It was not until 2008 that I had my first overseas travel experience. I was 25 and it had been a long time coming.
The dream of one day heading overseas for a holiday had always been there. As a kid I had hopes of travelling to Egypt as the history and culture had always fascinated me. It was simply a matter of when this travel dream would become a reality.
Instead, my travel bug began in an entirely different direction. My boyfriend at the time (now my husband) came from a family of frequent flyers, with a love of travel. And they happened were planning an epic European holiday complete with a white Christmas in his mother’s home country of Poland.
It didn’t take a lot of convincing before we were on board with joining them and the rest of the family on this trip of a lifetime. So we saved and we planned and we booked flights, accommodation and everything in between. We applied for our work leave and then it was just a matter of counting down the months and days until our big adventure began.
We spent 6 weeks in Europe during December 2008 and January 2009. I will admit it was difficult being away from my own family for Christmas, but so worth it to experience the magic of a white Christmas and New Years, right in the middle of our European adventure.
We explored Paris for close to a week, then on to Frankfurt, taking in several stops in Germany in the space of a week and a half, then spending the remaining time in Poland. We did the tourist thing through France and Germany especially, however in Poland, we had a far more authentic travel experience that comes with having travelling companions that speak the language (husband included).
In Poland, we started our experiences in Zakopane, where we spent Christmas and New Years, and had our first (disastrous) snowboarding experience. Then on to Krakow, which is simply amazing with the old town charm. After this was Bialystok, where we had the chance to spend time with relatives and friends of the family. We also had a bit of downtime, which was nice after being on the go continuously by this time. Finally, our holiday ended in the capital of Poland – Warsaw. Another amazing city, with the stark contrast between the old town charm and the modern multi-story shopping centres and advancing technology.
The other thing was that Christmas did not feel at all lonely like I feared, so far away from my own family. Not only was it spent with my husband-to-be’s entire family, but also family friends who decided to make the trip for a white Christmas also. And Christmas afternoon we spent having snowball fights in a park. An experience I will cherish forever since it is such a contrast from the typical Queensland Christmas of swimming and sunshine.
I will share more details on our destinations, experiences and of course plenty of photos in future posts.
My first overseas experience was by far amazing and paved the way for what was to become a life spent planning that next big trip and exploring as much of the world as time and money would allow us.