November 23: European (and American) Travels
As I mentioned in my Sunday Salon post, I have spent a lot of time this week finalizing a few details for a group tour I am leading in March. Approximately 20 students and 18 adults will be headed to London, Paris, Florence, Rome, Pompeii, Isle of Capri and Venice. It will be at times hectic, at times stressful, and a guaranteed trip of a lifetime. I am SO excited!
My love of travel has been part of my being since I was about eight years old. At that time I was taking elementary French and as silly as it sounds… I was fascinated they had a word for every one of ours. I desperately wanted to travel to Paris, not only to see the iconic sites and famous museums, but I wanted to converse with the people in their native language.
The dream first became a reality in high school, when I traveled with fourteen peers in a student exchange program to Arcachon, France. We stayed there three weeks, living with a French family, attending the local lycée, and trying to assimilate into the culture.
I rekindled that dream in 2011 when I took a solo trip to Paris, stayed in a Montmartre apartment, and again, tried to live like a native.
Recently we renovated another vacated bedroom. It is the Paris room, where I brought a bit of her charm back to the states. Silk geraniums line the window, a bistro table is tucked in the corner, a framed print of Sacre Coeur allows me to recall the spectacular views. This is the room where I typically write – channeling my inner Hemingway while Parisian cafe music fills the air.
I have led two student group tours to London, and yet still desire to see more. I long to visit the homes of famous British authors: Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters. I want to linger in Oxford and walk the streets of Tolkien and Lewis, perhaps stopping for a drink at the Eagle and Child Inn.
But I have an even grander traveling dream…
I want to live for three months at a time in each of the following locations: London – Paris – Italy (perhaps Naples area) – and New York City. I want to become a part of their everyday life. I will of course visit the popular attractions, but I don’t want to feel rushed. I will travel outside the cities and witness the beauty of the countryside. I will converse in the native language, eat the native food, and return home enriched and enlightened by the vast experience.
I am grateful we live in a diverse world – and I want to be a part of more than my one little corner of it.