Part 2…Murano, another fine dining option aboard the ship…Our anniversary cake…No boredom here…

The anniversary cake was hosted by the restaurant. Tom didn’t eat any of it. We handed it over to the neighbors from Minnesota in the next cabin for them to enjoy.

The cruise is rapidly coming to an end with only four days until we disembark in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from which we’ll immediately fly to Minnesota on the only flight that worked time-wise for us, requiring a lengthy layover in Detroit. We don’t mind since it’s a relatively short travel time compared to most international flights.

For the next few days, we’ll revel in the relaxation and delightful encounters and interactions with other passengers and, of course, with one another. It’s funny how people often assume we cruise all the time when they first hear we are world travelers.  

The lobster was fabulous!

Neither of us would ever be interested in cruising all the time. Firstly, it would be too expensive for our budget unless we selected “inside” cabins which don’t appeal to us.  

Secondly, we’d eventually become bored with cruising if it were to be our permanent status. The novelty of cruising an average of three times a year is ideal for us. We use cruising as a means of transportation whenever possible, significantly reducing travel day stresses.

Besides, who wants to socialize every day? The ability to interact with others at our option is ultimately an ideal scenario. Doing so every daily could become trite and boring.

Tom’s plate with chateaubriand, potatoes, and vegetables.

Neither of us ever feels bored with our lifestyle.  We’ve shaped it in a manner to avoid becoming bored and lackluster. This is one of the innate requirements of ensuring long-term travel has purpose and meaning.

With considerable forethought and planning as we research each new location, we allow ourselves quiet time to relax, reflect and recharge. Even during these less-than-exciting times, we seldom, if ever, feel bored.

If a moment of “what-do-I-do-now?” overcomes us, we both easily switch gears to tackle a new project, conduct more interesting travel options or engage in research on our favorite topics.

Tom’s dessert of chocolate bites, coconut macaroons, and sugared ginger.

In the worst case, we can always stream a movie or favorite show to watch on our laptops. Our lives are no different from anyone else who may or may not be traveling in these respects. 

Sure, in most cases, others have the option to make a phone call to meet up with family and friends for social activities, lengthy phone chats, or planned activities. This is rarely the case for us when everyone is so far away. But we have each other and find tremendous fulfillment in our time together.

Soon, we’ll be in the US and spending some time apart with our respective families during an undetermined time in Minnesota. We have no doubt we’ll figure it all out with ease. 

In any case, regardless of how much time we spend in the US, on January 30th, we’re flying to Mumbai for the next leg of our journey when the adventure continues.

Happy Monday to all!

Photo from one year ago today, November 4, 2018:
Finally, the lions reached the kill, perhaps left behind by another lion. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Murano, another fine dining option aboard the ship…

Tom seated at the table in Murano specialty restaurant. Tom took a photo of me, but it was too blurry to post here.

Celebrating our seventh anniversary of traveling the world in Murano Restaurant aboard Celebrity Silhouette was ideal for observing the special occasion.

A tower of unsalted butter and crusty rolls, which Tom tackled with enthusiasm.

The fact that Celebrity had “comped” the meal due to the flood in our cabin in the middle of the night made the event all the more enjoyable, knowing we didn’t have to add another $150 (including gratuity) to our bill.

My ice cold seviche.

We’ve easily used our $400 cabin credit for other items, including dinner in Qsine and a lovely sterling silver necklace I purchased that hides the scar from my open-heart surgery. I also included a high-quality pair of matching earrings.

Murano has a pleasing atmosphere.

The jewelry was pricey at $345, but I rarely purchase anything expensive for myself. I justified this purchase for these particular reasons. It felt wonderful wearing this fine piece of jewelry on the two formal nights when I wore dresses with a little bit of a low neckline.  

This small tower of seafood was not only pleasing to the eye but delicious. I asked them to return this one and bring me another without the wheat cracker at the bottom.

Most likely, there will be one more formal night to go.

This jewelry will serve me well in the future for dress-up nights on other cruises and other social events. I can’t begin to say how much more at ease I am wearing the necklace.

Tom’s lobster bisque.

Yesterday, we spent the day in Boston, but we, along with many other passengers, stayed aboard the ship again. It was cold and windy, and we didn’t have the appropriate clothing for such weather.

Scallops in a puff pastry roll.

We’ll have to figure something out for clothing for our arrival in Minnesota in five days as the cold winter weather rolls in, not unusual for November. No doubt, it will snow while we’re there.

This was fish in another pastry for Tom.

We continue to have a perfect time on this ship. We’ve probably made more friends on this ship than any other in the past, literally handing out dozens of business cards with our web address. 

This was my cold spinach salad, dressed in a tasty vinaigrette and topped with a chilled poached egg. Its appearance was odd, but the flavor was superb.

As it turns out, many people have approached us, saying they “already know us” from our over seven years of posts. We certainly realize our lifestyle is unique from that of many other frequent world travelers. 

