I'm still around and amassing more stories. Unfortunately, I've
stumbled upon a bit of writers block with a few of the final
EuroAdventures and I really want to get those up before putting up new
stuff. Hopefully I'll get the old stuff up before the end of the week
as well as some new pictures that I got from my travel companions.
When I look out of the window of the train today, I see a different image staring back at me. The nose miner has been replaced by a younger man; a man whose hair and beard have been allowed to grow long and shaggy, whose shoulders hunch forward courtesy of a recently burdened back and whose face bears a subtle smile - a response to the lifetime of memories gathered over the past two and a half months.
My latest travel companions have returned safely to the States, leaving me alone once again, which means I have no one to share my overtly relevant song parodies with (the reallifeonhold.com world tour hit single, 'Meat Sweats' will be hitting shelves soon!). A final cultural intake of London feels appropriate for my last full day overseas, so I plan to grab a helping of fish and chips, head over to the Tate Modern museum for a walk amongst the Dali's, Magritte's and Lichtenstein's and finish with a tour of the Camden Market.
It seems hard to believe that this part of the adventure is coming to a close; but, as is the case with any good story, one chapter must end before the next can begin.
"I went to flush the urinal and it sprayed water all over my pants!"
Kurt and his very wet pants have just returned to our hostel room in Florence.
"There were urinals in the bathroom? I don't remember seeing any..."
"Yeah, it was in the stall, right next to the toilet."
"Uh, that's not a urinal, that's a bidet."
I made it back to home soil alive and it feels good to be here. Perhaps it was a mistake taking that nap in the car on the way home from the airport because now I'm thoroughly 'lagged and wide awake at 4:00AM. There's plenty to do, though, I have all of my pictures to process and a few backdated entries to post. And, of course, there is that matter of researching where to find the best burrito in Hemet.
This entry was written by my fellow traveler, Po-Ling, aka The Real Po-Po; She, Sabina and I traveled in London, Germany and Norway together.
As we sit in sardine like proximity of complete strangers on Scandinavian Airlines, raindrops trickle slowly down the glass pane windows of the airplane. Sabina and I are leaving Oslo; our vacation has officially come to term. We have been fortunate with sunny weather nearly through the entire trip, but on this day, our departure date, the clouds of Norway weep for us. Travis, the third of the traveling musketeers, is already en route to the UK.
I think back to the past 16 days, and I remember only good things. Perhaps it is because this trip has been filled with nothing but good memories. My snarky sarcastic side lies dormant on the sentiments running through me. Is it possible this vacation has actually made me somewhat of an optimist?
Our plane is now taxiing towards the runway, and all I can think of is the word bittersweet; how perfectly it describes the mood in my heart. The raindrops are streaming past the windows now, faster than before. It's time to go home. There's nothing we can do now to resist the G-force hurdling us farther and farther away from the foreign lands we've come to love. Well, nothing short of a terrorist like take over attempt on our part. Let's just face it, sitting in the middle and by the window in row 27 is just not conducive to storming the cockpit. I think our efforts are better spent trying to infiltrate the water closet.
This trip was special because of the characters involved. I said characters because we each played a role. Sabina was the matron navigator who, like a student council president, kept us on track. She was also the universal translator from whom I learned Norwegian from. (Her Norwegian lessons had backfired when I caught her telling her uncle that Travis and I were being childish.) Travis was the token male, who often was our bellhop. Of course, he was much more than that, he was also quite the doorman and courier for small pieces of trash and empty containers. Oh, I kid, I kid! Travis provided us with very entertaining stories from his past and unsolicited random facts about Velcro. I also shared in the entertainment role by my willingness to pose in compromising photos. And, by that I mean cheesy, touristy, slightly obnoxious PG-13 photos. On the other hand, I was the timekeeper with a watch tan badge of honor. At night, after I set the alarm clock, I became the intermediary between Travis' snoring and Sabina's protest.
Many memorable moments were had on the trip. Such an example was a miscommunication at one of our host families' house, where the hostess thought Travis wanted her to do his laundry. She was quite indignant about the request and punished him by making him sleep on the dog couch and holding his socks hostage. Travis, in good boy scout fashion, made ammends, and we all had a good laugh over it. Sabina was the eternal klutz, and I was there to laugh at her every near tumbles and falls, like a good friend should. She was particular great at teaching us the idiosyncrasies of each European shower. We were never scalded by hot water nor frozen by icy blasts. On the occasions when we went clubbing, I told people that Travis was my adopted gay brother (but only to guys because he was salting my game).
Now that we have finally boarded our connection to Chicago, the bitter part of separation has subsided and the sweet memories are surfacing. Shakespeare said it best, "Parting is such sweet sorrow."
Is this what homesickness feels like?
With two weeks remaining in Europe, this was a question I began to ask myself with disturbing regularity. While there hadn't been any time during the trip where I was unhappy to be over here, the effects of extended travel started to show its ugly face. I found myself longing to be in a place where I could put on fresh clothes and fall asleep in the same bed each night. The novelty of learning to communicate in a new language every week waned and was replaced by the desire to convey thoughts and desires without having to resort to an extensive game of charades.
Ironically, I don't have much more of a place to call 'home' in the US than I do abroad, but as I count down these final days I still find that I am eager to return to the familiar. So, please lay out a fresh pair of jeans, a clean set of sheets and order up a carne asada burrito for me - I'll be home soon!