I am back from my trip to Europe with no jet lag! It’s funny, the first time I went I had so much to say. The second time I was still in awe but sat back and enjoyed more. This third time was a bit different because we first went to Tuscany, a place I have read and dreamed about for manymanymany years.
Not so mini travel diary down below.
But first, my newest venture. I am training to be a CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocate – working one-on-one with a foster child, providing critical emotional and educational support, ensuring the child’s needs are met and their voice heard while navigating the court dependency system. I’ve been wanting to make a difference for so long and this is exactly what I want to do. If I can’t help everyone, I can help one person, and in turn the people around them. I have no doubt it will also help me grow and learn. I am already learning SO much! I am only 1/3 through training, and I have heard stories from other CASAS, judges, lawyers, social workers, and parent mentors – parents who have had their children taken away and were (finally) able to reunify and now council other parents in the same situation. CASA of Silicon Valley is an incredible organization with a great team and I highly recommend learning more about volunteering. I will be as prepared as possible yet I will still have no idea what to expect, except that it will be hard, a lot of work, and rewarding.
3 weeks in Europe –
Everyone told me I needed to go to Florence, I was referred to a lovely 6 room historic villa. In the taxi, driving through the hectic streets, through the city, all of the buildings, I felt a little panic. Andy was also silent. We are not city people. I mean, I can handle a city, but my dream of Italy is the Tuscan countryside.
The heat was 95 and the humidity was about the same, it reminded me of walking the fields while antiquing in Texas, but more people and cars and more concrete and stone to hold that heat. We quickly learned to sleep during the hottest parts of the day and eat about 11pm. The nights were lovely, a lot of walking and people watching. I know we missed a lot because we were so out of our element and permanently on the verge of heatstroke.
On our last night in Florence we went in search of gelato and instead followed people walking into a park. There were kids playing and people chatting on park benches and a pop-up beer garden! In the middle of the park, in the dark, we happily sat and enjoyed people watching until midnight.
The agritourismo in San Gimignano was exactly what I expected, perfection. The whole of Tuscany was exactly how it looks in pictures and films and was just surreal! Last night I re-watched Rick Steves Tuscan hillside towns and felt so lucky that I was able to visit Volterra, Cortona, and San Gimignano and drive through the incredible landscape that I have always dreamed of. I know spring and fall are the “optimal” times to visit, but nothing was crowded! The roads were empty, parking was easy. We walked around these towns and rarely saw others on the alleys. Restaurants were not crowded. The weather in the evening was so perfect. Tassoni with Campari was a nice companion, and somehow, you can drink a whole bottle of wine with dinner each night in Italy and wake up feeling perfect!
Italy feels like a blur. Next time we will explore a little more. Next time I will be more prepared with phrases and we hope to be a bit more comfortable. Andy and I get along great, but I think we both felt a bit lonely not being able to speak the language and talk to others.
I was happy as we flew into Munich. I love the friends we stay with. We drove up north to Andy’s parents and had a really nice stay there too. We saw more friends, we walked around the quaint and ancient towns (Soest is my favorite). Near the end we were both pretty ready to go home. Next time we will spend a few quality days with his parents and move on to new places in Germany, France, and …
As amazing as that trip was (I know I am so blessed and I am grateful that I got to experience all of it), I really love our home, the pool, the weather is perfect here, I have the cats, and we are spoiled by all of the great food in our area. It may sound nuts but it is hard to leave and hard to beat! Example. Yet each time we travel we learn more about other cultures, each other, and ourselves. That’s what it’s all about, right? In case you missed it, loads of pics (and much better stories) here, and here.
Oh, guest bath renovation done – almost (wood ceiling needs to be painted white). Details, before and after pics on Pinterest page. This one was pretty simple and went smoothly. The charcoal slate floors we have in the master were a given, plain white cabinet with Carrara marble top, really lovely Grohe fixtures in chrome, the frameless tub door is pretty awesome. I don’t normally do an accent tile but Andy wanted it and it does look nice. I’m so happy this one was drama-free, we are a great team!