Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New People

One of our goals this year is to meet more interesting people. 

Meeting super people when I travel or when D is on a ski lift is great but it would be even better if we could expand our circle of friends with ones we can actually see again and again.  The way we are approaching it is via joining clubs and going to various events. 

A lot of our friends are in heavy family mode right now.  It's hard to deny parenthood impacts adult to adult availability. 

So last weekend we participated in a couple of events that took us a bit out of town.  The results this time weren't what we had hoped.  

We did meet a number of people but had difficulty finding the connection.  People there seemed to have money and were hiding behind what they could buy.  We had a hard time having sincere conversations.  It felt like they were just there to model which is quite opposite of who we are.  Definitely not our scene.  We cut both events short and were so relieved to arrive home again.

I guess we were expecting to meet intelligent, successful people who are good communicators and somewhat worldly.  Instead we ended up with a group of adults who couldn't seem to bring anything real to the table but just wanted to be a part of something.  It felt empty and unsatisfying.  On the flip side, it made us realize how great our existing friendships were.

This particular group has a whole year's worth of activities we could get involved with and last weekend's results were to determine if we'd continue participating.  Obviously it was a resounding no.  I told D I'd rather pay $800 to sit in an helicopter with one other person than to go back there, be surrounded by dozens of bodies for the cost of lunch. 

Oh well.  Onwards and upwards. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Travel & Marriage Questions

I've been asked if I have a "bucket list" of places I want to see or things I want to do?  How does my solo travel impact my marriage?  I've decided to turn the answers into a post. 

No, I do not have a bucket list.  I'm pretty much open to seeing most of the world.  Areas where there is known danger, I'll pass until things settle down.  Otherwise I'm up for seeing and trying most things.

Travel for me isn't for the sake of saying I've been there.  If I cared about that, I'd come home with pictures of myself standing in front of every well know monument and bar so I could show everyone.  In reality I do not come home with any pictures of me when I'm travelling solo.  When D and I travel, he likes to take a self mug shot of us in the car just when we are about to drive off to the airport.  Sometimes he'll sneak in a shot of me when I least suspect it.  That's about it. 

There is something inside that compels me to travel. I have a deep longing for it and ache when it has been a while since I've seen a new place.  That's the only way I can explain why I continue to do so without fail.  There must have been some explorer blood passed on to me as it feels natural.  Anyone who is aiming to tick stuff off a list wouldn't continue once the list has been completed.  Nor would they willingly tolerate airline strikes, cramped airplane quarters, bad food etc.

I keep myself open to possibilities and when they come, take advantage of it.  I don't really know for sure which places I end up seeing beyond our yearly return to France and our skiing out west and our cottaging up north.

Travelling costs adds up quickly year after year, even if you do it frugally.  I would argue it is not sustainable unless you have a real zest for it.  I've been to Europe 8 times in the last 14 months for an average of 1 1/2 wk each stay.  Some days my bank account probably wishes I would develop a deep passion for making spaghetti instead. 

I'll continue to work to fund this interest.  And no, I have not been able to find a cheaper substitute.  It is not replaceable.  It would be like asking someone who is an avid tennis fan to start watching some other sport instead.  Not the same. 

As for how my solo travel impacts my marriage...I would say it enhances ours. 

I believe marriage is a path taken by 2 individual people who have chosen to walk together for a period of time.  As each person grows, the marriage grows.  One + One = Something larger than 2.  Ways I grow include travel, creating art, playing music, learning.  Ways D grows includes participating in endurance sports, learning how to fix things and lucky for me, travel.  Our individuality and growth keeps us interesting to each other.  We influence each other by being uniquely different. 

It is harder to understand something like travel and place it mentally in the same league as someone who is an avid hockey and baseball fan.  If you calculate the time those 2 sports can take up on a yearly basis, all the games, play offs etc. vs the amount of time I take travelling, the sports would win. 

I think there is a mental bias when it comes to travel because most people see long distance travel as a luxury, something to save for a 25th Wedding Anniversary as well as something that costs an inordinate amount of money.  It doesn't have to be.

When I tell people, which isn't often, of my travel habits, I often get silence.  Not too many people can relate to the volume of travelling I do as I am not the stereotypical backpacker off on my year of gallivanting around the world before I start my real world job.  Nor am I in a profession where I have to travel. 

