I have a confession to make: I haven’t been following my own advice. Back in March, I told everyone that they should slow down and travel like a tortoise. I still believe this advice, but for the past month, I’ve had to take my own advice and shove it.
Kim and I have partnered with Eurail.com and have been riding the rails through Europe for the past month. We began this journey in Barcelona, visited our friends Hannah and Lee as they house sat a 12 bedroom chateau in southern France, visited my favorite city in the world Paris, drank my way through Belgium, toured the canals of Amsterdam, made what has become mine and Kim’s annual visit to Germany’s Christmas markets, discovered what might be my new favorite city in the world in Prague, and spent the past few days in Budapest.
This is in no way traveling like a tortoise. Even for a turtle on a train that’s moving fast. It has been a lot of fun, and we have enjoyed nearly every minute of it – and traveling by train might just be my new favorite mode of transportation.
But, for as much fun as we have been having, it has been exhausting.
To make matters worse, tomorrow morning, Kim and I board a flight that takes us to Vietnam. It feels strange to be finally visiting SE Asia. It feels like while traveling, so many roads point to SE Asia, but Kim and I have been willfully ignoring all of the exit signs that would take us there. We knew we would get there eventually, but we had to find our own way there – and ‘our way’ just so happened to include a one-month marathon tour of Europe.
It’s totally appropriate that, just a day or two ago, Kim realized that we could have taken the trans-Mongolian railway to Vietnam. For years we have dreamed about riding either the trans-Siberian or trans-Mongolian railway. But now that we are literally in the right place to take it (and it would drop us of pretty close – relatively speaking – to Vietnam), we completely forgot about it.
See, Kim and I have had one of the most disjointed, unorganized travel routes I have come across. I won’t bore you with too many details, but in general our route of North America > South American > Europe > India & Nepal > Indonesia > back to North America > back to Europe > SE Asia isn’t going to win us any awards for efficiency. It does mean that when we travel back to the United States, we are guaranteed to have circumnavigated the globe at least two times, but I don’t think they give out ribbons for that.
So you might be asking yourself, “what the hell does all of this have to do with Brian being a turtle (and isn’t he supposed to be a Sasquatch anyway?)?” And I would answer: #1 – is question mark-parenthesis-question mark proper grammar? And #2 – well, I guess I’ve gone off the rails (no pun intended). I’ll get to my point.
My point is this: I’m excited to finally get to SE Asia. We have a three-week bicycle and boat tour of Vietnam with our good friends, then….a whole lotta nothing. We’re gonna chill out, enjoy some down time, and see what comes our way. Sure, we have a big list of things we want to do, but we’re in no rush to do them.
So, as of tomorrow: no more checking train schedules. No more booking hotel rooms every 3 days. No more spending hours researching activities to do the next day. Nope – as of tomorrow, I’m bringing my shell out of its temporary retirement, and re-adopting “slow and steady wins the race” as my mantra.