Our 9-year travel anniversary!!! Our new itinerary!!!…

Selfie of us in India in February 2020, before lockdown, excited to be on our way to the palace and Lake Pichola in Udaipur, India.

Here it is, October 31, 2021, a date celebrating Halloween in some countries but not here in South Africa. There won’t be any trick or treaters at our door tonight. Instead, we’ll celebrate. Differently, the ninth anniversary of the day we began our journey.

Last night, we had guests for sundowners, Carrie and Jim, who are much younger than us, in their 40s, who’ve been living a lifestyle almost exactly like ours. Their journey began in 2019. They arrived at 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs, and didn’t leave until 10:30, 2230 hrs, undoubtedly indicative of the similar stories we had to share.

We’ve met a lot of world travelers over the years, but Carrie and Jim’s story was oddly most similar. We’d been to a number of the same places, experienced the same challenges, and like us, they’ve come away, hungry for more. The tremendous benefit they have is youth. With their resiliency and determination, they may continue for decades. One never knows, which we all agreed, how long we’ll choose to continue on this path or if our health in some manner prevents it.

The two of us, nine years ago, at Tom’s retirement party, about one week before we began our travels.

Last night, we were shocked when it rained in buckets, eventually turning into hail. We’d never seen hail in Marloth Park. Such an oddity for the bush. We were relieved our rental car was parked under the carport roof, free of any potential damage. The hail lasted about five minutes, but the pounding rain continued for about an hour.

At one point, we had to go inside the house when the wind was blowing, and we were all getting wet. The delightful conversation continued as we shared story after story of our travels and similarities. Surely, we’ll see them again before they leave Marloth Park on December 1st.

But, now today, as we celebrate our ninth anniversary with dinner guests coming again at 4:00 pm, we’re excited to share this special day/evening with friends Alan, Fiona, Nick, and Joan.

Today, I spent the entire morning in the kitchen, and now at almost noon, I have only a few items to fuss over once they arrive. The starters, the salad, the entree, and the vegetables are prepared except for last-minute cooking, leaving me free to spend time with our guests on the veranda while sipping our wine and drinks and enjoying the wildlife.

Without a doubt, we anticipate another enriching day in the bush. As I write here now, two Big Daddies came to call. The larger of the two ate an entire half of a massive head of cabbage before our eyes. His adeptness at breaking up the huge chunk into bite-sized pieces was a delight to see.

So, folks, here it is, our new itinerary, as promised, posted on our anniversary. Yes, there are several holes we have to fill in time, most of which will be dictated by how Covid-19 rolls out over the next few years. However, if the situation improves, even a little, we’ll be excited to fill in the gaps with fantastic adventures and visits to some new (to us) and different countries we’ve yet to explore.

The future looks bright for all of us world travelers, as long as we stay the course, maintain a positive attitude, manage our health and well-being and continue to strive to see those unique places on this planet that calls to us.

Marloth Park, South Africa Holiday rental 85 10/31/2021 1/23/2022
Flight – Nelspruit, South Africa to Tampa, Florida Travel Day 1 1/23/2022 1/24/2022
Florida -visiting friends, traveling thru state Travel 74 1/24/2022 4/8/2022
Cruise – Fort Lauderdale to South Hampton – Trans Atlantic Celebrity Silhouette 13 4/8/22 4/21/22
 UK – TBD Holiday rentals 68 4/21/22 6/28/22
Flight – UK to Istanbul, Turkey Hotel 1 6/28/22 6/29/22
Cruise – Istanbul to Istanbul – Black Sea Azamara Onward 11 6/29/22 7/10/22
Cruise – Istanbul to Athens – Greek Islands Azamara Onward 10 7/10/22 7/20/22
Europe – Non-Schengen countries Holiday rentals 111 7/20/22 11/7/22
Flight to Athens Hotel 1 11/7/22 11/8/22
Cruise – Athen to Athens – Middle East, Israel, Egypt Azamara Journey 11 11/8/2022 11/19/2022
Cruise – Athens to Lisbon – Mediterranean Azamara Journey 10 11/19/22 11/29/22
Cruise – Lisbon to Cape Town – West coast of Africa Azamara Journey 21 11/29/22 12/20/22
Flight – Cape Town to Nelspruit, South Africa Travel Day 1 12/20/22 12/20/22
Marloth Park, South Africa Holiday rentals 90 12/20/22 3/19/23
Africa travel – TBD Holiday rentals 132 3/19/23 7/29/23
Flight – Africa to Edinburough/Leith, UK Travel Day + Hotel 3 7/29/23 8/31/23
Cruise – Leith to Amsterdam – Norway, west coast Azamara Journey 17 8/1/23 8/18/23
Total Days 660

Yes, 660 possible days into the future, some planned, some not planned. But, only time will tell and guide us into the following number of years, God willing.

Be well. Be happy. Step outside the box!

Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #222. With no photos of us on our travel anniversary in the past few years, we posted this photo from October 31, 2017, our fifth anniversary of traveling the world, taken on the veranda at the villa in Atenas, Costa Rica. For more photos from one year ago, please click here.

Final expenses for our five night Zambia trip…On our way back to the bush!!!…

Sunset over the Zambezi River, the longest river in Africa. Notice the spray from Victoria Falls in the left rear of the photo.

