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, December 31, 2023

Happy New Year 2024!

One of the reasons we paid the extra to have accommodation right in the center of Kuala Lumpur was because we were coincidentally going to be here for New Year's Eve. And Kuala Lumpur is one of the world's great New Years Eve destinations. 

There is normally a midnight fireworks show at the iconic Petronas Twin Towers to ring in the new year, however that was cancelled this year as they unfortunately politicized the event due to the war in the middle east. They said we should not be celebrating while others in the world are suffering. However, some private enterprises here in Kuala Lumpur stepped up to the plate and we got to ring in the new year with fireworks anyhow.

Highlights of 2023. The Year in Review...

At the end of 2022, I wrote "2023 is going to be just as good"... and boy, was it ever!

We started 2023 in Granada, Spain and ended it in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. With 18 other countries in between! We were in 20 countries in total in 2023, with 10 of them being new countries for us, bringing our total countries visited list up to 67!

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Welcome to Malaysia, country #67 for us!

With a 9:10am flight departure time, we left the hotel at about 6:30am. We originally thought about taking a Grab taxi, but there was hardly any traffic so we decided to walk to the airport. From the hotel it was just under 2 kms so we were still there by 7:00am.

We were already checked in online, but we had to check our carry on bags. We found the check in counter for AirAsia, and we were surprised to find that there was a huge line. This is when we almost made a rookie mistake!

Friday, December 29, 2023

Back to Chiang Mai

We needed to get back to Chiang Mai, and had originally thought our host would be driving us back to the main highway, and we would take the local transportation back to the city.

But the young couple, Jorrit and Mei, we had said hello to the day before had a car, and so we asked if they were heading back that morning hoping we could hop in with them. It turned out that they were, but they were making a side trip to a waterfall. "But you are welcome to join us", they said!

Thursday, December 28, 2023

It's all about the money

With sore bums from the ride the day before, we hopped back on the bicycles for the 8 kms (5 mile) ride to the Wat Ban Den Temple Complex. Yes, we've seen a lot of temples (there are 37,000 of them in Thailand), but this one was supposed to be something special.

And it was!

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Well, everything was going smoothly...

We went down for breakfast at 8:30am. Not quite as special as the breakfasts we had at the last place, but still sufficient... scrambled eggs, toast, coffee, and fruit. Right after breakfast, our host Pohn told us that they had to make a trip to the Myanmar border, and that we were on our own and to make ourselves at home.

He had left three older bikes out for us to choose from, and said there was no charge.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Now this is more our style!

At 8:00am Tuesday, we set up the laptop for a Christmas Day video call with the family. Of course it was Monday evening back in Canada, and with participants spread out between Nova Scotia and Alberta, there are a few time zones involved.  But, we got everybody online at the same time and there were seven different video screens open. Certainly amazing technology that allows us to do this from anywhere in the world!

We had one last great breakfast at the Chedi Home Guesthouse in Chiang Mai, and then set out walking with all of our worldly belongings.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Moving to the countryside

Our original plan was to stay at this guesthouse in Chiang Mai until the 30th, but when I booked, they were sold out after the 26th. This has turned out to be a good thing, since we've had enough of Chiang Mai and are taking our last three nights here out in the countryside!

The guesthouse itself has been great. But our first impressions of Chiang Mai have stuck with us. It's not for us. Far too busy, too big, too touristy, too much traffic, not easily walkable... we're just not seeing the attraction.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Merry Christmas from Thailand!

It's Christmas morning as I write this here in Thailand. And Christmas Eve in all of North America where the majority of our readers are located. Millions of kiddies will wake up with excitement and big smiles on their faces in the morning!

From the weather reports, it's looking like a green Christmas in our hometown of Ottawa. Not that rare of an event, as there have been about 15 of them since the 1950's. And it's most certainly a green Christmas here in Thailand!

Saturday, December 23, 2023

What's on the agenda for 2024...?

I noticed that our friends Linda and Steven over at The Chouters posted their upcoming plans for 2024, and yesterday was a quiet day for us so I thought we'd take this opportunity to do the same.

Our plans are always pretty flexible though, so don't take all of this as being written in stone! 

Friday, December 22, 2023

Temple tunnels, and met some other Canadian senior nomads

We had originally planned to go on a hike, but ended up going to a temple instead. Personally, I'm already "templed out". They begin to all look the same after a while, so unless there is something special, I've lost interest. However this one had some interesting tunnels built into the complex, so we made the 5.5 km trek through the city to get there.

So I suppose we did do a hike... but it certainly wasn't in nature!

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand

We called a Grab taxi (about $3.00) to take us and our bags to the Big Ubon Breakfasts for one last great breakfast before we flew out. It's only about 2 kms, and we would normally walk that, but Ubon is definitely not pedestrian friendly, especially during morning rush hour. 

We had a great breakfast, and the owner Andy offered to drive us the short distance to the Ubon airport terminal.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Daytrip number two to the Mekong River

We didn't see everything we wanted to see the day before, so once again we hopped in the rental car. This time, we drove northeast to Kaeng Sam Phan Bok, or as it is known in English, the 3,000 holes.

This is a section on the Mekong River where there are a lot of rapids during the high waters of the rainy season, and the swirling waters have created an odd landscape of erosion in the rocks. This phenomenon can only be seen during the December to March dry season when the low water levels enable you to explore the shoreline.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Busy day in a part of Thailand that not many tourists go

We are staying in the city of Ubon, which is a place not many tourists go. The city itself doesn't have a lot to offer, however it is day trip distance from the Mekong River and the border with Laos. 

And on that border at the river are quite a few interesting things to see!

Monday, December 18, 2023

We're going to be renting a car for a couple of days!

It was 8:30am before we finally made our way out of the room for breakfast. We've got a kettle and tea and coffee in the room so we were just relaxing. Anyhow, the little restaurant area is right outside our room, so we figured we'd go for breakfast because we'd seen breakfast items on the menu. We went out there, and there was nobody around, with a "closed" sign on the door. (Turns out they stopped serving breakfast during Covid, and never got it started again).

So, I found another place about 15 or 20 minutes walk away.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

We're kind of bouncing around without a plan!

But that's fine, because it's all new to us anyhow. 

Yesterday, we took the train from Pak Chong to Ubon Ratchathani. Everyone just calls it "Ubon", so that's what I'll do from now on. Originally, we were thinking we would try to get into Cambodia from Pak Chong, but the route was too difficult.

Back into the national park

One of the problems with this type of "senior backpacking" travel that we are currently doing is that we don't have a vehicle. We've solved this problem in the past by renting a car, the way we have done in Romania and Turkiye. This time, we've been trying to avoid it because we really didn't need one in the cities, and the train is so easy to use. 

But when it comes to getting into a national park here in Thailand to do some hiking, it does make things a little more complicated.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Bugs and bats

On Friday afternoon, we did our scheduled half day tour with the group from the guesthouse. This tour does not go into the national park itself, so it's quite a bit cheaper because you don't have to pay the park entrance fee per person.

Once again, there were five of us in the back of the truck... us, a single guy from Birmingham, UK, and a couple from France.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

We saw a lot of interesting stuff!

A busy day yesterday as we did a full day tour into Thailand's Khao Yai National Park. 

We had read that the full day tour can have as many as 15 people on it, but you are separated into groups of 5, so it feels like you're on a small group tour. We had a younger guy from Germany, and a mother and daughter from France with us.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Ayutthaya to Pak Chong travel day

Wednesday was not that exciting of a day, but you kind of want travel days to be like that! 

We had reservations for the 11:30am train from Ayutthaya to Pak Chong. It's a two hour train ride, and each ticket cost 173 baht (4.85 USD, $6.60 CAD) each for a one way reserved seat in third class. We are quite happy in third class with all of the locals. Much more fun that way, and they have all the windows wide open with the wind blowing through.

Ayutthaya Boat Tour

This is the second post of the day because we were so busy yesterday it wouldn't all fit into one post! So if you missed the first one, you can read it here... https://www.travelwithkevinandruth.com/2023/12/busy-day-with-elephants.html

Anyhow, after we were done having fun with the elephants, we had to meet up with the boat tour group at our guest house for a 3:30pm departure. We hesitated about doing this boat tour because it got mixed reviews. But, we decided that the 250 baht ($7 USD, $9.50 CAD) price was reasonable, and it would just be a chance to do something different.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Busy day with the elephants!

We had a busy day yesterday, so I'm actually going to break it into two posts. The first part of our day, we walked over to the Royal Elephant Kraal Village. About 3 kms (1.8 miles) of flat walking. People think we are crazy to walk that far in the heat, but hey... you gotta get some exercise!

There are a lot of elephant rides given in the Ayutthaya area. This is a controversial thing, with many westerners trying to change the practice. However the Thai people generally see nothing wrong with it, having lived and worked with the elephants for thousands of years. And of course there is a lot of rhetoric and misinformation thrown into the mix by the animal rights organizations.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Day trip to visit the King

Not the King of England though... the King of Thailand!

About 25 kms (15 miles) south of Ayutthaya is the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace. This was the summer residence regularly used by King Rama V until his death in 1910. Nowadays it is rarely visited by the royal family, and is used for state functions and welcoming foreign dignitaries. So unfortunately, the king wasn't home when we got there!

Sunday, December 10, 2023

The day started off a little disappointing

We feel like we haven't been getting enough fruits and veggies, which is really surprising to us. Given the tropical climate, we figured that fruits and veggies would be inexpensive and in abundance the way they are in Mexico. But that's not the case. Most meals are made with some bean sprouts and a few leaves of something green (maybe kale, which is not our favorite), and sometimes a few chunks of peppers.