The platter of accompaniments was prepared for the chateaubriand served tableside.

We haven’t met anyone on this ship that has a situation similar to ours. Yes, many people travel, but all have homes, apartments, belongings, and a place they call “home.”

The flambe of the chateaubriand.

Many express shock over how we ever managed to leave everything behind to embark on such an adventure. Overall, most struggle with the concept of ridding themselves of their treasured belongings. 

Many have moved to other states/countries to their desired locales with good weather and, like us, don’t see their family and friends as often as they’d like. But, they, too, feel a powerful sense of freedom and commitment to carry on their lives, experiencing as much of the world as possible.

Slicing the delicious, well seasoned, and prepared chateaubriand.

It’s been purely delightful sharing stories with other travelers, further confirming that we are not alone in our desire for wanderlust and a somewhat nomadic lifestyle.

Today, a sea day, we spent most of the day in the Cafe al Bacio enjoying our unlimited drink package, including specialty coffee, tea, and other beverages. I don’t drink alcoholic beverages during the day, but Tom has partaken of a few Pina Coladas and other exciting coffee drinks.

We shared the chateaubriand for two but also ordered the lobster as the main course.

Soon, we’re off again for yet another evening of entertaining conversation, good food, and adult beverages. I’ve been sticking with my daily limit of two small glasses of fine cabernet sauvignon, which is included in the unlimited drink package.  

With each of the two glasses of wine, I always order a green glass bottle of Pelligrino (sparkling mineral water), making it possible for me to easily “stretch” the wine throughout the evening.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more food photos and updates. 

May your Sunday evening be entertaining as well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 3, 2018:

Mom and offspring cuddling during a nap in our garden. Note the oxpecker on mom’s head. For more photos, please click here.

Wow! An outstanding evening in Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires…What an exciting deal!…Wine lovers, take note…

Monogrammed cloth napkins and plates were awaiting us as we were seated at La Cabrera last night.

When searching online for possible restaurants in the area, over and over again, La Cabrera popped up in our searches. This was one of the few restaurants open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, offering pricey fixed-price menus at the cost of US $104.25 per person (ARS 2,000, with a recent exchange rate drop since our mention in a prior post).

Tom ordered a local beer while I had a Malbec.  Wine lovers, see our notes below.

With an added tip based on La Cabrera’s purported good service, we could easily have spent US $300 (ARS 5,756) for each of the two holiday nights, especially with added cocktails since Tom wouldn’t have been interested in the included wine offerings. 

Based on our perception of the high cost of dining at La Cabrera, we didn’t give it much thought, although we passed it and its second restaurant located on the same block, many times during our walks through the busy district.

These side dishes are complimentary at La Cabrera. 

Yesterday, while checking the menu on their website hoping to discover their regular (non-holiday) prices (which weren’t posted online), I stumbled across this ad below:

The La Cabrera ad states, in Spanish in small print above the word “Happy,”  that happy hour is daily between 6:30 and 8:00 pm. Getting there by 6:15 pm is a must, or one may not get in for this excellent benefit.

Before dinner, we decided to find a local pharmacy to purchase some over-the-counter items for the upcoming Antarctica cruise, also buying enough for the first few months in Africa. We were impressed with the “caged” pharmacist’s ability to find everything on our list in the tiny space.

Roasted garlic in the finest of olive oil.

As it turned out, the Farmacia, which closes at 8:00 pm, was within a block or two of the restaurant, and we decided to head there first before walking to the restaurant.

When we arrived at La Cabrera at 6:15, we discovered a queue of a dozen people waiting outside to take advantage of the “happy hour” pricing as well. We found our spot in line and waited along with the others as several more diners arrived during the waiting period. By 6:40 pm, they started letting us “bargain hunters” enter the restaurant to be seated in a relatively tight space quickly.

A woman sitting alone next to us ordered this colossal steak and devoured the entire thing.

No more than five minutes after we were seated, they started turning people away. Most locals take a two-hour siesta between 2:00 and 4:00 pm, and they usually don’t dine until 9:00 or 10:00 pm or later, a little too late for us. Such early seating is unusual in Buenos Aires.

As early birds awakening by 6:00 am at the latest each day, we’re usually sound asleep by midnight. Going to bed on a full stomach is something we aren’t interested in doing, nor do we like to wait that late to dine, usually our only meal of the day. The “happy hour” concept works exceptionally well for us. 

This was my entree, a Caesar salad with grilled chicken (no croutons) to which I requested avocado. They added one and a half small avos, and to my surprise, I consumed the entire dish. They also included a lemon mayonnaise dressing (not bottled) on the side.

As we’ve walked the restaurant-lined streets of the Palermo Soho district over this past six days, we’ve noted dozens of restaurants where we’ll never be able to dine when they don’t open until 9:00 or 10:00 pm.  However, we’ve been able to find enough restaurants to suits our needs that open by 6:00 or 7:00 pm.

