Tuesday, March 8, 2011

30 Days of Me: Day 8

Day 8 - A place you've traveled to
I’ve been extremely fortunate to have traveled extensively in my formative years. When we emigrated to the United States from Holland in 1962, we came via ship, on the Rotterdam. I have no memories of this voyage at all; I was a little over 2-1/2 years old. My first airplane trip was in 1966, when we went back to Holland. The only thing I remember is that it took forever: it was via Icelandic Air, which meant a 6-hour trip in a propjet from New York to Iceland, a two-hour layover, and another 6-hour flight from Iceland to Luxembourg. Twelve hours in the air!

In 1967 we spend the summer in the south of Spain, in a tiny seaside village called Torrevieja, on the Costa del Sol, just south of Alicante. I spent the first week of that vacation in bed with the mumps; I had developed symptoms the day before our departure, and my father made me wear a headscarf and keep my mouth shut. I’ve often wondered how many people I infected on that flight.

That trip was memorable to me mostly because my parents were largely absent; my father was starting a years-long study of hemp and flax workers in the rural textile factories, and he and my mother spent most of every day working in a lab. I was just seven years old; my sister was nine and my brother was ten. We were pretty much left to our own devices during the day; the wife of one my father’s colleagues was sort of expected to keep track of us. I ended up being “adopted” as a little sister by a group of Spanish college students – all male. They took me everywhere with them, even octopus fishing. I loved the attention! They even serenaded me one evening.

When I was nine, I spent a summer in a camp in the Netherlands, where I was totally miserable. I was so angry that I wasn't allowed to watch the coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing; the other kids were totally oblivious. I was crying in my bunk, worried about the astronauts, when a counselor came and whispered to me that they had landed safely on the moon.
I’ve taken a train trip along the Rhine river, where dinner was served by waiters in crisp white linen jackets, serving boiled new potatoes from silver platters.

Some other travel experiences:
  • Climbing partway up the Matterhorn (not very far, I’ll admit).
  • Visiting Monte Carlo (but was too young to go into the casinos, darn it).
  • Touring the Alhambra, overlooking the city of Granada, and seen a bullfight in Madrid.
  • Spending Christmas in Paris, where I was blessed by the Bishop of Paris.
  • Strolling the beaches of Nice, along the Mediterranean Sea, with its smooth rocks instead of sand.
  • Visiting England, where I stayed with my aunt in her flat in Hackney for two weeks, along with my 4- and 6-year-old.
  • Participating in the Big Ride Across America in 1998, during which I bicycled across the United States from Seattle to Washington, DC, and learned that Montana is ENORMOUS.
  • In 2000, taking an epic 6-week family journey around the country, without any real itinerary, going through 16 states. I learned that Texas is even MORE enormous than Montana.
Now, I’m pretty content to stay put. In recent years I’ve been to Toronto, Washington State, Oregon, Las Vegas, Atlanta and New York. I finally got to see the Pacific Ocean (thanks, Jim and Janet!). Travel just isn’t any fun for me anymore – too much of a hassle. The only trip I’d like to do someday is getting back to Holland and show Bob where I was born.


  1. "Touring the Alhambra, overlooking the city of Granada, and seen a bullfight in Madrid."

    I also toured the Alhambra, Granada, and saw a bullfight in Madrid at the age of 24 on my way home from service in the US Peace Corps. I remember this as one of the best experiences of my life! Travel is just wonderful ....

  2. I love traveling even though it is difficult for me as a disabled veteran. I still love to travel! Most of my tours in the military were in the Pacific. SE Asia, (Thailand, Taiwan) Japan, Okinawa, Korea, Luzon, Guam, Australia. As a child and adult I have either lived in or traveled to almost all of the lower 48 and Hawaii except WA and OR (WA is coming up soon) and the Upper New England states. I currently live in Idaho (which was one of the western states I hadn't ever visited) so drag my Dearly Beloved all over that state as I explore the state where he was raised.


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