What! Do you mean I don’t need that Ipad or social network.

The times that I enjoy the most, I find myself surrounded by forests or in parklands walking a path or  just enjoying the way the sun warms my skin. Especially when I have had my friends with me.

Doing what we all like to do is a response deeply ingrained in each of us, we all want to lie around on a sunny day, just taking in few rays, or reading a book, throw a frisbee to the dog, or just chat with friends. All of this is to me just part of enjoying life & having a good time.

I always find that doing this sort of stuff is another one of those things in life that people tend to take for granted & yes we do that a lot. Just being able to relax, to step away from the everyday stress of life and spend some quality time with friends & acquaintances is the best therapy anyone could ever ask for.

It’s my personal opinion that people don’t get outside enough nowadays. There are just too many reasons to stay indoors, there are Playstations, X Box or whatever, as well as all of our computers with their social networks, I pad’s & lets not forget the TV.

It’s these things that tend to keep you a hostage to their ability to alter reality, safe and happy whittling away your time doing nothing special. Yes we are losing the means or even the want to go outside and see the world, to see real people. I understand this requires effort, yet it can be so worth it.

Now just so you know, being the hypocrite I am, I own most of these anti social things, of which my favorite is my I Pad, although mine has an antiglare coating so that It can be used outside, I love my books all of which I can now carry on my I Pad & of course as a photographer I use it to showcase my work, “I also play games on it everyday”.

During my time working on the cruise ships I have found, that a large percentage of crew tend to take our computers out to the local Internet cafes or the local coffee shops, spending time catching up with our social networks, when we could & should be out exploring all of the wonderful places we travel to. That being said most of us tend to do just that. I personally love to go hiking and spend almost all of my time outside in the wilderness when it is close by & if not just looking around a new city exploring.

What I’m finally trying to get around to is that everyone including me! Should spend much more time outdoors doing something they like with friends or even by yourself. A favorite exercise of mine is rollerblading, I have rollerbladed in lots of cities around the world although San Francisco proved a little daunting with those huge hills everywhere, I also enjoy riding bicycles which I can hire from the ships from a very nominal fee sometimes even for free, for me it has to be somewhere I can see something while I ride, maybe even around a lake or a city.

It doesn’t matter what you do if it gets you outside, fishing, bungee jumping, lazy days at the beach, while your there why don’t you build a sandcastle your never to old to act young. So go sailing or join a dragon boat club, be lazy for a change and just read a book, throw that Frisbee. It really doesn’t matter what you like to do, you just need to get out and give it a go, you never know you might even get to know some more people.

Walking that’s “My new favorite pastime” I know I seem to be going backwards with my style of exercises’ I guess I am getting on a bit now, I think its just about time to start my second or is that my third midlife crisis. I’ve never felt old yet.

When I was younger I lived in Perth – Western Australia. I had a fantastic outdoor lifestyle. At that time life consisted of going to the beach, cable waterskiing, rollerblading & many other types of outdoor activities, I also squeezed work in there somewhere. Bike and walking paths were everywhere; with stunning views, most parks have free barbeques so that social gathering becomes a lifestyle. This is true of most places in the world, so no matter where you live there is always something to do and see. You just have to get off your butt and go out and explore it all.

The cost is going to be very little, almost nothing and sometimes it will cost you as little as time away from the TV.

As I find myself growing older and getting more set in my ways, I needed a wake up call, to get me moving in the right direction. So I have made it my resolution (not a new years resolution as I never seem to follow through on those) that I will walk everyday, not always at the same time of day, as this is not always possible for me. Sometimes I walk around a new city just soaking up what it has to offer, sometimes its just to the shops or coffee spots & sometimes its just a walk around the deck of my current ship. If I miss a day I won’t worry, I will just walk the next day. Although It took some effort I have finally decided to get off my butt & yes this took me a long time, as I was very content with who I was for such a long time. Now I have finally decided that I want to be thinner and healthier than I am, so that I can enjoy everywhere I go and see, without feeling like I am puffing & wheezing.

I also absolutely love scuba diving & I want to be able to do this right up to when I finally toddle off this wonderful planet. Saying that I have been lucky to dive in some of the better destinations around the world, here are just a few of them. Cayman Islands, Cozumel – Mexico. Key Largo – Florida, Great Barrier Reef & Townsville – Australia, Saint Tomas – Virgin Islands. Aruba, Curacao – Dutch Antilles & the Red Sea – Sharm El Sheik  – Egypt.  . I have had one and two tank dives, I have sailed on live aboard ships, some were drift dives,wreck dives, day & night dives I have loved them all. I love being underwater and now with over 500 + dives, I sometimes think I am half-fish, my dream is to have an underwater housing so that I can take my Canon camera underwater to get some of the images I see up to the people who don’t dive  to give them a taste of what I see while I am underwater.

There are plenty of people out there already doing these things. I am not writing this for them or even for you, I am writing this for me I know that is selfish of me, so if you want to come along and get outside and reclaim your old life. Well then let’s get to it & hopefully I will see you in the park.

Please let me know what you think, as I think I would like it.

Either way I will still be walking everyday.

Zombies Are Rampant in Australia


     It felt like I was back in a time warp, then I was suddenly surrounded by Zombies. 

Today I walked among thousands of Zombies, they were every where, they were slow-moving with a sort of shuffling gait, you could just manage to get away from them if you tried very hard, it was just the sheer number of them that was totally overwhelming, I was able to walk among them as I had dressed myself in similar fashion and when they screamed I screamed as well, they chanted one word over and over again & again – Brains, Brains, Brainssss.

These are my friends starting from the left.

Jessica, Daniel their father Rex & my niece Heather.

