I am in Sozopol, Bulgaria a very old little town on the Back Sea South of Varna a few hours.  It dates back to 6000 BC as an early Greek settlement.  I wanted to see and do something different.  Was getting itchy feet so decided this would be a good spot to checkout.  

It is a much smaller place than I thought it would be.  Very similar to Nessebar where I was a couple of years ago only smaller.  I could walk around it very slowly in an hour, even with all the up and down streets.  It is built on a rocky peninsula with small cliffs along the sea on two sides of it and a harbor on the other side.  

There are nice very old blackish brown stained wooden buildings like in so many old towns here in Bulgaria.  Pretty nice they have a very distinct look of their own.  like the homes in Bavaria have there special look about them.

I came for two weeks figuring that would be a good amount of time to see it.  Really a week would have been way more than enough.  If I only had a very short amount of vacation time.  I would come for a day trip or two that would be plenty of time.  You never know till you get somewhere what it will be like when you do.  

Somehow looking at it on google I was way off on how big it was.  I thought it would be bigger than Nessebar.  NOPE!!!!!!!!!! HAHA  You can’t choose them right all the time but I was glad I got to see it.  I was way off on this one.  

It is nice though and two weeks goes by fast so no big deal!  Already been here a week so no problem.  It is also nice for a change because it is a big difference from Varna.  At night it is so quiet and peaceful here.  During the day it is slammed with tour groups though and very crowded. 

There are a lot of tiny very old chapels throughout town.  Like maybe 4-6 people could stand inside.  Very narrow streets room for only one car and few of them going through.  Only people who live here, taxis and delivery people allowed through.  One of my dislikes is that it has very few benches to sit at and no little parks except at the beach between the old and new city and there wasn’t much to it or plazas to sit in.  

When I first got here I was dreading the hilly walking everywhere.  I am handling it alright though and it is good for me I guess!  Forced exercise if I want to do anything.  HAHA  

The weather has been great here, as it has been my whole trip since I left Florida in March.  It is now 1st week in August.  Really no bad days some a little cool in the beginning and some a little hot lately, but nothing to complain about.  

To sum up my trip to Sozopol!  I would say if you have only enough time to see one of these old towns.  I would choose Nessebar and maybe take a day trip or two by fast ferry from there to Sozopol.  You get a nice boat ride along the coast that way!  I think Nessebar has more going for it!

At the end of next week I go to Nessebar for 3 days it is on the way back to Varna.  I stay in Varna till 1st of September then go to Bucharest for 10 days to finish my 90 days out of the Schengen Zone.  

I got a really cheap flight from there back to Spain.  I will spend the rest of the time there in Cadiz, till I go back to Florida in early November.  That’s the pre plan plan anyways!  HAHA!  

I cut the amount of bouncing around I usually do a lot this year.  I had planned to do a lot more and spend a good part of the time in Macedonia and Romania.  The logistics of all the travel to do it just became overwhelming to me.  Too much time in buses or trains to get there.  

So I spent almost all of the 90 days I needed to be out of the Schengen zone in Bulgaria.  Except for the short stop in Bucharest at the end!  Must be getting old!!!  HAHA  

So I am in Nessebar now.  It is the same very crowded during the day with day-trippers and tours.  The streets are so narrow they get filled to the brim very easily.  Although there are more benches and a couple little plazas it is still hard to find a place to sit and take a break. 

August is not the time of year to come to either of these places if you have a choice!  HAHA!  Back to Varna in the morning!  

If you want to see photos of Nessebar CLICK on the link at the bottom.

Well back in Varna Bulgaria!  It is a great place that I come back to every year.  It has a very very very special vibe about it.  Very low key and peaceful.  

It doesn’t have all the beautiful architecture of most of the other places I go.  Most of the really nice buildings are in the center along the very long pedestrian zone leading to the Sea Garden.  That is about all it is lacking though.  

The Sea Garden is a huge park covering a few miles or kilometers along the sea.  It is full of flowers and trees of all kinds and many different paths and stops along the way with fountains and statues in them.  There are all kinds of things for people to do in the park from playgrounds for different aged kids, a giant swimming complex with multiple pools for different events, tennis, ping pong and petting Zoos!  There are benches everywhere. Perfect!!!  

Bulgaria has to be one of the most peaceful and least hurried places I have ever been.  I just Love it here!   

I am sitting here on my balcony watching as they are doing a traditional circle dance out in the esplanade tonight.  They form a circle join hands and as people from the esplanade join the circle gets bigger and bigger until it is too big for the area.  Then they start making a spiral so there is always room for more to join.  

The dance kind of looks like a line dance just simple in and out and sideways steps going around and around.  So simple and open to all.  I never could dance worth a shit always had to be solo. Even this simple one they are doing is too much for me.  I was sitting here watching thinking I could do it but after watching for a long time decided nope not possible.  HAHAHA!  

Yup it’s very peaceful to see from old people to young children just joining in as they walk by from the beach or wherever they have been or are going.  So so so simple and nice!  

It amazes me how it seems to be the poorest countries like here in Bulgaria that are the ones that enjoy life the most.  The little things we have forgotten in the more wealthy places still remain in these places from years gone by.  It is really really good to see!  

There are hundreds of children of all ages walking, riding scooters, everything imaginable they are riding it!  They are still up after I go to bed.  Which is usually around midnight playing and having a grand old time.  I have never seen anything like it anywhere I have been.  It is like the land of children or something!  Great!  

The only thing that makes me cringe is the older kids on their bicycles riding full blast down the esplanade making the crowds of people shalom poles like on a ski slope.  They are tearing through on their back wheel.  Front one in the air waving back and forth to keep their balance. 

I do not know how they do it but I am amazed how no one has been wiped out by them.  I have been here for a couple years now and I still cringe from it but have never seen them hit anyone!  Amazing, crazy and very lucky at the same time.  I always go DAMN kids!  Of course when I think about it.  I would have been one of them at their age too no doubt!!!!!!!  HAHA!  

So I was inside and heard what sounded like singing.  Went out on the balcony and a womens and mens choir was just standing in the middle of the esplanade singing songs.  As they were singing you could hear the sound of a band coming.  A dozen or so groups of people came by.  All from different countries dressed in the old traditional style of each of their countries playing and singing their folk songs.  Pretty Cool!  

Guess the dances and celebrations are starting again this year.  They have a Varna International Celebration of Music and Dance every year.  They have been setting up a large stage about 200′ feet from here for two days.  I was wondering what it was for!  Now I know.  

I can only remember a few of the countries involved but they were mostly Eastern European countries.  Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Serbia, Moldova, Macedonia, Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey, Slovenia, Latvia and others!  COOL!!!!!!!! 

It is too bad it is such a pain in the ass to get here.  There is no easy way to do it.  Either several flights to all over the place or trains and buses for hours.  But well worth it once you get here!  The photos below are new and are of a couple of the many flower plantings throughout the park.  If you want to see more of Varna.  There are many!  Type in Varna in the search box or click on a couple of the links at the bottom. 

Well I am in Plovdiv now!!  It was 32 here yesterday didn’t get much done just not used to that kind of heat.  Today the morning was cool so left out earlier to do my walk about!  Good thing it is hot again this afternoon but not as hot as yesterday!  

There is a lot of history in Plovdiv it is supposedly the oldest city in Europe 6000 BC and third oldest in the world!  The city now sits on the ancient ruins that are 12 meters or 39 ft below ground level of the present day town.  There are many areas that have been excavated around town to reveal the ruins beneath it.  

It has the oldest watchtower and longest pedestrian zone in Europe.  Also had the oldest American educational institution outside the USA in 1860.  The American College of Sofia which has now moved to Sofia!  The watchtower is the simple looking tower in the photos

The city is called the city of 7 hills.  One has been demolished for building material for the new town and there are three hills surrounding the old city itself.  There is a very old city part and a newer old city part as well.  Both are pretty well preserved at least along the pedestrian zone and the architecture is pretty ornate on some buildings.  It also has the new city which is much bigger. I did not make it there I’m not interested in the new parts of cities.

There are ornate bronze drinking fountains all through town and the water continually flows from them and is excellent.  Also many benches to sit at!  That scores high on my want list in a place!  All and all It’s a nice place.

Climbing all the hills is kicking my ass but I guess it is good for me! HAHA.  Glad I came to see it.

Will be here for a week then to Varna my favorite!!!!  The sea has always been such a big part of my life a place can not be as nice in my book without it.  All though in saying that there have been a few places that were.  I just love love love the sea.

The people I am renting from came over with their children this afternoon and part of the evening.  They brought a beautiful big bowl of Bulgarian salad which is similar to a Greek one and a bottle of ice cold Vodka.  I had a few beers on hand and we sat around and talked, laughed, drank, ate and had a great time. We finished the Vodka the beer and the food and now I am trashed and Happy to have been a part of their lives.  

It was a great time.  I am so so so glad I met them it made my trip here wonderful!  They are special people and I am going to miss them.  There is nothing more in life I would rather be doing!  I am humbled by it!  Life is Good dave

Well I left Cadiz today and went to Jerez to catch my early morning flight to Chania!  The place I stayed in was nice and had a beautiful little Spanish tiled courtyard to sit in outside my room.  I think most of them do after looking in a couple places around town.

After my walk around town and getting something to eat.  I came back to the room and was sitting in the courtyard having a drink.

This pretty young lady came out of the room next to mine and sat at a table nearby.  Since I am 71 most people I meet are much younger than me.  We talked from across the way in Spanish a little because that is all I know is a little Spanish unfortunately.  She asked if she could sit with me and of course I was delighted to have her to talk to.

When she came over we realized we both spoke English.  We were having a little trouble with the Spanish conversation.  It was a great surprise.  She was very pleasant and we had a great time talking the rest of the late afternoon.  

Later in the evening she said she was going to go have a drink and would I come.  It was not to late then so I said yes I will go for just one because I have a very very early flight in the morning.  We went and of course ended up with more then one drink but not by much.  It was getting late so I said I needed to get back because the morning flight was at 4:00 AM.  

When we got back I sat up for another drink with her and looked at the clock and it was after midnight.  YIKES!!!  I had to go to sleep but wasn’t going to get much!!!!!  I hated to leave and go to bed we were having such a great time talking.  But I did!!!!!!!

Morning came very very fast but it was worth it to have met such a nice person to spend my day with!  Here’s to her she made my day!!!!!!

The first few photos are of Jerez.  One of the courtyard at the hotel and a couple in town.  

Well it is great to be back in Chania!!!!!!!!  I have never felt more welcome!!!!!!  Brings tears to my eyes if I get to thinking about it!!!!  They are my second family here for sure!!!!!!!

The last photos are of the little party the night I got here on the penthouse of Julie’s dad.  Julie made an amazing snail dish from snails they harvest under the rocks in the orange groves near there cabin in the mountains not far from here.  

Lunch the next day with her dad and Nikos the old guy who lives down the hall from me.  My first sunset from my balcony.  The mountains that separate the north side from the south side of crete are still covered with snow.  

The other day I was sitting at a bench in the harbor staring off at the buildings and sea around the harbor.  

I looked and there was this big sea turtle that came up to the surface to have a look around and get some air.  His head was the size of a softball.  I think he winked at me to give me luck and dove back down.  Could be my imagination of course! HAHAHA!  

I watched him swim away under the crystal clear waters here.  Stopping to eat sea urchins, crabs and shellfish along the way.  I never did see him come back up after that.

Guess they can stay underwater for a long long time.  I thought for sure I would see him again. But no such luck.  I guess he already gave the good luck he was going to give to me for that day!!!!!!!!  

From what I read it was probably the loggerhead it is supposedly the only Mediterranean sea turtle that nests on Crete!  They come here in May-June to mate and lay their eggs!  They can live to be 70 years old.  Two of the largest nesting sites on Crete are found in Chania and Rethymnon!

One thing for sure Chania is a beautiful place!  The view from my balcony at Julie’s is unbeatable!!!  For many more photos and stories of Chania type in Chania in search box

YAY!  Back in Cadiz again!  Been here 2 weeks now and the time is flying by!  I will be here for a total of 2 months.  I love it here!  My walks through the parks and plazas.  Sitting at the many benches along the way.  Staring off at the sea and thousand year old Fig trees.  The little beach and small fishing boat harbor, people, statues, beautiful architecture, many birds and the occasional cat laying in a tall bush!  

It is Spring here.  It is sunny and cool with a little rain throw in and the flowers are beginning to bloom and loving it.  The scents in the air from all the many different blooms is incredible.  Nothing like spring for the masses of flowers blooming.  

The parakeets that migrated here from the Canary Islands are doing their spring mating ritual and squawking away.  Along with many other birds.  It is a Great time of year to be here.  Although it is still cool it is warm enough to go for long walks and enjoy the many sights along the way.  

They are now preparing for the onslaught of tourists and locals that come every year for the Easter Processions.  The Processions come from all over this area of Spain.  They last the entire week leading up to Easter Sunday.  It is a pretty amazing celebration to be able to see.  

There are 4 or 5 large processions each with a hundred people or more with assorted bands playing everyday leading up to the final day.  They go from the afternoon to the wee hours of the next day and then begin again the next afternoon.  Incredible and Spectacular!!!!!

People come from all over Spain and other countries around the world to see it.  There is not a room left at the many inns, apartments and hotels in town!

There are comfortable seating areas cordoned off all along the way through the main plazas of the city to the main cathedral.  They can be reserved at a small price so you have a comfortable front row seat and a first hand view of the passing procession.  

I prefer to walk along with the processions and stop at different viewing areas to get a better feel of what is going on.  You can usually find a good spot to stop and check things out when you want.  Although talk about super large crowds it is wall to wall people.  YIKES!!!

Last year I saw a homeless guy who was frustrated trying to get through the crowd.  He was crossing the parade route and where he was going was totally blocked by people.  Probably 10-15 deep.  No one wanted to move aside.  Finally he just stuck one arm out straight and pointed his finger at the crowd.  Stared straight ahead at them and started walking towards them.  Amazingly enough they immediately let him through.  It was like Moses parting the Red Sea!!!!!!!!!! Interesting Concept and it worked!!!!!!!  Who’d a Thunk!!!!!!!!!  I got a big chuckle out of that one!!!!

Needless to say I am very very content here.  There is no place I like better!  It is the perfect spot for someone of my age to be able to just walk around aimlessly and have interesting things to see and do.  All without a whole lot of effort and getting some exercise in at the same time!!!!!!!!  Perfect!!!

For more photos of Cadiz click on links below

Well Playa del Carmen has been a bust.  I wish I had some better things to say about it but I just don’t like tourist traps and this is a big one.  

There is no old part of the city with nice architecture.  There are thousands of tourists.  Only one pedestrian zone that goes for a mile and is hard to walk through the crowd.  Wall to wall businesses with very few benches to sit on.

A beach that is narrow and on the waters edge covered with grass being washed up from the sea. Unless you are in a hotel right on it.  There are very few places to get to it except side streets that end at it.  One small section in the center that you can actually sit and stare out over it.  If you come only for a week to party and carry on!  Then you will like it!!!

I for one couldn’t wait to leave!  

So the good!  I have a nice balcony to sit on and people watch.  Yes there is a beach and it is soft sand.  There are plenty of places to eat,  drink and other shops to spend your money on trinkets in.  There is some entertainment every night in the center.  It is kept sort of clean.  There is a really nice bus system to and from the airport in Cancun.  There are interesting ruins to see close to here.  You can get cheap flights to Cancun!  If you walk a couple of blocks from the strip.  You can find nice meals for half to a third less than the strip

I guess I should be more positive but it is hard for me here.  I pretty much thought it would be like this but wanted to see it for myself.  MY BAD!!!!  NEXT PLEASE!!!

I choose to do something different with my photography this time in Guadalajara.  I have taken many many photos of the sites and very old architecture of the town the last couple of years when I was here.  This time I wanted to change it up a little!

I choose these people to photograph because their faces tell a story of their life.  These are the faces of the old people like your grandfather,  grandmother, the street people and the mimes in town.  

These are the people that have had long hard lives and their faces tell their story.  I absolutely love them all they are beautiful in a very different way.

As poor as these people are they are all very kind and fun loving people!  I look at them all as beautiful in a very different way then most of us think is beautiful!    

If I live long enough I hope my face tells a story too!!!!!!!!!  Maybe it does already!!!  HAHAHA

So my Thanksgiving was Great Great Great more than I could ever ask for!!!!  Jason and his family and his wife Chris’ parents came to my sisters for Thanksgiving staying 5 days.  It was so good to see Alden my grandson and everyone!!!  Haven’t seen him much because of being on the road all the time.  

It is amazing how much he has grown from being a baby and just starting to walk when I saw him last Thanksgiving.  To being a little boy this year and running and talking helter skelter this year.  Huge difference!!!  He is amazing even if he is my grandson and I am biased!!!!!  

Spent the week before making all the deserts and goodies getting ready for the big 5 days of eating and celebration!!  I spent all day cooking and it all turned out great!  Which is amazing considering of how little I can concentrate and remember anymore.  

We spent our days at the many beaches and parks in the area.  Alden loves loves loves the water.  He had a great old time!!!  He was in the water every chance he could get.   Clothes and all sand all over him didn’t bother him a bit.  Building sand castles and playing in the waves in the harbor!!!

The photos are of the Thanksgiving Day Turkey and family at the table and the spots we spent our days at.  Didn’t put food on the table because Alden likes to play in it.  So put it on the counter for everyone to fix there plates from there and bring to the table.  Plus we  celebrated Alden’s birthday on December 5th a little early at our friends Linda and Ray’s house.  HAHA!  

It was a great time had by all!!!!!  Really really really Loved it!!!  He is too much couldn’t ask for more!!!  I will always remember it!!!  Can’t get enough!!!  HAHAHA WONDERFUL!!!  LIFE IS GOOD GOOD GOOD!!!!!!!!!

I was invited to a party with Julie and family to some friends I had met at a party at Kostas and Julies a week ago.  They wanted them to bring me to see their house and have a party for me.  Pretty nice of them!

It is in this little village of Kria Vrisi in the back country of Crete in among the olive trees in the heart of the olive oil country.  It was pretty amazing this big old place with many separate buildings.

It had a big basin where they said they used to stomp on the grapes with their feet to make wine. In another building they had a press to squeeze the olives from their trees for the oil.  The guy said he now uses the grape crushing basin for a swimming pool for the kids in the summer.  

There is another very old building that is preserved as it was when his grandfather and grandmother lived there.  It still is preserved as it was the day they left.  The grandparents live in Athens now and only come back to stay there on a couple holidays.  Looks like it hasn’t been lived in for a hundred years with all the old pictures hanging and things just left where they were way back when they left.  

Pretty cool stuff wish it had been during the day so I could see more and take more photos.  These are some photos of the party and the beehive shaped very old wood stove they used to cook the food in.  It was some of the best lamb I have tasted on Crete.  It melted in your mouth!!!!!!!! 

Towards the end of the party they started to sing the old traditional Cretan songs that most times accompany a party on Crete.  The songs they sing go back to 1000 A.D.  I’ll put in some info below. It is awesome to feel the vibe from them.  I have also written about them before.  They are mesmerizing when you are there and listening to them.  As they get into it it gets better and better and the more people join in.  It was an incredible experience for me.  One that I will never forget. Thank you all Loved it!!!!!!!!

The rizitika songs form a separate category of the Cretan folksongs. As the name indicates, the place of their origin is at the foot (rizes) of the mountains, especially the Lefka Ori in Western Crete.
Nobody knows exactly when the first rizitika songs came into existence, but at least they can be traced back to the Byzantine period (about 1.000 A.D.). The rizitika tradition has survived both the Venetian and the Turkish domination of the island, and is still alive in the 21st century. As a matter of fact there are a number of songs about the German occupation of Crete during the Second World War. Even today new rizitika songs are being composed, and their content and style do indeed live up to that of the old songs.
Besides the chronological classification, the songs are also divided into the two categories tis tavlas (at the table) and tis stratas (on the road).
The songs of the tis tavlas category are sung during banquets, at parties, baptisms, weddings and on other lesser occasions – and they are always sung without musical accompaniment.
The tis stratas songs are rarely sung nowadays, but in former times people sang them when they were walking or riding from one place to another. Often the songs were accompanied by a lyra (or a fiddle in Eastern Crete) and a laouto. This category also includes some of the wedding songs that were sung when the bridegroom set out for his parents-in-law’s home, and later when he brought his bride to their common home. Furthermore there are wedding songs where the bridegroom’s mother welcomes the bride, as well as when the dowry was exhibited.
The songs did change in the course of time. In Byzantine time a popular subject was the dying border soldier Digenis Akritas. Often the descriptions in the songs were exaggerated, as for instance in the well-known song about Digenis Akritas:  For other photos of Crete click the links below>  

So Thessaloniki is the only city or place I have been in Greece that I have very little good to say about it.  Or would I ever want to come back.  The only good thing about it is the cheap flight to Chania on Crete.

I have looked around for 4 days now and am staying for 5 unfortunately.  I have only taken 2 photos so far.  The old town what there is of it is on the top of the hill behind the old city walls.  It is OK but is a fairly steep long climb from the center to get to it.

The rest of the city burned to the ground in 1917.  In the main part of the city by the sea there is very little to like about it it is awful.  The developers that came in after the fire.  Slammed together all these faceless buildings.  Doesn’t look at all like Greece.  

All the buildings are Dirty.  Sidewalks are dirty.  If you lean on a wall you are covered in black grim where you touched the wall.  On the side streets there is garbage falling out of containers everywhere.

