☀️ #2 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Florence, Italy”🇮🇹 (2014)

The Blind Sightseers logo

As Sarah & i were about to leave the room to try our first breakfast, we suddenly heard a faint sound of bells. We quickly rushed to the window and opened the inner windows and the outer shutters, and the sound was immense! I wanted to record the sound but the video below doesn’t do it justice.

The Breakfast…

The breakfast, i can only describe as an amazing taste sensation. The chef must have only had one knife though, as everything was sliced about an inch thick! What seemed like a block of cheese to us, was a slice to them. lol, but i didn’t want to seem rude and waste any! 🙂

The search for the Palace…

After filling up with breakfast, we started out on our primary objective for the day…to find the Palazzo Medici Riccardi where my photos will be exhibited in a few days time. 

Once out on the main street, i stood facing north (towards the Cathedral) and opened the Blindsquare app on my iPhone. I had save 2 locations to the favourites – the hotel and the palace, so they would b read out instantly and hopefully tell me (if the cellular network is good) where the locations are using a clock face description. It said “Palazzo Medici Riccardi is at 11’o clock at 350 yards”. Right let’s go! After passing the Florence Cathedral it was just a straight road until the Palace was on our left. Now to find the entrance which was another mammoth task for us …

A black and white photo of the amazing brick work of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi 1

We started walking around the outside of the whole building finding everything including a cash machine (very useful, clothes store & even a McDonalds (the poshest one we’ve ever seen). Finally we found it but we couldn’t see any sign of the Art Senses posters anywhere. We went inside anyway to have a look around where we’d maybe stumble across a tiny room being set up for the exhibition.

Inside the Palace…

Black and white photo taken from the inner courtyard looking up to the roof of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi arches 2

Black and white close up of the arches in the inner courtyard

Palazzo Medici Riccardi 3

As we were walking around, we both kept saying “I think we’re in the wrong building, there is no way the exhibition will be in here somewhere. But this place is amazing so we’ll keep looking”.

A photo of me looking upwards towards some amazingly designed door frames!

⇧ We totally need to get door frames like these!! 🙂 ⇧ 

Then a few minutes later i found a ceiling design for our home too!! lol.

an increible fresco ciellin g

As we entered the next couple of rooms, Sarah was oooing quite a lot, and now as i’m looking back over the photos to see what i was actually looking at, i should’ve known there were shoes!

Sarah shoes gallery

After being amazed for a while longer, we decided to double check outside to see if this really was the Palazzo Medici Riccardi….It was! 

I said “There is no way my photos are being exhibited in there, just no way”. 

Then as we turned to find our way back to the hotel, we suddenly realised there was a marathon going on!!

Yes a marathon, actually the 31st annual “Florence Marathon (Maratona di Firenze)”. Now the streets were not only packed, but worse still for us, blocked off so we couldn’t get back the way we came.

Photo of theFirenze Marathon

After a few hours of getting lost, trying different coffee shops and of course the clothes and shoe shops, we found ourselves by the river. Sarah said “oh, this is the river!!” I said “But isn’t the river south, way past the hotel in the other direction?”

Firenze River

We both realised we had no idea which way to go and we were both really tired from dodging people and with all of the noise, so we just decided to pick a street and walk up it. Then to our complete surprise as we were getting really fed up, Sarah said “That’s the sign to our hotel”, “No way, i had no idea we were here, now let’s get a takeaway coffee from our new local and rest for a while”.

A blue light shaped as a bell hanging over the street

After an eventful and tiring day, we decided to try heading east but only down one street as it’s dark now and we really don’t want to get lost again. The hanging street lights were beautiful and we found lots of clothes shops and a nice little sandwich/coffee bar to relax in for a while. 

As we returned to the hotel we booked a “Tuscany in a day” tour for the morning. We knew it was a lot in one day but it will be ideal for us. Now we were getting even more excited. I could be stood next to the leaning tower of Pisa!! No way!! 😀 

To be continued…

Previous Day 🇮🇹 Next Day ➡ 

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

 Tuscany Tour

☀️ #1 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Tuscany Tour” 🇮🇹 (2014)

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to this epic Blind Sightseers tour!

Here goes…I’m going to post everyday of our monumental adventure. This new endeavour is going to bring back some amazing memories for me and Sarah, and i hope it brings lots of smiles, laughter and interest during your lockdown, as we look back on the places we have been so blessed to visit. 

Tuscany logo Italy

First i’d like to give a big thanks to our brother Ben who kindly managed to wake up at 4:15am and drive us to the airport, guide us into the airport, check in our case and take us to the assistance desk, thanks Ben, we’d still be wondering round the airport now! if it wasn’t for you! 🙂

A screenshot of my iphone showing the Voiceover cursor surrounding the enabled airplane mode button on the control centre.

