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    Everything Else Fabulous

    One Year of Travel

    The Grand Adventure Abroad

    One full year.  On the move.  Out of the USA.  Living the Grand Adventure.

    Yes it’s already been a year.  So very much has happened. So many miles we’ve traveled.  And I am not the same.

    Thailand

    58,000 Miles

    Living outside of the United States as an American creates such an amazing opportunity to really understand privilege and gluttony and consumerism.  These words I use not only because I am guilty of these things but it is how much of the rest of the world sees Americans. Not flattering.

    Cambodia

    What is a surprise is when we are able to spend quality time with someone we meet in our travels and change their view of the average American.  This means more to me than most anything else over the past year.

    My eyes have been opened, looking back to the USA and my friends there, I now clearly see two kinds of people – those who embrace this image of Americans and cultivate it greedily, happily and knowingly, and those who acknowledge it but want to change it.

    To each his own.  I know both kinds.  But as for me and my travels, there is only one way to

    Vietnam

    move forward in our travels and that is to do anything and everything to debunk the image.  In my own little way – one human at a time. One country at a time.  This is not what I expected when I started this journey but it is important to me now more than ever.

    23 Countries

    New Zealand

    We get asked the same questions over and over, and always the first question is “what has been your favorite so far?”.  It’s become a little joke.  We keep telling each other we need to come up with an answer to this question.  But we honestly don’t have a favorite.  We have favorite things about every place we have been.  We have things we disliked about many places.  Mostly our favorite thing is the surprises and education we get from staying a long

    Laos

    time in a place and really feeling the culture, the food, the religion, the life of the place.  That by far is our favorite thing.  I’ve changed in my travel goals – loving the days we truly are not tourists, the days we are able to haltingly communicate in someone elses language, the days we blend in.  Not the things I was expecting – but definitely

    New Zealand

    the most meaningful of all our “favorite” things.

    We’ve learned most people are sincerely nice and helpful and interested in telling us about their country.  They are proud and patriotic.  And yet so many countries are oblivious to trash and litter and pollution and it can really be astonishing.  Feral cats and stray dogs another big problem in so many countries – as a visitor you notice these things, all while being acutely aware that many people have very little and live on the street as well.  In some countries people just can’t worry about dogs and

    Portugal

    trash – they are just trying to find their next meal. It would be nice to see governments addressing all these issues.  But, none of these things stop us from visiting these places. It is part of the Grand Adventure.

    I’ve become more aware of the negative impact tourism has on many places and I am uncomfortable contributing to that.  Europe is very different in 2017 than the first time I visited 1988. We are tourists some days, while other days we steer away to less traveled and under the radar destinations.  But in a global world things begin to

    Bulgaria

    feel the same – tchosky souvenirs start to look the same in Bulgaria and Morocco. Locally handcrafted? Not likely.

    We’ve learned to sleep in beds hard and soft and eat every imaginable cuisine.  We’ve learned food is a great introduction to culture and a great conversation starter but also a comfort when we feel a bit homesick.  A good taco makes me happy when I miss our old life.

    6 Mexican Restaurants in 4 countries

    We embrace technology for communicating with our children and parents and for tracking so

    Seychelles

    much of our travel details.  I do miss my kids but speak with them frequently and marvel at their own personal journey each is on.  I think the coming Christmas season I’ll feel their absence the most.

    Speaking of holidays, they go by in a blur.  Other than Christmas last year in Thailand, most places

    Bulgaria

    we have been,holidays have shown little consumerism and celebration.  In the USA we embrace every little holiday from St. Patrick’s Day to Halloween and have our own unique set of holidays that we make a big to do over such as Thanksgiving and Fourth of July.

    19 holidays abroad

    Croatia

    Holiday celebrations in countries we have been in so far focus mostly on family and religion and food and almost not at all on buying things and decorations or gift giving.  I think it used to be this way in America, but our focus is different now.  As for me, I no longer want the gifts to give or receive.  The experiences we are having are the best gift of all.

    Slovenia

    Sometimes a holiday sneaks up on us.  Because we spend much of our time not even knowing what day or month it is.  When it’s 85 degrees in February or 32 degrees in April my brain and body get confused.  Am I above or below the equator?  Is it winter or summer?  What country am I in?  What day is it?  It’s actually a bit scary how often we have to stop and think about these simple questions.

