A huge update and change in plans!!!…

Locals hitching a ride to the local festival.

If we had a home during the corona-virus crisis and had been touring India, most likely we’d have ended the lengthy tour early and headed back to the US, purchasing a fair amount of toilet paper to hunker down for a while.


As world travelers without a home, if we have a need to hunker down, where might that be? If we return to the USA, we have no health insurance other than Medicare Part A and even if we signed up for Part B and a supplement we’d be stuck with it once we were on the move again.


Plus, returning to live in the US is not an option for us at this time, even with this looming virus. We’re not about to “give up” this lifestyle which we recently embraced with gusto after last year’s open-heart surgery and a long recovery.


But, now we have excellent, low co-pay health insurance through United Healthcare Global (Safe Trip) that we purchase every three months, good only outside of the US. This morning we purchased more coverage until the end of July when we’ll renew for another 90 days at that time.  

Crowds of people on their way to a festival.

Yesterday, when Viking Cruise Line informed us the 29-day cruise we’d booked long ago has been canceled, we had to figure out what we’d do for the 29 days. So far we only had the one booking in Bath, England and a cruise from Lisbon to Cape Town next November. 


With the number of cases of the virus rapidly escalating in the UK and Europe, we decided against keeping the UK booking. The owner of the Bath house is arranging a full credit for us for the deposit that we paid, only one week ago.


The cruise line is refunding the full fare we’d already paid, which easily covers a good portion of our costs for the next 12 months. 


Guess where we’d headed, folks?


Yep, back to South Africa… to Marloth Park… to all of our animal and human friends and a vibrant social life. We’ll arrive at Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport next Friday night, spend the night in a hotel and on Saturday morning make the hour-long drive to Marloth Park, where dear friends Louise and Danie will have a house waiting for us.

“Buffaloes are believed to have domesticated around 5000 years ago in the Indus Valley and thrive best in the areas of moderate rainfall as they require plenty of water for their daily bath.   Indian buffaloes are considered to be an important source of milk today. They yield nearly three times milk as cows. Interestingly, 47.22 million milch buffaloes produce 55 percent of milk which is more than half of the total milk produced in the country. Whereas, 57 million cows contribute only 45 percent of the total milk yield.”


Of course, we’d love to get back into the Orange house, but that’s booked until May 1. At that point, we’ll move back in. In the interim, Louise will ensure we have great houses to stay in as we hop from house to house as she deems necessary for the remainder of March and all of April. We can live with this plan without hesitancy.


There hasn’t been a single case of coronavirus in Marloth Park but of course, we’ll continue with precautions as we have here in India; avoiding crowds; lots of handwashing, no handshaking and extra careful touching any surfaces or possibly infected areas. 


Yes, we’re excited to be heading back. And no, there are no unrealistic expectations that South Africa will be safer than in any part of the world. But, Marloth Park is remote with fewer and fewer visitors coming to stay due to fears of travel right now.


No, we won’t bore our readers with endless photos of warthogs. We’ll strive to focus on the fascinating little things, interesting people stories and wildlife special moments. It will be an all-new angle for our time in Africa once again.

Buffalo movin’ on down the road. “Buffaloes also called as Bubalus bublis belong to the family bovidae, sub-family bovinae, genus bubalis and species arni or the wild Indian buffalo. They are classified into river and swamp types. The present day domesticated buffaloes are the descendants of Bos arni found in North-Eastern parts of India especially in Assam and surrounding areas.”


How long will we stay? As long as they’ll have us, which our regular readers know is a tricky proposition. We’ll do everything we can to stay as long as possible, even if we have to fly to other countries, stay for awhile and return.


As for the balance of our India tour? It’s ending about 16 days earlier than planned. We didn’t make this decision lightly. The tour company is giving us a partial refund which we’re grateful for but, such cancellations such as this is happening all over the country of India, all over the world. 


Temples are closing. Sporting events have been canceled, public celebrations are fast coming to a halt, schools are closing, as is the case in most countries throughout the world. It’s definitely a frightening time not only in regard to contracting the virus but also the awful impact on workers and economic conditions worldwide.


We carry on… All of us do, in an attempt to make the most of this dreadful time in history. We extend our love and prayers for each and every one of our family members, friends, and readers worldwide. 

Workers loading sugar cane onto a truck.


May you and those you love be safe, as you exercise every caution. Wash your hands! Use hot soapy water when possible. Don’t cough or sneeze in anyone’s face! Don’t shake hands! Wear a mask if you are sick or stay indoors at all times.


Don’t touch surfaces others have touched! Even an elevator or lift button; a grocery store trolley or the counter at the bank can carry the virus. When going to the doctor, dentist or any office, don’t lean on the counter when checking in. If you need a handrail to walk up or down stairs, get someone you know to help you instead of touching the railing.


Make everything and everyone suspect, but in the interim, we somehow must do our best to find ways in which to enjoy life, enjoy people and cherish every moment we have of this precious life. God bless.

________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, March 13, 2019:

With ample vegetation after many days and nights of soaking rain, the zebras still love pellets. For more photos, please click here.

And life goes on…Knowing or not knowing…

Whenever the sky is fairly clear we look forward to the sunsets.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“The
Irish perform in the Tailteann Games, Ireland’s version of the Olympics.”

__________________________________________________

After all the excitement over the past week by finalizing several bookings for the upcoming year, we’ve now settled back into our day to day lives.  The itinerary is almost completely filled in with only a few gaps for hotel stays.  To see yesterday’s posted itinerary, please click here.


Not only has it been exciting for us but it’s also been a huge relief.  Not knowing where we’ll be in six months is daunting, especially as I continue to recover from open heart surgery.

A glimmer at a distance.

That is one of the important aspects of world travel after all these years…knowing where we’ll be a year from now and perhaps the following year.  This fact has been instrumental in our booking so far out over the past almost seven years.

Without a home, apartment, condo or place we can go to repack and regroup, this process must be completed while in the midst of our travels.  This could be unsettling for many.

In the beginning in 2012, we were booked out over two years since we were well aware of the fact about the human condition is to be rooted in one (or more) locations.

The sunsets occur late here in Ireland, especially at this time of the year.

Now, with experience, we’ve found if we know where we’ll be in a year is all we need to feel comfortable.  However, we both acknowledge that most likely we’ll never be in a position to land in a new country without reservations.  If we’d did, we’d figure it out and not panic.


But, why put ourselves in that position? We’re not 20-year-olds backpacking it and staying in hostels along the way.  We have certain expectations as to the creature comforts we require;  a clean and well-maintained property; WiFi, heat, and aircon (if necessary), electricity, running water and a kitchen suitable for preparing most meals.  A comfy bed and bedding is a bonus.


Anything beyond that is a plus we never fail to appreciate.  We aren’t snobs and don’t require “fancy” and “modern.”  While we stay in Apache Junction in the same neighborhood as Tom’s three sisters and significant others, it will be a fun for us.

What a sight!

We chose to stay in Apache Junction near his family a few reasons, but mainly since Tom is the youngest in the family and wanted to have valuable time with his sisters, which we haven’t done in years.  


Many of our travel experiences include what I suggest and would like to do.  Good grief, do you think he wanted to spend over a year in South Africa, something we’ll never do again for such an extended period?  He did it for me and ultimately enjoyed himself in the process.  