Anyhow, we've been making a concerted effort to correct that, and one way is with fruit smoothies. They're not necessarily cheap, but we had a mango and banana one the other night that was delicious.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Feeding the elephants, and a lot of interesting things to see!

It didn't take us long to find two good restaurants that we like here in Ayutthaya. And they're both on the same road as our guest house, so it's really convenient. The first one is a hole in the wall type of place with basic cheap meals and the couple running it are smiling and friendly. They do a stuffed omelet for breakfast that's really nice. 

And the other is a little more upscale, but they have a wide variety of interesting dishes, and still at reasonable prices.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya, Thailand

We had booked the train on the official Thai train website. The website has an English version, and although it's not super user friendly, I had no problem doing it. 

We left the apartment at noon, and made our way back to the pink line monorail, this time with our daypacks and carry on suitcases. With one connection, we arrived at the Krung Thep (Bang Sue) train station around 1:00pm with lots of time for our 2:15pm departure.

Tips for Long-Distance Drives with Rental Cars

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Thursday, December 7, 2023

A week in Bangkok is more than enough for us

We had been contacted by an American couple, Lisa and Lance who were asking about our time in the stan countries, and they just happened to be in Bangkok and asked if we wanted to get together. We were planning on heading downtown anyhow, so when they suggested a meeting point in a shopping mall in a downtown area we hadn't been to, we were totally fine with that.

We left the apartment at about 11:10am, and arrived at the big fancy Terminal 21 mall and headed to the 5th floor food court. Lisa had suggested having lunch here. Certainly not the type of place we would normally choose, however there were a lot of local food choices, and with typical street food prices.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Glad we went, but it's a bit run down...

Looking for something off the beaten path here in Bangkok, I came across Ko Kret Island. 

It's only an island because of a canal they dug in the early 1700's to speed up shipping traffic between Bangkok and Ayutthaya. Over time, erosion caused the canal to actually become part of the river, and now Ko Kret is a man made island. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Thoughts on Thailand so far

We've only been here for four full days, and only in the city of Bangkok... so keeping that in mind, here are our thoughts so far...

Yes, it's hot. Bangkok is one of the hottest cities in the world with a typical daytime high of between 32C to 34C (90F to 93F). Doesn't really matter what time of year, although some seasons get more rain than others. 

We're surviving, because we were mentally prepared for it. But I think we knew even before we came here that it's not a place we could live.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Fun exploring some of downtown Bangkok

On Monday, we relaxed in the apartment until after lunch. Ruth had read of a sound at light show that they do at one of the bridges downtown, and it doesn't start until after dark. We hadn't been to downtown yet, so we figured we would start late and see some of it at night as well.

We headed out at about 2:30pm.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

The largest weekend market in the world

Another beautiful day in Bangkok. The skies seemed a little clearer yesterday (Sunday), and still hot with a high of 33C (91F). Seems that's the temperature every day here in Bangkok... the forecast for the week ranges between 32C to 34C (90F to 93F), with occasional clouds, although they are saying there is a chance of showers this afternoon.

Ruth had read about the Chatuchak Weekend Market that looked interesting, and it's located right beside a big park that looked nice to wander around on a Sunday.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

First day in Bangkok

We figured we'd take it easy on our first day, but of course in true Kevin and Ruth style, we still walked our feet off! 

First on the agenda was to find a local SIM card for the phone. There are three major cellular networks in Thailand, but the AIS network is supposed to be the best. I did some research, and they have a corporate outlet in the big Fashion Island Shopping Mall which isn't far from our apartment. 

November Expenses... right on target!

When we make up our budget for the following month, it's obviously just a guess. And we are usually above budget because 1), there are so many variables, and 2), we always purposely guess a bit low to give ourselves a goal to keep expenses in line. 

So at the end of October, I posted that "we have a budget of about $2,900 CAD ($2,088 USD) for the month of November"... and we ended up spending exactly $2,922 CAD ($2,165 USD) in total. 

Friday, December 1, 2023

Welcome to Thailand, country #66

Last you heard from us, we were in New Delhi airport waiting for our flight to Bangkok.

That flight went much better than the one from Almaty to New Delhi. We both managed to snooze on and off, and we arrived right on time at 4:10pm despite departing almost a half an hour late from New Delhi. Got through immigration quickly, and then waited for our bags.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

That was a LONG day...

Writing this at 8:30am Friday morning local time at New Delhi airport. Yes, it was a LONG day and we're only half way there!

Our flight from Almaty wasn't scheduled to leave until 2:40am.... stupid o'clock. But, that's what you get when you only spend $222 USD ($301 CAD) for the IndiGo Airlines one way flight each from Almaty to Bangkok, connecting in New Delhi.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

And, we're off to Bangkok!

Our original plan was to go up to the big Shymbulak Ski Resort yesterday. Not to go skiing, although we would have liked to but it's still too early in the season. We just figured we'd go up and do some more hiking, and just enjoy the views. Apparently the lifts are open, even though there is no skiing yet. 

But we were both feeling a little bit stiff and tired!

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

A nice day up in the mountains of Kazakhstan

Yesterday morning, we took a taxi up into the mountains. Our goal was to get to Big Almaty Lake, but there was a lot of conflicting information online about whether or not the road was open, and we didn't know how much snow was going to be up there.

When you use the Yandex taxi app, it's very similar to Uber... when a driver is assigned to you, you can see the rating of the driver. This one was fairly low, but I didn't think anything of it at the time.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Not often we splurge on a meal out

There is a big indoor market here in Almaty that is supposed to be quite something. So we walked over there yesterday morning to check it out, and were disappointed to find it was closed. Not sure whether this was a one time thing, or perhaps it's closed every Monday which is entirely possible. Maybe we'll try again on Thursday before we leave.

However, there were some food stalls open, so we decided to take advantage of that. One place was serving the popular local dish plov, and it looked really good.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Too bad about the smog!

Almaty would be a really nice city except for one thing... the smog is horrible. You don't really notice it when you're just out wandering around the city itself, but when you get to a higher viewpoint you can really see how bad it is.

Yesterday we hiked up to Kok Tobe, which is the top of the closest hill overlooking the city. There is a cable car that goes up there as well, but we thought it was too much money, plus we wanted some exercise.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

It was good enough, but we wouldn't return

It took us until noon to get it together yesterday! That's what happens when we stay out late. But it was worth it, and we had fun! Besides which, it's fairly chilly overnight and the sun doesn't really come up until after 8:00am and then it takes a few hours to warm up a bit. 

Of course we'll be warming up soon enough!

Well, that was a fun day!

We relaxed in the apartment for the morning, then set off around noon and headed for the central area of Almaty to see some of the sights. And to get a local Kazakhstan SIM card for the phone.

Almaty is a fairly big, modern city, with a population of about two million.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Welcome to Kazakhstan... Country #65 for us!

We were up at 6:00am Thursday morning. I had read that the bus to Almaty left at 8:00am, and every two hours after that. So the plan was to arrive at the bus station around 7:00, and hope to able to get on the 8:00am bus. And if not, we would have to hang around the bus station for the 10:00am bus.

We ordered a Yandex taxi at 6:30am. It was pouring rain outside.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Out for a hike in beautiful Ala-Archa National Park, Kyrgyzstan

We are so lucky that November has been warmer than normal here in Kyrgyzstan. Apparently last year at this time the trails were already snowed in. 

So we took advantage of the opportunity and went for a hike in the mountains. Originally, we were going to get dropped off at the first entrance gate to the park, but our taxi driver talked us into going further.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Great day with beautiful views of the mountains!

The reason we chose this hostel located on the southern outskirts of the city of Bishkek is because the mountainous Ala-Archa National Park is also located south of the city. And there are some nice walks you can do right from the hostel itself.

So yesterday, we packed some snacks and took off into the foothills...

A little bit of Bishkek

We've only got three days here in Bishkek. And while we're not here for the city itself, we figured we had better use one of those days to see some of it.

Our hostel is located about 8 kms (5 miles) south of the city center. We purposely chose this location so that we could be closer to the mountains, which are also south of the city.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Flight to the big city of Bishkek

Yes, another city. We aren't really doing Kyrgyzstan the justice that it deserves, however we're hoping to make up for that somewhat here in Bishkek. 

Yesterday evening, we flew from Osh to Bishkek. We would have preferred to do the drive, while stopping at several places along the way for a day or two here and there, but it's a 12 hour drive through the mountains and many accommodation places are closed up there for the season. We're simply not here at the right time of year to explore the scenery the way we want to.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

We got out into the countryside and met some interesting people!

We hopped in a taxi yesterday morning and got ourselves about 10 kms (6 miles) south of the city into a more rural area. There was a detour that the taxi had to take on a dirt road, but the road had no traffic, and the scenery was pleasant enough so we just stopped him right there and got out and walked.

We didn't really have a destination in mind... just to get out of the city.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Views over Osh, Kyrgyzstan

There is a small mountain right in the middle of the city of Osh. Of course there are trails all over it, but there is also a museum... built into a cave right on the side of the mountain. It's very strange, so of course we had to hike up there.

But first, we needed flight tickets! We wanted to fly to Bishkek on Sunday. There is no train from here, and it's a 12-14 hour drive through the mountains. So for a cheap 45 minute flight, it makes sense. 

Thursday, November 16, 2023

We lost an hour somewhere!

We thought we were doing okay getting out of the room yesterday morning at around 9:00am and heading down for some breakfast and hot drinks. But we got into the kitchen, and I saw the kitchen clock... reading 10:00am!

We quickly clued in to the fact that maybe we lost an hour somewhere!

