Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Slochteren, Netherlands.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Papenburg, Germany.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

What a great little campground!

We were getting low on fresh water, and the holding tanks were getting full so I started looking for somewhere to take care of that business. 

I had found a listing of a small campground that got great reviews. It was only €8 ($12 CAD, $9.50 USD) per night, and that price included electricity and WiFi. No showers or toilet, but we have our own so that's okay. 

And when I read their website, I was sold!

Friday, July 30, 2021

Pleasantly surprised by Groningen. Lots of interesting architecture!

We had pretty much had enough of cities, and so we were actually going to bypass the fairly large (pop 200,000) city of Groningen. 

But we had to go to the outskirts to get one of our propane tanks filled, and once we were there we realized it was only a 2.5 km (1.5 mile) walk to the downtown area.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

How do we find great overnight locations in Europe?

A reader asked yesterday how we find our overnight locations here in Europe. 

With regards to the Netherlands in particular, we had been warned that it was tough to find decent free camping spots, and that paid camping is expensive. And while both of those things are true to a certain extent, we haven't found it that difficult. In fact, we've been here for over three weeks and have only spent €42 ($62 CAD, $50 USD) on four paid nights. The rest have all been free.

So, how do we do it?

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

A long driving day!?

Well, not really. But the longest one for us in quite a while! We actually did 70 kms (42 miles) yesterday!

But because we take the back roads, and we stop to see what there is to see along the way it took us a couple of hours to get to where we were going. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Wandering around Harlingen, Netherlands

Harlingen is a small coastal city (pop 16,000) with a lot of canals and waterways within the city itself. It also has a big port that hosts the ferries that go to the West Frisian Islands, and is where several world class tall ships races have taken place.

We found a big free parking lot outside of town, and walked in.

Monday, July 26, 2021

You can't see everything

We spent three months in Albania, a country about the size of the state of Vermont. And we still didn't see everything we wanted to. 

Netherlands is one and a half times larger than Albania and we've been here for three weeks now. No way will we see everything there is to see. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Sneek is worth a visit!

They were calling for rain later Saturday evening and overnight, so we figured it would not be a good idea to remain parked where we were beside the canal in low lying grass that might get muddy. So we packed up Max and moved on to the nearby small city of Sneek (pop 34,000).

And we're glad we did... Sneek is worth a visit!

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Talking about our plan for this winter

We knew we weren't driving anywhere on Friday, so we took our time in the morning and it was almost 11am by the time we went out for a walk. I thought the bike trail was going to follow the water, but it ended up in between farmers fields with hedges so there wasn't much of anything to see. 

Still, we did 6 kms (3.7 miles), in an hour, so not a bad pace.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Just smile and wave

When we woke up Thursday morning, we were already located at the entrance to a nature reserve. So it only made sense to do the 5 km (3 mile) circular walk before we left.

I feel like we haven't been getting enough exercise lately, so I was trying to pick up the pace to get a half decent workout in, but this conflicts with Ruth wanting to stop and see everything along the way. So it's a bit of a balancing act sometimes as we try to keep each other happy!

Thursday, July 22, 2021

The most beautiful place in the Netherlands

On Wednesday we drove over to the village of Giethoorn, located in Weerribben-Wieden National Park. 

The mostly car-free village has many thatched roof farmhouses built in the 1800's on small peat islands separated by narrow canals and connected by 170 small bridges. It's really pretty, with lots of walking paths, and the popular thing to do is rent an electric boat to tour the canals.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Almost feels like we're on holiday!

Tuesday's goal was to find a place to do laundry. We were only a couple of kilometers to the town of Vollenhove, and there is a big holiday park there that has a motorhome parking area, and apparently a laundry. The reviews didn't mention prices, other than saying "very affordable" which means different things to different people.

There is also a municipal motorhome parking area that has a dump station and fresh water fill. We parked there, and we were surprised that we were the only ones.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Parked below sea level

26% of the Netherlands is below sea level. A series of man made dykes, floodgates, and dams prevent the sea from taking over that 26% of the country. 

But sometimes the sea does take over. The last major flood in Netherlands was in 1953 when 2,500 people were killed. And there have been lots of storms through history that have killed far more people. 

Monday, July 19, 2021

More planning for next month's trip back to Canada

The sun was shining all day again yesterday, but after lunch a cool breeze picked up. We had planned on spending a couple of hours on the beach, but the breeze made it feel too cool. Still, we did get out for a couple of hours walk in the morning.

The weather sure isn't what we were expecting for mid July. The highs for the next week are only between 20C to 23C (68F to 73F) which is fine... just not what we were expecting. It's actually really comfortable for getting out and doing something, and it's supposed to go down to 12C (54F) tonight which is great for sleeping. Might be a little chilly when we get up tomorrow morning!

Sunday, July 18, 2021

We had a busy day, filled with blue sky and sunshine!

After a week of overcast skies it was sure great to see the sunshine and blue sky all day. And it looks like this might continue for a few days yet. 

We took full advantage of the beautiful weather and spent the day outside. Our first stop was the fortified town of Naarden. This interesting town has a lot of history, and dates back to the 13th century.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

You have to dig deep to get the whole story

There is a 48 hour time limit at the free motorhome parking area in Huizen, and there are lots of walking paths in the area so we decided to stay a second night. 

The rain has finished, and the forecast kept calling for sunshine, but it was quite a while before the sun finally appeared.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Max's batteries and fuel mileage

Yesterday was a rain day. We managed to get out around noon and walk over to the motorhome parking area where there are 8 spaces to see how many were available. It turned out that four of them were empty, so we moved Max the one kilometer over to that location. It's not really much better than where we were, but it's not so close to a busy road.

We haven't seen the sun since Sunday. Monday through Thursday were all overcast. So Max's batteries haven't been getting much of a charge from the solar panels. And we haven't been driving much, so they haven't been getting much of a charge that way either.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

An interesting story

We enjoyed our visit to Utrecht, but we were in need of some forest and greenery and country fresh air. So we found a big park area about 25 kms (15 miles) north of the city that has lots of walking and cycling paths.

Coincidentally, this big green space that we found is also where Queen Beatrix, the former Queen of the Netherlands lives at her home called Drakensteyn Castle.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Utrecht, or Amsterdam?

We didn't plan on making a choice between the two, and we haven't really done that. We still want to visit Amsterdam at some point, but not on this trip. 

When we visited Czech Republic in 2012, we found Prague to be very touristy and very expensive compared to the rest of the country. And we found that the smaller city of Olomouc had as much to offer, but without the tourists or the high prices. 

And it's much the same when comparing Amsterdam to the smaller city of Utrecht.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Flight tickets booked!

Yesterday I booked our flight tickets for our trip to Canada. Unfortunately, there were no deals to be had. Because of Canada's strict Covid regulations, there are very few choices when it comes to flying into Canada from Europe. 

So we're pretty much stuck with Air Canada, which certainly wouldn't have been our first choice for flying across the Atlantic. Normally there would be options such as Lufthansa or Swiss Air which are much better airlines.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Sometimes in life, the stars align!

When we fly to Ottawa next month, we will stay at Ruth's father's house until the auction on August 21st. After that, we were going to have to find somewhere to live for five weeks or so. Our daughter's house is okay for a night or two, but it's pretty small and with us there it gets crowded very quickly.

And Airbnb rentals around Canada's capital city are pricey. So we were looking to see if we could find a house sit for at least part of that time. 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

The Windmills of Kinderdijk, and a perfect overnight spot

We took our time yesterday before leaving the campground. When you are paying for it, you might as well make use of the facilities and take the opportunity to do some cleaning. And of course we made sure to drive away with the holding tanks empty and the fresh water tank full.

As I said yesterday, it was a nice campground. For €13 ($19.25 CAD, $15.50 USD) including electric, WiFi, and nice hot showers. 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Our first campground in Netherlands

Despite the fact that "wild camping" isn't allowed in the Netherlands, finding a free place to overnight hasn't been that difficult for us. It may often be just a parking lot, but when we can find more scenic places during the day, we try to spend most of the day there, and only move to our overnight spot later on.

But the problem is trying to find somewhere to empty and fill our tanks. In Germany, they have a lot of free or very cheap places to do this... in Netherlands, not so much!

Friday, July 9, 2021

3 weeks living in Max the motorhome

It was three weeks ago today that we moved into Max.

And we haven't gone very far. But everything is new, and we don't really have a destination in mind so there is no need to go very far. Max now has about 440 kms (273 miles) on the odometer, and he still has about half of his original 90 liter (23.8 U.S. gallon) tank of fuel left.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Interesting day in Arnhem, Netherlands

It's still five weeks away, but I've been doing some planning for our trip back to Canada. We left on October 12th of last year, so by the time we get back we will have been away for 10 months which is the longest we've ever gone without seeing any of the family.

I haven't booked the flights yet, but now that we won't have to do the quarantine we will probably arrive back there sometime between August 12th and the 16th. The estate auction at Ruth's father's house is on August 21st and we want to be there in time to help get ready for that.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Vaccination details, and parked by the river

Around 9:30am we drove over to the small city of Arnhem (pop 160,000). It was only about a 45 minute drive. Our vaccination appointment was for 1:36 pm (yes, exactly!) but we were badly in need of a laundromat and we had found one about 1.5 kms from the vaccination place.

But it was right downtown and we had to find a parking spot for Max!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Vaccination scheduled for today!