Note to our readers: This is the last day we’ll be posting this notice. Based on receiving hundreds of spam comments each week, adding significantly to the time necessary to do each day’s post, it is now required to log in to post a comment. We apologize for this added step. We were tired of seeing pornographic and illegal drugs sales posted as comments on our site. I had to go through each one to remove it. If you have an urgent comment for us, please feel free to use the comment section at the end of each post or send either of us an email message to which we’ll respond within 24 hours or sooner. Thank you so much for being so understanding. We will post this notice for one week.

At the moment, we’re sitting on the bed in our hotel room in Zambia, after a lovely breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, packed and ready to go. At 11:45 am, Chris, from Chris Tours (see his link here), a highly reputable tour and transport company in Livingstone, Zambia, will pick us up for the short drive to the Livingstone Airport.

We’re scheduled to arrive in Nelspruit at 3:35 pm when we’ll pick up our rental car and commence the 90-minute drive back to Marloth Park. If all goes well with immigration (fingers crossed), we should be at our holiday home in the bush by about 5:30. Before unpacking, we’ll freshen up a bit and head to Jabula for dinner.

We’re looking forward to seeing Dawn and Leon, our friends and the owners of our favorite restaurant (and lodge) in Marloth Park. They’d been on holiday for a few weeks before we left for Zambia, and it will be fun to see them again, to catch up, and dine on their fabulous food. Hopefully, we’ll be celebrating our return for another 90 days, providing all goes well at immigration in Nelspruit.

Load shedding has resumed in the park, so the power will be out while we’re out to dinner, hopefully back on when we get back to the house. Supposedly, it will be off and on until Saturday, after which they’ll be suspending load shedding for a few weeks, or so they say. It can change on a dime. Then again, TIA, “this is Africa,” and that’s what happens. We love it anyway.

We’ve had a great time in Zambia. We accomplished a lot of research, and I am down to page #18 (with 20 posts per page). At this rate, I will have completed this year-long project by the middle of November. I can hardly wait to be done and have my afternoons back to further enjoy life instead of working on my laptop.

Now, for the expenses, we incurred for this trip to Livingstone, Zambia:

Flight  (round trip) from Nelspruit to Livingstone:  US $1288.00,   ZAR 18938

Taxi: US $46.81, ZAR 690.68

Hotel (using some rewards): US $425.09, ZAR 6258.06

Food: US $339.00, ZAR 4992.29

Visa Fee (entry to Zambia):  US $100.00, ZAR 1472.65

Tips: US $125.0, ZAR 1470,80

Total:  US $2323.90, ZAR 32204.32

We were pleased with this total. The high cost of the airfare was over half of the total expenses. Flights through Airlink have increased during times of Covid, but the convenience of avoiding the five-hour drive to Joburg is worth it to us. Plus, we could get a direct flight from Nelspruit to Livingstone, saving another half day of travel time.

If we have no issues with re-entry, the expense will have been well worth the time and cost. We have documents with our negative Covid-19 PCR test results, our flight information out of South Africa in January, a rental letter from Louise stating we have a place to live, and all should be in order. The question is: “Will they (immigration) accept the fact we only left SA for six days?” If so, all will be good. The laws are vague on this topic, so we hold our breath when we check-in.

That’s it for now, folks. In a few minutes, we’ll zip up our duffle bags, call for help with our bags, pay the balance of our hotel bill at reception and wait for Chris to arrive to take us to the airport.

Hopefully, tomorrow, we’ll be writing from Marloth Park with the good news that all went well. Thanks for “traveling” with us!

Photo from one year ago today, October 26, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #217. Rasnesh, our driver, took this photo of us in front of the Vuadomo Waterfall in Fiji. We were hot and sweaty, but the long trek was worth it!  For more photos, please click here.

A sad event impacts our future travels…Changing plans…Changing lives…

We’re surprisingly getting a ton of visitors during the busy rainy holiday weekend.It’s Sunday morning at 11:00. We’re going out to dinner on Tuesday with Alan and Fiona for her birthday. I just spent two hours in the kitchen making Tom’s favorite low-carb, grain-free pizza, which we’ll bake at dinnertime, and a three-night portion of sauteed chicken breast tenders with mushrooms, onions, and garlic for me. We’ll enjoy these main dishes Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday. I won’t have to cook for days. I don’t eat the pizza when it’s too fattening for me, significantly since I drop a few more kilos.

But, of course, you don’t care to read about my morning in the kitchen, do you? Moreso, what the heck is going on with no post yesterday and some arbitrary change in plans?

On Friday afternoon, Minnesota-time, our dear brother-in-law, Gene, husband of Tom’s sister Colleen, sadly passed away after a long and challenging illness exacerbated by a brain injury that occurred years ago when he fell on ice and snow in Minnesota. We often hear of injuries seniors suffer from falling in the long winter months in Minnesota, certainly one reason we don’t want to visit Minnesota in the winter, especially with my unstable legs.

Everyone’s head is down eating pellets.

When Colleen wrote to tell Tom the sad news, it was 11:30 pm here, and I was sound asleep. He didn’t want to awaken me, knowing this information could keep me awake all night, wondering what we’d do when we leave here on October 21st, less than three weeks away.

As it turned out, I awoke at 4:00 am, unable to go back to sleep, almost anticipating something had happened. At 5:30, Tom asked me if I was awake and proceeded to tell me the news. We were sad to hear about this, but also it had a significant impact on our upcoming plans.

Colleen is Tom’s sister, whose home we planned to stay in for three months in Apache Junction, Arizona. With Gene’s passing surely, Colleen would surely want to get out of Minnesota for the winter and spend time with her sisters in warm, sunny Arizona.

I ran out onto the road to take this giraffe photo.

She hadn’t been able to go to her home in Apache Junction due to Covid-19 and Gene’s poor health since 2019, when we were last there with them before we took off for India in January 2020. There was no way we would prevent her from going to her property by staying in it for three months during the winter.

Lying there in bed at 5:30 am, discussing this, we considered a few options. We could rent a holiday home somewhere in the US. But, recently, before deciding on Arizona, we’d done extensive searches for holiday homes in the US states with warm winters. Since the onset of Covid-19 and losses incurred by holiday homeowners, prices for long-term rentals have gone through the roof.

In suitable locations, even without being overly picky, any properties we may have considered were three times the cost of our rent here in South Africa. Of course, after India, we’re not willing to stay long-term in a hotel. The handwriting was on the wall. We needed to stay in Marloth Park and fly to a non-bordering country in Africa to get our visas stamped.

At a decent hour, I contacted Louise, who we know is an early bird, to see when we could stop by to discuss our possible living arrangements if we did decide to stay another three months. We met up with her at 10:00 am.

When I walked back up the driveway toward the house, Tom distracted Broken Horn with pellets to ensure my safety. This huge animal could be startled and gore an unsuspecting human.

An important fact remained in our minds. Recently, we booked several cruises, a few of which are expensive compared to our average day-to-day expenses. We figured if we could live inexpensively for several months, we could stay within our budget for the year with the costs of these cruises.

But, if we had to pay enormous sums for rent over the following months, we may have to reconsider what we’ve booked. Let’s face it. We’re not getting any younger. I am fast approaching 74, and Tom will be 69 sooner than later. When we return to South Africa by a cruise in December  2022, we will celebrate Tom’s 70th and, two months later, my 75th birthday during those first three months we are here.

We’ve decided to budget to the best of our ability to ensure we can visit new places we’ve longed to see throughout the world for whatever time we have left that we can do so. Traveling like this isn’t easy. It requires a lot of careful planning and physical energy on travel days and a lot of work necessary to pack and move all the time. Many seniors would find this simply too exhausting and too much work, which we understand. But for now, we still have the stamina to do it. For us, it’s not a chore. It’s an adventure every single time.

Lots of kudus this morning, including Bad Eye, whose torn eyelid is looking much better.

It appears we can move our original flight to Arizona without penalty from Delta Airlines due to Covid-19 changes, and thus, we won’t incur any losses by changing our flights. Louise can let us stay in this same house until January 23, 2022, when we’ll leave for Florida, where we’ll stay with friends Karen and Rich before and after their February wedding.

We booked round-trip direct flights to Zambia on October 21st and returned on October 26th for our visa stamps. Louise is helping us book some events in Zambia, which we won’t wrap up for a few days when the tourist offices reopen on Monday.

We called Colleen, offering her our heartfelt sympathies, and told her she could now go to Arizona for the winter since we’ve made other plans and won’t tie up her one-bedroom property. She was so sweet and more than willing to let us stay. But we knew her going there would be suitable for her during this time of grief and sorrow.

We’ll report back with definitive plans for Zambia to stay in the next few days, one of the few countries we can fly to on a direct flight from Nelspruit. There was no way we were interested in booking an expensive trip with long flights going through Johannesburg. Nelspruit is a 75-minute drive from here, and the flight is less than two hours to Livingstone.

We’re good. We were not worried. Not stressed. It was the right thing to do.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 3, 2020:

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #194. In Bali, a dragonfly was fluttering around the two koi ponds by either side of the front entryway. Much to my delight, it returned almost every day to the exact location. For more, please click here.

Our visas expire at the end of October…What will we do?…

As we were driving down a dirt road. we stopped for “traffic.”

In two weeks, we must decide if we will apply for a visa extension at the end of October when our visas expire or, we are prepared to travel to another country in Africa? With countless Covid restrictions in many countries, we must keep checking back for any countries we may choose to visit for new 90-day visa stamps when we re-enter South Africa.

Also, as more and more cases of the variant cripple South Africa, we have to consider if we can re-enter South Africa from another African country. Having been vaccinated helps, and of course, most countries require PCR tests to enter along with the required test to re-enter South Africa.

Broken Horn stopped by this morning after making his way through the dry, dense bush to our garden. He ate pellets and apple peels.

We ask ourselves how many more three-month periods we’re willing to do this back and forth. We’ll have been here almost one year (less the recent four-week visit to the US). The only thing holding us back at this point is the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions throughout the world.

Our dear friends Karen and Rich are getting married on February 11, 2022. We are seriously considering returning to the US for their wedding. We have a series of cruises in and around Japan planned, the first of which embarks on February 27th from Singapore.

A few days before embarking, we could fly from Florida to Singapore for the embarkation. However, at this point, we believe these three cruises will be canceled. We won’t know for a few months. Once we know, we can decide if we’ll go to Florida for the wedding but need to make a plan from that point as to what we’ll do going forward. Again, this will be entirely determined by the status of Covid-19 throughout the world.

He turned while we waited patiently for him to clear the road.

Beyond the three cruises in and around Japan, the only definitive plan we have in place are the two cruises (back-to-back) we recently booked for the Black Sea, a location that’s been on Tom’s mind for quite some time. These are the two cruises we booked while in the US through Costco, which sail out of Istanbul with the second of back to back, ending in Athens, which provides us with many options for where we could spend some time at the end summer and early fall.

