Sarah & i love coffee and we love trying the different tastes especially whilst on holiday! 😎
⇧ Me drinking a nice cup of coffee in Florence, Italy ⇧
⇧ Sarah drinking a iced coffee in Sharkey’s, Barbados ⇧
Sarah & i love coffee and we love trying the different tastes especially whilst on holiday! 😎
⇧ Me drinking a nice cup of coffee in Florence, Italy ⇧
⇧ Sarah drinking a iced coffee in Sharkey’s, Barbados ⇧
For this weeks photo challenge “Experimental”, i thought i’d go back a year and a half when Sarah & i were being “Experimental” with the iPhone Panorama mode. I thought i’d try and look calm in the start of the shot….Then run around the back of Sarah to wave in the end of the shot! I managed it eventually, lol. 😎
Wow, Wow, Wow…..Sarah & i have had a fantastic time away celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary in Croatia, Greece & Montenegro!
AND….. We’ve made it back in one piece to share all of our unforgettable memories and adventures with you all. 😎
Taxi,Train & The Thomson Plane…..
As the taxi was booked for 3:30am, we thought it would be a good idea not to go to sleep as it makes us more tired if we only sleep for an hour or 2 (we were wrong, lol).
There was a little scare as Sarah felt funny, so she did a blood test in the taxi and found it was going low. “Oh no, not already” i thought as Sarah was already sorting it out with a few dextrose. Sarah felt better as we arrived at the airport and with a small struggle to find the suitcase check-in desk, we were finally sorted and heading for the airport assistance.
The assistance took us through security which all went well, until Sarah showed them her insulin pump…..Then (as they think it’s a detonator) they told Sarah to take of her shoes etc. and carefully and slowly scanned her whole body for explosives.
Following the guide to our seats in the departure lounge, Sarah & i were looking forwards to a nice bacon roll and coffee. Her work colleague had told her to try this as we’d not had anything to eat since yesterday afternoon… we were ready for it! BUT the airport assistance were too efficient this time and before we had time to figure out the direction of the bacon, the guide took us on the “Fun Train” and straight onto the plane! 😎
As i sat down after being expertly guided to my seat, i said “Wait a minute”….. I was feeling underneath the window at the up & down dimmer switches whilst stretching my legs out testing the large leg room. “This isn’t an Airbus A320! It’s the 787 Dreamliner. Wow i didn’t think it was going to be this monster for a two and a half hour flight” Sarah said “Wow, you’re still getting excited about flying…. you must really love it” I said “Oh Yeah!”.
Time for a snack…..
Since we couldn’t have our fantastic bacon roll at the airport, we decided to share some chunky potatoe wedges on the plane. Sarah simply couldn’t eat them (and i even struggled)…. they tasted (and were as dry as) a sun dried bath sponge! 😦
Welcome to Dubrovnik airport…..
The airport assistance at Dubrovnik were fantastic and before we knew it, we were on a coach arriving at the dock ready to board the Thomson Spirit. We’d only been on the Thomson Dream which is bigger, so we were excited to explore this different ship.
We were fast-tracked again through all of the check-in procedures and were soon dropping our bags off in our cabin ready to go and explore! 😎
⬆ View of Dubrovnik bay from the Thomson Spirit ⬆
We managed to weave our way through the decks and up to the top which was lovely and quiet to take a look around, take some photos and soak in the view and the hot sun.
We were surrounded by a sea of blue, sky of blue, deck of blue and Sarah’s new “Hokusai” dress …of blue. 😎
⬆ Sarah wearing her new “Hokusai” dress! ⬆
⬆ My lovely Wife Sarah ⬆
⬆ Yay, we’ve made it, now let’s chill and enjoy the view ⬆
⬆ Our beautiful view of Dubrovnik from the top deck ⬆
Swapping sides for a moment, Sarah was taking photos of a unusual bridge she liked, i was also pretending i could see it, lol.
⬆ Me looking at the bridge and surrounding town ⬆
One more pic of my lovely Wife Sarah!
⬆ My lovely Wife Sarah and her beautiful dress ⬆
Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for…..
If you’ve travelled with us on our other tours click here to view, you will remember Sarah’s sublime Panoramas……Well she’s back with one (of many) to share with you. 😎
⬆ Sarah’s breathtaking Panorama of Dubrovnik bay ⬆
Coffee, Life Jackets & Dinner…..
After enjoying ourselves on the top deck, we looked around for a place to have a nice coffee. We knew this ship had no “Coffee Port” like on the Thomson Dream, so when we found “Raffles Bar” and ordered a Cappuccino (for me) and an Americano, we were even more excited as the coffee was well-nice and strong!
