 2014, much to our delight that resulted in a savings of US $1700, EU $1250.4. Had this discount not been offered, we would not have chosen this cruise. It was only Tom’s daily diligence in checking possible cruises that presented this opportunity. Below are the charges, after the discount:

Charges
Cruise (includes port charges) US $5,308.00, EU $3898.49

Government Taxes US $294.64, EU $216.73
Prepaid Gratuities US $408.00, EU $300.11
Total Sale US $6,010.64, EU $4421.22

Total Payments: Deposit Paid 5/27/2014, US$ 900.00, EU $662.01 Balance Due March 5, 2015, US $5,110.64, EU $3759.29

 Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas
 18 nights departing May 24, 2015  

Cheapest Inside $1,762
Cheapest Oceanview $2,182

Cheapest Balcony $2,460
Cheapest Suite $3,165

ITINERARY

DAY DATE PORT ARRIVE   DEPART
Sun May 24 Honolulu, Oahu, HI 11:00pm
Mon May 25 At Sea
Tue May 26 At Sea
Wed May 27 At Sea
Thu May 28 At Sea
Fri May 29 At Sea
Sat May 30 Moorea, Society Islands 8:00am 5:00pm
Sun May 31 Papeete, Tahiti, Society Islands 8:00am 9:00pm
Mon Jun 1 Bora Bora, Society Islands 8:00am 5:00pm
Tue Jun 2 At Sea
Wed Jun 3 At Sea
Thu Jun 4 At Sea
Fri Jun 5 Cross International Dateline
Sat Jun 6 Suva, Fiji 9:00am 5:00pm
Sun Jun 7 At Sea
Mon Jun 8 Ile des Pins, New Caledonia 7:00am 5:00pm
Tue Jun 9 At Sea
Wed Jun 10 At Sea
Thu Jun 11 Sydney, Australia 6:00am

Cabin Choice:

We chose the cabin based on several factors based on past experience:
1.  Avoid bars, restaurants, or discos above or below the chosen cabin.
2.  Avoid a cabin with the pool directly above due to the noise from the crew cleaning and moving deck chairs during the night.
3.  Avoid being too close to the bow or the stern of the ship. The center of the ship has more stability.
4.  Consider elevators, recreation areas and stairwells for possible noise.

The above listed prices for various cabins (before discounts) are based on the lowest prices, many of which may fall into the risks of our comments above.  We chose a D2 cabin as described below.  Each ship provides a deck plan from which to choose for example, as shown below, keeping in mind that each ship is unique:

Legend of the Seas Deck 7

Please scroll to the right for full view of the deck plan.
Superior Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony

Category D1

Category D2

Category D3

Two twin beds that convert to a Royal King, measuring 72.5 inches wide by 82 inches long, private balcony, sitting area with sofa bed, and a private bathroom. (190 sq. ft., balcony 37 sq. ft.)
Panoramic Ocean View Stateroom

Category PV

Floor to ceiling window. Two twin beds that convert to a Royal King, measuring 72.5 inches wide by 82 inches long, sitting area with sofa, vanity area and a private bathroom. (220 sq. ft.)
Superior Interior Stateroom

Category J

Two twin beds that convert to a Royal King, measuring 72.5 inches wide by 82 inches long, vanity area and a private bathroom. (142 sq. ft.)
Large Interior Stateroom

Category L

Two twin beds that convert to a Royal King, measuring 72.5 inches wide by 82 inches long, vanity area and a private bathroom. (142 sq. ft.)
Interior Stateroom

Category N

Two twin beds that convert to a Royal King, measuring 72.5 inches wide by 82 inches long, vanity area, and a private bathroom. (132 sq. ft.)

Legend:
Stateroom with sofa bed.
Stateroom has third Pullman bed available.
Stateroom has third and fourth Pullman bed available.
Connecting staterooms.
Indicates accessible staterooms.
Stateroom with sofa bed and third Pullman bed available.
Stateroom has four additional Pullman beds available.
Deck 7 (starts 4-29-15)

This is enough info for one day. We’ll be back tomorrow with more on Madeira for which will include photos of an interesting weather phenomenon that kept us outdoors most of the day on Wednesday, excited and in awe.

