Tag Archives: Shore Excursions

☀️ #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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☀️ #48 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Guadeloupe” 🇬🇵 (2018)

Guadeloupe logo

Bonjour mes amis (Good Morning My Friends) 😀  

With your detective hats on did you guess we were landing on Guadeloupe? Sarah & i had never watched any of the ‘Death in paradise’ TV shows so didn’t have a clue that it was filmed on this island….When we returned home we watched (and loved) the whole series! 😀 There was even a shore excursion visiting all of the places from the show…We want to come back here now and do that excursion, maybe one day! 😀  

 Anyway let’s see where we’re going? 

Botanical Garden & Deshaies Beach Walking: 

Locals used to refer to Guadeloupe as Karukera – the Island of Beautiful Waters – and this trip shows you exactly why. You’ll start by visiting the island’s vast botanical gardens, which sprawl out for 17 acres. Packed with everything from tropical palm trees to colourful lotus flowers, it’s one of Guadeloupe’s most-prized possessions. It’s even home to flamingos and a huge parrot aviary. From here, you’ll drive to the biscuit-coloured beach at Deshaies. This long sandy number is tailor-made for lazy days in the sun, and the glassy waters are great for swimming. Head to the waterfront food shack when you’re done tanning, and you’ll get to tuck into spicy fish fritters and handmade coconut sorbet.

On the coach…

After another bowl of porridge, a lovely omelette and a banana we made our way off the ship and onto the coach. Yay the excursion team had booked the front 2 seats for us again. The sun was already hot and i thought it might get a little cooler as rain started to hit the windows of the coach. But the guide was telling us that the climate changes as we drive into the centre of the island, then gets hot again at the coast. ☀️  

Botanical Gardens…

The first thing that hit us (no not the sun) was the vivid and saturated colours! I’m also colour blind but these colours were something else!  

Super clourful parrot

Super clourful parrot

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The whole botanical garden was full of massive trees with fruit, pinecones and other things that were as big (or bigger) than your head. Walking around this incredible place was like nothing else we’d seen especially at home.  

Crazy tree that Sarah liked

Garden

 Cafe & Waterfall…

After a while it was time for a short break and we stopped at a little wooden hut type thingy. The whole group sat down but we found this fantastic waterfall next to the rail. The air suddenly turned fresh the nearer we came to the waterfall…It was lovely. 😀   

Waterfall

Me wearing a vest in the garden

Small digression…

After returning home and watching the whole ‘Death in paradise’ TV show, there was an episode where the detective inspector stood exactly where i am now next to the waterfall! As you can imagine…I don’t stop talking about that either! 🤣  

Moving on we found these beautiful flamingos.  

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Flamingos

 We had about an hour free time to walk around this incredible place and to be wowed some more! 😀   

Tree and fruit

Tree and fruit

Tree and fruit

 Wow did i mention we were in Guadeloupe, colours so bold and vivid and then some more flamingos!  

Flamingos

 Sarah and i managed the hot walk back to the coach but all the way wondering if we could grow any of the trees back at home. We decided it just wasn’t hot enough and it was pointless trying! 

The coach slowed down on the way to the beach and people started getting up, talking and taking photos. I said “I’ve just heard them say that it’s the police station from Death in paradise” Like i said we’d never seen a single episode at this point…But if i did i’d be jumping off the coach by now and trying to get my photo taken, lol! 🤣 I think we need to go back!

 Deshaies Beach. 

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The guide said this was not the beach where the detective inspector lives but it’s not too far away…Man i need to let this go! 🤣  

I’d brought my rucksack with towels, sun cream and other things ready for this moment of Sarah playing in the sea, and it wasn’t long before she got to put her feet in the Guadeloupe water! 

The sea Embrace…

As you may have read on the older posts Sarah loves to splash, play and walk around the edges of the sea where the waves crash in and push her around, making sure she doesn’t go too deep as the current is very strong and doesn’t want to get her eyes wet or damaged.

Sarah was playing with the waves, smiling and laughing when…

A man grabbed her and pulled her further into the sea and past where the waves crashed which was Sarah’s fave. By the time Sarah was stood back up and not impressed she realised her special polarised Oakley Embrace sunglasses had flown off when the man grabbed her! There was no way of finding them as they had disappeared straight away into the sunglasses graveyard! 😭

I obviously didn’t see any of this as i was on the beach with the bags and towels but i knew that those special sunglasses helped Sarah see better than usual. When you have severe sight problems every small increment helps and Sarah said with the polarised lenses and the brightness of the sun her sight was at it’s best.

Beach and sea landscape with the coast line entering the sea

Well the fun was over prematurely and we headed off the beach. I gave Sarah my sunglasses but i knew they wouldn’t help much but at least they’d keep the harmful rays off her delicate eyes. 

The handmade coconut sorbet…

Stepping off the beach Sarah said “Wow that’s a lot of coconuts! Steve there is a table filled with coconuts and then there are piles of coconuts on the floor and the man has and huge machete in his hand” “Oohhh i’ve never had fresh coconut like that” i said as we walked over to the table. Sarah then said with excitement in her voice “They are making fresh coconut sorbet would you like one as i bet you’re roasting?” 

Whilst one man was hacking, whacking and smacking the coconuts the other man was passing Sarah the handmade coconut sorbet. As i tasted the first little spoonful i heard the sound of the bell as this dream food hit the top of the ‘Blind Sightseers Gastronomic leaderboard’ for ice cream and sorbet! It was the best i’d ever tasted and seriously nothing comes close…And still hasn’t! 😀 We’d hit the low (losing sunglasses) and the high (coconut sorbet) in the space of about 20 minutes!

Back at the ship…

You’ve guessed it…We had another iced coffee during our refresh on the ship and left for the dock. We found a small market and slowly browsed each stall until…

A man from the upcoming sandal stall caught sight of Sarah’s ultra bright Asics triathlon trainers. Sarah has to wear these trainers all of the time whilst on holiday because it keeps her feet secure and safe as she needs protection from another ‘Charcot’ foot becoming active. The man lept out from the store and folded in half and said “Wooaahhh i love them! I have a pair of sandals like them that you’ll love, come and look!” We stopped at the stall and Sarah said that they were beautiful and brightly coloured but i can’t wear them. 

He said “I make the best sandals on the island look at the quality” “I know i can see they are good quality and i love the colours” Sarah said as the man ran around the stall with a pair of the sandals “I know feet and i guessed these are your size” They were the perfect size and he kept saying try them on whist Sarah was saying i can’t wear them as i need protection and can’t wear sandals. This good natured banter kept on for about half an hour until Sarah finally managed to get him to understand a little of the problem. 😀  

 Back on the ship…

After a lovely sail away coffee it was time for me to start thinking of the shape my squishy mangled bones would be in if i fall off the zip line tomorrow, and continue to fall all the way down to the hard rain forest floor. 

But first we’ll think about our memorable day in Guadeloupe. 😀  ☀️  

I hope you enjoyed your little tour around this stunning island?

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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☀️ #46 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Minorca” 🇪🇸 (2017)

Minorca logo

 Buenos días (Good Morning) 😀  

The ‘Blind Sightseers’ have arrived in Minorca! I love the way we’ve had 3 different languages in 3 days..Italian, French and now Spanish! 😀  

Today was a beach break on one of the south coast beaches. Let’s hope it’s a relaxing one but you never know, lol! 

On the dock…

After another lovely breakfast 🥓 we headed out onto the dock to get the coach. 

row of coaches in front of the ship

Beautiful town of Minorca

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Me in Minorca

The beach…

This beach was much easier to find (unlike the one in Corfu) and Sarah instantly walked across the sand and into the sea, yay! 😀   

Sarah walking in the sea ath Minorca

Sarah walking in the sea ath Minorca

 Sarah then came back and found a place to put our towels, sit and put our bags…Then walked straight back into the sea! 😀  

Sarah walking in the sea ath Minorca

Sarah's head just visable in the sea in Minorca

Me on the beach in Minorca

Sarah in the sea in Minorca

Photo of me burning on the beach

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Map on the iphone of a GPS location in Minorca

 Although it wasn’t really a hot sunny day and it was very windy and cloudy, i still was boiling and had to go for a cooling off. 😀  

Me walking up from the sea after cooling my feet holding my sandals

Me walking closer with my new Amalfi vest on

 We had a lovely time although sand blasted and totally covered in sand. it was a lovely place and it was good for me and Sarah to chill out for a while. 😀   

view of rolling hiss joining the sea with the beach in the front

 Back at the dock…

After a quick refresh on the ship we were sand free and ready to explore. The main street ran parallel to the ship so we couldn’t get lost. We found a few shops and in one of them Sarah found a lovely necklace, yay! We continued walking up the street until we reached the end. “Ooooohhh palm trees” i said.  

me stood on th main street of Minorca dock

row of palm trees along the street in Minorca

Long row of palm trees along the road

Sarah just crossed the road beofre getting run over

House on top of a cliff

 The cafe and the storm…

 The black clouds were moving in quickly so when we found a lovely cafe i said “As these tables are 3 deep and completely covered, if we sit in the middle the rain will never get us here”. We sat down and waited for the waitress.

And then…

I’ve never witnessed rain like this ever. It gave no warning and came down (sideways) very hard, very heavy and very fast! Even though we were sat a long way from the end of the shelter we were getting soaked. The waitress ran out collected something off the tables and ran in. I thought “She’s done this before, lol! Sarah grabbed me and we flew inside. 

The whole point of coming to a cafe in a Spanish country…Was we wanted to ask for ‘Patatas Fritas’. Sarah’s dad and brothers spent a lot of time in Spain and can speak fluent Spanish, so when the waitress came over to ask us what we wanted…Both Sarah and i said ‘Patatas Fritas’. The waitress looked at us and said “So you want chips!” ☹️ Although we didn’t get the Spanish language…The chips didn’t disappoint. 

We could still hear the thunderous rain storm outside and we had to get back to the ship soon…I think we were going to get soaked….We did! 😀  

On the ship… 

Wow what a beautiful sunset…  

Beautiful sunset over Minorca

 Yay we finally have a photo of my lovely wife Sarah in the evening restaurant and she’s wearing her new necklace!

Lovely wife Sarah whilst having our last evening meal on the ship

 Now we know why this ship is called the Thomson Majesty..Such a beautiful piano set in a lovely part of the ship with my lovely wife Sarah (meaning Princess).

Lovely wife Sarah and the piano

 The Blind Sightseers have had another lovely day exploring yet another island…And although it’s the end of this ‘Treasures of the Mediterranean’ Cruise it’s not they end of our monumental tour during this lockdown. 

So let’s jump from this Thomson Majesty ship onto the Marella Discovery. Thomson were also bought out by Tui and now the ships are called Marella instead of Thomson.

I wonder where this ship is heading??