We’re anticipating these July cruises will transpire, as opposed to those in February. This is a lot to think about, but, at this point, neither of us is worried about what will and won’t happen in the way of these five cruises over the next 11 months. As always, we’ll figure it all out. We choose not to feel any stress about these future cruises.

Nor are we stressed about the end of October. We feel confident, now that the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport is open again for flights to Zambia, in the worst case, we’ll fly there for the third time, finding some exciting safari adventures, to spend a week in the country, with Botswana and Zimbabwe as additional possibilities.

Ostrich was crossing the road. Again, we waited patiently for her to travel.

At this point, we aren’t interested in flying out of Johannesburg to a distant location and then returning. Those long flights and time changes did a number on both of us this time when we both got sick with some unknown virus shortly after our return. No doubt, our immune systems were lacking due to a lack of sleep for several days.

Tom is almost 100% recovered, and I’m shortly behind him. We both still have a cough but find it less and less each day. What a relief! I no longer need to sleep ten or more hours each night, nor am I awakening during the night, coughing and sneezing.

Today is the official day of National Women’s Day in South Africa. There still are many tourists in Marloth Park, most likely leaving late today or tomorrow. Once they leave, most of our favorite animals will return. Nope. No Tiny yet. Over this long holiday weekend, we’ve seen many bushbucks, Broken Horn, Frank and The Misses and warthogs, Little, Peter, Paul and Mary, and One Tusk.

We are looking forward to many more returning in the next few days.

Well, folks, that’s it for today. We’ll keep you updated on our future travel plans as they roll out over the next several months.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today,  August 9, 2020:

This photo is from the year-ago post while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #139. This photo was taken in Paris in 2014 while we were o a luxury diner cruise on the River Seine. As soon as we were seated, we were served these little French pastries and champagne. Tom ate all four of these pastries plus three of the white buns. I didn’t try the buns but took a few sips of the delicious champagne. For more photos, please click here.

Our bag is supposed to arrive today…We’ll see how that goes…I made a mistake about Tiny…

Little and his newly adopted family stop by for another visit. Pellets on the menu!!!

When we packed that duffel bag while still in Nevada, we included five new pairs of shoes for both of us. I tossed all my old shoes in our hotel room that Id replaced with the three new pairs, leaving me with only two spare worn-out pairs of shoes. Tom did the same, and now he, too, has only two pairs of shoes left.

If we don’t get that bag today as promised by United Airlines, we are up a creek when it comes to shoes. None of these brands and styles can be replaced here in South Africa. Our only option would be to buy them online in the US and have them shipped to us via DHL for more exorbitant costs.

Mom and Baby bushbuck which was born while we were gone. She is so tiny!

We also had our toiletries, including two Braun electric toothbrushes, newly ordered boxes of our business cards, new insulated mugs, and drink koozies, all valued at over US $25, ZAR 365, each, none of which are available for purchase in South Africa.

Also included were several new clothing items and underwear we both desperately needed. Do we trust that the bag will arrive? Not really. We’ll be pleasantly surprised if it does. We arranged for the bag delivered to Louise and Danie’s Info Centre, where they will be all day since the roads to our house might deter a driver from bringing it directly to us.

Baby bushbuck and an older youngster sharing pellets from the container which we use for the bushbucks, to keep the guinea-fowl from stealing all the pellets.

In the interim, we grocery shopped in Komatipoort. We had hoped to go to the liquor store for light wine for me and brandy for Tom but based on the current lockdown in South Africa, liquor sales were suspended from Friday through Sunday, in an attempt to inhibit heavy liquor use over the weekends. When people drink heavily, there are more accidents and injuries, resulting in more of a need for more emergency services and hospital visits during these times of Covid. At least the total ban ended the day after we arrived.

Today was the first time we shopped since our return from the US, although Louise shopped for us for basic supplies on Monday. But, we still needed many items and ingredients for recipes I’d like to make over the next week or two. After today’s extensive shopping we’re probably good for the next ten days, depending on how often we eat out.

Hal and Blue Gnu are coming onto the veranda.

Now, that we’re both rested and recovered from the long travel period from the US to South Africa, we can begin to socialize, starting tonight with a get-together planned for tonight at Jabula to celebrate Gerhard’s birthday. It will be a small group of seven, but tonight, finally, I get to see my dear friend Kathy, who arrived here in the bush a few weeks ago, and Rita and Gerhard, whom we also missed during our time away.

I made a mistake about Tiny. We have not seen him. Instead, I’d mistaken a Tiny look-alike, whom we called The Imposter before we left. In my enthusiasm, I wanted to believe it was him. But, when The Imposter was here with his friend Narrow for quite some time, we both realized it wasn’t Tiny.

We love wildebeest. The expressions on their faces is priceless

Good grief. Not to sound species-specific profiling, but many of the animals do look alike. Often it’s the most subtle of markings and traits that enable us to determine who is who. Although massive, I should have picked it up that The Imposter wasn’t as big as Tiny, nor were the size of warts on his temples.

Now, we wait with bated breath for the real Tiny to return to us. It could be days, weeks or months, or even never. We lost Tusker when we were at the Orange house, and he never returned after Basket scared him away, declaring his territory. A similar scenario could have transpired in the four weeks we were gone. Also, warthogs are often hit by cars on Olifant Road, the main paved road in Marloth Park.

