Today would have marked the first day of the 2021 Parkway Italy Trip and another round of great times and great experiences for both teachers and students. As a result, I have been feeling the loss of travel over the past year extra hard.
Thankfully, travel memories are some of the most vivid and memorable experiences in life, and I have been reminiscing about some of my favorite travel memories to help ease the loss. I even felt inspired to fill the void with a series of travel-related posts on this site, mainly to remind myself of all the reasons I love to travel, but also perhaps to inspire memories in others.
First up, I want to share a list of some of my top travel "moments." I wish I could give a scientific reason for why I chose these moments, but the best criteria I can give you are that they impacted me on a deep emotional, intellectual, or spiritual level. For some of these moments I have pictures, but many of them happened before the advent of digital photography. Hopefully I can paint the picture well enough to help recreate the experience. This is not a ranking; rather, I am presenting this list in chronological order throughout my life.
1. Riding the TGV high speed train between Paris and London
I could not tell you what age or grade I was when this happened, other than it was during elementary school, but I can describe for you exactly what I remember while staring out the window as the French countryside went speeding by at a velocity I only imagined in my toy train sets. I tried following the trees as we sped by, but it quickly became impossible. I could also tell you how much smoother the ride was in France compared to the terrible rails once we arrived in England (that one is for my French friends). For a young boy, who was as much into trains as most young boys are, the experience of riding the fastest train in the world at the time was as close to dreams coming true as I could imagine at the time.
2. Spider shower in rural Mexico
The summer before entering 7th grade I attended a mission trip to a small church camp in the desert outside Juarez, Mexico. The goal of the trip was to do some construction work on some new buildings at the camp. I think we worked for a total of 3 days at the camp and slept in sleeping bags on the floor of a small church nearby. The moment that is seared into my memory, however, is the first night we had to use the showers at the church. I was filthy from a day's worth of dust and sweat, but I refused to enter that shower. There was no curtain, a bucket of water, dribbles instead of a stream, and spiders crawling out of the shower head. My mom was one of the chaperones on the trip, and if not for her forcing me while holding a towel up as a shower curtain, I would never have stepped foot in there. In short, this was the first time I experienced culture shock, and at my age it profoundly impacted me, so much so that I almost refused to ever take a trip like that again. While not a flowers and sunshine kind of moment, I do not know whether I would be the same person I am today without the cultural experiences from this trip.
3. Mycenae and the Iliad
In college I had the privileged experience of spending two weeks in Italy and Greece for class credit. At the time, I was also starting to get into Greek and Roman history even more and decided it was time to read the Iliad in full. I took my copy on the trip for the long bus rides and spent my free moments eating up the Iliad for the first time. On one of these bus rides to the site of ancient Mycenae I was engaged in reading the Iliad when I looked up and there in front of me was the Lion's Gate at the entrance to Mycenae. It was one of those moments where people say that the pages come to life. The characters I was reading about were suddenly real to me in a tangible way. I often credit that moment to my life taking a turn to pursuing Greek and Roman culture as a career.
4. Sunset dinner on Mykonos
In one of those classic romantic honeymoon kind of stories, one of the highlights of our honeymoon in Greece was a sunset dinner right on the water on the island of Mykonos. Fresh seafood, live musicians, a sunset over the Aegean Sea, and the romance of a honeymoon all came together for a fantastic travel moment. There were definitely a lot of moments on this trip, but this dinner lives in my memory as a moment of beauty, love, and joy. Also, when else can you get away with wearing linen pants....
5. Hiking Machu Picchu
Our family trip to Peru in 2012 is one of the highlights of my life, but we can save more on that for a future post. For this post, there are very few travel moments that beat sitting at the top of Machu Picchu and taking in the amazing view with my favorite person. Also, what a perfect excuse to bust out my Indiana Jones garb! I felt every bit the part as I traipsed around the ruins. The beauty, historical significance, and amazing location of Machu Picchu all came together for an unforgettable moment. Highlight of my life for sure!
Coming soon: Top Places I have visited!
I love my family and this is the place to find all of the adventures we experience.