Sometimes I get the impression people feel I'm behaving irresponsibly.  To that I simply chalk it up to people trying to make rules for other people.  And as a married woman who chooses to travel solo because the 6 weeks a year I travel with D isn't enough, it confuses people.  If they bother to stick around long enough, they would find out the story is much more interesting.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Turkish Rug & Calligraphy Buying

You probably guessed by now I wasn't serious when I said I'll write about "...my legendary negotiation skills..." a while back in a post picturing the rug and calligraphy I brought home from Turkey.

If you were hoping for some expert tips on purchase negotiation, you will be disappointed to read I am not a great bargainer.  It's not in my nature to ask for discounts, especially for art as I like to support Artists.  I buy only what I can afford.

So what to do in a country like Turkey where negotiation is a national sport and past time as well as a way to size you up as a person?  And when there is often no advertised price to start from, how to proceed then?  Right or wrong, I decided to be honest.

Let me start by saying how surprised I was at the quality of the major stores in Istanbul and Kusadasi.  They sell some serious jewellery (gemstones in multiple carats) as well as many private rooms full of carpets.  There was a large amount of custom jewellery designs, art, many very creative and beautiful.  These stores would be considered stand outs when compared to the ones I've seen in NYC and Chicago.

After my 2nd carpet presentation, I decided I would love to own a silk on silk rug.  A small one, in a price range I was willing to spend. 

I am so used to seeing price tags, it is unnerving to browse without any idea of how much things cost.  I know the sales people there are experts at sizing you up and pricing things accordingly.  So I thought they would think I was a single girl who didn't own expensive things.  I do not travel with my regular watch, purse, pen or clothing.  Nor do I wear any jewellery. 

The first salesman tactics reflected that.  I asked how much the last rug (most expensive) they showed (always the silk on silk ones)  during the presentation was, ball park.  He dismissed my question with a "It's silk on silk.  Come, I'll show you some cotton and wool or half wool half silk ones.  What colours do you like?"

Mistake.  Never underestimate you customers.  If someone is asking about a specific product after seeing the rest, it is because they are interested enough to learn more.  There is a potential opportunity there so don't down sell right away.

The gentleman I did connect with who I ended up buying from was from Majestic Carpets in Kusadasi.  Apparently their claim to fame is that Queen Elizabeth, who is an avid collector of Turkish Rugs, purchased from them recently.  I had just come back from Ephesus and decided to go in and look around.

Maybe it was an age thing (younger) but I found him to be quite humble and not as aggressive compared to the other gentlemen I encountered.  Remember in Turkey, you will most likely to be negotiating with men. 

So after drinking some apple tea (It’s like hot apple cider but less sweet...my favourite is pomegranate tea.)  , he asked me if this was my first visit to Turkey – No, second time.  Did you buy a Turkish rug last time – No.  Why not—Because my reason for visiting Turkey wasn’t to buy a rug.  He looked shocked.  I explain it is why you will see many people from North America just wanting to browse but are put off by the assumption they are there to buy.

And thus the exchange began about the way North Americans shop vs Turkish people.  Not buying a rug right away doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate their culture.  We come from a place where we can see prices and for most of us, it helps us decide if we can afford something.  A lot of people just window shop all the time as a hobby.

He thought we were all rich when in reality all those big houses he thinks we live in and the multi numbers of vehicles we drive are not all paid for and that people are extending themselves with credit in order to come on trips like this.  He was a bit appalled to hear that.  I told him there are serious finance issues in North America and in parts of Europe. 

I suggested a better way to get more customers from North America is to just do what he did best which was show the various types of carpets, educate, but try to be more upfront about pricing so there is no potential embarrassment as to affordability because no matter how beautiful the carpet or jewellery may be, it is going to be difficult to talk someone into paying tens of thousands of dollars for something they had not intended to buy in the first place just because they agree the item is beautiful and worth it.  For a lot of travellers, the trip was the big purchase.

That was the tough part because to name a price was a start of the negotiation signaling intent of the buyer to negotiate until both parties were satisfied.  So for him to name a price was not usual practice although they have started to warm up to using some price tags in order to attract more foreign buyers who are not versed in the art of negotiation and have no idea what things are worth.

Anyways, he asked me if he could show me some carpets.  I said yes, I’m interested in the little ones on the wall.  Turns out my knack for picking out expensive things did not disappear in Turkey. 

The ones I really liked were collector pieces, taking about 4 yr for one weaver to make, the size of a rectangular hand cloth, up to 10000 knots per square inch, starting in the 15K+ range.  Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen.  I got to see some beautiful ones though, so so detailed!  It was really a process of education as well as desire to sell something. 