As in the past, Broken Horn stops by each day.

We’ll be sad if Tiny doesn’t return, but we realize this is the bush, and anything can happen to these majestic animals living in the wild.

We hope all of our readers are safe from harm and still managing to cope with the throes of Covid, still facing all of us worldwide.

Photo from one year ago today, July 30, 2020:

This photo is from the year-ago post while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #129. Check out the size of the fish and steak portions. Tom was craving peanuts, and we added a few packages to the stash. The brats in the bottom right of the photo are gluten, grain, and sugar-free. The total cost for this haul was US $109,38, ZAR 1595. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…We’re back to booking future travels!!!…Building a new itinerary…

Azamara Onward, with a capacity of 692 passengers. In yesterday’s post, we wrote about building a new itinerary, as shown at this link. After a long travel hiatus due to Covid-19, we are excited for the future as more and more cruises and countries open up. Also, we have now been vaccinated with the two-week window of increasing protection from the virus; our spirits and enthusiasm are growing exponentially.

It’s been a long time since we were busy logging information into our  Excel spreadsheet with all the information relevant to each cruise. Yesterday, it was fun for us to work together compiling pertinent data on these two cruises to plug into the fields on the “cruise sheet” in our travel data workbook.

We have three cruises in and around Japan, beginning on February 27, 2022, the first leg departing from Singapore, before these newly booked Azamara cruises. The Japan cruises are all on Celebrity Solstice, one of our favorite cruise ships we’ve sailed many times. It would be fun to experience that ship once again. However, we’re anticipating those cruises will be canceled.

Why are we surmising the Japan cruises will be canceled? With the Olympics starting on July 23, ending on August 8, 2021, it will be interesting to see if there’s been a spike in Covid-19, although spectators aren’t allowed. If there is a massive increase in cases in Japan, we expect these cruises will be canceled. Once again, we’ll be watching the stats on cases from Worldometer at this link.

Japan is currently in the #34 position worldwide, with the USA in the #1 for most cases and deaths. South Africa has moved up the list from the #20 position a few months ago to the #17 position. To see the stats for the numbers of vaccinations given worldwide, check this link.

Staying informed about the Covid-19 stats is very important to us now. It allows us to see where, most likely, we’ll be able to travel in the future. Then again, we’re heading back to South Africa with abysmal stats, with only 2.5% of the population vaccinated thus far.

Fortunately, Marloth Park is less populated and currently has a program in place to vaccinate residents. The question here is: How many residents will agree to get vaccinated when many have negative opinions of the safety and efficacy of the vaccine? That remains to be seen in months to come.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, here is the pricing information for June and July’s two new cruise bookings.  Also, see that post here for the many perks we got from booking with Costco:

CRUISE PRICING

Istanbul to Istanbul on June 29, 2022

Price Summary for 2 Travelers

Cruise Package $6,749.00 $2,699.00: Total $9,448.00

Taxes and Fees $345.06 $345.06 Total $690.12

Total Package Price $7,094.06 $3,044.06 Total $10,138.12

Payment Details

Total Package Price $10,138.12

Payment(s) Applied ($1,100.00)

Balance $9,038.12

Final Payment Due Date 02/15/2022

The second leg of our back-to-back cruise from July 10 to July 20, 2022 itinerary is as follows:  (See yesterday’s post for the itinerary for the June 29, 2022 cruise from Istanbul to Istanbul):

Date Port of Call Arrival Departure
07/10/2022 Istanbul 06:00 PM
07/11/2022 Cruising
07/12/2022 Kavala 06:30 AM 08:00 PM
07/13/2022 Thessaloniki 08:00 AM 08:00 PM
07/14/2022 Volos 07:30 AM 06:00 PM
07/15/2022 Mykonos 08:00 AM 06:00 PM
07/16/2022 Rhodes 08:00 AM 10:00 PM
07/17/2022 Thira/Santorini 08:00 AM 10:00 PM
07/18/2022 Heraklion 08:00 AM 08:00 PM
07/19/2022 Nafplion 09:00 AM 06:00 PM
07/20/2022 Athens/Piraeus 05:00 AM

Istanbul to Athens on July 10, 2022

Price Summary for 2 Travelers

Cruise Package  $5,199.00  $2,079.00  $7,278.00

Taxes and Fees  $201.57  $201.57 $403.14

Total Package Price  $5,400.57  $2,280.57  $2,280.57

Payment(s) Applied ($1,100.00)

Balance $6,581.14

Final Payment Due 02/26/2022

Yesterday morning we visited dear friend Sue and had a fantastic time!.  Later Tom went to his sister Mary’s home for their usual Thursday evening barbecue while I went with Greg and the three grandchildren to dinner at Champs, followed by a movie, “Black Widow.” We all had a lot of fun. When Greg dropped me back at the hotel, Tom returned to the hotel and came outside to say goodbye.

The time in Minnesota has come to an end. Without a doubt, this was one of the best visits we’ve had to the US over the past almost nine years. Everything fell into place, and we had continuing opportunities to spend with family members. Now, as I wrap up this post to upload in a few minutes, we’re heading out the door to drive to Milwaukee to see Sister Beth.

On Sunday night, we’ll return to Minneapolis to take our flight to Las Vegas, Nevada. We decided to return here to save on the cost of the car rental fee by returning it to the same location and better flights and times for Las Vegas.

The next time we write will be tomorrow morning from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Be content.

