2022 – Roving Retirement Resumed!

It was so good to get back travelling again in 2022.

Having returned to Australia in November 2019 for a ‘couple of months’ before heading overseas again was the plan. But as we all know Covid changed the world for a couple of years and we didn’t get back to overseas travel until two and a half years later in May 2022!

Ever hopeful of getting back on the road again sometime in 2022 we started the year doing some much needed maintenance work on our home in Somerville prior to renting it out again.

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In late February we re-commenced our house sitting life with a couple of local sits. Three weeks on a Golf Course estate in Sandhurst for two cats was followed by an inner city Melbourne sit for a menagerie of cats, chickens and various parrots. We were delighted to secure a month long sit for a chilled out Greyhound opposite the beach in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Parkdale for the month of March. In April we flew to Queensland to while away the month with a repeat sit for two beautiful Labradoodles in Brisbane, a short cat sit in Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast and another repeat for two Cavoodles in Buderim.

Finally, May arrived and on the 6th May we took off for Europe.

Finland

We re-started with a long haul flight to Helsinki, Finland and an interesting 3 day stopover. Even though it was almost mid-spring the temperatures were still pretty chilly at around 8° Celsius!!! We even had a brief snow flurry one afternoon.

Spain

Next stop was Barcelona. We had spent 3 days here a number of years ago but wanted to explore more fully so booked 7 nights at a nice little Airbnb apartment near the Sants train station in a residential neighbourhood. We love Spain and immediately felt at home wandering around observing life at the local Placa (square). We visited many of the touristic attractions that the city is known for and I finally got to tour the famous FC Barcelona soccer stadium – the Camp Nou. An extremely memorable day was our day trip to the Monastery at Montserrat – just fabulous.

The pandemic had many impacts and one of the casualties was the car rental business. Many companies reduced stock levels but once travel resumed there was little supply for the increased demand. As a result, rental prices went through the roof! We needed a 1 month rental and prices in Barcelona were exhorbitant. Searching revealed that we could rent the same car from the same company at a location about 1hr 20 mins by train away from Barcelona for €1000 cheaper!!! That was an easy decision and very good for our wallet!

We did a day or two touring on our way to a favourite repeat house sit near St Feliu de Guixols on the Mediterranean coast near the French border. It was nice seeing our friends Chris and Di again and their sweet little pooch Ollie. We re-visited many favourite places and medieval villages along with trips to Girona and Figueres for the Dali Museum. The 3.5 weeks there flew by and soon we were waving goodbye as we flew from Barcelona to Munich to catch a train to the German riverside town of Passau.

Danube River Cruise

It was now mid-June and Passau was the starting point for our 2 week bike and boat trip along the Danube River that would see us cycling through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia and Croatia. We’d done two previous bike and boat trips with the same company (www.radreisen.at) – one along the Danube River and the other the Rhine River. This 2 week trip was originally scheduled for 2020 but cancelled, like many things, due to Covid. The trip didn’t disappoint and was enhanced by our decision to rent e-bikes for the first time. They enabled us to cover more territory in a shorter time and get to high viewpoints over towns and rivers that would have been impossible on normal bikes.

Germany

At the conclusion of another successful bike tour we caught a train to Berlin for a 4 day visit. I’d been for a weekend almost 20 years ago and Jacqueline had never been so we were excited to visit and explore. It is such a fascinating city due to the infamous wall and associated history from WWII plus the communistic era and the ultimate fall of the wall. So interesting, sad and thought provoking.

United Kingdom

Historically, we try and fill July and August with house sits in the UK. This is high season in the European summer and flights, accommodation, etc are always busy and attract a premium price. It also allows us a break from our restricted Schengen time on mainland Europe. We secured a 3.5 week house sit at the start of July for a beautiful Spaniel named Humphrey in the London suburb of Forest Hill for a German/Australian family. Central London was about 30 minutes away and we enjoyed many forays into the city centre re-visiting places we’ve previously been and exploring new things like visits to Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, the British Museum and cycling down to Greenwich. Throw in a couple of West End shows, catching up with friends and going to our son’s best mates wedding and it was an all round fun time.

Late July saw us heading back to Scotland and our second home of Edinburgh for 5 weeks for two house sits – one a repeat and the other a new one. Having lived here for 8 years it is very familiar and just like ‘home’. An added bonus was that our son Brandon was in the UK and we were able to spend some time together. He hadn’t been back since we left in 2004 (when he was 12) so it was nice showing him around and reminding him of all his favourite childhood times there. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival happens each August and the city comes alive with a buzz of activity and shows. On a previous visit Jacqueline had seen groups of people dancing and singing in the streets doing a ‘silent disco’. This was high on her agenda for when we came back and we did have a fun time with our group acting like teenagers without a care in the world singing (out of tune) and dancing our way through the city much to the bemusement of others.

After the first sit we had a 10 day gap and weren’t sure what we were going to do however our sitting friends Sandy and Rob invited us to their farm sit for a few days in northern England. They showed us around the beautiful area of Cumbria and I also took the opportunity to do a little family tree research in Carlisle as the Lamb’s have strong roots in the nearby village of Longtown.

We found a one week sit in Glasgow for one cat to fill in the rest of our gap. Even though we lived only 1 hour away in Edinburgh for 8 years we’d only ever been to Glasgow once so it was a great opportunity to check out this interesting city. Back to Edinburgh for our new sit in late August and the festival was in full swing so we took in a few comedy shows and also the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo on the Esplanade of the Edinburgh Castle. We went many times when we lived there but hadn’t been in almost 20 years so it was nice to see it again.

