Search…

We Discovered Yoga Retreats in Spain and Morocco

Can we really visit amazing destinations while immersing ourselves in the peaceful relaxation of a luxurious yoga retreat? Yes, we can…
CONTINUE READING >>

The other day we were thinking about taking a little break to clear our minds, so we started looking at some yoga retreats near us in Southern California. Rather, I should say Veronica was looking. I’m not one for yoga.

It’s not that I have any deep seeded issues or problems with it or anything, I just can’t seem to make my body go into most of those positions. And if I did, I would probably never be able to get out of it.

Veronica, on the other hand, has been doing it for years and is very pleased with the benefits. So then it hit us, why not combine a yoga retreat with a visit to a wonderful destination?

Sounds like the best of both worlds to us. She gets all of the peace and harmony that yoga provides, and I get to visit an amazing location that we both can enjoy. I immediately thought of the Mediterranean, maybe Spain, so we began to look for a yoga retreat in Spain.

Turns out that the Spanish island of Mallorca is perfect for a retreat like this. The impressive landscape, with rugged mountains that come right down to meet the sea, couldn’t be better for enjoying magnificent outdoor yoga sessions. Especially in the late afternoon while the sun sinks below the horizon.

Of course it is not only the yoga that is so inviting, the island is outstanding for all of the scenery and history that is everywhere you turn. This gorgeous island holds fast to a treasure trove of ancient stories, having been ruled by The Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Moors, the Crown of Aragon, and now Spain.

Or we might want to take a break and get out on the water, because renting a boat is one of the best ways to explore Mallorca and the surrounding Balearic islands. Not only are the views spectacular, but the feeling of seeing the island just as the mariners from long ago did is astounding.

But then it occurred to us that we shouldn’t limit our options to just one place, so we decided to look for a yoga retreat in Morocco as well. Turns out that was a very good idea. We found some fantastic, lavish retreats just waiting for us to shed some of our stress in what seems to be about the perfect setting. And even better, since we have never been to Morocco before, we have the chance to discover a whole new culture.

An oasis of peace and tranquility awaits where we can combine the ancient art of yoga with the richness of all that Morocco has to offer. Between sessions we can take side trips to historic cities and visit some traditional markets, known as souks.

Of course we would want to experience a traditional hammams, or as we call them, Turkish baths, and maybe ever try out a Moroccan cooking workshop.

Can we really have all of this while immersing ourselves in the peaceful relaxation of a luxurious yoga retreat? Yes, we can.

It’s enough to make David want to take up yoga!

Well… almost.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Paris Underground: Digging Beneath Her Surface

Paris has long been heralded as the home of chic, hip, cutting edge trends, and that notoriety as an avant-garde hotspot is mostly associated with the Left Bank.

But sometimes you’ve gotta dig deep to find the fun — and weird — and creepy — beneath the surface… CONTINUE READING >>

Paris has long been heralded as the home of chic, hip, cutting edge trends, and that notoriety as an avant-garde hotspot is mostly associated with the Left Bank.

The former prison on the Seine in Paris, France

That could only mean, jet lagged or not, we were heading into the heart of it.

Man plays accordian on a bridge in Paris, France
Macaroons by the Seine - glorious!

Metro sign in Paris, France

We hopped on the underground to the neighborhood known as the Latin Quarter, said to epitomize the city’s Bohemian background.

The district is named for the language that the students of France’s oldest university, La Sorbonne, spoken back in the Middle Ages.

Le Quasimodo Cafe in Paris, France

Popping out of the Metro we found crowded, narrow streets — alive and vibrant — with bars and cafes, and somehow it seemed perfect.

We wandered aimlessly, as curious observers, while bells rang out periodically.

The Latin Quarter in Paris, France

Generally moving in the direction of the peals, eventually we came upon the Square René Viviani and discovered, tucked away and supported by a couple of concrete braces, the oldest tree in Paris.

Square René Viviani in Paris, France

The oldest tree in Paris

The venerable locust tree has been hanging in there since 1601, and still blooms every spring, even after taking a shot from a shell in World War I.

The square is also home to some old stones from Notre Dame Cathedral, which stands just across the river.

Notre Dame c’est magnifique!

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

(editor’s note: this is from a visit before the fire that damaged the cathedral.)

As we crossed the bridge, the massive church loomed before us.

In the dimming daylight we observed the structure from every possible angle, most likely with our mouths hanging open much of the time.

While the cathedral might be best known to us Americans for the bells we’d been hearing — and the odd little man who rang them — the gargoyles, rose window, and flying buttresses are what most caught our attention.

Point Zéro des Routes de France
Point Zéro des Routes de France sits in front of the cathedral and is the official center of the city.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France - GypsyNester.com

Built over the course of nearly two-hundred years, beginning in 1163, Notre-Dame de Paris was among the first buildings in the world to incorporate the flying buttress as reinforcements for the walls.

