Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Traveling

I love traveling and I miss it. All my life as poor as we were my parents believed in traveling. My father may have criticized my mother for her frequent trips to Montemorelos and El Cercado, Nuevo Leon, but he didn't think anything of planning a trip cross country to California. We made the drive at least three times when I was a kid and we flew a couple of times on my sister's American Airlines tickets. So I guess you can say I inherited my parents' wanderlust.

Trips with my family to Mexico, California and Nevada, via Arizona and New Mexico, Florida, via those states in between. I remember standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon as a teenager with my best friend Vicki and just being in awe of how big the world really is.

All these trips prepared me for the big one. My first trip to Europe when I was seventeen. My parents agreed to let me go with my older sister and one of my best friends Cynthia so we set out on our journey. Five countries in two weeks! We flew into Frankfurt, Germany and after a day or so there we proceeded to Paris, France. From Paris we went to Madrid, Spain, from Madrid to Granada, then Nice, Carcassonne, France and then into Italy. We visited Rome, Florence, Positano, and Pompeii. I was in love. From Italy it was up to Switzerland and then finally back to Germany to fly home. It may have been a crazy trip with too many countries in too little time, but it offered a wonderful sampling of each country and I found out which countries I wanted to go back to and really get to know.

It was the best graduation present my parents could have ever given me. It was not only a vacation, it was an education on life. Years later when I read a chapter from Maya Angelou's "Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey Now," where she talks about how wonderful it is to travel and how it opens your eyes to all the differences in the world, I could totally relate. That is exactly how I felt on that first visit abroad.

I didn't return to Europe for six years but in between I visited Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and the Napa Valley. Europe haunted me. For my freshman English class in college we had a written exit exam. We didn't know the word we would be given until the day of the test. I couldn't believe my eyes when they wrote the word on the board. The word was "travel." I wrote one of the best essays I had written that entire year comparing three off the beaten path places to travel in Europe- Carcassonne,France, Granada, Spain and Positano, Italy.

When I finally returned to Europe as a young woman of twenty-three I realized how much I had missed at seventeen. I saw things differently. I noticed things I hadn't seen before. This time it was a trip revisting Italy with two girlfriends. We went everywhere and we saw literally everything. It was a whirlwind adventure. My sister was stationed in Sicily at the time so we went as far South as Sicily on the train. Always the train. I love traveling across Europe by train and I'd never do it any other way.

After Italy I revisited Spain three times. I love Spain. What is there not to love about Spain? Going back to Spain with my girlfriend who had been visiting a guy for a couple of years was yet another experience. She introduced me to Salamanca, the Austin of Spain. Salamanca is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe and students from all over go to study there.

I went back to Italy for a third time for my honeymoon. That was a good long trip. We spent 10 days traveling from Milan to Rome, Florence, Pompeii, Venice and back out of Milan. We took our time and really got to see the country.

My last visit to Spain was six years ago for that same friend's wedding to that same guy. This time I visited with my husband, brother and sister-in-law. Rey and I went in via Paris. We had an adventure getting there and we ended up flying into Paris and taking an overnight train into Madrid. There's nothing like waking up early in the morning in a sleeping car to the rocking of the train, going into breakfast in the dining car, and watching the countryside pass you by as you eat breakfast.

Since that last trip I've had two kids. My traveling days are over for now. Yeah we've taken a couple of trips to New York, Los Angeles and locally, but nothing compares to that long trip across the ocean knowing that you're headed toward some adventure.

A couple of years ago we started going to the Texas Wine Country between San Antonio and Austin. We've been at least twice and the last time was two years ago. I've been wanting to go back recently but Rey said that we should wait. We have so many things we need to do to the house.

I was in Austin for a business a few months ago and I had forgotten how beautiful it is. I'd go as far as saying it rivals some places in Europe. It's our Salamanca.

You can imagine my delight when we received an invitation to my cousin's wedding in a couple of weeks. I hadn't expected an invitation because I knew he was planning something small, but when I found out we were invited I was happy. It's an opportunity to get away overnight without the kids and to kick back with my husband if my mother-in-law comes through and agrees to stay with the kids.

Austin may not be Europe but in my book it counts as traveling and that's all that matters to me! Where's my suitcase?

7 comments:

Sangroncito said...

Lovely post.

I will have to read that Maya Angelou book.

And just think, one day you too will give your children the gift of travel. That--and books--are the best gift of all.

And of course your traveling days aren't over, just on pause. I didn't travel during much of the 80's because I was in a relationship and had a stable job I loved. Travel comes in different waves and stages of our lives. You´ll be back on the road again in the future.

Anonymous said...

Amen! You are talking my language. Your sister.

ShoeGirl said...

Hmm... let me guess which sister this is! As if I don't know. I have 3 of them and I think I know the traveler and regular blog visitor.

~^^~Elsie~^^~ said...

Hey girl - wonderful post. I still have not been out of Texas *blushing* I hope to travel as well. Wow, I want to go to all those places in Europe that you mentioned, especially Spain. I am really excited about going to Mexico to see the Aztec Pyramids - one of these days.... (I say this dreamily)

Great idea about going to Austin. I am sure you and hubby deserve that "alone" time w/o the kiddos. Wishing you a safe trip!

Anonymous said...

this is all you...but especially the last line. what can i say about travel? it's been my life professionally and personally for the last 25 years...25 years ago when i visited montreal, new york, frankfurt, germany and then bangladesh for the first time and then 20 years ago when i joined american airlines. one of my joys was being able to give you the opportunity to travel abroad, even when i hadn't had the chance to go myself as soon as i would have liked. i'm glad you love it as much as i do and i'm sure you'll be out there again one day...i know i will.

ShoeGirl said...

Elsie, You are so long that you have plenty plenty of time to travel. But do it! Do all that you can while you are still young and single and you won't regret a thing!

ShoeGirl said...

Long? What the heck was that? I wrote "young" in my head but my fingers typed something different! LOL!