The assistance was fantastic again and the life jacket drill went really smoothly, i think we’re finally getting the hang of this. lol
We found the “Compass Rose” waiter service restaurant which was very similar to the “Orion” restaurant on the Thomson Dream, we said we didn’t mind sharing a table with others as we always need an unsuspecting guest to read the menu for us, which is always a laugh for all involved and it’s a great conversation starter! 😎
After a fantastic four course meal, it was time to take one last tour around the ship to see if we’d remembered where anything was before retiring to our cabin after a very long day!
I would just like to say a huge thank you(to you the reader and fellow traveller) for staying with us to the end of this day!
Oh did i mention it’s our 10th Wedding Anniversary” tomorrow!!
Please visit our other tours HERE
“Friend” is this weeks photo challenge…..So i thought i’d share a photo of my best friend and lovely Wife Sarah…..And our(The Late) best friend Bruce THE Boxer. I love this photo of the look of complete adoration in Bruce’s eyes for Sarah! 😊
My lovely Wife Sarah said that i should post a photo daily. I’ve taken so many over the years we often forget the memories these pictures evoke. So i’d like to share them with you too.
Please enjoy as “iReminisce”.
I will start with(probably not the most exciting photo in my archive) but to be stood in Pisa, and in front of the fantastic leaning bell tower was incredible! 🙂
Please read my full blog post for this day HERE
After reading this post on Nancy Loderick’s blog, about Nancy buying Mr Ken(her Husband) a Fitbit for his birthday…i got inspired!! I thought maybe i could do this as i’m good at walking, just not so good at seeing where i’m going, lol.
See if the app is accessible with Voiceover(screenreader) on my iPhone? Yes it is, fantastic…now for a little more research. As i take beta-blocker medication having a heart rate monitor was top on my list, and i found the Fitbit Charge HR(on sale too). When i showed Sarah she said”Excellent, let’s buy each other one as an early wedding anniversary present”.
Second…finding a walking route!
As i’m blind, i have to stick to routes like a racing car on a track, and If i veer of course i may crash! Thankfully Sarah & i live on the edges of a local nature reserve which has lots of walking paths. Once i’m shown a route i can normally remember, but i hadn’t walked along any of the paths for a long time…but here goes!! 🙂
When i said Sarah & i lived on the edge of the local nature reserve…it starts straight opposite our drive! This helps a lot.
I didn’t want to try the path directly through the woods onto the stew ponds, as i didn’t want to get lost on my first try. lol. So i decided to walk around the outside on the path i could still remember! 😉
⇧ I had no idea an Audi was in my photo when taking this!! 🙂 ⇧
I had to keep stopping as i couldn’t make out the path from the road, so i thought while i stopped i could take a photo! 🙂 It was further than i remembered(i really need to walk more) but finally i felt the bumps on the path indicating a road crossing. Yes i’ve made it this far, now to find the ponds!
After nearly walking into the first stew pond…i planted myself on the path! 🙂 It’s now starting to look familiar so i can enjoy the ponds.
I have no idea where this path leads but didn’t want to risk killing myself on my first outing! Maybe i’ll check it out next time…what do you think?
Afterr spending a little quiet time at the ponds, i decided to try heading back through the woods.
I found this path and i could hear the cars from the road on my left. I knew as long as i could hear the cars…i was going in the right direction. After i veered of track a few times and navigating some trees…i finally made it out! 🙂
I now could walk in the other direction from home and go to church for a coffee, which is another 2 miles towards my daily goal! 🙂
I walked over 8 miles in total and feel great, i like how i can track my now daily walk while monitoring my health. I think a lot more about eating already…as i know i have to walk for ages to burn it off! 🙂 I’ve been encouraged by reading posts by Ellie at New Creation Ministries, her posts convict me every time! 🙂
I often spend hours indoors daily studying the Bible and listening to sermons and teachings, but now i can be a lot more healthy whilst listening to the Bible on route! 🙂
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 New King James Version (NKJV)
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
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welcome to Horta!!! 🙂
⇧ Sarah welcoming you all to Horta! ⇧
Wow…what an adventurous Atlantic crossing! Both Sarah and i didn’t expect that roller coaster journey. But it was great to be off the ship and once we mastered walking on land that doesn’t move constantly, we headed out to see what we could find. 🙂
We couldn’t book an excursion in Horta as they were all sold out, but we were first taken aback with the stunning bay, and the beautiful sea front with it’s incredibly ornate pavement.
After following the pavement around the sea front we came to what we thought was the end of the bay…but as we were going to turn back Sarah saw a steep alleyway between some buildings which really didn’t look inviting, but she was determined not to miss anything while we were here. And after what she’s just been through the last 5 days i wasn’t going to say no! 🙂
The narrow path became really steep but we finally reached the top. There were high buildings either side of s and i could hear what i thought were Portuguese gangsters. I said “Do you think we should turn back and head back?” Sarah said “No we’ve made it this far and it’s downhill from here, i think i can see the end of the path and it looks like it opens out again” “Ok” i said nervously and we pushed on.
