Coldest night so far…Another fun anniversary to celebrate!!!…New photos from nighttime trail cam and more…

Today, we celebrate 31 years since we met in 1991. This is our last selfie, taken at the silent disco on the cruise in April 2022, the night before we both developed symptoms of Omicron. We are grateful to have recovered and, of course, to be together through all the ups and downs of being home-free, storage-free world travelers for almost ten years. That special anniversary is upcoming on October 31!!!

The aircon units used in bedrooms here can cool in the hottest weather and warm when it’s cold. We’ve never used the heating feature since we feel we don’t need to waste the electricity required to power the heating aspect of these units. Instead, we bundle up in warm clothes and, at night, sleep with layers of blankets we can strip off if necessary.

It’s incredible how much our body heat warms the bedroom at night. We noticed it when we left the bedroom at night to get something from the kitchen. We have never turned on the heat while in South Africa.

Last night at dinner, while seated at the dining room table (it was too cold to eat outdoors), my fingers were as cold as they would have been outdoors in the middle of winter in Minnesota. Holding them under warm water for a few minutes solved the problem.

Later, fully dressed, we got under the two top layers on the bed to watch a movie, one Tom hadn’t seen years ago, and now I know why. It was Armageddon, a movie I’d seen once and recalled, like the adventure of a disaster movie. The past few years are reminiscent of movies I watched about pandemics. Isn’t it ironic that those movies have come to us in the form of real life? I sure hope no massive asteroid start hurdling toward earth!

According to many news reports we read from time to time, we face disasters, right and left. Sometimes, I find it best not to read those articles. One can become anxious and depressed over such news. We both choose to embrace the positive aspects of life. Negative thinking can quickly impact one’s quality of life and health.

That doesn’t mean we are oblivious to what’s happening globally and even locally. We stay aware enough to tweak our lives as needed to consider the challenges such as using less fuel, not being wasteful, recycling, and being mindful of using products and services we don’t need. This also means tightening our budget as needed in tough economic times.

Last night, after two hours on hold with Costco Travel about finally receiving our over the US $5000, ZAR 79,318 credit from Azamara from us canceling the Black Sea cruise when the itinerary was changed due to the war in Ukraine. We intended to offset the final payment due at midnight for the first leg of the upcoming cruise in November for the triple back-to-back from Athens to Cape Town.

Why should we pay in advance when they owe us so much money? Luckily, after being on hold for two hours, the Costco rep finally got through to Azamara and resolved the issue. They credited us over US $5000. We’ll pay for the second leg in a few weeks and the third, weeks later.

Big Daddy gracefully stepped over the fence with his long legs.

This particular triple back-to-back is very expensive, much more than we’re usually willing to spend. But. It’s an almost entirely new itinerary for us, seeing countries we may never be able to see again, and we decided to bite the bullet and book them. Of course, we are concerned about getting Covid-19 again, based on our recent bad experience. But, we’ve chosen not to live our lives in fear, preventing us from new experiences.

We hear so much about people getting Covid-19 on cruise ships. But, if we were to research other venues and circumstances, people are still getting sick from different scenarios. That doesn’t mean we are careless and unconcerned. It simply means we’ve decided to move on and resume our world travels more expansively.

This evening, the two of us will celebrate the anniversary of the day we met 31 years ago, on June 28, 1991. We are grateful to be together after all these years, still in love and blissfully interested in one another.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 28, 2021:

Thick Neck stopped by frequently at our last house, but we’ve yet to see him here. Maybe one day, soon. For more photos, please click here.

One day and counting…Packing day…Exciting windfall described at the end of today’s post!…

    The new watch face on my Fitbit Sense. How appropriate is that? I didn’t walk much yesterday when I took this photo, and we were too busy with other tasks.

Yesterday, after we returned from picking up Tom’s suit and a few items for me at Target, I began to pack. Much to my delight, the four fancy dresses I’d purchased on Amazon, sight unseen, fit me well. The wrinkle-proof dresses fit into my small carry-on Samsonite bag and my camera and costume jewelry.

Although I purchased quite a few new items, including four pairs of jeans, I managed to fit everything else into my one large bag. The only issue will be the weight, which we’ll figure out at the end of the second cruise when we fly from New York to Minneapolis on May 1. As always, it will all work out.

At least I’ll be returning to Marloth Park with enough clothes, underwear, and shoes to get me through the following year in South Africa and for any side trips that we’ll need to make in the process for visa stamps. Mostly, I purchased comfy easy-wash-and-wear tee shirts, a few pairs of versatile black pants, and a few dressier tops for special nights out, such as for my 75th birthday party at Jabula, a mere ten months from now.

I purchased one pair of Skechers walking shoes and will buy one more pair when we get to Minneapolis, where there’s no tax on clothes and shoes, which will save 7.5% plus a 20% coupon I got online. I didn’t need to bring another pair of shoes on the two cruises when right now I have one black sandal, one tan sandal, one silvery flat shoe, one pair of walking shoes, and two pairs of Keds leather slip-on for a total of six pairs of shoes, the most I’ve had in over eight years. How exciting!

