Day #276 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…OK, here goes…17 days and counting!!!…A frustrating Christmas Day…

This was our favorite photo of the day, a huge Billy Goat with quite the beard and defined facial markings.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2016 while staying in Penguin, Tasmania, Australia. For more details and photos, please click here.

Yep, we’ve started the countdown until we leave India. In 17 days, on January 12, 2021, we’ll hopefully be on our way. The only scenario that could prevent us from going to South Africa, as planned will be that President Cyril Ramphosa decides to close the borders once again due to the new strain of Covid-19.

On a drive through the countryside in Penguin, Tasmania, the ocean can be seen in the distance.

From this site, the following was posted:

“Scientists and officials have warned the country’s 56 million people that the new variant, referred to as 501.V2, carries a heavier viral load and appears to be more prevalent among the young. “It is still very early, but at this stage, the preliminary data suggest the virus that is now dominating in the second wave is spreading faster than the first wave,” Prof Salim Abdool Karim, the chairman of the government’s ministerial advisory committee (MAC), said.”

Over the next few weeks, Cyril will announce any changes necessary in regard to this update. We continue to hold our breath awaiting any news, striving to stay upbeat and hopeful. At this point, it’s been especially challenging to do so. Christmas Day was certainly a memorable day in this hotel, but not in a good way.

Cattle are curious when humans pass by.

I’d considered not mentioning what transpired yesterday in an attempt to remain upbeat and positive. But, after what transpired, and our goals of being “transparent” in our experiences, good and bad, we decided we’d share our highly disappointing Christmas Day.

Many of our readers have kindly written to us, espousing our determined attitude and resilience in bearing the brunt of this situation. We appreciate all those thoughtful comments. But, we are no different than many of you, when managing a tough situation. We “buckle up” and make the best of it. Thankfully, our loving relationship with one another and generally good demeanor, has been highly instrumental in getting us through this.

Cute countryside signs.

Often, we’ve reminded ourselves how fortunate we’ve been that we are staying safe from the virus, have comfortable surroundings, although lacking in space, and no matter what, we’ve been able to stay calm and composed. This acceptance served us well, until yesterday, Christmas Day.

The morning started out fine. Then, as the day continued, we encountered a number of guests in the corridors, talking loudly to one another, spewing spittle as they spoke, and talking on cell phones, pacing in the halls, not wearing masks. Regardless of them being on the phone or in conversation, we kindly asked them to put on a mask or return to their rooms.

Cattle on a hill.

Our comments were of no avail. We stayed back from them, by no less than five meters, 16 feet in each case, except once when I was carefully rounding a corner and three unmasked individuals ran right into me. I couldn’t help but raise my voice, “You must wear a mask in the hotel!” They totally ignored me. I bolted in the other direction.

This scenario continued throughout the day. I finally gave up and discontinued my last walk for the day. Twice, I notified the front desk, to once again hear their apologies and statements that have told every guest to wear a mask in all public areas. Apparently, the guests don’t care for their own well-being or care to follow the hotel’s government-mandated requirements,

Once back in our room, all was fine for the next few hours. Later on, as we settled in, watching the new Netflix period series, Bridgerton, a delightful bit of mindless drivel, we were conscientious of outrageous noises spewing from the corridors. People were yelling and talking loudly while outside of their rooms. Why not go into the room and make noise? Since it was daytime, and we weren’t leaving our room, we didn’t make a fuss.

Highland Breed cattle. See this link for details on this breed.

By 9:00, we settled in bed, continuing to watch another episode of the series. During this time, we were well aware that the door to the suite next to us was banging literally every minute or so. Whoever was in that room, engaged the deadbolt, leaving the door ajar.  Each time someone on the floor opened or closed a door, that partially opened door banged so loud it startled us each time. Apparently, the air pressure in the hallway causes this.

No less than 20 times in the past months, we have reported this issue to the housekeeping manager when the staff was cleaning the large suite, going in and out, not wanting to use their keys to enter each time. All they had to do was push the door open with the deadbolt engaged with the door ajar but not locked. Each time we complained, within a half-hour, someone came and locked the door properly.

At times, this happened at night when we were trying to sleep. On occasions, guests were leaving the door in this state when they snuck into the stairwell to smoke (not allowed) or go back and forth between rooms where their friends or family members were located. This happened several times after 1:00 or 2:00 am, and as late as 4:30 am, at which point, we had to call the front desk, again complaining.

This annoyed male approached the fence when we stopped for photos.

During the next few hours, people were going in and out of that room, slamming the door each time and often leaving the deadbolt engaged for the big jolt in our room. We must have fallen asleep five or six times to be startled awake after we’d reported this.

As it turned out, the staff was having a party in that suite next door, unbeknownst to management, since we were told (after calling again) that no guests had booked that room. After reporting it a short time later, the door banging finally stopped and the noise died down, but not entirely.

But, the worst of it was yet to come when at 11:30 pm, during one of those times we were attempting to doze off, our doorbell rang. The only time a guest should be awakened during the night in a hotel would be in the event of a fire or other type such an emergency. Tom bolted out of bed, opened the door with the chain engaged, to be handed a letter stating the restaurant could only service 50% occupancy at any given time due to Covid-19. Tom lost it.

Although this one mooed at us, she/he didn’t bother to get up.

I won’t write what he said. But the question remains in our minds today, why didn’t he place the letter under the door (it fits) or on the little table outside of our room?

Finally, at around 1:00 am, when I was falling asleep, I heard the dreadful sound of a phone vibrating in the room next door, loudly and repeatedly every 20 minutes throughout the night. The head of the beds in our room and the room next door abut one another and once again, whoever was in that room, didn’t turn off their “notifications.”  They’d have to be passed out not to hear the noise!

This morning, my FitBit indicated I’d slept one hour and 56 minutes. I’m exhausted. This morning, after speaking to my son Greg’s family in Minnesota, I decided to see how I’d do walking the corridors in my current state. No way! I did 1.5 miles, 2.4 km, and gave up, dragging too much to continue through the day.

