Traveler’s Journal: France & Spain

Sequim couple detail adventures overseas in the ‘Old World’

Back in 2006, my wife, Christiane, and I decided to sell our house, most of its contents, quit our jobs and go travel. We both traveled quite a bit before we met and continued our travels together as much as we could since meeting in Chile in 1999.


Our goal was to make a list of countries we wanted to visit and have a two-year window of travel. The list grew and grew, but we both agreed we would rather visit fewer places and spend more time in the places we picked.


We also wanted the flexibility to stay longer or leave earlier if we wanted. We decided to buy flexible around-the-world airline tickets in one direction with minimum fees for changes. We had to set up the banking, mail checking and try to be as free as you could be. We would pack up a couple of backpacks and travel by planes, trains, boats, bus and car when we could.


Our first six months of travel was in Europe — this travel journal will focus on our two months in France and Spain. This was the first part of our adventure so we figured we would start in countries that are easily traveled.


We found a great company that we had used before for car rental; it is actually a car lease if you rent for more than 17 days. We both like the independence of having our own travel means, especially for photography and coming and going as we like.


After a week in Paris we picked up a brand new Peugeot and headed out to explore as much of France and Spain as we could. We drove to the Monet area of Giverny, then next to the coast and Normandy, a somber place with visions of the great sacrifices made here. On to quiet little villages in the wine region and the goose pâté­ region.


Over the border to Spain and into Barcelona, a city that does not sleep — at least at night. After a few days we continued down the coast, Don Quixote domain looking for our own windmills to do battle with and into the capital of Madrid.


We took in the great scenery in the Basque region and then back over the border into France once again with a visit to the pilgrimage mecca of Lourdes. Our last stops in France were in Provence and Côte d’Azur, a great place to end.


Over the two months we enjoyed many great times, sights and history. As with almost all the places we have traveled we would love to go back, but you never know if you will.


So we took full advantage of the great opportunity we had to visit many great places and have few regrets if we did not make it back.


We have had so many great experiences, memories, new friends we made, traveled with and probably most importantly, an even greater appreciation of how lucky we are and how life can be pretty simple if you do not complicate it so much.


We have been asked many times which was our favorite place and we both cannot pick one since every place is special in its own way, along with memories we made.


We hope to never stop traveling, just a little differently now that we have a 3-year-old little girl. Life is good.



About the presenters:

Arvo and Christiane Johnson

Arvo, with a passion for the outdoors and photography, and Christiane, an architect, started their love of traveling together after meeting in Chile in January 1999. After Christiane moved from Germany in 2000, they continued their travels as much as possible. In 2006, they decided to travel for a couple of years and made a list of countries to visit but the list had to be reduced since the goal was to spend more time in the countries they explored.


Combined, Arvo and Christiane have traveled to more 50 countries either together or individually and plan to continue this adventurous life along with their 3-year-old daughter.

They have just finished building their home in Sequim, which was another adventure in itself, doing most of the work themselves. Love life, Live life.



About the presentation:

(Note: This presentation and the remainder of the Traveler’s Journal shows will be in the Sequim High School cafeteria, 601 N. Sequim Ave.)


Traveler’s Journal is a presentation of the Peninsula Trails Coalition. All of the money raised is used to buy project supplies and food to feed volunteers working on Olympic Discovery Trail projects.


Shows start at 7 p.m. The cafeteria benches are hard and people should bring their own cushions.

Suggested donation is $5 for adults. Those 18 and younger are free.


One selected photo enlargement is given away each week as a door prize.


Call Dave Shreffler at 683-1734 for more information.