BRIVE-LA-GAILLARDE, 9-12th July 2018

Back in September 2017 while James and I were doing our month in Sanur, Bali we met the lovely Brigitte from Brive in France.

We have non existent French but Brigitte has some English and we made it work and we enjoyed her company.

So when she once again invited us to come stay while we were in Paris we looked at our dates and decided to hire a little car and go country.

James did a great job of driving FiFi Fiat ( thanks for the name Christine Lavers).

We made a couple of food and liquid stops before succumbing to a flat tyre.

Being such a little car the spare was one of those small temp tyres and we had to drive at a reduced speed.

We finally made it to Brigitte’s home in the picture postcard town of Brive-la- Gaillarde.

What a lovely town and Brigitte’s home is a glorious traditional stone house on three levels with a wonderful eclectic mix of art, artifacts,and personal touches that makes her home both welcoming and fascinating.

Hugs and kisses greet us as do lily her little dog and Camina another dog she is looking after for a society that takes care of dogs for people who are unable to for a period of time. Perhaps they are in hospital or in Gaol.

We shared a lovely meal and her daughter Lea came for dessert and before we knew it we were ready for a shower and bed.

The next morning after breakfast on the terrace patio where we ate all our meals as the weather was just perfect for this, Eric took James to see about our flat tyre and they organised a replacement tyre to be fitted the next day.

Once they returned we all hopped into Eric’s car for a day tripping around the Dordogne countryside.

What a fabulous day with our friends we had.

The countryside is outstandingly beautiful and with the sun shining made everything glorious.

We started with a visit to Lascaux where a cave system filled with prehistoric paintings was discovered in 1940 by a young local boy walking with his dog. Returning a few days later with three friends they found the cave entrance led them into the most incredibly preserved prehistoric wall art and by 1948 this incredible find was open for public viewing.

Unfortunately the reality of doing this started a decline in the paintings quality and it was regretfully closed to public completely in 1963.

An incredible undertaking began to complete a totally authentic like experience with the opening of the Lascaux centre and recently only a few years ago a new and even more spectacular centre opened giving people a very much realistic experience of what this find looks like.

From here we whizzed around to Sarlat-la-Caneda.

One of those gobsmacking medieval towns that have you wandering around in awe at the architecture and the skill of the craftsmanship from so many centuries ago.

We love these places and as we wander around we also exclaim “well we’re not in Woy Woy now”.

The temperature was very warm so we sat at a very nice outdoor covered area for a drink from the bar/cafe before it was time to take the trip back to Brigitte’s home. We bade a fond farewell to our new friend Eric and he sped off to his evening shift at work leaving us all in awe as to how he would cope after driving us all around and walking in the heat.

Brigitte is one of those cooks who makes everything tasty and quickly prepared a large potato omelette (cooked in goose fat) to share along with the sweetest small vine roasted tomatoes and a simple salad of leaves, walnuts, pine nuts and sharp cheese shavings with a tasty vinaigrette. We opened the Moët and Chandon we had bought to share and a after dinner coffee we talked Brigitte into walking into the town centre to watch the end of the World Cup semi final which saw France make it into the Grand Final. There was much rejoicing in the town. Horns beeping, flag waving, cheering and singing and our walk home saw us all happy and ready for bed.

For our last full day Brigitte had us once again whizzing around the countryside in her little car with the roof down and with The Beatles playing we sang along and again marvelled at the countryside before we arrived at the hilltop town of Turenne.

Again we enjoyed winding through the streets and taking in the surrounding views.

But wait there’s more! From here we to Collonges La Rouge. All the little town is built in the same red brick and so carefully preserved and pristine that it’s no wonder this is a popular tourist spot. There were a lot more people here than our last stop where we seemed to be almost the only visitors amongst the locals. Still it didn’t detract from its overall attractiveness and we had a look at a few of the stores here as well.

Next we were back at Brigitte’s where she had a meal of duck and green beans on the table with a bottle of rose’ before you could blink.

By now we were realising you have to say no more at Brigitte’s restaurant or we would never fit in the little fiat for our drive back to Paris.

Brigitte and James picked up the new tyre so we were all good to leave the next day ( sadly).

And off we went again for an afternoon at Rocamadour.

Just when you think you’ve seen everything you come around the corner and see this place.

We are developing bulging eye tourist syndrome. Honestly we couldn’t believe what we were seeing.

Brigitte drove us to the other side of the gully so we could get the best pictures before driving back up to the top where we took the inclinator down to next level where we walked through the church. This stop is part of a pilgrimage walk so very sacred.

On the next level down was the town which had lost some of its charm by the over tourism and abundance of shops.

The crowds do detract somewhat but you still know you’ve seen somewhere extraordinarily special.

On the way home we stopped for some dinner ingredients as Brigitte had invited her best friend Hyam and her partner Yannick along with Brigitte’s son Adrienne and his girlfriend Sophie and her daughter Lea to come for drinks and a nibble type of dinner with James cooking the tasty thin sausages on the bbq.

I couldn’t believe that Brigitte took it all in her stride. We got home at 8pm the time everybody was expected. Luckily they were all fashionably late so we had a bit of time to get a few things together and Brigitte to make her famous “soup de champagne “ OMG. Yummo. Mix one cup each of sugar, lemon juice and Cointreau with lots of ice cubes then pour in champagne. ITS A WINNER.

We had a lovely lovely evening with almost everyone there speaking a little English.

We felt very welcomed and included. The weather has been divine and sitting outside with no flies is heavenly.

After Bisous bisous when everyone left we climbed the staircase for shower and bed and fell asleep feeling very happy.

Our last morning was spent breakfasting again on the terrace and then walking through Brive -la-Gaillarde, Brigitte’s home town with its historic centre and displays of windmills and umbrellas to celebrate summer.

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We went to a little food market where some goodies for lunch were purchased and then back home for lunch of figs stuffed with foie gras, salad with slices of duck and nuts and I think the right term for our other dish is duck/ goose rilletts.

Finished off with goat cheese from Rocamadour and of course for Brigitte and I a glass of rose’

What a fabulous way to end our true living with a local experience.

Our goodbyes were heartfelt and with sadness that our time together had come to an end.

Our drive back was thankfully uneventful, no punctures and we dropped the car back at Orly airport and took the bus home rather than returning it the next morning.

Our few days away were just what we needed. A breath of country air and a smiling friend to share some laughs with.

PARIS. MAY 31st- JULY 21st. The first four weeks.

Having made the trip across from Dover to Paris on the Thursday 31st May we stayed one night in a cheap hotel near the bus station as it was an 8 pm arrival and we weren’t due to take the keys of our apartment in the 15th till the next day.

We had booked this seven weeks early in 2017 with the idea it would give us plenty of time to really live like a local.

As it turned out it was another lesson in why the slow travel comes into its own.

