This is our first time to be in Italy for the Easter holiday, which is the second biggest holiday in Italy (after Christmas of course).It’s a huge holiday for the Italians and families all plan a big weekend together.
Being in Rome, Vatican City would be the ultimate Easter celebration but we are in Tuscany and there is a lot going on here as well.
All over Italy, special Easter foods are as important as the religious aspects of the 4 day holiday weekend.Cultural heritage over the years, created special foods by Italian mama’s who specialized in “schiacciata de pasqua”, an Anise flavored Easter cake that they only make for Easter once a year.Baked goods are packed with sugar and spice and loaded with religious symbols:
Giant chocolate Easter eggs are all over the stores and a big deal for the kids, and I mean Giant as in 1.5ft tall or more!
Dough in the shape of rings symbolizing the Crown of Thorns! (just looks like a circle to me but hey, not my hardwork rolling out that dough!)
My favorite is the bread made with colored Easter eggs woven inside of it.
The Traditions of Easter vary all over Italy, some are loaded with heavy duty religious symbolism:
People dressed in robes of white with masks and the very look the American KKK’s sadly borrowed from the Catholics, walk through town, carrying Mary throughout the square, with torches and singing softly.
This first parade usually on Thursday before Good Friday, symbolizes Hope, when Mary is searching thru each church in town for her son, Jesus.
Good Friday, the second parade/procession is somber and sad, and the white cloaks change to black.This is a sad parade and the black symbolizes Death, and Mary finding her son crucified.No one speaks, everyone is non smiling and silent as they walk with Mary and or Jesus thru the town squares.Many sick in wheelchairs are pushed in the procession and people line up behind them as they walk from church to church.
Some towns do this in daylight but some, and the one we visited, Camiore, does it at night. All throughout the town, the people have been working for weeks, placing wooden structures on top of shutters, over doorways and on the walls of houses, churches and store fronts, all lined with matching votive cups full of oil to light the town.
Every store and house turns out their lights and the entire town is lit with candles for the procession.Its really authentic and beautiful, harking back to the days of old.
The towns do not pay for this and all the store owners, businesses, and local homes participate at their own expense and its very extensive and beautiful.
Not all towns wear the hooded cloak, which I prefer, and instead just wear a more normal Catholic priest type robes. Or have black friar type hats on.
Florence, is known for the big Easter Sunday celebration in the morning.The lighting of the fireworks.“Scoppio del carro”.(Explosion of the cart)
They have a very decorated tall, 30ft cart, pulled by a white ox team that is decorated with flowers and herbs signifiying Spring, with the cart packed full of fireworks and pyrotechnics brought to the town center at the Duomo.
Escorted by over 150 soldiers, musicians and locals all in period dress (they love love to get dressed up in a parade in Florence).
Inside the Duomo, a mechanical Dove is suspended on a wire from the alter that is released and goes whizzing thru the church with a lit fire to arrive at the cart to ignite the awaiting fireworks, blowing off them into the air and celebrating with a BANG! (now that is some sort of massive Insurance nightmare there for sure! That would never happen in America with all its rules and insurance and lawsuits)
All with the locals in huge abundance surrounding the square to witness this amazing feat, with all the local church bells banging to announce the moment.
And as long as no one is hurt, nothing catches on fire, why not have a major Chinese New Year styled Easter!The Duomo square is PACKED with people so you have to get there really early and stand in line for hours, so we will have to enjoy “YouTube” replay on this one, as much as I’d love to go there. Go to the 2 minute mark for the fun part!
However you choose to celebrate, in Italy, there are many choices, the churches are all decked in finery and flowers, and the towns have all been waking up, cleaning up and getting ready, as this also signifies the Tourist Season is officially back open!Winter slumber is over, and all the merchants are returning to the stores, restaurants that have been closed since New Years, have the cute bistro tables back outside with fresh flowers and ready for a hot summer.
Spring is here, Italy is open for business and awaits you.Imagine Travel Tours would Love to be your custom tour advisors, arranging and organizing everything for you.We do all the work so you don’t have to.Guided tours, driving you to our favorite towns to hopefully share a festival or two with you.Beautiful Villas and Farmhouses are arranged for you and your group.
Are you thinking of traveling soon to France? One of the best short courses I have seen. I really wish someone had this available to me back when I started! Hope you enjoy it! Click here to watch the video!
The 12th day of Christmas my true love said to me…
No, not the song, just the 12th day of Christmas as in The Epiphany or the Adoration of the Magi who came to Bethlehem 12 days After Christmas by following the comet and bearing gifts for the baby Jesus. Not something that is normally taught in America, or not as how I remembered it.
January 6th, the 12th day after Christmas is a big deal in Europe. Actually, the night before, 11th night is a big deal with old folklore stories including a witch and gifts in a stocking, (kind of like combining Halloween and Santa together!) but day 12 is THE day.
In France they celebrate with the Kings Cake or Galette des Rois where they hide a tiny figurine of Mary, Joseph and Jesus for the lucky eater to find (hopefully not with their tooth!)
We’ve always been in France for Epiphany day so this was our first Italian celebration and wow is Florence the right place to be. It’s an entire processional of fully dressed and decked out people who are re-enacting the 3 Wise Men walking to the live Manger in central square Florence. The entire villages and royalty are represented in full period clothing, including Eagles, Owls, donkeys, goats and horses. It was site to behold!
I think I prefer the parade to the cake! What are your thoughts? Enjoy our photos, it was a fun day and a wonderful new experience and such a great surprise. I love learning new traditions and history and who doesn’t love a parade?!
I love walking thru the towns of Italy and seeing it as a Scavenger Hunt. Every corner might reveal itself to be a street artists masterpiece; or just a quick reminder to have fun, share the love and don’t take life too seriously.
The need to express themselves to share with the world just to make us happy!
I love that they bring this art to the masses on the corners. Graffiti or art? Like Banksy, these unknown artists give me joy when I find them on a corner. Not expecting to find them or now, on a hunt to go find them, I love when I have success!
#OIOIII #BLUB are two of my favorite Italian street artists. I have no idea who they are, (I will find them one day!) but I love sharing them with you. Come with me, and Imagine Travel Tours and go on an Italian Street Art hunt with me. We love sharing our adventures on our Luxury, Custom tours with YOU.
Wow what a wild night! We decided to venture out for what we believed and turned out to be, one of the greatest fireworks shows on earth. We planned the spot arrived hours early and prepared ourselves for camping out, French style: sipping Champagne in the park.
Then came the people . . . and more people. By the time the fireworks were ready to begin we were fearing for our safety. No Joke. At one point the police drove 8 blue vans with a motorcycle in the lead though the crowd of thousands, displacing people willy nilly. These shots are before it got crowded!
The French themselves are incredibly tolerant and peaceful. I applaud them and after observing them tolerate people stepping on their belongings, toes and fingers multiple times I was amazed that the only time a fellow got riled was when a rude youth almost stepped on his child rather than go around. I on the other hand was another story. I am not sure where the feeling of invasion of personal space comes from but I seem to suffer from it rather badly. It was not the French locals causing such issues but the large groups of people whose culture seems to know no personal boundaries. They thought that was ok to push, shove, lean and generally make themselves at home on my lap. When I mentioned that I would enjoy a wee bit more elbow room they seemed really put out. I therefore clarified myself a bit and the issue seemed to resolve itself. Then the little gypsy child tried to run off with the backpack that I was standing on. Sneaky little so and so . . . Oh and then this happened . . . ??