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

IMG 3002

 

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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☀️ #33 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Xel-Ha, Cozumel, Mexico”🇲🇽(2016)

Mexico logo 1

Yay…It’s Sarah’s Birthday!!! I wonder if it’ll be memorable?! 🤣  

Good morning WordPress family! Are you up for some ‘River Tubing’ today? We‘ve never tried this before and after our kayaking yesterday we thought it would be a relaxing way to gently float downstream ensconced in the lush landscapes and soothing sun ☀️  Well here goes…

Our initial thoughts were this excursion really wasn’t for us as it sounds like a big park where you have to find all of the events yourselves (that’s not our strong point as we both have sight problems). We are much better with a tour guide who we can follow than to be left alone and get lost…But we really wanted to try ‘River Tubing’ so let’s do this! 😀 

It was an 8 hour excursion and when it took 2 hours to get to Xel-Ha (a seriously bumpy boat and a mostly smooth coach) we thought “If it’s 2 hours here and 2 hours back, surely not even we can get too far lost in 4 hours?! Lol famous last words” 🤣  

Welcome to Xel-Ha… 

An exciting adventure awaits you at the sacred Mayan paradise, Xel-Ha. In this natural lagoon, which was sacred to the Mayans, you can experience some fabulous snorkeling in a natural tropical aquarium, viewing an amazing variety of multi-colored fish and tropical marine life in beautiful clear waters. Upon arrival, your guide will escort you through the park for an orientation, then you are on your own to enjoy time to swim, walk the jungle paths, stroll the beach, relax in a lounge chair,or snorkel at this beautiful lagoon.

Xel-Ha offers a collection of coves, caves, inlets and lagoons. Both the Caribbean Sea and the network of underground rivers and springs feed this area, filling the lagoon with both salt water and fresh water. This sometimes gives an almost 3-D viewing of the alluring coral formation and the myriad of tropical colored fish.

an amazing panorama of the whole lagoon at the mexican

Leaving the coach and making our way to the lockers and changing rooms Sarah managed to take this stupendous panorama. It’s a beautiful place 

Sarah said “There is no way i’m swimming in there!! I don’t mind the crystal clear sea but no way will you get me in there” “That’s ok my love you don’t have to swim when your river tubing anyway, so we can just relax and enjoy. We just need to remember where the changing rooms are when the guide leads us so we have a reference point”. 

Shortly after, the guide stopped and said to meet him in 4 hours back at the main entrance so we can get the coach back. I said “Oh, the entrance is miles away as we’ve been walking for a while and i have no idea where it is, lol But here are the changing rooms so i’ll wait right here for you”. I like to be the pack donkey on all of our tours and i carry the towels, sun cream and other stuff and if Sarah goes swimming, i carry her insulin pump etc. This works really well for me as i don’t really like swimming…I don’t think i’ve been swimming at all since going blind 16 years ago! 

Yay, Sarah’s here so let’s try and figure out where things are…😕

a panorama taken on one side of the river and looking over to the other side. The river running left to right

 Oooo another panorama from Sarah! Well at least we’d found the river again, so if we follow it up hill we should find where the river tubing starts?! This sounded like a good plan until the multi direction trails didn’t follow the river. After walking for quite a while in the scorching sun, we somehow managed to find the bag check-in for the river tubing, yay thanks Sarah! 😀 

Sarah had to now unplug her insulin pump and put it in my backpack, and after a quick blood test (ouch, her blood sugar was good) i hesitantly handed in my backpack. As we havn’t got a GoPro or anything (really wish we had one after all of these trips) we had to hand in our iPhones too, so i knew we wouldn’t get many photos of the day, sorry! 😢 

Right, let’s go ‘River Tubing’…

We entered another locker room and most of the people in front of us were putting on flippers and snorkelling gear, i said “Oh, i’m not dressed for any of this, i didn’t think you had to put all of the gear on. I thought it was just the river tubing up here?” “Don’t panic we are only here for the river tubing but you can also (if you want) do snorkelling etc” “Excellent, thanks”. Sarah is fantastic at sorting things out . “I’ll sit in the rear hole and you sit in the front hole as i will weigh the back down and it will look like a speedboat”. 🤣  

After we laughed loads as we had many attempts of climbing aboard, we were ready! 

The Mangroves…

“Wow those branches are low” i said while ducking even more although i was practically lying down. It was my first experience of mangroves and as we had no outboard engine we were using the branches and the sides to propel ourselves forward. As it looked exactly like the old Tarzan films i’d watched as a kid, i was picturing (in my mind) a crocodile (or 10) sliding in from the side and tactically stalking us ready for the barrel roll! Nevermind the flesh eating lizards sat on the branches waiting for dinner to float by, lol.

As my mind was racing but our river tube wasn’t going anywhere fast, i focused on all of the laughter going on around us. There were lots of us slowly getting to grips with how to manage this new speedboat. Sarah said “Wow there is a tiny baby strapped to the front of that woman in one of the other boats so it can’t be that hard, lol!”. After about 10 minutes we cleared the mangroves and the beautiful landscape unfolded before our eyes! 😀

a panorama taken on one side of the river and looking over to the other side. The river running left to right

There wasn’t much current and the river didn’t slope much, so our progress was slow…But wow, the feeling of floating downstream through this film set landscape with my arms around my lovely wife Sarah was beautiful ❤️ 

After a while the river tubers were thinning out and there were only a few of us left, this made it even more blissful and quiet.

Then…

Time was passing by easily, and we quickly realised there wasn’t anyone around and the river had got quite wide (with our eyesight anyway) and we were alone! The river tube wasn’t moving, even our hand paddling had little effect. I suddenly felt a burst of speed as Sarah had sat up and put her legs in the water and was kicking her feet (like the flintstones). Suddenly she whipped her feet back up and said “i think a fish (or octopus) has just tried to grab my leg?!” “Oh no that’s not good” i said as the ‘Master of obvious”. Then she said “No wait there, my trainer laces had come undone whilst under the water and started stroking my leg, lol!” “Ok” i said “We need a action plan” 

 Our predicament…

We were floating alone, the river banks were getting wider and wider and we knew it joined up with the Caribbean sea at some point. We couldn’t hear anyone and we were thinking we’d maybe already passed the exit of the river tubing and we were floating out into the sea. The midday sun was scorching and we knew it was time to act.

We’d passed a huge board (see below) whilst walking up to get the river tubes that displayed all of the fish/sharks that live in the water, and as it’s fresh water going to sea water the fish grow much bigger. I’m glad i couldn’t see what was on the board!

IMG 4283

Knowing all of this, and knowing i havn’t swam since going blind…I knew now was the time to “Man Up” and lay down my life for my wife and save her! 💪🏼  

The plan…

I said to Sarah “I’m going to jump in the river and grab hold of the back of the river tube and then stretch out and kick my legs like a snorkeler and pretend to be an outboard motor, and you can sit up front and be the navigator and try and get us back (or anywhere we can get off)”. “Right sounds like a plan…Let’s do this”.

I jumped in and instantly regretted it. I thought i could still swim in my head but my body didn’t have the same idea. After coughing up loads of water and nearly drowning through lack of swimming ability…I slowly adapted and grabbed hold of the river tube. 

At least we were now gaining speed  and heading in what we thought was the right direction. After what seemed like 10 weeks (it was more like 10 minutes) Sarah said (I still can’t see anywhere to get off the bank and it all still looks the same…But there are a few rocks sticking out of the water where we can hopefully stop and rest whilst regrouping and updating our plan. 

The rocks…

Yay, we made it to the rocks…Oh wait a minute, wow these rocks are super slippy (i was like Scooby Doo slipping on a banana skin) ! Sarah was already on top of one of the rocks and looking to see where we could go next and if there was a way out of this crocodile and Piranha infested water. Just as i’d steadied myself and caught my breath (i was exhausted) Sarah slipped backwards…😨 

All i heard was a loud thud and a “Aagghhh” noise from Sarah “Sarah, are you alright?” I knew we were surrounded by so many pointy rocks and if she’d slipped and hit her head on one of those rocks…It was curtains. We had no phones or anything out here and no way of calling out as we can’t hear anyone or see anyone. So when i heard “It’s ok i just slipped” from my warrior wife…I felt so relieved. I said “What was the loud thud sound? Are you ok?” “Yeah i missed the more pointed rocks and just hit my back on the other rock. I’m ok though”. I let out a huge sigh (just like our Boxer dog Bruce used to make).

Just then i spotted a slight movement out of the corner of my blurry eyes “What’s that Sarah?” i said while pointing downwards near her feet. “Wow, it’s a snorkeler” “That means we can’t be too far away now…Or it means there are some massive fish, sharks, octopus or crocodiles around here”. Just after saying this the snorkeler had gone and it was time for us to carry on and hopefully find base camp. 

Sarah was sat firmly on the front of the river tube and i was hanging on for dear life while trying to get a nice solid and consistent thrust from the back. Sarah was expertly navigating from the front and when she said “right a little” i twisted and kicked until the river tube turned to the right,, we are getting the hang of this, lol. 

My thoughts quickly returned to “Any minute now i could get savaged by any of the mutated creatures in here, and they would start on Sarah next! But then Sarah said “I think i can see a way out of here?! It looks like there are long steps on the right bank and we could climb out onto land. “Wow, let’s go” I said whilst trying not to drown as i was getting really tired now. 😰

“Yes, just a little further. It looks like we can pull up here alongside these steps”. We finally hit the steps and Sarah climbed out. The steps were really long but only went a couple of steps into the water, so when i grabbed hold of the first step my legs flew underneath and tried to drag me under. Thankfully i had jus enough energy to hang on and throw my leg over and onto the steps (i’m sure Sarah didn’t have this struggle, lol). Pulling the river tube up onto land, we sat back on the steps and thought for a moment about what just happened?! We also knew that Sarah hadn’t done a blood test for quite a while and hasn’t got her insulin pump attached, so her blood sugar could be anything.

As we sat on the steps totally thankful we’d made it out of the water, i looked down directly into the water right next to the steps…”What are they?” I was pointing at what looked to me like a fleet of black stealth submarines taking cover next to the steps. I know my eyes are really poor but if i can make something out…It must be massive, lol! Sarah said “They are fish (i think) and they are massive! “I was just right there a minute ago” i said not quite believing how close they were…But we’ve made it out of the infested waters. Now we might have the same challenge (but on land) as we try and figure out where we are??

The next stage…

We were just pulling the river tube further inland, when…”Is that music i can hear?” i said as i was trying to clear my ears of water “Yes it is” Sarah said “It’s coming from over there”. Sarah took my arm and we started walking towards the sound. Almost instantly the trail opened out and we were standing at the bag check-in desk! “No way” we both said at the same time, i said  “It’s not possible that we’re here, we’d gone miles into nowhere! Is the Bermuda Triangle near here?” 😁

After i got my backpack and Sarah had her insulin pump connected, she quickly did a test and her blood sugar was perfect! 😀 We found the changing rooms and when we were all changed we headed for the inclusive lunch.

As we only had to follow our noses (it wasn’t far at all) Sarah found a table in the sun and we sat down. “Woah” i said “How did that quickly turn into a ‘Blind Sightseers’ dramatic adventure?” “I know, but how amazing how we ended up right back here! Anyway, let’s get you a burger…You’ve earned it” 🍔  

After a lovely burger and an ice cold bottle of water, we started walking around to see if we could find anything else. Don’t worry, we stayed on the larger trails and we kept other people in earshot.  

