Monthly Archives: July 2013

Strasbourg: Capital of Alsace

Bicycle in the Garden – photo by D. GRINNELL

As the European capital and France’s seventh-largest city, located at a crossroads between the Latin and Germanic cultures, Strasbourg has a unique architectural heritage. Built alongside the river Rhine, boasting a 2000-year history and a town centre listed as Unesco World Heritage, this attractive town skillfully combines tradition with modernity and can be explored on foot, by riverboat, by tram… and even by bicycle. Strasbourg and its surroundings have a 500 km network of cycle trails: the largest in all of France!

Cyclists can discover the town and its surrounding area in original and highly unusual manner as they travel along the canals, through the parks and gardens, and through the town’s historical pedestrianized center. *

Alsatian specialties

Alsatian Specialties – photo by Y. NOTO-CAMPANELLA

The capital of Alsace is rightly famous for its delicious cuisine, wine and beer.

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La Petite France – photo by B. NAEGELEN

This is the part of the town that immediately springs to mind when people think of Strasbourg. Formerly the fishermen’s, millers’ and tanners’ district, La Petite France is today a peaceful tourist district in the heart of Strasbourg. The narrow streets offer a wealth of half-timbered houses dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, huge interior courtyards, and large sloping roofs opening out onto lofts where animal hides were once dried.

The following photos were taken by me in mid-October, so it was pretty cold; even so, many people were out and about, enjoying all this city has to offer.

1Strasbourg bike

Postcard perfect – photo by D. GRINNELL

This picture perfect café called Au Fond de Jardin was quite inviting.

1Strasbourg dog

Sweet puppy – Photo by D. GRINNELL

This adorable puppy patiently awaited as his owner stepped into the wine shop. Keeping so still, he appeared as a fixture. Anticipating viewers would not believe he was real, I snapped a couple of pictures when he moved his head. I love the fact that this quintessential French man sauntered into the frame with his bike at just the right time.

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Puppy and Frenchman with Bike – photo by D. GRINNELL

1Strasbourg carousel

Carousel – photo by D. GRINNELL

I love that many French cities have a beautiful Carousel in the town square. Strasbourg was no different. I’m sure in the warmer months it’s full of giggling children with huge smiles on their faces.

1Strasbourg band

Trio – photo by D. GRINNELL

This sweet trio filled the cold air with the lovely sounds of old French songs.

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Gothic storm drain spout – photo by D. GRINNELL

And you’ve just got to love this… in France even the storm drain spouts are artistic.

I am looking forward to visiting this lovely city again, this time in the warmer time of year, and perhaps venturing off on a cycling tour. Stay tuned…

NOTE: Content and some photos (those not by D. Grinnell) were provided by the Strasbourg’s Office of Tourism (complete contact information below) in their Press file. For more information on city or the surrounding areas of Alsace, please check out their website.

OFFICE DE TOURISME DE STRASBOURG ET SA REGION
17 place de la Cathédrale – B.P. 70020 – 67082 STRASBOURG
Tel. +33 (0)3 88 52 28 28 – Fax: +33 (0)3 88 52 28 29
E-mail: info@otstrasbourg.fr – Internet: www.otstrasbourg.fr

*For more information on cycling:

Esprit Cycles

Tel. + 33   (0)3 88 36 18 41

www.espritcycles.com

Vél’hop

Tel. + 33 (0)3 88 23 56 75 or + 33   (0)3 88 35 44 65

www.velhop.strasbourg.eu

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Taking care of your Mail when Traveling for an Extended Period

Now that I am in the final weeks before I leave the country for an extended period, I’m busily checking things off my list, and trying to make sure that all my responsibilities are taken care of before I leave.

One thing that has been weighing on my mind is what to do with my mail while I am away. I’m moving out of my apartment, so should I have my mail forwarded to a mail box at the UPS Store and ask a friend to kindly pick my mail up once a week or so. Or should I just forward my mail to that friend or a family member’s home. My main concern is I do not want to inconvenience anyone while I pursue my dream of living abroad.

I already pay most of my bills online, and I’ve changed all my banking, credit card and other monthly statements to paperless. But it seems like I am still receiving mail – mostly junk mail, but also a few direct mail pieces and catalogues from the companies I do business with. Once in a while a check will come in the mail, and I certainly do not want to miss that!

While doing an Internet search on this subject I found a terrific blog that was really helpful on exactly this matter. The Blog: RetireEarlyLifestyle.com by Billy and Akaisha Kaderli has a plethora of information for people who are retired, are planning for an early retirement, or those who just want to travel more and for longer periods. The Kaderli’s retired at the age 38 back in 1991; and with three decades of living a financially independent lifestyle, their blog offers great advice and wisdom for others who want to do the same.

