Today I share a blog from the past as I am still in transit. Next week we will have a new blog about our travels to Guernsey and Jersey.
Malpais Costa Rica
For the past two weeks, the nightly show the sun has put on here in Malpais has been nothing less than astounding. Each evening we watch breathless as it dips into the blue
Hawks Bay New Zealand
ocean dressed in a beautiful pink and orange gown. Some nights the show actually gets better after sunset – as the sky extends the celebration with a spectacular rainbow of hues of pink, purple, orange, yellow and indigo across the western sky.
Watching the sun each night from Malpais Costa Rica has been a glorious part of our day. A reminder each evening of how lucky
Hikkaduwa Sri Lanka
we are. A romantic interlude of breathtaking beauty, mixed with awe for our planet. A planet that loves to share the most romantic sunsets around the world.
As we celebrate this annual week of love I thought what could be more romantic than watching a sunset on Valentine’s Day? Or how about on any day? Watching a sunset with the one you love.
Nile River Egypt
Our travels have presented many sunset opportunities to us, some better than others, but many very memorable. So in honor of
Valentines week, I give you our most romantic sunsets around the world – memorable moments of the Grand Adventure.
Note – double-click on any photo in this blog for a larger view
Seabeck Washington USA
Etosha National Park Namibia
Mekong River Laos
Wishing you and all those you love a Happy Valentines Day! I love you all!
This is one of our favorite blog posts from 2020. Enjoy it again or for the very first time.
Lucky am I that I have tasted coffee all over the world, in fact, in 110 countries. Wow that is a lot of countries and a lot of coffee. I’ve been able to narrow down my favorite coffee around the world. I do love coffee and although there has been many countries where the coffee was downright lousy or non-existent, luckily there have been many countries where it was delicious and abundant.
We are currently hunkered down on the island of Cyprus, where coffee rules. Cypriot coffee is much like the coffee of Turkey or Greece, and is usually made in a Cezva, a metal cooker with a long handle and a pouring lip. The coffee in Cyprus is arabica coffee and is ground so fine it is almost like a powder. Traditionally cooked in sand over an open fire, many traditional houses will still make the coffee in a machine that uses sand very hot, then place the Cezva into the sand and bring the coffee to boil twice.
I had never seen coffee made in this manner and it was something fun and new to see.
Cyprus is another of a long list of countries who know how to make good coffee, even though they don’t grow their own beans. Many countries with the best coffee don’t grow beans. It’s all in the way it’s prepared.
So I thought today I would share with you all my favorite coffee around the world, in addition to Cyprus. Some of the worlds best and most delicious. Whatever you call it; java, joe, mud, cuppa, brew, cafe, octane, rocket fuel or juice – here is my favorite coffee around the world.
I visited France in 2007 and despite the Starbucks phenom in the USA, France was the place I had my first and most memorable cup of real good espresso. And I didn’t have just one. I drank so many cups of espresso during my ten day visit to Paris and northern France. I learned how much I love a deep, dark rich cup and I have loved it ever since.
Most people think of espresso as Italian, and certainly they are credited with the invention of the espresso machine. I loved this amazing coffee here as well, and was a bit confused by the social etiquette surrounding your morning coffee. Most baristas were kind and assisted this silly American.
My 2008 trip to Ethiopia remains one of the highlights of my travel life, and learning the complicated process the Ethiopia Coffee ceremony encompasses is one of the most interesting things I have ever seen. Ethiopians strongly claim their country as the birthplace of coffee, and they take the ceremony of coffee very seriously. You can’t be in a hurry for your morning cuppa here…but it is very much worth the wait.
The beautiful island country of Zanzibar (actually a self-governing island of Tanzania) has many coffee plantations as well as beautiful and interesting spice plantations. On a tour of one of these plantations we learned a lot about the coffee culture of Zanzibar and enjoyed drinking the rich dark brew at Zanzibar Coffee next to our hotel.
