Striving to use more social media for our new site…

Tom in the doorway that walks out to the garden at the new holiday home in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, where we stayed for three months in 2013.

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

Today’s photos are from June 17, 2013, while in Boveglio Italy. See the link here for more details.
The back of the property.

Almost every day over the last few weeks, I have been working with our web developer to redesign our website, updating its features, and making it easy for our readers and hopefully, easier for me to edit and update daily.

Can you picture this table filled with friends drinking wine, talking loudly, and dining on homemade Italian food? Unfortunately, no one spoke English in Boveglio leaving us little opportunity for socializing other than a few occasions.

Using the Blogger app over these past 8 years has been tricky. Line spacing and editing have been difficult not only to use but often weeks or months later a previous post will have lost its original editing with peculiar and unpredictable paragraph and line spacing.

This is the clock tower that chimes at odd times, next door to our home.

Our new site, using WordPress, which is a popular web tool used by millions of sites, will make your viewing as easy as it was in the past and our process of preparing the posts less complicated and cumbersome. 

An old wishing well in the yard. No bucket.

Our advertiser’s links will be new and our links for Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook will be easily accessed with one click. Of course, mine and Tom’s email links will be simple to find and use with just one click.

Another fountain in the garden.

We wrote a new “About Us” which we shared in a post a few days ago, as shown in this post here which we’ll update each year. Once we upload the new site, it’s normal to find some necessary changes over the first few months with feedback from readers and observations we make. We’ll look forward to any comments from you.

The road outside our holiday home.

With this new site, it will be easy to find our archives on the home page on your smartphone, where, in the past, these weren’t accessible without a few extra steps we’d been explaining and posting each day at the top of each new post. Plus, we’ll continue to have a translator link for our non-English speaking readers.

Yes, we fit all of our luggage in this tiny Fiat we’ve rented for the summer and this was when we had 18 pieces. Now we have six, including carry-on bags.

We’ve discovered that more readers read our posts on their phones than on an iPad, tablet, laptop, or computer. Many have mentioned they read our posts while sitting on a bus on their way to and from work, while waiting for their appointments at a doctor or dentist’s office, or at other places of business.

The spaces between the houses were too narrow for cars but were suitable for horses and buggies many years ago. Photos of our walks in the area will continue as we explored.

I know each time I’m forced to wait for a meeting or appointment, the first thing I do is to play with my phone; reading various posts, playing games, and checking social media.

View from our veranda and the best spot for a WiFi signal which was impossible from inside the house.

Speaking of social media, as mentioned above, over the past 8 plus years since we began posting on March 15, 2012, I haven’t made any effort to use Instagram and Twitter, although I have an account for each platform.

The view to a part of the garden from the veranda.

I realize I am years behind in using these highly popular forms of social media. Why didn’t I pursue these good means of promoting our website? It all boiled down to having already spent so many hours a day online researching new locations, managing photos, and preparing our posts, I was uninterested in spending more time online.

For Euros $23, US $30, we purchased enough food for a few days: four pork chops, one bag jumbo shrimp, four pieces swordfish, one pound of sliced ham, two heads of Bibb lettuce, one pound of carrots, eighteen eggs and one tube of mayonnaise (yellow box on the right). The villa has seasonings, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar.

Lately, we wouldn’t have much to share when staying in this hotel in Mumbai, India for the past 87 days. However, going forward, regardless of where we may be or if we continue to remain in lockdown for months to come, I’ve decided to start using both Twitter and Instagram, at least once a day. 


Right now, I am too busy to start, but once the site is live by the end of this month, you’ll easily be able to click the links and hopefully, if you prefer, follow me on those sites for snippets of information. It’s an easy way to communicate with all of you.

Continuation of the walk in the area where there are other homes are located.

Of course, my tweets won’t be politically motivated. They will all be in relation to our site, our current situation, and our travels yet to come. Luckily, I am not particularly obsessive about communicating online so hopefully, I won’t get overly engrossed in posting/tweeting once the new site is up. 


Today? Not much is new. We’ve both been sleeping later, often until 8:00 am which seems to make the day go more quickly. By the time I finish the day’s post, usually by 1:00 pm, I spend a few hours handling various business tasks and when done, may play Scrabble online, a quick and easy way to pass the time. With my hourly walks and some reading, the days seem to fly by.

Flowers, herbs, and vegetables were planted everywhere for our enjoyment while there.

We hope you are doing well, feeling well, and able to get outdoors for some fresh air.

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Photo from one year ago today, June 18, 2019:

What a view in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.

India’s international flights opening soon???..Facing reality…More 2013 photos from Venice…

With the hot sun, the massive crowds, the going rate of $125 to $150 a couple, and as evidenced here, the gondola traffic jam, we decided to forego the 30-minute ride in the congested canals.

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

Today’s photos are from June 17, 2013, while in Venice, Italy. See the link here for more details.
Hard to resist. Fun to see.

More news on COVID-19 in India, at this time:


From this site:
“MAHARASHTRA’S (state where Mumbai is located) Covid-19 death tally surged by 1409 on Tuesday, taking its total toll to 5,537, following a data reconciliation process initiated by the state government. Of 1409 deaths, only 81 of the deaths were reported on Tuesday. The remaining 1328 deaths have occurred since March and been added to the numbers now.” 

 Inside the courtyard of the Universita Ca Foscari was a decoration made of trash.
These above numbers contradict those we’ve discussed below taken from the Worldometer tracking site. We often wonder how impossible it is for the records to be accurate under these dire circumstances. But, what else do we have to determine the risks in various countries?

Leonardo da Vinci exhibit was being held at the museum.

In other news, we’ve heard numerous comments on TV news in regard to the possibility of international flights resuming in India, over which a discussion will be initiated in July by the powers-that-be. 

