During 2012 we travelled around the world enjoying the US (which we love) and then sailing to Europe (which we also love). We sent some emails home during our trip and our friends enjoyed them so much they said we should publish them.
Having just mastered the art of ‘blogging’, we are proud to share our ‘diaries’ with you.
Our love to our dear American friends whose sense of humour is second to none and of course to our dear European ‘family’ – you know who you are!
Enjoy – as much as we did hopefully!
Hi all – Day 7,
Satellite communications are back on the ship periodically so we are taking the 4min window to send this. We have sailed from Miami and are now heading over to Europe.
Time so far has been great and really enjoying the sea time. We have learnt a few things on the voyage though:
- Coffee is actually pronounced ‘corrfee’ as they do in New York.
- Bacon must be cooked to resemble and taste like aluminum siding.
- Outside of the USA no other countries exist – or if they do, they don’t matter.
- Always start a conversation with “Let me tell you about me” or “Let me tell you something…”.
- In addition, we have both lost considerable weight due to our strict exercise regime. Each day we walk 5kms from one restaurant to another in search of food. Sadly, we always found it.
- Got photos to send when we can including us with the Captain, us taken by the Captain and the Captain – taken by the Captain.
Hope all is well and that your having a shocking time and missing us terribly.
Warmest wishes from the Atlantic.
Robert and Sally
aka. Masters of the Seas
PS. If you are at sea ever don’t be fooled by a meeting called ‘Friends of Dorothy’ – they do not really know anyone named ‘Dorothy’ and when you ask how she is you get some really strange looks!!!
Sent from my iPhone.
Day 10 – Tenerife
Population around 250K – density about 250K to a square mile. Beautiful island, bigger than we thought and Sally managed to find the only shopping mall tucked away in the back blocks.
And damn hot too! But we managed to get a ‘hop on – hop off’ bus around town and had a great day. Sailed out around 1500hrs and now heading for the Straits of Gibraltar.
Will keep the mails coming as we can but still having satellite issues. We get a 4 minute window every day – we just need to guess when it is!
Love to all.
Robert and Sally
Subject: Spain – Day 13
Well, we have just finished plundering Spain for the 4th time in their history. We have been to Palma De Mallorca and today in Barcelona. Both incredible and beautiful places and we could easily live there – Spain is also keen for us to live there as word of our economic investments in each place we visit spreads around the Mediterranean. Highlights so far:
– The chef on board the ship cooked a steak the other night that was so rare a medium qualified Vet would have had a good chance of reviving it! Never order meat ‘medium rare’.
– The Spaniards seem to have a dislike for the Americans. The Americans dislike the Italians but it seems they all unite in hating the French. Ship politics can be hard to keep up with.
– In Barcelona we saw a church that was literally built by a man who was insane. One look at this extraordinary building confirms it. We have pictures and will send them on shortly – the building was commenced in 1890 and still isn’t finished.
Robert and Sally
On 15/05/2012, at 7:17:
Bonjour no all,
Arrived in Villefrance this morning and spent the day touring – and what a day.
– Drove around the Grand Prix circuit at Monaco (the race is on this week!). Saw the Royal Viewing box for the race.
– Had lunch on the waterfront at Villefrance – beautiful little seaside French village.
– Saw the house that Bill Gates is trying to buy in Villefrance – it costs $550m Euros!!!
– Land in Monaco costs on average $55,000 Euros – per square foot! (we put an offer in for a two foot block which we plan to build on later).
– Monaco can be closed down and secured in around 0.40 secs. Such is the security. The good news is that I was able to bring that down to 0.39 by tweaking the CCTV system!!! Monaco is humming along thank you very much.
– There are only 40 people in Monaco’s jail – and all of them are bankers! They have single rooms, each with a sea view, TV, gym, pool – in fact they have everything but the Internet and the keys.