Photo from one year ago today, July 16, 2020:

Please note: all of our year-ago photos are reposts we utilized while in lockdown in India for ten months. At this point of this post, we’d been in lockdown for 115 days—a view of the cemetery in Boveglio, Italy, in 2013, from the iron railing. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…We’re back to booking future travels!!!…Building a new itinerary…

Yesterday, we not only booked the cruise on the Black Sea but also booked the “back-to-back” (the next cruise, on the day of arrival), which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post. Tomorrow is a travel day for us as we make our way to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to see Tom’s sister, Sister Beth, where we’ll spend two days in a hotel.

I will undoubtedly use the workout facility.

As for the itinerary for this ship, see below:

Azamara

11 Nights – Azamara (Istanbul – Round Trip)

Cruise Line: Azamara

Ship Name: Azamara Onward Not Yet Rated

Cruise Length: 11 Nights

Departure Date: 06/29/2022

Embarkation Port: Istanbul, Turkey

Return Date: 07/10/2022

Disembarkation Port: Istanbul, Turkey

Sailing Itinerary

Date Port of Call Arrival Departure

06/29/2022 Istanbul 06:00 PM

06/30/2022 Varna/Bulgaria 08:00 AM 08:00 PM

07/01/2022 Burgas 08:00 AM 08:00 PM

07/02/2022 Constanta 07:00 AM 08:00 PM

07/03/2022 Odesa/Ukraine 09:30 AM

07/04/2022 Odesa/Ukraine 08:00 PM

07/05/2022 Cruising

07/06/2022 Sochi 08:00 AM 09:00 PM

07/07/2022 Batumi 08:00 AM 05:00 PM

07/08/2022 Cruising

07/09/2022 Istanbul 08:00 AM

07/10/2022 Istanbul

Once we arrive back in Istanbul, Turkey, we’ll move to another cabin on the same deck but on the opposite side of the ship for better viewing for the upcoming itinerary on this ship’s next leg for another ten days, July 10 to July 20, 2022, ending in Athens, Greece. We’ll include our costs for the balcony cabins for both cruises and the second leg’s itinerary in tomorrow’s post.

The theatre for nightly shows.

As for today, our last family day in Minnesota, Tom will be joining his family for the Thursday barbecue at his sister Mary’s home, while tonight, I’m going to a movie with Greg’s family. At 11:00 am this morning, we’re heading to visit our dear friend Sue, former neighbor and widow of our beloved, since deceased friend Chip, who passed away five months before we left in 2012. We hadn’t seen Sue since we were here in 2017 since she spent the winters in Florida. It will be wonderful to see her again.

This morning, Tom took our vaccination certificates to Office Max and had them make copies to be laminated and kept the originals to be amended for boosters in the future if required. Oddly, Office Max didn’t charge to do this. Go figure.

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back with more tomorrow, perhaps later in the day, completed after arriving at our hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 15, 2020:

Some flowers continue to bloom through the summer season, as is the case in this Alstroemeria. For more photos, please click here.

The booking process has changed over the years…The itinerary for our US visit in 3 weeks…

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 13 warthogs – inc. Little, Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred and Ethel, The Imposter, Peter, Paul and Mary, and others
  • 6 bushbucks – inc. Thick Neck, Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 10 kudus – inc. Little Daddy, Bossy, Baby Daddy, Medium Daddy
  • 2 wildebeest – inc Broken Horn, Old Face,
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

Note: Included above is our video mentioned in yesterday’s post. As it turned out, only a few minutes after making this video, two more bushbucks appeared for a total of 10. What a fantastic start to a chilly morning in the bush!

On our way to the river, we encountered a dazzle of zebras.

At the beginning of our world travels in 2012, when we first started booking holiday homes, flights, and rental cars, the process was very different than it is now. At times, it was slow and cumbersome with inconsistent methods, including sketchy confirmations when we were done booking.

It’s a whole new world now. Websites are working more efficiently, and the booking process is easier than ever in the past. That’s not to say we don’t encounter problems. We do. But they are minimal and often quickly resolved,

Great message on this sign on the fence at Two Trees Crocodile River viewing location.

Over the past three days, we’ve been busy planning and booking the following for our trip to the US, leaving in a mere three weeks from today.

  • June 29, 2021 – Flight from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger to Johannesburg, South Africa
  • June 29, 2021 – Hotel in Johannesburg (awaiting next day’s flight)
  • June 30, 2021 – Flight from Johannesburg to Minneapolis, Minnesota, US
  • July 1, 2021 – Rental car upon arrival in Minnesota
  • July 1, 2021 – Hotel in Eden Prairie, Minnesota
  • July 16, 2021 –  Drive to Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Hotel yet to be booked
  • July 18, 2021 – Return Drive from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for an upcoming flight
  • July 18, 2021 – Flight to Las Vegas, McCarran Airport
  • July 18, 2021 – Hotel at Green Valley Ranch, Henderson, Nevada
  • July 24, 2021 – Flight from Las Vegas to Johannesburg, South Africa
  • July 26, 2021 – Flight from Johannesburg to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger
  • July 26, 2021 – Return Drive to Marloth Park, arriving late afternoon

    More elephant photos from our visit to the Crocodile River.

As mentioned above, we’ve found that booking all of these flights, cars and venues are considerably easier than they were in the past. In some cases, the payment process may require a few steps to verify the use of a credit card which we don’t mind. Our credit card numbers have been stolen on several occasions, demanding that we find a way to receive a new card, which is tricky in some locations.