My mother’s illness escalated so quickly that my trip to spend time with her while she was well enough to enjoy the visit became a mercy dash to make it back in time to see her before she passed.

After meeting Andie the owner on the Friday I booked my flight back to New Zealand for the Sunday evening.

From Friday till Sunday mums condition had worsened to the point I was worried I wasn’t going to make it back in time.

Fortunately I did and I got to say goodbye to my mum both in person and at her lovely service.

Mum knew I wasn’t that great with dates so I knew she chose our wedding anniversary to pass away so I’ll never forget the anniversary of her passing.

Mum was nearly 90 so it was a celebration and congratulations for reaching such a great age that we celebrated on the Tuesday before I left on the Friday to return back to Paris.

I was well supported by family and incredible friends and I got to enjoy some catch up with both these groups whilst I was in New Zealand.

James remained in Paris for the 13 days I was away and really got to know his way around using the transport and his navago pass we had purchased that first day in the city. So on my return he proved a great tour guide.

I was extremely lucky by getting some good rests on both trips there and back and didn’t succumb to jet lag either ends which meant I was ready to start making use of the five weeks we still had in Paris.

On the Sunday 17 th June we started the day by walking to the big market held each Sunday just down the street, covering quite a few blocks you can purchase all your weekly food needs with fish, meat, vegetables, fruits, cheeses,flowers, sweet treats , breads and so much more.

We luckily found it not too difficult buying with our non existent French language skills but a polite Bonjour certainly helps.

We bought quite a lot for our €49 and look forward to using our fresh produce over the next days.

After returning home and putting our goodies away we took the bus travelled into Luxembourg gardens which were just gorgeous with plenty of different areas for people to enjoy including hiring little miniature sailboats to race across the manmade pond.

We ate our baguettes that we had made up with salad fillings at home and walked from there to the Pantheon basilica. We weren’t immediately sure if we would bother paying the charge to go in but decided it would be interesting to see the crypts which held the likes of Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, Alexander Dumas, Pierre and Marie Curie as well as many famous French citizens from the resistance and other circles of French life.

It was magnificent but nothing could beat the 3€ tour to the top of the dome outside with 360 degree views of the city I would easily say it is the best value when it comes to getting the overview of the city. Highly recommended.

By the time we got home we were keen for our dinner which we made from ingredients bought that morning at our market shopping trip and the pork we used in the stir fry was the tenderest we had ever eaten.

The next day we did some office work before we headed out to Montparnasse to look around.

Not as exciting as the previous day but I did manage to buy a couple of pairs of light weight cotton pants at a reduced rate to replace the pairs I’ve been wearing for over a year now and James bought some weetbix from Marks and Spencer’s food market to add to the marmite we got for him yesterday.

Our apartment is very comfortable with a full kitchen and user friendly lounge,dining,bedroom,bathroom and separate toilet. The laundry is in the basement where we have our own washing machine.

The place is full of all the necessities for living long term and our lovely landlords Andie and Georges had James for dinner one evening whilst I was away. They live in the building next door and are delightful Andie originally bodes from New York but has lived in Paris with her French husband Georges for many years. She’s a little pocket rocket and has a warm and friendly manner, just what strangers to town are looking for.

Continuing our exploration of the city we decided to tick one of our list places off by arriving in time for the opening of The Musee d’Orsay to find it was subject to a strike and likely to open later.

We decided to check it out again another day and that we would now walk down to Notre Dame Cathedral and mooch around the Latin Quarter. We spent four hours strolling the waterfront and all around Ile St-Louis before walking around Notre Dame.

As the queues were extensive and we had both been before we skipped along to the Latin Quarter and enjoyed all the restaurants, cafes and busy scene there, whilst looking for The Breakfast in America diner we had read about in a book by the owner whom documented his trials and wins in setting up the business in Paris. We weren’t interested in eating there the prices pretty hefty and it was packed but we were happy to find it and James recognised the author who was hands on working in the diner.

Taking the metro back to two stops before ours we walked through those neighbourhoods and noted that there were a lot of well patronised bistros and cafes during the fairly lengthy lunch time service. May return there for a meal of the day sometime soon.

With such a good length of time we have been able to go out everyday and see different parts of the city without having to race. Some days we are out four or five hours and others more, it really depends on when we feel we’ve seen enough for the day and how many of those hours have been spent walking or climbing stairs to get the view.

We’re very lucky that one of our local buses takes us across the seine, past The Louvre and up to Montmartre.

This is a great trip and we’ve made the most of it and the metro as we get around finding new suburbs to spend time in.

Sometimes what we planned to do hasn’t worked out due to strikes or huge queues so we’ve moved onto something else on our list.

We finally got to the Musee d Orsay and bought a ticket that gave us entry to the Musee d l Orangerie giving us another day trip out.

So we spent the next days wandering around Montmartre and taking the stairs to the top of Sacre Coeur for the awesome view. Took in the Musee d Montmartre.

visiting cemeteries where world famous people are buried including the one at Montparnasse and Pere Lachaise.

walking the gardens of Tuileries near the Louvre and revisiting the wonderful gardens Luxembourg.

To the side of the Tuileries gardens is the wonderful Musee de l’Orangerie one of the best art museums you will find. It is a relatively small Musee but boy it packs a punch. Purchase a ticket combining the Musee d Orsay for around €18.

This Musee then gives you the opportunity to hang in the gardens on one of the many supplied metal chairs some even tilted for more relaxing and taking in that most popular of activities, people watching and just soaking up the sights and atmosphere of life in Paris.

Among other random things we went to the Oz bar to watch the State of Origin football, wandered around our local area and found a great park not far away with exercise equipment and pond,along with just going to the local street food markets to buy produce for cooking at home.

One of the ways we have been able to afford travelling is to live like a local that means eating most of our meals at home and taking lunches out with us. I know this sounds dull to some of you and we certainly shout ourselves a meal out occasionally but we have found that this is one of the most cost saving ways to keeping our budget on track and to also keep an eye on what we’re eating.

It about experiences not always luxurious meals that we are after.

There have been plenty of stays where we haven’t had a kitchen and we found it sometimes difficult to find meals we either liked or were within our budget threshold. Also using public transport in a large city is key to keeping our costs down and most of the large cities if you’re there for a month have some kind of deal. Hiring a car though like we did in the UK for our last ten days gave us the flexibility we wanted at an affordable price and well worth it.

When you take into account what your monthly outlay is at home including entertainment, home and car expenses, we are often living cheaper than we did in Australia.

I’ll leave it here and add the rest of our Paris adventures in a separate post.

MOUSEHOLE, CORNWALL and The U.K. 6th – 31st May 2018.

BINGO! Did we arrive into London on the most spectacular day or WHAT! Not a cloud in the sky and glorious views all the way down on the train to Penzance and taxi to our gorgeous seaside cottage “little Dorris” for the beginning of a 20 night stay.