Although they were not part of the original design, its size required the additional support.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris - at night!

As night fell we were thrilled by the various views we encountered, especially lit against the darkened sky.

Perhaps a soul with an unfortunate deformity was hiding in the tower under cover of darkness.

As the bells rang out once more, we knew we had to return the next morning for another look… and an assessment of the inside.

Close up detail of the devil on the facade of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

The morning light allowed us a better assessment of the facade, and the restoration that took place after most of the statues were beheaded during the revolution.

Moving our gaze up toward the spire, we may have hoped to spot Quasimodo climbing along the rooftop, but instead found the twelve apostles, captured in surprisingly whimsical poses. These were also added during reconstruction.

Gargoyles and statues on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Walking inside, we experienced the temporary blindness that comes from going directly out of daylight into relative darkness.

But our eyes soon enough adjusted and the sun streaming through the stained glass windows filled the otherwise dimly lit sanctuary with muted colors.

Check out more Notre Dame CathedralRose window in Notre Dame Catherdal in Paris

The glow seemed to be the perfect lighting for such a refuge from the outside world, so we settled into seats to soak it all in for a while. That is our favorite way to absorb overwhelming spaces such as this, by sitting still we are able to observe and process the scope of the building.

Stained glass windows in Notre Dame Catherdal, Paris, France

Doubting Thomas inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

Once we were accustomed to both the light and space, we took a lap around the entire interior.

Not to take anything away from the classic cathedral, but we’d have to say we were more impressed with the exterior.

Check out more Notre Dame Cathedral

There is no doubt plenty to see inside, but for outstanding artwork we decided we would do better a few blocks away at the Louvre.

After a quick bite, and a bit of a show watching crepes being expertly created…

…we walked a short distance along the Seine to the imposing gates of the former palace that now serves as one of the world’s premier museums.

Loving the Louvre!

The Lourve in Paris, France

Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city, Louis XIV decided to move from Paris to the Palace of Versailles in 1682.

The Louvre did not immediately become a museum though; it was just over one-hundred years later, when the revolution replaced the royals, that the building was opened to show the collection.

Arriving just after midday, we knew it would be impossible to see the entire Louvre in one afternoon, so our plan was to hit the highlights, GypsyNester style.

View from a window of the Louvre in Paris, France

To enter the Louvre, we entered the famous/infamous (depending on who we asked) glass pyramid, and went underground.

We were immediately surprised to discover that a spot right near the entrance marked “New Acquisition” had been made ready for Veronica’s napkin masterpiece cover art sketch of Going Gypsy.

The cover sketch of Going Gypsy hanging at the Louvre in Paris

Unfortunately, we only had an ebook on our iPad (new media?) copy with us. The original is being held for safe keeping at Skyhorse Publishing, just in case it becomes really valuable — or pigs start flying — whichever comes first.

From that coveted position we made our way to the sculptures of ancient Greece, many of which we found to be downright bizarre. A few of our favorites included…

Boy wrestling goose at the Louvre in ParisBoy Delivering Severe Beat-down to Goose…

Weird art at the Louvre in Paris
Man Pulling Guts Out of Animal… Ancient Greek Dude Taking a Selfie…

Cupid riding a centaur in the Louvre in Paris, FranceCupid Riding a Centaur…

…and Supine Woman With Shocking Surprise on the Front Side (turns out she’s just one of the boys!).

Weird art at the Louvre in Paris

What Venus de Milo sees at the Louvre in Paris

Astonishingly, those were not the actual names. They are all remarkable, masterfully sculpted works of art, and heretofore we shall endeavor to display a modicum of proper decorum.

As if timed perfectly, the sight of Venus de Milo snapped us back to a state of appropriate awe.

<– Here’s what Venus de Milo sees

Named for the Greek Isle Milos, where it was discovered in 1820, she is Aphrodite, goddess of love.

Close up of Venus di Milo at the Louvre in Paris

Sculpted over one-hundred years before the time of Christ, she is considered a classic example of ancient Greek sculpture and, despite her loss of limbs, looks mighty good for her age.

What Mona Lisa sees at the Louvre in Paris, France

Leaving the marble masterpieces behind, we headed to the gallery of Italian artists on a quest to see Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous work, Mona Lisa.

To our surprise, a great many of the people gathered in front of the portrait had their backs to her.

Selfies in front of the Mona Lisa in Paris

Perhaps her appearance in the background of countless tourist selfies is what’s keeping her smiling these days.

Under the pyramid at the Louvre in Paris, France

Climbing out from underneath the pyramid, we returned to the courtyard of the Louvre and found a perfect view straight down the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, or Elysian Fields, to the Arc de Triomphe.

Want to see our full collection of odd art at the Louvre?

Triumphantly conquering the Arc!

Next to the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe may be the most recognizable monument in Paris

Next to the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe must be the most recognizable monument in Paris.

