We did it or we made it. However you want to put it we went around the world and we are back home in five whole pieces. We left Bucharest on Sunday afternoon, in the end of January. A short flight to Vienna, a change of planes to Berlin. A little adventure, I booked a hotel at the wrong airport, I realized at the last moment thanks to Ina. Overnight in Berlin, a short encounter with our friend in the hallway of the airport and we got on our last flight. At JFK we got a car and drove a couple of hours toward our house. We left the children to spend the night with a friend in New Jersey and we spend the last night in a hotel. Tuesday morning we drove a few more hours, stopped at Sam's club and Aldi for groceries. We spent $500 on supplies, for the first time in ages we didn't have to calculate how much we needed to buy, we just got everything that we could think of to resupply our pantry and fill our fridge. In the afternoon, we did the last few miles toward our house. It was epic. Unplanned, Louis Armstrong started to sing on the car stereo "What a Wonderful World". We did the last few miles singing and naming all the landmarks that we've learned so well on our way home. When we entered the house there was a lot of screaming and jumping. It took a few minutes of going through the house to recognize our home. In the evening friends joined us for pizza and champagne. It was epic. We did it, or we made it, however you want to put it, we went around the world!
|At the airport in Berlin, AirBerlin carousel|
|Hotel Bärlin in Berlin, just a big cheap room and one short night|
|Winter in Berlin from the hotel|
|This is our hotel 50 years ago behind JFK's limousine|
|Berlin Airport, last flight, last signage for New York|
|On arrival at JFK the welcome sign has Romanian as the top language!|
Nice touch - thank you!
|Done, we're in. No more passports necessary.|
|Above our rented car, the rest area has a sign to welcome us to New York State|
|Home. The planning board stayed just as it was 465 days ago.|
|Our friends left their map, flowers and another welcome back sign! Thank you!|
It all started a long time ago with the thought that if others could do this, we can do it as well. Later it evolved into a strange feeling that we have to do it, we owe it to ourselves and to our children. By the time we left we felt that it is not such a big deal and any family who wants it can go around the world with their children. More than a year later, as we approached the end of our trip we realized that what we were doing was extraordinary. Extraordinary as in out of the ordinary but also exceptional.
Is not just about numbers. We visited so many places and we walked so many miles. It's the incredible fact that we planned for the best case scenario and we made it happen. We were prepared for the possibility that we might not last this long, but we hit all our targets and we did everything we dreamed of in a special way. With the exception of Cape Town, we reached all our destinations at the best possible time of the year and in all cases at the best time of the day!!! The only place that was on our list and we did not go to is Petra, in Jordan. We were close, in November in Sinai and we peacefully decided against it. The financials and the political situation were against it and we had to leave something for another time. As we were approaching the end of the trip we were exhausted. Maybe not that much physical exhaustion, maybe a mental one. Simply listing the places that we've seen would make somebody space out. Most of our families and friends lost track of us at one point or another and some of them got exhausted by just following us on the map. Once I caught a very close relative who had no idea on what continent we were and I'm sure he's just the unlucky one.
I would not advice anybody to try what we did. Do your own thing and follow your own interests. Definitely fly less and visit fewer destinations for a shorter or a much longer period. Our pace and our rhythm was exceptional and looking back I can argue that is not possible to do what we did. The only counter argument is that we did it. There is a small club of families who travelled the world and probably a few that are doing it right now. What they did seemed simple when I read about it and now I know how special they are. Maybe we did travel longer, spent more, seen more, or maybe not, it does not matter. They are all extraordinary. As you plan and execute your own trip, what you'll do will also become extraordinary.
Did we see too much? I don't think so. We had this one chance and we made the most of it. We could have gone slower and shorten our list of destinations, we could have stayed for a shorter time. We have good reasons for why we did what we did. Like I said, we didn't start by planning to do something great, it just happened. We are the main beneficiaries, so there is no point in bragging about it. We were lucky, we were smart and we were well prepared. We never fought or argued, never questioned ourselves and never worried. We stayed healthy. Ioan had a cold every other day, but he took it in stride and never complained. The rest of us fared much better. On my part, the last day that I was under the weather was in Lhasa in November 2011. Ileana Ruxandra had a serious cold in Xi'an, we had to go to the hospital, the girls had some occasional colds but we never had something serious. Our stuff held on. In the last few weeks we had more and more problems with the cameras. In Madagascar, Maria's shoes were stollen. Besides this, and a lot of holes in the T-shirts, everything else worked out really well.
On the list of our extraordinary accomplishments I could also put this blog. With more than 260 posts, half a million words and more than 6000 pictures it is much more than one can handle. Despite the clean interface and the easy navigation options, most readers cannot find their way around, they read a post or two and go by their business. It is in part by design. Blogs are for the moment, only the last post matters and it stays on top. To start at the beginning it's generally inconvenient and hard to navigate. There is a science behind building a successful blog. Not only that I didn't look for that, but I avoided the general recipes and kept a low profile, this is for us and for you. Even if most of our friends and family members didn't read most of what's here there are a few who did and we thank them profusely. But now it's over and after posting the last few summary articles of this trip, I am thinking of taking this down. It is too much information, too much private stuff, too many of our personal pictures. What should we do?
There are a lot websites dedicated to travel. There are a lot of bloggers who make a living from telling us how great travel is. Some of them are families and they keep repeating over and over how extraordinary traveling with your family is. How the children learn from the world, how they grow more confident, more social, more intelligent. How this thing is going to mark them for life and they will always be grateful for such an opportunity. The truth is that we will never know if this is going to make them better or it will give them better chances. We are smarter, better educated and we have proof that we had an amazing time. This is the message of this blog.
We will never do this again. We would do it again in a heartbeat, but we only had one chance, we didn't miss it and now we are moving to another phase of our life. It is hard for me to understand why I never thought of this until 2009. It is easy to have second thoughts about spending tons of money on houses, home improvements, decent cars, or else. I am not allowing myself to go there. Again, like I said, we had one chance and we took it. Maria turned 18 in December 2012, she is now an adult, has her own life and I will never be able to pay her enough to sacrifice another year of her life to hang out with us. Ileana, getting ready for her 16th birthday, is talking about going with her girlfriends to South America, after she turns 18. Or maybe Europe. Or maybe somewhere else, but she is not even thinking of inviting us. Ioan is only 13. Maybe we'll have another chance to spend time like this on the road, we had a little preview in our week in Scotland. Maybe.
We realized early in our travel that we live in the best place in the world. While we were gone, our little village got engaged in a campaign to be named the "America's Coolest Small Town"
In a recent web article on Yahoo!Travel they listed our region along nine other lakeside vacations that have it all. Even with us back, I am sure that it will remain a very nice place. Surprisingly or not, we didn't find any other place where we would like to move. So we'll stay here.
|Home with Emma. No better place in this world.|