Day #270 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Replay of fabulous food photos from cruise…

This window box display was a part of the “Favorites” choice on the menu at Qsine on the Celebrity Infinity in 2017.

Today’s photos are from our post on this date in 2017 while sailing on the Celebrity Infinity along the coast of South America, and dining in the fantastic specialty restaurant, Qsine. For more photos not shown here today, please click here.

Sharing these food photos for the second time, under our current situation, is certainly going to be a mouth-watering experience. To think in less than a month, we’ll be preparing and dining our own meals, one of the many highlights of getting out of here.

Tom dined on one of these “Lava Crab” dishes which I avoided due to the flour content. He described it as outstanding.

As we are reminded of the exceptional dinner we had on that cruise in 2017 and how much fun specialty restaurants are on cruises, we wonder when we’ll ever be able to cruise again. The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine may be influential in re-starting cruises in some countries, but many poor countries won’t offer such a luxury.

If any of the cruise lines with whom we have five booked cruises into 2022, requires evidence of a vaccine, we may be out of luck. Africa will be one of the last continents to have access to the vaccine. We’ll see how that rolls out in time. If we were to fly to another continent at some point to receive the vaccine, we’d have to stay three weeks for the second dose.

Tom was holding his menu tablet while deciding what to order at the Qsine specialty restaurant while at sea on Celebrity Infinity. There were nine Celebrity ships offering this exceptional dining experience.

Perhaps in time, they’ll come up with a single dose vaccine that will make it easier for those in similar situations to ours. If we decide to continue on our world travels for considerably longer, we’ll have no choice but to return to the US to receive the vaccine. Maybe we can do so next time we visit family, which we’ll do once the virus settles down in the US.

From this report, updated daily, the USA has 23% of the world’s cases and 19% of the deaths. Considering that statistics are being recorded in 220 countries and territories, this is an outrageous number. As we’ve mentioned many times in past posts, returning to the US at any time in the near future is entirely out of the question.

From the “Sushi ” choice were these “lollipops.” Although we didn’t order this option, we loved this gorgeous presentation.

As for today’s photos, our topic returns to food. Yesterday, while I was working on the errors in past posts, of which I’m only one-third of the way through the over 3000 posts, I encountered comments I’d made about a reader commenting that they were sick and tired of my food comments and recipes. Hum, isn’t traveling in part about dining in one way or another?

When most of us travel, one of the first things on the agenda is checking out the local cuisine, booking reservations from highly rated TripAdvisor reviews, visiting local food trucks, cafes, and diners, and also the possibility of the safety of eating street food? How many of us while dining out during a holiday/vacation has entered a grocery store to check out the cultural differences in food, pricing, and at times, to purchase snacks, liquor, or treats?

Many items from the “Soup & Souffle” menu were served “tapas” style, small servings such as these two souffle chefs Chantal prepared for me.

That’s a big part of the enjoyment of traveling. And even me, with my limited options due to my way of eating, it’s still quite enjoyable to dine out, purchase groceries, and to prepare our own meals while living in holiday homes. Oh, well, that was only one reader and I’m sure by now, they no longer read our posts at all, especially after our boring content over the past nine months.

If they thought “food” was boring, how about our frequent comments, whining, and observations about living under these most peculiar circumstances? As our long-term and new readers know, we strive to “tell it like it is” and not pander to those who may prefer a more “fluffy version” of our lives.

The “Taco Royale” presentation could easily have been a full meal for me with its make-your-own guacamole and beef taco salad.

Sure, this meal we’re sharing today in photos, looks stupendous, and we’d love to be able to savor such a meal now. But, we can’t. Instead, we focus on the fact that soon enough, we’ll be preparing big juicy rare/medium-rare steaks on the braai with a cocktail or glass of wine in hand, sweating up a storm on the veranda, batting off the flies and mozzies, and smiling from ear to ear. Hopefully, in a little over 25 days, when we depart India for South Africa.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 18, 2019:

From this site: “The famous fountain in Fountain Hills, Arizona: Built-in 1970 by Robert McCulloch the fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world! The fountain sprays water for 15 minutes every hour at the top of the hour. The fountain uses 7,000 gallons per minute and at its full height, it can reach 560 feet in the air. The plume rises from a concrete water-lily sculpture in the center of a man-made lake. At its full height of 560 feet, the fountain in the center of Fountain Hills is higher than the Washington Monument. It is 10 feet taller than Notre Dame Cathedral, 110 feet higher than the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt and three times as high as Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park. The white plume of the world-famous fountain is visible far beyond Fountain Hills. It can be seen from as far away as the Superstition Mountains, Carefree and even from aircraft. The fountain is the focal point for community celebrations and the pride of its residents. If you happen to visit during the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, you’ll see the fountain transform to emerald green. The Fountain is extended to its full height on special occasions, for every day viewing the Fountain reaches a height of 330 feet! The World Famous Fountain runs every hour on the hour for 15 minutes from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. every day of the week! This fountain is a celebration of life and water where it is most appreciated – in the middle of the desert.” For more from the year-ago post, please click here.

Day #261 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…”Cruise to Nowhere” fiasco…

Christmas tree in Colon Park in Arica, Chile, with St. Mark’s Cathedral (San Marcos) in the background.

Today’s photos are from the 30-day cruise (two 15-day cruises, back-to-back), partially sailing around South America on the date in 2017 when we visited Arica, Chile. For more photos, please click here.

