Tag Archives: Cruise Ship

☀️ #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? 🤔 
 

☀️ #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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☀️ #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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☀️ #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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