Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Michael Catch Up!

As Debbie wrote a couple of weeks ago, she is passing the Blog Baton to me until she has finished writing our book for Airbnb. It's been a month since we got the green light to proceed with that and ever since she has been writing, writing and then writing some more. My role is "Research Assistant" and "Project Manager" which has kept me busy, too. The book will go to the printer later this summer and be delivered in the fall in time for the 2016 Airbnb Open in Los Angeles in November. In the meantime I will write a few blogs and Debbie will keep our Senior Nomads Facebook page and Instagram accounts updated.

To Market, To Market in Aix-en-Provence!
We haven't stopped traveling so my assignment for today and tomorrow is to catch you up on where we've traveled since leaving you after our Cuba adventures! I'm going to break it up into two posts and cruise at 10,000 ft. So buckle-up as I hit the highlights and bring you up to speed.

Sunshine in Miami - good to be back in the USA for a couple of weeks.
We arrived in Miami at the end of February after three weeks in Cuba and it was a huge cultural shock. We were stuck by the incredible affluence in America and the abundance of all things material. From the grocery stores to the glittering marinas, from the freeways filled with sleek and modern cars to the expensive outfits that everyone seemed to be wearing - the contrast between Miami and Havana could not have been any greater.

Carol and Kent in their lovely home in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Yet, there was no doubt we were happy to be back in the USA. From Miami, we headed west to Santa Fe, New Mexico for most of three weeks to be with our new friends Carol Franco and Kent Lineback who will be helping with our books. It is a city and a state we hadn't visited before. If you have never been to Santa Fe, put it on your list.

By mid-March we were on a plane again, this time heading like homing pigeons back to Paris where we checked-into the same Airbnb we had stayed in last November during the 2015 Airbnb Open. This was the first time we stayed twice in the same Airbnb but we could not resist. Not only is our host, Gaelle wonderful, the flat is in Montmartre just three blocks from Mary and Gregoire's flat which allowed us to see them, and our three grandchildren daily. We even had them most days after school at our place.

Little Jacques learning Backgammon from the Master.

A fun day for Debbie (Mooma) coloring Easter eggs with Coco and Marcel.
Face Painting is a family affair.
Marcel enjoying his first PEEP!
We celebrated Easter in Paris and that meant we could attend Easter Sunday service at Sacre Coeur. It was very beautiful and moving. But before that, Debbie and Mary spent a day dying Easter Eggs with the kids, and planning a really fun Easter Egg hunt for Sunday morning. If Easter and being with family was a happy highlight, the flip-side was the tragic bombing at the Brussels Airport that happened the same week. So sad, and for us it brought back memories of last November when we were in the same Airbnb during the Paris terrorists attacks.

Easter Sunday service at Sacre Coeur
A beautiful Easter morning
Sometimes we are asked if we feel safe in Europe. We can sense the person asking the question would not, but for us, it seems like tragedy and troubles can be found almost anywhere in the world today so we don't let that keep us from the enriching rewards of travel. Or as Rick Steve's says, "Don't be Terrorized!".
Michael playing ladie's man at the Airbnb offices in Paris.
We also had a chance to spend an afternoon at the Airbnb offices in Paris and share our story with the staff. It is always a pleasure to meet the hard working and mostly young people that keep this dynamic organization running so smoothly!

Debbie in heaven at the daily market in Aix-en-Provence.
We enjoyed fresh delights daily.
As March came to a close, we left Paris, via Gare du Lyon where we caught the fast train (TGV) to the south of France and the beautiful city of Aix-en-Provence. We've spent time in the south before but this was our first trip to Aix (Axe) as it is known locally. We ended up with dleightful young couple as our hosts and a lovely Airbnb in the old town just a block from the Cathedral. While we were there we spent a memorable afternoon touring galleries and art museums and a special evening at the theatre where we had tickets to a sold-out performance of the opera Madam Butterfly live from New York City courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera. (We only learned recently from Carol that the Met is broadcast to 2,000 cinemas in 70 countries. Amazing!) Of course, Debbie was at the market every morning and was dazzled by the colors and the bounty of Provence.

Debbie and I with the reporter, our interpreter (cafe owner)  and our host during the interview.
The finished article. It was much larger than we anticipated!
Another highlight in Aix, besides celebrating our 1,000th day as Senior Nomads and just living day to day in this picture-perfect city, was an interview we had with a reporter from the regional newspaper La Provence. Our hosts had contacted the newspaper to see if they were interested in meeting us. Turns out they were, but their reporter did not speak English and our host did not feel her English would stand-up to a one-hour interview so between the two of them, they arranged for us to meet at a cafe where the owners are a French and American couple. Lisa, the wife has lived in France for twenty five years so she joined us for coffee and did the translating.

Next I'll take you to west to Pezenas, France and beyond!

Thanks for following along,

Michael Campbell
One half of the Senior Nomads!


  1. Glad to see you are still traveling and enjoying the airbnb experience. Thank you for taking on the blog, Michael and keeping me up to date! :-)

  2. Beautiful pictures! That Church should be something to marvel at.


  3. Glad you enjoyed Madama Butterfly! I am in the chorus at the Met, and I have the huge pleasure of being one of the Geisha! (My knees don't love it so much, but that's not knees are not a fan of opera in general. Who knew opera singers had to kneel so much?)

    I have been loving following you in your travels, and the south of France is my home away from home, with Aix being a town I really want to get to know better. (do you really pronounce it "Axe"? I've always heard "Ex". I need to pay better attention!) We'll be headed in that direction in a few weeks and I can't wait. Thanks for all the eye-candy in the meantime!

  4. Glad to hear about your travels once again! We just returned from 2 weeks in Europe, staying only in airbnb, inspired by you and the Campbell Amble! (Jenny is my cousin.) it was a GREAT trip and no, we didn't every feel threatened or intimidated in Europe. There was a random shooting her in our hometown of Richmond, VA a few weeks before our trip, in the bus station. A police officer was killed and yes, there can be danger everywhere! We loved Amsterdam, Florence and Paris and hope to return again.