Day #140 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…More photos from Paris in 2014…The continuation of the river cruise…

Our second Eiffel Tower nighttime light show after our dinner cruise on the River Seine.

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

Today’s photos are from the post from August 10, 2014, while in Paris, France. See the link here for more photos.
The Assemblee Nationale, the French National Assembly. The interior of many of these buildings is worth seeing by clicking on the links included here.

Today was a late start in working on the post. After not getting out of bed until 8:30 am and out the door for my first walk until almost 9:00 am, not returning until 20 minutes later, our breakfast had arrived.

After breakfast, I’d promised myself I’d get hold of FedEx to find out the status of the overnight letter containing our replacement credit card after it was discovered to be used fraudulently. 

The Palais de Justice, the French Palace of Justice.

Also, I wanted to check on our supplies package, which hasn’t been moving at FedEx for days, stuck in customs. I started calling several phone FedEx numbers I found online but couldn’t get through on any of them using Skype.

I was unable to use Skype to call India while in India, even using my VPN. Frustrated, I tried using the expensive room phone, but there again, I was on hold for so long, I finally gave up.

The scenery along the river was enhanced by the reflection of lights.

Then, I used my cell phone to call, which also is pricey, but after 20 minutes on hold, I gave up figuring the best method was to email an inquiry when after entering the tracking number, a message popped up that said:

“A specialized statement is required for clearance from the recipient. Call FedEx.”

Tom’s photos of me are always blurry to some extent. That explains why I take most of the photos.

Frustration was setting in, and finally, I sent an email after finding a good email address for customer service in India. I sent a clear and concise email outlining precisely what had transpired, requesting they email me the specified form to complete the delivery requirement.

In that same email, I also inquired about our package sitting in customs for the past week and what they needed from us at this point. No reference had been made to the customs fees, which we usually could pay online, most likely since they’d yet to inspect the contents. Who knows how long it will be until that process is completed?

We were nearing the end of the cruise when I took this outdoor photo of Tom.

Most likely, these delays are a result of COVID-19. When I called a few of the online FedEx India phone numbers, people answered with TV sounds in the background, causing me to assume some of their employees were working from home. Calling became pointless with no response.

Last month I sent an email asking if they were servicing this postal code in India and received a positive response a few days later. We’ll see how it rolls out. I can only hope they’ll reply to the email. Hopefully, they’ll be as timely in their response to today’s inquiry.

The moon was peeking out of a cloudy sky, the green lights, the reflections on the water…nice.

Now, well after 12:30 pm, I’m still working on today’s post, hoping to upload it in the next hour to return to my usual daily routine. Yesterday, we signed up for CBS All Access (first month free) to stream the newest Big Brother All-Stars series, which is mindless drivel, but entertaining and the latest Survivor series, again a fun distraction.

On another note, our friends, Lea Ann and Chuck, a lovely couple whom we met on a cruise in April 2017, from Sydney to Seattle who began traveling the world, at times, asking us for suggestions and sources we’ve used, wrote that they are ending their world travels in light of COVID-19.

We loved this shot of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.

They’ve purchased a home in Florida and will stay put, traveling from time to time as the world situation allows. One might think this might have inspired us to do the same. But, until we get out there again, flying, booking holiday homes, and living in other countries, we have no idea what the future holds regarding continuing to travel. 

This was my veal filet. I don’t usually eat veal. However, in Paris, one must try new things. I was served a delicious plate of less common sautéed vegetables.

Certainly, the option of living in three or four different countries (depending on visas) may continue to be an option for us in the future. Being unable to cruise may undoubtedly have an impact on our options in the future. 

My lovely dessert, two creamy French slices of cheese.

In some ways, it might make our travels easier when we’re not manipulating our schedule to comply with cruise embarkation and debarkation locations. 

Tom’s dessert #1, a strawberry mousse. The pink appearance is due to the red LED lights in the boat after dark.

We can only guess at this point. And, right now, our priority is when and how we’ll be able to leave India when borders open here and in another country that we’re allowed to visit in the future.

Tom’s dessert #2, a layered chocolate torte embellished with a strand of delicious French chocolate.

Have a fulfilling and safe day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 10, 2019:

We’d wished we could have posted the identity of all of these great highlights in Amsterdam. But, it wasn’t possible as the boat moved along quickly. It rained off and on, but we were grateful for what we were able to see. For more photos, please click here.

Day #139 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…More photos from Paris in 2014…Gourmet dinner cruise on the River Seine…

Tom was carrying his dress shoes in a bag when the dress code on the dinner cruise stipulated no sports shoes were allowed. However, on a rainy night, they made exceptions when most of the passengers were wearing sports shoes.

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

Today’s photos are from the post from August 9, 2014, while in Paris, France. See the link here for more photos.
As we walked down a few flights of stairs to the boardwalk along the River Seine, searching for the dinner cruise boat we’d booked, the Bataueux Parisiennes.

Today, we’re sharing photos from Part 1 of our exquisite dinner cruise on the River Seine six years ago. Tomorrow, we’ll share photos from Part 2 of the dinner cruise with more photos. 

As soon as we were seated, we were served these little French pastries and champagne. Tom ate all four of these pastries plus three of the white buns. I didn’t try the buns but took a few sips of the delicious champagne. 

Our story for the first of the two posts may be found here, and thus, I won’t reiterate what transpired on that fun, although rainy night in Paris. Due to the rain, most of our photos were taken through the tinted glass of the windows on the boat, let alone at dusk and finally in the dark. We did our best.

Dark clouds were looming over the city for days as it rained heavily off and on. 

Instead, I can’t help but focus on the “year ago photo” at the bottom of today’s post, taken on our first of two days and nights we spent in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, while we awaited a much-anticipated cruise Baltic cruise, we’d longed to experience for years.

