Monday, June 27, 2016

All Caught Up!

We came to the UK to watch the Euro Cup football with English commentary (well sort of) and to be here while the British would be voting to "Remain" or "Leave" the European Union. The morning after the vote, we woke-up at 5am and went downstairs in our small London flat to find out the results. We sat stunned as the BBC, along with every other news station reported the results. We were mezmerized for the entire day as the story unfolded. Like millions of others in the UK, we had gone to bed the night before thinking that “Remain” would prevail so it was a shock to learn that “Leave” won the day.

We woke up to headlines like this one!
I suppose I am getting ahead of myself since our last posting had us leaving Croatia at the end of May packed like sardines on a Ryanair flight headed to Manchester in the north of England. That's where you land if you have friends to visit friend in Northern Wales. And now I am writing from London - So you might be wondering how we happened these past few weeks. Well, here’s the back story.

Voting was simple and the turnout was high. Check a box!
I follow politics and current events as if I were the News Director at CNN International so I knew months ago that the UK would hold an “Up or Down” vote on their membership in the European Union on June 23. Since London is one of our favorite cities, having lived here for 5 years when the kids were young, I suggested to Debbie that we plan our travels so we would be in there for the vote. She enthusiastically agreed. So, back in April we searched for somewhat affordable Airbnb's in Londay and booked a wonderful, very small cottage in a culturally-mixed (mostly Afro-Caribbean) part of south east London called Peckham-Rye. Here's the link:

Me smiling because we found this affordable cottage in the city.
There are 30 little houses lining the walk of this little known neighborhood called Choumert Square.
But before sharing our thoughts about the outcome of the vote, let me catch you up on where we’ve been since the final installment of our time in Croatia. We arrived safely in Manchester three weeks ago and were met by wonderful new friends whom we met for the first time last year on a funky boat cruise in Montenegro. Graham and Wendy invited us to stay at their house in Wrexham, North Wales if ever we came that way. Debbie has always wanted to visit Wales since it is part of her family ancestry so we took them up on the offer.

Our Welsh friends Wendy and Graham.
Graham and I and enjoying the start of the Euro Cup. Debs has Wales in the family pool.
Over the next four days we enjoyed a pub lunch, toured an estate that was a mini version of Highclere Castle (where Downtown Abbey is filmed), had a lovely BBQ, and visited a narrow 300 year old aqueduct that sits ten stories above ground and is popular with barge enthusiasts. Most surprising, was Debbie’s decision to have Graham, who is an engineer by day, trim her hair in the backyard on a sunny afternoon. At least he was precise.

A trim off the back in the back garden.
Before you knew it, it was time to get on another, crammed-to-the-rafters Ryanair flight from nearby Liverpool to Dublin.

Leaving for Dublin from the Liverpool Airport. Not on the Yellow Submarine.
In Dublin, the price of Airbnbs was shockingly high so we decided to share a room in a house rather than rent an entire house like we usually do. We had done this in Andorra two months ago with hosts about our ages and it turned-out to be a wonderful experience where we made two new friends, Monique and Henri. This time, our hosts were super young - so for them it would be more like having your parents over for the weekend. Their place was on the top floor of a downtown Dublin apartment block with a 360 degree view of the city and a huge deck. Take a look: Completely unknown to us when we booked it, our hosts Marta (Spanish), and Roberto (Brazilian) work for Airbnb. We didn’t learn that until after we booked their Airbnb. Here’s another back story!

I think we mentioned in earlier blogs that we have enjoyed visiting Airbnb offices in Portland, the HQ  in San Francisco, and recently in Paris. Each time we’ve been able to speak to the staff and share our exciting journey of living full-time in Airbnbs. They love this, of course! As it turns out, the European headquarters for Airbnb is in Dublin and we had been invited to their offices for a lunch-time gathering to speak to interested staff. I thought it might be a treat for our hosts to join us, so after getting permission from our Dublin contact, I invited Marta and Roberto to join us. I did this via email a week before we arrived and that is when they said they already knew we were coming to the Airbnb office. Because… Surprise, surprise. They both work for Airbnb! They would see us there, and by the way, they were very honored to be hosting the Senior Nomads.

Our first of two casual meetings with the staff at the Dublin Airbnb offices.

The lunch at Airbnb’s beautiful new offices in a restored docklands warehouse just around the corner from Google and Facebook, was just as much fun and equally rewarding as it was when we spoke at the other Airbnb offices.

