Final expenses for Maharajas Express…Safari photos from Ranthambore National Park

Two baby barns owls peering out from the safety of the hollow in the tree in Ranthambore National Park.
Expenses   US Dollar       Indian           Rupee 
Maharajas Express Train
Fare for 2 
$ 11,996.00 857905.94
Tips   $     433.38 30993.60
Taxi   $        –               
Dining Out   $     115.43          8255.09
Visa Fees – India for
 $     120.00 8581.92
ATM fees   $       24.30 1737.84
Total   $ 12,689.11 907474.39
Avg Daily Cost (6 night train-2 nights hotel in Mumbai)   $   1,586.14 113434.30

No, we didn’t spot the elusive Bengal tiger in Ranthambore National Park in Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, northern India on Friday’s safari when we disembarked the Maharajas Express at the train station.
Nearly dry river bed.

There were several reasons, based on our relatively vast safari experiences, that may have been instrumental in not spotting a tiger. They include:

1.  The driver of the noisy 20 passenger safari vehicle, simply drove too fast through the park causing loud noises that could easily prevent a possible sighting when tigers are elusive and sensitive to loud noises.

Kingfisher.

2.  Driving slowly with all passenger’s eyes on the lookout for a sighting would have greatly increased our odds.

3.  Loud talking: The tour guide, although seemingly knowledgeable about the park, spoke and yelled out in loud tones that would easily have prevented a sighting of a tiger, let alone other wildlife. Often times, the guides were yelling out to one another as we passed along the narrow route.
Monkey searching for morsels of food.

Once we entered the park, Tom and I looked at one another, with the knowledge that it would be highly unlikely we’d see a tiger under the above circumstances.

We don’t blame the Maharajas Express. 
Spotted deer.

Most likely few, if any, passengers, would have voiced these concerns, especially if they’ve never been on safari in the past. The speed at which the driver was maneuvering through the rough roads, make it especially difficult for the senior-aged passengers. 

Wildflowers blooming at the river’s edge.

One kind woman, Carol from Australia, with whom we made a good connection, literally fell out of her seat landing on the floor of the vehicle injuring her hip and breaking her finger. This could have happened to anyone of us when the bumps were so outrageous we could barely hang on for dear life.

Antelopes in India are similar to kudus in Africa but, without the prominent white markings.

By the time the short two-hour safari came to an end, we were all rattled after the extraordinarily bumpy ride. Oh, as our readers know we’ve been on many safaris over bumpy roads, but nothing and I mean nothing, compares to that outrageous ride for two hours.

Termite mounds, considerably smaller than those in Africa.

The early morning was chilly. The train staff provided us with woolen blankets. Although both Tom and I were bundled up in our warmest clothing and the blankets, our hands and faces were cold as the safari vehicle ripped through the jungle.

Banyan tree.

We still have four or five more game drives scheduled during our 55-night tour of India, but this time, we’ll be on our own with the guides and surely will provide some input as to how we’d like the safaris conducted. This is not meant to be arrogant, by any means. But more so it’s an attempt to improve the odds of spotting wildlife we long to see in India.

Crocodile on the bank of the river at the Ranthambore National Park.

Today, while in New Delhi, we were out on a tour with a driver and our own personal tour guide, Subi, in both the old and the new Delhi. We visited some outstanding venues and look forward to sharing them with all of you over the next few days. Our hotel, the Metropolitan in New Delhi is excellent.

Shallow river in the national park.

Whew! We’ve had quite a busy schedule since we left Arizona, 11 days ago and there’s more than we can imagine in days to come. Please stay tuned.


Have a pleasant day and evening.

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Photo from one year ago today, February 9, 2019:

The four piglets certainly have grown over the past six months.  They are so fun to watch. For more phtotos, please click here.

Final expenses, Baltic cruise…Final sailing day…Stockholm, Sweden photos…

Please see our final cruise expenses at the end of today’s text. With the poor WiFi connection, I wasn’t able to move the expenses box to be contained within the text or load captions due to the poor signal.  Please excuse the inconvenience.


The cruise is winding down.  Tomorrow morning we disembark in Amsterdam to take a taxi to the airport and fly to Exeter, England where we’ll pick up a car and drive for approximately two hours until we arrive at our next holiday rental in Falmouth, England.


It’s wonderful knowing this cruise is ending only to result in our starting our next adventure for two months in England, staying in what appears to be four unique and exciting country cottages.




Once we began our travels I had a vision of living in a stone cottage in the English countryside and now this dream will be fulfilled.  For us, it’s always the “simple life” that brings the greatest pleasure and purpose of our world travels.




Today is our last full day at sea and the ship is a flurry of activity with passengers booking new cruises, meeting up with others they’ve met along the way and reminiscing about the experiences of the past almost 12 days and nights.





Last night, once again we had dinner with our favorite little group including American partners Fred and Larry and British mother Deborah and adult son James. The conversation and laughter are neverending with this six-person group and thus we booked a special table with our favorite waiter for tonight’s final dinner at 7:45.





Last night we stayed up late once again watching passengers dancing to a variety of “oldies” in the Centrum.  It was the first time in my life, I couldn’t participate in the lively dancing.  Tom and I love dancing together, especially to “oldies” of the right beat (to us anyway).







Trying not to feel sorry for myself I couldn’t help but wonder if I’ll ever be able to dance again.  Right now, it doesn’t feel as if I could.  But, hopeful that I am, I’m now dreaming of the day when I’ll have my strength back and be on steady legs.  Right now, my legs feel as if they’re made of jello and it takes everything I have to keep from falling flat on my face.





I believe this is a result of the medications and the weaning process, tentative walking being listed as a major side effect while on the drugs and also while attempting to wean off of them, possibly lasting for many months.  





If I knew for sure that an end to the discomfort was in sight, it would be a lot easier.  But, like life itself, nothing is certain.  All we know is the moment we’re living and how important it is to treasure it as it occurs.  It’s challenging not to project into the future.





This morning I reduced the dose of the Bisoprolol in one more increment.  I’m now down about 70%.  I’ll wait another four or five days until I attempt to reduce it again.





The most common side effects of the withdrawal of this beta blocker are increased heart rate and blood pressure, breathing issues, at times to dangerous levels and also coughing and painful walking.  I am monitoring these closely.  Once the body adjusts, for most people, the rates return to more “normal” levels and the pain eventually dissipates.





Before I started weaning off this drug, my pulse was in the 40s and 50s causing me to feel exhausted and short-winded.  Now, as I’ve reduced the dose, it’s running between the 60s and 90s. My blood pressure is low.  We’ll see how it goes.





Oh, I am sorry to go on and on about my health but, let’s face it, it has a huge impact on our travels.  If we were living in a condo somewhere in a warm climate, I could easily have fallen into the trap of being the “perpetual patient” going back and forth to doctors to answer every question that comes to mind.





