Home is where the heart is and right now Corvallis is golden
It’s a wrap: 55 Days, 22 beds, walking 263 miles. Travel by jet, train, bus, taxi, tram, metro, rental car, limo, Uber, camel.....the following are places we either slept or visited for at least a meal and walk about.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Dogana, San Marino
Prague, Czech Republic
What for? No real good reason other than interest and wonderment in and about our world.
What was the best? It’s going to take some time to digest. It always seems like time brightens most journeys, but things that stand out in my memory are the surprising cosmopolitan feeling that exist in Croatia and Slovenia, our first night in Padua, Italy with a balcony overlooking the basilica, the Roman history (and crowds), the sea breeze, cocktails and wine experience in Sorrento, Amalfi and Ravello, the way the people in Budapest seem to have replaced the grayness of their communist past with such vitality, the incredible livability in Vienna, the beauty of the Austrian countryside, the quick remake of Prague into one of Europe’s most beautiful and culturally iconic cities. Paris is still Paris - the city of light and enchantment - arguably the most romantic and civilized destination on earth.
Did I learn anything?
People all over are more alike than they are different. We love our kids, enjoy our local foods, experience joy at good fortune and cry when tragedy strikes. We celebrate our country’s great moments and past achievements and we rely on our youth to lead us to a better world. We are proud of our culture and our arts and no matter where you live, money can make you more comfortable, but it still is no guarantee of happiness.
Before you start a trip like this, admittedly, there are doubts whether you can pull it off. After all, it would be easier and more comfortable to just stay home. One thing a journey like this teaches you is you can do most anything you set your mind to accomplish.
The big question..... Would we do it again?
My feet are still sore from the 263 miles (all verifiable on the iPhone health tracker), and I certainly would not take this exact trip again - too many other places to see in this world. Since I have been to Italy 5 times, Italy may drop down the list temporarily. As we get older, hucking suitcases over cobblestone streets and up hotel and rail station stairs becomes less appealing. Either we bring less stuff (I made it 7 weeks with a carry- on) or we travel in a more luxurious style with Porters/drivers carrying luggage and very little bus travel.
Also, another caveat to future travel is the damn tourists
On our last three month Europe trip in 2015, we had a car most of the trip and we spent more time in small towns. We hit a lot of big cities this trip, and even though we tried to travel before the high season, the bus loads of pushy tourists with selfie sticks took its toll.
So.....I think next trip overseas will be a stay in one place deal for a long period. Bring a suitcase, unpack it once and from then on - just use a day bag.
A few words about language. I can almost get around fine with Italian and Spanish. Hungarian was a complete bust as I might have learned two words. Throw in the Austria/German, add the Czech and finish it with a dollop of French at the end and this boy is feeling foolish yearning for anything English outside of a Texas drawl. That said, thank god that the Europeans are all smarter than us and many speak several languages including English quite well.
Also... where would we be without our smart phones? We use them to book train and bus tickets, call for an Uber, to set up tours, to research where we’re going to go, and most importantly as maps to help us find destinations and not get lost. I have no idea how people traveled before the invention of smart phones.
We spent the end of winter in Croatia, dressed in jackets, scarves, and gloves walking in pockets of late snow and buckets of persistent rain, early spring in Italy where the weather changed every 15 minutes and late spring in Prague and Paris with trees and flowers in full bloom and the sun touching 80 degrees. It did rain in Paris, but that assuredly was to prep us for our return to the Willamette Valley.
What are we looking forward to?
Our kids and grandkids, our own bed, our friends, good wine, planting our veggie garden, BBQing on our deck, getting my piano chops back.
Also looking forward to revisiting our itinerary and this blog in six months and basking in the glory of checking another off the bucket list.
And finally.....a huge hug and shout out to my partner in travel nirvana...the one and only Cathy La Bouchet. Greatest travel partner on the planet and probably the only living being who could do the 50+ 24/7 with me. That girl is Nobel Peace Prize material. Plus, she is cute as can be.
“Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.”
Hunter S. Thompson perspective is even better: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
We took about 2000 pictures. Lucky for you, here are our favorite 100+.