The countryside in Tasmania certainly reminded us of New Zealand, where we stayed for three months in 2016.

However, during the 1.5 miles, I saw no less than six guests without masks, with as many wearing masks, and, heard a woman “coughing up a lung.” No way was it safe to walk the corridors today, I gave up.

Tom is watching football on his laptop using his earbuds. I’ll spend the remainder of the day working on the corrections on our site with Nat Geo Wild on the TV in the background. It’s comforting to see wildlife in Africa and other parts of the world, so hopeful that soon we’ll be face to face. So hopeful, in 17 days.

Thanks for listening to my rant.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 26, 2019:

Me, Tom, and Kathy during the cocktail hour before dinner on Christmas Day in 2018, posted last year on this date. For more, please click here.

Day #259 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Tom’s Irish Cream recipe…Do we miss the holidays?…

Tom and I and Lisa and Barry, our new friends. They visited us in Ireland in 2019 and we stay close in touch.

Today’s photos are from a South American cruise in 2017 where we met friends Lisa and Barry as shown in the above photo. Also included today is Tom’s Irish Cream Recipe which we’d posted on this date, with the holidays on the horizon. For more, please click here.

As the holiday season approaches, we thought it would make sense to post Tom’s Irish Cream recipe today rather than wait until closer to Christmas, allowing plenty of time for those who may consider giving this as a gift for co-workers, family members, and friends.

Here are our comments and the recipe from that 2017 post, although we’d posted this recipe on posts from other years.

“Each year at Christmas time, we receive many requests for Tom’s Irish Cream recipe which is comparable to Bailey’s Irish Cream, without all the chemicals and artificial ingredients used in commercial production. 

For those who may want to give bottles of this delicious concoction, glass bottles of this holiday beverage make perfect gifts, generally costing around US $12, INR 921, per bottle. 

Bottles with corks can be purchased at any winemaking store or at such home good stores at TJ Maxx where they usually carry very decorative glass bottles.  Tom used to make about 150 bottles each year that we gave to friends and family, including a non-alcoholic version.

Boat in the harbor in Arica, Chile.

Some years we saved wine bottles as we used them, washing them in the dishwasher and storing them in bottle boxes from any liquor store.  This avoided the cost of the bottles.  In those cases, we only had to buy the corks.

Now that some wineries use screw-top caps, avid wine drinkers of those varieties can save those bottles and caps for future use as long as they’re sterilized in the dishwasher or hot water before filling them with the mix.

Also, using our home printer’s label making feature we made labels to ensure all recipients were made aware that the product needs to be refrigerated and keeps only 30 days.

The stick-on label would read something like this often with a decorative photo of your choice, which could be a photo of you and/or your family.

Image result for holly jpg
 Lyman’s Irish Cream
From our home to yours…
Have a happy holiday season!
Please keep this product
refrigerated and store for
no more than 30 days.

Tom Lyman’s Irish Cream (Comparable to Bailey’s Irish Cream)1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 pint half & half or real whipping cream

3 pasteurized eggs (important for safety)

1/8 teaspoon coconut extract

1 tablespoon chocolate syrup

1 cup Irish Whiskey or other bourbon or whiskey

Blend all ingredients in a blender for 2 minutes, then add 1 cup whiskey, measuring into the empty can of sweetened condensed milk in order to remove every last drop of the creamy sweetened condensed milk.

Blend for another 30 seconds. Pour into a glass bottle using a funnel, with a tight-fitting cork.

Keeps refrigerated for 30 days.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions regarding the preparation of this recipe.  We’re happy to assist! Enjoy!

After many years of making these bottles, in 2011, our last Christmas in Minnesota, we stopped making them.  The cost for such large and continuing-to-grow numbers of recipients became prohibitive.

Although neither of us drank it, we always kept several bottles to share with guests visiting during the holiday season. It was always a welcomed addition to a cup of fresh French pressed coffee.”

Each year we made dozens of bottles to distribute to family and friends in the weeks before Christmas. Tom handled the blender and filled the bottles while I made the labels, rinsed and dried the exterior of the bottles and when dry, placed the labels. Fortunately, we had an extra refrigerator in our basement where we kept them fresh as we distributed them.

It was one of many traditions we had over the holidays, many with family members and friends. Do we miss all of that? It would be impossible not to miss the memorable events with family and friends. But, when we decided to travel the world in 2012, we left that all behind and embraced our new life.

Dinner for one of our tablemates on the cruise, who ordered the roasted duck.

Again, comparable to the Christmas and New Year’s we spent in a hotel in Buenos Aires in 2018, awaiting our upcoming cruise to Antarctica, Tom’s birthday on December 23, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day will be spent in this hotel room, uneventful, without ceremony, while we watch the days tick down to departing India on January 12, 2021.

That will be in 37 days.

Be safe, be healthy, and begin enjoying the holiday season (for those who celebrate), although it will be different this year, for all of us worldwide.

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

Photo from 2016. Penguin statues were everywhere in the adorable town of Penguin, Tasmania. For more about the year-ago post, please click here..

Final expenses for six weeks in the Huon Valley…Final favorite photos…This morning we’re on our way to Sydney for a cruise…

This is one of our favorite photos in Tasmania, taken through the glass of the living room window as the sun began to set. 

By the time you see this post, we’ll be on our way to Sydney, flying from Hobart International Airport.  Upon arrival and after a 25 minute cab ride to the pier, we’ll immediately board the ship, Celebrity Solstice, a ship on which we’ve sailed on two prior occasions over these past years of world travel.

Boats in the river channel on a cloudy day.

We’ve loved this particular ship on the past sailings, especially the Cafe Al Bacio, where we’d sit each morning while I prepared the day’s photos and post while we sipped on the most delicious coffee we’d had on a ship.

Church located outside of Geeveston, Tasmania.

