Part 4…New bookings…A new country…A new lease on life!…Tomorrow, our new itinerary!…

Mumbai.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“The longest river in the country is the River Shannon. The river is 360 km, 224 miles, long. The River Shannon (Irish: Abha na Sionainne, an tSionainn, an tSionna) is the longest river in Ireland.  It drains the Shannon River Basin which has an area of 16,865 km (6,512 sq mi), one-fifth of the area of Ireland.”

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As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we hesitated over spending so much on this cruise, especially after the cost of the Maharajas Train on which we’ll embark on February 3, 2020.  


We have two months to travel while in India while we look forward to this upcoming cruise embarking on April 3, 2020, ending in London on May 2, 2020, 29 nights later.


We’ve yet to decide where we’ll go when we arrive in London.  We have plenty of time for that, a little over 10 months.  We may plan to stay around Europe for a few months.  With the Schengen visa restrictions, we can only stay in most European countries for 90 out of 180 days.

There are several countries that aren’t part of Schengen.  For more details on Schengen visas, please visit this site.


According to visa regulations listed on many sites for India e-visa, a traveler from the US and many other countries may only stay for 60 days.  We’ll actually be in India for 63 days.  If necessary, we’ll apply for an extension through the Indian Embassy through the consulate in San Francisco, the location we must use as residents of Nevada.

However, at the governmental e-visa site for India, the following is clearly stated as follows:


“Stay:
Continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 90 days for countries except the USA, UK, Canada, and Japan. For the USA, UK, Canada, and Japan continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days.

Today, I sent them an email asking to clarify if a 90-day stay is accurate.  After all our visa issues these past few years, we aren’ taking any chances.  Nothing spoils a visit to a country like immigration issues.  

Anyway, back to the cruise fare…We weren’t thrilled that Viking requires payment in full so close to the time of booking and far from the time of sailing.  In this case, the final payment, as shown below is due in full on July 24, 2019, a little over three weeks from now:  

Cruise Fare $19,998.00  
E-Check Discount ($633.53)       
Past-Passenger Discount ($800.00)            
Grand Total: $18,564.47   
Total Deposit Paid: $483.50    
Total Balance Due: $18,080.97  Final payment due July 24, 2019 


Gifts/Amenities Included: 
Jessica Lyman: $300.00 Onboard Credit 
Thomas Lyman: $300.00 Onboard Credit 


We justified this expensive cruise based on the fact that we have three cruises we’ve booked with deposits we are able to transfer to later cruises, most likely to 2022, giving up plenty of time to recover the big expense.  


In the interim, we’ll wait and see if we can sail on the cruise from Lisbon to Cape Town on November 10, 2020, on Azamara, which visits many ports on the western side of Africa, a very rare cruise.  


We’re waiting to find out if the five-year ban from returning to South Africa is lifted for medical reasons.  We applied for the waiver almost seven weeks ago and have inquired several times to no avail.  They simply don’t respond to our inquiries by phone or email.  


On Friday, we inquired again and will do so every Friday until we get an update.  If we don’t receive the waiver, we’ll lose part of the deposit we paid and miss this exciting itinerary and plan when and if we’ll get back to Marloth Park.  When and if we do, we won’t stay longer than 90 days in South Africa.


Today, we’ve added photos and information about dining options on the Mumbai cruise with Viking including the complimentary specialty restaurants.  Please see below for details.



FastDeal
21770
29 nights departing April 3, 2020, on
Viking Cruises’ Viking Sun

Brochure Balcony $9,999
Our Balcony $9,999
You Save 0%

Brochure Suite $16,749
Our Suite $15,999
You Save 4%

Prices include select shore excursions and unlimited internet.
Book select categories by June 30 and pay a reduced deposit of $250 per person.
Promotions may not be combinable with all fares.

___________________________________________________________

Dining options on Viking Sun:

“The Restaurant
Cuisine: Continental
Dress Code: Elegant casual
Surcharge: No
Reservations Required: No
Hours
Breakfast: 8:00am – 10:00am
Lunch: Noon – 2:30pm
Dinner: 6:00pm – 10:00pm

The Chef’s Table
Cuisine: Continental
Dress Code: Elegant casual
Surcharge: No
Reservations Required: Yes
Hours
Dinner: 6:30pm – 10:30pm

Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant
Cuisine: Italian
Dress Code: Elegant casual
Surcharge: No
Reservations Required: Yes
Hours
Dinner: 6:30pm – 10:30pm

World Cafe
Cuisine: Variety
Dress Code: Elegant casual
Surcharge: No
Reservations Required: Yes
Hours
Breakfast: 7:30am – 10:00am
Lunch: 11:30am – 2:00pm
Dinner: 6:30pm – 10:30pm

Viking Deli
Cuisine: Scandinavian
Dress Code: Casual
Surcharge: No
Reservations Required: No
Hours
Check onboard for hours

Aquavit Terrace
Cuisine: Al fresco options
Dress Code: Casual
Surcharge: No
Reservations Required: No
Hours
Check onboard for hours

The Kitchen Table
Cuisine: Cooking school and restaurant
Dress Code: Casual
Surcharge: No
Reservations Required: No
Hours
Check onboard for hours

Mamsen’s
Cuisine: Norwegian breakfast and lunch
Dress Code: Casual
Surcharge: No
Reservations Required: No
Hours
Check onboard for hours

In addition to the restaurants mentioned above, the Viking Sun also features afternoon high tea in the Wintergarden, a pool grill and 24-hour room service. “



Last night, our dinner for guests was canceled due to an unexpected illness of one of our guests.  We’re hoping she will recover soon.  We ended up thoroughly enjoying the dinner we planned and spent a quiet evening at “home.”


Tomorrow, we’ll be back with our new itinerary.  Please stop back to see it!


Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, June 30, 2018:

The particular “dazzle” of zebras visiting that morning was all female except for a youngster.  For more photos, please click here.


