North America, Africa, Asia, Europe · 46 Days · 197 Moments · September 2017

Through four continents.

5 November 2017

We arrived home at around 6:00 p.m. we were tired but satisfied from our experiences. Our horizons had been expanded more than we expected. This trip has consisted of 11 flights, 2 cruises and thousands of miles of travel through 13 countries over 4 continents. Some of the places we have been to before but most were new to us. The sole purpose of this blog was to create a written and visual record of this trip for us. The wonderful side benefit is that you were able to vicariously travel with us and experience our exotic adventures. We always end each of our travel blogs with an appropriate quote. And this one is no different: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness...”. MARK TWAIN
We landed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 2:15 p.m. The weather was cool and rainy. That is something we hadn’t experienced for quite sometime. After we got our bags off of the luggage carousel we went outside the terminal. There we met waiting friends who were going to take us home. But first we stopped for dinner at the G&M Restaurant and Lounge. It is a unanimous decision that they make the best crab cakes in Baltimore. We have eaten there many times before and would recommend it to anyone who loves seafood. After dinner we headed north back over the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania.
We got up at 5:45 a.m. to find us docked at Port Everglades, Florida which is the port for Fort Lauderdale. Now begins the several hour and more than 1,000 mile odyssey that will end at our home back in Pennsylvania later this evening. It all began with walking off the ship with our luggage. There were 7 ships in port. But because we got an early start we missed all of the rush. We then breezed through United States Customs and Immigration. After that we took a cab to Fort Lauderdale International Airport. We arrived there by 7:20 a.m. By 7:45 a.m. we were through security and at the gate. Even though our flight to Baltimore doesn’t leave until 11:15 a.m., we got ahead of the crush of travelers that will now start to materialize. This was an exercise in non stressful air travel. The next text should come later today saying we are on the ground in Baltimore. Photo 1-Florida sunrise. Photo 2-Fort Lauderdale. Photo 3, 4,-Leaving the ship. Photo 5-Airport.

4 November 2017

We are now back in the open ocean en route to Fort Lauderdale. The first photo is the wake of the ship. It appears to be the inspiration for the T-shirt that Sue is holding. As we walked into the Windjammer today we saw the huge cake shown in the next 2 photos. We had our last Happy Hour and then went to Chops for dinner.
The ill/injured passenger was evacuated off of the ship from a gangway directly below our balcony. He was placed in a waiting ambulance. We wish him well. At 2:00 p.m. we sailed away from the dock. Goodbye, Nassau!
Here are pictures of our approach to Nassau. As you can see there were 4 other cruise ships tied up there. If you know where to look on the last photo (in the middle) hopefully you can pick out Senor Frogs. Doug spent a week in there one afternoon.
Unfortunately this cruise is ALMOST over. But there is still another day to enjoy ourselves. We are currently just east of the Bahama Islands and are scheduled to dock in Fort Lauderdale tomorrow. There have been no rough seas for the 3 weeks we have been on this ship. The weather has cooperated by being warm the entire time as well. The picture of the ocean was posted about 30 seconds after it was taken. Our primary job today will be to pack. After that it will just be a matter of lounging around. Tonight we conclude everything by going back to Chops Grille for dinner with friends. The Captain just made an announcement that we are diverting to Nassau, Bahama for a medical evacuation. I don’t know if we will be docking or if the helicopter pad will be used. I will post pictures when we get there.

3 November 2017

The weather is still wonderful and the sea is calm. It is the perfect cruise. It is lobster night in the dining room. For those of you that have traveled with us previously there is no need for a further explanation. The only thing to be determined is “HOW MANY WILL WE EAT?”. The first 5 photos today are of the ship’s theater. As you can tell it is quite large. Photo 6 is the ship’s bridge. The last photo is of the helicopter pad.

2 November 2017

Today we had a special prescheduled activity. That activity was a perk because of the sailing status that we have achieved. It was lunch with a ship’s officer. It was an exquisite experience. We ate in a separate part of the dining room. A special autographed souvenir menu was prepared just for us. If you read the menu you’ll be able to see what we had to eat. It was a wonderful meal. Wine was also free flowing. The officer we dined with was “Mercedes” from Venezuela. She was a very personable young lady and we spent a enjoyable time together. The chef also stopped by our table and asked if we like the way he prepared the food. The Captain even made a visit to our table to inquire about our satisfaction. We had such a meal that is doubtful we’ll eat anything else today. Photo 1, 2, 3-Menu. Photo 4-Mercedes Photo 5-Doug’s entree. Photo 6-Sue’s entree. Photo 7-Desert Photo 8-The Captain.
Here are 3 more places on the ship where a drink may be secured. Photo 1-Star Lounge Photo 2-Diamond Club. Photo 3-Concierge Club.
Thirst can be a dangerous thing. So there are several place on board at which one can quench their thirst. Here are just a VERY FEW of them. Photo 1-Bull & Bear, an English Pub. Photo 2-Vintages, a wine bar. Photo 3-Pool Bar. Photo 4-Squeeze. Photo 5-Solarium Bar. Photo 6-R Bar. Photo 7-Boleros Photo 8-Schooner Bar, a piano bar. Photo 9-Sky Bar. Photo 10-Olive Or Twist.

1 November 2017

Here are some random shots from around the ship today. Photo 1-Live band at the pool. Photo 2-Casino!!! Photo 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Sue at dance class. Photo 8-Pool Deck.
Our present position is: North Latitude 26 degrees 53 minutes 58 seconds West Longitude 51 degrees 48 minutes 52 seconds Our course is 265 degrees and we are sailing at 19.1 knots. You can chart that on a world map to see exactly where we are. The seas are calm and the weather remains warm. The ship has a somewhat extensive workout gym. It includes free weights, resistance machines, stationary bikes and treadmills. It also has a sauna and steam room. You can see some of that in the first several pictures. The Windjammer is the main lunch buffet area on board. Earlier we sent pictures of the 3 story dining room. The Windjammer is an altogether different eating venue. Today at one of the Windjammer’s carving stations they were cutting ham from a pig’s leg. Check out the last 2 photos.
Here are just a few more Halloween pictures. They are of the awards being presented for the various costume categories.

31 October 2017

Halloween still continues!
If “a picture is worth a thousand words”, then what follows will fill volumes!!!!!!!
Halloween luck? Not on the slot machines. But we did win an historical trivia game later in the day. Our score sheet is attached. And our day continues into the evening with the attached pictures. Yes. All of this really did happen!!! Check the next post for more Halloween pictures.
We are almost exactly midway between Africa and North America. The sea has still been calm and the sailing has been great. Today is Halloween. The Royal Promenade is decorated for the day. Attached are just a few photographs of what it looks like. We think Halloween mischief we be on full display as the day proceeds!! Remember. What happens on the ship at Halloween stays on the ship.

30 October 2017

It has been another day of smooth sailing. We having been chugging along at 19.5 knots. The weather has been clear and sunny. Here are some more photos from the ship; miniature golf, basket court, climbing wall.

29 October 2017

Today, and for the balance of this cruise, we will be at sea. Since there are no more ports of call to highlight we will be showing you various areas of the ship. The Connoisseur Club is a room richly appointed in marble, mahogany and stained glass. It also has the state of the are ventilation system. It is where a good cigar and a favorite drink can be enjoyed in luxurious surroundings.

