Two days and counting…USA, here we come…

Hot and sweaty after dancing at the silent disco.

It’s hard to believe we haven’t been in the US for two years and three months when we visited family in 2017 in both Minnesota and Nevada. We’ve missed everyone, and it will be fantastic to see them all once again.

Initially, when booking our time in Minnesota, we’d booked a hotel in a central location between our respective families. As time marched on, my dear friend Karen offered for us to stay in her gorgeous, spacious house on a lake in Eden Prairie.

We stayed with Karen for our final few weeks in Minnesota in October 2012 and found it easy and comfortable. There have been only a few other occasions when we’ve stayed at friends’ or family members’ homes in the past seven years.

It’s a rare occasion for us to stay with anyone when we don’t want to impose. We have our routine that may conflict with others, and we certainly don’t want to be underfoot.

The only family member with whom we’ve stayed has been son Richard in Henderson, Nevada. He has a roomy house leaving us with an area where we won’t be in the way. We’ll be staying with him in the next month.

As for the time we spend in Apache Junction, Arizona, near Tom’s siblings, we’ve rented a holiday home and will share details at that time. At this point, we haven’t pinned down how long we’ll stay in Minnesota. We can always book last-minute flights.

The ship’s casino. We do not partake.

The cruise is rapidly winding down. We had one “free” bag of laundry done and will be mainly repacking clean clothes. I didn’t include many of my tops and shirts when the ship’s laundry service tends to ruin some items by washing them at too high a temperature. I didn’t want to take the risk.

Tomorrow we’ll pack and place our bags outside our cabin doors before 10:00 pm, which will then be moved to the port disembarkation area, where we’ll pick them up on Friday after we exit the ship.

Our flight from Fort Lauderdale to Minneapolis will be very long, with almost a four-hour layover in Detroit, at which time we’ll find a restaurant and have dinner. We can’t ever plan to be served food on flights these days, especially suitable for my eating.No doubt, the next few days will fly by quickly. We’re looking forward to our arrival in Minneapolis, getting settled, and seeing family and friends. And before we know it, the time in the US will pass quickly, and we’ll be on our way to India.

The journey continues…Please stay tuned.

Photo from one year ago today, November 6, 2018:
A mom and two offspring from different birth years. For more photos, please click here.

Photos of Bermuda…Sailing right along…Avoiding worry and concern…

Pirate ship attracting tourists.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Bermuda:
From this site:
“Bermuda, self-governing British overseas territory in the western North Atlantic Ocean. It is an archipelago of 7 main islands and about 170 additional (named) islets and rocks, situated about 650 miles (1,050 km) east of Cape Hatteras (North Carolina, U.S.). Bermuda is neither geologically nor spatially associated with the West Indies, which lie more than 800 miles (1,300 km) to the south and southwest.

The archipelago is about 24 miles (40 km) long and averages less than 1 mile (1.6 km) in width. The main islands are clustered together in the shape of a fishhook and are connected by bridges. The largest island is Main Island, 14 miles (22.5 km) long and 1 mile wide. The Peak, at 259 feet (79 meters) on Main Island, is the highest point. The capital is Hamilton.”

When our ship docked in King’s Wharf in Bermuda yesterday morning, we decided to take a walk from the pier to see what we could find. It was a Portuguese holiday, and only a few shops and restaurants were open.

We rarely shop in the touristy stores or dine in the restaurants at ports of call, but we often enjoy checking out the local flavor. We’d been to Bermuda several years ago on another cruise.

A government building of an unknown name due to a slow WiFi signal aboard the ship.

After taking a few photos during our hour-long walk, we wandered back to the ship to spend the remainder of the afternoon lounging in the cafe sipping coffee drinks and chatting with other passengers.

The remainder of the day and evening flew by in a flurry of conversations, meeting new people at every turn. We spent happy-hour in the Sky Lounge, with a stop at the Ice Bar, and then made our way to the Cuvee Dining Room around 7:30 pm for a lovely dinner.

British red coat trying to attract passengers for professional photos.

After dinner, we headed to the Ensemble Lounge to listen to two talented musicians playing string instruments with many recognizable songs that left the passengers swaying to the music in the bar.

By 10:40 pm, we returned to the cabin but managed to stay awake until after midnight, finally nodding off for a much-needed decent night’s sleep. For us, cruising is exhausting when we have so much fun!

The bright blue sea was surrounding the island of Bermuda.

Has cruising been easy for me considering the past year’s dreadful medical issues? Not entirely. At times, when I feel a slight flutter of my heart or a momentary pain from indigestion, it’s impossible not to assume something is going on with my heart.

Having read many comments from other survivors of coronary bypass surgery, this type of concern is customary and even expected for a while after recovery from the surgery. 

Hotel overlooking the harbor.

Also, it’s essential to stay mindful of any alarming symptoms in an issue that may require medical care. Being so far from land in these types of circumstances is undoubtedly a bit frightening. 

I try hard not to worry each time I feel a twinge to avoid getting myself into a constant state of stress and concern, which is unhealthy in itself. I must admit I do wonder if all these late nights are good for me. 

Our ship, Celebrity Silhouette.

But, gosh, having such a good time surely must be conducive to good health as long as one gets plenty of exercise, eats healthfully, and gets adequate sleep.

