One of my favorite things about our most recent visit to the Cape was the fact that Jeter could come along. Actually, it was one of the criteria, along with an outdoor shower, that I considered to be a requirement when we were searching for a rental for the week. Hey, even a dog needs a change of scenery on occasion.
Bringing Jeter along was not without complication. Originally I thought I might snag the little cabin that was poised on a hill next to the main house, as my own for the week. Once I toured the space I knew it would be better suited to the preteens since the bed was up a ladder in a loft area. Jeter doesn’t do ladders, but he does like to sleep with me, so I picked a bedroom in the cottage instead.
We also had a nocturnal visit from the biggest damn raccoon I’ve ever seen. (S)he was attracted to Jeter’s airtight food bin and bowls, which I had set up on the screened in porch. It took a couple of days before the bandit made its move, but one night we were woken up by something really loud. Turns out the raccoon was attempting a break in – directly through the screen. By the time we figured out what was going on there was a decent sized hole in the screen directly above Jeter’s feeding station. Live and learn.
It isn’t always fun having a dog on vacation. I found that Jeter was really annoying at the ocean when we were with our entire gang of kids and adults. He just wanted to be a part of everything which meant sand everywhere, plaintive and relentless barking and generally being an annoyance. When I took him solo, though, he was fantastic. He settled in and was completely chill. I believe I even caught a cat nap with my dog snuggled next to me. He was a little tired, too, from all of the swimming he did.
Good walks, good swims, good sleeps, good dog.
You quickly pull on clothes, pausing to brush teeth, and grab your camera and dog and get outside. You make your way down the stone steps to the dock and the water and, if you’re lucky, your Labrador actually obeys when you ask him to please not jump into the pond, thus allowing you to avoid having to deal with a wet dog first thing in the morning. The birds chirp and the fish in the pond jump and the sky is lit up like a popsicle and you know it’s going to be a good day.
The boys’ Crib
When the most intense colors of the sunrise fade (so quickly!), you take a little walk before wandering back to the house which is home for the week, taking in the fact that your youngest is now old enough to sleep in the separate cabin without the
annoyance presence of any grown ups. You smile when you note that the “big” boys slept in their cabin sans adults but avec, it seems, every single light on.
Then, it’s to the screened-in porch, with a scarf to keep the crisp morning air at bay, to watch and listen to the birds enjoy their breakfast. Breakfast…time to make pancakes. Hello, Tuesday.
- Five hours and two quick flights later, it is possible to be parking your rental car on King Street.
- My curls look best when my hair is dirty and salt water and sand are my chosen hair products.
- Charleston has far more liberals than I expected. There were even Bernie stickers!
- Where to eat and where they worship are two things shared frequently by residents.
- Speaking of where to eat, grits, biscuits, cinnamon rolls and mac and cheese would be my downfall eventually. I’m a carb girl.
- I can change my clothes in a car like a boss.
- The humidity in Charleston in August is a whole ‘nother level. I hope I remember this when we get hit here in Albany by elevated levels of heat and humidity.
- Downtown Charleston is beautifully compact and so very walkable.
- It’s a swamp – not a criticism, just an observation. There is water everywhere.
- Dining out, going to listen to music and having a drink solo is far preferable to not getting to do those things because you’re traveling without company.
- Life is satisfying when what you feel on the inside is radiating out for people to take note of. Case in point, this message from my AirBandB host:
I was so thrilled to see all the ways in which you discovered Charleston! You totally amazed us with your level of independence. Loved it!
One of the roads taken on this trip.
Do you ever have a day or two or three when it feels like you must be doing something right in your life? I mean, how else can you accept the good fortune that you’re experiencing? It almost makes a person believe that old adage about how if you’re happy inside, you’re happy everywhere you are. There’s no other way to explain the feeling of loving everywhere you go.
This trip has been remarkable. As I sat facing the charm of Rainbow Row, I had a hard time processing how lucky I’ve been in Charleston. The rain cooperated and only came at times that had no bearing at all on my activities. That’s saying something considering it rained 3 of my 5 days there. The people I’ve talked to have been friendly, the drinks cold and the food terrific. I scored parking each time I needed to and only hit legitimate traffic once – and that was on a draw bridge. It couldn’t have been a better solo trip.
You know, I didn’t grow up expecting to ever be in a position where I could indulge my itch to travel. I’ve come a long way since my first trip to Florida with one of my dearest friend’s family when I had $50 in my pocket, and that only because my brother gave it to me as I left our house. Along the way I learned to travel inexpensively, meals from grocery stores and delis, low budget accommodations, lots of self guided walking tours…you get it. It was good practice and I learned a lot.
Memories were made and I’m heading home with what feels like a new piece in place in my life’s mosaic. What’s your next destination?
“So shut up, live, travel, adventure, bless and don’t be sorry”
– Jack Kerouac
When I travel, my favorite thing to bring home as a souvenir for myself is something practical that I can use or enjoy regularly. On recent trips I’ve returned home with linens, perfume and liquor bought in Duty Free, a hand painted trivet, earrings and scarves. I absolutely love reaching for an accessory to finish an outfit, or setting the dining room table, with an object that comes complete with a memory.
