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    Island Life  --  Oceania Travel

    Mo’orea Musings – French Polynesia Week Two

    I was trying to write a blog about the local food for this week, but oh my goodness there is so much excellent food and I am still experimenting and eating my way through! So, instead I will wait and have a foodie post next week. I should be ready by then so be sure not to miss it – the flavors of French Polynesia are wonderful. Meanwhile, this week, we have been happily exploring and settling into our long stay on this remarkable island. And so I give you Mo’orea Musings – French Polynesia Week Two.

    Sunrise

    Weather

    Beach time

    Week two provided us exactly the weather we had expected when planning this trip. No more monsoons! Just showers now and then with lots and lots of sunshine in between. We are very happy about all of that. We know we will have more rain, but Mo’orea Musings – French Polynesia Week Two has provided us many opportunities to be active and explore in the warm (and humid) temperatures. We are now into a regular running and hiking schedule. No golf though, as we left our clubs at home this time.

    Food and Culture

    Tahitian Art

    Week Two we discovered so much about the local food and culture and this is why it needs its own entire blog post. The local influence of French and Chinese to the Polynesian foods has created a wonderful and delicious as well as eclectic cuisine. I’ll tell you more next week. Meanwhile, the local people are incredibly friendly and helpful. On more than one occasion we have had locals drop what they were doing to help us find our way or interpret for us. They are kind and sweet and make us feel very welcome.

    Polynesia show

    Life is pretty simple on Mo’orea. People live in simple homes and live simple lives. I’m sure on Tahiti it’s a bit more citified…but here it’s very laid back and slow.

    Beautiful tropical fruit

    The culture of these islands is influenced by many factors. The Polynesian people, known as great navigators, migrated to these islands from all over Southeast Asia starting in 500BC. They managed to govern themselves fine, but the French arrived in the 1600’s and took over. C’est le vie. Today French is the official language but English is spoken by many and the native language of Tahitian is spoken by many. There are still about 2 million people who claim Polynesian ethnicity.

    This week we took a food tour, a cooking class, ate in a couple of restaurants and went to a Polynesian cultural show and dinner. All of these experiences will get pulled into next week’s post.

    Geography

    Geography

    Mo’orea is an ancient volcanic island, about ten miles from its larger sister of Tahiti. This beautiful and lush island is very reminiscent of the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Kauai is estimated to be about 5 million years old while Mo’orea is closer to 2 million years old. The green mountains rise dramatically out of the incredible turquoise water with spires and peaks and craggy rocks jutting here and there. This makes for difficult but beautiful hiking options.

    Lagoon kayaking

    The coral reef that surrounds the island was described by Darwin as like a picture frame and helped him solidify his theory about atolls. The coral was originally part of the island’s lava flow. Over the millennia it pushed it way out to ring the island and the coral thrived in the environment. It makes a beautiful lagoon around the island and provides safe snorkeling, paddling and swimming opportunities as well as a wonderful home for sea life.

    Pacific Rim

    On top of Magic Mountain

    Although Mo’orea is not an active volcano, the recent volcanic explosion and ensuing tsunami in Tonga (1200 miles west) reminds us how our planet is in constant evolution. Following the tsunami we went in search of information regarding the local tsunami procedures and warning systems here on Mo’orea and learned where we are to go in such an emergency. We feel prepared.

    Negatives

    There are however a few negatives, but they are hardly enough to mention. But here they are anyway;

    Dogs – like many places we have traveled around the world there are ALOT of feral dogs and clearly there is no spay-neuter program in place. It’s sad to see the condition of many of these animals.

    Speed – people drive REALLY fast on the two lane road that rings the island and often pass. Yikes. However, over the past couple of years a bike lane has been added on both sides of the ring road all the way around the island. This gives me a safe running lane, although staying alert with the speeding cars is important. Many people use bikes to get around an Motos too, but the bike lane is a nice addition for all of us.

    Mosquitos – not the worst place I have been for bug bites (Seychelles Islands wins that award) but the mosquitos have been pretty annoying. Hopefully now that the sun is back, the mosquitoes will go!

    Mo’orea Musings – French Polynesia Week Two

    High above the lagoon

    We are relaxed and enjoying our new little island life. I promise next week we will have lot of foodie information to share! So I hope you will check back! Merci!

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    See last week’s post Mo’orea Musings – French Polynesia Week One

    See this week’s top performing pin Fifth Annual World Travel Awards here.

