Bella’s Travels

Bella’s Travels


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!IMG_1961

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!

IMG_6245Our 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.  IMG_6248Basically 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.

IMG_1039One of our main goals is both of our ancestry quests here in Scotland.  We have spent countless hours on 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!


Top 5 Things In Ireland

Top 5 Things In Ireland

1. Irish Coast Bar None, Gorgeous!


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.


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2.  Hamlets and Villages – Quaint and Lovely!

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Kilkenny is a quintessential Irish Town, Very CoolIMG_5878

The Oldest Pub in Ireland!IMG_5594 IMG_5578 IMG_5580

Kinsale was lovelyIMG_5862 IMG_5867

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??


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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



Kilkenney Castle IMG_5617

Lindsmore Castle

IMG_5677Cahair Castle

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Doweth, TrespassingIMG_6020 IMG_6035 IMG_6081 IMG_5524

Cohb Cathedral, Titantic’s last portIMG_5756

4.  The PEOPLE – They Do seem to smile More!

IMG_5598   11181799_10155715872680408_6609005928104745694_oThe smiles come out even when they are only half!


5.  Listening to Traditional music in Pubs When you can find it!

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Dublin IMG_6092




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.

The #1 Question We are Asked as Ex Pats???

The #1 Question We are Asked as Ex Pats???

“WHY would you want to move HERE??”  “You’re from California? Oh I’ve always wanted to go there.  Wait, why would you want to move here!?”









Those are the two sentences we hear the very most living abroad!  Obviously, after they ask you where you are from, that is the immediate response by almost all. Why do you leave San Diego and America.  Because we CAN?  That seems to be my immediate response in my head. Because we wanted to.  Because there is SO MUCH more out there that we have to see.  Time is short and there are so many cultures, foods, sights, sounds and we want them all.  Oh, and unknown to us, WE have accents, ha ha.  For some reason people guess Canada first then America.Thumbnail_1000_Places

“1000 Places to see before you die” is my Bible and my guide.  A friend bought it for me back in 2000 and I have drooled over it and carried it with me on every trip ever since! As a guideline of areas/places I would have never thought of, never even heard of; it enhanced my already wander lust and made it my burning desire to ensure I highlight every page before I die!  (I use a yellow or pink highlighter and cross out destinations, each time we go somewhere in the book.)   A deep sense of satisfaction comes over me with every area highlighted.  Thanks to this book we have had some crazy adventures like our road trip to Oklahoma and going to “Truth or Consequences, New Mexico” because it was in the book.  (pretty sure Darren tried to burn the book after that holiday. Sorry to New Mexico and the book, but that is one page/stop we can help you to skip!)



downtownTruthorConsequences-with-happy-cloudsBut other amazing adventures have been had due to the book leading us there.  San Miguel De Allende is one of those places. Spectacular.


And Amazing New friends are met, that you would have never known if you stayed in one place.

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Back to why we would leave California and San Diego specifically; really for me,  its because my feet feel like a  gypsy.bowagon  Travel is my drug, its what gets me excited, its what got me thru the worst economic collapse where we had to Fight to stay alive and keep our houses and business going.  The reward was always the trip at the end, the money to get to go on the trip.  Until I realized, 2-3 weeks per year just wasn’t enough to get it all done and I wanted to get started before I couldn’t hike, sail, jump on trains, etc physically any longer. I wanted to see it all and it was always my answer when I asked the question:  “If you were told you had 1 yr left to live, what would you regret the most?”  My answer was always, “all the things I missed seeing, all the places I didn’t get to go”.  My bucket list was HUGE for travel so I had to get started Now! 10733387_10204095564743488_2428940571303395820_o There was a time that we thought we would never leave California, but with each and every destination and trip we took, we realized regardless of how nice California is, it was time for us to get going thruout the world and of course, EUROPE was our go to destination, as it is for most people.  Where else can you road trip to other countries not just another state?  Until we can cross off all those countries off in THE book, we are UK/Europe tethered.  I want to be at a cafe talking to other ex-pats and when they say:  “have you been to …….” I can say YES, and we find that common denominator for all world travelers;  Great stories of those exotic places you have both been to.  Fabulous stories of the locals, the food, the smells and the joy of discovering something new and being able to share those stories with others that have gypsy feet like me. IMG_3211 10704208_10204109922862432_7744364367300381409_oi_1 We can’t wait to see what each new destination brings: people/food/experiences.  You never know when you are on a random island and someone asks you to crew on a 160 foot Yacht! Never know when you find yourself at dinner in Champagne, France with an entire group of non English speaking people, using your iPhone to translate an entire dinner conversation and it works!   You never know………..there are so MANY adventures awaiting and we are so excited to see what that might be.

The incredible adventure of having No Idea what is around the corner,  that is really Why you leave the comforts of home, the love of family and holidays together. Those smells of a new city, the feel of a new guidebook in my hand, learning new languages and more, that is why we we left and how do you explain that in one sentence when someone asks?  Why would you leave California?

You can do it too, even if you start as a one week traveler at a time, who knows when the gypsy bug will bite you and you too will say, How can I leave and do this full time?  The question from us to you?  Why Not?  and When? Come join us at some point on the journey, we would love to see you! And the great news, if you find its not what you want to do forever, Home is always where Family is, and you can always go back!

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