Part 3…New bookings…A new country…A new lease on life!…More tomorrow…

In 2013 we sailed on a similar itinerary but this 29-night Viking cruise offers additional ports of call which appeal to us.  Also, other than Antarctica this was my favorite itinerary, sailing through the Middle East and the Gulf of Aden.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“In
2007, Ireland saw 40 straight days of rain.”

                   ____________________________________________


To ensure we’d get the full flavor of the country of India we decided to spend about 60 days traveling to several locations and staying a few weeks at each.  As mentioned in a prior post, we’ll attempt to spend little time in the cities with the most population, commotion, and traffic.


In India, the massive population in the big cities is one of its attractions bringing tourists from all over the world.  Certainly, we won’t miss out on this fascinating opportunity.  

Indoor pool.

Our days of staying in one location for many months, other than a few here and there, are over.  After my recent heart surgery, we felt we needed to take advantage of each and every day.  Staying in one holiday home for long periods, wouldn’t provide us with the quality of experiences we’re seeking at this point. 


Since I’m not yet 100% of my former self, how often we move about will be based on how I’m feeling down the road.  It’s difficult to determine right now.  In several months, we’ll know more and be able to plan accordingly.

Lounge area on the main deck.

When we knew we’d be in India, Tom got to work trying to find a cruise to and from Mumbai.  This is a preferred departure point by many but most cruises are outrageously expensive and beyond our reach.


His continued research resulted in him finding the cruise we’re describing here today, which we’ve booked with a bit of hesitation due to the cost but with considerable excitement over the ship and its luxury feel, its amenities, and the fact its a 29-and day journey.

One of two outdoor pools.

With many amenities included in the cost, such as unlimited high-speed WiFi, only 930 passengers, free specialty restaurants, complimentary self serve laundry (soap included) and no children under the age of 18 allowed.  


Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy children but on cruises, the running in the halls and public areas and the seeming constant screaming distracts from the otherwise adult experience.  Relaxation is the key along with adult conversations and activities.

This is the type of cabin we booked.  All cabins on the Viking Sun have a veranda.

The ship offers many educational sessions in the theatre as we approach port after port.  Since we’ve already visited a portion of the ports of call, we’ll venture out to see the more obscure locations or, if we’d like, stay aboard the ship when there are no tours befitting our preferences.

Comfortable theatre.

At each port, one tour is included in the cost.  Most certainly, we’ll take advantage of these, even if it is a bus tour of the city.  We’d already visited Petra in 2013 and making that long hot trek (45C, 113F or more) once again isn’t necessary.  It was a fabulous once-in-a-lifetime experience.  


To see our posts and amazing photos from Petra, of which there are several, please start at this link.

The Chef’s Table, a special dinner made for a small group in a kitchen on the ship, included in price.  It will be tough to get a reservation for this but we’ll try.  Also, we may be concerned if the special meal will work for me.

Today, we’re busy getting ready for two guests for dinner.  We’re doing it easy upon their insistence and based on my current limitations.  Thus, I won’t have to spend the entire day in the kitchen standing on my feet.


Tomorrow, we’ll be back with more to include the pricing on today’s cruise along with some peculiarities Viking Cruise Line insists upon with passengers during the booking process.

There are many lounge areas throughout the ship.

Please check back tomorrow.  For the ship’s list of amenities, please scroll to the bottom of today’s post.


Have a fantastic Saturday, wherever you are, whatever you do.  Thank you for stopping by!

VacationsToGo.com


Viking Sun

Ship Rating:
Expand your horizons on the 930-passenger Viking Sun. This ship features all veranda staterooms and a unique onboard experience, from the peaceful Wintergarden area around the main pool, perfect for a calming cup of tea; to The Spa, a sanctuary of wellness; to the Explorer’s Lounge, where passengers can share their latest adventures. Also included are inspiring onboard talks that help you understand every destination in depth. The Viking Sun was built with understated comfort and elegance in mind and ensures you will explore every destination in comfort.

Viking Sun is dedicated to adults and therefore does not carry children or teenagers under the age of 18.

Viking Sun

Ship Statistics
Year Built 2017
Tonnage 47,800 tons
Registry Malta
Length 745 feet
Beam 95 feet
Passenger Capacity 930
Crew Size 465
Total Inside Cabins 0
Total Outside Cabins 465
Cabins & Suites w/ verandas 465
Suites 47
Maximum Occupancy per room 2
Age Restrictions All must be 18-20 or one must be 21 or older
Dinner Seatings 1
Seating Assignments
in Main Dining Room
Open
Dining Hours 6:30 PM
Dining Room Dress Code Dining
Tipping Expected? Yes
Tipping Guidelines
Viking recommends $15.00 per day, per guest. These amounts may be given to the onboard staff in cash, or you may charge them to your credit card at the end of the cruise. Bar gratuities should be made at the time of purchase.
Onboard Currency US Dollar
   
Services & Amenities
Bars/Lounges Yes
Beauty Salon/Barber Shop Yes
Casino No
Chapel No
Disco/Dancing No
Elevators Yes
Hot Tub Yes
Cell Phone Service No
Internet Center No
Wireless Internet Access Yes
Laundromats (self service) Yes
Laundry/Dry Cleaning Yes
Library Yes
Movie Theatre Yes
Outdoor Movie Screen Yes
Onboard Weddings No
Shops Yes
Showroom Yes
Spa Yes
Video Arcade No
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 No
Rock Climbing Wall No
Swimming Pool 2
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 No
Children’s Playroom No
Kiddie Pool No
Supervised Youth Program No
Teen Center No
Water Playground/Splash Park No
Special Needs & Requests
Adjoining Cabins
     (private connecting doors)
No
Kosher Meals No
Single Occupancy Cabins No
Single Share Program No
Wheelchair-Accessible Cabins 2

__________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, June 29, 2018:

The sunset changed second by second, each scene more beautiful than the last while at Aamazing River View Restaurant last night.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…New bookings…A new country…A new lease on life!…More tomorrow…

 
India is a huge landmass proving us with endless opportunities to explore.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Ireland’s
flag has three colors for a reason. The green represents the Gaelic tradition
of Ireland, the orange is meant to represent those who followed William of
Orange and the white stripe in the middle represents peace between both.”