    I’ve learned how little you need in a day-to-day life

    Portugal

    to feel satisfied.  Although I did get pretty tired of the three sets of clothes I wore over and over on the Camino, in general I don’t desire more than what we currently have in our suitcase.  It’s enough.  I have what is comfortable and works for our life. I still have one pair of shoes in the suitcase that I’ve only worn twice in a year – the low black heel.  I keep looking at those thinking I should throw them away.

    Lost luggage once. Found luggage once.

    I’ve learned to live without a clothes dryer and sometimes without a washing machine. No dishwasher, no movies, no American TV.  Don’t miss it. Don’t need it.

    I’ve also changed as far as what I would describe as “beauty ritual”.  Water conservation in most

    Camino

    countries makes me realize I don’t need to shower and wash my hair every day as I used to.  I no longer wear makeup (except on a rare occasion) and my hair is easy and manageable with a washing every few days. And nobody cares.  Really.  One more thing I can let go of for now at least (and I still get so many compliments on the grey).

    3 hair cuts 

    Occasionally I have a nesting urge – when I miss my

    Spain

    house and garden – but it’s rare.  Sometimes I see things I’d like to buy for a future home but I check myself.  Sure the Moroccan rugs are stunning – but, I really don’t know what my next house will look like so I walk away.  Save my money for an experience instead of a thing.

    Our “home” over the past year, and actually over the past 19 months since we closed the door and walked away from our house in Gig Harbor, our home has been wherever we are at the moment.  When people ask where we are from we say the United States, Washington or Seattle, depending on who we are talking to.  And if we meet someone from the Pacific Northwest we say Gig Harbor.  But really none of

    Tunisia

    those places are home.  Where is home?  Right this minute as I write this it’s Morocco.  In a few days it will be Namibia. On Christmas it will be South Africa.  Home is where I am with Arne at this moment.

    27 Airbnb’s 

    63 other lodgings (boats, hotels, apartments, Kiwi Caravan and Albergues includes 41 nights on the Camino)

    I read more than I ever have in my entire life.  I walk more than I ever thought possible. Yoga is a very important part of our lives to keep us going. I challenge myself at almost 58 years old in ways I could never, would never have even considered at 28 or 38.  I see myself in an entirely different way than I did just ten years ago.  I am better, stronger, smarter, happier and more relaxed than at any other time in

    Morocco

    my life.

    This is not a coincidence.  It is entirely by design.

    I want to influence and encourage other people to seek happiness for themselves.  Not my kind of happiness but yours – whatever that is. I ignore those who push negativity towards me – and yes they are out there. Masquerading as “friends” on Facebook while criticizing our life, our message, our politics our choices and our success.  I don’t ask or expect everyone to understand this journey I’m on.  But it’s not about you is it?  It’s about us and it is exactly what we needed and when we needed it.

    Morocco

    62 books read

    20 pounds lost

    2446 miles walked

    And every day of this journey, nearly every minute of it and every mile has been spent with my best friend Arne.  People have asked if we get tired of each other?  Nope.  In fact the opposite.  We find we are the best companions – encouraging and collaborating better now than ever in our entire lives.  It’s both a test and a testament to our relationship and how we have developed it and defined it over the years.  We celebrate our wedding anniversary tomorrow as a matter of fact.  Yes we do, it seems like we have been married forever, and

    Vietnam

    I hope forever is how long we will be together.

    35 years

    And now year two begins.  Can I do this forever?  I doubt it.  Some times it’s exhausting and frustrating.  Those times are infrequent though so I think I can do it for quit a while longer.  So for the next six months we have ten more countries before heading back to the USA for a two and a half month visit.  Then we will finish year two back in Europe and Africa.  We are already toying with ideas for year three.  But it’s a bit too soon.  Let’s not get

    The family last Christmas in Thailand

    ahead of ourselves.  Take it just a few months at a time is best.

    Thank you for sticking with us this past year and continuing to love our blog because the blog is a labor of love for me.  Tomorrow we fly to Namibia for ten days then on to South Africa where we plan to really relax for three weeks as we end 2017. A year for the record books!

    One year. One fabulous year!  Year two here we come!

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Everything Else Fabulous

    Cats of the World

    Chapter Eleven – The Cat Lady

    I did not intend to become the Cat Lady. It just happened. The Cats of the World have intrigued me and now I’m hooked.

    Of course there are dogs.  Remember the dog bite in Thailand?  But cats are much more patient than dogs – aloof As well and therefore easier to

    It all started with this picture in Bulgaria

    photograph.  And so I do.

    It all began by accident, while traveling in Bulgaria.  It was here where I first began to see many feral cats.  Hadn’t seen cats in Asia (opps let’s not talk

    Croatia

    about why…), New Zealand or Seychelles.  But there they were in Bulgaria sleeping in the sun, rubbing against my leg, strutting down the street.

    The first cat

    Slovenia

    photo I posted on Instagram was a surprising hit with my followers.  So then there was another post, and another and next thing I knew I was stopping to take photos of cats around the world;Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Portugal, Spain and the Camino, Tunisia and now here in Morocco.

    Portugal

    I’m hooked.  But, it’s also sad.  We don’t see the stray dog population like we saw in Thailand and Vietnam (although Thailand was so much worse than Vietnam).  Where are the dogs?  Are they using spay

    Spain

    and neuter practices for dogs and not cats?  We do see some dogs, but the cats outnumber the dogs easily 50 to one.

    Some of the cats look cared for, but many do not.  In fact, clearly some are ill and won’t make it.  The smallest babies seem to be fending for

    Camino

    themselves.

    And so I have become a cat whisperer.  A little kindness and love to the creatures of the world.

    Morocco

    Cats of the world – what will the next countries bring?

    Europe Travel  --  Everything Else Fabulous

    The People You Will Meet on the Camino de Santiago

    My Camino

    Location: Camino de Santiago

    I can’t begin to count the people we have met. Hundreds. Thousands? Unique all.

    Hiking Skirt Lady – Cheerleader  Guy – Peter &Jane – Pennsylvania – Crazy Wine Guy – Dan & Louann – Japanese couple – Argentina – Gail from Sequim – Calgary Ladies

    It’s another amazing aspect of the journey we are on. You can’t begin to comprehend the array of nationalities, personalities, physical abilities, age and languages you encounter amongst the pilgrims on the Camino.

    The Marys – Guy with Dog – Bad Leg Australia – Denver – Super nice Italian Guy – The Brits with the van – Mexican partners – Nebraska

    We can’t remember everyone’s names so we give them nicknames.  “Hey look there’s little Japanese lady.  We haven’t seen her since Burgos.”  Or “Was that South Africa #2 we just passed?”

    So many conversations.  We learn a little bit about a lot of people.  Once again it’s astounding how each person’s journey is unique.

    Sisters from Sisters – Nathan – German tour group – Quebec – Lady/Man? With stuffed Tiger – South Korea – Brazil Guy – Obnoxious Vegetarian American

    A woman from Australia told us she hates the Meseta, it reminded her too much of the Outback. So she took a bus and skipped the entire section.  What??  That was my favorite! So beautiful.

    French boys – Finnish Family – New Zealand – Cute Irish couple – Richmond Virginia – Rogue River – Flower hat lady – Texas Gals

    For weeks we have encountered a British group of
    six walking, and one woman driving a van to meet them at the end of each day.  Another group of Germans also with a support vehicle following but they stopped at the halfway point.  They will return next year to do the second half.

    Old Slow Man – Toronto – The Dutch – Big guy with tattoos – Mexico – Catalan Girls – Guy with long hair – Salt Spring Island – Northern Ireland

    A conversation with  Spanish man who thinks too many tourists on the Camino take away from the “original” purpose – only to find out this guy is riding a bike.  Doubtful many original pilgrims had a mountain bike.

    Mutt & Jeff – Munich – Maia from Australia – Vancouver – Wilkerson WA – Chain Smoker – Guy in my Bunk – Ohio

    At the same time we arrived at the Cruz de Ferro the other day two huge tour buses pulled up on the road and out piled at least 100 Korean tourists.  We had just walked up to the 5000 foot mark while they came up on a bus.  Then they proceeded to walk down the other side making the trail crowded and making me irritated. I was exhausted and they were fresh and fast.  This seems wrong to me to see the Camino done this way, but I’m trying hard not to judge.  It’s hard though.

    Couple celebrating 30th Anniversary – Punk Rocker from Taiwan – Loud Woman on her cell phone – Utah – Munich – Blind Guy with Brother

    On our first day we met an older woman from Australia and she was walking alone.  She said she was slow but could go far.  I’ve thought of her every day since. Particularly on the days where I was struggling, when the weather was bad or the trail was tough. I hope she is still out there. I wish I had gotten her contact info.  I’m worried for her.  This isn’t easy.