As usual Sarah was dead right! The path ended and we were treated with a stunning view of the bay on the other side of the island! 🙂
We both were silenced and stood in awe as we tried to take in more of God’s beautiful creation. No matter how bad the last few days were Sarah said “Wow, this was worth the wait!” God never fails to show up and when he does we are always left speechless. 🙂
Warning…one of Sarah’s breathtaking panoramas…
We were stood for around 10 minutes when 2 people approached us from our left, the woman said “We’ve been all around here and there is nothing worth seeing here! So were going over the other side to see if we can find anything worth seeing over there!” They walked on past us before we could even say hello. I was stunned, then said to Sarah “I can’t see that much but i still know how beautiful this place is!! They must be in a different dimention to us”. Sarah chuckled and quickly ran over to check out all of the amazing black sand! 🙂
We stayed here for about 20 minutes and went over to our left to explore the green hills!
Getting towards the top of the first hill, we stopped to take in the bay from a different viewing point! 🙂
Sarah says a big hello to all of you who are still with us on our adventure!! 🙂
On the other side of the green hills another bay opened out for us…Wow this place is beautiful and just keeps giving! 🙂
We thought if we stayed with the sea on our right we would eventually find our way back to the ship…we did but before we headed back on board we stopped to look in the local shops, and stop for a well deserved drink.
Also on the way back we found these interesting photos and paintings along the sea front, by this time it was getting late in the afternoon so we didn’t have much time left in this lovely place.
Sarah had just enough time for one more pose! lol 🙂
We’ve had a lovely day in Horta and we hope you’ve enjoyed it too?
I’m just sorry it’s took me almost a year to continue our crazy adventure on this Transatlantic Cruse. I’m going to finish it this week, as we’ve just got back from another cruise i want to share with you “Mayan Treasures”. But i knew i had to finish this one first! Sorry once again but i’m back now, and thanks for being so patient with me!! 🙂
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⇧ Portrait of me in Montego Bay, Jamaica ⇧
Today i’m celebrating my 41st Birthday, Yay!!! If you’ve already read my “About Steve” page you’ll know i should’ve died when i was 25….but God in His endless Mercy and Grace gave me a second chance. Now i thank God for every year and Sarah & i try to go away in April for our Birthdays to capture and enjoy part of His amazing creation! 🙂
Also…I thank God everyday for Sarah as i know i don’t deserve her, but God never seems to stop expressing His love. My heart overflows with love for her. She has encouraged, inspired and loves me in spite of all my faults, she is the sunshine that warms me along my journey. I really don’t have the words to fully express how blessed i am to have my best friend as my wife to cherish and share every moment of this amazing life!
We have just returned from Jamaica, Honduras & Mexico so i have a few photos to edit…but as soon as i get them ready i’ll do a day by day account like my other adventures!
I must appologise to you all for not quite finishing my last tour posts for Azores and Spain…but i’ve got the photos sorted and ready to post. Sorry for any overlap from this holiday and last holiday, i hope you enjoy! 🙂
My Holiday Adventures:
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Sarah & i were feeling really run down, tired and a little concerned about what the rest of our dream holiday had in store for us. But now we had a few days at sea, so we decided to get out there and enjoy the time we had left. 🙂
⇧ Sarah relaxing and reflecting ⇧
During our time at sea, Sarah & i loved standing and looking out over the vast ocean. It seemed to put perspective on how majestic and awesome our God is. Also how small we were in comparison and yet he loves each one of us…amazing! 🙂
There’s nothing like being surrounded by handbags to put a smile on Sarah’s face! 🙂
Of all the places…i never thought i’d be in a handbag store, on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. But Sarah seems to find these shops wherever we go… and if it helps her relax, i’ll be right there with her! 🙂
Another fave spot…
Each day we’d find our way up to this spot and just look out over the pool deck and take in the full panoramic view of blue. There was always a live band playing, giving a great atmosphere and a hot-plate thingy where i could get a fresh burger! Mmmm 🙂
After Sarahs last trip to the hair salon she was really pleased with the way the stylist had cut and styled her hair around her eye…. but the hospital adventure had kind of ruined it. So i thought she might like to relax and get it done again. Whilst waiting in the waiting room i took this shot through the window ….That’s the best view i’ve ever seen from a hair salon! 🙂
The evening restaurants…
So far i havn’t said much about our evening meals. For the first few days we really struggled with the buffet restaurants, as the food was placed in big trays under a glass cover with really long fork/tongs to pick up the food. Sarah had no idea what she was picking up as it was just too far away for her to focus and the waiters didn’t understand we couldn’t see properly, which caused a few problems!
At home we try to stay away from self service/buffet style places …not because we are too snooty, lol …but because we simply can’t find anything e.g plates, food, cutlery, where to pay, which causes too much stress and makes us wish we hadn’t gone out at all!
