As we leave Israel tomorrow, I feel like the adventure shifts. Till now, Morocco is the only new country I've visited but from now on, most places are new to me. Turkey has been on my bucket list for a long time and after our visa rejection there a few years ago, I've been excited about going back (or going for the first time). Hopefully we'll have no problems entering the country tomorrow and I'll finally get to stroll through the ancient market and the gorgeous Hagai Sofia. Wish us luck!
Several people we have met on this trip have asked, "What's your favourite place so far?" That's always tricky. I sometimes feel it's like a parent trying to answer, "Who's your favourite child?" We have had so many fascinating experiences that it's hard to pick just one memorable place.
If the question was, "What have you loved so far?" I'd have to say the people. We have had some wonderful visits with people who have really enriched this trip. Our stay at Jean-Paul and Sophie's in Belgium was a fantastic experience, then we were welcomed into several Dutch homes, and finally we had memorable visits with family in Switzerland. Each of these hosts fed us, toured us around, shared stories and experiences that put a wonderful human element into our experience. I'll always be very grateful for their hospitality.
Since Switzerland we've had the Bruces visit, which was a tonne of fun - we are so grateful they joined us. We have otherwise been roaming as a family unit in and out of cities and towns. The truth is, being anonymous is fun for a while, especially after public life, but even here in Israel, no one really cares if we're here or not. We've had some pleasant chats with servers at restaurants, but other than that, we are just one in a million roaming the streets. It's a bit weird when no one cares who you are. Here grocery shopping is quick, but I'll admit I miss the hour long grocery shops that are required to get through the stores in Haliburton or Ottawa - there are just so many familiar people to chat with that it's a relief the store keeps the ice cream near the check out counter, or mine would always be melted. So you many be thinking I'm terribly homesick; well not terribly, but a little. I do miss the quick and long chats with family, friends and aquaintances. Email is just not the same.
The kids are still handling the journey well. Molly and George both miss their social lives too. We continue to try to be their 'friends' on the road and fill some of the void for them.
It's interesting to see the kids grow on this trip. They don't see it, but I do. They are maturing and becoming so worldly. I truly hope they remember some of this! If not the details, then at least the gist of things. I'd especially like them to comprehend that it doesn't matter where you go in this world, people are just people. We generally have similar needs and desires underneath all our visual differences.
So just for the record, I'm still having fun, I'm still glad we came, I still think this is worthwhile for our kids, I still enjoy my husband's company, and I still want to keep exploring. The trip is half over and that is hard to believe!
I'll miss Israel when we leave. It has been an experience so rich in history that it's hard not to have an emotional connection to this holy place. I'd still like to come back for a month one day. Do I say that about every place?