Africa 2017

Africa 2017

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Preparing for our journey to Tanzania

     It is less than a week from our departure to Tanzania.  The excitement of this adventure caught up with me in the last month as I eyed my closet of what I would and should bring along.  Then again, the reality hit with the emails from the Big Five Travel of our itinerary.  Seeing the photos from the links of where we shall be staying at best made me pause to wonder that I would really be going to Africa.  I suppose anyone who knows me has thought that the chance of me being on a Safari to Africa would be quite low on my bucket list.  Little do they know me.....

      Okay.  It would be dishonest of me to say that I didn't wonder what possessed me to agree to go to a place that by all accounts is outside my comfort zone.  Camping?  Not it's called Glamping because there will be a big cozy bed inside a thin walled canvas tent and there will be a real toilet and a sink with water.  Hhhhmmm....last time I camped it was in a tiny tent with a sleeping bag on the ground that was prepared with a layer of pine needles below to soften the surface.  No toilet except the one outside aways from where we held camp and certainly no sink with water.

     Previous camp experience also remembers a bear snuffling and sniffing outside our tent while I tried to not think about the call of nature I was feeling in my bladder but decided I was NOT stepping outside anytime soon while something bigger and wild was roaming in the campground.  Oh two of our Glamping camps the animals are allowed to roam freely around us.  And just how will I feel when I look out and see zebras or even elephants strolling by?  Ha!  I'll get back to you on this one.

     I take preparation for trips seriously.  I study and read reviews and hem and haw over everything.   My dear husband packs a day before and is not in the least bit concerned if he might forget something.  But this is a long, long ways from home or a convenient shopping center, nor can I do Amazon Prime while I'm away.  Thank goodness for Amazon Prime!  This is a journey of thoughtful necessities because one needs to travel light.

     Now a really important part of traveling to exotic locations is vaccinations and what is needed and required.  I knew enough about this because husband and son traveled to Tanzania and Kenya 4 years ago.  They didn't seem to have any problems with their vaccinations except for sore arms for several days.   We made our appointment with the Travel Clinic and I checked in with the local pharmacy for an update of DTP.  I had my flu shot in the Fall thus I did not need to add this to the multitude of shots to come.   Lucky husband didn't need much but an update of the Typhoid shot.  I needed Typhoid, and Hepatitis A.  I was told I didn't need Yellow Fever due to it not being an issue in the area of Tanzania we were going so I passed that one up.  I shall sing strong praises for the Travel Doctor because I barely was sore from the shots days later.

     Then I started worrying, which is never good, about maybe I should have gotten the Yellow Fever shot.  It may not be required for Tanzania but, if for some rare reason we had to land elsewhere from where we were to land it could cause a problem with not having the Yellow Fever vaccination on my paperwork.  I could actually be denied entry if we landed elsewhere in Africa and then landed in Arusha where we are suppose to land.  That's all it takes for me.  And lets face it, travel these days is not always smooth.  I scheduled my appointment for the shot and it wouldn't happen till two weeks before our departure.  Then the day before I was to go the Doctor was ill and next opportunity would be the week before our departure.  Okay.  At least I'll get it done.

     The shot goes in the back side of your upper arm.  Different.  A most peculiar feeling when the vaccine hits the body.  I've had that with many flu shots but it quickly dissipates.  The Yellow Fever shot sends a feeling that I can describe as being juiced up on caffeine.  Or maybe I was just nervous getting the shot.  Regardless I left the office and went home to an afternoon of watching a movie and ironing.  Nothing taxing.  Then I began having a mild headache that while annoying didn't affect me at the time.  Another hour or so I felt my neck was a bit achy and I still had the mild headache.  Just great and I hope this doesn't last long.  By late afternoon I'd taken some ibuprofen to see if that makes this a tad better.  My next symptom was fair more annoying.  Fatigue and intestinal cramping.  This only got worse as the evening went on till finally after dinner I needed to take a bath which I hoped would make me feel better.  I tried to stay up but eventually I crawled into bed and prayed I wouldn't get worse.  Apparently you can get flu like symptoms and I suppose this is just what was happening.  I couldn't believe how fatigued I felt and the cramps would come and go till unwelcome as it was, I had the trots.  After that I lay in bed till sleep finally came and hoped in the morning I felt back to myself.

