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Five Days

    Africa & The Middle East Travel

    Five Days Fes to Marakesh

    Chapter Eleven Comes to an End

    Location: Morocco

    One month in Morocco has been marvelous.  We have seen so very much, and still there is much to see – so we will return one day.  But for now, I am so happy to have experienced this magical and friendly country – especially the past five days as we have traversed the diverse geography from Fes to Marrakesh.

    We hired a guide to show us parts of Morocco we

    With our guide Abdul

    would find difficult to reach on our own – and I am so glad we did.  Our fantastic guide Abdul from Your Morocco Tours was amazing(5 days only $250 per person).  He safely drove us for five days and was funny, interesting and proud of his country and his heritage.

    Have I mentioned how friendly everyone is?  

    Ziz Valley

    With our friends Steve and Sarah we left Fes on a Saturday morning for the long but beautiful drive.  We began to climb into the mountains only a few hours out of Fes.  Eventually we made it to the beautiful Ziz Valley.  Here we began to see the red rocks and reddish pink buildings I had always imagined when I thought of Morocco.  Although the white and blue and green and grey we had seen up to this time was beautiful in its own way – this red color of the desert against the green of

    Desert sunset

    the date palm trees made me feel I was part of a movie set.

    Have I mentioned how great all the roads are?

    After a long day of driving we arrived in the desert, just in time for a spectacular sunset over the Sahara.  It was breathtaking.  I didn’t want it to end.  Awash in orange from sand to sky it was spectacular.

    We then continued a short distance into the dunes to our spectacular hotel called Kasbah Azalay.  Stunning.  How can this be our hotel when we paid so little for this tour?  Not only was it pretty in a very Moroccan way but the service and hospitality was perfect.  We enjoyed a lovely tagine for dinner

    On the camels

    and a good nights sleep.

    A more leisurely day was on hand for Sunday and after breakfast we climbed the dunes and shopped for scarfs in the town of Merzouga.  We then enjoyed a visit to the village of Kamila where we sipped mint tea and listened to the authentic Gnaoua music of the region performed by the ancestors of the original Sudanese slaves who were brought here five hundred years ago.  Their efforts to preserve their culture and music are commendable and we danced and had a great time with them.

    Have I mentioned that this country, more than any other, is where I want to buy things – pottery, rugs, leather? I am restraining myself.

    Late in the afternoon we arrived at the staging area for our camel trek into the desert.  To be completely accurate it’s actually a dromedary trek.  Camels are the beasts with two humps.  The animals with one hump are technically dromedaries, but everyone calls them camels so, hey, whatever!

    On the camel trek with arne

    I wasn’t really sure how this was going to go – was it scary? Painful? Smelly?  Actually, it was a teeny bit painful – but mostly just fun.   The dromedaries were not smelly, they didn’t spit or bite, but once you are sitting up on one, you realize this ain’t no horse.  Wow.  They lumber along and your leg muscles feel the movement, but honestly the next day it was my arms that were sore, from trying to hold on when the camel goes down a hill, or sits down.

    There were ten of us riding and after an hour and half on the camel, including a stop to watch another spectacular Sahara sunset, we arrived at the nomad camp.  We were assigned tents with beds and served tea while we waited for another group of 18 to arrive.  When they did we all had dinner together (tagine) and then a bonfire and music around the fire.  By this time the temperature had plummeted and we put all our clothes on including wool socks and hats and snuggled under the covers for the night.

    Have I mentioned there are more stars in the sky in Morocco?  Billions.

    Wake up at 6am and you immediately feel the pain in your legs (and crotch) and arms.  Yikes.  But back on the camel we go, even before I get a cup of coffee.  Ugh.  I was hoping my camel knew the way to the nearest Starbucks, but instead he took us out of camp into the dunes to watch the sunrise.  Surreal.  And way better than Starbucks.

    Dunes

    After the sunrise and a thousand more photos we were back in the saddle and headed back to town, where we were served a nice breakfast (with plenty of coffee) and had a hot shower before we reconnected with our guide Abdul and began day three of our tour.

    We drove away from the dunes and into the amazing Moroccan red rock canyons and gorges.  A

    Todgha Gorge

    truly surprising area of Morocco I had never even heard of.  The Todgha Gorge was stunning and we enjoyed it late in the afternoon where the 1000 foot walls had sunlight on the tops, but the river was in the shadow of the mountains.  We also visited a remarkable fossil museum where we learned about

    Fossils

    the 500 million year old ocean fossils found in this area and another place where we learned about the ingenious well and aqueduct system the Berber people built to access and save water from the

    Ancient wells

    Atlas mountains 300 years ago.

