This fall of 2010 marks the 5 year anniversary of our sabbatical trip to Europe, something we have dubbed our "Eurotour". Christian and I were childless, jobless, and dreaming (not a recommended combination for maintaining stability in your life.) We took 3 months to travel to various places in Europe, starting in Norway and ending up in Spain. It sounds so romantic. Parts of it really were, but other parts of it were awfully not romantic, like getting kicked out of the train station at 2am into the below 0 night and sleeping on a bench that looked as if it had been cleaned 20 years ago.
More than any other reason, we went as an escape from Christian's crazy difficult, all-consuming job. He quit, we flew to Europe. The intent was to rejuvenate, but there is something not-so-relaxing about staying in a different hotel every night, if you can classify the places we stayed as "hotels", that is. We would never trade in the experience, but we don't exactly plan to repeat it any time soon either. It was a character-building season for us as we sorted through the past frenzied year, and worried about our future in the life we left at home. In remembrance of that adventurous, dirty, growing, teachable, tragic, spectacular time in our lives, here are a few of the take-home lessons:
- If you want to take it with you, you have to be able to carry it.
- Eat as many pastries as possible.
- Mooch off of European family members while in the right countries.
- Thanksgiving is best celebrated with family, but if that is not an option, then celebrating in a pristine castle with American military families will work. I guarantee you have never been so cold at Thanksgiving on American soil.
- One can only absorb so many museums.
- Spain has the best coffee and chocolate pastries, and the dirtiest places to eat them. At 9am bars were filled with smoke and the floor was littered with trash. Apparently it is acceptable to throw your trash on the floor in a restaurant.
- Find the beauty in something old...
... and something relatively new.
- Whenever possible, take the path least traveled.
Despite the adventures we had while traveling, the greatest lesson learned was that it doesn't matter how many places you have visited in life, if you don't have anyone to share them with, life is empty. More than anything else, we missed our community of friends and family. It is impossible to replace the history we have with those who know and understand us. Traveling can be fun, but in the end, life is only about relationships.