Sunday Guest Post Series: Travels with Fran

Now that I think about it, travel has always been a significant player in defining who our family is. Our family ancestors have had roots in Australia, Europe, the United States, and in Canada. As for me, I always had a hankering for travel. As a matter of fact, my high school yearbook entry clearly announced that my one and only goal at that time was to travel the world. It was quite some time though before I got to fulfill that dream.

Life kicked in, and I got down to the nitty-gritty routines of life-graduated, got a job, got married, bought a house and had my son. Every holiday we had, I inevitably scanned the travel sections of the newspaper dreaming of places I would like to visit, but other than a few trips across Canada and the United States, those far-off exotic lands were never on my list of destinations.

Sabbatical – Off to Germany

Somewhere about mid-career, my husband and I applied for a job teaching overseas for the Canadian military. We got the job and joined Gutenberg School staff and Westend in Lahr, West Germany. I was introduced to incredible German food, wine and cultural events like Fasching, volks marches neu wine, and spargletoast. The die was cast! Not only that, but the travel bug also bit my son who counts our time in Germany as one of the best in his life.

Impulsivity Kicks In

Once our German hiatus was completed, we returned to Canada. We all suffered withdrawal pains from this fabulous experience. However, life continued as it always had. We resumed our teaching career. My son finished high school and went away to university. Both my husband and I took an early retirement. While on a solo trip to Ottawa, I read an ad in the paper that invited applications for teaching in a foreign country. Without really thinking, I went to my computer and applied. Then I realized that I had done so without even talking to my husband. Upon my arrival at home, I told my husband, and of course, he simply said he wouldn’t go. Amazingly enough, I was interviewed on the phone within the day as was my husband. Before we knew it, we were on our way to Charleston, South Carolina where we had a fabulous time meeting wonderful folks and experiencing life in a southern American city.

Birth of the blog “Travels with Fran”

But life in a southern American city isn’t always fun and games. Hurricane season can be nerve-wracking. One time I wrote a short story about Charlestonians getting ready for a hurricane. When in Charleston, local television stations monitored the hurricanes of the season as they marched across the Atlantic. By the time the hurricanes got close to the mainland, people are hyped up and frantic to protect their property and their lives. During one potentially close call, I wrote a short story in an email to my son documenting our visit to Home Depot where locals bought up all the plywood and bottled water in the store. In spite of the volume of people in the store, it was absolutely silent. We had been planning on riding out the storm in Charleston, but after witnessing the fear in the local people, we decided to book a hotel inland. My son found the story interesting and suggested I start a blog. It was a good suggestion, and I found myself enjoying the process of recording our life away from home as we traveled around the world.

International Teaching

For over sixteen years, we continued to work in places like Egypt, England, and Uzbekistan. We also enjoyed the opportunity of meeting people and discussing political issues with people from different cultural backgrounds. Holiday travel to countries like Iran, Thailand, Morocco, Cambodia, Latvia, northern Sweden, Iceland, China, and India to name a few served to broaden our perspective of the world and to reinforce how lucky we were to come from a country like Canada. How different our lives would have been if we had simply stayed home after retiring! And all of these experiences have been documented in my travel blog, and in photograph books.

There’s another chapter in this ‘travel theme’ for our family. My two grandsons have traveled to visit us in many places. So now it isn’t unusual for them to say, “The next time I visit England, I will……..” Another generation of travelers in our family!

Our Second Retirement

Just this past June, we retired from teaching yet again. So far our retirement has followed the normal routine of applying for pensions and repairing the house. Yet, I can still feel this pull for something extraordinary calling. We will see what the future has in store. In the meantime, I continue to enjoy interacting with other blog writers and will continue to write when the inspiration strikes. Often the writing is done impulsively. I’d love for you to check it out and travel along!

Travels with Fran

From Retirement Reflections: Thank you, Fran, for sharing your love of travel and the impetus for your blog. I encourage all readers to check out your site which is filled with adventure — and great writing! Speaking of adventure, our next Guest Host (also Canadian) has visited over 42 countries. She documents her extensive travels on her blog, ‘Natalie the Explorer’. Please join us next Sunday. I look forward to seeing you then!

43 Replies to “Sunday Guest Post Series: Travels with Fran”

    1. Hi Kate, We also have friends who wouldn’t come to visit us in Uzbekistan because they thought it would be too dangerous! I do not think I have ever felt safer anywhere than when we lived there-except for the crazy traffic!

    2. Hi, Kate – This is my favorite thing about blogging. I get to discover (safely from my computer) so many experiences that I could/would never do on my own. Thanks for stopping by and reading Fran’s post.

  1. What an adventurous life you are living, Fran! I love to travel too, but have seen such a small portion of the world. I hope to remedy that once I retire. I’m on my way over to your blog now. Have a lovely Sunday!

    1. Hi, Christie – Thank you for stopping by. Retirement can be a great time to travel. Be sure that you are building your ‘Travel Bucket List’ now!

  2. Holy cow! What amazing adventures! I agree with Donna that I love “meeting” new bloggers and checking out their experiences. I too think that I’m sometimes a little bit of a coward when it comes to traveling. But I popped on over to your blog, and it inspires me. Not really sure about staying in a yurt, or having little electricity, but…..

    Anyway, have a beautiful Sunday!
    Lynn ~ Encore Voyage recently posted…Encore Quotes – Random ReflectionsMy Profile

    1. Hi, Lynn – Fran definitely has experienced some exotic travel. I, too, admire her adventurous spirit. Thank you for checking out her blog. I agree that it is incredibly inspiring!