I still don’t have an official handbag, but Tom will carry my lipstick in his pockets on the cruises. Instead of handbags, I usually travel with one large South African cloth bag, which holds more than any handbag. I purchased these at the shop at the Mugg and Bean at Lower Sabie in Kruger National Park. I am now using my second bag. Before we left, I machine washed my first of the two fully lined bags, which came out brand new after air drying. I left it behind and am currently using the newer second bag.

However, carrying a big cloth bag from South Africa is unsuitable for nights out on a cruise, especially when wearing dressy clothes. Tom always says he’s my “pack mule.”  As for Tom, other than the suit, shirts, two ties, a pocket scarf, and a pair of black Cole Haan shoes, he didn’t need a thing. His casual button-down shirts for dinners on the cruise and dining out in Marloth Park are in perfect condition. He rotates about a dozen of the quality wash-and-wear shirts and an equal number of tee shirts.

Today is about getting organized and wrapping up our packing. Last night we had delicious homemade pizza left from the prior night’s dinner. The past three nights, I wore a long-sleeved shirt and compression stockings when we sat outside on the veranda by the edge of the pool having sundowners, and I only got one bite. That was excellent, resulting in a good night’s sleep.

Yesterday, I was also working on getting my Fitbit Sense to pair with the Bluetooth on my new phone. It wouldn’t pair after numerous attempts and workarounds. Finally, I had to do a factory reset on the Fitbit, and now I’m waiting to see if it worked as the software was reinstalled. There are always a few issues with a new phone, aren’t there?

OK, the Fitbit is now working and paired with my new phone’s Bluetooth with my new watch face. Check out the above main photo!

As for the windfall, as mentioned earlier…wait until you hear this! On Tuesday, when Tom was re-checking current cruise pricing on our remaining booked cruises, he discovered a huge price drop on our 42 night three back-to-back cruises from Athens to Cape Town.

There was a price drop on the final leg of over US $3100!!! Immediately, he contacted Costco Travel, and we were given the new price drop, saving us this considerable sum of money. We couldn’t be more thrilled and surprised. What an exciting discovery that wouldn’t have been possible without Tom’s diligence!

We’ll be back tomorrow with a short post before we embark on the four-hour drive to the port in Fort Lauderdale to the ship after Tom drops off the rental car at the nearby airport.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 7, 2021:

This lovely giraffe on the side of the road stood at attention. For more photos, please click here.

Tom made an exciting discovery!!!…Can we start feeling enthused about traveling again?…

Has Hal taken over for Broken Horn whom we haven’t seen in a few weeks?

It’s been easy to get out of the state of mind about traveling during the pandemic. Almost every day, news hits the wires that make us wonder when and if we’ll be able to return to our years-long journey to see more and more of this magnificent world we live in.

The clock is ticking faster now, more than ever, as we age, regardless of how hard we try to reduce the impact of aging. Neither of us feels any less agile or capable of continuing to travel than we did when we began in 2012. Yes, we’ve experienced some bumps in the road, literally and figuratively, mainly for me with some health issues.

But, our desire and determination to continue had only waned during the past two years of the pandemic when none of us knew what the future holds. Even now, there’s a degree of uncertainty hanging over all of our heads regarding travel. Many have changed their lives, excluding vacations/holidays to relax and unwind, instead looking at other avenues to accomplish these objectives.

Hal likes to rub his muddy face on the trees to get cleaned off.

Each day, we hear about cruise disasters, at times making us tentative, but we aren’t hearing about the successful cruises sailing all over the world. Many are incident-free, with many safety protocols in place to protect the passengers and crew. No, cruising won’t be as fun as it was for us in the past, when we socialized day and night, mask-free, enjoying lively conversation and dinners with six or eight other guests at big round tables. Those days may be gone, for now, and into the future. Only time will tell.

Knowing our first cruise, a transatlantic cruise with Celebrity Cruise line is sailing in only 66 days from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has left us wondering if it will cancel. At this point, we’re beginning to believe it will sail after all as planned. It’s a repositioning cruise at an excellent price to get the ship back to the UK and Europe, so it will sail as planned, most likely from what we can determine thus far.

Our goal is to stay in the UK with easy visa requirements until our next cruise sails in June from Istanbul, Turkey. It’s an easy flight in less than four hours. We plan to move around the UK during those two months, as we did in 2019, to experience more quaint and charming holiday rentals and hotels.

Bossy looks more and more pregnant each day.

Of course, we plan to see friends Linda and Ken who live in Buckinghamshire, another attractive English countryside location, which we love more than the big cities. At this point, we can’t book anything until we are on our way across the Atlantic Ocean to ensure nothing impacts the cruise.

We have no concern whatsoever making plans at this late date, only days before our arrival in Southampton, England, on April 21. We don’t want to risk losing deposits and full payments if something happens beyond our control. It’s one of those scenarios where we’re comfortable “playing it by ear.” If we can’t wrap up a holiday rental, we find a historic hotel, of which there are many.

