Winding down...packing day...Recap of Madeira in photos...Tomorrow, we leave for Paris...

We reveled in a full moon over the hills of Madeira or a clear night.
Yesterday, we defrosted the freezer and cleaned the refrigerator.  Frost free is a thing of our long ago past.  And, although owners don't expect us to do major cleaning as we prepare to embark to our next location, we choose to leave the property as clean and a tidy as possible.

Tom recalls our time in Madeira as a memorable experience.

Always windy, but I loved every day in Madeira.
With most of our packing completed today, we'll be set to go first thing tomorrow morning, departing for the airport at 7 am.  With everything done in advance, we'll only need to awake by 6 am, in time to shower and dress. Unfortunately, neither of us sleep well the night before departure, more as a result of the necessity of arising early, than any anxiety about leaving. 

A typical partial day road trip resulted in driving through dozens of tunnels.
Although we'll only be in the air for only a total of four hours, our trip is an all day affair with a 2 1/2 hour layover in Lisbon and a one hour time change.  The flights arrives at Orly Airport in Paris at 5:15 pm. 

We always enjoyed when the low lying clouds and fog rolled in.
Then, we'll pick up our bags, wade through the usual long lines at immigration, and grab a cab to our hotel.  We don't expect to arrive at our hotel until 7:30 pm. 

Early on, we purchased this tuna, caught that morning, from the musical fish truck.
If time allows during our long layover in Lisbon, we may decide to eat at the airport when the last time we were there, we had a decent meal.  Getting the food out of the way will leave us time to wander about Paris for a few hours after we check in and unpack, perhaps stopping for a light meal or snack later in the evening, if we so choose.

We arrived in Madeira mid May when the flowers were in full bloom.  They were the most beautiful flowers we've seen anywhere.
We've both learned to temper our enthusiasm when heading to a new location until we actually arrive.  Traveling to Paris was for more for me than for Tom so I may be the only one of us tempering enthusiasm. But, we shall see.  I have no doubt he'll enjoy it as well.

The goats and two kids next door were a constant source of enjoyment.  Although too far to get good photos, they were close enough to always respond with a hearty "baah" whenever we sent a "baah" their way. 
As soon as I post this today, I'm heading upstairs to place all of my clothes in the Space Bags to be ready for Tom to suck out the air using the little vacuum.  Then, I'll pack the one remaining smaller suitcase with the medical supplies, toiletries and cosmetic bag, top off my large bag with odds and ends and then I'm set.

We purchased fresh organic produce from the musical truck every week during our time in Madeira.
Hopefully, our goal to be free of at least one carry on will prove to be achieved.  Tom insisted we keep my laptop bag until after we packed to ensure we didn't need it.  I think we'll be OK without using it.

Beautiful untraditional colors of vegetation.

We never ceased to enjoy the terraced gardens so typical on the island.
Our portable printer died and we tossed it.  What a piece of junk after all.  It was nothing but a hassle from the first time we used it.  Getting rid of it and its supplies rid us of a few more pounds/kilos.  We'll figure out life without a printer. 

A surprising close up of what appeared to be a blue stalk from afar.

We were amazed by the green fuzzy buds on this colorful flower.
I groaned over the necessity of having to use a piece of paper when digital is the way to go.  Certainly a copy of anything on one's smart phone should be all that anyone needs to show for any service or event.  Since we left the US, we've found less and less of a need for the requisite piece of paper required for some venues and reservations. 

We were delighted when these orchids were growing on our patio.

We squealed when we drove under a waterfall in order to continue on the road.
We'll be back tomorrow with our final post from Madeira until Friday, when we post directly from Paris.  Wow!  I love the way that sounds!

Photo from one year ago today, July 30, 2013: 

There was no post on this date one year ago when the Internet was down for the day.  Here is a photo from our trip to the walled city of Lucca, Tuscany, Italy.
In the walled city of Lucca, there were numerous interesting historic buildings most remaining in excellent condition.

Final total costs for 77 days in Madeira...A year ago...the walled city of Lucca, Italy...Two more days until departure...