A few days later, it was time to board the train for Galway, a historic fishing town on Ireland's west coast three hours away by train. It was an an easy, scenic journey with plenty of countryside flashing by and a big table between us to work on. Our Airbnb was wonderful. It was part of a restored grain mill turned “holiday lets” and sat perched over the River Corrib that ran with the tide to the sea just beyond our windows. Debbie enjoyed feeding the baby swans out one window and the baby seagulls out the other.  Link:

The lovely swan family that lived just below our window.
I should have told you that when we were in Wales the week before, we did a phone interview with a reporter for the Irish Independent newspaper, the paper with the largest circulation in Ireland. The full-page story ran a few days after we arrived in Galway. Here's the story. LINK

The story as it appeared in the Irish Independent. Link below.
The next day we heard from a popular radio show on RTE Radio 1 and from a researcher for a nationally broadcast evening talk show on TV 3. Both wanted us to appear on their shows the following week, so three days later we were back on the train headed to Dublin for the day and a quick stay overnight at another Airbnb. First stop was the radio station for a 15 minute chat on The Ray D'Arcy Show and then straight to the TV station for our live interview on The Seven O'Clock Show. Below is a link to segment on the Seven O’Clock Show and the radio interview - both were really fun and we are getting more and more comfortable telling our story on the air.
Debbie and I with the other guests and the hosts of the TV3 show.

Our host Kathleen who was sitting in for Ray D'Arcy. She was a big Seattle fan.
Ray D'Arcy Radio segment

The next morning we had coffee at Airbnb with Aisling Hassell the Head of International Customer Experience - she was happy to hear ours has been a great one! Then back on the train heading west again to pick up where we left off in Galway.

Debbie's desk in our Galway Airbnb - a lovely place to write for a few hours every day.
The night before, we got a surprise phone call from good friends from Seattle, Frank and Susan Finneran who were in Ireland on vacation and happened to hear our radio interview while driving in their rental car. On top of that coincidence, they were staying in Galway just a few blocks from us. I am happy to say we arranged to have dinner with them which was a real treat as we were able to catch-up on Seattle news and mutual friends along with their travels in Ireland. 

A visiting boys choir from Minnesota offered some free entertainment in the church nearby.
Our Galway host Irene was among the very best. Turns out Nancy, her octogenarian mother-in-law, owns the Granary building where we were staying (as well as several others). She popped up to say hello and invite us out for a glass of wine. Once we passed muster, she arranged a luncheon at her home on Wednesday at 2:00 in the afternoon to meet a few of her friends. We accepted not knowing exactly what kind of gathering it would be. When the day came, we were driven to Nancy’s house where we were introduced to a group of senior ladies with wine glasses in hand - all of whom were well-traveled and had seen us on TV and were ready with questions galore on our travels.

Our host's mother-in-law Nancy. She was great fun.
The ladies at the luncheon - a great group with lots of questions.
Our Airbnb host Irene helping serve the delicious salmon luncheon.
After some pre-lunch refreshments in the front room we sat down to lunch around 3 pm for a delicious baked salmon meal with all the trimmings. This was followed by desert, followed by a second desert with coffee/tea. I think it was at least 4:30 when “lunch” ended. We were honored to be invited and the occasion was one of those most special Senior Nomad moments that we will treasure for years to come.

All this while, Debbie has been writing, editing, re-writing and writing some more on our book for Airbnb hosts titled Your Keys. Our Home. She is 80% done with the manuscript. I am her dutiful research assistant, project manager and shoulder masseuse when she is tired of being hunched over her laptop…each of us has our own shoulder issues, mine is "frozen", probably from hauling our bags and my daypack stuffed with laptops and electronics.

The book has been an incredible learning experience for both of us and a joy to work on. We hope to have the manuscript completed and off to our editors by the 4th of July. By then, we will be in Amsterdam and can turn our attention to all the other components of the project like photos, layout, and actual printing!

Great to be back in London - a stop at Buckingham Palace on the way to the Pride Parade.
We have another week here in London before we fly to Amsterdam on Saturday for three weeks in the Netherlands that includes ten days with Mary and the Grandchildren in The Hague in a great family oriented Airbnb near the beach.
Can't wait for a week with these three little ones.
As promised, back to Brexit. As you can imagine the media is continuing to cover the vote 24/7. Many citizens and civic leaders are in shock and sorely disappointed - especially the under 35 crowd. As things become more clear on the ramifications, some who voted to leave may now regret their decision because the "unknowns" vastly outnumber the "knowns" about what’s next. Most articles and broadcasts end with questions about the future of this great country and for now, the answers are in short supply. Scotland citizens voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU so it's possible they will make another attempt to break away from the UK so they can stay in the EU.

Brexit stage right! Mr. Cameron was quick to resign.
Perhaps more unnerving is the realization that the UK may not be able to exit on friendly terms even if that’s what the Leave pundits promised. The other 27 countries have a voice, a big voice and already the word from the Continent is that the leadership is anxious for a “quickie divorce" to show the world and other European nations who may want to try and follow the UK example, that this is not the first domino to fall. But rather that the EU will move forward with the goal of "ever closer" as many in the EU leadership envision.

Safe travels and thanks for following along,

The other half of the Senior Nomads


  1. Excellent, as always. I travel vicariously via your blog. Thanks for "taking" me along. Oh to be healthy, or at least more mobile, again.

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