    2. Hello Lynn, I think one of the most interesting parts of our last voyage was when we stayed in Murgab. It was a real eye opener when the people put the generator on so that we could have some light. The people at this home stay were lovely and they just lived life at a very basic level and were very happy. The next home stay was again without electricity and the owner put on the generator so we could charge our phones. More than one way to make the best of the situation!

    1. Thanks Ally for commenting. Right now we are resettling back in Canada. We will do a more traditional trip in November to Florida but it will be with our grandsons and we are looking forward to that!

    1. Hi, Jill – It is my pleasure to introduce Fran to others. Fran and I first met briefly when we both worked for the Durham School Board in Ontario…thirty years ago! We then literally ran into each other several times overseas (very small world). She is a fabulous adventurer. I believe that you will greatly enjoy her blog!

  3. Hi Fran… nice to meet you. My husband and I enjoy traveling, but our travels (at least so far 🙂 ) have been more conventional than yours. I love that you have been willing to drop your “normal” life at a moment’s notice and go on an adventure! I’m so glad to know that your willingness to take chances has rubbed off on your son and grandsons. Travel is the best way to really understand – and appreciate – this precious planet.
    Janis recently posted…Cherished DiariesMy Profile

    1. Hi, Janis – Your wisdom continues to impress me! When on the Camino this summer, one of the rural hostles in which we stayed, had a small sign that stated:

      “A tourist demands…a pilgram thanks”.

      I believe that when we travel like a pilgrim (regardless of our destination or accommodations) we more fully achieve the understanding and appreciation that you have mentioned above.

    2. Hello Janis, Thanks for the comments. Our first “exotic” trip was to Morocco. It was during our time when we lived in Germany. After seeing Morocco we were smitten with searching for life which was far different from the one we had lived!

  4. Hi Fran: Nice to meet you. I enjoy reading about your adventures. I’ve been to some of the countries that you mentioned also in an adventurous fashion. Will hop over to your blog to read some more.

    Thanks, Donna, for the introduction. You had me at the word “travels” 🙂

    1. Thanks, Natalie – ‘Travel’ definitely appears to be a theme of many bloggers that I follow…and many readers who follow this blog. I greatly look forward to you Guest Hosting next week. See you then!

  5. Nice to meet you, Fran! Your life of travel and education sounds right up my alley! There is something so creative and visceral about writing, especially sharing your experiences with words and photos. I personally have not traveled abroad much, in fact, not off the North American continent, but one of these days… I do get around all over the West Coast and have plans to Hawaii this winter!

    1. Hi, Terri – Thanks for stopping by and checking out Fran’s post here. Hawaii this winter sounds wonderful! As Kathy has just returned from there we will have TONS to talk about and share when we meet up soon! Looking forward to it!

    2. Hello Terri!
      What we need to do now is to visit both the east and west coast of Canada. We travelled to the West coast many years ago now but have never made to the east coast. Maybe next summer?

  6. Fran, what an excellent way to travel, and you would have learned so much more about Germany than if you had all gone as tourists. It’s so rewarding to fulfil a life’s dream.

    1. You are absolutely right! Living in a country allows you to get to know the place at a much deeper level! When we go back to Germany to visit we still go to the same restaurants and believe it or not there are owners who still recognize us!

  7. Hi, Suz – Thank you for stopping by. I agree that you learn so much more about a country when living and working there. It is an incredible experience!

  8. Hi Fran, Hi Donna,
    Fran, while I was aware of most of your adventures, it was great to have them consolidated in this post. The through-lines of your passion are very evident. It will be fascinating to see what extraordinary something captures you next!

    1. I will see what strikes us next. However, we are talking about a road trip to the former eastern bloc countries. We hear wonderful stories about Warsaw and its starting to get the juices flowing!

  9. It’s always great to read the travel experiences of others and your post is no exception Fran. We did a teacher exchange from Australia to England with our three young daughters years ago and it was a highlight of our lives and the start of something new for our whole family. It was lovely to meet you and I look forward to following your blog too.

    1. Hi, Debbie- Thank you for stopping by. One of the things that I love most about blogging is that we discover so many similarities with people countries away!

    2. Thank you Debbie! It must have been wonderful doing a teacher exchange to England with your daughters. Its an area we want to explore more too!

  10. Hello Dr Sock
    We keep looking at the map and realize that even though we have done a fair amount of travel, there are so many places yet to explore. All the best for your future international travel.

  11. Wow, Fran. Such great adventures. Your first “retirement” was anything but that. I totally understand the “pull” for the “exotic” and I’m glad you were able to teach and therefor live in all these amazing countries, experiencing life there in a full and intense way.

    Congratulations on your second and “real” retirement. Now, you can just travel, which is definitely more fun and less challenging than combining it with work! I assume you are settled in Canada again now? Did you consider returning abroad? Maybe in a place that stole your hearts?
    Liesbet recently posted…Rocky Mountain National Park, ColoradoMy Profile

  12. Well I’m late to the party, but it’ s lovely to meet you Fran and to read your amazing story. I’ve never had the travel urge like you – I’m a bit of a homebody I think, but signing up and going all over the world to teach must have been the most amazing experience and it certainly will always make you popular dinner guests with all your stories!
    Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au recently posted…WHO AM I?My Profile

    1. Hi, Leanne – Never too late to this kind of party! Thanks for stopping by to read Fran’s story here. I agree — she would be an amazing dinner guest!

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