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The Art of Fast Living

The rocky plane ride didn’t deter me from opening up my laptop and stringing together as many thoughts as possible as I occasionally glanced out the window to see the snow-capped Alps. This is why I always vie for a window seat.

I’ve always been prone to motion sickness, but lately, this is my best opportunity to sit down and actually write.

This past January, Michael and I decided that we would lessen our travel a bit. Take some time in between trips. Last year was so intense without much time at home, we wanted a chance to breathe.

That isn't happening.

In 5 months we move back to Dallas, Texas. Back to our house. Back to a yard, friends, family, and real Mexican food.

With that thought looming over our head, we knew there was still so much to see in Europe, we couldn't miss out. So, instead we made travel plans. Which is why I'm writing this on a plane.

I thought I'd write out a bit how I'm feeling, what I'm looking forward to, and thoughts on some of the best, and strangest trips I've taken so far this year.

I wish I had more time. Or a magic time machine, so that I can write about every single trip I take. Each one has been different from the next and I've captured so many images and thoughts about the journey. I always take meticulous notes while I travel. Trying to capture how I feel, what I see, and historical facts. I think that if I write something down, even more than an image, I'll be able to hold on to that sense of how I felt.

I remember getting in trouble in school for writing notes that had absolutely nothing to do with the teacher’s lesson, I was too busy writing out my feelings or a secret novel.

This just might be the best way I capture a moment. And maybe that's the secret to life, finding out how to capture your favorite ones, because there will always be good and bad.

I can't believe my three years abroad is almost complete. I know time flies when you're having fun, but I think it goes into a sprint when you're traveling.

January we didn't travel much, a few trips to the snow laden hills of the Black Forest and a magnificent trip to Chamonix. Spending time with the dogs in France and seeing the tallest mountain in Europe, Mont Blanc, then traveling to pretty and tiny Lichtenstein, a detour to Switzerland to go sledding, then going to a dog race in the Black Forest, it was a time for a respite at home.  Then, we went into high gear.

February we went to two new countries: Latvia and Lithuania. Despite being heavily under the weather, we stifled our colds, brought along Kleenex and walked on a frozen lake to a castle.

After a short break at home we traveled to a new country: United Arab Emirates. We stayed in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and while I can say it left an impression on me, it wasn't necessarily for the best reasons. Dubai felt a lot like Las Vegas to me, but along with the extreme wealth, there was also extreme poverty. When we made our way to the desert in our rental car I was shocked by the crumbling buildings and gravel streets. Now, I can see why most take a pre-planned trek. Our route took us through some of the work camps where people are clearly living in very poor conditions. I had a hard time rationalizing the extreme wealth, and if I'm honest, somewhat pompous attitude, contrasting with these poor living conditions of many of the workers who are bused in during the day.

Between trips, we went to Vampire Ball in Heidelberg. A hilariously awesome event held in the sandstone Congress House where Germans dress up to the fullest in period costumes and professional looking deadly makeup.

We still had fake blood on our faces when we made our way to Cologne for their Carnival celebration. I was surprised to see the absolute mayhem of flowers and chocolates being thrown from floats and the general debauchery of Germans letting loose on the streets. After spending a late night at a bar listening to Queen's “Don't Stop Me Now” we took Freddie Mercury's advice and boarded a plane to Spain's Canary Islands off the coast of Africa.

We enjoyed a week of sun and amazing landscapes of three different islands – Tenerife, La Palma, and Gran Canaria as well as watching their Carnival celebrations.

Home for roughly a day, I had enough time to do enough laundry before our dog sitter came and we made our way to England. One of my favorite trips we have ever taken, Michael and I went back to some of the places we visited as 18-year-olds on our first trip together abroad, and discovered some new spots along the coast of Southern England. It was absolutely beautiful and all of my Kiera Knightly version of “Pride and Prejudice” dreams came true. Especially when we stayed in a villa on a 55-acre estate in the Cotswolds. It was a pinch me moment for both of us.

We took a quick trip with the dogs and met up with my cousin in the Austrian Alps. Since tearing my ACL exactly one year ago in the same mountain range, I skipped skiing and focused on sledding. After we visited the tallest mountain in Germany, we dropped off my cousin at the train station and went home. Two full days at home and now, I'm on a plane to Sicily.

Coming up, we have solid travel plans for a month and a half when our best friends come to traverse Europe. The plan, for now, is: Tulips in Amsterdam, beer in Belgium, a spring trip in Paris, a week-long cruise through Provence, a jaunt through the Dolomites, a wedding in Santorini, and we're hosting a trip in Italy. That's just what we have on deck for the next two months. We'll see what we add until we make our way home in August.

While it sounds like a lot, I know that we won't see everything Europe has to offer. But I can't help but try.

Looking through all of this I wish I could pause just so I can write all my thoughts down. But life doesn't work like that. And I've never quite learned the art of slow travel, or slow living for that matter. There's nothing wrong with living fast. As long as you take notes along the way.

 

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