There are so many things I love about Morocco, including the food, and the coffee is high up on that list of favorite things. We drank it in all parts of the country and it was rich and delicious no matter where we were. Moroccans could be found drinking it morning and night, but for me I had to stick to the morning, or I would have been awake all night long.
Another country that really knows how to do coffee is Greece. Like other European countries coffee often comes with a “biscuit” for dipping, and a cup of beautiful dark coffee in the afternoon was my favorite mid-day treat.
This photo does not do justice to the coffee we had in Qatar. We transited through Qatar and spent only one night, and enjoyed on the morning of our departure what I can say is hands down the best breakfast I have ever eaten…including a pot of delicious brewed dark coffee.
We spent a month in Vietnam and really grew to love the coffee there. Often served with sweet milk, but you could order it without, the local coffee was almost always served in a clear glass cup without a handle.
When we returned home after our month in Guatemala we brought with us six pounds of coffee…now one of my favorite coffee around the world. The production of coffee is big in many Central American countries, but of all the countries we visited we liked Guatemalan coffee the best.
So there you have it, my favorite coffee around the world. I can’t wait to continue my coffee culture research when we can start traveling again and continue our ’round the world travel. Coffee makes me happy!
Airline travel is stressful these days. Lost luggage, canceled flights, delays. It’s a tough time in the travel industry. Up until this year, our six years of the Grand Adventure has been relatively stress free with limited luggage or flight issues, six years and 161 flights, we only lost luggage twice (see last week’s blog about this Around the World Nine Times Lost Luggage Twice). But it’s a different beast now, and so I’ve put together a capsule wardrobe for three week trip we are embarking on.
We booked this trip last spring, before so much airline trouble began. I’m hopeful we might be past the worst of the summer travel nightmare, but still am not going to take a chance checking my bags. This trip is tight between flights, and I have enough to worry about with connections and potential cancellations I don’t want to worry about luggage too. So for the first time I am doing carry on only, so needed a capsule wardrobe for three week trip.
Although I consider myself a really good packer, when we go for months at a time I never do carry on only because I need to bring so many things like months worth of contact lenses, or months worth of prescription meds. I also carry our French press, the mug, laundry supplies, first aid and toiletries for extended travel.
All that said it’s time to tighten up the bags, and this trip, just under three weeks, gives me a good opportunity to give it a try with a capsule wardrobe for three week trip. I’ve learned a lot from my friend Katherine who writes a blog called The 5kilo Traveller. Her information and instagram posts are helpful and inspirational. Check her out on Instagram and her blog here.
What is a Capsule Wardrobe
With just a little bit of planning, it was easy to pull together a capsule wardrobe for travel from my pieces I already have. A capsule wardrobe is a small wardrobe with multiple pieces that you can mix and match and layer and use in various ways. A capsule wardrobe starts with a simple color pallet. I chose black and white for my pants. Then added in pieces that I can mix and match.
Of course your capsule wardrobe will vary depending on your travel destination and the weather. But you should be able to bring the same number of items for five days as you might for five weeks. It’s all in the planning.
I’m headed to the English Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey, followed by a few days in France. Then I return to the USA via Boston and head immediately to Acadia National Park in Maine for five days of camping. So my capsule wardrobe needs to consist of comfortable and versatile clothes for fall weather that could be in the 70’s or the 40’s, sunshine or rain, as well as both city strolling or rugged hiking.
Layers on the Plane
It’s rare you get blankets on the plane anymore so I like to have a coat handy to use as a blanket. This is my airplane outfit in this photo. It consists of layers that should keep me comfortable no matter the temperature of the plane…and you never know what that will be. Also by layering I’m able to wear several items instead of squeezing them into my bag.
My airplane outfit is a tshirt, long sleeve cotton button up blouse and a cotton long sleeve sweatshirt paired with black leggings and my running shoes. The leggins will be handy for the camping portion of our trip and will likely serve as pajamas while camping too.
