Passport renewal issue!!!..Yikes!!!…Photos from ten years ago today…Mykonos, Greece…

This is Mykonos! Oh, my, how beautiful!
Although we were out last night at Brownwood Paddock Square, we don’t have any new photos to share. We’d already posted photos of this fun location, although we looked for photo ops throughout the evening. Thus, we’re sharing photos from our visit to the island of Mykonos, Greece, ten years ago today. We will never forget this special day as we walked for hours through the fascinating island of stark white and blue buildings, friendly people, and local charm. It couldn’t have been more exciting and fun.
Mykonos, as we walked along the shoreline.

We enjoyed being with a lovely couple we met from Quebec, Canada, Gerry, and Nicole, both with thick French accents, and they also spoke English quite well. We’d met them on the ship and spent much time with them, engaging in fun activities. It’s always special to meet new people on cruises, some of whom we’ve stayed in touch with over the years.

As for today’s headline, a few days ago, it received an email from the U.S. State Department about our renewal passport application that read as follows:

(Please excuse the line spacing. Since I copied and pasted this, I was unable to format it properly).

“Dear Ms. Lyman:
Thank you for your recent passport application. To continue processing your request, please provide the
The following information: Please submit your valid passport book. Our records indicate that you applied for a passport book in 2020. If you do not have that passport book and/or passport card in your possession, please complete, in detail, the
enclosed Form DS-64, Statement Regarding Lost or Stolen Passport, and mail the signed form to the address on this
letter. It is the policy of Passport Services to return any expired passport book and/or passport card to the
customer unless it is damaged or mutilated. To assist with processing your application, we must receive the requested information within ninety (90) days of the date shown in this letter. Please be advised that you may receive this information via email and a postal letter. Please respond to one request only. If the information is not received or is insufficient to establish your entitlement to a U.S. passport, your application may be denied, and your citizenship evidence will be returned. By law, the passport execution and application fees are non-refundable. For general passport information or to check the status of your passport application, please visit us online at


The narrow walkways through the shops and houses were enchanting at every turn.

Of course, as I breezed through this text, I panicked a little and then slowed down and read it more thoroughly before I said anything to Tom.

Upon applying for the passport renewal, we called CIBT, the company we’re using, and explained that:

a. Our ten-year passports expired in 2022.

b. Our four-year second passports were going to expire in January 2024.

Gerry, Nicole, our Canadian French-speaking new friends, and Tom outside this quaint little church.

Since we began traveling in 2012, we’ve had three passports so far:

  1. Our first 10-year passport – expired
  2. A second 2-year passport – expired
  3. A third 4-year year passport – expires in January 2024

As we’ve explained in the past, we got second passports to enable us to mail in one of the passports when applying for visas (when required) and still have a valid passport in our possession which should always be the case. One should never be in a foreign country without a valid passport in their possession.

When we initially spoke to the online rep, we asked which passport we should mail to them; the expired ten-year or the active four-year. We were each applying for a 10-year renewal. They instructed us to send in the expired ten-year passports, which we did, which our multiple required documents.

We can’t wait to buy fresh produce in Tuscany in one week as we prepare to cook for ourselves! Mykonos didn’t disappoint.

Later, we were assigned a new rep, Arturo, and he assumed we had everything needed to apply for the renewal. This was incorrect. We should have sent in our active four-year passports with the application documents. I called Arturo immediately, and he apologized for the misunderstanding.

He sent me an email with a new FedEx paid label, which we needed to get to the FedEx store as soon as possible and mail him the four-year passport we did on Friday morning. He will receive them on Monday and will continue with the application process, assuring us we shouldn’t worry.

We’ll wait and see when we’ll get the new passports within a few weeks. We are glad we started this process so much earlier than our June 20 appointment. We feel confident, in any case, we’ll have the passports in plenty of time for our departure on July 28.

Tonight we’re going to the Havana Country Club for dinner. It looks like a great place to go on a Saturday night, and the menu looks good for both of us. Tomorrow, we’ll share photos.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 10, 2013:

An occasional stop was relaxing after the steep walk up the hilly roads. For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s evening photos…Fine tuning future bookings…One year ago today….Multiple photos from Mykonos, Greece…Wow!

Tom’s getting good at taking these sunset photos.

Shopping for food is more productive when by myself than with Tom pushing the cart. No offense intended for my DH who’s intentions are always thoughtful and supportive.

Sun and shadows, typical of the island of Madeira.

I prefer to push the cart myself in my less than a methodical pattern of flitting from one spot in the store to another in a somewhat haphazard pattern only I can understand. Yesterday, I asked Tom to bring his phone in order to read his Kindle book while waiting in the car for 40 minutes while I shopped. He made no objection. He hates to shop. 

