Paris in February

We are going to Paris next month!! I’ve been once, but Chris has never been before. I love to see a new city through his eyes. Our friend Jamie is also coming along. Y’all, she’s never been out of the country! I cannot wait to see this beautiful city through the eyes of these babes.

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My partner in crime, I mean travel.

I wanted to talk a little bit about my planning process. Planning trips is as much a part of the fun for me as the trip itself. It really is. I love researching and seeing all the opportunities for new adventures. And listen, you can never do it all. Never. Not in one trip or 100,000 trips. And that is ok! I also really enjoy local culture, clothing, shoes, and interests. Safety is always a top priority so researching what to wear so as not to stand out as a tourist is something I always take time to do. Plus, I’m a woman that loves fashion. What can I say?!

I start with the big things everyone wants to see. Then, and this is important, I self test and I ask my travel companions to think about if those things are something they really want to see, or if they have FOMO because other people think we need to see them. Once that’s done, I list the days of the trip and start an itinerary. If traveling somewhere with a time difference and jet lag is a concern, you want to plan for that. For Paris, we will take an overnight flight and arrive at approximately 11am on a Friday. I will plan an outdoor activity, most likely a walking tour of some kind, and an early dinner. No naps for us. We want to acclimate as quickly and as easily as possible to maximize our time in the City of Lights!

An itinerary is important for me. I am a planner. I don’t jam pack my schedule because you have to leave time for real, authentic experiences that crop up and can’t be planned for. But, I need to know the gist of when I’m going to hit my must see sites. I like to sort all of the logistical details beforehand. The last thing I want to do on vacation is think like a project manager and consume my precious time with not fun things like figuring out bus/ train schedules. I try to take care of as much of that as possible before my feet ever land in the country I’m visiting.

For my travel experiences, I like to have bit of the popular mixed with a bit of the off the beaten path, with a heavy sprinkle of experiences over museums, sites, or places. What’s that mean, experiences? We’re going to Versailles this trip. Instead of hopping on the train and going on a self tour, we’re going to book a bike tour. Specifically, a bike tour that will take us to a market, Marché Notre-Dame, where we’ll buy lunch items to enjoy on the lawns of the beautiful gardens at Versailles. We’ll be able to pick up freshly roasted chicken, delicious and aromatic cheese, wine, fresh fruit, pastries, and anything else that strikes our fancy, all while rubbing elbows with locals. Now that is an experience!

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Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Pexels.com

You’re probably wondering where I learn about the places I’ll be visiting. Google. Yep. It’s true. I Google everything. If I find a resource I really like, I book mark it for later and return to it over and over again. Also, for European travel, there is no better resource then Rick Steves Travel Forum and Website. He is a wealth of information and his travel forum is a great place to ask real people for their thoughts, opinions, and ideas. I also like to pull up a blank document and note (copy/paste) anything I find interesting. I can always go back to that list and see if there’s a must do that’s cropped up on there. When my itinerary starts to take shape, I can also find other interesting things to plug in throughout our trip.

That’s a bit about my process. When I get back from the trip, I’ll post my itinerary with comments on our personal experiences. If you have an upcoming trip, don’t hesitate to contact me. I love to talk travel and am happy to help you have a trip of a lifetime!

xo,

Cyndi

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It’s So Loud in My Head

Sometimes it is like 10 radios all tuned to different stations. It is loud. It is confusing. There is no coherency. Your heart starts to race. Your head starts to pound. You start to feel overwhelmed and then overcome. If there were one thing, you could shut it out, shut it down, but there isn’t. They are many. You are just you. You want to drop to your knees, cover your ears, cradle your head and be still. But you can’t. There are generally people. They are watching. Expecting. Waiting. You have to reach deep, pull all those errant pieces pulling in opposite directions together and deal. You tell yourself there will be time to fall apart later.

You make it through your day. No one knows what you went through. No one suspects that a war was waged. No one sees the exhaustion, or if they do, they don’t understand its cause. You’re bone tired. Dead tired. The kind of tired that is a weight around your chest. You lay down in your bed to rest. And that is when it is loudest in my head.

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Photo by Oscar Mikols on Pexels.com

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The Shit that Wants to Bury Us

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I saw a reference to “don’t let the shit bury you” and I thought, “Wow. What a great writing prompt.” So, I don’t really know where to start. I love making lists so that’s as good a place as any.

