The end of the year is always a wonderful time for personal reflection. Were the past twelve months eventful or influential? Did I accomplish what I set out to achieve? And, most important, what is on the horizon for the new year? Here's a small look back at my past twelve months ...and what I'm looking forward to in 2011.
LONDON: Any opportunity to visit my favorite place in the world is a precious gift that I do not take for granted for even a moment. No matter how many times I visit this city, I always leave looking forward to the next return. I earned my eleventh and twelfth LHR stamps this year, and I can't wait to receive more!
TRAVEL: Though my travel plans didn't exactly go as I had hoped, it would be rather trite to be remiss about visiting nine countries in a single calendar year. My sister and I visited some of the world's greatest cities and had unforgettable adventures along the way. I know this trip is something that we'll both still be talking about when we're in our nineties.
UNUSUAL CHARACTERS: I met some rather strange folks on the travelin' road this year. There was "Nico Patterson's Mom" in Venice, a gregarious woman Laura and I kept bumping into all over the city. She told us stories about her unusual world travels (this woman had been everywhere) and how her son had Barack Obama as a professor at the University of Chicago. There was also "Jesus" in Bologna, a vagabond/ street beggar that Laura and I also kept bumping into all over town. He asked us for a euro at a festival in the piazza, and later that evening we saw him stumbling through the porticoes with a half-empty bottle of Sambucca. We both want to return to Bologna and look for him again. Oh, and there was the woman in Pula, Croatia whom we affectionately referred to as the "Accommodation Troll" because she solicited a room in her house to us as soon as we arrived at the bus station, not speaking a word of the local language and having absolutely no idea where we'd be staying. We declined her offer, though.
THAT VOLCANO: We began our travels in Iceland, but the volcano didn't really bother us until we were in Italy, trying to make our way north to Austria. Every train was booked solid for the next three weeks or more, due to the closure of nearly every major airport on the continent. Instead, we took a train to Udine, Italy where we waited all day to catch the only train to Salzburg. Around midnight that evening, one of the Tren Italia workers agreed to let us on the train without a ticket, provided we crouched in the hallway. We spent one of the longest nights of our lives in the cramped, smelly hallway. When two young Austrians boarded the train around 2 or 3 a.m., they remarked that the it smelled like a fish market. That was being kind.
REMEMBRANCE: We must always look forward, while never forgetting those who made the future possible. My father took my sister and I to visit the Ohio Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Canton. The memorial is a smaller version of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., but it is the largest free-standing wall in the country. I've been to the Wall in D.C., but I was even more moved upon seeing the memorial dedicated to the brave men and women from Ohio who gave all they had. My sister and I hope to have a brick dedicated to our father here.
NEW LIFE: My best friend and her husband welcomed Baby Jackson in February. He's one of the most precious babies I've ever met, and something tells me that he's going to have an insatiable desire to see the world, much like his parents. And, in November, my boyfriend's sister and new husband welcomed their first child, Baby Zachary. Brian became an uncle and his parents became joyful grandparents. I can't wait to watch as their lives unfold.
FUTURE PROMISES: I think 2011 is going to be a fantastic year. I'm optimistic that it will finally be the year I realize my goals and do what is most important to me.
"...I see your true colors shining through...I see your true colors, and that's why I love you...so, don't be afraid to let them show...your true colors...true colors...are beautiful like the rainbow..."
Stay tuned for more!
Happy New Year, Dear Readers!