____________________________________________


This morning we took off early and headed to Clifden to grocery shop.  We’re having company for dinner tomorrow night and although we promised to make an easy meal, we still had to pick up a number of items at the market.

After my quick stop at the pharmacy for more bandages for my leg, while Tom went to the ATM for cash, we met at the market and breezed through our shopping list which I keep on an app on my phone. 

I’ve been using a grocery shopping app for at least the past 12 years, finding it so much easier than a handwritten list, especially since I can’t read my own scratchy handwriting.

In no time at all, we were back on the road for the 40-minute drive back to Glinsce and our holiday home.  We quickly put everything away while Tom worked on removing the ice from the tiny freezer.  We needed all the room we could get in the small space.

After the big chest freezer in Marloth Park, it’s quite a difference only having a freezer the size of a small chill box.  With the trays of ice and a bag of ice, there’s little room for food.  When he was done removing the ice, I got to work organizing the items and somehow managed to get everything inside including the ice.

In my life, before heart surgery, putting away groceries wasn’t a task.  But now, any activity that requires standing for long periods, bending down to put food into the below-counter refrigerator becomes a major undertaking.  But, I push myself to accomplish every task before me, knowing in time, all of these activities will only add to the rebuilding of my strength.

Today is our 28th anniversary from the night we met. We’re making a special dinner and will enjoy some quality time together reminiscing and thinking toward the future. 

Most prevalent in our minds are the bookings we made in the past several days; the luxury train in India, the Maharajas Express, the “Heritage of India” and a cruise, a fantastic 29-night cruise we can’t wait to share in tomorrow’s post.


In yesterday’s first post about the train, we promised to share more details of our upcoming train expedition beginning on February 2, 2020, a mere seven months from now.  It’s not that we’re wishing time to go by quickly.  Instead, its fun for both of us to plan into the future, knowing we have so much to anticipate.


We selected the deluxe cabin in order to keep the price down.  Sure, we’d love to have chosen a suite but the added cost is just not worth it to us.  
The main differential in cost is the size of the cabin and we’re fine in tiny spaces when we spend so little time in our cabin.


So here are the pricing details for the Maharajas Express, the “Heritage of India“:  

Prices Valid From 01 October 2019 Until April 2021

 Price in Sterling Pounds Per Person

Price Per Person Per Journey Deluxe Cabin Junior Suite Suite Presidential Suite
Twin/Double Cabin £ 5072 £ 7915 £ 11040 £ 18960
Single Cabin £ 8944 £ 15040 £ 22080 £ 37920

 Price in US Dollars Per Person

Price Per Person Per Journey Deluxe Cabin Junior Suite Suite Presidential Suite
Twin/Double Cabin $ 6340 $ 9890 $ 13800 $ 23700
Single Cabin $ 11180 $ 18800 $ 27600 $ 47400

  
Included in the above pricing is the following:

Price / Cost Includes

*** Accommodation in Air Conditioned Deluxe Cabin or Junior Suite or Suite or Presidential Suite with attached Bathroom on board The Maharaja Express
*** All meals including tea, coffee, and mineral water and house brands of Indian wines, beer, and spirits during The Maharaja Express
*** Transport for sightseeing with Deluxe Coaches during The Maharaja Express for Deluxe Cabin and Junior Suite Clients
*** Transport for sightseeing with Private Vehicle & Private Guide during The Maharaja Express for Suite and Presidential Suite Clients
*** Entrance fee to palaces, museums & parks during The Maharaja Express
*** English speaking guide during The Maharaja Express
*** Bulter Service for Suite and Presidential Suite Clients
*** Service of the Tour Manager on Board
*** One Transfer in Mumbai and One Transfer in Delhi by Private Vehicle with Driver


Of course, the most exciting aspect to the train excursion is the itinerary as follows:

Day 1 – Mumbai – Sunday

  •  09:00 Welcome and Registration at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
  •  10:30 Proceed for Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja Terminus Railway Station, Mumbai
  •  11:30 Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Udaipur
  •  12:30 Lunch onboard
  •  19:30 Dinner onboard

Day 2 – Udaipur – Monday

  •  08:00 Breakfast onboard
  •  10:00 Arrive at Udaipur. Proceed for a boat ride on Lake Pichola followed by a visit to City Palace and Crystal Gallery
  •  13:00 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  13:15 Lunch onboard. You may choose Optional Activities – Spa at a hotel or Local City Tour
  •  18:15 Proceed for an Exclusive Dinner at Satkar Hall of Fatehprakash Palace or Jagmandir Island Palace
  •  20:30 Returns to comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  22:00 Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Jodhpur

Day 3 – Jodhpur – Tuesday

  • 07:30 Breakfast onboard
  •  09:15 Optional Tour to Bishnoi Village (De-board at Rohat Railway Station)
  •  13:00 Lunch onboard
  •  14:30 Proceed to visit the Mehrangarh Fort followed by a Walking Tour of the Old Clock Tower market and enjoy a joy ride on Tuk Tuks
  •  17:30 Proceed for an exclusive cocktail dinner at Hanwant Mahal or Khaas Bagh
  •  20:15 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  03:00 Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Bikaner

Day 4 – Bikaner – Wednesday

  •  08:00 Enjoy the countryside while having breakfast onboard
  •  10:00 Arrive at Bikaner. Relax onboard or you may choose Optional Activities – Visit Lalgarh   Museum or Local City Tour
  •  13:00 Lunch onboard
  •  14:00 Visit to Junagarh Fort followed by sundowners at Sand Dunes
  •  17:30 Arrive at the Sand Dunes followed by cocktails, bar-be-que, and folk dances
  •  20:15 Return to the comfort of the Maharajas’ Express
  •  21:30 Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Jaipur

