Summing it all up
Sun 12 Jul 2015 - Tue 4 Aug 2015
I'm not sure how to wrap up this series of posts, or how to describe the entire 23 days in a simple "elevator speech." I can say for sure that, as much as I adore travelling, three weeks is always the point at which I need a break. I've noticed this before--whether I am away for school, away for work, away with my kids or without them, three weeks is when I always seem to reach that point of, "I think I could be done now." And right on cue, I reached that point the day before I left Europe. I was tired and footsore, and tired of being tired and footsore. I still had stars in my eyes ("Seriously? That's really Mount Vesuvius outside my window??") but I needed to rest. I wrote this on my last evening, even while Vesuvius quietly looked over my shoulder:
I am tired of sweat-stung eyes, sweat-slicked skin, and frizzy hair. My toes are hamburger. I am tired of being panhandled and hawked at. I am tired of washing my underwear in the sink. I am tired of having to work hard to make myself understood--although very tickled that my ability to learn a new language doesn't appear to be as dead as I had thought. I am tired of big cities--the grime that I always feel coated with, the unmistakable city-stench wafting up from underground, and the oppressive feeling of having nowhere to hide from all this humanity.
I need a break. I need consistent access to my computer or my journal, to get all of this sensory input into something coherent and meaningful; or at least someone to talk with about it. It’s been the trip of a lifetime, a life-changing experience, a dream come true, etc... all of the clichés apply here. But I am ready to be home now, at least for a little while.
I had intended to go on to note that everything I was "tired of" had nothing to do with where I was but everything to do with being in any city and with travelling in general; but I was exhausted. I just went to bed, and the next day was full of packing and leaving.
A "post mortem" should sum everything up and point out highlights, but how to choose? This entire series of post is an attempt to convey only highlights, because there is no way to express details. So much was left out, so many people I met and re-met that I didn't really mention here (because I don't like to talk about people publicly in personal venues), but they were all a part of this experience, all made an impact. But if I must pick and choose, here is today's list of highlights, which tends to focus on locations. Tomorrow's would be different, and next week's would be different still.
- Discovering Bavaria: Its beirgärten, its immortalized "sky," its palaces, its lovely people. Old friends and new ones. <3
- Salzburg: Mozart balls! And an amazing fortress.
- The Middle Rhine: Castles and vineyards everywhere you look. Ignored reminders of too many wars. Ancient pathways, over land and river.
- Berlin: Coming to understand how a city of such turmoil--things that happened within my own lifetime--comes to grip with things and carries on, turning turmoil to beauty and even laughter--and how this has to be done over and over again, because such is the meaning of being human.
- Rome: Perceiving, for just a moment, the meaning and impact of the Eternal City, almost physically, and knowing it is but a mere glimpse of her significance.
- Herculaneum and Pompei: Tasting the life of an "everyday Roman" and being awed that this is even possible, two thousand years later.
I have always been one to travel, whenever possible. This trip fulfilled many lifelong desires, and fueled many more. I want more! More of what I've seen--to take a deeper look, to show my sons--and more of what I haven't seen. More understanding of humanity and history and more of the feeling of awe and incredulity and belonging that comes with it. But first, I need to rest.