Sunday, June 19, 2011

Reflections: Looking Back on My Europe Trip - almost 2 years later

This rock sits on my windowsill. I picked it up from the beach in Rhodes, Greece when I made my first trip there. It is just one reminder I have of the 7 months I spent travelling Europe in 2009/2010.

Two years ago today, I was counting down the days to my departure, and wrote this More Toes Than Days To Go blogpost 9 days before my departure. I was clearing out my apartment, making final preparations and trying, unsuccessfully, to contain my excitement.

These days that trip is still with me and the memories are as sharp as if I was still there. I can feel atmosphere of Berlin or Barcelona if I just close my eyes. Heck, I can even do that with my eyes open. Barcelona, Aix-en-Provence, Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Berlin, Rhodes, Athens, Madrid, La Alberca... so close I can almost touch them. Yet that world feels so far away from where I am today: living in sleeping little Sidney, BC, Canada with my sweet 89 year old mom and an adorable cat.

One of the things that keeps the memories alive is the little things I have around me from my trip. Perhaps the most prominent of those is this little orange leather purse that I got in Florence. I have used it every days since I bought it and still get compliments on it. In addition to its lovely colour, it's neat as it holds a whole bunch of stuff, while still being quite a tiny purse. In fact, I could have this view today, aside of the ground: I still wear that top, and still wear those adorable little sneakers that I bought one hot July day in Barcelona.

It's the little things that provide those memories. That rock on my windowsill, my purse, the loofa sponge I bought from a seaside vendor during my first trip to the old town of Rhodes. It makes me smile each time I shower (and I'm impressed that it's only just now starting to show a bit of wear - I'll probably still be using it for years to come). And my big, sloppy, comfy grey zip-up sweatshirt that I bought when I returned to Barcelona in January when it was cccccold (was staying in a place with no heat, common there, as it doesn't usually get that cold) - I wear it around the house practically every day, though the zipper is long broken. These are my everyday touchstones.

Those touchstones are pure magic, as they have the power to take me back, to connect now to then, and keep all I learned about myself on my trip front of mind.

It's important, as sometimes I feel very far from travel, the wide stretches of open time, the freedom, the learning, the beauty....

Don't get me wrong. I am very happy to be where I am right now, doing what I'm doing, 'tis meant to be. But I still feel that travel itch, and ponder where I'll go when I go mobile again.

And it's not that I haven't travelled at all since then. Since I have been back I've had a great trip to New York City for 3 weeks, an Alaskan cruise, a week in Mexico (Peurto Vallarta), a few days in Tofino and almost 3 weeks in Palm Springs (dog sitting!). Funny, these days, I even time spent in Vancouver is a "trip", lol.

About that pondering for future travel. I think it would be helpful for me to settle on at least one destination for my next big trip, so I can spend lots of time studying up, planning, dreaming.... So far I have a bunch of ideas, and some very probables, but that's all. Croatia and Turkey are of most interest to me at the moment, but not sure. I think there's a reason for all that, I'm not meant to get that clear yet, so I'm going with it. For now.

But I also know what it does to me when I know my next destination... Even if I don't know when, I look forward to that feeling when I start to settle on where....

Sure glad I picked up and took off those two years ago. It was a trip that shapes my life (I can't imagine me without it). Gratitude. I am overflowing with gratitude for all that came together in my life to make that trip possible.

Now I am curious again.....

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