Our 7 year travel anniversary is today!...It seems s long ago...

Due to WiFi issues while in port today, we are unable to upload any photos.  We will be back out to sea tomorrow and should have a better signal at that time.  Thanks for your patience.


Seven years.  It went quickly, more quickly than we ever imagined. When we started in 2012, we had no idea we'd still be traveling all these years later.  After selling everything we owned, which was a huge commitment to stay on this path for the long haul, this in itself presented a huge degree of dedication.

It would have been ridiculous to only stay gone a year or two and then try to rebuild an entirely new life living in a condo somewhere in or outside of the US.  The thought of having to buy furniture and household goods made us cringe then and still does today. 

Is it inevitable that we'll eventually have to stop traveling? Sure. At some point, we'll no longer have the health or stamina to continue on. At this point, we prefer not to have to think about that.

We realize now, that in the worst of circumstances, short of one of us eventually losing our "leasehold" on life, we won't be able to haul one more heavy piece of luggage, sail on one more cruise ship, or fly on one more plane in a cramped seat. Those days will come.

But, now, after our big scare in February, we're all the more determined than ever to continue on.  There is so much more, we've yet to explore.  In reality, we haven't even put a dent in it with so much more ahead of us.

Today, we revel in this special day, our seventh anniversary of total freedom to live life on our terms, where, when and how we'd like based on the hopefulness of maintaining good health, a sense of well being and ongoing financial security.

Each of these conditions requires a degree of mindfulness and effort but we do so with the utmost enthusiasm and zest for life. We each easily possess these qualities as we make our way through each and every day.

And today, we'll celebrate this seventh anniversary in style...spending a leisurely day on the ship, preferring not to get off the ship in New York when its pouring rain, cold and cloudy.

Had we made plans they may have been dashed due to the unexpected hours-long US immigration process. With happy-hour and tonight's specialty dining reservation to celebrate our anniversary, we'd have had little time in the traffic-congested city to do much of anything.

Easily we avoid disembarking when we know full well, that eventually, we'll travel the US when most certainly New York will be included in that itinerary.  Also, I've visited New York many times over the years and am not chomping at the bit to get out on this cloudy rainy day nor am I enthusiastic to tackle a tremendous amount of walking at this point.

Tomorrow, we'll share photos from tonight's activities and special dinner. 

Happy day!
____________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2018:
An orange-breasted roller.  For more photos, please click here.

Less than 24 hours until we're on US soil as we celebrate life after 7 years of world travel....

Bartenders performing tricks at the Ice Bar.
It's hard for us to fathom the idea that tomorrow on Halloween, October 31st, we'll be stepping foot on US soil for the first time in 2 years, 3 months, which coincidentally, will be the seven-year anniversary of the day we left Minnesota to begin our world travels.
For us, it's a momentous day for many reasons including the harsh reality of the struggles we experienced in the past year with the necessity of my having the triple coronary bypass surgery in February and the subsequent slow recovery.

Many often asked us, "What will you do if something bad happens?"  
Passengers learning dance steps in the Centrum.
We have no home, no place to land, no belongings to settle into should such a situation arise. At the times of such questions, we've always replied, "We'll figure it out."

And...we did.  We figured it out and, here we are 8½ months later with me feeling well, albeit a little terrified at times when thinking about what transpired after being in the operating room four times in six weeks.

But, we must continue to face another harsh reality...that there's no guaranty that I will be OK in the long run. Then again, no one has such a guaranty. Life doesn't come with warranties and return policies.  

We "get what we get" and none of us are exempt from those unpredictable situations whereby our lives are turned upside down by a single event. For now, we survived and for this, we are more grateful than words can express here in a post written with the utmost of candor and vulnerability.
Dancer training passengers to perform dance steps.
We often surprise ourselves by how well we survived this trauma, how well we, as a couple, came out on the other side. Here we are on a cruise ship on its way back to the USA to see family and friends and to be reminded so close to this anniversary of how delicate life can be.

Playfully, we're enjoying every moment of this cruise, often finding ourselves laughing, dancing, and reminiscing over how much we've gained, how much we've learned and how we've survived these fascinating, exciting and dangerous past seven years.

