A 139-day adventure by Rosie
  • Day2

    Life in La Jolla

    July 31, 2021 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

    I had been procrastinating about starting the blog as I feared I’d run into technical problems, and I DID need Amr to find a box to tick to actually start…but now up and running so here goes!

    The leaving of Australia wasn’t as fearsome as we’d feared and all our tests, passports etc were in order ….phew….we had agonised so much and all was well. Cleared US customs so quickly and were driven very luxuriously down to La Jolla, arriving so early that Michael was out having breakfast, anticipating us to arrive an hour or 2 later! All fine - let in by Anita in her dressing gown - the lovely neighbour over the road. So good to see Michael, and Lisi, who had been in Panama with James, arrived in the evening, leaving James socialising with cousins and enjoying Spanish immersion in Panama. So for the moment it is just the 4 of us, like back to the pre children era! Cami is still in Pennsylvania- she has a summer internship with Nanoware. She is doing really well there from all reports, and she returns home on Friday and will have a week to relax with friends before school goes back. James comes back on August 16, just in time for school.

    We have plunged straight into social life here. On Saturday it was Ben’s 40th birthday party. Ben is a Farrell cousin - son of Peter’s sister Keryn. He has been living here for a long time now, originally working for ResMed. He is married to the lovely Jeannine and they have 2 boys Sam 2 and Max 3 months. Lovely afternoon party in the backyard - a whole pig on the spit (or had been!) and yummy food…and then the Olympics were on and Oz did itself proud in the swimming! A great Ben style laidback event!

    Then Sunday a dinner with Damian Vale, a Sertori cousin of Jess, Liv and Ted and the many others in the clan. He has been living and working in the US starting March last year- so he’s had a total covid experience and not seen Australian travellers coming through, or family and probably can’t even return for his sister’s wedding in November….anyway he is a lovely boy (man - he’s 30!) like all the other Vales, and we met at a Japanese restaurant. Peter F also there (he had flown in from Texas, and was at Ben’s party) and of course as usual he brought along a stray person that no one had ever met (Herb, who he had been playing golf with that day!)…he has this infuriating habit of bringing odd people to family occasions…it was a great dinner anyway, and we will see Damian again before we leave.

    Next week Michael and Lisi have a holiday at Whistler from Monday to Friday which will be a lovely break for them, and Amr and I will hold the fort here, with Cami and Nico the dog.

    I had been dreading the summer heat here, but had forgotten how cool La Jolla can be with the sea fog and walking fairly early is very pleasant, especially with the sea breeze. But I had also forgotten how feeling cool doesn’t stop the sun and am a bit sunburnt…stupid, must slather on the cream. But we have maintained our walking ready for France, and Amr also swims in the high school pool daily.

    I think I’ve chatted on too long but this is really an experimental start to make sure everything works! I will add photos, and post more news, but probably not every day while we are here. When we get to France it will certainly be daily! But meanwhile we are SO happy to be here, and are enjoying being with Michael and Lisi.

    Almost forgot to mention that I gave Michael and Amr haircuts!! And so successful we have ordered the clippers to use as we travel!
    Read more

    Traveler

    Ahh this must be Herb!!!

    8/3/21Reply
    Traveler

    Don’t you recognise him 😂

    8/4/21Reply
    Traveler

    I approve of this message!!

    8/3/21Reply
    5 more comments
     
  • Day8

    A Week Away

    August 6, 2021 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Suddenly we realise we’ve been here for a week! Still enjoying and grateful for our freedom, reading what is going on in Oz with what looks like continuing lockdowns - hope you are not going too crazy.

    We’ve had a lovely week….after the social whirl of last weekend, we have quietly been pottering and exercising…we have been checking if we need testing before our flight to Europe, and it seems as if we don’t which makes us very happy, as one clinic that we approached charged US$299 each!! We could have shopped round and found less I’m sure, but it looks as if fully vaccinated it will be fine. (And I believe there are testing places at the airport if an emergency)…anyway, here’s hoping.