 The airport assistance was fantastic and couldn’t of made it any easier for us. We even got to ride on the buggy that takes us all the way to the gate! I was the first to board the plane and i couldn’t wait to finally enable “Airplane Mode” on my iPhone whilst sat on the plane! This may seem like a small thing, but remember this is my first time out of the country! 🙂
 
A photo looking out of the window onf the plane overlooking the wing and engine, with a beautiful coloured sunrise panarama!
 
I think my wide eyes and silly grin throughout the whole plane journey was getting tiresome for Sarah (she has been on planes lots of times). But it was fantastic! The best part is when the pilot “Gives it the beans” and accelerates down the runway when taking off, i’ve felt acceleration simular to this in different cars that i’ve driven(before i went blind lol), but when you think just how big and heavy this plane is, it’s just amazing! 🙂
 
Once we landed at Pisa airport, the assistance were already there and waiting to escort us from the plane. They also sorted out our passports and picked up our suitcase. Now it was time to get our first Italian coffee while we wait for the bus to Florence. 
 
A photo of the beautiful hills taken from our seat on the bus from pisa to florence. Also Siena is written on the road.
 
Sarah described the beautiful panoramic landscapes from the bus (i couldn’t see them until i got back home to zoom in on my large screen) as it took about an hour to get to Firenze. We then got a taxi to our hotel, as i read on trip advisor that although it’s only about half a mile, it’s tucked away in a small courtyard.
 
A sepia effect of hotel Brunelleschi at night with the old tower glowing out in the dark
 
Wow, the hotel was fantastic, and the staff were unbelievably helpful.  Once we were settled in to our amazing room, and logged onto their WiFi. We decided to venture out a little and try and figure out where we were in relation to the duomo and the palace where my photos were being exhibited. We knew we were close but as Sarah & i can’t see enough to read a map, we could easily get lost and never find anything! 🙂
 
A black and white photo of the top of cathedral of Florence
 
Shortly after leaving the hotel and finding the main street, we heard the thunderous sound of the bells from the north (i think) coming from the Cathedral of Florence (Il Duomo di Firenze), The bells would make our navigation much easier for the rest of our holiday as the Cathedral was only about 300 yards away from our hotel, thank you bells! 🙂 We then headed back to our starting point and headed west, where we found an ever better point of reference!! (see below)
 
A whole building completley covered in sparkling blue lights
 
The twinkling lights on this department store were simply amazing to just stand and look at, but it was dark now and we didn’t want to get lost on our first day! All of the streets were decorated beautifully with illuminated stars, borbals & bells so after one more photo (see below), we headed back to the hotel. What an amazing, exciting and tiring first day. 🙂
 
A twinckling star street decoration in Florence
 
I hope you’ve enjoyed being with Sarah & i on my first trip abroad? Have you ever been to Florence? 

To be continued…

🇮🇹 Next Day ➡

🇨🇼 Tropical Delights Tour: Day 2, Willemstad, Curacao

 🇨🇼 Welcome to Willemstad, Curacao!!!

Me stood on the right of a panorama with the boat in the centre and the colourful buildings behind me.

Our ship in the dock looking down from the bridge with the surrounding town

 After we boarded the coach and met our tour guide, we drove past the island’s salt flats and on to the Hato Caves that are full of stalagmites and stalactites.

Unfortunately as we arrived, and after climbing about 50 steep and uneven steps to the mouth of the cave…It was way too dark for Sarah & i, so we had to carefully go back down the steps on a tactical withdrawal. On the plus side, we had a coffee in a lovely yellow local coffee shop. 😎  

bottles of Curacao hanging on a display wall

Next up, we headed over to the Chobolo Liqueur Factory, passing the Queen Juliana Bridge on the way. At the factory, we got to see how the island’s famous Blue Curacao Liqueur is made. The drink is distilled from the dried peel of bitter oranges, and you’ll get to taste it for yourself.

Sarah was excited to see where this drink was from and how it was made, as she and her friend Caroline used to like this drink back in the day.

Lastly, we headed back to the ship via downtown Willemstad and had a look around.

 The shop, houses and buildings here were Sarahs fave of all! Wow those colours! We really couldn’t decide on a few photos, so we posted them all. Hope you enjoy!

View of Curacao colourful Buildings 1

View of Curacao sock 1

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Me stood in front tof the colourful Curacao buildings wearing a Curacao orange shirt

 ⇧ Yay i managed to find a new orange shirt! ⇧  

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Back onboard the Marella Explorer… 

 On our return to our centre front cabin we found our first towel art. Sarah thought is was a rabbit sniper…Please let us know what you think it is in the comments below?! 😎 

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 ⇧ Sarah saying goodbye to the best buildings ever from our cabin ⇧ 

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 And finally we were blessed with a beautiful sunset from our cabin window, wow what a day!