Most of the photos shown here today and tomorrow were taken through the blue glass dining enclosure on the boat. 

Once we arrived in Amsterdam, flying from Dublin after a three-month stay, we found ourselves in a lovely boutique hotel overlooking a canal. We were in awe and overtaken by the beauty and uniqueness of this unique city. 

We passed under one of many ornamental bridges.

Chomping at the bit to get outside and walk the narrow sidewalks and streets, a wave of disappointment washed over me as I faced the reality of my situation. It had been almost six months since my open-heart surgery, and I could barely walk more than a few meters without feeling a need to stop and rest.

This foie gras appetizer was terrific. I savored every morsel along with the single perfectly cooked cold asparagus spear, lying atop a line of what tasted to be an anchovy paste.

Having been on many heart-related drugs with serious side effects, including the FDA’s designated “black box” drug Amiodarone and two others, my legs didn’t work well enough for me to embark on long walks. 

Tom’s appetizer of grilled prawns and vegetables. He doesn’t usually care for shrimp. After sharing a few prawns with me, he said, “There was nothing offensive about this.” Nice.

By the time we reached Amsterdam, I had weaned off all of the drugs. However, I was left with weakness and leg pain exacerbated by walking, which I still suffer from today, and cardiovascular disease, contributing to leg pain when standing or walking for long periods.

Some of the spires of Notre Dame.

Subsequently, my memories of Amsterdam center around the struggle to walk when there was no other way to get around the city than on foot or by boat. Not one to complain, I forged ahead while Tom patiently waited every five minutes or less for me to rest long enough to continue.

As the boat continued on the River Seine. The 2½ hour cruise eventually turned around to go back the way we’d come enabling us to see the other side.

In any case, we saw a lot in those two days, probably not a lot less than we would have under better circumstances. While walking during those few days, my mind was filled with concern over how I’d walk when we were scheduled for several walking tours at various ports of call during the upcoming cruise.

At this point, we were nearing the turnaround spot.

We’d signed up for a few small group tours before the heart surgery, and we were committed to our share of the costs. All we could do was forge ahead to the best of my ability. I refused to cancel it all.

Many dinner cruise boats on the River Seine for considerably lower prices, as low as US $51 and EU $39 per person, were less luxurious with standard fare. We’d researched extensively to decide on the Bateaux Parisiennes, which was highly rated on various websites.

As it turned out, we only had to cancel one of the two-day tours in St. Petersburg. There was no way I could keep up with the group on a second all-day walking tour. It was very disappointing, not only in losing the money, which was non-refundable but also missing the second day. 

There were many day tour boats along the river.

I felt terrible for Tom when he had so much anticipated this particular cruise, but he never complained or seemed frustrated with me. Instead, he held me up during the long walks on each tour as I hung onto his arm. 

The sight of all the well-lit boats on the river at night was captivating.

Somehow, we made it through the remaining ports of call on that cruise resulting in many beautiful experiences and photos along the way. It’s hard to believe it was only one year ago. I still struggle to walk without pain, but my current 5 miles, 8 km daily walks have been instrumental in improving my ability to walk for longer distances.

Tom was undoubtedly enjoying the included two bottles of wine plus two glasses of champagne served when we were seated.  He prefers white over red.

No matter where we end up after we leave India, I will continue to walk if safe outdoors and indoors. If I walk every hour for 12 minutes each, I could get in the necessary steps to maintain this current goal by the end of any day.

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

Arriving in Amsterdam for a two-night stay before our upcoming cruise, we looked forward to a boat ride on the canals. For more, please click here.

Day #138 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…More photos from Paris in 2014…Part 2 of the Palace of Versailles!!…

The famous Hall of Mirrors. This project was carried out by architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart and painter Charles Le Brun between 1678 and 1686.

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

Today’s photos are from the post from August 8, 2014, while in Paris, France. See the link here for more photos.
The stunning artwork is found on almost every wall in the palace.

News is distressing: the explosion in Beirut; the Air India plane crash in Kerala, India; the ongoing increase in cases of COVID-19 throughout the world, all resulting in horrific loss of life, livelihood, and a sense of well-being can easily spin any of us into a flurry of worry and concern.

This is a statue of Marie Antoinette who lived in the famous palace with her children.

This morning, dear friend Kathy (and Don), currently at their home in Oahu, Hawaii, texted that the island is going back into extreme lockdown after an increase in cases when their numbers had been dwindling only weeks ago almost down to zero.

In the 40 years, it took to build Versailles, thousands of workers were employed to participate in the process. Louis XIV not only lived in the palace but was instrumental in its massive renovation. 

Their previous relaxed lockdown that allowed outdoor exercise and activities and some restaurant dining has resulted in a rapid increase in cases. As of today, they are in a complete lockdown until the end of the month.

This portrait of Louis XIV.

This has been the case worldwide as more and more reduced lockdown measures have precipitated increases in cases and subsequent loss of life. There’s no easy answer. It all boils down to personal responsibility and caring for our fellow humans.

It was challenging to aim the camera toward the ceilings when there wasn’t enough elbow room for properly aiming the camera.

In our old lives, before COVID-19, if we developed a severe cold or virus, we wouldn’t go to work, to public places, or spend time with friends and family. That is to say, most of us wouldn’t, preferring not to infect others. 

We believe this portrait was of Louis XIV when he was young.

Why would this virus cause any less concern when in fact, based on its easy transfer from one person to another, you’d think one would tend to exercise even more caution. So, we’d think. 

Louis XIV had this statue made of himself dressed as a Roman Emperor to enhance his image.  He was of short stature and wore tall wigs to improve the appearance of his height.  Others in his court were forbidden to wear a wig as tall as his.