Now, I lean on reputable scientific research to guide me through this process.  I’ve read in many cases how many cardiologists have suggested their patients stop these drugs “cold turkey” while others warn patients to be hospitalized during the weaning process.  Go figure.


Medical information is misleading and doctors can have varying “opinions” on how to treat their patients, especially cardiologists.  I’ve chosen to go to the “middle ground” and try to work this out on my own.  



Of course, if anything untoward were to occur, we’d immediately seek medical attention.  Also, if my pulse or blood pressure rise too much, I always have the option to increase the dose short-term to get me through a bad spell and then try again a few days later.  Right now, I’m holding my own.


As the day quickly sails by (no pun intended), we find it hard to believe this cruise in over. We’ve already packed our bags, leaving out clothes to wear tonight and tomorrow.  Since our bags will be whisked away at 10:00 pm tonight, most likely, we’ll wear the same outfits tomorrow that we’ve worn tonight.


Today’s photos are those we took while in Stockholm, Sweden riding on the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus that we decided to try one more time.  With no rain this time, the photos were better.  


We were able to ride on the top deck without windows providing us with a clear view. It’s not easy taking photos from a fast-moving bus, but we did our best and are delighted to share these with you today.


Most likely, we won’t be able to prepare a full post tomorrow but we’ll let you know we’ve arrived at our new holiday rental in the late afternoon. We’ll be busy unpacking and washing clothes.  Hopefully, we’ll have a few new photos to share!


Be well.  Be healthy.  Be happy.

Expense US Dollar Euro
Cruise Fare  $          4,313.84                      3,894.36
Airfare –   $             385.00                    347.56
Hotel & Meals Amsterdam- $              440.00                    397.21      
Taxi   $             102.00                      92.08
Cabin Credit  $              (150.00)                  (135.41)
Wi-Fi on ship  $                227.40                     205.29
Gratuities  $                520.00                     469.44  
Miscellaneous  $                   82.00                       74.03
Tours  $                 930.00                     839.57   
Total  $             6850.24                   6184.12
Avg Daily Cost – 12 nights  $              570.85                     515.24



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Photo from one year ago today, August 22, 2018:
While on safari in Chobe National Park in Botswana, we were excited to get a view of the leopard’s face after waiting for a considerable period while Samson, our guide kept moving the vehicle for better shots.  Upon careful inspection of this photo, you can see the pads of the feet of her kill in the tree near her head.   For more photos, please click here.

Money, Money, Money…A song and also real life!….

Every evening around dusk, prior to Frank and the Mrs. (to his left) go off into the bush to “make their noise” announcing the beginning of the night, they stop by the veranda steps for birdseed which we happily provide for them.  Whatever is left is eaten by either the helmeted guinea fowl or believe it or not, the warthogs.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Every night the bushbabies find their way to their little stand and gobble up the fruity yogurt we place there.  They often tip the cup, occasionally dropping it to the ground.  Tom always picks it up and places it back on the stand for them.

Last night we paid the second big chunk of an installment for the upcoming Kenya tour in February.  It’s an expensive tour and we cringed over the price considering our budget constraints especially when last night we paid well over ZAR 73,437 (US $5,000) for the second of three installments as required by the tour contract.

Elephants on the Crocodile River enjoying their day.

Last week after we returned from Zambia and Botswana we paid rent for three upcoming months in Marloth Park, which is typical when living in rental holiday/vacation homes.  Generally, with popular properties, long-term renters pay large sums at a time, rather than paying monthly.

Most wildlife gravitates to the river for water, cooling off and rich sources of nourishment.

Most often, when having a permanent home, one doesn’t pay three, four or five months in advance.  Plus, when booking tours, vacations/holidays, it may be for only one or two trips a year.


For us, we have to pay so much in advance to secure plans for the future that it’s not surprising we cringe when having to lay out large sums of money well in advance of plans far down the road.

A hornbill and “Frank and the Mrs.” our resident francolins.

We use credit cards to pay for all of our expenses when we can’t use banking’s “bill pay” or send checks (which we consider an antiquated means of paying anyway in these high tech times). We prefer not to use “bank transfers” for security reasons.  


Keeping track of all of these transactions requires a tremendous amount of diligence and record keeping to maintain one’s sanity and sense of where we are financially at any given moment.

Two wildebeests, neither of them Wildebeest Willie, stopped by for treats with Tusker in the background and numerous helmeted guinea fowl who were hoping for a few pellets for themselves.

Every few months, we reviewed every upcoming dollar to be spent for current and future travels, referring to our comprehensive Excel spreadsheets of many pages.  On top of that, we must keep diligent records for tax purposes.


In our old lives, once a month we entered all our bills into our bank’s bill pay feature, never giving it much of a thought until the next month.  In this life, we must constantly stay on top of our current and future expenses, deposits paid, balances due and projected expenses for the future based on historical experience.

A mating pair of ostriches. The female is brown while the males are predominantly black.

Need I say, this is a daunting task that those considering long-term world travel may not consider.  It’s imperative when booking for the future to first consider the budget, above all other interests and desires.  


We don’t mean to sound like “tightwads” but, the future success of continuing the travel the world is entirely predicated by careful financial planning, as well as maintaining good health.  Both of these vital areas could easily “get away from us” if we weren’t a cautious as we’ve chosen to be.

Mom, Auntie, and Tiny Baby who only months ago was the tiniest warthog we’d ever seen.

One can easily imagine when living on a fixed income, how disastrous it could be to find oneself living beyond their means and running it money difficulties.  It would take away all of the joy and adventure of living this peculiar life on the move.

Wildebeest Willie stops by to check out the pellet action.

Instead, we carefully monitor all of our spending to ensure we stay within the confines of our budget.  Special purchases we may have once enjoyed are a thing of the past. 


Every financial move is calculated even to the point that we can’t dine out two or three times a week, nor can we flippantly select preferred rental cars, or even holiday rental homes.  Our most recent tiny, little car was ZAR 14,687 (US $1000) for three months (as mentioned in an earlier post).

Here again, Tusker is in the background awaiting an opportunity to get in on the pellet frenzy.  He visits several times a day while these or other zebras may stop by a few times a week.

And yes, we bounce around on these bumpy dirt roads more than ever in this recent car but it doesn’t keep us from getting out to explore as we have all along.  


As a matter of fact, after we spent most of the morning updating and working on the “money, money, money,” (click here for the Abba song) we’re excited to take off soon for another of those bumpy rides, always providing us with such pleasure to be a part of the magical world surrounding us here in the park.

This is our favorite warthog, Tusker.  He knows his name and turns around in one quick pivot when I call him.  It’s hysterical!  He’s actually very sweet to all of the other animals, politely waiting his turn.

