Not trying to be melodramatic but this 45-day trip will be
Our plan right now is to slow down to moving about every 3-4 weeks. My initial thought was to stop writing to this blog but I have gotten a number of comments asking me to continue. Some say they live vicariously through us and many might not ever get to the places still on our horizon.
Why the change, you might ask. Actually, it is a combination of factors. The first being I need to cut back on the cash burn rate. It has been averaging about $600 per day and for this, to last we need to adjust to a more reasonable $300 a day. With airfare, cruising and exotic tours taking up the bulk of our expenses they will all be cut to a minimum.
We are planning on one Windstar cruise per year and one Tour. We just signed up with a trip to Bali and Singapore with Marathon Tours next December. I thought I had done them all but this trip was just added and I jumped right on it. We have two weeks planned in the Caribbean on Windstar next February another 2 weeks around New Zealand the following year.
This Extravaganza started off in the Delta concourse F lounge with two folks, Sarah and Elayne, whom we met in Istanbul. Since then we have done 2 other trips with them, those being Africa and Queenstown. They were on their way to do a marathon in the Medoc region of France. Catherine and I did that trip back in 2015 and you can read about that wine-filled escaped here,
0ur flight was two hours behind theirs as we were to also meet up with Marathon Tours here in Santiago, Chile. We have actually been here before on our way to Easter Island. That trip was also back in 2015 and again we are with our all-time favorite tour coordinator, Jacqui. This is our eighth trip with her.
Not sure when we will see her next since we will be drastically cutting back on tours like these. Catherine is trying to get us to go to Russia but I have a hard time giving that country my money. I won’t digress, for once, on that subject. She lives in Boulder Colorado and there is a great race, Boulder to Boulder, during Memorial Day next year and she wants to come out to run it.
See how it works. People keep giving us suggestions of places to go and see and or run and before I know it the calendar is full of fun and exciting places to see. Baby steps on slowing down the pace of running all over the world is a better way to look at it.
Last time we flew in and right out the next day and you can read about that trip here. Back then it was the day after my middle son, Shawn’s wedding. This time around we arrived a day early and had some time to see the sights.
Unfortunately I did miss the birth of Shawn and Cassie’s firstborn but with today’s technology it almost felt like I was there. I always say you can’t do or see it all but Catherine and I have done our very best to try. As Catherine, said Lily Ann won’t know that we were not there and that brings me to reason number two.
As the Grands start to arrive and Cat’s grands’ get older and more fun to be around it is time to spend more time with them. My oldest, Aaron, will get married next February and I am sure babies are in their future as well. It sounds more practical to come by and stay for extended periods of time.
With Catherine’s family in the Louisville area, her daughter and grands in Bloomington and Shawn, Cassie and Lily Ann in Cincinnati it
Reason number three boils down to we have just about seen and done it all. I am not a big fan of going back to the same place year after year. We did do Napa to Sonoma race two years in a row and turns out Jaime, which we met there is also on this trip.
My Sister, Gwen, was to join us but work, for her, got in the way, hate when that happens. It is kind of funny. I am the youngest of the three but both my brother and sister still dabble in the work a day world. I am more like my mom who retired in her early 60’s and traveled the world, never working a day afterward. We have a few more places on our life list like Bali, Maldives, the Fiji Islands, and India.
We had a very nice three days in Santiago and one out of three the weather was perfect. We had a great day touring the nearby mountain, San Christibol Hill, and a Statue and Church. We went up by Cable Car and down by Vehicular train.
The next day the sun gods did not cooperate as we traveled to Valparaiso for a day tour of the coast and nearby quirky/funky town where artists use the walls and anything to express their talents. After a very nice lunch, we survived the traffic back to the city.
Useless information alert. Below is a picture of the tallest building, Gran Torre, in South America. Turns out they did a lousy job of planning as they can only sell 1/3 of the building due to lack of parking since the building is basically land locked.
On the way to the airport, we traveled under the river in an almost 4-mile tunnel. Since they were late to the table adding a subway system the ones they built are nearly 6 stories underground as to not disturb traffic and buildings above.
64 stories with a huge shopping mall
Needless to say traffic is horrendous in Santiago but mostly nonexistent in between Punta Arenas and our resort, Rio Serrano in Torres del Paine, Chile. The 5 hour trip in a 18 passenger van was no fun but that included a stop for lunch along the way. We have done much worst during our travels but it does make for a long day following the 3 hour flight from Santiago.
Most of the trip was during daylight hours with not a gas station, store or even a house for many miles. The last hour or so was in the mountains, at night on some very winding roads some paved and some not so much.
I am sure most have heard of the outdoor clothing wear and gear brand called, Patagonia.com. Well, we are here to do the Patagonia half marathon. Many brave folks are going to tackle the full with 18 true adventurous souls are doing what is known as the W circuit trek hike for 5 days after the race. Jaime likes to say running a marathon is not like an exam you can cram for. You have to put in the training/miles.
Since Catherine and I are begging out of that type of fun you can read all about it here. I hear it is breath taking but for me a couple of hours would be enough not 5 days. It turns out that the regular cabins for two evenings are closed so tents will be provided for those nights.
The excuse I have been giving is that Catherine and I need to be in Cape Town next week to run a 10K there. There are several people we recognize from other trips and a few that recognize us but I do not recall where. One lady by the name of Karla has done 6 trips with us in the past. The last one being Jerusalem, last March. As always you can read about that trip here.
Here is the list of the 30 trips we have done with Marathon Tours and Travel/Marathontours.com over the years.