Yesterday, I made an appointment with a cardiology clinic in Minneapolis for the end of this month for a check-up to ensure all is well, which hopefully will provide us with peace of mind as we continue on our journey.

Today, back out to sea, we’re headed to the Bahamas. We’d visited these same ports of call on previous cruises, so we aren’t quite certain we’ll do so again.  

We’ll be back with more tomorrow. Have a pleasant day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, November 5, 2018:
This is the youngest giraffe in Marloth Park from what we’ve seen recently. Check out those knobby knees that will eventually result in some very long legs. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Murano, another fine dining option aboard the ship…Our anniversary cake…No boredom here…

The anniversary cake was hosted by the restaurant. Tom didn’t eat any of it. We handed it over to the neighbors from Minnesota in the next cabin for them to enjoy.

The cruise is rapidly coming to an end with only four days until we disembark in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from which we’ll immediately fly to Minnesota on the only flight that worked time-wise for us, requiring a lengthy layover in Detroit. We don’t mind since it’s a relatively short travel time compared to most international flights.

For the next few days, we’ll revel in the relaxation and delightful encounters and interactions with other passengers and, of course, with one another. It’s funny how people often assume we cruise all the time when they first hear we are world travelers.  

The lobster was fabulous!

Neither of us would ever be interested in cruising all the time. Firstly, it would be too expensive for our budget unless we selected “inside” cabins which don’t appeal to us.  

Secondly, we’d eventually become bored with cruising if it were to be our permanent status. The novelty of cruising an average of three times a year is ideal for us. We use cruising as a means of transportation whenever possible, significantly reducing travel day stresses.

Besides, who wants to socialize every day? The ability to interact with others at our option is ultimately an ideal scenario. Doing so every daily could become trite and boring.

Tom’s plate with chateaubriand, potatoes, and vegetables.

Neither of us ever feels bored with our lifestyle.  We’ve shaped it in a manner to avoid becoming bored and lackluster. This is one of the innate requirements of ensuring long-term travel has purpose and meaning.

With considerable forethought and planning as we research each new location, we allow ourselves quiet time to relax, reflect and recharge. Even during these less-than-exciting times, we seldom, if ever, feel bored.

If a moment of “what-do-I-do-now?” overcomes us, we both easily switch gears to tackle a new project, conduct more interesting travel options or engage in research on our favorite topics.

Tom’s dessert of chocolate bites, coconut macaroons, and sugared ginger.

In the worst case, we can always stream a movie or favorite show to watch on our laptops. Our lives are no different from anyone else who may or may not be traveling in these respects. 

Sure, in most cases, others have the option to make a phone call to meet up with family and friends for social activities, lengthy phone chats, or planned activities. This is rarely the case for us when everyone is so far away. But we have each other and find tremendous fulfillment in our time together.

Soon, we’ll be in the US and spending some time apart with our respective families during an undetermined time in Minnesota. We have no doubt we’ll figure it all out with ease. 

In any case, regardless of how much time we spend in the US, on January 30th, we’re flying to Mumbai for the next leg of our journey when the adventure continues.

Happy Monday to all!

Photo from one year ago today, November 4, 2018:
Finally, the lions reached the kill, perhaps left behind by another lion. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Murano, another fine dining option aboard the ship…

Tom seated at the table in Murano specialty restaurant. Tom took a photo of me, but it was too blurry to post here.

Celebrating our seventh anniversary of traveling the world in Murano Restaurant aboard Celebrity Silhouette was ideal for observing the special occasion.

A tower of unsalted butter and crusty rolls, which Tom tackled with enthusiasm.

The fact that Celebrity had “comped” the meal due to the flood in our cabin in the middle of the night made the event all the more enjoyable, knowing we didn’t have to add another $150 (including gratuity) to our bill.

My ice cold seviche.

We’ve easily used our $400 cabin credit for other items, including dinner in Qsine and a lovely sterling silver necklace I purchased that hides the scar from my open-heart surgery. I also included a high-quality pair of matching earrings.

Murano has a pleasing atmosphere.

The jewelry was pricey at $345, but I rarely purchase anything expensive for myself. I justified this purchase for these particular reasons. It felt wonderful wearing this fine piece of jewelry on the two formal nights when I wore dresses with a little bit of a low neckline.  

This small tower of seafood was not only pleasing to the eye but delicious. I asked them to return this one and bring me another without the wheat cracker at the bottom.

Most likely, there will be one more formal night to go.

This jewelry will serve me well in the future for dress-up nights on other cruises and other social events. I can’t begin to say how much more at ease I am wearing the necklace.

Tom’s lobster bisque.

Yesterday, we spent the day in Boston, but we, along with many other passengers, stayed aboard the ship again. It was cold and windy, and we didn’t have the appropriate clothing for such weather.

Scallops in a puff pastry roll.

We’ll have to figure something out for clothing for our arrival in Minnesota in five days as the cold winter weather rolls in, not unusual for November. No doubt, it will snow while we’re there.

This was fish in another pastry for Tom.

We continue to have a perfect time on this ship. We’ve probably made more friends on this ship than any other in the past, literally handing out dozens of business cards with our web address. 

This was my cold spinach salad, dressed in a tasty vinaigrette and topped with a chilled poached egg. Its appearance was odd, but the flavor was superb.