By this time, we were on first name basis.  He has a Son age 5 and he and his wife live in a small apartment not far away.  He was one of the newer salesmen in the store. 

His helper, an older gentleman, did not speak English and his job was to bring carpets in and take them away.  It was end of season and early on the day.  We talked about how his culture believed if you can start each day with a sale, it will shed luck to the rest of the day.  We were into numbers at this point. 

His opening offer after I asked how much the one I liked, was $2400, but because he thought I was such a 'nice person' for explaining the cultural differences, he would give it to me for $1250.  I said it was too expensive a souvenir.  If my husband found out, he would kill me… (not true but in this male dominated culture, he believed me, not literally of course).

So he asked me what can I pay?  I think this was a bad move, because I said I was willing to pay $700 when I probably should have said $500.  He looked down for a minute or so and asked if I could go up a bit.  I said what do you mean?  Here’s where I made another mistake.  I should have waited until he named a number.  But instead I said I could do $800.  By this time we were both sitting crossed legged on the floor and about 45 min had passed.  It was strange to see a grown man in a suit sitting on the floor but that's how they do it.

We settled at $850 US and the rest of my Turkish Lira (about $90) to be given to his helper.  Normally the salesman pays his helper out of the proceeds but because I supposedly got such a great deal, if I could do this, he can make the sale.  Yes, I am a Suck.  All I could think about was I hoped the Woman who weaved it (her name is on the certificate of authenticity) got a fair price.  He told me the store took 50% of the sale price. 
Oh yeah, I spent $150 US on my original Arabic Calligraphy at Khaftan Art and Antique, a treasure of a store in old Istanbul.  No idea if it was a good deal.  Had a lovely discussion with the proprietor about the various types of script found around the world. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It's Time

September has always signified school to me.  Even now.  It's hard to lose the conditioning of so many years' worth of Septembers.

This year I'm going to do something about it. 

D has a much more developed sense of "putting myself first" than I do.  He finds the energy to go out there and do it.  He doesn't seem to let work worries and stress and mental anguish get in the way of his everyday sports and leisure activities. 

Whereas I do. 

For some reason, I need to wait until it feels right, or I have time, or when I'm going to be away to have time to sort things out before taking daily actions.  This 'holding out until...' thing isn't a real healthy way to go about day to day life and I'm finally seeing that.  There will always be something, some reason to not do something.  It has turned into my chronic excuse inertia. 

For my mental and physical well being, I need to elevate life daily in order to bridge the gap that exists between the everyday and my travel life.

So I've put it out there.

I've signed up for a studio art class at a community college and I've put the word out I'm looking for a private dance instructor -- Ballet.  The art class currently does not have enough people to run but hopefully it will fill up by the time the classes start and I'm awaiting word from the dance studio.  Fingers and toes crossed.

It feels good to take action.  It's time.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cinque Terre & Porto Venere

Cinque Terre or "5 Terre" as found on many signs.  I prefer Cinque.  Porto Venere isn't part of the 5 but was a bonus stop for me before heading back.

My gateway was La Spezia.  From there I travelled by bus to the top of Manarola whereby I walked down into town to catch the beginning of the trail to Riomaggiore.   There's a cute cafe in town right by the tunnel leading to the train station run by a young couple.  I had a freshly squeezed orange juice there.  Only 2 Euros!

Manarola is a small sleepy laid back town.  I think the locals are so used to people coming to and from the trail they don't pay you much attention.  As you'll notice in some of the pictures, the main town roads often leads to the water and I mean right into the water.  These villages really do live up to being as stunning in real life as you see in photos. 

If you aren't into hiking (I use the word loosely because the trail from Manarola to Riomaggiore is paved and flat with railings, making it too sterile for my liking.  Trails to the other villages are more rugged.) you can always take the train.  I understand there is a day pass you can buy which allows you to go to all the Terres in 6 hr.  No train for me this time.  It was either walk or ferry.  Apparently trains go mostly through the rock so views are limited. 

Ferry tickets are frequently sold literally on card tables by the ferry "dock" and schedules are printed on small coloured pieces of paper.  It is first come first serve so consider yourself warned.  If you are going to walk between the villages, you have to buy a ticket.  It isn't free.  And be prepared for numerous tour groups going both ways. 

People with physical limitations will find it difficult in the Terres.  Wheelchair accessibility is not a priority.  I saw one gentleman with crutches try to get off a ferry and it was a struggle.  Ferries have a narrow walking ramp (one person width) that they roll off the bow of the ship and as the boat bobs up and down, so does the ramp.

