Friday, September 25, 2009

Plans in motion

I now have: plane tickets, a 22" rolling backpack (affectionately called "my companion"), passport in hand, and a rough idea of destinations.  I leave the U.S. on Monday, October 5 (10 short days away).  I will arrive in Amsterdam on Tuesday morning, and then 16 days later, leave Venice on October 22 heading home.  I will most likely start chemo (for five months) the following Monday.

I have some distant cousins in southern Italy (near Pompeii, which is another place I'd love to see) so am contemplating heading down there to meet them, but I'm not sure I'd have the time.  It would mean giving up another city -- perhaps Milan.  Plus, they don't speak English, and I don't speak Italian, so they might wonder who the crazy American knocking on their door is.  So... who knows... maybe I'll end up there. 

I am trying to make lists of the "must do" items for each city.  I don't have a lot yet, but so far: 
Amsterdam:  Van Gogh museum; Anne Frank house
Paris:  Louvre; Picasso museum; some huge flea market I forgot the name of; possibly Jim Morrison's grave
That's all so far.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

OK, so I get this email from the government...

and they tell me my passport is in the mail to me ALREADY! Holy crap! If only other areas of the government were so efficient! I will be booking my flight tomorrow, so really need to decide on arrival/departure cities. At this point the itinerary looks like this:
  • Arrive in Amsterdam
  • Paris
  • Nice
  • Cinque Terre (Italy)
  • Florence
  • Milan
  • Venice (will leave for home from either Milan or Venice)
I am excited, and a bit anxious.  Slightly apprehensive even, but that's a good thing.  This is definitely a way to shake things up a bit and remind me that there is a lot more to the world than my tiny corner, and that there's a very limited amount of time to explore it.  A woman whom I very much respect and admire quoted this to me:  "Comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort."  I love that!  It's become the theme of my trip, and these are the words I will repeat to myself when I am in a foreign country, alone, not able to speak a word of the language or read anything, and am not sure what my next step should be.  I am hoping it will change my state from panic to enjoyment.

I think everyone with cancer and the like gets to the point where priorities shift.  In my case the importance of not creating/having outstanding debt, and work being number one priority has shifted to a desire to explore and experience what I can while I'm here, and the realization that life, love, and family trump everything.  I've decided to spend more time taking things in, and less time letting everything rush past me.

This week, I challenge you to do something you wouldn't normally.  Explore something you'd normally not notice.  Something as simple as walking into a building or store that you've never been in, or have been meaning to go to, or are even the slightest bit curious about.  Sign up for a class you've always wanted to take.  Call someone you've been out of touch with.  Use the good china to have hot dogs for dinner.  Pick one thing from your "someday" list and do it now! 

That's all for now.  Be sure to "follow" my blog.  I am trying to find a way for followers to get email notifications of new posts, but have yet to find it, so check back or email me if you want me to add you to the notification list.  I love you all.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Planning continues, and why

I'm overwhelmed with information and questions about Europe, so have resigned myself to accepting that for most of this trip, I will just "wing it."  I've also decided to exchange the huge city of London for more relaxing French or Italian countryside.  I am considering Nice, and am strongly leaning towards a few days in Cinque Terre, thanks to a suggestion from a friend at work. 

I am still having a hard time choosing (or narrowing down) my destination choices.  The list of wants is too long for the 2 weeks I have.  Currently being considered are:
  • Amsterdam - would love to see the Van Gogh museum, and Anne Frank's house
  • Paris - This one is definite
  • Nice
  • Cinque Terre
  • Florence
  • Milan
  • Venice (most likely will be leaving out of Venice, since the flights seem cheapest that way)
  • Rome (although a "must see" according to everyone, this is actually a bit low on my list)
  • Pompeii (this one is out of the way, but super cool)
Leave feedback/comments/suggestions/advice/criticisms about this list please!!!! 

Lastly, everyone keeps asking why I am going alone, on short notice, with little money, and with barely no luggage.  Here are my reasons:

First, I have always wanted to go to Europe - dreamed of seeing the Louvre, had interest in the culture, and longed to experience the atmosphere.  I had begun planning to go a few years ago with Joss, but it never panned out, or more accurately, I never made it happen.  I realized very recently, that if I don't actually do it, it will never come on its own, and that once I start chemo (which I am overdue for) that would block out an entire year that I could not do much travelling.  Then after that, who knows if I'll be able to go, or if I'll even be around (though I'm sure I will.  Almost.)  My Mother had always wanted to go to Italy, and her "one day" never came.  I hate that!!!!  (I REALLY fu**ing hate that!) So, with these thoughts, I realized how much world I've not seen, and decided to experience all that I can, while I can.  And what better way to kick it off than Europe! 

The rush in going (hopefully in 3 weeks) is because I have already delayed chemo, and need to get started on it asap. 

Although some of the aspects of the trip (going alone, with little money, little luggage, and almost no reservations - at least the hotel/travel kind) were initally forced; I have little choice about them.   As I started researching and reading, though, these parts of the trip became more and more exciting to me.  I'm looking at this as more of an adventure/journey than a vacation.   One article that really inspired me was this one.

So, there's the story of one of my recent journeys (journey through cancer, journey through Europe, and friday night's Journey concert!  Rock on!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I sCrEam You sCREAM

Isn't this stupid?  I saw it driving down the road the other day.  It's an ice cream cone. 

Monday, September 14, 2009

Screw surgery... I'm going to Europe!

I am busy planning my European trip.  I have tons to do in the next month:  plan an itinerary, get a flight, decide where to go (these are obviously not in order), decide what to pack, learn what I need to know, and research, research, research.

I have decided to put off  my ostomy reversal until after chemo.  It was planned for tomorrow, and I decided last Friday that I would postpone it, go to Europe, have chemo, and then do the reversal (it was a busy Friday).  Putting it off for now is going to make my travels possible, and my chemo a lot easier.

The trip plans so far consist of:  a thought, an expedited passport application, a purchase of travel books, one backpack (courtesy of Microsoft Tech-Ed), a blessing from work, a home equity loan (this scares the crap out of me!!), and a list of potential destinations.  My plan is to fly into one country, with just what fits in one backpack (and perhaps a hotel reservation for just that first night), and then fly out of another country 2 weeks later.  The two weeks in between will either be an amazing adventure through Europe, or a nightmare of me alone, feeling lost, overwhelmed, stranded, and happy that I have a credit card.  I'm aiming for the first.  Either way, I am assuming this will be a life-changing experience. 

Here are some of the reactions I got from people when I told them about the trip:
   When stating I would be going alone:  "too bad you can't take someone" "maybe you will meet someone" "you're going ALONE?"

 When admitting that I am not making any specific plans or reservations, and am taking only one backpack:  "huh?" "why?" "are you sure you wanna do that?" "you should at least know where you are going and when, and where you will be staying" (this last one kinda confused me.)

Of course there were a couple of people who thought the whole idea sounded exciting and amazingly fun.

Regardless, this is what I am doing, and my next entry will tell why.  (Right now I have to get back to planning), 

My hope is to post daily blogs while there, with pictures and experiences of the day, so be sure to subscribe, or "follow", or whatever they call it here.  I'll try to keep it interesting. although the entries leading up to the trip will surely be somewhat boring.  Like this one.

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