Travelling has been a constant in my life, from a very, very young age. It’s been the same for my husband as well. Travelling to visit someplace, travelling to move somewhere new; travelling by plane, car, train…You name, we’ve done it. Ok, almost. We never actually travelled by boat. We’ve been on boats, but only to get to small islands or across a bay, or a channel – never to actually ‘move’ somewhere. But you get the idea. Travelling will always be a part of our lives, it’s engraved in our souls, imprinted in our minds. The fact that we have family and friends around the world enhances that. Travel and the reasons for travel haven’t always been easy, but our lives are most definitely richer from these experiences. And on this busy travelling time of Thanksgiving, I thought I would look at some of our wanderings so far.
We mapped out all the airplane trips we’ve ever done (between the two of us) to see how much of the globe we’ve spanned in flight. The map was impressive, and the total miles travelled even more so. We’ve probably covered about 400,000 – 500,000 miles between us both, and at least 250 flights. And that’s only on airplanes. That got me thinking: what about all the non-airplane trips? There have been a lot of those, starting from when I was just a little girl…
The first long trips I can remember were our annual car rides from Wisconsin to Montreal for christmas break. I had flown before those car rides, to get from Cyprus to Wisconsin, but I was so small then that I don’t remember anything. And I know we flew to California to see my cousins, but I don’t recall those flights either. But I remember those road trips. At the time, my brother hadn’t joined us yet, which meant us 2 little girls had the whole backseat to ourselves. Which was a good thing, since the drive was about 16-17 hours long. My sister and I would often fold down the back seats so we could stretch out into the trunk, warm under a soft blanket and falling asleep to the rocking movement of the car. We were always so excited when we reached Toronto, because that meant that Montreal, the loving arms of grandma and grandpa, and a bowl of hot, homemade chicken soup weren’t too far anymore. Those are my first travel memories, and they’re very fond ones. Those trips meant we were going to see people we loved, we were going somewhere familiar and warm.
I can’t recall our trip from Wisconsin to Mexico when we moved there. I remember landing at the airport and how foreign everything was, but I don’t remember the actual flight at all. I don’t even remember the airport or boarding in the States. It’s strange how the trips I remember the most from Mexico are the road trips. I wonder why. I never thought about that until now; I have vivid memories of the many road trips we did in Mexico, but I can’t seem to recall any flights we did from there. Funny how the mind can be so selective in what it retains. I guess the road trips just marked me so much more. There was always so much to see, so many new and amazing sights. How lucky we were to have such experiences and to see such places.
As time went on and we grew, we moved to several other countries, we visited countless others, which meant the trips added up. Mostly airplane trips, as the distances were so great, but there were more car rides, and some boat rides. There were also train rides when we visited Europe. My first train ride. Or at least the first I remember. Easter break 1994. My mom was pregnant with my brother, and we were visiting Europe for the first time as a family. We took an overnight train, and we slept on bunkbeds. I don’t remember much, but I do remember those bunkbeds. Years later, in 2000, we moved to France. Train rides became a regular part of our lives. Not just the suburb trains to get to and from Paris, but also the TGV to get from Paris to the south of France, to Geneva, to London, to Brussels, to Amsterdam… Those trains are a wonder. 10 years in France, countless train rides. I love taking the train. I love looking out the window and seeing the countryside slide by; I love watching the people on the trains. Taking a TGV in France is a special thing. People seem happier when they’re on their TGV. It could be because it means a vacation, or a weekend away. Or maybe because the train ride itself is a moment to relax. Whatever it is, Parisians really seem to enjoy being on a TGV, and I love to observe that.
Being in Europe also meant the return of those much loved road trips. Not everyone enjoys being in the car for extended trips. I love it. I can’t quite explain why, but I’ve always loved them. At first those road trips were only with my family – both within France and to other European countries as well. As I got older, those road trips weren’t only with my family anymore. My husband (boyfriend at the time, of course) and I went on many road trips together. Between France and England; within France; from France or England to Italy…That tradition continues in the States; they may be shorter trips for now, but they’re still special. How I love those car rides. All the time spent talking, laughing, trying to figure out our lives. It seems road trips bring me back many happy memories, from being a little girl to today, being an adult and a married woman. I wonder if perhaps my fondest memories from travels are from all those car trips I’ve done. That’s funny to think, considering how many plane trips I’ve done, and how much I love to fly.
It was probably better to start with experiences like those first road trips, because not all trips we did after those were as easy and welcome. Travelling can bring you to those you love, but it can also take you far away from them. Maybe that’s why all those car rides hold such a tender place in my heart. I knew those trips were taking us to loved ones, to the magical wonder of christmas, and to moments I will hold dear forever.
I could say so much more about travelling, because it was, is and will always be such a fundamental part of my life. Perhaps I’ll write more some other time. For now I’ll leave you with this:
Safe travels to anyone on the roads, in the air, on the rails or on the waves.
Happy holidays and have a wonderful thanksgiving.