The most picturesque of the villages for me is Riomaggiore.  It has all the visual elements, the right size to make life there convenient.  The village I felt most at home was Vernazza.  As the ferry approached, I could already feel its warmth.  It wasn't the most picturesque Terre I saw but I did not know it before the disaster last Oct.  They are still rebuilding.  Along the coast you can see where the landslides are still blocking part of the trail and train passages.  I didn't make it to to Corniglia this visit.

There is a photo gallery exhibit hidden away off a clothing store/cellar, just to the right once you get off the ferry in Vernazza that shows pictures of the aftermath of the storm and mud slide.  They really need to do a better job with advertising as it is well worth the time to view and they would likely get more donations if more people knew.  The lady who was manning the gallery told me people had to move away for at least 3 months before they could come back home.  She was there when it all happened.  It was really touching speaking with her.

People don't have insurance (she didn't know what that was) and are paying for the rebuilding themselves.  There is a published book of those photographs that won an award last year you could buy.  All proceeds goes back to the town.  On the website link above, you can see before and after pictures of the town.  I am happy to report the gelato and art store have reopened and looks like the before pictures again.  People in this town have a very gentle demeanor.  If you feel moved, please consider making a donation. 

La Spezia on my way to Manarola

Top of Manarola

Super spot to have a coffee
You can see the trail behind leading to Riomaggiore

Notice the slope

The Ferry
First come first serve
The water wasn't calm
Just took the shot as waves retreated
Poster boards found around town in Vernazza


Porto Venere
You felt out of place here if you weren't
sporting a bikini or bathing suit
People just put towels on the rocks and sunbathe

Monterosso al Mare
They say the water by the beaches are still
"dirty" from the mud slides
but overall, the town was in way better shape than Vernazza


Friday, August 17, 2012


Oh those Italian men... The extra squeeze on your hand as they are helping you off a ferry.  The accent.  The great big smiles and lingering looks.  I couldn't help but giggle.  They know and they do it anyways.

My gateway to Amalfi was Salerno.  I debated long and hard within as to whether I'd go by bus or boat.  The risk was if the water was rough, all boats and ferries would be cancelled and everyone would be fighting to get to the bus station and on the buses. 

The buses that go along the coastal road are smaller in size (good shape) and if you don't get a seat or am petite like me, you may not see much of anything.  It was a tough call as the Amalfi coastal drive is renowned and would be a for sure you'd get there thing.  Plus it is cheaper.

In my heart of hearts, I wanted to go by boat.  I've ridden and driven on enough hairpin roads that I wasn't yearning to go on another yet.  Plus your view would be down towards the water or of what is ahead or behind.  Whereas I wanted to see what the towns looked like from below.  And pictures taken from a bus aren't always satisfactory.

I took a gamble with going via a smaller charter boat and it paid off.  It was a beautiful day and as soon as I got on the boat, I knew I would have a great time.  If I lived there I would do everything I could to own a boat.  That ride along the coast was breathtaking and exhilarating as Italians tend to drive their cars and boats as if they were Ferraris. 

There are a number of little towns along the way and if the buildings and colours weren't enough eye candy, there's always the almost naked Italian men zooming by on their boats.  At least the fit ones were. 

Amalfi itself was busy but wasn't overrun when you consider the number of buses, tour groups and people coming off ferries.  I was able to find a place for a drink and a bite to eat no problem.  Things moved slower there, very relaxed.  People did not speak English much at all, if at all.  For some reason I expected to see a town that was a bit spoiled by tourism.  I'm happy to be wrong. 

This isn't the easiest place to get to and summer prices can be high with not great value.  You can't fly here.  The closest you get is Naples airport and even then, most people would fly into Rome.  From FCO to Rome Termini.  Then it is a train to Naples and switch to another train system to get you here.  Naples is known for petty theft.  You can feel it in the air.  It actually makes whatever hair I have on my arm (I'm not hairy) stand up.

One piece of advice.  If you decide to order a lemon granita, be prepared for extreme tartness and bitterness!  Once you swallow it, it is surprisingly refreshing and soothing on your throat.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Venice & The Dalmation Coast

Trips involving multiple locations are designed for me to discover whether I would like a place well enough to spend more time there.  It is usually more expensive to stay in hotels than apartments.  This trip was a hybrid.  First and foremost I was going because I wanted to see Amalfi and Cinque Terre.  The rest just worked its way in between.

