Tag Archives: Blind Photographer

☀️ #61 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “St. George’s, Grenada” 🇬🇩 (2019)

Grenada logo

Good morning friends!

One of my first attempts at a Time-Lapse video…

The Marella Explorer

Yay, Safe On The Dock….🛳

Upon leaving the ship it felt like coming home, as we knew exactly where we needed to go as we were here last year (read post). Once we found and boarded our coach ready for our excursion to the nutmeg factory, then on to the chocolate factory, we settled back and enjoyed the view. We had visited the Nutmeg factory last year as it’s Sarah’s fave place, as the incredible smell of nutmeg fills her with warm memories of her Nan Peters when she used it in her legendary rice pudding. And now we knew what to expect…We could find and buy more nutmeg. 😀  

The nutmeg and chocolate factory tour…🚌

We were blessed once more with the stunning beauty of this place as we drove around the coast and the luscious hills. ☀️  

Island of Grenada from the sea

View of the bay of Grenada

The Nutmeg Factory….

Inside Nutmeg factory

Inside nutmeg factory 2

Inside nutmeg factory 3

Inside nutmeg factory 4

This time we were the first ones in the gift shop and ready to get some of the amazing nutmeg that fills all kinds of products. Sarah bought an omnifarious mixture of products including…Aloe Vera oils etc (wow nutmeg and aloe vera)…She had missed getting some of this last year when we had a similar tour. We really didn’t think we’d see this place again (never mind the first time) and it was such a blessing to be here…Aawww that smell! 😀  

The Chocolate Factory…

This was very educational and interesting. The local guide took us around the beautiful grounds and factory showing us different plants they grow, including the cocoa trees and how they harvest the beans, dry and ferment the seeds, crack the shells to emit the cocoa nibs (the actual cocoa their chocolate is made with)…Watch video below. 🍫 😀  

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Sorry but didn’t get any photos or videos of the factory. But the local Mango & Lemon punch was amazing and refreshing…But that was a shadow of the ginger & dark chocolate bar! I saved it until we were back in the UK but i now wished i’d bought about 10 of them instead of 1, i think we need to go back next year!!   

Thanks for joining us on our trip to Grenada! Have you been here before? 🤔

To be continued… 

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☀️ #60 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Kralendijk, Bonaire” 🇧🇶 (2019)

Bonaire Logo

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARAH!!!

Welcome to Bonaire on this fantastic occasion…I wonder what surprise is in store for Sarah?

Arawak Off-road Safari… 

This trip is all about getting to grips with Bonaire’s historic best bits. Clamber aboard one of the 4x4s, and in a couple of minutes you’ll be whizzing along the off-road trails.

First, you’ll climb into the Subi Rincon hills, where the convoy will stop at a set of time-worn Indian caves. Then, it’s on to one of the island’s only two towns – Rincon. Keep an eye out for the honey-yellow church tower as you pass through, then hop off the truck when you arrive at pretty Boca Onima. This rocky stretch of coastline is home to some of the best cave art in Bonaire, which gives you a real glimpse of the island’s past.

One of the best bits is saved ‘til last – the beauty spot, Seru Largu. This cross-topped monument sits on a raised platform, setting you up with panoramic views of the capital, Kralendijk.

This shore excursion was a second choice as the first choice was sold out weeks before we’d even started our cruise. We were thinking about the 4×4 Land Rover trip we’d done in the Azores(see here) but couldn’t really get excited…As it was much hotter here and the thought of being crammed in the back of a Land Rover really wasn’t doing anything for us today. So what we thought was going to be an anticlimax…Turned out to be the best trip of the whole holiday! Oh and i’d just travelled in my best vehicle of all time! 😎 

The 1961 Yellow Unimog…

Sarah & i infront of the yellow 1961 Uniog

Awww friends….Let me introduce you to this Yellow, 1961 Unimog…..have you seen the tires, lol! It threw us around like crazy and i still can’t believe that he didn’t slow down for anything. There is no way a vehicle can hit rocks, huge pot holes, climb cracked hills and go around tight bends whilst travelling at break neck speed, it would have destroyed anything else and left them in a pile of spare parts, lol. I’m not sure they issued these with brake pedals! 😎

Subi Rincon hills… 

 Bertrand was our fantastic guide, and even better rally driver, lol. He said he had a PHD(pot hole dodger) although he didn’t dodge anything but drove straight over everything which made the ride so much fun…We were all hanging on for dear life as our bums were ‘getting air’ as they lifted off our seats!!   

We  climbed higher and higher into the Subi Rincon hills, where the amazing yellow Unimog stopped at a set of time-worn Indian caves. This place had lots of rocks to walk over and Bertrand told Sarah “You’re a fantastic guide” as she was expertly weaving me through the rocks! He told the group how the first explorers crawled through these caves in the pitch black, an inch at a time without knowing what was coming. 😨  

Cave in Bonaire

 Back on the Unimog…

Bertrand put the ladder in place at the rear of the Unimog so we could climb in and out. I was very careful the first time as i was feeling with my feet to find out how many (and where) the steps were. But after a few times i was flying off them! 😀   

He kept slowing down and then (klunck) slamming it into low gear as he climbed ludicrously steep and rocky slopes until we got to a high viewing point. Ikept forgetting it was Sarah’s birthday and not mine, lol! 

view overlooking the island of Bonaire

 The Bonaire Donkey’s… 

The Bonaire Donkeys

We were screaming down a dirt track when Bertrand hit the breaks. He jumped out of the Unimog and tried to call out to the Donkeys to see if they’d come over. He told us:

Donkeys have been around on Bonaire since the 17th century. The Spanish brought the donkeys for transportation. When modern vehicles became available like pushcarts, donkeys were redundant and left to their fate.

Bonaire is a predominantly rugged and arid island, making it difficult for the donkeys to survive. Nevertheless, there are hundreds of donkeys on Bonaire present. Because the donkeys can move freely on the island this regularly leads to traffic accidents. 

Fauna ezel thumbThe donkeys live in small herds of about 20 animals and can be 40 years old. During the day they seek the shade of the trees. In the early morning or early evening the donkeys are usually active.

Since 1993 injured, sick and orphaned donkeys are cared in a shelter, called Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire. Volunteers take care over 400 donkeys in a closed area. The shelter is open to visitors and is located south of the airport on the Kaya Ir.R. Statius van Eps. 

I heard “EEEYYOOORRREEE, HONK, HONK, HONK) and Bertrand said “Ok i hear you” to the donkeys and “They don’t want to say hello” to us as he climbed back into the Unimog and drove to our next stop…

Wait a minute…How did Sarah take a panorama whilst sat in the Unimog? “Nobody likes a show off, lol” 🤣  

Panorama of the lakes and saltflats with the wind turbines in the centre on the horison
 
After another blitzing ride we parked at the beauty spot, Seru Largu. We walked up quite a few steps to get to the top, but it was worth it!
 
Sarah & i overlooking the island of Bonaire
 
This beautiful place sits on a raised platform which set Sarah up with panoramic views of the capital, Kralendijk.
 
Panorama of the island of Bonaire

 Bertrand stopped in many interesting places, he even fed lizards by hand as we stood on a sandy park burning to a crisp.

We’d had a simply breathtaking trip on the fantastic yellow Unimog and we were really sad when we pulled back into the dock.

Back at the ship…🛳

After the incredible and mind bending ride in the Unimog, we quickly went on board and had an iced coffee before heading out into the town to see what goodies we could find.

It was absolutely scorching so the first place was a tiny local bar where Bertrand told us to try the locally (and traditionally)  brewed beer ‘Bonaire Blond’. Sarah sat me down at a small table and soon came back with a birthday celebration drink…The 2 bottles of ice cold Bonaire Blond. The bottles were soon empty as the room was just too hot and we needed to get back outside. 

Yay, we managed to buy another bauble for our Christmas tree…Oh and i bought another bright and colourful shirt that you’ll see at a later date! 🎄  😀   

The Evening Meal…

 As we walked into the usual evening restaurant we were guided to our seats. Sarah said “Steve i think we’ve sat somewhere we shouldn’t, it looks much posher here and even the napkins are red instead of white”. After a few more seconds Sarah continued “Oh have you done this? Have you booked me a surprise birthday meal? I bet you’ve done this!” I’d kept quiet so far wondering myself what had happened, and wondering if i should tell Sarah that i had booked a special table for her birthday even though i hadn’t, lol!
 
“No i havn’t booked anything special but i wish i had now” i said as the waiter brought Sarah the menu. Sarah used the built in magnifier on her iPhone to read the menu aloud “It’s the italian restaurant, you’re going to love this” “No way i thought you had to book for this one” i said wondering if they did Arancini (they did). 
 
The Italian restaurant was free like the main restaurant, the only difference is that you had to specify that you wanted to eat there which we hadn’t. We still think they knew it was Sarah’s birthday and sat us there without saying…But we still don’t know and it was a lovely surprise for Sarah’s birthday. 😀  
 
Then…

Profiteroles
 
 “DING, DING, DING, DING” YAY, It’s Sarah’s bell from her ‘Blind Sightseers Gastronomic Leaderboard’. Moving straight to the top of her ‘Desserts’ leaderboard were the sugar free Profiteroles. Sarah said they tasted amazing and never seen any of these anywhere that were sugar free and didn’t mess her blood sugar up. We told the waiter how good they were and soon the chef came over and chatted to us as we thanked her too! 😀  
 
Now that was a fantastic ending to an even greater day! Happy Birthday Sarah!! ❤️

Sarah Happy Birthday Cards
 
 Thanks for joining us on this fantastic day on Bonaire! Have you been here before? Have you ever been in/on a Unimog? 🤔 
 

☀️ #58 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Oranjestad, Aruba” 🇦🇼 (2019)

Aruba Logo

🇦🇼 Good morning friends!

Thanks for joining me and Sarah on another Birthday celebration cruise and stay in the Caribbean, it’s great to have you guys along for the ride.

Marella Explorer (Apr 2019)…

Unbelievably this is the Blind Sightseers 6th cruse! We have never been on the Marella Explorer and Sarah had booked cabin 8001 which is dead centre and right at the front of the ship. She chose this cabin as she thought the views from the window would be fantastic….She’s right again! 😎 

All it was missing is a steering wheel, lol.

A view of a sunset from our cabin on the Marella Explorer looking directly forward and centre at the front of the ship

⇧ View from our cabin Nø 8001 ⇧ 

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Sarah stood on the deck looking out to sea with a cargo ship in the far distance

Before getting to Aruba we had a day at sea. We were pleased with this as it gave us time to walk about 80,000 steps to find out where we could get Breakfast and the evening meal…But most of all find the Coffee Port to see if they made lovely strong coffee? They did! 😀  

 🇦🇼 Aruba…

As usual we had booked an excursion for each of the 5 islands we were visiting and todays excursion is: De Palm Island – Full Day, Aruba.

De Palm Island has got it all. Set adrift off the Aruban coastline, this private reef offers up pristine waters and a huge variety of exotic marine life, it’s a first-class spot for an underwater exploration. Your day will start off with a short boat trip over to the island, where the friendly staff will be waiting to meet you. After a short safety briefing, you’re ready to slip on your mask and wade into the warm, clear waters. Expect to meet friendly blue parrotfish and angelfish. Back on dry land, there’ll be time to sprawl out on the sand, take your seat for a banana boat ride or visit the island’s small waterpark before heading back to the ship. Don’t forget that a full buffet lunch and refreshments throughout the day will be included. 

On the dock…

Marella Explorer over the sea whilst stood on the dock

 We had a short walk around the dock until we arrived at the place to get the little fun boat. 

The little fun boat…

 Yay, it didn’t disappoint as it bobbed up and down spraying us in the face with nice cool sea water. 

Me bottom right with a view over the little boat filled with our group

De Palm Island…

My lovely wife Sarah

 ⇧ My lovely Wife Sarah catching some long awaited sunshine outside the cafe ⇧ 

When booking this shore excursion we had visions of excitement and adventure from the amazing Xel-Ha island in Mexico, unfortunately this wasn’t like that. This place was tiny in comparison which worked well for us not getting lost but there wasn’t much to do either. The weather was overcast and muggy, until the clouds parted and gave the sun chance to burn a hole through your flesh! 🔥 

I was well impressed by the solid wooden walkways that curled around the whole place, and i marvelled on how long it must have taken to construct this very accessible path. When i was fully sighted i worked as a panel beater in a bodyshop so i know a little about sanding etc. I was enjoying the smoothness of the wood when Sarah pulled me from my reverie…“Steve! Come on stop touching everything to see how smooth it is, lol!” 🤣  

We found the cafe first (funny how that happens) and use it as our starting reference point. We found a souvenir shop (we’ll be back) then the toilets (useful) and passing the bar and food court (Mmmmmm) we stumbled upon the sun bed area. Seeing that all of the sun beds were taken and we’d only just got here, we walked back to the cafe to see if they had iced coffee?! 😀  

Walking around the cafe looking at the assortment of food we suddenly heard an american man with a bright and cheery accent right behind us “HOWDY” Sarah and i turned to face him and he continued “I hope you don’t mind me interrupting? But i saw you have an insulin pump and wanted to ask about it” Sarah talked to him about how long she’d had Type 1 diabetes and how long she’d had the pump. The man was a chemist/Pharmacy person and his niece was debating whoever to get one or not? After Sarah talked about how much of a life saver the pump has been i think his niece will be getting one! The man (sorry forgot his name) had arrived on the ‘Celebrity Silhouette’ cruise ship that we’d noticed towering over ours in the dock, and it was also his first time in Aruba, then we finished up our coffees (no iced coffee, just a machine) and parted ways with the lovely man. 😀  

Me stood on the left in a orange caribbean shirt carrying a black backpack with views of palm island, Aruba in the background

 Yay…It was the first time in a while that i’d been able to wear the bright orange shirt i bought in Saint Kitts from our first cruise…Read all about it here.

We quickly figured out that this place was mainly for snorkelers, and that wasn’t an activity the ‘Blind Sightseers’ could do (yes even we have limits, lol). We managed to secure 2 sun bems ( nobody wanted them as they were in the shade) and as i sat down Sarah went to see if she could have a paddle in the sea?! Sarah quickly returned looking sad as they’re were rocks pretty much all the way round and lots of ‘Beware of Jellyfish’ signs. More clouds came and lowered the temperature so we walked into the food court place as it was lunchtime already.  

Yay…I was happy as they were mainly serving burger and chips (well french fries which are fake chips) and Sarah said they served salad too! 🤣 Once again (like the sun beds) every table was taken except the only one in the blistering sun no-one wanted…So we sat down and i placed my ‘Tactical sun hat’ on my frying head and enjoyed the burger, although i wasn’t sure which one of us was barbecued, lol!  🍔  ☀️  😀  

“HOWDY” the man said whilst walking past, i said to Sarah “I don’t have to ask who that was as his accent is fantastic” as we waved in his general direction. As Sarah and i can’t make eye contact it’s almost impossible to make friends or start a conversation unless people come over to us. So it felt great to make a friend here who always says “Howdy” when seeing us! 😀  

Sarah & i had a great time wondering around this beautiful little island and we found lots of little places until stumbling into….The gift shop! We love to find souvenirs that help us remember the amazing journeys/adventures we have conquered, and Sarah bought a fantastic t-shirt with “Biba Dushi” written on the front. Biba dushi in Aruba means “living the sweet life”. The language is actually called Papiamento and is one of Aruba’s two official languages spoken by many on the island. Papiamento is a Creole language derived from Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, French, and African languages.

Back at the ship…

After another fun ride on the little boat back to the ship, we had enough time to get changed, leave our bags and have a well needed iced-coffee before heading out to explore as much as we can without getting lost before the ship leaves.

We walked up one street and turned right before Sarah stopped and said “Wow, that lady is having her photo taken in front of that cool wall art/sign. Quick get one of me” “Ok my lovely, you’re wearing your new yellow Michael Kors t-shirt too, i hope i get everything in”. Sarah had bought this t-shirt for our holidays and couldn’t wait to put on the lovely bright colours and flowers.