First we had a brilliant Uber ride shared with Belinda and Patrick Peck with our fantastic driver Ali giving a great city tour on the way through to Paddington station. Here we hugged our new friends adios as we went on our separate journeys and we had to change to Marylebone station as Paddington was closed for maintenance.

We actually scored a great seat on the train with a table and although I would have liked to have a nap it was so hard to as the scenery was just too glorious in the sunshine to miss.

Once at Penzance we discovered no Uber here and having only just missed the last bus as it was a Sunday, we took a taxi to our home in Mousehole.

The taxi driver was a great source of local knowledge and when we arrived at our little cottage were welcomed by Pat and Allan with champagne and flowers and a box with a few necessities to get us through till we could go shopping, greatly appreciated.

We didn’t un pack much, just a look around our abode before venturing out for a stroll around the town.

We booked Mousehole from the photos we had seen of this quaint village and it sure hasn’t disappointed our vision of what we hoped for. It is full of the cutest odd shaped little cottages and laneways with the seaside fishing boats and walled seafront as a background ( think Doc Martin the tv program for an idea of the vista).

A dinner at The Ship Inn pub a few doors down and it was time to call it a day.

Unfortunately the first night the shower wasn’t successful as the hose leaked so badly but, a quick email the next morning to Pat and when we returned from our day out all was sorted. This is the difference between a good stay and a bad one when you get quick responses to any little problems that come up.

MONDAY the 7th of May was bank holiday here in the UK and luckily the weather was holding up for a glorious coastal walk to Penzance via Newlyn which is another gorgeous seaside fishing village.

We had a great day exploring both Newlyn and parts of Penzance. An interesting and informative visit to the information centre meant we had heaps of ideas for our time here and some great local knowledge makes all the difference.

After the requisite Cornish pastie and coffee we organised a SIM card with data and hit the supermarket for some shopping essentials.

The extra cost of having a whole cottage to ourselves is more than offset by the cost savings of constantly eating out.

Food here in the supermarket is very reasonable but the prices in restaurants when we have to almost double the price for conversion to Australian dollars is crippling.

The small local bus bought us within 50 metres of home and after putting away our packages it was time to rest.

We had our first home cooked meal in over 10 weeks. We kept it simple till we regain our cooking skills and familiarity with the kitchen and it’s on hand utensils.

The next few days we spent walking back into Wherrytown where they have a Tesco for a little more shopping and a lot of time walking the local countryside including a fantastic coastal walk to the very quaint Lamorna, which was fairly challenging at times as I didn’t really have the right walking boots, but hey when on holiday you somehow make do.

The coastal views were well worth it and a lovely coffee in the cafe at Lamorna coastal waterfront was a welcome break before we turned and headed back to our cottage home.

There are some lovely little villages with some stunning rural vistas and some of the public footways are not more than flattened grass tracks often leading into farmers fields sometimes with cows in them! Which we’ve discovered several times now. This still seems strange to be walking through farmers fields with no questions asked, but it certainly gives you some great scenery and lovely rural walking.

We were pleasantly surprised to know that another couple from the ship were coming for a week stay in Mousehole from Thursday the 10th. It turns out their cottage is only about 50 metres from ours so it wasn’t ever going to be hard to catch up and it was a laugh to walk into the deli cafe on the Friday morning for a coffee ( the best flat whites in town) to see them sitting there having breakfast.

Unfortunately the weather started to be a bit up and down since their arrival but still on the whole we’ve been very fortunate.

We had a plan to share the Sunday taking a train to St Ives but with Sue waking up and being ill, Terry popped down to say they weren’t likely to be going. James and I changed our plans and took the bus to Marazion and as the tide was out walked over the sand to Saint Michaels Mount.

Saint Michaels Mount is a tidal island and you can see it for miles around and it’s history is incredible from monastery from the 6 th century to private home for the St Aubyn family till handed over to the National Trust in the 1960’s. Steeped with so much folklore it’s a wonderful few hours with glorious views.

Back on the mainland it was another walk through the historic town of Marazion before walking back into Penzance then bus home.

Honestly it’s crazy how glorious the the scenery is and we’ve really enjoyed getting out and about in the countryside and little villages.

The next day we took the bus to St Ives, the village we visited on our 2013 tour of the UK and which had sold us on the idea of returning to Cornwall for a longer stay with hopefully much better weather than we experienced that 2013 trip.

Enjoying the sunshine and coastal walk from one side to the other and up the hill to the little chapel then strolling the laneways is always a great way to spend a few hours. Oh and a great flat white too.

We got home just in time to welcome Belinda and Patrick ( also from the COLOMBUS cruise) whom we invited to stay a few days with us if they could get down this way.

It was a great couple of days exploring all over the countryside and coastal views in their little grey rocket Skoda.

A fantastic visit to the Minack theatre with an evening show of music by a group called “ praying for rain” was a highlight.

Watching the day turn into night was spectacular as the evening draws slowly from dusk to dark here in the warmer months.

This theatre really is a gem of Cornwall and if you ever come here it’s a must see and definitely get to a show if you can.

Along with touring around we managed to enjoy having Terry and Sue join us for dinner on two of the three nights Belinda and Patrick were with us.

Everyone was in great spirits and generous with bringing food and drink to the table and I especially enjoyed sharing Sues lovely gin.

This is one of the joys of travelling meeting new friends and supporting each other on our travels, sharing what we have with each other to enhance the whole experience.

Both couples were leaving on the Thursday so there were hugs all round as we waved Sue and Terry goodbye and goodnight after they left our Wednesday night dinner at our cottage.

On the Thursday we left with Belinda and Patrick for more countryside driving until we got to Newquay where after a pub lunch with great views they waved us off as we boarded our first bus on our way back to Mousehole.

This was quite the trek with the first bus taking us to Truro a lovely bigger town with imposing Truro Cathedral quite a statement in the township.

We spent an hour here before our next bus to Penzance and our final one back to Mousehole. We left Newquay at 1:30 and arrived home at 6 pm.

It was a quiet cottage we returned to and we both said how great the last days had been with The Colombus crew around.

It’s now back to organising our next sector from here to Paris and I’ve got to get the blog from our time onboard posted.

Of course there was THE WEDDING to watch on Saturday 19th and it was lovely to be in the UK for this special day.

When we mentioned we would be coming to Mousehole my eldest brother instantly gave us the heads up that he had friends nearby at Newlyn, Elaine and Stan Fenton.

So now that we had waved goodbye to our ship mates we got in contact with Elaine and Stan and Elaine suggested meeting at the Old Coastguard cafe/ restaurant and guesthouse for coffee on the lawn. We quickly agreed as it’s a beautiful garden overlooking the water.

Well a coffee turned into two and then a wine. Lovely couple and we appreciated them giving up their Sunday to share about 3 1/2 hours with us.

