Free tutorial: how to prepare a travel journal before you go

When I am traveling, there is never enough time to make entries in my travel journal.  I want to do at least a bullet journal of what I did that day, tape in some receipts, and stash any brochures in my journal.  I find I cannot remember specifics even with the photos of the events.  Where did we eat, how much did it cost for that museum, and how did we get there?  These are some of the questions I will want to remember and to share with my family and friends when I return home.  The way I have learned to take care of this is to prepare my travel journals before I leave home.  I thought I would share how I do that with you my dear blog readers.

I buy a large blank page notebook whenever I can find them on sale.  I found these at Walmart for only $2 each (a stunningly low price) and purchased 3 of them.travel journal 10Since the paper is kind of thin, I glue 2-3 pages together to make a strong base to paint and to eventually staple and glue the memorabilia from the trip.travel journal 11Then I make the cover using mixed media products, stencils and paints.travel journal 1Now I am ready to start painting or using watercolor pencils to prepare the blank pages to write my journaling, and to attach other items I want to save from the trip. I normally add stickers and colorful borders to the pages as I prepare them.  I sometimes draw light pencil lines since that keeps my writing easier to read later.travel journal 2

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travel journal 7I will add some envelopes and glue two pages together to make a large envelope to stash larger items.travel journal 8Finally, I will put together a traveling art kit that includes; pens, water coloring pencils,  a ruler, tape, double sided tape, a paint brush, a stapler with staples, a big glue stick, liquid glue, and a small pair of scissors. [Use short, blunt scissors and omit anything liquid if you plan to put the kit into your carry-on.]journal supplies

Now I am ready to quickly journal by either writing out a narrative or using bullet points to summarize my day. Here is a bullet journal sample from a day that we spent in Paris last year.

  • went to the Louvre  (got there early and there was not much of a line)
  • saw the Mona Lisa, so many people around it, hard to get close
  • went to dinner at small outdoor cafe at the foot of the Eiffel Tower (romantic)
  • back to the apartment by the metro

I also will purchase postcards, cut up the photos  and add them to the pages.  I also leave some blank pages to add my photos when I get home and have them printed.

I hope this tutorial helps you prepare for your next travel adventure and makes it easier and quicker to write down some precious memories from these fleeting moments in your life.

 

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Doing some Pet sitting in California

We took care of two sweet kitties last month for a week near La Jolla, California. Here is a photo of Eddie. _DSC0597 It was a nice break from the house and the routine.  The sea lions, seals and cormorants were all having babies in La Jolla this February.  We drove down to see them.  Here are some sea lions who are lying on the rocks in the sun.  sea lions la jolla Feb 2018 netsea lion nursing feb 2018And here is a mom still nursing her pup.

Here is a photograph of a cormorant sitting on her just hatched babies.  I love seeing new born  animals in a natural environment. bandt cormornds nest feb 2018 netThis is an interesting adjunct to pet sitting in Europe.  There are people in the USA who want pet sitters too.  We have another pet sit lined up for Portland next month for 6 days with 2 sweet kitties.

I am lining up our summer pet sitting schedule and it is almost finished.  We have two people that we sat for last summer who we will sit for again.  Plus 4 other new people to meet and some new pets to love.  We will go on the Baltic cruise then pet sit until the beginning of Oct.  It should be another fun summer.

We are home and getting ready to go back to Europe

I have not posted in a while because being at home is not that interesting.  We have gotten around to all of our doctor appointments and we are healthy and ready to hit the road again.

We have been doing household improvements since we have decided to keep the house for a while.

The new plan is a family Baltic cruise in June and then to stay on in Europe until October or November of 2018 and cruise home.