Happy day! 
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Photo from one year ago today, May 29, 2013:

Umer, our taxi driver, and tour guide took this photo of us before we entered the White Mosque. It was so hot! Tomorrow, we’ll be caught up on all the missing dates from the days we didn’t post while we were in Dubai. Watch for a great photo tomorrow! For the story and more photos from this date a year ago, please click here.

 

Plans for the future revealed!…A new continent…From Hawaii May, 2015 to ????

Yesterday, we’d planned for dinner in Ribeira Brava, a 20-minute drive through tunnels and mountains. With my equilibrium still whacked from the recent illness, I had to back out of our dinner plans and head back home, to dine in.  However, we managed to make it to this beautiful garden in Campanario. 

In the past year, we’ve spent many hours looking at the world map trying to decide where we’d ideally like to travel after our last booking in Kauai, Hawaii ending on May 15, 2015. 

After tiring of long flights and thinking back to our original plans of cruising to destinations, first, we picked a country or continent we’d like to visit. Then, we began the search for possible cruises that could take us to our chosen continent/country, even if it meant a fight in between.

How handy that a Honey Bee stopped by.

We worked on this premise for a while as we contemplated our options. The problem needed to be revolved due to the fact that we had more than one possible preferred location. Over these past months we had three options:

Our choices included:
1. Alaska
2. South America
3. Australia/New Zealand

The beauty of the terraced hills and garden in Madeira. Astounding!

A huge factor in the location we’d ultimately choose is the cost of living including the rent for vacation homes.  As it turned out, as hard as we tried, we couldn’t make Alaska work in the summer and there was no way we’d consider Alaska during at any other time of the year.

For a decent house, condo, apartment, resort, or lodge, the lowest rent for a property we’d find suitable started at US $5000, EU $3668.91 a month. Let’s face it, living in a less expensive run down the basic cabin for months in Alaska was not our cup of tea. Plus, Internet accessibility is an issue in many areas of Alaska.

We were unable to get a clear shot of the worn verbiage on this sign which we’d hoped to later translate.

With the size of Alaska, we’d have to move no less than three times to get a fair sampling of the huge state. With only three months of good weather, we’d feel rushed.

Through our travels, we’ve determined that our goal is to rent a house with a lake or an ocean view if possible.  Doing so in Alaska made it all the more unaffordable. 

Love these!

Based on our lengthy research these past few years, so far Alaska and Switzerland were the two locations in the world that we found to be the most expensive in which to live.

A month ago, we decided to let go of our hopes for Alaska at this time, which continues to have much appeal for us with its considerable wildlife. We’ve decided to save Alaska for the future when we hope to eventually tour the US and Canada.

It is surprising that cactus can grow in this cool climate that rarely tops 78F, 25C at the hottest point of summer in August and September.

Next, we went to work on South America, starting in Ecuador in order to visit the Galapagos Islands to see the wildlife, eventually settling in Ecuador for three months after discovering that many US ex-pats live in certain areas. 

We were able to find affordable housing in Ecuador on the ocean that fit our criteria. At one point, we’d also considered a trip to Machu Picchu in Peru but with the masses of tourists now traipsing through the lengthy trek, we lost interest.

Oh, that I wish I knew names of flowers to share here. Never the gardener, always the admirer, we’ve never learned the names of many flowers. To research each of these and to post them here, is not a task I care to undertake with “other fish to fry.”

After Ecuador, we’d move to another South American country, staying up to three months in each of several locations over perhaps a period of a year. Of course, a cruise on the Amazon River has definitely been on our list of desired future experiences. 

No matter how hard we’ve tried, we couldn’t get excited about South America at this time in our travels. At some point, we will. Also, we hope to return to Africa to visit Victoria Falls, go on another safari, see the gorillas in Rwanda and return to Marloth/Kruger Park, South Africa. (My heart sings as I write about returning to South Africa).

We do know this is a rose.  Wow!