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Welcome to Kyrgyzstan, country #64 for us!

Wednesday was a travel day for us as we made our way across the border from Fergana, Uzbekistan to the city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan.

Border crossings are always interesting, and you never know how it's going to go. This one was definitely interesting!

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Silk factory in Fergana, Uzbekistan

On Tuesday, we took a taxi from our apartment in Fergana to the nearby town of Margilan. 

Still can't believe how ridiculously cheap taxis are around here. And using the Yandex app (similar to Uber), it's so easy! The taxi ride was about 13 kms (8 miles) and took about 25 minutes. The cost was under $2 USD!

Monday, November 13, 2023

That was a very cool thing to do!

We were up at 6:00am and took a taxi to Fergana Airport in order to be there for 7:00am. 

The small airport was actually fairly busy because there was a scheduled flight to Moscow departing soon. We made our way to the booking desk where we had been told to check in for our flight to Sokh.

This ought to be fun!

Writing this Monday morning at 7:00am in the waiting area at Fergana airport. 

Where are we off to? The Uzbek enclave of Sokh! And we're going to fly in a 55 year old Russian biplane to get there!

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Tashkent to Fergana train ride

We like traveling by train, and here in Uzbekistan it's both easy and inexpensive. The ticket booking website is in English and is easy to navigate, and you simply pay by credit card.

On Saturday, we took the train from Tashkent to Fergana, a five hour trip.

Back to the cardiologist

On Thursday, I had my other eye lasered. You can read about that in yesterday's post. But the cardiologist who confirmed that I was okay to have the laser repair said that I did in fact have a separate issue that I should have checked out. My blood pressure was too high!

So I was to come back and see her at 9:00am Friday for some tests. I was going to put it off until Thailand where I was planning on having some tests done anyhow, but I figured it would be cheap to have these blood tests done here. And it was.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

I didn't plan to end up at the doctor's in Uzbekistan!

Long time readers will remember that we both had refractive lens exchange surgery in Turkiye two and a half years ago. 

But I developed a common condition called posterior capsule opacification in one of my eyes, and I had that repaired in Belfast, Ireland at the beginning of July. At the time, they mentioned that the problem was developing in my other eye as well, but it didn't bother me enough to do anything about it yet.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Return to Uzbekistan

By 6:30am, we were out the door and on to the road in front of our rented apartment in Dushanbe.

Our flight to Tashkent didn't leave until 10:30am, and the airport was only a 20 minute taxi ride, but I had read horror stories of customs problems at Dushanbe airport where they target foreign travelers with bribes etcetera so I wanted to make sure we had lots of time to deal with that if a problem came up.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Another cultural experience to remember

Regular readers will remember the other day when we crossed the border from Uzbekistan to Tajikistan and we met Ali, another customer in the shared taxi to Panjakent. 

He really looked after us, and said that his sister lives in Dushanbe and would like to meet us. I gave him my WhatsApp contact info, so we could keep in touch.

There's a language we haven't heard much of!

We relaxed for the morning, then after lunch we went for a long walk here in Dushanbe. There were a couple of other attractions we wanted to see. 

Our apartment is located in the north end of the city, so we pretty much have only one route to get to the main area south of here, and of course we've done part of that route several times now. 

Monday, November 6, 2023

Dushanbe is an interesting city

99% of you will have never heard of the city of Dushanbe. I admit that until I started researching this trip, I had never heard of it either! But Dushanbe is the capital of Tajikistan, and is similar in size to our hometown of Ottawa, the capital of Canada. Population about 1.2 million.

Dushanbe is a modern city, and I'm surprised that it's not more popular with western tourists. There is even a five star Hyatt Regency Hotel. 

Sunday, November 5, 2023

If we careened over the edge, seatbelts were not going to help!

Woke up to another beautiful clear blue sky in the Fann Mountains at Iskanderkul.

The plan for the day was to make our way to the capital city of Dushanbe (pop 1,200,000). The only question was "how are we going to do this??"

Our caretaker friend Hamid came by and brought us some more bread and boiled eggs, and we think he said that all we can do is try to flag down a passing car. 

Saturday, November 4, 2023

We never saw a single cloud the whole time!

We didn't have much in the way of food available for yesterday. We had some snacks only. So when we woke up, we didn't have any breakfast.

But then there was a knock at the door...

Friday, November 3, 2023

Welcome to Tajikistan, country #63 - What an adventure!

Thursday was a travel day. We planned to leave the guest house at 9:00am, and make it through the Tajikistan border and into the town of Panjakent by 11:00am. Then find a shared taxi that would take us to Zeravshan-2 where we could somehow catch a ride up to Iskanderkul Lake and then the tiny mountain village of Sarytag.

But right from the beginning, it didn't go as planned!

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

We are off to Tajikistan!

On Wednesday, we walked to a less touristy part of Samarkand. It's actually a nice city. Lots of park space, and crews of people constantly cleaning and sweeping leaves, even into the evening. 

Beautiful sunny day, with a forecast high of 19C (66F). But with the sunshine, and no wind, it actually felt warmer than that.

October Expenses - Yikes!

We know that when we do a trip to an oddball country, it's always an expensive endeavor. But this most recent oddball trip, to Turkmenistan also involved the cost of getting there from Eastern Canada. 

And, although we use the $CAD for our expenses, most of the trip was priced out in $USD. And the $USD has been on a tear since July and now sits at over a three year high vs the $CAD. Not only due to $USD strength, but also $CAD weakness.

Bought some more flight tickets!

And finally, I am all caught up on the blog posts. Not having internet access while in Turkmenistan for five days meant that I was playing catch up since we got back online!

So the post you are reading now actually details what we did yesterday. And one of the things we did yesterday was some more onward travel planning.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

One last walk around Bukhara, and then the train to Samarkand

It was quite hot on Monday with a high of 29C (84F). So although we didn't do too much, we decided to walk into the more modern section of town outside the tourist area. There's not really a lot to see. I think on an overall basis, we enjoyed Khiva more than Bukhara. 

Our train was departing at 4:06pm, and the train station is quite far from the central area, so we had to be back at the guest house by 2:00pm.

Second ferris wheel ride this month!

After a late breakfast on Sunday, we walked over to a big park where Ruth was looking for an old mausoleum that she had read about. Along the way, we came across an amusement park with a ferris wheel.

We always like a ride in a ferris wheel, especially when the price is reasonable! 

Monday, October 30, 2023

Surprised by the number of tourists here

Uzbekistan is having a bit of a heat wave for the next couple of days. Highs around 29C (84F) with hazy skies. Not really that humid, but it's definitely hot if you're in the sun. Supposed to be back to normal highs of 19C (66F) by Tuesday.

We set off to explore the city of Bukhara.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Long ride through the desert to Bukhara

We haven't done much in the way of planning for this "stan" countries trip. We had no idea until the last minute that we would be crossing the Turkmenistan border at Dashoguz, so our recent stay in Khiva was also last minute.

But it turned out great, and we met a wonderful local family. And if we had crossed a border further east, we would have skipped Khiva entirely because it's so remote and it would have involved backtracking. 

Last day in Khiva, Uzbekistan

On Thursday, our last day in Khiva, we returned to the old city to see some of the things we hadn't seen the day before. There's a reason that your entrance pass is good for two days... there is a lot to see.

Once again, a decent enough day with some sunshine and a little cooler high of 19C (66F).

Saturday, October 28, 2023

The old city of Itchan Kala, Uzbekistan

On Wednesday, we set off to explore the old walled city of Itchan Kala. There are more than 50 historic monuments and 250 old houses, most built in the 1700's, although the original Juma Mosque with its 112 wooden columns is one of the oldest structures.

A little cloudy and overcast, but still with a pleasant high of about 20C (68F).

Friday, October 27, 2023

First day in Uzbekistan

It's Tuesday, and we are in the small city of Khiva, population about 90,000. The attraction here is Itchan Kala, the inner walled old city that has been in existence for about 1,500 years.

Itchan Kala was the first Uzbekistan attraction protected on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Welcome to Uzbekistan, country #62 - crazy border crossing!

Most of the group departed Ashgabat in the wee hours of the morning at like 3:00am for their flight back to Istanbul. From there, they were headed to a variety of destinations, with some simply going back home to work, while others were continuing travel.

Ruth and I were the only ones planning on crossing the Turkmenistan land border, and we made arrangements with Johnny's tour operator here, Ahmet, to get us to the border.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Ashgabat at night... like Las Vegas, but without tourists!

One of the guys hired our bus to take us around to some of the other sights that weren't officially included in our tour. We had about three hours to waste, and let me tell you, it's not that difficult to waste three hours in Ashgabat.

In fact, Ruth and I could easily have spent three more days in Ashgabat alone. So much to see and do!

Flight back to Ashgabat, and the Akhal-Teke horses

Had a good sleep in Turkmenbashi, and then a short drive to Turkmenbashi Airport (KRW) where we hopped on a one hour domestic flight from KRW to Ashgabat (ASB).

On the way to the airport, we drove by a huge oil refinery. The refinery reports that its products are exported to Russia, China, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Japan. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The most beautiful place you've never heard of

One of the things that attracted us to Turkmenistan is the Yangykala Canyon. It is so little known, that even most people in Turkmenistan do not know of its existence.

Totally beautiful. And totally remote. We had to take an overnight train to the city of Turkmenbashi on the coast of the Caspian Sea, and then drive three hours inland through the desert!

Monday, October 23, 2023

Busy travel day - Turkmenistan night train!

We woke up at our group campsite near the fiery crater at about 7:00am Friday morning. Not the best sleep because some of the drivers were up late (probably drinking vodka) and they weren't very quiet about it. Oh well. It seems I must be a light sleeper because Ruth slept right through it, and only a couple of other people mentioned it. 