    Spanish Six – Curly Redhead – Irish Hiking Club – Scotland – Tattoo Girl – Phoenix – Lost Lady

    In just a few days we will reach Sarria, 100km from Santiago.  We know the Camino will change at this point and we feel sad about it.  Here is where we will be joined by hundreds of pilgrims who only walk the final 100km.  I know the experience will be different starting here and I expect not as serene.  It will also be odd to suddenly be surrounded by fresh new pilgrims we don’t know.  I hope our comrades aren’t lost in the shuffle.

    Seattle – Grey Couple – Slow Walkers – Coug – Hawks Fan –

    What do others call us I wonder?

    We all are here for different reasons with different goals, life experiences and expectations.  But we all share one name in common;

    Pilgrim.

    Buen Camino.

    Miles walked 375. Miles to go 114.

     

     

     

     

    Europe Travel

    The Long Haul

    My Camino

    Location: Camino de Santiago

    Day 14 and there is something happening that hadn’t occurred to me before – mental fatigue. Walking everyday, all day it begins to set in just how long this adventure is, both in miles and in days. At two weeks in I’m astonished at how far we still have to go. The days, weeks and miles unfold ahead in and endless fog and the end seems nowhere in sight.

    And so we settle in for the long haul. 

    After two weeks we have made some adjustments to help both the physical and mental strain;

    1. We are taking days off. Today we arrived in Burgos. Originally we had planned Burgos to be our first day off but it is actually our second. We plan to take at least one day a week off from here on. Originally we planned to arrive in Santiago around
    October 8th. Now we think it will be the 11th.

    2. I got rid of my pack. Arne has changed his mind about it being “cheating” not to carry the pack. I feel so much better now. The service picks up the pack in the morning and it is waiting for me when we arrive at our destination. We have lightened Arne’s load too, putting much of what he was carrying into my pack to take at least ten lbs off of him. 

    3. We are listening to our bodies. Most of our early aches and pains have gone, but we both have colds and the plantar fasciitis has continued  to give me trouble. Today, rather than take a chance of completely ruining my foot we called a cab to take us the last three miles into Burgos. My thinking is better I take a cab three miles than have my whole Camino ruined.  Tomorrow in Burgos I might go shop for some shoes that can provide me some additional support.

    With all that said, we are really thankful to be here.  Each mile has something new be it people or scenery or history or weather. Spain is a gorgeous place and all along the Camino the people are kind and supportive. We have met people from all around the world – Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Germany , France, England, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Belgium, and of course the USA (Nebraska, Ohio, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Florida).

    We have found our comfort zone in our pace and in
    our style of accommodations. Still working out the food however (blog to come on that).  Rain has threatened but only materialized twice and Mother Nature has been very gentle on us and we are very grateful for that.

    Walking side by side with my husband we sometimes go thirty minutes without speaking.  And other times we talk about the future or reminisce about the past or laugh and sing and pass the time in idle chatter.

    Each day is good.  We have settled in for the long haul.

    179 miles so far. 310 miles to go.

    Europe Travel

    My Camino

    In the beginning…

    Location: Camino de Santiago

    It was a relief to finally start walking. I just needed to GO. And so we did.

    Day One. Leaving Saint Jean Pied de Port

    We arrived in Saint Jean Pied de Port France on the evening of August 31st. Went straight to the Albergue we had reserved in advance, located right in the Camino. But at checkin

    On the steep climb on day one

    the very rude owner
    told us we would need to pay again, even though we had a paid in full confirmation from

    Bunk room in Orisson

    Booking.com. Apparently Booking. Com hadn’t paid her, even though we booked months ago. Arne says to her this is between her and Booking.com. She says no, I won’t allow you in the room until you pay.

    Ugh. What are we supposed to do?  We need a place to sleep. So we pay. She is not kind. We are pissed and now need to try and get a refund from Booking.com.

    The Albergue in Orisson

    So I try to put it behind me. I want my mind clear and focused on the task we have worked hard for. We sleep restlessly and are up and ready to go by 7:30am. Step out the door and we are on the path. Here we go.

    The beginning poses a problem. You need to choose. Either only go five miles day one because it is very

    We frequently have an audience.

    steep. Or do the steep five miles and then continue another 12 to the next town.

    Since it was day one we chose the short day. And it was very steep, and also very beautiful. But it wasn’t all that difficult to do just five miles and we were at our stopping point by 10am. Sheesh. What were we going to do all day?

    Water is available all along the route

    We ate lunch at 10:30 because I was starving. We then showered and sat out in the sun to get my hair to dry. But the weather then took a turn so we went and laid in our bunk beds and read for hours.

    We were in a bunk room with a total of ten beds. Arne was the only male. Women seem to outnumber men about four to one.  Curious that.

