“Is he still on the boat?”
“He’s still on the boat!!”
As I looked out to the harbor, there was S in his bright orange shirt and bright green wayfarers, smiling and clutching the old boat’s railing as it returned to the dock…for the second time. While the captain loved our groups’ high spirits, the rest of the passengers, unfortunately, did not share the sentiment. I’m sure they were thrilled when we all got off at stop one of three, which is precisely the moment that S thought was a good time to use the loo. And then the boat took off. And then it came back. Our group in uproariously laughter, tipsy from our cruise during which we supplied some delicious Croatian boxed wine and several plastic two liter bottles of beer, took off into the town for another memorable evening on the Dalmatian coast.
This week, I had the honor of being featured on The Pin the Map Project by it’s author, Nikki, who has a passion for travel and travel writing. As she plans a future dream round-the-world trip with her husband, she continues to travel in the present and maintains a full time job in New York City. Cheers to Nikki! When my European sabbatical days come to an end, I hope to channel a little Nikki and continue to make travel a part of my life.
Be sure to swing by The Pin The Map Project for fun and practical travel tips and tales and check out my interview here.
Normandy is an area of rich history, deep tradition, creamy sauces, lush farmland, and warm-hearted people. Eager to experience all that awaits along the Calvados coastline, these two history nerds/foodies hopped in the car for our longest road trip to-date. On the 7.5-ish hour drive (it’s still too soon for S to discuss our “detours”) from Mainz to Saint-Laurent -sur-Mer, we listened to the audiobook of Stephen Ambrose’s D-Day, absorbing the weight of that battle, the youth, innocence, and incredible determination of the American soldiers, most just boys, and the immeasurable odds that they overcame to secure the beaches of Normandy and liberate France. With Ambrose’s words fresh in our minds, and Eisenhower’s order of, “Okay, let’s go,” echoing in the car, we drove up to the bluff above Omaha Beach, and as the Channel, the sand, the dunes, and the wild grasses of the bluff’s northern face came into view, we both inhaled deeply, struck by the magnitude of this location’s past and current beauty and almost afraid to acknowledge the reality of the sadness hovering over and ingrained in the sand.
Why do we travel? New scenery, new people, new food, new passport stamp? To get away from our ordinary? To discover the different? Why do we like different? Do we like different? Is it even about liking? Or is it about learning? What are we learning about? Others? Ourselves? Both? Who knew a vacation could be so complicated?
From my travels, I’ve learned that sometimes we travel to discover and appreciate what is really important to us by shedding our familiar surroundings like a winter coat that’s preventing us from feeling the sunshine on our skin. And the discovery of that warmth is what keeps us venturing out to new places and returning to old favorites. Discovering the world around us – taking in breathtaking natural wonders, eating adventurous foods, and witnessing cultural rituals – is really the bonus. And it’s a great bonus.
So my friend, Katy, is having an amazing year. We grew up playing sports together in Catonsville, Maryland and then attended the same high school where we played basketball and lacrosse, ducked Mr. Evans as he tried to stick a pencil through our earrings (if it fit, the hoops were too big and you got detention), and cheered on Sr. Margaret Andrew as she drained threes in a basketball game against our rival high school’s faculty….in a full dominican habit. It was a pretty good time. We shared a lot of experiences growing up and I think it’s pretty cool that we’re sharing a similar experience now, although Katy’s getting a tan and learning to surf and I’m nearly translucent and learning to speak German. At the moment, Katy is also on sabbatical. She is taking six months off from her amazing job to travel the globe and is writing about it on her blog “Eat the Spider” — without a doubt the coolest title around, with an even better story behind it. You can read Katy’s blog here.
I asked Katy if she’d be interested in writing a guest post for Leap and she agreed and it’s pretty awesome. Here it is:
WHY I TRAVEL
I first got the urge to travel when I was a junior in high school. I attended the same all girls catholic school as Colleen did- Mt. de Sales- in Catonsville, Maryland. During my junior year they offered a trip to Spain that would cover a week in Madrid followed by a week in Barcelona. Despite knowing pretty much nothing about Spain or Spanish culture this seemed like a great idea to me. I wasn’t even particularly interested in Spanish class. I had spent most of my two previous years in Dr. Arellano’s Spanish class trying to convince him to give us a study hall with my friend Steph. Still I had looked up the cities and they seemed so beautiful and different that I really wanted to go. I went home and laid out the trip to my parents and asked them if I could go. “I’m not sure… it looks pretty expensive… we’ll have to wait and see..,” came the reply. Over the next couple of weeks I lightly broached the subject over and over and always got the same reply. Christmas time rolled around and the subject had not recently been discussed as we began opening presents. My mom came over to me beaming on Christmas morning and handed me a book sized package. Confused (because surely she would not have this look of great anticipation over giving me a book) I opened the package prepared to feign excitement at said book. I opened the wrapping to find my first Fromer’s guidebook on Spain. I plastered a smile on. I didn’t want to read about Spain. I wanted to go to Spain. “Thanks…?” I said-being the ungrateful 16 year old that I was. My mom being, well, my mom, noticed my lack of excitement. “Don’t you still want to go to Spain?” she said. “What…?” I was still confused. My mom cottoned on. “You’re going to Spain you idiot!! Did you think we just got you the book?! That would be cruel!” I was so excited I jumped up, hugged my mom and dad and started running laps around the house interspersed with brief periods of flamenco dancing.
I woke up so excited. Showered. Dressed in my most “I’m stylish and put together everyday, naturally, and will be a fine, upstanding, no-trouble-causing resident if you grant my visa request” outfit. I thought about wearing a suit or at least a blazer and decided it would look like I was trying too hard and had to compensate for some lack of good character. So, I wore black skinny jeans, a delicate winter white crew neck sweater with three-quarter sleeves, low black-patent wedges, and a gold and tan-leather statement necklace. I put my hair up in a neat bun and donned my long black winter coat. “Would you give me a visa?,” I asked S. “Absolutely. I’d give you two.” I showed up responsibly early to the 8:00am meeting. I had all of the documents that they told me to have: passport, passport photos, bank statement, letter of support from S and his landlord saying that I have a place to live, a copy of the lease, and a few other forms.
Last September, Claire from Need Another Holiday started the #Take12Trips challenge. I love her vision for the challenge. It’s not about cruising the Mediterranean on a yacht or glamping on safari every month (although I wouldn’t say no if someone offered to take me on those trips), but about getting out of your routine and living life. She hit the nail on the head with this:
Twelve trips in twelve months might not sound like much, but I know what it’s like to get home on Friday and feel like you just can’t be bothered to leave the house all weekend. Lounging in your pyjamas while you watch TV box-sets and become one of the great unwashed for 48 hours can occasionally be very appealing. And sometimes you do need a bit of down time, there’s nowt wrong with that. But there’s a reason people say a change is as good as a rest.
To #take12trips, you only have to commit to doing something once a month. Maybe you’ll overnight in your own city centre or go to a museum you always walk past, but never into. Maybe you’ll drive into the country and spend a weekend at a cute little B&B. Maybe you’ll have a day out to the seaside and take a walk on the beach before scoffing some fish and chips on a battered old bench. Maybe you’ll just go for dinner in the middle of the week to a new place.
I love this challenge and her views on travel as a way to shake out of your routine and take pleasure in living life, whether it be trying something new in your own town or sailing across the globe. I also read about her challenge on On the Luce, who’s author, Lucy, is planning a trip to Morocco next month and I can’t wait to read about it!