Follow:
Topics:
All Posts By:

Laureen

    And All the Rest  --  Travel Around the World

    It’s My Life, Not My Vacation

    Some things just gotta get done.

    Some things just need doing, even on the Grand Adventure. We can’t ignore certain things. It’s a reminder that this is our life, not our vacation.

    Back home I had a manicure and eyebrow wax every three weeks and a pedicure every two months.  As we move around the world it’s been a valuable lesson for me to learn to do these things on my own, both saving time and money. Although I hate plucking my eyebrows – but I try.

    But every three or so months I pay to have a professional get me waxed, buffed and polished and it is so very nice. Here in Croatia I even had a facial, my first in over a year.

    This week we also had our teeth cleaned.  It had been 8 months since I saw my dentist in Gig Harbor and I was ready! I found a dentist close to our house and we paid $60 cash.  It was way more painful than any cleaning I’ve ever had in the states. She used a grinding tool which probably isn’t approved in the US. Hurt like hell! Bright shiny smile!

    Next week Arne will need to find somewhere to have his final tetanus shot, six months after the dog bite in Thailand.  We feel lucky that experience wasn’t worse and that we have as yet had no other visits to the emergency room.

    Laundry is always needing to be washed and groceries need to be purchased and meals made.  Just like home.  We still gotta sweep, clean the toilet and wash the dishes.  We still need to manage our finances and pay our few bills. Always a good reminder this is not a vacation.

    Planning “where to next” is a constant – and not always as fun as it may sound.  Details as we move about the world need to be coordinated, arranged and confirmed.  This is often more time consuming than you might think and can be frustrating.  A part of the life we have chosen and we have developed a system. Currently we are planning our January and February detinatona – a very busy time of year for travel so prices are higher and lots of consideration goes in to our decisions.  Needs to be done though or things fill up and we are out of luck.

    Today we went shopping for new swimsuits.  I bought a suit last June and another in January but when you wear your swimsuit more than any other thing you own they fall apart fast.  So I got a new one today, and so did Arne.  I try not to shop for much, but there are just some things we need to buy from time to time – to keep the Grand Adventure grand. Shopping is not my thing, but hey – I need a swimsuit so…

    It’s an interesting way to live, a constant learning experience.  We are making it work, taking care of the details.   Most days are more about fun and less about work and we try to just go with the flow.   It’s just my life, not my vacation.

    Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

    A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Do you ever think your family is crazy? Do you have that family member who is nuts? That black sheep who is a challenge? That selfish person who demands constant attention? Jealousy amongst family members?

    If you have ever had the thought that your family is wacko, read A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley and suddenly your family will seem totally normal!

    This is an exceptional yet disturbing Pulitzer Prize winning story of family, betrayal, love, hate, greed, madness, infidelity, abuse, and small town gossip. It has it all.  Loosely based on the story of King Lear, Smiley puts the family drama in 1970’s Iowa farmland, pitting family members against family members.

    The story is told through the eyes of oldest daughter Ginny on a 1000 acre family generational farm.  Smiley’s brilliant character development pulls you in as each character in this family makes you both love and loathe them. Smiley has an exceptional writing style with the unique ability to lull you in as you read along and then Bam! The unexpected has you sit bolt up and go wait – what?  More than once I found myself suddenly struck with the unexpected – in the way only a talented writer can accomplish.

    Five stars for A Thousand Acres. I really enjoyed this book.

    And All the Rest

    Oh Beautiful

    My first time being out of the USA on the 4th of July. It’s just another day here in Croatia. And like all the other holidays that have passed since we left the country seven months ago, we mark it with a mention but no fanfare.

    The thing I am thinking about today however is my divided country. So very divided.  And I wonder if it will ever be united again? I think about how united we were after September 11th. I think about how much we as a nation have changed since then.

    No matter where I lay my head I am and always will be an American.  I did not embark on the Grand Adventure to get away from America. I’m sad when I hear people abroad making jokes about my country, which they do.  Not to me directly but in conversations I overhear. Sigh.

    America, America God shed his grace on thee.

    Be proud America. Crown thy good with brotherhood. 🇺🇸

     

    Travel Around the World

    Good Morning Croatia

    Chapter Nine

    We are back!  It’s been seven years since we visited the beautiful Mediterranean country of Croatia. When we were here before we explored in detail the Istrian Peninsula in the north and made our way to the remote Lake Plitvice National Park in the remote Northeast. Lake Plitvice remains for me one of the most amazing places I have been on this planet.

    So this time we are south. Exploring the ancient towns and marvelous sights on the Adriatic. We are now in Dubrovnik and though we have only been here two full days we are awestruck. So beautiful this “rock” that is Dubrovnik.

    The old town surrounded by the four-story wall is much, much larger than many similar places we have been. The sand freebeaches (rocky) are small pockets hidden in and around the 100’s of coves that are created by this rocky terrains. The literally thousands of boats in the harbor range from five foot skiffs to 400 foot mega yachts.

