Back from Europe | Ramblings from Our First Day Home

After a month away, we got home late last night. This morning we’re already back to our regular routine. Funny how being away makes coming home fun, too. Making coffee and breakfast in our kitchen, playing morning Jeopardy, getting back on our bikes, and walking and jogging our same ol’ routes. It all seems extra special today. I’m grateful to be home after the flight, but I’m also not quite ready to let go of our trip. Really, I have so much to share with you guys! We did one of those whirlwind style Czech Republic-to-Spain trips that people either seem to love or hate the idea of. You already know on which side I fall.


I kid you not, I am doing my best to journal the trip. I counted 86 handwritten moleskin (What? Don’t roll your eyes. Moleskin notebooks make me happy) pages and I still have a week of back-journaling that I committed to finish up in the next day or two. These doesn’t include any of my recipe notes, my art gallery and museum notes, or our hand-drawn maps.

vienna wine garden

I know that one month of vacation is supposed to make people feel relaxed. Jet lag and stiff airplane neck aside, I do feel disconnected from the weight of all the things that were unnecessarily stressing me out before we left. I feel I’ve been gone a long time. Long enough to forget what work felt like. Long enough to feel that I was really gone.

churros y chocolate

I feel like I have a renewed perspective, but I feel far from relaxed. Not because our trip was ambitious in the amount of geography covered and the number of stops. Not because traveling is always a little bit of work (Jordan is sooo over hearing me reference the etymology of the word travel).

I’m not relaxed. Instead, I’m so freakin’ inspired. My brain has been thrown into curiosity overdrive.

I came home with no fewer than nine books (mostly used 2 Euro paperbacks, but I’m still thrilled), and that was showing a lot of restraint on my part, I swear.

books french france

I ate new pastries, learned the history of chocolate-making in Bayonne, and learned where to eat the best Czech heritage beef cuts in the city of Prague.

trdlnek Czech spiral sugar pastry

I sat in on a Vivaldi, Dvorak, and Smetana concert in a Baroque hall, sipped champagne on the balcony of an opera house during the intermission, and visited Baroque libraries.

monastery library prague

I scouted markets for the best deals on truffle products and produce and I discovered new foods and experimented with them in the kitchen[s of others].

florence meal food cooking

I sipped new wines, learned the names of new-to-me varietals from several wine regions; I learned to distinguish a quality pilsner from those others. I navigated narrow city streets, changing the location twice a week or more.

le panier marseille streets france

I had frequent dates with this guy in coffeehouses, tapas bars, and bookshops. I maybe forced him to listen to my faux-Freud/Jung theory discussion in Vienna.


I filled up on that art of the Renaissance masters, freaked out at the art of Alfons Mucha and Gustav Klimt, filled pages of notes about other artists I’d not known before.

thyssen museum madrid art gallery

We got to visit the home of our friend and see her parents’ place, which means I got a sauna/natural pool experience, we ate the home cooking of a German/Italian cook, and we hopped a ferry across Lago Maggiore.


We marvelled at the crazy architecture of the Guggenheim in Bilbao and figured out the pintxo system in both the touristy and non-touristy parts of Donostia.

pintxos food molecular gastronomy spain basque

I reactivated my French, learned important phrases in Euskara from native speakers, used my podcast-learned Italian for the first time in the real world, mastered three words in Czech while consistently failing at the others, and reacquainted myself with the Spanish accent.


I learned bits of the history of the Slavic people, finally learned to distinguish my Bourbons from my Habsburgs, saw Galileo’s fingers (for real!), and toured historic cathedrals and synagogues.

notre dame de la garde marseille

There was so much packed into those 30 days. So, no, after my month of vacation (Jordan’s month of workation), neither of us are quite relaxed. My mind is reeling.

And if you want to know the honest-to-God worst of it, I have a post-trip action plan/to do list. Some goals are easy, like buying two egg cups and making soft-boiled eggs for breakfast. Some are a bit tougher, like reading all of those classics I bought. Some are even longer term; I hope to actually pick that German back up someday. Some are silly; some are serious. Some will happen; some likely will not, even though I want them to. And that’s okay. I’m still going to try, and I’m still going to milk the trip for all its worth via my silly action plan.

I feel very fortunate.  Our trip was not relaxing, but it was so, so worth it.


See you in the next few weeks with many posts about the trip. Thanks for reading!

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