Sunday, September 20, 2009
This week my parents took their first trip to Europe. It was so funny, my sister and I, who have both been abroad a few times, were fussing over them like we were sending a couple of sheltered kids off to camp.
They were both born in Puerto Rico and have long wanted to visit Spain, the mother country of sorts, but there was always some reason - no time, too expensive, on and on. Though they would never admit it, I think they were a little apprehensive.
Earlier this summer my sister and I took a Mediterranean cruise, and it was all so easy, we knew this was exactly the kind of trip to break them into European travel. We sailed with Royal Caribbean, and all activities on the ship were conducted in English, the food was familiar to an American palate, and there were plenty of shore excursions led by knowledgeable guides. It's kind of Europe light - experiencing Europe from a safe and familiar base.
So when we returned my sister convinced them to go for it and helped them make all the arrangements. They're flying in two days before the ship leaves so that they can visit Barcelona, then they'll board the ship and head to Italy and France, then back to Barcelona.
They've flown all over the US and Caribbean, but this was the longest plane trip they would take and we could see they were nervous. My mother was chattering away non-stop and my dad was constantly whistling - two habits we've learned to recognize over the years as signs of nervousness from them. My sister saw them off on their grand adventure.
The next evening she called me, nervous. They should have arrived hours before, but hadn't called as promised. Further, she'd been using an online flight tracker to follow their connecting flight, and it showed it taking off from Brussels, but hours after the flight should have arrived the tracker still listed it as en route. I reassured her, but we're our mother's daughters and worrying runs in the family. I swear if there's nothing to worry about, we'll come up with something. So before long I had worked myself into a worry and even though it was 1:30 in the morning in Spain, decided to call their hotel and see if they had checked in. I reached the desk attendant and he assured me that they had checked in and asked if I wanted to be connected to their room, but I said no, I didn't want to wake them.
The next morning they called to tell us the flight had gone fine, and they were having a great time. Of course. We're so silly. Coincidentally, my dad's cousin and his wife are in Barcelona at the same time, and they had arranged to meet, so they even have another couple to hang out with. Today they board the ship - I'm sure these will be memories they'll hold forever.