We arrived in Hanoi after a 15 hour overnight train ride from Da Nang (not the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had, but not the worst either.) We pulled into the station a bit groggy at 5:30 am, but Hanoi was already hopping with folks out walking, playing badminton, and jiving to Zumba-like group aerobics in the park. In our neighborhood in the old part of town, the business of food production was well underway with greens being rinsed and meat chopped by folks squatting next to cutting boards and bowls out on the sidewalk. 7:00 am saw us joining the line for a breakfast bowl of beef pho, which we ate sitting on little plastic stools at a low plastic table. We had arrived.
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It is my strong belief that the Balinese have a festival for everything. If it isn’t a festival, then it’s a set of rituals, offering givings, dances and decorations for everything from the knives in your kitchen to getting married. Lucky for us, we got to see Galugan, a Balinese festival, in full fling along with the daily offerings that make Bali’s culture so beautiful.
As difficult as it was, we have made it through our first week of travel. It was a rough landing at the Barcelona airport, but now we are back on our feet, enjoying ourselves. Sadly, school has started. Now every afternoon, me and Miles assemble for four or five periods of learning. Yay.
Some highlights from our first week:
At this point we’re in a bit of a holding pattern before take off. We’ve done the big, obvious stuff (planned our itinerary and budget, bought plane tickets, rented our home, packed up most of our belongings) the things that aren’t very fun but necessary (vaccinations, prescriptions, insurance, wills) and most of the pesky little stuff (a list too long to get into.) What we’re left with now is the details. Which is to say, we could probably take off tomorrow, ok, maybe the next day, and survive just fine out there. However, because we have the time, I have been obsessing over the details, and some of them have turned out to be devilish indeed.
For most people, a drive across the US would be plenty of traveling for a good long while, and rightly so. For us, driving from Seattle, WA to Portland, ME was more about the practicality of getting ourselves, our car and trailer from one place to another.
Even though our Big Trip starts in August, for spring break we went to France for two weeks with a stopover in Iceland. We were in Paris for a week and then went to Royan, a smallish town outside of Bordeaux (Bore-doe, yes, I know it sounds weird) for a week, where we shared a house with friends. To finish it off, our family went to Parc Asterix, a French amusement park based on the comic books Asterix & Obelix, as the grand finale.
Della now fights me to read Travel & Leisure first. Not that T&L is so helpful for our trip planning, since it mostly seems to exist to assure its readers that expensive hotels in ritzy destinations are indeed fabulous. Nevertheless, I’m encouraged to see her absorbed and thinking about travel destinations.