    Island Life

    Mo’orea Musings – French Polynesia Week One

    Location: French Polynesia

    It’s been a weird and wonderful first week in French Polynesia (our 111th country!) where we will be living on the island of Mo’orea for two months. Getting here was no simple task…with ever changing PanDamit rules, overnight flights, weather woes etc., we were filled with gratitude on arrival. Here is our story – Mo’orea Musings – French Polynesia Week One.

    The first picture I took in Mo’orea

    PanDamit Hurdles

    As our departure date loomed and Omicron exploded we found ourselves checking the French Polynesia entry requirements incessantly. We didn’t honestly know if we would actually go. But as we have said before, we are approaching travel in the brave new world like a poker game…some skill, some luck, and some divine intervention. Living the gamble and a few prayers for good measure.

    In November FP changed it’s entry requirements to a 24 hour test from time of departure. Our embarkation point was San Francisco so we had to base our 24 hour test on an 11pm departure from San Francisco. This meant testing in the morning before departing out of Seattle. No easy task. We pinpointed three Rapid Antigen sites and headed to the first one in Port Orchard Washington at 8:30am where we found a three hour wait (outdoors). Ugh. Moving on to Tacoma we lucked out at a site that took us in about 15 min. Only 30 minutes later we had our negative results. Hallelujah.

    Thumbs up for a negative Covid test

    Both our flights were pretty full and we were happy to have our newly acquired N95 masks which feel much more secure and more comfortable than what we have been using (KN95 and regular surgical mask). We dozed but didn’t really sleep very well on the nine hour flight from SF to Tahiti so we were pretty dazed on arrival.

    Arrival

    Despite all our research we weren’t really sure what to expect on arrival. One thing we were grateful for was that we had printed all of our Covid documents, entry documents as well as an email we had with correspondence from the French Polynesian President’s office. Although we had all this on our phones it was quick and easy to show the printed documents as we proceeded through the three step process on arrival;

    Step One – showing our documents from our negative Antigen test 24 hours before departure.

    Step Two – Anyone who had Antigen tests (even if negative) had to have a Rapid PCR on arrival. We knew this and got in that line next. There were about a dozen testers and it went really fast. We expected to pay for this but it was free.

    Step Three – Our research had given us the impression we would need to quarantine for up to three days as we waited for the PCR. But instead, step three was to go through to passport control and into baggage, get the bags and then wait 25 minutes. A sticker on our passport said the time when we would be clear to leave the airport. So after 25 minutes and no red flag positive Covid results we were free to leave.

    Sofitel Hotel near our Bungalow

    From landing to taxi was about one hour and 45 minutes. It was well organized and everyone was nice and helpful. So off we went to Mo’orea Musings – French Polynesia Week One.

    On to Mo’orea

    It was POURING down rain. We grabbed a cab for the short ride to the ferry terminal to leave the island of Tahiti and head to Mo’orea. We made the 8:10am ferry but got absolutely drenched running from the terminal to the vessel. The stormy weather gave us rocky seas and I was really nervous given my motion sickness history. But, with mama’s little pill, and staring out at the horizon for the thirty minute crossing I made it. Maeva Mo’orea!

    Arriving at the Mo’orea Ferry Terminal

    Avis Rent a Car right at the Mo’orea Ferry Terminal was convenient and very helpful. So we were in a car within minutes. Then we had two hours to kill before we could check in to our Airbnb. Super jet-lagged driving seemed dangerous. But since the weather was crappy there was really no where to go so we ended up stopping for groceries and then driving all the way around the island.

    Mo’orea by the Numbers

    Bigger than Praslin in the Seychelles and smaller than Maui, Mo’orea is about the same size as Orcas Island in Washington State. About ten miles by 7 miles. The ring road is about 61 km (38 miles) and encircles the island. A few roads go inland off the ring road but it is the main road for most of the traffic. The area is 134 square kilometers and the population is around 18,000. The highest point is Mont Tohi’e’a is 1207 m (3960 feet). It’s very mountainous!

    Mo’orea has six communes (villages) scattered around the island. We are in the commune of Teavaro, home to about 2000 people.

    French Polynesia is 60% vaccinated and a mask mandate is in effect for indoors, although many people where masks outdoors as well. FP had a huge Covid spike in August which dropped off to zero for early winter, but began a gradual climb again over the holidays. But nowhere near what it was in August. Mo’orea has one hospital and several clinics that service the population, which currently is very light with tourists. We feel quit alone in the tourist category. We feel safer from Covid here than we do at home.

    The island rises right up out of the sea

    Parlez Vous Francais?

    Francais

    French is the official language but most people speak excellent English as well as the local Polynesian language Tahitian. Our Airbnb host, who lives on Tahiti but is here one day a week, speaks excellent English. I know bits and pieces of French but not enough to carry on an intelligent conversation. Of course through all our travels we have learned to use Google translate to read information on packages and signs. Even with Google it took us 20 minutes to figure out how to turn on the washing machine. Oh la la.

