Wednesday, September 28, 2016

High School Re-Union

Tomorrow and on Friday, I am off. There is a 4-day High School re-union at a resort hotel down south on the Mediterranean.

About 140-160 people will be attending. I am just hoping that the weather will be nice enough to spend time on the beach. 

This trip has been paid for months ago and the plane ticket was really very inexpensive. The hotel is an all-inclusive type of place and my only out-of-pocket expenses will be parking at the airport and may be a few extra drinks or something.

I am looking forward to this not only because I will be seeing my old friends but that, it is an opportunity to relax a little as well.

This will be the last trip/small vacation I will be taking this year. 

I was not a popular kid at school but had enough friends and High School was a pleasant experience in my memories. No traumas or anything....

I got to know more people during these re-unions and made friends with them. It is always nice to get together and chat, share a few drinks and laugh a lot. In the past we used to have a formal night but not this time. I rebelled against formal dresses and most of the guys agreed with me. So, I am wearing a pair of jeans, sneakers and a nice top for the Gala Dinner. I may put on a little make-up but that's all. I no longer care about impressing other people. whatever makes me feel good, I do it. Fitting in is not an absolute necessity. I can be different and I am comfortable with that.

Some friends of mine never bring bathing suits because they are fat. I am fatter and yet I love the beach and spending time in the water. I refuse to be judged by other people about my looks and I refuse to avoid something that gives me pleasure just because others may not like it.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Number Crunching...

As we are approaching the end of the year, I decided to look at my savings goals for the year.

I did not like what I saw since, I will not be able to meet my savings goal. Here are the major reasons:

1. I have decided to step in and help a family member and I gifted the money.
2. I have budgeted for a lower cost, in-country vacation but decided to take mom to Italy for her birthday.
3. I went to the US for a business trip and spent some money on shopping which was not budgeted.

I was a bit bummed about this but then I remembered to check my numbers by December 2015 and was surprised to find out that by the end of the year I will have increased my savings by 67%! Now, that is a great achievement.

I will plan more carefully for next year factoring in some unexpected expenses. I should have a miscellaneous category in my budget.

Still it is too soon to be thinking about the end of the year so, I will just focus on spending wisely. May be I can make up for a little bit of the gap between my goal and my end of year outlook.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Pictures from our Italy trip!

I am not good with picture taking. But here are some I took during our trip:

 Our tiny rental car. Isn't it cute?

Lake Maggiore


Lake Como

Verona

Torino

Lake Garda (I think!)

Verona


Monday, September 5, 2016

Crazy vacation in Italy!

Mom and I went to Milan for an 8-day trip. We rented a cute Fiat 500 to roam around Milan. It was extremely tiring since I had to do all the driving but, also a great vacation in many ways.

We landed in Milan on a Friday afternoon and got our car and headed towards our hotel. After check-in, we decided to have dinner somewhere in Milan and get a feel for the city.

On Saturday, we went to Lake Maggiore and drove on one shore up to the Swiss border. It was absolutely breathtaking. We stopped at many little towns to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

On Sunday, we visited Lake Como and went to Bellagio with a car ferry. It was also stunning but also very crowded. Como is the "in" place where many famous people own houses. We took a ride up the mountain and saw more spectacular views and took an alternative route back to Milan driving by farms and cheese factories.

On Monday, we drove to Genoa and it's shore a little bit but were less than impressed. I think, we could have skipped Genoa. On the way back, we had dinner in Torino and totally fell in love with that city. It was absolutely very green and beautiful. If I had to live in Italy, that would be the city I would love to live. That was a fun day since we literally had breakfast in Milan, lunch in Genoa and dinner in Torino. I am very much used to driving in a very congested city but, the Italians drive like crazy on the Autostrada (Highway). They drive way past the speed limit.

Tuesday, I did not feel like doing anything. We slept in until noon and then strolled around a mall. Had dinner in Milan at a really nice place where the locals would go.

On Wednesday, we decided to go see Lake Iseo which we instantly fell in love with. I think Lake Como is highly overrated. If I could, I would own a place by Iseo. Such a beautiful and peaceful place. We drove all around it.

Thursday was the day we decided to take the Milan Sightseeing Tour. The Red Line was the best. The Blue and Green Lines were just OK . The Duomo Cathedral and the Castle Sforzesco were magnificent. We were totally exhausted mainly due to the hot and humid weather at the end of the day.

Friday was our last day of vacation so we went to Verona. Took the sightseeing tour there as well. Such a beautiful little city! I am so glad, we did that. It wasn't in our early plans. On the way back to Milan, we visited Lake Garda and had dinner by the Lake.

On Saturday, checked-out, went to the airport and got delayed nearly two hours due to the air traffic not over Milan but over Istanbul and by the time we reached home it was already 7 p.m.

Tried to take it easy on Sunday but there were loads of laundry and a lot of stuff to be put away and I think, I need a vacation to just RELAX.