The Suez Canal Saturday June 17 th 

I guess we’ve all heard of the Suez Canal and it didn’t disappoint, travelling through starting at 4 am in the morning we were the lead ship of a convoy of 28 ships going through that day. 

You are of course travelling through Egypt the whole way and there was indeed a lot of dessert to see particularly on our starboard side. 

There was also a lot of towns and farms along the waterfront as well. Mansions to shanty’s. 

Every now and then on the side were platforms piled up, waiting to be put together like a jigsaw to make a floating bridge for military traffic or I guess emergency evacuation if or when needed.

Starting so early and with no problems we came through the canal and into the Mediterranean at 2 pm. 

It was an exciting day and we spent the day going from side to side and front to back, with wonderful cooling swims in the pool. 

Another box ticked and a lot of happy travellers.

Petra. From Aqaba, Jordan: Thursday June 15th 2017


We arrived into Petra early in the morning on Thursday 15 th June 2017.

We met up with our tour group which was a private tour we had booked through cruise critic. There were 12 in our mini bus and as soon as you like we were off for the two hour trip to Petra. We drove through the town of Aqaba, the port town which was fairly quiet due to Ramadan. Our guide Moses whom is Greek Orthodox explained all about the history of Jordan, the royal family and the tensions in the surrounding countries; which when you look on the map you can see Jordan shares borders with Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Syria. 

What can you say about Petra!! 

Photos do not do it justice at all.

It is simply incredible and to think they believe 85% is still to be unearthed is mind blowing. I think with the state of uncertainty in the surrounding countries at the moment it is probably best left uncovered for now.

To do it justice you really have to stay in the local area and visit over a couple of days. 

We didn’t race to the monastery as it would have been at full pelt and in the heat we decided to keep this visit to the Treasury, the Royal tombs, the amphitheater and the temple. This allowed us time to really appreciate these sites and still give us something keep on the list for next time. 

The visit to the site of Petra ended with a meal at a local restaurant which was tasty and welcome by 2:30 in the afternoon. 

The countryside was just as much a surprise, as we were all delighted to see many Bedouin tribesmen and their families living in goatskin tents tending their herds of goats and camels.

Others on the ship went to Wadi Rum and others went to a local hotel resort to swim in the Red Sea.

Before knew it it was time for sail away and our next adventure sailing through the Suez Canal.

From Fremantle, Colombo,Dubai

We have experienced the longest stretch of sea days on the cruise from Fremantle to Colombo, Sri Lanka. The days have easily been filled with lots of relaxation and plenty of entertainment on board. Our nightly dinner companions are Paul and Michelle and occasionally Rudi turns up. Rudi is an older gentleman hailing originally from Austria but calls Christchurch home. Apparently he has a girlfriend getting on at Dubai, but he’s still not 100% she’s coming. We call him Rudi, international man of mystery. When he isn’t having dinner with us he says he’s “floating”. We see him with a few different ladies on board and we make up different background stories about him.

The crossing has been quite rough and I’ve suffered a little from motion sickness along with others, but when I get on top of it with different meds it’s fine and now in the Arabian Sea getting close to Dubai it’s as calm as. 

On our day in Colombo  we went on a city highlight tour with the ship, this was a real hoot. As with a lot of developing countries, the city of Colombo was hit and miss with its highlight package. The museum we would describe as a school project at best, seen there, a worker pushing two exposed wires with no earth into a power socket to make a machine work!! This was almost as Shocking as the bus we were on driving into some power lines and having loose wires visible along the sides of the bus!!! One of the bus staff jumped onto the top of the bus seats, pushed a hatch open, jumped through and dislodged the wires from the bus. The thought did cross our minds that we were in danger of being electrocuted on our first overseas port of call.

As we approach Dubai and then from there head through the Suez Canal we are now on Pirate watch. No passengers or crew members to be out on open deck from sunset to sunrise for the next eleven days, also those with balcony or window cabins to keep their curtains closed during those hours. The crew have all the security measures in place. It’s made it interesting to look out at sea to see if any little boats approach near by. We did see the new Magestic passing by on its way to India. 

Temperatures are rising!! 35 today and an expected 45 for our day in Dubai tomorrow. Wowsers. The most interesting fact we have found is the temperatures of the oceans. We had no idea that they would be so warm. We have had sea temperatures of 28- 32 degrees often a couple of degrees warmer than the air temperature.