Water buses along the Grand Canal.
With June more than half over, it’s possible we could know something in 3 to 4 weeks. Our expectations based on all of our reading and research leaves us wondering if it could actually be 4 to 6 months until international flights resume.
Tight quarters.  Lots of boats.
As India’s virus case counts continue to rise, we’re doubtful the lockdown will be released any sooner than September. Each hour, as I walk the corridors, I stop and peer out a window at the end of one of the corridors, the only window on my walking course.
This was as close as we got to the gondolas.
Each day, from morning to late afternoon I can see an area where numerous men congregate to drink tea and talk. Few of these men, as they sit in close proximity, are wearing masks or social distancing.
Murano glass figurines from a shop window.
The above comment is not intended to single out “men.” It’s purely a cultural aspect of life in India. Women work, shop, and keep the home, while many men, whether working or not, will congregate in public areas.
Clock Tower.
This fact alone may prevent India from reducing its number of cases for a long time to come. It may be only possible through “herd immunity” which may take one or two years to achieve. For that reason alone, even if we could go outside, we would not. We don’t want to take the risk of being included in the tally of herd immunity.
Piazza of St. Mark’s, impressive, eh?
Based on tracking of COVID-19 on this site which we’ve been watching daily, as of yesterday, India had more new deaths than any other country in the world. With a total of 2006 new deaths, compared to the #1 country in the world, the USA with the highest number of cases and death, which had 849 new deaths. 
Basilica di San Marco.
India now is #4 in the world for the most number of cases and deaths. With the massive population of over 1.3 billion, it’s entirely conceivable that India will surpass the US in the number of cases and deaths and reach the dreadful #1 position in the world. The total population of the US is 328 million, almost one-quarter of the population of India.
A great shot at every turn.
Are we prepared to wait this out? At this point, yes. We’re holding our own. We hope all of you are as well.
Views along the waterway on the return to the ship.

BTW, if you are looking for an engrossing, addictive, binge-watching series, search for Australia’s “A Place to Call Home.” It has 60 hour-long episodes. We’re loving every moment. It’s available on Acorn TV on Amazon Prime which offers a one-month free trial. 

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Photo from one year ago today, June 17, 2020:

Ruins of a castle on the drive to Balleyconneely while in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.


Looking back to Venice Italy on this date 7 years ago…Then on to Tuscany for three months…

As our ship made its way to the port of Venice, our mouths were agape in surprise at the historic treasure before our eyes.

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

Today’s photos are from June 16, 2013, while in Venice, Italy. See the link here for more details.



As shown in today’s photos while on a cruise on this date in 2013, we spent a day in Venice, Italy, a location we’d looked forward to visiting as we considered some of the world’s most exciting points of interest.

We noticed one historic building after another.

The memories of that day are as clear in our minds today as if it was only months ago, not the full seven years from this date. We’re often surprised at ourselves for remembering finite details of touring renowned locations such as this. But, we found ourselves in awe of this and of course, many other such sites throughout the world.


Many of our readers have written to us over the years sharing their experiences in places such as Venice and in each case, they’ve loved it too. No doubt, we did as well, although one missing element for us has been our lack of interest in shopping.

The waterways were exactly as we had perceived them, crowded with a seemingly never-ending maze of canals.

In my old life (before traveling the world), I would have been over-the-top with excitement to be able to shop in a place like Venice. The colorful little shops lined the narrow walkways with a plethora of tourist-type and specialty products.


Whether it was hats, scarfs, leather goods, artwork, or jewelry, the stores, with relatively high prices from paying high rents to have the opportunity to be located in this area of constant tourist traffic, it all was appealing to the eye.
Over the years we’ve found a degree of enjoyment simply from window shopping as we did in Venice so long ago.

Check out the crowds!

When we were there in 2013, cruise ships were allowed to dock at a nearby pier that only required a short shuttle ride and about a 15-minute walk to arrive at the canal city. Over the years that has changed as indicated in this article below from this site:

“The Italian government has announced it will be rerouting cruise ships away from central parts of Venice. This move follows a long campaign by residents to stop large ships from docking in the Unesco-listed city.

Every direction we turned there was another waterway.

Italy’s transport minister Danilo Toninelli said on Wednesday that cruise ships would be diverted away from their current route, reported the Financial Times, therefore banning them from entering the historic grand canal.

Toninelli said he had been looking at temporary ports “to avoid witnessing more invasions of the Giudecca by these floating palaces, with the scandals and the risks that they bring.”

What a view!

In 2018, 502 cruise ships brought 1.56 million passengers to Venice, contributing to the overcrowding already swamping the narrow canals and walkways.

Meanwhile, there are environmental concerns about the impact of ships passing through the Venetian Lagoon and along the Giudecca Canal.”

The buildings along the canals were often unique but more were attached.

In June, a collision between 2,150-passenger ocean cruise ship MSC Opera and Uniworld river cruise ship The River Countess (in which four passengers were injured) heightened calls for a ban. Italy’s environment minister Sergio Costa tweeted that the incident confirmed ships must not pass the Giudecca area.

As of next month, some cruise ships will dock at the Fusina and Lombardia terminals away from the city centre but still within the lagoon. However, from next year a third of cruise ships will be rerouted away from the city.

The cathedrals were breathtaking.

A plan to reroute cruise ships dates back to 2017 when an Italian governmental committee decided that cruise vessels weighing 96,000 tonnes or more would be prevented from docking in the lagoon in front of St Mark’s Square.”


After spending several hours walking the streets of Venice, with tired legs, we decided to take a water taxi back to the ship. I imagine that in recent years, passengers were being transported to the area by buses or taxis. 
As our ship continued on to our docking location.
I’d be curious to hear from any of our readers who’ve visited Venice by cruise ship as to how they arrived at the canals in the past few years. Feel free to post a comment at the end of today’s post, anonymously if you prefer.

Our favorite points of interest while on the self-guided walking tour was visiting St. Mark’s Square and the Bridge of Sighs. We’d considered embarking on one of the romantic gondolas in the canals, but the price at that time was INR 9480, US $150, per couple for a 30-minute ride, more than we cared to spend. 

All these photos were taken from our ship as it maneuvered through the main channel approaching the cruise ship pier in Venice.
This type of tourist activity generally doesn’t appeal to us, especially when we noticed the gondolas were stopped in “traffic” for extended periods. It made no sense to spend that kind of money just to sit in a gondola. It may have been more worthwhile in the evening, but our visit occurred during the daylight hours.

One of the most exciting parts that day was when our ship sailed into the magnificent Venetian Grand Canal when we had our first glimpse of the canal city. Our cabin was on the right side of the ship, allowing us a bird’s eye view as we entered the area. 
As we approached the pier for the cruise ships, we noticed they were lined up back to back.
At times, our “occasional” readers may presume we only get excited about wildlife and nature. However, over the years we’ve experienced many stunning locations such as Venice that will always be emblazoned in our minds.