The above-mentioned cruise seems to have been a lot longer ago than three years. Life was so different then. Cruising was purely predicated by one’s ability to afford it and the desire to be out to sea for socializing, myriad adventures, and sightseeing. Now, we wonder if cruising will ever be possible in the future.

Buses arrived at the port to take passengers on tours.

From today’s news story here, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas four-day “Cruise to Nowhere,” available only to residents of Singapore had to turn back due to an onboard case of Covid-19, forcing the ship to return to Singapore on day #3.

The article reads as follows:

“A Royal Caribbean ship has returned to Singapore on day three of a four-day “cruise to nowhere” after a passenger tested positive for Covid-19.

The city-state’s “cruises to nowhere” – starting and ending at the same port without stops – launched last month.

Government building in Arica, Chile near the port.

They are an attempt to revive the hard-hit industry, which largely ceased worldwide after outbreaks on board but has since resumed in a few places. Singapore’s special cruises were only open to its residents.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship Quantum of the Seas departed Singapore on Monday for a four-day round trip as part of a “safe cruising” pilot program announced by the country’s tourism board in October.

From this site: “History goes that during the War of the Pacific (1879-1880) the Morro de Arica was taken by Chilean troops in a heroic deed after only one hour of fighting against the Peruvian-Bolivian army. This historical feat took place on June 7, 1880, and ever since has marked the northern territorial boundaries of the country. Today, over one century after such an epic event, visitors only need to go up almost 200 meters rising from the sea in order to behold the enormous City of Arica. Whoever hit the summit of this morro in those days would immediately gain control of the city. There were many casualties. In a matter of minutes, almost 2 thousand soldiers from both sides lost their life.”

The cruise company said it had turned the ship around after one guest tested positive for coronavirus after checking in with the on-board medical team.

“We identified and isolated all guests and crew who had close contact with this guest, and each of those individuals has subsequently tested negative for the virus,” it said in a statement.

A view of the Morro of Arica from the Plaza Colon where we wandered around the park.

It said guests would be allowed to disembark “after a review of contact tracing is completed”.

A raft of safety measures was introduced for passengers on the special cruises to nowhere, including coronavirus tests before boarding and after disembarking. The ships were also running at half their usual capacity for safe distancing purposes.”

In part, these cruises are intended to “test” how numerous precautions may prevent onboard cases of the virus and how they can safely be handled in the event of passengers becoming ill. But, at this point, it appears their “system” isn’t working as well as hoped.

A pond in the park occupied by dozens of seagulls.

All passengers were tested for Covid-19 before embarking on the cruise. However, as those of us who’ve followed Covid-19 scenarios, getting a negative test result today, doesn’t necessarily indicate it won’t be positive a few days later. Upon exposure, one may not exhibit symptoms or test positive for several days.

Until such time as a more accurate/earlier test becomes available, the cruise industry is SOL in offering safe cruises anywhere in the world. Currently, we have four cruises booked beginning on November 30, 2021. The others are well into 2022, none of which we may be able to embark upon, as long as this virus continues to impact cruising.

We stopped to see a nativity scene in the park.

At this point, we are waiting for the cruise lines to cancel our cruises as they see fit and ultimately necessary. I imagine, in the future, all guests may be required to have taken the vaccine and provide a recent antibody test upon boarding to ensure their documentation isn’t fraudulent. Antibody test results are available in minutes. Apparently, there are now black-market negative Covid-19 tests floating around.

Disappointing? Yes, but under no circumstances would we want to be on one of those cruises where we end up in quarantine. If we think this hotel room is small, a cruise cabin 30% smaller would be worse. Hum, 35 days and counting…

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 9, 2019:

After arriving in Nevada to visit family, we were on our way to the Vegas Golden Knights game, guest of son Richard, a super fan. For more, please click here.

Day #246 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Ten reasons to avoid test cruises…

Tom’s hair was blowing with his back to the wind at Sails Restaurant in Diani Beach, Kenya. The cool ocean breeze was heavenly.

Today’s photos are from dining out at our favorite restaurant, during the final few days we spent in Diani Beach, Kenya in 2013. For more details, please here.

Each day when I walk the corridors, I listen to podcasts on various topics. Recently, on a mission to further improve my health I listened to podcasts from Dr, Ken Berry, Dr. Ali Nadir (cardiologist), Dr. Shawn Baker, Dr. Jason Fung, and Dr. Paul Saladino, and more, all of whom advocate a very low/zero carb way of eating, which with their advice, I’ve been able to lower my blood sugar and blood pressure dramatically as described in this post from a few days ago.

I equally enjoyed the cool ocean breeze at Sails. It was so hot that night, we were sweating. 

When I need a break from health podcasts, I often listen to travel-related podcasts relevant to today’s COVID-19 situation in hopes of learning something useful for our future travels. By accident, I came across Tony’s podcast site, La Lido Loca, and was fascinated to listen to his take on why it makes little sense to accept such an invitation. To listen to Tony’s excellent podcast on this topic, please click here.

