Household hazards…Treading carefully in vacation homes…Mindfulness is the key,,,

Standing at the low railing outside the master bedroom illustrates how one could fall over this railing to the brick floor or fountain below. Frightening!

Over the past year, we’ll have spent five and a half months living in houses 100 years old or more as here in
Marrakech and last summer in Italy, a 300-year-old property.
In each of these cases, we’ve experienced a similar situation, dangerous steps, and uneven stairways. What frequently causes steps to be dangerous, in their unexpected placement and unevenness in both height and depth in a stairway.

While living in Boveglio, Italy last summer, we’d posted photos of uneven stairways, but also of unexpected steps along a long hallway, a dangerous tripping hazard. Add the fact that if one fell they could easily bang their head on the stone or brick walls or floor adding to the risk of serious or fatal injuries. For photos and details of the tripping hazards in the old house in Italy, please click here.
When booking Dar Aicha, the riad in Marrakech, we anticipated that there would be many steps throughout the
riad, some uneven, others unexpected. We were right. They are everywhere.

The extra-long draperies kept closed to keep the sandflies out also creates a potential tripping hazard if one isn’t mindful when exiting.

From our perspective, unexpected steps are more hazardous than uneven stairways. Why? When going up and down stairways, aware of the risks, we tend to be more careful in general, holding onto a railing or wall if no railing is available while stepping gingerly.

Simply leaving one room to walk into another is often done without thought, resulting in tripping. The ultimate key to avoid tripping lies in a single word: mindfulness.

This has been a learning experience for me, the proverbial “bull in a China shop.” For Tom, having walked on uneven areas while working on the railroad for over 42 years, he has ingrained mindfulness. 

This is the stairwell from the main floor to the second floor. Although not easy to detect in this photo, the stone steps are high and shallow not fully fitting one’s shoe as each step is taken.

Luckily, I’ve had Tom at my side to “educate” me since the onset of our travels. When we walk, he always says, “step,” “two steps,” etc. ensuring I’m noticing what’s upcoming. With my camera in hand when we’re out, I’m often oblivious to uneven walkways, steps, and stairways.

In the process, I’ve become more mindful, able to easily maneuver throughout the riad, constantly aware of the possibility of tripping. Of course, this is not to say a fall is impossible or unlikely. 

One area of major concern while living in Dar Aicha has been when stepping outside of the master bedroom onto the second level balcony. The heavy drapes covering the doorway, necessary to be closed at all times to keep sandflies out, have two feet of excess material at the bottom, in itself a tripping hazard. 

There are two shallow steps to maneuver into and out of the master bedroom. 

With the two steps to navigate with a wide landing in between, required to get from the bedroom to the hallway, it’s an accident waiting to happen. From the photos we’ve posted here today, it may be difficult to determine how easily one could trip while coming out of the bedroom, either on the drapes or on either of the two steps resulting in being flung over the railing to the brick floor below in the open courtyard. Yikes! This possibility has scared us. 

Falls are the leading cause of household deaths worldwide. When adding the injuries incurred inside and outdoors one’s home from tripping and falling, it proves that even in one’s familiar surroundings the hazards are rampant. We’ve all seen the possible debilitation of a senior citizen’s health when breaking a hip from a fall, a common occurrence. 

As we’ve mentioned in the past, “Fear is a powerful motivator.” Maintaining the fear may be responsible for maintaining mindfulness.  Each time either of us steps outsides the bedroom door, we do so with the utmost of care. 

In this photo, the short distance from the two steps necessary to exit the master bedroom is evident which has prompted us both to be extremely careful.

With ten days remaining until we leave Marrakesh, we remind ourselves not to become careless by taking our newfound familiarity with the layout of the riad for granted. 

Another area of concern is when walking in the souks and in restaurants. There are dangerous steps and uneven stairways in almost every restaurant we’ve visited. Here again, we both tend to mention “step” to one another everywhere we may go, continuing to do so as we continue in our worldwide travels.

The final step is in the lower portion of this photo a short distance from the doorway, too close to the short railing.

Having the experience of being injured when the steps collapsed under our feet in Belize on the night of our anniversary on March 7, 2013, no fault of our own, we’ve upped our mindfulness. Please click here for the link to the story and photos from that date.

Please share this post with your family members and friends as a reminder to be mindful wherever they may walk and perhaps together we may prevent an injury or worse. 

Photo from one year ago today, May 5, 2013:
No photos were posted on this particular date.  In this short period as we progress further into our travels, we won’t have many dates without photos taken, as we’ve become more and more diligent in taking new photos for our daily postings. 

Yesterday, we didn’t include a photo from one year ago which we’ve included below when we’d instead posted a tribute to a dear friend that we sadly lost.