The traffic on the main roads through town is horrific all day and night long.  There is so much exhaust fumes from vehicles it gives you a sore throat and I can hardly breath.  

What historic sites they do have left.  Most are surrounded in scaffolding and covered with screen cloth.  No one is working on them and it looks like they have been that way for years.  The ones that aren’t being repaired are surrounded by tall fences some permanent some not.  It is like you are at the zoo looking at animals but they are buildings.  It is almost impossible to get a decent photo of what is behind them or to even see them.  

The parks and plazas are stark with few benches, flowers or plant life.   If they have a water fountain or feature it is usually not working and green with algae.  The buildings along the waterfront are all 8 to 10 stories tall and in much need of paint and repair.  

There are sidewalk cafes all along the waterfront but in the 2 Kilometer or more walk I did.  I only counted 14 benches to sit at by the edge of the sea and there is at any given time several hundred or more people walking.  I guess the idea is if there are no benches you have to sit at a cafe.

I apologize to those of you that live here because the people I have met have been very very very nice.  Super in fact!  It is the cities only saving grace!  A younger person more interested in having a good time for a weekend in all the cafes.  Would probably have a whole different opinion of it.

The prices they get to stay here do not warrant what they have to offer!!!  The only reason to come here is to get a ferry to the islands or a cheap flight somewhere else in Greece!!!  Greece has so so so many beautiful gems of places to see you are wasting your time coming here!

Well Skopje and Ohrid were two nice cities that I never expected to see.   Just kind of decided out of the blue one day to check out Macedonia.  It is out of the hustle and bustle of mainstream tourism and that is what I like.  

It turned out to be a really nice trip and I enjoyed my stay.  Although I wouldn’t hesitate to go back.  I probably won’t because I am 70 now and have to figure all the other places I want to go to.  Time is getting short now and I have many places left to see!

Well Ohrid Macedonia is a beautiful little city on Lake Ohrid.  It is a huge lake bordered on one side by Albania.  I can see the Albanian side in the far off distance from my balcony.  It was the capital of the the First Bulgarian Empire at the turn of the 10th century.  Here is how the lake is described in Wikipedia:

Lake Ohrid is the deepest lake of the Balkans, with a maximum depth of 288 m(940 ft) and a mean depth of 155 m (508 ft). It covers an area of 358 km² (138 sq mi), containing an estimated 55.4 km³ of water. It is 30.4 km long by 14.8 km wide at its maximum extent with a shoreline length of 87.53 km, shared between Macedonia (56.02 km) and Albania (31.51 km). Of the total surface area, 248 square kilometres (96 sq mi) belongs to the Republic of Macedonia and 110 km2 belongs to Albania.  Measured by its surface area of 358 km², Lake Ohrid is probably the most biodiverse lake on Earth.  There is much more written about it if you care to look it up in Wikipedia.

The bottom line is it is an incredibly beautiful lake!  There is a very long esplanade running for what seems like miles along the shore.  I walked a couple of miles and never did see the end of it.  Saw a lot of swans along the shore though and tons of minnows so that is a good sign the lake is very healthy.

There was a Triathlon going on where I stopped.  It was athletes from all over the Balkans including Turkey.  Pretty cool stopped there and watched what was going on and got to see the winners coming across the line.  Beautiful day for it!

I have now hiked up the surrounding hills a few days to see the various sites of the old city that sit on top of the hill.  There are many old churches along the hike.  They claim there are 365 and they date from the 9th -13th century.  There is a huge fortress that was built over an existing fortress dating back to the 4th century BC.  It is the main feature on the top of the hill overlooking the city.  Today’s existing fortress is from around 950-1000 AD.

The city is pretty nice really laid back and quiet.  Maybe a little too quiet for me but I am staying for a couple weeks.  I have really liked it so far.  The people are super nice and most speak English more so than in some of the other Balkan countries.  Although most of the Balkans have a lot of English speaking people.  The food is good in the restaurants and prices cheap cheap.  Perfect!!!

I love how all of these Balkan countries over here have kept the old traditions of dancing in the plazas alive.  From the very old to very young they all participate with the traditional attire of days gone by.  People from the street join in and the dance goes on.  It is Great to see!  It is really nice to see how people with an average monthly income of 200 euro on the lower end to 500 euro on the upper are so into living life.  They are very Pleasant, Happy and Smiling for the most part.  They have this great attitude too!  Of Live and let Live to Each His or Her Own kind of life.

It is a stark contrast from the USA nowadays where so many have so much money and time on their hands.  They have nothing better to do then to be in other peoples faces for any little thing that doesn’t fit into their narrow minded lifestyle!  Sad!!!!!!!!!

The really amazing thing to me is I have been here almost two weeks now and have not seen a mosquito!  You would think in a place with a lake this big and many many spring fed fountains constantly running all over town.  That it would be a big problem!  Can’t figure it out but sure don’t miss getting bit by them!!!  This is a great little city and like all of Macedonia somewhat out of the way of the beaten down tourist paths.  Definitely worth a visit.  I will probably be back sometime in the future!

So I am in my apartment in Skopje.  It was easy to meet up with the owner so that was great!  The place is nice so all set for the one night then move tomorrow to another place.  May come back here after the other place not sure yet.

The place I move tomorrow is overlooking the main square here.  I don’t think this place on the square has the room available after my 3 days but she said she knew someone else that had one so we will see.  Then I will choose where I stay from there.

Went to the market and back decided to just hang out and chill out the rest of day.  Got dinner though and supplies.  I passed out shortly after eating lunch just got up a little bit ago.  Guess I was tired slept 3 hours!  I am good just very tired from getting up at 2 am and all the moving and trying to figure out how to meet people when I get rooms.  It is hard some people are easy to get up with others not so much.  So I always worry how I will find my room once I am in town. 

Well the next morning I went to meet the girl I was supposed to meet for the next apartment. This room the girl was 2 1/2 hours late to meet me.  I was going crazy emailing her calling her on Skype.  She just had a baby so she fell asleep and forget me.  She was very apologetic and I understand it’s very tiring with a new baby.  This new room is really nice and my balcony overlooks the main square.  So I am at the heart of the city and very happy with my new room. YAY!!!!!!!  

By the time I got in the room though I was super nerved up.  I just went to sleep and did nothing the whole day except go to the market for food again.  Did sit on the balcony the better part of the day watching the people and looking at the amazing statues in the square.  It is a real pain in the ass if people do not respond right away and show up when they are supposed too.  I get very worried.  I am good just tired from the trip it has been a long one with trains, planes, buses and rooms.  Plus everytime you move you lose a day just getting situated. 

Turns out she had a couple more nights available so I will be here till the 14th.  That gives me 5 days here to explore so I am good with that.  Would have liked a couple more days but I will get a few more nights after I come back from Ohrid where I am going next.  It is hard to get the amount of time you want when you have to wait till the last minute to get a room.  I just do not always know till just before where I want to go next.  This time of year everyone is on vacation in Europe so you have to get what you can and be happy.  Or be able to book way in advance. 

I heard varying opinions of what Skopje would be like before I came.  I can say that after a few days of being here and exploring that it has turned out to be much nicer than I thought it would be after all the opinions on it.  

There are very few of the soviet era stark crumbling concrete buildings that are so common in the Balkans or if there are I didn’t see many.  The big apartment buildings here at least have a little bit of style to them and the biggest share are well kept, nicely painted and colorful.  There are many buildings under construction and many being restored that have been started but look like they have stopped work on them.  This is a poor country so that is just part of the evolution to get things started and they are headed in the right direction. 

They start these massive projects then run out of money and have to wait till they get more money to continue.  Such is life here and in most of the Balkans.  At least they are trying very hard to develop what they have.  There are huge statues everywhere that look like a giant built them.  Some dwarf the buildings around them.  It seems like thousands of them they are everywhere you look. They are of important people, priests, scholars and animals lining the bridges and placed throughout the parks and plazas.  Some huge some life size. 

One of the bridges crossing the Vardar river is made of solid bronze all intricately embossed.  One of the most famous is the Stone bridge it is considered the symbol of Skopje and is in it’s coat of arms.  Many of the bridges have statues lining both sides all the way across.  There are many of them crossing from one side to the other.  Pretty amazing! 

In the old part of the city there is a huge bazaar mostly made up of Turkish immigrants selling tourist items etc.  They never left here from many years ago when it belonged to the Turks.  The old town is pretty much the Bazaar.  The old buildings are all filled with tourist shops.  So not so nice as far as I am concerned.  The city has a big Turkish presence and many mosques throughout.  It makes it an interesting and diverse culture.  It has a good size castle sitting on a hill across the river from the main square in the old town. 

I think it is a pretty interesting place and it is dirt cheap to stay and eat.  That always has some influence on me liking it or not!  The one thing about it though is I didn’t get that warm fuzzy feeling about it.  I think because the statues are so so massive and so many it is hard to get that warm a feeling.  I personally think it is a little over done in that respect but still a great place to visit.  The 6 days went by fast and I never lacked for new places to see and things to do.  I won’t mind coming back after my trip to Ohrid to stay for a few more days before I catch the bus to Thessaloniki.  It has been a really nice stop along the way for me.  It is a work in progress with good potential.  Glad I stopped to see it.  Life is Good Dave

Well I’m in my room in Budapest left this morning from Bucharest.  Went there for two days from Brasov.  One to get from Brasov to Bucharest one to figure out where to get the bus etc to the airport on the second morning.   To catch the very early morning flight to Budapest.

The room is very small but nice and has a small kitchen.  It is right next to the Danube river.  To bad the balcony doesn’t look over it.  I am on the 6th floor and the balcony overlooks a nice inner court of which I only see the rooftops because I am at the very top of the building.  Kind of neat to look at.

So far from the walk here this morning there is going to be way more than I can see and do in the time I will have.  It will keep me very busy trying to see as much as I can!!   Very beautiful old huge buildings everywhere. 

Left the room this morning and went across the street and walked alongside the Danube into the center.  It is incredibly gorgeous along the river with the long tourist boats easily the length of a football field sailing up and down.  Looking across the river at the scenery of the Pest side is beautiful with the huge government buildings and churches.  The walk is great nice little parks and benches all along the way.  When you come to the center on the Buda side there are these amazingly huge government buildings absolutely incredible in size and design. 

I walked for 3-4 hours every morning and for 1 or 2 in the evening.  With only 5 days to see it I really had my work cut out for me.  The buildings in the center of the city are really massive and many are ornately decorated with beautiful stone carvings of every imaginable manner of people, gargoyles, gods and animals.  Still can see bullet holes from the wars on some of the buildings!  You could also see them in Belgrade and Brasov on the buildings there.  Crazy to see took me awhile to recognize what they were!  

The buildings here are so massive it is impossible to get far enough back to take photos of the cravings.  The only other problem I had is from the fumes from the vehicles because there is nowhere for the air to escape.   Unless there is a strong wind blowing through and even then the fumes are strong.  No different than any other large city.  At least down by the river it is open and the fumes aren’t a bother.  I spent the largest share of my time there. 

I am sure I still didn’t put a dent in all there is to see but think I saw the most grandiose of them all at least!  The food has been excellent and the price of things are much cheaper than I anticipated so that has been great to find out.  Probably on the line of the prices in Cadiz.  Won’t hesitate to come back again and see some more of it. 

I leave Saturday morning at 2:30 am to walk to the bus for the airport takes about 40 min or so then another 35min to airport for flight at 6:25.  Hate those very early morning flights but such is life.  They are always the cheapest way to fly.  It will be a very short flight to Skopje in Macedonia.  Get there early and will have to wait till room is cleaned in afternoon.  Bummer Dude!!!  Then next day move to new place.  Crazy.  LIFE IS GOOD Dave

 

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Well it has been a really pleasant time spent here in Brasov.  I love the apartment.  It has everything I need plus some.  The sunsets are drop dead gorgeous from the balcony at night. The weather has been perfect the whole time and the days very relaxing.  It is a very homey kind of place.  It is a beautifully well preserved small city in the mountains.  I am really glad I made this choice and wouldn’t hesitate to come back again.

It has given me the opportunity to plan the last leg of my trip before I go home in November.  The WIFI is super here.  Unlike the hotel in Varna where it was just about impossible to do anything other then send an email and sometimes not even that worked!  It takes me a lot of time to figure out where I want to go because I am like a kid in a candy shop with so much to choose from.

Doing this full time means I have to try and get the biggest bang for my buck.  There are many many variables to choose from to make it all come together.

I first start with the places I am interested in and then find the cost of what a decent place to stay is going to cost.  Then I find the cheapest flights to and from them and on what days they are on.  I always check out as many ways as there are possible to get there.  Which means checking out multiple airports etc.

The bottom line is I want the most direct flight and best place to stay for the least money doesn’t matter what day just as long as the price is right.  Time is on my side money isn’t.  I save hundreds of dollars every year by doing it this way.  There are always a couple of flights each month that are super cheap going or coming from most places.  I mean like $50 dollars including a check in bag.  I got one earlier this year for $25 including a check in bag.  That was amazing to me!  Just have to spend hours and hours looking to make it all come together.  Like I said time is on my side.

In saying that I am a little late in figuring out this last leg of the trip.  I should have had it done when I was in Varna but just couldn’t with the shit WIFI.  I started right away when I got here but my first plan fell apart.  When I decided I had it all figured out and went to book it all.  The prices of a couple of the flights I was going to take in October doubled what they were.  I was pissed but such is life just had to start over.  At least I got it booked through September.

So all I have left is October to figure and then home after that.  The biggest deal was getting the September bookings.  July through September are the prime months here.  So September 1st I head out for Bucharest to catch a plane to Budapest.  Budapest and Bucharest are really good places to find cheap direct flights to and out of.  It was the cheapest way to go to Skopje in Macedonia where I will be staying for a few weeks.

I haven’t been to Budapest before so decided to spend 5 days there to see it.  Before heading to Skopje.  Was figuring if I liked it I would stay longer on the way back.  There was a really cheap flight direct to Cyprus from there then to Chania on Crete.  But those are the flights that doubled.  I just waited too long because of the shit WIFI and me procrastinating too long when I got here to book them.  Bummer Dude!

One thing I am really really good at is procrastinating!  Either way I save money but could save more if only I could make a damn decision!  I think a lot of people would love to have this be their only problem in their life.  So I have nothing to complain about!

Well have booked all my fights from now till I get home the end of October.  I was going to stay till the first week in November but those fights went up big time too.  At any rate I am booked and can take a breather doing all this research to get flights to places.  

I leave for Budapest in three days.  I am going to miss these Gorgeous sunsets it was a real pleasure!!!!!!!!

I am in Brasov now it is in the Transylvanian mountains of Romania.  It is another one of the many nice spots in the world.

The ride on the bus from Varna to Bucharest was uneventful and on time.  Much better than the last two border crossings.  The last one going to Bulgaria from Romania where the taxi driver said there was a bus station at the border and there wasn’t and I ended up having to hitchhike the rest of the way to Varna.  BUMMER DUDE!

Plus the one going from Serbia to Romania where I had 2 cartons of cigarettes and was only supposed to have 2 packs.  Which I didn’t know.

Didn’t realize till later when I looked it up that Serbia is not an EU country.  Thought it was but just not in the Schengen zone.  Wrong!  The pisser is it held up the shuttle bus for a what seemed like a long time.  While I was getting processed through three different people before they let me go.  Said they could fine me 100 Euro but didn’t.  They kept the smokes though.  BUMMER DUDE!

Spent the night in Bucharest at a cheap hotel and in the morning headed to Brasov.  I was amazed when I got there and saw that the train was on time.  I figured I was early and that a little before it was scheduled to leave the schedule board would say it would be late.  

Well damn if it didn’t come in on time.  Everyone got aboard and the engine goes to start and leave and it breaks down.  HAHA!  After trying to fix it they decided to swap engines.  Anyways it took them an hour but they got it done and off we went.  The good thing about was I could watch them do it because I was in the couch next to the engine.  So that helped the time pass.

Romanian trains and from what I hear Bulgarian ones too are all left over from what I think is world war two or at least looks like it.  Just the way it is here and you have to go with the flow. Bottom line is if you need to be on time don’t take a train.

I hated to leave Varna but August there is super hot and I can’t take that kind of heat anymore.  So I’m glad I found Brasov to come to when I was here this spring.  The weather is perfect not to hot not to cool kind of thing.  

It is totally different then Varna.  Where as Varna is non stop things going on.  It is a really quiet peaceful place to just lay back and relax.  Kind of nice for a change.

It is a beautiful and very clean little city with most of its original architecture still here and in good shape.  Real nice to see it so well preserved.  Nice plazas and parks full of roses everywhere and plenty of benches to sit on and while away the day.  Probably get bored after a while but right now I am loving it.

I have a beautiful penthouse apartment all brand new with a huge deck to sit on an stare off at the mountains and town below.  I get a great sunset over the mountains every night.  The other great thing about it is I get to cook what I want to eat.  That is a big plus to me I love to cook and it helps to occupy some of my time.  

It is also wedding season and you can hear the honking of the horns going down the streets on the weekends and see the many ceremonies in the park with all the roses.  It must be a tradition here to have the ceremony in the park or at least photos after.

I have been here almost two weeks now so time is going by fast.  Just laying back and enjoying what time I have left!!!

For more Photos of Brasov click link below

More photos of the entertainment in Varna.  The international festival of music and dance.  People from all the different countries in the Balkans.  Pretty Sweet!!! Not many places like it! Gotta Love it!  

For more stories and photos of Varna follow the links at bottom of page!

First let me say I absolutely love Varna!  Unlike most places I choose it is not because of the beauty of the architecture!  Or like most places in the Eurozone I like with the narrow streets and old balconied buildings.  There is very little of that in all the Balkans!  All of those things seem immaterial to me here.  It is mainly because they were ruled by the communists till a little more than ten years ago.  They have only recently started to come back from that era of rule.  Their efforts are just starting to show but they have a long road ahead to get there!

The cities here have there old parts of different sizes but few with large areas.  They Consist of varying degrees of grand old buildings.  Some larger than others.  Varnas old town is somewhat small and is in need of repair.  The repair is happening now but like I said it is going to take a while to complete.  Meaning years!

The rest of what they call the new part of the city is like the rest of the Balkans shoddily made old concrete communist era buildings in need of much repair.  The rest new big commercial and apartment buildings.  Not much to look at in my book.

The part about it I do really really like is the beautiful flowered parks along the sea that you can walk for miles on.  The harbor to watch the fishermen.  The endless entertainment and the beach bars that you can sit at in a cushy chair with your feet in the sand.  The long wide esplanades and countless benches you can sit and watch life go by!  These things are just the extras for me.

What I really come here for is because of the really really Great Vibe it gives off with the endless parade of families with their children.  They are the topping on the cake to me.  All different, all ages, all doing their own thing and having a Great time!

It is super peaceful, tranquil and soothing most of the time.  This is truly a piece of heaven and a seaside escape for the many Bulgarian families to come to.  There are very few outside tourists.  To me there is no better stimulus for the brain or soul!

This place is so so so full of LIFE and it is almost totally because of all the children.  They are all beautiful and so innocent!!!  They have no preconceptions of what life should be!  There is a lot for them to do here and it shows in the many smiles on everyone’s faces!

It is not that the children or families elsewhere in the world are any different.  It is just that I have never seen so so so many children in one place before!!!  PERFECT!!!  I now know what I want to be when I grow up!  A CHILD!!! 

The Photos below are some of my favorite and contain some repeats of previous posts.  My grandson Alden comes first of course he is such a happy happy boy!

 

 

So turned into a long trip to Varna but in the end it worked out great.  Because I got to meet a family and a guy that did me a really really great favor.  

I left Bucharest this morning for Varna.  To start the train in Bucharest was an hour late leaving for Constanta a city on the Black sea in Romania.  That started the trip off not so good because when I got to Constanta the last shuttle bus of the day had left for Varna a half hour before I got there.  

So I’m standing in Constanta going which way do I go George which way do I go.  Decided I had two choices take the train or a bus to Mangalia a small town about an hour from here on the way to the border.  To try and catch another bus from there.  The trains don’t go any further.  I decided to take the bus because there was one leaving for there when I went to go back to the train station.  It got me to Mangalia and dropped me off in the middle of town next to the train station there.

I then tried to find a bus to Varna all there was was a sign saying to call a number and request one.  So first of all I can’t call without WIFI so that was out and sounded like it would be a long wait.

So decided to ask these taxi drivers were to get the bus.  Well one of them says he would take me to the border where there is this bus station with many buses to Varna.  So I pay the $20 bucks thinking what the hell just sounded easier then doing the call and request a bus thing.  Plus figured I would be better off if there were more buses leaving from there to Varna.

I didn’t remember seeing one and went across twice before.  I took the shuttle bus before so it never crossed my mind or was something I would have paid attention to.  So that’s what I did!  Got to the border and payed the cab and go to pass through the border.

The guard at the border says to me where you going and I say Varna, Bulgaria.  He looks at me smiles and says how you going to get there walk.  Because at that point I was walking across the border.  I say no I’m going to get a bus at the bus station.  He looks at me and smiles again and says there is no bus station here.  He was a young guy and very nice but he is laughing at me because I was stupid enough to believe the cab driver.

I hate cab drivers they are such crooks and I know it but this guy sounded sincere.  So I believed him and at that point needed to do something.  Bang I got taken again.  Did I say I hate cab drivers. 