    Have been doing a bit of cooking, but last night we went to a fab meat and whisky restaurant - Huntress. Lisi had seen it mentioned online and decided to try it…a great success. We shared an enormous tomahawk beef, and Lisi and I started with an amazing Penang curry lobster soup…wow, just delicious. And tonight we are going to the Country Club for dinner…pretty fantastic life.

    Special events during the week were Jess’s 20th birthday and we had a lovely FaceTime with her. Can’t believe it….And another special event was Peter and Louise became grandmother and step grandfather…Louise’s daughter Emily had a baby girl. Will include a photo of her communing with Emily’s sister Isabella in London!

    Cami is now on her way back to San Diego…arrives late tonight so won’t see her till tomorrow. So she will appear in next post.

    Just writing again to keep it going…nothing dramatic, all good.
    Read more

    Traveler

    That's a lot of meat! 😵

    8/6/21Reply
    Traveler

    Looks delicious!!

    8/6/21Reply
    Traveler

    What a lovely relaxed week! I also love that we are getting news from around the globe too! Congratulations to Louise and Peter, what a precious baby! Xx

    8/8/21Reply
    5 more comments
     
  • Day12

    More La Jolla Life

    August 10, 2021 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Our quiet life continues. Saturday was a big event for Michael and Lisi..the annual Jewel Ball. It is a big fundraiser held at the Beach and Tennis Club, a year of hard work by volunteers and a very glamorous event. The Theme was 007 this year. Lisi took Amr and me down to see the venue on Saturday afternoon…fantastic setup, and you could see the effects even without the night and lighting.

    We saw Cami for the first time on Saturday too! So grown up since 2 years ago…she is out and about catching up with friends for the last week before school starts. Lovely to see her and get to know the grown up Cami. I think right at this minute she is at Papa Peter’s apartment using the wifi there for some school work as she is having problems here (though it seems to be working fine for our purposes).

    Sunday our usual day of walking and Amr swimming. Moo barbecued hamburgers for Sunday night dinner…then Monday departure day for them to leave for Canada. Afternoon flight and all smooth till they got into a terrible traffic jam driving from Vancouver to Whistler…a motorcycle accident closed the road for several hours…but from the texts and photos today, all is good there now, and they are now happily ensconced for a few days. Returning Saturday after one night in Vancouver.

    Dinner with Anita and Brian last night. We are now the minders of Nico and he follows me round like a shadow as the current carer! He is very cute. Today Amr and I went to a terrible movie at the Lot in La Jolla. Sci-fi tosh, and can’t believe I sat through it!! Called Suicide Squad. Don’t see it! It was very comfy sitting in the reclining chairs while we watched though!

    Good luck to Liv for her HSC trials!! We send vibes and have to remember the time change…English today.
    Read more

    Traveler

    im suprised you even went to watch suicide squad and not surprised you didn't like it

    8/11/21Reply
    Traveler

    It was tosh!!!

    8/11/21Reply
    Traveler

    Great photo gorgeous material in Lisi’s dress both look fabulous

    8/11/21Reply
    8 more comments
     
  • Day16

    More than 2 weeks gone

    August 14, 2021 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    We’ll it’s now Saturday morning here, and all very peaceful. Cami stayed overnight with a friend last night, and hasn’t surfaced here yet. We have only glimpsed her this week anyway, as she is busy catching up with friends, and fitting in some work she has to do for school, which starts after the summer break next week, and I think college applications, for which it seems they have to write extensive essays!

    Amr has taken a bus to the mall to go to the Amazon store there as his kindle keeps saying he needs a new battery, and Nico and I are peacefully here minding the house. I am making a lasagna for Michael and Lisi’s homecoming dinner (at request). Nico has had his morning walk so he is content except for the worry of the mailman who he barks at daily. Walking Nico twice a day means ascending this VERY steep hill each time, plus again when I go for my own walk!! Good practice at hills, but this one in their street is very extreme.

