Where? When? How? Those are some basic travel questions that I have yet to find answers to. In a couple of days we'll arrive in St. George Utah and I'll spend the next five months working on the answers to those questions.
Dreams are not easy to fulfill. Especially as the decades accumulate and life becomes complicated by love, careers, financial concerns, aging body, etc. The romance of taking off to see the world loses some of its charm when it involves leaving the person you love. Sue and I don't regret the career decisions we've made that resulted in us being separated by miles and months in the past but the thought of waving goodbye again is unpleasant.
I have designed the first phase of my “World Trip” to make the separations no longer than a couple of months and to include some adventures that Sue and I can do together. Come early this summer I'll head to Spain to study Spanish and see some of Europe. In late summer Sue and I will meet up in France to hike the El Camino. It's about 500 miles of hostel to hostel hiking through Spain. It'll take us about two months to complete. If we finish it in late October or November we'll be able to catch a repositioning cruise from Europe back to the States.
I've crossed the Atlantic once before while serving as medical officer aboard the USS Kalamazoo and really enjoyed it. After taps and the chaplain's evening prayer I would hang out on the bridge. There I would watch the bow plow through the endless waves in the moonlight while listening to the radio traffic. I loved listening to the voices with thick accents crackle over the radio as I sat in the red glow of the bridge lights. Red lights were used on the bridge to optimize the crews night vision. Somewhere out there in the dark one night, a cargo ship in trouble sent a distress call. I listened attentively to the captain, chief engineer and other “real sailors” speaking in nautical jargon about repair options but all I could ascertain was that the ship had a serious malfunction and needed help fast. Shortly after the distress call was sent you could hear ships from a variety of nations offer assistance over the radio. Our ship was too far from the distressed vessel to steam to its aid but other ships in our battle group did.Thanks to the help of sailors from various countries the foundering ship was stabilized and limped safely into port. Mariners going to the aid of other mariners has been the tradition for centuries but to see it in action in modern times was heart warming.
During my voyage from the Med through the Suez Canal to the Persian Gulf and back to the States, I thought many times how much Sue would enjoy the experience. Perhaps a repositioning cruise is the next best thing. A repositioning cruise is where ships are moved from one region to another, i.e. Mediterranean to the Caribbean. One difference between a repositioning cruise and a typical cruise is you spend more days at sea. I prefer being at sea to stopping in ports that are simply tourist traps devoid of local culture. Of course you still have all the entertainment and gluttony of a typical cruise but for a more reasonable price. I've found crossings going for as little as $45 a day per person for a 15 day cruise. You will also need to pay taxes/fees ($100/person) and gratuities ($10/person/day). Considering a typical two week hotel vacation in the states it's a reasonable charge for the services provided and it's far more interesting than taking a plane. Plus a little pampering after a few months of living out of a backpack will be appreciated.
Once we get back to the States the next phase would involve me heading south of the border but first I need to figure out the details of Phase One. Where to study in Spain? What to visit in Europe? What to pack for the El Camino? … If you've studied Spanish in Spain, taken a repositioning cruise from Europe to the States or hiked the El Camino I'd love to hear your suggestions. Maybe next Wednesday I'll have a couple of answers to go along with the growing number of questions.