As it turns out, many people have approached us, saying they “already know us” from our over seven years of posts. We certainly realize our lifestyle is unique from that of many other frequent world travelers. 

The platter of accompaniments was prepared for the chateaubriand served tableside.

We haven’t met anyone on this ship that has a situation similar to ours. Yes, many people travel, but all have homes, apartments, belongings, and a place they call “home.”

The flambe of the chateaubriand.

Many express shock over how we ever managed to leave everything behind to embark on such an adventure. Overall, most struggle with the concept of ridding themselves of their treasured belongings. 

Many have moved to other states/countries to their desired locales with good weather and, like us, don’t see their family and friends as often as they’d like. But, they, too, feel a powerful sense of freedom and commitment to carry on their lives, experiencing as much of the world as possible.

Slicing the delicious, well seasoned, and prepared chateaubriand.

It’s been purely delightful sharing stories with other travelers, further confirming that we are not alone in our desire for wanderlust and a somewhat nomadic lifestyle.

Today, a sea day, we spent most of the day in the Cafe al Bacio enjoying our unlimited drink package, including specialty coffee, tea, and other beverages. I don’t drink alcoholic beverages during the day, but Tom has partaken of a few Pina Coladas and other exciting coffee drinks.

We shared the chateaubriand for two but also ordered the lobster as the main course.

Soon, we’re off again for yet another evening of entertaining conversation, good food, and adult beverages. I’ve been sticking with my daily limit of two small glasses of fine cabernet sauvignon, which is included in the unlimited drink package.  

With each of the two glasses of wine, I always order a green glass bottle of Pelligrino (sparkling mineral water), making it possible for me to easily “stretch” the wine throughout the evening.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more food photos and updates. 

May your Sunday evening be entertaining as well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 3, 2018:

Mom and offspring cuddling during a nap in our garden. Note the oxpecker on mom’s head. For more photos, please click here.

Helsinki, Finland…Another fine city in the Baltic…How’s it going?…

Exquisite house on the waterfront in Helsinki.

Due to the slow internet issues aboard the ship, the details of many photos were impossible to load.  

Today is Day 11 of this Royal Caribbean Baltic cruise. Tomorrow, we pack, leaving our bags outside the door to our cabin by 10:00 pm, and they will be whisked away to the luggage area in the port of Amsterdam.

Harbor in Helsinki.

On Friday, the day of disembarkation, we’ll collect our bags early in the morning and head to the airport by taxi, where we’ll wait for a few hours for our short flight to Exeter, England. Once we pick up the rental car in Exeter, we’ll be on our way to the first of four of the holiday homes we’ve rented in England.

Another historic building in Helsinki.

It’s a wonderful feeling, one we’ll always relish, that once one leg of our journey has ended, another begins, offering us a feeling of freedom, expectation, and sheer joy for this life we lead.  We can only pray it will continue for years to come.

Contemporary statue in Helsinki.

This has been a good cruise, but not outstanding.  The ship, although updated, is clean and well-appointed but isn’t as unique as some other cruise ships we’ve experienced in the past seven years.  

Market Square – an outdoor market and food fair.

However, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people and seeing several countries we’d never visited in the past.  Would we return to any of these countries for an extended stay should the opportunity arise?  Probably not.  

Uspenski Cathedral.

Although interesting to see via this medium, nothing about the new-to-us countries made us hunger to live there for two or three months.  The tours were excellent, and we loved taking in the personality of each of the cities.

Uspenski Cathedral.

Each morning we had free, we spent time in the L’Attitudes Cafe on deck five preparing the day’s post.  As you are all well aware, we missed posting for a few days due to the poor WiFi signal and our busy schedule.

Helsinki Cathedral.

From here on, we see no reason why we won’t be able to upload posts unless we run into more severe WiFi issues. We still have hundreds of unseen photos in the file for each country, but over the next few months, on quiet days in England, we can always add them from time to time.

Train station entrance.

We’re looking forward to arriving in Cornwall in the smallish town of Falmouth in only about 48 hours.  With ocean views from the cottage, once again, we’ll find the experience highly fulfilling. Also, it is a short walk to the town, which we hope to explore on foot as much as possible.

“Temppeliaukio Church is a Lutheran church in the Töölö neighborhood of Helsinki. The church was designed by architects and brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen and opened in 1969. Built directly into solid rock, it is also known as the Church of the Rock and Rock Church.”

How am I feeling? I’ve concluded and accepted that it will take months to get the awful drugs out of my system. Hopefully, in time, I’ll feel less pain in my legs when walking, less breathlessness, and fewer bouts of erratic pulse and blood pressure, which only occurs once or twice a day.  

Historical building.

These are common side effects when weaning off all three of the meds. At this point, I still have 30% of the initial dose of 2.5 mg of bisoprolol left from which to wean myself.  

WiFi is too slow to find names of sculptures in Helsinki.

The amiodarone can stay in one’s system for six months to a year. At this point, it’s hard to tell which of the drugs is causing the most discomfort as I wean off of them. The mid-day sleepiness, pain in my legs, and general feelings of weakness and malaise continue to plague me.    

Government building.

Hopefully, one day soon, I’ll awaken one morning and be free of this struggle. Thank you to our readers and my dear husband Tom for being so supportive as I get through this period.

