Running as fast as we can… One year ago today, Dubrovnik, Croatia…

The sky continues to captivate us. The billowing smoke is from a fire burning next door.

Hardly a day passes that we don’t hear or see something, including on the days we stay home, that makes us laugh or smile. We are grateful for the time we’re spending in Madeira which is moving too quickly for our liking.

This morning, checking today’s weather from the veranda, I see the four goats next door, the mom, dad, and two kids. I holler out a loud “baa” to which they all turn, looking at me, all “baaing” back in response. This happens each day.

Blue sky, blue ocean.  Beautiful.

Moments later, the rooster crowed for the first time today to begin his day-long litany of crowing to his heart’s content until sunset. A few minutes later, we hear the quarter-hour church bells ringing as the sounds bounce back and forth in the hills surrounding us. We love these sounds.

But, the musical sounds of the various vendors of fresh foods echoing through the hills is a sound unlike any we’ve experienced in the past. Anticipating it with the same fervor as a child awaiting the ice cream truck’s musical foray into the neighborhood, both Tom and I await in wonder.

Mom goat, sitting and hugging a branch.

On Thursday morning as Judite ran about the house cleaning, we heard the approaching music, hoping it was the produce guy. When able to clearly hear the sounds, we have to hustle. He zips through the neighborhood with a fervor barely giving a prospective customer time to get out their door. With our shoes on, the door unlocked and Tom’s wallet on hand, we’re always ready to run.

In a matter of seconds, not minutes, he was on the street while our fast response enabled us to flag him down after he’d actually passed our house. Backing up, he got ready for us. Unlike the fish guy, he turns off his music when he has a customer, making taking a video less interesting.

Mom goat hanging out with the two kids.

We’re never certain when he is coming when his timing doesn’t appear to be consistent. Thus, we tend to purchase small amounts of the produce we’ll need for several days at the nearby little market which is also farm fresh. All we needed on Thursday was lettuce and carrots.

It was the same 20’s something produce guy from whom we’d purchased in these past four weeks. We always try to shop from the local vendors when possible. After all, they’ve welcomed us with open arms, especially in this quaint village of Campanario which is less of a tourist area and mostly occupied with locals.

The produce guy coming toward our street with music blaring.

I couldn’t have been more thrilled when we saw he had avocados which I’ve been unable to find at either the supermarket or local market. We purchased four avocados, two heads of Bibb lettuce, and a kilo of carrots. 

The produce from the truck is not as much of a bargain as it’s been in other countries in which we’ve lived. The total was US $8.12, EU $6, a none-the-less great price by US standards. 

We didn’t recognize some of the produce and didn’t ask when the driver speaks no English.

As I later cleaned the lettuce, I picked off worms and bugs, smiling all the while as I was reminded that no pesticides were used in growing this produce. And the carrots of peculiar shapes and sizes, also illustrated that the growing process was as natural as it would be if I’d grown them in the yard.

As a matter of fact, produce is growing in our yard, planted and cared for by Gina’s dad, Antonio. I’m sure as it matures, we’ll be the recipients of some of his gardening expertise.

The first avocados we’d seen in Madeira.

Last night we made pizza, one for each of us based on our topping preferences. Tom had his usual mushrooms, olives, onions, sausage, and cheese while I made mine with anchovies, a small amount of sausage, piled high with cubes of carrots and zucchini, eggplant, red peppers, onions, mushrooms, and cheese. 

Of course, for the base, we made our usual cheese and egg crusts, made in earlier in the day in order to harden into perfect crusts. As always, the pizza was fabulous with enough leftovers for another round tonight with a huge side salad using those farm carrots and Bibb lettuce.

These green summer squash are similar to zucchini.

Today, we’re scheduled to return the blue car which we plan to return in plenty of time by 3:00 pm.  On July 15th, we’ll return the second rental car to pick up the third and final rent. We have an outing booked that morning on a 70-foot catamaran for whale and dolphin watching. That way, we’ll be at the pier in Funchal for the booking at 10:30 am, returning the car later in the day after the boat trip. 

Last night, the full moon alluded us with a cloudy sky. We’d decided not to dine out last night as we’d mentioned when we realized we needed to use the produce we had on hand including fresh mushrooms we’d purchased on Monday. 

Although I can’t eat fruit (due to sugar content) and Tom doesn’t like it, we both were amazed by the size of these grapes.

We’ve so enjoyed the fresh food and cooking again after our reprieve in Morocco that we’ve hardly dined out, only three times since our arrival. With the average cost of dining out at US $65, EU $48 range, we’ve found that doing so holds less interest for us while we’re here. 