     Morning came but my energy was flat.  I managed to get up and have some oatmeal then back to bed.  And that was my morning, flat in the bed with the occasional cramping and fatigue.  Just after noontime I made myself get up and take a shower hoping this would help.  I did feel a bit more energized.   The next day I felt good thankfully.  Then today I was fine till mid afternoon when I felt fatigued once more.  Really?  And this is how I begin my blogging before our upcoming trip.  Sitting on the sofa with the pup who will be left behind for 17 days, sipping some mint tea, and resting as I look at the lovely blue sky outside.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Storr

     Drama.  Big Drama.   Looking at the landscape of where we were heading Tim and I thought of "The Lord of the Rings", "Game of Thrones" and "Outlander" films.  Can this be real?

     That is where we are hiking on a day of mixed sky of blue, fast passing clouds, rain, and wind.  Clouds that demand attention for their epic visuals of heavenly greatness.  Just as the munros do.

     The road from Portree is a ribbon of two lane roads with the occasional single-track to liven the driving experience  Thus far Skye's roads are two lanes unlike Mull which had more single-track lanes.  Good thing because there are more cars and touring buses I have noted.  Not heavy traffic by any means this time of year as it is nearing the end of the tourist trade for the most part.

     This was our first place we could turnout to take some photos of The Old Man of Storr which is the phallic shaped point you see in the distance.  Look at the sky!  The clouds played with me the entire drive.

Then this body of water came into our view with the Storr Munros in our view once again....

     Below the munros there is a small parking lot where somehow we snagged a spot.  Otherwise it appears parking is along the road (which isn't so bad after I looked down from the trail, because at least it wasn't muddy like the lot).  

     The trail head begins on a broad gravel path with some boggy spots along the way.  After you leave through several gates, and as the trail becomes gradually steeper, the path gives way to rocks, gravel, and muddy slopes.  You have to think where to put your foot in many areas.  Tim did a right good spill in front of me with a hand splat into some oozy mud.  Lucky there is plenty of wet grassy areas all around to "wash off" with.  Thank you Mother Nature.  I'll let the next photos speak for themselves.....

     Rain clouds blew in swiftly from time to time but look what happens in the sky!  Glorious!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sometimes travel doesn't go smoothly

     It's a rest day for Tim and I.  Not because of a lack of what we could be doing but along the road of travel malady comes to detour a day.  Early on I caught a cold and despite the obvious symptoms of it I was luckily only feeling my worst for one afternoon and evening.  Unfortunately Tim is under the weather today.  Seems he ate one bad oyster, or so we think and he is in bed.  Not going anywhere for the time being.

     It's not the end of the world.  We may not see some sights we had wanted to go to but we get some down time when travel keeps you constantly go, go, go!  I have time to blog!  Read.  Rest.  Not sure how I'll get lunch or dinner since I can't drive the car, then again maybe there is takeout somewhere or I could get a cab.  We are too far to walk into town, though it could be a journey of it's own if I did.

     I'll share some of the fantastic meals we have had, and not show Tim since he wouldn't be interested in looking at food right now.

Back in Edinburgh we had lunch at Hemma.  My salad was Slow Roasted Tomato and Sweet Potato with puy lentils, asparagus, toasted pine nuts and greens.   Perfectly what I was wanting after our hike up to the top of Arthur's Seat.

At our first lodging, Carberry Tower ~ The Rose Garden dining room two of our starters were lovely to see and wonderful in flavor.
 A stuffed squash blossom filled with israeli couscous, puy lentils, and thinly sliced baby zucchini surrounded by cubed butternut squash.

Tim had a beet salad smear with a round goat cheese rolled in herbs with toasts.

Of course Tim ordered this sinfully good dessert of fudge brownie crumbled with whipped cream ....mmmmmm.  Gone lickity split!

