, , , ,

Three days home. Travel brain is nearly gone and home-brain is working again. Mostly.

We have been away traveling for nearly six weeks. I was going to give you a heads up that I might not be writing and then, with no warning, I developed a nasty head cold a week out from departure. It did not go away before flying. This is not a good thing. If you have ever had to fly when your sinuses are in turmoil, you will know what I mean. In fact the cough and sinus stuff did not leave until three weeks into the trip. So, I was not feeling like writing much of anything and hope you understand.


Guggenheim exterior, Bilbao, Spain

Travel is a good thing. It is. But it is not among the easier undertakings one might pursue. When I say travel, I’m not talking about a vacation to the beach where you bask all day, between margaritas and naps. Our version of travel, while perhaps not arduous, does deplete one’s energy. We walk a lot, see a lot, process a lot of information. Therein lies the second physical challenge for this trip. Walking. I have had a sore foot for months. It gets better and then worse, then even worse still, which it did on the trip. ‘Plantar Fasciitis’ is a common problem for which there is not much known about either cause or cure. Some things work and some don’t. Sometimes it leaves and sometimes it doesn’t. I know because I had it 15 or so years ago and that is exactly what I experienced. The exercises the podiatrist gave me did not work, in fact made it worse. Stopping them, adding stretches of my own saw it go away in a couple of months. This time I’ve had it much longer, have tried both the previous methods of stretching, as well as nothing, had a couple of days of complete absence of symptoms but essentially nothing has fixed it. So I walked. In pain. For six weeks.

I dropped into bed every night of the trip, exhausted mentally and physically, but did actually manage to take in the experiences and enjoy it for the most part. Just not the pain.


Well’s Cathedral Musical Director practicing with musicians for a future performance.

And while we are at it, there are a few other things I will enjoy not dealing with for a while.

  1. having to forage for every meal based on food intolerances. This is not easy and I spent a good deal of the time being hungry. Yes, I lost weight.
  2. having a different shower to figure out with each and every change of accommodation…It is a fact, every hotel in the world has a different shower mechanism from every other hotel. Am sure there was a primordial agreement in the ethers that caused this to happen.
  3. soooo much processed food…if it says on the packet it is healthy for you, it isn’t. Generally, food that is good for you doesn’t come in packets. And while I’m thinking of it, not everything must be consumed on a waffle or wrapped in bread, piled on pasta or rice or have onion or garlic flavouring added.
  4. searching for a place to wash our clothes—I nearly kissed my washing machine when we returned home. What do other travellers do to clean their clothes? Hand washing is just not possible, most hotels and B&B’s don’t even allow it, and frankly, hand washing is not my idea of travel fun.
  5. crowds—I can hear the neighbour’s little dog yapping this morning, and even that is music to my ears compared to crowded, noisy places.
  6. the smell of cigarette smoke in front of every building on every street in every country.
  7. filthy toilets–having to lay toilet paper on the seat before I can sit down, because there are never paper seat covers in the toilets where they are needed, only the cleanest ones have them! Humans are filthy creatures at times.
  8. bad coffee—there are a lot of people who don’t realise you can have the best coffee machine but if the beans are bad, it won’t make good coffee. Likewise, stewing coffee or storing it in an urn is just ruining any chance that coffee has of being good.
  9. loud mouth people in airports, especially on their cell/mobile phones (don’t you know everyone around can hear you? and does not care about your employee problems??)
  10. crappy hairdryers–(my husband hypothesised, there must have been someone traveling just ahead of us putting the same bad hairdryer in each different hotel, or there had been an excellent sales pitch to sell the same inferior device to four different hotel chains!) I have a new shorn hair style and vow not to need a hairdryer for future travels.
  11. bad lighting in bathrooms—worst lighting prize went to two, otherwise nice, B&B’s, best lighting prize goes to the Sheraton at the Falls in Niagara Falls, with a magnification makeup/shaving mirror with it’s own lighting as well as a surround light for the large mirror. Bless them.
  12. filthy, smelly taxis—our daughter has promised to explain to us how to use UBER. Nuff said.
  13. and while I’m at it, taxi drivers who use their phones while driving (not to mention bus drivers who talk on their phone WHILE filling out paperwork, WHILE driving—please leave multitasking to people who are not driving, or walking down the street)
  14. High fructose corn syrup—my sworn enemy.

The foot is strapped and receiving regular ice packs. The mountain of laundry is done, repairs to the garden are nearly done. And there are murmurs…of future adventure…

What keeps me traveling? I’m glad you asked. The mechanics of it are tiring, frustrating and downright unpleasant at times. However…when things take my breath away, or a sudden connection of a piece of knowledge turns on a light inside me, or something unexpected brings me to tears, it feels all worthwhile. When I see Wells Cathedral and a lump sticks in my throat, when I am gobsmacked by the incredible Guggenheim at Bilbao, when a Spanish woman spins her grandson in dance to a Basque folk song, when the most powerful show of water I’ve ever seen tumbles and mesmerises so that I can hardly look away, or when I stop in an ancient cemetery and realise that the man in that grave signed the Declaration of Independence…that is when I know I’m not done yet.

It hurts so good…give me more.