Tag Archives: Moving

Welcome to the Sunshine State!

It’s official—we are back in the United States. Our move to Fort Lauderdale, Florida was our sixth relocation in just under two years. That’s right—we’ve moved six times in the course of 677 days. Five of those moves were between different countries. Two were between different continents and two were with a child less than one-year-old. Whew!

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Sunrise in the front of our apartment building.

We’re getting pretty good at packing and eliminating excess. With each move it gets a little easier to leave behind what isn’t absolutely necessary and buy pretty much just what we need at our next location. We really lucked out in Florida because our corporate apartment came well-stocked with the essentials—like coffee cups and wine glasses. We even have an egg slicer, cheese shaver and several bottle openers. Strangely enough, though, we don’t have a spatula.

It feels weird to be back in the U.S. after nearly two years, but it is nice to have more freedom to get around. Because of where we lived in Monterrey and the fact that I didn’t drive in Mexico, Baby Girl and I were fairly confined to our little neighborhood when Matt was working. Here, however, Matt carpools to work so I have a car several days each week. Plus there’s a lot more for us to do in Florida—even on days we don’t have the car. Baby Girl is taking swim classes, I found a gym called Mommycise that caters to moms and babies and there’s a beach and state park within a five minute walk from our apartment. I keep joking with Matt that it feels like we are on a bit of a vacation because it’s so much easier to get around and communicate with people out and about.

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Strolling the beach with Baby Girl.

That said, we’ll be excited to get back out into the international scene. Traveling—and racking up passport stamps—is pretty addicting. Still, we are taking full advantage of being back in the States for a few months.

On our first weekend in town, we took a water taxi down the Intracoastal Waterway, which operates like a hop-on, hop-off bus. It took us past the waterfront homes of the rich and famous and offered stops for various attractions along the route, including the 15th Street Fisheries and Las Olas Boulevard. We took the water taxi to Las Olas Boulevard and got off to admire the stretch of cute little restaurants and shops that is so quintessentially American. There was an art festival going on, so after stopping for some wine, beer and a light lunch, we strolled past the booths and talked about the types of pieces we’d want for our future home.

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Fort Lauderdale from the water taxi.

That Sunday we planned to go to the beach, but the wind was blowing so hard, we decided to just go for a walk instead. Even just walking along the sidewalk near the beach we were blasted with bits of sand and spray from the crashing waves. Baby girl was tucked safely away in her stroller, but Matt had to hold on tight because the wind kept trying to blow her ride off course. As we walked, we were amused at, but had to admire, the spring breakers who weren’t going to let large waves and chilly wind gusts kill their vibe.

This past weekend we attended the annual Fort Lauderdale St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade. The main festivities were at Huizenga Plaza, which sits on the waterfront downtown. Booths hawking Irish-themed food, clothing and, of course, drinks decked the perimeter of the park and a large stage in the center was the focal point of the entertainment. We got there shortly before the parade started, so we grabbed a quick lunch of Irish bangers, cupcakes and beer.

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The parade started at noon and lasted well over an hour. We watched for a while and Baby Girl humored us because she had cold peaches to enjoy, but eventually we all had enough of the sun and went in search of shade and refreshment. We ended up strolling down along the riverfront and admiring all of the boats sailing up and down it.

Sunday we finally made it out to the beach. The weather threatened rain, but it thankfully held off. We were able to try out our new beach tent and relax to the sound of the crashing waves.

Living in Florida, it almost feels like we picked right back up where we left off in Atlanta—except this time we have a baby. As was typical of our former stateside life, our weekend are quickly booking up. Starting in May, pretty much every weekend is booked up until August when we’ll be getting ready for our next adventure. I’ll give you two hints where we are headed: we are studying Mandarin and practicing with chopsticks whenever we get a chance.

Stay tuned for more Florida adventures. If you have any tips for fun, family-friendly things to do here, please leave them in the comments!

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Our Next Destination is….Venice!

*Note: Photo above is actually from Destin, Florida but I don’t have any images from Ft. Lauderdale yet. 

Well, the Venice of the U.S. that is…Ft. Lauderdale! Yes, next week we will be trading in tacos and salsa for Target (woohoo!) and beaches. This will be our first time living in the U.S. for almost two years and Baby Girl’s first time living in the States—ever.