In reality, we only have so much time. I’m 66 years old, Tom is 61. Will our health hold out? We can reasonably envision another 10 years of traveling Beyond that, who knows?

So folks, with much enthusiasm, we’ve decided on Australia and then later, off to New Zealand! Last night, we booked an 18-day cruise from Honolulu, Hawaii on May 24, 2015, heading to Sydney, Australia arriving on June 11, 2015, where we’ll stay for a few days (very pricey big city) and then move to the first of several homes we plan to rent on the continent. 

Could this be a poinsettia?

We’ll have an extra nine days “to kill” in Oahu, Hawaii, most likely in a hotel while we wait for the cruise to depart from Honolulu.

Now, we’re excited! Wildlife, the outback, the ocean, the friendly Aussies, and with many affordable houses by the sea in the smaller communities, we couldn’t be more thrilled.

Tom, overlooking the sea. Nice shot of him wearing the same shirt he often wears in an attempt to wear it out.  No such luck!

Checking out the weather, possible safaris, and vacation rentals, we’ll soon continue our search for where we’ll live, locking them up with deposits as we make our selections. 

We’ve already found several excellent options. However, this is a time-consuming process that will take months to accomplish. As we book each property, we’ll list them here with details and photos.

The warmth of the sun made it possible to take off my jacket as we perused the garden. I’ve been wearing my warmest long-sleeved BugAway shirts while feeling cold since we arrived.

Traveling the world is comparable to having a “job” requiring diligent research and planning. As anyone with a “job” we have free time to enjoy spending time where we are living at the moment. Mix it all together and we love all the parts; the research, the planning, and most of all, the living.

Having this decision resolved for the moment, we can sit back and “love the one we’re with,” the beautiful island of Madeira!

Tomorrow, we’ll post the details of the cruise to Australia, the ports of call, the cost for our balcony cabin, and the details as to how and why we chose our cabin. With eight cruises under our belts since January 3, 2013, we now have three more cruises to anticipate over the next 12 months.  Stay tuned.
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Photo from approximately one year ago today, May 28, 2013:

A side view of AIDer HQ, an office building in Dubai, UAE. This photo was posted on May 30, 2013, when we toured Dubai and Abu Dhabi the prior day. For the story for that day, please click here

 

 

Nights in Madeira…Breathtaking!…A new day…whew….Hello, Madeira!…

This is the nighttime view from our veranda! Tom said it looks like Las Vegas with all the lights. Not quite. These street lights stay on all night on the entire island.  This must be quite the view from a ship. Soon, we’ll take another nighttime photo when the stars are shining bright, but last night was cloudy.

This morning I awoke to a new day after a 12-day illness. I reminded myself of a goofy little dog we adored for 12 years who passed away five years ago, Ben. 

Each time we gave him a bath we washed his often troublesome “poopy butt,” a common affliction of little dogs after which he’d run around the house as fast as he could, excited to be free of his tangled butt. He was happy.

Last night, our living room. The lights cast a cozy glow.

This morning I awoke with a desire to run around the house like Ben, happy to be feeling better from the recent illness, not from being free of a tangled butt. Finally, the splitting headache and heaviness in my head are almost gone along with the glassy eyes, dizziness, and general feeling of malaise. Yeah!

Of course, the tendency is to go wild doing everything we’ve missed since we arrived in Madeira 11 days ago. But, I’ll be wise and gradually increase my level of activity building back my strength and stamina, sorely missing after days of being sick.

This morning’s view of the sea with white caps as the wind whistled through the hills.

Last night, we’d intended to dine out only for me to change my mind at the last minute when I couldn’t muster enough energy to go out. We ended up making a meal of scrambled eggs with Portuguese sausage, onions, mushrooms, and cheese with a side of green beans and salad. 

Late this afternoon, we’ll head to Ribeira Brava to walk along the boardwalk, peer into the windows of the shops and later try another restaurant. We’re both excited to get out, see the local “flavor,” take photos, and experience more delicious Portuguese food.

A freighter passing by.