Black and White
I am packing one pair of black slacks, one pair of white slacks and one pair of black shorts. These staple bottoms will carry me through most days. To mix and match with these three bottoms (and also the leggings) I have another short sleeve tshirt in a bright pink, one yellow tank top, one blue linen lightweight blouse, one blue linen long sleeve blouse, a sweater set (polka dot and black) and a black and white pullover cotton sweater. These all mix and match with the airplane outfit items.
If we get fine weather in the Channel Island and France I have packed two cotton dresses. My green TravelSmith dress has been a workhorse in my travel wardrobe for years. And this orange cotton dress I added this year from Talbots. I can layer both of these with the black sweater or checked blouse. I’ve thrown in one scarf.
In addition to the leggings and the tshirts already mentioned I have packed my long hiking pants, my hiking shorts, my short sleeve hiking shirt, a long sleeve tshirt and a lightweight quick dry hiking sweatshirt. Camping could be wet, my Gortex jacket with hood will serve for both rain and warmth.
It’s always hard for me not to bring too many shoes, so the fact that I’ve decided to only bring two pairs is kind of amazing. I am wearing my black running shoes on the plane and though I don’t plan to run during this trip, these shoes can be walking and hiking shoes as well. In addition I am bringing my new white leather sneakers from Soludos. These work with everything including dresses.
And Everything Else
Beyond my wardrobe I will be bringing underwear, first aid, one towel, a paired down toiletries bag, travel alarm and a small travel umbrella. We also have purchased two collapsible water bottles and we will try those out for the first time as well as a new collapsible hot water heater. I’m curious to see how I like that. I always carry my laptop, kindle, cords and chargers too. I have a new over the shoulder travel purse for my documents, passport, cash and credit cards as well as a few essentials for the airplane like my noise canceling headphones, lip balm, Tylenol and tiny toothbrush and toothpaste for the plane.
And one more thing – if you aren’t using packing cubes go buy some now! Game changer.
And That’s It
So that is my capsule wardrobe for three week trip. I feel good about my choices. It won’t surprise me if I end up not using something, but that said I still don’t think I have over packed. It’s actually a fun challenge for me. If it goes well, we will see if I can compress when we leave for seven months in October.
Be sure to check with YOUR airline as there are some differences as far as carry on size allowed. A little planning and you should be good to go.
Airline travel this summer has been difficult to say the least. I personally know many people who lost luggage, including my own adult kids. In fact the luggage they lost took nine days to find them, and several items had been stolen from the bag when it finally arrived. But, up until this year, our travels since April 2016 have indirectly but quantitatively taken us around the world nine times, only lost luggage twice.
All the trickle down from Covid and staff losses, combined with a pent up demand for travel have made this summer unique in the history of air travel. I feel really blessed to have had such good luck with the 161 flights we have taken since beginning the Grand Adventure in April 2016.
These numbers are pretty remarkable so I wanted to share them with you, in an effort to show how reliable air travel has been up until now. In our 161 flights over a period of six years we only lost our bags twice. The first time was on Air Maroc in Casablanca and it was only for two hours. The second time was on Iceland Air from Reykjavik to Copenhagen and it was for four days. It shows the system has been really reliable when you consider the following numbers;
Total Miles Flown April 2016 to July 2022 is 235,000 – an equivalent of nine times around the earth.