We tried to get vaccinated in Albania, Poland, and Germany, with no success. The reasons were varied. Even by the time we left Albania on June 10th, they were vaccinating citizens only and unless in specified groups you had to be over 60 (we are 59). Poland was simply confusing, and there were language issues, and we ran out of time there trying to figure out their system. We didn't try very hard in Germany, but it seemed they were still intent on vaccinating only their own citizens.

Here in Netherlands, 90% of native Dutch speakers can also speak English. And many official government websites also have English versions so you don't have to rely on Google Translate. So when I read that there is a procedure to follow for foreigners on Dutch soil to get vaccinated, I started looking further into it.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Back in the Netherlands

We headed out from the big motorhome camping area in Goch, Germany at just after 10:00am. We made our way across the Germany/Netherlands border and arrived a short time later at our overnight spot just outside the town of Grave, Netherlands.

As I had read, there is absolutely no security presence at the EU country borders so far. In fact at this crossing, there was very little indication you were even crossing into a different country, other than the difference in the road markings and language.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Getting the hang of RV'ing in Germany

We would probably have spent another night at the Rhine River watching the barges go by, but our toilet tank was getting full. 

That's the problem with these types of cassette holding tanks... they aren't very big. It was easy to deal with in Australia because there are so many public toilets and a lot of our wild campsites enabled me to pee outside because there was nobody around. But here in Germany, that's not so easy.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Sitting by the Rhine River watching the barges go by

Friday morning, we left Max in his overnight spot just outside the city of Bocholt and walked into the city. Not that there was anything in particular we planned on seeing, but you never know what you might come across. 

Plus, we needed a new camera bag because the zipper finally let go on the cheap one I had bought at a Walmart quite a while ago. Surprised it lasted this long.

Friday, July 2, 2021

I was a bit disappointed

It was a rain day yesterday. Never saw the sun at all, and even though it stopped raining around 2pm, it was overcast and cool. July 1st and the temperature never got above 15C (60F).

Good opportunity to be able to test out Max's battery system though. We have two 100 amp hour 12 volt AGM batteries, and two 100 watt solar panels. Obviously the solar panels didn't do us much good yesterday, but even by the time we went to bed last night the batteries were still reading 12.4 volts, so lots of power remaining.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

We love castles!

And here in Germany, there are said to be as many as 20,000 castles! Anything from little known ruins, to fully restored fairy tale style medieval fortifications, and everything in between.

So any detour to visit one of these castles doesn't usually involve too much of a route change. Yesterday, we drove a whole 41 kms (25 miles).

June Expenses

We started the month in Albania, having no idea how the month was going to go. Would we end up in Germany? How would we get there? Would we be able to get into our new motorhome? What would it cost to get the motorhome set up?

So it was really tough to come up with an approximate budget at the beginning of the month. But as you know, we did make it into Germany and we did get into our new motorhome. So June expenses include not only a our normal day to day expenses, but also the figures for capital expenses for the motorhome itself.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Problem solved for now, and back on the road to a nice free forest campground

We sat in the parking lot at the RV dealer until about lunchtime when our service tech David came and got Max to try to repair the sliding pantry door. Did you know that the name for this type of door is called a "tambour door". We had never heard that term before.

As I expected, this was not an easy problem to fix. He ended up having to break the door to get it out, and although that sounds extreme, I couldn't figure out how else it could be done. 

Travel smoothly with the help of these apps in 2021

Whether you’re going on a fishing adventure to New Zealand or exploring everything Warsaw has to offer, we all take our mobile phone devices with us in today’s smartphone-obsessed world. It’s understandable, too, of course. Today’s mobile phones offer a range of functionalities, be it taking high-quality images or simply enabling us to locate the best nearby hotels in a foreign location.  

For many modern-day holidaymakers, the smartphone devices of today offer a range of other benefits also. Instead of solely using devices to track down family or friends who are staying nearby or for entertainment purposes like watching a Netflix movie or playing slot games like Chests of Plenty, travellers are downloading an array of travel apps too. Some apps enable a journey to go more smoothly, while others help you get the most out of an adventure abroad. The options in this space are comprehensive too, as developers aim to tap into what is proving to be a popular category of apps. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Hopefully it will be a quick fix, but I'm not betting on it.

A bit of a frustrating day yesterday.

We left our free overnight spot early Monday morning. We had forgotten that on Sundays the shops are almost all closed, and we had run out of milk so figured we would go into the nearest town that also had a motorhome service point where we could empty our toilet tank.

That turned out to be the town of  Vreden which was in the wrong direction to where we had wanted to be going, but it was only about 12 kms (7 miles) out of our way.

Monday, June 28, 2021

We never thought there would be flamingos in Germany

Sunday afternoon we went for a walk to see the flamingos at Zwillbrocker Venn. One of the trails to the conservation area actually starts right where we were parked with Max.

This area is famous because of a colony of nesting flamingos. It is the furthest north colony in the world. We never would have thought there would be flamingos in Germany.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Arrived in Netherlands... and the world's largest camping gear store!

It was only a 50 km (30 mile) drive from our RV dealer to the Netherlands border... and another 10 kms (6 miles) after that to the world's largest camping gear store.

I am calling it "the world's largest", although that has not been confirmed. But now that we've been there, we don't see how there could possibly be anything bigger! It is quite the place.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Have a look at these European RVs

We relaxed for the morning, but then around noon we got Max packed up and ready to go. We had a 2:30pm appointment for him at the service department, but wanted to pick up a few grocery items before we left.

Of course part of the process of getting ready to go includes the emptying of our toilet casette. The European system is quite different from the North American system.

Friday, June 25, 2021

What a big set of antlers!

There were lots of walking trails where we had been parked Wednesday night, so first thing Thursday morning we went for a walk. 

We are still trying to figure out the best way to install a power inverter so that we can have standard electricity (230VAC here in Europe) inside the house part of the motorhome, running off the batteries. Until we sort it out, I was looking for an inexpensive basic unit that would plug into the 12VDC power socket with just enough power to keep our laptops charged up.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

First time driving Max!

We had a good day yesterday. 

It started with doing laundry. We don't have very many clothes to begin with, and we don't mind doing some hand washing to get us by, but eventually the larger items need doing too. It turns out there is no laundromat in the town of Dulmen, and we had to drive a half an hour into the city of Munster to get that job done.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Why are we still sitting here? And a few warranty issues

We arrived here to meet Max last Friday, so we have now spent four nights sleeping in the new motorhome. Yet he still has only 30 kms (18 miles) on the odometer. That's because we haven't driven him yet!

We had explained beforehand that we were in no rush. Plus, we arrived on a Friday so we were pretty sure not much would get done over the weekend. And Monday and Tuesday were Amazon Prime days, so I was pretty busy working during that event, and quite happy to be sat in one spot.

And, it gave us a chance to go over the rig and check out any problems. And there are some minor warranty problems (detailed below) to sort out. But, they are very minor.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

A video tour of Max's interior

We think that we have the interior set up the way we want it. A place for everything, and everything in it's place, as they say.

Of course you put things away and store them during travel, but we try to do that even when we're parked up because it's easy for a motorhome's interior to start to look cluttered. 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Exploring Dulmen, Germany

We took a break from the shopping yesterday, although partly because it was forced on us. Here in Germany, the vast majority of shops are closed on Sundays.

So we spent some time organizing and figuring out the best way to store things in Max. And, we were overdue for some exercise so we got out for a long walk.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

It is a lot of work to set up a new motorhome!

Another busy day shopping yesterday, but things are coming together. 

We wanted to go to an IKEA store, and I knew there was bound to be a lot of them in Germany. In fact I looked it up and there are 53 IKEA stores in Germany. For comparison, there are 52 in the United States, and 12 in Canada.

But surprisingly, there isn't one really close by to where we are. There were three that were all about the same distance, so we chose one.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Introducing you to Max... our new European motorhome!

We were up early yesterday morning and had a big breakfast at the hotel. It was buffet style, so there was lots of choice for us and we made sure to walk away full since we didn't know if or when we would have a chance to get any lunch.

We had to make our way to the dealership which was located about 10 kms (6 miles) from the hotel. (Or so I thought at the time!) There is no Uber presence in this town, and we asked about a taxi, only to be told it might cost €30 to €40 for the trip. I would walk before I would pay that kind of money!

Friday, June 18, 2021

Arrived in Germany... country #43 for us. And, what have we named our new motorhome?

Not only have we arrived in Germany, but we have arrived at the town where our new motorhome is located!

We were picked up at 9:00am at our apartment in Warsaw by a young couple who were driving all the way to Netherlands... and they were doing the drive all in one day. This worked out perfectly for us, even though it's a long distance and it would be a full day in the car to do the 1,000 km (620 mile) distance. 

But, it goes by pretty quick when you're doing 160 km/h (99.5 mph).

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Visit with The Chouters, and a change of plans...

We left the apartment after lunch and began walking downtown. We were actually on our way to meet up with The Chouters, but they were located at a campground on the other side of downtown and the opposite side of the river.

We wanted to see the rooftop garden at the University Library and it was pretty much along the way. Then we could walk across the river and take an Uber from there.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Planning to get to Germany and our new motorhome

Our new motorhome is located in the town of Dulmen, Germany. It's actually quite close to the Netherlands border. So from here, it is still about 1,000 kms (620 miles) away. There are too many restrictions still involved with flying, but crossing into Germany by land is okay since we are already in the EU and have not been in a "risk" country in the last 10 days.

Our current plan is to take the train to the city of Poznan here in Poland. That gets us a little closer to the German border. From Poznan there are quite a few rideshares available to get us to Berlin. There are some rideshares available directly from Warsaw, but it's an 8 hour drive and the ones that are available seem to leave at odd hours.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Easier said than done!