Over the past several days, we’ve been planning our future travels when all of our reservations run out on May 15, 2015, a year from now. It’s hard to believe that with all of the advance planning that we’re less than a year away from the end of our bookings.

Now is the time to begin booking well into 2016 when many of the great vacation homes getting booked well in advance. Many have asked why we don’t “wing it” and wait until closer to our travel dates. The answer is clear to us.

What appeared to be a pleasure boat pulling a smaller boat.

We’ve learned that the best-priced vacation homes get booked well in advance. If we waited, we may end up paying more than we’d prefer or unable to find what we’d like for the quality we’d like at an affordable price. As it’s turned out, the planning well in advance has worked out well barring a few locations that weren’t necessarily ideal.

Our bedroom is above these heavy sliding doors with its own small veranda.

Hopefully, today or tomorrow we’ll wrap up the beginning of our planning beyond May 15, 2015, which we’ll share with you as each booking occurs. We’ve spent hours of discussions and researching our options as to where we’d like to go next. 

Gladiolus on the veranda a few days ago.

We take these decisions seriously to ensure we will be making the correct choices, now well-armed with experience and, most of all, knowing what appeals to each of us, the most. We feel confident we’re making the right decisions after many months of research.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with photos of today’s outing. See you then!

This morning, the gladiolus in full bloom. 

                                    _________________________________________________

Photo from approximately one year ago today, May 27, 2013:

With no story or photos posted on May 27, 2013, here is a photo of one of the jeweled (real jewels!) chandeliers in the Sheikh Zayed Mosque that we visited on May 29, 2013, for which we posted photos on May 30th. More will follow in days to come. No link is available for this date.

 

Memorial Day for all of you…A year ago…An unusual photo of us…See below…

 

Wild flowers growing in our garden

As most Americans celebrate Memorial Day today remembering our fallen heroes, families and friends gather together to enjoy the outdoors, cook on the grill and perhaps celebrate their first outdoor spring activity. 

The remembrance of those lost in defending our country is forefront in the hearts and minds of those who not only lost a loved one and for all the men and women who gave their lives with honor and dignity. 

Today’s view welcoming us to another glorious day in Madeira.

Once again, it feels peculiar for us to be so far removed from the observation of yet another holiday. However, with US news (English speaking) playing on the TV all day today, we can observe the holiday in our own way, watching stories and noting various gatherings throughout the country.

In our old lives, we too would have gathered with family and friends, cooking up an array of delectable foods to hopefully be enjoyed outdoors on a lovely day. 

More wildflowers in our yard.

Instead, it’s another lovely Monday here in Campanario, Madeira. We have laundry going in the front-loading washer and we’re showered and dressed for the day, looking forward to dining out tonight.  

Still under the weather, having decided not to use any antibiotics, I’m unable to do any serious walking yet leaving us staying close to home for now. 

Colors in nature never cease to amaze us.

It’s always surprising to us that we don’t get bored with a few household tasks to keep us busy each day other than laundry, cooking, dishes, making the bed, and picking up after ourselves. 

The garden in our yard has a way to go. It will be fun to watch it progress and to partake of its treasures.

Now that we’re doing all of these household tasks again after the two and a half month reprieve in Marrakech, Morocco, we’ve found that we actually enjoy being in charge of running our household, each of us sharing an equal load. 

Several times each day we walk out onto the veranda to breathe in the fresh ocean air, swoon over the view of the sea and the hills, and to embrace the ease and comfort we feel here on this beautiful island.

Terraces in the hills planted and ready for the season.

Have a safe, enjoyable, and meaningful day together with family and friends!
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Photo from one year ago today, May 26, 2013:
With a story without photos posted on this date a year ago, we have included a photo from the next day, May 27, 2013. Coincidentally, I was ill then with the same illness I have now and we had no choice but to cancel our plans to go sightseeing. However, a few days later, we did go sightseeing in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Here is a photo taken at that time with more to follow in the days to come.

