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Staycations or Be a Local Tourist

Barb here. 

EW and I were permanent tourists, traveling from island to harbor and harbor to island from 2010 to 2015. We were great at being tourists. Some days we planned an adventure, on others we just set out to see what would happen, with the agreement that if one of us was interested in a place we would check it out.

More…

Children’s Science Museum in the city of Angra in the Azores? Why not? When we heard that the island of Tenerife in the Canaries actually had a train (OK a Tram, really) we took it up to a Unesco World Heritage City, San Cristóbal de La Laguna where a couple with an awesome yellow lab led us to a food court for lunch. There, we shared a table with teachers from a high school sailing ship. When we cruise, we tourist. 

Be a Tourist at Home

The trick is to tourist when we’re not cruising. When we were working in St. Thomas, or in Panama doing major boat repair for 6 weeks, or here in St. Augustine working a job (me) and working on the boat (mostly EW)—we more often visit with other cruisers on shore or at a cruisers’ pub and forget to take time to play. Instead, we work, we fix, and we plan our next adventure and all we’ll see and do along the way—in the future when we’re tourists again

In Maine, I’ve visited every county and have seen many of the state’s largest and smallest attractions. Still, there are a few I’ve missed that I have on my list for the next long visit and a few others I regret not doing.  So, EW and I have put together a short list of things we’d like to do before taking off for the next cruise. After all, we’re living in a town that steadily promotes itself as a premier tourist area and it would be silly not to take advantage of at least some of the better attractions.

Be a Tourist in St. Augustine

For us, the best involve the local music scene (in fact, it’s sometimes difficult to get EW to focus on things other than fixing the boat and music. And then I get complacent. So here are things we’ve done and recommend, and things we both want to do before we leave: First Friday Art Walk, St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum, Fountain of Youth, Flagler College Tour, the Saturday market at the St. Augustine Amphitheater, and bird nesting season at the Alligator Farm in the spring (seriously, that’s a thing). And of course, when the Heels Diva gets here in December, we’ll be visiting the Downton Abby Costume exhibit at Lightner Museum.

Oh, and when you go to Portland, Maine make sure you visit the Portland Observatory on Munjoy Hill—totally worth it.

Lynnelle here.

Unlike most of us “normal” gals, Barb’s home is wherever her boat La Luna is, even though La Luna has kept her in one place for 2 years. I love hearing about Barb’s travels and the sites she and EW have visited. I also love to travel and see interesting sites myself. For me, and others living a more traditional lifestyle, however, travel (other than business) is an accessory and not the foundation of our lifestyle.

I moved to the Austin area just a few months ago, yet have been here a bazillion times over the years. It feels like I’ve lived here most of my life already.  A couple of months ago, two very dear friends came to visit. Amy and Jennifer were my stepdaughters at one point in history. They’re both grown with their own children and have remained in my life, now as dear friends. When I knew they were coming to visit, I realized I didn’t know that much about Austin after all.

What to do with only 48 hours in Austin? Arriving late on Thursday and departing at Oh-Dark-Thirty in the morning, Sunday.  Criteria – 1. We had to have time to visit and catch up. 2. None of us are spring chickens anymore and aren’t interested in the wild 6th Street, after Midnight crowd (except Jenn, but she tamed down for us – thanks, Jenn.) 3. We wanted to have FUN and see Austin and see where I had moved (Elgin, Bastrop County).   Here’s what we did:

48 Hours in Austin Area

Friday morning – Tour Downtown Elgin. Yes, there is one. Purchase homemade goat jerky and handmade cowboy hat the custom style and crown steamed in while we waited. (Can’t remember if Amy got the Cattleman or the Diamond style…)

Friday evening – Dinner, Bats on the Congress St. Bridge, Esther’s Follies at 10:00, & a quick walk down Dirty 6th Street before heading home (and thanking my lucky stars I’m not a 20 something trying to have a great time on 6th Street)

Saturday morningSegway tour of Austin. I LOVED THIS!! It is so NOT what I’d have done on my own, but SOOOOO much fun.  (Even thought it was ONE HUNDRED SIX degrees that day…Yep.)

Saturday afternoon/evening – After, a late lunch / early happy-hour & snacks at The Hula Hut overlooking Lake Austin – chat, chat, chat, chat…

The Hu La La (yum)

Saturday night – Hanging at home, leftovers, more cocktails, packing for the morning, pictures and more laughing and chatting.   

Tour Local – Guests or Not

 Guests are a good incentive to get off your butt and get out there. But, why is it we rarely do “tourist” without company??

NOT waiting for visitors or vacation is my new goal. Be a local tourist and explore home. 

So make us jealous. Tell us about your city or small town and what we need to do whenever we visit. Don’t know? Perhaps it’s time to play tourist in your home town.

2

The Azores versus The City of Light

Barb is the Azores

And the top 5 reasons we love these places. 