🌴Day 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 🌴

 Join the “Blind Sightseers” on more adventures HERE

 

🇦🇼 Tropical Delights Tour: Day 1 Oranjestad, Aruba

Hi all! Thanks for joining Sarah & i on our Birthday celebration holiday, it’s great to have friends along for the ride.

Marella Explorer…

Unbelievably this is the Blind Sightseers 6th cruse! We have never been on the Marella Explorer and Sarah had booked cabin 8001 which is dead centre and right at the front of the ship. She chose this cabin as she thought the views from the window would be fantastic….She’s right again! 😎 

All it was missing is a steering wheel, lol.

A view of a sunset from our cabin on the Marella Explorer looking directly forward and centre at the front of the ship

⇧ View from our cabin Nø 8001 ⇧ 

Day at Sea…

Before getting to Aruba we had a day at sea. We were pleased with this as it gave us time to walk about 80,000 steps to find out where we could get Breakfast and the evening meal…But most of all find the Coffee Port to see if they made lovely strong coffee!

 🇦🇼 Aruba…

As usual we had booked an excursion for each of the 5 islands we were visiting and todays excursion is: De Palm Island – Full Day, Aruba.

De Palm Island has got it all. Set adrift off the Aruban coastline, this private reef offers up pristine waters and a huge variety of exotic marine life, it’s a first-class spot for an underwater exploration. Your day will start off with a short boat trip over to the island, where the friendly staff will be waiting to meet you. After a short safety briefing, you’re ready to slip on your mask and wade into the warm, clear waters. Expect to meet friendly blue parrotfish and angelfish. Back on dry land, there’ll be time to sprawl out on the sand, take your seat for a banana boat ride or visit the island’s small waterpark before heading back to the ship. Don’t forget that a full buffet lunch and refreshments throughout the day will be included. 

My lovely wife Sarah

 ⇧ My lovely Wife Sarah catching some long awaited sunshine ⇧ 

Me stood on the left in a orange caribbean shirt carrying a black backpack with views of palm island, Aruba in the background

 Yay…It was the first time in a while that i’d been able to wear the bright orange shirt i bought in Saint Kitts from our first cruise…Read all about it here.

 Sarah & i had a great time wondering around this beautiful little island and we also found our fave place….The gift shop! We love to find some things that help us remember the amazing journeys/adventures we have conquered.  

Back at the dock…

After a short boat ride back to the ship, we had enough time to get changed, leave our bags and have a well needed iced-coffee before heading out to explore as much as we can without getting lost before the ship leaves.

We walked up one street and turned right before Sarah stopped and said “Wow, she’s having her photo taken in front of that cool wall art/sign. Quick get one of me” “Ok my lovely, you’re wearing your new yellow Michael Kors t-shirt too, i hope i get everything in”. Sarah had bought this t-shirt for our holidays and couldn’t wait to put on the lovely bright colours and flowers.

Sarah stood on a surf board in her new yellow Michael Kors t-shirt.

 This is one of my fave photos as it shows Sarah’s smile is as bright as her t-shirt. 

We have started collecting Christmas Tree Baubles too since i started going abroad 5 years ago. We love unpacking them at Christmas and filling the tree with all  of the places we visit. We think its a lovely idea to fill the tree with our lives journeys and give thanks to God for everything.

Walking back to the ship we finally found a local Bauble maker…Her daughter makes and paints them herself. We bought it(photo later when Sarah finds where we put them on our return home)

Our wonderful new friends… 

Photo of 6 of us after a lovely evening meal. Sarah & i meeting 5 new friends

 Going back to our day at sea…Sarah & i like to share a table with other passengers, mainly to take this opportunity to try and be sociable( being blind and trapped in your very small world & not having any eye contact it’s almost impossible to be sociable. or start conversations). So asking someone to read the menu for you because we are blind is a great ice breaker, lol! 

We met 2 lovely couples that night and you will hear about them throughout this trip!

Tomorrow…Curacao… 

Thanks once again for joining us on our adventure, i hope you’ll join us tomorrow for our trip around Curacao. 

🌴Day 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 🌴

 Join the “Blind Sightseers” on more adventures HERE

 

🇧🇧 Celebrating Our Birthdays On Holiday! 🇧🇧

Sarah with arms in the air on the far left of the photo, running along an empty beach in Barbados

⇧ Whoopppooo….Freeddoooommmmm!  ⇧ 

Hi all!! The Blind Sightseers(Sarah & i) are just back from an amazing holiday for the last 2 weeks. We celebrated our birthdays whilst we were away too. 😎 

I hope you don’t mind?? But for  a week or so i’ll be posting some of the photos from our time away. We really were blown away with the beauty of God’s creation! 

