Seven days and counting…

Sports cars drove through the winding and narrow roads of Bovegio, Tuscany, Italy. This is an MG, year and model unknown.

Today’s photos are from a post on this date in 2013. For more, please click here.

It’s noon on Friday. We just finished a nice breakfast of bacon and eggs and will dine out tonight at Brownwood Paddock Square. We plan to arrive after 5:00 pm when the outdoor karaoke has ended, and most likely, we’ll be able to get two seats at the bar. As usual, we’ll stay about an hour and then head to Cody’s Original Roadhouse for yet another hopefully good dinner.

A Porsche, year and model unknown.

This will be our last Friday night out in The Villages since we arrived almost three months ago. We accomplished what we came here for…renewing our ten-year passports and, in the process, seeing several of our friends who live in Florida. We didn’t have an opportunity to see all of our “snowbird” friends who come to Florida in the winter to escape the cold weather up north.

By the time we arrived at the end of April, some of our friends had already left for cooler climates during the summer months. Once we’re in Minnesota for a month in September and part of October, we’re hoping to see some of those friends, those who may not have left yet for the upcoming winter.

Another Porsche, year and model unknown.

This will be our most extended stay in Minnesota since we began our travels in 2012 which will give us lots of valuable time with our family, including our grown kids and grandkids. Plus, Tom has many family members in Minnesota, including. His sisters spend the summer and early fall in Minnesota before they head to Arizona for the winter to get away from Minnesota, the frozen tundra.

Today is easy with two loads of laundry washing and drying and with little else to do. Soon the Salvation Army will pick up my eight pounds of clothes. After sending Tom’s suits and my dresses yesterday, we’ve lightened our load by about 14 pounds, 6.35 kg.

This is a Mercedes, year and model unknown.

When we begin packing on Monday, we’ll have a better idea of our baggage weight and can make any adjustments we may need before departure. We’ve added some new items while we’ve been here, but nothing of any substantial weight. The heaviest was my white jeans for “white night” on the Azamara cruise, coming up first.

On the Azamara cruise, guests can use laundry facilities for a fee. On the next cruise, Celebrity, we have a high enough rating for their Captain’s Club to each get one complimentary bag of laundry and two dry-cleaned items, and one pressed item each.

This morning, I tried something new for my head, a freezer hot and cold pack. I’d tried cold, and it helped, but nowhere near as much as the heat helped. As a result, I ordered a neck and head heating pad from Amazon that heats using a UBS plug. Thus, I can use it on the plane and in our hotels and cabins without needing a microwave to heat the gel packet. Also, it will work plugged into my portable charger.

This must be a Triumph.

I’m continuing to do acupressure exercises and particular movements to improve the condition, which is about 50% better than weeks ago. I hope the improvements will continue over time.

That’s it for today, folks.

Be well.

..Photo from ten years ago today, July 21, 2013:

Is this an MG? Year? Notice, at a distance, the red Ferrari or Lamborghini. A car show, per se, driving through the winding roads of Boveglio. For more, please click here.

Eight days and counting…Making last minute decisions..

The interior of the “theatre” in the square, where, with mouths agape, we viewed each photo with our new friends encouraging us along, telling stories mainly in Italian, so proud to share their history with us. It was a night we’ll never forget. Yesterday, we said thank you to Michela, the owner of Not Only Pinocchio B & B; she suggested we walk down to the Bar Ferrari in the “square” around 9:00 pm when the locals mingle on Friday night (actually other nights also from what we heard). She offered to meet us to “make the presentation” of us, as she said in her easy-to-understand broken English.

Note: Today’s photos are from a post on this date, ten years ago, while living in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, for three months. See the post here.

This morning, Tom drove the golf cart to Colony Square to get a haircut while I stayed behind to work on today’s post. Also, he stopped at Publix Market for a few last-minute items. He wasn’t thrilled with his haircut since the barber left it too long on the top, but after he showers soon, he’ll know more. I suggested he return for more of a trim, but you know, most guys don’t like to return anything, let alone a haircut.

None of the photos were dated, but the clothing may indicate the early 1900s.

Last night, we had an idea to ship the suit Tom purchased for the later canceled Queen Mary 2 cruise (due to Covid-19), along with my dressy dresses, to our mailing service to be held, until sometime in the distant future when we may need them. None of our upcoming cruises have dress-up nights, so we do not need those items. It costs $25 to ship them the slowest way, but it will give us lots more room in our bags.

On Monday, we’ll pack the bag to be shipped to Minnesota, and then everything left will be packed in the bags we’re taking with us to Scotland and the following cruise, back to Boston, onward to Henderson, and then on to Minneapolis. It should all work out.

Based on the clothing, this wedding procession appears it could have been in the 1950s. This was the unpaved road leading to the church and cemetery we highlighted in the post-dated July 16, 2013.

Now, we’re finishing off all of the food in the freezer and refrigerator and are doing better than ever. If we have any unused items, we’ll leave them here for the housekeeper or the next guests that stay at this house.

