There's been a lot of water under the bridge since my last post! Between our last destination in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic till we unlocked our front door in Sydney, we were nearly 48 hours in transit.
You know how it goes ..... 2 hours drive from Karlovy Vary to Prague (Ruzyne Airport) where we boarded our Air France flight to Paris, a 6 hour wait in Paris until we boarded another Air France flight to Hong Kong, and 3 hours wait in Hong Kong before the final 10 hour leg to Sydney. Thank God for the showers in the Air France Business Lounge and their exquisite L'Occitane toiletries. Otherwise, we might have scared off our family dog.
We have a ritual that we perform once we've walked through our front door that signals to us that we're finally home:
1) Hug and kiss the dog, as he's always the first to greet us. 2) Hug and kiss Peter's daughter, Natasha, and her gorgeous bub, Jakob. They just live downstairs from us. 3) Peter drops our suitcases in the guest room downstairs. 4) I unpack our clothes and sort them out in colours in the laundry. 5) Peter puts up the washing line as I start the first load of washing. 6) Shoes are unpacked and souvenirs are set aside. 7) Toiletries are brought to our upstairs bathroom, after which I have a long, hot shower and change into a fresh set of clothes. 8) I ring my son, Justin, to tell him that we've arrived safely home, and decide on a date when he and his wife, Maryanne, can join us for dinner. Peter rings his son, Nick, to let him know that we've arrived safely; unfrotunately, he lives 9 hours away from us.
After our luggage is sorted and the key people in our lives contacted, I like to sit down with a cup of tea and reflect on our journey over the past few weeks. You see, all travel is not just about geographical and cultural exploration. It's just as much about expanding ones mindset and shifting ones attitudes and priorities in the absence of routine. For example, being away from home for 6 weeks gave me the chance to look at my mental and emotional state with fresh eyes. Having lost our mother, Julia Ugarte, in January of this year, I had been unable to properly grieve her passing. Our travels gave me the opportunity to express my grief in our private moments and away from our day to day living. I looked at my family dynamics and examined the way that I related to my siblings, and how I related to my son and step-children as a parent/ step-parent. From a personal level, therefore, travel is invaluable.
On the creative front, I had been able to write consistently about our journey, recording the sights, sounds and flavors of our trip across Paris, Alsace, the South of France, and Czech Republic. Apart from the fact that I had rich fodder for countless articles and at least 3 new books, it stretched my literary and story-telling muscles, giving me an added confidence that had not been there prior to my departure. Creatively, therefore, travel is also invaluable.
In a nutshell, coming home after my travels gave me the opportunity to discover that I am a different person to the one that left home 6 weeks ago - hopefully wiser, more confident, more understanding and more evolved.
And another great thing about coming home this time was receiving 2 checks from Amazon for the sale of my books! A big thank you to all of you who have supported me and bought my books. I hope that they continue to give you many hours of entertainment and good travel tips. And if you enjoyed it, then don't forget to tell your friends!