A Travellerspoint blog


Travel guilt

Travel guilt-

We were finally able to reach Mom and Dad! The whole first week of our trip, we tried continuously to get through to Shelley’s parents in the little town of Forest Hill, just outside of Alexandria in central Louisiana. Email, WhatsApp, Alexa - we experimented with a range of technology as we grew increasingly worried.

What a reversal! They’ve been so worried about us taking this trip and concerned about how to contact us in an emergency - and then one came to Louisiana.
Hurricane Laura ravaged Louisiana, and places that were usually safer from the most dangerous winds and rain (because they’re farther inland) were in her path.

When we got through, Mom and Dad told us that they had boarded up the windows and rode it out, listening to the whistling winds and remembering the sounds of Hurricane Audrey in 1957. They hoped they wouldn’t have a repeat of 2005 - when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita kept them on a generator for weeks.

Interestingly enough, had Coronavirus not changed our travel plans, we would have been visiting my parents at their home in Louisiana when Laura hit. We actually left right before, flying out of Dallas hours ahead of the storm.

After the hurricane, we were finally able to get through to my parents. Through Alexa, we saw them - living in their camper. There was no power in the house, despite the generator. Luckily, they had air conditioning in the camper (August and September heat and humidity is often unbearable without it) and were well-stocked on food and water.

Still, the discrepancy of our news - “We swam in the Adriatic, ate cuttlefish risotto and are snorkeling in the Blue Lagoon tomorrow!” and theirs - “We’re better off than most. People are crammed into hotels, like your aunt and uncle. At least they found out that their house in Lake Charles is still standing.”

It’s jarring. It’s heart-breaking and guilt-inducing. Why are we here instead of there? Should we be blissfully enjoying our travels when it feels like America is undergoing one catastrophe after another?

Watching the news of wildfires, riots, rising coronavirus cases, and of course, the neverending Trump circus, we feel both guilty and relieved. We come from Portland, where our citizens are still proudly earning the nickname of “Little Beirut”. We come from Louisiana, enduring one of the longest and worst hurricane seasons in history. We come from the West Coast, battling fires that have decimated some of the most beautiful places on earth. We come from America - divided and devastated.

Should we be traveling when things in America are falling apart? Did we rightfully escape or wrongfully run away? Is there a difference? Isn’t it odd that traveling away from the United States seemed like the safer choice?

Reading news articles, I find one on “travel shaming” - and it speaks to my worries about our trip (and this blog). I’m sure that are some that judge our choice to travel in these very uncertain times.

I can say it was an incredibly difficult decision, and it’s one that we continue to question daily. We were lucky to be able to take a year sabbatical (and as teachers, a damn good year to do it) and to be able to travel. We made the right decision for our family - but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t guilt and uncertainty.

Update: Our hearts sank when we heard the news about Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a true American hero. A children’s book about her life was one of Savannah’s favorites (it was hard not to laugh when she protested bedtime by yelling, “I dissent!”).

America, please do the right thing. Be better. The world is watching.

Posted by tatehomberg 12:07 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Savvy Travels- Old Town Dubrovnik

Savannah’s educational videos Ep.2

View Croatia on tatehomberg's travel map.

Savannah explores some of her favorite spots in Old Town Dubrovnik! This is the second installment in her educational videos as she travels Europe.

Click the link below:

Savvy Travels- Old Town Dubrovnik

Posted by tatehomberg 09:44 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)





I hate, hate, hate driving overseas!!!!!!!!

Just some quick background. Ten years ago when Shelley and I went to Europe on our honeymoon, we started our trip in Germany. We rented a car and did a day trip with no problem. On the way back, though, we got so lost. I mean, we drove around the same five square miles for THREE hours trying to find the house we were staying in. I ended up stopping and paying a cab to drive to the address so we could follow them back to the house. Then, on the same trip (and the same car) we drove to another city and it took us two hours to find the car drop off spot. We almost missed our train. Of course, this was before we had smart phones and there was no GPS in the car.

So, to say the least, I was not looking forward to renting a car this trip and driving. However, this time I would have GPS which was both a blessing and a curse. More on that later. We were driving from Split, Croatia to Plitvice National Park. First, thoug, we had to get to our room in a house that was right on the edge of the park. In this case, THANK GOD FOR GPS! There is no way in hell we would have found the place that we stayed without GPS.

