Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Stamp is Worth a Thousand Words

A good trip, an adventure outside of my normal living zone, something to anticipate, work toward, save up for, and dream's tantamount to my personal happiness and fulfillment; I've been a blissful sufferer of wanderlust since I was a kid.

But alas, the time has now come...ten years, twenty-one countries, one visa, twenty stamps, and six international trips later, it's time for my faithful passport to retire and to get a new one.

That little booklet was my ticket to making many memories over the years...

I've eaten fondue in Switzerland--the country's national dish. I've tasted the worst pizza ever, in Rome, from a cart outside of the Coliseum. I tried schnitzel and sacher torte in Vienna. I sipped champagne at a Chopin piano concert in Warsaw and tasted vodka for the first--and only--time in St. Petersburg. I've eaten at Hard Rock Cafes in London, Paris, Moscow, and Madrid.

I've cruised down the Rhine River, looking at castles on the hills, and ridden on a gondola through the Grand Canal in Venice. I've played on the Moscow and Barcelona metros. I took an overnight ferry across the Baltic Sea to from Germany to Finland. I've ridden a horse-drawn cart through the Irish countryside and an overnight train from St. Petersburg to Moscow. I've used countless buses, trains, and taxis.

I paid 2 Swiss francs in Liechtenstein to get my passport stamped at the visitor's bureau. I spent €8 for a coke in Florence and €40 for a T-shirt at the Moulin Rouge. I paid 10,851 roubles to make an hour-long phone call from St. Petersburg to Orange County...that's over $300 U.S. dollars. (Yikes!) I bowled a 118 at an underground bowling alley in Bordeaux, France, and it cost €3.40. I've been to Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross station in London. I wasn't allowed to use the bathroom in the Monte Carlo casino in Monaco because I wasn't 21.

I've stayed in some nosedive hotels, like the Regent Palace in London (it sounds nice, right?!). I stood in the pouring rain for forty minutes waiting to get into the Vatican. I stayed in a cockroach-infested hotel in Belarus and one of the most-bombed hotels in Europe (in Belfast). In the Dominican Republic, we found an unexpected house guest--a tarantula! I almost got hit by a car in Russia. My credit card was declined while I was in London and I never did get that Rosetta Stone backpack from the British Museum. In an Irish castle, a spider came down from the rafters and landed in my dinner.

I've seen the Elgin Marbles at the British Museum, chatted with Mona Lisa at the Louvre, and marveled at the tiny size of the Venus of Willendorf at the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna, which is considered by some to be the "world's first work of art." In Toledo I saw El Greco's masterpiece, the Burial of Count Orgaz, and saw the sparkling Faberge eggs at the Kremlin Museum in Moscow. I couldn't stop looking at Michelangelo's Pieta in St. Peter's, the most beautiful sculpture in the world. I saw one of my favorite paintings at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg--Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal Son. I've seen Vermeer's Milkmaid at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I never looked down for more than a minute while I was in the Sistine Chapel.

I'm so sad that I have to get a new passport and start all over! I don't want an empty, pristine passport...they're for amateurs. I guess I can stomp on my new one and wear it in a little bit before I use it...I wonder what my first new stamp will be...and when!

1 comment:

Michal said...

O no!! Can't they just change your bio page and add some stampable pages to your old passport instead? They should make that possible!

Not to be a downer.... but I used to always LOVE passport stamps as well... now.. not so much: one of them has a big fat date "June 28, 2010" in red bright ink staring at me and it screams at me: 'Date current visa expires'.

I don't want no stamps no more... I want a green little card ;)

Soon, hopefully, very soon ;)