Sunday, October 14, 2018

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

I posted this picture of Earl swimming one morning during our week in Lake Como and a friend commented that we were living the "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."
And maybe it does seem kind of bragg-y to post pictures of our travels to places like Italy and Spain.
But truthfully, the trip cost us no more than a drive to Florida from Michigan and a week in a hotel. Since we're living in France though, we can skip across borders in quicker time than driving from the north to the south of the United States. It was a 10-hour drive there as we stopped overnight in the French Alpes, a night in Chambery for $65 and quite a nice hotel.
Then we drove on to Lake Como the next day.
The most expensive part of the trip was the tolls, and through the Alpes, we had the 44 Euro expense of a tunnel. The tolls were much cheaper on the way back along the Mediterranean. So we paid about $115 in tolls on the way there and probably $80 in tolls on the way back. Each trip took a tank of gas.

As for the hotel, on the banks of Lake Como in Gravedona, Italy, I found it on Travelocity and we paid $133 a night for a room that faced the lake and included a balcony.

Earl made the most of the balcony
The price of the room also included a breakfast buffet.
Plenty of food, including meats, cheeses, breads, yogurt and fruit. 

The breakfast room overlooked the lake. The waitress served us cappuccino each morning
As for  other meals, I figure we have to eat when we're home so the cost of food isn't going to be that much more while we travel. We eat out too much in our current rental in France, but French food, come on!
Me on the balcony with Gravedona in the background
So although our lifestyle may look glamorous, it's only our location that allows us to travel from place to place, soaking in the atmosphere, the culture, and stumbling over languages we don't know.
People are generally very accommodating as long as we say hello, please and thank you in their languages, they work with us.

Earl in front of some sailboats that he unfortunately didn't get to try.
We had some things we wanted to do. One of those was sailing. Earl has always wanted to take sailing lessons but back in Columbus was told he was too big for the teaching boats they had.
The poster for sailing said we needed sneakers and a waterproof jacket. So we spent our first morning searching for sneakers for Earl, but I resisted buying a waterproof jacket, insisting they must have some on hand.
We tried calling the sailing place several times but never got an answer. When we went looking later in the day, they weren't open so we took out a kayak from a neighboring boat place.
Earl rented a motorboat one afternoon while I worked.
Other than that, we walked around the two neighboring villages, enjoying the ambiance.

The scenery around Lake Como was breathtaking.
I had some great runs along the lake. Most mornings the mountains were covered in mist. 

I took this sunrise shot on the morning we were leaving. Goodbye Lake Como

Now don't hate us, but next week we're off to Dublin, where the round trip flight is $75 per person. Can't pass it up.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Lessons Learned

It's been awhile, but I wrote this post last week when we were in Spain, and I wanted to share it with you.
It might explain why life has suddenly gone into warp speed.

In the middle of the night, I lay awake, a sheet pulled up to my neck, not to keep me warm but to protect me from voracious mosquitoes, and I tossed and turned. I kept returning to a story that Mom and Dad had shared with me as we talked on Facetime, the camera sometimes focusing on Mom, sometimes on Dad, but most of the time on the couch in between them, a fair way to divide the camera.
Our cat Tupi, who now resides with my parents, climbed up on Dad's chest, royally placing his paw on Dad's chin whenever he started to talk. Mom wanted to share what a good companion Tupi had become.
Mom and Dad with Tupi in January. A new
family photo.
While Mom was out playing golf, Dad had moved from the living room through the game room to open the sliding door for Tupi. He likes to go out to the screened-in area that surrounds the pool. He considers the pool the biggest water dish in the neighborhood, and he likes to chase down lizards or give birds the evil eye as they flit from tree to tree.
Dad's foot is still healing from a sore. Since he is diabetic, he is prone to sores that refuse to heal. So he is using a knee cart that keeps his foot off the ground.
As he scooted through the game room, the knee cart caught on something, and Dad fell, pulling down three bar stools as he went and hitting his head on a metal trash can. He lay on the floor, having skinned himself in the fall, and assessed the damage, making sure he hadn't done serious damage.
As Dad lay on the floor, Tupi joined him, attempting to lick the places where Dad had skinned himself then finally curling up next to Dad, as if the two of them were just having a nap on the floor for no reason.
What a good, caring cat Tupi is, Mom explained.
Dad eventually managed to get up, in spite of not being able to use one foot, and cleaned up his wounds, ready to greet Mom when she came home with the news of a hole-in-one on the golf course that morning.
Tupi is a good companion, even though he is the reason Dad tripped going to let him out, but I couldn't stop picturing Dad on the floor.
And I wished that I'd been there with him.
A shot of me and Earl with Mom and Dad
before we embarked on our adventure.
True I might have insisted he get up right away when maybe he needed a few minutes on the floor to assess any damage, but I wondered why I'm not there while Dad heals. Nothing is keeping me here in Europe. I can do my job from Florida.
After years of raising kids, I thought I had earned the right to be selfish, to travel and explore and put worries about others behind me. But when you love people, you never leave behind those worries.
As we returned from Spain, Mom told me Dad would have another surgery on November 1st, a stent to unclog an artery, and I knew we had to go.
So we returned to France and began making plans. We have two vacations planned in October, one to Italy and another to Ireland. We have to figure out how to renew our visa. We need to get our French driver's licenses, deal with the car we borrowed and change our flights.
Just a few hoops to jump through before we can return to the States to be with my parents as Dad heals.
Soon, I'll let you know what we've accomplished so far, cause we're leaving for Italy on Sunday.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

I posted this picture of Earl swimming one morning during our week in Lake Como and a friend commented that we were living the "Lifesty...