Jul 302018

WCF-.jpgAs we departed Trieste, Italy, I eagerly scanned the roadside for the first indication announcing we were in Slovenia. The sign I spotted was the simple EU symbol with the Slovenian map in the center. What to think, what to feel. I have entered the country that my Dad’s ancestors came from, and only two generations removed.

Mr and Mrs John Turk, Jeannie's Paternal GrandparentsThe countryside was beautiful and green, with hills and then mountains in the distance. But as beautiful as it was for me, I wondered how it may have appeared to my great grandparents, and how they might have felt, leaving their home for the great unknown in the United States.

For all the countries we have visited, in all of our travels, this is the first with a personal connection. Each place has elicited a sense of wonder, but this place was different. How my life might have been so different had my two sets of paternal great-grandparents Anton and Mary Turk, and John and Elizabeth Kerzich not taken their families on separate adventures to America.

I had little time for research as we would only be in Ljubljana for a week, and since this is the birthplace of my grandmother Pauline, I would focus on the Kerzic family. To search my grandfather’s side of the family we would need to plan a trip to Novo Mesto – maybe on a future visit.

Jeannie and local historian Tone.We had been given the name of a historian, and arranged to meet Tone (Tony) one morning in the city center. We had great conversation with him, which started with a morning coffee, and before we parted, it had progressed to beer. With more time we might have become good friends, as easy as the conversation flowed. He looked over the documents that I had, and suggested that I begin at the national archives, in the town center.

Jeannie and the microfilm. - WCF-105751.jpgWe easily located the archives office and were happy to be greeted in English by the workers. They asked a few questions, and I provided the family name and the year of Grandma Pauline’s birth – 1907. The old records had been scanned onto microfilm, and the assistant located and loaded the rolls that might contain the information about my grandmother’s family into the machine. Chris left in search of new photo opportunities while I began to scan the images on the microfilm as they wound by.

The challenge became looking for the name as it might have been spelled. Based on the information I had, it could have been Kerzich, Keržič, Kerzik, or some other variation. And I specifically was looking for my grandmother’s name, Pauline or Paula.

Archive document from microfilm.I scanned through all the names beginning with “Ker” then searched in reverse as I had not yet found her name. And then suddenly, I came across the page with my great-grandparents names, Yanez Keržič and Elizabeta Tavčar. Yet, only three of their children were listed: Yuan, Vinko, and Marijor. I recognized these names, but Pauline’s name was missing. I asked for a printed image of this record, and they suggested that for more information, I should visit the church archives next, just down the street.

The one surprise in this record was a note that great-grandad Yanez had traveled to America from 01 May 1903 to 07 July 1904. So, this was exciting, he took an exploratory trip to the US before moving the family in 1913.

In the reading room of the church archives.I located the building holding the church archives and inquired at the front desk. Once it was understood what I was looking for, they took me into an office where several other people were sitting at tables, looking through the records. The woman brought me a large, old, leather-bound book and opened it to a page, based on the birthdate of my grandmother Pauline. My search for continued, and soon I found the birth entry for Paula, born 12 January 1907 in Hotavlje, a small village only about 40k (24mi) from Ljubljana.

Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to search further. And since Grandmother Pauline and her family remained inSlovenia_map.jpg the US after immigrating (to my knowledge), there isn’t much more to find in Slovenia, at least on her branch of the family.

However, there is much more sleuthing to be done. We will be gathering more clues from family members when we travel to Wisconsin in the autumn. And then, to find more details will require returning to Slovenia, this time to the town of Novo Mesto to find records of Grandfather Turk’s family when they returned to Slovenia after their time in the US.


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Mar 262018

Italy, Slovenia, and CroatiaOur 2018 adventures will begin March 29, and we’ll travel to three countries. We’ll start in Verona, Italy for two months, and while we have visited Italy a number of times, we’ve not been to Verona. Then we’ll have 2-week stays in both Slovenia and Croatia.

