I have been so very thankful for my garden over the last nineteen months, and I know that many of you have felt similarly.  Whether you wanted to hide away from the world, or get back in touch with the beautiful and inevitable processes of the natural world to find grounding; our gardens – be they patios, suburban lots or five houseplants on top of an end table – provided a great deal of respite and hope to people all over the world as we navigated the global pandemic.

 

 

Travel, particularly international travel, has been severely curtailed over this period; but as we end this season and start dreaming of the next one, it is deeply gratifying to watch the world beginning to open up again.

 

travelThus I was thrilled to be asked to join a European river cruise in the spring of next year by the travel group RGE Travels – and I very much hope you will consider joining me.

A New Adventure

It is a trip that will begin in my favorite city in the world – London (I’m a little biased as it’s my ‘university town’) – and travel via Eurostar to Amsterdam to witness the magical display of eight million flowering bulbs at Keukenhof, which has been a bucket list item for me (and for many) all these years.

We will then wind our way through Holland and Belgium, experiencing the magic of European river cities from the comfort of the 5-star Scenic Lines cruise ship, the Scenic Pearl.

As an added bonus, the end of the trip has been timed to coincide with the appearance of Floriade – the vast horticultural exhibition that happens only once every ten years!

Jumping Back Into Travel

A river cruise is a new, extremely exciting experience for me.  Much of my early life’s travel has been figuring it all out on my own, and often day-by-day. And while I heartily recommend adventures like those, a customized tour is a wonderful way to inch back into the joys of international travel, knowing that there are so many people whose everyday mission is to make that experience a safe and enjoyable one.

To eat breakfast staring out on some of the great cities of Europe, to experience those cities via bike or walking tour, and then to sit on a floating balcony in the evening having a drink as the evening silhouette of a historic city is revealed…bliss!

The last European “cruise” I enjoyed was sailing on an overnight ferry at 11pm from Brindisi to Patras. We could only afford deck accommodation, where we jumped up and down wearing every layer from our backpacks to keep our young bodies warm.  Good memories, but I’m not adverse to a bit more luxury these days!

 

city mouse restaurants

Me, at nineteen, making 40 Francs last all day. And it did.

 

I’m looking forward to meeting with people who love to travel as much as I do, and who are hungry to venture out into the world again.  We’ll have plenty of time to get to know each other during cocktail hours or dinners on board the ship, on tours of gardens like Kew and Keukenhof, and, if you get up early enough in the morning, when you catch me jogging on board (not to keep warm this time)!

I cannot wait to once again bring the element of global inspiration into my dreaming and scheming, and to set aside the books, magazines and websites for the real thing – and I so very much hope you’ll join me. There are limited places on this RGE Travels tour, which are likely to fill up fast – you can find the itinerary and booking information here.

About RGE Travels

A huge bonus for me on this trip is that it is being expertly run through RGE Travels, which is an independent travel company run by US Military Veterans from headquarters in Florida. The company makes a point of donating part of each fare to wounded warrior projects and charities in the United States, which, as the wife of a Gulf War veteran, and the mother of an Air Force crew airman, makes me very happy.  They are enthusiastic travelers, and wish to encourage others to access that sense of wonder by creating extraordinary travel experiences for them. This comes through in every conversation we have had about this trip.

Bottom line: We’re in good hands.

One Last Thought

And perhaps it’s uncomfortable.

I very much recognize that international travel feels like a literal ‘undiscovered country’ at the moment.  Even at the best of times, it is few people who allow themselves to get into what I think of as ‘the habit’ of travel, and as we all know, until a habit is well-formed it is easy to break.

For those of us who managed to get that habit back up and running (hey, it takes effort!), we just had it broken for us.

Thanks COVID.

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A view out over the Thames and the Houses of Parliament. Big Ben has been in scaffolding for five years, but is due to come out of wraps prior to the summer of 2022!

 

It’s also easy to think that travel is something that other people with more time, energy and resources do. Not you. Not now.  Does this sound familiar?

I speak from my own experience and my observance of many people in wildly varying economic and social situations when I say that this has less to do with those things and almost everything to do with state of mind.

Though there are periods in our life when travel is truly out of the question (the toddler years of my second child made the idea of a fun jaunt a living nightmare 😊), I have found that it is human nature (including mine!) to very quickly allow that place to become our everyday, easier, way of thinking.

It’s not until we allow ourselves to prioritize the incredible benefits of travel that we realize just how much we’ve been missing. And an organized tour takes a great deal of the worry out of the process, allowing us to dip our feet once again into this magical, wonderful world and its many cultural delights.

 

travel

Sneaking a few quiet moments along the Thames in a cafe in Richmond, just a quick stop from the incredible gardens at Kew.

 

Okay. Lecture over.  Back to excitement.

It’s going to be great.  Join me and launch back into life.  We’ve only got one.