Built in 1806 by Emperor Napoleon to commemorate the victory at Austerlitz, the massive arch has gained significance as a memorial for all of the wars since that time and houses the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

We headed back to the Underground, hoping to make it to the Arc in time for a sunset climb to the top.

The Charles de Gaulle metro stop put us outside of the insane traffic clogging the roundabout that encircles the arch, making it look as though it might be impossible to get to.

The tunnel under the street to the Arc de Triomphe

Luckily, there is a tunnel underneath the street that made passage possible without risking our lives, and we exited the tunnel just in time to see the changing of the guard at the tomb.

The tomb of the unknown soldier in Paris

Under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France

The Eiffel Tower from the top of the the Arc de Triomphe in Paris

Impressive as the perspective was from the ground, we were more excited to climb to the top for an ultimate view of the city.

A few hundred steps later and a full 360 degree panorama of Paris spread out before us just as darkness was falling.

The vantage point was unbeatable, not only for photographing Gustave Eiffel’s handiwork, but observing the continuous chaos on the roads below.

A dozen roads converge at the circle, making the flow of vehicles look as if it was a living organism coursing through the arteries of the city.

For a final treat before we descended, the moon peeked out of the clouds just as the twinkling lights came to life on the Tour Eiffel.

Take a peek inside the Arc de Triomphe

See our antics at the Eiffel Tower and learn a few things about her that you didn’t know!

Fun poses with the Eiffel Tower! GypsyNester.com

Mon Dieu! Down deep into the Paris Catacombs

The warning sign outside the Paris Catacombs

The world's largest grave - the underground catacombs in Paris, France

The next day we had one more trip underground to take, but this was of an entirely different nature.

We weren’t headed for a subway, but the subterranean Catacombs.

We had heard that there can be quite a long line waiting to enter the Catacombes de Paris, but more than worth it, so we set aside an entire day for the visit.

It's a tight fit getting inside the Paris Catacombs

Glad we did too, because we hung around for several hours before finally heading down into the underworld.

We easily amused ourselves, and met some interesting people while waiting, but would still recommend using a skip-the-line tour if one is available.

The entrance to the catacombs in Paris: Stop! This is the Empire of Death

We proceeded past the warning, Stop! This is the Empire of Death, and entered to see for ourselves.

What we found was beyond extraordinary, it was downright bizarre.

Countless bones have been neatly stacked and arranged to form what seem to be endless hallways.

Bones are stacked in a decorative manner at the underground catacombs in Paris, France

The Catacombes de Paris

The tunnels and excavations were originally dug as a limestone quarry to supply building material for the world above.

Years later, when several of the city’s cemeteries ran out of room for any more burials, the remains of some six million people were moved into the Catacombs and they became known as The World’s Largest Grave.

Bones are stacked in a decorative manner at the underground catacombs in Paris, France

The Catacombs de Paris

There are miles and miles of these corridors, but visitors are only allowed to see a tiny portion.

That section is fortunately reasonably well lit, because wandering off into the maze of darkness beyond any of the blocked off pathways could easily end by getting hopelessly lost and ultimately joining the dearly departed.

Bones are stacked in a decorative manner at the underground catacombs in Paris, France

A lamp inside the Catacombs of Paris

We were so fascinated that we did our best to hang back from the rest of the crowd, and after a little while noticed that no one else was around.

It started to feel pretty creepy. At one point we weren’t sure which way to go.

We followed an arrow toward a door and found a sleeping guard blocking it. It was not the exit, and we didn’t want to wake him, so we pressed ahead. Truth be told, we were finding a tiny bit of perverse enjoyment out of our predicament.

Catacombes de Paris

Veronica even started mentioning things like, “wouldn’t it be cool if we got locked in here for the night?”

David was less than on board with that idea, so we kept moving forward, correctly assuming that the exit must be around somewhere.

Next thing we knew, we went through a door and out onto a small side street.

Funny souvenir shirt from the Paris Catacombs
We did find a souvenir shop nearby, but did not buy this shirt!

But after walking about a mile underground, twisting and turning the entire time, we had absolutely no idea where we were.

Our handy-dandy map was no help at all, so we walked toward the sound of traffic.

Once we hit a main thoroughfare we caught our bearings, made our way to the nearest metro station, and felt relieved.

Even though it meant going back underground.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Thanks to Paris je t’aime and Hotel Vic Eiffel for this adventure that made us exclaim Ooh la la! As always, all opinions are our own.

DELVE DEEPER:
See where we stayed in Paris
Want to see our full collection of odd art at the Louvre?
Head deep inside the Catacombes de Paris
Take a peek inside the Arc de Triomphe
Check out more about Notre Dame Cathedral
See more of our antics at the Eiffel Tower
Follow us to Versailles – there’s so much over-the-top royal stuff to share!
Want more Paris? Click here!
Check out all of our adventures in France!

YOUR TURN: Is Paris at the top of your must-see list? Or have you already checked it off? What would be YOUR first stop in Paris?