Of course I am talking about the Melbourne Zombie Shuffle each year it seems to get bigger and this year as I was in Melbourne I decided to join in the fun & get my Zombielike ass down there, I first heard about the Melbourne Zombie Shuffle from my niece Heather who told me to look it up on You Tube this is just one of 2010s videos of the event at this link: http://youtu.be/20tzfAsNwu0

Heather along with friend Rex, his son Daniel, & his daughter Jessica, drove us in costume to car parking close to the city; we then caught a tram into the city & onto the start of the event, which started at Carlton Gardens. Even though we were running late it didn’t seem to matter as the thousands of Zombies that were on the march, were as the name suggests just shuffling along, we soon caught up with them. & I was soon happily snapping photo after photo. There was so much to focus on with Zombies & Ghouls of different types shapes & sizes with things sticking out here and there & a few things sticking in eyes & bodies and such, we wound our way through the streets of Melbourne, passing many landmarks, & Buildings, on towards our final destination, Alexandra Gardens.

There were Bride Zombies, Child Zombies, Construction Zombies, Ghouls of every description lets face it, if you think of how a Zombie should look running through your BRAINS!!!! Then one of those was there too.

Zombies, Zombies, everywhere.

Zombies, Zombies, they don’t care.

There not here to ride the Trains.

They just want to eat your Brains.

Sometimes when you least expect it, you see ghosts as well as Zombies.

Creeping around the cemeteries even in the daylight can be a scary thing to do.

Im sure I don’t want to bump into things, or have them bump into me.

Zombies, Zombies, You beware.

Zombies, Zombies, please don’t dare.

Try not to panic or to strain.

Otherwise they’ll eat your Brains.

What a fantastic event.

So I say Kudos to all the event organizers they did a fantastic job along with all the necessary yet very helpful authorities and to everyone needed to look after this many Zombies in one place.

To all of the Zombies that took part I say Kudos to all. There were some really outstanding looking Zombies throughout the shuffle. Every single Zombie in the Melbourne Zombie Shuffle looked fantastic. With so many people taking photos. It was a credit that no one lost their temper and all the participants showed great patience, allowing photograph after photograph to be taken of each and every Zombie. 

Thanks for the memories Zombies of Melbourne you made my 2011      

#7 Australia The Lucky Country

As the Queen Mary 2 moved closer to Australia. I started to get a little homesick. No matter how much I traveled this beautiful planet I would always want to return to what I personally considered the best place in the world to live, I have been lucky to live in many places throughout this wonderful land. At twenty-four I traveled around on a motorbike from South Australia stopping everyplace I could until I ended up in Perth (Western Australia) where I spent the next fourteen years of my life, having lived in and visited almost all of the major city’s Australia has to offer. I have also visited many of our smaller yet more beautiful place this wide country has to offer some of my all time favorites were Byron Bay, The Gold Coast, Whitsunday Islands, Hervey Bay, Cairns, Townsville, Port Lincoln, Port Neil, Tumby Bay, Kalbarrie, Collie, Margret River and numerous others to many to mention here.

                On this trip with the Queen Mary 2 we docked in Perth, Adelaide and Sydney.

PERTH

Having already lived in Perth, I decided to stay onboard on in port manning and gave my option to visit this city away to another crew member, I did manage to go out just before we sailed to stock up on all the things I have missed from the local supermarket. So nothing exciting enough to write about this time as well as no time to take photographs.

I will tell you a little about this beautiful city. Reflecting onto the Swan River, which curls around the downtown city area as well as Kings Park magnificent parkland adjacent to the city. The Swan River winds its way through numerous parks and residential properties creating stunning backdrops from either bank of the river, none more spectacular than the city view from south bank. Perth is a place of white sandy beaches 19 in all and a lively and trendy lifestyle.

While living in Perth I worked as a motorcycle instructor, high-rise window cleaner, roof carpenter, This is also where I learned how to become a croupier honing my skills until the day I started on the cruise ships. Overall I fell in love with the place, the people, and the general vibe that Perth exudes.

Adelaide

While I have also lived for short periods in Adelaide and having grown up in South Australia, I always yearned to travel to other places, Adelaide is called the city of churches I always thought that was because there are more sinners here. (Ha, Ha not really)

Adelaide is also a very pretty place to live and a lot of my family still live there and thoroughly enjoy everything that it has to offer.

Well back to the Queen Mary 2. I stayed onboard here as well as I was able to get my Sister and brother-in-law Sue & Charlie as well as my niece Samantha and her partner Pedro and his parents onboard to see the inside of the QM2 we spent the entire day just walking throughout the grandeur that the QM2 exudes. It was a spectacular day seeing family I had not seen for such a long time.

PS it was raining cats and dogs outside so I didn’t miss sight-seeing around the city this time.

Sydney

I have been lucky to visit Sydney on many occasions; I have made the journey in cars, planes and ships. Staying for short or long periods, walking or driving.

As you know the cruise ships tend to be here one day and gone the next, this time we got to stay in Sydney overnight. I stayed onboard for the first day and night again doing in port manning for another crew member, giving them the chance to see everything I get to see whenever I get home to Australia, I spent the second day, moving through the city taking photographs and visiting some of my favorite cafe and restaurants before boarding a ferry across to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.

As I wandered around the zoo, I started taking pictures getting some keepers( Zoo Humor)  The best were the kangaroos as well as the bird sanctuary, which were both walk in enclosures. All the other animals seemed to be on a time schedule if you wanted to see them you had to go at a certain time.

                      I did find the enclosures and cages there quite depressing.

Previously I had been to one of my favorite zoos in Singapore. All of the animals were easily seen, as the only fences are to keep the people away from the animals, which are kept in by moats of water that allows the visitor to be closer and see more while traveling around the vast interior of the zoo. After about an hour in Taronga zoo I had seen enough and went back to the ferry platform.