Sarah stood on a surf board in her new yellow Michael Kors t-shirt.

 This is one of my fave photos as it shows Sarah’s smile is as bright as her t-shirt. 

Walking back to the ship we finally found a local Bauble maker…Her daughter makes and paints them herself. We bought a beautiful one which even had a cruise ship painted on with the Aruba island and even 2019 on it. 🎄 😀  

We’ve started collecting Christmas Tree Baubles since i started going abroad 5 years ago. We love unpacking them at Christmas and filling the tree with all  of the places we visit. We think its a lovely idea to fill the tree with our lives journeys and give thanks to God for everything.

Our wonderful new friends… 

Photo of 6 of us after a lovely evening meal. Sarah & i meeting 5 new friends

Sarah & i like to share a table with other passengers, mainly to take this opportunity to try and be sociable( being blind and trapped in your very small world & not having any eye contact it’s almost impossible to be sociable. or start conversations). So asking someone to read the menu for you because we are blind is a great ice breaker, lol! 

We met 2 lovely couples that night and you will hear a little more about them throughout this trip.

Thanks for joining us on our visit to Aruba! Have you been here before? 🤔

To be continued… 

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☀️ #52 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Grenada” 🇬🇩 (2018)

Grenada logo

 Good morning friends and welcome to Grenada! 😀  

 Sarah’s really looking forwards to Grenada and visiting the nutmeg factory, she loves nutmeg! It reminds her of lovely memories of her even lovelier nan, and the beautiful smell of her legendary rice pudding.

After yesterdays post (short story) i thought we’d have a lovely gentle coach ride…What can go wrong, lol! 🤣   

Where are we going today… 

All cinnamon, cloves and allspice, it’s little wonder Grenada’s known as the Caribbean’s Spice Island. But they’re not the only treats that grow here. There’s plenty of citrus, bananas and cocoa beans too. In fact, the menu of plants that call this place home reads like the ingredients for a Nigella recipe, so it’s easy to see how this place came to be one of the world’s leading spice suppliers.

You’ll wind through the rainforest to the Grand Etang Lake viewing point. A giant volcano crater filled to the brim with cobalt water, it’s certainly easy on the eye. And its volcano-top location makes it all the more breathtaking. From here, you’ll travel to Annandale Falls, a fairytale paradise of cascading water, hanging ferns and dainty orchids that’s like a secret Caribbean garden. Then it’s of to the nutmeg factory!

 On the dock…

Wow you can smell the lovely warm spices even from the dock! Oh and what a beautiful place! 😀 

Me on the dock with the sea behind me and the cliffs slowly drifting into the sea behind me

Island of Grenada from the sea

 We boarded our air conditioned coach and met our guide who was very knowledgable about the history of this incredible island. The first thing we noticed is just how green it was. Massive fruit and all kinds of food just grew along the roadside, it was just lush with life! It wasn’t long before we were getting off the coach for our first stop of the day.   

 Annandale Falls…

Sarah expertly guided me down steep paths and large steps to get down to the waterfall…And it was totally worth it. 😀  

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 Wow i really hoped you could feel how fresh and cool it was when stepping nearer this waterfall, i could’ve stayed there all day but it’s back to the coach. 

the bus rear whell is so close to a sheer drop off the cliff

Wait a minute…That’s a sheer drop! I kept asking if they wanted me to drive?? 🤣   

Grand Etang Lake viewing point and national park…

Every time we stepped off the coach we were greeted with the amazing smell of the spices, and walking through the national park there were a few stalls where we could finally buy some! 😀  

It was so beautiful up here. 

Beautiful green landscape of trees and rolling hills

Beautiful green landscape of trees and rolling hills

me in my blue chequed shirt in front of the green landscape and rolling hills

 Back on the coach… 

We were driving past many nutmeg trees when the coach slowed and came to a stop and the guide jumped out, picked something and jumped back on the coach. 

He held up the freshly picked spice and told us all about the nutmeg and it’s various uses, he was showing us their yellow apricot-sized fruits, that were often split open, showing the red mace covering the hard-shelled nut with the seed inside. He also told us that Grenada is one of the biggest producers of this spice in the world, after Indonesia from whose Banda islands this nut originates. 

The coach then pulled away and we had a beautiful scenic drive until we reached the nutmeg factory. 😀  

View of the bay of Grenada

The nutmeg factory…

 Wow…What a delight for the senses! The wonderful aroma ensconced us as we walked into the factory and it never let us go until we were back on the coach.

We were shown and told all about the process from farming to distribution around the world. The ladies were smiling (some even singing) which gave a lovely feel to the place. My favourite part was the snapping and popping of the used shells under our feet, it was so loud. The guide told us that not even the shells are wasted as locals put them on their paths and around their gardens so they know if someone (or something) is coming!

Inside Nutmeg factory

Inside nutmeg factory 2

Inside nutmeg factory 3

Inside nutmeg factory 4

This nutmeg factory industry is an essential part of the island economy and it’s gratifying to contribute in some small way to its continuance.

The shop… 

At the end we went to a souvenir shop, where nutmeg products are sold in all kinds of forms, from powder and jams to syrups. Most of our group were already on the coach and we only had a few minutes. It smelt amazing and we wanted to take everything. Sarah bought an incredible smelling cream then we rushed back on to the coach.

We later found out the Sarah had bought an insect repellent “No way i thought it was a moisturising cream…But it smells so amazing!” We used it lots but made sure to save some as it really does smell incredible! 😀 

Me in a bright yellow t-shirt waving my arms in the air in front of the cruise ship

Back on the ship…

I was happy for the refresh as the plaster on my leg (from yesterday) wouldn’t stick as i was so hot my legs felt they had custard drooling down them. 😀  

Well we’ve sadly made it (mostly intact)  to the end of another cruise (Seven Isles Cruise) but the adventure doesn’t stop here! This is the first week of our 2 week cruise and stay, so tomorrow we head for Barbados. We are staying for a week at ‘Southern Palms Beach Club’ and hope to meet with you there! 😀  

To be continued…  

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☀️ #51 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Martinique” 🇲🇶 (2018)

Martinique logo

 Bonjour mes amis (Good Morning My Friends) and welcome to Martinique! 

Sorry but Sarah & i took no photos at all on the very wet shore excursion. Yes even i was in my wet gear (last time ever) and we had no water proof cameras. But this is a must read and a gripping drama of an adventure we’ll never forget! 

Side note…Although it’s called a post it’s actually more like a short story. So settle back with your favourite beverage and enjoy the drama! 😨  

Let’s have a look and see where we are going… 

Kayaking Mangroves Martinique

Had your fill of sunbathing and swimming? This is one for the more active crowd. You’ll first travel to a nearby islet to pick up your kayaks. And with paddles at the ready, you’ll head off into the quiet mangroves. You’ll be in the water about 40 minutes, gliding under tropical canopies. And red and black mangrove trees sprout from the water. Guides are on hand to make sure you get the most out of the day and help you perfect your technique. Plus there’s plenty of time to chill with a fruit juice, or swim in the sea before taking the boat back to the ship.

On the dock and boarding the boat…

After another lovely breakfast we left the ship and joined our excursion guide on the dock. We stood waiting for a while and started talking to a lovely man and his grandson who he was taking on our trip. When the man knew i was registered blind and still kayaking and swimming he seemed to relax a little. Yay i can help without helping! 😀  

We were then guided onto a small fun boat, it had a totally flat and wide floor (like a dance floor) so was easy for me to get on. We took our seats around the edge of the boat and it pulled away bobbing across the sea. The cool sea breeze flowed briskly through the boat (which i enjoyed) and before long we were pulling up to a small islet. Sarah unplugged her insulin pump and stored it safe in our bags that we’d left on the boat, then we stepped off the boat and after a short lesson on kayaking we were ready to get in. 

The kayak and the mangroves…

 As this was the second time we’d tried kayaking (see 1st time in Mexico) we thought we knew what to expect. Sarah climbed in the back seat and i sat in the front waiting for the navigator (Sarah) to direct. The guide took us across the open sea and we swiftly pulled into line about half way up the group. We were kayaking across the open Caribbean sea and it was incredible, it’s such a lovely feeling being out in the open sea. Then we started to turn towards the mangroves. The group pulled in tight as we made our way along the stunning narrow waterway. 

Then…

I heard a commotion a head of me and a screaming/shouting. As we pulled nearer a woman had fallen in and her husband was still in the kayak trying to help her. The woman was freaking out and on the verge of hysterics and could not be reasoned with. As a side note…During our boat ride from the ship the guides showed the group huge photos (about A3) of the omnifarious types of creatures out there including huge crabs that lay on the floor and the sides of the mangroves, and i think the woman had those photos still etched in her mind. Sarah said the woman was up to her shoulders in water and couldn’t get back in to the kayak. Her paddle had hit the side of our kayak so we stopped to give her support and save her paddle for when she gets back in. 

 With the woman safely back in the kayak (she was fuming) the group continued along the amazing mangroves until we stopped for a rest before heading further along for about 20 minutes until it opened back out in to the Caribbean sea. Now we could test the top speed as we flew back to the little dock thingy. I wouldn’t say our kayaking always went smoothly and we have had a few crossed paddles along the way, but we had fun and made it back.

The boat and the short beach break…

 We sat back down on the boat (tired) after a fantastic kayak trip and the guide said “It’s about half an hour until we get to the beach, so relax and come and have a fresh cold drink at the bar area at the front of the boat. I said to Sarah “That was the Blind Sightseers 2nd kayak trip and we made it without sinking or capsizing again” “Yeah i know” Sarah said very slowly and quite slurry. At firs i thought she was just tired as it took a lot out of us with all of the paddling, and how could it be a hypo as she hasn’t had her pump attached? But i said “Are you ok?” If it is a hypo then i need to hear her speak so i know it is for definite. “I think i’m having a hypo?!” Sarah said as she looked at her pump to clarify the very low reading. I knew Sarah really wanted to enjoy the beach we were heading towards but this was going to be a big hypo! 

I jumped up and headed for the juice bar and asked for any full sugar orange juice if they had any? They did and Sarah was just with it enough to be able to drink it…Now we wait to see if the sugar kicks in or Sarah passes out. I do not enjoy this bit at all, but i just think about how Sarah must be feeling and stop complaining! The music on the boat was loud, the people were chatting away while i was trying to keep Sarah sat upright. About 15 minutes had passed and the juice wasn’t really working, so i got up and asked for another one. I knew Sarah really wanted to go on the beach and would be upset if she missed it, but i also knew she’d be absolutely freezing after this hypo…The T1D’s who read this will know exactly what i’m talking about, the bone chill that happens is like your bone themselves are frozen and the only way to get warm again is to have a hot bath. 

With about 5 minutes to go Sarah’s speech became much more normal again and she asked if we’d already been to the beach. “Not yet my love, we are about 5 minutes away but we can just stay on the boat where it’s safe” I said with my arm around Sarah trying to get her warm. “Now way it’s freezing on here and it’s in the shade, at least the beach will be in the sun and i can warm up” “Good thinking” i said as people were getting ready to leave the boat. “Hang on” i said as i heard a couple of people splash into the water “It sounds like we are not on land” “No we’re not, we are in a beautiful film set looking place but the beach island is a long way over there” The guide said we have about half an hour until the boat sounds it’s 1st of 2 horns then you have a few minutes to get back on board, the guide continued You can swim over to the  beach if you want to as we have permission to use the bar there etc but make sure you’re back on the boat shortly after the 1st horn blast”. Sarah said “The sea should be warmer than being trapped in here and lots of people are getting off so we can have a swim over to the island and get warm” “Sounds like a plan, let’s go”.

The sea and the island…

Sarah guided me to the back of the boat and there were steps leading down to the sea. “Steve you can sit on the bottom step and then push yourself off” “Which way is the beach?” Sarah pointed at a 90˚ angle to her right “Ok thanks if i can’t tread water i’ll head that way until i hit land”, here goes…

As i slid off the last step i went straight under and started to sink like a stone. At the same time salt water filled my lungs as i panicked and i seemed to stop breathing. I kicked my legs and frantically thrust my arms in a a swimming motion with little effect…At first. More water filled my mouth and lungs and finally my head poked out of the water. I think the panic of drowning was overtaking me as i couldn’t keep my head above water long enough to spit out all of the salt water. Treading water was out of the question but if i swam i seemed to stay on top. I only know 2 swimming strokes Breast stroke and doggy paddle (doggy paddle really wouldn’t work right now). I said to myself “Steve you’re not drowning here and leaving Sarah all on her own…Just swim to the beach” I knew if i stopped then i’d drown , and i knew roughly which way the beach is so i started the breast stroke (i’m really good at breast stroke). The faster i went the less likely i was going to drown so i kicked and pumped my arms as hard as i could!

I seemed to be swimming for quite a while and i couldn’t hear Sarah at all, i thought Sarah wouldn’t leave me out here alone? But maybe she is next to me or behind me as i can only hear the water forcing it’s way into my ears, either way i’ll meet up with her on the beach as she is an amazing swimmer”. There was no beach or island getting any closer and i tried looking and i thought i could see a shadow of something to my right (it was just blue everywhere else) so i steered myself towards the shadow and kept pumping my quickly tiring arms and legs.

“YES” i said whilst spitting out another mouthful of salt water “This looks like an island. OUCH” i said as my knee hit something sharp and hard, it stopped me dead and i kicked my legs around to try and get purchase on something. I was so thankful that i’d bought some ‘Hot Tuna’ beach shoes with heavy rubber tread, as all i could feel with my feet were lots of points like hundreds of tall pointy pyramids trying to pierce me. As i’m blind i’m really good at feeling with my feet to compensate my sight loss, and after a few attempts i managed to grip on with a foot either side of the huge point. I was crouched and wobbling as i tried to counter the waves hitting me constantly but i was glad of the rest. Looking straight ahead (where i thought the boat would be) i saw nothing but blue. “Wow no boat or people” i could also hear nothing or no-one. “How far have i swam” i thought whilst looking to my left, i was using and straining my very blurry sight to it’s limit but i could make out that this islet i was on continued further along. Realising i couldn’t stay hear (especially as my foot slipped and my left shin is stinging like mad) i pushed away. 

Finally after swimming around those nasty pointy things  i crawled my way onto the beach. “I thought they said there was a bar here” i thought whilst hearing nothing as i sat down to catch my breath and to think about what had just happened. I expected to hear Sarah calling me…But nothing. I looked out again straining until my eyes burned but couldn’t see a boat either. My left shin was really stinging and i knew it was bleeding and had salt water in it,…

Then…

As i was rubbing my hands to get the sand off i noticed my wedding ring was missing. My heart dropped through the floor so i checked again…Still missing. My first thought was “Sarah’s going to kill me” as i dropped to my knees to search around the sand with my sweeping hands. I couldn’t find it and knew it probably flew off in the mad panic from the boat, so i started walking up and down the beach at the sea edge and thought, “if people were looking for me at least they have a better chance of spotting me if i’m up and moving”. The beach was only about 50 meters long and i’d done a few lengths already and still heard nothing. I walked another time up and down the beach with the realisation of my predicament setting in. I was tired, i’d lost my wedding ring and i was lost on a Caribbean islet, i’d stopped walking at this point and was just looking out into the vast blue sea deep in prayer and thought when…

“Steve?” i looked a little to my right where i’d heard the noise and thought “That’s not Sarah’s voice” “Steve?” “Yes” i said as the man continued “Sarah (your wife) has sent me to guide you back to the boat” I was almost in tears of relief as i started to walk into the sea and join him. He continued “How much can you see?” “Very likktle” i said “Ok just follow my voice as i keep shouting at you”. I was back in the water and swimming along behind my navigator as we arrived at the rear of the boat. My mind was picturing me swimming into the propellers and slicing me into a thousand pieces just as i thought i’d made it, but i hit the bottom step instead. 😲

Here is a photo of my wedding ring that is still in Martinique! 

