For nearly ten years, starting in 2006, I have spent several months each year in Italy, with a few excursions to France on the side. I was able to visit more than 100 cities and villages in Italy, along with Paris and the Cote D'Azur in France. But life is full of change, and several things have recently occurred to impede the likelihood that I will be able to spend long stretches of time abroad in the future.
The main thing is that both of my online jobs have changed considerably, resulting in a loss of income. This change will not allow me the luxury of traveling as much nor as long as I've had the good fortune to do for so many years. I've also come to the realization that I don't want to keep doing the same things I've been doing, and I'm weary of always traveling alone. As wonderful as it seems to be able to travel for several months each year, it's also quite stressful, and the stress has been piling up for some time.
To afford my long stays in Italy, I worked long hours before, after, and often during my travels. It seemed that my year was spent anticipating upcoming travels and making plans, traveling, then reliving and recovering from my travels. Each stage came with its inherent thrills and disappointments, and it was a joy to share my adventures with others, via this blog and Facebook. But the only time I was living in the present was during those few months that I was in Italy, so much so that most of the year I was caught up in either a dream or a memory. I was shortchanging the life and the possibilities I could have at home, where I live most of the year. So this year, I'm taking the time to regroup, to figure out what those years of travel were all about, and what I want to do next. What can I manage on a smaller income? What do I want to explore?
My initial reason for traveling in the first place was to have an adventure and write a book about it. Now I've had many years of travels and adventures. Sure, I've managed to write about them, but only on this blog. Maybe now I'll find (make) the time to start writing in more depth. A novel, a memoir, who knows?
And then serendipity occurs, and I'm invited to share a trip to Spain with my brother and his wife this fall. They've arranged a time share in Tarragona, just west of Barcelona, for a week, so the cost of lodging is taken care of. And when I looked into airfare, I discovered I could pay for it with frequent flyer miles I've been saving up since 2008. Voila! A nearly free vacation! I'll spend a week with Chris and Kim, then stay on for another 5 days on my own, to make sure that I get my fill of Gaudì, Picasso, Mirò, and Dalì. A new country, a new language, a new landscape! So this year, I'll have a 2-week excursion in Spain, and we'll see where it goes from there...one can never tell!