For the balance of our first published posts regarding our visit to Venice, please click here. Tomorrow, we’ll share Part 2 of our visit to Venice. Please check back.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, June 16, 2019:

In Connemara, Ireland, apparently, this horse has been fed by passersby when she got as close as she could when we stopped for a photo. For more photos, please click here.
Day #165 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Living in Kenya, adaption in 2013…

September firsts…Looking back over these past six years of posting on September 1st…

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

 “Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Most peculiar.  This little bird was hanging on to the screen of one of the glass doors.

Yesterday, while we swam and lounged by the pool, prior to the arrival of the afternoon rains we started reminiscing about September firsts, many of which were of particular significance to us in our world travels.

Since we began posting in March 2012, this is our sixth September 1st post which we’re sharing in part with our Readers today after the playful poolside conversation sent our minds spinning over our past experiences.

We love sharing our daily lives with all of you and we also love being able to look back at our lives in words and photos during this many year’s long journey.  Tom, who’s memory for dates is amazing, was able to recall exactly what we did each of the past five years after leaving Minnesota in October 2012.

The only September 1st he couldn’t recall was the month before we left as we began to wind down the time until our departure from our old lives to embark on a new life. 


The first September 1st post went like this…

“September 1, 2012

Is a good memory needed for travel? How I improved my memory after it started to decline…



Peculiarly, my memory is better now than when it was when I was 20 years old (so I think).  When I turned 50, while working at a stressful job, my memory started deteriorating rapidly.  I expected to be a mindless blob at 60, let alone, my now almost 65.  

I’d find myself wandering around a room, wondering why I was there, forgetting my keys (don’t we all?).  On occasion, I’d get into a stranger’s unlocked car in a parking lot that happened to be the same color and model as mine. That scared me. Remember names? Forget about it!  Impossible, at that time.” To continue this post, please click here.

This morning at 6:45 am while watching the news in the screening room, Tom read me the above post in full.  Ironically, when we look back this far, we marvel over how little we’ve really changed in many ways since we began posting so long ago.  

And yet, our travels have molded us, refined us, and lightened us by the vastness of the experiences, making us less worried, less fearful and more adventurous than ever.

The next September 1st came quickly when by that point we’d been gone from Minnesota for 10 months, gone from the US for eight months, having left by ship on January 3, 2013, on the exciting cruise through the Panama Canal. Gosh, that seems like so long ago.

The second September 1st post went like this…


“September 1, 2013 


Arrived in Venice…Flying away tomorrow morning…

Last night, our last night in Boveglio, there was a wedding at the centuries old church across the road.  The smoke is a result of a short fireworks display set off to celebrate the newlywed couple.

The 4-hour drive to Venice was relatively uneventful although the traffic on the toll road was intense at times, moving fast with crazy driving typical for Italy weaving in and out of lanes with little regard for safety.

Tom is a good driver but his level of patience in traffic is lacking.  From time to time, it was a nail biter.  In charge of navigation, my task, itself was daunting. With a serious lack of road signs, driving long distances in Italy is a challenge.  During several stretches, we’d driven for miles unsure if we were on the correct road.  How we managed to get here without ever taking a wrong turn baffles me.”  To continue this post, please click here.


Reviewing the above post we easily recalled that the next morning we were off on the longest travel day we’ve had to date, 34 hours from airport to airport, Venice Italy to Mombasa Kenya, an exhausting period with lengthy delays and layovers in Istanbul.  We’ll never forget that day and night.


The third September 1st post went like this…

“September 1, 2014 

Part 1, A day in Normandy…Profoundly moving experience…

The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.

Tom has always been the history buff in this family.  His knowledge of wars astounds me at times.  Having never taken a particular interest in past wars, other than feeling pride and compassion for our loyal soldiers, I didn’t expect I’d find the 10 hour day exploring Normandy.

Not only did we both find visiting Normandy interesting but, our hearts were embraced by the way France and the US have maintained a peaceful and respectful tribute to our fallen soldiers from World War II.

Of course, we’re anxious to share some of the many photos taken throughout the day.  Unfortunately, we just returned from our small group-of-eight-chartered-tour and time is short.”  To continue this post, please click here.


Tom had suspected I may not enjoy the Panama Canal, as mentioned above, or visiting Normandy but both of these experiences were enlightening and meaningful to me as you can read in the above post from that September 1st.



The fourth September 1st post went like this…
(In this post, we reminisced about Kenya as we prepared to leave Trinity Beach, Australia for Savusavu, Fiji). 

“September 1, 2015 

Beauty is subjective…We’ve changed our perspective…
Mid-day sunlight filtering through the trees.

 
Kenya was dark in its mystery, it’s eerie sounds, it’s dry dusty plains and its sudden pelting rains.  At night, we’d hear a freaky indescribable sound, comparable to the tones from the movie, “Close Encounters of a Third Kind,” a sound that impacted the way we felt about it, a little frightened, a lot in awe. 

In many ways, Kenya was far removed from our familiar, as familiar as one can feel traveling the world with the certain ungainly expectations we’ve adopted as we’ve continued on.  Nothing was the same from that point on.  We’ve changed.

We aren’t as afraid.  We learned to live outdoors for 16 hours a day with no living room or lounge area inside the house, no screens in our outdoor living room, a spacious veranda with a wide array of venomous insects always in attendance.  I was stung on the thigh early on and a year later it still hurt when I touched the spot.  We’ve changed.”  To continue this post, please click here.

We never have been able to get Africa out of our heads thoughts for which still reverberate today after so much time has passed.  It’s hard to believe that in a little more than five months we’ll return.
The fifth September 1st post went like this…

“September 1, 2016 

Today’s the day, the four or five-hour harrowing drive to Sumbersari…(Please see the year-ago-photo below) 

With Butu picking us up at 10:00 am this morning after our included breakfast at the excellent and outrageously affordable Hilton Garden Inn Bali Ngurah Airport with room rates at US $50, IDR 663,300, we had a little time to complete this post, pack a few items and be on our way.  

As for the flights from Phuket to Bali, we found comfortable seating at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Singapore for the three-hour layover.  We signed up at the information desk for free Wi-Fi after showing our passports and boarding passes, purchased tea for me and bottle water for Tom and there we were in comfortable seating, writing to our loyal readers.” To continue this post, please click here.

