Why Travel In Retirement

We are nearing the end of another memorable trip to Switzerland. Everything to this point has been spectacular from the uncharacteristic perfect weather – a bit warm but virtually no rain or other atmospheric negatives, something the locals say is unheard of this time of the year – to the manageable crowds to the other worldly beauty everywhere we look.

Looking back at the journey I want to share some highlights as well as a few pictures (I was requested by numerous readers to share some of the sights with a snapshot or two. The hard part is picking just a few):

(1) Seeing the family again – I talked about this in an earlier blog but cannot say enough about the incredible treatment we received from everyone in the family. Just last night a bunch of the relatives came over to share an evening and meal including the newest additions to the clan age 1.5 and 4 years. Between the perpetual energy of the kids and the tasty spread that included a diverse selection of salads along with most of the meat groups (steak, chicken, sausage, and more sausage) there was never a dull moment. I cannot wait to return the favor when they visit us.

(2) Getting slightly closer to overcoming my fear of heights – one gondola up the side of a 12,000 foot beast of a mountain, two train trips through the Alps along canyons and precipices high above the ground below, one backward Alpsmoving tram up the side of another steep mountain watching the towns below fade into obscurity in the widening distance, and numerous hikes along trails that sometimes brought me a bit closer to the edge than I would desire – I survived them all. As a matter of fact I find I no longer break into a cold sweat viewing some dangling transport inching its way up a mountainside even when imaging myself a passenger – progress!

(3) Incredible scenery in all directions. We visited some world class spots to view magnificent nature at her best. I can assure you those unreal pictures you may have seen of Switzerland are very real. It turns out all we needed to do was step into the backyard where we stayed to gaze upon a ring of mountains in all directions and the picture perfect geometrically precise farms that dotted Swiss flag on Jungfrauyochthe valleys at their feet. I may have a few favorites – Schynige Platte on a crystal clear day or the tiny husli where we spent a few nights in a cozy farm house in Grindelwald or the many dizzying sights riding the Glacier Express – but second and third and fourth place are all spectacular.

I am fortunate to travel as I have with my multi-lingual travel companion, guide and lovely wife. I am learning from her to be more than an anonymous traveler. There is so much more to experience by engaging with those you meet along the way. While in Zermat Beatrice took time to talk with a Japanese tour guide at the next table learning where her group had been, where they were going and all about her tour guide career that had her in foreign countries 180 days each year.

On another occasion we were riding a train in Pontracino with a young family seated across from us. She casually said a few words in Swiss German and soon we were all smiling and communicating in a combination of German, English, and sign language. Later we ran into this same family high on a Alpen lichenmountain trail and then one more time while having dinner. Each time we greeted each other and briefly caught up on the events of the day. Although I do not speak the language I am getting better at picking out a few key words so I get the gist of the conversation – at least about 30 percent of the time. And I have learned a simple gruezie (hello) is a great ice breaker generally eliciting a broad smile (hopefully not merely because of my pronunciation).

Traveling in retirement can be a wonderful experience. Travel allows you to try something new whether a new place or new people or new activities. It allows you to release your inner flaneur providing the freedom to wander, nowhere in particular, always with the possibility you may discover something amazing around the next corner. Travel allows you to step outside of your comfort zone and be whomever you want. You are no longer just someone retired from the job but rather a world explorer, an exotic adventurer, an international man/woman about town, a connoisseur in training.

Not speaking the language is a sure fire way to make you realize how helpless you could be if not for the fact many along the road speak English to some degree. With a little effort you should be able to start picking up a bit and then a bit more of conversations around you. I think there is no better mind exercise than learning a new language. And it is an education for a lifetime – the more you work at it the better you get.

Enjoying the local gastronomic specialties is a task to be happily undertaken whether of the food or beverage variety. How fun it is to ask for “a local beer” and wait in great expectation of what will be delivered to your table, frosty and foamy, a small piece of this particular spot on the globe.

blogflowersA wonderful trip, many beautiful pictures, lots of memories, and now back to reality. But even reality will be a new exciting adventure as we now move into our new digs in Carmel Valley. We are beginning a new journey, this time a bit closer to home. But a new journey just the same. I can’t wait to step out the front door and head to the left or perhaps the right as this flaneur in training continues his journey through our wonderful world. Auf weiderschen, adieu, hasta la vista, and see you soon.