Total Number of take off and landings 161
Total number of airports 127
Farthest flight Seattle to Dubai 7410 miles
Shortest flight Mahe Seychelles to Praslin Seychelles 29 miles
Smallest Airport and Airplane (six seater) Placencia Belize to Punta Cana Belize
Top Four Airports;
Seattle USA 29 flights
Don Muang Thailand 7 flights
Rio de Janiero Brazil and Kahului Maui tied at 6
Heathrow England, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Bangkok Thailand and Casablanca Morocco tied at 5
Top USA Airports after Seattle are Las Vegas and San Francisco at 4, JFK at 3 and Boston at 2
Total number of airlines 55
Most frequent airlines;
Air Asia 10
Qatar and Agean tied at 6
Delta and GOL tied at 5
Highest mileage airlines;
It’s hard to know if the airline industry will ever get back to the way it was. I think it’s doubtful. There are many things that the PanDamit has changed, and it’s likely those changes are here to stay. We have a three week trip coming up next week. It involves multiple flights. To avoid lost luggage we will carry on our bags for the first time. I’m working hard on a capsule wardrobe that will cover my needs during this three week trip. I’ll tell you about how I’m doing that in a blog next Friday so please check back.
Meanwhile, I can do some things to help make my trip a success, like packing light and checking on, arriving for my flight well in advance and having all my documents ready. But of course I don’t have control over canceled or overbooked flights, staffing issues or weather. C’est la vie.
Around the World Nine Times Only Lost Luggage Twice
Around the world nine times, only lost luggage twice. I’ve never had a flight canceled ( though we have had many delays) and we only missed a flight once which was our fault. Fingers crossed these statistics will stay the same by the time I return back to Seattle after three whirlwind weeks in the end of September.
Shout out to my hubs for his incredible Excel spread sheet that has the most amazing and in-depth and detailed information about the Grand Adventure. You wouldn’t believe the data I have at my fingertips. Thanks honey for that. Ask me anything…we probably have the answer on the spreadsheet!
Be sure to come back for next week’s blog post about my capsule carry-on wardrobe for three weeks in the English Channel Islands, France and then Acadia National Park Maine.
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Last month when I was in Wisconsin with some friends, they mentioned this term “Coastal Grandma”. I had heard the term but really hadn’t paid any attention. I asked my friends what a Coastal Grandma was and they described the fashion and interior design aesthetic that is apparently all the rage thanks to TikTok.
Only a few days after I returned to my summer home in Washington State another friend of mine told me that I was “a Coastal Grandma before it was cool”. Wait. What? Okay time to explore what is this and am I one? And does that make me cool?? Do I want to be cool? Coastal Grandma – Does That Make Me Cool?
On closer inspection I learned that you don’t need to live on the Coast (I don’t), be a Grandma (I’m not) or frankly even be of my generation (fabulous sixties) to embrace the Coastal Grandma aesthetic. And indeed I guess I have been embracing it to some extent long before it was cool.
Apparently it’s Coastal Grandma cool to wear comfortable yet stylish clothes with simple lines that are made of natural fabrics often in soft tones of whites and beige. Okay, well I got some of that covered. But, with my skin tone and silver hair I tend to gravitate away from beige and instead choose bold and bright colors that flatter my hair color and skin.
That said I have been promoting for years the amazing natural fabrics, especially linen, that I find perfect for travel and warm climates. Yes, linen wrinkles, but there are many linen pieces out there now that don’t wrinkle, and especially in humid climates the wrinkles fall out as soon as the fabric is against your body. I adore linen and I have no less than two dozen items in my closet made of linen including pants, tops, dresses and cardigans. I also own a lot of cotton pieces, silk blends and lightweight knits.
I guess Talbots must be Coastal Grandma cool because a large percentage of my wardrobe comes from Talbots (with a few pieces also from J Jill, Ann Taylor and Tommy Bahama). Without knowing I was Coastal Grandma cool I have been collecting items over the past five years that work well for travel, are easy to care for, stay bright after multiple washings, hold their shape and look appropriate on my fabulous sixty something body. Who knew it was cool? I just thought it was comfortable.
I’ve thrown a few photos in here of some of my more recent purchases that will be in my suitcase when we head out for long-term travel again this fall.
I love my little house that we have been working on for the past few years. We have created a comfortable and cozy space that is bright and airy to spend the summer months when in Washington State. Eventually when we no longer travel for long portions of each year it will be a perfect place for the two of us to grow old together.
