All my bags are packed…

…I’m ready to go.

You can’t have enough of a good thing and this year, I have been blessed with travel opportunities. I’ve just blogged about our Malaysian road trip, but even before that, in late May, I was lucky to have two weeks in Italy, Austria and Germany. Lots of pictures, reflections and observations to share. But first, some background info to set the stage. We travelled everywhere by train. Okay, boats in Venice too. And our two tired – very tired – feet. We walked. A LOT.

We travelled light – one bag each and it had to be a small one. I had a cabin-size backpack with rollers. My mum had a compact suitcase and my sister had a big fullpack which she checked in.With her crutch. Yes, her broken toe had not healed fully by the time we had to go to Europe. We thought her crutch could get us sympathy points and either an upgrade into business class (wishful thinking for a best case scenario!) or at the least, priority boarding and maybe a move to bulkhead window seats for additional leg space, but nada to all. Emirates was a tough nut to crack.

But a note about my sister and her broken toe – let me say that she was a trooper all the way. Never complained, never backed out of anything and pulled more than her share of the weight – heck, she out-walked me on the steep 70m incline in Obertraun up to the ice cave!

We slept well – mostly. I think we came of that age when we wanted to have a leeetle more luxury at the end of what was usually a very long day of travel and sightseeing, so no more hostels and dorms. We had one-star to three-star hotels and some nights on the train instead.

Skype on my android phone was useful for keeping in touch with the family back home and enjoyed skyping them out in the city, at a cafe break sometimes instead of using the laptop in the hotel room.

I used an Olympus EPL3 and brought along my 150mm zoom but more often than not, the 14 – 42mm kit lens was good enough.

On the downside, my mother fell ill. She said she caught my sister’s bad cough bug and within days of landing in Europe, was hacking through the night together with my sister. It got so bad we had to get a doctor in Munich. Thankfully it was our last stop in Europe and it was Germany. Can’t think of a better place to fall sick than in efficient Germany. I’m thinking of the five times my husband got poked in the arm by doctors in the emergency room of the hospital in Figueres Spain while trying to find a vein to set up the IV. Plus my sister thought the doc who made the house call was cute.

On hindsight, I think I should have planned a slower trip. Not so many places to go, and maybe no nights on trains. It hit home for me, how much my mom is getting on in age. And while she valiantly tried to keep up – and mostly did – I know the journey was an exhausting one for her.

It was a mixed bag kinda trip. Eye-opening in many ways.

For one thing, I learned to appreciate the importance of my husband’s travel company. I never realised how much I missed him travelling with me until this trip. It wasn’t only the fact that he has spoiled me rotten – the guy is not only the one who makes the list, packs the bags, does our laundry and carries my bags, he is also the guy I can narrate my commentaries to, makes decisions quickly (I can’t because I’m Libran and love swinging from pro to con) and hustles me along. Sure we have our squabbles – some major, think Barcelona and Kyoto for the biggies – but with this trip, I’ve realised that I travel best either with him or alone.

On this trip, I felt the weight of being tour leader and itinerary planner and sometimes this was tiring. I love my mum and my sister but I don’t think it would be a good idea for them to travel with me again – for their sanity or mine! Anal-retentive control freaks like me do not make very pleasant travel companions.

I also realised that I am never leaving home on any trip again without my trusty red travel neck pillow. Indispensable.

But for now, come travel with me – vicariously – as we go through Venice, Rome, Assisi, Salzburg, Hallstatt and Munich, through good meals and bad, through fleece-job tours and romantic encounters, in ice caves and on balmy Roman evenings, meeting cutie-pies and nutjobs. What an European adventure we had!


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