Wedding Rings

Climbing the last step and into Sarah’s arms she said “You’re not swimming ever again!” i replied “I do not disassociate myself from that statement!”. Sarah continued “Do you have any idea how terrified i was that i’d lost you?!

I heard you enter the water as i was looking down to make sure i didn’t trip on any of the tiny steps. A lady who was smashing around with an inflatable lilo and another person were totally distracting me with another inflatable they’d pulled out of nowhere, so when i’d looked up…You’d disappeared. I quickly looked to the right (towards the beach) to see if i could see anyone swimming in that direction, nothing. I looked straight ahead and still nothing. For some reason i looked out to the open sea, and just caught sight of your head bobbing up and down, The woman on the lilo kept chatting and chatting really loudly, people were behind me getting more drinks and some were trying to get into the water, it was really confusing. I tried asking the woman on the lilo to help but she wouldn’t leave her lilo, so i asked a man behind me for some help, and when i turned back around…You’d vanished again! More time passed and my thoughts didn’t get any happier. I was still freezing and feeling a little sick after the hypo, i just wanted you back and to get a hot shower back in the cabin to get rid of this bone chill.

I continued asking for help when this kind man came over to me and i told him how you were heading for the beach, but i’d seen you in the opposite direction heading out to sea! The man looked out to sea and couldn’t see you anywhere, then he looked towards the beach and couldn’t see you there either. A few more minutes went by and the man said “There he is!” “Where?” Sarah said “He’s on the beach walking up and down the beach” “Is he ok?” “he looks fine” “Steve is registered blind and won’t be able to see the boat never mind how he’s going to get back. Could you please go and guide him back?” I was so relieved when the man left to go and get you…And now here you are! You’re banned from ever swimming again and you’re never leaving my sight! 😡 

Safe on the boat…

We’d sat back down when i was about to tell Sarah about losing my wedding ring when she said “What have you done to your leg?” I lifted my throbbing leg up for her to see “Wow it’s cut and bleeding” “I know it’s stinging like mad” “Ibet it is, how did you do that?” I thought about a reply but it would be too long, and i’ll tell her the details later “I’ve got even worse news than my leg” “What could be worse than this?” I held up my hand and said “My wedding ring has gone, it must’ve come off in my blind panic (pun intended)”. I was expecting a drilling but got a hug instead “That’s ok i’m just glad to have you back” ❤️

Back on the ship…

Me and the marella discovery

⇧ Photo of the Marella Discovery from a later date ⇧   

After a refresh and a very strong coffee, we went to reception and asked if a nurse could take a quick look at my leg to make sure it wasn’t infected. We went down to the hospital deck and had my massive gaping wound (large cut) cleaned and got lots of large plasters to keep it covered for a couple of days. 😀  

We decided not to get dressed up for the evening meal and just go up and get a snack from the buffet restaurant. We were just walking in when…

The man,  his wife and his grandson walked up to us. The man was really limping as he approached and Sarah said “Oh no what happened? Did you enjoy the adventure today?” The grandson said he’d really enjoyed himself and the grandad said “I stepped onto a sea urchin and it pierced straight through my sea shoes and deep into my foot”. Sarah & i made the noise together “Aawwwww” “Yes it really hut and when i stepped backwards after the first sting, i stepped onto another one but luckily it didn’t get me as bad! Did you 2 enjoy the day?” Sarah relayed the story of what happened and showed him my leg. As we said our goodbyes i was in need of a chip butty! 😀  

As we sat down and chatted about the usual Blind Sightseers adventure i said “I didn’t know i could swim that fast?!” “Don’t start” Sarah said with a smile lighting up her face. 😀  

Thank you…

If you are still reading this and can’t quite believe what ’The Blind Sightseers’  can do on a simple shore excursion…Then we thank you profusely for coming along for the ride! This is still an abridged version but i know i can’t go on and on and on like Sarah says i do, lol! 🤣    

We’ll see you in the morning for another (hopefully less dramatic) shore excursion.

To be continued…

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☀️ #50 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Saint Lucia” 🇱🇨 (2018)

Saint Lucia logo

Good morning friends! We are in Saint Lucia! 😀 ☀️ 🌴 

Wow…It’s our 50th day of our trip. I can’t believe we’ve hit this milestone already time is cruising by and i hope you’re still enjoying this adventure?! 😀  

What a day yesterday! As we had to focus on not falling to our death we didn’t get to see much of the rain forest canopy…So we thought we’d book this excursion today at a more relaxing pace. Wait a minute…Did i say relaxing? This can’t be right we’re ‘The Blind Sightseers’ lol. 🤣  

Aerial Tram: Scenic Tour

Soar above a tropical rainforest reserve on this sky-high tour. Hop on to an open-air gondola and rise up through Castries Waterworks Reserve, where you’ll have a bird’s eye view over the rainforest. With towering trees, tangled vines, and brightly coloured hummingbirds, this exotic jungle is Mother Nature at her best. As you glide through the canopy, your experienced guide will share their knowledge, point out unusual plant life, and identify the calls of local birds.

Once your feet are back on the ground, your guide will take you on a short walk through the forest, so remember to wear your walking boots. And, of course, you’ll need a camera to capture the colourful sights around you.

 On the coach…

We sat at the front of the coach (thanks excursion team) and even though our muscles were hurting from yesterdays zip lining and from walking up a million steps through the rain forest, we sat back and listened to the guide tell us about Saint Lucia. I was excited as our excursion involves an arial tram…Could i call it a cable car? If so then it’s the 4th cable car of our lockdown memory trip! 

We heard a lot of people worrying about heights and if the arial tram would be safe. This is where another of our blind perks help us. As both me and Sarah have severe sight problems we don’t know how high we are, which works great as i’m scared of heights…And it worked brilliantly yesterday walking and zip lining above the rain forest canopy! So it should work well today too! 🤣  

 The arial tram… 

Me waiting for the Gondela

 Standing at the start of the arial tram circuit we had a few minutes to wait for our turn to begin. 

Me and Sarah sat in the arial tram

 Yay we are on board and ready to go! Unfortunately we didn’t take many photos as we simply didn’t want to drop our phones out of the arial tram and onto the floor miles below us. 

close side profile of my face as Sarah is sat right next to me and the rain forest behind me

Hey…That’s a sneaky shot, lol! 🤣   

We continued to travel through the multiple layers of the rainforest in our open air ride, we travelled all the way from the forest floor and all the way to the top (and beyond) of the canopy!

Our new car was sturdy and felt very safe, and our guide continued to tell us about the incredible trees and plants we were passing, then as we climbed a little higher the leaves of the trees began to overshadow us and block our view…

And then…

I’m not sure what just happened? But it seems like we’ve just travelled through a classic literature portal in our arial tram which has just trasformed into a ‘travel box’ and we seem to be travelling through ‘Brobdingnag’ as we glide through the pages of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ part 2.

This is my roundabout way of saying the leaves were enormous! I’ve never seen leaves this big ever, 1 leaf easily covered the whole tram and was so wide it was beyond belief!

We were coming up to the half way point where the tram turns around to make the return trip down, the breeze up here was lovely and there is a nice view of the northern part of the island and both oceans come into view…If you could see them, lol! 😀  

Sat looking from the arial tram looking over the top of the rain forest

view over the huge rain forest

Very close up of me looking near the camera with the rain forest behind me

 The rain forest floor…

After the tram ride, our guide took us on a 20 minute walk and continued our education of the fascinating trees and beautifully vivid flowers on the forest floor. The path was treacherous and laced with tree roots, rocks and hidden holes, so when i’d engaged my knees into full suspension mode i was ready to go! The combination of my warrior wife and my super duper sandals protected me once again…Thank you Sarah! ❤️ 

A complimentary (and very tasty) glass of non alcoholic punch  was welcoming us upon our return from the all terrain walk. There is a nice gift shop with locally made sauces and spices. We bought the photo of me and Sarah sitting in the tram from here (2nd photo in this post) which is a lovely memory for us. 😀

Back at the dock…

Right we were on a mission to try and find (and eat) some Breadfruit. This was our 3rd cruise in the Caribbean (5th in total) and the guides always talked about the Breadfruit but we’d never got the chance to eat it. But today is the day. We walked out of the dock and we were instantly greeted by a street with shops, market stalls and men trying to arrest you (i mean sell you things). Our plan (so we didn’t get lost) was to walk up the right hand side of the street as far as we could go, then return by crossing the road and walking back down to the ship…Sound simple enough. 😀  

We didn’t have to walk far before we stumbled upon a fruit and veg stall, and after a while of Sarah looking at each vegetable she said “Steve i don’t think i recognise any of the vegetables at all?!” The man on the stall asked if we needed any help? Sarah said “Your vegetables are amazing and look nothing like anything back in England” “Thank you and that is Dasheen you were just looking at, it’s local to Saint Lucia” he said as Sarah continued “We are looking for some Breadfruit to try, is there anywhere here we can try some? We’d also like to try Dasheen too?!” “If you go over the road into the indoor market there is a place who cooks it all day” “Wow thanks very much” Sarah said and we crossed the road.

Breadfruit & Dasheen… 

We found the little cooking place and it had a few tables outside. The lady said “ Hi Can i help you?” Sarah said “We’re looking to try some Breadfruit and Dasheen if we can pleas?” “What would you like them with?” “Just some Breadfruit and Dasheen on their own please” “What with?” “It’s ok we’d just like to try them to see what they taste like, so on their own please”. The woman getting a little impatient said “You have to have them with something they’ll be too dry on their own” I thought it wouldn’t be too dry for me as i can eat dry toast without butter for some reason, but i digress. Sarah asked “What would you have with them as we can’t see well enough to see your menu?” “I’ll make it nice for you, take a seat”. 

The lady placed the food down in front of us and we got stuck in. Sarah said “Wow it looks like Tipex” We both tried some Breadfuit and decided it tasted of absolutely nothing! I said “I didn’t think something could taste of nothing?!”  After we both decided it was used as a filler like a potato we started on the Dasheen. “Wow, now that’s nice” we both said “it’s so herby and really tasty we should’ve just had a plate of this” i said “Yeah but there is no way i’m asking the lady, lol!” 😀  

The bird feeder…

We left the indoor market discussing Breadfruit and Dasheen as we walked back towards the ship, when a really funny and cool guy walked over to us. He said with his thick Caribbean accent  “Would you like a bird feeder?” Sarah said “No thanks” we had only slowed our pace down a little ⇧This bird feeder is the one you want” “We’re good thank you we don’t need a bird feeder” The man had walked in front of us now so we stopped “I made this bird feeder and it’s just $30 US” “£30 dollars, we are fine thanks and that’s too much” “ok, $25” the man said as he was making us laugh with his humour “That’s still too much and we don’t have room in our suitcases anyway for a bird feeder” The man made a small laughing sound and said “Watch this…You see this is a special bird feeder” he continued as he pulled a couple of wooden bits off the bird feeder and made it smaller “This is a special travel bird feeder as it comes apart” Oh man i thought he’s got us on that one, lol. Sarah continued “It’s still too much for us” Afterr another 20 minutes chatting with this man (we really liked him he had such a cool character) Sarah bought the bird feeder for $15. 😀 

The bird feeder

Back on the ship…

 With another relaxing strong iced coffee we chatted about the fantastic day we’d had and the experiences we’ve shared, and it wasn’t long before we had the photo shoot and the lovely evening meal.

The food photo quiz…

I wonder if you guys could help us? We’ve taken this photo of a fantastic plate of food but we have no idea what it is? And we can’t remember? Could you have a go at describing it for us? We just know we must have loved it as it inspired a photo. 😀   

IMG 0352

 The photo shoot…

We had such fun messing around (i mean being serious) during the shoot. The photographer was great and kept talking so i could have some idea where they were standing. Now we have even more photos together that we’ll cherish. ❤️ 😀   

Sarah and me touching foreheads

Me and Sarah both looking at the camera

Sarah * i looking at each other and Sarah has her hand on my cheek

Sarah with arms aound my shoulders

Sarah with arms aound my shoulders

Photo of me in a suit and a purple spooty bow tie

Sarah with head laying on her arms and a huge smile

 We’ve had another memorable day, isn’t Saint Lucia beautiful? Have you got any rain forest experiences? 

Thank you once again it’s such a blessing to have you guys join us on our adventures. 😀  

But the drama, fun and exploration hasn’t stopped yet!

To be continued… 

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☀️ #49 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Antigua” 🇦🇬 (2018)

Antigua logo

 Good morning friends…Wow we’re in Antigua! 😀 ☀️  

Well the trip is still going ahead (i knew they wouldn’t cancel this one) but let’s remind ourselves what we’re doing today?!  

Antigua Zip Line Canopy Adventure:

Hear the distant sound of running water, exotic chirps and the whistling of birds flying over the canopy. This is an adventure playground with a difference. It all takes place 50 to 300 feet off the ground in Antigua’s rainforest canopy, including a series of 12 zip-lines – some stretching lengths of over 300 feet, a leap of faith, 3 aerial walkways and a suspension bridge. Not forgetting the hidden tree house where the world seems to stand still.

This thrilling journey includes 26 elements and 9 typical challenge course features, with water stations along the way. This really is an adventure in the sun! Don’t worry, you’re in safe hands, all the rangers here are trained to world challenge course standards and before you set off in your harness you’ll have a full safety briefing, to learn all about the equipment.

On the dock…

Yay we’re back in Antigua! If you remember the last time (our first time here) we did horse riding across the beach (click here for the post). We love that all of the assistance people on the dock wear bright yellow t-shirts too. After following our assistance person to the taxi place we got in a nice minibus that took us to the deadly zip lines. 😨

The safety harness…

Our small group went inside and had a short safety briefing and as they know i’m registered blind i got my own assistant. They let me hold the harness and the huge carabiners. I started to feel a little better after holding the super heavy duty harness. The assistant strapped it on really tight and i was ready. I checked that Sarah was still next to me and had everything sorted too. Sarah often gets neglected as the people see that i’m the blind one and then leave Sarah to carry on without help…But Sarah is also registered blind but not quite as severely as me (totally different eye problems). 

The ranger dude…

Walking out and onto the start of the wooden bridge with thousands of steps leading up and through the rain forest and above the canopy Sarah and i was greeted by the amazing ranger guide (forgot his name unfortunately). He was simply fantastic and guided me up every step by calling out when a step was coming etc. He said “I’ll clip onto the cable behind you and fly down with you” i said “Thanks as i won’t be able to see the end and when i need to brake, i’ll just fly straight into the tree at the end like a cartoon character”.

Here goes…

Me on the zip line with te zip line dude attached to me

He used really clear instructions and before long i was lifting my feet up and landing on the platform at the other end. “Wow that was cool” i said whilst laughing and trying to find the rail to lean against. I wonder where Sarah is…Sarah was last and all on her own to figure out how to do it all, she of course managed it somehow! 😀 The ranger asked if we were both ok and if we enjoyed the little zip line to start with.

I said “Little one? Yeah it was amazing, so is there longer and higher ones?” “Oh yes the longest one is called the screamer and i’ll let you know when we get there as it takes a video of you too”. 

I remember wishing i had a camera up here as it was beautiful, and i still can’t believe we only had 2 photos and 1 video of the day…But that’s better than nothing. 🤣  

We had much more fun on the longer zip lines, climbing higher and higher steps with the guide passing us cups of water at each water station, wow i needed that. 

And then…

We finally arrived at ‘The Screamer’…It’s the highest, fastest and longest zip-line in this place. It stretches 328 feet across a ravine and is 350 feet above the rain forest floor.

I stepped slowly to the edge of the platform, my heart was trying to pound its way out of my chest…Even though i’m on beta blockers and my heart rate cannot go over 120bpm no matter how hard i try. I reached above my head and clipped my carabiner onto the cable and took a deep breath as I sat my whole weight into my harness. “Are you ready to make some noise?” the ranger dude behind me said “Oh yeah” and we stepped of the incredibly high platform…

Yay!! We’ve done it!! Sarah flew down too and even did a couple of spins (nobody likes a show off, lol) we both laughed lots and with just a couple of zip lines left we could safely say ‘The Blind Sightseers’ have conquered another challenge! 💪🏼  😀  

Me on the zip line with the zip line dude attached to me and we are high above the rain forest

 The cafe, bar and gift shop…

Finishing the last zip line and then walking across rope bridges we ended up in the gift shop. I thanked the ranger profusely as he left to guide another group. 