28 October 2017

Goodbye, La Palma! We have discovered another unexpected jewel in this place. Right before we got back on board Sue posed at the black sand beach with the ship in the background. Immediately upon returning to our stateroom Doug replenished his liquids that were sapped by the 90 degree temperature. We sailed away at 5:00 p.m. But our day wasn’t finished. We had our anniversary dinner onboard at Giovanni’s Table; an Italian Restaurant.
And finally in La Palma we found these last unique sites: Photos 1, 2 & 3-German Consulate. Photo 4-A cigar roller. The balance of the photos are random shots.
Here are a few more photos of La Palma. Sangria for lunch? Sure!
Here are some more views of La Palma. Notice the exact replica of Columbus’ Santa Maria. Also see the black sand beaches of La Palma. That is a direct effect of the active volcanic activity here.
Today is our 40th wedding anniversary. And what a better place to spend it than in such an exotic location as we are right now. This morning we docked in Santa Cruz de La Palma. Although similar in spelling, today’s port is not to be confused with where we were yesterday; Las Palmas. La Palma is the northern and most western island of the Canary archipelago. At one point it was the considered to be the end of the known world. But Columbus changed all of that. When we sailed from La Palma, at sunset today, the next time we would encounter terra firma would be in the new world just like Columbus did. We have left the furthest outpost of the European Union. The next stop is Florida. But before that we took a trolley ride around the area. Please sit beside us on the trolley and enjoy the views. There is a unique style of “balcony” architecture here. The photos continue into the next post. Except for the fact that neither of us is fluent in Spanish, we could very easily live here

27 October 2017

Here are some parting photographs of Las Palmas. The first two are of the main gate at the Spanish naval base here. The others are random street scenes that we saw on the way back to the ship.
Here are some more scenes from Las Palmas on Gran Canaria. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The temperature was very warm. There were wide palm lined boulevards that made today perfect for walking.
This morning we docked at Las Palmas on the Island of Gran Canaria. We began the day with breakfast on our balcony. Gran Canaria, like Tenerife yesterday, is an upscale area. It is obvious that the people here enjoy a high standard of living. Enjoy today’s photos. They extend into the following 2 posts. We enjoyed looking at the Art Deco buildings. We hope you do too.

26 October 2017

Here are more views of Mount Teide National Park on Tenerife.
Mount Teide and National Park, on Tenerife, was today’s destination. To get there we left the ship, which was obviously at sea level, and drove up and up. We first went through tall pine forests (photos 1, 2 & 3). Once above the tree line we discovered a moon scape type of view, lava flows and an active volcano. Photo 4 is a satellite picture of Tenerife clearly showing the volcano and it’s caldera. The sites were surreal. Photo 5 is right above the tree line looking back at the Atlantic Ocean. The balance of the photos show the unique geographic features that we saw. The next post is also a continuation of that.

25 October 2017

At 11:00 a.m. we docked in Tenerife, Canary Islands. By looking at the attached map you can see that the Canary Islands lie off the coast of Morocco. They are a group of active volcanic islands and an autonomous region of Spain. Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital. It is a large, modern, clean city. The first few photos show our approach to Tenerife. The temperature was 90 degrees here today. We took a tour of Teide National Park. The center piece of which is Mount Teide. It happens to be the third highest volcano on earth. The oxygen was thin because we were at an elevation of almost 8,000 feet. Enjoy the soaring photos. The photos continue in the next 2 posts
Today is a sea day. After leaving Cadiz, Spain we sailed south along the coast of Africa en route to our next 3 ports of call. Since we won’t be docking today we’ll share a little more of this ship with you. We’ll focus on the aquatic aspects. There is a kiddies water area plus 2 swimming pools; one of which is for adults only. There are also several hot tubs to enjoy. There is even a flo-rider for the more adventurous.

24 October 2017

And just a few more shots of Cadiz!
How about some more photos of Cadiz?
Here are some more photographs of Cadiz.
This morning we docked in Cadiz, Spain. It may be the oldest inhabited city in the western world with more than 3,000 years of history. Columbus left here on two of his voyages to the new world. We spent the day admiring this beautiful place. You can enjoy the city with us by looking at the photos we took.

23 October 2017

Today is another sea day so we are going to show you another part of the ship. These are photos taken from various levels of the main dining room. The dining room is 3 stories tall.
Since leaving Barcelona we have sailed south hugging the coast of Spain. The attached photo shows our distance to land. After midnight we passed by the Rock of Gibraltar. We had left the Mediterranean Sea and had entered the Atlantic Ocean. In the morning we docked in Cadiz, Spain for a day of exploring.
Here are a few more photographs of the Royal Promenade.
Today is a sea day. So we will look at the ship. The interior of the “Freedom of the Seas” contains a large open area that is 5 stories tall and roughly 100 yards long. It is called the Royal Promenade. The entire passageway is contained within the bowels of the ship. But the desired effect is to make you feel you are on a village street. The upper levels are the windows of inside cabins that look out over the area. Look closely at the attached pictures and you can see those cabin windows.The ground level consists of shops, eateries and bars.

22 October 2017

Sail away is at 5:00 p.m. today. The ship is full of new passengers and is headed for the U.S.A. Tomorrow will be a sea day. So, with no ports of call to explore, you can enjoy the attached photos of the ship’s casino. This evening we had dinner again at Chops.

21 October 2017

Yes. We are now done with this cruise. But we are NOT done with this ship. We are staying on board to do a trans-Atlantic cruise from Barcelona (Spain or Catalonia ) to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We are also fortunate enough to be able to keep the same stateroom; number 6328. If you remember our flight to Africa was an emasculating one of well over 20 hours counting the layovers. The cruise back to the United States does not have a jet lag component to it. So we will be well rested when we return home. We purposely haven’t included many photos of the ship so far. From now on, though, we will show you a little of the ship each day as we are crossing the Atlantic Ocean. At one point the “Freedom of the Seas” was the largest cruise ship in the world. It no longer holds that title. But it is still a joy to experience.
This cruise has been very port intensive. We have been in a different port of call every day since we left Barcelona. But today is a day at sea. As you can see the Mediterranean is as smooth as ice. With no ports to explore we relaxing in a more conventional way. Tomorrow morning we dock back in Barcelona. At that point this cruise will be over. But our travels are continuing. You’ll have to keep checking here to see where we will be next. The political situation in Barcelona is still in a state of flux. We keep watching the news but there is still no consensus on how it will all end.
In 2015 we went around the world. 59 days of that trip was spent on Royal Caribbean’s “Explorer of the Seas”. One of the waiters from that ship is now on the “Freedom of the Seas”. He remembered us and approached us to see if we remembered him. We did. He is Jose from the Philippines. Here he is at lunch today with Sue. Speaking of today’s lunch, check out the pig’s head at the pork carving station.