For all of our reader/friends in the US, please have a safe and meaningful Labor Day weekend as you wind down the summer months.  Here in South Africa, we’re ramping us for spring to begin soon on September 21st.


We’re worlds apart in distance but close at hand in our hearts.  Happy day!

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Photo from one year ago today, September 1, 2017:

One year ago, we reviewed September firsts throughout the years of our travels including the above photo and caption here:  The day we arrived in Kenya on September 2, 2013, we were shocked to discover that there was no living room, no salon, no sofa, no chair nor a dining table and chairs on the interior of the house.  In other words, we spent three months living outdoors on this veranda with no screens, venomous insects on the floors, furniture, and walls and outrageous heat and humidity (no AC, no TV).  We adapted spending from 7 am to 11 pm outdoors every day for three months, less the time we went on safari in the Masai Mara.  What a good learning experience this was!  By the time we reached South Africa after leaving Kenya, we had no interest in being indoors in the two air-conditioned living rooms in the Marloth Park house.  Again, we spent every day and night outdoors!  How quickly us humans can adapt! For the one year ago post, please click here.

Hospital visit for the knee…Favorite photos from Buenos Aires…12 hour countdown until departure…What if we can’t post due to a poor signal?…

Our favorite graffiti art.

The Minnesota Vikings game last night was hard to watch.  They were brutally beaten leaving us fans sorely disappointed with but a tinge of hope for the future, as always.

By the time we got into bed last night, it was after midnight.  We both had a bad night’s sleep. As soon as I got into bed I noticed my leg was throbbing, more swollen and red.  I got up several times to ice it with no relief at all. I don’t think I slept for more than three hours and Tom didn’t do much better.

Fireworks on New Year’s Eve from our hotel rooftop.

This morning while preparing today’s post I told Tom the pain in my knee was worsening by the minutes, since last night.  With so little time remaining until our 3:15 am drive to the airport, I knew something had to be done.

We grabbed a taxi and headed to the large local private hospital recommended by our hotelier Alessandro, Santorio De Los Arcos, which was only a five-minute ride.  Within an hour I was seen by the doctor, examined and diagnosed with an infection.  

An adorable little e parrot sitting atop a bird bath.

No wonder my knee was red, hot and swollen, keeping me awake almost all night.  The entire bill for the emergency room visit and the prescription came to a grand total of US $62.68 (ARS $1,200)!  I wonder how much that would have cost in the US or other countries with outrageous medical costs.

The pharmacy is located next to the hospital.  Tom left me seated in a wheelchair in the lobby while he got the prescription for antibiotics filled.  Sure, I despise having to take antibiotics but I’d also despise having an infected leg situation escalate while in Antarctica. 

Carved-in-stone wall art.

I can’t express how grateful I am that we went to the hospital this morning.  Hopefully, the meds kick in soon and I’ll be on the mend and able to participate in.  When I fell the skin broke slightly.  When we returned to the hotel I washed it with hot soapy water and used hydrogen peroxide. 

Apparently, this wasn’t enough prevention to avoid an infection appearing three days later.  If we’d gone one or two days earlier the infection wouldn’t have been obvious and I wouldn’t have been given antibiotics.  Whew!  Safari luck!

More amazing wall art on the side of a building in Palermo.

Tonight, we’re hoping we’ll be tired enough to be able to fall asleep by 9:00 pm in order to awaken by 2:45 am to head out the door.  By this time tomorrow, we’ll have arrived in Ushuaia and at a local upscale hotel where we’ll have lunch and spend part of the day.

By 2:00 or 3:00 pm, we’ll be escorted to the pier in Ushuaia where we’ll board the ship and check in for the 5:00 pm sail away.  It won’t be until we’re onboard that we’ll be able to figure out the Wi-Fi situation and sign up for a plan, suitable for our needs. 

My favorite meal at La Cabrera where we dined five times during our 31-night stay in Buenos Aires. The small side cup is unsweetened buttery pumpkin mash.

There are many comments in the Ponant cruise documents that the Wi-Fi signal is not going to be good once we’re a distance from Ushuaia.  As for tomorrow’s post, we’re still hoping to have time to prepare it today and set it up for an automatic upload at the usual time tomorrow.  It will contain the final expenses for 31-night in at the Prodeo Hotel and a short review of the hotel.

Tom ordered this massive steak four our of five times at La Cabrera.

Please keep in mind, that we’ll be preparing a post daily for the 17-days we’ll be on the ship (actually, it’s 16-nights, but the cruise line refers to it as 17-days).  Certain days, perhaps three or four in a row or more, we won’t have a good enough signal to upload the posts. 


Once we receive a good signal, we’ll upload the posts for each of the days we’ve missed.  However, we’ll only be able to upload a few photos with each post, if at all.  Once the cruise ends, we’ll upload more of our photos and any remaining posts we’d yet to upload. 

Tom, at the botanical garden.

All in all, there will be 16 or 17 days of posts until we return to Buenos Aires on February 8th where we’ll stay for two more nights until departing for Africa.  During this period, we’ll make every attempt to get “caught up.”  If we don’t have enough time to do so, once we get settled in Marloth Park, we’ll finish the missing posts with photos.


This is a similar process as to when we were on safari in the Masai Mara and the Serengeti in Kenya in 2013.  We had an awful signal and couldn’t get most of our stories and photos uploaded until we were back in Diani Beach, Kenya.  But then, we posted a new story with photos each day, for many days.

After Tom’s excellent haircut at a little nearby barbershop.

Of course, we’ll be bombarded with new and exciting current events as they occur in Marloth Park during this period.  No worries, we’ll keep it all separated and easy to read.


Thanks to all of our readers who wrote to me offering prayers and warmest wishes for a fast recovery.  That means so much to both of us.  And, once again, we’re disappointed to be sharing another medical issue but, as we’ve always promised, we make every attempt to “tell it like it is.”

Me, at the botanical garden.

Please continue to check back each day for new posts and don’t be discouraged if an expected post isn’t available.  Please know, we are thinking of all of you and passionately taking Antarctica photos, excited to share it with all of you.

The mausoleum for the famous Duarte family including Evita (Duarte) Peron’s remains.

Hugs and best wishes to all of our friends/readers!  Stay well! We’ll “see” you again soon! (Hopefully, by tomorrow with the final expenses).
                    __________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, January 22, 2017:

I had to take all of our photos as we arrived in Hobart, Tasmania while the car was moving due to a lack of shoulder which is always challenging.  For more photos, please click here.

Cruise to South America comes to an end – Final expenses and favorite photos…Tom’s 65th birthday…

Manta, Ecuador.