When he suggested we visit his sisters for two months (a time we had to fill) in Apache Junction, Arizona living in their neighborhood in our own place, it sounded like a good idea. This is a collaborative adventure.  Besides, I thoroughly enjoy hanging out with his sisters.

Old cement house along the highway to Oughterard.

With a little time and effort and assistance from his sister Colleen, we were able to book a place within walking distance to his sister’s places.  It is inexpensive compared to many houses we’ve rented at Euro 1327, US $1500 a month (includes WiFi and all utilities) and will give us an opportunity to recover some of our losses over the past year.


We’re both good with this.  We didn’t want to spend the cold winter in Minnesota when we have no cold weather clothing, can’t stand the cold or afford a hotel for such an extended period. It’s very expensive to stay in Minnesota. 

Another man and a boy fishing in front of our house.

We didn’t want to impose upon son Richard by living in his house for two months (instead we’ll stay with him for 10 days).  It’s a five-plus-hour drive from Henderson, Nevada to Apache Junction, Arizona.  


We’ll rent a car in Nevada, use it while in Nevada, drive to Arizona and return the car either to the airport in Nevada or Arizona, depending on our plans at the time.  Tom has done some research and it appears the price will be the same if we pick it up in Nevada and drop it off in Arizona since both airports are very busy.


So much planning goes into each location.  Fortunately, we continue to find research fun, rewarding and not a chore.  Should this ever change, we’ll have to rethink our lifestyle.


We hope you have a fantastic day!

__________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, July 2, 2018:

This flock of ostriches is often found in a particular area near the river we often visit when on daily drives.  For more details, please click here.

Here it is at long last!…Our newest itinerary!…

One of the many excursions on the Maharajas Express train includes a visit to the Taj Mahal. (Not our photo).

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Abortion
is illegal in Ireland unless keeping the child would put the mother’s life at
risk.”

__________________________________________

There’s no doubt we’re tentative about booking into the future, especially when there is no certainty about my health going forward.  To date, we haven’t booked anything where we’d lose the entire cost of the venue, just deposits.


Even paying deposits is risky.  After we’ve paid out so much in medical bills our insurance company refuses to pay and losing so much for prepaid travel events we couldn’t attend, flights we had to cancel, and bookings we had to forgo, it’s not surprising we’re cautious.


The unexpected cardiac bypass surgery could easily put a quick end to our travels, which neither of us wanted to stop.  Instead, we strive to continue on, living life to the fullest.  


None of us knows how much time we have on this earth and yes, my situation may mean I have less time than many.  But, it’s no reason to stop living.  What would we do if we lived in a condo in the US?  Stay home and do nothing? 


The travels we have ahead of us will require some days at the airport, waiting in a long queue to board a ship and lots of walking.  Would it be a lot less active if we lived in the US (or some other country)?  Besides, being active is the number one prescription for improving one’s health after cardiac bypass surgery.


Walking?  Yep. I’m on it every day, keeping track of my fitness watch to ensure I get in enough steps each day.  Believe me, it’s not easy to do, walking around the house all day.  Right now, I have a timer set to walk every 30-minutes.


I shake it up every few days.  Sometimes, it’s for long periods or several times a day once every hour.  On some days I do half or more of the walking at one time.  Why don’t I walk outside?  It’s cold, windy and it rains a lot.  Also, there are no sidewalks on the very narrow winding roads. The driveway to the road is rocky and uneven. It defeats the purpose to risk injury.

Itinerary 2019 – 2020
Ireland – Connemara – house rented 89 5/12/2019
– 8/8/2019 
Hotel Dublin, Ireland 1 8/8/2019
– 8/9/2019
Hotel Amsterdam, The Netherlands 2  8/9/2019 – 8/11/2019 
Cruise
– Baltic – Amsterdam to Amsterdam 
12  8/11/2019 –
8/23/2019 
England
– Falmouth, Cornwall, UK
14  8/23/2019 -9/6/2019 
England
– St. Teath, Bodwin, Cornwall, UK
14 9/6/2019 – 9/20/2019
England
– Witheridge, Devon, UK
21 9/20/2019 – 10/11/2019
Wales –
Chepstow, Monmouthshire, UK
11 10/11/2019 – 10/22/2019
Hotel – Southampton, England 2 10/22/2019 – 10/24/2019
Cruise
– Southampton to Fort Lauderdale 
15  10/24/2019-11/8/2019 
Hotel – Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA 14  11/8/2019 –
11/22/2019 
Henderson,
Nevada, USA
9 11/22/2019 – 12/1/2019
Holiday
Rental – Apache Junction, Arizona USA
61 12/1/2019 – 1/30/2020
Flight
Phoenix, Arizona to Mumbai, India*
2 1/30/2020 – 2/1/2020
Hotel –
Mumbai, India
1 2/1/2020 – 2/2/2020
Train –
Maharajas Express -Mumbai to Dehli
6 2/2/2020 – 2/8/2020
Safari
– India
5 2/8/2020 – 2/13/2020
Hotels
Udaipur, India 
30 2/13/2020 – 3/13/2020
India –
to be booked
21 3/13/2020 – 4/3/2020
Cruise
– Mumbai to London
29 4/3/2020 – 5/2/2020
Total days planned 359 5/12/2020 – 5/2/2020
It does not include cruises beyond this date in the event we make some changes. * All distant locations include flights – the
only flight more than a day is from Phoenix 
to Mumbai.

                                

Walking around the house at a good clip is not that bad.  I have a route I vary every few minutes rather than stick to one path.  Boredom is the biggest problem.  My cheap South African-purchased-smartphone doesn’t have enough memory to add a podcast app which would help tremendously.  


At one point I added an SD card, but it isn’t able to store any data.  It’s the phone.  Nothing I can do about that until we purchase new phones in the US when we arrive in November, a mere four months from now.  


We’ve already selected the phones we’d like, but won’t order them until closer to the time of our arrival in the US.  In four months, newer models could hit the market and prices may change.


In preparing the itinerary we’ve included today, we didn’t include the cruise we’ve booked to Cape Town, South Africa, long before my illness, based on hearing from immigration as to our “undesirable” status after overstaying for three months for my recovery.  As mentioned a few days ago, we’ve applied, re-applied, and called several times, requesting a response.  None yet.  We’ll continue trying.



Also, as mentioned, we have a few more cruises we’ve booked and may not actually take. These are not shown in the itinerary.   We’re able to move the deposits at any time with no losses.  Having chosen a few costly cruises, with considerations for our budget, we won’t be cruising as often as we had in the early part of our travels.


Cruises are highlighted in the itinerary in turquoise.  We’ll definitely be taking the cruises listed on the itinerary. Everything we do in life is subject to good health. For some oddball reason, I wrongfully thought that saying “health providing” in dozens, if not hundreds of other posts, as if provided some insurance nothing bad would happen. It did happen anyway.  I am done saying that!


After further research and comments from kindly readers who’ve been to India, it appears we can stay up to 180 days.  That’s great!  We didn’t want to deal with more immigration problems.


Gotta go!  My timer just went off for my next round of walking.  


Enjoy your day!

