When you stay the night at Fluhalp, you can wake up to a view like this. Pretty darn spectacular!
This month I had the joy of returning to Florence, one of my favorite Italian cities. I even got to spend an entire afternoon in the Uffizi! Talk about bliss!
Art is so inspiring. While I do enjoy creating music and word/photo collages, I’m not so talented with paintbrushes. Usually when I go to a museum and stand in front of a painting, I take in the whole experience. Just absorb the whole, reflect, then move on.
This time, I decided to change my perspective and focus on details I’d never paid much attention to in the past. It was fun and challenging to admire some of my favorites in a different way. Up close and personal. In honor of this new-found focus, I thought we could play a short game of Name That Painting! Good luck!
Aaaand… go! 🙂
Update: answers are in the comments!
You’ve seen some of our under the sea activities, but we didn’t spend all of our time in the water.
When we weren’t enjoying the underwater scenery around our island, we were doing one of a few things:
- Exploring with our kayak
- Relaxing in our hammocks
- Cooking or eating, as described here
Previous posts have introduced you to our surroundings, but I haven’t talked much about what we actually did during our time on the “Marooning” island. Today’s topic: eating.
The idea was that this vacation would be part survival and part relaxation in isolation. In practice, this meant that although we were on our own private beach, no food was provided for us (except clean drinking water and ice for the cooler that was delivered every few days).
Before we left, we envisioned fishing and collecting fruit and going to a nearby market to buy rice and maybe some veggies. We could cook on the gas burner provided for us, or else we’d just rough it and make our own fires. Just to make sure we had enough to eat, we did pack some quinoa, pasta, black beans, red beans, canned tuna, canned other stuff, a sauce, a bottle of mixed herbs+salt, a bottle of syrup to have flavored water, and a package of gummy sour fish for when we needed a sugar fix.
Actually, what we had envisioned didn’t turn out to be our reality, but that’s the fun of adventure travel! There had been a brutal typhoon the previous year that had downed the fruit trees (with the exception of the coconut trees), so collecting fruit was a no-go. That just meant buying more at the market. We were provided with a spear gun as fishing gear, but the fish were too small to be had by this method. So that meant buying some at the market, as well.
So, this market. Where was it? How did we get there? Continue reading
And we’re back to meet our land neighbors!
The crab was killed with a shovel. The spider left on its own accord.
There were also some animals that we didn’t get in a picture: a family of shy monkeys, fireflies, mosquitoes, and lots of beautiful tropical birds.
These all lived on our private beach. What a change from having human neighbors!
So… jellyfish! Yes, we found more! My leg even found some tentacles once… but no real harm done.
Instead of chronicling the day-by-day of this vacation (which could get super tedious for all of us), each post will have its own theme. Part Two’s theme: the underwater fauna of our Docastaway “Marooning” adventure. If you’re just tuning in, you can see the first vacation posts here and here.
So, you’ve met the jellyfish. I’d like to introduce you to more of the aquatic neighbors we met while castaways on our private island paradise. First up:
This one is an obvious one. Fish. We found these striped creatures enjoying the gunboat wreck, chilling in anemone while we were scuba diving, hiding under rocks… any time we were in the water, we were joined by fish.
Next, we have the lovely ray. We only saw this one, but he was beautiful with blue spots on his back. He must have loved the camera, because he came out of hiding when we got out our camera, and swam a bit in circles for his paparazzi before going back to his shadows (which you can see on the left). Very elegant.
There were also a lot of beautiful starfish. Most of them were white like the ones in the background in this picture, but we also found this dark orange one while we were kayaking at low tide one day near the end of our stay.
Another day, while we were on a kayak trek around the entire island, we saw a sea turtle between our kayaks. I was so excited! But alas, he gracefully and quickly swam away before we could even get out the camera. No photo to prove we saw him; you’ll just have to take my word for it.
My favorite creature under the sea was this beauty: the clam. I was always drawn to the bright colors, and I love the way they stand out against their surroundings.
Well, there you have it! That about wraps it up for the underwater animals we saw during our snorkeling, diving, and kayaking adventures. Tune in next time for the above-water creatures!