Anyways the guard says I don’t know what to tell you.  You can change some money at this place 400 meters down the road and ask in there if anyone can help you.  Or stick out your thumb and go for it smiling all the time.  He was nice spoke good english just couldn’t help but laugh don’t blame him I was to.  Him and the girl guard both were laughing and shaking their heads.  I’m going shit!  Here we go new adventure coming up!!

So I go down the road to the change place which is just a booth outside a duty free shop of some kind.  I’m thinking how much I should change because I figure I’m going to get ripped off here.  A guy with his daughter comes up and goes to make change.  I ask him if it is a good place to change money and he says yes or his daughter says it for him can’t remember.

Anyways he asks me where I am from while I’m changing my money.  His daughter is interpreting when he can’t figure out what I am saying.  He was pretty good at english though.  Good thing for me!!!  They were both real friendly and we started talking about my predicament and did he know any buses.  They said in the end that why don’t you come with us we are going down the road to a place we like to eat seafood about 50 km from here.

Said if you would like to we will drop you off in a spot you should be able to catch a bus from.  I say I’d love to and thank you very much for the offer.  I get in the car and there is his girlfriend and grandmother there too.  Piled all my stuff in the trunk and off we went.  Took about an hour to get to where they left me off and we laughed and chatted like crazy the whole time.  

His Daughter was 13 and spoke pretty much perfect english.  She said she went to school for it and had traveled and went to school around Europe.  But that she had learned more from watching movies and youtube etc then she learned in school.  You could tell she was very smart never would have guessed she was 13.

Her grandmother was laughing and telling her she didn’t have any idea she new english so well.  So she got a big kick out of it herself.  They were great great people and I guess had some money because the daughter was well educated and said she had two houses one for school and one for the summer.  The dad traveled all over for different vacations of a month or two at a time.  So he was really into what I was doing.  We were like old friends when they left me off.

I stood at the spot they picked to drop me off and waited and waited for a bus none came.  It was a very busy spot so I expected one any minuet.  Got out my phone and looked at the mapsme app I have and saw that it should be the perfect spot.  So after and hour or at least it felt like it I’m thinking what do I do now.

The choice was walk into the town which was about an hour on foot or stick out my thumb and hope for a ride.  I decided it’s been a long long time since I have hitchhicked so out went the thumb.  After another hour or more for sure this time I was starting to rethink that plan and just about ready to give up.  Because hundreds of cars and even a few buses had passed with no luck.  I was bending down to pick up my stuff and one more car was coming put out my thumb and Bingo he stopped. YAY!!!!

Nice LandRover so had plenty of room for my stuff and just the one guy driving.  He was great lived in Varna and was going home from his cottage near where he picked me up.  He spoke great english so we had another great time talking the hour or so getting into Varna.  Gave me several ideas about some new places to see.  He is an electrical engineer.  So was well off by Bulgarian standards as were the others.  

Surprisingly both the group of people and him said they like to give back to help people because they feel lucky to have what they have.  Amazing how things happen to workout when you least expect them to.  He dropped me off about as close as you can get to my Hotel and headed home.  The adventure made me smile ear to ear!!!

Turned out to be a perfect day and I was glad to have put up with the hassles of getting here.  The reward was so much better!!!!!  I would be glad to do it again if that were to happen all over.  Great Day After All!!!  Did take10 hours though!  70 years old and hitchhiking in the middle of nowhere in Bulgaria running out of options not even knowing what my next move would be.  Who’da thunk!  Not even me!​

It feels so so so good to be back here it is my sanctuary away from home.  It reminds me of the tiny little park in Guadalajara where I used to stop by many times in the day to just stop and feel the really really good vibe it offered me!!!  AH what an incredibly beautiful Vibe it has.

I am steps from the Black sea and I can see it from my balcony.   I watch hundreds of families and children pass by doing all kinds of things on scooters etc of all sizes laughing and having a great time.  I listen to excellent low key live music every night from a place across from my room.

The beautiful park is also steps away that I can walk 3km or 2 miles one way along the cliffs looking over the sea.  Or down to the sea and to the beach bars where you can have a beer with your feet in the sand.  From there to the harbor to watch the fishermen fishing off the wharf and ships coming in.  

The park is full of statues and fountains and things for children and adults to do.  It is great and I love it.  There are many paths weaving through it all with many benches to sit at.  You can enjoy either the view of the huge flower beds planted everywhere or the sea and watching the ships pass by.  It is incredible!!!

There are many many Bulgarian families here with their children sitting in the park on blankets for a picnic.  Stopping at the petting zoo or the bigger zoo.  The many many different things like tennis courts, soccer courts, three huge swimming pools.  One for pool sports, one for water ballet and diving, and one that I think is an olympic size with lanes for swimming meets.  There are several different sized amusement areas for different aged children.  

Saw two outdoor ping pong tables set up today just along the side of one of the wide paths through the park.  They had nice paddles and balls for people to use and just left there.  No one steals them.  They respect the fact that they are there for all to use.  No slot to put money in! What an incredible concept!  Last place you would ever expect to see a couple of ping pong tables.

It is a very very very peaceful and special place.  For people young and old no one is judged all are left to live there own way.  It is very different then Cadiz as it has just a little old town area.  The people are very modern in dress and style.  Orange, Bright Red, Green, Blue hair it is all about live and let live.  It is also about Rest, Relaxation and Laughter!!!!  Perfect!!  AH So Good to be Back!!!!!  HAHAHA!  Life Is Good! Dave 

For more photos of Varna see links below photos

Left for the airport in Timisoara this morning at 6AM.  It was lightning and pouring like a cow pissing on a flat rock.  Decided good day to take a cab DUH!!!!!  I went the short distance to where they all were yesterday and there was not a one there.  Shit!!!

Oh well good thing I had a rain parker!  It was 20 minutes or more to the bus stop but part way there the rain let up.  I thought for sure everything in my suitcase and backpack would be wet. Checked at the airport but it wasn’t.  Great!  

Short flight to Bucharest then met a shuttle I had ordered to go to Brasov.  The guy was waiting when I arrived and was very friendly and spoke good english.  $20 for a 3 hour trip to Brasov in a Mercedes van with WIFI not bad.  The driver was super nice and the time passed quick.  

Met the wife of the guy that rented the apartment to me.  She was waiting when we got there. When I walked in my eyes lit up.  I was like WOW this place is beautiful.  Everything was new and really really tastefully done all first rate stuff.  From rain shower to mood lights in the bathroom. Beautiful kitchen, Huge balcony on the 6th floor overlooking the mountains and city.  Doesn’t get any better!  I think it is the nicest place I have ever rented. Amazing!

Brasov is beautiful!  A good size old town.  Lots of parks full of roses, fountains, evergreens and benches to sit and while away the day.  Only came for 3 days to see it so I could find somewhere to get out of the heat in August.  This fit the bill perfectly.

The owner had saved the month for me till I came to look at it.  Boy am I glad he did.  Gave me a super deal on it!  So it worked out perfect made all the extra time and money to get there just to look for a place early worth every penny!  Wow it is nice!  Both the owners the guy and his wife are really really nice.  Very mellow and down to earth kind of folks.  He’s a software designer and travels all over the world for work.  The morning I was leaving He came by and gave me a ride to the train station.  Saved me a 20+ minute walk.  

Bottom line is I have a really amazing place for August instead of the heat and fumes of Bucharest where I stayed last year.  August is not a good time of year to be in Bucharest it is super hot there then. 

So I got a couple of good days to look around!  I am very pleased and happy I am going to have such a great place for the month of August!!!  WOW did I say it was a great place!!!!!!!!!  Life Is Good!!!!!!!!!!!

For more photos of Brasov click link below

I am now in my apartment in Timisoara.  It is right on the main old town square.  The square is huge and surrounded with beautiful giant old buildings a Cathedral and fountains.  It is very very beautiful.  My balcony overlooks it all.  I could ask for nothing more.  Beautiful first night here. From the balcony I can hear a live concert filling the square with music from several singers all Great!!!!  LOVE LOVE LOVE it!​  

Went for a long walk around what I could find of the old town center today.  The first impression from my balcony was the best of it.  The rest that I saw was really nice but not near as spectacular as the square I am staying on.   As it turned out I have the best view in town just sitting on my balcony.   Which is fine with me I was tired from the trip yesterday.

So now I can just sit and relax today.  Other than walking to and checking out where to get the bus to the airport.  Plus checking out a few more areas just to make sure I didn’t miss anything close by.  I won’t have to do much else.

Mind you I didn’t do a major search here.  I was only here two days so I am sure there are many things I probably missed.  I am not really sure.  It’s a nice city but from what little I saw it was very similar to Belgrade.  It was a little dirty meaning trash from people that can’t make it to a garbage can and need to leave everything where they are sitting kind of thing.  They do not seem to have the money here to pay people to cleanup which is very necessary in a place they want tourism.

The main reason I came was to catch a plane to Bucharest because the difference in the cost of a flight from Belgrade versus here was $100+.  I got the flight from here for $23 so figured it would be worth seeing this city as I had thought about it last year.  Now I know and have seen it.  It was worth coming to for the flight alone.   Seeing the city was an added bonus!

Well after my really great time at Danas and Kents!  I have headed out to Belgrade and from there I will go to Timisoara, Romania.  Branka the lady that runs the place I stayed in Belgrade met me on arrival as planned.  

She was so so pleasant and was always smiling.  She took me to the room and then for a drink at her brothers cafe just below my room on the beautiful pedestrian zone there.  We talked for a long time and then I headed back to my room. 

I needed some help from her to arrange transportation to Timisoara and she went out of her way to help.  Dana had already contacted the shuttle people I was going to take so it was all set up.  I tried to make contact with the shuttle service but we had a hard time understanding each other. Dana and Branka got together by phone and took care of everything to make it a very smooth and stressless experience for me.  I get so nerved up when I travel from place to place now it is like I never traveled before.  

Belgrade was not the most interesting of places I have been but it was nice nevertheless.  Not somewhere I would make a destination out of but good for a stop over and a look around.  The trouble with it is and no fault of their own.  It was bombed flat to the ground so many times in the last 100 years there is very little of the old that has survived.  I could still see bullet holes in a few of the buildings from all the conflicts. 

What has survived though is very beautiful and I can imagine what it would have looked like if all these great old buildings were still standing.  Serbia is a very poor country so you can’t expect the cities like Belgrade to be as well kept as other more affluent places.  There are many parks throughout the city and the old buildings that are left are beautiful but not so well kept as other places I have been.  The potential is there just not the money to make it happen.

The tourist areas like the pedestrian zones of which there are many are well kept up but that is about it.  The city is not dirty but could use some more care to be taken of it.  All and all it was very interesting and I made a couple of very nice long walking tours of the different neighborhoods to check them out. 

My room was in the perfect location so I was content to just look down at all the people going by in the pedestrian zone and enjoyed my time doing just that.  I am glad I saw it and glad to be moving on.  The people in Serbia were very very kind and many went out of their way to help!  It was a really great experience for me!  Life Is Good!  Dave

Well the trip to Kragujevac in Serbia was a very very long 24 hr ordeal.  First train to Jerez airport at 9am.  Then flight to Barcelona.  Then flight to Belgrade.  Then cab to bus station because the plane was late and the last bus at 2am into Belgrade I missed by 30 minutes.  

Fortunately I met a guy on the plane ride from Serbia that was going to the bus station in Belgrade too.  So he got us the cab and we split the tab.  Got to the bus station and the bus I was supposed to get to Kragujevac they discontinued 10 days before I got there.  So another couple of hour wait till the first bus in the morning came.

It worked out fine my friend from the plane was there and the bus he was going to get to where he was going was also canceled so he had to wait too.  We just sat had a coffee and a couple beers and waited it out.  He was good company and the time passed quickly.

Finally got the bus and arrived in Kragujevac at about 10am.  Got a cab to Dana’s and Kent’s house and she was at the gate waiting for me.  It was really good to finally be there and to see them again.  It has been a couple of years since we met in Chania.  

There new house is big and beautiful and like a little oasis in the heart of town.  They have a small fenced in yard filled with beautiful landscaping and flowers everywhere you look.  If you didn’t know better you would think you were outside of town it is so peaceful and quite there.  It is perfect for them!

Rada the lady that sold the house to them owns another house in the same yard and is a really super nice person too.  She is a very friendly and bubbly person very positive and well educated. She has several degrees in medicine.  She is very kind and does many charitable things for the poor.

She took us around one day to see the different sights around town.  It was great stopped for some drinks and pastries along the way and had a great time.  

We all talked and laughed together the whole time I was there.  It has been incredible and very comforting to have been able to see them again.  

Dana is a gourmet cook and I think I gained 10 pounds in the days I was there.  The things you have to put up with.  I suffered through it though and endeavored to perceiver.  HAHA!

The city is the 4th largest in Serbia and was the original capital of Serbia before Belgrade.  It is also has many good universities.  I didn’t really see much of it but it was very peaceful and quiet for a big city.  

I was only there for 6 days and it went by like a rocket.  We spent most of the time enjoying each others company.  About all I did is go to the market with Dana every day to get things for the days many meals. 

The little puppy in the photos is Pi.  He is very very special because he is blind.  Although the Vet said he may gain back some of his sight he wasn’t sure.  They and the people they got him from didn’t know when they got him.  Of course they would never give him back.  He is such an incredible little dog.  You would never know he was blind if someone didn’t tell you. 

He has no trouble navigating around or causing trouble!  He is so small and so so full of life.  His fur is the texture of a cats.  It is going to be amazing to watch him develop his many senses.  That is one things that dogs are really gifted with.  He is very lucky to have them and they are very lucky to have him!  He is a Great little dog!  It was a truly wonderful time and I will always remember it!  

I am so blessed to know so many very very special people all over the world.  Nothing I can think of in my life could be better.  I am so so so fortunate it is absolutely amazing to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I would not trade all the money in the world for it.  It is truly living LIFE!!!!!

Well Cadiz is a  very very beautiful and peaceful place.   I have really enjoyed the 3 months I’ve been here.  I think I have now explored every nook and cranny there is to be seen.  I’m sure there are a few I missed but not many.  I wish the weather had been better but can’t have everything and it was unusually cold most places this year!  

The friends I met from last year Victor and Carmen have been a big part of my stay.  They are really nice and I enjoy their company.  Not to mention eating Tapas with them in the outside cafes.  The place I rent from them is perfect for me and I am quite comfortable in it.  I hope I will be back again next year but time will tell on that one.

I have thought many times since my first trip here that it would be a perfect place to live.  If I were 10 years younger I definitely would consider taking on one of the few old fixer uppers left in town.  I have always loved old houses and doing that type of thing.  I have always been good at picturing the before and after in my mind!  

As I walk along through the many streets.  I often stop and look at the old places I see and think of what they would look like if given a new life.  The problem with it now is.  You need a lot of energy to do a project like that.  I just don’t think I have it in me anymore!  Not only that but I’m not sure I want to spend what time I have left doing it.  The years go by so so so fast now!

The cool windy days when I first came gave me the incentive I have needed.  To get the long overdue work on my website done!  It was a mess and a totally frustrating project to do.  

I am glad I could step away when I needed to.  Go for a nice long walk through the many Parks and Plazas.  Checking out the ducks, stray cats, feeding the birds with my stale bread.  People watching sitting at the many benches along the way.  It really helped me come back to life.  Then coming back and giving it another go around.  Till it starts beating me again.

I have to hand it to all the people who do this kind of thing for a living.  It is one of the hardest and most complicated things I have ever done.  If it hadn’t been for all the many articles and advice I have received from others.  It would have never happened.  Thank You All!  It was just way way over my head!

The big IF ONLY is.  I should have taken the time to learn before I started.  The only problem with that is.  I didn’t know what I needed to do or learn until after two years of working on it has shown what needed to be done!  That’s the Catch 22!  It’s like most things you do in life.  Live and Learn as you go.

I am sure in most professionals eyes my website is a very long ways from perfection.  But I am only trying to have a nice presentable site.  To leave a diary and a memory of my travels behind for my new Grandson and anyone else who may stumble across it.  At this point in my life I am having a hard time figuring out what I went into the next room for!  Never mind how to write HTML!  YIKES!

All things considered it has been a really really GREAT time.  I am a little Sad to be leaving but Happy to be starting a new adventure! 

My time is up here in the Schengen Zone!  You only get 90 days then you have to leave for 90 before you can come back.  I am heading to Serbia to see some really good friends!  Then to Romania and Bulgaria for the summer months!  YAY!  LIFE IS GOOD!!!

The first photo below is of the giant Phoenix that Victors great grandfather designed and cast in Bronze.  He was a really great artist at the time with iron!  He made many many of the intricate old street lights, railings and the elaborate doors on the old houses in town.  Which are still here and just as beautiful to this day!

Unfortunately he had his two ironworks businesses confiscated from him by the Franco Regime.  Fortunately they didn’t kill him too!  He is very lucky because Victors other great grandfather was taken away and killed by them!  They even had the audacity to send the family a bill for the bullet!  That’s how they know he was killed!  They have never found out where he was buried.  It was a Horrible Dictatorship!!  A Very sad time for Spain!  It was of course a much longer story then this. 

The second photo is of the massive building the Phoenix is on.

For more photos of Cadiz go to  CADIZ 2017and  CADIZ thoughts now and next year

Made it to the ripe old age of 70!!!  Pretty amazing in my book!  Never thought I’d make it to 60 let alone 70!  I’m In the beautiful city of Cadiz, Spain for my birthday!  Couldn’t think of a place I would rather be.

I feel very very gifted to have been able to see and experience what I have so far in life.  I have no regrets about getting older.  The regrets I do have from the past were all a part of learning.  My biggest regret is not having known what I know today many years ago.

I look forward to many exciting new adventures in the future and all that life has to offer!!!!  There are many many many things in life to be Thankful for! 

You do not have to look very far to see them and to see how much better off you are then others!  Just waking up in the morning is one of the best ones!

One of the others is being able to take a photo like this of this very beautiful old lady from Monopoli, Italy.  She was so full of life just made you smile inside!  If I can have the smile she has when I get that old I will be fine with that!!!

Take Time To Smell The Roses and Don’t Eat Yellow Snow!!!!!!!!!  I am Endeavoring to Persevere!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  LIFE IS GOOD!!  Dave

It is SEMANA SANTA here in Cadiz.  A truly Majestic event!  It is a week long Catholic celebration!  A Holy week of much eating, drinking and watching the Brotherhoods of Cadiz 31 different processions of Paseo’s passing through the streets! 

They start off at their Cathedrals and all end up at the Main Cathedral in the center.  Then go back to where they started to end their march through town.

The Paseo’s are the elaborately decorated floats that take 40-50 men to carry.  Each procession has a large group of people some as many as a hundred or more people leading the way. 
Most have pointed hoods covering their faces and are of each brotherhood’s colors representing what brotherhood they come from. 

They are pretty eerie looking!  It is said unfortunately that the KKK got the idea for their hoods from them.  Then comes the Paseo and then the marching bands playing very solemn music.  They are really pretty amazing to watch pass by.  It is a tradition that dates back to medieval times. 

Although they are Incredibly beautiful and I wouldn’t want to miss it.  They are like watching paint dry because they are so so so slow.  They stop many times to rest for a bit.  It takes them 3 or 4 hours to walk the 2500 meters or mile and a half through the narrow winding streets that they travel. 
It is a week to be remembered!!!!!!!!  Life is Good!!!!!!!!!!!!

 BLOG PAGE 

To see more photos of Semana Santa go to: Semana Santa 2017

Well with all the rainy days here in Cadiz.  I have accomplished what I have been trying to do to make a simple link between two words on a page in my website.

After hundreds of hours over two years time reading watching videos and calling Tech support.  Then putting it down for a while after getting too frustrated.  They make it look so easy when you see and read the instructions.

The thing of it is if you aren’t aware of all the terminology then it is meaningless.  Also most figure you are aware so many things you should know are skipped over.  Finally found a video today by a lady and the light bulb came on.  That combined with the many other things I read and looked at.  YAY! 

Whoever figured this HTML stuff out is way way way beyond my capabilities.  If you have ever seen a HTML page you will know what I mean.  CRAZY stuff!  At least now I know a tiny tiny little piece.  I’ll take a hammer and saw any day over this stuff. 

But I have finally figured out how to insert links on pages.  So that it makes it easier to navigate the long pages from one to the other and back to the top in my website.  Seems like it has taken forever.  Even after figuring it out yesterday.  When I tried to do the same thing today it didn’t work. 

Could have been because I was half or more in the bag when I finally got it late last night.  At least I slept good knowing I did it.  So I messed with it from early morning today to mid afternoon and figured it out again.  I was doing two little tiny things wrong! 

After I got it in my head I finished the one page I was working on in 30 min maybe less.  Now hopefully I can complete the rest of the pages in coming days.  Probably do another page tomorrow just to refresh my mind again!  YIKES it was a big learning curve! 

So if you want to see what took me all this time to do you can see my fancy work in Nicaragua.  Hopefully the other pages will be completed soon.  Doesn’t look like much for after two years of on and off trying. 

All I did was make it so you click on a town at the top of the page and it will take you right to the town instead of having to scroll down to get there.  Then I put in TOP at the end of the photo’s of each town to get you straight back to the selection of towns at the top again. 