__________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, July 1, 2018:

One year ago today, we attended the Honorary Ranger’s Annual Fair in Marloth Park.  Artist’s renditions of wildlife along with an array of skulls, horns, and tusks.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 4…New bookings…A new country…A new lease on life!…Tomorrow, our new itinerary!…

Mumbai.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“The longest river in the country is the River Shannon. The river is 360 km, 224 miles, long. The River Shannon (Irish: Abha na Sionainne, an tSionainn, an tSionna) is the longest river in Ireland.  It drains the Shannon River Basin which has an area of 16,865 km (6,512 sq mi), one-fifth of the area of Ireland.”

______________________________________________



As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we hesitated over spending so much on this cruise, especially after the cost of the Maharajas Train on which we’ll embark on February 3, 2020.  


We have two months to travel while in India while we look forward to this upcoming cruise embarking on April 3, 2020, ending in London on May 2, 2020, 29 nights later.


We’ve yet to decide where we’ll go when we arrive in London.  We have plenty of time for that, a little over 10 months.  We may plan to stay around Europe for a few months.  With the Schengen visa restrictions, we can only stay in most European countries for 90 out of 180 days.

There are several countries that aren’t part of Schengen.  For more details on Schengen visas, please visit this site.


According to visa regulations listed on many sites for India e-visa, a traveler from the US and many other countries may only stay for 60 days.  We’ll actually be in India for 63 days.  If necessary, we’ll apply for an extension through the Indian Embassy through the consulate in San Francisco, the location we must use as residents of Nevada.

However, at the governmental e-visa site for India, the following is clearly stated as follows:


“Stay:
Continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 90 days for countries except the USA, UK, Canada, and Japan. For the USA, UK, Canada, and Japan continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days.

Today, I sent them an email asking to clarify if a 90-day stay is accurate.  After all our visa issues these past few years, we aren’ taking any chances.  Nothing spoils a visit to a country like immigration issues.  

Anyway, back to the cruise fare…We weren’t thrilled that Viking requires payment in full so close to the time of booking and far from the time of sailing.  In this case, the final payment, as shown below is due in full on July 24, 2019, a little over three weeks from now:  

Cruise Fare $19,998.00  
E-Check Discount ($633.53)       
Past-Passenger Discount ($800.00)            
Grand Total: $18,564.47   
Total Deposit Paid: $483.50    
Total Balance Due: $18,080.97  Final payment due July 24, 2019 


Gifts/Amenities Included: 
Jessica Lyman: $300.00 Onboard Credit 
Thomas Lyman: $300.00 Onboard Credit 


We justified this expensive cruise based on the fact that we have three cruises we’ve booked with deposits we are able to transfer to later cruises, most likely to 2022, giving up plenty of time to recover the big expense.  


In the interim, we’ll wait and see if we can sail on the cruise from Lisbon to Cape Town on November 10, 2020, on Azamara, which visits many ports on the western side of Africa, a very rare cruise.  


We’re waiting to find out if the five-year ban from returning to South Africa is lifted for medical reasons.  We applied for the waiver almost seven weeks ago and have inquired several times to no avail.  They simply don’t respond to our inquiries by phone or email.  


On Friday, we inquired again and will do so every Friday until we get an update.  If we don’t receive the waiver, we’ll lose part of the deposit we paid and miss this exciting itinerary and plan when and if we’ll get back to Marloth Park.  When and if we do, we won’t stay longer than 90 days in South Africa.


Today, we’ve added photos and information about dining options on the Mumbai cruise with Viking including the complimentary specialty restaurants.  Please see below for details.



FastDeal
21770
29 nights departing April 3, 2020, on
Viking Cruises’ Viking Sun

Brochure Balcony $9,999
Our Balcony $9,999
You Save 0%
Brochure Suite $16,749
Our Suite $15,999
You Save 4%

Prices include select shore excursions and unlimited internet.
Book select categories by June 30 and pay a reduced deposit of $250 per person.
Promotions may not be combinable with all fares.
___________________________________________________________

Dining options on Viking Sun:

“The Restaurant
Cuisine: Continental
Dress Code: Elegant casual
Surcharge: No
Reservations Required: No
Hours
Breakfast: 8:00am – 10:00am
Lunch: Noon – 2:30pm
Dinner: 6:00pm – 10:00pm

The Chef’s Table
Cuisine: Continental
Dress Code: Elegant casual
Surcharge: No
Reservations Required: Yes
Hours
Dinner: 6:30pm – 10:30pm

Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant
Cuisine: Italian
Dress Code: Elegant casual
Surcharge: No
Reservations Required: Yes
Hours
Dinner: 6:30pm – 10:30pm

World Cafe
Cuisine: Variety
Dress Code: Elegant casual
Surcharge: No
Reservations Required: Yes
Hours
Breakfast: 7:30am – 10:00am
Lunch: 11:30am – 2:00pm
Dinner: 6:30pm – 10:30pm

Viking Deli
Cuisine: Scandinavian
Dress Code: Casual
Surcharge: No
Reservations Required: No
Hours
Check onboard for hours

Aquavit Terrace
Cuisine: Al fresco options
Dress Code: Casual
Surcharge: No
Reservations Required: No
Hours
Check onboard for hours

The Kitchen Table
Cuisine: Cooking school and restaurant
Dress Code: Casual
Surcharge: No
Reservations Required: No
Hours
Check onboard for hours

Mamsen’s
Cuisine: Norwegian breakfast and lunch
Dress Code: Casual
Surcharge: No
Reservations Required: No
Hours
Check onboard for hours

In addition to the restaurants mentioned above, the Viking Sun also features afternoon high tea in the Wintergarden, a pool grill and 24-hour room service. “



Last night, our dinner for guests was canceled due to an unexpected illness of one of our guests.  We’re hoping she will recover soon.  We ended up thoroughly enjoying the dinner we planned and spent a quiet evening at “home.”


Tomorrow, we’ll be back with our new itinerary.  Please stop back to see it!


Be well.

__________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, June 30, 2018:

The particular “dazzle” of zebras visiting that morning was all female except for a youngster.  For more photos, please click here.


Part 3…New bookings…A new country…A new lease on life!…More tomorrow…

In 2013 we sailed on a similar itinerary but this 29-night Viking cruise offers additional ports of call which appeal to us.  Also, other than Antarctica this was my favorite itinerary, sailing through the Middle East and the Gulf of Aden.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“In
2007, Ireland saw 40 straight days of rain.”

                   ____________________________________________


To ensure we’d get the full flavor of the country of India we decided to spend about 60 days traveling to several locations and staying a few weeks at each.  As mentioned in a prior post, we’ll attempt to spend little time in the cities with the most population, commotion, and traffic.


In India, the massive population in the big cities is one of its attractions bringing tourists from all over the world.  Certainly, we won’t miss out on this fascinating opportunity.  

Indoor pool.

Our days of staying in one location for many months, other than a few here and there, are over.  After my recent heart surgery, we felt we needed to take advantage of each and every day.  Staying in one holiday home for long periods, wouldn’t provide us with the quality of experiences we’re seeking at this point. 


Since I’m not yet 100% of my former self, how often we move about will be based on how I’m feeling down the road.  It’s difficult to determine right now.  In several months, we’ll know more and be able to plan accordingly.

Lounge area on the main deck.

When we knew we’d be in India, Tom got to work trying to find a cruise to and from Mumbai.  This is a preferred departure point by many but most cruises are outrageously expensive and beyond our reach.


His continued research resulted in him finding the cruise we’re describing here today, which we’ve booked with a bit of hesitation due to the cost but with considerable excitement over the ship and its luxury feel, its amenities, and the fact its a 29-and day journey.

One of two outdoor pools.

With many amenities included in the cost, such as unlimited high-speed WiFi, only 930 passengers, free specialty restaurants, complimentary self serve laundry (soap included) and no children under the age of 18 allowed.  


Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy children but on cruises, the running in the halls and public areas and the seeming constant screaming distracts from the otherwise adult experience.  Relaxation is the key along with adult conversations and activities.

This is the type of cabin we booked.  All cabins on the Viking Sun have a veranda.

The ship offers many educational sessions in the theatre as we approach port after port.  Since we’ve already visited a portion of the ports of call, we’ll venture out to see the more obscure locations or, if we’d like, stay aboard the ship when there are no tours befitting our preferences.

Comfortable theatre.

At each port, one tour is included in the cost.  Most certainly, we’ll take advantage of these, even if it is a bus tour of the city.  We’d already visited Petra in 2013 and making that long hot trek (45C, 113F or more) once again isn’t necessary.  It was a fabulous once-in-a-lifetime experience.  


To see our posts and amazing photos from Petra, of which there are several, please start at this link.

The Chef’s Table, a special dinner made for a small group in a kitchen on the ship, included in price.  It will be tough to get a reservation for this but we’ll try.  Also, we may be concerned if the special meal will work for me.

Today, we’re busy getting ready for two guests for dinner.  We’re doing it easy upon their insistence and based on my current limitations.  Thus, I won’t have to spend the entire day in the kitchen standing on my feet.


Tomorrow, we’ll be back with more to include the pricing on today’s cruise along with some peculiarities Viking Cruise Line insists upon with passengers during the booking process.

There are many lounge areas throughout the ship.

Please check back tomorrow.  For the ship’s list of amenities, please scroll to the bottom of today’s post.


Have a fantastic Saturday, wherever you are, whatever you do.  Thank you for stopping by!

VacationsToGo.com

Viking Sun

Ship Rating:
Expand your horizons on the 930-passenger Viking Sun. This ship features all veranda staterooms and a unique onboard experience, from the peaceful Wintergarden area around the main pool, perfect for a calming cup of tea; to The Spa, a sanctuary of wellness; to the Explorer’s Lounge, where passengers can share their latest adventures. Also included are inspiring onboard talks that help you understand every destination in depth. The Viking Sun was built with understated comfort and elegance in mind and ensures you will explore every destination in comfort.

Viking Sun is dedicated to adults and therefore does not carry children or teenagers under the age of 18.

Viking Sun
Ship Statistics
Year Built 2017
Tonnage 47,800 tons
Registry Malta
Length 745 feet
Beam 95 feet
Passenger Capacity 930
Crew Size 465
Total Inside Cabins 0
Total Outside Cabins 465
Cabins & Suites w/ verandas 465
Suites 47
Maximum Occupancy per room 2
Age Restrictions All must be 18-20 or one must be 21 or older
Dinner Seatings 1
Seating Assignments
in Main Dining Room
Open
Dining Hours 6:30 PM
Dining Room Dress Code Dining
Tipping Expected? Yes
Tipping Guidelines
Viking recommends $15.00 per day, per guest. These amounts may be given to the onboard staff in cash, or you may charge them to your credit card at the end of the cruise. Bar gratuities should be made at the time of purchase.
Onboard Currency US Dollar
   
Services & Amenities
Bars/Lounges Yes
Beauty Salon/Barber Shop Yes
Casino No
Chapel No
Disco/Dancing No
Elevators Yes
Hot Tub Yes
Cell Phone Service No
Internet Center No
Wireless Internet Access Yes
Laundromats (self service) Yes
Laundry/Dry Cleaning Yes
Library Yes
Movie Theatre Yes
Outdoor Movie Screen Yes
Onboard Weddings No
Shops Yes
Showroom Yes
Spa Yes
Video Arcade No
Fitness & Sports Facilities
Basketball Court No
Fitness Center Yes
Golf Driving Net No
Golf Simulator No
Ice Skating Rink No
Jogging Track Yes
Mini-Golf Course No
Rock Climbing Wall No
Swimming Pool 2
Tennis Court No
Water Slide No
Water Sports Platform No
Cabin Features & Amenities
24-Hour Room Service Yes
Hair Dryer Yes
Safe Yes
Telephone Yes
Television Yes
Kids Facilities
Babysitting No
Children’s Playroom No
Kiddie Pool No
Supervised Youth Program No
Teen Center No
Water Playground/Splash Park No
Special Needs & Requests
Adjoining Cabins
     (private connecting doors)
No
Kosher Meals No
Single Occupancy Cabins No
Single Share Program No
Wheelchair-Accessible Cabins 2

__________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, June 29, 2018:
The sunset changed second by second, each scene more beautiful than the last while at Aamazing River View Restaurant last night.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…New bookings…A new country…A new lease on life!…More tomorrow…

 
India is a huge landmass proving us with endless opportunities to explore.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Ireland’s
flag has three colors for a reason. The green represents the Gaelic tradition
of Ireland, the orange is meant to represent those who followed William of
Orange and the white stripe in the middle represents peace between both.”

____________________________________________


This morning we took off early and headed to Clifden to grocery shop.  We’re having company for dinner tomorrow night and although we promised to make an easy meal, we still had to pick up a number of items at the market.

After my quick stop at the pharmacy for more bandages for my leg, while Tom went to the ATM for cash, we met at the market and breezed through our shopping list which I keep on an app on my phone. 

I’ve been using a grocery shopping app for at least the past 12 years, finding it so much easier than a handwritten list, especially since I can’t read my own scratchy handwriting.

In no time at all, we were back on the road for the 40-minute drive back to Glinsce and our holiday home.  We quickly put everything away while Tom worked on removing the ice from the tiny freezer.  We needed all the room we could get in the small space.

After the big chest freezer in Marloth Park, it’s quite a difference only having a freezer the size of a small chill box.  With the trays of ice and a bag of ice, there’s little room for food.  When he was done removing the ice, I got to work organizing the items and somehow managed to get everything inside including the ice.

In my life, before heart surgery, putting away groceries wasn’t a task.  But now, any activity that requires standing for long periods, bending down to put food into the below-counter refrigerator becomes a major undertaking.  But, I push myself to accomplish every task before me, knowing in time, all of these activities will only add to the rebuilding of my strength.

Today is our 28th anniversary from the night we met. We’re making a special dinner and will enjoy some quality time together reminiscing and thinking toward the future. 

Most prevalent in our minds are the bookings we made in the past several days; the luxury train in India, the Maharajas Express, the “Heritage of India” and a cruise, a fantastic 29-night cruise we can’t wait to share in tomorrow’s post.


In yesterday’s first post about the train, we promised to share more details of our upcoming train expedition beginning on February 2, 2020, a mere seven months from now.  It’s not that we’re wishing time to go by quickly.  Instead, its fun for both of us to plan into the future, knowing we have so much to anticipate.