My plan for Germany was to replace a pair of worn out black flats with some new, comfortable walking shoes. And I didn’t mean Birkenstocks, either. I wanted shoes that worked with skirts, as well as jeans and I looked really hard in countless stores in Berlin and Potsdam for the perfect pair. Don’t believe me? Ask Quinn who was remarkably patient as I dragged him in and out of shoe store after shoe store.
While I found a couple of pairs of shoes that tempted me, I wasn’t interested in spending 175 euro for a pair of shoes. Other than my Fryes, I just don’t invest in footwear that expensive. I came home from Germany empty handed, other than a cheap white scarf. No big deal, except that I still needed a new pair of everyday black flats.
Home again, I searched online without success. Nothing grabbed me. Each time I put my crappy black shoes on my feet, I shook my head and hoped no one looked at me below the ankles. Last Sunday, as I was leaving a friend’s house after a lovely brunch, I impulsively steered my car into the town of New Paltz to check out a great shoe store, Pegasus. I trolled the sales rack and found a fantastic pair of wedges that unfortunately were slightly too large, and not at all what I needed. I kept looking.
Anti-stress shoes! Who doesn’t need that?
In the front of the shop there was a display of new arrivals and pair of flats caught my eye. They were simple enough to be versatile, yet super cute with interesting cutouts. They were available in my size and felt comfortable on my feet. They were in my budget and…they were German. Sold.
We’ve been back for about 10 days and there are some really positive impressions from our trip that I thought to share. How about one for each day we were there?
1. Roads. I don’t think I’d mind paying a 19% VAT if the money went into highways and other infrastructure. We traveled a few hundred miles on the autobahn and those roads are beautifully maintained.
2. Groceries. In Berlin we shopped at Lidl which is similar to Aldi. For less than $9 I bought the following: a fresh pineapple (fair trade), a quart of apple juice, 2 croissant, a package of sliced gouda, a large plain yogurt, a small fruit yogurt and a pint of chocolate milk.
3. Beer. I almost exclusively drank hefeweizen, although I had the occasional shandy and in Berlin I drank a specialty beer called Berliner Weiße mit Schuss. It’s wheat beer with a shot of woodruff. Kind of sweet but a nice way to end the night, I thought.
4. Public transit. It’s available, easy to understand and cheap. A day ticket cost approximately $7.50 and my son rode with me for free.
5. Cleanliness. The streets, the bathrooms, the trains, with only one exception (a bathroom at a big tourist spot) all were immaculate.
6. Markets. The Munsterplatz is the place to be if you’re looking for produce, flowers, cheese, meats and prepared foods. We also checked out some markets that were more like American flea markets, also. Good deals were all over the place.
7. Flowers. Germans like their gardens and even in early spring, most homes have tended plots of land. The lilacs bursting open everywhere were lovely, too.
8. Ice cream and cake. There’s an acceptance level of these sort of items perceived by Americans as “treats,” and both were included in our afternoons.
9. Coffee. Dark, strong and delicious.
10. Punctuality. The only clock I’ve ever seen not tell accurate time in Germany was the battery operated one in our rented apartment. I love counting on the church bells and public clocks to keep track of time for me.
A bonus thing: DOGS! They were everywhere – restaurants, cafes, trains, stores, yet, not once did I see any piles of poop.
The only that I didn’t appreciate was the prevalence of cigarette smoking that still goes on. It seems like smoking is much more pervasive in Germany than in the States. I suppose I could complain that the weather wasn’t great either, but, really…spring is a crap shoot in Albany, too. At least the hail that fell on me was German hail.
A couple of weeks before my trip I splurged on a pair of pricey slippers. When I say “pricey,” I’m talking like more expensive than most of the shoes in my closet, not including Frye’s and running shoes. Yes, they were a bit of an indulgence for sure.
When they first came in the mail I didn’t know if I was going to keep them. They were a little tight and I wasn’t sure if I could justify the price unless they were absolutely perfectly comfortable. I gave them a couple of days of wear around the house, they began to conform to the shape of my foot and the rest is history – $90 Ugg slippers are my new favorite way to say home.
When it comes to reading, I’m old school. I still like a print book even when it is ridiculously heavy.* After wanting to read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr for more than a year, I finally got my hands on a copy (Thanks, Maria!), and I couldn’t have picked a better book for this trip. I’m nearly to the halfway point of the story and the novel is as good as I had imagined it to be.
What I somehow missed in my packing was tweezers. I think I erred when I started mixing around with my toiletries bags, believing that I had a pair always at the ready for the errant hair in my make-up bag, which I do. Unfortunately, though, I neglected to bring that particular bag opting for a smaller one. I’ll be stopping in an Apotheke today to rectify the situation. There’s a stray brow hair that making me crazy!
What are your musts when packing? What’s the worst thing you ever forgot to bring on a trip?
*I stashed it in Q’s luggage. Hey – his was lighter!