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 research visiting our following 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 working 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 contact a manager to suggest another more experienced representative diplomatically. Right now, we’re very happy with Heather at Vacations-to-Go, our knowledgeable rep with years of experience.
Pretty flowers in the park.

As we research plans for early 2020, we’re finding the best route 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 different 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 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 who wanted to change to a different cabin. Additionally, more experienced cruisers will wait in this queue for hours to request a free upgrade.

Sheep were 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 care and consideration. Soon, we have some details to share.

May your day be filled with wonders.

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 vehicle at this 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.”

It was an enjoyable day in the charming town of Oughterard. When we arrived in Ireland 44 days ago, we drove through the village 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 departed 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 several shops that, in our old lives, he’d never enter.  With cultural differences reasonably apparent in the historical Connemara area, it’s always interesting to see the products offered to tourists.  

The work of local artists is 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 are 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 is 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 fat I consume while still having plenty of healthy fats, baking anything low carb is out of the question when most recipes require vast 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 major 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 concluded we need to start planning more for the future. Currently, we are 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 of is one thing. What we do is another. When we can combine these two, life is blissful.

Happy day to all!

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.
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 lines 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 know to move off the road as cars and trucks approach.
Have a great Monday, everyone! May your day be filled with beautiful surprises!

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.”

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 tend, based on the millions of passengers they serve each year, to make endless mistakes both human and technologically impacting travelers, leaving them in the 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 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 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 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 discriminatory manner, we may hypothesize on what appears to be stereotypical behavior of people from certain countries.

On a few occasions, I will admit that we’ve entertained such comments in a group of friends, stating that people from this country 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, our perceptions, right or wrong, may often change 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. Still, 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 was used over 100 years ago.

It’s easy in Ireland. Everyone is amiable 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 a living in Ireland for three months all the more meaningful and memorable.  

Be well. Be happy.

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

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 essential 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.

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

Located in County Galway, it’s 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 made the first nonstop transatlantic flight by two British pilots from St. Johns Newfoundland to Clifden.

For us and our world travel experience, it’s another exciting place to live with several worthwhile sites in the area. Less interested in long, all-day road trips, we strive to find the venues that appeal to us 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. In this small town, 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 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 nonstop 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 honor 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 on either side, is the backdrop for montage panels of photographs and documents. These are well supported by memorabilia and artifacts.

A sign is posted near the 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 region’s rich history, 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 more about this appealing area, country, and its people.

We’re staying in over the weekend, but we have plenty of new photos to share after another outing yesterday. 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!

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. According to research, he was born in Britain, and some believe that he was kidnapped as a teenager and brought to Ireland.”

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 we’ve picked up the pace in the past week and have been getting out a little more often. 

It is 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 innovative. Since the onset of my recent recovery, I’ve had particular difficulty motivating myself in the latter 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 8. 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 going 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, 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 complimentary breakfast and WiFi, we save even more. 

The old railway station in Clifden.

Even arranging one 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 is 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!

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.

A post from seven years ago…Has much really changed?…

Although rocky, the sandy beaches are beautiful.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Rotunda Hospital in Dublin opened its doors in 1745. It is the longest-running
maternity hospital in the world.”

We can’t quite grasp the fact that we’ll have been traveling the world for seven years in a little over four months, although we began posting in March 2012, before leaving the US. It’s interesting to look back at those old posts to see if we’ve changed our views and perceptions. Often, we’ll read a post from so many years back on the same date.

On June 20, 2012, ironically, we wrote the following, in part, at this link:

“The uncertainty of the quality of medical care in the many countries we will visit undoubtedly presents us with cause for concern. Overall, we are both in relatively good health after working so hard to improve it these past few years.

With our healthful low carb diet of organic, grass-fed meats and produce, exercise (mostly me), reduction in exposure to toxic chemicals in our home, low stress, and a happy relationship, we feel we can manage our few complaints easily from afar.

Fishing boats in the bay.

Our doctor will be available via the Internet should we have questions, and we’ll be well-armed with a wide array of preventive and emergency medications should an illness arise. In the past almost year, neither of us has had a cold, a virus, or illness requiring a trip to the doctor.  