Lots of time to nap in the vehicle on the long ride back to Ashgabat.

The Gates of Hell

After our city tour on Thursday morning, we got on the highway heading north from Ashgabat. There are twenty of us in the group, so we had six 4WD SUV style vehicles taking us out into the desert.

While the roads in the city are well maintained, many of the main highways outside the city are not. If the locals need to go to another city in Turkmenistan, they will usually fly or take the train. But we were headed to a destination not served by rail or flight... The Gates of Hell.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Ashgabat city tour...amazing!

A lot going on, and not nearly enough time or internet access available to tell you all about it. But I am going to squeeze in a quick blog post about the Ashgabat city tour we did on Thursday morning. 

The rest of the group arrived overnight and so we saw them all as they made their way to breakfast that was served in the hotel between 8:00am and 10:00am. We had a departure time of 10:30am set so that they could at least squeeze in a couple of hours sleep because most of them arrived from Istanbul on a flight that landed here at 3:30am.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Welcome to Turkmenistan, country #61

We had to get up at 4:15am in order to walk to the airport bus stop for its 5:00am departure. We had said goodbye to Cheryl the night before so we didn't have to wake her. We packed our bags and headed out the door.

A twenty minute walk in the rain got us to the bus stop where the bus was already loading. We paid our 149 lira ($7.25 CAD, $5.34) and with very little traffic at that hour we made it to Istanbul Airport (IST) in an hour and ten minutes. Much better than the two and a half hours it took when we arrived!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Busy day touring Istanbul

We had made arrangements to meet up with Lauren, one of the girls who we will be touring Turkmenistan with. She was staying on the opposite side of the Bosphorus Straight, so Ruth and I hopped on the ferry at about 9:30am to do the 20 minute ride to the other side.

Much better weather today, with a high around 19C (66F).

Arrived in Istanbul!

It was chilly when we stepped outside our accommodation near Paris airport. Only 4C (39F)! Good thing we didn't have to wait long for our bus to the terminal.

Made our way through the terminals to our departure gate without much of a problem. Our Air France flight from Paris to Istanbul was supposed to depart at 11:20am.

Exploring Nature's Playground: Hiking and Fishing in Perfect Harmony

 Nature's playground offers a perfect harmony of hiking and fishing, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the great outdoors. Hiking trails take you on a journey through breathtaking landscapes, where you can witness the wonders of nature up close. But the adventure doesn't end with hiking alone. Fishing adds an extra layer of excitement and tranquility to our outdoor experience.

In this perfect harmony of hiking and fishing, you explore nature's wonders and embrace the serenity and peace it offers. It is a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reconnect with the simplicity and beauty of the natural world. 

Monday, October 16, 2023

Heading back to the airport!

Made our way to our Airbnb located near Paris airport. Had to buy tickets for the local bus at a cost of €2.10 ($3 CAD, $2.20 USD) each, and of course bought 4 tickets because we also need the return journey this morning. We could have walked it, but there is one section with too much traffic and it's not pedestrian friendly.

Less than a ten minute bus ride and we were getting off in the village of Roissy en France. This is the same village we stayed at in the hotel back at the end of August, so we already knew our way around.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Arrived in Paris!

A little tired, but we are here! It's almost 2:00pm here and it's a bright sunny day. Not sure what the temperature is, but it looks very nice outside. We're still at the airport as I write this because we can't get into our Airbnb for another hour, and it's only a short bus ride away.

Everything went smoothly.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

And... we're off!

Writing this from Halifax Airport where we've got an all afternoon wait for our WestJet flight to Toronto.

There are only two overseas flights that go from Halifax, one goes to London, and the other one goes to Frankfurt. Everything else is stuck routing through either Montreal or Toronto. So in our case, we are flying Halifax to Toronto, then Toronto to Paris CDG.

Friday, October 13, 2023

This area is nice in the fall

Lindsey had the day off Thursday, so the three of us took Chester the dog for a walk to Little River Falls. Bit of a cloudy day, and we even had some showers during our hike but nothing too wet. Temperature has cooled off to a high of about 14C (58F).

But first, we made a stop at Luckett's Winery...

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Fun afternoon out at the Bay of Fundy

Kirsten is one of our regular readers, and she lives with her husband Jeff here in Nova Scotia on the Bay of Fundy at Margaretsville. They invited us to spend some time with them yesterday afternoon.

The Bay of Fundy is world famous because the highest tides in the world occur here. The tide was about 22' yesterday, but some areas can have a difference of up to 50' between high tide and low tide.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

The Pumpkin People of Kentville

Here in the Annapolis Valley, the fall harvest is in full swing, and it will be like this leading up to the end of the month and Halloween. All of the towns do something special to take part, and the town of Kentville is well known for it's Pumpkin People displays.

So yesterday we went for a drive to see them!

Monday, October 9, 2023

Vacation is almost over!

Well, our six week vacation back to Canada is almost over. This coming Saturday we will return to our normal life of travel.

We are really excited about the next few months. Actually, the next few weeks! What a crazy start it is going to be! 

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Fall Harvest

The Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia has Atlantic Canada's richest agricultural land. Combined with the climate, it makes for the perfect place to grow apples, pears, grapes, and many other fruits and veggies.

Our daughter Lindsey's house backs onto a huge apple orchard. Yesterday, Ruth and I went for a walk to see the stuff that is ready for fall harvest...

Saturday, October 7, 2023

I had never fired a handgun... until now.

Being from Canada, where firearms are not as common as they are in the U.S., we never had as much opportunity to be involved with guns. And I've never had any ambition to be a hunter, so I've never needed to own a gun for that reason. I have fired a rifle quite a few times though, and I find target practice to be fun.

But I had never fired a handgun, and always wanted to.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Day trip into Halifax with granddaughter Sadie

We're a little off schedule with our regular early morning blog postings. But we're spending time visiting, so we'll post when we can!

Yesterday, we took Chester for a nice long walk in the morning. We did about 6.5 kms (4 miles).

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Made it to Nova Scotia!

Well, we are now here at our daughter Lindsey's place in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley with her husband Justin, and our grandkids Cameron and Sadie. And of course Chester the dog.

We were up at 5:30am Tuesday morning in order to get to the Ottawa Airport for our 8:30am flight.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Catching up on the last two days...

Long time friend Jeff came over bright and early at 8:00am Sunday morning to give us a ride to Ruth's brother's place in Stittsville, where he and his girlfriend Brenda live on the western outskirts of Ottawa.

We're going to hang out with them for two nights and then he'll give us a ride to Ottawa airport early Tuesday morning for our flight to Halifax.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

September Expenses - not quite on budget!

Well, we had great plans on having an inexpensive month in September, until I came up with this idea of getting rid of the big camera and buying a smartphone that would replace it. 

Which is exactly what we ended up doing. So our stated budget of $1,605 CAD for the month ended up being $3,134 CAD ($2,308 USD), mostly due to the cost of the phone.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

We've been here a full month!

Man, we've had some great weather this month. It's one of the reasons we like coming to Canada in September. The kids are back in school, the mosquitoes are pretty much done... and the weather is usually decent.

We're actually ending the month (and starting October) with a bit of a heat wave... high today of 24C (75F) and increasing to 28C (82F) by the time we fly out on Tuesday!

Friday, September 29, 2023

Richie Rich houses

We had a visitor yesterday afternoon. Blog reader Monique lives in the east end of Ottawa and made the drive over to say hello. She even brought desert, so we sat outside and had coffee and dessert with her!

We took Monique for a walk around the neighborhood. The area has been developed with two acre plus "estate" lots. The house we are sitting is located in the first part of the development that was started probably 30 years ago. 

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Speed walking

There aren't a lot of great hiking opportunities here in the Ottawa area unless you go to Gatineau Park which is well across the river on the Quebec side. And that's too far to go on a daily basis.

So, as regular readers know, we do a "power walk" every day while we're house sitting here in Manotick. We've got several routes that we try, and one of them is almost exactly 5 kms (3 miles).

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Visiting with old friends

Yesterday, Ruth and I drove about 20 minutes into the city where we met up with my older sister Elaine, and went for a 5 km (3 mile) power walk with her. Nice to switch things up and get a change of scenery.

Didn't take any photos though. It was just a middle class residential neighborhood, so nothing really photo worthy.

Heading to Paris? Here's How You Should Spend Your Time

Paris, often called the "City of Love" or the "City of Lights," is undoubtedly one of the most iconic destinations in the world. From the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre Museum, the city is bursting with cultural and historical treasures. But when planning your trip to this enchanting metropolis, don't overlook some of the lesser-known gems and experiences that can truly make your visit unforgettable.

While we're not going to number these suggestions, we'll start with a magical experience: Disneyland Paris.

Unravelling Airalo: The eSIM Revolution and Its Top 7 Standout Features

In the world of telecommunication, every new development promises more flexibility, better connectivity, and enhanced user experience. But amidst this whirlwind of technological innovations, there emerges a hero every once in a while – a solution that genuinely changes the game. 

Enter Airalo. A leading figure in the realm of eSIM technology, Airalo promises a transformative experience for the global traveller and the tech-savvy individual alike. In this detailed Airalo eSIM review, we dissect the top seven features that set this eSIM apart from the rest.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

More travel planning done

We're going to be on six different airplanes during the month of October. Possibly even seven.

A week from today, we fly from Ottawa to Halifax, Nova Scotia to spend 11 days with our daughter and her family.

Monday, September 25, 2023

How was Ruth's Weekend?