While on foot we spotted this waterfall.
Finally, we have the tally of our total expenses for the 77 days we've lived on the island of Madeira, Portugal. The grand total includes the following expenses:
  • Rent
  • Airfare from Marrakech, Morocco to Madeira Portugal including excess baggage fees
  • Car rental, fuel
  • Entertainment
  • Restaurants (including tax and tips)
  • Groceries including laundry soap, cleaning supplies, paper products, toiletries purchased at market
  • Housecleaning service and tips
  • Parking fees
  • Shipping fees (for package we received)
The grand total:    $10,720.51, EU $7,978.77
Monthly average:  $  4,234.83, EU $3,151.78
Daily Average:      $     139.23, EU $   103.62
We walked through this short tunnel to reach the ocean at the other end as shown in these other photos.
With respect for the property owners we don't post the rental amount unless we've paid close to the asking price.  Living in vacation rentals for these extended periods often enables us to negotiate a rent considerably lower than the price posted on the owner's listing.  If we were to post these prices, other future short term renters may expect these lower prices. 

Nothing is as mesmerizing as the sea.
If anyone is interested in the rental amount for the extended period in Madeira, please contact me directly at:  For short term rentals, please refer to Gina's listing at Homeaway by clicking here

Two small waterfalls flow from the rocks in a natural rock wall.
Not surprisingly, the cost for the rental car was almost as much as the rent.   Undoubtedly, we could have easily saved quite a bit if we'd used a taxi three or four times a week.  In this case, the freedom  of coming at going at our leisure proved to be worthwhile.

Clouds rolling in.
We don't always rent a car.  At times, it makes more sense to use taxis or public transportation, especially when we're walking distance to restaurants and markets.  In Paris and London, public transportation will be outside the door of the hotel making getting around easy from what we can determine so far.

At times, the clouds appear as if they were smoke.  At times, there is smoke wafting through the hills when residents are allowed to burn off their terraced gardens.
Food costs, including dining in restaurants, can be high depending on the country as was the case here in Madeira.

Our total food costs while in Madeira including dining out:
Grand total:          US $2,329.60, EU $1,733.81
Monthly Average:  US $   920.23, EU $   684.88
Daily Average:      US $     30.25, EU $     22.51

These giant cement forms are used to some areas to protect the beaches.
We're pleased with the totals especially since early on we determined that dining out was too expensive to do regularly.  As a result, knowing we'd be dining out for months to come, we opted to eat in after spending US $65 to US $70, EU $49 to  EU $52 for each of the three times we dined out, although the food was excellent.

The preformed cement blocks aren't attractive but serve a useful purpose.
When one is constantly traveling and with my restrictive diet, dining out is not as huge a treat as one may expect.  Although it will necessary to dine out until after mid October and surely we'll experience amazing food, we always find our home cooked meals to be the most rewarding.  There's something appealing about spending 25% of the cost of dining out in order to dine in. 

In Ribeira Brava we walked through a tunnel to an area where local residents anchor their personal watercraft.
Today, we'll finish up the laundry, pack the smaller bags and I'll do my manicure and pedicure.  With excellent leftover pizza to pop into the oven, cooking will be at a minimum today and tomorrow when all I have to do is prepare is a salad and bake the already put together uncooked pizza, ready for the oven.
In Ribeira Brava we wander into a needlepoint and craft shop finding a new zippered bag as a carry on for our prescriptions and vitamins when the handle on the old bag broke.
The more often we move, the quicker and more organized we become as departure time approaches. Also, the lightened load is a huge factor in making the task relatively easy.

Back tomorrow with updates as we wind down our final photos.  Happy day to all!
Photo from one year ago today, July 29, 2913:

A year ago today on a very rainy day, we visited the walled city of Lucca.  Once inside, we dashed through the city in the rain to see as much as we could, stopping to look at this clock, The Pretorio Palace Clock.  For many more photos of the walled city, please click here.

Check out my small pile of clothes to pack! I've come a long way...Coming costs for 77 days in Madeira...Three days and counting...

The is my measly pile of clothing, keeping in mind this includes not only all my everyday wear but, also two Scottevest jackets, three remaining bathing suits, two sets of Bugsaway clothing including three hats and three small handbags.
Yesterday, I decided to get a handle on how much I have to pack.  We'd received a package with new clothing for me while in Madeira with two pairs of jeans, three tee shirts and three skirts to add to my worn and dwindling wardrobe.

Over these past months, I diligently made a pile of clothes including pajamas and swimwear that I decided had to go, to not only replace the weight of the new items but, also reduce the overall weight of my luggage. 

Another view of my tiny pile of clothing which also includes three belts, three long cotton tee shirt dresses that I wear to bed when its cool, three pairs of jeans, one pair of capris, one pair of shorts and a dozen tee shirts.  My few items of underwear are at the bottom of this pile.
A few weeks ago I handed off the accumulated pile to Gina and her daughter hoping they'd find a few things they'd like, donating the remainder. Getting those items out of sight really helped.  No longer would I riffle through them, reconsidering one item or another.  Now that they're gone I don't give them a thought.  How quickly we forget "things" once we decide to let them go. 

I learned this lesson well when we sold all of our "treasured belongings" before leaving Minnesota almost two years ago.  I cried when I saw my favorite household goods being walked down the road during the estate sale, a happy purchaser enthralled with their "good deal." 

This is it folks, all the shoes I own, a paltry six pairs.  I don't recall ever having so few shoes since I was a kid when I got one new pair of Buster Browns once a year.  Bring back memories?
Once we boarded our first of eight cruises on January 3, 2013, I've never given any of those items a thought.  It was just "stuff."  I felt free.  I felt liberated from the constraints and responsibility that go with owning stuff. 

It was only a few days ago that Tom and I spoke of how we can't imagine ever owning a sofa or a dining room table and chairs.  One never knows. But, at this point its far removed from our reality.

We spotted this circle in the ocean a few days ago, curious as to its origin.
Yesterday, when I made these piles of clothes and shoes as shown in these photos which include every wearable item in my repertoire except a small bag of costume jewelry, I smiled, kind of proud of myself. 

In my old life, at times I'd feel a sense of accomplishment when I'd revel in the things we had acquired from years of searching for the perfect addition to our home and lives, content with what we "had."  Now, I feel a sense of accomplishment for the things I don't have.  What a turn around!  See, we can "teach an old dog new tricks!"

We wondered if that circle was made by the freighter or by some other phenomenon.  Why would a freighter go around in a circle?
My pile of clothing is small enough that I no longer need to use the Space Bags with the little vacuum sucking out the air.  We've may decide to use the bags  anyway for security, making it less likely someone would break the seal and steal something.  Or, we may not.

Tom has yet to organize his stuff so we'll see how that goes.  I believe at this point he has more stuff than I do.  We shall see on Wednesday when we pack.
Late blooming Bird of Paradise, aptly named.
Its hard for me to believe that I own only six pairs of shoes; one pair of water shoes, two pairs leather Keds, two pairs of sandals and one pair of boots I refuse to ever part with, after having them custom fitted back in Minnesota when they were too wide for my calves. 

Besides, we'll need our boots for Iceland and the Outback in Australia along with our BugsAway clothing (which is also shown in my pile of stuff) when the mosquitoes and flies are fierce in Australia, New Zealand and on the islands in the South Pacific. 

We never got enough of the clouds rolling in over the hills.  Each time it occurred we watched from the veranda in awe of the beauty.
Actually, other than a few desert climates we've visited in the US such as Nevada and Arizona, flying and biting insects are everywhere we've traveled. While in Africa I decided that I wasn't letting my sensitivity to being bit have a bearing on where we'd travel in the future. 

As soon as we post this, we're off for our last short road trip when we'll take a few photos, stop at the supermarket and say goodbye to the "downtown" we've enjoyed over these past months, the seaside village of Ribeira Brava.