    Nothing really to report from the last few days. Michael and Lisi in Canada and having a great time at Whistler and last night in Vancouver. Now waiting to board their plane home. Arrive here about 3.30pm. Yesterday we went to another movie!! This time it was good, and we enjoyed it as well as the comfortable chairs! It was Respect, a film about Aretha Franklin. Well done, though quite long. It has been very hot these last few days. No morning fog to start the day, but straight into searing sun, and walking up and down to the village (only about 3.5 km) a very sweaty business. I think I’ll skip my walk today, and do some yoga poses instead. I must do something about my hair…it was long before I left and overdue for a cut, but of course hairdressers closed…am a bit intimidated by the thought of a La Jolla hairdresser, but the alternative is managing it in French in France…must decide soon as it is driving me mad!

    On Monday James returns, and for the first time we will all be together! I’ll try and find some photos, but not many. One of me doing yoga with Nico watching, but will look on Amr’s iPad for more…
    Read more

    Traveler

    La Jolla sounds all wistful and dreamy.

    8/14/21Reply
    Traveler

    Most impressive yoga pose, Rosie. Here, with the police and the military, and now threats of the riot police to patrol the streets, La Jolla appears as a heavenly dream. Love your photos and the travel diary posts.. Ooodles of love.

    8/14/21Reply
    Traveler

    Looking great Rosie! 😂

    8/15/21Reply
    7 more comments
     
  • Day22

    Continuing in La Jolla

    August 20, 2021 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

    Not a huge amount to report this week. Three weeks today since we arrived unbelievably! It has been very humid when walking, but have managed it most days - have to keep ready for the big walking which will start on Monday week!!

    We have had a full house for the last few days. James arrived back on Monday, with Nando - a Panama cousin - now almost 30, but I first met him when I first minded Cami and James in 2009! He is now an architect. He flew back with James who is strictly a minor. So James reoccupied his downstairs room, with Nando on the sofa down there. We moved up to James’ old room upstairs. School started yesterday, so morning chaos waking up and getting off in time! Cami drives James which is handy…their schedules don’t always coincide, specially during Covid, but they do now. And Lisi drove Nando to the airport for return to Panama this morning.

    Trying to remember individual events…yesterday evening we went over to Anita and Brian’s…they were participating in a trivia quiz by zoom. Brian is active in the Cambridge alumni on the west coast here, and it was Oxford/Cambridge teams versus Harvard/Yale. Rather fun, but via zoom it was a bit long and involved, and the questions were rather esoteric as you can imagine…anyway, fun to see. Michael and Lisi were at a dinner…it has been a ResMed board meeting week.

    But that is now over and we embark on quite a social few days. Tonight we go to a concert - a bit like symphony under the stars, except since our last visit San Diego has build a permanent concert shell for these events. Will have photos next time. And today I am bravely having a La Jolla haircut!! Lisi says her hairdresser is very down to earth and will do whatever I want, so here’s hoping…I have to do something - my hair is falling in my eyes, and there are many weeks to go!! Photo will also follow!

    Then tomorrow Ben and Jeannine will come over in the afternoon for a drink, as last chance to see them before we leave. Didn’t properly catch up at Ben’s party so that will be lovely. Then it is a BBQ at the beach club with people we know…also fun.

    Sunday we have a dinner with all of us plus Peter F and Tama!! So will be able to give first hand report! On Tuesday we have a final dinner at a Mexican restaurant- probably won’t have many Mexican meals in France, then we leave on Wednesday.

    I haven’t got photos of Cami and James properly yet…their lives are rather rushed and chaotic, but will definitely get some before we leave. James is as handsome as ever, taller than me and eats like a horse! Mostly meat and rice! Cami is beautiful and also grown - about Lisi’s height I think. Only one rather lovely photo of Lisi and Nico.

