Tag Archives: Blind Community

☀️ #45 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Corsica” 🇫🇷 (2017)

Corsica logo

Bonjour mes amis (Good Morning My Friends

No way we’re in Corsica! My lovely wife Sarah is going to kill me for ruining this post with another of my digressions…But my fave cars of all time raced here and i can’t contain myself….Yes it’s Group B rally cars!  

Awwww i can hear that ferocious engine sound (and the monster dump valve) of one of my favourite cars…The Lancia Delta S4. It had an Abarth-designed supercharged and turbocharged 500bhp 1.8-litre engine, it could hit 60mph in just over two seconds…And this was 1986! 

But…After a fatal accident (here in Corsica) Group B rally cars were banned and a FISA investigation later proved that drivers’ reactions were too slow to keep up with Group B cars, and drivers’ eyes could not adjust their focus between the fast corners, which caused tunnel vision. Now that’s fast…And insane!! 

They said the cars had so much raw power but with little containment…I have a wife like that, lol! Sorry Sarah! 🤣  

What is the ‘Tour de course’ for the blind sightseers today…

A visit to Corsica’s most southern tip is on the cards on this tour. On the drive over, you’ll stop at Roccapina, where you can see the lion-shaped granite rock that looks over the Genoese tower – it’s an opportunity for some great photos. Once you arrive in Bonifacio, the mini train will take you past the ruins of three mills, and the Church of St Dominique. You’ll also be treated to panoramic views over the neighbouring island of Sardinia. You’ll continue on foot to the citadel – your guide will tell you all about the chapel of St John the Baptist, and the 14th-century Church of Saint Marie Majuere. The walking tour finishes up in the marketplace. From there, you can brave the 100 steps down to the marina. Or, hop back on the mini train and it will get you there.

Next, you’ll be boarding a boat for a tour of the Bonifacio caves. From the sea, you’ll have views over the town, perched on top of 230-feet-high limestone cliffs. You’ll see Sdragonatto cave, meaning the little dragon – it’s shaped like Corsica. The tour wraps up with some free time – you can sit in a café, or do some shopping.

On the coach… 

After another lovely breakfast we started our exciting tour. The weather was hot but very windy so a little unpredictable today. After a while the coach stopped at the side of the road and we got off to take some photos.

Rolling green hills of Corsica

 Wow what a view! Hang on…Fasten your 5 point safety harness as Sarah is drifting towards another stupendous panorama! 😀    

Sarah panorama of the whole field and hills of Corsica

Sarah on a sunny day with the Corsican coast behind her

 Then…The wind started to blow really fast (or was it an old Group B rally car screening past)  and Sarah took this funny photo of me. 

A funny picture of me on the right of the poto with y hair bowing all over the place behind me

 Whilst watching us taking photos of each other a kind person from our coach took a photo of me and my lovely wife Sarah! Yay one more i can cherish!  ❤️ 

me and Sahar in front of the beautiful Corsican hills

 The crazy boat…

Arriving at Bonifacio we were meant to go on a boat ride alongside the legendary cliffs and even steer through a small cave/rock but the weather was too windy and the sea too rough and choppy. 

But this is a ‘Blind Sightseers’ tour so we climbed on board. Some of the group opted out and stayed behind to make their way for the town. We were initially disappointed when we sat down in the middle of the boat…But we soon appreciated being sat here! Suddenly a choir of voices shrieking, shouting and laughing as the waves came over the side and drenched everyone except me and Sarah! 🤣    

Selfie of me (bottom right) on the boat with the mountains behind

large hills and beginning of caves

 The boat was bobbing up and down lots which was great for me as i can’t see what’s around us but i like the tactile fun bobbing and splashing…Thankfully i don’t get sea sick! 😀  Then we entered this really dark narrow rock. 

Dark photo inside the caves in Corsica whilst still in the boat

Inside the caves in Corsica with darkness all around and the light in the centre

Inside the caves in Corsica with darkness all around and the light in the centre

Inside the caves in Corsica with darkness all around and the light in the centre

Back on the waves with a island sticking out of the water.jpg

 The stunning cliffs of Bonifacio…. 

The fantastic cliffs of Corsica

The fantastic cliffs of Corsica

The fantastic cliffs of Corsica

 The fun train…

After the memorable bumpy boat ride it was time to be escorted to the top of the cliffs by…”No way it’s not a Lancia Delta S4 is it?” I said “No but it’s a fun train similar to the one in Hunstanton that we like” Sarah said whilst pushing (i mean guiding) me into a seat. 😀   

Yay the fantastic fun train to take us to the top

Me stood in the centre of the photo in the town

Me stood in the centre of the twon in Corsica

Me stood in the centre of the twon in Corsica

 Then…

Whilst heel toe shifting, maintaining perfect balance and keeping up turbo boost pressure Sarah manages another monumental panorama

Super Sarah panorama of the Corsica coast ond hills

Photo of the shadows of me and Sarah

Me stood under a huge palm tree

Photo of Sarah under a tree with the Corsica hills in the background

The steps going down from the top of the cliffs

Beautiful view of Corsica from under a tree

Sarah sat against a wall with the hills of Corsica behind her

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View of Corsica

me stood far right with a eautiful Corsica behind

Me stood with Corsica behind me

view of Corsica town

 We had such a lovely time exploring the upper city in this special place. First we found a cafe and quickly ordered coffees and a coissont (no it didn’t beat the Amalfi coissont but it came close) then found a souvenir shop. We bought a fantastic bath towel with beautiful photo prints of Bonifacio! After exploring further it was time to catch the fun train back down and meet the group ready to head back to the ship. 

Back on the ship…

After another lovely evening meal we stumbled upon these creations made out of fruit an vegetables! 😀   

Fantastic food creations by the chefs

Fantastic food creations by the chefs

Fantastic food creations by the chefs

Fantastic food creations by the chefs

Fantastic food creations by the chefs

 We hope you’ve enjoyed Corsica? We’ve had a fantastic time and made so many memories. 

We are not out of fuel yet…I wonder where we’re going to end up tomorrow?

To be continued… 

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☀️ #44 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Rome, Italy” 🇮🇹 (2017)

Rome logo

   Buongiorno amici (Good morning friends)  

Yesterday we visited Sorrento, Amalfi and Pompeii all in 1 day (we don’t mess about, lol) it’s time for 11 hours of a gladiatorian excursion…I hope you don’t think you’ve come on holiday to relax! 🤣  

Where are the blind sightseers going today… 

Rome & The Colosseum shore excursion…

From the toga-wearing days of Julius Caesar to the artistic boom of the Baroque, Rome is a city that catapults you through time. It’s as if history seeps from every cobblestone, and traversing it all is no mean feat. And that’s where this tour comes in. It showcases the very best the Eternal City has to offer – plus it gives you an inside view of two if its biggest attractions.

The trip follows a classic itinerary through the heart of the Italian capital. You’ll get to see global landmarks that need no introduction – places like the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. But one of the biggest highlights has to be the Colosseum. Head inside and relive the days of the gladiators as you wander round this ancient landmark.

This is going to be a clash of the Titans, i wonder if the Gladiators have met my ‘Warrior Wife’ yet? Sarah (dressed in her new camo skirt) is ready! Ok i’ll start being serious now. 🤣  

The walking tour…

First our guide gave us the radio ear thingy so we could hear him over the noise of the crowds as Rome is a busy city. Then it was time to get walking! Once again i’ll shut up for a while as you enjoy this beautiful and majestic place. 

Sarah walking towards the camera down the centre of a busy street in Rome with tall building s on either side

Sarah walking towards the camera down the centre of a busy street in Rome with tall building s on either side

Beautiful old building in Rome

Old buildings in Rome

Sarah drinking a coffee at a cafe/restaurant outside

A really tall ponty tower with a large building at the bottom

Me at centre front of the photo wearing sunglasses stood in the large main square in Rome

Walking along the left hand side of a street behind our group

Old church building

Crowded square with buildings all around

The Spanish Steps… 

Me stood on the many steps

Really busy lane with lots of tall buildings all around

Inside a huge building

Beautiful old building 

my face in the bottom right corner and a colourful sign with the old building on

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Wow we’ve been walking for hours but then a kind member of our group asked dif we’d like a photo together.  😀   

Me and Sarah

Then a street artist type dude…  

A random colourful street artist

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The Pantheon… 

The panthyon

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The front of the panthyon

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Old buildings

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Selfie of me and Sarah

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main square in Rome looking cloudy

Free time…

Just as the guide had told us we had 40 minutes free time…The clouds moved in and darkened the whole place. It started raining and instantly umbrellas sprang up from nowhere, stall workers flipped over their items and were selling umbrellas all of a sudden and we ran into a shop! I’d never seen anything like it, it was like somebody had hit the secret bookshelf and it’d flipped around without anyone noticing. 🤣  

“Ooohhhhh” Sarah said as she picked up and tried to show me a massive hand made intricately designed Christmas tree bauble. “This would look wonderful on our tree this year”. 😀   

main square in Rome looking cloudy and raining

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looking upwards at a fantastic building stood at the entrance

Ancient building

The river in rome taken from the coach

portrait of me on the coach

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The Colosseum…

Wow what a piece of history and to think what went on in this arena was sobering….Especially after just finishing the audiobook ‘Foxe’s book of Martyrs’ by John Foxe. 

