Touring

I’m in Munich, Germany, and I’ll be home – in the US – tonight.   I find that remarkable.   I shouldn’t.  Airplanes existed when I was born.  So did phones.  Yet I still marvel when a phone call over thousands of miles sounds the same as one to the next door neighbor.  It’s a small world.
 
John and I have just spent 13 days with a group of 12 members of his family.  An odyssey led by his parents, generously including John’s brother, sister-in-law, three aunts, a cousin, his godparents, and us. A jovial group ranging in age from mid forties to mid-eighties. And I, for one, experienced my first guided European tour.
 
I love to travel, and I’m blessed to have done a lot of it. One of the things I enjoy the most about travel is the planning and the solving of puzzles along the way.  Deciphering the language and the local transit system and the currency.  Poring through guidebooks and deciding what to take on.
 
A guided tour is new to me.
 
Someone else chose the itinerary.  Someone else planned where to go.  Someone else arranged to pick us up at the airport and figured out how to get to the hotel, which someone else booked.  Someone else loaded our bags under the bus, then delivered them to our room.  Someone else took care of every conceivable detail.
 

I’m a control freak.     Yet I I’m in Munich, Germany, and I’ll be home – in the US – tonight.   I find that remarkable.   I shouldn’t.  Airplanes existed when I was born.  So did phones.  Yet I still marvel when a phone call over thousands of miles sounds the same as one to the next door neighbor.  It’s a small world.

 
John and I have just spent 13 days with a group of 12 members of his family.  An odyssey led by his parents, generously including John’s brother, sister-in-law, aunts, a cousin, his godparents. A jovial group ranging in age from mid forties to mid-eighties. And I, for one, experienced my first guided European tour.
 
I love to travel, and I’m blessed to have done a lot of it. One of the things I enjoy the most about travel is the planning and the solving of puzzles along the way.  Deciphering the language and the local transit system and the currency.  Poring through guidebooks and deciding what to take on.
 
A guided tour is new to me.
 
Someone else chose the itinerary.  Someone else planned where to go.  Someone’s else arranged to pick us up at the airport and figured out how to get to the hotel, which someone else booked.  Someone else loaded our bags under the bus, then delivered them to our room.  Someone else took care of every conceivable detail.
 
I’m a control freak.     Yet, I loved it.
 
Someone else gently narrated the history of each place and picked out interesting things passing by.  In a charming German accent, someone else interlaced stories of current events, local lifestyles, and an occasional joke.  Someone else walked us through the first 200 yards of a city so we could get our bearings before we wandered away on our own.  Someone else arranged a hot meal and cold beers for us when we came back at the end of the day.
 
I still love my own style of travel, but surprisingly this is also the bee’s knees.
 
I didn’t know two of John’s aunts nor his cousin very well before this trip. They became family to me.  Watching the dynamic between my father-in-law and his sisters made me think of our own kids – a closely matched lineup – and I tried to imagine them in their 70s and 80s, enjoying each other and telling stories about their parents and growing up. Precious time piled on top of a lifetime. I want them to be together like this.  All their lives.
 
We moved quite easily as a group of 12, sometimes breaking into smaller groups to satisfy different interests, appetites, and energy levels.  At some point in the day, we always seemed to end up around a big table set with big glasses of German or Austrian or Czech or Hungarian or Slovakian beers (and two or three glasses of Chardonnay).  There were a couple of nights early on that I’m sure our bus mates would have preferred a quiet ride home, but our family insisted on singing and laughing and stirring things up. We’d try to sing a local song we’d heard that night, but ended up singing every word of “American Pie” at the top of our lungs.  By the end of the tour, I think they grew to appreciate the good humor and joy that came along with our raucousness.  In the breakfast room this morning as folks said their farewells before leaving for the airport, many commented on the pleasure they took in seeing a family have such a good time together.
 
The trip wasn’t perfect.  One person lost a coat and one lost a credit card (promptly cancelled).  An excursion was rained upon one day. Internet coverage was spotty and wake up calls were early.  We all gained about 15 pounds.  We missed home and wished others could be here.   
 
Not bad, eh?.
 
In fact, utter success.  A bushel of memories to share. Thousands of photographs. New friends made. Promises to see one another again soon.  
 
We are so grateful.
 
Thanks, Big Lou.
 
  
John’s mom and dad

 

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4 thoughts on “Touring

  1. What a wonderful holiday that sounds, I have to admit we never go anywhere, and the thought of booking things makes me feel quite ill, even a night in a hotel in London, it all seems too much trouble. it is hard as i have an assistance dog and all the explanations and plans and checks that have to be made are onerous. At least, I find them so. I’m glad you had a fabulous time,and i guess all trips throw up some little troubles. ~Liz http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

    Liked by 1 person

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