No your eyes do not deceive you. There’s no travel vlog to see here, though I hope you find a nice surprise in its place. If you’re new round these parts then WELCOME and for those who’ve been with me since way back it’s lovely to have you here again. So let’s settle in, get comfy and take a trip or two back in time as I introduce you to my number one travel buddy.
For those of you who joined the Tales of Adventure family after seeing travel vlogs or trip round-ups you’ve probably seen this person pop up from time to time. I am of course talking about my lovely Mum, Astrid.
Our relationship hasn’t always run smoothly – I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise for being a shit waaaaaay beyond my teens – but now that I’m older I’m so pleased we’ve grown to be the best of friends. During the course of this post I’ll tell you why my Mum – and maybe yours, too – is the best travel partner of them all.
I suppose the beginning is as good a place as any to start. As you would imagine I’ve known my Mum my whole life. Talk about stating the obvious but stick with me for a moment here. Mum has been with me for all of life’s highs and lows and has seen me at my best and, of course, my worst. We just get each other. We’re totally comfortable in one another’s company in a way that supersedes travelling with another friend or significant other. One will never knowingly allow the other to go out committing crimes against fashion, however much these pictures may argue otherwise.
This may, (or may not) surprise you but I haven’t always been the best of travel companions. I was a pretty difficult teenager to be around. Not in the pinching-lipsticks-from-Boots or sneaking-out-at-night-to-meet-wee-lads-behind-bike-sheds kind of ways but boy could I throw a strop when I wanted to. Usually over nothing in particular.
And still my Mother took me on holiday with her. (Dad usually stayed home to look after the dog and, as a Musician, Summer was the best time to pick up work.) I was very self-conscious and hesitant of trying new things, even though I was secretly dying to inside. But mum always saw through the act and encouraged me to be curious, always giving new things a go first. Now I’m older I’ve embraced this thing I railed against so much when I was young. At University we kept the trips up until, right before my Finals, life threw us a curveball.
Dad was diagnosed with leukaemia in the Summer between my first and second year of University. His condition was quite up and down during the final two years of my degree and I’d try to get home as often as I could. During the Easter break of my final year he was admitted to hospital to regulate his temperature. I came home and each day we went to the hospital to visit and at the end of my fortnight’s break I went back to prepare for my Finals. One morning, after a rough night with the books, I woke to find I hadn’t received my regular message from Mum to make sure I was up and out. I had a knot in my belly that twisted and turned as I checked my phone every 5 seconds.
I muddled my way through a Spanish presentation that counted toward my final mark – something about food? Fishing? So irrelevant now. 11am, still no message. I called Dad’s ward, heart-in-mouth. A nurse answered and I explained who I was and asked after Dad. …Silence. Hello? And then the words I knew were coming but wasn’t ready for: I think you need to come now. So I did (thanks to a friend whose kindness in my hour of need I’ll never forget) and in the 48 hours that followed my – and Mum’s -world – collapsed.
Some time in the months that followed the dynamic of our relationship began to shift. In her grief my incredible Mum began to doubt herself and it was my turn to encourage her. I suggested we travel together again. We started off slowly with a girls’ trip to London where we walked the legs off ourselves and rewarded our exertions with pre-theatre drinks. We took an ill-fated trip to New York where a horrendous case of bed bugs meant we saw the waiting room of St Vincent’s hospital more than we saw the Empire State Building. We soaked up the sun in Portugal where Astrid – lifelong nemesis of all things fishy – tried seabass and loved it. She even drove on the wrong (yet correct) side of the road in Spain.
All our trips – the good and the less good (NYC, my side-eye is aimed at you) – have strengthened our friendship and allowed us to make such special memories we’ll treasure for the rest of our lives. In the months after we lost Dad something clicked and we realised that life is short and we need to grab it with both hands. There are times when we travel that I’ll catch Mum’s eye and know we’re both thinking the same thing – Dad would have loved this. So it’s up to us now to experience the bits of the world he didn’t see on his behalf and squeeze the pips out of every gift life sends our way.
Last year we went to Prague – a city I had visited several times before. I introduced Mum to AirBnB and she’s totally converted to it now. It was such a treat to experience the city through fresh eyes and I realised I didn’t know the place as well as I had thought after all. On Mum’s suggestion we bought tram tickets, travelling back and forth seeing the areas we’d never normally see on foot. Gorgeous, ornate buildings in the City Centre contrasted sharply with the concrete apartment blocks further out.
In the Summer we went to Berlin and had a blast, exploring the city on land and on water. I love that Mum has thirty more years of travel under her belt than I do so when she says we should do a boat tour I don’t disagree. We saw the sights from a totally different angle while also catching locals relaxing by the waterside on their lunch breaks. It was nice to see ordinary life going on around us. In return I shared my love of silly faces in photo booths and we captured the spirit of our trip in 8 black and white stills that I keep on my fridge.
If you’d told my po-faced, teenage self that I’d have this much fun with my Mum on holiday I’d not have believed you. I may even have rolled my eyes. But today I cherish the travels we’ve shared and I really look forward to seeing more of the world together.
Who is your favourite person to travel with? I’d love to know. My new microphone arrived today so you’ll be able to see the remainder of that trip to Prague I was telling you about on Sunday. In the meantime you can catch up on part one here.
Until next time,