The high light for James today was performing with his fellow group of ukulele students. The vista lounge was packed with family and friends coming to support the two groups of ukele players and the princess pop choir. ​

​​​DUBAI

Biggest in the world seems to be the theme here. And as impressive as it may be’ it feels like a movie set and lacking character until you arrive in the old part of Dubai.

We had a fantastic private tour only 6 of us, which gave us the opportunity to cover a lot of ground. 

It’s hot and steamy and the first time I think most of the husbands were happy to go to a shopping mall. Ahhh the air conditioning was a welcome respite. 

It’s Ramadan here, again James and I have managed to arrive in A Moslem country when it’s been the holy month of Ramadan. You have to feel for the people not eating but, more distressing not drinking even water during sunrise to sunset. 

It’s our 7th anniversary today and it’s nice to have been ashore in a new place to remember it by.

Next stop Aqaba and Petra.

We may not have internet for a while so will post a little something when we next can.

We are sailing.

Finally the big day arrived and after a farewell breakfast with our friend Cathryn we were picked up by the shuttle bus and driven to Sydney’s OPT. The skies were clear and the rain predicted didn’t show up. This gave us a beautiful exit from Sydney harbour and the start of our big adventure was on.

We found our friends Paul and Michelle and the party began.

It’s been a blast. 

On sea days we’ve entertained ourselves with different events that the ship are running, lots of relaxing and some great shows at night. Not to forget the wonderful dinners at night.

MELBOURNE: Fearn picked the four of us up and we went into the cbd doing the tourist thing, caught up with Murray for a coffee and utilised the free tram around the city. A great day with great company and another clear day made it a great first stop for us.

FREMANTLE: James and I caught the train into Perth and had a walk around the very scenic waterfront before getting on a free bus loop of the cbd. We then caught a captain cook river cruise back to Fremantle where we walked and caught the 1 pm canon firing, which was used for helping the ships work out their longitude in days gone by.

Again we’ve lucked it with the weather and envisage a pretty sail away this evening.

JAMES: had his birthday onboard the other day and with a song and a cake from the wait staff to round out the day. We celebrated by donning silly captain hats and glasses and cruised the ship. What a hoot. 

April 2017

In the words of Billy Connolly that infamous Scottish teller of tales, ” Christ is that the time already”.

We can officially say our new life begins NEXT MONTH.

Wowsers, it’s been a frantic month to say the least.

I zipped over to New Zealand to see my parents, my brother and his family and caught up with several of my relatives at a lovely lunch ( thanks Aunty Colleen). I met up for dinner with old mates that had gone to school with my first husband and I had a great day out with our friends coming on the first world cruise with us next month. 

They get on in Auckland so will be on board welcoming us with cocktails in hand as we prepare for the sail away from the stunning Sydney harbour, ( well I hope they have those cocktails waiting).

Upon my return from NZ we went into full preparation mode, we moved out of the house that had been our home for the last 15 months into smaller accommodation allowing us to actively sell all or almost all our worldly goods and chattels as they say.

James was in charge of most of this and he did a grand job, people came from everywhere picking up chairs, tables, beds, dressing tables, filing cabinets,fridges, washing machine etc with such speed that we were vacuuming and mopping our way out the door in no time flat.

This is when it gets difficult. We are fortunate to have our own private storage space so knew we could keep some things that were either too emotional to let go of or would just be silly to spend money replacing them some time way way down the track. 

Surprisingly our five children living in Australia didn’t take that much off our hands as most of them already have enough of their own treasures.

I remember reading Lynne Martin who wrote ” Home Sweet Anywhere” talking about the stress of deciding what to sell, what to store and what to give away, how the moment you thought you had one room cleared out, it no sooner appeared full again. Lynne, I now really get it, and I remembered that chapter in your book as we were doing the same dance around our belongings, and I laughed out loud as I recalled your words.

Lynne’s book is a great read for anyone contemplating the life we are hoping for.

Also take a read of ” dancing in the fountain” by Karen McCann. A story of an American couple starting an expat life in retirement in Seville. It’s truly an awesome read and extremely funny. 

Another recent read is ” your keys, our home” by Debbie and Michael Campbell.

Debbie and Michael travel the world in their retirement using one Airbnb at a time. They have some great tips and stories too. Their blog is The senior nomads. 