    Dinner in Orisson

    Dinner for forty people was served at 6:30 and it was really delicious – chicken and vegetables with wine.  We enjoyed talking to other guests and then everyone introduced themselves and said where they were from.  Pilgrims from South Korea, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Brazil, Ireland, Holland, England, Spain, France and the USA.  We briefly told our story about how the Camino was the

    Bread and coffee for breakfast

    catalyst for our Grand Adventure and we got a big round of applause.

    I slept like a log with my ear plugs in and woke at 6:15.  Breakfast so far has only been bread and jam and coffee.  I’m a bit disappointed by that.  I really need some protein when I’m tackling a mountain.  But no protein for this mountain.

    It was beautiful but chilly when we started walking at 7:45.  We had 12 miles today, and most of it up.  But after less than an hour we saw the storm coming.  We stopped and put our rain covers on our packs and put on our ponchos.

    The start of day two

    The rain came.  It was a sideways rain.  Very cold.  Windy and the damp seeped into my bones.  Slogging along the fog so thick we couldn’t see more than 40 feet in front of us.  After an hour I needed to put on another layer.  I was shivering and so cold so we stopped and got out another coat.  Then we continued the climb.  We ate our sandwiches as we walked because it was just too wet to stop.  Slogging on.

    Miserable conditions

    Finally the wind stopped and the rain lessened.  Grateful.  At the peak elevation 4680 feet there was actually someone selling hot coffee.  I think he was an angel in disguise.  That coffee made the

    At the summit 1420 metres

    remaining three miles down much easier.

    We arrived in Roncesvalles 6 hours after leaving Orison. Here we have a real hotel.  No bunk beds.  Happy Hiker! Hot shower, a little yoga, a beer.  Oh the pleasures of life!

    Tomorrow is a long one – 17 miles.  But it is relatively flat and hopefully dry.  Surely better weather than today!

    Our route yesterday, today and tomorrow

    Total so far 17 miles!  Only 472 more to go!! 😳

    Buen Camino!

     

     

    Europe Travel  --  Food & Drink

    Food As Culture and History

    Chapter Nine – Croatian Cooking

    Location: Croatia

    It’s my goal in each country to take a cooking class.  It is always an unforgettable experience – as much about culture and history as it is about food. Unfortunately it didnt happen in New Zealand, Seychelles or Bulgaria. But here in Croatia I’m back at it, and enjoyed last night an amazing cultural Croatian experience at the historic Agroturizam Kameni Dvori

    Coming to Dubrovnik?  Make this a priority. Definitely.

    Our tour guide Marija with Dubrovnik Food Story picked me up right across the street from our Airbnb. I joined one other couple, Americans on their honeymoon from Dallas.  We drove about 35 minutes into the hills outside of Dubrovnik, enjoying the scenic views along the way. Our destination Kameni Dvori in the village of Livorno in the Konovale region. This tiny part of Croatia is about ten minutes west of the border with Bosnia Herzegovina and 15 miles north of the border with Montenegro and is steeped in agricultural as well as border conflict history.

    We were greeted on arrival by Katerina, one member of the 16 member family that lives on this site. The family Mojo can trace their ancestors in this very house back to 1536. Remarkable.

    Katarina welcomed us with two kinds of homemade grappa, two kinds of homemade candy and dried figs followed by a brief tour of the main house which is now used for the cooking classes, a taverna and for dining for guests of the inn.

    The massive open fireplace dwarfs the tiny kitchen where we headed next to make Turkish coffee.  While we sat and enjoyed our coffee Katarina and Marija talked about some of the history of the house and the family. Then it was time to head to the garden.

    Baskets in hand we proceeded to gather the fresh ingredients for our dinner picking tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green beans, celery and parsley.  Then we toured the rest of the garden where everything from laurel trees, figs,olives and pomegranates grow.  We gathered eggs from the happy Croatian chickens and headed back to the kitchen.

    First job was to get the fresh bread mixed and kneeded and set it to rise. Next we whipped a dozen egg whites to a lovely froth, added sugar and flour to prepare the traditional Croatian wedding cake called padispanj. While it baked we popped in to the car and drove to the next farm over where we milked a goat. My first milking experience! Thank goodness for a patient goat!  It was fun, not too difficult and surprisingly warm!!