On our trip back to the city I was lucky enough to see the Queen Elizabeth (our sister ship) pulling out from her dock at Circular quay in downtown Sydney, I got some great shots of her turning around ready to start her new journey as well as some nice shots of the Sydney Opera house and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

I got back to the city and after walking throughout the city again getting a few cups of coffee as well as a great meal I headed back to the ship and met up with my friends before we cast off from the dock and headed out through the crowded waterways off to our next adventure New Zealand……….To Be Continued.

#6 Durban – South Africa

Before I enthrall you with a fantastic tale of Tala Game Park in Durban.

Please allow me for a short time to remember a time a when I was  a few years younger and was lucky enough to spend some time in Africa.

My first time to South Africa was spent on holiday/vacation with some good friends from one of the many ships I have served aboard in my time at sea. I had six fantastic weeks to enjoy Johannesburg, Pretoria and many other wonderful places while I was there. I remember fondly the wonderful family that looked after me for a large part of my time there, My friends took me around to many restaurants, bars and clubs and also showed me the wonders and beauty of that is Africa.

Although spending time in each city was fun and exciting. My fondest memory of Africa will always be of Pilanesberg Game Reserve, one of South Africa’s largest parks and home to healthy populations of lion, leopard, black and white rhino, elephant and buffalo – Africa’s “Big Five”.

Starting early from Pretoria we arrived at the park at around six thirty in the morning the sun was only just up, clear blue skies were the order of the day, the sun was just starting to warm the ground and it felt like it was going to be a great day. I had my Canon film camera loaded and had about five extra rolls of thirty-six exposure per roll so I figured I would have plenty of film for the park animals and for some photos of Sun City which is Adjacent to the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. As we drove into the park we saw Baboons’, antelopes, and various other small game. Pilanesberg Game Reserve is massive at around 580 km of diverse and arresting bushveld terrain. It also includes an area for the animals if they feel like the tourists are too much to handle, where only the rangers can access.  I had only seen one elephant way off in the distance, he looked like a fly speck he was so far away. So after traveling around for a while with only sighting small animals we stopped for some lunch in one of the game park areas. As we ate our hand packed lunch I was amazed at the tranquility that surrounded me. Believe me when I say I would have loved to stay for a few nights in one of the many game parks that dot this game reserve. I knew we only had today and would have to head back to Pretoria at the end of the day. With a good four hours left in the park we still had so much to see. Back into the car we jumped and away we went. We had only traveled about five Km’s when we heard a crashing sound off to our right, stopping the car we could see around twenty elephants coming out of the bush only thirty feet in front of us. There were two males with their tusks larger than the many females that were behind them, as well as quite a few young elephant of different sizes trailing their mothers, I was beside myself with excitement and had almost climbed out the window to get some photos of this group, they were grabbing the branches of thorn trees, tearing them off and stuffing them into their mouths, it was so raw and powerful, it gave me a sense of deep respect for these wonderful animals and is one of the many memories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Even though it was over much too quickly. We watched the last of the elephant herd move into the bush on the far side of the track. The father who was driving started the car and we headed off ready for our next encounter. I was still buzzing on adrenalin from that last encounter when we spotted a cheetah’s head just barely visible in the tall grass I took some photos even though he was at the extreme range of my camera. We moved further into the bushveld and onto one of the many small tracks that crisscross the park. As we drove around a bend in the track we saw in front of us smack in the centre of the track a bull male elephant all on his own, we stopped the car a good forty feet away from him. The father, who was driving the car, told us that he was a lone bull male who went back to the pack only when he wanted to mate. He said sometimes they could be very unpredictable. He also stated that if we waited he was sure the elephant would eventually move off the track. Again I was leaning out the window taking photos as the bull male decided we were a threat and mock charged us. He threw dust-up from his trunk at us and flapped his big ears, then he picked up a small branch with leaves and held it in front of himself and kicked dust-up with his feet, I was sure he was going to crush the car with one blow from his massive trunk, yet the father just backed up a little and then stopped again, He actually laughed at the bull elephant. I not totally sure who was the crazy one the elephant or our driver. The rest of us in the car asked him to get further away. He calmly said that the bull male was just trying it on with us and that we were in no danger. After being charged about ten more times with us retreating backwards in short bursts for about two miles. The bull male elephant wandered off into the bush and the father smugly said see I told you so. What an intense situation that was, I can tell you now that there were times that I nearly needed a change of pants.

Throughout the day we saw giraffe, wildebeest, warthogs, and many types of antelope and gazelle, we also saw a group of ostrich that tried to peck at me through the window of the car. We went to a section of the park with camouflaged hides that are used to watch the many types of predator birds that are in the park although they must have been elsewhere as we saw nothing but bush when we went there. We heard of sightings of the parks rhino’s from other people though we never got to see any of them. So with our time there over we headed to our final destination of the day Sun City. We made our way to the southern part of the park; Sun City is accessible from the Bakubung gate, as well as the main road. We entered Sun city and were given some small gambling tokens at the gate as it is home of one of South Africa’s casinos, I was not overly impressed with the gaming table area’s as I have seen better throughout my travels, there was also a huge building filled with gaming machines I would have said that there could have been as many as a thousand machines in this huge complex. Not being a keen machine player I was not overly interested enough to check it out except for a quick glance. So we headed off to the Palace of the Lost City, which is one of the major resorts in Sun City, it has fantastic architecture with a waterfall statue of cheetah’s chasing prey at its entrance, and a huge statue of an elephant called Shawu in the foyer. The whole palace was created for royalty; it is one of the most opulent and grand buildings that I have ever seen. Further away from the palace there are water slides, and wobbly bridges, there are elephant statues everywhere, heaps of pools for the kids and some for the adults, and they even have a wave pool. If swimming is not you thing they have a world-class golf course complete with crocodiles on the 13th hole so if you lose your ball there I would just call it lost and move right along. I loved my time in Africa especially photographing the animals and was looking forward spending some more time there back with the Queen Mary 2 even if it was for only one day.