Our recent medical appointments have been for the sole purpose of reviewing our travel medications, receiving our vaccinations, and having blood tests with an annual exam thrown in for good measure, all of which showed tremendous improvement from a few years ago. We are hopeful.

AWe should be fine if we don’t get bitten by a snake or warthog, break a leg, or have a sudden gall bladder or appendicitis attack, But, of course, we must plan for the possibility of illness in the following manner:

  • Emergency evacuation insurance
  • Supplemental insurance for Jess (Medicare won’t pay for any care out of the US). Only 60 at retirement, Tom will be covered by his regular insurance.  Proof of insurance documents.
  • Prescription processing from afar (as mentioned in prior posts, we’re awaiting a response from our prescription plan as to whether they will provide us with 12 months of prescriptions at a time).
  • Emergency medication for infections, bee stings, and allergic reactions (Epipen), and gastrointestinal distress.
  • Copies of all of our immunizations (proof of yellow fever vaccine required with passport upon entry into Kenya).
  • Copies of all of our prescriptions (if we are asked during customs inspections or through security).
  • First-aid supplies: Bandages, antibacterial and cortisone creams, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide (small bottles).
  • Over-the-counter medications.
  • Vitamins/Supplements we currently use.
  • Medical records for both of us (scanning these).
  • Optical needs: extra sets of glasses/prescription sunglasses for Tom,  three years of contact lenses for me.  Both of us are yet to have our final optical appointments.
  • Final dental appointments and supplies: Our teeth will be cleaned two weeks before leaving the US while visiting Las Vegas over Christmas. The past few years, we both had all the crowns done that we’d needed.  
  • Copies of our living wills and legal designation for medical advocacy in the event of an emergency.
    It was hard to determine how this building crumbled.
A neat stack of medical forms and documents sits on our kitchen table with post-it notes reminding me to complete the above tasks on the appropriate dates.  
This Saturday is the free shredding event. After going through every file folder, cabinet, drawer, and piece of paper in our entire home, we are ready for the event. No words can describe the freedom we feel from unburdening our lives with paper.  
Other than the required medical documents, passports, and travel documents we’ll need to have on hand, we’ll leave a “paper” life behind us instead of relying on the latest technology to provide us access as required. Yeah, for technology! Without it, planning for this adventure would be more of a headache than it already is!”
Another pretty beach scene.
At that time, we posted very few photos. Neither of us was adept at photography and assumed we could take pictures for the blog using our phones. Smartphone cameras weren’t as good then as they are now. It didn’t take long for us to purchase our first, second, and third cameras, each time upgrading.

These days, we’ve seen many great photos taken with smartphones but now, after using a camera for so long (we have two), we have no interest in going back to the phone for photos.

But, as I reread through the above, not having read it in seven years, I was amazed at how little we’ve changed. Plus, unknown to us at the time, our insurance concerns were well-founded as we continued to deal with my recent open-heart surgery issues.  (I won’t get into that here today, as they continue to avoid reimbursing us for the many expenses we paid out-of-pocket).
House on a hill overlooking the sea.
And yes, we continue to avoid having “papers” in our possession, cluttering our luggage and our lifestyle. As for prescriptions, recently, I refilled everything I needed for six months in South Africa.  

When refills are due, I’ll be able to order them through ProgressiveRX, having them shipped to wherever we may be at the time. Hopefully, I have enough meds to last until we arrive in the US and deal with more prompt mail service than some countries.

Of course, since the above dates, we’ve both turned 65 (and now over 65) and could no longer use the insurance we had when we started. Medicare doesn’t pay outside the US, so before that time, we arranged for the insurance we now have that we can’t cancel until we find another option and they pay the claims.  So far, no luck in either situation.
Painted sheep grazing in a field.

Many of the supplies we mentioned in the old post have long since been eliminated from our bags. We don’t have space for many supplies with only one extra (third bag between us). In most countries, we can purchase a close alternative to any items we may need.

Tomorrow, we’ll share photos and stories of yesterday’s sightseeing outing.

May your day be filled with pleasant memories of times past.

