It's a whirl-wind, I tell ya. 18,325 miles hither and yon. For the next few days, I’m resting my self in the English midlands of Coventry, UK. I left home the 4th night of March. With the exception of just a handful of nights, I've had the pleasure of the company of cs and other friends all along the way. The friends who look after me, the friends who share a bit of their life and themselves each and every day. Postcards I send from here and there only touch briefly on the world I see. Even this little note is just a snapshot. The little ins and outs will come later.
One of those exceptions to not staying with friends and/or couchsurfers was a night on which after 20 hours of pick-up, bus, taxi and train travel, I was in heaven in a Fes Rhiad. Asleep. Next day, having the pleasure of a Hamman scrub, herbal massage and a pedicure and mint Moroccan tea.
Climbing to the top of Morello in the Castellón region of Spain and gazing out over the hills in wonder. I could practically hear Gandolf or Eddard Stark around the corner. Was briefly locked into a bunker that soldiers of the Abraham Lincoln Brigades hunkered down in so many years ago near Segorbe. Overwhelmed with the beauty of La Familia Sagrada, Barcelona and the mind of Gaudi.
Pizza for dinner my first night in France with my friend and former colleague from San Francisco. Peeking through the windows in the house Napolean built for his wife in Marseille. That house she never lived in. Feeling the sadness & poignancy of so many lives lost at sea while viewing the Marseille, Notre-Dame de la Garde overlooking the Marseille sports boat harbor.
Touched by the emotion resting in the Musee de la Reddition in Reims, France, where General Eisenhower accepted the unconditional surrender of Germany in 1945.
Then many miles later, standing in Churchill’s Underground War Rooms where the war plans took effect. Walking through the Globe Theater, feasting on the songs of the season, mingling with Sherlock Holmes and Florence Nightengale in their Museums. Spending a few hours wandering around the Tower of London and a few minutes walking across Abbey Road while, yes, listening to Rubber Soul in my earbuds.
In wonderment for evensong in Westminster Abbey. Spending an entire day in the Louvre and could have done more. Realizing I want to better my own painting and go home to study that. Knowing that now that I’m retired, I can do that. My time is my own. Resting my soul in Monet’s Waterlilies in Musée de l'Orangerie and pattering around with Renior in the D'Orsay.
Walking through Sukhothai ruins outside of Bangkok. Traveling to new places with good friends.
Picking up a couple new young friends with which to drink beer at 10 am on a boat to another Thai island. Being mesmerized by a giant yellow and black beetle fly around the boat for quite a while. We named it Paul. Drinking beer at a winery outside of Hua Hin, Thailand. Happily lazing in the sun on a beach for most of a week at Ko Samui.
Playing with street art in Maasthrict, in the Netherlands, chalking off another country on my list. Eating my way around the world with no guilt at all. I know where the gym is when I get home. Where my bike is. And where the pools are.
Chocolate factory. Free samples. More to buy to take away. 300 beers in one restaurant in Liege. Delicious Belgian meatballs. Brussels and Belgium waffles. First taste of escargot with cs friends in Liege. Glasses of champagne in Champagne, Reims.
Hit my fourth life-time continent in the cities and desert of Morocco. New friends in Marrakesh and out in the desert over the High Atlas mountains. Walking through fields of wheat and date trees, clover and fava beans they grow in their own plot of land.
Sharing my ventures with my 'traveling gnome', a drawing my 6 year old grand-daughter made for me, so I "wouldn't forget her". She asked me if I was going to Egypt. I told her, no, not to Egypt. She replied, "that's good. I don't want you to be a slave." Brooklyn, she pays close attention to those Bible stories she hears.
Meeting up with my niece and her husband in London after not seeing her little self for almost 30 years. A most fantastic time. She even made me a lunch for my day in the City. Such a sweet-heart.
Sending packages home with 'stuff' I pick up along the way. So many packages, the Post Office people asking my family at home 'what's with all the packages coming here from around the world?'
Making my way through Spanish in Spain, French in France and feeling pretty darn happy to be in English speaking country again. After moving from Spanish to French in such a short time, it was hilarious listening to me mixing up languages. And everywhere I go, folks were always helpful as we each enjoyed mutual giggles at their English and my foreign language attempts.
Stumbling my way through the catacombs in Paris. Thoroughly enjoying so many museums and theatres and churches and cathedrals, I’ll have to sort them all out later.
Managing both the long-haul and in town metro, bus and train systems and grateful for their pretty much overwhelming efficiency. At least from my little point of reference. Laughing at the announcement on RyanAir, ‘and don’t forget, even you can be a millionaire with RyanAir’s new scratcher game!’
Eating scrumptious pastries wherever I find them. Accomplishing the maze of the undergrounds in Paris and London. Walking on green grass in sunshine in Paris and London and just about everywhere else my feet take me. Opening my pretty new umbrella a handful of times and for short duration each. I can honestly report, I saw no dog-poop on the streets of Paris.
Happy to be where I am where I am this very moment, contemplating what treasures are ahead of me tomorrow.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you to all the wonderful folks along the way. Re-connecting with couchsurfers, with friends and family around the world.
Spending a bit of time with friends and comrades - Adrienne, Ken, Dan, Chad, Mimoune, Francoise, Roger, Michelle, Brigitte, Val, Ray, Kerri & Andrew & Anne, Tim, Mary, Nina & Tim; Malcolm. Friends with whom I was privileged to stay in their home. And I’m not done yet.
A wise man told me that we don’t travel to see the world. We travel to see the people. So true. The people are the little connectors, the glue that keeps all the pieces of the puzzle in one place. Difficult to do with some of us.