First order of business on Monday was to try to find out about getting the Covid vaccination. Here in Poland, you do not have to be a citizen and the vaccination is free. However it's not as simple as just showing up and getting the shot.

In fact, it seems it's not simple at all, and we are just about ready to give up!

Monday, June 14, 2021

Sunday wasn't a great day

It wasn't bad... it just wasn't great! They were calling for showers on and off, and the temperature never got much above 18C (65F) and there were gusty winds. It was just a dull day. And sure enough, it did rain but it was a little more than showers. It really came down a couple of times, and with the wind it was just not nice.

We still planned on going out though. After all, we have raincoats and we needed to get some fresh air.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

First day in Warsaw... lots to see!

I've always wanted to go to Poland. Mostly because not many other travelers from North America come here, when compared to the more popular countries of Europe. When North Americans think of Europe, they mostly think of Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. Poland isn't nearly as popular for whatever reason.

Right now, we are only interested in Warsaw. We haven't done any research as to what to see in the rest of the country, and it's a pretty big country. All of that will have to wait until we get into our motorhome. Poland will be on the agenda at some point over the next couple of years. For this visit, Warsaw is our only interest.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Arrived in Poland... country #42 for us

I never sleep well the night before a travel day. Too many things running through my mind! And you just don't know what roadblocks will be thrown your way. I don't think I would describe it as stressful... it's more exciting to me than anything else. 

Yesterday's post ended with us in the departure lounge at Tirana Airport. Our flight to Warsaw, Poland was supposed to leave at 9:40am, but the departures board listed it as 9:20am. Turns out we didn't even start boarding until 9:20am, and didn't actually take off until 10:00am.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Off to Poland!

Writing this from the departure lounge at Tirana Airport. It's only a two hour flight, so by the time most of you read this we will be in Warsaw, Poland.

Yesterday, we walked downtown and had lunch at the very first restaurant we went to when we arrived here almost three months ago.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

View above Tirana, and more Poland planning

One of the things we had wanted to do here in Tirana is to take the cable car up into the mountains. Wednesday was supposed to be warm and sunny, so we figured the views should be good. 

The lower cable car terminal is located on the outskirts of the city, about 6.5 kms (4 miles) from our apartment. We thought about driving, but traffic in Tirana can get backed up at all hours of the day. Also, when we return to the apartment it's difficult to find parking.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Life in Communist Albania

We wandered downtown yesterday afternoon. There had been some showers in the morning, but by after lunch it was a pleasant day.

It's only about 2 kms (1.6 miles) to downtown, but we took a bit of a different route because we wanted to see a small archeological site in a nearby neighborhood. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Planning for Poland, and the cost of a haircut

Monday was a nice relaxing day! It was a bit overcast all day, and there were a few scattered showers. We didn't even leave the apartment until about noon. But that's okay, I had lots of planning to do for our upcoming trip to Poland.

First thing was to find suitable accommodation. There was lots of availability on Airbnb, but not much suitable at a half decent price. Warsaw is a big capital city, and even though Poland is one of the cheaper European countries, the big cities can still be expensive. So I started looking at shared accommodation, which we've been trying to avoid due to Covid. But sometimes economics comes into play. Anyhow, we got lucky!

Monday, June 7, 2021

Moving day... back in the big city of Tirana, and Covid update

Well, we are back where we started and our almost three month tour of Albania is coming to an end. We fly to Poland this coming Friday, so that gives us only four full days left here. Today, we don't have much planned... we both need haircuts though, so that will be on the agenda. And we do have a couple of day trips we want to do before we leave, so the rest of the week will go by quickly!

On Sunday, we drove from Koman to Tirana, with a couple of stops along the way.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Hiking high above Komani Lake

We came to Komani Lake specifically to do the Komani Lake Ferry ride. But when we were researching the area, we learned of a hike that goes high up into the mountains overlooking Komani Lake where there is the ruins of a settlement dating back to the 3rd century.

The hike itself would be great, but even better to see some ruins that not many other people see because it's a difficult uphill climb to get there.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Lake Komani Ferry. And decision time!

Let's talk about decision time first.

We have to leave Albania by June 13th one way or the other. Our destination of choice would be Germany to pick up our motorhome, but Germany is still closed to most visitors arriving by air. And the European Union (EU) countries are not united when it comes to entry rules for visitors... in fact they are a jumbled mess with all 27 countries making their own rules despite recommendations from the EU itself.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Koman, Albania

The little village of Koman doesn't really have a lot to offer. However, after wandering around for a day there is more to it than originally meets the eye.

This was a remote mountain village until 1980 when they began construction of the Koman Hydroelectric power station. The dam was completed in 1985, and the reservoir filled in 1986. When the reservoir was filled, they began a ferry service for the locals to be able to access the other villages along the waterway.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Moving day... and tire damage update

We said goodbye to the Albanian Alps yesterday after a fantastic week in such stunning scenery. We weren't going very far, but it was going to take a while to get there. 

First, we drove back to the city of Shkodra to get our flat tire problem fixed up. The other day, I had backed onto the shoulder of a narrow road in order to let another vehicle pass, and in the process a rock cut into the sidewall of the tire. I knew that it was not repairable, and I figured that we were going to be on the hook for the price of a new tire.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Trail markers, but no trail

We've really enjoyed our week here in the Albanian Alps. Other than one rain day, we did some hiking each day. In fact, we did 44 kms (27 miles) with some decent elevation gains.

Yesterday was our last full day here. We decided on a walk on the other side of the valley. For most of it, I think we were following an old logging road. But the signs at the beginning pointed to the top of the mountain, which we kind of figured would be a tough hike. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Hiking in the snow!

This is the second post of the day. You may have missed our May Expenses post earlier on.

On Monday, we drove a short distance up to a trail that leads to a castle ruins. We had already been told that there isn't much left of the castle, so we knew not to expect too much. We also had already been told that "they" (whoever they are) are building a five star hotel up there. 

May Expenses

And so another month begins... it is June the 1st today. 

We are still using the TravelSpend app to keep track of our expenses. It's really working well for us and it's easy to use.

May was a good month, simply because we came in right where we expected to be. There were no surprises! We spent $2,413 CAD ($2,002 USD) for the month.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Our Travel Insurance - HeyMondo

Many countries around the world are beginning to open up for summer travel. And if you are going to travel, you want to have travel insurance that covers you for Covid related problems.

I don't want this to sound like an advertisement, because it's not. As any of our regular readers know, I put a lot of effort into researching just about anything we do. It's not only so that we get a good deal, although that is certainly a priority. It's also so that things go smoothly and we have a good understanding of what to do when things don't go smoothly.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

We can't seem to get to where we want to go!

And I'm not just talking about Germany!

Although, while we're on the subject I'll give you an update on that problem. I had applied through the German Border Police for special permission to enter the country for 72 hours (the official "transit" time allowed) in order to pick up our motorhome and then drive directly to Poland where Canadian citizens are welcome.

Surprisingly, they got back to me within a couple of days. Unsurprisingly, it was denied. Going to pick up our motorhome in Germany is not an "essential" reason for entering the country, even though I would be coming from a country (Albania) that is not considered a country of risk by Germany.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

There is still lots of snow up here!

Most people come to this area in order to get to the village of Theth and Theth National Park. And there are only three ways to get to Theth. One is by hiking, and the other two require 4 wheel drive. 

It's a very remote area.

Unfortunately, that is changing.

Friday, May 28, 2021

First day out hiking in the Albanian Alps

Well, I had said yesterday that we didn't want to jump right into a big hike because we hadn't done one for a while.

And what did we do? We ended up doing 13 kms (8 miles)! But, it was only an elevation gain of about 360 meters (1,200') so it wasn't really that strenuous. Of course we have lots of pictures to show you!

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Check out our home in the mountains for the next week...

When we first decided to come to Albania, it was party because of the photos I had seen of the Albanian Alps mountain range, and the hiking possibilities I could imagine existed there. But of course when we arrived here in March, there was still too much snow up in those mountains. 

So, we spent the last two months exploring the southern part of the country waiting for the roads to open up in the mountains. But we are here now, and it's everything we imagined it would be!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Now this is the kind of scenery we love!

Yesterday we took off for a drive up into the Albanian Alps. This northern mountain range stretches into both Montenegro and Kosovo and is also known as the Accursed Mountains. 

We had been told that there might still be snow up there, and some of the roads can be in bad condition so we didn't know exactly how far we would make it. But it turned out we could have gone further... we ran out of time though. Too many beautiful views to stop and admire.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The top 5 so far, and why

I follow the blog of Johnny Ward at One Step 4 Ward. He has been to every country in the world. Not only the 192 United Nations listed countries, but the ones that really are countries, but not necessarily recognized as such by other countries. That brings the total list up to 215.

He posted a list of all those countries on Facebook the other day, and asked readers how many they had been to, and what their favorites were. Of course that got me thinking about what our top five might be.

Monday, May 24, 2021

It's not every day you have lunch with a MIG jet fighter pilot

Well yesterday was an interesting day!

Remember I mentioned that we had a noise coming from the transmission of our rental car? Well on Friday, we did a switch and they gave us a temporary car until they can figure out what's going on with the other one. So we were talking to the guys at Go Rent Albania about the great time we've been having here, and Zeni suggests that we should have lunch together during our time in Shkodra. Of course we agreed. Then on Saturday, he called and invited us to his family home for lunch! He said we would have a real traditional Albanian experience. And boy, was he right!

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Rozafa Castle in Shkodra, Albania

On Saturday, we walked over and then up to Rozafa Castle, also known as Shkodra Castle. 

