Showing posts with label Travel Photo Thursday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel Photo Thursday. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Marking time on The Red Sea

Having left Jordan a few hours early last night it seemed we had a bit of time to kill this morning so we cruised in circles on the Red Sea for a period of time before entering the Gulf of Suez.

We will transit the 120-mile (193.3kilometer) Suez Canal on Thursday; a journey of some 11 to 16 hours. You don't just sail through - you fall in line and await your turn.

The anticipation is so strong it fills the atmosphere on our Oceania Nautica. And again I am reminded that each time I say 'it doesn't get any better' the next day proves it does!

Egyptian desert
Speaking of days, we are at Day 29 of this cruise that seemed it would last 'forever' when we boarded four weeks ago in Bangkok, Thailand. We are less than a week away from the end of this magical adventure aboard this small ship that has become our world.  We've followed ancient Spice Routes and crossed the desert that Lawrence of Arabia made famous and still have yet to visit the Holy Land, Turkey and Greece.

"Where did the time go?" we've all been asking as we reluctantly talk of our plans for after the cruise.

This 35-night cruise, that sailed from Bangkok with a final destination of Istanbul, Turkey, actually began for some  in Tokyo, Japan. They will have sailed for more than 60 days at the trip's end. Several others are staying on the ship and sailing the next segment to Lisbon, Portugal before disembarking.

We, as you regulars here know, will 'jump ship early' in Rhodes and head to The Stone House on the Hill, AKA our place in Greece.

Aqaba, Jordan
While our ports of call have been an overwhelming and memorable kaleidoscope of cultures, religions, sights, sounds and smells, that have filled our heads and our hearts to the point of bursting; we've also been enriched by the people we've met on the cruise ship. Many of whom have become friends (and travel inspirations) with whom we plan to stay in touch after our floating world disbands and we all head to different points in the world.

"I love these people on this ship," said Ruth- a fellow passenger- one night, "they understand me and my love of travel - sometimes people back home don't." This live-wire who lives in the United States had recently spent four weeks in Israel.

Peter and Wendy - Luxor, Egypt
The people we've met ARE travelers - some who make us look like old stay-at-homes by comparison. One couple we've befriended is busy working on Chinese visas to be ready for another OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) trip that will start soon after the cruise ends.  They plan a return to Cairo after disembarking in Istanbul. Many of our fellow cruisers are also regular OAT (land-based tours) travelers.

An English couple spent two nights at the same hotel in Yangon, Myanmar where we stayed . . .the old historic Strand Hotel (a place I'll tell you more about when internet allows for a few more photos). We simply researched hotels and booked them while aboard the ship. During a ride in to Phuket we discovered we were heading the same direction at the next port-of-call so we shared a taxi  and had two fabulous days in Yangon.

Departing Aqaba, Jordan
Oceania Cruise Lines has been superb about allowing enough nights in certain ports of call for such independent adventures. The ship also has offered some overnight packages, but welcomes the independent traveler as well. For example:

     *One group of independent travelers went from our port of call, Safaga, to Cairo, Egypt and
      spent time there, rejoining the ship a few days later in Aqaba, Jordan.

      *Several left the ship in Cochin, India and flew to the Taj Mahal, then rejoined the ship in
       Mumbai. Some went on a ship's tour and others planned their own.

We've participated in a mix of ship's tours and those we've booked on our own. While the ship's tours have been good, following a tour-guide's umbrella down the street like ducklings just doesn't compare to the thrill of the two of us climbing into a beat-up pickup driven by a Bedouin guide and setting out through the roadless sands of the Wada Rum - the vast desert you may recall from the movie Lawrence of Arabia.

This may be our favorite cruise routing ever and we'd do it again in a nanosecond, but even better, we've convinced ourselves that overland travel in Egypt and Jordan are possible. We are beginning the plans to return . . .

Thanks for joining us as our journey continues.  We appreciate your time, the wonderful comments you've left and your good wishes.  When I get back to internet land, I'll show you more photos of this amazing part of the world ~ you may not hear from us again until we reach Greece, where there may or may not be internet for a few weeks! Rest assured. We are well. We are happy. Hope you are, too!

Linking this week:
Travel Photo Thursday
Weekend Travel Inspirations

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Mani ~ The Greek Land of the Towers

From our room in the hotel on the hill in Kardamyli we looked out over the old town’s church and war tower. The two structures are prominent remains of the Troupakis Complex that dates back to the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
Legend has it that the family known as Troupakis were refugees from  Mystra (ancient inland city) when it fell to the Turks in 1461. The family lived in caves (called ‘troupas’ – thus their name) in the Taygetos Mountains behind Kardamyli before arriving here and building the family complex – now a treasured part of history.
The complex was a mesmerizing sight whether in the early morning sun, the mid-day’s blaze or in the evening shadows. The morning our summer sojourn in Greece came to an end, I took this photo from our deck.

