1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Hindsight – A Somewhat Self Indulgent Look Back on 2015 Travels

by Suzanne Fluhr on January 5, 2016 · 19 comments

Zentangle Inspired Art Peace Bird

Actually, this look back is probably more like full on self indulgent, partly so I will be able to remember the pretty good year that just passed and partly for the few people who bemoan the loss of our my yearly newsletter that was tucked into the snail mail holiday cards I used to send.

Zentangle Inspired Art Peace Bird

Had I sent out holiday cards, they probably would have had this image of a peace bird. When I rendered this Zentangle Inspired Art, I was no doubt channeling the memory of my art teacher father who designed and silk screened the family holiday peace card every year.

We (including my 90 year old mother!) were fortunate to enjoy mostly good health in 2015 (considering our Baby Boomer demographic) and we took to heart the lessons we learned in 2014 about the importance of carpe diem and not postponing joy. My beloved Mr.  Dr. Excitement has an intense day job as a physician scientist, so in order to distract him some from the matters of life and death that are his daily fare, we try to travel as much as possible. Most of our trips are actually wrapped around his invitations to participate in scientific meetings with colleagues around the world. 2015 trips included the following:

Caribbean Cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette

Our first trip of 2015 was completely non-work-related (if you don’t count Mr. Excitement checking his work email every day). Over the years, we’ve learned that Philadelphia winters are more tolerable when interrupted by an escape to somewhere warm. In February of 2015, we enjoyed a week-long Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette. The itinerary was irrelevant. We just wanted to gaze out over azure and turquoise water and go outside without bundling up in winter gear. This undemanding mission was accomplished.

Turkey and Israel

Dino (left) and his dog cousin, Izzy.

Dino (left) and his dog cousin, Izzy.

In early March, Dino‘s dog cousin’s people again agreed to let him live with them in Boston for several months because of our travel schedule which included a three week trip to Turkey and Israel. The impetus for the trip was Mr. Excitement’s invitation to speak in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. However, a quick review of world geography convinced me that this should also be our chance to visit Turkey. Despite our usual inclination to travel independently, I’m happy I succumbed to trip planning laziness booked us on a 7 day G Adventures small group tour that started and ended in Istanbul and covered parts of western Turkey.

Roman ruins of the library at Ephesus in western Turkey

Roman ruins of the library at Ephesus in western Turkey

Mr. Excitement meets a belly dancer in Pamukkale, Turkey.

Mr. Excitement meets a belly dancer in Pamukkale, Turkey.

Our 15 person congenial group ranged in age from 21 to 60-something and included people from five different countries. I earned only one raised eyebrow from Mr. Excitement when we stayed in a hostel with a shared bathroom. We started our tour with a somber visit to the World War I battlefields of Gallipoli (Cannakale) and ended with Mr. Excitement’s encounter with a belly dancer. You can read more about our G Adventures tour of Turkey, but you won’t find the video of my (fully clothed) belly dance.

This was our first trip to Israel. I’m glad we were there before the current uptick in violence. My understanding is that now we would be unable to visit the UN observer post overlooking Syria from the Golan Heights. We interacted with both Israeli Jews and Arabs, all of whom decried the extremism on both sides, but who seemed sadly resigned to the ongoing state of distrust and violence.

Dome of the Rock and Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel

The golden Dome of the Rock near the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Another reason we were particularly glad to visit Israel is that we finally had the chance to meet and spend time with some of Mr. Excitement’s first cousins. World War II separated Mr. Excitement’s father in the United States from his sisters and parents who emigrated from Bulgaria to Israel after the Second World War. They took us on a trip to visit the ancient fortress of Masada and the Dead Sea.

Masada in the Judean Desert south of Jerusalem, Israel

The view from the ancient fortress of Masada in the Judean dessert south of Jerusalem

I’d like to return to both Turkey and Israel some day, but our visit to the fascinating historical sites in both countries depressed me. Many contained the layers of ten civilizations, each one succeeding its predecessor through violent conquest, cruelty and suffering. The current antagonists seem predestined to repeat the pattern.

