Thursday, June 7, 2012

30 of 30: On The Big Eurotrip and Turning 30

They say – “Start with the end in mind”… Well, “They”, whoever “they” are, should be proud of me, because that’s exactly what I did. I always knew that I was going to end this project with a big trip… A big finish. An ultimate travel escapade as the final ‘activity’ for the 30 by 30 project, just in time for my 30th birthday.

I always made it a point to do ‘something I’ve never done before’ on my birthday. It was just another way for me to look forward to getting ---- wiser. Not necessarily older, but wiser. 

But turning 30, with it being a milestone, I had to up the ante. It HAD to be bigger and even MORE special. And so the 30th birthday European extravaganza came to place.
I had to visit places I’ve never visited before…
Prague and Austria were two countries that were always on my “to-go” list, so the original plan was to go to those two places. But then I figured, I can’t go to Europe without visiting my friends in the UK… that would be silly! So I added London and Cardiff into the mix.
Then I realized, to get to Austria from London, I’d have to pass by Paris anyway… And even if I’ve been to Paris before, I always felt like I never got to experience the real Paris… I never sat in a café or ate a baguette… Never just took my time to take in the beauty… Plus I had just seen “Midnight in Paris” and it amped up my desire to go back… So I figured – WHY NOT?
At this point, I had already gotten my friend, K’s commitment to come with me on this awesome trip… And she had suggested that on the way from France to Austria, why not stop by Zurich and meet up with her friends there? We’d have a place to crash, and I hadn’t been there either, so --- WHY NOT?

And so it was that the Itinerary for my birthday Eurotrip was arranged.

Starting in London, then taking the train to Paris, then a quick stop to Strasbourg, and spend the night in Colmar, then take a train to Zurich, then up to Salzburg, then Vienna, then a train to Prague, and finally, a plane ride back to London, where I would celebrate my actual 30th birthday on March 25.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about the trip… But here are the snippets:

March 11: K and I arrived in London within minutes of each other. We then proceeded to L’s flat where we would be staying for the next couple days.

March 12: K and I took a little day trip to Bath, to meet up with A (Mom) and K (Dad) with little Tristan and Trinity in tow! This would be our first time meeting Tristan, and we nearly ate him!

March 13 – 15: Paris days! K and I did everything! Walked around, spoke French, drank café’s in Café’s, smoked like Parisians did, ate macarons, met up with old flames (K did, not me.), spoke to strangers, made new friends, visited Versailles, just soaked up the beauty! We had a marvelous time!

March 15 – We took a train to Strasbourg and spent a few hours there. Strasbourg is a lovely city in the Alsace region of Eastern France. Our destination was actually Colmar, but since Strasbourg was on the way – WHY NOT? My French co-worker suggested I stop by. She said it was beautiful and I shouldn’t miss it… So we went, we saw, and we liked!

March 15 – 16 – We arrived in Colmar that evening and checked into the quaint little hotel where we were spending the night. I’ve read about Colmar from one of those travel websites, describing it as a “Fairytale-like city”, and the photos looked toooo beautiful, and I’ve become obsessed in visiting that place ever since. It definitely was/is as cute as I had expected. It’s really charming and hardly anybody spoke English, so my French skillz were put to the test. It was really small though so we ended up leaving for Zurich sooner than planned, but I would definitely go back during the spring to see the flowers in full bloom.

March 16 – 18 – We took a train to Zurich, and were met by K’s future hubby, A. (Apparently, a few years ago, they made a pact to marry each other when K turned 35. “Just 2 more years,” A happily reminded K) Zurich was fun. We met so many new friends, hung out and chilled with everyone… It was just nice to be around so much warmth and friendly people.

March 18 – 19 – Salzburg, Austria. The Sound of Music Tour! A Little Night of Music with H and S! If you’re one of the handful of people who read my blog, you’ll know all about this.

March 19 – 20 – Vienna, Austria. We walked around, saw all these museums (just the outside), took in all the beauty, and went to see an orchestra playing Mozart songs! 

March 20 – 23 – Prague. Glorious Prague. Could any other city be possibly be any more beautiful? I saw Prague and I was conflicted. I felt like I was cheating on Scotland! Scotland who occupied the top spot in my heart, till I saw Prague. Now it’s split in two! All I can say is that it was PERFECT that we ended our Eurotrip here, because every other city would have paled in comparison. Beautiful.

March 24 – Back to London for the big “Salubong” of my birthday! My dearest friends took me to dinner in Bogayo and drinks in Strongroom. Miss A prepared a freakin AMAZING video presentation that she compiled from my friends and family from all over the world and I LOVE LOVE LOVED it. THANKS A!
And so we ate, we drank, and we were all merry. Had a great time spending that night with the people closest to my heart after just having seen the most beautiful places on Earth --- I seriously could not have asked for more.

March 25 – I turned 30, and couldn’t be happier.
                        Oh. And I saw The Hunger Games in the cinema. :)

During my planning stages, and even during the trip, K and I were always faced with situations where we could have asked ourselves “WHY?” but instead asked, “Why not?”
It seemed to be a recurring theme in this trip – or even in this project!

“Why Not?” opened ourselves up to a whole world of different possibilities. It led us to new places, to meet new friends, and experience things we never would have dreamed of.
And in so many ways, I’m very lucky too, to have found a travel partner in K. Mark Twain once said – “ I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – And he couldn’t be more accurate.
I’ve traveled with friends before and ended up NOT being friends with them afterwards. But K and I have passed the test!
I mean sure we both have our own quirks… I have a tendency to get mean and moody when I’m hungry or tired, and she has the tendency to sing the same songs over and over and over while skipping and twirling (which is cute the first few times, but will make you want to pull your hair out after the 89th time)… We’re delightful humans, but we ain’t perfect.
The point is, even after all that, at the end of the day, we still love each other and both can’t wait till our next adventure -- which we started planning before this one even began!
I love you, Shiny Happy K!

And as for you guys… I don’t know what your situation is, but if there’s an opportunity for you to go somewhere different… Either by foot, by road, by sea or by plane… Make it happen! There’s so much of the world to see, so much to learn from different people from different cultures, so much FOOD to eat, so much MUSIC to hear. The world is such a magical playground, and we were BORN to play. If an opportunity does NOT present itself, then get out there and do it yourself. Who says you have to wait for life to happen? I’d say live your life, and do it on purpose. And if anybody asks you why… turn around, flip your hair dramatically and say, “Why not?” ♥