The Year That Was and a Dream Trip

It is hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since the fires devastated our region. So much has happened since October 8th, 2017. Yet it seems not that long ago I left our home for 11 days with my stepdaughter and four dogs, not knowing if we would ever see our house standing again. When I think about that time and all that’s happened since, I often need to take a long and deep breath.

Since the fires (both the wine country fires and the fires in Southern California that quickly followed) my husband retired from his 34-year career in the fire service, his father passed away, two of his three children were married, his youngest daughter moved out of our house – and out of the state – leaving us empty nesters and I turned 50. It’s been quite a year. I can’t recall ever experiencing more change in such a short period.

I am more than grateful our home survived the fires. So many wine country residents cannot say the same, sadly, and lots of people continue to have difficulties rebuilding their homes and their lives.

Bill’s eldest daughter and her husband have been able to settle into their new home and their new life as a married couple since losing their home and most of its contents to the fires. That has been relief and a gift for our family. Also, I am abundantly thankful Bill has retired and therefore doesn’t spend days on end during our lengthy fire season, working to exhaustion in smoky, toxic and dangerous conditions.

Today is the first day of October, an important month to me as my birthday and both of my parents’ birthdays are in October, and it’s the month Bill and I were married. Of course it’s also when the fires occurred and when so many things began to shift and change and churn over the last twelve months.

As I approach 51,  my urge to write, share and be creative has returned, so here I am! Rather than try to figure out where to begin with the sharing part, I will just get right to it with what’s dominating my thoughts these days. But first, a little background.

Last year, Bill and I planned to celebrate my 50th birthday in France, leaving on October 11th, but we canceled our trip because of the fires. Although I didn’t want to rebook the trip, Bill convinced me and eventually I came around to the idea. I started planning and dreaming and considering lots of options. After much research, discussion and lots of help from a fantastic travel expert, Adam Martindale of Martindale Travel & Tours, we decided to go on a dreamy Mediterranean cruise to re-celebrate my 50th birthday, my 51st and, most importantly, celebrate and commemorate Bill’s retirement from Santa Rosa Fire Department.

We leave in early November and head to Barcelona for a couple days before we board the ship. We have never been to Spain and I am excited to explore parts of this magical country. Our cruise is 10 nights in duration and at the end, we disembark in Rome where we will stay for a couple of days before heading home.

Lately my thoughts are filled with either dreaming about what we will see and do or figuring out what we both will wear on the ship. We are loyal blue jeans people and I personally live in Birkenstocks. Our cruise line asks that passengers to dress up a bit. They don’t require or expect black tie but jeans are not really allowed after 6 pm.

I have already found some great pants for Bill. Next we will look for a blazer for him. Wearing a uniform for over three decades does not make for much of a dressed up wardrobe.

My searches focus on black pants, a couple of dresses, shoes that are both comfortable and stylish, and blouses/tunics. Also on my mind is how I will avoid gaining 20 pounds eating all that fabulous food on our ship.

Our stateroom looks lovely and spacious and the excursions we reserved sound interesting and exciting. On our one day at sea, we booked a cooking class. Our ship has a culinary department and we will taking a class on cooking seafood! Oh, and spa treatments are on the agenda too.

This will be our first cruise ever and it’s sure to be a trip of a lifetime for us. We have been to Rome before but many of the other destinations our cruise is taking us to are firsts for us.

Any advice on cruising in general, and visiting Spain, Malta, South of France, Pompeii, and Monaco are appreciated!

I hope you’ve all been well. Happy October!



  1. October 1, 2018 / 2:28 pm

    🙂 Dear Adrienne,
    wow, those are a lot of changes!
    Your Europe trip sounds fantastic. Don’t forget to bring some warm clothes. November in Southern Europe can be quite chilly.
    I’m looking forward to reading about your travel plans.
    Have a very HAPPY October!
    Claudia :_)

    • Adrienne Shubin
      October 2, 2018 / 9:54 am

      Hi Claudia,
      Yes, it’s been quite a year! Thank you for the reminder to bring some warm clothes. I guess layers are the way to go. I have a couple of nice lightweight jackets that are water resistant and pack well – I can layer them with scarves and sweaters.
      Happy October to you as well! I love this time of year.
      Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Abbe
    October 1, 2018 / 2:38 pm

    Hi Adrienne!

    I spent two weeks in the South of France and it is lovely, but the absolute highlight was the magical, medieval, Eze Village. Try to go to Chevre d’or for the spectacular views and a glass of champagne! I celebrate my birthday in October as well so CHEERS to you and Bill!


    • Adrienne Shubin
      October 2, 2018 / 10:03 am

      Hi Abbe – I will have to see if Eze Village is close enough to our port in Toulon. There are so many great excursion options each time we stop, it’s hard to make up one’s mind!
      Happy birthday to you! Is your birthday coming up soon? Mine is not until the 25th. My mother’s is the 30th and my dad’s is the 20th. I was born right in the middle. Isn’t that weird?
      Thank you for the France tip!

  3. October 1, 2018 / 2:56 pm

    A WELL DESERVED JOURNEY♥️Todd’s youngest ALLYSA WALDMAN lives in BARCELONA, has for quite awhile. Tori could give you her number for tips on where to go. She loves sharing , she travels all over the world with her beau.she has a Carmel

    • Adrienne Shubin
      October 2, 2018 / 10:04 am

      Hi Sherry! I will ask Tori for Allysa’s info. We are in Barcelona for a little less than 48 hours. Hopefully she is available when we’re there and we can meet up with her for tapas or something!
      Hope you are doing well and that the hummingbirds are enjoying your lovely garden (and not being bullies!).

  4. Joann
    October 1, 2018 / 3:16 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful trip. Enjoy. Nice to read your blogs again

    • Adrienne Shubin
      October 2, 2018 / 10:05 am

      Thank you, Joann. It feels great to write again. I am so excited to take this trip – already thinking about all the great photo opportunities!
      Thank you for stopping by!

  5. Mummaducka
    October 1, 2018 / 3:33 pm

    I’ve never been on a cruise and have been warned not to with my menierres! So all i can advise is to take anti nausea meds with you! Plus headache meds to deal with hangovers! Lol.
    I didn’t do anything for my 50th either, so am just waiting for the right thing to come along to take my interest!
    Aren’t we lucky that we have the mindset to take or leave something because we know that other opportunities will present themselves? I’m just not a now or never type of gal! I’m happy to wait to get something perfect for all the family. Xx

    • Adrienne Shubin
      October 3, 2018 / 9:30 am

      Jodie – that is not a chance I would want to take either (cruising with menierres). I worry a tad about seas sickness but I am bringing meds and I have never had it before. Bill and I are going to be staying on our friends’ boat for about 5 days later this month – if I can make it through unscathed, I will be good to go on the ship.
      After we had to cancel my 50th trip to France last year, I sort of lost interest. The fires were so awful and their impact was long lasting (still, a year later) that the thought of being so far away from home was unsettling and unappealing.
      I am glad I came around though and thrilled to be on a trip where we are always on the move but don’t have to catch trains, busses, etc and constantly pack and unpack.
      We are so very lucky to have a take it or leave it mindset. I did not have that 10 years ago – I was very impatient but age has helped improve my patience in certain areas (but it’s worsened in others, strangely).
      Thank you for stopping by! I love seeing your photos on IG. Hope all is well and you’re having a lovely spring! xo

  6. Diane
    October 1, 2018 / 3:40 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful trip! Some cruise lines dress for dinner, and others not so much, but as you know lots can be done with a black dress or skirt!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      October 2, 2018 / 10:41 am

      Hi Diane,
      Can you believe I don’t own a single skirt? Not a one. I think a simple black dress is something I might have in my closet already…something I can change up with accessories. Thanks for the ideas!

  7. KSL
    October 2, 2018 / 5:53 am

    So happy you’re least for now. What a year, it’s hard to adjust to so many changes at once and I’m sure for it all to sink in. Your trip sounds fantastic – really dreamy. Congratulations on navigating such an up and down year with grace.

    • Adrienne Shubin
      October 2, 2018 / 10:42 am

      Thank you, K! Bill and I are very excited about our trip. It’s pretty much all I think about these days.
      Thank you for stopping by! A

  8. October 2, 2018 / 6:25 am

    HOOK up with CHATEAU BEL AGE on INSTAGRAM……….she will TEXT YOU some choices……
    Or go to my BLOG post NOW and watch her VIDEO!On multiply ways to tie a KIMONO!FROM POOL TO DINNER to walking around the VATICAN!
    SECOND you need to connect with LOREE……..she lives in MALTA!WRITES A BLOG!Married to an AMERICAN!The Blog is called SINCERELY LOREE……..excellent WRITER!GREAT PHOTOS!
    EAT pasta than a meat or fish……..DONT be AMERICAN and eat PASTA AND SALAD for DINNER!!!!!!
    The portions are much smaller than HERE!ALWAYS end with salad and some fruit!YOU will burn it OFF WALKING!!!!
    They will ask you if you want water with GAS or NO GAS……that means BUBBLES or NO BUBBLES!
    ENJOY and I look forward to THE POSTS!!!!!!!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      October 3, 2018 / 9:24 am

      Hello Elizabeth! I always love to hear from you – and what a surprise to find there is lovely blogger in Malta! I have already started following her on IG and will send out a message to her soon.
      I love your pasta advice and I love pasta – especially in Italy where it is THE very best!
      I plan on walking as much as possible. I always do when we visit Europe but worried we would not get as many opportunities being on a ship.
      I will see what Chateau Bel Age has on IG for me. I do love a gorgeous kimono…and that is a fantastic idea for travel. Hugs to you!!! Would love to see you again one of these days…we are not so far away from each other. Perhaps a meet up for lunch or drinks in early December? A

  9. Mary
    October 2, 2018 / 9:51 am

    I once managed to lose 5 lbs on a cruise. How? Rather than eating whole portions of the meals, I merely sampled most of the food that was provided (assuming it was something I liked–and I asked for small portions so as not to waste food). I was never hungry and didn’t feel as though I was missing anything. The next thing I did was to get up very early every morning and fast-walk at least a mile on the track that was on top deck of the ship. My deck walking provided entertainment for an elderly man who sat up there every morning, watching from the sidelines, as the ship was often steaming along at a clip (between Caribbean islands), so that when walking in the forward motion (against the wind) I had to lean in hard to keep up a good pace, but when I rounded the front of the ship for the return revolution and had the wind to my back, I looked like some invisible giant was pushing me down the track–at speed. He thought it was very amusing.

    Regardless, enjoy your trip. Doubtless you will be doing a lot of walking in every port.

    • Adrienne Shubin
      October 3, 2018 / 9:19 am

      Hi Mary,

      These are such fantastic tips! Thank you so much! I hate to miss out on delicious food. Trying the cuisine of places I visit is part of the experience, I believe. So not partaking just seems sad. I will make a point of asking for small portions. Our ship does have an exercise track that I will use. And I plan on keeping up with my Pilates routine – mat rather than reformer – and doing as much walking when we port as I can. I love your suggestion of walking into the wind. Brilliant!
      Thank you again!

  10. October 2, 2018 / 10:04 am

    It’s so good to hear from you again! I’m happy to hear of your celebration plans – but so sorry that you were not able to enjoy your planned time in our much-loved Ambiance d’Aix in Aix en Provence – maybe another time in the future?
    We’re on the Amalfi Coast at the moment, but just enjoyed a week in Barcelona and the surrounding area – I’m sure you’ll love it!
    Happy travels – and keep writing!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      October 2, 2018 / 10:11 am

      Hi Anne! I have been thoroughly enjoying your Amalfi Coast photos. They are magical!
      I was pretty frustrated after having to untangle last year’s trip – you were so gracious to allow us to cancel. Others we booked with were not so kind and understanding. In the end it all worked out. Bill and I have had such a crazy year we wanted to do something easy and we have always wanted to try a cruise.
      We will be arriving in Toulon on November 11th for the day – it’s a Sunday. Will you be in Aix that day? We were thinking of visiting.
      Thank you again for your kindness and understanding. It was so disappointing to have to cancel our trip. I was very much looking forward to it.
      Let me know if you are around and maybe we can meet! Adrienne

  11. October 2, 2018 / 6:45 pm

    It was so great to see you and Bill in Calistoga last weekend. Your cruise sounds so fabulous, and I can’t wait to hear about it! Happy 51st, and Happy Anniversary!!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      October 3, 2018 / 8:51 am

      Hi Susan, It was so great to see you guys too! Thank you for having us visit you at your gorgeous hotel. It was such a treat to catch up with you!

  12. Rhona Brose
    October 3, 2018 / 1:44 pm

    Welcome to Europe, Adrienne! Love your blog. I hope you have a fantastic experience on your forthcoming trip. A shame you will not make it to Germany this time, as you are obviously a great wine enthusiast, but I hope to travel to California in 2019 to experience all your wine country has to offer.
    Have fun, and please let us know all about your travels via your blog, Rhona

    • Adrienne Shubin
      October 5, 2018 / 8:28 am

      Thank you, Rhona! We have been to Europe 6 or 7 times but yet to visit Germany, though it is on my list of countries to see. When the time comes for us to visit, I may ask you for your recommendation and please feel free to do the same with me should you plan to come to wine country.
      Thank you for stopping by! Adrienne

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