Here are his 10 reasons why not to embark on a free test cruise:

  1. A cruise line is required to have the “free” passenger sign a document accepting the potential risks of participating. In other words, if you get the virus during or after the test cruise you will not have legal recourse against the cruise line.
  2. There is an expectation that test cruise passengers must have a doctor’s letter confirming they don’t have any pre-existing comorbidities that may result in severe cases of COVID-19 or even death.
  3. You will be virus tested at the port upon embarkation, upon disembarkation, and possibly many more times during the cruise.
  4. This is not normal cruising with all the fluff and activities cruisers may be used to. Passengers will be directed to activities during the cruise and subject to the guidelines and requirements that reduce the risks of becoming infected.
  5. Restrictive port experiences unlike those typically offered by the cruise line. You will not be able to wander on your own if any ports of call are visited, nor will you be able to choose a multitude of experiences.
    Tom’s crab au gratin was as delicious as usual.
  6. What happens if you or others get the virus, either in reality or in a simulation, which may require even those without the virus to lockdown in their cabin? Cabin selection is up to the cruise line. One may end up in an inside cabin when normally they book a balcony cabin. If there is a lockdown during a simulation, this could result in days in a windowless cabin when you aren’t even sick.
  7. Disruptive cruise – You may be in the middle of enjoying a meal or a drink or an activity, required to stop immediately for health checks and other protocols.
  8. A cruise may be cut short if too many passengers become infected with COVID-19. This could happen after paying round-trip airfares to reach the cruise embarkation point, at your own expense, only to have the cruise cut short after 24 to 48 hours when passengers are reported to have contracted the virus resulting in the cruise ending early.
  9. Waiting around – For test results, for new procedures, for activities, and a variety of protocols which are entirely unfamiliar, passengers may spend hours each day, waiting for the next activity or event.
  10. Very strict adherence to the CDC’s virus protocols; masking, social distancing, hand washing, and more. The usual socialization most cruisers enjoy will be obliterated.
    My dinner at Sails was too heavy on the oil, very different from the first time I’d ordered this entrée.

Are you still interested? Probably, not. If so, contact your favorite cruise line and see if options are available for you to participate. Most cruise lines contacted their authorized cruise resellers with invitations to participate. It will be interesting to see how these cruises roll out.

We’ll be watching for those results and will report back here for details.

As for us cruising in the future, hum, we’ll see what happens. Our next booked cruise is scheduled for November 30, 2021. We’ll see if that actually transpires and if we decide it’s safe to go if it does.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, November 24, 2019:

Drool-worthy! Tom’s Reuben sandwich with jumbo onion rings when out for bingo at a restaurant with friends Karen and Rich, one year ago. Click here for Tom’s win.

Day #217 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Fireworks last night!…Will we ever cruise again?…

Rasnesh, our driver, took this photo of us in front of the Vuadomo Waterfall. We were hot and sweaty, but the long trek was worth it!

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2015 while living in Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji a continuation of our past two posts from our visit to the Vuodomo Waterfalls. For more from this date, please click here.

Last night, while watching The Walking Dead, around 10:00 pm we heard a number of loud blasts. Jumping up, Tom looked out the window not expecting to see much from our poor view of an industrial/construction area. But, we were surprised when he saw a distant flash of fireworks.

Vuadomo Waterfall was larger than it appears in these photos.

Indian people, mostly Hindu, celebrate a number of holidays with fireworks. We’re a little surprised fireworks are allowed based on air pollution in India. But the devout Hindu citizens continue to incorporate the light show in celebrating a number of holidays.

Yesterday was Dussera, described as follows:

“Dussehra or Vijayadashami is an important Hindu festival that signifies the victory of good over evil. This annual festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor by Hindus across the world on the tenth day of the Navratras, which falls on the tenth day of Ashwin or Kartik months as per the Hindu calendar.”

We didn’t see any other tourists walking to or from the falls.

Soon, on November 14, the five-day celebration of Dawali will commence which is one of the most substantial celebrations in the Hindu faith. At that time, we’ll share more information on this sacred celebration. We’ve been living in many countries throughout the world when these holidays have been celebrated and we certainly appreciate the enthusiasm and dedication exhibited by the Hindu devotees during these celebratory periods.

On another note, over the past week, both Tom and I have stumbled across numerous articles about the cruise industry and what to expect for the future. For us, our cruising days may be over when we consider the primary reason we enjoyed cruising so much was the opportunity to socialize.

An orchid growing in the rainforest.

Sure, we enjoyed the ambiance, seeing many ports of call, the festive activities. However, going forward everything will be different which literally eliminates our desire to continue to cruise during times of COVID-19. If and when and if this virus and the extreme precautions are eliminated, we will consider cruising once again.

Yesterday, the CDC issued this warning at this link:

“CDC typically posts travel health notices for countries and other international destinations, not transportation, such as ships. Because of the unprecedented nature of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and the increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 on cruise ships, the US government is advising US travelers to defer all cruise travel.”

The creek on the return walk.

Here is a list of some of the precautions cruise lines will strictly adhere to on future cruises from this site:

  • Passengers to be tested for COVID-19 between five days and 24 hours before sailing. Those testing positive would not be allowed to cruise.  OK, this makes sense.
  • Passengers to wear cloth face coverings or masks on ships in accordance with CDC recommendations. This would require passengers to be wearing masks at all times during the cruise. The thought of wearing a mask non-stop for one or two weeks or longer, other than in our cabin, is totally unappealing.
  • Cruise lines to only allow indoor excursions during port stops if physical distancing, use of masks, and other recommended protective measures can be implemented. What about the cramped vans and buses transporting passengers from the ship to a point of interest? From what we’ve read so far, self-arranged tours will no longer be allowed, only those outrageously expensive tours offered through the ship will be possible. If a passenger goes off on their own, they won’t be allowed to return to the ship and will forfeit the balance of the cruise.
  • Cruise lines to modify onboard facilities so passengers can remain socially distanced in accordance with CDC recommendations (at least six feet separation). This includes during dining and during priority club free drink periods, which was our primary means of socializing.
  • Daily temperature checks for all passengers. Fine, we don’t mind this.
  • Tima and Rasnesh, long time friends, after many hikes with tourists to the waterfall.

