Wow!…Safari luck as we wind down our time in Costa Rica…Six days and counting…

The colorful entrance to an art store in Atenas.

“Sightings on the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Once again, Tom’s been able to capture another fabulous bird from the veranda while I was busy indoors making dinner. This Yellow-tailed Oriole, although at quite a distance, was a treasure to behold. More photos will photo with his mate! 

Each afternoon, after we’re done in the pool, usually around 3:00 pm, Tom takes his computer to the veranda to listen to his favorite podcasts. At the same time, I’ll busy myself indoors, preparing dinner, downloading shows on Graboid, working on photos for future posts, or returning email messages.

Eating only one meal a day, by 5:00 pm, we’re ready for dinner, and we both get into a full-on mode to get everything to the dining room table, hot and prepared for an enjoyable meal.

A cafe along the boulevard.

Yesterday, after spending time in the pool’s cool water, which hadn’t heated up by its solar power during the overcast day, we turned on the jacuzzi to let it warm. The air was cool and windy, and the thought of the warmth of the jacuzzi was rather appealing.

Stepping into the warm water of the hot tub was delightful. We stayed for over an hour, chatting endlessly as usual. We hadn’t used the jacuzzi much (this was only the second time) since we arrived over three and a half months ago in an attempt to keep the costs down for the owners. 

Bev and Sam had kindly given us an excellent rental rate for our extended stay. As always, in all vacation homes, we’ve been mindful of our use of the utilities, turning off lights, fans, and appliances when not in use.

Side entrance to Catholic Church in Atenas, Iglesia Catolica Atenas, located in the center of town.

These two-hour afternoon “breaks” from each other are by no means “needed” to be away from each other.  But, somehow, we’ve just gravitated toward this time apart to engage in activities that may not appeal to one another.

While I’m bustling indoors, Tom has the camera close at hand during these periods and has been fortunate to capture several outstanding bird photos, especially over several weeks.

Cafe and bakeshop.

Perhaps it’s the time of day or weather conditions that bring more birds to the grounds than other times of the day.  It’s been the rainy season in the Alajuela Valley over the past months. Each day, we see more birds shortly before the deluge begins each afternoon. 

Yesterday was no exception when Tom called out to me to also take photos of stunning birds resting in the various trees on the grounds, sometimes in flocks or pairs and with many singles on their own.

We squeal with delight when we see less common varieties, often colorful and bespeaking one’s perception of wildlife in Costa Rica. Over the past five years, we’ve become more and more interested in birds, as shown in our many posts. 

Our final walk through Central Park in Atenas.

We’re certainly not birding experts, and at times, we struggle to identify specific species when we can’t readily find information online. Thanks to the assistance of many of our regular readers, we often receive an identification 24-hours after we’ve uploaded a post after mentioning we’re seeking the identity.

Recently, our most avid participants in providing information have been our friends Louise in Kauai, Hawaii, where we spent four months in 2015, and here in Atenas in our neighborhood, Charlie, who’d be also quite a bird enthusiast. Thanks to both of you!

Each week we’ve had the taxi driver drop us off at this location so we can walk through the town on our way to the Supermercado Coopeatenas, the grocery store where we’ve shopped during this past many months.

Throughout the world, we’ve been able to ask our readers for assistance. Invariably, we receive a response, after which we edit the specific post to reflect the name of the bird as opposed to my inquiry in the caption. Thanks to all of our worldwide readers for your assistance.

While we were there for almost a year, from 2013 to 2014, we were so busy observing and photographing large and small creatures. We failed to spend much time on birds. Now, as we contemplate our upcoming stay in Africa in less than three months, we do so with added enthusiasm.

This trip to Africa will be different from our enhanced interest in birds. For us, when no “big game” is handy for observation, birds are an equally fascinating alternative. We commend avid bird watchers for their patience in getting the perfect shot.

A famous pizza shop, Pizza Olivera, is often attended by ex-pats.

With the planned purchase of a new longer-range camera soon, we look forward to enhanced shots of birds and other creatures we find in the wild before the Antarctica cruise.

There will be no shortage of photos for the “Sightings on the Veranda in Costa Rica” we’re wrapping up at the end of our remaining six nights in Atenas. Soon, we’ll be posting our “favorite photos” of Costa Rica, and next Tuesday, we’ll share our final expenses on our last post before heading to Florida for the South America cruise.

Have a blissful day.

Photo from one year ago today, November 16, 2016:

One year ago, our friends Michelle and Carlo, whom we’d met on a prior Australian cruise, picked us up at the port in Perth while we were on another Australian cruise. We had a fabulous day. Michelle and I shopped while Tom went with Carlo to his office nearby. This is CJ (for Carlo Junior), the family’s Char Pei, who took a liking to Tom. For more photos, please click here.