This guy was making a delivery amongst 1000’s of people packed so tight it took him 5 minutes to pass in front of us ha ha ha.
Later back at the Tower the music began and the show started in earnest. All was put aside as the singing and general merrymaking began. There was a part of me that cried out,” God, just get it over with, start the bloody fireworks already so we can all go home!” Then they did start and while holding my belongings securely and being incredibly spacially aware with Darla in tow, I had the incredible pleasure of enjoying a display of music, enthusiastic singing, light and pyrotechnics incorporating the iconic Tour Eiffel to an amazing effect. Just cool, I kept thinking how cool is this?!?
The show ended and the crowd slowly parted as we stood still just waiting for the space to breathe again. Eventually we said goodbye to the neighbors we liked 😉 and made our way down the street.
We stopped a block or so away to take a picture for Darla’s mom and then continued on a bit more.
It was then I looked back and saw a large plume of smoke rising in front of the tower and wondered what was on fire. I took this picture and left it at that till we got home. Turned out a fireworks truck accidentally caught fire.
My final rant: I am glad we did it. I am glad we got to experience the whole thing but I will never put us in that situation again. I felt that way even before we heard the news about Nice. We were so vulnerable there. We endeavor never to be in a situation where we could be victimized and this was undeniably that. The police are woefully ill equipped to deal with these kinds of events. It is and should be our responsibility to care for our own safety. We will not be exposing ourselves to this kind of situation again.
With regard to the cowardly, despicable act in Nice last night, people who don’t value their own life will never value other peoples lives. That is the challenge we all face. How to live and thrive on this planet and allow others to do the same? Everyone inherently knows this, yet so many in power disregard the truth for greed and power. Assholes! K nuff said, to all my family and friends all around the world I love respect and miss you all. Till we meet again, peace out…
The correct way to pronounce 9 French brand names you’ve been saying all wrong
Who hasn’t had one of those slightly embarrassing “seen-it-but-never-said-it” moments with a high-profile foreign brand?Especially with a French brand.
Brands hailing from francophone speaking countries are tricky for an untrained ear, considering French is a language you can’t really pronounce phonetically.
But be it because of a language barrier or just simple unfamiliarity, below are some of the most frequently mispronounced French brand names accompanied with a Parisian’s pronunciation.
Merci a Lucas Paszkowiak pour la prononciation en Française.
1. Yves Saint Laurent
Yves Saint Laurent
The French fashion house was named after its founder Yves Saint Laurent who started the brand with his partner Pierre Bergé in 1961.
YSL is known for pioneering androgynous styles for women such as, Le Smoking suit, arguably the most classic tuxedo suit for females.
YSL sits alongside elite fashion houses like Chanel, Dior, Prada, and Louis Vuitton.
In 1837, Thierry Hermès opened his Parisian workshop crafting leather saddles and harnesses for carriages.
Hermès has expanded to specialize in luxury accessories, leather, clothing, and perfumes.
“Just to make sure that our customers are happy we also still dress horses as well as helicopters, cars, bicycles, boats, dogs and the occasional leopard,” the company notes.
L’Occitane en Provence
3. L’Occitane en Provence
L’Occitane en Provence
L’Occitane en Provence is an international retailer of skin care, fragrances, makeup, men’s products, hair care, and home products.
L’Occitane was founded in 1976 by Olivier Baussan and is based in Manosque, France.
5. Le Pain Quotidien
Le Pain Quotidien
Le Pain Quotidien, which translates to “the daily bread,” is an international chain of bakery-restaurants founded by chef Alain Coumont in Brussels, Belgium in 1990.
Part cafe, part restaurant, Le Pain Quotidien is known for its rustic bread and communal tables.
Founded in 1828 by perfumer Pierre-François Pascal Guerlain, the French perfume house created scents for royalty, most notably French Emperor Napoleon III, earning Guerlain the prestigious title of being “His Majesty’s Official Perfumer.”
In addition to its exquisite fragrances, the luxury brand is known for its cosmetics and skin care.
After almost a year, we are departing France for at least a few months to explore regions we have never been to. Some places you may have never heard of, so I thought, rather than just showing a map, I would show photos of Where we are going. That way, you will get a real idea of where we will be exploring and posting from. Unsure what type of WIFI we will have so it may not be daily like you are accustomed to but the photos will be Awesome as the places we are going look Spectacular.
We are leaving Paris and heading East towards Germany but stopping in two beautiful French Cities – Nancy and Strasbourg. Then we will be saying Merci, Au Revoir to France and Guten Tag, as we head into Germany! Oh no, another new language, we barely learned French!
From Crazy Ludwig’s Castles, and the Black Forest, to naked massage health spas in Baden Baden, we start our exploration of Germany or really, Bavaria, Southern Germany. (I have NOT decided if this Okie can bare it all in a all naked health spa though!)
Heading down thru Bavaria, exploring the country of the Black Forest, the famed German Castles and Hitlers hideaway at the Eagle’s Nest, it will be a new and very different History we will start to learn as we travel.
Laufenburg Baden und Schweiz
Briefly crossing into Austria to see Salzburg and then heading straight South to the shores of Slovenia. To say “Dober Vecer” (good afternoon in Slovenian)
Yes, you might know where that is, because Donald Trumps wife is from there! ha ha little Political humor there for you! Slovenia has a tiny stretch of gorgeous beaches and is located just above the top of Croatia. We start our Coastal Tour at Piran, Slovenia and then head down the coast into Croatia: Roving, Pula, Zadar, Split and the capital of Dubrovnik.
Briefly into Montenegro and its gorgeous beaches and ferry over to Puglia, Italy in Bari.
Buon Pomeriggio, Italy. (Good Afternoon in Italian!) We are exploring the Heel of the Boot of Lower Eastern Italy. Puglia, is undiscovered by most Americans as its hard to get to, but the French, Spanish and other Europeans know about it, but we are hoping its still slower moving than the beaches of France and Spain that are too full for us.
We head from the lower heal, back over to the top of the boot, to the areas most of you will know: Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Naples to see Pompeii and Capri.
From the touristy spots, we head down to a little more off the path to Sicily. Land of the Godfather! Good Food, Gorgeous Beaches.
If you’ve noticed, Yes, there is a theme in all these locations; they are mostly ALL beach cities and towns. Water and sand are what we are in search of! France, Spain and Portugal, weren’t our thing beach wise so far. Ah, to find a home on the sand and water. Hoping this journey might find us our final Home Away in the Sun and Sand.
Taking a car ferry from Sicily, we then go to Sardinia and then another car ferry, back in to France’s Island of Corsica.
Taking another car ferry, we come back over to the mainland of Western Italy to hike the lovely cities of Cinque Terre, after a fast stop in Pisa.
Cutting back across Italy, from Bologna to end in Venice!!! Hoping we miss the Huge crowds of August, and get a bit cooler, slower September in the water city. That is the GRAND SUMMER TOUR!
Whew I’m exhausted Before we leave! Seven Countries, Six languages, we will be SO well rounded and educated by my birthday in October. Gotta get my tour books, history books read and highlighted and learn learn.