Elaine has since sent through some of her ideas for us to spend our last week here doing.

Having made our mind up to hire a car to drive to Dover and pick up a bus to go over on the ferry with, then take us into Paris, we decided to get it earlier as price was so good.

On Monday the 21st May we took the little bus from Mousehole to Penzance picked up our weeny car an Hyundai i10 and drove to Geevor tin mine.

They said it would take around 2 hours but we spent 4 and a 1/2 it was just so interesting. With a tour of an underground mine plus a spectacular walk along the coast to see the ruins of both Geevor and Levant mine then add a stop at St Just another quaint village before a bit of grocery shopping and it was a full day.

We’ve occasionally seen the show Doc Martin on telly and we decided to take the opportunity to drive to Port Isaac where the show is filmed to take in the quintessential Cornwall quaintness this town embodies.

It didn’t let us down. The scenery is breathtaking. And it was a fairly easy drive and even the few narrow lanes we did drive down were every bit as pleasant with their hedgerows covered in spring flowers.

Another wonderful day was having a little boat ride from Mousehole on The Cormorant a delightful little boat captained by Mick. We had a lovely tour down the coast just past Larmorna cove where we had walked the coastal path to. It was great seeing it from the water and even better we saw the caves along the coast used for smuggling back in the day and the cave that the village of Mousehole is named for. It is much larger than it originally was due to erosion but still a good story.

Mick was a great character and we had a little fella on the trip wearing a VW tee shirt with 1962 written on it. Mick gave him the wheel for a while and we gave him a pair of our captains glasses to wear. We had bought them on board with the intention of leaving them with Mick so kids could wear them on tours with him. We felt it was a good home for them. They have traveled around the world with us almost twice since Paul and Michelle bought them on our world cruise last year 2017.

After our wonderful boat ride on a truly magnificent morning we popped home for a quick lunch before taking “little Blue” back down towards The Lizard.

This time we parked the car on the village green and took a walk to Kynance Cove.

SPECTACULAR is the only way to describe this place.

The water was the most glorious colour seen usually only in a tropical paradise.

With the dramatic cliffs and rocks surrounding this beach along with the paddocks and spring flowers this whole visit was a highlight.

Having driven along a few country lanes by this time James really had his driving skills tested when the next day we visited Falmouth for a longer visit and took the scenic road back towards Helston, before linking up for the rest of the drive home.

These are one lane wide at most, and occasionally barely enough room for one car.

It’s a testament to the locals of their good manners and driving skills that anyone makes it safely home with their stress levels surely tested everyday if they live along these lanes.

James did brilliantly and as people wave as they get past he even copped a “ Perfect” score from one lorry driver, big praise.

Falmouth has a lot to offer including a thriving harbour with ferry rides to other areas including Mawes.

A maritime museum and lots of quaint shopping streets, a castle and wonderful views.

On our trip back we also went past a number of open to public gardens which would be worth another day out.

James had a birthday while we were In Mousehole it was a very low key day. Started with me making him a cooked breakfast then heading to the deli cafe for coffee. Returning back to our cottage to spend some time organising our belongings for our onward trip heading towards Dover to spend our last days tripping around down that area before heading to Paris.

A last dinner at The Ship Inn and before we knew it Saturday 26th was here and we packed our kit into little blue and drove off.

We took a side trip to Torquay then headed into the lovely town of Wilton.A lovely wine and beer at The Greyhound Inn while we looked up accommodation for the night and we struck it lucky with an Airbnb close by at Susan’s home with a Scottish theme room and our own bathroom.

Susan welcomed us and her house was very quaint with all the accompanying paraphernalia you would expect from someone who is a Druid.

We drove down to have dinner at would you believe it! A pub called The Ship Inn. We chatted to a local couple in the car park and ended up sharing a table for dinner together. Bob and Mandy had lived there their whole lives living next door to each other before marrying.

They were great company and made it a lively evening for us.

Back at our accommodation we enjoyed a very comfortable bed.

Going into Wilton again the next morning for coffee we had a lovely walk around this village and it’s very old properties and arrived at Wilton house in time to watch the vintage cars leaving from an early morning event.

From Wilton we headed into Salisbury. What a fantastic place.

The Cathedral was massive with a lovely garden and large green spaces surrounding it and with the township also made up of character filled homes and shopping streets you certainly could spend a few days in this area.

Heading off again we decided to stop not too far away to spend the night.

Our next overnight stop was one of those forgettable beside the highway hotels. Which was clean and had good hot water, what else is there to say.

But the next day we had a great day driving down the coast and visited Hastings along the way to Dover and beyond to the large seaside town of Deal.

We had never been here before and were thrilled that it was as quaint and gorgeous as most places we had seen.Our Airbnb was a great price and was just off the High Street.

The flat was exceptionally well set up so you could easily live there.

All the comforts and bits and bobs that you would have at home.

There was only a few draw backs. The bed was really only a double and quite small for us and the 62+ stairs to reach it were very narrow treads.

But on the whole we were very happy to have such a great space for three nights.

The town was lovely and although some rain had started to set in we enjoyed our time here. Once again we bought supplies so we didn’t have to eat out each day.

The next day we got some administrative stuff sorted, James got a haircut and we drove into Dover and had a great four and a half hours at Dover castle.

We would highly recommend a day there if you’re near by.

Great history and there are several World War Two tunnels to visit as well.

The next day we drove the coast heading towards Margate but we never made it that far.

TAKE A LOOK AT THE NEXT TWO PICTURES. ONE FOR HAM AND ONE FOR SANDWICH I thought it very funny.

Stopping at the town of Sandwich which was delightful and then onto Ramsgate another great seaside town full of amazing big mansions and rail history as well as the port.

A mist like fog started rolling in just after 3 so it wasn’t worth going on any further so we headed home to relax for the evening with a red wine or two.

This was the day I found out my mum had liver cancer and we started looking into me flying back to NZ for a few weeks.

We were taking the bus and ferry to Paris the next day so packed our things and was sad that our last day in the UK was so visually great but heartbreakingly sad too.

We thoroughly enjoyed the UK and will definitely be back.

Next stop Paris.

SUEZ CANAL, PIRAEUS-GREECE, MALTA, GIBRALTAR and LONDON DISEMBARKATION 25th April – 6 th May 2018

SUEZ CANAL. Wednesday 25th April 2018.

The day of our ANZAC service was also the day we sailed through the Suez Canal. Our second time in one year.

As we took so many photos last year we added only a few this year.

PIRAEUS, GREECE. Friday 27th April 2018

We had decided that we would take the metro into the Plaka area today but a lucky encounter with Belinda and Patrick with an invite to join them for the day meant we got to spend the day with them and their longtime Greek local friend Oreistis.

