On December 31, 2017 we left our home of 16 years on Grand Cayman to embark on a life of homefree adventures. It’s hard to believe we have been homefree nomads for the past 5 years! That’s 60 months or 260 weeks or 1,825 days!!!! During those 5 years we have traveled 71,205 miles/114,588 kilometres through 20 countries. Some interesting numbers for someone like me who likes numbers 😊
While in Loreto, Mexico at the start of 2022 we were busy plotting and planning a return to Europe. Leaving Mexico at the end of January we spent the month of February in Calgary, it was during this time that covid finally caught up with me, after staying safe for almost 2 years. I tested negative the day before we left Mexico, I tested negative on arrival to Calgary, but one week later I was unwell. My symptoms were extreme fatigue and an unrelenting cough which had mostly resolved before we jetted off to Europe in early March. We were lucky that Italy dropped all their pre-arrival testing 5 days before our flight to Rome because I have no idea if I would have still tested positive for covid, which I understand is possible for up to 90 days following infection. With that worry off the table, we were good to go!
Every year brings new challenges but this year stood out more than most 😞 Our European itinerary consisted of 3 months touring Italy followed by 3 months in Ireland. Well…we completed the 3 months in Italy but had to abandon all of our Ireland plans and return to Canada. During the month of May my ability to walk deteriorated so drastically that returning to Calgary was the only logical option to determine the cause. I spent 6 days in the hospital upon landing in Calgary, purely to allow the doctors to run as many tests as possible during the shortest time frame. All producing no answers! Over the remaining 7 months of the year I had blood tests for everything under the sun, eight MRI’s, a nerve conduction test, a head CT scan, a chest CT scan and finally a lumbar puncture 😱 All these tests came back as completely normal with no resulting diagnosis. So while the doctors are reluctant to throw up their hands and say you have long covid, there has been no other answer forthcoming. During a casual conversation with a doctor friend he said, oh yes your symptoms sound post viral, you should recover in a year…hmmm!!!
The good news is that over the last 7 months of 2022 my condition has slowly improved such that we are hopeful I will be fully recovered by the spring of 2023. With that in mind, we are planning a return to Europe to pick up where we left off and head to Ireland for 3 months. We did all the leg work last winter coming up with an itinerary which we will try and re-create in 2023.
But, back to our year 2022. Following a fantastic 3 months in Italy my mystery illness prevented us from doing very much but we really enjoyed our summer in Calgary. I was able to get out and golf fairly often with Blair and his brothers, we went to the gym regularly, we spent loads of time with friends and had a couple of mid week mini vacations in Canmore. We also drove out to Vancouver Island for the month of November, so despite the circumstances we ended up having a pretty good year. Positive thinking brings positive results!!
So, how did out travel stats and budget make out this year. Below are a few of our travel numbers over the past 5 years:
|Airlines flown with||3||2||4||6||6|
|Cities lived in||23||8||18||38||29|
|Nights in apartments||260||360||363||341||206|
|Nights in hotels||9||5||2||7||30|
|Countries we’ve driven in||5||2||3||7||7|
|Phone numbers we’ve had||6||4||5||6||6|
|Gyms we’ve joined||6||4||7||25||6|
The number of countries visited and cities lived was our best year since 2019 so we are on the right track to resuming our nomadic life despite our extended time spent in Calgary. The car we leased in Italy was our 5th lease through Renault TT Eurodrive and as always we were super happy with the vehicle we leased and the price. We were under budget again this year, mainly due to spending 6 months stationary in Calgary and living with a friend for 3 of those months. This helped our accommodation budget fall to 33% of our annual spend compared to 42% in 2021, pretty much in line with every year other than 2021 when we had virtually no travel costs. We continue to spend no more than it would cost us to live in one place so instead of cable bills, property taxes, utilities and mortgage payments we spend our savings on airfare, travel insurance and apartment rentals around the world. It’s good to know we can continue to afford this lifestyle because we have so much more to see, and we love this life!!
