I am driving Angie crazy. I mean, more than normal at least. She told me a couple of days ago that the condo will be paid off in 4 years. 4 years! Do you believe that? I will be done with school in roughly 2 years. My car will be paid off in 3 years. I am getting a degree in a job that will be easy to come back to if I take a year long break. Or longer. You know. Depending on what I can save in the next 5 years.
Yeah. I’m already planning our 1 year+ trip around the world in 5 years. I’m driving her crazy. I’m already asking her where she wants to go. So far we said Sydney for New Years Eve (on a yacht in the harbor preferably but I won’t get too picky). Two months in New Zealand. Cambodia. Indonesia. At least a month in Paris. Iceland. Finland. Sweden. Switzerland. Denmark. Croatia. Ireland. Italy. I mean the list just goes on and on. And how does one plan a year long trip? How do you stay in another country for longer than 3 months without a work visa? I mean isn’t that the rule or am I mistaken?
So now I won’t stop talking about it. Or thinking about it. I have a new fascination with Bali. I think Angie does too. First of all, holy shit, what a photogenic place! I don’t think it is possible to take a bad picture there! I have no real desire to go to Cambodia but Angie has wanted to go there for years. She said she’ll be happy just going for a week which I decided I could handle. I’m sure it is a wonderful country, I’ve just never had a reason to go there, nor a desire. Of course, I want to stay in Paris for a month. Maybe longer. I wouldn’t mind 3 weeks in Paris and then explore the rest of France and go into Switzerland for another 4 weeks or so. A month in Australia at least. I don’t know. I just feel inspired. It gives me a goal to strive for. Start paying on my student loans NOW, not later. Get bills, credit cards, hospital bills paid off. Be debt free in a few years. My only concern would be leaving our babies (the cats) for too long.
I really should just concentrate on our trip coming up. 2 weeks in Europe in October. Belgium and The Netherlands. Seeing family. Seeing friends. Taking more pictures. It is going to be an incredible trip. I am in desperate need of a vacation even though it hasn’t been a year since my last one!
Until next time…
It can really let you down, huh? Work, school, bills, sick parents, stress, gas mileage, new contacts and eyeglasses. It is always something isn’t it? But I guess the key is to not let life bring you down.
My new job didn’t work out. Well, it more than didn’t work out. I quit 8 days in and went back to my old job. I did not see that coming! Nobody saw that coming. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I hate that clique but it’s at least true in this situation. I’m back at the old government job. I shouldn’t hate on it too much. I sit in a corner, alone, people leave me alone. I’ve learned a few lessons in leaving that job, starting a new one, leaving that job, then going to the old one.
Don’t get so close to co-workers. There is a reason they are just co-workers. They aren’t best friends. You shouldn’t share your life secrets with them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to make friends. I have a few that I do consider ‘true’ friends. But while one spends 8 hours (or more) with co-workers that also doesn’t mean they should know details about your personal life.
Political and religious talk shouldn’t be discussed around the water cooler. That is a lesson I learned early on. But it seems some don’t understand that notion. I don’t care how much you hate Barack Obama or how much you despise gay marriage because it is the devil. Guess what? I doubt you care that I voted for Barack Obama or that I love the idea of gay marriage (since, you know, I’m gay).
Don’t be afraid to just be who you are. A lot of people don’t know that I am gay at the job. I came out after I started there and just never go around to coming out to co-workers. I find letting them know is probably for the best. It stops the gay marriage debate, at least around me. A co-worker didn’t know I was gay. He made an anti-gay remark. I came out to him in anger. I don’t want to have to do that.
But besides all this, besides the lessons I’ve learned recently, the ups and downs of life I have to say. I have the best life. I am 30 years old, in school for a degree that requires very little studying thanks to working in the field for so long. I have a good job even if it is a job that I wasn’t a big fan of. I make good money, I have insurance, I have life insurance. I have a wonderful, amazing, incredibly patient fiance. The 20th is our anniversary. 3 years. I can’t believe I found somebody as great as her. I have an amazing family. A family that I have grown even closer to after my step-dads death. I have two cats I love to death. Some will scoff but those two furballs are my babies. I dare you to say otherwise!