This morning we received a Whatsapp message from a couple who will be sailing on our first cruise with us with their cabin on the same deck and down the corridor from us. They asked if we wanted to meet for dinner in Edinburgh. But, as it turned out, our hotel was far from the restaurants they suggested, but convenient for us to go from the airport to the port of Leith a few days later.

These are the inner workings of the clock tower that clangs four times an hour, often irregularly, located next door to us. We laughed when the locals mentioned how close we were to the sound of the clock, using the typical head and hands signal one uses to indicate sleep, as they inquired about our ability to sleep through the noise.

We’d have loved to meet with them for dinner on one of the three nights we’ll be there, but it doesn’t look like it will work out. Instead, we will get together for dinner on one of the nights on the cruise, which is always fun. One of the main reasons we enjoy cruising is the easy socialization with other passengers.

Now that Tom has returned from his outing, we’re staying in today. As is the case all over the US and other parts of the world, the high heat will keep us indoors in air-conditioned comfort. The dew point this afternoon will be 85, will temperatures around 97F, 36C; way too hot to be sitting outdoors right now.

The construction of the road to our 300-year-old stone house. It’s hard to conceive of the degree of manual labor required to build the steep roads in this area in this era.

In any case, tomorrow afternoon, we’ll be heading out to Brownwood Paddock Square for the evening, spending most of our time indoors to avoid the equally hot weather. But, surely, the ride in the open golf cart will be hot. We’re experiencing heat here in Florida, even more uncomfortable than in South Africa in the worst of summer.

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back with more tomorrow and look forward to having more “meaty” information to post.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 20, 2013:

Blurry photo. We were invited to a party in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. Handing off the camera to a kind gentleman to take our picture, He must have accidentally changed the settings to “out of focus background,” which I overlooked until this morning. After our fabulous night, I couldn’t resist posting photos, although they were all out of focus. Daniela is in the photo with us at my left and Armenia at her left, sitting on the steps. For more, please click here.

Fun night out on the town!…Only two more weekend nights to go…

These are the locked iron gates closing off easy access to the church. We’d have to walk through dense weeds to get closer to the church tower. Knowing there were many ticks in the grass, we drove to the other side without getting closer to the church.

Note: Today’s photos are from this date in 2013, when we spent three months in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, as shown in this post.

It’s a lovely Sunday! We’re watching the weekly news series “Sunday Morning”; the bedding is in the washer, and we’re looking forward to enjoying a quiet day at the house on yet another cloudy and stormy day. Tonight’s dinner is already made and ready to go into the oven later, and all I have to make is a salad to go along with it.

This unattached separate building on the church grounds may have been the original church.

We love easy days like this and never feel bored having no specific plans. If we feel like it, we may stream a movie, a perfect thing to do on a rainy Sunday. We still have another week until we have to start packing and deciding on what items we’ll ship in the suitcase heading to Minnesota before our arrival on September 9, to be held for us by the hotel where we’ll stay.

A part of the entrance to the larger church.

Since I am feeling better, I’m not dreading packing. When Karen and Rich were here on Friday for dinner, I loaded up all our excess food for them to take home, items we wouldn’t be able to use by the time we depart. Also, with the good storage in this house, with plenty of space in the walk-in closet and drawers in the bedrooms, the packing will be easier than usual.

This translates to: “the companionship SS V Del Rois,” which appears to be the name of someone of significance to these church grounds.

We must pack with this in mind with limited storage space on cruise ships. I like to unpack everything once we get into our cabin since there is no space to store an opened piece of luggage, as there often is in a hotel. After the cruises end, we won’t need to unpack at the resort when we get to Nevada since the enormous rooms have several luggage racks.

Ferrari family members from Boveglio.

Once we get to Minnesota, since we’re staying a month, we’ll need to unpack. When we get ready to leave Minnesota to go to Galapagos, we’ll have to purchase two cloth-sided duffle bags, which is all that is allowed on the small 16-passenger ship. We’ll leave the bulk of our luggage at the hotel where we started in Ecuador, which we’ll return after the cruise has ended, which is already booked through the cruise line and included in the cruise fare.

We were overlooking the iron railing around the cemetery.

Last night, we drove to City Fire to lounge at the bar for a while before we went to Cody’s Original Roadhouse for dinner. By 5:30 pm, we hopped in the golf cart, drove the short distance to the restaurant, found a good parking spot for the golf cart, and headed to their indoor bar, an excellent place for people-watching and chatting.

Tom, obsessed, was fascinated with the stories revealed by the many headstones, names, dates, and photos.

At a preferred booth by 6:00 pm, we perused the menu and chose our dinners; scallops and salad for me and ground sirloin with mashed potatoes and salad for Tom. As always, the food was excellent, and the service was equally good. Our bill was $52 before a generous tip to our waiter.

We were back at our holiday home by 8:30, streamed an episode of “The Good Doctor,” and got to bed by midnight for a good night’s sleep. This upcoming week will be easy with few plans while we ramp up for the following week when we depart on Friday.

Enjoy your Sunday, and be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 16, 2013:

It was surprising that many of the headstones in the cemetery in Boveglio weren’t older. The earliest date we saw was in the early 1800s. However, the oldest markers were embedded into the surrounding wall and were difficult to read due to age. For more photos, please click here.

