Our 2014 trip to Europe – Getting there


It starts with saying goodbye…it’s so hard leaving our furry animal family behind.  And they seem to know. They watch you with those big brown eyes, follow the suitcase to your room and wait.

We say our toasts with family and friends, pass out hugs and best wishes and then are off to a foreign land.

It’s at the same time, exciting and sad. Both of which open your heart even more…to those you leave behind, to the adventure of which you are about to partake. To the unknown, to the mystery of life.

This year’s trip to Europe is not just about the ordinary exploration of new places viewed through the eyes of a tourist. No, we are embarking on a trip to see if we find a place that we might like to live for a year. We have never lived out of the States and think we should give it a try. Europe calls to both me and Jed…unfortunately, as of the beginning of this trip, past experience tells us that we each prefer different countries. This will be a trip about figuring out if there is a place that calls to both of us. Of course, we might find that just exploring now and then is enough and that we should just go ahead and move to Hawaii, a place we both love.

The game plan:
Find a town, preferably about the size of our current home town (10k), near a larger city that is home to a good airport/train station from which we’d be able to get to other parts of Europe easily and see new places while we are over here. The beauty of Europe, is once you are over here it is so easy to visit new countries. Flights on cheap airlines, or train tickets, will take you to places like Prague, or Budapest or Ireland or…? Which, otherwise, may take you decades to get around to visiting due to cost/distance, etc.

My wish list would also include:

*Living in a place where they speak French so I can improve my skills. Also, Milo seems to find French easy to pick up and I would love for him to know a second language!

*Beautiful surroundings (kinda goes without saying)

*A sense that the community is open and friendly.

*Great food!

Our strategy this time around became apparent when it dawned on me- we have always had pet/house sitters…why couldn’t we do that? i.e. free places to stay! That, combined with using mileage points to fly over makes this venture a lot more cost effective. And, there is the added bonus of being in a home vs. hotel, and having the opportunity to live like a local, care for animals, a home, etc and not just be in a place all dreamy-vacation eyed. As far as Milo is concerned, one of the best parts of this trip is the fact that he will get to watch animals!

So, that’s the gist. I hope you enjoy coming along on our little venture and thanks for all the wonderful support and love!

Saying goodbye…

Sweet Harry-

Taking the ferry on our way to the Seattle airport…

Waiting for flight in the Star Alliance Business/First class lounge in Seatac…took some pics as we want to keep track for milesgeek.com. Jed and his mom started this site a few months back.  It was born out of the idea of talking about the best way to get and use air miles and sharing traveling tips.

Thanks to those award miles we were in business class on Lufthansa. Unfortunately, we were not on the new plane…but really? Who’s complaining…seats that fold out flat, Haagen-Dazs, movies and wine…

Waiting in Frankfurt for our connecting flight to Paris, we partook in the use of the Business/First class lounge…nice perk…

Frankfurt Airplane

Next Post – Montmartre, Paris

Hollin Stafford
Hollin Stafford

Hollin is originally from California. After obtaining a degree in Sociology she worked as a flight attendant for United Airlines so that she could combine her work with something she’s always loved, travel. Later she found herself in Seattle, WA where she met her husband and went to work in the real estate field.

She moved with her family from Port Townsend, WA to Sintra, Portugal in 2016. They said they’d try it out for a year and never left! Leveraging her U.S. real estate background and the insights she’s gained over the years into Portuguese life, she works with the Brightman Group, guiding international buyers and connecting sellers. She loves her work and finds delight in helping people find their ‘spot’ in the world.

Hollin's passions also include spending quality time with family and friends, seeking out excellent food and writing. She writes in a variety of genres, from YA, to literary short stories, non-fiction and engaging travel pieces. Her current focus is on writing a memoir about what brought her family to Portugal. The first excerpt will be published soon at The Portugal News. Hollin has garnered acclaim for her remarkable storytelling skills, praised by critics for her ability to authentically capture the essence of the human experience with warmth and depth.

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