Day 5 – Jaipur – Thursday

  • 08:00 Breakfast onboard
  •  09:30 Arrive at Jaipur. Proceed for a visit to Amber Fort
  •  12:30 After sightseeing proceed to Rambagh Palace hotel for lunch
  •  16:00 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
    You may choose Optional Activities – Spa at a hotel, with a visit to the City Palace Museum and Observatory or Local City Tour
  •  20:00 Dinner onboard
  •  21:30 The Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Sawai Madhopur (Ranthambore)

Day 6 – Ranthambore and Fatehpur Sikri – Friday

  •  06:30 Proceed for an exciting Game Drive at Ranthambore National Park
  •  09:30 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  09:45 Breakfast onboard
  •  10:15 Maharajas’ Express proceeds for Fatehpur Sikri
  •  13:30 Lunch onboard
  •  14:30 Arrive into Fatehpur Sikri
  •  15:30 Visit the deserted Mughal City of Fatehpur Sikri
  •  18:00 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  19:30 Enjoy an “Indian Evening” followed by dinner onboard

Day 7 – Agra – Saturday

  •  06:45 Arrive into Agra and proceed to visit Taj Mahal
  •  09:30 Champagne Breakfast at Taj Khema
  •  10:45 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  11:05 Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Delhi
  •  13:00 Lunch onboard
  •  15:30 Disembark and bid farewell to the Maharajas’ Express as your journey comes to an end
We’re in the process of deciding where we’ll visit during the two months we’ll have in India while we await the cruise (see tomorrow’s post) that begins on April 3, 2020.  It’s exciting to research different locations and decide what appeals to us the most.

No doubt, we’ll be booking a safari in India with a search for tiger sightings in mind.  Oh, my, this is exciting!  I can’t wait to hopefully post photos of tigers we’ve spotted in the wild.

Happy day to all. We’ll be back tomorrow with more and…soon we’ll post our new itinerary.
__________________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, June 28, 2018:
“The foot of the giraffe reaches a diameter of 30 cm (12 in), and the hoof is 15 cm (5.9 in) high in males and 10 cm (3.9 in) in females. The rear of each hoof is low and the fetlock is close to the ground, allowing the foot to provide additional support to the animal’s weight.”  For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…New bookings…A new country…A new lease on life!…More tomorrow…

 

The Maharajas Express Luxury Train* in India.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Even though legend says that St. Patrick cleared Ireland of snakes, the truth is that these slithering creatures were never able to make it from Britain to the island.”

__________________________________________

*Please excuse the quality of today’s photos.  They were taken from the train’s website and aren’t clear when enlarged.


With our hesitancy to book future travels due to my recent health fiasco, the nature of our travels had changed dramatically.  At one point since we arrived in Ireland, we had no idea where we’d go in December 2019 after leaving Minnesota, Nevada, and Arizona to see family.


After days of research and planning, as of late yesterday, we’re booked until May 2, 2020, almost a year out but also have a few cruises beyond that date which we may or may not take. 


We have moveable deposits on all of our remaining cruises with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines.  We have a Euro 731, US $900 deposit, paid for a cruise we’d booked from Lisbon to Cape Town on November 2020.  At the time we booked that cruise, we had no idea about my heart issues.

One of several lounges on the train.

When we went through immigration in South Africa on May 11, 2019, we were classified as “undesirables” since we overstayed our visas by the three months we had to stay in SA while I recovered, unable to fly during that time.  This classification would prevent us from returning to South Africa for 5 years.  Subsequently, we’ ll miss this particular cruise.

We were provided with documentation to allow us to apply for a waiver that could potentially allow us to return sooner.  Immediately after we arrived in Ireland, we put together the detailed packet required to apply for the waiver and sent it via email as required.


Yesterday, I called to see how our file was progressing and was directed to another email address for a status update which I did, attaching all the relevant documents once again.  I was told we’d hear back in 24 to 48 hours.  But, I doubt we’ll hear by then, based on history in dealing with governmental processes in South Africa.

One of several dining venues.

If we don’t hear by the time the final payment is due in July 2020, we’ll have no choice but to cancel the cruise, losing a portion of the deposit and not able to return to Marloth Park South Africa until May 2024.


In the interim, we’re proceeding as if this isn’t an issue, leaving a gap in time for the Africa cruise and the three months we’ll have spent in Marloth Park.  We have a year to hear from immigration.


In order to get “back on track,” we decided to proceed with events we’ve longed to do.  Yesterday morning, we booked the first of these exciting venues on the Maharajas Express, the India equivalent of the Orient Express.  We couldn’t be more excited.

On one of many included excursions, close to the Taj Mahal.

We’ve talked about visiting India at some point but neither of us has been interested in experiencing the massive population as shown below:

“The population of India 2019: Looking into the latest UN data, the approximate population of India is 1,350,438,098. The population of India is rising at an alarming rate and this is why the country is known as the second most populous country in the world after China.”


This is a big chunk of the world’s population as shown below:

“The current world population is 7.7 billion as of June 2019 according to the most recent United Nations estimates elaborated by Worldometers. Thus, India possesses 17.7% of the world’s population.”

One of many dining carriages.

Based on our plans for India, we’ll be able to avoid some of the traffic and commotion in the larger cities, although we’ll visit some of them along the way.  No doubt, the crowds, and traffic are all part of the experience in India.

We plan to spend two months in the country, from traveling to different locations we’re considering now.  But, as mentioned above, one of the most exciting elements of our time in India is starting on February 2, 2020, with a six-night excursion on the Maharajas Express from Mumbai to Dehli, stopping at outstanding points of interest along the way.