Here are some links if you would like any further information about the Pilanesberg Game Reserve

Official website

The Pilanesberg Game Reserve Travel & Safari Guide

Wikipedia also has a nice site concerning the park.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilanesberg_Game_Reserve

So now back to our present time zone.

Cape Town to Durban: Date:  7th of February 2011

Our ship traveled from Cape Town on towards Durban and around the legendary Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope. These promontories were key beacons for the early explorers and are the source of many myths and legends. In 1488, Bartholomew Dias named the Peninsula Cabo Tormentoso, or the Cape of Storms. King John II of Portugal later gave it the name Cabo da Boa Esperanca – the Cape of Good Hope. In 1580, Sir Frances Drake proclaimed it to be ” … the most stately thing and the fairest Cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth.”

We moved quickly through the Atlantic Ocean and into the Indian Ocean, as we rounded the Cape of Good Hope sailing up the coast past Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown moving towards our destination Durban.

As I knew months in advance that we were heading for South Africa I had worked willingly with the tour team aboard the Queen Mary 2, I had gone on tours for them helping out when they were short of people. I provided them with photographs of the tours when possible, I made myself as helpful as I could, even plying them with the odd box of chocolates or a bottle or two of nice wine. So that when I suggested that I be included for one of the four places going to Tala Game Park in Durban I was pretty much guaranteed a place, and I was over the moon when it was finally confirmed.

I polished all my lens and made sure my batteries were full I even took a mono pod (a single pole for stability) as I wanted these shots to be spectacular I was packed and ready to go days before we arrived and was excited to be back in South Africa and going to a game reserve.

Let me tell you a little about Tala Game Park, it’s a large private reserve with over 3000 hectares of land there are Rhino, Kudu, Wildebeest, Zebra, giraffe, Warthogs, Hippo and Ostrich as well as the rare Sable antelope. There are no predators here. No lions, Cheetah, leopards, Hyena or even elephants. You will only find mostly prey animals here and they have flourished as the grazing is plentiful and the park makes them easily accessible to tourists. That being said they are still very wild animals and care is to bepredators advised while in the confines of the park.

We took tour busses from the docks, which headed straight out of Durban so that we only had a small glimpse of Durban lifestyle before we were on the highway headed toward Johannesburg, only we would not be going that far. The bus ride took around an hour and a half before we turned of onto a smaller road and headed off at a ninety degree angle away from the main road, we saw a signpost “Tala game Reserve” and headed into the park, after a twenty-minute journey into the park we were let off in a dirt car park, we were then escorted to a thatched dwelling where we were greeted with a refreshing juice drink. After a short break all of our guests were placed onto land rovers each with an experienced guide.

As it worked out we managed to get all but one of the guests loaded and away on their own safaris. That left all the tour guides and one guest to board the final land rover. As there were only six of us including the driver in the final vehicle, I was able to call shotgun which suited me as I wanted as perfect a field of vision for my photographs as possible, we all had plenty of room in our vehicle as they can hold up to ten people. Our driver introduced himself to us and asked us if we wanted to follow the others or make our own way. We had a quick vote and promptly headed off in a different direction to the other vehicles.

Our driver spotted the first giraffe way off in the distance so we made our own track as we headed off into the bushveld to see what we could get close to.

We came up to a young giraffe feeding from a thorn tree our driver got us really close we were only around fifteen feet away from him, although you could only see the top of his neck, as he was swallowed up by the bush and grass. After about ten minutes our driver moved on I wont go into all that we saw or how far we traveled but we saw plenty of giraffes as well as a flock of ostriches. There were some Zebra though only in ones and twos not in the herds that I was expecting, we drove right up to a family of Warthogs and they didn’t even try to run away “if alarmed the warthog will run away with its tail sticking straight up” we watched as the babies snuffled in the dirt while mum and dad ate grass. There were antelope’s playing and bounding in the grass, as well as groups of six or more scattered around the open areas.  I was able to photograph all of these as well as some Wildebeest. There were new-born animals everywhere in each group. It was nice to see life renewing and to be able to capture it with my camera.

We even tried to catch sight of the Hippos although they were in an area we could not get to, we came across a tree full off nests that were hanging upside down from many of the branches, to me they looked very unusual sort of shaped like a small penis and a ball sack, I took some photos of them and you can make up your own mind about the shape.

In the whole park there were two stand out moments for me that really made my day, the first was when we drove to within forty yards of around seven Rhino just grazing in the grass they were surrounded by flocks of Egrets and there were ostrich and warthogs in the same vicinity.

I got some of the best photographs I had taken all day here in the Tala Game Reserve.

I was in a euphoric mood as we left the area thinking that was the best and that it would be hard to top my experience with the Rhinos. As we drove through the park towards our starting point we talked between ourselves about how great the day had been.

When we saw another small giraffe smaller than all the others we had seen, the guide stopped and we watched amazed as its mother joined this beautiful yet small giraffe.

They wandered through a region that was low scrub bushveld it was a fantastic sight and again I took as many shots as I could of the mother and baby (calf) giraffe as they closed the gap between them.

At one time the mother spread her front legs so that she could get low to the ground to get to the succulent growth that grew there.

Then there was the sound of another vehicle approaching on the opposite side of the giraffes the baby went closer to the mother and allowed me to get some photographs of the two of them together.