As you can see, these requirements totally eliminate all of our reasons for cruising. Instead, we’ll continue to enjoy possible future holiday homes in locations we find desirable; on or near the ocean, and in cultural and wildlife-rich areas. Only time will tell when we can pick up where we left off, with the thought in mind that cruising may not be a part of our means of transportation from one part of the world to another or a means of meeting new people along the way. Disappointing, for sure.

Stay healthy.

Photo from one year ago today, October 25, 2019:

There was no post one year ago on this date due to a poor WiFi signal on the ship.

Day #189 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Food photos from a Celebrity cruise, Vancouver to Honolulu in 2014…

There was no charge for a piece (or two) of this lovely strawberry cake offered on the cruise. But, none for me with my way of eating. Even Tom passed on this cake.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014, while we were on a cruise from Vancouver to Honolulu. For more on this date, please click here.

My mouth was watering when I reviewed today’s photos from a cruise to Hawaii, where we ended up staying for a total of eight months on four of the most popular islands: Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai.

All of these desserts in the Al Bacio Bar are included in the fare., no purchase necessary.  However, there is a charge for specialty coffees also available in this area. Oddly, Tom wasn’t interested in anything in this case.

In many ways, it seems like yesterday, especially when we spent the Christmas holidays with the kids and grandkids on the Big Island and, the last four months in Kauai, making many new friends and exploring the life cycle of the Laysan Albatross, which during those months, became a daily source of tremendous joy and wonder.

By the time we boarded this cruise in 2014, we’d been on eight prior cruises since beginning our journey and had considerable experience when ordering meals befitting Tom’s picky taste buds and my low carb/keto way of eating. It was hard for me to resist all the beautiful desserts, one of which is shown in today’s main photo. But, never once did I order or select any forbidden desserts, ice cream (or meals) when meandering the various food stations throughout the ship.

Oh, delicious! I ended up ordering a second serving of this fabulous Pistachio Duck Terrine.

With a former sweet tooth, such desserts were difficult to resist, but by this ninth cruise, I had my attraction to such items strictly under control and rarely ever gave it a thought. When others, at a shared table, ordered gooey desserts, either I ordered a fresh cup of tea or if still hungry after a meal of tiny portions, I could order the cheese plate.

In every case when ordering the cheese plate, asking for it to arrive without fruit or crackers, almost invariably it would be placed in front of me with fruit and crackers. After a while, we laughed. I’d remove the items and proceed to enjoy the various imported cheeses.

Tom’s escargot was green due to the use of spinach in the buttery sauce. If I told him the green was spinach, he probably wouldn’t eat it. He did!

Eventually, I stopped ordering it, since the cheese serving was way more than I should eat and it was hard to resist when it was in front of me. I’ve always been a member of the “clean plate club.” Many can surely relate to that, perhaps a by-product of our upbringing when we were required to clean the plate due to the starving children all over the world. Gosh, if leaving untouched food on my plate would feed starving children I would have never cleaned my plate.

For many travelers, cruising is all about the food. Honestly, right now if we boarded a cruise ship, I’d run, not walk, to the buffet to partake in the many items I can eat; eggs Benedict (minus the English muffin), smoked salmon with capers, platters of chilled prawns, burgers (minus the bun), grilled fish, unlimited steamed veggies and one of the items I miss the most…a big green salad.

My dinner consisted of salmon and steamed vegetables, which with the addition of a side dish of Hollandaise sauce was fine. I prefer not to eat carrots since they are grown underground and high in sugar content.

We don’t order salads or raw vegetables here in India for fear the produce is washed in tap water which is unsafe to drink in India. Sure, the hotel probably washes it in purified water but it most likely had been sprayed with tap water in processing for distribution to hotels and restaurants. It would only take a few spores of bacteria to throw us into a bacterial infection which is all we’d need now.

We don’t worry about COVID-19 infecting our food that is served to our room twice a day. The cooks live in the hotel as do the servers who deliver it to our room. Also, there’s no definitive research indicating the virus is contracted from food, although under certain circumstances, I’d imagine this is a possibility.

Tom’s dinner of beef cheeks over parsnip puree, carrots, broccoli with demi-glace sauce which he found to be excellent.

That’s why we don’t order takeaway meals from the many restaurants in the area that will deliver to the hotel which is left at the guard gate for patrons to collect. It’s not worth the risk or the bother. Also, for my purposes, we’d have no idea as to ingredients used to prepare our meals, including toxic vegetable oils that we resist. All of our meals are prepared with “real” butter as opposed to margarine and trans-fats used by many dining establishments throughout the world, not just in India.

Even looking at today’s photos of food I can eat, makes my mouth water. Oh, well. Hopefully, this is just temporary. Every day, I think about a plate of home-made food in front of me, sitting at a table with a linen placemat and napkin, and a glass of red wine in a fine wine glass, instead of on a chair in a hotel room with the same meal night after night meal on my lap,

One of our dear readers wrote that lockdown feels like “house arrest” and I agree, but in our case, it feels more like being a teenager and confined to our room for bad behavior. Except, that teenager could go to the kitchen, open the refrigerator filled with tasty options, and select what they found most appealing. Not the case now!

May your day be filled with taste-tempting, hearty, healthy, and delicious meals.