“Wow it would be fantastic if we could buy something from here to remind us of this monumental day. Sarah found a beautiful Antigua bauble for our Christmas tree and she bought a really cool t-shirt (Sarah modelling it below) that says “For a good attitude, change your latitude”.

Photo of the back of Sarah's t-shirt

Returning to the dock…

We had a quiet ride back as we both were reflecting on managing zip lining as blindies and the relief that i didn’t die today. 😀 The minibus pulled in and we started walking back towards the ship for our iced coffee refresh when…

Sarah said “My hat” “What do you men?” i said “I’ve lost my hat?!” “What your really cool one that you’ve had for years” “Yes that one, i think i’ve left it at the zip lining place or on the minibus. I lost my sunglasses yesterday and now my hat today”. We walked back to the taxi rank and asked the man who then phoned one of his drivers. About half an hour later another minibus arrived with the second group from our tour and the driver had Sarah’s hat! Sarah must have left it in the cafe after all of the excitement! Phew! 😀  

Back on the ship…

“Aww now that’s a  nice cold coffee” i said whilst sitting back in the lovely big arm chair in the coffee place “I can’t believe we’ve done it, a blind man (and woman) have done zip lining!” “I knew we would do it and i still get to keep one of my fave hats”. 😀  

We’ve booked a photo session tomorrow like the one we had last year when we were at ‘Olympia’, it’s a colour shoot this time instead of black and white. And of course as it’s another lovely new island we have another shore excursion booked too. 

Did you enjoy your time in Antigua? Have you ever done zip lining before?

To be continued…  

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☀️ #47 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Tobago” 🇹🇹 (2018)

Tobago logo

 Good morning friends, welcome to Tobago! ☀️ 😀 

 Yay we’ve made it onto another cruise ship and it’s in the Caribbean! ☀️ We have booked a 1 week cruise (Seven Isles Cruise) and then a week stay on Barbados at the Southern Palms beach resort. Wow we are excited! 😀  

It’s time to see what the Blind Sightseers(and you) will be doing today…  

Tobago South Walking: Easy Scenic TourThis tour offers up Tobago’s natural beauty and history rolled into one. After travelling through Scarborough, you’ll arrive at the Mysterious Tombstone, the burial place of an 18th-century woman called Betty Stivens. Her gravestone bears an enigmatic epitaph, which has puzzled people for over 230 years. You’ll also see nearby Fort James, built by the Latvians in the 1600s to guard Great Courland Bay. Next comes a drive along Mount Irvine Road, following the scenic northwest coast to the famous Mount Irvine Bay Hotel and Golf Club. Its undulating fairways are carved from an old sugar plantation and serve up wonderful panoramas over the Caribbean Sea. From here, it’s on to Store Bay, one of Tobago’s most beautiful beaches, where white sands mingle with glossy palms, crab-n-dumpling stalls and light blue seas. We’ll also call in at Fort King George. Built by the British in the 1770s, its old buildings and cannons sit in manicured lawns high above Scarborough, giving you breathtaking views over the coastline and capital.

 On the coach…

“Ooohhh it’s nice on here” I said whilst tilting my head up towards the air conditioned vent above my head. I’d forgotten about this oasis away from the burning laser beaming sun. The coach stopped at fort King George and the guide said “Leave any bags or belongings on the coach so you don’t have to carry them around. I said to Sarah “I think i’ll stay here” Sarah quickly responded “Get up and get off the coach it’s freezing on here, lol!” 😀  

Fort King George… 

Me in Tobago with my thumb up

Me in Tobago

I loved walking around and touching the old cannons, it reminded me of a touch tour back stage at the theatre before a play would start (another blind perk, lol).

Sarah at Tobago

Sarah at Tobago

 My lovely wife Sarah enjoying the view, she said you could see all around and was a perfect spot for a fort!  

Sarah underneath the special tree

 Sarah stood underneath the great Saman tree.  

Portrait of me wearing my sunglassesPortrait of me wearing my sunglasses

The mystery tomb of Betty Stiven…

After hearing the story of Betty Stiven we walked down to see more of the coast line. It was such a shame it had a fence in the way but it was there for good reason…I’ve forgotten why it’s there though, lol! 🤣  

Landscape shot of the island shore line with a steel fence arond

me capturing Sarah taking a panorama

 Wait a minute…That’s not Sarah taking a panorama is it??

Panorama of the coast line through the fence

 Scarborough and the necklace…

We had some free time to explore the market and town. We headed straight for the market stalls  as Sarah loves all of the crafts and necklaces hand made and sold by the locals on the market stalls. Walking around the tables Sarah found a few necklaces that she liked…But one she loved! She asked how much it was and they said “$70” “Thank you” Sarah said whilst smiling as we walked away. Sarah continued “Wow it’s expensive here and all i wanted was another pendant on a thong to remember this place” We walked up to a shop selling scarves and they were about $100! “Woooaah” I said “That’s really expensive” Sarah started to walk back to the market stall with the necklace and looked at the necklace again. “No…It’s not worth $70” I knew she loved this necklace and i said “Well…Maybe you could get it as i know you love it and we won’t be here again?!” As we hummed and hawed over what we were going to do i said “Ok let’s get it but that’s taken our budget for this island but i know you love it”. 

When the store owner came and put the necklace in a bag and said “$70 please” we handed him the money. There was a slight pause and i felt something going on he continued “Wow…I meant 70 Trinidadian dollars” We only had US dollars for the trip as the exchange people said the island all take US dollars so you’ll be fine. I think i had heat stroke or something but the man continued “We generally get a bad name from tourists for ripping you people off and it’s simply not true. There are 7 TD to the US dollar so the necklace is $10 US”. Sarah started beaming and i was so thankful to the man and thanked him profusely! 😀 Another teachable moment that we’ve never forgotten…But what a lovely Haematite necklace! 😀   

Haematite  Necklace with a star

  Back at the dock…

After a refresh on the ship that now includes an iced coffee. It’s not a coffee port like the ‘Dream’ ship as that is the best place ever we headed off the ship and into the town. Oh did i mention it was hot (for me). ☀️  

iPhone app showing Tobago at 29˚C

There were only a few stalls in a small market where we stumbled into a fruit and vegetable store. After Sarah had walked around the stall looking at crazy vegetables she’d never seen in England before she said “Would you like a banana from Tobago?” “Yes please i’d love to see if they taste any different?!” i said as Sarah bought 1 each and we walked down the street towards the ship.

The bananas were smaller than a normal sized banana and…

“Wow” we both said as we’d just put the banana in first place on the ‘Blind Sightseers Gastronomic BananaLleaderboard’ “Now that is the best banana i’ve ever tasted” we both said together! 🍌 😀 

Back on the ship…

Sarah & i enjoyed a coffee as the ship pulled away from the shore (we’ve done this on every cruise) and we have a relaxing time thinking about the day and the excursions we’ve booked that are cruising towards us quickly. 

Oh did i mention that we’ve booked to go zip lining high above the rain forest canopy? Have the ‘Blind Sightseers’ stretched a little too far? We are also going kayaking through mangroves and across the Caribbean sea?! I’m a little unsure about some of the excursions we’ve booked but it wouldn’t be an adventure if it was easy, lol! 🤣  

Thank you so much for joining us in Tobago it’s great to see you’re still with us! You might have to put on your detective hats to figure out where we are going tomorrow? 

To be continued…

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☀️ #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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☀️ #39 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Olympia, Greece” 🇬🇷 (2017)

Olympia logo

Sarah raising her arms in victory stood in front of the Thomson Spirit ship

Good morning friends! (Καλημέρα φίλοι) 😀  

We booked this cruise as i really wanted to visit ancient Corinth and Sarah really wanted to go on todays excursion….Olympia! 💪🏼   

Within half an hour’s bus ride of the small fishing village of Katakolon, you’ll find the site of ancient Olympia. Thousands of years ago, the park-like grounds of Olympia were crowded with athletes, preachers, merchants and philosophers. The backdrop was the impressive Temple of Zeus – famous for its 40-foot statue of the god himself, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The temple lies in ruins today, but you can still imagine how its structure would have looked in its heyday. With some help from your guide, the remains of temples, treasuries, porticoes and statues help to bring the site to life.

On the dock…

Meeting our local tour guide off the ship (after an olympic breakfast) we followed her to the coach where the 2 front seats were saved for us again, we really like this Thomson excursion team looking out for us!

The coach had lovely air conditioning again which was great for me, but Sarah had her tracksuit top on as she was freezing, lol! 😀  After about half an hour we arrived at the site of Olympia and stepped off the coach into the blistering sun. Sarah didn’t have her tracksuit top on anymore, and i instantly started overheating! ☀️  

We started walking through the areas where the merchants would have been and the workers and cooks etc. “Wow, how one earth did they do anything in this heat, they were hardcore” i said wishing i had more water. 💧

The guide was incredible and very passionate and knowledgable about the whole area. 

Olympic park in Olympia with lots of trees and sandy paths

Me stood on the right hand side with my tactical sun hat and wearing a black shirt in front of the Olympic park

Olympic park in Olympia with lots of trees and sandy paths

The gym…

Soaking up the blistering heat and more history, we slowly shuffled along to the gym. 💪🏼  

The guide was talking about how the athletes would train (naked) and cover themselves in oil to help collect the dirt, salt, sweat and anything else that stuck to them. Then they would use a strigil as a tool to scrape it all off before bathing.

The guide then said “Does anyone know why this place is called the ‘Gym?” The group fell silent but before the guide continued i said “Gymnós (Γυμνός) is Greek for naked” The guide happily said well done to me and seemed really pleased as Sarah said “How did you know that and none of the others did?” is said “I only know a handful of Greek words (bible study and apologetic books)…And that’s one of them, lol”. 🤣

We then continued walking to take a look at the temples and the ancient lighting of the torch place.

sand paths leading u p to the temples

Ancient piller of the temples

 The guide stopped to read an ancient inscription…

Our tour guide reading some ancient greek carved in a stone on the floor

 Lighting of the torch…

The guide talked all about the history of lighting the olympic flame and carrying the torch around. She then used her shadow to act out the lighting of the flame at the exact point! 😀   

A shadow across the sandy floor of our guide pretending to light the torch from the ancient games at the exact spot

The ancient olympic track…

Totally dehydrated (note to self…One little bottle of water isn’t enough) and my skin felt like it was blistering, we approached the archway to the original ancient olympic start line. 

The ancient archway that leads to the track which you can see through the archway

I thought the huge crowd were cheering away and welcoming us in the true olympic style, but i realised it was the thunderous sound of the cicadas again! 🤣  

The start line…

I thought the heat was blistering already but it didn’t prepare me for the inferno when we walked underneath the archway and onto the track. 🔥🔥

Sarah said “Steve you’ve got to get a photo of me at the original olympic start line! I’ve only been out of my aircast for a few weeks and it would make a great photo…Zena (Sarah’s friend) will comment straight away and tell me off, lol (she did). 😀  

“Here goes” i said “No pressure at all for this shot…It’s only a one off picture” But it worked and Sarah looks fantastic! Sarah had gone for months with an aircast, and now seeing her on the start line looking like a true olympian was another emotional moment for me. She really is my warrior princess wife! ❤️❤️❤️ 

Sarah doing a

Water…I need water…😰 

With our new appreciation of these ancient athletes we slowly made our way to the next stage. 

Me stood listening to the the tour guide

Sarah stood on the bottom right with the whole Olympic village behind her

The archaeological museum…

You’ll now proceed on foot to the Archaeological Museum, which is one of the most important of its kind in Greece and hosts an impressive collection of artefacts. The new museum was constructed in 1975, and eventually opened in 1982, re-exhibiting its treasures. Following some time here you will join your coach for a drive back to your ship.

Photo of the sign at the village camp

Ancient statue of

It was so crowded inside the museum and we couldn’t get many photos, sorry. 

The shop…

We now had about half an hour free time so we went straight for the shop. Yay Sarah managed to find a red t-shirt with the winners reef on the front. I just wanted a bottle of water and stood drinking it whilst trying not to collapse with more heat exhaustion! 

Sarah said “We can’t leave without buying Suzanne (our friend) something from here. Suzanne is mad about the olympics so it would be great to buy her a souvenir from the actual place”. We did! 😀  

Back at the dock… 

the Thompson Spirit in dock

With the ship in sight we had enough time to explore the dock. The dock was great for us and really accessible as it had flat walkways and no surprises. It had a few shops that we could have a look around and see if we can get anymore souvenirs.

rows of the little boats in the dock

rows of the little boats in the dock

And then…

Sarah walking away from the camera along the dock with the Thomson Spirit ship in the background

My beautiful wife has just told me to stand here and is walking away along the dock. “I wonder what she’s seen? Oh wait a minute…She isn’t going for one of her stupendous panoramas is she? She certainly is”. 

A Sarah panoramaa of the whole dock with me stood waving on the right

We don’t visit many docks with a clear view to the ship, so now we have, we’ll make the most of it, lol! 😀   

Sarah doing a i have conquored pose on the dock with the ship in the background

Sarah stood in front of the ship

Photo of me in front of the ship

me stood directly in front of the ship

“I see no ships!” 🤣  

On board the ship…

I was absolutely exhausted as we returned to the cabin…And after drinking about 100 litres of water, cold shower and a change of clothes…I was ready for the fantastic evening meal. 😀  

The photographer…

Our new friends Brian and Ann (met then on the captains night) told us that they had done lots of cruises and had the on board photographer take some photos of them on every cruise. They have a drawer at home full of photos and look at them for lovely memories. “They are not cheap but you can select as many as you like.”. they said as they left the stairway where we had a chance meeting.

Walking up a couple of decks we ran straight into the photographer who’d set up lights and umbrellas at the top of the stairs. “Would you like your photos taken?” “No thanks we’re so tired after todays trip” i said.

“Well we’re doing a special black and white photo shoot this evening if you are interested?” the photographer continued as Sarah and i considered it. I said “I can only just stand up as i’m so tired, nevermind trying to smile and look energised, lol! Sarah told the photographer “Yes ok we’ll give it a go”. The photographer said they’ll meet us back here in 30 minutes, and could i change my shirt into something more suitable for black and white photos (i had a Caribbean shirt on). Thankfully i have 4 identical black short sleeve shirts and i still have a clean one back in the cabin wardrobe! 😀  

We are so glad we had the photos taken! We love them and have them set as desktop wallpapers and iPhone lock screen images…Yay more photos of me and Sarah i’ll cherish. 😀     

Sarah hugging me from behind in black and white

Black and white image of me and Sarah back to back and laughing our heads off

me behind Sarah and we're both laughing

Sarah resting on her hand in a portrait

After the crazy photo shoot, we walked along the deck and it wasn’t long before we bumped into these fantastic creations.  

fantastic carved fruit

Back at the cabin…

I almost collapsed onto the great towel creature that was waiting for us on the bed… 

Towel folded lobster looking at the camera

Wow…What a day! We’ve had an incredible time with so many lovely memories. We hope you’ve enjoyed it too?!

To be continued…  

Our Route…..

On Monday evening Thomson Spirit sails to the port of Corfu, Greece having travelled 165 nautical miles at an average speed of 13 knots.