After last night’s spectacular experience, not only regarding the excellent food and service but also the highly cultural event, we certainly look forward to returning to La Cabrera several more times during the “happy hour” period. As a footnote, this restaurant is certainly worth visiting in the later hours at a total price for those who prefer to dine later in the evening when the pace may be more relaxed.

To reach my required 60 grams of protein each day, I added this egg and red pepper dish, cooked to perfection. This alone would have been a big enough meal for me with its four eggs. Good grief. I ate the whole thing as we took our time and dined at a leisurely pace.

We’d heard prices are high in Buenos Aires, and in most cases, they are. As a result, we budgeted US $100 (ARS 1,886) per day for meals while staying in a hotel for over 30 nights.

Last night’s meal, including wine, beer, and a generous tip, totaled US $46.23 (ARS 871.70) after the 40% discount. Wow! Subsequently, we’re averaging only US $34 (ARS 641) per day, keeping in mind that we only eat dinner out. This amount includes the food we’d purchased at the mini-mart for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day when we weren’t willing to spend the above-mentioned high prices for the fixed-priced menus on those two holiday nights.

Tom ordered the barbecue ribs, which was the equivalent of an entire slab with these three sauces. He ate all the juicy, tender meat and left the sauces. He’s not a “sauce” kind of guy, although he can be pretty saucy at times!.

Tom eats a light breakfast of coffee, hard-boiled eggs, ham, and cheese (pastries, fruit, and juice are available for others) in the excellent Prodeo Hotel, which is included in our nightly rate.

The food at La Cabrera was over-the-top fresh, hot, delicious, and beautifully presented on sizzling platters.  Both of us couldn’t have enjoyed the experience more and look forward to a repeat performance soon. Next time, I won’t order so much food since I’m still stuffed this morning.

This wasn’t a full-sized bottle of Malbec but contained two large glasses. I had one glass, and the waiter provided the cork to take the balance back to the hotel with us! See the notes below on Argentinian Malbec as compared to French.
“Learn the Difference: Argentinian Malbec vs. French Malbec (from this site)

Blog » Wine Tips & Tricks » Learn the Difference: Argentinian Malbec vs. French Malbec

France is the origin of Malbec, but Argentina is now home to nearly 70% of the Malbec vineyards of the world. Thus, your very first taste of Malbec could have been from Mendoza, Argentina. There is a dramatic difference in taste between the two regions, and this is because Malbec really shows how terroir affects the wine.

An instant definition of ‘terroir.’

Terroir encompasses all the regional factors that define the taste of a wine grape, including sun, soil, the slant of a hillside, proximity to a body of water, climate, weather, and altitude. Terroir happens before a winemaker even touches the grapes. Any winemaker worth their salt will tell you: great wine is made in the vineyard, not in the cellar. Read more about Terroir.”

After the New Year holiday ends, we’ll begin sightseeing. We won’t do another comprehensive post on this particular restaurant when we return during our remaining 25 nights in Buenos Aires. However, we will share some details of other restaurants we’ll visit along the way.

We’re looking forward to sharing those details with all of YOU.

After we finished our meal, the waiter dropped off this “lollipop tree,” encouraging Tom to take some with him. He did.

Have a delicious day, dear friends!

Photo from one year ago today, December 29, 2016:

The previous day while on a walk in Penguin, Tasmania, we spotted this White Faced Heron. For more photos, please click here.

Day 26…Cruise to South America…A night to remember…An exceptional dining experience aboard ship…

Tom dined on one of these “Lava Crab” dishes I avoided due to the flour content. He described it as outstanding.

Sightings from the Veranda while Cruising”

Stunning view of Ushuaia from the veranda.

As an avid and enthusiastic foodie from both the perspective of a passionate cook and hostess, I’ve had the opportunity to experience many types of cuisine, especially now as we travel the world.

Tom was holding his menu tablet while deciding what to order at the Qsine specialty restaurant while at sea on Celebrity Infinity. Nine Celebrity ships are offering this exceptional dining experience.

Although my restrictive way of eating keeps us from dining out as much as we’d like in our worldwide travels, it doesn’t diminish the desire to partake in exceptional dining opportunities along the way.

From the “Sushi ” choice were these “lollipops.”  Although we didn’t order this option, we reveled in the gorgeous presentation.

Last night’s foray into an outstanding international hours-long epicurean adventure resulted from a night at Celebrity Infinity’s Qsine specialty restaurant neatly tucked away on deck 11 in a fashionable orange, black, and white themed venue wouldn’t imagine from such a color scheme. 

Many items from the “Soup & Souffle” menu were served “tapas” style, small servings such as these two souffles Chef Chantal prepared for me.

Nothing was spared in presenting a divine dining encounter at Qsine; from Chef Chantal’s dedication in ensuring the many food offerings would meticulously adhere to my dietary restrictions; to the dramatic presentation of each of the many unique and varied options; to the service befitting royalty by our attentive and gracious server, Tabby and; Alson who coordinated our reservation with expert ease.