Paris, France 4/2012
London, England 4/2012
Stockholm, Sweden 7/2012
Reykjavík, Iceland 8/2013
Hamilton, Bermuda 1/2014
Berlin, Germany 9/2-14, (Medoc), France 9/2015
Dublin Ireland 10/2015
Istanbul, Turkey 11/2015
Boston, Massachusetts 4/2016
Prague, Czech Republic 5/2016
Easter Island, Chile 6/2016
Napa to Sonoma, California 7/2016
Nairobi, Kenya 7/2016
Havana, Cuba 11/2016
King George Island, Antarctica 3/2017
Fianarantsoa, Madagascar 6/2017
Napa to Sonoma, California 7/2017
Petra, Jordan 8/2017
Queenstown, New Zealand 11/2017
Jerusalem, Israel 3/2018
Paro, Bhutan 5/2018
Bagan Temple, Myanmar 11/2018
Patagonia, Chile 9/2019
Cape Town, South Africa 9/2019
There are a multitude of activities here and we could not do them all and actually only did one. The afternoon trip to the west side of the Natural Park where we could see a glacier off in the distance. The views everywhere you turn are spectacular. Some activities included various hikes, rock climbing, kayaking, and horse back riding. Some folks even went skiing when we were back in Santiago.
The resort, which use to be a hostel, is over the top. The people working here are outstanding and they are comparable to the crews on Windstar cruise line. Food and drinks anytime you want on top of three square meals as a group.
Watching them cook lamb over an open pit was quite an experience. I must admit the constant temperatures in the forties during the day and high 20’s at night is something I have not adjusted to. One reason is that with our trip continuing on to Cape Town and the Seychelles Island along with Cruise clothes later this month and 50-pound bag restrictions I simply could not carry all that is required.
Mountains seem to change hour by hour
One of the things you might have noticed about me, so far, is that I like to keep track of everything. Numbers are my favorite. Maybe that is why I became a pilot even though I don’t remember doing so well with math in school.
No big deal, multiple layers worked pretty well but the thought of tent camping seems even less appealing. Catherine and I both have a bit of FOMA, Fear Of Missing Out along with a heavy dose of WCSADIA, We Can’t See And Do It All. We try our best and I tell people all the time, “We are not on vacation, this is our lifestyle.”
Countries where we have run a race
1 USA 2000-2019
2 Montreal, Canada 2006
3 Athens, Greece 2011
4 Paris and Medoc, France 2012/2015
5 London, England 2012
6 Stockholm, Netherlands 2012
7 Reyjakavic, Iceland 2013
8 Barcelona, Spain 2014
9 Berlin, Germany 2014
10 Tokyo, Japan 2015
11 Rome, Italy 2015
12 Beijing, China 2015
13 Copenhagen, Sweden 2015
14 Akers Rock, Australia 2015
15 Brussels, Belgium 2015
16 Dublin, Ireland 2015
17 Istanbul, Turkey 2015
18 Tele Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel 2016/2018
19 Mexico City, Mexico 2016
20 Prague, CR 2016
21 Easter Island and Patagonia Chile 2016/2019
22 Nairobi, Kenya 2016
23 Amsterdam, Netherlands 2016
24 Havana, Cuba 2016
25 King Georg Island, Antarctic 2017
26 Antananarivo, Madagascar 2017
27 Petra, Jordan 2017
28 Queenstown, New Zealand 2017
29 Limassol, Cyprus 2018
30 Geneva, Switzerland 2018
31 Paro, Bhutan 2018
32 Yangon, Myanmar 2018
33 Cairo, Egypt 2019
34 Cape Town, South Africa 2019
Well since we did come all this way to run a half marathon I guess I will go over how that went next. The marathon had an 11 am start and the half was an hour later. They also had a 10K. We were all driven out by vans to the different start areas. Each race basically came back to the resort all on the same roads.
That might look impressive but with 195 countries that have a marathon, we are a long way off from getting a race done in each. We even met two guys in Madagascar that have done a marathon in over 130 countries each. If I have not bored you to tears yet, you can read about that trip here.
We only had to wait about 30 minutes for each start and the toughest hills were between our start and the 10K start but we all had to tackle the 1K mountain near the finish. The good thing was that what goes up must come down so we all got to enjoy the ride back down the mountain.
The jog around the grassy area just prior to the finish as you tried to avoid horse crap and outright holes in the grass was not what I expected but I did manage to stay upright.
The finish line was well stocked with Lamb, hot dogs, pasta and very cold beers. Neither one of us placed in this race but I did manage to come in 5th in my age group. This was the ninth running of this race and Marathon Tours, 2nd time bringing participants. All told there nearly 100 of us with Marathon Tours from all over the world.
I basically walked up the hills and ran down them and my right knee was not very happy about that idea. Turns out, I found out, after all these years of running, that Advil works much better than Tylenol after the race especially since my major complaint is pain from inflammation. I will give it a try before a race next time. I usually listen to music or an audible book. I also track my pace with map my fitness but in this case, I just listen to my breath and footsteps while enjoying the scenery.
If you are a true adventurous type and don’t mind being a bit chilled the whole time there then this race is perfect for you. Turning on the shower to heat up the bathroom prior to using it in the morning is not my cup of tea but to each their own. Some folks wish they had one more day to explore the area further.
We thought the timing was perfect which gave us just enough time to enjoy their lovely Spa, pool, and massage. I hope I did not snore. Overall I was very pleased with this tour but it definitely is not one I would do again. Only because we usually don’t repeat races.
The ride back to the airport was very pleasant. Since it was all during the day we got to see great views of the nearby mountains. Also, it only took four hours since we did not need to stop for lunch, however, at the same restaurant, we did get a potty and coffee break.
From here we are back to Santiago for a night at the nearby Holiday Inn. No sense in fighting traffic two more times for an even shorter layover. Especially since we got a very long day ahead tomorrow for our three-leg trip to Cape Town. Morning departure and morning arrival, local time, the next day.
There we will once again meet up with Marathon Tours President, Jeff, who is with us here in Chili but is making a side stop back in Boston to switch out from winter to summer gear. That will be our 6th trip with him. The last one being Bhutan which you can read about here.