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☀️ #38 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Itea, Greece”🇬🇷(2017)

Itea logo

Good morning friends! (Καλημέρα φίλοι) 😀  

Let’s see where the ‘Blind Sightseers’ are going today…  

 You’ll visit the glorious mountain setting for this monastery with outstanding Byzantine mosaics. Osias Loukas (Holy Luke) settled here in the early 10th.century and the church was built over his grave around 963 AD. It is the earliest extant domed-octagon church, and is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

On the dock…

The Thomson excursion team didn’t disappoint again and were waiting for us as we stepped off the ship. The kind man (sorry forgot his name) walked us to the correct coach as they have booked us the front 2 seats again. He also climbed aboard and said “I’m coming on this tour too and i can keep an eye on you both so you don’t get lost or have any disasters”. “Fantastic” i said to Sarah as it makes us less stressed knowing there is one of the excursion team (and not just the local guide) on the trip with us.

On the coach…

“Wow…There are loads of goats in a field. Steve if you could see you’d really like this, lol!” 🤣  

lots of goats in a field of yellow grass

Yay we’ve arrived…

As the monastery was set in the hills there was not much to see as we stepped off the coach. The guide then led us to the top of the steps that circled round and down to the monastery.

“Steve we have lots of long steps going down, i’ll let you know when the next one is approaching” Thank you my love” i said stepping down the first step. Sarah continued “Step down now…then 1, 2 , 3 flat steps and then step down” I obviously have to slow down because if i slip or fall just once i could twist or snap my ankle (especially with my weight, lol). “1,2, step down, 1, 2, 3 step down” isn’t my wife amazing?! 

There must have been about 2,000 steps as it took ages, but we wer’nt last and the Thomson man walked with us all of the way, i told you he was a kind man! 😀

At the bottom of the steps… 

Reaching the bottom of the steps without tripping or slipping once (thanks to my amazing guide Sarah) there was a small cafe, shop, monastery and a museum. “Wow you’d neve guess all of this was here when looking from the top” i said whilst looking at this beautiful place.

IMG 5858

The guide said we have about 10 minutes before we can go inside the church. It was lovely in the courtyard and looking over the valley down below.

Rolling hills and olive rees

olive trees and rolling hills taken under a over hanging tree

As i was taking the 2 photos above i knew i couldn’t get the whole landscape in 1 photo…But i know someone who can!!! 

You’ve guessed it…A stupendously sublime Sarah panorama.

Breathtaking panorama of the rolling hills and olive trees

Then as we were looking out (arm around each other) soaking up the hot sun, the Thompson man walked up behind us and asked if we’d like a photo together? “Wow yes please”. Another photo of me and Sarah i’ll cherish…

Me and Sarah with arms around each other and the rolling hills of olive trees etc behind us

The church…

The guide said we had to wait for the monks to disappear as they don’t want to be around us, so they have to leave and not be seen. “That’s evangelism” i said as the guide was passing Sarah an ankle length skirt. “You have to put this on if you want to go inside”.

Entrance to the church

As we walked inside the church it was a lot cooler (i was thankful for that) and it also had a peaceful atmosphere. The knowledgable guide told us all about the architecture of the church and the golden mosaics of the saints and apostles. I didn’t start a discussion on the Iconoclastic Controversies…I just enjoyed listening to the guide whilst Sarah captured a couple of photos. 😀 

inside the church looking at the arches

Inside and much darker image of the iside arches and roof

 Back in the courtyard…

There was a little shop where you can buy local honey, olive oil and some other lovely souvenirs. Sarah bought some honey (we thought it would be good for hypo’s) and olive oil for us to try on salads (Oopps, i accidentally said salads…I meant steak, lol) when we get home.

The queue was pretty long in the shop so unfortunately we didn’t have time to have a proper Greek coffee in the cafe. We met back up with the group and headed towards the mighty steps.

I am much better walking up steps as the step casts a shadow and i can just make out the contrast and figure out where the steps are…And it’s much easier to fall upwards than fall down and keep rolling head over heals until you’re left in a crumpled, crushed and broken mess at the bottom…Left to exsanguinate as your life slowly slipps away, one blood drop at a time! 🤕

Returning to the dock..

The coach dropped us back right near the dock and as the excursion was only a short one…We had time to explore a little of the town, yay! 

Oh did i mention it was burning hot?! ☀️  

iPhone weather app showing Itea, Greece at 36°C

I know for most of you (and especially Sarah) that 36° isn’t that hot…But for me who wears cargo shorts all year round (even through the winter) it is burning. ☀️  

We started walking and noticed their wasn’t many people around, as not many places were open. So we turned back and headed up the other street. We found a huge cafe/restaurant and headed inside. The place was empty but we could hear a coffee machine and some pots in the back rattling. “I’m not sure where we can order from? And i’m not sure if this place is open?” Sarah said whilst trying to find anyone at all. We walked back outside and Sarah said “There is a woman serving coffee to those people right over there (on the dock overlooking the sea about 100 metres away) but it’s much too far to be part of this cafe”.

We walked around a little further and made sure there were no other shops in the area, then we headed back to the dock to get a table and wait for the barista. ☕ She did walk all the way back to the cafe we’d just been in to get the coffees…Wow i’d collapse of heat exhaustion. 🤕 

The view of the sea and dock from the coffee shop seating area...I am right in the bottom right hand corner of the shot

Wow…This was the view we had from our table! We had plenty of time to just chill (burn) and relax and just soak in the view. Sarah and i love being beside the sea either like this or on a beach, as we live in a super green area near trees, village greens and conservation areas…So we love having holidays with sea and sand! 😀 ☀️ 

Yesterday we had our first ‘Fredo Cappuccino’ in the cafe in Corinth, so when the barista placed 2 of them down in front of us we both grinned. 😀 “Wow” we both said “this is the best one so far” i said whilst trying not to drink it all in one go! We had about 2 hours before we needed to get back onto the ship, so we ordered 2 more fredo  cappuccinos. After a while i asked to order 1 more for me and the barista said “No you’ve had 2 already and you’re not having a 3rd” i thought she was joking until i tried asking again! 😢

After the amazing coffees we decided to have a quick walk up and down the empty dock before heading back on board. 

Sarah taking a panorama of the dock area

panorama of the whole dock with the sea in the middle and i am over on the right taking a photo with my phone of Sarah

 Back on the ship..

We had time to refresh and change out of our sweaty clothes and make our way out on deck for a couple more shots before we leave the port.  

Sarah's panorama taken from the ship with the island in the background and the ship in the right hand side

Wow…After another stunning Sarah panorama, i thought i’d show you my new t-shirt…It’s archangel Michael fighting the war in heaven from Revelation 12:7-9 (for the record…I don’t worship God through the use of icons, statues, mosaics or my t-shirt. There is one mediator between man and God…The Lord Jesus Christ).

Me atood on the deck with my new shirt on with arch angel Michael fighting Satan

We had a lovely evening meal again and when we returned to our cabin…Yay a fantastic towel elephant! 🐘 😀  

Fantastic elephant folded towel

Wow what another interesting, beautiful and  scorching day, i hope you enjoyed it as much as us?! See you tomorrow for the day Sarah has been waiting patiently for! 😀 ☀️  

To be continued… 

Our Route…..

On Sunday evening we travel to Katakolon, Greece. We’ll arrive on Monday morning having travelled 109 nautical miles at an average of 9 knots.

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☀️ #37 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Corinth, Greece”🇬🇷(2017)

Corinth logo

Me stood on the right with my arms out stretched and waving as the Thomson Spirit shit covers the whole background

Good morning friends! (Καλημέρα φίλοι)😀  

I love the fact that we’ve just sailed to Corinth on the ‘Spirit’ and we’re now going on a trip along the Corinth canal, then to walk around ancient Corinth in the historic footsteps of the Apostle Paul. To say i was excited is an understatement! 😀 

But first…☀️  

I’m not good in the sun but Sarah comes alive in the scorching hot weather. So i sloshed on my sun cream as it was already 36 degrees outside (ouch) I’ve also bought myself a ‘Tactical Sun Hat’ to try and keep myself cooler in the sun and provide a little shade with the wide rim…It worked really well but i was still dripping like a candle in a Salvador Dali painting! 🤣  

Corinth canal…

Get ready to be impressed. The Corinth Canal marries up the Gulf of Corinth in the northwest with the Saronic Gulf in the southeast. It’s 3.9 miles long and its width varies from 69 feet at the bottom to 82 feet at the water’s surface. Before it was built, ships sailing between the Aegean and the Adriatic Sea had to circumnavigate the Peloponnese, adding another 185 miles to their journey. On this fascinating tour you’ll drive to Isthmia, around 1 hr’s drive, where a boat will be waiting to whisk you off. Sit back, relax and enjoy the views as you sail through this famous canal. Along the way, your guide will tell you interesting facts about the way it was built.

 We stepped of the air conditioned coach and just as i said “Argghh now that’s hot” Sarah said “Wow that’s better, it was freezing on that coach” we followed the group to the boat.

After Sarah excellently guided me onto the boat, we took our seats. The whole trip was just stunning and we were blown away by the walls of the canal and the sheer size of it. The guide was telling us all about the history etc over the loud speakers (my fave part as i can’t see the scenery until i get home and really zoom in for a blurry look). I do listen and hear Sarah’s detailed descriptions of the landscapes and any other points of interest. I also take in the other people around me and their reactions too. 

Another photo taken from the front of the boat looking up the canal with tall walls either side and a bridge on top crossing over.

photo taken from the rear of the boat with the beautiful blue water with hight walls either side

Photo of rear of boat showing people sat looking down Corinth canal.

 The Peloponnese…

Now for a blistering Sarah panorama!  

A Sarah Panorama of the end of the canal where it expands into the vastness of the sea, with land touching each side

Another Sarah panorama with the sea and land stretching from end to end with rolling hills and mountains in the background

After doing a 180˚ turn we headed back down the canal, fantastic! 😀   

Me stood right at the rear of the boat with the beautiful Corinth canal in the background

 Ancient Corinth…

You’ll now take a short drive to ancient Corinth, where you’ll have the opportunity to explore the ruins of the “Agora” marketplace as well as the Temples of Apollo and Aphrodite.

We shot off the coach and followed the guide closely from the front, the path was all uphill and did i mention it was scorching hot?! ☀️ I kept saying to Sarah “Wow the Apostle Paul actually came here!” and after about the 10th time…We’d reached the top.

Me stood in front of the ancient Temple of Apollo wearing my tactical sun hat

Sarah and the Temple of Apollo

Temple of Apollo

After a brief history lesson all about the temples and the culture as it was back in the day, we headed along another hot dusty path and ended up at the Synagogue. “Wow” i said “Paul would’ve visited this actual Synagogue several times…It’s simply amazing that i’m standing in biblical history”. 

Upon leaving the synagogue the guide stopped and pointed to an ancient hebrew marking on the wall. Sarah quickly took a photo of it to share. I continued “Wow, Paul may have walked under this very arch, wow!” 😲

A remain of the Jewish Synagogue where the Apostle Paul teached and preached

The Agora…

Moving further down and heading towards the agora, the sound of the cicadas were deafening, they were almost drowning out the voice of the guide…It sounded like i was walking around with a massive bee hive stuck on my head but less sticky and much less painful! 🤣  

“Wow…the beema  seat” i said whilst trying to get excited but actually about to collapse due to heat exhaustion. “The agora! This is where the Apostle Paul would’ve been making tents..No way!” i kept going “Did you know Paul stayed in Corinth for about 18 months and he would’ve have frequently visited and worked around here!” Sarah replied “Yes i know Steve it’s incredible, but we’re getting left behind as you keep stopping and making wow noises, lol!” 🤣  

“Sarah could you take some photos of me in the Agora and in front of the beema seat? I’d love to have a photo as a keep sake…Oh and have i mentioned that the Apostle Paul would’ve been around here?!”. Sarah puts up with a lot! 🤣   

Me and the Agora

Me stood (centre) in front of the ruins of the Bema in ancient Corinth

Me stood (centre) in front of the ruins of the Bema in ancient Corinth

The cicadas were still singing their thunderous lament as we walked deeper into the Agora. The guide stopped to show us the ruins and described how it would have looked and what would be happening back in classical times.  

lots of stones which are the ruins of the Agora in Corinth

A portrait view of the the ruins of the Agora and Bema at ancient Corinth

 And then…

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better…Sarah managed to fit the whole place in one monumental panorama!  

A Fantastic Panorama taken by Sarah of the Agora

At this point i was so exhausted, head and shoulders stooped forward and my mouth was dry and frothing. I managed a slow shuffle back to the air conditioned coach. Sarah said “Oh it’s freezing on here! 

It still blows me away when i think of this excursion to ancient Corinth and how we were actually there. 😲

Back at the ship…

After freshening up back in the cabin, we still had a few hours before the ship left port. We’ve found that if the excursion leaves us with a few hours to spare we can use the ship as the starting reference and go and explore the town nearest to the dock (any further and we’ll get lost). This makes for a full day as we can go on the excursion around the island and then visit local shops and markets around the dock area…Yay! 😀 

Wow…Did i mention it was hot! ☀️ 😰

iPhone weather app showing Corinth at 36° and sunny

“Yay…Steve a beach!” Sarah shouts as we step out of the dock, she continues “No way, holidays don’t start until i’ve put my feet on the sand…Come on!” I was just about to protest (as i’d left my beach shoes in the cabin) when Sarah dragged (i mean guided) me onto the powdery sand. 

The boiling hot sun, the powdery white sand and the gentle touch of the sea rolling over Sarah’s feet educed a wonderful smile. 😀  

My new Microfibre towel…

We were now wet, frazzled and covered in sand and we walked for a while before we found a bench under a large tree. “Yes…Here you go” is said as i unclipped my new microfibre hand towel from my carabiner loop on my BDU shorts. I bought this little towel just before this cruise as i wanted to be more prepared as we learn a little more what we need from each holiday…And this time it worked beautifully! 😀  

After a while we were both sand free, dry and ready for a cold drink. We walked down a few streets then Sarah said “Steve, i think this looks like a cafe? I wonder if they do iced coffees?” “I hope so” i said feeling like a pulsing nuclear reactor. 

They did the best iced coffee (Freddo Cappuccino) and even a sugar free one for Sarah… 

Sarah enjoying an iced Cappaccino outside the Cafe in Corinth

As we were sitting outside drinking our amazing coffees…The man we’d met at the Captains table last night walked past and said hello. “Wow” i said to Sarah after a brief chat with the man, “We’re even making friends and it’s only the first day off the ship”. 

Sadly it’s now time to return back to the ship…

Me stood in the middle of the road with buildings either side in Corinth

As we were walking towards the ship and the dock was empty…We stopped for a few photos… 

Sarah stood in front of the Thomson Spirit shipwith both arms in the air

Sarah stood in front of the Thomson Spirit ship

Me stood on the right with my shadow filling the rest of the photo

Then…

As we were taking lots of photos, another nice person from our ship walked up behind us and asked if we’d like a photo together?! “Oh yes please that would be so kind of you” i said as i passed her my phone. 😀  

Sarah & i in front of the Thomson Spirit in the background

Back on ship…

We’d had a fantastic day and had lots to talk about with  the people sat around our table at the evening meal. It’s lovely to hear other peoples stories from what they had done throughout the day, and to hear the adventures from the other excursions.

Finally…Just when you think the day is over, we have another fantastic folded creature.

A towel folded into a puppy dog with chocolates as his eyes

 Hope you’ve enjoyed travelling with us today? We’ll meet you tomorrow ready for our next excursion!

To be continued… 

Our Route…..

On Saturday evening Thomson Spirit sails to Itea, Greece. To arrive on Sunday morning having travelled 59 nautical miles at an average speed of 6 knots.

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☀️ #36 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Dubrovnik, Croatia”🇭🇷(2017)

10th Anniversary

Sarah i wedding photo

Wow, i still can’t believe it’s been 10 years since our amazing wedding day! ❤️❤️❤️ 

An unexpected blessing…..

This cruise holiday has been such an unexpected blessing, as Sarah had another “Charcot Foot (diabetic problem)” and was in an air-cast for the last 5 months. We had to cancel our Barbados cruise and stay we’d booked for our birthday celebrations in April…But Sarah had it removed a few weeks ago and she’s been strengthening her leg for this cruise. So we are amazed to be spending our 10th wedding anniversary (July) visiting some fantastic places! 😎  

Sea logo

Breakfast…..

