Smooth sailing on the Mediterranean
Chris and Kay Coomber, both 71, have made ever longer odysseys in their 38-foot, ocean-going catamaran over the past few years, and are now at sea for up to three months at a time.
‘Kay and I had our first flotilla holiday 35 years ago,’ says Chris. ‘We’d no idea what we were doing, but we were well looked after and that started us off. We’ve had a succession of boats since, and we’re both qualified to take the boat further afield. Five years ago, we sailed across the Bay of Biscay, through the Mediterranean and onto the Ionian.
‘The boat’s moored there now, and every year we drive down to Italy and take the ferry to Greece, where we can start to island hop.
‘Kay’s a real Hellenophile, having worked in Athens as a teenager. I’ve grown to really love it too. Sometimes bad weather keeps you in port longer than planned – but it’s no hardship as the food and wine are delicious and cheap!’
Chris’s top tip: ‘If you've ever wondered, ‘is that for me?’, just do it!’
Getting off life’s ‘merry-go-round’
Living the times of their lives
Former BBC radio journalist Jane McIntyre acquired her passion for travel from stories told by her father.
‘He was a royal bodyguard, and I clearly recall these amazing photographs from Tonga. My partner Nigel is a seasoned traveller, always looking to visit new countries – he’s up to 50 now! One day we just decided ‘let’s go’.
‘We managed nine countries in 57 days through meticulous planning – and of course, that included Tonga. My father’s no longer with us, so I shed a tear when we left,’ she says.
They also visited the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. When it came to dining out, Jane and Nigel trusted to local knowledge.
‘We always looked for places that were packed with local people, on the basis that they would know the best places to go.
‘Our favourite place? Japan. The people were so courteous, and the landscapes were stunning. We travelled light, getting our clothes laundered en route. I only took two pairs of shoes!’
The trip also sparked a blog, www.thetimeofourlives.net (@2emptynesters), which channels Jane’s journalistic leanings. They’ve continued to add blogs of their many ventures since: their next one will cover a 15-day trip to Sri Lanka.
‘Both of us still want to keep travelling as much as we can – there are so many more countries to visit.’
Jane’s top tip? ‘Have contingency funds available – however well you plan, there will always be unexpected costs.’
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