    Milk pail in hand we thanked the neighbor and looked forward to the goat cheese we would be having at dinner thanks to her goats.  Back to the kitchens we went where it was time to start the fire for the main attraction the Peka, traditional Croatian meat and potato dish .  It takes an hour to get the coals hot enough in the fireplace so while the fire burned we prepared a vegetable soup with hand made gnocchi.  Our gnocchi was not potatoe but made simply with egg, olive oil and semolina flour.

    Next we sliced eggplant and zucchini dipped in corn flour and fried it golden brown on the stove, then let it sit on paper towels.

    When the coals were ready the Peka was prepared – olive oil (produced on the farm) is poured into a large round and shallow pan.  Into the pan goes veal, lamb, garlic, onion and salt.  A layer of potatoes goes on top and then it is placed into the fire and covered with a giant steel “bell”.  Ashes are placed all around to seal and then the bell is covered with coals.  Now it bakes for 90 minutes.  Oh the smell!

    Peka is a complicated and time -consuming dish. Not something you would prepare everyday. It is for special occasions and unfortunately there is no “quickie” version.  If you don’t have a giant fireplace you aren’t going to be making Peka.

    While the Peka was on the fire we hiked up to the top of the property to survey the estate. Here you can see the entire valley and all the way to the Adriatic Sea. We learned more about the incredible history, including that during the 1991 war the Yugoslav Army occupied the village and the estate and the family fled into old Dubrovnik. Luckily the estate was not destroyed, although many things were stolen.  Not everyone was so lucky.

    Back to the kitchen and it was time for dinner. We first enjoyed grappa and figs as well as our own bread with olive tapenade, pickled peppers and cheese from our friendly goat.  Next a beautiful selection of smoked meats they do on the farm and a different cheese from our goat as well as sliced fresh tomatoes and our fried eggplant and zucchini.

    Next the Peka was served and it was incredible.  The lamb so tender and the veal falling apart.  Best potatoes I ever had.  When our platter was empty and we were all full here comes another platter full! All of this washed down with both white and red wine made on the farm. Delicious.

    We ended our Croatian feast with our light and airy cake with a cup of warm fresh goats milk and mint tea.

    A remarkable experience.  I felt very much a part of this family and their remarkable tradition and dedication to their culture and history- all while enjoying a spectacular meal based on sustainable farming and dedication to historical practices.

    When you are in Dubrovnik, make this a priority. And anywhere you travel – slow down and embrace food as culture and history.

    Hvala to Dubrovnik Food Storyand Kameni Dvori. Hvala!

     

     

     

     

    Europe Travel

    Endless Summer

    Chapter Eight – Beat the Heat

    Location: Bulgaria

    From the very beginning we have tried to follow the sun and warmth. And with the exception of some very chilly and very rainy days in New Zealand, we have succeeded.

    We love warm weather, but we also packed for warm weather, only carrying a limited number of clothing for the cooler climes.

    Its easier and lighter of course to visit warm climates. Not to mention the fact that we love being outdoors, always more fun if it’s sunny and dry.  I think growing up in the Pacific Northwest made me want to have the glorious PNW summer – all year

    Our month in Bulgaria is winding down. We have seen short bouts of rain, but overall the weather has been really nice and very comfortable.

    We have now entered full-on summer in Europe. Yesterday was the warmest we have seen since the Seychelles at 91 degrees Fahrenheit, but even here in the Black Sea the humidity is low and the breeze is refreshing.

    I’m not sure I can get any tanner.  I’m not bragging.  I just have this skin that absorbs the sun. I always have.  No one else in my family gets as dark as I do.  It just is what it is.  My grandma used to call me a little papoose. I do have some Native American blood, but my gene pool is more Anglo and Scandinavian than Indian. So go figure.

    As expected Sozopol is now bustling with tourists. By July 1st it should be booming. But by July 1st we will be in Dubrovnik.

    I expect Dubrovnik to be a madhouse.  July and August is peak season, very hot and swarming with cruise ship visitors. I’m mentally prepared to deal with that, and we are lucky to have enough time in that city (two weeks) so we can avoid being in Old Town During the peak hours a day when the cruise ships are in port. It’s the best part about the Grand Adventure, taking our time.

    Croatia will be HOT. Both in Dubrovnik and then in Spilt. Slovenia will also be hot and then August in Portugal will be even hotter. Last week Portugal was experiencing devastating forest fires, due to unusual extreme heat.

    But we asked for it. I’ve made the comment many times that I wanted to live somewhere dry where I could be outdoors every day. I’m there.

    And so the Endless Summer continues as the thermometer soars. Luckily we are always near the water.

    Five days left on the beautiful Black Sea…