We Had Our Heads in the Clouds in Lima, Peru

We had a BLAST in Lima!

A whirlwind tour of downtown, an amazing cooking class, a visit to the most unusual gardens, a romantic stroll along the parks of the sea cliffs.
Oh, and we even jumped off the cliffs along The Pacific…
CONTINUE READING >> 

Lima Peru

When we were making plans for our big South American adventure Lima wasn’t even on our radar.

Just a transfer point between our visit to two of the world’s most amazing places, The Galapagos and Machu Picchu, with a group from Road Scholar, and setting out on our own to tango our way around Buenos Aires.

A quirk in flight schedules stuck us an extra day in the Peruvian capital, but as fate would have it, what seemed likely to be a let down instead found us soaring through the sky.

Lima Peru

On our final day with our fellow Road Scholars, just before most of the group would catch their planes back to The States, the tour had planned a whirlwind visit to the downtown area and a farewell supper.

After a ride through the city we got off the bus at the main square, Plaza Mayor, for a walk around and a brief history lesson.

Plaza Mayor, Lima Peru

The Cathedral in Lima Peru

The plaza is flanked on one side by The Government Palace, and on another the Cathedral.

Both owe their existence to the conquistador Francisco Pizarro, who founded Lima in 1535 as Ciudad de los Reyes (City of the Kings). That same year he laid the first stone of the church and began work on the palace, where he lived until his assassination in 1541.

He was laid to rest in the Cathedral, and the palace, aka House of Pizarro, is still the official residence of the President of the Republic.

As interesting as all of this may have been, we had to admit that we were more excited about the meal.

Learning to Cook like a Peruvian

Not only were we going to sample several of Peru’s most famous dishes, we were going to learn how to make them. Lima is sometimes called the Gastronomical Capital of the Americas, due to the wide variety of influences from Europe and Asia, so we were more than ready for our instruction and ingestion.

Cerviche Pescado at Señorio de Sulco Restaurant

From the plaza we made our way to Señorio de Sulco Restaurant for a lesson in Peruvian cuisine. First up, Ceviche Pescado. It is commonly held that ceviche originated in Peru and it is somewhat of the national dish.

Our chef and teacher, Ricardo, marinated filet of sole in lime juice, onion, chili peppers, salt & pepper, cilantro and leche de trigre, or tiger’s milk, which is made from fish sauce and more citrus juice. Served with boiled sweet potatoes (camote) and toasted corn known as cancha, we were off to an amazing start.

Causa Limeña at Señorio de Sulco Restaurant, Lima Peru

The next dish was Causa Limeña, delicious mashed potatoes prepared with lime, onion, chili and a little oil, layered with avocado and chicken salad, then formed in a round mold. Ricardo constructed this like an artist working on a masterpiece, after which we destructed it like hungry children.

WATCH: Chef Ricardo makes Causa Limeña – Oh. Yum.

For the main event chef Ricardo broke out a wok and fired up some Lomo Saltado. This is a marinated, sliced beef stir fried very fast at high temperature with onions, garlic, tomato and soy sauce, then served with rice and french fries. Simple and crazy delicious.

Lomo Saltado at Señorio de Sulco Restaurant in Lima, Peru

Do you love cooking classes like we do? Click here to see our classes from around the world!

Fetching Flowers

Because we couldn’t fly out until the next evening, we found a hotel in the area called Miraflores and explored some ideas for our extra day.

Originally founded as San Miguel de Miraflores, the district is known for shopping, not really a way either of us wanted to spend a day, and beaches, but mostly for flowers, as in flores.

Gee, that must be how it got its name.

Nazca Lines drawn out in flowers in Lima Peru

Even though the weather was wonderful, it wasn’t warm enough for the beach, so we asked at the desk about the flower parks and got the scoop along with a map.

There are about a dozen of the gardens that line the coastal cliffs in Miraflores, but one in particular caught our attention when we heard about it, the one with miniature versions of the Nazca Lines drawn out in flowers.

We knew where we were headed in the morning.

Nazca Lines drawn out in flowers in Lima Peru

We walked about a half an hour from our hotel to Parque Maria Reiche, which is named for the German archaeologist who dedicated her life to studying the mysterious pre-Columbian geoglyphs carved into the desert south of Lima.

As a tribute, several of the famous figures have been recreated using flowers and plants.

The view from ground level as we wandered through the park made the garden look like random large flower beds, but when we climbed up to the walkway above, the figures were revealed.

The whole scene was stunning, perched high on a cliff overlooking The Pacific.

Getting our Heads in the Clouds

Lighthouse, Lima Peru

Following the seacliff walkway south along the coast, we visited park after fabulous park.

Many were named for famous local and world leaders like the renowned Peruvian naval officer Miguel Grau, and the Nobel Prize Winning Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabbin.

Love tributes spelled out in rocks along the cliffs of Lima Peru
Dangerous Love: Tributes spelled out in rocks along the cliffs.