    P.S. now back from haircut! Lovely hairdresser, and feel so much better…photo of the new me, plus some photos that I got from Lisi of James and Cami this week, and of James in Panama…AND great shot of Pete and Cathy on Sunday on Pete’s birthday.
    Read more

    Traveler

    Beautiful 😍🥂

    8/22/21Reply
    Traveler

    Gorgeous 🤩🐶

    8/22/21Reply
    Traveler

    Nice haircut 💇‍♀️ Ma xxx

    8/22/21Reply
    4 more comments
     
  • Day26

    Last days in America

    August 24, 2021 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Well, in 24 hours we will hopefully be flying to Europe! A slight feeling of stress, as covid certificates etc required, but we have checked in online, and let’s hope all goes smoothly.

    We have had a busy and lovely last few days. On Friday it was the concert - Beethoven by the Bay. Great all Beethoven concert, and the new shell now built is fantastic…and great acoustics. We sat at a table, had a meal and listened…just perfect. And very pleasant weather…last time I remember it was cold, but no wind this night.

    Then on Saturday there was a BBQ at the beach and tennis club. Lots of food and lots of fun with friends of M and L that we now know quite well (as well as you know people who you only see every few years!). We had been going to have a drink with Ben and Jeannine before, but the days got mixed up and Saturday didn’t work for them, nor Sunday for us.

    On Sunday it was a dinner with Peter and Tama, at an Italian restaurant. Very pleasant and drama free! Tama seemed nice, only comment is that she had trouble finding gluten and dairy free food on an Italian menu, and ended up having a salad. She is very skinny.

    Yesterday we ate at home…Michael cut us some beautiful sashimi from the tuna he had caught on his Mexican fishing excursion recently and it was delicious. And Lisi made a very tasty Panamanian dish - pollo con bolo - chicken and corn and many other yum ingredients.

    Amr and I have been walking (and he swimming as well) and hope we are ready and fit for our upcoming serious spell of walking! It is still so humid, but have checked Burgundy and weather there looks delightfully moderate…phew…

    Just about to leave for our last dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Peter F called and said was there a chance for a meeting before we leave, so he will come too, and Amr and I will walk down to his apartment for a drink first and meet M, L and kids at the restaurant at 7.30. Tama is back in Houston.

    And we FaceTime-ed with Sonny for his 5th birthday on Sunday!!

    Tomorrow the adventure begins, and I will post daily!! But may be a bit erratic during the travelling day…
    Read more

    Traveler

    Good luck with the travel day and let us know when you’re in Europe. Let the adventures begin!!

    8/25/21Reply
    Traveler

    Have a good flight, can’t wait for news from Paris although it sounds the last few weeks have been pretty good.

    8/25/21Reply
    Traveler

    What a flurry of activity before you leave and how wonderful a Beethoven concert (with food)! You’ve met Tama before Paul and me! Safe travels and have a stiff drink on the plane when you get through customs! Xx

    8/25/21Reply
    12 more comments
     
  • Day28

    Paris at last!!

    August 26, 2021 in France ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    OMG, we are in France, and the whole procedure was so easy…we are SO happy! Leaving the USA at LAX was straightforward - we didn’t need to have a covid test once we had shown our Australian covid vaccination certificate, and all our worries were unfounded. So the flight was uneventful- very efficient and Lufthansa! At first we thought it would be quite empty, but it did gradually fill up, but we were able to move to have an aisle in the middle with no one next to the middle person…but each row had people…and the second flight from Frankfurt to Paris was totally full. Anyway, all easy - we officially entered the EU at Frankfurt and had to show what we were doing in France (he even scrutinised our walking itinerary!) but friendly and easy…and not particularly worried about covid status (just how long we would be in EU). And the second leg to Paris was just a domestic flight…

    So here we are, ensconced in our Ibis hotel near the Gare de Lyon and all is perfect. This afternoon we had a reconnoiter to find the Gare de Bercy which is very near the Gare de Lyon, but we’d never seen or heard of it before. But that is where trains leave for Burgundy and the Dordogne…so we bought tickets for Saturday (Amr is very good at those ticket machines) for going to Vezelay and the start of our walking programme!!!