____________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, September 28, 2019:

This lamb, covered in dirt after it rained, on the farm in Devon, England, is half the size of the others. Renate and John, our property owners, explained she never grew to full size due to a genetic anomaly. For more photos, please click here.

Day #140 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…More photos from Paris in 2014…The continuation of the river cruise…

Our second Eiffel Tower nighttime light show after our dinner cruise on the River Seine.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word, “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from the post from August 10, 2014, while in Paris, France. See the link here for more photos.
The Assemblee Nationale, the French National Assembly. The interior of many of these buildings is worth seeing by clicking on the links included here.

Today was a late start in working on the post. After not getting out of bed until 8:30 am and out the door for my first walk until almost 9:00 am, not returning until 20 minutes later, our breakfast had arrived.


After breakfast, I’d promised myself I’d get hold of FedEx to find out the status of the overnight letter containing our replacement credit card after it was discovered to be used fraudulently. 

The Palais de Justice, the French Palace of Justice.

Also, I wanted to check on our package of supplies which hasn’t been moving at FedEx for days, stuck in customs. I started calling several phone FedEx numbers I found online, but couldn’t get through on any of them using Skype.


Apparently, I was unable to use Skype to call India, while in India, even using my VPN. Frustrated, I tried using the expensive room phone, but there again I was on hold for so long, I finally gave up.

The scenery along the river was enhanced by the reflection of lights.

Then, I used my cell phone to call which also is pricey, but after 20 minutes on hold, I gave up figuring the best method was to email an inquiry when after entering the tracking number, a message popped up that said:


“A specialized statement is required for clearance from the recipient. Call FedEx.”

Tom’s photos of me are always blurry to some extent. That explains why I take most of the photos.

Frustration was setting in and finally, I sent an email after finding a good email address for customer service in India. I sent a clear and concise email outlining exactly what had transpired, requesting they email me the specified form so I can complete the delivery requirement.


In that same email, I also inquired about our package that has been sitting in customs for the past week and what they needed from us at this point. No reference had been made as to the customs fees which we normally could pay online, most likely since they’d yet to inspect the contents. Who knows how long it will be until that process is completed?

We were nearing the end of the cruise when I took this outdoor photo of Tom.

Most likely, these delays are a result of COVID-19. When I called a few of the online FedEx India phone numbers, people answered with TV sounds in the background, causing me to assume some of their employees were working from home. Calling became totally pointless with no response.


We’ll see how it rolls out. I can only hope they’ll reply to the email. Last month I sent an email asking if they were servicing this postal code in India and received a positive response a few days later. Hopefully, they’ll be as timely in their response to today’s inquiry.

The moon peeking out of a cloudy sky, the green lights, the reflections on the water…nice.

Now, well after 12:30 pm, I’m still working on today’s post, hoping to upload it in the next hour in order to return to my usual daily routine. Yesterday, we signed up for CBS All Access (first month free) to stream the newest Big Brother All Stars series, which is definitely mindless drivel, but nonetheless, entertaining and also, the latest Survivor series, again an entertaining distraction.


On another note, our friends, Lea Ann and Chuck, a lovely couple whom we met on a cruise in April 2017, from Sydney to Seattle who began traveling the world, at times, asking us for suggestions and sources we’ve used, wrote that they are ending their world travels in light of COVID-19.

We loved this shot of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.

They’ve purchased a home in Florida and will stay put, traveling from time to time as the world situation allows. One might think this might have inspired us to do the same. But, until we get out there again, flying, booking holiday homes, and living in other countries, we have no idea what the future holds in regards to continuing to travel. 

This was my veal filet. I don’t usually eat veal. However in Paris, one must try new things. I was served a delicious plate of less common sautéed vegetables.

Certainly, the option of living in three or four different countries (depending on visas) may continue to be an option for us in the future. Being unable to cruise may certainly have an impact on our options going forward. 

My lovely dessert, two creamy French cheeses.

In some ways, it might make our travels easier when we’re not manipulating our schedule to comply with cruise embarkation and debarkation locations. 

Tom’s dessert #1, a strawberry mousse. The pink appearance is due to the red LED lights in the boat after dark.

We can only guess at this point. And, right now, our priority is when and how we’ll be able to leave India when borders open here and in another country that we’re allowed to visit in the future.

Tom’s dessert #2, a layered chocolate torte embellished with a strand of delicious French chocolate.

Have a fulfilling and safe day!

________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, August 10, 2019:

We’d wished we could have posted the identity of all of these amazing highlights in Amsterdam. But, it wasn’t possible as the boat moved along quickly. It rained off and on but we were grateful for what we were able to see. For more photos, please click here.

Day #139 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…More photos from Paris in 2014…Gourmet dinner cruise on the River Seine…

Tom was carrying his dress shoes in a bag when the dress code on the dinner cruise stipulated no sports shoes were allowed. However, on a rainy night, they made exceptions when most of the passengers were wearing sport shoes.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word, “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from the post from August 9, 2014, while in Paris, France. See the link here for more photos.
As we walked down a few flights of stairs to the boardwalk along the River Seine, searching for the dinner cruise boat we’d booked, the Bataueux Parisiennes.

Today, we’re sharing photos from Part 1 of our exquisite dinner cruise on the River Seine six years ago. Tomorrow, we’ll share photos from Part 2 of the dinner cruise with more photos. 