Come along, enjoy the ride from the comfort of your couch, and we hope we entertain you. Thanks for stopping by and we LOVE to hear from you 🙂
No chance of a tropical storm here. Incredible pictures show luxury resort complete with sandy beaches, palm trees and clear blue water inside enormous German hangar surrounded by snow. With sandy beaches, clear blue water and palm trees, this looks like a spectacular and luxurious sun-kissed resort. Holidaymakers can be seen relaxing in swimming shorts and bikinis. Even the occasional flamingo can be spotted.
Fun: Despite appearances, not everything is as it seems at Tropical Islands
The ‘resort’ is actually located on the site of a former Soviet military air base in Krausnick, Germany, inside a hangar built originally to house airships designed to haul long-distance cargo. And despite it looking like temperatures are through the roof – outside the giant hanger it is actually snowing.
As these incredible pictures show, the resort contains a beach, a lagoon, and water slide and adventure park. Guests can enjoy numerous restaurants, evening shows and can also relax in a sauna.
Cold: Snow surrounds the giant hangar which houses Tropical Islands
Guests can also enjoy numerous restaurants, evening shows and saunas
A range of options are available for stays, from the basic to luxury. Accommodation includes quaint looking cottages and even beach tents. As well as flamingos, free-flying canaries also fly around the site. It is believed that the hall which Tropical Islands is located in is the biggest free-standing hall in the world.
Popular: Tropical Islands attracts up to 6,000 visitors a day and in its first year attracted 975,000 visitors
As well as the thousands of visitors each day, approximately 500 people work at the site. Tropical Islands opened to members of the public in 2004. Incredibly, the hangar, which is 360 metres long, 210 metres wide and 107 metres high, is tall enough to enclose the Statue of Liberty.
OMG!! I am Literally Drooling!! This is one of my favorite websites. We are soooo close and yet so far away right now and missing the March show, argh! Who wants to meet me in September??? Oh my this is beyond YUMMY, enjoy 🙂
Wow, What a great article, I learned a lot and thought you might enjoy it too! This is what we hope to do in the future, taking people on Tours. Would you want to come be our guests and have us be your tour guides? Three-day trip to Paris includes shopping, cooking, dining class
Found some good advice online from a great blog site:
The French Girl Beauty Rules: Makeup Artist Violette Shares Her 8 Essential Secrets
Photographed by Taylor Jewell
As the fashion flock settles down in Paris for the last leg of the spring 2015 collections, that age-old question resurfaces once more: What is it about French women? The country’s unofficial motto—to bear the torch for a kind of covetable, casual cool that relies heavily on mussed-up hair and minimal makeup—is on full display this week in front rows and sunny sidewalk cafes alike. “In each country, I think there is an idea of what beauty is,” suggests the Paris-based editorial makeup artist Violette. “But for the French, it’s very particular: What we want is to be ourselves—not a better version of ourselves. We feel like it’s better to be used to something than to try to change it. So we think: What style can I have with this face, and with this hair? That mentality is 100 percent French.” Still, she admits, there are a few local secrets for how to look perfectly imperfect, without ever trying too hard. Here, Violette offers a glimpse into the French girl’s beauty bible with her eight essential rules for a Paris-approved definition of pretty.
Rule #1: Prep (Don’t Primp)
“French women treat their ‘base’ as best as they can—so we try to have amazing skin, and an amazing body, and amazing hair, so we don’t have to do too much else,” says Violette. Her complexion routine happens to be fairly involved, but we’d expect nothing less from a disciple of the school of Joëlle Ciocco, the legendary Parisian facialist whom Violette calls “a skin god.” After massaging away all of the day’s impurities with La Roche-Posay’s cleansing milk—always with her fingertips to increase circulation—Violette rinses with water and follows with the brand’s calming cream. “Then, in order to make my skin drink, because it needs nurturing, I use these little glass capsules that you break open. One is called ‘granions de manganèse,’ and the other is ‘granions de sélénium.’ I get them from the pharmacy,” she explains. As a final step, Violette slathers on a gel cream called Oxelio Topique, another French-pharmacy staple. “It helps my skin fight aggression, like stress, pollution, and bad food.”
Rule #2: Practice Everything in Moderation “The way to have good skin is not actually about what you put on your skin,” Violette admits, in spite of her multistep facial routine. “It’s about what you eat. French women try to eat organic as much as possible—and as little sugar as possible. We’re more concerned about sugar, not so much low-fat.”
Rule #3: Only Go to the Gym If You Feel Like It “A French woman is like a wild horse—she is very rebellious, and she’d rather kill herself than go to the gym!” Violette says with a laugh, before admitting that the workout trend is starting to pick up steam in the City of Light, even though it was nearly nonexistent a decade ago. “We need to take pleasure in everything we do,” she continues, explaining that even newly popular classes, like the barre method, should be fun—the philosophy being: “Never get stuck in a hardcore, rigid habit.”
Photographed by Taylor Jewell
Rule #4: Forget About Blowouts “French women want amazing texture with their hair,” confirms Violette, referencing that coveted lived-in look commonly seen on the likes of Caroline de Maigret,Constance Jablonski, and Aymeline Valade. “We like to shampoo our hair, air dry, then wait a day. When you wash your hair the first day, you don’t know what to do with it. The second day, it looks much better,” she says. (If and when Violette does get a blowout, she is careful to plan her appointment for the day before she actually needs to look good.)
Rule #5: Commit to Regular Cuts “French women like their hair to be very healthy and shiny, so when they wear it messy, it doesn’t look dry and damaged,” according to Violette. “We’re much more about looking for a good haircut than a good styling product,” she continues, pointing out that most French women like short or shoulder-dusting crops—which, admittedly, puts her own chest-length hair at odds with her countrywomen. “I actually get my hair cut at Eva Scrivo in New York,” she admits. “I find that American hairstylists understand the long-hair culture more than the French!”
Rule #6: Say Yes to a Red Lip Bardot and Deneuve might be best remembered for the black, feline flicks they scrawled onto their upper lash lines, but French women don’t really use eyeliner, says Violette. “I think we’re more about red lips,” she claims, listing MAC’s cult-classic lipstick in Ruby Woo as one of her all-time favorite bullets. “That’s the identity of a Parisian woman.” It’s how you wear a crimson or scarlet shade that makes it fully French, though, she insists. “Red lipstick is a fashion accessory. So we won’t wear any other makeup with it. Then our hair has to be messy, our skin has to be perfect, and we’ll just wear jeans and heels because the lipstick makes the statement.”
Rule #7: Bring Light (Not Shadow) to the Face “We never contour,” Violette says of an inherent dislike of brownish shading powders or creams. “For French women, contouring is very scary, because it changes the sculpture of the face. It’s much more about adding highlights,” she explains. “They catch the light on the cheeks, and on the Cupid’s bow of lips so you don’t really need contouring.”
Rule #8: Make Your Smoky Eye a Little Bit Messy “The other makeup that is really French to me is the smoky eye—but it’s a messy smoky eye with a creamy texture,” contends Violette, who points out that dégradé lids, “sparkly effect” shadows, and perfect lashes are the opposite of chic, as far as French women are concerned. “We’re very lazy! We’ll just use one product, put it all over, and blend it with our finger. Then we’ll [groom] our eyebrows, put on a bit of blush and concealer, and go.” Her personal favorite is Dior’s black eye pencil, which she applies at the roots of her lashes to make them appear darker, before scribbling it across her entire lid, “like a kid would,” and smearing the pigment with a tiny bit of pharmacy-procured calendula lip balm. “Just a little bit so you have dewiness. French women don’t like powder shadows,” she adds firmly. “They’re too complicated.”
