Thirty-One Things I Love

· 6 min read ·

When I woke up in my bed on my birthday in Chamonix last year, I imagined how fun it would be for Sheila & I to spend some time in this amazing outdoor playground. I had no idea, then, that our traveling plans would be set into motion so soon afterwards, and that we would indeed make it back there so soon. A year later, and after four months on the road, I can honestly say that this trip has been a dream. This list (in no particular order) is just a few of the things I’m grateful for having experienced:

  1. Traveling Europe by train and bus — yes, we’ve had some carsick rides, but we’ve also committed to a lifestyle where mass transport minimizes our carbon footprint as much as is possible. (#TravelLightExperienceHeavy)
  2. Farmers’ Markets — the sheer variety and widespread access we’ve had to fresh produce has been amazing. From the daily market held in Ljubljana to the weekend veggie stalls scattered throughout Paris; from the market in Cambridge, England, to the incredible Saturday selection in Stroud, England (where we are currently), farmers’ markets have treated us very well indeed
  3. Hiking the Slap Boka in Slovenia — such a chance moment, but we truly benefited from the tip to do so from our packrafting guide.
  4. Baking with our friends — particularly the sweet and salty chocolate chip cookies we made before heading to Lucerne.
  5. Vermouth — I really fell in love with this amazing aperitif while we were in Barcelona.
  6. Not sweating the small stuff — like accidentally booking one of the few flights we’ve taken for the wrong days. Yes, it cost hundreds of dollars to correct. No, we’ll never regret spending that money. That’s just one in a potentially long list of its own of the mishaps we’ve had on the road, but the moral of the story is that our time together is the most valuable thing and everything else just isn’t worth worrying about.
  7. Proper self care — I wrote a little bit about this in Traveling & Relationships, but I’ve had a variety of ailments over the course of the trip and seeing doctors has been a necessary part of making the most of our trip. Most recently, I’m grateful for the awesome experience I had with the NHS in England, which was 100% free. 😮
  8. Balancing the surprises with the planning — my approach to travel has traditionally been a bit more laissez faire. Some of the best experiences I’ve had while traveling in the past have only involved my running shoes, some loose cash, and a map. I’ve learned that you can’t always do that, nor is it desirable. Sheila is an excellent planner who has shown me that knowing the restaurant you’re eating dinner at can help avoid a disappointing meal!
  9. Make the most of the weather — do things in the rain. In England and Slovenia in particular, this has been crucial!
  10. Lunch out, dinner in — we get great local things from markets and make dinner. Eating lunch out has allowed us to save money for travel, while learning more about local delicacies that we then try to reproduce for various other meals.
  11. Not settling for the subpar — life’s too short. We returned a “salad” today because it wasn’t what we thought it would be (wildly expensive compared to the tiny portion). Total round trip from the shephard’s hut where we are staying back into town was more than an hour, but it was well worth it… we also used the refunded money to buy a mountain of other things of high quality and value.
  12. Learning how to make the most out of traveling, even at the expense of athleticism — we both consider ourselves to be fairly fit; we also both have prioritized our experiences over maintaining an extreme level of fitness. A future post to come on this topic!
  13. Appreciating how hard walking is — and much better exercise than I would have thought!
  14. Learning that better footwear is essential — I love my flip flops. I’ve been wearing them around the Western states and Europe for the past 4 months. I wouldn’t recommend that you do this!
  15. Proper “cream tea” in England — this is typically a pot of tea served with several English cakes, jam, and clotted cream. Goodness gracious.
  16. Reading the news wherever we go — we’ve learned about some truly interesting local projects to improve infrastructure and battle climate change, no matter where we’ve been. We’ve talked most with the people we’ve met about this NYT article on the question of what it means to be European in 2019, and their answers have truly been food for thought.
  17. Veggie burgers in Slovenia — it seems like every spot we tried had an amazing, home-made veggie burger.
  18. Walking at night in Munich — Sheila & I were both so amazed by the fact that you could see stars in the city itself!
  19. Hiking the Lacs Noir in Chamonix — truly one of the most spectacular hikes I’ve ever done
  20. Learning recipes from our friends — Palma & Simon are both amazing chefs 😋
  21. Fennel — without a doubt the vegetable star of this trip!
  22. Dinner with the Italians — part of our Biking, Hiking & Ikea chapter in Switzerland, Riccardo made a meal to die for.
  23. Seeing old friends again — from Annecy, Paris, Lucerne, Zurich, and Ljubljana, we’ve been very lucky.
  24. Making new friends! — getting to know Sheila’s friends and meeting friends of our friends have both been a big part of our trip.
  25. Pancakes — we’ve had some notable successes and some notable failures, haha. We made some killer pancakes for our friends this past week in Cheltenham, England, and also had to dispose of a whole bag of cakes we made in Chamonix after realizing they were entirely too heavy for us.
  26. Getting to do this with my best friend — Sheila, you’ve been the perfect traveling partner. You’ve put up with me and found so many amazing places for us to go.
  27. Proposing to Sheila — it helped that it was a bluebird day in Switzerland, but it would have been the best day of my life in any weather.
  28. Getting each other little gifts — sometimes it’s as simple as a sunflower. It’s hard to surprise somebody when you’re with each other pretty much full time, but we’ve each had our moments. Most recently, Sheila surprised me with chocolate tahini cake made for us to celebrate my birthday … clearly I’m the luckiest person alive.
  29. Recording silly videos — yes, our faux Instagram personalities aren’t entirely serious, but we do love making little updates there. I plan to stitch them together at the end of our trip.
  30. Our brief trip back states-side — it was a much needed chance to recharge our batteries and see our loved ones (including the amazing Boston Logan airport run in we had with my little sister and brother-in-law!)
  31. Appreciating both our conversations and our quiet moments — we’ve run the gamut on philosophy, life, future plans, business ideas, what dogs are thinking about, etc … and those have all been incredible. Sheila falling asleep on my lap in our parked car in Arches National Park, on the train between Paris & Annecy, on our flight to Mallorca, in our various apartments and the tiny houses we’ve stayed in … even in the moments where it was just a few minutes of shut-eye, those quiet moments have compressed time, meaning, and our coexistence into an appreciation for her that is tangible, impactful, and humbling.
Sheila surprised me with chocolate tahini cake for my birthday
Sheila surprised me with chocolate tahini cake for my birthday
Same shirt, but better! What’s mine is yours.
Same shirt, but better! What’s mine is yours.

Well, that’s it for my short list! I hope you enjoyed it. Sorry we’ve been so quiet while in England. Stay tuned for further updates about our adventures in Cambridge & The Cotswolds!

Adventure travel blog by James Simone & Sheila Murray. Travel along with them on their backpacking trip(s) as they actively explore the American West, Europe and beyond:

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