January 23, 2015: We Have An Apartment

Between last night and this morning Dominica has done a tremendous amount of work looking into flights, apartments, rental cars and everything.  At this point, are basic travel plans are pretty much arranged.  There have been a lot of changes made but mostly at a pretty small level.  We have a really good idea of what our trip is going to be like now.  There were some changes in the planning around the Tocco / Grice / Miller Disney Vacation as well which allows me to fly in early, on Friday evening, and see my family in Walt Disney World.

The original Disney plan was that I was going to stay in Houston and Dominica and everyone was going to return to Houston after their trip to Disney and then, after several days and probably a full week for Dominica and the girls to recover from driving from Orlando to Houston we would fly out of Houston to get to Europe.  But enough changed that instead I am flying to Orlando on Friday evening, spending all day Saturday in EPCOT with the girls and then we are flying out of Orlando to go to Dublin that night!  We get to go to Europe a full week earlier this way and Dominica and the girls have to do tons less traveling in total.  This is a huge win.  Plus, for “free” I get a whole day in Disney with the girls and do not have to completely miss out on this trip.  I already missed out on their one day stop in Disney over the summer in 2014.  I have not made it to WDW since our long trip in 2013.  What is funny here, of course, is that our last relocation, from Texas to NY, involved going to WDW en route between the two.  Now, when we are moving from the US to Spain we are doing the exact same thing.  The girls will spend a week in WDW while already in motion towards Europe.  They are going to start to associate moving with getting a week in Disney World while doing the transition.

From Orlando we are heading to Dublin, Ireland.  This is a big change from our original plans.  This is happening because we are flying on Aer Lingus and getting a full day layover there in Dublin.  Somehow this magically makes the flight really cheap.  So we are going to leave the airport, get a hotel in town and see Dublin for a day.  A mini Irish trip to kick off our time in Europe.  We won’t get a lot of time in the city but it will give us a chance to begin adjusting to the time difference and will help a lot with keeping us from succumbing to overwhelming exhaustion.  I will be doing three consecutive days of long flights with busy days in between them and I do not sleep on airplanes so having proper time to rest along the way will be very important.

We leave Dublin the next morning and fly to Madrid.  From there we will take the train to Malaga on the southern coast where we will rent a car and drive to a little hill top village with just over four hundred residents where we will be living for a while.  Our trips to London and Scotland are not happening during the late spring as we had thought that they might so we have extended our time in Spain to include all of that time.  Dominica managed to get the apartment all lined up and secured today.  It is a three bedroom, two bath village house right on the plaza mayor with a roof top terrace that can see the village, the surrounding mountains and when the weather is really clear you can even see the Atlas Mountains in Morocco over the straights in Africa!  How much more awesome can it get?  And to top it all off, Dominica managed to get the landlords to knock a full grand off of the price of the apartment making it dramatically cheaper than the rent that we will get for our Peekskill house so we will actually be saving some money while we are there.  That is huge.  And she figured out how to get us a rental car for the entire time that we are there so we are going to have a lot of flexibility.  A Renault Clio stick shift will be our silly little European transportation while we are there.

We will be in Spain for a long time and are very excited to have a lot of time to settle in and get to know the people and the area.  Lots of time to use the car to explore Andalusia.  We plan to visit Morocco at some point as well and Gibraltar, too.

Once our time in Spain, for this cycle, is over in early June we will make a transfer up to Oslo where we will be “vacationing” for a week in Norway during the lower cost shoulder season before we fly on to New York to spend the summer with family there.

The drama going on today is that we found out that the trip to Walt Disney World is not going to be the trip that it was supposed to be.  Originally the whole trip was scheduled around the fact that my niece was marching in an actual Disney parade through the Magic Kingdom!  It was going to be a huge deal.  But it turns out that the school decided to cancel this after everyone had paid and committed to doing it and instead are just sending the kids to do a private workshop in WDW which is nothing at all like doing a real performance and it is just a band thing rather than a major marching event – and they are famous as a marching band.  It’s a huge deal.  Families were not told until it was way, way too late to back out and the kids were not informed at all.  All of those kids that voluntarily gave up their spring breaks to stay with their classmates and do a major marching performance have had that stolen from them and now they get to do no performance, have to spend their time sitting in a class and do not get their spring break nor their money back.  Completely unprofessional and unethical on the part of the school.  The whole thing is ridiculous.  This really reinforces why we don’t want our kids in public schools.   Not one thing in this entire event was handled with a minimum of professional or even human courtesy.  And, of course, zero consequences for the school or the people at fault.  Not only is it just an awful situation, but the lesson to the students is that teachers aren’t accountable and don’t have to behave with even a modicum to the same level that even high school freshmen are held to in the same program.  As is often the case, there is no way that the teacher in this case could make it in the program that he runs – it is too demanding for his level of commitment and competence.    Infuriating and shameful.

We did some more packing today.  Not a ton, but a good chunk.  The basement is really coming along well.  The portable shelving units have been all broken down and compacted, a huge garbage bag of stuff to throw out has been filled and a few boxes have been filled.  The back portion of the basement is almost done.  We really are actually within site of completion.  It seems like there is just tons and tons to do but really it is almost all just the stuff that we need in order to operate day to day that cannot be done until the very last second that is left.

We ordered in Chinese for dinner and we finished watching the third installment in the Aerial Spain series that we can watch on Hulu+.  Then we watched a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother.

Tomorrow is my last day before flying off to San Francisco.  Lots to be done including getting me all packed up and ready to go.