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Travel Stories

Espana Ole’

My first visit to Spain and on my 61st birthday. I arrive at the Malaga airport to be greeted by the homeowner and beloved dog that would be in my care for the next 8 days. Now I must say there was some hesitation involved, I had had only one, brief video chat with these homeowners many months ago and I had met many people in the mean time so it was a bit of a challenge to recognize someone wanting to give me a ride and then I saw him, the beautiful dog with a tennis ball. He of course did not see me, because he is blind, the best kind of date huh? The home was about 30 minute drive and a what beautiful drive, olive trees, orange trees and artichoke just ready to be picked. What a wonderful way to have a chat with the homeowners.

The house was beautifully simple, open and airy with outdoor living and dining space just what I love. Perched on a hill with views for miles and miles. A bit of a walk into the village but so worth the journey as the streets were winding, filled with shops full of necessities for daily life including outdoor cafes. I would enjoy it so much I agreed to return in September for a bit longer sit.

Of course the 8 days went very quickly and I was soon on a quick train ride to Seville. Arriving in the late afternoon I soon learned that restaurants close mid day and only reopen at 20:00 for dinner so what is a girl to do? I found a lovely wine bar just around the corner from my hostel, had a glass of wine and fresh toasted bread and topped with avocado. Perfecto!

Did you notice I said hostel? Yes, I stayed in a modern hostel that reminded me of a college dorm room but private with a private bath. It was very clean, comfortable and breakfast was included. The location was absolutely wonderful for my daily walks exploring the city. I even did a bike tour which was an excellent way to meet other tourists and really get to see a lot in one day. Joining me on the bike tour were two couples (close to my age) from Amsterdam and it was so very nice to chat while biking with them.

The evenings were filled with trying new restaurants recommended by the homeowners daughter who lives in Seville. I do love the concept of Tapas, eating smaller size dishes so you can try more foods. There was also one more recommendation from a friend that I had to try, the thermal bath spa! Finding the spa was an adventure wandering through the very narrow streets in the old jewish quarter was actually fun and peaceful on a Sunday morning. The spa itself is inside the very old building much like the riads in Morocco. Dark, quiet, thermal baths, a completely new experience and very relaxing once you surrender yourself to the idea of ancient history.

As the days went by so quickly I readied myself for a train back to the Malaga airport and return trip to Gatwick airport and then on to Gdansk, Poland for my first english teaching program with Angloville.

Travel Stories

Hove, Brighton and Shoreham By Sea

My lovely new friend/homeowner was nice enough to drop my at the Gatwick Train Station for my journey south to Hove. I had a two night AirBnB before my sit in Hove and as it turned out, I met another very nice Brit, Peter. He was very nice to take the time to show me around Hove and gave me an upgrade to his larger apartment. A gap is always a pleasant break between housesits as it gives me a chance to relax, explore the new location and regroup, especially when coming from cats to a dog which will require a great deal more attention. As it turned out my sit was only 1 block from the train station. A taxi ride indeed as my luggage hinders my progress on busy city streets.

At my arrival for the sit assignment, which had been agreed upon nearly a year ago, I was met by Toby, a cockapoo that is deaf. What a sweet, well trained companion for the next two weeks. Now there are always some unforeseen challenges in life and this was no exception. In this older city there are rows of houses with no outdoor green space! So that means getting up, getting dressed (according to temperature) and walking dear sweet Toby and even before coffee, ugh! But I must say I met some very nice people along the way, like the street cleaner. She walks the streets hand sweeping, taking pride in her city with joy in her heart.

While sitting in Hove I took a bus ride to Brighton. The city is a mix of old spirits and new young life. No, I didn’t go to the Pavilion. The Royal Pavilion was built in 1787 as an exotic seaside pleasure palace for King George IV in the style of India & China. At the time of my visit it was undergoing renovation as was the 360 Tower, oh and Big Ben and the Eye in London.

My homeowner was very nice and drove me to my AirBnB in Shoreham where I would be for only 1 night. Again, the homeowner was a very nice, a french woman who had unexpectedly lost her brother and needed to fly to France for his funeral but not before we shared our stories. I spent the day walking around the city, a beautiful city by the sea which would be my home for the next two weeks.

Shoreham By Sea is on the Azur River and I was able to walk the dog along the river on beautiful walkway newly built condos. In the morning the river would rise as the tide came in and by the evening walk the tide had gone out and there was no longer water in the river! The weather was nice and some days very windy, rainy and cold. I was able to walk very easily all over town, to the butcher, baker and grocery (ha! not the candlestick maker). I took a bus over to Worthing on a beautiful Sunday, what a different city, lined shops and blocked off to vehicle traffic. Also, it was along the coast so very large pebble/rock beach with a large pier.

The sit came to a close and I was off on a train to Gatwick Airport for my next adventure to Spain!

Travel Stories

Beginning the Year in UK

2019 flew me across the pond to England. My first time in England and I had a housesit with the perfect Homeowner for a first timer. Belinda picked me up at Gatwick airport and my first mistake….went to the “wrong side” of the car to get in, not drive! Ok, I was just awake on a plane full of families with children that didn’t sleep for 8 hours. Arriving in the morning enables you to acclimate to the time change quickly. We took a quick tour of Dorking, the closest town to the home where I would be staying, a quick hit of the ATM and then a pop in to the Vodaphone store for a sim card so my phone became british very swiftly. Then a quick run through the market and off to the house. A converted barn that was truly wonderful, warm and homey. Belinda had arranged for friends and a neighbor to come by so that I could meet them should I need them whilst she was away, very nice and fun people, I was already loving the Brits! Next, the kitties, two sisters that had totally different personalities from each other. By 3:00 I was done, off to bed for a nap which became an all nighter! Awaking the next morning to the most beautiful green field with pheasant and sheep. The homeowners had left in the wee hours and at this point I could have been anywhere sitting.