I have had incredible opportunities in my short life. At 30 years old I have traveled more than anyone I (personally) know. During my road trip through Europe last year I posted this list on Facebook. It was my lessons for road-tripping through Europe.
1) Wear sunscreen even if you are in the car most of the time. I now have severe sunburn on my arms.
2) The French countryside is stunning.
3) I want to retire in Switzerland.
4) Europe needs to put street signs on their roads.
5) Lilly is very patient for a 3 year old.
6) Mont Blanc is beautiful.
7) Don’t eat pizza then get into a hot car. Hello carsickness.
8) I have experienced more than most people and I know how lucky I am.
I worried I came across as ‘uppity’ in that post but it’s true. I’ve had amazing opportunities to see the world. And I’m only just getting started. I worry sometimes that I annoy people on social media in regards to my travel updates. But I’m to the point where I don’t care. Why should I? I work hard to take these trips. I spend a lot of time planning. I spend too much money on guide books that I don’t often spend much time reading. (Don’t tell my fiance that).
I can’t let life bring me down. So I can’t travel the world 365 days a year. I have responsibilities here. It should be enough that I travel at the very least once a year. It should be enough that I have seen more of the world than most people I know. Every day I am yearning to see another place. Or hell, go back to a country I’ve been to just so I can experience it again. I need to try to remember to look on the bright side of things. Is immersing myself in all things travel a good or bad thing? I’m going to go with it being a great thing! Why not, right?
Until next time…
My new motto.
Do you have a ‘go-to’ move when your wanderlust strikes? Do you have a certain film that satisfies your yearning for travel until you are able to go on a trip? The movies I tend to gravitate towards aren’t the best movies ever made but some of them just get me, you know?
Joshua Jackson, Leonor Varela, Timm Sharp, Ruthanna Hopper, Dennis Hopper
Chris McKinley, recent college graduate, is backpacking through Europe with 2 friends and is in Pamplona, Spain for the Running of the Bulls. There he meets Adela in his last few days of ‘freedom’ before he starts his career. In the film he participates in the bull run, sees a bullfight, has his backpack stolen, and deals with an interesting (to say the least) owner of a bar, played by Dennis Hopper. He has has to deal with his friends, Ryan and Michelle, a couple that are at the end of their relationship. He falls for Adela, in between calling the US and receiving voice mails about his new 9-5 job. *Spoilers* In the end he leaves Adela and his friends go back to the US. You don’t see Chris going home, you see him walking, in an ambiguous ending that leaves you wondering, did he go back to Adela or did he go home to start a career, a job that he didn’t seem to be that excited about? I like to think that he went back to Adela and and said screw the man! The movie inspires me. My favorite line is “Promise me…Do what scares you.” Really, do what scares you. Because even if it scares you…no, terrifies you, it is more than likely exactly what you want. But do you have the courage to do so? I hope Chris had the courage to do what terrified him and staying in Spain with Adela was what scared him.
The soundtrack is great too. So fun and upbeat, my favorite track is “Si, Si, No, No” by Maria Conchita Alsonso. The part of the movie that song is played is, ahem, pretty damn sexy as well. You won’t soon forget that song or that scene! Besides the obvious reasons why I love the movie the scenery is stunning! It was filmed in Pamplona during the actual Running of the Bulls and then in the Spanish countryside. Spain is such a gorgeous country and every time I watch this movie I am inspired to go and enjoy that same scenery. The only issue I have with Spain is that I want to see all of it and it will be hard to narrow it down in a 2 week vacation! Before seeing Americano I never had a desire or yearning to see Spain. I figured I’d go eventually but it wasn’t at the top of my list. It is right now, in this moment, my number 1 spot to see after our Belgium and Netherlands trip this year. I am inspired to know more about Spain, to understand the history and customs. When I think about Spain it makes me feel like I could be going ‘home’. That may sound crazy to some of you but I don’t care. Everyone is a little crazy, right?
“The story of our life, in the end, is not our life, it is our story.”
