I just returned from a short week in Iceland, my 21st time there with a mix of business and pleasure. And, weather did play a part last week, as all flights were cancelled due to weather in and out. I guess I am legal now, and we will see when next, I will return, but the experiences I had, exploring South Iceland, and East Iceland, a place I had not been in probably 20 years were wonderful and both experiences offered some new things I had not experienced before. I also did my routine of exploring Reykjavik itself, but I had a different feel. Don’t get me wrong, I love Iceland, and absolutely enjoyed connecting and reconnecting with people and even doing a little bit of people watching, but the vibe was different, not the country, but for me. I know I will return, but I don’t feel the urgency to do so, as my priorities have changed. As Bob Dylan sang, The Times They Are A-Changin' and my focus is different.
It is funny that when people have asked me what my favorite place was, it was always, without hesitation, Iceland and even as many times as I have been there, I still have new places to explore, people to meet and experiences to have, but that was BR, before Rosa and since meeting her, almost 3 years ago now, with our 3rd “anniversary coming up in February, my favorite place is with her, wherever that may be. The excitement of being in Iceland was very much tempered, and very noticeable to my colleagues and I hope that someday, she will come to Iceland with me, so I can see the country through her eyes and get a new and different perspective. One, as I had when she came to America last February, seeing many places I had seen before and some new, but definitely through her eyes. I learned much and also about myself. Most importantly, it solidified my feelings, but I think everyone knew that.
Another event happened this week, and again, I am comfortable with this and as I mentioned about a month ago, the last days at the Christmas Tree Shops were going to happen and, well, Saturday was my last day, mutually agreed upon, but as an old school guy, I had given plenty of written notice, so another chapter, this a mini chapter of about 1 ½ years is done. Not being around much and this pattern continuing as you will see in the next few months, it only made sense. I had thought about staying on for two weeks beyond my return from Iceland, but now, I have my total focus on my business and my future. No regrets and frankly, quite relieved. I was there for a time and for a reason and it was time to move on, it was only a matter of time and that time was now.
It is amazing to me how things sometimes come about and I have been lucky that many of the pieces of my future are falling into place. Yes, there will always be bumps in the road and my ultimate goal is to permanently be across the pond. I expect it will be this year, but if not, I will continue my nomadic life, which has become the norm and continue this way. I want to focus on my life and my business. I want to maximize my experiences and of course, be with Rosa as much as possible, so since I did not want to wait three months more, I am heading to see her in February, and March and April and beyond I am sure. I am also excited to say that she will be joining me on the Danube River cruise in March, so I am very excited about that. I am very much at peace with everything that has happened already this year and we are only three weeks into the year. What happens going forward, we shall see, but I have a plan.
I was not sure what to write about this week, as it was not really a week full of anything special, but really every week is special. Business is moving briskly and a week from now, I leave for the Land of Fire and Ice, so definitely looking forward to that. Even more importantly, and perhaps, a snap decision, but really not a decision at all, was going to Europe. What, you say, we know you are going to be there again, and again and again. Well, yes, that is true and that was to be in March and April, next, and that is still happening, but I can’t wait three months to see her, and so, knowing that I applied for a conference in Copenhagen in February, and had not even set up the plans for it yet, including air, hotel etc., because I was so busy working on my valued client’s travels, I knew it was an opportunity to return to Rome, if only for a few days and then go on to Copenhagen for the conference, and so, I jumped on it. Any chance I get, and I will go for it.
February, also, is the month we met, just before Covid and the closing of the continent and the world. She and I met, when she was my guide at the Borghese, almost three years ago and if you remember this last February, she came to America, and we spent three weeks together, and celebrated that special day. Since she was not able to come here next month, it was a no brainer and the other day, I told her, don’t be surprised if I show up on your doorstep. She then said, so you booked a ticket and at that point, I actually had not, but that night, I did, and I will be on my way, and this breaks up, what would have been more than three months and that is way too long. Besides, not being with her di persona on the 3rd anniversary of our meeting in that crazy year of Covid, was not going to happen. This little weeklong trip will be a repeat of the time we had together, that first time in Rome, and yes, then I went on to Copenhagen, but really, I just want to be with Rosa.
In less than a few weeks, the Wandering Puffin returns to the Land of Fire and Ice and back to Europe proper in the month of March and part if not all of April, so much to look forward to and yes, I will be with Rosa during March and April, among other events and a few Hard Rocks to start that crazy experience again. Travel, as you all know is in my blood and I believe it will never change, business and personal, and as last year fared, the balance between business and personal has continued, and will for the foreseeable future. My future is across the pond and working towards that. This past week, even with the winter blues, business has once again exploded, and the good feelings of 2022 have reached into 2023 and I am very excited about that.
The many adventures I had this past year, solidified a lot of plans I have for this year, God willing and ending up in Europe, specifically, Italy and you all know why. I learned so much this past year, about myself, my business, and my relationship and all are intertwined in this crazy thing we call life. It was wonderful to have a balance in all these aspects of my life as I had never had before and the relationship grew, even more, especially when I lived in Rome this past summer. It only strengthened my resolve to be there on a more permanent basis. She keeps asking if I really want to live in Italy and I said yes, but it is not because it is Italy, but because it is you and wanting to be with you. I also learned a great deal about myself this past year as I also downsized my life and realized that the things are not a part of it, and I have not missed all those things.