20 October 2017

This photograph shows that Naples, Italy is truly an international city.
After lunch we boarded a funicular and went to the highest point in Naples. The attached photos do no justice to the stunning views that awaited us there. We sailed away at 7:00 p.m. Today is the second formal night of this cruise. We have negotiated it quite well. Leaving our formal wear at home was a sacrifice we had to make for the safari. Photo 1-Funicular sign. Photo 2-Funicular. Photo 3-Funicular Photo 4-Naples skyline. Photo 5-Naples skyline. Photo 6-Naples skyline. Photo 7-Cocktail at the top of Naples. Photo 8-Mount Vesuvius. Photo 9-Naples skyline.
After the Galleria Mall we went to a sidewalk cafe for lunch. We had a wonderful pizza. Enjoy the street scenes. Photo 1-Sidewalk cafe. Photo 2-Our waitresses. Photo 3-Neapolitan pizza! Photo 4-Street security. Photo 5-Street scene. Photo 6-Street scene. Photo 7-Street scene Photo 8-Street scene. Photo 9-Street scene. Photo 10-Street scene.
Here a few more photographs of the Galleria Mall in Naples. It is truly an amazing thing to see. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This morning we docked in Naples, Italy. We walked and explored until it was time to get back on the ship. The last time we were here we spent it in Pompeii, which is just a few miles south of Naples. Today we wanted to see the city. The very first thing we did was walk a few blocks to the Galleria Mall. For those of you who live in York County we are NOT referring to that place on Mount Zion Road. The Galleria in Naples was built around 1890. It has marbles floors, a soaring cast iron arched ceiling with glass skylights. The center of the mall is topped with a magnificent glass cupola. The entire mall is roughly the size of 4 city blocks. And yes, it is a shopping mall. Photo 1-Our ship docked in Naples. Photo 2-Naples cruise terminal. Photo 3-Outside of the Galleria Mall. Photo 4-Outside of the Galleria. Photo 5-Inside the Galleria. Photo 6-Inside the Galleria. Photo 7-inside the Galleria. Photo 8-inside the Galleria. Photo 9-Inside the Galleria. Photo 10-Inside the Galleri

19 October 2017

Today we are docked in Civitavecchia, Italy. It is the port city for Rome. So you know it is a very busy place. There are container ships and cruise ships lining the harbor. Rome lies 50 miles inland. So getting there is no easy task. Since we have seen Rome more than once we decided to stay in Civitavecchia for the day. One task we were looking to accomplish today is to check out the local hotels. We will be here again in 13 months. We’re trying to find a nice place to stay when we return. We looked at 4 hotels and picked up their literature. Now we have the luxury of time to pick the one we like. We sailed away at 8:00 p.m. Our next port of call is... Photo 1-City map. Photo 2-Our ship is the third from the left. Photo 3-Port security. Photo 4-Port security. Photo 5-Viewed this hotel. Photo 6-Viewed this hotel. Photo 7-Viewed this hotel. Photo 8-Viewed this hotel. Photo 9-Italian & European Union flags. Photo 10-Sidewalk cafe

18 October 2017

Here are some photos of last night’s ice show. It was quite the performance.
Here are some more photos of our day in La Spezia. The only thing we did today was to stroll around and relax. There is an ice rink in the bottom of the ship. This evening we attended an ice show there. The skaters put on a world class performance. Several of them were former Olympians.
This morning our ship docked in Le Spezia, Italy. That location is a staging point for shore excursions to Pisa, Florence, Tuscany and the dramatic vistas of the Italian Riviera; the Cinque Terrra. We have been to all of those areas before. So we just decided to wander the streets and back alleys of Le Spezia itself. And what a treat it was! The city is a sleepy place with wide palm lined brick promenades. Enjoy the pictures we took today in La Spezia, Italy. There are some more on the following post.

17 October 2017

Doug took several pictures of Fairmont Hairpin; “the world’s most famous bend”. It sits right in front of the Fairmont Hotel; thus the name. It is famous because it is the most spectacular curve of the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. From there we boarded the bus back to Villafranche-sur-Mer, France and then took the tender ride back to the ship. Last photo: Goodbye French Riviera!! Tomorrow we will wake up in another country. That country is...
We also went to the world famous Casino of Monte Carlo. We were able to get inside and take a few photos. We’re not sure. But we think we saw James Bond. Photos 1, 2, 3, 4-Outside the casino. Photos 5, 6, 7, 8, 9-Inside the casino.
Here are some photos of just a FEW of the vehicles that were parked in the reserved spaces in front of the casino in Monte Carlo. Photo 1-Rolls Royce. Photo 2-Ferrari. Photo 3-Mercedes Benz. Photo 4-Bentley. Photo 5-Lamborghini. Photo 6-Maserati.
Here are more photographs of Monaco. Photo 1-Church where Grace Kelly was married Is buried. Photo 2-Interior of that church. Photo 3-Interior of that church. Photo 4-Grave of Princess Grace Kelly. Photo 5-Grace of Prince Rainier. Photo 6-Oceanographic Museum. Photo 7-Oceanographic Museum. Photo 8-Oceanographic Museum. Photo 9-A local high school. Photo 10-Princess Caroline’s house.
At 1:00 p. m. we boarded a bus in Villafranche-sur-Mer and drove headed east. In 30 minutes we crossed the international border into the Principality of Monaco. Enjoy the photographs. They continue with the next 5 posts. Photo 1-Monte Carlo. Photo 2-Monte Carlo. Photo 3-Monte Carlo. Photo 4-Royal Palace. Photo 5-Palace guard. Photo 6-Monaco’s coat of arms. Photo 7-Monaco license plate. Photo 8-Flag of Monaco. Photo 9-Parliament. Photo 10-Hall of Justice.
This morning we anchored off of the coast of the beautiful French town of Villefranche-sur-Mer. We tendered to shore. The first photo is of the tender we took from the ship. We are now in the heart of the French Riviera. Photos 2-6 were taken from our ship and the tender. Photo 7 is of our ship taken from the shore. Photos 8-10 are street scenes of this charming place French town.

16 October 2017

This morning we docked in the French port of Marseille. It is more of an industrial and shipping city than it is a tourist destination. We still roamed around, though, and took some pictures. See if you can locate the sign in the first photograph. I guess someone is trying to imitate the Hollywood sign in California. There were 6 other cruise ships docked in our general vicinity. When we returned to our stateroom Sue enjoyed some wine and cheese on our deck. After that it was off to the Diamond Lounge for cocktails and then back to Chops Steak House for dinner. At 6:00 p.m. we left Marseille and sailed back out into the Mediterranean Sea towards our next port of call.
The first 4 photos are of some of the other cruise ships docked close to us today in Marseille. The next 3 photos are of our ship taken from one position; back, front, height. Look at the sign we found while roaming around our ship today. It is the last photo. Hmmmmmm!!

15 October 2017

This morning we boarded a cruise ship in the harbor of Barcelona. The ship is Royal Caribbean’s “Freedom of the Seas”. We will be doing a western Meditation cruise on her. From this point on there MAY be irregular internet connection. There might be a day in which there will be no postings. But there will be days when everything will be caught up. So keep checking. At some point everything will be current. Enjoy the pictures of our first day on board. Tomorrow we will be in France! Photo 1-Our ship. Photo 2-Welcome aboard! Photo 3-Columbus statue as seen from the ship. Photo 4-Our stateroom. Photo 5-Our stateroom. Photo 6-Our stateroom. Photo 7-Our stateroom. Photo 8-Our stateroom. Photo 9-Our stateroom.. Photo 10-Dinner at Chops Steak House.

