I’ve wanted to travel to Europe forever.
I’ve dreamed of visiting England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany. Backpacking. Exploring. I’d hoped to study abroad in college, or find a summer job overseas, but that didn’t happen.
There’s always been an obstacle: lack of money or lack of vacation days. But in January, when Bret and I talked through some our hopes for 2016, we returned to our Europe dream and asked ourselves IF NOT NOW, WHEN?! So I did some research, found a reasonable tour, and booked it.
Before we left, I was giddy. I kept thinking: We’re traveling to England, Scotland, and Wales! We’re going to tour London, explore castles in Scotland, look for the Loch Ness monster, and ogle Stonehenge. Our trip includes whiskey tastings and boat rides and historical tours, too. It’s going to be an amazing adventure!
We packed light. RIDICULOUSLY light: each of us bringing only what can fit in a backpack. We had only two pair of shoes (yes, even me, who packed 9 pair of shoes for a 7 day cruise). All of my clothes were rolled and sealed in 2-gallon zip lock bags. We didn’t bring a ton of supplies or toiletries along, either. And there’s one thing we DEFINITELY did not have room for in that carry-on: fear.
If I’m being honest, after the recent Brussels attacks and plane crashes I had a moment of pause. I thought: we have travel insurance; we could cancel this trip… but then I considered how many airplanes successfully take off and land each day. I was not about to miss out on all of the adventure and wonder in this experience by being afraid! Also – let’s be honest – I travel around the states all the time and I just survived a week in DC with a failing metro system and random shootings happening in the area. You can’t live your life in fear. I vowed to approach every day with the excitement and awe it deserves. I did not believe that skipping this trip would guarantee my safety, but I KNEW it would rob me of so much joy.
So we went. And we adventured. And it exceeded all of my expectations.
I’m going to break this trip up into a series of blog posts, but in short, we woke up at 5:30AM almost every day and spent hours on a bus with 40 other people from all over the world. In fact, Bret and I were the only passengers from the United States and we LOVED that.
I know the early mornings and forced socializing doesn’t scream VACATION to everyone, but for us, it could not have been more perfect. I was talking to Bret not too long ago about how I missed my college friendships. I remember how quickly I formed friendships with co-workers in my summer jobs in college and how I desperately craved those relationships full of late night talks, inside jokes, and so many hugs. Aging is a weird thing. Most of my friends in Boone are in their 30’s and have kids and it won’t be long before most of my friends from college are in their 30’s with kids. It’s not a bad thing, but I had kind of accepted that these kinds of instant bonds and spontaneous plans were in my past.
Well, magically, we quickly formed friendships with other 20-somethings on this trip (Yes – Bret passed for a 20-something!) And we stayed up late at pubs or just hanging out in our hotel talking about life and politics and laughing about the day’s events and imitating each other’s accents. (Apparently, when I try to do an Australian accent, it sounds South African). It was perfect. And I didn’t even mind being sleep deprived every day for a week.
I’m having friend withdraws already, but we have a group message going where we’ve exchanged approximately 100 texts in the past 24 hours. I also took a million pictures and brought a video camera along so I can’t wait to compile and edit those masterpieces.
I’ll share more soon!