The Architecture is simply stunning.

The outside of the Colosseum with all of the arches

Sarah taking a photo over looking the iside of the Colosseum

more ruins of the Colosseum

more ruins of the Colosseum the main ring with the large walls around

Colosseum arch

Colosseum ruins

Colosseum ruins

Colosseum arches

Colosseum arches and ruins

More Colosseum ruins

More Colosseum ruins

The outside of the Colosseum with all of the arches

The outside of the Colosseum with all of the arches

The outside of the Colosseum with all of the arches

More ruins of the Colosseum

 I thought for a moment that Sarah had found a gladiator to fight…But she was lining up one of her mighty panoramas…Lucky for the gladiator!  

Sarah panorama of the whoe inside of the Colosseum

Sarah panorama of the whoe inside of the Colosseum

Ruins of the Colosseum

Back on the ship…

Wow what a day and what an incredible place. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as us? Have you been to Rome before? 

After the ship set sail and we were thinking about all of the places we’d seen today,..There was just enough time to… 

Sarah in a black and white dress stood in front of lots of hand bags in the ship shop

I wonder where we’re going tomorrow? 🤔 We’ve already seen some fantastic ‘Treasures of the Mediterranean’ and there are still more gems to see.

To be continued… 

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☀️ #43 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Sorrento, Amalfi & Pompeii Italy” 🇮🇹 (2017)

Sorrento logo

  Buongiorno amici (Good morning friends)  

We are really looking forwards to todays excursion. It’s going to be a long one but Sarah’s dad always talks about how beautiful Sorento and the Amalfi coast is, and if we ever get the chance to visit…You’ll love it. 😀  
 
Well the blind sightseers have arrived in Sorrento and after a lovely breakfast we’re ready for the excursion.

Amalfi & Pompeii…

You’ll tick off 2 of the Neapolitan Riviera’s heavyweights on this tour. We’ll start with a camera-worthy journey along the Amalfi Coast, one of the most scenic drives in the world. We’ll snake along dramatic cliffs, passing castles that cling to the hillsides and pastel-painted villages that tumble down to the Tyrrhenian Sea below. When we arrive in Amalfi, we’ll tour the town’s historical heart and you’ll have some free time to explore and grab a bite to eat.

UNESCO-listed Pompeii will be our next port of call. Sitting in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, the town was buried for centuries by ash and pumice after the volcano blew its top in 79AD. You’ll have almost 2 hours to explore the ruins, starting with the Forum and meandering past mansions, temples and amphitheatres.

On the coach…

You’ll be pleased to know i don’t need to write much as  you’ll just see how beautiful this place really  is.

The Amalfi coast…  

Beautiful rolling hills and mountains of the Amalfi coast

Beautiful rolling hills and mountains of the Amalfi coast

Beautiful rolling hills and mountains of the Amalfi coast

Sarah looking out across the beautiful bay of Amalfi

The beautiful Amalfi coast and te town buldings and rolling hills and mountains

Amalfi town… 

After a lovely drive along the wonderful Amalfi coast, time seemed to just fly by as we arrived in the town. We had quite a long period of free time to enjoy this incredible place. We headed straight for the sea, and after a while we managed to find this tiny dock thingy.

The beautiful Amalfi coast and te town buldings and rolling hills and mountains

Sarah sat on the very small dock with her feet off the end taking a photo of a ship that is fust in shot

 It was a little oasis away from the crowds and we could either look out to sea or look back and see the town…Wow. 😀   

Sarah stood on the edge of the small dock with sea all around her and mountains in the background

 Wait for it… 

Sarah stood on the edge of the small dock with sea all around her and mountains in the background.jpg whilst showing her guns again in the bicepts pose

Yay…Now we’ve arrived! 💪🏼 

Before exploring the busy part of town (the centre) we thought we’d try walking up the hill to see how far the town goes, Wow it’s beautiful up here!

Sarah looking out over the beautiful Amalfi bay

 The Cafe, Coffee and THE Ccissont…

Yay we found a little coffee shop and Sarah said “we have to try the croissants with a black coffee”. We sat outside and i said “Wooaaaahhh have you tried your croissant yet? It’s the best one i’ve ever tasted” “Mmmmmmm” Sarah said and that’s all i needed to hear. 😀  

Every croissant we’ve had since eating this one 3 years ago has had to be compared with this one. It’s still the remaining champion as no other croissant anywhere has even come close!  

Me sat in the sun outside the cafe eating a coissant and drinking an espresso ith the road right in front of me

Me sat in the sun outside the cafe eating a coissant and drinking an espresso ith the road right in front of me

The centre of town….

This town was good for us as it wasn’t very big and we thought it’d be hard for us to get lost. Walking into the town we found a lovely gift shop, both me and Sarah got a souvenir. Sarah bought another t-shirt with Amalfi across the front and i bought a great Amalfi vest. 😀  

We left the shop and found the natural spring fountain the tour guide was talking about and Sarah went over for a drink. 

Sarah drinking from the natural water fountain in the Amalfi square

Sarah walking away with wet hands after Sarah drinking from the natural water fountain in the Amalfi square

Sarah was soaking and was walking towards me…Yes she spun around like a helicopter and soaked me through. 🤣  She said she wanted to cool me down as i was too hot again…But she also enjoyed soaking me too, a win-win situation. ! 🤣 

Now time to explore the backstreets… 

Me walking down some stairs in a built up town

Me walking down some stairs in a built up town

Me walking down some stairs in a built up town

Me looking out to sea aurrounded by the Amalfi town

Time for another attempt at a selfie with my lovely wife Sarah… 

Me and Sarah in a selfie with our sunglasses on and the mountains in the background

Then Sarah stretches and lines herself up to take some stunning panoramas… 😀  

Sarah panorama of the Amalfi sea, road and mountains in the background

Sarah panorama of the Amalfi sea, road and mountains in the background and me in the centre of the photo

Sarah panorama of the Amalfi sea, road and mountains in the background

What a beautiful place. 

Sarah panorama of the Amalfi sea, road and mountains in the background and me in the centre of the photo

Sarah panorama of the Amalfi sea, road and mountains in the background

Back on the coach…

Wow what a lovely town., it’s now time to head towards Pompeii.

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Ancient building

rolling hills from the coach

rolling hills from the coach

Pompeii…

We followed the group towards a square near the main gate entrance. The guide said “Now it’s time for you to try the amazing local Margharita pizza. Wow…This was the best Margharita pizza i’ve ever tasted and also sets the bar at the top of the ‘Blind Sightseers Pizza Leaderboard’. 😀  

Moving swiftly on we walked through the main gate on onto the excellently preserved ruins. I’ll shut up for a moment whilst you sit back and enjoy the photos, lol! 😀 

Long line of ancient pillars

Long line of ancient pillars

The guide was really knowledgable and gave us a lot of history on this place. 

The ancient town

The ancient town

The ancient town and a line of pillars

the amphitheatre

Why struggle and take lots of shots when you can fit everything into…A stupendous Sarah panorama! 😀  

Sarah panorama of the whole row of ancient buildings

The walking…

Yay the blind sightseers have found the worst walking conditions to date, it was horrendous! As many of you know i can’t see much and i certainly can’t see my feet never mind the path. I have no idea how Sarah guided me around this place…But she managed it. I owe all of my holidays to her as i couldn’t do anything without her…Never-mind get to see some of the most beautiful places in the world! ❤️ 😀

My new walking sandals were great and protected my toes from being stubbed at least a few times. They allowed my ankles to roll over without snapping and had great grip when i needed it. 

The main road which is crumpled and cracked but nicely maintained

The main road which is crumpled and cracked but nicely maintained

another row of ancient buildings

another row of ancient buildings

A row of clumns on the left and a narrow path leading straight forward

We finally managed to go inside the beautiful buildings and hide from the burning sun. ☀️   

insdie one of the buildings

insdie one of the buildings

We were coming to the end of our walking tour of Pompeii and after a few more statues we ended up at the Centaur statue.  

