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Post Mortem

Summing it all up


View Europe 2015 on OhMissLia's travel map.

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

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  • Salzburg: Mozart balls! And an amazing fortress.

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  • The Middle Rhine: Castles and vineyards everywhere you look. Ignored reminders of too many wars. Ancient pathways, over land and river.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Herculaneum and Pompei: Tasting the life of an "everyday Roman" and being awed that this is even possible, two thousand years later.

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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.

Posted by OhMissLia 11:37 Archived in USA Tagged usa summer_2015 Comments (0)

Preparing for Europe

Hope this blog works while I'm gone!

This is it--the final week before heading out on my big adventure. I'll spend this week packing and prepping Kona for taking care of pets and house while I'm gone. Creating this blog is an important step--it will be used primarily to communicate with friends and family about my trip, but will also likely be used to satisfy some of the academic requirements of the German Literature and Culture course that I will be taking; which is, in fact, the reason for the entire trip.

At this point, I am not planning to take any electronic device with me, so actually contributing to this blog will be a challenge. I will have my phone--an ancient Android that takes horrible photos and whose battery dies easily. I won't be able to use it as a phone, but if I can connect to wifi, I may be able to get on Facebook, Skype, or hopefully this blog. I will have a decent camera--great for photos, but horrible for my neck, and I can't type on it or connect to the internet, so it won't help me there. My goal is to find an internet cafe at each location, where I can upload and post. While in Germany, the academic requirement is to write a short reflection of each day... if I can get to an internet cafe, I will post it here. If I cannot, I will write it manually.

ITINERARY

12 July: depart from Vancouver, BC, Canada
Ten and a half hours. Ugh.

13 July: arrive in Munich, Germany
While in Munich, I will be staying with my childhood friend Mark and his lovely wife Laura, whom I am very excited to finally meet. We'll traipse around the city, visit the Dachau concentration camp, and nearby castles, including Neuschwannstein.

17 July: arrive in Essen, Germany
Essen is the location of University of Duisburg-Essen, partner university to Fort Hays State University in Hays, KS, where I am completing my MA in English. I'll be taking a 2-week course in German Literature and Culture. During these two weeks, we will be taking many day trips to learn about other German locations. These day trips are loosely scheduled, and may change according to various circumstances. As it stands now, this is the schedule:

First week: explore Bonn, Koln (Cologne), Dusseldorf, Aachen
24-26 July: travel to Berlin and spend the weekend there
Second week: explore Amsterdam (hopefully)
30 July: final day of class in Essen

31 July: arrive in Rome, Italy
I will fly from Dusseldorf into Rome, and check into a small flat close to the Colosseum. I'll spend the rest of the day visiting the ancient sites.

1 August: Vatican and the Heart of Rome
I have a morning Scavi tour scheduled at the Vatican. Since the Museums/Sistine Chapel do not open before then, I will have to wait until after the tour to see them--ugh. On a Saturday, in August, it's going to be crowded and hot, but I can't do anything about the timing. I should finish with the Vatican in the afternoon. After a brief rest, I will spend the evening doing Rick Steves' "Heart of Rome" walk: the Trevi Fountain (cross your fingers that the restoration is finished by then!), the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, etc.

2 August: Naples
I will catch a morning train from Rome to Naples, and spend the afternoon exploring the incredible Naples Archaeological Museum, home of most of the artifacts from Pompei and many other treasures. Afterward, I will do as much of Rick Steves' Naples Walk as I feel up to, then retire to my hotel room fairly early. I anticipate being exhausted and needing a rest, and Naples isn't really a place for me to be wandering alone at night.

3 August: Ercolano, Pompei, Sorrento
The morning brings another train, and I'll visit the ruins of Ercolano (Herculaneum) and Pompei before heading to Sorrento to stroll and relax and have dinner before catching a boat back to Naples for the night.

4 August: Naples to Munich to Vancouver to home
Travel day! Small plane Naples-Munich. Big plane Munich-Vancouver. Tram to downtown Vancouver. Bus Vancouver-Bellingham, WA (if I don't miss it; it's going to be close). Car from Bellingham-home.

Posted by OhMissLia 10:16 Archived in USA Tagged home Comments (2)

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