The future? Who knows? None of us knows. None of us can state emphatically that we'll continue on any path we've chosen for the past years, months or even days. Life will always be uncertain.

Tomorrow, our ship arrives in New York City. At this point, we may or may not get off the ship. Halloween festivities will create more traffic, more tourists, more hustle and bustle that at this point neither of us are much interesting in exploring.
The participants are having a great time learning dance steps.
The calm and peacefulness we're experiencing during this highly pleasurable cruise could turn on its head if we threw ourselves into that tumultuous environment right now.  

Plus, I've only been able to walk well for that past six weeks. I don't know if I'm ready to tackle as long a walk as will be required if we get off the ship.  Our other option is a taxi to be potentially stuck in Manhattan traffic, a situation totally unappealing to either of us at this point.

We'll see how it goes and what we feel like tomorrow. We have no one to please but ourselves and as we've discovered during the past seven years, we aren't "required" to do anything that doesn't appeal to us at any given time.

Please check back tomorrow for our anniversary celebrations as we share highlights of this exquisite journey that we hope we'll be blessed to carry on.

Have a safe and festive Halloween!
___________________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, October 30, 2018:

Our friend Lois feeding a large number of kudus who stopped by.  She puts the pellets on the veranda's edge to keep the helmeted guineafowl from taking them all.  For more photos, please click here.

Too much fun...Little time to post...Not much in the way of photos today...

Pumpkins and Halloween decor decorate the grand staircase.
It's close to 4:00 pm and I've yet to get to upload today's post. Nor, do we have any worthwhile photos. The only excuse I have is the fact that we are simply having too much fun.  Plus, the fact my laptop battery only lasts for about one hour and there are no outlets nearby any of the areas where we visit with people, posting is tricky right now.

We spent the entire morning and up until this time in the afternoon with Carolyn and Fred in the Cafe al Bacio, sharing a variety of travel stories and experiences and we had a fantastic time.

We had the laptops in our possession but never got around to getting started on today's post.  Now, we're back in our cabin with little time until we need to dress for dinner to head up to the Sky Lounge for happy hour at 5:00 pm.

If we don't get up there on deck 14 early enough, we'll never find a place to sit.  The place is packed with enthusiastic passengers like ourselves, excited to share travel stories with new people they meet.

Tonight is the big Halloween party aboard the ship as we sail toward New York, arriving on our anniversary in two days.  It will have been six days at sea to arrive in New York on the 31st with little opportunity to take many good photos.  

Its a far cry from our previous three Atlantic crossings when we've experienced rough seas. Fortunately, neither of us suffers from seasickness regardless of the condition of the seas. But with all this fun, we may suffer from a bit of tiredness from the late nights and social activities.

We're always amazed by how many people we meet during cruises.  We're both making a point of attempting to remember the names of all the fine people we meet while traveling but in this case, we've met so many, it can be difficult.  

Once again, tonight we'll dine in the main dining room with my special meals prepared properly, although they may be bland.  Without the addition of sauces, many of the meats, chicken, and fish are relatively tasteless. 
Passengers attending a dance class in the Grand Foyer.
But, for us, cruising isn't about the food as much as the friendliness of other passengers, the good service and the general ambiance of yet another cruise.  On this particular cruise, we'll remember the good meals we'll have had in the two specialty restaurants as illustrated in the posts of the past few days.

We're enjoying this cruise considerably more than we did the Baltic cruise which embarked on August 11th and ended on August 23rd.  No doubt the added enjoyment is a result of my feeling better and being able to walk about the ship with ease and the opportunity to meet more passengers.  

Most days, I walk close to 10,000 steps, although we end up spending plenty of time sitting and yakking.  It couldn't be more fun.  We haven't attended a single show in the theater nor have we participated in any classes or games.  Even so, we find ourselves in a constant flurry of activity with the many new people we meet.

Sorry to be rushing through these past several posts.  But, we'll have plenty of time to languish over future posts when we reach Minnesota in only nine days.
Thanks for all the positive email messages wishing us well as we rush through the cruise posts.