Grandmother Turk's ship, 1913Visiting Slovenia has been on my (Jeannie’s) bucket list as this is where my dad’s side of the family came from.

You may ask, where is Slovenia? It is to the east of Italy at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea. From Venice, the border to Slovenia is less than 100 miles away. The southern border of Slovenia is Croatia. And don’t confuse it with Slovakia, a different place on the other side of Austria and Hungary.

Mr & Mrs John Turk, Jeannie's Paternal GrandparentsI had to research the evolution of the country as it has been called several different names through the years. In 1918 after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire at the end of WW1, The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was formed (actively supported by US President Woodrow Wilson). In 1929 it was renamed to Yugoslavia, and then Slovenia formally declared independence in 1991. Subsequently, what followed was a series of destructive wars that tore the former Yugoslavia apart for a decade.

I could easily spend hours studying the history of the country from early times until its independent state but that distracts me from the larger goal of uncovering the immigration of the Turk family to the US.

Grandfather Turk's documentThe search started about 10 years ago when my aunt JoAnn (dad’s sister) shared some of the genealogy research she had done. She mailed me various documents, obituaries, birth & marriage certificates, and letters written by Grandpa Turk in Slovenian. He was born in the US but when he was 4 years old, the family returned to Slovenia. Then  in 1922 he came back to the US and remained the rest of his life.  I don’t know when his parents entered the US, though there is a certificate of naturalization (citizenship) for his father (my great grandfather) dated January 27, 1892 in Michigan.

Grandmother Turk's Citizenship documentThere is less information about my grandmother, Pauline Kerzich. She came to Ellis Island in 1913 (at about 6 years old) on the USS Martha Washington but I have no records of her parents, and only the first name of her mother. She was born in Ljubljana, which is one of the cities we will visit for a week.

We will stay in Slovenia between June 1 and 16, and I hope to be able to travel back in time for a generation or two and learn:

  • Where were my great-grandparents born, and when did they immigrate to Michigan?
  • Why did my grandfather come back to the US and did any other family members return with him?
  • Can I trace the family tree back any further?
  • Might it be possible to locate any living relatives in Slovenia?

 Stay tuned, but there will be many blogs from Verona Italy as we live there from March 31 until May 31.

Apr 022017

Anniversary special - WCF-7557.jpgThe morning again started off rainy and cold, a continuation of the previous day’s weather. Yesterday was a very low-key day. Chris woke up with that scratchy, back-of-the-throat thing and by late afternoon we had to cancel our anniversary dinner reservations. It was cold and rained off-and-on throughout the day so even I did not go out. We keep some basic supplies on hand for times like this (Knorr makes some good dried soup mixes, different than what I find in the States, so we always keep some in the cupboard). We slept well and woke up to cool and cloudy skies.

Dinner prep - WCF-7565.jpgBut the cupboard is low on supplies and there is a Sunday outdoor market with lots of good things to buy. So I studied the map, put my destination into Google maps on my phone, grabbed the shopping bags, put on my rain coat and left Chris in the apartment sniffling and coughing.

With only one missed turn, I made it to the market. None of the streets seem to go straight, there are lots of turns and street names change. But we’ve navigated the area a lot in the last 1.5 weeks so I didn’t worry too much about getting lost. And a few extra steps are good since there are many yummy treats to enjoy.

Dinner prep - WCF-7563.jpgI was making up a menu as I walked through the market. It rained lightly off and on so I just pulled up my rain hood, besides there isn’t room between the vendor’s stalls to put up an umbrella. With my limited French (and horrible pronunciation) I managed to buy bread (why can’t we get bread this good in the US? There really is no comparison), ham, cheese (a comte fruite, yum), kale and green onions to add to the leftover rice, chicken pre-seasoned with Herbes de Provence (to make cooking dinner a bit easier), and a head of lettuce (beautiful varieties, and only one Euro each). That should take care of lunch for today and tomorrow, and dinner for today. Hopefully we can go out for dinner tomorrow.