“Sightings from the Veranda while Cruising”

Torre De Las Couminicaciones or Antel Tower is a 157 tall meter building
on the shore of the bay in Montevideo, Uruguay.


We apologize for today’s late posting.  Disembarking the ship and getting settled in the hotel in Buenos Aires kept us busy all morning.  Tom is currently taking a short nap while I tackle today’s story.  Here we go!

Here’s our final expenses for the 30-night cruise to South America:

Expense US Dollar Notes
Cruise Fare  $                  8,388.32
Airfare   $                     246.42  Costa Rica to Miami 
Hotel in Miami  $                        18.46  Used credits Hotels.com 
Taxi   $                     130.00
Cabin Credit  $                   (550.00)
Wi-Fi  $                     430.00  inc. on second leg 
Gratuities  $                     405.00  inc. on second leg 
Tours & Restaurant  $                    351.86  inc dining  Miami & Cayman  
Additional Gratuities  $                     255.00
Cruise Bill for Purchases  $                     678.13  inc. camera 
Total  $                10,353.19
Avg Daily Cost – 31 days  $                     333.97  inc. one night in hotel in FL 

Feeling festive on the final night of the 30-night cruise, we stayed up way too late.  From the Cáptain’s Club happy hour party from 5:00 t0 7:00 pm, to the delightful dinner table of eight at the Trellis Restaurant to the fun chatting with our favorite bartender Kadak (from Bali) to visiting with more new friends in the Constellation Bar for the final “silent disco” the evening couldn’t have been more varied and fun.

Panama Canal.

At midnight we fell into bed exhausted. Hours earlier our packed and tagged bags had been taken from outside our cabin door to be stored overnight for morning pickup after the shuttle bus ride at 7:30 am to the port building.

Pisco, Peru.

We were up and about by 6:00 am, a little worn for the wear but anxious to get on our way to the Prodeo Hotel in the popular Palermo district of Buenos Aires.  It proved to be the quickest and most efficient debarkation we’ve had to date after 21 cruises in the past five years.

Arica, Chile.

Then, of course, today is Tom’s 65th birthday which with little merriment on the agenda, we reached the boutique hotel by 8:30 after a 30-minute taxi ride through the busy city.  Luckily, it was Saturday and the traffic was considerably lighter than we heard it could be.

Where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet in Cape Horn, the end of the world.

Buenos Aires is a city of over 12,000,000 people with some of the most harrowing and dangerous traffic in the world. As a result, we plan to do most of our sightseeing on the weekends, when it’s not quite as wild.

The Chilean Fiords.

In an attempt to keep costs to a minimum and to avoid staying in a less-than-desirable neighborhood, we chose this small hotel in the popular and more upscale Palermo district where we should be able to walk or take a short taxi ride for most of our needs.

Glaciers in the Straits of Magellan.

The hotelier has booked a dinner reservation for Tom’s birthday tonight at 6:00 pm not the later seatings at 10:00 or 11:00 pm, we’ve heard so much about as typical in Buenos Aires.  As tired as we are, an early evening will be in order.

Huge statue in Puerto Montt, Chile.

As I finally write here now sitting in our somewhat stylish room, we’re in a quandary about a few things.  The water isn’t potable so we’ll have to go out and purchase bottled water.

The Chilean Fiords.

There’s a virtual laundry list of items we’ll need to be a little more at ease but we’ll report back on these tomorrow once we have a chance to speak to the person in charge, Alessandro, whom we’ll meet with as soon as I upload this post. 

Lizard eating vegetation at the park in Manta, Ecuador.

Tom watched the first of five Minnesota Vikings games he missed while on the cruise, while I unpacked as best as I could with no available drawers and little closet space. We have a few ideas we’ll run by Alessandro hoping for a viable solution.

Sun setting while at sea.

We loved the cruise; the wonderful friends we made; the ports of call and the many days at sea.  Sure, there’s always a few areas one could complain about but we seldom care to spend time whinging about what is wrong when so much is right, the same of which is true here at this affordable hotel.

Us with new friends, Lisa and Barry whom we’ll see again in June.

We’ll be back tomorrow with Buenos Aires photos, our dinner out tonight for Tom’s birthday and more.

Barry, Lisa, Me and Tom at dinner in the private wine room at Tuscan Grill specialty restaurant.

Thanks to all of our dear readers for staying with us during the lengthy cruise including the quiet seas days when we had less to share.  We appreciate each and every one of you.

Typical street with historic buildings in Montevideo, Uruguay,

And, happy birthday to the man of my dreams, who provides me with a life of joyful splendor and perpetual playful anticipation,  I love you with all of my heart.

Produce stand in Montevideo, Uruguay.
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Photo from one year ago today, December 23, 2016:


Mersey Beach bluff in Tasmania, where we dined for Tom’s birthday.  For more details, please click here.

Dining in Nicaragua…Returning to Costa Rica this morning…Final expenses for the weekend in Managua…

Tom slathered this entire warm Italian loaf with garlic butter, savoring every last bite. 

When we decided to fly to Managua as opposed to the long drive through the rain soaked countryside, we planned to stay only two nights.  Having our passports stamped in another country, allowing us to re-enter Costa Rica for our additional 23 nights, with the low cost of airfare and unused credit toward “free hotel nights,” it made sense to fly in and out.

The round trip airfare with Avianca for both of us was US $308.12 and we paid only a little over US $199  (CRC 113,285) for both nights using our accumulated credits with Hotels.com on our site.  The usual rate for this hotel is US $200 (CRC 113,854) a night.  Thus, we saved about US $200 (CRC 113,854).

We were served two of these meat filled pockets as a complimentary item for our dinner.  In a puff pastry, Tom ate both of them.

It was still a somewhat pricey weekend but a lot less than we’d have spent staying in Fort Lauderdale Florida for the remaining 23 nights or in paying for an actual visa extension which is costly and time-consuming.


Here are the total expenses for the two nights including all costs:

 Expense   US Dollar   Costa Rica Colones 
 Hotel – 2 nights    $                     199.84
 113,763
 Flight – Round trip   $                     308.12
 175,404
 Taxi  $                        50.00
 28,464
 Dining in Restaurants   $                     105.00
 59,774
 Miscellaneous   $                        22.00
 12,524
 Tips   $                        25.00
 14,232
 Total   $                     709.96
 404,160
 Avg Daily Cost    $                     354.88
 202,023

As much as we’d prefer cost not to be a factor in our travels, it’s a reality we must diligently monitor.  Without transportation over the weekend and the high costs of tours, we were left to our own devices for photo ops and entertainment. For us, this is easy to do.

The meat filling inside the beef pocket.

As mentioned in many prior posts, the recent outlay of cash for several upcoming events sent us into a state of diligent and frugal spending.  We’re watching every last penny. 