    Our bungalow in Teavaro

    Meanwhile our darling little bungalow in the village known as Teavaro is a fabulous space, with a kitchen, large covered porch, tiny pool and beach front. Less than a mile to grocery and restaurants and large public beaches. We feel very comfortable here and our host is wonderful. Merci!

    Tsunamis and Celebrations

    We arrived on January 13th and I celebrated my birthday on January 14th. Still incredibly jet-lagged we enjoyed a quiet birthday at the bungalow, and watched it rain nearly two inches in 24 hours (more on that below). It was an uneventful but nice birthday. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to us, 1200 miles West a giant volcanic explosion near the island of Tonga created tsunami warnings all around the Pacific. We didn’t learn about this until nearly 12 hours later when we awoke on the 15th and read it in the news.

    Birthday dinner fresh Ahi which is abundant and cheap on the island

    Although Hawaii (due north of us 2600 miles) as well as the West Coast of the USA, Australia, New Zealand and even Japan all went into Tsunami alert, we heard absolutely nothing from the FP government or warning systems. What the heck?

    There were no visible signs of anything unusual on our beach, which is only about 30 feet from our front porch. This experience however prompted us to take a good look around at what our evacuation options are. When we first started traveling we used to do this regularly, but I admit I have gotten a bit lax about it. I still am that girl on an airplane that pinpoints my nearest exit before settling into my seat…but tsunami evacuation route isn’t something I think about…until now.

    The reality is, no matter where we are, or what disaster might present itself, we will be on our own to save ourselves. This is true at home or abroad. A little preparation goes a long way.

    Monsoons and Mosquitoes

    Well we are here in the rainy season. However, everyone we meet, including our host, says this sustained rain is extremely unusual. If you have any doubt about climate change spend a few years traveling around the world. Because EVERYWHERE we have gone over the past five years we have heard these words about the weather, “this is not normal”. Not normal is the new normal from what we can tell. And the incredible amount of rain we have seen since arriving on Mo’orea is not normal. Not much to do about it though, and so we are okay. Hopeful it will clear eventually.

    Wet and rainy birthday

    Meanwhile the rain and floods have brought out the mosquitoes in droves. Mosquitoes generally find me exceptionally tasty anyway, but at the end of week one I am covered in bites. C’est la vie!

    Mo’orea Musings – French Polynesia Week One

    After a week of pretty much doing nothing but reading, playing scrabble and watching it rain, we have some plans for the week ahead. We have a reservation to do both a street food tour and a Polynesian dinner and show. With improving weather we also plan to get out to some of the beaches and restaurants. But we have enjoyed a relaxing week and have been perfectly fine just hanging out and doing very little for our Mo’orea Musings – French Polynesia Week One. We may or may not blog each week…time will tell.

    Warm and muggy

    Thank you for joining us in this weird and wonderful week.

    See last week’s annual blog post Fifth Annual World Travel Awards 2021 here.

    Check out our earlier blog My Favorite Islands Around the World here

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    At Home  --  Inspire

    Immunity Boosting Foods for Healthy Life

    Enjoy this blog from 2020 again or for the very first time.

    We are all a bit anxious these days about our health and well-being. Remembering the important recommendations for social distancing, mask wearing and washing your hands A LOT remains super important. But what we choose to eat in our social distanced lives is another important factor in staying healthy. Immunity boosting foods for healthy life is something we should learn to do all the time, not just when the world is fighting a pandemic.

    Choosing to add immunity boosting foods to your diet is really easy, without giving up the tasty comfort foods we all are enjoying during these anxious days. Over the past few years I have been working on a diet that is rich in both immunity boosting foods, anti-inflamatory foods and foods that are good for gut health.

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Blueberries

    I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist, just a lay person who has experimented and found some things that work for me. And maybe they will work for you too!

    Gut Health

    Last summer we purchased a sauerkraut maker, manufactured by a company called Cultures for Health. Now we eat a few tablespoons of homemade sauerkraut every day. Homemade sauerkraut is full of good bacteria for your gut. Unrefrigerated store-bought sauerkraut has been pasteurized. Pasteurization kills all those good bacteria and so you lose the healthy benefits. You can use this sauerkraut maker for other fermented foods too like pickles, beans, radishes. Eating fermented foods adds good bacteria and enzymes to your gut! And they taste good too.

    Here is our fun video on how to make your own!

    Now I know you’re gonna want your own fermenter. Here is the one we recommend.