All of this “cruise talk” brings us to the exciting news about Tom’s discovery in the past few days. In researching pricing for our currently booked cruises to 2023, he found three cruises with substantial price drops. To enjoy the benefits of a price drop, it’s up to the passengers to check pricing regularly, not the travel agency or cruise line. Such price drop benefits can only be gleaned before the final payment date, not after.

Hal does a nice job of trimming the grass in the garden.

Upon discovering recent price drops on three of our seven booked cruises for which we’d yet to pay the final balances, two of which are payable this month, Tom got to work. Last night, he managed to get in touch with Costco Travel after being on hold for over an hour and requested the following prices to be dropped on those three cruises as follows:

  • Sail Date: July 10, savings amount:           US $2600,  ZAR 39761*
  • Sail Date: November 8, savings amount:   US $1680,  ZAR 25697
  • Sail Date: November 19, savings amount: US 1280,    ZAR 19578

Total savings for 2022:  US $5560, ZAR 85036

No doubt, it was worth staying on hold for such a long time. We were in bed and put down the phone while Tom worked on his laptop, and I played with my phone until a rep came on the line.

Saving this amount of money furthered our enthusiasm going forward. If these three cruises have further price drops, we’ll be able to start the process all over again. Of course, Tom will continue to watch the prices, as he always does before final payments are due on the remainder of the cruise. or any of the remaining cruises and go even lower.

So, that’s our news of the day.

Have a rewarding day, too!

Photo from one year ago today, February 1, 2021:

This was an excellent profile of one of our favorite animals, a giraffe. For more photos, please click here.

Summer solstice today in the Southern Hemisphere..Again, we made a decision about our visas expiring in a month…

Impala with an oxpecker in Kruger National Park.

This morning, when checking the news for any relevant topics to share today, other than the news-hogging Omicron variant, I stumbled across several articles about today being the official start date for summer in South Africa. It was nice to see headlines about something other than Covid-19, which is monopolizing headlines worldwide.

Impalas on the side of the road as we passed.

To stay on top of things, I read several news reports from worldwide sources. I tend to particularly like news from the UK and South Africa, both of which seem to be most relevant to us during our time in this country. The UK media tends to report on activities in South Africa, especially now when many tourists from the UK often visit SA during the holiday season. Of course, travel has been dramatically tempered since the onset of Omicron, which is raging in the UK right now.

Also, at this time, we’re paying particular attention to news directly out of South Africa to see if President Ramphosa will extend visas for foreign nationals, which will directly impact us.

Baby impala, perhap only days old.

However, at this time, to be safe with our visas expiring in a little over a month, we had decided to use the services of the law firm in Cape Town that we used to obtain a waiver after we were banned from the country for five years when we overstayed by 90 days when I had emergency open-heart surgery.

The law firm did an excellent job for us when we contracted their services in May 2019 while we were in Ireland, and they could handle everything remotely. We feel confident using them again. As a matter of fact, Gerhardt and Rita used this same firm with our recommendation when they applied for their four-year retirement visa while in the US.

Zebras near the Verhami Dam.

We considered applying for the South Africa four-year retirement visa but doing so requires an extended stay in the US which didn’t work for us. Foreign nationals cannot apply for an extended visa while in South Africa. Subsequently, in the past few days, we decided to go ahead and apply for a 90-day extension with the law firm, which will take us to the end of March (and beyond until April 23, if need be).

Why pay for a law firm to assist us? Right now, the immigration department is so backlogged with applications, we will get a faster result if we use a law firm.

Zebras seeking shelter from the sun under a bush,

At this point, we still don’t know if our booked transatlantic cruise to the UK will sail on April 8th. The final payment will be taken from our credit card online at Costco on Christmas Day. We were hoping that Celebrity Cruise Line would do so before the final payment is due if they ended up canceling the cruise.

However, many cruise lines require full payment on the original final payment due date, even if they intend to cancel the cruise in a few months due to the pandemic. This provides them the free use of our money for many months while we end up having to wait for a refund for months after they cancel the cruise. It can take three to four months to get a refund after the cruise is canceled. It’s the nature of the beast.

A newborn wildebeest suckling.

Based on what’s happening in the UK right now with the Omicron wildfire of cases, we’re expecting the cruise will be canceled. Based on stats from the website Worldometer, yesterday, the UK, with a population of 68,409,000, had 91,743 new cases. For comparison’s sake, the US had 143,530 new cases, also yesterday, with a population of 333,850,090, which continues to have the highest numbers of cases and deaths worldwide.

Yes, I know these numbers can easily be skewed. After all, humans are entering the information. Does a person who goes to the hospital with a fatal heart attack become a Covid statistic when they also happen to have Covid-19 at the time of death? Sure, there’s plenty of this going on, especially when many countries provide hospital remuneration when patients die from the virus.

Wildebeests resting near Verhami Dam.

But, we have nothing else to go on, and perhaps these stats serve as a guide to what’s happening throughout the world. I can only imagine how many cases aren’t reported in most parts of the world. Not everyone who gets Covid019 gets tested or goes to a medical facility for treatment. It’s not foolhardy to speculate that more than half, if not more, of the cases, go unreported.

