Cruising, International Travel

My first trip to Europe. What did I think?

My husband and I just got back from a 2-week trip to Europe. We started in Barcelona for two nights and hopped on a cruise ship for a 9-night cruise on the Italian Riviera (with port stops in Marseille/Nice France, Portofino, Naples, Sicily, and Rome). Unfortunately because of high winds, we were unable to port in Livorno which meant we missed Florence/Tuscany. 😦

What we saw and experienced was nothing short of amazing. The scenery, architectural masterpieces, and the mind-boggling attention to detail in grand churches literally took our breath away. We enjoyed tasting various foods from each of the three countries –Paella (a rice dish) in Spain, Croissants and various wines including Rose from Provence in France and Homemade Pasta, Chianti and limoncello in Italy! We had beautiful weather for most of the trip and walked nearly 6-8 miles each day at each port stop (which allowed me to eat all the Gelato I wanted!)

Photo by Julia Volk on

Although we went in the ‘off-season’, Europe, especially Italy, was flooded with tourists. The streets were full of people that appeared to be mostly Americans/Canadians (based on their conversations). It appears we’ve definitely boosted their economy, and they had no shame in charging exorbitant prices on food, hotels and various souveniers. However, what surprised me the most is that the residents of these countries didn’t seem thrilled to have the tourism. In fact, the warm friendly experience I thought I was going to have (especially in Italy), really didn’t happen. I experienced many impatient and rude waiters, tour guides, taxi drivers, and store attendants. Perhaps it was because we were in highly crowded tourist areas, and/or the language barrier as most Europeans did not speak English like I originally thought (and read about). Either way, my conclusion is that people are people, no matter what country they live in. Some are friendly, some are not.

Would we go back? Since we were on a cruise ship for most of the trip and only had time for a small snippet of each area, we thought we might want to return to some of the places we visited. However, after careful contemplation, we decided that we would likely only return to Italy, but not in the same places, and not anytime soon. (Long flights are not fun! 😉 )

If you’ve been to Europe, how was your experience?

Deployment, Living for TODAY, Positivity, Retirement Journey

An August update.

Photo by le vy on

I can’t believe a whole month has passed since I’ve posted. I thought August would be a financially quiet month, but alas it was filled with spending – lots of spending – albeit the good kind!

Here’s the breakdown:

  • I booked and paid for a cruise for January with my daughter;
  • I paid extra on our mortgage as we are trying to pay it off as quickly as possible;
  • I purchased a few more items for our Europe trip in a couple of weeks; and
  • At the last minute, my husband and I decided we wanted to surprise our son at the pier when his ship pulls in after a 7-month deployment in a week, so we paid for a flight, hotel, and car rental. I.can’t.wait. 😉

To say I spent a lot of money last month is an understatement, but I must say it was all worth it! I truly have not added it up this time. (Perhaps I don’t wan’t to know….)

Even with all of that spending, our networth managed to increase from July by $27,000 (mostly from investments) . We are still on track to retire on time. 🙂

How was your August?

Goal Setting, Positivity, Retirement Journey, Spending

A July Challenge Update….a little late.

Photo by Jorge Urosa on

I apologize for this late update, a lot of unexpected stuff came up and my blog fell to the wayside. I closed out July on Saturday, and thankfully it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Spoiler alert: I did not meet my challenge goal.

Let’s just get right to the numbers–

July’s spending:

  • Groceries/Eating Out: $623.00
  • Personal Care: $182.00
  • OTC/Medical: $74.00
  • Clothes & Accessories: $395.00 (hubby bought a few items too!)
  • Gasoline: $32.00
  • Gifts/Spontaneous giving: $352.00
  • Mom &Dad: $80.00
  • Pet: $66.00 (dog food and misc. accessories)
  • Travel (road trips and misc. travel products): $665.00

Total: $2,117.00

I was $1,367 over my goal of $750.00. I can honestly say I do not regret any of the spending. After analyzing the different categories and amounts, I realized that at least $1,000 of the $1,367 overage was for my trip to Italy this September. Planning this trip has sparked so much joy, that I’m not the least bit discouraged from failing this challenge. I’m actually energized and excited for more opportunities to travel, especially in retirement. 🙂

I know some of you were doing the challenge with me, and have been successful! Congrats! Please let me know what you are going to do with all that extra money you saved!

How was July for you?

Budgeting, Impulsive Spending, Retirement Journey, Spending, Weekly Spending Update

July Challenge Update: July 11-17

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

It’s been a crazy week for my July challenge. There has been a lot of buying and returning — primarily travel-related and clothing. I will try to be more diligent with my online orders, and hold off purchasing clothes until September. I’m definitely a work in progress as far as online spending.

In other news, I decided to go ahead with the bone stimulator ($2,000) for my foot, because I will try anything before surgery. That will come directly out of our Health Savings Account fund.

An Unexpected expense.

I spoke with my son this week. He is still on deployment and unfortunately got Covid as did most of the sailors on his ship. He told me he was pretty sick for a while but thankfully he is now on the mend. He was vaccinated and boosted, so I imagine he contracted the new variant while in a port. He never asks for anything, but this time he asked for snacks. I was out the door as soon as I ‘hung up’ the phone (as any Mama would do 😉 ). $180 later (and worth every penny), a 14x14x14 care package was on its way. 🙂 Included items: Vitamins, Emergen-C’s, cough drops, toothbrush, soups, mac and cheese (add water), cookies, beef jerky, chips, and candy (the non-chocolate variety, as chocolate would melt). It was filled to the brim. He is in a port now, so I hope his package will get to him soon!

An idea of what I sent. 🙂 (via)

Without further ado, here is my July 11-17 spending:

  • Groceries & Eating Out: $51.00
  • Misc.: $3.00
  • Pets: $99.86 (dog food and dog pool)
  • Misc. travel: $99.00 (Travelon backpack/cross body bags)
  • Mom & Dad: $38.00
  • Spontaneous Giving: $180.00

Total spend: $371.86

It is clear that I won’t make my $750 challenge, especially since I’ll need to do a large grocery shop soon. Unexpected expenses will always pop up, and as long as I can keep my usual categories within limits, I’ll still be able to sock a little money into savings.

How was your week?