    Having achieved that we wandered towards the Bastille area, and had a beer first, then a meal…I had moules with frites, and Amr had beef tartare and we had salads…so perfect, we just couldn’t believe that here we are, Paris acting normally…we need to put on masks walking into the hotel, and when in restaurants they ask for our “passe sanitaire” and are totally satisfied with our digital Oz vaccination certificate….that was one thing that we wondered about, but obviously non French are welcome with whatever certificate they have…so all GOOD.

    What a life…we are not all in it together - we are in Paris!
    Read more

    Traveler

    You escaped!

    8/26/21Reply
    Traveler

    And the reward - a pot of mussels, Heaven!

    8/26/21Reply
    Traveler

    Wow, you’ve made it and it looks fabulous. Enjoy

    8/27/21Reply
    8 more comments
     
  • Day29

    A Perfect, Peaceful Paris Day

    August 27, 2021 in France ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    What a lovely day! We planned just to wander round, not achieve anything or seek out culture…it’s now 10.50pm and Amr is already asleep beside me, so I can’t ask him to remind me of memorable things, but here goes…

    First, very importantly Amr went out to get a bottle of freshly squeezed juice. We found this small grocery that has a squeeze machine and you fill a bottle as the oranges squeeze and pay by size of bottle…perfect for us squeeze-aholics! So then we set off, had delicious pastries as only the French can do, and coffee, and meandered along the river towards St Michel, stopped at Le Petit Pontoise, a little restaurant we love and often go to (found originally for us by Cathy many years ago) and booked to have dinner there tonight. Then continued on, saw Samaritaine, a department store - used to be very run down but now totally renovated and gorgeous. Went in and I got my Chanel refills for my travel perfume! Can only get the refills alone here, everywhere else you,have to buy the whole thing, so it is always my Paris mission!

    Then we kept wandering - bought a baguette and some plums which we ate on a bench in the Tuileries, then walked in from the river towards Place d’Opera and had coffee/hot chocolate at a favourite cafe there.

    After a cruise through Galeries Lafayette we went up as far as Concorde then crossed over and went down the Left Bank turning in at the Pont Neuf to go to another favourite square - Place Dauphine for rehydration- beer and Campari …then by the time we walked further down the river it was time for our dinner at Petit Pontoise at 7. Lovely dinner, they have never let us down - starters were a snail cassolette and an artichoke and Parmesan tarte tatin which we shared, and Amr had fish and I had kidneys for mains…so perfect…and before you ask, Paul, we had a Pinot noir from Burgundy (to get us in the mood as we will be there tomorrow)! Walking back was so beautiful - it doesn’t get dark till almost 9 and lovely sunset looking back at Notre Dame - still being repaired after the fire.

    Now back and must sleep…felt a bit fuzzy at some stages during the day, but now unfortunately not too bad…half a pill and reading my book should fix it. I’ve probably forgotten some tidbit I meant to say…but will now add photos.
    Read more

    Traveler

    I’m so envious it all looks wonderful and without the usual hordes of tourists, what a great time to be travelling. Can’t wait for Burgundy.

    8/27/21Reply
    Traveler

    Classy Ma with your Chanel bag! Xx

    8/27/21Reply
    Traveler

    What a perfect day indeed! So glad that restaurant is still a hit after all these years! I didn’t know you could get the mini Chanel refills separately! Should have given you an order as have just put one in to DJs! Mind you not sure when we will see you! X