Paragliding in Lima Peru

Then, as we approached Parque El Faro — the lighthouse park — we saw something that changed our day completely.

We had noticed the paragliders soaring overhead all morning and now we had stumbled upon the launching area.

Veronica was unstoppable, breaking into a run to find out if it was possible to try it.

Lima's Parque del Amor from above on a paraglider

For those of us who feel there is no sensible reason to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, there is no way jumping off a two hundred-foot cliff can be justified.

I would have been perfectly happy to watch, but as soon as Veronica found out that passengers could be strapped on with an experienced glider, our fate was sealed.

We were both going over that cliff. Mostly because I would never live it down if I chickened out.

Getting ready to paraglide in Lima Peru

She could hardly be contained and volunteered to go first, but somehow my pilot got me lashed onto the contraption quicker, so Veronica got to watch as the wind dragged me along the ground and over the edge.

Granted, I was pretty busy trying to scramble to my feet each time the wind slammed me to, or lifted me off the ground, and all I could hear was my pilot yelling “run, run!” even though my feet were seldom touching anything, but I was reasonably certain it was not a textbook takeoff.

All of the people I watched before me were lifted gracefully into the sky. I went careening over the cliff dropping like a rock.

Then, just as I was visualizing multiple fractures, a current grabbed us and hurled us high into the sky. With the impending disaster averted the situation became incredibly cool, unbelievable even.

Click here for more photos of Lima from a paraglider – and hear Veronica’s side of the story!

We made several passes along the shore, drifting out over the ocean and then grabbing a gust and soaring high above the city.

I was actually beginning to relax when a realization hit me, I had no idea how we were supposed to land.

The language barrier between pilot and passenger was something akin to China’s Great Wall, so as we plummeted back down to earth my only instructions were to “stand up.”

Paragliding in Lima Peru

Turns out that was a perfectly good plan, I stood up and that was that. Safe and sound back on good old terra firma.

As much as I enjoyed my flight, it was nothing compared to the excitement Veronica experienced. She was practically babbling incoherently with jubilation after touching down.

WATCH: Veronica’s incredible flight!

I don’t think her feet had made it back to the ground yet as we walked on to the next park, Parque del Amor, The Love Park. We entered the park through a wall that features some of Peru’s most famous poet’s love verses written in mosaic.

It struck me as reminiscent of Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell in Barcelona, but Veronica was focused on something ahead.

The Kiss in Parque del Amor in Lima Peru

The sight of a giant sculpture depicting a couple in full make-out mode seemed to bring her back to the present. This center piece of the park is called El Beso, The Kiss, by Victor Delfín, and has become a favorite meeting place for Lima’s lovers.

It was dedicated on February 14, 1993, and on every Valentine’s Day lovers gather around it for a longest kiss competition.

Seemed like the perfect place to plant a big one on my lover. Might not have thrilled her quite like flying through the sky, but hey, a guy’s got to try.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Cristal, the beer of Peru
Cristal: The beer of Peru.
Street food in Lima, Peru
Street food: Churros!

Click here to see our full adventure with Road Scholar – a not-for-profit organization – through Ecuador, Peru, The Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu and much, much more!

Valentine’s Day Customs from Around the World

Valentine’s Day customs from around the world may vary, but no matter where you go, the theme is the same: love. This is the day when you express your love, but you just might need to learn different ways of doing so… CONTINUE READING >> 

We live in a world where everyone is constantly on the move. With millions living and working abroad, some in countries with very different customs, you might want a Valentines Day guide on how to celebrate expat love.

Valentine’s Day customs from around the world may vary, but no matter where you go, the theme is the same: love. This is the day when you express your love, but you just might need to learn some different ways of doing so.

A Rather Unique Custom in Denmark

While much of the world celebrates Valentine’s Day by sending a bouquet of flowers to the one they love, Denmark has a unique twist on this custom. As a relatively new holiday celebration in Denmark, only being celebrated there since the 1990s, the Danes send pressed white flowers as a token of love.

That custom is sort of appealing in that pressed flowers can be kept forever, just like your love should be – forever. Expat ladies, beware. You might even receive a joke letter, so don’t be dismayed if your love sends you a hilarious poem in lieu of a card!

South Korea’s 60-Day Valentine’s Day Celebration

Some expats live and work in Asia and even with all the advice offered them, the one thing they may not be prepared for is a 60-day celebration of this romantic holiday that is typically celebrated on 14 February elsewhere around the world. The celebration begins in February like everywhere else, but once monthly again in March and April, young lovers will celebrate a ‘follow-up’ Valentine’s Day.

On 14 March, the day is called White Day, when men not only send a card, but they send flowers and a gift on this special day. The celebration culminates on 14 April when single young lovers mourn their still-single status by sharing a bowl of black bean noodles. Dark day, indeed!

Valentine’s Day Mass Weddings in the Philippines

Expats living in the Philippines might expect a marriage proposal in the months leading up to Valentine’s Day, with the wedding to be held on the 14th of February.

