My dream job would probably be touring the world (seeing it, experiencing it, cooking, eating and drinking it!) with hubby. Yes, I definitely think so. The travel bug has bitten and I will never recover from its fever!
But what is it about travelling; why do I love it so much? Let me count the ways…
The feeling I get when hubby and I sit in the plane, ready to take off; arms locked, holding hands
It’s hard to describe the feeling. Anticipation. Excitement. A bit of nerves. Like it is just me and him against the world (in a good way; not as in some sci-fi movie where we are the only people left to save the world from an alien invasion). Together we are standing on the edge of the unknown, of an adventure, not knowing what awaits us, but knowing that together will make it through and that we will be forever changed by the experience. Goosebump stuff!
The thrill of visiting a country where English is not the first language
The first country we visited where English was not spoken as a first language was France. We arrived by train at Gare du Nord station and upon getting out on to the platform we were bombarded with everything in French; announcements, signage, people, the whole lot! I could not see one bit of English anywhere!
We honestly spent at least an hour inside that station trying to buy metro tickets and trying to find our way to the subway section.
(The reward was worth it though; we exited the metro at the Charles de Gaulle Etoile stop and as you come up from the stairs the magnificent Arc de Triomphe is right in front of you!)
A couple of years later we arrived back at Gare du Nord. French/English signs everywhere. Like they’ve always been. Clearly we were so in awe back then that we never noticed there was English aplenty!
Experiencing different cultures
There is something special about watching other people going about their normal daily routine and seeing how they just do things completely differently. From what they do, to how they do it. It has definitely inspired some different behaviors from hubby and I; there is always something that you bring back with you and that will forever remain a part of you.
We were staying in a small town on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Hubby and I went for an early morning stroll by the little beach, following paths carved in to the rocks right next to the ocean. On our way back we were met with the sight of people arguing. It was three elderly ladies and two gentlemen in the water. Hands waving in the air, gesturing, talking wildly. I actually felt a bit afraid. It seemed that someone could be drowned soon. This was serious. That’s until we got to the beach and saw them up close. They were talking and laughing loudly, hands flying through the air as they told their stories. No arguing there, they were just Italian!
History (and landmarks)
I love history. Ever since school. (I don’t think the fact that my history teacher was kind of handsome had anything to do with it; I’ve managed to maintained my love for historic things years after his looks faded!)
Going to cathedrals, museums, visiting old squares and castles, monasteries – I love it, love it, love it! It is just such an amazing privilege to see something from hundreds of years ago, that has survived all this time. And not to see in on tv or in a magazine, but in ‘real life’. I am forever changed by it. Afterwards, if I see a place I’ve been to on television, I can’t help but see it in a different light, knowing that my footsteps were also once there.
It’s impossible to pick a highlight. Each place is absolutely special in its own right. However, the first cathedral we ever saw was the Notre-Dame de Reims in Reims, France. Because it was the first, it will always have a special place in my heart.
(Although, I must admit, the Eiffel Tower has some hypnotic power over me. On each visit to Paris, whenever we pass it on foot, in a bus, on a boat, doesn’t matter how many pictures I have taken, I always have to take just one (or ten) more!)
Fresh produce markets, i.e. food and wine
We really love good food and wine, so it is such a thrill to try new things. Each time we leave on holiday we go with a list of ‘must-try’ foods and we always come back with newfound favourite recipes that we will continue to make for the rest of our lives.
The fresh produce markets are incredible. In South Africa we don’t really have something similar and on the scale as we’ve encountered in Europe. Because we really enjoy cooking we prefer staying in small apartments so that we can have cooking facilities. This means we get to shop at the fresh produce markets to our hearts content and then bring it back to our little place to cook.
Last year we visited Avignon. We stayed in a wonderful little apartment in the center of the old city. Just down the road (at 18 Place Pie) was Les Halles (the market). It was the best experience going there, picking up some ingredients and then heading back to our little home away from home. Normally when I walk in the streets I always wonder what is behind the old doors and this time we could open up our very own old door!
We spent many evenings cooking our hand-picked local produce, enjoying great local wine and looking out from our balcony at life going by in Avignon below. We really felt local and not like tourists at all.
Then… I also love the planning before the time – that is almost a holiday in itself. And photography. Hubby and I are keen photographers, so capturing these amazing places on camera is such a joy. And fridge magnets. We bring back a fridge magnet from every town we visit. We ‘reveal’ them back home over some wine, reminiscing about each place as each little magnet gets its place of honour of the fridge. And then there is…
Let me (further) count the ways another time!