Shopping mall.

And, a special thanks to all of you who continue to write to us, offering comfort, motivation, and a wealth of encouragement.    

SkyWheel Helsinki Ferris wheel near the harbor – 40-m. Observation wheel offering panoramic 360-degree views over the city skyline.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with more as we collect the information needed to share the total costs of this cruise with all of you. Please check back.

The architectural style of buildings is commonly found in Helsinki.

Have a peaceful and fulfilling day and night.

Photo from one year ago today, August 21, 2018:
Tom is right at home while on safari. We’ve learned so much over these years. It’s all the more exciting. For more Chobe photos, please click here.

Part 1…St. Petersburg, Russia…A city to remember…The Peter and Paul Fortress and Cathedral…

“The Peter and Paul Cathedral (Russian: Петропавловский собор) is a Russian Orthodox cathedral located inside the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is the first and oldest landmark in St. Petersburg, built between 1712 and 1733 on Hare Island along the Neva River. Both the cathedral and the fortress were originally built under Peter the Great and designed by Domenico Trezzini. The cathedral’s bell tower is the world’s tallest Orthodox bell tower. Since the belfry is not standalone but an integral part of the main building, the cathedral is sometimes considered the highest Orthodox Church in the world. There is another Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul Church in St. Petersburg, located in Petergof.”
This Baltic cruise provided us with an opportunity to visit and subsequently add six new countries to our world travel itinerary. We hadn’t added many new lands in the past few years, and this is particularly exciting.
Sailors were walking down the street with a mission in mind.

It’s not as if we’re on a mission to experience most of the world’s safe-to-visit countries. That was never the purpose or goal of our world travels. Instead, it’s simply fun to add more countries to our travel map on the right side of our home page.

On the streets of St. Petersburg, this Russian woman had an impressive arrangement of fresh fruit cups available for sale.

These Baltic countries have been exciting and unique compared to many other countries we’ve toured in almost seven years. Never in our travels had we been to Russia or other of the Baltic countries.

The luxury in the cathedral is indescribable.

Today, as we travel through Scandinavian countries, we find a very different feel from European countries, except for the varying designs of many churches and historical buildings.

There were so many tourists inside the Peter and Paul Cathedral. It was challenging to take photos without including them.

Let’s face it…buildings 200 or more years old seem to take on decor, design, and ambiance of specific typical characteristics, architecturally interesting, significant, at times flashy, and often made of gold and valuable stones, marble, wood, and jewels.

“The current building, the first stone church in St. Petersburg, was designed by Trezzini and built between 1712 and 1733. Its gold-painted spire reaches a height of 123 meters (404 ft) and features an angel holding a cross at its top. This angel is one of the most important symbols of St. Petersburg. The cathedral’s architecture also features a unique iconostasis (the screen which separates the church’s nave from the sanctuary). In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the iconostasis is normally a flat wall or screen with three doors through it. The central Holy Doors are used only for very solemn entrances and the two side doors by which the clergy and others enter and leave the sanctuary. However, at St. Peter and Paul, the iconostasis rises to form a tower over the sanctuary. The cathedral has a typical Flemish carillon, a gift of the Flemish city of Mechelen, Flanders.”

After seeing 100’s of historic buildings, we’re always searching for an unusual or unique series of features that can take our breath away. This happened in St. Petersburg a few days ago.

Pure gold was used in creating the exquisite ambiance of this famous cathedral.

As mentioned in our last post, found here, I wasn’t able to participate in Day 2 of our St. Petersburg tour due to my difficulty walking. After the previous day’s 12,000 steps ending at 13,500 when wandering about the ship that evening, my legs hurt enough to prevent us from another long day on foot.

“The cathedral is dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, the patron saints of the fortress (Saint Peter being the patron saint of the city). The current cathedral is the second one on the site. The first, built soon after Peter found the city, was consecrated by Archbishop Iov of Novgorod the Great in April 1704.  The cathedral was the cathedral church (i.e., the seat of the bishop; the term cathedralsobor (собор) in Russian—can mean the seat of a bishop, but it can also mean simply a large or important church) of the city until 1859 (when St Isaacs became the city’s cathedral.) The current cathedral church of St. Petersburg is the Kazan Cathedral on Nevsky Prospect. The cathedral was closed in 1919 and turned into a museum in 1924. It is still officially a museum; religious services, however, resumed in 2000.”

Yesterday morning we were docked in Helsinki, Finland, and after attempting to post with no luck, we took off for town, utilizing a  private taxi which is the most accessible means for me.  

As we moved through the immense structure, we discovered one fantastic scene after another.

Photos aren’t as good as they’d be when on foot on the Hop-On, Hop-Off buses since they have to be taken through the glass windows, although it’s better than not going at all.

The remains of many leaders and their family members were interred within the church walls.

Years ago, we wouldn’t get off at some ports-of-call on some cruises, especially in the Caribbean, when we’d already been to many cruise lines owned islands intended for passengers to spend, spend, spend…on drinks, beach chairs, umbrellas, and trinkets.  