The origins of the castle date to the 300 BC, and as with any structure that old, it has been added to and renovated several times over the last 2,400 years! But the thick walls will last for a long time yet.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

A few things to talk about today!

In no particular order of importance though, so we'll start with email notifications. Many of you (almost 400 of you!) are signed up to receive an email notification whenever we make a new post. Unfortunately, the powers that be at Google have decided to discontinue this service as of June, so we have made some changes so that you can continue to receive email notifications. 

I am manually transferring all the old subscriptions to the new service, but just in case, it would be a good idea to do it yourself.

Friday, May 21, 2021

First day in Shkodra

It was a mixed bag of weather on Thursday, our first day in the city of Shkodra. With a population of 135,000 people, Shkodra is the 5th largest city in Albania. Temperature about 20C (68F) but mostly cloudy with possible thunderstorms.

I had contacted the guys at Go Rent Albania about the transmission noise, and we made arrangements to send the car out for service. I followed one of the guys back to the office, and of course now the noise is gone! But they gave us another car and said they would drive the other one for a day and see if the problem returns. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Moving day, and possible good news regarding Europe

Let's talk about the possible good news first.

Our maximum three months in Albania will end around June 14th. There is a direct flight from Tirana, Albania to Dortmund, Germany on June 10th, and we want to be on it. That is only three weeks away.

Yesterday, the European Union agreed to increase the number of "safe" countries that can visit the EU as tourists. Under current restrictions, people from only seven countries can enter the EU on holiday, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated. This list is expected to be updated by early next week at the latest. Albania's numbers are really low, and we are expecting (hoping?) that Albania will be on that list. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Albania continues to impress us...

I messed up our posting schedule, and you may have missed yesterday's post. If so, you can read it here...

https://www.travelwithkevinandruth.com/2021/05/more-beautiful-lake-ohrid-scenery.html

Yesterday, we drove up into the mountains in behind Pogradec. We were looking for a way to get to Guri i Kamjes, a neat geological formation that sticks up from the surrounding hills. We could see it from a distance, but weren't sure what roads might take us there, and of course whether or not the roads might be passable without a 4 wheel drive vehicle.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Dos and don’ts of traveling in Thailand

Thailand is one of the greatest countries in the world for travelers. Whether you’re visiting on a luxury budget or backpacking around, you will love what the country has to offer. It’s a super friendly place, it’s relatively safe, and it’s full of amazing experiences for all types of travelers. Here are the dos and don’ts of traveling in Thailand:

More beautiful Lake Ohrid scenery

Perfect day to go out and do some more exploring yesterday, so we set off in the car at around 10:00am, heading north up the western shore of Lake Ohrid. We've been here since last Wednesday, and that was the first time we've used the car since we arrived!

We were headed up to the town of Lin, located on a peninsula that juts out into the lake at the North Macedonia border.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Views of Lake Ohrid, nice hike, and anniversary dinner

We were overdue for some exercise, so we made plans to climb up the hill to Pogradec Castle. From there, there were several choices to continue our hike. 

I did some research before we left. It turns out that some visitors attempt to drive up to the castle. Yes, there is a road, but as with many rural roads in Albania, you are better off if you have a 4 wheel drive. I read stories of people attempting it in a regular car, but once you get to a certain point there is no way to turn around, and if you can't make it, you have to back all the way down.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Saving the best to the last

We have totally been enjoying our time in Albania. 

It's only in hindsight that you can get a clear idea of whether or not a decision has been a good one, but we feel we've made a lot of good decisions through this whole pandemic. Yes, we fully realize that not everybody agrees with the fact that we have continued to travel. But we have zero regrets, and for us it was the right thing to do. Three months in Turkey was fantastic, and there is so much more to see there. Two months in Tanzania was good. For me, it was about a month too long though. It's not an easy country to travel without spending loads of money. And it's too hot and buggy for our liking. 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Pogradec Beach and Albania's Drilon National Park

On Friday, we walked almost the full length of the waterfront here in Pogradec, all the way to Drilon National Park. It was about 5 kms (3 miles) each way. In fact, only 2 kms further and we would have been at the North Macedonia border crossing.

They're doing a lot of spring clean up work on the beachfront. This is a busy area on hot summer weekends, so starting about a month from now the lakeside beach will be packed.

Friday, May 14, 2021

First day in Pogradec

We like to spend the first day in a new town just wandering around and seeing where things are. Just to kind of get a feel for the place. And, we usually need to pick up some groceries to stock the fridge for the week. Although, it's kind of funny because we end up doing some kind of grocery shopping almost every day!

When we were traveling North America in Sherman, we would typically do a big shop once a week or so. Usually at Walmart, or some other big one stop shop type of place. But here in Albania there are no Walmarts, and very few actually large full service grocery stores. Lots of smaller shops where we get general groceries in one place, meat in another, and fruits and vegetables in another. And when we have had an apartment in town, there has always been a shop within close walking distance.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Our new motorhome is paid for... and we think we will be using it next month!

Wednesday was moving day as we made our way from Korca to Pogradec. Not a long drive, only about 40 kms (25 miles). 

Pogradec is a small city with a population of about 21,000 people. It's located on the sandy shores of Lake Ohrid. The border between Albania and North Macedonia runs right through the lake, and we are only about 6 kms from the North Macedonia land border crossing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

What an interesting day we had... and it ended with more excitement!

After having done that 17 km hike the day before, we were planning on a bit of a rest day. But we still didn't want to waste our last day in the area, so we decided to drive up to the mountain town of Dardha just to see the scenery. 

And we did make it to Dardha... but from there on, our plans of having a rest day fell apart!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

We never know how long we'll be gone!

We ended up hiking 17 kms (10.5 miles) yesterday! Certainly didn't plan on that, and we weren't really prepared, but that's what happened.

There are several easy day trips that can be done from where we are staying in the city of Korca. Yesterday, we chose to drive into the mountains to the town of Voskopoja. It's only about a half an hour drive.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Eye surgery update

Well, it's been about four and a half months since our Christmas Day eye surgery took place.

For any new blog readers, the procedure we both had done is called Intraocular Lens Replacement. It's essentially the same surgery that people have done when they have cataracts, except we didn't have cataracts. We did it simply to get rid of having to wear glasses all the time.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Views above Korca

Saturday was forecast to be a blue skies and sunshine kind of day... exactly what we were looking for to do the walk up to the cross and chapel on top of a nearby hill overlooking Korca.

There is no hiking trail, but the road goes up to a big resort hotel, almost all the way to the cross and chapel so we could have easily driven up. But, we're not normal and needed some exercise. It turned out to be steeper than it looked!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Things are good here in Albania!

A news report out yesterday from the Ministry of Health here in Albania says that the country is now officially out of "the red zone" regarding Covid, and now has the lowest numbers of any of the surrounding countries as well as Europe, at only 26 cases per 100,000 residents. For perspective, the province of Ontario has 250 cases per 100,000 residents.

Yesterday, they did 2,728 tests and 67 residents tested positive. There were 2 deaths.

RV Maintenance

Regular maintenance is an important part of owning an RV if you want to get years of trouble free enjoyment from it. As with any type of machinery, there is a set schedule you should follow that the manufacturer recommends. Trailers are one thing, but with a motorhome you have to look after both the house part of the unit, and the maintenance schedule of the chassis manufacturer.

It's fairly easy with the chassis maintenance because the chassis owners manual has a list of the details required to keep the engine in top running condition, and to meet warranty obligations. But the actual RV maintenance is a little more difficult because there are important things to do on a regular basis that could cause loss of enjoyment if they aren't looked after.

Friday, May 7, 2021

What goes on behind the scenes? And a beautiful day in the city of Korca, Albania!

We spent the morning getting caught up on some internet work. Yes, I'm sure it looks like all we do is have fun and explore every day. And we do try to do that. But there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that is more like work than play! It's the fact that we can do it from anywhere in the world with a good internet connection that makes our lifestyle so enjoyable to us.

We have heard some comment that we are "lucky" to be doing what we're doing, but everything we're doing has been planned, and is the result of a conscious decision on our part.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

4 hours to drive 135 kms (84 miles). But the scenery was worth it...

The guy at the tourist office in Permet had told us that it would take "about 5 hours" to do the drive from Permet to Korca, but we wouldn't mind because we would be too busy enjoying the scenery. And he was right!

But still, it's hard to believe there isn't a more direct route. This part of Albania near the border with Greece is pretty remote. In fact, we were saying that people who live here have to be pretty self sufficient because it's a long drive to any kind of services. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Wonderful day at Langarica Canyon and Benja Thermal Waters

We wanted to get an early start because we had read that the hot springs area can get busy. And, there is a lot of hiking in and around the canyon behind the hot springs, so we knew we would be in for a full day.

Langarica Canyon is located only 12 kms (7 miles) from the town of Permet. And Benja Hot Springs is located at the entrance to the canyon. And both attractions are located within Fir of Hotova-Dangelli National Park, the largest national park in Albania.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Another Kevin and Ruth mystery tour

We set off yesterday morning on a hike. We didn't really have a planned destination, and we just started walking up the mountain in behind the town of Permet. We figured we'd be gone a couple of hours, but as usual it turned into a bit of a mystery tour as we tried to find the Shen Elena Shrine located somewhere up there.

We had no problem making our way up to the almost ghost town like village of Lipa. But from there it became a series of dead ends as we tried to find the shrine.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Our accommodation in Permet, and exploring the town

There weren't a lot of Airbnb choices in Permet. It's only a small city of about 10,000 people. There were a lot of guest houses listed, which normally we wouldn't mind staying in shared facilities, but with the whole Covid situation, our preference is to have a place to ourselves. 