We will be getting the royal treatment in Cape Town since we will also be greeted by the founder of Marathon Tours, Thom. This year is their 40th year of being in business providing VIP service to runners and walkers all over the world. This will be our 5th trip with him.
Thom is coming in from the Medoc Marathon where Sarah and Elayne, who I mentioned earlier, were off to and I understand that is his favorite trip. Might have to do with the fact that he is a bit of a wine buff. I must admit that was one of the wildest trips I have ever taken with them. I refer you back to the link, earlier, on that race.
The 4 hour trip up and across South America to Sao Paulo Brazil, 4-hour layover, then across the South Atlantic Ocean and across Africa to Johannesburg for another 9 plus hours. Followed by a 90-minute layover and two-hour flight down to Cape Town went relatively well.
Business-class on South African Airways helped with the use of the lounges in both Sao Paulo and Johannesburg made the trip somewhat enjoyable. We also took sleeping pills for the overnight flight so after dinner and a movie we both got at least 5 hours of sleep.
I hope our rooms are ready so we can get a short nap and shower prior to the welcome reception at the Raddison Blu, waterfront hotel in Cape Town. The next day we hit the road touring, what I hear to be, a magnificent city.
I read an article today that you can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by 48 percent if you nap as little as 5 minutes a day twice a week. I will have to give that a try. I also try to meditate a couple of times a week so I wonder if that counts.
No luck with the room being ready so we hit the streets for a very nice 2-hour walk along and around the waterfront. There were a very nice mall and surrounding area. The weather was a tad chilly but we had enough layers to make it very comfortable.
The next day we met our guide for a day-long tour around Cape Town which included the famous Table Mountain, which was formed 300 million years ago. Another first was the 360-degree rotating cable car up and back down. The weather was perfect and we picked the best day for this sight. It was somewhat cloudy the other days we were here.
That evening Catherine and I had a very lovely dinner at the fantastic restaurant called Lily’s. I could not pass that up since it is the name of my granddaughter. Turns out I was able rarrange for her and proud mom and dad to visit us in Atlanta when we arrive back the middle of October.
We had another full day of touring down to the most southern point of the Peninsula, Cape of Good Hope. We made some stops along the way and hiked along a gorgeous trail to get there. After
The next day was race day and it was our first International 10K. I wasn’t supposed to start doing them until 70 but this was our third 10K this year and I really like that distance. The only other races here are a trail 22K run or the Marathon so we opted for this distance since I have a tendency to trip and fall on trail runs.
We have another half marathon planned in Oregon in two weeks and Catherine’s 48th Full Marathon State the following weekend and for me another half in New Hampshire. Maybe I can pull off just one more marathon when she completes all 50 states in May next year in Portland Maine.
The course for the 10K was perfect and as an added bonus we were able to see the start of the marathon and the first male finish. We started and finished adjacent to the sports arena and ran along Beach Street right next to the water. At the turnaround point we came up on to the sea wall path then back on to Beach Street to the finish.
We had a bit hairy start trying to get around the many walkers that were ahead of our coral E but that made it just more challenging. Our time was decent and my right knee cooperated fully so I was one happy man. For this race instead of taking walk breaks every quarter mile, we ran the entire race.
17 of us were off to Port Elizabeth for a three-day safari adventure. Unfortunately, we all split up at the airport there because the different lodges were miles apart. Catherine and I stayed at Eagles Crag at the Shamwari Private Game Reserve with another couple from our group. Up to this point in my life, I thought I had seen and done just about everything but this place takes the cake.
Speaking of which, they have the best Carrot Cake in the world. After a tour of the grounds, we were shown to our bungalow, which included a fully stocked bar, heated blankets, outdoor jacuzzi and both an indoor bathtub and indoor and outdoor showers. The entire complex is protected by electric fencing.
After a quick bite to eat we met up with head ranger, Minolan, who was both very entertaining and extremely informative. There was not a question he could not answer and had a very special sense of humor. You could tell he took great pride in his work and he can be followed on Instagram @indianranger. Another couple and their semi-professional, photographer, daughter joined us.
The evening game drive ended with being completely surrounded by a group of elephants. They were so close that I could have touched their outreached trunks that were taking a sniff of each of us. You quickly got the feeling that is used to being around humans.
Minolan helped to alleviate my recurring fear of wild animals by telling me that it would be bad for business for a client to be injured and to trust him like I would a pilot that he would not allow anything to happen to us. I could relate since just telling myself that they don’t eat jeeps was no longer working.
The next morning it was up and out for a 6 am game drive which was chilly and exciting at the same time. As we continued to mark off the list of all the wild animals everyone come to see they were basically everywhere. After breakfast we were back at it again with a stop by the Born Free foundation where injured animals are kept in their forever homes.
This evening ended with a drink break to end all drink breaks. We made our way to the top of a mountain for awe-inspiring sunset with an open bar including a bar tender and snacks. Four others from our Marathon Tours group met us there for a toast.
My plan for the next day was to skip the morning drive but they had already thought of that and had us start off with breakfast at 9 with the last game drive starting at 10 am. We were still in search of the elusive Leopard and the pride of Lions. Instead, we met up with the group of elephants at the local watering hole and that was a sight to behold.
We did manage to locate the Lion Pride on our way to the Wildlife rehabilitation center. Great work is being done to provide a pathway for injured animals back to the wild. They had both very sad and hopeful stories over the years. They had some very informative posters hung on their wall including a list of species and years they went extinct.
You also had to pass a full-size mirror to represent who is at fault. You could tell that the young lady that gave us the short tour was very passionate about her job. It was a rather depressing tour and I walked away with the feeling that we are fighting a losing battle especially when it comes to the Rhino and the poaching of their tusks.
The management at Shamwari, which translates to, friend, was not done when it came to the total wildlife experience. Our lunch consisted of a white table picnic under a huge tree on a deck. Complete with chef and waiter.
Catherine and I departed the next morning for The Seychelles Island of Mahe by way of Johannesburg. 90 percent of the population lives on Mahe. We will be staying at, of course, a branded Marriott called Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove. The Seychelles Islands are a group of 115 Islands located east of Africa and also northeast of Madagascar.
We were both in Madagascar in 2017 but I already told you that. I was joking with Catherine as we settled into our seats on what seemed to be a brand new Airbus A320 airplane with Air Seychelles about how many of these they might have. I thought 2 and I were right. The Airline also has 5 Twin Otter aircraft for their Island Hopping network. Many, onboard, I think, are connecting to their flight to Mumbai.
It will be nice to take a break for a week someplace tropical and especially not have to get up and tour, catch a flight or race every day as we have for the past 19 days. The weather forecast looks great and the warm temperatures should be delightful.
We took a very long walk the first two days and the second day we followed several roads up into the mountains. None of them connect so we had to come back down the way we went up. I hate it when that happens.
I might have been wrong on the folks connecting to Mumbai since this island is heavy populated by people from India. Creole is the native language here and everyone is so very friendly. We did manage to get in a run on the third day but with few sidewalks, we had to do two loops of beach and street to get in 4 miles.
Overall we had a very nice time in Seychelles the hotel staff continued to impress us and their theme-based buffet dinners were the best. I can of felt like I was on a Windstar Cruise ship. The staff rotated around from place to place and they had the main dining area for breakfast and dinner along with a specialty French restaurant for dinner.
They also had a separate bar type lounge for lunch and dinner along with the sunset bar to catch the perfect sunsets while sipping on your favorite cocktail. They had a wide variety of gins so I tried one called, Mom, which is infused with Strawberries. BTW that is one fruit I could not find while here.
I did wonder where most of the tourists were from since none looked like me or spoke English amongst themselves. They could all speak English to the staff at the hotel, however. Turns out most are from France and Germany. Back to all the folks from India turns out they are mainly here for work. Many do construction work and makeup about 1/4 the total population.
They can’t come to stay since when you arrive you have to show immigration your return ticket before they allow you to arrive. The same is true for some other parts of Africa. The hotel wasn’t very full and the price was right for our week stay.
When I originally booked the hotel it was about 1k more but on long stays, like this, I always keep checking to see if the price has dropped, which it had, about two weeks prior to us leaving the states. They also tossed in free breakfast every day, 20 percent discount for dinner and upgraded us to their best suite right on the water.
This time I won’t rub it in by showing you pictures of our place in paradise. The flowers were gorgeous and plentiful. I understand why since there was on an off-again drizzle most days we were there. I have an app called, picture this, where you can identify plants from all over the world. Below is an example of what it is able to do.
The regada will be held the weekend after we leave and they have a creole style festival for a whole week sometime in October. They also have a marathon in January which they say people from all over the world come to participate in. There is one major road the goes around the entire island so I guess they run on it since all other roads go up one way into the mountains or one other road that goes up and over the mountain back towards the airport.
I did learn the hard way that running on the beach is really bad for my knees and ankles. You see people running on the beach all the time but the slightly slanted nature of a beach and loose sand underneath my feet is not good for my age. No big deal since I bounce back pretty quickly.
Speaking of age I had a first in all my years of traveling the globe. I usually prebook the exit row unless it is on Delta where their economy comfort works for me and we usually get upgraded which is mo better. Some airlines make you pay more and then make sure that no one moves into a emergency row seat after takeoff.
Some airlines you can simply ask for it either at the ticket counter or at the gate no big deal however Air Seychelles came up with a completely ass backwards way to handle the emergency row seats.
On our way to Mahe, I had to leave the ticket counter and pay some other lady 35 dollars a seat and then come back with my receipt to get the seats. That took about 15 minutes since this can not be done on line or at the ticket counter.
What I did not know is that once the fasten seat belt sign goes off it is a free for all for the vacant seats and one was next to Catherine and I. I said something to the flight attendant since that person was not in an emergency exit seat prior to takeoff to hear the specified briefing.
I found that a bit strange also since I had paid for the extra legroom and she did not. On the way back is when my age came into question. I asked again if the seat was available and after a lot of talking in their native tongue amongst two agents plus a supervisor I was asked if I was willing to pay the 35 bucks apiece US for the seats, I said yes and our passport were given to the supervisor who then got on the phone to who knows who for an extended period of time.
The supervisor handed our passports back to our agent who in turn politely told me that I did not meet the age requirements. I joked about the fact that I was clearly over 18 and she replied that I am not saying you are not old enough. Not knowing there was an upper limit on age, I questioned her on what the problem could possibly be.
She explained that the age limit was 63 and at that moment I realized they had pulled that number out of their collective asses. I tested my theory later at the gate when I showed him their website information on emergency exit requirements and the lack of an upper age limit.
I can only think that they did not want to be bothered doing the extra paperwork involved with the extra fee especially when I was told to just change my seat after takeoff by both the ticket agent and gate agent. So I guess in their minds you are only too old if something happens on takeoff.
I was right since only 2 seats were purchased in advance out of the 12 seats available. One guy was clearly older than me and had never run a mile in his life.
Thinking ahead on, what if, I am unable to buy the seat at the counter since I could not even check-in online. I did manage to change seats a few days ago to the row just prior to the two exit rows. Once again it was a mad rush for the exit row seats as soon as the seat belt seat sign went off and we are now in flight isle to isle on this 5-hour flight back to Johannesburg.
After 3 hour layover, we are then on a two-hour flight to Cape Town where I was able to preselect the exit row on line. After one night on our own there we switch hotels and meet up with AMA waterways for a very exclusive cruise/tour. I will give more details later.
This is our 5th such cruise event with them with the last one last March called the tulip time. Before that, we did a similar cruise/tour of Vietnam and Cambodia, August of 2017. You can read about that event here.
Prior to that, we did 2 running cruises with Marathon Expeditions/runningcruise.com. We have done 8 trips with them and my favorite blog about them is the one called, how not to go overboard on a cruise ship.
