After five monotonous sea days on the cruise ship, Vision of the Seas, we made land in the Azores Islands. We disembarked as quickly as we could…and boarded a smaller boat.
The Futirisimo took us on our quest for dolphins and whales. I can’t say it was the best whale watching experience I’ve ever had (I’m not sure anything will beat the first time we went off the coast of Ecuador), but we did get to see a mighty Blue Whale.
I went to visit my friend Lois last year. Not too long after I walked in the door I said “I want to take a repositioning cruise!” She said ok and that she also wanted to spend a month on the French Riviera. So began our plan for our Mediterranean trip.
By the time I left her house 5 days later, we had booked a cruise from Texas to Barcelona, an apartment in Barcelona for five days, an apartment in Cassis, France for a month, and our flight home three weeks after that. Over the course of the next few months we added houses and hotels on Sicily, hotels in Rome and London, and planes, trains and automobiles in between.
Our (Much Too Short) Stay on the Istrian Peninsula
I can’t tell you how many times we were asked this question while we were planning our trip to Croatia. I suppose people from the states still associate Croatia with the Yugoslav wars. In reality, there is very little to remind you of the war that ended in 1995. Croatia is a beautiful country, with friendly people, excellent food, and an interesting history.
We actually started our adventure from Trieste, Italy. We drove our cute little Alfa Romeo south from Trieste, through Slovenia, and into Croatia. Our first stop was Umag, a port town almost directly across the Adriatic Sea from Venice. We stopped for a quick lunch before hitting the road and heading further south.
Sometimes things happen to change your plans. Read more »
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Prior to our trip to the Balkans, we had heard some of the border crossings could be difficult and that people had been turned away. We were especially concerned about the crossing entering Bosnia and Herzegovina from Croatia at Neum, just north of Dubrovnik, and again when you cross back into Croatia. Bosnia and Herzegovina has a small (5 mile long) stretch of coastline so you have to pass through that country if you’re driving south along the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. If we couldn’t get across that border we couldn’t get to our next destination, Dubrovnik.
All told, we drove across borders into/from former Yugoslavian countries eleven times: Read more »
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Curtis and I are always looking for ways to travel just a little bit cheaper, without giving up basic comforts. On a recent trip to the Balkans, we decided to try Ryanair. I had first heard about Ryanair, a low-cost airline in Europe, in 2004 and had wanted to try them ever since.
The biggest issue we’ve had with the airline is that it flies out of smaller airports, and it’s not real convenient. We finally decided to bite the bullet. We flew into London Heathrow from D/FW and arrived in time for breakfast. We’re really big fans of an English breakfast, so we stopped at The Globe in the Arrivals Hall. We had hot tea, fried eggs, toast, grilled tomatoes, hash browns, and of course what the English call baked beans (what we call pork and beans). If you’ve never had pork and beans on toast, you are missing a treat! This breakfast is one we recreate at home fairly frequently.
After breakfast, we just had to walk to the Central Bus Station Read more »
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Kathy and Curtis stand on the banks of the Mara River
Our adventure to The Serengeti was timed to coincide with The Great Migration. Our four days on the Serengeti provided more than enough opportunity to witness this bucket list worthy spectacle of nature first hand.
The migration consists of 1.7 million wildebeest who wander in a large circular region throughout Kenya and Tanzania, following seasonal availability of grazing and water. The migration has various interwoven parts. There are the wildebeest themselves who get it all started. Then there are the zebras who travel along with the wildebeest as companions, along with gazelles, antelopes and impalas. Then there are the predators. The crocodiles lie in wait in the rivers, waiting for a meal to cross. Following the large migrating herds are the large cats and hyenas, right on their heels, picking off the young, old and weak stragglers. Lastly comes the cleanup crew, the vultures. Oh, and I forgot to mention the humans. Dozens of Land Cruisers, loaded with tourists and their cameras, lining the riverbanks watching the spectacle unfold Read more »
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One of the best ways to discover what a country is all about is through their food. The Netherlands is no exception. We checked around and discovered that one traditional local food is none other than “Pickled Herring”.
Curtis buying the herring at a sidewalk stand
The small raw fish are pickled whole in salt, and then in vinegar. In The Netherlands they are served as a street food with pickles (the cucumber kind) and onions. There are two varieties of this Dutch delicacy, Amsterdam style and Rotterdam style. The only difference is in the presentation, not in the herring itself. Simply put, Amsterdam style is served whole and Rotterdam style is served with the fish cut into bite size pieces. We opted for the Rotterdam style, since we would be sharing. Read more »
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Curtis and I love to go to markets whenever we travel.
The first market we ever went to together was in Athens, Greece, on our honeymoon. We had just spent several hours wandering around the Acropolis and surrounding area and happened upon a flea market. It was block after block of…well, stuff. Old shoes, kitchen gadgets, chess sets, tools, pictures, jewelry, pottery, and statues. The one thing we remember about this market, and it’s a vivid memory, is the gyro stand. Gyro stands in Europe are amazing…the meat (chicken, lamb, beef) is pressed into a huge “loaf” and then stuck on a vertical rotisserie stand. The rotisserie spins, allowing the outside of the “loaf” to be cooked evenly. The meat is then carved off the “loaf” and served in a pita with tomatoes, tzatziki sauce, and, in this case, French fries. It was absolutely delicious! It was so delicious that 3 weeks later when we returned to Athens to catch our flight home we went back to the same gyro stand. And the owner remembered us!
Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market
Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market
Of course, one of the most famous markets, at least in America, is the fish market in Seattle. The Pike Place Fish Market is famous for the way the fishmongers throw the fish that have just been purchased to the person responsible for wrapping them. We also enjoyed a delicious Philly Cheese Steak at Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market. But let me tell you, these markets are nothing like markets in other countries.