“The cathedral houses the remains of almost all the Russian emperors and empresses from Peter the Great to Nicholas II and his family, who were finally laid to rest in July 1998. Among the emperors and empresses buried here was Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia for 34 years.  Of the post-Petrine rulers, only Peter II and Ivan VI are not buried here. Peter II is buried in the Cathedral of Michael the Archangel in the Moscow Kremlin; Ivan VI was executed and buried in the fortress of Shlisselburg or Kholmogory (alleged discovery at Kholmogory in 2010 currently under forensic investigation). On September 28, 2006, 78 years after her death, Maria Feodorovna, Empress of Russia, was reinterred in the Cathedral of St Peter and Paul. Wife of Tsar Alexander III and mother of Nicholas II (the last Russian tsar), Maria Feodorovna died on 13 October 1928 in exile in her native Denmark and was buried in Roskilde Cathedral in Denmark. In 2005, the governments of Denmark and Russia agreed that the empress’s remains should be returned to Saint Petersburg in accordance with her wish to be interred next to her husband.”

Such ports hold little appeal for us when we are always seeking authenticity, history, and charm. An artificial island or strip of beach certainly doesn’t fit that criterion. However, many passengers find such places as the highlight of their cruises, especially those who don’t live near an ocean and sandy beaches. We get that.

The exterior is slightly less impressive than the interior of the cathedral.

Of course, a natural strip of sandy, volcanic or rocky beach always inspires us, prompting us to take many photos of varying angles of nature’s bounty. We never tire of the view.

As expected, the evenings have been entertaining and filled with lively chatter among other passengers we’ve met and between ourselves. There’s never a dull moment, nor do we spend much time in the cabin.

The chapel’s roof, ornate and gold-covered.

We managed to squeeze in a few movies in the ship’s small theatre, the Cinema, the past two days. The first was the most recent documentary about Apollo 11’s trip to the moon with live footage that left us on the edge of our chairs. It’s well worth watching and provides a perspective we could hardly imagine from memory 50 years ago.

After returning from touring Helsinki in the taxi yesterday, we relaxed and watched another movie, “Instant Family, “very sweet and entertaining. Tom dozed during the first 20 minutes but was awake for the balance.

As soon as we upload this post, we’ll be taking the shuttle bus from the ship to Stockholm, Sweden. From there, if possible we’ll take a taxi to tour the city.

Tomorrow, a sea day, we’ll have time for Part 2…St. Petersburg. Look for us then! We still have many more Baltic cities to share!

Enjoy the new week!
Photo from one year ago today, August 19, 2018:
This artistic piece, made by Agness at the Wayi Wayi Art Centre in Zambia, was made with hundreds of scratch-off tickets.  Please click here for more photos.

Today is Day 5 of our Baltic cruise…Few more Copenhagen photos…Today, we’ll tour Tallinn, Estonia…

“The Gefion Fountain is a large fountain on the harbor front in Copenhagen, Denmark. It features a large-scale group of animal figures being driven by the Norse goddess Gefjon. It is located in Nordre Toldbod area next to Kastellet and immediately south of Langelinie.”

The WiFi signal is so poor that it takes three times longer to prepare and upload photos. We’re doing the best we can in the time we’ve allotted to present our daily activities.

Typical residential building in Copenhagen.

I must admit I am not as diligent as usual when there’s such a flurry of activity around us with many distractions. No sooner I get started, and other passengers join us at our little corner near electrical outlets in the Park Café. To avoid being rude, I closed my laptop to participate in the lively chatter.

We’re having a perfect time, better than I’d expected when I felt so awful only a few weeks ago. I never imagined I’d be able to be up and about from early morning, often up until midnight, without a daytime nap or rest.
The uncomplicated style of buildings in Copenhagen seemed to be universal.

Yesterday was more fun than I can describe. At breakfast in the main dining room by 8:00 am, we met more new people as the conversation flowed at our table for 10.

For midday on a Wednesday, there were few crowds.

By 10:30 am, we headed to this exact spot at the coffee shop. At the same time, I enthusiastically worked on the post, hoping to upload a decent story with photos of Copenhagen taken during the rainy four-hour bus ride. 

I hadn’t finished having yet to caption the photos and move them into their appropriate spots in the post, but we dropped off the equipment back at the cabin to make the 1:00 pm movie in the intimate theatre, the Cinema. “Aquaman” was the movie of the day.
Bicycle parking lots are everywhere.

Tom, not necessarily a fan of fantasy-type movies, stayed awake during the entire movie while I sat on the edge of my seat in the sheer wonder of watching such a good movie. I loved every moment!  Tom surprised me and also enjoyed it but not as much as me. (We’re out of touch with movies made in the US after being away for so long).

With energy conservation the order of the day, there were minimal vehicles on the road.
After the movie ended at 3:10, we headed back to the cabin, where I finished the post and the photo captions.  We showered and dressed to be ready for “happy hour(s)” in the Diamond Club lounge on the 13th floor. It starts at 5:00 pm and ends at 8:30 pm.
The long, happy hour period requires me to drink my two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon very slowly, trying to save a little in the second glass to take to the dining room to savor during dinner. 
An ice cream shop.

When he saw how little was left in my glass, Tom ordered me a third glass of wine but was concerned about overdoing it. I never drank it. In the dining room, we sat with a delightful couple, Fred and Larry from the US, and once again, the conversation was fantastic. We plan to meet up with them in Phoenix for dinner while staying in Apache Junction in January.