This delicious seafood ceviche from the “Trescviche” option was atop sparkling lighted ice cubes.

Our entire experience was overseen by the restaurant manager, Jowett, who quietly and unobtrusively stopped by on a few suitable occasions adding one more layer of attention to perfection and detail one rarely finds in even the most upscale of dining establishments.

Tom was impressed with the “Lobster Escargot” exquisitely presented with two baked-in-parchment rolls.  Tom wasn’t able to finish his garlic olive oil pull-apart loaf as shown, but he kept it close at hand until the end of the meal, hoping he’d have room to no avail.

Chef Chantal stopped by toward the end of our meal, hoping for the good news she most undoubtedly expected by the finite adjustments she’d made to my varied items.  Her confidence and evident joy in serving her clients with expertise and devotion, from her years of accumulated skills, were readily evidenced by the warm smile on her face.

The “Taco Royale” presentation could easily have been a full meal for me with its make-your-own guacamole and beef taco salad.

Please see this link for Qsine’s world-inspired menu.

As for the food? I find myself at a loss for words describing the degree of creativity required in the expansive and fascinating menu offered on an iPad-type device where one only needs to click to choose their preferred plethora of courses.

This window box type display was a part of the “M Favorites” choice on the menu.

Course after course of exceptionally prepared items was presented at a perfectly timed pace leaving us curious and excited as we anticipated what was next to arrive. As the evening progressed and our satiety level was gradually waning merely from being complete, we had little will to resist the next course, especially when our eyes beheld the next in the sequence.

Although Tom was able to dine on items forbidden in my diet, including starch, sugars, and grains, I never felt denied as I stared in awe of what lies before me; presentation and flavor one can only dream possible. 

Tom’s taste buds were soaring when he began to sample the elaborate “Chinese Martini” option on the menu.

Tom found it irresistible to resist as each course was served.  His picky taste buds partook in many foods he’d previously refused to try finding the flavors and seasonings much to his liking. 

Tom’s delicious basket of “Beignets, Doughnuts, and Fritters.”

We entered the restaurant by 7:10 pm and didn’t leave until 9:30 pm. Dining at Qsine was as much of an entertaining event as it was a dining event. Watching the delighted faces of other diners as they were served the high quality and picturesque cuisine was another source of pleasure during our own experience. 

Tom’s “Surprise Dessert” consisted of a puff pastry wrapped baked apple was equally enticing.

I must admit that next time we book a Celebrity cruise, most certainly, we’ll be checking to see if a Qsine specialty restaurant is “on board,” which, without question, will add another layer of pleasure to our dining prospects while at sea.

With heartfelt consideration, we offer our sincere thanks to all of the staff who made this memorable evening a part of our repertoire of extraordinary experiences in our worldwide travels.

This Rubix cube-type dessert menu was presented at the end of our meal, from which Tom selected “Beignets – Doughnuts – Fritters,” a basket filled with fluffy baked goods. 

Today, our ship is docked in the city of Puerto Madryn, Argentina. After uploading today’s post, we’ll head out for the shuttle bus ride into the town, returning tomorrow with photos of yet another city in our journey.

Happy dining to all of our readers, and thank you for staying in touch with us as we wind down this enriching 30-night South America cruise. 

Photo from one year ago today, December 18, 2016:
Our fabulous vacation home in Penguin, Tasmania. (House with reddish roof). Click here for the link to the rental listing.  For more details, please click here.

Down memory lane…How did it feel to return?…Four days and counting…

From left to right, Doug, Jamie, Tom, Sue, Nelleke, Dave, our dear old friends, and neighbors are on the point.

Not only did we leave all the people we love behind when we left Minnesota and the US almost five years ago, but we said goodbye to all of our worldly possessions; home, cars, and all personal belongings.

My happy guy, enjoying time spent with old friends.

We gave the family the memorabilia and physical photos (all of which we scanned) and sailed away with only that which was contained in an overabundance of luggage at the time.

Now, pared-down considerably with only one large clothing suitcase each, a third smaller bag with supplies, and two carry-on bags, our worldly possessions are few.

Our former home.  Respecting the new owner’s privacy, we didn’t bother them to see it.

I won’t imply that any of that was easy. It was more difficult than we can ever express. But, somehow, we both knew that this new life was meant for us. And yes, it was a process. Freeing ourselves from “stuff” didn’t come easily.

Little did we know, as we suffered the angst of “letting go,” how meaningful and purposeful our new lives would become, providing both of us with a sense of joy, contentment, fulfillment, and happiness neither of us ever anticipated in these later years, especially after all this time has passed.

Our former home is on the opposite side of the peninsula.

We had no doubt we’d return to our old neighborhood to see our friends, and we wondered how we’d react to returning after almost five years. We knew it would be no different for us than when anyone returns to a home in their long-ago past. Doing so will always have the potential to bring up emotions many of us may have put aside for a time.