After meeting us at the train station 3 stops from the port we all jumped in his car and headed to one of The marina’s for coffee and chat before heading on down the coast for spectacular scenery, great company and delicious Greek food.

Back in close to the port we finished the day walking past the fabulous local churches and shops before we walked back to the ship in time for our early sail away.

VALLETTA, MALTA. Sunday 29th April 2018

We enjoyed Malta immensely on our last trip here in 2017 and were very excited to be coming back for another day here.

The sail in and out of Valletta is one of the most spectacular you’ll have.

The island itself is full of rich history and character and just an absolute treat to experience.

We paid 15€ for the hop on hop off bus along with Belinda and Patrick and many others from the ship and headed to Mdina the old walled city high on a hill.

It’s late April and certainly not hot summer yet so we weren’t going to the blue grotto swimming as we had last year.

The Mdina is a beautifully preserved town of great architecture and charm.

We had coffee and cake at the same restaurant we went to last year which is placed on the walls surrounding the town with expansive views. The cold wind drew us inside one of the two glassed in rooms to enjoy the delicious cakes and coffee without loosing the vista.

From the Mdina we walked to Rabat and walked through the catacombs, World War Two shelters and St Paul’s grotto all underneath the church.

We then hopped back on the bus for the blue line trip back to Valletta which took us by countryside and the seaside holiday towns already seeing the first of the tourists.

It gave us a chance to see more of this great island and reiterate that we could easily come here for a longer stay.

Back in Valletta we walked through the town from coast to coast stopping for a few pastizzi and a beer before arriving at the upper battery overlooking the harbour where our ship was docked and enjoyed the view before it once again was time to head back home to the ship.

Malta is magical and if you get the chance to visit definitely do.

Only one stop left before we take the final run to Tilbury and the end of this cruise and the start of our next adventures on land.

Life onboard is still enjoyable and we are still meeting new fellow cruisers everyday.

We are so inspired by the huge amount of travel people we meet have done and planning. It’s great to talk with fellow travel lovers and learn more of the wonders to be seen and experienced on this planet.

GIBRALTAR. Wednesday 2nd May 2018.

We have driven past Gibraltar several times on tours but had never actually been to “The Rock”.

This was our last port call before three days at sea and disembarkation at Tilbury London.

We were expecting cooler weather and dressed appropriately in layers. We ended up with a cool crisp morning and stunning warm, blue sky day to visit this famous town.

What a fabulous surprise to see a beautiful town with super friendly locals whom must be tired of pointing out places to tourists but didn’t seem to let it show.

We only had a short time here and determined to make the most of it we walked into town and straight to the cable car to take us up The Rock.

Glorious views were our reward and with battlements and St Michaels caves to also see up there it was a few great hours of enjoyment. The caves are some of the best we’ve seen and the natural auditorium hosts concerts and other events in what was used as a hospital during WW2.

The Rock also has a glass skywalk which I was brave enough to walk on and is home to many Barbary Macaques monkeys which you have to be careful of as they are known to bite and attack to get food from tourists. Though they seem to be well fed from the amount of food we saw being put out for them by local rangers.

I returned to travel down by cable car and James walked down and headed off to the tunnels, moorish castle and suspension bridge while I had a pleasant wander through the town shops and enjoyed a flat white coffee before returning to the ship for our 2 pm sail away.

Gibraltar was an unexpected delight and would certainly go again.

By the way it’s duty free heaven for those wanting some great alcohol bargains.

1litre gin from £5.

It was pleasant enough to sit at the back of the ship on sunloungers for sail away with a cocktail and a beer.

While I was busy getting ready the trivia team of James, Wendy, Sandy, Phil and Kin won and there’s a Bottle of wine to share. It’s a hotly contested game so kudos for the team to take it out at least once.

The trip is quickly coming to an end and people are making arrangements for last lunches and dinners with new friends they’ve met and contact details are being exchanged left, right and centre as the time to start the packing begins.

This next photo is of Paula,Beryl, Pat and myself. My English mates I met onboard. We sat next to them most days on our sunloungers. They all either live part time or full time in Spain and were great fun.

We have met several English couples whom live in Cornwall and have found another couple who are headed down to Mousehole for a weeks holiday so we should be able to catch up with at least one or two of them whilst down there.

AND IT ALL COMES TO AN END.

Before we knew it May 6 th arrived and on a stunning blue sky day we landed on the docks of Tilbury London and with lots of goodbyes and hugs we left all our Colombus ship friends and with Patrick and Belinda we called an Uber to take us To Paddington station.

There we parted company and we headed off to catch our train to Penzance, Cornwall and start our next adventure, 20 nights in Mousehole a cute and quaint fishing village.

DUBAI, OMAN, CHEFS TABLE, EGYPT, JORDAN & ANZAC DAY. 14th April – 25th April 2018

DUBAI,UAE. Saturday 14th April 2018.

Sad day today as our friends Karen, Stuart, Robyn and Paul disembarked, after enjoying their company for 7 weeks they will be greatly missed.

We had had a wonderful tour last year of Dubai and as we weren’t having a huge amount of time here this year decided to keep it simple and took the free shuttle to the Dubai mall and spent our day there.

It is of course a tourist destination in itself with not only shops but an aquarium, fountain, hotel and access to the observation deck in the Burj Khalifa.

We were quite happy not to be out braving the heat and enjoyed the good but expensive coffee we had and a chance to get some wifi and catch up on news from home.

It was a pleasant evening for sail away and we got to meet our new table companions.

MUSCAT, OMAN. Sunday 15th April 2018.

Having a late arrival here at 2pm till 8 pm allowed everyone to do their normal morning activities before having midday lunch and getting ready for the afternoon ashore.

We had gone to the shore excursion talk to get an idea of what you could do independently or if a ships tour would be the way to go.

We decided to go off on our own and explore.

Muscat was fabulous we absolutely loved it.

You really felt you were in the Middle East but as Oman is known as one of the safest countries in the world we enjoyed the friendly people, the cleanliness, and the interesting architecture and souks.

We took a long walk to the grand palace enjoying the beautiful waterfront and sights along the way.

We ended up getting a small amount of money then to get a taxi back and get a few cold drinks as well as a few extra to bring on board.

By the time we arrived back to the area closer to the ships port, the souks in Muttrah had fully opened and it was wonderful wandering through with the locals also shopping there. This is a contrast to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul where the locals no longer shop there like they used to.

This is of course a Muslim country so the dress is from slightly modest to the full dress where eyes only shown. But the friendly smiles and Hello and welcome we received was lovely.

There are lots of lovely things to buy if you’re here for shopping as has been the case for most of the stops and it looks like quite a few have done just that.

Rose the lovely English Indian lady who helped me with my sari on the Bollywood night is now up to 9 cases!!

Some of the ship went on dowel cruises which gave them a lovely view from the water of the rugged coastline. The water looked gorgeous and with the mountains behind the whitewash buildings of the town made for great photos.