As soon as we were seated, we were served these little French pastries and champagne. I didn’t try the buns but took a few sips of the delicious champagne. Tom ate all four of these pastries plus three of the white buns. 
Our story for the first of the two posts may be found here and thus, I won’t reiterate what transpired on that delightful, although rainy night in Paris. Due to the rain, the majority of our photos were taken through the tinted glass of the windows on the boat let alone at dusk and finally in the dark. We did our best.
Dark clouds were looming over the city for days as it rained heavily off and on. 

Instead, I can’t help but focus on the “year ago photo” at the bottom of today’s post, taken on our first of two days and nights we spent in Amsterdam, The Netherlands while we awaited a much-anticipated cruise Baltic cruise, we’d longed to experience for years.

Most of the photos shown here today and tomorrow were taken through the blue glass dining enclosure on the boat. 

Once we arrived in Amsterdam, flying from Dublin after a three-month stay, we found ourselves in a lovely boutique hotel overlooking a canal, we were in awe and overtaken by the beauty and uniqueness of this special city. 

We passed under one of many ornamental bridges.

Chomping at the bit to get outside and walk the narrow sidewalks and streets, a wave of disappointment washed over me as I faced the reality of my situation. It had been almost six months since my open heart surgery and I could barely walk more than a few meters without feeling a need to stop and rest.

This foie gras appetizer was amazing. I savored every morsel along with the single perfectly cooked cold asparagus spear, lying atop a line of what tasted to be an anchovy paste.

Having been on many heart-related drugs with serious side effects, including the FDA’s designated  “black box” drug Amiodarone and two others, my legs just didn’t work well enough for me to embark on long walks. 

Tom’s appetizer of grilled prawns and vegetables. He doesn’t normally care for shrimp. After sharing a few prawns with me, he said, “There was nothing offensive about this.” Nice.

By the time, we reached Amsterdam, I had weaned off all of the drugs, but was left with weakness and leg pain exacerbated by walking which I still suffer from today, along with cardiovascular disease which also contributes to leg pain when standing or walking for long periods.

Some of the spires of Notre Dame.

Subsequently, my memories of Amsterdam, center around the struggle to walk when there was no other way to get around the city than on foot or by boat. Not one to complain, I forged ahead while Tom patiently waited every five minutes or less for me to rest long enough to continue on.

As the boat continued on the River Seine. The 2½ hour cruise eventually turned around to go back the way we’d come enabling us to see the other side.

In any case, we saw a lot in those two days, probably not a lot less than we would have under better circumstances. While walking during those few days, my mind was filled with concern over how I’d walk when we were scheduled for several walking tours at various ports of call during the upcoming cruise.

At this point, we were nearing the turnaround spot.

We’d signed up for a few small group tours before the heart surgery and we were committed to our share of the costs. All we could do is forge ahead to the best of my ability. I refused to cancel it all.

There were many dinner cruise boats on the River Seine for considerably lower prices, as low as US $51, EU $39 per person which were less luxurious with standard fare. We’d researched extensively to decide on the Bateaux Parisiennes which was highly rated on various websites.

As it turned out, we only had to cancel one of the two-day tours in St. Petersburg. There was no way I could keep up with the group on a second all-day walking tour. This was very disappointing, not only in losing the money, which was non-refundable but also missing the second day. 

There were many day tour boats along the river.

I felt bad for Tom when he had so much anticipated this particular cruise, but he never complained or seemed frustrated with me. Instead, he held me up during the long walks on each tour, as I hung onto his arm. 

The sight of all the well lit boats on the river at night was captivating.

Somehow, we made it through the remaining ports of call on that cruise resulting in many wonderful experiences and photos along the way. It’s hard to believe it was only one year ago. I still struggle to walk without pain, but my current 5 miles, 8 km, daily walks have definitely been instrumental in improving my ability to walk for longer distances.

Tom was certainly enjoying the included two bottles of wine plus two glasses of champagne served when we were seated.  He prefers the white over the red.

No matter where we end up after we leave India, I will continue to walk, if safe outdoors and if not, indoors. If I walk every hour for 12 minutes each, by the end of any day, I could manage to get in the necessary steps to maintain this current goal.

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Photo from one year ago today, August 9, 2019:

Arriving in Amsterdam for a two-night stay before our upcoming cruise, we looked forward to a boat ride on the canals. For more, please click here.

Day #123 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Remembering Vietnam in summer 2016…Mekong River Cruise…

It’s hard to believe that Tom managed to climb out of the tiny opening at Cu Chi Tunnel in Vietnam. I was concerned he’d be stuck after all the carbs he’d eaten on the two-week cruise.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word, “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 
Today’s photos are from July 21 and July 24, 2016, while in Vietnam, visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels. See the links here and here for more photos.

It’s amazing a human could fit down this tiny hole especially Tom who’s considerably larger than Vietnamese people.

In recalling our Viking Mekong River cruise and land tour in July of 2016, it seems like a lifetime ago. Then again, many of our outstanding experiences seemed to have occurred so long ago, as we remain in lockdown at the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai Airport on day #123.

Tom was sitting at the table in a meeting room bunker with several mannequins with two other passengers standing behind him.

As mentioned earlier, we had started a self-imposed lockdown during our 55-day tour of India on March 12th or thereabouts, when we received an email that our cruise out of Mumbai on April 3, 2020, was canceled. 

Two of the Russian MIGs which were used by the North Vietnam Air Force.

It was at that point that we knew we needed to hunker down and avoid any touring that resulted in getting out of the car. In total, we have been in lockdown in hotel rooms for approximately 132 days.

US Huey helicopter.