May your day be filled with lively conversation and interactions, as well!
___________________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, October 29, 2018:
Her "friends" or family members on the opposite side of the road noticed her dilemma between nibbles on tree tops. For more photos as to how this story unfolds, please click here.

Part 2...Two spectacular videos of a most exciting 3D dining experience...A flood in our cabin....

Please watch this second video of our extraordinary experience in Qsine Restaurant.

Note: Please excuse the less-than-perfect photos all taken in the darkened dining room.  For more clarity, please watch today and tomorrow's videos.

It's Monday afternoon. We're seated in Cafe al Bacio with another couple, the third couple of the day that has joined us at our table while I've attempted to post today's story when I'm not distracted by the delightful conversation.
A digital preview of Tom's dessert.
We've had an excellent experience since the onset of this cruise which included a few nights where we've stayed up until 1:00 am or later.  Subsequently, last night it caught up with me and I desperately needed an early night and by midnight we were sleeping.

There's been three time changes since the onset of the cruise, all of which resulted in turning back the clock which "seemed" to help with an extra hour of sleep each night.  
Tom's dessert.
On the dress-up night, Saturday, when we returned to our cabin at 1:00 am, a pipe broke in the toilet in the cabin and water literally filled up the bathroom floor in a minute or two.
Between courses...
We immediately called guest relations to report it, pleading with them to hurry.  There was no way for us to turn off the water.  In the 10 minutes it took for the plumber and cleaner to arrive at our cabin, the water had escaped the bathroom and was soaking the carpeting outside the door.

By the time the plumbing was repaired and the carpeting cleaned it was 2:30 am.  After all the excitement I couldn't fall asleep. By morning, my fitness watched showed I'd slept two hours and I felt exhausted and beside myself.
Colorful displays...
Yesterday, I had a sluggish and exhausting day. Mid-afternoon tried napping with no luck. Last night, I hadn't fallen asleep until midnight but managed a total of six hours of sleep, feeling a lot better today.

Guest relations contacted us, apologetic for the inconvenience and offered us a complimentary dinner in a specialty restaurant. We'd already booked Halloween night, October 31st, the day of our seventh travel anniversary for dinner in Murano Restaurant.  
It couldn't have been a more delightful presentation.
This worked out perfectly for us...they pay for our anniversary dinner, priced at US $55 per person. I suppose in the realm of things, it didn't turn out so badly after all. We'll undoubtedly enjoy our comped dinner at this fine restaurant.
The tabletop is a plain white blank canvas, making such colorful presentations possible.
Tonight, we'll dine in the main dining room, most likely seated with a new group of people, enjoying the fun chatter among which seems to center around travel-related experiences.

Later in the evening, there's a Queen (rock group) sing-along in the Sky Lounge which we look forward to attending. We may dance a little as we had a few nights ago, good exercise for both of us.
We loved the polka dot display!
In a few days, we'll arrive in New York.  We've yet to decide what we'll do in the Big Apple but whatever it is, we'll be sharing it with all of you here.

May your Monday be filled with insight and purpose.  Happy day!
_________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, October 28, 2018:
A young male kudu learns the ways of being so cute its impossible to resist giving him pellets.
For more photos, please click here.

Part 1...Two spectacular videos of a most exciting 3D dining experience...


The 3D mapping presentation with Le Petit Chef far exceeded our expectations.  Our photos are blurry but the videos are more precise.

Note: Please excuse the less-than-perfect photos all taken in the darkened dining room.  For more clarity, please watch today and tomorrow's videos.

If you tend to avoid watching our videos, as we do from time to time on other sites, please watch each of the two videos on today's and tomorrow's post. You won't be disappointed. No words we can write here can adequately explain last night's unique and entertaining dining experience.
When we first got situated at the table the only special lighting we noticed was this white line around our perfectly placed plates.
As described online and on each of the two YouTube videos, Friday night's dining experience was truly over-the-top, unlike anything we'd experienced in the past. It's not easy to explain but here goes:

"Le Petit Chef is a two-hour dining show that tells the story of how the world's smallest chef followed the route of Marco Polo. The 3D mapping concept has been live since 2015 which uses animated optical illusion techniques to project a little chef cooking on your plate."  
Moments later the letter Q appeared on our plates in the representation of the specialty restaurant, Qsine.
What a fantastic experience we had aboard the Celebrity Silhouette in Qsine Restaurant at a shared table including other diners and members of Cruise Critic, each of us experiencing this unusual show for the first time.  
More advertising for the ship.
The conversation at the table was lively and responses to the animated show were enthusiastic and enthralled over the unique dining experience. The light show coupled with the exceptional food and service which was as good as it could have been for a memorable experience.
The company that created this interesting and entertaining concept.
Adaptations were made for my way of eating and I never felt cheated over anything I missed...except perhaps the scrumptious dessert I eyeballed on Tom's plate as shown in the photo below.  
The digital Le Petit Chef appeared on our plates dragging a digital lobster onto the plate in preparation for serving the bouillabaisse.
Instead, our wonderful waiter Alton (who remembered us from a cruise in the same-named specialty restaurant on another Celebrity ship in 2017) brought me a special dessert of a small bowl of fresh berries and a little unsweetened whipped cream, exactly what I needed to "hit the spot."

Before dinner, we had a delightful happy hour on deck 14 in the Sky Lounge, again meeting new people to become delightfully engaged in enriching conversations.
The delicious bouillabaisse was served in "real-time."
After the fabulous dinner ended, we headed to the  Entertainment Court, next to the Quasar Nightclub where the silent disco was in full force with all the participants dancing in a silent room with the lighted headsets on their heads listening and dancing to three options of types of music such as rock, disco or current pop.
Le Petit Chef illustrates an upcoming steak to be served in "real-time."
I hadn't danced since the heart surgery and at first, I was hesitant. It's so easy to get wildly winded while dancing to fast tempo music but I gave it a try and did we ever have fun!  
Tom's plate with filet mignon, fingerling potatoes, crispy onions, and broccoli.
I must admit I checked my fitness watch to see how my pulse was doing a few times but all seemed fine at a maximum of 130, shortly returning to the 60s when stopping. After this traumatic heart experience, it's hard not to be a little paranoid when getting one's pulse up through vigorous exercise.
My filet mignon was cooked to perfection...rare.
By midnight we were back in our cabin with both of us so energized we didn't fall asleep until after 1:00 am even with the second of two time changes. There will be several more time changes as we get closer and closer to the US.
A video representation of Tom's upcoming dessert.
Tonight is "dress-up night" and we've gotten the wrinkles out of our clothes after hanging them in the steamy bathroom. Ships don't provide irons due to fire hazards. We won't be the only passengers with wrinkled clothing and, of course, with this older (like us) crowd, wrinkled faces. Who cares? We're having fun!
What a novel concept!
Have a superb Sunday!
_________________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, October 27, 2018:
The Matsamo tribe in Swaziland performs for tourists providing the village with income.  The cost for the performance and tour is ZAR 200 (US $13.70) per person.  For more photos, please click here.

No post today due to poor signal...

We've been trying to upload today's post all afternoon to no avail.  We'll be back tomorrow with an exciting new post with photos.

Thanks for your patience! 

Happy day!

First full day out to sea...Mundane but memorable...

A ferry sailing out of Southampton.
Fascinating Fact of the Day About Celebrity Silhouette:
From this site:
"Celebrity Silhouette is built to the same design as the preceding three ships. The completed ship is 319 metres (1,047 ft) in length overall, with a beam of 36.8 metres (121 ft), and a tonnage value of 122,400 gross tons. Celebrity Silhouette carries 2,885 passengers.
Name:  Celebrity Silhouette
Owner: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Operator: Celebrity Cruises
Port of registry: Valletta, Malta
Ordered:1 8 May 2007[1]
Builder: Meyer Werft, Papenburg
Cost: $640 million (USD)"

___________________________________________
Today is our first full day out to sea with five more remaining until we arrive in New York on October 31, 2019, the day of our seven year anniversary.  We booked a reservation for dinner in the Murano, specialty restaurant to celebrate the evening over what we expect to be a fabulous dinner.

