If the last two years are any evidence, shortly after the kids’ birthday party, and when the Easter candy has been reduced to two Peeps in a ziploc bag and three chocolate mini eggs, there will be a little hollow in my spirit that forms as I reminisce, and reflect upon, one of the greatest adventures of my life, and one of the best things I’ve ever done for ‘me’.
I’m talking about what we call ‘Our Europe Trip’. We’ve been to Europe may times already, but this is the one that was more than just a holiday. Finally free of the shackles of a 70+ hours a week job, and uncommitted to work for the first time since I was about 15, the biggest personal goal for my sabbatical, was to take a trip. A trip that would be internationally recognized as a real trip. As an American, it’s ingrained in the fabric of our being that no vacation lasts more than two weeks, and to even consider taking two full weeks in a row, should you even have that much time available to you, is to somehow give testament to a less than dedicated work ethic, show lack of respect for others who will have to fill in the gaps created by your absence, and risk rendering yourself obsolete in the workplace.
It’s a topic that is covered in our household often. My husband, an Aussie, starts any vacation conversation with a stipulation ‘4 weeks this time.’ It always gets whittled down from there. But this was our chance. I’ve always loved the idea of living in another country for a time, and Europe has always at the top of my list. My first few trips to Italy yielded the epiphany ‘I have to live here’. A past trip to France did the same. But what was it really like, if we were there for more than a few days, now that the novelty of a brand new place had worn off? Our interest was piqued.
We had an amazing experience for seven weeks, covering fifteen cities in four countries (Italy, Croatia, Greece, France). We rented apartments instead of hotels, booked ourselves on our cruise (Croatia/Greece), and brushed up on our dismal Italian and French. For us, it was traveling in a whole new way, and we were approaching it with a new perspective. We cast out the rose colored glasses, and committed “Can we live here?” to our minds. With our then 2 year-old daughter in tow, we ate, we saw, we lived, and we relished every minute. This spring, in an attempt to satiate my need for what’s turning into annual nostalgia, I’ll be going through my travel logs, reminiscing about the places and experiences that touched us along the way.