When I decided not to stop in Naples and go to Pompeii (yeah, what was I thinking right?  Pompeii in Aug?!  Met a guy who had just returned from Pompeii.  He didn't look like he felt too good.) I chose to delve a little deeper into Slovenia and Croatia.  Both countries are lovely and this time I headed further down the Slovenian coast to Izola, Piran and later Split Croatia.  Stopped in Venice for a couple of days prior. 

There were a couple of apartments I wanted to check out in Venice and Piran.  Good thing I did because it turned out neither location will work for us.  After this short re-visit to Barcelona and realizing how much I still want to return, I will make a more concerted effort (subject for another post) to find an apartment for next time. 

Split felt completely different from Dubrovnik.  I prefer Dubrovnik much more.  Split seemed to have a large number of pregnant English girls living there?  And numerous shoe stores.  One from which I purchased a pair of sandals.  Once you get off the Riva (their equivalent of a seaside boardwalk), few people spoke English. 

Make sure you remember what the currency exchange is roughly because everything will be priced in the hundreds (Kuna).  Their credit card machines don't have you verify how much you are paying before asking for your pin...  And there is sales tax.  I'm so used to the VAT, I right away thought an error was made after my transaction went through, until I remembered.

D and I were in Venice last June.  There was a noticeable difference this time maybe due to the Euro crisis and also tighter pockets of tourists who still want to see new places but have reined in their leisure spending? 

Firstly, there were a lot of empty seats at restaurants and lots of signs about cover charges or no cover charges.  It made things look a bit tacky.  We have such wonderful memories of relaxed dinners in pleasant restaurant environments watching boats go by.  There was an air of desperation this time which ruins the magic of Venice. 

From what I could see, people were just eating ice cream for lunch and dinner.  Don't blame them, it was 37 degree Celsius, full sun, no breeze and humid.  Others were walking around with pizza slices (5 Euros).  The ones sitting down at restaurants were eating pasta or pizza vs seafood.  Last year we had trouble finding an open table and school wasn't out yet. 

I did discover a delightful new to me restaurant, tucked away in a courtyard.  Two antipasti, a bottle of mineral water, an espresso plus tip came to 50 Euros.  Even thought prices were higher than I remembered, the food was worth it and the people working there were happy, friendly and relaxed which made all the difference to me.

There were a tonne of tourists but not many were spending.  I also noticed a decrease in number of smaller neighbourhood cafes.  Shopkeepers gestured from inside the store at window browsers trying to get you to go into their shops.  Not what I was used to.  There were also more people begging -- Italians!  Not gypsies.  Some of them will follow you.  Just turn around and look them straight in the eye so they know you know. 

Watch out for cover charges at restaurants and outdoor cafes.  Depending on where you are, you can pay up to 20 Euros for a cappuccino.  Ask before you sit. 

Split Croatia

The Riva, Split Croatia

On my way to apartment check, Venice.

Delivery day on the Rialto.

These yummy treats are sold by weight. 
Found in a little cafe west of the Rialto market Venice.
They aren't misshaped.  I had gotten to them before the photo.

Izola, Slovenia

Piran Slovenia

Main square, Piran

Salt flats Slovenia.  They are well known for it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I had forgotten just how beautiful and stylish Spanish Women can be.  Their long hair and feminine way of dressing reminded me of a time when I didn't own a pair of jeans (until first year university).  They don't have processed hair and wear enough makeup to accent their eyes.  No bleached blonds or artificial tans here.  Their skin tans beautifully naturally.  Everything just seems so effortless. 

Barcelona has a young feel, lots of life.  The different quarters are distinctive.  We hung around the Gothic quarter last time.  This time I stayed in Eixample.  No new pictures of Gaudi architecture this time around and my old pictures are on my computer out west.

Hands down Barcelona wins the award for efficient airport transportation.  The buses are modern and run every 5 minutes for only 5.65 Euro (one way)!  It takes around 35 min to get to Placa de Catalunya.  The best part is they only fill the buses 2/3rd full so everyone can get a seat and stow their luggage.  Why can't Paris' Air France bus system do the same?  You pay about 30 Euros for a round trip and have to more often than not, wait 45 min+.

Well you cannot go to Spain without coming in contact with their Jamon (ham) -- Serrano vs Iberico. 

I was walking around La Boqueria one night, drinking my papaya coconut juice (1 Euro! vs 6 Euro in Munich...) around 9 pm (too early for dinner there), which by the way is The time of day to get the best fruit deals...I bought a container of fresh mango and strawberries that lasted 2 days for 1 Euro!  Another lady was trying to get me to buy 2 containers of watermelon for again 1 Euro.