Sarah stood in front of the a panorama taken on one side of the river and looking over to the other side. The river running left to right

Sarah’s Sunglasses…

As Sarah also has sight problems…She has a pair of Oakley sunglasses with a particular polarised lens (normal lenses don’t help her eyesight) but like the photo above shows…They are gone!! 😢 We have no idea when (or where) they had gone missing, we only know they are gone. I handed Sarah my own but they only had normal lenses and were not any good for navigation etc…But they did help stop the glare from the hot sun. ☀️ 

Sarah stood in front of the amazing landscape of the river going into the sea with rolling hills all a round

IMG 4308

You’ll never guess what we found next??? Yay, a zip line…

Sarah said “Wow a zip line, i’ve never had a go on one of these. It looks amazing and i can’t believe we’ve found it”. What…Can i really say no?! 🤣 

Sarah sat on a zip line seat going left to right with a big smile on her face

Wow, the action never stops, lol! Sarah must have had spinach for lunch as she seems to have more energy than Popeye and the Duracell bunny combined…I just wanted to sleep, lol! But how can you stop when that smile burns hotter than the sun! 😀 ☀️  

And finally…Yay , she’s not a machine! 

Sarah lying in a hammock which is tied to some trees

It’s time to start heading back…

After one more ice cold drink we asked the server which way the main entrance was, she pointed in the general direction and we thanked her. We started walking and talking about the day we’d had and how amazing the place was even though it’s not quite over yet. “We’ll defo remember this place” i said (we talk about this day all of the time). Arriving at the main entrance area Sarah said “There is a photo kiosk over there, let’s ask and see if they have any photos of us?” I said a little confused “I didn’t know they were taking photos but it would be great if they have any of us river tubing etc”.  

The photos…

Sarah was not happy after speaking to the man as he had just dismissed her saying “If you didn’t scan your armband before each event then we can’t find you on the system” Sarah had told him that we were both registered blind and we weren’t told about scanning for photos and we certainly can’t see it. Sarah continued “We will buy any of the photos you have of us as we really want to remember the day”. The man was having none of it and walked away. Sarah started walking back to me when she saw another man stand behind the kiosk. She returned and said the same to him…He was really helpful and understood our problem, he continued to search the whole day, looking through thousands of images to see if he could find any shots of us…

Then he saw Sarah on the zip line. “Yes we’ll have it” Sarah said, she waited a while longer for him to search some more. The coach was arriving any minute too and we were running out of time fast. He frantically started searching but he couldn’t find anymore photos. “Ok” Sarah said “Can i buy it here?” He said no and that she had to go over the courtyard to have it put in a sleeve and then she can buy it. Sarah came and grabbed me as she knew i’d be worried as it’s been taking longer than expected. “Where are your sunglasses (my sunglasses)” i said “Oh man, don’t say i’ve put them down somewhere and i’ve lost them too?” 

After buying the photo (see the fantastic zip line shot of Sarah above) Sarah was adamant (she wasn’t losing 2 pairs of sunglasses today) and blitz between all of the counters she’d been at…Nothing. Then she asked the man and he started searching all around…Nothing. Then just as everyone had given up, the man had found them in lost property where one of the staff had put them. Phew! 😀  

We also managed to get back to the coach in the nick of time and now we can relax for a couple of hours as we return to the ship.

In the coffee port…

As it was Sarah’s birthday she ordered an amazing chocolate, waffle, ice cream coffee dream cake…Sarah had a tiny taste with a tea spoon (as she’s diabetic) so it was left for me to step up to the plate, man up (again) and try to enjoy this delicious coffee cake thingy! It’s tough sometimes being the husband of a T1D (Type 1 Diabetic) I’ll give it my best shot! 🤣  

plate fo fresh fruit on a table top in front of a view outside across the ocean

 We had a lovely evening meal and as always Sarah had the lovely cheese board to finish. I think that’s what the photo below is showing?!  

Fance cheese and biscuits for Sarahs birthday

Finally we finished off this amazing, challenging, exhausting, conquering and blessed day with (yes you’ve guessed it) Sarah’s special sugar free Mojito and i had a BBC. 

Me on the left with arms around sarah and both smiling at the camera with braided hair and a cocktal in hand

 Thank you so much for celebrating Sarah’s birthday with us, it’s a day we’ll never forget (and haven’t). 😀 

The ‘Blind Sightseers’ are not finished yet…💪🏼  

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☀️ #29 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Yay…Caribbean Again!”🇯🇲

Jamaica Logo

 Yay!!!! Were off to the Caribbean again!! (2016) 😀  

I can’t believe we’re getting another chance to see some of God’s glorious creation! We were so blessed with our last cruise “Transatlantic Sunset Tour” even though we had a roller coaster of a ride! 🙂 

We were up around 4:30am, packing the final items into our cases. I found out the hard way last year on how impossible it was to find my black suitcase on the carousel among hundreds of other black suitcases!! 😦 So this year i’ve treated myself to a dark purple one. Let’s see if this one is better to find?!

Kate, from the local taxis that Sarah uses for work, arrived and we set off for Gatwick. “Now we can relax” i said “As it’s too late to go back if we’ve forgotten anything”. 

The Airport…

Kate was fantastic, and drove us right to the entrance and pointed us in the right direction “Just keep walking that way and you’ll be fine”. We checked in our cases and were given the fantastic airport assistance who guided us through customs and sat us in departures ready to catch the fun train. 

The people at the desk said there was a 1 hour delay…”Oh yes!!” Sarah & i said at the same time “We have time to go shopping and have a coffee”. I think this was a new response for them as they looked a little bemused! 🙂 

After finding the same italian coffee place from last year(it’s becoming another local), we found our way around a few shops and headed back to the pick up point. It wasn’t long before the handheld thing they give me started flashing and vibrating which meant it is our turn to get on-board the train!  

Me on-board the Fun Train at Gatwick irport

After our fun ride on the train, we boarded the plane and i even got a window seat. The 787 Dreamliner didn’t disapoint as it gave it the beans down the runway! 

A view from the airplane with the wing in view

During the 10½ hour flight, Sarah watched about 5 films(well 10 minutes of each, as she said they were horiffic, and saw firsthand why we didn’t have a TV lisence anymore). We enjoyed the in-flight meals though, and it made up for the poor entertainment. 

As i can’t even see who is sat next to me(although i know it’s Sarah), i spent the time listening to the people around me. It helps me understand who is around, where they are, and i get to learn a little about the person by their words and character…as “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart”. 🙂 

Yay,we’re back in Jamaica! 😀    

The airport assistance escorted us through customs and to the queue for the coach transfer to the ship. As soon as they realised we couldn’t see, they took us and skipped straight passed the queue and onto the coach where we were shown to the 2 front seats! One advantage of being blind, lol.

Arriving at the ship, the coach driver said there were further delays and the queue for the ship check-in was long and it’s seriously hot out there! But when we left the coach, we met the assistance and again, they led us passed the large queue straight to the check-in and onto the ship! I always feel a little guilty when this happens, but it’s a fantastic service for us. 🙂

Boarding the Thomson Dream again this year felt like we were coming home. It took us about a week to figure out where everything is, but this time we remembered and it made life a lot easier! 🙂 

The Emergency Drill…

We were now almost experts at the life jackets(well Sarah was) and we needed no help this time putting them on. It was really hot and humid out on deck for the drill, but i handled the heat much better this time. 🙂 

Finding our way back to the cabin with our life jackets on, we wanted to try and take a selfie to keep as a memory, as we probably wouldn’t have chance if we ever needed to use them again. It’s really hard to take a selfie when you can’t see the phone screen, but we took loads and managed to find one.

A selfy of Sarah and i wearing our orange life jackets

 The Coffee Port…

After a full on day, Sarah & i were in need of a proper coffee…and guess what greeting we heard as we walked in??!! Yes it was Cecily! “No way” we both said “It’s so good to see you again”. Cecily then sat us down and said “2 espresso macchiatos?”….No way, she remembered! 🙂 This was really starting to feel like home.

We finished our coffees and headed back to our cabin. Our cases had arrived and we started unpacking as the ship set sail for Trujillo, Honduras…Wow what a day! 😀 

Day 2…..

Sea logo

We spent day 2 exploring and seeing if anything had changed since we’d been gone. There were a few changes but nothing that tripped us up. Now it was time to check out the shore excursions for the next 4 islands! 

Last year we didnt realise how quickly they sold out, so we got in early  and booked an excursion for each of the 4 days, we were excited to have booked a few varied tours, but i was a little worried as we’d booked Kayaking on one tour and River tubing on another. Can blind people really do this without crippling themselves?? 😨 

Either way…back to the Coffee Port to celebrate with a latte! 🙂 

Coffee Port Latte

 Thanks for joining us, it’s great to see you on-board again! 😀   

Our Route:

this evening Thomson Dream sails to Trujillo, Honduras. We’ll arrive on Thursday morning after the leisurely day at sea having travelled 515 nautical miles at an average speed of 15 knots. 

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☀️ #28 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Matlock Bath”🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Matlock Bath Logo

Wow what a cruise! I hope you’re enjoying this trip down memory lane? 

 🚠 Before we head off back to the sunshine…Here is a trip in the UK, lol!  🇬🇧 ☔️ 😀 

After travelling up to Derby and spending the day with “Our Friends The Wigley Family”  Sunday came and we woke up to a lovely view over Derby.

Hotel Room View overlooking a road and a landscape

⇧ View from our hotel room ⇧

We then headed to the train station to travel to Doncaster to see Sarah’s family.

Sarah Portrait

⇧ Sarah sat in the train station café ⇧ 

Little did we know that the Tour de France was in Yorkshire on this day, but to our surprise the reservations were overloaded and the train was full so we got upgraded to first class (for free) which was empty! 🙂

Sarah s First Class

⇧ SARAH’S FIRST CLASS!! ⇧ 

We arrived in Doncaster for Marshall’s birthday dinner at Cosmo’s where we met all of the family. We had a lovely meal and it was great to catch up with them all! 🙂

Marshall on left, Sarah in the middle and Alfie on the right

⇧ Marshall (left), Sarah & Alfie ⇧ 

After arriving back in Derby that evening, Sarah & i went to our fave italian Zizzi’s for a lovely meal. I also got to have the lovely chocolate, banana & ice cream calzone, which Sarah stole most of! 🙂 

Sarah  the calzone

Then it was Monday 7th July our 7th wedding anniversary where we would enjoy “The Heights Of Abraham” at Matlock Bath.

Cable Cars  Sarah 2

Cable Car View 2

We we arrived at the top we found a tower (which was too dark for us to climb) but it looked nice! 🙂

Tower  Cable Cars

And i met a new friend…….

Me and Donkey

⇧ My new friend (i love donkeys in case you didn’t know!) 😀 ⇧ 

And after my amazing driving in the bumper cars (see here) i found another vehicle i had to drive……..