I headed for home, choosing to walk a different route, and made it home without having to look at the map! Even with two bags of groceries, I walked up the 96 steps (since yesterday I spent the whole day sitting around).

Lunch - WCF-7559.jpgAfter unpacking the morning’s purchases, I looked to see where a small grocery store is since all shops will be closed by 1pm today, and we still needed milk and eggs, and maybe some more soup. Back out, and off in another direction but less than half a mile. The little Mono’p (they are small versions of the Monoprix super marché) is bigger than it seemed, with dried goods are upstairs. A long line at the checkout, then I returned home, and again took the stairs (definitely the last time, if I venture out again today).

After a good lunch, dinner will be pretty easy. But now the back of my throat feels a bit scratchy, glad I bought some more soup. The markets will be closed tomorrow but the grocery stores will be open. So if we need anything else, we may have to flip a coin to see who goes out! Oh well, it has been over a year since we’ve been sick, and with all the surfaces we touch and the crowded spaces we are in, that’s not too bad.

Lunch - WCF-7561.jpgThe day temperatures are generally pleasantly cool, though when it gets warmer we will need to request a fan from the apartment managers. It is nice to be able to open the windows, but then we get more street noise, but we are adjusting.

As we are able to connect to the VPN and stream movies from Amazon and the various TV channels, it will be a good rainy afternoon for tea and movies! Unfortunately we are losing an opportunity to visit the local museums. They are free on the first Sunday of the month. But we’ll have two more chances, or we will just have to pay admission!

Since Chris wasn’t with me to document my adventure in photographs, I’ll get him to add images from our wanderings since the last post.

Mar 162017

Goals are good, so mine is to pack lighter for this trip. Yes, easy to say, not so easy to do. I’ve learned a lot about what I need (and don’t) from the last three years of travel. Our route this year should allow us to avoid weather extremes, so I’m not packing thermals, but the raincoat will definitely travel again.

Chris is editing the computer, electronics and photo gear. I look at it and think, if we run low on money, we could open a small used electronics shop. But he probably thinks the same about my shoes and accessories collection.

I just completed my first practice pack, and am pleased to report that I may not have to sit on my duffel to close it this time. Now if I can just resist the urge to add more to fill the spare space. Our time this year will be split between city living in Toulouse France, and country living and walking in the Cotswolds England. This provides a bit of a challenge for packing clothing and shoes. The skirts I pack won’t be worn as much in England, and my hiking shoes won’t be needed for France. Oh well, if I don’t pack the right balance, I can always shop!!

Jan 102017

SelfieThis is another break in the Slow Nomads Blog timeline. Though the blog is about to take us to Iceland, then Montreal, before we return to Florida, in reality we returned in October. As our adventures evolve Jeannie writes a recap of our past three years and a glimpse of what is to come, as well as some of the adjustments we have made. The normal timeline will resume shortly, as I have to get caught up before we depart again.

Three years ago in 2014 we shifted the base of our life from a home with cars and work, to no home or cars or work. Well, no paid employment as we found that our life of travel takes a lot of work, but very different goals and tasks, and with no salary! We easily (well, most of the time) worked out a division of responsibilities that works pretty well, each of us using our strengths and taking on the tasks best suited to us and those we enjoy, while avoiding those best suited to the other. (Jeannie is chief financial officer and project planner while Chris is chief technologist, journalist, navigator, and photographer, oh, and Sherpa!)

Our initial phase began 15 August 2014, with life in France, and ended February 2015, six months later in Italy. Returning to Florida a brief six-weeks, we departed again 25 March, with plans to travel almost eight months this time. The initial week consisted of short stays in Norway and Sweden, before settling in for three fabulous months in Lyon France, then two months in Strasbourg France, and two months in Spain, split between Madrid and Barcelona. Our return to the US was a slow but pleasant 13-day cruise to Ft Lauderdale, arriving back in central Florida on 9 November 2015.

