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Shawna Reflects on 101 Days of Travel

I recently read a fabulous classic (after Skott sat on my Kobo) called Around the World in 80 Days, where an Englishman in the 1870′s successfully toured around the entire circumference of the globe in 80 days to win a bet of 20,000 pounds.

It’s a good thing Skott and I didn’t place any bets on our travels because after 101 days on the road we’ve barely just made it out of Europe…but WOW have we seen and done a lot!

I’ll use Skott’s general guidelines from his reflections, but I’ll add that his little piece was written last night when we tried our first bottle of Moroccan wine-you can imagine that it is much easier to have an interview with yourself under those circumstances.

Here it goes…

Highlights

This is fun place to start because already, so many great times come to mind. But in trying to be brief (which you have now clearly learned that neither Skott or I are good at) I would have to say that these are a few of my favourite times over the last 101 days:

-Celebrating our anniversary in Loch Lamond, Scotland. I loved the luscious green hills in Scotland and enjoyed staying in a castle-I’m such a princess!

-Cycling up over the mountain road that took us into Riva Di Garda. Our first sight of this small lakeside city was breathtaking…and I was sure my birthday would be fabulous here!

-Our beach day in Anglet. I was amazed how warm the Atlantic was there…we had a blast swimming and strolling along the boardwalk at night.

-Arriving in Santiagoand then spending 3 days chillin’ in this fabulous Spanish city, relishing in our accomplishment and just loving life hanging out in the cafes.

Happy 1st Anniversary on the bonny bonny shores of Loch Lamond!


Lowlights

I do get homesick from time to time and these moments are definitely a bit low. I guess it’s a good thing that I miss home because it means that I appreciate all that I have there-particularly my amazing family and friends. But people have been really great at keeping in touch and encouraging us to keep exploring and telling our tales so that’s been very helpful.

Secondly, I am at my lowest when my inner diva comes out. I didn’t love some of the Spanish one-horse towns in the middle part of the Camino and I may have, from time to time, vocalized this more than I like to remember. Oops :)

Plus I think that when you travel with your husband you have someone to blame these things on-when I traveled solo, you could only blame yourself and what fun is that. Sorry Skotty!


Things I’ve Ditched or Lost Along the Way

I feel that in general, I did an okay job of packing versatile things that have kept me comfortable on hot days and warm on chilly nights. In the UK I had to buy an extra long sleeve (for 2 Euros!!) because it was much colder than expected. In Austria I bought another long sleeve-this time a dri-fit for trekking in the Alps. I still have that one with me and it’s been great.

I filled an extra cloth handbag that I had with extra toiletries, make-up, shirts and a dress after deciding that my bag was too heavy as soon as I arrived in the Isle of Wight. I’ve never missed them and continue to evaluate whether I can loose more stuff to lighten my load.

A few other things no longer with me-cargo pants (wearing a belt under your backpack belt is uncomfortable and peeing in the bushes during the Camino was a hassle when you had a belt); a super light weight, flowy shirt that I really liked mysteriously disappeared in a routine laundry visit. I can only hope someone is rockin’ it in Spain!


Lessons Learned

I hate to admit there are things I didn’t already know ; )…

-You can’t plan everything and it’s probably best to manage your expectations better…this way you’re either satisfied or wowed and amazed. Often times things are bound to be different than you think they will be and THAT’S OKAY. (example-we thought we were going to get in an apartment and live in Fes for a month, but we booked it out of there in 3 days when the hectic medina was a little more than we could handle long term).

-You have to take some time to research. Without over planning, I’ve learned that it is really helpful to look ahead a little and read up on ideas of things to do in our next destination, price comparisons for tours and hostels, and advice and recommendations from other travelers. Sometimes you can arrive in a place and simply feel overwhelmed by everything new-but a little planning can help you take in a few select thingsinstead of skimming over a bunch of things without much direction.

Just a trim?

-Even if you tell the Moroccan woman “just a trim” and then reiterate it with “pocco pocco” (small small in Spanish) and “un petit peaux” (a small amount in French), she will cut off as much as she sees fit and you better tilt your head in every direction she wants you to until your done.

-Spanish siesta & meal times are non-negotiable (at least outside of the big cities). You will be laughed at or scolded if you attempt to order melon and jamon (ham) at 4pm in the afternoon or expect to eat dinner anytime before 8pm.


Relationship



Our Irish friend, Andrea, said it best “a couple that does the Camino together stays together”. But beyond even the Camino, traveling together like this really has allowed & challenged us to develop an even stronger relationship. It’s been fun learning things about Skott that I didn’t know yet and it’s been good to realize our different likes and dislikes outside of the comforts of home.

My best advice to others doing this would be “don’t take each other for granted”. When you are spending so much time together it can happen a bit, but as soon as that person is absent-either because they are doing their own thing for the day or they’re not feeling well-you’ll quickly remember why you are the luckiest person in the world to have the one you love beside you to explore the world together.

Very sappy, I know…so a quick jump to something else completely random, but worth mentioning…


Biggest Mystery So Far

Where is all the brown stuff!?

I know that sounds a little sketchy at first, but my inquiry is legitimate! White bread, white pasta, white rice, MORE white bread, and fried potatoes can be found everywhere in abundance. However, throughout many of our travels and now definitely in Morocco, whole wheat anything is NON-EXISTENT. I feel like I’m a piece of rye toast jammed into a world of Wonder Bread.

On that note…

Best Food


 

Hands down, basically everything in Italy! The spinach and ricotta cannelloni will continue to go down as the best meal I’ve had on the road…and it didn’t hurt that it was paired up with delicious, cheap wine and outstanding gelato.
 
 
 

Worst Food


Those green things...strained peas

Apart from the meals enjoyed at family and friend’s places, I have to say that the UK has the worst idea of food I’ve come across. This is probably why curry is now the preferred choice there-it’s wonderful and it’s not English food.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Funniest Moment So Far



When Skott thought he had ordered “pulled pork” for his tapas in Spain and it turned out to be “pulpo”- octopus. He had actually seen it in the tapas window and believed it to be pork…I saw it and the purple shade, coupled with the tentacles had me thinking of many other things than pork.

Speaking of octopus, it was also quite hilarious when I asked the woman at our small restaurant in Fonfria if I could put my yogurt in her freezer and opened the door to find a whole octopus “chillin” in there.

 

Things I’m Looking Forward To


Things change so often day to day for us that I find I always have amazing things to look forward to but in taking a look at the bigger picture, here are a few things I’m excited about down the road:

-Volunteering in Ghana and showing Skott around Tamale;

-Meeting up with family members in South Asia after Christmas;

-Going to Argentina, a place that I believe might be the one that becomes my second home!

And I would LOVE to see baby orangutans in Indonesia!!

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