14 October 2017

We did witness one protest. It is captured in photo 1. Later we stopped at the outside Cafe de L’Opera Barcelona for a sangria and a beer (photos 2 & 3). La Rambla ends at the waterfront at a massive statue of Christopher Columbus (photos 4,5,6,7). The other terminus is the Plaza of Catalonia in central Barcelona (photo 8). And, finally, we stopped for a nightcap on La Rambla. The last photo is another flag of Catalonia.
After dinner we had a nice long walk on La Rambla. Again there is very little narrative. Just look at the photographs of the crowds and the police presence.
We then had dinner at the same restaurant we ate at last year (photo 1). Sue had vegetable paella and Doug has seafood paella (photos 3 & 4). We finished dinner with a champagne toast that was compliments from last year’s waiter.
Here are some more photographs of the Barcelona Market.
We then went to the world famous Barcelona Market. There is no narrative here because the pictures will tell the story.
We landed at Barcelona International Airport during the wee hours of Saturday morning. As planned, a driver was waiting to take us to our hotel in the center of the city. We stayed at the same hotel about a year ago and were very pleased with it. So we came back again for a room. The two of us finally got to bed at 4:00 a.m. local time. We were both exhausted. We arose at 1:45 p.m. Not knowing what to expect we strolled on La Rambla. Shops were open and there were people everywhere; thousands of them. There was also a police presence. Photo 1-Sign our driver was holding at the airport. Photo 2-Our hotel. Photo 3-Our hotel lobby. Photo 4-Our hotel room. Photo 5-Our hotel room. Photo 6-Catalonian flag. Photo 7-La Rambla. Photo 8-La Rambla. Photo 9-La Rambla. Photo 10-Police presence.

13 October 2017

***CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST*** An election was held recently in which 90% of the Catalonian votes cast were for full independence. The central Spanish government has called that election illegal. There has been violence and demonstrations on both sides of the issue in Barcelona.. We have now been squarely inserted into the middle of that situation. Our hotel is not in the suburbs of Barcelona. We are downtown on La Rambla; which is one of Europe’s great pedestrian promenades. It is where earlier this year an ISIS terrorist drove a truck down the middle of the promenade killing 13 people. But don’t fear for us. We are safe and will remain so. The good thing is that we arrived in the middle of the night. There were no protesters in sight. And we are now safely ensconced in our hotel room. Keep up with the news to see how this drama plays out. We wouldn’t say that we are living on the edge. But our trip has REALLY been interesting so far.
Several posts ago we asked that you keep an eye on the Catalonia situation that has been festering in Spain. Our flight left Malta at 12:45 a.m. on Saturday. When it landed in Barcelona at 3:30 a.m. we had no idea if we were landing in Spain or in the world’s newest nation; Catalonia. And we still don’t know. Here is a QUICK background. Spain is far from a homogeneous nation. One distinct part of Spain is Catalonia. It is highlighted in red on the map as compared to the rest of Spain which is colored in light yellow. Catalonia has it’s own language; Catalan. It also has customs that differ from the rest of Spain. At one point in its history it was even a part of France. Catalonia is the financial dynamo that powers the rest of the Spanish economy. Many decades ago Spain made Catalonia an autonomous region. That means that, with the exception of international affairs, Catalonia is, in effect, independent. Now the citizens of Catalonia want full independence. CONTINUED
Today is our last day on Malta. It has been an enlightening and enjoyable time for us while being here. It would be great if we could return here at some point in the future. Who knows? We might just very well do that. Do you remember our comparisons with our 2 most recent stops? Malta = Venice without the canals Cyprus = Miami Beach At any rate we still have several hours left here on Malta. We intend to squeeze as much fun out of this place, in the time we have left, as possible. Check out the pictures and smiles from today. We leave our hotel at 9.30 p.m. The flight out of Malta’s airport is just after midnight. Our trip so far has been spiked with moments of tension and concern. Among those were coming within inches of a wild lion, approaching 2 British soldiers who were armed with machine guns and walking through no man’s land into Northern Cyprus. We are about to experience another such situation at our next stop. That will all be addressed in the next post.

12 October 2017

A cigarette machine in Malta. When was the last time you saw one? It has been years for us.
Our “hop on-hop off” experience continues with these photos.
We “hopped off” at the Blue Grotto which is on the Mediterranean coast. All of the photos in this post are of that location. It is possible to take a boat and actually sail into the grottos. Because of time restrictions we didn’t do that. But one of the attached photos actually shows it happening. There were also swimmers and scuba divers enjoying the waters.
Today we did a sightseeing tour of Malta on a “hop on-hop off” bus. It was a double decker bus and we sat on the top. We were out all day. It was a wonderful visual experience. Enjoy the photographs. Our day continues into the following few posts.

11 October 2017

We went back to the hotel room to put away our clean clothes. While we were there we saw, from our deck, another cruise ship going into the harbor. We were able to get a great picture of it. The rest of the photos in this post are just random shots of the city. We had dinner at a very charming outside cafe. After that we walked around this charming city until sunset.
Up until today we have spent all of our time in old town Valletta. Sliema, on the other side of the harbor, is more modern. High rise hotels line the waterfront. We took a few pictures of Sliema. They are attached. The last 2 pictures are taken from Sliema looking back across the harbor at old town Valletta.
Once we got to Sliema, the bag of dirty wash had to be dragged up another hill to the laundromat. Then it just became a matter of washing, drying, and folding the clean clothes. We then retraced our steps back to our hotel in Valletta. We got back at 2:00 p.m. Something as mundane as doing laundry is rarely the topic of discussion. But this turned out to be an adventure that covered several miles over land and water.
The inevitable has occurred. It is time to do the wash. Since we’ve left home hand washing has carried the day. But the accumulation of dirty wash has reached the point that we had to find a laundromat. There was none in Valletta. But we were able to locate a laundromat in the neighboring town of Sliema. That was the easy part. The hard part was getting there and back. We left the hotel at 9:45 a.m. An hour and ten minutes later we arrived. En route we had to go up a hill, through Valletta, and down the other side. There a ferry took us across the harbor to Sliema. Photo 1-Leaving the hotel. Photo 2-Going up through Valletta. Photo 3-Still going up. Photo 4-Finally on flat ground. Photo 5-Going downhill. Photo 6-Still going downhill. Photo 7-This way to the ferry. Photo 8-The ferry. Photo 9-Waiting for the ferry. Photo 10-Riding the ferry.

10 October 2017

Well, maybe just ONE more photo!
There were 3 cruise ships tied up in Malta’s harbor today. Here are more photographs from our day’s adventures. So as not to bore you, this is it until tomorrow. In an enlightened moment today it came to me what Malta reminds us of. It is Venice WITHOUT the canals. If you have been to both places, think about it.
Here are 10 more photographs of Malta that we thought you would enjoy.
I would suspect that by now you have guessed, by the number of photographs that we are posting, that we are smitten by this lovely place. Our exploration of Malta continues with the following pictures. Photo 1-Very old door on a very old building. Photo 2-Anazing architecture. Photo 3-Street scene. Photo 4-Flags of Malta and the European Union. Photo 5-We took a ride on this tourist “train”. Photo 6-Maltese War Memorial. Photo 7-Street scene. Photo 8-Street scene. Photo 9-Saint John’s Church. Photo 10-Archway.
Here are some more views that we saw today. The weather on Malta is very nice. It is similar to that of Cyprus. It is a warm Mediterranean climate. Photo 1-Fortification walls built by the Knights of Malta. Photo 2-Maltese license plate. Photo 3-Rooftop gardens. Photo 4-Government buildings. Photo 5-A new cruise ship in port. Photo 6-Parking permit. Photo 7-Bank of Malta. Photo 8-Church of Our Lady of Victory, 1566. Photo 9-Church of Our Lady of Victory, 1566. Photo 10-Street scene.
After a sound night’s sleep, and a great breakfast, we are ready to explore more of Malta. Photo 1-Maltese Cross in our hotel’s grillwork. Photo 2-Rolls Royce parked on the street. Photo 3-Alfa Romeo parked on the street. Photo 4-Wall sculpture. Photo 5-Date Stone. Photo 6-Beautiful doorway. Photo 7-Street of stairs. Photo 8-Malta Stock Exchange. Photo 9-Horse and carriage. Photo 10-Post Office.