    We will be here for two weeks. I think we will find it difficult not to be tourists here. There is so much to see, to do, to eat, to enjoy. Arne’s mom joins us next week. So we will play tourists with her and I think it will be fun. But tonight we take a peek at a local attraction when we go to an outdoor performance in the historic old fort and see Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

    But in addition to playing tourists (seeing the islands, riding the cable car and a cooking class are all on the agenda), we must find time to do routine things too. Everything from manicure and pedicure and haircut to having our teeth cleaned is on the schedule while we are here.  Making sure we take care of the everyday things while enjoying the Grand Adventure is important.

    So Dubrovnik here we are! Show us whatcha got!

    Travel Around the World

    Blessed in Bulgaria

    Chapter Eight Comes to an End

    Bulgaria – Wow. Entirely unexpected and everything I want in the Grand Adventure; sun, sand, sea, mountains, rivers, lakes, history, food, wine and friendly peeps.

    All of this wrapped up in an easy to navigate and incredibly inexpensive little country. 

    Bulgaria is da BOMB. I would come back in a heartbeat.

    But where are all the Americans?  Helllllooooo? We spent 30 days here and we met two Americans (on our second day).  Seriously  YOU GOTTA COME
    HERE.  

    People still imagine it as a communist country assuming gloomy grey sad people waiting in line for bread.  Not even.  Bulgarians are lively, smiling (and well fed) with a proud entrepreneurial spirit.  Infrastructure is pretty good, a new subway is open in the capital, most people speak a bit of English and Bulgarians have put their communism days behind them (although crumbling abandoned buildings and former factories are a constant reminder of those days) and are heading fast and furious into their future.  

    Tourism is going to grow.  It can’t be helped. I’m so glad we decided to come here.  Feeling Blessed in Bulgaria. A very special place.

    Chapter Eight now comes to an end.  Today marks seven months on our Grand Adventure  and time to move on. Thanks for a lovely visit, Bulgaria and for introducing us to another Balkan state! We are so glad we came.  We have been very Blessed in Bulgaria.

    Next up Chapter Nine – Croatia/Montenegro/Slovenia.

    Away!

     

     

     

    Health, Fitness & Fashion

    To the Camino!

    Training body and soul for the Saint James Way

    For the past month here in Bulgaria I have become very cognizant of everything that goes into my mouth.  I have been cutting back on so many things, including alcohol, as we step up our preparedness for our 500 mile Camino de Santiago hike.

    Nine weeks till lift off.

    We are training for this hike pretty much everyday with our 8-15 mile hikes 3-4 times a week, my 4 mile run 3 times a week as well as yoga daily.

    Eating healthy

    But I knew I needed to do more so I’ve upped the protein and veg and reduced the carbs and sugar  (all easier to do in Bulgaria than in the Seychelles) and drastically cut back on the alcohol.

    Haven’t had a G&T since leaving the Seychelles.  And in this heat that isn’t easy.  We have had a little beer and some wine but only when we dine out.

    Hiking several times a week.

    Clearly this reduces calories and also saves money.  But mostly I am striving to be in my best possible condition nine weeks from now – both body and soul.  Because the most important thing is to avoid injury or sickness on the trail.  So starting out healthy is key. And being mentally and emotionally ready for the journey is important too.

    Although I am not a particularly religious person, I’m excited for the spiritual journey that is the Camino de Santiago.  I read a lot about pilgrims on the Camino and everyone’s experience is different.  For me spirituality is staying present and grateful all while opening myself to new and sometimes a bit frightening experiences.  I can do it .

    We purchased some scallop shells the other day to

    Urban hiking in Old Town Sozopol

    hang from our packs marking us as pilgrims.  This is tradition and says “Buen Camino” to others.  We expect to meet  and greet a lot of  pilgrims.  This too will be a new exercise for us, as we spend the majority of our days right now only with each other.  The Camino is a community in which we will participate for five or six weeks.

    This too will take practice in the weeks ahead.

    Camino ready!  Focused now and preparing for the challenge. Fab and Fearless.

     

     

    Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

    Exit West by Mohsin Hamid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I finished this book but couldn’t stop thinking about the characters. Exit West is a beautiful love story with wonderfully developed characters.

    The story is both realistic and torn from today’s headlines all while being somewhat mystical and even a bit “1984”.

    As their city crumbles around them in war and political unrest two young people are thrown together and fall hard in love and lust. Escape becomes possible through a rumored system of “doors”.  I couldn’t decide for myself if the doors were meant to be magical or more like an Underground Railroad. Hamid leaves it to your imagination.

    But going through the doors is only the first step to building a new life in an unfamiliar country – one where the welcome mat is not out.

    And in the end, drifting apart, finding new focus, but forever being grateful for each other during a tumultuous journey of survival.

    Exit West will make you grateful for the things you have and the people you love.