Posts tagged travel

No Regrets

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The holidays are a time for family, friends, food, gifts, and joy. Last year I got a friend a baby monitor because she was about to have a baby boy. But it’s also a time for reflection.

I learned an important life lesson at an early age about reflection from my beloved grandfather. He was Irish with dancing eyes and a great storyteller…he unfortunately had a lot of health challenges, but for most of his life he put on a “happy face” for me.

It wasn’t till I was 17 years old, and he was near the end of his life, that he said to me, “I wish I hadn’t been afraid to do so many things in my life.” That regret he felt and the longing and poignancy in his voice broke my heart and I vowed to live my life doing things that scared me…no regrets for me!

As a result, I’ve lived a full life -as a matter of fact, I feel like I’ve lived several lifetimes wrapped up into this one wonderful life.

As many of you know, my 2011 adventure was turning my passion for travel into a travel agency business…San Juan Capistrano Travel.  To me, travel is like food -a basic requirement for the fullness of life.

Whatever it is that makes your heart sing, I encourage you to do more of it in 2012.  Seeing new places, meeting new people, learning new things, loving and laughing more…whatever is important to you, vow to do it in 2012. Live a life of no regrets.

Best to you and your loved ones during this wonderful season!

Warmly,

Ann

Solo Travel: It Doesn’t Have To Be Lonely

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Between 2000 and 2006, I took three trips to Europe happily on my own. I drove all over Ireland, then journeyed to Venice & Florence and finally fulfilled a dream of going to Paris. Some things I learned:

Even though I was a fiercely independent traveler- in retrospect- I wish I would have done some parts of each trip as tours – a half day bus tour, a walking tour, maybe a guided tour of the Louvre. That would have given me an opportunity to meet some traveling companions and get the inside scoop from a knowledgeable guide.

I really do suck at learning languages. I wish I’d had a translator app and a smart phone! I did manage to learn a few useful phrases -it does go a long way in warming people up to you. I found an Irish pub in Paris (really!) filled with Aussies and some Brits so I got a dose of English most every night before heading back to my hotel. In Italy, I hung out in the centrally located piazzas every night -they’re always filled with people out for a stroll and socializing, sort of like hanging around Camino Capistrano in San Juan in the early evening – I almost always met someone who spoke English to chat with for awhile.

People in Ireland live up to the hype about Irish hospitality -pick one of the plentiful pubs -sit at the bar (even if you’re going to sip a soft drink) and in no time- you’ll find a friendly conversation. Riding the city tram in Dublin led to several enchanting conversations – I chatted with a group of teens who had me laughing so hard it hurt, or as they said, they put me “in stitches.” On another tram ride I enjoyed a lively conversation about my Kindle with a curious elder.
At the Dublin airport, waiting for my plane home, I met the “Seven Widows.” I had left a book, Anam Cara by John O’Donahue, on my barstool in a packed airport pub, hoping it would still be there when I got back from a restroom stop. When I got back to my seat, the Seven Widows were surrounding my stool, cooing over the book. Turns out they loved the author too. They told me their story: each was a widow and they traveled frequently together. They were on their way to the Canary Islands. They insisted I join them in drinking Guinness and blackberry brandy and in no time, we were truly Anam Cara which means “soul friends.”

The joys of traveling alone include doing what you want, when you want, while offering plenty of opportunities to meet new people -both fellow travelers and the locals. If you’ve been dreaming of traveling -don’t put it off because you’re single. Pick a destination, choose a date and start announcing to everyone you know that you’re going. Now you’re on the way to turning your travel dream into the experience of a lifetime!

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