Nice sunset view as we pass over London, England, on our way to Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Hiking in Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Porto, Portugal on June 25th!

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Mt. Meru hike... what did it cost? And other stuff...

We've spent the last two days recuperating from the Mt. Meru hike, and preparing ourselves for our upcoming Kilimanjaro hike that leaves on Tuesday February 2nd. 

In fact on Friday, we never even left the apartment! 

Our host Justin has a local girl Janet (24, we think) come in to cook and clean and she looks after our laundry as well. It's pretty inexpensive to have this all done for us when you get the local prices, so we give her a 10,000 shilling ($5.50 CAD, $4.30 USD) tip every now and again which pretty much doubles her daily wage.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Mt. Meru Hike... the animals

The last day of our 4 day 3 night hike up Mt. Meru was really great. Our park ranger Dominic agreed to take us on a route that went through an area where we would see a waterfall and a high chance of seeing some of the animals that call Arusha National Park home.

We were woken up at 6:30am at Mariakamba Hut. Had a good sleep and felt much better! Ready for the 6.8 km (4.2 mile) hike down to the entrance gate with a short detour to a waterfall along the way.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Mt. Meru Tanzania Hike day 3... that was tough!

If you haven't already, you really should read day 1 and day 2 of this hike!

Before we get into the summit hike itself, I wanted to explain a little bit about Mt. Meru. It's a dormant volcano that had half of its cone somehow collapse 8,000 years ago. So the remaining part of the cone is what we were climbing. You make your way up and along the ridge of the cone itself, with the 2,000 meter (6,600 feet) sheer cliff walls on one side, and a steep volcanic slope on the other side.

Mt. Meru hike day two... the next level!

If you missed day one, you will want to start reading here...

Because of our late start on day one, we had not arrived at Mariakamba Hut until about 6:30pm Monday evening. The first day hike had not been that strenuous and we were feeling pretty good. We had done about 9 kms (5.5 miles) uphill, rising in altitude 915 meters (3,000').

Our ranger Dominic had set a fairly slow pace and we weren't doing much more than 2 km/h. They really stress that you need to go slowly for proper acclimatisation, and a higher chance of success of achieving the summit. 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Mt. Meru, Tanzania hike... day one

I'm going to post each day of our four days away as a separate post. But I will try to post twice a day to get us caught up, so try to remember to check back so you don't miss anything! 

Lots of photos for you. Don't forget that you can click on the photo to make it full screen!

So, day one started with us being picked up at our apartment by the safari vehicle from our tour operator at Rwalinda Tours. They arrived with two of our porters, and our head guide.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Ready for our Mt. Meru trek!

By the time most of you read this, we will be well on our way through the first day of our 4 day, 3 night trek up Africa's 5th highest and Tanzania's 2nd highest mountain, Mt. Meru.

Our guide and our chef were over at the apartment on Sunday going over some things with us. They are very detailed, and want to make sure you are prepared. I get the impression that they have come across people who have definitely not been prepared.

Nice hike on the outskirts of Arusha. Beautiful scenery!

We met one of our porters yesterday. Abdallah is 24 years old and wants to work his way up to being a guide. He has taken the guide courses at the local college and is now beginning actual training. He is also learning Chinese because there are a growing number of Chinese tourists coming to Tanzania and there are no guides who can speak Chinese. 

Justin set things up so that Abdallah would spend the day with us doing a hike to a waterfall about 10 kms (6 miles) away from our apartment.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Exploring Arusha, and seeing how the other half lives

We hung around the apartment in the morning, and then at lunch time we had made plans to meet our new friends Ryan and Marti at an Indian curry restaurant in the central area. 

It was about a 3 km (1.8 mile) walk from the apartment to the center of Arusha so we set off at 12 noon for our 12:30pm lunch.

Friday, January 22, 2021

It was a long, interesting day!

I believe that every day here in Tanzania will be an interesting day. There is so much going on, everywhere we look!

We will be doing our four night Mt. Meru hike starting on Monday, and our seven night Mt. Kilimanjaro hike starting on February 2. So Justin said we had better get our gear set up for the two hikes. For that, we had to do the 80 km (50 mile) drive from Arusha to Moshi.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

First day in Tanzania

Our plane had arrived at just before 10:00am, so despite the fact that we were pretty tired, we still had the whole day ahead of us. Our contact Justin drove us and our new friends Marti and Ryan into the big city of Arusha (pop 500,000). Arusha is typically the main start off point for anybody doing Serengeti safaris.

We stopped at the big Mt. Meru Hotel where we dropped off Marti and Ryan and exchanged contact info. We hope to see them again on Friday. They will be climbing Kilimanjaro a week or so before us, so we are excited to see how they make out.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Made it to Tanzania!

The last blog post ended with us sitting in Istanbul (SAW) airport waiting for our Qatar Airways to Doha, Qatar.