We weren’t thrilled when we found out we were being sent to Florida for Matt’s next assignment. After all, we gave up quite a bit to see the world—and the state below our home state doesn’t count! However, we should only be there until August and it’ll give us a chance to see some family and friends and get some things done before we are back on the other side of the pond again. After Florida, we are reportedly heading to Asia.

So, we’re going to make the most of the next few months. I’m going to get my Target fix and I know Matt’s looking forward to some good, craft beer. We’ve signed Baby Girl up for swim classes and we’re planning a cruise in May. The next few months will be pretty busy and, before you know it, we’ll be back to our expat life. Come to think of it, we may feel like expats in our own country after having lived out of it for a while.

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I still have some adventures from Mexico to write about (including a trip to Cancun this coming weekend), so stay tuned for those. I promise I won’t just spend the next six months writing about bumming it on the beach and daily weekly trips to Target.

Let the adventure continue!

Bienvenido a Monterrey

It’s quiet here this afternoon.* In a surprising twist on the day, my baby girl, who spent the morning dramatically crying every time I set her down or moved out of her eyesight, fell asleep ON HER OWN! I put her on her play mat so I could run to the bathroom. She put up a brief fuss, but was conked out by the time I returned two minutes later. Not only that, but she’s stayed asleep for almost 45 minutes!

This never happens. She sleeps on her own at night, but prefers to sleep snuggled up on mommy or daddy during the day. Either she is turning the corner on napping at the ripe old age of two months—or she’s just that tired from getting up at 6:30 this morning. Whatever the case, it’s letting me get some writing in!

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Mommy’s little helper asleep on the job!
We are spending the day in our bright, new apartment in Monterrey. The view from our home on the 5th floor is stunning. We stare out at the foothills of the Sierra Madres and are positioned such that we can see both sunrise and sunset!

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We arrived in Monterrey last Thursday after what was supposed to be a one-day trip turned into two days of travel. Our flights took us from Toulouse to Paris to Atlanta and then Monterrey. As is typical at Charles de Gaulle (at least in Matt’s and my experience), our flight leaving Paris was delayed making our short connection in Atlanta even tighter.

After clearing customs in Atlanta, we had to collect our luggage and send it back through security. It was there we noticed the car seat we gate checked was missing its booster cushion. So we stopped to put in a claim with the Delta baggage agents right away in case it was still on the plane or luggage cart. This delay, coupled with the long lines in customs and security, caused us to miss our connection to Monterrey.

Unfortunately that was the last flight out of Atlanta to Monterrey for the night. So we ended up having to stay the night in Atlanta. Thankfully the Delta agent in the Sky Lounge had us get a bag of toiletries from the showers there, because all we had was a backpack full of diapers and change of clothes for baby girl. Matt and I picked up t-shirts from one of the airport shops so we’d at least have something clean to wear the next day and, fortunately, the gift shop in the hotel sold women’s underwear.

The next morning we made our way back to the airport bright and early and picked up some Subway breakfast sandwiches. We quickly learned that you can’t take outside food into the Sky Lounge. Who knew?

Our flight out of Atlanta was delayed an hour due to a flat tire. We’d already boarded so it was interesting trying to keep baby girl happy while we sat at the gate. I was trying to time nursing her with takeoff to help with ear pressure, but that was a little difficult since we had no idea when we were taking off. Fortunately she was pretty happy just to sleep (which is what she mostly did on all three flights—she was an excellent flyer!).

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Yes, that’s a baby under my scarf.
We finally arrived to Monterrey close to 1:00 p.m. We made it through passport control smoothly, but when we got to baggage claim we discovered our baby crib never made it on the plane from Atlanta. That’s, you know, kind of important when you have nothing else for your baby to sleep in at your new apartment. It took us from Thursday until Sunday night to get our crib back. Fortunately our leasing office was able to borrow a crib for us in the meantime. Delta was disappointingly blasé about the whole thing.