In the past several days, we spent hours researching pricing, accommodation, amenities, and routes and decided on the Maharajas Express’ Heritage of India which provides us with the most exciting and comprehensive experiences.

With so much information to share here, we’ll return tomorrow with more photos, pricing, amenities and the itinerary of the Heritage of IndiaWe couldn’t be more thrilled, especially after this long haul of only focusing on my health.  This is exactly “what the doctor ordered.”

See you soon!
__________________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, June 27, 2018:
Elephants crossing the road in Kruger National Park.  That vehicle stopped too close to them putting themselves at risk.  For more details, please click here.

 

The engrossing work in planning for the future…Do we use a travel agent?…

Oughterard Shrubbery is a lovely spot to stop and enjoy nature.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“A
law was enacted in 2009 that makes it illegal to be drunk in public in Ireland.”

                         _____________________________________
As we conduct research for visiting our next country, we’re amazed over how much more work it is now compared to almost seven years ago when we first began traveling.

This is a stream in Oughterard Shrubbery.

Why is this the case?  It appears there is 10 times the number of websites advertising the same information for the same venue.  Sorting through them to ensure we’re in the correct place with the best pricing, requires diligent efforts by both of us.


Once we get on a specific site simultaneously from each of our laptops and carefully peruse it, we’re more able to determine if we should seek out another site.  

Steps to the stone footbridge over the stream.

It’s a time-consuming process, often taking several hours a day for a week or more, to decide on what we’d like to do, which site we’ll use, reviews from other users, and the details of the booking, it’s only then, we’ll go ahead and book the venue.


It’s not as if we have a travel agent.  With the complication of the nature of our lives, it wouldn’t be prudent to leave the many facets of our travel in the hands of a stranger.  

As in most areas of Ireland, there is a tremendous number of stones.

Yes, we use Vacations-to-Go for most of our cruise bookings after having worked with them since mid-2012 when we booked our first cruise.  We’ve been shifted from one rep to another over the years, as they’ve come and gone or been promoted in the company.


In a few cases, we felt the rep assigned to us couldn’t handle our needs leaving us to diplomatically contact a manager for a suggestion for another more experienced rep.  Right now, we’re very happy with Heather at Vacations-to-Go, our knowledgeable rep with years of experience.

Pretty flowers in the park.

Now, as we research plans for early 2020, we’re finding the best route is to use a travel agency when we know so little about the country and the places within that country that appeal to our tastes.  Even so, this still is a complicated process.


At times, particularly on cruises, other passengers have described how much work they put into booking a single cruise, considering transportation to and from the airport or pier, public or private transportation while in the country, tipping policies, hotel bookings, and the many nuances of the cruise itself.

It’s interesting how most of us are drawn to water scenes.

When booking a cruise, the cabin number and its location within the ship can require hours of research and contemplation, let alone the choice for dining times; excursions either through the ship or privately; WiFi availability and costs; drink packages and the various pricing;  pre-booked spa services, if desired; and specialty restaurant packages often offered before sailing.


For an inexperienced traveler, this task can be daunting, if not overwhelming.  For us, it was a trial and error process since we were traveling non-stop. For many travelers, this is a once-in-a-lifetime or once-a-year trip, for which they expect relative perfection.

An onlooker on the bridge over the stream.


Nothing is more frustrating than discovering a cabin is located above or below the disco (this happened to us once and they moved us after three days of requesting a change).  I could hear and feel the vibration of the music in my pillow at 1:00 am.  (The disco often stays open until 3:00 am).  Early on, we certainly learned a lesson after this experience.


But, these particulars are often unknown to the average traveler and we often see long lines at the ship’s customer service desk with disgruntled passengers wanted to change to a different cabin.  Additionally, more experienced cruisers will wait in this queue for hours to request a free upgrade.

Sheep running away when we stopped for photos.

There’s no way we’re interested in standing in line for two hours to upgrade our cabin.  We strive to book the best possible cabin for our budget, thus far always with a balcony (this could change down the road) and if everything is working, clean and safe, we’re happy to stay put.


So now, as we work to book the next country we’ll visit, we do so with the utmost of care and consideration.  Soon, we have some details to share.

May your day be filled with wonders.

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Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2018:

Yesterday, we spotted this ostrich family near this vehicle.  It was over four years ago we saw our first ostrich in the wild in Marloth Park.  It was on December 7, 2013, that we’d spotted an ostrich standing next to this exact same vehicle at this exact same property, looking at himself in the window of the vehicle.  Click here for that post. Please click here for the one year ago post.




A visit to the quaint town of Oughterard…More planning for the future…

A popular pub in Oughterard.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“James Hoban, an Irishman, was the designer of the U.S. White House.”

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It was an enjoyable day in the charming town of Oughterard.  When we arrived in Ireland 44 days ago, we drove through the town  on our way to Glinsce and decided at some point we’d return, long before we were to drive back to Dublin to depart on August 8, 2019.

During the summer months Oughterard is a popular tourist town.

As it turns out, when I checked how many days had passed until we arrived and when we depart at this site, today is the exact midway point of our 88 night stay, ending in 44 days from today.

This is considered a busy intersection in the small town with a population of 1318 (as of 2016).

We didn’t have a plan or specific shopping in mind when we commenced our walk through the downtown area.  We found ourselves browsing one shop after another, never making any purchases but enjoying the equivalent of window shopping.

There are many restaurants and bars in Oughterard.

Even Tom, who dislikes shopping suggested we investigate a number of shops that in our old lives, he’d never enter.  With cultural differences, fairly obvious in the historical Connemara area, its always interesting to see the products offered to mainly tourists.  

The work of local artists are on display.

We can’t imagine many locals purchasing clothing and household goods in these small-town shops with the high prices.  Perhaps they wait until a visit to Dublin (544,000 population) or Galway (80,000 population) which as larger cities offer more choices for household goods and clothing.

Gift and craft shop on the main street.