We selected the deluxe cabin in order to keep the price down.  Sure, we’d love to have chosen a suite but the added cost is just not worth it to us.  
The main differential in cost is the size of the cabin and we’re fine in tiny spaces when we spend so little time in our cabin.


So here are the pricing details for the Maharajas Express, the “Heritage of India“:  

Prices Valid From 01 October 2019 Until April 2021

 Price in Sterling Pounds Per Person

Price Per Person Per Journey Deluxe Cabin Junior Suite Suite Presidential Suite
Twin/Double Cabin £ 5072 £ 7915 £ 11040 £ 18960
Single Cabin £ 8944 £ 15040 £ 22080 £ 37920

 Price in US Dollars Per Person

Price Per Person Per Journey Deluxe Cabin Junior Suite Suite Presidential Suite
Twin/Double Cabin $ 6340 $ 9890 $ 13800 $ 23700
Single Cabin $ 11180 $ 18800 $ 27600 $ 47400

  
Included in the above pricing is the following:

Price / Cost Includes

*** Accommodation in Air Conditioned Deluxe Cabin or Junior Suite or Suite or Presidential Suite with attached Bathroom on board The Maharaja Express
*** All meals including tea, coffee, and mineral water and house brands of Indian wines, beer, and spirits during The Maharaja Express
*** Transport for sightseeing with Deluxe Coaches during The Maharaja Express for Deluxe Cabin and Junior Suite Clients
*** Transport for sightseeing with Private Vehicle & Private Guide during The Maharaja Express for Suite and Presidential Suite Clients
*** Entrance fee to palaces, museums & parks during The Maharaja Express
*** English speaking guide during The Maharaja Express
*** Bulter Service for Suite and Presidential Suite Clients
*** Service of the Tour Manager on Board
*** One Transfer in Mumbai and One Transfer in Delhi by Private Vehicle with Driver


Of course, the most exciting aspect to the train excursion is the itinerary as follows:

Day 1 – Mumbai – Sunday

  •  09:00 Welcome and Registration at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
  •  10:30 Proceed for Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja Terminus Railway Station, Mumbai
  •  11:30 Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Udaipur
  •  12:30 Lunch onboard
  •  19:30 Dinner onboard

Day 2 – Udaipur – Monday

  •  08:00 Breakfast onboard
  •  10:00 Arrive at Udaipur. Proceed for a boat ride on Lake Pichola followed by a visit to City Palace and Crystal Gallery
  •  13:00 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  13:15 Lunch onboard. You may choose Optional Activities – Spa at a hotel or Local City Tour
  •  18:15 Proceed for an Exclusive Dinner at Satkar Hall of Fatehprakash Palace or Jagmandir Island Palace
  •  20:30 Returns to comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  22:00 Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Jodhpur

Day 3 – Jodhpur – Tuesday

  • 07:30 Breakfast onboard
  •  09:15 Optional Tour to Bishnoi Village (De-board at Rohat Railway Station)
  •  13:00 Lunch onboard
  •  14:30 Proceed to visit the Mehrangarh Fort followed by a Walking Tour of the Old Clock Tower market and enjoy a joy ride on Tuk Tuks
  •  17:30 Proceed for an exclusive cocktail dinner at Hanwant Mahal or Khaas Bagh
  •  20:15 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  03:00 Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Bikaner

Day 4 – Bikaner – Wednesday

  •  08:00 Enjoy the countryside while having breakfast onboard
  •  10:00 Arrive at Bikaner. Relax onboard or you may choose Optional Activities – Visit Lalgarh   Museum or Local City Tour
  •  13:00 Lunch onboard
  •  14:00 Visit to Junagarh Fort followed by sundowners at Sand Dunes
  •  17:30 Arrive at the Sand Dunes followed by cocktails, bar-be-que, and folk dances
  •  20:15 Return to the comfort of the Maharajas’ Express
  •  21:30 Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Jaipur

Day 5 – Jaipur – Thursday

  • 08:00 Breakfast onboard
  •  09:30 Arrive at Jaipur. Proceed for a visit to Amber Fort
  •  12:30 After sightseeing proceed to Rambagh Palace hotel for lunch
  •  16:00 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
    You may choose Optional Activities – Spa at a hotel, with a visit to the City Palace Museum and Observatory or Local City Tour
  •  20:00 Dinner onboard
  •  21:30 The Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Sawai Madhopur (Ranthambore)

Day 6 – Ranthambore and Fatehpur Sikri – Friday

  •  06:30 Proceed for an exciting Game Drive at Ranthambore National Park
  •  09:30 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  09:45 Breakfast onboard
  •  10:15 Maharajas’ Express proceeds for Fatehpur Sikri
  •  13:30 Lunch onboard
  •  14:30 Arrive into Fatehpur Sikri
  •  15:30 Visit the deserted Mughal City of Fatehpur Sikri
  •  18:00 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  19:30 Enjoy an “Indian Evening” followed by dinner onboard

Day 7 – Agra – Saturday

  •  06:45 Arrive into Agra and proceed to visit Taj Mahal
  •  09:30 Champagne Breakfast at Taj Khema
  •  10:45 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  11:05 Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Delhi
  •  13:00 Lunch onboard
  •  15:30 Disembark and bid farewell to the Maharajas’ Express as your journey comes to an end
We’re in the process of deciding where we’ll visit during the two months we’ll have in India while we await the cruise (see tomorrow’s post) that begins on April 3, 2020.  It’s exciting to research different locations and decide what appeals to us the most.

No doubt, we’ll be booking a safari in India with a search for tiger sightings in mind.  Oh, my, this is exciting!  I can’t wait to hopefully post photos of tigers we’ve spotted in the wild.

Happy day to all. We’ll be back tomorrow with more and…soon we’ll post our new itinerary.
__________________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, June 28, 2018:
“The foot of the giraffe reaches a diameter of 30 cm (12 in), and the hoof is 15 cm (5.9 in) high in males and 10 cm (3.9 in) in females. The rear of each hoof is low and the fetlock is close to the ground, allowing the foot to provide additional support to the animal’s weight.”  For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…New bookings…A new country…A new lease on life!…More tomorrow…

The Maharajas Express Luxury Train* in India.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Even though legend says that St. Patrick cleared Ireland of snakes, the truth is that these slithering creatures were never able to make it from Britain to the island.”

__________________________________________

*Please excuse the quality of today’s photos.  They were taken from the train’s website and aren’t clear when enlarged.


With our hesitancy to book future travels due to my recent health fiasco, the nature of our travels had changed dramatically.  At one point since we arrived in Ireland, we had no idea where we’d go in December 2019 after leaving Minnesota, Nevada, and Arizona to see family.


After days of research and planning, as of late yesterday, we’re booked until May 2, 2020, almost a year out but also have a few cruises beyond that date which we may or may not take. 


We have moveable deposits on all of our remaining cruises with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines.  We have a Euro 731, US $900 deposit, paid for a cruise we’d booked from Lisbon to Cape Town on November 2020.  At the time we booked that cruise, we had no idea about my heart issues.

One of several lounges on the train.