Statues are commonly seen in Copenhagen.

It always amazes us how easy it is to make friends on cruises. There is no environment we’ve ever experienced where it was so easy. We all have a commonality of a love of travel, and that’s always an easy place to start the conversation. We seldom encounter passengers who aren’t enjoying themselves.

After dinner, we looked for seats overlooking the Centrum area, one level below where we could watch the upcoming “disco” music and 70s show. We lucked out and found two comfy chairs directly at the railing, where we stayed watching a memorable heart-pounding show.
Taking photos through the rain-covered windows was challenging.

The dance floor was packed with enthusiastic passengers dancing the night away. Some time ago, we would have been included in that excited flurry of arms and legs flailing to the music. Instead, we watched with equal enthusiasm. Maybe someday I’ll be able to dance with Tom, but time will tell.

The stage presented a variety of staff dancers who “worked” the crowd into a frenzy. After about an hour, a show started we’d seen on many cruises; the songs from the Village People, In The Navy, and of course, Y-M-C-A. 

A gilded spire atop the train station.

The crew was wearing similar costumes to the Village People, and the place rocked beyond belief. The energy was indeed electric, not only enjoying the familiar songs but also remembering our youth when those were first introduced. We had such fun as we danced in our chairs, grateful and happy to be together, sharing yet another memorable day and evening.

A fountain near the canal.

Finally, by 12:30 am, we dozed off with smiles on our faces over a day well-spent. Today, we’re off on a shuttle bus soon to head to Tallinn, Estonia, a quaint walled town with supposedly lots of charm and appeal.

We’ll be back tomorrow with photos from our tour of this most unusual place to visit (for us anyway). See you then!

Photo from one year ago today, August 15, 2018:
They were looking in one direction, waiting to decide their next move. What could they possibly be waiting for? For more photos, please click here.

Day 30…Cruise to South America…One day to disembarkation…About us….Final Montevideo photos…

Many of the streets in Montevideo, Uruguay, reminded us of other historical cities we’ve visited.

“Sightings from the Veranda while Cruising

We are viewing shipwrecks from our veranda in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The cruise is fast coming to an end. Today, we pack and leave our bags outside our cabin door by 10:00 pm. Tonight’s the last “silent disco,” and we’ll dance the night away with all the new friends we’ve made along the way.

Montevideo, Uruguay, is a charming historic town filled with historical buildings.

It’s the first time I didn’t feel a little nostalgic as a cruise comes to an end. This time, both of us are ready to begin the New Year with many adventures awaiting us, and of course, the celebration of a milestone in Tom’s life, his 65th birthday tomorrow.

Vendors line the streets offering their handmade crafts for sale.

I wish there were a way I could arrange festivities to celebrate his birthday but based on disembarkation tomorrow, preparing the final expenses and post for the cruise and getting settled into our hotel in the Palermo district in Buenos Aires while attempting to find a restaurant for his birthday dinner, our day will be complete.

We walked to a large open market area where dozens of vendors were presenting their goods.

No doubt, the day, like every other, will be spent in the celebration and happiness we feel in being together, grateful for this life we lead and the excellent health and means that enable us to continue. How did we get so lucky?

There’s no room in the luggage for hats, but at US $7, it was tempting.

Perhaps, it was less about “luck” and more about years of hard work and diligent planning that has made this life financially possible. The rest is about the emotional part. We both have contributed to our ability to love and nurture one another, exercise patience and tolerance with our circumstances and with each other. 

Quaint seating area in an outdoor cafe.

Long ago, we both agreed that whining and complaining would be highly destructive in maintaining our commitment to continuing. As a result, in even the most trying situations, neither of us complains. 

Each of the city streets has a unique appearance with the many historical buildings.

Are we stuffing our feelings? Not at all. Through controlling our reactions to difficult situations, we’ve learned to think about solutions to problems rather than complain about them. Over time, this behavior has become a part of who we are, making life easier and, ultimately, happier.

A tall, dark green door.

This process doesn’t make us exempt from having challenges or from worrying from time to time. But, it provides us with the tools to maximize every day to its fullest, even when it feels like a struggle, especially during times of illness or injury.

A fruit and vegetable market on the side of the street.

I often think of times, like last summer when we were in Minnesota visiting family, and I’d booked our flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas for the wrong dates. We ended up losing the full fare of US $719. There was nothing we could do. 

We continued our walk well beyond the areas where all the passengers were shopping.

I was frustrated with myself for making this error, but Tom was loving and supportive, knowing I had made an error and berating me for doing so held no purpose or value. We both had to shrug it off as “one of those things.” 

Soon, there was hardly a tourist to be found.

In no way, as hard as we may strive for accuracy, are we exempt from making occasional errors. We’ve both learned to accept responsibility, fess up, and carry on. 

It’s the combination of these factors we hesitantly share, hoping not to seem braggadocio, preachy or pompous, as we explain how we make this life work for us.

We reached the opposite side of the waterfront and stumbled upon this smokestack.

Last night, during the “full moon party” in the Martini Bar, we had a perfect time, hanging out with new friends, rocking to and fro to the music. It couldn’t have been more fun. By midnight, we were back in our cabin, ready for a good night’s sleep which we both achieved.

