Quarter-Life Sabbatical

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Upon arrival in London, near the Tower Bridge.

Pre-Europe & England
First off, thank you to Nate Keffer for the great term “FUN-Employed,” which I’m using to describe my quarter-life sabbatical. The first five weeks have been fun and remarkably busier than expected. Here’s a recap and some take-aways.

  • 38 days
  • 10 domestic flights
  • 5 states
  • 2 countries
  • 2 surprise visits
  • 1 job interview
  • 1 international flight

Quite the adventure, and the Europe portion has just begun!

On May 15, 2014, I turned in an office key, a house key, shipped 3 boxes, checked 2 suitcases, and boarded a flight from Eugene to Phoenix. I left a comfortable and happy life for an adventure. I left to turn a chapter in my life story. I’m well-primed for Europe travels from the 10 domestic flights before my overseas departure. Even without official frequent flyer status (working on that) I was able to negotiate my way into two changed itineraries, day-of, at no cost, two waived fees for checked baggage, as well as a rebooking for the next day after a missed flight. Not sure I’ll be as successful with this when in other countries.

Before departing for Europe on June 18, I …

  • Celebrated my brother’s graduation from University of Arizona with family and friends
  • Visited with long-time friends and mentors from my hometown
  • Learned how to fly fish in Montana (key word: fish, not catch)
  • Floated down the Colorado River to earn my first sunburn of the season
  • Read a book on leadership called “It’s Your Ship,” and engaged in great conversation about strengths-based leadership theory with new friends
  • Made surprise visitations upon my two unplanned returns to Eugene — one to squeeze in a job interview (yes, I won’t be FUN-Employed for very long)

Oh, and I spent a bit of time planning a trip to Europe.

Why Europe & what’s the plan?

Mom and me at the sunken gardens of Kensington Palace, London home to Prince William and Princess Kate.

Mom and me at the sunken gardens of Kensington Palace, London home to Prince William and Princess Kate.

After three years of developing my career path, it is time to cash in on overseas expedition. As much as I believe moving forward is important, so do I treasure the knowledge of where we came from and with whom we grew. With my mom’s roots in Great Britain, we have many family members who have called on us to visit for several years. Well, the time is now.

My mom is my travel companion for the first 3 weeks. We will spend time in England and Wales, then fly to Austria, where we’ll stay with more family. Aside from searching out Mozart’s inspiration, we’ll also attend a Bob Dylan concert at Burg Castle — an ironic mix of history and culture.

From Austria, we will drive down to Italy to sail the Amalfi Coast. Terrible, I know. The guide book says the “scenic sorcery” of the Amalfi Coast is “giggingly gorgeous” and one of the “most divinely sensual 48-km stretch of water, land and habitation on Earth.” If we get stranded in Positano, I’ll find relief at the hotel where John Steinbeck stayed in 1953. Maybe I’ll call it my new home and write for a living while watching waves kiss the shore.

England, Part I: London

At the Westminster stop of the Thames River boat tour. London Eye behind me.

At the Westminster stop of the Thames River boat tour. London Eye behind me.

We arrived in London and spent two nights there before traveling to outlying areas where family resides. While in London, we did all the typical touristy things — rode the double-decker open-topped hop-on/hop-off tour bus and a boat to see all the sites. We meandered along Picadilly, gawking at the businesspeople standing outside pubs on their lunch breaks (business attire is so much more formal here!) and cruising through Fortnum & Mason, a department store that is like Nordstrom on its best behavior and has a tea room on the top floor that is fit for Her Majesty the Queen and requires reservations a month in advance.

An escalator for transfer on London's underground "tube" -- packed at 10:30 p.m. Friday night.

An escalator for transfer on London’s underground “tube” — packed at 10:30 p.m. Friday night.

We missed the last return bus, which turned into a happy accident and adventure. We negotiated the tube to Covent Gardens, where we watched street performers, listened to live music, ate Italian food, and made friends with a German family on one side of us and a Brazilian mom/daughter duo on the other. We played “name that song” with the Germans during the street guitarist’s performance of American classics. I don’t know whether it was Brazilian hospitality or the vino, but the mom was stuffing her pizza slices in my face to “just try!” and she wanted to give us her hat upon our goodbye.

All in all, a full day of sightseeing and exposure to other cultures. Beautiful.

England, Part II: The Countryside

Our first stop after London is about one hour south in Reading, my mom’s birthplace and home to many of her family members. Here are some photos of our daytrip to Basildon Park, a National Trust site that may look familiar if you’re a fan of the Downton Abbey TV series or Pride & Prejudice, the movie featuring Keira Knightley. The exhibits in the house are very “touch & feel” so you can really imagine what it was like to live there. I even enjoyed a little spin on the piano!

My mom and her Uncle Steve strolling through property of Basildon Park, a National Trust site.

My mom and her Uncle Steve strolling through property of Basildon Park, a National Trust site

The 18th-century mansion of Basildon Park; look familiar from the filming of Pride & Prejudice (Keira Knightley version)?

The 18th-century mansion of Basildon Park, restored to its 1950’s condition when owned by Lord & Lady Iliffe.

Mom and me in the garden of Basildon Park; we'll host a tea here when we buy the property. ;-)

Mom and me in the garden of Basildon Park; we’ll host a tea here when we buy the property. 😉

Playing piano in the entry way of Basildon Park; notice it from scenes in Downton Abbey?

Playing piano in the entry way of Basildon Park; notice it from scenes in Downton Abbey?

One of the National Trust volunteers was an accomplished pianist and teacher who decided to play a duet with me. She urged me to have a concerto ready to perform next time I return to Basildon. :-)

One of the National Trust volunteers was an accomplished pianist and teacher who decided to play a duet with me. She urged me to have a concerto ready to perform next time I return to Basildon. 🙂

Stay tuned for more! We’re headed to Wales next, so I suspect wonderful scenic photos. Also, I’m saving pictures of my meals, as I’m on a mission to bust the myth that British food isn’t any good. So far, I’ve had three savory pies that put Marie Callendars to shame.

3 Comments to “Quarter-Life Sabbatical”

  1. Hope you are having an amazing trip!

  2. Linds! So happy to get a taste of what you’ve been up to! A few comments:

    1. You read a whole book? I’m so impressed. 😉 Did you take “Water for Elephants” with you?
    2. Your hair looks redder in England.
    3. So glad you took that hat with you. A necessary accessory for travel in England. 🙂

    Miss you, friend. Keep the updates coming!

    Love,
    Suzie

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