Having no expectations we were thrilled to have enjoyed this lovely port of call as much as we did.

CHEFS TABLE, Tuesday 17th April 2018.

With a six day stretch of sea days we decided to treat ourselves with the degustation dinner with wines otherwise known as the chefs table.

We met our table companions at 6:30 pm in the library and were all given a glass of sparkling and a canapé with a run down of the evening before we all went for a tour of The galley.

As it was dinner time they were working in the galley and we got to see it in full production. A great experience for us all.

Taking the escalator back up to the dining room and our little alcove area especially designated for the Chefs table dining nights the full experience began.

More champagne, several different whites, a red and dessert wine all accompanied the nine courses plus petit fours with coffee/ tea to finish.

The courses were magnificent and much more than the bite size tastes we were expecting.

The company was great and a memorable evening was had by all.

SAFAGA, EGYPT. Sunday 22nd April 2018.

Our first port of call after 6 sea days where the day before on the 21st we celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s birthday with games on deck and buffet lunch outside as well.

We had booked to go to Luxor, The Karnak temple and the valley of The kings.

It entailed a very early start, on the bus by 5:15am and a long drive to Luxor.

Along the way the first few hours was mostly desert but once we started getting closer to Luxor we passed more townships which would have been great to stop to get some great real life photos.

There were plenty of checkpoints to go through and I don’t think I’ve had my bag scanned as many times ever as we did today.

There were some incredible scenes of everyday life and some really strange ones where police or military are carrying huge guns but they’re smiling and waving at you.

The security measures were pretty significant and they certainly have plenty of people in each of the security points we passed through.

The kids in particular were smiling and waving madly whether they were riding on the back of a donkey drawn trailer, motor bike or just walking down the street.

Our first big stop was at Karnak temple, just incredible, couldn’t stay as long as you really need to to do it justice but we will look at our photos and remember the spectacular remains of this place forever.

It was added onto over a period of 700 years staring 1900 bc with each Pharaoh wanting to leave his stamp.

To have seen it when it was standing complete and without destruction must have been an overwhelming sight as it’s still awesome now.

A buffet lunch at a lovely hotel overlooking the Nile was next and we enjoyed going and watching the Nile with the dry arid mountains in the background and the lush vegetation on the river banks as sailing ships passed by.

It was hard to believe we were actually in Egypt it felt surreal.

Of course everyone on the 9-10 coaches we had going on this trip were all looking forward to the valley of the kings and it didn’t disappoint.

We actually went into Tut Anhk Amuns tomb and though we weren’t allowed to take photos we saw his mummified body and sarcophagus .

Some of the tombs were just beautiful with their rich colours and amazing paintings and hieroglyphics.

We visited the tombs of Rameses the 4th and 9th and the tomb and sarcophagus of Siptah.

What a once in a lifetime experience we had and as we drove back to the ship we enjoyed the street scenes once again while also having a few sleeps.

Two weeks till we disembark!!

AQABA, JORDAN. Monday 23rd April 2018.

Last night we had to put our clocks forward not backwards which meant two big days in a row for those undertaking Petra today. Luckily we were lucky to have enjoyed the magic of Petra last year from The Sea Princess.

The ship had organised a shuttle into Aqaba town so we hopped on and visited the information centre along with a few others.

We partnered up with Belinda and Patrick ( a husband and wife team of intrepid travellers who make our own travels so far look pretty lame) and grabbed a taxi to South beach to have a snorkel in the Red Sea.

The wind was a bit high and the sea a bit cooler than expected which kept the boys on land but Belinda and I had a nice little snorkel before we headed for to a hotel for Jordanian coffee, reminiscent of a Turkish brew.

They had brilliant wifi so we all took the chance to catch up news from home and post a few photos before we headed back to town centre for a wander and an amazing local lunch of all things delicious, hummus, lamb, falafel, tabouleh, pita bread, pickled vegetables, and some other dishes and I enjoyed a glass of lemon, mint juice.

From there we walked to the Kepinski hotel the poshest hotel around and after they took a copy of our passports and informed us we weren’t allowed to use the beach we did exactly that…. the boys ordered one beer each and we spent the afternoon under a brolly on sunloungers relaxing, swimming in their private beach as we enjoyed their beach towels, free water bottles that they bought around and ice cold watermelon on sticks and nuts. Before we sat in their hot spa tub and infinity pool before we were then asked to leave. Oh well we were just going anyway.

After another walk around the town we caught the shuttle back to ship in time to shower and change ready for our 8pm dinner sitting.

Three days at sea including the transit of The Suez Canal and I believe they maybe putting on a dawn service that morning which will be the 25 th for our ANZAC day.

The temperatures have started to drop into the 20s now and we know the lounging by the pool days are probably coming to an end soon. Well it’s been great while it’s lasted and the seas have been so calm from Sydney we could be on a lake.

we did indeed have an ANZAC day service. It was very well organised and MC’d by the ships entertainment director Tony.

Australians and New Zealand filled the theatre early morning and some were given leading roles in a very dignified and emotional service, ending with wreaths placed in the pool on deck.

SRI LANKA and INDIA. 6th- 10th April 2018

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA, Friday 6th April.

Having been to Colombo last year and doing the highlights tour where we still laugh about the lack of, we decided to book a ships tour that would take us out of the city and chose to go to Kandy and the temple of the tooth.

This ended up being a very long day 13 hours with too many hours spent driving and not enough stops. But what we did do we thoroughly enjoyed.

The Kandy botanical gardens were superb. Including a stunning display of orchids.

as was the lunch at the Hotel Suisse, a beautiful old colonial style hotel where we also looked through a suite of rooms. The buffet lunch was jaw dropping in the amount of variety and quantity, everyone enjoyed this sumptuous luncheon stop.

We also went to the temple of the tooth, apparently the tooth of Buddha. Elaborate and interesting story told in art works around the walls and of course the gold altar as is usual in these temples.

Our last stop was the pre requisite shopping stop for herbs and spices with a quick demonstration on the properties of each cream, oil or medicine. All some kind of miracle cure for all of life’s ailments as sworn by at each of these stops in every country you visit.

The drive although far too long for the amount of visiting time was an interesting look at villages and the countryside. We saw elephants walking down the Main Street of one village. Shanty shacks, more elaborate mansion estates, people shopping, working in fields, and generally going about their everyday lives just what you hope to see.

We were also fortunate that the bus wasn’t full so when you wanted to have a snooze you could fully recline your seat and have a little nap, and these seats really did recline a fair way.

They held the buffet dinner over for the tours that came in late, ours was an hour over the scheduled time and we managed to sit out on open deck for sail away and the deck music party.

These deck parties have been well attended and been a huge success for everyone as the entertainment has been good and lots up dancing going on and the weather has been perfect for such events.