Our group crowding around a statue

The statue of Centaur… 

Statue

One last Sarah panorama… 

Sarah panorama of group

Back at the ship…

Wow what a memorable shore excursion! We talk about this trip all of the time…Oh wait, we talk about all of our adventures! 🤣  

After the excursion (but before the evening meal) we enjoy going out on deck to enjoy the fantastic coast line whilst looking back on the day. It’s also a great time to take a few shots of my lovely wife Sarah! ❤️ 

Sarah stood on the ship with the coatline gehind he

Sarah with arms out stretched welcoming you to Sorrento

Then Sarah spotted a boat which looked like it was heading towards our ship. I said “It’s not ‘Gibbs’ again and the NCIS special agents looking for the blind sightseers? They must have followed us from Montenegro, lol!”  “No i think it’s just a tender boat” 🤣   

A little boat zig zagging across the sea with the town in the background

Close up of the little boat now pulled up alongside the ship whilst leaving lots of frothy waves behind

Quiet reflection… 

Sarah (on right) leaning on the ship rail and looking out over the sea to the land ahead

Being blind and guided (expertly) by Sarah throughout each day normally gives me a massive headache as there is just too much external stimuli. My sight is super blurry and walking around quickly whilst listening intently to Sarah (as don’t want to break my ankles, legs or worse) and trying to learn lots of history from the guide is simply too much to process. It’s like trying to use modern day apps when i can only process things as fast as an old Commodore 64. Awww i remember my dad breaking lots of joysticks trying to beat me on ‘The way of the exploding fist’ game…But i digress! Oh yes i was trying to say i really enjoy everything being quiet as i lean on the rail and give thanks. 😀     

Sarah taking a photo of the sunset and landscape from the ship

Just when you think you’ve had another incredible day…You’re blessed with a beautiful sunset. 

Sunse over the coastline

Sunse over the coastline

Sunse over the coastline  with arches in the front

sunset over the coastline

Me and Sarah trying to take a selfie with the sunset behind us from the ship

Beautiful sunset from the ship

Beautiful sunset from the ship

Beautiful sunset from the ship

Wow…What a beautiful part of the world. Thanks for joining us again on our incredible, breathtaking and above all memorable tour. 😀  

I wonder where we’re going tomorrow? 🤔

To be continued… 

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☀️ #42 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Trapani, Sicily” 🇮🇹 (2017)

Trapani logo

 Buongiorno amici (Good morning friends)  

No way…We’re in Sicily! One of our favourite places to eat is Sicily Restaurant and we always say when speaking to Grace or Dora “We come to Sicily but we’ve never been to Sicily!” Now that has changed, yay! 😀  

Now we’re here let’s see what we’ll be doing…

To see the best of Sicily, you have to climb to great heights. And on this trip you’ll do exactly that. After a coach drive to the cable station, you’ll take the cable car up to the top of a mountain. Take in the view out over the Trapani salt pans, the turquoise sea and all the way to the Egadi Islands – it’s breathtaking. While you’re up here, you’ll explore the Medieval town that is Erice. Wander the winding cobbled streets. Visit the Mother Church that’s stood here for over 700 years. And admire the Castle of Venus where the son of Athena, goddess of love, built a temple in his mother’s honour. But save some sighs for the gorgeous Balio Gardens in all their rainbow bright glory. Last but not least you’ll have time to enjoy the atmosphere in Erice’s dinky plaza, before you take the cable car back down to the ship.

Yay…I love cable cars, and we’ve already been on 2 during this lockdown memory tour (see Gibraltar and Matlock Bath).

Leaving the ship…

The breakfast on the Thomson Majesty didn’t disappoint and we stepped out into the warm sunshine. It’’s September so it’s not boiling hot (28˚C) but it’s much warmer than England. 😀 Boarding the coach was fine and it wasn’t long before we we’re driving through the beautiful Sicilian streets and hills. 

The cable cars…

The cable car seated about 10 people (all in a circle) and we all instantly started chatting about our experiences on cruise ships, other cruises and if we’d been to Sicily before? As this is now our 4th cruise (unbelievable) we sounded like seasoned professionals, lol! 🤣  

Then it fell silent as we climbed higher and we all caught sight of the view… 

view from the cabe car looking down the rolling hills down to the sea

I’m not sure i’d like cable cars half as much as i do if i was fully sighted. I think it’s because i can’t really tell how high i am as i’m actually a bit scared of heights! 😀   

Sarah said “Steve stop looking out of the window, face me and have your photo taken”. 

Me smiling at the camera sat in the cable car view from the cabe car looking down the rolling hills down to the sea

Beautiful land and secape looking down the rolling hills and into the sea

 Surely it’s not that time already?? It’s much to early to be stunned by another blisteringly stupendous Sarah panorama…

Stupendous panorama Beautiful land and secape looking down the rolling hills and into the sea

Hang on…Here’s another…

Stupendous panorama Beautiful land and secape looking down the rolling hills and into the sea

Eris…

Wow this place was incredible. It was quite surreal to have climbed so high in the cable car to get to this beautiful town. The colours were so vivid as the bright buildings contrasted the deep blue sky.  

stunning buildings at the top of the cable cars in Trapini, Sicily

Narrow road with building either side really tall

Following the guide was hard work as the narrow lanes/walkways had large stones (about 4 inches) and were fantastic at tripping you up or stubbing your toe on, if you were lucky you’d do both. But the blind sightseers  don’t let little details like that stop us, lol! 😀  

Once we’d walked (and walked) to the very top of the town a Sicilian man came with a horse (maybe donkey i can’t see it or remember, lol) and carriage and played some traditional Sicilian music on his Harmonium.

The plaza…

We had about half an hour free time and Sarah & i quickly went to find a souvenir shop. The main item of sale was the Sicilian nougat which we didn’t really want as Sarah is diabetic. The plaza was beautiful and we spent some time wondering around until we got to sit down.

Sarah sat down with the stunning buildings behind her

Eris was a stunning place and we’re so blessed to be able to visit…But now back to the cable cars. 

Sarah in shadow on the left looking out of the cable car to the sea below and the coastline of the right

 Back at the dock…

After a quick refresh on the ship we were ready to explore! The dock was nice and flat and had lots of multi coloured boats in long rows so we looked around here first. Wait a minute…Did Sarah buy one of these little boats in the souvenir shop at Eris, lol! 🤣   

Sarah bent down and looking into one of the boats in a long row at the dock

Sarah stood in front of lots of colourful boats in the dock at SicilySarah stood in front of lots of colourful boats in the dock at Sicily

Of course we can’t leave Sicily without Sarah’s Sicilian victory pose… 

Sarah showing her guns in a victory pose stood in front of lots of colourful boats in the dock at Sicily

Trapani town…

We left the dock and started walking along the first street we came to. We noticed that the streets were in a big square and if we walked all the way round we’d end up back here without getting lost…Here goes.

“Oh it looks like all of the shops and cafe’s are closed” Sarah said sounding a little disappointed. We continued along the second street and still nothing was open. “We might as well return to the dock” Sarah said “I only wanted to try some Arancini in Sicily” We always order these in ‘Sicily Restaurant’ back home so i thought whilst we were here i’d try one too. 

Turning right again onto the 3rd street of the square i was increasingly despondent and crestfallen.

But suddenly…

Sarah says with plenty of excitement “Steve look, i think…Yes i’m sure it is…Let me go and see if i’m right” Sarah walks quickly ahead and upon her return says “Steve you’re going to love this” taking my hand (as i was heartbroken) she led me into a little shop (which is the only one open around here) which only cooked Arancini!! I simply couldn’t believe it! We ordered a couple of different flavours and an espresso too! 😲 

me sat outside the Arancinu place with the arancini on a plate with a coffee

Wow…Now all that is left is the taste test…  

Me sat outside eating a Arancini wearing my sunglasses

Awww unbelievable now that tastes great! Yet another moment i won’t stop talking about. 🤣  

After a lovely time relaxing, eating Arancini and drinking espresso in the sun it was time to head back to the ship. walking around the last corner of the square we noticed a tiny market stall selling hats. I said “I wonder if they sell a hat with Sicily on for Vini (Nephew) who loves collecting baseball caps?” They did (i holding it in the image below). 

me stood on the dock carrying the blue sicily baseball cap i'd just bought with the seascape of boats behind me

Yay the ship is here… 

Sarah in a ruined wall with the ship in the background

Oh no i don’t think i have enough energy left to be able to  take another stupendous, Magnificent and sublime Sarah panorama… She keeps top trumping my photography, lol! 🤣  

Sarah paorama of the whole dock from behind a wall

Back at the ship…

Me stood underneath the front of the ship with Thomson MAJESTY WRITTEN ON THE SIDE ABOVE MY HEAD

ME STOOD UNDERNEATH THE FRONT OF THE SHIP THAT LOOKS HUGE AND IS TOWERING OVER ME

Sorry guys but no towel folding creatures on this ship!

The blind sightseers had a lovely time in Sicily and we’d definitely return (if we get the chance after lockdown) as there are many more shore excursions for us to try all over Sicily.