9 October 2017

Dinner this evening is goat cheese pizza, octopus with a spritzer and beer.
Here are some more photos of Valletta, Malta.
Look what we found in Valletta Harbor!!!!!!! It is Royal Caribbean’s “Jewel of the Seas”. We have sailed on her before. In November of 2018 we’re sailing on her through the Panama Canal. We were lucky enough to catch her sailing away to her next port of call.
As much like Cyprus is like Miami Beach, Malta is like a perfectly preserved European city from the 1600’s. We’re here for the next few days.
Having never been here before we didn’t know quite what to expect. Reading books, articles and looking at pictures did not fully prepare us for what awaited us. Words cannot describe Valletta, Malta. So just enjoy the pictures of this post and those that follow. They begin with our hotel room and surprisingly large deck. All we had to do was walk out on the deck to see the breathtaking views of this magical place. Vistas like this do not exist at home. We marked a personal milestone today. This is the 150th country that we have visited. That might sound like a lot but we have only seen around 40% of the world. Photo 1-Our hotel. Photo 2-Our hotel. Photo 3-Our room. Photo 4-Our room. Photo 5-Our room’s deck. Photo 6-Our room’s deck. Photo 7-View from our room’s deck. Photo 8-View from our room’s deck. Photo 9-View from our room’s deck. Photo 10-View from our room’s deck.
We landed on MALTA! Look at the lower right of the attached map and you can see where it is located. Italy lies to the north and Libya is to the south. It is not a single island but an archipelago of several small islands. The largest of which is called Malta. The ancient Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, etc. all controlled Malta at some point. From the 1500’s until Napoleon threw them out The Knights of Malta ruled here. Their forefathers were Christian Crusaders who fought the Muslims centuries earlier. After being expelled from Malta, the knights fled north to Rome where they established themselves and still exist to this day. About 15 years ago we visited the “Sovereign Military Order of Malta” in Rome. It is the only micro state in the world that has a street address. They issue their own postage stamps, money, passports, etc. Back on Malta we landed in the capital city of Valletta. That is also where our hotel is located. It will be our base of exploration.
We got up at 7:00 a.m. local time today. We then had breakfast (photo 1) in the hotel restaurant. After that we packed and took a taxi to the airport. Goodbye, Cyprus! Our flight left Larnaca Airport (photo 2) at 12:20 pm. We flew west for 2 and 1/2 hours, across the Mediterranean Sea, in the jet shown in photo 3. While in the air we passed over the island of Crete (photo 4). And, after passing into yet another time zone, we landed in...

8 October 2017

Today we just hung out at the beach all day. It was a time to recharge our batteries. The water was warm and the temperature was even warmer. Tomorrow morning we fly to our next destination. Where? Check back tomorrow. We are slowly making our way back home. Very slowly. As you know we have never been here before. Nor do we know of anybody else who has ever been here either. But, after our visit, we would definitely recommend Cyprus to anyone as a vacation location. If you love fun in the sun and the beach, this place is for you. It is only SLIGHTLY further away than Ocean City, Maryland. Photo 1-At the beach. Photo 2-In the Mediterranean Sea. Photo 3-In the Mediterranean Sea. Photo 4-At the beach. Photo 5-The airport is close to the beach. Photo 6-Beach scene. Photo 7-Beach we Photo 8-Beach scene. Photo 9-Drug store on the way back dto hotel. Photo 10-Relaxing at the hotel.

7 October 2017

As you can tell from the earlier photos, the coast of Cyprus is subtropical and much like Miami Beach or San Diego. The interior of the island is very arid and reminds us of Arizona. Tomorrow we plan to spend the day at the beach swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo 1-Interior of Cyprus. Photo 2-Interior of Cyprus. Photo 3-Greek beer. Still decompressing. Photo 4-it’s Greek to me. Photo 5-Full moon over Cyprus.
Now that the heavy lifting is done for the day, and the intense moments have passed, please enjoy the following photos. We spent the rest of the day decompressing on our hotel room balcony. Photo 1-Having a Cypriot coffee and sweet. Photo 2-Greek Nicosia. Photo 3-Greek Nicosia. Photo 4-Greek Nicosia. Photo 5-Greek Nicosia. Photo 6-Greek Nicosia. Photo 7-Greek Nicosia. Photo 8-Relaxing on our hotel room balcony. Photo 9-Relaxing on our hotel room balcony.
Photos 1 and 2 are signs posted at the “Green Line”. Photo 3 is the flag of the (Islamic Republic of) Northern Cyprus. It is carved into the Turkish side of a mountain overlooking Nicosia. It is symbolically “giving the finger” to the Greek Cypriots.
If the previous post wasn’t enough, we then drove to the capital of Cyprus: Nicosia. The “Green Line”, established by the United Nations, runs right through the middle of Nicosia. The first photo says it is the only divided capital left in the world. Photo 2, which is posted at the “Green Line”, is a United Nations memo prominently displayed that says that the Cypriots have a right to know about missing citizens. We both crossed the “Green Line”. It wasn’t too long ago that doing so would have fatal consequences. The process worked this way: 1) Passing through passport control leaving Greek Cyprus. 2) Walking about 100 feet through a “no man’s land”. 3) Passing through passport control into Turkish Cyprus. 4) Going back the process was reversed. Photo 3-Standing in “no man’s land”. Photo 4-Sign in “no man’s land”. Photo 5-Turkish Cyprus. Photo 6-Turkish Cyprus. Photo 7-Turkish Cyprus. Photo 8-Turkish Cyprus. Read it carefully and guess who took the pictur
There are some intense moments about to be described here. As we mentioned earlier, there are two areas of British sovereign territory on Cyprus. They are as British as London itself. Both of those areas are military bases. You can refer back to the map we showed in an earlier post to see exactly where they are located. Vangelis drove us to the northern of the 2 British sovereign areas. Doug asked him what he thought about taking pictures. He said “You might be able to do it. But not me.” We parked at the front gate. Doug then slowly walked down the lane towards the 2 British guards stationed there with his hands in plain view. They were both dressed in camouflage and holding machine guns. He said loudly: “I am an American.” “I am a tourist.” “May I take a photo of your front gate?” One of the guards said he would have to check with his commanding officer. Eventually the OK was given. That picture is attached. WHEW!!! “God save the Queen”!
We made arrangements, with driver that drove us from the airport to the hotel yesterday, for a tour today. We negotiated a price and set a time to be picked up this morning. The driver has a very long Greek name. But he told us, in broken English, “Just call me ‘Mike’”. His associate, Vangelis, picked us up at the hotel this morning. When Doug told Mike that he wanted to walk across the “Green Line” into Turkish Cypress his reaction was bombastic. “Why you want do that?!Turks no good”!!! We got the same reaction from our hotel clerk when we later told her of our plans. In effect they were both saying: “Are you nuts?”. We touched on the Greek-Turk issue briefly in an earlier post. The hate between the 2 groups continues to boil, as it has for centuries, on this beautiful island. Today was an adrenaline rush that we will not soon forget. The following few posts will hopefully articulate that for you. Photo 1-Doug and Vangelis.