Now, that I’ve given up caffeine, coffee and tea (due to the acidity), for the time being, its going to be tough to resist but I have no choice.  Instead, I’ll focus on having fabulous conversations with guests while they walk by as we lounge in the cafe.

After a big rain helicopter blades dry the cherrry orchard across the road.

We plan to get off the ship at a number of ports of call in countries we’ve yet to visit.  We’ll be staying aboard the ship when we arrive in two different ports in Fiji.  Right now I’m associating Fiji which we enjoyed at the time with having contracted this awful digestive issue while there for four months on two different islands.

A calf nursing an almost same-sized mom.

Yesterday, by noon, we were almost completely packed less the items we were wearing, with fresh clothing set out for today’s travel day.  We weighed our bags and each of the three bags weighed slightly less than the 23 kg (about 50 pounds), the maximum allowance for the two free checked bags with Virgin Australia.  The charge for the third checked bag is AU $70, US $54.  That’s fine with us!

Also, we were able to eliminate one of our carry on bags, the duffel bag which we’ve hauled with us since the onset of our travels.  It been loaded with jeans, shorts and cargo type pants too heavy to place in our checked bags. 

Calla lily in the garden.

On the last cruise we purchased a new carry on wheeling bag easier to manage than the duffel bag which had impossible wheels to manage. Instead, Tom ended up carrying it by the strap.  My new black carry on bag has the capacity to fit our “pill bag” (includes prescriptions, emergency medical supplies, Epipens and a few over-the-counter products) plus all the jeans and pants. 

Decorative item they’d puchased in Africa shown at the entrance to Anne and Rob’s garden.

I’d always carried the pill bag while Tom insisted our carry the heavier Costco bag, the duffel bag and the computer bag.  Now, we’re down to two carry on bags, one each, since I don’t own or carry a handbag. This will make a huge difference for us making our way through airports.  No longer do we need or use the metal cart we carried in the beginning.   

Huon River from the front lawn.

We were able to fit the Costco bag into one of the checked bag along with the cloth Africa bag and one small insulated bag, all of which we use in every country for grocery shopping.  They add less than one half kg (1.1 lbs) to the checked bags. In all, we have five pieces; three checked and two carry on.  This is the lightest we’ve been since day one.

As mentioned, below is our chart of total expenses for the six weeks we spent in the Huon Valley of Tasmania.  To see the final expenses for Penguin, Australia, please click here.




































































Expense US Dollar Australian
Dollar
Vacation Rental  $                  3,490.99  $                        4,550.30
Airfare   $                     241.68  $                            315.02
Taxi   $                                   
Rental Car/Fuel  $                  1,979.2  $                        2,579.86
Wifi   $                        48.00  $                              62.57
Groceries  $                  1,174.96  $                        1,531.49
Dining Ou  $                                 $                                     
Cleaning  $                     191.50  $                            250.00
Medical & Pharmacy  $                     709.51  $                            924.80
Total  $                  7,835.91  $                      10,214.04
Average
Monthly Cost
 $                  5,554.21  $                        6,964.12
Avg Daily
Cost – 44 days
 $                     185.14  $                            232.14


Wood carvings with historic themes are found throughout Tasmania.

These costs fall into the mid range for our vacation/holiday home living comparing them to all of our past expenditures.  We stayed within our budget of AU $7,807, US $6,000 per month and thus are pleased with the result.  Of course, adding cruises to holiday home living has quite an impact on annual total costs.

Next time you “hear” from us, we’ll be posting from the ship at the usual time other daily posts are uploaded.  See you soon!

Be safe.  Be happy!

______________________________________


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

It was one year ago today that we lost our dear friend Richard, who made our four month stay in Kauai an absolutely glorious social stay on the gorgeous island.  We’ll always miss him and his dear wife Elaine.  Please click here for details.

Tomorrow we off!…Have I recovered yet?…Favorite Huon Valley photos…

 
Could it be more beautiful in Tasmania?

Taking my time to pack, suddenly its time to wrap it up.  Tomorrow morning, we’ll leave the house for the airport at 7:30 am for a 10:10 am flight.  There’s road construction on the highway to Hobart that we heard will make the otherwise 45 minute ride take as long as 90 minutes.

With Tom’s usual worrying of arriving on time, most likely we’ll be out the door even earlier.  I’d better make sure all the odds and ends are packed today with only the bags to zip at the last minute before heading out the door.

Farmland, mountains and forest in the Huon Valley.

We have great leftovers for today’s main meal.  Since I’ve had a terrible time with digestion with this current condition we’ve been eating at 1:00 pm allowing plenty of time to digest the meal long before bedtime.

What a view!

The past few days I’ve been splitting the meal into two portions and having the second half when I feel I need to eat again.  This way, I have a perspective of how eating two half portion meals will leave me feeling an hour later.  So far, so good, although I seem to be hungrier than ever before.

Yesterday was the last day of the seven day course of the huge doses of two antibiotics with a PPI (proton pump inhibitor).  The symptoms remain although I’ve seen about a 40% improvement. 

Alpaca enjoying the sunshine with chubby cheeks filled with grass.

We talked it over deciding another trip to the doctor before taking the last of the meds last night would be necessary.  Based on the literature on this three combo drug, many patients with this particular bacterial infection often require a 14 days of dosing.

Old farm truck at the Geeveston car show.

Sure, I’m concerned over “gut bacteria” after taking anitbiotics for this extended period.  In any other case, I’d tough it out without them.  But, this condition can contribute to developing bleeding ulcers and stomach cancer leaving us to carefully weigh the risks. 

I opted for the second round of meds for this reason, hoping to feel 100% better by the end of the cruise.  I’m eating unsweetened yogurt and taking high quality refrigerated probiotics.  Hopefully, they’ll have the proper yogurt on the ship but its highly unlikely.  Most people only consume sweetened yogurt with fruit added.

The Huon River’s bright blue waters.

We headed to Geeveston, where I met with the doctor who agreed to prescribe another seven day pack.  I can’t imagine having this condition on a ship and hardly being able to eat much at any given meal.  Even with my restricted way of eating, I’ve enjoyed the food on cruises when the chefs have been great at being creative.