We then spent almost four months back in Florida, most of it in an apartment in New Smyrna Beach, and worked on plans for the next segment of travel. The list of countries to see grew, a route was planned, and 2016 became a very busy year.

We visited seven countries in seven months, most for a month or longer and a couple for a week or less. In a way, this was leisurely compared to some tours that cover seven cities in seven days, but still it was too fast of a pace for us. We started our journey in Ireland, moved into England, then Edinburgh Scotland then, after a short stay in Copenhagen Denmark, including a ferry to Bornholm with our friends Niels and Jette we made our way to Norway, to the northern city of Bergen. After a short stay in Reykjavik Iceland, we returned to North America. Montreal, Canada is a fabulous city and after a month, we turned south to Sheboygan Wisconsin for a short family reunion.

As we moved from place to place this year, we debated how to continue our travels. Returning to the US, to another short-term apartment or a good friend’s place, with frequent visits to our storage unit, had become too much like work. We considered buying a condo, but quickly agreed we didn’t want the responsibility of home ownership or a longer time commitment as we tried the home-based approach to travel. So we found an apartment and signed a one year lease. Now the home free travelers are home-based nomads. (You can see this and all of our travel apartments here)

After a couple of months of settling into our apartment (less than two miles from our prior home), we have begun to look ahead. Where to go next year? When to go? How long to stay away? We have most of the answers, but still more details to plan.  Also, since we will have the ongoing expense for our home base, we will likely be limiting our time away to six-months.

So on 20 March, 2017 we’ll take off for south central France, the city of Toulouse where we will live for three months. Since we no longer have a French visa, we are limited to three months in the EU/Schengen so we will then travel to England and spend three months in the Cotswolds. We look forward to many more walks in the country, across fields with sheep and cows. At this time we don’t yet have a return date but it will likely be no later than October 2017.

When we first embarked on this journey, we established three criteria for continuing this nomadic life:  Desire, Health, and Finances. We are happy to report that all indicators are still pretty solid for our travels to continue.

Our Desire to travel and experience “living” different places continues. Our good Health enables us to pull luggage, climb stairs and walk miles across cities and pasturelands. And our Finances will allow us to travel, though we’ll be on a slightly tighter budget due to the new cost of keeping an apartment in Florida.

So it has been a great three years, and we look forward to more adventure. Two things energize us when our nomadic life is a bit tiring. First, we continue to meet people and make new friends, and with FaceBook and email we are able to keep our new and old friendships alive. And second, we are able to share our experiences with friends and family through this blog, and your comments help keep us connected, and give us encouragement to continue to share.

You can see our path, where we’ve been and where we’re going here:

Thanks for joining us, we look forward to more experiences and sharing in 2017!

Jun 012016

After two years of travel, living mostly in larger cities, our goal was to find a more rural location with opportunities to be out in nature. After our search settled in northern England, we found an apartment with the following description:

Waddington, with St. Helens church. - WCF-0935.jpg“Are you looking for a traditional English cottage holiday set in one of the north of England’s prettiest villages? ‘Blackbird Cottage’, which has been awarded a three-star rating by Visit England, is located in the award-winning village of Waddington, in Lancashire’s beautiful Ribble Valley, nestling at the foot of Waddington Fell and the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, surrounded by some of England’s most gorgeous scenery.”

What more could we ask for?! So we booked Blackbird Cottage for six weeks, as the second home in our 2016 travel calendar. It was here that we discovered the beauty of living in a small village.

Waddington Coronation Garden - WCF-0956.jpgWaddington, England is a very small village, with a post office, two churches, three pubs, one café, but no grocery store.  This pretty little village is a regular winner of the Lancashire Best Kept Village awards, and only two miles from Clitheroe, a town with large grocery stores and many other amenities. After our numerous visits in England over the last 30+ years, we had never traveled to this area, and we now agree that Lancashire is a beautiful off-the-beaten-path spot.