6 October 2017

It is the end of the day. But even though we are in a different country, the end result is the same.
Boy! Did we ever stumble upon a paradise! All of these photos were taken at Larnaca, Cyprus. It sits on the Mediterranean Sea. There are 10 photographs in this post.
Enjoy the vistas. Photo 1-Our hotel in Larnaca, Cyprus. Photos 2 thru 5-Our room. Photos 6 thru 10-Larnaca street scenes.
The following is a VERY abbreviated historical look at Cyprus. Cyprus is populated by ethnic Greeks with a sizable Turkish minority. To say there is animosity between the 2 groups is a huge understatement. They’ve hated and killed each other since BEFORE Helen of Troy was born. To stop the violence and killing the United Nations sent a peace keeping force here some years ago.To separate the 2 groups a “Green Line” was drawn from one side of the island to the other. The Turks stayed north of the line and the Greeks stayed south of it. The attached map shows the line. At one point it would mean death if one group crossed into the other’s area. There is a third presence on the island and they are the British. They hold 2 bits of sovereign territory here that are used for naval and military bases. That is also reflected on the map. But that is enough history for the day. The next few posts will be of this beautiful island.
Our next destination is the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. If you look at the attached map you’ll see that it lies directly south of Turkey. Why did we choose to come here? Simply because it is a place we have never visited. Cyprus has a rich and long history. It almost stretches back to the beginning of human civilization. There is so much to say about the island. But in an effort to not get too involved we’ll just keep the focus on more recent times starting with the next post. Cyprus is a member of the European Union. Albeit an island, we are now officially in Europe.
Follow our flight out of Dubai via the photos below. Keep in mind that the Middle East looks pretty much all the same. Also having a wing in the way makes viewing difficult. We flew in a westerly direction until turning north over Egypt. It is Emirates flight 109. Photo 1-Flying out of Dubai going west. Photo 2-Flying west over the Persian Gulf. Photo 3-Flying west over Saudi Arabia. Photo 4-Flying west over the Gulf of Aqaba. Photo 5-Flying over Egypt (Sinai Peninsula) going west then north to the Mediterranean. Photo 6-Flying north in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo 7-Larnaca, Cyprus on the Mediterranean. Photo 8-Notice on plane seat.
We landed in Dubai at 5:00 a.m. local time. After a 2 hour layover we were back in the air again. Although our time in Asia was distilled to just a few hours, we were still on the continent. Neither of us sleep well on a plane. By the time we got to our next destination we were both exhausted. Between the time we got up in Zimbabwe yesterday and the time we checked into our hotel today almost 29 hours had past. Where are we? You will have to wait for the next posting to find out.

5 October 2017

After our layover in Johannesburg we boarded an Emirates Airline plane. It was the largest plane we have ever been on. It is an A-380 Airbus. Look at the attached photo and you can see that it has a 2 story passenger compartment. There are two boarding ramps; one to each passenger level. There is even an onboard bar. The second photo is view of one of the staircases in the plane that leads to the second story bar. The third photo is the video display on the seat back. Right before takeoff the stewardesses sprayed disinfectant in the cabin area. That is shown in picture 4. The flight took off at 7:15 p.m. local time. It will take a little more than 8 hours to complete. Our destination: Dubai in the United Arab Emirates which is in the Middle East. We are leaving Africa. When we land we will be in Asia. That be be the third of the 4 continents that this trip will encompass.
Goodbye Zimbabwe! The African part of our trip has far exceeded our expectations. This blog has a limit on how many words and pictures that we can use with each posting. So what you have seen and read so far has just been a part of our exotic experiences. This morning we left Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and drove to the airport. With 2 artificial knees and an artificial hip, Doug has a tremendous amount of metal in him. Obviously the metal detector went off when he walked through it at airport security. But the lady manning the machine just waved him through without any further kind of pat down. That was not too comforting as far as our confidence in the screening process here goes. At any rate, we boarded a flight back to Johannesburg, South Africa. We had a layover there for a few hours. Keep your eye on the situation as it is developing in Spain and Catalonia. We’ll be discussing that down the road.

4 October 2017

Tomorrow morning we leave Zimbabwe. Our travels continue.
Look at the people sitting on Victoria Falls. I don’t know what is more insane. This or the bungee jumping off of the railroad bridge.
“Doctor Livingstone, I presume?” Yes. It is THAT Doctor Livingstone!
Full moon over Zimbabwe.
At the end of a long, hot day, with the temperature over 100 degrees, this is a life saver. I
We went out on the Zambezi River railroad bridge. We walked from Zimbabwe into Zambia and back again. We have now been to 148 countries by crossing the Zambian border. In the middle of the bridge there was bungee jumping going on. We were lucky enough to photograph a young man launching himself off of the bridge. There are also some pictures attached of wildlife that we saw today. Enjoy these outstanding pictures. Picture 1-Zambia border Picture 2-Zambia border. Picture 3-Zimbabwe border. Picture 4-Bungee jumper. Picture 5-Bungee jumper. Picture 6-Warthog. Picture 7-Baboon. Picture 8-Baboons. Picture 9-Zambezi River gorge beneath the bridge Picture 10-Sunset on the Zambezi River.

3 October 2017

There was a time when “the sun never set on the British Empire”. In the late 1890’s and early 1910’s Britain controlled most of the east coast of Africa. They had a grand plan to build a railroad from Cairo to Cape Town; Egypt to South Africa. It was never completed in it’s entirety due to World War I and World War II. But some small parts of it are in existence today. One of those parts is the railroad bridge over the Zambezi River at Victoria Falls. It links Zimbabwe to Zambia. We got on that bridge and took some pictures. Victoria Falls is one of the great wonders of the world. Most of you are familiar with the massive power of Niagara Falls. Victoria Falls is TWICE the height of Niagara Falls and 1 1/2 times more wide. Swipe and enjoy the pictures of Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River and the railroad bridge. The pictures will continue thru the next posting. Picture 3 shows the railroad bridge with some of the falls visible. The temperature today was OVER 100 degrees.
Check out these pictures of Ilala Lodge. The last picture is a rainbow from Victoria Falls’ mist as seen from the lodge.
After the river cruise we had dinner on the banks of the Zambezi River. It was a great cultural experience. As you can see we were serenaded by some outstanding young men from the local tribe.
These next 10 pictures are absolutely amazing. The elephants simply blew us away. The pictures began in Zambia and ended in the Zambezi River.
The border between Zimbabwe and Zambia is the Zambezi River. It is the fourth longest river in Africa. Refer to the map in the previous post for a geographical perspective. At 4:00 p.m. today we took a cruise on that river. We did see hippopotamus but weren’t quick enough to photograph them before they submerged. We did cross the border into Zambia. This makes the 148th country that we have visited. Please enjoy the photos of our river cruise today. Photo 1-River cruise boat. Photo 2-Zambezi River. Photo 3-Ducks in Zambia. Photo 4-Zimbabwe shoreline. Photo 5-Zambezi beer. Photo 6-Joy on the Zambezi River. Photo 7-Great White Egret. Photo 8-Crocodile. Photo 9-Flying stork. Photo 10-Elephants.
This morning we got up at 5:00 a.m. Eventually we made our way back to Johannesburg Airport. There we took a flight to Victoria Falls which is in northern Zimbabwe. The temperature there was close to 100 degrees. Check out the attached map to see where we are. Zimbabwe was a former British colony that was once called Southern Rhodesia. For years it has been ruled by a corrupt, brutal dictator. The country’s economy is in shambles. It can no longer support a central banking system or even it’s own currency. Because of that Zimbabwe adopted the United States dollar as it’s official currency a few years ago. Surprisingly about half a dozen other countries around the world have done the same. Our hotel in Zimbabwe is called Ilala Lodge. Check out the photos. Photo 1-Map of Southern Africa. Photo 2-The official currency of Zimbabwe. Photo 3-Airport sign. Photo 4-Welcome to Zimbabwe. Photo 5-Ilala Lodge. Photo 6-10, Our room.

