Thursday, May 23, 2013

And so it begins...

That's me in 1963...I was 7 years old, embarking on a great adventure.  Sure it was fun at the time, but I appreciate it so much more now!  My Opa was a professor at Cal, taking a 6 week sabbatical in France.  He and Oma took me on a wonderful trip across the Atlantic Ocean to Paris!  We moved into our home away from home, L'Hotel Tocqueville.
I learned a lot that summer; how to eat snails, how to drink a touch of red wine in my water (like the French children!), how to order "steak frites", I practiced my multiplication tables so I would be ready for 3rd grade when we returned (totally against my Oma was a VERY strong woman!),  I learned to swim at the local "piscine", and I learned to jump rope with a red and blue jump rope purchased in the Jardin du Luxembourg. These are the things I was excited to share with my friends when I got home.  But the most important thing I learned was not apparent to me at the time.  In fact I don't think I fully understood the most important lesson until 2000 when we took our own children to Europe for the first see, it was back when I was just 7 years old, traveling in a foreign country, that I learned the magic of travel!  I learned to do my research and realized that the more you know about a place, the more you will enjoy it.  Back in that summer of 1963, every evening, we would plan our activities the next day.  We would look at the map together, read the guidebooks, plan our Metro route...and the next day we would hit the ground running!  (Of course my grand parents did most of the planning - I was too busy jumping rope...but I was right there while they went through this evening ritual before dinner.  I learned by osmosis.
As Rick Steves says: "Thoughtful travel engages us with the world.  By broadening perspectives, travel teaches us new ways to measure quality of life."  I think my Oma and Opa were way ahead of Rick Steves with this concept...and I thank them for sharing that important lesson with me!