We live in precarious times. We can’t anticipate what the future holds, even based on daily living. All we can do now is continue to strive toward good health, fulfilling relationships with family and friends, kindness to others and our world, and fiscal responsibility to the best of our ability.

May this holiday season remind us of our blessings and those areas of life for which we can be grateful.

Photo from one year ago today, December 21, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #263. In December 2019, we were preparing to enter the stadium for the Las Vegas Golden Knights game with my son Richard. Thanks, Richard, it was an enjoyable night! Here‘s the post from that night. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic new cruise bookings…

  1.  Azamara
    10 Nights – Azamara (Athens/Piraeus – Lisbon)
    Cruise Line: Azamara
    Ship Name: Azamara Journey Star Rating
    Cruise Length: 10 NightsDeparture Date: 11/19/2022
    Embarkation Port: Athens/Piraeus, GreeceReturn Date: 11/29/2022
    Disembarkation Port: Lisbon, Portugal
Sailing Itinerary
Date Port of Call Arrival Departure
11/19/2022 Athens/Piraeus 05:00 PM
11/20/2022 Cruising
11/21/2022 Valletta 08:00 AM 10:00 PM
11/22/2022 Trapani 11:00 AM 07:00 PM
11/23/2022 Cagliari 08:00 AM 06:00 PM
11/24/2022 Cruising
11/25/2022 Cartagena/Spain 08:00 AM 05:00 PM
11/26/2022 Malaga 08:00 AM 10:00 PM
11/27/2022 Gibraltar 07:30 AM 02:00 PM
11/28/2022 Lisbon 01:00 PM
11/29/2022 Lisbon

When we booked the cruise listed below, and Tom noticed the above cruise for a back-to-back, starting in Athens on November 19, 2022, a mere 14 months from now, he suggested we also book this cruise, adding ten more days our itinerary.  It may not seem like adding ten days is a significant benefit, but with our desire to cruise as much as we can afford over the next few years, added some cruise ports we’ve yet to visit, it made all the sense in the world.

On this same ship, on 11/29/2022, we’ll change cabins and continue on the even more exciting second leg of this cruise, Lisbon to Cape Town, enabling us to return to South Africa and Marloth Park for a possible six more months with one visa stamp required for each of us, after the first three months.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, this cruise, which we’d booked in the past and was canceled due to Covid-19, now has a slightly different itinerary but still fulfills our goals of visiting more countries in Africa and, above all, ending in Cape Town, South Africa on December 20, 2022, where will stay for a few nights and then head back to Marloth Park.

Here is the price summary of this first cruise. Notice the high amounts for taxes and fees.

Price Summary
Traveler 1 Traveler 2 Total
Cruise Package $3,439.00 $3,439.00 $6,878.00
Taxes and Fees $175.97 $175.97 $351.94
Total Package Price $3,614.97 $3,614.97 $7,229.94

Based on previous bookings, we’ll need to change cabins between the two cruises. This isn’t a problem for us. We can pack and unpack in a matter of about 30 minutes. Below is the itinerary for the second cruise on the same ship:

 Azamara
21 Nights – Azamara (Lisbon – Cape Town)
Cruise Line: Azamara
Ship Name: Azamara Journey Star Rating
Cruise Length: 21 NightsDeparture Date: 11/29/2022
Embarkation Port: Lisbon, PortugalReturn Date: 12/20/2022
Disembarkation Port: Cape Town, South Africa
Sailing Itinerary
Date Port of Call Arrival Departure
11/29/2022 Lisbon 05:00 PM
11/30/2022 Cruising
12/01/2022 Funchal 08:00 AM 06:00 PM
12/02/2022 Tenerife 01:00 PM 10:00 PM
12/03/2022 Cruising
12/04/2022 Cruising
12/05/2022 Dakar 08:00 AM 08:00 PM
12/06/2022 Banjul 07:30 AM 03:00 PM
12/07/2022 Cruising
12/08/2022 Cruising
12/09/2022 Abidjan 01:30 PM 07:00 PM
12/10/2022 Takoradi 08:00 AM 06:00 PM
12/11/2022 Cruising
12/12/2022 Cruising
12/13/2022 Cruising
12/14/2022 Luanda 08:00 AM 04:30 PM
12/15/2022 Cruising
12/16/2022 Cruising
12/17/2022 Walvis Bay 06:30 AM 10:00 PM
12/18/2022 Cruising
12/19/2022 Cruising
12/20/2022 Cape Town 06:00 AM

Here is the price summary of this first cruise.

Price Summary
Traveler 1 Traveler 2 Total
Cruise Package $7,439.00 $7,439.00 $14,878.00
Taxes and Fees $351.04 $351.04 $702.08
Total Package Price $7,790.04 $7,790.04 $15,580.08

This second cruise is more expensive, based on its 21-nights as opposed to the first cruise’s ten nights.

