This week kicked off the romance writer’s holy week. RWA Nationals. Writers come by droves from all over the world. The six and a half hour drive from Tucson, AZ to San Diego CA should have been dull. After all, long stretches of the road look like this.
But get a couple of writers together and it’s amazing how fast time goes by. When we pulled into the parking lot of the hotel, neither one of us could believe that we were already there. So that got me to thinking about road trips and travel. I know people that travel a lot. One couple heads off to an island resort in the Caribbean several times a year. Another couple travels the country in an rv and is in a different state every other week.
It took me a while to get bit by the travel bug. When I graduated from high school, I’d never traveled more than a couple of hundred miles from my hometown. And the thought of getting on an airplane scared me to death. Nope. Travel wasn’t my cup of tea.
Then in 2010, my oldest daughter was stationed in Germany with the US Air Force. She begged me to fly to Europe to visit her. It took her almost two years to convince me that I needed to go see her. So in October of 2012, despite my fear of airplanes, I packed my bags and was ready for not only my first major trip, but traveling halfway across the world.
We had the entire trip planned months in advance. I only had 2 weeks, so we were going to make the most of it. I picked the places I wanted to see the most. For a history geek like me, it was hard to narrow it down, but I finally decided on Ireland, London, Italy and Germany. Ireland and England because that's where my ancestors were from, Germany to see where my daughter lived and Italy because, well, it's Italy! Did I really need a reason? Because we were on a pretty tight budget, We decided to stay in hostels. If your not familiar with what a hostel is, imagine the huge dorm rooms you may have stayed in during summer camp. Twenty plus beds filled with strangers, sharing a room. Yeah. It was great.
Our first stop was Ireland. She flew over from Germany and we met in Dubline. Then we got on a train and went to Cork. We spent three days in Ireland. The country was beautiful. We learned traditional Irish set dances at the Ceili Mor Folk Music Festival, kissed the Blarney Stone and visited as many pubs as we could. There's something about Irish music that speaks to me and I can't keep from tapping my toes.
Stop number two was Germany. After a day on her base, we hit the countryside to see Bavarian castles and Dachau concentration camp. That night we stopped to join in on Oktoberfest celebration. We walked over to the hostel where we'd made reservations, only to find out they'd lost the reservation and we didn't have a place to sleep. By this time, I was ready for adventure, so we got in my daughter's car, jumped on the autobahn and headed to our next stop. When we got tired, we pulled into a small town and slept in the car.
We went to Italy next. As soon as we got off the plane, we jumped on a train and took an hour ride to Sorento. My daughter wanted to spend one night on the Amalfi coast. One of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. When we arrived at the hostel and discovered that they too had lost our reservations, I started to get worried. I didn't like the pattern that was forming here. They apologized for the mistake and upgraded up to a private room for no extra charge. Score! We spent the day touring the beautiful area before getting back on a train just before lunch.
Did I mention I was a history buff? No? Well, I am. The older the better. And what could be older than a city buried by a volcano in 79 AD? We spend the entire afternoon at Pompeii. I was in heaven. If it hadn't been for the fact that we only had one day left and we still hadn't seen Rome, I would've gladly stayed in Pompeii for weeks.
Rome was everything I imagined it to be. We toured the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. All in a day. Then it was time to get back on a plane and fly to London. We stayed in the same hostel the entire three days, making it the first time we spend more than one night in the same place. We went to Buckingham Palace, the fabulous WWII museum, London Bridge, the Tower of London, Big Ben, Stonehenge and of course, Platform 9 3/4.
Three days later, my daughter flew back to Germany and I flew back to the States. Over all, I hit four countries in twelve days. When I got home, I was exhausted, but I developed a whole new appreciation for travel and can't wait to go back. For now, at least, I'll have to be satisfied with the once a year trips to RWA. But I can't wait to go back to Europe when I can take my time and really explore the people and the country side. I'm trying to convince my husband that it's all in the name of research for a book. So far, he's not buying it.
To see more pictures from my trip to Europe, visit my Facebook page. What about you? What's the most memorable trip you've ever taken?