Thanks for all of your patience & friendship….I hope you enjoy the photos as much as we enjoyed capturing them. 😎 

🌴Day 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 🌴

 Join the “Blind Sightseers” on more adventures HERE

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unlikely

Sarah Olypic start line

For this weeks Photo Challenge Unlikely…..I was going to post about how unlikely it was for me to still take photos now that i’m blind…..But i thought i’d post one of my lovely Wife Sarah! 😀 

This trip was such an Unlikely blessing, as Sarah had another “Charcot Foot” and was in an air-cast for the last 5 months…..She had it removed a few weeks ago and she’s been strengthening her leg for this cruise. I love this photo of Sarah on the original ancient start line in Olympia, it was so unlikely to happen! 

IReminisce: The Retreat, Acle, Norfolk

Wow!!! I can’t believe it’s been 9 years since Me, Sarah & Bruce THE Boxer stayed in this log cabin for a week in Acle, Norfolk. 

I remember Sarah had bought me the Baby Taylor acoustic guitar a few months earlier for Christmas. I was so happy i couldn’t put it down…..So it came with us! 🙂 

Me playing my baby Taylor on the porch on the log cabin

It was a lovely relaxing holiday. I played guitar on the porch while Sarah sat in the hot tub for most of the week. Bruce enjoyed long walks and pretending to be a guard dog! 🤣  

Bruce sitting on guard on the porch of the log cabin

The Retreat at night

More “iReminisce

Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Way

A view of the island and sea as we take off from Mallorca

⇧“On The Way” home from our “Transatlantic Sunset Tour”. 🙂 ⇧ 

A close up shot of Bruce(our old boxer dog) sprining towards me with his face blown out of proportion by the wind

Bruce THE Boxer ~ “On The Way”, to running straight into me! “) ⇧ 

My other “Weekly Photo Challenges

Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement

Here are 6 recent “Achievements” from Sarah & i for this weeks 📷 challenge. 

#1 RNIB’s Outlook magazine cover photo

My photo being used on the Outlook CD Magazine

⇧ The CD version of Outlook Magazine with my cover photo ⇧ 

I’ve had another photo published as a cover photo on RNIB’s Outlook 29 magazine. I havn’t seen the print, large print or Braille covers, but i have the audio version.

#2 Norfolk Hideaways Photography Competition 

4 people sat on the beach wall with a beautiful sunset around them

⇧ Sunset 4 the people ⇧ 

Norfolk Hideaways had a photo competition for their calendar and brochure for 2015. This is the first time i’ve ever entered my photos in a competition. They replied saying the wanted to use my photo (see “Sunset 4 the people” above) for either the front cover of their brochure and calendar! Unfortunatley i didn’t have a high enough quality image (as it was cropped from my iPhone) to use as a cover shot, but they will publish it on their website, leaflets & inside the brochure. That’s still amazing to me, as i was up against fully sighted photographers, so even to consider one of my photos is unbelievible to me!! 🙂  

#3 My Florence, Italy Photographic Exhibition.

Exhibition Countdown from my blogs sidebar

⇧ Screenshot taken from Rebus photography’s sidebar ⇧ 

Now this still blows me away…My photography exhibition in Florence, Italy. We fly out in less than 2 weeks for the opening (my first time abroad!) and to say i’m excited is an understatement! I still can’t believe that they chose little old me to exhibit in their museum! I’ll keep you updated and take lots of photos on my travels! 🙂 

 #4 IOF Certificate in Fundraising

Sarah Graduation 1

⇧ Sarah receiving her hard earned Certificate! 🙂 ⇧   

So proud of my lovely wife Sarah on her graduation! Despite major difficulties following her latest eye operation, she managed to earn a “distinction“. 

The graduation ceremony took place from 6-9pm on Thursday 6th November at Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London, celebrating the excellence of the class of 2013/14 from the IOF Academy. 

#5 The cheese burger Birthday cake for Sally

Sally about to eat her Cheese Burger Cake that Sarah made for her!

⇧ Our friend Sally enjoying the cake Sarah made for her! 🙂 ⇧  

 Sarah’s been baking again!! I love her creations! 🙂 

#6 The 3D Christmas tree 

Sarah made a Christmas Tree 3D Cake

 ⇧ The Christmas tree cake 1st attempt by Sarah, fantastic!! 🙂 ⇧ 

Sarah also made a fantastic Christmas tree cake, i hope she shares it! 🙂