Saw this cool post on one of our favorite, fellow Bloggers. Thought you would enjoy it and be sure to click on the photo. Cool read! Enjoy with your morning coffeeThe stony gaze of the statue upon his executor says it all. Most of the bronze “men” that once watched over Parisian streets and public squares of the French Third Republic met a most […]
Scottish white terriers were recorded as early as during the reign of James VI of Scotland, who reigned between 1567 and 1625. The king ordered that a dozen terriers be procured from Argyll to be presented to the Kingdom of France as a gift. Sandy and brindle coloured dogs were seen as hardier than those of other colours, and white dogs were seen as being weak. At various times during the breed’s existence, it has been considered a white offshoot of both the Scottish Terrier and the Cairn Terrier breeds.
There were also reports of a ship from the Spanish Armada being wrecked on the island of Skye in 1588. This ship carried white Spanish dogs, whose descendants were kept distinct from other breeds by Clan Donald, including the families of the Chiefs. Other families on Skye preserved both white and sandy coloured dogs. One such family was the Clan MacLeod, and it was reported by their descendants that at least two Chiefs kept white terriers, including “The Wicked Man” Norman MacLeod, and his grandson Norman who became Chief after his death.
George Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll, chief of Clan Campbell, bred a breed of white Scottish terriers known as the “Roseneath Terrier”. Another breed of white Scottish terriers also appeared at this point, with Dr. Americ Edwin Flaxman from Fife developing his line of “Pittenweem Terriers” out of a female Scottish Terrier which produced white offspring. The dog seemed to produce these white puppies regardless of the sire to which it was bred, and after drowning over twenty of these offspring, he came upon the theory that it was an ancient trait of the Scottish Terrier that was trying to re-appear. He rededicated his breeding program to produce white Scottish Terriers with the aim of restoring it to the same stature as the dark coloured breed. Flaxman is credited with classes being added to dog shows for white Scottish Terriers towards the end of the 19th century.
This was quite interesting fact and surprise to us as Darren’s family is the Campbell Clan, so now we know he had something to do with Bella being here! haha no wonder she’s a Daddy’s girl!
A West Highland White Terrier, photographed in 1915
The person most closely associated with developing the modern breed of West Highland White Terrier is Edward Donald Malcolm, 16th Laird of Poltalloch. Malcolm owned terriers used to work game, the story told is that a reddish-brown terrier was mistaken for a fox and shot. Following this Malcolm decided to develop a white terrier breed, which became known as the “Poltalloch Terrier”. The first generation of Poltallochs had sandy coloured coats, and had already developed prick ears which is a trait seen later in the modern breed. It is unknown if the Poltalloch Terriers and Pittenweem Terriers were interbred. In 1903 Malcolm declared that he didn’t want to be known as the creator of the breed and insisted that his breed of white terriers was renamed. The term “West Highland White Terrier” first appears in Otters and Otter Hunting by L.C.R. Cameron, published in 1908.[25
Not your typical travel Blog but we are in Scotland and England tracing our Ancestry.com so we decided to figure out Bella’s as well! Found it interesting to know where she came from. I had always heard the hunting story as the original of White Westies but did not know the other stories that seem to have come before the Malcolm original stories.
The Irish and French love Scotties, closely with English and Scots. You see them all over walking down the street but are more rare in the US. Personally, we of course think they are the best and cutest! But we know those are fighting words so don’t take offense as we are very biased 🙂
There are so many amazing sites and things about Scotland. We tried to narrow it down to 5 that summed up the feeling. Everyone should visit at least once in their life.
The Land and it’s beauty. It felt like we really experienced most of all Scotland has to offer in topography. Arriving by ferry on the ocean shores with its crisp air, serene beauty and quiet lifestyle. To the rolling hills and Huge pastures of the lowlands and Midlands. You were shocked at how much land with so few people it felt like! It is just mind boggling after living in Southern California. Land land and more land. To the Lochs and Highlands, of what you think IS Scotland. The misty rain hanging over the lakes (lochs). Tall mountains with waterfalls, and a lot of Pine trees which I wasn’t expecting. The Troon beaches of Ayr, which are very South Carolina feeling with scrub brush and Big sandy beaches. Really diverse and quiet pretty all around. One can feel life all around you.
Scotch the “Water of Life”– So says Darren. This one of course I can’t really agree on because everyone who knows me; knows that Champagne is MY Elixir of life. But for men, Scotland is to men what Champagne France and Paris is to women. Rugged outdoors with fine locally made, Single Malt Scotches, a mans world! The Whiskey Trail is the region of Scotland where you can follow Scotch Distilleries and do tastings like you go to Napa to taste wine. Beware however, Scotland has a ZERO tolerance for drinking and driving so be sure to have a designated driver!
History– So we’ve been all over where History has been in England, Ireland, France, Italy and even America, but there really is something about the stories of Scotlands history. Perhaps, because so many movies have been made and Mel Gibson made you know them; or you just know more about a lot of the names shared like Robert the Bruce, William Wallace and more. Driving down the road and a castle popping up and you read the history and its facts, and you actually have read about them in school. Wars you remember in movies and you are standing on the field that it actually took place! You can still FEEL the history coming off the land and the buildings you are in. The haunting bag pipe music really helps send it thru you too.
Fresh Scottish Salmon! I haven’t eaten Salmon since the Fukushima meltdown and I don’t like farm raised so to be finally able to eat wild caught Salmon in the cold waters of Scotland was a thrill for me. And boy is it good, the smoked salmon especially from our favorite small smoker we found: Marrbury Smokehouse, oh man this place was the best! They too have a castle!! Randomly we met the owners far from their restaurant in a town called Perth. They were so fun and nice. Unfortunately they only ship within the UK but if you are ever over in Scotland its a Must visit.
Castles, as always. Always in search of more Castles, Scotland did not let us down. We found some fabulous ones and even better, Actual Castles from Darren’s lineage of his Campbell Clan. So exciting to see in person what we’ve researched online and then be standing in it! Cannot imagine being a current descendant of direct lineage and knowing you OWN this castle, even if its been turned over to the National Trust. Crazy cool. (many of the gentry had to turn there lands/castles/manors over to the National Trust due to the Very expensive taxation put on them) TO SEE MORE OF SCOTLAND: HTTP://WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/BELLASTRAVELS1
Welcome to our new blog! This is our first attempt into the world of blogging so bear with us and love to know feedback.
You are all invited to search the archives and categories as we are sharing our stories, both good and bad in an effort to keep a record for ourselves. As well as, to help you avoid the pitfalls and possibly benefit from our experiences in many different areas of moving/traveling abroad; as we pursue our dream of an adventurous lifestyle with the world as our home.
We want to stay in touch with all of you as you enrich our lives so much. Have a look around and let us know what you think. Check back often as we will be updating the site frequently!
As a married couple with similar and varied interests we will have many perspectives and interests such as, Organic lifestyles, Skiing, Kitesurfing, Health, Dog Care, Housesitting, Sailing, Expat experience, Financial strategies, Technological challenges, and many other subjects. Thank you for being here and sharing the love.