    Have I mentioned  how diverse the geography is? From ocean to desert to mountains to rivers to lakes.

    Finally we arrived in the Dades Gorge, another amazing marvel of Mother Nature, where our hotel for the night was perched on a cliff overlooking the valley below.  We enjoyed an authentic Moroccan couscous meal and met a nice couple from Seattle and swapped stories before a good nights sleep.

    Up and on our way in the morning we drove to see

    Monkey Feet

    more ancient Kasbahs perched in the Dades Gorge and throughout the red rock region and stopped to view the geological wonder called Monkey’s Feet.  A geology uplift of rock that is unique to this area and impossible to describe.  And yes, it did look a bit like the bottom of a monkey’s foot.

    Midday we visited one of the best preserved Kasbahs in Morocco, the Amerhidil – built-in the 17th century and in remarkable condition.  Given that most of this construction is made from mud and straw bricks, finding well-preserved ones of this age is unusual.  We toured the building, ate a delicious lunch of grilled turkey kebab and then headed on our way to our hotel.

    This night we stayed in another very beautiful boutique hotel with exceptional customer service.  Everywhere we go the people are so kind and helpful and that is the case at Riad Tama.  Big rooms, and a beautiful garden and a lovely restaurant where we enjoyed a a French inspired dinner.

    Have I mentioned a Dar is a house, a Riad means garden but is often used to refer to a hotel or house with a garden?

    Day five- our final day began early at 8:30 with our fabulous guide Abdul as we headed off to the

    Kasar Air Ben Haddou

    famous and well-preserved Kasar of Air Ben Haddou where we spent a couple of hours walking with an incredible guide who had been raised in this village. Morocco has a big film industry and this place is one that is often featured in many films including Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, and Jewel of the Nile.

    Have I mentioned a kasbah is a house of a rich family usually with four towers while a kasar is a fortified village with more than one kasbah?

    Our final day continued with another spectacular

    All together and a wonderful time.

    drive with surprising scenery and geography over the Tizi Tichka Pass to the famous city of Marrakesh – our final stop of our Morocco adventure.  We will be in Marrakesh for three days.

    We loved our tour!  An inspiring experience in a magical place.

    In the future when I think of Morocco I will certainly remember the cities we have visited (Casablanca, Chefchaouen, Tangier, Asilah, Fes and Marrakesh) but I think it will be the rural areas I will remember most fondly.  The desert is such a special place to be, and to be able to sleep there and see the stars at night and ride the camels – unforgettable.  The gorges and red rocks and Kasbahs of old are like something out of a movie set (and some are) but they are real.  And beautiful.  And cherished by the wonderful Moroccan people.

    Five Days from Fes to Marrakesh.  What an experience.  What a lucky girl.  What a life.

    Fabulous!

     

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

    Reading Wednesday

    I have never read Harris’ more well-known novel Chocolat, but I think I should now because I truly loved this book. Here is my book review Five Quarters of the Orange by JoAnne Harris.

    France During the War

    The place is a tiny village on the Loire River in France during the German occupation in World War II. This is a place where a terrible tragedy occurs. Who is responsible for this terrible tragedy and how does it change the lives of so many people? This will unfold in the pages of Five Quarters of the Orange.

    Framboise is nine years old the summer of the tragedy. A precocious but naive young girl, whose disdain for her mother leads her to create often cruel ways that put her sensitive mother to bed for days – allowing Framboise and her older siblings to run about the village unsupervised. Framboise summer goal is to catch the mysterious giant Loire River pike called Old Mother, but she unexpectedly finds herself developing a crush on a German soldier.

    The Tragedy

    Framboise mother, Mirabelle Dartigen, is looked on by the villagers as “unusual” and perhaps even a witch for her odd behavior. Mirabelle keeps a scrapbook of recipes that also serves as somewhat of a journal and will play an important role in unraveling the events of that fateful summer.

    The family is run out of the village at the end of the summer, but decades later Framboise returns. She hopes to lead a quiet life and not be recognized as the daughter of Mirabelle Dartigen. But her secret begins to unravel as she runs a small local creperie and her nephew and his wife go to great lengths to get their hands on the infamous recipe book.

    Redemption

    This is a dark story about mothers and daughters. It is a book about being young and naive and living with our mistakes. This is a novel about food, family, and facing the past to have peace in the present. I enjoyed it very much. I hope you enjoyed my book review Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris.

    *****Five stars for Five Quarters of the Orange

    Read last week’s review of The Music of Bees

    My current read About Grace

    We love it when you pin and share our book reviews.

    Inspire

    Message From Cyprus Edition Five

    Blessings, Grief and Goals

    Location: Argaka Cyprus

    The Numbers

    Day 34 on Cyprus – Day 30 in Quarantine/Lockdown

    April 11 th marked seven months since we left the USA

    Cyprus Virus Cases as of today 620 – Deaths 13

    See below for latest news and developments from the island under lockdown.

    Blessings

    It’s Easter Sunday and I’m determined to count my blessings all day…and especially in this message before I move on to the other details of our lockdown life. There are many blessings and I remind myself this when I am falling down the rabbit hole of too much news, too much worry and too much social media. I am blessed;

    • I’m healthy and safe
    • Although I know some people with the virus, they are all acquaintances of acquaintances and so far none of my family or close circle of friends have been afflicted. That I know of.
    • My husband is with me
    • I can talk to my family and friends regularly
    • Cyprus is beautiful
    • Our villa and hosts have been exceptional
    • I have been to 110 countries and if I never get to travel again, well I have been to 110 countries and I am blessed.

    It may be Easter in most of the world, but it’s not Easter here in Cyprus. We actually get to celebrate Easter twice. Small blessing. Today we celebrate on the day most of the Christian world celebrates and next Sunday the Orthodox Easter is celebrated. It’s something to look forward to, although we won’t leave the house for either of these holidays. Blessings.

    Easter Blessings
    Easter Blessings

    Grief Becomes Goals

    Like a big heavy wet blanket, grief is oppressive as it lays on our lives. I’m aware how many people have been feeling this way, and I have too. We are grieving for our past lives and for things familiar. Recognizing what this emotion is is definitely the healthiest step we can make, and recognizing the chapters and long road we face ahead is important.

    On my run this morning I was remembering my personal battle of grief when my brother died. I was highly functioning for months following his death, handling all the gruesome details of my brother’s sudden death, pushing my grief away. There was a very poignant moment for me, when, feeling sorry for myself I was thinking how much I wanted things to just go back to normal. Normal.

    What is normal after a loss, tragedy, crisis? It was that moment that I instinctively knew the answer to one of life’s most difficult questions. There never will be a normal of old. It’s gone, just like yesterday and two minutes ago. Can’t get it back. A new normal develops…and we gradually accept and live in it.

    I think I’m making positive steps towards the new normal, as I have found myself much more engaged in trying to keep busy and definitely looking at what life will look like going forward. Blessings.

    Goals
    Keepimg Busy

    Healthy Body and Mind

    The movie Wall-E keeps running through my mind, where the human race needs to leave planet earth to let it heal. Remember? And they all live on some kind of Starship Enterprise, getting fat, and lazy and stupid.

    Oh dear.

    I am still finding it difficult to focus on reading…of all things. I should be devouring books, but I’m not. But I have found something else to take my mind off of the bad news. I’ve never allowed myself the time to listen to podcasts, take webinars, or sign up for classes on line. This past week I have done all of those things. And I have learned so much and it feels great.

    Most of the learning I’m doing online is geared towards this blog (although I snuk in a cooking class)…how might this blog look in the months and years ahead with the changes in travel? How can I keep it viable and interesting, inspiring and fun? I took a class about Pinterest and Tailwind and am considering doing an online Tailwind consulting. Tailwind has always baffled me so I kind of ignore it. I also took a wonderful webinar about Instagram and learned some fun new things. Additionally I took a live online class with other bloggers about search engine optimization and affiliate options for bloggers. BTW check out my new and improved Pinterest account here. It’s pretty.

    These are all things I never paid much attention to…but now I am learning and finding it really fascinating. Keeping my mind open to learning. I’m doing yoga and have a new app for that too and I’ve begun training for a half marathon. No Wall-E for this girl. Blessings.

    Hiking on Mauritius
    Keeping Positive

    Latest Cyprus News

    A lot of things happened this week on the island. First, the stay home lockdown has been extended to April 30 th, same as the USA. Easter has been “postponed” until May, as the government tries to get the Church to agree to not hold Easter services. A big task in this very religious country.