OK, have a chuckle on me. My sister Julie and I laughed so hard on Skype over how goofy I looked in my abaya.  Tom looked rather handsome in his thobe.  It was 108F, 42.2C. I was still sick from the virus I got on the ship and was miserable wearing the hot silky black fabric while we toured the largest mosque in the world Sheikh Zayed Mosque located in Abu Dhabi, UAE, the richest city in the world. See this article for a list of the richest cities on earth. For the story from one year ago today, please click here.  Some amazing photos will follow over the next several days from our tour of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

 

Local shopping…Only one tunnel…A year ago in Dubai….

This is the gorgeous rose that Gina picked for me from her Mother’s garden. Her thoughtfulness warmed my heart.

Yesterday morning, anxious to get out for a few minutes, we made our way through a local tunnel to a quaint local grocer. Saturday morning, a flurry of activity surrounded the store with locals and tourists sipping coffee and eating at the outdoor café.

The local bakery and market are next door to one another, a short distance from our home.

The bakery next door to the grocer was packed with tourists who’d arrived on a small bus, most of which were drooling over one of the most delicious looking bakery displays I’ve ever seen. Wanting to ogle the myriad forbidden-to-me delights, we opted to hit the grocery store first to avoid the crowd swarming the bakery.

Would that I could. Oh, how we find comfort and pleasure in such treats!  It’s funny that eggs are also sold in this case.

Upon entering the small market, we didn’t expect much. At first, it reminded us of the tiny markets we frequented in Belize with limited options meeting our needs. The further we entered the store, we realized it was “L” shaped with a reasonably complete produce area and fresh meat counter. 

The smells in the bakery were heavenly as well as the sights!

Always preferring to support local businesses we quickly realized we could easily get many of the items we use in this little market with an occasional trip to the larger supermarket in Ribeira Brava. Other than bottled water, paper, and cleaning supplies (which we provide) prices at the little store were comparable to the supermarket.

All we needed were tomatoes, lettuce, and cabbage. The ripe red tomatoes proved to be the most flavorful we’ve ever had, all locally grown. The tomatoes we’d purchased in the US were mostly imported from Mexico, pale and flavorless. These were a rare treat.

The chocolate muffins and those below looked particularly appealing.

Tom grabbed some not-so-healthy snacks for himself (I kept my mouth shut) and shortly we were on our way to check out the bakery, now cleared of the tourists. 

After our “no photos” rules in Morocco, I hesitated when approached the bakery counter tentatively asking if I could take a few photos of the gorgeous confections. The baker spoke English. Smiling warmly he invited me to take all the photos I wanted. I explained that I was “gluten and sugar-free” but, if I hadn’t had these restrictions, I’d have been a good regular customer.

Looks as if the tourists arriving before us partook of these delights.

Over and again, much to my surprise, Tom prefers “junk” processed and packaged treats to a chemical free freshly baked confection. He says, “It’s what I’m used to.”

I don’t get that. I didn’t buy that “junk” in our old lives. I’d baked all the treats that I packed into his lunch each day or served on his days off. In later years, he confessed to stopping at the SuperAmerica (food and fuel) to purchase donuts and bismarcks when I wasn’t around, eating them in the car on the way to work. 

Close up of one of the muffins in the above photo.  Yes, I do miss this stuff although my health is a greater priority than my taste buds.

Our family members always called me “the food police.” Why did I do this? I only wanted them to live long and healthy lives free of the ravages of a poor diet.  In time, I did lighten up.  But, as our children well know, from time to time, I toss out a stern but loving warning about eating “junk.” 

Gina stopped to visit after picking spinach from the garden located on our property. She reminded us to take what we’d like. Her father tends to it, requiring no time from us at all. We won’t take advantage of this, leaving the bulk of it for his family and of course, offering to pay for anything we take. In any case, it’s enjoyable to watch the produce grow over these next months.

Look at the cream-filled items on the left.  I couldn’t believe Tom didn’t want any of these as opposed to processed packaged “junk.”

Later in the day, Gina appeared at the door with this beautiful rose she’d plucked from her Mother’s garden.  Once again, we’ve been fortunate to have found yet another kind and generous landlord, overseeing our comfort and pleasure for our entire stay in their properties.