2 October 2017

We are leaving South Africa tomorrow morning. Here are a few parting facts. South Africa is: ...the second largest exporter of fruit in the world. ...the largest exporter of macadamia nuts in the world. ...generates the cheapest electricity in the world. ...the only country in the world to voluntarily abandon it’s nuclear weapons program. the third country in the world for safe, drinkable tap waster.
The photos posted here were still taken in Soweto. Photo 1 shows the towers of a now defunct power plant that used to provide electricity to Soweto. Notice the bridge that connects the 2 cooling towers. Bungee jumping is allowed from it. No. Doug didn’t do it. Photo 1-Power plant towers. Photo 2-An elementary school in Soweto. Photo 3-Nelson Mandela’s house in Soweto. Photo 4-School children in Soweto. Photo 5-Bishop Desmond Tutu’s house in Soweto. Photo 6-Where we had lunch in Soweto. Photo 7-Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. Photo 8-Johannesburg skyline. Photo 9-Johannesburg skyline. Photo 10-Johannesburg skyline. The Apartheid Museum was powerful. It certainly gave us a pause to reflect. Except for our brief stay in Senegal, all of our time so far has been spent in the Republic of South Africa. But tomorrow morning we fly to another African nation. Where? Check back tomorrow and see where.
Here are some more photos of Soweto.
Today we toured the Johannesburg area. The city itself is a financial hub in Africa and the home to many international banks. We also toured the township of Soweto. It is an area of about 3 1/2 million people. Almost all of the people there live below the poverty line. Our guide through Soweto was a lady by the name of Queen. It was quite sobering to view the vast wealth of Johannesburg and the poverty of Soweto. The first building we went to in Soweto houses stone tablets of South Africa’s constitution adopted in 1996. The skylight of that building contains an “X”. The “X” is emblematic of the mark made by the voters while voting in favor of the 1996 constitution. Photo 1-Queen, our guide. Photo 2-Building housing stone tablets. Photo 3-South Africa’s constitution in stone. Photo 4-“X” skylight. Photo 5-Soweto: largest hospital in Africa. Photo 6-Soweto. Photo 7-Soweto. Photo 8-Soweto. Photo 9-Soweto. Photo 10-Soweto.

1 October 2017

We arrived at our hotel in Johannesburg (“Joburg” to the locals) at around 3:00 p.m. The hotel is connected to 3 shopping malls. We spent the rest of the day exploring the malls and then having dinner. Tomorrow we have a full day of touring. Johannesburg, and the province that it is in, has a population equal to that of Pennsylvania. It is the financial capital of South Africa. Photo 1-Hotel exterior. Photo 2-Hotel lobby. Photo 3-Hotel interior. Photo 4-Our room (notice doorbell). Photo 5-Our room. Photo 6-Our room. Photo 7-Our room. Photo 7-Our room. Photo 9-Our room. Photo 10-Johannesburg skyline.
Check out the photos of the minuscule airport at Hoedspruit.our flight left at 11:15 a.m. Photo 1-Airport Terminal. Photo 2-Waiting Room. Photo 3-Our plane.
This morning we got up at 5:15 for our final safari game drive. It was misty outside. But are spirits were not dampened. We hit the jackpot when we came upon a large male lion (photo 8). He was not happy with our prescience and growled at us until we left. Photo 1-Boarding the truck one last time. Photo 2-The last safari game drive. Photo 3-Mongoose. Photo 4-impala. Photo 5-Zebra. Photo 6-Giraffe. Photo 7-Rhinoceros Photo 8-Large Male Lion. Photo 9-Zebra. Photo 10-Returning to the Lodge for the last time. Unfortunately, it is now time to leave the Kampala River Lodge and move on. After eating lunch we checked out and were driven back to Hoedspruit Airport by our Ranger, Gerhard, for a flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. Our adventure will continue there.

30 September 2017

Photo 1-Tonight’s dinner table. Photo 2-Exotic offering at dinner. Photo 3-Exotic offering at dinner.
In the middle of absolutely nowhere we had our last Happy Hour on the safari.
We had another great late afternoon safari game drive. We were going after lions. But, unfortunately, they were nowhere to be found. Enjoy the photos of what we did see from this afternoon. Gerhard, our ranger, speaks Afrikaans. It is a language that was spoken by the early Dutch settlers in South Africa. The language has influences from the Dutch and German. Photo 1-Gerhard, our ranger. Photo 2-Jeffrey, our tracker. Photo 3-Safari vehicles. Photo 4-Leaving the lodge. Photo 5-Elephant . Photo 6-female and make Nyala. Photo 7-Guineafowl. Photo 8-Baboon, look real close. Photo 9-Rhinoceros. Photo 10-Honey Badger.
When going on a safari one of the goals is to see “The Big Five”. It is not an easy accomplishment. But we finally achieved that goal this morning. “The Big Five” are: 1. Lioness. 2. Leopard. 3. Cape Buffalo. 4. Elephant. 5. Rhinoceros. Check out the photographs that Doug took.
Here are a few shots of the topography and vegetation. We had described it earlier. The weather here has been wonderfully tropical. The last picture is of the maid, Gladys, who tended to our room.
Later we ran into a herd of elephants. One got so close that he brushed our truck when he past. Words fail to describe the experience. Enjoy the photographs.
Later we ran into a family of Rinos walking along the road. They got very close to us on the way to a watering hole.
We are off on another morning safari drive. We came upon 2 elephants grazing and took the attached pictures. Photo 1-Another game drive. Photo 2-gnu. Photo 3 to 9-elephants.
Another early morning. Another safari game drive. Another malaria pill. These monkeys hang around the dining room. Every chance they get they run into the dining room, grab food from the tables and scurry back into a tree.

29 September 2017

Here are a few scenes from tonight’s wonderful dinner.
Continuation of late Friday game drive: Photo 1-Giraffe. Photo 2- Cape Buffalo. Photo 3-Cape Buffalo & Rhino (look closely). Photo 4-Happy Hour. Photo 5-Happy Hour. Photo 5-Sundown at Happy Hour. Photo 7-Happy Hour Maiden. Photo 8-Hippopotamus at night. Photo 9-Seen on the trail.
We went on the late afternoon game drive today on Friday, September 29. We had the same ranger and tracker as before. And, as the sun was going down, we had another Happy Hour on the trail. Photo 1-Driver and Tracker. Photo 2-Water Buck. Photo 3-Brown Snake Eagle. Photo 4-Gnu. Photo 5-Nyala. Photo 6-Hyena. Photo-7-Leopard. Photo 8-Leopard. Photo-9-Leopard. Photo 10-Vulture. The leopard is an elusive and solitary animal. Our ranger said that we were extremely fortunate to see one.
Here are a few more views of the lodge area. Look for the hippos close to the lodge’s swimming pool in the first picture. You can just see their tops eyes sticking out out of the water. The last photo shows some more of them.
During the second half of the Friday morning wildlife drive we captures the following photographs: Photo 1-Zebra. Photo 2-Zebra. Photo 3-Zebra. Photo 4-Zebra. Photo 5-Warthog. Photo 6-Gnu. Photo 7-Yellow Billed Horn Bull. Photo 8-Kudu.
After taking our daily malaria pills we departed on the Friday 6:30 a. m. game drive with Gerhard driving and Jerry tracking in photo 1. Photo 2-kudu. Photo 3-kudu. Photoc 4-giraffe. Photo 5-giraffe. Photo 6-giraffe. Photo 7-giraffe. Photo- vulture. Photo 9-hyena. After a brief break we proceeded on the second half of the game drive. This is the dry season. It has benefited us because most of the foliage has yet to appear for the season making jet easier to spot the animals in the wild.

