Friday, March 16, 2012

The excitement of the journey

This afternoon I bade "safe travels" to the 20 folks who are going on Parkland's tour to Paris and the Loire Valley. Some of the folks have never traveled overseas; others are seasoned travelers.

Having been fortunate to have gone on a few of Parkland's previous tours (London, Scotland, Italy, and Spain), it's fun to recall that thrilling anticipation of experiencing a different culture.

On my first trip to Europe, our tour went exclusively to London. Since childhood, London has fascinated me (previous life?). I love the history, the literature, the pubs, the people. To say I was a tad excited about seeing London for the first time in my life is, yes, an understatement.

One of my fellow travelers during that first London trip was a friend from Parkland. England was familiar to her; she had even taught a semester at Canterbury. She understood my excitement and shared my love for all things British.

As I think back, I am grateful to her for not thinking me silly for my awe at actually getting to see my beloved London. When our plane arrived at Heathrow and we disembarked go through Customs, baggage, the whole international bit (this was not that long after 9/11), I really couldn't take it all in.

We were met by our tour guide and we loaded everything onto a motorcoach to head to our hotel. On the way, the driver gave us a mini-tour of the great City.

When we stopped near the Thames, we could get off the coach to take photos and scan the view. All I remember to this day is that I looked up and there was Big Ben.

And I cried.

The rest of the trip was wonderful. Nothing will ever come close, though, to those first moments of pure joy.

That, my friends, is what travel is all about. Go. Anywhere.

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