On Sunday we settled in to our second house sit as our billets left for a holiday in Sherwood Forest, Nottingham. Yes, the home of Robin Hood is a real place! Well thank goodness for a housesit, the timing was needed as both Janet and I have been sick. Mine only lasted a few days as a bad cold/flu bug but as soon as we settled in to our second place Janet got hit hard. She’s been in bed since so we’ve just been laying low and enjoying our temporary home. Luckily we were fine on moving days as I don’t know what we’d do if we had to travel while being sick. We had anticipated getting ill at some point but not so early on, hopefully we’ve got that done and over with now. If Janet’s not better tomorrow we might need to make a trip to the doctor.
Today there are more options that ever to keep in touch with home, cheaply and on demand. We did a lot of research on this and I think have some great options for long or short term travelers. These aren’t all of them but all you’ll need, depending on the length of time you will be traveling will dictate some of the best options.
For 2 or 3 weeks the easiest option would be to just get an international add-on package through your cell phone provider, in Canada these are usually at about $5 per day. So 3 weeks would add up to $105 but if you are away longer this begins to get cost prohibitive. We are planning to be away for a year so this just wasn’t an option and we had to find more suitable means. For our 10 months away we had a cell phone for local calls, a Magic Jack for calling home (banking, business, social calls), an Ipad for Facetime with the kids and a laptop for Skypeing and using the Magic Jack with friends and family. Below is an explanation of these options.
In the Stirling area another interesting Castle we totally enjoyed visiting was the Doune Castle which has been a popular filming location for movies such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Game of Thrones, Outlander and many others. As you wander the castle grounds Actor/Director Terry Jones from Monty Python narrates the audio tour handed out at the castle entrance along with Outlander clips from Sam Heughan (James Frazer), Janet’s favorite parts! They help bring to life the history surrounding the castle and add an ambiance as you make your way through the castle trying to remember scenes from the movies filmed here.
Yesterday we visited the famed Stirling Castle and had the first opportunity to use our Historical Sites Membership card so entry was free, or included in the cost of the pass. There are a number of ways to save money on entrance into the historical sites, the best option depends on your travel scenario.
Well we are a few days into our first house sit in a small village called Cambus, in the Clackmananshire area of Scotland, near Stirling. It’s suburban but on the edge of a rural area so the best of both worlds with sheep farms and countryside a step away. We’ve settled into a routine and living life like the local Scots which really isn’t much different from life at home, only the accents are different.
Well it was our last full day in Glasgow and we decided to wander over to The People’s Palace as it is a walkable distance from our apartment on the east end of the city. The People’s Palace is located in the Glasgow Green, a large 136-acre urban park along the river Clyde and within walkable distance of downtown. Its center piece is the Palace and attached Winter Gardens, highlighted by the incredible Doulton Fountain.
One of the top tourist destinations in Glasgow is the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Museum and Park. Situated on the northwest end of town on Argyle street by the banks of the River Kelvin it is the most popular ‘free to enter’ visitor attraction in Scotland. The museum opened in 1901 as the Palace for Fine Arts for the Glasgow International Exhibition held that year. It is built in a Spanish Baroque style in the local red bricks, a magnificent building with a grand pipe organ occupying the heart of the museum in its grand hall which is played daily at 1pm.
‘walk the hills’ as they say.. If we had more time, I’d be planning some hikes here. The island is divided by the Highland fault line that runs right threw, separating the mountainous north end to the lush pastures of the south and making for some diverse terrain. Cycling also seems to be very popular here as many cyclists had transported their bikes onto the ferry and were seen about the island. We also saw lots of sailboaters and kayakers playing in the bay.
We’ll it’s day three in Glasgow and we’re starting to come out of our surreal fog as our long sojourn becomes a reality!
The few days before leaving it started to sink in that we would be away for a long time and we struggled with the emotions of saying good-bye to friends and family, thinking about leaving the dogs and especially the kids. We hadn’t anticipated it being hard, Janet cried on and off for the two days prior. The word ‘AIRPORT’ became the trigger and the kids and I made a game of it, maybe a bit cruel like tickling but we thought it was hilarious!
hat a fabulous evening! We arrived for a surprise party to find 50 of our closest friends and family that came to say good-bye and send us off on our grand adventure.
Exciting stuff, we made the news! Here is a link to a news article about our travel plans in Metro News.
My experience with the ghosts of Hotel El Convento
In 2010 while on vacation in Puerto Rico I had an experience that shook me to the core and I’m going to tell you about it. I haven’t shared this story much; I don’t know why it was hard to verbalize. Many of you might think I’m off my rocker, I am hesitant but at the same time feel compelled to tell this story. I don’t know if it was supernatural or maybe my subconscious reconciling the day’s experiences but whatever it was it spooked me and at the same time had me vibrating with excitement.
Why I decided to learn Italian and how to learn another language
Learning another language as I found out requires a lot of determination, some people have a natural affinity for picking up languages but I found out I don’t!
In June of 2007 for our 20th anniversary Janet and I, along with my cousin and her husband went on a 16-day cruise vacation through Europe. It began with three days in Rome and ended with a few days in Venice. Prior to departing for our cruise I had decided to take a course on the Italian language.
OMG, yesterday was the one-month countdown to our trip and excitement isn’t what we’re feeling right now!
All of a sudden the reality of a year away is sinking in and we’re feeling stressed, a high level of anxiety, we’re short tempered and mix that with a little excitement we’re powder kegs of emotions- not how we thought we’d be feeling. My brain doesn’t focus either. Yesterday I went to the bank to make a deposit, got a receipt and walked away. I got to my truck and just happened to take another look at my wallet, something was missing. Shit, I left my debit card in the machine. I ran back to the ATM and it was still open- ‘would you like to make another transaction?’ Thank god I didn’t drive off, someone could have cleaned out my account.
How Long can you travel in Europe or the Schengen zone visa Free?
What is a Schengen Visa? Many people have asked after hearing about our application to remain in Italy for a period beyond the allowed 90 day stay. Most had never heard of Schengen before and commented ‘how would they know’, ‘maybe you are being too diligent at following the rules’, ‘I never heard of that before’ and asked ‘what could happen if you stayed longer’? Well, big brother knows all and you don’t want to mess around, here’s why;