The Travel Life

People tend to think we lead a glamorous life of travel. I can assure you it’s not all museums, grand cathedrals, and skiing in the Alps. Sometimes it’s art galleries, castles, and barefoot cruises on the Aegean.

Of course I jest. I jest love our travel life (sorry, I couldn’t resist). The fact is that it actually isn’t all about the great stuff we see and do. Sure, we get to go and see some great stuff, but that’s only part of our time. A surprisingly small part, actually. Most of our days are filled with the mundane, only made special by the fact that they’re mundane activities in a special place.

Here’s a key question we asked ourselves a few years ago: if we’re going to have to sit and work with a computer in our laps, wouldn’t it be more interesting to sit and work with a computer in our laps in a place like London or Paris?

It seemed an easy concept for a blog when I thought of it a couple of weeks ago, but now that I write it I find it hard to explain. I’ve harped, over and over, that we’re not retired and that we’re not rich. We still work. A blog is forthcoming on what a typical day looks like for us, but between the meetings and after all the calls are over, what is it that we do in those interesting places we visit?

Of course, we do go see the sights. And usually we tick off a pretty complete list. But because we’re just living “normal” lives while traveling, we also do some pretty typical stuff. Like going to see a movie from time to time. For a couple of months when someone would start talking about the new Star Wars movie, we’d have to stick our fingers in our ears, close our eyes, and start saying, “Na, Na, Na”. It was playing in Croatia and in Montenegro, but not in any language that would make it enjoyable for us. So with some Googling we found an English language cinema in Vienna and made plans to see it the week we passed through.

So now we know (spoiler alert) that the new Star Wars movie is an epic battle of good versus evil pitting a misguided soul who’s turned to the dark side against ambiguously related family members learning the ways of the Force. Hmm, sounds familiar.

We also watch television. Sometimes it’s the local channels, a surprising amount of which is aired in English (cop and pet shows mostly). In Montenegro we watched a lot of NCIS—the original, NCIS New Orleans, NCIS Fargo, whatever—and some show about a guy running around the country building opulent tree houses.

Usually, though, television for us means Netflix, Amazon, or (lately) PBS. Like some of you, we are caught up in the final season of Downton Abbey. And yes, we firmly believe that Mrs. Patmore and Mr. Mason will fall in love, and we wish SOMEONE would befriend Barrow (even though he certainly doesn’t deserve it), and we’re glad to see Lady Mary actually falling in love, and…please stop us.

We’re also binge watching Better Call Saul this week and wondering when the new season of House of Cards is coming out. Hey Amazon Productions, are you going to put out a new season of Catastrophe? And BBC, where’s the looong-awaited new season of Sherlock, hmm??

Lest Netflix and Amazon find a way to cut us off, we’ll save the “how-to” of streaming these shows for another blog (if you really want to know, just email us).

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Lori browsing shampoo at the “Azsian Diskount”

And then there’s the shopping. We take a bizarre and unexpected pleasure in going grocery shopping when we arrive in a new place. And weeks after we’ve left a place, often what we’re musing about is that wonderful quirky store we found in so-and-so. We’ve come to love Eastern Europe’s “Asian Discount” stores (often written “Azsian Diskount”, or with similar English liberties taken), almost as much as we love the flea markets and antique stores of England.

So if movies and TV shows and shopping weren’t time-wasting enough, our son has also gotten me into an interesting game called Ingress. It’s a game you run on your phone using GPS, aka location services. The object of the game is to walk around and shoot or collect things like “Exotic Matter” and Portals that are tied to—appropriately—places of cultural and tourist interest in the real world. It’s sort of like a sci-fi scavenger hunt rolled up with geocaching and played against thousands of other people stumbling around cities around the world staring at their phone and pretending to shoot things with it. If only I could get consistent LTE…

Hopefully you get the idea that, for us, it really isn’t all about the tourist sites. Those things are just what make our life of travel really interesting. Those things, and Exotic Matter.

Ingress game
Chuck’s Ingress screen. We are “Nomad2”.

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