The last three weeks have been so memorable, so out-of-the-ordinary. We traveled all over Vienna and Split with our little foursome on buses, trams, subways and car. Oh, and on our feet — logging so many steps every day it would have put us at the top for any FitBit challenge. We all walked and walked and walked! Even Ana, the intrepid world traveler, explored historic parks and toddled down ancient streets next to us when we had time to walk slowly. All in all she was a champ.
The air travel was plain hard, no way to sugarcoat that. She was not a fan of sitting still and she was overtired and didn’t sleep much. She did scream a lot. We bribed her with warm milk, cool water, tomato juice, pop, chocolate, cookies, apples, cheese, crackers, new toys, the air vents in the ceiling, peekaboo with the passengers behind us, our phones, my purse, my wallet, and my keys. We medicated her. And still there were many hours of misery for everyone. But we made it and all the planes landed eventually! I’m looking forward to never traveling in a plane with her again until she’s able to swear that she’ll behave nicely.
Really, though, she did as well as we expected. And once we got settled into our room in Vienna she was a pretty great kid for the whole trip. We all struggled with jet lag and middle-of-the-night crying for about a week but during the day she took naps, went on adventures with us, and ate mostly whatever we were eating. She made friends with strangers everywhere. She was fearless and curious about everything, and she loved walking on her own to discover new things. We followed her around Vienna and Split and watched her make people smile as she greeted everyone brightly. “Hi! Hi!”
Good Cop was an amazing travel partner, for real. He got Ana calm more than a few times on the planes and he took all the changes and new experiences in stride. I knew he would be great. He loved seeing all the history and the different ways of doing things. I think it was a pretty good first trip to Europe, especially since he got to see both a cool-blooded well organized city and a warm-blooded very relaxed city. I love traveling with him for all the memories we make and for all the extra time we have together. (However, the 24-7 with Anastasia for two whole weeks in close quarters was a bit draining and we were so happy to have a date when we got home! Thanks, Mom!)
For me it was fantastic to revisit Split and meet up with my old friends again. I had prepared myself to feel like an outsider since it’d been so long since I lived there, and since I’ve changed so much again in the last four years of being a wife and mom. But it just felt good. After being in Vienna for three days and not understanding the language or having a good idea of how the city was laid out, I felt so much freedom when we landed in Split. I knew how to get where we were going, I could communicate with people, and I knew where we were all the time. It was great! But then to be able to talk with friends every day and get caught up on the last five years — that was awesome. Everyone has changed, obviously, but there wasn’t one friendship that felt awkward or strained. Facebook helps with that, I’m sure. But it also helps that I got to know some of the most amazing people in Split when I lived there.
Being 7-9 weeks pregnant on the trip added an interesting layer. I was so exhausted by 8 pm, and usually asleep before 9. That helped with the jet lag. Thankfully the nausea backed off a little while we were there and I didn’t feel too yucky as long as I kept eating snacks and had big meals a couple times a day. (As soon as we got home it got a lot worse. I think God was answering prayers for a good trip!) There are some great foods to crave in Europe! One particular sandwich was amazing. I wish we could replicate it here. But aside from being wiped out and having to pace ourselves more than usual, it wasn’t bad. I’m glad we got to tell some friends in person. That was fun! And it really helped this first trimester fly by; in just a few days we’ll have our 11-week ultrasound and then finally we can tell everyone here! I’m really looking forward to that. It’s nice that we can tell this baby that they were on this trip with us.
It is so good to be home. That was something I took away from this trip: that we’re in the right place for this season of life. It was right to visit and encourage our friends, and it’s right for us to be here in our current jobs for now. I think the biggest benefit from being there is knowing how to pray for each of them now. There’s only so much you can gather from a prayer letter or Facebook posts. It’s so different to be in the same room, face to face. Since we got home a week ago I’ve been thinking of each of them more often and it’s nice to know what they have on the calendar, what their daily schedule is like, or what kind of needs they have right now. I don’t know when we’ll be able to be together again but it was a gift to have this experience!