    We still need to ask permission to leave the house, which we do via text. We went to the grocery store this week, and were stopped by the police at a road block. We had to show our “permission” to be out, and then we were flagged through. If we didn’t have that authorization, we would each be fined $300. Thousands of citations have been given over the past few weeks and one man has been arrested for some kind of fake SMS scheme he was running.

    There was a flight that left Cyprus this week to Stockholm. We considered taking it, but decided against it. We would have needed to stay the night in Stockholm, take a second flight to London, stay the night in London and then take a third flight to Seattle. This did not seem like a healthy or safe scenario so we decided to wait.

    We received a phone call from the Embassy checking on us. They were trying to determine the level of “need” each American has. This is good, the most interest they have shown in our welfare. We are aware that there are many people who have much more urgent reasons to get back to the USA (jobs, kids etc) than we do. We are also aware of some cases where people are running out of money and need to get out. We do not fall into those categories. We continue to be safe and comfortable. Blessings.

    You may have seen the interview that I did with Q13 News in Seattle this week. It was fun to tell our story, even if they did pronounce my name wrong. It’s okay – not the first time I’ve been called Loud. 🙂

    In our original itinerary we would have been touring the Caucasus right now; Armenia. Georgia and Azerbaijan. But we aren’t so no point in dwelling on it. It’s the new normal.

    Still waiting for Airbnb to make it right by us. Flights we had in May have now all been canceled. Unfortunately they are giving credit not cash. Ugh.

    My gut tells me we will be here until May…assuming the airport opens in early May. At that time we will determine a plan of action. But until then, we will certainly consider any possible flight that comes available, but more likely we will spend our days here, waiting like the rest of the world. Blessings.

    Stay safe my friends. Be good to each other. Happy Easter.

    Cyprus Lockdown
    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Five Presidents by Clint Hill

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    This story is truly incredible.  But so is the way I stumbled onto this book.

    I follow Mike Rowe on Facebook…you know the funny “Dirty Jobs” guy in the baseball hat.  A month or more ago I saw a post from Mike Rowe about meeting a guy in a bar.  An older gentleman who ordered a drink called a “Clint”.  When the bartender was puzzled, the man pulled a card from his pocket, on one side was his name and information and on the other, the recipe for his favorite and personal drink the “Clint”.

    Of course Mike Rowe was intrigued and they struck up a conversation.  I don’t know how long the spoke but I do know Rowe was flabbergasted to find that he was sitting next to a man who had first hand experience at some of our countries most poignant and sorrowful moments.  Mr. Clint Hill, who served five Presidents in the Secret Service.  Mr. Clint Hill, who infamously is the agent clinging to the back of the convertible while Jackie Kennedy reaches across the trunk of that car to collect pieces of her husbands brain.

    Yes that man.  He ordered a “Clint”.

    Rowe later writes about his meeting Hill on his Facebook page, and suddenly sales of his book “Five Presidents” rockets on Amazon.  I am one of those people who purchased the book for my Kindle and I learn that Hill has also written two other best sellers “Five Days in November” and “Me and Mrs.Kennedy”.

    So that is how I came to find this book.  And once I started it I couldn’t put it down.  Writing with the help of author Lisa McCubbin, Hill describes his incredible life as a secret service agent, beginning with President Eisenhower and ending with President Ford…through some of this nations most turbulent times; assasinations, civil rights, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, Watergate and so much more – Clint Hill had a front row seat to it all.

    It’s funny because I never really thought that much about what these men (and now women) sacrifice in the line of duty.  Hill admittedly left the service when the unnamed (at the time) post traumatic stress disorder drove him to alcohol.  He sacrificed seeing his children grow as he traveled all over the world.  He slept little and gave 110% every day of his long career.

    And it all is spelled-out in the fascinating book about a fascinating man and his fascinating journey.

    Five stars for Five Presidents.  A remarkable read.

    Read last week’s review of Nectar in a Sieve

    Asia Travel

    Seven Boats, Three Days, One Rare Bangladesh

    One for the record books – our visit to Bangladesh

    Location: Bangladesh

    Throw back Monday! Enjoy this one from a year ago once again. One of my favorite experiences.

    We would not have normally come to Bangladesh, except the opportunity was here because our friend Natalie is a teacher in Dhaka.  I preach frequently the need to visit less tourism developed places – and yet am guilty of wanting to see places like the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, Table Mountain.

    One rare Bangladesh

    Beautiful Bangladeshi dancer

    And so our decision to visit Bangladesh helped us make the leap to a place no one goes, except our friend Natalie.