There’s no doubt prices are higher here than in many areas of the world we’ve visited, especially recently coming from South Africa, one of the most affordable countries we’ve seen to date.

We learn so much about local culture in these small towns and villages.  The people are friendly, the architecture in interesting and the restaurants and shops are many.

Pansies in a pot on the sidewalk.

The only item we purchased was sausage for Tom’s pizza from the butcher in a tiny grocery store.  It was as good as any sausage we’d purchased anywhere.  Of course, we didn’t get out of the store without Tom buying a box of fresh baked chocolate covered doughnuts.

It’s not easy finding unique food items or snacks for me.  Now that I kinked my diet to reduce the amount of fat I consume, while still having plenty of healthy fats, baking anything low carb is out of the question when most recipes require huge amounts of fat.  Who knows if I’m doing the right thing for my heart?  

There are a few organic markets in the village.

Even science and my doctors didn’t have a clue as to how I should eat after this big surgery.  Studies are skewed by big business and doctors have little experience with nutrition, if at all.  So, on my own, I’ve continued with a low carb way of eating but reduced my daily fat intake by about 30%.


Recently, noticing how sparse our future itinerary is looking, we came to the conclusion we need to start planning more for the future.  Currently, we amid the process of pinning down a new country to visit with exciting venues along the way.
Church of the Immaculate Conception, located at the end of the business district.  “In the 2016 Irish census 78.3% of the population identified as Catholic in Ireland; numbering approximately 3.7 million people. Unlike Catholics in some other countries, Ireland has seen a significant decline from the 84.2% who identified as Catholic in the 2011 census.”

Once we have things wrapped up, we’ll be sharing photos and the information here.  We’ve always made a point of waiting until we’ve paid deposits before listing the locations here.  


What we dream is one thing.  What we do is another.  When we can combine these two, life is bliss.

Happy day to all!
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Photo from one year ago today, June 25, 2018:

It’s always enjoyable watching the young calves playing in the water, discovering the wonders of their trunks.  For more photos, please click here.

A visit to a popular craft shop in Ireland…Story about the Connemara Giant…

 
The Connemara Giant.  Please see the story below.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“The
Royal Cork Yacht Club is the oldest in the world and originally began in
Ireland.”
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On our recent drive to Oughterard (try pronouncing this name…ow-ter-ard), we had an opportunity to do a fair amount of sightseeing with photos we’ll post over the next several days.
A sign at the entrance to Joyce’s Craft Shop and Art Gallery.
It was a worthwhile outing on a rare relatively clear day with blue skies and fluffy white clouds.  The temperature was cool at 14C, 57F, with a strong breeze. This temperature is cool for us after 15 months in Africa but slowly we’re adapting to the differences.
Paintings of the stunning local scenery.
We were thrilled to get out and see more of Connemara, a vast area known for its quaint charm, ocean views, history, and kindly citizens.  The drive to Oughterard was long but the scenery never failed to amaze us.
Artwork made by local artists line the walls and shelves in the store.

We encountered many sites along the way.  Today, we’re sharing the following three points of interest.  More will follow in days to come.

Although these look like bath towels they are actually soft wool blankets.  “Wool is natural, it is carbon friendly, it is renewable. There are no animals killed or slaughtered. It’s a beautiful product!”

Connemara Giant (as shown in the main photo with information from this site):

“The Connemara Giant statue highlights the Irish humor perfectly. The statue was created by Joyce’s Craft Shop, located across the road, “for no apparent reason”. 


However local legend has it that the Connemara Giant may have a bit of Irish magic about him. It is believed that if you touch the hand of the giant you will be blessed with the knowledge of his ancient tribe.”

As we entered Joyce’s Craft Shop and Art Gallery.
(Mr.) Joyce’s Craft Shop and Art Gallery (from this site):
“Located in Recess village, 13 miles from Clifden on the main N59 road to Galway City, Joyce’s Craft Shop and Art Gallery is one of the best craft shops in Ireland, as well as being the home of the famous Connemara green marble. Wide range of knitwear, rare books, antiques, hand-made jewelry, and original gifts. Touch the hand of the ‘Connemara Giant’ across the street.”
A massive polished Connemara stone.  See more below on marble in Ireland.

Connemara Marble (from this site):

“Connemara is bounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean and encompasses a wide variety of natural and semi-natural habitats, reflecting its great geomorphologic and geological complexity. It also has diverse economic resources. Among the more unusual are extensive deposits of soapstone and veins of green marble and vivid white quartz. In Neolithic times, the green marble was traded as far away as Lough Gur, County Limerick, and possibly to the Boyne Valley.



Connemara Marble is a serpentine-rich rock, popular since ancient times as a decorative facing stone. With its ‘forty shades of green’ and its wild patterns, it represents perfectly the landscapes of the Emerald Isle. Connemara Marble inspired artists, architects, and artisans throughout the world. Jewelry and other small objects such as key rings, coasters, and crosses are also made with this unique stone.”

A lone sheep reminds us of the valuable wool business in Connemara.
It’s always exciting for us to take new and unfamiliar routes for the outstanding scenery on the way to and from a destination. The countryside in Ireland never disappoints with an abundance of lake and ocean scenes, barnyard animals and lush greenery.


We continue to be in awe of all the sheep everywhere, as we drive carefully on the winding roads to avoid the possibility of an unexpected encounter with a sheep, cattle, or donkey grazing on the side of the road.  


Many animals have their young in tow during the spring and summer seasons, and they’ve yet to learn to stay clear of vehicles on the roadway.  Eventually, they all learn to move off the road as cars and trucks are approaching.


Have a great Monday, everyone!  May your day be filled with wonderful surprises!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 24, 2018:

For the first time, the prior night at Jabula Restaurant we saw a Thick-Tailed Bushbaby. These are huge compared to the tiny bushbabies, the “Lesser Bushbaby,” which we see each night on the little stand where we place the little cup of fruity yogurt.  For more photos, please click here.