We boarded on time and the plane was maybe one third full. We have to say, what a great way to travel. Qatar Airways has been voted Airline of the Year five different times. Essentially, they are an award winning airline! So combine that standard with the fact that the plane was only a third full, and you get some pretty good customer service!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Sitting in Istanbul Airport

Writing this note from the boarding gate for our second flight of the day, going from Istanbul, Turkey to Doha, Qatar.

We were up at 5am this morning and by 6am we were on our way to the airport.

Our flight didn't leave until 10:25am, but we were told to get there early because of Covid etc, etc... then of course we sat around and waited for almost two hours for the bag drop to open!

And the airport wasn't at all busy. In fact, the exact opposite. There were four flights leaving all day!

We got there early, and had to sit around only to find out that the WiFi wasn't working. They only have one machine where you have to scan your boarding card to get access, and it was located outside the gate area. Ridiculous in this day and age.

Anyhow, the flight was almost full. I saw maybe six or eight empty seats. Everybody was really good about mask wearing, unlike our easyJet flight from the UK back in October. The only thing we both still find funny (odd? stupid?) are the people who want to rip off their seatbelt and jam themselves into the aisle as soon as the plan lands. Doesn't make any sense to us at all, but obviously we are in the minority.

Other than that, it was an uneventful one hour flight to Istanbul's SAW airport.

We had lots of time to waste before our 5:55pm flight to Doha, Qatar. But we couldn't go past passport control because the bag drop wouldn't open until almost 3:00pm! Oh well.

We finally got that done, and went to go through passport control. Of course our visas expired eight or nine days ago, and sure enough we got sent to immigration. We explained the story, and produced the letter from the doctor but that made no difference at all. He siad the only thing that would matter is if you were held up due to Covid!

Then he said "the fine will be 1,034 lira ($177 CAD, $139 USD) each". Yikes!

But he then explained we don't have to pay it now. In fact, we would only have to pay it if we come back within three months and then it would apply towards residency. Very strange, and we didn't quite get it. His English wasn't the best and he was trying to explain it through Google Translate.

But either way, it doesn't cost us anything right now, and if there are repercussions of any kind we will deal with them the next time we return to Turkey, possibly two years from now.

So we were cleared through passport control and on to the waiting area where we are now.

There are a few more international departures from this airport, but not many.

Here's an airport selfie for you!

Gotta go... we will update you again from Doha, Qatar!

Nice price drop on the Fire HD 10.

And in Canada...

Monday, January 18, 2021

Drive from Antalya to Fethiye, and an encounter with the Turkish police.

We were a little late leaving yesterday. Had the car all packed up and ready to go by 11:00am, but our Airbnb host was a little late coming to get the key, and then we stood and had a nice chat with him for a while before leaving. But, we knew there would be very little traffic, it was only a 200 km (124 mile) drive, and we couldn't check in to our apartment in Fethiye until after 4:00pm.

Again, weekends are on lockdown for the Turkish people, but foreign tourists are exempt. We figured being on the highway there might be stop checks.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Time to move on, and the plan for the next few days

Well, it's moving day today! And we definitely feel like it's time to move on. We've been in this apartment in Antalya for exactly one month! It was almost starting to feel like our apartment.

Yesterday was our final eye doctor appointment, and everything is the way it should be so we are cleared to travel. Of course we still have eye drops to take for the next month or so.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

There are so many neat things to see in the world!

And we saw another one of them yesterday.

We had read about the constantly burning fires at Mount Chimaera. And they are located on the Lycian Way hiking route, so we made a plan to do the hour and a half drive down to that section of the trail where we could access the fires area from below. 

Friday, January 15, 2021

It wasn't in the plan to visit any ruins... so it was a nice bonus!

In the morning, we went downtown to pick up our new glasses. Yes, we can do 90% of what we want to do without glasses. But we knew going into this eye surgery that the final results were not going to be perfect.

For me (Kevin), my left eye is pretty much perfect. But while my right eye has perfect near vision (it's actually amazing!), the distance vision is not yet. And it never will be, except that my brain hasn't quite caught on to that. And until it does, I am better to wear glasses for driving.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

We finally made it to Old Town, Antalya

Most visitors to Antalya probably make it to Old Town on their very first day in the city. We've been here for almost a month, and we finally made it there yesterday! But we know, we're not normal.

It's hard to believe we've spent a full month here. Of course most of that is because of our eye surgery, but it's also because there's a lot to see, and it's a nice city... as far as cities go.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Hair cuts and a visit with friends

That's definitely the longest I've gone without a haircut for quite a while. The last time it was cut was the week before we left Canada, so over three months ago.

Ruth and I met when she cut my hair. And over the next 30 years, she was the only one who cut my hair! When we are traveling in a motorhome, she has her hair cutting gear with her. But otherwise, it's not so easy. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Out for some more exploring

Yesterday was a bit of a dreary day, but it never did rain, and it most certainly didn't snow. The temperature went up to about 19C (66F), but there was no sunshine at all. There was also no wind at all.

