Today was supposed to be my ceremonial departure date. Originally it was supposed to be Friday the 13th of April, but I needed to be around to be the Best Man for my oldest friend who was getting married on 7/7/7 in Sioux City so I pushed it back, luckily there was a Friday the 13th in July as well.
You see, many significant things have happened for me on Friday the 13th: Graduation from High School, first overseas trip, and a few other things that have become foggy with time. I also kind of like bucking the unluckiness of the number but maybe that trend is drawing to a close as I will have seen both Friday the 13thâ€™s pass without significance this year.
Iâ€™ve had a little trouble getting my head back into the trip since Summer went back to Portland. I miss her, a lot. This stop on the trip will be the single longest period of time Iâ€™m in one place for the duration of this journey – probably the longest time Iâ€™ve been in one place for a number of years – and itâ€™s in a place full of memories that I donâ€™t remember. Iâ€™ve been away for 10 years and have had an entirely different life during that time. I may have grown up here, but I feel the seeds that were planted grew into who I am because of my life in Portland.
Iâ€™m turning that lack of focus around now. Iâ€™m fighting my mind from becoming idle and spinning off down dark roads. Iâ€™ve got my maps back out, Iâ€™m consuming gallons of coffee in my old Sioux City haunts, and Iâ€™m adapting to the new initial European destination. I need to turn this time into opportunity, study my Russian language materials, fight my way through more European history, catch up with old friends, hang out with family, interview my grandparents, sleepâ€¦
So where do I go?
Since my original plan of Spain/Morocco/Portugal/France/Germany has been dashed and Iâ€™ve lost a full 30 days of summer weather Iâ€™ve been trying to reorient my path through Europe. Do I try like crazy to make it down to Spain to participate in La Tomatina, then run back up to Paris to see my FiancÃ©? Do I skip Spain until the winter months and explore Northern Europe before the snows come? Spain and Italy would have the best weather in the winter months; also they have a Carnival season that I just found out about. Iâ€™d only known about it in connection with Brazil. It isnâ€™t something we celebrate in the United States but has a long history throughout Europe.
Tidbit: One theory on the origin of Carnival comes from the Latin â€œcarneâ€ (meat) and â€œvaleâ€ (farewell) as it is usually the last time of feasting prior to the fasting season of Lent.
No matter what I do, I will miss the International Regatta of Bathtubs in Belgium. (No, I wasnâ€™t planning on attending, but after I found it I thought it would be fun.)
â€œMore of a lark than a serious competition, this event is open to seaworthy bath tubs of all classes, from all nations. The exact rules are vague, but vessels can be of any design â€“ seemingly the more bizarre the better â€“ and there must be at least one bath tub providing buoyancy. Motors are strictly forbidden, so is the deliberate sinking of a fellow competitor. Prizes are awarded by an impartial panel of judges for speed, technical endeavour, beauty, novelty, and representation of the town. Even for non-boating visitors, Dinant, with its onion dome tower wedged between the river and a cliff, is sufficiently picturesque to be worth a visit. The annual “La Regate des Baignoires” makes it doubly soâ€
Ideas are welcome, I just booked my Hostel for Antwerp, so I at least have a place to get my land legs back for a few days, and then itâ€™s off to explore the continent.
Anyway, happy Friday the 13th! I hope it is lucky for you.