By Norris Burkes Oct 16, 2022
The “Third Chapter” is a popular term anticipating our retirement days filled with fun, food, and travel.
This past month, my wife Becky and I added more stories to our third chapter as we traveled Europe by plane, train, automobile – and even a bus, gondola and tuk-tuk.
We made the transatlantic flight to celebrate our 40th anniversary, (two pandemic years late). We visited nine of the 15 countries of Southern Europe, but our first stop was Lisbon, Portugal, to catch our breath and feast on great seafood.
Three days later, we flew to Barcelona, Spain, where we ate tapas and saw the legendary flamenco dancing.
From there we boarded a cruise sailing around the Italian coastline through five of the 11 seas that comprise the Mediterranean. I started out seasick in the Balearic Sea but the water calmed as we pushed through the Ligurian Sea and Tyrrhenian Sea. Our ship crossed through the Strait of Messina into the Ionian and Adriatic Seas.
Each day brought us to a new city. We found ourselves walking the Grand Prix streets of Monte Carlo, gliding through Venice canals in a gondola, riding a tuk-tuk into Vatican City to view the Sistine Chapel and strolling atop the defensive stone walls surrounding Dubrovnik, Croatia.
We took a prayer-inspiring bus ride along Italy’s insanely steep Amalfi Coast, a place modestly described on a travel website as: “…pastel towns that line up like sugar cubes on green hills sprinkled with bright yellow lemons, overlooked by turquoise skies dotted with brilliantly white clouds, and plunging down to sapphire seas.” A little understated, I have to say.
After 12 days at sea, we disembarked to stay three days at the Great Waterfall (Plitvice Lakes National Park). At this UNESCO site, we saw water pouring over every rock, transforming through a kaleidoscope of colors as it replenished the lake below. Miles of boardwalk took us through a scene from Psalms 23, leading us beside the still lake waters and restoring our over-traveled souls.
In neighboring Slovenia, I boarded a train into the 15 miles of Postojna Cave. The jaw dropping cave is among the best known in the world. But nearby Škocjan Caves, AKA “Underground Grand Canyon” remains the most impressive. The Reka River gushes though the underworld canyon with the deafening sound level of a jet engine.
I encourage everyone to travel as much as they are able. I believe it inspires resiliency and brings a new perspective of the different ways people live.
However, I’m aware that there are times when travel is financially or physically impossible. If that describes you, consider the five ways “Staycations” can inspire resilience and fill the travel void.
- From the comfort of home, read a nonfiction about history, religion, cuisine, or culture. Read fiction from international writers describing their home.
- Introduce yourself to people from other cultures. Ask your Afghan neighbor to describe life in her country. Get your Sikh veterinarian to talk about his religious holidays.
- Food is my favorite form of stay-at-home travel. Attend a food festival sponsored by a Greek Orthodox or Buddhist congregation or share a meal in a Baha’i temple. Food is a wonderful challenge of your ethnocentric taste buds.
- When I can’t afford travel, I find a nearby lake, beach, or waterfall. For me, water is my “God spot.” It’s where I inhale the sights and sounds that renew my connection with my Creator.
- Finally Interstellar travel can be as close as a moonless night in your backyard. Check online calendars for meteor shows and prepare to watch the little sky-scratchers as they etch straight lines at a perky 18 miles per second. (Watch for the Orionids shower peeking on Oct 20-21.)
Travel can be a part of your third Chapter – how do you plan to write yours?
If you’re ready to travel, why not come to Honduras to help Chispa Project start libraries in Honduran elementary schools. Dates are February 12 – 19 or March 12 – 19, 2023. See more info at https://chispaproject.org/volunteertrip/,
Coincidently, “travel” is the topic covered in the third chapter of my book, “Thriving Beyond Surviving.” The chapter, titled “Flight” expands the points in this column.