We would love to hear from you anytime about new and cool places to see and if there is anything we can do to make the site easier to use.
Arriving by sea to an incredibly beautiful sun drenched rural landscape was not how I had envisioned landing in Scotland. I had pictured beauty, yes, but not the type that evoked such feelings of welcome and warmth. We drove off the ferry into a picture book come to life filled with castles, lakes and incredible panoramas and if that weren’t enough, when I felt tired from driving we pulled over and had the opportunity to be served some of the best smoked salmon I have ever had. Wild caught, house smoked delicious. The best part is it is Scottish not West Coast Salmon, so no fear of neon glow coming from Fukashima, even Darla finally ate Salmon again after years of abstaining! Needless to say we bought quite a bit and have already eaten it all. YUM
The cute girls behind the counter had perfect Scottish lilts to their voices that made me smile. It is very rare that I have heard true Scottish accents in America. Scotty on Star Trek certainly doesn’t count! I am not sure if the Scots just don’t travel much but I rarely have heard it. The Scottish I heard was from my grandmother, who was very hard to understand!
Our arrival truly was a series of events laid out in a perfect universal order and much beloved by all. Could we live here? It is an incredible place and I want to spend a lot of time exploring but the wet cold may limit that. We will be “living” here for the next 3 weeks so the weather is something we shall learn to adapt to. The raw natural vivid landscape is incredible. I can’t wait to get my camera going!
Cool fact, there is a law called the Scottish right to roam that allows anyone basically the unlimited right to go, hike camp and go across almost all land and waterways unimpeded no matter who owns the land. Basically you aren’t allowed to invade peoples privacy, leave gates open, cause damage to crops or go cow tipping! That said, you are allowed to: pitch a tent on any hilltop you have the balls to climb, explore 3500 year old standing stone rings or cairns sitting on tree studded hilltops far from any road. This is a fundamental right set forth by the Scots long in the past. Such a different thought process than in America where, as a child I was shot at on at least 2 occasions for trespassing when I was just “creeking”, crawdading, or adventure exploring! (read, picking fruit). ha ha
Now that we have started to settle and “live” here for a day or two and the rains came over the beautiful hills in perfect Scottish fashion; I realize that there is a cost for the natural beauty and that is the weather! We hope for breaks to enable us to get to some incredible places but that remains to be seen. The British Open is playing at St. Andrews a few hours away, might do a drive by on that one, as unsure on the crowds/parking and Bella. Crazy to think that its happening so close to us.
One of our main goals is both of our ancestry quests here in Scotland. We have spent countless hours on Ancestry.com and have managed to trace both sides of my family here and one leg of Darla’s. We will be visiting the home parishes and looking at here these people live and when.
It is really a very exciting venture and we will lay it all out as soon as we put a few more pieces together. Kinda like an episode of Who do you think You are! I look forward to sharing what we find here and sharing it with you all soon!
The question was: How to get from the Southern most tip of England to Ireland with a dog? The answer was a car ferry, and we wanted the shortest crossing in case Bella wasn’t happy with this decision of transport! The answer to that is high speed ferry and there is only one and that is from Northern Wales across the Irish Sea into Dublin. Off the Isle of Wight, back to the UK mainland of Southampton and up the motorway to North Wales! An all day journey.
We were able to see fantastic Castles in North Wales on our way out to the tiny tip of Holyhead on the island of Anglesey, where the fastest ferry from the UK to Ireland is. Under 2hrs vs almost 4 hrs, at all the other crossings. Irish Ferry is like a giant cruise ship that happens to carry cars underneath. The only bad thing is No dogs allowed on deck; so either they stay in your car or they have kennels on board for them. With Bella having her bed and toys in the car, we chose to leave her for the journey in the bowels of the boat,in our car and leaving me a nervous wreck for 2hrs. All was for naught, as she did Famously and it appeared she slept the entire way and was all groggy as we greeted her on the dock of Ireland. (you are not allowed to stay in the car or go check on your car during the trip)
There’s a huge duty free shopping on the Irish Ferry and lots of good deals so go ahead and shop as we didn’t see that selection for the rest of the trip. Ireland is not big into gift shops and souvenirs.
Our return trip from Ireland To Scotland, was also from a tiny upper North Ireland tip called Larne, 30 min from Belfast and also under 2 hrs. A much bigger, slower, as we covered less ground and not as nice. But, It landed us right on the shores of Scotland at Cairnryan which is a gorgeous West shore of Scotland in the Galloway Park district and just gorgeous country and seashore.
Getting off a ferry and arriving into the gorgeous countryside, with no noise and chaos of an airport or train station and all your stuff and car right with you, is just the most exciting wonderful way to travel we have discovered. The cross over of less than 2 hrs is so relaxing, gorgeous views and no complaints. The arrival into Scotland was much better than Dublin which was commercial and a bit chaotic but not too bad.
We highly recommend it, its not cheap but you have ALL your luggage, your dog, there is NO security which was astounding, they don’t even check passports. Walk all around a huge ship so no cramped spaces, comfy seats with tables, Restaurant and bar (we didn’t partake and it looked like airplane food only a bit better) but all very easy and no cramped leg space. Next time you travel, check it out, we think it is the only way to “fly” now and will always search it as the best solution for future travels.
If you don’t have a car and want to travel on a ferry, you can also be a walk on passenger to the ferry. Unsure how the luggage works but they bring you on via an airport style shuttle and then return you to shore the same way. You don’t have to have a car to travel via ferry.
Our August/Sept house sit is a gorgeous house in the small village of Henley-On-Thames that is 45 min North of London. A boating community on the River Thames, close to Windsor Castle.
And the house sit comes with the great Westie, Bella’s new boyfriend to be. How fun is that, gorgeous house, super cute dog and all for free! that is why we love house sitting 🙂 And the owners seem super fun and nice so on top of all the above, you meet the most interesting people you wouldn’t have in a hotel.
1. Sailing. If you don’t know someone you can pay to sail, or do what we did and introduce yourself at any of the local yacht clubs. If you have skills they will put you to work! See our posts on how Darren got to sail in the biggest race of the year on the biggest boat in the race, 160′ Eleanora. Cowes and Yarmouth are the top 2 towns on the island for sailing and world renowned.
2. Thatched roof cottages everywhere. Straight out of Hansel and Grettle they are everywhere and gorgeous. so many I couldn’t pick a favorite!
3. Every town is so different and has a totally different vibe/feel. Checking them all out and seeing which one is your favorite. Yarmouth was my favorite and Cowes was Darren’s and Ventnor ran a close second for us both.
4. Needles battery. A natural rock formation off the South West Point. You can see it by land or by sea, by taking a boat ride out. Nice hiking, great views but Windy!
5. Car ferry ride to get to the island! If you’ve never loaded on to a giant freighter by driving you car into the bowels of the boat, its a fun experience. Many levels to choose from on where to sit and view the ocean and the shore as you head over to the island. While you are in Cowes, be sure to take the “chain ferry” to East Cowes. a Tiny version of the big ferry and it takes about 2 minutes. So funny and efficient. drive time is 20 minutes and you are there in 2 minutes!
6. (suppose to only be 5 but had to add another.) Enjoying sitting in the countryside of our backyard. Serenity and quiet of trees rustling and sheep baaaing, and even more, Darren outside baaaaing back at them!