The recent tours in India seem a distant memory, let alone the tours in Vietnam and Cambodia in 2016 which we’re highlighting in today’s photos. Good grief! It was only four years ago! 

US artillery pieces and two jeeps.

Details, photos, and stories of the amazing 15-night cruise and tour may be found in our archives for July 2016, including the above-mentioned link referencing the source of today’s repeated photos of the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam. 

US  rocket launchers and cluster bombs.

In any case, it was an extraordinary experience, one we’ll always treasure as our own personal tribute to all the soldiers and civilians that lost their lives in the horrific battle in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and surrounding areas.

Horrifying bamboo spikes in ground booby traps. 

Now, in this horrific battle with COVID-19 in countries throughout the world, we have plenty of time to think about the loss of life, the illness, and the sorrow experienced by millions of people as their lives are touched by this outrageously contagious virus.

Viet Cong surgery bunker.

With no end in sight, we can only wonder how much longer the world will be impacted by this pandemic and how many more lives will be lost or impacted by its path of destruction.

Notice the sweat on Tom’s shirt. He was soaked after crawling through the narrow tunnels. This larger opening was a welcome relief. Some of the tunnels and openings were enlarged for the benefit of tourists.

Yesterday afternoon, our friends Linda and Ken, living in Johannesburg, also currently in lockdown, sent us this article as to when international flights may resume in South Africa. It appears we may not be able to travel to the country until January 2021. Of course, this is subject to when India has also resumed international travel.

Tom took this photo while climbing out of a narrow tunnel by turning around after he’d already crawled through this spot.

We are grateful to be safe. Yes, the routine is mundane and repetitive, as is the food and the surroundings. But, we don’t forget for one moment the gift of safety, we’ve been blessed to experience during this difficult time.

Occasionally, certain areas were lighted as shown in this taller section.

There’s no room in our lives for “whinging” or complaining. Each day, we strive for cheerfulness and optimism as we continue to research our options when the time will be right. We’re well-informed as to what’s transpiring in the US and many countries throughout the world. We’ll know the moment we can make a move.

The next day, he’s a little stiff and sore, having used muscles he hadn’t used in years but suffered no ill effects. The passengers in our group were cheering him as he entered and exited when few others dared to attempt the challenge.

Please don’t take risks. I listen to podcast news on my phone when I walk the corridors and over and over again I hear stories where COVID-19 patients took only one risk after which they acquired the virus; only one time at a  bar, restaurant, or gathering while not wearing a mask.


May you and your family stay safe and healthy.

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Photo from one year ago today, July 24, 2019:

One year ago today, we posted five-year ago photos when we hadn’t been out for a few days while in Connemara, Ireland. There are a few sandy beaches on the island of Madeira.  Most are rocky such as this. For more, please click here.

Moving cruises to future dates…Dealing with unknowns in time of Covid-19…

Dozens of school kids walked along the beach while on a field trip to celebrate the end of the school year in Sumbersari, Bali for a one month holiday. When they return to school, they’ll enter the next grade as they continue their studies. Wearing school uniforms is required with a color change on different days of the week.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word, “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. Today’s photos are from June 10, 2016, while living in Sumbersari, Bali. See the link here for more photos.
At present, we have four cruises booked from November 2020 from Lisbon, Portugal to Cape Town, South Africa, and three in and around Japan between February 2022 to May 2022. 


The final of the three cruises ends in Vancouver, Canada, at which time we’ll spend time in the US for a family visit, flying from state to state to visit everyone.

Beautiful colors and scenery at high tide from our vacation villa.

For now, we’re thinking in terms of the upcoming cruise from Lisbon, Portugal to Cape Town, South Africa, which is scheduled to embark on November 10, 2020. Every few days we check Amazara Cruise Line’s website to see if the cruise has been canceled based on Covid-19. After all, that’s only five months from now.


When we originally booked the Azamara cruise for 22 nights, we’d done so early enough to book it for a good price for the unusual itinerary with ports of calls on the western coast of Africa, a route rarely taken by cruise ships. 

The kids were happy and playful as they chatted with one another on their field trip.

This cruise appealed to us with its unique ports of call and the resulting disembarkation in Cape Town, where we’d planned to spend a few days and then head to Marloth Park, with visa restrictions allowing us to stay for the remainder of 90 days less those we spent in Cape Town. 


We’ve never visited Cape Town and decided this cruise would be a good opportunity to visit one of the most popular tourist locations as one of the “most beautiful cities” in the world. 

The colors and shadows change in the constant daylight sunshine.

When we booked this particular cruise two years ago, we hesitated a little over the price since Azamara’s smaller ships with 690 passengers are considerably higher priced than larger cruises, often with 1000’s of passengers. 


But, we were fortunate to lock-in an excellent early booking price of IDR 950992, US $12,598 (for two). Now that same cruise is listed as IDR 1388819, US $18,398, a difference of INR 437828, US $5,800.

This breathtaking view never ceased to amaze us.

This is all well and good, but we are certain this original cruise will be canceled. As we approach July 7, 2020, when the final payment is due and, if the cruise line hasn’t yet canceled the cruise, in order to hold our best pricing, we’d have to pay the balance in full, less the INR 83036, US $1100 deposit we paid at the time of booking.


If they cancel after we’ve paid the balance in full, we could end up waiting three months or more to get a refund. We don’t want them holding our money for so long. On another note, if they cancel and we don’t ask for the money back, most likely they’ll offer a 125% credit toward a future cruise. What happens next?

