Thursday, December 8, 2016

Montenegro—my new favourite place

We often travel by cruise ship because it's a great way to see many different places in a fairly short period of time. Of course, we only see a small part of each country or city, but it is enough to give us a taste of what each place offers.
Last month's cruise stopped in Montenegro, and the Norwegian Spirit offered a shore excursion for people like me, people who can't walk very far very fast. I was immediately smitten with the city of Kotor in Montenegro.
I've mentioned this port before, but with only a few photos. Now you get to see my favourite port.

Above is my favourite photo because,
if you look closely,
you can see the lamp post
reflected in the puddle on the street.

I looked at Kotor's peaceful harbour, at its palm trees, ivy, and flowers, and I thought I could live here. Of course I can't, because of the dampness, but I can dream.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Foreign exchange foreign to me

An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel blogger Kay Davies (that would be me) recently home from a trip to Scotland, England and Europe (that would be me, too) was surfing online and discovered a Huffington Post article on foreign exchange rates by Stephanie Caudle, Managing Editor, She's My Superwoman.

The article intrigued me enough to set me to quoting it without direct permission. My thanks, however, to Ms Caudle and to the Huffington Post, as well as apologies if those are deemed necessary.

I admit I was nervous when I chose to buy Sterling and Euros before I left Canada all by my somewhat dithery self. (Okay, more than somewhat, as Damon Runyon used to say.)

I based my which-bank decision on location, not on any particular bank's foreign exchange rate. More fool I, perhaps, but that's how I looked at it in October. (Get there quickly and easily and get right back home.) Don't tell anyone that 'quickly' meant I left my wallet in my car, thus approaching the bank teller without it, and having to rush (i.e. waddle quickly) back to the car. Returning to the same teller, I was quite pleased with myself for finding both British Pounds and Scottish pounds, the latter of which I never knew existed, but which I loved immediately. (See what I mean about me?)

I wish I had learned of Ms Caudle's wisdom earlier:

"When it comes to local currency exchange, it’s important to recognize there are two sets of exchange rates. There is the Bank of Canada published rates that we can find online and in the newspaper, then there are the exchange rates your bank actually uses when you buy U.S. cash with Canadian currency.
"The lower published rates reflect what banks use when they exchange enormous sums of money amongst themselves, (but) the rates they charge us are typically as much as 3% higher.
"Exchange rates fluctuate from one financial institution to the next and are typically set by the individual banks themselves."
(Note: I had heard of the Canadian Snowbirds Association but didn't realize it offers "better-than-bank rates through online transfers.")
The article went on to say “The banks...don’t compete on price...we are keeping them honest and helping Canadians save,” according to Rahim Madhavji, president of Toronto’s Knightsbridge Foreign Exchange Inc., a firm he co-founded after quitting his job at the Royal Bank of Canada in 2009.
"The Snowbirds and Knightsbridge are putting the power of bulk buying into the hands of the individual, and in doing so, are giving Canadians the opportunity to beat the banks at their own game."

Linking with Lady Fi's Our World Tuesday meme

Birthday, yes...but seriously...

I got about 40 "Happy 70th Birthday" wishes via Facebook on Thursday, and I'm "tickled pink" — to use a phrase from my youth.
I've been on the planet a long time, and I've survived it all, even the worst bits. I am very grateful for that.
However, this is not the world into which I was born in British Columbia in 1946. Never mind the obvious differences from the 1940s to the 21st dress styles and cars, radio and the first television...
Today we live on the brink of a global disaster. Polar ice cap melting, oceans polluted, along with rivers, lakes and streams. (Not to mention war, famine, disease, and shocking political debacles.)
What can we do? I don't know now. I believe we're past the tipping point, as others have also said.
I think of my late father,  and his books about the Living Rivers of British Columbia. He lived long enough to see the beginning of our global melt-down, but I'm actually glad he's not alive today to see how much worse things have become. His living rivers might soon die.
I miss Dad dearly, but I wouldn't have wanted him to see his beloved rivers killed by garbage and other detritus, and in grave danger of a worse disaster—fossil fuels, specifically potentially leaky oil pipelines.
Now, don't get me wrong, I really do understand about people who work in the "oil patch" here in Alberta and elsewhere: of course I know they need jobs in order to feed their families, but I believe the dangers of transporting oil across our land and our oceans will far outweigh the benefits.
Therefore, I believe federal and provincial governments should look at paying displaced oil patch personnel while they train for other jobs...yes, the people who depend upon fossil fuel revenues to feed their families are important. They are very important, I understand that, but not any more so than other Canadians who depend upon oceans, forests, lakes and rivers for their livelihood, indeed for their very lives.
By paying people as they re-train for jobs such as building solar panels, wind turbines, and other new and exciting technology, we could save our environment: oceans, rivers, forests, lakes and streams, as well as the oil-patch workers.
I do not understand why any country, including Canada, would endanger the environment in exchange for money.
If our country is dead, money will mean nothing.
Our prime minister who, before he was elected, seemed to be opposed to reliance on fossil fuels, has instead approved new two pipelines to be built through my beloved country. I thought it was his beloved country, too, as it was his father's before him, but now I wonder.
There was Justin, on TV a few days ago, talking about money, from the other side of the world, in exchange for Canadian oil, about oil revenues being so great for the country's economy.
But what kind of country will his children and grandchildren inherit when its oceans, forests, lakes and rivers — even the land itself— are polluted and die after one or more oil disasters?
I voted for Prime Minister Trudeau, thinking "Pierre's kid" had an education that taught him to face, head on, the dangers to Canada.
Look, Justin...and look, fellow Canadians, it can be done, look at what other countries have accomplished:

5 Countries Leading the Way Toward 100% Renewable Energy (2015)

It's not that Canada doesn't know about these things: on the Government of Canada website we see a discussion about various types of energy, including wind, solar, and ocean energy (who knew?) along with fossil fuels because it is a government website, after all, and can't ignore the energy now being touted by its leader. 
However, I am one of those British Columbia-born leftwing pinko radicals who, if I were young and healthy again, would be in Burnaby, BC, protesting the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. And, although I'm very glad, even grateful, that Prime Minister Trudeau did not approve the particularly scary Northern Gateway pipeline shown here, still he and his cohort, Federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, did approve enlarging the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline which threatens the province of Manitoba. That one could become Canada's equivalent of Standing Rock to the south.
I wouldn't want to be suffering the cruel winter weather which has hit the Standing Rock protestors, but I do wish I could be one of them.
The young me, with a job that allowed me to take unpaid time off pretty much as often as I wanted it, would be spending time with all three groups of protestors.
Plus, that job paid very well and, if I had it now, I could afford to send money to all three protest groups.
However, technology pretty much erased that went the way of all good things. I was a printer and, when I lived in Vancouver, I set type for the city's two daily newspapers, along with 300 other journeyman compositors, most of whom are dead now, just as our International Typographical Union is dead: killed by technological change.
But don't get me started on the much-mourned ITU.
It isn't the world into which I was born in 1946.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Same face? I don't know

Me, 2006
Me, 2016

Mom, 2003

I remember visiting with Mom and Dad at their place in Mexico...San Felipe, Baja Norte, on the Sea of Cortez, around the turn of the century.

Mom and I were in town, shopping or just strolling, I forget...but a truck stopped to let us cross at an intersection and the driver called to us..."Look, same face!"
It was Mom and Dad's good friend Julio, who had known them well for a number of years. He and Dad always had a grand time fishing together.

Maybe Julio had never seen the two of us side by side in those years, despite my visiting them occasionally and his visiting them often, or maybe it just didn't occur to him, but I've wondered ever since.
I never really thought I looked like my mother, but perhaps I was wrong...I posted this to my Facebook page and everyone says yes...same face!

Linking to Lady Fi's popular meme,
Our World Tuesday

Friday, November 25, 2016

A little bit of sign fun

In our Scottish travels my friend Yam and I saw these hilarious (to me) signs, and she had the foresight to photograph them.

Signs of the times? Well, they make growing old a whole lot funnier. Apparently the first one can be seen in many places as the population of Great Britain ages.

As I'm not exactly in peak condition today, I thought I'd just post one more post, then go about finding a cure for what ails me. (No, no hair of the dog, although we have plenty of dog hair around our house.)

 Yamini MacLean photos

A lifelong dream, the Isle of Skye

As you may have noticed, my posts from my recent Scotland/England/Europe travels are not in any particular order. The first day of my journey with my blog friend Yamini MacLean, we were on our way the Scottish Highlands with an overnight stop on the Isle of Skye.

I must admit, up front, that my hope to see Skye had its roots in my youth when the popular Scottish singer Andy Stewart made famous a song called "Donald, where's yer troosers?" Donald, the song says, had just come down from the Isle of Skye, and was "no verra big and awfu' shy" when he appeared in his kilt in London. Said he, "The lassies shout when I go by, "Donald, where's yer troosers?"

Well, having Scottish ancestors on both sides of our family, my brother Clint and I had a wonderful time with this song when we were young, and I've loved Andy Stewart ever after, and have long yearned to visit the west of Scotland.