I wanted to remember that tower the way it looked in that July’s morning sun.

I wanted to remember this enchanting history-laden Land of the Towers.

Troupakis Complex - Kardamyli, Greece
The Mani – in the north called the ‘Outer Mani’ and in the south the ‘Deep Mani’ – located in the southern part of the Peloponnese peninsula is the home of ancient towers. (Lovers of Italy’s San Gimignano’s towers in Tuscany would go nuts here!)


DSCF8282A drive through The Mani (the area is only four hours from Athens via freeway) takes one from olive grove-covered hills and gorges to barren, windswept hillsides on a narrow, lightly-traveled roadway.

You don’t travel far before spotting a tower on a far-away hill or in the midst of villages.

Often times the road slices through stone villages, the old stone buildings so close you could reach out and touch the walls.

A road trip here is guaranteed to offer surprises. Sometimes goats or cattle in the middle of the road, or stone tower towns so picture-perfect they simply don’t seem real.

Deep Mani Tower Town - Peloponnese
The towers played an important role in this area’s turbulent history. Some freestanding towers were built as village’s war towers and others served as both homes (in the lower level) and a tower for defense in the upper levels. First used when the Turks invaded; later they were used as local clans fought against each other.

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Even today homes built here are constructed using the area’s stone. And some, (like the middle photo above and to the right below illustrate) are being built incorporating the tower design of old.

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Old Tower on the left, new homes on the right
Towers, towers everywhere and most are well preserved.  Standing in the Troupakis Complex (which is a museum area now) in Kardamyli, I took the photo below back towards our hotel on the hill and yet another the tower just behind it. There was a time this harbor town served as Sparta's port.

Troupakis Complex - Kardamyli

The Mani – a part of the Peloponnese peninsula which is generally thought of as mainland Greece and separated by the narrow width of the Corinth Canal.

There’s a modern divided freeway between the Athens Airport and Kalamata. From Kalamata the state road becomes a two-lane paved roadway. 

There are seasonal flights from various gateways in Europe to the Kalamata Airport and rental cars are available there as well as Athens.

I’ve mentioned ‘that hotel on the hill’ several times in recent posts. It became our home away from home this past summer and soon I’ll introduce you to the people who run it and our travel lifestyle there. Until then, we thank you for the time you spent with us and hope you enjoyed today’s journey. 

Happy – and safe - travels until we are together again ~

Joining in the fun at:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Travelers Sandbox
Weekend Travel Inspiration - Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening
Travel Photo Monday - Travel Photo Discovery

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ukraine: When Travel brings Headlines Home

Travel not only makes the world feel smaller, it also brings the headlines home.  And with this week’s headlines, we are taking a brief break from our Hawaiian tales, to take you with us on a trip down our travel memory lane:

Back to Sevastopol, Ukraine.

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It has been three years since a Black Sea cruise introduced us to  Sevastopol, the city established in 1783 by Catherine II after Russia gained control of the region.

We spent but a few hours in this port city that figured prominently in the Crimean War (1854-55) and the Bolshvik Revolution.

Those few hours were far long enough, we had thought back then. 

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It was autumn. An incessant rain fell from a leaden sky. The sky and sea the same gun metal gray as the military ships docked not far from our pleasure craft.

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But have you ever found in your travels, there are a few places you visit - if even ever so briefly- that leave a  hauntingly vivid memory ~ the kind that keeps details alive in your brain and your soul? Sevastopol was such a stop for us.

As most of you know by now, we prefer to set off on our own to explore our cruise ports of call and this stop was no different.  We saw the usual ubiquitous influences of the Western World. . .

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They were ‘lovin’ it’ at McDonald’s and this hotel, (pictured below) the Best Western Hotel Sevastopol, was housed in a stunning building.

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We didn’t walk very far from the well-groomed flower beds of the park to find ourselves on  real neighborhood streets.

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It was the emptiness of the streets and the people,or the small numbers of them, we encountered that created the most vivid memories.  The rain perhaps kept people inside, but it was those few people we encountered that we we won’t forget.

PicMonkey Collage

As we approached one trio I commented to The Scout that they had been staring at us – the hard penetrating kind, not the curiosity gaze - from the moment we came into view.  As we neared them, I smiled and they raised their eyes, focusing on some far distant spot over our shoulders; as if we’d ceased to exist.

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Another trio stood talking on the sidewalk outside this church – until I paused to take photos of the façade. They quickly disbanded. (I took this photo to capture the bullet holes that you see in the upper right hand corner.)