It was a beautiful ending to our day. Our guide asked if we had a fun day and if were we ok to head back to the resort, I personally had a great time. We were all excited about what we had seen and spent the ride back talking about it amongst ourselves. When we arrived back we had only a short time there before we started herding all our passengers back onto the bus for the long journey back to the ship.

Epilogue: Now while I had no doubt in my mind that I had a fantastic day and felt very privileged to have experienced it all. I did feel sorry that my fellow casino crew members would not have been able to experience what I had been able to. I need not have worried this time as Andy our manager had decided to go to a Zulu Village and was able to arrange this on a personal basis, he took quite a few of the casino crew with him and then after they had seen the Zulu village their guide suggested that they go to a different park where they got to see elephants and a lion pride and much of the game that I was able to see while in Tala Game Reserve.

Here are some links to Tala Game Reserve.

http://www.tala.co.za

The link below is a U Tube video, that shows you the park and animals it tends to go on a bit so just watch what you feel like.

‪http://www.africa-24.com

 

So overall Durban really showed us her best and gave us an experience and a memory to be treasured, I know that Africa will call me again and next time I will hopefully spend more than a few days here “weeks if I am lucky” experiencing as much as this land has to offer.

To be continued:  #7 Mauritius


#5 Cape Town – South Africa

We arrived in Cape Town on the 4th of February 2011 we would be here overnight and leave on the following afternoon, After most of the passengers disembarked a few friends and I went out to see the city. As this was our first time here we decided that we would take one of the red tourist busses, that way we could see what we wanted and still have time to get to the top of Table Mountain which was high on my list of must see places while in Cape town. While still onboard our ship we had been able to exchange a very small amount of our US dollars to Rand’s, which was the local currency enough to get us through the day, we were hoping to be able to get some more Rand exchanged outside somewhere.

We headed off to the shuttle bus outside the port, which dropped us into the waterfront area and we were able to pay for and jump onboard a red tourist bus the kind that you will find in most city’s and start our journey through the city, Traveling in this way allows you to safely see some areas that you would not necessarily have made the effort to go to.  We went to so many places throughout the city as well as going to some of the outer suburbs.

We went to Mouille Point which is one of the nicest suburb areas with a lot of money being spent in this area, our driver pointed out so many places and areas  that I can only remember a few of them. There was Robben Island a former penitentiary island 10-kilometres from the city, where many famous political prisoners were held for years.

And in one of the most famous moments marking the end of apartheid, Nelson Mandela made his first public speech in decades on 11th of February 1990 from the balcony of Cape Town City Hall only hours after being released.

All of this was explained to us by the driver as we drove around. Now you can get off and on these busses whenever you want at any designated stop.

Although we had two days here I had given my second day here away to one of my casino staff that had to stay onboard on the first day, just because I am kind hearted and the good-natured person I am of course.

After we toured throughout the town looking at the forts and city in general we headed to our main destination which was Table Mountain.

As we got closer it was possible to see the cable car which was the way we would get to the top of the mountain.

Table Mountain aerial cable car was established in 1929, takes visitors to the top in one of two cable cars, each with rotating floors and huge windows to ensuring everyone a view, cable cars depart around every 10 to 15 minutes.

The more energetic souls, if you are one of those can climb up to the top using paths that are clearly marked and the really adventurous of those can also do some real climbing. There are many experienced guides here you only have to go on the web before you come here to find a guide who will be able to sign you up and get you on your way.

The trip in the Cable car costs around $180 Rand about $20 – $25 US dollars for a round trip although you can purchase a one way and walk back down or walk up and catch the cable car down if you are so inclined.

Due to only having a limited amount of time here today to see the town and table mountain we opted for the there and back option.

Going up was superb with everyone getting a chance near the windows as the cable car ascended the floor rotated, I myself was able to photograph many aspects of the trip up the mountain, arriving at the top of the cableway we first saw that there was a gift shop and a cafe, so before we started exploring we all had a cup of cappuccino and just sat in the cafe looking out onto the stunning views that surrounded you, this gave you some idea of what was to come. Suitably refreshed we went exploring.

Now Table Mountain when you look at it from below gives the impression that someone took the top off the mountain with a giant meat cleaver, leaving the flat top that they called Table Mountain today. As the day progressed I found that the many views I saw of the mountain, from diferent angles provided the basis of the reason it is called table mountain the locals state that the table-cloth is the mist, when the weather is right a blanket of mist falls onto the mountain creating the impression of a table set for dinner.

Anyway back to the top of the mountain it is not as flat as you would think although for a mountain top it certainly is flat.

We decided after walking around half of the mountain that once you had seen one part it all seemed very similar, although if we had more time we would have explored more.

One of my favorite authors is Wilbur Smith and in many of his books he refers to Table Mountain as a place visited by politicians, prime ministers, and many famous people and I felt that having visited this mountain I was in good company.

I was told there are animals on this mountain, one of them the Dassie or rock hyrax can be seen sometimes by tourists, although I never saw one in the whole time I was there.

Heres one of those small useless facts that will stay in your mind, there used to be all sort of animals here the last lion was killed on the mountain in 1802. Apart from these you can find porcupines, mongooses, snakes and tortoises.

We strolled around looking at the stunning views available as well as traversing through the many trails that crisscross the flat to of the mountain, when we had enough we headed back to the red bus pickup point to continue our tour.

Back on the bus we went over the saddle of the mountain to Camps bay which is a thriving beach area with lots of cafe’s and a lively beach scene,

We got of the bus for a while and went for a stroll through the downtown area and onto the beach.

I was  regretting not having my board shorts because  I felt like a swim.

We got back onto the bus and it took us past the football stadium made famous for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and onto the waterfront where we started the trip.