And normally when there are a lot of options, we try to pick a place that has a lot of good reviews. But obviously there's always a bit of risk involved because what some people find acceptable, others do not.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

The most beautiful waterfall in Albania

Saturday was moving day as we made our way from Gjirokaster to Permet. Not a long distance, only about 62 kms (38 miles). But there were a few things we wanted to see along the way.

The main thing we wanted to see was the Peshtures Waterfall near the village of Progonat. We had read that it is the most beautiful waterfall in Albania, and the pictures we had seen sure made it look that way.

But, it's not easy to get to.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Taxes done, and then hike to a 16th century monastery

May the 1st today. Wow. We've been in Albania for a month and a half.

I posted our April expenses last night if you missed it, you can see it here...

https://www.travelwithkevinandruth.com/2021/04/april-expenses.html

Well, I've spent an hour or so a day for the last three days getting our Canadian income taxes done and making sure all of the i's were dotted and t's were crossed. Then yesterday morning when I attempted to send everything in, I got an error message. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

April Expenses

In case you missed it, this is the second blog post of the day. You can read the first one here...


Regarding our April Expenses...Yeehaw... it's very rare for us to come in at or under budget. I purposely set our base case budget for the month on the low side so that it gives us a goal to strive towards. In the case of April 2021, our budget was $2,300 CAD ($1,875 USD), and we came in at $2.380 CAD ($1,940 USD). 

Not under budget, but close enough. We'll take it! 

Well that was an adventure!

I'm sure that some people think we have adventures almost every day, but really we are just out seeing what there is to see in the world. However sometimes just going out exploring really does become an adventure... even by our standards.

Yesterday was one of those days! I think we used the phrase "holy crap" a few times!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

A few videos for you today...

There are not many actual hiking trails in this area, but there are a lot of trails made by the goats and sheep! And, there are a lot of 4x4 dirt roads that are not suitable for cars, but are suitable for hiking.

Yesterday, we drove up the paved road that goes near the top of the mountain range in behind us. It's a curvy road with lots of switchbacks and pretty much zero traffic. It gains 1,058 meters (3,500 feet) in 14 kms (8.7miles). 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Annunciation Monastery and Skotini Cave near Vanister, Albania

As beautiful as the view is from our front porch, there's lots to see in this area, so we like to get out every day. Especially with such enjoyable weather. Yesterday got up to about 22C (71F)  and they're calling for 24C (75F) today. Perfect.

We drove about 20 kms (12 miles) to the nearby village of Vanister. Up in the hills behind the village is a16th century monastery with gorgeous views of the valley below. It sounded like a good hike, so we headed there first.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Out for a hike on a beautiful day with gorgeous scenery

We heard back from our host here at the villa, and we are allowed to stay an extra three nights, so now we will be leaving here on Saturday May 1st. We had asked for a second full week, but the Orthodox Easter celebrations are next weekend and they have a family gathering here on Sunday.

So we have booked a spot in Permet for four nights and then will move on to Korce for another full week. Things will start to be warming up in the mountains by then, and we really want to get up to the northern part before our time here is up. So we can't be staying too long in any one place!

Monday, April 26, 2021

A beautiful day to visit Gjirokaster Castle

The car fired right up, so it seems that my battery terminal repair fixed the problem. We tried to get an early start, but it was still almost 10am by the time we got on the road. It's only a 10 kms (6 mile) drive, and we got ourselves parked up at the lower section of Gjirokaster. The city was already pretty busy on a Sunday morning with a lot of people out enjoying the beautiful day, after having had three days without sunshine.

We notice that people in Albania tend to do their business and running around in the morning. Afternoons are quite a bit quieter.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

They say these things come in threes

Yesterday was day three of clouds and drizzle, but we needed to go into the small city of Gjirokastër (pop 20,000) to get some supplies. We also looked up a couple of possible places to have lunch while we were in town.

Ruth went to feed the cats, and she tried to unlock the front door, but it wouldn't unlock. So I went and tried, and sure enough it would not. The key would go in and turn a quarter each way, but it would not budge the lock. To the point where I was afraid of bending the key. 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Our Oboz hiking boots, and the local electricity

And no, the two don't have anything to do with each other. They are just a couple of things we wanted to talk about today.

First, the electricity.

Albania suffers from an old electrical infrastructure that is mostly based on hydroelectricity. I read that the amount of electricity available fluctuates depending on rainfall, and they often switch power sources from one plant to another throughout the year, and throughout the country on a regular basis.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Not every day you come across a pile of human bones!

Well, the title might give the impression that we had interesting day. And that assumption would indeed be correct!

Starting yesterday, we're in for some cloud and drizzle lasting until Saturday night. And then the long term forecast for all of next week is supposed to be beautiful. So that's something to look forward to.

In the meantime, we don't let a little bit of rain stop us from getting outside. So we set off to explore the local area by foot, without any kind of a plan.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Sometimes, everything just comes together

What a great day we had. It started off good, and just continued to get better. And it ended up fantastic!

Wednesday was moving day, and we had the car packed up and ready to go by the 11:00am check out time. We weren't driving a long distance, a total of about 65 kms (40 miles), but there were a couple of stops we wanted to make along the way and it was almost all on secondary roads so it's pretty slow going.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Nice day trip up Albania's Riviera Coast

When we drove south from Vlorë to Sarandë  a week ago, we knew there were a lot of things to see along the way. In fact if we were in our motorhome it would probably take us two weeks or more to travel that section of coastline! And we simply didn't have time to stop on see everything on that drive, so we planned a day trip back up that way on Tuesday.

And we still didn't see everything that there is to see, so we'll have to stop back in this area when we do actually return with our motorhome. Besides, we keep finding great boondocking spots that would be worth a return visit.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Another day in Saranda

Well the skies cleared up a bit and I never did end up getting our tax return done. I'm pretty good about procrastinating on that kind of thing. With regards to taxes, I use the old procrastinator's motto, which is "Why do today what can be put off until tomorrow?" I've got another ten tomorrows left until the April 30th deadline in Canada, and it's not really all that complicated so I have lots of time. As with most years, I'll likely leave it until the last minute! Especially since we have to pay. If we were getting a refund, you can bet I would have filed long ago.

We ended up going out after lunch, just to go for a walk and pick up a few things.

Monday, April 19, 2021

The ruins at the ancient city of Butrint

Butrint is the amazing ancient city ruins site that you have probably never heard of. We are the first to admit that we had never heard of it either, until we started researching what we were going to do with our time here in Albania. Butrint is located in southern Albania near the border of Greece, and across from the Greek island of Corfu.

The original settlement of a Greek colony dates back to approximately 800 BC. Then in 44 AD, Julius Caesar himself visited Butrint and by 48 AD had declared Butrint a Roman colonial city.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

More exploring around Saranda, Albania

It was yet another dull grey day on Saturday, but with no wind to speak of, and a pleasant high of about 18C (65F). But it never did rain, at least not until late evening and by that point it didn't matter.

We set off towards the Greek border with intention of eventually making our way to the Butrint National Park  and the ancient city of Butrint which is a Unesco World Heritage site.

But when we got there, we didn't go in!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Good news, bad news, and a dull grey day in Saranda, Albania

Well, lets get the bad news out of the way first. 

The entire province of Ontario just extended a four week stay at home order to six weeks, and instituted border controls between the provinces. This will last until May 20th, but it should not surprise anyone if it's extended. So to remove any doubt, the estate auction at Ruth's father's house originally planned for May 30th has been rescheduled to August 21st. 

So, we now have no real reason to come back to Canada until August and have put off any intention of doing so until then. Hopefully some sort of normalcy will have returned to Ontario by August, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Well that was stupid!

We woke up to a beautiful sunny day here in Saranda, Albania, but still a bit cool with a forecast high of 17C (63F). Not quite shorts and t-shirt weather, but it's getting close!

Our first day in town, we like to walk around and get to know the city. So we set off mid morning to see what there is to see.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Himara Castle and the Albanian Riviera

The coast south of the Llogara Pass to the Greek border is known as the Albanian Riviera. It's not very well known outside of Albania, but we think that's starting to change. There's a lot of new construction going on at some of the smaller beach towns along the way, and some new communities are being purposely built.

And no wonder. The scenery is spectacular, and the water is clear and a beautiful shade of blue.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

One month in Albania

Can you believe that we have now been in Albania for a full month? We arrived on March 15th in the capital city of Tirana. We're allowed to stay in Albania for three months, so with one month down already, three months might not be enough! That's okay... we definitely plan on returning with our new motorhome at some point in time.

We've been trying to spend a week at a time at each place we stay. That normally gives us enough time to explore the area with day trips, and when you book a weekly rental through Airbnb you normally get a discount of some kind.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Wow, what a drive!

I had been really looking forward to yesterday's road trip! My research said that highway SH8 in southwestern Albania is one of the world's great scenic coastal drives, and sure enough, it didn't disappoint.

Our next destination is Sarandë, and we head there tomorrow (Wednesday). And we have to take the SH8 to get there. But there are quite a few things to see along the way, so I figured we would do a day trip to around the half way point, and then come back. Then the actual drive itself tomorrow. Then another day trip from Sarandë will take us back the other way for some more exploring. So it's actually going to take three trips on this beautiful highway to see all the things we want to see!

Monday, April 12, 2021

Good news out of Albania yesterday

Yesterday was Sunday, and we had a nice relaxing day.