Once we arrive and get settled in South Africa, we’ll be able to begin to replenish the coffers.  While there, we’ll be able to save for the big adventures we’re planning while living on the African continent. 


Tom’s rib eye steak was done to perfection, tender and delicious.

No tours in Costa Rica or Nicaragua could quite match our objectives at this time.  No offense to either country both of which are rife with gorgeous scenery and wildlife.  Its no wonder we’re wrapped up in the birds visiting the villa.  There’s no extra cost to take photos of the fascinating creatures.

In 55 days,  we’ll be spending a month in Buenos Aires Argentina living in a hotel and dining out for dinner each night (breakfast is included at the hotel we’ve already booked).  There again, budgetary concerns prevail. 


I should have taken the photo after I cut into this ultra rare tenderloin.  It was the most rare steak I’d ever eaten.

Fortunately, we’ll be in a good neighborhood in Buenos Aires with access to public transportation which should allow us to get out on our own without paying for pricey tours.  We’ve spotted many venues appealing to our tastes.

Speaking of tastes…Saturday night’s dinner at the hotel’s highly rated restaurant Factory Steak and Lobster was good but not great.  The language barrier made ordering my special items cumbersome.  Luckily, I’ve learned enough Spanish to be able to get the basics handled.

My grilled vegetables included aubergine (eggplant) zucchini and tomato.

My best option was to order the tenderloin with a salad (sour cream on the side) and a small side dish of grilled vegetables.  I always order steak rare but in this case, it was too rare.  Gordon Ramsey would have yelled, “My God, it’s still moving!”  Trying to explain how much more to cook it, was seeming to be impossible.

As a result, I probably ate 60% of it.  It was tender and tasty but not quite right. There was no point in taking a “doggy bag.”  Not only was there no doggy but with the complimentary buffet breakfast the next morning, it made no sense.  I don’t snack during the day.  Still full in the morning, I had a smallish breakfast of veggies, cheese and smoked salmon.

Saturday night, Tom ordered a rib-eye which was cooked properly and was tender and juicy with a good flavor.  He ate an entire loaf of bread as shown in the photo.  He hadn’t had a bite of bread in many months. I kept my mouth shut as he enjoyed the bread along with his mashed potatoes and gravy.

On Saturday night, after dinner we wandered through the pool area.

We’d hoped to get out to another restaurant last night after walking around the neighborhood and checking menus there we no options for me.   With rave reviews on the food at The Market Restaurant in the hotel and the need to get up at 5:00 am today, we decided to stay in for what proved to be a pleasant meal suitable for my way of eating. 

After dinner we lounged in our room watching a TV show we haven’t had available since 2015 when we lived on the island of Viti Levu in Fiji…Nat Geo Wild.  Watching those series leaves us reeling with excitement over “where we’ve been and what we’ve seen” and, “what is yet to come.”  Astounding!

Dessert options after dinner.  We didn’t partake.  But “food voyeur” that I am, it was fun just looking at them.

Today, as you read this post, most likely we’ll already be back in Costa Rica.  Our plane lands at 10:00 am and with the taxi ride, we should be back at the villa between 11:00 and 11:30 providing there are no flight delays as we experienced when we arrived in Nicaragua.

Tomorrow we’ll be back with more photos from our short weekend away, excited to share our enthusiasm on the actual date of our five-year anniversary of traveling the world.  We’ll be posting past celebratory events as we observed each passing year. Please stop by and celebrate with us!

 _________________________________________


 Photo from one year ago today, October 30, 2016:

Seeing that the ship had arrived at the port in Sydney was always exciting for us.  One year ago today it was October 30th in the USA and our 4th travel anniversary.  However it was October 31st in Australia due to the International Dateline. This was our 15th and 16th cruises, back-to-back, considered to be two separate cruises.  For more photos please click here.

Final expenses for 25 days in Nevada…Back out “to the world tomorrow!”….A new normal…

Mountain view on a rare cloudy day.

This morning I packed my one suitcase of clothing and collected items for our supplies bag.  My bag weighs well under the 50 lb maximum (23 kg).  Surely today, I’ll find odds and ends to get me up to the 23 kg maximum allowed by the airlines.


In a way, it’s bittersweet, packing and leaving the US once again for the next two years when once again we’ll return to visit family.  Next time, we won’t stay quite as long, most likely for a total of one month between Minnesota and Nevada giving us plenty of time to be with family and friends.

Here are our total expenses for the 25 nights in Henderson Nevada:

 Expense   US Dollar 
Housing (Richard’s home)   $                         
 Gifts & Misc.   $                  299.00
 Airfare    $               1,137.00
 Rental Car & Fuel  $                  926.00
 Groceries   $               1,245.30
 Dining Out   $                  402.52
 Supplies & Pharmacy   $                  609.32
 Entertainment   $                  310.25
 Total   $               4,929.39
 Avg Daily Cost 25 days   $                  197.18

Now, as we pack and make the necessary preparations to continue our world journey, we’ve further discovered that this nomadic life we live is definitely our “new normal.” 

There’s no way we can envision living in one place, renting a condo somewhere and returning to a life of owning “stuff,” shopping among the crowds, waiting in traffic, and considering times to go out based on when “rush hour” ends.  That’s no longer who we are.

We ask ourselves, “Was that ever us anyway?”

Two Mallards sharing a rock in the pond at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve.

As we’ve melded into life in convenient Henderson Nevada over these past 25 days, we realize how far removed this easy life is from our reality.  Living in constant temperature controlled comfort, with nary an insect in sight, with little wildlife and nature surrounding us, we’re literally starving to be living in a challenging environment.

To be surrounded by nature, including the good and not so good, and the occasional discomforts that remind us of our humanness and vulnerability, is where we long to be.

One of eight ponds in the preserve.

That’s not to say that living in a luxury villa in Costa Rica will be tough.It will be easy in most ways.  But, we’ll be surrounded by expansive views, varying temperatures and climate and some of the finest wildlife in the world. 

Costa Rica is a country rich in unique and colorful inhabitants, both human and animal.  Yes, modern conveniences will be enjoyed and appreciated but never taken for granted.  Our goals will still be to focus on that which always appeals to us the most.

Is this a weather ball I shot from a distance?

We have a plethora of tasks to complete while in Costa Rica including tax stuff, visa extensions,  trips to a dentist (we’ve both lost a few fillings), other financial “paperwork” and beginning the process of preparing for the Antarctica cruise which requires medical certifications and tons of forms to complete.

We hope to get as much of this “work” completed shortly after we arrive to leave us ample time to focus on our interests in culture and in taking photos of the extraordinary scenery and wildlife that Costa Rica offers in abundance.

