On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!–28 Days in Europe

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On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!–28 Days in Europe

We are poised at the starting line; bent over, splayed fingers just a hint behind the line, and feet firmly placed in the starting blocks. Positioned for full acceleration we wait patiently for the resounding gunshot from the pistol. In only five days, our adventure begins. The backpacks are bursting, the funds are secured, the tours and housing are booked, and all arrangements have been confirmed. This trip to Europe is going to be unique from any others in the past.

Today, as a freelance travel writer, I am pondering this journey from a new perspective. Pico Iyer, a famous travel author once said, “It’s time to take the reader by the hand and lead them into the place you’re describing, and then lead them into the wonder or terror or mixture of the two it evokes in you.”

Travel, no matter how well planned, is wrought with the unexpected. Things go wrong! However, I have found more often than not, that there are wonderful unexpected surprises to be had. In past trips, I have experienced amazing people, events, and encounters.

Years ago, my roommate Gina and I spent two weeks in Italy. After making three new friends from Egypt, we found ourselves arriving at a petite apartment in Venice after midnight. The wife of one friend greeted us with a kiss on both cheeks and signaled for us to sit on the sparsely carpeted floor. A single couch occupied the majority of the room. The kitchen, no bigger than a closet, had a dorm size refrigerator, undersized stove, and small sink. There was very little space and yet the sensuous aromas of garlic, onions and tomatoes, emanating from the tiny kitchen permeated the entire house. Being invited into a stranger’s home to share a meal is a treat for any traveler.

In 2004, I went to Thailand with the children’s non-profit, A Touch of Hope. Joan, the missionary I worked with, decided we needed to go and meet some of the locals. We walked through a small village in central Thailand. Soon we were invited to join a woman sitting on her porch located high above the ground on a house built on stilts. As I watched the young woman nimbly arrange the bristles to make a broom, the distinct smell of fish and bones infused the air. The rice served was speckled with tiny rocks, not fit for even pigs to consume. And finally, I will never forget the queasy feeling I had watching the red ants and their larva crawling around in the bowl placed next to me. This was lunch, a gift to Joan and me. The woman was so hospitable and gracious. Although the lunch offering was less than desirable, this was the very best this local woman had to offer. How warm and kind of her to give to us out of her poverty. This gift was a true blessing to my soul.

2010 introduced a new country into my adventures. Again, with A Touch of Hope, I traveled to Zambia, Africa to supervise the construction of a school for 350 children. Living in the village where the school was built allowed me to interact and participate in the everyday life of villagers. After days of shelling peanuts, a process which had begun long before I arrived, my father and I went with Catherine, a village woman, to another village in the area. My father and another woman from the village carried the nuts for what seemed like miles through the parched dessert. We all walked together on the trip to sell the peanuts for a mere $2.00. This money would allow Catherine’s family the ability to purchase a few necessary items from town. I have hundreds of memories from past trips, but I am always excited and thrilled about what the next adventure will bring.

Travel means experiencing amazing architecture, stunning landscapes, fascinating cultures, and heavenly food, but this is nothing in comparison to the people you meet and the experiences you have along the way because of them. Travel, and all it entails, provides you with a unique opportunity to unite your life experiences with others. In my opinion, travel is one of the most exhilarating, worthwhile, and pleasurable things to do in life.

Brittney and I will be traveling for 28 days through three countries in Europe. Our trip is chock-full of plans for thrilling escapades, scrumptious food, and exciting explorations. The plans we have made are extraordinary, but in truth my heart hungers to meet locals and other travelers. I want to discover how they live their lives and learn what is important to them. I desire to hear where travelers have been, what they have seen, and who they have met.

Our trip begins in Rome, the heart of Italy. We are spending our first five days in Valentino’s home. He is a young Roman gentleman that belongs to Airbnb and he rents rooms out of his home in Trastevere, a charming medieval neighborhood. This part of Rome is a labyrinth full of cobblestone side streets. The area has a lively nightlife and Romans recommend this area as one of the best neighborhoods for traditional Roman cuisine.
Throughout our expedition, Brittney and I will be blogging and photographing our trip. Upon our return, my plans focus on writing stories and articles concerning four things; the adventures we experience, the destinations we visit, the food we enjoy, and most importantly, the fabulous and amazing people we encounter. When planning to write about an event or activity before living through it, I as well as other writers, am inclined to focus on particular aspects of the experience with an increased intensity.

I have to ask myself, what will I hear, smell, see and feel during the experience. What is the atmosphere like and how will others react to it. Taking the time to assess an activity or event in this way feels like a deeper experience. My senses respond as if they are on high alert. I expect to bring you all with me on this adventure so that you too, can experience the wonder, terror and multitude of emotions that we will experience on this trip.

Through my writing and Brittney’s photography we want to bring the very essence of this trip to you. I love sharing my stories and I trust that you, as my readers, will feel as though you are right there beside me throughout each and every aspect of this journey. So…On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!