What Is Too Little?

Space.  The final frontier…

We’ve done a lot of thinking about where we want to end up after our big trip, and how we want to live.  And in particular, how much space we actually need for the two of us.

We stayed in a lot of very small places.  Here is Richard in a tiny room we occupied in Amsterdam, where buildings tend to be old, stairs tend to be narrow, and rooms tend to be tight.

We got by, but we couldn’t open the suitcases at the same time.  We could barely fit the suitcases in, even while they were closed up.  And it was hard for Richard to stretch out on the floor to do his exercises. There was no space long enough for his body.

As we traveled around the globe, we stayed primarily in Airbnb rentals (typically more roomy than hotels, with a bit of a kitchen, and usually a washing machine), in a few B&Bs, and in the occasional hotel room, with star levels ranging from the bare minimum to the somewhat luxurious.  We have been calling this long trip a “reset,” and we definitely had a chance to reset our expectations in terms of space.

It’s become obvious that in general, people live in smaller spaces in most of the world.  It’s a good lesson in how much we need, or don’t need.

When we left Connecticut, we sold our grand house–more than 3,000 square feet, on just over an acre of land.  It was clearly far more space than we required, but it felt so luxurious to have room for offices for both of us, a spare bedroom for guests, 2.5 bathrooms, and tables all over the place: in the dining room, in the breakfast “nook,” in the spectacular music room, and out on the two-level deck.  It wouldn’t be wrong to say that we were spoiled with space.

We need to go smaller.  I’m trying to picture us in a place where we are more in each other’s face–which will be very different than it was when Richard was working away from home full-time.  We’ve managed to go all the way around the world, spending more than five months together nearly every moment of every day, with very little friction.  But now we’re going back to real life.  No separate offices, I  imagine, and no huge music rooms to sing in.  We aren’t likely to be in a house where we can get so far apart that we can’t hear each other when we ask, “Where are you, honey?”

So now there is the question of what is enough.  As I write this, I’m sitting in a pleasant (and free) space courtesy of Richard’s sister Joan, who lives in co-housing in California.  It’s perfectly adequate for two people; a room with a queen bed, plus a kitchenette/living room with a sink, refrigerator, microwave, table, and two comfy chairs.  But I can’t quite imagine living this tiny.  At least… not yet.

How much space do we really need–how much privacy, and how much independence?  How much is reasonable in a big world where some have a lot and some have so little?

Where are we?

Lots of people are asking us where we’ve been and where we’re going.  So here’s a rundown of places we’ve stopped in to date:

IRELAND

Dublin – July 17-21

Killarney – July 21-26

Doolin – July 26-28

Sligo – July 28-29

Galway – July 29-August 2

 

SCOTLAND 

Edinburgh – August 2-14

Leslie (Insch) – August 14-16

Aberdeen – August 16-20

ENGLAND

London – August 20-23

FRANCE

Paris – August 23-26 (For Patrice’s birthday!)

LeMans – August 26-28

Parce sur Sarthe – August 28-September 1

BELGIUM

Brussels – September 1-4

NETHERLANDS

Amsterdam – September 4-11

GERMANY 

Berlin – September 11-19

UPCOMING

AUSTRIA

Vienna – September 19-25

ITALY

Florence – September 25-30

Rome – September 30-October 2

THAILAND

Bangkok

VIETNAM

Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

SINGAPORE

AUSTRALIA

NEW ZEALAND

TAHITI

USA! (CALIFORNIA)

HAWAII

 

The Richness of Time

When did you start racing through life?

When your mom told you to hurry up and get ready for school?  When you had to get that report written stat for your new boss?  When you took the kids to Disney World and managed to hustle them, whining, onto one more ride… just so you’d get your money’s worth out of those expensive tickets?

Well, this is not like that.

Going on this projected nine month — nine MONTH! — trip has given me a whole new perspective on time.  We aren’t having an “If This Is Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium” experience here. We’re having a three-or-four-weeks-for-each-country, what-would-we-have-fun-doing-next, darling? kind of trip.

We have the relaxed joy of having enough days and weeks and months to savor the trip.  How often does that come along in life?  It certainly makes the journey very different.

Just yesterday we had a grand time performing our Great American Songbook cabaret as part of the Festival Fringe, and because of the energy it takes to get up in front of a crowd and sing (not to mention amuse them between songs with charming patter) we were both feeling depleted today.  So we didn’t push ourselves.  We didn’t have to!

We lolled around in the morning enjoying the fact that there was no alarm to wake up to.  Then we wandered over to the church where we sang to set up a rehearsal with the accompanist for the service we’re leading next Sunday. Afterward, we walked along the Royal Mile, stopping to watch buskers as they entertained the crowds, popping into the spectacular St. Giles’ Cathedral to ooh and ah over the stained glass windows, and eating dinner at Angels with Bagpipes, a restaurant with the most scrumptiously delicious mascarpone I’ve ever tasted.  Yum.

Such a fantastic abundance!  It’s almost obscene.  To have this absence of time pressure is amazing.  And rare.

Remember when you were a kid and all summer stretched out before you, so ripe and full of sunshiny hours to come that you couldn’t see the end of it?

Well, this is like that.

I wish you all a day, a week, a month, a year with such an indulgent richness of time.

 

Where to lay our heads?

One of the challenges of planning as you go (or not planning, to be more accurate) is figuring out where to sleep each night.  So far, we’ve spent four nights in an AirBnB apartment in Dublin, one night in a hotel in Dublin, two nights in a so-called B&B in Killarney, and we spent last night in a hotel in Killarney.

Only one of those spots was reserved from back in Connecticut.

We’ve stayed in a number of AirBnB locations over the years, with great success.  The upside is that you usually have quite a bit of space, good privacy, and often a small kitchen.  In Europe, they sometimes have a washer/dryer as well.  AirBnB used to be a bargain, but as the service has gotten more popular, it is more expensive. The place we stayed at in Dublin was in an excellent location and had a comfy layout, but the bathroom sink drove me crazy.  The cold water faucet was just a trickle, and the hot water was too hot.  So we brushed our teeth in the kitchen.  The bathroom also had an old, loud fan that went on… and stayed on… every time you turned on the light.  Good thing Richard and I know each other well enough to leave the door open…

Also, the shower power was weak.  Oh, and the bed was bouncy and uncomfortable, and the pillows were shot.  That AirBnB rental cost about $163 per day.

We splurged and treated ourselves to a nice hotel the next night.  Which was in the middle of the Dublin city center, and quite nice, at 309 Euro.  A Euro is about equal to $1.16 these days, so that’s the equivalent of approximately $360.  Even there, the bed was small, though the pillows were better.  We were underwhelmed at twice the price.

The next two nights were spent in Killarney at a so-called B&B… which turned out not to include breakfast.  This room was so tiny we could only open one suitcase at a time.  Admittedly, we have big suitcases!  And a trumpet, and a big backpack with two laptops, and another day pack.  We’re planning to send home the trumpet after the performance in Edinburgh, and I might get rid of some clothes.  This is a lot to travel around with.  That little B&B room cost 129 Euros.

We switched last night to a really nice hotel called Killarney Towers.  120 Euros per night, and a huge bed and a nice shower.  Also a pool, which we made use of!  Of course, that leaves us with wet bathing suits this morning.  This is the best room so far, and a bargain at that.  They warned us about the noisy bar directly below, but the music was standard Irish fare, and only last until 11:30, so it wasn’t a problem for us.

We just rented a car.  !!!  Not only do they drive on the “wrong” side of the road, most of the cars use a stick shift.  So everything is backwards.  We were lucky enough to get an automatic, and Richard has already tooled around the block a couple times.  No one is dead yet.

I give my name instead of Richard’s in Ireland… they love hearing Fitzgerald, and I tell them my grandfather was born here.  Glad I upped the red in my hair before we left.  😉  The car hire man gave us a deal.

So off we go today to parts unknown, hoping to learn to drive as we explore.  Wish us luck!