Our idea is a little of each of these couples stories, and although we have initially planned quite a few of our destinations, this seems to have evolved through circumstances, chance and availablity with a little bit of  well while we’re there…..but we are hoping to be a little bit more relaxed about booking next stops till we have had enough of where we already are staying.

CLOTHING!!!!!

So normally we travel Carry on, and this is usually fine when we aren’t seeing the same people everyday for 104 days and we normally travel to warmer climates so a few warmer items have been sufficient, this first cruise will involve plenty of formal nights, off shore excursions of all varieties, some cooler weather and here’s the big thing….the luxury of not having to carry our luggage somewhere new every few days. 

James as a man has mastered the art of packing light by not needing more than a few pairs of footwear a couple of polo shirts, shorts, etc, you get the picture. I, on the other hand see this cruise as the last time I shall be able to indulge on a wardrobe of enough clothes and shoes to keep me out of the laundry for days if not weeks at a time. 

I’ll probably reassess this when I actually start packing and can’t fit that last number 15 “must have”pair of shoes in. 

Along with working out what we’ll take this trip I’ve been going over my list for when we leave again  from here in September, mindful that we will be packing extra light and I’ll want it all together and handy for the 11 day turn around we’ve allowed ourself.

We have packed a bag of medical supplies, toiletries and other items we feel would make our time on board more comfortable. 

This week saw us at the doctors getting vaccinated for all the different countries we may get to in the next five years or so before we may need any top ups. We almost needed to auction our house to pay for them all!!! but will be a great relief when we’re travelling to feel we have made some effort to stay safe and healthy.

We also have to get a property ready for an auction that won’t happen until we are onboard and sailing somewhere near Sri Lanka… Typical of us, always down to the wire and this time we’ll have to leave entrusting others to do their magic for us. 

The next few weeks will be spent cancelling all those subscriptions, utilities and insurances we no longer need for cars, motorbikes and furniture we don’t own anymore. We now start the round of dinners, lunches and catch ups with family and friends as we prepare to say goodbye for now.

Where we will be 2017/2018

 

Plans have begun in earnest and we have booked quite a lot since my last post.

This is a rundown on what we have to look forward to till the end of September 2018.

I will blog about each of these experiences as they happen, but in the meantime you can see where we hope to be.

May 20th till September 2nd 2017: world cruise onboard Sea Princess.

September 2nd till September 13th: Umina Beach caravan Park , in our lovely caravan of course.

September 13 till October 12th: Sanur, Bali, Indonesia.

October 12 th till October 25th: South Korea, visiting our family there.

October 25th till November 23rd: the Philippines.

November 23rd till November 29th: Hong Kong.

November 30th till December 20th: Germany.

December 20th till December 28th: Cosmos tour from Munich, Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Salzburg and back to Munich. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be in Budapest.

December 28th 2017 till January 8th 2018: London.

January 9th 2018 till January 14th Bangkok, Thailand

January 15th 2018  till January 28th New Zealand

January 28th 2018 till 24th February Australia 

February 24th till May 6th Cruise from Sydney to London 

May 6th till May 26th 2018: Mousehole, Cornwall.

May 26th till June 1st 2018: undecided at this time.

June 1st till July 21st 2018: Paris, France.

July 21st till September 1st 2018: Cavtat, Croatia.

The Beginning:an epiphany

For years we read of others whom had left jobs, retired early and started travelling the world, leaving no forwarding address.

We read their articles, their blogs, looked at all the pictures and starting dreaming.

In November 2014 James had an epiphany! What if we sell a few properties, which will pay down our loans and make it happen.

The reality was that it wouldn’t happen over night, but it would happen.

It wasn’t quite that simple. There  was a list of an order for things to happen and it meant quite a bit of renovating to do on several properties while we were still earning a wage. BUT!!! It was doable. Our goal….to both be retired in time for a world cruise starting May 2017.

Fast forward to January 2017..

Since that conversation in November 2014 we have been putting into reality all the necessities we had listed to make our dream of retiring early happen.

We sold our big family home and paid down the mortgages we held on 3 investment properties not in our Superannuation fund and downsized to living in one of those properties. This turned out to be a win/win situation for us, not only did we pay off a large chunk of debt, but we moved to an easy flat walk to our fabulous local beach and shopping district.