    We connected with Deshghuri Tours – one of a handful of tour companies catering to the few Westerners who come here, mostly Canadians, Germans and

    One rare Bangladesh

    Fort Lalbagh

    Americans.  Because our time was short we booked a three-day tour with Deshghuri.  It’s difficult to see Bangladesh without a guide.  The cities are crowded and Dhaka is plagued with air pollution.  Driving here is, shall we say, daunting.  So a tour is a must.

    Our first day was to see the densely packed city of Dhaka – home to 20 million people.  Bangladesh is the 8th most populous country in the world and

    One rare bangladesh

    At the beautiful mosaic mosque

    Dhaka has a density of 23,234 people per square kilometer within a total area of 300 square kilometers.  We spent the day weaving in and out of traffic, but also enjoying getting in and out of the car to see some remarkable sites; mosques, temples, university, and the 600-year-old Lalbagh Fort that serves as a lovely oasis in the city.  It was here we really began to feel how unusual it is to have a westerner walking around Dhaka.  Bangladeshi

    One rare bangladesh

    From on board the Rocket Steamer looking at the busy port

    stopped and gaped at us, some asking for selfies, others discreetly taking our photo without asking.  Very strange.

    At the end of the day we arrived in Shadarghat, the steamer terminal and one of the busiest places in Dhaka (which is saying something).  Here we

    One rare Bangladesh

    Rocket Steamer

    boarded our first of seven boats: the 100-year-old “Rocket” paddle wheeler that plies the waters of the Buriganga River.  These boats were, in their time, the fastest thing to ever hit these waters (thus the name), but today faster and more upgraded ferries provide service.  The Rocket continues to work however, and tours often include a night aboard these vessels for the “experience”.  It was definitely an experience as we were on one of the oldest and most worn down vessels.

    On arrival in Barisal early the morning of day two of

    One rare banhladesh

    Nine dome mosque

    our tour we were met by our new guide Ontu.  After breakfast we went by car three hours to Bagherhat, a UNESCO world heritage city and one of the most historic cities in Bangladesh. On the way to Bagherhat we rode a very small and crowded car ferry which is boat number two.   On reaching Bagerhat we toured three remarkable mosques, built in the 15th century!  All still in use today. Two of these mosques were a

    One rare Bangladesh

    80 dome mosque

    remarkable architecture design of domes rather than minarets.  The first was a nine dome and the second was an 80 dome mosque.  Truly fascinating for the time period and in wonderful condition considering the climate and the years.

    We continued by car to Mongla, where we boarded

    One rare bangladesh

    Crossing the river

    boat number three:  a small wooden pirogue which we stood in to cross the very busy river.  On the other side we boarded boat number four, known as a country boat.  It was just the two of us with our guide and we sat back and enjoyed cruising the river on this small 20-foot boat.  We enjoyed a

    One rare Bangladesh

    The country boat

    traditional Bangla lunch onboard, then went ashore at the Sundarban’s breeding sanctuary where we saw deer and crocodiles and walked the mangrove forest.

    Back on the boat and back to Mongla where we

    One are bangladesh

    On the river

    met the car, returned to Barisal (including car ferry-boat number five) and to our hotel in Barisal.  It had been a very amazing day.

    Day three we were up early, and instead of car we were in a Tuk Tuk before the sun had risen, driving an hour from Barisal to the banks of the Shondha River. Here we would board boat number six, a long deep river dwelling vessel,  for what would turn out to be my favorite part of our

    One rare Bangladesh

    Floating vegetable market

    tour.  Cruising through the backwater region of the Shondha we enjoyed the floating vegetable market as well as seeing the river people going about their daily life – scratching out an existence on and in

    One rare Bangladesh

    Meeting the friendly locals

    the river.  The river is both highway and washing machine, bathtub and food source.  We got off the boat several times, including a visit to an ancient and scrabbled together Hindu village where the people were so kind and generous and interested in us.  When we tell them we are from

    One rare Bangladesh

    Meeting the locals

    the United States they say it is their honor to have us in their country.  This is the Bangladeshi way – welcoming, kind and generous; even if they have nothing to give, they will offer you a cup of tea.

    It was particularly interesting to me how astonished everyone – men, women and children – were with my white hair.  They found it fascinating and we felt like celebrities.  Very

    One rare Bangladesh

    Laundry

    humbling experience.

