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Everything Else Fabulous

    Everything Else Fabulous

    Cruising Then and Now

    Many Changes in Cruising Since our First Cruise 26 Years Ago

    Location: Onboard Explorer of the Seas

    When we booked the cruise we are on, we were under the false assumption that repositioning cruises were not all that popular.  That could not be farther from the truth.  This 23 day cruise has been interesting to say the least.  We have learned a lot about the world of cruise fanatics and cruise loyalty.

    At the pool. There are three pools.

    Onboard this ship are people who love to cruise.  I call them serial cruisers. I over heard one women bragging that this was her 83rd cruise.  It’s very clear from people we have met that cruising for the majority of these hard-core cruise junkies is all about being on the ship and very little about the destinations.  It’s also clear that most the people on the ship are loyal to Royal Caribbean and their frequent cruiser programs.  Royal Caribbean family if you will.

    Lunch at the buffet

    Eighty Three cruises?  No thanks.  I enjoy cruising but only every few years and certainly never feel like I can really get to know a destination with only 8 hours in port.  But on this cruise I am clearly in the minority – in more ways than one.  I frequently mention how often Arne and I find we are older than other travelers  meet. Not on this ship. Not even close.

    It’s been 26 years since I took my first cruise, a Caribbean seven-day cruise out of Puerto Rico.  I’ve now done a total of nine cruises, nowhere near

    Kitchen prep in the galley

    the number of some of the people onboard with us on the Explorer of the Seas.  But averaging one cruise every three years I have seen some very clear changes in the industry of cruising since that first one long ago.  Not only has the industry of cruising changed, but cruising has changed the world.  Places like Venice Italy, Dubrovnik Croatia and Juneau Alaska now scramble to deal with the influx of visitors and the changes, often negative, that cruise ships and cruise passengers can cause.

    From a guests perspective, I have observed the following significant changes in 26 years;

    Daily towell animals in our room 

    Service on board – my first cruise was a dream because of the phenomenal service we received from every staff person onboard but most especially from our room steward and our dining room wait staff.

    Today the staff on board the mega cruise ships are great, but they are clearly overworked and the service is good, often very good, but never to the level of that first cruise I took those many years ago.  It’s clear the service staff is responsible for more guests now than back then, but also some of the lower level of service might be as a result of the pre-paid gratuity.  Our early cruises were back in the day when you handed cash to your wait staff and your room steward at the end of the cruise.  Your choice of gratuity was dependent on the service they provided.  Today, most cruises (most but not all) do a prepaid 18% gratuity when you sign up for your cruise.  Of course the staff knows this.

    Dessert in the main dining room

    Little things have changed in the dining room to create less work for the staff at the expense of the guest.  They used to come around to the table with your salad dressing choices and spoon it directly on your salad for you.  Now you take what they give you.  There used to be a wine steward who would come around and discuss wine choices with you and regions and styles of wine.  On this cruise we are on there has not been a wine steward anywhere in sight.

    Windows getting washed

    Once upon a time the midnight buffet was a highlight of your day and usually included a spectacular ice sculpture.  Since the ships now all have a full-time buffet in addition to the regular dining room, the midnight buffet has disappeared and along with it the entertaining spectacle it always was. 

    The atrium

    Back in the day the cruise line did not nickel and dime you for every little thing.  Today a cup of coffee is free, but not an espresso or a latte.  You also no longer get soda for free.  It used to be only alcohol was extra.  No longer.  In fact you used to enjoy a lobster dinner one night on each cruise but today it’s an extra $35 if you want lobster.  Today you pay extra for “speciality dinning” and even room service has a service charge.  We used to order room service breakfast and enjoy it on our balcony.  But anything “cooked” is a charge so the only breakfast you can get from room service for free is cereal and fruit and coffee.

    Today you have to sign away your first-born before you can get a pool towel, and if it’s not returned by the end of the cruise you will be charged $25 per towel.

    Shore excursions have always been expensive and we avoid doing them most of the time.  The cost has risen extensively over the years and rarely does the cost equal the value.