A day to relax before we finally get to India which was the country most reasonable for shortening our cruise due to visa hassles.

COCHIN, INDIA, Sunday 8th April 2018.

We finally made it to India!

We had arranged to go off the ship with Karen and Stuart and had a plan of action to grab a ferry to Cochin Fort area, but like all plans open for change.

And as we walked towards the ferry terminal we were offered a U.S $2 tuk tuk ride to Cochin fort so we decided that each couple would take a tuk tuk there. On the way we stopped at an ATM machine and the negotiation began for a whole day package. we ended up agreeing to pay US $10 a day for each tuk tuk and they would take us to an area where we could get a backwater boat trip as well as sightseeing elsewhere.

Of course we ended up having our boat ride with someone they get a payment from but we had an interesting one and a half hours touring the water ways leading into the city.

Absolutely disgusting what’s going into the water and unbelievable that people were swimming and fishing in this polluted waterway.

The rubbish is beyond belief. But we saw a side of life we wouldn’t any other way and birds and wildlife that meant the water was still viable, though not sure how.

From there we said we wanted to go to the fort Cochin area and have a coffee. This is when it got interesting and annoying. They took us to a hotel with a cafe, no doubt another someone they knew and there wasn’t an espresso machine to be seen. They wanted to serve Nescafé instant coffee, umm no thanks.

Stuart and Karen have an overseas roaming package and he quickly searched on line and showed them somewhere where it looked we could get a real coffee.

On the way they stopped at this shopping bazaar, we’re saying no we want coffee, ( here first then coffee) this became the theme for the day, they get a payment for bringing customers even if we don’t buy. By the third time we were all over it. Told them we weren’t happy, we’re not doing what we want, but what you want us to do. Let’s say in the end we over rode them when they had suggested places and gave them the opportunity to be paid off early, which they declined.

We ended up having a great day but we learnt what to do with the tuk tuk drivers when we arrive in Mumbai so it was a great learning curve.

Over the day we stopped at a Buddhist temple to watch a wedding gathering and another wedding at the large Catholic Church also. The saris were magnificent.

We saw the Chinese fishing nets and the old colonial style town surrounding Cochin Fort, enjoyed a lovely lunch at the East India hotel and cafe.

And had a few beers in a beautiful hotel garden in Cochin, which weren’t cheap but the serenity was worth it.

We visited the Dutch museum and strolled down streets looking at the stores and market stalls.

Back at the ship by 4:30 for a shower and swim poolside before dinner and very entertaining show by an English comedienne and singer.

One Sea day to relax before we tackle Mumbai.

MUMBAI, INDIA. Tuesday 10th April 2018.

We so expected this to be crazy, mad and chockablock full of people and in some ways it was, but not to the extent we thought it would be. It was vibrant, quirky, full of contradictions and I absolutely loved it.

We walked off the ship about 20 past 8 in the morning and walked back on at 8 pm.

We again arranged to tackle Mumbai with Karen and Stuart and they have proved to be great company and Stuart is awesome at map reading, as an occasional Uber driver he has the map thing sussed out.

We caught a cab to the gates of India which in fairness we could have walked but didn’t realise it was that close.

Of course we had to go through the typical up sell spiel from the taxi driver, but we stuck to our game plan learnt from our experience in Cochin.

He even tried to rush off to buy our launch tickets to Elephante island which he told us were 1000 rupees, again he was quickly told no. Turns out the tickets were 200 rupees for the return trip. You have to be on guard all the time which is another reason having two couples took the stress out of the day.

We took photos of the impressive waterfront before boarding our ferry to Elephante island.

We had a great couple of hours here, walking up the many steps to the caves with little stores lining the steps.

The first cave is by far the most impressive and alone made the trip over worth it.

There are lots of monkeys living on the island and they’re always a great time waster watching them playing and grabbing water bottles and opening them for a drink and of course the little babies clinging on are adorable.

We climbed cannon supposedly for the view but the smog is just like a gauzy curtain over the distant city.

We have been surprised to see dolphins both here and in Cochin considering the water quality.

The ferry ride back was a nice relax from the heat and the vista coming back into the Gateway of India is impressive with the profuse amount of bright coloured local boats in the foreground and the stunning fascade of The Taj Mahal Mumbai palace hotel in the background.

It was to the hotel we planned our next stop and after walking through and deciding we were too hungry to wait for afternoon tea settled for a magnificent lunch in the air conditioning and lovely interior of one of the hotels restaurants.

We paid more than we expected to but we all have a great memory and it was another pleasant oasis from the heat.

From there we walked around the streets for a bit looking at what the shops held and Karen spied a shop selling saris for 170 rupees ( about $3.40Aus) so I managed to get one for the Bollywood deck sail away party.

We decided we would use Uber for the rest of our car rides and took one out to see the large outdoor laundries where only the men work and a large population lives there in quite substandard conditions.

From there we ubered to the train station which is a magnificent building and like a lot of the older architecture here is beautiful and we wanted to take some photos of the buildings that we had past by in the car on the way to the laundries.

As the train station was only a couple of kilometres from the port we decided to walk back having some great photo opportunities and enjoying the everyday scenes of life in Mumbai.

We stopped at a great cafe/ restaurant/ bar for happy hour beers, snacks and free wifi.

It was dark as we walked back to the ship which gave the city a different feel and once back it was a quick shower to get to the restaurant for dinner before going back to our cabin so I could try and remember the lesson the woman gave me at the shop on how to wear it.

I didn’t do too bad but when we got on deck I asked Rose one of the lovely guests on board if she could show me the next day again. She instantly offered to help me then and there and she told me they look better with a skirt underneath whereas I only had a petticoat, anyway she rewrapped it and made it all look easy but I think there’s a bit of practice for me before I feel confident.

The ship put on a huge Indian buffet late supper on deck but we were too full from dinner which even then we didn’t eat that much. In the heat it’s liquid that you most crave.

We thoroughly enjoyed our first taste of India and I look forward to coming again for a more in-depth time.

We have three days at sea before Dubai where we will unfortunately have to sadly say goodbye to our table mates and friends Karen, Stuart, Robyn and Paul as well as quite a few other new friends we’ve made on board.

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed their company and have had lots of laughs. The wonderful thing about these longer voyages is that you have time to bond with people as no ones is rushing off except to the activities they choose to.

The ship sails from Dubai with a full capacity so lots of new friends to be made for our last three weeks.

We are now entering the area at risk from Somalian pirates. Last year we were on pirate watch and as part of the measures put in place for keeping everyone safe we were on shut down from dusk to dawn with the Window coverings up, and not allowed on open decks at night. We also did a pirate drill.

This year on a different cruise line we’ve been told about the low risk and what to do should we be alerted of any trouble and have been told we have a security team on board for this time we’re in these waters. The captain announced they were doing a practise drill exercise this morning. All quite low key for us passengers and we’ve not been discouraged from being out on deck at night.