After you collect your bags in Monterrey, you go through customs in the baggage claim area. There’s a button you have to push that determines if you need to go through further inspection. It’s completely random. If it lights up green, you are free to go (as long as you don’t raise any red flags). If it turns red, you have to open up all your bags and the police have to dig through them. After such a long trip, we were praying for green—and, when they saw we were with an infant, I’m pretty sure the police were rooting for green as well. Matt made me press the button. There was a collective intake of breath from everyone standing there waiting to see what we would get.

The light was green. We could go.

The next ordeal was trying to get all of our bags into our rental car. Even though the cars here are bigger than in Europe, it took us three tries to find one that could hold us and all of our stuff. Finally, though, we were on our way to our new home.

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So one week later, we are pretty much settled into our new apartment. We haven’t been out much yet (other than a run to WalMart and Matt going to work), but this weekend we plan to do a little exploring. So far, though very different from France, Mexico is pretty nice. I mean, how can you go wrong when every day is #TacoTuesday?

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*Admittedly this post took me a couple of days to finish. Baby girl ended up sleeping for 45 minutes, so I only got about halfway through the post. At least for this week, it was a fluke that she fell asleep on her own. In fairness, though, I think we are going through a “wonder week.”

29 Weeks and Limbo

I currently feel like I am stuck in a movie. One where the hero and heroine have faced and overcome some incredible, life-changing obstacles and are starting to walk off into their golden sunset when, suddenly, the storm clouds roll in and a dark villainous voice mocks them saying, “not so fast, my pretties, not so fast.”

Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but even with all the last minute changes and moves we’ve faced in the past year, we had hope that, once we got back to Toulouse from Germany, we’d settle down for a few months and peacefully await the birth of our first child. “Ha ha!” says the villain. “Think again!”

Yep, we are currently in limbo with just about two months left until I go into labor waiting to hear if we have to move to Doha, Qatar next week. The adventurous side of me is kind of excited by the prospect of a new country, but the hormonal, seven-month pregnant part of me is admittedly freaking out. I think I’ve set a personal record for waking up in tears this past week. Six days and counting. Poor Matt.

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We arrived back in Toulouse on Saturday evening and were warmly greeted by one of our favorite staff members at our hotel. They’d put us on the top floor in a room with a balcony and this incredible view.

We lugged all of our bags upstairs and crashed on the couch, ordering dinner from a new food delivery service in Toulouse called Take Eat Easy. The ability to read the menu and place our orders online without struggling through a conversation in French was a lifesaver (especially since my mind is still stuck in German-mode).

Moving is exhausting no matter who you are, but I can tell you it’s no easy feat at 29 weeks pregnant—especially when it’s up to you and your husband to lug seven suitcases, three backpacks and a body pillow to and from the airport. On a positive note, a sweet Lufthansa flight attendant snuck me a little bag of gummy bears and chocolate bar on our flight to Toulouse—for the baby, of course! A father of two, he obviously knows the way to a pregnant lady’s heart.

Sunday morning we ran out to the Saint-Aubin market to pick up a roasted chicken, fruit, veggies (asparagus and strawberry season—woohoo!) and, of course, a baguette, but the rest of the day was spent binge watching “Homeland” on Netflix. This meme pretty aptly describes me all day yesterday.

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Today I faced the dreaded, third trimester glucose test. Matt was sweet enough to go with me and keep me company for the two-hour ordeal. I’d been researching what to expect though various pregnancy boards and apps, but wasn’t quite prepared for three blood draws!

They drew a couple of vials to start with, then I had to drink a nasty bottle of what was basically an orange syrup. After an hour, they drew another vial of blood and then I had to wait one additional hour so they could draw a final vial of blood. Oh, and I wasn’t allowed to eat until after the test. Needless to say, neither Baby Girl nor I were very happy by the end of it. Matt, smart man (and amazing husband) that he is, made us lunch immediately after we got back to the hotel. Still, I’ve been starving all day. Maybe that’s why I’ve pretty much demolished this bag of popcorn in the last 15 minutes.

The bag says it is a perfect size for sharing. Ha ha, Tyrrell’s, ha ha.
As an expat (especially one in our ever-changing situation), there are some things you may not get to enjoy, such as a baby shower with your family and closest friends, or building a dream nursery for your new baby. We knew these sacrifices going into the job (and when trying to get pregnant) and have been trying to make the best of things.