Photos from Tuscany, ten years ago today…Off on the golf cart soon…

It appeared that this dilapidated house in Boveglio, Tuscany, may have been occupied; photos today from this post.

Today’s photos were posted ten years ago while we lived in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, in a 300-year-old stone house, where most private dwellings were attached. Early on in our travels, staying in the house and the area was a particularly enriching experience.

The language barrier wasn’t much of an issue for us, although no one in the area spoke English. But, we managed to meet a few neighbors and were invited to a party in the square, where we were the only English-speaking attendees. Nonetheless, we had a great time at the party and during the three months living in the quaint little village of Boveglio.

More blooming flowers. A few days later, the many lavender bushes in our yard began to blossom. I wish we could do “scratch and sniff” online for Tuscany’s sweet smells.

The cultural differences were astounding, yet we found commonalities to make us feel right at home. People can be warm, friendly, and welcoming everywhere in the world, and we never felt like outsiders for a moment. Even our weekly housekeeper brought us delicious baked pies and goodies, none of which I could eat, but Tom savored.

We had two large rectangle garden boxes on the unusual veranda (photos to come later), where we could pick zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. It was worth it to do the treacherous climb to the veranda to care for and choose the vegetables that owners Lisa and Luca had started for our three-month stay in the summer months.

These hills were much steeper in person than they appear in the photos.

Wow! What an experience it was, one that we treasure over and over again as we recall many events that transpired while we were there, such as a sports car tour that drove through the winding roads, the parades on the steep hills with almost everyone in the area participating; Tom’s first experience in an earthquake; shopping from the weekly produce truck; walking the hills to the local Bar Ferrari; the frequent sound of the hundreds-years-old church bells ringing; visiting the village of Collodi (the “birthplace” of Pinocio) and on and on.

I could write a book on our experiences in that little village. (But, I won’t. I write enough here). What a joy it was! And when we talk about it, we can’t wipe the smile off our faces. But, then again, there were the windows without screens with horse flies and bees flying into the house; the summer heat with no fans or aircon; the lack of a reliable WiFi signal, and the long drive to the market on treacherous winding mountain roads.

This is my favorite hill (yea, right!)

But, as always, we adapted and were happy to be there every single day. We couldn’t stream shows with the poor WiFi signal, and the tiny TV was all in Italian. We played cards and read books we’d already downloaded on our phones. The kitchen was sparse of utensils and gadgets, but we made do and had beautiful dinners savoring the area’s bounty.

Would we return to Boveglio? No, but we cherish the memory of the experience as we do so many in this past almost 11 years of world travel.

An inviting doorway. Wonder what’s on the other side.

As for today, as soon as I upload today’s post, we’re heading out on the golf cart to the post office station, the petrol station, and Walmart. We haven’t been in a Walmart store since we were in Hawaii in 2014. Not a big fan of the store, but we need a few groceries and miscellaneous toiletries, and it will be fun to wander through the store. While we’re there, Tom will refuel the golf cart.

Otherwise, we won’t go out until we head to Brownwood on Wednesday afternoon to play bingo. Our daubers are waiting to be used. We’d planned to go last week, but a bad storm prevented us from doing so. There’s an 80% chance of rain again this Wednesday, but it will be mostly clear in the afternoon.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 26, 2013:

Lisa and Luca presented us with this basket of cherries from the tree growing in our yard after they’d seen us admiring the tree. Lisa, speaking no English and us, no Italian, it was impossible to explain my restrictive diet that forbids any fruit sugars. Tom, fortunately, may have a few each day, while I’ve merely enjoyed their beauty. We thanked them profusely, impressed by their thoughtfulness each day since we arrived. For more photos, please click here.

Ten years ago today, Livorno, Italy…Videos from our time in Europe…

Historic buildings lined the streets in Livorno, Italy. See the post here.

In yesterday’s post, we wrote about our lack of interest in revisiting Europe. You may read that post here.

As we sailed on three cruises in the Mediterranean ten years ago, we fulfilled most of our desires to see Europe, especially after spending weeks in Paris and London, three months living in Boveglio, Italy, and then another almost three months in Madeira, Portugal. We had a great time, reveling in history, historical buildings, and classic old churches.

Overall, we spent about a year in and around Europe. We often went sightseeing at famous sites and many more obscure locations, always searching for a unique experience. Our desire for uniqueness was usually fulfilled, and we were rarely disappointed.

One of our videos on YouTube was indicative of how much we treasured the history of Italy, as seen here:

Then, of course, was the video we took after we sailed on a gourmet dinner cruise on the Seine River in Paris in 2014, as shown below. Such a fantastic experience. We loved it all.

It was these and hundreds of other experiences in Europe that we found to be worthwhile and enriching as we’ve traveled the world beginning in 2012.

We spent enough time, off and on, in Barcelona, Spain, visiting some popular tourist sites, especially enthralled with Sagrada Familia, the famous church under construction for over 100 years. Fascinating!

