Serendipity…Last night’s fun trail cam photos…

This is Little Imposter. He pretends to be Little by mimicking Little’s behavior, but the differences in their appearance make it easy for us to determine who is who.

Today, we’re sharing photos from last night’s trail cam that made us smile. These fantastic animals never cease to amaze us.

Also, on another note, this morning, I received an email from a lovely couple we met at Hotel Grums in Barcelona on May 5, 2013, where we stayed while waiting to board another cruise. See that post here.

He settles in, just like Little does.

That afternoon, we met Adele and Wally, only to discover they were sailing on the same cruise we were boarding the following day to the Middle East, from Barcelona to Dubai for 15 nights, which proved to be one of my favorite cruises.

We got together several times with Adele and Wally during the cruise, as mentioned in this post on May 7, 2013. At that point, we had already sailed on five previous cruises, and we had begun to feel a little like experienced cruisers, appreciating the opportunity to make new friends with other passengers, as we have, over the past several years.

Hal and Mom, and Piglets arrive very early in the morning, long before we are up.

This morning, I read this message from Adele and Wally, whom we’ve stayed in touch with over the years.

“Absolutely unbelievable! We are getting on the Queen Mary 2 in Brooklyn on April 17 for a two-week cruise…one week over in one week back. Will we be on the ship together? I’m a little confused with your April 24 date because that’s the sailing from Southampton to New York.
Of course, we would love to see you!”
Hal was sniffing a tree.
Promptly, I wrote back telling them we will be sailing from Southampton to New York on April 24, the same cruise they will be on, stating how thrilled we’d be to see them again after all of these years. What a delight that will be! There’s no doubt we’ll have plenty of stories to share.
On the Queen Mary 2, cruise dinner seating is different from what we’ve enjoyed about cruising in the past. When we’d sit at a shared table with other guests, we may not have already met. On Cunard’s sailing, each couple (passenger) is assigned a table for dinner, which is the same each night. If passengers don’t connect with their tablemates, it could be frustrating.
Bossy often visits during the night.
Fortunately, this particular sailing is only for seven nights but, most likely, we’ll be OK with whoever may be at our table and they with us. It’s always enjoyable to meet new people and hear about their travel adventures since most cruise passengers are frequent travelers.
Today, we are busy booking flights and hotels for our upcoming travels, including the hotel in Southampton; the flight from New York to Minneapolis, the hotel and car in Minneapolis; the hotel and car in Las Vegas. At this point, until we hear more about the Black Sea cruise itinerary change due to the war in Ukraine, where we’ll go from Las Vegas is up in the air. In any case, we will be leaving the US sometime in June.
Our porcupine often stops by.

By the way, it was two years today that everything in India started to unravel due to Covid-19. See the post here.

Have a pleasant Sunday wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, March 13, 2021:

Bossy always stares at me for more pellets. She has us both well trained. This was her before her pregnancy was showing. A year later, she has an adorable little kudu calf she brings along on occasion. She still comes each day looking for pellets and attention. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…We’re back to booking future travels!!!…Building a new itinerary…

In yesterday’s post, we wrote about building a new itinerary, as shown at this link. After a long travel hiatus due to Covid-19, we are excited for the future as more and more cruises and countries open up. Also, we have now been vaccinated with the two-week window of increasing protection from the virus; our spirits and enthusiasm are growing exponentially.

It’s been a long time since we were busy logging information into our  Excel spreadsheet with all the information relevant to each cruise. Yesterday, it was fun for us to work together compiling pertinent data on these two cruises to plug into the fields on the “cruise sheet” in our travel data workbook.

We have three cruises in and around Japan, beginning on February 27, 2022, the first leg departing from Singapore, before these newly booked Azamara cruises. The Japan cruises are all on Celebrity Solstice, one of our favorite cruise ships we’ve sailed many times. It would be fun to experience that ship once again. However, we’re anticipating those cruises will be canceled.

Why are we surmising the Japan cruises will be canceled? With the Olympics starting on July 23, ending on August 8, 2021, it will be interesting to see if there’s been a spike in Covid-19, although spectators aren’t allowed. If there is a massive increase in cases in Japan, we expect these cruises will be canceled. Once again, we’ll be watching the stats on cases from Worldometer at this link.