A distant view of our house which is to the left of the white house next door to us, both of which are owned by Gina’s brother Carlos.

I slipped the half Euro coin into the slot to release the red plastic shopping cart and off I went. Having learned where most items are in the medium-sized grocery store, my cart was full by the time Tom found me 40 minutes later. With only a few items left to add as shown in the grocery shopping app on my phone, we were done in no time.

White hydrangeas.

Two hours from the time we’d left the house, the groceries were put away, the vegetables were washed (in bottled water) and drying on paper towels. I had put a dent in the chopping and dicing for dinner and finally, we could get to work on the future bookings that had been nagging at us these past few weeks.

The following items were on the “to do” list:
1.  Book tickets on the Eurostar, formerly known as the Chunnel, the under-the-English-Channel-train from France to the UK. (Apparently, it’s tacky to continue to call the train, the Chunnel). On August 16th we’ll be leaving Paris after a two-week stay to then make our way via the Eurostar to London for yet another two weeks. Are we really going to be in Paris in a little over two months?
2.  Arrange a driver from London on August 31st for a two and a half-hour drive to the pier in Harwich, UK for our next cruise, UK to Boston, USA. It’s hard to believe that we’ll be cruising again in a little over two and a half months.
3.  Rent another car online for our upcoming next 30 days in Madeira. On Saturday, we’ll return the current car and if possible, extend this particular car’s rental once we arrive at the airport in Funchal, which is easy to find.  (I apologize if this sounds confusing but, we must book the next 30-day car rental online first for the better rates). If we do it this way, we save 25 to 30% as opposed to extending the booking online or phoning. This is as a result of the long term booking.

It changes so quickly, it’s easy to take several photos.

Simultaneously, we went to work researching online in the above order, booking one after the other. With Tom’s experience in reading reviews on Cruise Critic, he found a suggestion on how to save on the price of tickets on the Eurostar at this link. We ended up paying US $210.89, EU $155.56 as opposed to US $300, EU $222, a savings of 30%.

Tom enjoys taking photos of the changing sky at sunset.

Several months ago, Tom also found a suggestion at Cruise Critic for a reputable company to drive us to Harwich, UK to the cruise pier. This was a bit pricey at US $252.21, GBP $150, EU $185.65 but was our only option unless we shared with others. We’d have gladly done that had it not been difficult to find passengers coming from the same general area in London.   

Next, we got to work on the link on our site to Expedia to book a rental from June 14 to July 15th. I handled this booking and totally screwed up the booking, making the dates from June 14th to August 15th, when we’ll be long gone from Madeira. 

At the end of the day, the ever-changing sky.

Good thing I caught my error (after the fact) and was able to cancel it in order to rebook it for the correct dates. Luckily, we weren’t charged in advance for the car rental making the cancellation seamless. I clearly knew the correct dates but I’d hit the wrong key.

He captured a puff of pink from the setting sun behind us.

The only other must-do booking in the next few weeks is our flight from Madeira to Paris on August 1st which is only a little over seven weeks away. It’s amazing to see how fast the time flies, especially when we’re loving Madeira.

By the time we finished these three tasks, it was time to finish making dinner, take a Skype call from my sister in Nevada, USA. 

Easter lilies growing nearby.

After dinner, I received another Skype call from my other sister living in California, a TV producer who was recently nominated for an Emmy Award (already a past winner).  Congrats, Julie!  Win or lose, you’re a winner in our book!

The evening zoomed by. By 11:00 pm, I was ready for bed while Tom stayed up until midnight as usual.

Colorful.  What are these?

Today, is another busy day with household tasks, laundry, and cooking, all of which I’m finding pleasant these days, more based on the expenditure of energy than the accomplishment of getting things done.

No complaints here. Not a one.

Photos from one year ago today, June 10, 2013:

Mykonos was so amazing, we couldn’t resist posting multiple photos.
We walked through narrow paths like this for a few hours in a maze-like fashion, enthralled with the beauty of this island.
Mykonos was beyond our expectations. For more photos and details from that date, please click here.

The tender took us to Mykonos, Greece…Pure heaven…Lots of photos!

Our MiFi is working again after the company Xcom Global gave it a hit from their San Diego, California location.

This is Mykonos! Oh, my!
Mykonos from the tender as we approached the dock.

Early this morning our ship maneuvered into the harbor of Mykonos, a virtual paradise of crisp white houses, similar in design, dotting the hillside of this historic and quaint Greek city. 

Our first steps into Mykonos after stepping off the tender.

Island houses scattered about the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea follow suit in their pleasing design and mystery, making one long to enter any one of these to see what lies beyond the white facades.

