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