When did you catch the travel bug? I remember exactly when I caught it. I was 14 years old and I had just entered theatre class on a Wednesday afternoon. My teacher, by far the coolest teacher I had ever had, announced that the theatre trip for the year would be to London and Paris. I grabbed the flier and went home and I’m not even sure I gave my parents a choice. I was going. Thank the Lord they paid for it, because I had no idea how I was going, but by God I was going. Somehow my amazing parents came up with the money. A few months later I was on my way to my first traveling adventure. My parents and everyone else’s came with us to the gate and even boarded the plane to take pictures. (Oh the days before 9/11) and then we were on our way.
I was so excited that I know I didn’t sleep a wink. I was surrounded by practical strangers and we were going on an adventure. We spent six hours in Chicago before actually arriving in London. We went on a bus tour which took us past the home of the RedSox and to my first experience at The Rain Forest Café. We went through China Town and then back to the airport and then to London. I have no idea what time we landed and it doesn’t matter. We were ushered right away to our amazing hotel, The Hotel Britannia. It was beautiful. I took a picture in the driver’s seat of a taxi, we put our stuff down and we were on our way. We saw the Tower of London, London Bridge, stopped at the Doc Martin Store, saw Covenant Garden, Piccadilly Circus and Harrods. And this was only day one. That night we went to our very own Mid-Evil dinner. It was incredible. There was a king and a seven course dinner, court jesters and at the end they even passed around a snuff jar. It was disgusting!
The next day we went on a bus tour to Windsor Castle. It was my first time in a palace and I began to think I might have been switched at birth. I knew I was royalty. (That has yet to be proven)
After the beautiful castle experience we went to my favorite spot in London to date. The Globe Theatre. It was amazing. This was were every Shakespeare play ever happened. This was where he had his first actors and first audiences. This was where it all happened.
Also in London, I tasted my first sip of wine and my first cigarette.
Then we said farewell to London and took the six-hour ride through the Chunnel to Gay Paris. There was nothing to see since we enslaved under a body of water so I finally slept. Then suddenly we were in Paris. We checked into our not-as-fabulous-as-our-London-hotel-but-still-amazing-hotel. It was dirty and dingy and we had to put our luggage in the elevator and run up the stairs to meet it. It was perfect. At ten pm every night every single one of the three channels switched to almost visible porn… luckily by then we were all too tired to try and watch TV.
In Paris I witnessed the sunset behind the Sacre Cour, which is the most amazing church I have ever seen. I had my portrait drawn on the banks of the Seine River. I went to the top of the Eiffel Tower and then walked down all of the steps. I went on a sunset boat ride down the river. We went to Versailles and everything glittered in a way that I didn’t even know was possible. We saw Notre Dame and the amazing design and gothic architecture. We walked under the L’arc De Triumph.
Every single thing about my first time was perfect. It was emotional, and beautiful, and sad when it was over. It also left me craving more. The need to travel is inherent in me. It always has been, I just had to have it realized. It may be inherent in all of us, but we have to take a leap and buy a ticket. Anywhere. Just go somewhere. Have a first time and I know it will be nothing like mine, but it will be just the way it should be for you.