Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Travel Nutshell

Imagine boarding an airplane and discovering, upon reaching your seat, that the person next to you takes up his entire seat and half of yours. Then imagine being re-routed from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh because of foul weather and to re-fuel. Then imagine landing in Philadelphia 30 minutes after your connecting flight to Zurich has left the runway. Then imagine adjusting your flights with the US Airways Customer Service rep, only to board your flight to London and sit on the runway for an hour. Then landing at Heathrow 45 minutes before your flight to Geneva takes off, finding you have to go through customs and security again because you're an international traveler. Then imagine running on to your connecting flight as Swiss Air closes the jet door right behind you. Then when you arrive in Geneva, your bag is nowhere to be found and neither is the wi-fi you were depending on to find out where to meet your friends. 

And you'll have a perfect picture of our first 24 hours on the road.

Or...of our entire trip, start to finish. I wish I could tell you it was fantastic, phenomenal, utterly inspiring and I'll never be content to stay home again. But I can't. Travel challenged and stretched us way beyond what we asked for. I was hoping for posts and posts worth of stories to tell, but what really stood out is what we learned from it all. We learned more about ourselves, each other, and how to make the best of things than we learned about any culture or language. And for that, it was worth it. 

I learned that when you're wondering whether or not to hold your tongue, hold it. I also learned that European bus drivers won't wait for you, even when you're ten yards away and running. Run faster. And don't plan a rigid itinerary that will be ruined if you miss the bus (we had a very loose itinerary and still had to run. A lot.). I learned that people are still people no matter where you go. I learned that a government has a whole lot more to do with the personality of a nation than I realized, and it made me love my home in America and made me want to fight for it.

I could tell you stories about our boat ride across Lake Luzern, swimming in a cold mountain lake in Interlaken, biking 26 miles roundtrip to find some old Scottish castle ruins and to climb the famous boulders at Dumbarton. I could tell you about the one time Jonny and I had a fight. Or I could tell you about my first meal in Scotland, when I tried to sqeeze a little lemon on my fish and chips, and instead of landing on my fish, the lemon juice hit the lady's face at the table next to me...and at the table next to her...and at the table behind them. Yes. Even the lemons in Scotland are feisty. But those weren't the real highlights of our travels. 

Despite all the mishaps, we will look back on our time together with a lot of joy. It was a sweet time. I was amazed at the sense of peace I had when everything went wrong, again and again. God was there with us, and every day He gave us reminders of His presence. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, "It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." And that's true even when I'm lost in a tiny French village just outside Geneva, when nobody but Jonny knows where I am. 

My next few posts will be pictures and/or videos of our journey. We saw some beautiful things and they're worth looking at. And Jonny is blogging his adventures over HERE!! Check it out. 

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