As we made our way back to the ship, we could see it at a distance.

Today, we’re docked in Buenos Aires for a final overnight stay on the ship. Many passengers are permanently getting off the boat, but our hotel reservations don’t begin until tomorrow night, and we feel comfortable staying on board on the final night. We won’t be getting off the ship today since we’ll have an entire month to explore Buenos Aires at our leisure.

A turret atop another historical building.

Have a safe and pleasant day and weekend, as the holiday season brings many festivities and celebrations for those who partake.

Photo from one year ago today, December 22, 2016:

Driving through the countryside a few days earlier, Tom spotted this highly venomous Tiger snake crossing the road. Quickly turning around, as it raced off into vegetation, we were able to get this photo. For information on these venomous snakes, please click here where it’s stated, “Most Australians know of tiger snakes and are aware of their fearsome reputation, though few people will ever encounter one.” Please leave it to us to encounter one after only 20 days in Tasmania! For more details, please click here.

Day 5 Minnesota…It couldn’t be better…More photos from Butchart Gardens…Dinner with friends…

This was my favorite photo from Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia.

Please note: We’re finalizing the headcount for the “Meet & Greet” for our readers in Minneapolis on June 9th from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm at:
Grizzly’s Wood-Fired Grill
220 Carlson Parkway N, Plymouth, MN 555447

Please RSVP my by email if you plan to attend and haven’t already done so. Hope to see you then!

The well-arranged paths made it easy to see the entire facility in about two hours.
Seeing this garden reminded us of the rainy day we spent in Versailles in 2014. Click here for details of the most extraordinary gardens we’ve ever seen anywhere in the worldTodayay we’re continuing with more photos from the exquisite Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, to provide a break from our ramblings on family events.
A garden viewing house.

It was a day we’ll always remember which was cool and sunny, a perfect scenario for an afternoon in the world acclaimed gardens. Please see this list where Butchart Gardens is listed as one of the top 10 in the world.

Each unique garden was followed by another on the blissfully sunny day.

Another major garden we’re looking forward to seeing is located in Buenos Aires, Argentina where we’ll be staying for 30 days beginning on Tom’s 65th birthday, upcoming on December 23, 2017. For the link, please click here.

The crowds were huge but we tried taking photos without obstructions.

We still have many photos to share on Butchart Gardens and we’ll continue to do so when we take breaks from sharing family event details throughout our remaining 37 nights in Minnesota. Please bear with us as we attempt to “mix it up” a bit during this period of family visits.


Last night, we had our first dinner with friends Chere and husband Gary at their lovely home in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Chere and I met years ago in a work situation that caused us to immediately delve into a meaningful and lasting friendship. 

Colorful collection.

Now almost 20 years later and throughout mine and Tom’s years of travel, we have stayed in close touch never seeming to miss a beat in the events of our daily lives. 

Perhaps, the last of the spring tulips, these flowers were so dark they were almost black.

Chere is a successful well-known national speaker, registered dietician with contemporary views, motivator and lifestyle coach. Her upbeat attitude and enthusiasm for “living life to the fullest” is illustrated here in her comments on her website:

“I Make Positive Change Easy
I love the challenge of working with busy, successful people that are tired of living a ‘ho-hum” life, tired of feeling low on energy and having no time to do the things they truly want to. Sounds impossible for most, not for me.
I believe that knowing your purpose, energizes your life, which creates your happiness which you need in order to live healthily and then you can truly feel balanced and authentically love your life.”

Miniature garden in the carousel building.
Pretty merry-go-round at Butchart Gardens.

It’s not hard to see why Chere and I have easily connected with one another with our mutual “overly bubbly” attitudes about life. Last night, at dinner at their home, made to perfection for my way of eating, both Tom and Gary rolled their eyes a few times over Chere and my many likenesses and enthusiasm.

Hand painted horse in the merry-go-round.
Painted Panda on the carousel.

It was a delightful evening of engaging chatter while seated at their beautifully set dining room table. There’s nothing that can compare to the joy of lively conversation with like-minded friends with whom you share many interests.

A redwood tree.

Thanks to Chere and Gary for sharing their home and lives with us last night. Gary was off on a white water rafting trip leaving Chere and me more girl-time to spend over these coming weeks in between times with family and other friends. More on that later.

What a pretty display at Butchart Gardens.

Soon, we’re heading to grandson Vincent end-of-the-year school picnic at a local park and again we’re thrilled to have a sunny day in Minnesota, each of which is treasured by the locals after the long, cold winters.

See Chere’s overly bubbly smile, with husband Gary, as they prepare the table for dinner.

Later today, Tom will spend some quality time with son TJ and daughter Tammy. At this point, who knows what the evening holds???

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 31, 2016:

In Bali, the Buffaloes stayed relatively calm until it the race began. For more on Part2 buffalo races, please click here.

Last day of Alaskan cruise…Final expenses for cruise and extras…Minnesota, here we come in the morning…

Snow on mountain peaks. Ships at the Port.

Please note: We’re finalizing the headcount for the “Meet & Greet” for our readers in Minneapolis on June 9th from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm at:

Grizzly’s Wood-Fired Grill at this location in Plymouth, Minnesota:

220 Carlson Pkwy N, Plymouth, MN 55447
Please RSVP if you plan to attend and haven’t already done so.  Hope to see you then!