Me driving school bus

⇧ Getting the chance to drive yet again! ⇧ 

Cable Cars  Sarah

⇧ Descending back down to ground level ⇧ 

Cable Car View 3

Cable Car View 4

Cable Car View

⇧ Views overlooking the villages from the cable cars ⇧ 

After a fantastic (and exhausting) weekend we finally checked out and headed home!

The Hotel

⇧ Sarah outside Jury’s Inn, Derby ⇧ 

All photos taken using my iPhone (i left my heavy DSLR’s in the hotel)

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☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #27 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Palma”🇪🇸(2015)

Click Palma Logo to begin the Transatlantic Sunset Tour

Leaving our room for the last time and hoping we’d not forgotten anything, we had a couple of hours on the ship before our coach arrived. We first went out on deck to say hello to Palma! ☀️  

Palma Dock

Wow, we’re really going to miss the sun when we arrive home! ☀️ 

We stayed out on deck for about half an hour reflecting on our crazy cruise and how we actually survived some of the situations that tried to knock us down. Then it was time to say goodbye to my favourite  place “The Coffee Port”. 

Cecily and the Coffee Port… 

Photo of Sarah and Cecily in the coffee port

I would like to say a huge thanks to Cecily and the Coffee Port. Every time without fail, as soon as Sarah and i would walk in, and before we’d seen Cecily, We’d here one of our names(depending who entered first) melodically sung which put a huge smile on our faces, what a welcome! 🙂

She was so supportive of us and made fantastic coffee! ☕ 😀 

Getting the coach…

After leaving the gangway for the last time, we boarded our coach and headed to the airport. It was a nice drive through Palma, but the mood on the coach was somber, as no-one wanted to go home. Although Sarah’s cough was almost constant and she was so tired from just coughing, she really wanted to be home so she can order a replacement insulin pump and get her blood under control. 

Palma airport…

We arrived at Palma airport and found the assisstance that helped us with our luggage, then escorted us to the gate where we sat waiting for the announcements. Sarah said “Let’s go and find you a coffee, then i can go and look around some shops as we will be here for about an hour” “Cool, sounds good to me, as long as we don’t venture off too far”.

Just then we heard our names called…

We were surprised to see one of the couples who befriended us at the Orion Restaurant in the evenings. They gave Sarah a card and said “Hope your new job goes well, and you find your feet quickly. We wish you all the best”. Sarah was in pleasant shock with this unexpected kindness, especially as we thought we’d never meet them again.

Yay, the plane…

I was excited to be travelling on an airplane again, and was totally surprised i managed to capture a piece of Palma upon take off! 🙂  

Palma from Thomson Dreamliner

Back in the UK…

We arrived in Gatwick airport on the Sunday before Bank Holiday Monday. The plan was to have the Bank Holiday as a rest day to try and recover from this rollercoaster of a cruise. But the drama hadn’t quite finished yet…A rest day, what is one of those? 😀 

A&E…

Sarah was suffering beyond even what she can take(that doesn’t happen often) and on Monday morning we had to go to A&E as her chest was now closing up really bad and she could hardly breathe. As it was a Bank Holiday it was quite busy, but we finally got in to see the doctor. He said she had a Respiratory Tract Infection which has now given her a secondary lung thingy(i can’t remember the exact diagnosis,lol). After picking up the antibiotics we made our way home.

Sarah’s new job…

I’m not sure if i’ve mentioned it yet, but just before we started this cruise, Sarah left her job at RNIB(Royal National Institute Of Blind People), where she’d worked for over 10 years, and was going to start her new job at WCRF(World Cancer Research Fund) tomorrow!! Yeah i know it seems mad, but don’t forget we’er dealing with my “Warrior Wife”!!  💪🏼 

Finally…

I can’t explain the emotions i’ve been through typing up this day to day account of our cruise. I’ve been smiling, laughing, crying and shocked to find some great photos that will serve as loving memories for us.

Thank You, Thank You & Thank You…

It’s been such a blessing to know you’ve joined us on our trip, but beyond that, encouraging us with your kind and loving comments along the way. So we both thank God for you, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Hopefully we’ll see you on our other tours too??!!

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☀️ #26 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Alicante”🇪🇸

Click Alicante logo to begin the Transatlantic cruise

After about a week of sleepless nights, to say Sarah & i were tired is an understatement. Also Sarahs cough is a lot worse and her lungs feel like a boa constrictor has coiled around them. Her erratic blood sugars are making her sick too…but apart from that, we are excited to find out what our last shore excursion has in stall for us! 😀 

The coach was waiting for us from the bottom of the gangway(phew…at least we won’t get lost around the dock, lol) and we set off towards the castle. As we drove down narrow windy streets lined with vivid green palm trees, with cafes splashed with orange i said to Sarah “Wow, it’s like were driving through one of your fave tracks from Gran Turismo 4 on the Playstation 2!!” “Ok” she said ”Not sure i’d have thought of that, but now you’ve mentioned it, that is exactly what it looks like”. 🙂

 Santa Barbara Castle…

As we stepped off the air conditioned coach onto the sandy/dusty car park, the first thing to hit me was the intense heat. The Caribbean was very hot but there was always a lovely cool breeze, but this heat seemed focused on burning me to a crisp! 🙂 

I’m sure it was just a short walk to the castle and to my surprise i was already halfway down my bottle of water, so when we arrived to find a big climb to the top of the castle which included slanty slopes and invisible rough steps etc, it was time to start the thought process “I think we’ve done something stupid again, and taken on an excursion we should’ve never taken on”. But as usual my thoughts were quickly defeated as my Warrior Wife took my hand and relentlesly attacked the slopes! Sarah always leaves me speechless, as i know she is feeling much worse than me, yet she battles on and fights when most others would give up. This is one reason why i’m so proud of her and love her more than anything! ♥️

The view…

Once we reached to top and found the nearest wall, the view was fantastic and well worth risking our  lives, lol 🙂  

Alicante 1

A view looking out from the top of the castle down onto the coastline of Alicante

A view looking out from the top of the castle down onto the coastline of Alicante

A view looking out from the top of the castle down onto the coastline of Alicante

While stood admiring the view, i could hear a noisy flag flapping above my head. I thought “I havn’t tried taking a proper flag photo in motion before”. It took about 5 minutes to try and get my camera to focus, but i finally got my first! 🙂  

Spanish flag blowing in the wind

The tour guide was great, telling us all about the gruesome, bloody history of the castle(history never changes) told us we had an hour of free time to have a look around the castle and we’d all meet up at the bottom.

Yay, we had more time to look around! 🙂  

A view overlooking parts of te path quite a long way down from the top of the castle

Sarah sitting at the top of the castle

Another view looking down from the top of the castle

Alicante 10

Alicante 7

It really was stunning up here, and i was excited to find Sarah getting her phone ready for one of her breathtaking Panoramas! 🙂   

Sarah looking at her phone preparing for a panorama at the top of the castle

Wow Sarah has treated us with 2 breathtaking Panoramas again!!! 😉   

Alicante Panorama 2

Alicante Panorama 1

After Sarah “Top Trumped” me again with her amazing photos, we decided to begin our adventure down to the meeting place. We knew it was going to be much harder on the way down but we were going to enjoy it anyway! 

Alicante 9

As we still had about 30 minutes, we tried to look at everything we hadn’t seen on the way up. 

Sarah and the gift shop

When turning around, i thought Sarah had found a gift shop and was carrying a huge present for someone, lol. But thankfully it’s one of the statue things we found on the way.

Sarah and the castle 3

We then found a cool little alley way.  

Sarah stood directly behind a warriour throwing a spear pretending to throw it too

This has to be one of my favorite photos!! I’m glad to see Sarah(The Greatest Warrior” parting some of her knowledge and instruction to an inferior ranked warrior on how to correctly throw a spear! 🙂  

 After many more laughs, we did eventually make it back to the meeting place, and then on to the coach, Ooooohh, air conditioning! 🙂 

 The Town Hall Square & Cathedral of Alicante…

 Walking through the town was hard work as it was very busy, but Sarah did find a local craft store that were selling handmade daisy broaches out of wicker etc. So while she was looking, i thought i’d quickly snap a couple of photos.

Alicante Market Square 1

Alicante Market Square 2 Sepia

The Cathedral of Alicante… 

Alicante church 1

Alicante church 2

 On leaving the Cathedral, the tour guide said we have 30 minutes free time, then could you please find your way back to the coach, i’ll be in the bar down this side alley getting a cold drink if anyone wants to join me? Sarah said “Come on quickly, we need to get to him before he gets swallowed by the crowds, as we don’t know our way back to the coach” “Okay, let’s go” i said as we zigzagged our way towards him. We caught up with him and he told us the easiest way back to the coach.

But before we headed back, Sarah had a chance to try the only Spanish phrase she could remember from her childhood holidays with her Dad.

“It worked!!! I must have said it right” Sarah said as she brought 2 bottles of Lager to the small corner table in the little bar we’d stumbled upon. 🙂

The Explanada, one of the most beautiful waterfront promenades in Spain…

 On leaving the bar, Sarah saw this stunning pavement lined with palm trees. It reminded us of the incredible pavement in Horta, Azores.   

Sarah on the Alicante palm tree art path

Me and the pal tree art path

Shortly before leaving the coach back at the dock, we had one final laugh when the tour guide told us he was from California, works in Alicante and is married to his Wife from Doncaster, South Yorkshire. “Wow” I said “That amazing, the guide yesterday was from Derby(my hometown) and Today the guide stays in Doncaster(Sarah’s hometown) a few months of the year, and when he finally said”I’ll be outside the French Gate in Doncaster in November, we all burst out laughing. 🙂 

Back on the ship…

We had just enough time to capture the coastline of Alicante from the ship before Thomson Dream sailed away to Palma, Mallorca for us to get the plane home.

Alicante Dock 1

Sarah on the ship at Alicante dock

After getting changed for the evening meal, we knew it would be the last time we’d see our Orion Restaurant friends. We met them at our usual time and table and had a lovely evening talking about all the adventures of the day. 

Who knows? We may bump into them again on a future cruise, which would be great! 🙂   

Our Friends at Orion Restaurant

Leaving the Orion Restaurant, we headed to the delo bar to enjoy our last cocktail with great music. 

Alan Davidson playing piano and singing in Delo bar

After a really long day, we arrived back at our cabin to find a new fantastic towel creature on our table. Sarah quickly moved it into an arty position ready for a humorous photo! 🙂  

Lobster Towel

Just one more day to go before we head home, and Sarah and i spent the sleepless night talking about the highs and lows of our 1st cruise, and only my second time abroad! 