Near where we stayed Loch Fyne Seafood & Grill was highly recommended to go to and yes it was superbly prepared seafood.  Tim ordered oysters for a starter.  Smaller than we have had typically in California with less salty flavor and some sweetness.  He said they were wonderfully.

Loch Fyne Seafood & Grill

     As we waited for our ferry that would take us to the Isle of Mull, we were told we must have lunch at the green fish shack right next to the ferry.  Fresh from the ship that day and what a busy place this was.

We both ordered the grilled scallops with butter and garlic.  Sweet and large and the only thing I wish I had was some crusty sourdough bread or Acme bread of any type.  Bread here has been all over the place but for the most part it isn't exciting.  Typically sliced brown bread is what we have had.  Then again I don't eat much bread at home.

On our arrival at Strongarbh House we were asked if we would like some tea.  Yes please!  Oh the delicate apple treat we were served.  I was over the moon happy with each bite I took.  Jane one of the owners, bakes daily and she is quite the cook!

     Dinner that night we had made reservations at Cafe Fish.  I had Pistachio crusted John Dory sitting atop a creamy broth of lemongrass and curry with the lemon grass sliced thinly, perfectly tender for the greens beneath.

  We were served our meal by a young man in a kilt!  Great service and great food on a very rainy evening.

     A heavier meal was enjoyed by us another night on Mull.  Hebridean Lodge is out of the heart of Tobermory and worth the short drive.  The chef does an incredible meal on her own with two young women serving.  I opted for a vegetarian meal of a tart filled with veggies, a bowl filled with small potatoes and local Mull cheese melted on top with some greens sauteed on the side.

Tim did a surf and turf of langostinos and highland beef.  He also ordered the cheesy potatoes and the same greens.

     I have to admit looking at the photos of all the food shots I have done, I am getting hungry.  Can't get out however.  Tim has offered me his toast he has not eaten that I brought up on a tray.  Poor boy.  I think I'll make a cup of tea and grab the fruit bar we still have.  Nibble some almonds I brought on the trip and pray he is up to eating dinner.

   Until the next post!  Ta ta!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Isle of Skye ~ Where the sky is grand but the land is too

     What a glorious drive to the Isle of Skye!  Seriously the country of Scotland is beyond scenic but really it is the combo of land and the sky that create visuals of a dream that you at last see in real time.

      Lochs, quaint villages, narrow roads that wind around the lochs, sheep, cattle, and forever views.  Darn that there are not more turnouts!  I would have Tim stop at every one but there are very few and my mind is still filled with the images I have seen to date.  And honestly, my photos could never, ever capture the scenes I have seen.

     It took us the better part of the day, leaving Tobermory by 9:40 am and getting to our B & B on Skye by 4:00 pm.   We had our second less than worth the time to write about meal.  If only we had stopped earlier or driven a bit more we could have eaten something a wee better.  But not knowing the road or what we might find we stopped.  It was a large shopping, cafeteria style place (why didn't we drive on?!) We listened to an endless circle of bagpipe music of greatest pop hits.  Really.  I sort of thought we should see if there was a greatest bagpipe music of Christmas music and share that at the holidays.  For all of our family, we did not look.  You are safe!

     Skye.  If you can go.....go.  Coming across the Skye bridge you feel the uniqueness of the island.  Immediately the sky is different.  Really.  Rainbows!  Lots of rainbows!  Rain showers lend way to dappled sunshine and clouds that hold court with the heavens.

     So photos of our drive in....?  Sorry.  But I shall share photos of the Castle we passed and shall go to when we leave Skye.  We stopped to take photos because it wasn't raining and when that happens you get the camera out and start shooting.  That might be your one and only chance.

    This is Eilean Donan Castle and honestly it is from a fairly tale.  That is my humble opinion but you can decide.

      My cold has made a turn for the better though it isn't gone.  Thankfully I'm up and have energy.  But Tim and I both wonder if the water has been bothering us.  Both of us have had some light stomach issues and that is the only common food/liquid we had come up with.  Hhhhhmmm.  Oh well....just a part of travel.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Stormy day on the Isle of Mull

     It was a lovely day on Mull.  Well....for awhile till 1:30 pm, then the rain began and to blow, and gust.  It was quite smart of us to follow the weather app and get back before the storm set in.