Alternate view of Jamie and Doug’s home with Nelleke and Dave’s next door.

As we stood on the road with our friends, looking toward our old house, we surprised ourselves when we each smiled, remembering the great times we shared, leaving us with memories we’ll always cherish. There was no sadness.

Jamie and Doug, two doors down from our former home. Thanks for inviting us to the “cocktail cruise.”

However, we weren’t sad in any way or even felt nostalgic to any degree. Later, when we discussed it, we equated it to how one might feel when they see an “old flame” while happily ensconced in a relationship with a “new love,” eliciting not much of a reaction, not a glimmer of sorrow…we’ve moved on.

And move on, we have, into another chapter of our lives for which we’ve adopted with grace and ease, knowing we made the right decision for us, not necessarily that which many others would care to adopt.

Doug, driving their spacious pontoon boat.

The people? We miss them and always will. Spending Saturday night with our old friends and, after spending many other days and nights with other friends and family members, our emotions regarding all of them remain in tact, filled with love and admiration for who they were when we left and who they’ve become in our absence.

Jamie and Doug’s stunning lakefront home.

Yesterday was a busy “friend” day for me when in the morning, friend Chere stopped by our hotel with gifts, Norwex cloths for our travels. Thanks, Chere, how perfect they are!  

Sue sold her house this past year, five years after our beloved Chip passed away. We shared photos and stories of her new home a few weeks ago. Click here for photos.

A short time later when TJ and grandson Jayden arrived for breakfast, they dropped me off at friend Karen’s home while they headed to Wisconsin to buy fireworks. Spending several hours with her was an unexpected treat when suddenly there was a gap in the schedule.

Tom picked me up at Karen’s home around 3:00 pm. We headed back to the hotel to change and dress for the planned dinner with friends Lisa and Brian at Maynard’s Restaurant in Excelsior, located on Lake Minnetonka, an old favorite haunt. 

Dave and Nelleke, our former next-door neighbors.

We spent hours talking, paying little attention to our food, instead of focusing on one another. It was so good to see them again as it had been to see Chere and Karen one last time and, of course, our old friends Lisa and Brian last night.

Nelleke and Dave’s gorgeous lakefront home.

During this extended stay, I even had an opportunity to see an old friend and former business partner, Theresa, a second time on a whim during a gap in the schedule last week.

Tom’s fish and chips with coleslaw.  He’ll eat healthier food once we start cooking again in Costa Rica in about 28 days.

As this final week comes to a close, knowing we’re leaving in four days, we’ll focus our time and energy, as their work schedules allow saying goodbye to our family. The busy 4th of July holiday puts a slight damper on this process, but we’ll manage just fine. 

Jamie and Doug shared this massive plate of pork chops at Hazelwood Restaurant, where we dined after our happy hour boat ride.

We arrived in Minnesota on a holiday weekend (Memorial Day) and are leaving on the 4th of July week. Soon, we’ll return to the life our Aussies friends always referred to as our “living life on a perpetual holiday (vacation).” 

My usual Cobb salad with a side of sour cream (instead of salad dressing) which I’ve ordered almost every night since we arrived in Minnesota nearly six weeks ago.

For us, it’s not a perpetual vacation. Its a nomadic life filled with adventure as we continue to explore beyond our wildest dreams, a decision that ultimately required a lot of change, sacrifice and adaptation, a decision we’ll never regret.

Thanks, dear readers, for sharing this particular time with us.

Photo from one year ago today, July 3, 2016:

Historical building in Singapore one year ago. For more photos and final expenses for the week we spent in Singapore, please click here.

Coffee, cakes, and camaraderie… A special visit to a quaint local cafe… A perfect day and evening in Fairlight…

We walked quite a distance to reach the Forty Beans cafe, Bob’s daily coffee spot for a coffee, muffin, and local chatter. The cafe is located in Balgowlah, a nearby town. It was fun to meet his friends and meet the owners.

Since we arrived in Fairlight on March 13th, Bob has encouraged us to join him on his daily walk to the park and Forty Beans cafe. For years, he’s made this walk to meet with friends and their dogs when they too stop daily for coffee, cakes, and camaraderie. 

The shop is well appointed with an array of beverages and baked goods along with an ample breakfast, brunch, and lunch menu.

Having been under the weather for so long, I hesitated over the prospect of the long walk up and down many hills native to the area.  But determined to rebuild my strength and agility, we embarked on the journey at 2:00 pm.

A variety of books and local products are offered for sale in Forty Beans.

The post was done. I’d ordered a birthday gift for grandson Jayden’s birthday and began working on Easter gifts for the six grandchildren. And above all, I’d chopped and diced everything we needed to make pizza and salad for our dinner guests arriving at 5:30 pm.

The simple, uncluttered decor is pleasant and inviting.

We had plenty of time for the walk. Little did either of us realize how impressive the walk would be to Forty Beans through grassy knolls, the lush green local park often passing by expansive ocean views and the marina.  