So someone on our Facebook group was wondering how I filled up my weekend. So today you will get a rare post from me (Ruth).

I enjoyed a quiet afternoon and night by myself on Thursday and then on Friday afternoon my sister Lesley and her friend Lynn arrived to spend the weekend with me. They drove up from Hamilton, Ontario.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

End of another great weekend

Saturday was another nice day, although with a few high clouds we didn't have quite as much sunshine. Still, it was certainly a nice enough day for a hike in nearby Bon Echo Provincial Park.

There is a figure 8 loop we wanted to do, with the lower part of the loop being about 3.5 kms and if we included the upper part of the loop the total would be 7.5 kms.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

The perfect time to be in this part of the world...

Had some fun yesterday playing with the camera in our new phone. Bottom line is, I am thrilled. So much versatility in such a small package. 

As forecast, it was a gorgeous fall day. Other than the fact that I had a self inflicted minor hangover (all better today though!), it was perfect! And it looks like that is going to continue for the next week or so. 

Friday, September 22, 2023

Absolutely perfect!

Yesterday, I left Ruth by herself and drove two hours west to the shore of Mazinaw Lake, just south of Bon Echo Provincial Park.

My guys weekend away this year is a long weekend. We all decided that two nights wasn't long enough, so we added on a Thursday.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

"When are you going to settle down?"

This is one of the questions we get on a regular basis.

When we started out, we were only 45 years old. We didn't have a lot of money, and we had a two year plan. Worst case scenario, we had to go back to work. But two years came and went and we didn't want to go back to a "normal" life.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Country list update

I posted a list here a few years ago, but I want to keep it more current so that it's easier for me to go back to and update. 

There are 193 countries in the United Nations. And there are another bunch of countries that are not recognized by other countries as being countries. That brings the total up to 215.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

The camera on our new phone

I'm pretty impressed!

We bought a new smartphone... a very expensive one. The main reason we bought it is because we want to travel with as little as possible. It's just so much easier that way. So I wanted to ditch our big camera. And I figured that if I'm going to travel with a phone anyhow, then why not get a phone that has a really good camera in it. 

Monday, September 18, 2023

Back in Ottawa

Sunday morning, we said goodbye to Alex, CJ, and Lucy the dog at around 11:00am and did the long drive back to Manotick (Ottawa). It was pouring rain for the first two hours or so of the drive.

We took the route that goes through Algonquin Provincial Park. Would have liked to have stopped for a hike, but with the mandatory $21 daily pass to stop at a trailhead, it's just not worth it.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

A beautiful day in cottage country

We woke up to an absolutely beautiful fall day here in "cottage country".

They call this part of Ontario "cottage country" because it's located about an hour and a half north of Toronto and since about the 1950's, the more affluent would build a weekend getaway in this area. It used to be a pretty quiet area, but of course it's getting more and more built up over the years, and lakefront property is now ridiculously expensive.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Our new smartphone arrived!

Well, our new smartphone showed up at just after 10:00am, right on schedule. Ordered on Monday morning, and arrived at the house on Friday morning. All the way from Hong Kong. Quite amazing, really.

But, that really didn't give me any time to get it set up and play with it. We were on our way to visit our son, and had to leave just after 11:00am. I unpacked the box and put it on the charger for a half an hour, but I figured I might as well leave it behind because it's probably going to take a few hours to get it properly set up!

Friday, September 15, 2023

Road trip!

When I ordered our new phone on Monday morning, it was scheduled to arrive at our door on Friday the 15th. Today. And, it looks like it will.

But while it takes two days to go from Hong Kong to Cincinnati to Montreal to Ottawa, it turns out that it also takes two days to go from the Ottawa distribution center to the house!

Thursday, September 14, 2023

It's all about the adventure!

I've been spending a lot of time planning how we are going to get to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

We arrive in Paris October 15th. And we need to get to Ashgabat by the morning of the 19th at the latest. Turkmenistan is one of the least visited countries on the planet, so there aren't many flight choices to get there. The most common is a Turkish Airlines flight that departs from Istanbul.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Final details on the sale of Max, our most recent motorhome

As regular readers know, we've always been very open about our monthly expenses. But when we buy a campervan or motorhome, it's difficult to include the true cost per night of that as part of the monthly expenses.

We've actually had people question our generally low overnight expenses as not being accurate because we do a lot of boondocking so our overnight expenses appear as artificially low. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Into the province of Quebec

Our friend Kim is house sitting across the river near Wakefield, Quebec and she invited us over there for a hike and a meal. 

So we hopped in the car around noon, and it  took exactly an hour to do the 57 km (35 mile) drive. The route is fairly direct, but we have to drive right through the center of the city of Ottawa, so it's a bit slow going.

Monday, September 11, 2023

How odd is it?

In the off the beaten path travel world, there are five Central Asian countries that are collectively known as The Five Stans.

They are Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. 

Now that our visas have been approved for Turkmenistan, we've been doing some serious research on this part of the world.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Well that was a worthwhile end to the story!

If you haven't been following along, I'll give you the short version of the whole story, starting at the beginning. If you have, you can skip the next couple of paragraphs to the most recent part!

We had booked flights with Air France from Paris to Ottawa direct. When we went to check in, they told us the flight was overbooked, but they offered us €600 ($875 CA, $642 USD) each in cash to switch our flights to arrive in Montreal, with an Air Canada connection to Ottawa. 

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Camera sold!

The other day, I mentioned I wanted to sell our big Nikon P900 camera and instead get a smartphone with a good quality camera so that we could reduce the amount of stuff we have when we travel.

So the other morning, I listed the Nikon for sale on the kijiji website. And it sold within six minutes!

Friday, September 8, 2023

Another adventure coming up!

About two months ago, we signed up for a trip to Turkmenistan. But I haven't talked about it very much because we had to apply for visa approval in advance, and Turkmenistan has a totalitarian regime that doesn't care about tourism, so many visa applications are rejected without any apparent reason.

We woke up this morning to an email... visas approved!

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Decision made!

Well, I made a decision on the new smartphone, and I'm actually going to order it here in Canada rather than waiting until we get to Asia. It's the Honor Magic5 Pro 12GB/512GB.

Spent a ton of time yesterday perusing reviews and learning about all of the different characteristics of these high end smartphones. Two things are important to mention. First, when comparing the high end phones, they are all really good. And second, none of them (sorry iPhone fans) are perfect.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

What a deal!

We were out and about for a few hours yesterday afternoon. It was pretty warm. The thermometer in the car said it was 35C (95F) which is definitely warm for this area at time of year. But, we had the windows down and didn't put the air conditioning on. I didn't think it felt that bad. Felt like a nice warm summer day to me. 

But then this is the first real warm day we've had in a long time! I wouldn't want to live in a place where it's like that every day, but I sure don't mind it for a couple of days.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

I want to buy a very expensive smartphone!

Our current cell phone is over three years old. Almost an antique! 

Considering it was just an inexpensive Motorola phone, it's been great and it has totally served our purposes. We paid under $200 for it, and at the time I wrote "If I get three years out of it the way we did with my much more expensive Samsung, I'll be totally happy."

Monday, September 4, 2023

Future travel plans

We are headed to SE Asia this coming winter. 

Although we have made absolutely zero firm plans, and done very little research on what we want to see or do, we want to visit Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam over a period of about six months. And knowing us, that won't be nearly enough time. 

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Our first grocery shop back in Canada

Jet lag has never really bothered us that much because we think it's important to adapt to the new time zone as quickly as possible. So when arriving in a new country we try and immediately put ourselves into the new time. That means forcing ourselves to stay awake until at least 10pm even if we're really tired..

Of course our sleep schedules are a little off though. The first night, I woke up at about 3am and ended up getting up at 4:30am. Last night was a little better and I woke up at 4:30am and got up at 5:30am. A couple more nights and we should be back on track. Ruth slept a little better, but still up very early.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

August Expenses - an expensive month, with a big bonus at the end!

At the end of July, I had mentioned that we were expecting an expensive month in August, with a forecast budget of $4,500 CAD ($3,400 USD).

We ended up coming in only slightly higher than forecast, which is pretty good because there were a lot of variables in my original guess. But then, right at the end of the month we received a big bonus which dropped us well below budget!

Finally, back in Ottawa!

We originally planned on three legs to this trip back to Ottawa. Leg 1 from Dulmen to Dusseldorf, leg 2 from Dusseldorf to Paris, and leg 3 from Paris to Ottawa.

But leg 4 turned up when we volunteered to be bumped from our original Paris to Ottawa flight.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Well that was an eventful and profitable travel day!

We caught our shuttle bus from our hotel to Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport Thursday morning at 9:30am right on schedule. 

What a maze CDG airport is! We have never flown in or out of there, so had no experience. There are three terminals, and each terminal has several mini terminals that in themselves are large. Glad we didn't send grandson Cameron off on his own into this airport. We had a hard time figuring out parts of it ourselves!

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Welcome back to France!

Yesterday was leg two of our journey back to Ottawa. We had to make our way from Dusseldorf, Germany to Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) near Paris, France.

I had researched all the ways to make this happen, and decided on a BlaBlaCars private shared ride.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Leg number one of our trip back to Ottawa

Pretty hectic morning yesterday as we felt a bit rushed trying to make the 12:20pm train from Dulmen.

And we did actually make it to the train station in time, but only because our motorhome dealer offered to drive us. Normally we walk because it's only about twenty minutes away.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Our last evening with Max

We were up at 6:00am yesterday morning to make our way to the nearby laundromat that opened at that hour. A nice laundromat, with decent enough prices, however they didn't take credit cards. The last few laundries we've used in Germany were all fully automated with credit card paying.