    Enjoying formal night

    On our first few cruises there wasn’t even a spa or a gym.  I remember running or walking on the promenade deck as exercise.  Today you aren’t allowed to run on the promenade deck because it will make noise in the rooms below.  The new ships have a running track, but it’s nine laps for one mile so you feel a bit like a hamster.  On our first cruise I remember doing morning aerobics class in the dining room and they just pushed the tables and chairs out-of-the-way.  On our first few cruises there was a ‘beauty parlor” but no spa.  Today the spa and fitness center make big bucks for the cruise lines and there is a constant push to buy products that will change your skin, your fitness and your life – at exorbitant prices of course.  In fact this is the first cruise we have been on where we had to pay for certain fitness classes.  Some classes are free still, but the very popular spinning class and yoga class will cost $12.

    Leaving Sydney Harbour

    Twenty-six years ago our first cruise was on a smaller ship than the one we are on now (3500 passengers) and there was only one dinner seating.  You also had a lunch and breakfast seating.  Today most of the time the dining room is closed for breakfast and lunch except on at sea days and you take your breakfast and lunch in the buffet.  I remember on one cruise there was a special evening with a midnight buffet served in the ships galley.  It was a wonderful way to see the sparkling clean kitchen and how the crew prepares so much food for so many guests for so many days.

    In fact, on several early cruises we took “behind the scenes” tours of the galley and the bridge.  Today it will cost you $89 to take the two-hour tour and see the inner workings of the Explorer of the Sea.

    Celebrating the moment we crossed the equator

    Long before we ever did our first cruise we were in the Bahamas in 1982.  Our friends who had just gotten married were on a cruise and in port so we hooked up and actually went on board as guests to see the ship.  That would never happen today.  The ships are very tight with security and just like at the airport you are screened and your bags are scanned each and every time you leave or come back on  board.  There are absolutely no guests.  In addition the cruise lines now make a big push about cleanliness, sanitation and hand washing in an effort to eliminate the dreaded norovirus and other fast spreading viruses on a ship with so many people.

    Today’s ships are spectacular floating cities and many serial cruisers are more interested in what ship they are on and not the destination.  We have met many people who don’t even get off the ship in port.  They love cruising and being on board more than the ports of call.  

    Vanuatu

    These floating cities today have wonderful entertainment staff who make sure there is something for you to do every minute of every day.  If that is what you want.  Throughout the ship there are bars and music, bingo and trivia, lectures and movies, dancing and pool games and of course the nightly entertainment.  They nightly entertainment has improved tremendously over our years of cruising.  On our very first cruise there was no theater.  Instead there was a nightly show in the lounge.  The entertainment was very old-fashioned and for Arne and I (in our early thirties) laughable.  I remember one night was a harmonica player.  Seriously.

    The Palace Theatre

    Today the big ships with their big theaters put on big show, with outstanding singers, dancers, costumes and sets.  Royal Caribbean still maintains a live orchestra as part of the shows (few other cruise lines do).  In addition our cruise has included a visiting performers who presented a fabulous program of “Queen” songs, a vocalist from Australia, an impressionist from the UK, as well as a pianist, a comedian and a hypnotist.  All professional and very entertaining.  And there isn’t is an ice rink on board with its in cast and performances. Amazing  Such an improvement over the old days.  Now if the cruise lines start charging for guests to enjoy the shows then I will probably give up cruising all together.

    Embarkation day in Sydney

    Still on average, cruising is a very inexpensive way to travel.  This 23 day cruise works out to be around $130 per person per day.  That is $30 per person over our daily budget goal, but we can justify because of other places we have traveled where we were way under budget.  It’s easy to see why so many people choose to only travel this way; unpack once, everything is done for you, relatively safe and definitely all the comforts of home.  I suspect we will cruise again  (in fact going with Arne’s Mom on the Panama Canal next year) but it will never be the only way we travel.  There are just too many off the beaten track places to see, and you can’t possibly see them from a ship.  But to each his own.  

    We have enjoyed our time aboard the Explorer of the Sea.  Now it’s time to enjoy being back in the USA.

    Everything Else Fabulous

    What’s in My Suitcase? My Travel Favorites

    What I Won’t Leave Home Without

    Location: In My Suitcase

    When we head off again in August for another year of travel our suitcase will not look the same as when we left the first time 18 months ago.  We have learned what works, what doesn’t and what are our favorite things.  So here are some of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Battery Power Pack – possibly our most used and most valuable item. Mophie is the brand we have and we spent $40 on it. We use it everyday  it fits in a purse or pocket and holds a charge for several days. Definitely one of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Packing cubes – not sure how I traveled all those years without packing cubes because they are now my best friend.  Especially as a fulltime traveler it’s so great to keep kinds of clothes and other items categorized in my suitcase.