Bob’s coffee and oatmeal cookie. All baked items are made fresh on-site each day.

It was impossible not to stop frequently to take photos gasping over the beautiful scenery along the way. We’ll share the photos over the next several days. At this point, we have enough photos we’ve yet to post to last over our remaining 15 days in Fairlight.

Dogs aren’t allowed inside the cafe but welcome at the outdoor seating. These two types of dog biscuits are for sale for AU $1.00, US $.75.  

We enjoyed the time at Forty Beans, located at 2/11 Lower Beach St, Balgowlah NSW 2093, Australia, meeting the staff and owner and reveling in the pleasant surroundings in a cafe that wasn’t an overly familiar chain or franchise establishment. The smells sent my taste buds into a frenzy, and I ogled the baked items in the case, well aware there was nothing there for me.

The exterior wall is hand-painted with these adorable scenes.

Even Tom resisted ordering anything. Finally, with pizza upcoming for dinner, he decided to hold off. Now that I’m avoiding coffee, tea, and iced tea for a while, ordering water wasn’t appealing. 

Forty Beans has its own painted bicycle advertising the business.  (Bob is holding the bike).

Instead, we focused on pleasant sounds, smells, and ambiance, which explains why customers frequent this popular establishment regularly.

Tom, Forty Bean’s owner Rebecca and Bob.

As Forty Bean’s 3 pm closing time approached, the three of us said our goodbyes and were on our way back to Bob’s lovely property in Fairlight. The return walk was mostly uphill. 

A dog water bowl is located in the outdoor seating area.

I surprised myself how well I did on the hilly roads after being relatively inactive for many months except for one or two long walks a week. It felt so good, and I couldn’t stop smiling.

Comfy banquette in Forty Beans

Now, I’m determined to get out more and walk as much as possible. Back at our place before 4 pm, we sat outside waiting for Ben to finish cleaning the apartment. He did a flawless job, and I appreciated not having to do the dreaded cleaning necessary before dinner guests arrive.

Bob and Tom were listening attentively to Rebecca’s mom, who was seated to their right.

The delightful day easily extended into the evening when Bev, Colin, and Bob arrived promptly at 5:30 pm. The lively conversation and laughter flowed with ease, and before we knew it, it was 9:30 pm.  

Last night, we had a wonderful evening with Bob, Bev, and Colin, renters in his bed and breakfast located upstairs from our apartment.  Sadly, they left this morning to continue on their holiday.  

We’d all had a busy day and were ready to unwind. But, it was hard to say goodbye to our new friends with whom we hope to stay in touch from time to time. We never stop appreciating the opportunity to make wonderful new friends along the way.

Tom did the dishes, and in no time, we were both plopped down on the sofa to watch a documentary on TV. By 10:30, I started fading and headed to bed with my new smartphone in hand. Read a little, snooze a lot. Life is good.

Happy day, dear readers!

Photo from one year ago today, April 7, 2016:

While visiting the Taranaki Pioneer Village in NZ, I told Tom this could come in handy on “overly grumpy” days!  For final photos of our visit to the popular tourist spot, please click here.

Sightseeing in the exquisite surroundings…Welcoming the sunshine…Clontarf Reserve…

Moreton Bay Fig Tree highlights the entrance to Clontarf Reserve. Click here for details on this type of tree.

Yesterday afternoon, Bob popped down to see us, as he does several times each day, asking if we’d like to venture out on some sightseeing to the North Beaches area, which we can see from our veranda, which appears difficult to get to from across the bay based on our view.

Zoom in for hours of operation at Clontarf Reserve.

As it turned out, the access to the area was easy and, although hilly, was a pleasant ride in Bob’s comfortable newer car. So please leave it to Bob to ensure we had another great experience.

In no time at all, we were out of the car enthralled with some of the best scenery Sydney has to offer with expansive views and photos ops we could hardly believe.

Lots of fluffy clouds enhanced our photos.

The area we’re highlighting today is Clontarf Reserve and Beach, one of the many areas we visited during yesterday’s outing. In fact, upon returning, we found numerous great reviews online including these following comments at TripAdvisor.

Clontarf Reserve and Beach include the following amenities that many visitors and tourists may find pleasing for a day at the park and beach, including these comments below from this site for both individual and group use for such events as weddings, reunions, and parties:


  • Toilets: Amenities Block with disabled access and toilet
  • BBQs: 4 double electric & 2 single electric
  • Playground: Yes undercover, shaded suitably for 0-12 age group
  • Carparking: Carpark and street parking
  • Carpark entry fees – Metered parking – charges apply, Ratepayers / Residents with designated car stickers have free entry; disabled parking:   2 spaces.
  • Applicable: Monday to Sunday 8.00am to 6.00pm
  • Lighting: Park lighting only
  • Power: Upon request.
  • Seating/Tables: Both
  • Shelter: 2 gazebo type shelters/ seating for 16 and shade trees
  • Water/Taps: Taps and bubbler near swimming pool and at amenities block & 1 outdoor shower
  • Passive/Active Recreation: Passive (continued below)
There are hundreds of sailboats and motorboats in the marina. Construction is in process as shown on the left but doesn’t seem to impede any of the activities.
Availability (for group events, only)
  • Anytime up to 10:00 pm
  • Tentative bookings must be confirmed within 1 week.
  • Community Facilities Co-ordinator will email confirmation of your booking.
  • Fees must be paid within two weeks of request of booking.