We were lucky we had enough cash! We've purposely been using up our euros knowing that we're going back to Canada for six weeks.

Monday, August 28, 2023

On the way back, the skies really opened up.

Not a very exciting day yesterday, other than when the skies opened up on us! 

We did the drive north to Dortmund area. Lots of construction zones where lanes were closed and they were rebuilding bridges. Because it was a Sunday there was hardly any truck traffic, so it didn't really slow us down too much.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

A pretty hectic end of the month!

We will be flying direct from Paris, France to Ottawa, Canada  on August 31st, only four days from now.

Our home town of Ottawa kind of gets left out when it comes to international flights. Despite the fact that it is the capital of Canada, and home to over a million people, almost all international flights depart from either Toronto or Montreal. So you normally have to connect in either one of those cities.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

One of the most beautiful castles in Germany

When I originally started researching some of the things we wanted to see during our European travels, I came across the fairytale setting of the magnificent Eltz Castle.

And besides the architecture, the actual story is fascinating. Eltz Castle is privately owned, and has been in the same family for over 900 years. The castle and surrounding estate is currently in the hands of the 34th generation of uninterrupted lineage since the mid 12th century.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Welcome to Germany!

Of course Germany is not a new country for us, but it is country number 9 for grandson Cameron.

Cameron is now tied with his 37 year old mother for number of countries visited. And he's well ahead of his father. And they have a family trip planned to Dominican Republic this coming winter, so he will then surpass his mother because she has already been there.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Welcome to Netherlands!

Once again, Netherlands is not a new country for us. However for grandson Cameron, Netherlands is country number 8!

And while Ruth and I spent six weeks here in June/July of 2021, we never made it to the big city of Rotterdam. So that's where we headed yesterday morning.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Fresh strawberries. From a vending machine!

Just a relaxing day yesterday, which I think we were all in need of. Both Bjorn and Freya had to go to work, so we were on our own at the house. We got some laundry done and Cameron was quite happy playing some games on his tablet most of the morning. 

We did make it out for a walk in the afternoon, just in this area by one of the canals.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

A beautiful day in Bruges, Belgium

It was about a 45 minute walk from where we had been parked to get to the center of Bruges, so we drove in to try and find a closer spot. If it was only Ruth and I, we probably would have walked it. But we figured with Cameron, we should probably try to get closer. 

And we got lucky, managing to find free on street parking that saved us a half an hour walk each way.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Welcome to Belgium!

Belgium is not a new country for us, but it is country number 7 for Cameron.

3 countries in 3 days. Kind of reminds us of that old 1969 movie "If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium" where a group of American tourists do a 9 country European tour in 18 days.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

We had to get up at silly o'clock!

Welcome to France! Of course France is not a new country for us, but it is country number 6 for Cameron.

He has already been to Canada, US, Mexico, Morocco, and England. And he'll be adding three more countries during this trip. Belgium today, then Netherlands and Germany.

We had to get up yesterday morning at 3:30am. Silly o'clock!

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Max is sold!

Yesterday, we got up at 5:30am, and less than half an hour later we were on the maze of highways around London's Heathrow Airport to make our way on the southern ring road avoiding most of the city.

But we were all amazed by the amount of traffic at that hour. What are all these people doing already on the highway at 6:00am? We purposely did that to avoid the heavy traffic. I suppose we did though, because it would have been much worse later on.

Friday, August 18, 2023

So much to see in London

The big cities of the world require much more than two days to properly see the sights. In fact, we've often said that you need to spend a full month in places like New York City and Mexico City. And of course London.

But, when all you've got is two days, then you just make the best of it!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

We did a quick tour, then got the heck out of there!

Ruth and I have been to London many times, but of course this is the first time for our grandson Cameron (age 12). So it made sense to take in some of the more popular tourist attractions and sights even though Ruth and I have seen them before. 

We left Max at the pub parking lot near Heathrow airport and walked the 20 minutes or so to the Elizabeth line tube station that should have taken us to Tottenham Court Road. But there was some kind of problem on the line.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Grandson Cameron has arrived!

We had overnighted in a small village near Stonehenge so we had about a two hour drive from there to London's Heathrow Airport where we were picking up grandson Cameron.

We took our time though, and didn't leave until after 10:00am. Then we stopped at a highway rest stop for lunch, then again at a grocery store.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Our visit to Stonehenge

We said goodbye to Julie and the pups at around 10:00am. First stop was at a computer service and repair shop just as we were leaving the town of Wellington.

Last year when we bought new laptops in Norway, we kept our old ones. Mine was still working fine, except that the battery was done. And the casing on Ruth's was falling apart, although it still worked as well.

Monday, August 14, 2023

We're headed for Stonehenge

Another mostly cloudy day with a few raindrops but nothing too wet. We took the dogs out for a good run before lunch.

It's amazing how much a dog can run. We did almost 5 kms, but I'm sure they did 50 kms or more, and most of it at full speed. Their little hearts must just be beating like crazy!

Sunday, August 13, 2023

We have a plan...

I spent several hours yesterday working on our plan to get to Paris. 

Travel during July and August is expensive no matter how you do it, but I was surprised that the train was going to cost so much. From Dulmen, Germany to Paris was almost €200 ($295 CAD, $220 USD) per person for the one way trip, and with two connections and not very suitable running times.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Meet our companions for the weekend...

First up though, a travel planning update.

Our life is a logistical nightmare sometimes. But, it's part of the life we chose, so we simply deal with it. And ultimately, this most recent issue will work itself out, although always at a cost!

Friday, August 11, 2023

We finally had a day of summer!

Well, a few hours really, but we'll take it! 

With a forecast high of 21C (70F) and sunny breaks, we took the short ferry ride across the bay at Dartmouth and made our way to the popular Goodrington Beach tourist area.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

A good day in Dartmouth, Devon

Again, we drove first thing in the morning, and good thing. While Dartmouth itself has more modern roads, the roads getting to Dartmouth are narrow, and big trucks use them as well.

There aren't a lot of decent motorhome options in Dartmouth. But someone told us about a popular parking app here in the UK called "Your Parking Space". It lists a variety of paid parking spots ranging from private driveways to grocery stores... at a variety of prices, some really cheap. We ended up choosing a 24 hour one in a Sainsbury grocery store parking lot for £4.60 ($7.85 CAD, $5.85 USD).

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Devon and Cornwall are not very easy for a motorhome

Yesterday morning, we once again departed as soon as we woke up. It was about a one hour drive to Restormel Castle, just outside the village of Lostwithiel.

The castle is fairly remote, even though it's only a mile or so outside the village. We got there, and the gate was closed!

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

So many sea caves to explore!

Once again we were on the road before 7:00am making our way through the narrow country roads to the coastal village of Tintagel. We arrived at a large, totally empty parking lot with a "pay by app" sign listing prices. I had already done the research in advance and so I knew that motorhomes are allowed to stay overnight and that the cost was £8 ($13.75 CAD, $10.25 USD). 

There are several other places in the village where motorhomes can park overnight, but they all work out to approximately the same cost. This one is furthest away from the attractions, and while it was busy during the day, it was empty and very quiet overnight.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Seems everybody in this area does their grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon!

We've learned that you don't get anywhere fast in this part of England. There are no motorways, not that we would normally use them anyhow, but even the main roads in this area are narrow and curvy, and at this time of year there is a lot of traffic.

We've taken to getting up and doing our driving very early, as soon as we wake up, because it's just easier with less vehicles on the road.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

I took a video for you, but it's a little rough...

Yesterday morning was downright miserable. There was a wind warning in effect, with a steady "breeze" of 30 mph (50 km/h) and gusting higher than that. Add in some drizzle and a temperature of about 13C (55F) and it was pretty easy to just stay inside all morning.

But after lunch, things cleared up a little. The wind didn't die down, but at least the precipitation stopped.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

There's one more walk we want to do!

Our things have finally pretty much dried out from getting soaked during our wet hike on Wednesday. Almost. We haven't had any rain the past two days, but we haven't had any sunshine either. Still, the weather has been good enough to get out and get some exercise.

It's a great spot where we're staying. We have a nice view of the sea, and many different trails start from here. And it's only £3 a night, payable by donation in an honesty box.

Friday, August 4, 2023

More of England's Southwest Coastal Path

I was thinking last night that it was almost a year ago that we last flew back to Canada. This year, we arrive in Ottawa  at the end of this month on August 31st. This will be the longest that we have been away since we began this lifestyle in the fall of 2007.

Yesterday, we drove right away and arrived early into the village of Lynmouth and found a parking spot. It was free until 10:00am, but paid by the hour after that. I paid for three hours for a total of £3.90 ($6.60 CAD, $4.95 USD) and we had some breakfast and set off exploring.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

A couple of drowned rats

The weather isn't cooperating, but it's only water and we have raincoats. 

We left Max in his spot up on the moors, and set off towards the South West Coastal Path, the longest marked trail in England.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Back on the road!

We had another good weekend with Helen and Tony, and on Monday afternoon our friends Mirsie and David showed up in their van. We had met Mirsie and David in Kosovo last fall and they are on their way back to their home in Scotland after having taken a one year sabbatical to travel in their van.

So it was fun getting caught up with them. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

July expenses, not a bad month...

At the end of last month, I had said that our planned budget for the month of July was $2,045 CAD ($1,545 USD). While we came in at $2,823 CAD ($2,134 USD), the extra was all related to my laser eye surgery treatment.

So without the cost of the treatment, we were pretty much on budget, although some of the categories were a bit out of whack . Here's how it all broke down...