Lynnelle is Paris

Barb here:

Writing about travel is a bit problematic for me as I need more help than I can give (hotels, flights, VRBO vs Air B&B)—unless we’re talking about sailing. Sure, I’ve flown and stayed in hotels (see the rant about bathroom mirrors) but most of our significant travel has been via sailboat. We only fly home and back, don’t rent any housing on shore, and eat out less frequently than hotel travelers. 

But I can tell you a whole heck of a lot about some of the places we’ve visited and the travel category I call “Adventure Travel for those Over 60”.  So far, my favorite destination of all time is the Azores—9 tiny islands 1000 miles west of Europe—a part of Portugal sort of like the USVI is part of the United States. In 2014 we visited 7 of the 9 islands. (Clearly we have to go back.)

More…

Five Reasons I Love the Azores

1. They are remote, but accessible.

You can actually get there fairly easily by air. They were never inhabited until discovered by Portuguese Sailors. Only one of the nine has a large cruise ship port (San Miguel—also the only one with a Burger King), there are no giant resorts, and when you rent a car you often don’t have the roadway to get it into 5th gear. This means that those who visit are not your normal tourist, and that makes all the difference.

2. The Azoreans are lovely people.

Mostly of Portuguese and Flemish descent, the Azores are warm, friendly, and very proud of their islands. (Also none goes grey. There were more 80-year-olds with black hair than I’d ever seen. Also a lot of beauty parlors. This is not a coincidence.) English is spoken by enough folks to help you with what you need, but learning a few words of Portuguese will reap huge rewards—especially if you use the dialect of Portugal and not of Brazil. Never use Spanish!

3. The islands are some of the most beautiful places we’ve visited.

Tall green mountains, sharp cliffs, incredible fajas (tiny little landfalls upon which they built towns just feet above the sea), pastures, rivers of hydrangeas, colorful villages, and old cities on the UNESCO World Heritage List. 

4. They are one of the best locations for adventure travelers.

Sailing, diving, whale-watching, hiking, spelunking, climbing, geological tours, horse-back rides, vineyards and other agriculture—if you would rather do and learn than sit on a beach drinking cocktails (not that there is anything wrong with that), then the Azores offer all that and more. Plus a few beaches, more natural pools formed by lava flows, nightclubs, sidewalk cafes, and more.  Every island tourist office provides full-color maps of the hikes on that island, complete with elevations, degree of difficulty and photos. 

5. They offer rich cultural opportunities.

We attended the 35th year of an international folk dance festival on the island of Terceira.  We listened to live classical, folk, and choral concerts in San Miguel. We just missed the annual Blues Festival in Santa Maria. Every island offers free entertainment throughout the summer.

We spent five hours in the art gallery in Terceira; we toured numerous historic and geological sites on every island, and even created our own photographic collection of street art. 

Bonus: Ties to US and Canada. The Portuguese have immigrated to America for hundreds of years. Moreover, after a horrendous earthquake in the 1960’s, the then dictator of Portugal allowed Azoreans to emigrate and the US and Canada welcomed thousands of them. 

These are the Portuguese fishermen of New England the milk farmers of California, and more. That is largely why so many on the islands speak English: they have cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and siblings who live on this side of the Atlantic

Lynnelle here:

Writing about travel now is difficult for me, as it is for Barb, but for different reasons. First, until a month ago, 99% of my travel was for business and consisted of DAL-HOU; DAL-AUS; DAL-SAT; DAL-OKC—you get the idea. Who wants to read about THOSE trips? Not me. Here are just a few of the exciting FB posts from my prior world of travel. Exciting. 

Now that I’m building a blogging empire, I hope to have more flexibility in where I do that blogging and therefore, where my travels can take me. THEN I’ll have some good travel stories to write about. Soon, I hope.

Until then, and likely even long after that – Paris is and will likely always be my favorite place on earth. I AM Paris. Why? Why does anyone love a specific place? Whether I list 5 things or 500 things about Paris, the real reason I love Paris is the way I feel when I’m there; the way I feel when I think about being there. 

When I’m in Paris I feel classier, smarter, prettier, more cultured. When I’m in Paris I turn into Audrey Hepburn. At least, I feel like I do. 

Five Reasons I Love Paris

1. The importance of quality and beauty in the French culure

(And I’m not talking physical beauty. We’ll have makeup, hair and beauty discussions later.) Everyday life is lived with quality and beauty being an important component.

  • A small vase of fresh cut flowers on the dressing table – every day – just because; 
  • The street cleaners and sanitation workers diligently keeping the city of light clean, their bright green uniforms and equipment as clean at the end of the shift as at the beginning. Not sure how they do it, but it’s true.
  • The hundreds of florists – not big fancy corporate florists, the small Mom-Pop, corner-store florists that flourish in the city. The designs, the staging, the arrangements could easily pass as Hollywood sets and individual works of art rather than a simple florist and bouquets. Really. Yes.

These are just a few examples. There are many more. The way of life in France is not about being the fastest, the cheapest, nor the most expensive. Life in France is about the best; living your best and most beautiful life.