Bookings are required for group events, and fees are applicable.


For information (including fees) about booking Council venues for a wedding ceremony function, please see the page:

Other facilities

  • Clonny’s Restaurant: (02) 9948 2373
  • Kiosk, enclosed swimming baths, sailing, boat access ramp.
  • Manly Scenic Walkway Access.”
We can only imagine the cost of the one of these boat slips.

Clonny’s Restaurant is located on the premises, with information found here including pricing and menu options.  Nearby, as mentioned above, is the Manly Scenic Walkway, a 3 hour, 30 minute 10 km walk (one way) with information located at this site.  

Not only did we enjoy visiting Clontarf Reserve and Beach on the sunny, albeit windy day, Bob drove us to several choice locations which had us dashing out of the car to seeing yet another gorgeous expanse in the horizon.

Hills surrounding the bay.

Please check back over the next several days as we’ll continue to post breathtaking scenery photos we’re excited to share.  Soon, we’re off to catch the Hop, Skip, Jump bus to Manly where we’ll embark on a long walk and to grocery shopping for a few items we’ll need to last until after our packages arrive.

Hopefully both packages will arrive on Monday and/or Tuesday, as per the online tracking for Tom’s new laptop and our formerly missing box from the US.

This reminds us both of our boating days in Minnesota many moons ago.

We plan to “stay put” on Monday and Tuesday (or longer, if necessary) until we have those two packages in hand. We’ve made a sign for both Fed Ex and Australia Post which Bob will post by the mailbox early Monday morning to ensure the delivery personnel know to walk down the side of the house to bring the packages down to us. Our fingers are crossed.

Have a beautiful weekend! 

Photo from one year ago today, April 1, 2016:

The Fonterra Cheese Factory with a retail store across the street in Eltham, New Zealand.  For more details on this quaint town, please click here.

A visit to a fascinating Huon Valley landmark…Willie Smith’s Apple Cider House, The Apple Shed restaurant, orchard and museum…

We’d noticed Willie Smith’s Cider House and Apple Shed several times as we drove through Huonville since our arrival on January 16th.  After researching online, we were determined to visit The Apple Shed as soon as possible. 

As all of our readers are aware, we take great pleasure in sharing stories of local businesses in many parts of the globe as we continue on our year’s long worldwide journey. 

Andrew and Ian Smith, father and son and innovative owners/managers of Willie Smith Organic Apple Cider and Apple Shed, including restaurant, cider shop and museum. (Not our photo).

After 51 months of exploring in over 55 countries, we continually scour each new location for stories that may appeal to our readers. Of course, its impossible to appeal to the interests of all of our readers but, today’s story may appeal to more than we’d imagine.  Almost everyone loves apples!

The outdoor bar and dining area at the Apple Shed.
Today’s story goes well beyond the scope of a typical apple farm, shipping their apples regionally and to various parts of the world for commercial and retail processing and sales.
Willie Smith’s cider menu.
Willie Smith’s Organic Apple Cider, The Apple Shed, the restaurant and museum offers a wide range of delectable and enticing products, services and consumer delights to whet the appetite of the most enthusiastic apple cider aficionado, diner or history buff.  Willie Smith’s has it all.
Antique apple sorting machine.

Although we weren’t able to wander through the apple and cherry orchards in order to maintain the integrity and health of the organic crop, we were able to ascertain the quality of the product by visiting this special site.  (Yes, Willie Smith’s also grows cherries, a treasured commodity in Tasmania and throughout the world).

A tremendous boon and unique aspect to cider making is a result of Willie Smith’s Organic Apple Cider’s dedication and emphasis on organic farming.

With a history reaching back to 1888’s when Willie Smith and his wife Elsie, planted their first apple tree, the orchard was born.  Passionate about farming and in awe of the pristine air and water in the Huon Valley of Tasmania from there, four generations of Smith’s continued in the pursuit of creating the finest apples and apple products in the land.

Current menus in The Apple Shed where we’ll dine next month.

As an adjunct to their success, Elsie Smith, the daughter of Charles Oats, inspired Willie and Elsie to glean considerable knowledge and expertise from Charles’ innate ability to produce fine spirits.  

Many products are offered for sale in the shop including apple cider, apple and cherry based products, a wide array of condiments and teas.  The shop is perfect for purchasing gifts for all occasions.

These shared skills and sheer determination were undoubtedly a match made in heaven that has survived and thrived through the last few hundred years not only in creating a fine product but in providing and pioneering a new way of life for the community in the Huon Valley

Photo of Andrew’s great grandfather Willie Smith, attached to a pallet of apples in cardboard, appropriate for shipping.