Also, for each of these two cruises, by booking through Costco, using our US $60/year (ZAR 878) membership card we’d purchased while in the US only a few months ago, we are receiving the following Costco gift cards: the first one for  US $545 (ZAR 7743) and the second for US $1210 (ZAR 17192).
So far, after booking five cruises through Costco, we’ve accumulated US $4390 (ZAR 62047). We still get all the perks offered by the cruise line as if we’d booked directly through them or another agency. The gift cards are added perks only offered by Costco. As mentioned in an earlier post, gift cards cannot be used for future cruises, rental cars, and airfare, although some package tours may be possible. We have no doubt we won’t have trouble finding products for which we’ll use the gift cards. Also, customers won’t receive the gift cards until a few weeks after each cruise has sailed for apparent reasons.
These two cruises each offer US $1000 (ZAR 14137) cabin credit to be used at our discretion during the cruises. Premium drinks are included, along with taxes and gratuities. Most likely, we’ll use a portion of the cabin credits for unlimited  WiFi for two devices.
Of course, all of the above is subject to the status of the pandemic at the time of sailing. One never can plan anything for sure during times of Covid-19.
There they are, folks, our two new bookings. At this point, we have eight cruises booked, but we are questioning if the first three cruises around Japan, upcoming in February 2022, will be canceled due to Covid-19. As always, only time will tell.
Dare to go for the adventure! We’ve all sat around too much!
Photo from one year ago today, September 9, 2020:
This photo was posted one year ago while in hotel lockdown for ten months in Mumbai, India, on day #170. This batch of vegetables was KES (Kenya Shillings) $150, US $1.72. The more we travel, the more we are amazed by, the lower cost of food in other countries compared to the US. For more photos, 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 reasonable 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 than those we spent in Cape Town. 

We’ve never visited Cape Town and decided this cruise would be an excellent 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 than larger cruises, often with thousands 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 confident 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, 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 came 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 a 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 them from the pool but soon flew away.

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. Last night, considering the time difference, we requested the change with our rep at Vacations-to-Go. We should be receiving a new confirmation for the 2021 booking ending in Cape Town by this evening. We’ll deal with that later.

So, here is a possible scenario for now. We leave India as soon as both borders open 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 offers in posts to come.

Hang in there, everyone! Hopefully, soon, these challenging times will pass.

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

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

Final expenses, Baltic cruise…Final sailing day…Stockholm, Sweden photos…

Please see our final cruise expenses at the end of today’s text. With the poor WiFi connection, I couldn’t move the expenses box to the text or load captions due to the poor signal. Please excuse the inconvenience.

The cruise is winding down. Tomorrow morning we disembark in Amsterdam to take a taxi to the airport and fly to Exeter, England, where we’ll pick up a car and drive for approximately two hours until we arrive at our next holiday rental in Falmouth England.

It’s wonderful knowing this cruise is ending only to result in our starting our next adventure for two months in England, staying in what appears to be four unique and exciting country cottages.


Once we began our travels, I envisioned living in a stone cottage in the English countryside, and now this dream will be fulfilled. For us, it’s always the “simple life” that brings the greatest pleasure and purpose to our world travels.


Today is our last full day at sea, and the ship is a flurry of activity with passengers booking new cruises, meeting up with others they’ve met along the way, and reminiscing about the experiences of the past almost 12 days and nights.

Last night, once again, we had dinner with our favorite little group, including American partners Fred and Larry and British mother Deborah, and adult son James. The conversation and laughter are neverending with this six-person group, and thus we booked a unique table with our favorite waiter for tonight’s final dinner at 7:45.

Last night we stayed up late watching passengers dancing to various “oldies” in the Centrum. It was the first time in my life. I couldn’t participate in the lively dancing. Tom and I love dancing together, especially to “oldies” of the correct beat (to us anyway)


Trying not to feel sorry for myself, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d ever been able to dance again. Right now, it doesn’t feel as if I could. Currently, right now, my legs feel as if they’re made of jello, and it takes everything I have to keep from falling flat on my face. But, hopeful that I am, I’m now dreaming of the day I’ll have my strength back and be on steady legs.

I believe this is a result of the medications and the weaning process, tentative walking being listed as a significant side effect while on the drugs and attempting to wean off of them, possibly lasting for many months.  

It would be a lot easier if I knew that an end to the discomfort was in sight. But, like life itself, nothing is certain. We attempt to live in the moment and how important it is to treasure each day as it occurs. It’s challenging not to project into the future.

This morning I reduced the dose of the Bisoprolol in one more increment. I’m now down about 70%. I’ll wait another four or five days until I attempt to reduce it again.

The most common side effects of the withdrawal of this beta blocker are increased heart rate and blood pressure, breathing issues, at times to dangerous levels, and coughing and painful walking. I am monitoring these closely.  Once the body adjusts, the rates return to more “normal” levels for most people, and the pain eventually dissipates.

Before weaning off this drug, my pulse was in the 40s and 50s, causing me to feel exhausted and short-winded. Now, as I’ve reduced the dose, it’s running between the 60s and 90s. My blood pressure is low. We’ll see how it goes.