I’m an awful blogger. But it is a new year! 2014 will be the year of change. Out with the old and in with the new. 2013 was a good year, it was a fulfilling year and a year of major decisions. Lots of change already and it is only the 5th day. I got a new job! I’ve said this for about a year now but I’ll say it again: “Only until you work for the government do you realize why the government is so screwed up.” I’m happy to be leaving my job with a facet of the government. I will be going to a private hospital and my commute will be 10 minutes instead of the 35 minutes I now drive! What will I do with that extra hour every day? Maybe blog? Great idea.
I finished up my first semester of school. I finished up with 2 A’s and 1 B. After 12 years out of school I could not be more pleased with myself. Yes, I’ve patted myself on the back a few times. School starts up again on the 13th so I hope to keep the momentum going. School is honestly very easy for me. Maybe because my degree is a field I have worked in for years. But I found it laughably easy at times. Maybe I will continue to be lucky in that respect.
Another change we made for 2014 is our New Zealand trip. As in…we aren’t going to New Zealand (insert cries and wails here). It’s just too damn expensive for us at the moment. The flight alone will cost close to 2000 dollars. So we decided to be smart. And go back to Europe instead (insert squeals and laughter here). I LOVE Europe. I could live there (as most of you know). We are going back to Belgium to see family and see more of the country. I want to take Angie to Ghent, Bastogne and I’d like to finally see Brussels. We are going the first 2 weeks of October which should be good. Hopefully the weather will be nice. I looked at weather for this past October and it was really nice so maybe we will be lucky. We will be in Belgium for 9 days and then off to Amsterdam for 6! I love Amsterdam but I’ve only been one time and it was for maybe 10 hours. This time it will be for 6 full days! We are staying in a cute little rental apartment there, right on a canal (which isn’t so hard to come by in Amsterdam). The hotel in Belgium (Martin’s Bruge) and the apartment have already been booked thanks to generous amounts of Christmas money we received. I have a huge list of must-see’s in Amsterdam we have to attend to plus I want to see Haarlem, The Hague, Gouda, Delft, the list goes on! I also have a friend who lives about 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam so that will be nice to meet up with her as well. Its going to be an amazing vacation, I’m really looking forward to it. Any Netherlands recommendations for us novices? Must-see’s or must-avoid’s? Let me know in the comments!
Will write more soon. Right now we have a blizzard outside our doors and I’d like to sit in front of the window and watch the snow blow everywhere. Stay safe everyone!
Life sure has a way of getting me distracted from writing, huh? It has been months since my last blog post.
Let’s see. What have you all missed?
1) I started school.
2) I went to Europe and back and was sick the entire 10 days I was there.
3) I started planning New Zealand for next year!
4) I started writing a book.
My life revolves around travel doesn’t it? I just wish I could do it more often. But epic trips around the globe once a year are more than most people I know can take so I should be grateful.
So, I went to Belgium, France, Italy and Switzerland. The moment I landed I was sick. And I was sick for a week after I got back. Bronchitis, sinus infection, and not quite but close to an ear infection. I had a fever the entire Italy portion of the trip and by the time we got to Switzerland I had lost my voice and had a fever every day. So, while I was near death (at least in my mind) there are a few things I can take away from that trip:
Italy is busy, busy, busy. The driving terrified me but Italy is beautiful! And I had an amazing pizza outside of Pisa.The French countryside is everything you would dream about.
Switzerland is absolutely gorgeous. I actually thought that the Swiss countryside was more beautiful than Italy!
Mont Blanc is stunning. And we drove right through it.
Belgium has the most beautiful summers. I’ve only been in the fall or winter.
I wish I could say I enjoyed my vacation but I didn’t but that was due to being so sick. On our way to Italy we stayed in Gex, France, right over by Geneva Switzerland. GORGEOUS area. Oh my Goodness, the views were incredible. Unfortunately the place we stayed at was pretty awful and we hated it. It was dirty and loud and after 6pm there is nobody at the hotel working. There were a lot of shady characters around. No AC, no fan, and it was hotter than hell.
I enjoyed Pisa and we stayed at a really great bed and breakfast called Holiday House Ospedale. Its a 3 bedroom house, nice kitchen and a nice decent sized bathroom. We ate in a lot (to save money) and the kitchen suited our needs. The only downfall was no AC and it was HOT (and I had a fever so that didn’t help). The owner, Simone, was awesome and so incredibly helpful. He didn’t live in the house with his family but he was there a lot and sometimes he’d be there all night, at his desk working. It made us feel better, we knew he was there just to check in on things. I saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Guess what? It leans. We also went to Lucca was a gorgeous little walled in town and we LOVED it there! I think my mom wanted to buy an apartment right there and just stay!