You could sure tell it was a Sunday in our area. Quite a few more people were out enjoying the patio restaurants and walking and cycling on the various paths that line the waterfront. Traffic was also bumper to bumper at times on the road in front. I can't imagine what it would be like during the summer season.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Kaninë Castle and a walk on the waterfront

Overlooking the city of Vlorë is the remains of Kaninë Castle. While the city is at sea level, the castle is in the mountains just behind the city at an altitude of 380 meters (1,250').

We had thought about walking up there from our apartment. It's only 6 kms (3.7 miles) one way. But it looked like there might be some hiking to do once we got up there, so we decided to drive.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

We are always on the lookout for a great free campsite!

We don't mind traveling the way we are. Renting a car and staying in various Airbnb accommodation works okay for us. But we would rather be in a motorhome! And so we are always in the "motorhome" frame of mind even when we aren't traveling in one!

And because of that, we're always on the lookout for great free campsites. 

Friday, April 9, 2021

A walk around downtown Vlorë, Albania

Beautiful sunny day yesterday here in Vlorë, Albania, but a bit chilly with a high of only 14C (57F). Still, if you were in the sun it was quite pleasant. A warming trend is in the forecast though, with the sunshine maintaining a presence. We'll take it!

Yesterday, our first day in Vlorë, we went for a walk into the downtown section. There is a grocery chain here in Albania called Conad, and they do some of their own store brand gluten free products, including bread. But not all Conad stores stock all the products, so we wanted to see what selection they had at the Conad store here.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Moving day. We are now at the beach city of Vlorë, Albania

We had to be out of our cottage in Berat by 10:00am, and it was exactly 10:00am when we drove the car out of the parking garage.

It was the first rainy, overcast day we've had for a while, although the rain was mostly over by the time we started driving. It's not a long distance from Berat to Vlorë... only about 87 kms (54 miles), but a lot of it was on a slow going road that went through several villages so it took about an hour and forty five minutes. And we weren't in a rush anyhow... our new apartment had a check in time of 1:00pm.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Finally finished at the dentist, and today is moving day!

We've been here in Berat for two weeks now, and we've really enjoyed our stay. In fact, we could easily stay longer! But, we have decided to move on. We are likely to return with our new motorhome one day, and there are still some things we didn't see, so we have a reason to come back.

Yesterday, I had my 4th and final dentist appointment! The job is complete now, and everything seems fine. And how much did it cost?

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Great day exploring in and around Albania's Osum Canyon

We were back to beautiful blue sky weather yesterday. A great day to return to the Osum Canyon so that we could see some of the views from above. There were a few other things we wanted to see as well. It was lots of fun doing our river rafting trip yesterday, but it didn't give us the opportunity to stop and take photos along the way.

It's not that far from Berat to the start of the canyon at the town of Çorovoda... only about 50 kms (30 miles). But it's a twisty curvy road that goes through several villages, so it takes about an hour and a half.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Fantastic day river rafting in the spectacular Osum Canyon

We had seen pictures of Albania's Osum Canyon online, and it looked really cool. There are several viewpoints along the road, and we were looking forward to heading down there for day trip. There are also a few other things in the area we were also wanting to see.

Then we read that the only way to see the best parts of the canyon is river rafting! Coincidentally, April and May are the best time of year to do the river rafting in Albania, so we looked into it a little further.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Dentist update, and a walk around Berat

So, I went to my third dental appointment yesterday at noon. I was probably only in the chair for a half an hour or so. He was hoping to be able to finish the job yesterday, but one of the products he used has to set for a minimum of 24 hours, so I now have a fourth appointment, this final one is for Tuesday at noon.

I still can't believe the whole thing is only costing 5,000 lek. ($60 CAD, $48 USD, €40). He has a price list up on the wall, and of course it's all in Albanian, but the cheapest item on the list is 500 lek... 1/10th of what I am paying for my procedure.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Our travel medical insurance and other things

We had a time change here in Albania a week ago, and for some reason we just haven't been able to adjust. We're normally up between 6:30am and 7:00am every morning, but it was almost 8:00am when we got up Friday morning. Not sure what's going on... might have to start setting the alarm!

I wanted to tell you about our new travel medical insurance. 

For many years, we were self insured. In other words, if we needed to see a doctor, we would have to pay out of pocket. I know, most of you would be horrified. 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Unfortunately, we didn't get too far!

In case you missed yesterday's late in the day post, you can read it here...

https://www.travelwithkevinandruth.com/2021/04/dentist-update-and-berat-ethnographic.html

Thursday was another beautiful day, so we hopped in the car and did a short trip up into the mountains. Unfortunately, we didn't get too far!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Dentist update, and the Berat Ethnographic Museum

We published our March expense report earlier today. If you want to have a look, you can view it here... March Expense Report

You may have noticed that there was no expense for the visit to the dentist that I mentioned the other day. Well that's because it hasn't cost us anything ...yet! However, it's an interesting story...

March Expenses

After three very expensive months in a row, March's total doesn't seem that bad. It was still $3,665 CAD ($2,910 USD), which is higher than we'd like, but considering we started the month in Lushoto, Tanzania, and ended it in Berat, Albania we actually did pretty good.

And almost $1,700 was related to travel itself, so just under $2,000 for everything else. A little over budget, but not bad and you'll see why when you read the details below...

The Traveller’s 3-Step Guide To Keeping Busy On Any Adventure

So you’ve planned your next big trip. You’ve put together a jam-packed schedule filled with adventure and excitement, new sights to see and dazzling detours to explore, so staying busy should be easy, right? 

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

They say there’s never a dull moment, and though travel is an experience like no other, between those once-in-a-lifetime highlights you’ll remember for the rest of your life, you may occasionally find yourself faced with a little unexpected downtime on the road.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Well that was lucky!

When we flew from Dar es Salaam to Rome, we were forced by Qatar Airways to purchase a flight out of Albania. It's a long story, which you can read here, but essentially it meant that we were out of pocket €120 ($177 CAD, $141 USD) for nothing.

I've registered a formal complaint with Qatar Airways, because I think the manager in charge at the check in desk (not a Qatar Airways employee) was wrong both in his interpretation of the rules, and the way they handled the situation.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Staying in Berat another week

Our host lady Susana doesn't speak any English, so we do most of the communicating of anything important through her son using WhatsApp. 

So when I made the dentist appointment for 11:30am yesterday morning, I let him know because although he had given me the dentist's name and number, I didn't know where the office was. He said "oh, my mother will take you there".

And so that's what happened.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Off to the dentist!

The other day, I noticed a problem with a dental bridge that I have had in mouth since 2009. It was done in Chetumal, Mexico. So it's lasted 12 problem free years, which is better than I would have expected.

But something has happened with one of the anchor teeth. It's not causing me any pain, but I know there is something not right. So I contacted our host here at the Airbnb to see if he could recommend someone here in Berat to have a look at it.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

More great views around Berat, Albania

As was forecast, we woke up to another beautiful blue sky day. And the temperature is also rising as they said it would with an expected high of 18C (65F). That's near perfect hiking weather in our minds so we packed a lunch and set off across the river and up a hill with a different view.

The hill across the river is actually higher than the one that the castle is on.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Beautiful day to visit a castle with a view

Berat Castle isn't really a castle as such. It's more of a fortress... a walled village on top of a hill, and many people still live within the fortress. There's quite a bit to see, and at one time there were over 20 churches up there. There are also quite a few guest houses. Most of the buildings inside the fort were built in the 13th century, although there is evidence of occupation that goes back to 200 BC.

We were surprised that they actually charge a 300 lek ($3.60 CAD. $2.85 USD) per person entrance fee, but it's only applicable if you drive up and enter through the main gate. I had read that if you walk up using a path that the locals use to get from the castle to the city and back, then it's totally free. Of course we were going to hike up anyhow, so that's the route we took!

Friday, March 26, 2021

A beautiful day in Berat, Albania

We had two busy days in a row, so we didn't have anything strenuous planned on Thursday. We relaxed for the morning, and then went for a walk around town.

Our cottage is located right in the center of town, and there are a lot of walks we can do right from town so the rental car might end up parked the entire time we're here. It doesn't seem to make sense to pay for a car rental when the vehicle is just parked, but there is some logic to what we're doing.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Castles, hiking, and gorgeous scenery. What more could you want?

Wednesday was a travel day as we made our way south from Tirana to the city of Berat. It's only about 100 kms (60 miles) if you take the fastest route, but even the fastest route is still about an hour and forty minutes.

But we had some things we wanted to see and do along the way, plus we wanted to take a more scenic route on some less traveled roads.

Great Ocean Road: A fascinating road trip in the world

Great Ocean Road is one of the most famous road trips in the world. The route of 243 kilometres will captivate you with the culmination, of course, of the 12 Apostles. There may be only 8 left to date, but they are just as impressive. Along the way, you will enjoy the Pacific Ocean and surfers trying to tame the huge waves. Also, in the area, you can do activities such as cycling, water sports, horseback riding and a helicopter flight over the area of ​​12 Apostles.

The road trip to Great Ocean Road is unique because the variety of nature is so huge that you can see rainforests, ocean surfers, wildlife and waterfalls all the way to its end. The choices in activities are tremendous and cover all tastes. You can go hiking, mountain biking and see museums or cultural heritage sites. You also can see ostriches, koalas and kangaroos and taste nice seafood and good wine in some of its depots. Great Ocean Road is a 90-minute drive from Melbourne city centre.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Day trip to the coastal city of Durres, Albania

We woke up to blue sky and sunshine on Tuesday morning, and that kind of weather is supposed to stay with us for a while now here in Albania!

