Tuesday, June 7, 2011
What a Trip! Our (almost) year on the road...
It has been a fantastic year (almost) of being road warriors so I thought I'd do a little summary (well, I will shoot for little, but it's been a big year!) and share some thoughts.
200 days on the move (with a few more to come soon...)
6 countries (U.S. included)
Here's a list of all the cities where we touched down:
U.S.: Atlanta, Greensboro, Nashville, Oak Ridge, TN, Nags Head/Outer Banks, NC, Charleston,SC, Richmond, Washington, D.C, Baltimore, Charleston, SC, Seattle, San Clemente, Laguna Beach & Anaheim, CA
Canada: Vancouver, British Columbia; Parksville, BC; Victoria, BC (& a few other little towns on Vancouver Island)
U.K.: Gibraltar, London, Bath, Lacock, Stonehenge
Spain: Alicante, Valencia, Denia, Benidorm, Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, Sevilla, Vejer de la Frontera, Jerez, San pol de Mar, Montserrat
People most often ask what our favorite place/experience was, and that is truly a hard question to answer (like picking your favorite child:-). But, overall I tell people that the ability to live in Spain for three months and the day-to-day experiences are some of the fondest memories. That may not be the most exciting answer, compared to standing at the top of Gibraltar looking out into Africa or absorbing the sights and smells of the crowded markets in Tangier, but it holds the dearest spot in my heart. There is something different about being settled in a "home away from home" and doing all of the day to day (sometimes mundane) tasks in a new place that made me feel very alive and refreshed. I never did a "gap year" or a semester abroad, but I fully believe it is something everyone should experience at some point in life.
There is so much to discover, no matter how short or long a distance you travel. We went to new neighborhoods and caught up with old friends in places we had lived before, like Atlanta and Nashville. We delved in to bits of American history at Oak Ridge and on a Charleston carriage tour. Our relaxing visit to the Outer Banks was full of memories of family beach trips over the years. We've tasted wine in such a wide variety of regions, I've learned good wine is not exclusive to one terrior. And, we've seen the differences and similarities of people of many cultures. And, rediscovered the goodness inherent in humankind.
One of my other loves in life is reading and I always try to put my books together with my travels and places. I have tried to absorb things about the history and culture of some of the places we have traveled by simultaneously reading books about them or by local authors. I think I read every memoir of expats in Spain (and there are quite a few, full of humorous stories). I enjoyed some wonderful novels based in Barcelona, a history of Venice, a modern day look at Spanish culture and politics , and laughed my way through Bill Bryson's account of England during our days in the U.K. I try to rotate some of those books throughout the Amazon favorites section on the blog, but feel free to email me for (or with) suggestions too.
What will I take away from our journeys? A brain bursting with memories...sights, sounds, smells, newly discovered favorite foods and beverages and new friends. Also, a renewed love for travel and zest for life. Travel can be discomforting in many ways, and that's a positive in that it gets you "out of the rut"...that's my experience at least.
You can not only discover new things about the world, but about yourself. You may rethink your priorities or be opened up to ideas you wouldn't have at home. For some, it means coming home and feeling a renewed appreciation of the comforts of home. For others, it is a reminder of all that there is left to explore. And, that coming home can mean many different things. Personally, I have learned that home is not my house and that things mean very little to me. But, home is friends and family who mean everything. Home doesn't have to be a place...I feel the world is my home and that I was meant to see more of it. I have had wanderlust as long as I can remember and I know it is part of me. I am anchored by my friends and family who I know will be close by wherever I go. Fortunately, with today's technology and (relative) ease of travel, we're never far apart.
We've been lucky to do a lot of travel before this whirlwind trip as well, and you can read about more of our adventures in past posts. You can see we don't necessarily discriminate in the type of travel we will do...everything from baseball trips around the U.S. to luxury cruises. But, our favorite travel really is getting in to the local area and discovering as much on our own as we can...and getting those glimpses of day to day life even if it isn't a three month stay.
Happy travels to all and here's to many more adventures!