We could go on, and on about sites we visited and unique experiences we had while in Europe, but we won’t be any more redundant than we’ve been the past few days and in the past. Long-term readers have read the stories and seen the videos in prior posts.

As we pulled into the port of Livorno, Italy…

Often people we meet are surprised we don’t often return to Europe after all these years, and someday we may, should we find ourselves longing to do so. We’ve observed that many long-term nomads spend much time in Europe, often returning to their favorite spots.

But it’s all a matter of personal preference. We frequently discuss where in the world we’d like to visit in the future. After all, I am 75 years old, and Tom is 70. It’s not as if we can continue for another ten or twenty years. Old age will catch up with us eventually, and we’ll need to change where, how, and when we travel.

It’s a hard reality neither of us cares to dwell on. For now, we’re still finding ourselves excited and physically capable of continuing to visit those places that appeal to us. Although we’ve been to all seven continents with many repeated visits already, we can now pick and choose what makes the most sense to us.

Cruise ships and ferries lined up to let off the tourists to explore.

Cruising remains one of our favorite means of traveling, but we no longer have much interest in sailing on our former favorite cruise line, Royal Caribbean. Although, in October, we will sail on a Celebrity on our cruise to the Galapagos Islands, but it’s only on a 16-passenger ship.

Today, we’re paying the huge final payment for this cruise that made us choke, but it was one of those memorable cruises we’d talked about for years. That dream will be fulfilled with exquisite sightings and hundreds of photos. We are looking forward to this and other smaller ship sailings we are embarking on beginning in a few months.

Why did we stop sailing on Royal Caribbean’s large ships? We have no interest in sailing on giant family-oriented cruise ships geared toward children’s activities and venues. We don’t need water slides, amusement park rides, games, or events that appeal to families traveling with young children.

Also, after the pandemic and our awful experience with Omicron, we feel smaller ships are more appropriate for us. Children are allowed on Azamara, on which we’ll be sailing in about seven weeks, but no accommodations or venues are dedicated to children. The quiet, low-key ambiance appeals to us the most.

This evening we’re meeting with two of our readers and look forward to a delightful time once again.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 7, 2013:

That is exactly how we envision Italy. This was Livorno. For more, please click here.

Day #122 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Seven years ago, a fun recipe…Our bread-free submarine sandwich recipe…

It’s essential to wash the dirt off of lettuce. If it is organic, careful rinsing removes dirt and tiny green worms we found on the organic produce in Italy, where we were at the time of these photos. If it’s not organic, careful, repeated rinsing in cold water may remove some pesticides. Usually, we dry it with a clean white kitchen towel or paper towels, wrap the leftover lettuce in the white towel, and place it in the fridge in the towel, which will keep it fresh for days. For the recipe below, wash and dry eight large romaine lettuce leaves. Usually, the giant leaves are closest to the outside of the bunch.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from July 23, 2013, while in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. See the link here for more photos.

Slice fresh tomatoes, purple (or yellow) onions as you prep for making the sandwich.

When I noticed the post from seven years ago today, while living high in the mountains of Tuscany, I couldn’t help but smile when we saw it consisted of the step-by-step instructions for making one of our favorite meals, the bread-free submarine sandwich.

This sliced Emmental cheese or sliced Provolone cheese seems to add the most flavor to the sandwich. Try to avoid using overly processed American or cheddar cheese. There is no yellow/orange cheddar cheese in Italy since they don’t use dye to color it.

With only two or three grams of carbohydrates per sandwich, this is an ideal meal along with low-carb coleslaw or green salad for a fun dinner, almost feeling like a delightful carry-out or a takeaway meal for movie night.

Place the meats on a plate in preparation for assembling the sandwich. This mayonnaise was the best mayo we’d ever used, with no chemicals, few ingredients. 

Seeing the process of making this bread-free sandwich makes our mouths water. Wouldn’t we love one of these for tonight’s dinner, along with a big bowl of fresh, crunchy low-carb coleslaw?

On the days we made the sandwiches, we usually had bacon and eggs for breakfast, made extra bacon for the sandwiches, refrigerated until we assembled the sandwiches.

One may ask, this looks easy enough to make. Why couldn’t we put it together in our hotel room, when we have a small refrigerator? Most likely, we’d have trouble finding the meats, cheeses, and parchment paper online. Then there would be the concern over using undrinkable water to wash the lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. Too much trouble at this point.

Parchment paper is readily available at any grocery store. We used it almost every day to cover the bottom of any pan going into the oven (don’t use it on top of the stove) to reduce the cleanup and ease in getting the food, such as pizza, out of the pan. It’s excellent for baking, but one must not use it over 375 degrees, or it may burn. Do not use it when broiling. If you eat potatoes or sweet potatoes, parchment is ideal for making oven fries. Toss pre-cut potatoes with olive oil and salt and place in a preheated oven to (190C), 375F, baking for 30 minutes or until brown, tossing every so often. Best fries ever. For this sandwich recipe, we cut two pieces of about (75 cm) 30 inches each to wrap the ingredients as one would wrap a tortilla.

