We’ve been traveling now for over a month, not a lot of time in the overall time we’ll be traveling, but enough to have learned a few things already, and figured out what we’re doing right and where we can make changes. Although we’re seeing and experiencing a lot, we also spend time on the usual everyday stuff we did before we started on our travels.
- Brett and I make a good travel team. We got along well before setting off, and that’s continued thankfully. There’s always something to plan, something to talk about, something to dream about. The only time we seem to snip at each other is when we’re tired and have arrived at a new place and have to figure out where we’re going. Brett is “utility guy” (carrying heavy bags and keeping track of our spending), but also does the driving when necessary and takes care of other heavy chores. I still “manage the household,” making sure we have enough food and enough variety; that our living quarters stay tidy; that the laundry gets done, and all those other sorts of banal but important tasks that still take time. I also plan our activities for the day, or decide whether we’ll take a day off. Brett is a very “in the moment” person while I’m always thinking two steps ahead about what we’ll need and when we’ll need it, but with our strengths pooled everything has been going smoothly so far.
- We’ve still only found a couple of things we wish we had brought along with us and didn’t. Ziploc bags are at top of the list, but we’re hanging in there so far with what we have. We did score two big plastic carry bags at one grocery store which have turned out to be perfect for hauling laundry to and from the laundromat here in Strasbourg. We also never thought to bring wash cloths, but had to go out and find some because a few of the homes where we’ve stayed do not have them for some reason. We headed to a Macy’s-like department store in central Strasbourg and found just what we wanted on their sale table!
- Clothes-wise it seems so far like we brought just the right amount and mix of things to wear. Only one pair of shoes I brought along haven’t worked out – they fit and look good, but are not comfortable for walking around which is critical. I’m not sure right now whether I’ll hold on to them or not. One issue we’re having with clothes though is the frequently changing weather – it’s been swinging, sometimes wildly, between warm and cold. It was chilly in Switzerland, but in the upper 70s when we got back to Strasbourg, and is forecast to be in the 80s when we go to Bordeaux! It can drive us crazy at times trying to figure out what can be unpacked and what should stay in our suitcases.
- We’ve found we’re good at adapting to our frequently changing situations, and can make do with whatever exists or doesn’t where we’re staying. Some houses have lots of cookware, appliances, and other amenities while others not so much, but we’ve been able to make it work for us wherever we are. The only thing we hope for whenever we check in somewhere is a comfortable, firm bed with clean sheets and so far we’ve gotten that in every home.
- We’ve found we like doing things and figuring out things on our own more than we like taking tours. We sometimes take the free walking tours available to learn about the history of a place and get ourselves oriented, but otherwise we like figuring out transportation and such and then setting out together, armed only with a map. We like learning about the history of a place, and I especially like checking out the architecture from old to new while Brett is interested more in mechanical and technical things (mills, machinery, etc.) and plants. We also enjoy dropping into stores, even ones that we have back in the States (like H&M, Uniqlo, etc.) to check them out and see what’s the same and what’s different, what prices are like and so forth, but we rarely if ever buy anything (boulangeries are the exception to that rule!).
- Our favorite treat on the road has turned out to be not chocolate but cookies! We had some good ones in Buenos Aires and Montevideo (coconut butter cookies to die for), but the ones we’ve found in French supermarkets have been fantastic, and affordable too. Many of the supermarket cookies here are the kind you’d have to go to a bakery to buy in the U.S. Although all have been tasty, our favorites right now are lemon sablés (shortbread), florentines, and petite buerre. We like to carry the petite buerre for travel between destinations because they’re somewhat like a slightly sweet cracker. Actually, none of the cookies is overly sweet which may be why we like them so much. I have to thank the Great British Baking Show for introducing me to so many of the cookie varieties that are available here.
- Knock on wood, but we have both stayed in good health so far. No colds, no upset stomachs, nothing that has stopped us from getting up and out each day. My back still gives me problems from time to time as does the bursitis in my right hip, and there’s no rhyme or reason to when or why it flares up when it does. For the most part though it’s thankfully been manageable.
- I tried to follow the news in the U.S. for a while but finally gave up – I’m happier not knowing what’s going on for now. The girls and our son have been great about staying in touch thanks to Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, etc. as have friends (and readers!). Our T-Mobile plan lets us text for free, and we also get free data (although it’s incredibly slow), but we have to pay for phone calls so those don’t happen (we can video message via Messenger though). Wifi here has its ups and downs, mostly ups thankfully but we have had problems in a couple of places keeping a connection which can be frustrating.
So far it’s all been good – nothing has been too challenging. We’re enjoying our life on the road, and especially our extended stay in Strasbourg right now. Still, we’re starting to look forward to being in Bordeaux in another a week. The only part both of us is dreading is having to repack our suitcases later this week as well as having to move them around once again – it’s been so nice being able to be “unpacked” for a while. But, that’s our life these days, and we do what we gotta do!