Wednesday Write-Up: So the Days Float Through My Eyes

Well, here it’s Wednesday again, and we are leaving for another country tomorrow. The last 8 days felt slow, but went so fast. I am just starting to acclimate and love the amazing city of Budapest, Hungary.

It is interesting that none of us three had been affected by the time changes very much or culture changes either for that matter until we arrived here. We had very few issues in Lisbon, a bit more in Disneyland Paris, and many more here in Budapest it felt like. It felt like a daunting task to be here and now I am sad to leave as it feels as though I have just let the realness of the city in.

There were a couple of reasons that it was hard to get used to being here. The first was the jet lag. For some reason, all of a sudden, the time changes caught up with all of us and the hour difference in time from Lisbon, set us back a couple of days. All three of us struggled with exhaustion, crankiness and headaches the first three days we were here. It was really a bummer, we thought that our mutant powers made us invincible to jet lag.

Secondly, it was the language. Hungarian is…well…a really foreign language. There is no connection to any other words that I know unless they are words that we all have transferred from another culture, such as buffet or manicure. But it took me this whole week just to master saying köszönöm, which means thank you. Its a tough language to understand and speak, I wish I had had more time to practice.

Third, the food here was just okay. We did find some great restaurants, such as a bavarian place, a vegan place, and a buffet that were really good. But these were all not really hungarian places and I am not much of a soup person so I didn’t even venture to try the Hungarian Goulash (I know…shame on me). I will write more in my Friday post about the wonderful restaurants that we did find and love.

Fourth, and last, the prices here are much higher than we expected. Mind you we have been blinded by the wonderful cost of living in Portugal, so it is probably not as bad as say, Paris or London, but it was a bit more expensive for the things we love than we had planned. For example, in Lisbon I paid 20 Euros for an exciting new haircut and here I just had to pay 32 Euros for a trim. (I chopped off all my hair and now sport a pixie cut..who would have thought I could have pulled it off?! But I love it!). Also the food costs her are significantly more than I am used to, about 30-40 euros a meal. It really isn’t that bad, I know, but my stupid expectations get me every time.

My New Haircut and Zoë on the Chain Bridge in Budapest

My New Haircut and Zoë on the Chain Bridge in Budapest

Now, after I have said all these things, I want to tell you that I love Budapest, I love the architecture, the weather has actually been sunny for 4 out of 8 days we have been here, and the people are very helpful and friendly. I want to come back and experience some more. Until next time Budapest… viszontlátásra (good-bye)!

5 Ways to Make Your Move Easier

Now that we are officially on the road and have been living out of our suitcases for the past 6 days, I have some hindsight on things I would do differently next time around. Hopefully this post will save you some pain and suffering if you decide to move or travel to a foreign country.

  1. Give Yourself Time

This is something that Chad and I both thought we were doing right, but it turns out we were a bit too lackadaisical with. We gave ourselves 5 months to plan this trip. We planned our first four flights. We decided on types of baggage, travel insurance, and took care of all the paperwork needed for our trip. We felt that we had everything under control, the things on our to-do lists were getting checked off. Its not until a move is almost over that you realize that there is a ton of stuff that lies beneath the surface waiting to reveal itself when you least have time for it.

Chad worked until the Friday before our move on the following Sunday. We had our going away party on Saturday and so Sunday had to complete all that was left (which ended up being a lot more than I thought) with massively bad hangovers, both emotional and physical hangovers. I can say that it was an unpleasant experience and the lesson that I have taken away from this trying experience is to give yourself enough time when planning a move such as this. One and a half days was not enough time for us. Make sure to give notice at your place of employment at least one week before your planned departure date from your home. Figure out what amount of time you think you will need and add a week. This gives you time to get all those little surprise tasks out of the way without making you a walking talking stress ball.

  1. Pack Your Bags Numerous Times

This morning I realized that I have no shampoo/conditioner, no body wash and no hair goop. I have not had a chance to go buy some either. Because we did not give ourselves enough time (see how I tied that all in?) to do everything and double check our bags, I look like the crazy cat lady in the Simpsons. It’s hard enough living out of a suitcase without the added embarrassment of people crossing the street so as not to walk past the crazy looking traveler. Check your bags many times before your last day at home and then check it once more before you leave for good.

  1. Work Together

    Chad and I are a good team. We are able to communicate and discuss things that need to be done and then do them. What we should have taken advantage of though, is working with others. There were many people that offered their help to us, whether it was to move heavy furniture, or play with Zoë while we packed boxes. We didn’t want to impose on anyone and we tend to shy away from letting others help us. We are a bit too self-sufficient sometimes and I think that that was to our detriment, we should have utilized the offered help and lowered our stress levels.

  2. Exercise More

    I know this may seem a bit weird, but to someone who enjoys eating as much as I do, the possibility of gaining weight while traveling is high. Like red alert high. I wish that I would have gotten into an exercise routine (even just doing a few sit-ups everyday) before we moved because once one is on the road, routines get harder and harder to make and hold onto.

