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sundowner Mar 1st, 2007 05:47 PM

I'm sad to see your trip end, travelgirl! I enjoyed the whole thing, feeling like I was peeking over your shoulder. I'm sure it was hard to post the last few installments so here's an extra special thanks for them. Hope you "take us" on your next trip!


travelgirl2 Mar 1st, 2007 06:50 PM

You guys are great! Thank you for the positive feedback and encouragement.

Stu, I hope you have a wonderful trip. Will you give us a trip report when you get back? I'd love to hear your impressions of everything. Your comments on my trip were so interesting!

travelgirl2 Mar 1st, 2007 06:51 PM

Day 200+ - Still Home

Well, we took care of the iPod and also the septic tank problem. Apparently, the building specifications at the time the septic was installed required a certain amount of dirt (?) surrounding the tank, but it was not the correct amount to counteract our extremely clay-like soil. So, as the soil became more packed over time, it began to have a hard time draining. It started to back up and once that happens, it is not good. A man came and did a septic-oscopy (ha-ha, I made that up), similar to a colonoscopy, threading a camera down through the pipes and into the septic tank. (Wonders never cease.) His solution was to inject something into the soil (Styrofoam?) which would make it more porous and allow draining to occur. He also pumped out the overflow. For a total of $4,500, we now have a fully functioning septic tank. The procedure is not a guarantee, however, so our fingers are crossed. (I canít believe I just wrote all these boring details. Sorry.)

Since weíve been home, the travel bug has continued (on a smaller scale)! In October, we went on a bicycling and camping weekend. It was lots of fun. We rode 30+ miles one day, which nearly killed us, but we did it. We are planning more biking adventures in the future.

In November, we drove to Boston for a long weekend. (I wrote a short trip report about it.) We loved Boston. We had a free hotel stay with Hilton Honors points.

In December, I had a solo weekend in Chicago. What a great city. I got a great airfare (well, who besides me wants to go to Chicago in the winter?) and a cheap hotel room through Priceline.

In January, we journeyed to Florida for the weekend. It was a happy occasion, as DM was getting married to DMLIL. I guess he is DMLIL no longer (and it was so much fun to call him DMLIL)! Now he is DMH (dear motherís husband). After the wedding, tears welled in our eyes as we watched them having a spotlight dance in the middle of a Saturday night dance party on their town square, dancing to Etta Jamesí classic, ďAt LastĒ.

Now, we are planning a spring trip to a tropical island and a summer trip to Germany/Austria. (I took advantage of the Continental promotion to Cologne, Germany for 25,000 frequent flyer miles. We each earned about that many miles on all those Virgin Atlantic flights last summer!) Iíll be back here with lots of questions, Iím sure.

To answer some questions about ĎThe Big TripĒ: what did we like or not like about the trip? What would we do the same or differently? I would absolutely love to take another extended trip. The flavor was so different from taking a two week trip. We were so relaxed and just enjoyed being everywhere. There was no urgency to see and do everything, since we knew weíd be seeing a lot of cool stuff over the entire summer. (Donít tell DH just yet, but Iíd really like to travel for a year at some point in the future. Shhhh.)

Most interesting: China
Most difficult: China
Most relaxing: Santorini, Greece
Most idyllic: Tuscany, Italy
Place where we felt the most involved in the culture: Salamanca, Spain
Kidsí favorite activity: Spanish Camp
My favorite activity: Spanish Camp and cooking class in Kyoto
My favorite museums: Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam and British Library in London
Favorite site: Terracotta Warriors in Xian, China and Great Wall near Beijing, China
Most amazing architectural site: Kyoto train station
Most thought-provoking site: Hiroshima
Best food: China, followed by Italy, followed by Greece
Food we tired of most quickly: Japan
Place we were too exhausted to enjoy: 3 days in Prague (too short and at the end of the trip)
Best service: Japan
Favorite apartment: Athens followed by Prague
Favorite hotel: Shanghai Radisson New World and Hotel Granvia in Kyoto, Japan
Cutest tour guide: Johnnie Hillwalker in Kyoto, Japan
Biggest surprise: how much we enjoyed Stockholm
Another big surprise: we really didnít mind traveling around so much, although packing up so often and the night train in China were tough
Places I most want to go back to: Greece, Japan, Spain (well, Iíll go to any of them, actually)

Absolute best thing: spending time 24/7 as a family, seeing each other as human beings since we were all experiencing everything together for the first time and that leveled the usual parent-child playing field, enjoying watching the kids experience everything, being proud of their openness to meeting new people and trying new things, participating together in so many cultures, we all came back more centered as a family, more flexible and tolerant as individuals.

Well, this brings me to the absolute end of our journey. It has been such fun sharing this trip with everyone on Fodorís. I have loved reading your comments and suggestions. It made the trip that much more fun for me. I wish I could throw a big party and invite all my fellow travelers (and arm-chair travelers too)!

