Travel Abroad

As I was putting together my “50 at 50” list, I gave a great deal of thought to the things that I wanted to do.  I wanted the list to be adventurous and  realistic.  I knew this would be a big year for our family with the kids traveling abroad for the first time and Emma’s senior year of high school, therefore, I did not put on my list travel abroad.

But, the stars aligned and I was able to leave North America for the first time in my life.   Elena and I spent a week in Madrid, Spain and Paris France.  As we were planning our trip, my feelings were mixed with everything from anxiety to elation to eagerness.  We read travel books, visited travel websites and spoke with friends and relatives who were world travelers.  We received some very good advice because our trip was seamless.

Elena is a wonderful world traveler.  She is courageous, careful and resourceful.  She was by far the leader of our adventure.  She mastered the Metro systems in both countries with just a few minutes of study.  We were never lost and she was able to find all the locations on our wish lists for visiting.  Besides the above characteristics, Elena is young and at times forgot that I was 30 years older than her.  We tracked about 10+ miles each and every day.  I may be the only person to visit Europe and in a week lose ten pounds.  I am referring to it as the “Elena weight loss plan.”  You will walk fast, escalators and moving sidewalks are not for standing and you will carry your own bags all the time.  Stopping for food is allowed at most twice per day and drink lots of water because you will need it.

The most frightening portion of the trip was the zip lining  over the width of Tagus River in Toledo, Spain.  It took me two hours to work up the nerve to pay my money and sail across the river.  Elena took her turn over right away and then I sat and watched dozens of people in different shapes and sizes cross the river before I felt brave enough to put on my helmet and fly.  When I arrived to the jumping point, I had a few questions for the gentleman.  I started to explain to him that I was still a bit unsure if I should jump, he said you will be fine and pushed me out.  The rest is history.  I can mark that off my list.

Getting older has made me less brave.  I really do not mind the aging process but this has to be one of the side effects of aging that I enjoy the least.  As we planned for our trip, I think we talked as much about safety as we did the places we wanted to explore.  We planned for situations that might happen and we went over the details of our trip multiple times.

First and most importantly, I felt very safe the entire time we were in Europe.  Crime does happen and we were careful and conscience about our settings.  We stayed out of alleys and poorly lit areas.  We kept our money and passports in a pouch under our clothing.  We stayed with large groups of people so it did not appear we were  traveling alone.  We made colored copies of our passports and left one at home, left one if our suitcase at the hotel and took a picture on our phones.  In addition, before we left, we contacted our bank, credit card company and our medical insurance company.  We also packed a very small first aid kit for our bag that carried items such as Pepto Bismo, motion sick tables, ibuprofen, band aids and antibiotic cream.  We used each and every item while on our trip. 

Our trip can best be described as Lucy and Ethel meet the Girl Scouts.   It was such a wonderful adventure and I was so blessed to share it with my oldest daughter.  The best part of the trip for me was seeing the world through her eyes.  It also helped me to see her as the beautiful, responsible adult that she is. 

The List

  • Write a monthly thank you to someone who has had a big impact on my life
  • Give blood
  • Spend an entire day completing random acts of kindness
  • Grant a wish from my mom’s bucket list
  • Get real with money
  • Say no and mean it and feel no guilt
  • Ask for help with no guilt or delay
  • Allow myself to be photographed more often
  • Spend a weekend at the monastery
  • Learn about other religions
  • Join my church as a member
  • Lose 20 pounds
  • Belly Dancing Class
  • Pole Dancing Class
  • Body Cleanse and Detox
  • Reflexology
  • Acupuncture
  • Tai Chi
  • Learn to Bartend
  • Learn to Grill
  • Take an Improv Class
  • Ziplining
  • Rock Climbing
  • Hot Air Ballooning
  • Disc Golf
  • Laser Tag
  • Paint Ball
  • Big Repairs on the house this year
  • Get a tattoo
  • Have a reading by psychic
  • Go to the rodeo
  • Grape Stomping–yes like the time Lucy and Ethel made wine
  • Tandem biking
  • Compete in an event at the State Fair
  • Drive a convertible
  • Work for a flower shop and deliver flowers for a day
  • Write a blog
  • Read a new book each week
  • Read all the books that my book club selects
  • Film Festival
  • Music Festival
  • Get a passport–the plan to travel out of the country begins..
  • Road Trip alone…Thelma and Louise with no Louise…
  • Train Trip
  • Stephen Colbert Show
  • Independent Bookstore Tour around the Midwest
  • Facial
  • Visit with a cosmetologist for a makeup makeover
  • Join AARP
  • Have a colonoscopy

The items that have been marked through are completed items.

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