Mykonos, as we walked along the shoreline.

Awakening at 5:45 this morning, we dashed to the window after hearing the roar of the thrusters and anchor as the ships locks it in position, a short distance from the shore, requiring us tourists to travel by tender to step foot on the land.

Gerry, Nicole and Tom outside this quaint little church.

At 9:00 am this morning, tender tickets in hand, we’ll meet our new friends from Canada, Nicole and Gerry, to share a day’s outing by bus and on foot, exploring the sites of this interesting area.

It was s crowded in this tiny church, I couldn’t straighten out my elbows in order to take a level shot.

Having seen photos of Mykonos over the years, our curiosity was peaked to visit this appealing area and, much to our delight, we will see more today.  Ironically, since we left the US on January 3, 2013 our bucket list continues to grow, not diminish, as we hear more and more from other passenger extolling the virtues of a new place to visit.

The vendors along the boardwalk offered a wide array of fresh flowers and produce.

My current ‘song and dance” is Petra in Aqaba, Jordan and Tom continues with his passion for the Panama Canal which, up until Petra, was my favorite. The next few days could hold some treasures that possibly may top Petra for me.  But Tom, I suspect, will stand firm on his #1 choice as we travel along.

Look at those “real tomatoes!” They invited squeezing, but I kept my hands to myself.

Last night we dined at the prearranged dinner in the Windows Dining Room, with the two other couples having the time of our lives.  We’d met at the muster station drill on the first day, chatting on endlessly until the leader of the group hushed us to shut up. 

Three of the four in their group are school teachers and for some reason they were determined to sit with us to pick our brains. Of course, we were flattered, almost embarrassed, to be so chosen for such “brain picking.”  In any case, they all were fun to spend time with, each with their own interesting and unique story and perspective of life.

We can’t wait to buy fresh produce in Tuscany in one week as we prepare to begin cooking for ourselves! Mykonos didn’t disappoint.
The water was crystal clear.

At the late end of our evening, four hours later, we commented how in essence, we all are very much alike, seeking fulfillment of our own hopes and expectations of how our latter years could and should be spent. 

Amid the white everywhere on the island, the flowers offered a majestic backdrop.
The narrow walkways through the shops and houses was enchanting at every turn.
Nicole and Gerry, our French speaking new friends from Montreal were delightful touring companions.
Here’s these crazy retirees traveling the world. My pockets were so full, I look fat! No longer do I carry a purse.  Tom calls himself the “pack mule” since he always carries my overflow.

The common message:  Feel free, doing what you love and fulfillment will come. 

Tom referred to this little shop as “the Greek Victoria’s Secret!”
Shops and cafes lined the narrow stone walkways.
One narrow stone street after another.  Narrow vehicles serviced the areas deliveries and  trash pickup. It was impeccable everywhere.
Trinkets and souvenirs, not allowable in our tightly packed luggage, were in abundance in Mykonos, many passengers eagerly grabbing mementos of their travels.

 At every turn a new view awaited us, as endless lines of passengers paraded past

From time to time we’ve seen artwork from Mykonos.  Seeing it in person explained the charm this island has to artists worldwide.

Restaurants and cafes lined the boardwalk.

The streets were comparable to a maze, leading us to one more enticing view after another.
Stopping for a moment to rest, we looked up to behold  this olive tree filled with bunches of ripe olives ready for brine.

Feeling unencumbered by “stuff” that binds one to a life that can by suffocating and restricting. Spreading one’s wings, however that may be: riding a Harley in your old age, sailing in a regatta, falling from the sky, living in a jungle far from civilization, learning to sculpt, or ballet dance may all offer the tranquility we all desire. 

 The windmills of Mykonos, close to the shore for ships to unload the grain.
 Although all the buildings were white, many of the properties had colorful doors, roofs and window trim.
Churches were in abundance on this small island.
 An occasional stop was relaxing after the steep walk up the hilly roads.
Is that a bread oven up on that roof?  Ah, the days of home baked bread!
Stopping at a popular café for a cold beverage with Nicole and Gerry.
 I wandered into the main part of the café to find a restroom, which required a walk through the busy kitchen.
In the kitchen I discovered shelves of prepared foods appealing to the palate.
 Octopus?  I’d eat that!  Tom, not so much!
Prawns and what appear to be stuffed Portabello mushrooms.
 Moving right along through the crowds didn’t diminish the quality of our experience.
 Hand made fluffy scarfs.
A dirty faced kitty, among many stray cats wandering the streets.
 It was difficult to resist some foot stomping as this musician played. “Oompah!”
A single home overlooking the sea.  It would have been fun to go inside!
Our walk back to the area above where our tenders awaited the returning passengers.
As our tender pulled away from the dock to return us to the ship.
One last shot of Mykonos, a fine day to be had.