When we went through immigration in South Africa on May 11, 2019, we were classified as “undesirables” since we overstayed our visas by the three months we had to stay in SA while I recovered, unable to fly during that time.  This classification would prevent us from returning to South Africa for 5 years.  Subsequently, we’ ll miss this particular cruise.

We were provided with documentation to allow us to apply for a waiver that could potentially allow us to return sooner.  Immediately after we arrived in Ireland, we put together the detailed packet required to apply for the waiver and sent it via email as required.


Yesterday, I called to see how our file was progressing and was directed to another email address for a status update which I did, attaching all the relevant documents once again.  I was told we’d hear back in 24 to 48 hours.  But, I doubt we’ll hear by then, based on history in dealing with governmental processes in South Africa.

One of several dining venues.

If we don’t hear by the time the final payment is due in July 2020, we’ll have no choice but to cancel the cruise, losing a portion of the deposit and not able to return to Marloth Park South Africa until May 2024.


In the interim, we’re proceeding as if this isn’t an issue, leaving a gap in time for the Africa cruise and the three months we’ll have spent in Marloth Park.  We have a year to hear from immigration.


In order to get “back on track,” we decided to proceed with events we’ve longed to do.  Yesterday morning, we booked the first of these exciting venues on the Maharajas Express, the India equivalent of the Orient Express.  We couldn’t be more excited.

On one of many included excursions, close to the Taj Mahal.

We’ve talked about visiting India at some point but neither of us has been interested in experiencing the massive population as shown below:

“The population of India 2019: Looking into the latest UN data, the approximate population of India is 1,350,438,098. The population of India is rising at an alarming rate and this is why the country is known as the second most populous country in the world after China.”


This is a big chunk of the world’s population as shown below:

“The current world population is 7.7 billion as of June 2019 according to the most recent United Nations estimates elaborated by Worldometers. Thus, India possesses 17.7% of the world’s population.”

One of many dining carriages.

Based on our plans for India, we’ll be able to avoid some of the traffic and commotion in the larger cities, although we’ll visit some of them along the way.  No doubt, the crowds, and traffic are all part of the experience in India.

We plan to spend two months in the country, from traveling to different locations we’re considering now.  But, as mentioned above, one of the most exciting elements of our time in India is starting on February 2, 2020, with a six-night excursion on the Maharajas Express from Mumbai to Dehli, stopping at outstanding points of interest along the way.

In the past several days, we spent hours researching pricing, accommodation, amenities, and routes and decided on the Maharajas Express’ Heritage of India which provides us with the most exciting and comprehensive experiences.

With so much information to share here, we’ll return tomorrow with more photos, pricing, amenities and the itinerary of the Heritage of IndiaWe couldn’t be more thrilled, especially after this long haul of only focusing on my health.  This is exactly “what the doctor ordered.”

See you soon!
__________________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, June 27, 2018:
Elephants crossing the road in Kruger National Park.  That vehicle stopped too close to them putting themselves at risk.  For more details, please click here.

Our new itinerary!!!…With a few gaps…In time, we’ll fill them!…

Upcoming Itinerary – June 21, 2018 to March 1, 2021
 Marloth Park, South Africa  56 6/21/2018 – 8/16/2018
 Zambia – Chobe National Park – Chobe River  7 8/16/2018 – 8/23/2018
 Marloth Park, South Africa  89 8/23/2018 – 11/20/2018 
 Leave South Africa for visa – not booked 7  11/20/2018-11/27/2018 
 Marloth Park, South Africa  89  11/27/18 – 2/21/2019 
 Marloth Park SA to Kenya – tour booked 15  2/21/19 – 3/8/2019 
 Valparaiso, Chile- hotel stay – not booked  15  3/9/2019 – 3/24/2019 
 Cruise – San Antonio, Chile – San Diego  14  3/24/2019 – 4/8/2019 
 San Diego – fly to Minnesota – hotel stay 17  4/8/2019 – 4/25/2019 
 Cruise – Fort Lauderdale to Copenhagen  16  4/26/2019 – 5/12/2019 
 Ireland – Connemara – house rented 90  5/12/2019 – 8/9/2019 
 Amsterdam – hotel stay – not booked 2  8/9/2019 – 8/11/2019 
 Cruise – Baltic – Amsterdam to Amsterdam  12  8/11/2019 – 8/23/2019 
 England – rent countryside house – not booked 62  8/23/2019 -10/24/2019 
 Cruise – Southampton to Fort Lauderdale  15  10/24/2019-11/8/2019 
 Las Vegas, NV – Los Angeles, CA – Scottsdale, AZ  22  11/8/2019 – 12/3/2019 
 Ecuador – Galapagos – rent vacation home – not booked 89  12/3/2019 – 3/01/2020 
 Peru – Machu Picchu – rent vacation home, visit site  30  3/01/2020 –  3/31/2020 
 The Pantanal/Amazon River Cruise – Brazil (2 cruises)  30  3/31/2020 – 4/30/2020 
 Gap – to be booked  134  4/30/2020 – 9/11/2020 
 Minnesota – family visit – not booked 14  9/11/2020 – 9/25/2020 
 Gap – to be booked  46  9/25/2020 -11/10/2020 
 Cruise – Lisbon to Cape Town  22  11/10/2020 -12/2/2020 
 Cape Town/Marloth Park   90  12/2/2020 – 3/1/2021 
 Number of days   983

 *Cruises are indicated turquoise shading

“Photo of the Day in the Bush”

At night, Little Wart Face lies down for a nap, exhausted from eating pellets and his busy day.

A few days ago when we mentioned we’d be updating our itinerary and posting it in the next few months, we became motivated to get it updated now rather than wait. 


We attempt to post a recent itinerary every six months or so but it doesn’t always work out that way when plans are still up in the air.  Although we have several gaps and un-booked events listed in the above itinerary, we aren’t at all concerned about booking these now, especially those that are out more than a year or two.

Lots of zebras in the yard after dark.

It’s possible but tricky to book anything two years out, other than a few cruises here and there as indicated above.  Most owners of holiday/vacation homes prefer not to commit to a booking so far out, especially when we often request discounts based on two factors: one, our long term stays and…two, the frequent online exposure of their property which may result in more bookings for them from our worldwide readers.


We fully understand the hesitancy.  When we find a possible holiday/vacation home we’re interested in renting, if the owner says, “Check back in a year,” we seldom check back.  When we’re ready to book, we’re ready to book and prefer not to spend time “checking back.”


The same goes for cruises.  When we find a cruise we’d like, we usually book it within 48 hours of discovering it to ensure choice of our preferred cabin and to take advantage of any early booking promotions that may be offered at the time.

After the zebras left, female kudus and youngsters arrived.

The good thing about working with Vacations to Go is they offer the lowest possible price (with perks) up until the final payment date which is usually 75 to 90 days before “sail date.”


As we’ve mentioned in prior posts, Tom checks prices for any cruises we’ve already booked, almost daily.  If he finds a cruise we’ve booked at a lower price and/or with better “perks” he’ll contact Vacations to Go to request the price adjustments.  Once completed, we’ll receive an entirely new “cruise confirmation” document with the new pricing and/or perks

Cute young kudu.  Note the bushbabies knocked over their cup of yogurt on the stand above.