Thanks once again for joining us, it’s a blessing to share with you. 😀 

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☀️ #25 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Gibraltar”🇬🇮

Click Gibraltar Logo to begin the Transatlantic cruise

Sarah on top of Gibraltar rock waving her arms in the air and welcome to Gibraltar

⇧ Sarah welcomes you to Gibraltar! ⇧

After 2 days at sea, and finding out(by our new friends who met us for evening meals at Orion Restaurant)  that on the excursion to the “Rock of Gibraltar” requires that we get a cable car to the top on the cliff! Wow…i love cable cars! It reminded me of the cable cars Sarah & i travelled on at “The Heights of Abraham” day trip.a couple of years ago! 🙂 

So leaving the ship i was extra excited to travel on cable cars in Gibraltar! We found the coach that would take us to the beginning of the rock and got on-board. 

The excursion guides so far have been amazing, and really proud of their country! So happy to share everything and anything about the local history and culture, always creating laughter and a friendly relaxed atmosphere. So when this guide stepped on-board complaining  and quite angry we were quite taken aback! After complaint about everything she showed us, we pulled up at the bottom of the rock and waited for the cable cars.

Just a quick side note…As i’m registered blind(i know most of you will know this already) and don’t see people, just hear them. Whenever i’m out sat in a cafe, restaurant, at church or just around town, i often like to play one of my fave games using my ATS(accent targeting system). I love accents, and i like to try and locate their original area?! 🙂 Also its my only way of knowing who’s around me, and i’ve now trained myself so i can listen to 3 conversations at once! lol This can be good and bad depending. 🙂 Anyway enough rambling! 

When i got near the guide i asked her where she was from originally? “Derby” she said! “No way, a Derby bird, i’m from Derby too. It’s crazy that we’d meet here in Gibraltar”. It makes sense now. lol. It’s sometimes hard to pin down a accent that’s the same as your own, but i’m getting better.

After fantastic views from the cable cars, we finally reached the top of The Rock of Gibraltar! 🙂  

Looking down over the bay of Gibraltar with the Thomson Dream in the distance

Looking down over the bay of Gibraltar with the Thomson Dream in the distance

My Lovely Wife Sarah

After taking shots of my beautiful wife Sarah(which i could do all day) the guide warned us about the monkeys  that would steal anything and everything that wasn’t in your bag or not in the right place. By this i mean sunglasses on your head instead of over your eyes. The guide told us of one woman who had put her brand new £200 Rayban sunglasses on her head to take a photo, had them quickly snatched by a monkey and were never seen again! 😦

Me and Sarah stood on top of the rock of Gibraltar in the hot sunshine with the sea behind us

A kind person asked if Sarah & i would like a photo together? I said that would be lovely, thank you. But i think my face is wondering if the man was going to run off with my Big Nikon! lol. 🙂  

Sarah and the Rock of Gibraltar

The Rock of Gibraltar

The guide said we had about an hour free time before we all have to meet back together, so Sarah got her iPhone out ready to take one of her amazing Panoramas! 

Photo of Sarah taking a Panorama of Gibraltar rock

Not 1…but 2 of Sarah’s Breathtaking Panoramas!!! 🙂 

A panorama of Gibraltar rock

Sarah's second panorama of Gibraltar rock

It had been a fantastic day already and the views were simply stunning from up here. We now had to find one  of those monkeys to try and get a photo before we go.  

Sarah taking a video of one of the monkeys at the top of Gibraltar

⇧ Sarah videoing one of the monkeys ⇧  

Photo of a monkey sat on a railing fence looking out ove the bay of Gibraltar

After nipping into the gift shop to get a couple of presents we started heading back towards the cable cars.

We were just near the steps(walking 2 by 2 when we heard a loud “Oi!!” by the woman behind us, followed by a quiet couple of seconds, then lots of laughter??! We stopped and turned round to find out one of the monkeys had touched/stroked the ladies leg near her bum, and she thought it was the man behind her. But after the mix up they all started laughing! 🙂

Travelling back to the ship after more complaining by the excursion guide (mainly about her many ex husbands) we had time to take a few photos from the deck before Thomson Dream sailed overnight to Alicante…our last port before we head to Palma, Majorca for our flight home 😦

Gibraltar 1

Gibraltar Sepia

Sarah & i had a fantastic time in Gibraltar and it was great to have a guide from my home town to share her great accent with us.

Creating these blog posts documenting each day of our trip has been such a blessing for Sarah & i, especially knowing that you’ve been right here with us along the way! 🙂  They leave us with such lovely memories every time we read back through them. 😀 

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☀️ #24 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “The Model Ship”🌊

Sea logo

 After a fantastic 2 days in the Azores we found this new folded towel creature on our table. “How do they do that” i said just staring and touching it?  

Swan

“Yeah i know” said Sarah “it’s amazing how they get the towels to do that and stay in position”. 

Just then i had a brain wave…to show our appreciation for the great work our cabin steward has shown us, i will show our gratitude with a model of my own!!! 😀 

I thought rather than using a towel i will go larger and use the whole bed, quilt, pillows and towels! As the towels are blue…they can be the sea. The quilt can be the Thomson Dream and the pillows can be the big pointy thingy on top!  

Having never attempted anything like this before, i knew it would be the thought that counts. I said to Sarah “You’re going to have to wait outside until i’ve finished, then you can open the door and see it as the cabin steward will see it”. 

Here Goes…..are you ready??? 

My Ship

 After Sarah stopped laughing 🤣 , she said “It’s massive! I didn’t know you were going to use the whole king size bed?!” I said “Well ships are big, and i didn’t want him to miss it”. She was actually impressed with my first ever attempt. lol. 💪🏼  

Now everything is set, it’s time to head out and relax with a nice latte at the Coffee Port. We also ventured out on deck being ensconced by blue sea.

At Sea after Azores

We did meet up with the cabin steward that night and Sarah asked him “Did you like the big ship Steve had made for you?” He said he didn’t see anything and just thought the bed was left in a mess!! 😔 

Well at least WE all know what happened, and i hope my model ship will put a smile on your face instead!!  😀  

Just 2 days at sea now until we reach Gibraltar!!   

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☀️ #23 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Sao Miguel, Azores”🐬

Såo Miguel logo

 After more wild blood sugar readings, no sleep and seriously nasty coughs, i was really looking forward to our excursion today. If you remember on Day 7 Antigua we had 1 horse power each, but now i was hoping for lots more horse power in our 4×4! 🙂  

4×4 Tour of the Western Edge, Azores(Excursion details)

If you want to get up close to São Miguel’s dramatic landscapes, a 4×4 is the way to go. Once we’re all strapped in, we’ll head off to the west side of the island. Our first stop is Vista do Rei. Translated, it means ‘King’s View’ – it was named after King D Carlos, who visited back in 1901 – and the vista from here is definitely fit for a monarch. It pans across Sete Cidades, a massive volcanic crater that’s glazed in greenery and, at the right time of year, baby-blue hydrangeas. Covering its base is a huge lake, split in two by the small bridge that crosses it, plus a picturesque waterside village. We’ll drive along the Pequena ridge to Sete Cidades village, stopping at Lomba do Vasco viewpoint along the way for a few snaps. We’ll have some free time to explore the village, before continuing our drive past Blue and Empadadas lakes. We’ll have one last photo op – at Pico do Ferro viewpoint – before making our way back to the ship.

With the excursion details in mind(see above), we navigated down the gangway and onto the dock. We quickly realised that the day wasn’t going to be as hot as every other day on the cruise…as we were getting wet, and colder by the second! lol 🙂   

Our 4×4 driver and tour guide met us off the boat(which was fantastic) and helped us into our Land Rover. Back when i was a panel beater my friend used to race custom Land Rovers with monster V8’s, and as usual i was letting my imagination get ahead of me, especially when the driver cranked up the engine and it was the disappointing sound of a diesel tractor! 😦 Since i’ve been blind and i use my ears to see cars, the engine noises are all i focus on! Sarah is quick to remind me as we walk into town back in Epsom that she really doesn’t want me to comment on every engine that drives by! lol, but she did acknowledge my disappointment with a gentle stroke on my arm. 🙂  

Sarah leaning and the 4x4

⇧ Sarah and the 4×4 ⇧

Our first stop was King’s View which was really high upon the island, as we stopped and the driver asked us to wait in the car as it was chucking it down with rain, and the fog/mist was like a blankett covering all of the beautiful landscapes he had brought us to see, he left to talk the the other driver in the Toyota Land cruiser behind. He came back, apologised and said “We will try and head as low as we can to see if we can go under the fog/mist and see if it’s any clearer down there. But we have a few minutes here so if you want to get out in the rain, you can”. 

A landscape covered in rain, fog and mist

⇧ King’s View ⇧

 On a clear day there is a stunning volcanic crater with 2 lakes, 1 is blue and 1 is green! There were alot of disappointed sighs etc and some people were complaining…i just thought welcome to my world, and you can still see more than me even with the fog. lol 🙂 I almost felt equal for the first time on an excursion. 🙂 

We then headed off on a drive to the lowest point of the island which was beautiful and when we got to walk around by the river and volcanic hills it was like stepping onto the film set of Jurassic park.

The fog did lift a little and the rain slowed down enough for us to enjoy 15 minutes in this fantastic place. 

A black and white photo of a lake in Sao Miguel

A path running from right to left through grass fields alined with trees

Me looking Terrified in front of the river with volcanic rocks behind

When i found this photo which Sarah had taken, we both started laughing and thought this was probably the best photo of me ever! 🙂  Don’t ask me what i was up to, i can only imagine that i heard a T-Rex or a volcano erupt!! 🙂 

Please let me know in the comments below if you have any great captions to add to this photo??!! I look forward to hearing what you come up with! 🙂 

A 4x4 parked in front of a huge volcano and river

⇧ This place really does remind me of Jurassic Park ⇧   

View of Sao Miguel river from a grass bank with volcanic rocks behind

Looking through the trees atSao Miguel

We all climbed aboard our 4×4 and headed of to a small village to stop and have another rest and look around. On the way Sarah saw a huge black Bull chasing a local who was running for his life right close to the Land Rover…Crazy! Lol. We stopped at a small cafe where the driver(to Sarah’s delight) started talking about the locally made Portuguese custard tarts. I said “No way, they’re Sarah’s favourites, and we have never had a locally made one before! It will be like when i had a slice of Pizza in Pisa!” 🙂 As usual… no body laughed so i asked “Do they sell them in this Cafe?”If they do could you get 3 and have one yourself!” He said “yeah sure” and we sat and enjoyed this special food moment! 🙂

Most of the people stayed in the cafe as it was raining outside, but Sarah & i were already soaked so didn’t mind a little more rain to try and see as many things as possible in this tiny village.

Sarah in Sao Miguel

Sao Miguel Village

Sao Miguel church through the trees

We were now coming to the end of our fantastic 4×4 drive, but not before he drove us off road and up some really steep rocky terrain, Yay!! 🙂 We were rocking side to side and bouncing up and down, i said “Yeah this is more like it!”. We then stopped and the driver who had his window down as all the windows were steaming up from our drenched clothes…picked up  a small piece of  Sphagnum moss from the towering hillside. As usual i was the only one who didn’t know what it is(i blame going to the worst school in Derbyshire) He then squose it and we were all amazed by how much water was running out of something so small, fantastic! 🙂  

Just one more stop and it was to see a tunnel drilled through the mountain that goes out to the sea so that the rain water does not flood the volcanic crater when there is, from time to time heavy rainfall on the island.