Photo from one year ago today, June 20, 2018:

Little Wart Face, whom we later called “Little,” was so warm during yesterday’s 34C (93F) he climbed into the cement pond to cool off! We couldn’t stop laughing. After he exited the pond, he found a shady spot for a nap. For more photos, please click here.

We’ve booked a new location…Quite unusual for us!…

There are many beautiful scenes when driving on the many winding and narrow roads.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
Because Ireland is isolated, many species of animals commonly found in Europe do not live here. This includes moles, polecats, and weasels.”

When we decided how to handle our upcoming schedule for visiting the US, the starting date on November 8 was based on when we’d disembark a transatlantic cruise from Southampton, England, ending in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We booked a flight from there to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where we’ll visit kids, grandkids, and other family members, for two weeks staying in a nearby hotel.

From there, we’ll fly to Nevada, where we’ll spend 10 days staying with my son Richard in Henderson, Nevada, frequently visiting my sister Susan in Las Vegas. While in Nevada, we’ll renew our driver’s licenses and passports.  
Fishing boats in the bay.

With the rental car we’ll have booked in Nevada, we’ll drive to Apache Junction, Arizona (five hours) and spend the month of December near his sisters, Colleen (and husband Gene), Mary Ellen (and husband Eugene), and Margie. They each have a home in a 55-plus RV park where they spend the cold Minnesota winter months.

When we visited the US in summer 2017, we spent time with his sisters while still in Minnesota. However, we’d only visited them at their Apache Junction homes a few times when we stayed in Scottsdale in 2012.

Mr. & Mrs. Sheep

As the youngest in the family, Tom thought it would make sense to spend some quality time with his sisters while they were in the US at the end of the year, and I concurred.

Where we’d stay has been a source of research over the past few weeks. They were a few holiday homes we could consider and plenty of hotels. But, we wanted to spend time with his sisters and their neighbors, who get together each day for happy hour and snacks. 

Two white Connemara ponies were tended to by their owner.

If we were staying in a hotel, we wouldn’t make some food to bring for each evening. If we stayed in a nearby holiday home, we’d have the drive from their location to a house a few miles away. We didn’t want Tom driving after happy hour. On occasion, his family members stayed up very late, too late for me, and he’d have to go me back to our location.

The logical choice was to find a place to live in their RV park, which was merely a short walk away from his sisters. As we began our research, we couldn’t find any rentals for that specific location advertised anywhere online.

As we approached Balleyconneely.
Tom’s sister, Colleen, got to work and found a place for us, not far from their RV sites, within easy walking distance. The rep at the park has confirmed our rental, which will include all utilities, WiFi, TV service, and a complete unit with kitchen and laundry facilities for a little over Euro 1339, US $1500 per month.  

We agreed to book the unit from December 1 through December 31. Once we get settled, we’ll decide where we’d like to be on New Year’s Eve, but we’ll figure that out later. It’s a bit odd that we’ll be staying in a trailer home which is far removed from our usual private homes throughout the world. But, we’ve determined this is the best possible scenario for that particular period.  
Ruins of another castle.

No doubt, we’ll have a great time with his sisters (and husbands) and thoroughly enjoy staying in this unique (to us) type of property. Each time we have an opportunity to try something new, we look forward to the opportunity to expand our horizons.

This morning, we took off for Clifden, visiting a museum for which we’ll share photos and historical facts in the next few days.  
Thanks for stopping by! Have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 19, 2018:

She turned her head to pose for the camera. For more photos, please click here.

Things we can count on…Ireland…

What a view!

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“Hook Lighthouse in Hook Head, County Wexford, is believed to be the oldest working lighthouse in Europe and possibly even the world.”

A year ago today, we wrote a story on “things we can count on” in Marloth Park, South Africa, which prompted me to consider the “things we can count on” since our arrival in Connemara, Ireland 37 days ago.
Curious cow.