– Sally has been on a pilgrimage to send you lot postcards since we got aboard. Sadly, the ship has given her heartburn by coming up with every excuse not to let her. As you can imagine, she is currently doing surveillance as I write on the staff who have displeased her – and that’s a whole other story.
Hope all is well with everyone.
Sally and Robert
It’s Friday night here in Rome and we have been here for 2 days. It seems more like two months. We have walked around 2,789 kms so far seeing the sites within a 1.8 km radius of where we are staying. So of the things we have learned so far:
- The accommodation we are staying at is simply opulent. It is old style Rome with all the modern facilities. The apartment has a beautiful lounge, huge bedroom and everything you could want. The staff are wonderful and are patient with our language skills. The ‘washing machine’ isn’t quite what we thought – whatever you do if you travel here do not put you’re washing into what they call the ‘bidet’ and certainly do not add detergent to soak it. The soap suds take hours to subside and you’re washing isn’t quite the same.
- There can be some confusion with the accommodation and the room cleaning brought about by language problems. On the second day our room wasn’t serviced but through our strong command and understanding of the Italian language, we’ve agreed that they will clean the room every second day and Robert will clean the remaining rooms in the villa every other day. The staff seem happy with the arrangement.
- The Vatican Tour is amazing – we suggest that if you are planning to take it when you travel here, make sure you are under 30 years of age, in prime physical and mental condition and have been doing intense physical conditioning for the past 8 months in preparation. We took the tour today with around 65, 000 of our close, new friends here. Our tour guide, Guido, was interested in telling us about………….well, Guido, rather than anything else. He has had a rather unsettling interest in the Vatican Tapestries. Guido walked at a steady 23kms per hour pace – whether the space was full of people or not. While at this pace, Guido showed us the St. Peters Basilica, the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and of course, Guido’s view of the world. “Listen to me” and “Look at me” were familiar terms by the end of the tour. And speaking of the end of the tour, we lost Guido in the Vatican somewhere. Amongst the tapestries and millions of people, Guido and us parted company. It is 11.30pm here as we write this and we suspect that somewhere still in the Vatican is Guido and the rest of the tour.
- It is enjoyable to sit outside the cafe around the corner from where we are staying to have a coffee (Italian style) and watch the chaotic, prime time traffic – at 10.00pm at night! The traffic never stops, the people seem to never go home (they probably can’t find it) and it is forever busy here. The city is alive 24/7 – which is more than we can say for us at the moment. After the Vatican tour, we just made it back to apartment before we both collapsed for the afternoon siesta. Generally, it is not uncommon to close down around 1.00pm and start again at 4.00pm after a small rest. From our perspective, this would be a sound inclusion into the next enterprise agreement for the staff at work. It obviously now has our support.
- Do not consider driving in Rome. The cars travel at 87 km per hour, even when they are reverse parking. They drive around 7 mm away from the car in front, the car at the side and the car behind them. Roads are designed here so that rules, as we know them, can be ignored. You want to get somewhere – you simply get in the car, drive off (it automatically goes at 87 km per hour) and drive there. You may however drive on any side of the road you like, you can only hit 6 pedestrians per day (more than that is frowned upon) and any slight dints or abrasions to other cars isn’t a problem for anyone. Park the car where you wish – double and triple parking are encouraged and if you can park your car within the foyer of a shop, all the better.
- Email is now easier here – obviously thanks to the Romans.
- So far, due to the hectic schedule we designed for ourselves, we have managed to collect the following: a torn calf muscle, a bruised shoulder blade, heat rash and heat exhaustion, sunburnt head, strained ankles (both simultaneously straining at the same time I might add!!), and feet that look like 4 kg blocks of slightly roasted minced meat. Oh, and Sally broke a finger-nail. From the airport when we arrive home we will both be going to Intensive Care for a short stay while we heal and mend.
- Sally’s back has been giving her some gip since we left. She has tried acupuncture, a deep muscle massage, pain relief, power shopping and showering her back with Holy Water. Today we go back to the Vatican to have her back Blessed – hopefully that will help.