Countries, etc we have visited, a few are from my pilot life at UPS
The number after each country signifies life expectancy
Namibia has the lowest at 52 with Japan the highest at 83 and the USA coming in at 78
1. King George Island, Antartica
2. Saint John’s, Antigua and Barbuda 73
3. Buenos Aires, Argentina 75
4. Oranjestad, Aruba 76
5. Sydney, Cairns, Ayers Rock, Australia 81
6. Vienna, Austria 80
7. Nassau, Bahamas 72
8. Bridgetown Barbados 77
9. Brussels, Belgium 80
10. Belize City, Belize 73
11. Hamilton Bermuda 80
12. Kasane, Botswana 54
13. Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Porto Alegre, Campinas, Bebedouro, Brazil 73
14. Tortola, British Virgin Islands 78
15. Paro, Punakha, Bhutan 68
16. Phnom Penh, Koh Chen, Oudong, Kampong Tralach, Kampong Chhnang, Prek Kramer, Siem Reap, Cambodia 63
17. Montreal, Toronto, Canada 81
18. Santiago, Patagonia, Ushuaia, Easter Island, Chile 78
19. Beijing, Hong Kong, Xian, Taipei-Taiwan, China 73
20. Bogota, Colombia 72
21. San Jose, Costa Rica 79
22. Rovinj, Split, Dubrovnik, Hvar, Croatia 76
23. Havana, Cuba 78
24. Limassol, Cyprus 78
25. Prague, Czech Republic 77
26. Copenhagen, Denmark 79
27. Roseau, Dominica 75
28. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 72
29. Quito, Ecuador 75
30. Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Edfu,Kim Ombo, Egypt 73
31. San Salvador, El Salvador 71
32. Helsinki, Finland 80
33. Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Arles, Avignon, French Polynesia, Nice, Medoc, Cannes, Sanary-Sur-Mer, Port Vendres, France 81
34. Cologne, Munich, Berlin, Germany 80
35. Athens, Gythion, Monemvasia, Katakolon, Nafplio, Santorini, Mykonos, Patmos, Crete, Greece 80
36. Guatemala City, Guatemala 70
37. Port-au-Prince, Haiti 58
38. San Pedro Sula, Honduras 72
39. Budapest, Hungary 73
40. Reykjavik, Vestmannaaeyjar/ Heimaey Island, Seydisfjordur, Akureyri, Isafjordur Grundarfjordur Iceland 81
41. Dublin, Galway, Ennis, Ireland 79
42. Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Gaza City, Israel 81
43. Rome, Venice, Senna, Florence, Luca, Pisa, Milan, Lake Como, Amalfi, Sicily, Sorrentno, Lipori, Giardini Naxos, Capri, Portofino, Portoferraio, Civitavecchia,Sardinia, Italy 82
44. Kingston, Jamaica 72
45. Tokyo, Kyoto, Japan 83
46. . Dead Sea, Petra, Amman, Jordan 80
47. Nairobi, Masai-Mara, Kenya 54
48. Antananarivo, Toliara, Morondava, Madagascar 65
49. Johor Baharu, Malaysia 74
50. Fort-de-France, Martinique, overseas department of France
51. Mexico City, Guadalajara, Playa del Carman, Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Loreto, Mexico 75
52. Monte Carlo, Monaco 80
53. Kotor, Montenegro 73
54. Casablanca, Tangier, Morocco 71
55. Yangon (Rangoon, ,Mandalay Bagan, Inle Lake, Myanmar (Burma), 66
56. Amsterdam, Oranjestad-Aruba,Curacao,Netherlands, 80
57. Auckland, Queenstown, New Zealand, 80
58. Chobe River, Namibia 52
59. Managua, Nicaragua 71
60. Oslo, Bergen, Sognefjord, Flam,Norway, 80
61. Panama City, Panama 75
62. Lima, Peru 72
63. Lisbon, Porto, Portugal 78
64. Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis 70
65. Singapore, Singapore 81
66. Bratislava, Slovakia 75
67. Cape Town, South Africa 54
68. Seoul, South Korea 80
69. Madrid, Malaga, Almeria, Cartagena, Ibiza, Tarragona, Barcelona,Spain 81
70. Stockholm, Sweden 81
71. Geneva, Switzerland 82
72. Mahe, Seychelles, 74
73. Bangkok, Thailand 69
74. Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago 69
75. Istanbul, Cappadocia, Kuşadası(Ephesus),Turkey 72
76. Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 77
77. Edinburgh, Scotland,London, Anguilla,Hamilton-Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Lerwick, Stornoway, Kirkwall, Invergordon United Kingdom 80
78. All of the United States 78
79. Vatican City, Vatican City
80. Ho Chi Minh City, (Saigon), Cai Be, Sa Dec, Tan Chau, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam 73
81. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, 54
Fun facts, we have visited more cities in Italy than any other.
Of course, they asked us to move back to our original seats and we were the only ones that complied and the Flight Attendants did not seem to care. Running all over the world is not for the faint of heart. That is actually the title of another blog entry that you can read about here.
Back in Cape Town, we met up with another group, this time, Wine enthusiasts for a Fifteen-day tour. We arrived a day early and stayed at a very nice AC branded Marriott Hotel. The next day we transferred to the AMA Waterways assigned hotel called Cape Grace Hotel and it was definitely a five-plus star hotel.
The location was right on the very vibrant waterfront. For those of us that arrived the evening before we had a tour of Robben Island included. All that I could say is that it was very depressing but at the same time a very informative experience.
I highly recommend this tour if ever in Cape Town. Be aware that it is a 30-45 minute ferry ride each way depending on the boat they are using for your tour and it can be very choppy.
We had an extremely elegant welcome reception that evening and I could tell right away I was going to like this portion of this 45 day trip. It was very interesting how we got on this trip. I will give you those details a bit later. Below is the itinerary.
