Today’s prompt is 500 words on my perfect vacation. I’ve had a few near perfect ones. I think for a vacation to qualify as “perfect” for me, it would need to involve me not having to worry about anything. No one else’s agenda or schedule. Nothing. And perhaps free, though I’m not opposed to paying for it ahead of time so there’s no financial stress to come back to.
In college, Brian was active with the UAH choir and, in 1997, they went to Europe. He called me from Europe and I thought that was the most awesome thing ever. I’ll admit it: I cried. He called me… from Europe. And he promised he was going to take me there one day. That day came in 2001. Sometime in 2000, the choir director announced plans for another European tour and created an “Alumnae and Friends Choir” to supplement her current choir. The thought of getting that much money together was daunting. I wasn’t sure about it because there were just so many more practical places that money could be used. I turned to my mother, surely hers would be a voice of reason. Nope. “Go! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity! GO!” It may not have been a voice of reason, but it was a voice of wisdom.
We sang in Germany, Italy, France, and Switzerland. In Germany, we saw the Throne of Charlemagne (I may have touched it despite being told not to). Brian was part of a small group that sang on top of Jungfraujoch. Altitude sickness / thin air was the biggest obstacle there. We sang in Notre Dame Cathedral. I walked on the labyrinth in Chartres Cathederal. We sang at Mass at the San Marco Basilica in Venice. If a cathedral had stairs to the top, Brian took them. We enjoyed German food and sampled gelati from different parts of Italy (flavors and recipes are regional, we had to taste the difference. Had to). I saw a performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons while in Venice. It was awesome. In Paris, our room was on the top floor. Three windows, three spectacular views – The Eiffel Tower (Brian got me to the top. Considering my fear of heights, that was a feat, but I had to – PARIS! EIFFEL TOWER!), Sacre Coeur, and just an awesome view (2 out of 3 ain’t bad!) We celebrated our 2nd anniversary while in Switzerland (I’m still waiting for him to top that one… Hm. I wonder if he’s waiting for me to top it…)
The next near perfect vacation was a cruise we took in December 2008. We started planning it, with his parents, in 2007. We did it much like we did the Europe trip, setting back a certain part of our paycheck and paying on it little by little. Taylor was in Kindergarten and we had to get permission from the school to have her out for a whole week. Part of the cruise entertainment included a group from Second City. If you’ve ever seen Whose Line Is It, Anyway – THAT. I got the pleasure of getting on stage with them too. Taylor absolutely loved the kids’ area. Funny aside: I managed to leave my room key in the room a couple of times. In order to get back in, I’d run to the kids’ area to borrow Taylor’s. She’d see me and get upset because she thought I was coming to get her. “No no no! I just need to borrow your key!” A fun trip, but I have two regrets from it. First, I didn’t go to the Mayan ruins. I really wish I had and hope to get the chance again. Second, in Belize, we had to take a smaller boat to shore. I have a pretty major fear of water, especially water that has things in it that could eat me. I had held it together on the boat ride, but then while getting off this little boat and onto the pier, I lost it – one little crack between the boat and the pier. Brian said, “You’re not going to fall through that.” I said, “There is nothing rational about fear!” A thick Belizean accented voice said, “C’mon baby, I got you” and this dark, strong hand reached out to help me. I never looked up to see who belonged to the voice.
Oddly enough, our excursion for that stop was cave tubing. Floating on an intertube through caves. Remember that fear of water? Yeah, that was fun. I focused on the surroundings and how beautiful it was and got the tour guides tickled at me at one point. Taylor was crying for me and I finally said, “Taylor. In the water… trust me. You want your DADDY!” The smaller rivers were low and the phrase we walked away with was, “Butts up!” – in order to get through the more shallow water, we had to raise up on the intertube as much as possible. This raised us up in the water and kept us from scraping the bottom (and from scraping our bottoms).