    We set off to do a hike on the property of Glengorm Castle which is not far but takes far longer to get there because of the roads.  You can't drive fast or even a steady speed on single track roads.  Nope.  We have decided that ALL Audi drivers think THEY own the road and don't need to slow down for anyone or go to the passing turnouts. No they just barrel on.  Everyones else waves as you politely take the turnout for whomever is nearest to it.  All very civil.

     Glengorm isn't ancient or a ruin and is a hotel you can stay at.  Very stately and has some amazing views from the top of the hill it is perched upon.  We parked in the car park at the Glengorm Coffee Shop and set out on a clearly marked path.  Distant views of the ocean and a lonely home in a vast land of contrast.


A path to where?

After awhile we look back at the view of Glengorm Castle sitting regal on the rise.

Many, many stone wall fences for all the sheep and cattle.  I find them all ancient and rustic with a touch of charm added.

We come upon the three Standing Stones of Glengorm and take a walk down to them and check them out.  These are the only circle of standing stones on the Isle of Mull.

We see many sheep and these adorable Highland Cattle Mama and her babies.  Yes...there were twins but only this one was nearest mama.

We had planned on going to see the fort of Dun Ara but even with my written out directions, my hubby thought we were to stay on the well marked path instead of the grassy field we were meant to cross by the standing stones.  So we ventured on without knowing our way, on to a small bay inlet, which is when we knew we must be on the wrong path.  It was a lovely walk just the same.  By the time we made it back to where we were to go it began to rain.  We went on for awhile till we could see all the animals beginning to lay down, which to me is a sign of rain coming and not just a mist or light rain.  With that we headed back to the coffee shop for some much needed coffee to warm up.  It was COLD on the walk though I was plenty warm under my coat.  My face could have used something to cover my mouth and nose.  

  This is the fort of Dun Ara....we did see it but just didn't climb upon it.  At least we found it in the end.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Full days

     We have had full days since our trip began and very little down time for blogging.  Really had thought that I would have some feet up on the bed time to share but sometimes rest is far more important than typing.

    Scotland has far surpassed my expectations when it comes to hospitality, beautiful scenery, and we have had some delicious food.  We now are where the seafood has literally been just caught and brought to sell with Tim grinning ear to ear for all the choices he must make of what to order.

    I'm skipping a few days ahead of where I last wrote, and shall jump back to those previous days at some point.  My head is a tad foggy as I came down with a dreaded cold last night.  Not awful but enough to feel not myself fully.  Some wonderful gift has been bestowed upon me when we checked into Strongbarbh House in Tobermory, as there is a bathtub!  And not just a bathtub but one that I am shorter than it is long size tub.  Who doesn't appreciate a warm, hot, soaking bath when you have a cold?  After our amazing dinner (no really, it was amazing) we came back in the Scottish rain, and I declared that I was off to soak and steam for however long my body needed.  Apparently I needed that lengthy time and since we are here for another two nights I will soak at least once a day.

   We left Arrochar this morning with blue skies and a foggy mist that played around the curves of the road but never enough that we were blind.  The Lochs in Scotland are incredibly scenic.  I'm going to keep repeating myself but it is true.  Clean too.  No trash for 98% of the time.  Of course it isn't highly occupied with suburbia.

    If I was to make any request to Scotland it would be to have some extra scenic turnouts for those of us whom enjoy taking photos.  So far where there has been turnouts they have been heavily blocked by trees and shrubs.  Then the ones that do allow for a view are crowed with cars.  So without any place to pull into, we oohed and awed around every bend, because it is so pretty!  In fact we passed a Loch called Loch Awe.  How about that.  And there was a castle nearby that I did so want to stop and view from across the Loch but the turnout was packed.