    Cooler – our collapsible portable lunchbox size Igloo cooler was a gift from our niece and it is just perfect for our travel life, picnics and beach days.   We have even used it to keep things (Mayo, cheese, eggs) cold as we traveled by car from one lodging to the next. A very handy item and portable and one of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Ice pack – purchased for $2 this ice pack fits perfect in our little cooler and really changed the way we travel.  Such a simple item with a big impact.

    Freezer Bags and trash bags – with endless uses for storage and packing we have used gallon size freezer bags and kitchen size trash bags to keep things dry, to keep things wet, to organize, to protect and to store. From wet shoes to dirty clothes and olive oil to medicines plastic bags make our life easier.

    Notecards and post it notes – having a package of notecards with envelopes and post-it notes has come in handy. I like to leave notes for our Airbnb hosts or tuck notes in a package I’m mailing or a multitude of other uses these small and simple items are one of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Packing tape – our roll of packing tape has done a lot more than wrap up boxes.  We used it to fix a splintered iPhone cord and to make a cardboard sleeve for our butcher knife. We repaired a book binding and even a hat.

    Clothes pens – I initially packed these to use on the Camino but they have come in handy in so many ways.  As hangers when we don’t have any, to secure and close bags, to hold back mosquito netting on beds and to of course hang our laundry.

    Manicure kit – it’s not always easy to find a place to have a manicure, and I’ve learned over the years I need to care frequently for my nails or they get cracked and nasty.  So I carry a small manicure kit that serves my needs while on the road.  It takes no room at all and is one of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Scrabble – since leaving the USA in November 2016 we have played more than 400 games of Scrabble. Wow that sounds crazy!  But we love the game and the only problem is we are now both really good at it and we find ourselves occasionally in a bit of a stalemate!

    Noise cancelling headphones – this is Arne’s Favorite item on this list.  We both have Bose headphones we use on the plane. Arne also uses his sometimes to listen to music off his iPad or watch movies.  He votes this as his travel favorite in his suitcase.

    French Press – we added a French Press about half way and it recently broke BUT we love having one and will be getting another.  Almost all the places we stay have a hot water pot and we love to make French Press each morning instead of drinking the usual Nescafé.  Traveling with a French Press is one of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Foldaway daypack – A few months into our journey we added this item and have used it a ton. It folds up into a little square but when open it is perfect for hikes or city walks when we want to carry a sweater, beach towels, water or just about anything for the day.

    There are things we have been carrying that we don’t plan to include any longer. This includes our kitchen knives, chess board, hiking poles, chamois towel and our giant toilette bag.  I plan to buy a smaller toilette bag and force myself to carry less.

    I’ll hold on to a few tried and true clothing items but plan to throw out many things and replace them with new, Comfy, loose-fitting clothes in mix and match colors.  I clearly know what works and what doesn’t now,  and I think I can bring fewer items while feeling like I have more.  It’s a challenge I am looking forward to.

    What’s in my suitcase? My travel favorites, the bare necessities and the tried and true.

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    Everything Else Fabulous

    When Are You Coming Home and Other Hard to Answer Questions of a Travel Nomad

    On The Grand Adventure

    Location: Planet Earth

    We constantly are dealing with hard to answer questions to a travel nomad life. Always well-meaning, but often difficult to respond, we swim around for a truthful answer that will satisfy the queries.

    After 18 months out of the United States our next stop has us spending two and a half months in our birthplace country.  But it’s not our home.  Even though my passport says United States of

    Hard to answer questions to a travel nomad

    Camino

    America, my home is wherever I am today.

    So answering the often asked question “When are you coming home?” is a tricky one for us.  This question and a handful of others like it, often make us pause.  How to explain this nomad life to non-nomads is difficult.  Putting into words why we are mostly content being vagabonds in our fabulous

    Hard to answer questions to a travel nomad

    Maldives

    fifties is a challenge.  We of course are polite, but when you get asked for the one hundredth time one of the hard to answer questions to a travel nomad, you try being clever and witty.  Try.

    When are you coming home?  Someday we will again have a home in the traditional sense of the word.  But home for us is wherever we are each and every day.  Yes our family and most of our friends are back in the great state of Washington, where we will visit and enjoy ourselves this

    Hard to answer questions to a travel nomad

    India

    summer.  But it’s not our home.  Being homeless is not for everyone.  But for now it works for us. My friend Marty recently gave us a wonderful complement.  She observed that many people talk about doing what we do, but few can pull the trigger and make it happen.  A most flattering thing to say to us.