    We learned a lot about river life, about the kindness of strangers, about how important community is to this ancient way of life.  We learned about religion (Islam is the largest religion of Bangladesh; Muslims constitute over 90% of the population, while Hindus constitute 8.5% and Buddhists 0.6% are the most significant minorities of the country. Christians, Sikhs, animists and atheists form 1%), we learned about food, we learned about education.

    One rare Bangladesh

    River life

    But mostly we learned about how much we take for granted.

    Saying farewell to our boat driver we were back in the Tuk Tuk for the hour ride back to Barisal where

    One rare Bangladesh

    Iron workers at the market. They asked us to stay for tea.

    we had time to tour the market before our departure.  The market was remarkable to me mostly because not a single tourist item was there.  This was perhaps the most authentic market I have been to (except for Ethiopia and Burkina Faso).  In fact I have not even been able to find a postcard in this country – a sign of how small the tourism

    One rare Bangladesh

    Beautiful Bangladesh

    industry is here.

    We said goodbye to our wonderful guide and boarded a river ferry, faster and more modern than the Rocket, for the overnight return to Dhaka. Boat number seven.

    Seven boats, three days, one rare Bangladesh.  I’ll not forget my time here.  Unique, remarkable, rewarding and above all, humbling.

     

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    And The Grand Adventure Continues

    Travel is Back for My Fab Fifties Life

    When we went to Iceland in June 2021 I thought travel was back. But then the Greek alphabet started to wreak havoc on our travel life. First Delta hit in the summer and then Omicron almost shut us down when we were in Mexico. That Pandamit refused to loose it’s grip. Now, more than two years since it started, we once again are cautiously dipping our toes into travel with a ten week tour. We are ready and The Grand Adventure Continues.

    And the Grand Adventure Continues (Canva)

    My word of the year for 2022 is caution. And although we always travel with caution, navigating a travel life today requires a great deal more preparation and caution than in the past. Changing rules for testing and entry requirements require constant monitoring. It requires patience. It requires time. And it also requires being a bit of a gambler.

    Off We Go

    So with all that in mind, we have spent the past several months planning, studying the CDC information and reading the US State Department guidelines. We have put hundreds of hours into our preparation to embark on this tour. The destinations listed below each are chosen for a specific reason – personal and cautionary…and the Grand Adventure continues.

    New York City

    New York City (Canva)

    Twice we have canceled a week long winter visit to NYC due to the Pandamit. When we decided to try again for a spring visit, it was because we were headed to Boston for a college reunion. But alas, the college reunion was canceled (sigh). So we added the days we were going to be in Boston to the days we had already booked for New York…giving us a nice long stay of eleven days.

    We have been to New York at least a half a dozen times, but each time has always been only 2-3 days. Having eleven days gives us time to slowly see the city and all it’s fabulous museums, restaurants, neighborhoods and history. We have a full itinerary and are really looking forward to it. April 21-May 2.

    Caribbean

    Caribean
    Antigua (Canva)

    When we first decided to head to the Caribbean after New York the other countries on our itinerary (see below) hadn’t totally opened up. So we decided to head to the turquoise waters of two islands we had never been to before. It’s been a long time since we spent time in the Caribbean and we are looking forward to ten days in Antigua (in an Airbnb with a car) and ten days in Turks & Caicos (a resort with no car). For us it’s incredibly rare that we stay in a resort, so this should be interesting. It’s not a super fancy all-inclusive, but it is nice and we expect it to be very relaxing and within our budget. May 2-May 21

    Morocco

    Morocco
    Morocco (Canva)

    From the Caribbean we fly to Washington DC for a one night stay, where we will also do a Covid test for entry into Morocco. This is also where we will rendezvous with our two adult sons, who are joining us for the Morocco portion of this itinerary. We are off to Morocco to attend a wedding reception of a friend of our family…a party that has been canceled three previous times since the Pandamit hit. Before the wedding in Fes, our family will spend a week touring Morocco. This is my second visit to Morocco and I am really looking forward to seeing this beautiful country again, sharing it with my two adult children and attending a traditional Moroccan wedding. It should be an incredible experience. May 23-May 31.

    Senegal

    Senegal
    Senegal (Canva)

    The West Africa nation of Senegal has been on my list for a long time due to it’s fascinating history, but we have never been able to squeeze it in. But it’s a short flight from Casablanca to Dakar so we will check Senegal off the bucket list. We have a brief visit (five days) and have hired a tour guide for two days to take us to some of the major sites. May 31 – June 5.

