I have always loved to travel. When I was growing up, my family would go on these epically long road trips - I remember driving to Florida, Canada, the east coast, and many other places across the US. My sister and I would sit in the backseat of the car, carefree with no carseats (it was the 80's after all), and play with Barbie Dolls and read Sweet Valley High books. Those were some great trips! I remember hiking in the mountains with my family - my dad would quiz us on the scientific names of all the flora and fauna (he had a PhD in Botany). My mom would keep us going by telling us stories about the horses she grew up with and loved - Trixie, Dixie, Pixie (super creative names there, mom!). I treasure these memories more than almost anything.
As we grew older, my parents took my sister and I overseas - to places like Ireland, Scotland, England, and all over Europe. My mom was usually a nervous wreck before leaving for these trips, but it always turned out just fine.
I remember one particularly long and arduous trip during the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. My mom planned this entire trip all on her own. I think she was feeling very ambitious, probably because she was so happy to be alive and well. After all, she had recently survived the sudden and early death of her husband, my father, and her second battle with breast cancer.
This trip, which was 6-weeks, took us all over Europe - beginning in Greece, going to the Swiss Alps, taking a gondola over to France, and ending in Paris. It was an incredible trip, but there were some major bumps along the way.
When we got to Greece, my mom got this terrible eye infection. Imagine being in Greece, not being able to speak the language, and trying to find eyedrops... Not easy! I vaguely remember renting a car also - and as it turns out - everything in Greece is written in Greek...including road signs. Then there was this donkey that tried to throw me off the cliffs of Santorini. That was INSANE.
But the most memorable bump of this trip happened in Paris. This was the last stop on our journey and we were pretty tired of traveling. We wanted some "comfort food", so we decided to go to this "really great" Chinese food restaurant. We had gone to this place a few years back, with my dad - and it had been really good. I guess it was part nostalgia, part exhaustion, and part stupidity. But we went there. I remember eating a dish with black mushrooms.
When we got back to our hotel in the Latin Quarter for a relaxing evening, we all started to feel a bit "off". Well, that "off" feeling, for all three of us, soon turned into full blown food poisoning. I remember fighting over the teeny tiny bathroom and trying to get some sleep - which was nearly impossible due the the constant use of the bathroom, the honeymoon couple that was "sleeping" in the next room, and the crazy drunk Latin Quarter people outside.
The food poisoning lasted the rest of the trip. I had really REALLY wanted to see the catacombs, so I forced my mom and sister onto the metro. When we got the the stop for the catacombs, we ended up staying on the train and going back to the hotel. It was a sad day. And it would be many MANY years until I was actually able to see the catacombs (that's another story...).
We were still sick when we got home from our epic journey, but honestly? I wouldn't change a thing. Even the food poisoning. OK, I might change the honeymoon couple in the room next door.... But it was a great trip. Thanks mom and sis for the insane memories!