We slept really well and caught up on the sleepless night we had yesterday. We thought we’d go to the Compass Rose (waiter service restaurant) for our 10th anniversary breakfast. It didn’t disappoint and we had porridge, omelette, fruit, nuts, seeds, bacon and bananas (not all together,lol). 🥓 

Swimming…..

After exploring (getting lost) in the many different stairways, corridors and decks  around the ship, we were trying to familiarise ourselves with our fave places so we could find our way back much more easily. we nipped back to our cabin to get our things ready for a couple of hours sunbathing and swimming. Sarah loves swimming (as you can tell in the photos below) and had an excellent time enjoying her anniversary in the pool! 😎  

Sarah laughing and really enjoying swimming in the pool on the ship

Sarah doing handstands in the swimming pool on the ship....Herr feet and legs are outside the water sticking up and her body is underwater!

⬆ Sarah doing handstands in the pool ⬆ 

The Towel Swan Heart…..

After having lots of fun, we headed back to our cabin where we were surprised to find two towel swans placed in the shape of a heart, with flowers and our cards etc in a beautiful display. We rushed out to find the cabin stewards and thanked them profusely… whilst Sarah took lots of photos! 

two towel swans together in a love heart shape surrounded by our anniversary cards, on the bed of our cabin on the ship

 ⬆ Towel folded Swan heart ⬆ 

The invitation…

Earlier this morning Sarah had found an invitation pushed under the cabin door. “This looks a bit fancy, it’s only an invitation to the formal evening. We have to sign it to say that we’re going, then hand it back to reception…..Seems like a lot of paper work to me.” “Oh right, i suppose they need to know how many people will be in the restaurant for dinner this evening, it must be the policy for formal night on this ship. It was different on the Dream ship” i replied. 😕

I hadn’t brought my tuxedo this time as it filled half my suitcase the time before and i didn’t want to waste that amount of space again. I did bring my trousers though as we like the waiter service meal in the evenings. “ i hope they don’t chuck me over-board for not dressing smart enough.” Sarah told me… “You’ll be fine, lol, it’s only for one evening and your new black shirt looks smart enough anyway”. 

Formal Evening…..

As Sarah & i were queuing up to enter the show lounge, the photographers were taking our photos. 

Me on the left wearing a black shirt and Sarah on the right wearing a beautiful while dress with a black ribbon tie

 ⬆ Me & my lovely Wife Sarah ⬆ 

My lovely wife Sarah wearing her stunning white dress

 ⬆ My lovely Wife Sarah ⬆ 

After listening to the Captain introduce himself and some of his crew, we headed to the Compass Rose restaurant where we planned to have a lovely four course meal. 

We said we didn’t mind sharing, and the waiter sat us right next to a window (yay) on a four seater table. We introduced ourselves to Brian & Anne (more about our new friends in later posts) and they kindly read out the menu for us. After ordering from each section of the menu, we got to chatting.

AND THEN…..

An enormous shadow, from an even bigger man darkened our whole table….. “Steve…..FOLLOW ME” said the man with a really deep transylvanian voice. I looked at Sarah, and then back at the man “FOLLOW ME” he said again. Sarah said “Can i come with him” “yES” he said as we started to stand. We said to Brian and Anne “I think we’ll see you later, we’ve only just ordered our food, and if we’re not back…..you’ll get double, lol”.

As sarah guided me behind this Behemoth of a man (not joking, he was about 7ft tall and 5ft wide) up a few flights of stairs, Sarah said “Where is he taking us?” “I think we’re going to the plank, or at least being court marshalled” was my apprehensive reply.

We finally entered a small bar area where Claudia (the social director) greeted us with a glass of Champagne and a smelly fish bite (i don’t like fish, if you’d not guessed, lol) and showed us to our seats. Claudia said “I thought you weren’t going to make it?” “To make what?” Sarah replied still looking bemused. “You got the invitation?”.Sarah said “Yes…..the one to the formal evening”. Claudia then said “No, that was an invitation to the Captains table and an evening with the Captain.” “Oooopps” i misread it as a general evening invitation (easily done as the iPhone magnifier isn’t as good as the large CCTV we have at home)”. Sarah whispered to me “The Captain and his other guests were waiting for us up here, as we were seeming to ignore them and eating our meal already with someone else.

The Captains Table…..

Since Sarah & i already knew the menu (thanks Brian & Anne) this was our easiest food ordering to date. We had a lovely meal and a fantastic time chatting with everyone around the table. It was really interesting hearing everyones stories and experiences…..Sarah already has her next cruise planned in her mind after asking the Captain what place he liked best after 30 yrs of cruising the seas, lol. 

Now it was time to leave again for the Show Lounge to watch possibly the worst show we have ever seen (heard for me, lol.). 😎  

Me stood behind Sarah on the right of the photo stood in front of the staff captains table with 4 other people(including the captain who is sat next to Sarah)

⬆ Photo of Sarah & i(on right) at the Captains Table ⬆ 

Wow, What a memorable 10th Wedding Anniversary….   

Retiring back to our cabin (making sure we didn’t upset the swans), we talked about our memorable day and how we’d never forget our 10th Wedding Anniversary! Now it was time to sleep, as it’s an early start once we arrive in Corinth. It was also the start of 5 full days of excursions we’d booked and we were really excited, even though we knew the temperatures were going to reach up to 41℃ because of a heat wave across south east Europe (ouch). ☀️  

Thank You…..

Sarah & i would like to thank you once again for celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary and for all of the lovely messages you sent us.

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☀️ #35 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Dubrovnik, Croatia”🇭🇷(2017)

Croatia logo

Wow, Wow, Wow…..Sarah & i have had a fantastic time away celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary. Let’s go and see where we’ve been and what we’ve been up to! 😀  

Taxi, Train & The Thomson Plane…..

As the taxi was booked for 3:30am, we thought it would be a good idea not to go to sleep as it makes us more tired if we only sleep for an hour or 2 (we were wrong, we’re super tired now).

There was a little scare as Sarah felt funny, so she did a blood test in the taxi and found it was going low. “Oh no, not already” i thought as Sarah was already sorting it out with a few dextrose. Sarah felt better as we arrived at the airport and with a small struggle to find the suitcase check-in desk, we were finally sorted and heading for the airport assistance.

The assistance took us through security which all went well, until Sarah showed them her insulin pump…..Then (as they think it’s a detonator) they told Sarah to take of her shoes etc. and carefully and slowly scanned her whole body for explosives. 

Following the guide to our seats in the departure lounge, Sarah & i were looking forwards to a nice bacon roll and coffee. Her work colleague had told her to try this as we’d not had anything to eat since yesterday afternoon… we were ready for it! BUT the airport assistance were too efficient this time and before we had time to figure out the direction of the bacon, the guide took us on the “Fun Train” and straight onto the plane! 😎 

The Airplane…..

As i sat down after being expertly guided to my seat, i said “Wait a minute”….. I was feeling underneath the window at the up & down dimmer switches whilst stretching my legs out testing the large leg room. “This isn’t an Airbus A320! It’s the 787 Dreamliner. Wow i didn’t think it was going to be this monster for a two and a half hour flight” Sarah said “Wow, you’re still getting excited about flying…. you must really love it” I said “Oh Yeah!”.  

Time for a snack…..

Since we couldn’t have our fantastic bacon roll at the airport, we decided to share some chunky potato wedges on the plane. Sarah simply couldn’t eat them (and i even struggled)…. they tasted (and were as dry as) a sun dried bath sponge! 😦

Welcome to Dubrovnik airport…..

Dubrovnik Logo

The airport assistance at Dubrovnik were fantastic and before we knew it, we were on a coach arriving at the dock ready to board the Thomson Spirit. We’d only been on the Thomson Dream which is bigger, so we were excited to explore this different ship.

We were fast-tracked again through all of the check-in procedures and were soon dropping our bags off in our cabin ready to go and explore! 😎  

A beautiful landscape of the port of Dubrovnik stood on top of the ship

⬆ View of Dubrovnik bay from the Thomson Spirit ⬆

We managed to weave our way through the many stairways and decks and eventually made it up to the top which was lovely and quiet to take a look around, take some photos and soak in the view and the hot sun. ☀️  

We were surrounded by a sea of blue, sky of blue, deck of blue and Sarah’s new “Hokusai” dress …of blue. 😎   

Sarah stood wearing her new Hokusai wave dress on the top deck of the Thomson Sirit  @ Dubrovnik 4.jpeg

⬆ Sarah wearing her new “Hokusai” dress! ⬆   

Sarah  Dubrovnik 3

⬆ My lovely Wife Sarah ⬆ 

Me stood on the top deck of the Thomson Spirit  @ Dubrovnik 4.jpeg

⬆ Yay, we’ve made it, now let’s chill and enjoy the view ⬆   

A view of the beautiful sea and houses along the bay with a small speed boat coming across the photo from right to left in Dubrovnik

⬆ Our beautiful view of Dubrovnik from the top deck ⬆ 

Swapping sides for a moment, Sarah took a photo of a unusual bridge she liked. 

Me lent against the railing looking out across the landscape and bridge of Dubrovnik

⬆ Me looking at the surrrounding town ⬆  

One more pic of my lovely Wife Sarah! 

Sarah  Dubrovnik 2

⬆ My lovely Wife Sarah and her beautiful dress ⬆

Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for…..

If you’ve travelled with us on our other tours you’ll remember Sarah’s sublime Panoramas……Well she’s back with one (of many) to share with you. 😎   

One of Sarah's amazing Panoramas of the bay of Dubrovnik

⬆ Sarah’s breathtaking Panorama of Dubrovnik bay ⬆

Coffee, Life Jackets & Dinner…..

After enjoying ourselves on the top deck, we looked around for a place to have a nice coffee. We knew this ship had no “Coffee Port” like on the Thomson Dream, so when we found “Raffles Bar” and ordered a Cappuccino (for me) and an Americano, we were even more excited as the coffee was well-nice and strong…”I think we can get used to this!” I said sitting back into my large comfy armchair. ☕  

The assistance was fantastic again and the life jacket drill went really smoothly, i think we’re finally getting the hang of this. lol 

We found the “Compass Rose” waiter service restaurant which was very similar to the “Orion” restaurant on the Thomson Dream, we said we didn’t mind sharing a table with others as we always need an unsuspecting guest to read the menu for us, which is always a laugh for all involved and it’s a great conversation starter! 😀  

After a fantastic four course meal, it was time to take one last tour around the ship to see if we’d remembered where anything was before retiring to our cabin after a very long day!

Thank you…..

I would just like to say a huge thank you(to you the reader and fellow traveller) for staying with us on another long and tiring day! 😰

Oh did i mention it’s our 10th Wedding Anniversary” tomorrow!!

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☀️ #32 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Costa Maya, Mexico”🇲🇽(2016)

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SARAH SAT IN FRONT OF A LARGE COSTA MAYA SIGN WITH THE LOVELY BLUE SEA IN THE BACKGROUND

 Sarah welcomes you to Costa Maya…

Our Kayak excursion didn’t start for a couple of hours, so we had time for a look around yet another nice dock. As you’ll remember from a couple of days ago Sarah said:

“Why don’t you get them to braid your hair as the wind’s been annoying you all day, and you won’t have to touch it for the rest of the holiday?!

 Sarah’s hair has been blowing around all over the place since we arrived in Jamaica…And now it was her turn for the braides, no more worrying about windy hair syndrome.  

A PHOTO OF SARAH'S BEAUTIFUL COLOURFUL BRAIDS

Right, now is the time for the kayaking excursion. Wow what a bumpy coach ride…”Oohhh a lighthouse, quick Steve pass me your phone”. We were being thrown around all over the place but Sarah just managed (no idea how) to get a glimpse of the lighthouse!

12 LIGHTHOUSE AT COSTA MAYA

The Kayaking beach…

This is what greeted us as we got off the coach…😀  

SARAH SAT AT THE BASE OF A BEAUTIFUL PALM TREE WITH THE AMAZING BLUE SEA AND YELLOW SAND LANDSCAPE BEHIND HER

 After putting all of our things in our backpacks and securing them in the lockers back in the bar type place just out of shot (above) we made our way back onto the beach to get our life jackets and meet our kayak.

We all gathered around the instructor as he demonstrated how to enter properly, how to paddle and of course the safety drills. I said to Sarah “I think this is a step too far, i can’t see him or anything he’s pointing at or showing us, but i am listening to what he’s saying” she said “Once we get you in the kayak you’ll be fine as i know you have done canoeing as a kid and it’ll all come back to you as it’s similar”. 

Now it was our turn to enter the two seater glass bottomed kayak (well i almost fell in as it was a lot lower than i thought) and as i fell i head butted Sarah on the way down. Sarah said she was fine but after i regained consciousness she passed me the paddle. “Oh yes, it’s just like the ones i used as a kid when canoeing with my dad. It’s going to be ok…Oh wait, i can’t see where i’m going, lol!) 😀 

Sarah took her position in the back seat as the navigator. We thought she could hit my left shoulder to go left and right shoulder for right, that makes sense, i just hope i don’t get her paddle around my head, lol! 🤣  

As the instructor pushed us away we heard lots and lots of wow, cheering and nervous laughter. It was an amazing feeling to be floating out on the still waters and with a glass bottomed kayak Sarah could see the ocean floor. After while everyone got into the swing of things and we managed to form an orderly queue behind the instructor.

We followed him out to sea until we stopped over the barrier reef. Everyone was Ooohh and woowwwoooing so it must have been beautiful. It felt amazing being in crystal clear waters with no land in sight, we just sat there stunned.

We paddled a little further and we seemed to overtake most of our group as they had sunk and were trying to get back into the kayak (wow they are sighted too so we must be doing something right, lol. Steve don’t get too cocky too soon).

The instructor stopped a lttle further on and we all bunched together. He was trying to pass something round for people to hold but the people were not impressed. Then he came to me…Before Sarah had time to say “He’s blind and can’t see it and he doesn’t like creepy crawlies” he had put it on the top of my hand…😨 

It felt soft and obviously wet and if i could see i probably wouldn’t have let him put this black death starfish onto my hand. It looked like a massive tarantula to me as i could just make out the black against my skin. I was just waiting for the huge teeth to sink into my flesh and tear it from my bones…When he took it back and placed it into the sea. Phew!

Wow i wish i had a GoPro video camera, it’s simply stunning…

“Hey Sarah watch this!” i said as we were gathering speed. “Wow a handbrake turn”. I remember as a kid and learning canoeing, that if you jam the end of the paddle straight down and grip firmly…Then the canoe spins round about 180 degrees (similar to a handbrake turn in a car) and i thought i’d see if it happened the same way in a kayak…It did and as i was really impressed with myself for pulling it off Sarah was quietly impressed (i think, lol). 

More Barrier Reef…

We stayed out over the barrier reef for another hour or so just paddling slowly, then stopping and taking in the vast ocean and the feeling of fresh air with the gentle rocking of the kayak, it was so peaceful…A little too peaceful! 

“Where is everyone?” i said as i could see no other kayaks or the shoreline. “I don’t know i think they have headed back to get the sun loungers for the next hour of the excursion” We were quite far out and couldn’t figure out which way to head back to shore. I started thinking of the Jaws film and the zoomed in shots of the faces crumpled in fear as the shark fin circles in closer and closer. 

“I think it’s that way” Sarah said as she hit my right shoulder. “Ok, let’s go”. We started heading slightly towards the shore when…

A really loud whistle and a shout came from our 2 o’ clock. It was the instructor from what seemed like miles away but we could hearr him as though he was sanding right next to us. That was the sound i needed and swiftly pointed the kayak in his direction and floored it! 😀

Back on shore… 

A STUNNING PALM TREE WITH DEEP BLUE SKY ALL AROUND

 I love palm trees, especially this shape (above) and this one is just fantastic! 