We drove down some small narrow roads, but there was one road that scared the hell out of me. Did I mention I am not really a fan of heights? I am not horrified- I’ve been paragliding in the Alps and bungee jumping, but for the most part I really don’t care for heights. For example, I am not going to be the person that walks up to an edge of a tower or cliff to look over the side.

I bring this up because this very narrow road kept going up with no guard rails and in spots, there was just a straight drop off the side (sometimes there were large rocks to sort of protct the edge!). Now, luckily as I was driving up, we were the not on the cliff side but the whole time I was thinking- “tomorrow I have to come down.” If there’s a car coming the other way, I will be hugging that cliff side, a foot away from a perilously steep drop.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and I won’t run into any cars...come on, we know that is not going to happen! In the meantime, let’s enjoy the scenery before we have to drive back.

Plitvice National Park was amazing. Just beautiful waterfalls and lakes everwhere. Wooden walkways over crystal clear streams. It was worth the three hour drive and all the hiking! After a very long day, we crashed in our cute rented room.

The next morning, our B and B hostess made us an amazing breakfast and it was time to start heading back. On our way back, we decided to take a side trip to the birthplace of Nickola Tesla, with his childhood home and a museum. Time to break out the cell phone and get directions.


Directions loaded but the road of death awaits. At least it is at the start of the trip and I can just get it out of the way. So, off we go.

It starts off just as I want, with no cars in sight. I am in the middle of the road, staying away from the edge. White knuckling it down the road with Shelley giving me updates of how far to the turn which should put us on the big road. Only another 1.5 miles. I think, I am almost there, as I look down at cliff side on the edge of the road. Then I see it. My worst nightmare. Another car coming toward us. Except it is not a car, it is a box truck and we are at one of those drop-off sections of the road.

I think now is a good time to mention that when we rented the car online we got the small compact. You know, the cheap one. However, when I picked the car up they “upgraded” us to a SUV a little smaller than a Highlander.

As I look at the box truck coming at me and pushing me to the edge of the cliff, several things go through my mind. “Just my luck… Damn Enterprise and their upgrade… I am going to side swipe this guy and lost my $1200 deposit... God, I hope the tire doesn’t go off the edge!!!!”
I slow down as the truck moves over as far as he can. My mirror missed his by inches. Shelley is looking down the side of the cliff and all I hear is a deep breath. We just squeak by and back to the middle of the road I go. Later Shelley tells me that there was less than a foot between the tire and the edge.

We made it. Shelley tells me the turn onto the major road is coming up. We are home free! Wait… this is not how we came… was it? We make the turn, unsure of ourselves but we are going downhill so what do I care. Next turn coming up!

Now we are on a road that is even more narrow. There is no way to fit two cars. Again, if another car comes I am not sure what would happen. There is nowhere to go so let’s just hope that doesn’t happen.

We come to the next turn and I stop. This can’t be right. That is a wooden bridge that is so small I am not sure the car would fit over it! We pass it and take the next turn but it deadends. A nice man comes out and looks at us like “Dumbass tourists” but is very helpful. He tells us that yes, we do have to go over the bridge we passed. He also says, “if you go in, don’t worry- that water is not cold!”. I think, ha ha, thanks a lot! We say “hvala” and off we go.

Back to the bridge. This bridge is just wooden boards. No rails. I wouldn’t want to take my bike across this thing and now I have to drive my “upgrade” across it. Again, I can’t see the edge of the car, so I am not sure where the tires are going to hit. I go slow. Bump! That didn’t feel right. I back up and Shelley gets out of the car to walk in front and direct me. We get the car up on the bridge with less than a foot on both side and we creep across. As I drive over the boards, I feel and hear them lift up and fall back down as we go over them. But we are on the other side. One more mile on this one car road and back to the main road.

We made it to the big road!!! YES!!! I tell Savannah to cover her ears and I let out a slew of curse words. Later I figure out that we didn’t need to be on those small ass roads but the GPS sent us that way cause it was like a ¼ of a mile shorter. Damn GPS! Damn upgrades! Damn narrow roads with no rails!

Now, Plitvice was great. The Tesla home and musem was worth the vist and we also stopped at Krka National park which had an incredible waterfall, and we even got to swim at the base.

However, I still Hate, Hate, Hate driving overseas. Even writing this my shoulders are in knots just thinking about it, but I guess it is just one of those prices you have to pay for other wonderful experiences.

Posted by tatehomberg 12:52 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

So now what? Week one in Split, Croatia


BLOG ENTRY #3 - So now what? Week one in Split, Croatia

Thursday 27/8
All of us woke up at around three in the morning and puttered about for a couple of hours - do we try to sleep more or stay awake? Let’s get on Croatian time, we thought, and decided to take a little nap before starting our day.