Certified Zentangle® Teacher (CZT) Seminar in Providence, Rhode Island

A week after our return from Israel, I headed off to Providence, Rhode Island to attend a 3 day seminar to become a Certified Zentangle Teacher. Those of you who follow my Boomeresque blog know I have been obsessed with doodling interested in Zentangle since discovering it while convalescing from a hospitalization in Hawaii in 2014. If you are  a closet Type A   a person who should probably meditate, but can’t seem to be able to accomplish that, Zentangle might be better than meds a good outlet for you. I’d be happy to suggest how to get started if you’d like to try it. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, you can even come to one of my classes.

My latest Zentangle Inspired Art.

My latest Zentangle Inspired Art.

Catalunya (Catalonia), Spain

 The interior ceiling of the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia by Gaudi in Barcelona Spain.

The interior ceiling of the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia by Gaudi in Barcelona Spain.

Costa Brava from the Botanical Gardens of Marimurtra outside Blanes

The Costa Brava from the Botanical Gardens of Marimurtra outside the town of Blanes.

A few weeks after becoming a CZT, I traveled to Spain on one of my rare solo trips abroad to attend a travel blogger conference (TBEX) and a writing seminar in Lloret del Mar on the Costa Brava. I flew directly from Philadelphia to Barcelona, where I was anxious to check on the construction progress of the perennially unfinished basilica of La Sagrada Familia which has been underway since 1882. Since my last visit in 2008, the interior is now completed enough to be used for worship and it is magnificent.

After the blogger conference (where I was happy to hang with old and new travel blogger friends and drink  sangria while they drank the local bubbly,  cava), I went on a 3 day familiarization trip to Tarragona and the Costa Daurada during which I had my first ride on an electric bike (I want one), spent a day at an amusement park and visited an ice creamery. I spent another two nights in Barcelona before heading home, during which I had the chance to visit the Monastery of Monserrat.

South Beach, Miami, Florida

After three days at home, I repacked for a 4 day trip to South Beach for an AARP expo where I and some other baby boomer travel bloggers were invited to explore and report on AARP’s Member Advantage program. Did you know that as an AARP member, you are eligible for discounts on many products and services you are planning to purchase? The one that particularly called my name was medical evacuation insurance—to wherever you want to go, not just the nearest appropriate facility since that could be half a world away from where your loved ones reside. As I pointed out in my blog post about the AARP Member Advantage program, “If our generation is going to have to take the rap for bankrupting Social Security, Medicare and yada, yada, yada, we might as well get some discounts too.”

Williamstown, Massachusetts

In early June, Mr. Excitement and I drove up to Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts for our 40th college reunion despite the fact there is NO WAY we graduated from college 40 years ago!!! We slept in a college dorm room instead of a quaint bed and breakfast because #1) the B&B’s were all occupied by other alumni who plan better than we do, and #2) we wanted to remind ourselves that the good old days weren’t THAT good. It was a Brigadoonish experience because the bucolic campus in the Berkshire Mountains still looks relatively the same (except for some new buildings), and many people from our graduating class were there—albeit mostly grayer and more rotund than we remembered them. (I’m sure they would say the same about us 😉 ) (PS: Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Excitement met in college, but they were “just friends” until 4.5 years after they graduated—-in case you were wondering).

Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts

Our Class of ’75 (the first to admit fresh”men” women) joins the Williams College alumni parade.

Brigantine, New Jersey

From the Costa Brava to “down a shore” in Brigantine, New Jersey. From the blue Mediterranean Sea to the gray-green north Atlantic. For the last 8 years, Dino and I have had the good fortune to be able to spend most of the summer in our beach house in Brigantine, New Jersey. It’s not exactly on the beach and there was an ongoing battle with some ferocious South Jersey fleas, but the sunsets —– ah, the sunsets.

Brigantine, New Jersey sunset

A Brigantine, New Jersey summer sunset.

The Pennsylvania Poconos

Woodloch Resort, Pennsylvania Poconos

Fortunately, we didn’t encounter any wild “Etc.”s.

If you’re from Philly and you don’t go “down a shore” for your vacation, you probably go to the Poconos, about a 3 hour drive north from the city. Although we sent one of our sons to summer camp in the Poconos, I had never actually spent much time there myself. In October, I was invited to check out Woodloch, a Poconos family resort. Mr. Excitement tagged along and we had a relaxing few days with no bear or rattlesnake encounters despite the warning signs.

Women at Woodstock

In November I drove to near Woodstock, New York for my first ever women’s retreat at the urging of travel/life blogger Veronica James. I realized that the 4 hour trip was my longest solo drive in quite some time. I can’t swear that I got in touch with my feelings, but it was an interesting time and I discovered There. Are. No. Signs. For. Philadelphia. On. The. New Jersey Turnpike. Southbound. (Wassup with that?)

Back to Spain! Madrid and Cordoba

Mezquita, Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba is best known for the Mezquita, a massive mosque constructed between 784-987. Following the Christian “reconquista”, the Catholic kings built an incongruous cathedral within the mosque, during the 14th to 16th centuries.

In early December, I again boarded a plane bound for Spain–to Madrid this time. Mr. Excitement was invited to speak at a medical research symposium and I was a happy trailing spouse. While he symposed, I visited some of the smaller house museums in Madrid. We also had the chance to meet up with a Spanish classmate from my Zentangle training. Alicia and I had bonded because I did a good deal of translating for her in Providence. We also enjoyed tapas with travel blogger Diana Edelman who we just missed in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2014.

After Mr. E. finished the work portion of our trip, we took the train south to Cordoba, formerly the Muslim capital of Al-Andalus—another beautiful place scarred by the clash of civilizations.

Epilogue – Thank you for reading this far!

I renewed my law licence again in 2015 although I seriously considered not renewing it for the first time. Steve  (Mr. E.) is still fighting the good fight, searching for treatments for mesothelioma and lung cancer, and supporting my travel and zentangle habits. Some five years after we sold our house in the suburbs, we just settled on a condo in our Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. It will be another downsize, but travel has taught us that we can co-exist happily in quite small spaces and that we value experiences more than stuff.

PS:  The wind chill was 1 degree Fahrenheit this morning, so I’m happy to say that our first trip planned for 2016 is back to Hawaii in February.

How was your 2015? Are there any things you’re looking forward to (or dreading) in 2016?

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Maggibee January 5, 2016 at 5:37 pm

Well, Suzanne, although I knew a lot of this from reading your blog through the year, it was an interesting reminder that we are not the only ones who have decided that travel and retirement go hand in glove.
I’m glad you had a good year; I hope you stay healthy, happy and well travelled in the coming year and that we will see you if your planned visit to the UK is still on for May. (After May is tricky because I’m due some rather unpleasant surgery but…)


Patti January 5, 2016 at 5:47 pm

Whew… I read every single word and many of those crossed through (out?) words made me laugh. Technically, is it Dr. Excitement that speaks or Mr. Excitement? Inquiring minds want to know. Anyway, you had yourself one hell of a year and I happily followed along reading your posts. As you know, we also had ourselves quite the year. So much so that we decided (never say never) that this year we are not taking on another crossing of the pond, even though we were really (really) tempted. We want to take another walk, but maybe in 2017. We’re going to spend 2016 traveling the highways of the good old US of A, and that’s why I’m confident (pretty sure) we’re going to make it to Philly in 2016.


Heather Cowper January 5, 2016 at 6:07 pm

TBEX was fun wasn’t it? I only wish I’d had a little more time to do all those foodie things in Barcelona and Girona that everyone else seemed to enjoy


Donna Janke January 5, 2016 at 7:27 pm

You had quite an interesting travel year. I enjoyed reading your posts about it throughout the year. I look forward to reading about your 2016 adventures. Like Patti, I get a kick out of your crossed-out comments. All the best in 2016.


Jacqueline Gum January 6, 2016 at 5:41 am

Such a super duper year… if I were a lesser person, I might be jealous:) But even though I read all of your blogs. this was so very entertaining. I hope 2016 provides you thrice the joy and adventure. Personally, I’m so proud to have you and Dr Excitement as ambassadors for us baby boomers – such wonderful examples of how folks our age still possess a burning curiosity and the motivation to explore.


Irene S. Levine January 6, 2016 at 8:17 am

Wow! You’ve had a very active, interesting and diverse year of travel! And your Zentangle work is beautiful~

It’s always fun reading your posts and vicariously enjoying you “exciting” trips!


Janice Chung January 6, 2016 at 3:05 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and learning about where you ventured. WIsh I had known you when I, too, attended TBEX in Spain. I had such a wonderful time meeting other bloggers. Williamstown is a wonderful place where I have attended the Williamstown Theatre festival on numerous occasions so it was nice to read about your reunion. While I was reading your post I kept thinking: hmmm…….where else would I like to go besides France!


Sue Reddel January 6, 2016 at 4:07 pm

Wow, what a year Suzanne! Surprised Mr. Excitement could keep up. I’m so glad we finally got to meet in person at the AARP event. Hope our paths cross again in 2016!


Anita @ No Particular Place To Go January 7, 2016 at 2:36 am

I love your peace bird and you’ve got me convinced that I need to try Zentangle this year! We used to send out cards and a yearly newsletter and (until this year) we switched to an email version when we began traveling. I guess the custom is fading fast (or we are!) but it was always fun to hear what our old friends were up to. Your photo of La Sagrada Familia reminded me of our month in Barcelona this May and I wish we’d had a chance to meet up. Fortunately, I know you’ll have many travel plans for 2016 and have no doubt that you’ll find yourself in some amazing places. Maybe this year our paths will cross. Happy trails!


Madaline Fluhr January 7, 2016 at 3:58 pm

Ok, Suzanne. The gig is up. The Mr. & Mrs. and/or Dr. & Mrs. Excitement monikers coined for humorous ironic effect are clearly not ironic, at all!!!!! In fact–that is the irony! (Humorous, yes, ironic, no.) Reading of your whirlwind year in one breathtaking list was impressive. And, I, too, always appreciate your reporting, marbled as it is with illuminating bits of history and analysis. If you want to adopt a truly ironic appellation it will need to be something like Mr. & Mrs. Hum-Drum or Mr. & Mrs. Stay-At-Home. I’m glad our paths will cross in February in Florida on one of your first mini trips of the season! Btw I love the Peace bird!! So beautiful.


Rachel Heller January 8, 2016 at 3:16 am

It sounds like you had a great 2015! It was lovely to meet you at TBEX; will you be at the Stockholm on in July?


Suzanne Fluhr January 8, 2016 at 9:57 am

Unfortunately, it’s not looking good for TBEX in July. I try not to travel in Europe during the summer when everyone else is. OTOH, I’d love to be there, so maybe the stars will somehow align.


Dari January 8, 2016 at 10:27 am

Love the Zentangel – haven’t a clue what it is but it reminds me of the geometric art I taught to my math students: String Art. I always enjoyed doing that.


A Cook Not Mad (Nat) January 9, 2016 at 11:13 pm

Great start to the new year, enjoy Hawaii, we know we always do.


Tom Bartel January 13, 2016 at 2:29 pm

So, is Mr. Excitement so named because of his now documented affinity for belly dancers? And, where can I find your video?


Suzanne Fluhr January 22, 2016 at 11:48 am

Tom, Mr. Excitement is named for his general excitementfulness. Don’t be looking for my belly dancing video on YouTube any time soon. 😉


Roz Warren January 24, 2016 at 9:26 am

I’ve also discovered that Philly winters are easier if punctuated with escapes to a warm place. In my case, it’s visiting my son and SIL in California.


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