I think it is the hardest simplest thing I have ever done!  HAHAHA!  PS the other pages are now completed!!  LIFE IS GOOD!!!   Below is a guide from what I have learned hope it Helps Someone!!!                                                               

PAGE JUMPS WORDPRESS

 (The LINK) using TEXT

<a href=”#1″>LEON</a>

       IDENTIFIER (A)     (B) LINK NAME

(A) (IDENTIFIER is a number or anything else) (Example #1) (B) (LINK NAME) Name or Number in text wanted to link) (example LEON)

 The Link can be made much easier using the Link button at the top of your Visual edit page it is the Chain symbol.  Simply highlight the word you want to make the link to then click the Chain button and type in the # sign then the IDENTIFIER (A)in the URL box.  Then hit ADD LINK. BAM your done and it doesn’t move or add spaces or anything extra which can be a problem in a header with lots of Text you want to LINK   

(TARGET OR ANCHOR TEXT)

 <a NAME=”1″></a> 

(ID) (A)

(A) IDENTIFIER a number or anything else) (Example 1) same as IDENTIFIER at top of page but without the hashtag in front of 1) The Number or whatever you use for the Identifier must be the same in both links.  Using a number is easier if you have a lot of links for the Identifier.  You just use the next number up to give them a different Identity every time.  That way you don’t need to spend so much time typing

Well had a great time at my sisters house was real good to see her, Tigger our cat and all my old friends from my neighborhood and hers.  Quite a few good parties were had by all!!!!!  The month went by super fast!  Time seems to move by in the blink of an eye now. 

Just got back to Cadiz on the 7th.  Great to be back!  It was a super long trip 30 hours Yikes!  Half the time was sitting waiting in the airports in Miami and Madrid!  The rest a shuttle to Miami the two flights and a train ride to here.  I was exhausted by the time I got here.  It has taken 3 days to start to feel normal again!  Never had jet lag before this time I did for sure! 

A little damp here today but suppose to clear up soon.  That is what March is here it’s their spring.  I don’t mind as long as it is not cold.  It is so good to be back!  Went out and stocked up with food and drink yesterday morning.  So I am in and ready to to live life in Cadiz.  I am exhausted from the trip and ready to lay back for a while. 

Today I will start my walking again I think just woke up but the sun’s out!  Still pretty wiped from trip!  Well by the time I washed up and was ready to go for my walk a big cloud came over and it is now raining like a Cow Pissing on a Flat Rock!!!!!!  HAHAHA OH Well so much for the walk for now! 

Sun comes out again went out for a quick walk to a park I like.  Saw big black clouds coming so headed back to the room just got in and it started to pour rain and hail stones! Just made it YAY!  Needed that walk it felt good to get out in the fresh air!  Even if it was short lived. 

Well today I woke up to a beautiful sunny day got my ass up and ready and out to take advantage of it.  Did my usual old walk all over through the parks and plazas that are my favorite.  Still sunny and I feel great really needed a nice long walk and a sunny day!!  It brought me back to life again!

This afternoon after they finished cleaning up the rooms for the next round of guests.  Victor and Carmen the managers of the place I stay and her sister came up and spent some time hanging out talking and laughing.  It made my day!  LIFE IS GOOD!

For more photos of Cadiz go to CADIZ 2017 and CADIZ thoughts now and next year

Well as much as I really really liked Guadalajara I just couldn’t take the fumes from all the traffic and the cold nights anymore.  The temp drops 20-25 degrees at night because of the altitude and the place I was staying didn’t have heat.  I was always cold in the room except during the afternoon and the building never did warm up.  Every morning I would have to go to the closest plaza and sit in the sun to warm up just like a lizard. It was getting old and that and the fumes finally got to me.

So I am in Progreso now a little town on the Gulf of Mexico a hour and a half East of Merida.  There isn’t much exciting going on and there is not much of an old town to see.  It is basically a beach town and not much else. I knew it when I came but I decided to just get a nice place overlooking the beach chill out and enjoy the warm temps.  Till I am ready to head back to Merida for a couple days to catch my flight back to the States from there. 

It does have a pretty nice beach here and a long esplanade along it so I can get as much walking in as I want.  There are plenty of restaurants with Palaps setup for shade on the beach for those who want to dine and drink with their feet in the sand.  It does have a couple little parks in the center but hardly anyone in them.  Everyone is at the beach.  That is what everyone comes for so the little parks just kind of feel abandoned and really they are not anything special to begin with. 

I do have a nice room and big balcony to hang out on to stare off over the sea so I am good with that for the next week.  Just going to suck up the sun and the view of the sea and call it good.  I can think of a lot worse things to have do with my time till I leave! 

Did meet a friend here doesn’t talk much but is fun to hang out with.  He wanted me to come out on the boat and join his friends.  But I figured it would be a little awkward standing on the side of the boat like they do!!!! HAHAHA! 

 LIFE IS GOOD

Well I have decided to go to Guadalajara.  All the places here in Merida are booked through New Years and after.  There are a couple but they want $50+ a night not going to pay that in Mexico. 

So off to Guadalajara.  I think it will be better a little cooler but better just couldn’t find the right place here the one I’m in is booked into January.  Checked the places I had picked to stay on the coast in Progreso and now they are booked too just waited too long to book. 

So off I go again!  If I stayed here I would have had to bounce from one place to another every couple of days just figured it wasn’t worth the hassle.  Plus couldn’t find one close to the center where I want to be without paying big money and even then there were only one or two.  Not only that but Merida is really packed with people this year hard to walk down the sidewalks so many people.  I like Guadalajara better anyways so just figured the warmer temps weren’t worth it. 

Got into Guadalajara today checked into the place I stayed last year.  Talked to the guy and got a good deal and he has a room through the middle of February if I want it.  Want to look at a couple other places tomorrow and will then decide which one I will stay.  I like this place so it will have to be nice to get me to change places. It is just nice to have choices of where to stay! 

Guadalajara is really really nice and the temps are warm during the day and cool at night.  I like it much better than the high temps of Merida!  Today walked all thru the parks, plazas and wide pedestrian zones.  Seems like I never left.  Ended up in my favorite spot it is so so peaceful.  Something just seems to totally relax you the minute you walk in.  Last year I spent many hours at different times during the day everyday here just to get that vibe.  It has just got this really great feeling about it.  LOVE IT!!

LIFE IS GOOD Dave 

If you would like to see photos from last year of Merida click the LINKS below.

 

Well I’m back in the USA for Alden’s first Thanksgiving.  It is the first time I have been able to see him.  Things just did not work out before this so I am really glad they did this time! 

When Alden first arrived last December in Hawaii. It was my son Jason’s and my daughter in law Chris’ first baby so things were pretty hectic going thru the learning process of having a newborn.  When March came around I was going to go see them before it was time for me to leave to go to Europe. 

At that point Jason decided to take a new job and they were in the process of selling their house on Hawaii and getting ready to move to New Hampshire to live on a small Island off the coast of Maine.  He was going to direct and teach marine biology to students at UNH for the summer months.  I then made plans to see them at the end of the summer after they left the Island for the mainland for the rest of the year.   

Well as much as it looked like this super great romantic adventure.  It turned out to be just way too isolated and rocky to even push a stroller around on.  So it turned into a nightmare instead of a dream. YIKES!!!!  Bummer Dude.  Never know until you try kind of thing!  So as it turned out he resigned and they flew back to Hawaii a week before I was flying back to see them. 

I decided to stay in Europe and blew off my fights back.  The reason I was coming back was to see Alden and he was now on his way back to Hawaii with the family to regroup and move on from there.  After the rest of the summer regrouping Jason decided to take a job offer in Washington, DC so in November they moved there. 

It worked out great because my sister was back from a earlier trip up North and was able to go to DC and help them unpack and get up and running in their new house there.  I was coming back from my trip and we were all including Chris’ mom and dad going to be able to get together for Thanksgiving at the new home. 

It is going to be great to have them so close to Florida and a short flight away.  YAY!  It was a great time had by all!!!!  Nothing like Thanksgiving with the whole family!

Not that I am biased or anything but Alden of course has the most incredible smile I have ever seen.  He just beams from ear to ear.  What a very very HAPPY Boy!!!!  It was a Great Great Great visit and long overdue!!!!!!!!!

  TOP MY FAMILY  

A CELEBRATION for the Newborn Baby Girl GEORGIA!  At the Grandparent’s Nektaria and George’s house.  They are Julie’s brother Lefteri’s wife Eleni’s parents.  It is the same place where the making of the Raki is done.  Great place to have a celebration!  Unfortunately the three of them couldn’t come because Georgia is just a week old. 

There was as always enough food and drink for a small army.  The grill was in constant use all day cooking incredible grilled meats till dark.  The wine and Raki flowed like water and I don’t think anyone left without wobbling a little or a lot. 

There were about 30 people that came and we Celebrated and Celebrated and Celebrated IYIYIYI!!!!  It was another great and amazing day on the mountain!

Here’s to GEORGIA!  She has a great family and a extremely beautiful place to grow up in!!!  It has been a very great honor to me to have been able to see and be a part of this.  I will never ever forget it! 

WHAT A GREAT WAY TO CELEBRATE A NEW LIFE!  Life gets no better than this!!!!!!!!!!  LIFE IS GOOD

GRAND PARENTS NEKTARIA AND GEORGE
ELENI BIRTHDAY GEORGIA HAS ARRIVED!

Went to Kostas and Julie’s new cabin today.  It is not finished yet but it is close to being done.  Just needs the finishing touches!  LOVE IT!!! 

Julie picked us up in the afternoon.  Along with Nikos the 86 year old man in the room down the hall from me.  He is like their grandfather he has been here so long.  Kostas dad Manousos and me plus the 3 children.  We all headed off to the mountain for the day in this tiny little car packed like sardines.  There was not one inch of space left.  HAHAHA 

It is a cabin they are building on the mountain so Kostas her husband can stay there all day and tend to the sheep and that they can use as a little getaway.  He and his brother Nikos have to milk 200 sheep 3 times a day on two different mountains.  The cabin is on one of them.  It is so he does not have to travel back and forth to their home in town to eat and rest.  It saves them a lot of time and money for gas etc. 

Plus this time of year he, his brother Nikos and his mom Despoina need to be there all day to harvest the Olives on top of milking the sheep.  It gives him and them a place to sit and eat and relax or lay down a few moments.  It takes about 45 min to drive there on winding roads. 

The house is a combination cabin and sheep shelter.  The upper floor is for them to live in and where they make the cheeses and yogurt.  Underneath the upper floor is for the sheep and where Kosta’s feeds them and milks them.  Julie spent all afternoon cooking for us and then again when Kostas his mom and brother came in from collecting olives at the end of the day.  She is a great cook and the food was delicious as always! 

Then Kostas and his brother had to go back out and milk the sheep.  Kostas’ dad the children and me did a little side trip down the dirt road and gathered oranges, lemons and limes to bring back while they were doing that.  They didn’t get done until well after dark.  What really really hard workers they are.  IYYIYI! 

Pretty cool place and what a fantastic view over the mountains and valleys.  It was a great time!  Loved every minute of it!   Just one more day here I will never forget!!!  This is one place life makes the world go around not money.  I am honored to be a part of it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  LIFE IS GOOD!!!

It is time to harvest the grapes and make Raki here in Chania.  The grapes have been harvested now and made into wine.  The mash from making the wine has now been fermenting for a few weeks to make the Raki. 

Julie took me to taste the first batch coming from the still.  We went to her sister in laws families house high in the mountains.  There of course was a big party to celebrate the event. 

Unfortunately her husband Kostas was unable to come because he was busy harvesting the olives on their farm all day and then had to milk the sheep after all that.  They have 200 sheep.  IYIYI what a lot of work!  They are both very hard workers.  Good thing they are young.  They are also just as hard partiers.  The Greeks love to celebrate everything any chance they get.  They are such happy crazy fun loving people.  I Love them all. 

She also asked Bernhard a really nice Austrian man who is also staying at her place to come too.  He is jolly, happy and full of life!  We have become friends since we met here.  It has been nice to have someone to talk too and share some Raki with.  It was a really great great time of course and there was a ton of food and drink all afternoon. 

I got very very drunk because I forgot that when the Raki comes straight from the tap it is much much much stronger.  I passed out in my chair and fell over twice.  BAD BAD BAD!!!!!  Julie and Bern had to help me get into the car and up the stairs to my room.  She stayed a little bit to make sure I was going to be alright then went home.  I of course remember none of that part! 

They all thought is was very funny when they came to check on me today.  I am paying dearly for it now.  HAHAHA!!!  After all these years I have never learned how to pace myself.  Chances are looking slim to none that I ever will.  CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY!!!!

Well my first day back in Chania has made me feel like I never left.  Nikos the 80+ year old man and close friend down the hall from me made a big lunch for me as a welcome back.  Julie the lady that owns the place I am staying, Eleni her sister in law with her about to be born new daughter and two other guests that were staying in the room next to me came. 

It was a SUPER GREAT time and made me feel OH SO WELCOME and glad to be back with such GREAT friends.  It meant the world to me both literally and emotionally.  My only regret is not being able to speak the language that I would so love to be able to do.  It didn’t hurt a thing though Julie speaks great English and the others spoke a little we all laughed and carried on for the afternoon. 

Julie brought me three huge containers one of Greek yogurt, one of honey and the other of a Greek cheese Mizithra. That tastes something close to feta and yogurt combined and has a texture in between the two.  All that she and her husband Kostas make from their sheep in their village near here. 

She also brought what she considered a meal for me tonight.  It of course was a monster plate that will take me three days to eat.  It is just the way it is here and I LOVE it.  I couldn’t have asked for anything else as GREAT as what they did for me.  It has totally made my day and made me smile ear to ear!!!!!  LIFE IS GOOD REAL GOOD!!!

PANORAMA FROM MY BALCONY

I’m in Cadiz, Spain the oldest town in western Europe.  The same spot and apartment I was in in the spring.  I love it here!  I’m here at Victor and Carmen’s place.  The young couple that run the place for a guy from Madrid.  It is great to be back! 

I even looked at a couple of places to buy and rent long term this past week.  I don’t know about buying but the vacation rents here are high except for this place.  Even they are high in the main season and early fall.  I have slowed down a lot this year so that is why I was thinking about it.  Less moving and more long term stays.  It is a super town!

The old town where I am is pretty big takes up the whole peninsula.  There are really no bad areas and plenty of places to walk and enjoy life.  It’s another great place!

Victor and Carmen wanted to buy a place and we’re just getting to the position of being able to afford it.  But a couple of really big Germain real estate conglomerates came in this summer and bought every cheap place in town.  Prices went from 40k -70k to them being over a100k and most closer to 200k now.  There are still a couple cheap ones but they need tons of work. 

It really sucks for them and me.  Hate seeing things like that happen.  The English and Germans did the same thing in Portugal and ruined it for the people living there too.  Likewise in Central America with the Americans and Canadians.  So Bummer Dude!  I was thinking about buying here but now the cost I think is more than I want to spend.  I really really like it here so I may bite the bullet and do it. 

On the other hand it will take away my freedom again!  I am not so into losing that now that I really have it for the first time in my life.  No worries, no big problems is great for me so lots to think about.  Victor said the taxes are crazy high!  It costs them over a $1-2 thousand to get a driver’s license and the income taxes etc I guess are outrageous.  So we will see.

Long term rents are fairly cheap like many for under $500- 700 a month and quite a few to choose from.  I could apply for a 2 year visa but it is a pain in the ass and all has to be done in Miami.  So multiple trips back and forth to there.  It would mean hanging in Florida for a couple months and I don’t think I’m into that anymore.  I am just figuring life is too short now to be hanging around in a place I would rather not be. 

I really don’t need to get a long term visa if I don’t buy a place here and expect to stay all year.  I can do what I am doing with 90 days in and 90 days out of the Schengen zone by going to the Balkans.  That way I can work around the whole visa thing and not need to worry about getting the two year one.  The only time I would need that is if I wanted to stay longer than 90 days in a row in the Schengen zone or the whole year. 

Next year I will come to Cadiz first then I want to go to Serbia to see a couple friends I met in Chania.  Then check out a  couple of places in northern Romania that I didn’t get to go to.  Because they were booked up in August when I wanted to go this year.  If I leave Cadiz in June it is the perfect time to go.  Because it is cool there then and there should be plenty of places to stay. 

Also never got to the Ukraine.  There are a couple places there I want to see.  So the pre plan plan goes something like this.  First Cadiz then to the Belgrade area of Serbia to see my friends.  Then to the north of Romania after leaving there to find a place to stay for August ahead of time.  Then to the Ukraine from there. 

Then back to Varna Bulgaria until August it is one of my three most favorite places in Europe so far.  Then hopefully to a place I find to stay in the spring in Northern Romania for August.  That is if I find one seeing as I don’t really know if I will like the area or not yet.  Then maybe to Varna or Chania and probably back to Cadiz in the fall. 

Really all the places I was in this year the weather was perfect.  Except for August getting too hot everywhere.  The heat really gets to me now and takes away from me being able to walk around as much as I do.  I just decided to wait it out in Bucharest this year.  The temps are perfect here now so back to life as normal with lots of walking around and enjoying the days!  LIFE IS GOOD!!!

VICTOR CARMEN ANABEL PILU  AND ME OUT FOR TAPAS

For more photos of Cadiz go to: Cadiz 2017

Well I am in Rota Spain for a couple of days.  The place I am staying in Cadiz was booked solid for these two days back when I booked for the month.  With friends of Victor’s and Carmen’s for a wedding party. 

So I decided it would be nice to come here for something different to do.  I took a ferry from Cadiz to here it takes about 45 minutes and was a nice slow and leisurely trip along the coast to here.  It has a nice harbor here where the ferry comes in and is lined with a huge amount of sailboats and fishing boats.  Pretty nice first impression. 

The town itself and the houses are all really well kept.  I think other then the really old places most of the houses are from the the 70’s but with nice design and very well done.  Very clean everywhere. 

It is more of a tourist town for people from Europe and beyond who want to relax and play in the sea.  Many English speaking folks so if that is a plus for you then you are good here.  It has a really long beautiful beach and promenade all along it.  It kind of reminds me more of Portugal than Spain with all the white stucco houses.  There are some semi high rise buildings along the beach but older ones and not very high.  All seem to be done in good taste instead of just thrown up for resale. 

I have a very tiny room that is very nice and is well kept.  It has a big cathedral style window with a big marble shelf that I can stand up and lean onto too look out at the small plaza below.  It was cheap so I didn’t worry about having a balcony although I would have liked one they were twice as much.  The plaza has a few benches and is lined with trees on both sides and is mostly used by people who live around it.  Real nice! 

So I was leaning on my window looking out and there was a cat running around going crazy and playing in the plaza below me.  Jumping and climbing up and down the trees.  I gave him the cat call don’t know how to write it but what you do to call a cat kind of like a kiss but louder. 

He came running over on the plaza below me and has been trying and trying to get up to my window to see me.  Why I don’t know unless he figures I have something to feed him.  He was climbing up what I thought was a power line on the side of the wall.  But turned out to be just a seam in the wall where two walls meet on the side of the building. 

I didn’t see anyway for it to be able to too but he or she managed somehow to get to the window 10’ below me.  He was like I am going to do this.  Now he is just sitting on the window sill meowing and looking up.  HAHAHA it was funny!!! 

So I woke up this morning and looked out the window and there was the cat staring at me from a large strip of fancy decorated molding with about a 1′ wide flat surface on top.  It goes around the building about 20’ up the wall and comes from the front around to within 15′ of another strip that starts 3’ under my window.  He was on the strip that comes around from the front.  Have no idea how he got up there but there he was. 

He couldn’t reach me because of the 15′ gap between the two strips.  He just sat there and looked at me then started rolling over and playing like he was on the ground I thought he was going to roll off.  He stayed for the longest time it was still dark so couldn’t get a photo.  When it got light enough and I got my camera out he was gone.  What a crazy cat. 

So tonight I decided if he came by I would go down and pet him.  He did come by but when I called to him he just looked at me and kept walking.  I guess he figured he tried twice and couldn’t get to me so decided it had better things to do and was over it and kept walking!  Story of my life!!  HAHAHA!!!  As you can see it doesn’t take too much to amuse me!! 

So anyways it is a pretty nice town and if you are coming for the beach it is a nice one.  Nice and wide.  It is nowhere I would care to stay for any length of time because there aren’t many real old places although most are pleasing to the eye and not just thrown together.  It also lacks benches and real nice plaza’s to sit in.  There are some but they are stark with few plants and benches and more for open aired restaurants. 

It kind of makes you feel like they didn’t put benches because if they did you wouldn’t sit in the restaurants.  It is the same in all the pedestrian zones few benches to sit and people watch except the one next to the beach it has a bunch.  It would be worth staying maybe a week at the most for me but real nice nevertheless.  Mainly because I know there are better places!!!

VICTOR AND CARMEN AT THE WEDDING IN CADIZ

 TOP SPAIN 

Well 5am yesterday standing in line at the airport in Sofia, Bulgaria.  Standing in  a really long line I think the biggest one I have ever been in.  I thought I was going to miss my flight and almost did.

Just when we were getting pretty close to the end.  These three Bulgarian or Russian heavy duty looking thugs walked up aways in front of us deciding they were just going to cut off the huge line.  This guy next me to walks out of line and goes up to them and starts giving them shit big time for cutting into line. 

Now looking at this guy you would think he was a clean cut dude in what looked like Carhartt light brown pants and black dress shirt.  You could tell he was probably built fairly well underneath it all. 

So anyways he is going back and forth with these guys one had already crossed under the line and cut people off.  He looked like the meanest of the bunch and really big.  The other two never went under just bantered back and forth with the guy in line giving the kid shit and this hellashish stare down.  It was getting pretty intense! 