Gorgeous white sand beaches.

But, now only  able to consume about a cup of food at a time to avoid distress shortly after the meal and for several hours thereafter, we’ve decided we may actually attend meals three times per day. 

I’ll have the protein smoothie for breakfast.  I purchased small ziplock bags filling 12 bags (for 12 night cruise) with all of the powders required to make the drink.  Also, I found a special mug with a spiral wisk like gadget to place inside the mug when shaking it up. Wow!  This works!  No blender required!  No lumps!

Tom’s first ocean fishing experience.

We’ll dine in the dining room each evening and switch between the buffet and main dining room for lunch.  I’ll have very small portions during each meal.  The buffets usually have a gluten free section but many of the items contain sugar and gluten free grains and high carb items that I don’t consume.  There’s always a cook at the gluten free table making it easy to determine the ingredients in the offered dishes.

Adding my restrictive way of eating to yet another list of foods to avoid with the H Pylori, my meals are limited;  no beef, no pork, no cruciferous or hard to digest vegetables and no raw veg.  Most meals I’ll have small portion of plain chicken or salmon with a small plate of cooked veggies. 

Ocean view in Southport, Tasmania.

I revised my printed food list for the head chef which we’ll deliver as soon as we board the ship to ensure my first meal will be prepared appropriately. Anne, our property owner, printed off several copies placing them in a plastic sleeve. 

Thank you,  Anne and Rob for all you’ve done to make our stay at the Anchorage Apartment so pleasant and easy.  Its been a pleasure staying in your beautiful property and meeting the two of you and your two sweet dogs.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with a short post with the final expenses for the six weeks in the Huon Valley.  Please check back then!

_________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, February 28, 2016:

Lillies  blooming in the lily pad in the huge stone pot in the yard of the second home in Fiji.  It seems so long ago we were there. For more photos, please click here.

Review on Huon Valley holiday home with many photos…Two days and counting.

View of a small portion of the Huon River from the lawn of the rental in Castle Forbes Bay.

None of today’s photos of the property we rented for six weeks in the Huon Valley are ours.  We “borrowed” them from Anne and Rob’s listing on AirBnB, found here.  We’d have taken photos but with packing in full force, the house is somewhat cluttered.
In 48 hours we’ll have arrived at the Hobart International Airport for the less than two hour flight at 10:10 am to Sydney.  Shortly after 12:00 pm we’ll arrive in Sydney and take a taxi to head to the Overseas Passenger Terminal in the Sydney Harbour. Once again  we’ll embark on another cruise in the South Pacific.
 

View of the property from the river.

So far, including Wednesday’s cruise, we’ll have sailed on six cruises in the South Pacific in this past almost two years.  With one more cruise remaining at the end of April, in 54 days we’ll sail from Sydney to Seattle as we make our way back to the US. 

We’ll have 40 days between both cruises during which we’ll stay in a property in Manly, very similar to this house in the Huon Valley where one area is occupied by the owner and another full apartment with all facilities constitutes the rental portion.

I’ve sat on the sofa while Tom lounges in this red chair, both very comfortable.  See dining table and chairs in the background

Oddly, when we lived in Trinity Beach, Australia beginning on June 11, 2015, we stayed in yet another similar property whereby we lived on the fully equipped main floor while the owners occupied the second level.

Overall, we prefer to live in a single family home for the added privacy but with costs so high for rents in Australia, these types of situations have been our only sensible option.

That’s not to say that any of the owners intrude upon our privacy in any manner. They have not.  They’ve been kind, helpful and available when needed.  Anne and Rob, our landlords for this property have been exceptional, making many efforts to ensure we had a pleasant stay and undoubtedly, we have.

Plenty of amenities and gadgets are available in this kitchen, making cooking a breeze.  When I needed an item, Anne quickly provided it, such as a big mixing bowl, baking pans, hand blender.

The property is in perfect condition with no obvious repairs, painting or replacement needed.  Everything works.  The furniture in the living room has been comfortable especially when we’ve spent more time staying in due to my recent illness during these past six weeks than we may have spent in other areas. 

Previously in Penguin, Tasmania when I wasn’t as ill, we were often out and about, walking, exploring and seeing the local sites and points of interest.  Here in the Huon Valley, we’ve only done as much exploring as our 100’s of photos indicate, not every day but at least once or twice a week.

The view when sitting on the sofa in the living room which includes lots of games, books, and decor items. 

The house is well equipped with suitable dishes, flatware, pots and pans, kitchen utencils and gadgets.  Even the cupboards contained a variety of teas, spices, oils and other products, similar to those in Penguin.

The bed is comfortable along with the bedding.  A poor quality or flimsy sheet pillows and blankets situation can totally ruin an otherwise comfortable bed.  But, here, the bedding was of the utmost quality, the pillows comfortable, the covers suitable for a variety of weather conditions.

We’ve kept our luggage in the second bedroom which is located on a lower level.

Anne and Rob invitied Tom for his first fishing-on-the-ocean experience which he thoroughly enjoyed leaving us with enough fish filets for a few meals. We coated the filets in beaten eggs and coconut flour pan frying them in coconut oil, our favorite way to eat fish.

The availability of fresh produce plucked from the abundant garden was a huge perk we’d never expected.  I was particularly thrilled when I was able to make salads using celery, cabbage and greens from the garden.  Tom, who’s favorite vegetable is green beans, enjoyed them with many meals.

Seating on the veranda.

The Wi-Fi here, although tricky over te first few days of our arrival, ending up working well for us.  With the 400 gig allotment each 30 days, at night we were easily able to stream HBO’s Game of Thrones entire six seasons.  On only a few rare occasions did we have to await the return of the signal when it slipped away momentarily.

Although we watch little TV, we’ve been able to check out local and some world news from time to time.  During the day when we’re in, we may have news on in the background but neither of us pays much attention. 