We haven’t prepared a meal in six months. Also, we have no space to put it all together. It’s simply not practical at this time. We’ll wait until we’re situated in a holiday home somewhere in the world and can make the process fun, as will be the case when we finally have the opportunity to prepare some of our other favorite meals.

To begin making the sandwich, lay two large romaine lettuce leaves, overlapping, end to end, centered in the parchment paper, the long way. Be sure the lettuce is dry to avoid a soggy mess later.

Tom is chomping at the bit for some beef and pork (although we can order bacon), which has not been on my mind quite as much as his. More so, I’ve been thinking about fish, salads, and delicious one-pot dishes we’ve loved over the years. A glass of wine would be nice, too.

Place the turkey or chicken slices atop the lettuce, cover with tomatoes. It’s OK to add more if you’d like.  We prefer this smaller amount.

This recipe isn’t only for those avoiding bread, carbs, or starches. It’s so tasty. It would appeal to any family members or singles who enjoy eating a wrap, in this case, a pseudo-wrap.

Place the cheese atop the tomatoes adding the mayonnaise using the spatula or broad knife.

Also, if one prefers, they can use the simple ingredients inside a jumbo tortilla wrap of any other type of round or oval sandwich wrap. Two critical elements are the bacon, cooked well, and a good quality mayonnaise, slathered on as shown in today’s photos.

Ham slices in Italy are different than deli ham slices in other countries, more fatty with no nitrates, but less flavorful than ham slices in the US. One can add or delete any items in this sandwich. But, the most essential things for maximum flavor are bacon, cheese, and mayonnaise. Sliced roast beef also works well when available. We would have purchased roast beef in Italy but, it was INR 3139, US $42 a pound, so we were content with the ham and sliced chicken.

A few of our readers wrote last time we posted this recipe was, “Can these “subway sandwiches” be made in advance, and will they keep overnight?”

Layer the cooked bacon and onion slices.

As with any sandwich, they aren’t as great the next day. But, if you leave out the tomato and lettuce, they’ll keep for three days. Unfortunately, the sandwich will have to be fully unwrapped to add the tomato and lettuce a few days later, but wrapping the parchment paper is easy if wrapped tightly. Unwrap, add the tomatoes and lettuce, and then re-wrap the parchment using the same parchment paper.

After layering all the ingredients, lay two more dry pieces of the romaine lettuce atop, matching up the length of the sandwich to avoid a lot of overlap on the ends.

Is the parchment paper a must? Can you use waxed paper or tin foil? Preferably not since the waxed paper doesn’t hold it together, and tin foil is OK only if used to additionally wrap a parchment-wrapped sandwich for added insulation.

Please fold the paper over the sandwich on edge closest to you, beginning to roll it tightly. Re-wrap it if it’s not tight enough. After a few times, you’ll get the hang of it.

As mentioned in the previous post on this date in 2013, we started making these after visiting a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop before we left the US and were delighted to eat their version of the bread-free sandwich, the “Unwich.” 

Tuck one end over as if you were gift-wrapping a package.

If you live near a Jimmy John’s store, you can avoid the fuss and buy from them. But, our version is much heartier, more filling, and tastier than the fast-food version. 

While in the US, we purchased the meats from Costco since they sell gluten-free, sugar-free, and nitrate-free meats. Surprisingly, we’ve had no trouble finding such meats in other parts of the world. 

Continue to roll it tightly, tucking in both ends, leaving one end loose for unwrapping it as it is eaten. Using a few well-placed wide rubber bands helps those who may have difficulty pulling the paper down neatly.

If sliced, good-quality deli meats aren’t available in your area, you can use leftover thinly sliced roast beef, chicken breast, and lean ham, removing all fat from the edges of the slices. 

The only countries we haven’t been able to get bacon have been those that don’t sell pork due to religious beliefs. We didn’t make these sandwiches in those countries since bacon is such a vital ingredient for the superb flavor.

The final product, tightly wrapped, ready to chill, and enjoy with a side salad.

Here’s the list of ingredients (for two to three sandwiches):

Jess & Tom’s Unwich Sandwiches
One large ripe tomato, sliced medium thickness
One large purple onion, thinly sliced 
8-12 large washed and thoroughly dried romaine lettuce leaves
Four slices Provolone cheese (or other preferred sliced cheese)
6 ounces sliced deli ham
6 ounces sliced deli turkey or chicken
6 ounces sliced roast beef or other preferred sliced meat
Six slices of cooked bacon
Mayonnaise (Tom doesn’t like mayo but in this sandwich, he does. Give it a try or use another sandwich spread you prefer).
Parchment paper, cut into two 30′ long pieces.

If two sandwiches are made from this list of ingredients, they will be huge. I often eat half of one for dinner and the second half the next day, not minding the somewhat soggy tomato and lettuce.

For us, we prepare sufficiently sized meals to last three dinners, enabling us to cook less often. In those cases, we triple these ingredients and make up a fresh sandwich each evening. We place all the meats in a Tupperware-type container with a lid, and they easily keep for three days.

We can’t wait to prepare our meals again!


Photo from one year ago today, July 23, 2019:

Cattle along the driveway from our house in Connemara, Ireland, could have been a mom, dad, and calves. For more photos, please click here.