To more fully embrace this village experience we also decided to live without a car for at least the first few weeks. The local buses would provide our basic travel needs, and we love to walk so this is the perfect area for a break from the automobile (well, except for the cold and the rain!)

Our walking route between Waddington and Clitheroe - WCF-1013.jpgAlmost every other day we walked the two miles into Clitheroe for groceries and other errands. When you have to bag and carry your groceries, you can only buy for a couple of days at a time. And arriving to a new kitchen, it takes a few shopping trips before you’re really equipped to cook. We would usually then take the bus home, making public transport an important part of our daily life, and once you know the schedule, it was really pretty easy.

Unfortunately, due to budget cutbacks, the villages are seeing their bus services reduced so with only one bus per hour between Waddington and Clitheroe, it took some careful timing, or else we’d just walk home if the grocery bags weren’t too heavy.

On a ramble ... - WCF-1086.jpgWhen we weren’t walking to Clitheroe for groceries, we walked just for the fun of it, and to enjoy the beautiful countryside.  We walked the back roads and farm lanes, across fields, pastures, and farms, and through small towns and villages.

The extensive system of public footpaths provides limitless opportunities to walk in England. Using the British Ordnance Survey maps, we rambled over the countryside for miles and miles, only getting lost a few times.

Curious lamb, but not leaving mama's side. - WCF-1251.jpgAnd what a sensory experience walking here is. The cheerful songs from robins and other birds perching in trees and flitting across fields provided a musical accompaniment to our walks. The almost continuous bleating of sheep and lambs provided smiles as we made-up stories about their conversations. We glimpsed hares springing across the meadows and pheasant dashing behind cover.

Our bovine followers. - WCF-3058.jpgOne day we turned around and a dozen or more cows we had seen as we entered their pasture were all in step right behind us. When we stopped, they stopped, all lined up left to right. When we started walking they started again. It only ended when we crossed a stile and they watched us disappear.

The footpaths took us into wooded areas along flowing rivers then over the top of a hill to see miles of rolling green fields bounded by stone walls, and then across open moors with no plants over two feet tall.

On a ramble ... - WCF-1221.jpgOh, not all is cherries and cream, the smells of the farms frequently waft through the air. Yet even though it can be pungent, it is rarely unpleasant. Then there is the mud, always around stream crossings – thick, gooey and slippery. If it has rained recently it can be deep as well. And the moors hold water like a giant sponge releasing it with every step.  Good footwear is a necessity, and a stiff brush for when you return isn’t a bad thing either.

On a six-mile hike with the Clitheroe Ramblers. - WCF-1285.jpgWalking clubs here are often known as Ramblers, and we joined the Clitheroe Ramblers on a couple of their walks and quickly came to understand and enjoy rambling. Then once on our own, with the local Ordnance Survey map in hand, we’d wander across a pasture, dodging the droppings of the farm animals, cross fences and walls at stiles, follow hedgerows, walk along or through woods, periodically checking the map and compass to confirm our route with small signs occasionally posted along the way.

The village of Barley from atop Pendle Hill. - WCF-4185.jpgThe country views are expansive – rolling hills and dales, green fields laced together with old stone walls, and dotted with white sheep or cows, clusters of trees, and flowing streams.

After three weeks car-free, we picked up a rental car, and our wanderings could start further afield, but seldom more than 30 miles of travel. In our final days in this lovely village, we left our car in the parking lot, and walked the local routes to savor the sights and smells, hoping to retain the fullness of this experience. For all of our travels, this location has been exceptional and with Chris’s great photographs, we can relive our walking experience as we travel on from here.


Apr 152016

Chris and I are now in the small town of Kinnitty, Ireland, relaxing in the parlor of the Ardmore Country House B&B. Well, I’m relaxing and Chris is furiously composing and typing the next blog post. His goal is to get it published before we leave Ireland in 3 days. This will be a great story with lots of good photos, but we are falling further behind because we are quite busy enjoying this great little country. In fact, a friend posted on FaceBook today, where are Chris and Jeannie, literally?!