    It’s also difficult to answer the question “what is your favorite place?’.  We get asked this one ALOT! I think it’s the most often asked question – but most of the time people ask it because they feel a need to ask SOMETHING – even if they really aren’t interested. And we know many people aren’t interested.  We are cognizant of the fact a lot of people don’t actually care about our grand adventure.  If they care they are probably following the blog. If they ask we answer.  Otherwise we don’t share – we understand everyone has their own life.

    When we tell people we don’t have a favorite place we

    Hard to answer questions to a travel nomad

    Vietnam

    often get an eyeball roll.  But we don’t.  We have liked certain places more than others, but there really isn’t anywhere we disliked and everywhere we have been there has been good and bad.

    How can you afford to travel full-time?  We dread this question because the underlying question

    Hard to answer questions to a travel nomad

    Seychelles

    really is “are you rich?”.  No we are not rich.  But what we are is frugal.  Very frugal.  As well as organized and careful and committed to staying within our budget.  Remember we sold everything we own before we left the USA.  We have zero debt, zero bills and live a simple life on a simple budget.  We spend considerably less now than we did living in the USA.  Anyone who is willing to give up their mortgage, car payment, car insurance, boat, house repairs and maintenance, clothing purchases, hair and beauty expenses, gym membership, theatre Hard to answer questions to a travel nomadseason tickets, daily Starbucks visit, clubs and societies, extravagant evenings out and a host of other expenses some American’s often cling to – anyone willing to give that all up, can join us as nomads extremely affordably.  And in our case, be happier than ever before.

    Yet that said, we do get travel fatigue.  I actually avoid mentioning travel fatigue, because there are some people on my Facebook page (masquerading as friends) who are snarky when I mention something like the fact that a life of full-time travel is sometimes, exhausting.  Those are the

    5

    Australia

    Hard to answer questions to a travel nomad

    Sri Lanka

    people who do the eye roll thing and say things like “Oh poor you.  Traveling around the world is so tough”.  You know the type, jealous maybe or unhappy in their own life situation  – I’m sure you have those same people on Facebook.  I don’t want to sound whiney, so I don’t talk about the fatigue very often. But yes it’s tiring.  A few things in particular cause travel fatigue. For instance wishing for a perfect cozy chair to read in.  The constant hunt for ingredients.  Why isn’t there ever toilet paper? Packing and unpacking.  So when I get the question “what is the most

    Hard to answer questions to a travel nomad

    Koh Samui Thailand

    difficult?” I will always say, living out of a suitcase causes me fatigue.

    People often ask us if Arne and I get tired of spending so much time together.  I think this is a funny question because it could really backfire.  This hard to answer question to a travel nomad

    Hard to answer questions to a travel nomad

    Portugal

    might end up with the answer “Yes! We are sick of each other! We are getting divorced”.  Lol.  Of course the answer is the opposite, we get along better now than we ever have in our 35 years of marriage. And we believe that is partly from lack of stress, lack of financial  burden and lack of RAIN!

    Another question we often get is “Aren’t you afraid?”.  Of what exactly?  Living?  No I am not afraid to live.  I am not afraid to die.  I have never felt in danger anywhere, any more than I do in the USA.  I believe this question comes from people

    Hard to answer questions to a travel nomad

    Angor Wat Cambodia

    who believe, naively, that they are safer in the USA than they are traveling outside of it.  When the reality is the opposite.  Ask any high school teacher in the USA how safe they feel?  Really.

    Several people have asked if I plan to write a book. That is not something I’ve given any thought to.  There are many travel nomads before us who have written books but my blog serves as a journal of sorts and for now that’s enough for me.

    Hard to answer questions to a travel nomad

    The family last Christmas in Thailand

    Even though I’ve written this blog I fully expect the need to answer these questions from family and friends while we are in the USA this summer.  And that’s okay.  We are happy to answer any and all questions, particularly if we can encourage and inspire other people to step out of their comfort zone, stop hiding behind the American flag, and go learn and experience the incredible and amazing cultures of the world.  You will be a better person, and the world will be a

    Hard to answer questions to a travel nomad

    Doha Qatar

    better place if you do.

    So ask me anything – including the hard to answer questions to a travel nomad. I will give you the truth.  Nomad life is amazing.  Absolutely fabulous.  Join us.