After we left Italy we went to Lucens Switzerland on our way back to Belgium and stayed at William and Camilla’s Bed and Breakfast. LOVED IT! We went walking around the city, went to the grocery store and bought some amazing food and cooked in our amazing B&B. By then I was well in the throes of being about to die from illness so I was in bed by 9pm and I slept like a baby. The temperature was perfect that night, I opened the window, put the fan in front of it and slept for a solid 10 hours. The next day we did some more walking around and then had to leave. But the owners are awesome and they even make you breakfast the day you leave! We enjoyed our stay. The B&B was really nice, everything was furnished with Ikea. I hope to eventually go back to Switzerland and I’d love to stay there again. Oh and they had a Mac computer to use.
All in all it was a good trip. But I am ready for another already! I feel like I spent a lot of money to just be sick honestly. But…it is definitely a vacation I won’t forget! It was fun traveling around with my mom. She’s a character. I think I learned a lot about her on this trip (and not all of it good) but that is normal I think. I love you mom!
Some of those pictures are taken with a camera phone in a moving vehicle. You take what you can get!
I started school. Health Information Technology. Its not French. Its not a travel related field. But it is a field that allows me to work from home, to work part time and still make good money. Its a job that I can leave and come back to if need be. I really enjoy school. I already work in the healthcare field and, so far at least, I already know a lot of the material. So that makes it easy. I took my placement test today. Scored great in the English portion and scored so bad in the math portion. It was to be expected. I’m not surprised. In 2.5 years or so I will have my degree, take a certification exam and go on to a career, hopefully.
Now, onto the fun stuff.
We already have dates figured out and a rough itinerary. We will fly into Auckland and rent a car. We won’t see much of the South Island, we’ll mainly stay in the North. Here is what we have so far.
Fly to LA on November 5th, 2014
Leave for Auckland on November 6th
Land in Auckland on the 8th
Auckland the 8th, 9th, leave the 10th
From Auckland we’ll stop to see Hobbitown and then go to Roturua
Rotorua the 10th and leave the 11th
From there we’ll head to Lake Taupo and stay in that area the 11th, 12th and leave the 13th
13th head to New Plymouth
13th, 14, 15th in New Plymouth
The 15th we leave and head to Wellington and stay the night
On the 16th leave Wellington and take the ferry then train to Christchurch
16th, 17th, 18th in Christchurch
Leave the 18th to fly back to Auckland
18th, 19th, 20th and 21st in the Auckland region.
Some of the places we stay for a few days will also include exploring areas around it. We won’t spend so many days just IN Auckland but we’ll take buses and trains to other places in the area. We are going to skydive in Taupo and go to Waitomo caves while in the Auckland area so we can see the glow worms. There is a city a few hours from Christchurch called Kaikoura which has really great marine life. From Auckland we’d also like to see The Great Barrier Island and Hauraki Gulf Islands. The good thing about our itinerary is we will only need a rental car for 5 days which will save us some money.
I’ve been doing some research on where to stay in Auckland and in Christchurch. We are youngish gay couple who like to eat out and take pictures and we love any kind of place with a view. Any recommendations? I’m finding the hardest city to be Christchurch. With the earthquake I don’t know what is an area we should stay in and an area we should avoid. I’ve heard a few things about Auckland and some areas being more dangerous than others. Any thoughts on this?
Oh and I started writing a book. I don’t write every day or every week. But it will be about a mother and daughter and travel. That’s all I’m telling you. Give me 10 years…it should be complete by then.
After New Zealand we will spend 1.5 years or so planning a wedding. We decided to go for it and do a fun ceremony and reception. And even though it is years away, I am trying to decide on a honeymoon. Would it be crazy to go to Paris again?
