Best Trip of Your Life
I've done a lot of traveling and most of them end up being good in some way - a needed retreat, fascinating locations, new people and a greater sense of the world and my part in it. So it's hard for me to pick just one.
For clarity, I'm going to say studying or living abroad doesn't count. It really is a different kind of experience, and doesn't seem true to the intent of the question.
But, I did travel during my times living elsewhere and I do think those times on the road count as a trip, so I'm picking Europe, in the summer of 2007, co-starring Emiglia and the Scottish One.
"Best" feels like a vague term for a thing like traveling because, so often, traveling isn't one prolonged high, but a series of ups and downs, and highs and lows that come with living at full speed. We're not talking about lounging on the beach sipping a cocktail, we're talking about being On the Road.
But I think if I'm going to take stock of my travels, the summer of my 21st year, living out a 50 pound suitcase and sleeping in hostels with two amazing friends was certainly a highlight and an experience that will live on as something that can never be truly recreated, but will always hold a special place in my heart. It was a certain time in my life that sits in the glow the past, where the memories of a lucky and full life go to retire and send us a smile throughout the years.
Look, I'm smiling now.
The nuts and bolts of the journey were as such: 6 weeks post study abroad in the South of France, three friends, 2 Eurail and one InterRail pass, a jar of peanut butter, hardly any money and the wind at our backs.
Here's where we went: Paris (1 nt. transit), Edinburgh (a week at the Scottish One's parents house being mothered by, well, S.O.'s mother), Dublin (my doing, surprise), Amsterdam, Normandy, Bordeaux, San Sebastian, Barcelona, Berlin (parting ways with Emiglia), Munich, Cannes, home. Or at least that's how I remember it.
You can imagine that we were tired by the end. But honestly, not as tired as you'd think. So much happened that it's hard to describe it all here, so I won't really try. There are some highlights: seeing the Scottish house of Parliament and walking by the sea in Edinburgh, visiting Ireland for the first time and falling in love with it immediately and profoundly, discovering Emiglia's deadly allergy to buck wheat in rural Northern France and then partying with the locals who helped save her after She Did Not Die, hearing the heavenly music play at the Bordeaux Cathedral, eating tapas in San Sebastian, marveling at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, feeling the immensity of Berlin and the indescribable speed at which is was changing, having a beer and a brat with new friends in Munich, and finally learning the empty feeling inside when, inevitably, you have to go home.
Many a person has tried to describe the way their lives are changed by travel, but in some way, we all fail just a little bit. There isn't a person or a thing in the world that could recreate what it means to be elsewhere, but feel home. What its like to be alone, but not lonely; lost, but exactly where you're meant to be. It's the act of the whole thing together - the journey, not the destination that sticks with us and makes us into something entirely new.
There are other parts of that trip that will live with me forever and that I'll always share with my friends who were with me. But some of those memories are for later, or maybe just for me to remember. With a warm glow and a smile.