Over the last two months, I dreamed about coming back to Toulouse and hitting the ground running to finish preparing for our daughter’s birth. In addition to purchasing and organizing all of the things we need for a baby, I was going to register with a midwife for birthing classes and sign up for a month of French lessons so I could at least semi-communicate with the nurses and doctors while in labor. We were even working on some pre-baby visits from my mom and several friends. Though there was still much we couldn’t anticipate (i.e. when our little angel will make her appearance), we had a plan—a plan that may suddenly be out the window.

The nesting instinct has hit me hard, but instead of organizing and cleaning to my heart’s content, we’re currently living in the land of suitcases. They’re sprawled out across our living room floor with contents creeping further out as we dig through them looking for underwear and socks.

The inner nester in me is not pleased, but the 29-weeks pregnant part of myself says, “eff it. I’m burning enough calories on my 32 runs to the bathroom every two hours. There’s not enough chocolate in the world to motivate me to unpack nine suitcases just to repack them again in a few days.”

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We’ve given Matt’s company a deadline of Thursday to make a decision. So we just have to make it through the next few days of limbo and probably some morning tears. I’ll keep you all posted on what we find out!

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A Farewell to Frankfurt

This is a week of beginnings and endings. Today marks the start my third trimester (cue the “Jaws” theme song—she’s coming!). It’s also our last week in Frankfurt.

In honor of these last 12ish weeks of pregnancy, I thought I’d share a fun meme I found on Pinterest. Who doesn’t like a little Napoleon Dynamite?

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Saturday we move back to Toulouse, France where we’ll hunker down at least until the end of August. Let the nesting begin!

We didn’t spend a long time in Frankfurt—only about five weeks total since we went back to the States for two weeks—but we’ve really enjoyed getting to know this little city a little better. Matt’s been working the evening shift since we returned from Arizona, so we’ve used our mornings to explore the city. I’m working on an article about fun activities to do in Frankfurt, but will wait to post until we’ve hit the last spots on our list this week.

In the meantime, here are a few things I’ll miss about living in Frankfurt.

Speaking German
Though I certainly didn’t become fluent in our short time here, it’s been fun to relearn the language I studied for five years and fly stumble my way through some basic conversations. Most of those conversations have revolved around food or shopping, but I have managed to dialogue with a few people without either of us switching to English once. I’ve also really enjoyed my husband’s attempt to read and translate German.

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Actual Translation: Family Fairytale Ride. Matt’s Translation: Crop-Dusting.
Cheese Bread and Pretzels
France does amazing bread, that I’ll admit, but German bakeries hold the key to my heart with their fresh baked Bretzels (pretzels) and Käsebrötchen (cheese rolls). There’s something about biting into the hard outer shell of my favorite, twisty treats and tasting the combination of soft dough and salt on my tongue. As for the cheese rolls, well, they consist of chewy, fresh bread smothered in toasted cheese. ‘Nuff said.

Hand Cheese
Again, France has some amazing cheeses, but no one does hand cheese like Frankfurt. The delightfully soft and slightly salty cheese is best covered in a generous amount of vinegar and onions and served on a slice of buttered bread. Caraway seeds are an optional, though traditional, addition.

In-Room Washer and Dryer
These may sound like strange things to miss, but apartment-hotel living is so much more pleasant when you have a washer and dryer in your own room. Instead of trudging up and down to the common laundry room with a big basket of clothes, hoping the machines are open, you can do a load or two here or there at your convenience—and you don’t need to double-check to make sure you have correct change! Our hotel in Toulouse only has a shared laundry room, so if you hear crying on Saturday, it’s me struggling to say goodbye to our washer and dryer in Frankfurt.

Frankfurt Friends
When moving to a new city, it’s always nice to know someone who’s willing to introduce you to your new home. I was fortunate to know my friend, Eva, when we moved to Frankfurt. Even though she and I had only met once before (at a work function several years back), she and her husband were gracious enough to take us to dinner right after we got here (at Fichtekraenzi) and we met up again with them (as well as Eva’s brother and sister-in-law) for brunch at Langosch am Main (an awesome little restaurant down near the river) this past Sunday.

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Matt’s Meat Plate at Brunch
The four of them were so open and friendly that conversation flowed and it felt like we’d known them for years. Hanging out with them was one of the highlights of living here and it made Frankfurt feel like home—even if just for a short while.