The kid never blinked an eye or backed off.  I’m thinking and everyone else in line is thinking these guys are going to kill this kid.  Some of the older ladies in line are trying to get him to stop.  Just saying stuff like just leave them alone you will get hurt it’s not worth it kind of thing.  I THINK!  Because I didn’t understand what they were saying! 

Didn’t even phase this guy at all he just kept at them.  I’m going OH OH this is not going to be pretty.  I mean this guy was like perfectly calm these guys didn’t scare him in the least little bit.  He made me feel cold inside and he wasn’t talking to me. 

Anyways the two on the outside came over but kept their distance and continued with the threats to him.  I don’t know what the last things he said to them were but his last gesture was to blow them each a kiss.  Whatever it was they decided to leave pointing at him making threats but leaving. 

So the only one left is the big guy still in line but not going anywhere.  The line with me and the kid getting closer and he is still harassing this guy.  I’m going OH shit I am going to miss my flight!!!  Fortunately when we got about 4 or 5 people from him and us.  This big guy and I mean he looked mean as sin ducked under the rope and left.  With this guy blowing him a kiss too. 

I was like holy shit that was close.  I don’t know who he was but he never raised his voice too loud but just enough so he could be heard.  He never flinched a muscle or blinked an eye.  He was super composed the whole time.  I’m going what the hell who is this guy.  I didn’t know who he was but knew I wanted him on my side.

When we got a little further down the line.  I figured I needed to say something to him so just said nice job dude!  He said Thank you but that there were only three and smiled.  I’m going really IYYIYI! 

Then we were at the end of the line.  He looked at me and said you go ahead of me my flight is later.  Because we had been talking about it earlier.  I said no that’s OK but he insisted so I said Thanks and went on my way. 

I don’t know who he was but he had to be some kind of heavy duty military dude I figured.  I guess so did the three thugs!  Shit never saw anything like it before.  When I was leaving I looked and the three of them were at the end of the line waiting like everyone else.  I just shook my head and smiled!!  All at 5am what a way to start the day!!!  CRAZY!!!!!

SOME PEOPLE YOU JUST DO NOT WANT TO MESS WITH!!!

Got into Varna yesterday!  YAY!!!!  Passed out for a couple hours when I came in started at 5am got here at 3pm.  First train to Constanta came in an hour late so I had already traded tickets for another later train just incase it never showed.  It did show about 5 minutes before the new train I booked and was on left. 

Trains are not good at schedule over here.  That’s why I tried to catch the early one.  It worked out alright though the bus I needed to catch from Constanta was just getting ready to shut the door and leave when I got to the bus station. 

Was sitting on my balcony last night listening to this really young kid play piano on the esplanade.  He is really really really good. The kind of music you could close your eyes and drift off into space too.  Very intricate piano playing he was here last time and was one of the few I would give money to. 

The music tonight has been like rehab for me this kid plays with so much emotion you can feel it inside from a distance many many many people give.  He is out here somewhere all day you see him all over playing. His fingers must cramp up bad at night can’t imagine playing as much as he does. 

What a difference a day makes!!!  Good to be back needed some uplifting myself been a little in the dumps lately from having to stay inside in the heat in Bucharest!  Got my old room back here don’t think there is a nicer one in town.  So made it easy to just settle in right away knowing the town and the surroundings! 

Went for my walk this morning along the Sea Garden.  The big divided esplanade with the multicolored flowers arranged in different designs.  I have my favorite section of colors and design that I sit at a bench across from and watch the world go by.  Walked up along the cliffs overlooking the sea further down the esplanade.  It is a great really long walk for me.  Little places to sit and stare off over the Black Sea. Watch the ships coming in and going. 

The weather is great and the scorching heat is behind me now.  Perfect almost like I never left!  Very glad to be back!  Looking forward to my stay!!! 

The one thing I will say though.  Is that I never thought I would be sitting on my balcony watching all the people going to the bars on the beach on Friday night to party at 11-12 at night and not following.  Guess it is just part of growing old and I am probably better off NOT!  I never was good at leaving till they close and over here they don’t close!!!!!  Hell over here there are still five year olds running around on the esplanade after midnight!  HAHAHA! 

Went to the beach this morning it was a beautiful day.  Walked a long ways in the surf to the harbor on the other side of it.  Stopped there and watched the old guys fishing from the pier for a while.  Then walked back.  The water was great stopped at a beach bar at the end of the walk.  Sat with my feet in the sand under the shade of an umbrella in a big old cushy chair and had a couple of beers staring off at the sea! 

I am sitting on the balcony tonight watching this crazy dance that just started.  They have a Big Bulgarian folk dance going on on the esplanade.  Started with just a couple of people playing Bulgarian folk music singing and dancing.  Now everyone is holding hands and dancing this way than that round and round in a circle.  Just people from the street old and young joining in.  Nothing Professional except maybe the band.  The circle just keeps getting bigger and bigger as more and more join in. 

Sounds like Gypsy music to me.  Just tried to count how many people now.  I figure more than a hundred in several circles inside each other pretty cool fun loving people!!  The whole esplanade is full of people watching and joining in. HAHAHA Really COOL! 

It is really weird it started out of nowhere and ended just like that.  In maybe an hour hour and a half and everyone went their different ways.  I was just starting to think about going down and joining in and they up and left.  If I didn’t know better I would think I was seeing things. 

I was just sitting out there and it is all quiet and back to normal now now that they are gone.  Thinking what the hell that was  REALLY CRAZY!!!!  HAHA.  Today they came back and I got photos.  LIFE IS GOOD!  Dave 

For more photos of Varna see links below photos

VARNA OPERA HOUSE

So finally I have a plan after a month and hours and hours trying to find new places to go.  I just threw in the towel trying to find a place.  Mainly because of a lack of accommodations and prices everywhere.  It is prime time here now and everyone is on vacation. 

I will stay here in Bucharest and although very hot it is cheap right now and nice.  I will be here till the 31st then fly to Madrid on the 31st and fly back home from there on the 5th. 

That was a couple of weeks ago now and turned out to be too easy something had to go wrong! HAHA!!!  Jason quit his job and is no longer going to be in NH on the 5th.  That was the reason I was coming back so early to see the two of them and Alden!!!  Now they don’t know what they are doing yet just that they won’t be in NH.  They are going back to Hawaii to figure it out.  They just don’t know at this point. 

So I blew off the flights back home on the 5th!!!!! I am now thinking about going to Varna in September, Cadiz in October and Chania in November.  The trouble with that is trying to put all the flights, buses and trains together to do it.  I have one pad almost full and just started to transfer stuff over to the other one.  It is a real nightmare and I have had about enough for today. 

The thing of it is you spend a hour or two working on one way and come to a dead end after spending all that time. All because the last piece to the puzzle doesn’t fit!!!!!  YIKES I’m not having FUN!!!  I have literally sat here for days trying to figure it out.  I have tried a million  different ways of doing it and am still sitting here going which way do I go George which way do I go!

When you try to do something like this there are just so many things to consider.  There aren’t that many flights to these small places but I have tried every airport close to where I want to go.

Then every bus and train to get to my final destination and then how to get back to the next spot from there.  Trying to fit them all together makes me see double.  Plus the info on the web is sometimes or most of the times outdated and you have to spend hours just trying to find out where to get the info.  OH MY GOD!!!!!!  IYYIYIYIY!!!!! 

So the final pre plan plan goes something like this August 31st Bucharest to Varna.  Sept 20th Varna to Sofia spend the night couldn’t help it.  Then Sept 21st Sofia to Madrid, Madrid to Jerez (Cadiz).  Oct 25th Jerez to England, England to Chania.  Nov 18th Chania to Athens, Athens to Barcelona, Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale.  Plus some trains and buses!  Yikes!!  

I had to take the days that you see because they were the cheapest.  I looked a week on either side of them so I know they are the least money.  Makes a huge difference.  It would have cost me twice what it is to just pick certain days out of the blue and not look for the cheap ones. 

Every airline has their cheap and then expensive days that is what makes it so time consuming to figure out.  Not only that but you have to make sure you can get good connecting flights.  So you don’t end up having to spend the night waiting to fly out again in the morning.  That would make the cost jump way up! Room, Taxis or buses back and forth just to spend the night.  It really is crazy trying to put them all together! 

Other then wanting to see family and friends and having to do stuff like taxes and Doctor visits etc.  I have no desire to be in the states anymore.  The only other time I would want to leave here is to spend somewhere warm for a couple of months in the winter! 

Now that I know how to work out the 90 day visa thing by leaving the Schengen zone and going to a Non Schengen country for 90.  I can stay as long as I want just have to move around a little. 

This year I have found what I have been looking for for so long! Now I don’t have to spend anywhere near the amount of time bouncing around.  I have found 3 really really great places to stay for months at a time!!!  YAY!!!!  It’s a good thing because I have lost a lot of my get up and go this year.  The new place every 3 or 4 days is a thing of the past! 

I thought when I came here to this area it would just be a way to get out of the Schengen Zone.  Then go running back but what I have found is so amazing.  Here I get 90 days in each country and I love them. 

If you think all the mish mash of writing above is confusing to read.  You are absolutely right but is just where my mind is at the moment!!!!!!

So bottom line is.  I will be leaving Bucharest at the end of August and then going to Varna Bulgaria again till the end of September.  It is the place I have liked the most.  After that it will be getting cold here and time to leave. 

The good part is then I get to go to Cadiz for October which I loved.  Where I met the young couple that rented me the place I was staying and I enjoyed being with so much.  Then Chania on Crete at the end of October to the middle of November to see the family there that I rented from last year.  They took me in and made me feel like I had known them all my life.  After that it will be time to go home for Thanksgiving. 

Hopefully everyone is settled by then so I can get to see Alden!  The photo is of Garbis the man I met to let me into the room the first time when I came here a few months ago.  He, his sister, her grandson and the lady’s father I rent from invited me over because they wanted me to enjoy a traditional Romanian meal.  It was really really great and I was honored to be there!!  A real nice memory to remember! 

It’s hard to believe when I leave next week I will have been here a month.  Time goes by really really fast now a days!!!  Even with all the confusion!!!  I am totally Happy for the first time in my life and have never looked back since the day I left!!!!!  I wish the same for all of you!!!!  LIFE IS GOOD  Dave

First day back in Bucharest.  I just got back and into my room.  Got up at 5AM to catch the bus in Sofia.  Long long 8 hour trip in a bus.  Met a girl on it though her name was Loretta.  We hit it off right away so the time passed fairly fast. 

When we went to a different bus station here then we thought we were going.  She called her dad and had him pick her up.  She then offered me a ride to the closest Metro. 

When I met her dad right away he tried to give me money for the Metro.  But Loretta had already given me a ticket she had with rides left on it for me to use.  I offered to pay her but she said no way it is a gift for you.  Told me what to do and how many stops it would be to get to where I was going perfect.  Pretty amazing in my book! 

Garbis the old guy I met last time I was here met me here again.  I had mentioned to the women that rents the place last time I was here that the pillows sucked.  When Garbis came to meet me he brought two brand new pillows.  Pretty cool she remembered and did that for me.  Amazing!  

Then after getting moved in Garbis wanted to buy me a drink so we went to the old town and had a drink and came back.  When we got back I was going to make us a cup of coffee but the kettle didn’t work so he decided he was going to go get a new one. 

I told him it could wait another day but no he was off to get it.  He came back about 10:00 PM at night on a bus dropped it off and grabbed the last bus back to wherever he lives outside the city.  Pretty cool stuff!  I am exhausted!!!! 

You know there is no channel on the tube you can turn too.  That can get you what I see here and from my balcony every day and night!!!  It is so amazing!   I have not turned on the TV since the day I left! 

The little old lady in the nightgown with her dogs that I saw the last time I was here still comes every night.  I think she has four of them and brings two at a time.  Two at around 9PM and again around 11PM with the other two.  She lets them run in the fenced in area for them across the street from me.  It is a small park just for dogs! 

She is all hunched over and waits outside the fence and sometimes walks along it watching them waiting for them to do their thing.  It always made me smile when I saw her and still does.  Here in the dead center of the city and her in her nightgown walking her dogs.  Simple but perfect! 

Gotta Love it!!!  Good start to the day and what a nice way to be greeted on arriving back in Bucharest!  For more photos of Bucharest go to links below.  LIFE IS GOOD

Sofia the capital of Bulgaria.  It’s a big city in the middle of the country.  A very quiet city for its size and is kept very clean. The architecture is made up of mostly Soviet era buildings.  Monster massive multiple block long multi story tall government buildings. 

Impressive to see because of the size but very stark in design.  Minimalist or Soviet, Roman I guess you would call it.  These are all mixed in with modern commercial buildings.  There are very few of the really old architecturally impressive buildings left. 

The old town is really mainly the new town.  The old buildings and churches that are left are beautiful just not many of them.  There are a lot of nice large parks to walk through and many sculptures and fountains to see along the way. 

In the center there is very large area that has been excavated down to the ruins of what they believe to be the Roman Emperor Constantine’s palace in the old city of Serdica 300 AD.  Many of the excavations are protected from the environment with glass domes that you can look down thru from the esplanades above.  Or you can take stairs down to them and walk thru.  It is a very large area. 

The rest of what I saw was pretty much run down and crumbling old soviet era tenant buildings and other buildings from different times in history.  There is a long pedestrian zone starting just after you cross the bridge with the lions heading into the old town lined with produce stands.  There is also another long pedestrian zone further down in the old city with many restaurants and shops. 

The photo below of people getting mineral water from constantly running fountains is unique to Sofia.  It has 42 mineral springs with 8 different hydrothermal zones with temperatures of 86 to 194 degrees Fahrenheit. 

There were people filling water containers of all sizes and loading them into cars, onto bicycles and just whatever they could carry away.  Sofia’s mineral springs are deep under the ground, they are clean and can not be polluted.  There are also numerous spring fed water fountains throughout the city to drink from but that is common in most places in Bulgaria. 

The women with the gold face Saint Sofia is on top of the pedestal you can see 50′ in the air.  Basicly Sofia is for business or a stopping off spot for travelers going on to somewhere else like myself.  It is the travel hub of Bulgaria.  If you have the time like I did it is worth seeing! 

I will say that I have a beautiful room with a great balcony in a quiet area about 5 minutes from the train and bus station.  So it made it easy to stay for the week that I did. 

Well after spending the last month trying to figure out where to go for the last few weeks of my trip here.  It has become an effort of futility! 

I looked at Timisoara, Cluj Napoca and Brasov in the Transylvanian mountains part of Romania.  Plovdiv and some of the mountain areas in Bulgaria.  Belgrade Serbia, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Tirana and Durres in Albania.  Plus places in Croatia and Montenegro.  Even thought about going back to Istanbul for a moment it is so close to here. 

I spent hours and hours and hours looking!  Figuring out places to stay, planes, buses, trains and every other which way to get to them.  It all worked out to no avail! 

They all are now or were either booked up or now have temps in the 100F range.  Some both booked and hot!  Damn Europeans and Americans all have holidays now and the Europeans get a month the nerve of some people!  Makes it hard for good guys like me to just drift along!  HAHA! 

I am in Sofia now so the decision came down to staying here or Bucharest.  So yesterday I made up my mind to go to Bucharest the 1st of August and stay till the 18th when my 90 days outside the Schengen Zone are up. 

I choose Bucharest because after a week here I decided it was enough and that I liked Bucharest better!  There is more to it and the flights from there are much better! 

I was able to get in touch with the women I rented from when I first went to Bucharest and she gave me a good deal on the room I had.  So I am good to go!  YEY!!!!  A plan finally came together! 

After that I will have a lot more options because I can go anywhere in Europe then to complete my trip which ends September 5th in Madrid.  YEY!!!!!  It is all figured out for a short bit and gives me time to regroup!!!  Here’s to Bulgaria a totally awesome country!!!  LIFE IS GOOD!!!

In Nessebar, Bulgaria now.  It is an ancient city and called by some the Pearl of the Black Sea.  It is has something like 40 churches dating from the 5th – 17th century in different states of repair in this small area. 

Today I spent about 3 1/2 hours walking around the perimeter of the old town where I will be staying tomorrow.  It’s real nice here even the new town where I am now is not that new it is early 1920’s – 30’s.  It is all in nice condition stucco and red tiled roofs typical of the Mediterraneum even though it is the Black Sea real nice.  Super clean! 

The old town is something I have never seen before.  All these old wooden houses that are stained black or blackish brown some with ground floors of brick and mortar.  Are very typical of very early Bulgarian architecture.  Pretty interesting to look at. 

Real touristy during the day a lot of tour buses come into town so it is a very busy place.  I think after 5 pm they probably leave I’ll know when I move over tomorrow. 

Nice restaurants all along the waterfront and above on top of cliff looking out over the sea.  Ton of ways to walk around.  Inside the town it is a little hard on the feet because they have stone type cobbles stones that are very uneven.  After walking around for a few hours everyday on them you wake up in the night with cramps in your toes and the balls of your feet but that is just part of it.  Pretty COOL not the cramps but the stones!!  HAHA!

Well been here for a week now the best part of which has been sitting on my balcony staring off over the sea.  It is a really big balcony with table and chairs and the room itself is nice.  The hotel is on the top of the cliffs in a semi quiet part of the old town.  I get to watch the city lights of the Sunny Beach resort across the way at night and the many fireworks that go off from one or the other of the many hotels there.  LOVE IT!!! 

It is really nice lots of narrow streets and pedestrian zones to walk about.  The one minor disappointment is it doesn’t have many spots with benches to just sit and people watch.  Most of the space that is not occupied by a building is occupied by restaurants with outdoor seating leaving very little room to even put one.  All along the upper cliff walk it is the same way.  There are a ton of restaurants don’t know how they all survive. 

I thought when I came to look the first time it would be touristy but didn’t realise just how much.  There is a constant flow of buses all day long from all the coastal resorts near by.  It makes it a lot less appealing to me!  If it weren’t for the fact my hotel is in a quieter part of town and I love my room and view so much I would have probably left by now. 

The trouble is this time of year anywhere you go in Europe that is nice is going to be overrun by tourists it is just the way it is.  I think  everyone in Europe has month long holiday times now.  Anyways that being the bad everything else about it has been great so it is a minor trade off!!! 

It’s funny there are a half dozen young kids that live down below from me.  Their mom and dad own the restaurant across the street and a small gift shop and I think a few other things here.  Their dad must be or someone must be on the balcony that I can’t see shining a laser light onto them and around the street. 

The kids are chasing it just like a cat would swatting it off themselves and trying to step on it in the street.  Real different way of life here.  They aren’t inside glued to the TV at 11pm  they are outside enjoying the night chasing a laser beam.  Interesting concept wouldn’t you say!  Makes me smile inside and out!!! 

The people in the photos run the place where I am staying and the names are in the right order!  SUPER NICE PEOPLE!!!  I am in Love with Bulgaria what a great country!!!

JULY TONY IVAN

Well Burgas is a really nice town and if I hadn’t just come from Varna I would have been more impressed.  It is a about the same size as Varna but with more foreign tourists than Bulgarians making it not have quite the same vibe as Varna. 

One nice thing was the buildings outside and inside the main tourist area seemed to be in much better shape than in Varna.  I was only there 3 days and really one of those was mostly travel.  So really didn’t get to spend enough time walking around and checking things out.  I would need to be there longer before making a real good description. 

Part of the reason why I didn’t stay longer was I waited too long to make a decision to go there and everything was pretty much booked up.  It is prime time here now.  I don’t book places for more than 2 or 3 days now because of all the problems I’ve had this year with people giving false descriptions of the rooms they have. 

The other reason for wishing I could stay longer is I met the girl that rents the place I am staying at for lunch one day.  So one of the 3 days was spent with her.  She took me to a special pizza place in town a little out of the touristy part.  It was great pizza not that I cared I’d have been happy if it was bad. 

She invited me last night when she came by to meet me after spending quite a while talking.  She was so easy to talk to and very pleasant.  She is a single mom who has a son that was with his father for a week or so.  Very nice speaks perfect English and is beautiful it was definitely up lifting for me.  Super nice made my day! 

So that was the Burgas I saw and why I didn’t get many photos I did get the most important one though!   Needless to say you should be able to figure out what part of my stay I liked the most.  So Burgas did turn out to be special just in a different way!

ALEXANDRA

In all my travels I have never been anywhere with so many families all having such a great time in one place before.  There are literally several thousand at any given time walking along the esplanades and through the parks. 

The Park itself is more than 2 miles long.  The really wide esplanade that weaves thru town is probably a mile going from the park along the sea to the Cathedral In the center of town.  There is a steady flow all day long and late into the evening of strollers of every type and children playing and having fun. 

The kids depending on their size are riding 2 wheeled and 3 wheeled scooters, skateboards, rollerblades, little bicycles.  Plus all the various small 1 and 2 wheeled stand on forms of segways.  It is amazing how many different devices there are to have fun on now a days. 

The best part is that none of them have conventional motors like mopeds and motorcycles.  With loud mufflers driving like mad men thru the crowd making the people a slalom course.  Trying to come as close as they can without actually hitting you.  Like all the other places I’ve been in Europe that allow them on their pedestrian zones.  If it’s not electric here it is not allowed period!

It is very active and so tranquil all at the same time.  Lots of smiling and laughing going on with the occasional crying from a skinned knee or elbow from falling.  It feels like I am in a total different world where all the terror and violence has been left far far far behind.  It is a wonderful feeling hard to believe in this day and age.  What a pleasure it is!!! 

