December 2nd, 2010 by Kateastrophe
29 days to go until I’m the big 3-0. I’m not sure if the countdown is hurting or helping but I guess the day is coming no matter what, eh?
Both of my parents are big time travelers and both lived in foreign countries at some point before they got married. My mom’s father was an undercover CIA agent (SO COOL, right?!) and his first big assignment was in the former Yugoslavia where his cover was being the doctor for the US Embassy and he was also in charge of gathering secret information. They were in Belgrade for almost six years. They vacationed on the beaches of Italy, my Mom learned to ski in the Swiss Alps…basically the coolest childhood EVER. She has continued to travel all over whenever possible.
My Dad learned Spanish in high school and college and has a sister who has lived in Brazil for the last 35 years doing service work for the Catholic church so he had always wanted to travel the world. He decided to get a Masters Degree in Recreation Management but chose a program that sent him to Central and South America for a year to set up camps and other things for the people there. Then, after my parents divorced my Dad got a huge job opportunity in Mexico City (made possible because he spoke fluent Spanish) so he lived there for five years. Then, after doing such a good job there his company opted, despite him not knowing a syllable of the language - to China. He’s been there for most of the last 15 years. The job has taken him all over China as well as into India, Thailand and even parts of Europe. As you can see, he travels a lot.
Basically, the wanderlust (well, more like travellust) is in my genes. I love love love to travel and I do so whenever I can. I’ve been very lucky to have the opportunities I’ve had to go all over the world. My first trip on an airplane by myself took place when I was 5. It was just from Denver to Los Angeles but still, I was by myself and I was absolutely thrilled to be on an airplane, dressed in my favorite dress, gloves and hat. Not joking. The travel bug was born.
At 11 I spent an entire summer in Central Mexico, trying new food, meeting people and attempting (for the first and only time) to learn Spanish. At 14 I spent a summer in China where I saw Hong Kong, the Great Wall, Mao’s Tomb, the Forbidden City and the Yellowstone of China. Then I went back and did it all again (and more!) with my husband two years ago. I’ve spent spent time in Mansion Villas in Puerto Vallarta, slummed it and stayed in Penthouses in New York City, beach houses in the Jersey Short, Florida Keys, Delaware and Long Island. I’ve camped on the beach in Ensenada, Southern California and Florida. I’ve walked across the Brooklyn and Golden Gate Bridges. I’ve done some amazing things but my most favorite adventure was living in Europe for a summer in college.
I had the chance to study theatre in London with a local college. There I saw a play almost every day, studied Shakespeare, Contemporary and Musical theatre and my favorite, three days in Stratford upon Avon seeing the Royal Shakespeare Company perform from the front row. I walked the halls of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, Windsor Palace and the National Gallery. I saw a plays at the Globe Theatre and shopped at Harrah’s and memorzied my way around The Tube. I made friends I will love forever and then together six of us decided to travel through “The Continent” for three weeks. One guy and five girls.
We had so much fun and so many random adventures it makes my head spin! We did so many things. Took wrong turns and ended up in Austria instead of Germany, saw naked drunk men chasing each other in giant tents in Munichgot robbed in Genoa by Gypsies(oh that story….for another day), fell in the Grand Canal in Venice, walked around the Duomo in Florence at sunrise, ate gelato until we were sick, pretended to push over the Tower of Pisa, were kissed by random Roman men on the Spanish Steps, got sunburned at the Cinque Terre, swam in the ocean in Northern Spain, climbed to the top of Notre Dame and the Arc de Triumph, saw the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, rode the train through the Chunnel…it was the most exhausting, amazing, unforgettable three weeks of my life. Unfortunately I don’t have many pictures because my camera was stolen and somewhere in my many college moves the pictures I did have got lost. At some point my friends and I will get all our pictures scanned in and share. Well, they will. Since I have none. Sad face. At least my memory of the trip is still pretty intact and I remember most of the things we did and saw in near perfect clarity.
I talk to Matt about going to Europe now and I can’t wait to go with him. I know we’ll have a blast and definitely do the trip in a more organized, less crazy fashion, but sometimes I wonder if going back will ever be as grand as it was that first time. I hope someday I have the ability to send my kids off to Europe with a few thousand bucks, a backpack and a sense of adventure like I had. That time in my life was the craziest, happiest I’ve ever been.