After a few days we decided to try the “Orion Restaurant” which was waiter service. On entrance the waiter asked if we’d like to share a table or sit by yourselves. Sarah said “Sharing is fine with us” (I thought is it really… 😦 The waiter then escorted us to an empty 8 seater table. After he passed us our menus (which we had no chance of reading) our table soon filled up with people. After friendly hello’s Sarah said to the lady next to her “I don’t want to be a nuisance…but we are both registered blind and so can’t read the menus. Would you be able to read it to us?” After the confused look on all of their faces (my imagination from the body language) the lady said “Of course, but i’d never have guessed that either of you had sight problems”. (My thought was “You need to be on this side of my eyes to understand the problem :(“) After we’d heard the menu, Sarah whispered “This works perfectly for us…we get the menu read out, and we get to meet lots of different lovely people” 🙂
Shortly after…we heard the people sitting opposite us say “Did you hear the “Code Alpha” last night?” The others replied “Yes we did, it woke us up…it was after 1am!!” “Yeah i know and there was no need to call it around the whole ship”.
I said “Sorry…that was us.” “It was you two! what happened?” Sarah showed her bruised and bandaged wrists (from where the drips had been attached) and explained everything that happened. We heard this same complaint for the next few evenings…. and even some different, elaborate explanations of what had happened (even one story where Sarah was said to have died and been taken off the boat by helicopter in a silver bullet coffin????.)
We also heard that quite a few people had complained to reception about the 1am code alpha (because they thought it was a call to abandon ship) and how they felt they shouldn’t have been disturbed in the middle of the night!!
If you can remember…on Day 8 there were a couple of people in the hospital waiting room with deep growly coughs. Well today…Sarah’s got it too !! 😦 This deep booming growly cough (reminds me of the Rockford Fosgate subs in the boot of my old custom Nova) is giving Sarah lots of chest pain, a sore throat and a pounding head. We’ve noticed the unique sound of this cough around the ship as we’ve been exploring! ….As if Sarah didn’t have enough on her plate with no sleep, uncontrollable blood sugar, one eye closed and exhaustion…she now has this nasty cough 😦
Keep smiling… 🙂
I have no idea how she does it. But no matter what’s going on…Sarah has a lovely beaming/contagious smile on her face that blesses all who see her 🙂
After about 4 (or is it 5?) sleepless nights (i’ve lost count) we were looking forwards to arriving at the Azores. Sarah was especially looking forwards to getting off the ship and onto solid ground and having the freedom to explore another fantastic island! 🙂
Yippee land ahoy!!!
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known worldwide for its unintended tilt to one side. It is situated behind the Cathedral and is the third oldest structure in Pisa’s Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo) after the Cathedral and the Baptistry. The tower’s tilt began during construction, caused by an inadequate foundation on ground too soft on one side to properly support the structure’s weight.
More of my Weekly Photo Challenges
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After another early start(and you’ve guessed it) a bacon roll, we headed off the ship. The shore excursion lady was at the bottom of the gangway steps, and she showed us where to join the queue. Well i say queue, there were only about 8 of us in total. I thought “I think we may have over reached on this one. Maybe it’s going to be too difficult, and really not suited for the blind”.
We were then led towards the minibus. We were told they’d saved us the 2 seats in the front next to the driver, i said “Sweet”, and climbed aboard. I really didn’t expect what happened next…the driver turned on his CD player which started playing Ed Sheeran “Thinking out loud” and he started singing as i tapped away on my legs to the beat. His voice was incredible, it was like we were having our own concert in the front of the minibus, whilst driving around paradise. Quite a surreal moment. After more fantastic singing to Tarrus Riley’s “She’s Royal”, he pulled up at Fort James Beach where we were to start our horseback trek.
Welcome to Paradise…
We left the minibus and were instantly greeted with a stunning view of porcelain palm fringed sands, and stilted turquoise waters of Fort James beach, also we received a further warm welcome by the “Horseman(sorry, i forgot his name)”. 🙂
⇧ The horseman strolling along the beautiful beach ⇧
⇧ Horses being led to the sea to cool off ⇧
The Horse Ride…
Once everyone was fitted with a protective hat, it was time to line up and meet the horses. He asked for experienced riders first, then one at a time they mounted the horses. It was about this time i started to get a little nervous. I was saying to Sarah “How do we get up there? Are there steps? Which foot do i put forward first? Are the horses big enough to carry me?”