The article titled What to Do with Mail on Long-term Travel? was especially helpful for me.

The advice they gave was: “The first thing to do, of course, is to minimize any kind of mail that you receive. This means that instead of receiving paper copies of anything (your charge card statement, your brokerage house statement, your health insurance billings, and anything else) — just go paperless whenever possible. And it’s almost always possible. Reduce your junkmail at every opportunity.”

This link lead me to the Earth911 website and an article titled 8 Ways of Reducing Your Junk Mail. Fabulous information — and I took immediate action to reduce mine.

Another piece of advice from the Kaderli’s was: “…to get signed up for automatic bill pay for anything you have come in on a regular basis. Fidelity is our brokerage house and we have our charge cards automatically paid out of this account. Fidelity also offers a check writing service which will allow you to write a physical check and manage it online. That means that you “write” the check online and Fidelity sends a physical check to your Biller.”

Very helpful!

The third thing the article advises “is to look into mail forwarding services. People who full-time in their RV’s utilize services such as these. These companies will forward your mail to just about anywhere — or you could try Earth Class Mail. This company will let you see (online) an image of your mail and then you tell them what you want them to do with it.”

The Earth Class Mail option seems perfect for me!

For the full article, and more great advice from Billy and Akaisha Kaderli, please check out their website: RetireEarlyLifestyle.

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Filed under My Dream, Travel, Words of the Wise

Ten Steps to Living My Dream

(blog updated: August 16)

(blog updated: July 17)
“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.”  Jesse Owens (1913-1980);  Olympic Athlete

Well, I can completely agree with that quote! And I have been putting in a lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort to make my dream come true.

I started this post a week or so ago, but didn’t publish it because I wanted to give notice at work before I announced to the world that I was leaving on an extended leave of absence.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said “Take the first step in faith.” And reminded us, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”  So I took the first step and gave notice at work.

Once I took that first step, the next few steps came quickly, and I started gaining some momentum!

Step One – Give notice at work. (DONE!)

Step Two – Give notice to my landlord. (DONE!)

Step Three – Purchase my airline tickets. (DONE!)

Step Four – Arrange for housing while in France. (August  and September – DONE; October and November – TBD)

Step Five – Find a home for my cat while I am away (DONE!)

Step Six – Pack my belongings for storage; pack my luggage for France. (Started packing up the house!) (DONE!)

Step Seven – Rent a storage unit and move my belongings into it. (Storage unit is rented.) (DONE!)

Step Eight – Have a going away party! (I’ve had three!)

Step Nine – Board the plane…(DONE!)

Step Ten – Arrive in France and get settled into my home! (DONE!)

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Decisions ~ Decisions

sleep2I’ve lost so much sleep recently mulling over everything I need to do in order to make this life goal of living in France come to fruition.

When to leave? Where to live? How long to stay? What to do about my job: take a leave of absence or just resign? What about my kitty cat, who will take care of her while I’m away? And then there’s my apartment – do I sublet it or just put my stuff in storage and move out completely.

Toss. Turn. 

Sip a cup of Sleepy-time tea.

Write a pro/con list.

Toss. Turn. Watch late night TV.

Discuss it with my family.

Toss. Turn. Practice my French.

Talk to my friends.

Toss. Turn. Repeat.

Fast forward a few weeks. I’m happy to say that I’ve made a few decisions. Take a deep breath, cause here we go!

Decision one: Live abroad for four-six months. 
After a lot of consideration, taking a ten-week sabbatical didn’t seem long enough to really accomplish all I want to do while living in France and traveling abroad. I want to feel like I actually live there, so four to six months seemed more appropriate.

Decision two: Quit my Job.
I was prepared to resign from my job and help my employer find my replacement in order not to cause my co-workers too much additional work due to my absence. However, when speaking with my boss about what I wanted to do (live in France for 4-6 months), he offered me the extended leave of absence, and we came up with a plan to have my duties covered.  What a nice surprise!

Decision three: Move out of my apartment.
Taking a leave of absence means that I will not have an income for the a few months; I’ll be living on my savings and any writing jobs I can pick up along the way. Therefore, it made sense get rid of as many bills as possible. So I’m giving up my apartment – the apartment I love, the apartment I moved into in order to get used to living in a small place (like I’d be living in while in France). I guess it worked, because now I’ll pretty much be living out of a suitcase.  Nevertheless, I know it will be worth it, and I will find another great apartment when I come back home.

Decision four: Leave for France in August, return home in December.
Wow – that’s just over a month away! I have so much to do. I better make a list…

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Filed under Inspiration, My Dream, Travel