A few weeks ago when I was cleaning off my bookshelf, I found my old travel journal - which had my first three trips abroad journaled in it. It was very entertaining for me to read. I posted a little snap of it because I wanted to write a blog post about it eventually, so here goes.
The first trip that I ever took was to Edinburgh, London, and Paris when I was 16 and it was an excursion that two teachers from my school organized each year over spring break with a company called ACIS. I started out this trip really wanting to go to Paris but actually didn’t enjoy Paris the first time I was there. Now I don’t know what was wrong with me because it IS my favorite city in the world even though there is a very close second place. The trip was very memorable for me because two of my very close high school friends were also on that trip and it was really fun to share that experience with them.
It was the first time I was free to do what I wanted without a chaperone for extended periods of time on any kind of vacation. Previous vacations had been with parents and to be quite honest, I do not envy those teachers, Dr. Renfroe and Mrs. Hall, and the fact that they had about 20 teenagers to shuttle around three different countries. That sounds absolutely terrifying to me right now and I’m not sure that those teachers were more than 10-15 years older than I am now when they chaperoned that trip.
I could summarize these trips, but since I’m 35 now that would be silly. So I will just say that I am so glad that I journaled at the end of every day and then wrote a bullet point list as we left each country with my favorite memories or things I noticed. It was really interesting to read what my 16 year old self thought of the world at that time. I was very young and naive in some ways, but also pretty wise and respectful of the world. This wisdom was more apparent in the other trips, when I was 20 and then 22, but at 16 I was pretty astute.
Some of my favorite parts of the trip that I wrote about:
- The fact that it was so much colder than it was in Florida when we were in Edinburgh and it snowed. It was the first time I’d seen snow falling in my life.
- Direct quote from my journal “so many people smoke and the men all have piercings, even the old ones, yuck!” That just makes me laugh so much now. Who cares? But it was the 1990′s.
- There was a South African rugby team staying in our hotel once we got to London. SHAME ON ME for not appreciating this back then. Now, I’d insert the heart eyes emoji. It kind of reminds me of a few years ago when the Montreal Canadiens were staying in our hotel (in Fort Lauderdale) while I was at a work event and three of us RAN DOWN an escalator to go and see them depart for the airport. Hello, handsome hockey players. This year we were in SW Florida and the NYC MLS team was there and that was equally as enjoyable. But enough of this subject.
- I mentioned that all of the smoking was the “only thing I found wrong with Europe” I think that still holds true but now I don’t care. Smoke if you want, to each their own!
- The fact that we were heartbroken when our friend (who was not an American citizen at the time - she is naturalized now, but she was born in Iran) had to go home before Paris because of some rules about checking passports and visas? I can’t even remember. Then no one checked our passports on the train in the Channel Tunnel, so poor Nassim could have probable slipped into the country.
- For some reason we were really frightened by a drunk man who was always in our Metro stop in Paris (St.Georges).
- We ate at some boring American chains, probably because I was too agreeable back then and perhaps a little scared of the language barrier but I never objected.
- I commented that “I will return before I’m 20!” and I did! June 4-18, 2001, I went to Dublin, London, and Paris. I like that I’m still making my 16 year old self’s travel dreams come true.