China Visa Process

Planning a trip to China. The Visa & Passport

My husband and I have a bucket list. We pretty much sit around on our day jobs and do the things that are required of us, but secretly in our minds we are always thinking about where we will go next. Once we decided that we were going to just go straight to the top of the bucket list and clear off China (the number one must do thing on our list) it became a rush to the airport for us. That’s pretty much how most of our trips happen. One minute we are dreaming and the next we are booking tickets. I admit that this one has taken me a little by surprise in the budgeting. At this moment, I am about $1500.00 over budget on what I thought it was going to cost. One of the things I most tell people when they ask me about trip planning is to allow a markup for the things you don’t know. Something like 20-25% usually will cover it for us. This trip has, however, exceeded that for sure. I suppose, it probably speaks to my inexperience that I didn’t budget in for the cost of a visa to either China…

The Seven Wonders of the World

Over the last couple years we have been blessed to get to travel. I have seen so many amazing things, I can’t even count. But the list of things that we still want to see is far longer than the list of ones we have already enjoyed. The Great Wall of China is always at the top of a bucket list. So we have decided to take one last trip this year to mark that one off while we are still able. I know, it sounds like I think I wont have enough time to see everything. My 13 year old son said “Mom, are you sure that you don’t have cancer or something that you are not telling me” when I told him that we were going to China. I don’t feel like I am in a hurry. But I do feel like when I leave this world I am going to not have gotten to see all the amazing things that I want to see. The truth is, so many of my friends and family say to me, YOU ARE CRAZY FOR GOING THERE when I am planning trips. Or, I AM NEVER GOING THERE, is pretty common…

Cruise #1 Carnival Feb 2016

Carnival Glory Caribbean Cruise Febuary 26, 2016 This was our first time cruising. Bil and I took this trip alone. Our son stayed with his dad and it was a completely different experience than it was each of the other times that we cruised with him along. We can never take another cruise alone now that Mikey discovered it. He actually never wants to go on vacation with us unless its a cruise. We flew from Charleston West Virginia to Miami and then go on the ship to sail. We drove down to Key West Florida to spend a couple days before the cruise.                   Carnival Glory Carnival Glory may still be my favorite ship of all the ones we have gone on. Maybe that’s because it was my first time and it was so cool but I remember that ship as having great pools and being fun to ride on.             It’s My Birthday It was my birthday. That was just by chance. The cruise date just happened to fall on my birthday that year. This giant clock was in one of the ports on the…

Carnevale 2018

Paris, France

MEMORIES FROM THAT DAY It was June 14, 2016 and we had only arrived in Paris the day before. The 6-hour time difference made it so that we both felt like it was way up into the middle of the night when we finally settled in for the evening. Excitement and the full day light outside made it hard to close our eyes. It didn’t get dark until about 10:30 pm. ​The alarm went off at 4:00 am and both of us had long since woke up and started our shower and preparation for the makeup and hair person who would come at 4:15 am to get me ready for the big day. I was so nervous about what I would look like. I am somewhat of a tomboy and the idea of having to dress up and put all the makeup on was really stressing me out. The lady came to the door of our little Parisian room at the Hotel Realis du Louvre and I let her inside and was thankful that she understood far more English than I did French. That large building outside our hotel window really is the Louvre Museum. The most famous museum in the world…

Where are all the cars?

Today I was remembering the transportation in Venice while working on this scrapbook page.   One of the things I love most about scrapbooking is how much you think about the thing you are trying to remember with the page while you are making it.   In Venice your brain can never really get around there not being cars when you get there. You make the decision you are going to go someplace, and it hits you that you can’t just go out and get in the car. There are no cars. That becomes less painful once you get your bearings and realize that you truly can walk across the entire island in about an hour if you don’t get lost, but I wouldn’t count on ever going someplace that you don’t get turned around in Venice. Several times we went out to just roam about and spent about an hour just snapping photos of beautiful doorways. We felt like we were on the other side of the world and we had seen so many things that we didn’t even care where we were. Suddenly I stopped to catch a photo of Bill standing on a little bridge and as I…

Paris in the snow

I love Paris. That is not a secret to the people who know me. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it in June of 2016. Of course, I was wearing my wedding dress and getting married so it was a special day already. On my second trip to Paris it would be freezing cold and covered in the first snowfall that Paris had seen in many years. It was wet and nasty but amazingly beautiful. I am so thankful that I got to see it a different way. The night that we walked out to see it we went to the little street where we took wedding photos especially because it is by far my favorite spot in the world. If I die, Bil knows that I am to be taken immediately to this location and my ashes scattered at the foot of the Eiffel Tower forever. While we were walking about at the bottom of the Tower in the snow we were approached by a news crew that asked if we would care to talk about how we felt about seeing the Tower closed once we arrived. We had no idea that he meant that…

Smile !

One of the things that I didn’t know in advance was how many photos would be taken of us by strangers while at Carnevale.  I guess, I thought it would be fun, but I don’t think I ever knew that photographers would come from around the world to photograph those of us in the costumes and masks.  On the first day when we put our costumes on and walked out to San Marco Square we were shocked by the fact that we couldn’t reach the square. As soon as we made our way out of the tiny little street that met up with the Grand Canal we were met with a rush of paparazzi and every single step we took for the next four days was labored. ​With what is a space that feels less than a single square mile and a gathering of more than three million people, it becomes a close encounter quickly in Venice. But the feeling of excitement when you are pursued by thousands of photographers is hard to explain. I remember thinking after a few hours that it was mad that so many people pressed for a photo. We had all kinds. Those who waited patiently in line…

Top Things to NOT see in Cairo, Egypt (And a few you should)

When we arrived in Egypt we had been traveling for a very long time. I think we were about 14 days into the trip. We had been to Paris and Venice and it was not our first time to either, so we felt at ease in both locations. That was not the case with Egypt. Of all the places I have ever visited, Egypt is the one that felt the most like I was in a foreign country. It seemed like everything was odd. Simple things seemed different. I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but I will try. In the United States we throw trash in a garbage can and a truck comes and gets that, and a bigger truck goes to get that, etc. I don’t even know where it ends up, but it is handled by some type of system larger than I care to think about. Its just the normal way it works here. In Egypt, they don’t handle the trash at all. If you used it, you dropped it when you were done with it. It laid there until it rotted, someone else wanted it or it got covered over with some more trash….

Italian Men Fall In Love Quickly

To just not be forgotten

I don’t know that I will ever be able to remember everything that I hope to remember about our vacation to Venice. Some days I really can’t focus because my mind is so cluttered with the memories and it feels like I could never forget a single detail. But the truth is I do. I forget most things that are feelings or moments, sweet and precious. I have photos and I look at them often, but I find that the little things that I write down are in the end the things that I get to recycle and experience again in my mind. Does that even make sense? My oldest son is going to be thirty years old in January. That doesn’t seem possible to me. Am I that old? Is my youngest son really going to be 13 in May? Once, I held their little bodies in my arms and fell in love with them. I don’t think I will ever forget those days. Once, I was published in a book. Like in a library. Those don’t exist much anymore. Libraries or books. But someplace there’s a volume sitting on a shelf with words in it that I wrote and…