I’ve always wanted to travel and see the world. When I was young, I would dream of backpack holidays all through Europe, spend six months just going leisurely from country to country. Florence. The Sistine Chapel. Barcelona. Gaudi. Madrid. The Alhambra. Etruscan pottery shards and roman ruins. The Acropolis. Auschwitz. Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie (I said, when I was young 🙂 I could go on and on. And the symbol of this dream was The Eiffel Tower. Not for any particular reason so much as a symbol of what Europe meant. I used to say, I am going to see the Eiffel Tower before I’m thirty.
You see, going away to school in India meant that when the time came for young people to travel, as they seemed to, in the books I’d read, make their Grand Tour before assuming the responsiblities of adulthood, I didn’t have the wherewithal. You need hard currency to travel. India’s wasn’t and for the longest time it wasn’t convertible and you could only take $500 on a trip with you. So. I saved and saved and saved and aimed at 30 instead of 21 or 22 when my high school classmates and friends were able to do it. Don’t forget the visa problem. The cost of a visa, in rupees, can be high, and before the advent of the Schengen visa (15 Continental EU members) one had to get one for each country. Oy. Finally, when the time came, and I seemed to have enough and the markets were globalizing and I had a good friend in Lisbon, circumstances changed and I ended up in Pittsburgh. That was 8 years ago.
About 18 months ago, in the natural throes of the requisite midlife crisis, I was moaning to my friend Emma about this sorry state of affairs. My thirties were almost over and I still hadn’t seen the Eiffel Tower. What about all those self help books that tell you to set your goals for life and tick them off one by one as you complete them? Huh? Huh? This was #1.
Long winding story short, folks, I’m turning 40 next friday on the 24th of March and guess where I’m celebrating my birthday, with Emma? Here’s a clue and no, no prizes for the right answer, mon amies. I leave on Wednesday 22nd March and return on the 29th of March, as a woman of a ‘certain age‘.