While Chris is busy researching, composing, typing and tagging pictures, I thought I’d find a quick way to bring you up to date. As many have realized by now, I don’t write much. Numbers are my focus and you wouldn’t find my spreadsheets very interesting.  I do have a great pivot table which shows our different categories of expenses totaled for each year since 2013 (pre-slow nomad life). I like seeing how we’re managing our expenses as we move further down this traveling life. But I digress from the intent of this post, and you’ve probably already started dozing!

So you may be wondering, where are the Fooshees and what are they doing that they are too busy to write. So without further delay, here is a summary of the highlights from the last 3 weeks, and the topics of future blog posts. We have had a bit of rain here but not enough to slow us down and catch up on writing. It will take a bit of compression and elimination for Chris to bring our posts up to date. Stay tuned…

Where we’ve been/what we’ve done Date
Last Post Killarney-Dingle Peninsula drive Mar 19-21
Since then Killarney-Gap of Dunloe walk Mar 25
Killarney-Beara Peninsula drive Mar 30-31
Killarney-anniversary dinner (42) with Irish friends Apr 1
Killarney-many walks (Muckross House, Ross Castle, Blue Pool) Apr 2-8
Killarney-Trad music sessions Apr 2-8
Doolin-Cliffs of Moher walk (gale force winds) Apr 10
Doolin-guided walk in the Burren Apr 11
Doolin-music sessions Apr 11
Doolin-ferry to Aran Island Inisheer Apr 12
Doolin-another walk in the Burren Apr 13
Kinnitty-music session with 11 musicians Apr 13
Kinnitty-2 hikes, total 12 miles Apr 14
Kinnitty-Lough Boora Parklands & Clonmacnoise Apr 15


Mar 112016

The route from Dublin-to-KillarneyAfter a good but short stay in Dublin, we took a taxi to the car rental at the airport (we recommend: Conn’s Ireland Car Rental). The line was a bit long, computers were up and down, and we decided to upgrade to a diesel rather than petrol car with a bit more space. We had a coupon for a free GPS (hmm, not so free after the car upgrade), and the attendant set up our location. Chris quickly familiarized himself with driving on the opposite side for the gear shift (it was his decision to drive a standard!), mirrors and turn signal and off we drove.

Quickly it seemed that the GPS program was not what was expected based on our Google maps. After a few extra turns, we drove onto the M50 southbound. Every little while, the GPS wanted us to leave the motorway for a different route. We held firm to the manual map we had, I checked the settings on the GPS, and eventually the GPS corrected itself and we felt more confident we were on the right route.

A street in Killarney WCF-6496.jpgI was watching the time as we wanted to reach the apartment by 3:30 to meet the owner and gain access to and instructions for the apartment. The route was pretty clear and easy to navigate as we traveled along several different national roads. The last turn onto Ross Rd soon brought us to the apartment building across from the Killarney National Park. We were now home.

Paul greeted us, took us around his apartment, providing instructions on heating, appliances, wood-burning fireplace (not sure we’ll use this), and left for London where he lives part of the year. This is the first time we have stayed in an apartment that is occupied by the owner between rentals. I am still getting used to the difference this makes, as there are more knickknacks around, and I had to shuffle things in the kitchen cupboards to make room for our groceries. But there is a good set of condiments to use, and a reasonable set of dishes and cookware. We have a dishwasher, and the washer/dryer combination machine looks pretty easy to use.

Near the end of our walk into Killarney through the National Park WCF-6508.jpgThe apartment is mostly under-floor heated, very nice for our feet, and we are staying warm and comfortable. The upstairs bedroom is very nice, with a comfortable bed and soft linens. The 2 dormer windows provide great light and views to the park. And there are shades to block the light, though it is nice to view the stars between the clouds. In the morning we can hear the jaunting cars; these are horse drawn carts used to drive people/tourists between the town and Ross Castle, and also along the Gap of Dunloe. We plan to enjoy this form of transport at some point.

