Europe Comes to an End

Well, this will be my last blog post from this trip. We fly out tomorrow and will be back in Chattanooga in time for bed. It’s been an amazing couple of months for the Carisch crew. When we landed in Barcelona back in May, we had no idea how perfectly this whole adventure would come together. We developed a closer relationship with our family, saw so many new places, met new people‚Ķ. There are so many things we will take with us from this trip. And with me being a Type A personality, here’s the part where I itemize them all, organized categorically.

Things we will miss

  • Mari, Ori, Laia, Elia and Mona (their dog)
  • Flauta de Xocolata, which is heavily responsible for my current addiction to pastries
  • Living in the mountains
  • Living in an urban environment (It’s been awesome to be able to do both simultaneously)
  • Fuet, a cured Cataluyan sausage that I’ve grown to love
  • Buying fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and bread every day
  • Practicing our Spanish on a regular basis
  • Being able to walk or take a bus virtually everywhere we need to go
  • Drying rack cabinets – like most residences, our apartment had a drying rack for dishes right above the sink. No towel drying necessary.
  • Two-hour lunches
  • Having 5 playgrounds within a 5-minute walk
  • Retractable clothesline outside the window
  • My little grocery cart
  • Experiencing something entirely new almost every single day
  • Watching the kids experience something entirely new almost every single day
  • The nearly perfect weather of Andorra (although Barcelona has been our training for the heat of Chat)
  • Pastries and chocolate as socially acceptable breakfast food (Did Imention the Flauta de Xocolata?)
  • The ideology that cheese, chocolate and after-dinner alcoholic beverages are “digestives” and therefore “good for you”
  • Sangria
  • The insane selection of cheese in the grocery store
  • Having no idea what tomorrow will bring

Things we will take with us

  • Practicing Spanish on a regular basis (continuing ed, here I come!)
  • The desire to travel more
  • A new relationship with food and how I buy and prepare it
  • Greater understanding of and appreciation for other cultures and the collective personalities of countries
  • An introspective view of how the country of my birth shapes who I am
  • New recipes and cooking techniques
  • The knowledge that we need so much less than we have
  • An appreciation for the benefits of knowing a local where you’re going
  • The motivation to walk to some of the places we need to go in Chattanooga
  • The girls’ ability to go to new places, walk long distances and try new things without complaining about it
  • Less dependance on cell phones (this one is particularly for Brian)
  • The realization that we don’t really need TV in our lives
  • Greater confidence in navigating foreign cities and countries
  • The knowledge that kids not only adjust to new environments, but thrive in them
  • Greater appreciation for our friends, pets and home
  • Enhanced ability to use maps – good old fashioned MAPS
  • Less dependance on the dishwasher and clothes dryer – more hand-washing and hang-drying
  • Ability to quickly convert Celius to Farenheight, kilometers to miles, kilograms to pounds and Euros to dollars

Things we look forward to seeing/doing again

  • Jackie and Bryce
  • Our awesome Chattanooga friends
  • Family
  • Our house (soon to be our old house since we somehow managed to sell it and buy a new one during this trip)
  • Driving
  • Signs in English
  • Prices in dollars
  • The ability to read the nutritional information on the food I’m buying
  • A wide selection of microbrews
  • Getting out on the boat

What an amazing experience this has been in every way imaginable. All of us have been changed forever by this adventure‚Ķokay, maybe not Alison. Her 6 new teeth, longer hair and expanded vocabulary probably would have happened without this trip. She’ll have some cute photos in her baby book, though. We will definitely be doing extended trips in the future. This will be a traveling family in the years to come, but we will always be happy to come home.

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