Japan is currently in the #34 position worldwide, with the USA in the #1 for most cases and deaths. South Africa has moved up the list from the #20 position a few months ago to the #17 position. To see the stats for the numbers of vaccinations given worldwide, check this link.

Staying informed about the Covid-19 stats is very important to us now. It allows us to see where, most likely, we’ll be able to travel in the future. Then again, we’re heading back to South Africa with abysmal stats, with only 2.5% of the population vaccinated thus far.

Fortunately, Marloth Park is less populated and currently has a program in place to vaccinate residents. The question here is: How many residents will agree to get vaccinated when many have negative opinions of the safety and efficacy of the vaccine? That remains to be seen in months to come.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, here is the pricing information for June and July’s two new cruise bookings.  Also, see that post here for the many perks we got from booking with Costco:

CRUISE PRICING

Istanbul to Istanbul on June 29, 2022

Price Summary for 2 Travelers

Cruise Package $6,749.00 $2,699.00: Total $9,448.00

Taxes and Fees $345.06 $345.06 Total $690.12

Total Package Price $7,094.06 $3,044.06 Total $10,138.12

Payment Details

Total Package Price $10,138.12

Payment(s) Applied ($1,100.00)

Balance $9,038.12

Final Payment Due Date 02/15/2022

The second leg of our back-to-back cruise from July 10 to July 20, 2022 itinerary is as follows:  (See yesterday’s post for the itinerary for the June 29, 2022 cruise from Istanbul to Istanbul):

Date Port of Call Arrival Departure
07/10/2022 Istanbul 06:00 PM
07/11/2022 Cruising
07/12/2022 Kavala 06:30 AM 08:00 PM
07/13/2022 Thessaloniki 08:00 AM 08:00 PM
07/14/2022 Volos 07:30 AM 06:00 PM
07/15/2022 Mykonos 08:00 AM 06:00 PM
07/16/2022 Rhodes 08:00 AM 10:00 PM
07/17/2022 Thira/Santorini 08:00 AM 10:00 PM
07/18/2022 Heraklion 08:00 AM 08:00 PM
07/19/2022 Nafplion 09:00 AM 06:00 PM
07/20/2022 Athens/Piraeus 05:00 AM

Istanbul to Athens on July 10, 2022

Price Summary for 2 Travelers

Cruise Package  $5,199.00  $2,079.00  $7,278.00

Taxes and Fees  $201.57  $201.57 $403.14

Total Package Price  $5,400.57  $2,280.57  $2,280.57

Payment(s) Applied ($1,100.00)

Balance $6,581.14

Final Payment Due 02/26/2022

Yesterday morning we visited dear friend Sue and had a fantastic time!.  Later Tom went to his sister Mary’s home for their usual Thursday evening barbecue while I went with Greg and the three grandchildren to dinner at Champs, followed by a movie, “Black Widow.” We all had a lot of fun. When Greg dropped me back at the hotel, Tom returned to the hotel and came outside to say goodbye.

The time in Minnesota has come to an end. Without a doubt, this was one of the best visits we’ve had to the US over the past almost nine years. Everything fell into place, and we had continuing opportunities to spend with family members. Now, as I wrap up this post to upload in a few minutes, we’re heading out the door to drive to Milwaukee to see Sister Beth.

On Sunday night, we’ll return to Minneapolis to take our flight to Las Vegas, Nevada. We decided to return here to save on the cost of the car rental fee by returning it to the same location and better flights and times for Las Vegas.

The next time we write will be tomorrow morning from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Be content.

Photo from one year ago today, July 16, 2020:

Please note: all of our year-ago photos are reposts we utilized while in lockdown in India for ten months. At this point of this post, we’d been in lockdown for 115 days—a view of the cemetery in Boveglio, Italy, in 2013, from the iron railing. For more photos, please click here.

An evening to remember…Our seventh world travel anniversary…Dinner and dancing…

View of the Intrepid Museum from the ship.

We’re thrilled to be able to upload photos finally. As it turns out, we’re still at the Port of New York when high winds prevented us from sailing away last night as planned.

As a result of the high winds, while we’ve been stuck at the port overnight, one of the pier gangway ramps severely jammed inside the ship and is being repaired/removed. We definitely won’t be able to sail away for several more hours.