Our neighbors were harvesting some of the treasures from their garden.
Yesterday, as mentioned, I began the process of going back to the beginning of our first post and editing the many errors that remained, some my typos and others due to internet connectivity issues.  I got through the first 11 posts.  It will take several months to complete this daunting task when either we won't have time or we'll be cruising when Internet rates are too high for such a time consuming project.

We have a fun post already prepared for Thursday, our travel day, which we'll publish shortly before we leave the house to go to the airport.  Doing so, we won't miss a day!

Photo from one year ago today, July 28, 2013:
Summer was in full bloom in Tuscany.  On this date a year ago, we booked our tickets for Kenya, a little disgruntled that we couldn't choose our seats online for the very long flight.  For details, please click here.

Annual celebration in Campanario...videos and photos...daylight fireworks...Four days until departure....

We took these two videos around 1:00 pm on Saturday as the cloud rolled in and the sound of the fireworks reverberated through the hills.
It was fun to see the results of the shooting fireworks in the hills of Campanario as the town prepared to celebrate the religious holiday, Festa do Santíssimo Sagramento.

Driving in Campanario at different times during this past week, we've noticed areas where street lamps were decorated and colorful banners draped across the roads near the church. 
Busy preparations surrounded the church in Campanario as workers rushed to get the decorations in place for Saturday's religious festivities.
The closer we drove to the local Catholic church, it was obvious some type of celebration was on the horizon.  I had little luck finding out information about the celebration online, finally sending Gina an email for an answer.

She responded in her most endearing broken English that last night was the annual "Festa do Santíssimo Sagramento," (feast of the blessed bleeding) also known as "Festa do Senhor Jesus" (feast of the Lord Jesus).  

Workers decorated archways over the road consisting of evergreen branches.
With the lack of parking in the area around the church, it was evident that the only way to partake in the festivities would be to have someone drop us off or walk the very long distance from our house to the church with trips through a long tunnel each way, not an ideal spot for walking. 

Instead, we opted to watch from our veranda as much as we'd be able to hear and see.  We found this website that list all the religious celebrations in Madeira, of which there are many throughout the year.

These roads leading to the were decorated with lights and garland.
As we wind down our time in Madeira, we find ourselves comfortable staying in except for an occasional trip to the supermarket or the little grocer. As of today, we'll have consumed the last of the meat in the freezer leaving us with a choice of dining out or having one last favorite meal over the next three nights.

With no opportunity to cook for the upcoming 77 days of travel, we've decided to make our favorite dinner, the usual gluten and starch free, low carb pizza one last time, cooking it fresh over the next three nights as opposed to cooking it all at once and reheating it. 

Local citizens mulling around the area chatting and smoking amid the workers preparing for the big event.
With a quick trip to the supermarket tomorrow for a few remaining ingredients to be added to the several ingredients we already have on hand, we'll be set for meals until we leave early Thursday morning.

Had we gone to the feast, there would have been few, if any, items I could have had when starch, flour and sugar are commonly used in many popular Portuguese dishes. 

As we drove away from the church we spotted these flowers.
In these past three years, I haven't made one exception in my diet, not a single bite. I'm not about to start faltering now when its my good health that has made our travels possible. 

Today, a warm sunny day, will draw me outdoors for another walk up the steep hill. With a slight touch of melancholy as I huff and puff my way up the hill, I'll accept that we'll soon say goodbye to this beautiful island of Madeira, Portugal as we make our way to our next adventure.

Photo from one year ago today, July 27, 2013:

Lisa and Lucca, owners of the 300 year old stone house in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, stapled cloth netting to cover a few of the windows to reduce the number of flies entering the house.  It was hot and we couldn't keep the windows shut for another day.  The wind blew the fabric from the three windows they'd covered and only a few days later, we had biting flies in the house again. I resorted to wearing my BugsAway long pants and long sleeve shirt to keep from getting bit when I couldn't find any insect repellent at any of the stores.  For details from that date, please click here.

Five days until departure...Remembering "staycations"...No dreaded Wednesdays...A year ago, thoughtful slices...