2. French Cuisine

Trying to describe somehing like this is like trying to describe the color blue to someone who is color blind. Second qualifier: Paris, like any other place, has bad restaurants—I just haven’t been to one. Third & final qualifier: The American way has certainly invaded Paris, just as it has in most major metropolitan/business areas where fast food caters to time-starved workers trying to grab a bite between meetings. But in Paris, and the whole of France, it’s not the norm.

In France, the cuisine —dining—is a valued tradition, a mentality much more than it is food. It doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive, nor served by a rude waiter in a tux. Dishes are prepared with fresh, quality ingredients, experience and appreciation for time-honored traditions (think steak au poivre, Crepes Suzette or cassoulet). 

Furthermore, when the French plan a meal the ingredients and technique are only the first 2 considerations as they think the style and the experience of sitting down with good friends to enjoy each course are key parts of planning and preparing the meal.

One of my favorite meals of all time (costing under 60 Euro for 2, including copious amounts of wine & Calvados) was at Restaurant Perraudin in the 5th arr, not far from the Pantheon. No, it’s not a Michelin anything. No, if you’re talking about “the food” only, you might call it ‘good’. But as an evening and as a meal, it was memorable.

3. Parisian Cafes. Cafe Life

It’s a ‘thing’. It’s a culture; or, at least it was. The Paris cafe is not a coffee shop, as we know here in America, but they of course serve coffee. It’s not a restaurant, either, although the Parisian cafes do have full kitchens. Much like the cuisine, the cafe and French cafe life if a culture, although one that is slowly disappearing. 

The reasons I love the cafe life in Paris is first, the history and second, the ability to sit, think, watch, just BE in Paris. I think BEING in Paris is my favorite thing to do.

The Parisian Cafes that one thinks of when you think of Paris in the Golden Era, are primarily tourist destinations, now, and owned by big corporations. Still cool places to visit, if not for the social experience, for the history.  

Lynnelle’s Cafe Life in Paris

In the less trendy, less touristy areas you’ll still find the typical Parisian cafes that serve as a neighborhood hub, social networking spot, gathering place for artists and writers—a place where folks sit for a couple of hours (or more) watching life go by (or drawing, painting, and writing about that life going by).

4. Art is everywhere in Paris

Where do you start? Yes, the Louvre. Yes, the Muse d’Orsay. Yes, Yes, Yes. That all goes without saying. But the city itself, everywhere you look there is art. The Metro entrances, the statue in the park (the park itself for that matter), the streets and buildings themselves. You are immersed in an art history lesson when you are just walking down the street. And it’s beautiful art.

5. The Medici Fountain

For an American in love with Paris, experiencing #s 1-4 above non-stop for a solid month can be a major overload on your senses, your emotions. Seriously. I thought I would implode after the first week and a half of a 1-month stay in Paris. The constant state of hyper-awareness about crashed me. I found the Medici Fountain on a walk through Luxembourg Gardens and fell in love. It’s in the North-East corner of the Garden du Luxembourg (6th arr). The whole of Luxembourg Garden is large and much of the area is open. The Medici Fountain area is heavily treed, shaded and tucked off to the side. Created by Catherine de Medici to bring a little of her Italian home to her “back yard” in Paris, there is a beautiful reflecting pool in front of statues and surrounded by a trellised fence and tons of vegetation. On a rainy day it is magical.

I can go on and on and on… This post is already waaaay longer than we’d intended so I’ll stop here. If you want to know more or have questions, just comment here or shoot me a note! You can believe there will be more posts about France and about Paris from me. There’s just so much more to say!

The Medici Fountain.  For an American in love with Paris, experiencing #s 1-4 above non-stop for a solid month can be a major overload on your senses, your emotions. Seriously. I thought I would implode after the first week and a half of a 1-month stay in Paris. The constant state of hyper-awareness about crashed me. I found the Medici Fountain on a walk through Luxembourg Park and fell in love. It’s in the North-East corner of the Garden du Luxembourg (6th arr). The whole of Luxembourg Garden is very large and much of the area is open. The Medici Fountain area is heavily treed, shaded and tucked off to the side. Created by Catherine de Medici to bring a little of her Italian home style to her “back yard” in Paris, there is a beautiful reflecting pool in front of statues and surrounded by a trellised fence and tons of vegetation. On a rainy day it is magical.

I can go on and on and on… This post is already waaaay longer than we’d intended so I’ll stop here. If you want to know more or have questions, just comment here or shoot me a note! You can believe there will be more posts about France and about Paris from me. There’s just so much more to say!

The Art. Where do you start? Yes, the Louvre. Yes, the Muse d’Orsay. Yes, Yes, Yes. That all goes without saying. But the city itself, everywhere you look there is art. The Metro entrances, the statue in the park (the park itself for that matter), the streets and buildings themselves. You are immersed in an art history lesson when you are just walking down the And it’s beautiful art.