From there it was the four or five-hour harrowing drive, one of the most difficult car rides in these past years, one we’ll never forget and never hope to repeat again, although we loved the villa, the people, and the location.


The sixth September 1st post went like this…

Well, here it is, today’s post the sixth September 1st post we’ve done since we began posting on March 14, 2012 (here’s our first post).  I suppose we won’t ever be able to write this same September 1st-type post again or it will seem too much like Groundhog Day.  I guess.

Today’s September 1st has as much meaning for us as any other date in our world travels, rich with memorable occasions, even amid the quiet times like yesterday, when we languished in the pool, remembering and remembering.

Fortunately, both of us have retained, if not enhanced, our good memories as we’ve aged over these past years since we wrote that first September 1st post as mentioned above in 2012.  We pray for good health, well being and the ability to remember which will allow us to continue on for many more September firsts and… all the remaining days of the year.


Be well.  Be happy and cherish every memory.

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Photo from one year ago today, September 1, 2016:
By far, the  Hilton Garden In n Bali Ngurah Airport was the best bargain in a hotel we’ve experienced in our travels, ideal for those needing to be close to the airport.  For more details, please click here.

Answering the question from readers, “Where should I travel?” Our top 13! Link to our world travel map…

The Treasury in Petra, Jordan after a very long, hot walk. Click here for one of two posts.  This sight made us gasp with our hearts pounding wildly, less from the walk, more from sheer joy!

Frequently, we receive email inquiries from our readers asking for suggestions for the best places to visit in the world based on what we’ve seen to date. 

That’s a tough question to answer.  Its almost as complex as asking a person what they like to read, to eat and what they prefer for recreation.  Its all a matter of personal preference.

Zef, our houseman, held this monstrous insect Tom had fished out of the pool with the net.  Not only did living in Marloth Park include daily visits from big wildlife but also the smaller world of many insect such as this enormous rhino beetle.  For more details, please click here for one of our three months of posts.

Keeping in mind that our primary interests (although we’ve enjoyed many other aspects in the world which we’ll also include here) revolve around observing wildlife, vegetation and naturally created scenery which limits more than half of the popular “places to see” in the world.

With our goal to visit every continent, choosing countries/regions within that continent we strive on making decisions befitting our personal interests.  To date, we visited 49 countries as shown in our map on Travelers Point.  Please click here to see our map.

A container freighter ahead of us in line to enter the first set of locks, the Miraflores Locks as we entered the Panama Canal.  See here for one of the posts.

When reviewing our map its clear to see how we’ve yet to visit most of Asia (we’ll be visiting a few Asian countries soon), South America (upcoming in 2017) and Antarctica, upcoming in 2017 or 2018 (cruises yet to be posted).

Sure, we’ve found many big cities interesting, romantic and exciting: Paris, London, Sydney, Vancouver, Barcelona, Dubai, Venice, Marrakesh, Cairo, Dubrovnik (Croatia), Reykjavik, Cork (Ireland) and on and on…too many to list here.

This female lion as all animals in the wild in the Masai Mara, Kenya, is constantly on the lookout for the next meal to feed her cubs.  It was a memorable, life changing experience we’ll always treasure.  See here for more details.

Our readers continue to ask for our favorites and for many of our regular readers you may already be familiar with our preferences. For our less frequent visitors, here are a few suggestions that not only include remote areas of particular interest but also cities/areas we found especially exciting:

1. Marloth Park, South Africa:  Abundant wildlife, friendly people, plenty to see and do, reasonably priced
2. Panama Canal cruise:  Making a transit through the canal is quite an experience.  The cruises include many stops to other interesting countries.
3.  Masai Mara, Kenya:  Photo safari one of the top experiences in our lives; pricey.
4.  Petra, Jordan: Visit the Treasury, one of the most amazing man made structures in the world, breathtaking.  Getting there can be pricey.
5.  The Middle East cruise:  (May not be safe at this time).  Traveling through the Red Sea, the Suez Canal (loved this) and the Gulf of Aden proved to be our most adventurous cruise to date.

After we traveled through the Suez Canal, we entered the dangerous waters of the Gulf of Aden, requiring “pirate drills” and special forces onboard with the “packages” including armory to protect the ship and passengers.  Very exciting.  See the post here.

6.  Venice, Italy:  Amazing, must-see for those who don’t mind “tourist” attractions with huge crowds, long queues, and bumping elbows. 
7.  Mykonos, Greece:  (Sardinia is reputed to be even more exquisite). Mykonos has gorgeous scenery, interesting shopping, great restaurants with many delightful hilly walks.  Expensive.
8. Placencia, Belize (a peninsula):  Our first stay outside the US with a bad start for during the first week in a less desirable house – moved to fabulous property – remote, had an exquisite stay; great people, reasonably priced.  Quiet life with a week or two of sites to see. There are many islands in Belize such as Ambergris Caye that tourists often choose over Placencia.  We prefer more remote locations.  Not recommended for those with precarious health issues when its a rough four hour drive or an infrequent flight on a small plane at a local airport to a hospital in Belize City (city is rough and best to avoid for extended periods). 

As our ship made its way to the port of Venice, our mouths were agape in surprise a the feast before our eyes.  Click here for one of two posts.

9.  Sydney, Australia:  One of the most beautiful cities in the world; expensive, good local transportation, fabulous shopping, hotels and restaurants, lots to see, far to travel from many parts of the world.
10.  New Zealand:  This country has so much to offer one could easily stay busy and in awe for many months touring both the North and South Islands, especially if you enjoy road trips.  For us, staying close to New Plymouth and the alpaca farm has totally fulfilled us, although we plan to do some touring in the near future.  Reasonably priced.


The Harbour Bridge.  Wow!  It was extraordinary.  We look forward to returning to Sydney in 2017 for 40 days to fill a gap in our schedule.  For the link to this post, please click here.

11.  Dubrovnik, Croatia:  The must-see walled city may not require a long stay but a few days to a week could be highly gratifying.  Pricey.
12.  The countryside in France and the UK:  We’ve visited many small villages but will someday return for a more comprehensive tour. Expensive.
13.  Kauai, Hawaii:  Extraordinary island offering the “naturalist” a wide array of sightseeing opportunities, scenery and unique wildlife.  Expensive.



The walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia.  For more photos of this breathtaking historic city, please click here.