    We have stayed with my parents for three days and are currently staying with Chads’ parents and the amount of good food that they have made for us is both awesome and scary at the same time. I have to be very careful to watch the amount that I eat because I want to be able to fit into all those lovely clothes that I packed for the whole trip. I really wish I would have exercised.

  3. Say Good-bye Only Once

    This last one is probably the most important one to me. I felt that it was imperative that we take some time to stay with family before we head out on our adventure. I thought that it would give us quality time to visit and make memories with our extended family. And indeed it has been a great time of bonding with both sides of the family, especially for Zoë, who is completely attached to her Nana and Grandpa, and Grandma and Grandpa. She also probably loves the fact that she has been spoiled rotten this week. It will take many weeks to repair the damage of her being completely doted on for the past week.

    That’s not the only reason that I think that this week long good-bye is too long. It is way too emotional for me. Between wanting to cry all the time and pulling away from my family and getting cranky so as not to cry, it makes for a stressful situation sometimes.

    I love our family, but for my own emotional well-being, I know that if I were to do this again, I would have a going-away dinner (or maybe a whole day) with them and then say good-bye and leave. This would also save me from having to retrain my daughter in every way imaginable (okay maybe that’s a little exaggeration), not that I don’t love that fact that Zoë is special to her grandparents. She is one lucky girl and I am happy that her grandparents want to give her everything.

I am sure, absolutely sure actually, that there will be many more things along the way on our journey that I will look back and want to change. I know that I will be making more lists like this, it is inevitable, we learn from our mistakes. I accept that challenge, I will learn from my mistakes and hope that I can help you learn from my mistakes too. Now it’s your turn to share, what are some things that you wish you could have changed about the way you left your home and/or family behind?

Good-bye For Now

On Sunday we will officially be homeless. We will be homeless by choice, our trip is set to begin. Our bags are packed, our boxes of what we felt necessary to save are tucked away in my wonderful sister-in-laws’ attic, and all that is left to do is to say our good-byes.

This last part of what must be done is the most awful, heart-wrenching, emotionally draining aspect of preparing to travel for such a long period of time as we are. Up until this point it has been easy to just think of the amazing places that we will be going to and experiences we will have, putting the thought of saying good-bye to those I love out of my mind.

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The last time that Chad and I left for foreign shores we had a set time frame as to when we would return to the States. Our plan was to stay for at least two years. And two years it ended up being, mostly because I had it in my head that I would be seeing every one back home in that time frame.

This trip is different, we are leaving for an indefinite amount of time, we may travel for a month or we may completely relocate, only to return periodically to see family and friends. Good-byes are difficult, but saying so long when you don’t know when you are going to see the person again… well it’s awkward and sometimes unpleasant and mostly just downright sad. I struggled quite a bit with the good-byes on our last trip, so I have to admit that I am apprehensive as to how the ones for this trip will play out.

For our friends, we are having a kid-free going away party (many thanks Mom and Dad!) where all of our acquaintances, friends and adopted family can come and get a little bit of quality time with us before we go. We will entertain them with the current plans we have for our trip and try to harass them into coming to visit us at some point in our travels. Seeing a familiar face after traveling for a while is so refreshing, so hopefully some people will take advantage of the opportunity of a free-place to stay in a far off land. The night will be full of laughter, probably some tears, and most definitely a bunch of beer, whiskey and other spirits will be enjoyed. (Really, how often do you get to leave your toddler over night and just have fun? We must take advantage.)

As far as our families go, for the first three days of our vagabonding we will be staying at my parents house, followed by three days at Chads parents house. We are going to try to get as much quality time with both sides of the family as possible. Its hard to equate three days with an unknown time apart, but it will have to do. Quality not quantity right?

We are hopeful that both sets of parents will come and visit us along our journey. My parents have traveled in Europe before, so I think they will be an easier sell than Chads parents. I am not sure, but I do not think that they have traveled far (with 7 kids how could you really?), at least not outside of America. So for the three days that we have them all to ourselves, we will have to lay it on thick (think used car salesman “Have I got a deal for you!”). I would love nothing more than for our families to share in part of our adventure. And if they cannot then at least we live in the age where everyone is just a video chat away. Thank God for Skype!

On an even more somber and depressing note, there is one parting that I am finding especially trying. I am in denial that I will have to say adios to Mexican food. Delicious burritos, tacos, nachos, carnitas…I seriously cannot continue with the list, my mouth is watering, my stomach rumbling. How will I assuage the craving once we are on the road? I know that even though I have to leave my mom, when I miss her, I can still call her. How can I call a tostada de ceviche? Seriously, someone needs to invent the food maker box thing from Star Trek. I guess until someone does that (come on people, there are 3D printers now that can print guns, wheres my magical authentic mexican food maker?) I will have to cook my own mexican food. This good-bye, feels like a most final good-bye. And that makes me sad (and hungry). I love my family and friends and of course mexican food is not the only thing here in Santa Rosa that I will miss, but when you all come visit us you better smuggle me a burrito in your carry-on.

What was something that you had a hard time saying good-bye to when you’ve traveled or moved? It doesn’t have to be a type of food, unless you are obsessed with food like me. On that note, I am off to get a snack!