Just about a month ago we had a long layover in London. In that 11-hour layover, we actually had enough time to see many of the major tourist attractions. So, what did we do this time?
Being on a budget is really a blessing for us on this visit. It forced us outside the tourist areas and into a neighborhood that we had never explored and saw so much more of what London is about. Walking and exploring the neighborhood is how you really discover the soul of a city. So, we were excited to land in Battersea and wander. From our home base, we spent much of our time roaming Battersea, Clapham, Chelsea, and Westminster. Each of theses neighborhoods (district/city), were so unique. You can see the gentrification and diversity of Battersea and affluence of Chelsea. Clapham was vibrant with young professional, but maybe a counter to Shoreditch edginess and liveliness, which reminded us of home in the pacific northwest. Tip: Eating in the many great takeout (mom-and-pop) places in Battersea is the best way to stay on a budget, but the really amazing things are the owners. They are super friendly and really want to get to know their customers. Each place made us wandering nomads feel like we were at home. That's a win in our book! Oh, they also only accept cash.
We were also able to do a quick getaway to Stonehenge and Bath. We did it on a tour coach versus public train. It allowed us to see the country side and it was in the end cheaper and more convenient. Often people pack their day tours, but we looked for a tour solution that provided us the most free time versus being ushered around and not being able to experience anything. Oh, and we really enjoyed Bath and Stonehenge! Definitely go! Tip: The most common day tour from London is Westminster, Stonehenge, and Bath with a lunch stop, but you are in a constant rush from one place to another with a bunch of driving in between. The Stonehenge and Bath only (no food) trip gives you guided information on the bus, essentially entertaining transportation, but provides free time once you get to the destination, which was perfect for us. We had about 1.5 hours at Stonehenge and 3.5 hours in Bath to do whatever we liked. It was a long day though, starting at 8:30 am and returning around 7:30 pm with traffic. If you have extra time, I would spend a couple of days in Bath.
Although we were in London for more than 4 days, it was fast. We had an American Thanksgiving in London, which was the first Thanksgiving abroad for us, and then dinner and cocktails into the early morning on Black Friday with our friends. No shopping for us. Sites are nice, but nothing beats time catching up with friends!
Grocery Beer Price Index: 2.1 pounds for 500ml Fullers London Pride ($2.75)
We came in late October just as the tourist season began to wane. It was an interesting transition from the hustle and bustle of the crowds and festivities to near silence. There were days in mid-November we would barely see a tourist until a cruise ship would arrive. Some of the restaurants and shops in the old town closed for the season and the ones that were open often adjust their schedule based on the arrival of the cruise ships. The touristy old town goes into hibernation until the spring when the next season starts.
It was definitely an intriguing time to visit, especially for an extended stay. We really enjoyed it!
We wanted to share some thoughts and tips, especially for visiting Split in the fall.
There’s a lot to do in Split and the surrounding area, including many beautiful UNESCO sites, which we didn't cover. Also, there are amazing outdoor adventures and intriguing local foods. For example, if you want a food adventure, right outside of Split there are towns that specializes in frogs and lamb. Split and Croatia seem like an endless adventure. We will be back for sure!
Come to Split and go exploring!
P.S. Sorry we have not provided updates about our boat as we promised, but I did sneak in a photo in the slide show above.
Grocery Beer Price Index: 7 kuna for 500ml Karlovako ($1)
Imagine having to get rid of everything you own. That's what it means to move from a house to a boat. During this transition to minimalist living, I learned a thing or two about downsizing.
The process officially kicked off when our house was sold after listing for only a day. At that moment, there's a real deadline and we needed to move quickly. Where am I going put everything? What to keep? What to bring?
At first, we looked to store the furniture we've collected and love over the years. However, with the buyers accepting our offer on the furniture that meant we didn't have to rent a storage space anymore. That was a great relief! We really hope they love the pieces as much as we do.
Now that all the big items were taken care of, sorting the rest should be easy right? Umm, not really. The reality struck when we realize EVERYTHING needed to fit in 3 bags weighing 20 kg/44 lbs each and 1/3 of a single garage for storage. From then on, every day after work and weekend was about sorting closets of clothes, deciding what household items stay, packing tubs to give away, and boxing all the essentials and documents etc. That felt like forever, but it was about two and a half weeks and we finally had to leave our West Seattle home.
While it was a super exhausting process, when we finally moved into our apartment, it was quite liberating. Everything seemed a little simpler, easier perhaps. It's pretty neat I have to say.
If you ever want to give this a try for your house, closet or garage, here's what I've learned that might help...
Maybe this is not for everyone, and maybe having less will become more in other ways. We will see!
ps, can't believe it's been 3 months and going!