I have been here for a month now and have yet to see any form of disrespect or violence to anyone.  I am amazed that a country this poor is the place I find such a thing.  People of all ages from infants to the old just enjoying life. 

The supposed civilized world of big and powerful countries should come here and learn what life is really all about.  It truly shows that money and power is not what makes you happy.  It has been a great pleasure to have been able to experience such a beautiful thing. 

I feel really really gifted to have seen and experienced this place.  It is amazing when you are so relaxed you feel like that at any given time sitting on one of the thousands of benches throughout the city.  That you could just sit close your eyes fall asleep and drift off onto a magical mystery tour! 

It is one of the few places I can say in all my travels I can come back to and spend several months at a time without becoming bored!  It is just so uplifting from the time I get up till I go to bed.  Everything about it is done with this super mellow atmosphere from the music you hear at night to the families walking by at midnight. 

No loud partying no loud music after 11 except at the beach.  No drunken tourists screaming.  Different kinds of health food, drinks and herbal remedies set up in tents along the esplanade.  It’s like it is the perfect setting for peacefulness.  Instead of 99 of a 100 people walking by staring at their cell phones it is 10 in a 100! 

Don’t get me wrong there is still the restaurants along the beach that I’m sure party until the wee hours of the morning.  But you don’t hear them from the esplanade in town! 

There is also the less than desirable neighborhoods outside the touristy areas mainly from the communist era of concrete apartment buildings.  But for the most part there are just not enough adjectives to describe this place! It is really really hard to believe it exists. 

As you can see in the photo’s one of the little zoos in the park was giving away balloons to everyone. 

Just looked back at the last post on Varna and realized I repeated a lot of things about this place.  The thing of it is is it deserves repeating.  I’m getting old so I am allowed!!  I will be back!!!  

For more photos of Varna see links below photos

From the moment I arrived this place has just given off this super good vibe!!!  I had no idea at all didn’t have any clue what to expect!!!! 

So just got back from dinner.  I splurged tonight and had a big bowl of cream of asparagus soup, big burger and homemade chips.  Then went and had 2 big scoops of really really good ice cream for a grand total of $6.70 not bad HUH!  Ya and that was with tip.  I think it is cheaper here than Mexico. 

One problem is if they don’t have an English version of the menu you are shit out of luck trying to figure it out.  The writing is similar to the Greek or Russian alphabet or maybe is so I am totally lost trying to figure it out.  Most young people speak English and a few older do too especially if they are tourist related so that helps a lot. 

It was interesting they weighed the ice cream and charged by the weight.  So you get a good count every time you don’t have to depend on who is dishing up the scoop.  Had chocolate and pistachio it came to $2.10 was going to get another it was so good.  But it started to rain so headed back to the room thought it was going to pour. 

I like this spot thinking I may walk on the wild side and spend the $41 a night with breakfast.  I can get a nice place for $25-30 but not with the location this place has got.  The place I ate was just on the street below my room and the ice cream place 50′ from it.  Pretty convenient HUH.  Think I’ll be here for a while all things look good for a longer stay! 

It’s hard to get used to the money difference.  Like the meal was 6.99 Lev and you think ah that’s not bad for soup, sandwich and the chips.   Then you realize it is really $4 pretty crazy.  Same with the ice cream you think oh $3.70 for 2 scoops not bad but it is $2.10 and it was super creamy ice cream. 

Been on the balcony all evening watching people go by gives me something to do beside just sitting on the computer all night.  There are tons of people of all kinds walking by constantly.  I have a big balcony, big table, couple comfortable chairs and an umbrella if I need it for the sun.  Can sit out here and watch the world go by.  Literally! 

All the places I’ve been have had TV but I haven’t turned any on since I left Florida.  No desire I have all the entertainment I need!  This esplanade is huge probably 75-100′ wide and goes on for a long ways haven’t even begun to see it all.  I especially like it because the esplanade doesn’t have any vehicles not even motorcycles or scooters. 

I can tell you sitting on this balcony is great so many people coming by.  Young and old just walking along having a good old time.  Kids playing, dogs playing everyone having fun makes it fun for me too!  GREAT!!!  I can probably see 100 people at any given time here.  It’s such a big area it doesn’t look crowded at all. 

It’s so nice to see all these different people so mellow and happy just walking along laughing and having fun.  People pushing strollers, kids playing kick ball doesn’t get much better to me.  Who would have ever thought about these countries!  Hell I barely knew they existed and they are so nice! 

I really really think once I get a really good day of exploring in I will love it even more.  It looks like it has so much potential and I haven’t even seen a small part of it yet! 

Well decided last night if the breakfast was good I would bite the bullet and pay up for a week.  Breakfast was great so I paid for a week and had them block out another.  Told them I’d let them know in a couple of days for sure on the other one. 

Walked for 4 miles thru the park by the sea today.  It’s a little more than 2 each way.  Paths along the cliffs above the sea with exercise gadgets.  I get to watch the giant ships coming and going from the Bosphorus Strait to places along this coast and down past Istanbul.  Tons of Benches and WC’s.  Paths winding everywhere through it.  Paths in the middle divided by patterned decorations of flowers, fountains, streams with wooden bridges, statues. 

All kinds of stuff for kids to do little amusement parks, little Zoo, tennis courts what looks like an olympic size swimming pool may be smaller but it is big.  Plus another pool for high diving.  Restaurants all along the water.  I would never in the world have thought I would find this kind of thing here.  It’s like finding a hidden gem that no one knows about! 

Just went to dinner had a huge piece of Musaka a big cup of creme brulee to go and 2 big scoops of chocolate and pistachio ice cream on the way home.  All for $5.25 not bad HUH except for the waistline. 

Yes I feel very at home here it is a really really good feeling after all the looking!  Pretty cool!!!  I don’t think it is on to many peoples in the states travel list so so much the better! It sure is on mine now!!!  Maybe I have finally found the tail of the wagging dog or the dog of the wagging tail however that goes!!! 

It’s kind of strange because I really haven’t seen that really old architecture thing going on.  I’m sure there is the old I just haven’t searched enough to see it yet.  It’s like this time I don’t even care about one of my biggest desires in a place.  This place just feels good even without it.  I mean there is old just not as picturesque so far.  There maybe places that are but I just don’t seem to care this time.  The feel here is just so laid back and the people are just so mellow. 

Well after spending a good amount of time last night thinking about it.  Went down this morning and booked the place for another 3 weeks.  Did a long walk around the town today there is not much of any great architectural thing going on mostly looks like communist era buildings.  Not much design to them.  Not many stand out kind of places.

So it’s not like a Guadalajara or Bucharest.  The thing here is the parks along the sea and the long wide pedestrian walks.  Plus there are many beaches some small in little coves some big.  I like it here because it is cheap and really laid back.  A place to regroup a little from the trip.  Not one of the most picturesque places I have been but one of the mellowest. 

Mostly a Bulgarian vacation spot like Guadalajara was to Mexicans.  The place is clean the people are great and the vibe is super mellow that is what this place is about. 

I guess the bottom line here for me is I am a cheap SOB.  I don’t have to worry about going out to eat and thinking about how much it is and can I afford it.  If I want an ice cream or to stop for a beer I can just DO IT!  Without going OH that’s to much buy one at a convenience store and bring it back to the room. 

I can sit on my balcony or a park bench and watch tons of very happy people walking by.  It will be great to be able to live here with that kind of vibe all the time.  I can also walk for miles through beautiful parks.  I need to just sit some place and relax for a while and this is the best place for that so far.  In the next 3 weeks I want my biggest problem to be where to find this Bulgarian Rakia that is made with grapes and other fruit!!!  LIFE IS GOOD!  Dave  

For more photos of Varna see links below photos

Well wish I could say Constanta was a big hit too but it isn’t.  I have a really super nice room and balcony and the breakfast here is great.  Along with the owners.  So really wish it was! 

The breakfast reminds me of the ones I used to get in Greece.  The town on the other hand leaves a whole lot to be desired.  What little old town is left is pretty devastated and in really poor shape.  There is a lot of work going on to improve things but it has a long long way to go before it ever amounts to much.  I don’t think I will ever see it in my lifetime. 

The beach is nice but you have to walk a long ways down a stepped walkway to get to it.  Plus the town in general isn’t kept to clean and there is a lot of trash around.  I think it’s a case of lack of money. 

There is another section called Mamaia a little North of here that is supposed to be nice but is all modern semi high-rises along another long stretch of beach.  So I guess the bottom line is if you are coming for the beach and the beach alone then you’re in business.  If not I would look elsewhere!  Sorry Constanta just my opinion!  Next stop Varna, Bulgaria in the morning.

YAY!  Alden the first half year of the rest of your life!  He decided it would be a good idea to celebrate by taking his Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa on an Alaskan Cruise. 

He said it would be great to see Alaska and thought it would be a good way to start getting acclimated for the cooler weather ahead of them in New Hampshire.  Because when they move from Hawaii to there it is going to be a big change. 

Said he didn’t think he would mind living on an island off the coast of Maine for the summer and the mainland in the winter.  He will be helping his dad coordinate a program to teach students about marine biology and the ability to have a hands on experience with the diverse marine life of the area.  Plus just being able to play in the sea every day will be well worth it! 

He said there is a great ice cream shop on the next island over so he’ll be all set there.  Said he is excited to be going on a new adventure in life and anticipating many more in his bright and long future ahead. 

Before Alden turns 7 months old, he will have been to Hawaii, California, Washington state, Canada, Alaska, South Carolina, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine!!  Think he has the travel bug all ready!!  Here’s to Alden may he for ever have that really really really great smile on his face!!!

Well the architecture is big and bold here lots of massive buildings but other little ones spread throughout.  All the huge ornately decorated sheet metal domes and roofs.  Something I haven’t seen much of anywhere else.  They all stem from many different cultures.  It’s has touches from Romania, Turkey, Greece and Russia.  Pretty impressive! 

So it’s like 10:30 and I was just sitting on my balcony and this little old lady was across the road walking her dogs.  She was dressed in her pink silk pajamas of shirt and pants with her two dogs in tow.  There is this little fenced in park across the street for dogs to do their thing and be able to run around.  There is a little gate for her to open and let them run free. 

Watched her leave after and she apparently lives on the other side of the main highway.  A six lane road through town at the end of this road which isn’t far.  I watched her go across the highway till she was out of sight but figure she lives in the apartment building across the way. 

It just seemed so out of place.  Not something I was expecting to see in the heart of a big city!  I mean there is a good size bus stop here too with quite a few people.  Made me look twice guess if you live here it is no different than anywhere else.  HAHA it made me laugh inside!!  She’s like what the hell do I care! 

It’s time for the homeless etc to come out so that was quite a change up on that!  It is a very safe neighborhood the Old Palace is just down the street a couple buildings from here.  Doesn’t take much to entertain me anymore!!!  Gotta Love It!! 

The last 3 days have been rain so haven’t done much.  Met this scientist a old guy that met me to let me into the new place I am staying.  We talked for a long while that day and I really liked meeting him.  He had a lot of good things to say.  He is a friend of the owner and she was out of town so he came by to do it for her. 

His name is Garbiz and he came by the other day again to bring some supplies and spent about 3 hours more talking with me.  He is a super nice old guy really jovial and happy.  Very well dressed with shirt, tie, sweater, wool coat, wool hat and umbrella should have got a picture.  Looked liked the perfect gentleman straight out of London.  It was quite a contrast from me in my jeans and tee shirt etc. 

It was fun talking to him he knows so much about so many things.  His specialty is plants and animals that coexist together and survive off one another.  One hand feeding the other.  Plus how their shapes evolved to be able to blend into their surroundings.  Like so many moths and butterflies that only survive because of specific plants and visa versa and can hide just by sitting still and blending in. 

He is pretty sharp and knows I don’t know how many languages English, Russian, Greek, Latin, Chinese and a lot of others. Pretty cool!  Told him we will have to get together again after the rains which should be over tomorrow. 

Bucharest has been a very pleasant surprise from what I was expecting!  Every time I go for a walk I go in a different direction and there are parks all along the way.  Still can’t believe how many huge treed parks there are here.  They are everywhere. 

Another really nice thing is people actually stop for you in the crosswalks.  Interesting concept HUH!!  Unlike the totally out of control mess in Italy.  Very glad I came and may have to add it to my lists of places to return.  Although it will always just be a stop over.  I’m just not into big cities.  It does get very hot here in the summer. 

Right now I am looking for a place that I could come for the 3 summer months out of the Schengen Zone and not have it be sweltering.  So we will see have many more stops to make.  Know I probably won’t be able to be by the sea then it will be just too crowded, hot and expensive.  I need something inland thinking something a fair bit smaller than this.  To many emissions here even with all the green it makes my throat burn this is a big city. 

The hardest part here has been getting used to the money difference.  The dollar here is worth 25 cents so I am always thinking the price is high but in fact it is so much cheaper.  It is half or less of what it would cost in Italy or even Spain.  I still have to stop and think about it.  I see 12 Rom for something and I’m thinking 12 Euro but it is 3. 

Just like for the longest time I was looking at these real nice pastries and thinking I wish they weren’t 3 Euro I’d buy one right away but 3 is just too high.  Then I realized you dummy they are 75 cents.  The pasties in Italy were 2-3 Euro so it just stuck in my mind.  The only problem now is walking by and not buying one!!! 

It’s pretty nice they have many little places that put out trays of different foods and you pick what you want.  They put it in a container to microwave later and for $3.50- $5.00 you have a nice meal for dinner!!!  I don’t like to go out to eat because I always feel alone when I do.  Sitting there at a table all by yourself never has appealed to me for that reason.  It’s like sticking it in your face that you are alone. 

The meals tend to be a little better eating out but what I have been getting take out has been great.  It is all home cooked. 

Looking forward to checking out the Black Sea area.  Will start in Constanta here and then head South into Bulgaria it is even cheaper there and looks like the places on the coast may be nicer from the photos.  Not expecting much from Constanta after looking at the photos but it is the starting point and may be I will be surprised.

VLAD DRACULA 1456-1462 THE COUNT

VLAD THE IMPALER

 TOP ROMANIA 

I am now in the very heart of Bucharest.  Super good vibe!!!!  I came here on the 19th spent all day traveling to get here from Italy.  Train Polignano Mare to Bari.  Bus to airport.  Plane to Bucharest.  Bus to center.  It took most of day. 

The next day I spent all day trying to find another place to rent because the place I was staying did not have more nights.  The next day I moved to where I am now. 

Yesterday I spent 4 hours trying to put money in the ladies account at the bank so I can stay another 12 days.  Plus the 3 days I rented through Airbnb.  I made a good deal with her to stay longer without Airbnb.  But it took 4 hours trying to get the money in her account because she wanted it in Euro. 

She sent me to a branch office near here to put the money in.  I went there and they sent me to the other side of town to the main office because they don’t have any cash at this branch.  So I went there. They told me I couldn’t get Euro without an account. 

So I then tried many different ATMs nearby to get Euro but none give Euros unless you have an account.  So I had to use an ATM get Rom then take the Rom and change to Euro.  Then take the Euro and put in her account.  So it would clear before my 3 days I booked with her were up.  Anyways it was crazy. 

It is my fault because I wait to the last minute to decide what I want to do.  So today is the first day I really get to see Bucharest other than running around trying to get things done.  I walked around for 4 hours looking at the sights and it is a beautiful city.  So many huge parks with lakes, fountains, trees and flowers everywhere. 

They are just now starting to put the summer annual flowers in but there are many spring ones blooming.  There is also a wide canal type river the Dambovita that runs through the center of town.  There are plenty of huge old buildings mixed with new ones with interesting designs.  It’s not all Wine and Roses there are also many communist era buildings that are not so nice. 

The main boulevard going through the center has wide esplanades on both sides of the street next to the sidewalks going along the buildings.  They are lined with trees for shade on both sides of each esplanade not just one side. 

So it is like a tunnel where the limbs from one side meet the other.  There are also many benches to sit at along the way.  The center dividing the traffic is one long strip of fountains with the water spraying and dancing up and down all the time and they are lined with roses and other flowers. 

It is pretty amazing nothing like I expected in a poor country.  There is just so much green.  Full grown old trees line every street most of the time on both sides. 

It is kind of like finding Guadalajara by mistake only a lot bigger.  A hidden gem.  Plus all these parks are suppose to be perfectly safe to walk through at night.  There is just enough security people to make it feel safe and not overwhelming. 

There are Porta Potties or WC’s all over so that covers me.  It has more to offer so far in just the short walk I did then most big cities I have been.  The people are very friendly and are really really nice to you.  Plus most speak English.  Other than the room problems it has been a very enjoyable time here. 

I now have until the 5th of June and am thinking maybe I will stay a couple more weeks longer.  I want to walk and look for a couple more days before I decide.  The food is great it is really diverse and so many different things to offer.  Best of all they have real Greek yogurt here and that really thick Turkish one I like.  I was hoping they would have and they do! 

The women are beautiful and there are many universities in the center here.  So lots to look at!!!  I am really glad to say goodbye to Italy they can have it all to themselves.  Which is the feeling I got in most of the places I went not all but most. 

To be fair I was only in 8 places and there are so many many more that may be much better.  Plus the people I did meet that were nice were real nice.  So may have been bad choices of the places I went on my part. 

At any rate I’m not interested in wasting any more time looking for now!  I am really liking this place so far.  The weather is the perfect temp for walking and living!  Another good thing is it is about the same cost of living as it is in Mexico. 

The first photo is the Parliament Palace it is the 2nd largest administrative building in the world next to the Pentagon!

This saying fits me and is so right on!  It was sent by a very close friend.  Like the Quote he sent I have never for more than a moment given any thought of going back to what I had.  I am still much happier doing this then I ever was doing what I was doing in the states. 

After quite a few years doing this.  I now have found a couple of really really great places to say I would stay in for months at a time.  I am hoping to find 1 or 2 more before I am done this year.  Then I will be able to settle in those places for much longer lengths of time and have a real life.  Without all the constant moving.  Knowing that I have done my homework and have found the best there is to offer up. 

I still will do side trips just to make sure but for the most part I will have satisfied myself that the ones I have chosen are the best there is for me.  Although there will always be that alternative of going back and getting something back home.  There is no way that is ever going to happen unless they are carting my ass off the playing field in a stretcher!!!  HAHAHA!!!!  LIFE IS GOOD!

Well Polignano A Mare has been a really nice little place to see.  It’s not a very big town but it has some dramatic views from its cliffs overlooking the sea and its buildings overhanging the edges of them. 

It’s big claim to fame is it is where Domenico Modugno the songwriter that wrote nel blu dipinto di blu or as it is better know Volare was born. 

The old town is tiny but is for the most part one big pedestrian zone.  One side of the old town ends on the cliffs.  Above a cove and small beach that has a beautiful shrub and tree lined cobbled walkway coming down to it from the cliffs.  On the other side of the old town there is a long esplanade along the sea that’s goes along the edge of the cliffs for probably a mile or more.  Pretty nice view from the top! It is well taken care of and is pretty clean. 

About the only negative thing I encountered was that for some crazy reason they have asphalted most of the roads coming into it except for the pedestrian zone.  I think they tried to asphalt over the cobblestones because the asphalt is all patched up and falling apart.  To bad it was pretty ugly and sad to see.  I guess they tried to modernize things at one point.  Some politicians bright idea no doubt and it has backfired on them. 

But it is minor in the scheme of things as everything else is well kept and there is a lot of rehab of the old going on everywhere.  Maybe someday they will put the roads back to cobble who knows.  All and all it isn’t a place I would spend a long time but it has been a very pleasant stop along the way and I am glad I did.  I couldn’t choose which one of the photos of the old lady I liked the best.  They both together tell a very short story!!

Well been planning where to go from here.  I leave on the 15th 4 days from now.  I have really enjoyed this town it has been a very peaceful, relaxing stay and I am now reinvigorated for the next part of my journey. 

Antonio the guy that owns the place where I’m staying is great.  He has brought me many home cooked meals that he and his mom have made for his family.  Super nice of him!! 

I have also been here long enough now to get to know many people that I meet along the way in my daily walks.  At least by a buongiorno or arrivederci, a smile and a nod and a couple speak a little English. 

I love watching the catch come in and everyone meeting the boat to get first dibs on the best of the catch.  The guy at the produce stand I go to didn’t want to change a 20 the other day so just gave me the couple of apples I had picked and said catch him later with the money.  It has made the time spent here very worthwhile. 

Just woke up been sleeping a lot today it has been a lazy rainy day first in a very long time.  Feel a little more alive now.  Seemed like every time I woke up I was still tired.  Anyways decided to go to Bucharest, Romania after Polignano Mare close to here and then Bari to get the plane. 

Antonio the guy that owns the place here had mentioned it when I first came and showed me an airline from Bari which is real close from here and super cheap.  Wizz Airlines!  I don’t know if you get the Cheeze with it or not.  I guess maybe I just gave it to you!!!  HAHA! 

I had thought about Bucharest but figured it sounded like a cold place so put it out of my mind till the day before yesterday.  I was talking with Antonio again and he said it was very warm there and now was the time of year to go.

Anyways I forgot about it and just woke up thinking I should look.  Mainly because I didn’t like having to wait for the ferries till 11pm or 12am to leave from here to cross over to Albania.  It would mean either getting a room for the day and not staying all night or hanging around all afternoon and night with my luggage.  Plus I would have to share a cabin and I didn’t like that and it was a 120 bucks. 

Just looked and I can get a really decent daytime flight to Bucharest and be there early afternoon for like $60.  Checked out the rooms and they are good prices and the photos look great.  The flight, photos and the fact that it has a pretty big old city center made the choice for me.  So that’s what I’m going to do at least today anyways. 

Just couldn’t wrap my head around Albania.  The photos just didn’t look so good to much older modern not enough real old.  But I still might pass through it when I go back to that side along the coast.  Bucharest looks interesting and I like the mystique of the name! 

The last photo is of the very special meal I had with Antonio and his family just before I left!  One of his sons is named Aldo so Alden meet Aldo!  I will always remember it!  CHOW!!!  Monopoli a Great time was had by all!!!  LIFE IS GOOD!

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I’m in Monopoli now.  It has been terrible booking rooms here in Italy with booking.com.  Finally in a B&B to stay that is exactly how it was described. You can’t know how good that feels right now!!! 

I just can’t believe how much trouble I am having with even booking a room here in Italy.  People say they have a balcony and private bathroom in the room in the room description.  When I make the booking it is always the first thing I ask them in special requests.  It is the first time you have the chance to ask them a question. That is do you have a balcony and private bathroom in the room.  Please if you do not.  Do not book me the room. 

Then they email you OH that room doesn’t have a balcony or that room doesn’t have a private bathroom in the room that room has been booked.  They clearly state on their booking site in the description of the room that it does and when booking.com sends you a confirmation it does.  But when you hear back from the people they do not. 

Then if it is a non refundable reservation I either have to take what they have or call booking.com and hassle with them for half an hour or more to get my money refunded.  If anywhere it says under the description of the room some rooms have this or that.  You can rest assured your room is not going to have it unless you are very lucky. 

It has been a real big pain in the ass here.  Last night I couldn’t sleep I was so mad about it.  I don’t know what to do it has been a very frustrating time for me here.  Lecce was the first town I have really really liked but I stayed in two places that did not have what they said they had.  I just got tired of fighting about it.  I guess I am not doing something right. 

I think a lot of it has to do with booking.com having a lot of B&B’s now and the people not knowing how to set it up right on their site.  Because when you ask they tell you.  Also you see the people from most of these places 10 minutes and they are gone.  They meet you at the room or some at the train or bus station to take you to the room.  Show you how the keys work tell you a couple of things about the city.  Then you don’t see them till the next morning.  Sometimes you don’t see them again.  They tell you just leave the keys here or there and go. 

Very weird to me and impersonal not what I think of in a B&B.  I am saying these things so that you are very very very careful with booking a room here in Italy.  It has left a constant bad taste in my mouth since I arrived!  Make sure in special requests when you reserve the room on booking.com.  You ask if what you want is there and if not for them not to book the room.  Otherwise you do not have a leg to stand on with booking.com.  I am very very careful and do this all the time and I’m still getting taken for a ride!!!  HOPE this helps someone!!!

So I am in Monopoli a small town with a great vibe.  After Lecce and this my feelings about Italy have been boosted dramatically.  Finally a great room just how it was described and with two nice big balconies.  One in the living room and a really big one off the bedroom. 

The biggest plus of all is the bed it is super comfortable not the hard as a board mattresses I have had in most of the places here.  Perfect!  It is a little pricey a night but I don’t care if the old town is nice.  I will be here for a lot longer time than the 3 nights I booked. 

I just got in and Antonio picked me up at the train station and is super nice best of all he speaks good English.  I’m excited so now all I have do is see the town.  I don’t really feel like it now but maybe!  Now I really want to get out and look.

I had a really terrible nights sleep last night.  I was so pissed off at booking and the people renting these B&B’s not being honest about what they are listing.  I tossed and turned and got up several times just couldn’t get it off my mind.  Woke up half dead this morning going I have to get the F out of Italy.  So this is like a big relief and now I am tired but excited. 

Just got back from walking couldn’t sleep thinking about it.  It is a real real nice town.  Little but super nice old city.  There is a  harbor full of commercial fishing boats and old men fishing along the wall. 

So I’m sure the eating here is going to be good.  Not that the food hasn’t been real good other places but getting a little tired of the pasta and pizza.  Although it has been amazing.  Now I know the seafood is going to be super. 

From the harbor you walk along an old fortress wall with esplanades in between.  Then come to a couple little beaches and the further you get out of the old city there are small cliffs down to the sea.  Pretty nice! 

I will think about it tonight but am pretty sure I am up for a long stay maybe a couple of weeks or more!  I’ll see if I can work out a deal tomorrow with Antonio he seemed open to it when we talked.  He said go look at the town and we will talk more so I’m into it. 

I have found a few places in my travels this year and years gone by that if they had been on the sea would have been perfect like Lecce here and Granada in Spain.  But seeing as how they weren’t there isn’t much I can do about it. 

I am definitely a sea person and this little place has it.  It is the only thing that keeps things constantly changing for me and has this super special vibe all its own.  You can come close with other things but the sea has the mother of all vibes going on! 

Monopoli may not be the best place I have ever been but it is really really nice and I really need to come down from all the searching.  It has worn my ass out and there isn’t much left!  I have to pull hard on my belt to keep my pants up now.  I just sooo need a rest from it.  The old gray mare ain’t what she used to be any more kind of thing! 

Talked with Antonello I can stay to the 15th and he gave me a much better deal. YAY!!!!  He has the room booked after that or I would have stayed even longer.  At least now I can stop and relax and get my thoughts together on where to go next.  I was getting very tired changing places every few days.  Guess I am getting old and do not like to move every 3 days anymore. 

I was very happy to find this place it is a really great room with big balcony and nice people.  The old town is small but very nice.  So I am good for a while.  Now it is time to relax and enjoy it!!!  PLOP PLOP FIZZ FIZZ OH WHAT A RELIEF IT IS!!!!  You have to be old to remember that saying!  HAHA

Well finally a city to write home about.  They say it is the Florence of the South.  The best thing about it was the immediate great vibe it had and what a beautifully preserved old city it is!!! 

It is not on the sea but a little inland from it.  I guess 5 is my lucky number as this is the fifth place I have been here.  This place is what I have been expecting to see in Italy. 

The old town’s so well preserved I have not seen one building that looks like it is going to fall down anytime soon.  The buildings and plazas are impressive in size and content and are everywhere amongst the tiny narrow streets. 

You really know you are in an old Roman city it just has that feel everywhere.  The main buildings of interest are massive.  So big they look like they almost don’t belong in such small quarters. 

The old city is pretty much all a pedestrian zone with only delivery trucks and people that live here suppose be able to drive thru.  Most streets are so small there is no room to park even a small car so most people have scooters or bikes.  It makes it a great get away from the the honking horns of other cities.  I don’t think I have heard any in the days I have been here walking around in it. 

The people are more relaxed and much more willing to smile and acknowledge your presence.  Just that alone is a huge plus for me.  It has been a real pleasant stay for me.  I was able to walk for several days thru the winding streets getting lost amongst them and enjoying every minute. 

Although it is walled in for the most part it is easy to get yourself turned around because the streets wander thru it in so many different directions. 

One of the biggest buildings and attractions the basilica di santa croce which is said to have taken 100 years to complete was being revitalised and was scaffolded off with curtains.  The front of the building had a full size photo of what the place looked like covering the scaffold.  I had to get within 50’ of it to realise it was a photo.  It made me look twice before it dawned on me that that was what it was.  Pretty cool way of doing it.  Just wish I had been able to see it because the photo was incredible of it. 

You can look it up online if your interested.  Real nice!  It is said there are 22 churches in Lecce.  That’s an incredible number considering its size!  There were a couple of other large buildings also being preserved so it is an ongoing thing for them and it shows!  The 3 days I will have been here were just enough to have seen the lion’s share of it. 

If I hadn’t already booked a place somewhere else.  I probably would stay a little longer.  At least now I can say that what I expected to see is here I just didn’t make the right choices of places to go until now.  Hopefully my picks in the future will reveal more of the same. 

I know if I were to go to some of the famous big cities I’d find plenty to see there.  Those places are easy to figure.  I never have been one to take the easy route.  You would think I would have learned by now but I haven’t. 

I’m just not into putting up with the high prices and all the flag waving tour groups.  One of these years I’ll come in early March and do just that but until then.  I am looking for what I want to see in out of the way places like this.  I guess that is why it is so hit and miss.  Let’s hope I hit a few more before I have to leave for Croatia , Montenegro Etc because my 90 days will be up soon. 

One thing for sure it was like a big relief came over me the minute I arrived here.  I slept really good last night and was up an at them early this morning ready to get on with my adventure. 

I’ll tell you one thing I miss is my memory foam mattress at my sisters.  I don’t know what it is but all most all the places I have stayed at have been newly renovated along with the mattresses.  But they like them incredibly firm here and I wake up every morning feeling like an old horse. 

Well this place just shows to go ya that if you look long and hard enough you will find somewhat what you are looking for!  In this game close counts!!!  Thank you for being here Lecce!!!

Brindisi is a port town where ferries leave for Greece and Albania.  It is a mishmash of very old and new buildings all kind of melded together in the old town.  Some sections have more old others more new.  The old town is somewhat interesting and can pretty much be covered in a few hours walking it. 

The esplanade along the sea is what I am now considering to be Roman stark!  I stopped here for a couple of days as I was passing by it heading South to Lecce.  I wanted to see if it would be worth stopping again on my return trip or just to pass it by and head north to other places.  I will choose the later and pass it by. 

It’s not bad but like I said after two days walking I have pretty much seen enough to make a decision.  I think the main reason tourists come here is to catch the ferries of which there are many. 

Glad I saw it glad I’m leaving.  Not enough to keep me entertained!  Not many places have been lately!  Hope I find one soon I am really tired of bouncing around but life goes on.  Just have to keep trying never say never. Time will tell the tale!  Out of here in the morning!

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Taranto turned out to be one of the better stops so far in Italy not because of the town but because of the really nice couple I met Magda and Marco at the place I stayed! 

The day I arrived it was early afternoon and when I got there they were just sitting down for their Sunday meal.  They invited me to join them and it was the best meal I have had since coming to Italy. 

A pasta bolognese and a stuffed meatloaf roll with smoked mozzarella and like a prosciutto in the middle.  It was fantastic!  A little wine that her father made and a lot of conversation because they both spoke or understood English somewhat.

It was my first chance to sit and converse with anyone since I got here so it turned out to be a great afternoon.  They had recently opened the B&B after a lot of hard work renovating this very old building. 

They are both engineers and did a fantastic job of designing and renovating it.  It has a great view out over the harbor from the house and my balcony and is to the side and back of a very old cathedral.  The view straight to the harbor and the fishing boats.  Perfect setting! 

It will probably be the highlight of my trip to Italy as meeting Victor and Carmen was in Spain.  It is what I come to these places for to meet new and interesting people like these two couples are!!!! 

They are in the very old part of Taranto.  A little island in between the old newer part like 1970’s and older and the port side where ships come in to load and off load cargo etc.  It is a very small island and has the very narrow streets and ancient look that I like.

That being said there is a massive amount of work needed restoring these old buildings as many are about to fall down.  If not for the city shoring some up until they are bought and rehabbed they would be lost forever.  Magda and Marco are at the beginning of that renaissance to rebuild the old and preserve this place. 

It looks a little shabby now but the potential is huge once people start to see what can be done by what this couple and others are doing.  It has unbelievable potential there are amazing views around the whole island. 

The other side from here was the wealthier part of the island and so the homes were better built and have managed to be maintained a lot better.  The island is only a few blocks wide and maybe 4 or 5 times as long to begin with. 

I think if Italy itself were in better shape financially it would already have been done.  It is just too nice not to have it happen.  What a waste it would be!! 

I only stayed for 3 days because it has a ways to go and will take a few years before those great things come about.  It was to say at the least a most interesting place to see!  I saw a lot of beauty to be had in these old buildings. 

The last night there I met a friend of theirs Rossella she was just as sweet and nice as Magda and Marco.  I wish my new found friends the best of luck with their new adventure. 

They made my stay a very memorable one!!!!  Thank you Magda, Marco and Rossella you guys are great and just what the city needs more people like you!!!

MAGDA ROSSELLA MARCO

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Well I hate to have to say this because it is the last thing I would have expected to have to say.  Italy just doesn’t have anything so far for me to justify staying and paying the high prices for everything.  The places I have been have just been OK at the most. 

Plus I am running out of affordable options!  I have been so discouraged I’m am going to have to find a pretty nice place to change my attitude towards it!  I just don’t get a warm cozy feeling here. 

Other than a couple of really nice people I met that owned the places I have stayed it has been real lonely.  It is very hard to get a smile and unless you speak Italian they could care less about you.  They make it pretty obvious that all they want is your money and don’t expect them to be friendly for it in the least. 

Unless of course you are going to stay and spend more.  Most just slap your change on the counter and don’t even look at you!  Pretty much sucks been trying to figure it out but am getting tired of trying.  It’s not even close to what I had heard or expected when I came. 

I must have picked all the wrong places.  Right now I am just very confused about it.  Not at all what I expected.  Just having a hard time getting back on the right track it has been one thing after another since I’ve been here.  I’ve spent all my time figuring out what the next move is. 

People say go to the North but that is even more expensive.  I’ll figure it out but Damn what a pain in the ass it is right now. 

You know when I go somewhere I try to fit in with the people even if I can’t speak the language here.  I don’t know whether it’s the economy being so bad and everyone hurting or what.  I can only get a few to respond back at least with a smile.  I have never had so many people pretend I’m not there when I try to ask a question about anything.  I mean what the hell.  I’m wondering if I am in a different Italy then people have talked about. 

I am trying to look for the good but am having a hard time finding it.  I do manage to get a few smiles from the women and men because I do try hard to fit in.  But for the most part it’s like pissing in the wind.  They just don’t seem to want anything to do with you. 

I guess when people come here they come with a lot of cash to spend on vacation and there are plenty of people who will be nice as long as the cash is following.  But if approached in the way I come to see them they don’t want to be bothered.  It’s like who the hell are you wanting to talk to me!!  Very weird to me! 

I must be missing what I am supposed to be seeing!  I just don’t know if I have given it my best shot yet hate to leave with a sour feeling about it.  Keep hoping the next spot will be better.  I’m not going to waste a whole lot more time though!!!  I’ve got a couple more stops booked.  So I have to go to those places but after that we will see!! 

To end this on a positive note the train rides through the countryside, the mountain valleys and along the mountain streams have been great.  You get to see places that even if you had a car you wouldn’t see.  The miles and miles of spring flowers everywhere, grape vines, olive trees, fields of artichokes It was nice to see.  The trains are fast and on time and go just about everywhere.  It is actually easier to find a train then a bus to go places.

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Well Salerno is a nice little place not one I would come back to but ok for a short visit.  It has a beautiful setting on the sea surrounded by mountains in the distance.  It has a nice esplanade along the sea and a large section a full block wide of planted greenery and pathways between it and the main road and buildings.  

There are plenty of benches to sit at although most are cement so not to comfortable.  In the cold and windy weather I have been having since I arrived here.  There is also a WC about midway for us old folks. 

There is another wide pedestrian zone a couple of streets up into town from the sea that goes from the train station to the end of the old part of town.  It goes thru the commercial part of town and is packed with people shopping. 

I didn’t see one bench to sit at the whole way guess they want to keep you shopping not sitting.  I usually go up one or two narrow streets above it and try and find something different to look at and discover. 

Walked thru a lot of the old town the last two days so got a good feel of what it is about.   Didn’t do as much as I would have liked to because everything is steep and hilly after the first few blocks by the sea.  It takes the energy out of me fast.  The old town is small enough to see a lot in a couple of days. 

The old buildings are nice and I like the way there are a lot of small alleyways going every which way.  With arches that connect the the houses on one side with the ones on the other side.  It’s like going through a maze. 

The place I’m staying at is nice and on one of these alleys.  I’ve been tired lately 3 days at a place never lets you get settled before the next move.  Said I wasn’t going to do that this time but other than Cadiz!  I just haven’t found anything close to wanting to stop at for a while since. 

Hope the next spot Taranto is better it does look it but you never know till you get there.  I can usually tell by the time I walk to where I’m staying whether or not I will like it.  After all these years of doing it I am very finicky and I know exactly what I am looking for when I go to a place. 

You can tell a lot from the vibe and the surroundings.  It usually takes me 20-30 minutes walking thru the town to get to the places I stay at.  So it gives you an idea right away. Not always but most of the time.

I thought about going to Pompeii because it is close by.  But decided I didn’t want to make the trek to see more ruins.  They all look the same after you have seen as many as I have.  I know Pompeii is different but I have seen it many times on documentaries not the same as in person but sometimes better.  I guess I am just getting lazy! 

If it is close to my place then OK but to spend the day going and coming back from a place right now is not appealing to me.  I am trying to find a spot to spend some real time and relax!!  I am a little worn out from all the travel this year.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way.  LIFE IS GOOD!!!

Well looking back at the last two opinions I’ve given on the places I’ve stayed.  I feel like a downer so sorry about that!!  I would much rather have been able to say they were great. 

I’m just not into the big cities or the glitz.  Should have known better!!!  But thought I would give them a try.  In big cities everyone is in a hurry like any big city in the world.  Everyone pretty much keeps to themselves and either looks the other way or straight ahead never acknowledging anyone else is there. 

I stopped to ask this fairly young guy something about direction today and he never looked or acknowledged I was even there let alone talking to him.  Didn’t think he heard me at first asked again same response nothing.  ASSHOLE!  Not what I’m used to in smaller cities that’s for sure! 

Walked for 3 hours today took 5 photos 3 of them were of the same thing.  That about sums up what I found of interest to me here. 

Don’t get me wrong the buildings are really nice and very old but because of the mass amount of dirt they have accumulated thru the years.  They just look and are dirty and for some reason feel cold and very governmental with straight lines and totally uniform.  I don’t know how else to explain it. 

They are everywhere so there is no lack of the old.  It’s just after seeing them for a while they all kind of look the same.  I’m sure there are many things I missed because in 3 hours you can’t get that much area covered especially in an old city this size but it was enough for me. 

I did cover a fair amount of ground though because there was very little sitting and watching people go by.  I was on a mission to see the city.  Not just the tourist attractions of which there are many.  I will go and spend another few hours tomorrow but my expectations aren’t high. 

What monuments, cathedrals etc I did see today were just kind of ok but not spectacular in any way.  I guess really it is  just a different type of architecture then I am used to.  It is kind of minimalist or something like that.  I did really see the beauty in it but it was different.  It was hard or cold not warm at all. 

I just couldn’t get that same feeling from it as other places.  Where so much work has gone into decorative and beautiful features and clean not filthy with dirt.  I guess the dirty part was the prevailing factor.  I’m sure if I looked beyond the dirt it would be a very different point of view for me. 

The only problem is because of the mass scale of the buildings.  It would take a hundred years to pressure wash the place to bring it back to the beauty it once was.  Just my opinion and I’m sure some will love it. 

It is a World Heritage city and has the largest historic city center in Europe.  It is also one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in Europe.   Although a lot of places have that same claim to fame.  It also has one of the most important Ports in Europe plus many other cudos so who am I to be the  judge.  Just not my cup of tea! 

You have to remember I am looking for some place I might be interested in settling for a while.  I would like to find 3 or so places to spend a few months at a time instead of spending all my time looking and in trains, planes and buses.  I am not just looking for a place to spend a week or two having a good time!  Even if I was this is not the place to do it! 

Well for the first time in Europe I had money taken from me.  I do not know if it was when I got on the busy sardine packed crowded bus when I arrived or what but it is gone.  I have no way of proving or even knowing what day it disappeared. 

I have been using my credit card to buy stuff and had some cash in my pocket for small stuff.  So hadn’t opened up my wallet to get money till today 3 days  after getting here.  They left me 100 US and 20 Euro.  Weird that if it was a pickpocket they put my wallet back with some money left. 

I had my hand on my pocket on the bus because I was worried about just that, being pickpocketed.  But they are slick and it could of happened.  There were a lot of distractions on the bus from the rocking back and forth to the crowd pushing and shoving. 

I have other thoughts on who got it too but I won’t go there.  They did not take my credit cards so that’s a Good thing.  I would be in trouble if they had. 

Oh well such is life.  I guess I should feel lucky they left me anything.  HAHA! Another learning experience I think it is called the law of averages!  My own fault for keeping it all in one place I knew better!!  Learned that years ago just got lax about it.  Never ever do that!!! 

Now someone is sitting around counting my hard earned money and their easy take.  Just remember this in any big city or anywhere in the world you are not back on the farm any more!!!  MY BAD!!!  Out of here in the morning!  Not a good start to my Italian adventure!  Shit!!!  Dave

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Well my first few hours in Naples.  I am all ready to leave!!! 

I am on the corner of a Y on a very busy street and one that is smaller but just as busy.  So far it has been nothing but listening to cars honk their horns and drive like crazy people at 5 mph. 

Where the two roads fork off people are going nuts many starting to go up the little street to avoid the main street traffic.  Then changing their minds and weaving back into the main road cutting others off. 

People walking needing to get across on the crosswalks have to step in front of them and pretend they don’t see them.  Or just stare them down and use hand gestures if they don’t slow down.  Just to use a crosswalk that cars are suppose to stop for. 

All this to get across the road and then when they start across they drive around them and thru them if they can and they never do stop.  I have heard more horns in the last hour then I have heard all year put together. 