Day 19…Circumnavigating the Australian continent..Seven time changes upcoming!…More Perth photos…Sickness aboard the ship…

Carlo, Michelle, me and Tom at the cruise terminal building in Fremantle, Australia.
“Sighting on the Ship in Australia”
Beautiful artwork in the ship’s art gallery.

We’ve been on this ship for 19 days and there’s still two weeks before it ends. We have had a great experience so far, expecting that the good times will continue until we land in Sydney on December 3rd.

As the circumnavigation of Australia sails along, we’re at a point now where we’ll encounter seven time changes over the next few weeks with the requirement of losing one hour every few nights at 3:00 am, as indicated in the ship’s daily bulletin, the Cruise Compass. Also, as a reminder, they’ll be a reminder notice sitting atop our bed when we return to the cabin each of those nights.

The options in stores in Perth was the proverbial “abundance” we knew in the US.

Gaining an hour during the first week wasn’t nearly as noticeable as is usually the case for most travelers. Losing an hour over these nights, when we already haven’t slept much, will be all the more obvious. But, as always, we roll with time changes and time zones, giving little thought as to what effect this may have on us.

We’ve found the less fuss we make over the potentiality of jet lag the less symptoms we experience. We’ve always discovered that one good night’s sleep, returning to our routines and a bit of sunshine is all we need to stay on course with our biological clocks.

We’re looking forward to shopping and cooking meals again after a hiatus of many months.

Speaking of feeling well, so far, so good. Neither of us have become ill on this cruise. I may be stating this way too early. After all, we still have the equivalent of a full cruise ahead of us.

Many of the approximate 500 passengers from the first leg, still sailing with us back to Sydney, are sneezing and coughing. Tom has had a runny nose for a few days, but we assumed it was allergies when no coughing or sore throat ensued.

This is something new to us, seeing prepared “meals to go” in a shop specializing in this concept. Wow I feel as if I’ve been living in a cave after visiting this huge mall in Perth.

We’ve been far removed from exposure to colds, flus and viruses for so long over this past year, living in areas where the air is fresh, clean and free from smog and dust.  Arriving at all of these industrial ports certainly could trigger allergic reactions for some passengers, including Tom. 

While in Perth a few days ago, we purchased some daytime, non sleepy antihistamines which seem to be helping to alleviate his symptoms. As preventive measures we’ve both been taking probiotics, 3 gr of vitamin C daily (spread throughout the day) and using our own bottles of Nasonex spray twice daily.

Oceanfront view of the Western Australia Maritime Museum in Fremantle.

We’re both diligent in washing our hands dozens of times each day, but continually observe others, even in the restrooms not washing after using the facilities. 

If everyone would wash before and after meals and restroom visits and, after touching railings or any other public areas, covering their mouths and faces when coughing and sneezing and totally avoid touching or shaking hands, there’d be considerably less illness on cruises. 

Across one of many entrances to the harbor in Perth/Fremantle.

If we get sick, it’s usually the “cruise cough,” a relentless virus of one type or another than can persist for months. The worst illness, we’ve experienced from cruising was after the 18-night cruise from Honolulu to Sydney in June 2015. 

That illness was, by far, the worst either of us have experienced in our four years of world travel, lasting for many weeks long after the cruise ended. We were both so sick, we hardly remember arriving in Sydney, flying to Cairns, renting the car and finding our way to the vacation home in Trinity Beach.

Sandy beach in Perth.

Hopefully, we’ll make it through these final two weeks without incident, arriving healthy and fit for our upcoming three months in Tasmania, in two distinct locations. 

People we’ve met have mentioned how they dread the cruise ending, the vacation/holiday ending to return to the “real world” often filled with stress, jobs, piles of bills and mail, tasks and responsibilities. 

Quiet sandy beach in Perth.

We only receive a few pieces of mail each month at our Nevada mailing service, none of which is urgent since we pay insurance and credit cards online. As a result, we never face a “pile of mail.”  We handle everything online with ease as the necessity arises. 

Our “real world” is more world travel, blissfully heading to the next location, the next adventure, the next leg of our worldwide journey. We never forget for one day, how grateful we are to be together, living this fulfilling life filled with one wonder after another.

Main entrance to the Western Australia Maritime Museum.

We hope you have a wonder filled day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 18, 2015:

The Montfort Technical Institute in Savusavu which assists poor children academically and economically to gain skills to prepare them for a productive adulthood. For more photos, please click here.

Day 18…Circumnavigating the Australian continent…Yesterday’s memorable day in Perth with friends…

Carlo and Michelle standing near their Mustang in the port of Perth parking lot.