We only lived here for a brief time, but Frankfurt (and Germany) will always have a special place in our hearts. Stay tuned for more on our adventures in Frankfurt and the weekend trips we took while we were here. In the meantime, I have a pretzel to track down. The baby insists!

On the Move Again: Frankfurt, Germany

Last week I mentioned an impending move to Germany. Over the weekend, that move happened. For the next month and a half, we will be living in Frankfurt am Main (or Frankfurt on the Main River).

Life has a funny way of working out. As I’ve mentioned before, I studied German in high school and college, but never took the opportunity to study abroad. I’ve always regretted that. Now, however, I’m getting a second chance. Though the last minute nature of the move was pretty stressful, I’m grateful for a chance to practice my German and experience more of the culture here.

We arrived in Frankfurt on Monday toting seven suitcases, two backpacks and one body pillow. The guard at security gave my pillow a strange look until he glanced at my belly then he kind of smiled and nodded me through the metal detector. I guess it’s pretty obvious I’m pregnant at this point.

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I am not a good flyer. Before I was pregnant, I would temper my nerves with a little adult beverage. That’s off the table now, so I’ve turned to music and reading my Kindle. That works fine for the most part, until we hit turbulence. Now I know turbulence is a normal part of flying and, as often as I’ve traveled via plane, I should be used to it by now. Right? Wrong. The littlest bit of turbulence and I turn into a quivering mess. Matt got the fun task of calming this hot mess on a very choppy and windy flight on Monday. My poor baby was probably like, “Mommy, what the hell is going on out there? It’s nice and peaceful in here. Chill, woman.”

Thankfully we made it and the landing in Frankfurt was surprisingly smooth in the face of the strong gusts that were visibly rocking our plane. Well done, Lufthansa pilots. Well done.

After somehow squeezing all of our luggage into our rented Audi A5, we drove to our new home for the next sevenish weeks (yes, we’ve been reduced to planning in “ishs”). The apartment-hotel we are staying in is newly constructed, but homey. It is right across the street from a shopping mall (complete with a Starbucks, McDonald’s, Chipotle and KFC) and close to a train station. We were greeted in our room with a little basket of Italian goodies. Such a nice touch!

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We dropped off our luggage and immediately headed to Rewe (pronounced Rey-vey), a German grocery chain, to stock up on stuff for our next few meals. I have to admit one of my favorite things to do in a new country is to go shopping at the grocery store. It’s fun to see what foods and brands are popular and I think it tells a lot about the culture of the country.

We picked up the requisite sausage and sauerkraut, but I also decided to try some curry ketchup (I’m not really a fan of regular ketchup) and found it surprisingly tasty. It was a little tangier than typical ketchup and had a fairly mild curry flavor even though it was labeled “scharf” (or sharp).

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Though there were obviously a number of European brands, we also found a few American brands (albeit with gloriously long German words to describe the product).

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Over the next few weeks, I’ll do some exploring and write more about the experience of living in Germany and the differences (and similarities) between here, France and the U.S. In the meantime, here’s a view of the skylines of my two most recent home cities: Toulouse and Frankfurt.

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How to Live in a Hotel without Really Trying

These days I’m feeling like the grown-up version of Eloise, the little girl who lived in the Plaza Hotel in NYC. I don’t have a dog named Weenie nor a British nanny and so far we haven’t been put at the “tipy-top” floor, but for all intents and purposes the hotels we are staying in are “home.” This is life for the next few years, so I’m learning to adapt and have come up with some tips based on my experience thus far.

1. Buy fresh flowers. My mother-in-law suggested fresh flowers might make our hotel room feel a bit more like home (and, fortunately, she passed this tip along to her son as well–thanks, Mom!). She was right! Staging a fresh bouquet or two around the room really brightens the place up and we don’t have to worry about packing the flowers when we head to our next location.

2. Stage a few framed photos.  Hotel living doesn’t really afford the opportunity to pick out our own paintings or couch cushions, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put out a few small, framed photos to personalize our room a bit. Even when we were in Columbus for two days, I put out our photos to help us get in the mindset of normalcy vs. feeling like we were embarking on a vacation (not that there’s anything wrong with feeling like we’re on vacation, but eventually we’d want to go “home,” so we’re making home come with us).