We walked down to the area called Victoria & Alfred waterfront or the V&A as the locals called it, walking past some boutique shops selling everything you might feel you need or not whatever the case may be. We went up to the markets near the aquarium and while strolling through the markets I bought some small knickknacks and my friends Andy and Sasha bought a small drum made with stretched skin over a wooden hourglass frame. It was at this time we found out that due to it being a holiday the money changers were closed and the small amount of Rand we had been able to change on the ship was almost used up. When we finally found one that was open they wouldn’t change money without a passport and all of ours were back on the ship. So not being able to change anymore money we decided on one of the few restaurants that we could afford, well I personally couldn’t afford it so Andy paid. It was a fish and chips shop and the food though reasonably cheap was excellent. We then wandered around the V&A complex and on through the many areas found here, we stumbled onto one of the strangest statues I have seen in a while, it was made using Coke a Cola crates.

Here are some facts about the V&A waterfront area. There are over 400 stores and 45 different Waterfront Cape Town restaurants and bars for people to choose from.  it is also where you can find some of the trendy Cape Town clubs, There are also many places to buy African artifacts although most of them were much more expensive than I would have liked to pay.

after walking around for a while,we caught the shuttle back to the ship, I gave one of my staff the opportunity to go out that night and to be able to get out the next day and to enjoy this fabulous place as much as I had.

You have to understand that when working on the ships, sometimes you might only have a few hours to see a place and you make the best of it.

There are many people who work onboard who do not even have the time to go out at all so I consider myself lucky enough to visit these places even for a day.

If you are very fortunate you could end up going back to the same ports and be able to see so much more. Yet there are times that you only get one chance and its up to you to live life to the fullest seeing as much as you can in the short time that you have.

I hope you have enjoyed this little piece of Cape Town as we sail away to our next port.

Durban in South Africa.

#4 Montevideo -Uruguay

I have been lucky enough to have been to this port quite a few times now on a lot of different cruise lines, and have been able to explore only a small part of what is on offer in Uruguay. This area is bordered by Brazil on the east and northeast and Argentina on the west.

#1 Beautiful buildings - Montevideo

#2 Beautiful Buildings - Montevideo

Most of my time in this city has been spent walking around on foot “I have never encountered any trouble doing this” and I have walked from the docks to the city and back to the seaside carrying my camera without problems, mostly during the day, as most times I have had to get back to the ship for the 6pm to 7pm sail-away.

Drummer Dude

I have always found the people of Montevideo to be extremely friendly and lively, as you walk around you get the feeling that music plays a huge part in their culture. I found that drums in particular were the instrument of choice with powerful drum beats that moved them greatly. They are also very creative as can be seen by their statues, buildings, art and craftwork.

From the docks you turn to the right and less than a city block away you enter a bustling area where you will find a bustling café area with market stands and a large group of restaurants under one roof called the Mercado Del Puerto (Port Market) inside this impressive large shed like building you can enjoy all types of seafood as well as every meat dish that is available in Montevideo, believe me they are very big on beef here. Pervading the air throughout the building is the smell of barbecue cooking, As the majority of the food cooked here is done on open grill fires. The food is great and they are very generous with the amounts.

Montevideo Drummers.

I will let you in on a little secret, My favorite thing to do is to sit down with friends, enjoying a bottle or two of nice wine. Me with my large T-bone steak cooked just the way I like, everybody laughing and talking together. It’s what I consider the essence of my life, “traveling with good friends enjoying everything life has to offer”

So after we have been stuffed with food, its off exploring again, as you wander around the area there are small stalls selling everything from masks made of leather to the national drink called “mate” which is a herbal tea they drink it from special pots with a metal straw. It’s a light green color and is placed into these cup like pots and a small amount of water is placed inside and is topped up as needed most of the herb remains dry with only the bottom layer getting wet, I personally did not find it to my taste, yet the locals love it and drink it at every opportunity.

Montevideo Statue

As I made my way through the city walking around taking photos at every opportunity I wound up in the barrio (district of town) called Pocitos. It is where you will find most of the bars and has a very vibrant and trendy nightlife.

From there I walked to the main square called Plaza Independence where the views are spectacular, it is from here you enter the main shopping area of the city where you can just meander your way through each street finding everything from hotels, clothing, leather goods in particular, shoe’s, games, movies, almost anything that you need, as well as loads of roadside cafe’s and coffee shops.

Now here’s a bit of trivia. Soccer is the national sport and pastime. Uruguay hosted and won the first ever world tournament in 1930 defeating Argentina 4:2 in the finals and have also won the 1950 world championship against their rivals Brazil 2 :1. They have also been crowned South American champions for a record 15th time after wining against Paraguay 3:0 winning the Copa America. you can experience this feeling after you spent some time in this city looking around many of the shops selling the soccer memorabilia shirts of the current teams, hats and scarf’s and everything in between.

#3 Beautiful buildings Montevideo

There are many other things to do in Montevideo apart from exploring the city and checking out the restaurants. You could spend some time in the countryside at some of the cattle ranches watching the Gaucho’s (Spanish cowboys) as they explain and demonstrate how they spend their time working with the cattle and horses.  There are also many areas with beautiful white sandy beaches as well as a large and varied amount of art, statues and buildings unique to Uruguay.

Well back to me, after I had walked around the city for a few hours I headed back towards the port area and found a small tavern style restaurant, this one has become one of my favorite places to eat whenever I am in Montevideo. The fare is simple yet wholesome, it is always full of locals not tourists and Spanish is the spoken language here not English and although I do know a little Spanish I have never had any trouble explaining that I would like some good food along with a half bottle of a good wine to go with the meal.