Tonight, we'll be dining in Qzine, another specialty restaurant with a group of 30 or more Cruise Critic members.  The cruise ship arranged special pricing for the group of US $35 per person, usually priced at US $55 per person for what we experienced as a spectacular meal when we previously dined at Qzine a few years ago.

With our premium drink packages, we will both be able to partake in any beverages offered on the menu including wines and Tom's favorite VSOP Cognac.  Although I don't drink more than two glasses of wine in a night, the quality of my selection is pertinent.
Passengers on passing boats often wave to passengers on a cruise ship.
Tonight, it should be quite enjoyable to be seated in one of the groups at shared tables. Last night we met a wonderful couple, Suzanne and Bryan in the bar who joined us for dinner in the main dining room. We had a chatty and highly enjoyable meal with the two of them.

The restaurant manager and staff are going over-the-top to ensure my meals are satisfactory, actually more than needed. After all, if they serve me a chunk of salmon and steamed vegetables, I am perfectly content. When I'm extra hungry I order a Caesar salal minus the croutons.

Tom and I both are watching the quantity of food that we consume on this cruise, preferring not to gain weight. There are many options befitting my way of eating and I could easily eat more than necessary.
This morning's Cruise Critic meeting was held in the Sky Lounge on deck 14.
This morning we had breakfast in the formal dining room and I ordered my usual two poached eggs, cooked well done, smoked salmon and sliced cucumber which will hold me until dinner. Tom had three poached eggs, bacon, ½ of an English muffin and a small triangle of hash browns.

After breakfast, we headed to our favorite spot, Cafe al Bacio and I ordered a sugar/caffeine-free vanilla macchiato with real cream and Tom ordered the caramel macchiato, again with real cream.  

That coffee drink is my one indulgence for the day since I don't eat fruit or any type of dessert. We forego lunch each day and are avoiding any off-meal times to check out the buffet on deck 14. But, it's certainly tempting.
Thee Sky Lounge is a great spot to stop for drinks and conversation.
Today at 2:00 pm is the "cabin crawl" where members of Cruise Critic will tour a variety of cabin categories. We haven't decided if we'll do this today when we both need a nap. I had another fitful night with little sleep.
With no ports-of-call over these next six days, our posts will consist of mindless drivel, a little bit of this and that when sea days, although pleasant for socialization are quiet and relatively uneventful.

We'll be back tomorrow with new photos from tonight's gourmet adventure and whatever morsels we can share as we relax and enjoy every moment of this cruise.

Have a wonderful Saturday!
_________________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, October 25, 2017:
Waterbucks are beautiful animals. For more photos, please click here.

Boarded the ship today and soon we'll begin sailing across the Atlantic to the USA!...

Our cabin, nice and tidy before our luggage arrives.
Fascinating Fact of the Day About Southampton, England:From this site:
"Archaeological finds suggest that the area has been inhabited since the stone age.[15] Following the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43 and the conquering of the local Britons in AD 70, the fortress settlement of Clausentum was established. It was an important trading port and defensive outpost of Winchester, at the site of modern Bitterne Manor. Clausentum was defended by a wall and two ditches and is thought to have contained a bathhouse. Clausentum was not abandoned until around 410. The Anglo-Saxons formed a new, larger, settlement across the Itchen centred on what is now the St Mary's area of the city. The settlement was known as Hamwic, which evolved into Hamtun and then Hampton. Archaeological excavations of this site have uncovered one of the best collections of Saxon artifacts in Europe. It is from this town that the county of Hampshire gets its name. Viking raids from 840 onwards contributed to the decline of Hamwic in the 9th century, and by the 10th century a fortified settlement, which became medieval Southampton, had been established."
__________________________________________

After a light breakfast in the hotel's dining room, we returned to our room to close the bags and be ready to head out the door.  We ordered a taxi to take us to the cruise terminal at 10:45 am which is a little early but we've gone to the terminal this early in the past and it's always worked out.
Alternate view of our balcony cabin.  We're always fine with the small space since we only sleep here.
This is our first-time sailing from Southampton and we had no idea what to expect. As I write this from our hotel room we're hoping the Wi-Fi on the ship will be active at the time of boarding enabling us to complete today's post including a few photos of the ship, Celebrity Silhouette.