We were now into September and time to get back to Europe. We had a week to fill in before going to Portugal and we picked up a short 3 day sit for two gorgeous ragdoll cats in London. This happened to be our 100th house sit so to spend it in London was quite special. Accommodation in London is ludicrously expensive so we decided to check out Brighton for a few days. It was the same distance from Gatwick Airport as London and the costs substantially less plus it turned out to be a cool place to visit. Win – win.

Portugal

We had never been to Portugal and had planned almost 6 weeks worth of travel and house sitting. We started with 6 nights in Porto which was just a stunning introduction to the country. Of course we had to try the Pastel de Nata (Portuguese tarts) and they were just divine. So much better than others we’d had in other places and so cheap!!! Heaven. Next was our house sit in the country side in central Portugal which included a car so we took advantage of seeing many beautiful towns such as Obidos, Tomar and Alcobaça during our 3 week stay. Then on to Lisbon for 5 days of sight seeing including day trips to Sintra and Cascais. We enjoyed our time here too but preferred Porto. Both are hilly places however Lisbon more so – you certainly get a good work out there.

Our last week in Portugal was in the South of the country having a look at the Algarve coast and staying in Albufeira. Stunning coastal walks, sandy beaches and white washed towns were simply stunning. It was a quick visit but gave us a taste of what the region has to offer.

Albania

It was now mid-October and we headed to the little known tourist country of Albania. I had been keen to visit as friends and our son were all glowing in their recommendations of it. Getting there was a bit of an exercise as we flew from Faro in Portugal to Gatwick in the UK. The next flight was to Tirana from London’s Luton airport. Luton is on the opposite side of London to Gatwick via a 90 minute train ride and then a short bus ride. We gave ourselves 6 hours between flights as a buffer against delays and as it turned out our inbound flight was delayed but we still had plenty of time. However, we didn’t plan on our outbound flight to Albania being delayed by a couple of hours so it was a long travel day and we arrived in Albania around 3am.

Albania was truly memorable and we’d recommend anyone to visit. The people are kind and open and the landscapes and scenery just amazing. We opted for a private tour with a guide/driver as public transport is particularly challenging there and there is no train system (a remnant of the Communist regime after WWII). Albania is not on the traditional tourist trail and that was one of the attractions. Also, being in the Balkans it is outside of Schengen. We covered a lot of territory over the week (and even popped into neighbouring Montenegro for a few hours!) and learned so much about it’s ancient history and the more recent oppression under the communists. Just a fascinating place and extremely affordable (ie. cheap).

UAE, Malaysia & Thailand

We commenced making our way back to Australia for a house sit in Port Macquarie, New South Wales starting in early December. We broke up the flights to Australia with overnight stopovers in Dubai and Kuala Lumpur and then spent 5 weeks in Thailand. One week of relaxation at a beach front resort in Phuket re-charged our batteries before flying to Chiang Mai. We’ve spent a lot of time in the past in this Northern Thai city since retiring but hadn’t been back for a few years so it was nice to re-acquaint ourselves with the Rose of the North. We’d come back to do a 3 week house sit here for a new client in an area we weren’t that familiar with so it was a refreshing change. By chance the important religious Yee Ping/Loy Krathong festival was on while we there and we enjoyed the associated parades and night time festivities.

Singapore

Early December and we flew to Singapore for a 2 night stopover on the way to Sydney. We stayed in a working class area and it was interesting to see this compared to the glitz and glamour of the downtown area. Jacqueline loves Christmas lights and the ones we saw on Orchard Road were pretty awesome.

Australia

Then on to Sydney for a 2 night stopover before flying to Port Macquarie to start our month long sit that would take us into 2023 and a new year of adventures. This sit was one we were scheduled to do in 2021 but was cancelled due to the pandemic. The owners contacted us whilst we were in Portugal and we ultimately agreed to come back to Australia even though coming back was never really on our radar. The house was on the canals with access to kayaks and bikes and we thoroughly enjoyed our month getting familiar with this attractive mid-north coastal town. Jacqueline and I both even commented that we could quite easily live here which is unusual for us as we never say that!!!

So we come to the end of an eventful year where we finally got back on the road. It was very different for us as we’d lost our travel ‘muscle memory’ and found it hard to get back in the groove of our itinerant lifestyle. Even though we had continued to travel and house sit in Australia during the pandemic we had various challenges doing so internationally again.

I’m happy to say that we’re now back in the groove and looking forward to new countries and adventures in 2023.

Countries visited (17)

Finland (*)
Spain
Germany
Slovakia
Austria
Hungary
Serbia (*)
Croatia
England
Scotland
Portugal (*)
Albania (*)
Montenegro
United Arab Emirates
Malaysia
Thailand
Singapore

(* = new country for us)


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8 Comments

  1. Welcome back to blogging Glenn, with a terrific post. Even though we “followed” your 2022 adventures it was nice to read it all in the one place. Here’s to another year of new travels.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fabulous year you guys have had! We love Port Macquarie also (once we finish our world adventures followed by around Australia in a caravan) we plan to move from Sydney to the mid north coast of NSW. Doubt it will be anywhere near as fancy as the gorgeous place on the keys you’ve been able to enjoy though 😊

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No, not as yet. We are in the process culling and selling our belongings in preparation to start our travels in April 2024. Seems ages away but will be here before we know it. I watched your preparation to your travel videos a while back when I found your page and we’re in the same boat. Slowly slowly we’re making a dent in it. I’ll let you know when we do start a page, possibly 6 months till our date we’ll start one.

        Liked by 1 person

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