There are loads of these cafe’s around the city but most must be stumbled upon as they do not look like a regular restaurant as most of them do not advertise what they are outside on the street.

Wine is another one of Uruaguay’s secrets and I have been lucky enough to sample some of the great wines from this region. (I always pick up a few bottles to enjoy back on the ship).

Plaza Independence -Montevideo Uruguay

Sometimes you get lucky and have an overnight stay in a port. One time I was supposed to make it to dinner and then off to a club with a group of coworkers, unfortunately I was running late and missed them before they left for a restaurant unknown and I didn’t have any of their mobile phone numbers, so I missed out on a great dinner but knowing the area I caught up with them at the Irish pub Shannon’s we then headed out to the casino for a time before making it back to the pub scene for some live music and then back to the ship bar for a few more drinks.

Group of street drummers

But alas that was another time as this day I made it back to the ship and was working soon after as we sailed away into the night. So goodbye to Montevideo Uruguay and off to our next port.

Cape Town – South Africa.

Travel photographer Bah Humbug!!!!

Queen Mary 2 in St Thomas.

Its been suggested in all the literature I read, to list myself as one thing, so that I am able to fill a niche. So I chose travel Photographer “as I do travel working on cruise ships”

I still don’t believe the title “Travel Photographer” is a very truthful one. If you’re shooting images that are not what others would class as travel, then what does that make you?

I’m just a person who creates images from the stunning things I get to see while traveling with ships.

When it comes to myself I love the thrill and the adrenalin rush that shooting wildlife brings (even the small things).

Wild Bear Alaska

Ladybug on a Sunflower

And Flowers “I have some spectacular shots: (I have to admit there is a little superstition I have, that whenever I include a flower in my shots they tend to come out better) “nonsense I know but that’s me.”

Sometimes I shoot whatever gets in front of my lens and I am quite happy to do that and just be glad I got the shot, sometimes I set up the shot spending hours working on test image after image trying to make sure everything is perfect before I start to shoot.

Falkland Island Penguins

I like others have made the mistake of not checking the settings on my camera and lenses and then found out I just shot the subject at too high an ISO allowing lots of noise that I didn’t need in the glaring sunlight available for the shot or some other simple mistake that stops me from getting that just right shot. I once photographed a small brown bear while standing on a platform, he was almost right under me, I was shooting with my favorite lens my canon 70mm to 200mm stabilized and I had the settings set to 2.5m instead of 1.4m and all my perfect shots were blurry.

Bald Eagle Alaska

I guess what I am trying to say is. In this quest for the perfect shot, some times we screw up, That’s the nature of most of us, yes there are a few perfect people who don’t make mistakes, I am not one of them. So to combat that here’s my plan, I’m going to write myself a self-help card that I read before starting to shoot that will make me check everything. Getting the settings I require before I set up for the first shot. Something to remind me that I am just human and as such I do screw

up.  As soon as I work out a ” So I Don’t Screw Up Card” I will place it on the blog for others to use and make sure they too don’t screw up to much.

My thoughts for today: Even though I use the term Travel Photographer. I don’t want to be shoveled into a nicely packaged niche all tied up in a pretty bow. I would rather never hear someone shouting at me  “Yes there he is the travel photographer”

Bah humbug!!

There are too many things out there that take my fancy and I want to be able to shoot it all. I have my goals like everybody. Some large some small.

Camel at Giza Egypt

I would like to try some outdoor action shots, with some of my own Ideas. They could even be allowed to flow from their own creativity.

I would also love to learn how to make that fancy lighting shot and capture the perfect moment in the strobe of the flash. To be able to understand Fill Flash, and to have the knowledge, of how, why and when to use it.

Some of these I have a small understanding of yet would still love to learn more.

The Treasury - Petra - Jordan

I know I’m afraid, as everyone is of that first step. Going through the “What if they don’t like my work, even if all my friends and family think my photo’s are great. I spend almost every one of my waking moments looking at those same pictures thinking, as I always do, is there a way to get a better shot. Then if I ever find myself there again “what would I do to make it better” though sometimes I feel that I got it just right anyway.

I have been able to capture some pretty amazing photographs. “If I do say so myself” and even though I think I am pretty good at editing “there are better image editors out there than myself and I easily give that to them”.

For myself I just believe that nothing compares to seeing an image taken from the initial photo to being edited to the final product. Though it can be very time-consuming and outsourcing some of your load may be the best way of making some time for all the other things in life.

Koala - Australia

butterfly's Abound

“One of my  Strongest goals is the   desire to experience       the exhilaration  of seeing  my work published  in print”

#3 Rio De Janeiro – Brazil

Now Rio is a fascinating and wonderful place to visit and I have been there many times, one or two of them I intend to go into in a little further in the blog.

Though this time I gave my time in Rio to one of my casino staff, so that they would have a chance to experiance Rio. As cruise staff we have to sometimes do extra duties when aboard the ships, one of which is inport manning where the ship is required to keep a certain amount of people who are trained in mustering people in an emergency, to stay onboard incase there is a situation while in port.

On one of the other times I had been to Rio I was lucky enough to go up to the statue of Christ, Atop Corcovado(which means ‘hunchback’) Cristo Redentor as he gazes out over Rio, a placid expression on his well-crafted face.

Christ The Redeemer Statue Brazil

With a group of friends we got some local currency Reals, pronounced Re-als. Then we took a few taxis to the bottom of Corcovado (Thats the name of the mountain) and after paying a small fee at the booth there, we were transferred to small busses which take you up a winding road to the base of the statue. I remember the very first time I went to the statue the taxi I was with was able to take you right up to the base of the statue. Times change and I guess we have to move along with them.

We walked up the stairs passing the vendors selling small statues, magnets and heaps of other small objects of worth to somebody? just not me.