Oh, I am sorry to go on and on about my health. Let’s face it. It has had a significant impact on our travels. If we were living in a condo somewhere in a warm climate, I could easily have fallen into the trap of being the “perpetual patient,” going back and forth to doctors to answer every question that comes to mind.

Now, I lean on reputable scientific research to guide me through this process.  I’ve read in many cases how many cardiologists have suggested their patients stop these drugs “cold turkey” while others warn patients to be hospitalized during the weaning process. Go figure.

Medical information is misleading, and doctors can have varying “opinions” on treating their patients, especially cardiologists. I’ve chosen to go to the “middle ground” and try to work this out independently.  

Of course, if anything untoward were to occur, we’d immediately seek medical attention. Also, if my pulse or blood pressure rise too much, I always have the option to increase the dose short-term to get me through a bad spell and then try again a few days later. Right now, I’m holding my own.

As the day quickly sails by (no pun intended), we find it hard to believe this cruise is over. We’ve already packed our bags, leaving out clothes to wear tonight and tomorrow. Since our bags will be whisked away at 10:00 pm tonight, most likely, we’ll wear the same outfits tomorrow that we’ve worn tonight.

Today’s photos are those we took while in Stockholm, Sweden riding on the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus that we decided to try one more time. With no rain this time, the photos were better.  

We were able to ride on the top deck without windows providing us with a clear view. It’s not easy taking photos from a fast-moving bus, but we did our best and are delighted to share these with you today.

Most likely, we won’t be able to prepare a full post tomorrow, but we’ll let you know we’ve arrived at our new holiday rental in the late afternoon. We’ll be busy unpacking and washing clothes.  Hopefully, we’ll have a few new photos to share!

Be well. Be healthy. Be happy.

Final expenses for the cruise:

Expense US Dollar Euro
Cruise Fare  $          4,313.84                      3,894.36
Airfare –   $             385.00                    347.56
Hotel & Meals Amsterdam- $              440.00                    397.21      
Taxi   $             102.00                      92.08
Cabin Credit  $              (150.00)                  (135.41)
Wi-Fi on ship  $                227.40                     205.29
Gratuities  $                520.00                     469.44  
Miscellaneous  $                   82.00                       74.03
Tours  $                 930.00                     839.57   
Total  $             6850.24                   6184.12
Avg Daily Cost – 12 nights  $              570.85                     515.24
 
Photo from one year ago today, August 22, 2018:
While on safari in Chobe National Park in Botswana, we were excited to get a view of the leopard’s face after waiting for a considerable period while Samson, our guide, kept moving the vehicle for better shots. Upon careful inspection of this photo, you can see the pads of the feet of her kill in the tree near her head.  For more photos, please click here.

Our wonderful helpers in the park…A stroke of good luck saving us lots of moolah!…

A tattered ear on an old elephant.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Three little pigs…

Update:  There’s a good possibility the “lioness on the loose” has returned to Kruger National Park via the same means (or other means) by which she entered a week or two ago.  She hasn’t been sighted in the past few days.

A few wildebeests with a zebra in the background.

Currently, in South Africa, kids are off school until July 17th for the “school holiday.” The reason we knew this particular date is that Marta, our housekeeper, who lives in a tiny house on the property has a few of her kids staying here with her until the holiday ends when they’ll return to school to stay with other family members in a nearby town. 

A large bull at the side of the road.

This scenario is typical for the local workers in Marloth Park.  Many of them come here to work and walk to catch buses that pick them up to return them to various towns surrounding the area.  Many others stay in Marloth during the week living in small houses such as Marta’s here on the grounds and return to their families on their days off.

Elephants crossing the road.

It’s not an easy life and we appreciate them all including Marta and Josiah who cleans the pool, the grounds and the veranda on most weekdays.  Then, there’s Vusi and Zef who attend to replenishing our bottled water and bottled gas.  Many areas of the house use bottled gas such as the water heater, oven, range, and gas braai. 

Wildebeests, zebras and an impala sharing their food sources in Kruger.

Typically, they all cover for one another if one is ill or unable to work.  Of course, Louise and Danie oversee the efficient running in all of these areas, ensuring the work is getting done proficiently and in a timely manner.

Giraffe preparing to cross the road.

As for our “stroke of good luck,” well, Tom couldn’t have done a better job at saving us over ZAR 14,893 (US $1100) on an upcoming cruise we’d already booked.  The cruise sails on October 24, 2019, beginning in Southampton, England and ending in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 8, 2019, at which time we’ll fly to Nevada (and later drive to Arizona) to see family for a few weeks.

As we zoomed in on the above giraffe, we noticed this round patch which must be a result of some type of injury.

As we’ve mentioned on many past occasions, by watching cruise fares almost daily, when there’s a price drop, all we must do is notify Vacations-to-Go, a company we use exclusively for booking cruises.

They’ll verify the price drop with the cruise line and issue us a new “cruise confirmation” document showing the new pricing. Tom had been able to get a ZAR 4062 (US $300) price reduction on this same cruise about a month ago. 

Cape buffalo grazing along the edge of a waterhole.

Yesterday, he contacted Vacations-to-Go again when he noticed another price reduction at Celebrity’s website for another ZAR 10,831 (US $800).  With these combined price reductions we saved ZAR 14,893 (US $1100).  This is more than a 25% reduction from the original cost of the cruise.

It’s this type of diligence we maintain, individually and collectively to ensure we’re always getting the best possible pricing for everything we do.  In doing so, it allows us to spend a little more on quality properties wherever we may travel in the world.

We’d hoped to go to Kruger today but have heard there’s a long wait to enter.  They only allow so many visitors inside the park at one time.  We’ve heard it is a maximum of 600 visitors per day at each of the nine entrance gates to the vast national park.  We’ll wait until the holiday season winds down.

Have an excellent day and evening!

___________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2017:

Vincent caught his first fish of the day, tiny but gratifying.  The hooks are carefully removed to avoid injuring the fish and the fish are tossed back into the lake.  The kids have no interest in eating the fish they catch nor do any of the adults care to fillet small sunfish or crappies (pronounced, croppies).  For more photos, please click here.

Antarctica – February 8, 2018…Final expenses are here!!!…We’re back in Buenos Aires for two nights…

Killer Whales…we’ve yet to share the many photos and videos of whales and will do so over the next few days.

This morning’s short post: Due to a poor Wi-Fi signal at the airport, we’ll have to wait until we arrive in Buenos Aires later today to complete our post. Please check back later in the day for the final expenses. Thanks for your patience.

These Black Browed Albatross build these unbelievable nests for their chicks.

Now, since we’re back in Buenos Aires, a little pooped after so many action-packed days, I honestly don’t have much ummph to write much. I didn’t sleep more than three hours last night and have yet to have a bite to eat today.  

In a little while, we’ll make the walk to La Cabrera for our final dinner at the fabulous restaurant. Our mouths are watering over the prospect of the options available, and we look forward to a lavish sit-down meal. 

Gentoo Penguins in the thousands.

We mostly dined in the buffet with our group of friends during the cruise since we all found the variety much more appealing than the lesser menu options in the formal dining room.

Magellanic Penguins are on a mission to get to the beach.

It’s 5:30 pm.  We arrived back at the Prodeo Hotel about an hour ago, did a little unpacking, getting necessary toiletries out for less than two days until we depart for Africa.

Rock Hopper Penguin parent and their chick (they only have one), but a friend chick stopped by for a visit.

We decided to wait to have our laundry done in South Africa since there isn’t enough time to get it laundered and packed here. We planned to be packed by early afternoon tomorrow, leaving out comfy clothing for the overnight flight.

This Rock Hopper Penguin is one of my favorite photos.

I apologize for the repeat photos we shared only a few days ago. When I perused through all the photos, some of these came up as favorites. It can’t be helped. Plus, I’m reasonably bleary-eyed and couldn’t muster any creativity or enthusiasm right now to go through the several thousand photos we shot during that 17 days. Bear with us. They’ll be coming.

Us and our flag on  “real life'” ice bar in Antarctica.

We’ll begin to share our exciting whale photos tomorrow, although we did include one here today. Plus, we’ll be uploading a few unique videos we’ll finally be able to post on YouTube, which allows us to share them here.

Seeing that which Mother Nature provides is life-changing.

The flight today was good and pleasantly uneventful. It was fun to see all the beautiful friends we’d made during the cruise on the plane. Roundtrip airfare to Buenos Aires was included in the cruise fare.

They were toasting with French champagne on a sofa on an ice floe.

Speaking of the cruise fare, here you go…our final expenses for the cruise and incidentals. It was a hefty chunk for us, but we have no regrets. It certainly was worth all the sacrifices we made these past two years to make this possible.

Expense US Dollar Euro
Cruise Fare  $             34,500.00  $                27,945.00
 Airfare – inc in the cruise fare  $                                –
Hotel Buenos Aires – 2 ngts $                    140.00 $                       113.40
Taxi – paid by hotel  $                  $              
Cabin Credit  $                 (101.23)  $                      (81.00)
Wi-Fi on ship  $                   444.45  $                       360.00
Gratuities  $                   250.00  $                       202.50
Miscellaneous  $                    29.63  $                         24.00
Doctor visit on ship  $                  213.73  $                       173.12
Total  $             35,476.58  $                 28,899.02
Avg Daily Cost – 17 days  $               1,970.92  $                   1,605.50
The “ice bar,” the real deal on an ice floe in Antarctica.

No doubt, this was a lot of money to spend for this relatively short period. However, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one we doubt we’ll ever regret or repeat.

Happy as we could be to share this blissful experience.

We need to get busy handling our complicated packing after storing half of our belongings here in boxes at the hotel. Tomorrow will be a busy day, but we plan to start it with a cup of coffee for Tom and tea for me, sitting in the hotel lobby, sharing more of this incredible experience with all of you.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, February 8, 2017:

This adorable coffee shop in Southport, Tasmania, made us laugh. It appears to be a diving bell. For more photos from our road trip, please click here.

Antarctica…February 7, 2018…Rough seas update…A most unusual experience on an ice floe in the Polar Circle…Spectacular…

Both of us are raising a glass in celebration of this special occasion.

The Drake Passage continued to be rough, requiring we hold onto walls and railings when we walk throughout the ship with a degree of added difficulty while maneuvering in the cabin, especially in the bathroom and shower. Last night, the buffet where the 12 of us has dined together on most occasions was closed, and we had no choice but to eat in the main dining room.

I couldn’t resist lying down for this pose. How fun it was! We loved the sofa and a champagne bar on an ice floe in the Polar Circle.

Today, it’s settled down, and all dining areas will be open. However, this morning the ship continued to bob, occasionally jerk, and lurch from side to side. We haven’t heard anything from the bridge about the size of the swells or the speed of the winds, both of which we anticipate have been reasonably high.

Tom with icebergs in the background sitting on the sofa on the ice floe.

We’ve weathered it well with nary a moment of seasickness for which we’re incredibly grateful. Many passengers had no choice but to wear the seasickness patches or take medication to avert the uncomfortable sensations attributed to getting sick at sea.  But surprisingly, many passengers had no ill effects like us.

The wine steward, Laurent, served us French champagne.

Later today, we’ll arrive in Ushuaia, where the ship will spend the night. This afternoon, we’ll pack, leaving out enough clothing to get us through the next 24 hours. We’re baffled as to why the ship designated tonight as a “dress up” night when everyone needs to have their baggage ready for pickup around 10:00 or 11:00 pm. As a result, we’ll be casual tonight as usual.

It was fun to hold up our US flag on the ice floe.

Now, as the cruise winds down, I’m feeling a little sad to see it end. Without a doubt, this ranks in my top three experiences since we began traveling the world in October 2012. It’s an expensive once-in-a-lifetime adventure leaving us with photos, stories, and videos we’ll always regard as treasured memories.

The bar was set up on the ice floe earlier in the day, so everything was set and ready to go by the time we arrived.

We’re thrilled to be heading to Africa next since many other locations could be anticlimactic after this incredible experience. Africa won’t disappoint, and I expect we’ll handle the transition with ease, even with the vast difference in weather conditions. It will be hot for a while longer in South Africa during their hot and humid summer months. 

Tom was holding the “I crossed the Polar Circle” sign while sitting on the sofa.

Fortunately, we’ll have air conditioning in the bedroom, and we’ll spend most of our days outdoors on the veranda. As excited as we’ve been during this outstanding cruise, a slight tinge of excitement impacted me, knowing on February 11th, we’ll arrive in Mpumalanga, Nelspruit/Kruger, albeit very tired after the long flight with layovers, to commence the 90-minute drive to Marloth Park.

Both of us are holding the “I crossed the Polar Circle” sign.

We still have many Antarctic photos and videos we’ve yet to share. We will attempt to wrap them up while in Buenos Aires during our final two days in Palermo Soho while we reorganize our packing, get laundry done (we only hand-washed underwear on the cruise) and get ready upcoming long flight.

The sun was setting on the icy waters.

Tonight, we booked a table for 10 in the buffet for our final meal with our group of new friends.  We all prefer to dine in the buffet where the options are many and the food more appealing for all of us than in the main dining room with limited menu options. 

There is exquisite scenery at every turn.

Overall, Tom hasn’t been thrilled with the food (picky eater), but I found it suitable for my diet and don’t complain. As for food photos, I’ve yet to show many when food was the last thing on my mind during this adventure.

The sun was reflecting on the sea during daylight hours.

Today, we’re excited to share the photos of one of the most enjoyable events during the cruise, drinking French champagne, once again after a Zodiac boat ride, but this time, in the Arctic Circle on an ice floe, not while in the Zodiac as we shared a few days ago. This theatrical event left all of us reeling with sheer delight over the irony of the situation.

It was fascinating to see how the ship and Zodiac boats maneuvered through the ice-filled waters.

Who stands on an ice floe, sipping champagne? What an exquisite touch added to this magnificent cruise! We’re all still talking about it, along with all the other exceptional experiences we’ve had during this past almost 17 days and 16 nights.

Icebergs often develop into artistic designs.

Since we’ll be getting off the ship before 8 am tomorrow, this afternoon, we hope to have time to prepare tomorrow’s post with the “final expenses” to upload around our usual earlier time of the day automatically. We’ll be adding “favorite photos” in the two or three posts we’ll prepare in Buenos Aires.

A single Crabcatcher Seal on an ice floe.

If, for some reason, we can’t get tomorrow’s post done today, we’ll finish it once we arrive in Palermo later in the day. In other words, there will be a post tomorrow, but at this point, the exact time is up for grabs.

It has been exciting to see wildlife sunning on ice floes.
My knee has greatly improved after the ship’s doctor provided excellent medical care, and we’re both feeling well and ready to tackle this next leg of our journey.
Another Crabcathcer Seal was lounging on an ice floe.

Stay well. Stay happy and please, stay tuned for more. 

Photo from one year ago today, February 7, 2017:
A white sand beach in Dover, Tasmania. For more photos, please click here.