Photo from one year ago today, May 5, 2013:

The Palais Longchamp in Marseilles, France which we visited on May 4, 2013.

For the link of the story and more photos when we visited Marseilles, France on May 4, 2013, please click here.

For the link of the story from May 5, 2013, please click here.

A romantic day in Marseilles…Photos…

Le Grand Hotel in Marseilles, France.

He went kicking and screaming. My dear husband Tom, not one to do lines, participate in group activities, ride on a bus with tourists or wander through crowded areas, tentatively agreed to go on an excursion with me to Marseilles, France. 

Now a popular department store.

Had he chosen not to go, I would have gone on my own, determined not to miss seeing the second largest city in France’s southern coastal area.

Lifestyles of the rich and famous, an endless array of watercraft, some small and unassuming, others stunning and opulent, all a part of the resort atmosphere of the city of Marseilles.

No doubt, the prospect of being herded like cattle onto the bus was most annoying to him. But the bus was newer, air conditioned and surrounded with massive windows suitable for photo taking.

As we looked out at the island of the Count of Monte Christo, the tour guide explained that no such person actually existed.  But tourists arrive from all over the world to see the supposed island of the fictional Count.

Packed in the narrow seats, we took off from the parking lot near the pier for a full afternoon of
experiencing the sights and sounds of the city of Marseilles. As mentioned yesterday, the cost for two for the excursion was $150 which included a 21% VAT (value added tax).

Historic church we zoomed past.  Couldn’t get the name.

As we arrived at our first destination,  the famous Palais de Longchamps, renowned opulent “water tower” (it didn’t resemble a water tower in any manner) Tom grumbled as we exited the bus, preferring to wait on the bus while I got off to enthusiastically take photos.   

Palais de Longchamp is not a palace, instead a tribute to importance of the water supply in Marseilles. Please click here for historical significance.
Unfortunately, we only had 10 minutes at this site, preventing us from further exploration.

With only 10 minutes until we were required to return to the bus, he had a ready-made excuse to hurry me along. So impatient! I didn’t protest while doing exactly as I pleased, all the while ignoring his grumpy demeanor, which I’d learned to do long ago. 

Sidewalk café where Tom ate his ice cream.
The selection of gelato was mouth watering. 

I don’t fight. Nope, I won’t fight. I refuse to participate in the idle ranting of a grump. Have you ever caught anyone fighting when there is no audience? We don’t fight without a willing participant. 

The gelato shop, Regal Glace Café was located on the Place Gabriel Peri, a quaint location down the road from massive marina.  See Tom in the foreground enjoying his gelato as I took the photo.

So, long ago, I decided to be void of reaction to his occasional grumblings, knowing in a short time he’d lose interest and go back to his generally cheerful self.

Back on the bus, he mumbled under his breath, “Next time we stop, I’m not getting off the bus.”

“OK,” I calmly retorted, a smile on my face as I peered out the window at the wealth of beauty, a feast for the eyes, as we drove along the coast.

A short time later when we arrived at the Arche en Bord de Mer, I said “Excuse me, Honey,” as I unbuckled my seat belt in preparation for getting off the bus. 
Tom happy in front of the Arch.
 Me, equally happy that he is off the bus.
A kindly passenger on bus offered to take a photo of us together. 

Immediately, he stood, extending his hand to me as we made our way down the steep steps of the bus together both grinning from ear to ear. 

A little sandwich shop along the street. 

Thus, our romantic day in Marseilles began leaving us with memories we’ll treasure forever. 

Sycamore trees beginning to bloom as spring approaches.  The weather was cool.

Whether it was a walk along the busy streets near the marina, Tom’s chocolate mint and coconut cream, gelato cone from a shop along the street where a purchase is required to use the restroom (always the case in France, so we learned), or again sitting at a minuscule table on the sidewalk watching passersby, we were in heaven.

Taking photos while the bus zipped along the winding road was difficult through the glass.

Marseilles, a city of great food, entertainment, art, interesting architecture, massive estates of the rich and famous, was made picturesque by it’s close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea.

Love this street sign!

With its seeming endless array of marinas, yachts, beaches, restaurants, bistros, coffee shops and patisseries along the coast, it was easy to become entrenched in the romanticism of this city of 850,000. 

The narrow streets were a wealth of one interesting building after another. Marseilles is a very clean city, a delight to behold.

For us, the hustle and bustle of the city was a delight to behold as a visitor, but such a life would not appeal to us in the long term. We’re not “city people” preferring a more quiet lifestyle surrounded by nature and wildlife.

