Friday, July 16, 2010

Oh the Places You'll Go

"You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You're on you own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the (girl) who'll decide where to go."
~ Dr. Seuss

When I graduated from high school, my eldest brother gave me the book, "Oh the Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss. I thought it was such a clever and appropriate gift (and later learned that his then-girlfriend-now-wife suggested he buy it). It still resides on a bookshelf in my living room. Have you read it as an adult? If not, next time you are at the library or a book store, pull it off the shelf and spend 5 minutes reading it. You might be surprised how applicable this book is to an adult's life!

If you someone had told the 18 year old version of myself that in the 10 years to come, I would have visited 2 other continents and a total of 8 countries outside of North America, I never would have believed it! Now, I know that there are many others who have seen far more of the world than I have, but considering the fact that I had never stepped on a plane at the age of 18, it's somewhat impressive that I saw so much in those 10 years after graduating from high school.

So why am I thinking about my past travels?

Well, my passport will expires on my birthday this year. The fees to obtain and renew a passport increased by $35 on Tuesday, so I decided to renew my passport this week. I'll be needing a valid passport for a trip in 2011... More to come on that...

Before sending it off in the mail, I looked back over the stamps on the pages. Words can not explain how excited I get over passport stamps. My friend Brooke loves to tease me about this! When we went to Europe together in 2004, on every train ride, I would excitedly ask,

"Do you think we'll get a stamp today?"

I know I will always have photos and memories from my trips, but there is something so nostalgic and timeless about a passport stamp. After looking through the stamps, I pulled out my old photos. I am not going to bore you with tons of vacation pics, but here are a few of my favorites.

Hiking in Mt. Cook National Park in New Zealand. New Zealand was by far the most beautiful country I have ever seen. And my word,I have never seen so many sheep! On this trip, I read that the sheep-to-people ratio in New Zealand is 10-1!

Queenstown, New Zealand is known as the adventure capital of the world. While there, I tandem para glided (pictured above) and bunjy jumped - two things I never thought I'd do. I have a video of bunjy jumping - I had to get it to prove to my parents that I did it as I knew they'd never believe that their chicken of a daughter would do that! I should figure out a way to get the VHS of that experience into a You Tube video. It's pretty interesting to watch...

In 2006, I visited a friend who was a Peace Corp volunteer in the Dominican Republic. We spent the first half of my trip in her campo where they did not have electricity. This trip was very eye opening as it made me realize how much of a spoiled American I am. I came back from this trip thankful for basic things like running water and electricity! In this picture, I am getting SCHOOLED in dominoes by these young girl. Oh vey, Latin Cultures ROCK at dominoes.

After spending a couple of days at my friend's compo, we headed to a beach resort where we seriously stayed in this little whole in the wall place for something like $10/night. I might have been worried about there being bed bugs... but it was across the street from the beach. After the heaviness of my experience at my friend's Peace Corp site, it was nice to end the vacation with some sun and relaxation.

This is the bridge in Prague - which is definitely the most beautiful bridge that I have ever seen - with Prague castle in the background. I am pretty sure my best friend Brooke took this picture because most of the pictures I took on this trip were blurry. Why? When we landed in Europe for this 10 day trip, I came down with a bug and I swear I have never been more sick in my life. It's really fun translating Bladder Infection into German... On top of that, I had a sinus infection and lost my voice. I was on so much cold medicine, I was literally shaking, hence the blurry photos. I was such a 'fabulous' travel partner, but we still made the most of it and had a wonderful time.

This post wouldn't be complete with a picture of the city that completely and utterly captured my heart in 2008. This is the city where I started blogging. This is the city where I finally broke free of the dark shadows of a difficult break-up that had happened earlier that year. This is the city where I discovered how much I enjoy traveling alone.

I can't wait to see what stamps I'll acquire in my new passport. I hope the next 10 years are as exciting and full of adventure as the past 10 have been. Next Friday, I'll share my exciting travel plans for 2011.

Do you have a passport? If so, do it have as many stamps as you thought it would at this point in your life. Even though I am happy that I have been to as many places as I have been, I do wish I had seen a bit more!


abbi said...

Those look like great trips! I'm a bit jealous. I got my passport little less than 2 years ago and it has one lonely stamp in it from Mexico. Hopefully, we'll add some more at some point!

Charbelle said...