I am so excited.  I will keep you informed of our progress. Mac our dog is very happy that we are home. destination England 2 I have been working on some travel journals to sell in my etsy shop ( www.etsy.com/shop/LDphotography)  and I will probably post some information as I prepare my travel journal for this summer.  I make up my travel journal ahead of time so all I have to take with me is the journal,  water color pencils, glue, tape and scissors. destination Scotland 2

Versailles Paris a magical place

I wanted to see the Versailles Palace and grounds when we were in Paris and I am glad we paid for a two day visit.  We were there in the end of October and the weather presented some problems.  The first day there was a lot of fog.  This was not great for the photographs.Versailles clock foggy day 5x7 net Though it did give a soft effect to the clock of the Sun King on top of the palace.Versailles fog trees 5x7 net

We took a tour of the Palace ( 6 euros, I think)  which is the secret way to get in and not to stand in the long lines trying to enter.  Everything inside the palace is covered with gold and lined with crystal.Versailles fireplace 5x7 net

 

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Hall of mirrors Versailles 

 

This is over the top decor is not my taste but it was an amazing bit of spectacle.  As you can see there were a lot of people in the palace with us which made the viewing uncomfortable.

The next day we went back on the train and the sun was shining.  This changed the entire experience.  I wanted to go back and see Marie Antoinette’s Village.  King Louis XVI built her a hamlet away from the main palace where she could play act being a milk maid and a country woman.  This delightful village was the best part of Versailles for me.  We spent all of our second day there , taking photographs and seeing the farm animals.  Here are some of my favorite photos.

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The Queen’s hamlet

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The gardener’s cottage

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One of the gardens

Mr

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So tying up this blog post,  my recommendation is to go for 2 days, try to go on a sunny day and do not miss Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet.

 

Good bye Paris we leave with a gift of a nasty cold

 

Well, you have not heard from me in a while. We are home in California now and I need to catch you up on our travels. The last four days in Paris, I came down with a nasty cold. Really bad words, I wasted most of four days in bed trying to get better before we had to travel to Barcelona on a 6.5 hour train ride. I did not think that our train companions would enjoy hearing me coughing, sneezing and blowing my nose for all 6 hours.
We got to Barcelona at night and had the next two days to see the Sagrada Familia basilica and Montserrat before boarding Norwegian Epic to sail home to Florida.

So let’s start with Paris; I loved this city. I went to the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa and many other stunning works of art. louvre mona lisa 5x7 netNot to mention the architecture of the Louvre, the glass pyramid and all the other buildings that have been there for centuries (the Louvre was formerly a palace).Paris Louvre pryamids 5x7 net

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Medieval work of art at the Louvre

I also went to an exhibit of a turn of the century dress designer called Fortuny. He created dresses from tiny pleats that could be rolled up and shaken out and worn.fortuny dress 5x7 net

We visited two of my favorite, Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame. Sainte Chapelle was built by King Louis IX to house his relics from the Holy Land. The royal chapel upstairs has an amazing set of medieval stained glass windows.sainte chapelle 5x7 net

 

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Angels holding the crown of thorns

Notre Dame is a famous and wonderful medieval church. We were able to go to Mass there on Sunday.Notre Dame outside 5x7 net

We took a river cruise on the Seine. It is a tourist thing to do, but worth it to see Paris from where the city began 1,000 years ago.Seine boats 5x7 net

The last night I pulled myself out of bed and we went to have a French dinner under the Eiffel Tower. It was so romantic to sit at the base of the tower and see it shining  in the night.Eiffel tower lights 5x7 net

 

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Linda eating dinner in Paris

 

The next day we were packed and went off to the Gare De Lyon train station to catch our TGV (very fast train) to Barcelona. I will talk about our two days in Barcelona and the ship in the next blog.