  1. The Cafes. Cafe life. It’s a ‘thing’. It’s a culture; or, at least it was. The Paris cafe is not a coffee shop, as we know here in America, but they of course serve coffee. It’s not a restaurant, either, although the Parisian cafes do have full kitchens. Much like the cuisine, the cafe and French cafe life if a culture, although one that is slowly disappearing. 

The reasons I love the cafe life in Paris is first, the history and second, the ability to sit, think, watch, just BE in Paris. I think BEING in Paris is my favorite thing to do.

The Parisian Cafes that one thinks of when you think of Paris in the Golden Era, are primarily tourist destinations, now, and owned by big corporations. Still cool places to visit, if not for the social experience, for the history.  

In the less trendy, less touristy areas you’ll still find the typical Parisian cafes that serve as a neighborhood hub, social networking spot, gathering place for artists and writers—a place where folks sit for a couple of hours (or more) watching life go by (or drawing, painting, and writing about that life going by).

  1. The Cuisine. Trying to describe something like this is like trying to describe the color blue to someone who is color blind. Second qualifier: Paris, like any other place, has bad restaurants—I just haven’t been to one. Third & final qualifier: The American way has certainly invaded Paris, just as it has in most major metropolitan/business areas where fast food caters to time-starved workers trying to grab a bite between meetings. But in Paris, and the whole of France, it’s not the norm.

In France, the cuisine —dining—is a valued tradition, a mentality much more than it is food. It doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive, nor served by a rude waiter in a tux. Dishes are prepared with fresh, quality ingredients, experience and appreciation for time-honored traditions (think steak au poivre, Crepes Suzette or cassoulet). Furthermore, when the French plan a meal the ingredients and technique are only the first 2 considerations as they think the style and the experience of sitting down with good friends to enjoy each course are key parts of planning and preparing the meal.

One of my favorite meals of all time (costing under 60 Euro for 2, including copious amounts of wine & Calvados) was at Restaurant Perraudin in the 5th arr, not far from the Pantheon. No, it’s not a Michelin anything. No, if you’re talking about “the food” only, you might call it ‘good’. But as an evening and as a meal, it was memorable.

Restaurant Perraudin; a small, family-owned, “run-of-the-mill” neighborhood restaurant you see all over Paris. The tables at Restaurant Perraudin are small, wooden tables, set simply and closely together.  Even though you’re sitting side by side with other diners, you don’t notice the closeness as they are enjoying their meal with their partner and aren’t noticing you either. (Crazy American antics aside – let’s hope they’re not noticing you, either.)  Standout memory—Onion Soup. I guess calling it French Onion Soup would have been redundant. 

She’s Paris and I’m the Azores. The Top Five Reasons We Love Those Places

Barb Here

Writing about travel is a bit problematic for me as I need more help than I can give (hotels, flights, VRBO vs Air B&B)—unless we’re talking about sailing. Sure, I’ve flown and stayed in hotels (see the rant about bathroom mirrors) but most of our significant travel has been via sailboat. We only fly home and back, don’t rent any housing on shore, and eat out less frequently than hotel travelers. 

But I can tell you a whole heck of a lot about some of the places we’ve visited and the travel category I call “Adventure Travel for those Over 60”.  So far, my favorite destination of all time is the Azores—9 tiny islands 1000 miles west of Europe—a part of Portugal sort of like the USVI is part of the United States. In 2014 we visited 7 of the 9 islands. (Clearly we have to go back.)

Five Reasons I Love the Azores

1. They are remote, but accessible. (You can actually get there fairly easily by air.) They were never inhabited until discovered by Portuguese Sailors. Only one of the nine has a large cruise ship port (San Miguel—also the only one with a Burger King), there are no giant resorts, and when you rent a car you often don’t have the roadway to get it into 5th gear. This means that those who visit are not your normal tourist, and that makes all the difference.

2. The Azoreans, mostly of Portuguese and Flemish descent are lovely people. Warm, friendly, and very proud of their islands. (Also none goes grey. There were more 80-year-olds with black hair than I’d ever seen. Also a lot of beauty parlors. This is not a coincidence.) English is spoken by enough folks to help you with what you need, but learning a few words of Portuguese will reap huge rewards—especially if you use the dialect of Portugal and not of Brazil. Never use Spanish!

3. The islands are some of the most beautiful places we’ve visited.  Tall green mountains, sharp cliffs, incredible fajas (tiny little landfalls upon which they built towns just feet above the sea), pastures, rivers of hydrangeas, colorful villages, and old cities on the UNESCO World Heritage List. 

4. They are one of the best locations for adventure travelers. Sailing, diving, whale-watching, hiking, spelunking, climbing, geological tours, horse-back rides, vineyards and other agriculture—if you would rather do and learn than sit on a beach drinking cocktails (not that there is anything wrong with that), then the Azores offer all that and more. Plus a few beaches, more natural pools formed by lava flows, nightclubs, sidewalk cafes, and more.  Every island tourist office provides full-color maps of the hikes on that island, complete with elevations, degree of difficulty and photos. 

5. They offer rich cultural opportunities. We attended the 35th year of an international folk dance festival on the island of Terceira.  We listened to live classical, folk, and choral concerts in San Miguel. We just missed the annual Blues Festival in Santa Maria. Every island offers free entertainment throughout the summer. We spent five hours in the art gallery in Terceira; we toured numerous historic and geological sites on every island, and even created our own photographic collection of street art. 

Bonus: Ties to US and Canada. The Portuguese have immigrated to America for hundreds of years. Moreover, after a horrendous earthquake in the 1960’s, the then dictator of Portugal allowed Azoreans to emigrate and the US and Canada welcomed thousands of them. These are the Portuguese fishermen of New England the milk farmers of California, and more. That is largely why so many on the islands speak English: they have cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and siblings who live on this side of the Atlantic. 

Lynnelle here:

Writing about travel now is difficult for me, as it is for Barb, but for different reasons. First, until a month ago, 99% of my travel was for business and consisted of DAL-HOU; DAL-AUS; DAL-SAT; DAL-OKC—you get the idea. Who wants to read about THOSE trips? Here are the exciting FB posts I would make now and then to share the love of travel. 

Now that I’m building a blogging empire, I hope to have more flexibility in where I do that blogging and therefore, where my travels can take me. THEN I’ll have some good travel stories to write about. Soon, I hope.

 Until then, and likely even long after that – Paris is and will likely always be my favorite place on earth. I AM Paris. Why? Why does anyone love a specific place? Whether I list 5 things or 500 things about Paris, the real reason I love Paris is the way I feel when I’m there; the way I feel when I think about being there. 

When I’m in Paris I feel classier, smarter, prettier, more cultured. When I’m in Paris I turn into Audrey Hepburn. At least, I feel like I do. You ask, what are the things about Paris that make me feel classier, smarter, prettier, more cultured? Here are 5:

  1. The importance the French, as a culture, place on quality and beauty. (And I’m not talking physical beauty. We’ll have makeup, hair and beauty discussions later.) Everyday life is lived with quality and beauty being an important component.
  • A small vase of fresh cut flowers on the dressing table – every day – just because; 
  • The street cleaners and sanitation workers diligently keeping the city of light clean, their bright green uniforms and equipment as clean at the end of the shift as at the beginning. Not sure how they do it, but it’s true.
  • The hundreds of florists – not big fancy corporate florists, the small Mom-Pop, corner-store florists that flourish in the city. The designs, the staging, the arrangements could easily pass as Hollywood sets and individual works of art rather than a simple florist and bouquets. Really. Yes. 

These are just a few examples. There are many more. The way of life in France is not about being the fastest, the cheapest, nor the most expensive. Life in France is about the best; living your best and most beautiful life.

  1. The Cuisine. Trying to describe something like this is like trying to describe the color blue to someone who is color blind. Second qualifier: Paris, like any other place, has bad restaurants—I just haven’t been to one. Third & final qualifier: The American way has certainly invaded Paris, just as it has in most major metropolitan/business areas where fast food caters to time-starved workers trying to grab a bite between meetings. But in Paris, and the whole of France, it’s not the norm.

In France, the cuisine —dining—is a valued tradition, a mentality much more than it is food. It doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive, nor served by a rude waiter in a tux. Dishes are prepared with fresh, quality ingredients, experience and appreciation for time-honored traditions (think steak au poivre, Crepes Suzette or cassoulet). Furthermore, when the French plan a meal the ingredients and technique are only the first 2 considerations as they think the style and the experience of sitting down with good friends to enjoy each course are key parts of planning and preparing the meal.

One of my favorite meals of all time (costing under 60 Euro for 2, including copious amounts of wine & Calvados) was at Restaurant Perraudin in the 5th arr, not far from the Pantheon. No, it’s not a Michelin anything. No, if you’re talking about “the food” only, you might call it ‘good’. But as an evening and as a meal, it was memorable.

Restaurant Perraudin; a small, family-owned, “run-of-the-mill” neighborhood restaurant you see all over Paris. The tables at Restaurant Perraudin are small, wooden tables, set simply and closely together.  Even though you’re sitting side by side with other diners, you don’t notice the closeness as they are enjoying their meal with their partner and aren’t noticing you either. (Crazy American antics aside – let’s hope they’re not noticing you, either.)  Standout memory—Onion Soup. I guess calling it French Onion Soup would have been redundant. 

  1. The Cafes. Cafe life. It’s a ‘thing’. It’s a culture; or, at least it was. The Paris cafe is not a coffee shop, as we know here in America, but they of course serve coffee. It’s not a restaurant, either, although the Parisian cafes do have full kitchens. Much like the cuisine, the cafe and French cafe life if a culture, although one that is slowly disappearing. 

The reasons I love the cafe life in Paris is first, the history and second, the ability to sit, think, watch, just BE in Paris. I think BEING in Paris is my favorite thing to do.

The Parisian Cafes that one thinks of when you think of Paris in the Golden Era, are primarily tourist destinations, now, and owned by big corporations. Still cool places to visit, if not for the social experience, for the history.  

In the less trendy, less touristy areas you’ll still find the typical Parisian cafes that serve as a neighborhood hub, social networking spot, gathering place for artists and writers—a place where folks sit for a couple of hours (or more) watching life go by (or drawing, painting, and writing about that life going by).

  1. The Art. Where do you start? Yes, the Louvre. Yes, the Muse d’Orsay. Yes, Yes, Yes. That all goes without saying. But the city itself, everywhere you look there is art. The Metro entrances, the statue in the park (the park itself for that matter), the streets and buildings themselves. You are immersed in an art history lesson when you are just walking down the And it’s beautiful art.

5.  The Medici Fountain.  For an American in love with Paris, experiencing #s 1-4 above non-stop for a solid month can be a major overload on your senses, your emotions. Seriously. I thought I would implode after the first week and a half of a 1-month stay in Paris. The constant state of hyper-awareness about crashed me. I found the Medici Fountain on a walk through Luxembourg Park and fell in love. It’s in the North-East corner of the Garden du Luxembourg (6th arr). The whole of Luxembourg Garden is very large and much of the area is open. The Medici Fountain area is heavily treed, shaded and tucked off to the side. Created by Catherine de Medici to bring a little of her Italian home style to her “back yard” in Paris, there is a beautiful reflecting pool in front of statues and surrounded by a trellised fence and tons of vegetation. On a rainy day it is magical.

I can go on and on and on… This post is already waaaay longer than we’d intended so I’ll stop here. If you want to know more or have questions, just comment here or shoot me a note! You can believe there will be more posts about France and about Paris from me. There’s just so much more to say!

2

What’s a DEVA

Barb Here:

Lynnelle and I met a few years after EW and I had moved aboard the boat; just before her divorce. She is the only deep and lasting non-boating friend I’ve made since moving aboard. New land-dwellers we meet seem to find people who live aboard “interesting”, maybe “fun”, but mainly “different”.

But not Lynnelle! Evidently, in Texas if you want to talk to your girlfriend you put on your high-heeled boots and get yourself on over to her home—and it just doesn’t matter if your friend’s front “walk” is a 100-foot dock.

More…

I loved that!

Lynnelle is nothing like me and I am nothing like Lynnelle. Well, we’re both women over 60.  Actually we are exactly 60. More importantly, we both have a great sense of humor and can laugh at ourselves and each other. We both like dogs. We both prefer to be self-employed. We both can be a bit sharp-tongued. But that’s pretty much it.

Here’s how we compare: 

  • Tall, large boned
  • Puts on weight easily
  • Attractive
  • Not fashion conscious (AT ALL)
  • Married 32 years
  • Lives on a boat
  • Loves sailing to unfamiliar harbors in numerous countries
  • Oh, and has worn Tevas nearly daily for over 8 years.  Lynnelle understands.

  • Petite to medium
  • Nicely curvy
  • Beautiful
  • Loves Chanel & Hermes
  • Divorced
  • Land dweller and property owner
  • Loves exploring Europe, particularly France – ESPECIALLY Paris
  • Oh, and has many pairs of high heeled shoes and boots. Her high heels are banned from Barb’s boat. Lynnelle understands.

When Lynnelle came up with the obviously brilliant idea of combining our talents and wit to create a blog for women over 60, we knew that our union would have three strengths: Our similarities, our differences, and our friends-for-life status that thrives despite those differences (and the occasional disagreement).

Heels and Tevas is  not be a fashion blog—in part because even Lynnelle would find that boring—but our styles will certainly be part of the story as will our friendship and our differences. From wild idea, we immediately moved to naming the blog. What title could convey our affinity despite our diverse goals, desires, and closets?

Footwear!

Heels        and       Tevas

Once we latched on to “Heels and Tevas”, nothing else would do. Lynnelle wears heels (not every day; well not at home or in a casual setting; well mostly not when at home or in a casual setting; well …she has sneakers and I’ve seen her wear them. Really.), and I wear Tevas (not when going to a business meeting; well most business meetings; I have wedge sandal with one-inch heels and that’s tall enough).

Lynnelle Here

After Barb shouted out “Heels and Tevas!” we started riffing on the concept. The Diva discussion ensued and Barb claimed the title, Teva Diva. Guess what, by default, ended up being my title…

But was it d-I-va or d-E-va? 

So, I looked up the “D-word” and sent Barb the following note.

Jane Russell - Diva

DIVA

Diva: a bitchy woman who must have her way exactly, or no way at all.

-or, more preferably…

Diva: a celebrated female singer; a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera, and by extension in theatre, cinema and popular music. (We can add blogging to that definition and we’re good to go.)

DEVA

I also found this:

Deva: means “heavenly, divine, anything of excellence”, and is also one of the terms for a deity in Hinduism.

I don’t think we could pull off Deva…Let’s be sure to spell Diva with an ‘i’; not an ‘e’.

So, welcome to Heels and Tevas, two Divas (with an “i”) and friends who DO love to get our way, but also strive to be honest, humorous, are rarely bitchy, and even more rarely – heavenly.

Heels spirit and Tevas soul

Be a Diva.

Join the Tribe.

Wear the footwear of your choice.

3

Mirror Mirror on the Hotel Bathroom Wall

Barb here.

Having recently flown to Dallas and stayed in a hotel in order to help Lynnelle celebrate turning 60, I was reminded once again about my biggest hotel pet peeve: Mirrors.

First, the magnified make-up mirror was not well lit. As a woman of 60, I need both magnification and light if I want my eyebrows to be even. Second, and more of an issue, the placement of the full length mirror is always on the inside of the bathroom door.

Why is that?

More…

If there are two people in a room getting ready for an event, one is getting dressed while the other is in the bathroom doing –whatever. The getting dressed person needs the full length mirror while the person in the bathroom does not.  Ever.

BIGGEST Pet Peeve:

…the full length mirror is facing the toilet.

Not what you want to watch

“No one ever needs to watch themselves take a s#*t!” I told Lynnelle, after having done just that.  She laughed and replied,

“At least you pooped today.”

Oh, God. I can’t believe she said that…  but again; I guess I can. Sixty is like that. (Yeah, it is.)

But we can still travel, have fun, and look great—providing we have a magnifying mirror and good lighting and I don’t why the hotel designers make it so difficult. According to a 2016 article in the Boston Globe Weekender,

“Nearly two-thirds of travelers today are women, reports the George Washington University School of Business. Women also comprise 54 percent of coveted affluent travelers with annual incomes of $250,000 or more, up from 42 percent in 2010, according to the travel and hospitality marketing firm MMGY Global.”

Hello! We travel and we have needs.

Lynnelle here.

I can’t say that most full-length mirrors in hotel rooms face the toilet. Thank God. But, that’s the least of my gripes about hotel bathrooms—although watching yourself, or anyone for that matter, take a sh*t is not anything I want to think about, but now am.

Thanks, Barb.

My biggest hotel room pet peeve has to be the bathroom lighting – or the lack thereof. How can any woman, 60 or 20, put on makeup in a dimly lit bathroom? I’m winding up a job for which I did a ton traveling. The bathrooms that came with my employer’s “approved” hotels did not normally come with makeup worthy lighting. My grand prize winner for horrible bathroom lighting is the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Houston, Texas—which is a shame given it is right around the corner from my soon-to-be-former employer. But while the Houston Hyatt is the worst, most were pretty bad.

Bad Hotel Bathroom Lighting

This picture is not of the Hyatt, but of the Hilton Garden Inn in nearby Woodlands. I’ve stayed there, as well, and this picture is very representative of the bathroom lighting I’ve found in most ‘approved’ hotels. Seriously? In person it’s not nearly as “bright” as this picture appears and – the yellow tint gives you a nice jaundice glow…  Just ‘great’ for makeup lighting, especially us mature women trying to pinked up our less-than-rosey cheeks.

Hilton Garden Inn – The Woodlands, TX Courtesy of Priceline.com

Barb, you’re worried about the magnifying mirror lighting. In a bathroom like this, I’m not sure any lighted mirror would help us color in the blank spots of our brows in this bathroom lighting. (Thank you Priceline for the photo example of bad bathroom lighting.)

My eyebrow-saving (and other makeup) solution to bad hotel bathroom lighting? 

lighted travel mirror

Lighted travel mirror

​The miracle apparatus  

I love this!

The small, lighted travel mirror fits in one hand, doesn’t distort and has a 10x magnification mirror in addition to the normal mirror. The light, while not brilliantly blinding, is bright enough – and the magnification high enough to see the eyebrow’s bald spots (an all the other things you’d like not to see). It folds up and is very easy to throw in the makeup kit and doesn’t cost a fortune. Mine was under $20 on Amazon.

lighted travel mirror

Lighted travel mirror – both sides light up together or independently. Very cool.

There are other styles of mirrors—some larger, some brighter, and many more expensive. With this one, I won’t feel too awful if I leave it behind in a room—which I’m sure will happen at some point. 

You know, even though I’m not traveling much for work these days, it still pisses me off that big hotel chains, claiming to cater to women travelers — are clueless and clearly didn’t design – at least the bathrooms – their facilities with women travelers in mind. We don’t need frills and dainties. All we need is a safe, clean place with decent lighting. (Barb says don’t forget a magnifying mirror – and no mirror facing the toilet!) Oh, and room service.

More and more, these ‘business-approved’ hotels are being remodeled—but, still, not many seem to be remodeling with traveling women in mind.  I bet most of the designers themselves were men.  I’d be shocked if they even asked women travelers what they thought. Idiots. As more and more hotels embark on renovations, the smart ones will give importance to what women travelers need.

That. Is. All.

* FYI, The travel mirror links are affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of them and actually buy something, Heals and Tevas will get a % commission. You can see our Disclosure and legal stuff for more details or let us know if you have any questions.