It has been delightful to have fluffy robes to use while here as shown in the second en suite bathroom.  Both bathroom have heated towel racks but we’ve never used them.

Right now, snippets from the Academy Awards Red Carpet event is on.  The  awards show will be broadcast live from 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm.  Since we’ve seen none of the movies, we have little interest in the awards show itself.

The grounds and the pool are beautifully maintained by Anne and Rob, who are also retired, spending considerable time working and maintaining the property. The views of the Huon River is breathtaking as shown in a few of today’s photos and many photos over the past weeks.

This is the master bedroom which now has a sofa by the windows. 

We’d highly recommend this property to any travelers.  For information, click here and they’ll respond quickly.  Also, feel free to contact us with any specific questions that perhaps only a renter would experience. 

Thanks to Anne and Rob for an extraordinary stay at your lovely property.   We’ve already written positive statements in your “guest book” and over the next few days, post reviews online.

The master bath has worked well for us.

My single suitcase is already packed with the exception of the items I’ve been wearing the past few days.  Tomorrow, Tom will pack his clothing while I pack the third bag with miscellanous items we’ll collect from around the house.

Tomorrow, I’ll briefly report on my condition after today’s final contact with Dr. Angela Retchford in Geeveston.  On departure day in two days, we’ll include the total expenses for the six weeks we spent in the Huon Valley.

Have a pleasant day!

_________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2016:
Tom was excited to see this Minnesota State Trooper vehicle when we toured AmeriCarna in New Zealand last year on this date.  How ironic!  For more photos from the car show, please click here.

Which did we prefer in Tasmania, Penguin or Huon Valley?…Three days and counting…

Young woman riding a horse in the country in the Huon Valley.

As far as scenic beauty is concerned both Penguin and the Huon Valley are stunningly beautiful.  Although a common theme of exquisite countryside is prevalent in both areas, the towns and local communities vary greatly.

If a travelers asked us which of the two would be most appealing for a holiday/vacation of one or two weeks, their personal tastes and preferred activities and expectations would be of first consideration.

Beyond that, there’s an obvious difference of scenery; Penguin has breathtaking ocean views and nearby beaches; in the Huon Valley one only need drive about 40 minutes to arrive in beach towns with some of the whitest sand we’ve seen anywhere. 

Dirt road we traveled in the countryside.

Penguin has the opportunity for sea fishing and boating while in the Huon Valley fishing may be experienced on both the Huon River and out to sea as Tom experienced a week ago.  It was his first time fishing on the ocean.

In regard to day to day easy activities such as walking, shopping, and perusing local business on a boulevard, Penguin has a lot more to offer.  The centre of Penguin is enchanting with its quaint shops, cafes and beach town feel. 

However, there are a number of charming towns within a half hour drive from here in Castle Forbes Bay, such as Huonville, Franklin and Geeveston, all of which we’ve often visited for shopping, events and photo taking. 

There are many horses in Tasmania.

Huonville is the largest of the three towns where we’ve shopped during these past six weeks although, there are some options for shopping in Franklin and Geeveston.

If a tourist is interested in purchasing souvenirs in the area, the best spot would be at the Visitor’s Centre as we described in this post on February 5th when we stopped to check it out.  We weren’t disappointed with their wide array of interesting items and of course, their Honey Pot which was over-the-top. This is a must see spot when in the area.

In the Huon Valley, based on where we’re living in Castle Forbes Bay, its not as easy as heading out for a walk when our house is located close to main Highway A6.  Walking on the winding narrow road is risky with many blind spots.

This part of Tasmania is surrounded by hills and mountains with a massive river at its core, thus the Huon River and the Huon Valley.

There are a number of out of the way country roads and paths one may choose to walk but since this is a “valley” most of the walking  requires up and down steep hills which may not be suitable for all travelers.

We won’t get into all the various tourist attractions in either area.   Its easy to check out TripAdvisor for information on activities in Huonville and surrounding areas here.  For options for Penguin, please click here.

Had we arrived a month or two earlier, the hilly countryside would have been a lush velvety green.

There are many other tourist websites with endless options for exploring and experiencing scenery and indoor and outdoor activities in either of these two lovely areas.

As for friendliness, they both are some of the most friendly areas we’ve visited in our travels, comparable to Kauai, Hawaii and Marloth Park, South Africa, our previously two favorite “friendly people” places.

Clear blue sky days are at a premium in the Huon Valley during the summer months making locals are giddy with enthusiasm on warm sunny days.

Tomorrow, we’ll share details of this lovely property with photos, links and the comfortable experience we’ve had staying in this well equipped and maintained property.

Have a lovely day!

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Photo from one year ago today, February 26, 2016:


The pair of alpacas were placed in a smaller paddock for the purpose of mating.  Notice the others looking on with considerable curiosity. For more about photos and a video of mating alpacas, please click here.

Piecing it all together…Four days and counting…

Boat anchored on the Huon River with hazy mountain backdrop.

We’ve begun to think about packing, particularly me.  Yesterday, for the first time in many moons, I ironed two of my shirts and one of Tom’s.  Why did we ever buy anything requiring ironing? At the time of purchase, we thought they were “wash and wear” based on the washing instructions.

I’m getting low on clothing with many items having worn out so I’ve resorted to ironing my two items to add to my limited wardrobe for the upcoming cruise in four days.


Vineyard in Tasmania.

Tom is down to six shirts, plus the one white dress shirt I ironed yesterday,  suitable to wear to dinner in the ship’s main dining room.  During the day he wears tee shirts.  His wardrobe is also shrinking along with mine.

In three months we’ll be back in the US with a plan to purchase a few new clothing items to replace those we’re ready to toss. There are no clothing stores in Huonville other than two second hand shops and it makes no sense to replace our old clothing with someone else’s old clothing.

Over this past six weeks, I haven’t felt well enough to go shopping in Hobart which has a few malls and many shops.  For me its been tricky buying clothing in Australia when sizing is entirely different, pants are too short and styles suitable for travel aren’t necessarily available. 