A departure from previous houses I have had, I wanted this house to have a similar and light color pallette throughout. We did this with matching wall colors, matching floors and matching cabinetry throughout. By adding a hint of natural colors to different rooms we have created a functional and cheerful space. I just love it.
One of my favorite rooms is the Master Bedroom which is natural whites with a touch of sea blue. The master bath is also natural whites with touch of gray and beige. This summer we have added a few accent walls in a few rooms including a pale blue in the reading room and a pale green in the entry. I used a new color pallette by Benjamin Moore that is designed to tie together and flow perfectly.
Although I had no idea I was creating Coastal Grandma vibe, but apparently I was and I like it no matter what other people think. It’s where I live and my goal is calm comfort.
My life took a dramatic turn when I retired nine years ago (about the same time this fabulous blog began) and that dramatic turn was purposeful and calculated. We wanted a simpler life, an easier life, a stress-free life and an affordable life. We choose not to burden our lives with committees, commitments and complications that didn’t fit our retired goals. We chose to let go of “stuff”. We choose minimalist comfort, intentional calm; we created time to do the things we love the most in our silver years, travel being one of the most important. That simple, unpretentious, comfortable and affordable life is what we have achieved.
Coastal Grandma? Well okay if that’s what you want to call it. I call it fabulous. Go. Be. Fabulous.
We blew our budget through the atmosphere during our 12 days in New York City. Most of that was because we ate out every night in an expensive city. Then we were under budget on the island of Antigua because we used our kitchen and ate in 8 of the 10 nights. Next we arrived to our beautiful resort in Turks and Caicos. A generous room, with a fridge, sink, washer/dryer and microwave. So I got busy figuring out how to stay on budget with hotel microwave cooking.
Hotel Microwave Cooking
I have a microwave at home, but it is not a source for cooking for me. I use it only occasionally to reheat food, or cook frozen vegetables. I’ve never made an entire meal in a microwave. So I went to my favorite recipe source – Pinterest of course, for hotel microwave cooking ideas.
Here in Turks and Caicos everything is expensive. And we really try to stay within our budget, which is how we sustain long term travel. Groceries are expensive, but eating out is even more expensive. So our nine nights at the Royal West Indies Resort meant hotel microwave cooking more than half of those.
We always eat a bowl of fruit, spinach, quinoa, yogurt, and nuts for breakfast. But I had never cooked quinoa in the microwave before. But, yes you can. And the nice thing about quinoa is you can also make other great meals with it using pre-cooked chicken from the grocery store, beans and veg. It’s a wonderful staple that is part of my daily diet.
I never knew you could make hard boiled eggs in the microwave….what planet have I been on? This is revelation for me, because we each eat a hard boiled egg every morning with our breakfast bowl. Here’s how;
Tip – I didn’t have cooking spray but olive oil or butter works fine. I used a bowl not a mug and this is essentially scrambled eggs not an omelet. I added cheddar, spinach and green onion. I had heavy cream from the pasta the night before (see below) and used that instead of milk. I cooked the eggs a total of 4 min stirring every 30 sec. Microwave cooking time will vary.
I made four dinners, two of them using the microwave.
Tip – the pasta took 15 min. A smaller pasta probably wouldn’t take as long. After 15 min our microwave overheated and we had to let it cool down before we could continue. I cooked onions and garlic in butter then added canned tomatoes and heavy cream to make it creamy as well as parmesan.
Without using the microwave we also had a very yummy Swiss cheese and turkey on Toast with a cucumber tomato salad as well as a salad with store bought cooked chicken and lots of other store bought yummy ingredients. You can also cook bacon in the microwave and make BLT’s.