The Apple Shed was built in 1942 with the intention of providing local farmers, growers and makers the ability to highlight their finest of products.  In creating this unique space, a piece of the passionate labor of the finest of farmers and purveyors is integrated into the Apple Shed’s offerings.

Scene in the Willie Smith’s Apple Shed Museum where we met with owner Andrew Smith for an interesting and informative discussion.

The distillery is another element of Willie Smith’s that bring visitors from all over the world.  Incorporating quality organic apples into cider and spirit making  (alcoholic beverage) is not as common as one may assume.  Few farmers are willing to spend the time, effort and expenditure required to support an organic operation. 

Antique cider making equipment.

As for the reasons the owners of Willie Smith’s decided to grow only organic apples, please see this quote below, from their website:

“We choose organic because we believe that making things the traditional way, with more care and less of the artificial bad stuff, is better for you and better for Tassie.

A study conducted by the French Agency for Food Safety concluded that organic plant products:

  • contain more dry matter and are therefore more nutrient dense
  • have higher levels of minerals
  • contain more anti-oxidants, such as phenols and salicylic acid (known to protect against cancers, heart disease and many other health problems)

Most of all, organic produce just makes us feel good!”

Antique apple hauling truck located in the museum.

Not only does the fine facility focus on the quality of its organic apples, another emphasis is on the diverse locally grown menu items offered in The Apple Shed for the consumer seeking delicious meals of locally grown products prepared with the utmost of care.

Apple varieties on display in The Apple Shed.

In addition, recently Willie Smith’s has begun the operation of their distillery their for the production of high quality organic apple brandy and spirits. 

From their website:

“Our still was commissioned in April 2016 and is located at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed. It is the first alembic copper still in Australia purpose-built for making apple brandy. We think being able to produce apple spirits from the ‘Apple Isle’ is a welcome addition to the already very exciting Tasmanian distilling scene.”

Beautiful display of the  copper distillery equipment.

As a brandy and cognac fan, most certainly Tom will try the brandy when we return on February 17th for our dinner.  Although, based on my restricted diet, I won’t be able to enjoy the cider or spirits (due to sugar content), I can fully embrace the concept of the care given to create these superior products. 

Antique apple processing machine.

Upon entering The Apple Shed yesterday around lunchtime, we were warmly greeted by Daniel a server behind the bar.  We inquired as to the availability of a manger or owner who could share details with us about the operation.

Andrew explained that William and Elsie Smith were his great grandparents as shown on this sign in the museum.  Zoom in for details.

Having seen their comprehensive and well done website before heading out, we knew we’d be in for a treat should we actually be able to meet with an owner.  We were in luck when Andrew Smith, fourth generation owner, joined us in the museum to enrich our story with some of the details we excitedly share today.

A variety of apple processing tools.
We couldn’t have been more thrilled to learn of the innovative concepts that have been implemented over the years with the passion and commitment to excellence that has been perpetuated in every element of the business.

Grab a case or bottle of apple cider to go!
The fascinating display of antique apple processing equipment warrant a visit to the Apple Shed Museum, home of Willie Smith’s cider, along with the opportunity for a fine meal and perusal of the shop.

From The Apple Shed, to its restaurant, the regional and international shipping operation, the outstanding transition to organic farming and the careful thought exercised in developing and maintaining the history in its superlative museum, nothing was spared in this facility.

Cider display where the customer can purchase a glass bottles to return for refills.  Excellent idea!

Rather than attempt to duplicate all the information presented in their exceptional website, we encourage our readers to take a peek at their website by clicking here.

An antique hand cranked apple processing machine.

No chemicals are used in the today’s organic farming of apples and cherries on Willie Smith’s farm.

Next time you’re in Tasmania make a point of visiting Willie Smith’s Organic Apple Cider complex, dine in The  Apple Shed, tour the museum and take home a bottle of what we have no doubt is the finest apple cider and spirits in the land.

The lunch crowd had cleared out enabling us to shoot this photo of the casual dining area.  We were so excited by the facility and the menu, we made a reservation to return on Friday, February 17th.  On Friday nights, the Apple Shed has live music and menu specials.  We look forward to participating in the activities!

Next time you bite into a cold crispy apple, think of Willie Smith!  Thanks for stopping by today and we look forward to “seeing you” again tomorrow! 

Cherries are also farmed at Willie Smith’s farm and both apple and cheery products are available along with many other products.

Photo from one year ago today, January 23, 2016:

It had rained for the first several days after we arrived in New Plymouth, New Zealand.  Upon the first sunny day, we stumbled upon this view. We were both mesmerized by the beauty of Mount Taranaki.  (We were located in the Taranaki region of New Zealand).  The trek up this mountain may be dangerous, which we’d heard aboard the ship, as per this link.
For more photos, please click here.