Typical country road.

We prefer solid colors since they may be worn with any of our pants, dressy or casual.  In most of the stores here, shirts are more colorfully patterned or flowery which has never been quite my style. Nor does Tom care to wear brightly colored or patterned shirts.

I’ve begun packing a little earlier than usual with this illness and during the heavy antibiotic dosing period which has made me feel a bit lethargic.  A little packing each day seems to make more sense right now.


Haze and humidity in the hills of the Huon Valley.

I’ve had some improvement (day four of seven on the medication) but I’m definitely not 100%.  Much to our enthusiasm, yesterday I was able to eat a normal sized portion of our entree and a small salad which I hadn’t been able to do since early December.  So maybe it is improving.

Tom never packs until the day before we depart when its become necessary to weigh our luggage to ensure we don’t exceed the 23 kg (51lbs) the airlines allows on the first checked bag (each) with a premium paid for our third bag containing necessary supplies. 

We’re flying to Sydney on Virgin Australia which only charges AU $35, US $26.85 for the third bag, an amount we’re thrilled to pay as opposed to considerably more on other airlines.


Wild vegetation growing along the river bank.

Tonight, we’ll watch the final episode of season 6, Game of Thrones, having loved every single episode.  Its been a nice respite from thinking about my condition when each evening we’ve watched a few episodes.  Now, we can cancel our month-to-month HBO subscription (ending on the 26th) and will re-join to watch season 7 once we get to Costa Rica next August.

While in the US, with six weeks spent in Minnesota and three weeks in Henderson, Nevada, we won’t have time or interest in watching any shows or movies, other than perhaps a movie or two with the grandchildren in MN.


Single lane bridge in the countryside.

Its hard to believe we’ll arrive in the US mainland on May 15th, less than three months from now.  Two days later on May 17th we’ll board the Alaskan cruise which ends on May 26th in Seattle.  From there we’ll fly to Minneapolis.  We’ll be arriving in MN on Friday evening of Memorial weekend, a busy travel period.

Once I upload this post, Tom will do the proof reading while I get ready to go out.  This will be the first time we’ve been out since Monday, very unusual for us.  We’re heading to Huonville for a few grocery items and a new batch of probiotics to avoid running out on the cruise. 

Pasture on a sunny day.

But for now, we’re anticipating the  less than two hour flight from Hobart to Syndey in a mere four days.  My prepping and packing will continue at a snail’s pace over the next few days which this time, I don’t mind a bit.

Have a lovely weekend, wherever you may be!

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Photo from one year ago today, February 25, 2016:

This “piece of art” in New Plymouth is playfully typical of Kiwi’s great sense of humor.  For more interesting New Plymouth, New Zealand photos, please click here.

Interesting and appreciated comment from a reader…Worries of risks when traveling…

Hillside scenery.

Over these past several years we’ve received many wonderful comments on a variety of our past posts.  Some readers may read our posts out of chronological order or start from the beginning on March 15, 2012 when we first began to write about our lives of world travel.

Now, 1674 daily posts later, we’re often amazed by how readers from all over the world continue to read our old posts, often commenting on any given post or in sending us a thoughtful email.

Many of our readers write into the easy-to-use “comments” section at the bottom of each post, and may if chosen may stay anonymous.  However, we find many readers don’t hesitate to leave a first name (and occasionally their full name) when they post a comment.

If you’ve never commented, please feel free to do so.  We always reply within 24 hours (at the latest) and your comment remains on that post for all of our readers to see for years to come.

Caravans parking in Franklin for Australia Day festivities which we attended last month.

For many, with more personal comments in mind, they prefer to email us at the links provided on our home page, on the right, above the photo of us in Petra,  Jordan.  Clicking either of these links takes you directly to the email app on your device and you can write as you would in writing any email message. We won’t post your email message without your specific approval.

Most often your email will reach us promptly providing we have a good Internet connection.  We check our email throughout each day but a response may be delayed if it arrives while we’re sleeping.

Before posting each day, I take a peek at my email but seldom respond until after I’ve completed the day’s post.  I awake on a mission to get the “ball rolling” as soon as I’m showered and dressed for the day.

During these past almost three months since our arrival in Penguin, Tasmania on December 3, 2016, I’ve maintained my usual posting schedule regardless of how I may have been feeling during this period. 

Houses scattered throughout the countryside in the Huon Valley.

Of course, as mentioned in a post a few days ago, the exception to our posting and/or replying to comments and email may occur on specific travel days, especially when we don’t have access to Wi-Fi while awaiting a particular means of transportation.

Yesterday, we received this lovely comment from one of our readers who’s apparently begun reading our posts from the beginning. 

Laura wrote:

“Ah Jess….I know I am reading them years after the fact, but your posts and photos are breath-taking!! I love them! I’ve been trying for years to convince Ernie to agree to an African safari – he’s too concerned with our safety to try it, but I’m still working on him!!”
 

Upon reading this short comment at the end of this post, I could hardly wait to write back to Laura to thank her for her kindness in complimenting our posts and photos. 
 
But, the comment Laura expressed over her husband’s hesitation to go on an African safari reminded us of five years ago when Tom was equally concerned over the safety of a safari and even moreso, living in Africa for almost nine months.
 
Our family was even more worried that we were getting in over our heads when they’d read and heard of countless stories about horrific events occuring in many parts of Africa, some as a result of animal encounters and other incidents. But, they were more concerned as to our vulnerability of becoming victims of crime.

A neighborhood in the Huon Valley.


We’ve never taken these facts lightly but, as has been the case for most travelers there are always precautions and concerns over traveling beyond the comfort zone of their home environment. 

Nowadays, there is no place in the world that is entirely safe;  from the elements, terrorism, crime, accidents, illness and wildlife.  Back then, before we began traveling we’d discussed these concerns in depth. 