“Sighting on the Ship in Australia”

Painting of the Statue of Liberty in the art gallery onboard the vessel.

By 9 am, we easily made our way off the ship to wait for Michelle and Carlo to pick us up in front of the passenger cruise terminal in Perth. In the flurry of activity, we did not ask for a description of their car. 

Tom remembers that they had bought a new Mustang from our on-going Facebook contact since we met them on a cruise in April from Sydney to Singapore. In no time, we saw them both come close to us, arms wide open for great Aussie welcomes and embraces.

Lighthouse close to the harbor.

It was a cloudy and rainy day which didn’t put a damper on our day. They took us through many beautiful parts of Perth allowing us to see their beloved town. The dense clouds hindered our views and photos, but at least we got the concept and charm of some of the many highlights of the Twin Cities of Perth and Fremantle. 

Although the photos were not as good as we would have liked the day spent together was without any doubt the biggest point of all. They had both taken a day off to be here, and we appreciate that. 

Boats at the marina.

After a tour through Perth and Fremantle, we ended up in a large shopping mall as big as any major shopping mall in the US. Tom and Carlo joined us at the mall, later taking off to let Michelle and I do some shopping while he took Tom to his jewelry shop where he and his staff make exquisite custom jewelry with gems and fine metals from all over the world. 

I really needed a few clothes and Michelle turned out to be a perfect shopping companion. It had been so long since I’d shopped in a mall of this caliber, let alone with another woman. I felt like a kid in a candy store, my eyes darting about over the massive number of stores, products and concepts, many of them entirely new in my limited exposure to shopping. 

Rain and fog prevented a clear view of downtown Perth.

We darted from shop to shop. In the end, I found four shirts, a belt and pants that met all my expectations. Although each item was more expensive than I would have liked, most were on sale, of very high quality and entirely wash and wear, a must in our world of travel.

A few hours later, the guys returned to the mall, easily found us per Michelle’s call to Carlo and we all had lunch in the food court. We’d wanted to take them to a special restaurant for lunch, but they insisted they’d be thrilled to eat in the food court. Tom was eyeballing the McDonalds restaurant.

Looking at a park we would have walked if it had not been as rainy as possible.

I was worried that I couldn’t find anything that would work for the way I eat. Lo and behold, there were many low carb, gluten free options and I had a delicious salad with salsa, guacamole, chicken salad and veggies that tasted as good as any meal I’d had in years. I couldn’t remember the last time I ate Mexican in a restaurant.

Of course, Tom enjoyed his cheeseburger and McDonald’s fries while the rest of us dined on items from various places. The last time we’d had a meal in a food court was back in the US at least five or six years ago, long before I began this way of eating. 

Swan River in Perth/Fremantle.

The engaging conversations and the day passed quickly. In no time at all we were back at the cruise terminal hugging, taking photos and saying goodbye. How does one say thank you after such a fine day with two kind, generous, and special individuals? We can only hope that someday our paths will cross again.

Back in the terminal, the return process for the back-to-back cruise was quick and painless with no queues, no check in lines and only one fast pass through security with our new SeaPass cards in hand. Soon we were back in our familiar cabin, dressing for the evening and ready for the 5:00 pm muster drill which is required that all consecutive passengers attend.

Fred, Michelle and Carlo’s parrot who lives in Carlo’s jewelry studio. When Fred saw Tom he squawked at him and then said “Fred.”

By 5:30 we were back on the elevator to the 13th floor to see our friends, Lois and Tom and Cheryl and Stan in the Diamond Lounge for more ‘free” drinks, laughter and more of the pure pleasure of spending time with special people.

Top of our ship to the right.

Once again, our travels find us in the position of feeling grateful and in awe of the people we meet, whether they’re local citizens in a remote location, Aussies from the big city like Michelle and Carlo, Kat and John or the four friends as mentioned above from the USA. 

This was CJ (for Carlo Junior), the family’s Char Pei who took a liking to Tom.

The world is a huge place. When we’ve been blessed to meet people along the way, it becomes small and intimate, not so far removed from the life we left  behind many moons ago.

Today, a new 1500 passengers are among us with the remaining almost 500 of us on the back-to-back for a new total of around 2000 passengers. No doubt, the joy of this fabulous cruise will continue over these next 16 days until we eventually dock in Sydney to fly to Tasmania on December 3, 2016. 

Garden at Carlo’s parent’s adjoining property near the studio.

Living this life on the move isn’t always easy. Nor is it a simple process to plan the equivalent of one vacation/holiday after another, year after year, never returning to a “home” to regroup or repack. 

But, it’s the life we’ve chosen and for us, a very happy life filled with endless wonders and surprises, most certainly enhanced by the people we’ve met along the way. 

