As I mentioned, I had attended a conference called Britain – Ireland Marketplace in London last week and it was simply a one-day event for me, but I am not flying to Europe only for one day. However, the meetings I had were for the most part very useful and have started doing some business with some of the people with whom I met. I even had told one of my clients that we would hold off on their plans, specifically to Scotland, as I had some potential meetings that would directly relate to their travels and this turned out to the case, or I believe they will. This is the point of my attending such events, as I am moving closer and closer to working more and more with the locals, as they can provide more unique experiences.
Most of the time when I write these posts, it is about the week past or some major event. That would be fine, but, other than the usual suspects, working on travels for clients, to a varied number of destinations, there really was nothing out of the ordinary. And that is fine, because what is ahead of me is much more important than what has happened in the past. Of course, I continued to work on the technicalities of my future as they relate to my impending ex-pat status, and it is getting very real. Many things are getting very real, and they all revolve around a beautiful lady across the pond.
When last week, we came to the 30-day mark before the wedding, everything became very real, not that it was not already. I knew it and so did she, but it was the first time that Rosa openly talked about a countdown. While I have been counting down for a while in my excitement to be with her, I think since we were last together in October, it hit us both, how real this was becoming. I am sure that anyone and everyone who has done this, getting married that is, which are an infinite number of people over millennia, the thoughts running through my head, and I would imagine, hers have been all over the place. She has her responsibilities to do before the wedding and I have my things. Fortunately, having the business keeps me grounded as much as possible. I am, for the first time, openly nervous, knowing that my life is going to change forever, but for sure, a move in a positive direction and I have no regrets.
As most of you know, I left Minnesota a while ago and handle business from different places here in America, but also when I am in Europe or other places around the world in which I have traveled, especially more recently. Last week, however, was an experience that I had never encountered, at least not to the extent that it was this past weekend. For the record, I have been in the eye of a hurricane, been shaken out of bed during an earthquake and huddled into the basement of a restaurant in which I worked decades ago back in Minnesota as a tornado ripped through parts of the Twin Cities. I had never, experienced to the extent it happened, a flashflood.
I don’t recommend any of the above, and certainly not hanging around for the event to happen. When I am in the states these days, I live about 2 blocks off the Atlantic Ocean here in New Hampshire from which I conduct business and live modestly until next month I am married and ultimately become an expat later this year. Don’t worry, the business is and still will be in operation. Besides, being in the heart of the action to arrange amazing adventures for valued clientele is important, but back to literally weathering the storm. I had been told that this area was prone to flooding and I have seen sections of roads closed due to marsh waters loosely connected via streams etc., to the ocean.
As you know, I was in SE Asia over the holidays, or perhaps, if you consider the whole month of December, I had been on the back end of my travels to Botswana and then with some time in between been to Vietnam and Cambodia, so really the holidays and New Years, were really dates on a calendar. No parties, no festivities, just doing what I wanted to do during that time, as the old year ended, and the new year began. This past week was a mix of the winter blues in a way, and the excitement of the future along with a major case of jetlag, as I realized the clock had turned and I could no longer speak of next year, as next year had arrived. And wow, I am not sure I was ready, but I had to be.
I was also looking back on when I started writing this blog post at the beginning of the pandemic and the reasons why. Of course, there was no business at the time, as travel had essentially ceased to exist after having had such a wonderful 2019 business year. Who knew what was in store, but we all certainly found out. I started writing this blog to tell people that I was still around and when we could travel again, I was going to be there. I also knew the tragedy of lives lost and businesses destroyed, but I wanted to be a support system for others, and not just in my industry, although that was the initial focus and, in the end, it was good for me, as well. It provided an outlet to show that I was not going to let that event stop me. I was going to push forward as I had worked too hard, with basically nothing and taking a chance to build the business that is well into its 17th year.
Really though, it was an absolutely amazing 2023 for me on many different levels and so for me, this post is a review of the past year, one that will forever change my life, as I got engaged last February to the most amazing lay and now this year, we are getting married. I also traveled between 4 continents, went to 4 new countries, Albania, Botswana and the previously mentioned Vietnam and Cambodia. Perhaps, not on one’s main list of places to experience, but ones that should be considered. I also did a bit of travel around the US this past year, perhaps doing the last road trips of any significance here in America, before I return to Europe in the long term, as my future is there with Rosa, and you will hear more moving forward. Rosa and I spent time in the UK together and caught Billy Joel at Hyde Park this past summer and then went to Brighton where she had gone to school.
I guess that before Rosa, my goal was to continue to “conquer” more countries, and then the pandemic happened, so travel early on was limited, and then I met her, and my focus changed. I also experienced new places like Jersey and Guernsey in the UK, and places in America I had not ever been like the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan. I went to York and to Hull in the UK, as well and more new places in Italy when I lived there this past summer. I even hit another Hard Rock in Siem Reap, so I still have more Hard Rocks under my belt that countries visited, but that is not as important now. I promised I would not count South Africa, even though I have the stamp in my passport twice (in and out), nor South Korea, another transited country. Of course, I could list them with an asterisk, but for now, my focus is elsewhere as I am now preparing for a very different future. Yes, there will be travel and Rosa does not want to stop that part of me, but we will do some travel together including our honeymoon in March.
Weathering the Storm with the Wandering Puffin