Last Stop, Swtizerland

After disembarking from our river cruise ship in Basel, Switzerland we traveled by train to Interlaken, a city sandwiched between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. At this point in our trip, my husband and I were both suffering from mild colds. After checking into our hotel, we slept most of the day away with only a quick outing to pick up some spicy Mexican soup that did wonders for the sinuses. During the two days that followed, we traveled by cablecar up into the Swiss mountains, ice skated outside, and ate lots of chocolate and cheese.

On New Year’s Eve we packed up once again and took the train to Lucerne, the last city on our itinerary. This city stood out as a favorite among the rest—a picturesque setting with old world history. We walked the city to see top tourist attractions including the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe, the dying lion monument crafted to honor the Swiss troops who died serving King Louis XVI in the French Revolution, and the wall and towers that fortified the city in the 13th century.

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Travel Lessons: My Normal Isn’t the Only Normal

My Normal Isn't the Only Normal

I flew on an airplane for the first time when I was 18. My brother and two friends traveled with me to New York City. I can’t remember why we picked New York as our destination or why we decided to go in January when bitter cold temperatures seized the northeast. I do remember confetti littered on the ground, left over from New Year’s Eve celebrations and the wind that cut between skyscrapers and stung my skin. I also remember clutching my purse in protection against pickpockets who could spot us a mile away thanks to brightly colored winter wear that contrasted with a sea of New Yorkers donned in black and gray.

We zipped around from one touristy hot spot to the next, seeing everything from a Broadway play to the Statue of Liberty and even securing seats in the audience of a David Letterman show.

Aside from just enjoying the sights, the trip opened my eyes to see that a lot of life happens outside of my little bubble. As silly or naive as it sounds, I walked around New York processing the fact that thousands of people called that very spot home, and it was so very different from my own concept of home. The scenery I was taking in as fresh and exciting would be considered simply commonplace to its residents. My normal isn’t the only normal.

The second time I flew in an airplane, I was a college student headed to Italy for a month-long photography course. If New York City was eye-opening, Europe was mind-blowing. The art, the architecture, and the picturesque places that are “normal” for Italians created sensory overload for this Southern suburban dweller. Watching Italians around me, I wondered how they could walk down the cobblestone streets seemingly unaffected by the beauty around them: Michelangelo’s David, melt-in-your-mouth pastas, the music of church bells, and pristine gardens. Thinking of the places I have lived, I do know it’s easy to take certain things for granted. It’s easy to miss what’s right in front of you if it’s always been there.

Since moving to Abu Dhabi, we’ve traveled frequently, and while I still jump at any travel opportunity, the sparkle and newness of exploring different cities has somewhat faded since that first trip to New York. During this period I’m considering why I value travel. Traveling can create uncomfortable or challenging situations, but more often it’s exhilarating and awe-inspiring. My experiences have taught me that God’s creation is beautiful, that the world is huge and I occupy only a very small piece of it, that the sun and sky and moon looks much the same wherever you are, and that my home is a very special place. When I planned my trip to Italy, I remember thinking that when I’m old and gray I would rather have the memories of Italy in my mind than the few thousand dollars it cost in my bank account. The memories I’ve accumulated of places far and wide are valuable to me, but I think that value would be diminished if I didn’t have a place on this earth to call home, where I belong.

I haven’t been to the United States in almost two years, and I’m anticipating my reaction to my own homecoming. In one regard, I expect things to be as they always were. On the other hand, I know that traveling has changed my perspective, so I’m excited to see what new beauty and value I find in my own home town.

Tick Tock Tick Tock…Ding!

The waiting is over. I have my plane ticket and I’m leaving for Abu Dhabi next Tuesday! Spending time with family in the interim has been great, but the anticipation of what comes next is huge. Josh has been there for 5 weeks now, and I’m ready to be with him again and see all the preparations he has made for me in our apartment. I’m sure the blog posts will pick up now that I’m actually going! But, I couldn’t resist sharing some of these pictures. Hopefully they portray a bit about what this wait has been like.

There was some of this...

There was some of this…

...and some of this...

…and some of this…

a good bit of this...

a good bit of this…

– then back to this…

and one of these!

and one of these!

Okay, so it wasn’t really that melancholy, but waiting for something big and exciting can become really tedious! Well, I’ll be there soon. Stay tuned!