Posted: 2009-01-12

Sabbatical 2009

Time for a Break

I started my career about 15 years ago and since then, I’ve done a lot of work. When Juli and I decided to move out of the bay area, I figured it would be a good time to take a sabbatical not only from career work but from the daily grind of life in the US. We don’t have anything preventing us from taking unpaid time off and we have money saved that we can dig into a little. We’ll be leaving in the early spring to go to Europe where we’ll spend the remainder of 2009.

Even before this trip starts, I am certain once it’s complete, we will be preaching what a great idea it was and how beneficial it was to our relationship, our careers, our mental health and our views of the world and life in it. People we’ve told so far have all had similar responses saying exactly that - the timing is great and it’s a wonderful idea.

This is the first entry in our travelog for this trip. I hope both of us will be able to post regularly to chronicle our adventures this year and to keep in touch with our friends and family. With any luck it will provide some help and motivation for other people thinking of taking a healthy break in their careers.

Where We’re Going

Our trip starts in Barcelona, Spain, where we’ll stay for a month taking intensive Spanish language courses, checking out the work of Antonio Gaudi and spending lots of time with the locals at La Boqueria, one of the finest food markets in Europe (or so I’m told). After that we’ll head down and around the coast through Valencia landing in Sevilla. Once we leave Spain we’ll head to Lisbon where we’ll stay a month and Juli will practice her Portuguese while I practice eating meat. We’ll then head to Porto and explore northern Portugal (and maybe checkout an FC Porto match) and the Galicia region of northwestern Spain.

By this time it should be close to the end of June and we’ll move on to Paris where will stay a while and Juli will revive her French speaking skills. Once August gets close, we’ll leave the city (just like all the French) and head down to Provence where we hope to spend some time doing volunteer work on a farm (probably not like all the French), and avoiding the August tourist crowds and deserted cities.

After France we’ll head to Italy to Venice (hoping for a month there) and the Cinque Terre. Then we’ll head south to explore some of the regions of my ancestors, Abruzzo and Sicily, as well as the heel of Italy, Puglia. We hope to get in some beach time, a little more farming, and maybe a little language studying for me.

Then we’ll head back toward Barcelona to spend a few days before we return to the US. That’s the plan. I’m sure it will change.

Here’s a map of our plan. Once we get started I’ll be updating a “current progress” map that allows us to keep track of where we go for the entire trip.


-Chad Altemose


Steve Speyer

Boy. That sure sounds like an awesome trip, one with many stories and life experiences to come. Take care!


Have an AWESOME time! I am so jealous, so you must update this site lots so I can daydream of being you guys smile Enjoy the Park Guell in Barcelona, that was just gorgeous!! And eat lots of paella so you can tell me the tricks of how to make it when you get back to ATL. That might be my most favorite dish of all time. Hugs to you both and can't wait to see you soon. xoxoxo, shel

Connie Graf

What a wonderful itinerary. I'll keep checking your progress and look forward to some wonderful stories and photos. Have a safe trip. Love Aunt Connie and Uncle Bob

Patty Swisshelm

Steve and I are getting married August 8th and will be in Portugal the last of August, first week of September. We will be flying into Lisbon then drive to the southern coast near Faro. After that we will fly out of Lisbon to Madiera Island where Steve's family immigrated from- (sailed to Hawaii and stayed). Let me know what you think of Portugal. Miss you!!!

Susan Chubbuck

Hey you two!I wish I had done what you are doing before I had kids.I love the fact that you are sharing your adventure with everyone.I can live vicariously through you as I sift through yet another pile of dishes and the never ending laundry.I can't wait until you arrive in France.That's "cousin" Susan territory as it was the first European country that I ever went to.I wish you were heading to my personal fav (The UK). I say change the itinerary and go see my friends in Blighty.

Bon voyage!
Love,Cousins Susan,Buddy and Girls...

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