Day #120 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Confusing India visa extension…

We stopped along a beach to enjoy the views in Madeira, Portugal.

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Today’s photos are from July 21, 2014, while in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal. See the link here for more photos.

I don’t know where to begin. It’s all so confusing. I wrote to India’s visa department, explicitly asking the following question in an email:

We are US citizens that arrived in India on January 31, 2020, for a two-month tour of the country.

Close up of flower at the beach.
Since lockdown started, we’ve been in a hotel in Mumbai near the airport, observing all safety requirements.
Our India visa stamp states November 19, 2020. Does this date apply to us, or will our visas expire on July 28, 2020, 180 days after entry?
Do we apply now for an extension, or do we wait until the international airport fully opens?
Most beaches are rocky in Madeira. Wooden planks are provided for sunbathers to avoid sitting on the rocks. On many beaches, these thatched umbrellas are also provided. 
We will not be returning to the US and will fly to some other country once the international flights are fully open and…when a country will accept us with US passports with recent time spent in India.”
Several hours later, I received the following form response, exactly as written:
“Hello Dear,
Thank you for your email. All foreign visitors can extend their visas through the FRRO/FRO services website / Mobile app. It is an entirely online process, and you don’t need to visit FRRO/FRO office unless you get a call from FRRO/FRO for some specific reason. For more information, please see here
Many roads along the cliffs were wet from water running down the mountains.
None of this answered our specific questions, leaving us totally in the dark. This morning after 9:00 am, I called no less than five phone numbers indicated on their site, none of which had an answer or voice mail message.
Suppose we apply for an extension, a complicated and time-consuming process, including attaching numerous documents. In that case, it’s only suitable for 30 days to fly by in a flash, and still, international flights won’t be available. Will we have to continue with the laborious process every 30 days until we finally leave?
From what we could determine, this small one-lane rock tunnel was ancient.
Fortunately, there are no fees to file based on COVID-19. There are no specific references on any of their sites as to how to handle this situation. This morning, after the phoning efforts, we both started the process when even the registration process to file was a confusing and cumbersome operation.
We kept receiving messages that the process didn’t accept the one-time OPT (one-time password) we received by email, nor did it take the “captcha” letters and numbers we tried to enter, doing it carefully each time. 
A bridge over a ravine.
Finally, I was registered, but Tom’s registration seemed impossible. With years of online experience, usually, a process like this would be a piece of cake. Oh, not now. We’ll try again later after I complete my application after uploading this post.
In the middle of all this, I had to do my walking, which I’ve beefed up further to 8500 steps a day. Also, I had to go downstairs to pay our bill, which we do every 11 days since we cannot book the hotel for more than 11 days at a time. We tried booking for 14, 21, 25, 28 days, etc., to no avail. 
A fast-running small creek in the ravine.
Thus, we have to go downstairs every 11 days to pay the bill (and for meals), which is annoying when there may be more germs in the elevators and down there. I scrubbed everything, including myself, upon return. Thank goodness I’ve already taken care of this today.
Amid all of this, I kept thinking that my mind would be more at ease if I uploaded today’s post. As a result, I am rushing through with this visa thing on my mind.
A fountain in the center of a round-about.
Yes, even in lockdown with few obligations, we can still get caught up in the responsibilities of daily life. And yes, we feel frustrated and annoyed at times due to such responsibilities, especially when we run into difficulties, as has transpired today.
May your day be safe and uncomplicated!

Photo from one year ago today, July 21, 2019:

Clouds reflecting on a body of water in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.

Day #119 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…More dreadful travel news…

We handed off the camera to a kind gentleman to take this blurry photo in the square when we were invited to a party in Boveglio.

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Today’s photos are from July 20, 2013, while in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. See the link here for more photos.

As of yet, the prospects for the future aren’t looking good for us leaving India anytime soon. With India now in the #3 spot in the world with South Africa, having moved into the #5 spot, with the most cases of COVID-19, our hopes to travel from Mumbai to Marloth Park are rapidly declining.

The interior of the “theatre” in the square, our mouths were agape as we viewed each photo with our new friends encouraging us along, telling stories mainly in Italian, so proud to share their history with us. It was a night we’ll never forget.

Once the international flights open in Mumbai, we’ll have 30 days to fly out of India based on our visa and current restrictions. I wrote to the immigration department asking for more details impacting us if no country will accept us. What will we be able to do based on India’s visa requirements? 

Will we be able to get a visa extension beyond the 30-day mandate from the time international flights resume? Their offices are closed, but they are accepting email inquiries. Hopefully, we’ll receive a response soon.

Many of us have old photos such as these of our relatives, deceased and living, bringing us a warm sense of our roots and family history.

Our visa stamp indicates we’re allowed to stay until November 19, 2020, but in tiny print below, it states no foreigners may last longer than 180 days in a single stay. By July 28, we’ll have been in India for 180 days.

In the interim, we’ll continue to follow online updates on their visa website. This is a bit unclear and confusing at this point, and we’re hoping for further clarification by email.

