Are we tired? Often. Are we ready to put up our suitcases for a time? Not yet. But we get that question a lot. We only consider it on the first and last days of our trips when we are tired, cranky and just want to get packed or unpacked and rest. One of the greatest things about HomeExchange is that if we are tired and cranky, we can rest because we will be there for awhile. There is no mad dash to see everything in a short amount of time. We are "home" and we live like a local.
So as we prepare for another year, I am counting our beds - ummm - I mean blessings and remembering what HomeExchange has given us in the last 12 months:
We spent the Christmas Holidays of 2017 in Vienna, one of the most beautiful cities we have ever visited. We had walks, snow, rain, concerts, and champagne on the rooftop on New Year's Eve as fireworks exploded all around the Vienna skyline.
After returning to the USA, we spent some time in Phoenix and the welcoming arms of old friends. It's really true that old friends are gold! Time melts away when you are with good friends you haven't seen in years. Memories flood back!
From Phoenix, we moved on to California. San Clemente is one of our favorite places on earth and any time spent there with family is priceless. Really it's about the great Mexican food, but we tell family it's about them! We know more people in Southern California now than we do in Naples! From the beautiful view of the hills in the backyard in Rancho Santa Margarita to the beaches and piers of SoCal, our hearts are always happy there. Barrie tells everyone that a light goes on in my eyes when we land in California and when I looked back at some our pictures, I have to agree that I look happier there than almost anywhere!
After 6 weeks in Naples to catch up on doctor and dentist appointments, we made a quick trip to Washington D.C. for March For Our Lives, and then we were back to California and a HomeExchange in Laguna Niguel. We had two weeks to spend in California and have at least a 3 hour time adjustment before heading to Australia.
In Sydney we stayed in a lovely home in Manly and took ferry rides into Sydney harbor. The bridge. The Opera House. The lights of Sydney Vivid. All so beautiful!
From Sydney it was a 3 hour flight to the middle of the Outback and the magnificence of Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Uluru: one huge checkmark on my Bucket List. It was all I hoped and so much more. Magical. I never knew about Kata Tjuta before we were there and I was in awe. At night, we looked up into the night sky at the Southern Cross instead of the North Star
After a couple of weeks in Sydney we moved to our home in Melbourne - probably one of our favorite cities. If we were younger, we both agree that we would live there. It's artsy, quaint, lovely and filled with some of the best people we have ever met. Our home was perfect! Sadly, the trip had to come to an end as they all must.
Our "current" trip began with Barcelona in September. That vibrant, beautiful, colorful city. We fell in love with Barcelona. The time spent there was too short! We hope to return.
From there we moved on to Munich and Oktoberfest. I'm doing a family tree and have found so many relatives in Germany! Unfortunately, they are all long dead! I knew we were mostly German in our background, but actually putting cities on the map is exciting. I have names of villages and churches where weddings, christenings and funerals took place for my ancestors. Germany is a definite on our "must return" list.
Arnhem, The Netherlands. The small city that is the site of the famous bridge from WWII. Watching the movie, A Bridge Too Far, and then walking the streets and viewing the bridge again was a haunting experience. So many souls died here. It was the same kind of sadness that I felt at Dachau when we walked through the former Nazi internment camp.
Gloucester, England. Our friends welcomed us back to their home while they spent time in ours. It's a win/win for both of us. We love Gloucester: the Cathedral, the autumn colors, the weather, the coziness of a familiar home and town. We watched the beginnings of the Christmas Holiday celebrations from early November forward. The grocery stores were filling the shelves with wonderful items. We also had old friends join us for a few days and we celebrated "our" holiday - Thanksgiving! It was their first American Thanksgiving and my first time to prepare it in England! I must admit to some modifications as I was unable to find all the ingredients I would have used in the USA.
We are now in Bournemouth, England: a lovely seaside town that hugs the sea and the cliffs as trails meander through the peaceful Gardens. We feel at home here. We are at peace. We can walk to the town center, shop, eat, walk some more and feel the Christmas spirit around us. I love the different foods in the grocery stores and can spend hours walking up and down the aisles staring. Sadly, the bathroom scales show that we also bought and consumed many of those lovely foods so the New Year will bring new resolutions of less eating, more moving and commitment to overall health!
Soon we will leave our lovely home in this lovely place and travel to London for a few days and a dinner that will reconnect Barrie with a friend he has not seen in 30 years. Following the dinner, we have tickets for Hamilton! I don't want to leave here, but am also looking forward to a couple of days in London. For me it's a great start to the New Year!
Finally, we will board a plane bound for the USA and as always say a prayer for Traveling Mercies. We will be on our way to embrace what 2019 holds for us.
Once we get "home", give us a few nights to catch up on our sleep, unpack and let our body clocks get adjusted to Florida time. Then we should be ready to go again! After all, the Naples home is only home - while we are there!
We have made our New Year's resolution this year one of health. We know that we must be fit and healthy to continue to travel as we do. There is no magic pill and there is no big secret. Eat less. Move more. Eat less. Move more. Repeat after me. . .although. . .Barrie's mention of a Champagne diet did get me thinking and at least two people are ready to join me! Any others?
From our home (wherever that may be) to yours - Happy New Year!