Friday, June 11, 2010

Full Circle - by Robin

We booked a cruise to the Mediterranean for late July, and I'm totally psyched.  I had been making myself nuts trying to figure out how best to create a memorable birthday this summer, and I stumbled on a cruise that caught my eye.

After further investigation, other cruises were brought to my attention, and my husband became interested as well.  Before we knew it, we signed on.

I didn't expect to want to sail.  Our previous cruise experience was not entirely positive, but it wasn't an American ship, and that, I'm told, can make a big difference.

I'm both psyched and a bit overwhelmed at the notion of being gone over two weeks.  I'm already stressing about the email overload I'll experience if we don't buy me a Blackberry that works in Europe. And, even so, I don't want to become an email junkie while we're away.

In anticipation of our voyage, I started digging around the basement, pouring through old tour books and came across notes and business cards I had made and collected on previous trips to Europe.  I was amazed at how I had recorded things in such detail, and the information would prove helpful in the planning of this vacation.

I was also a bit taken aback when I noted that I hadn't been out of the country in over 10 years.  I guess it shouldn't have been such a shock since Seth is 7, and we've only traveled domestically since he was born.  But, somehow reading the travel journals I had kept and looking at the photos, made me feel that it was another lifetime ago.

Who was that girl?  I wasn't yet a mother. I was married. ...but our life was still our own.

Marc and I had traveled with my dad.  My mom passed away 11 years ago, and my dad had never left the country and had wanted to.  We didn't want him to have any regrets in his life, so we suggested he vacation with us.  We went twice to Europe with him.  First on a Costa Cruise...and the second on a land package.  We had a good time both trips.  My dad and husband get along well, though my dad can sometimes be painstakingly slow when it comes to make simple decisions, like picking ripe bananas at a Paris supermarket. And, buying yogurt thinking it was cottage cheese, and not really knowing the difference when he ate it.  We were able to laugh at the circumstances, and it provided some comic relief on a busy trip.  My dad is a good sport.

I'm so glad we went when we did, as my dad, at 91, has had chronic health challenges for the last 5 years, and overseas travel would not be viable for him at this time.  Goes to show that you shouldn't put off what you really want to do.  Often we know this, but don't seize the moment as we should, if we're able.

As the memories from those previous trips starting pouring in, it hit me that my travels were now coming full circle.  My dad isn't coming with us, but my son is.  Seth has never left the country before, never mind being on a cruise.  What a treat it will be to see foreign sights through his eye.  I'm not entirely sure which ports exactly will interest him, if any.  I do think that Venice and Rome will be cool for him. They are two of my personal favorites.

And, the ship, the Ruby Princess (Princess Cruise Lines), has a kids camp, so Seth doesn't even have to venture off the boat.  I told him there is a pool onboard, and how awesome (his word) it would be to swim on a ship.  And, to sleep on a ship.  I hope there will be other children his age and that he'll have a blast.

This is sure to be a lifetime experience for all of us.  And, I'll look forward to telling my dad and others all about it upon our return.  I don't want to rush the days away until we leave.  Seth still has to complete first grade...we're coming down the homestretch.  And, he'll be in day camp a month before we leave.  But, just knowing that this is coming up gets me very excited.  We did purchase travel insurance, just in case, but G-d willing, we'll be good to go.  And, Seth will get the very first stamp in his brand new passport, and I'm pleased that we are able to offer him this experience, and hope that he and all of us will remember it for many years to come.

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