None of the photos were dated, but the clothing may indicate the early 1900’s.

As for South Africa, we doubt they’ll allow US citizens to enter the country well into 2021. Subsequently, we have to put our hopes to return to Marloth Park on hold for an extended period.

Now, as we continue to stay updated on flights and borders opening up, we may have to consider some options that are not as desirable as we’d like. Will shopping in local markets be safe in more crowded populations in many countries? Also, will we stay in another hotel somewhere or rent a holiday home?

Based on the clothing, this wedding procession appears it could have been in the 1950s on a now-paved road in the neighborhood.

Europe is out of the question when US citizens aren’t allowed to enter. Some Caribbean islands with low numbers of the virus accept US citizens, which we may consider when flights open out of India. A few countries in Africa will accept us at this point.
Still, the uncertainty remains, which above all, is the most challenging aspect of this unusual situation. As planners, not knowing what is next is frustrating and can easily monopolize our thoughts.

This is the unpaved road closest to the street near the church that leads to Bar Ferrari. We walked up this road while in Boveglio.

In the worst-case, we can always return to the US for some time, but our realities still cloud this possibility: 1. Too many cases of the virus and the necessities of stops at many airports required to get anywhere we may be willing to wait it out and, 2. Our insurance only pays outside the USA, not while we’re visiting the US, a risky scenario in light of the risk of COVID-19 and the added exposure in the US. 

If we convert to Medicare, we’re stuck paying at least INR 89912, US $1200 a month for life for both of us for Medicare Part B and necessary supplements, which is irreversible once instituted. 

There was no road to our 300-year-old vacation home beside the walking path for residents and animals in this photo. 

If we continue our world travels, this Medicare will do us little good outside the US). Right now, we’re paying about INR 31844, US $425 a month (for both of us) with excellent coverage and low co-pays, anywhere in the world except the US.

What a dilemma! In the interim, we strive to remain optimistic as we stick to our comforting routines to maintain our health and our sanity.

Stay healthy. Stay safe.

Photo from one year ago today, July 20, 2019:

Note the different sizes of her horns as seen in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.

Day #118 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Recalling beautiful artwork in Madeira, Portugal in 2014…

It’s hard to believe this is needlepoint. This piece was hanging above the sofa, taking up a huge portion of the wall.  Gina’s mama is quite skilled, although no longer able to do this work. 

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from July 19, 2018, while in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal. See the link here for more photos.
A smaller sidewall held this stunning piece.
While in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal, in 2014, we were faced with the reality of living in a highly cultural neighborhood where few spoke English, not even our landlord, the lovely Gina, with whom we’re still in touch on Facebook today.
Gina spoke a few English words and continues to learn more as the years have passed to facilitate the needs of her customers from all over the world who are (were before COVID) renting her beautiful properties on the magical island off the coast of Africa. 
This piece was huge, filling a substantial wall space.  
Portuguese is the language spoken in Madeira, which in many ways is similar to Spanish and Italian. We could decipher most written words, menus, and road signs, but speaking and understanding the spoken language was another issue.
Somehow, during the 2½ months, we spent on the island, we got along quite well. No doubt, we missed engaging in general conversations with others, but we had many cruises ahead of us where we’d have an opportunity to socialize.
We can only imagine the effort that went into the preparation for the design and colors.
Gina included us in many local activities and aspects of cultural life on the island. We were blessed with a plethora of delightful experiences, which may be found in our archives in the second half of May, all of June, and July 2014.
One of the many memorable experiences Gina shared with us was a tour of her and her husband Carlo’s home that Carlo had built. The extended family is in the home building business and combined. They have several holiday homes.
The detail in the art is breathtaking.
We noticed the amazing needlework on the walls that Gina’s mother had crafted over 60 years during the tour. Today’s photos include some of those exquisite works of art we so enjoyed during the time, prompting us to take pictures which we share again today.
As for the moment, I just spent the past 90 minutes on the phone with my sister Julie and niece Kely who have spent 11 days in Nevada attending to my sister Susan’s end-of-life affairs. 
Typically, we’ve seen patterns such as this in needlepoint.
They shared the details with me to ensure I felt a part of the process. The time is near, but one never knows how long a beloved family member may linger while in hospice care. At this point, she has no quality of life, and indeed, when she’s ready, she’ll let go. 
As much as we try to prepare ourselves when a loved one’s time is near, there is no way to avoid the sorrow when the time comes. During these times of COVID-19, it becomes all the more sorrowful when unable to be at the side of our loved ones.
Be safe. Be well.
Photo from one year ago today, July 19, 2019:
Don’t be fooled by this tiny building. It’s a powerhouse of flavor in Carna, Connemara, Ireland.  This tiny building offers outstanding fresh-caught seafood, fish, and chips, the finest takeaway in Connemara or perhaps even in Ireland. And many other items. For more, please click here.