1. Castles Castles Castles and more Castles. Wales has more castles than any other country I think! From fully refurbished and decorated to just the outline of what once was, they seem to be down every long road and well worth the hunt for them, we made it into a game to see how many signs we could find. Being there takes you so far back into time you can almost hear the trumpets and footfalls. The heraldry accompanied by the clang and click of metal everywhere. We were thankful that we could not smell what it was truly like but what a romantic place viewed from the future. Some of these castle under went huge battles and sieges. Pembroke Castle is a great example and well worth the visit!
2. Beaches and Gorgeous countrysides – Great beaches with the most incredible low tides ever. Miles of low tide make for great beach walking and countrysides with color that is hard to believe. The land is still mostly owned by Barons but many years ago an agreement was reached between the commoners and the lords that the lands would be open to passage and grazing so it tends to stay lovely and usable by all. Really cool idea. If it was in America it would have long since been subdivided and turned into suburbia and shopping malls!
3. St. David’s Cathedral, A beautiful drive out to the westward point in Wales but amazingly quaint town and then Holy Wow! They built this abbey down in a valley so the Vikings could not see it to plunder from the Sea, it’s that old!! Really incredible architecture and the ceilings and floors are still intact and it it still in service. Don’t forget to go to the artifact room where they have some of the original saxon staffs and a timeline that goes back to 500ad. That is only 150 or so years after the Bible was written!
4. Great old pubs with historical charm, grabbing a pint and getting to feel history. Wondering how many others have come thru the doors and sat at the same fireplace 100s of years before. History and Ale! Naught more need be said!
5. The Abbey in Wye Valley and Dylan Thomas Boathouse Regions. Both tranquil and beautiful. Really wonderful places to visit and walk.
The Glens: GlenArm, Glenariff, Carnlough, BallyGally (my favorite town name!) The Valley of the Antrim area and Glenariff Forest Park rolls down to the ocean to these cute cute harbor towns. GORGEOUS stunning hillsides dotted with sheep are exactly the ideas of Ireland you think you know and expect to see. The Cliffs of Maor are incredible and it becomes obvious why it was named the Emerald Isle! Super cute tiny towns, gorgeous water and the most stunning green hillsides. lots of cute B&Bs along the coast. Although we didn’t get to do the Park it sounded wonderful.
The Giant’s Causeway has so many myth’s attached to the area it is mind boggling, the Irish love to tell tall tales, ha ha. It is actual Basalt columns. Very cool to see.
2. Hamlets and Villages – Quaint and Lovely!
Kilkenny is a quintessential Irish Town, Very Cool
The Oldest Pub in Ireland!
Kinsale was lovely
Cong, Where the Duke of Hollywood filmed The Quiet Man with Maureen Ohara, really incredibly beautiful. Amazingly just a short walk from Ashford Castle!
3. Castles and Historic sites – Stunning, did we mention the Castles??
Its worth all the hype and would love to stay there even at $500 starting rate! stunning. you can hire a horse carriage to tour the grounds but walking is just fine and worth the entry fee. we were given free access as it had been raining all day and sun came out just as we arrived! Scored 🙂 MUST go across the bridge and see the town where Quiet Man was shot: Cong. tiny tiny and cute cute
5. Listening to Traditional music in Pubs When you can find it!
When we found it, it was great but Very hard to find and quite disappointing actually because they start so late. You have to be in a city after 9:30 at night if you want to catch it. No one seems to play during the day ever or even what we consider Happy Hour time frames, nothing before 8pm was the very earliest we found in one tiny town of Doolin. All major cities is never before 9:30. Many pubs play American or UK music which was quite disappointing. I love Rod Stewart of course, but in Ireland I want Irish ditties.
Beautiful as you can see, a definite Bucket List. The big cities we weren’t as happy with as we were the coast and small towns. 10 days, 6 hotels and lots of miles, we saw ALOT. Fun times had by all.
Wow, that was truly amazing! I hope to get lots of pix from the professional photographer they had on board as I was busy grinding out the tacks and helping to set and retrieve sails etc, big grin! Truly a once in a lifetime experience. I met some wonderful people including Pierre Marie, a frenchman living in San Diego and a very talented sailor, from whom I was delighted to take direction from. Also unexpectedly the owners of Stars and Stripes 11 based in San Diego Bea and Lynn Hanna were on board crewing as well. I felt right at home ha ha. Everyone was very supportive and knowledgeable. We blew out a spinnaker on the backside of the island and we all jumped too and handled it and sent another balloon aloft and hardly missed a beat. No panic at all when the sound of a sail exploding overhead went off.
This trip really renewed the peace I feel with the sea. The water really is a deep part of both Darla and I. Speaking of Darla did you see the cute outfit she met me with on the dock! Smokin’
We didn’t think we could, but all things are possible if you want it bad enough right?
Ireland was one of those things! As we leave our time on Isle of Wight, to drive to Scotland, we decided to figure out HOW to get from the southern most tip of England to Ireland and then up to Scotland.
With roads to navigate, ferries to be figured out and hotels for all in between, we are working on FINALLY getting to see Ireland and all its beauty. So excited, and so happy as Hopefully, July will be a perfect weather month and we will be on a fast one week road trip to catch as much as we can.
Stay tuned for great pics and LOVE input from everyone, where to go and what is a MUST see? Egan Family: we need your help on this one! Nigel too 🙂
I am so excited to share the news that I have been invited again, to join the crew of the Eleonora, the largest yacht to ever race in the largest sailboat race in the world! The “Race Around the Island” (Isle of Wight Island)
I truly am humbled and inspired that I have the opportunity to be a part of an incredibly talented group of people doing a world class event. The previous race was small, although a big deal, to this race; the largest of its kind.
Just to give you an idea of the scale of this regatta and the yacht I will be helping to man, I am attaching a few pix from other years races. I have raced several times in the Newport to Ensenada race in California and it is an absolutely crazy start. There are hundreds of yachts there and this race is even larger! We will be starting first at 7am and behind us, it will be absolute pandemonium and organized chaos. It will be fun to watch the smaller, faster boats come up behind us. We are the Biggest but not the Fastest. We will have the opportunity to view close up, some of the finest sailing vessels in the world striving to catch us!!
House Sitting, a fairly newer if not even known concept for Americans but a Big deal and quite normal for Australians where the concept seems to have originated based on activity and websites I’ve read.
Usually House Sitting is a NON paid, (although sometimes you can get paid) gig whereby you, the house sitter, stay in someone’s home whilst they are away on holiday. Usually, again exceptions to every rule, you stay for Free in exchange for taking care of their home and most the time, taking care of pets/animals. You can get house sits with no animals as well.
In Europe, many areas are remote and people need someone in the homes for security reasons and peace of mind to the homeowner for things like taking in the mail and communicating to the homeowners any emergency business matters in the mailings.
Ensuring the toilets are being flushed and kept going, making sure gardeners are coming on time if employed, or you become the gardener in exchange for free lodging! Sending emails or skype feedback to the owners as they travel and can be assured that all is well back home.