3. For that matter, unpack–at least a little. We’ll only be in Connecticut for a week and a half before we head to Miami for four days. It doesn’t make sense to unpack every single item we brought, but Matt hung his suits in the closet and I took over a drawer for workout gear. By making the things we use frequently more accessible, we spend less time pawing through our bags to find what we hope we packed.

4. Get on a normal routine. As referenced above, living in and working from a hotel can make it easy to feel like you’re on an extended vacation but, for us anyway, this is not sustainable. Matt has a job he has to go to every day and I am determined to translate my writing into a legitimate career. That means we need to have a good balance and diligence about working towards our goals. We worked out nearly every morning when we were living in Atlanta, so we’ve resumed that routine and are taking advantage of our hotel gym. While our hotel offers a full breakfast, including the daily temptations of bacon, sausage or corned beef hash, we are trying to stick with healthy choices such as yogurt, cereal and fruit–like we ate in Atlanta.

5. But take advantage of the amenities your hotel provides. Sure, there are challenges to hotel living (such as limited storage space and having only a cooktop vs. a full oven and stove), but we also don’t have to take out the trash, clean the bathroom or make the bed. I’m still trying to keep things fairly tidy, but I don’t mind not having to scrub a toilet for a while. There are other advantages too, like the Monday-Thursday happy hour our hotel offers. A free glass of wine at the end of the night? I don’t mind if I do.

If there’s anything our new life has taught us so far it’s that home is what you make it. At the end of the day, where Matt and I are together–that’s home. The rest is just icing on the cake.

Part Two: Connecticut

We woke up this morning in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Yesterday was a long day of travel as we drove the hour and a half from Columbus up to the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, flew to Charlotte and then connected with our flight to Connecticut. Needless to say, we were exhausted by the time we reached our hotel.

Transporting six stuffed suitcases, two backpacks and two camera bags is quite an experience and actually rather comical. When we got to Hartsfield, we were fortunate enough to see a guy with an American Airlines cart and begged him to help us get our luggage inside so I could wait with it while Matt could go drop off our rental car. He helped me lug everything to a corner in front of the American Airlines check-in counter and I waited there for Matt to return.

When Matt got back, we stacked our bags on each other as best as possible and dragged them to the U.S. Airways counter (my biggest bag is just about half the size of me–both in height and weight!). The agent checking our bags couldn’t believe how much we had with us and warned us that our two biggest bags, which were both about 15 pounds overweight, would cost extra money. We shrugged and told her it is what it is and to go on and charge the extra fee. The transportation of our bags ended up costing more than our flights!

Our flight to Charlotte was slightly delayed due to President Obama being there, so Matt and I figured there was no way our bags would all make it to our connecting flight–but they did (yay for U.S. Airways!). We realized as we were approaching Connecticut that we had a bit of a conundrum–we had to both pick up our rental car and collect six bags from baggage claim.

At first we loaded Matt up with our two backpacks and camera bags and thought he should go get the car while I got the bags, but we quickly realized it would be near impossible for me to get everything out the door, let alone across the street to the passenger pick up.

So we collected our bags together, stacked them up again and lugged them outside. Luckily the bus for our rental car company showed up within about five minutes and the very kind driver helped us load everything on board. We took up most of the baggage space–fortunately, we were the only two on board.

Our driver was kind enough to bring us right to our car in the rental lot. He then proceeded to help us, literally, stuff our bags into the trunk and backseat. It was definitely tight, but we managed to get everything in.

I’m sure we’ll have a whole process for transporting our luggage down soon. Have any tips? Please share in the comments below.

Transporting our luggage to the rental car lot.

First Stop: Columbus, GA

Our journey has officially begun. Yesterday we left Atlanta and began the trek down to Columbus, GA. We’ll be here the next two days as Matt takes some classes to prepare for his new job.

