We have evolved from our initial goal of living in a different country for awhile to being The 6 Monthers, our current lifestyle of moving to a different country every six months. Our objective is loaded with challenges as far as observing the tourist and visa laws of the various countries in which we wish to live. We are in a race against time to obtain dual citizenship with Italy which will solve the Schengen Visa issue throughout most of the European Union.
The hardest part of being a traveler in the manner we have chosen is the transition between countries. Our travels are best done when we start from a base in the country of our choosing. From there we take single-day and multi-day trips to surrounding areas to learn what we can about the culture and the beauty of the country. When it comes time to move, we must pack everything we own into our luggage and cart it with us which is burdensome on multiple levels. Primarily, it is draining to live out of suitcases for any length of time.
We gave ourselves seventeen days for our latest transition from Croatia to Spain which allowed for stops in Rome, Barcelona and Madrid. These are three world class cities with great history, food, art and culture. They are cities I had only learned about in school and through my reading over the years. For me, seeing them for the first time was a thrill I eagerly anticipated. We got a tiny stateroom on the overnight Blue Line ferry from Split, Croatia, to Ancona, Italy, then caught the train to Rome. For the 20 hour crossing from Italy to Barcelona, we also got a stateroom on the Grimaldi Line ferry. In each case we were grateful to have avoided checking bags and paying the fees we would have incurred at airports. We even got a little sleep along the way.
Rome was glorious, no question. For me, our visit to The Vatican was the greatest highlight. I will always think of Rome as a must-see place, one that made me say “Wow!” with almost every turn. Among Barcelona’s most interesting sights is Antoni Gaudí’s architecture, and the highlight for any visitor to Barcelona is without question La Sagrada Familia. For a number of reasons, Madrid was my favorite stop. Perhaps it was the reunion with our new friend, Ana, whom we met during our Discover Croatia Tour. Spending time with friends is always a treat, especially while living in a country far from home. Madrid is unique and beautiful, and there was way more to see and do than we could fit in during three days.
Overall, I am glad we visited these places in the off-season. We avoided major crowds in each city as well as the summer days which can be insufferably hot. That part was good. I did lose my wallet to a pickpocket on the subway in Rome. That experience made me much more conscious of my surroundings and much less trusting of people on the street. And like any crime against a person, I felt violated, which impacted me psychologically. It took me a few days to almost get over blaming my naiveté and blaming other, less scrupulous people for being assholes.
Ultimately, traveling for over two weeks with daypacks and suitcases is too much. We need closets and a washing machine and a kitchen of our own so we do not have to eat restaurant food every day. That does not diminish the wonder and beauty of the places we visited during our transition. It does, however, diminish our ability to maintain our energy and to fully appreciate what we are seeing. Such is the learning curve of The 6 Monthers. We are not on vacation – this is our life. I believe we will get better at it as we go along.
All photos: © by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince
Mike, I hope you and Florence are soon refreshed, rested, and that everything falls into place re: your duel citizenship. Your lives are very exciting but stressful I imagine and not so easy. I certainly understand that but, nevertheless, I’m pretty sure I would love to be doing what you two are doing and I thank you for sharing with us. Blessings to you!
Oh, sorry about the pick pocket. Oh Lord, add that to the mix and I can imagine you pulling out your hair! How does one deal with that??
How does one deal with being pickpocketed? First, one kicks oneself in the ass for appearing to be a target. Beyond that, one does not carry much of value on one’s person. That one would be me now, of course. As I have said many times (especially to my wife), I often make mistakes. I seldom make the same mistake twice. So I learned my lesson and I move on. Everything I had in my wallet can be replaced except the money. Thank you as always for your kind words and comments, Nan. – Mike
I am glad that you show us a balance in your life. That all is not sunshine and buttercups! (or rainbows!) I enjoyed this post and wondered if that was a family member or just a new friend with you and Florence? I just need to re-read, I am sure to find out who she is! Smiles, Robin
Ana Carrasco, our new friend from Madrid, was one of the five blog journalists from around the world, including me and Florence, who were invited to tour Croatia and write about our experiences last September. She had just finished law school and had not yet found work. We were happen to learn she had a job in a law office when we met in Madrid. – Mike
I am so happy for your friend, fellow traveler/writer and now, lawyer in Madrid! This is wonderful news and thank you, sorry I had not noticed this detail of her name before! Maybe you covered it in another post…
Anyway, I would think you could write a whole post about your short ferry trip, longer ferry trip and your train trip! Details are always so exciting! I enjoyed the history of the Roman trip and the fact that Barcelona is a “newer” city was something I learned from you, too.