Back to jamon.  I was nosing around one of the many cured meat stalls and decided to accept an offer of free salami tasting.  The gentleman began teaching me about what all went into his meats and what the 'reserva' stamp/sticker meant (means longer curing time not better cut of meat).  That led to me deciding to buy some Jamon Serrano reserva from him.

Some time later, I exited the market and saw many people standing by a cured meat stall just outside the market (picture yesterday).  There were 2 men with very sharp knives cutting thin meat off various ham legs.  It turns out they had a good selection of Jamon Iberico.  After observing for a few moments, I decided I wanted in on the action.

They had legs of ham that cost 298 Euro/Kg.  Five slices of it cost me 10 Euro.  The meat just melted in your mouth.  It almost tastes like the density of a good rare steak, very rich, not very salty.  The fat on the meat was almost wanting to turn liquid in room temperature. 

Should the opportunity arises, I would highly recommend tasting some for yourself.  It's very difficult to describe.  There is almost a nutty flavour (which I guess makes sense as the pigs are fed acorns), whereas Serrano ham is pretty similar to prosciutto and also as salty.  The google links above does a great job of explaining the different grades of ham.  I enjoyed it so much I bought some of the Bellota grade to take home. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Getting There -- Barcelona

You'd think being Canadian I would long for heat but D and I aren't typical in many ways.  The "dream" for many Canadians is to be able to go somewhere warm to spend the winters, thus the whole "snowbird" phenomenon.  The ultimate dream would be to retire in a tropical place where the cost of living is lower and you could live like kings.  Costa Rica is popular for many. 

Tropical wouldn't work for us.  I would want to be in a place where I could spend most of the day outside without sweating like heck.  Or be forced to stop moving and hide away inside for 4 hr every afternoon.  Seriously I sweated more standing and walking on this trip then I ever did running 10K. (probably more info than you'd cared to know)  No need of Bikram Yoga for me! 

It had been 5 yr since I last set foot in Barcelona.  We had good memories of our short visit and made a mental note to go back.  I've tried to fit it in since then and hadn't been able to for one reason or another (usually apartment related) until now.  I wondered whether I'd still find the city fascinating as I've been to a number of places since then. 

If D was a betting man, he would have bet I wouldn't have been attracted to Barcelona as much as I remembered.  And he would have lost because it even surprised me how much more I enjoyed the city this time around.  When I called D to let him know I had arrived, I wasn't able to contain my excitement.

The flight part of my trip started and ended on a high note (not counting my sock incident).   I don't know if it was marketing ploy by KLM but I was lucky enough to be upgraded to their World Business Class both ways! 

It was such a luxury.  I didn't find out until I was boarding and my boarding pass scan beeped loudly and they went to grab a new boarding pass and told me I had been upgraded.  You should have seen the look on my face.  The cost of that class of flight had I purchased it would have been around $4500!  I had paid for economy comfort at a cost of about $1400.   And I got a couple of their miniature Delft Blue houses as a gift on top of already superior service and many various perks. 

Being able to lie down made a bigger difference than I would have guessed.  Even though I didn't sleep, I felt very rested.  If you are going to have extra energy,  Barcelona is a great place to be.  Hungry at 1 am?  No problem.  I didn't end up going to sleep until almost 4:30 am the first day. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Socks & Heat

I hate it when I forget things and I'm hard on myself when it happens.  In my haste, I left a beloved pair of ski socks (my feet get cold on a long flight) on the plane.  Pissed off about it. 

Could have almost used them last night too as I felt cold.  After spending a couple weeks where the min temps were 33 degrees Celsius and above (no air conditioning when you travel by ferry, thank goodness for wind), home feels cool for now.  Should acclimatize back before long.

This trip, coming so close on the heels of Norway had a lot to live up to.  Because of the heat, I changed part my itinerary on the fly omitting what would have been a brutal 9 hr in the sun for a more leisurely visit back to the Dalmatian coast.  

Right now I cannot think of another reason why I would willingly travel during summer high heat season anymore.  I think I've seen all the places I want to see that are most accessible in summertime.  Happily I shall go back to my shoulder and low season trips or go far enough north or south to get cool or temperate temps. 

Glad to be back.  I am appreciating more and more the amount of space and privacy we have here in North America especially as an adult.  It's a novelty to live one on top of another for a short while when we know we can come home to 2000+ sq ft.  Long term, it would take an adjustment.  

Before you think I didn't have a good time, I did.  I'll delve more into it later.  I now know intimately why shops close between 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm.