Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Joys of Travel

{Cruising near the Rhine River in Bacharach, Germany, 2009}

Today is my fifth AAdvantage Anniversary.

I can't believe I've been earning airline miles for half a decade.

And while I appreciate American Airlines taking the time to thank me for flying with them (they sent me an e-mail), honestly, it is I who should be thanking them.

Case in point: In five years, I've earned five free airline tickets. :-)

I've had the chance to fly to places I never thought I would visit.

Places like Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, England, Costa Rica, Belize and Mexico.

I've done things I never dreamed I'd have the chance to do.

Like swimming with sting rays in Belize,

cruising to the top of Europe known as Jungfrau (in Switzerland),

zip lining in Mexico,

hiking all over Machu Picchu,

seeing a manatee up close off the coast of Belize,

gazing at Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa,

biking in the hills of Florence,

experiencing a Sound of Music tour in Salzburg (and a fun luge ride),

surveying Michaelangelo's David,

feasting on cuy and alpaca in Peru,

staring at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel,

staying overnight with a local family on Amantani, an island in Lake Titicaca,

walking through the rainforest--flashlight in hand--on a night hike,

experiencing a 5.5 magnitude earthquake in an adobe house in Peru,

attending Mass in St. Peter's Square,

walking the grounds of Dachau, a former concentration camp in Germany,

visiting the Colosseum in Rome,

and watching an opera standing (not sitting) in Vienna's famous Opera House.

As I reminisced about our international trips over the past five years and compiled this list of memorable travel experiences, I was reminded of a journal entry I wrote in September 2007, while on an airplane en route to Peru.

Here's what I jotted down:

I love traveling.

It's such an escape from the everyday rigors of, traffic, endless errands, worries.

It's a time to dream; to ponder the possibilities of life.

When I'm traveling, the impossibilities suddenly seem possible.
I'm a glass half-full person, instead of glass half-empty person.

I'm alive.

I'm light.

I'm happy.

I'm reminded how large the world is, how many people inhabit it.
People of different races, cultures, upbringings, religions, mind frames.

I'm reminded how little I actually know about the world.

And how much more I can look forward to learning about it.

I'm grateful for all that I have.

I'm invigorated.

I'm eager to become a
better person when I travel: To learn another language, to make a difference in someone's life, to have mindful purpose.

While I had hoped to visit Europe again this summer, we simply don't have enough miles to do so during the upcoming peak travel season. (Yes, I know that's a bit *ironic* given the way in which this blog post started, but gone are the days when I worked on a year-round teaching schedule and we could travel in May and September.)

So instead, we've planned a road trip here in the U.S.A. I'm excited to see parts of Tennessee and North Carolina for the first time and visit family in Virginia.

And of course, along the way, check off a couple of items on my Life List.


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