According to this International Valentine’s Day Guide About Expat Love, the Philippines is one of the top 3 countries for expats to find romance, and, non-surprisingly, Valentines Day is celebrated in much the same way as it is in the Western World.

However, there is one new tradition which is quickly sweeping the nation. This day of love is now being celebrated with mass weddings around the country, as couples gather en masse to make their vows. Typically, a mass celebration follows.

Valentine’s Day Australian Style (for us)

Jumping out of an airplane may not be for everyone, but it seems like it is in Australia. Most of the people we talked to either had already done it or were planning to soon.

Crazy as that sounds, it was a great way to celebrate… and the TV news even came out for a post jump interview!

So, as you can see, celebrating Valentine’s Day around the world has the same theme. It’s a day of love and expressing your love, it’s just that the way you express that love varies from country to country.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

YOUR TURN: How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? We’d love to hear.

Helping Your Aging Parents Move: A GypsyNester Guide

Helping your folks downsize and move as they get on in years can be a daunting task. The emotions of leaving a place that has been home for many years — along with that elephant in the room, aging — are heavy burdens.

We have recently assisted with three moves with varying degrees of success, and haveCONTINUE READING >> 

The GypsyNesters

Helping your folks downsize and move as they get on in years can be a daunting task. The emotions of leaving a place that has been home for many years — along with that elephant in the room, aging — are heavy burdens.

We have recently assisted with three moves with varying degrees of success, and have these helpful hints to get you through this emotionally charged time of life.

Be compassionate

We were lucky; our parents were all making moves that they wanted to make (well, at least to some degree). This did not mean that the transitions were not emotionally draining.

Remember, your parents are not only saying goodbye to a house. There are cherished memories, close neighbors and treasured keepsakes that must be left behind. They may also be feeling a sense of helplessness at the prospect of giving up independence and freedom.

Consider 55 and older communities can be a thoughtful choice, fostering independence and community while preserving a fulfilling lifestyle for your loved ones.

There will be tension. They will squabble with each other. You may even end up in the line of fire. Be calm, patient and forgiving.

Set an agenda

It is imperative that everyone involved in the move is aware of everyone else’s time constraints. Coordinate ahead with your parents and siblings. The varying degrees of busy lives will dictate the amount of time each person will be able to dedicate to the move. Knowing these limitations ahead of time will lower tension and make the move go smoother.

More knowledge is always better, so learning about their banking, insurance, and medical situations can be a big help. Understanding Medicare with this free course will certainly be worthwhile for both assisting them and us.

Furthermore, gaining insights into seniors’ financial well-being, including their banking and insurance situations, becomes more effective when supplemented with knowledge about Medicare. Considering an alternative to Solutran for managing financial aspects could also be explored, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of available options for providing the best assistance and support.

Lists are essential

You may want to check out the hospital bed for sale that will help provide safety, comfort and greater independence for your aging parents.

Ask your parents to make out lists. The asking is important in and of itself; by suggesting they take the lead, they will feel more comfortable being proactive and you, in turn, will feel less like a child being bossed around.

However, it is a different scenario when your parents are having memory trouble or memory loss. Understanding the progression of Alzheimer’s is crucial for effectively managing tasks and providing support to aging parents during the moving process. As you become more familiar with the stages and symptoms, you can adjust your approach to meet their needs and preferences, resulting in a smoother transition for everyone.

Assigning tasks for each helper will make the job go faster and the lists will lend insight into what is most important to your parents. Ask them for overall task lists then, as the move progresses, have them write out specific daily lists as well.

Everyone’s a hoarder 

It’s true. Your parents may call it collecting, thriftiness or any number of names, but in your eyes, it’s going to look like hoarding (just as your own attic would look to outsiders).

Help them go through their belongings and chose what to let go, then get it to Goodwill or the dumpster as quickly as possible before they change their minds. Some good housekeeping help, such as Las Vegas cleaning services, can be a life saver at this point.

Avoid commenting on the astounding masses of junk — it’s not junk to your parents. It’s their memories, their lives. Don’t be insensitive.

Be kind to the primary caregiver

We’ve been through the relocation process from both the position of primary family caregiver and as the caregiver’s supporting cast. Go  out of your way to help the caregiver through this trying time. Every opinion they have regarding your folks is valid and should be considered.

The caregiver was there before the move and will be there afterwards.  They will be left to deal with any problems that came up during the move after everyone else has gone home. Do your best to be helpful, deferential, and sensitive to his or her unique feelings.

Check In With Your Parents

Making a big move can be challenging for the best of us. Let alone are aging parents who are likely having to deal with a whole host of changes on a daily basis. So be sure to check in with them regularly. This ensures that they’re happy with the process and the decisions that are being made for them.