We hope you’ve enjoyed Sicily and this new ship? It’s such a blessing to see you here.😀  

To be continued…  

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☀️ #18 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “St Johns, Antigua”🇦🇬

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After another early start(and you’ve guessed it) a bacon roll, we headed off the ship. The shore excursion lady was at the bottom of the gangway steps, and she showed us where to join the queue. Well i say queue, there were only about 8 of us in total. I thought “I think we may have over reached on this one. Maybe it’s going to be too difficult, and really not suited for the blind”. 

We were then led towards the minibus. We were told they’d saved us the 2 seats in the front next to the driver, i said “Sweet”, and climbed aboard. I really didn’t expect what happened next…the driver turned on his CD player which started playing Ed Sheeran “Thinking out loud” and he started singing as i tapped away on my legs to the beat. His voice was incredible, it was like we were having our own concert in the front of the minibus, whilst driving around paradise.  Quite a surreal moment. After more fantastic singing to Tarrus Riley’s  “She’s Royal”, he pulled up at Fort James Beach where we were to start our horse ride.

Welcome to Paradise…

We left the minibus and were instantly greeted with a stunning view of porcelain palm fringed sands, and stilted turquoise waters of Fort James beach, also we received a further warm welcome by the “Horseman(sorry, i forgot his name)”. 🙂 

St John beach with a palm tree on the left and a life guard seat on the right

St John beach 2

Photo of the horse instructor walking across the beautiful beach

 ⇧ The horseman strolling along the beautiful beach ⇧  

A couple of horses on the left walking across the amazing beach

⇧ Horses being led to the sea to cool off ⇧  

The Horse Ride…

Once everyone was fitted with a protective hat, it was time to line up and meet the horses. He asked for experienced riders first, then one at a time they mounted the horses. It was about this time i started to get a little nervous. I was saying to Sarah “How do we get up there? Are there steps? Which foot do i put forward first? Are the horses big enough to carry me?”

The horseman was out of earshot, but i think he could see my face, he said “Don’t worry, i have a couple of special horses for you two”. This put my mind a little more at ease. Sarah mounted first on the horse named “Sunshine”, what a perfect horse for her! 🙂 Then i mounted easily with the excellent help from horseman onto the horse named “Little Man”, 

After a short tutorial on how to hold(and use) the reins, it was time to move on out! We had only walked along next to a road for about a minute, and i’d just got used to the weird motion of rocking side to side whilst not being able to see the ground or the horse in front. When…a huge commotion…Lots of shouting from horseman, and the horses. I thought(at first) it sounded like a car had hit one of the horses. I pulled back on the reins as i saw Sarah(who was in front of me) appear at my side, Yay my horse stopped! 🙂 We found out at the end, that a car got too close and spooked a few of the horses, so no one(or horses) were hurt.

My plan was to take my Samsung WB550 compact camera with me to take photos & video whilst on the horse, but that was soon foiled when i got onto the horse, and my shorts were pulled tight around my pocket, so it had seal it shut. I didn’t want to try and move, as i thought the horse might mistaken my movements and start galloping off!. I did eventually get an opportunity when my foot suddenly got smacked out of the stirrup by an aloe vera plant(it got a few of us), and as my leg was free i quickly grabbed my camera! 🙂 Note to self, next time take my other camera with a neck strap! 🙂 

The horseman who was overseeing us said “Welcome to Sandhaven Beach”…

A photo of the back of my horses head with a beautiful seacape all around

⇧ “Little Man” taking me on a beautiful journey 🙂 ⇧ 

Photo of Sarah on her horse riding across stunning beach landscape with my orange shirt at the bottom as i took the photo over my shoulder

⇧ Sarah on “Sunshine” & in sunshine, along Sandhaven beach ⇧ 

Sarah on her horse looking inland as she rides across the stunning beach

Sarah looking out to sea as she rides along the stunning Sandhaven beach

⇧ Sarah ensconced in Sunshine! 🙂 ⇧ 

Words completely fail me when i try and describe the feeling of riding in paradise. The sound of the waves, the feel of the hot sun with the cool breeze, the movement(and sound) of the horse, topped off with the amazing panorama. We really didn’t want to leave our new fave place on earth!! 🙂 

We left Sandhaven beach and headed back to Fort James beach. We’d been riding for around 1½ hours, and just before we finished, the man asked for my cameras so he could take a photo of us on our horses.

My horse “little Man” was busy eating grass, i think he had my appetite! 🙂 

Photo of me9left and Sarah(right) sat on top of our horses. My horse is eating grass

 ⇧ “Little Man & “Sunshine” ⇧ 

Once off the horses, we were given a bottle of water each as they prepared for stage 2. Stage 2 gave the chance for the experienced riders to ride faster(or gallop as i’m told), and the chance to ride bareback into the water. Sarah and another lady paired up together to do this. 

Sarah bareback riding

Sarah said “I was sat trying to balance without a saddle, when suddenly i was thrown back as one of my legs was pulled up. I looked down to see that the horse had taken a liking to one of my bright yellow laces, and was pulling on it as though it was spaghetti! 🙂 

Once stage 2 was over, we had about 45 minutes before the singing taxi arrived. “No way, does this mean you get to swim in paradise again?!” i said as Sarah was already half way down the beach!! 🙂 

The Swim…

Sarah running towards the empty sea

⇧ Sarah excited to be the only one in the beautiful sea ⇧  

Sarah submerged in the turquoise sea. The whole sea is empty apart from Sarah

⇧ What a way to relax! 🙂 ⇧  

Sarah walking towards me from out of the sea after her swim

Sarah portrait St John

 ⇧ I think Sarah enjoyed her swim! 🙂 ⇧ 

The taxi ride was just as fun. The drivers stunning voice carried us all the way back to the ship.

 Back on the ship…

We now had to say goodbye to the Caribbean. 😦 We took our usual sofa’s in the coffee port, and with coffee’s in hand, we watched the island slowly disappear. We both agreed that this was our fave place of the trip, and the horse ride was our best experience so far!!

Our new friend…

On returning to our cabin, the steward had created a folded towel turtle, and used my hat as the shell, fantastic!!  🙂 

Folded turtle from towels with my hat as the shell

Our Route 4 2day…

This afternoon Thomson Dream sails to Horta, Portugal, we’ll arrive on Sunday late morning, after 5 leisurely days at sea. having travelled 2,173 nautical miles, at an average speed of 16 knots.

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☀️ #17 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Basseterre, St Kitts”🇰🇳

St Kitts logo

 

Our excursion today “St Kitts Scenic Railway” didn’t start until 11am, so we had a more relaxed breakfast at Lido’s on Deck 9. Then another lovely coffee at the Coffee Port on Deck 8. Now we had sustenance, it was down to Deck 4 and off the ship to enjoy what today had in store for us?! 🙂    

Welcome to St Kitts… 

Once an illustrious sugar colony, it now focusses its efforts on being a tropical paradise. A seductive blend of blonde sandss, and duck egg blue seas. 

Once we slowly navigated down the gangway steps, we looked up to see a view of the beautiful bay. 

The Caribbean never failed to surprise us, even when we thought we had seen the most beautiful places, the next place would leave us awe-struck with it’s breathtaking landscapes! 

A panorama taken from the dock pier overlooking the amazing span of volcano hills with the vivid blu sea in front

⇧ Sarah’s Panorama of St Kitts ⇧ 

 

As i was taking a photo of Sarah, a nice lady came over and asked if we would like her to take one of us both together? “Oh yes please, that would be so kind of you”. The photo she took is probably my fave photo of the trip! 🙂 

Me on the left in my bright orange shirt hugging Sarah on the right with the beautiful panorama of volcanic hills and blue sea behind us

⇧ Sarah & i at St Kitts ⇧

Showing my excitement, and love for the Caribbean. Sarah chose(and bought) me an amazingly bright and colourful Caribbean shirt, 🙂

Excursion Details – St Kitts Scenic Railway…

First up, board a tour bus for a drive along the south coast. Important landmarks lie around every corner here.

Second, hop on a train at the “Needs-Must” station, and St Kitts light railway takes you on a 3 hour tour of the islands best bits. You’ll chug over ravines over 300 feet deep, circle mount Liamuga volcano, take a sneak peak at the islands black sand beaches, and soak up the jaw dropping views over lush sugar cain fields,

The Bus…

Another soothing air conditioned bus ride. Our tour guide was fantastic, and told us all about the Economy, history(some grusome battles), and the monkeys! She said “Around 100,000 monkeys live in the tree covered hills, and they steal our fruit etc. So if you want to take one with you, it will help us greatly!”.

View from the bus at St Kitts

⇧ A view from the bus window ⇧ 

The Train…

We got off the bus at the “Needs-Must” station. The hot sun felt lovely as we waited for the train. We had no idea what to expect, and looking at the small narrow train tracks, we expected a little open top fun train, or something like. 