With approximately 2900 passengers booked for this cruise. check-in may be slow but nothing compared to the bigger ships with several thousand more passengers. We have avoided those huge ships.  

However, with our Elite(priority) status, we are able to get into a faster-moving queue which speeds up the process considerably.  The porters take all of our bags away at check-in, leaving us to carry only a computer bag which we don't want out of our sight and the blue cloth bag containing a camera and a few other essentials.
Another cloudy rainy day in Southampton harbour.
After boarding, most often, we head to the cafeteria or Cafe al Bacio for beverages. This is when the socializing begins. Aboard ship, we don't dine as early as we usually do when preparing our own meals.  We strive to be seated at a shared table by 7:30 or 8:00 pm, depending on how much fun we're having elsewhere.

Generally, we won't receive our luggage to our cabin until close to dinner or thereafter.  Thus, we're wearing clothing suitable for tonight's dinner in the main dining room, not dressy but less casual than we might wear on any day. 

The muster drill transpires today at 3:15 pm when emergency instructions are delivered by ship staff.  Each cabin has its own designated muster drill area which may be outside on the deck, in a restaurant or at the theatre.
Lounge area on the same level as our cabin.  It's unlikely we'll ever sit here.
Once the muster drill is over which usually requires about 40 minutes we are free for the remainder of the evening when the fun picks up where we left off, mid-day.

The check-in process was seamless with no hitches whatsoever. Within minutes of arriving at the cruise terminal, our bags were whisked away, we check-in for the cruise and boarded the ship.

Tom went to the internet cafe and set up both of our accounts and now with a good signal, we were able to finish today's post.  Thanks for your patience in the late posting.

We'll be back each day with more photos and updates on the cruise and the ports of call we visit.

Back at you soon.  Have a fantastic weekend!
_________________________________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, October 24, 2018:
Last night's full moon over Marloth Park.  For more photos, please click here.

Southampton, England...A great hotel for two nights...

Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
The Leonardo Southampton Royal Grand Harbour hotel. (Not our photos).
Fascinating Fact of the Day About Southampton, England:
From this site:
"Southampton is a port city on England’s south coast. It’s home to the SeaCity Museum, with an interactive model of the Titanic, which departed from Southampton in 1912. Nearby, Southampton City Art Gallery specializes in modern British art. Solent Sky Museum features vintage aircraft like the iconic Spitfire. Tudor House & Garden displays artifacts covering over 800 years of history, including a penny-farthing bike."
__________________________________________

The hotel we selected in Southampton for two nights is the Leonardo Royal  Southampton Grand Harbour is located only minutes to the cruise terminal. For these dates, the nightly rate is GBP 180, US $231.  
Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
The hotel at night.
We used accumulated points in Expedia and only paid GBP 145.50, US $187.06 for both nights in a king room with breakfast included which we prepaid at the time of booking.

Yesterday, taking our time on the drive and stopping for a light lunch we arrived at the hotel later than expected. Subsequently, we dined in the hotel's restaurant.  Unfortunately, the lovely couple, Kim and Keith, whom we'd planned to meet for dinner, canceled due to Kim's bad cold. They didn't want us to catch it which we really appreciated. There are plenty of germs on cruises as it is.
Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
One of the many seating areas in the hotel.

As typical for hotels, the meal in the restaurant was good, not great, with prices commensurate with what we've observed in the UK these past few months.  Tonight, we may go out or dine in the bar which has a great menu for my way of eating.  

Food is not so important to us these few days when we have the cruise ahead of us where they'll make everything befitting my restricted diet. In any case, we don't make cruising about the food.  
Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
A king room.
For us, it's the opportunity to socialize with other travelers from all over the world that make cruising special. Now, situated in the hotel bar preparing today's post at a table close to an electric outlet without much social interaction. We'll make up for it soon enough. 

My fast dying laptop (almost five years old) requires I work with it plugged in with the battery also on its last leg. On the upcoming cruise, we'll have to find a spot close to an outlet. 
Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
Typical English breakfast served buffet-style in the main dining room.