Clouds over the skyline.

We aren’t sure how this will impact the few remaining ports of call on this cruise’s itinerary. The captain will let us know once we’re on our way again sometime this afternoon.

As long as we arrive in Fort Lauderdale in time for our flight to Minnesota on November 8th, we don’t worry about the world. We’re continuing to spend time engaging in lively conversations with other cruise passengers and, of course, with one another.

The New York skyline on a cloudy day.

Last night, the celebration of our seventh world travel anniversary was very special. First, we had happy hour in the Sky Lounge on deck 14 with the same group of about ten people with whom we’ve mingled each evening.  

At about 7:00 pm, we wandered down to the Emsemble Bar, chatting with another lovely couple. At 8:00 pm, we made our way to Murano, the specialty restaurant where we had a fantastic meal with impeccable service. We have several photos yet to share from the meal, including finally, one of each of us.

An old Concord supersonic plane is on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, as seen from our ships in port.

After dinner, we returned to the Sky Lounge for the 10:00 pm “silent disco.” I can’t dance as long or as enthusiastically as I had in days past, but I do not doubt that my stamina will improve in time.  

We had a fabulous evening reminiscing over the past seven years, particularly regarding cruises since our first in January 2013 when we experienced our first foray through the Panama Canal. At this point, we’ve been through the canal twice, but who knows what the future holds?

Other aircraft on display at the Intrepid Museum include a Blackbird spy plane.

This cruise is our third transatlantic, and the crossing has been seamless with only a few short spurts of rough seas during the first six days at sea. 

The itinerary from here in New York to Boston, to Bermuda to Fort Lauderdale, should be relatively easy, providing we don’t encounter any unexpected storms along the way.

A peek of the Empire State Building.

Tomorrow, we’ll report what has transpired with the ship’s repairs and our ability to continue on the planned itinerary and hopefully upload more photos.

Thanks to Louise and Pamela for filling us in on this architecturally unique building in New York: VIA 57 West (marketed as VIΛ 57WEST) is the name of a residential building designed by the Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). The pyramid-shaped tower block or “tetrahedron” rises 467 ft (142 m) and is 35 stories tall and is located on West 57th Street in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan, New York City. According to The New York Times, the name was chosen “because the southbound West Side Highway slopes down as drivers enter the city, right at the spot where the building is situated,” serving as an entrance to Manhattan “via 57th”.

Enjoy your Friday and weekend to come! 

Photo from one year ago today, November 1, 2018:
Lilies growing in the Crocodile River as seen in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Our 7 year travel anniversary is today!…It seems s long ago…

Due to WiFi issues while in port today, we are unable to upload any photos.  We will be back out to sea tomorrow and should have a better signal at that time. Thanks for your patience.

Seven years. It went quickly, more quickly than we ever imagined. When we started in 2012, we had no idea we’d still be traveling all these years later. After selling everything we owned, which was a huge commitment to stay on this path for the long haul, this in itself presented a huge degree of dedication.

It would have been ridiculous only to stay gone a year or two and then try to rebuild an entirely new life living in a condo somewhere in or outside of the US. The thought of having to buy furniture and household goods made us cringe then and still does today. 

Is it inevitable that we’ll eventually have to stop traveling? Sure. At some point, we’ll no longer have the health or stamina to continue. At this point, we prefer not to have to think about that.

We realize now that in the worst of circumstances, short of one of us eventually losing our “leasehold” on life, we won’t be able to haul one more heavy piece of luggage, sail on one more cruise ship, or fly on one more plane in a cramped seat. Those days will come.

But, now, after our big scare in February, we’re all the more determined than ever to continue. There is so much more we’ve yet to explore. In reality, we haven’t even put a dent in it with so much more ahead of us.

Today, we revel in this particular day, our seventh anniversary of total freedom to live life on our terms, where, when, and how we’d like based on the hopefulness of maintaining good health, a sense of well-being, and ongoing financial security.

Each of these conditions requires a degree of mindfulness and effort, but we do so with the utmost enthusiasm and zest for life. We each easily possess these qualities as we make our way through every day.

And today, we’ll celebrate this seventh anniversary in style…spending a leisurely day on the ship, preferring not to get off the ship in New York when it’s pouring rain, cold and cloudy.