We could go on and on.  We’ve provided a few links in the caption of today’s photos for our visits to these special places. If you’d like to see more photos, please search on the right side of our daily homepage and you’ll find a ‘SEARCH” box directly below the listed archive dates (for more past posts). 

If you’ll type in the name of any of the above cities/countries/locations, you’ll find a list of every post in which we’ve visited these areas.  If you have difficulty with this, please send an email and we’ll be happy to assist in finding the appropriate posts containing many photos.


Not wanted to awaken her/him, I kept my distance although I’d have loved to see more of the rarely seen Hawaiian Monk Sea at the beach at the Napali Coast, Kauai.  Click here for more details.

Actually, it would take writing a comprehensive travel book to describe the details of these experiences and more.  Instead of writing a tedious time consuming book, we’ve chosen to share  our story each day. 

For now, our goal is to assist our inquiring readers on areas they may find suitable for their needs and desires. We hope today’s story helps for those who are considering traveling if possessing some criteria similar to ours.

Have an interesting day whatever you choose to do!

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Photo from one year ago today, February 12, 2015:

A final view of Hanalei Bay before we exited an open house in Kauai.  For photos of the house we toured, please click here.

Updates and tidbits…Fun photos!…

 

A photo from guests staying at our upcoming rental house in South Africa.  Doing laundry takes on a whole new meaning!

As we write about the nuances of our days, on occasion we may leave a reader wondering what transpired with a particular situation that we may have mentioned in an earlier post.

The rental car: With no further email from Budget, we are assuming they decided to let us keep the car until we return it to Venice on September 1st.

When they agreed to extend the rental agreement (which we have in writing), they billed our credit card on file for the prorated balance through the return date.  Oddly, when they informed us that the car was sold, they reversed the charge of over $1300, yet to charge us for the balance.  There’s no doubt they’ll charge us for the balance once we return the car.

The bees and the fly’s issues: The coins in the Ziploc bags hanging in the doorways have reduced the influx of bees by 95% and the flies by 75%. Unfortunately, a few flies enter each day. For some peculiar reason, they don’t seem to land long enough to kill them. They are vicious, biting me with a frenzy. As a result, I have no less than 10 fly bites at any given time, that take no less than 5 days to stop itching. 

Can you imagine soaking in the tub with these visitors stopping by to say hello?

At 4:00 am this morning, I was awakened by the itching forcing me to take a Tylenol PM to get back to sleep.  Tylenol PM and other over the counter sleep aids, often contain diphenhydramine, an antihistamine that causes drowsiness and stops the itching. Luckily, I fell back to sleep.

It seems most of the bites occur around dinner time, the smell of food drawing them inside. Instead of feasting on the food, they feast on my arms and legs so fast I can’t shoo them away. Tonight, I am going to wear my Bugs Away long pants during and after dinner, hoping to keep the biting at bay.

The weather: For almost two weeks, we had over 90 degree days. Last week, it was 97 degrees, one day with humidity to match. It cools down nicely at night. On two nights we slept without covers, fortunately, not losing much sleep over the heat. 

Now that it’s beginning to cool down, it was so cool last night that I slept in warmer PJs. With the mosquito netting over one of the master bedroom windows, we can sleep without buzzing around our heads, enjoying the cool breeze. As we sit on the veranda while I write this, it’s no more than 68 degrees, wonderfully comfortable.  We’re hoping it continues to stay cool as we prepare to leave Tuscany soon.

Seat assignment for our upcoming flight: A few days ago, I called Turkish Air able to speak in English to a representative. She informed us that arranging seat assignment wasn’t possible until August 26th, a full week before the flight. I’ve never heard of this before. Most likely, we’ll be charged to sit together which we’ll disdainfully pay. 

Upcoming year’s prescription order.  In early July, we ordered all of our upcoming year’s prescriptions. They were to arrive in 6 boxes.  As of this date, only 4 boxes have arrived.  Now it may be too late for them to send them.  I’ve decided to wait until Monday. If they haven’t arrived, I’ll contact the company having them resend the missing boxes (hopefully, at their expense for expedited shipping). 

A box from our mailing service: The chargers for both of our computers will soon die, based on the difficulty we’ve begun to experience. Thus, it made sense before we leave for Africa, to order two new chargers, in the event either or both of them entirely fail. The replacement cost was US $9.95 each with free shipping in the US only. Also, I needed a few cosmetic items I’d be unable to find in Italy. 

We put together an order from Amazon, all with free shipping to be shipped to our mailing service in Nevada.  The chargers, along with my few cosmetic items were all shipped in one small box at a cost of US $50. Of course, they included the few pieces of mail we hadn’t received as yet, most of which we look at online at a cost of $2 per scan. The box arrived in 18 days from the shipping date via USPS international, coming directly to the door here.

Overpayment on credit card: When we saw the charge on the credit card for the prorated balance (as described above) on the rental car, I immediately paid the bill off in full.  Our goal is to keep all of our credit cards at a zero balance in the event of an emergency. When Budget reversed the charge (go figure) a few days later, we ended up with a credit on Master Card. Wouldn’t one assume, they’d just leave it there until additional purchases we made? Oh no! They mailed a check to our mailing service. How inconvenient!

Fortunately, we’d left dozens of envelope and deposit slips with our mailing service before we left Nevada, in the event we received any checks. Contacting our rep at the mailing service by email, I requested they deposit the check. Looking each day to confirm the deposit was made, it finally came through, taking a full week from the date it was mailed for the deposit to show in online banking.  Good to know. 

Staying on top of situations and tasks such as these, however small they may be, is thought-provoking and time-consuming. Luckily, Tom and I both prefer to avoid tasks hanging over our heads, so we strive to be diligent in getting tasks out of the way as quickly and painlessly as possible.

We’d rather save our time and energy over that which we have no control, the surprises, the unexpected. 

Now, I’ll go make a baking soda paste to see if that will help with the itching. I checked today to discover that both houses, in Kenya and in South Africa have screens. Yeah for screens!

No seat assignment available for us on Turkish air…A letter from Expedia.com…

With the midsummer heat, few flowers remain in the gardens.
With our upcoming flight from Venice, Italy to Mombasa, Kenya on September 2nd, arriving 17 hours later on September 3rd, we’d expected to be able to sit together.