Then…this large double decker monster pulled up. “Wow, i didn’t expect that! It’s really tall, and doesn’t look wide enough to take the height”. I said as we climbed the stairs to the upper deck of the 1st carriage. “Yes! We get to sit at the front too! Unbelievable”.

As the train pulled away, the tour guide told us that the train will sway(strongly) side to side, so it’s best to stay seated, but if you want to stand then keep hold of the rail above the seats. She wasn’t joking!! It was the craziest train i’d ever been on, and i thought there is no way i can take photos whilst being violently thrown around! 

But…as usual, i didn’t let that stop me! My Nikkor lens has VR(Vibration Reduction) on it, so i’ll test it out. I really didn’t expect to have any photos from this amazing, unforgettable train ride, but was surprised when a few turned out not too blurry!  

We started off travelling through vivid green fields flanked by volcanos.

St Kitts 1

St Kitts 2

Then just as a lady asked us if we wanted a “Pina Colada”, we saw the first of many beautiful curved bays, with the sea crashing into the shore.

St Kitts 3

Sarah & i just kept saying “Wow, this is Amazing! How did we get here, it’s like a dream”. The beautiful hot sun shining down, a lovely cool breeze flowing through the train, and a Pina Colada in hand. Some of my fave things are Coconut, Banana and Pineapple, and this drink had them all! Mmmmm. 🙂  

St Kitts Train

Then as the train curled its way through the lush landscape, a 3 part harmony choir started singing. The ladies would come up to our deck and sing some beautiful songs as part of the trip. The voices were fantastic, and brought even more sunshine to this incredible journey. 🙂 

As the singers finished, we heard a horn next to us, so we all started waving at the people on the fun bus! 🙂 

St Kitts Bus

We were then treated to another stunning bay!

St Kitts 7

St Kitts 6

St Kitts 5

St Kitts 4

After passing through more sugarcane fields, the lady brought us a piece of sugarcane with spices. Wow, it was the nicest sweet thing i’d ever tasted! I always talk about this sugarcane everywhere i go.

Sarah St Kitts Train

⇧ Sarah sat at the front of the train! ⇧  

St Kitts Volcano

The tour guide then said “On your left you will make out the bridge we will be travelling over shortly”. I heard Sarah say “No way, the train isn’t going to make it over that, it looks too small and rickety. Steve, if you could see it, you’d be saying the same!!”. 

Train Bridge 1

Train bridge 2

Yes i would! After seeing this photo, i could tell exactly why Sarah was getting worried! 🙂

After the bridge, we travelled back towards the end of the journey. But not before we were blessed, by what is now my favourite church building.

St Kitts Church

This fantastic train ride came to an end back at “Needs-Must” station, where the bus was ready to take us back to the ship. But before we boarded, we still had a short time to look around the shops at the dock.

I bought another Caribbean shirt(blue one) so i could keep up with the vibrant colours surrounding us from all angles! Sarah even plaited my hair too! 🙂     

My Platt  Blue Caribbean Shirt

⇧ My quiet blue shirt ⇧ 

 Tomorrow will be our last Caribbean island, before we are at sea for 5 days crossing the atlantic for the Azores. 

We’ve booked a horse ride across the beach etc, so i’m a little nervous. But at least the horse isn’t blind(i hope) and will lead the way! Either way, i’m sure it’ll be another unforgettable experience! This holiday has been full of them! 🙂 

 Our Route 4 2day…

This evening Thomson Dream travels to St Johns, Antigua. We’ll arrive tomorrow morning having travelled 61 nautical miles, at an average speed of 4 knots.

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☀️ #16 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Philipsburg, St Maarten”🇸🇽

Philipsburg St Maarten Logo

After a quick bacon roll from Lido’s on Deck 9, Sarah & i found our way off the ship, and to the shore excursion point. 

St Maarten Island Tour…(excursion details)

Flying under two flags, St Maarten has got something of a split personality. But despite being one half Dutch and the other French, its whole is as Caribbean as it gets. And on this trip you’ll get to see both sides of this two-faced island, with your guide giving you snippets of history as you go

You’ll travel from Philipsburg(Dutch capital) to Marigot(French capital) passing through dinky villages hardly touched by time. Once you reach Marigot, you have some free time to explore this four street-wide city. All patisseries, pavement cafés and designer boutiques, it’s easy to see why it’s known as the French Riviera of the Caribbean.

The Dutch Side…

Our tour started with a drive around the beautiful Dutch side of the island, the air conditioned bus was perfect on this hot day. The guide pretty much told us that this was the place for the profligates. Casinos, night clubs, fast food outlets etc.  I instantly thought of  Mathew 23 “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean”. Not quite in context, but you get the idea! 🙂

I know i keep going on about the vivid colours, i still can’t put into words how stunning they are, i couldn’t get my camera to do them justice! The Colours will be the main thing i remember about the caribbean! 🙂  

Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon…

The driver/tour guide said he’d stop the bus for about 5 minutes so we could take some photos of the bay. “Excellent”, i thought as Sarah & i followed a man with a DSLR who was leaving in a hurry off the bus. I thought “if he is so keen to get off, then it must be a beautiful bay”. But as soon as he had moved to the edge of the cliff, he started saying “Why did he stop here? This is horrible, and a building site! There were much nicer places where he should’ve stopped”.

I ignored his complaining and started taking photos of the scenery i couldn’t see anyway, as i wanted to see what he was talking about when i zoomed in at home after the holiday. I still can’t make out the detail, but what i can see looks beautiful!, and well worth stopping for! 🙂

Photo taken of Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon.jpeg

Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon.jpeg

St Maarten Bay 4

St Maarten Bay

⇧ Lookout Point – Simpson Bay Lagoon ⇧

The French Side…

Moving seamlessly from the Dutch side of the island to the French side, Sarah started to feel a little more at home as the guide said “You won’t find any Burger King, KFC, casino’s etc. You’ll find cafe’s, restaurants, small independent market stores etc”.

After more fascinating history of the island, we pulled into Marigot(French capital), and now had 45 minutes to have a look around! 

Marigot…

 After leaving the bus, we headed straight for the open space where we found another lovely bay 

St Maarten Bay 5

⇧ Marigot bay ⇧ 

After standing a moment to absorb the beauty, it was over to the market to see what we could find.

The smell of the locals cooking on the market was amazing, but Sarah had found a sweet little craft stall. The lady created items from the coral found off the shores St Maarten. “Oooooh, i could have a necklace made from St Maarten”. I knew that to mean “i’m getting one, i just don’t know which one yet?!” 🙂 

close up photo of Sarah's neckolace she bought fromm a market stall in Marigot, St Maarten

⇧ Sarah’s St Maartens Coral Necklace ⇧  

Sarah really was starting to feel at home here,  but we had to get back to the bus! We enjoyed our stop in Marigot, and we said we’d love to spend a week here to investigate more! 🙂

Back On The Ship…

After finishing the island tour, we went back to the ship to get some lunch. We had a few hours before the ship sails away, so we decided to see if we could find a beach!

Sarah always says “The holiday hasn’t properly started until our feet are standing on the sand!!” 🙂 

After a frustrating hour walking from one end of the dock to the other, trying to find transport to take us to a beach. We started heading back to the ship defeated. When.. suddenly a “Water Taxi” sign appeared! Fantastic, lets go! Eventually we got on-board a very busy(yet cool) boat that took us a short distance across the bay. 

After just stepping out of the boat, i heard “Hi Steve and Sarah”. It was Martin, a kind man i sat next too on the plane over to Jamaica. We’d got chatting on the plane about sight loss and coping etc, and he has a Nephew who is suffering at the moment, so i was giving him some resources that may help etc. We Sadi “Hi Martin, are we anywhere near a beach?” He chuckled a little and said “Yeah it’s right here, just walk down this short pier and you won’t miss it” “Fantastic!” “Don’t be long though, you don’t want to miss the ship” Martin said, as he boarded the water taxi. 

Great Bay Beach…

Photo of the beach, with a palm tree on the left, and 2 cruise ships on the right

⇧ View of the cruise ships from Great Bay Beach ⇧ 

The afternoon sun was getting hot now, which must have been why most of the people were inside the bars. But we had been in air conditioning all morning so didn’t mind a bit of sun. 

It also meant that, not only did we get to walk on the powder white sands, but Sarah got to swim in the turquoise waters with hardly anyone around! An amazing experience! 🙂  

Sarah couldn’t believe she was swimming in paradise, and couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day! 🙂 

A full photo of just sea, with Sarah head poking out in the bottom right corner

⇧ Sarah relaxing in paradise ⇧   

close up of Sarah walking out of the see,with the water up to her hips. Sarah is wearing her fave spotted puple swimsuit

landscape shot of Sarah walking out of the turquoise sea, onto yellow sands, with sailing ships in the far distance

⇧ Beautiful! ⇧ 

It really was getting hot now, so we nipped into a small bar for a cold soothing drink. I thought i’d try a Rum & Coke(though i didn’t taste much coke), and Sarah had her fave Mojito. 