This process has served us well.  Over the years we’ve saved thousands of dollars on cruises making the almost-daily extra-effort worthwhile.  But many cruise passengers don’t bother to check (or their agency doesn’t offer this feature) and the cruise line will not do the checking for you.


Contact your travel agency or however you’ve booked the cruise for the price reductions.  Here again, many travelers don’t take to time to check frequently enough for “daily specials.”  Once the special offering is gone, one may not benefit from its price changes.

This morning, baby zebra nursing.

Fortunately, price increases do not have any bearing on existing reservations.  As for the six/seven cruises, as shown above, we have not yet booked the Amazon River and Pantanal cruises which we’ll book within a year.

As for the other cruises as indicated above, most will stay in place. We’ve yet to cancel a cruise we’ve booked.  On a few occasions, the cruise line has cancelled a cruise we’d booked and we had to make other plans with little compensation for the change.

Cruising is an excellent option for us for many reasons. Generally, it’s a cost-effective opportunity to see more of the world, rather than flying from place to place.  Plus, it’s a lot more fun to sail between countries than fly on airplanes.  Often, we use cruises as a means of getting us from one country to another where we may stay for a period of time.

The zebras also stop by during the day, more frequently in this past week.

As for yesterday, we attended an excellent presentation at the home of friends and Marloth Park Honorary Rangers, Uschie and Evan that we’ll soon share in detail.  It will take a few days to prepare the comprehensive post.

Today, we’re off to Komatipoort and Lebombo to grocery shop.  As always, Tom drives to Lebombo for carrots and apples for the wildlife while I shop at the Spar Supermarket and the meat market in the Spar Centre.  This way, he doesn’t have to spend so much time grocery shopping with me, which isn’t fun.  I’m a slow and deliberate shopper.  Can you imagine that?

We’ll be back with more tomorrow and wish all of our readers an excellent day and evening, wherever you may be, whatever you may do.

_______________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, June 21, 2017:

Grandpa and Vincent at Cardboard Camp in Minnesota.  For more photos of cardboard camp, please click here.

Photos!…Pricing!…Exciting new booking…House in Connemara, Ireland for three months…

What a view from our upcoming Connemara, Ireland vacation/holiday rental for 89 nights.

We still have dozens of sightseeing photos we’ve yet to post, but today we are so excited to share a new booking we secured yesterday, we decided to put those photos on hold for another day. We couldn’t be more thrilled with this new booking!

As we peruse our itinerary, there were a few occasions on which we felt the time was near to secure a booking for Ireland, from 5/12/19 to 8/9/2019, in a mere 16 months.  

This may seem to be a long time from now, but the best vacation/holiday homes in Ireland get snapped up quickly, especially during the warmer summer months. 

In researching HomeAway on our site without entering dates, we found at least half of the properties were already booked during our dates. Once we filtered for our dates, with no other criteria, we found few with ocean views in good locations for our planned upcoming research of Tom’s ancestry. 

This kitchen with three sinks, a center island, a dishwasher, and that fantastic stove will undoubtedly fit the bill for our home cooking!

We decided that renting a property located close to the middle line of the country, north to south on the west coast, will allow us to drive to any of the cities we’ll research within two or three hours. 

Over the past few days, after we began entering data on our Excel spreadsheets and Cozi calendar for the new itinerary, we spent a few hours each day looking for the perfect property to fulfill our objectives in Ireland. After location, the next important consideration for us, views. 

We longed for an ocean view which invariably has a profound impact on the price. We tossed out a few lowball offers on properties more expensive than we’d prefer to pay with no success. 

Property owners in Ireland know the desirability of their properties in the warmer summer months. The responses we received indicated they felt they would get higher prices in the summer and prefer to book one week at a time. Long-term, lower-priced renters like us would considerably impact their annual rental income. We certainly understood. 

Weather permitting, we may dine outdoors but won’t mind eating at this table. 

We continued the search, fearful we’d run out of options in no time or have to settle for a less desirable property, perhaps without an ocean view and the amenities we so much desire that makes long-term stays comfortable and fulfilling for our lifestyle.

Of course, we’d yet to research other companies such as VRBO, TripAdvisor, and others. In most cases, we prefer HomeAway for many reasons, including our familiarity with the site and their ability to arrange partial payment deposits rather than requiring the entire rental amount to be paid in full at the time of the booking.

It makes no financial sense to pay an entire three-month rental a year or more in advance, leaving our money tied up for so long. Can you imagine spending your rent or house payment one or two years in advance?  For what?  However, we have no problem paying one-third of the entire rental amount to hold it for an extended period and the balance closer to the onset of the rental period.


Whether it was fate or “safari luck” yesterday, after a few hours of thorough searching, I stumbled across today’s shown spectacular home in the Connemara area with views of the Twelve Bens mountain range and magnificent Bertraghboy Bay. The sunsets will be outstanding!

There are no big trees on the property, but the views make up for it.  Plenty of photos will follow once we arrive in Connemara, Ireland.

The house was perfect for us except for the fact it doesn’t have Wi-Fi. The owner has agreed to provide us with unlimited Wi-Fi, which wasn’t listed as available for this property. Without this, it just wouldn’t work for us.  Using a hotspot or dongle is very expensive.

Then, to top it off, the price is so reasonable, we didn’t ask for a discount for our long-term stay.  The total price is US $7,368.49 (ARS 140,325) for the 89 nights, including taxes, fees, and security deposit, for which we paid one-third down with the balance closer to the rental period.

This averages at US $82.79 (ARS 1,577) per night over the listed US $77 (ARS 1,466) per night, and also at US $2,518 (ARS 47,953) per month. Based on the fact that we often book wonderful properties for even less than this amount, it works out over the year to remain within our budgetary goals.

Eileen, the property owner, couldn’t have been more thoughtful and delightful to work with us in facilitating the booking process, and we have no doubt she’ll be equally kind and responsive based on all of the five-star reviews on the listing.

This house so well fits our perception of our goal of a “home in Ireland in the countryside with an ocean view” we couldn’t be happier to have found this home. Once we’re situated in Africa,  we’ll go back to researching other vacation/holiday homes/hotels we’ll need to wrap up for our newly posted itinerary. In case you missed it, the itinerary may be found here.

For today, we’re staying busy updating the budget with all of these changes and later head out for a walk and our nightly search for a good restaurant, which isn’t hard to accomplish in Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, January 9, 2017:

Regardless of the roads we took to explore the area, and we were never disappointed in Penguin, Tasmania. This scene reminded us of what one may find in a painting.  For more Penguin photos as we began to countdown to move on, please click here.

Worthwhile itinerary changes added more time we can spend in Minnesota visiting family…Newly revised itinerary here today…

Tom, looking good with his recent haircut and, of course, always with a smile on his face.
The smell of the white flowers on this tree was intoxicating.

Every few days, Tom checks prices on cruises we’ve booked.  A cruise booking benefit provided to US citizens (may not apply to citizens of other countries) is as follows: 

If a price drop occurs before the final payment’s due date (90 days before the cruise sail date), we can ask that the price be dropped to the new pricing on multiple occasions.  If the price increases at any time before final payment, it has no bearing on our final price.

Entrance to Jardin Botanico. No entrance fees are charged.