    Did I mention the two lane roads are narrow?  And we pass some wide lorries and caravans?  Quite a thrill on some turns.  Then you have some crazy bicyclist who is on a ride in the mix.  Must keep on your toes.  Grateful I am not driving!

     We made it to Oban which is where we shall take the car ferry to the Isle of Mull.  Busy little town that we didn't have time to journey around except to visit a pharmacy, eat some lunch and then leave.  Another time....

      Our host at the B & B in Arrochar had said we must eat at the fish shack next to the ferry as all the catch is fresh from the nets.  We both had scallops soaked in butter and garlic.  Sweet flavored with this interesting orange thingy attached.  I didn't eat it but Tim did.


The ferry was immaculate.  People in Scotland are not piggy.  They are clean and tidy.  Did I say already how cute the little old ladies sound?  I adore hearing them chatter with their sing-song voices.

Here are some views from our trip on the ferry:

    Good night all....I need some sleep eye.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Carberry Tower

     Carberry Tower is just as I thought if would look, which is always nice when you make a reservation ages ago.  We managed to find the route via TimTim (hehe!), but being only one road off the main highway certainly helps.

     A long driveway that is lined with tall shady trees, just beginning their Fall color, leads us to the front of the stone structure that will be our home for three nights.  Bright green lawns, neatly trimmed surround the Tower in the front and we enter a wood paneled entry into the reception area.  A fireplace with built in stone seats and some pillows tossed on them is at one end and next to that an armored suit stands sentry to the room.  Above the fireplace is a deer skull (?) with antler horns, and  I rather would have this than the deer head and the haunting eyes gazing down.  The young woman at the desk greets us, handles the business side of checking in and we are passed our keys.

     Our rooms are to be side by side which will be nice.  There is a lift down a corridor and we laugh a bit as it is tiny and I send Megan up with her bags and Tim and I take it next.  Third floor.  We follow the numbers and back track as we have gone the wrong way but now must take our bags down and up a mini flight of stairs to go through another door that leads us to another hall and our rooms are


     Did I mention they have a low ceiling?  Tim and low ceilings are not good and the rooms are smaller than I imagined.  I send Tim down to talk to the young woman at the desk.   There is only one room available on the second floor that is a larger room.  We go down to check it out and it indeed has high ceilings.  And it feels larger.  Megan's room, in the end is a cozy, sweet room and she is fine with it.

Tim's and my room

     After a much needed washing up and tiding the hair we go downstairs to do a bit of exploring.  I'm a bit hungry as we had a light lunch that feels like it was ages ago and I remembering they do an afternoon tea.  But to our dismay you need to reserve this and we are a tad late in the day.  I was truly looking forward to a scone with jam and tea but we must be happy with a pot of tea and that is fine in the end.  The lady we have spoken to tells us to go out into the garden and she will bring us tea soon.  And what a lovely garden of trimmed boxwoods, late roses, a gurgling fountain and beyond this walled delight are vast lawns that spread out to a perimeter of dense trees.  Nearer us is a large, and clearly gorgeous old Canadian Beech tree with branches spread to the ground like a long gown.  They had lost some branches in the area facing the garden which has now made a lovely spot for weddings we are told.

     Our tea arrives and we rest our weary bodies, savor the tea, and enjoy the views that surround us.  After that we take a nice walkabout of the grounds.  Carberry Tower is quiet and tranquil.  I think all will be well for our time here.

     We had dinner in their dining room in the which all in all was delicious.  I must share photos of two items we ordered.  Megan's first course looked so beautiful.  I forgot my camera the first night but brought it the second evening. Warm couscous filling a squash blossom with the tiniest of zucchini sliced lengthwise with cubed butternut squash and puy lentils and herbs and pea shoots.  I ordered this the second night...heaven.

        Tim had  Thinly Sliced Beets with Goat Cheese that had herbs dusted around it's perimeter and toasts.

     It was a fine evening with Megan having me try her new found drink that warms your body nicely, a Hot Toddy (whisky, water, honey and lemon, served of course hot) and a bottle of wine to celebrate our gathering here in Scotland.  Then off to bed for our next day adventure.