☀️ #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…

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 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…

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Mayan Treasures: Day 1&2 🛳 London & Jamaica

Mayan Treasures Logo

 Yay!!!! Were off to the Caribbean!! 🙂 

I can’t believe we’re getting another chance to see some of God’s glorious creation! We were so blessed with our last cruise “Transatlantic Sunset Tour” even though we had a roller coaster of a ride! 🙂 

We were up around 4:30am, packing the final items into our cases. I found out the hard way last year on how impossible it was to find my black suitcase on the carousel among hundreds of other black suitcases!! 😦 So this year i’ve treated myself to a dark purple one. Let’s see if this one is better to find?!

Kate, from the local taxis that Sarah uses for work, arrived and we set off for Gatwick. “Now we can relax” i said “As it’s too late to go back if we’ve forgotten anything”. 

The Airport…

Kate was fantastic, and drove us right to the entrance and pointed us in the right direction “Just keep walking that way and you’ll be fine”. We checked in our cases and were given the fantastic airport assistance who guided us through customs and sat us in departures ready to catch the fun train. 

The people at the desk said there was a 1 hour delay…”Oh yes!!” Sarah & i said at the same time “We have time to go shopping and have a coffee”. I think this was a new response for them as they looked a little bemused! 🙂 

After finding the same italian coffee place from last year(it’s becoming another local), we found our way around a few shops and headed back to the pick up point. It wasn’t long before the handheld thing they give me started flashing and vibrating which meant it is our turn to get on-board the train!  

Me on-board the Fun Train at Gatwick irport

After our fun ride on the train, we boarded the plane and i even got a window seat. The 787 Dreamliner didn’t disapoint as it gave it the beans down the runway! 

A view from the airplane with the wing in view

During the 10½ hour flight, Sarah watched about 5 films(well 10 minutes of each, as she said they were horiffic, and saw firsthand why we didn’t have a TV lisence anymore). We enjoyed the in-flight meals though, and it made up for the poor entertainment. 

As i can’t even see who is sat next to me(although i know it’s Sarah), i spent the time listening to the people around me. It helps me understand who is around, where they are, and i get to learn a little about the person by their words and character…as “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart”. 🙂 

Yay,we’re back in Jamaica! 🙂   

The airport assistance escorted us through customs and to the queue for the coach transfer to the ship. As soon as they realised we couldn’t see, they took us and skipped straight passed the queue and onto the coach where we were shown to the 2 front seats! One advantage of being blind, lol.

Arriving at the ship, the coach driver said there were further delays and the queue for the ship check-in was long and it’s seriously hot out there! But when we left the coach, we met the assistance and again, they led us past the large queue straight to the check-in and onto the ship! I always feel a little guilty when this happens, but it’s a fantastic service for us. 🙂

Boarding the Thomson Dream again this year felt like we were coming home. It took us about a week to figure out where everything is, but this time we remembered and it made life a lot easier! 🙂 

The Emergency Drill…

We were now almost experts at the life jackets(well Sarah was) and we needed no help this time putting them on. It was really hot and humid out on deck for the drill, but i handled the heat much better this time. 🙂 

Finding our way back to the cabin with our life jackets on, we wanted to try and take a selfie to keep as a memory, as we probably wouldn’t have chance if we ever needed to use them again. It’s really hard to take a selfie when you can’t see the phone screen, but we took loads and managed to find one.

A selfy of Sarah and i wearing our orange life jackets

 The Coffee Port…

After a full on day, Sarah & i were in need of a proper coffee…and guess what greeting we heard as we walked in??!! Yes it was Cecily! “No way” we both said “It’s so good to see you again”. Cecily then sat us down and said “2 espresso macchiatos?”….No way, she remembered! 🙂 This was really starting to feel like home.

We finished our coffees and headed back to our cabin. Our cases had arrived and we started unpacking as the ship set sail for Trujillo, Honduras…Wow what a day! 🙂 

Day 2…..

Sea logo

We spent day 2 exploring and seeing if anything had changed since we’d been gone. There were a few changes but nothing that tripped us up. Now it was time to check out the shore excursions for the next 4 islands! 

Last year we didnt realise how quickly they sold out, so we got in early  and booked an excursion for each of the 4 days, we were excited to have booked a few varied tours, but i was a little worried as we’d booked Kayaking on one tour and River tubing on another. Can blind people really do this without crippling themselves?? 🙂 

Either way…back to the Coffee Port to celebrate with a latte! 🙂 

Coffee Port Latte

 Thanks for joining us, it’s great to see you on-board! 🙂  

Our Route:

this evening Thomson Dream sails to Trujillo, Honduras. We’ll arrive on Thursday morning after the leisurely day at sea having travelled 515 nautical miles at an average speed of 15 knots. 

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 15 & 16 ~ My Brain Wave

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 After a fantastic 2 days in the Azores we found this new folded towel creature on our table. “How do they do that” i said just staring and touching it?  

Swan

“Yeah i know” said Sarah “it’s amazing how they get the towels to do that and stay in position”. 

Just then i had a brain wave…to show our appreciation for the great work our cabin steward has shown us, i will show our gratitude with a model of my own!!! 🙂 

I thought rather than using a towel i will go larger and use the whole bed, quilt, pillows and towels! As the towels are blue…they can be the sea. The quilt can be the Thomson Dream and the pillows can be the big pointy thingy on top! 🙂 

Having never attempted anything like this before, i knew it would be the thought that counts. I said to Sarah “You’re going to have to wait outside until i’ve finished, then you can open the door and see it as the cabin steward will see it”. 

Here Goes…..are you ready??? 

My Ship

 After Sarah stopped laughing, she said “It’s massive! I didn’t know you were going to use the whole king size bed?!” I said “Well ships are big, and i didn’t want him to miss it”. She was actually impressed with my first ever attempt. lol. 🙂 

Now everything is set, it’s time to head out and relax with a nice latte at the Coffee Port. We also ventured out on deck being ensconced by blue sea.

At Sea after Azores

We did meet up with the cabin steward that night and Sarah asked him “Did you like the big ship Steve had made for you?” He said he didn’t see anything and just thought the bed was left in a mess!! 😦 

Well at least WE all know what happened, and i hope my model ship will put a smile on your face instead!! 🙂 

Just 2 days at sea now until we reach Gibraltar!! 🙂  

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 13 ~ Horta, Azores

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welcome to Horta!!! 🙂 

Sarah is sat on a wall on the right with her arms stretched out while the cruise ship is facing us on the left

⇧ 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.

Horta Marina 2

A sailing boat in the lower lft of the bay while the hills in the background dominate the reast of the image

White buildings line the left of the pavement and road filling the whole image

Horta designed pavements

Sarah leaning on a palm tree on the right with the Horta marina and bay filling the rest of the image

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…

Panoramic view of Horta bay

Sarah in Awe at Horta bay

Me stood on the left with volcanic rock beach all around and a view of the bay

Volcanic rock at Horta bay

Horta hillside with lots of scattered houses

the houses on Horta hill with a massive tree towering over all of them

Beautiful mossy green gill with a house/centre inbedded within

 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! 

Sarah running and enjoying freedom on the volcanic beach all on her own!

Sarah walking around Horta hill

Sarah relaxing on Horta hill

Getting towards the top of the first hill, we stopped to take in the bay from a different viewing point! 🙂 

Sarah says hi

Sarah says a big hello to all of you who are still with us on our adventure!! 🙂

Horta Sepia

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 at Horta marina

Sarah had just enough time for one more pose! lol 🙂 

Sarah and the ship

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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