However, a stipulation on this benefit is that we are responsible for discovering these price drops.  Subsequently, almost daily, Tom checks prices online for all cruises we’ve booked, searching one by one.  Doing so has saved us thousands of dollars over these past five years.

A map was posted with the layout of the triangular facility.

Yesterday, while he was searching for price drops, he noticed a newly posted cruise: Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas, April 26, 2019, a transatlantic crossing with an almost identical itinerary to the cruise we booked a few days ago, with a slight difference in dates and number of sailing days at considerably lower pricing.

A few remaining flowers blooming late in the season.

Immediately, he got to work to contact Vacations to Go to book this particular cruise based on two pertinent facts that particularly appealed to us:  one; we’d be able to stay in Minnesota with family for four more nights going from 13 nights to 17 nights and; two, we’d save a considerable sum.

A garden of stock-type plants.

In doing so, we eliminate the necessity of staying in Amsterdam for 11 nights. Instead, we’ll be staying three nights which is plenty of time to spend in the big city. Based on research we’d done, it would be costly to stay in Amsterdam for the prior extended period.

A statue of Julius Caesar.

Here are the changes we made yesterday: 

Originally booked cruise:
Celebrity Reflection 4/22/2019 – 5/6/2019
$4,497.10 (inc tax, no tips, no perks) (ARS 84,892)
$150 (ARS 2,832) cabin credit

Change to a different cruise:
RC Serenade of the Seas  4/26/2019 – 5/12/2019
$2,806.32 (inc. tax, no tips, no perks) (ARS 52,975)
$325 (ARS 6135) cabin credit
Includes two extra nights

Four additional nights in Minnesota:
4/8/2019 – 4/25/2019

We didn’t enter the information building.

Savings differences:
Difference between cost of two cruises:  $1,698.78 (ARS 32,068)
Difference cabin credit:  $175 (ARS 3,283)
Total savings:  $1,865.78 (ARS 35,220)

As a result of these changes, we’ve adjusted the itinerary we posted on January 3, 2018, as follows. To avoid confusion for those that closely follow our itinerary, we felt it was important to post the revisions as shown below:

 Location  Days  Dates 
 Buenos Aires – Prodeo Hotel 
20*
 12/23/2017 – 1/23/2018 
 Ushuaia – Ushuaia – Antarctica Cruise 
16
 1/23/2018 – 2/8/2018 
 Buenos Aires – Prodeo Hotel 
2
 2/8/2018 – 2/10/2018 
 Marloth Park, South Africa 
89
2/11/2018 – 5/11/2018
  Zambezi River Cruise – Victoria Falls 
8
5/11/2018 – 5/19/2018
 Marloth Park, South Africa 
89
5/19/2018 – 8/16/2018
 Uganda – See gorillas,  Visit “Cradle of Mankind” in SA
7
8/16/2018 – 8/23/2018
 Marloth Park, South Africa 
89
 8/23/2018 – 11/20/2018 
Mozambique, Africa (get visa stamped) 
1
 11/20/2018 -11/21/2018 
 Marloth Park, South Africa 
89
 11/21/2019 – 2/17/2019 
 Valparaiso, Chili 
36
 2/17/2019 – 3/24/2019 
 Cruise – San Antonio, Chili – San Diego 
14
 3/24/2019 – 4/8/2019 
 San Diego – fly to Minnesota – Family Visit 
17
 4/8/2019 – 4/25/2019 
 Cruise – Fort Lauderdale to Copenhagen 
16
 4/26/2019 – 5/12/2019 
 Ireland –  rent country house – research Tom’s ancestry 
90
 5/12/2019 – 8/9/2019 
 Amsterdam – (wait for upcoming cruise) – hotel stay 
3
 8/9/2019 – 8/11/2019 
 Cruise, Baltic – Amsterdam to Amsterdam 
12
 8/11/2019 – 8/23/2019 
 England – rent countryside house 
62
 8/23/2019 – 10/24/2019 
 Southampton to Fort Lauderdale 
15
 10/24/2019 – 11/8/2019 
 Las Vegas, NV – Los Angeles, CA – Scottsdale, AZ 
25
 11/8/2019 – 12/3/2019 
 Ecuador – Galapagos – Rent vacation home 
89
 12/3/2019 – 3/01/2020 
 Peru – Machu Picchu – Rent holiday homes, visit site 
30
 3/1/2020 –  3/31/2020 
 The Pantanal/Amazon River Cruise – Brazil (2   cruises) 
30
 3/31/2020 – 4/30/2020 
 Number of days  
852

*When we prepared this itinerary on January 3, 2018, we had 20 remaining nights during the first stay at the Prodeo Hotel in Buenos Aires until we depart for the Antarctica cruise on January 23rd. We have 16 nights remaining until we depart, but we chose not to change the published itinerary reflecting this difference.

An alternate view of the information center.

Yesterday, we went sightseeing to the Carlos Thays Botanical Garden, a 10-minute taxi ride from our hotel. The cab fare was a paltry US $3.22  (ARS 60), but we walked back to the hotel on the perfect weather day with brilliant sunshine and temperatures around 72F (22C).

A statue of a wild dog nursing two human babies.  This statue depicts the Roman mythological story of Romulus and Remus.

The season of flowers blooming was late for the botanical garden since it’s mid-summer here now. However, we were able to take many good photos of plants, trees, and a few remaining blooming flowers. 

Unknown pods preparing to bloom.

We walked through the garden for a few hours. The garden is located in the city, and the 17 acres triangle-shaped facility was surrounded by busy roads on all sides, making our long walk a bit noisy. Nonetheless, we had a pleasant stroll through the property, leaving with many good photos.

Small flowers in a garden patch.

After leaving the botanical garden, we decided to walk the busy streets of an area of Palermo we’d yet to see.  The hustle and bustle of Saturday shoppers and a handful of tourists filled the sidewalks and roads. We had to carefully watch where we were walking due to the uneven pavement.

Bamboo tree.

After walking for some time, we took a side street to head back to our neighborhood, an hour-long walk. It felt good to be out and about in the fresh air, away from our laptops, after staying indoors in the comfortable lobby of the pleasing hotel where we’ve worked for many days on future planning.

A decorative pond with a statue.

By 6:00 pm, we headed out to dinner. We found yet another restaurant we’d yet to try. (Only one repeat thus far).  I had a glass of Malbec (wine), and Tom had a few beers. By 9:00 pm, we were back in our room to relax and read for a few hours. It was a great day, especially after we had the opportunity to extend our time in Minnesota with family and also save a good sum in the process.

These purple flowers, Agapanthus, looked familiar, and we remembered there were blooming wildly in New Zealand when we arrived in January 2016.  Thanks to friend Louise in Kauai for once again being a great resource for names of flowers, trees, and birds!

Next week, we’ll head out for more sightseeing.  For now, we’ll be sharing photos over the next several days from yesterday’s outing. As I sit here in the lobby now well afternoon, Tom is wearing his earbuds while watching football on his laptop as we fast approach the time for Super Bowl. With the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs, he is interested in how the competing teams are doing.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more. We look forward to “seeing you” then. Have a wonderful day, wherever you may be. 

Photo from one year ago today, January 7, 2017:

We saw Meerkats at a rescue center in Tasmania. These adorable creatures are marsupials in the mongoose family. For more details, please click here.