 
Mainly, I was trying to assure Tom that although the risks were higher in some parts of the world, such as Africa and the Middle East, we’d exercise the utmost of caution. For example, in Kenya, where carjackings are common, we used a local driver to take us wherever we desired thus reducing the risks.

Kayaker on Huon River near a moored sailboat.


As we look back at our old posts, we can’t help but experience the most profound of emotions over the fact that we took those risks to see parts of the world previously only in our dreams.
 
When a year from now when we’ll return to South Africa (with more other African countries on the horizon during our extended stay), our hearts thump with enthusiasm.
 
This will be the first time we’ve returned to a country for an extended stay hiatus in order to explore Southeast Asia.  As it turned out, we really enjoyed the second two months in Bali at the fabulous villa on the ocean.

Franks, a small cider restaurant and shop.


We had returned to Bali due to its close proximity and easy flights to Sydney, Australia from where we’d booked several cruises. Our return to Africa next February is for an entirely different reason…we wanted to return while we’re still able, young enough and hopefully healthy enough to embrace the many exciting opportunities awaiting us. 

 
So, today, I thank Laura for writing and inspiring today’s post which included to our own past concerns which ultimately ending with the gift of great memories that we gleaned from the extraordinary experiences.


Have a memorable day and be safe.

_________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, February 24, 2016:

Tom standing outside the shopping mall in New Plymouth, New Zealand last year.  For more photos, please click here.

Six days and counting…Posting during departure periods…Delicious low carb smoothie recipe…

Throughout Tasmania and Australian states, there are many wood carvings
in honor of Australians throughout history.

Today, its Thursday in this part of the world.  Early next Wednesday morning, we’ll depart for the airport in Hobart, an approximate 45 minute drive depending on the morning traffic.

This is one of two plaques posted on the above memorial wood carving.

We’ll be flying domestically from Hobart to Sydney which requires less advance arrival time at the airport than for international flights.  Tom always feels more comfortable leaving early to ensure we arrive with plenty of time to spare.

Recognition for the soldier of the Boer War.

As far as I’m concerned an arrival one hour prior to the flight is plenty of time to check our bags, get our boarding passes and head to the appropriate gate.  Invariably, we end up sitting in chairs for two hours prior to the flight.

Over the past almost 26 years, our goal is to compromise when we disagree. If one of us compromises to put the other at ease, the other doesn’t argue or complain.  Ultimately, ensuring each of us is comfortable is of our utmost concern.

In the town of Franklin we walked along the riverbank enjoying the beautiful scenery.

We can sit at the airport as easily as at our home-of-the-moment while awaiting the upcoming flight.  Many airports offer free Wi-Fi and relatively comfortable seating in a variety of cafe’s where we can order a bottled water and entertain ourselves online while waiting.

At times, when departing on an early morning flight, I’ll post a short message that the day’s post my be a little late which I’ll upload from the airport while we wait.  On some occasions, I’ll prepare and upload the day’s post once we get settled upon boarding a cruise.

There are houses across a narrow road along the Huon River in Franklin, many of which have lovely flower gardens.

At other times, I’ll prepare the post the prior day, along with that day’s post as well. Preparing two posts in one day is time consuming when its completed in addition to wrapping up the packing.  Also, we always include our total expenses separately for each location.  These figures must be prepared well in advance since this process is also time consuming.

I continue to strive to take care of myself as I make my way through the one week antibiotic regime prescribed by the local doctor. Although the drug’s side effects are preventing me from feeling up to going out or doing anything of significance, I’m making every effort to get well.

When we left the house, the sun was shining but by the time we reached Franklin, it was cloudy again.

Its a combination of rest with some mobility, avoiding spending time lying down or in bed and eating healthfully while making an attempt each day to consume sufficient nutrients.  I’ve continued to prepare most of our meals during this period of time, more with the intent of moving about, although Tom happily helps when I ask. 

During this illness I’ve been using a free app to calculate the day’s nutritional components.  Here’s the link to the free app. (Make sure to download the free edition which is easy to determine).

I’ve been feeling very hungry lately eating such small amounts.  But, over these past months I’ve only been able to eat small amounts in any six hour period.  Today, the beginning of day three on meds, I’ll try adding a small salad to my midday meal. 

Flowers in a tree with the cloud sky backdrop.

We’ve been eating our main meal around 1 pm, giving me ample time to eventually digest the meal.  I concocted a healthy and delicious low carb smoothie that’s easily digestible for both mornings and evenings, preventing me from having to eat again to deal with the consequence.

If any of our readers have digestive problems, a smoothie may be a good adjunct to light meals while recovering.  Here’s my smoothie recipe that seems to abate my hunger for a few hours:

Jess’s Low Carb Digestive Smoothie

1 ½  cups water or  unsweetened coconut milk or water
2 scoops unsweetened vanilla low carb protein powder (or appropriate servings size based listed serving size)
½ cup unsweetened, unflavored organic Greek yogurt
1 T. organic unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T. organic ground flax seed (Don’t use if diarrhea is an issue.  This natural product may be helpful for constipation and is non-habit forming)
½ tsp. powdered unsweetened Vitamin C with sodium ascorbic (See here for benefits of Vitamin C)
½ tsp. organic powdered cinnamon
Low carb sweetener to taste (a must in some form that works for you)

Blend all of these ingredients into a blender until lump free.  Pour over a large glass of ice and serve. This makes more than one serving but it tastes so good, I usually add the balance to my mug.  If you have a powerful blender, add ice to the blender after thoroughly blending ingredients.  Urgent: Please check with your doctor should any of these ingredients be an issue for you.

Many varieties of roses are found in Tasmania with suitable climate.
With six days remaining until we depart, I continue with optimism and enthusiasm for what is yet to come over these next months.

Happy day!
                       _________________________________________

 

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

The unique architecturally interesting Te Kewa Kewa Bridge in New Plymouth, New Zealand was quite a sight to see.  For more photos, please click here.

We figured out how I became ill…See our many photos below in the second half of this post…

 
Views across the Huon River.