When booking the flight several weeks ago, trying to choose our seats for the three legs of the flight, a message popped up stating that seat assignment will be available at a later date, unknown at this point.

As I walked through the gardens, the bees swarmed around me.

The thought of the possibility of that long flight without being able to sit next to one another was frustrating for us both.  Playing Gin and dining together (yes, they serve meals) makes the time pass quickly, an excellent diversion.

Knowing little about Turkish Air other than reviews we read online, we have no idea what to expect.  The reviews varied from “hate them” to “loved the flight” more on the favorable side.  There were few flight options to Kenya.

The honey bees love the lavender, still in its full glory.

Yesterday, concerned about the lack of seat assignments, I contacted Expedia.com from whom we purchased our tickets.  With the usual good customer service, I expected a response within 24 hours.  Within hours, they responded to our request with the following:

"Dear Expedia Customer,  
Thank you for contacting us about your seat requests for your flight reservation. The airline has not made seats available for a pre-assigned seat request at  this time. The airline will assign seats for you when you check in.
Meanwhile, your seat assignment requests have been sent to the airline. Please be advised, that the airline ultimately controls, seat assignments and we cannot guarantee every request will be honored. Confirm your specific requests with the airline before departure.   If this does not answer your question or solve your problem, feel free to reply to this message or  call us at 1-800-EXPEDIA (1-800-397-3342) or 1-404-728-8787 (for callers outside United States and Canada) and reference case ID: ????? Thank you for choosing Expedia.  Dennise Expedia Customer Service Team"

All we can determine from this message is that when checking in at the airport, we’ll have to stand in line, hopefully, early enough to get seats together, which may or may not be possible. Why? Why do it this way?

The shade of the overhanging vines creates a pleasant patio area in our yard.

If their online system is not sophisticated enough to allow seat selection? If that’s the case, are their planes updated and maintained to meet modern standards?

Each time we encounter a possible stress-inducing situation, we develop a back-up plan to ease us through the scenario. In this case, very early arrival at the gate in Venice is our best option. 

However, when we were departing on our last ship, the Norwegian Spirit in Venice, we were warned not to arrive at the airport over three hours before a flight’s departure.  One would not be allowed into the terminal if earlier.

We’ve noted our calendar:  arrive at Marco Polo airport in Venice at 7:30 am on September 2nd, considering our 10:30 am flight. 

A good soaking rain would bring all of the vegetation back to life.  It rains a little a few times a week but not enough during the summer heat in the 90’s each of the past several days.

Also, checking online for information about that airport, we discovered that they have a technology kiosk where we’ll be able to recharge our laptops and smartphones prior to departure.  At this point, we’re unable to determine if any of the three planes we’ll be flying have “plugins” at our seats (what seats?) for recharging digital equipment. 

Having our equipment charged will enable us to read Kindle app books, play games, and of course, write about our travel experience as it transpires, posting it on the blog in real-time.  If the plane doesn’t have plug-ins, we’ll recharge our equipment at kiosks at the two other airports along the way, Istanbul, Turkey, and Nairobi, Kenya, at each of which we’ll have layovers and plane changes.

Plan in place.  Stress reduced. 

The next flight stress inducer is overweight luggage, especially since we don’t want to pay the extra $700 in fees when we flew from Dubai, UAE to Barcelona, Spain. The process of reducing our load has already begun as we’ve disposed of more and more items each week, including making a pile of items we may ship to Kenya, after all. 

In checking with the owner of the house in Diani Beach, he’s agreed to accept a box of items for us.  It will be insured. If it’s stolen, we’ll be covered. We shall see how this rolls out.

More evidence of a need for rain.  This grass was lush green only a few weeks ago.

Tom has expressed his desire to drop off whatever rental car we have at the Venice airport the day before our departure. With the two hours it took to originally pick up the car, he feels more at ease doing it this way. 

At first, I disagreed with him.  Why bear the expense of transportation back to the hotel the previous day? With the hotel offering a complimentary shuttle to the airport, we’d have to pay the one way.  As these other concerns have materialized, I agree with him.  

In any case, we would have done it “his way” whether I agreed or not. To avoid arguing over any such item, we always acquiesce when one of us is adamant about a particular issue. Thus, we don’t argue, making the assumption that either of us is smart enough to make reasonable decisions.

The ongoing process of planning to reduce stress and surprises well in advance takes time and careful thought.  With that in mind, surprise, often occurs, forcing us to ditch our best-laid plans to begin again. I guess that is the way life is in general for all of us:  “Expect the unexpected.”

Road trip tomorrow!  To heck with waiting for the rental car agency to let us know where and when to swap out the rental car. Not a word from them. Off we go, back later in the day with photos and the story of our expedition.

 

Part 2 Venice…One more city knocked off our dream list….Also, update on our new home…

 

With the hot sun, the massive crowds, the going rate of $125 to $150 a couple and as evidenced here, the gondola traffic jam, we decided to forego the 30 minute ride in the clogged canals.

Today, we’ll post our remaining photos of Venice, first updating our current status which we’ll write about tomorrow in more detail, with much enthusiasm.

A simple doorway renovated for modern day.

We arrived in Boveglio, Lucca, Tuscany yesterday around 5:00 pm after a long and difficult drive from Venice, estimated by Google Maps to be a 3 1/2 hour drive which ultimately proved to be a 4 1/2 hour drive.

Another old door.

Reading road signs in Italy is different than reading road signs in the US. Its not about the language difference since there’s nothing to reading a word written in Italian, following a map. The difficult part was the fact that roads are not clearly marked. One can drive for a half hour before seeing a sign that confirms (or not) that one is on the correct highway.

Hard to resist. Fun to see.

Plus, there is considerably confusing maneuvering through small towns along the way to stay on the correct road.  We only had to turn around twice, luckily catching it before we got too far.

Inside yet another square on our lengthy walk to St. Mark’s Basilica.

Thank goodness for Google Maps and our MiFi which worked great providing us with a good signal along the highway, during the last hour. The mountainous drive from Florence (Firenze) to Boveglio took us through 29 tunnels!

 Inside the courtyard of the Universita Ca Foscari was a decoration made of trash.

The scenery inspired me to take photos but the massive guardrails prevented getting any good shots. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stop to take photos with no shoulder or rest stops on the many toll roads we traveled.

 The Universita Ca Foscari entrance.