    8/27/21Reply
    6 more comments
     
  • Day30

    Vézelay, and Day 1 of our French Camino

    August 28, 2021 in France ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    It was quite an adventure getting to Vézelay. We planned a 10.33 departure from Paris Bercy, which entailed a change at Auxerre to get to Sermizelles, which is the closest station to Vézelay, from where you take a taxi - 10 kms or so. So we left with plenty of time to wheel our bags to the station, stopping for breakfast at a cafe (coffee, croissant/baguette, juice). All perfect, and the train left at exactly 10.33 and we were impressed and thought “how Swiss”…then, after about an hour or more, suddenly at a station everyone seemed to get out…didn’t hear any announcement but obviously something was afoot…so we got out too and realised that everyone was moving to the front section which was the part continuing to Auxerre…so we all crammed in, with bags (it is Saturday so many people off for the weekend and having fun). Only about 15 minutes to Auxerre, and when we enquired about the train on to Avallon (via Sermizelles) found that it in fact was a bus - luckily we asked or we would have waited on the platform for ever…so we all boarded the bus which drove us through the gorgeous countryside to Sermizelles - a tiny place. There was one taxi there, which other people were hopping in, but he said he’d come back for us in 15 minutes which he did, and we finally got here!

    Booked into hotel which was expecting us, and large envelope with maps and instructions waiting in our room, plus booking at a restaurant over the square - to which we are going now, so will continue later…

    Now back from dinner, and will try to remember the whole day…but before I forget, I must add things that I forgot to say yesterday about Paris - one is that while Paris is busy it was delightfully not crowded..partly could be that Parisiens leave in August, but there were noticeably no Asian or American tourists (and we were probably the only Australian tourists!)…it was unusual hardly ever hearing any language but French, and not fighting crowds in all the popular places. And another thing is the mask situation…obviously it is mandatory to wear them inside in public areas. It would drive us crazy at home (which I think is happening now, and maybe even outside) but here we have to behave, and it is very casual (and totally tokenism)…everyone has one handy in their pocket, on their wrist, under their chin…and uses it when necessary, or borrows one when dashing inside etc….totally useless, as they are reused and reused…but seems to be part of life…so weird and totally unFrench! We are almost used to it…???

    Anyway, here we are in Vézelay on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. We were last here in May 1999…we walked up the one main street to the basilica right up on the top of the hill, and it was gleaming white - cleaned from the grey stone it had been 22 years ago and just sparkling. We soon saw many fancily dressed people congregating and realised that a wedding must be about to happen so stood with the many other (French) tourists to watch. I think the invitations must have specified to wear a flamboyant hat as it looked more so than Melbourne Cup day! After that spectacle we did some wandering, but much of that we will do tomorrow when we have the whole day. Another thing I forgot to say about yesterday was that our “wanderings” were over 17 kms, so more than our first day of real walking will be..so good practice. Then we looked for camino signs and finally found them and feel reassured…had been slightly wondering if we would be plunged into a difficult signage situation …but hopefully not! More tomorrow as Amr is going to sleep and he promised to keep awake and read this and make sure I put everything in…oh yes, we lit a candle for Ira in the beautiful St Madeleine basilica…and we have just had a lovely first pèlerin dinner…will include photo of the entrees- a beetroot “tartare”, and poached eggs on little rounds of baguette with a sauce of meat/wine/mushroom (sort of juices of boeuf Bourguignon)…weird but delicious! And we had a carafe of Burgundy wine, not named but Paul will be glad to know that they were Paul-approved glasses!
    Read more

    Traveler

    That would be very nice without all the crowds of tourists! A fair trade-off for having to wear masks I think ;)

    8/28/21Reply
    Traveler

    Always an adventure on PT! Glad you made it safely and what a beautiful city / town. Xx

    8/29/21Reply
     
  • Day30

    Further photos of Vézelay

    August 28, 2021 in France ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Was just testing the wifi, and all seems fine - you never know in hotels, and uploading photos can be extremely slow or just not possible. So will add some of the gorgeous countryside surrounding here, and the poached eggs!Read more

    Traveler

    Another great bag Amr, pleased to you found directions

    8/28/21Reply
    Traveler

    The famous shell sign!

    8/28/21Reply
    Traveler

    What's the significance Amr?

    8/28/21Reply
    Traveler

    We found the blue and yellow signs for our walk!

    8/31/21Reply
    Traveler

    I see!! Very important.

    9/1/21Reply
    3 more comments