Well, you’ve heard enough about this today and much more over the past many months, from us, from the news, and friends, family, and neighbors. We are all in the same spot, unable to predict what the future holds and how we can best protect ourselves and our loved ones, especially amid varying opinions from medical professionals.

King’s chamber and bed in the King’s apartment.

On another matter…our photos today are those taken from our post on this date, August 8, 2014, at this link. With more photos than we can post, we’ve selected a handful of our favorites from the interior of the Palace of Versailles in Paris, France. If you’d like to peruse the balance, please click the above link.

There were many photo-taking tourists in the Hall of Mirrors.

As for today, not much is different than yesterday and the previous days. We’re healthy, safe, and relatively content, considering these ongoing unusual circumstances.

The Queen’s bed.

Stay safe, stay healthy and stay diligent.

Photo from one year ago today, August 8, 2019:

Our final photo from Ireland was posted on our last day. Goodbye, Ireland. Thanks for welcoming us and for being so beautiful! For more, please click here.

Day #137 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…More photos from Paris in 2014…Part 1 of the Palace of Versailles!!…

This is my favorite spot in the gardens of Versailles. We stood in the pouring rain without an umbrella for 90 minutes during the garden tour, keeping our camera in a plastic bag to stay dry. By the time we entered the interior of the palace, our clothes were soaked through. It was worth every moment.

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

Today’s photos are from the post from August 7, 2014, while in Paris, France. See the link here for more photos from Part 1, Versailles. Tomorrow, we’ll share photos from Part 2.
Statue of Louis XIV at the entrance to the Palace of Versailles.

It’s hard to believe it was six years ago that we spent an entire day at the Palace of Versailles exploring as much of the stunning setting and property as we could in the pouring rain.

In the pouring rain, we walked all the way forward toward the palace only to discover we had to go to a side street to meet up with the tour group, another 10-minute walk. Also, the walk from the train station to the entrance was another 10-minute walk in the pouring rain.

We boarded the train across the road from our boutique hotel on a sunny morning with little concern with the weather. The reports looked good for a mostly sunny day.

The ornate gold embellished gates to the entrance to Versailles.

No sooner than we began the walk from the train station to the palace, it started raining. In no time at all, it was pouring and continued to rain for the remainder of the day, including the walk back to the train station and our hotel later in the day. 

Louis XIV had installed numerous fountains throughout the gardens when water was not readily available to turn them on. An intricate system was installed to facilitate the running of the fountains at a huge sum of money. Then again, all of Versailles depicts vanity spending in excesses beyond one’s belief. 

Although we were wearing lightweight rain jackets with short hoods, we hadn’t brought along umbrellas, which proved to be useless when they soaked through to our clothes.

The gardens went on and on for miles. On a nice day, it would have been marvelous to walk further into the garden independently.

We’d booked a small group tour through Viator, which would ensure we’d avoid long lines to enter the palace. No doubt, this was achieved when we didn’t have to wait in long queues. 

The flowers were the most exciting part of the garden for me and the sculpted gardens shown here.

However, with thousands of visitors at the palace, even on the rainy day, once we entered the exquisite property, it was shoulder-to-shoulder tourists slowing the pace to a near crawl.

The flower gardens were interspersed with neatly trimmed evergreens.

We toured the gardens first, per our tour guide’s instructions for our small group, but sloshed in our clothes and shoes for the several hours it took to see everything indoors and eventually get back to our hotel.

Astounding view! The crane in the photo is in an area where the palace is under renovation.

We put aside the discomfort of our heavy wet clothing with water dripping down our faces from our damp hair and relished every single moment.

The colors in the garden were a treat to behold.

In essence, in looking back now, the rain added an element that, now as we look back, made the experience all the more memorable. A sunny day indeed would have been more beneficial for the garden photos. 

Various pools adorned areas of the gardens.

We did the best we could under the circumstances, thrilled for the experience which ultimately proved to be one of our three favorite touring events while in Paris in this order: Palace of Versailles; gourmet cruise on the River Seine; and tour of Le Louvre, the most famous museum in the world. 

It took 45,000 workers many years to develop these gardens.

Photos of our other favorites, as mentioned above, will appear in future posts in the next several days. No doubt, Paris was an exceptional experience. Often, our readers assume we’re only enthralled with wildlife and nature. But, over the past almost eight years, we’ve often been in awe of many places we’ve visited without a single animal in sight. 

There were more areas to experience than the rain allowed us.  One could easily spend hours in the gardens weather providing.

Now, on day #137 in lockdown in this hotel in Mumbai, we’d enjoy seeing a tree, a market, or a flower, when in isolation, we only see these four walls and the walls in the corridors.

The tour guide explained that all of these plants in pots are brought inside the palace into one of the largest greenhouses in the world during the winter months.

A special thank you to many of our readers who sent us photos and stories of their visits to Paris. We love hearing about your experiences. If we haven’t responded to you yet, please bear with us. We will soon as we work our way through the countless numbers of email messages.

Can you imagine the kings and queens walking this path while chatting?

Today, it’s raining again. The ceiling at the end of one of the corridors is falling due to constant rain during the monsoon season. They keep repairing it to no avail. Surely, they’ll have to wait until the lockdown ends and construction workers can come to the property to make the necessary repairs. This doesn’t impact us one way or another.

Our tour guide explained that the design of this statue was poorly designed when the marble and bronze didn’t age well, resulting in constant maintenance.

It’s time to get back out in the corridor for my next walk when I’m sticking to my 5-mile, 8-kilometer goal most days.

Have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 7, 2019:

In Connemara, Ireland, as we wound down our 89-day stay, we spotted this pretty cow and her horns. For more final photos and tally of total expenses, please click here.

