First time traveling solo…

traveling solo

When I was 16 years old my parents offered me the opportunity to go to Bournemouth, England to study English and I happily said yes.  The English course would take 4 weeks and after its completion, I would fly to Rotterdam, where my cousin was currently living, and stay with her for a week or so.  Once I arrived in Rotterdam, I and my cousin started planning out what I could do during the day while she and her husband were at work. She proposed for me to go to Bruges, Belgium for the day by train, my cousin would drop me off at the train station and after a 2-hour train ride, I would arrive at Bruges.  I was anxious about going by myself to a new city, but I felt confident with my improved English skills and felt genuinely excited to go.

I arrived at Bruges train station around 10:00 a.m. It was February so it was cold, although not freezing.  I walked from the Train Station to the City Centre to the Markt guided by the city map my cousin had given me. I walked the Historic Centre and through the channels by the lake. I remember vividly standing at Rozenhoedkaai for what it seems to be a very long time, looking at the water while seating on a bench, with my thoughts overfloating me.  I felt the excitement of being in a new place, of discovering the beauty of this amazing city, the freedom to walk at my pace while taking pictures and enjoying the peace within my silence.

After having a long lunch which consisted of Belgian waffles and a Coca Cola I continued to walk along the water, looking at my map while following my instincts, buying Belgian chocolates and small souvenirs and after eating fries with mayonnaise (European style), I walked back to the train station to find myself back in Rotterdam.  

During the years to come (24 years since then), I have had the opportunity to travel alone many times, Syria, Greece, London, China, among other places.  Always finding the perfect moment in which amazement meets self-enjoyment and happiness shows up, but I always go back to 16-year old me, sitting on the bench looking at the bridge in Bruges, Belgium and I cannot help but smile, knowing its true that old saying… To remember is to live again. 

Travel time… Here we go!

Burnt Orange Travel Postcard

I love to travel… It has always been an important part of my life.  My family loves to travel and that passion has been passed to me. I have been lucky to travel around the world (Paris, London, Spain, Berlin, Philippines, Singapore, China, Palau, Syria among other places)  These journeys have remained in my mind, coming back to me from time to time, making me smile, forcing me to remember a wonderful encapsulated time in my space, a safe place in my mind where I am happy, free and safe. 

As mentioned I have been in several countries, both for personal and professional reasons, each one of those opportunities was fully embraced.   I like to prepare for my travels, I like to know where I am going, I like to know which places need to be visited, the history, the food, the people, the culture.  I have always joked to my husband I am frustrated travel agent, he always laughed, until the time we went to Europe. It was his first trip and we went to 12 cities in 14 days.  From The Netherlands to Belgium to France to Italy, it was magical and it was perfect. It took a lot of planning and research, but 5 years later I can still see his eyes light up when he mentions the trip to friends and family.  (I can give you the details of that trip if you want)

My oldest son has inherited my love for travel, at 12 years old he is full of travel ideas, places he wants to go, the food he wants to try, the different cultures, the adventure. So we are going on a trip. We are taking a Mediterranean Cruise from Barcelona.  My family (husband and two sons) and my parents. We are celebrating my dad’s 70th birthday and I am excited to share this trip with my family. It would be the first time I go to Europe with my parents and that makes it special in a very sentimental way.

So we are leaving in 57 days and I am in full planning mode.  I have decided to include our planning and experiences in this blog. So stay tuned as I plan and execute a Mediterranean Cruise with 4 days in Barcelona for 6, including travel tips, from packing to eating, accommodations, and tours.  It will be fun and you are invited.

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