So we hopped in the car, put our sunglasses on, and headed for the nearby coastal city of Durres.

Durres is Albania's second largest city next to Tirana. Tirana is 500,000, and Durres is about 175,000. But because it's located only 35 kms (22 miles) away, it's pretty built up the whole drive.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Despite some issues, we still really like the city of Tirana, Albania

The rain finally stopped after lunch yesterday, but it was around 2:30pm before we felt it was clearing enough to risk going for a walk. We planned a route that would take us along the small Lana River that flows through the city.

Our maps.me app showed that there were walking paths on both sides of the river. And in the downtown core, we knew that was the case. But when we arrived at the section of the river that is closest to our apartment, it was disappointing.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Traffic circle entertainment

It was a rain day yesterday, and we only left the apartment to go downstairs to the grocery store that is located next door.

Fortunately, we have an unlimited supply of internet... and some entertainment right from our balcony. This area has some road construction going on, and when you couple that with the fact that there aren't very many parking spots it makes for some pretty chaotic traffic. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

I guess it just doesn't bother most people

Saturday's forecast was for overcast and scattered showers. That's supposed to be the way it is through to Monday now. But then clearing and warming up through the week.

It's so nice having an unlimited supply of internet. So we spent yesterday morning researching where we want to go from here. There's a lot we want to see in this area, and the area north of here, but those parts of the country are going to be better in a couple of weeks time, so we are going to head south and stay away from the mountains until mid April when the hiking will be better there.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Our first day trip in Albania

While we are itching to get up into the mountains to do some hiking, there is still too much snow up there. The temperatures are definitely trending upwards though, and we'll get there eventually. In the meantime, we are sticking closer to the coast.

The capital city of Tirana where we are currently staying is located only 35 kms (22 miles) from the coast. And it is even closer to the start of the mountains. It's such a great location. The only issue we are noticing is traffic getting in and out of the city itself.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Could we live here?

Thursday was pretty much a day of rest, although we did get out to pick up a few more supplies. Now that we are back to making most of our own meals, there are a lot of kitchen preparation items that we need to keep with us.

And I need a haircut, but I'm not going to go out of my way to get one. We walked by two different barber shops yesterday, but one was more of a salon, and the other already had someone in the chair with a couple of people waiting.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Like Vancouver. But far cheaper, and with nicer weather

We were supposed to check out of our central Tirana apartment at 10:00am, but when I sent our host a message to confirm, he said we could stay until 11:00am. Which was nice, because we couldn't check into our new place on the outskirts until after 3:00pm.

At 11:00am, we locked all of our things into the car and headed off to do some more exploring. There is a beautiful big park located only a kilometer or so south, so we set off to check it out.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The city of Tirana, and first impressions of Albania

Albania's population is about 2.8 million people, and about 500,000 of them live here in the capital city of Tirana. The country itself is only slightly larger than the state of Vermont!

Yesterday was our first day in Albania, and if the first day is any indication, we are going to LOVE Albania! Now of course it's only been one day, but so far it comes across as a mixture between Turkey and Romania, and we loved both of those countries.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Arrived in Albania... country #41 for us!

When we left you off in yesterday's blog post we had arrived in Doha, Qatar for a two and a half hour layover.

Oh, I forgot to tell you about our luggage. We are traveling with a small backpack each, and a carry on size suitcase each. When we checked in for our original flight in Dar es Salaam, they told us they were marking our checked bags to include the flight to Tirana on a different carrier. I didn't think that was possible, and that we would have to pick them up in Rome, but they insisted it would work.

Monday, March 15, 2021

The plan is coming together, but not without some hiccups...

Writing this from FCO (Rome) Airport in Italy. It is now Monday afternoon at around 2:00pm local time. We are here waiting for our connecting flight to Tirana, Albania later this afternoon.

When we left our apartment in Dar es Salaam, we had to be out by 11:00am, but our flight wasn't until 9:30pm. So we just went to the airport and hung out. We took an Uber taxi from the house, and we couldn't believe how cheap it was. For the 12 km (7.5 mile) trip, it cost 10,500 shillings ($5.65 CAD, $4.50 USD). I thought they made a mistake, but our host had told us it was the cheapest way.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

I'm not normally a negative person

But today, we are quite happy to be negative!

On Saturday, a mere 28 hours after being tested, we received an email and a text message from the National Public Health Laboratory here in Tanzania. 

We are NEGATIVE.

The very official looking certificate was dated March 13th so we are well within the 96 hour window given by our airline for compliance with their rules.

So... we are definitely off to Albania!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

So now we wait

Yesterday was Covid PCR test day. 

We are flying to Albania on Sunday evening, and although the country itself does not require any sort of testing as a requirement for entry, we are flying with Qatar Airways and they require a negative Covid PCR test certificate that has been done within 96 hours of boarding the plane.

So we made appointments to have the tests done at the nearby Muhumbili University Hospital. You book the day, but not the time. They said they take samples between 8am and 5pm, and we wanted to show up right at 8am.

Friday, March 12, 2021

It's better to keep your expectations low so that you're not disappointed

The problem with spending six days in Dar es Salaam is that it's about four days too many! There's really not a lot worth seeing, and of course it's so hot that it's not really enjoyable just to go out and wander around. Which is too bad, because there are interesting things to see just watching people get on with their daily lives.

So, we force ourselves to go out and get some exercise. On Thursday, we walked over to the Botanical Gardens. Ruth had read that it wasn't anything special, and that it would have been better after rainy season. 

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Visit to the hospital

We woke up yesterday morning with no power in our little apartment. So far, in our experience in Tanzania, the power goes out regularly, so we didn't think anything of it. After an hour or so, I went outside and noticed that the air conditioning was running in the apartment next to us!

So I sent a message to our host, and he was on it right away. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Back in civilization!

Our main reason for being here in Dar es Salaam so early is that we are flying with Qatar Airways this coming Sunday, and the airline themselves require a negative PCR test done within 96 hours prior to boarding your flight. There's not a lot of accurate detailed information available online regarding where to get the test, or how much it costs. So we wanted to get here with lots of time to spare in order to figure things out.

The government has a website to register for booking your test, but all it does is list the different centers that take the samples. The samples are then sent to the main government laboratory for analysis, and your results are posted online within 24 hours. Or at least that's the way things are supposed to work.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

You never know what to expect on a travel day

I've said it before... travel days are always interesting. It's probably the reason I never sleep very well the night before a travel day, You just never know what's going to happen or what's going to go wrong. And sometimes (it does happen occasionally!) we are surprised when everything goes according to plan!

We were up early because we had prearranged with our taxi guy in Tanga to pick us up at 7:00am. Sure enough, he arrived at about 6:50am, so the day was off to a good start.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

We are off to the big city

We are up early this Monday morning because our taxi guy is picking us up at 7:00am!

On Sunday, we walked into town to what we thought was where we could buy tickets for today's bus ride. But it turns out that sometime in the last four months that particular bus company moved, and I could not find any current information online. But, we asked some questions and found that we had to head another kilometer to a different bus line.

Once we get into our new motorhome, what's the plan?

Of course it's too soon to make any firm plans, and whatever we end up doing will depend totally on what time of year it is. We know that we will have maximum three months in Albania, so that brings us up to June 15th or so. With any luck at all, hopefully we will be allowed into Germany by then so that we can pick up our new motorhome.

If that happens at that time, our plan is to head north!

Saturday, March 6, 2021

The highlights of Tanga

Despite the heat, we figured we had better get out and see the highlights of the city. We thought about riding the bikes over to the beach area, but while it's a slight downhill the whole way there, it would be a slight uphill the whole way back! 

So we decided to walk the 7 kms (4.3 miles) one way, find somewhere to have a meal, and then take a taxi back.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Biding our time

We came to Tanzania specifically to hike Kilimanjaro, and we honestly figured we could take up the balance of two months here without much problem. And that is certainly doable... if you have lots of money to spend.

But doing Tanzania on a tight budget is not that enjoyable. Now that we have our flights to Albania booked for March 14th, we feel like we are just biding our time until we can get out of here.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Paying for our new motorhome

Sometimes the logistics of making a big purchase in a far away country can be a little overwhelming. 

I remember when we bought our truck and camper in Australia how we jumped through hoops trying to follow all the right procedures. After all, we were physically in Mexico at the time... and we were buying an Australian vehicle by paying a Swiss bank from our Canadian bank. 

And, we didn't want to get taken advantage of by the big banks in Canada. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Well, there's that mess sorted out... for now...

Unimpressed with KLM. 

I was double checking our flight times and I went into "manage bookings" on the KLM website yesterday morning. I happened to notice that the first leg of our flights from Dar es Salaam to Amsterdam was showing as "Cancelled". 

Hmph. I hadn't received any email from KLM telling me they had cancelled my flights. I wonder when I would have found out if I hadn't been checking for something else.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Travel days are always interesting

We were up at 6:30am Monday morning.

There are no "scheduled" buses that run between Lushoto and Tanga. We had asked around a few days earlier, and it seems that beginning at 7:00am or so, they depart every ten minutes "or so". Considering it's a distance of 168 kms (104 miles), we thought that was an awfully lot of buses, but it turned out to be accurate based on our experience.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

February Expenses

Well, February was another expensive month, but we knew that it would be. And, it's all related to our Kilimanjaro climb at the beginning of the month. Otherwise, it was actually not bad!

Ruth's "bucket list item" has now been completed, and until we go see the polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba (one of my bucket list items) we are done with that kind of extravagant discretionary spending. 

Beautiful views in all directions

Before we get into our beautiful hike yesterday, we need to tell you some good news!