Stay On Budget With Creative Cooking
We don’t travel like we are on vacation. We travel like we are living a regular day…it just so happens to be in an exotic location. And this is how we stay on budget, experience the local culture and feel a little tiny bit like a local. It’s what we set out to do more than six years ago when we started the Grand Adventure, and we have made it work. This is how we sustain long term travel – by cooking in our Airbnb and occasionally in our hotel. Thanks for reading my blog post Hotel Microwave Cooking. Watch for next Friday’s post all about the Royal West Indies Resort in Turks and Caicos.
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During our six weeks back in Washington State, I spent a lot of time doing some updates to this blog (as well as complaining about the weather 🙂 ). Most of the updates are background things you will likely not notice, but you might notice a few tweaks to our design. I also have been doing some work on all of our associated social media accounts. So today very briefly I’ll tell you about the updates & changes My Fab Fifties Life.
Yep, somehow it’s already been nine years since I started this blog. Boy I sure didn’t know what the heck I was doing back then. Just blundering along, with no plans or goals. Fast forward nine years – once the blog became focused on travel (6 and a half years ago), I finally started to take it seriously. From other travel bloggers, classes, podcasts and groups I became associated with, I learned the tools of the trade.
I went through a period on social media and on the blog working diligently to build audience, make money and find travel freebies. To limited success.
Nine years in, now that I am no longer interested in partnering or adding advertising or frankly making the blog about income – I am almost daily approached by companies and individuals with offers to do so. But, I am perfectly happy with my little solo effort, my numbers and audience and the accolades I receive for my writing style and photography. I don’t need to buy followers (I have never) or compromise myself with false reviews. I don’t want to follow trends. I try to keep it real here, in all I write and all the photos I share. I try to keep it fun – for me and the followers.
Meanwhile, I am constantly trying to conserve energy with the effort I put into this endeavor. As much as possible I try to consolidate my social media posts, do my writing in advance during down time, and keep to a format that has proven pretty successful.
But despite all that, I’ve struggled with the different audiences that follow the different mediums. So over the past few weeks I’ve decided to make some changes. You may have seen a Facebook post a few weeks back where I announced the My Fab Fifties Life Facebook page was going to go away, and instead I would focus on the My Fab Fifties Facebook Group.
Well, I changed my mind. After consulting with some friends in the biz, I have realized these two entities are independent and should remain so.
If you are interested in following us on our six different Social Media platforms, we now have a specific format for each as follows;
My Fab Fifties Life Facebook Page – here you will find access to our twice weekly blog posts as well as , daily posts of our Travel Photography from around the world. I’ve learned how much followers love to see beautiful photos from places they have never been and I have ALOT of photos I can share.
My Fab Fifties Life Facebook Group – this very fun and interactive group page is where you can chime in with games and reminisce about growing up in the 60’s and 70’s including movies, music and cultural icons. This is also a place to find the twice weekly blog posts and interesting news and blogs that fit the theme from other writers.
Twitter @FabFiftiesLife – Sharing travel related stories from both My Fab Fifties Life as well as other Travel Writers from around the globe.
Instagram My Fab Fifties Life – Colorful and daily photos and lots of fun Reels of our travels as well as quotes and inspiration. Home to the fabulous traveling Mug as it moves around the globe.
YouTube – We post our Tasty Tuesday cooking classes on YouTube, focusing on cuisines from our travels around the world. On occasion we will also have other YouTube videos about travel related topics. Tasty Tuesday is no longer a weekly post, as that’s too difficult when we are on the road. A new Tasty Tuesday will appear at random intervals.
I try to keep my personal Facebook page, personal. Just for friends and family. I get so many requests from strange men…seriously do they not know I’m OLD? Take a look at my photo! LOL.
Updates & Changes My Fab Fifties Life
As we head off on another long-term travel itinerary, I hope you will hop on board any of the social media options listed above, and also subscribe to the blog (click here to subscribe) and follow along as we navigate the brave new world with an open mind, a big smile, a hearty embrace and the knowledge that life is short…it’s time to be fabulous.
Stay tuned for our first blog post about New York City coming up in two weeks.
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