Friday, May 29, 2015

Don't Blink

     One of my favorite country songs is "Don't Blink" by Kenny Chesney.   Frequently, I have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the moment.  My last post was months ago and although I knew that time was speeding by, I didn't know then that within six months, we would be settled back in the United States.  What a strange, crazy trip it has been.

      We did not blink.  We knew that we were being given a wonderful gift and we had to take advantage of it.  Looking back, I know that we squeezed as much as we could into those three years and three months.  Now that we have returned, we do not linger too much on our European memories as it would only make us sad.  We are staying busy creating a new life in the U.S.  It is a long story...and I will have more to say about it in the coming weeks and months as I hope to re-establish this blog with a slightly different slant.

     In the meantime, I know that you want to know all about our travels since last September.  That has been a pressing question in your minds.  Let me see if I can briefly recap and provide a few photos.  I am hoping that over the next several months, I can produce more of a trip report for each adventure...if only to document for myself!

     October was super busy.  Dear Daughter had a swim meet in Berlin so we took the opportunity to have another long weekend there in Dear Husband's favorite city.   The following weekend, we took D2 to Seville and she fell in love with the city and the food.  We even managed to sit through a bullfight and that really was an incredible experience.  The third weekend provided us a nice opportunity to visit with our European ski group and the last weekend, we checked off a big item on our Bucket List.  We headed to Austria to see the opening of the Alpine Skiing Season.  D2 had the thrill of her life when she had her picture taken with her skiing idol, Maria Riesch-Hofl.

     November was much quieter with local swim meets.  D2 qualified for the Long Distance Championships so we traveled to a small town north of Venice, Italy to watch her swim.  On the advice of friends, we visited the small village of San Daniele, famous for its prosciutto and had the most incredible lunch.  Unable to speak any Italian other than "please" and "thank-you", we managed to point at various tables, indicating, "We'll have what they are having".  Moments later, platters of prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, bread sticks, local cheese, onions stewed in balsamic vinegar appeared and we spent the next hour in total awe.

      December had us back traveling once more.  Having not been to France in a few months, I dragged the family back for a short overnight trip to Carcasonne for the specific mission of having Cassoulet.  The creamy mixture of white beans, duck confit, sausages met all of my expectations.  Getting into the festive mood, DH planned a fantastic trip to Budapest.  On Christmas Day after opening Christmas presents, we headed to our apartment in France for several days.  We did not realize it at the time, but it would be DH's last visit.  We felt honored when the waiter at the Michelin starred restaurant across the street recognized us upon entering for dinner one night.

       We rang in the New Year in Paris...what better place to celebrate.  Our dinner lasted longer than expected and as the clocked ticked closer to midnight, we began running towards the Eiffel Tower.  While there were no fireworks, the tower light-up that night was spectacular.  Later in January, we took DD and her best friend to Austria for a week of skiing and met up with our skiing friends for a lovely belated Christmas party.

     By this time, we knew that we were moving back to the U.S.  In early February, DH returned and we began the process of moving from Belgium.  With one last school holiday in February, DD and I decided that one last big trip was in order.  We headed to France for a final visit to our apartment.  Then we headed to Madrid for an incredible three days.  No trip to Spain would be complete without a return visit to Seville, so we boarded the high speed train and arrived in Seville 2.5 hours later.  DH's goal was to eat at her favorite restaurant and we managed to do just that...three visits in a 24-hour period.

     We loved our time in Europe.  We love the experiences we had and the lessons we learned.  One of the more important lessons was to enjoy the moment...slow down and absorb the experience.  While it seems that we were constantly on the go, we were savoring every moment.  I would like to think that we have brought this attitude back with us.