A VIEW OF THE STUNNING BEACH AND SEA LOOKING THROUGH A PAIR OF PALM TREES ON EITHER SIDE OF THE PHOTOO

 Yay we made it!! Our first kayaking adventure and it was simply breathtaking. The Blind Sightseers have managed another challenge…Now lets go and relax for a while.

After a nice slice of pizza (with salad as i’m being good) we took our towels and inclusive bottle of local lager and found two sun loungers between two palm trees. The white sand and the crystal clear sea framed our afternoon perfectly! ☀️ 🌴 

5 SARAH IN SEA

 I’m not sure if this was a private resort but the beach was empty…Yay! 😀

Sarah then says “Oh, we forgot to take any photos of the kayaks…Steve stand here and i’ll take some photos” “But i think there is another group starting their kayaking?!” “just stand still and smile, lol” 🤣  

Me stood on the beach next to lots of kayaks with another group being shwed hwo to use them

“Now go and stand in the sea so our WordPress family actually know that you’re on this trip, and don’t forget to smile” 🤣  

Me stood in the sea at knee dep

 My lovely wife Sarah absolutely love swimming, splashing sitting in the sea, love the hot sun and the powdery white sand and she has got all 3 today. I love taking her photos when she’s so happy and has that lovely beaming smile that lights (and warms) her whole being. 😀  

6 SARAH IN SEA

8 SARAH ON BEACH

9 SARAH ON BEACH

10 SARAH ON BEACH

 It was now time to leave this beautiful place, jump on the coach and return back to the ship. We were tired but couldn’t stop ourselves having a beeming grin all the way back as we had just conquered kayaking and had a lovely time in paradise! 😀 

But Sarah didn’t stop there… She just had enough time to capture this stunning view. 

11 CRUISE SHIP IN SEA SCAPE

 Back on the dock…

As we had a little time on the dock, we thought we’d take some more photos of this lovely place.  

13 COSTA MAYA BAY

14 SARAH SAHAPES

 Yay…We came, we saw and we conquered! 😀  

Back in the coffee port…

15 COFFEE

 After such an exciting day filled with an omnifarious amount of emotions, there is no better way to chill than the coffee port. Wow what a view! ☕ 

Thanks for joining us on this wonderful excursion, we couldn’t have done it without you! ☀️ 

Wait until you hear about tomorrows adventure…It’s a long post but you’ll understand why very soon! 😨

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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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🐾 Pawing Away The COVID-19 Lockdown Blues With “Bruce THE Boxer” Day 25 – “Rest Again”

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Welcome back to your daily lockdown drill brought to you by Bruce…your fave Boxercise instructor! 

 

Wow yet another week in lockdown has passed already…Time flies when your boxercised!

 

It’s time to rest yet again, and we can spend this time pampering, sleeping, eating, playing and most of all posing for a good portrait…Very important and it keeps the treats rolling in from the humans who now have some nice photos of their stupendous furry angel! 😀 

Also let’s think once again about rest and sleep. It’s vitally important to take a day of rest to give your body a chance to heal, it helps to de-stress, and also helps our minds focus…On FOOD, lol! 🍔 

 

Fun Quote…“A well trained dog will make no attempt to share your lunch. He will just make you feel so guilty that you cannot enjoy it.”

 

🎶 Remember our happy singalong…”Every snack you make, every meal you bake, every bite you take, chocolate or cake, I’ll be watching you.” 

 

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 🐾 Begin Boxercise class from Day 1  🐾

☀️ #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.

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

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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.

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

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🐾 Pawing Away The COVID-19 Lockdown Blues With “Bruce THE Boxer” Day 24 – “Long Jumps”

Bruce leeping away from the camera towards tohe sea with his front legs out stretched

Welcome back to your daily lockdown drill brought to you by Bruce…your fave Boxercise instructor! 

Attention!! Today’s Drill…“Long Jumps”

Let’s paws for a moment (before you start your long jumps) to have an informed discussion about safety. When we  prepare to explode into take off, we shift weight back into the large muscles of our back legs and onto the back-leg joints.

This activates our muscles and propels us up and forward like a coiled cobra, the action requires a full range of motion in the back leg joints including the stifle and the hip and tarsal (hock), and of course, activation in all the supporting muscles. When we come to land, our front legs are mobilised, flexing and extending to brake and steady us.

These actions are perfectly natural and it takes more out of our joints than walking or running around on level ground. So the lesson is…Be careful with all of the increased load on your bodies! 🐾

💬 “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Dwight D Eisenhower

🎶 singalong with me…”Every snack you make, every meal you bake, every bite you take, chocolate or cake, I’ll be watching you.”

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🐾 Begin Boxercise class from Day 1  🐾

☀️ #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.

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

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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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🐾 Pawing Away The COVID-19 Lockdown Blues With “Bruce THE Boxer” Day 23 – “Guess The Face”

Portrait of Bruce pulling the most crazy face

Welcome back to your daily lockdown drill brought to you by Bruce…your fave Boxercise instructor! 

Attention!! Today’s Drill…“Guess The Face”

This is a great teachable moment…Being the best of the best and the complete stupendous Dog that you are, takes time and effort. However one of the most important aspects(the glue that holds it all together) is…Laughter! One of our main tasks is to make the humans cry with laughter and this can be done by pulling a silly face! 😀 

If you are a human reading this…Please look again at the photo of me pulling a silly face and then comment below with what you think i’m thinking? Or what makes you laugh about my face? 

I’ll be chewing on a “Jumbone” and waiting for the “ bbrrrriinnggg” of the humans WordPress iPhone apps notification alert sound to read your comments! 😀 

💬 “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Dwight D Eisenhower

🎶 singalong with me…”Every snack you make, every meal you bake, every bite you take, chocolate or cake, I’ll be watching you.”

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🐾 Begin Boxercise class from Day 1  🐾

🐾 Pawing Away The COVID-19 Lockdown Blues With “Bruce THE Boxer” Day 22 – “Noses”

Bruce moving in from the left of the picture with a football in his mouth but his nose is nice and clear

Welcome back to your daily lockdown drill brought to you by Bruce…your fave Boxercise instructor! 

Attention!! Today’s Drill…“Noses”

I forgot to mention in post “Seek & Destroy” that whilst you are running with a large ball in your mouth…Always make sure your nose is clear so you can still breathe and not pass out! 

Here are a few factoids…

  1. Dogs’ olfactory abilities are anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 times more powerful than humans’. In fact, we have roughly 50 smell receptors compared to the humans measly one.
  2. Our nose can breathe air in and out at the same time.
  3. We have a special scent-detecting organ, called the vomeronasal organ that humans don’t have. This organ helps us detect pheromones secreted by other animals.
  4. Each of our nose prints are unique, like each human’s fingerprint.Flat-faced, short-nosed dogs, such as the Boxer, Pekingese, and Pug, have fewer scent-detecting cells than dogs with longer snouts, like Bloodhounds and German Shepherds. But what we lack in scent-detectors, we gain jaw power and can grip for hours without our big nose getting in the way, lol.

💬 “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Dwight D Eisenhower

 

🎶 singalong with me…”Every snack you make, every meal you bake, every bite you take, chocolate or cake, I’ll be watching you.”

 

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🐾 Begin Boxercise class from Day 1  🐾

☀️ #11 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Farewell Firenze!”🇮🇹

Tuscany logo Italy

Up bright and early, packed and ready to go (well we’d like to stay another week) we found the right bus to Pisa (phew) and got our favourite seats right at the front, Yes! 🙂

Bus ride to Pisa

Arriving at Pisa airport, Francesca (our assistance person) was great. She sorted everything out, then kindly took this photo of Sarah & i in front of the plane as we were first on-board again! 🙂

Sarah and i at Pisa airport

The takeoff was stupendous! I love the acceleration, and i was just as excited throughout the whole journey! The Captain said “We are at 28,000ft, doing 480mph and its -52degrees outside” Wow! 😀 

Sun from the airplane

I think God just smiled at me! 🙂

Sarah & i can’t thank you enough for joining us as we travel back through our memories. It’s been fantastic for us as we sit down(with a coffee) and read back through our incredible trips…And to know you are with us(and enjoying) on our journey warms our hearts! 😀

But…This tour of Tuscany was just the beginning!! The fun doesn’t stop here. So grab your coffee(or tea) as the next stop is the Caribbean!! 🌴☀️😎 

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☀️ #10 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Firenze Extra!”🇮🇹

Sarah & i started our final full day with the legendary amazing breakfast, then headed out to make the most of our last full day in this beautiful city.

Our plan today was to head East, then travel anti-clockwise until we reach our favourite place (South, by the river Arno) to try and take photos of things we may have missed so far, or from angles different from the norm. Right let’s Go!

East…

Church Tower

Wow, another bell tower, how did i miss this! 

a black and white photo of a church

Building wit hroof statues

Pinocchio Workshop

Santa Croce black

North…

Heading North of our hotel, we stopped once again to gaze upon the stunning architecture of the Florence Cathedral and the Palazzo Medici Ricardi…

Christmas Cathedral

Florence Cathedral Bell Tower

Palazzo Medici Riccardi 1

Palazzo Medici Riccardi arches

West…

As we were heading west, i found another statue, but thought i’d take it from a random angle! 🙂

Statue in North Florence

Florence side street building

Sarah found a shop with sunflowers (her favourite flowers)…

Sunflower shop

Firenze archway

South…

Gold anyone!! 🙂

Florentine Gold

Corridor Windows

Sarah by the river
 
After spending a while around the river, we headed to probably the most famous and popular square (Piazza della Signoria) to capture some more statues! 🙂
 
Me taking photo with iPhone
 
I wasn’t one of the statues, lol. But i was being very still! 
 
Sarah  the Medici Lion
 

Sarah  the Medici Lion 2

 

Firenze Statue 1

 
Firenze Statue 2
 
Jesus
 
Now for probably the most famous statue of all…Michelangelo’s David. Everyone was crowding round and getting the obvious and boring shot of David. So i decided to get a different angle! 🙂
  
Davidov
 
Both Sarah and i had our own favourite statues. I’ll start with Sarah’s.
 
Sarah’s favourite is “Perseus with the Head of Medusa”.
 
Medusa s Head
 
My favourite is of Cosimo Medici on his horse…
 
Medici horse rider  Sky fx
 
Do you have a favourite statue??
 
For the final evening we had booked one of only 7 tables at the amazing “Santa Elisabetta” restaurant in the old 6th century tower at our hotel.
 

Sarah at Santa Elisabetta

 
I didn’t take anymore photos as i was too excited, and i forgot! 🙂
The experience was sublime. Everything was fantastic and it’ll be a meal we’ll never forget!  
 
We then had a final walk out to see the Florence Cathedral at night, it really stood out against the dark night.
 

Florence Cathedral at night

 
Florence Cathedral by night 2
 
Hope you’ve enjoyed being on our little tour today around Florence?!
 
We have been so blessed this week, not only to be here in this stunning city that’s so rich in history. But being part of an exhibition in the Medici palace still leaves me speechless. 
 
Who’d of thought that after being registered blind 14 years ago, i’d be here in a photography exhibition?!! Thank you Lord for always surprising me, and giving me a gift i just can’t explain! 

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🐾 Pawing Away The COVID-19 Lockdown Blues With “Bruce THE Boxer” Day 21 – “Long Runs”

Bruce running towards us with the sea on the right, cliffs on the left and a big sandy beach which is empty in the centre

⇧ Bruce demonstrating a long run ⇧   

Welcome back to your daily lockdown drill brought to you by Bruce…your fave Boxercise instructor! 

Attention!! Today’s Drill…“Long Runs”

Since we’ve already got “Short Sprints” in our arsenal, it’s time to stretch out that drill into a “Long Run.”

This can be really difficult during lockdown and it’s vital to keep social distancing as you’ll be running for a long time…So be vigilant, and most of all safe! 

I hope you find a place where you can practise this drill because…

A long run burns calories, strengthens/hardens muscles, and tones the body, but more importantly  a long run really pushes you to discover your full athletic potential!

 🎶 “Don’t let nobody drag your spirit down” – Eric Bibb

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☀️ #9 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “The Photographic Exhibition Pt 2″🇮🇹

Oh did i mention…. i’m actually in Italy,Yay!! 

Map of Europe with a blue dot on Italy

Well i’m not actually in Italy as i write this, i’m at home on my iMac! But Sarah kept on catching me opening the maps app and taking a screenshot of our location!

Today we thought we’d head south towards the river, then curl round and end up North of the hotel at the Palazzo Medici Riccardi to see if last night really was a dream.

The Vasari Corridor….

Sarah owning the Vasari Corridor

Sarah & i really liked the “Vasari Corridor”, but now Sarah won’t let me through as i’m a commoner, lol. Eventually i managed to negotiate a deal, but it meant looking round more shops! 🙂

Sarah s Gold

Sarah looking fluent in Florin! (Italian gold coin)  

Sarah at Tiffany s

Sarah at Tiffany’s! 🙂

Sarah by the River Arno

After a while we decided to rest a little and get refreshed ready for more exciting touring. Mmmmmm coffee and cake! 🙂 

Cappuccino   Cake

Wow, now that was fantastic! Anyway better get back to it! 🙂 

It wasn’t long before Sarah found another friend, in the form of a statue. 

Sarah and the boar

As we walked past the amazing Florence Cathedral, Sarah noticed and got excited that there was now a Christmas tree & nativity scene.

Me waving at duomo

The Nativity

After being wowed, we took lots of photos to try and get one good enough to possibly make Christmas cards for loved ones.

Now on to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi…

stood in the centre of the road with the palazzo medici riccardi on the left and a bus with its streaming light reflecting in the wet road

We arrived at the palace (left in photo above) and found the exhibition, yay i didn’t dream it! 🙂

As the majority of the artwork displayed was created by blind & partially sighted people, it was really tactile so we got to touch the creations. I’m so used to going to museums etc and not being able to see or touch the art. Thanks artists! 🙂

Me viewing the art

Couple of people touching the art  Me touching the Tactile exhibits

As i mentioned yesterday (see Day 5) i was 1 of 3 artists (still not used to being called that) from the UK who exhibited, so i’d like to introduce to you…Ann and her paintings…

Ann and her paintings

And Christina’s photos…

Christina s Works

After a long walk around looking and touching the art, we went out of the back exit where i found an archway, and a huge ring that we kept finding on the outside of buildings, i think for the horses.

Palazzo Medici Riccardi Rear

Horse Ring

We’d had another fantastic day in Florence, and if you remembered on Day 4, i’d topped the evening off with an amazing cherry topped cake…Well this evening it got better still…..

Bistecca alla fiorentina…..

Bistecca alla fiorentina

Just when you thought the evening couldn’t get any better…Sarah & i shared the amazing Florentine steak! We had been told by Grace from our favourite restaurant in the world (Sicily Restaurant) that we couldn’t leave without trying one. Wow, she was right. It was truly magnificent and everything we’d hoped for, although i think Sarah got arm ache from sawing the never ending extra thick meat!! 🙂

We’ve had such a memorable and unbelievable time in Italy, and as this was Thursday, we still had a full day Friday, before we headed home on Saturday. 😀 

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☀️ #8 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “The Photographic Exhibition”🇮🇹

Well this is it, the actual reason we came, lol! I know i mentioned i only had my iPhone 5s & Sarah’s iPhone 6 Plus to take photos, the main reason (apart from weight, lenses & tiny viewfinders) was the GPS map pins, i love them! 🙂

A satalite map of florence with red map pins scattered around showing where i'd taken photos

It was now Wednesday and it was time for the sun to make way for the rain. The hotel room even had it’s own umbrella with “Brunelleschi” as the logo, i like this hotel! The exhibition didn’t start until 4pm, so we decided to explore (now we knew where we were going after our fantastic walking tour) for a couple of hours with our new umbrella! 🙂

Me with umbrella in narrow streets

It turned out that the streets were much quieter which is great for us, so we could relax a little more too after a couple of hectic days. OOoooo another coffee shop! 🙂

Me and Coffee

 The Exhibition…..