As for the rental car…I stood in line for one entire hour at the Budget Rental window inside the Marco Polo Airport while Tom waited outside with the luggage. Meeting a friendly couple from Chicago while in line, the wife was so kind to go outside to watch our luggage while Tom came inside to show his driver’s license.  

Leonardo da Vinci exhibit was being held at the museum.

Tom will be the sole driver of the tiny Fiat six speed vehicle. I must admit I’m not the best driver (OK.  I said it.). Although in an emergency, I could drive a stick shift but it has been 30 years since my last attempt. With the long drive “UP UP UP” to our summer home in Boveglio, with NO guardrails, no thank you.

More delectable looking confections.

We awaken this morning in a mountaintop paradise, the sound of nearby church bell chiming on the half hour and hour (not always consistent), in a 17th century renovated stone house in the true Tuscan style and we’re once again relishing in our unique surroundings, filled with contentment and joy.

Lots of activity.

Tomorrow, we’ll post photos, tell you the sacrifices we must make while here, missing some of our familiar creature comforts and the enhancements to our lives that only this step back in history can bring.

Water buses along the Grand Canal.

I’ll tell you one tidbit now…they don’t take credit cards in this area for gas, groceries or restaurants.  Last night, starved after our long day, we found our way to the tiny town of Bennabio where the owner, Alessandro, of the town’s only restaurant Il Cavallino Bianco, opened an “account” for us, telling us we can pay our bill before we leave Boveglio in two and a half months. 

 As done in France, passersby over the Grand Canal at Ponte delle Accademia, place locks on
the bridge posts as a token of love, writing their names on the lock and throwing the key into the water.

Having used most of our Euros in the past month with no nearby bank and it also being Sunday, we appreciated not only a perfect meal (he cooked exactly following my restrictive diet) but speaking no English, we somehow managed to communicate. 

This huge wood carving of a face was interesting.

During dinner, the owner of the local grocery store across the street from the restaurant stopped by to also extend credit to us for our time here.  It certainly pays to know Lisa and Luca, the owners of our summer home, popular and well loved residents of this quaint community.  More will follow tomorrow.

More buses on the waterway.

So here are our remaining photos of Venice, now almost seemingly a distant memory as we immerse ourselves in our new home, soon heading to the town of Benabbio to grocery shop in the tiny store owned by the lovely Vivienne. Photos to follow!

Here’s the rest of our Venice photos!

Sebastiano T. Italy location.  Campo Santo Stefano.
Ah, here’s another pharmacy!
Ornate décor over doorways was appealing.
Many old apartments buildings lined the way to the square.
The food,  feast for the eyes, let alone the palate.
Tight quarters.  Lots of boats.
Statue of Marco Polo.
This was as close as we got to the gondolas.
A square we entered when trying to make our way to St. Mark’s visible in the background.  We walked for two hours to get to St. Marks over many bridges, down many narrow streets.
More French looking than Italian, this window display of masquerade items was beautiful.
Murano glass figurines from a shop window.
Clock Tower.
Piazza of St. Mark…pretty impressive, eh?
Taking photos of people taking photos.
People and pigeons, everywhere.
Basillica di San Marco.
Tricky photo.  Murano glass sailboats taken outside the store with the reflection of Piazza of St. Mark reflecting in the glass creating a cool backdrop.

 

Outdoor restaurant in the Piazza of St. Mark.  Notice the attire on the waiter in the center.
Basilica di San Marco.
More detail on the Basilica di San Marco.
Clock at the Venetian Arsenal.
Gold angels at the top Basillica di San Marco.
Another view of the Basillica di San Marco.

 

Piazza San Marco.

 

Side view of Basillica di San Marco.
Piazza San Marco.

 

Basillica di San Marco.
Atop the Venetian Arsenal.
One of the many structures at the top of Basillica di San Marco.

 

We got a better view of this statue on our return trip, Island of St. Giorgio Maggiore, Chiesa Di San Giorgio.
Shuttles lined the docks to return passengers to one of the many giant ships at the port.
A great shot at every turn.
Waiting at the dock for our shuttle to depart.

 

Not appearing to be rough, the waterway was rough due to the boat traffic.
Views along the waterway on the return to the ship.

 

As the Norwegian Spirit shuttle boat took off to return us to the ship.

Our next crazy 48 hours….

It’s Saturday, our final full day aboard the Norwegian Spirit. Tomorrow morning, we’re #2  on the disembarking list. We’ll get in line to get off the ship, wait in another line to grab a cab to the Marco Polo Airport in Venice, Italy in order to pick up our awaiting rental car and begin the almost four hour drive to our new home in Boveglio, Lucca, Tuscany.

We’ll arrive in Venice at 2:00 pm today.  Wisely planning our time to ensure we do exactly what we hope to do in Venice, adds to the excitement and enjoyment of the next few days. Disembarking a ship is one of the least favorite aspects of our travels (along with airports).  Carefully planning our exit gives us both a sense of comfort and control, easing the process along the way.

The anticipation of finally seeing our new home for the summer gives me butterflies. If it were a “vacation” for a few weeks, I’d be less concerned. But spending two and a half months is a long time, as long as we’ve stayed anywhere since leaving Minnesota on October 31, 2012.  

Our biggest concern is the fact that the house isn’t air conditioned. It’s hot in Tuscany in the summer. Recently, I contacted the owners, Lisa and Luca, asking about the comfort in the house in the heat. They assured us that the thick stone walls of the 17th century house stays cool all summer.

Having spent the past several months in very warm climates with much of our time outdoors, hopefully, we’ll be acclimated. As long as we can sleep at night, the warm days will be tolerable.

So here’s the rundown for the next 48 hours:

7:30 am to 8:15 am today:  Breakfast in the Raffles Cafe.

8:15 am to 11:30 am today: Currently we’re outdoors on the covered patio, overlooking the pool, writing our story.  Our laptop batteries last about 3 hours which always motivates us to complete our story within that time frame.

11:30 am – 1:30 pm today: Pack all of our bags, leaving out clothing and toiletries for tonight and tomorrow morning.  Recharge our computers.

1:30 pm – 3:00 pm today:  Spend our final time by the pool reading our books while enjoying the fact that most of the passengers are getting ready to disembark to Venice when the ship arrives around 2:00 pm, which leaves the pool area quiet and relaxing.

