The Journey Begins…

Boy has it been a loooong 72 hours.  One of my primary requirements when we first began discussing the digital nomad lifestyle was renting our house to offset some of our expenses.  It was absolutely the right thing to do, but prepping our house for guests while also readying ourselves for the trip felt like pure insanity…especially since it worked out to be on such a short timeline.

Because of visa problems of their own, our renters didn’t confirm until 2 weeks prior to our departure date.  We started the health certificate process for Silas & Oscar prior to that, just in case, but didn’t make any headway on the house until there was a solid plan.  Bad idea.  I spent almost every ounce of free time since they confirmed on purging, organizing and cleaning.  You know from my posts that we live small, but things really pile up over time, even in less than a thousand square feet!

I don’t know how many trips RF made down to the cellar and out to the garage toting heavy storage bins in the hours before we left.  I made two trips to Goodwill last week, and braved almost every Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, and Home Goods on Seattle’s north end in search of great deals on fresh sheets and towels, and various other items.  All of this on top of trying to be a stellar employee convincing my boss that, “No, this is not a vacation; I will be working!”

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Going somewhere??

We were up packing until 3:30 am the night before our flight, and had to be up at 6:30 am to finish up all of the last-minute odds and ends. I actually felt pretty good about everything, but our cats weighed heavily on my mind.  They had no idea what was coming, and I had no idea how they would handle it.  It was clear to them that something was up, but like the band on the Titanic, they continued to play around our swirl.

I couldn’t rest easy until we were at the gate at SeaTac.  The woman who checked us in made us move one pound from our larger bag into our smaller bag (one pound!) and went over the veterinary paperwork with a fine-tooth comb even though our understanding was that it wouldn’t be required until we arrived.  Fine.  If it passed muster with her, it would with anyone.

We requested a private screening for the cats and were nicely escorted into a small room where we could hold them safely while their bags were checked. Then, we were officially off! Relieved, I could not wait to sleep.

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Peeking.

We tucked the cat carriers under the seats and settled in with headphones and neck pillows for the shut eye we had sacrificed to get to this point. Alas, our flight left at 1:30 pm and the two toddler boys across the aisle were just gearing up.  Their squeals and shrieks rotated from thrilled to furious and back again, over and over for nine hours straight.  Nine! Needless to say, rest was still not on the agenda. I managed a few winks here and there, waking in time to see the sun break over France on Sunday morning. Le sigh.

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Daybreak over France

Directions for navigating Charles de Gaulle were scarce. Did we need to get our bags, proceed to customs, then check them back in? I’ve had to do this; I was prepared. No, just go through security again…with no private pet screening, cats clinging to us as other passengers zipped by? Um, ok. “Thank you, yes, they are cute…no, they do not really want to be petted right now.” Oh, now we wait for border patrol?  But wait, which line?  Is this the EU passport line only?  Is there really only one All Passports agent right now? “Thank you so much for letting us back in this line – that was EU only.” Passports stamped; moving right along.  Ah, lunch.

As we boarded flight number two, we expected to hand over more cat documentation, but it wasn’t requested. Once again, we squeezed carriers under the seats and continued on, getting just a little bit more sleep along the way. We braced ourselves for the meticulous documentation review in Barcelona, then nothing. Paris was it. No customs coming from another EU nation. “But wait, I ran all over our state for this information!  Doesn’t anyone want to review it?”  RF pulled me out the door…

En route to our first apartment, our taxi driver tried to explain to us that we were passing a shopping mall created in a former bull fighting ring. English is not Spanish is not Catalan. We had no idea what he was saying, other than something about bulls.  “Bulls?  Today?”  “Si!”, he nodded with a big grin. No. No, there were not.

Our apartment was a pleasant surprise.  With two large suitcases and cat carriers in tow, the miniscule elevator required two trips.  I worried that our flat would be equally lilliputian; you really never can tell from the photos.  Luckily, it turned out exactly as expected.  Small, but completely functional. Plenty of light, a good table for working, a balcony overlooking a large courtyard.

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Checking out the neighborhood.

The cats were not nearly as impressed. Silas followed us everywhere, calling for response after response. Oscar fled directly into the smallest corner he could find, between the couch and the wall. We were curious about our neighborhood but felt far too horrible to leave them after such a day. It was just as good since we were both a bit delirious from lack of sleep.  We crashed and crashed hard.

Around 10 pm, RF ventured out to the 24-hour market for a few staples. We cobbled together a dinner of deli meat and potato chips. Very glamorous. Very glamorous, indeed!

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Barcelona’s finest cuisine – that’s Coke, not wine. :/

We streamed the Seahawks game and let S&O climb all over us to make sure we were alright. After a few hours, more sleep was the only option. Tomorrow would be our first “real” day.

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