For us, we chose this life, however encumbered it may be at times, with its own weights and restrictions, ultimately leaving all decisions in our own hands.  We know we’ve made the right decision.

Tomorrow morning we’ll arrive in Istanbul but we have yet to hear as to our safety in visiting this troubled city. 

Stay tuned, we’ll be back with news.

Sea day…On our way to Mykonos Greece, arriving in the morning…

No photos today due to poor Internet connection on a sea day with many passengers on the ship using WiFi.

On our prior seven cruises since 1/3/2013, our captains were rather chatty, announcing destinations, weather condition, points of interest plus generally anything at all that may peak the curiosity of the passengers and crew. Not so much here on the Norwegian Spirit. 

He’d hardly said “boo” until today when we attended a “Latitudes” members only, cocktail party at 1:00 pm for the 419 passengers on board who have attained a certain number of points starting at Bronze, then to Silver, Gold and ultimately to Platinum. 

Currently, we are Silver members, but when this cruise ends, we’ll be Gold members, allowing certain privileges, none of which are relevant to us at this point, other than the 15 minutes of free Internet time and invitations to a few cocktail parties with free drinks and appetizers.

Thus, today at the party, the captain finally spoke at the party as many of us eagerly await the cruise line’s decision to as to whether or not we’ll be allowed to get off the ship safely in Istanbul with the news of ongoing
civil unrest. He didn’t provide us with a definitive answer at this point. From there, we’ll have to make of our own decision, should they give us the “go ahead,” as to whether or not we’ll choose to get off the ship to tour
Istanbul.  With all the amazing comments we’ve heard, we’d love to see Istanbul.

However, if we can’t get off the ship in Istanbul in a few days, we’ll hopefully be able to venture out in Izmir, Turkey in order to take advantage of the tour to Ephesus, supposedly comparable in its wonders to Petra, Jordan, my favorite all time places to visit since we began our travels over seven months ago.

We’ve made it through the Middle East without incident (aside from illness), one would think an eastern Mediterranean cruise would be relatively safe. But, as we continue to watch the BBC world news daily (only news we can get on the TV), violence continues to rage everywhere in the world, including in the US (based on the latest shootings in Los Angeles county a few days ago). 

Tom and I have a theory that perhaps some share with us: that the terror throughout the world has been going on for years and its only the media’s constant announcements of these events that bring it forefront in our minds.  “World at War” then and “World at War” now, generation after generation, leaving each civilization suffering the ravages of political, religious and social unrest. 

When will it ever end? Never. As long as humans have the ability to think, to be coerced and manipulated and to strongly uphold their  beliefs, right or wrong in society’s view, this state of terrifying expression will continue, leaving those in its wake at dangerous risk. 

Drive-by shootings occurred only 1/2 hour from us in our “old lives.”  We chose to avoid these areas as much as we possibly could. Tom’s mother, a dear woman, passed away in 2008, having spent many years living in that kind neighborhood. In many cases, it’s poverty that increased the risks in certain areas. Perhaps, in many of these worldwide high risk areas, it’s not only the criminals, but where you happen to be at any given time.

Tom and I don’t know any “high risk” people (that we’re aware of) but we’ve increased our exposure as to where we will happen to be at any given moment.  We proceed with caution…possessing a desire not to diminish our experiences while we continue to grow our range of experiences.

After all, in the past month we’ve been to Egypt, Jordan, the Suez Canal, the Gulf of Aden, Strait of Hormuz, United Arab Emirates plus we’ve traveled past Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, Yemen and Oman, albeit with a bit of adventure, coming out safely on the other side, having loved every moment while feeling safe most of the time.

Soon, we’ll know how as to the safety of visiting Istanbul, Turkey deciding from there our course of action and sharing it all with you here.

Tonight, a dress-up night on a sea day, we’ve been invited to join a party of four from the US for dinner in the Windows dining room. With our dressy clothing long gone to lighten our load, we’ll make the best of it, me in a casual long dress, spruced up with accessories and Tom, in black long sleeved dress shirt and dress pants.
With this as our last cruise for the next 17 or more months, we’re at ease to no longer hauling dress up clothing. 

Updates: Xcom Global responded to our frantic inquiries, explaining they have reset the MiFi and it should be working by tomorrow morning. Secondly, the property owners of the house in Tuscany have graciously agreed to accept our credit card payment for the two and a half month rental, making paying the balance much easier for us. Plus on the 16th, they’ll meet us at the property at 3:00 pm to let us in and familiarize us as to how everything works. 
Moving right along, photos coming after tomorrow’s visit to Mykonos, Greece!