I love this post! The pictures of you in New Zealand and Paris you look so gorgeous! The shot of you tandem para gliding, very cool!!! I've always wanted to try that!
Since most of my travels have been in North America I have lots of pictures but no stamps :)
Thank you so much for sharing these!!

Becky said...

You're so accomplished in traveling! I went to Canada (before you needed a passport) when I was younger, but otherwise I hadn't ever traveled internationally (via a plane) until last December for work. I definitely want to get out and travel more - the mister and I don't even have tourist passports! Oooh, can't wait to hear about your travel plans for next year! Those pictures are all so amazing!

Amber said...

We barely got ANY stamps on our trip! We got one when we flew into Amsterdam, and one when we flew out! THat's it.

So I have three stamps in my passport, haha. One from California in 2006, one from Germany in 2008 and one from Amsterdam in 2010. Ooooh, look at that trend, clearly I need to go on a big trip in 2012 again ;)

I really like this post - didn't know you went to the Dominican Republic! I REALLY want to go there!! I've heard its beautiful!

Ally said...

I don't have one. I was in Mexico and Canada before you needed to have a passport. I will have one before long though because I'm planning to have some kind of foreign traveling adventure within the next few years!

Marlys said...

You have traveled 10 times more than I have! We had a passport to fly into Puerto Rico for our cruise about 18 years ago, I believe! I do envy you all your travels but am so proud that you made it all happen! Great pictures and the video of the bungee jump was a must as I would never have believed you would do that! Would you do it again?

Mandy said...

You have seen and done some much in the past ten years!! My "international" experience is Canada and that was before one needed a passport to go. I really do need to obtain a passport and would love to use it. =)

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

Because my family started traveling internationally when I was still a teenager, I've had two passport books in my lifetime. And thinking back to all the places I've been, I consider myself lucky. That said, I still have a long list of places I'd like to travel ... one day. I'm excited for your 2011 plans - can't wait to hear about them!

Cherry Blossoms said...

I love looking thru all of my stamps as well.

Leigh said...

All of your trips sound fantastic! I love looking back at old trip pictures. I do have a passport, but do not have nearly as many stamps as I would like.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Emily Jane said...

WOW New Zealand sounds amazing - I have always wanted to go there! And paragliding is SO much fun hey!! Although I'm not sure I'd be able to bungee jump - skydiving maybe, but bouncing around on a cord upside down scares me a TAD too much! And I get excited about passport stamps too. I feel cheated when they don't stamp it :)

Lisa-Marie said...

I have one, and have had since I was 17, but there are no stamps on it, because everywhere I've gone has been within the EU.

I have all of the memories though!

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

Wow!!! You are quite the traveler!!! I haven't traveled out of the country as much as I would have liked to in my twenties but it's a MUST in my late twenties and thirties... seriously, it's not an option. ; )
I love that Dr. Seuss quote. I made it my FB status today . :)

Unknown said...

I never thought I would be able to say I have been to Europe six times in my life. However, I would like the opportunity to travel like you, WITHOUT being responsible for anyone but myself! Every trip abroad has been performance related and with 100 other people. I also ever thought I would be able to say I directed a choir at Mass at St. Peter's in Rome!!! I love to travel. Your pictures are incredible.

Kyla Roma said...

You've had such an incredible travelling career! I can't wait for you to hit the road for more adventures :)

You know where's really exotic? Manitoba. I swear.

Jess said...

I did an exchange to the Dominican Republic in high school and I will never, ever forget that country. What an incredible place. It sounds like our experiences were quite similar. I love it.

Travelling is amazing - lucky you for having so many opportunities!!

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

These are awesome photos! My dad has been to New Zealand a few times for work and raves about it. He usually does a lot of hiking and camping there in his down time. I'd love to visit someday!

Shoshanah said...

I love collecting passports stamps! I remember being in Europe and we drove from Italy to France and because of the European Union we didn't get a stamp. I was pretty disappointed that I wasn't able to add something new to my collection.

Kelly said...

AWESOME post and I also got that book when I graduated high school from my aunt who is a reading teacher :) I love it and I read it to my kindergarten kids ever year. I also love Passport stamps and I'd say I have more than I thought I would at this point in my life, especially since I got my passport when I was 19! I heard a rumor that you don't get to keep your passport after you renew it, is that true...because if so I might actually cry on the spot when I have to turn it in!