I had mentioned a few days ago that Ruth's laptop wouldn't start up. Other than hearing the fan run, there was no screen, no nothing. She's been trying to start it up every couple of days just in the hopes that something might happen, but with no luck. 

Until yesterday morning.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

A guy died on Kilimanjaro this week

Just happened to notice this come up in my news feed. 

A bit of an odd story. This guy was a fairly famous adventurer in his home country of Poland. He kayaked across the Atlantic Ocean three different times, the last one when he was 71 years old.

So now, here he was at 74 years old climbing Kilimanjaro. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Getting our new motorhome ready

Of course we have resigned ourselves to the fact that we won't actually get to use our new motorhome for another couple of months (or more!), but that doesn't mean there aren't things going on in the background getting it ready for us.

While it's been sitting on the lot in Germany waiting for us since it arrived there in late November, we are now close enough to being able to use it that we don't want to leave things to the last minute. So we have authorized the dealership to go ahead with getting it ready for us.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The children are hilarious

Wednesday morning, we set out towards another viewpoint. The rain they had been calling for was now just clouds with the odd sunny break. Not the best conditions to go to an overlook, but we needed some exercise!

It's so easy to walk in this area. The dirt roads hardly have any vehicles on them, and when there is a vehicle, it's a motorcycle. Motorcycles are used as basic public transportation in Tanzania... you just hop on the back, and the driver takes you where ever you want to go.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Organizing our next stop

While we've thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and the hiking here in Lushoto area, two weeks is enough.

Our accommodation had been overall good, although a bit quirky. It's a very old house, and it needs a lot of work. There are quite a few critters living in the house along with us! And the "staff", while very friendly and helpful when we have questions, don't really seem to actually do very much. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Usambara Mountains - Do you need a guide?

We normally like to travel and explore on our own. But that's just us, and we realize that it seems like many (most?) people prefer to hire a guide. Here in Tanzania, it is definitely more common for visitors to hire a guide where ever they go. 

When I was doing research regarding hiking in the Usambara Mountains area where we are right now, most references were regarding guided trips. And sure, if you're going to do 3 to 5 day excursions, then it's probably best to have someone organize it for you.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Official change of plans

In December, we had booked our flight out of Tanzania for March 21st, with a destination of Dusseldorf, Germany. We had some faint hope of possibly being able to pick up our new motorhome at that time. Now, with only four weeks to go before our scheduled flight, we highly doubt that the entrance restrictions to Germany will be lifted by that time.

Our flight with KLM was fully flexible, with no change fees. So the only extra would be whatever the fare difference was to fly somewhere else. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

We got a little wet, but it's only water

We've had a good first week of weather since we arrived here in Lushoto on February 13th. Unfortunately, the second week isn't looking quite so good.

We had done a reasonable 12 km walk on Friday, and we would have taken Saturday as an off day, but with them calling for some rain on Sunday, and in fact every day for the next week, we figured we had better get out and do another decent walk before getting shut in due to rain.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Every time we turn a corner there is another beautiful view

"Do you know that you live in one of the most beautiful places in the world?"

That's the question I want to ask some of the people we bump into. Maybe they do know... for the most part, they are all smiling and happy!

The other day we met a young couple from Finland. He said they had been pretty much all over Tanzania, but they returned to Lushoto because it's the best place they found.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Both of our meals were delicious!

We've been scheduling our activities here so that every second day we go for a nice hike. The off days, we still get out, but just for a wander around town and to find something to eat.

We tried a new restaurant yesterday, and it's the best one yet. There are two other ones in town that get good reviews, but from what I've read they are both western style restaurants and with western style prices. One is actually a pizza joint... Momma Mia's! And it definitely caters to the visitors... most locals wouldn't be able to afford the place.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

We got caught... but we still had a good day!

We tried to get an earlier start on Wednesday and managed to get out of the house by about 9:30am. The real heat of the day seems to peak at about 2:00pm, so we were trying to get home before then. 

We were headed towards another trail that I had found on my maps.me app and it had mentioned both a cave and a viewpoint. Uphill every step of the way, but it was a fairly gradual incline until right at the end when there was a short steep section.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

If you are going to travel during these times

I've said it before... if you are going to travel during these times, you need to be flexible. Fortunately, we are totally flexible!

We have tickets to fly from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania through Amsterdam to Dusseldorf, Germany on March 21st. The plan when we booked them back in December was to pick up our new motorhome towards the end of March.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Beautiful scenery, and laptop problems!

Ruth turned on her laptop yesterday morning, and the screen was doing funny things. So she shut it down again and restarted it. Except this time, nothing happened. On closer inspection, you can hear the fan come on and off... but nothing happens on the screen. This laptop doesn't have an easily removable battery, other wise I would try taking out the battery and resetting things.

We have tried everything that we know how to do, but nothing changes. I'm afraid we won't be able to get it repaired until we make it to Europe. I'm sure there is somewhere in the big city of Dar es Salaam, but we weren't planning on being there until the end of our Tanzania trip anyhow.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Our first walk around the area. There is lots to see!

Our accommodation here had advertised free WiFi, but it turns out that's not entirely true. Yes, there is a WiFi signal in the house, but it's coming from a cellular router. Because there is no telephone line infrastructure, everything is done via cellular, including household internet. So our internet here is limited by the size of the bundle purchased. 

It's relatively cheap though, and I did offer to contribute to a larger package that will last us for our time here. So we should have no problem staying in touch with you.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Where we are staying for the next two weeks

Yesterday's post was a little late, so if you missed it you can read it here first...

https://www.travelwithkevinandruth.com/2021/02/long-day-to-get-to-usambara-mountains.html

So, the taxi was bringing us along this dirt track that was not much wider than a walking path. I had seen pictures of the property, so I kind of knew what to expect, but from the looks of this path I wasn't sure we were heading in the right direction!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Long day to get to the Usambara Mountains

Unlike Turkey, Tanzania is not an easy country to navigate. 

Unless of course you pay the big dollars and get a tour company to do everything for you, which is the way most people visit Tanzania. Trying to do it on your own can be frustrating and is often more expensive than it should be anyhow.

So on Friday, we had gone downtown with our friend Justin to buy bus tickets from Arusha to Lushoto in the Usambara Mountains.

Friday, February 12, 2021

What's up next?

We've just been relaxing the past few days since our return from the top of Kilimanjaro. The weather here in Arusha hasn't been great. Rain on and off, and hard at times. So we've been doing some computer work and getting caught up on things from our almost a week away. And, we've been doing some planning to figure out what we're going to do next!

We are so close to Serengeti National Park. Just about any tourist who comes to Arusha is here because it's the set off point for safaris in the Serengeti. But apparently we are not "just anybody"...

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Kilimanjaro Day 6 - The final descent

Wow. We are a little overwhelmed by all the comments on yesterday's post. Thank you all so much.

You would think we would have slept like a rock on our final night after the marathon of hiking we had done the day before. And I think we did sleep well... until one of the nearby camps started making noise at about 3:30am.

We had wanted to get up early... but not that early! We still had an 11 km (6.8 mile) downhill hike to get to the exit gate where a van and a nice lunch would be waiting for us. But we still managed to toss and turn a bit until we finally got up around 6:00am.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Kilimanjaro Day 5 - Barafu Camp to the Uhuru Peak Summit 19,350' altitude

We were woken up at 11:30pm and fed a hot drink of ginger tea to warm us up a bit for our planned six hour hike in the darkness up to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro... Uhuru Peak, located at 5,895 meters (19,350 feet) altitude.

Why are we hiking in the dark? It's a common question, and there are actually a few reasons.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Kilimanjaro Day 4 - Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp 15,330' altitude

This is day 4 of our Mt. Kilimanjaro hike, and if you're just checking in with us now you may have missed day 1, day 2, and day 3. You really should read them first!

Because of the upcoming bad weather, it was going to be a long day. We were going to skip right by our originally planned stop at Karanga Camp, and continue on up the mountain to the Barafu Camp where we would spend the night at 4,673 meters (15,330 feet).

First thing we had to do was conquer Barranco Wall.

Kilimanjaro Day 3 - Shira Cave Camp to Barranco Camp 13,050' altitude

We were up at 6:30am again. A fairly big day ahead of us as we were going to hike up to Lava Tower at 4,630 meters (15,190 feet) in time for lunch, and then back down the other side to Barranco Camp at 3,976 meters (13,050 feet) over a total distance of 9.7 kms (6.0 miles). 

They made us a packed lunch, and we got going at about 8:10am.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Kilimanjaro Day 2 - Machame Camp to Shira Cave Camp 12,300' altitude

The guys got us up at 6:30am and we did some washing up and had a good breakfast. There was always hot water for tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, and lots of fruit and millet porridge every day. I ate my fill, but I have to say that I would be happy to never see a bowl of millet porridge again. My mother used to make it when we were kids, and I didn't enjoy it then either! Then there would be some eggs and sausage and some kind of casava bread. The cook was well aware of Ruth's gluten free diet.

By 8:20am, we set off for a 5 km (3 mile) hike that would bring us up another 878 meters (3,000') in altitude.

21 Weirdest Ways To Make Money

 Are you looking for ways to make extra money to help you get by? Believe it or not, there are a lot of things you can do to generate income. As crazy as the following ideas may sound, they might work well for you. So, why not try these out:

Sell Jellyfish

It is unlikely for you to find someone who has a pet jellyfish as they certainly are not the cuddliest. However, there is a market for jellyfish, and they are quite costly. In fact, the cheapest one there runs around $330, including a small tank and some food good for three months.