Taking this photo on foot, as we had an opportunity to walk the area, was the fastest moving 40 minutes of our lives.

Marseilles, although rich in character and style, was void of vegetation with a but a smattering of trees which most likely would be adorned with colorful flowers later in the season. It was still quite cool, the summer season soon to arrive. It’s temperate climate is comparable to California, adding to its draw for the affluent, tourists and retirees.

An old merry-go-round amid the office buildings and shop seemed perfectly in place in this charming city.

Our tour guide explained that a tiny two bedroom appartment near the coast would begin at no less than US $1.5 million, not necessarily affordable for most retirees. 

Arriving back to the pier at 5:30 PM, we were practically floating on air from a glorious day in Marseilles. Now, I am as determined as ever that we’ll spend such a day (or more) in Paris sometime in the future. 

Maybe then, he won’t go kicking and screaming as he recalls our memorable day in Marseilles.

Barcelona, Part 2…Photos of city….Sagrada Familia…

The Farmacia Bouyat where we purchased the contact lens solution. The pharmacist spoke no English, but pointed to a water bottle and my eyes made our request easy for her to understand. The two bottle pack cost roughly US $8, very reasonable.

Barcelona, a historic city steeped in rich history is cacophony of one massive architecturally interesting building after another. 

Since we’ll be returning to Barcelona for 24 hours after this four day second leg of this back-to-back cruise, we thought if we took the time to see at least one major historical attraction, we’d have more time when we return.

The outdoor café where we surprisingly found a table for two, ordering a drink while enjoying people watching.  This simple activity fulfilled a fantasy of mine to experience such an outdoor café in Europe.

Our choice for the day’s trip included two cab rides, one delightful stop for drinks at an outdoor café on the boulevard near the Sagrada Familia and the purchase of my contact lens solution for a total cost of $100. 

When we exited the ship we purchased Euros $136 with US $200. When we returned to the ship, we had spent half. Had we gone on an excursion, part of the time would have been spent at a shopping area for which we have no interest. The excursions ranged from $140 per couple to as much as $5500 per couple. 

Tom looks up at the Sagrada Familia as we sat in the outdoor café.

Much to our surprise, we’ve decided on an excursion today to see Marseilles France. As we sit in our favorite booth at the Garden Café, as I write this now, we are overlooking the alps of Marseilles, a sight to behold.  Tomorrow, we’ll share the photos of our group exploration, a first for us now on our 6th cruise since January 3, 2013.  The cost of this excursion is $150 per couple including a 21% tax. 

As it turns out there is a 21% VAT (valued added) tax on just about everything in the European Union, including alcohol, goods and services. It’s a tough pill to swallow. Unfortunately, I hadn’t budgeted for these taxes (live and learn). Thus, we’ll be tightening our belts too compensate.

The drive along the streets to Sagrada Familia.

So, off we went after a 20 minute cab drive through the traffic congested streets of Barcelona, horns blaring, cop whistles blowing as they shouted at drivers and pedestrians walking willy-nilly with little regard for their surroundings. Life in big cities everywhere has a distinct similarity.

Gaudi, the architect responsible for the design and building of  Sagrada Familia and many historical buildings throughout the city of Barcelona.

Our hope had been to enter the church, over 100 years in the making. Unfortunately, it was not open to individual tourists. Apparently, group bookings with two hour lines has superseded the opportunity for anyone else to enter. Had we signed up for a pricey excursion, we’d have been waiting in one of those “around the block” lines. 

Sagrada Familia

Alas, we weren’t disappointed, instead enjoying the exterior views from a number of vantage points in the general area, especially when seated at the outdoor café. The people watching was equally entertaining.

Its massive size made photo taking tricky, so enjoy these various shots.
More than 100 years in the making.

In the afternoon, we returned to the ship as we experienced the stressful security incident with the knife, as outlined in the post of yesterday.

The intricate details are breathtaking.
Notice the varying coloration.
It’s no wonder that it is taking so many years to build this intricate monstrosity.

As the Norwegian Epic has “reloaded” with a new batch of passengers while in Barcelona, we find at least 75% of the passengers are European, many not English speaking. 

We gasped observing the many aspects of this amazing structure.
Cranes were in place for many years at the towering structure is built.
The local buildings left us in awe as we drove through the city.

Since last night at dinner, we’ve met two lovely couples from the UK. The conversation has been enriching as they share their varied experiences of world travel, as we soak up every morsel of their suggestions.

The  Arch or Arc de Triomphe (not unlike the structure of the similar name in France)
A fountain shot we got while driving in the cab.
Tourist buses were everywhere packed to the rafters with tourists.

We’ll be back tomorrow with photos of our visit to Marseilles, France. Please stop by.