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.

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#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.

#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