The horseman was out of earshot, but i think he could see my face, he said “Don’t worry, i have a couple of special horses for you two”. This put my mind a little more at ease. Sarah mounted first on the horse named “Sunshine”, what a perfect horse for her! 🙂 Then i mounted easily with the excellent help from horseman onto the horse named “Little Man”,
After a short tutorial on how to hold(and use) the reins, it was time to move on out! We had only walked along next to a road for about a minute, and i’d just got used to the weird motion of rocking side to side whilst not being able to see the ground or the horse in front. When…a huge commotion…Lots of shouting from horseman, and the horses. I thought(at first) it sounded like a car had hit one of the horses. I pulled back on the reins as i saw Sarah(who was in front of me) appear at my side, Yay my horse stopped! 🙂 We found out at the end, that a car got too close and spooked a few of the horses, so no one(or horses) were hurt.
My plan was to take my Samsung WB550 compact camera with me to take photos & video whilst on the horse, but that was soon foiled when i got onto the horse, and my shorts were pulled tight around my pocket, so it had seal it shut. I didn’t want to try and move, as i thought the horse might mistaken my movements and start galloping off!. I did eventually get an opportunity when my foot suddenly got smacked out of the stirrup by an aloe vera plant(it got a few of us), and as my leg was free i quickly grabbed my camera! 🙂 Note to self, next time take my other camera with a neck strap! 🙂
The horseman who was overseeing us said “Welcome to Sandhaven Beach”…
⇧ “Little Man” taking me on a beautiful journey 🙂 ⇧
⇧ Sarah on “Sunshine” & in sunshine, along Sandhaven beach ⇧
⇧ Sarah ensconced in Sunshine! 🙂 ⇧
Words completely fail me when i try and describe the feeling of riding in paradise. The sound of the waves, the feel of the hot sun with the cool breeze, the movement(and sound) of the horse, topped off with the amazing panorama. We really didn’t want to leave our new fave place on earth!! 🙂
We left Sandhaven beach and headed back to Fort James beach. We’d been riding for around 1½ hours, and just before we finished, the man asked for my cameras so he could take a photo of us on our horses.
My horse “little Man” was busy eating grass, i think he had my appetite! 🙂
⇧ “Little Man & “Sunshine” ⇧
Once off the horses, we were given a bottle of water each as they prepared for stage 2. Stage 2 gave the chance for the experienced riders to ride faster(or gallop as i’m told), and the chance to ride bareback into the water. Sarah and another lady paired up together to do this.
Sarah said “I was sat trying to balance without a saddle, when suddenly i was thrown back as one of my legs was pulled up. I looked down to see that the horse had taken a liking to one of my bright yellow laces, and was pulling on it as though it was spaghetti! 🙂
Once stage 2 was over, we had about 45 minutes before the singing taxi arrived. “No way, does this mean you get to swim in paradise again?!” i said as Sarah was already half way down the beach!! 🙂
⇧ Sarah excited to be the only one in the beautiful sea ⇧
⇧ What a way to relax! 🙂 ⇧
⇧ I think Sarah enjoyed her swim! 🙂 ⇧
The taxi ride was just as fun. The drivers stunning voice carried us all the way back to the ship.
Back on the ship…
We now had to say goodbye to the Caribbean. 😦 We took our usual sofa’s in the coffee port, and with coffee’s in hand, we watched the island slowly disappear. We both agreed that this was our fave place of the trip, and the horse ride was our best experience so far!!
Our new friend…
On returning to our cabin, the steward had created a folded towel turtle, and used my hat as the shell, fantastic!! 🙂
Our Route 4 2day…
This afternoon Thomson Dream sails to Horta, Portugal, we’ll arrive on Sunday late morning, after 5 leisurely days at sea. having travelled 2,173 nautical miles, at an average speed of 16 knots.
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“Wow! Were these doors made for the Nephilim?!!” 🙂
Sarah & i started our final full day with the legendary amazing breakfast, then headed out to make the most of our last full day in this beautiful city.
Our plan today was to head East, then travel anti-clockwise until we reach our favourite place (South, by the river Arno) to try and take photos of things we may have missed so far, or from angles different from the norm. Right let’s Go!
Wow, another bell tower, how did i miss this!
Heading North of our hotel, we stopped once again to gaze upon the stunning architecture of the Florence Cathedral and the Palazzo Medici Ricardi…
As we were heading west, i found another statue, but thought i’d take it from a random angle! 🙂
Sarah found a shop with sunflowers (her favourite flowers)…
Gold anyone!! 🙂
Well this is it, the actual reason we came, lol! I know i mentioned i only had my iPhone 5s & Sarah’s iPhone 6 Plus to take photos, the main reason (apart from weight, lenses & tiny viewfinders) was the GPS map pins, i love them! 🙂
It was now Wednesday and it was time for the sun to make way for the rain. The hotel room even had it’s own umbrella with “Brunelleschi” as the logo, i like this hotel! The exhibition didn’t start until 4pm, so we decided to explore (now we knew where we were going after our fantastic walking tour) for a couple of hours with our new umbrella! 🙂
It turned out that the streets were much quieter which is great for us, so we could relax a little more too after a couple of hectic days. OOoooo another coffee shop! 🙂
We left the hotel with posh clothes on and fancy umbrella in hand and headed to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi hoping there actually was an exhibition even though we had still seen no signs at all, not even a hint that there’d be one.