28 September 2017

We finally returned to the lodge physically and emotionally spent. It was time for dinner. Check out the photos to see some of the exotic food that we ate tonight. It is now time for bed. We anxiously await the early morning game drive tomorrow.
As the sun was going down on this first drive the ranger pulled over. He and the tracker then set up a table with cocktails and snacks. When we were finished with our happy hour it was dark. We continued on the game drive. The tracker held a spotlight and we continued to look for animals. The attached photos illustrate all of this.
These are a very few photos of the Thursday afternoon game drive: Photo 1-Giraffe Photo 2-Termite Mound Photo 3-Rhino. Photo 4-Impala. Photo 5-Zebra. Photo 6-Lioness. Photo 7-Lioness. Photo 8-Lioness. Photo 9-Lioness. As you can see by the photos, the lion got within inches of our vehicle. Our hearts were beating in our throats because we didn’t know if the lion was going to leap into our truck and eat us or not.
We had to sign a waiver releasing the game reserve of any liability if we happened to be killed or maimed by any of the wild animals during our stay. After High Tea (photo 1) we began the afternoon game drive. We were each assigned a ranger/driver and a tracker for our time on the reserve. Our ranger was Gerhard (photo 2) and are tracker was Jeffrey (photo 3). Photo 4 shows how we were transported around the reserve. The driver obviously drove. The tracker sat on a seat attached to the front of the vehicle and looked for the animals. The next posting will show what happened during that drive.
There are 2 safari game drives a day here at the Kampala River Lodge. They are at 6:30 am and at 4:00 p.m. Those are the times of the day when the wildlife are the most active. We will be awakened at 5:30 a.m. every day. Tea and coffee will be served at 6:00 a.m. Breakfast will be served after the morning game drive. Lunch is from 1-3 p.m. High tea is at 3:30 p. m. followed by the afternoon game drive. Dinner is served at 7:30 p. m. The schedule is pretty regimented. But the rewards are outstanding. If you looked closely at the pictures of the buildings here you will notice that they all have thatched roofs. The entire lodge is encircled by an electric fence to protect the guests from the wildlife. If you are able to locate us on a map you’ll see that we are relatively close to the border with Mozambique in the northeast part of South Africa. The topography is flat. The vegetation is comprised of scattered grass and stubby trees.
And here are yet more pictures of the Kampala River Lodge.
Here are more pictures of the Kampala River Lodge. The monkey in the last photograph was sitting about 15 feet from our lunch table.
Here are photographs of our room.
Kampala River Lodge.
The lesson learned from yesterday is do NOT go on a wine/beer tour when you have to get up at 5:30 a.m. the next day. Regardless, our flight left Cape Town Airport at 9:00 this morning. We flew on an old De Havilland propeller driven plane. Our course was due north for 3 hours; roughly the distance from Cuba to New York. Eventually we landed in Hoedspruit, South Africa for our next adventure; a safari experience. The second picture is of the Hoedspruit Air Port terminal. The third is of the control tower. We were driven from Hoedspruit to our home for the next 4 Days. It is the River Lodge at the Kapama Game Reserve. Expecting not much more than a rustic cabin and primitive accommodations you can imagine our surprise when we saw what awaited us. Check out the pictures and you’ll know what we mean; VERY comfortable! There is internet available so we can continue our daily postings. The pictures of the Kampala River Lodge begin with the next entry starting with our room.

27 September 2017

Look at the hot and cold water faucets in the men’s room at the Tuk-Tuk Microbrewery. They are beer taps! Unfortunately we have to get to bed early this evening. We get up at 5:30 tomorrow morning. Our time in modern, urbanized South Africa is about to end. We be boarding a plane in the morning and heading out into the wilderness. This saga will continue. But the reliability of the internet connection will dictate when we can make the next posting. The last photo shows the “table cloth” back on Table Mountain.
The wine tour continues and has morphed into a wine/beer tour.
We are delighted that you are sharing in our travels. We also hope that your interest is piqued to the point that you go online and read more about the places that we are visiting. France and California are world famous wine producers. A little known fact to many Americans is that South Africa also produces excellent wine. Today we visited some of the many vineyards in South Africa and sampled (almost too much) of their wonderful wines. The wine industry is a massive portion of the South African economy. On the way to the wine area we passed through some of the “Townships”; shanty towns. The first two pictures are of them.

26 September 2017

The “table cloth” (clouds) was off of Table Mountain today. The winds had also died down. So we went to the top of it. The only way to get to there was by cable car. We are in awe of the geography of this part of South Africa. Our preconceived view of this place was 100% wrong. What we experienced today could just as easily have been realized on the Alps in Switzerland. You’ll understand what we mean by that when you look at the attached photos.
The top of Table Mountain was absolutely arctic. The first photo of us was taken in the cable car on the way up (happy). The second one was taken a few minutes after we got to the top (freezing)!
We drove 2 hours south of Cape Town to the Cape of Good Hope; the southwestern most part of the continent of Africa. The drive was more like a tour of the tundra. There were bare granite mountains, very few trees and the only other vegetation was growing close to the ground. Switzerland or South Africa? You can’t tell the difference. The photos will reflect that. The first photo shows the Cape of Good Hope beside Doug’s left arm. The second photo is Sue at the Cape of Good Hope. The third photo is a marker noting where the currents of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans merge. The fourth photo is of a wild ostrich grazing beside the road. The remaining ones are of the amazing landscape. Can you find the wildlife in the last photo?
Did you know that penguins live on the southern coast of the African continent? Look at these amazing photographs that we took today. The last photo is Doug wrapped in a piece of bamboo kelp.

25 September 2017

If you noticed we have been wearing jackets. Don’t be misled by the fact that we are in”Africa”. It is cool and blustery here. We still have a few more days to spend in Cape Town before heading north towards the equator. The weather will most definitely get warmer then.
Eventually burning the candle at both ends catches up with everybody. Riding a bus will do that.
We were scheduled to go up Table Mountain today. But it was cloud covered and couldn’t. The locals say “the table cloth is on” when the mountain is shrouded in clouds. Hopefully we can get to the summit tomorrow.
This is Robben Island. It is where Nelson Mandela was held prisoner for 18 years.
Here is the athletic stadium. The locals call it the “toilet bowl”.
Even though we couldn’t climb Table Mountain, we were able to get up Signal Hill. Here are some stunning views from there.
This is the Arab restaurant where we ate lunch today.
A Mosque in Cape Town.
Colorful street scenes.
Public Market.
This morning we took a guided tour of Cape Town. Attached are photos (above and below) of our guide, Muhammad, and a few of the things we saw.
Slave Lodge.
Statue of Queen Victoria.
South African Parliament.
National Public library
South African Presidential residence.
Statue of Cecil Rhoda’s; an early British colonist.

24 September 2017

We would be remiss in not mentioning Penn State’s miraculous 21-19 come from behind victory over the University of Iowa last night with 00:00 time left on the scoreboard. WE ARE...!!!
Here is the flag of South Africa and a license plate. Notice the elephant on the license plate.
Cape Town, South Africa is built between a high flat topped mountain, called Table Mountain, and the Atlantic Ocean. See the pictures above