My Wife is Ready to Retire

I retired a few years back. A big part of my decision was based upon the ever changing job environment. What I described as “diverse experience across multiple years and technologies” unfortunately translated into “too old”. At the time I was 53 and had enjoyed for the most part where my career had taken me. But the powers that be did not feel I had a place in their future. And so began my retirement journey.

I have learned a lot over these last three years – most significantly that I have a lot to learn. It took me awhile to start figuring things out. Although somewhat at a loss in the beginning not always sure how my days would play out I feel I have evolved into a relatively happy, engaged, rarely bored retiree. Best of all I look forward to what tomorrow brings.

Now the time has come for my wife to join the ranks of we retired. I am excited about her becoming more a part of my daily life. And I look forward to sharing our respective second acts side by side.

After a successful career across multiple start ups Beatrice has had her fill of office politics. Dealing with inefficiencies that could easily be addressed if someone just took responsibility is no longer intriguing. It is time for something new. Although she will miss some friends from the job she has always been willing to make the effort to keep in touch with those she wants. And although the safe comfort of a place to go each day will be no more, she looks forward to the many new things she will be able to do with her free time.

She is excited – for the most part. What she is not 100 percent clear about is what she will do to stay busy and engaged once she leaves the job behind. Having worked steadily over the past decades she has only had to fill her weekends with worthwhile activities. Monday through Friday was spoken for by the demands of her career. Now suddenly her weekends will extend to seven days – that is a lot of additional free time. I can relate as this was the biggest single fear I faced when I first retired.

Her plan for now is to take it easy for a few months, enjoying a little downtime to recharge and contemplate the future. But not too far down the line she plans to look for work of some kind. The ideal would be a part time job without much of a commute doing something she enjoys that makes a difference. She is happy in the same line of work or willing to try something new. I support her completely. I have come to learn from readers and fellow retirees there is no reason work cannot be a part of the retirement mix especially if you like what you do.

My wife is very social with a wide range of friends scattered around the globe. She likes to get out and engage with people in the community. In our new digs she plans to reach out to neighbors and locals to learn the lay of the land as well as discover common interests. I see many a dinner party and afternoon get together in our future and look forward to it. She has always been interested in volunteering for worthwhile causes. Now she will have plenty of time to do just that.

One of my wife’s and my great loves is hiking. We are fortunate in that we live within a few miles of a wonderful national park with trails and vistas to fit every want. I imagine us exploring early morning strolls along winding dirt roads as the sunlight filters through majestic redwoods and ancient eucalyptus groves. I see us navigating the many paths to find the most challenging, most scenic, and most hiker-friendly for later down the road when we may no longer possess the fortitude to climb the highest heights. Should we need an alternative to the mountains, 12 miles down the road is some of the most beautiful coast line in the world. It is easy to picture a nice five-mile walk listening to the breakers booming along the shore, breathing in the fresh air, watching seals and gulls go about their merry way,  and ending up at a quaint café where a frothy cappuccino waits. Not too bad if you ask me.

I hope my experience evolving into a happy retiree might in some way help her hit the road running. Although we are different in many ways she will likely have to deal with a lot of what I went through coming up to speed. Why not learn from my mistakes? I will let her know that she does not have to stay busy every minute of the day. Sometimes it is okay to do nothing and if you enjoy what you are doing who is to say it is a waste of time. I will highlight the joy of an empty calendar as well as one filled with only those things you choose to do. I will encourage her to try new things she has never done before. I will recommend she revisit hobbies and passions she may have been forced to push to the wayside while busily employed full time. Now she has time. I will share with her my daily routine that sets aside time for exercise and creativity and exploration and relaxation. If difficulties arise I will remind her we are in this together for support, love and enjoyment. Together we are stronger. And I will invite her to join me in this retired world where the future looks promising and we have the enviable luxury to do what we want when we want.

Welcome to retirement my dear. So glad you are joining me. :)