PicMonkey Collage

In watching the news this week, I think back to the somewhat Pollyanna-like observation I made to The Scout as we walked back to the ship, “Gee, these people aren’t very friendly. They don’t even make eye contact or smile at us.”

To which he replied, “Think of their past.” 

Today, I wonder if it perhaps it wasn’t the past, but their present and future that caused their behavior?

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The last photo I took of our stop in Sevastopol was of the submarine off our side as we set sail.

Have any of your travels brought headlines home? Or did some place send you home with hauntingly detailed memories of it?

We’ll be back soon with more tropical tales for you. We appreciate your time and interest and would love to hear from you. And please come back again soon! 

Linking up:
Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Travel: It is not about ‘What you saw. . .’

January is that time of year when travel bloggers tend to write of their previous year’s journeys and start verbalizing their plans for upcoming adventures. 

It is a time for us to put into words the daydreams that will ultimately lead to new travel plans. Yet, moving to the next adventure can’t really be done without a backward glance or two. . . and a bit of introspection. 

This last year we were again reminded that travel isn’t so much about ‘what you saw’ but ‘how you’ve changed’ as a result of your experiences. 

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Musician in Pape'eti, Tahiti with traditional Maori body tattoos
Travel can rock your established, comfortable – albeit, routine – world, just by the smallest unforgettable glimpse of a new culture or land as did our brief series of stops in French Polynesia.

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A dining experience not to miss in Pape'ete, Tahiti

Once you’ve experienced the ‘different’ - smells, colors, people, food, music, religion, culture – you find that upon your return home you are different as well . . .

You’ve been reminded of  your insignificance as you sail across vast stretches of ocean. . .

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Setting Sail from Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
Your mind has been exercised.  Stretching just a bit further each time you travel keeps the brain questing for even more adventure and stimulation. . .

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A view of Chora Sfakia, Crete
Your soul has basked in the beauty of remoteness.  . .

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Tahiti, French Polynesia

You’ve experienced worlds that once you had only imagined. . .

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Auckland, New Zealand
And after you’ve been home a few days that unmistakable restlessness starts prickling your senses.  You no longer question whether you travel too much and you know it is time to start putting those daydreams into action. . .

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Tahiti's Black Sand Beaches 

Where will your adventures take you this year?  How has travel changed you?  We look forward to reading your thoughts and plans. Tell us by adding a comment below or send us an email! 

Our wishes for Happy Travels and Happy New Year!

We are linking up with:
Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday
The Tablescrapers’ Oh The Places I have Been

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Simply ‘Feelin’ Groovy’ in Scottsdale

It never fails. There comes a time – usually as each of our trips is drawing to a close -- that we want to shout, “Slow down, you move too fast!” It is happening again this week in Arizona.

With only a few days left in Scottsdale  Simon and Garfunkel’s “59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” seems to say it best. . .

“Slow down, you move too fast; gotta make the mornin’ last

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Daybreak - 6 a.m.
Just kickin’ down the cobblestones

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Old Scottsdale - Art Walk
Lookin’ for fun and feelin’ groovy. . .

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Hello lamppost, what’s cha knowin’?

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I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’.

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Prickly Pear Cactus Blooms

Ain’t cha got no rhymes for me?