Day #117 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…See below for photo of last night’s dinner…

By the time I walked down the steep steps to the produce truck, it was surrounded by no less than ten residents, anxious to buy their weekly supply of fruits and veggies.
Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 
Today’s photos are from July 18, 2018, while in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. See the link here for more details.
Recently, we’ve been including past photos from the three months we spent in the summer of 2013 in a small village, high in the mountains of Tuscany, Italy. It seems so long ago, yet the memories of Boveglio remain fresh in our minds as if it was yesterday.
It was early on in our travels when we arrived in Italy, only eight months after we left Minnesota on October 31, 2012, the date we consider as when we first began our travels. 
A misconception about our travel dates may revolve around the fact that we didn’t leave the US until January 3, 2013, when we embarked on our first cruise from San Diego, California, to Miami, Florida, during which our ship transited through the Panama Canal, sailed to the Caribbean and disembarked in Miami, Florida.
It felt awkward taking photos, so I did so discretely. I was the only tourist in the bunch as I heard the locals chatting endlessly in Italian. I did my usual smiling and head nodding, hiding my camera under my shirt.
From there, we stayed with friend Carol for three nights in Boca Raton, Florida, while awaiting our next cruise. From there, we sailed on another cruise disembarking in Belize. We rented a property on a peninsula, Placencia, far from the chaotic capital of Belize, City.
In April, we sailed on a few more cruises, including a transatlantic cruise, a Meditteranean cruise, another cruise through the Suez Canal and the Middle East, a two-week stay in Dubai, later flying to Barcelona, from which we cruised to Venice. Once in Venice, we toured along the canals and exquisite city, eventually traveling to Boveglio, a 4½ hour drive, until we reached the 300-year-old stone house we’d rented for three months.
The GPS on our phones wasn’t working while high in the mountains of Tuscany, but somehow we managed to find the property, hauling our then excess amount of luggage up steep stone steps to the property.
Once situated in our third holiday home outside the US (Belize, Dubai, and Italy) at that time, we had an opportunity to relax and enjoy our time in the gorgeous setting in a pristine historic village.
More fruit than vegetables, I was unable to replenish our supply of cauliflower but purchased other vegetables.
Of course, we had to make significant adaptations, as we’d done in Belize and Dubai. It was summer and very hot with no air-con or fans, not even in the bedroom. Nor were no screens on the windows. At night, sleeping was intermittent, with mosquitoes buzzing around our heads.
During the day, we were bombarded by giant flies, sometimes horseflies, and other flying insects when we had to leave the windows open for airflow. While preparing meals and dining in the typical Italian kitchen, which we loved, the flies were relentless.
At one point, we asked the owners for suggestions. They came with cheesecloth and a staple gun to fashion some form of screens, but the makeshift screens flew out the windows on the first windy day. We didn’t bother them again. We swatted the flies and mosquitoes.
As typical in a 300-year-old stone house, the beams and door frames were shallow. Frequently, in the beginning, we both banged our heads several times a day. We eventually learned to keep our heads down when we moved from room to room.
Here’s what I purchased today for a total of Euro $4.09, US $5.33. Prices were better at the grocery store, but the freshness and convenience made it worth paying more.
The access to the veranda to hang laundry required a dangerous climb from the indoor stone stairway to an opening halfway up the stairs. We proceeded with caution when we often went out to the veranda to pick the fresh vegetables the owners had planted for us in various pots. We cautioned each time and thoroughly enjoyed the gorgeous tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and spices.
The most challenging issue was that no one in the area, including our landlords, spoke any English. For three months, we dined in restaurants, shopped at the local markets, and somehow communicated with the neighbors, the landlords, the cleaner, and the pharmacist, learning a few words as we went along.
The WiFi signal was so bad that we could only get an adequate signal to prepare our posts and conduct research for future travels near an open window or on the tiny veranda accessed through one of the bedrooms. 
We couldn’t watch the old-style tiny TV when everything was in Italian, nor could we download and stream movies or TV series with the weak signal. Fortunately, previously, we’d downloaded lots of books on our phones and spent most evenings reading while we swatted the persistent mozzies off our screens.
Hesitantly, I handed the vendor a single bill for Euro $50 (US $65.10), concerned she’d refuse the larger bill. No problemo! She had a fanny pack filled with money!
Amid all of this, we wouldn’t trade the experience of those three months for anything in the world. It was there in Tuscany, Italy, in the tiny village of Boveglio, that we learned how vital adaptation would be as we continued on our world travels.
No, it wouldn’t always be easy, and most often, in one way or another, it wasn’t. Perhaps, as we sit here today on day 117 in lockdown in a standard hotel room in Mumbai, India, unable to go outdoors, have a cocktail, eat a variety of meals, socialize, wash our clothes in a washer, hear birds singing, pick a flower from a garden or see any of Mother Nature’s wonders, we’re somehow managing just fine. 
Was the past almost eight years of adaptation instrumental in making this experience tolerable? Most likely, yes. We’re grateful for what we’ve learned and the gift of tolerance we’ve gleaned in the process.
Tom describes my chicken curry (on a bed of steamed cabbage) as looking like cat puke. I dismiss his observation and thoroughly have enjoyed this spicy, delicious meal.
Hopefully, in time we’ll be able to continue. Be well. 
Photo from one year ago today, July 18, 2019:
A wedding gown of the era, shown in a room at Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.