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    Everything Else Fabulous

    Things I’m Looking Forward to in the USA

    On Our Way

    Location: Royal Caribbean

    Today we board Voyager of the Seas, a beautiful Royal Carribean ship for the 8500 mile journey from Sydney to Seattle. This will be the longest cruise we have ever taken – 23 days. Plenty of time to think about the things I’m looking forward to in the USA.

    I am looking forward to a slow decompression and a slow and easy re-entry to the culture of the United States.

    No matter how long you are out of the United States I now realize there are some things you just long for.  It’s not a big list for me, but it’s made up

    Things I’m looking forward to in the USA

    Time together as a family

    of the things I find comforting;

    The numbwr one things I’m looking forward to in the USA is My Kids – my grown children are my pride and joy and I really look forward to a lot of time together this summer.  We also look forward to seeing all the rest of our family as well.  Many things have happened in 18 months and we all have a lot of catching up to do.

    Tacos – Good ole American Tacos.  I need one right now.  I’ve been on the search for tacos everywhere we travel and it is definitely one of the things I’m looking forward to in the USA.

    French press – the world is ruled by Nescafé

    Things I’m looking forward to in the USA

    Fish Tacos

     

    instant coffee and I miss my morning French Press.

    Cycling – one of the simplest and best exercise routines I’ve ever had – riding my bike several times a week and I just can’t wait to be back on my bike.

    Having all food orders arrive at the table at the

    Things I’m looking forward to in the USA

    Cycling

    same time – last night I finished my dinner before Arne’s even arrived. This is common in many countries, but almost unheard of in the states and definitely one of the things now I’m looking forward to in the USA.

    Washer and Dryer – I think American’s take these appliances for granted more than any other and I certainly look forward to that convenience again for a while.

    Not needing to carry a roll of toilet paper in my

    Things I’m looking forward to in the USA

    Driving

    purse- ‘nuff said.

    Going to the Movie – I have only seen a movie a couple of times on an airplane in the past 18 months and I have not watched TV at all.  I do enjoy a movie on the big screen and I’m looking forward to that.

    Driving- I’ve only driven once in the past 18 months.  It will be great being behind the wheel and driving with relatively sane drivers again.

    Things I’m looking forward to in the USA

    Crab!

    Alaskan Salmon and Dungeness Crab – growing up on these foods my mouth waters at the thought of them.  I NEVER order salmon anywhere because I know it is likely farmed and crab isn’t crab unless it’s Dungeness in my book so I can’t wait to taste these favs again – I’ve been spoiled by Pacific Northwest seafood and it is certainly one of the things I’m looking forward to in the USA.

    My Book Club, My Cooking Club, My High School Girls, The Martini Mamas and all my other friends – I look forward to those moments of loud joyful

    Things I’m looking forward to in the USA

    Friends

     

    laughter, funny stories, reminiscing and sharing.  And although I will only have a few opportunities to catch up this summer it is something I’m excited to do.

    Safeway – I miss my favorite grocery store and my tried and true staple items and ingredients.  It will be great fun to have a fully stocked American kitchen and I can’t wait to cook for my family just like the old days.

    Things I’m looking forward to in the USA

    More crab

    Ten varieties of lettuce, a dozen varieties of apples, eight different kinds of potatoes – I look forward to the gluttony of produce we have at our fingertips in the USA.

    My Hairdresser and my Manicurist – although I have had pretty good luck with both haircuts and manicures out here in the big wide world, it will be wonderful being back with my very own who I know and trust.

    Things I’m looking forward to in the USA

    My hairdresser and friend Michael

    Fourth of July – growing up this day was as anticipated as Christmas and I’m looking forward to a good ole summer family Fourth of July American BBQ – even if I have to plan it myself!  How American is that?  A patriot at heart and one of the summertime things I’m looking forward to in the USA.

    Arne is looking forward to running everyday on familiar territory as well as baseball and good craft beer!

    So get ready USA we are on my way!!

    NOTE – WiFi will be infrequent if at all on the cruise. I hope to post when I can.

    Everything Else Fabulous  --  Fab Asia Travel

    500 Days of Summer

    A Sunny Travel Life

    Location: Lombok Indonesia

    Today marks 500 days on the road – and our grand adventure living 500 days of summer.  Coming from the often grey and misty state of Washington in the Pacific Northwest, 500 Days of Summer was the goal.

