Traveling, I love to travel. Exploring is invigorating for me. I think it always has been, even since I was young. At the age of eleven my parents took me to Greece for a week in the summer of 1976 before I went to spend a week with my godmother who lived in Paris at that time. Lucky, I was lucky. Having just studied Greek history and myths, I was enthralled with everything I saw. I have such clear memories of this trip. I was lucky to spend the time with both of my parents and lucky to have this experience. The things I recall from the trip are seeing the Parthenon, going to Delphi, and visiting the island of Mykonos. The visit to Mykonos was memorable – either because I had never seen (or considered) that topless bathing was a thing… or because my dad lost his wallet and passport – temporarily. As an eleven year old, I was sure this would mean that he would be left behind in Greece; naivete of a young traveller on both counts.
Throughout my life I have been fortunate to explore a number of states and countries. I love the mountains, the ocean, the lakes, the cities, and small towns. I love the languages that are used in the many places I have visited. While I only speak two well, I appreciate the encouragement to learn and use other languages when visiting foreign places.
This past month we travelled to Italy and Spain. While this was my second time visiting Italy, my husband had never been there before and this made the trip a special one. Additionally, our youngest daughter is studying in Florence and we had the opportunity to spend some time with her as well. Our trip – Venice, Florence, Rome, Sorrento, Capri, and Barcelona – fed my love of adventure in a way I had not expected. To have the chance to witness my husband’s reaction to new places, incredible beauty of the impressive paintings, architecture, and experiencing new cultures moved me. I had the chance to walk the streets of Venice with both my husband and my daughter – a place neither of them had been. While I love to experience my own “firsts” in travel, I realized how much I appreciate seeing the reactions of those I love to their “firsts” in travel. Seeing a place through the senses of your loved ones is an amazing travel experience of a completely different kind. In this moment I reflected back on my trip with my parents to Greece and France. This was something that my own mom had talked about but I didn’t appreciate fully at the time.
Of course, as a family, we have traveled to different places, mostly within the US and Canada; our travel abroad experiences have been limited – children cost $$! I saw glimpses of this in 2012 when we took our youngest to England to see our son’s crew team compete at the Henley Royal Regatta. Our children have traveled with their grandparents and on various school trips. But I have found myself writing in my journal on this recent trip more about witnessing my husband and daughter’s experience in Venice. It is such a unique city, but their awe of the place, the beauty, and the culture found me appreciating a place I had already been to in different ways than when I was there in 1986 with college friends. Our focus at that time was to see the sites but also, we were college students…!
This time we had discussions about the environment and its obvious effects on a city like Venice, businesses and how they are affected by this as well. Talking about what we saw in terms of culture differences – personal space – what’s that…? you are from another place – tell me about it – you are different than I am – how cool! – you want to learn our language – great, what can I teach you/help you with?! These are things that we know are missing – all too often – in our own country today.
This is just a start of my own reflections on our past trip. I will have a number of other posts coming soon. My advice for now is – if you have the itch to travel, go do it; even if it is not far from home. When you go, go with an open mind and pay attention to the experiences of your loved ones – it will enrich your own experience.