There’s no doubt we’re running low on photos.  Having been increasing ill over these three months, I wasn’t feeling well enough to go sightseeing once we arrived in the Huon Valley, five weeks ago.  I’ve barely been well enough to do much of anything. 

Tom’s makes the bed, does the laundry, washes the dishes and helps make dinner.  The cleaner comes once a week leaving us with not much more than tidying up after ourselves. 

I had mentioned that I wouldn’t continue to discuss this health issue.  This was prior to having a diagnosis anticipating that our readers would tire of my whinging.  But, now that I have the diagnosis of Helicobactor Pylori (the bacteria that causes ulcers and gastritis, we both felt it was important to share this information for other travelers. 

These conditions may become prevalent for travelers to certain countries and after eating certain foods.  After all, to the best of my knowledge, I may only have exacerbated this condition while living in Bali for four months. 

These comments are by no means intended to criticize or berate the two lovely cooks, the property or the digligence of the owners or managers.  They were very conscientious to ensure our visit was safe and sanitary. 

 
Rolling hills in the Huon Valley which apprently were bright green in the spring, before we arrived.

However, certain climates with ultra high humidity and rampant insects and ants may be a breeding ground for illness.  Also, one never knows the handling conditions when purchasing produce, fish, meat, chicken and eggs from vendors in farmer’s markets which we’ve done regularly.

We often hear of infectious disease as a result of bagged lettuce and other produce purchased in the US and other highly developed countries in traditional chain supermarkets where one may easily assume everything is safe to consume, only to discover it is not, in some circumstances. 

When looking back and discussing where we’ve been these past few years and when in fact this illness may have started we reviewed many of our past posts.  Most of us carry the H. Pylori bacteria which may be activated over a long period of time, often exacerbated by certain conditions.

Sailboat on the Huon River on a cloudy day.

When we received the disgnosis a few days ago, we both racked our brains trying to recall when, in fact, some of these symptoms began.  Without a doubt, the symptoms started with an outrageous and uncomfortable sense of fullness after eating a normal sized meal, once we arrived in New Zealand where we lived for three months on an alpaca farm.

Most of our meals consist of medium sized portions of protein, one or two cooked vegetables and a salad.  Eating none of this foods should or previously caused any intestinal distress. 

Previously while in Fiji, where we spent three months living on the island of Vanua Levu we literally cooked every meal.  During this period we didn’t consume a single portion of seafood when we’d discovered all local fish was caught close to the shore.  See this photo below and our post from December 29, 2015 for our mention and fears of eating fish in Fiji.


Photo and caption from December 29, 2015:  “We’d been warned against purchasing locally caught fish when its often caught close to the shore where bacteria is heavy in the waters from sewage disposal.  As a result, we never purchased any fish during the past four months (in Fiji).  I’m looking forward to cooking fish once we arrive in New Zealand.”  Eventually, I did eat the fish.  See text below for details.

At the end of the three months we left Vanua Levu to fly to Viti Levu where we stayed for one additional month.  This was during the busy holiday season that we dined out a few times, once on Tom’s birthday on December 23rd and again on Christmas Day.  On each of these occasions I ate shell fish and/or squid both of which meals were consumed in a five star hotel. 

Here’s my dinner on the night of Tom’s birthday in this photo below with more seafood.  Here’s the link to that meal:

My fresh plate of food on Tom’s birthday on December 23, 2015.

But, here’s the one that tops it all from Christmas brunch December 25, 2015:

This is what I ate for Christmas brunch at the five star hotel in Vanua Levu, Fiji; baby octopus all of which are caught close to the shore.  Please see this link for these facts.  Those heads were a bit tricky to chew.  I ended up eating four of them, less one head, never giving it a thought since we were dining in an upscale environment.

Once we left Fiji on January 4, 2016, we cruised from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand where we lived on the alpaca farm for three months. It was during this period the bloating symptoms began, most likely the onset of full blown H. Pylori.

On January 11, 2016, I posted this story with a seafood photo on a cruise, here again exacerbating my condition by eating bottom feeding, caught-close-to-the-shore seafood.

This is the entrée I ordered for four evening meals in a row on the cruise to new Zealand, seafood on a bed of cooked cabbage and vegetables.  Here again, more high risk seafood.

How many times did I mention the risks of eating seafood caught close to the shore which is often infected with a wide variety of bacteria, including Helicobactor Pylori?  More times than we can count. 

Any yet, foolishly, I continued to eat squid and bottom feeding fish which seems to be the biggest culprit in causing my illness as shown in these photos. At the time, I made the assumption that dining in upscale restaurants and aboard cruises would eliminate these risks.  How wrong I was!

Today, as I experience some side effects of the massive doses of two different antibiotics, one of which includes 2 grams  (2000 mg) of Amoxicillin per day, twice the recommended dose for strep throat or penumonia.   The other antibiotic is Clarithromycin at 1 gram (1000 mg) per day.  The third drug is a PPI (proton pump inhibitor) always taken in combination with these two antibiotics is intended to reduce the acidity of the intestinal tract during the treatment and for two months thereafter (by continuing the PPI).

The course of treatment ends next Monday at 7 pm.  Thirty six hours later we’ll board the cruise in Sydney.  I can only hope I’ve learned something here:  that the cosumption of squid and other close-to-the-shore and bottom feeding fish will now be forbidden in my diet, eliminating one more of the foods I’ve enjoyed over the years. 

We’re grateful for our almost 1700 daily posts.  Through researching our photos, we were able to piece together why, when and how I developed this bacterial infection.

However, no food(s) is ever worth a serious health condition of any type.  We hope this post may have provided some insight into what may be recommended to eliminate from one’s diet while traveling.  One can never be too cautious, a lesson I’ve learned the hard way.

Be well.

__________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, February 22, 2016:

These foals in NZ were hard to get close for more detailed photos when they’re very shy  If you click on this link, it will take you to last year’s post where, if you scroll to the bottom on the page, you’ll see a hysterical horse photo we’d taken in Hawaii.