    Paris

    Paris France
    Paris (Canva)

    From Senegal we are headed to the island of Malta, but to get to Malta requires a flight and an overnight in Paris. Well Paris is always a good idea, right? Fingers crossed for good weather to spend one full day strolling around my favorite arrondissements of the city of lights and eating everything I can. June 5-6

    Malta

    Malta
    Malta (Canva)

    The next three stops on this tour are three places Covid shut us down in, and we have been counting the days until we could return. So we begin with Malta.

    We were supposed to spend three weeks on Malta in May of 2020…of course that didn’t happen. It’s a destination I have wanted to visit for years. Full of beauty and history and fascinating geography…if you don’t know much about Malta you would probably recognize it from the role it plays in many movies and TV shows including Game of Thrones. We are staying in the historic town of Valletta in an Airbnb and we will not have a car except for one day when we have a car to see the ancient city of M’dina. I’ve booked a food tour and a one day tour to the island of Gozo. The rest of the time we will explore on foot. June 6-15th

    Israel

    Israel
    Israel (Canva)

    In March of 2020 after only five days of our 17 day itinerary in Israel we fled the country to avoid being put into a two week quarantine. We fled to Cyprus (more on that below) and I cried in the car as we drove to the airport. We had seen some amazing sites in Israel, but no where near all, including Jerusalem and Masada. I had waited to visit Israel since I was a child and learned about it from a Girl Scout leader. My heart was broken.

    So let’s try it again. This time we will spend our entire 7 day visit in Jerusalem in an Airbnb. We have a Jerusalem tour one day, another tour to Bethlehem in Palestine one day, and we will rent a car and drive to Masada one day. We also have booked a Shabat dinner with a local family. These are all high on my wishlist. I love the food of this region too, and I can’t wait to eat all of it! June 15 – 22

    Cyprus

    Cyprus
    Cyprus (Canva)

    Dear sweet Cyprus. It holds such a special place in my heart, after we spent two months in lockdown on this gorgeous island. But during that two months we did not see any of the amazing historic sites, enjoy any of it’s stunning beaches or eat in any of it’s amazing restaurants. Covid had everything shut down. We have vowed to return and now we will.

    Unfortunately we only have seven days, but we know exactly what we want to see and do, and we can make it happen. Looking forward to staying in the same Airbnb we were trapped in for two months and we can’t wait to see our hosts who were so kind to us. We also hope to see our friend Leza who we met and spent a day with in a cooking class – the only thing we got to do before we went into lockdown.

    Cyprus is a fascinating tiny country with a disputed border, fantastic food, ancient history (supposedly the birthplace of Aphrodite), mountains and beaches and so much more. Dear sweet Cyprus. We are coming. June 23-30

    Ten Weeks and The Grand Adventure Continues

    This itinerary is busy…much busier than we usually pursue. But we are taking a deep breath and tackling it, because life is short and due to the Pandamit we have some catching up to do! We will arrive back in the USA June 30th for the summer months before we go again.

    We hope you will follow along on this blog and all of our social media sites (Facebook Group, Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram) and of course here on the blog where I hope to have a post almost every Friday.

    Be brave and get out there! Travel is back! And the Grand Adventure continues. Away we go.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog posts.

    See last week’s post Travel Wardrobe for Multiple Climates.

    See this week’s top performing pin here My Favorite Things Ogunquit Maine

    All photos in this post by CANVA

    Island Life  --  Oceania Travel

    Bora Bora on a Budget

    How to Visit This Beautiful Island Without Breaking the Bank

    Location: Bora Bora, French Polynesia

    Air Tahiti is budget friendly
    Air Tahiti is the island to island option

    Our two month visit to French Polynesia is now into it’s fifth week, and we recently hopped over to Bora Bora for five days. Despite how much we are loving living on the island of Mo’orea, we felt we needed to see what the fuss is all about on Bora Bora. But we travel on a pretty strict budget, so we approached this excursion in a thrifty way. Here are our Bora Bora on a Budget recommendations.

    The island and motus
    Bora Bora

    Why We Travel Budget Friendly

    Because we have designed a life for ourselves that includes long-term travel, staying on budget is critical. The only way we can sustain long term travel on our retired income is to travel inexpensively. Although it looks attractive to spend a night in a $1200 over the water bungalow, we know through experience and research, we can spend twenty nights in our Airbnb on Mo’orea for the same price.