    Daily Breakfast

    Our daily breakfast nearly every day of the week includes a lot of immunity boosting foods for healthy life. Each morning we eat a bowl full of blueberries (antioxidants, phytoflavinoids & Vitamin C), spinach (fights cardiovascular and chronic disease), almonds or walnuts (packed with fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals) and other fruits like apples, bananas, mango. We mix this with homemade yogurt.

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Spinach

    The probiotics in yogurt (live cultures) are really good for your health. Yogurt is a great source of low calorie protein, as long as you aren’t eating the sweet and fruity kind. We make our own yogurt very simply in a yogurt maker we bought from a manufacturer called Euro Cuisine, through Cultures for Health. It’s really easy. All you need is a live-culture yogurt starter and milk. We make it once a week at night, and when we wake up in the morning it’s ready to eat.

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Yogurt Maker

    Eat the Rainbow

    The rest of our daily diet includes a variety of immunity boosting foods for healthy life like ginger (free radicals build a defense system), garlic (anti-inflamatory), dark greens and broccoli ( full of good vitamins and anti-oxidant goodness) peppers and citrus (nothing like the Vitamin C in these foods to strengthen your immunity) and apple cider vinegar (used in small quantities is a great anti-oxidant boost).

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Citrus

    We eat meat including beef and pork, although most of our meat consumption is chicken and fish. We consume so much fish, mostly cold water fish. We try to have salmon, canned sardines and responsibly fished canned tuna regularly, all foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Nuts and spices and ginger

    Tea Time

    Although I am a coffee lover, I often take a cup of herbal tea before bed. I love a ginger tea which helps me sleep as does chamomile, and I’m also fond of peppermint tea as a pick me up in the afternoon. I don’t drink green tea very often, but like the teas I mentioned above, these all are high in immunity boosting anti-oxidants. The world of tea is actually very fascinating…there are entire books written about it and tea is definitely a immunity boosting food for healthy life. For me, just an herbal cup each evening is both delicious, healthy and relaxing.

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Herbal Tea

    Staying healthy isn’t just about food of course. Finding ways to stay active, get lots of rest, drink lots of water and engage in activities we love during these stressful times are all part of keeping your immunity system thriving despite the stress. It’s okay to have that brownie, or burger too. It’s not about depriving yourself. It’s about making good choices as often as possible, adding immunity boosting foods for healthy life to your diet, the things science knows help our bodies fight back anything from the common cold to an uncontrolled virus. Doing this on a regular basis will make you look and feel better.

    Take care of yourself my friends. Choose healthy options and be well.

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    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Europe Travel  --  Food & Drink

    The Cyprus Test Kitchen

    Cooking the Local Cuisine

    Location: Cyprus

    This is a repost of one of our favorite blogs from 2020. Enjoy again or for the first time.

    We spent seven weeks on the island of Cyprus – 37 days longer than we thought we would be here. During that time we were basically under house arrest so there was very little sight-seeing. Fortunately we are allowed to go out to the grocery store (with advanced permission) and the stores were bursting with wonderful fresh produce; avocados, citrus of every kind, carrots, eggplant, zucchini, pomegranates, lots of greens and potatoes and cucumbers. Just about anything you can think of to use in my Cyprus test kitchen.

    Fresh produce in Cyprus
    Beautiful and abundant produce

    Introduction

    I’m very grateful that one of the first things we did on arriving in Cyprus in early March, (before all hell broke loose and quarantines and lock downs became the norm), was take a cooking class. By doing so during our first few days, I was introduced to the incredible cuisine of Cyprus; a little Greek, a little Turkish and a bit reminiscent of Eastern Europe. The cuisine is hearty with pork, beef, lamb as well as middle eastern spices and lots of beans, rice and local produce. There is also seafood, although we unfortunately did not experience it.

    Cyprus coffee
    Delicious Cypriot Coffee cooked in Sand

    Since the island was on lockdown during our visit, we were unable to go out and taste the cuisine at the hundreds of restaurants and tavernas dotting the island landscape. So I decided to use all that time I had on my hands to bring the cuisine to us, creating a personal Cyprus test kitchen. I did a similar thing when we spent three weeks on the island of Antiparos a few years ago. We were there in the off-season and almost everything was closed. So I taught myself to cook Greek (see it here). And that was my attitude and goal here in Cyprus. It’s been one of my favorite boredom-buster-in-lockdown activities.

