My mind keeps going back to the first time I left the U.S. to travel abroad. I was so excited, anxious and full of anticipation of what may happen, and then it was nothing like I expected. Over time I've learned that's the best part. In the business of travel you do your level best to make sure things go just as outlined on the brochure or in the itinerary but these are really best intentions and hopes as to the outcome of an adventure you've put together.
Sometimes you hit the mark around 95% and sometimes less, but I've found it's what you do with those moments that count. I've been reading quite a few other great travel blogs lately and one in particular of an accident prone blogger that has some of the most interesting experiences. As I write I think some of the best moments in travel adventures are when plans change, and the trip takes a turn that ends up being wonderful. Of course there are a couple of ingredients that need to be in play to make this happen. One is a flexible and resourceful guide, and the other are guests that look at the world in a glass half full situation. (I find the Aussies the best yet for this type of thing)
A situation in Romania with a friend (also above) driving almost lead to our death, literally. It involved a Skoda on the Transfăgărășan Highway around a narrow bend (pictured above). It resulted in a stop along the side of the road next to a shack that curiously had steam puffing out of a tin vent in the roof. To our surprise it was still producing a fruit alcohol called Palinka. Before you knew it we were being given generous shots and sharing pork belly fat with onion spread on fresh baked bread. How did that happen? We almost lost our lives, but we had an experience of a lifetime that we laugh at to this day.
Once I can remember missing a train in Basel that lead me to a fantastic moment in Strasbourg, or another in Olympia where it rained so hard we all stood in ankle deep water eating baklava and hot coffee, laughing and taking pictures the entire time. Another in Cuba of taking the wrong street in the right direction that resulted in an open door and a welcoming family with the most excellent Cuban coffee and company without speaking a lick of Spanish. Yet another was a surprise ending of a River cruise in Vienna to the Palace of Lichtenstein in a grand hall with 200 of the cruise guests. A front row seat, a conductor, band and a ballerina playing and dancing to the Blue Danube Waltz. The ballerina walks straight towards me and extends her arms and in a millisecond I must either refuse or get up and dance. I chose to dance (badly). I stepped on her toes and was told my face was as red as a tomato in the Florida sunshine. I could feel it and I'm sure it was. The experience was frightening, exhilarating and out of this world. Looking back had I refused I would never have forgiven myself.
Having traveled quite a bit from that point I find myself now looking for those moments. I may never be there again, so why not make the most of every second, and chose to be present. Travel is like life, it's not what the books tell you, its so much more. Expect the unexpected. Look for those moments and consider them a gift in their own right.
Not to worry, these are the exploratory trips and we review the death defying experiences so as our guests don't have to for themselves. Needless to say, we savor the travel experience and look for the moments where we are all able to get up and dance. We hope to see you on our next Adventure, and in the meantime keep an eye out for what's next. It's guaranteed to be good.
BY DANIEL MILKS
My travel experience as a profession began in 2011, and have since traveled all over the world. At this stage I've seen the good, bad and the ugly. I've guided and managed itineraries put together from those without care, or a complete lack of imagination. I've taken the terrible and used it as a learning experience in what not to do.