Making the Turn

I hope everyone back home is well and coming off a wonderful Thanksgiving. I had spaghetti in Switzerland which was fun and unique, and you don’t have to eat turkey to still be grateful for so much. I’m especially thankful for the six amazing months on this journey, for the new friends and unforgettable experiences … but I’m also thankful there are six months to go!

Things have been relatively quiet since returning from Budapest. I had a pleasant couple of days with a friend at Lake Como (we rented a boat and buzzed George Clooney’s place but he wouldn’t come out and play) and a fabulous week with my sister Jean. We did three days in Vienna and three back in Salzburg, with lots of walking and talking sprinkled with a museum or two, a palace, a concert, Irish pubs and great dinners. She’s absolutely the best company, and a great friend. And now my brother David – my other favorite person in the world – is coming to join me for New Year’s in Istanbul, so I’m truly blessed and very thankful for my family.

When Jean was here we looked back through the photographs from this trip and I realized there are many I like that never made it on the blog. Since this is the halfway point for this adventure it seemed like a good time to share some of them. (Let me know your favorite … Thank you for checking in!


Kilimanjaro casts a imposing shadow on the clouds far below. Mt. Meru is in the distance.

DSCN0160I’ve always wanted to see Antarctica, but I can’t imagine it being any more dramatic than Kilimanjaro’s crater and summit, where the snowfields are sadly diminishing.

DSCN0232This is inside the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater. We saw a number of endangered species there, but the zebra was not one of them.

DSCN0281Wildebeests party all night and need a mid-afternoon nap. Just like the Spanish.

DSCN0342I love how the Acacia trees give definition to the Serengeti. The giraffes are cool too.

DSCN0360I just like the sky in this shot of the Serengeti.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter a rain in Longa, one of the townships near Cape Town. The conditions are beyond description.

DSCN0452We visited a penguin colony on a beach in South Africa and one of the brochures blew onto the sand. “Hey Phil,” I’m sure I heard this guy say to his buddy, “come look at this. You won’t believe the crap they’re saying about us!”

DSCN0489Male elephants in Addo Elephant Park near Port Elizabeth, South Africa, have been getting gradually smaller, so they brought in four big males from Kruger National Park. Three of them were accepted by the herd, but this guy was not and he roams the park alone.

DSCN0511Victoria Falls … the natives have always called it “The Smoke that Thunders”, an excellent name. Take a raincoat.


Pre-dawn on the beach at Bagamoyo. I like this picture because it reminds me of the end of “Close Encounters”.

CIMG0424This was taken by my friend Julie Hautin at the orphanage where she volunteered in Bagamoyo. So many beautiful, innocent faces.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASiwadaa Malingumu is one of the wonderful women I worked with at Bawodene, an organization in Bagamoyo that focuses on empowering women. Her granddaughter is Aisha Ally Juma. Nice soft light.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is my artist friend Idd Mnyamili and his adoptive brother, Mudi. Idd’s father brought Mudi into the family after he was abandoned by his mother; such is the treatment of albinos in Africa. Mudi’s a great kid who is doing well in school, and he has an exceptional big brother to love him and make sure he wears his sunblock.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe morning of the day I left Bagamoyo I went for a walk on the beach with Idd and the wonderful, irrepressible Emily Farley, who was supposed to leave before I did but stayed three more months. A cool tree, and two very special people.

DSCN0596Bruges, Belgium, a lovely place.

DSCN0660The pristine and melancholy beauty of the American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, in Normandy.


There is an overlook on the south side of the Arno River where tourists and vendors and street musicians gather to enjoy the view of Florence, which is dominated by “Il Duomo”, the great cathedral.


Croatia is 95% Catholic but we were told that Croatians are really not that religious. Maybe if the churches were just a little bit more accessible …


On the wall surrounding the old town of Dubrovnik.


It’s hard not to fall in love with Tuscany.

DSCN0946St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is a very accessible church, and incredibly beautiful.


These guys outside a shop in Positano are a little creepy, but you have to respect the attention to detail with the chest hair.


First snow of the year in Salzburg.


This is almost a black-and-white photograph except for a couple of hearty trees hanging onto the last vestiges of autumn.


Another shot of the overlapping seasons.


My Salzburg friends Gabi (above) and Maria (below). Gabi owns the apartment I am renting and Maria works at the jewelry store across the street, and both are also in demand as tour guides. Wonderful people and a lot of fun.



We’ve seen dozens of magnificent churches in six months, few more spectacular than the cathedral at the Abbey in Melk, on the Danube cruise.


OK now, repeat after me ….


Nice villa on Lake Como.


My sister’s going to kill me for this, but I think she looks cute.


I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a New Year filled with love and good health. God bless!

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7 thoughts on “Making the Turn


    Thanks again Ruffin for the beautiful photos and the great commentary…..Maybe you be blessed with good health and peace this holiday season and for 2013!!


  2. moonglow1

    So glad you and Jean had such a great visit – that will be a special memory for the both of you. The commentary and photos are really great! I love the one of the lone elephant and feel badly that he was not accepted into his new surroundings – how sad. Is there anything they can do for him? Also like the photos in Belgium – seems like such a clean and peaceful place.

    Can hardly believe its been 6 months already – but you have much adventure left ahead. Keep the posts and photos coming -always great to hear from you.

    Have a blessed Christmas and try to go to midnight Mass somewhere….stay well and continued safe travels.

    Merry Christmas
    Jerri & Bill

  3. Ruffin, still reading your blogs and loving it! So happy you are having such a great time. Still wish our trips had overlapped in Bagamoyo. Maybe next time. Kay Hurst

  4. Betsy froitzheim

    Beautiful pics,Ruffin.Impossible to choose a favorite. But, there are some I would like to paint.Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and I KNOW your New Year will be very special.   Betsy

  5. LOVED the post and of course your awesome pics. I am featuring this post tomorrow in my blog! Thank you and enjoy!

  6. You chose the perfect time to be in Salzburg by experiencing the first snow of the season! I enjoyed seeing your photos marking the half-way part of your journey.
    Save travels as you begin Part Two!


    Hi, my favorite is the giraffe and zebra as it reminds me of our fabulous trip to Africa. Yes I am home now for 5 days and feeling better each day. It is a slow process but it is happening. I can’t thank you enough for calling me at Mayo It was a surprise and definitely brightened my day, thank you soooo much. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Jill is coming up and we are staying home…..our regular hosts for xmas dinner are going to Arizona as you know.Of course the traditional Jewish xmas is Chinese food and the movies, but we are going to pass on that. The next part of your trip sounds very exciting and I can’t wait to hear all about your adventures. I We love that you care enough to be in touch and we love you back .Love Jane

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