    Taste of Cyprus

    Before the lockdown began, during our first few days on the island, we signed up for a full-day tour with Cyprus Taste Tours, a local tour company and we were so blessed to meet Liza (Lee-zah) a Cypriot who loves food and loves introducing it to visitors. Our day included a beautiful drive through the Troodos Mountains of Cyprus, a visit to the Vouni Panayia Winery and a visit to the Loukoumia Geroskipou candy making factory. We also made a brief stop at the Chrysoroyiatissa Monastery to learn a bit about the ancient ways of making wine.

    Cypriot Cooking
    Beautiful fresh bread right out of the outdoor oven

    But the best part of the day was the four hours we spent at Mrs. Sofia’s Traditional House learning and eating several of Cyprus’ most traditional foods. She has a perfect Cyprus test kitchen and I was infatuated.

    Cooking with Mrs. Sofia

    As you know, I love taking cooking classes in every country we visit, and it’s always my favorite when I am cooking in a local home with a local family. That’s what happened at Sofia’s Traditional House.

    We were at the family home of Sofia and Andreas, the home Sofia grew up in. The original part of the home has been preserved in a way that guests can see how a traditional Cypriot home was in the past. Sofia and Andreas have added a cooking kitchen on to create a space for classes (only through Cyprus Taste Tours) as well as serving meals to tour groups that come through.

    Our Cyprus Feast
    Spectacular

    We learned so many things during our time with Sofia. First she pulled fresh bread out of the outdoor oven and fresh halloumi out of the outdoor cheese maker. Wow. Delicious.

    Next we watched the interesting process of making traditional Cypriot Coffee in a special machine where the coffee cooks in hot sand. Amazing.

    Then we began to prepare the ingredients for our feast.

    Six Famous Cypriot Dishes

    During our time with Mrs. Sofia we learned to make the following dishes;

    Halloumi Cheese – famous cheese of Cyprus is fantastic eat fresh, boiled or grilled. Squeaky texture with a very high melting point give it an unusual variety of cooking and eating options.

    Cyprus Food
    Koupepia

    Koupepia – stuffed grape leaves, very similar to Greek Dolmades, the Cypriot version is filled with rice, pork, tomato and parsley and simmered in a tomato broth.

    Cyprus Cuisine
    Preparing the meatballs with Mrs. Sofia

    Keftedes – a word that means meatballs and can refer to many kinds but the most popular are a minced pork, grated potato, onion and parsley with a hint of cinnamon.

    Pligouri – which is a pilaf of bulgur wheat. Bulgur wheat is what you might know in tabouleh. Pligouri is considered a poor man’s food, but is delicious, quick and easy to make.

    Cyprus Food
    Anari Cheese with Spoon Sweets

    Spoon Sweets and Anari Cheese – Anari Cheese is the fluffy white byproduct of halloumi cheese made by adding fresh raw milk to the whey after the halloumi curds have been separated. Spoon Sweets are spoon size bites of usually fruit but sometimes vegetables, usually the rind preserved in a sweet syrup.

    Things I Tackled at Home

    After going in to quarantine then followed by lockdown, I realized I wasn’t going to be eating in any local restaurants. So I set out to teach myself in my own Cyprus test kitchen, how to make several more of Cyprus’ most famous dishes. Here is everything I tackled during our weeks of solitude with recipe links when possible;

    Cyprus Cuisine
    Sheftalia

    Sheftalia – a type of sausage without skin its held together with caul fat. Very popular taverna meze. I was able to buy the Sheftalia already prepared at the butcher and grilled it up at home.

    Kolokouthkia me ta afka – is a traditional scrambled egg and zuchinni dish often eaten as a mezzo.

    Cyprus Food
    Kolokouthkia (scrambled eggs and zucchini) and fried Halloumi

    Fried Halloumi – this cheese is really amazing, with a very high melting point so it’s perfect for frying…but I also love it’s dense saltiness just to pop in my mouth.

    Macaronia Tou Fournou (similar to Greek Pastitsio ) this deep dish casserole was delicious and I plan to make it again. Layers of macaroni pasta, Bolognese sauce, bechamel sauce and grated halloumi it was comfort food at its finest.

    Cyprus Cuisine
    Macaronia Tou Fournou

    Melitzanosalata – smashed eggplant cooked and mixed with garlic, lemon and parsley and usually served as a mezzob.

    Avgolemoni Soup – Lemon and Egg Soup. Simple and absolutely delicious. What a refreshing surprise this treat was. I will certainly make it again.

    Cyprus Cuisine
    Avgolemoni Soup

    Lamb Chops – for our first Easter dinner we had lamb chops fresh from the butcher, marinated simply in olive oil, lemon and rosemary.