Jewelry making workshop.

Thank you, people; those we’ve met, those who travel with us via the web each and every day and those whom we’ve yet to meet. Thank you for your kindness, your acceptance and most of all, your love.

Photo from one year ago today, November 17, 2015:

A few boats at the pearl pier in Savusavu, Fiji. For more photos, please click here.

Day 17…Circumnavigating the Australian continent…Visiting Perth and Fremantle today with friends…

The super moon over the sea, of a few nights ago.

“Sighting on the Ship in Australia”

Another beautiful piece of art from the ship art gallery.

The first leg of this 33 night tour of circumventing the Australian continent ends today as the ship docked in the Perth/Fremantle area. At 9:00 am, we’re disembarking the ship with a plan to return in the afternoon long before the ship sets sail on leg #2.

Our friends, Michelle and Carlo will be picking us up at the pier once we disembark the ship. They asked if there was anywhere special we’d like to see. We suggested we go wherever they’d suggest. 

Kat and John live close to Sydney will see us in March when we stay in Manley Beach for 40 nights. They are as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside!

Mostly we’re interested in seeing Fremantle and spending time with them catching up over these past seven months since we sailed together on RC Voyager from Sydney to Singapore in April.

This is William, Kat and John’s six month old adorable boy.

We can’t stop smiling. The routine we’ve established on this ship has been ideal for our tastes and desires. We continually visit with people engaging in the most interesting and varied conversations. We eat, we drink, we play pool and attend some activities with other passengers. 

We dance. We revel in the entertainment that suits us. We dine where and when we desire and then, head to our cabin only after we’ve exhausted every moment of pleasure we’ve been able to glean from our surroundings.

Tom’s steak dinner in Cascades dining room.

Could we sail over longer periods of time, perhaps a 90-day world tour? I don’t think so.The novelty of this long cruise is exactly the right amount. Any longer could take away its  feeling special. But, we’d easily consider another month long cruise in the future. 

When we return to the US  by cruise for the family visit in May, that’s a 24-night cruise with a two day break in Vancouver and then we’re off on the 9-night Alaskan cruise resulting in cruising for 33-nights over a period of 35-nights. In that case, it won’t be quite the same as this consecutive 33-nights, but certainly we expect boat cruises to be time well spent.

My nightly plate of stir fried veggies cooked in butter, which is my only side dish to whatever protein source I’ve ordered. Everything is perfectly prepared to my dietary specifications.

Last night was another of those amazing evenings spent with our friends which we anticipate will continue through this second leg. At this point, we’re considering plans to get together next year, along the way of our travels. Details will follow in the future.

The six of us said our goodbyes to Kat, John and little William whom Tom and I will see in March when we’re in Sydney (Manly Beach) for 40-nights. We’ve all exchanged email and Facebook info ensuring we’ll easily stay in touch.

My plate of garlic butter prawns.

Up early this morning, by 6:45 am, I’d saved us seats in the “Latte thuds” café while Tom showered and dressed. This has been and will continue to be our favorite spot on the ship when preparing the post or conducting other online activities. 

Tom visited the 13th floor to the Diamond Lounge to get us each big cup of the complimentary latte offered to Diamond Club members, another of the rewards perks we’ve accumulated as frequent cruisers on Royal Caribbean. With Celebrity and RC owned by the same corporation, these benefits are carried over when we cruise on either line. 

Many evenings after dinner, we stop at the Schooner Bar for entertainment. These two performers are excellent.

We won’t be posting the final expenses and bills (we’ll receive two, one for each leg of the cruise) until the last day at the end of the second leg on December 3rd. We were pleasantly surprised by our modest bill for the first 16 nights of this cruise.

Soon, prior to 9:00 am, as required for back-to-back passengers, we’ll disembark the cruise, to find Michelle and Carlo awaiting us at the pier as we’ll spend the day. 

The city of Geraldton, Australia, where the ship anchored yesterday. With little to do in this small town, we stayed aboard the ship and played pool. Tom is now ahead by four games.  He’s improving  much more rapidly than I. As competitive as we are when playing any game together, I’d better get “on the stick.”

It’s an overcast day forecast for rain so I doubt we’ll be spending much time outdoors, instead exploring Australia’s Twin Cities of Perth/Fremantle, not unlike our former Twin Cities in Minnesota of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

We’ll be back tomorrow with new photos of Perth/Fremantle, new stories and the continuation of this glorious cruise aboard Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas.

Have a glorious day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 16, 2015:

Too often, we’ve been sightseeing on rainy days such as this day one year ago in Fiji.  Photos are much more appealing on sunny days.For more photos, and a review of our travel criteria, please click here.