A Chronicle of Amy and Sean's World Travels

The Big Apple Bust

When we realized that flying out of New York City was much cheaper than flying out of Pittsburgh, even factoring in the cost of the hotel, we jumped at the chance to make a quick return visit to the Big Apple.  Truth be told, New York City was a bit of a bust this time around.  In an effort to kick off our new adventurous, frugal style of travel, we decided to stay at the Jane in the West Village (http://www.thejanenyc.com/).  I had heard about the Jane from a post on The Lost Girls’ website (www.lostgirlsworld.com).  When we booked our room, we knew that the room would be small, bunk beds would be involved, and we’d have to use a shared bathroom outside the room.  We were trying to just get something reserved, without having to do our normal advance research, and the reviews were good and the website was persuasively trendy.  And really, everything was exactly as advertised.  But reading that a room is 50 square feet in passing is different than actually taking a step inside.

From Departure and New York City
From Departure and New York City

Things had been good up to that point.  The street leading up to The Jane was cobblestone, the lobby was awesomely vintage, and there was an antique elevator operated by an actual operator.  Following the porter down the hall, I felt the familiar anticipation I always experience when I am about to view new accommodations for the first time.  The porter opened the door to our room, and I entered first, Sean following.  He ran into me when I stopped short, realizing that both of us could not stand inside the room together.  The space situation was even worse once the backpacks involved.

Despite the lack of space, or most likely because of the lack of space, the room was exceptionally well designed, with hooks on the wall to hang your possessions, and a personal TV at the end of each bunk bed.  The shared bathroom, located down the hall, was clean and full of black and white tile.  I was having flashbacks to college, what with the bunkbeds and random half dressed strangers in the bathroom.

The biggest problem compounding the space issue was the constant downpour outside.  The rain frequently blew sideways, causing many New Yorkers to abandon their useless, inside-out umbrellas on the street.  On the plus side, we determined our Gortex shoes and jackets really did work as advertised.  At one point, we caved and got a cab to take us across town to my favorite New York bagel shop, only to discover upon arrival that it was closed for Passover.  I was planning to be consoled by a black and white cookie I purchased to eat later, only to discover on the plane that the cashier gave me a completely different type of cookie.  The rain also caused us to forgo exchanging the defective camera filter we had ordered online from a camera shop in New York, rationalizing that it really wasn’t that broken anyway.  We did manage to get some tasty New York style pizza, paired with Magnolia Bakery cupcakes for dessert.  (As a side note, Vanilla Pastry Studio cupcakes in Pittsburgh are still my favorite).

However, things are looking up in Europe.  We have a five hour layover in Brussels.  The layover itself is not fun, except for the abundance of waffles and Belgian chocolate for sale in the airport.  I am focusing on this, instead of the coke and oj we just purchased for 7 euros, pretending it is morning instead of the middle of the night, and the lack of free wifi in the airport.

Here’s hoping it is sunny in Spain!

Why yes his name is Fabulous, why do you ask?

With all due respect to all of the family and friends who we left behind, and who we will miss tremendously, the hardest part about going on this trip was leaving our cat, Fabulous.  (I can say this, because said family and friends already know I am a crazy cat lady).  Although we originally planned to find him a temporary home before we put any plans in motion, we ended up selling our house unexpectedly.  For a while, it looked like we were going to have to fit Fabulous into our backpacks, because finding a cat lover to  care for him who did not have any other cats proved to be a challenge.  (True to his name, Fabulous insists upon being the only cat, as my brother-in-law could tell you.  Our attempt at adopting a second cat resulted in Vivian living at Gary’s house after Fabulous terrorized and bullied her to no end.  He looks innocent, I know, but he earned the occasional nickname Trouble Cat for a reason).

Luckily, Judy, our friend Tony’s mother, came to the rescue.  She graciously agreed to adopt Fabulous for the year, which we appreciate so much.  We know he is in good hands, but it is still hard to walk away from him as he is a constant part of our lives.  Fabulous is not one of those cats who you never see except for feeding time.  He is somewhat like a dog, greeting us at the door, following us around, and snuggling on the couch.

Sean did send me a link to a blog once where someone took their cat on a round the world  sailboat trip.  I am a crazy cat lady, but not that crazy.

REI is our new Home Depot.

Back when we were renovating the Money Pit, not a weekend went by where we did not visit Home Depot or Lowes.  At least twice – and sometimes three times – each day.  Now we live at the REI at South Side Works.  When we discovered that there was an REI in Robinson, we got excited and went there to mix it up.  (It has the same stuff as the South Side Works store, by the way).  In addition to shopping at many brick and mortar stores, we received 30 packages in the mail.  Because we only had a short period of time, and we are picky and indecisive (this includes Sean, who at one point was deciding between what seemed to be a million pairs of pants), we ordered tons of stuff to try.  I think the UPS guy hates us, because he had to carry multiple packages up the steps  for the last few weeks.

Although I suppose it would have been entirely possible just to bring stuff we already owned, nothing we owned seemed to be right for a one year, live out of your backpack trip around the world to multiple climates.  Luckily many have gone before us, and have prepared extensive packing lists from which we worked.   I’ll be posting about all of the stuff we are bringing, because I know many are curious about how exactly we are going to live out of a single backpack each.  I am still not sure myself.  We’ll see what makes the final cut tonight.  One would think that we would know exactly what we are bringing, considering we leave tomorrow, but true to form, we are not yet packed.

Shaving off the pounds will be especially important, because at this point I’m not sure how I am going to carry my backpack.  I hurt my knee when I attempted to begin the Couch to 5K running program earlier this month and I have been hobbling and limping around ever since  (bursitis, apparently).  I did not stray far from the Couch portion of the program.  In fact, it was all the orthopedic surgeon could do to stifle a laugh when he inquired exactly how much running I was doing.  I think he was expecting me to announce my attempt at running a marathon or something, not tell him that twice I alternated running and walking for 20 minutes on the treadmill.   The Couch to 5K program does seem like a good way to ramp up for non-runners (http://www.c25k.com/) but I have come to the conclusion that running is too dangerous for a person with crappy health insurance.

In the beginning

One day, way back in 2007, or maybe 2008, Sean mentioned to Amy, wouldn’t it be awesome if we quit our jobs and travelled around the world for a year?  Amy replied, of course.  But…who does that?  How can we just quit?  Who can afford that?  What would we do with our cat?  What would we do when we got back?

Then Sean kept forwarding Amy links to blogs of people who did just that.  Who, just, you know, quit.  Who left behind good jobs, sold their houses, put their stuff in storage.  People who seemed perfectly normal.  And not rich.

It remains unclear even now how we crossed over from the idea of wouldn’t this be awesome to ohmygod we leave in eight days.  But here we are.

This is the story of Amy and Sean’s trip around the world.

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