7 Things I Learned in Europe
It’s been a while since I’ve written… I felt like I went into a time warp while traveling in Europe. I didn’t have an expectations going into the trip but even that couldn’t prepare me for what lied ahead of me. And if I had had any expectations what I experienced went far beyond anything I could imagine. The trip was everything but ordinary. With my adventure only being two and half weeks long it felt as if time stood still, as if I had been gone for months. I half expected to not recognize people when I returned home. All in all the trip was absolutely amazing and I have lots to share.
I had never been to Europe before this trip and I know a lot of people that have. So what I write is my experience, my insights and my life lessons. I’m here to share them with you. You do what you will with them. Two and half weeks, four countries, endless miles traveled, 653 pictures taken, numerous calories consumed, new friendships made, hearts broken and rebuilt and lives changed. Here is what I learned…
1. Slow Down.
One of the first things I noticed was that people took their sweet ass time. Meals were consumed always sitting, relaxing and usually with others. Rarely did I notice someone carrying a to-go cup for coffee. Most meals took us two hours to compete, from start to finish. With cafes everywhere like Starbucks in Seattle it was hard to not want to stop, relax and sip espresso – not because I even wanted coffee (but I am forever spoiled with my coffee now, American coffee doesn’t have shit on European coffee) but because it was an opportunity to take everything in, enjoy time with who I was with and ultimately enjoy life.
2. Buy Everything Fresh.
Man do Europeans love their markets! I believe I only stepped into a grocery store one time my whole trip. I know I have expressed my love for farmer markets before but I have a whole new level of love for them. The markets in Europe blow American markets out of the water. Rows and rows of fresh produce, fresh flowers, honey, olive oils, soaps, eggs and dairy, meats, fish, baskets full of spices and so on… an abundance of items to entice everyone of your senses. My lesson learned? Buy everything fresh when I can. I’m going to avoid frozen anything… the one thing that I will not be able to reproduce here is the opportunity to buy fresh french bread – man I could live off that stuff!!! They don’t use a lot of preservatives over there either… probably why I lost weight even though I ate bread like crazy!
3. Walk or Bike As Much As Possible.
This one I don’t really have to explain. With most of the roads to tight to drive through and parking being a pain in the ass everyone walks or bikes or has a little motor scooter. And it makes allllllll the difference in the world. I know here in San Diego everything is so spread out but still I know for myself I could walk or bike to more places. I have a market right down the street from me and my lazy ass still drives the car!!!
4. Have a Passion For Life.
Most of my time spent was in the South of France and Italy and boy oh boy do those people have a passion for life! Given the two cultures are completely different they still share the same passion for life. They seem happier, healthier and more at peace with life. It seems that anything and everything is an excuse to celebrate. In Italy shops close down for two hours during the day so they can eat lunch, most of us americans go the whole day without eating!!! Everywhere we went the sounds heard most were those of people laughing. And maybe that’s why time stood still for us, we were present with life, yes maybe we still had normal life’s worries but we continuously chose to stay present and take everything in.
5. A Human Being Has So Much Potential.
One of the biggest things that really opened up my eyes was how much potential a human being has. I believe we cut ourselves short of what we are capable of. Seeing the villages, cathedrals, towers, art, etc that were constructed 100’s of years ago in times when things weren’t as convenient and are still standing proud and true. We had just as much potential then as we do now plus 10x more. I have my self doubts about what I can do and can’t do, but after this trip I’m expanding my horizon and looking into other possibilities that at one time I thought could not be possible – I wont cut myself short anymore.
6. When All Else Falls – LOVE.
Like I said in the beginning things happened on this trip that I could of never have expected. Emotions were scattered all over Europe. And there were times I found myself sad, angry, annoyed or upset but in the end all I could do is LOVE. Being love gave me strength to think and respond clearly and when I got mixed up in my ego, love is what pulled me out of it. There were a couple times where I found myself letting go of attachment to an outcome and literally just going with the flow… and in the end it all worked out beautifully. Being open to what was happening around me allowed me to be there for the people who needed it most and maybe still in the end it didn’t end quite the way I would of liked it to but I have faith that it will all work out just as it needs to. We are all here to grow, learn………… and LOVE.
7. Mother Nature is a Gift.
I’ve always kinda have known that mother nature is a gift but I saw some of the most incredible scenic views in Europe. On all of our adventures we must of stopped a dozen times to take in the views. Everything from the ocean to the mountains and everything in between. Truly wondrous and words can not describe it. It made me so grateful of my eyesight – I can say that much.
So there it is. 7 things I learned in Europe. Those were some of the bigger things but there were many many small lessons too, like were to put your fork and spoon when finished with a meal or how to ask for the bill in French, or that you can find your way around Italy without a gps or map and how that true love really does exist (ok maybe that is a big lesson). I guess that’s why I love traveling – I learn how to be present with life, how to open my heart and how to expand my mind. Thank you Europe.