Today, we’ll complete the packing, make a quick trip to the market to replace any paper products and supplies we used while living in Richard’s home (he doesn’t expect this but, that’s just us) and fill the little white car with fuel. 

Mountains surround the Las Vegas valley.

Tonight, we’ll all dine on the leftover pizza which I made yesterday with a new salad I’ll make today.  Overall, with as much as we’ve already completed, the day won’t be much busier than most.  Thanks, Richard, for an excellent stay in your beautiful home!

Tomorrow, we’ll post from the airport while we await our flight.  We’re leaving for the airport at 8:30 am although our flight isn’t until 11:25 am.  Returning the rental car is far from the airport and requires a 10 minute or more ride in a shuttle to return to the airport where I’ll be waiting for Tom.

Tom feels more comfortable leaving for the airport earlier rather than later.  I’m fine with that since it is an international flight after all and I’ll have more time to upload a new post while we’re waiting.

We’ll be back tomorrow with some favorite Nevada photos and our goodbyes once again to the USA as we continue on our “new normal.”  We can’t stop smiling.

May your day bring many smiles!

______________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, July 31, 2016:

One of two long piers in Chalong Bay.  At that time I was still recovering from the spine injury in Bali occurring on June 1, 2016, and I wasn’t able to make the long walk on the pier. Now, I wouldn’t have thought about it twice.  For more photos, please click here.

Figuring out the numbers…Outrageous outlay of cash over these next months…Four days and counting…

This pond in the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve was filled with a variety of birds.

Yesterday, after we uploaded the post we decided it was time to review our expenses through January 2018.  With several cruises upcoming including the pricey Antarctica cruise which begins on January 23, 2018, and ends on February 8th we’ve had to be extra frugal this past year.

Once the Antarctica cruise ends and, after we pay approximately $4600 for our two airline tickets from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Mpumalanga Nelspruit, South Africa (with a layover in Johannesburg), we can breathe a sigh of relief that several huge expenses are behind us.

The border of trees along the edge of this pond provides additional habitat for the birds.

Fortunately, living in Africa, which is less costly than many other parts of the world, we’ll have plenty of time to regroup and “lick our wounds” over the outrageous expenses of the prior 12 months or more. 

Also, our final months in Australia were costly followed by two cruises including the 24-night cruise back to the US, followed by the Alaskan cruise and then, the nine weeks we spent in the USA, six of which we stayed in a hotel, dining out for most meals.  Also, during the six weeks in Minnesota we replenished our wardrobes (no sales tax on clothing in MN) along with many of our dwindling supplies.

This pretty duck was paddling at full speed when I took this photo.

We’ve paid down the pricey Antarctica cruise which started at $34,500 (for two) and is now down to a balance of $13,875 which is due in full by October 16th, 80 days from today.

By September 18th we have to pay off the back-to-back South America cruises beginning on November 23rd (Thanksgiving Day in the US) totaling $7,988 on which we’ll embark prior to the Antarctica sailing on January 23, 2018.

One of the smaller of the eight ponds.

In addition to the above, we have yet to book the one-month gap in Buenos Aires between December 23, 2017, to January 23, 2018, which we’ll put together once we’re settled in Costa Rica in the next few weeks. 

On top of all of these, we’ll have monthly living expenses including a few one-night hotel stays, transportation, groceries, tours and miscellaneous.  When we add all of these expenses it’s a daunting number.

By figuring out all of these totals we’ve determined this is all doable over these next six months if we really continue to tighten our belts.  We must add all of these numbers to our anticipated living costs over the next six months, most of which we’re paying in advance.

No doubt, the cloudy day had an impact on the quality of our photos.

When living in a permanent home as opposed to our constant lives of world travel, typically one doesn’t pay their mortgage payment, rent or many other expenses six months or longer in advance. 

Typically, the only pay-as-we-go expenses are groceries, tours, and local transportation (if we aren’t using a rental car which always requires advance payment in full, often for three months or more upon picking up the vehicle).

In each case when renting a vacation home, we must pay good-sized deposits well in advance. In order to book cruises, deposits are required even if they’re booked two years in advance.  However, over this past almost five years of world travel, we’ve become more comfortable waiting to book certain situations.

These two birds were too busy preening to look up as we passed their habitat in the utility vehicle.

When we’re often asked as to how we manage money, it’s always through careful frequent analysis and planning to determine we’re staying within the range of our overall annual budget. 

What’s thrown us off this year has been the Antarctica cruise which once completed leaves us with no outrageously expensive plans for the future, certainly not to this magnitude. 

Why did we stretch ourselves for this cruise? This cruise may not be suitable for some as they age.  It requires a medical certification months in advance (which we’ll handle in Costa Rica) and a certain degree of physical stamina and endurance.  We have no guaranty as hard as we may try that we’ll be in such a position in the next five to ten years. 

I saw a number of Grebes during my tour of the facility.

This particular cruise is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially for us with our strict budget and obviously advancing age.  For us, it may be a now-or-never situation.  We chose to take it on to further enhance our world travel experiences.

When we began our travels, we’d made a list of a few special experiences we wanted to ensure we’d experience;  the Panama Canal (done, with another transit upcoming in November); Africa (done, with more coming beginning in February, 2018) and of course, Antarctica (where we’ll be getting off the ship onto the Zodiac boats to step foot on ice floes and glaciers with thousands of Emperor Penguins and more).

I’d planned to visit Susan today but as it turns out, we have several calls to make to complete some necessary tasks before leaving the US in four days, all of which require weekday calls.  Today is the only logical day to complete these tasks.  As a result, I’ll visit Susan tomorrow, Saturday, for the last time before we leave on Tuesday.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow as we wind down these last few days in the USA.  Please check back!  Have a fabulous weekend wherever you may be!

 _______________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, July 27, 2016:

We rented this car from the property owner.  It was a little rough but served our purposes over the remaining days until we left Thailand.  For more details, please click here.

Yesterday’s visit to Juneau, Alaska…Skagway today…No tours for us…..

Me, sitting in a bear shaped chair wearing the hat, gloves and scarf I’d purchased on-board using some of our $500 cabin credit. (Thank goodness, that’s not our wheelchair).


Note: We’re finalizing the head count for the “Meet & Greet” for our readers in Minneapolis on June 9th from 5 pm to 8 pm at
Grizzlys Wood Fired Grill at this location in Plymouth, Minnesota:
220 Carlson Pkwy N, Plymouth, MN 55447


Please RSVP if you plan to attend and haven’t already done so.  Hope to see you then!


After visiting these ports of call during this Alaskan cruise, we’re convinced we’d like to return to Alaska somewhere down the road (when we finally decide to travel the US and Canada) to stay for a summer.


This tram takes tourists up to another shopping area.

