I knew it was wrong but I couldn’t stop myself, my body was craving chocolate at 9 a.m., so there I was eating pretzel M&Ms with my breakfast. My body had no clue what time zone it was in and how long we were staying here as for almost two months, I was on a plane every few days and eating chocolate croissants for breakfast (I may have also been caught saying “yes” to wine before realizing it was 10am as the flight attendant gave me an early lunch, thankfully I am not craving wine for breakfast). The past two weeks of detox (re-entry) into my life in Philly have been challenging – the gym schedule, the healthy foods at the same time as organizing the work holiday party and office family luncheon.
Starting in late September, I made my way to Dublin via Boston for the TBEX conference using an award ticket and hotel points. Less than two weeks after my return, I had to fly to London for a business trip that lasted a week. With a week and a half home, I then started my trip to Australia on my crazy award ticket. It didn’t seem too daunting, I’m a good traveler and for the most part, all long haul flights were in business class with the short flights in coach. I can honestly say though that these past two months of travel (mostly in the rain) have left me exhausted.
The trips were a mix of good, bad and ugly but all quite memorable. I met some amazing people, connected with long distance friends, made new friends, had incredible experiences, ate too much chocolate, didn’t drink enough local wine (or sparkling Shiraz), had way too much rain to contend with, got a bit depressed by it, wandered around, dealt with canceled flights, canceled tours, protests in Bangkok, sympathy strikes by one airline for another in Paris, spent a layover attempting to relax in the hotel spa, spent Thanksgiving in Paris and flew the A380 plane (double decker) with the awe of a child.
There were 16 flights with 7 different airlines, flying approximately 43,000 miles (see the map). I flew over the Atlantic “the pond” 5 times. I flew around the world – going to Australia via Asia and returning via Europe. I checked into 11 hotels in 8 countries. I stayed with a friend in Paris near the Opera. I redeemed points for flights and hotels and also earned points too. I used a free two night stay won on Twitter. I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge at twilight. I flew over the 12 Apostles (there are 8 now) on the Great Ocean Road. I spent too much money (I’m afraid to add up the credit card bills). I had to deal with canceled credit cards on the road due to fraud. I stayed in an Art Gallery with a hotel or a Hotel with an Art Gallery – 500 works of art throughout the hotel so not sure which gets top billing. My only souvenirs were an umbrella and chocolate truffles.
I spent my birthday with a view of the Sydney Opera House and the restaurant staff brought me chocolate cake with a candle (I wished the rains would stop – they didn’t). I snapped a million photos (ok, not quite a million but about two thousand which given the rains, quite surprising). I visited a very funky art museum called MONA that definitely makes you think and discuss “what is art” while all the time laughing at you. There were locks bridges in Dublin, Melbourne and Paris. There were cookies called Tim Tams. I worked for Qantas (in the age of DIY) as I learned to tag my own bag, weigh it and check it in (the baggage fiasco with Qantas is another story that cost me $120). I didn’t wear any sandals or warm weather clothes I brought but was thankful to have cold weather gear with me that got a workout (my gym clothes however stayed in the bag).
I walked for hours a day, all day long if I could (yes, even in the rain). I paid too much money for a room service burger but added a glass of wine to the order to make it seem worth the delivery fee. I did a drive by visit of the British Museum in the rain. There were bike tours in Boston and Dublin. Street Art tours in Melbourne and Paris. Photo tours in Dublin. Boat tours in Tasmania. I went to Tasmania (it’s part of Australia, not another country).
I saw kangaroos, koala and other animals at a sanctuary. I saw humpback whales (such a surprise!) and seals in Tasmania. Despite being a wine drinker, I enjoyed The Guinness Storehouse tour and the Jameson Irish Whiskey Experience in Dublin. There were Christmas Markets in Paris, Christmas trees in Sydney. I strolled Manly Beach during my few hours of sun. I traveled by plane, train, automobile but also taxi, metro, tube, ferry, bike, bus, tram, trolley and of course, by foot. There were “special meals” on the plane, many movies watched, books read, various toiletry kits and a lot of time waiting in lounges. There were the security pat downs in all airports/countries (I’m really skeptical of the whole “random’ beep if it happens each and every time).
I’m exhausted writing all of that and know I’m probably missing some things. Of course, at the end of the day, these are first world problems as they would say. While I didn’t get to do all that I planned on these trips, I feel that I did all that I was meant to do and that’s good enough. So I’m grounded for a while as I recharge, build up points balances and catch up on posts as I look forward to the possibilities/destinations in the New Year (An overwater bungalow at a beach destination sounds just perfect to combat travel exhaustion).