If there is one thing on my mind a lot this year, it’s the fact that I am getting old. 2014 marks my seventh year at my company and the thought of that never ceases to astound me. I’ve seen colleagues get married, have kids, move away, get new jobs and then come back… so much has happened in the last 7 years. I know I started my career at a young age while many of my friends just started university, but it makes me feel old, knowing I’ve been there for so long and that time is slowly slipping away…
The one thing I have to look forward to this year is being able to take my paid sabbatical. When you become eligible, the company encourages you to “do all the things you’ve always wanted but could never get around to, like travel the world, pick up a new hobby, work on the house or just plain relax at home…” and that I am. I’ve decided to travel around Europe for the 7 weeks— solo — from May to June …that way, I’ll also be back in Vancouver to cycle in our beautiful city during the summer so this is going to be an absolutely stellar year!
Why am I travelling by myself? Well other than the fact that no one I know has 7 weeks of vacation, I have no idea! I knew I wanted to do something amazing with the time that did not involve “relaxing at home” so the thought of travelling around Europe alone popped into my mind and I never gave it a second thought.
I have my entire trip roughly laid out, I know what I want to do and see, half my plane tickets and accommodations are confirmed and I only recently booked my return flight home (sigh, I guess I am not going to run away). Normally, I think one would be excited about a trip like this upon inception but I didn’t start feeling it until 2 weeks ago, probably because I was too caught up with the busyness we call life and the planning of the trip (which has also been extremely time consuming). But, I LOVE planning and I am a self-described master-planner. I AM sitting at the edge of my seat now as my departure date inches closer and I’m counting down the days until I step on the plane.
I will be starting in London and making my way through Germany, towards Greece, a short stop in Italy, a longer stint in Southern France, then I’ll hop over to Spain for some roadbiking and sight-seeing and then back to France, ending my trip in Paris so I can take advantage of the shopping on the last stop of my itinerary! The places I’m most excited about are Santorini; I rented a place high on the caldera so I can relax in the middle of the trip (I purposely found a place high up on the cliff so I can take advantage of the stairs for an extra workout). Berlin because of its culture and history. And Southern France, where I will be staying the longest. I’ll be in Nice with a friend and then I will be travelling to Nimes where I will base myself so I can cycle with John and Gerry from Cycling Languedoc… and cross Mont Ventoux off my bucket-list! Before my last stop in Paris, I’ll be in the Loire Valley, cycling, tasting wines and frolicking in castles. How heavenly does that sound?
On travelling solo, I haven’t felt any fear or anxiety about it yet and honestly, I don’t really see what is the big deal. People do it all the time and the media always blows the bad things out of proportion. I probably have a higher chance or getting killed in Vancouver than I do in Athens. I mean descending a mountain on a bicycle with nothing but a helmet at 80km+ per hour— that’s dangerous! Yes, I may be doing that in France but still… I’m also a natural introvert, I love being alone and I really don’t see myself getting homesick either. Sorry Vancouver! That doesn’t mean I won’t come home though because I’m really looking forward to being in beautiful Vancouver this summer.
As of now, I only have frivolous worries such as should I bring cycling gear and the Garmin? Where am I going to workout? How am I going to “train” for Mont Ventoux? Do I want to carry a backpack or a carry-on? What shoes am I going to bring? Which maxi dress am I going to bring? How many tops should I pack? Which tablet laptop should I buy so I can work (unfortunately)? I don’t want to be lugging around my 15″ Macbook (and I do not want to buy another Mac either). If anyone has any opinions on these, I would be grateful to hear!