Then we turned into the main entrance…..
Sarah said “Wow, now this is a lot of people, the posters are up all around us and look great, and it’s in the beautiful, main part of the palace”. I started to feel a little out of my depth all of a sudden.
Sarah then found Ann, who has also travelled from England, UK (thats ⅔ of the UK representatives, lol) so i had a chat with her as i’d never met her before, she’s an enormously talented artist and has a few paintings in the exhibition.
We hadn’t noticed, but the crowd had started making their way to the large area in the centre where the president of the blind union was talking (in Italian) through a PA system. By the time we had arrived we were at the back wondering what was going on, and none of us were able to see anything (even the sighted ones) as we were just too far away.
Costanza, who organised the whole thing (with her husband) cut through the crowd, took my had and led me right to the front next to the president and a few of the other artists.
Then after about 5 minutes, she put the microphone into my hand and said “Speak one word”.
The place went silent, i could feel there were lots of people around, i had no idea if any of them spoke english. So i said “ciao a tutti (Hello everyone), i’m Steve Rebus from London”. It seemed to go across well, but i was so terrified i didn’t have a clue what to say next. Constanza gently took the mic and passed it along, aaaghhh i could now relax a little. 🙂
After a few more people spoke we were given a glass of Prosecco and Costanza took me to see what they’d done with my photos. I had only sent the prints and they had mounted, framed and hung them beautifully, i can’t thank them enough, they looked great and very professional!
It wasn’t long before people started crowding round as they viewed each of our works.
Everyone kept telling me how fantastic the photos were and that i was a “Provider of inspiration” (now that’s a title, lol. , all i could say is thanks. I was completely overwhelmed by the whole evening. I never knew it was going to be this big, professionally done and not held in a dark attic somewhere! I’m not good at playing the artist game and kept thinking that i better start taking some better photos, lol. 🙂
After a couple of hours walking round the exhibition, i was amazed at the level of talent. I enjoyed the paintings (a lot were tactile too), sculptures and other photography, simply brilliant!
I’ll post more photos tomorrow when we returned to see if we were just dreaming!
Sarah got me to stand next to one of the Art Senses posters while holding the amazingly professional catalogue/book of all the works and artists bio etc. Costanza really worked hard to put everything together, and i thank God that she found Sarah to ask for blind artists from the UK.
I heard Art Senses are holding a similar exhibition next year in Rome!! I better get taking some photos, if i want to be invited as an artist again. Wow to do all this in Rome, unbelievable! 🙂
During another sublime breakfast, Sarah & i wondered if there was a walking tour around Firenze?! We now have a love of walking tours after our hugely successful one yesterday (see Day 3). It’s much easier for us to just follow a group instead of getting lost and wondering around aimlessly, and it’s a great way to learn the history and culture of the area.
They did do a tour and it started just after lunch. We booked on it and then decided to go for a walk to see if we could find the starting point by ourselves. It was in an area we hadn’t covered yet so we knew it was going to be a challenge…..We failed, but we found a lovely cafe! We sat outside with the sun blazing down, it was fantastic! 🙂
The image below shows me staring at the sun. Since being registered blind and having no central vision at all, i can now stare at the sun without squinting or blinking. Didn’t know it made me look this weird though, lol. 🙂
We then spent a couple of hours enjoying finding new and wonderful shops, before heading back to the hotel. The reception had arranged for someone to walk us to the walking tour meeting point, fantastic! 🙂
Firenze Walking Tour…
The group met up in a different square than the one we found earlier, and gave us another one of those radio thingy’s, Yay! As the guide was talking about the square, i captured some shots!
Moving from the square and through some little side streets, we stopped at the “Basilica of Santa Croce” founded by Saint Francis. Sarah said “Wow, it looks like someone has iced it like a cake! It doesn’t look real”.
Walking through the streets we were told of a local artist who’s adding figures to road signs.
Continuing with more fantastic Medici family history we found ourselves in a familiar square (Piazza della Signoria).
As we didn’t have lots of time to walk around and take photos, Sarah & i revisited on Day 7 to get some more interesting shots. Now it’s onwards to the river. 🙂
When we accidentally found the river Arno during the Firenze marathon, Sarah had said that the river looks dirty, like brown sludge. But today with the sun shining bright, it glowed gold like nothing i’d seen before! 🙂
Then finishing our tour at the Florence Cathedral (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore). Yay another amazing bell tower! 🙂
I’ve heard of “Knocking’ on Heaven’s door” but now i was stood at “The Gates of Paradise”.
