I hate to set goals with deadlines for myself, I tend to miss deadlines, so by avoiding setting deadlines I can prevent the disappointment of not meeting them. Still, I broke my rule and set a goal to achieve by the time I was 30. I gave myself four years and I was on good pace and figured ‘what could be the harm.’
At the ripe ‘ole age of 26, I had planned to see six continents in my 30 years of life, already having been to 4 this seemed reasonable at the time. Well, last June I felt the failure of allowing my goal to pass me by. Travel is my favorite passion, I love to adventure and explore new places. Submerge myself in culture and balance historic, modern and natural sights in my visits. Traveling enriches my life and I feel more connected to myself and to the world at the same time.
In the last four years my passport didn’t earn another stamp and actually expired 2 months ago. A friend of mine heard of the expiration and said “I never thought I’d see the day you would not have a valid passport.”
Even as the months lead up to my birthday I imagined by some miracle I would find a way to swoop up some tickets and be able to travel to Africa and South America. Then as my 30th birthday came, I thought maybe the wording of the goal could change to include the year I am 30 and buy myself a 365 day extension. Oh well, I am better off without deadlines anyway. The journey is just as much about getting there, not where you are going. In the last four years I have had an amazing journey of getting married, earning a master’s degree, buying a house and having a daughter.
For now, I will have to settle my travel bug by reminiscing over journals, letters and photos of past trips. The following is an e-mail I sent home to friends and family while backpacking in Europe.
Right now I am writing to you from Venice, Italy. The canals and gondolas are just how I pictured them and better. I would love the city even more if it weren’t such a tourist attraction, but hey, I guess I am a tourist too. The only problem that I have encountered so far is that there are stairs everywhere on bridges going over the canals. Normally that wouldn’t be such a problem, however, our last stop was Interlaken, Switzerland where we strained every muscle in our bodies the last day which makes me ache like I am 105. I swear we got some strange looks as we moaned and groaned walking up and down stairs yesterday.
Interlaken, Switzerland was a beautiful break from the museums and city walking tours that we have encountered so far. It’s a small town up in the mountains between two lakes with adventure sports galore. We arrived there on the fourth of July and with a hostel full of American travelers we had a great time partying at a downstairs bar. There are bouncers at the door keeping people downstairs unless they are ready to go to bed because of strict Swiss laws about being quiet after 10:00pm.
On July 5th we woke up and started our outdoor adventures with paragliding over the town. The pilots were fun and sarcastic, we got to choose who we rode with and once I made my pick another pilot said “great it’s his first day.” The flight was about 20 minutes and I got to take my own camera to take pictures, I think I took about 50. After paragliding we walked around the town, the shops and houses are so cute with flowers everywhere.Walking back towards the hostel we ran into the Michigan travelers we met in Munich. It was hilarious talking to them about the beer tour we went on when we met them because they didn’t remember half of the night. We found out that one of the guys actually locked himself in their hotel bathroom and then freaked out when he couldn’t get out and broke down the door. He had to pay a big fine to fix it and then they all got kicked out, I am glad our night was not that crazy.
The Michigan guys told us about a live music venue below their hostel and we went there that night and had a blast. It turns out that the guy playing is from Florida and he came to Interlaken for 4 days and ended up staying the whole summer. He played Sublime, Oasis, Bob Marley and Maroon 5… So we went back the next two night as well.
On our second day in Interlaken we signed up for river rafting. When we got there we had to put on full wet suits and get a talk on the procedure for getting back into the boat once you fall out. Oh, did I mention that this was glacier water too?? Only 6 miles up the river the water was ice. I made the guide tell me what the chance were I would fall in. No one fell in and after a little while I calmed down a bit and enjoyed the scenery (when we could.) It was absolutely freezing though, I bought the pictures so I think I will be able to show everyone how blue my lips were.
Our third adventure, on day three, and the reason for my pain I can’t ignore today was canyoning down Grimsel. A lot of people told us that we should try it and that it’s a lot of fun. We signed up for it our first day but by the time the day came we weren’t so sure. The photos we saw looked like crazy stunts, one traveler told us its fun but we will get beat up and another guy at our hostel sprained his ankle in the canyon. There was a canyoning accident in 1999 where 19 tourists drown from a flash flood while canyoning. But anyways, that was just to brag about how extreme we are because we did it!! Canyoning was an awesome adventure, we started out by repelling down a 160 cliff to get to the canyon.
Then from there it was jumping off cliffs into pools (which were also freezing), sliding down rocks into pools, a zip line to drop into a pool and hiking up and down the canyon. At one point I came up to where a guide was sitting to show me how to do the next manuever, he told me to put my arm here, foot here and then swing my leg and jump to the side to slide down a slanted rock… It makes it more difficult to hesitate and think about it so I just did it. Then the next guide I came to told me to lay down on my stomach and go head first down a huge slide, also nuts but I did it! You really have to have a lot of trust in the guides, although they all seemed a little nuts they were really cool and got us all through it safely. My legs are killing me now!
Yesterday was a full day of train rides, I think it took us four trains to get here because I read 9:30 instead of 9:20 and missed the first train. Oops, we got here all the same, and found a hotel with our own bathroom in it. It’s such a nice change from our hostel in Switzerland with coed rooms and showers behind a curtain out in the hallway. Today I think we will just explore around the city and maybe go out to another island that specializes in glass blowing. I will write again soon.”