Kindness and the ugly American…More museum photos…

An antique turnip cleaner.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“Only
about 9% of people in Ireland have natural red hair, contrary to popular
belief.”
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Traveling can be frustrating at times.  Service may be slow, venues may be booked incorrectly, plans may be changed over which we have no control, food isn’t hot or tasting as anticipated or there’s the complaint consisting of “there’s a fly in my soup.” 

Blue ribbons on display for events with Connemara Ponies.

Notoriously, airline and cruise lines have a tendency, based on the millions of passengers they serve each year, to make endless mistakes both human and technologically impacting travelers, leaving them in a wake of confusion and frustration.

These same issues may be prevalent in our “hometown” even when not traveling.  Based on the fact we have no home, our perspective is slightly different.  Perhaps, in some ways, and in some situations, our expectations may be higher.

A wagon filled with peat, a common product used for fuel in Ireland.

Tourism is the lifeblood of many towns, villages, regions, states, and countries.  Without tourists, the bulk of an area’s revenue and thousands (if not millions) of jobs would be lost.

The reality remains, not all employees and companies place enough importance and emphasis on the value of the customer and the vital role they play in keeping their business alive and flourishing.

A variety of antique items.

In the process of these types of inconveniences, we as the recipients of human or computer error, have a decision we can make as to how we respond to the situation.  


We can choose to enact volatile behavior and/or uncooperativeness to those we encounter in the process.  Or, we can choose to remain calm, although confident and assertive, tossing in a healthy dose of kindness.

A 100-year-old saddle.

The perception of the “ugly American” does exist throughout the world.  And even as Americans, in a prejudiced manner, we may hypothesize on what appears to be stereotypical behavior of people from certain countries.


I will admit on a few occasions, we’ve entertained such comments in a group of friends, stating that people from this country and that, generally react in a certain way.  And, no doubt, cultural differences can play a role in these behaviors, acceptable in their country but perhaps not so much in our own or others.

Parts of horse harness.

But, often times, our perceptions, right or wrong, may be totally changed when we encounter those who are kind, friendly and easy-going regardless of the circumstances that impact their travel.  They look on the bright side reacting accordingly.  


It’s not always easy to be diplomatic and kind and by no means are we examples of perfection in these areas, but somehow, we try to remember the words “ugly American” and simply…make every effort to be kind and play a role, however small, in dispelling this perception.

A two-wheeled buggy used over 100 years ago.

It’s easy in Ireland.  Everyone is outrageously friendly and kind.  We’ve yet to encounter a single individual who has treated us in any manner short, of being a long lost friend, who they revere and hold in the highest esteem.


For this, we are in awe and ultimately very grateful.  For this reason alone, we know we are in the right place, exactly where we should be at this time in our world travels.  We still have challenges to face with my health and ongoing recovery.  

One of the first types of marine radios.

But, this welcoming place has made living in Ireland for three months all the more meaningful and memorable.  


Be well.  Be happy.

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Photo from one year ago today, June 23, 2018:

An adult hippo needs to resurface every 3 to 5 minutes to breathe.  For more photos from Kruger National Park, please click here.

Visit to a museum…Connemara Ponies and more…First non-stop transatlantic flight…

View from the second story of the museum.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Ireland
has mounds of dirt that are known as “fairy forts” Legend has it that
those who disturb one of these mounds will be riddled with bad luck. These
mounds are actually ancient dwellings from the Iron Age.”

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A few days ago, we decided to take advantage of our shopping trip to Clifden and visit the Station House Museum which was listed as an important place to tour while in Connemara.

We arrived at the Station House Museum a little too early and left wandering about town until it opened 30 minutes later. The entrance fee is Euro 3, US $3.42 per person.

Keeping in mind that Connemara, although with a small population of around 32,000, is a vast area covering many miles.  We can easily drive for almost two hours and still be within the region. 


Located in County Galway, its a point of interest for many tourists visiting Ireland for its scenery, history, people and cozy country feel with sheep, horses, donkeys, and cattle easily spotted on the narrow, winding roads, often only wide enough for one car to pass.  For “city” people this is a unique experience.

Replica of the biplane that made the first non-stop transatlantic flight by two British pilots from St. Johns Newfoundland to Clifden.

For us, and our world travel experience, it’s another interesting place to live with a number of worthwhile sites in the area.  Less interested in long all day road trips,  we strive to find the venues that appeal to us both that are within a reasonable driving distance.  Museums are often top on the list.


What an excellent way to learn about a community, its culture, and its people.  Such was the case when a few days ago, we visited the Station House Museum located close to downtown Clifden, the small town where we’ve found shopping to be enjoyable, with its friendly, often Irish-speaking population who’ve learned English over the generations.


A saddle from the early 1900s.

We arrived at 10:00 am as advertised online but when we arrived promptly, we found a note on the door stating they wouldn’t be open until 10:30.  No worries.  We busied ourselves walking around while we waited for the opening.


The Station House Museum is small but packed with historical facts and memorabilia that we found both refreshing and enlightening.  Here’s some information we found online about the museum:

Replica of Connemara Pony and cart.

From this site: “Located in a former train shed, this small, absorbing museum has displays on the local ponies and pivotal aspects of Clifden’s history, including the Galway to Clifden Connemara Railway (in service from 1895 to 1935) and Guglielmo Marconi’s transatlantic wireless station at Derrigimlagh, which was also the site of the crash landing of John Alcock and Arthur Brown’s first nonstop transatlantic aeroplane crossing in 1919.”


Additionally, we discovered the following information from this site:

“An international library of Connemara pony stud books and journals is available for research by enthusiasts. A video of the ponies in their native habitat filmed nearly forty years ago is shown daily. The ground floor is dedicated to Ireland’s native pony breed, the Connemara.