- Shopping is terrific – and especially if you are looking for leather goods. I purchased a pair of leather chaps with the rear end cut out and they were wonderful – in fact, as I wear them around the streets here I get a lot of looks from people probably wondering where I got such nice leather goods. Sally has shifted the economic balance from the far eastern side of Europe to Rome now – bags and shoes are taking the place of chairs and tables in the apartment here.
- News drifting in is Guido has now been seen running Riot near the Vatican. Riot, in case you didn’t know, is a small bar near St. Peters frequented by unsavoury types whose apparent hobbies include forging Vatican Tapestries.
- With any luck, and if the deportation orders are still in effect, we will be leaving here next Tuesday heading towards home after a brief, but no doubt dramatic, entrance into Hong Kong for 12 hours.
Ci vediamo dopo and Stammi Bene,
Robert and Sally (…………you may remember us?).
On Saturday we walked………….and walked……and walked. We were to meet some friends for lunch at the Pantheon (as you do) and while waiting we decided to break from the usual day and do some shopping. After floating the local economy again, we headed back to the Pantheon – or so we thought. Our friends were caught up playing out their own drama with a tour guide so couldn’t make it.
- Deciding to go for a short walk, we ended up in the northern end of what seemed like Europe – but was still in fact Rome (we were reliably informed by concerned locals that we hadn’t crossed four country borders, much to our insistence that we must have). Overall,, it took us just over 4 hours to find our way back to the apartment – which was at the most around 2km away. Locals will tell you that everything is “10 minutes only” – and it probably is if you head in the right direction.
- Strangely in our quest for finding our way home, we again found ourselves at the Vatican. It was deemed to be a sign (by us) that intervention was near. It was of course – taking the form of a quick ‘power shop’ while totally lost but deciding never to waste an opportunity when it presents itself.
- Our combined language skills were at their peak for lunch. Sally ordered a ‘hamburger with fries’ and after careful consideration of the Italian dialect, she received a small plate of lettuce, 7 chips and what appeared to be a cow pattie. We thanked the waiter (in Portugese we think) and continued trying to get home. As we criss-crossed Rome, we saw the Pantheon twice, the Piazza Navona four times and the Vatican (again).
- Tomorrow is the Colosseo, Foro Romano, Palatino, Monte Celio and all things Roman.
It’s now Sunday – More walking
Okay, so today we saw the ancient ruins of Rome. Very impressive. It is hard to imagine just what wealth and opulence existed around those times – and the engineering required to build such monuments. What we learned today:
- The Vatican has it all sewn up really. The magnificent churches, places of worship and other buildings are simply breathtaking.
- The apartment washing machine, or rather ‘bidet’, should not be straddled from the front but rather sat upon. Straddling from the front will cause some extreme discomfort, considerable injuries to areas we won’t mention and some embarrassment when you need to call the front desk to retrieve you from it. Suggested medication for such an oversight includes serious pain medication, strategically placed bandages and a good lay down.
- Do not order restaurant food if your language skills are not up to par. Our combined Italian skills in ordering a restaurant dinner resulted again in a pizza with seafood (consisting mainly of fish heads), a bowl of spinach and some olive oil. The olive oil here is multi-purpose. It is used for dipping in your bread, sprinkling over your lettuce, combing through your hair for that mediterranean look, acne, sore muscles and aches and also for polishing that car that has so many dents in it.
- Everything is only 10 minutes away – no matter where you are.
- Guido is still missing and hasn’t been seen since the early hours of Saturday. He has apparently gone rogue somewhere in Rome.
- Lunching at the Pantheon can be an expensive proposition. For a mere $78 Euro you can enjoy a coke cola, a piece of bread and the general banter with the waiter. Around the corner, $78 Euro will buy you lunch, a new suit, a small automobile and a dog.
