The Royal Yacht

Visit to the Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh

The Royal Yacht

The Royal Yacht

Jackie and I toured the Royal Yacht Britannia yesterday and just loved seeing it. The yacht was magnificent, and I am posting some photos of our tour.

The yacht was decommissioned in 1997, and Edinburgh was chosen for the location of where it would serve as a floating museum. One of the great things we got to witness on the tour was the number of former royal yachtsmen who were on board cleaning, repairing, and visiting. We talked to one of them who had served as a photographer from around 1967 to 1970. We asked about his dealing with the royal family, and he told us he loved visiting with the Queen Mother when she was on board, and that Price Phillip was rather stern in making sure that photographs of him did not have a cable and line in the background that would appear to be running out of his head!

Retired yachtsman recoating boat trim

Retired yachtsman recoating boat trim

Captain's office

Captain’s office

The verandah

The verandah

Sofa in rear lounge area

Sofa in rear lounge area

Rear lounge area

Rear lounge area

Beautiful silver serving pieces

Beautiful silver serving pieces

Officer's dining table

Officer’s dining table

Area outside of the Queen's bedroom

Area outside of the Queen’s bedroom

Queen's bedroom

Queen’s bedroom

Port deck view

Port deck view

Lounge area

Lounge area

Sailor's bunks

Sailor’s bunks

Operating room

Operating room

Laundry room

Laundry room

Spotless engine room

Spotless engine room

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Beautiful views

Prosecco country in Italy

On our recent trip to Italy, Antonella and her husband took us on a quick tour of the Prosecco country in the Veneto region. What beautiful country. Here are a few photos of our Sunday drive through this region.

Of course, there needs to be some sampling, too. Here we found a winery we just dropped by and knocked on the door, even though they were closed. Luckily, the mother of the wine maker was there and insisted that we come in, sample some wine, and await her son to get out of the shower!  What a nice visit and what wonderful wine!

Food Market in ground floor of Palazzo della Ragione, Padova, Italy

In the center of the major produce market in Padova, Italy located between Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta are the market stalls in the ground floor of the Palazzo della Ragione. According to “Rick Steves’ Italy, 2013,” this H-shaped arcane, was, for centuries, the location of the market for luxury items such as furs, fine cloths, gold, and silver up until the devastating loss to the French in 1797. After that, with no market for luxury items, the arcane reverted to selling meat and cheese in this covered area, and this explains why these shops are now located in an area with imposing iron gates that are used to lock up each evening.

As with any Italian market, meat such as prosciutti, salame, beef, pork, and chicken are abundant, and with this being Northern Italy, there is plenty of horse and rabbit meat sold here, too. Formaggi (cheese) and pane (bread) are standard fare, too, and both are so lovely to view and sample. Truly here, you eat first with your eyes before you do your mouth.

Here are some photos of the “macellerias,” which are the butcher shops as well as other small shops that specialize in all sorts of processed meats and cheeses.

Here are some of the shops and products that merchandise horse meat (“cavallo,” in Italian).

There are “supermercati” (supermarkets) here, but the draw of these small shops that open early in the morning and are closed by early afternoon just presents such a wide array of beautiful foods that look and taste so great that it is refreshing to experience such markets that have been going on here in Italy for centuries. Here is hoping for many more centuries to come.

Butcher and client

Mercato Centrale, Florence, Italy

The Mercato Centrale, ranked 10th on USA Today’s Best Food Markets Around the World, is one of our favorites to visit on each trip to Florence. The market is always full of great food, and it is crowded with many locals and tourists. We were there on a Saturday morning in the rain so it was even more crowded than normal.

Here are some of my favorite photos of meat:

Here are some of my favorite photos of other foods:

Mirror-image effect

Reflections, Murano and Burano, Italy

Jackie and I have spent the weekend in Venice, Italy and have hundreds of photos to show for it. But this afternoon when we took the vaporetto to Murano and Burano, we found some wonderful photo ops of reflections of houses and boats in the water that were just lovely. I wanted to capture these photos separately so that they did not get lost in all of the other great scenes in this lovely part of Italy.