One hundred years ago, British aviators “John Alcock and Arthur Brown as shown in these statues made the first non-stop transatlantic flight in June 1919.  They flew a modified First World War Vickers Vimy bomber from St. John’sNewfoundland, to ClifdenConnemaraCounty Galway, Ireland.[The Secretary of State for AirWinston Churchill, presented them with the Daily Mail prize for the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by aeroplane in “less than 72 consecutive hours”.A small amount of mail was carried on the flight, making it the first transatlantic airmail flight. The two aviators were awarded the honour of Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) a week later by King George V at Windsor Castle.”

The high roofed interior, with tall shedding windows either side, is the backdrop for montage panels of photographs and documents. These are well supported by memorabilia and artifacts.

A sign posted near above statues.

All the latter have an intimate association with breeders and ponies from the Western Seaboard throughout the last two centuries.”

A buggy from yesteryear.
An upper gallery takes visitors step by step through the rich history of the region, D’Arcy early in the nineteenth century, to the building and life of the Galway to Clifden railway line (1895 – 1935).

A photographic exhibition of the Marconi Wireless Station at Derrygimla (1905 – 1925) and lifesize figures of Alcock and Brown who landed on this site after their historic flight (1919) complement the interesting range of exhibits.”

Replica of Connemara farmhouse with donkeys pulling a cart.  We see many donkeys in this area.

Nearby, only a few steps away from the museum is the popular Clifden Station House Hotel with two restaurants and a pub serving tourists and locals.  After reviewing their menu, surely during our time here, we’ll try the restaurant, most likely for lunch rather than dinner. 

(We’re avoiding driving long distances at night with a high risk of accidents on the narrow winding roads, especially after a few drinks).

A variety of winning ribbons for Connemara Ponies.

As shown in our photos, we found plenty of interesting information and artifacts in the museum and learned a lot more about this appealing area, country and its people.

We’re staying in over the weekend but after another outing yesterday, we have plenty of new photos to share.  A special thanks to all of our new readers for stopping by.  From whence you come…we have no idea but, we’re happy to see you here.  We have no access to your email or personal information but we can see we’ve had new visitors.

May your weekend be filled with awe and wonder!


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Photo from one year ago today, June 22, 2018:


This male was “standing watch” so the others could relax and nod off.  For more photos, please click here.

Late posting due to sightseeing outing…Planning for departure day….

 
 This is the sun on its final ascent.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Even though he is considered their patron saint, Saint Patrick was not born in Ireland. He was actually born in Britain, according to research, and some believe that he was kidnapped as a teenager and brought to Ireland.”

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This morning, before I had a chance to start the post, we decided to drive the hour plus drive, back toward Galway to the quaint town of Oughterard which we’d noticed as we drove to Glinsce on the day we arrived on May 12, 2019. 

Sunset from our holiday home overlooking Bertraghboy Bay, an outlet to the Atlantic Ocean.

Gosh, that seems like a long time ago.  And yet, we’ve only been here for 40 days and nights.  Undoubtedly, we haven’t been sightseeing as much as we’d prefer but in the past week we’ve picked up the pace and have been getting out a little more often. 

More of a beautiful sunset.

We’re accumulating many photos we’ll share over the next many days but after returning so late in the afternoon today, I realized I had little time to upload today’s post. 


Subsequently, getting into details regarding our recent sightseeing trips wasn’t on today’s agenda with this late start.  The afternoon is almost over and after around 1500 hours, 3:00 pm to 1600 hours, 4:00 pm, I usually lose motivation to get it done or get into historical details.  

Moments later it was gone from view.

I’m a morning person and once mid-afternoon presents itself, I’ve always had trouble being creative and/or innovative.  Since the onset of my recent recovery, I’ve had particular difficulty motivating myself in the later part of the afternoon to get much of anything underway.


Laundry and preparing dinner is yet to be completed and today, we’re researching and deciding if we’ll stay in a hotel in Dublin on our last night here, August 8th.  This way travel day will be less stressful.  

This particular style of the exterior of apartment buildings is often seen in European countries.

Although we often have the expense of leaving our holiday home a day early and not getting a refund for the one-night from the owner/manager and in bearing the cost of the hotel and dining out, we’ve found this plan to be of particular appeal with the 3½ drive from Glinsce to Dublin.


While in Oughterard, we stopped at the dentist’s office to make appointments at 11:00 am to have our teeth cleaned on August 8, while we’re on our way to Dublin.  This saves us the long drive back to Oughterard between now and then and we’ll have plenty of time that day.

Some of the apartment buildings and office suites have been built in the past 20 to 30 years.

By the time we’re done, we’ll complete the remaining 2½ drive to Dublin.  Tom will drop me at the hotel, which we’ll book today and drive to the rental car location which is quite a distance from the airport.  Their shuttle will return him to the airport and the hotel’s free shuttle will pick him up.  


We’ll save one day’s rental on the car and taxi fare to and from the rental car facility and the hotel. By selecting a hotel offering a free shuttle and also free breakfast and WiFi, we save even more. 

The old railway station in Clifden.

Even arranging one single night in a hotel requires a certain amount of planning, which is a vital part of our day to day lives.  Thank goodness, neither of us minds spending time on these types of tasks.


Soon, we’ll wind down for the day, pour ourselves a libation and get situated in our two comfy chairs facing the big window out to the sea, chatting over the day’s events and plans for the future.  An hour later, we’ll switch to water and iced tea and prepare our dinner rolling into a pleasant evening.

Storefront in Clifden off the main street.

Today is the summer solstice and here in Ireland, the sunrise was at 5:12 am and sets at 2212, 10:12 pm.  There are seven hours the sun is not in the sky leaving 19 hours of light due to light an hour before sunrise and an hour after sunset.  


Wherever you may live, enjoy this first day of summer!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 21, 2018:

At night, Little Wart Face, later named “Little'”  lies down for a nap, exhausted from eating pellets and his busy day.  I miss him…For more please click here.