Subscribe Here

Enter your email address & be notified when we blog:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Let's Connect!

Member of Top Travel Content Europe

Use a Feed Reader?

Search Our Site
Support Us by Shopping Amazon

If you're going to be shopping at Amazon anyway - do it from here. It won't cost you any more than usual and it'll help us out. Thanks!

Powered by Squarespace
Travel Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory hit counters
« Less Is Sometimes More, and Hard Is Often Good | Main | Small Towns Everywhere »

A Good Problem To Have

We've spent the last few weeks working on the calendar, trying to figure how to puzzle out the next few months. It's a megillah! But still - figuring out where you're going to travel next, and how to puzzle everything together, is a good problem to have.

We've just booked seven weeks in a little town in the south of France called Saint Quentin la Poterie. I am the luckiest girl in the Whole Wide World. We got a good rate on the house from Joe, the owner. Joe is a chef and writer, and lived in Saint Quentin (that's what us locals call it) for 12 years before moving to Canada. Joe has even volunteered to introduce us to his friends!!

I have visions of lovely idyllic days in our little town. The butcher in this town will be super-friendly! Not like some crazy Polish Butcher Ladies we know! The baker will be reserved, yet polite, and will favor his pastries over his bread. Like this guy:

You see there is the boulangerie problem: the man is either a good bread man or a good pastry man. The man at that Boulangerie, his heart is in his pastry. The bread suffers.

~from Rick Steves' "Postcards From Europe"

A local took this pic. Check out MasRaffin.comThe baker in Saint Quinten will be a pastry man all the way, much to my children's delight. This way I won't gain 20 pounds while living there, because I am absolutely a bread girl!

I also plan to run across the perfect little basket in my entryway. I'll use it every day to bring home cheese and wine. On Saturdays I'll walk to Uzés (the bigger town just outside of my little town) for Market Day to buy vegetables. Never mind that it's only April. The farmers will have miraculously early crops. Also - friends will suddenly decide to pop over for visits from abroad! The only thing that worries me is that I just recently read 'Chocolat,' and I'm not nearly as winning as Juliette Binoche... Hopefully there's not a pyro-maniacle priest in our little town.

It will all be lovely, except that we won't all be together for most of it. Both Bob and I are going back to LA to work, but at separate times. Bob will be in LA for four weeks, and I'll be there for two. It will be the longest this family has ever been apart, and the kids are already fretting about not having their dad around. I'm having a worry or two about spending a month, without my man, in a small town where I don't speak the language. But mostly I'm cool. It's a very good problem to have. We are so incredibly lucky to be able to do the kind of work that can make this possible. The money we make will be a lifesaver, and the hours we bank will keep our health insurance going. 

I'll be going back to LA first, in a week actually. The timing means that Bob has to move the family to France from Scotland by himself while I'm gone.


So we have little more than two weeks together in St Quentin. Then we'll have a month left in Schengen Zone Europe before they kick us out. It's kind of a bummer. Should we stay in Saint Quentin a few more weeks? Should we save our visa days for renting a car and traveling through Spain, Italy, somehow over to Greece? What's the cheapest way to do it all? Again, good problems to have. Yet, also problems that need decisions to be made, one dominoed next to the other -- and all of them costing money. Of course, it might be time to get the hell outa Euro-Dodge, and go somewhere our money stretches farther, 'cause the coffers -- they run low. Pounds and euros continue to kick our dollar-earning butts.

I digress.

After Europe, we hope for Morocco (which had to be pushed out of March because I'm going to work. Good problem) and Egypt and maybe Turkey, if we can figure it out. I'm spending hours and hours comparing flights and ferries from one place to another, learning about which countries in the region have closed borders, and weighing the options of planes, trains, and automobiles. I don't have much time. I'd like to get this leg booked before I leave for LA. Honestly - I'm a bit overwhelmed, and I have to remind myself at times about the good problem thing.

That brings us to about the end of June, when vacation season is in full swing. Most people planned their trip for this summer sometime last summer, so we're a little behind the ball. We like it this way. We must, because we don't seem to ever do it any differently. But it's a bit stressful at times. We can go anywhere we want, as long as it's super-cheap to live there. So this summer -  the third-world is our oyster. And that's pretty awesome.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (10)

A very good problem indeed! I think the uncertainty would likely drive me to the edge, but I think it's great that you can handle it so well.
Just found your blog today and plan to follow for a bit. . .

Mar 6, 2010 at 7:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterDana

If you're already going to Turkey, try Georgia!

Mar 6, 2010 at 7:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterJess

What do you do about health insurance? I'm shopping for American coverage right now and only Blue of CA seems to offer int'l coverage with the policy. (Yes, I know it's all free in UK and France is the best free health on planet earth, but like you, we are planning on traveling worldwide). Thanks!!

Mar 6, 2010 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterBethany

I'll answer the health insurance question here, since we actually get asked a lot. We keep ourselves insured through our job in the US. Internationally we're not insured - those fabulous national health policies in other countries don't apply to travelers. We recently paid full price for private health care service in the UK, (an absolute fortune!!!) and then will get reimbursed by our insurance in the US (hopefully!)
That's been our experience anyway.

Mar 6, 2010 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered Commenterbrenna

I absolutely recommend Egypt, it's the best place I've been!

Mar 6, 2010 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterCrissy

"A good problem to have"... that's a nice inspiring twist of reality to wake up with on a bright sunday morning surrounded by a virginal white landscape under a splendid blue sky.
Snow and ice can be seen as problematic. But not when you are sitting inside a warm cosey cottage. Like me...: in front of a crackling fireplace, in a comfortable chair with a laptop on my knees, observing the world. At my feet my two nephews who are fighting a war around a castle with their toy knights.

My puzzle for today is, or rather was, to find inspiration for my next column. You gave it to me Brenna a few minutes ago.

To arrive at "A good problem to have" from "having a problem" has everything to do with the abillity and willingness to imagine and envision how you want things to be instead of strugling with a massive "Must-do-to-get-there list".

The war at my feet is over and the boys decided to build together a new castle.

Thanks Brenna, You made my day!


Mar 7, 2010 at 1:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterWinfried

Would that I had your kind of problems...we miss you!!

Mar 9, 2010 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterDrew

You and your family are going to have such a grand time in France. I was in Provence last June and it was absolutely magical! The picture you posted is just like it looks on market day...the markets move from village to village and it is splendid...a plethora of the divine...the pace of life in the south of France is one is rushing anywhere and spending 3 hours over dinner is the routine...the local food & wine is to die for...just can't say enough...glad you'll be able to spend a good amount of time in your little village...I will be going back to France in June...if you're still there maybe we can try & meet somewhere...I have so enjoyed your blog! It was so ironic because I'm just finishing up "Chocolat" as well and the setting is so lovely...just like the villages of southern mercies in your upcoming trip back to the States...keep the faith! best, Kim

Mar 9, 2010 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterKim P.

I really like Winfried. I think I'm going to be friends with her.

Mar 11, 2010 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered Commenternoho1960

Dear Noho1960,

Somehwere from 1994 until 1998 I was in regular email correspondence with a professor from the University of Cape Town about Organizational Learning. We never met until 1998. Great was his surprise and embarrasment when he saw that I wasn't the one he had pictured in his mind: a woman.... I forgave him graciously and we had a good laugh about it.

It must be my first name that sometimes triggers the wrong assumption.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose - By any other name would smell as sweet."
(Juliet in Shapespeare's Romeo and Juliet)

I hope you still like me Noho1960. :-)


(Sorry to abuse your Blog for this message Brenna, but I just had to reply to this one).

Mar 12, 2010 at 12:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterWinfried

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>