Spring is ready to explode. WCF-6504.jpgOn our first night, we enjoyed a good meal and conversation at a local restaurant/pub. Our walk back to the apartment was initially well lit by street lights but the final stretch was very dark until the lights of the apartment directed us for the final stretch. We shook off the evening’s cold and slept in our cozy warm bed.

We woke the next morning to the sound of the horses starting their day being led down to Ross Castle. We gathered our backpacks and shopping bags and walked through the national forest to the town. What a beautiful route! And such a change from our time in big cities, it is exactly what we were looking for during this year of travel. We found a nice little café, and enjoyed an Irish breakfast. After shopping at each of the 2 grocery stores in town, we returned home via the national park road (we also have a shorter though less scenic option), with provisions for the next day or so. As Chris has the symptoms of a cold starting, we bought a couple of soups for easy nourishment, and some hearty Irish bread.

It is now Wednesday, our second full day in Killarney, We’ve had some rain, lots of clouds, a bit of blue sky, and brief peek of the sun; think this will be the norm. Chris is feeling pretty low with his cold and will stay in today. I think it is about time for me to grab my coat, scarf, and gloves and take a walk before more showers arrive.

I don’t contribute to the blog often, and hope you enjoy my perspective of our early days in Killarney, Ireland. – Jeannie

Panoramic view along our walk into Killarney through the National Park WCF-20.jpg

(The image above is a big panorama, and will open in a new tab, loading may be slow.)

Janet, John, Jeannie and Gene (CW from left)PS – This has been an eventful time too, as shortly after departing Dublin, I received word that my father passed away peacefully in the night. While this was very sad news, it was good to know he was at peace, and in his final sleep, joining my mom who left almost 8 years before. This added a somber note to our day, however with each new vista, I remembered our family travels during my dad’s service in the Navy. Each new location was exciting, and our stay in Japan imprinted me with the desire to travel and experience new places in the world. And I am fortunate to have a partner who shares my wanderlust. So we will travel on, and appreciate the inspiration and support from my father.


Jul 032015

As we settle into our new apartment in Strasbourg we realize that it is very different from our flat in Lyon. It’s nice, but smaller, and with not as much of a view … from the inside.

_MG_2507.jpgAs soon as we walk out onto the pedestrian-only street we are in the bustling Petite-France old quarter. Medieval buildings of black and white timber-framed buildings line the streets and canals. Small alleys and side-streets lead to new places (plazas) filled with shops, cafes, and restaurants. So, we are beginning to get a feel for our neighborhood.

We are also dealing with a heat wave (highs 37-38+°C or 98-101°F) … and life without air conditioning. It seems to help that our apartment is in an old building. There is a stone in the wall with the date 1846. When we enter from the busy pedestrian street Grand rue, we walk through a long, dark, cool, narrow hallway, past an old well and hand-pump, up a flight of stairs, down a short hall to our front door.

_MG_2521.jpgThe apartment stays pretty cool (relatively speaking) and quiet as there are no windows out to the street side, and the windows on the back of our U-shaped apartment face the half-timbered central courtyard. Our windows don’t get the direct sun, so we keep the shades closed, only open the windows at night (if it is cooler outside), close them in the morning, and keep moving our one little fan to whatever room we’re in.

Today we found one of the many open-air food markets. After two days of only eating restaurant food, it was time to plan some meals. In the last apartment we had a large kitchen, with good windows and a regular breeze (pre-heat wave). Now we have a petite kitchen and there is no way I’m turning on the oven in this heat! So our food purchases will require some assembly – like cleaning salad greens, cutting (pre-cooked) rotisserie chicken, slicing cheese, washing blueberries and cherries, oh, and opening the wine bottle (!), but nothing that really requires real cooking. Heck, I don’t even want to eat a warm meal sitting outside in the shade at a restaurant.