Medication Management on Long Trips in Europe

If you’re going to be away from the US for more than three months, you’ll have to give some thought to how you’re going to get your maintenance medications refilled. What doesn’t occur to you until you get sick overseas is the need to give some thought to your usual OTC remedies.
Together, Linda and I take four maintenance medications, and I managed to get them synced up so that the refills all occur at about the same time. Generally, with mail order pharmacies, you can ask for a refill two-thirds of the way through the prescribed quantities (e.g. after 60 days for a 90-day refill).
Mail order pharmacies won’t ship overseas, so you’ll need a stateside helper for this.  For some plans that permit it, it might be easier to get 90-day refills at a local pharmacy rather than the mail order one. This will reduce wait times by a few days.
Once your helper has the meds, they can be repackaged in a small box or envelope if necessary. We sent the four prescriptions to Europe (once to Ireland and twice to the UK) for $13.50 each time, and it took 5 to 9 calendar days to be delivered. On the customs declaration, we put “prescription refills” and a value of $25, and there were no problems, at least in these countries.
Because of the shipping delay, you will need to identify a place where you can receive the item, and where it might arrive before you do. I asked our pet-sitting hosts for their postal address and permission to do this, and it all worked out well.

By the way, lens.com will send contact lenses overseas for $30, and without having to check with your eye doctor. They have a UK branch so it might be quicker to get them that way, or even to pop into a local optical shop. But they might not have your brand in another country.

What about OTC items?

We were planning a trip of seven months, and that meant about 400 multivitamin tablets, 400 fish oil capsules, and 200 glucosamine tabs. I brought a full bottle of Sam’s Club vitamins (350, I think), the 200-count bottle of fish oil with almost 1000 mg of omega-whatevers, and the remainder of my big bottle of glucosamine. These are fairly big bottles. In Europe, you will not find huge bottles of any medication, and I did not find fish oil with much over 400 gm of the omega oils. I knew I could get these at Boots, though, and decided to settle for those. Sending refills of these in separate shipments would be more expensive, and because of the quantities might not be permitted. By the way, everything should be sent in its original labeled container.
But wait: what if you get sick? What do you use? Most of it is hard to find in Europe, where they customarily use different medicines. You might want to think about:
• Acetominophen (Tylenol): it’s called paracetamol in Europe, and is available only in small quantities (30-60) at a wide variety of prices.

• Ibuprofen (Advil): it’s called ibuprofen or a variation of that, and also available in 30-60 packs at more than you’d expect to pay.

• Decongestant: we use pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) which (in the US) you now have to buy from the pharmacist and give your name, etc. This is to prevent its diversion to the manufacture of meth. In Europe, they don’t sell the pure form, it’s already blended with paracetamol or ibuprofen and usually liquid.

• Antihistamine: they have generic Zyrtec, which goes by a variety of names, and is inexpensive.

• Cough suppressant: There’s no pint bottle of Robitussin like we buy at Costco. I have found tablet dextromethorphine (DM). There are syrups but the taste will not be familiar, to say the least, and the active ingredient is something else. I don’t like to experiment when I’m not feeling well. Bring some DM.

• Expectorant: In the US, this is guiafenesin, which is the main ingredient in Robitussin and Mucinex. Not generally available, although they knew what it was. They offered a tablet equivalent, called ambroxol, which we found just as effective and it’s a much smaller pill.

• Low-dose aspirin: Remarkably, aspirin is a prescription drug a lot of places. There is controversy about whether a daily aspirin is a good idea or not. Bring the 250-count bottle from Costco if your doctor has you on these.

• Melatonin: I’ve seen it, but not with the dosage varieties we have in the US. I’d bring it.

• “Advil PM” or “Tylenol PM”: these sleep aids are either acetaminophen or ibuprofen with Benadryl, whose generic name is diphenhydramine. Not available, although straight diphenhydramine is.

Pharmacies in Europe

On the continent, anything that goes into your body and isn’t food has to be bought at a pharmacy. These vary from tiny to medium, but there is nothing approaching a Walgreens. In cities, there will be at least one pharmacy open at all times, usually on a rotating schedule, and in some countries, like Italy, there will be a sign in the window of the closed pharmacy telling you where the nearest open one is.
In the UK, you will find some OTC meds in larger grocery stores, but any of the ones mentioned above will still need to be bought from a pharmacy. The biggest one is Boots, and they are even in very small villages.
We have always found the pharmacists to be very well qualified. They are permitted to give a little more medical advice than US pharmacists, and some can even prescribe. Almost all spoke enough English, whatever the country. Take the package from whatever you need more of.

Bring your pill-cutter if you have one.