Lots of miles. Lots and lots of miles.
We started driving long distances in France approximately six months ago. Nicole and I together in our rented red little Fiat 500. We loved that car. Absorbed by the French countryside, we drove from Paris to Combleux, back to Paris, then to Burgundy, Alsace, the Languedoc, Barcelona (where we loved it when Ed Sheeran's song, "In Barcelona," came on the radio), then to Bordeaux, Cahors, back to Bordeaux to meet up with Nicole's cousin and his new bride who were on their honeymoon, then all the way up to Belgium where we left our car in a long term parking lot at the Brussels airport (leaving a rental car in long term parking ... hmmm ... but we looked at other options and this made the most financial sense) to attend another of Nicole's cousin's wedding in Seattle (and do this), then back to Brussels to pick up the car for a drive to Cancale, France before sadly returning the Fiat at the Paris airport.
Then it was on to Chile. We had so much fun in France that we thought the only way to see Chile would be by car. So we rented what turned out to be a small gray Volkswagen Gol. Although we were more apprehensive about driving in Chile than in France, road tripping turned out to be a great way to see the country. We drove from Santiago to Valparaiso to Pichilemu to Pucon and then back to Santiago. The only downside we found about driving Chile is that, because it is such a long and narrow country, we weren't able to travel as far south as we would have liked because the prospect of having to drive all the way back the way we came loomed large.
After all that driving, what were we looking forward to upon returning to the United States?
A road trip!
Strangely, we still aren't tired of driving. We bought a car in Arizona, spent a week driving it through California, then returned to Phoenix before starting a cross country road trip back to New York.
I'm writing this blog post from a Starbucks in Santa Fe. Thinking about road tripping.
What have Nicole and I learned and observed from so much time on the road?
- A car allows freedom when traveling. We saw many travelers along the way whose plans were dictated by public transportation schedules and routes. We relished setting our own itinerary.
- Holding a phone is no way to navigate. We are completely dependent upon the GPS on Nicole's phone for directions. Accordingly, Nicole spent countless hours holding her phone as we zoomed along highways. But no more! This hands free device that attaches to a car's air vent has been a game changer. I can't recommend it enough.
- A car can be frustrating to drive and park in cities. We spent one crazy afternoon trying to find parking and get to and from our Airbnb in downtown Bordeaux. Tempers flared. We envied those around us on foot.
- Music gets old. We rarely listen to tunes in the car anymore. Instead, we spend most of our time devouring podcasts. What Should I Read Next, Tim Ferriss, 2 Dope Queens, and Wine For Ordinary People are some of our current favorites. Instead of feeling like we are wasting time, we feel like we are learning. We've also enjoyed starting to listen to Gretchen Rubin's audio book The Four Tendencies on Audible. Super interesting. For those familiar with Rubin's theory, I fall into the "questioner" category.
- Healthy snacks are the key to us not arriving exhausted at our destinations. Whenever we drove in France, I would typically arrive at our destination after a day of driving wondering why I didn't have any energy and just wanted to hang out on the Airbnb sofa. Then I looked back at what I ate and drank during the drive. Lots of coffee. Maybe a croissant for breakfast. Then a french style sandwich for lunch very heavy on the bread roll and not much filling. A diet coke. Then a bag of candy to top it off. No wonder I didn't have energy. For our U.S. road trip, we bought a small cooler and try to always have (somewhat) healthy snacks with us -- jerky, rice crackers, nuts, vegetables and hummus. I feel way better at the end of a driving day.
We plan to post additional road trip thoughts throughout our journey. At some point we'll probably tire of driving. But we haven't yet. See you all on the road! :)
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