This is our last night in Paris, which means we have been in Europe for nine months. I can’t believe it’s been the equivalent of a whole school year (or of most of a pregnancy)! Tomorrow, we fly to Barcelona to board a cruise ship for the journey back to the U.S. I’m excited about the cruise, both because I love boats and being on the water, and because it will be a nice, slow transition back to American life and East Coast time. The European Union is “falling back” to standard time tonight, a week ahead of the U.S.

I haven’t been able to come up with a succinct, yet overarching description of what this has been like so far, or how I feel about it. That’s partly because the adventure isn’t over. We have Asheville, NC, coming up next, where we will get to see The Weez and Barb and Joan, our new friends from the Provence trip in September. We expect to keep being the Fledgling Flâneurs for at least another year, and are deep into planning mode for 2023. So far, we have Italy, Portugal and British Columbia on the books for next year, with more to come.

Still, this is a milestone of sorts, and I want to try to put some thoughts down on (digital) paper. First and foremost, we would do all of this again in a heartbeat. Virtually everything about this adventure so far has met or, more often, exceeded our expectations. We are still just absolutely delighted to be here. We have gotten to spend time with friends who have visited, and made some new friends along the way. We have seen places and things that were completely new to us, and figured out how to do things large and small that we have not done before. I’m counting on those experiences, especially, to keep our brains from rotting away. We have seen so much beauty and history. Thanks to FaceTime and texting, we have been able to keep up with our families and many of our friends back home.

Needless to say, we have never had a year like this, and it’s been exciting and challenging and special. I have no regrets. It’s been a year full of blessings, for which I will always be thankful. I would advise anyone who is thinking about doing something like this to go for it.

I realize this lifestyle is not for everyone, though. Packing and moving on the regular can be a drag; dealing with airports and airlines this year has been fairly unpleasant; every single home appliance in every single apartment is different and they usually have foreign language controls and manuals that we can’t understand; some things we need are hard to find here and there is no Target down the street; the planning and logistics are ever-present; and I have no idea when we will sleep in our own bed again.

We have gotten sick, and in Steve’s case, injured, far from home and in countries where we don’t speak the language. We have overdone it and worn ourselves out, which reminds us that we are aging. We have gotten on the wrong Metro, bought buttermilk that we thought was skim milk, fought with rental car companies (one dispute is ongoing) and probably looked like fools many more times than we know. My most recent cringe-worthy experience occurred two days ago, as I was walking on a packed sidewalk near a very busy intersection. I was wearing a dress, and walked over a subway vent. You can guess where this is going. The skirt of my dress blew up, Marilyn Monroe style, except I didn’t catch it in time. Freaking skirt was up around my waist before I could do anything to stop it. Je suis désolé, Citoyens de la France.

So maybe this would be a good time to depart?!