    Kleftiko – Lamb Shank. This is the most famous dish on this island, and I wasn’t sure about tackling it. Usually cooked in a traditional outdoor oven for hours and hours, I took my chances cooking it in the oven in my kitchen. This was our Easter dinner on the Cypriot Easter Sunday and it was amazing.

    Cyprus Food
    Kleftiko

    Souvlaki – I’ve eaten souvlaki in Greece and the USA and I love it but I wasn’t sure about making it myself. But on one of our final days in Cyprus I went to the butcher and bought beautiful piece of pork tenderloin and made the most mouth-watering meal! We had a lot of meat left and we enjoyed it again on day two.

    Souvlaki
    Souvlaki in Pita

    Fresh Lemonade – we were up to our ears in both lemons and oranges and we loved having fresh squeezed OJ each morning. We put our fresh lemonade skills to the test and what a refreshing afternoon pick me up.

    Cyprus Lemonade
    Fresh Lemonade using the lemons in our yard

    In addition we learned to make Cypriot coffee in our Cyprus test kitchen, just like Turkish coffee, dark and strong.

    Things We Ate Elsewhere

    Our lovely Airbnb host kept us in delicious baked goods, including one of Cyprus’ most famous desert flat breads called kattimerka, very much like lefse. She brought us a local molded pudding (cake) made from semolina flour called Halva as well as orange cake. And she also made us our favorite, the traditional Easter bread called Flaounes.

    Cyprus foods
    Easter bread known as Flaounes

    We bought Galaktoboureko at the local bakery, a very dense custard, phyllo, and honey pie.

    Cyprus sweets
    Galaktoboureko

    From the grocery store we enjoyed excellent local olives and olive oil as well as wonderful wines from Cyprus including Commanderia, the Cypriot favorite. As well as Tahini, Hummus and Tzatziki.

    Cyprus food
    Halva Pudding

    At the local butcher we sampled the traditional Tsamarella, a sausage made from lamb or goat and served like an appetizer with cheese and bread.

    Things I Didn’t Have

    We missed out on one famous Cypriot specialty, a slow clay pot cooked meal called Ttavas. We also didn’t get to experience the cultural tradition of mezzo meals, either a meat mezzo or seafood mezzo at a traditional taverna. This is the most popular way to eat in company, sampling dozens of small dishes while drinking and enjoying each other’s company. So sorry we never got to do that.

    Cyprus will always hold a special place in my heart…what a remarkable place to be in lockdown. Even though we missed so much, I still feel a great emotion to the people and the place…perhaps we can return when times are better.

    I am so grateful to this country for the love they showed us. EUCARISTW POLU. Thank you very much. You will never know how much it has meant to us.

    Adio is. Farewell.

    Check out this week’s top performing pin here – 2020 World Travel Awards.

    Cyprus Test Kitchen
    Cyprus Test Kitchen
    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

    I’ve been reading some really amazing, but pretty depressing books lately. I recommend all of them, but indeed they were intense. So when I stumbled upon The Rosie Project I was gleeful. Here is my book review The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

    This book has been around for a few years, published in 2013 it has come in and out of my consciousness but for some reason I never read it. Until now. And I’m so glad I did.

    This is the uplifting story of Don Tillman, an Australian Professor who has extreme difficulty with social interaction, because of his own autism. Don is a genetics professor, and leads his life with a very rigid schedule he doesn’t like to deviate from.

    Don has never had a serious relationship, and thinks his good job, intelligence and even financial status should make him an attractive mate. He believes the problem is with the women. So he embarks on the Wife Project, creating a list of criteria for the perfect women.

    This of course leads to a hilarious set of events, women and activities. Don finally meets Rosie, who defies all his criteria. But he enjoys her company. Of course you can imagine how things unfold.

    It’s a delightful book. Laugh out loud and sweet. An easy read. I’m so glad I found it.

    *****Five Stars for The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

    Read last week’s review of A Burning.

    See this week’s top performing Pin here – 2020 World Travel Awards.

    Inspire

    Waiting to Exhale…

    What’s Next for My Fab Fifties Life – A New Adventure

    On Wednesday January 20th I realized I had been holding my breath. For months. Literally unable to breath. But on Wednesday I let go of a long breath and decided to pull myself up and away from the despair that has settled on me. The two nasty “P” words (Politics and Pandemic) had me unable to relax and enjoy life as I used to…for nearly a year now. This week I realized I have been waiting to exhale.

    So the waiting continues…and as the song says, the waiting is the hardest part. But I am feeling more hopeful than I have in a long time.

