Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ten Years Down, Forever To Go

We have lots of ambitions and plans for this sweet little house of ours, but this year we wanted to spend our money a little differently... because it's our ten year wedding anniversary! When we got married, we were both graduate students and didn't have much money to travel. We wanted to do something special, so to celebrate we went to Italy, Montenegro, and Greece, three lovely places neither of us has ever been before:
We took a cruise that started in Venice, stopped in the Bay of Kotor (Montenegro), and then went down the Greek Isles to places like Corfu, Mykonos, Athens, and Kefalonia. It's pretty much impossible to condense such a wonderful trip into a blog post, but if you'd like to see some more photos, you can check them out here. (Have no idea how to embed an album slideshow here... Google, why do you make that so difficult?)

One of the fun things about doing the cruise is we really got to experience so many different things in such a short time frame. We got to walk along the same pathways Socrates once trod in Athens, floated down the Grand Canal in Venice, we got to relax on the beach in Kephalonia, eat fresh seafood in Corfu, and see the walled city of Kotor. We went our own way virtually everywhere except Athens; we knew we wanted to see as much as possible in a really short amount of time, so we hired a tour guide to take us around in a private car. If you're ever blessed to visit Athens, I can't speak highly enough of Private Greece Tours. We were able to see so much in a very short amount of time, and we can't wait to get a chance to go back.

We did choose to spend a couple of days on Venice at both the beginning and end of the cruise, and I'm so glad we did; there was so much to see and explore. The first night we stayed in a former palace, the Boscola Venezia, in a quiet neighborhood in the Cannaregio district. When we came back, we decided it would be fun to stay closer to Piazza San Marco, so we stayed in this beautiful hotel where our balcony looked directly out to the canal beneath us and the Torre Dell'Orologio! And, although you can't really see it in the video, the very top of the spires of St. Mark's Basilica.

That was our wonderful trip! So, we may not have the budget for any cool house projects this year, but we have so many lovely memories from this trip.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Six Months Update: Better Late Than Never?

I was at a neighborhood meet and greet this past weekend, and the subject of blogs came up, and it got me to thinking... shew, it's been a while. Now that we've been actual homeowners for over six months, I figure this blog is probably (long) overdue for an update.

What We Like...

  • Overall, we are super happy with this house. It's not huge, but it's very cleverly designed such that we've really enjoyed being able to entertain and have friends over without feeling squashed. There are small things I'd like to be different -- sacrificing some space in the master bedroom to have a less cramped laundry room, a bigger balcony -- but mostly we really do like the layout. We've noticed a few settlement cracks here and there, and a nail pop or two, but nothing excessive.
  • It's quiet. For those of you contemplating a condo, I don't know if we've been blessed with very quiet neighbors or if the sound attenuation is as good as they say it is, but we seldom hear our upstairs neighbors. Not never, just seldom. The place with the least amount of soundproofing is the stairwell, so periodically we hear them when they are bringing the dogs down for a walk. And, hand to God, I don't know if we've ever heard the neighbors that live next door.
  • Location. While we both miss living in Washington itself, being less than a mile from the Metro means we get to enjoy the city life all the time without the price tag of what living there would cost. I also like that we're sandwiched essentially a mile in any direction to major roadways such as 495, 295, and Route 1: close enough to enjoy the benefit, far enough away to avoid the noise.
  • Energy savings. This one is hard to quantify, but we're living in the biggest space we've ever lived in, and paying roughly the same or less in energy costs. I have no idea how we compare to others, but we average about $65 in electricity per month.

What We'd Change...

  • Living in a construction zone. Obviously, this problem eventually go away, but we're really looking forward to not hearing construction noise all the time. It was such a bummer in the spring time to keep our windows closed, because it was just so noisy! Also, some of the construction workers are occasionally disrespectful and leave trash on the ground, so it means dog owners have to keep eyes peeled for chicken bones, etc.
  • No walking path yet. The developers are legally obligated to build one, so just like the construction zone, I know this is an issue that will eventually get resolved, but walkability to Metro is the main reason we paid a premium to buy into this community. The developers are currently paying for a shuttle bus service, but it only runs during the peak hours, which doesn't always work for my husband.
  • The carpet. We didn't spend money on upgrading this because we would eventually like to pull it out in favor of hardwood anyway, but it's sorry looking for only six months of wear.
Some pictures from around the house...

Living room and dining room:



Guest bedroom:

Laundry room/pet zone.
Kitty gets a special entrance because otherwise the dog is a jerk and eats his food.