Monday, July 31, 2023

Fun getting caught up with everyone

Ruth's mom and dad came to Canada from England in 1957, but Ruth and her siblings were born in Canada. So all of their aunts and uncles and cousins were across the pond in England, and they only saw them once every five years or so while growing up. Ruth and her cousin Helen were about the same age, so they formed a bond over the years.

When Ruth and I first met in March of 1983, she already had a trip planned to visit England on her own in September of that year.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Interesting day trip to Shaftesbury

We got into the car with Helen and Tony and headed west for a day trip to Salisbury. Ruth and I had been there before, but it was many years ago. Salisbury has a really nice cathedral. Anyhow, while we were driving along, I looked up the cathedral and saw that it is now a £9 ($15.25 CAD, $11.50 USD) fee per adult to enter the cathedral. 

Between that and the heavy traffic, we decided on a change of plans and instead made our way to the closer town of Shaftesbury.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Max is still for sale

We've had a couple of expressions of interest, but nobody who wants to make a commitment. I haven't really made an effort to advertise him much other than writing the motorhome for sale blog post and copying it to a couple of facebook groups.

We would have preferred to sell him to a foreign buyer who would continue to use him the way we have. Such an easy way for someone from Canada or U.S. or Australia, (or wherever!) to get into a European motorhome and be able to turn the key and head off right away. So I'm kind of surprised someone hasn't jumped at the idea.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Quick visit to the capital city of Cardiff, Wales

We stopped in the town of Cross Hands for some groceries, then headed southeast towards the city of Cardiff. The two lane highway turned into a four lane highway, then into the M4 motorway where traffic was fairly heavy going into the city of Cardiff (pop 400,000).

Not easy to find decent free parking around Cardiff, but we ended up parking at the big IKEA store and doing the half hour walk into the central area.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

What a difference a day makes!

Unfortunately, the beautiful weather from the day before didn't carry over into a second day.

With heavy rain forecast to begin around 11:00am, we got up at 6:30am and drove right away to another trailhead parking spot a little further on to access a different section of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Trail. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Easier than we expected to get decent free overnight spots in the middle of summer holidays.

With an absolutely gorgeous day ahead of us, we got on the road early and drove to what turned out to be one of the best overnight spots ever, with a beautiful view of Dinas Head and the village of Dinas Cross.

We arrived up there and were surprised to find we had the place to ourselves. It's actually been easier than we expected to get decent free overnight spots in the middle of summer holidays.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Taking advantage of the blue sky and sunshine!

We said goodbye to Ruth, Chris, and Tigs the dog just before 10:00am, and hit the road heading northwest towards the coast. The skies were supposed to clear up by lunchtime, so we wanted to get some hiking in.

First stop was near a National Trust property called Llanerchaeron. It's actually closed Mondays and Tuesdays, but you can still walk the many trails around the property.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Heading to Pembrokeshire to do some hiking

We managed to get out with Tigs for a few walks yesterday before his mom and dad came home late in the afternoon. Poor old guy is definitely showing his age though. After we're done walking him, you almost feel like you need to go for another walk to get some exercise yourself. But, he's been no trouble at all to look after. 

The weather was better than forecast though... we were actually out in t-shirts in the afternoon.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Busy few weeks ahead of us!

It was a heavy rain day, especially in the morning. But, we got a bunch of computer stuff done, including filling out all the forms for our Turkmenistan trip in October. Had to answer all the questions on the letter of invitation, send copies of both our passports, and send a digital passport style photo of each of us in order to get the visa.

They want to know about your education, how many children you have, their dates of birth and more. 

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Meeting up with Tigs the dog

We headed down through the beautiful Wye River Valley here in Wales. Yesterday was the start of school vacation here in Wales, and we saw a noticeable increase in traffic on the roads. Lots of cars pulling travel trailers as well.

There was supposed to be the occasional bit of blue sky, but we never saw the sun all day. Still, we're finding the temperature of about 18C (66F) to be quite pleasant, especially when going for a hike.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Beautiful view over the Clywedog Reservoir

We woke up hoping to see more fighter jets buzzing overhead, and a single propeller trainer went by early on to give us some optimism. However the clouds and rain moved in shortly afterwards, and we had read that the jets don't fly this route unless conditions are good.

So we ended up moving on without seeing any more.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Max's first booboo

We finally had a beautiful day, so we took advantage of it with two different short hikes.

First was a walk up to the castle and the area surrounding the village of Harlech. We didn't go in the castle. We had just spent a bunch of time in a castle a couple of days earlier and reviews said that while Harlech Castle is impressively set up on a hill, the views are the attraction, and the actual interior isn't worth the £8.50 ($14.50 CAD, $11 USD) entry fee despite the fact that we would have saved 50% with our English Heritage card.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

If you snooze, you lose...

Yesterday was a rain day. Probably the wettest day we've had for a long time. But, we still managed to get out... with our raincoats and umbrellas! It's only water.

We drove to the town of Porthmadog and found a big Lidl where we wasted some time doing some grocery shopping. Next door there was a camping store where we had a look around as well.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Fun afternoon at Caernarfon Castle

We said goodbye to Helen and Tony just after 9:30am. They were headed back home to Somerset, England. We'll actually be stopping in there to say hi to them again in a couple of weeks time.

We headed about a half an hour south, across the bridge over the Menai Strait and past the town of Caernarfon to a waterfront spot overlooking the strait. As we passed the town of Caernarfon, we saw a huge castle!

Monday, July 17, 2023

Exploring the island of Anglesey

The area where we're staying is called Anglesey Island. And yes, it is actually an island even though it's not separated from the main part of Wales by very much. 

With a mixed bag of weather in the forecast, we set off exploring the island in Helen and Tony's car. 

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Sometimes going into a church is like going into a museum!

With a morning weather forecast that didn't include rain, we set off to do some exploring. First stop was the pretty tourist town of Beaumaris, and Beaumaris Castle. From there, it was on to the impressive Menai Suspension Bridge.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Thinking about a new camera

Our Nikon P900 is about five years old now, and it's been through a lot. It's actually starting to physically fall apart. Nothing that stops me from using it, but it's getting close to time to start thinking about a replacement.

We're visiting with Ruth's cousin Helen and her husband Tony right now. Tony just bought a new camera, and so I was checking it out. It's a Sony RX10 which is quite a bit more money than our current camera.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Are we in the UK illegally?

We ended up having a busy day. First, we went and explored the town of Holyhead. For such a small place, it has a big, busy port.

Oh, I forgot to tell you about our passports. Immigration between these countries is very odd.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Welcome to Wales!

Wales is not a new country for us. Back in 2012 we did a three week house sit near Hereford, England and we did several day trips into Wales. But this time, we'll get to spend a little more time exploring!

So, yesterday we took the Stena Line ferry "Adventurer" from Dublin to Holyhead, Wales.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Last day in Ireland

What a great trip this has been. We've been in Ireland since May 8, so just over two months. 

We've pretty much circled the entire island, been to an Irish wedding, climbed Ireland's highest mountain, and learned a lot about the history of culture and conflict here. And I enjoyed a few pints of Guinness!

We don't quite feel like we're ready to leave though.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Are you Kevin and Ruth?

Rainy day yesterday, but we made our way a few miles further back towards the Republic of Ireland border. We ended up parked in the fishing town of Kilkeel.

We feel bad that we haven't been able to properly explore Northern Ireland. I mean, it's really not that big of an area, but we ran out of time!

Monday, July 10, 2023

We don't think we've ever seen something quite like that.

Our time in Ireland is almost up! What a great two months it's been. When the weather is good, Ireland is a motorhoming and hiking paradise. I guess that's why we've enjoyed it so much.

But, we've simply run out of time! We didn't see nearly as much of the northern part as we wanted to. And, the weather has changed dramatically compared to the fantastic six weeks we had from the time we arrived. 

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Nice walk around the lake, and getting caught up with our friend Cathy

Once again, we were up early and we drove right away to make it through the big city of Belfast before traffic picked up. We parked up at the town of Royal Hillsborough at Hillsborough Lake parking. 

Good thing we got there early because it didn't take long for the early morning dog walkers and joggers to arrive. 

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Good news, and bad news

First order of business was to get my eye fixed! I had an appointment for 9:20am in central Belfast. We had parked in an industrial area near the docks. Not very scenic, that's for sure, but it was free, and only a 3 km (1.8 mile) walk into the center of the city.

Arrived a few minutes early, and they took me right on time.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Gorgeous coastal hike at Giant's Causeway

You may have missed yesterday's post because we were late posting it. You can read it here...


And why were we late posting it? Because we wanted to get out to do a long hike and the weather in the morning looked much better than the weather in the afternoon!

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Welcome to Northern Ireland, country number 60 for us!

First thing, let's clarify the country count. Yes, we do count Northern Ireland as a separate country even though it is part of the UK. Some people do, some people don't. For our purposes, if we are going to count England, Scotland, and Wales as individual countries, then we have to count Northern Ireland as well.

Besides which, Northern Ireland has its own currency. Yes, it's the pound sterling, but it is different banknotes compared to the English pound. And it's issued by Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland. It is also not legal tender in the rest of UK... however it is legal currency and easily exchanged at any English bank! 

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

There's always the possibility he doesn't sell

Tuesday was a bit of a washout... literally!

We woke up to pouring rain, and it stayed that way all morning. While we were waiting it out, we had a thought that maybe we could get some laundry done. So I found a laundromat that was walking distance from where we were parked, and the first time the rain let up a little bit, we walked over there.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

For Sale - 2021 Adria Matrix Axess 520ST Motorhome

 

2021 Adria Matrix Axess 520ST
€60,000
 ($86,000 CAD, $65,500 USD, £51,400)

Things are coming together

We've had a lot of logistical planning and things on the go lately. But it's all starting to come together. 