    I’ve said over and over these past months that the hate and vitriol in the USA was causing me stress. My feeling has always been I don’t honestly care how people vote. But I care very much how people treat each other. And both the pandemic and the politics have created a tired, exasperated and often savage nation and dialogue. It’s just not for me. I refuse to participate.

    Breathe. Wait. Breathe. It may still be a long time until people are kind again. It may still be along time until I can be vaccinated. It may still be a long time until I can travel abroad. But I am no longer waiting to exhale.

    Instead I am going in search of peace.

    First of all…

    I feel blessed that I have the means to go in search of the sun. Our time in Maui showed us we could safely social distance away from home. In fact, it actually gave us time to invent some creative socially distanced activities. But, we aren’t going back to Maui, unfortunately.

    Instead we have rented a house in the desert. Not a condo, a house. Somewhere we can stay completely away from other people if necessary, while enjoying some warm weather. Getting away from the Pacific Northwest gray is my goal. I know some of you like the rain…but for me, it makes me physically ill. No joke. My joints ache, my sinuses ache, I have bursitis and my energy is zapped. So we are no longer waiting for good weather…we will go in search of it and the joy and good health it brings.

    Secondly…

    While I do a little soul searching and invest in my personal well-being, I’m going to take a mini blog and social media break. Not too long, just enough to recenter and exhale.

    I’ve spent some time scheduling ahead some Friday Travel Posts, lots of Reading Wednesday posts and several of our popular Tasty Tuesday YouTube posts, as well as some Facebook and Instagram posts. You will hardly notice I’m on a break. I can log off, tune out, shut down and take a hiatus from the madness. And breathe.

    I’ll check in from time to time, but mostly I want to rinse away some of the negative energy and renew my faith in mankind. That should be easy right?

    So what’s next for My Fab Fifties Life? Three months in the desert, then back to the Pacific Northwest in the spring. After that, no idea. We will take it as it comes. Fingers crossed we will be able to be vaccinated by April, and won’t get the virus before that happens. Perhaps we can travel next fall or winter. But, we wait.

    So I hope you enjoy all the posts I have been working on for advance scheduling, and I’ll check in on Social Media from time to time and probably rejoin after a month.

    And by the way, if you are waiting to exhale, feeling a little overwhelmed by world events, USA madness, media, screen time and snarky, judgemental or ignorant people, you should do a little social media cleanse too. It’s a good way to restart your engines for 2021.

    Remembering my word of the year…CALM.

    Be kind.

    Did you see last week’s 2020 World Travel Awards?

    See this week’s top performing pin here Cooking Hawaiian at Home.

    Inspire

    My Epic Adventures Around the World

    Just under four years of nearly non-stop travel, as well as many adventures earlier in my life, has left me with an unbelievable collection of epic adventures around the world memories. Lucky me.

    I’m not giving up on resuming our travel life…however I expect we will sit home for a year before we set out on anything too epic. And even if that never happens, what a life we have led.

    In my living room I have a large book case that I call “The Museum”. Here I display my world treasures. There are not alot, given the fact that we travel light and I try not to do too much shopping as we travel, but I rarely leave any country without picking up something special. I love looking at “The Museum” and although I appreciate when guests look too, “The Museum” is really for me, a reminder of my blessed and adventurous life.

    The Museum

    As I wait to determine what my next chapter in my life is going to look like, I spend a lot of my brain cells reliving some of my life’s greatest epic adventures. Therefore it seemed like a perfect blog to pull together and share. My Epic Adventures Around the World. I hope you enjoy.

    The Inca Trail and Machu Pichu – I don’t have a blog about this experience, it was before I began blogging about my travels. But it was a defining experience in my life, opening my eyes to my own physical capabilities. The five day hike on the Inca trail to Machu Pichu took every thing my body had to give, while also providing some of my all -time favorite zen moments. Life changing.

    epic adventures around the world

    Galapagos Islands – Everything about the Galapagos Islands is unique and memorable – both on land and in the sea. One of our favorite trips of all time.  The day we snorkeled in the Galapagos was the only time I have ever swam with seals who danced a playful ballet around us as we swam. We also encountered baby seals, beautiful turtles and small sharks.  Just one remarkable event in a very remarkable place.

    epic adventures around the world

    Weekend with the Monks South Korea – spending the weekend at a Korean Buddhist monastery was a unique and slightly painful experience. Living as a monk, mostly in silence, sleeping on the concrete, up before the sun and hours of meditative prayer was certainly memorable. But my favorite part was meeting the female monks at this monastery, hearing their story and gaining such an admiration for such a devout life.

    epic adventures around the world

    Easter Island Chile – Everything about Rapa Nui was stunning, but like most visitors I had my favorites. And like most visitors my two favorite sites were the Ranu Raraku quarry site and the Ahu Tongariki.   Upon laying your eyes on these two sites for the first time you conjure a list of adjectives; breathtaking, fascinating, interesting, surprising, remarkable. At one point I had to just stop and breathe deep – and remind myself how remarkable it all was, and how remarkable it was that I was standing there.

    epic adventures around the world

    Namibia – Arne and I both have Namibia on our top five list of one of the most beautiful countries and most incredible experiences ever. That is saying a lot in 110 countries. Unspoiled, incredibly diverse and still remarkably authentic, Namibia is astonishing. I have two excellent blogs about our experience there. The link above is the first one. Here is the second.

    epic adventures around the world
    Sunny Namibia

    Burkina Faso – who goes to Burkina Faso? Well apparently I do. I didn’t really want to go, but in hindsight spending three weeks there visiting our Peace Corps son was one of the most remarkable and eye-opening travel experiences of my life. And doing it with my grown sons made such fantastic family memories. I will never regret having gone.

    epic adventures around the world
    Burkina Faso

    Inle to Kalaw Hike Myanmar – I don’t have a blog about this experience, but it did win one of our 2019 Travel Awards for it’s uniqueness. This two day hike was longer and harder than I thought it would be (I should read the fine print) but the experience was amazing. Our guide was great, the food was surprisingly abundant and delicious and even sleeping on the floor in the home of a local Myanmar family with no electricity or running water was a memorable experience.

    epic adventures around the world

    Camino de Santiago Spain – Hands down one of the best, most spiritual, most life affirming experiences of my life. Walking 500 miles across Spain – 40 days, thousands of memories, one incredible experience. I hold this memory very, very dear.

    epic adventures around the world
    The Grand Adventure Spain

    Gorilla Trek Uganda – a life-long dream for me to trek to see the elusive Mountain Gorilla, for me this has also become a marker for the Corona world-crisis. Doing this tour was the last “normal” thing we did, before the world spiraled out of control, and came to a screeching halt. I will be forever grateful that Covid-19 did not stop us from doing this experience, and I will remember these creatures fondly.

    epic adventures around the world

    Tiki Tour in New Zealand – who knew living in 90 square feet could be so much fun? What a remarkable way to see one of my top favorite countries, New Zealand. I would do this again…and have also considered doing it in Australia. To really see all that is fabulous about New Zealand, a Tiki Tour is the way to go.

    epic adventures around the world

    The Great Barrier Reef Australia I had to really convince my husband that snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef off of the east coast of Australia was worth the money. But I wasn’t visiting Australia without seeing the reef, and despite a crappy weather day, our experience in the ocean was amazing. A pinch me moment, in a life of pinch me moments.

    epic adventures around the world

    Alps Hike Switzerland – with total honesty and without hyperbole, this day hiking the Schilthorn was one of the best days of my life. The physical challenge of it was astonishing, the beauty of it was heavenly and the satisfation on a travel scale of 1-10 was a million. Blessed day.

    epic adventures around the world

    Camel Trek in Morocco – incredibly painful, incredibly memorable. Our overnight camel trek in the dessert of Morocco was quirky and special, despite how uncomfortable riding a camel can be…who knew? But I’m so glad we did it; overnighting in the Bedouin camp, drinking wine around the camp fire in the chilly dessert night air, then rising again and clamoring back onto the beast for the trek back. I’ll never forget it.

    epic adventures around the world
    Sunny Morocco

    Bangladesh – we would have never gone to Bangladesh, except our friend Natalie was teaching there…so why not? A quick stop in this untouristed country to see what we can see. Wow. I would never imagined that we would have enjoyed it so much and have one of the most authentic travel experiences of our life.

    epic adventures around the world
    Beautiful Bangladesh

    Above it all – we paid a ridiculous amount of money to have two separate experiences in our travels – both taking us high above it all. It’s always hard to know if these things are worth the money, especially when we travel on a fairly strict budget. But for me, both of these experiences were worth every penny. Climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge in Sydney Australia and flying in a Hot Air Balloon over Bagan Myanmar. These both will go down in our travel life as phenomenal.

    epic adventures around the world
    The Grand Adventure Australia
    epic adventures around the world

    So the Grand Adventure is on sabbatical until further notice. I continue to hope we will travel again…but the brake is firmly set until further notice and we turn our attention to other inspiring adventures…stay tuned, and don’t give up.

    Thank you for continuing to support our blog – we promise lots of interesting and inspiring articles coming your way. Be safe. Be healthy.

    See this week’s best performing pin here.

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    epic adventures around the world
    epic adventures around the world