Sean and I have been traveling and without work for 24-months, a full 2 years — a lot longer than we ever expected to travel. We are using our life-savings to travel, but we are nearing the threshold of depletion. So we need to get jobs again, but do not want to return to the lives and lifestyles that we had before we began traveling.
Our journey has led us to a new vision for life; 6-months in the mountains and 6-months on the beach. We are trying to craft lives and jobs that allow us to move back-and-forth between two dream locations. So far we have 1-side of the equation sorted out. We have the promise of jobs in the ideal resort ski town of Zermatt, Switzerland! So this trip has been 2-fold; 1) get to Germany to study German (to fulfill a requirement for the Swiss jobs) and 2) find a beach home while touring Europe.
In this blog, which I’m calling part 1, I cover our travels in England, Ireland, Scotland, France, and Monaco. And part 2 covers our travel of Italy, Vatican City, and Germany.
We landed in London in late-April weeks before the Manchester bombing. We stayed in Westminster, walking distance from Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the House of Parliament, and Buckingham Palace. For me, London is steeped in history I’ve only read about, so being there brought all that history to vivid life. Sean had visited London before as a ‘wee lad’ but didn’t remember much of the city, so it was like seeing it for the first time. We quickly learned that setting foot in any historical location in London will cost you a pretty pound £. If you’re going to be there for a week, I would suggest purchasing the ‘London Pass’ to get the biggest bang for your buck. Budget minded, we decided which sights we would see and hope that someday we will get back to see the rest. You can never see it all! We did a hop-on-hop-off ‘Big Bus’ tour that took us all over the city and explained a lot of the history! We also toured the Tower of London, rich in history and lore. We saw many more attractions but did so on foot without paying for the tours. Here are some photos from Buckingham Palace and St. James Park, Westminster Abbey & the Palace of Westminster, and Kensington Palace & Tower of London. It was amazing, and I can’t wait for our next visit!!! Our hotel was perfect by the way, here’s a short review.
Dublin, Ireland and The Wild Atlantic Way
Our next stop was Dublin, Ireland! Much like London, I had been dreaming of the day I would get to visit Dublin. We did another bus tour here and we toured the ‘Old Library’ of Trinity College. Thanks to our Irish friends from Bozeman, Montana, Timothy and Susan Tate – we knew which sights were not to be missed. We did a pretty quick visit of Dublin, here are few pictures, as we were on our way to the Irish countryside and the ‘The Wild Atlantic Way.’ This adventure turned out to be one of the highlights of this 5-week long trip. First, we rented a car and tried our hand at driving on the left!!!! Amongst the places, we visited I fell in love with the Cliffs of Moher, hiking in Connemara National Park, and a small town called Sligo. The Cliffs of Moher felt like a magical place with a story for the ages. In Sligo, we stayed at Alison’s amazing Airbnb on a family owned and operated sheep ranch, that has links to Nepal and mountaineering. The world is indeed a small place and finding kindred friends you just haven’t met yet is such a joy!
Next, we were off to Edinburgh, Scotland! Another city with history so much older than the entirety of the United States that it baffles my mind.Having recently watched Reign and Outlander, I was very keen to see Scotland! What I didn’t realize is that the architecture of Edinburgh would deserve a blog post of its own. Here we took a free Sandeman walking tour that was really awesome! The gentleman who led our tour was a Scot who’s lived in Edinburgh most of this life and has a degree in Scottish history – needless to say, he was great. You can find these free walking tours in most major European cities. They are a great way to save some Euros (or pounds in this case) and learn tons about the history and culture. As we were only there for 2-days, I definitely didn’t get to see everything I wanted, so I’m excited about my next visit to Scotland and hopefully the highlands! Here are few pictures from the City of Edinburgh, and Edinburgh Castle as well as a review of our hotel which is owned by the royal college of surgeons.
After Scotland, we officially entered the Schengen Visa Area by landing in Paris. Although the policy gurus are currently debating this, as I write this the Schengen area is a group of 26 countries that allow borderless travel between them. For now, American’s are allowed to stay in the Schengen for 90-days without any kind of visa.
Paris is a vast beautiful city, also deserving of an entire blog post. Much like London, there is a ‘Paris Pass’ that you can purchase which will allow you entry into tons of attractions. If you’ll be in Paris for a week or more, definitely check it out and buy it directly from them – not a tourist company. In Paris, we basically had a personal tour guide – an American in residence. Our time in Paris was completely amazing as a result! My colleague Kevin Cohen, from the University of Colorado Medical School, who now lives in Paris, part-time anyway, offered to show us around. He actually has an entire section of his blog devoted to visiting Paris and it’s filled with tons of great information!
In Paris, we did a morning run to the Eiffel Tower, spent 3-hours in the Louvre Museum (where my love of sculpture was expansively rewarded), saw Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe (which was close to our hotel), and many other spots in Paris! I can not wait for my next visit to Paris!!!
Nice was the first real beach destination that we identified as a contender for our ‘beach home’ location. Located in the French Riviera, on the southeast coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, at the foot of the Alps, we thought Nice might be a great location for us. No, we don’t speak French – yet… but there’s always time. Much of what is now Nice was developed for the English upper classes in the second half of the 18th century when an increasing number of aristocratic families took to spending their winters there. In fact, the main promenade ‘La Promenade des Anglai’ which is said to be named in honor of Queen Victoria.
We spent our days walking the quaint streets of Nice and lounging on the beach. But beware, the beaches of Nice are made of small pebbles like river stones, not sand. Here are a few pictures from our visit. We stayed in an Airbnb, that could have been better but it was still a good stay.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
We visited Monte Carlo on a scooter that we rented in Nice, France. It was a great way to see small towns that line the seashore. We happened to visit a week before the Grand Prix, so the streets were lined with tall fences and grandstands. The yacht club was full of million dollar boat after million dollar boat. Which makes sense as we learned that the country is a tax haven for the mega wealthy. We had lunch and visited the famed “Casino de Monte-Carlo”, which you might recall from a number of James Bond movies, including Never Say Never Again and Golden Eye, as well as the movie Ocean’s Twelve.
There are few places in the world like Monaco, so from that standpoint, it is worth a visit. It truly is tough to find anywhere else in the world with more money crammed into such a small space. But for us, the congestion of cars, scooters, and people combined with a very confusing street layout and SUPER high prices on everything make it a one and done.
More to come in part 2 of Searching For a Beach Home! Thanks for following along on our journeys!