We left the hotel with posh clothes on and fancy umbrella in hand and headed to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi hoping there actually was an exhibition even though we had still seen no signs at all, not even a hint that there’d be one.

Palazzo Medici Riccardi 1

Then we turned into the main entrance…..

Sarah said “Wow, now this is a lot of people, the posters are up all around us and look great, and it’s in the beautiful, main part of the palace”. I started to feel a little out of my depth all of a sudden.

Art Senses Entrance with the posters in the background behind people gathering

Crowds gathering with me in the background Art Senses Entrance 2

Sarah then found Ann, who has also travelled from England, UK (thats ⅔ of the UK representatives, lol) so i had a chat with her as i’d never met her before, she’s an enormously talented artist and has a few paintings in the exhibition. 

Me  Ann at Art Senses

We hadn’t noticed, but the crowd had started making their way to the large area in the centre where the president of the blind union was talking (in Italian) through a PA system. By the time we had arrived we were at the back wondering what was going on, and none of us were able to see anything (even the sighted ones) as we were just too far away. 

Then…..

Costanza, who organised the whole thing (with her husband) cut through the crowd, took my had and led me right to the front next to the president and a few of the other artists.

Me  Costanza at Art Senses

Then after about 5 minutes, she put the microphone into my hand and said “Speak one word”. 

Me on the mic at Art Senses

The place went silent, i could feel there were lots of people around, i had no idea if any of them spoke english. So i  said “ciao a tutti (Hello everyone), i’m Steve Rebus from London”. It seemed to go across well, but i was so terrified i didn’t have a clue what to say next. Constanza gently took the mic and passed it along, aaaghhh i could now relax a little. 🙂

After a few more people spoke we were given a glass of Prosecco and Costanza took me to see what they’d done with my photos. I had only sent the prints and they had mounted, framed and hung them beautifully, i can’t thank them enough, they looked great and very professional!

Me  Costanza with my Photos at Art Senses

It wasn’t long before people started crowding round as they viewed each of our works.

Crowd around my Photos at Art Senses

Everyone kept telling me how fantastic the photos were and that i was a “Provider of  inspiration” (now that’s a title, lol. , all i could say is thanks. I was completely overwhelmed by the whole evening. I never knew it was going to be this big, professionally done and not held in a dark attic somewhere! I’m not good at playing the artist game and kept thinking that i better start taking some better photos, lol. 🙂

After a couple of hours walking round the exhibition, i was amazed at the level of talent. I enjoyed the paintings (a lot were tactile too), sculptures and other photography, simply brilliant!

I’ll post more photos tomorrow when we returned to see if we were just dreaming! 

Me and the poster at Art Senses

Sarah got me to stand next to one of the Art Senses posters while holding the amazingly professional catalogue/book of all the works and artists bio etc. Costanza really worked hard to put everything together, and i thank God that she found Sarah to ask for blind artists from the UK.

I heard Art Senses are holding a similar exhibition next year in Rome!! I better get taking some photos, if i want to be invited as an artist again. Wow to do all this in Rome, unbelievable! 😀 

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🐾 Pawing Away The COVID-19 Lockdown Blues With “Bruce THE Boxer” Day 20 – “Pawly”

Bruce Poorley

⇧ Bruce feeling sad after his ear operation ✞  

Welcome back to your daily lockdown drill brought to you by Bruce…your fave Boxercise instructor! 

Attention!! Today’s Drill…“Pawly”

I wanted to paws and take a little time to talk about accidents, or if you are pushing too hard on your drills…

If you have been to the vets(no idea why they are called this, they haven’t spent anytime in combat) and they have forced you into the “Helmet Of Shame”…DO NOT be cast down, but keep your chops held high!

There are other drills and exercises we can do e.g…

Dancing, Yay! Like yesterdays drill “Bust A Move” don’t be afraid to dance through the storms of life!! 😀 

Bruce dancing

⇧ Bruce dancing in the storm! 😀 ⇧

🎶 “Don’t let nobody drag your spirit down – Eric Bibb

 

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☀️ #7 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Firenze Walking Tour”🇮🇹

During another sublime breakfast, Sarah & i wondered if there was a walking tour around Firenze?! We now have a love of walking tours after our hugely successful one yesterday. It’s much easier for us to just follow a group instead of getting lost and wondering around aimlessly, and it’s a great way to learn the history and culture of the area.

They did do a tour and it started just after lunch. We booked on it and then decided to go for a walk to see if we could find the starting point by ourselves. It was in an area we hadn’t covered yet so we knew it was going to be a challenge…..We failed, but we found a lovely cafe! We sat outside with the sun blazing down, it was fantastic! 🙂

The image below shows me staring at the sun. Since being registered blind and having no central vision at all, i can now stare at the sun without squinting or blinking. Didn’t know it made me look this weird though, lol. 🙂

Me sat drinking coffee outside staring at the sun

We then spent a couple of hours enjoying finding new and wonderful shops, before heading back to the hotel. The reception had arranged for someone to walk us to the walking tour meeting point, fantastic! 🙂

Firenze Walking Tour…

The group met up in a different square than the one we found earlier, and gave us another one of those radio thingy’s, Yay! As the guide was talking about the square, i captured some shots!

Beautiful blue sky behind an impressive church wide impressive building with staues across the roof

One of the roof statues

Moving from the square and through some little side streets, we stopped at the “Basilica of Santa Croce” founded by Saint Francis. Sarah said “Wow, it looks like someone has iced it like a cake! It doesn’t look real”. 

Dark skies hover over the amazing Santa Croce black

Walking through the streets we were told of a local artist who’s adding figures to road signs. 

A figure looking like he's carrying the horizontal block of a no entry sign

 Continuing with more fantastic Medici family history we found ourselves in a familiar square (Piazza della Signoria).

Palazzo Vecchio

Bronze statue of Cosimo Medici

As we didn’t have lots of time to walk around and take photos, Sarah & i revisited on Day 7 to get some more interesting shots. Now it’s onwards to the river. 🙂

The River arches

When we accidentally found the river Arno during the Firenze marathon, Sarah had said that the river looks dirty, like brown sludge. But today with the sun shining bright, it glowed gold like nothing i’d seen before! 🙂

The River Arno Me  Sarah at the river Arno

Me  Sarah at Firenze river Bridge over river Arno

We continued our tour by walking through the “Piazza della Repubblica” ahh, the place with the sparkling building (see Day 1).

Firenze archway

Then finishing our tour at the Florence Cathedral (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore)Yay another amazing bell tower! 🙂

Florence Cathedral Bell Twoer

 I’ve heard of “Knocking’ on Heaven’s door” but now i was stood at “The Gates of Paradise”.

Me stood in front of the gates of Paradise

 Sarah then said “Go and stand in front of the doors of the Cathedral, we need more photos with you in them so people will know you were here”. I really don’t like this side of the lens, but this is for you guys! 🙂

Wow! Were these doors made for the Nephilim?!! 🙂

Me in front of the Florence Cathedral

Florence Cathedral 1

After this amazing tour, we felt that we could now spend a few days exploring with a little more confidence, starting with a trip to our fave coffee (and cake) place which is right next to our hotel. The cherry on top of the cake below really sums up our day. It’s been another unbelievable day that always leaves me saying “How am i here? This is like a dream! I still can’t believe i’m here?!” 

Cake

 You’ll be very pleased to know that my next post is the opening day of the exhibition! 

I’m so blessed that you’ve stuck with me on this incredible journey. God bless you. 😀 

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☀️ #6 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “San Gimig nano”🇮🇹

The dark cloak of night consumed us, light had escaped the dungeon of darkness but had vanished..…Sorry, just trying to set the mood for the final destination on our amazing Tuscany in a day tour.

Chiara had been telling us of the year 1348 when the black death had wiped out over ⅔ of the walled medieval town of San Gimignano, the majority of the people who survived the terror had left. Continuing on this theme, and the fact that it was totally dark outside (due to this time of year) set the scene for what we were about to experience!

Welcome to San Gimignano…

San Gimignano

After a short walk uphill, the group arrived at the main entrance of the walled town. We then had about 45 minutes free time to explore, then meet back here. Afterr the group dispersed, Sarah & i entered… 

No amount of photos could ever get across the feeling of this place! The black windows towering over you from each side, the silence and the shadows following you everywhere, generated a smothering atmosphere that had flavours of Fear, Death, Sorrow for the people of old, Awe and a weird taste of Joy and amazement. You really can only experience San Gimignano by physically being here! 

San Gimignano 4

San Gimignano 1

San Gimignano 5

San Gimignano 2

As Sarah was checking out the few little shops on the main walkway, i’d stay outside and just stand, soaking up the atmosphere that my words can’t describe. Sarah says “They only sell pottery or Knives”.

San Gimignano Shop

San Gimignano 3

As i was stood (see above) it was completely silent. Then all of a sudden i heard heavy footsteps from behind sounding like they were headed straight for me. I expected to see a blade sticking out of the front of my chest as an assassin wearing a monks tunic (from the video game (assassins creed) shot out of the shadows sending me to paradise.

As i turned though it was just a person leaving the church behind me, although i’m still not sure how they managed the booming footstep thing. My imagination really doesn’t help my heart at times like these! 🙂

San Gimignano 7

As we met back up with the group having felt we’d been to probably the most special place of the trip. We were so grateful we hadn’t decided to stay in the coach as it was just too dark to risk having accidents. 

I really hope you’ve enjoyed joining us on the “Tuscany in a day” tour?! 😀

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🐾 Pawing Away The COVID-19 Lockdown Blues With “Bruce THE Boxer” Day 19 – “Bust A Move”

Bruce looking straight at the camera whilst stood up and looks like he is dancing

Welcome back to your daily lockdown drill brought to you by Bruce…your fave Boxercise instructor! 

Attention!! Today’s Drill…“Bust A Move” 

All of us dogs have a very individualistic personality, just like the humans do. While this varies from breed to breed, a lot of us respond to music based on the genre. You all know what i mean, when that songs starts playing and you just have to “Bust A Move!”

Depending on your groove, and how funky your routine…This will leave your human in stitches, they will laugh their heads off! 😀 

At this point, i should tell you some benefits of busting a move…

Dancing is a great way to stay combat ready for dogs of all ages, shapes and sizes. It has a wide range of physical and mental benefits including:

  • Improves condition of your heart and lungs
  • Increases muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness
  • Increases aerobic fitness
  • Improves muscle tone and strength
  • Helps weight management
  • Stronger bones(that’s our bones and not the bones you normally chew.)
  • Better coordination, agility and flexibility
  • Improved balance and spatial awareness
  • Greater self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Better social skills.

💬 “Hit the floor with those groovy paws!” 🎶

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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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🐾 Pawing Away The COVID-19 Lockdown Blues With “Bruce THE Boxer” Day 18 – “Parrot Rest”

Bruce and his fluffy toy Parrot

Welcome back to your daily lockdown drill brought to you by Bruce…Your fave Boxercise instructor! 😀 

Wow yet another week in lockdown has passed already…Time flies when your boxercised!

Please meet my good friend “Parrot” 

It’s time to rest yet again, so go and grab your favourite toy of the moment and take a day of well earned rest..With plenty of sleeping! 😀 

Also let’s think once again about rest and sleep. It’s vitally important to take a day of rest to give your body a chance to heal, it helps to de-stress, and also helps our minds focus…On FOOD, lol! 🍔 

Fun Quote…“A well trained dog will make no attempt to share your lunch. He will just make you feel so guilty that you cannot enjoy it.”

🎶 Remember our happy singalong…”Every snack you make, every meal you bake, every bite you take, chocolate or cake, I’ll be watching you.” 

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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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🐾 Pawing Away The COVID-19 Lockdown Blues With “Bruce THE Boxer” Day 17 – “Posture”

Bruce sitting up nice and straight and looks like he's observing someone. He is sat on a wooden porch with the door behind him

Welcome back to your daily lockdown drill brought to you by Bruce…your fave Boxercise instructor! 

Attention!! Today’s Drill…“Posture” 

It’s normal for us to instinctively guard the resources that are important to us. This may include our food, our toys, our beds, our humans and our territory!

‘Territorial aggression’ is important  

First exhibit warning, then perform defensive and offensive behaviors…Your “War Face” is essential at this point!

 If the enemy proceeds…Continue barking, Growling, doing your “Short Sprints” up and down the perimeter…

If they move even closer…Charge, bite, gnaw, rip, twist whoever or whatever is invading your territory, until the threat is neutralised!!  

 This is why the correct posture is vital…Look harmless…Spring with power!

Here are some benefits of good Posture:

  • It keeps bones and joints correctly aligned so our muscles are being used properly.
  • Stops excessive wearing of joints.
  • Decreases the stress on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together.
  • Prevents the spine fixing in abnormal positions.
  • Prevents fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, allowing us to use less energy.
  • Prevents backache and muscular pain. 
  • Contributes to a good appearance.

Awareness of your own posture is key, you can even practise in front of the mirror if you like…Practise makes better! 

💬 “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Dwight D Eisenhower

🎶 singalong with me…”Every snack you make, every meal you bake, every bite you take, chocolate or cake, I’ll be watching you.”

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 🐾 Begin Boxercise class from Day 1  🐾

☀️ #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…

🇮🇹 Next Day

☀️ Start tour from beginning 🏝 Or join at:

🇧🇧 Our Barbados Birthdays 😀

View of a barbados beah with palm tree from a terrace looking through arches

Wow, thanks Facebook Memories for this reminder from 1 year ago today!!! I’ve had another lockdown idea…Would you guys like to come on tour with the blind sightseers each day during this lockdown? I could start by posting our day trips and then post some of my best snaps from random places around the world? What do you think? Or have you been bored enough by my multiple posts a day and need this lockdown to be finished quickly so i go back to normal, lol?! 😀 

‘Steve Rebus is feeling blessed with Sarah Rebus at Southern Palms Beach Club and Resort Hotel Barbados’.

17 April 2019 at 14:08 · Saint Lawrence, Barbados ·
“Wow we can really get used to this stunning view from our terrace to celebrate our birthdays!” 🇧🇧😎🎸❤️💪🏻

🐾 Pawing Away The COVID-19 Lockdown Blues With “Bruce THE Boxer” Day 16 – “Aerobies & Frisbees”

Bruce with an areobie in his mouth and showing his teeth. the aerobie is over his head

Welcome back to your daily lockdown drill brought to you by Bruce…your fave Boxercise instructor! 

Attention!! Today’s Drill…“Aerobies & Frisbees” 

“When will my humans learn that this is my Aerobie…Go and fetch your own if you want one, stop taking this one and throwing it, lol!” 

If you listen to the humans, they will call this  a “Sport”…But it’s a “Drill”

The reason this drill is important: It gives you a good workout and improves your speed, gives you fantastic muscle tone, increases paw to eye coordination and quickens your reflexes! 🐾

💬 “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Dwight D Eisenhower

🎶 singalong with me…”Every snack you make, every meal you bake, every bite you take, chocolate or cake, I’ll be watching you.”

 

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 🐾 Begin Boxercise class from Day 1  🐾

🐾 Pawing Away The COVID-19 Lockdown Blues With “Bruce THE Boxer” Day 15 – “Eyeballing”

Portraint of Bruce not looking impressed

Welcome back to your daily lockdown drill brought to you by Bruce…your fave Boxercise instructor! 

Attention!! Today’s Drill…“Eyeballing” 

“Are you eyeballing me?! Don’t eyeball me! Never eyeball me!! Keep your eyes front and don’t move them until i call them!” 

You may have thought i’ve been going soft on you as the last few posts have been a little squishy…But that ends now…Go hard or be soft! 😖

The burning pain of discipline is nothing to the anguish of disappointment! 

💬 “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Dwight D Eisenhower

🤔 “A lean dog shames its master.” Japanese Proverb

🎶 singalong with me…”Every snack you make, every meal you bake, every bite you take, chocolate or cake, I’ll be watching you.”

 

⬅ Previous Day 🐾 Next Day ➡ 

 

 🐾 Begin Boxercise class from Day 1  🐾