Day #136 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…More photos from Paris in 2014…Dining and a museum in Paris…Credit card chaos…

Tom, ready to dine at Les Ombres in Paris. We ate early, at 7:00 pm, when most French diners and tourists prefer dining after 9:00 pm.

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

Today’s photos are from the post from August 6, 2014, while in Paris, France. See the link here for more photos.

Once we realized we’d be in lockdown for a considerable amount of time, we knew we had no option other than to post past photos from our prior almost 3000 posts which began on March 15, 2012.

At first, we jumped around searching for favorite photos but, as time marched on, we came up with a system we’ve generally followed by posting photos from the same date as the day’s post from another year in our eight-year history. For example, today’s photos are from August 6, 2014, and so forth.

These warm, cheese-filled buns arrived before dinner. Tom said they were good.

On a few occasions, we’ve varied from this plan when the photos we posted from a particular post didn’t appear attractive, our WiFi signal at the time prevented uploading photos, or it was a travel day when we didn’t post any photos at all.

Butter arrived at the table imprinted with “Marie Antoinette.”

Now, as we work our way through the posts from the few weeks spent in Paris in 2014, we have more photos than we can copy. We’ve chosen those we hope to be interesting to our readers and have left the remainder behind. 

The menu at the French restaurant, Les Ombres, is situated near the museum. Tom chose the fixed price option at EU 68, US $91.

At the top portion of each post, in smaller font, we provide a link from which the day’s photos have been copied to today’s post. Please click on that link if you find you may be interested in seeing more photos, such as in today’s older link with many more photos than we could add here today.

Tom’s lobster, prawn, and octopus risotto were delicious but such a tiny portion, as to be expected in French restaurants.

Using Blogger as we do here, spacing issues ensue when too many photos are posted in a single day. Hopefully, with our new upcoming site, we won’t experience such an issue. We’ll see how that rolls out in the next month or so.

We both had the same main dish (entrée in French translates to “appetizer”), grilled salmon topped with shredded cabbage and a slice of cauliflower. These four bits of broccoli were no more significant than the end of a thumb. This consisted of my entire meal, not quite enough after a busy day of walking for hours. When we returned to our hotel room, we ate plenty of nuts after the small portions.

Our new site has been delayed due to the time it takes for the developer to move over those almost 3000 historical posts, one by one, a laborious and time-consuming process. We’ve put no pressure on the company to do so more quickly. After all, we’re okay in the interim.

Tom dessert. Below is a dollop of chocolate ice cream atop a spoonful of a chocolate sauce containing chunks of chocolate. At the top is a roll-filled chocolate cake with a Grenache frosting garnished with chocolate candy sticks. Each item consisted of no more than two bites. They appear more prominent in the photo.

On another note, yesterday morning, I received a notice from one of our credit card companies to contact us immediately with an issue. I couldn’t imagine what it was until I looked up the account online to see there was a charge for INR 12.72, US $.17, a definite red flag. The charge was for equine vitamins. We don’t have a horse in our hotel room in Mumbai!

Based on today’s exchange rate, our dinner bill at EU 116 was slightly under US $155. A 20% gratuity was included.

I knew from past experiences that this charge of US $.17 was a “test” for a fraudulent party trying to use our card to a more significant amount. They charged the small amount to see if it would go through. Once it did, they’d charge whatever they chose for a more substantial sum.

We have too many photos for one post about our experiences of the past 24 hours; a visit to Musee de Quai Branly. For more of our museum photos, please click here.

At the credit card company’s fraud detection department, our card was immediately shut down, resulting in the necessity of us contacting them. I reached the company hours later due to the time difference and informed us to toss the card, and they’d send us a new card via FedEx overnight to our hotel here in India.

Wood carving of mother and child.

Thankfully, we have plenty of credit cards as a backup, required for world travelers such as ourselves when we must charge large sums and feel safer with plenty of credit lines available at any one time. Primarily, we use the cards that provide the highest loyalty points, saving the other for emergencies.

These costumes were made centuries ago in preparation for Mardi Gras in Mexico.

We’re still waiting for customs to process the package we sent from Nevada to us here at the hotel. The new card may not arrive for a week or more in light of COVID-19 slower shipping times from the US to India. It could be several more weeks.

Many of the masks on display in the museum were intended to ward off evil spirits.

That’s all, folks! Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 6, 2019:

Tom was standing at the doorway to a house at the Connemara Heritage and History Centre and the Dan O’Hara Homestead. For more photos, please click here.

Day #135 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…More photos from Paris in 2014…Yes, I’m scared…

We spotted several merry-go-rounds while walking in Paris.

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

Today’s photos are from the post from August 5, 2014, while in Paris, France. See the link here for more photos.
To the right in this photo is the City of Architecture and Heritage. On the left is the Palais de Chaillot.

Several readers have written inquiring why we haven’t taken advantage of a few available international flights flying out of Mumbai later this month. As it turns out, many of these flights are for repatriation purposes only, and others are flying to a few major cities in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, none of which we are interested in visiting at this time.

Beautiful sculptures at the City of Architecture and Heritage.
These flights are to locations that continue to see rising numbers of cases of COVID-19, which we’re striving to avoid. We have to wait it out here to ensure we can travel to desired locations with reduced amounts of viruses and have acquired experience handling outgoing and incoming international travelers.
Another photo of the museum at the City of Architecture and Heritage.
India is working diligently to ensure safe outgoing and incoming international travel. But in a few months, their systems will undoubtedly be revised to enhance the protection quality further. We’d relatively safely wait it out in the cocoon of this hotel than risk the virus in inexperienced environments.
This building reminded me of an area in Minneapolis, Minnesota, called “The Wedge.”
As all of us have seen since the onset of the virus, medical professionals and organizations have revised their recommendations for safety as more and more scenarios are studied. At this point, much of the information is still up in the air.
We stumbled upon the famous Peninsula Hotel, where the basic room is US $1500 per night, EI $1117.
But, so far, it appears wearing face masks, social distancing, and washing hands appear to be the universal consensus. But, what about using a restroom in an airport, let alone on an airplane on an extended or overnight flight? What safety measures will be exercised at security check-in, immigration, and while waiting in line to board the plane? What safety efforts will be enhanced as time marches on? 
We walked down the road as we approached the Arc de Triomphe.
How safe will it be to ride in a taxi to and from the airport? How safe is the counter at the car rental facility, let alone the rental car itself and the driver who drove the vehicle to us? 
Bottom line? What will be the consequences of spending an extra few months in this hotel lockdown compared to the rest of our lives, possibly extended by staying safe, especially since I am at high risk?
The Arc de Triomphe was a busy location filled with cars and tourists.
Here is information on those with high risk for COVID-19 from this site:
*People above 60 years of age with any of the following conditions: 
Chronic heart disease; hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, people
undergoing dialysis, chronic liver disease 
 Chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (COPD), emphysema, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, or severe asthma 
 Chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neuron
disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability, or cerebral palsy 
 Problems with spleen, such as sickle cell disease or splenectomy
 Weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or
medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy 
 People with organ transplants and remain on ongoing immunosuppression
 People with cancer undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy, cancers of
the blood or bone marrow such as leukemia who are at any stage of treatment
Midway through our walk, we stopped for beverages. Tom had a non-specialty beer, and I had bottled water. Total cost EU 14, US $18.80
I have indicated in red the comorbidities that apply to me at this point, most of which are at the top of the list. Of course, we must be cautious, as would be the case with anyone over 60 years old, even without these conditions.
From our vantage point, we could not see the name of this church, but we were fascinated with its architecture. 
So what if we are stuck in a hotel room as long as we’re healthy? It’s certainly a lot easier than being in a hospital ICU on a respirator. I remember what that felt like only 18 months ago in ICU, unable to speak and feel as if I was choking to death. No, thank you. 
The Flame of Liberty we passed on our walk. Behind it is the tunnel in which Princess Diana was killed on August 30, 1997. We drove through this tunnel in a taxi on our way to Le Louvre.
Perhaps, that awful experience alone inspires me to be all the more cautious. Maybe, when my heart rate was 260 BPM, I had to be anesthetized to have my heart electrically restarted (cardioversion) to become more stable. Perhaps, when I was trapped in the recovery room, alone for hours after surgery on my infected legs, when the power went out in the hospital, and the elevator wouldn’t work to take me back to my room. It’s no wonder that I might be a little scared. 
Many delis and bakeries line the boulevards.
Whew! I am grateful to be alive. There is no way I’m willing to take a risk and become infected with COVID-19, whatever it takes. And, I’m grateful to Tom for understanding where I am on this. He supports me 100% but certainly wouldn’t be quite as cautious if it weren’t for me.
Bins of delectable appearing treats in a Middle Eastern candy shop.
Each of us has the privilege of deciding how far we’ll go to protect ourselves and our families, within the guidelines of laws and our level of personal responsibility to those around us, in our cities, our towns, and even our backyards.
 We visited a local market to purchase nuts for snacking.
Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 5, 2019:

A pretty rainbow behind the Twelve Bens mountains from our holiday home in Connemara, Ireland. Please click here for more photos.

Day #134 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…More photos from Paris in 2014…

The Paris Statue of Liberty, the second of two replicas, is much smaller than the one in New York Harbor, USA.  See the quote below for details.

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

Today’s photos are from the post from August 4, 2014, while in Paris, France. See the link here for more photos.
Unbeknownst to us, we discovered two replicas of the Statue of Liberty in New York’s harbor, the second of which is shown here, which we visited yesterday. The inscription is at the base of the Statue of Liberty. See link or quote below for details:
“The first (original) statue stands in the Jardin du Luxembourg. An information panel on the pedestal claims that it is a bronze model used by Bartholdi as part of the preparatory work for the New York statue; the artist offered it to the Luxembourg museum in 1900, and it was placed in the park in 1906. The date written on this statue’s tablet (where the New York statue has “JULY IV MDCCLXXVI”) is “15 November 1889” (November 15, 1889), the date at which the larger Parisian replica was inaugurated.

Pont de Grenelle

This second Statue of Liberty in Paris is near the Grenelle Bridge on the Île aux Cygnes, a man-made island in the River Seine (48°51′0″N 2°16′47″E), 11.50 meters (37 feet 9 inches) high. Inaugurated on July 4, 1889, it looks southwest, downriver along the Seine. Its tablet bears two dates: “IV JUILLET 1776” (July 4, 1776: The United States Declaration of Independence) like the New York statue, and “XIV JUILLET 1789” (July 14, 1789: the storming of the Bastille). This statue is shown in the movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets as one of the historic locations.”

With the high cost of taxi fares in Paris and one great site following another, we were walking proved to be the best way to get around. We’d considered the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus, but “hopping off” would still result in tremendous amounts of walking.

We walked on a bridge over the train tracks with the Eiffel Tower at a distance.

By walking, we could take our time, see many interesting points along the way and take photos at our leisure. By the end of each day, we were exhausted. 

A River Seine cruise ship, perhaps docked for the day to allow passengers to tour Paris.

Our boutique hotel, conveniently located near the Eiffel Tower, was an excellent starting point. It was always the return walk at the end of the day that was most challenging. I never complained.

Statue on the bridge of the River Seine.