This is not what you would call relaxing and I will be leaving as soon as my 3 nights are up.  It is a sheer disregard for those around you everyone giving each other the finger as they drive by trying to fit 3 where 2 should be. 

Scooters all the time driving thru and back and forth among them with 3 people and dogs on them.  They all miss each other by inches all the time.  It makes me dizzy watching them. 

I’m really really surprised someone isn’t killed every 5 minutes.  It is the same walking seems like people would just walk over you if you don’t move.  It is like they don’t even see you even dragging a suitcase you have to take a hard line while on a walk and stick to it. 

They jam the people on the buses so that you can’t put a knife between them.  My suitcase was a nightmare to get on and then off the bus.  No one wants to move to let you on because it is so overcrowded it is just plain insanity. 

There was one moment of niceness when another old guy reached down and gave me a hand pulling it up and through the crowd onto the bus.  All the time yelling at them to back off.  Once on I was worried about pickpockets because that type of situation is when they get you.  Should have never gotten on!

I’m not into it at all especially after coming from such a laid back spot as Cadiz.  Really really glad I didn’t stop in Rome I’m sure it is exactly the same maybe worse because it is lot bigger.  To me it is just not worth seeing the antiquities of the past when the present is so screwed up. 

Did I already say this I am not into this at all!!  Plus I got a room with a private bathroom just out the door because the place had a really good rating.  Figured I would give it a shot.  I’m not liking that at all either.  Just to much of a pain in the ass everytime you want to piss or get a glass of water and I do that a lot. 

So that is what my first few hours have been like.  Other than the 4 hours I passed out after spending 15 hours on 2 planes and 4 buses getting here YUK!  I’m hoping it is better in the morning but it doesn’t look promising!!!! 

11PM traffic has slowed down quite a bit and is not as crazy.  Not as much honking either but just watched someone trying to cross the road at the crosswalk they still don’t stop and it is very hard for her to get across because now they can drive faster.  What the HELL!!!! 

Didn’t even leave the room today just didn’t look inviting!!!  I will give it my best shot in the morning but then again I may sit here and plan on where I am going next!!!  Gotta go with the flow or change it and move on!!!  Couldn’t get out of here fast enough!!!  LIFE IS GOOD!!!

Well after Cadiz Marbella was a big let down!!!  It was built up to be this very trendy high class spot on the Costa Del Sol.  Said to be the most expensive and beautiful place on the coast. 

I found the expensive part to be true!  But other then that it was just another faceless city that was ruined by the building of high rises!  Plus the destruction of all the old along the waterfront. 

What little of the old city that is left.  Is full of very nice little places on narrow little alleys.  All with balconies of flowers hanging over the tops and sides of the wrought iron railings.  It is a must to see if you are here  because it is about all that is worth seeing. 

The rest of it the parks, plazas and the esplanades along the sea all seem to be very stark and sterile and not very peaceful.  Although the plaza’s have some statuary and are nicely tiled with marble they left out the greenery to go with them. 

The parks are not well kept most of the fountains if there were any were not working and look like little thought went into building them.  Plus they were just plain dirty.  Just feel like they did it just to say they had one and then forgot about them. 

The esplanade is not bad and it is long but there are so many people on it it is uncomfortable to walk on.  People walk in groups six to eight wide not wanting to spread out to let people coming their way get through.  It was almost annoying walking along it. 

I felt no charm at all about the town other than the old section.  It was a totally commercial environment slaughtered with places for the tourist to spend their money.  Other than the old town and the tourist area along the water it was not well kept at all and it was run down looking. 

It had beautiful mountains surrounding the city inland.  But all you could see was an occasional glimpse of them through the very narrow openings in the high rises.  Trouble is there were very few openings at all.  The high rises were so close together and then most had buildings behind them. 

I did have a nice room in the old section with a nice balcony that was one of the few pluses of my stay!  Moving on there are too many other nice places to see to stay here!

 TOP SPAIN 

I went out with Victor and Carmen the young couple who manage this place this afternoon.  We went to a Tapas bar and had something to eat and drink sat in the sun and enjoyed each other’s company.  Then went to the new town and stopped in another sidewalk cafe along the beach. 

Had a couple of more drinks and enjoyed the rest of the late afternoon it is now 8pm.  So it was more than the afternoon.  It was great they are two really nice people!!!  It was a real pleasant change of pace from my normal ritual. 

They have their hands in all kinds of things from tour guiding to teaching young Swedish kids Spanish and Spanish living in the summer.  They also manage apartments and a few other things.  Nice to see that they are so very enterprising and very nice people.  Mellow laid back full of Life, Laughter and fun to be with.  Perfect afternoon! 

They are having multiple parades of churches carrying the golden and silver pasos with the statues of Christ and Mary etc with bands and huge processions of people following.  They all start out in the afternoon and end back at the church they started at in the wee hours of the next morning.  Pretty long event. 

There are 5 or so different ones everyday about an hour apart when they start and all go along the different routes hundreds of people involved.  Like the first one starts at 3pm and ends at 2am before it gets back to church.  Long Long procession!  Pretty cool! 

Thought we were going to sit at a table and watch them come by but there are two cruise ships in town.  So the place was slammed with no place to park or sit so we went to a couple of places out of the way to sit. 

The processions last all week with different ones everyday so tomorrow I will walk down and watch.  They are supposed to be incredible.  All gold and silver and life like statues.  I looked it up.  The following came from Wikipedia:   

Spain is known especially for its Holy Week traditions of Semana Santa. The celebration of Holy Week regarding popular piety relies almost exclusively on the processions of the brotherhoods or fraternities. These associations have their origins in the Middle Age, but a number of them were created during the Baroque Period, inspired by the Counterreformation and also during the 20th and 21st centuries. The membership is usually open to any Catholic person and family tradition is an important element to become a member or “brother” (hermano).

Some major differences between Spanish regions are noticeable in this event: Holy Week sees its most glamorous celebrations in the region of Andalusia, particularly in Málaga and Seville, while those of Castile and Leon see the more sombre and solemn processions, typified by Semana Santa at Zamora and Valladolid. This is a religious holiday.

A common feature in Spain is the almost general usage of the nazareno or penitential robe for some of the participants in the processions. This garment consists in a tunic, a hood with conical tip (capirote) used to conceal the face of the wearer, and sometimes a cloak. The exact colors and forms of these robes depend on the particular procession. The robes were widely used in the medieval period for penitents, who could demonstrate their penance while still masking their identity. These nazarenos carry processional candles or rough-hewn wooden crosses, may walk the city streets barefoot, and, in some places may carry shackles and chains on their feet as penance. In some areas, sections of the participants wear dress freely inspired by the uniforms of the Roman Legion.[1]

The other common feature is that every brotherhood carries magnificent “Pasos” or floats with sculptures that depict different scenes from the gospels related to the Passion of Christ or the Sorrows of Virgin Mary. Many of these floats are art pieces created by Spanish artists such as Gregorio Fernandez, Juan de Mesa, Martínez Montañés or Mariano Benlliure. Brotherhoods have owned and preserved these “pasos” for centuries in some cases. Usually, the “pasos” are accompanied by Marching bands performing “Marchas procesionales” a specific type of compositions, devoted to the images and fraternities.                                                                       

Pretty impressive I have seen smaller ones in other places but this one here has different ones every day this week.  Pretty cool stuff!  Brought my camera never thought to take a picture of us together.  Typical of me these days.  Will try to get some of the parade tomorrow.  Friday going to Marbella.  LIFE IS GOOD!!!!

ENTRANCE TO THE OLD CITY

THIS IS THE CHURCH THIS PROCESSION ABOVE ORIGINATED FROM

 

Our Lady of the Palm

November 1: Our Lady of the Palm, Cadiz, Spain (1755)

The Church of Our Lady of the Palm preceded by some time the miracle which made it famous. There is no exact record of why it was named that way.

The miracle for which it is best remembered took place during an earthquake and a tidal wave on the first of November, 1755. There had been an extremely strong earthquake on that day that was reported to have been felt throughout all of Europe. Cadiz is a seaport of Spain exposed to the Atlantic Ocean and was directly in the path of the tidal wave said to be more than 90 feet high. The recently reported tsunamis in Asia pale in comparison to that wave. Lisbon, with 275,000 inhabitants, was said to have lost 90,000 people and had 85% of its buildings destroyed from the wave. The water penetrated as much as 8 kilometers inland, mainly striking Portugal, Spain and Africa.

The townspeople of Cadiz were in terror and were on the point of abandoning the town when two unidentified men – thought later to be the patron saints of the city – closed the water gates and urged the people to go to the Capuchin Church of Our Lady of the Palm. Here a Mass was in progress. The priest calmly finished the Mass, seized a banner with a picture of Our Lady on it, and went out into the street where the wall of water was already advancing upon them. He planted the banner in the street almost in the shadow of the great wave and called out in a loud voice, “Thus far, my Mother.” The water advanced as far as the banner, and then miraculously stopped its forward progression, even though up until that point it had destroyed everything in its path. Then, as the priest walked boldly forward toward the wall of water with the banner in his upraised hand, that gigantic wave receded from him and turned away from the face of Mary to return placidly to the ocean.

An anniversary procession was established, along with a confraternity of Our Lady of the Palm. With the exception of 1837, when there was a Civil War, the procession was held annually. The rosary was recited along the route of the tidal wave, and prayers of thanksgiving said.

Many years after the first miracle, another storm caused the people to remember Our Lady of the Palm. Ships were wrecked in the harbor of Cadiz, and the ocean was impassable. The people demanded a procession of Our Lady of the Palm, though it was out of season, and when the procession was finished, the storm abated.

*from The Woman in Orbit and other sources

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TO ALDEN

I have now reached the ripe old age of 69.  Used to be a good number but now it doesn’t have anywhere near the meaning to me and is actually a little depressing! 

The reason I am writing these stories is so that Alden my new grandson has something to remember me by when I am gone.  I was never a father to my son Jason from the time he was born.  So I have deep regrets about it.  I know I blew it with him growing up and have no way to change that. 

I can only try to be a better person in what little time I have left considering each year goes by in the blink of an eye now.  Knowing who I was then I truly believe it worked out best for Jason.  I am just glad that his Mom and Perry were such good influences on him.  I truly owe them a debt of gratitude for being there for him and guiding him along the way.  They did an amazing job of raising him. 

He has turned out to be everything I wasn’t.  In my eyes a very amazing individual.  I am very proud of him even if I wasn’t a part of it.  I really have made a mess of my life till now. 

Although the theme of the 70’s was peace and love.  It was also about free love, drugs, rock and roll and rebellion against all values of the past.  Unfortunately I took the bad side of that coin and went with it. 

It is really sad that it takes some people like me so many years to realize that we went down the wrong highway in life.  The thing of it is once we have chosen the path we are going to take in life it is very hard to change it along the way. 

You get caught up in the security of making money and surviving as best you can with what you know.  Once you have put so much time in one direction.  It is hard to abandon it and choose another direction even if you know the one you have chosen is wrong. 

I spent all my life living and working on the road.  Traveling from place to place with a bunch of hardened construction workers who only saw home once in a great while.  It is not exactly conducive to a family type of environment. 

Your environment becomes the bars after work and the partying till late in the night.  Night after night after night.  I did try my hand at many different businesses and although I was able to make a living it was nowhere near what I could make on the road.  So of course I always gave up on the businesses and went back to work for the big companies that paid the most.  

I have to say that I did get to see many beautiful places in the USA that I never would have otherwise.  It also gave me what I have today to be able to enjoy the freedom I now have. 

The problem with it was it destroyed all my relationships in the process and in my mind everything else I ended up with.  It all seemed so hollow in the end.  In those years it was all about Dave and I didn’t take the time to consider anyone else’s feelings in the process. 

Stupid but I am very guilty of it and sorry for having done it.  Unfortunately it took me 60 something years of my life to figure out what I really have wanted in life.  I now believe I am on the right path unfortunately I don’t have a long life left to live it.  The only thing I have to say for myself is better late than never!!! 

Jason now has his greatest gift in life his new son Alden and his beautifully sweet wife Chris.  They are the perfect trio in my book not that I am biased or anything.  He will be everything to Alden that I wasn’t to him. 

I am just glad that he has accepted me as I am all these years!  Learning a lesson in life is a very hard thing sometimes but I do believe I have finally learned it.  I want Alden to understand who I have become in my old age not what I did when I was young and foolish. 

Now that I am in a better place in my mind and life.  I am just trying to leave these good memories of who I am now behind for him to see. 

I got started on this path early this morning and could not let it go.  I spent the night before and the whole early morning walk thinking about it!  Sometimes it helps to put it in writing and get it behind you! 

I hope if nothing else this inspires him to get out and see the WORLD there is so much to learn out there!!!  Most of the cents I have now are passed hand to hand in the market if that makes any cents to you!  I don’t know where I am going or what I am doing next.  But I do know I will be going somewhere and doing something!!!  LIFE IS GOOD  Dave

Cadiz is a really really nice town and it has a super good vibe about it.  It is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain.  It is also one of the oldest still surviving cities in Western Europe. 

I wish I could have stayed a little longer but such is life.  The only thing about it that I thought was to bad was the fact that big development did get to sneak in and change the look of the most important part before they caught on.  That being the very farthest point of land in town.  I like to call it the point because that is what it is. 

Unfortunately they managed to throw up a few nondescript semi high rise buildings most about 12 stories tall so they stand out above all the other older places.  Most of old are 5-6 stories.  All done for the tourist trade taking up most of the two sides of the point.  At least they are well kept and a few did add nice touches to help them blend in. 

Fortunately the area in front of the harbor was spared but they came pretty close to it!  BUMMER DUDE!!!!  Really really to bad!  But for the most part like I said in the last post at least they caught on before it was all gone.  It has happened to so much of Spain it is a shame.

Spain was a poor country for years and big money took advantage of them just like in so many other places!  It would not stop me from coming back though!  It is one of the few places in my travels I would not hesitate to return to. 

A great vibe, beautiful esplanades along the sea.  Many parks to sit in filled with exotic plants supposedly brought back by Columbus.  Lots of statues, a great market and lots of green Canaries flying around! 

Everything you could ask for is close by groceries, booze and cigarettes what more could you ask for!!!  They also have some nice beaches if that’s your thing.  A small one in the harbor of the old city and bigger ones in the new town just outside the old city walls. 

It’s funny here people that let their dog out to piss always follow with a jug of water to wash down the area they pissed in.  Interesting!!!  VERY NICE!!!  YAY!!  Cadiz

For more photos of Cadiz go to:  Cadiz thought’s now and next year

So after most of day yesterday and again this afternoon trying to figure out what to do about Morocco decided to blow it off for now.  I just couldn’t find information on anything like buses, trains or anything else. 

There was vague stuff like train goes here or there but no schedules of any kind.  It just started to sound like too much hassle and I haven’t even got there.  Most of what is on the web is 2011 or older so things may have changed by now. 

They speak French so it would be a problem unless I find someone to speak English.  Plus you don’t know if what they are saying is right because there are so many scammers.  I guess I should have done it when I was younger just seems to confusing for me now.  Know I could do it but don’t think I want the hassle of it and by the time I paid for ferries, trains, taxis, changing money Etc. 

It won’t have been any cheaper than staying in Spain so new plan coming up.  I have still yet to speak with Victor he is making a list of nice places to see In Morocco and maybe can better explain it to me and how to get around.  He has been a great help while I have been here.  He and his wife are super nice. 

There is nothing like talking to someone who has been there many times.  If he can show me a good way to do it then I will rethink the Moroccan adventure. 

Made a booking at this place in Vejer De La Frontera in the mountains a small village that is supposed to be picture perfect till after the holidays.  If I decide I want to change my mind again it will only cost me one night rent at $28.  But at least now I know I have something for the holidays. 

It is hard to find a place now that isn’t off the chart money wise.   At least now it isn’t so stressful worrying about it.  I figured it looked like a real peaceful place to just relax and get my thoughts about where I am going next.  It is pretty hilly so that could be a problem but I am in better shape after Albufeira. 

Plus it gets me through the holiday crazy prices.  Just seemed like I am spending all my time here trying to figure it out and I wanted to be able to enjoy it here.  Instead of worrying about what is next. 

I will still be able to go to Morocco or anywhere else from here.  So staying here longer I will have more time to think about it without having to rush into it.  Morocco is supposed to be real nice!  Yes just confusing myself at the moment.  So figured I needed to regroup!

I am trying to narrow down my search in Portugal from lessons learned along the way.  I have decided I am looking for more of a medium sized city then a large one.  The medium size cities seem to be more laid back then the large ones. 

I am looking for one with a large old town center.  Long esplanades along the sea.  Many pedestrian zones and parks with benches to sit on and whileaway the day.  Top on the list is having a nice balcony to hang out on.  To me that is the hub of attractions. 

Some of these towns like Albufeira, Faro and Lagos are pretty big but most of that is the new urban sprawl of recent years.  They are the biggest towns on the map of the coast.  That is why I go to check them out. 

Just because they are big doesn’t mean they have a large old town.  Like Albufeira it is hard to distinguish old from new.  It just blends together.  I like seeing these places but they are not somewhere I would want to live. 

I have been thinking about it for a long time now.  I choose these places I have gone to so far because they are the biggest on the map.  I thought they would in turn have older bigger centers but they do not. 

It is because most were just sleepy little fishing villages in the old days before tourism built them up to what they are today.  Most just have a lot of urban area but not much of a old center.  It just doesn’t look like there are any larger than these along the Southern coast of Portugal that I haven’t seen. 

Maybe North of Lisbon there is but it is colder there and I do not like cold.  I did like Lisbon a lot and am thinking about going back but it is a ways from here so I’m not sure yet what to do.  I will spend some time thinking about it. 

I since have been to Seville and am now in Cadiz.  So I have decided to stay here till after Easter weekend then leave on the 16th.  Everywhere except here the prices go up huge for the week.  They do go up though a little.  I guess everyone heads to the bigger cities. 

I am tired of moving so much and really don’t know where I want go next.  I have to many ideas and just want to sit for a while and think about it.  Instead of having to figure out where the next place will be the moment I get to a place. 

I walked around the old town here today and thru the middle of it.  I am at the farthest point in the old town out at the end on the peninsula.  The old town is surrounded by the old city wall.  I’m on a very narrow street and it is another beautiful apartment it is almost like a deja vu from Seville. 

The walk was nice.  I went along a really long park with fountains by the sea on the one side then walked thru the center and along the sea on the other back to here.  It’s only about 3 miles to go around the whole old town.  It’s a pretty little spot not monstrous like Seville and more laid back. 

The nice thing here is that almost everything is old not fancy but old.  The 3 or 4 story buildings with balconies and nice narrow little streets.  The old wrought iron street lanterns on the sides of the buildings really feels old. 

There are some newer buildings built for the tourist trade that are pretty faceless in the old town along the sea but not super high rises.  They have some design to them and there are very few. 

There is nothing but high rises  in the southern newer part of town outside the old city wall.  It is pretty much the norm everywhere in Spain along the sea some places more than others.  This place caught on to the destruction fast thank god and put an end to it before they ruined the look of the old town. 

The guy here offered me a deal if I wanted to stay more than the 4 days I had already booked.  He gave me 10 euro off a night so that is a really good price here 32 euro a night. 

So I decided or at least I am almost sure I will stay an additional 2 weeks.  I told him one week for sure and probably the other one and that I would let him know tomorrow.  I’m 99% sure just wanted a little time to get my head straight on it. 

The guy I am renting from will check tonight to see if I can.  Well had decided to stay but after going back to his house to look at his bookings the guy here said he was booked after the 7th.  So 7th it is.  At least that gives me a week to figure it out. 

I am now thinking about going to Morocco for a bit so this is the place to do it from if I decide to.  The ferries cross over from a couple of towns near to here. 

The guy here Victor is a fairly young guy and he knows a lot about it.  He has been there many times with his girl friend so he is going to get together with me so we can go over the best spots to go.  Tomorrow I am going to meet him and a friend from Morocco to figure it out. 

I have always wanted to go and almost did when I was coming to Lagos all those years ago.  One year I got to the ferry in Algeciras to go there and decided the girls were more interesting in Lagos.  So went to Gibraltar and then back to Lagos. 

So I have another chance and think I will take it.  I’ve seen most of the places I have wanted to see in Spain on the coast.  There is only a couple of more iffy ones left to see and I will have seen enough to make me happy that I covered them. 

I can do that after Morocco and the time there does not count toward my stay in the Schengen zone.  So that’s the pre plan plan. 

Went to the market here this morning got a nice fillet of Cod to bring back with some asparagus to go with it.  The market was incredible probably 50 or more vendors selling all kinds of fish, shellfish etc another 50 selling veggies. 

It is just so amazing to have fresh stuff at the market everyday a few blocks from here.  I love this about Europe it is one of my favorite things to do. 

I am comfortable here and the time spent will give me a chance to relax and get my thoughts together.  Even if it is not as long as I wanted to.  Can’t ask for more than that!

Well I had a really shitty day going to Seville.  Started out me getting to the bus station in Albufeira and finding out they had changed the clocks ahead last night and I missed the bus. 

I was so pissed finally got tired of waiting there and took a bus back to Faro.  It was along the way of the bus to Seville and figured I could figure out something else on the way.  If not still catch the late bus. 

Well that didn’t work either so I spent the day waiting for the late bus to Seville.  I guess I should have been glad there was one.  It was cold and rainy and no heat in the bus stations.&nb