Hope you are settling in somewhere and not living out of your suitcase. Relaxing and enjoying a new place will be fun to hear about the next adventures!
Robin, I did not go into detail about the ferry rides because Florence wrote a blog post about it. You can find it here.
I occasionally reblog Florence’s stories, especially when I am not inspired to write, like when I hurt my leg in December. I should do a better job of promoting her page because her stories fill in a lot of the blanks that I leave out. This is inevitable since I strive to keep my posts under 800 words. Florence also created a blog site that serves as an FAQ adjunct page to our 6monthers website. That was essential because our webhost site does not provide sub-pages.
Florence created these two sites to provide greater details and her version of our stories because she says I tend to write more ‘feel good’ stories. Florence considers my writing to be more ‘fluff’ than she would write. Thus, the tag line for her blog, Reflections, is ‘The unvarnished truth (okay, rant) about our time living or visiting in each country’. And she does occasionally rant!
If you are interested in more photos, there are albums on our Facebook page. Feel free to ‘Like’ or just to browse.
As always, thank you for following and commenting. I feel our connection strengthening as we share comments about each others lives, and I look forward to the day we will meet in person. – Mike
I do check out Florence’s posts, but sometimes I am not always able to comment. She wrote about the Ferry story and I enjoyed it very much! I admire the way you keep your posts succinct and still manage to get the stories told! I struggle with editing out things…
I admire your teamwork and am also, aware of your outgoing personalities, you both make friends very easily. This makes sense that we would wish to meet someday, since I haven’t met a stranger, yet! Smiles, Robin
I love that you and Florence share your learning curve, whatever the outcome! This SOUNDS exhausting so I can imagine it is every bit as crazy as you describe! The learning curve is tough with what you are doing… no doubt, when you finally get in an apartment, you’ll both crash for days! Keep your spirits up friend! xo
We are currently in the ‘crash’ mode, resting from the demands of playing tourists. It is such a relief to simply have a place to do laundry and to prepare our own meals. One thing we have learned is to make our transitions more quickly because, when we get tired, we become more jaded about seeing tourist attractions. And that is unfortunate when we are visiting some of the world’s great cities. Also, until we fulfill the visa requirements for six months stays, our transitions are more frequent by necessity. That is why obtaining dual citizenship with Italy is so critical now, and the Italian government is not known for quick and efficient service. – Mike
Mike, I’m SO sorry that you had the Rome pickpocket experience. As I told Florence, James had a similar thing happen 20 years ago on our first trip to Rome. Not fun … and it’s hard to get over the shock. But like you said, it was our wake-up call to pay more attention to our surroundings and belongings. In the end I think it made us better travelers. James now says I have “bat radar” for any dicey situation … but it’s saved our bacon many times! 🙂
As for transitions – they’re the toughest! The cumulative fatigue – both physical and mental can really take its toll. But it’s great that you’ve figured out what bugs you so I’m sure the next one will improve.
And I see from the comment above that you are finally in your apartment. Yay! You both must be thrilled. I can’t wait to hear all about your new home.
All the best, Terri
Thank you for your kind, supportive comments, Terri. I had to not let the pickpocket experience ruin our travel plans. It affected us during our Rome visit, but we carried on and did our best to enjoy our limited time there.
Now in Alicante, Spain, we pre-arranged a month-long stay with a host family in order to have a comfortable base from which to begin our apartment search. There is less pressure this way, and we can once again live at a normal pace. And our hosts are SO NICE! We are truly blessed, and Alicante is a great city – not too big, not too small. 🙂 – Mike
For me, the highlight of the Vatican is the Vatican Museums. You need a t least a full day to appreciate what they have.
We spent three weeks in Spain and our favorite city was Granada…a small walkable city.
Thanks for the info. Granada is definitely on our list. So many great cities in Spain, and every local I have talked to loves the north of Spain for its beauty.
How are you going about getting a duel citizenship in Italy? Why do you need to race to accomplish this?
Dual citizenship, which my wife is eligible for through her paternal grandmother, is a time-consuming project no thanks to the archaic laws of the State of New York to require a court order to obtain records of death certificates. Thus, we needed to hire an attorney just to get these required records which are readily available upon request from every other state. (you asked)
The Schengen Visa Alliance limits us to a total of 90 days in these most EU countries within any 180 period. So without Italian citizenship, we have to leave Europe within 90 days or risk fines, expulsion or both.
It is a good question, and one that all travelers need to be aware of. Thank you for asking. – Mike