At that time, I had no idea I was suffering from cardiovascular disease, but I pushed myself each day to forge ahead, never knowing why my legs hurt so badly. Tom was always patient when I often asked we stopped to rest along the way. Once I rested for a minute or two, I would be ready to carry on.

A River Seine cruise ship, perhaps docked for the day to allow passengers to tour Paris.

Now, as I walk the corridors each day from 8,000 to 10,000 steps, I still find myself struggling but require less stopping. At this point, I can walk about ½ mile, .8 km, non-stop. I don’t get out of breath, but I have to stop due to pain and cramping in my legs.

One of the popular Viking cruise lines river cruise boats.

Doing all this walking reminds me of our time in Paris, where we walked more than anywhere in the world except for the port of call tours from a cruise to St. Petersburg, Russia, in August last year, only six months after I’d had open-heart surgery and had yet to strengthen in my legs after two leg surgeries four months earlier. 

When in crowded tourist areas, Tom carried this pen in plain view to him as a deterrent to pickpockets.

But, even now, with all my daily walking, I’d still struggle to keep up with the long, non-stop periods of walking such as experienced on the St. Petersburg tour. We’ll have to accept this limitation that may continue for the remainder of my life in the future.

As we walked toward the more modern areas of Paris, we stumbled across this shopping mall.

Thus, my memories of those long walks in Paris were a mix of painful walking along with the thrills of the many sites we saw along the way. The only time we used a taxi was from the airport to our hotel; the round-trip visit to The Louvre; and to the train station to travel on the Eurostar (the “chunnel” when we left for London a few weeks later). On a stormy day, we took the train across the street from our hotel to travel to Versaille, our favorite sightseeing outing in Paris. 

The interior of the shopping mall could have been in any city in the USA or another country. We looked at cameras in an electronic store, but the prices were outrageous with the 40% taxes, including VAT.

A portion of our photos consists of scenes we encountered along the way on our daily walks, many of which may not necessarily appeal to most tourists. Yes, we saw the highlights, but we also treasured the sites we discovered by surprise every day.

The City of Light is mainly known for its historical architecture. However, many modern buildings occupy the skyline.

With the lack of interest in shopping and our restrictive way of eating, we still did a fair amount of window shopping. We never missed the full flavor of fantastic foods in Paris when we dined at a few upscale gourmet restaurants and many divine cafes.

This charming bag shop so well depicts Paris with its awning, quaint architecture, and highly-priced items.

Looking back, we’re grateful for the experience and the beautiful memories and are delighted to share some of our photos of Paris over the next several days.

A narrow one-way street with minimal parking for residents of these buildings. Driving in Paris and parking in Paris is difficult. We felt it would be pure frustration for a visitor to rent a car to see the city.

Stay safe, healthy, and hopeful.

Please click here for more photos from this date in 2014.

Photo from one year ago today, August 4, 2019:

In Connemara, Ireland, with fresh fish caught and sold by the friendly fishmonger John, who showed up at our door every Tuesday morning, I made myself a dinner of sauteed garlic butter calamari and hake. My vegetables were on a separate plate. For more food photos taken in Ireland, please click here.

Day #133 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Our original photos from Paris in 2014…

We were enthralled by the lights of the Eiffel Tower.  We made the video of the light show below.

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

Today’s photos are from the post from August 3, 2014, while in Paris, France. See the link here for more photos.
Check out our video of the evening Eiffel Tower light show!

With neither of us particularly interested in big cities, I surprised myself when at the onset of our travels in 2012, I mentioned to Tom it would be nice to visit Paris and London if, after all, we were on a mission to “see the world.” 

This view is from the corner near our hotel, a short distance from the Eiffel Tower.

How could one strive to travel the world without visiting these two historic cities rife with culture and art? The conversation never came up again until a year later when Tom suggested we go to Normandy, France, on a small group private tour while on a cruise docked in Le Havre. 

Statue on the bridge of the River Seine.

Although, at the time, not much of a history and war facts buff, I suggested a trade-off (with tongue in cheek). My compromise? Let’s do Normandy and then stay for 15 days each in Paris and London. Tom agreed. 

We assume this longboat on the Seine maybe a river cruise ship.

It didn’t take him long to realize he wasn’t the best negotiator in the world. My end of the “bargain” was considerably more expensive, time-consuming, and comprehensive. As it turned out, I, too, felt the power and emotion of visiting Normandy and have since changed my interests to lean toward Tom’s vast knowledge and interest in world history.

Driving into the city of Paris was an experience in itself.

No, he didn’t love the hustle and bustle of Paris, although he thoroughly enjoyed the sites we visited. But, overall, he felt more at ease in South Kensington when we stayed in the fantastic history and artsy area, away from some of the commotion in the center of London.

We were crossing the bridge over the Seine. Each day we walked no less than 5 miles, 8 km.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll share some of our favorite photos from our 15 nights in Paris and later the photos from our 15 nights in South Kensington, within walking distance of some of the finest museums in the world.

The streets were lined with one café, bistro, and restaurant after another.  We’ll never have trouble finding great dining establishments.

At that time, I wasn’t drinking wine, nor did I consume any foods restricted to my ongoing low-carb diet. In 2016, I decided to try drinking wine again, and from there, I’ve loved it. 

The lobby of our boutique hotel in Paris, across the road from the train station.

As mentioned, I haven’t had a glass of wine since February. Alcoholic beverages continue to be banned in India during the lockdown. Even if it becomes available in India while we are here, we’ll both continue to abstain until we leave here.

We were looking out the window of our hotel to the train station. We couldn’t have been in a perfect location.

Taxes on wine and other alcoholic beverages in India is 34% plus, prices are high. It’s just not worth it to either of us. We’ll wait until we get to Africa or another country to have an official “happy hour.”

