I’m fortunate, in that without being wealthy (or anywhere close), I’ve managed to do quite a bit of traveling, thanks to a combination of tax payer dollars (i.e. growing up in the U.S. military), school scholarships, and a general awareness of budget travel options and how to find good deals.
It dawned on me the other day that I’ve visited some of the most of the important pilgrimage sites of the Western world (this is what you do when you double major in history and religion): the Camino de Santiago in Spain (the setting for my debut novel, Beneath Wandering Stars); Rome, Italy; Lindisfarne, England; Constantinople/Istanbul in Turkey.
So what does one give such a travel geek for Christmas?
Why, the icing on the cake: a trip to the Holy Land, of course!
As a Christmas/Anniversary/Last Pre-Baby Adventure, my wonderful husband planned a surprise visit to Israel, perhaps the most important pilgrimage site of all and a fascinating part of the world where East meets West. ‘Adventure’ is exactly the right word. There’s nothing like traveling to Bethlehem when pregnant (so poignant, right?) only for your tour bus to hit a pole hanging off a cement mixer, shattering your window into a million pieces that cascade all over your pregnant body (not to worry – amazingly, I didn’t get a scratch)! Out of all 50 people on that bus, I chose the worst possible seat. Maybe I should have followed Mary’s example and taken a donkey.
Besides that incident, it was a safe, beautiful, and powerful experience, as you can see below.