Surprise your sweetie.....

I am often asked how I deal with jet lag. The honest answer is that there is no real cure other than catching up on sleep when you can, and not overdoing it. Simple to say, but never easy to do when I am on the road—I like to explore way too much!

Dublin a few weeks back was no different. Having spent the few days prior in Italy, the travel was beginning to catch up with me. Rather than lose precious exploring time sleeping, I had intended to breakfast early, then take a energizing early morning walk.  I rose early that morning. So early, in fact, that breakfast was not yet underway at my hotel. Workers were just snapping the starched white tablecloths onto the tables, and setting them with gleaming flatware. And so, as I was trying not to be annoying to the hotel staff, I decided to wait a while for breakfast and instead, take a short walk on Grafton Street, a charming avenue, famous for its shopping.

Merchants were starting their day, and a woman working a flower stand was busily arranging and displaying her bouquets.  “Surprise your sweetie,” she winked.  "I wish I could,” I responded, “but I fear they would never look as good by the time I get them back to New York.”  The flowers truly were impressive. So, since I couldn't take one of her bouquets home to my sweetie, I decided to do the next best thing—I took a picture, instead! I told the woman that the next time I travel to Dublin, I would bring my wife.

Hungry from my early morning ramble, I headed back to my hotel breakfast buffet. Soon, I was munching a warm croissant, and scattering crumbs on the worker’s neat white table linens. As I sat and sipped my coffee, I planned my day in my head. I had to do Trinity and its great library! And, how could I not cross over the Ha’penny Bridge? Do I walk over to St. Patrick’s, or just try to rest in St. Stephen’s Green pub? 

I headed out once again, past the flower stand lady.  “Don’t forget to surprise your sweetie,” she smiled!

Walking the streets gave me renewed energy, so I decided St. Patrick’s was not too far a trek, and I'd stop at Stephen’s Green on the way back! If you know Dublin, you know it can be walked and enjoyed. There are enough places along the way to stop and have a Guinness, and perhaps some of my favorite stew. After a few hours I made my way back to the hotel, and past the flower lady as she was packing up for the day. “I am not saying a word,” she teased. 

I, too, had to pack, as I was headed home to New York the next day.

Getting off the plane at John F. Kennedy airport moments before the blizzard of all blizzards began, I happened to pass a news stand — with flowers, though admittedly not even close to the grandeur of the street stand on Grafton. The attendant caught my eye — I knew I had to surprise my sweetie!

Meet me at the fountain in front of the Pantheon

Often, when I travel overseas, I try to catch up with old friends. Schedules can be difficult to coordinate but there is usually time for a late dinner, especially in Italy. A few weeks ago I had such a chance. My friend is a priest studying Cannon Law at Gregorian University, and I am embarrassed to say I had not seen him in over five years. In fact, we had lost touch to the degree that I emailed him to have dinner in New York not realizing he had long departed for Rome. But sometimes luck shines down upon me: I would be in Rome the following week!

Father asked if I would meet him at 7 at the fountain in front of the Pantheon—easy enough to do (though I jokingly emailed to ask if he ever imagined using that sentence with me!). I try never to be late. In fact, over time I have developed the habit of arriving early. I like that this affords me a few minutes to people watch or explore surrounding areas. Sometimes this habit gets a little exaggerated, though. I took a leisurely walk from my hotel down streets I have often passed and still arrived at the meeting spot a half hour early. It is on those occasions, when I am “wasting time,” that I have discovered some absolute gems.

I picked a cobblestone street leading away from the fountain and made note of a pharmacy that might be useful for forgotten items. There was a coffee shop and a few restaurants. After a while I came to a restaurant with a name I recognized and soon realized it was a place that I had often been urged to try. I stopped to read the menu—it looked particularly good. Now that I knew where it was, I vowed to eat there on my next trip.

Time slipped away and I realized that I was now nearly late! Back I went past the shops and restaurants, up the cobblestoned street. I arrived at the Piazza della Rotonda with seconds to spare. Father was standing exactly where he said he would be—at the fountain in front of the Pantheon.  Knowing to defer to a local on where to eat—and after a few laughs and some brief catching up—I asked him to lead the way. I followed him back past the pharmacy, by the coffee shop where I gave a friendly nod to the barista on break, and up that cobblestone street to the now familiar restaurant that, not so long ago, I had made a vow to try.

That Best Important Trip.

Beau Gambold, contributing writer.

Beau Gambold, contributing writer.

Just after graduating college in the spring of 2008, I remember a moment looking at a South Dakota quarter with an image of Mount Rushmore on it.  I thought to myself, “That is a place that I will never see,” and I was okay with that. I wasn’t sad. It was a moment of accepting my limitations as a person. A few days later I left for my first trip planning events for a presidential campaign. It was a trial trip, but I did well and was offered to stay on for a second trip. This next trip was to South Dakota.

After the event was over we drove up to Mount Rushmore. Hiking up the mountain less than two weeks after this minor epiphany, I realized how unforeseeable life can be. The whole world is open to us. After the campaign I joined the Peace Corps and spent over two years in Thailand. Since then I have traveled through Southeast Asia, India, Kenya, and across Central America and the United States. These experiences have made me who I am. I have not only learned more about how people live around the world, but each time I return with a better since of who I am and what I believe. Travel is a way of life and an invaluable experience.