Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Escape to the Cape

After 20+ hours of travel, we've finally arrived in South Africa. The long journey was well worth it! We will be spending the next couple of months housesitting on the West Coast, about an hour north of Cape Town.

Here's a picture of our new neighborhood:
Who knew the Atlantic Ocean had beaches like this?!
I'm eager to get out and start exploring! This is my first trip to Africa, and I still can't believe I'm here. I think I'm going to really like this place... beautiful scenery, Mediterranean climate, and a much more favorable exchange rate than London!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Why I Wasn't Blogging in France

I feel the need to explain why we weren't blogging very often during our time in France.

Part of the reason is that we were busy. We spent 20+ hours per week caring for the house, dog, property, and guests. We also took on extra consulting work in an effort to develop our skills. But the main reason that I wasn't blogging was simple: I wasn't happy.

We were faced with new challenges each week and, along with the general stress of language barriers, feeling isolated, and trying to juggle our newfound responsibilities, life wasn't exactly a vacation. It would have been easy to use this blog as an outlet to vent my frustrations, but that's not the tone that I wanted to establish here.

Now that we've had a chance to step away for a few days, we're starting to unwind. It's a relief to let go of the negative feelings associated with our summer in France. It feels like we're turning a corner and, instead of holding on to our gripes, we're starting to appreciate the many ways that we've grown as a result of this experience.

Who knew that housesitting a Provencal mansion would be such an illuminating experience?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Expense of Travel: August

We've made it through August for the whopping sum of $708 and still have a little money left in the kitty (I'm not using the British-English term; we actually keep our money in a dead cat. Nobody looks there.) Here's the breakdown for the past 4 months:

For an explanation of the categories, check out our earlier post.
Nothing too exciting to report in August...except for another month of free lodging! With another frugal month under our belts, the current monthly average from May through August dropped to around $1,000/month! Now, before you put your house up for sale and start packing your bags to start a new life of vagabonding, realize it isn't always this cheap. September is quickly becoming an expensive month. We've moved on to England for a couple of weeks where we're renting a flat and have already spent more in the past 5 days than we spent for the whole month of August. Ouch. We've also bought our tickets for leaving South Africa at the end of the year and we're all out of frequent flyer miles. Stay tuned for the September report to find out if we're left with anything more than fur balls!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Amidst the Paralympic Action

It was great to see London all done up for the Paralympic festivities. Add a little sunshine and record-breaking heat (80 degrees!), and you've got some of the biggest crowds I've ever seen! This city rat couldn't be happier amidst all of the action.

Here are a few more pics from our awesome weekend in London. Enjoy!

The main Paralympic viewing area in Trafalgar Square. Can you see Big Ben in the distance?
The National Gallery
Even the phone booths joined in the festivities!
Giant Olympic medals in Leicester Square
The Thames Festival in Potters Fields

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Au revoir, France. Hello England!

We have bid "adieu" to France and the maison in the country. The last guests came and went and, after worrying they would be a handful, turned out to be the easiest all summer. The owners' family returned from Thailand just hours after the guests departed. Our final week was uneventful aside from the car breaking down, injuring the family dog with a bicycle, and the kids bringing back a communicable skin infection complete with oozing sores. It was time to hit the road.

We couldn't go straight to South Africa, or stay in the Schengen region, to keep the visa police happy on both ends, so here we sit in jolly Olde England with surprisingly warm and sunny weather. We're renting a flat on the outskirts of London for a couple of weeks before we make our way south. The original plan was to meet up with family here, but it just didn't work out in the end. The Paralympics are in their final days and we've already made it into downtown London to catch the festivities.

Paralympics big screen in Trafalgar Square.
It's a bit surprising what a relief it is to be able to communicate with people. After 4 months in countries where we don't speak the language, we've just become accustomed to muddled communication. Even Blogger is speaking English to us again!

We'll be laying low for the next few days as we decompress from our summer experience and catching up on blog posts that have yet to see the light of day!