Onto the statue we went, now you can see it from almost anywhere in Rio even from Sugarloaf. When we reached the top of the stairs and got our first look at the massive statue perched upon this small mountain you stand in awe of the view and the statue. My first thoughts were how in the heck did they get it up here in the first place. So I looked it up,

Here is an excerpt from another site with a small blurb on the subject.

It wasn’t until 1921 that someone had the idea of placing a statue atop Corcovado. A team of French artisans headed by sculptor Paul Landowski was assigned the task of erecting a statue of Christ with his arms apart. It took 10 years, but on October 12, 1931, the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) was unveiled. The sleek, modern figure rises more than 30 meters (100 feet) from a 6-meter (20-foot) pedestal and weighs 700 tons. In the evening a powerful lighting system transforms it into a dramatic icon able to be seen from most areas in the city.

Statue of Christ, Atop Corcovado

Sugarloaf -Rio De Janeiro

knowing we were on a tight time schedule and after a small terrifying trip in another taxi, we made it to Sugarloaf (Pão d’Açucar) as it is locally known. This soaring 1,300-ft granite block stands at the mouth of Guanabara Bay framed by beaches, the most famous of which is Copacabana.

Sugarloaf's Gondola

At the cable car entrance and after paying ($30 Real) each we were let into the Italian-made  gondola’s, bubble like cars holding 75 passengers each which move up the mountain in two stages, the first stopping at the Morro da Urca, a smaller mountain in front of Sugarloaf, and the second continuing on to the summit, to a fantastic view of Rio, weather permitting, each stage taking around three minutes.

It is simply stunning to be standing there drinking in the fact that you are staring at one of the most fascinating and most popular destinations in the world. Soaking in as much as we could as there are many places of interest each with its own spectacular view.

View from Sugarloaf Mountain

Once again knowing we were on a tight schedule, and after a quick photo shoot with all of my friends we headed of to another icon. Copacabana beach, while walking around the promenade were we were able to see all the fascinating people who make the beach scene in Rio so popular. There are the beach tanned females, and soccer playing males strutting around, as well as the favela (poor) kids playing hacky sack, as well as the capirinhas sellers (Brazils national cocktail) every type of fruit sellers and even bikini sellers in case you forgot your own. There are even hotels and places to stay if you need one, somewhere to suit each budget. After a full day spent looking around the city and out of time, we headed back to the ship.

Please understand I have only gone into a small percentage of the things you are able to see and do. There are so many other places, samba’s and people and flavors to experience while in Rio and having been there many times I have been lucky to eat, drink and experience most of these due mainly to my life on ships.

Christ the Redeemer and Rio taken from the Helicopter

One of the other times I was in Rio I took a helicopter trip over the city (O.M.G Wow) if you are short on time and wish to experience most of the sights in one go, this is one of the best ways to see this massive city and if you have a few extra dollars as it was not cheap. Although it was another fantastic way to see Rio, we flew around Christ the Redeemer then off to the beaches, Copacabana, Leme and Ipanema and a quick whirl around the city.

Christ The Redeemer - Rio De Janeiro - Brazil

Then I asked to go back to Corcovado to get some more shots of the statue, when we landed we had only taken up forty minutes of our day and so we went to the base of Sugarloaf to one of the many churrascaria restaurants this one overlooking Leme beach they have a buffet with seafood and salads as well as lots and lots of sizzling meat dishes brought to your table, until you turn over the coaster that’s on your table stating that you are too full to eat anymore, green for more and red for enough.Then we went out for coffee in one of the small cafe’s near Ipanema beach.

We sauntered around Ipanema beach checking out all the beach life that goes with it as well as some of the boutique shops the area boasts. Then back to the ship as always and off to the next port.

Montevideo – Uruguay


 

#2 Salvador – Brazil

So on we go!  We sailed into Salvador it’s a small town on the coast in Brazil.

Salvador Brazil

Portuguese is the primary language in Salvador, yet English and Spanish are spoken fluently.  It has a beautiful side with some nice old buildings and lots of churches; places of worship are everywhere as always in third world countries I have found that religion is very prevalent when there are lots of poor districts. It also has a slightly seedy side to the city with quite a few beggars in the streets. When we walked out of the ship the city area was divided into two areas the dockside which was on the lowland also it’s where the military base (navel) is situated as well as a large indoor/outdoor market place with people selling everything (Mostly crap, yet sometimes crap you feel you need usually until you get home and think to yourself why did I buy that coconut monkey??)

The upper city which was reachable for those on foot by the elevator,which you took to the main part of town up a cliff around 500ft straight up costing you less than 25 cents for each person. There are two big lifts taking around 20 to 30 people each and they are nearly always full with a lift operator in each.

Salvador - Main Square

When you get to the top you are confronted with the main square where you will find some of the churches and cafes and shops, this is where most of the tourist go as it feels the safest while you are in Salvador. With a little walking we found a money changers, cambia,or cambio, depending where you are,  (cambia means change) luckily it was right next to a great little coffee shop in one of the town squares overlooked by guess what, another church, so we just sat in the sun enjoying coffee and watching the world go by.

Salvador - Church

When we were walking back to the ship and as we got close to the dockside markets we saw the police screaming and pointing guns at a group of youths across the road everybody was standing with their hands in the air while the police crossed over the road then while one police man covered them while the other searched them for weapons, I was pretty freaked out with how candid they were about weapons there and how quickly the police jumped on this group of youths that did not seem to be doing anything wrong, although I quickly shrugged that off as paranoia in a different country that I really knew very little about and overall I was glad they were not pointing the guns at me or my friends. So we set off once more on our way back towards the ship.

Where we headed towards our next port Rio.