- Sally has her first reasonable meal tonight at a local eatery after three days of ordering fish heads, spinach and ice-cream. Although the meal still left a lot to be desired, it was nevertheless enough to get her through until tomorrow when we plan to have cream cakes for breakfast.
- Breakfast for the locals is different. In our attempt to integrate, we have been having a breakfast of olives, small pickled onions, salami, cheese and the hardest bread known to man. We know now, on our second last day, that the locals enjoy cream cakes, pastries – and bacon and eggs from around the corner.
- We have decided to put in a bid on small villa here such is our liking for the place. We are awaiting a response from the owners and we hope to here before we leave. See attached photo. It’s a little fixer but should be manageable.
Ci vediamo dopo and Stammi Bene,
Robert and Sally
Our last day in Roma. At present it is 12.30pm on Monday and we have started to pack for the trip back home. After a hearty breakfast of olives and something resembling spam, we have packed most of the bags. Some things we discovered today:
- The weight for bags leaving Italy differs from the weight leaving Australia. Each bag should weigh no more than 20 kgs. As we have now have four bags (having left with two), the total weight should be 80 kgs for our travel home.
- So far, we are around 789 kgs over weight in the bags. This is according to our calculations and that of Mario, our friendly and hardworking man-servant who doubles as the hotel handyman. “No problemo” according to Mario – simply buy more bags. Apparently he has a cousin who can arrange new bags. He also arranges marriages, cars, vespa scooters and bail should you need it. Getting through the airport will be another issue.
- So, when travelling from Europe, we also strongly recommend flying nude. This saves weight and reduces the airport security inspections substantially. Sure, you get the odd look or two, but the air carriers love it as it reduces the issue of you carrying anything extra on and your waiting times through security are greatly reduced. Where to carry your passport becomes a private matter.
- When posting mail such as postcards, beware. We posted some postcards in what appeared to be a postbox at, wait for it, a post office stand. When we told the post office employee that we had placed the cards in there, he simply moved the cardboard box marked ‘postal’ only to find our letters and cards laying on the ground – it didn’t have a back to it. Italy is currently celebrating 150 years of its Postal Service…………….in another 150 years we suspect they’ll have backs on their post boxes!
- The little ‘fixer-upper’ that we put the bid in for seems to have fallen through. Not to worry. It did require a fair deal of painting inside, especially the walls and those damn ceilings – I estimated around 128, 890 litres of ‘off white Dulux’ may have done the trick but would only have covered one room.
- In some parts of Rome, cigarette smoking is compulsory. Everyone smokes. When they have finished their cigarette, they simply through it in the street. Ashtrays are only to be used for a weigh for the bill or check as you leave a restaurant. We have seen Priests walking alone with a cigarette hanging out of their mouths, a policeman on a scooter with a cigarette in his mouth while using the other hand to text on his mobile phone (he was in fact steering through the traffic with his knees – of course at 87Km which is the desired speed anywhere as we know.
- Having your photo taken with a Centurian Guard will cost you $3 Euro. Having your photo taken with Guido costs $40 Euro. Pick the Centurian.
- It seems a tradition in Rome (possibly started by the Romans) that Italian men seem attracted to tourists and will, when they can in crowded places and the like, pinch a bottom or two and generally try to have a grope, etc. One gets fairly annoyed with this behaviour and we have complained constantly when it happens which has been a few times over the past week. And Sally has had the same problem as me.
- As a result of the foreclosure on our original property selection here, we decided on another. Aided by Guido, who now poses as a real estate agent for foreigners looking to invest here in Rome, we placed a small holding deposit on another property we liked. Sure, it needs a bit of work, but the potential is enormous (Guido has assured us that the sale will go through once we receive the paperwork from his partners in Nigeria). Here’s Sally looking over the new spread. Note the area for the BBQ to the left and the potential for the porch veranda. The house is in the background.
See you all soon,