Happy travels, everyone. Thanks for sharing our journey with us.



job816 Mar 1st, 2007 07:29 PM

I haven't been on Fodors for awhile, but was jarred tonight to come back and see if you had done any recent postings. I have a bittersweet feeling in my heart with your story's end; like a good book that has concluded, but whose characters you have come to personally love and will miss. I found your journal inspirational, enlightening, and even at times exhausting, which speaks loudly to your ability to convey what was going on around you . . . projective identification so to speak. The power of your words allowed me to feel for myself your feelings. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing. I wish you and your family loads of happiness and of course . . . happy trails.

koaljay Mar 1st, 2007 09:46 PM

Hi Travelgirl2
Greetings from Australia
I have just re-read your travel diary ending with your visit to Rome which I had bookmarked - and now find myself enjoying the extra segment, particularly the informative comments re Prague.
I am currently organising a visit to the Czech Republic as my son is marrying a lass from Prague in June, so I found your information doubly interesting.
Travelgirl, I was most interested in your VRBO Prague apartment, listed in your 'favorite apartments - Athens and Prague' on Still Home - 03/01/2007, and was hoping you would let me have the VRBO number for that apartment. As you would realise, the Czech language is not the easiest to understand (as compared to French, German and Spanish where a smattering does help considerably) so a 'known' apartment would be of tremendous help.
Do hope this is possible - and thanking you in advance. Phyl from Melbourne

missypie Mar 2nd, 2007 05:44 AM

Thank you so much for all the time you've given us, Travelgirl!

travelgirl2 Mar 2nd, 2007 09:37 AM

The Prague apartment was vrbo # 74674. Very clean, comfortable, modern, nicely decorated in a somewhat minimalist way. Not fancy, though. Great price. Nice location. The owners spoke English.

Congratulations on the upcoming wedding!

LoveItaly Mar 2nd, 2007 09:46 AM

Thank you for coming back and finishing your report travelgirl, I saw the last parts today. Like everyone else here I so enjoyed "traveling" with you and your lovely family. You all are amazing travelers and I know this was a trip your children will remember forever.

It is good to know that all is well with you and how exciting to have so many other travel plans. Best wishes and thanks again for sharing your adventure!

Wekiva Mar 2nd, 2007 01:42 PM may have said THE END a few posts back but I think you'll be answering questions on this thread for months to come. :)

Thanks for the great read.

LCBoniti Mar 2nd, 2007 07:48 PM

Thanks, travelgirl, for the wonderful ride and the beautiful conclusion. I loved the thought of DMLIL but am happy that they found their way to the altar.

I enjoyed your trip report and the comments of others reading along with me. This kind of report brought out the best in all of us. Thank you for that.

Best wishes to your lovely family.

koaljay Mar 4th, 2007 12:29 AM

Thanks for taking the time to reply re the Prague apartment: the website details and photos look great - not to mention the price!!
Do have a well-earned rest after your fabulous detailed travel reports.

travelgirl2 Mar 7th, 2007 04:09 AM

You're welcome on the apartment info.

Thanks everybody!

travelgirl2 Jul 17th, 2007 04:52 AM

noe847 - great suggestion to make a book at I'm finally getting around to it and it is so much fun. I'm using this entire thread and pictures from the trip.

So, thanks everyone for adding your comments along the way!

noe847 Jul 17th, 2007 11:36 AM

travelgirl2, the books are really fun to make, aren't they? I've done a small paperback of our visit to Oxford, and I'm working on a re-edit of my big Romania book, which will expand to 300 pages, it appears. I've got several more in the planning stages.

A few tips: the book pictures print a bit darker and 'muddier' than on your computer screen, so you might want to manually lighten some with photo editing software (especially where the faces are backlit, or it's a cloudy day). Also, if you can't find a photo layout you want, you can make your own (I use Microsoft Publisher) and save it as a jpeg, then drop it into a book page that has a large photo box. (You can also compose a complete page, save as a jpeg, and drop into a 'full bleed' layout).

I'm sure you'll love the book!

moolyn Jul 17th, 2007 12:17 PM

Travelgirl, I just caught up on the end of your wonderful trip report. I know how life can intervene when you are writing a report so thanks for finishing! And I fully support your idea to travel for a year in hopes that you will share it with us too.

olive_oil Jul 28th, 2007 09:11 AM

Hi Travelgirl! I am just re-reading your adventure. It is every bit as fascinating as I remember. Thank you for posting it.

slangevar Jul 28th, 2007 09:21 AM

Bookmarking :-)

lsm8931 Jul 28th, 2007 06:02 PM

Hey Travelgirl2!! thanks so very much for staying with us, it truly was an adventure. So happy you and family had this experience together. Would there be any chance you'll share afew photos???? PLEASE

mamamia66 Jun 16th, 2008 02:59 PM


Pilates Jul 21st, 2008 12:37 PM

Hi Travelgirl. I'm on this website reading about goji berries and then read the following paragraph....I laughed out loud. It made me think of you. (These are two guys traveling in China. One of them writes):

<i>&quot;On this day we walked down the main street to get some exercise and at every intersection we stopped traffic. I kept looking at Kelly and he at me to make sure we weren't on fire or that we didn't forget to put our clothes on. I am guessing that foreigners are a rarity in these parts-Zhongning.&quot;</i>

tg2, I remember reading on this thread how the Chinese were so fascinated with you. Especially the boys.

For anyone who hasn't yet read travelgirl2's trip report, dive in, you'll be glad you did!

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