For most of our travels, we’ve used either of two credit cards, one of Tom’s and one of mine, that both accumulate tons of points for travel, which we often use to pay down a new balance, rather than specify it for a particular event. So for us, it’s the best way to take advantage of accrued points.

The majestic elephant never disappoints.

After our extended stay in the hotel in India, using Hotels.com on our site, we accumulated many credits we’re using for the hotels in the US. Every ten nights that we stayed in that hotel which we booked through Hotels.com, we earned one free night, which is limited to the average dollar amount spent for previous hotel rooms. Because the hotel in Mumbai averaged around US $100, ZAR 1359 per night, our credits are limited based on the high cost of hotels in the US.

After totaling all of our expenses, including still paying rent for this house in Marloth Park, we’ll easily spend US $10,000, ZAR 135942, for the 28 days, averaging US $357, ZAR 4853, per day. Of course, we will be keeping track of all of our expenses and include them here at the end of our stay.

No doubt, birds are used to being fed while humans watch the action on the river.

Meals will be a considerable expense during the trip. Fortunately, our hotel in Minnesota has a kitchen. That’s not to say I will be cooking all of our meals. Breakfast is included in the hotel. But, I can easily see us heading to Costco to purchase a few dinners from time to time.

In Las Vegas/Henderson, we’ll be staying at the fabulous Green Valley Ranch Hotel, Spa, and Casino, where breakfast is not included. With numerous restaurants within walking distance, we will indeed have trouble finding a good spot for breakfast. Most likely, we’ll be dining out most nights with Richard and friends. It will all work out.

More entertaining us in hopes of being fed. Next time, we’ll bring birdseed.

As for today, we’re staying put. There is an endless stream of wildlife to entertain us. We’re making a big pot of slow-cooked short ribs for dinner. And, after the past few days, busy booking for the trip, I need to spend some serious time getting caught up doing post corrections. Unfortunately, I doubt I will have time to do edits while we’re in the US, so I’d like to double up until we depart or the next three weeks.

We hope you have a fantastic day!

P.S. I have been inside trying to stay warm for the past hour, with the door closed. In the bedroom, I opened the bedroom door to check out the garden’s action and found Frank wandering around inside the house. LMAO!!! Frank, what a guy!

Photo from one year ago today, June 8, 2020:

While on a walk in the neighborhood in Sumbersari, Bali, in 2016, we spotted this friendly neighbor (she spoke no English) making bowls as shown that are used for offerings at the Hindu temples. For more photos, please click here.

Rainy Sunday morning…Will our plans for the river be dashed?…A decision is made…

Wildebeests in the driveway near the rental car.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 9 warthogs – inc. Little, Lonely Girl, and others
  • 12 bushbucks – inc. Thick Neck, Bad Leg,
  • 6 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 1 kudu- inc. Medium Daddy
  • 3 hornbills – banging on the kitchen window for hours
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

With plans for river sightings with Rita and Gerhard today at 3:00 pm, a rainy morning may indicate that we won’t be heading out today. Anxious for new photos to share here, after a steady stream of regulars in the garden, day after day (which we love but our readers may not), we have been looking forward to seeing our friends again with an opportunity to take big game photos.

The wildlife tends to hunker down on rainy and windy days, so if we go, regardless of the weather, we may not see much action on the river today. However, right now and last night, we could hear lions Fluffy and Desi roaring in Lionspruit, which abuts the end of our back garden. We’ve listened to that roar over and over again, and it always makes us smile. What an exquisite sound!

Hornbills next to the veranda enjoying Frank’s seeds.

It’s not only the photos and videos we take that make this experience so delightful. The sounds, day and night, are thrilling and, at the same time, heartwarming; whether it’s birds or animals, it all sends a chill down our spines. So many of these sounds may be heard when viewing any of our videos, over and above my endless chatter describing the current scene in view.

Of course, our big concern is that our readers will become bored with photos of warthogs, bushbucks, and kudus and lose interest in our site. So we always strive to “shake it up,” but with the limitations for travel due to Covid-19, we’re fast running out of new and exciting photos.

Then again, I have been under the weather for almost three weeks, continuing to cough, and haven’t felt like doing much of anything other than sitting on the veranda watching our furry friends stop by for a warm “hello” and, of course, pellets, carrots, apples, and cabbage.

A dark-capped bulbul. Sorry for the blurry photo. They don’t stay still for a good shot.

Well, folks, maybe it will get more interesting coming up here in 23 days when we are finally leaving South Africa for about a little over three weeks to return to the US for several reasons; 1. to see our family members in Minnesota, Nevada ad Wisconsin; 2. to get the Covid-19 J & J  vaccine, which is readily available at many locations in the Twin Cities; and 3. to get that darned visa stamp we so much need, when our visas expire on June 30th.

It doesn’t seem realistic that SA President Cyril Ramaphosa will be extending visas for foreign nationals again in the next 24 days. He opened visas last time at the beginning of a month to June 30th, not at the end, as we need at this point. So it’s doubtful the dates will coincide with our needs.

Thus, yesterday afternoon, we began booking rental cars and hotels for our already-in-place flight from Johannesburg to Minneapolis on June 30th with Lufthansa Airlines. So all we have left to book is:

  1. A round trip flight from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger to Joburg
  2. A one-way flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas to visit son Richard
  3. A return flight from Las Vegas to Joburg

    Warthogs and mongoose get along well, paying little attention to one another.