A few years ago we tried finding a vacation home in Alaska and gave up when prices were through the roof for even the smallest cabin.  It appears the best way to rent a summer home would be with another couple or two, sharing in higher costs.

Popular crab restaurant,

For now, with our budgetary restrictions as a result of the upcoming expensive Antarctica cruise in eight months, we’re making the best of each port of call by getting off the ship and wandering through the towns, packed with cruise passengers from several ships.

There were a number of the same shops we’d seen in the past ports of call in Alaska.

Most of the shops consist of a variety of popular gems and stones typically mined in Alaska and a wide array of tourist type artifacts and products, none of which has any appeal for us when we don’t have a home in which to put such items on display.

The road wasn’t busy nor were the sidewalks with many cruise passengers out on various tours.

Had we visited these towns in our old lives, many items would have been suitable for our former lodge-like home on a lake in Minnesota.  Natural products, many, including stone, wood or a nature-driven theme would have been suitable and difficult to resist.

A large stuffed eagle.

Jewelry has no appeal to me at this point in my life. With the likelihood of our bags being lost or stolen somewhere along the line, accumulating pricey jewelry makes no sense at all.  The few costume jewelry items I wear to dinner on cruises can easily be replaced in a Target store for under $15 each, at most.

Carissa couldn’t have been more enthused to hear about our alpaca experience in New Zealand last year.

The day-to-day earrings I wear, mostly nickel free or non-irritating, are also easily replaced in a cheap jewelry store.  I don’t need or want precious or semi-precious gems to add clutter to my otherwise simple zip lock bag of items which if stolen, I’d hardly miss.

Yesterday, late morning, we disembarked the ship for a $5 per person bus shuttle into the town of Juneau, the capital of Alaska, with a population of around 34,000 as follows from the web:

I fell in love with these brown alpaca trimmed boots.  But, they weren’t a practical addition to my five pairs of shoes.

“Juneau, Alaska’s remote capital, sits in the state’s panhandle, at the base of 3,819-ft. Mount Roberts. It’s a popular cruise-ship stop, reachable only by boat or seaplane. A tram carries visitors 1,800 feet up Mount Roberts to an alpine area with hiking trails, wildflowers, and views of Gastineau Channel. This is also the site of the Juneau Raptor Center, dedicated to local birds.”

This soft stuffed alpaca certainly attracted shoppers into the shop.

We weren’t disappointed we hadn’t booked a tour when it rained all afternoon and the weather was almost cold enough to snow.  The surrounding snow capped mountains were pretty to see but unfortunately, this town, like others along our route were geared toward shopping.

The store also contained a variety of sheepskin and wool products.

As we wandered through the town, we stumbled upon an alpaca products store and were approached by a charming young woman from Los Angeles, who comes to Juneau each summer to work in the store.  We chatted with her and were enchanted by her enthusiastic demeanor. 

Fluffy wool and alpaca toys.

We couldn’t resist telling Carissa, who obviously had a great adoration for alpacas, that we’d lived on the alpaca farm in New Zealand for three months from January 19, 2016, to April 15, 2016.  She squealed with delight when we shared our story of living among the exquisite animals. 

Warm sweater coats for those in cold climates.

She gushed with enthusiasm over the prospect of reading about our adventures in New Zealand and throughout the world.  Of course, we handed her a card and promised to post her photo and information on the quaint shop which is:

Simply Natural
406 S. Franklin Street, Suite C
Juneau, Alaska
907-586-1224
302-276-1317

The company has a beautiful website at https://simplynaturalalpaca.com/
If you ever head to Juneau this enticing store has nothing short of breathtaking alpaca products.  It’s well worth a visit.  We didn’t make a purchase when cold weather clothing isn’t needed for our upcoming travels. 

The Celebrity Cruise Line “X” atop our awaiting ship, the Solstice.

When we sail to Antarctica, we’ll be renting full sets of warm clothing for getting off the ship to board the Zodiac boats heading out to the ice floes and glaciers for up close and personal experiences with wildlife.  Until then and well after, we’ll be living in hot climates.

In each port of call, we’ve noticed several fur shops.

After that serendipitous experience with Carissa, we continued on the main road walking for some time taking many photos, we’re sharing here today.  No doubt, we got wet in the rain and heavy humidity, but we were refreshed after the brisk cold walk and happy we’d ventured out.

Candies oon display for sale in a local chocolate shop.

Today, we’re docked in Skagway and will do the same, wander off the ship on our own to check out the town, take more photos and see what interesting morsels enter into our realm along the way.

Cute, decorative clocks in a local products shop.

As always, we’re having a great time, although slightly preoccupied over the upcoming visits to see family and friends in Minnesota and Nevada.  We can hardly believe we’ll be in Minnesota in a mere five days.

This train clock made us smile.  Had it not been for Tom’s 42.5 years on the railroad, our world travel may not have been possible.

Be well.  Be happy.

_________________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, May 21, 2016:

This photo was taken at 4 pm of the cloud reflection in our pool in the villa in Bali.  For more photos, please click here.

Final expenses for Fairlight/Manly Australia…40 days gone…On to cruising…Favorite photos…

 
Beautiful sky at sunset, taken from our veranda.

Tom’s shot of a stunning sunset.

Its about 10 am Saturday, April 22nd on this side of the International Dateline.  During our upcoming cruise, we’ll cross back to the opposite side of the International Dateline gaining a day.  We’ll post this peculiar phenomenon when it occurs on May 1st during the upcoming cruise.

The Sydney Opera House at night, taken from the Manly Ferry.

Luna Park in Sydney Harbour at night, taken from the Manly Ferry.
Saying we’re excited is to minimize the extent of our raging enthusiasm.  It’s not that we’re anxious to leave the South Pacific after almost two years.  It’s simply that we’re excited for what is yet to come.

A Cockatoo visitor in the yard.

Our friend, Mr. Magpie, who visited us inside the house.
In reviewing how much time we spent since arriving on land in Australia on June 11, 2015, is shown below using the online “date to date” app at this link:


“From and including Thursday, June 11, 2015

To, but not including Saturday, April 22, 2017

Result: 681 days

It is 681 days from the start date to the end date, but not including the end date or, 1 year, 10 months, 11 days excluding the end date.”

Hand feeding Kookaburra in the yard.
The interior of the Sydney Opera House as we waited for the performance to begin.  In a short time, almost every seat was occupied.  We had excellent center seats four rows from the stage.

Wow!  We’ve been in this part of the world for a very long time although the diversity of our experiences have been vast.  We won’t take the time to list them all here today but feel free to review our archives during these above dates. 

The cafe where we had a beverage the morning of our final appointment at the immigration department.

Now, packed and ready to leave for the port at noon today, our hearts are filled with joy and satisfaction for the time we spent in this part of the world.  Even with the fact that I’d been “under the weather” since a spine injury on June 1, 2016, which followed with the exacerbation of the Helicobacter Pylori infection I acquired in Fiji in 2015, we still had a great time.