Paris…I just can’t quit you…
While sitting here
Dealing with this
I dream about
The best advice I can give anyone is to close your mouth and open your mind. Go out and see the world. Because until you do, you haven’t lived. If you can’t afford to right now, don’t worry. Eventually you will. Put a little bit of money aside each check, even 5-10 dollars. Save it. And then go on that amazing trip you’ve yearned for your entire life. It pains me, to see my generation, sitting idly by as their life passes them by. They have no desire to experience something completely out of their comfort zone. They are the stereotype, the typical Stupid American we hear so much about. They have no desire to educate themselves, to realize there is a huge world outside of this country and there is so much to see. Countries filled to the brim with deep, rich history. It was amazing to me to walk around Krakow and imagine life for the Jews during WWII. Or walking through Auschwitz imagining what went on there. To go to Bastogne, Belgium and see the tribute to America. To stroll through Paris and imagine life in the jazz era. You see…I feel like I’ve lived. I feel like I have. And I want to see so much more. This hasn’t quenched this thirst, this incredible need to see more. When I travel I want to feel something.
“Travel is rich with learning opportunities, and the ultimate souvenir is a broader perspective.”-Rick Steves
I have a rough itinerary for my trip in July! As my followers know I am not really a fan of itineraries but this at least just tells us where we are staying and what to see in each city! Just a little over 2 months to go and I am ridiculously excited about it! I leave St Louis on July 17 and arrive in Brussels, Belgium on the 18th. We start our epic journey to Italy on the 20th. We will be staying in Gex, France that night. The next morning we drive the 5 or so hours to Pisa, Italy. We are staying in Pisa and on the 21-24th we’ll be there. So really only 2 full days but we’ll arrive pretty early on the 21st.
So that is the stickler. From Pisa where do you go if you only have 2 full days? Is 2 cities in one day too much if we start early? I know that Volterra is definite. My mom aches to go there and we just have to go! I was thinking Siena too. Are there any other hilltop cities that we’d only need half a day in? I know our evenings will be spent in Pisa. We will have a 3 year old with us so we can’t spend our nights all over Italy (as much as I’d like that!). But at least I’ll see Pisa during the sunset. Looking at google images it looks stunning! Any recommendations? I’ve been all over Trip Advisor and other travel sites looking up restaurants in the Pisa area. We will have a kitchen at the B&B there but I know we’ll at least go out to dinner or have a big lunch somewhere. Are there any ‘must eat’ places?
The day we leave we are driving from Pisa to Lucens, Switzerland to stay in what will probably be an absolutely beautiful bed and breakfast. If you google Lucens and B&B’s I’m sure you’ll figure out where we are staying. Lucens looks gorgeous! Switzerland as a whole just seems incredible. Angie is going to let me use her camera and is hoping to buy a new lens for it. She is also letting me use her Lensbaby. I’m glad I have 2 months to learn how to use that.
Gex, France (close to the Swiss border into Geneva)
Pisa, Italy (and surrounding hilltop towns)
Any recommendations for those areas? Leave it in the comments! I love hearing from my readers. I, of course, will do my own research. It is what I am the best at. But I love personal stories.
This entry is kind of all over the place but its Friday, allergies are a bitch, the weather is dreary and I can’t stop dreaming of Italy…
On a serious whim I decided to go to Belgium in July. My mom is spending at least a month there and I thought it would be fun to see my family again and also travel around with my mom. My brother had the bright idea to take my mom to Italy for a few days. We’ve been trying to plan and sort out how we wanted to do this. We thought a train would be fun but that seemed to require a lot of planning and figuring out. We figured a plane would be the easiest thing to do but possibly a bit pricy since its already April. Yesterday I talked to my brother in the morning and he said last night he was sitting down with his wife to book hotels and flights and figure it all out. Well, he called me yesterday afternoon and it turns out we are driving. And on the way we are stopping in Switzerland! I know it isn’t much but I have always wanted to see Switzerland and see the Alps and now I am going to! We are trying to figure out where at in Switzerland we are going to stay. Bil wants to stay either in the Alps or somewhere with a view of the Alps but doesn’t want to drive too far. Judging by the comments I received on Trip Advisor and the research I did too we will probably have to do a 7 hour drive from Belgium. I think we should either stay in the Lucerne or Geneva area. Lucerne looks so beautiful so I am hoping I can convince them to do the 7 hour drive!