Tom, standing in what may be the smallest elevator on the planet. It took a few trips to get out bags up to our room.

Of course, while in Paris, the first site we were determined to see was the Eiffel Tower, judged by the number of photos we’re posting today. It was more magnificent than we’d expected, especially at night, as shown in our video above.

As for now, the continuing dreadful news of the spread of COVID-19 throughout the world gives us little hope of getting out of here anytime soon. Each day, we resign ourselves further as to the magnitude of the imposed lockdown we continue to bear, along with others throughout the world.

This dinner salad was perfect for our late-night supper at a local outdoor cafe.

We pray for the safety of our loved ones, friends, readers/friends, and those suffering in every corner of the world, including those who’ve lost loved ones and have been stricken with this dreadful virus.

Stay safe.

Photo from one year ago today, August 3, 2019:

An island in a small lake in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.

Beauty is all around us…Past and present photos…Big and “small things”…

A few roses remain in Trish and Neil’s garden as summer comes to an end.

As we continued on our travels throughout the world we found one commonality is each location…beauty is all around us. We need only stop long enough to spot it.

Strawberries growing in their garden, well protected from birds in the enclosure.

The idiom, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” holds true. We each have our own unique perception of what we discover as beauty. For us, in our constant search for “the interesting” with the intent of sharing it with our worldwide readers, we find that which may be of interest, to possess a beauty of its own design.

Whether it’s an interesting insect, a blooming flower, an animal’s face, or form in the wild we often take a photo in nature we find most appealing. No doubt, many of our readers have no interest in many of the subjects of our photos or for that matter, what we’ve found to be beautiful. 

Here on the grounds, we noticed these flowers we’d also seen at the Pukeiti Gardens at Mount Taranaki.

Many are more interested in photos of familiar points of interest they’ve already seen in photos, online or in their own travels:  a historic building, a popular tourist attraction, a public venue, or familiar work of art. 

Were one to go back through our 1,313 previous posts, many such photos are contained therein.  From our photos in past posts, as shown below in the photo of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain in May 2013 to the Venus de Milo statue at Le Louvre in the August 2014, we’ve seen so much.

Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch, also known as Aphrodite of Milos. It was amazing there was a momentary break in the number of onlookers when 100’s had been crowded around this famous statue also trying to take photos.

Over the next two to six months we’ll be visiting and/or staying in such countries as Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Bali when we’ll be taking photos of familiar and significant works of art, historical buildings, and endless points of interest and beauty that may appeal to a wide faction of our readers who prefer to see more than nature shots.

Sagrada Familia, the famous church in Barcelona that has been under construction for over 100 years.

For us, there’s a tremendous amount of enthusiasm as we anticipate these exciting countries we’ll soon visit.  The prospect of taking and sharing photos along the way, only adds to the excitement.

Sure, we spend a tremendous amount of time in quiet, remote locations constantly on the lookout for even “the small things” we’ve found unique and perhaps interesting to many of our readers as shown in this post and photo below.

This was our first photo of the dung beetle in action. The female often sits atop the ball of dung while the male moves it along using his back legs while his front legs grasp the ground for stability. The female lays eggs in the ball so she tags along as he rolls the ball, as they search for an adequate hole in which to bury the ball. The ball is used as sustenance for both of them as well as for the maturing larvae.

Whether it’s a small thing, a historic location, or an environment such as here on the alpaca farm in New Zealand, we expanded our personal horizons, perceptions, and expectations of that which is truly beautiful as we wrap our arms and minds around that which is located in our close proximity at any given moment.

We’ve never known the name of this dark-colored bloom although we’ve seen them in a number of countries. Any comments?

It is through this window we peer out at the world often from the lens of our camera to capture the beauty we find in our path. This, dear readers, is what brings us this infinite sense of joy and belonging.

Tomorrow on our 21st wedding anniversary (based on the date in this part of the world) we’ll be back with more on a unique, although “small” point of interest we discovered last week when we toured the quaint town of Opunake that, in our perception, we found to be “beautiful.”

Have a beautiful day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 6, 2015:

Partway down this steep trail in Kauai, we spotted this view on the steep path down the cliff Hideaway’s Beach. For more photos from that date, please click here.

Nuances of vacation homes…One year ago…Total expenses for 16 nights in Paris…Check it out below!

This cockatoo settled on the fence at the pool.

Only once, since beginning our travels outside the US, did we vacate a property when we weren’t happy with the accommodations. We stayed for a painstaking week while we furiously scoured every possibility to find another affordable rental. Prices were high in Belize during the season, winter in the northern hemisphere.

Belize, located in Central America, had become popular over the prior decade with its relatively short distance from the US making it a popular mid-winter vacation destination. Availability was limited on the more affordable properties especially with our short notice request for occupancy.

We discovered a new beach on a return drive from cairns, Machans Beach which is a modest beachside community the closest beach to Cairns City. Travelers staying in Machans beach usually do so to escape the busy hustle and bustle and a large number of tourists that flock to Cairns and many of the other northern beaches each year. Due to staunch protests from the locals at Machans Beach tourist infrastructure such as hotels and resorts have remained at bay creating a tranquil and unspoiled hippie-style beachside community.
There were several issues with the property, making it inhabitable for us.  The city water was shut off most of the day (a long term, ongoing situation), on for about one hour and then off again. We were supposed to collect water to use for the toilet when the water would be off for the remainder of the day and night.  If we didn’t shower when the water magically came on at an unpredictable time to a dribble, we were out of luck. 

Doing the laundry was nearly impossible. Simple things like washing our hands become a luxury. We felt dirty and our surroundings felt unsanitary. It only took a few days for us to realize we had to leave permanently as fast as possible. 

