Something Old, Something New, and Something Blue
So, here we are, the last full day of my “European Vacation”. I had a nice relaxing day today. I mostly ran errands to prepare for the trip to Frankfurt, Germany and the flight to San Francisco. I went through all my gear and packed as best I could. I did have to retire a couple of pairs of underwear. Remember, this was our last hurrah together. I had little ceremony: said a few words, saluted them, and gave them a proper burial into Deb’s garbage can. I also gave Deb a few things that I wasn’t going to use like some books, maps, and some horrid French toothpaste I brought that tasted like Aloe Vera. Yuck!
Deb was at work most of the day. She invited me to a little work social in the evening, but I declined to prep my stuff and enjoy one last solo day. I walked around Strasbourg most of the morning and wandered the side streets.
I bought myself lunch at a place Deb took me to a while back (Something Old), later in the evening I took myself out to dinner at a nice little tucked-away restaurant (Something New), and then sat there by myself thinking of how my trip has now come to a close (Something Blue).
I was the only person in the restaurant. There is a lot of Easter festivities going on in town so it might have been due to the busy weekend ahead. I treated myself to the Filet Mignon, a couple of nice wheat beers, and dessert. When the main course came out I got a plate of filets covered in a light gravy with chopped mushrooms. Also, it came with a giant bowl of plain pasta to mix with it. It was delicious! I sat there just thinking about my trip and many things in the room reminded me of things I had experience over the past several months in addition to people I’ve missed back home. It was silly. You know, there was a portrait that reminded me of a man I shared my first overnight train car with in Germany, a bottle of wine on the mantel that reminded me of that half liter of wine in Florence, the stylistic writing on the wall reminded me of that gypsy cave in Granada, a bottle of whisky nearby reminded me of the people I met in Wales, and so on. The more I think about it the more I realized that most everyday was a new adventure. Rarely there was a day where I said, “Not a whole lot happened today…..maybe tomorrow I get off Deb’s couch and turn off the television.”
I just sat and thought to myself, “How lucky am I?” You know, I’m pretty proud for sticking to my personal philosophy of experiencing new things and getting out there into the unfamiliar…..at least the unfamiliar to me. It is funny that many people have mentioned along the way, “travel sure makes you appreciate home more”. I wish I could say that was totally true, but I think it goes far beyond that. It makes you not only appreciate home, but where you live, how you live, and who you experience life with. This trip has been one of the best things for me in many ways……except financially. Ha! But like I said, “It has been worth every penny!” The other thing that some people always say is, “Oh, you’ll travel an you’ll find yourself”, but also I don’t know if that has been true in my case. If anything, it sure reconfirmed many of my values. I’ve always said, “I don’t need to find myself…..I’m right here”. However, if there is anything I have found it would be knowledge. The knowledge of how and what other people think, value, and desire. The world is very small and yet we have so many differences among us. My niece Abby sent me an e-mail a while back and asked, “What has been your favorite country?” Honestly, I was dumbfounded by the question. I just couldn’t answer it simply. I told her that I’ve loved all the places I’ve visited for such different reasons; whether it be the scenery, the people, the architecture, the food, etc. Yes, there were times that I didn’t particularity care for one place or any other, but I’ve always known that experiences fluctuate. Maybe I’ll make my way back to Croatia and I’ll have a stellar time……maybe Naples won’t change much, but I digress.
On this trip I’ve seen a lot of things, drank a lot of beer, eaten a lot of food, and been on a lot of trains, planes, and automobiles. However, one thing stands out among everything else and I noticed this very early on in Copenhagen; It’s the people. You meet so many people along the way and you share your experiences with each other. In many cases I didn’t even get peoples names, but I sure remember where they’ve traveled, where they were going to travel, and why it was important to them. These “temporary friends” impact you in certain ways that it is hard to describe, but for a brief moment in time you are able to get together, share your experiences, and enjoy a beer. The only difference is that they are on a different journey. Of course there are people who are less than welcoming, but I’ve been very lucky due to some great advise I got overhearing a conversation on a bus to Dingle, “I’m picky about who I’ll share a drink with.” Life IS short, and so it is important to surround yourself with good people and enjoy and appreciate what life has in store for you. I’ve always said that, “Life is a challenge and it’s how you overcome those challenges that displays what kind of a person you are”. There is no doubt that this trip has been similar to that of a rollercoaster. There has been ups, downs, twists, turns, anticipation, thrills, lulls, and some scary parts. Yet, when that ride is over you take a quick breath and then you say, “Let’s do that again!” The reason why is because of those people on the ride with you; whether physically or those who sit back and watch in support of your endeavors.