We joined a house sitting site, Trusted House Sitters, http://www.trustedhousesitters.com. We pay money to join and the homeowner pays money to join, to give somewhat of a security blanket of both parties being registered to the website with personal information and credit cards. (INTERESTED? in doing this yourself? email me and I can save you 20% on membership) In America it is more common to have to get a Police Report attached to the website. You have to go thru different processes in each State so consult the website for your area. In Europe, it seems people are much more trusting and the process of police reports aren’t needed as much. (don’t mind doing them but they are a bit of handwork to obtain)
Daily you receive updates of house sits available and you email the homeowners to the ones you qualify and want to do. The downside is there are ALOT more house sitters than home owners so you have to be a really good writer and have a good website online to convince homeowners you are the one to stay in their home! Be creative, highlight ALL your skills that help you be a good house sitter or pet sitter.
Then once they find interest in you, normally you talk via phone or skype/facetime to do a meet and greet. Then you both agree and boom you have free lodging from several days to months or even a year in some house sits!
We use the house sits as our itinerary telling us where to go next and finding places we would have Never gone to or thought to go to. You get to live like a local to really see if you like that area or not. Its a great way to test an area if you are thinking of moving. Or its just a great way to see a country/town thru the eyes of those that live there. Really get to Know a place versus just visiting.
However! (you knew there was a catch right?) However, if fancy hotel rooms, maid service and fresh sheets/towels each day is your idea of a holiday, then house sitting is Not for you! Housesitting and living like a local, is well, living like a local and/or a homeowner. Meaning, you have the house to keep clean, do dishes, cook at home, clean bathrooms, bring in the mail and sometimes even mow the lawn! If they have pets, then there is the responsibility of having to be gone no more than 4 hrs at a time to entertain and keep company the animals. Feeding them, loving them, cleaning cages, picking up poo-animal owner type of things. also communicating with the owners is an important part of the house sit as well. Either emailing or skyping to fill them in on the weekly goings on of the household. Being responsible is a Must. Plenty of time to have fun, but just like at home, responsibilities are a priority.
The owners expect you to be them or even better than them, at keeping the house clean and loving and tending to the animals. If you aren’t prepared to share your holiday fun with those duties and responsibilities, then its not a good match. We love it, have met great people, stayed in nice homes, and loved on cute fur babies. There’s been some tougher assignments, not all have been perfect, but all have offered something that was unique and great and staying for free in top Holiday Destinations is pretty awesome.
We are building a resource of personally reviewed places for your perusal!
We use Trip Advisor ALOT when traveling and deciding where to eat/stay, figured it was easier and more centralized to link you to our page there, vs adding it all the time with our blog. You can see Cities and categories, or always feel free to contact us directly as well
clicking on the link will take you to my trip advisor entries. scroll down and they show cities that I have commented on restaurants hotels or attractions. If you are going somewhere, check out where to go or not go, I write my reviews honestly and have not been paid by anyone (darn it!)
Incredibly fun time sailing and racing on the Eleonora for the Westward Cup 2015!
Wow what a Yacht. Huge challenge for me as I am much more accustomed to 50′ and less. Everything is much larger and almost surreal because of the dimensions. You go to grab for a block or tackle and it is almost unrecognizable. It literally takes a full crew just to manage the sail hoists. I learned so much including new types of sails called the fisherman and the Gollywobbler!
When I first came on board in the early morning hours I felt humbled and awed by this magnificent craft. I went around introducing myself to the crew members on board and to the skipper. They all asked if I had experience on Classic Boats before and I had to say “NO”. They were all very nice but I could see the look in their eyes that I had a lot to learn and boy did I. Can I say foremast topsail tack!!
Now I have sailed for a long time and as many of you know I used to live on my 36′ Lancer in San Diego Harbor, but all of this was new to me and integrating into a crew was a challenge all on it’s own. I was able to overcome the fear by focusing on the excitement of learning all this new stuff. I jumped in anywhere I could and pulled sheets with the best of them. My one regret was that I knew I didn’t have the youth in me anymore to have hooked up and flown to the top of the masts, what a view that would have been. Darla would probably be happy that I didn’t do that though, cheesy grin. I did however climb out onto the bowsprit and attend to the sails. That was a rush!
Sailing on a Yacht this large is a different experience with regard to communication as well. The skipper, 1st mate and bowmen have radios to communicate and very seldom do the crews in different parts of the boat see each other. When you are so focused on doing your job sometimes you don’t even have time to look up and see where you are.
Made new friends including a french chap named Pierre who, unbeknownst to me lives in San Diego with his pregnant wife and had sailed with my good friend Joe Saad many times! Very small world. He crewed permanently on the yacht for a year all over the world and came back to help out for this series of races.
What an honor to be here. I am so grateful to have been invited. Thank you to Mr. Zacks and Skipper/tactician Mike MacMillan! Also a shout out to my lovely wife who inspired me to put myself out there.
It is frowned upon for the crew to go around taking pix etc… so I snuck a few and will post them below with some youtube stuff just so you can get an idea of the scale onboard.
So in summary, incredible experience and I say to all of those of you out there who experience self doubt and don’t choose to put yourself out there to be in a position to test yourself and grow, doing the things you love to do, STOP rethink that and see the possibilities to become more of who you are. Listen to the people around you who encourage you to grow and challenge yourself. This lifetime is short and your experience in this life is of your own making! Go for it!
I am going out to practice tomorrow morning early! I am so excited I can’t even tell you. After I do incredibly well in the 3 day series they may invite me back to compete with them in THE big race around the Isle of Wight! We are so lucky to be in the right place! Darla prompted me to talk to the Yacht Club and thanx to her motivation I received a call this evening from the skipper asking if I would like to join them tomorrow as crew! Thank you dear!
Living the DREAM, living abroad; how exciting, wonderful, fabulous, and its ALL the time right?
Well not exactly and not always; And, its ok to admit it to yourself and go ahead and have a bad day. Because sometimes it just is a bad day no matter where you are.
Missing family, weddings, showers, birthdays. Missing just “normal” things like Whole Foods, sunsets, BBQs, your own bed, your STUFF – it will happen. It does happen! Those “things”, sometimes just make your day feel like you can’t take it abroad any longer. In my world I call it my 10th day
Whenever we traveled on holiday, before we moved; it always seemed I cracked on day 10. Meaning, I had a melt down of frustration or crying, because I just wanted to be home in my bed, my house, with my things. I was tired of not speaking the language, my feet hurt from all the walking, tired of the food being weird, taxi drivers being rude, or, who knows what IT was but on day 10, I always seemed to melt down.
Once we ID’d that as a known fact, We knew to always fly home on Day 10. But NOW? Now, we live here and you know what, I had Day 10, it was just a bad day and I had to just let myself do it. Let myself Know, hey its Day 10, but its ok.
Get whatever makes you happy, makes you have comfort: a cup of hot Jo or tea or great glass of wine and just stay home, even if home is a hotel room. Don’t shower, don’t get dressed, just stay there and watch tv all day and surf the web. It WILL pass and then you are back to your adventurous self once again, ready to get going and see new sights.
You are going to feel like a fool complaining about a bad day as a world traveler to your family and friends; boohoo poor you in the middle of Rome feeling Blue! Tell me a sob story right? Well, yes, there are reasons why traveling can make you have bad days even when you are surrounded by wondrous beauty, history and sights. #1 thing I can suggest- is Its ok to let yourself feel it.