We drove east through the city of Antalya and headed to the city of Side (pronounced See-deh).

There are two parts to Side... one is the beach resort area, and the other is the remains of the ancient city of Side.

Monday, January 11, 2021

It occurred to me that we are going to be 60 soon

An interesting thing happened the other day.

I looked in the mirror, and actually saw myself.

I didn't say anything to Ruth, but the funny thing was, a few hours later Ruth said she had the same experience!

Of course it was because we were no longer wearing glasses, and the person we saw in the mirror was actually in focus. Those of you who wear glasses may never experience seeing your face clearly without having those glasses on.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

There is no Covid in Tanzania!

Tanzania's president has thanked a visiting Chinese minister for not wearing a mask, claiming it proves there's no coronavirus in the country.

From a BBC news article issued yesterday.

Yeah, okay.

So apparently it's going to be an interesting visit for us to Tanzania, one of the few countries in the world where life at this time goes on pretty much "normally". 

I've been following the stories of a few other travelers who are either in Tanzania or have been there over the past six months. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

The largest cave in Turkey... and we were the only ones there!

Ruth packed us a lunch, and we set off heading due north out of the city towards a cave that I had read about. One of the things that attracted me to this particular cave was that one of the reviews said "you will be the only ones there except for the cows"!

How could Turkey's largest cave get so few visitors? From looking at the map, I assumed it was because of the 3.8 km (2.4 mile) uphill hike to get there. We were overdue for some exercise, so we were looking forward to the hike.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Beach walk - Antalya

We had planned on driving about an hour and a half south to Mount Chimaera, but we were late getting going, and it was market day so we had to get some fruits and veggies at some point. We decided to put off the Mount Chimarea visit and go do our groceries and then just go down to the big beach here in Antalya and go for a walk.

Besides, it was a hazy day, so there likely wouldn't have been much scenery to admire at Mount Chimaera. It was pleasant though, and it got warmer than they had forecast.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Waterfalls around Antalya, Turkey

It was looking like another decent day yesterday with a forecast high of 20C (68F) and cloudy with sunny breaks. So we set off to do some more exploring.

There are several waterfalls in the area of Antalya, so we planned a route to include two of the more popular ones. The first one is within the city limits, but not the downtown area. It's called Upper Duden Waterfalls. We had been to the Lower Duden Waterfalls a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Eye surgery... all the details

On Monday afternoon we went back for a follow up appointment regarding our eye surgery. Bottom line, everything is proceeding exactly the way it should be. But there is more to it, so for anybody considering the same thing, here are ALL the details...

What we had done is called Refractive Lens Exchange.

It's exactly the same surgery as cataract surgery, with one difference. We didn't have cataracts.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Finally... out for some more exploring!

The weekend lockdown was over, and it was a half decent day from a weather perspective. So we were itching to get out and do some exploring. It's all fine and good to get this eyesight thing done, but between that and the lockdowns and the weather, we haven't had a chance to do nearly as much exploring in this area as we wanted to. 

So on Monday morning, we hopped in the car and drove up into the mountains behind Antalya.

Monday, January 4, 2021

An easier way to keep track of our spending

Ruth and I keep track of every penny we spend. We were doing that even when we had "normal" lives. We found that it was easier to see where frivolous spending was going, and where we could cut back. And doing it daily meant that we could easily see if we were overspending, and when it was time to cut back.

In the old days, it was a simple piece of paper... adding everything up by hand. Then it the late 1990's we got a computer and that made things a little easier. As time went on, I made myself an Excel spreadsheet that keeps annual track of our spending.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Strange to go out for a walk during lockdown

On Saturday, we contacted our Airbnb host here in Antalya and once again extended our stay. Because of our eye surgery and the weekend lockdowns, we haven't had a chance to explore the area nearly as much as we wanted to. So rather than moving on just for the sake of moving on, we decided to stay put.

We thought about getting another place further east of here, and driving back for our eye doctor appointments, but we are really happy with the apartment. It's got a comfortable bed, and fast, consistent WiFi... and it's only 125 lira ($21.50 CAD, $16.85 USD) per night. 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

And yesterday at dinner time, a new season began!

When we were traveling in our motorhome and it was just the two of us, playing Backgammon while having a drink at happy hour became a regular thing. And then at dinner time we would play a couple of games of Yahtzee while eating dinner.

But when you travel as light as we normally do, it's not easy to travel with a Backgammon board! However, it's very easy to bring along five dice to play Yahtzee.

Friday, January 1, 2021

December Expenses - Yikes! And 2020 financial review...

Well at first glance, it looks like we had a really expensive month. In fact, our most expensive month ever.

We spent a total of $8,847 CAD ($6,943 USD).

However, a more detailed look reveals that it wasn't too bad. A big chunk of that expense was to have our eye surgery done. And we consider that an investment, not an expense. (I will talk a little more about that another day.) So we could remove $6,097 CAD ($4,785 USD) right there.