Had we made plans, they may have been dashed due to the unexpected hours-long US immigration process. With happy-hour and tonight’s specialty dining reservation to celebrate our anniversary, we’d have had little time in the traffic-congested city to do much of anything.

Easily we avoid disembarking when we know full well that eventually, we’ll travel the US when most certainly New York will be included in that itinerary. Also, I’ve visited New York many times over the years and am not chomping at the bit to get out on this cloudy, rainy day, nor am I enthusiastic about tackling a tremendous amount of walking at this point.

Tomorrow, we’ll share photos from tonight’s activities and a memorable dinner. 

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2018:

An orange-breasted roller. For more photos, please click here.

Less than 24 hours until we’re on US soil as we celebrate life after 7 years of world travel….

Bartenders were performing tricks at the Ice Bar.

It’s hard for us to fathom the idea that tomorrow on Halloween, October 31st, we’ll be stepping foot on US soil for the first time in 2 years, three months, which coincidentally, will be the seventh anniversary of the day we left Minnesota to begin our world travels.

For us, it’s a momentous day for many reasons, including the harsh reality of the struggles we experienced in the past year with the necessity of my having the triple coronary bypass surgery in February and the subsequent slow recovery.

Many often ask us, “What will you do if something bad happens?”  

Passengers were learning dance steps in the Centrum.

We have no home, no place to land, no belongings to settle into should such a situation arise. At the times of such questions, we’ve always replied, “We’ll figure it out.”

And…we did. We figured it out and, here we are 8½ months later, with me feeling well, albeit a little terrified at times when thinking about what transpired after being in the operating room four times in six weeks.

But, we must continue to face another harsh reality…that there’s no guaranty that I will be OK in the long run. Then again, no one has such a guaranty. Life doesn’t come with warranties and return policies.  

We “get what we get,” and none of us are exempt from those unpredictable situations whereby our lives are turned upside down by a single event. For now, we survived, and for this, we are more grateful than words can express here in a post written with the utmost candor and vulnerability.

Dancers are training passengers to perform dance steps.

We often surprise ourselves by how well we survived this trauma, how well we, as a couple, came out on the other side. Here we are on a cruise ship on its way back to the USA to see family and friends and to be reminded so close to this anniversary of how peaceful life can be.

Playfully, we’re enjoying every moment of this cruise, often finding ourselves laughing, dancing, and reminiscing over how much we’ve gained, how much we’ve learned, and how we’ve survived these fascinating, exciting and dangerous past seven years.

The future? Who knows? None of us knows. None of us can state emphatically that we’ll continue on any path we’ve chosen for the past years, months, or even days. Life will always be uncertain.

Tomorrow, our ship arrives in New York City. At this point, we may or may not get off the boat. Halloween festivities will create more traffic, more tourists, more hustle and bustle that, at this point, neither of us are much interesting in exploring.

The participants are having a great time learning dance steps.

The calm and peacefulness we’re experiencing during this highly pleasurable cruise could turn on its head if we threw ourselves into that tumultuous environment right now.  

Plus, I’ve only been able to walk well for the past six weeks. I don’t know if I’m ready to tackle as long a walk as required if we get off the ship. Our other option is a taxi to be potentially stuck in Manhattan traffic, a situation unappealing to either of us at this point.

We’ll see how it goes and what we feel like tomorrow. We have no one to please but ourselves, and as we’ve discovered during the past seven years, we aren’t “required” to do anything that doesn’t appeal to us at any given time.

Please check back tomorrow for our anniversary celebrations as we share highlights of this exquisite journey that we hope we’ll be blessed to carry on.

Have a safe and festive Halloween!

Photo from one year ago today, October 30, 2018:
Our friend Lois was feeding a large number of kudus who stopped by. She puts the pellets on the veranda’s edge to keep the helmeted guineafowl from taking them all. For more photos, please click here.

Too much fun…Little time to post…Not much in the way of photos today…

Pumpkins and Halloween decor decorate the grand staircase.

It’s close to 4:00 pm, and I’ve yet to get to upload today’s post. Nor do we have any worthwhile photos. The only excuse I have is the fact that we are simply having too much fun. Plus, the fact my laptop battery only lasts for about one hour, and there are no outlets nearby any of the areas where we visit with people, posting is tricky right now.