The scene in Manly near the ferry.

These two difficult scenarios confirmed how resilient and dedicated we are in continuing our journey, even with stumbles along the way.  Never once during this extended period of less-than-stellar health, did either of us lose hope and faith that we’d be able to continue on.
Offseason bloom on the grounds of Fairlight Gardens.

Nor did we ever get on one another’s nerves, not for a day, not for an hour.  Mr. Overly Grumpy never reared his ugly head.  Then again, Ms. Overly Bubbly made fewer appearances than usual.  Now, we’re both in the Overly Bubbly mode with plans to stay that way going forward.

Ken and Tom drinking beer.

Me and Linda toasting at lunch.
We met friends Linda and Ken from South Africa in Sydney for lunch.  It was a perfect day among friends!
Our experiences in Fairlight, although limited as I was slowly improving, were delightful with opportunities to meet with old friends as shown in today “favorite photos.”
St. Patrick’s Estate in Manly, a popular event venue.

Of course, no experience compares to the daily sense of comfort and companionship we spent with our kindly landlord, Bob Reed. This morning,  Bob sent us the following email as posted below.  It warmed our hearts to be able to develop such a fine relationship with this kindly man, now a lifelong friend.  There’s no doubt we’ll stay in touch.

The grounds at St. Patrick’s Estate were prepared for a wedding.

Bob wrote the following:

“Good morning Tom and Jessica, welcome to your new adventure upon the high seas and continuing adventure that most of us only dream about. 

How lucky I have been to have met you both and have had the pleasure of your company for the past 40 days.
Those happy memories will stay with me forever.
Even though I cannot be with you as you travel the world, your wonderful website will be my companion to where you are and what exciting places you are visiting.
May good health be your constant companion during your world travels.
Jessica, I will also miss the wonderful dinners you cooked for Tom and me and our daily conversations solving all the problems of the world.  Well trying anyway.
Hopefully one day our paths will cross again and we can spend time together reminiscing about the happy times we spent together.
You both left a little bit of your hearts here at Fairlight Gardens.
Lots of love as you travel the world.
Bob Reed”
Tom in a pub with me for dinner in Circular Quay.

Reading Bob’s thoughtful message brought tears to our eyes.  How did we get so lucky to become friends with yet another very special person?  We truly are blessed.
Giant surf at Manly Beach on a gorgeous day.
Rather than write back to Bob in an email, we decided to write back here:
Dear Bob,
No words can express how much we’ve appreciated your kindness and love and for of your constant and thoughtful attention to our needs.  Above all, your efforts at building a lasting friendship among the three of us will always be treasured as one of our favorite memories of the time we spent in Australia, here in beautiful Fairlight, a gem amongst towns throughout this fine nation.
Thank you for your lovely property, your attention to detail in every aspect, driving us about town and spending time with us.  You truly optimize the essence of friendship and generosity.
We hope that someday our paths will cross again but if they do not, no worries, we’ll always carry you in our hearts wherever we may be.
Much love and good health always,
Jess & Tom
Bob and Tom at Dobroyd Head.
Should any of our readers decide to visit Sydney, we assure you an excellent experience if you book Bob’s lovely property, either Fairlight Gardens private apartment, as we did with this link here. For Bob’s Fairlight Gardens Bed and Breakfast, please click here.
Bob and I a Dobroyd Head.

There’s no doubt in our minds that Bob will ensure an equally exceptional stay for our readers as well.  If you have any questions, you can be assured he’ll reply promptly.
Bob, Bev, and Colin (a popular name in AU and UK) when they all joined us fo dinner at our apartment.

As for our final expenses, current to the last expenditures of two days ago, they are listed below.  We’ve found Australia to be more expensive than many parts of the world but have found staying in holiday homes is much less costly than staying in a hotel. 

Christine, Tom and I at dinner two nights ago.

With the excellent public tranportation services in Sydney and surrounding areas including buses, trains and ferries, its not necessary to rent a car.  We managed very well taking advantage of the affordable public transportation and of course, Bob frequent insistence on driving us on many occasions.

Expense US Dollar Australian Dollar
Vacation Rental  $ 4,564.08  $ 6,053.92
Airfare   $    217.00  $    287.83
Taxi   $    105.01  $    139.29
Ferry (OPAL Card)  $   140.00  $    185.70
Shipping  $   460.00  $    610.16
Groceries  $ 1,014.25  $ 1,345.33
Dining Out  $    361.43  $    480.24
Entertainment  $    102.06  $    135.38
Medical & Pharmacy  $ 1,230.26  $ 1,534.68
Total  $ 8,197.09  $10,891.59
Average Monthly Cost  $ 6,233.20  $ 8,282.22
Avg Daily Cost – 40 days  $    204.93  $    272.30

In less than two hours, we’ll be out the door and on our way by taxi to the Sydney Cruise Terminal arriving in about 45 minuter.  Our next post will be uploaded aboard the ship tomorrow with photos for the next 24 nights. 

Out to dinner with friends Christine and Colin, who we met on our last cruise which ended 40 nights ago.

We hope our readers will continue to travel along with us during these upcoming 33 nights at sea, plus an additional two night gap while we stay in a hotel in Vancouver.  We plan to share many new stories and exciting photos along the way.

Cruise ship in the Sydney Harbour.

This morning while still dark at 5:45 am, we could see our ship, Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas, entering Sydney Harbour.  What a sight!  We can hardly wait to board!
A bunny we posted on Easter Sunday, spotted on a walk with Bob.

Happy day to all!

_________________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, April 22, 2016:
Due to poor signal aboard the ship one year ago today, we didn’t include a photo. Instead we posted a list of some on the freebie on the ship, Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas.  Here they are:
Some of the “freebies” included on this particular cruise are:

  • Fitness center to include a few free classes and activities
  • Trivia games
  • Daily Mass
  • Men’s Shed
  • Water aerobics
  • Mensa challenge
  • Movies shown daily inside the large theatre and outdoors on giant screen by the pool
  • Dance lessons
  • Mini golf tournament
  • Lectures and seminars
  • Singles gatherings
  • Bridge lessons and tournaments
  • Shuffleboard, ping pong, video games
  • Napkin art workshop
  • GLBT meetings
  • Ice Skating and skating shows
  • Rock climbing
  • Paper aeroplane making
  • Drama class
  • DreamWorks characters on display in Promenade Deck
  • Voyager Scavenger Hunt
  • Karaoke auditions and eventual show in theatre
  • Shows in the main theatre in the evenings at 6:45 pm and 8:45 pm, different each evening
  • Live music at various bars both during the day and in the evenings