Sarah then said “Go and stand in front of the doors of the Cathedral, we need more photos with you in them so people will know you were here”. I really don’t like this side of the lens, but this is for you guys! 🙂
Wow! Were these doors made for the Nephilim?!! 🙂
After this amazing tour, we felt that we could now spend a few days exploring with a little more confidence, starting with a trip to our fave coffee (and cake) place which is right next to our hotel. The cherry on top of the cake below really sums up our day. It’s been another unbelievable day that always leaves me saying “How am i here? This is like a dream! I still can’t believe i’m here?!”
You’ll be very pleased to know that my next post (Day 5) is the opening day of the exhibition!
I’m so blessed that you’ve stuck with me on this incredible journey. God bless you. 🙂
The dark cloak of night consumed us, light had escaped the dungeon of darkness but had vanished..…Sorry, just trying to set the mood for the final destination on our amazing Tuscany in a day tour.
Chiara had been telling us of the year 1348 when the black death had wiped out over ⅔ of the walled medieval town of San Gimignano, the majority of the people who survived the terror had left. Continuing on this theme, and the fact that it was totally dark outside (due to this time of year) set the scene for what we were about to experience!
Welcome to San Gimignano…
After a short walk uphill, the group arrived at the main entrance of the walled town. We then had about 45 minutes free time to explore, then meet back here. Afterr the group dispersed, Sarah & i entered…
No amount of photos could ever get across the feeling of this place! The black windows towering over you from each side, the silence and the shadows following you everywhere, generated a smothering atmosphere that had flavours of Fear, Death, Sorrow for the people of old, Awe and a weird taste of Joy and amazement. You really can only experience San Gimignano by physically being here!
As Sarah was checking out the few little shops on the main walkway, i’d stay outside and just stand, soaking up the atmosphere that my words can’t describe. Sarah says “They only sell pottery or Knives”.
As i was stood (see above) it was completely silent. Then all of a sudden i heard heavy footsteps from behind sounding like they were headed straight for me. I expected to see a blade sticking out of the front of my chest as an assassin wearing a monks tunic (from the video game (assassins creed) shot out of the shadows sending me to paradise.
As i turned though it was just a person leaving the church behind me, although i’m still not sure how they managed the booming footstep thing. My imagination really doesn’t help my heart at times like these! 🙂
As we met back up with the group having felt we’d been to probably the most special place of the trip. We were so grateful we hadn’t decided to stay in the coach as it was just too dark to risk having accidents.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed joining us on the “Tuscany in a day” tour?!
Which city was your favourite?
The Siena Cathedral with its humbug bell tower, is my favourite church building of all time (so far).
What is your favourite church building? And why?
As we left the amazing Pisa, Chiara (our tour guide) gave us some more interesting yet gruesome Tuscany history about the Medici family killing everyone again and taking over more villages and cities. She also mentioned a man called Leonardo Da Vinci, “no way” i said to Sarah “I thought he was a ninja turtle, not a real man!” She gave me a swift elbow in the ribs, and Chiara continued.
Welcome to Vinci…
The image below is of the landscape that greeted us from the coach.
After taking in the amazing scenery, we headed off on foot to the Museum of Leonardo Da Vinci.
I really like bell towers!! 🙂
Sarah & i found inside the museum much too dark, so we struggled to see any of the fantastic creations on display. Sarah was using her iPhone 6 Plus with it’s wide aperture of f2.2 to view each design as it showed much brighter on her screen, rather than the dark blob in front of her (she’s a genius).
We did find a cool bike though!!
Now it was back outside to have a wonder around and see what we can find. It wasn’t long before we found a familiar object!
Sarah wasn’t happy with the “Vitruvian Man” and thought Leonardo had missed something out. So we added something extra……The Vitruvian Man & Woman! 🙂
Now for Chianti…
After another trip on the coach through amazing rolling hills, olive grows and vinyards, the coach parked right up at the top in Chianti where we were to do a little wine & local Tuscan food tasting.
I didn’t have time to take any photos as we were guided straight to our table and greeted with a lovely plate of local baked bread, olive oil, cheese and spicy meat.
The lady first pour a little Chianti Simple (table wine) into the huge glass and as she was going into great detail of how to hold the glass etc, i continued on the food (i couldn’t see anything she was doing, so her over complicated directions were wasted on me, lol). As i don’t really drink alcohol except a very full bodied glass of red wine on special occasions (normally 1 bottle a year and that’s usually Châteauneuf-du-Pape i receive as a Christmas gift). My thought is that if i’m only going to have one glass on rare occasions, then i would like one that i enjoy! 🙂
I really know nothing about wines, only that some are red and some are white, and some are watery and some are thick (like coffee, lol) and i only like the thick ones, which now i know are called full bodied! 🙂
Then she poured a little of the Chianti Classico (full bodied..Yay!) and that was much better!
