I'm back safe and sound! Whew, it felt like a long trip because I was pining for my little guys the whole time. Oh, and hubby too. He really missed me, by the way. He and the boys met me at the airport with chocolate roses :) I can't even describe how happy I was to see them and hug them all.
As hard as it was to leave my family for that long, it was good for my marriage in a way. Keeps things fresh when you don't see each other every single day, which is when most couples tend to take each other for granted. I came home to a spotless, gleaming house, two happy boys and a hubby that lost seven pounds because he missed me so much (or so I like to think, but maybe it was because he wasn't eating my cooking and baking every day!).
My time in France was relatively short, but man is it expensive there! Moreso than any of the other countries I visited. I went to a burlesque show at the Crazy Horse theater in Paris (who'd have ever thought that would happen?), ate crepes and shopped. Now that's my idea of a good time. I even got complimented on my French a couple of times, which is funny because I barely know any. But it's nice to know my accent is good!
At least in France I felt "normal", physically speaking. Not so much in the Baltic countries. I'm about 5' 7" and 130 pounds (size 4 or 6, depending on the clothes), but in the Baltics I felt short and fat. Seriously, all the women there seemed to be 5' 9" or better, and my weight. Size zeroes and twos. Probably because their diet is much better than in North America, or even most of Western Europe. Our tour guide commented more than once that all we seemed to do was eat! Plus, they don't eat processed crap like we all do on the west side of the "pond".
Another thing that surprised me was the number of people that spoke English, especially in Estonia. Nearly everyone we met spoke enough to converse with us. And they still rely on central heating, piped in from Russia. The Batic governments determine when to turn it on and off, and this week in Lithuania, the government is turning on heat in schools and hospitals. And trust me, it's cold there right now. The rest of the population has to wait until the temperature falls below a certain level for three consecutive days, then the heat gets turned on. And once it's on, you can't shut it off or regulate the temperature. So if you're too hot, you have to keep all your windows open until the heat gets shut off in April or May, once again determined by the temperature. You can imagine how expensive this method is, especially to a population struggling to make ends meet. Hopefully things will keep improving there over the next few years, but the current economic crisis isn't helping matters. Our tour guide Edgars has a master's degree in international business relations, and he's just left Latvia for six months to drive a bread truck in Australia. That says a lot, doesn't it?
So, all in all I'm glad I went, and my cousin was awesome to travel with. Other than an upcoming writer's retreat with Bob Mayer in November, I'm not planning on going anywhere for a long while!
Now I've got to get my butt in gear and get back into some sort of writing routine. I've been such a slacker! Let's hope this break from the keyboard has let my current WIP percolate in my little brain, and that the words will flow next time I sit down to write.
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