Traveler’s Log

Heading westward in southern France towards the end of our incredible European adventure has me thinking upon a few things.  Our travels have taken us 13,000 kilometers and we have stayed in 17 different places, including, apartments, villas, homes and hotel rooms. By the time our trip ends, in Lisbon, Portugal, we will have stayed in 24 places and have traveled close to 20,000 kilometers (12,000 miles).   My kind husband is becoming quite tired of loading and unloading the car (34 times so far and this does not count our trip in California before we left for Europe along with packing up our whole house into storage).  Sometimes we are parked close to where we are staying and it is easy, but other times we have hauled our bags down the side of a mountain, through busy city streets, and up several long flights of stairs.  I have to say that this packing and unpacking is the worst part, even though, at times, we are ready to try our next location, it can get pretty tiresome.  We have all become professional packers though, and I really am proud of how little the girls complain as they resign themselves to the task at hand.

trip so far

With staying in so many different places we have had to get use to lots of different kitchens and lots of different beds.  I do appreciate nice cooking utensils and appliances, it really makes a difference.  We have learned a lot of what works and what doesn’t for vacation rentals…

We will have gone to the supermarket in 10 different countries.  The most unusual market so far has to be in Prague.  We have had to really rely at times on the pretty pictures on the packaging in order to have the slightest idea of what might be inside.

One of the most useful tools we have used is the translation app on my iPad  this has come in handy when having to read cooking instructions in Czech…  Also, a very handy app, has been the conversion app on our iPhone.   Whether being used for temperature (cooking or weather) distances, weights or currency, it has been very helpful. We have used the Euro, the British Pound (GBP), the Czech Koruna (CZK), and the Swiss Franc (CHF).  Hopefully helping our girls to build good math skills in the meantime.

The most memorable gift from our travels, along with all the incredible places we have seen, the time we have spent together as a family, and the food, has to be the wonderful people we have met.  We have met lovely people all over Europe.  It really has helped to make our experience so special.  With the language barrier being very tough as times, these connections with people have helped us so much to enjoy and understand the places that we have been.  It gives me such faith in humanity…there are good people everywhere!

Well, I must sign off as we have to go and pack…

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Magical Italy

In early December we stayed just outside of Vicenza, Italy.  Here we enjoyed a week in a beautiful villa that had a wonderful outdoor area, which the owners referred to as a park, and it really was. The garden traversed up the side of the hill and incorporated almost 2 acres.  There was an olive grove, koi pond, tree house, pergola created from grape vines, decorative sitting areas, lush trails, statues and beautiful views. Truly incredible in any season, punctuated with the sounds of church bells ringing in the distance.  We all love being outdoors (as do the Italians) and the garden gave the girls a chance to really spend some nice time exploring.  It was really cold and there was a light dusting of snow on the ground.  The koi pond had almost completely frozen over.  The garden was so serene and beautiful.

Ever since my daughters were little, they have built fairy houses.  They have made them at the beach, in forests, and at the different homes we have lived in, which have been many lately…  On this day though, in December, they decided to build one in Italy.  First they found a location in a beautiful old olive tree and began searching for things to decorate it with.  They found berries, acorns, pinecones, rose petals, bark, olives, and leaves, all fun things to add to any respectable fairy house. They then thought about using the ice from the koi pond to make the floors for their fairy house and they built different levels out of ice in the branches of the tree.  It turned out to be magical! I have never seen a more beautiful fairy house in all my days.  I do hope that the fairies were happy and enjoyed their new house! It was made with love, creativity and sweet innocence.

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Quick Update

We have been in Italy now for just over one month and have had approximately 30 pizzas…we are close to averaging a pizza a day! Food here is definitely the “dolce vita” with the fresh pasta, wine, bread, prosciutto and cheeses, can I just say I am in heaven! Here is a quick update to our whereabouts in the last month.

We first went here:

Amazing Venice!

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Next we went here:

The Italian Alps and Lake Como.  We did a little skiing, skating and hiking.

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We picked up my mother-in-law here:

We were so very excited to see her!

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We all loved it here:

The incredible ancient city of Rome!

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And now we are here:

In the breathtaking Tuscan countryside close to Lucca.

Hope this finds you all happy and healthy and ready for the best year of your life! Cheers to all!

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Today’s view!

We have visited so many incredible places and have done so many amazing things on our trip!  Learning, experiencing, growing, and seeing are all part of traveling, along with overcoming challenges too.

Today, we are on top of the world, well the Italian Alps, but it feels close…  We will be spending Christmas here.  We are staying in a wonderful stone cottage, in a village with only 50 inhabitants, which dates back to the 15th Century.

With the tragedy in Connecticut,  I have been feeling pretty emotional, as all of us have.  Reality still exists on top of a mountain in Italy.  That reality makes me committed even more to this journey we have been having as a family.  Although, no one needs to travel to experience each day to its fullest or to look at life a little more closely, we all can just do that.  Get out there, wherever that may be!

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