The GMT Tour of Europe has been more than I expected. I was excited about the trip but very hesitant. My aunt and I get along great, but we've never spent more than a night or so together, at least not in our adult lives. But it turns out that our personal modes of travel mesh pretty well, and we've seen and tasted and smelled and heard more than I might have otherwise. Now that we are on our last day, it's hard to believe or even remember everything we've experienced. Lucky for us, she is keeping an extremely detailed and entertaining documentation of everything we've done from Day 1. I haven't read any of the missives home yet; I've just heard extracts as she types them up. But I know I will someday, as it will be a great way to reminisce about all we did.
But as I knew from the beginning, this is not my trip. We are not here to explore little nooks and crannies or to buy fruit juice from a street vendor or to hike up mountains or to sit on secluded beaches or to roam through book stores or to sit in a bar listening to the local music or to try some new exotic food from a hole-in-the-wall cafe on a deserted street, as I am often known to do. Instead, I am a tag-along traveling companion. [Caveat: I am not complaining. How could I, when I barely shelled out a dime for any of this in relation to all that she has paid? But I certainly have a better understanding of what it was that ladies-in-waiting did back in the days of royalty. (Perhaps there still are ladies-in-waiting. If so, my heart goes out to them.)] I have been on my best behavior for the majority of this trip. And I've probably dressed better and been better put together than on any of my other journeys, which is probably not a bad thing at all. It definitely made for better photos. But I am the keeper of maps, the finder of information, the navigator, the wine carrier/pourer (sommelier?!), the research assistant, the bus/tram/ferry/train/subway finder, the captive and appreciative audience, the travel adviser, the not-so-great translator of menus/signs/conversations. Again, I am not complaining, as I essentially have been paid to do that ... sort of like a chaste kept woman?!?
Actually, come to think of it, I am the Mark of this trip. I can even point out our hotel when looking back on the city from a hilltop and find my way home from any outing, no matter how twisty the roads. Hmmm, don't tell my husband, as now he'll expect me to be like this on all of our upcoming trips!