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Australia

    When we started planning our grand adventure, we set an itinerary

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Tunisia

    that kept us away from cold and rainy places.  And not just because we love the sun – but also because it’s easier to pack for these climates.

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Guam

    And so it has gone along this way now, for 500 days.  Waking each morning and opening my eyes and saying “hey, it’s still summer.”  Nice.

    Now we can’t say we haven’t seen some cool, even cold days.  We were in New Zealand as

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Morocco

    summer turned to fall and we had some pretty chilly nights.  Even in North Vietnam the nights were cool and in Halong Bay the mist hung low and we never saw the sun. In Morocco the wind was brisk and our night in the Sahara Desert camp was downright nippy. Here in Indonesia, our time in the

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Maldives

    mountains brought thankfully cooler temps, but certainly not cold.

    500 days of aummer

    Sunny Portugal

    But mostly it’s been warm to hot to REALLY hot as we have navigated this summer life.  More than 16 months on the road and I’m on my third (and a half) swimsuit and needing a fourth.  I’m on my

    500 days of summer

    Sunny New Zealand

    third sun hat, second pair of sunglasses, second set of beach towels  and second pair of flip-flops. I’m on my third selfie stick, my tenth bottle of sunscreen and my fifth water bottle – misplacing

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Bulgaria

    four somewhere along the way. My sundresses are tired and faded from sun and sweat and constant washing.  I will retire all of these soon and go on a big shopping trip for fresh and new when

    500 days of summer

    Sunny India

    we get back to the states.

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Namibia

    Because after our visit to the USA (May 14-Aug 7),where we hope it will be summer, we head off on the next phase of the grand adventure, at least

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Spain

    another 500 days of summer.

    But until then, summer continues here in Indonesia.

     

    500 days of summer

    Sunny Seychelles

    And life is sunny and fabulous!

     

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    Everything Else Fabulous  --  Fab Asia Travel

    Silver Jewelry Making Class in Ubud

    In the heart of the Bali Art Scene

    Location: Ubud Bali Indonesia

    I’ve purchased a charm in every country I’ve been to except one. There is no charm on my bracelet from Bangladesh. But here in Bali Indonesia there are lots of options to buy silver jewelry. But for the first time I decided to try something new – I signed up to take a silver jewelry making class in the heart of the Bali Art Scene, Ubud at the Craft Workshop.

    Silver Jewelry Making class

    We began by drawing on a piece of silver

    I spent three hours and less than $30 to create my own one of a kind charm. To be honest, it might be a little too big for the charm bracelet. But I like it anyway and I had a fascinating experience learning this craft.

    Silver jewelry making class

    Cutting the shape

    With eight other students I learned how to cut and shape the silver, file it and imprint it and clean it. I learned how to solder and mold and buff and shine. Most students attempted more difficult projects than mine, with varying degrees of success. Two women actually brought gemstones to class to have set in rings. Those were my favorite pieces of the day. More elaborate than. what I attempted.

    Silver jewelry making class

    Adding a second layer of silver

    Mine is very simple, and a bit amateurish. But I am, clearly an amateur. So no matter. I really enjoyed the experience, in an artisans studio, in the middle of a rice field. My little silver lotus blossom charm will be a happy memory of my

    Silver jewelry making class

    Polishing and shining

    time in Ubud.

    At the end of the class our jewelry instructor presented me with a little silver band.  He had seen me admiring the ring one of the other women made.  So he quickly formed a pinky ring for me.  Thoughtful.  A perfect memory

    Silver jewelry making class

    Gem stone rings

    too.

    Next time you are in Ubud go in search of the old school artisans, hidden amongst the hustle and bustle that now is Ubud.  But you can still find the artists.  They are

    Silver jewelry making class

    With our instuctor

    there, still working like the old days.  You’ll enjoy an afternoon if you pursue silver jewelry making class in Ubud – in the heart of the Bali art scene.

    Silver jewelry making

    My new lotus blossom charm

    Everything Else Fabulous

    Best and Worst Airports of the World

    The Blur of Airports in my Head

    Location: Best and Worst Airports

    It’s already late March.  Where does the time go?  The grand adventure has been underway for 16 months now and the flights and airports all blur together in my head.  But there are a few memorable ones, for both good and bad reasons, so we thought it was time to write about the Best and Worst Airports of the World – according to My Fab Fifties Life.