It’s worth checking in with their caregiver too. Your parents move is an excellent chance to make sure they’re getting the best care possible. And that their current caregiver ticks all the right boxes. If the relationship between the caregiver and yourself or parent isn’t a great fit, look into other senior care services. Home care assistant are great, but it can take time finding the right one. So don’t rush into a new relationship without doing the proper research first.

Furthermore, you can also consider senior living at Evergreen Village to provide your aging parents with a supportive community where they can continue living while receiving the care and assistance they need. Ensuring that aging parents have the necessary support and care during this phase of life is a complex and emotional journey that requires thorough consideration and thoughtful decision-making.

Don’t be pushy

This one seems obvious, but the parent/child relationship can be tricky. You may only have a limited time to help, you may want to get as much done in a small amount of time as possible, but your folks will be overwhelmed. Be gentle.

After the move

Planning and implementation is important, but don’t forget about after the move. When setting the agenda for moving, remember to schedule time for unpacking. Leaving your folks in a new environment surrounded by boxes is not a successful move.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

YOUR TURN: Did we miss anything? Do you have more suggestions? Leave a comment!

This post may contain sponsored links.

The Oude Kerk (Old Church) of Amsterdam

In an odd quirk, Amsterdam’s Oude Kerk, or old church, stands right in the middle of one of the world’s most famous red light districts… CONTINUE READING >> 

Amsterdam's oldest church is surrounded by the red light district
The Old Church is oddly surrounded by the Red Light District.

In an odd quirk, Amsterdam’s Oude Kerk, or old church, stands right in the middle of one of the world’s most famous red light districts.

Beginning in 1213 as a Catholic church, then expanded a century later into the huge stone building it is today, making it not only the city’s oldest church, but the oldest building of any kind.

Originally the church was dedicated to St. Nicolas, the patron saint of sailors, so perhaps that explains the proximity of the prostitution… shore leave and all.

No matter how it happened, it was strange to see sex workers in windows right across from a church.

Ship at a window in the Old Church in Amsterdam

Amsterdam's Old Church has the largest medieval wooden vault left in Europe

After the Reformation in 1566, Holland became predominantly Protestant, and the Oude Kerk followed suite.

The interior was nearly destroyed by angry mobs in a melee that broke out when the people revolted against the excesses of the Catholic Church.

Luckily some of the stained glass windows survived, as well as the amazing wooden roof, the largest medieval wooden vault left in Europe.

Amsterdam's Old Church has the largest medieval wooden vault left in EuropeAnother quirk that struck us as odd was that the entire floor is covered with graves.

The church was built over a cemetery, and the practice of burying people continued inside the building.

Twenty-five-hundred graves, containing around ten thousand souls, were laid here before the practice stopped in 1865.

The entire floor of Oude Kirk, Old Church, in Amsterdam is covered with graves

The mirror room in the Old Church of Amsterdam

Around the outside of the main hall there are several smaller rooms available for private functions, often weddings.

Our favorite of these, the mirror room, was originally used as the office of Marriage Commissioners, but now has found life as popular place for smaller ceremonies.

The grave of Rembrandt's wife, Saskia van Uylenburgh, at the Old Church in Amsterdam, Holland

This was the church Rembrandt attended, had all his children christened in and, in 1634, signed his marriage registry in the Mirror Room.

In 1642, his wife, Saskia van Uylenburgh, was laid to rest in one of the tombs on the floor but, by the time Rembrandt passed away in 1669, he was completely bankrupt and couldn’t afford to join her.

He was instead buried in a multiple grave at Westerkerk near the Anne Frank House.

Brass hand fondling a woman's breast in the cobblestones near the Old Church in Amsterdam, Holland

As we walked out of the Oude Kerk we got one last odd surprise, a brass hand fondling a woman’s breast embedded in the cobblestones of the walkway next to the church.

The story is that an anonymous artist placed it in honor of the local profession in the middle of a February night back in 1993.

Interesting.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Delve Deeper:
See where we stayed in Amsterdam – hint – it’s a houseboat!
Find out how it feels to visit Anne Frank House
Experience the must-do cruise of Amsterdam’s canals
Follow us into the oldest building in Amsterdam – Oude Kerk (Old Church)

HUGE thanks to I Amsterdam for providing the Iamsterdam city cards that made this visit possible! As always, all opinions are our own.

See all of our adventures in Amsterdam!

Which Car to take to Visit Morocco

Whether you choose a compact car for city explore, an SUV for off-road adventure, or a convert for a scenic coastal drive, your choice of vehicle will contribute significant to the overall success of your Moroccan journey… CONTINUE READING >> 

A road trip through the captivating landscape of Morocco is a dream for many travelers. The country’s diverse terrain, ranging from the golden dune of the Sahara Desert to the bustling market of Marrakech, promises a unique and unforgettable experience. The most important decision you have to make before setting off on your Moroccan adventure is to select the right car for your journey to explore Hertz Morocco services. Whether you plan to explore wind mountain road, or a traverse arid desert, or navigate city street, tp choose the appropriate vehicle is important to ensure a smooth and enjoy trip.

