We’ve recently passed the two-month mark. During that month we drove 2863 miles from Edinburgh to Konstanz. We stayed in a tilted townhouse, a luxury hotel, a houseboat, three apartments and a private home. In addition to driving all those many miles, we took the Eurotunnel auto train and three car ferries to get between waypoints. In the first month, we swam in the Aegean Sea. In this second month, we swam in the Baltic. (I still marvel at how improbable it is that I would ever swim in the Baltic sea, and yet, it totally happened.) Towards the end of this second month, we began a new phase of this trip - the staying put phase.
My sense of time has returned, but my sense of place has disappeared. I no longer have to check my phone to recall the date and day of the week, but I do get a twisted version of déjà vu in which I have to ask myself, “Wait, where am I?” For example, at lunch today we were eating Turkish food in an obviously European-style restaurant with the sounds of spoken German and American Jazz music filling the air. The view from the window included half-timber buildings, tile roofs and cobblestone streets, much like the view from every restaurant in Visby, Sweden. The weather was cold and rainy, like our July visit to the Kerry Way of Ireland. Yet, we were in Konstanz, Germany.
One of my favorite experiences of this second month was the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It is an incredible event - a month long - and I feel deeply grateful to have been present in that particular time and space. I couldn’t help but notice all of the love and passion and dreaming turned to action required to pull off each performance and connect with other people through art. I truly hope I can return for another EdFringe someday.
Another great experience was our super relaxing - luxuriously so, in fact - weekend in Amsterdam. It was luxurious not with fancy linens or gilded fixtures but more like the first bite of summer’s ripest peach. When I go back, I’ll make sure to visit the Anne Frank House, though. We’ve been listening to the audiobook of her diary on our long car rides. Although I had read it in middle school, I had forgotten many of the details of her experience and this “re-reading” holds new significance for me after spending a couple of days living on the same street where she and her family hid for almost two years.
Finally, I appreciate that we spent over two weeks in Sweden. It’s a big country, and we spent three full days in total traveling between our waypoints. Our accommodations in Stockholm and Visby had their quirks, which make for good stories. The variety of everything, from food to shops to activities to people in Stockholm made me very comfortable. One day, we walked several blocks from our apartment to the best burger joint we’ve found on this trip. As we passed other restaurants - a British-style pub here, a Greek restaurant there - I had a feeling of wistfulness for home, but in this case home was just an earlier stop on this trip and not actually my Maryland home. It seems all of my travel experiences are integrating into my identity and my psyche. Back when this trip was just a dream, even a pretty planned-out-with-tickets-booked dream, I thought of that type of integration as something I hoped for the girls to get out of this year. I didn’t really imagine how or even if it might happen to me, too. I’m glad it did.