We've been able to find a good place to sit near an outlet on the past several cruises. Cruising on this particular ship, Celebrity Silhouette is new to us and we're hopeful we'll find a spot close to all the action. 

We prefer not to be isolated when working on the post especially when other passengers stop by to chat. It may take six or seven hours for me to complete one post with all the interruptions but we love the interactions with other passengers and, from time to time, crew members.

Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
Cruise ships are often waiting in this harbour for enthusiastic cruise passengers.
It's funny how passengers will say when they see us working on our laptops, "Couldn't you have left the work at home?"  

We laugh and often say, "This is "home" at the moment."

Yes, we continue with our daily tasks, handling photos, the posts, financial matters, banking and so forth wherever we may be at any given time. Its the nature of our peculiar lifestyle.

I don't have anything in the way of photos today. It's raining and we don't care to walk in the rain nor do we want to pay a taxi to take us around when we've already returned the rental car.  
Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
This is where we're seated now as we prepare today's post.
Yesterday, when we arrived and couldn't get a signal on the phone and thus we drove around Southampton (population 253,651) and had a good look.  It's a very nice city but with too much traffic and commotion for us after these quiet months in the English (and Wales) countryside.

The cruise will be the perfect segue back to a crowded environment when afterward we'll be on Minnesota highways with plenty of traffic, horn honking, and impatient drivers, typical for any large city.
Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
Map of our hotel and its close proximity to the harbour. Regardless of the weather, we'll still have to take a taxi to the cruise terminal.
We always say the most courteous drivers in the world are in South Africa. The slower vehicles always move to the shoulder to let others pass on both highways and on dirt roads. We've never ceased to be amazed by this phenomenon.  

(Yeah, I know...I miss it, and every day I wonder if immigration will allow us to return and if we can rent the Orange house again...and then if "you know who" will return to see me.)

Well, folks, tomorrow is another "day-in-the-life" of these two nomads as we board yet another cruise, this time a transatlantic crossing. 

Happy hump day to all the working people and happy any-day to the retirees!
_________________________________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, October 23, 2018:
Single file, from matriarch to baby.  For more photos, please click here.

Final expenses for two months in UK...Favorite photos....


The four of us in front of a large fireplace.
From this site
Fascinating Fact of the Day about Chepstow:
"Chepstow is located on the west bank of the River Wye, some 3 miles (4.8 km) north of its confluence with the Severn estuary. To the north of the town, the Wye passes through a limestone gorge, and there are limestone cliffs at Chepstow both north and south of the town centre and on the opposite (east) side of the river. The town is overlooked by the inland cliffs at Wyndcliff near St Arvans, about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of the town, and, from parts of the town, the Severn estuary and its bridges can be seen. The historic centre of Chepstow occupies part of a bend in the River Wye, and slopes up from the river to the town centre and beyond. As well as cliffs used for rock climbing, percolation of acidic groundwater has dissolved limestone to produce caves in the area, including Otter Hole, one of the longest cave systems in Britain and noted for its mineral deposits. The climate of the town is affected by its position close to the Severn estuary.

The bedrock of Chepstow is limestone, mudstone, and sandstone, overlain in places with some gravels and the clay and silt of the river's tidal flats, which are of marine origin and up to two million years old. Most of the rock was produced in a warm, tropical marine environment when Europe was closer to the equator. The rock of Sedbury cliffs and those under Chepstow Castle are carboniferous limestones, hundreds of metres deep in the area, made of particles and shells of sea creatures from 330-360 million years ago. Layered outcrops of darker Black Rock limestone, which makes up a broad part of Chepstow's bedrock, are very clear in cliffs along Craig Yr Afon, part of the Wales Coast Path extending from Wyebank Road, and by the link road from Bulwark Road to the M48, where the looser reddish Mercia Mudstone (which extends under Bulwark and Sedbury and forms the cliffs at the Severn) and the lighter Hunts Bay limestone are also seen.