We had a last walk up and down the beach before boarding the water taxi back to the ship. What an amazing day! This whole holiday has been simply breathtaking for us, and Sarah still can’t believe she got to swim in the beautiful, warm Caribbean sea! 🙂

Towel Folding & Beyond…

You’ve already seen the fantastic towel folded Elephant on Day 1, and each night the cabin steward folded our bed in amazingly straight lines, but he went one step further. We found Sarah’s nightie folded in this fantastic pattern.

a close up shot of the fantastic pattern folded by the cabin steward on Sarah nightie

a photo of the folded bed covers and Sarahs Folded Nightie 2

⇧ Folded nightie and bed, with chocolate mints on pillows ⇧   

Our Route 4 2day…

This evening Thomson Dream sails to Basseterre, St Kitts. We’ll arrive tomorrow morning having travelled 59 nautical miles at an average of 4 knots.

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☀️ #15 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Road Town, Tortola BVI”🇻🇬

Road town logo

Absorbing  The Landscapes…

As we were at anchor during our visit to Road Town, with local ship’s tender boats transferring us to, and from the shore. We had a little time to take some photos before we left the ship. It was so calm and peaceful as we stood in front of this beautiful landscape.

A view of the front tip of the boat in front of a beautiful landscape

Me on the left taking a photo of the coastline, whilst a boat enters the image from the right. Also the image has a overkill blue filter

⇧ Sorry…i couldn’t resist the overkill blue filter effect! 🙂 ⇧  

A beautiful image of the small islands of Road Town

⇧ The beautiful coastline of Road Town ⇧  

A boat leaving its stream from left to right with the coastline behind it

 ⇧ I listened patiently until the boat that i couldn’t see was hopefully on the right of my shot! 🙂 ⇧ 

Road Town hillside

⇧ The rolling green hills of Road Town ⇧  

After having a fun(bobbing up and down) tender boat ride, we were driven along the coastal road covered in vivid green trees which stroked the tops of brightly coloured bungalows.

The Dolphin Encounter…

We had now arrived at the Prospect Reef Resort where Sarah got into the water to splash around with dolphins that call this place home.

As Sarah’s eye had been closed to keep out infections, we thought it was best to choose the “Dolphin Encounter” instead of the fully immersed  “Swim with Dolphins”. We just couldn’t risk it! 

I booked the “Dolphin Observer” which didn’t turn out well. Sarah & i were separated and i had no way of knowing which pool she was entering, so i waited on the nearest seats i could find, quietly listening for her name to be called out. Then as i’d hear it, i’d whip out my camera and get some shots. I didn’t hear her name as i was sat at completely the wrong pool. 😦

But all is not lost…i bought the fantastic photos taken by their photographer. Yay! 🙂 

Sarah wearing swim suit and life jscket, stood in front of a large surf board promoting the dolphins

 ⇧ Sarah stood in front of the surf board logo sign ⇧ 

  Sarah had never done anything like this before, she was excited and apprehensive at the same time. But as soon as she got into the water and met her new friend, she was blown away! 🙂

Step 1: Meeting the dolphin… 

Sarah on the right touching the dolphins nose

Sarah now looking at the camera with a huge smile on her face, whist still touching the dolphins nose

 ⇧ Sarah’s first touch of the dolphin ⇧ 

Step 2: Dancing with the dolphin… 

Sarah said as she took hold of both flippers, the dolphin started a funky wiggle dance! 🙂 

Sarah stood on the right holding both flippers whilst having a dance with the dolphin

 ⇧ Sarah dancing with her new friend ⇧  

Step 3: The Kiss… 

Sarah getting a kiss from the dolphin

 ⇧ Sarah receiving a kiss on the cheek from the dolphin ⇧ 

Dolphin totally out of the water half way through a jump

⇧ Dolphin showing its excitement after meeting Sarah! 🙂  ⇧  

Once Sarah was dried off and changed, and we collected the photo CD, it was time to catch the bus back and head for Road Towns pretty main street and market. 

We had one place in mind(if we could find it) “Sunny Caribbee”. Everybody was talking about this place and the incredible local spices, sauces, coffee, artwork…everything! 🙂 

We got off the bus and walked into town. We walked for a while longer, then we did(what we always did) when we got lost on our trip…listen for a broad northern accent! It was only seconds until we found some people from our ship who pointed us in the right direction! 🙂 

Sunny Caribbee…

Sunny Caribbee

⇧ Photo of the shop front of Sunny Caribbee ⇧   

Sunny Caribbee Hot Spices

⇧ Bottled sauces with fantastic hats! 🙂 ⇧

Once inside the shop we were amazed by the variety and beauty of the products, and how lovely and helpful the ladies were, We just wanted to take everything! Once we saw the sauce bottles with the hats, we just had to get them as presents! 🙂  

We were sad to leave Sunny Caribbee, but it was time to head off to the main street market as Sarah had seen some beautifully coloured dresses!

Sarah bought a lovely bright dress, but no photos yet. 😦  

After getting lost again in the town, we managed to find directions (yes another northern couple) back to the tender boats. It was another bobbing boat ride back to the ship.

We then took our usual seats in the Coffee Port, while drinking our favourite double espresso macchiato’s, we watched the islands disappear as the ship sailed away.

Our Route 4 2day…

This afternoon Thomson Dream sails to Philipsburg, St Maarten. We’ll arrive tomorrow morning having travelled 92 nautical miles at an average speed of 8 knots.

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☀️ #14 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: La Romana, “Dominican Republic”🇩🇴

La Romana

Sarah & i were excited to arrive at La Romana, Dominican Republic, and we were really looking forwards to our shore excursion. After applying strong suntan lotion, deet bands to our wrists and ankles and finishing off with our hats, we went to see if we could find where the excursion actually starts! 

Using my knees as suspention, i slowly navigated down the treacherous gangway steps until i reached land. yay! The hot sun was shining, I could hear a local band playing, and then i heard Jo’s voice, she is part of the excursion team. We homed in on her voice and she said that she was coming on the same excursion so we could wait for her and she’ll take us to the coach. Fantastic, we can now relax! 🙂

Sarah s Caribbean Outfit

⇧ My lovely wife Sarah’s beautiful Caribbean outfit! 🙂 ⇧ 

After a short coach trip, and hearing about the history of the island by the tour guide, we arrived at Casa de Campo,

Roman-styled 5,000-seat amphitheater…

a photo of the circular seating of the Amphitheater left view

Amphitheater centre view

Photo of the circular seating of the Amphitheater right view

Sarah and the steps

⇧ Sarah relaxing in the sun, sat on the amazing steps. ⇧ 

Me at the amphitheater

⇧ My new hat kept my head nice and cool, thanks Suzanne ⇧

 After briefly taking in this fantastic amphitheater, it was a short walk to the lovely fountain.

Sarah fountain

Sarah fountain 2

I had no idea that Sarah had stopped sitting down and was now walking towards me, but it’s made a lovely photo! lol. 🙂 

 Another short walk around this beautiful place until we reached the church and river.

St. Stanislaus Church… 

Church Dominican Republic

Me walking in front of the   Church

⇧ Me walking around wondering what to shoot next! ⇧  

Whilst looking at the stunning church, at my 6 o’ clock was the stunning Chavón River. What a beautiful place, and such a blessing to be able to be here.

 The Chavón River… 

Sarah at the Chavón River

Chavón River Chavón River 2

Just as i finished taking this photo, Sarah said “quick, take a photo of those ladies wearing the beautiful red dresses”. I span round and said “Where are they?” They were about 10 feet directly in front of me(i told you i was blind! lol). But just then they stood either side of Sarah and posed for the photo…

Sarah and the red dresses

Sarah and the red dresses close u

Some of you more experienced travellers will probably know what i’m about to say?!!

After the photo the ladies said “Tip…tip”, i was about to say “No, it’s ok you don’t need to tip me for the photo, i’m not that good!”. But then as we realised it was they who wanted a tip for posing for the shot, Jo(our Thomson excursion leader) quickly gave them a tip as we had no change at all. That was a lesson learned for Sarah & i, and we will be a little more discerning next time! I still think it was worth the mix up as the photos are lovely. 🙂 

Chavón River 3

At the bottom left of the photo above…you can just make out the paddle boat. That’s where we are heading next! 🙂 

 Paddle Boats & Palm Trees…

Paddle boats and palm trees

Rambo river

Me on paddle boat

 ⇧ Me reflecting on God’s beautiful creation ⇧ 

Sarah paddle boat

 ⇧ Sarah feeling relaxed in the sun ⇧ 

Rambo river 2

Sarah on paddle boat

The whole excursion was amazing. I’ve never seen such vibrant colours, breathtaking scenery and a chance to travel along the “Rambo River”. 

