What is the best way to come out of your comfort zone? Travel. What is the best way to grow in that zone? Travel to Europe, of course!!
The boy and I did just that. Our recent trip to Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris that we lived after months of planning still seems like a dream. Need I a hard pinch. I dare say yes!
For my son this vacation was a first in many ways - first international trip and first set of stamps on his passport! For me, that childhood imagination of experiencing Europe - the thrill of looking up at a clear blue European sky, gaping at centuries-old charming buildings, people-watching in a busy square with not a care about time - was not for naught. That imagination transformed to reality!
We struck a balance between the tourist and traveller extremes. One main attraction a day and loads of walking trips to explore the cities like a local were our chant from the word go. With visa, tickets and Airbnb accommodation out of our way, the most boring bit of planning an itinerary actually turned out to have a positive side effect, that of stoking our excitement! We relied heavily on travel blogs and Rick Steves resources to plan our trip. Being vegetarians, we were surprised to discover many vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurants in Amsterdam and Paris. Brussels, not quite.
There were too many wow moments in our trip. Some stand out.
No school-level Geography lessons ever prepared me for unequal nights and day as a trip to Europe in the summer did. It took me this trip to understand why so many Airbnb listings boast of black-out curtains!!
Watching cyclists go by at the end of a working day - simply out of this world!!
Seeing progress in every nook and cranny of Amsterdam and knowing what it means to rebuild from ashes - immense respect!
Understanding that English is just a language and not something to be proud about - thank you for that humbling lesson, Brussels.
Experiencing the Belgian pride in comics taught us why it is important to laugh at oneself!
Looking up at the towers of Notre Dame Cathedral and watching the clouds drift past - serene!
Standing at the edge of an island on the Seine - beautiful!
Sampling a melt-in-the-mouth éclair - foodgasmic!
Looking down from the dome of Sacre Coeur Basilica - feeling immense gratitude for how much we have!
What disappointed us? Just a few that I can count off using fingers on one hand.
I amsterdam sign - why?! Seriously?!
Paris, save paper! Use disposable carnet card for visitors instead of book of 10 t+ tickets.
This travel article is a way for me to keep our memories of Europe alive and more tangible. Also, a reminder that our perspectives about people and life in general have been enriched!!
For both of us, this vacation drove us to the point of saying we were ready to go home. We were truly satiated, truly content! Thank you for being so amazing, Europe. À bientôt