After our afternoon and night in Switzerland we are driving to Pisa, Italy. They found a cheap bed and breakfast with decent reviews, about a 30 minute walk to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It has a kitchen which will help us. For all of us to stay there (4 adults, 1 child) it will cost us roughly 60/each for 3 nights. Once I stay there and the trip is over I will tell you the name, I don’t want to give anything away until I can give a full review. We’ll have the car so it’ll make going to other cities in Italy so much easier. I really want to take my mom to Volterra because she is a HUGE Twilight fan and I think Lavinia wants to go to Siena. I’m pretty open to anywhere in Tuscany as long as I can get some gorgeous pictures of the rolling hills. I’m going to take Angie’s camera and she is going to buy a better lens for it (a better zoom) and I think I am going to bring her Lensbaby. I have a few months to practice!
On the way home from Italy we are going to stop in France for an afternoon and night so we’ll be in another country! I have no idea where they want to stay there but I am hoping somewhere near Strasbourg but ultimately I will let Bill and Lavinia decide. I’ll be happy going anywhere in France. I was hoping I’d get away for a day or so and see Paris again but I think this is probably a better plan. I’m really looking forward to this trip. I think it will be a great experience to travel with my brother and his family and our mother. I may drive them crazy with my camera though. Is it bad that I can’t wait to do the totally typical picture of holding up the tower of Pisa? I’m going to get my little niece in on it too. My only regret about this entire trip is that Angie can’t come with us. She wouldn’t be able to get off work and she also doesn’t have the money. Although she is super excited to redo the bathroom while I’m gone! It was supposed to be a surprise but she’s not real great at keeping secrets. :)
Any readers with any advice on where to stay in Switzerland on our way to Italy or a nice town in France to stay on our way back to Brugge, Belgium? Leave it in the comments!
Do you ever just want to get away? Pack your bags and go? Do you question how your life is going and what you are doing with it? Do you worry that you are too old to fulfill one dream and too young to fulfill another?
That’s life, I suppose.
I blame turning 30. I’m not old by any means. I had no issues turning 30. I wasn’t scared, I didn’t cry about it, I didn’t become fearful at mentioning how old I would be. But at 30 I’ve decided that life just isn’t worth living unless you are living. Are you picking up what I’m throwing down? Are you catching my drift? Should I add a few more cliches so you know what I’m talking about?
I work a normal 9-5 job (or rather a 6-2:30 job). I sit in a little cubicle and push paper around my desk for 8 hours a day. Luckily I have a big window with a big window sill so I’m not stuck with no link to the outside world. And in those 8 hours, while doing my job, all I can think about is when I can leave. Every day I listen to travel podcasts. “Shall I go to Paris, Ireland, Amsterdam, Sweden or Finland today?” is what I ask myself around 8am, as more co-workers filter in. I turn on my MP3 player and listen to a French movie, not because I can understand even half of what they are saying but because its a different language than what I am used to hearing. I go online to the Tunein website and select a radio station from France or Belgium or Poland just so I can hear a few songs in different languages or even just listen to the DJ talk. When I get home I check out websites like Trip Advisor, Virtual Tourist or websites for expats and dream some more. Every other day I switch the background of my computers to another location.
I know that right now I can’t pack up and leave. Its not an excuse, its just the Gods honest truth. I have a fiance here, a condo, a car. But this 8 hour a day job, this paper pushing, this monotonous job is the precursor to the life I want to live with Angie. I want to be the person that says “Oh, last week we went to Paris!” like its the most normal thing in the world. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Wouldn’t it be amazing to know that in 6 years where you live will be paid off? That your car will be paid off, that all you have to pay for is car insurance, phone, and electricity which in reality doesn’t cost much. I can’t pack up and go right now but it sure is amazing to know that by the time I turn 37 this paper pushing job will be a thing of the past. It gives me hope on the worst days and its a little bit of sunshine.
Every day I dream about Paris
Every day I dream about Belgium
Every day I dream about Poland
Every day I dream about Finland
But mostly…I dream of Paris. I miss Paris so much I feel it in every bone in my body. There is an ache for it. An ache to experience life there. To live there and breathe the Parisian air and befriend the French and understand them and know them. I will forever be grateful of the time I’ve spent in Paris, even if it is never enough time.