2022 was also a banner year for business and I believe it exceeded 2019, which was the banner year before Covid. I will leave that to my accountant and his team to let me know, but I know that business was good and continues to be. It also allowed me to travel and spend as much time with Rosa as possible, both here in the US and in Italy. Yes, this past year was the first time she had come to the states and our 3 weeks together, and at that time, the uncertainty of the Covid tests, still here, to enter the country, we still on the minds of many, including myself when it was still in place, and many of my clients. I impacted some, and others passed the “test”. Rosa did and that part is history and our time here together. Of course, I lived in Rome this summer and returned in November when I did a whirlwind business and fun trip to the UK, not once, not twice, but three times on two different trips. Also, Portugal, Spain, France and of course, Italy.
As both my admin and one of my clients are huge Hard Rocks, so added to the t-shirt collections, I wrapped some of my travels around that and in the end, I had reached many of them and the count continues, but to date, I have been to 80 Hard Rock entities be it cafes, hotels, rock shops and more to come this year. I explored new places in Europe and even went to a Vikings game against the New Orleans Saints in London. Yes, London and I have not ever been to US Bank Stadium and probably won’t ever. I went to Newcastle and explored Hadrian’s Wall, a first, to Gorizia and Trieste and the Cinque Terre. I went to Milan, Bojano and La Spezia. I went to Verona and Venice, some places for the first time and some were return trips. I went to Malaga and Valencia, where I had never been, and returned to Lyon and Nice. I went to Turin for the first time and places like Porto, where I had not been to in many years, and Lisbon, where it had been at least 20 years, as well as Madrid and Seville. And, I can’t forget back in April, spending time in Barcelona and the Catalonian countryside and my group with whom I traveled. So much fun and then Rosa came to Barcelona for a few days, before we parted ways, but it shortened up the time between seeing each other.
I also met some amazing people along the way at the various venues and the Hard Rocks, Tottenham Stadium, the taxi driver that showed me the area of Hadrian’s wall. Sorry the name escapes me and Slimmy, and the people of the Porto Hard Rock and Emanuele at Tenuta Winery, as well as Cinzia and Bryan of Timeless Tuscany. Thank you. Also, all of Rosa’s friends and acquaintances on trips to Italy last year, including those I tutored, to secure my certification to teach English as a Foreign Language, Elisabeta and Manu, which opens more possibilities to gaining residency in Italy and being with Rosa. Getting to finally meet Rosa’s momma in person for the first time and Pamela, one of her sisters this past year in person. Hopefully, in 2023, I will meet Manuela in person. And thank you to Pepe, who picked me up in Madrid and took me to Toledo and the most amazing hot air balloon ride which I will not forget. So many people I met this past year that made 2022, so special for me and while I go through my moments and ups and downs, I have no regrets about this past year even with all the bumps in the road.
In the end, I want to thank each person I met, including clients I met in person for the first time, not here in the states, but, in Rome, colleagues, some new, some a renewed connections like Pedro, Maria and Vitor. It was so nice to finally connect since the pandemic. It was the most amazing year of my life both personally and professionally and have no plans on stopping any time soon. The more I write this post, the more I am remembering of how amazing and crazy 2022 was, but in the end, the most amazing year of my life and probably the most balanced when all is said and done. I was free of clutter and that was nice. I was able to conduct business from anywhere to anywhere, so to all who read this blog post, a milestone post, I am here for you and not going away anytime soon. If I have forgotten to thank anyone for this past year, thank you, or forgotten events that happened, and not noted here, of course, you can read the past blog posts on my website, www.wanderingpuffin.com and you can put in your requests for your future travels on my contact page.
Lastly, and most importantly, 2022 does not happen without the person I must thank more than anyone, Rosa. Without her in my life, and as we approach knowing each other for 3 years, this coming February, I don’t know where I would be. You have helped me find peace and a balance as I have never had and when I am down, and there have still been times, you are there for me as I have tried to be there for you. With the craziness of the world and what you and I have been through, I thank you for everything you have done and for the strength you show, even with adversity all around and our crazy relationship. The times we had together in 2022 were extraordinarily special including all the places we explored together here in America and all over Italy, as well as the very ordinary times we spent together, whether cooking together, just hanging out, taking walks and simply being a “boring” couple which, for me, were the best times, including simply sleeping in or going to the local markets. All I can hope for is that our relationship continues to grow in 2023 as we move forward and where it will take us.
To everyone whose path has crossed mine in this last 12 months and beyond, happy new year, stay safe, stay healthy and as always, thank you for your support of my crazy little world and of my small business. It is truly appreciated, and as always, I am interested in your thoughts, comments, questions and adding to the discourse is always appreciated be in on the site itself or on Facebook or wherever you read this!!!
Weathering the Storm with the Wandering Puffin