Sorry to have kept you waiting for so long! Apparently, real life is much more hectic than normal after a relaxing 2-week vacation. I am so ready to relive those moments and also to share them with you! So, without further ado…
Our journey was beginning! It was too early for our local bus to be running, so D’s parents picked us up on Saturday morning (May 18) and drove us to Yverdon-les-Bains so we could catch the train to the airport. After a short flight from Geneva to Amsterdam, a long-haul from there to Guangzhou (11+ hours), and another short flight to Manila, our adventure could “finally” begin. Up until this point, I had been the one reserving the legs of the journey. The rest of the way had been prepared by the travel company Docastaway. It truly was a leap of faith as we had only had email contact with them up to that point. The overall feeling was excitement, mixed with a bit of caution and a spirit of adventure.
We changed terminals (surprisingly easy considering horror stories I’d read about the Manila airport) and caught a flight to “Local Town.” (Out of respect for Docastaway and their services, I will not be revealing exact locations.) We had to wait on the tarmac for 45 minutes before taking off, no explanation offered. At least I got a great nap in while we waited! Upon arrival at “Local Town” later in the afternoon than we were expecting, we learned why there had been a delay: a thunderstorm had just passed through. We collected our suitcase, and went to look for the person picking us up. At such a small airport, the meeting was made quickly. We drove in an air-conditioned van/bus over pot-holed and not-always-paved roads to the actual town. At this point, the bus driver called someone on his cell phone and dropped us off alone at the port. Although things had been going smoothly, D and I exchanged wary glances. But, lo and behold, 5 minutes later, one of the hotel workers arrived on a small (very small) speedboat. We got in and were whisked away to… we didn’t know where, and we couldn’t really see where either, because the sky kept getting darker and darker with night.
Instead of dropping us off directly at our private beach + bungalow, they decided to put us up at the actual hotel for the first night. This was complete with a coconut welcome drink, a dinner buffet, the beach-front cabin for the night (the starry sky was incredible!), and a breakfast buffet. Could have gotten used to the great service, but we were here on more of an isolated adventure this time around!
After breakfast, we were transported by boat to our own private beach! They dropped us off with a cell phone and promised to return later in the day with our kayaks and to replenish the water supply. That meant we had time to get installed in the bungalow, explore the beach, make and eat lunch, and go snorkeling. When we were in the water, we felt like we were getting stung by small, invisible creatures. The stinging went away after a few minutes. When the hotel workers returned in the afternoon, one of them confirmed that this was jellyfish season so the stinging was probably by baby jellyfish that were too small to notice. So, from day one, we knew we’d have to be on the lookout!
Did we find more jellyfish? Sorry folks, out of time for the moment… Check back soon for the next installment!
I am now the biggest fan of the unique travel agency Docastaway. Founded by Alvaro Cerezo, this company specializes in desert island vacations (mostly in Indonesia and the Philippines).
We signed up for their Marooning experience and were on their glorious island from May 18 to June 1. A vacation that will be hard to forget. 🙂 Here are a few pictures for you while I work on more posts about the trip:
If this type of experience is something that interests you, contact Docastaway! They have great customer service. It being something I found online, I was wary at first. But I was blown away by their amazing service. My assigned agent always answered my questions within a day (usually just a few hours) and made sure I felt as comfortable and as informed as I needed to be.
Absolutely zero regrets. In fact, we’ve already started thinking about where we’d like to go next time!
My soul is musical. Going to orchestra concerts is such a joy, especially when there is an amazing talent featured in the program, like a concert we went to recently in our village.
Alexandre Dubach is a Paganini genius. I was floored as soon as he started the Violin Concerto No. 1. The more he played (from memory), the more in awe I was at his brilliance (and at Paganini’s). Frequent double-stop thirds (lots of chromatic and harmonic ones, no less!!) made my jaw drop, not to mention his bow work, flying fingers, and vigor.
As an encore, he played a version of Happy Birthday (similar to this one) for a friend in the orchestra:
And of course, he just happened to be playing his Strad the night we went. Sigh. Way to melt my heart in an instant!