The next day it was back down to the Cape of Good Hope and a visit of the African Penguins but this time an outrageous lunch was included at The Harbor house restaurant. Needless to say, dinner was not necessary after that wine and dine filled meal. Every now and then the waves crashed up against our huge glass windows while we were eating.
If that was not enough we made a stop at a fabulous winery called Constantia Glenn. The views were somewhat better than the wines but the taste is in the tongue of the beholder.
The place was full of 20-30 somethings. This winery was located on the other side of Table Mountain. I hear they have a magnificent botanical garden close by but that was one sight that we could not manage to squeeze in.
The plan was to meet up early the next day, to first do the cable car tour of Table Mountain and then on to Glenelly Estate Winery in the Ida’s Valley. With the weather looking windy and rainy Catherine and I opted out and slept in. After a nice long shower and leisurely breakfast we met up with the group for a 11am wine tasting via Uber. Turns out the cable car to the top was closed due to high winds and we saw the view from the top last time we were here, two weeks prior.
They had one red blend called Lady May that I really enjoyed. However since Catherine is a Prosecco snob more for me. From there we moved on to another over the top lunch. The restaurant/winery called Longridge where they started us off with a very nice Rose Brut Champagne for a welcoming toast.
Below is a picture of what they severed, however, I do not have the list of the wines they were paired with. Once again dinner was not required since we finished up this feast at 3:30. From there is was an hour bus ride back to the hotel where most of us napped along the way.
The next morning we were up and out at 5 am for our flight to Johannesburg and on to Kasane, Botswana. Unfortunately, I noticed that our first bag was only tagged to Johannesburg after he printed off the tag for the second bag. The agent said he did not see the other reservation for our flight on to Kasane but when I brought it to his attention he was then able to find the connecting flight and promised that the first bag would be retagged.
Back to how we ended up on this trip. As I plan our trips I first find something, usually a race, that we want to do. In this case, it was Cape Town 10 K and Patagonia half marathon. About two years ago we did another AMA Waterways tour of Vietnam and Cambodia and on board was the President, Rudy and the Executive VP, his wife Kristin.
Once a year they take a trip, on one of their cruises and just so happen it was the one we were on. During that trip we talked about the fact that we are runners and wanted to run a race in Cape Town one day. They told us about this tour and gave me the contact to call and to mention their names.
We did as suggested however the dates we needed to tour was sold to a travel agency that specialized in wine tours. I mentioned Rudy and Kristin’s names and were told that they would see what they could do since the ship only holds 28 passengers. I did get a call back from the travel agency and after triple checking the dates I put a deposit down for this trip.
There were a lot of moving pieces to putting this all together but we are now 30 days in and so far so good. The only problem is that we are now entering Malaria areas so the meds to prevent has now begun. I will let you know later how that all works out.
Our bag did arrive so we are all good but then the strangest border crossing was around the corner. We all got in jeeps from the airport and after a ten drive-minute drive, we pulled into a building along side the Chobe River where we then got out passports stamped for us now leaving the country that we just arrived in.
We then got into tender boats and went down the Chobe River to another building for our passport stamps for our arrival into Namibia which turns out to be our 80th country visited. Back in the tender boats where we pulled along-side the Zambezi Queen our home for the next four days. By now it was 3pm where we had a welcome drink, safety briefs and lunch.
That evening we were given some information about the ship from Captain John and a presentation on the area followed by dinner including endless wine, beer or local spirits. We get to sleep in tomorrow for a 10 am Safari by tender boat, another first.
I must say that safari by tender boat is a very interesting concept. All animals have to drink water so to the river they go. However some stayed in the bush due to high winds thus not as easy for predators to locate them.
So far we did not see many new animals but a wide variety of birds were identified on this trip. There are crocodiles everywhere and they tell you if you fall in the water to not yell but swim to the closest bank as fast as you can. If you have a life jacket on to blow the whistle since they have not evolved to the point that they understand that is the signal for person overboard. Give them a few more years to figure that one out.
Why did the elephant cross the Chobe River
Because the grass was greener on the other side
There 130K elephants located in this area and that is more than anywhere else in the world.
Once back in the cruise ship we go up and down the river and back to our original mooring spot since the water level is too low to use the other one. We usually get back in time for some spectacular sunset
The next day was the more traditional safari by Jeep of the Chobe National Forest. It is the second-largest national park in Botswana. Here we got up close and personal with both Lions and Lioness. One was taking a nibble on a nearby elephant. I was able to get a few pictures of some native birds. A trick I learned is to take a video then go back and freeze frame the shot you want with screen shot, then you can edit the picture.
In the you can’t make this Shit up department we were having our lunch in a picnic area and near the end a few monkeys showed up to share in our lunch. One climbed down from the tree got in one of the jeeps and swiped an apple. Shortly after that a lady walked away from the group to take a picture of all of us with her iPad. She was carrying an apple and in order to take the picture she put the apple in her mouth. I thought to myself this is not going to end well and within seconds a monkey jumped up and took it right out of her mouth without even touching her.
She came back to her husband in tears and he just looked at her and chuckled.
I guess I should have said something but no harm no foul.
Turns out this ship unlike other AMA Waterways cruises is not actually owned by them. The ship is owned by a company called Mantis. They and other companies charter the Zambezi Queen with AMA being their best client. Cruises in this area run from March to November with them changing back and forth from one company to the next every 4 days.
Another unique aspect of this cruise line is the fact that most of the crew does not stay on board at night. They use tender boats to transfer them back and forth to their tented homes nearby. Last but not least is the fact that when they moor they run a power line in the water to a offshore generator that provides electricity to the entire ship. This is a very nice vessel but unfortunately they are having s few maintenance problems they are currently trying to work thru.
No big deal when you think about where we are. Parts for this ship can’t be easy to come by and nobody seems to mind. Amazing what endless wine, beer and spirits will do to help one get over the small inconveniences of life.