The tunnel is around 80 years old and almost 2 kilometers long and it´s actually large enough to walk through and that is also safe enough as long as you don´t go during heavy rainfall. As you know it was raining but that’s not enough to stop Super Sarah having a look! 🙂  

Sarah and the tunnel

Back on the ship…

Having got changed out of our wet clothes, we decided to try and get a bite to eat at the buffet restaurant on deck 9. We sat down with an assortment of food and enjoyed talking about what we’d just experienced. We were about half way through when Alan Davidson(the piano entertainer) came and sat down with us. He had seen us the day before in Horta taking photos and had admired my big Nikon DSLR. Sarah said “Yeah it’s a nice camera and Steve gets some lovely photos even though he’s blind”. “Wow” said Alan “I didn’t realise”. I never know if that’s a compliment or not? 🙂 He continued “Back home in Scotland i visit a blind friend and help him with life skills etc, and telling him(using a clock face) where his food is on his plate”. I said “Fantastic, Sarah has just done that with me which is why i’m eating more confidently(and a lot less messy) as normal”. 

Sarah mentioned that she hadn’t got chance to see much of the town nearest to the dock and we still have a couple of hours left before we sail away. Alan kindly replied “I’ll take you guys, there is a bus on the dock that goes into town, and i can guide you and make sure you get back safely too”. “Fantastic, let’s go” Sarah and i replied. 🙂 

Sao Miguel Church

We found the market place overlooked by this Cathedral where Me, Sarah & Alan stopped to find a table out of the rain to have coffee’s and a chat. Alan was also a keen photographer and he found a local who took a few photos of the 3 of us, but sadly i havn’t managed to get the photos of Alan yet, maybe one day i’ll get to see them and share them with you. 🙂 

Back on board again Thomson Dream sailed away as Sarah and i listened to Alan with our favourite cocktails. Sarahs is a special sugar free Mojito and mine is a Bailey’s Banana Colada! 😀 

Alan Pianoman

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☀️ #22 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Horta, Azores”🐬


Please click logo to begin the tour

welcome to Horta!!! 😀  

Sarah is sat on a wall on the right with her arms stretched out while the cruise ship is facing us on the left

⇧ Sarah welcoming you all to Horta! ⇧

Wow…what an adventurous Atlantic crossing! Both Sarah and i didn’t expect that roller coaster journey. But it was great to be off the ship and once we mastered walking on land that doesn’t move constantly, we headed out to see what we could find. 🙂 

We couldn’t book an excursion in Horta as they were all sold out, but we were first taken aback with the stunning bay, and the beautiful sea front with it’s incredibly ornate pavement.

Horta Marina 2

A sailing boat in the lower lft of the bay while the hills in the background dominate the reast of the image

White buildings line the left of the pavement and road filling the whole image

Horta designed pavements

Sarah leaning on a palm tree on the right with the Horta marina and bay filling the rest of the image

After following the pavement around the sea front we came to what we thought was the end of the bay…but as we were going to turn back Sarah saw a steep alleyway  between some buildings which really didn’t look inviting, but she was determined not to miss anything while we were here. And after what she’s just been through the last 5 days i wasn’t going to say no! 🙂 

 The narrow path became really steep but we finally reached the top. There were high buildings either side of s and i could hear what i thought were Portuguese gangsters. I said “Do you think we should turn back and head back?” Sarah said “No we’ve made it this far and it’s downhill from here, i think i can see the end of the path and it looks like it opens out again” “Ok” i said nervously and we pushed on.

As usual Sarah was dead right! The path ended and we were treated with a stunning view of the bay on the other side of the island! 🙂 

We both were silenced and stood in awe as we tried to take in more of God’s beautiful creation. No matter how bad the last few days were Sarah said “Wow, this was worth the wait!” God never fails to show up and when he does we are always left speechless. 🙂  

Warning…one of Sarah’s breathtaking panoramas…

Panoramic view of Horta bay

Sarah in Awe at Horta bay

Me stood on the left with volcanic rock beach all around and a view of the bay

Volcanic rock at Horta bay

Horta hillside with lots of scattered houses

the houses on Horta hill with a massive tree towering over all of them

Beautiful mossy green gill with a house/centre inbedded within

 We were stood for around 10 minutes when 2 people approached us from our left, the woman said “We’ve been all around here and there is nothing worth seeing here! So were going over the other side to see if we can find anything worth seeing over there!” They walked on past us before we could even say hello. I was stunned, then said to Sarah “I can’t see that much but i still know how beautiful this place is!! They must be in a different dimention to us”. Sarah chuckled and quickly ran over to check out all of the amazing black sand! 🙂

We stayed here for about 20 minutes and went over to our left to explore the green hills! 

Sarah running and enjoying freedom on the volcanic beach all on her own!

Sarah walking around Horta hill

Sarah relaxing on Horta hill

Getting towards the top of the first hill, we stopped to take in the bay from a different viewing point! 🙂 

Sarah says hi

Sarah says a big hello to all of you who are still with us on our adventure!! 🙂

Horta Sepia

On the other side of the green hills another bay opened out for us…Wow this place is beautiful and just keeps giving! 🙂 

We thought if we stayed with the sea on our right we would eventually find our way back to the ship…we did but before we headed back on board we stopped to look in the local shops, and stop for a well deserved drink.

Also on the way back we found these interesting photos and paintings along the sea front, by this time it was getting late in the afternoon so we didn’t have much time left in this lovely place.

Sarah at Horta marina

Sarah had just enough time for one more pose! lol 🙂 

Sarah and the ship

We’ve had a lovely day exploring Horta and we hope you’ve enjoyed it too? 

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Sea logo

Sarah & i were feeling really run down, tired and a little concerned about what the rest of our dream holiday had in store for us. But now we had a few days at sea, so we decided to get out there and enjoy the time we had left. 🙂 

Sarah looking out to sea

⇧ Sarah relaxing and reflecting ⇧ 

During our time at sea, Sarah & i loved standing and looking out over the vast ocean. It seemed to put perspective on how majestic and awesome our God is. Also how small we were in comparison and yet he loves each one of us…amazing! 🙂 

Shopping… 

Handbags on ship

There’s nothing like being surrounded by handbags to put a smile on Sarah’s face! 🙂 

Of all the places…i never thought i’d be in a handbag store, on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. But we have just spent the night in a hospital in the middle of the Atlantic ocean! 😀  Sarah seems to find these shops wherever we go… and if it helps her relax, i’ll be right there with her! 

Another fave spot…

Sarah on deck

Each day we’d find our way up to this spot and just look out over the pool deck and take in the full panoramic view of blue. There was always a live band playing, giving a great atmosphere and a hot-plate thingy where i could get a fresh burger…Mmmm burgers! 🍔🍔 

Hair salon…

Hair salon

After Sarahs last trip to the hair salon she was really pleased with the way the stylist had cut and styled her hair around her eye…. but the hospital adventure had kind of ruined it. So i thought she might like to relax and get it done again. Whilst waiting in the waiting room i took this shot through the window ….That’s the best view i’ve ever seen from a hair salon! 😀 

The evening restaurants…

So far i havn’t said much about our evening meals. For the first few days we really struggled with the buffet restaurants, as the food was placed in big trays under a glass cover with really long fork/tongs to pick up the food. Sarah had no idea what she was picking up as it was just too far away for her to focus and the waiters didn’t understand we couldn’t see properly, which caused a few problems!

At home we try to stay away from self service/buffet style places …not because we are too snooty, lol …but because we simply can’t find anything e.g plates, food, cutlery, where to pay, which causes too much stress and makes us wish we hadn’t gone out at all! 

After a few days we decided to try the “Orion Restaurant” which was waiter service. On entrance the waiter asked if we’d like to share a table or sit by yourselves. Sarah said “Sharing is fine with us” (I thought is it really… 😦 The waiter then escorted us to an empty 8 seater table. After he passed us our menus (which we had no chance of reading) our table soon filled up with people. After friendly hello’s Sarah said to the lady next to her “I don’t want to be a nuisance…but we are both registered blind and so can’t read the menus. Would you be able to read it to us?” After the confused look on all of their faces (my imagination from the body language) the lady said “Of course, but i’d never have guessed that either of you had sight problems”. (My thought was “You need to be on this side of my eyes to understand the problem :(“) After we’d heard the menu, Sarah whispered “This works perfectly for us…we get the menu read out, and we get to meet lots of different lovely people” 🙂 

Shortly after…we heard the people sitting opposite us say “Did you hear the “Code Alpha” last night?” The others replied “Yes we did, it woke us up…it was after 1am!!” “Yeah i know and there was no need to call it around the whole ship”.

I said “Sorry…that was us.”   “It was you two! what happened?” Sarah showed her bruised and bandaged wrists (from where the drips had been attached) and explained everything that happened. We heard this same complaint for the next few evenings…. and even some different, elaborate explanations of what had happened (even one story where Sarah was said to have died and been taken off the boat by helicopter in a silver bullet coffin????.)  

We also heard that quite a few people had complained to reception about the 1am code alpha (because they thought it was a call to abandon ship) and how they felt they shouldn’t have been disturbed in the middle of the night!!

The Cough…

If you can remember…on Day 8 there were a couple of people in the hospital waiting room with deep growly coughs. Well today…Sarah’s got it too !! 😦 This deep booming growly cough (reminds me of the Rockford Fosgate subs in the boot of my old custom Nova) is giving Sarah lots of  chest pain, a sore throat and a pounding head. We’ve noticed the unique sound of this cough around the ship as we’ve been exploring! ….As if Sarah didn’t have enough on her plate with no sleep, uncontrollable blood sugar, one eye closed and exhaustion…she now has this nasty cough 😦

Keep smiling… 😀 

I have no idea how she does it. But no matter what’s going on…Sarah has  a lovely beaming/contagious smile on her face that blesses all who see her 😀 

Sarah reflection

 The Azores…

After about 4 (or is it 5?) sleepless nights (i’ve lost count) we were looking forwards to arriving at the Azores. Sarah was especially looking forwards to getting off the ship and onto solid ground and having the freedom to explore another fantastic island! You just can’t keep this warrior princess down! 😀   

Yippee land ahoy!!!

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Awww i told myself not to cry this time whilst reading this…I failed, my face is soaking! 

Sea logo

After enjoying a lovely coffee, we decided to explore the ship to try and familiurise ourselves a little more, and find things to do. Bingo, getting drunk and burned on sun loungers were not something Sarah & i found entertaining. 

