Today is our last day on the Seabourn. Oh, how I will miss this beautiful vessel. I will never be able to repay her for her gift: my physical and emotional sense of wellbeing. I have not felt this sense of unceasing tranquility since my days living near the ocean in Honolulu.
On all of our trips, I always reminisce of the memory of a man in my life, my grandfather Paul Lang. His travels instilled wanderlust in my veins. As I write this story while looking out at the sea, I am ever so grateful for him.
Memories of My Grandfather
As most of you are aware, my ultimate concierge and I are world travelers. I have not written about all of my incredible personal adventures because there have been so many that I find myself overwhelmed, developing writer’s anxiety choosing my metaphorical port of entry through the written word.
I guess I should start at the beginning, explaining the reasons behind my wanderlust. My grandfather’s treasures from around the world captivated my interest. By luck, I inherited his curiosity for the unknown.
From the time I was a little girl living in Kankakee by the Sea, I loved to visit my grandfather’s home. I recall the delicious smell of foods cooking in the kitchen and the array of prized possessions he amassed during his worldly travels.
My Initial Exposure to Wanderlust
My grandfather was neither dapper nor highly educated; however, he was a Talmud Scholar and read the Torah in fluent Hebrew. He fled Russia in his teens, traversing across Europe in order to board a ship for America. He reached Ellis Island nearly a year later. While he spoke with a broken tongue, I know my grandfather had a trait I was extremely fortunate to inherit: his curiosity.
I would visit my grandparents’ home often. The first thing I would do was rush into my grandfather’s den and gaze at his collection of treasures.
I romanticized about his carved wooden animals from South Africa and his tall, black sculpture of the Eiffel Tower. I still believe I was a French woman in one of my past lives. The metal, golden pyramids he brought home from Luxor, Egypt also caught my eye. I wondered why the medieval Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy leaned!
Being curious to a fault, I would ask my grandfather to tell me stories about each treasure that decorated the shelves of his den. His stories and his collections were my first exposure to the wonderful world of travel.
Deterred in College
My first lost opportunity to visit Europe occurred when I was in college. My father prevented me from traveling to France and Italy with a girlfriend and her mother because he was worried I might have an appendix attack. To this day, I still have my appendix.
It was not until my late thirties that I had the opportunity to travel abroad when my parents invited us to travel to Asia. We visited Japan, Hong Kong, and China. I left with a yearning to learn more about the incredible cultures on the other side of the world. I also experienced a renewed sense of my own spirituality.
My Ultimate Concierge Ignites My Travel Bug
Constant travel did not begin until I married Shelly 27 years ago. I was in my forties. I really was a ‘Pretty Woman!’ There was nothing this husband of mine would not do for me. Feeding my curiosity for travel was on the top of my list so we took off together to see the world.
The world was my oyster! I went searching for the pearl. Thankfully Shelly, my ultimate concierge, made it all possible.
Mixed in with my travels to new places were newfound international friends! I was fortunate that my husband was a member of an International Real Estate Federation, which was based in Paris and met biyearly for global real estate conferences.
Through these ties, I formed lasting connections with women from Europe, Asia, South America and beyond. Today, these ladies remain some of my dearest girlfriends. They exposed me to their cultures and the hidden treasures in their cities that many visitors never discover.
People regularly ask about my favorite countries and cities around the world. I always tell them I don’t have a favorite place; each city has its special flavor. However, I do have a handful of favorite sites.
Several Places I Adore
I loved Monet’s Gardens and hungered to live in his home in the gardens for just a week and be his assistant!
Standing with Shelly on a windy day at Normandy Beach, we lit a candle for our fallen soldiers and expressed incredible gratitude for their heroism.
In Egypt, the pyramids and the Royal Tombs with stories in hieroglyphs continue to fascinate me.
Machu Picchu in Peru, the Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guard in London, The David in Florence and The Vatican in Rome all took my breath away. So did The Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem. I cannot forget the Terracotta Warriors in Xian and the Great Wall of China. The culture of Vietnam and the magnificent Angkor Wat in Cambodia were true history lessons.
I never imagined I would travel through Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Renoir’s home, the LeGear Museum, and lunch with my ultimate concierge in Saint Paul de Vence outside of Cann were romantic adventures. I loved Moscow and dancing with Shelly to Moscow Nights in the middle of Red Square. In Paris, we also dined at Lassaire with the open rooftop with my husband and French friends on my 50th birthday.
Other notable experiences included having a conversation with George Bush Senior one morning at breakfast at Claridge’s and visiting my hero Winston Churchill’s War Room in London. Oh my, there was so much more. Each is a story unto itself and little by little, I will share these stories with you.
I marveled at stunning whales in Antarctica so huge they could swallow our bodies whole, gigantic land and sea turtles over 100 years old in The Galapagos Islands, safaris in Africa and the Taj Mahal in India.
In the Middle East, we also visited Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi. We visited Nepal, Turkey, Greece and oh so much more.
My Impression of Cruising
This was my first cruise but not our last. Cruising affords you the luxury to retreat from the real world. I find it to be a very therapeutic means of travel. You can disembark or stay on board, the choice is yours. We took daily tours except for one day at sea.
On our next cruise, I will be wiser about our selection of offshore tours because some of the regions we explored did not merit a visit and our travel agent should have advised us of this. A day onboard Seabourn would have been far better. Darlings, we all know that we live and learn. I learned!
See The World and Grow As A Woman
I have loved all of my experiences. These trips exposed me to fantastic cultures, vibrant people, customs like Feng shui that I have incorporated into my lifestyle and a greater appreciation for my spiritual side.
I am grateful for my grandfather who instilled wanderlust within my soul. Equally thankful for Shelly, I am grateful to my husband who could afford to take me around the world.
I am most grateful to my parents who taught me the value of gratitude. As you can see, I am a grateful woman.
I Hope I Have Left a Gift for My Grands
All of my grands know we travel. Unfortunately, they live in many locations so they have not had the same opportunity I had as a child with my grandfather. They cannot simply waltz into our home and spend time with me, observing my collection of treasures and hearing the stories about them.
What a loss for those of us who have grands living quite a ways away. These grands will have to learn on their own. Some will. Some may not. Time will tell. Fingers crossed more will than will not.
Many of our grands have traveled extensively with their parents or studied abroad. But do they have wanderlust in their souls and are they ever so grateful for their experiences? We will have to see.
For you grandmothers who love to travel, be sure to share your stories with your grands when they are young. Your stories will be forever keepsakes and will possibly instill wanderlust within their veins.