Although Machan’s Beach has been subjected to substantial erosion that has been rectified by a rock wall and the slow but gradual return of lost sand, there is still plenty of beaches to enjoy and a lush grassy playfield by the beach that is great for playing sports, picnics or spending time with the family.

On top of it all (long term readers, please excuse the repeated story) the no-see-ums were swarming us when there were either no screens or the holes in the few screens were too large allowing the sand flies them to freely enter. It was hot, humid and we wanted the windows open which was impossible. 

I had no less than 100 inflamed sand fly bites making me miserable both during the day and at night. I was unable to sleep for more than a few hours a night for an entire week. 

It was an awful seven days until we finally found a fabulous resort to rent for the remaining two-plus months and quickly moved out, losing our first month’s rent which the owner had promised to refund.

Recently, the completion of the rock wall ended with a well deserved party for the locals who tolerated the trucks coming and going over an extended period as the wall was built.

Of course, we’d never have rented the property had we known of these issues. We weren’t naïve in assuming that living in other countries would be easy. But, we weren’t willing to risk our health as a result of improper sanitation and lack of cleanliness without water. We’d purchased several huge jugs of bottled water at times having no choice but to use it for the toilet and cleaning what we could.

We never saw a refund. What were we to do? Sue them? Did we want to start our world journey with a lawsuit in a foreign country? Hardly.

If you’re interested in reading the story about the fiasco in Belize and seeing the photos from this period, please begin by clicking here.

A lone sea bird at Machans Beach.

That was our first vacation home outside the US. At that point, it would have been easy to pack it up and head back to the US. But, that never occurred to us. We knew we’d encounter some less than desirable situations and we were committed to figuring them out along the way.

If money were no object, we’d run into less of a risk by renting only upscale properties. And, although at times we’ve been able to negotiate some upscale properties, most of our vacation rentals are in the mid-range and overall, very nice with amenities we’ve found to pleasing.

Here in Trinity Beach, Australia, this property has been much more desirable than we’d expected. We’ve learned to keep our expectations at bay and were pleasantly surprised when we arrived continuing to further appreciate it here the longer we stayed. 

Dozens of cockatoos have been swarming the yard over several of the past late afternoons, stopping to check out the pool.

The owners, Sylvie and Andy, have gone overboard to ensure we have an excellent experience and unquestionably, we have. The well equipped property; the cleanliness; their providing additional items we’ve needed; their vacuuming and washing the floors for us every two weeks (while we sweep and dust in the interim) and their warmth and friendliness, all have contributed to a highly positive experience.

When we look back at past vacation rentals, overall, we’ve had great experiences once that first week in Belize was behind us. Now, as we look to Fiji, we realize were in for a totally different way of living than we’ve experienced thus far in modern, abundant Australia.

These birds are very noisy wasting no time in announcing their arrival.

I added a measuring cup and measuring spoons to my next grocery list to include in the box of food items we’re accumulating to ship to Vanua Levu, Fiji.  People don’t bake while on vacation/holiday. We don’t expect there to be a muffin tin, baking papers or lemon extract for our Low Carb Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, one of which we have each night with dinner as the ultimate two carb treat providing us with that sense of a small bread item with the meal.

We won’t have a clothes dryer and will hang our clothes outside to dry as we’ve done in most parts of the world. Having a dryer here has been a rare treat. We won’t have a TV and unable to hook up our HDMI to watch our shows, nor will we be able to watch news which we often have on in the background on a staying-in day. 

The biggest challenge will be not having a car. Mario, the property manager, explained that navigating the steep hill to the property requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle which to rent for three months would be outrageously expensive. He further explained that a highly competent driver will be available for our all of needs at reasonable rates. 

With the fees we’ve paid for rental cars in the past, we can easily use a driver five times a week for less than we’ve paid for the rentals. Most likely, we’ll negotiate set fees with the driver (to include a tip) to various locations avoiding the necessity of discussing the rate each time we go out.

This appears to be an agave plant. Agave sugar was the rage a few years ago. But, now its been found to cause a higher spikes in blood sugar than high fructose corn syrup causing weight gain and inflammation.

Also included in Fiji is daily maid service which is a mixed bag for us. I like running around and tidying up. I don’t even mind cleaning and making the bed, tasks we both share. With daily maid service, each day, we’ll have to get out of the way for whatever time it takes for the maid to clean up. 

Since both of us arise early and are showered and dressed by 7:30, most likely we’ll arrange a set time making it easier for all of us. While living there, my household tasks will consist of cooking and laundry while Tom will continues to do dishes.

The remainder of our time will be spent doing what we love to do; posting here, sightseeing and taking photos, searching for future travels, shopping at local markets, walking the beach and enjoying the tropical climate and the beautiful surroundings. 

Wildflowers growing in the yard.

Some have mentioned, based on personal experience, that they don’t like Fiji mainly due to the poverty. We’d decided long ago to accept the reality of poverty we’ll see throughout the world. 

Although we don’t necessarily live in the poverty-stricken areas, we often shop in the same markets and make purchases from the same vegetable stands and from the same vendors utilizing the products and services offered by these hard-working locals.

Not every vacation home has all the amenities we’d chose in a perfect world. In essence, its the imperfections in the world that ultimately we find the most interesting and its our own imperfections within that world that we strive to improve as we adapt to yet another new way of life.

Photo from one year ago today, August 16, 2014:

Tom’s last dinner out in Paris ended with this banana split. While dining out during the month we spent between Paris and London, Tom ate whatever his heart desired. It wasn’t until we settled into our next vacation home in Maui, Hawaii in October 2014,  that I started cooking again and he joined me in my way of eating.  For the final expenses for our costly 16 nights in Paris, please click here.