Last view of Atlanta
Last view of Atlanta

We officially left Atlanta at about 3:00 yesterday afternoon. Sunday was a long day of cleaning and packing that started at 6:45 when we left our friends Brian and Ashley’s place (we crashed there that night after a long day of brunch followed by Dogwood Festival followed by dinner and drinks). We said final goodbyes to Lucky, who had slept with us in the guestroom that night, before we began our final, sad walk to the place we called home. My eyes welled up as I gently guided Lucky into his crate to wait for his new parents to awake, but I didn’t cry. I think my body at this point was empty of all tears after bawling on Friday night and getting hit with the occasional tear shower on Saturday (I’m sure my dehydration had nothing to do with the beer, pickle backs and salty foods we consumed Friday night and Saturday).

On our journey back we walked through a beautiful new park to the rear of Ponce City Market. It stretches between Ralph McGill and North and is framed on one side with new apartments. The other side backs up to what looks like a lot for Georgia Power. The cement trail running through it winds itself around a large pond featuring cool fountains and a wide, man-made waterfall. The sun was just coming up and we strolled hand-in-hand through the park enjoying both it and the quiet beauty of the morning. We laughed as we walked through it about finding a cool new gem on our last day in Atlanta.

Our walk home took us by the new Dancing Goats Coffee Bar on North. We stopped and got Arden’s Garden juice (Matt had orange juice and I got a pineapple-apple-ginger concoction. Both were very good) and two nonfat lattes. We walked the rest of the way home sipping on our coffees and talking about our excitement and fears for the journey ahead (the juice we chugged before we even left the cafe). It felt surreal that we only had a few hours left in our city.

The rest of the morning was a veritable blur of packing and cleaning. My cousin, Brady, came to say goodbye and the carpet cleaner finally got there around 10. Though we were both exhausted from a weekend of partying (and a week leading up to it of packing and cleaning) and fairly emotionally drained from the heartache of saying goodbye to our pets and our friends, we did have a tearful moment when Matt found a dog treat Lucky had “hidden” in the dining room. He came into the bathroom I was cleaning with tears running down his face and pulled me out to see where the little doggy bagel we gave Lucky on Friday morning was neatly tucked in the corner of the now-empty dining room. We embraced and squeezed each other tight as we thought about our loving little puppy.

At about noon, we took a quick break to grab a bite at Papi’s Grill (a wonderful authentic Cuban restaurant tucked into a building on the corner of Ponce and Myrtle). We shared a bowl of black bean soup and I got pollo vaca frita while Matt got the ropa vieja. The soup was light and had just the right amount of seasoning. My chicken was savory and was mixed with sauteed green and red pepper. It came with black beans, rice, plantains and a green salad. I didn’t try Matt’s dish, but I’ve had the ropa vieja there before and it is delicious! I recommend trying Papi’s if you are ever in the area.

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Black bean soup and pollo vaca frita

After lunch, we returned once more to our condo and completed our last bit of packing and cleaning. We stood there for a moment when we were done with our six suitcases and hugged as we stared around our first home together. It’s a strange feeling to see your entire lives in just a handful of bags. On the one hand, it’s freeing knowing you are tied to so few possessions, on the other it’s a little nostalgic and scary to give up the life you are used to for a new one that’s not yet clearly defined past the next three weeks.

Our life in six suitcases (and a couple of backpacks)
Our life in six suitcases (and a couple of backpacks)

Once we had everything loaded into Matt’s car, we headed to the airport where we picked up our rental car to get us around the next few days. We then headed to CarMax where we sold Matt’s car. I joked as we left the lot that we are now officially car-less and homeless.

Our next stop was Longhorn Steakhouse. We were hungry and still had an hour and a half drive, so decided to grab dinner before making the last leg of our journey that night. The restaurant was absolutely packed, so we ended up sitting at the bar. A very chatty guy in his 50’s sat next to us and struck up a conversation with us. He was very interested in our lives and where we were headed. We learned he was from Pittsburgh, but was down in Georgia for work for a couple of weeks. Neither Matt nor I really felt like talking as we were both so tired at that point, but I realized that this guy was just like me now. We’re going to be in a lot of places where we don’t know another soul, so keeping this guy company at dinner was worth exerting the last bit of energy I had left in me for the day. Once we were back on the road, though, I almost immediately fell asleep.

We arrived at our hotel in Columbus at about 8:00, leaving us just enough time to check in, make a bowl of popcorn and tune in to the season premier of Game of Thrones. Our new life has officially begun.