Finding Our Story in the Mediterranean

I’ve always wanted to travel to abroad. I got my first tastes of travel during college when I was able to visit France for an art history class. Three weeks of taking in the wonders and beauty of France. After getting married, I traveled with a group to Istanbul, Turkey where I got to experience a totally different culture. It was during this trip that I started to retell my adventures in paint and paper. I’m a mixed media artist by trade and it was through these first paintings of Istanbul that I started to find my “voice.”

Due to children, my husband and I had to keep our adventures closer to home, but I still found wonderful landscapes to capture using my artistic style in our home in Philadelphia and then later, in Colorado. My trips were shorter and didn’t include language barriers...unless you count todder-speak--that can be super difficult to decipher and there are no guide books or dictionaries to aid you.

After our second son turned one, the conversation started to move toward bigger adventures...maybe a trip to Europe. My heart skipped a beat. Really? Oh man. I thought my travel days were over for several decades. After several weeks of discussion and planning, we decided that a trip to the Mediterranean was the adventure we needed. The grandparents agreed to watch the children and tickets were booked. Since we had limited time, limited knowledge and budget, we decided a cruise would be best. It would give us the ability to see as much as possible in two weeks and get a sense of places we might like to return to in the distant future. (Even with the boys!) It would also give my husband, who has never traveled outside the US, a comfortable homebase to come back to after a day of culture shock.

We booked excursions, got ourselves an invaluable Rick Steves Mediterranean Port Stop tour book and did our best to try things out of our comfort zone. We biked in Athens, got lost in Venice (on purpose, kind of), hiked Vesuvius and Pompeii, strolled through the ruins of Ephesus, enjoyed Turkish tea, ate real Italian pizza (Lord have mercy!) and stuck our toes in the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean at Mykonos. It was a whirlwind and I did my best to record our experiences each day in a travel journal. I also had my DSLR camera hanging around my neck the whole trip. Along the way, I picked up newspapers, brochures, maps and saved every piece of “ephemera” I could. I brought all these things home so I could retell our adventures in paint later on.

We got to see some amazing things during those two weeks, but I think one of the most valuable parts of our adventure was what it did for us. All of a sudden, it was just us. No work, no friends, no family. We had to talk to each other, help each other, solve problems together. Yes, we did this at home, but there are so many distractions that it is hard to see the beauty in the teamwork. Having our relationship stripped down to the essentials was so helpful in reminding us why we fell for each other in the first place. We came home with new inside jokes, special experiences and a new spark in our eyes. Our story took a new twist. The paintings I created after coming home include these parts of our story and each time I gaze at one of the paintings, I smile and remember.

Who knows where our next adventure will be. What I do know is that it will become another chapter in our story and I will probably retell it in paint and paper.

How has travel changed your story? Want to see more of my European images? Click here. Do you have a story you would like captured in my style? Feel free to contact me here and check out images from other commissioned projects I’ve done.

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