We’ll be dining out for over two months, beginning on July 31st when we leave for Paris until we end up in Oahu, Hawaii on October 5, 2014, after the two booked cruises and four hotel stays. 

What are these green things? Does anyone know?

By then, we’ll have had our fill of dining out especially when dinner for two on any of the four islands on which we’ll live in Hawaii, typically costs over US $100, EU $74, without wine or cocktails. 

That’s all for today folks. See you tomorrow with photos from today’s trip to Funchal, the capital city of the island of Madeira.

Photos from one year ago today, June 14, 2013:

We took a tender from the ship to the small pier in the walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. Our ship was scheduled to go to Athens but political unrest prevented it. Instead, they chose Dubrovnik which I believe we loved all the more. (I had added the date feature for the camera that day but changed it later).
Once again, walking the narrow alleyways between buildings in Dubrovnik held tons of charm. For details of that date, please click here.

Dubrovnik, Croatia…A walk into another century…Amazing!

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Having the opportunity to visit Dubrovnik, Croatia was only due to the necessity of the ship finding another port of call when strikes in Athens prevented us from stopping when all public forms of transportation were shut down.
Excuse the dates on the photos.  My error. Will remove them for next batch of photos.

This Windstar small cruise ship enhanced the view as we made our way into the harbor.
Dubrovnik Croatia, a beautiful shoreline.
There’s Tom, happy as a clam as we make our way in a lifeboat to the shore of Dubrovnik Croatia.
The shoreline as we approached.
The walled city of Dubrovnik.
Another city following a design restriction presenting a similar style to the newer homes and structures.
Both new and old Dubrovnik were beautiful.

We couldn’t be more thrilled to have visited Dubrovnik today, an enchanting walled city, filled with rich history and charm that is difficult to describe. 

No more than a few feet from the tender, we were greeted with the charm of this historical city.
The artwork depicting the treasures of the city were in abundance.
The narrow passageways led to one interesting view after another.

To think we may not have seen this city, this country simply further proves how much this world has to offer as we make our way on our relentless journey of discovery and wonder.  We can’t wipe the smiles off of our faces.

Many of the narrow streets had stairways leading to more narrow streets.
Every possible space was devoted to enhancing the productivity of the city.
Croatia is on the north of Slovenia and Hungary, on the east and south of Bosnia and Herzegovina and on the east by Serbia, is formerly known as the Republic of Yugoslavia. The Adriatic Sea forms Croatia’s long western border.
The view from our ship took our breath away, instantly eliminating any disappointment any of us may have had for missing Athens.  At this point, neither of us was motivated to visit more ruins and Dubrovnik didn’t disappoint with nary a “ruin” but well preserved streets, buildings, narrow passageways, quaint shops and restaurants.

With no available tenders, our ship, the Norwegian Spirit, decided to use its own lifeboats to transport us from the harbor to the shore. Gee, we hope it’s the only time we’ll see the inside of a lifeboat! 

Yep!  Lots of cruise ship tourists.  It would be ideal to visit this city in the off season.

Tomorrow, we’ll be nearing the end of this cruise, as the ship sails soon toward Venice, Italy. Also, our bags will be packed, awaiting pickup outside of our cabin door by tomorrow, Saturday,  at 11:00 pm while we keep our digital equipment in our possession along with clothing and toiletries to disembark on Sunday.

Sorry, no time to edit out stranger’s heads.

Taking a cab to the airport to pick up our rental car, we will begin the four hour drive to our new residence in Lucca in the Tuscany region.  Today, we printed our rental car confirmation, directions and a map to the property and a list of all of the foods I can and cannot eat, in Italian, to be used when we dine while in Italy.

Could it be more enticing?
With no room in our luggage, buying anything was out of the question, but nonetheless tempting with the wide array of handcrafted items at every turn.

This parrot was sitting atop a woman’s head.

Twice, we stopped for beverages, once by ourselves and a second time when joining our new friends, Nicole and Gerry.

Tom enjoyed the local beer.Not a big soda drinker it was the only beverage available without sugar. Ice wasn’t available, not unusual as we’ve found in many countries.

Another view of the square as we worked our way back to the lifeboat.

The architecture continued to be impressive.

 At the pier as we were boarding the lifeboat for our return to the ship.

Looking forward to “settling down” for the next few months while we tour Italy a day or two each week, sharing the details and photos of our outings and, of course, the minutiae of our daily lives, living in a country where we don’t speak the language as we learn the culture and embrace the local customs and lifestyle.

We’ll be back tomorrow from Venice!