The internet is not and will not work for the four days we will be able aboard and that has been a bit hard to get use to. Especially in today’s environment where things are changing minute by minute. However phone communication is clear as a bell.
Tomorrow we go visit a nearby village to see how they handle this environment from day to day. We will also get the opportunity to donate money or clothes to the locals. Looking forward to dropping off some race T-shirts I no longer need.
Eat an elephant on bite at a time
The folks there learn English right away in the nearby school and have to go through a 6 month training program before they are able to work on the ship. In this village there were three families for a total of 90 people.
It was about what I expected and Catherine joined for some traditional tribal dancing. The folks that work on this boat belong to the Kasenu tribe that reside there. They work one week on and one week off. Glad to hear they did not have to make the
700 year old Baobab tree off the top of my head
We finished off the evening with a very flavorful traditional African dinner with singing and dancing. They gave us a brief history of their tribe and we all stood while they sang their national anthem. Our resident wine expert, Paul, managed to get them to pull out the good wines. I enjoyed the Pinotage Catherine was partial to the Rose Champagne.
Tomorrow we move on to the infamous Victoria Falls. I don’t have my expectations too high since they are still experiencing a drought in this part of the world. I am just hoping it is not a crack of dawn departure.
Our morning was spent doing the customs 4 step. Tender boat from the ship to get our passports stamped as we leave Namibia. Tender boat further down the river to get our passports stamped again entering Botswana. Short bus ride to get them stamped as we leave Botswana. Another short bus ride to enter Zimbabwe.
Lucky for us our very talented tour guide, Delia, got our Visas while we at the village yesterday so we did not even have to get out of the bus. The last leg for the day was a hour bus ride on to Victoria Falls. This all started at a very reasonable hour of 9 am.
After checking into the very impressive Victoria Falls Hotel we all met for a steam engine ride to the iconic bridge for a sunset viewing point of the hotel and the surrounding area. The train was built in 1905 and the over 7000-mile track runs from Cairo to Cape Town. Back then the hoped to lay 1/2 to 1 mile of track each and everyday.
Catherine and I enjoyed the climb in and out of the engine and a toast on the front of the engine. The sunset was somewhat impressive but the tapas and wine-filled ride from and to the hotel made my day.
Turns out there is a baboon filled trail from the bridge back to the hotel along the Zambezi River. We considered it for a run the next day but being attack by those mischievous animals is not my idea of having fun. We did get some really cool pictures on this excursion.
The next day was the real reason we were here and that is to see the Famous Victoria Falls, a natural 7 wonder of the world. Turns out Catherine and I only have one more to see. That is the Taj Mahal and that is being scheduled for December of next year. I thought we were to be slowing down.
I had a few thoughts about the Falls themselves. Will they still be here in 20 years and I am glad I did not come during the high season. There are 17 viewing points but because of the low water level only to 14 were actually open.
Even with the water being low there was a lot of mist in the air and I understand that that mist can be so bad that it is actually hard to see the falls themselves. I got some pretty good pictures and glad we came all this way to see them. It is strange to think about all the money being spent just to see water run over volcanic rock.
Instead of waiting for everyone to buy their trinkets to take back home we went for an extremely hot run. It was well needed since it had been over a week since we had run or walked any real distance. I always say to get the same level of fitness in the heat you do not have to run as far or as fast as when it is cooler.
To complete the day we went on a sunset cruise along the Zambezi river where we had a historian give us a 30-minute talk about the Falls in general and the discoverer David Livingston, ie “Doctor Livingston I presume.” From there back to the hotel for yet another African themed dinner including local dancers.
There were two things I did not like about the falls area. The first was the fact that all the money that flows into the area by tourists does not seem to make a dent in the level of poverty of the locals. Their local currency is a worthless bond note which many sell to tourists like they would any other trinket.
The second is the continuous sound of helicopters overhead. I felt like I was on the set of mash. All these helicopters were for folks to see the falls from above and the price they were charging was simply outrageous. By contrast, the locals were lined around the block at the two local gas stations to get their allocation of gas.
Well, the following happens from time to time but for the last few days, I have been experiencing writer’s block. I have decided the best way to break through it was to write about the possible cause. First I need to go back a bit to recap how this trip came to being.
This is not the longest trip we have taken over the 5 years but it is by far the most expensive if calculated as total cost. The cruise around Iceland was the most expensive as far as per day per person. This is the 4th longest and it was my intention for this to be the grand finale and no expense was spared. Over the 45 days we have taken 18 flight legs plus numerous bus and van rides.
- ATL- Santiago, Chile
- Santiago-Sau Paulo
- Sau Paulo-Johannesburg
- Johannesburg-Cape Town
- Cape Town- Port Elizabeth
- Port Elizabeth-Johannesburg
- Johannesburg-Cape Town
- Cape Town-Johannesburg
- Johannesburg-Kasane, Botswana
- Victoria Falls-Johannesburg
- Johannesburg-Kruger Natural Park
I often joke that I fly more now as a passenger than I did as a pilot at UPS. I did fly way more at my early commuter days. I still remember sleeping in my uniform or in the airplane at night waiting the four hours for them to process the canceled checks I brought in from cities in the Carolinas.
I was asked the other day, by a dear friend, Kayna, how much time I think we spend in airports and on airplanes. Doing a rough calculation of an average of 5 hours each time we move about some 485 times. That gives you 2400 hours or equivalent to 100 days which about 5% of our total time as Nomads. Also we will both reach Million Mile status with Delta next year.
We mostly flew at least Business Class and just about all the hotels are 5 stars. Some had amenities that I had not experienced before. All African toilets have air fresheners as an example.
Most also are going to refillable large bottles for their shampoo etc. indoor and outdoor showers and one had an electric blanket that was turned on during their turn-down service.
Because of those facts our experiences have been very luxurious and some purely over the top. I am sure many live in this lap of luxury on a daily basis but for me, this was quite unusual. Now comes the stark contrast when we landed back in Johannesburg.