Just live it, deal with it and then let it go and get back to the FUN you dreamed of and are Now living. Let Day 10 happen, and then go kick ass sight seeing on Day 11 🙂
Great Question! I was asked recently by a friend planning a trip to the Med, what is the best way to stay connected? I have tried all the different methods of staying connected for both data and Voice. There are many choices and ways to go about it when traveling and will vary based on the individual and their needs.
Traveling short term the best bet is to make sure your current plan has international roaming and a set price plan for the voice and some basic amount of data. Then turn off your cellular data roaming. Then use wifi strictly for data. Once you get to this side of the pond you will find that everyone has free wifi unlike the states.
If on the other hand you are going to spend some time traveling then the far better choice is to simple get a pay as you go sim from one of the many providers. I currently use EE in the UK. I get 10 gigs and unlimited calls and texts for 29 pounds a month. Way cheaper than the US!
Remember to turn off the cellular data and make great use of all the available wifi spots! Be mindful because everything you do except call a phone number uses data now days.
There are a large number of communication APPS you can use to make calls, text and video calls over the internet for free and I will address them in another article soon.
Retired, traveling for a living, Blogging for a living?
You need business cards to represent yourselves. You will meet so many great and interesting people in your travels and if you want to stay in touch, and have a bit more than just adding them to your iPhone directory, a business card still fits the bill. This is our new card front and back info. Hope you like it, we are awaiting their delivery by mail. thanks to Vista Print you don’t even have to go and find a printer!
In reality I haven’t Truly driven in the UK, Darren has but not me, I’m too damn scared!
Forget the steering wheel on the right hand side and driving on the left hand side! that I can probably get figured out and get over.
What scares me to Death is the scariest, tiniest roads on the planet earth! Literally, *(like all of Europe) these are One lane streets, that in reality were really one horse cart or one horse paths, now covered in asphalt and meant to drive cars and Lorries (that’s truck in British!) and wait, drum roll, side by side meaning one in each direction!!!!
Two lane roads, one going each direction, where it was Really meant for one horse buggy not a car with side mirrors! Then they say, hey why not, lets make it two ways! Not a one way road with just one car but two directions AND drum roll again……..And, the locals park on the street as there are no garages or driveways! Now its a 3 lane road!!!!
Buses and double decker ones at that, with large delivery trucks, ALL go thru at 50-60 miles an hour. Lord help me, its white knuckles Daily to get in a car and go somewhere.
Ok now that I’ve done another one of my rants, I will add this: the English and the Europeans are the best damn drivers and make Americans look like babies! They drive doing all of the above and rarely are there wrecks. The best of them? –the crazy tour bus drivers, they drive those HUGE Rock Star buses thru these streets, turning in hair pin turns that a pony would have trouble carrying a rider, and never nick the side of a building or their bumper. Even though they make me faint and or throw up with fear as they come at us in our car, they Always make it with not even a hair breath of space between us, never hitting anyone or anything! just amazing to watch.
I don’t know if I will EVER learn to drive here, I can drive all over California at 80+mph with crazy ”Zonie” drivers, but here, its insane.
No surprise, you’ve heard all the stereo type about English food: its bland, its fried, its well, Its English!
The UK really is trying to shake that stereo type and there are great chefs and gourmet restaurants and a food awakening in jolly old England, And in some parts, they are really getting it figured out.
We had some of the best Thai food I’ve ever had in my life in London. Oh wait, but that’s not English food, that’s because the Thai chefs were cooking! hmmm that’s true. The Indian food in the UK is Awesome and wow hot! nothing bland there. Oh but that is because the Indians are cooking not the British. And yet, the Brits LOVE their Indian food the way Californians love their Mexican food.
Ok, so for the most part, the stereo type English food is well, just “ok” and very bland with no Wow factor. So my question is? Brits love Indian food for all its spices and heat, then why don’t they cook like that in their food?
We did find some REALLY good new food coming out of areas around Windsor in the country, North of London -there are some great restaurants. In fact, this is becoming the foodie area and people come from London to eat at the new restaurants and 5* chefs are opening up and creating super creative dishes.
Manchester has a small chain of private owned restaurants called The Botanists that the food was Wonderful.
But overall, I don’t quite get why England does continue having just “ok” food still. And of course don’t get me started on any menus having ORGANIC food on the menu, it just doesn’t happen ever!
My quest continues to find consistent good food and we’ll let you know as we post areas we are traveling, where we find that good tasty food. The good news is, the best quaint pubs that are old old always serve a great Pint so the meal isn’t totally lost with gorgeous atmosphere and a steady pint to quench your hunger!
Wrong! Laundry in UK/Europe isn’t like America at all. Everything is different.
#1 is Most households do NOT have a dryer and if you are under 55, none of us know what life is like without a standard washer/dryer in America! Ok, so maybe if you grew up or live in Manhattan, you know European styled laundry- maybe.
But where I come from, washer/dryer is a MUST and have always had since University days. No coin ops for me please.
So you get to the UK or Europe and you are in a house, you will find a small, on the floor waist high, (usually in the kitchen!) washer No dryer. Or, in some cases, the washer IS the dryer! As strange/funny as it sounds, and as you probably guessed, No they don’t work worth a damn! (you run the washer load, then click over to the dryer load never removing the laundry)
Be prepared, you will either have a clothes line outside or inside or not at all and you just hang things on the back of chairs.
You ask, why do they not have a dryer? Well I’ve been asking and get kind of a blank stare from people! the standard answer is the electricity bills here are so high no one can/wants to afford a dryer cycle for their electric bill. I’m all for being frugal and saving money BUT I am not for having sand paper rock hard towels to dry off after a nice hot shower!
When we finally settle down and have a flat or a house, we Will have a dryer trust me!
1. Tuscany of course! it REALLY is as pretty as the pictures and sometimes even more. The colors are crazy gorgeous. My Favorites are Assisi, Cortona, Sienna.
2. Rome if you have never been. Its crazy and busy and crowded and there is SO much to see it takes at least a week and really 10 days or more.
3. Vatican City, Yes its in Rome but its Not Rome! Vatican City is its own city and the Vatican and the Chapel are crazy cool and a MUST do.
4. Venice. Go quick it Really is sinking! and its gorgeous and wonderful.
5. Amalfi Coast: We haven’t made it yet and its a must do BUT does need to be done non winter months as I’m afraid all will be shut down. Best to hit this May or Sept for the shoulder months. Love to take a boatfrom Rome vs the crazy curvy road trip.
PS: Yes that main photo is of Florence and No I didn’t put it on top 5. For me, I like it a lot, but not top 5 -but its a must do as well. the amount of leather shops is OVER whelming. and yes the brown leather coat you see in a lot of my photos is my coat from Florence 🙂 soft as butter!
1. London of course! It really is a GREAT city, Love it! You need at least 5 days and that is going all day every day to take it all in: Big Ben, House of Parliament, London Bridge, the Tower, China Town, Buckingham Palace, British Museum and just simply walking around and pub crawling.
2. Bath. Gorgeous gorgeous town, great shopping and walking around
3. Stonehenge. Hint: there are only 4 nights a year you can actually go beyond the ropes and touch the stones so be sure to go then: Winter/Summer Solstice and the Spring/Autumn Equinox
4. Windsor and Ascot and the surrounding country side area
5. PUBS old old PUBS, gorgeous interiors, history and crazy old