How can I possibly describe the depth of fun in adventures I’ve had the opportunity to do these past 5 weeks/12 countries? I’ve witnessed a shooting star in Santorini, Greece and 4-wheeled around the island with the wind in my hair. (Amy and I felt like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen on an adventure!) What can I say about Rome, other than I went camping thanks to Bungalow Amy! Ok ok, I got to see the Coliseum once again, and discover my new favorite Italian region: Cinque Terre, Italy! I’ve chuga-chuga-choo-chooed through “Story book” Switzerland and breathed in the fresh air of the mountains and lakes. Captivated by Prague’s beautiful buildings and statues, I’d return in a heartbeat. I sipped on a local German brew and reflected Germany’s historical past in front of the Reichstag building, walked through the last remaining gate of the Berlin Wall, and prayed for a future filled with peace. I flirted with the thin line of gluttony in Belgium with its tempting chocolate and walked the oppressed streets of Amsterdam. I’ve had the opportunity to marvel the original Anne Frank diary, original Van Gogh masterpieces, and original Monet paintings. I’ve said “Bonjour” to the Eiffel Tour and “Au Revoir” to its magic. My heart has pounded in sync with the stomps, spins, and seductiveness of flamenco dancers in Spain and leisured around castles, monasteries, and fortresses of Lisbon, Portugal. I saluted Big Ben, the unknown soldier, and applauded the manners of the English and of course, the musical Wicked in London, England. I’ve said, “Top of the Hat,” to the Irish, sipped on their famous Guinness, and roamed the green rolling hills filled with sheep and four-leaf clovers! What can I say other than I’m so incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to partake in such a journey? Not to mention, I’ve shared this unforgettable, life-changing adventure with Amy, a best friend who knows more about me now than she probably wants to! I cannot sum up my time or words better though, than what Ralph Waldo Emerson writes. He says, “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” I couldn’t agree more.
Miriam Beard states, “Certainly, travel is more than seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” This trip has given ample time to reflect on self and life and I have definitely learned new things. For one, I cannot imagine a future without travel, photography, good food & friends. I’ve learned it is probably not a good idea to read attempt any pronunciation of graffiti out loud in a foreign language. (It reacts with strange and appalled looks.) I discovered when on a train ride, to bring a book. And when in need a break from looking out the window, read a line or two. Despite language barriers, I’ve realized that a smile is as contagious as a yawn. No matter what country/language/or system, I am confident that I CAN READ A MAP and figure out the train/metro/or bus system (with a loud PRAISE THE LORD/Halleujah/Amen!). Hey, here is another: reading the hotel/hostel/bed & breakfast reviews are a wonderful idea! And finally, sharing life’s adventures with a friend is a beautiful fulfillment to what God’s intended. I end my reflection with T.S. Eliot’s words, which need no commentating: “We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.” -T.S. Eliot
So here’s to Walkabout 2009, an unforgettable voyage through 12 countries, and a new understanding of God, this world, everyday life, and self. Cheers!