IMG 3249

Back on-board the ship…

We went straight to the ice cold water machine, and then out on deck to get some last shots before we sailed away. 

Dominican Republic 2

Dominican Republic 1

Sarah Portrait on board

 Wow,what a day! The south east corner of the Dominican Republic. was labelled “The fairest land under heaven” by Columbus. I don’t disasociate myself from his opinion!! 🙂 

Our Route 4 2day…

This afternoon the Thomson Dream sails to Road Town, Tortola. We’ll arrive tomorrow afternoon having travelled 277 nautical miles, at an average speed of 14 knots. 

Wow, Did you enjoy this trip as much as we did? Did you have a fave part?  

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☀️ #5 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Sienna”🇮🇹

Photo while sat on the coach taken looking through the windscreen overlooking the mountains with Siena written on the road

While approaching Sienna, we were given a fantastic little radio thingy that you put around your neck. It has a single earphone so you can still hear the tour guide within a large radius,or if it gets noisy. We then met the new Siena tour guide who would guide the group and share interesting stories and history of this stunning place.

Welcome to Siena…

Me stood in front of the Siena Christmas Tree

We were very happy to meet in a little square around a huge Christmas tree (see above). I am now only wearing a thin shirt as it is like a summers day and it’s December!!  🙂

Siena Building

close up of windows on a Siena Building 2

Siena Arches

Walking through the narrow streets and hearing more about how the Medici family slaughtered and captured Siena, we arrived at the famous medieval square (Piazza del Campo). Yay another tower! 🙂 

Siena Campo

Campo Tower 

Siena campo windows

After a walk around the banked curves of the square (feeling like an Indy 500 car), the group then left the square and headed towards (what has now become my favourite bell tower of all time) Siena Cathedral!

Siena Cathedral…

Walking under a narrow archway, the group made a collective sound, it went something like (wooaaahhhhooww), Sarah said “Wow! A humbug tower!” I said understatedly “Oh right” as i could only look at the ground to try and navigate, and i can’t see the tower or any of it’s detail anyway. But when i got back, and was able to zoom into my photos to see what i was pointing my camera at…..”Wow, Wow Wow”. 

Siena Cathedrals humbug tower

Siena Cathedral Bell Tower

Siena Cathedral

a view of the stunning Siena Cathedral 3

 Sarah was very happy when we went inside and found more humbugs! 🙂

Inside Siena Cathedral 2

Inside Siena Cathedral

 The group then sat down to hear the final part of the tour guides history. Just after i said to Sarah “Wow, isn’t it amazing to think that all of this unbelievable place was done for Jesus?! It all points to Him!”. The tour guide said “And this was all done for Mary!”. I was not amused at all! 

We then had some free time and was told to meet back at the medieval square, now which way was that?? 

Siena Campo 5

We did eventually find it, and we met back up with the group. to then return back to the coach, but on the way we passed the Christmas tree where we had first started and it looked beautiful! It finished Siena off nicely! 🙂

Siena Christmas Tree at night

After quite a scare of nearly getting lost and left behind as the group disappeared into the darkness, Sarah and i boarded what we hoped was our coach (it was).  Now it’s off towards our final destination of the day! 😀 

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☀️ #4 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Vinci & Chianti”🇮🇹

 As we left the amazing Pisa, Chiara (our tour guide) gave us some more interesting yet gruesome Tuscany history about the Medici family killing everyone again and taking over more villages and cities. She also mentioned a man called Leonardo Da Vinci, “no way” i said to Sarah “I thought he was a ninja turtle, not a real man!” She gave me a swift elbow in the ribs, and Chiara continued.

Welcome to Vinci…

The image below is of the landscape that greeted us from the coach.  

Sarah looking over the Vinci Hills

After taking in the amazing scenery, we headed off on foot to the Museum of Leonardo Da Vinci.

A view overlooking the town of Vinci with a bell tower on the left

A beautiful bell tower with purple blue sunrise over vince

A close up black and white of the Vinci Bell Tower

I really like bell towers!! 🙂

Sarah & i found inside the museum much too dark, so we struggled to see any of the fantastic creations on display. Sarah was using her iPhone 6 Plus with it’s wide aperture of f2.2 to view each design as it showed much brighter on her screen, rather than the dark blob in front of her (she’s a genius).

We did find a cool bike though!!

Vinci Bike

Now it was back outside to have a wonder around and see what we can find. It wasn’t long before we found a familiar object! 

Vitruvian Man

Sarah wasn’t happy with the “Vitruvian Man” and thought Leonardo had missed something out. So we added something extra……The Vitruvian Man & Woman! 🙂

Sarah stood in front of the Vitruvian Man  doing the same pose

Now for Chianti…

After another trip on the coach through amazing rolling hills, olive grows and vinyards, the coach parked right up at the top in Chianti where we were to do a little wine & local Tuscan food tasting.

I didn’t have time to take any photos as we were guided straight to our table and greeted with a lovely plate of local baked bread, olive oil, cheese and spicy meat.

The lady first pour a little Chianti Simple (table wine) into the huge glass and as she was going into great detail of how to hold the glass etc, i continued on the food (i couldn’t see anything she was doing, so her over complicated directions were wasted on me, lol). As i don’t really drink alcohol except a very full bodied glass of red wine on special occasions (normally 1 bottle a year and that’s usually Châteauneuf-du-Pape i receive as a Christmas gift). My thought is that if i’m only going to have one glass on rare occasions, then i would like one that i enjoy! 🙂

I really know nothing about wines, only that some are red and some are white, and some are watery and some are thick (like coffee, lol) and i only like the thick ones, which now i know are called full bodied! 🙂

Then she poured a little of the Chianti Classico (full bodied..Yay!) and that was much better! 

But probably my favourite taste of the day was the 30 year old Balsamic Vinegar we got to taste! Wow, now that’s amazing, but expensive so didn’t get any to bring home! 😦

As we finished there was a mad rush to the little shop area. I stayed at the table as Sarah went to have a look and take a few photos for us!

Chianti Bottles on a shelf

Chianti barrells

look inside the Chianti shop

I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip so far?! Next stop Siena!! 😀 

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☀️ #3 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Pisa”🇮🇹

I forgot to mention in my older 2 posts in this Tuscany Tour series, that i didn’t take any of my DSLR’s with me to Italy (you’ve probably already noticed, lol). All of the photos taken were using my iPhone 5s or Sarah’s iPhone 6 Plus. 

I’d like to split Day 3 into 4 separate posts, as i don’t want them to get too long, and dare i say boring! 

Christmas Tree in the lobby of the Hotel Brunelleschi

Sarah & i were up bright and early, excited yet anxious for today’s big adventure. As we were in the reception area admiring the beautiful Christmas tree (see image above), the entrance doors opened as our taxi driver entered and escorted us to his taxi. It was still very dark (especially down the narrow side street) and already raining, and when i noticed the black minivan with blacked out windows (which only appear on episodes of 24) and the voice of the driver say “Get in”, i had a funny feeling that this could be anyone and we were in some kind of movie (this didn’t do my slight anxiety any good at all, lol). 

The driver was very friendly and nothing like the man i was imagining, he dropped us off at the exact collection point for the ‘My Tour’ coach stop where we were met by Chiara, the tour guide. She already knew we were blind & partially sighted and said it would be easier for us if we sat on the front 2 seats of the coach. “Yes!” i said as they’re our fave seats too, good start! 🙂

It took about an hour until we arrived at Pisa, Chiara was telling us lots of interesting facts and history of the Tuscany regions we were passing through, this (and my excitement) made the journey seem really quick. The coach parked right near the Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo) and after a short walk in the group Chiara said “Now you have one hour free time, then meet back here”. This was just perfect for Sarah & i as we now have a point of reference to go from and to return.

Welcome to Pisa!

First for my tourist pose! 🙂

Me stood in front of the leaning tower of Pisa

And now it’s Sarah’s turn! 🙂

Sarah stood in front of the leaning tower of Pisa

Everyone was rushing straight for the tower, so we hung back and got a few photos of the Baptistry and the Cathedral.

Pisa Baptistry

Pisa Baptistry 2

The Cathedral  the tower

Lookin up at the Pisa Cathedral

Me looking at the tower

Sarah sneakily snapped me tower gazing and trying to soak up the atmosphere, and the fact that i was actually in Pisa, looking at probably the most famous bell tower in the world! 🙂

Pisa Tower

A zoomed in photo of the top 3 layers of the tower

There was only one small cafe opposite the tower, so Sarah & i went to check it out. We ordered 2 Cappachino’s and to my delight, a slice of pizza. I know you might laugh, but i just had to try the Pizza at Pisa! 🙂

Tower from the cafe

The image above is the view from the open windows at our table, it was just amazing being sat with the leaning tower of Pisa as the backdrop. 🙂

A panaramic shot of the baptistry, Cathedral & the tower in one shot

After this final panoramic photo, we met up with the group and headed back to the coach. 

This visit already made my day and i’d of been happy if that was the end, but this was only the beginning!!

Oh by the way…..The pizza was fantastic!! 🙂

Hope you’ve enjoyed the first stop of this “Tuscany in a day tour”. Please remain in your “ tranquility Lounger” and see what’s coming on day 4! 😀 

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☀️ #2 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Florence, Italy”🇮🇹

The Blind Sightseers logo

As Sarah & i were about to leave the room to try our first breakfast, we suddenly heard a faint sound of bells. We quickly rushed to the window and opened the inner windows and the outer shutters, and the sound was immense! I wanted to record the sound but the video below doesn’t do it justice.

The Breakfast…

The breakfast, i can only describe as an amazing taste sensation. The chef must have only had one knife though, as everything was sliced about an inch thick! What seemed like a block of cheese to us, was a slice to them. lol, but i didn’t want to seem rude and waste any! 🙂

The search for the Palace…

After filling up with breakfast, we started out on our primary objective for the day…to find the Palazzo Medici Riccardi where my photos will be exhibited in a few days time. 

Once out on the main street, i stood facing north (towards the Cathedral) and opened the Blindsquare app on my iPhone. I had save 2 locations to the favourites – the hotel and the palace, so they would b read out instantly and hopefully tell me (if the cellular network is good) where the locations are using a clock face description. It said “Palazzo Medici Riccardi is at 11’o clock at 350 yards”. Right let’s go! After passing the Florence Cathedral it was just a straight road until the Palace was on our left. Now to find the entrance which was another mammoth task for us …

A black and white photo of the amazing brick work of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi 1

We started walking around the outside of the whole building finding everything including a cash machine (very useful, clothes store & even a McDonalds (the poshest one we’ve ever seen). Finally we found it but we couldn’t see any sign of the Art Senses posters anywhere. We went inside anyway to have a look around where we’d maybe stumble across a tiny room being set up for the exhibition.

Inside the Palace…

Black and white photo taken from the inner courtyard looking up to the roof of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi arches 2

Black and white close up of the arches in the inner courtyard

Palazzo Medici Riccardi 3

As we were walking around, we both kept saying “I think we’re in the wrong building, there is no way the exhibition will be in here somewhere. But this place is amazing so we’ll keep looking”.

A photo of me looking upwards towards some amazingly designed door frames!

⇧ We totally need to get door frames like these!! 🙂 ⇧ 

Then a few minutes later i found a ceiling design for our home too!! lol.

an increible fresco ciellin g

As we entered the next couple of rooms, Sarah was oooing quite a lot, and now as i’m looking back over the photos to see what i was actually looking at, i should’ve known there were shoes!

Sarah shoes gallery

After being amazed for a while longer, we decided to double check outside to see if this really was the Palazzo Medici Riccardi….It was! 

I said “There is no way my photos are being exhibited in there, just no way”. 

Then as we turned to find our way back to the hotel, we suddenly realised there was a marathon going on!!

Yes a marathon, actually the 31st annual “Florence Marathon (Maratona di Firenze)”. Now the streets were not only packed, but worse still for us, blocked off so we couldn’t get back the way we came.

Photo of theFirenze Marathon

After a few hours of getting lost, trying different coffee shops and of course the clothes and shoe shops, we found ourselves by the river. Sarah said “oh, this is the river!!” I said “But isn’t the river south, way past the hotel in the other direction?”

Firenze River

We both realised we had no idea which way to go and we were both really tired from dodging people and with all of the noise, so we just decided to pick a street and walk up it. Then to our complete surprise as we were getting really fed up, Sarah said “That’s the sign to our hotel”, “No way, i had no idea we were here, now let’s get a takeaway coffee from our new local and rest for a while”.

A blue light shaped as a bell hanging over the street

After an eventful and tiring day, we decided to try heading east but only down one street as it’s dark now and we really don’t want to get lost again. The hanging street lights were beautiful and we found lots of clothes shops and a nice little sandwich/coffee bar to relax in for a while. 

As we returned to the hotel we booked a “Tuscany in a day” tour for the morning. We knew it was a lot in one day but it will be ideal for us. Now we were getting even more excited. I could be stood next to the leaning tower of Pisa!! No way!! 😀 

To be continued…

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☀️ #1 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Tuscany Tour” 🇮🇹

Tuscany logo Italy

Wow, wow, wow!! What a fantastic and surreal experience!! 

Here goes…This New Endeavour is going to bring back some amazing memories for me and Sarah, and i hope it brings lots of smiles, laughter and interest during your lockdown, as we look back on the places we have been so blessed to visit. 

After spending 1 week in Italy pretending to be a photographer, and being blown away by the beauty and simply magnificent sculptures, architecture & History of this amazing part of the world. I’ll try and bore you to death with my day to day experiences. 🙂

First i’d like to give a big thanks to our brother Ben who kindly managed to wake up at 4:15am and drive us to the airport, guide us into the airport, check in our case and take us to the assistance desk, thanks Ben, we’d still be wondering round the airport now! if it wasn’t for you! 🙂

A screenshot of my iphone showing the Voiceover cursor surrounding the enabled airplane mode button on the control centre.

The airport assistance was fantastic and couldn’t of made it any easier for us. We even got to ride on the buggy that takes us all the way to the gate! I was the first to board the plane, and i couldn’t wait to finally enable “Airplane Mode” on my iPhone whilst sat on the plane! This may seem like a small thing, but remember this is my first time out of the country! 🙂

A photo looking out of the window onf the plane overlooking the wing and engine, with a beautiful coloured sunrise panarama!

I think my wide eyes and silly grin throughout the whole plane journey was getting tiresome for Sarah (she has been on planes lots of times). But it was fantastic! The best part is when the pilot “Gives it the beans” and accelerates down the runway when taking off, i’ve felt acceleration simular to this in different cars that i’ve driven(before i went blind lol), but when you think just how big and heavy this plane is, it’s just amazing! 🙂 

Once we landed at Pisa airport, the assistance were already there and waiting to escort us from the plane. They also sorted out our passports and picked up our suitcase. Now it was time to get our first Italian coffee while we wait for the bus to Florence.  

A photo of the beautiful hills taken from our seat on the bus from pisa to florence. Also Siena is written on the road.
Sarah described the beautiful panoramic landscapes from the bus (i couldn’t see them until i got back home to zoom in on my large screen) as it took about an hour to get to Firenze. We then got a taxi to our hotel, as i read on trip advisor that although it’s only about half a mile, it’s tucked away in a small courtyard. 
 
A sepia effect of hotel Brunelleschi at night with the old tower glowing out in the dark

Wow, the hotel was fantastic, and the staff were unbelievably helpful.  Once we were settled in to our amazing room, and logged onto their WiFi. We decided to venture out a little and try and figure out where we were in relation to the duomo and the palace where my photos were being exhibited. We knew we were close but as Sarah & i can’t see enough to read a map, we could easily get lost and never find anything! 🙂

A black and white photo of the top of cathedral of Florence

Shortly after leaving the hotel and finding the main street, we heard the thunderous sound of the bells from the north (i think) coming from the Cathedral of Florence (Il Duomo di Firenze), The bells would make our navigation much easier for the rest of our holiday as the Cathedral was only about 300 yards away from our hotel, thank you bells! 🙂 We then headed back to our starting point and headed west, where we found an ever better point of reference!! (see below)

A whole building completley covered in sparkling blue lights

The twinkling lights on this department store were simply amazing to just stand and look at, but it was dark now and we didn’t want to get lost on our first day! All of the streets were decorated beautifully with illuminated stars, borbals & bells so after one more photo (see below), we headed back to the hotel. What an amazing, exciting and tiring first day. 🙂

A twinckling star street decoration in Florence

I hope you’ve enjoyed being with me and Sarah on my first ever trip abroad? Hope to see you on Day 2 as we explore a little more…!!!

To be continued…

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I Am Free! 😀

A screenshot of my wordpress app open on the reader feed and my voiceover cursor on the like button of a post

Hi WordPress family! I just wanted to update you on the WordPress app and how i can now use it properly on my iPhone!

In case you’re wondering why all of a sudden you’ve started seeing my likes and little picture thingy on your posts…It’s because i can now use the reader on my iPhone using voiceover screenreader. I have waited ages(years i think) to be able to do this as i can’t use the website reader very well at all. So now i am free to go crazy and read all of the blogs i’ve missed spending time on! 😀 

I’m trying to catch up on as many posts and blogs that i can, and i’m also finding lots of new ones…It’s fantastic for me and i have finally been set free on this app!


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