So much has happened since April of this year. I mean, we left our jobs, packed up our stuff, and are currently living out of backpacks! My sense of normal has had a complete shift. Currently I feel like I'm "settled" if I am in the same apartment for more than 7 days.
Life has changed dramatically.
It feels like that is a whole topic in and of itself so I'm just going to try my best to focus on what I've learned from this trip so far.
1. The world can be beautiful!
People always ask what my favorite place is so far and my answer is almost always the same... it depends. I have to break down places by type: big cities, natural beauty, quiet getaway, great food, cheap overall, you get my drift. But if you are simply looking through the lens of a camera you don't have to qualify anything the world in general is just an amazing place.
Iceland is just a magical place and I know I've already written about it but... I just have to include it in the beauty.
2. You can make friends any time you are ready
In my opinion, it's a little harder to meet people as a traveling couple. We tend to stick to one another but when we do branch out and talk to people, we have a great time! One of the funniest things I've learned is that you hardly even have to speak the same language (though it does help of course). Several of our friends from Italy spoke barely any English, but when we saw each other on the bar or at the bus, me and my new friends would go out of our way to say hello and acknowledge each other through gestures, smiles, and lots of words the other person didn't understand.
I was surprised at how quickly we met another traveler that we both grooved with so well. We met Kim in Biassa, Italy and it turned out that our schedules aligned for the first leg of our trip. After Biassa we've met up with her in Pompeii, Istanbul, and Croatia! We've swapped travel tips and keep each other up-to-date on our whereabouts. It's so great to meet someone that you know is part of your new circle of friends that under otherwise normal circumstances you may have never encountered.
Italy was the country where few English words were spoken but great fun and friends were to be had.
FRIENDS OF FRIENDS AROUND THE WORLD
I feel so thankful that many of our friends back in the U.S. know people around the world. It feels like we have an extended family. We've been welcomed open arms by these people and I feel so fortunate.
.Ward in Belgium was so nice to drive us around to our mutual friend's wedding reception. We chatted with him over coffee as well as had a delicious lunch in his new restaurant. So appreciative that despite his hectic schedule he made time for us. (I'm sad we did not get a picture with Lisbeth but she was also a great part of this part of the trip. I have a feeling we'll see her again in the world and when we do we'll have to snap a photo.)
Alfie, Edith, David, Davi'd's Mom, and Anne
3. It is still always nice to see friends from the U.S.
Not that I'm expecting anyone to feel sorry for me but constant traveling is really hard. Even if you are in a beautiful country eating great food and enjoying great wine you still get homesick. Hell, sometimes you just want to speak English! That's okay and it's just part of the journey but with that in mind it brings such joy to see someone from back home out in the world!
Crystal was one of my best friends back in Austin. She left me years ago to marry a proper Englishman and I was so happy to see her in her non-Austin digs. I love that we can pick up exactly where we left off and get right back into the groove. I needed her and I needed this visit.
Alisa was a friend of Brent's from Austin. Her and her husband welcomed us into their home in Dun Laoghaire. I was so thankful to get to know her better! She's funny and a science nerd and I just connected with her on a personal level.
4. I. Love. Food.
I think that here a the pictures say about a billion words.
5. I am really traveling with a great partner
I really just didn't know what to expect from my relationship when we started this journey. You can love someone and laugh with someone but can you do that while spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with them? This was the very big question.
I can resoundingly say, yes. It isn't always easy or perfect. I get angry when I'm hungry. I get tired and irritable at times but a majority of the time I am still laughing with Brent and enjoying his company. It has taken us to a new level of togetherness and a new wave of communication skills. I think we understand each other when we say we need time alone, need to get out of a city, or just that we need to be still and not move for a while. We've always been a good team but this has been better than I expected. I think that may be the most important thing I've figure out so far.... I definitely married the right person for me. My girlfriends, friends, and family are still important and I need all of them to round out my healthy relationships but this guy well, I have to see his face every day and I'm glad that I get to.