As we sit here now, writing for today, we can hear the Sunday morning mass which is broadcast through loudspeakers through the entire village. Perhaps next weekend, we’ll be able to attend the mass.

Tom got a kick of the names of some of the alcohol offered for sale in the well-stocked market.

Later in the day, we’ll hear the loud music blaring from the speakers on the little white vans that drive through the area selling produce and fresh fish caught early in the morning. Gina suggested we stand on the road when we hear the sound and the driver will stop when he sees us. 

The spinach that Gina plucked out of the garden in our yard.

I can hardly wait to purchase freshly caught fish! She explained that negotiating was not typical in Madeira and that prices are reasonable avoiding the necessity of haggling, which neither of us enjoys.

This was everything we purchased after a visit to the local market.  I purchase vanilla and baking soda to make a coconut flour flan for me. Coconut, almond flour, and other nut flours are acceptable for my way of eating, only in moderation.

Still recovering we’ll spend another day at home, jumping up every hour or so to enjoy the views, the sights, and the sounds of this exquisite island. 
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Photo from one year ago today, May 25, 2013:

This photo was from the prior date due to a lack of photos on that date.

The tan building toward the right was the building in which we’d rented a unit for the 13 days we spent in Dubai. It was beautiful, the unit was located on the 47th floor of a 91 story building and was modern with all possible amenities including a pool. Dubai was interesting to see but, we’re not city people. On a few occasions, we put on our swimsuits heading to the pool, only to last a short time due to the extreme heat. For details of the story we posted on May 25, 2013, please click here.

 

‘The view of the ocean…Changes by the hour…We’ll never tire of this…

 

The sunset can only be seen in its entirety behind a nearby hill. Last night, we were able to see a mere touch of it with the pink color on these clouds.  Breathtaking!

Interesting fact about Madeira:

“Christopher Columbus came to the Madeira Archipelago in 1478, marrying Filipa Moniz, the daughter of Bartolomeu Perestrelo, the first governor of Porto Santo. She died shortly after giving birth to their son. Their house has been made into a small museum in Porto Santo.”

We will continue to add more “interesting facts about Madeira” from time to time. Porto Santo is one of only two inhabited islands in the Madeira Archipelago, which we hope to visit this summer.

The beginnings of the partial sunset view.

As we lounge most of the day while I await recovery from the illness, we only need to lift our eyes from the task of the moment and there it is, the view. 

Throughout the day the view changes as fluffy white clouds roll in, at times tinged with gray, all laced within the bright blue of a cloudless sky begging to appear and rule the horizon. 

The pink clouds were quite a vision.

An island, in the sometimes rough waters of the Atlantic Ocean has a rapidly changing climate. We’ve excitedly observed these changes over this past week  each time we’ve looked up from the task of the moment whether it’s washing dishes, researching for the future or writing to you here.

Waffle like clouds fill the sky.

Several times each day we open the heavy glass doors in order to savor the views of the changing scenery before us, at times the hills shrouded in shadows from the ominous clouds or sheathed in sunlight when it clears. 

It’s interesting to watch the progression of the clouds as they cast shadows on the island and the ocean.

Its difficult to distinguish the ocean from the sky, the blues melding into one huge mass of color. At times, white caps are clearly visible in the sea and at others, its as calm as glass. 

We only know too well about the rough seas of the Atlantic Ocean when we made the crossing last April with 50 foot, 15.24 meters swells lasting for three full days.

The billowing smoke to the right was from an outdoor grill.

In a little over three months, on August 31, 2014, we’ll again make the crossing when we sail from Harwich, UK to Iceland to Boston, MA, USA where we’ll stay for three days visiting family. 

With a lack of trepidation, we anticipate this next crossing with a sense of excitement and enthusiasm to once again be at sea which has proven to be one of our favorite elements of our travels. 

The gray clouds cast a shadow on the sea.

Of course, cruising is most enjoyable when we can avoid the common occurrences of becoming ill with Norovirus, which neither of us has ever had or a respiratory infection which we both caught last May on Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Sea.