Each day, we’ve rescued many grasshoppers who were drowning in the pool. Once we take them out, they dry off for a while and then fly off.  Some appeared dead but often come to life in no time at all.

They’ll raise the price of the 2021 similar cruise (of 21 nights as opposed to 22 nights) and if using our 125% credit (if we chose not to get the money back) we will end up paying a higher price for the similar cruise.


However, if we move our booking for the November 2020 cruise to the similar cruise in 2021, our best booking price will roll over to the transferred booking. I hope this makes sense.
This grasshopper was lethargic after I rescued him/her from the pool but soon flew away.

Last night, considering the time difference, we requested the change with our rep at Vacations-to-Go. By this evening, we should be receiving a new confirmation for the 2021 booking ending in Cape Town. The disadvantages of this cruise are the differences in some ports of call, and the fact it arrives in Cape Town on December 22, 2021, (the day before Tom’s birthday), making arrival at Christmas-time tricky. We’ll deal with that later.


So, here is a possible scenario for now. We leave India as soon as both borders open for us to fly to Marloth Park, via Johannesburg and then on to Nelspruit with a one-hour drive to Marloth Park. We’ll spend three months there with additional travels in Africa to extend the visa by going in and out of South Africa.
The view directly in front of our villa as the tide rapidly washed closer to the edge of the infinity pool. Logs and ocean debris often accompany the incoming tide which later disappears as the tide rolls back out to sea.

We’ll plan to work our way back to Lisbon, Portugal for the eventual sailing in 2021 and then, back to South Africa for another visit. At this point, with India and South Africa borders closed to international travel, we have no idea how long it will be between our first and second arrival in South Africa. We’ll figure it out as we go.


As for the remaining three cruises in 2022 in and around Japan, we’ll play it by ear and see what transpires over the next many months. These cruises are all on Celebrity with much higher passenger counts. Later, we’ll decide if they are safe in light of Covid-19.
A praying mantis on the glass door.

Thanks to many of our readers with suggestions for future posts after yesterday’s post asking for suggestions, shown here. We so appreciate your valued input and many of you will see your suggestions in posts to come.


Hang in there everyone! Hopefully, soon, these challenging times will pass.
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Photo from one year ago today, June 10, 2019:

Happy on a hill, cows in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.

Third cruise in and around Japan…10 days and counting…

On our way to the alpaca farm in New Plymouth, New Zealand on this date in 2016, we stopped at a few scenic overlooks in the rain. For more photos, please click here.

Saturday was yet another fun day and evening. Around 4:00 pm we grilled New York steaks on the grill at Colleen’s home. I’d brought a salad and broiled the butterflied garlic shrimp under the broiler in her oven.


Colleen made potatoes, gravy, and garlic bread, and a fantastic dinner was enjoyed by all, sitting inside at two tables for the eight of us, away from bees on the patio.


After dinner and cleanup, we started yet another round of Buck Euchre but this time we set up two tables and most of us played for hours. There was endless laughter, teasing, and banter among all of us. 


By 9:30 I was fading and headed back to our place to unwind and relax. Tom joined me around 11:00 pm and by midnight we were fast asleep. This morning, was relatively uneventful. I prepped everything for tonight’s dinner which we’ll have some time during the football games.


By 1:00 pm Tom was settled in front of the TV to begin watching the NFL football playoffs. With little interest in teams other than the Minnesota Vikings, who now are out of the running, I kept busy doing laundry and other household chores.


Today is a good day for me to conduct research for our future travels. As we’ve lined up these three cruises in Japan, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific it gives us a point from which to backtrack for locations that appeal to us prior to the cruises in 2022.

This week will be busy. Tomorrow evening I meet with friend/reader Staci in Mesa for dinner. On Thursday, all the family is driving an hour to Tom’s niece (Mary and Eugene’s daughter) Laurie and her husband Craig’s home in Goodyear, Arizona where we’ll all spend the day.


No doubt, in between there will be more “happy hours” celebrations in the neighborhood as we wind down our time in Apache Junction. And, before we know it, we’ll be completing our packing to be on our way to India.


Here is the information on this third and final cruise in and around Japan. We’ll be back with more later.

12 nights departing April 24, 2022, on
Celebrity’s Celebrity Solstice

Brochure Inside $1,988
Our Inside $784
You Save 61%
Brochure Oceanview $2,248
Our Oceanview $914
You Save 59%

Brochure Balcony $2,548
Our Balcony $1,064
You Save 58%
Brochure Suite $6,848
Our Suite $3,274
You Save 52%






Date Port Arrive Depart
Sunday, April 24 Tokyo (Yokohama), Japan 7:00pm

Monday, April 25 At Sea

Tuesday, April 26 Hakodate, Japan 7:00am 4:00pm

Wednesday, April 27 At Sea

Thursday, April 28 At Sea

Friday, April 29 Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, Russia 8:00am 7:00pm

Saturday, April 30 Cross International Dateline (Cruising)

Sunday, May 1 At Sea

Monday, May 2 At Sea

Tuesday, May 3 At Sea

Wednesday, May 4 At Sea

Thursday, May 5 At Sea

Friday, May 6 Vancouver, BC, Canada 7:00am 



It’s blissfully warm here today, in the 70s! It’s about time it warmed up!


Carpe diem!

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Photo from one year ago today, January 19, 2019:

A rhino beetle we found on the veranda on Thursday.  They are harmless to humans and don’t bite. They have a horn in the center of their foreheads comparable to a rhino. Thus the name “rhino” beetle. For more please click here.