We wrapped up our time in Europe with a visit to Duisburg, home of The German. His parents are super-nice, though its always a bit tough because they don’t speak English and I only know a little tourist German and he is perpetually exhausted from playing translator.
All in all it was a nice way to finish our European adventures – he got to visit his folks and collect some important mail, while I got a fix of his Mom’s excellent potato salad. Next is a stop in SF for 9 days to see all of our SF friends, eat as much Tacolicious as possible, and prep for the next phase of travel (which starts in Rwanda).
I can’t believe we’ve been on the road for 3 months already! Here are some (self-indulgent) observations about how its going:
I’m watching far less tv. I think this is mainly because I have more mental and physical energy for other things now that I’m not constantly working and commuting 3-4 hours per day. This doesn’t mean I didn’t see the full season of Game of Thrones (despite having to jump through some VPN hoops to my make HBO Now subscription work – the electronic distribution laws need a major overhaul.) And I still indulge in the odd Netflix binge when the weather is poor or I’m feeling lazy, but overall, I’m spending a lot less time watching tv.
We met fewer people than I expected… but we saw many more friends! Sure, we would chat with the odd person while we were in line for something, but we really didn’t meet very many new people. However, we saw far more friends than I expected! Between Apple colleagues, developers we met through Apple, friends who live abroad, or friends who happened to be on vacation abroad, we never went more than a couple days without seeing someone we knew. To get quality time with all these folks that I truly enjoy was really the best part of the trip so far.
I’m far less productive than I thought I’d be. All of those things I always said I’d do if I had more time? Still haven’t done them. (I haven’t even managed to make this blog look decent – sheesh!) Some of this is excusable – daily life takes a lot longer when you’re in a strange place and don’t speak the language. Things like grocery shopping can take hours instead of minutes. And I have a lot more travel planning to do on a regular basis. However, some of this lack of productivity is due to having fewer external forces committing me to things. And I’m sleeping too much. So I’m in the process of correcting this, starting with setting an alarm each day. (8 hours of sleep is plenty.) And I’m reading a lot more.
I don’t miss work but I do miss dancing. I really thought I’d miss all the activity and importance of work, or telling people that “I work for Apple”, but thankfully it seems that work doesn’t define me as much as I thought it did. It felt weird to watch the annual developer’s conference from the outside, and I still love discussing apps with people, but I am not feeling completely lost without having a job (which I was initially concerned about). What I really miss is dancing on a regular basis. It’s much harder to motivate to do Zumba on my own when I’m not prepping to teach a class. I have actually done some spontaneous bellydancing (in our AirBnB) and worked on a few new Zumba routines, but its less satisfying when I don’t have anyone to share it with. Starting with Berlin, I’ve made dance a priority and I’m going to do my best to make it happen regularly, even with language differences…
… which leads me to the next point:
I need to take more risks. The problem with my nature of constantly planning everything and having all of this technology at our disposal means we’re very comfortable – which is both good and bad. Yes, we have probably avoided some disgusting accommodation or regularly enjoyed decent meals, but it also means I’m not pushing myself to grow enough. This isn’t supposed to be a year-long relaxing vacation – I want to come away feeling like I really lived it. So I’m going to take dance classes even though I can’t understand what the instructor is saying. And I’m going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, despite my worries about altitude sickness and the fact that it involves camping. And basically I’m going to say “yes” all the time, even if I’m not sure if I’ll like something. If nothing else, I’ll have a funny story for you all.
I can’t believe people are actually reading this blog! I expected my family would (Hi Mom!), but quite frankly, I’m surprised that so many of my friends are reading it, let alone strangers! So thanks for all the encouragement – I’ll certainly do my best to keep it going.
Now we’re headed into an action-packed 9 days in SF to see all of my SF loved-ones, attend an epic wedding for two men I adore, and eat all of the things! Then we head to Africa, where it will certainly be very different…
6 thoughts on “Phase I: Complete!”
living in the moment – that to me is the gift of your travels – we all have different paths – i savor every moment of having raised my daughters and working – its our own path….YOU are living your path – it is awesome to share with you – thank you – enjoy every step – even when you are sleeping!
Hi Rach, yes, I’m reading it. I am so proud of you & so impressed with your courage, strength & intelligence. Enjoy every moment of it. (But call your mother-ha!)
Well Rachel and Stefan . I for one am really enjoying living the “travel around the world “dream without the hassle but sadly without the hands on .I am interested in the change you are going through regarding how you valued yourself as an unemployed person ,you seem to be getting to the point of life as opposed to the point of living and working ,I believe after being self employed and working for 50 years hard graft that what you are starting to appreciate now is getting close to freedom the freedom that I am now living .To get up in the morning and do what you want and not what you are supposed to do is truly liberating .On another note I had a young friend who took the train from Budapest to Peking on the trans-siberian railway ,a trip that not too many years ago was 10 pounds! anyway he said that once he left the beaten track it was hard to spend more than a pound on a meal and that it was mostly vegetables but the traveling with the people and animals was the best memories from his three months .Just a thought if you are really trying to push yourself
I found these for a laugh :-
It is down the left side
If it doesn’t show you want Saturday the 12 Jan 1985
Keep ’em coming and good luck
This is my very favorite post on your travel blog so far, Rachel. I love reading your thoughts, what you’ve learned, where you’ve pushed yourself and where you find it hard pushing yourself… I love you extra for all this, for taking basically an empty space of time and making it into a period of growth and discovery and enrichment, consciously.
Also I miss the hell out of you so get your ass to SF pronto and we’ll talk more. 🙂
Rachel — I’m just getting caught up on your posts — which are fantastic and insightful (as I expected) — and I really enjoyed this one too! I am excited to hear all about your Kilimanjaro adventure — and will be sending you my best wishes for strength and stamina during the climb (and I hear you on the camping too, haha!). My own trip there is postponed for awhile (knee injury), so I’ll be living it vicariously through you! Good luck! XOX
Thanks KK! I’m really looking forward to having Kilimanjaro behind me. 🙂