The River Wye at Chepstow has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world.[18] The river was established as a boundary between England and Wales by Athelstan in 928. However, after the Norman conquest, areas east of the Wye, within the former Saxon royal manor of Tidenham and including Beachley, Tutshill, Sedbury, and Tidenham Chase, were included within the lordship of Striguil or Chepstow. In 1536, the river was confirmed as the boundary between Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire. Since the early 19th century, housing development has continued on the east bank of the river opposite Chepstow, at Tutshill and Sedbury. Those areas, though located in England rather than Wales, are now effectively suburbs of the town."

____________________________________________

By crossing this bridge, near the Boat Inn Restaurant in Chepstow, we left Wales and entered England.  
Here are our total expenses for the 62-nights we spent in the UK.:

Expense      US Dollar       GBP
4 Holiday Rentals    $ 8,381.40  $ 6,426.17
Southampton Hotel (2)  $    276.94  $    213.35
Car Rental + Fuel  $ 1,985.64  $  1,529.73
Dining Out  $    675.07  $     520.07
Groceries  $ 1,502.48  $  1,157.50
Pharmacy  $    478.20  $     368.40
Tours  $      42.00  $       32.36
Total  $13,341.73  $10,247.58
Avg Daily- 62 ngts  $     215.19  $     165.28

When we look back over the past two months, mostly spent in England and most recently in Wales, we can's help but smile, grateful that we changed our usual plan of staying in one location for longer periods.

The two weeks in Falmouth overlooking the Atlantic Ocean's Falmouth Bay, the two weeks we lived on a farm in both St. Teath, Cornwall and then three more weeks on a farm in Witheridge Tiverton Devon and then in Chepstow, Wales have all been outstanding experiences.
This breathtaking renovated room in Chepstow Castle, may have been used as a bedroom.
These shorter-term stays have definitely inspired us to continue booking short term stays as we move forward into the future. The next bookings we are yet to arrange are for India beginning in February after our upcoming train tour on the Maharajas Express, a luxury train journey from Mumbai to Delhi.

As mentioned earlier, we decided to stay in hotels during our almost two remaining months after the six-night train excursion.  Our next booked adventure is a Viking Ocean cruise from Mumbai India on April 3, 2020, ending in Greenwich, England on May 2, 2010. 
The four of us in front of the Raglan Castle.
From there, at this point, we have no plans other than the cruise on November 10, 2020, departing from Lisbon, Portugal, ending on December 2, 2020, in Cape Town, South Africa.  We've yet to hear back from immigration if they'll let us return.
The two castles presented a different perspective of life in medieval times.
Once we hear from immigration, we'll be able to book plans between May 2020 and December 2020. It makes no sense to book anything until we know if we can return to South Africa.

In the interim, right now we're thinking in terms of the upcoming two nights in Southampton and the upcoming 15-night cruise to the US.  Tonight, while in Southampton, we are having dinner with Kim and Keith who found us and our site from reading Tom's posts on Cruise Critic several years ago. 
Ken and Tom at Chepstow Castle.
As the time nears to our two months in the US, we get excited at the prospect of seeing family and friends in Minnesota, Nevada, and Arizona.  We've yet to book flights for these locations, preferring to "play it by ear" while we're there.  It will all work out, one way or another.

In a matter of moments, we'll be heading out the door to make the two-hour drive from Monmouthshire to Southampton and begin the next phase of our travels.
Our two castle tours were delightful, especially with friends Linda and Ken
We're so grateful to be in a position to continue to treasure our life of world travel for however long we can and for the opportunity to share it all with our readers.

We'll be back tomorrow from the Leonardo Royal Southampton Grand Harbour hotel, a stone's throw from the cruise terminal, rated four stars.  It looks fabulous online at this link. Of course, we add photos in a few days.
We were very content with our Shirenewton rental, conveniently located to downtown Chepstow.
As for our above total expenses for the 62-nights we spent in the UK, we've yet to add fuel for the trip to Southampton and meals for two days, nor the upcoming cruise.  We'll do a separate "total expenses" when the cruise ends.

May your day be rich in experience and love.
_________________________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, October 22, 2018:
The next day Tom and I and Tom and Lois visited Lisa at her home in Marloth Park where, as a volunteer with Wild & Free, she rescues and releases bush babies.  Such dedication.  For more photos, please click here.