    Best and Worst Airports

    Seattle on the day we left the USA

    My favorite airport used to be Schiphol in Amsterdam.  And I still love it.  It’s like a small city and can keep you entertained for days (hopefully you don’t spend days there).  On our world tour we have encountered some similar airports, mainly the hub airports that are so spectacular in Dubai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Qatar.  In these beautifully designed airports you can enjoy

    Best and Worst airports

    Napping

    fantastic works of art, delicious dining, designer and convenience shopping as well as usually a fine hotel.  You can also find spas and salons, quiet zones, kids zones, smoking zones, charging zones and sleeping zones and often showers.

    Almost all the comforts of home.

    The Dubai Airport, a giant megatropolis is about to be closed because another even bigger one is

    Best and Worst Airports

    Coming in to Praslin

    slated to open very soon.  From a distance it looks like something from the future.  Huge, artistic and from another world. When finished it will be largest airport in the world. Can’t wait to see it.  I was told they will just tear down the other one…weird.

    We have had some good experiences in some small airports too.  Cape Town, South Africa was the quickest and easiest airport we ever went through.  Dhaka, Bangladesh, though rundown and old, was one of the friendliest airports with helpful police who escorted us around the passport control so we could get some local currency to pay for our visa on entry.

    Best and Worst airports

    Sunrise flight out of Perth

    Small airports have a big advantage in that you can be off the plane and in your taxi in 15 or 20 minutes.  No long lines, no walking miles to get to baggage claim.  Arrival in Alice Springs and Cairns Australia was so quick.  Maldives airport was beautiful and easy to maneuver.  The teeny Praslin Island airport in the Seychelles was more like a bus station.  Off the plane and on our way. Just botta bing botta bang and you are out the door.  Nice.

    Best and Worst Airports

    Boarding in Marrakesh

    In Koh Samui Thailand the tiny airport had a beautiful area for waiting for departure and it included free popcorn, chips, coffee and juice.  I’ve never seen that anywhere else. However the approach by car to Koh Samui was poor – winding in a van through one lane residential streets weaving in and out of kids and dogs and bikes.  Yikes.

    In Praslin Seychelles there are so few flights a day there is a traffic light to hold traffic when a plane is landing.  The plane’s approach is over the road.  But usually it doesn’t matter.  There is very little car traffic either.

    Many smaller and medium size airports look very much the same.  It’s difficult to distinguish

    Best and Worst Airports

    On board we always try to have aisle seats across from each other

    between them.  Dubrovnik, Madrid, Santiago, Cape Town – all the same.

    We landed in Guam at 3:40 in the morning.  In a daze we maneuvered to the car rental area, happy to find them open and waiting for us.  Hallelujah!

    Less impressive experiences were in Manila, where the waiting area on the concourse was so tiny and crowded we had to sit on the floor.  There was no ATM machine and the unimpressive food kiosks only took local currency.  In Casablanca, the airport was fine but the baggage handling with Air Maroc was the worst.  Our bags on our short flight from Marrakesh disappeared and no one could find them.  When they were found, it was because I went and searched every luggage carousel in the airport and found them myself.

    Passport control was horrible in Tunisia and Siem Reap, Cambodia where we stood in line for more than hour for no reason other than one passport control guy wanting to be an ass and seem important.

    In Sofia Bulgaria, the small but new and nice

    Best and Worst Airports

    On the tarmac

    airport was marred by the unfriendly and unhelpful tourist information desk and the fact that there was not a single ATM at the airport.

    In Ho Chi Minh City the airport was okay but it was the dishonest taxi driver who put a bad taste in our mouth.  Trying to trick us and drive us in circles and tell us a 100 bill was a 10.

    On departing Delhi India the service at the check in counter was so slow that even though we allowed three hours we barely made our flight.  And we went through security intending to find a cash

    Best and Worst Airports

    Seychelles

    machine on the concourse only to be told ATM’s were only in the check-in area. What?

    Best and Worst Airports

    Our beautiful hotel in the Singapore airport

    Sometimes when we have really long-haul flights we will break the up with overnight (and sometimes a day) at an airport hotel.  SInce we aren’t pressed for time we find this a great way to avoid jet-lag.  We have done this in Dubai, Qatar, Bangkok and Singapore.

    We only have a few flights left before we board a cruise ship for our final leg back to the USA.  We have learned a lot – how to pack and plan, prepare and endure all these flights.  We’ve also learned to just relax because most of the time it’s all out of our hands.

    Flight # 52 today to Sydney Australia! Away!