London, oh London!

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Arrived early early at London Heathrow on a mostly sunny day! And, though the immigration line was slow, the thought of skedaddling to our friend’s flat (a block away from Hyde Park), catching a quick nap after the overnight flight from Dulles, and then strolling along the Serpentine, helped the nearly hour long wait pass without too much anxiety. First time on the Heathrow Express and what a treat to zip from terminal 5 right to Paddington Station in about 20 minutes. Stepping off the train into that massive, iron-arched station said “Welcome to London!”

Today’s main objective was to visit Harrod’s food halls – 4 gorgeous halls devoted to comestibles of every kind. The seafood hall has a recessed ceiling with an oceanic theme, leather-covered stools to sit on while enjoying oysters or sushi; the chocolate hall (oh, there’s plenty of other confectionary, but my heart beats for cocoa!) includes fantastic displays of enticing goodies, many packaged in iconic Harrod’s boxes and tins. The fruits and vegetables hall has ornate chandeliers and everywhere is lovely old tiling. My idea of a perfect sleepover? In a Harrod’s food hall with carte blanche to picnic!

The Seafood Hall

The Seafood Hall


But for this evening, we’re just home from shopping for dinner at the local Waitrose market…and putting some pence aside for a treat tomorrow!

TIP: Stay with friends if possible – there’s no better way to feel more like a resident than a tourist. Shopping for food like the locals is fun and eating meals at “home” saves a bit of cash for a splurge meal another time. If you don’t happen to have a friend, try airbnb! More another time on this superb network for finding a place to sleep that’s more home than hotel. Often, you can cook your own meals in your airbnb host homes.

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How to JourneyWise

5 days til departure!  We planned our trip to India over many months, but the actual tasks involved were simple, echoing the thoughtful research we did during many years of living overseas, transferring between countries, some more familiar than others.  In the early years, we didn’t have the benefit of the internet or search engines – the clatter of the fax machine or the sound of a heavy envelope dropping into the mailbox would signal the arrival of eagerly awaited information – to be added to that gathered from conversations with friends of friends who had been where we were going.

This is how it always begins for us:

Consult the world atlas!  Yep, even in this GPS and Google Maps world, we haul out the massive Times Atlas of the World (one of the best wedding presents ever), plop it on the table and start dreaming…

Talk with friends, family, and colleagues if they’ve been where you want to go; take notes, especially about what they liked best, worst & what they’d do differently.

Browse the guidebooks in the library to understand not only the possible highlights of the trip, but with an eye on which book (if any) you might purchase to take apart and take with you.  Plenty of websites give advice about specific guide books, but looking at them yourself is best of all.

Poke about the web and let serendipity guide your explorations of where other travelers have gone and what they learned – there are blogs aplenty.  Copy and paste any ideas that appeal into a word document that can become the basis for your personal guidebook and if there’s even a chance you might reuse any of that info, be sure to note where it came from.

Take a few minutes (or more!) to reflect on why you’re taking this particular trip and let that guide your plans.  For example, our India trip takes us to a country neither of us knows well; is quite far away from our east coast USA home; and to which we may not return.  So, we’re going for a longer time (4 weeks) and after putting a rough itinerary together ourselves, reached out to a recommended travel service in India to help with reservations and travel logistics – even though that goes against our massive DIY ethic.  For India, we were willing to turn some of that responsibility over to someone right there, and treat ourselves to a little less worry.

Read Read Read.  The subtitle of the JourneyWise blog is “Read. Travel.  Learn it all, over again.”  Before a trip, I’ll look for fiction set in the country to which we’re travelling or by native authors.  I’ll read essays and other non-fiction, including history, as well as news articles that relate to where we are headed.  I’m a reader with deep curiosity, and I love a bookstore – searching them out wherever I go.    For India, here’s what I’ve read recently (not including many others read through the years):

The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Karma Gone Bad by Jenny Feldon

Holy Cow by Sarah Macdonald

India in Mind edited by Pakaj Mishra

Read. Travel!  Enjoy…

How the Journey Began…

JourneyWise burst into life a couple of months ago while I was on a United flight from Washington, DC to San Francisco, the start of a two-week trip (can you call it a vacation when you don’t have a job?) that included Thanksgiving with family in San Francisco and then a leisurely exploratory drive to San Diego.  Two weeks was a bit arbitrary, why not one week, or three? What’s the perfect amount of time to be away from home?  Thoughts like these had kept me scribbling away in a notebook (not enough room to open the laptop) in my economy seat, and as we landed at SFO I wondered not only how the flight had gone by so fast, but whether I might have found a new focus for our year of travel sabbatical.

Zio Ziegler Mural San Francisco

Zio Ziegler Mural San Francisco

 

Across from Rainbow Grocery San Francisco

Across from Rainbow Grocery San Francisco

Our next trip starts soon, and will take us to India via London, for almost six weeks.  Next time, I’ll share some of the ways in which we are trying to JourneyWise…

 

Traveling “the Second-Half”

After living around the world for nearly 20 years, it has only taken a little more than 5 back in the U.S.A. to infect us with not just a travel bug, but with an urgent “where should we go and how long shall we stay” full-blown virus.  Combining that with having arrived at a certain age (the one where we’ve written our final college tuition check and decided to take a sabbatical from work) – well, we’ve decided it’s time to travel and see what we discover about ourselves along the way.

My husband had no trouble calling himself “retired,” while my reaction to being asked “so what’s it like to be retired” after leaving my wonderful job was to respond, “retire…I’m not retired, I’m exploring, I’m consulting, I’m rebalancing…”  It was pretty clear, pretty quick, that the traditional definition of “retired” was not the one that would work for me; or many others, if all the articles and blogs about the “new retirement” and “the adult gap year” are any measure.  We’ve got energy, ambition, and curiosity to devote to fashioning a new kind of second-half!

I hope you’ll join us from time to time and see how one couple is redefining what it means to say farewell (at least temporarily) to fulltime employment, and figure out how to fully the live rest of our lives.  Come along with us!

From time to time, we might look back at some of the wonderful places we’ve travelled and lived – pondering, should we go back to where we’ve been before?  Or explore someplace new?  What do you think?  We lived in Vienna, Austria where this picture was taken.

The Christmas markets, where mugs of  warm spiced wine kept us warm.

The Christmas markets, where mugs of warm spiced wine kept us warm.

 

 

Luggage Tags

Quote

From time to time (alright, often) a quote is all it takes to send me eagerly onward – in new directions or with new inspiration.  I find them under bottle caps, on package labels, in books, calendars, email signatures; they make us giggle, sigh, or simply, think.  I’d like mine on my luggage tags!  Here’s today’s:

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring