I am lucky. I have been a traveler since a young age. This is largely due to my grandmother. She was a true traveler at heart and thought it was important that each of her grandchildren learned to explore the world as well. That meant she often invited us along and she also was happy to invest in our travels. Each of us received a trip of our choice for our 16th birthdays. We could travel with her or without her, either way was fine. Now that I’m grown, I can’t help but marvel at the amazing woman she was to want us to see the world. Here is a travelogue dedicated to her and some of the travels she inspired.
Age 6 – You turned 60 and decided swooshing down the ski hills of the Swiss Alps would be a perfect celebration. But it wouldn’t be a celebration without your family, so you took us all along. I ate pomme frites for almost every meal. I was too little to ride the long and winding t-bars that traveled up the mountains but I luckily had an aunt and uncle with sturdy legs to anchor me to the ground. I rode the trains with grandpa and dad on the days I didn’t ski. I sat at the bar and drank Shirley Temples, a bow in my hair. I tried to get the spoon to stick on my nose like my older siblings could. I filled up on peaches and pears at breakfast. I often fell asleep at dinner in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the evening, never quite adjusting to the time. I met a girl on the plane who didn’t speak a word of English but that didn’t stop us for playing games. And when I returned home I awoke my parents in the middle of the night for a week.
Age 16 – You gave me a trip of my choice. I chose to travel to England and Ireland with my Cross Country coach and team. I was nervous to travel without my family and tried to be brave when I left on Christmas day. I flew across the US and the Atlantic Ocean and landed in London. I took so many pictures, wanting to capture each moment of the trip. I ran through the streets of London, the hills of Ireland. I kissed the Blarney Stone. I bought a wool sweater. I sent postcards home, at least one to you. I visited castles, museums, churches. I celebrated an Irish New Years Eve. I decided traveling without family could be lots of fun. And when I returned home I shared it all with you.
Age 17 – I joined my favorite teacher on a European Trek…5 countries in 23 days. I tried to learn a phrase or two in each of the countries we visited. I rode the tube in London, the metro in Paris, the bus in Italy. I ran through Paris in the early morning light. I hiked a hill in Greece. I danced at a disco in Florence. I swam in the Mediterranean. I washed my clothes in hotel sinks. I sent postcards home, at least one to you. I decided at the end of 23 days that if I could have a fresh set of clothes I’d be happy to continue my journey. And when I returned home I shared it all with you.
Age 20 – I went to study in Italy for 6 months. I learned to speak Italian fluently. I lived in Assisi with a family for 6 weeks. I lived in Florence with a family for the fall. I rode the train and traveled the country. I dyed my hair pink (well, just a few pieces). I met amazing people from all over the world. You and grandpa had planned to rent a house while I was there. To have an extended visit. But you passed away, unexpectedly, before that could happen. I know you would have loved that Grandpa still came. We rented a car and traveled the country. I know you would have loved that Mom and Dad and Kristin and Aunt Ing came for Thanksgiving. I know you would have loved hearing all about it and the many adventures that have followed since.