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm today: Now in port in Venice, our MiFi will work. We’ll head to the 12th deck to the Galaxy of the Stars lounge in the bow of the ship to do our banking, pay bills, update our budget from expenses on and off the cruise, entering all the receipts. We do this at the end of every cruise and every few days when staying put for a few months to ensure we don’t miss entering a single expenditure.

4:00 pm – 4:45 pm today:  Shower and dress for the evening in comfortable clothing and shoes bringing a warm sweater for me.

5:00 pm – 6:30 pm today: Meet our fabulous friends Nicole and Gerry for cocktails in Champagne Charlie’s for our final time together with them and our favorite bartender from Bali, Gusti! What a guy!

6:30 pm today: Get off the ship to go to Venice. Hopefully, we’ll be able arrange for an evening gondola ride at sunset.  This will allow us plenty of time to explore Venice. 

11:00 pm tonight: Return to the ship in time to place all of our luggage outside our cabin door, get some rest, planning to get up by 6:00 am.

6:30 am – 7:15 am tomorrow: Breakfast in Raffles Cafe.

7:15 am – 8:00 am tomorrow: Return to our cabin to gather our hand luggage, placing it on one of our luggage carts, finalizing packing our of digital equipment which we always carry with us.

8:00 am – 9:30 am tomorrow: Wait in our designated area for our number to be called to disembark the ship.  

9:30 am – 10:30 am tomorrow: Wait in line at the taxi stand for a ride to the Marco Polo Airport where we’ll pick up our awaiting rental car.

11:00 am – 11:30 am tomorrow: Pick up rental car. Email Lisa and Luca using laptop and MiFi telling them we are on our way and our expected time of arrival at the house.

11:45 am – 3:00 pm  tomorrow: Drive from Venice to our new home in Tuscany, stopping for photos along the way, hoping to arrive by 3:00 pm, our tentative time to meet Lisa and Luca.

3:00 pm – 6:00 pm tomorrow: Familiarize ourselves with the house. Unpack all of our luggage. Find a nearby restaurant for dinner.

6:30 pm – 8:30 pm tomorrow: Dinner at the local restaurant,-presenting our prepared Italian language instructions for my gluten-free, grain-free, starch-free, sugar free and low carb way of eating.

8:30 pm – 10:00 pm tomorrow: Email family and friends that we’ve safely arrived in Tuscany and finally test out our new bed.  ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ (Much needed by then!)

Monday morning, awaken early as usual: Photos! Story! Trip to the grocery store! Getting acquainted with our new neighborhood! Find a health club! Do laundry! Go for a walk!

Hopefully? Grinning from ear to ear as we enter this new phase of our journey.

By the way, any of these plans are subject to change. 

Dubrovnik, Croatia…A walk into another century…Amazing!

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia

 

Having the opportunity to visit Dubrovnik, Croatia was only due to the necessity of the ship finding another port of call when strikes in Athens prevented us from stopping when all public forms of transportation were shut down.
Excuse the dates on the photos.  My error. Will remove them for next batch of photos.

This Windstar small cruise ship enhanced the view as we made our way into the harbor.
Dubrovnik Croatia, a beautiful shoreline.
There’s Tom, happy as a clam as we make our way in a lifeboat to the shore of Dubrovnik Croatia.

 

The shoreline as we approached.

 

The walled city of Dubrovnik.

 

Another city following a design restriction presenting a similar style to the newer homes and structures.

 

Both new and old Dubrovnik were beautiful.

We couldn’t be more thrilled to have visited Dubrovnik today, an enchanting walled city, filled with rich history and charm that is difficult to describe. 

No more than a few feet from the tender, we were greeted with the charm of this historical city.

 

The artwork depicting the treasures of the city were in abundance.

 

The narrow passageways led to one interesting view after another.

To think we may not have seen this city, this country simply further proves how much this world has to offer as we make our way on our relentless journey of discovery and wonder.  We can’t wipe the smiles off of our faces.

Many of the narrow streets had stairways leading to more narrow streets.
Every possible space was devoted to enhancing the productivity of the city.
Croatia is on the north of Slovenia and Hungary, on the east and south of Bosnia and Herzegovina and on the east by Serbia, is formerly known as the Republic of Yugoslavia. The Adriatic Sea forms Croatia’s long western border.
The view from our ship took our breath away, instantly eliminating any disappointment any of us may have had for missing Athens.  At this point, neither of us was motivated to visit more ruins and Dubrovnik didn’t disappoint with nary a “ruin” but well preserved streets, buildings, narrow passageways, quaint shops and restaurants.

With no available tenders, our ship, the Norwegian Spirit, decided to use its own lifeboats to transport us from the harbor to the shore. Gee, we hope it’s the only time we’ll see the inside of a lifeboat! 

Yep!  Lots of cruise ship tourists.  It would be ideal to visit this city in the off season.

Tomorrow, we’ll be nearing the end of this cruise, as the ship sails soon toward Venice, Italy. Also, our bags will be packed, awaiting pickup outside of our cabin door by tomorrow, Saturday,  at 11:00 pm while we keep our digital equipment in our possession along with clothing and toiletries to disembark on Sunday.

Sorry, no time to edit out stranger’s heads.

Taking a cab to the airport to pick up our rental car, we will begin the four hour drive to our new residence in Lucca in the Tuscany region.  Today, we printed our rental car confirmation, directions and a map to the property and a list of all of the foods I can and cannot eat, in Italian, to be used when we dine while in Italy.

Could it be more enticing?

With no room in our luggage, buying anything was out of the question, but nonetheless tempting with the wide array of handcrafted items at every turn.

This parrot was sitting atop a woman’s head.

Twice, we stopped for beverages, once by ourselves and a second time when joining our new friends, Nicole and Gerry.

.
Tom enjoyed the local beer.Not a big soda drinker it was the only beverage available without sugar. Ice wasn’t available, not unusual as we’ve found in many countries.

Another view of the square as we worked our way back to the lifeboat.

The architecture continued to be impressive.

 

 At the pier as we were boarding the lifeboat for our return to the ship.

Looking forward to “settling down” for the next few months while we tour Italy a day or two each week, sharing the details and photos of our outings and, of course, the minutiae of our daily lives, living in a country where we don’t speak the language as we learn the culture and embrace the local customs and lifestyle.

We’ll be back tomorrow from Venice!