We have yet to book the Las Vegas/Henderson hotel, which we’ll do today, planning on staying at the Green Valley Ranch Spa and Casino in Henderson, which is close to Richard‘s home. Unfortunately, we will be in Las Vegas during the hottest month of the year, so we won’t spend much time outdoors if we can help it.

As for visiting Tom’s dear sister, Sister Beth, a nun in a nursing home in Milwaukee, we will drive from Minneapolis, returning a few days later to fly to Las Vegas from there. We’ll see Sister Beth, and then Tom wants to visit a few cemeteries for his Ancestry stuff.

It will be a busy time, and we hope to take many photos along the way. But, of course, we’ll continue to post each day, even during the long travel days while on long layovers.

At this point, regardless of the visa scenario changing again for foreign nationals in South Africa, we’re committed to leaving Marloth Park on June 29th to begin the long journey to the US. We hope to get our J & J vaccine on July 2, which we plan to book before leaving here.

Also, the rain stopped, and the sun came out. It looks like we’ll be able to go to the river today, after all! We’ll be back with more tomorrow, including what we’ll be doing with our vacation home during our absence.

Have a fantastic Sunday!

Photo from one year ago today, June 6, 2020:

While in Campanaria, Madeira, Portugal, we heard the music coming from the fish guy’s truck and raced up the hill to meet him. He held up a tuna for us to inspect. It was smaller than some of the others, but this size was perfect. It weighed 7.7 kg, 17 pounds, and the cost was INR 2569, US $34. He cut them into portion-sized pieces, wrapping each piece individually. For more photos, please click here.

Stars in our eyes…Stripes in our garden…It’s our 26th wedding anniversary today…What does it cost us for food in South Africa?…

As of today, we’ve been married for 26 years. Last year in India, we celebrated our 25th, but now, that seems so long ago. We are blessed to have this great union, two people of opposites that somehow meet in the middle to find love, companionship, friendship, and harmony. Who knew we’d be able to travel the world together for over eight years and see so much joy in our everyday lives, regardless of where we may be at any given time?

We waited quite a while to pick up their heads for a photo, but they were preoccupied.

If anyone had asked if we could spend ten months in lockdown in a hotel room in Mumbai, India, we may have laughed, uncertain if our usual state of harmony and love would survive. And, it did. Not only did we survive, emotionally intact, but all the stronger for it. Happy anniversary, Tom Lyman! May our lives together continue to be enriched in years to come.

They often head-butt one another when the pellets get low.

Last night, we headed to Jabula Lodge & Restaurant for our anniversary dinner, dining outside on the veranda and enjoying, as usual, a fine meal. It’s often surprising to us how affordable it is to dine out in Marloth Park. We dined at Jabula twice this week, on Thursday with Linda and Ken, and again last night.

The cost for each evening was approximately US $40, ZAR $615, which included taxes, tips, cocktails for Tom, and a bottle of my favorite Four Cousins Skinny Red Wine which I drank from on both occasions, with another glass or two left in the bottle that we brought home last night. There is nowhere in the world we’ve been able to enjoy such good food at such reasonable prices.

Zebras with their heads down only interested in the pellets.

Our total grocery bill since we arrived here on January 13th with enough food to last us for another week was US $1081, ZAR 16609. This averaged US $136, ZAR 2074 per week. Our entire dining out bill for these eight weeks was US $251, ZAR 3856. The total for food thus far was US 1332, ZAR 20465, averaged US $167, ZAR 2566 per week.

This was the first of the zebras to take a drink from the pool, and the others followed suit.

When we lived in Minnesota, shopping for groceries in 2012, we spent an average of US $225, ZAR 3457 per week. Dining out typically was US $100, ZAR 1536, and thus we didn’t go out to eat in the US as readily as we do here. As we’ve always said, it’s good for our budget to be living in South Africa, let alone all the other beautiful reasons.

As you can see from today’s photos, we were thrilled to see zebras in the garden finally. It was funny how it happened. One of the four zebras snuck up from the side of the house and peered out at us on the veranda, checking out the situation. Moments later, the four of them were busy munching on pellets, rarely taking a second to look up.

They seem to copy one another’s activities.

Zebras aren’t like kudus, wildebeest, warthogs, and bushbucks, who make eye contact and respond to our voices. They never look us in the eye. Although it’s pretty enjoyable to watch them interact with one another, pushing and shoving one moment and cuddling the next, they have little interest in us humans. Nonetheless, a visit from them is always welcomed.

Tonight, we are getting together with Linda and Ken to celebrate our anniversary. And, tomorrow night, their last night in MP, we’re meeting for dinner at the Amazing Kruger View Restaurant, formerly known as AAmazing River View. The restaurant overlooks the Crocodile River for some often exciting views. Bubbly is on the menu for sure.

Although there is chlorine in the pool, here, they use so little. It’s not harmful to the animals to drink from the pool.

Today, it is sweltering and humid. It’s so much so that I decided to stay inside in the bedroom to cool off for a bit while I finish today’s post.

We hope you’ve been having a good weekend. We certainly have enjoyed this four-day run of social activities with our special friends in Marloth Park. We never tire of the people or the wildlife and can’t imagine, we ever will.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 7, 2020:

In an old vehicle located at the Best Exotic Marigold  Hotel, Us is referred to as a Willy/Jeep. For that post, please click here.