The Ideal Vehicle:

Morocco’s varied terrain, and city to remote desert, call for a versatile and reliable vehicle. Choose the ultimate blend of comfort and functional, an SUV or crossover is often recommend. These vehicles provide ample space for both passenger and luggage while offer the necessary ground clear for navigate through Morocco’s diverse landscape. A car with good fuel efficient is also benefit for the long stretch between destinations, ensure you can explore the country without frequent refuel stop.

Considerations for City Travel:

If your itinerary focus on explore the vibrant city of Morocco, such as Casablanca, Fes, or Marrakech, a smaller and more maneuver car may be prefer. Navigate the narrow street of the medina and find park in busy marketplace can be easier with a compact car. Additional, smaller cars are often more fuel-efficient, an essential factor when explor urban area with frequent stop-and-go traffic.

Car Rental in Morocco:

As you delve into the type of car suitable for your Moroccan journey, it is important to the option of car rental. Morocco has establish network of car rental agency that cater to the need for tourist. Major city, airport, and popular tourist destination offer a variety of rental option, which allow the traveler to choose a vehicle that suit their preference and requirement. It advise to book your rental car in advance to secure the best rate and ensure available, especial during peak travel season.

Choosing the Right Car:

    • Compact Cars:

For traveler explore the narrow street of Morocco historic medina or navigate crowd urban area, compact car are an excellent choice. They offer easy maneuverability and are well-suite for tight park space.

    • SUVs and other Crossovers:

If your are planning a trip include to off-road adventure, such as you want to explore the Atlas Mountain or venture into the Sahara Desert, then you should consider rent an SUV or crossover. These vehicle provide better ground clearance and stabile on uneven terrain.

    • Convertible Cars:

Experience the freedom of Morocco scenic coastal road to rent a convert. With the wind in your hair and the sun shine, convert cars are perfect for a leisure drive along the beautiful Atlantic or Mediterranean coastline.

    • Minivans or Larger Vehicles:

Travel with a group or carry a significant amount of luggage? Opt for a minivan or a larger vehicle to ensure everyone travel comfortable with ample space for belonging.

    • Eco-Friendly Options:

For environmentally conscious travelers, some car rental agency in Morocco offer hybrid or electric vehicle. These option are not only eco-friendly but also cost-effective in term of fuel efficient.

Conclusion:

Selecting the right car is important step to ensure a memorable and enjoy road trip through Morocco. Consider your itinerary, the size of your travel party, and the type of terrain you’ll encounter when make your decision. Whether you choose a compact car for city explore, an SUV for off-road adventure, or a convert for a scenic coastal drive, your choice of vehicle will contribute significant to the overall success of your Moroccan journey. With the convenience of car rental service read available, you can hit the road and explore Morocco at your own pace, create last memory along the way.

Glacier National Park in the Wintertime on Amtrak’s Empire Builder

Catching the Empire Builder at the picturesque Whitefish Depot, our snowy early morning trip had us glued to the windows of The Sightseer Lounge as we snaked our way through the The Lewis Range… CONTINUE READING >> 

Sunrise over the train depot in Whitefish Montana

Catching the Empire Builder at the picturesque Whitefish Depot, our snowy early morning trip had us glued to the windows of The Sightseer Lounge as we snaked our way through the The Lewis Range along The Middle Fork Flathead River.

Other than snowshoes or cross-country skis, this really is the optimal method of Glacier Park winter exploration.

Not surprisingly we, not being big on the idea of walking the icy wilderness with tennis rackets or two-by-fours strapped to our feet, or icicles hanging from our noses, chose the comfort and luxury option of Amtrak.

Click here for our full trip on Amtrak’s iconic Empire Builder

Glacier was designated a National Park on May 11, 1910, after lobbying efforts by The Great Northern Railway. Most all of the park’s early development was directly related to the railroad, in fact The Great Northern built several lodges to increase their tourist traffic.

Glacier National Park from Amtrak's Empire Builder!

The train skirts along the southern border of the park, and we wore the shutters out on our cameras while climbing up to 5,213 feet to cross the Continental Divide at Marias Pass. From there one could truthfully say, “it’s all downhill from here.”

Click here for our full trip on Amtrak’s iconic Empire Builder

Glacier National Park from Amtrak's Empire Builder!

Glacier National Park from Amtrak's Empire Builder!

Click here for our full trip on Amtrak’s iconic Empire Builder

Glacier National Park from Amtrak's Empire Builder!

Glacier National Park from Amtrak's Empire Builder!

The Empire Builder rounds a bend through Glacier National Park

Click here for our full trip on Amtrak’s iconic Empire Builder

Glacier National Park through the Dome Car on Amtrak's Empire Builder

Glacier National Park from the Sightseer Lounge on Amtrak's Empire Builder

Click here for our full trip on Amtrak’s iconic Empire Builder

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com