Life’s Lists, Shoulds and Mlle Colette

Barb here.

Let’s talk lists.

I love “To-Do-Lists!

I really love crossing things off the list.

(I like that so much I’ve been known to write down a completed task just so I can cross it off. Some of you will relate.) 

More…

I’ve used all sorts of systems (the Franklin Planner being the most elaborate), read all sort of books, (Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and one of David Allen’s first books), and attended seminars; I’ve written the lists on yellow lined paper, fancy calendar binders, and a plethora of different software programs.

I’ve had color coded lists, lists with items marked A – D to indicate importance, and lists with stars or highlighter applied to indicate something along the lines of VERY IMPORTANT! DO NOW OR FAIL AS A HUMAN!

List management, with wine

I am really good at lists.

I’ve had life goal lists, daily and weekly to-do lists, monthly lists, and seasonal lists.While cruising, the lists were short and sweet. This year as my life has gotten more complicated, I again struggled with systems, software, and apps. (There are a plethora of apps for lists.) After polling my younger, tech-savvy Facebook friends I’m back to lined paper in my essential, must-not-lose-ever-notebook. I’ve incorporated a few tips from those past lessons, but keep it simple and focused.

How focused?

A while back I discovered a yellow pad with the “master list” I had written shortly after my college graduation. Some of the things on that decades-old list could be on my master list today—if I had a “master list”. For me, a “master list” consists of everything I think I should want to accomplish. Finding that old “master list” largely equaled the new one pulled me up short.

Some of the things on that list don’t need to be on any list of mine today – or any time. They were “shoulds” I picked up somewhere and added to the list for self-improvement, or self-importance, or self-something.

I like lists and I use them so that I can keep track of a whole bunch of things in my life and not forget the important and the urgent. (Did I get toothpaste? Yes.) But the big picture stuff? Those “shoulds” or self-I things? I have no patience for those anymore. I will learn, I will grow, I will achieve. As important, I am learning to accept those things that just aren’t going to change (now there’s an original concept) and banish them from the list.

Perhaps I can now cross “Learn to be an adult” off the list.

Yeah. Probably not. I’m beginning to actually understand that—even at 60—I’m a work in progress. Still, I’ll keep writing my To-Do-List and crossing things off.

Barb’s Happy Dance

It makes me happy.

I found a great article on Quartz about how to write a good to-do list. (Their version of “master list” is reasonable.)

We would love to know if you have a “To-Do” list and if its old school paper or 21st century app. Which app?

Lynnelle here.

Even at THIS age, at 60, it takes such discipline to not let the “shoulds” get to you, or the “theys” of the world who dictate the “shoulds”. I don’t need a list to screw me up about who, what and where I “should” do, be, know or have. As I’m again reinventing myself; transitioning from typical, full-time, professional employment to …self-employed blog-queen/travel writer… there are many “shoulds” (inclusive of “should haves”, “should nots”, and “should not haves”) looking me in the face, clamoring for attention.

“Lynnelle, you should….

  1. ​Get a normal job to have reliable income (& health ins. & vacation pay & retirement savings & …)
  2. Sell that Mercedes because you don’t need that ‘flash’ OR that payment. 
  3. Have saved more money.  
  4. Have started on this writing thing years ago; you would have a track record, by-lines and SALES by now.
  5. Sell the Hermes Kelly bag. It would cover the mortgage for 6 months.

You get the idea.

The above all revolve around money, which is clearly an issue when you go from a 6-figure income to … zero. The more sinister “shoulds” swarming around me like a cloud of black flies are about my self identity. Without the big job, who am I? Well, I know who I am – I’m still me; but the perception of who I am is different. Lynnelle the international banker conjures a different image than does Lynnelle the blogger/writer. We’re the same, but not perceived the same.

I  should  will…​

  1. Be secure in myself. Others’ perception of me is ultimately out of my control.
  2. Ignore those with negative comments, opinions or views about my life.
  3. Not base my self-image or self-worth on the perceptions of others.

Like Barb’s decade-old master list, I’ve been working on these three things my whole life, it seems. I’m so much more secure in myself now at sixty than then, BS (before sixty) – thank God.

ModernStoicism.com

But, there are times – like now – when you take your life in a completely new direction; reinventing yourself – again –  testing your grit. I’m dusting off and updating the secure-in-myself manual. One of the things I’m getting into is the Stoic philosophy. If you’re into that kind of exploration, this is the *book that introduced me to the Stoic philosophy, The Good Life. If you’d like to learn more about the philosophy of Stoicism, go to the website ModernStoicism.com, a non-profit organization that shares information, events and courses on Stoicism as a life philosophy.

I’ll be leaving the “Learn to be an Adult” manual, however, on the shelf.

Here’s an appropriate quote (found at Brainy Quote):

Mlle Colette

“You must not pity me because my sixtieth year finds me still astonished. To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.” —Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

By the way, Colette published “Gigi” in 1944 at the age of 71.

Go be astonished.

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