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Kaleidoscope planter
Do-it-do-do, feelin’ groovy. . .

~~~~   ~~~~ ~~~~
I’ve got no deeds to do, no promises to keep

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I am dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep

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Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.

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Life I love you, all is groovy!”

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That’s it for this Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox and Oh,The Places I have Been Friday at The Tablescraper. Click the link to each of those sites for some great armchair travel!

Note: ‘59th Street Bridge’ is the colloquial name of New York City’s Queensboro Bridge. If you’ve never heard them sing the song, click this link:YouTube. Guarantee it will make you smile!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gratitude ~ For that Woman in Seat 6D

November seems the month in which blog and FB posts focus on gratitude and thankfulness.  So, let me tell you about my seatmate on an Alaska Airlines flight to Las Vegas last Sunday. . .

She was seated in the bulk head row aisle seat  by the time we reached it. Ours were window and middle. Reaching down she moved her legs back and said, “I’d stand. . .but I can’t.”

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New York New York and Excalibur Casinos - Las Vegas

Plenty of room to get in, we assured her, as we stepped over and around and settled in. We often sit in the bit-more-spacious row with seats designated for ‘handicapped’ (and secondarily, frequent fliers) but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to chat with a person who needed the seat for its real purpose. ( I can assure you while this lady may have been ‘differently-abled’ she was by no means ‘handicapped’ in mind or spirit.)

IMG_20130926_184516_633The flight attendant stood next to Seat 6D as she demonstrated the safety procedures and escape routes. 

As she pointed to the track lighting that would lead us to an emergency exit, I started pondering  how the lady next to me would ever get to an emergency exit. 

Then a more disturbing question surfaced:

(Would we step over her  to save ourselves or would we take her under our care?  Hmm. . .now that is one about which one must do some soul-searching. . .)

She and I began the usual in-air visiting when she complimented my sandals,

“Oh they are Clark’s Bendables and they weigh almost nothing,” I said taking one off, handing it to her, “They are great . . .(for walking.)” I’d almost foolishly added.

As our conversation continued she told me she’d contracted polio 35 years ago – from the vaccine intended to keep her from getting the crippling disease.  But she didn’t dwell on that, instead we talked travel:


She loved Istanbul and her travels in Turkey. The people there were so kind, she said.

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Street scene - Kotor, Montenegro
But those cobblestone streets in old European cities can be difficult to navigate – but she smiled as she added, “it can be done if you are determined.”

“Cruises are getting better now – in the sense of accessibility – they used to have handicapped rooms that had a lip on the bathroom doorway entrance making it difficult to navigate in a wheelchair – they’ve remedied that now.”

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Our room - Scottsdale Four Seasons - I'd not considered the bed's height before
But beds on land and sea can be difficult. “They make them so tall now” she commented, again grinning she added, “It’s good the sheets are tucked in tightly - I sometimes have to use them as a rope and pull myself up and into bed.”

Cappuccino - Papeete, Tahiti
She passed when the beverage cart came by – while we quickly downed our much-needed early morning coffee. 

Later, she told me the first thing she planned to do upon reaching her hotel was to order a huge cup of coffee.

“ I love my coffee but it goes right through me, though, so I don’t dare order it on a plane,” she explained.

As the plane arrived at the gate, she reached down and pulled her legs back and said, “You climb out over me. I’ll be the last one off.”

I never asked her name, but that really doesn’t matter because I’ll never take another trip without thinking of the Lady in Seat 6D.

When I complain of having walked too much or why we didn’t get that second cup of coffee or when I think the mattress is too hard – I will remember and then be thankful for that brief time I spent with the Lady in Seat 6D and oh, so grateful, that The Scout and I are able to travel as we do.

That’s it for Travel Photo Thursday, head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos and armchair travel.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Twilight Time ~ Golden Moments

We were reminded after arriving in Honolulu last week, just how magical twilight time can be in the tropics. Pour yourself a libation and enjoy the sun set with us. . .

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Would we see the ‘green flash’ associated with that moment when the sun sinks completely from view?

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We didn’t ever see the green, but with golden moments like these, we really didn’t need to see it, did we?

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That’s it for this Travel Photo Thursday. As we continue our travels through the South Pacific, hope you’ll return soon. And head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more travel photos today.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Walk in the Park

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth. . .
                         --A Road Not Taken, Robert Frost

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Should we or shouldn’t we? 

While driving around the town of Tofino on Canada’s Vancouver Island we happened upon Tonquin Park. “Want to stop or just keep driving?” – our own version of Robert Frost’s poem.  We are glad we stopped – it was one of the high points of our road trip.
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We followed a winding boardwalk through this nature preserve.

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Past the remains of an earlier boardwalk, we wound our way through the emerald growth, all the while wondering where we were headed. Then down some 75 steps and our destination spread out before us:

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Tonquin Beach, a small beach in comparison to others that line the western coast of Vancouver Island, was washed in sunlight and small wonders . . .like the clusters of starfish we found sunning themselves on rock outcroppings. . .

PicMonkey Collage

. . .with glorious views. . .

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And wonderful curiosities like those below that closed and opened with a gentle touch of the toe. . .

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Our stop was a good reminder to slow down the travels and take those ‘other roads’ when given the opportunity. . .

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IF YOU GO:  Tonquin Park: Located on Tonquin Park Road, free parking lot. No permits required.  There are no disability accommodations – the last step is a big one.  For the hikers out there, other trails lead from the beach. 

In researching the park after our return I found it has a rather violent history.  Well, the ship for which it is named had a violent history. For a more detailed story of the sinking of the Tonquin, click on  this link.

That’s it for Travel Photo Thursday, so head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos.  This week we begin our South Pacific adventures so hope you’ll come back often – we’ll be writing from somewhere on the Pacific Ocean en route to Oceania. . and for those of you regulars, we arrived in Honolulu on Tuesday evening. We board the cruise ship on Friday - hope you'll set sail with us then. . .I've been posting to FB for those of you following our TravelnWrite page there.


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