Some may assume we haven’t grasped the true nature of Ireland when we haven’t been out as much as usual. A few days ago, one of our readers wrote the following comment with my response below:

Unknown said…
Please don’t let the weather keep you inside….buy a sweatshirt and a raincoat and go….we’ve been in Ireland and Scotland as well as the Baltic countries. In any of these places, the weather can be cool, rainy, windy a lot of days. We don’t let it keep us inside and eat up days of a trip…..go despite the weather. 7:52 am 

Jessica said…

Dear Unknown, we so appreciate your comment. But, the reality for us is two-fold right now. One, I only had two surgeries on both of my legs a short time after cardiac bypass surgery, a little over two months ago and walking on uneven surfaces presents a severe risk of falling. Secondly, for us, this isn’t a “trip.” This is our daily lives, and in our old lives, we seldom went “sightseeing.” We have warm clothing and raincoats, but I must heal more before getting out on slippery surfaces. This is our reality right now, and we strive every day to make the best of it, in good and bad weather. Thank you kindly for your comment. It is greatly appreciated.
Warmest regards,
Jess & Tom
Painted sheep…everywhere!

We certainly understood and appreciated this well-intentioned comment and thanked the reader for taking the time to write to us. Most readers quietly lurk in the background, seldom commenting. I do this when reading most blogs, reading and failing to express any thoughts, suggestions, or comments.

Rarely do we ever receive negative comments from readers? We can only attribute this to our sense of vulnerability expressed here. It’s tough to be negative to those who admit their foibles and shortcomings, which we freely do here day after day. But, when our readers write, we take their comments seriously.

I so agreed with the above writer. Her/his comments would be so true under different circumstances. We decided to respond to the comment with the utmost forthrightness, again being candid about our reality.

She was lounging on a hillside.

Sure, we wish we could be out several days a week exploring. But, when it rains, and I’m not feeling 100%, it’s simply not appealing to bundle up in rainproof clothing and trek through areas with slippery grass, hills, and often steep roads to climb.  

Regardless of this temporary slow-down in our sightseeing over the past four months, we have found many “things we can count on” here in Ireland when we’re only heading out a few times each week to take photos and discover what we can.

However, in the simplicity of life we’re living here in Ireland, we’ve encountered several “things we can count on.”

They include:

  • A stunning view out of most windows in a beautiful house
  • The sunset is breathtaking on clear nights as late as 2200 hours, 10:00 pm
  • It’s still light up until almost 2300 hours, 11:00 pm
  • There has yet to be an uncomfortably warm day
  • Locals are amiable, helpful, and humorous
  • Fish and seafood is readily available, freshly caught from the Atlantic Ocean
  • The “fish guy,” John, stops by each Tuesday afternoon with fantastic options
  • Organic foods are functional in abundance in grocery stores
  • Concern for the environment is a vital part of life in Ireland
  • Ruins are regarded as an essential part of Irish history and are strewn about the countryside in their historic glory
  • The property we’re renting runs on solar power for heating water and warming the house (although electricity and WiFi is provided)
  • WiFi service is dependable and high speed
  • Driving to any venue is an opportunity to see exceptional scenery
  • Animals such as sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, and horses are spotted on every outing
  • Seabirds and other birds are plentiful
  • There are few venomous spiders and other creatures
  • Mosquitos seem to be non-existent, although there may be midges at dawn and dusk (“The Highland midge is a species of small flying insect, found across the Palearctic in upland and lowland areas. In the northwest of Scotland and northern Wales, the Highland midge is usually very prevalent from late spring to late summer,”) during which time one should stay indoors, use repellent and keep windows shut.  (There are no screens on windows).  We’ve yet to use any repellent while here.

It’s a rarity to find any insects indoors other than an occasional harmless spider or isolated fly.

A Connemara mare and her colt.

Well, you get the drift. There are many more “things we can count on” here in Ireland, and the list could go on and on, especially based on one’s preferences.  While we are here for the next 54 days until we depart for the following location.

Have a fantastic day reveling in “things you can count on!”
Photo from one year ago today, June 18, 2018:
“Zebras are very fast-moving animals and can reach speeds of up to 65 kph (40 mph) when galloping across the plains. This is just fast enough to outpace predators such as lions. Foals can run with the herd within a few hours of birth.”  For more details, please click here.