Yesterday, I confirmed my appointment for the laser repair to my eye at a clinic in Belfast. And, they can do it this coming Friday!

Monday, July 3, 2023

Cameron's flights are booked!

The morning was drizzly and windy. Not very nice at all, but with a strong, fast cell signal we just stayed put and got caught up on some internet stuff. Besides, with a view of the hills out our window, the itch to climb one of them was strong, and we were hoping it would clear up after lunch.

I've been checking daily to see if prices have changed for the flights that we want for our grandson Cameron to come and visit us next month.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Ireland's Hidden Waterfall

Just west of the town of Killybegs is Ireland's Secret Waterfall... or sometimes called Ireland's Hidden Waterfall. I just happened to notice it while I was searching Google Maps for things to do in the area.

Pretty easy to see why it has the name that it does. First, there's limited parking in the area. There's a roadside viewpoint that many cars stop at, but most people don't know to go for a short walk. There are no signs advertising this natural attraction. And, most importantly, it can only be accessed right at low tide.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Rainy day at Donegal Castle

We've been lucky with the weather so far this Ireland trip, but after yesterday we're guessing things are back to normal for the rest of the trip. That's okay... we have raincoats and umbrellas!

Oh, yesterday evening I posted our June expenses... you can read them here if you missed the post... https://www.travelwithkevinandruth.com/2023/06/june-expenses-higher-than-budget.html

Friday, June 30, 2023

June Expenses - higher than budget!

We spent the entire month of June touring Ireland in our motorhome, other than the five days we were housesitting north of Dublin.

At the end of May, we told you that our budget for the month of June was a paltry $1,490 CAD (€1,032, $1,125 USD). 

While the budget was ambitious, it actually would have been under that if not for four different unexpected large expenses!

Not exactly what we had planned!

We got up and drove right away at 6:30am Thursday morning, and when I fired up Max a warning light came on that said the pressure was low in the left front tire.

I thought "that's odd", because I had only checked and topped up the pressure in all tires two days before. 

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Trying to figure a plan!

Well, it looks like we're definitely going to have a visitor in August. We haven't booked it yet, but we think we've devised a plan to have grandson Cameron (12) come and tour some of Europe with his grandma and grandpa.

Most of the logistical problems relate to the fact that they live near Halifax, Nova Scotia and there aren't many direct flights from Halifax to anywhere across the pond. He can only fly direct to either London, or Frankfurt.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

I think we must be approaching a record number of beautiful, free overnight spots!

Regular readers know that we don't use campgrounds very often, especially when they are as expensive as they are here in Ireland. Max is self sufficient, and we don't have the need for all the services a campground offers. 

Plus, Ireland offers so many gorgeous free overnight possibilities!

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

There are three defibrillators along the route...

Not much in the way of sunshine yesterday, but we still got out for another big uphill climb without getting too wet!

When we had climbed Diamond Hill the day before, we had been talking to a local lady who said we should also climb Clough Patrick... Ireland's Holy Mountain. Nora, whose driveway we stayed in had also mentioned this hike to us so we thought we had better include it too providing the weather was good.

Monday, June 26, 2023

We had a busy day, with photos to prove it...

Lots of photos!

Our first stop was the town of Clifden, but the parking situation on a Sunday morning wasn't the best for motorhomes. We ended up doing a little grocery shopping at the local Lidl, and moving on to Clifden Castle and not really seeing the town at all. 

But, we would rather spend our time walking around the countryside than walking around a town anyhow.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

On our way to Clifden, but we never made it

Clifden is supposed to be a picturesque little tourist town surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Sounds great, so we were on our way there but we got sidetracked... by the breathtaking scenery along the way!

Partly our fault though because we didn't get on the road until around 11:00am.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Friday evening out at the pub

It kind of drizzled on and off all day, and we didn't leave the motorhome until about 8:00pm in the evening!

But, we were due for a relaxing day of doing nothing... and there's nothing wrong with that every now and again. I got caught up on some internet stuff, and got our ferry to Wales booked.

Friday, June 23, 2023

A beautiful day in Galway, and now doing some driveway camping!

It was a gorgeous sunny day yesterday here in western Ireland! 

Wednesday night, we had been parked a few miles east of the city of Galway. I found us a good free parking spot just north of the city, but it would mean a 3.5 km walk just to get to the central area. But with hardly a cloud in the sky, we decided that was our best option.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Travel planning and the weather

As full time travelers, we do a lot of our planning around the weather. The ideal for us is to have shorts and t-shirt type of weather with daily high temperatures between 18C and 25C (64F to 77F).

The problem for us is that we also want to visit countries that are outside of those parameters! So we sometimes have to bite the bullet and put up with temperatures or weather conditions that are less than ideal.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Cliffs of Moher, part 2

Up and on the road early again, and we drove right away into the touristy town of Doolin. Every second building is a bed and breakfast or hotel or guesthouse. 

Doolin is the starting point if you want to walk to the Cliffs of Moher from the north heading south. It's also where the ferries set off from if you want to visit the Aran Islands.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

The Cliffs of Moher. Worth a visit, however...

There's a beautiful walking trail at the Cliffs of Moher, but the challenge is finding free parking at what has become a very popular and touristy natural attraction.

But we are resourceful, and we don't mind walking!

Monday, June 19, 2023

From one graveyard to the next

Sunday morning, we hung around the graveyard for a while. It was such a nice peaceful spot. A local farmer walked by with his dog and was tending to a herd of cows across the road. Ruth went out and spoke to him, and he apologized if his cows bothered us in the night!

Really nice guy, and we had a good chat with him. Everybody we meet here in Ireland is so cheerful.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

We met Max two years ago today!

We were reminded this morning that today is our second anniversary with Max. He has been a great travel companion, so I thought we should show some of our highlights with Max over the past two years.

We picked him up in Dulmen, Germany on June 18, 2021 right in the middle of the Covid pandemic. 

Boy, did we ever get dumped on!

Well, we managed to do 90 kms (54 miles) worth of driving yesterday, but it still feels like we didn't get very far. 

We started off heading to the beach town of Ballybunion where there are some colorful cliffs and sea caves that we wanted to see. We didn't check the tide schedule beforehand, and simply got lucky... the tide was all the way out!

Saturday, June 17, 2023

I figured I had better go get this looked at

Long time readers will remember when we had our eye surgery in Turkiye. Time flies, because believe it or not that was two and a half years ago!

And for that period, we have been totally happy with our eyes. Well, until a few weeks ago I noticed that one eye was a bit funny. 

Friday, June 16, 2023

Gorgeous scenery

We figured we had better get a move on if we're going to make it around Ireland and back to Dublin by the middle of next month. We've already decided that our onward travels on this particular trip won't include Scotland. It would just be too rushed for us.

Instead, we're going to make our way back to Dublin by mid July and take the ferry from there to Holyhead, Wales. 

Thursday, June 15, 2023

The most westerly point in Ireland

We woke up yesterday morning to heavy fog. It's kind of pointless doing a scenic coastal drive under those conditions, so we did the short drive into the town of Dingle and parked at the local Lidl grocery store and waited for the 8:00am opening.

We did some grocery shopping (once again, cheaper than we expected it to be) and sat out the fog until we noticed it starting to burn off around 10:00am.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Made it to the Dingle Peninsula

I was looking at some of our website statistics the other day, and noticed that 35% of our readers use a mobile phone to access Travel with Kevin and Ruth. That's higher than I thought it would be. Given that, I thought I would pass along a little tip.

When you visit us on a desktop or laptop, you see the full version with the nice header picture. But when you visit us on a smartphone, you will typically see the abbreviated "mobile" version.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Tough hike to the highest point in Ireland!

We got up at 6:30am and drove the narrow single lane road up to the parking area for the hike up Carrauntoohil... the highest mountain in Ireland.

We had our breakfast at the parking area, then packed our backpacks and set off at about 8:20am. We had read that the 12 km (7.5 mile) hike would take between six to eight hours.

Monday, June 12, 2023

We're going to get an early start and go for it!

We got up at 6:30am Sunday morning, and the first thing we did was to drive the short distance to the parking area at the Gap of Dunloe. It's a popular spot, and we wanted to make sure we had somewhere to park Max, especially on a Sunday when it would likely be busy.

And the plan came together just like that. We got a good parking spot for Max, and yes it did become busy!

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Hiking up Torc Mountain, Ireland

When we were in the parking lot for Torc Waterfall the other day, I had seen a trail leading up Torc Mountain. We didn't have time to do it then, but decided to return yesterday to do the hike.

Weather conditions weren't great... but we needed some exercise! The temperature was pleasant, but there was some wind and it was overcast, although there was no rain to speak of in the forecast.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

The trails are absolutely beautiful

First stop of the day was to head up to the parking lot for Torc Waterfall. From there, several trails lead in various directions. Most of them seemed pretty quiet, but there were quite a few people on the short waterfall trail. 

You can stay overnight at the waterfall parking lot, but there is no cellular access.

Friday, June 9, 2023

The Rock of Cashel, and on to Killarney National Park

One of our facebook fans mentioned yesterday that it's hard to absorb the ages of some of these ancient buildings. Being from Canada, where an old building might be 200 years, we are always amazed when we are in structures that are maybe 800 years old. It's truly hard to comprehend. After all, we were taught in school that history began when Christopher Columbus "discovered" America in 1492!

I remember the first time this really sunk in. We were in a big church in Czechia that was built around the year 1100. I mean, we had been in old buildings in England quite a few times before, but this was when I really started thinking about it.