Colorful vegetables

Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta in Padova, Italy

Rick Steves says that the produce in these two market squares are second only to what you would find in Bologna, which is supposed to be the best in all of Italy. Jackie and I paid a visit to this market one morning to shop a little and look a lot. It is a sight to behold.

One of the interesting points of this market is that shortly after lunch, it all comes down. We were in Piazza delle Erbe one afternoon during a light rain having pizza at a sidewalk café and watched with great interest this daily ritual of demolition. It was quite a production of the careful repacking of produce, takedowns of booths, folding or rolling up of awnings, and putting everything back into a truck or cart it off to some untold storage spot ready to start the process all over again in the early hours of the next morning.

Here are some wonderful photos of the market. By the way, the produce we purchased was wonderful!

Loving zebras

Kenyan Safari

Jackie and I had the opportunity to go to Kenya in July and August on a mission trip through Christ United Methodist Church in College Station. There were many activities we were involved with, especially at the Maua Methodist Hospital, and at some point, I will post something about these.

After two weeks of doing mission work, our group got the opportunity to go on a safari in the Maasai Mara. I took about a thousand photos during the parts of three days we were there. I have selected a handful of photos that I feel show the magnificent beauty that we observed in this special part of the work.

Please enjoy these photos as we did seeing these beautiful animals in their native habitat.

Jackie and Mari making pasta

Italian cooking school

One of the activities that Jackie and I have wanted to partake in is signing up for cooking classes, especially for Italian cooking. We had our chance this week while we are here in Italy to take a cooking class through Le Baccanti, a company that has a wide variety of food and travel activities.

Our instructor was Anna, a native of Sicily, but who has spend most of her life in Tuscany. She was assisted by Mari, who was her translator, because Anna speaks no English. We were joined for lunch by Pepe, Anna’s husband, who restores furniture, so we had a great discussion about furniture building and restoration to go along with Anna’s baby clothes business she used to run.

The class was in Anna’s house in Florence, and Jackie and I were the only students, which was just wonderful. We made biscotti, antipasta, ravioli, tagliatelle, a chicken dish, and a wine reduction, learned about how simple and easy some of the dishes are to make, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The recipes have to be requested from the tour company, but I am certain that many of these dishes will be part of Jackie’s cooking repertoire soon.

Work in progress

John the Carver Man

When we were in Maua, and next door to our hotel, we met a wonderful person named “John the Carver Man.” He has a little booth set up on the street where he works all day carving and selling his wares to the public, especially those tourists or missionaries who are at the hotel next to him.

John has such a pleasing personality and was fun to visit with each day. We saw some of his work at Jim and Sue’s house at the Maua Methodist Hospital compound, and just fell in love with it.

On about Tuesday of our week in Maua, we saw a very short ebony log and asked John if he would carve something for us. The log was not very big, but John had a vision of carving three elephants in it, one large and two small, because the log was larger on one end and then tapered off. That sounded fine to us and we then negotiated a price for this work. Once we did this, I asked John if we could photograph him working on the project throughout the week and he said yes. The log came from Mount Kenya, and John picked it up himself.

Each night, Jackie and I would go by and see how the elephants were coming along. Some of our fellow missionaries would go by and check on John’s progress and tease us that they were going to outbid us for the elephants. Luckily, they did not and we were able to pick the finished piece on Thursday night of that week.

The elephants are headed home with us, and we look forward to displaying them at our house. We told John we would send a photo of them in their new home when they arrive.

Balloon over Fairy Chimneys

Balloon ride over Cappadocia

Jackie and I took our first hot-air balloon ride ever this morning over Cappadocia. We had a great time although getting in and out of the basket was another issue!

We may have some more balloon rides in our future although we may have been spoilt with such a soft landing. The winds are very gentle here so the pilot said that this is a great place to fly a balloon.

We saw the Fairy Chimneys from such a great vantage point today, as well as getting to see the sun rise over Turkey. Enjoy the photos.