We embraced the new lifestyle by buying push bikes that we ride frequently and will be able to take with us in our caravan when we use that for accomodation when we are here in Australia.

Yes a caravan! This was another idea that became a reality as we discussed in what and where would we live when we wanted to spend time in Australia.

After considering all the alternatives, including Airbnb or keeping a smaller investment property empty for our use, we decided that a better idea would be to purchase a caravan that was comfortable enough to live in for extended periods of time and also have the ability to travel around Australia in it when we wanted to.

We looked for a long time at sites and caravan shows before purchasing a second hand caravan in August 2015.

We have used the time since then to make a few adjustments and get used to all the ins and outs  of setting up and packing for van living. We’ve also enjoyed a few nice trips away as well.

We are both feeling quite comfortable with that decision and look forward to seeing a lot more of this fabulous country Australia.

I, Jacqueline decided to retire earlier than James as I had been a Marriage celebrant for a dozen years and hadn’t had many weekends off regularly in that time.

I had a wonderful career as a celebrant and am thankful to have enjoyed a meaningful and positive experience in my working career. I have many treasured memories of my time as a celebrant and met the widest range of people possible and made some incredible friendships along the way.

My last Wedding was May 5th 2016 in the gorgeous Hunter Valley, NSW.

Having retired gave me the opportunity to travel long weekends in the caravan with James as we learned the ropes of caravan life so to speak.

Remember at the start I said it would mean some serious renovations to be done before we could leave to travel full time, well that is what else we have been doing in that time.

Several of the investment properties we had purchased were in need of major work and we have nearly accomplished the last of the list that we had set ourselves as most necessary. I can tell you it has been hard work but extremely rewarding as we look at the finished product and hand the keys to new tenants.

Downsizing your worldly goods is both daunting and cathartic. I truly believe we need less than we think and I have a saying ” we spend half our lives accumulating stuff!!, and the other half getting rid of it”.

Timing is important too, and we now have just over four months till we take off on that world cruise in May.

The cleanout has begun in earnest!!!! we are fortunate that we have our own private storage area that we can keep anything we really feel we can’t let go of without paying to have it stored. Saying that we intend to rid ourselves of all our furniture, white goods and electrical, plus most linen etc.

 

We have also continued to have a few lovely holidays in Australia and overseas as well.

In December 2014 we had a holiday in Bali for Christmas and New year and in 2015 we had a wonderful tour of Spain, Portugal and Morocco and a nice break in Thailand on the Way home.

I have had a trip to New Zealand to catch up with family and friends and we spent three weeks away in February 2016 in our caravan stopping at Port Stephens, Forster and South West Rocks all on the NSW North Coast. June 2016 we spent a wonderful time visiting my son and his wife and their son in Korea, and we enjoyed another break in Bali on the way home.

My eldest brother turned 60 in November 2016 and we celebrated with him on a three day cruise from Brisbane to no where and back. We found it so relaxing and enjoyed being off-line that when we came home we searched and found a fabulous deal for an eight night cruise down the NSW coast and around to Kangaroo Island off the Victoria Coast. This will be a great break from the preparations that seem to be constantly on our mind as that leave date gets ever closer.

We had also flown to Brisbane in the September to catch up with friends over from New Zealand whom will be joining us on our world cruise in May.

We booked a hire car and travelled to Mooloolaba for a few days staying in a lovely Airbnb duplex on the canals.

We have used Airbnb several times and intend to use them a lot more when we travel full time from after our world cruise.

This year we also tried using Airbnb having a private room not just having the whole property to ourselves. We want to get used to doing things out of our normal comfort zone as thats what travel is all about. If things were all the same as at home you wouldn’t bother going.

We were pleasantly surprised to find we enjoyed the experience and see it as a way to save money in some of the more expensive cities like New York were we could stay for 5-7 days in different boroughs for a longer period of time than if we we rented a whole apartment.

By the time we board The Sea Princess on May 20th 2017 we will have accomplished a lot more than what is stated here, and we will go with a sense of great relief that we have worked together to make the start of our dream “nomadic, vagabonding life” a reality. The cruise will be a reward for all the hard work and a slice of luxury we probably may not be able to afford again, as our long term travel will be on a strict budget. Hopefully we will find some great repositioning cruises or last minute bargains to act as a relaxing respite from doing all our own cooking and cleaning from time to time.