And eight hours later….
We woke up at 3 PM on our first full day in Croatia. Whoops!
Diocletian’s Palace here we come! For more info on that, see Savannah’s charming educational video “Savvy Travels”. We’re totally considering that homeschooling - history, public speaking, and writing organization!
We wandered around the downtown area (much of it encompassed within the palace’s walls), observing the many restaurants, shops, and apartments within those tiny stone streets. Window shopping in a pedestrian only zone was lovely!

It was high time we tried some Dalmatian food, so we found a local konoba (restaurant) where the menu was more in Croatian than English, figuring that that might be a good indicator of a non-touristy place.

The dish we had heard about the most was black risotto, cuttlefish cooked in its own ink, so of course we had to try it! Surprisingly mild and very tasty, as was the shrimp and zucchini risotto and Savannah’s homemade pasta with tomato and beef.


After a leisurely dinner (the only way to do it here!), we followed the sound of live music back to the center of the Palace, the Peristyle, where an acoustic guitarist and violinist were playing. They were set up at the Luxor bar, an actual bar in the Peristyle where they throw cushions in pairs on the ancient Roman steps and you can order a drink. How decadent to sip wine while reclining where emperors and Roman patricians once walked!

The music was acoustic versions of popular American music, and we hummed along until I couldn’t stand it anymore and pulled Jamie up to dance. The female musician smiled over at us as we did some swing steps, Jamie spinning me as Savannah looked on and laughed.

We kissed after, remembering our last time in Europe and a similar impromptu dance in another famous square - St. Mark’s in Venice while on our honeymoon. Ten years (and one kid) after that lovely moment, we were blessed to be able to create another.

Friday 28/8

Jet lag ain’t no joke! We’re adjusting to the time difference, but still waking up in the middle of the night. Since we were all up before 4 AM, we decided to just go with it and got ready to leave the house before dawn. Bonus - sunrise over the Adriatic!

We had our first experience of bukek (the wonderful phyllo dough sweet or savory pastries sold everywhere) and kava (coffee) at one of the many little bakery stands throughout the town. Then we found the open air green market - oh the colors! Fruits and vegetables piled high on tables, with locals haggling over the plums, tomatoes, peaches, grapes, and figs. Wizened Croatian men and women gestured us over to sample their wares, each with just their few specialties. We tasted nuts and dried figs and tried to communicate, as we bought more that we could possibly eat that day. Jamie waved ten kuna at a little old lady trying desperately to rid herself of her small but deep purple plums, and she grinned and filled a plastic bag - plums for days!


We learned to say “ne hvala” (no thank you) pretty quickly, or we would have ended up with more produce than we could carry. But it was a lovely and local experience.

After picking up makings for our picnic, we headed to Bacvice Beach. We joined the older locals (the youngsters show up later!) bobbing around in bikinis and Speedos. It was so peaceful, with older folks getting their morning exercise and socializing over card games played with the ornate Croatian card deck.

We did as the locals did - take a dip, float (so buoyant you barely need to tread water), then get out and dry off only to do it over again - maybe shower off the salt in between! It seems as though everyone takes a siesta during the heat of the day, but then the waterfront (Riva) comes to life again as it cools down.

Lovely tanned couples wander hand in hand, and groups of teenagers on bikes and on foot stop to flirt next to the yachts moored on the harbor.B68496D7-DA70-4845-8F28-08FEEB840CC0.jpeg

No matter what time of day, tables at the waterfront are occupied by people enjoying coffee (before noon) and drinks after (lots of beer and Aperol spritzes) and people-watching. This is very definitely a cafe culture, where buying a drink (whether coffee or alcoholic) is the price of at least an hour of relaxing with good company and watching the world go by.

As true products of American society, Jamie and I are both on the go kind of people - even relaxing at a bar in the States often came with discussing work and creating to do lists. While we still did some of that (have to plan the next day’s meals and events!) - we consciously made the effort to just relax and enjoy the moment. Every time got easier - retraining ourselves to just be is harder than you might think!

Posted by tatehomberg 12:34 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Savvy Travels- Diocletian's Palace

Savannah's educational videos Ep. 1

Savannah takes us on a tour of Diocletian's Palace in Split, Croatia. This is her first in a series of educational videos that will explore different parts of Europe.

Click here for the Savvy Travels Video:


Posted by tatehomberg 11:31 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

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