We stayed at the Fairlawn Boutique and Spa and was located in what they referred to as their Beverly Hills section of Johannesburg. Not far from where Nelson Mandela lived later in life and of course the group of 25 of us were picked up in a very nice bus greeted with cools towels and mints.
All the homes and businesses have very tall fences around them including another 2 feet of electrified fencing on top. That is because somewhere between 30 to 40 percent of the population is unemployed. Along the roads, there are men sitting around hoping for someone to stop and pick them up for day work.
It blows my mind with all the gold and other precious minerals found here over the years to see such inadequacies. From the hotel, we made it to where Nelson Mandela lived most of his life as a free man. We took a short tour and a brief history of that home.
This was located in the Soweto section of Johannesburg. It is still mostly segregated and hard to believe since Apartheid was ended over 25 years ago. We moved on to an area that I decided not to capture with pictures. The are is called Kliptown and we did visit their youth program.
They say this level of poverty has shrunk in terms of total people affected, over time, but to know that 20 families in the area share one of the port-a-potties lined up on the street. I rarely use those at race sites and to think this is how they live day in and day out. Let alone the local water spig
The youth program is a beacon of hope and has a very success rate. Here is some more information on their program and how to donate, if so inclined. Overall it was a very heartbreaking experience. If that was not bad enough after lunch we made a visit to the Apartheid Museum.
If I was not depressed enough the Museum was the tipping point. I would even say I was flummoxed by all the sounds and sights while there. They gave us 2 hours to go through the entire museum but I could only handle the experience for only 90 minutes. I am unsure of what was the most shocking aspect of Apartheid.
Interestingly enough is the fact that you can not take any pictures while there. I have to wonder why. It is not an unheard of policy but
The next day the group flew on to the Hoedspruit airport, which services Kruger National Park. Since most Private Game reserves are only capable of housing 16-20 people at a time our group of 25 went to two different game reserves. We plus 8 others stayed at Makanyi, which we were told was the the number 2 game reserve at the park.
Our Lodge used to be a private residence and converted into a public lodge 4 years ago. This was not our first rodeo and by all accounts somewhere around our 8th such experience. I will just say that even though this place was great it was not our favorite. Everyone else in our group thought this place was the best they had ever experienced but at the same, this was their first time living amongst wild animals.
It is surprising to see the differences and at the same time the similarities. While we were out tracking a lioness pride we had our trackers go alone on foot without any weapons. Our Rangers did not seem concerned but as the sun was going down I thought it was simply crazy. Our rangers in Shamwari were armed and I am pretty sure these animals don’t differ much by location.
After 3 nights there, we flew back to Johannesburg. Many had night flights back home. We elected to get a day room at a nearby Marriott branded hotel whereas other hung out at the airport. Very understandable since they were missing their comfy chairs back home or had to go back to work whereas where we lay our head is our home.
Our evening flight was to one of our favorite overseas locations, Amsterdam. I often say you can buy anything there and the Renaissance Hotel near Central Station is in a prime location. Catherine needed some Aveda Products, CBD soft gel tablets, CBD lotion whereas I needed a new pair of jeans. The only place where I can get jeans in my size in multiple styles.
We finished up this 45 day extravaganza with a three night stay in Amsterdam. Waiting for us back in Atlanta was my first grandchild, Lily. We flew her and my middle son, Shawn and daughter-in law, Cassie to ATL since we won’t be in their area until after Thanksgiving. My daughter, Mariah, drove up from Athens and we had a great visit.
I must admit this trip had more moving pieces than any other trip Catherine and I have been on. Surprisingly enough it went off without a hitch. There were times when we opted out of a morning Safari or two. We are not on vacation/holiday this is our lifestyle. We did manage to get in a few runs so hopefully, we are ready for a very hilly 1/2 marathon this weekend.
Catherine has a full marathon the following weekend, her state number 48. Catherine’s, sister, Teri is going to run it with her. I will be their support team. I think I have one more marathon in me and the plan now is for her to finish up in May with a race in Rhode Island and two weeks later in Portland Maine.
Turns out we did not have any complications from the anti-malaria meds and funny thing I got bit only once the last day in Africa. A little known fact is that most bars, in the area, have a wide range of the Gins. The reason being that some don’t take the meds but just drink Gin a lot for the quinine.
Since this trip is now in the books I now need to circle back around to the title of this blog entry. I gave several reasons as to why we need to slow down and some might think that one would be because of Catherine’s battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Some might think that our lifestyle is contrary to prudent thoughts on how best to handle this disease. That those affected should have a routine in their lives. What we have done over the last five years is counter intuitive. I have explained many times in the past that memories of running all over the world goes into long term memory.
Right now that part of her memory is not effected so when she can’t remember where the bathroom is in the hotel room instead of getting frustrated she can relish in something exciting she did or saw earlier that day. Because of that, we will probably keep bopping around the world until we simply can’t do it anymore.
Another benefit is our level of exercise. Enough can not be said about the benefit of exercise. Sleep is also very important. Even though we do bounce around in different time zones, regular exercise helps with the ability to fall asleep no matter where we are in the world.
Being on many tours and interacting with various people as we move about forces us to socialize, which is a very good thing. Sitting around starting at each other is not good for any relationship and especially for those with ALZ or their care givers.
So to answer the question of the title is two-fold. We will slow down but will keep going and not establish roots anywhere. Since our lives will not be as exciting as in the past I probably will not be writing to this blog as often either. I will spend the extra time to work on my book.
First I will have to work on a title so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. The book would be both about our lifestyle but also about our ongoing health issues and how they influence each other. We have learned that life should not be taken for granted and it is too damn short.
I hope you enjoyed this very lengthy blow by blow on our last 45 days and look forward to your comments. I do not suggest a lifestyle such as ours but hope it has shown everyone to go with what works with you and your loved ones. Whatever that might be.