  1. Am I fulfilled working as a LuLaRoe Consultant? (Not entirely. I don’t like doing anything consistently and I hate online sales.)
  2. What about getting your Real Estate license? (Maybe, but would I really be doing it for me, the long term happiness of me? Or… would I be doing it because I like to begin and create new things? And what about the realtor I just worked for? She ended up being a big jerk. Am I wanting to do this to prove I can be better than her?)
  3. We just adopted a 16.5 year old cat out of a crappy situation. Shadow, and the other 3 cats kind of hate each other. He also has ear cancer. I hope he dies in his sleep because the thought of having to see him suffer, or put him down, breaks me.
  4. I’m carrying around about 85lbs of extra weight. I hate to exercise. I. MUST. CHANGE. MY. THOUGHTS. AROUND. EXERCISE.
  5. All of my friends have families. Children. I don’t by choice. Up until very, very recently I used to think of my friends as family, since mine isn’t that big, and definitely not that close. It’s hard to discover that they’re at the top of your priority list and you’re at that bottom of theirs. I feel lonely.
  6. I started a pet sitting business by accident. What the fuck do I do now? Is this going to fulfill me and make me happy long term?
  7. I’m not sleeping. Again. I’m so fucking tired of this. Why can’t I just be normal?

So. How do I not let this shit bury me? I keep a shovel handy. I breathe. I put one foot in front of the other, in front of the other, until I’ve made it through a bad day. Luckily, the good outweighs the bad. Every night I say 3 or more things out loud that I’m thankful for. I pray. I pet my cats and love the fur off of them. I watch trashy tv and eat too much junk. I consciously consume water. I talk to the people I love regularly. I tell them I love them every chance I get. I lean on my husband. I let my love for him flow over me like fresh, clean water after a long days work. And I continue. I breathe. I put one foot in front of the other, in front of the other, until I’ve made it through another bad day. Each new day is a new opportunity. I choose each morning not to let the shit bury me.

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xo,

Cyndi

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It’s time for a reboot!

At the end of this new year, I’m beginning something new. I haven’t written in this blog for 3 years. I used it years ago to try to log mine and Chris’s trip to England and Scotland. I only captured some of that trip because I vastly overestimated my ability to blog everyday and Europe’s ability to have trusty wifi. While travel still has my heart, I want to make this more of a lifestyle blog. What’s that even mean? I think it means I still want to talk about travel, but I also want to talk about my cats, my relationships (husband, friends, family, the teller at my bank whom I really like) real estate, fashion, and everything in between!

Peace of Mind Pets

I’m told that I’m often funny with a quick whit and sharp tongue. I don’t steer clear of controversy. If you want something sugar coated, you better go grab a sucker. I’m a loving person who likes to make big gestures. I’m generous with my time, resources, and energy. I’m also a hard person to love long term. I have high expectations. I love big and and I expect it in return. I’m a helper but I’m also a warrior.

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So, that’s a little bit about me. If I sound like a person you might like to hear more from, then follow along as I meander down this new path.

xoxo,

Cyndi

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The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

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When Chris and I began thinking about this trip, I was interested in Scotland because of the Outlander book series by Diana Gabaldon. As I was researching, I knew we would have to go in August. There are a plethora of festivals and events each year in Edinburgh. You can’t do much research for a visit to this great city without coming across the Tattoo.

Chris and I love to see shows. Shows of all kinds. The Tattoo is described as the greatest show on earth. It takes place on the castle esplanade and combines music, show, ceremony, dance, and awesome atmosphere. Besides picking our dates, this was the first real thing we purchased for our trip.

With the Tattoo, they run packages. We chose to splurge here and get the Wallace package. They totally sold me with their description:

“Enjoy pre-performance guided tour of The Scotch Whisky Experience, including a viewing of the World’s Largest Collection of Scotch Whisky, followed by a Whisky Cocktail and canapés reception with members of the Tattoo cast before being escorted to the Castle Esplanade. Your package will include:-

  • Pre-performance guided tour of The Scotch Whisky Experience
  • Private viewing of the World’s Largest Collection of Scotch Whisky
  • Whisky cocktail or soft drink with canapés in the John McIntyre Gallery
  • The opportunity to mingle with members of the Tattoo cast
  • A host to accompany you from The Scotch Whisky Experience to the Castle Esplanade
  • A centrally located seat in Section 4 of the outdoor arena.
  • An official Tattoo souvenir programme for each guest”

The Scotch Whisky Experience was something to see. They started us out with some history and then led us into a tasting room. We learned about the different regions of Scotland and the characteristics of each regions malt whisky. Today, they recognize 4 main regions: the Lowlands, the Highlands, Speyside, and Islay. Chris tried the Highland and I tried a whisky blended liquor. I’m not much of a drinker, but I do enjoy trying different whiskys. I feel there’s more to them then the taste of alcohol.

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Did I mention there are 3,500 bottles of never been opened whisky in their collection? That was a site to see. Some of those bottles are pieces of art in and of themselves.

After we finished with a cool barrel ride through more Scottish whisky history, we went on to enjoy some crudites and drinks with some of the members of the Tattoo cast. We met a member of US Airforce Color Guard. This was the first year they’d been back to the Tattoo after an extended absence. Getting to meet some of the cast members really made the show that much more personable and special.

About 30 minutes before show time, we were walked to our seats and given our programs. By using the Rick Steves Travel Forum, and doing some additional research with Trip Advisor and various sites, I was able to ascertain what I thought would be the best seats for Chris and I. We chose seats in Section 4, H-3 and H-4. They were the best!