Housesitting can become a very lonely existence unless you make yourself get dressed and venture outdoors. And don’t worry, there is always someone there to help.

So, a walk up the road, winding and lined with a 4 foot hedge (just like you see on TV) I arrived at the main road and bus stop. A bus ride is becoming a favorite thing for me to acclimate myself to the area and interact with the people. At the market to get provisions, a woman behind be kept looking at me as though I should know her, well I should, she was the neighbor I had just met (after the 8 hour overseas flight). She reintroduced herself and just like that I had a ride back to the house with my bags of groceries!

During one of our conversations the homeowner mentioned that she and her family had gone into London to see Hamilton (the story of an american founding father done in a rap musical with an update to the interpretation of history) well my mind started plotting and planning. So after a bit of investigation on google and a justification for a self imposed birthday gift, I had tickets! Much to easy; train to london, cross the street to the theatre, center stage lower level and I was a happy American!

There was also a meetup in London with fellow housesitters that I had met in Mexico, Andrew & Christopher. We met at the Victoria Station (yes, found each other very quickly) and toured Westminster Abbey. Truly amazing! The Abbey and those two Aussies!

The kitties where amusing companions, always on the hunt for field mice to bring me which at times proved exhausting! But they were such great girls to be with that I have a return sit in August! As well as the homeowner being such a delight!

Next, a train ride to Hove…..

Travel Stories

The Journey Begins November 6, 2018

This is the official day that “I ran away from Home” I had wanted to “run away” since I was 18! What held me back? Fear of death from my parents, a deep sense of being a responsible person and truthfully, no one to run with me! So it seems I have always had “Fernweh” – that urge to travel

So after planning the escape, I left on a jet plane and headed to Mexico. Seemed like the appropriate 1st stop for a Texas girl looking for a new life and the desire explore the world. I of course had been to Mexico; the all inclusive resorts on each coast, over the border for some cultural exchange, but this was different, I was going as a full-time house sitter. My first stop Ajijic, Mexico for a house sit, now I had visited Ajijic in May of 2018 for my first international house sit. It was only 1 week but I was able to make contacts for future sits and that aided me in the master plan. So here I was for 2 months and 3 house sits. The first sit was at the home of my airport driver and his wildly friendly wife with two dogs and a koi pond. With a great location for walking to all that a person needs in life: food, friends and culture.

While in Ajijic, I was able to meet some other international house sitters that were sitting in the area. That was so fun, but also gave me a sense of community and support for my new lifestyle. Although I am basically an introvert that enjoys my alone time, I do enjoy the occasional chat with a human. We went to see the female Mariachi band, we formed our own group for Trivia Night at the local pizza parlour (it is nice to have pizza when you can share it) but we also shared our knowledge of the world. We shared our knowledge of the electronics that we haul around and played with a drone! Sadly, we all went our separate ways but with modern technology we keep up with each other as we wonder around the world!

Housesitting allows me to live like a local, meaning shopping at markets such as the Monday Market, Tiangus market on Wednesdays and the amazing Art Show in Chapala where the talented people of Mexico displayed their creativity. I was invited to attend the art show by a neighbor of the house sit, which then led to a house sit for her friend that filled in a few days gap for me! The next gap was not filled by house sitting but with an adventure to Macheros, Mexico with a stopover in Morelia, Mexico. Why you might ask? To see the monarch butterflies that winter in the high mountain area where the “hangout” every year! I took a bus to Morelia, stayed in a magical old historic home hosted by Rosa at Casona Rosa B&B. That is how you visit a city like Morelia and immersing in the local culture. I stayed one night on the way to Macheros and one night on the way back to Ajijic.

The monarch butterflies typically begin arriving in December/January and the best time is to visit in Jan/Feb so “they” say, as luck would have it, they began arriving in November. Staying at J&M’s Butterfly B&B was the best decision, very few guests (only 6 during my time there, 2 were fellow house sitters) You can choose to partially ride up the mountain by horseback or hike the entire distance. I rode, yes after 30+ years I got on a horse, you never really forget, right? Then a 30 minute hike to the top where you witness the most magical sight of monarchs in clones and when the sun hits them they fly! Unlike anything else….except maybe inside of a snow globe.

It was an amazing trip, with help from friends and strangers I was able to find the right buses and get back to Ajijic for the next house sit at the BnB which was a repeat sit. My mother and stepfather, Charlie came down for a few days visit prior to Christmas and enjoyed the flowers full of color, food and of course mom had to shop. Another advantage to this way of life is sometimes family can join you! New Years Day was spent with friends viewing parades and eating burgers. What a way to begin a year!

Useful Information

Helpful Websites and Apps

Here are a few of my favourite websites when it comes to living the nomadic life.

House and Pet Sitting Platforms

Miscellaneous Websites

Helpful Discount Travel Apps

Helpful Travel Products

  • AeroPress for french press coffee
  • Backpack
  • Ecko Luggage w/4 wheels