The hair salon…

We found a hair salon and booked Sarah to get her hair done, and see if they had some ideas to cover her closed eye. I thought “Being pampered and relaxed is just what Sarah needs after a traumatic day yesterday! 🙂 I managed to find my way back to the coffee port on my own to wait for Sarah, which should be at least an hour depending what she chooses to have done. It sounds feeble, but finding the coffee port, and the door handle, and even a spare seat without anyone sitting on it, is a massive achievement for me! 🙂 

Sarah returned looking beautiful, but i noticed she was having another hypo, standing up i said “Quick, lets try and get back to the cabin as we know that Lucozade or hypo stop works for you”. “Ok” Sarah said whilst struggling to stay on her feet. We were only 1 deck above our cabin, but after only a short walk Sarah really started to drop. I thought “There is no way i’m trying to navigate the stairs, and i can’t see to use the lifts”. Luckily we were at the entrance to a bar/lounge. We were greeted by a nice Filipino waitress. I said “My wife needs the sweetest drink you have as she’s diabetic and having a hypo”. She was confused, but showed us to some seats(as Sarah’s legs were really starting to give way) and disappeared. I prayed that she understood and would bring something before Sarah lost consciousness. 

The waitress returned (having told the bar man our situation) with a bright coloured drink. She said it was the sweetest cocktail they did with a lot of syrup in. I thought “a little unorthodox, but we have no choice, Sarah needs sugar now”. 

Having been a gamer my whole life and played some nerve racking, suspense filled and tense computer games over the years, nothing compares to this real life game of trying to encourage Sarah to drink something she doesn’t want, to absorb sugar into her body before passing out! 

Within the next half hour, Sarah was back with us again (phew), but feeling sick from the hypo, We needed to get back to the cabin as we didn’t know if her blood would start to shoot up again, as we didn’t have any idea what was in the drink, which is why we try to always use the lucozade etc. as we know the effects. Sarah also now had the bone chill that only comes from a hypo.

Back in the cabin…

Yay, we found the cabin! 🙂 I’m starting to remember how many doors to count from both sides depending which set of stairs we go down. Once Sarah had checked her blood sugar again and realised it was starting to rocket, it was back in the fridge for the crossbow bolts…i mean syringes. Even with our video magnifier it was really hard to make out the measurements on the needle, but after another big bruised, and big holed injection, it was time for Sarah’s hot bath to try and get rid of that freezing cold bone chill!

A while later Sarah said “Diabetes has already ruined one evening, night and most of today. I’m not going to let it ruin the rest of my holiday. Lets get dressed up and search for some nice live music” “Fantastic idea, we both need cheering up”.

Sunset…

Instead of walking down endless boring corridors, we walked outside to stroll along the deck down to the rear of the ship and look out over the huge ocean. This evening we were gifted with a beautiful sunset.

Beautiful burnt orange sunset.

Ocean sunset 2,

As we were out on deck 9, we walked all the way to the rear (non technical name) and entered the ‘Lido restaurant’. We were both a little hungry and as this is the buffet place, it’s fantastic for Sarah as she can have vegetables or salad etc without having any of the carbs, or sugar rich sauces which raise her blood sugar. 🙂

We became a little disheartened after hearing a couple of the live bands playing some popular rubbish on deck 8, but we walked on past the reception and hair salon and walked into a dark elegant room. Sarah said “Oh great…it’s the casino :(”. I said “It looks like the Ultralux from Fallout New Vegas (PS3 game)” Sarah replied “It feels like fallout to me, a shiny, depraved wasteland – just what I’ve come to expect of the entertainment on this boat 😦 lol”. But then a classical piano started playing, just audible over the noise of the casino. “Where’s that lovely piano coming from?” I said knowing that Sarah would love it. “Through there, but i’m not sure what it is as it’s too dark” “Let’s go find out anyway”. i said as i took her arm. 

The Delo piano lounge and cocktail bar…

A view of the Delo bar with quite a few people sat on leather chairs and sofas with a pianist in the background sat at a grand piano

We stood taking in the gentle atmosphere and fantastic piano playing and both said together “This is more like it 🙂 ” We found Sarah a seat at the bar right next to the piano, Sarah loves watching pianists as they play with professional ease and elegance. It brings back lots of her childhood memories of the classical piano lessons she enjoyed! 🙂 

Pianist Keith sat playing at the piano

⇧ Keith the pianist ⇧ 

After about an hour, we were so happy that we’d found another fave place, especially after the last 24 hours, we headed back to the cabin. Sarah did another blood test “Steve, my blood’s still going up!” I said “That’s impossible, you’ve not had any sugar or carbs, and you’ve already had insulin before we left” “I know, and now i’ve got to take some more to try and bring it down” “Ok, take a little more and we’ll keep an eye on it”. 

 Sarah sat on the sofa with the magnifier reading the excursion options for the Azores. I opened Spotify on my iPhone and started playing my “✞ Acoustic Worship” playlist knowing it’s Sarah’s fave. I thought “Time for us to relax and reflect for a while on a lovely end to a hectic day”. 

CODE ALPHA…

Sarah’s next words were “I think my blood’s dropping” “Oh no, I thought, your voice is slurry again, your blood can’t be that low already. Can you manage a test?” Sarah’s test confirmed a huge drop in a short time. I jumped into survival mode and grabbed the lucozade and hypo stop. Sarah was fading fast “No, no ,no, not the big one” i said wondering if this would result in a diabetic coma. I didn’t have to wait long before Sarah lost consciousness!!

I now switched from survival mode, to what will Sarah need if she goes to hospital mode. 

Sarah was sat upright on the sofa, and as i balanced to hold her head upright (there were no pillows in reach) i grabbed the cabin phone and dialled 999! A man answered and asked “How can we help?” I said “My wife is diabetic and she’s having a hypoglycaemic episode and is unconscious but still breathing” He said “She’s unconscious now? What’s your cabin number i’m on my way!”

He arrived in about 60 seconds. I told him what had happened as he was frantically inserting needles etc. He then called the bridge to tell the captain and his team, and a few seconds later i heard “CODE ALPHA, CODE ALPHA cabin 7062”. I thought “That’s blasting out of the tannoy system that goes around the whole ship, and within minutes our cabin was full of people, and a wheelchair. After a few minutes Sarah slowly started to respond, but only groans. The female doctor was now in the room and after checking everything, she said they’d take Sarah to the hospital to try and stabilise her.

The hospital…

After grabbing Sarah’s bag and a few things i thought might help, i was kindly guided down behind Sarah to the hospital waiting room. Sarah was in a private room next door.

A woman sat me down and read through a couple of papers that made sure we had health insurance etc, she then said to my surprise “You really seem to love and care for Sarah” I said “I really don’t deserve her, she is amazing. I lay down my life for her…and give her my all. I’m so blessed to share my life with my best friend, she’s beautiful inside and out. Isn’t that what love is?” It seemed like she’d never heard a response like that, and just said “Wow, that’s lovely” and went quiet for what seemed like minutes! 

I was then able to see my lovely wife. Sarah was still not conscious yet but was in what seemed like a peaceful sleep. I sat down and the doctors and nurses were coming in and out, checking drips, machines and Sarahs breathing etc. 

Sarah in the hospital bed with a doctor dressed in white helping her

Sarah then moved and slowly started to come round, she said “Oh no” her usual response after realising where she is, i said “It’s ok my love, we are just making some nice new friends, just relax and enjoy being pampered”. After another hour of checks from nurses and the doctor, suddenly the nurse panicked and said something to the doctor. All 3 of them surrounded Sarah’s bed frantically adjusting and checking, The doctor kept shaking Sarah and shouting her name but got no response. I thought “It can’t be another hypo as she’s being monitored closely, so what is this?” Soon after i was told by the concerned doctor to wait in the waiting room next door. 

The waiting room…

Ship hospital waiting room

Now i was worried…. i sat here alone in a hospital that’s swaying side to side in the middle of the atlantic ocean. My thoughts started to get the better of me..

“What if this is it, and i don’t get to speak to Sarah again”

“What if i never hear her amazing laugh, or feel the warmth of her hug again”

“What if i’m now on my own struggling to face the rest of life (never mind the holiday) without my lovely wife”

ENOUGH!! i thought and desperately gave it to God in prayer.

“Oh Lord please help, if this is Sarah’s passing to paradise, then i want to say i’m not happy about it, and i’d like to spend more time with her on earth BUT thank you so much for blessing me with such a priceless gift, i can’t express how much i love her and i’ve tried to be the husband you commanded me to be. Sarah has shown me such love, happiness, forgiveness, acceptance and a life i simply didn’t know was possible BUT if it’s not her time, please comfort her and bring her back to me, Amen”.

A short while later the nurse said i could come back and sit with Sarah again. Sarah was awake and fighting with the oxygen mask. She said “Where’ve you been? I told them that my diabetes was unstable which is why i have the pump but they didn’t believe me, they never do, and now they’ve given me a second hypo after pumping me full of insulin again”. I said while kissing her forehead “Oh my lovely, i’m glad to have you back”. 🙂 

We’d been in the hospital for about 2 hours, it was just coming to 3am. Sarah kept asking if i was alright and did i need anything. “I bet you’re hungry and need a coffee” “It’s ok, i’m enjoying being here with you, please get some sleep as you’ve had a rough couple of days, i’ll be right here”. 

It was 6:30am when Sarah was allowed to leave. She was given more supplies to last for the rest of the holiday. Then the doctor explained about how fast acting insulin is absorbed into the body with the syringes, and how it differs and works a lot slower than the insulin pump. She said “Once you’ve had the injection, the insulin will not start to work for 1½ hours and it will be completely out of your system in 3 hours. And as you don’t have the pump giving you little bits all of the time, your blood sugar will rise on it’s own, so you need to give bigger (and overlapping) doses to compensate.

Sarah had never been instructed on any of this over the years because everything had ben controlled by the pump and i certainly didn’t know anything about insulin absorption, as with the pump it pretty much works straight away. We also wondered why she hadn’t explained this to us yesterday, which would’ve helped.

We now headed back to the cabin to try and set up another plan of action, we knew this was going to be a difficult task, never mind adding things like food etc. lol 🙂  

Wow, what a night! That’s 2 nights without sleep already, and it’s time to set up the alarms for every 2 hours on my phone. Sleep is not going to come easy from now on…is the coffee port open yet? Might as well have a nice coffee if i’m awake! 🙂

Only 3 more days at sea (i’ll merge into one post) until we reach Horta, Azores, where we can hopefully do some more excursions! 🙂 

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☀️ #19 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Goodbye Caribbean…hello massive ocean…”🌊

Sea logo

Goodbye Caribbean…hello massive ocean…

After another amazing day in the Caribbean(which was now about an hour away), we thought we’d try and relax with a spot of sunbathing. This meant trying the almost impossible task of finding not 1…but 2, empty sun loungers.

A view of the ocean from the rear of the ship, overlooking the sunbathing area at the bottom of the shot

Fantastic! We found 2 together, no way. But…pretty much after placing our towels onto the sun loungers, Sarah’s “Paradigm” insulin pump started alarming!!

“That’s not the usual alarm” I said as Sarah was trying to read the tiny screen in the super bright sun. “I can’t quite make out what it’s saying, but it’s not something i’ve seen before, i need to go back to the cabin and use the magnifier”. The pump continued it’s piercing alarm all the way to the cabin!

Back in the cabin..