Nothing like a view from the veranda at dusk.
Last night, as we have every night, we took a few minutes to embrace our surroundings while on the veranda.  Soon, this view will be lost to us replaced by other views I'm sure we'll find appealing. 

A summer rose.
It's ironic how we become attached to our surroundings for these relatively short periods of two to three months.  Even Marrakech, Morocco, although not our favorite place to live, had its charm and appeal.  I think of it often remembering every minute detail, especially the household staff.

Low lying clouds are a common occurrence on the island of Madeira.
We're both grateful that we have these posts to aid us in retaining the memory of places we've lived and experiences we've had.  For me, writing them, imprints them into my memory in a way no other experiences have been remembered in my past.

A local man we encountered on the road explained that these are fishing nets.  He spoke no English but we were able to decipher a little of what he was saying.
Add the constant awareness of photo taking opportunities and my memory acuity astounds me.  Oddly, we can almost recount day after day from as far back as to our first foray into living outside the US in Belize so long ago. 

A unusual plant we spotted on a drive.
When in doubt of an occurrence that may have escaped us, we need only search the archives to have the story retold in words and photos bringing every thought and feeling to the forefront to become more thoroughly locked in place than ever.

I wonder how I ever traveled in my old life without documenting my experiences.  I only recall snippets of days and nights with memories of a few poorly taken photos now tucked away in a plastic tote at son Richard's home in Las Vegas, along with a zillion other photos of a life lived long ago.

Lush greenery, blue skies and the sea create a colorful scene.
Tom and I took few vacations in our old lives, one to Aruba with friends, a few business related trips, a weekend here and there.  So content were we with our lives at our lake home that we had no sense of wanderlust, no desire to pack, to fly, to feel cramped in a hotel room. 

The clouds rolling in over an older neighborhood.
Most of our vacations were the now referred to as "staycations" where people stay home for a week or two leaving work behind, ultimately ending up working at home on maintenance related tasks interspersed with entertaining friends and family. 

In reality, "staycations" were often exhausting, although rewarding and fun and we didn't mind going back to work when it was over.  Not the same dread one feels when "going away" on a vacation with the thought of soon having to return home.

Another reason we didn't like to travel was directly related to the dread of the vacation soon being over which usually occurred in a big way by about the Wednesday before departure.

Rooftops, power lines and terraced hills are a common sight.
Years ago, I recall telling Tom, long before we decided to travel the world, that I wonder what it would be like to go somewhere never having the dread of leaving.  And, I wondered, what would that "look" like?  Would one go to an island resort and stay forever?  It was an impossible scenario warranting little further thought.

And now, here we are, doing exactly what I'd imagined was impossible...never dreading a Wednesday, knowing that we never had to go home to unpack, never having to sort through the piles of mail from the overstuffed mail box, never having to plow snow piled high in the driveway and never having spoiled food in the refrigerator. 

Banana leaves along the road.
No, we don't jump for joy each day of our lives on this seeming perpetual vacation.  In a very short time, we came to realize that these are the "days of our lives," at times quiet and uneventful, at times filled with tasks and responsibility.

At other times, it's filled with awe and wonder as to how in the world did we ever manage to "get here" and get past all of the painful tasks of unloading our lives of stuff and saying goodbye to those we love, who never believed we'd actually do it, nor expect we'd stay "out there" as long as we have. 

With few homes having clothes dryers, railings on verandas become clothes lines.
The passion to continue on, continues on, surprising even us at times.  Last night as we stood on the veranda, in awe of the view, arms wrapped around one another, we knew that wherever we may be, there will always be a view.

And, although we'll always remember this particular view, a new one will soon appear in its place and once again, dear readers, we'll be home.

Photo from one year ago today, July 26, 2013:

Santina, our lovely cleaning person in Boveglio, had brought us a plate of these three delicious looking pie pieces. Tom, with his picky taste buds didn't find them to be as delicious as they looked.  I know I would have loved them if I'd been able to eat them.  The remainder of our post on that day was describing how we purchase refills for our few prescriptions from a reputable A+ rated by Better Business Bureau, online pharmacy.  Check out the post here for more details.