_MG_2485.jpgAs we wandered and shopped this morning, we found a local cheese shop and made our first purchases. The woman who assisted us spoke a little English, so that is helpful. We told her we’ll be in Strasbourg for two months and will be frequent visitors to her shop. Across the street, is an Italian deli and we saw many types of fresh pastas and sauces so once we are ready to turn the stove on, we’ll be shopping there for quick simple meals.

Sadly, we’ve not yet seen a Picard, the gourmet frozen food store we found everywhere in Lyon. Very handy to have something in the freezer when we haven’t planned very well and most places are closed on Sunday and Monday. Guess I’ll need to find other alternatives … or plan better.

In spite of the heat, we have wandered our area quite a bit. We received a vast amount of materials from the tourist information center, and it looks like we will be able to stay very busy visiting new places near and just a little bit far while living in Strasbourg.

This is the 1000 year celebration (1015-2015)of the Strasbourg Cathedral, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, the second most-visited cathedral in France after Notre-Dame de Paris. It is an amazing structure with extensive, delicate carvings all over the exterior, and soaring, beautiful stained glass windows on the inside. At 142 metres (466 feet) in height, it was the world’s tallest building until 1874, and can be seen from far and wide. There are celebrations around the cathedral and throughout the city for the next month, which will provide Chris opportunities for more great photos to share.

So, for now let us share a few views in and around our new city…


Jun 282015

_MG_0302Leaving friends and family last year, we hoped life would not be lonely. When you don’t speak the language where you are living, how can you make friends? We have discovered it is not so difficult. If you are open to encounters and accept invitations even when you are a little unsure. Early in our travels, as we relaxed in a café in Saint Malo, a brief conversation was sparked by a friendly, young French couple. That exchange inspired us to visit Lyon last year for three weeks, and then choosing it to be our home base for three months on this second phase of our nomadic life.

_MG_5877.jpgAs our friendship with Nicholas and Lucie developed, they included us in a family gathering for the birthday of their sweet daughter Noemie. We met their parents, sisters, brothers and other close friends. Our French circle expanded and our new friends have drawn us in more closely to their lives. Now, as our time in Lyon is drawing to an end, discussions of meeting at a future time have begun.

This particular weekend began Friday evening with neighbors who have become friends. Isabelle and Christopher invited us to an evening of drinks and snacks, and her brother Bruno and his wife and daughter also joined us. As they all speak English very well, conversation flowed smoothly, and we continued to expand our knowledge of French culture, wines, cheeses and a number of different types of amuse-bouche or single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre. It was great to share an evening of friendship la mode à la française.

Saturday night we had Nicholas, Lucie and Noemie to our apartment for dinner. In the weeks leading up to this evening, Chris and I decided on a menu, and with the help of Paul at our local wine shop, selected the wines to accompany the food. For the appetizers, we served endive leaves filled with blue cheese, orange pieces, and walnuts, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, along with small crackers and olives. For dinner we served a filet mignon (as pork tenderloin is called here) seasoned with garlic, rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper . We also roasted small potatoes, and served fresh haricot verte to complete the main courses.

As we cannot begin to compete with the French pastries here, we served a simple dessert of mango sorbet, garnished with a cinnamon cookie and sprig of mint. Little Noemie enjoyed her own glace au chocolat. Over dinner we discussed options to meet again before we leave Europe and suggested meeting in Barcelona in October. They asked if we had been to Morocco and when we replied no, we all soon agreed that Marrakesh would be a great place to share more time together.

This weekend was the summer solstice, and also the Fête de la Musique . Throughout the evening, as we ate on the terrasse of our apartment, we heard music coming from the nearby place du Château. So after dinner we took a walk to see the evening’s festivities. Though it was late and the band was packing up, recorded music was playing and people of all ages were dancing. Nicholas remarked how much our little area was indeed like a small village, with local families and friends coming together to enjoy food, music and dancing. We took a short stroll down our shopping street, returned home, and said au revoir to our friends.

Next: Our weekend was just getting started.

The images for this post are a varied selection of impressions from in and around Lyon.