We spent the entire morning and up until this afternoon with Carolyn and Fred in the Cafe al Bacio, sharing various travel stories and experiences, and we had a fantastic time.

We had the laptops in our possession but never got around to getting started on today’s post. Now, we’re back in our cabin with little time until we need to dress for dinner to head up to the Sky Lounge for happy hour at 5:00 pm.

If we don’t get up there on deck 14 early enough, we’ll never find a place to sit. The place is packed with enthusiastic passengers like ourselves, excited to share travel stories with new people they meet.

Tonight is the big Halloween party aboard the ship as we sail toward New York, arriving on our anniversary in two days. It will have been six days at sea to arrive in New York on the 31st with little opportunity to take many good photos.  

It’s a far cry from our previous three Atlantic crossings when we’ve experienced rough seas. Fortunately, neither of us suffers from seasickness regardless of the condition of the waters. But with all this fun, we may suffer from tiredness from the late nights and social activities.

We’re always amazed by how many people we meet during cruises.  We’re both making a point of attempting to remember the names of all the fine people we meet while traveling, but in this case, we’ve met so many, it can be not easy.  

Once again, tonight, we’ll dine in the main dining room with my special meals appropriately prepared, although they may be bland. Without the addition of sauces, many of the meats, chicken, and fish are relatively tasteless. 

Passengers were attending a dance class in the Grand Foyer.

But, for us, cruising isn’t about the food as much as the friendliness of other passengers, the excellent service, and the general ambiance of yet another cruise. On this particular cruise, we’ll remember the good meals we’ll have had in the two specialty restaurants, as illustrated in the posts of the past few days.

We’re enjoying this cruise considerably more than we did the Baltic cruise, which embarked on August 11th and ended on August 23rd. No doubt, the added enjoyment is a result of my feeling better and walking about the ship with ease and the opportunity to meet more passengers.  

Most days, I walk close to 10,000 steps, although we end up spending plenty of time sitting and yakking. It couldn’t be more fun. We haven’t attended a single show in the theater or participated in any classes or games. Even so, we find ourselves in a constant flurry of activity with the many new people we meet.

Sorry to be rushing through these past several posts. But we’ll have plenty of time to languish over future posts when we reach Minnesota in only nine days.

Thanks for all the positive email messages wishing us well as we rush through the cruise posts.

May your day be filled with lively conversation and interactions, as well!

Photo from one year ago today, October 29, 2018:
Her “friends” or family members on the opposite side of the road noticed her dilemma between nibbles on treetops. For more photos as to how this story unfolds, 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.

Part 1…Challenges along the way…Comments on new cruise bookings…Lost a loved one…

La Panera Rosa, deli market, is similar to Panera in the US. “Bebidas con alcohol,” translates to
drinks with alcohol.”  Tom had a beer while I had a glass of red wine. 

We apologize for today’s late posting and other day’s late postings since we arrived in Buenos Aires. Today, as it turned out, I spent most of the morning trying to purchase a Visa gift card for our granddaughter Maisie’s upcoming birthday but could not do so.

The deli was packed with patrons, and the only available table for us was in a highly trafficked area by the front door. Yesterday’s temps were well into the 90’s, and it was hot where we were seated.

There is some block preventing online purchases of Visa gift cards in Argentina, perhaps a result of fraud. We’ve experienced this a few times in our travels, even while using our VPN, Hotspot Shield. It still picks up that we’re in this country.

Complimentary bread is served with a pink-colored, beet flavored “butter,” which is, in fact, fake margarine.  Tom passed on it, asking for real butter he didn’t receive instead of getting some gummy concoction.

With no other alternative, I’ve asked our daughter-in-law Camille if I can send her a Bill-Pay check which she’ll cash, placing the money into the online card we’ll send Maisie. The challenges of traveling the world can easily present these types of issues. However, there’s always a workaround.

Instead of butter, he was served this margarine which he didn’t use.  We’ve yet to see real butter since we arrived in Buenos Aires, except at La Cabrera, a high-end restaurant.

Today, we planned to mention new cruises we’ve listed in our recent upcoming 852-day itinerary in this post.  None of these particular cruises have been described in prior posts yet were all a driving force in determining our lengthy itinerary. Tomorrow, we’ll post the cost and itinerary for a few of these cruises.

Tom ordered a barbecue pork sandwich which came with three onion rings.

One of these cruises listed in the itinerary embarks from Southampton, England, on October 24, 2019, with a port of call in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 31, 2019 (the seventh anniversary of our world travel). We’d hoped we’d be able to visit beloved Uncle Bernie, my father’s brother, in the 100th year of his life.

In September 2014, we purposely selected a cruise from Harwich, England, which ended in Boston to see Uncle Bernie and my dear cousin Phyllis. Sadly, a few days ago, Uncle Bernie, 98 years old, passed away, and our hearts are broken. We won’t get to see him one more time. 

I ordered gluten, sugar, and starch-free salad.  When it arrived, it was topped with these breadsticks. I sent it back, explaining I needed an entirely new salad due to the contamination from the flour.  We saw some appealing plates being served. Had we ordered differently, we may have had an altogether different experience.

Of course, when we left after a three-day visit, we were realistic in understanding we may never see him again. My father passed away in a tragic work accident in 1960 (see the story here), and Uncle Bernie was his last remaining brother. Our dream of one more visit with him was dashed when he passed away on January 2nd.  

We’ve decided to keep the cruise booking with Boston as a port of call, hoping we’ll see cousin Phyllis for a few hours when we’re in port that day. That cruise ends in Fort Lauderdale on November 8, 2019, at which point we’ll fly to Nevada for a few weeks stay to visit my son Richard and renew our driver’s licenses; visit my sister Julie in California and also visit Tom’s sisters and their husbands in Arizona. 

Decorated shelves in the restaurant.

Our upcoming itinerary will keep us very busy over the next two years. It will be a busy few weeks until we depart for South America for more sites we’d like to see. Now, as we busily work on bookings for these upcoming dates, we’re comfortable and content to do so while here in Buenos Aires.

Tomorrow, weather providing (it’s raining today), we plan to head out sightseeing after uploading the day’s post. After so much sightseeing on the recent 30-night cruise, we’ve been content to stay in the hotel lobby during the days and head out on foot each night to peruse the lovely Palermo area and find a new spot for dinner. 

A refrigerated case was filled with yummy-looking desserts.

So far, we haven’t dined at the same restaurant twice.  We’ll begin returning to favorites in a week or sooner as the time quickly winds down until the Antarctica cruise. 

Today’s photos include a restaurant we visited last night with a few disappointing results, which may have been an entirely different experience during a less busy time and in ordering additional menu items.

A tower of pancakes for dessert for other patrons, not us.

Have a blissful day, rain or shine!

Photo from one year ago today, January 5, 2017:

Tasmanian Devils aren’t as ugly we’d expected, except when showing their teeth when threatened. The photos we took of the rescued animals, the intent of Wing’s Wildlife Park, left them little reason to feel threatened in the spacious habitat in which they comfortably live among other animals. For more details, please click here.

Day 9… Cruise to South America… Part 2… Manta, Ecuador…

“Sightings from the Veranda while Cruising”
Slurpy mouthed iguana posing for a photo at the park in Manta, Ecuador.

“Sightings from the Veranda while Cruising”

View from the veranda at the industrial port in Manta. Passengers aren’t allowed to walk through this area.
Overall the Wi-Fi on the ship has been good except for the past few minutes when neither of us could bring up a page. Hopefully, it will improve in the next few minutes to upload today’s photos and the post and be on our way to Lima, Peru.
Outdoor cafe at the outdoor market in Manta, Ecuador.

Currently, we’re docked in the industrial port of Callao. It’s a 45-minute shuttle ride to get close to Lima plus a 20-minute taxi ride from there to the big city’s congested shopping district.

 A Virgin Mary statue in the park.

Based on the fact we’ll be spending late 2019 and 2020 in South America, during which we’ll return to Peru to visit Lima, Machu Picchu, and the Galapagos Islands, we don’t feel compelled to spend most of the day waiting in line for the shuttle bus ride which appears to be a two-hour wait while standing in the hot sun, especially when it’s so difficult to take good photos from a moving vehicle.

Historical statue in the park.

We’ll continue to watch the lines outside for the shuttle bus ride and, from there, decide if we’ll go. Some passengers opted to do Machu Picchu from the ship at the cost of US $3,000 per person. We’d rather wait and do our tour later on, rather than be so rushed.

A water sculpture in the park.

The ship is staying in port overnight tonight for those doing Machu Picchu and other overnight tours. We love being able to decide what works for us at any given time, knowing, God willing, we’ll have plenty of time to explore Peru and other countries in South America in the future at our usual low-stress pace.

Another view of the fountain in the park.

Many passengers on cruise ships are in a frenzy to see everything they can in an eight to 24-hour period (or, as in this case, longer). We don’t feel we can get the “flavor” of a country in such a short period. This constitutes why we choose to live in various countries rather than breeze through for a day or two.

An iguana was chewing on some vegetation.

Instead, we’re blissfully content to plan our day aboard the ship if necessary, later engaging in the series of activities we’ve thoroughly enjoyed each evening which includes:

1.  5:00 to 7:00 pm – Captain’s Club nightly party in the Constellation Lounge
2.  7:00 to 9:00 pm –  Dinner in the Trellis Restaurant (sharing a table with others).
3.  9:00 to 10:00 pm – Show in the Celebrity Theatre (tonight’s show is a comedian)
4. 10:00 to 12:00 pm – Dancing and wild entertainment in the Martini Bar where the highly skilled bartenders are jugglers/mixologists who put on quite a show to the loud howling and laughter from those around the bar.  We’ve had a blast!

A pigeon was sitting atop a hut in Manta.

By midnight or so, we fall into bed, exhausted with smiles on our faces. By 6:00 am, we’re awake and ready to begin another delightful day. It’s not much sleep, but once the cruise ends in 22 days, we’ll have plenty of time to recover during our 30-nights in Buenos Aires.

The view of the beach from the park across the roadway.

Much to my pleasure, I’m feeling better than I’ve felt since the gastrointestinal problems began almost two years ago. It seems to be a combination of eating less food, returning to my intermittent fasting program of one medium-sized, very low-carb meal once every 24 hours. 

Sign language chart near the park.

It’s not easy skipping breakfast and lunch on a cruise when so much good food is available, much of which I can eat. Tom has a light breakfast of poached eggs and bacon (no cereal, no toast, no juice or pastries). I sit with him in the dining room at a shared table, drinking my mug of hot tea while he, too, avoids lunch and snacks.

This Christmas tree was being prepared by workers.

After all, this is our 20th cruise in five years. One can only imagine how unhealthy we’d be if we’d eaten the usual three meals a day plus desserts and snacks most passengers consume while cruising. Many often gain as much a 10 pounds (4.5 kg) during a 15-night cruise.

Unknown statue in the park.

I’m proud of Tom for deciding not to overindulge on cruises. It’s tempting to indulge but not holding back could easily result in a quick end to our world travels with the extra weight we’d gain and the resulting medical issues that go along with it. Food isn’t worth it to either of us.  

Local police on alert in the busy area.

At one point, when he was up by only 10 pounds, I noticed him huffing and puffing while handling our luggage.  Now, he does it with ease and feels so much better besides.

Tom at the park in Manta. Note the Banyan tree behind him.

For now, we’re waiting for the crowds boarding the shuttle buses to thin out, but if not, we won’t be going.  Instead, today, enjoy more of our Manta, Ecuador photos. Over the next few days, we’ll be finishing up the Manta photos with an interesting fishing story.

Me at the park in Manta with a Banyon tree in the background.

Have a blissful day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 1, 2016:

Newcastle Ferry Wharf on Day 33 of the cruise circumventing Australia as it came to an end. For more details, please here.

Day 8…Cruise to South America…Part 1…Manta, Ecuador…

 
Photo of me wearing a Panamanian hat while in Manta, Ecuador. Tom insisted I finally post a picture of me by myself as the primary photo, which I’ve never have done (not that we can recall).

“Sightings from the Veranda while Cruising”

Hazy day view of Manta, Ecuador.

Late yesterday morning, we boarded the shuttle bus from the pier for a ride into Manta, Ecuador. Once we were dropped off at the local park and shopping area, the sights, the smells, and the sounds left us reeling with excitement, and we decided we wouldn’t take a taxi tour of the city. 

La Merced Catholic Church in Manta, Ecuador.

The weather was perfect, and after a week on the ship, the outdoor air was refreshing and invigorating.  Plus, everything we wanted to see was within walking distance of us. Here’s some information about Manta below:

Hat-making in Manta at the flea market.

From this website:

“Manta is a mid-sized city in Manabí Province, Ecuador. It is the second-most populous city in the province, the fifth most populous in the country. Manta has existed since Pre-Columbian times. It was a trading post for the Mantas.

A vendor with a bicycle cart selling beverages.

According to the 2001 census, the city had 192,322 inhabitants. Its primary economic activity is tuna fishing. Other economic activities include tourism and the chemical industry with products from cleaning supplies to oils and margarine.

The Panamanian hat is a popular tourist purchase in Ecuador.

Manta possesses the largest seaport in Ecuador. The port was used by Charles Marie de La Condamine upon his arrival in Ecuador when leading the French mission to measure the location of the equator in 1735. From Manta, Condamine started his trip inland towards Quito.

Farmacias in Manta, Ecuador.

Manta has an international airport, Eloy Alfaro International Airport with passenger airline service, and a substantial military base (known as Manta Air Base or Eloy Alfaro Air Base).

View of the market in Manta.

Between 1999-2009 Manta Air Base was used by U.S. air forces to support anti-narcotics military operations and surveillance flights against Colombian drug trafficking cartels. The lease was not renewed by the Ecuadorean government.

Manta has recognized thanks to its international film festival featuring groups from different places in the world. The Ecuadorian actor, Carlos Valencia, once invited to Cannes Film Festival for his performance in Ratas Ratones y Rateros (1999), directed by Sebastián Cordero, born in the capital city of Quito.”

Colorful handmade jewelry for sale at the market.

I was practically squealing with delight as we wandered about the vibrant city so full of life and energy it was intoxicating. Although there was an endless number of vendors pushing us to purchase a variety of pointless trinkets, we politely made our way through the crowds, having a great time.

An iguana, among dozens, hanging out in the park.

We ran into passengers we’ve met from time to time who were on an equally enjoyable outing in this quaint oceanside town. It couldn’t have been a perfect day.

A variety of trinkets may appeal to tourists.

Knowing we had to be back at the ship by 2:00 pm to sail away, we stayed focused on photo-taking, which we’ll share today and again in tomorrow’s post. We had no idea we’d encounter dozens of iguanas in the central city park, easily finding ourselves entrenched in taking their photos.

Colorful scarves for sale in the market.

The iguanas seemed to pose for us. They appeared relaxed and at ease in the presence of humans in the busy park, exhibiting perfect poses and a willingness to cooperate with tourists, like us, hungry to include their photos in our repertoire of unusual animal shots.

This vendor sold the white rabbits in the cage and the two white puppies that tugged at our heartstrings.

We continued on our walk through the town, stopping from time to time to chat with other cruise passengers and admire the crafts of locals. At the craft fair/open market, I purchased a white “senorita-type” dress and shawl for tonight’s “evening chic” attire aboard the ship.

An ice cream man with a cart.

Both the dress and handmade shawl/scarf were a total of US $27 after a bit of negotiation. I haven’t owned a dress in the past four out of five years, and I was thrilled to have the festive ensemble, which most likely I’ll wear again on my special birthday, upcoming in Marloth Park on February 20th.

A man was peeling oranges to sell.

We rarely purchase anything at these tourist shopping sites, but I couldn’t resist when I saw the dress hanging in a shop.  It’s sleeveless, so I purchased the shawl to keep me warm in the evening. They keep the AC cold, and I’m generally shivering while indoors. Even outdoors, it’s been cool since we left Fort Lauderdale a week ago today.

Iguana climbing a tree in the central park in Manta.

It’s hard to believe a week has already passed since we sailed from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We’re having such a great time meeting new people while passing out hundreds of our business cards and subsequently adding new readers to our site. 

Iguana is posing for a shot.

Sharing our story with readers worldwide means the world to us. Thank you for being on this journey with us

Photo from one year ago today, November 30, 2016:

One year ago today, huge Colony Club was also packed for our second presentation aboard the ship. For more details, please click here.