But probably my favourite taste of the day was the 30 year old Balsamic Vinegar we got to taste! Wow, now that’s amazing, but expensive so didn’t get any to bring home! 😦
As we finished there was a mad rush to the little shop area. I stayed at the table as Sarah went to have a look and take a few photos for us!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip so far?! Next stop Siena!! 🙂
I forgot to mention in my older 2 posts in this Tuscany Tour series, that i didn’t take any of my DSLR’s with me to Italy (you’ve probably already noticed, lol). All of the photos taken were using my iPhone 5s or Sarah’s iPhone 6 Plus.
I’d like to split Day 3 into 4 separate posts, as i don’t want them to get too long, and dare i say boring! If you’re just joining the “Tuscany Tour” for the first time then you can click here to start from Day 1.
Sarah & i were up bright and early, excited yet anxious for today’s big adventure. As we were in the reception area admiring the beautiful Christmas tree (see image above), the entrance doors opened as our taxi driver entered and escorted us to his taxi. It was still very dark (especially down the narrow side street) and already raining, and when i noticed the black minivan with blacked out windows (which only appear on episodes of 24) and the voice of the driver say “Get in”, i had a funny feeling that this could be anyone and we were in some kind of movie (this didn’t do my slight anxiety any good at all, lol).
The driver was very friendly and nothing like the man i was imagining, he dropped us off at the exact collection point for the ‘My Tour’ coach stop where we were met by Chiara, the tour guide. She already knew we were blind & partially sighted and said it would be easier for us if we sat on the front 2 seats of the coach. “Yes!” i said as they’re our fave seats too, good start! 🙂
It took about an hour until we arrived at Pisa, Chiara was telling us lots of interesting facts and history of the Tuscany regions we were passing through, this (and my excitement) made the journey seem really quick. The coach parked right near the Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo) and after a short walk in the group Chiara said “Now you have one hour free time, then meet back here”. This was just perfect for Sarah & i as we now have a point of reference to go from and to return.
Welcome to Pisa!
First for my tourist pose! 🙂
And now it’s Sarah’s turn! 🙂
Everyone was rushing straight for the tower, so we hung back and got a few photos of the Baptistry and the Cathedral.
Sarah sneakily snapped me tower gazing and trying to soak up the atmosphere, and the fact that i was actually in Pisa, looking at probably the most famous bell tower in the world! 🙂
There was only one small cafe opposite the tower, so Sarah & i went to check it out. We ordered 2 Cappachino’s and to my delight, a slice of pizza. I know you might laugh, but i just had to try the Pizza at Pisa! 🙂
The image above is the view from the open windows at our table, it was just amazing being sat with the leaning tower of Pisa as the backdrop. 🙂
After this final panoramic photo, we met up with the group and headed back to the coach.
This visit already made my day and i’d of been happy if that was the end, but this was only the beginning!!
Oh by the way…..The pizza was fantastic!! 🙂
Hope you’ve enjoyed the first stop of this “Tuscany in a day tour”. Please take your seats and see what’s coming next! 🙂
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.
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 …
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…
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”.
⇧ We totally need to get door frames like these!! 🙂 ⇧
Then a few minutes later i found a ceiling design for our home too!! lol.
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!
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.
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?”
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”.
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!! 🙂
Please join us on day 3 to see how we got on!!
Wow, wow, wow!! What a fantastic and surreal experience!!
After spending 1 week in Italy pretending to be a photographer, and being blown away by the beauty and simply magnificent sculptures, architecture & History of this amazing part of the world. I’ll try and bore you to death with my day to day experiences. 🙂
I’m trying to create a post for each day we were there (maybe extra ones too!) as we did a few tours which included Pisa, Vinci, Chianti, Siena, San Gimignano & of course Firenze.
This weekend Sarah & i didn’t have to travel far (in our back garden) before we were amazed to find a Bountiful 32 little bunches of grapes on our vine. I managed to take a quick photo above before Sarah picked them! 🙂
Are you ready to get bountiful, abundant, ample, plentiful and rich? If you would like to join in this week’s travel theme challenge with your own interpretation (everyone’s welcome!) Click Here
⇧ ‘Stormy Bay’ – Ilfracombe, Devon, England ⇧
Hi all! I think my “Travel & Landscapes” page is ready, although i’m still searching for more photos to add (maybe i’ve missed one or two, i have quite a few to look through lol).
Thought you might like to check it out, let me know what you think?! 🙂
You can find the page by clicking the image above or clicking here. I’ll keep you updated as i go along!! Thanks once again for you amazing support and encouragements!
Thank you for being so patient! 🙂
A blog about Apologetics, Philosophy, Theology, and anything else rattling in my mind.
This blog is about my walk with God and my love for photography. And just random things too.😜
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And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)
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Writer/Poet/Christian Apologist /Creative
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