We love that you are traveling with us, “virtually,” on our latest adventures. Thanks for reading our blog and continuing to catch up with us. We started a “catch up” blog last time and continue here. These are some more of the things we have been able to do in the past few months because we are traveling for an extended time. There are also a few musings and observations along the way --
Joined Chelsea, Sam and their friends for a weekend in Riga, Latvia
Chelsea and Sam and their friends planned to go Riga, Latvia for a long weekend in November and they invited us to join them. How cool is that?? For one thing – they invited us to come along, which was awesome. For another, we were in a position to do so! Again – that in itself is so cool! Our flight from Milan to Riga was $185 on RyanAir for the both of us and our luggage. Our modest but absolutely fine accommodations the first night were $25 in a guesthouse and our “fancy” lodging after everyone else arrived was $75 a night. Really good beer was about $18 for a 3-liter pitcher (note to self: be careful when trying to keep up with 20 somethings drinking beer). Riga was SO cool – it is located on the Baltic Sea, used to be part of the USSR, has an incredibly interesting and challenging history, beautiful architecture and some great food! We even visited a striking and fascinating Orthodox Cathedral and the KGB museum. This was such an unanticipated and terrific weekend. We feel so lucky to get to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities.
Spent 10 days on an island on the Thames
We did a Workaway on an island on the Thames about an hour west of London. This turned out to be amazing. Our host was absolutely wonderful and could not have been more kind and gracious. We really did arrive as Workawayers and leave as friends. We built shelves in her attic and organized its contents, posted items for sale on Ebay, did some cooking and baking, oiled furniture, scrubbed the porch and even got to lead a wine tasting with some of her friends! We stayed in her beautiful home and woke up every morning looking out over this historic river as the sun rose in the sky. We went kayaking on the Thames, rode bikes to Hampton Court Palace (which was AMAZING!), enjoyed a pint or two at The Red Lion, walked every day and spent two days and a night in London. This was an absolutely remarkable experience. We hope to return!
Enjoyed an early Thanksgiving in Copenhagen
Last year was the first year that Chelsea was not home for Thanksgiving. They celebrated in Copenhagen with friends and it was awesome – but not the same. This year we got to be with them for “Friendsgiving!” It was sad to be without David – harder than I expected it to be. He was happy and had a really nice Thanksgiving with friends in NYC, but I did miss having the whole family together. But Chelsea and Sam’s friends welcomed us to a fabulous feast, mostly prepared by Chelsea (and us!). We had so much fun shopping and chopping, cooking and baking, and sharing all the carefully and lovingly prepared dishes. It was very odd to be the senior members of this festive gathering. All the dishes prepared in Chelsea and Sam’s apartment were transported to the host’s house in a Christiania bike. It was awesome! Our host’s apartment was on the top floor of a beautiful old building overlooking the lakes and fabulous rooftops. It was an amazing view. I never expected to be in Copenhagen for Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for.
Looked for Apartments in Bristol for Chelsea and Sam
Chelsea and Sam are moving to Bristol, England! Sam’s job is moving him to the U.K. in December. They had to give up their passports in order to get their visas and were not able to travel to look for housing – so they asked us to be their eyes and ears for them. We had so much fun! Over the course of 3 days we looked at 12 flats – each one was unique with its own idiosyncrasies, pros and cons. The Bristol real estate market is moving very rapidly and some apartments we looked at in the morning were already taken by the afternoon. They decided on a fantastic new flat in a building that used to be a church. It’s called “The Parish” and is located in Southville, south of the center of town but within easy walking and biking distance. We are so excited for them and will even get to help them move in. We can’t wait!
Housesitting in Wiswell, England in the Ribble Valley
We just finished housesitting in Wiswell, England, in the Ribble Valley. This has been such an unexpected delight. We are taking care of a beautiful home and 3 dogs. The landscape is glorious. The area is fascinating. And the people are so nice it’s unbelievable. We have hiked, walked the dogs, caught up on work and correspondence, traveled through the Trough of Bowland to Lancaster, toured Lancaster Castle (which was a prison until 2011), drove to York and visited the inspiring and historic Minster and frequented local pubs where we’ve made several new friends! If you want to find out more about how we set this up check out Trusted Housesitters.
I have to say something here about how much we stand out like a sore thumb. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. In Italy, we had a definite language barrier and sometimes we would find that we would be very tentative about approaching people simply because we didn’t have the words we needed to say what we wanted to say. This could be in a train station, in a store or on the street. If we spoke Italian it was quickly evident that it’s not our first language and we had limited words. Well, here we are in Merry Ol’ England and all of a sudden we can speak! We have language in common and can use all our words again! It’s a revelation! But I think we stand out even MORE here, especially in the north of England. It is SO funny. The minute we open our mouths people literally say “you talk funny” or “you’re not from around here” or “what part of the States are you from?” I don’t think they get many American tourists in this area and we are a bit of a novelty. But consequently, we strike up the most interesting conversations. When we bought some meat at the market the other day we got unsolicited advice from 3 different people on how to cook it, where to get herbs we were looking for and thoughts on an amazing wine shop (Byrne’s – it IS amazing!). People are lovely and warm and inviting and welcoming.
Even though we are a long way from home and we don’t even know where “home” is anymore, the people we meet make life special. We are truly grateful for this chance to travel and rediscover that the more we learn about others the more we find that we are all the same. We love our families and children and friends and care deeply about one another.
And with that, we are relatively up to date! Stay tuned for our next blog which will be from the Lake District in the UK. Please help us by sharing our website and our blog with friends and family and anyone interested in travel. Make comments below and on our Facebook page. We need feedback! Is this what you like to hear? Would you like us to write about anything else in particular? Give us your thoughts and ideas! Come travel with us to Italy if you are able or share the idea with others who might be interested. We want to share what we are doing with anyone and everyone and we need your assistance to do that. Thanks in advance for all you do!
Remember that we are always available to you and your friends and family for custom trip planning to Italy, France, Ireland and all of Europe. We also have a really exciting small group trip to Tuscany planned for May 2018 and we hope you will join us! We have room for only 2 more people each week. We previewed the trip a few weeks ago and can tell you that it is going to be amazing. We can't wait to share all that Tuscany has to offer with you -- especially the wine and the food!. Check out the itinerary and the details on our website. It’s going to be awesome. You can always reach Betsy at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to help you make your travel dreams to Europe come true!