The scenery in Alaska hasn’t disappointed.

Here we are, the final full day aboard a ship since April 22nd when we left Sydney, with the exception of the two nights we spent in Vancouver at the hotel. 

We’ve cruised a total of 33 nights since leaving Sydney and look forward to getting settled in Minneapolis after our flight from Seattle with an early evening arrival. It will feel good to unpack, get organized and prepare for a whirlwind next six weeks.

The tender boats were delivering passengers to the shore. So we have packing to tackle this morning. I folded all my clothing from the closet, drawers, and cabinets, placing them in piles ready to be neatly stacked into my one large suitcase. Tom will pack later.

We’re out to sea at the moment heading to Victoria, British Columbia, our final port of call on this nine-night Alaskan cruise, arriving around noon. We’re booked with a private tour at 12:00 pm to visit Butchart Gardens in Victoria on Vancouver Island, a world-renowned garden.

Busy port in Skagway.

Tom booked us for this tour some time ago through an offering posted in CruiseCritic. We seldom attend ship sponsored tours due to the crowds and long lines. However, this smaller private group tour will suit our needs.

Besides, I’ve wanted to visit this world famous garden for years, and Tom surprised me with this booking a while back. That’s not to say that he loves visiting botanical gardens but he’s always been more than willing to see the many we’ve toured throughout our travels. In addition, his keen eye makes him the first to point out an ideal photo op.

Church near the shore in Skagway.

Usually, we post stories and photos while we’re still on location whether living in a specific country or on a cruise. In this case, with Butchart Gardens, we’ll be adding the many photos we’ll have taken today over the course of the next several weeks while we’re in Minnesota.

What stories will we tell while in Minnesota when most of our time will be spent with family and friends? We’re not inclined to post lots of family related information here in our posts. 

Boats and ocean front property in Juneau.

Let’s face it, most people quickly tire of hearing about other’s grandchildren and family members other than a few shots and quips here and there. Unfortunately, such will be the case for us. 

We’ll post of few photos of family members and friends with their permission but will not focus on turning our site into a family album. Most readers have their own family albums and don’t care to spend weeks looking at ours. 

Cruise ships in the port of Ketchikan.

Instead, we plan to share photos of places we’ll visit, magical and interesting moments we experience and the beauty of Minnesota. Of course, with so much to do and people to see in Minneapolis, its unlikely we’ll be traveling far from town. But, if we do, we’ll certainly incorporate those photos into the daily posts.

We have no doubt, we’ll have plenty of photos to share and stories to tell during these upcoming six weeks including dining in restaurants, visiting parks and lakes and sharing morsels about the hotel where we’ll be staying which is located in a lovely area.

A tiny portion of Tongass National Park/Forest which is the largest national forest in the United States with 17 million acres.

We’ve decided to share the final expenses for the cruise today rather than tomorrow which will be a very busy travel day in getting off the cruise, taking a taxi to the airport, flying to Minnesota, picking up the rental car and driving to our hotel.  

Here are the total expenses for the nine-night Alaskan cruise on Celebrity Solstice:

Expense US Dollar
Cruise Fare  $                  4,416.38
Airfare  $                                 
Taxi   $                          8.41
Cabin Credit  $                   (500.00)
Gratuities  $                     243.00
Tours  $                        77.00
Additional Gratuities  $                        80.00
Cruise Bill for Purchaes  $                     496.00
Total  $                  4,820.79
Avg Daily Cost – 9 days  $                     535.64
Hand carved the statue of the popular and commonly seen bald eagle in Alaska. For more details on Alaska bald eagles, please click here.

This morning, I attempted to get a copy of our bill in order to itemize how we spent the $500 cabin credit. Unfortunately, the line at guest services would have required an hour wait or more. 

Instead, here’s an overview from memory of roughly how we spent the non-refundable cabin credit; gifts for family, hats, gloves and a scarf for cold days in Alaska, a few cosmetic and toiletry items and one zip sweatshirt. No beverages were charged to our account. 

Ketchikan Duck Tours, a popular open air bus for tourists.

We received all the bottled water we wanted from the Captain’s Club free happy hour from 5:00 to 7:00 pm each evening. Tom only consumed alcoholic beverages during the two-hour event each evening while I drank complimentary hot tea and water. Neither of us ever drank a soda.

Stunning views in Sitka.

The tour expense listed at $77 is for today’s Butchart Gardens tour. The additional gratuities are for our cabin steward and the restaurant hostess. We didn’t include a tip for the dining room assistant for my meals when my meals were often not prepared correctly or served on time. There was no airfare associated with this cruise since we arrived by cruise ship.

Tomorrow, we’ll prepare and upload a post while waiting to get off the ship, while waiting for our 1:15 pm flight at Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle. Most likely, it will be available at the usual time.

 Read here for an interesting story about the building of this tunnel in downtown Ketchikan.

We’ll be thinking of all of you and the photos you may enjoy while we tour the fabulous Butchart Gardens which appears to be taking place on a sunny day on beautiful Vancouver Island!

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, May 25, 2016:

In Bali on the prior day’s pst post, we shared a photo of two buffalos wandering by during dinner and here were four buffalos on a hike from the river seen that evening. For more details, please click here.