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Travel Tales: The anatomy of a travel experience

by Jan Wheatcroft

I am healing from my recent hip replacement surgery and it is time to begin my travels again. Walking is not quite up to where it was before the pain and surgery, even though I was never a great walker to begin with. 

Now besides my “normal” duck walk, I limp as one leg is a bit longer than the other. This gives me more character in my stride. I missed a year of my traditional time abroad in Europe and I really missed that “missed” year, the friends I catch up with, all my favorite places I enjoy visiting and the new places I want to explore. 

So I worked hard in my twice-a-week physical therapy to strengthen the “withering” muscles in my legs and hips and now I am back to working out twice a week at pilates. There, I discovered a whole body full of muscles that had been left behind with the surgical procedure and were crying out to catch up with the rest of me. 

The first thing I did was sit down and begin to make air travel arrangements. I am quite choosey on how I like to travel. Over the past few years I have discovered how much I like to fly Air New Zealand from LAX to London. I also found out their premium class was the best I had seen or used—one sits in a seat not too close to another passenger and you don’t share any part of their seat. There is a good amount of room even though I find myself longing for the “bedded” seats in business class, which are way out of my price range.

By the time I took the leap and picked the dates for travel there was almost nothing left as far as seat availability. This really surprised me. But I was able to coordinate dates with my friends and I booked the seats then realized I had better get practicing my “walk” and build up my strength as I am truly traveling this year. 

Now the planning of the holiday begins. I stay with my dear friend, Frances, in London where she now has her own place right in the center of everything. I do a lot of poking around and shopping in antique markets in London. I have missed doing that. I am sure there will be plenty of exploring for me at my favorite places as well as those unexplored places yet to be visited.

At first we talked about traveling to Europe by train (one of my favorite ways of getting there) and going down to Brittany to explore an area neither of us knows. However, time was limited and trains in France are intermittently on strike throughout June, so we decided to stay in England. Then we thought of visiting Wales by train and renting a car, but with limited time  that plan was also chucked. We have now decided to rent a car and visit her family at the seaside and go explore small unknown villages for a few days. That satisfies the “I want to see something new” part of me with the pleasure of connecting with special friends again. 

This is what I like: the ability to be flexible and open to change while still having the adventure of doing something new. And through it all being aware that my energy level and power is still limited, and I have to proceed with care. 

After about 16 days in England I will fly over to Sweden and have 12 days together with my great friends, Susanna and Christer, in the countryside in their red Swedish home and garden. We are planning a short boat trip to the island of Oland, but again things can change and I am open to it all.

I have to learn to adapt to the changes both around me and within me. I have to know the difference of what I can control and what I can’t. I am not very good at this and most often I just want to have it all and all my way. But the bright side of it is, I am going and I am excited and will just enjoy what I can do and make note of what is next on the agenda for next year.