Showing posts from April, 2018

Why We Might Miss French Toast If We Move to France

We love France, and that is probably the country we would most likely move to when we next become temporary expats.  Part of the appeal of France--aside from the fact that we are already in the process of learning to speak the language--is the food.  We are fans of French cuisine!

But... as we realized again yesterday at breakfast, we are going to miss American-style brunch.  We've mentioned this before, and it bears repeating.  The U.S.--especially in larger cities like Chicago--produces some of the best, most creative, and imaginative brunches in the world (though, yes, we're have had some pleasant surprises on that front, as in this post on Montreal brunch scene).

In part, this American culinary success might be owing to the melange of cultures (again, in the larger cities) in the U.S. that allow a fruitful cross-pollination of influences from Mexican, Korean, Italian, Chinese, Caribbean, Thailand, Peru, Indian, etc.  We will definitely miss this ability to pick and choose…

A Weekend in the Country Leads to Reflections on Old Friendships

I wrote recently about our love of both the country and the city.  In many ways, our last two weekends illustrate that perfectly.  After a short jaunt in Milwaukee the previous weekend at a downtown hotel, we returned to Wisconsin for a brief weekend outing in the "country," north of Milwaukee.

After a long friendship carried out over many years of dining out at various Chicago-area BYO restaurants, our little "Supper Club" (comprised of three couples) found fewer opportunities to get together in recent years as new professional obligations and opportunities--including our own long absence from the Chicago area during our "gap year"--meant that we could not see each other as often or as conveniently.  That is all the more reason why these occasional weekend retreats at the Wisconsin vacation home of our friends became such special occasions for catching up.

As it gets darker outside, the highlight of these weekends starts with our host firing up a pile o…

April in...Milwaukee?!

It's no Paris, and it was most definitely waaaaycolder than we'd have liked, but we still had a most "rewarding" weekend in Milwaukee!
Travel Hacking for a Reward Night

So, the backstory is that we signed up for an IHG hotel-branded credit card through Chase a couple of years ago when they ran a special with sign-up bonus points that we could not refuse.  (Ok, yes, we really could have "refused" them, but the deal seemed pretty good, all in all.)  Over the almost two years we've had this card, we enjoyed several "free" nights at IHG hotels from points we either accumulated through credit card purchases or were gifted through the sign-up bonus.

One of the nicest perks of this particular card--which charges a relatively modest $49 annual fee--is a free "anniversary" night reward granted on the renewal date.  Just recently, IHG changed their policy such that any future anniversary nights awarded after March 31, 2018, were only good for …

Green Acres, Or Big Cities?

Whenever Will and I are discussing locations for where we want to vacation, to settle down, or to retire eventually, we're reminded of the 60s sitcom--which we both saw in later re-runs--about a New York City couple (played by Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor) who moves to a rural area so that the husband could indulge his love of "fresh air" and learn to farm.  Incidentally, I'd always been struck, even as a child, with the (catchy) theme song's patriarchalism: "[He:] You are my wife.  [She:] Good-bye, city life.  [They together:] Green Acres, we are there!"

It's not quite that bad with us since we both love "fresh air" and Times Square (right above, or, for that matter, Chicago's Daley Plaza, pictured below), but it's true that each of us has a decided preference for either places of "natural" beauty or those of "cultural" charm.

Will is much more outdoorsy--camping, skiing, swimming, paddle-boarding; in contrast, …

Exploring the Appeal of Living Abroad

We tell family and friends that we are thinking about living in a foreign country for a year or longer--perhaps even retiring abroad someday!--and they are puzzled.  Why leave the convenience of living in a country where we have our closest relatives and friends, customs of a country we spent a lifetime becoming familiar with, benefits of a country that we have paid taxes for?
They're right, of course, to raise concerns.  But we are also considering the upside of living abroad, something we plan to pursue at some point.

Learning a New Language

We know that most people are petrified about the idea of not understanding their surroundings and not being understood by others.  We're not exactly looking forward to communication barriers either.

However, we actually LIKE the idea of learning a new language.  Admittedly we are not fluent in any language other than English (despite our months in Montreal taking classes).  But we do have a smattering of languages: Will knows some Japane…