    Blue Bora Bora Budget friendly beach
    Bora Bora

    To some people, a once in a life time visit to an over the water bungalow might be a dream come true, but I would like to convince more people to recognize how traveling in a budget friendly way will give you deep, authentic and meaningful travel experiences. I am living proof of that.

    So, if your goal is that Instagram selfie on an over priced over the water bungalow, then this blog is not for you. Otherwise, please read on…

    When to Travel

    We always try to travel to popular destinations in the low or shoulder season. Our two months in French Polynesia is the low season, also called the rainy season. Although it poured rain for the first four days we were here in mid-January, the weather has been great ever since.

    Bora Bora off season is budget friendly
    Great weather

    This is also one of the reasons we love Hawaii in September and October; no crowds, great rates and good weather. Off peak travel is the way to go when you are on a budget.

    Where to Stay

    We researched, for purposes of this blog, costs at a few of the over the water bungalows on Bora Bora. They range from $800 to more than $2000 a night, depending on the resort, the season and the location.

    Bora Bora has a nice selection of Airbnbs under $200, and if you stay long term you can even find some closer to $100.

    Budget friendly hotels
    Hotel Royal Bora Bora

    We spent four nights at the Royal Bora Bora, a really nice and comfortable hotel in the Matira Beach area on the south part of the main island. We paid $180 per night (off peak) for this property that included a fantastic private beach, pool and breakfast included. Our room was big and clean and comfortable with a nice lanai that overlooked a garden. And the staff was fantastic. We highly recommend this property, which was also within walking distance to a grocery store and four restaurants.

    Breakfast included helps with budget
    Omelet for breakfast at Royal Bora Bora

    Things to Do

    On Land

    Touring the island by land requires a vehicle of some kind. Here are some options for your consideration as you think about Bora Bora on a Budget;

    Guided Private Tour 4WD Land Tour $650

    Guided Group Tour 4WD Half Day $75

    ATV Private Tour $1100

    Avis Rental Car – many options starting at about $120 per day

    Scooter Rental available from many locations including Avis about $40 per day

    Bike our choice. For $17 per person we rented bikes from our hotel and spent half a day riding.

    Budget friendly cycling
    Cycling on Bora Bora

    On Sea

    Getting wet is one of the top things visitors to Bora Bora like to do. Here are some options so you can compare costs;

    Whale Watching (seasonal)$200

    Full Day Snorkle with Lunch $140

    Rent Your Own Boat – multiple options of boats and prices starting at $180 for half day

    Sunset Sail $300

    Snorkle at Public Beach with your own gearour choice. We brought our snorkel set with us that we purchased on Mo’orea for $60 and we have already gotten our money’s worth.

    Self serve snorkeling is budget friendly
    Snorkling at the public beach

    And Way Up High

    Birdseye view of Mo'orea
    Our view from Air Tahiti as we left Mo’orea

    If you want to see it from above…well if you flew here on Air Tahiti, which you probably did, you have already had the best point of view. But for your consideration, here are a few more;

    Parasailing starting at $250 per couple

    Helicopter Tour $200 per person

    Hike to the top of the mountainour choice. There are several hikes on the island, and depending where you are staying many are accessible from resorts and hotels. We enjoyed our hike and it was free!

    Hiking is free and good for you
    On the mountain top

    Things to Eat

    To save money, Airbnb is a great option for the ability to cook your own meals. There are only a handful of grocery stores on the island, the biggest on is a Super U in Vaitape. Other ways to eat on a budget include;

    Hotel with Breakfast included – our choice. The Hotel Royal Bora Bora offered an incredible full breakfast every morning included in our room. It kept us full throughout the day and then we went out to dinner in the evening.

    Take Out food from Grocery and Gas Station

    “Snack” which is French Polynesia Fast Food

    One splurge meal not budget friendly
    We had one delicious dinner out
    And a couple less expensive options.

    Bora Bora on a Budget

    Before visiting the beautiful Polynesian islands take some time to consider what is the most important for you, and create a budget to make it happen. Whatever your budget is, Bora Bora is available to you, with a little pre-planning and prioritizing. Bora Bora on a Budget – enjoy the beautiful South Pacific.

    Sealife spotting can be free
    Stingray

    Thanks for reading Bora Bora on a Budget. We love it when you pin and share our blog posts.

    See our blog about The Flavors of French Polynesia

    See this week’s top performing pin Mo’orea Musings Week One