THAILAND,SINGAPORE and MALAYSIA. 27th March -2nd April 2018

KOH SAMUI, THAILAND. Tuesday 27th March 2018.

This is my all time favourite Thailand holiday destination and both James and I were excited to be spending a day here.

It’s a tender port and it was 10am before we alighted at Nathon port town and only ten minutes later we were on our hired scooter for the day and headed off to Lamai.

We enjoyed the easy ride there and soon found ourselves back in familiar territory though some businesses had changed and new resorts had sprung up since our last trip here, it still retains it smaller town feel.

I was pleased to see as we rode away later that the same lady selling pad Thai at the night food market was setting up in the same place she has been for at least the ten years it’s been since my first visit here.

We managed a proper coffee before James had a haircut which we followed with a one hour massage before we headed to the beach for lunch at a table on the sand and a swim and relax before it was time to head back to Nathon for a last beer before lining up for a tender back to ship.

It was a very hot day and I think the ship’s showers would have all had a good work out as everyone returned home.

We had a quick recognisance while we were in Lamai for accommodation that would give us a good monthly rate should we decide to do this maybe next year. We found a couple of potential places so would be happy to wing it when we arrived another time.

It’s beautiful beach and unhurried and less populated town continues to attract us.

LAEM CHABANG, for PATTAYA, THAILAND. Wednesday 28th March 2018.

We had arranged to share transport with Paul and Robyn to Pattaya and we managed to be some of the first off the ship with Karen and Stuart just behind us whom were heading off on a long day private tour.

We scored a private car and driver for 600 baht each way ( about $12 per couple) which was a fair price considering it’s about 40 kms away. We organised a return pick up time and waved him off from our drop off point at The Hilton hotel and all sat down at Starbucks for a coffee, wifi fix and look at the maps we had picked up from The Hilton concierge desk.

What can I say about Pattaya!! Well I’m glad I’ve been and it was only for a day visit. It’s crowded, dirty, hot, sticky and with a thriving night club and sex trade not our kind of place. The beach was full of boats offering para sailing and the water didn’t look like anything I’d want to swim in. Apparently just two years ago the beach was able to have sunloungers and brollies out. It would appear weather has eroded the beach.

James and I headed off for a walk around to the point to see if around from there, there might be a nicer beach area.

We had to stroll down the area called “ the walking street” full of strip clubs, night clubs and seedy looking characters, before we managed to get around past the large Pattaya City sign on the hill and find a little quiet rocky bay with a patch of sand and some large trees for shade where we camped out for a couple of hours reading our books and snoozing enjoying the sea breeze which was a welcome relief from the dirty sticky sweaty heat the town offered.

On our return trip we stopped for a cold lemonade at McDonald’s where we could wash our hands and face as well.

We did find a covered local food market area where they had refrigeration and had a lovely freshly cooked lunch of two meals for 120 baht. Plus two large beers for another 140 baht.

Finding a busy and clean looking massage business we had a one hour massage each before heading back to our pick up point for our ride home.

We managed to make the most of our day in Pattaya but won’t be returning by choice.

Two sea days before Singapore 🇸🇬. Which will also mark halfway on our ten week trip.

SINGAPORE, Saturday 31st March 2018.

A very pleasant surprise to find we were docked next to Sentosa Island making our decision of what we would do for the day all the easier. Having spent time in Singapore in 2015 we didn’t need to do the run around in a day to see everything.

We went and bought an unlimited cable ride ticket that also gave us two attractions to choose from.

It’s a fantastic cable ride over our ship to the island and we had a great day. We thoroughly enjoyed our chosen bus ride around the island as one of our included attractions and even better we ended up being the only two on the bus so private tour with the guide providing a great commentary and giving us tips of what to do with our day.

After the bus we took the cable back down to Sentosa fort where we spent a really entertaining and informative time with their interactive displays. Well worth a visit.

A lot on the island is free so families have an opportunity to spend a day out without spending huge amounts. Though there is Universal fun park and a water park that seemed popular with lots of people.

We decided to go back to the ship to get our swimmers so we could spend the mid afternoon at the beach on Sentosa. We used the trip back to eat a quick lunch on board as well.

We had a very pleasant and relaxing day pottering around Sentosa and the sail away was very attractive with all the lights from on land and on the boats all in the straits.

PORT KLANG, MALAYSIA. Sunday 1st April 2018.

This is our first time to Malaysia and we’ve been looking forward to getting a small taste to see if we’d like to return.

First thing we noticed is that it seemed more affluent than some other Asian countries we’ve been to.

We managed to get on a ship tour with a glimpse of Kuala Lumpa at the last moment as our docking time was so short this was we felt the safest way to see a little something.

The ride into K.L took just over an hour o nice to see the out skirts of the city and our first stop was just a photo opportunity of the Grand Palace before we went onto a lovely garden and fantastic statue at the cities cenotaph. The statue designed by an Australian was impressive as were the gardens surrounding it.

On then to the city and a nice walk around the cultural hub , British colonial mixing with moorish style mosques and temples gives you a glimpse of this multicultural city and country.

Muslim, Chinese and Indian living in harmony with each other still following their traditions and giving the country a great character and feel.

We went to the famous Petronis towers built with the input of The Japanese for one tower and the South Koreans the other.

Back to the port and a bit of wifi before boarding for our 7 pm sail away.

A toast at dinner to celebrate what would have been James mum Doreen’s 88 birthday.

PENANG, MALAYSIA. Monday 2nd April 2018

We didn’t book any tours for here as the port is right at Georgetown and plenty to do in the surrounding area.

We hopped on the free local bus and it was great to see the local area with Little India and China town also here as they were in K.L.

We got off in the historical centre and even though the heat was intense we really loved walking around seeing all the old buildings, lovely little shops and the street art which is a big factor around this area.

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We walked around a few temples and a mosque as well as the Chan piers where the houses and shops were on stilts over the water.

We had a great coffee in a lovely cafe and enjoyed fruit smoothies as we walked around before heading back to the original cafe for a shared nasi goreng and banana fritters and ice cream, delicious 😋.

After taking the free bus back to closer to the port we walked past the Cornwallis fort and surrounds before enjoying a little snooze under a tree canopy at a local park.

With still nearly three hours before we needed to be back on board we grabbed a taxi and drove to one of the more well known beach areas where we had a swim. Our driver waited for us and we had an interesting chat while we drove back getting a good idea of that part of the island as well.

We spent the last of our ringette at the local grocery shop before boarding and relishing the relief of a shower and clean clothes after the sticky heat of our day out.

Sad that our friends from our Christmas tour weren’t able to meet up as they had to go to their Grandmas funeral. We will have to come back to catch up with Sen and Anna in happier times for them.

We now have three days at sea before Colombo, Sri Lanka.