It's easy to find Andy Stewart on youtube, but the following link will lead you to my favourite of his songs, which actually isn't Donald and his troosers. My thanks to youtuber bruinebeer99 and I hope my use of this link in this instance is alright with you.

Above, Lochgilphead
Photos by Yamini Ali MacLean

Below, on Skye, the Broadford Hotel,
which Yam and I recommend heartily.

Below: here am I on the Isle of Skye

Below: autumn on the Isle.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Arrived in Montenegro

I fell in love with a small, mountainous country when the Norwegian Spirit, on an Aegean/Mediterranean cruise, stopped in the beautiful seaside/hillside town of Kotor in Montenegro.
A Montenegran tour bus picked up my group of passengers (those of us who couldn't walk very far or very fast) but the driver didn't have to take us far before he stopped.
He parked in a peaceful spot in Kotor, near the end of a road of historic seaside buildings, so that we could walk back a bit to photograph the homes and businesses, boats, fishermen, and cats.
We weren't the only ones who were out walking, however. Despite a main road up above, our parking spot was so peaceful it attracted walkers from virtually all walks of life:

There were white clouds above us when we got off the bus, and the dark clouds that followed did bring rain... but, fortunately, not enough to prevent us taking photos of the area where we were parked, and of every scenic step along the way.

Verdant green amongst the roadside rock.

Green seemed to turn to black when the storm clouds arrived.

And now for something completely different

It's a mackerel, as some members of my family would say...
because being on an Aegean/Mediterranean cruise not only made me feel better, but also look better.
Who knew?
My husband took this photo of me on board the Viking Spirit, before the stress of London's Heathrow Airport (the airport from hell for passengers who require assistance) and of flying from there to Calgary, Alberta, without any sleep. Then I was waiting hours for my husband to join me there, because we had made different flight arrangements, and he didn't get there in time—all of which had me looking just as bad as my pre-cruise self.

So, I just wanted to show you I could improve with a little bit of stress-free living. Let's hope I get my relaxed cruising self back.

Besides my new favourite photo of me, here is the funniest photo from Montenegro, my new favourite place in all the world:

Much more Montenegro to come, a well as many more Aegean/Mediterranean ports.
This post, however, is for Lady Fi's wonderful meme Our World Tuesday

Monday, November 21, 2016

Did I say so long? There's more Toulon

A last look at Toulon, France, with its naval base, dry dock, and massive body of water, part of the northern Mediterranean sea.
Fortifications of old still stand, overlooking the bay, and contrasting with today's modern naval vessels.

So long, Toulon, you're too long

My first view of Toulon was from an upper deck on the Norwegian Spirit, and it didn't appear too daunting.

Travels again, still in reverse order

When we are on a cruise, Dick likes to take on the most active of shore excursions, while I do the easy ones.
In Toulon, France, the easiest excursion on order was a tourist-boat ride around Toulon's huge waterfront, on the largest bay in France.
The sun was so bright I couldn't double-check any of my cell-phone photos because of the glare, so I have repeats of everything, often several, and it's taking me forever to edit them all.
Although our guide spoke at length about Toulon's naval fleet, including the dry dock with all its cranes, I turned my attention to seagulls, which I have always loved.
Indulge me on this one, please...the bay is so big that the gulls seem small, but I loved seeing them.

 From a T-shirt given to my brother Clint from his wife,  Maria, who also bought one each for their two sons.

Lindy is fine, thank you for asking

Many of my blogging friends have asked what our darlin' dog Lindy does when her daddy and I travel, so I must calm your fears...
We have wonderful friends, Gayle and Larry, who provide Lindy with a second home when we're away. She moves over there with all of her dog food and dishes, plus a supply of her favourite veggies, and money to buy more. Larry and Gayle won't take the money, so we always take them out for a nice lunch, brunch, or dinner, when their schedule allows.
Since Lindy first stayed with them, Gayle has taken up babysitting some other dogs, but she says our girl is still her favourite.
Who could resist this face?
These photos were all taken here at home, but let me tell you, Gayle and Larry have two matching couches, facing one another, in their living room...when Lindy is there, Gayle sleeps on one couch, with Lindy on the other.
Some of you will remember that, in our house (aka Lindy's house) we have installed Lindy-coloured flooring in the living room, dining room, and kitchen.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

When the moon shines over the...

Remember this month's super moon? The first since before I was born, I think, or when I was a baby, anyway. My parents never told me such a thing existed, or was possible, or anything. Not a deficiency in my upbringing, but certainly in my education.
Himself and I got a little arty with it that night. Fun. And the pilot boat, in Rome's seaport town of Civitavecchia, cooperated with us.