Once back, and using our video magnifier, the error message on the screen said “A button has been continually pressed for more than three minutes. to clear press ESC, then ACT”.

Sarah said “That’s weird, my pump’s been nowhere near anything that would press the buttons, but it sounds easy enough, i can finally stop this annoying alarm”. After hearing a few clicks, then a few more, the pump was still alarming. “It’s not working” “What do you mean, are the buttons not responding?”. “No, it won’t clear the error message, can you have a go”. I tried, and still nothing except the error message and the alarm!

We both knew we didn’t have long as the pump has now stopped delivering insulin, as Sarah needs a continual small dose, as not only does Sarah have type 1, but a brittle form, and she is also slightly allergic to insulin! 

After taking the battery out, waiting 10 minutes before replacing…the alarm and message were still there! After trying it again, I said “Should we take it to the doctors in the hospital on Deck 3?” “They won’t know anything about insulin pumps, it’s specialised equipment, which is why it’s carefully monitored, and finely tuned by the diabetic clinic”. After a few more desperate tries to cancel the alarm, and running out of options, we had no choice, and headed down to deck 3.

The Hospital…

Reaching the bottom of the stairs to Deck 3, we were greeted with a couple of corridors and lots of doors. We could hear voices coming from an open door on the right, so we headed there. We found the doctor who was sounding very concerned whilst talking to a couple of very poorly sounding people, who had deep growly coughs. I said “Let’s wait out here”. A man dressed in a white suit approached us and asked if we were ok? After explaining what had happened, he looked at the pump, took it, and asked us to wait in the waiting room.

He returned with the doctor(a female with quite an aggressive manner), she explained that the pump was broken, and we needed to get a new one. But for now she needed to work out how much insulin Sarah’s body ran on. We said the pump gives a small amount of Humalog every 1-2 hours continuously, but all of the information is programmed in the pump that has now locked itself. This didn’t impress her! Between us, we had to try and calculate how much insulin Sarah took each day, by adding up the dosage at meal times, and adding a little more to compensate for the pumps continuous injections in the background. 

After a couple more hours of stressful calculations, the doctor gave Sarah some old school syringes and told us to keep a record of insulin taken, time of insulin taken and food eaten etc. We returned to our cabin worried about how we were going to cope for the rest of the holiday, and did we have enough Humalog insulin in the fridge, as the hospital on-board didn’t use it, or stock it.

The Phone Call…

We went up to reception on Deck 8(lots of stairs, lol)  to see if we could phone Medtronic(the makers of the insulin pump) as they are an American company, and would still be open. We couldn’t phone the UK diabetic clinic as they were 5 hours in front, and it would be about midnight! 

After a long drawn out discussion with the receptionist, asking if there was a way to call out from a ship, as we have a medical disaster, as Sarah knows her body reacts badly to injections etc, and really does need the continued small amounts 24 hours a day.  So we really needed to call Medtronic to see if there is any way of saving the pump! Eventually we managed to phone Medtronic, and after a £52 phone call…he told us “the pump was broken!!”. Sarah has been on an insulin pump for about 15 years, and they have never broken. But 1 hour from Antigua, sailing at sea for 5 days…it breaks! 😦 

Trying to relax…

As the realisation was setting in of trying to manage with injections, and Sarah’s blood sugar was still on the rise after the first injection. We were getting a little worried on how this was all going to play out. We decided to stay in the room and just figure out a game plan for the rest of the holiday. We then managed to figure out how to turn on the TV, i thought a film might help Sarah try and relax after the trauma of the day. 

After a while when Sarah spoke again, i instantly knew we were in trouble! The slightly slurring sound of Sarah’s voice told me her blood sugar had suddenly shot down and it was very low! “Oh no,” i said as i jumped into survival mode. Sarah was still conscious so i knew i had a little time. I went straight to the fridge and got the bottle of orange lucozade that usually works if Sarah is still able to drink. 

After about 10 minutes Sarah was slipping away, so i ran to my bag and got the Gluco Gel and squirted it into Sarahs mouth. Gluco gel is fantastic and absorbs into gums etc, and after a while(a nervous while) Sarah was back with us. “Phew” i said as relief was pulling me out of survival mode. Sarah said “I’ve had a hypo havn’t i?! These injections really aren’t going to work, my body just goes erratic and messes up”. 

After a sleepless night of trying to stabilise a yo-yoing blood sugar, we were not really enjoying our first day at sea. But we decided to go and have a nice strong coffee at our fave place, as we’ve probably got another sleepless night tonight too. I said “It’s hard to imagine that not even a day ago we were riding on horseback across that beautiful beach”. 🙂 

Sarah has to check her blood sugar every 2 hours, day and night, for the rest of the holiday, as without the pumps continuous feed, we are left with just fast acting insulin, and lots of prayers.

This is becoming quite an adventure!!! 

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

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

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

Welcome to Paradise…

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

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

St John beach 2

Photo of the horse instructor walking across the beautiful beach

 ⇧ The horseman strolling along the beautiful beach ⇧  

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

⇧ Horses being led to the sea to cool off ⇧  

The Horse Ride…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

⇧ Sarah ensconced in Sunshine! 🙂 ⇧ 

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

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

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

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

 ⇧ “Little Man & “Sunshine” ⇧ 

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

Sarah bareback riding

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

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

The Swim…

Sarah running towards the empty sea

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

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

⇧ What a way to relax! 🙂 ⇧  

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

Sarah portrait St John

 ⇧ I think Sarah enjoyed her swim! 🙂 ⇧ 

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

 Back on the ship…

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

Our new friend…

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

Folded turtle from towels with my hat as the shell

Our Route 4 2day…

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

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

St Kitts logo

 

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

Welcome to St Kitts… 

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

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

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

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

⇧ Sarah’s Panorama of St Kitts ⇧ 

 

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

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

⇧ Sarah & i at St Kitts ⇧

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

Excursion Details – St Kitts Scenic Railway…

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

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

The Bus…

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

View from the bus at St Kitts

⇧ A view from the bus window ⇧ 

The Train…

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

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

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

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

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

St Kitts 1

St Kitts 2

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

St Kitts 3

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

St Kitts Train

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

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

St Kitts Bus

We were then treated to another stunning bay!

St Kitts 7

St Kitts 6

St Kitts 5

St Kitts 4

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

Sarah St Kitts Train

⇧ Sarah sat at the front of the train! ⇧  

St Kitts Volcano

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

Train Bridge 1

Train bridge 2

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

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

St Kitts Church

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

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

My Platt  Blue Caribbean Shirt

⇧ My quiet blue shirt ⇧ 

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

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

 Our Route 4 2day…

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

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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☀️ #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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Yay It’s My Birthday! ☕️🍔🎶😀

A portrait of me holding a small glass cup of Coffee

Hi WordPress family! As it’s my birthday today…I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to raise a coffee and take a little time to thank you for your continued love, encouragement, inspiration and fantastic comments between all of you on this blog.

I’m sure you’re dying to find out what my fave coffee is by now, lol…my fave is a double Espresso or a Cappuccino! What about you? 

I always talk to Sarah about all of you guys and how amazing it is to have  this blog read and commented on from all around the world. But i’d love to know which country/state etc to put to your faces? I have a flag counter in the bottom right of this blog and it says i’ve reached 192 countries, but i have no idea where most of my fave bloggers are from?

So what i’m trying to say is…As my birthday gift could you please comment below with your country and fave coffee etc? It would be a fantastic present for me…I’ll make another coffee here in Surrey, England, UK and look forwards to seeing you guys! 😀 

🎶 HAPPY LOCKDOWN BIRTHDAY SARAH!!! ❤️😀❤️

As we are safe during lockdown in our vault(i mean home, lol) i thought i’d take Sarah back to last year to her amazing “Caribbean Bonaire Birthday Blast” 😀 

🇧🇶 Tropical Delights Tour: Day 3 Kralendijk, Bonaire

Today was the birthday excursion for Sarah. It 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…

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! 😎

Sarah & i infront of the yellow 1961 Uniog

Arawak Off-road Safari… 

 First, we  climbed into the Subi Rincon hills, where the amazing yellow Unimog stopped at a set of time-worn Indian caves.

Cave in Bonaire
 
 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!! 😎  

view overlooking the island of Bonaire

 The Bonaire Donkey’s… 

The Bonaire Donkeys

Panorama of the lakes and saltflats with the wind turbines in the centre on the horison

the beauty spot, Seru Largu. This cross-topped monument sits on a raised platform, setting Sarah up with panoramic views of the capital, Kralendijk.

Panorama of the island of Bonaire
  
Sarah & i overlooking the island of Bonaire
 
 Back at the ship…
 
After the incredible and mind bending ride in the Unimog, we quickly went onboard and had an iced coffee before heading out into the town to see what goodies we could find.
Yay, we managed to buy another bauble for our Christmas tree…Oh and i bought another bright and colourful shirt.
 
The Evening Meal…
 
We had a lovely Italian meal and the highlight for Sarah were the sugar free Profiteroles…Now that was a fantastic ending to an even greater day! Happy Birthday Sarah!!
Profiteroles

🌴Day 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 🌴

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 7 ~ 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 horseback trek.

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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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 6 ~ Basseterre, St Kitts

St Kitts logo

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

Welcome to St Kitts… 

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

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

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

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

⇧ Sarah’s Panorama of St Kitts ⇧

 

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

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

⇧ Sarah & i at St Kitts ⇧

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

Excursion Details – St Kitts Scenic Railway…

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

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

The Bus…

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

View from the bus at St Kitts

⇧ A view from the bus window ⇧ 

The Train…

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

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

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

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

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

St Kitts 1

St Kitts 2

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

St Kitts 3

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

St Kitts Train

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

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

St Kitts Bus

We were then treated to another stunning bay!

St Kitts 7

St Kitts 6

St Kitts 5

St Kitts 4

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

Sarah St Kitts Train

⇧ Sarah sat at the front of the train! ⇧  

St Kitts Volcano

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

Train Bridge 1

Train bridge 2

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

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

St Kitts Church

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

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

My Platt  Blue Caribbean Shirt

⇧ My quiet blue shirt ⇧ 

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

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

 Our Route 4 2day…

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

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 5 ~ Philipsburg, St Maarten

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

St Maarten Island Tour…(excursion details)

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

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

The Dutch Side…

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

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

Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon…

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

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

Photo taken of Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon.jpeg

Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon.jpeg

St Maarten Bay 4

St Maarten Bay

⇧ Lookout Point – Simpson Bay Lagoon ⇧

The French Side…

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

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

Marigot…

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

St Maarten Bay 5

⇧ Marigot bay ⇧ 

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

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

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

⇧ Sarah’s St Maartens Coral Necklace ⇧  

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

Back On The Ship…

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

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

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

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

Great Bay Beach…

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

⇧ View of the cruise ships from Great Bay Beach ⇧ 

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

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

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

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

⇧ Sarah relaxing in paradise ⇧   

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

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

⇧ Beautiful! ⇧ 

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

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

Towel Folding & Beyond…

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

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

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

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

Our Route 4 2day…

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

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