I can’t put into words the spectacle that was the Tattoo. The music, performers, and show were beautiful and so well done. These performers are some of the best at what they do. 2015’s theme was East meets West. The Chinese dancers, and their dragon show were a favorite of Chris. For me, I loved the Scottish dancers and the pipe bands.

And now for the photos:

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I loved every minute of this show. Chris wanted to capture it in its entirety on film for posterity. We were both trying to look everywhere at once! The evening was pretty chilly, but after the show started, we had no attention left for anything but what was on the esplanade in front of us.

If you’re planning a trip to Scotland, I highly recommend going during the festival season and planning to see the Tattoo. It was not only a highlight of the trip, but a highlight of our life. We really had that much fun.

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Edinburgh the beautiful

We arrived midday in this beautiful city. After the beautiful flat in London, I knew we were in for a change of pace with our EasyHotel room in Edinburgh. Being that it was festival time, Chris and I figured we wouldn’t be in the room much and opted for budget friendly and convenience over space and charm.

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The room was about 70 square feet. When you used the potty, your feet pretty much sat in the shower. It was tight quarters but definitely sufficient for our needs for this leg of the trip. The worst part was that it was up 6 flights, 6!, flights of stairs. We were right no Princess St. so immediately after walking out of our hotel, we could see Edinburgh Castle on the hill.

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We didn’t do much that first day in the city besides walk around a bit and get acclimated. Our late night at the theater, coupled with our stressful travel, had us pretty tired and just content to pal around a bit.

On Thursday, we had our first experience with a Scottish breakfast.

   

   

What’s in those pictures is only half of what was there, as we were hungry and forgot about picture taking until we’d polished half of it off. We had roasted tomatoes, 2 eggs, English bacon (which is like ham), sausage, haggis, mushrooms, beans, toast, tea, and scones. What’s haggis you ask? According to Wikipedia, “Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck; minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach though now often in an artificial casing instead.” I was aware of haggis, and was NOT planning to eat ANY of it. However, I failed myself, because I didn’t research what it looked like. I did not imagine it to look like a hockey puck sized pile, somewhat resembling sausage. Since I didn’t know what it was, I ate some of it, and it was surprisingly good. This also happened to me with blood pudding, which is also surprisingly good.

After a very hearty breakfast, we ventured out to do some shopping, check out the castle in person, and stroll down the Royal Mile. We were so enamored with the city, we didn’t really stop to take many pictures, but here are a few:

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After spending a beautiful day exploring the city, we went back to get ready for our special evening at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The Tattoo was amazing and definitely deserves its own post.

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Adventures in Train Travel

After a wonderful evening at the Mousetrap, we woke up super early to make our train out of King Cross station to Edinburgh. We were not successful in catching our intended train. Chris was adamant that we’d be able to take the next train. No problem. No added expense. I gave him the “Todo, we’re not in Kansas anymore” speech, meaning things don’t work like they do in the US. Sure enough, the man at the train station tells us it’s going to be something ridiculous ($300+) to purchase tickets for the next train. I was about to cry so had to excuse myself.

Missed train+Early morning+No caffeine= a VERY unhappy Cyndi

I don’t know what transpired after I left. Chris said the guy had a change of heart and didn’t charge us for the next train. I was so relieved! After waiting about 20 minutes, our train started boarding and we found our seats. We had to find seats that weren’t reserved. I picked a couple of seats behind a set of seats with tables. This turned out to be a very poor choice.

Two lovely families, with 3 children under the age of three, had reserved those table seats. I will say that Americans do not corner the market on kids acting a fool in public. If anything, from my experience, Americans are actually more conscientious of this behavior, unless you’re at a Walmart, then all bets are off. There was a little girl that was probably 3. Instead of boring you with all of the events that transpired, I’ll give you the 2 highlights. I woke up at one point because I felt “eyes on me”. Upon opening my eyes, that kid was standing on the seat beside me and was pinwheeling as she was falling backwards into the aisle. Against my better judgement, I reached out and saved the kid from falling. Mistake. Her parents were allowing her to stand, lay, wallow, shriek, eat, etc… on top of the tables they had reserved. They even allowed her to move up to the unoccupied table in front of them, which had a handle that looked something like this:

That friends and family, is some type of emergency handle to the window of the train. I awoke to what sounded like an air lock explosively decompressing. In my have conscious state, I thought the window was going to fly out of the train. For the next 2.5 hours, the train conductor announced that we were going to be 15 minutes late due to passenger interference with train emergency systems. The toddler’s parents seemed indifferent, but at least they did a better job of corralling her.

We arrived in Edinburgh midday and it was beautiful. We had about a 10 minute walk to our EasyHotel from the train station. Edinburgh is an easily walkable city. More about that in our next post though. Hello Scotland!

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