As for my recent illness, I haven’t quite turned the corner. But, I’m grateful it isn’t nearly as bad as the bout a year ago while we were in Dubai, UAE for two weeks.  

Suddenly, huge clouds roll in to disappear from the island a short time later.

Desperately, trying to avoid taking antibiotics, I’ve been taking Tylenol for the fever and head pain while resting most of the day, only taking time out to cook an easy dinner. Tom has offered to get carryout food until I’m feeling better but I’m finding the moving about the kitchen has been good for me. 

Tom does everything else including waiting on me. Good care, good sleep and good food will surely aid in reducing my down time. I can hardly wait to feel well again.

A cloud cover over a part of our area presented an opening where the sun shone through on this point on the hill.

Soon, we’re leaving for a short stint to the local grocery store. Tom would gladly go without me but, an short outing will be a nice break after being cooped up these past several days.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend. Gee…I’ve almost forgot the taste of a brat.
                                               _____________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, May 24, 2013:

Shopping in Dubai, one of the richest cities in the world was indescribable. This fresh fish, flown in daily wasn’t as expensive as one might think in the exotic city. For details of the story on this date, please click here.

 

Cool climate, often windy…A welcome relief after a year of heat…

The old stone tunnel in our area used until the newer long tunnel was built in recent years.

It’s cool in Madeira, cooler than we expected. Other than the fact that we have no warm clothing, we don’t mind a bit.  For the past several days, I’ve been wearing the only hoodie in the house, Tom’s lightweight XL cotton fleece.

Please click here for today’s weather in Madeira

The nutrient rich hills of Madeira are readied for summer produce.

Today, I’m wearing the warmest of my BugsAway shirts in order to stay warm, although there doesn’t seem to be many insects here. This house has no heating or AC system which is most likely the same for all of the homes on the island.

Driving around Madeira is challenging, although the roads are newer and well maintained.

The hottest it ever gets here is in the 80F’s, 27F’s, but that’s not until August and September. We’ll be long gone by then. Over the next few months, we can expect highs in the low 70F’s, 21C’s and lows in the 50F’s, 10F’s.  Sleeping is pleasant under a fluffy comforter.

Many of the tunnels on the island are one way reducing the risks of accidents.

Our plans to get a bit of a tan from short stints in the sun is impractical in this month’s cool weather although the comfortable lawn chairs are awaiting us. It’s simply too cool to sit outside unless bundled up.

What story could this abandoned house tell?

To our surprise we don’t mind. After the hot summer in Italy, spring in Kenya, summer in South Africa and the heat of spring in Morocco, the coolness if a welcomed relief.

Campanario, where we live, is not nearly the highest elevation in Madeira. In other areas which we’ll visit, the mountains are at an elevation of over 6000 feet, 1828 meters. 

Perhaps soon, it will warm up enough to get some Vitamin D spending 15 minutes a day with bare skin showing sitting on the veranda in the sun.

Please click here for benefits of getting Vitamin D from sensible sun exposure.

More one way double lane tunnels in our area.

In reality, we haven’t had any regular sun exposure in over a year when we lived in Belize. It dawned on me that failing to do so may have impacted our ability to stave off infections and viruses. Once it warms up a little, we’ll be sitting outside 20 minutes a day.

We’re surprised by the excellent roads in Madeira.

Every location we travel has its pluses and minuses which become easily apparent within the first few weeks.  We’ve discovered that if we have a good house with views, are able to sleep comfortably at night, have access to reasonable food options for dining out and grocery shopping and feel reasonably safe, we are content. 

This hill is considerably steeper than it appears. When sitting at the top, one can’t see the upcoming road due to the steep drop off. 

All of these are definitely in order in Madeira. The difficulties of finding our way around on these confusing roads, the cool weather and the language barrier are easily managed with careful thought and planning. 

We are looking forward to getting out to take care of our yet undone errands in Funchal, dining out again, and beginning to explore our surroundings. Soon, we hope.

At the moment we hear the rooster crowing, the church bells ringing, the goats baaing, and dogs barking, all pleasant and familiar sounds. It’s beginning to feel like “home.”
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Photo from one year ago today, May 23, 2013:

On a walk in Dubai, we headed toward the marina where we captured this photo of the Atlantis Hotel at Palm Jumeriah, the palm tree shaped island extending into the ocean. For details of our story and photos on that date, please click here.

 

 

Anxious to go out…Troubles preventing it…

 

Tom, standing outside the Pharmacia, where I’d purchased a few OTC items. I listed all the items in Portuguese on my phone. There were several patrons in the store, a few who spoke a little English while I  fumbled with Portuguese, who welcomed us to Campanario. Wow, friendly!

During the long and arduous trip from Morocco to Portugal, I began to feel horrible assuming it was due to a lack of sleep the night the previous night. Once we arrived in Madeira and after a fairly good first night’s sleep, I wondered why I still felt exhausted and lethargic.  

Inside the tunnel on the way to the Pharmacia.

As the days passed, the tiredness and exhaustion have continued and now almost a week later, I am sick with flu-like symptoms that I can’t seem to kick. No longer can I blame being tired after many good long night’s sleep.

The scenery is breathtaking with all the homes on the hills in varying shades of white and beige.

Yesterday, on our way to the Pharmacia, which is nearby requiring only one tunnel, we discussed how many times we’ve been sick; two for Tom, one a respiratory infection on the Middle Eastern cruise we took one year ago to date and the most recent flu in Morocco about one month ago. 

The closest church in our neighborhood.  Bells ring every 15 minutes, music to our ears.

I‘ve been sick three times; once on that same cruise where we ended up in Dubai, one year ago yesterday making me horribly ill with a raging sinus infection and respiratory thing lasting during the entire two weeks we were in Dubai finally succumbing to taking antibiotics, a Z-Pack. 

The second time was the intestinal thing I picked up eating salad the first few days in Morocco, again requiring the antibiotic Cipro after suffering it out for 10 days in an attempt to avoid another antibiotic.

The view down to the “rapido” known as the freeway. The roads here are in excellent condition although finding one’s way around is challenging.

Now, I’m sick again. Back in the US each of us could go for a few years without a single cold or flu. We ask ourselves how we could have prevented these illnesses. The food thing was easily prevented. The rest, not so much. We do everything we can to maintain good health. We still fall prey.

A neighbor standing on the roof of his house with laundry blowing in the breeze.

In each case of illnesses, we had been around massive numbers of people. Both of us are fanatics about washing our hands both out and about and at home. 

It appears that many residents plant terraced gardens on the hills.

We share this information with our readers not to elicit sympathy, although we do get tons of that (thanks to everyone for their good wishes during our illnesses). Instead, we do it more so to explain that at the moment, we aren’t out and about exploring the sights and posting amazing photos while we’re sick. Of course, we’re chomping at the bit to get out more than we have so far.

Tom asked me yesterday if I’d ever tire of the view. “Never!” I answered. When would one ever tire of a view of the hills and the sea?

At the moment, only short trips are possible while I’m still under the weather, preferring to be lying down as opposed to sitting in the car on the hilly winding roads. 

Notice how close the clouds are at the top of the hills.

In the interim, we have plenty of food. Somehow, we managed to make the pizzas yesterday with a fresh one left to bake for tonight’s dinner with a salad on the side.

A cloudy day in the nearby hills.

I wish I could say I’m on the mend. At this point, I feel as if I’m in the throes of the worst of whatever it is.  Hopefully soon, I’ll turn the corner, anxious to explore this gorgeous island sharing photos and details of our discoveries.  In the interim, we’ll continue to post new photos each day from our immediate surroundings and from any short trips.

Patience my friends…for the patient.

                                                  _____________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, May 22, 2013:

Coincidentally, it was one year ago today, that I wrote about being stricken with the illness that plagued Tom and other passengers while on the Middle Eastern cruise. Also on this date,  we posted a story about an article about how my health had changed from the change of diet. Unfortunately, no diet prevents one from catching viruses. This was the only photo we posted on that date, the photo I’d used for the article. For details and a link to that story,
please click here.