One number that is not shown above is the time we have spent in Calgary, or nearby…..31 months or 52% of the past 5 years!!! It is this number that makes me anxious to get out there to see new places, however all this time in Calgary was due to events beyond our control. Taking what life throws at us, we make the best of it and do our best to be happy 😊
Each year we list places or events that took our breath away and looking back over the past five years we have been to some truly unforgettable places.
In 2018 they were:
- The Matterhorn in Switzerland
- Mont Saint Michel in France
- Normandy, France
- Bordeaux, France
- The French Open Tennis Tournament
- Petra, Jordan
- Dubai, UAE
- Le Tour de France
- Italy…..anywhere 🙂
Our list of favorites for 2019 was:
- The Caminito del Ray walk in Spain
- The Alhambra, Spain
- Cappadocia, Turkey and our balloon ride
- Portugal (my new favorite country of the past 2 years)
- The Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand
Despite a shortened travel year, our most memorable places or events for 2020 were:
- The Great Ocean Road in Australia
- The Australian Open Tennis Tournament in Melbourne
- Scuba diving near Adelaide and finding a Leafy Sea Dragon
- Australia’s Wildlife – Feeding wallabies, petting Dingo’s, finding Fairy Penguins, and meeting Matilda the Wombat 💕
- The Sunshine Coast of Australia
2021 was not a banner year for travel and the only new place that took our breath away was our visit to Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island. I guess it takes the top, and only, unforgettable place for 2021. While Alberta and BC are breathtaking provinces, they are familiar to us and don’t give us the WOW factor of a new location.
With a return to international travel in the first half of 2022 we have a few more memorable places to add to our list:
- The Sassi of Matera, Italy
- The Trulli huts in Alberobello, Italy
- The mosaics in Ravenna, Italy
- The Dolomites, Italy
- The Duomo in Milan, Italy
Now it’s time for Blair to contribute his thoughts on 2022:
Well, 2022 continues with the nothing goes as planned theme. We spent January in Loreto Bay finishing off 4 months of fun and relaxation then flew home to chilly Calgary. One month in Calgary during winter seemed like enough so in March we flew to Italy. Three months in Italy was a very nice return to international travel. We had a wonderful time revisiting some familiar sites and exploring some new ones. I really enjoyed the Dolomite mountains, very different to our Rockies.
From Italy we drove to Paris and Susan’s health had deteriorated rapidly by this time, causing us to drop all our Ireland plans and return to Calgary. Susan has explained her medical situation so I will just add that it has been stressful for both of us and I am just trying to provide physical and emotional support.
We had 5 months of summer in Calgary with mostly excellent weather. We golfed more with my family then ever before, spent some time in Banff and Canmore and enjoyed time with friends.
I enjoyed our month on Vancouver Island visiting my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and some old friends which is always nice. December in Calgary with cold weather and family rounds out the year and then we will drive south for the winter.
The second half of the year was not what we expected but due in great part to Susan keeping a very positive attitude we made the best of it. My always sunny disposition didn’t hurt either 😂 While it isn’t where we wanted to be at the time, being “stuck” in Calgary for the summer with great weather isn’t so bad. With Susan’s health improving we will remain optimistic and continue traveling, who knows we may actually get to Ireland in 2023!!
Thanks Blair for your take on what 2022 meant to you, and your support over the last 7 months has meant the world to me 💕 We made the best of our year, enjoying ourselves despite my health issues and are ready to pack our bags again. We were busy during the last few months of 2022 making warm weather travel plans for early 2023 plus devising a spring itinerary for our potential 4 months in Belgium, France and Ireland. We are cautiously optimistic we can embark on a European adventure after we return to Calgary in April 2023.
Stay safe everyone and here’s hoping once again that this year will be better than the last three 🤞 Time is marching on and there is so much more out there to discover.
Thanks for joining us on our travels,
Susan and Blair