Our Interail train trip was planned and it was going to be epic. We would go from Liverpool to Brussels, Belgium to Luxembourg to Strasbourg, France to Zurich, Switzerland and back into The Netherlands. We were ready to reserve our seats. The only problem was that Liverpool FC had just clinched a victory that would take them to the UEFA Champions League final in Paris, France. People traveling from anywhere in the UK would travel through London into Brussels, or direct to Paris. The day of the match happened to be our first day of travel and every single train was booked. You couldn’t even book a seat on a rubber raft that day. So, plans changed. With the Netherlands closing out our original trip, we decided to just tack on a few days to the front of that since we can fly to Amsterdam for basically nothing, and take a train to our destinations. What destination, you ask? Well, we could have just thrown a dart at a map, but instead we chose a small traditional Dutch village sandwiched between Den Haag and Rotterdam called Delft. You may have seen the blue and white pottery that Delft is famous for, you may even own some. We didn’t know anything about the village, however we quickly learned that it’s a place of stunning beauty, loaded with charm, and home to culture that embraces quality of life. Tree-lined brick streets trace the outline of ancient canals as bicycle travelers cross back and forth on ornate bridges. Historic churches touch the sky while extraordinary buildings saturate the city centre. I’ve never seen so many bicycles in one place! You do see cars, but bikes definitely dominate the streets. Quaint cafes and coffee shops abound, restaurants showcasing a wide variety of cuisine are everywhere, and the icing on the cake is the open air market twice a week in Markt Square. You can shop for anything from handbags to clothes to fresh fish, salami, nuts, fruits and veggies, and so much more. Delft is truly one of my favorite places in the world.
I visited Tarifa, Spain when I was in San Roque. It was only about an hour journey in the Jeep, and well worth it. On the drive in, you’re positioned high above the Mediterranean Sea with nothing but steep, grassy terrain and rocky cliffs between you. The views are flawless! As you approach Tarifa, the town begins to show off. White, textured exterior walls are brightly contrasted against the muted orange of the terracotta tile roofing and the black iron railing along the multitude of Juliette balconies. The streets are made of cobblestone and lined with orange trees and street lights that resemble old lanterns. You can smell the clean saltwater air as you wind through narrow streets dripping with historical charm. You finally stop when you’ve reached the southernmost point in Europe. On this particular day, it was the windiest place I have ever been. Just fierce and constant gales blowing with enough force to physically knock you over if you’re not paying attention. There’s a strip of pavement about wide enough to fit two cars side by side that splits the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. As you cross this divide, waves are crashing against the massive boulders on the Mediterranean side creating bursts of ocean spray and a constant mist. However, on the Atlantic side the water is calm. In fact it’s so calm it resembles a lake. The Mediterranean side is dotted with wind surfers, while the Atlantic side hosts the kite-boarders. At the end you find a wonderful little cove with it’s own private beach that looks like it belongs in a movie. On clear day, you catch views of Morocco in the distance. What a truly special place Tarifa, Spain is!
Before traveling to Kitengela, I had never visited the continent of Africa. We went at the request of some friends to facilitate some art and business training, but we ended up falling in love. The people we met are the most hospitable, caring, kind-hearted people you’ll ever meet. The weather was great, especially considering we were coming from England in February. My daughter did not want to leave. She now wants to live there.
Kitengela is a little less than an hour drive outside of Nairobi. Goats and cows wander the streets, boda-bodas are everywhere and they carry abnormally large loads for such a small, two-wheeled vehicle, and the mangoes and bananas taste better than anything you’ve ever tasted. We took a safari in Lake Nakuru National Park, which is about a 3.5 hour drive from Kitengela (traffic is always a questions mark). While Nairobi National Park sits just on the edge of Nairobi, Lake Nakuru National Park came highly recommended. So it’s no surprise to anyone that it ended up being an incredible adventure. The landscape, the water, the animals, even driving into Nakuru the scenery above the Great Rift Valley is spectacular. Throughout the safari we saw loads of zebras, rhinos, water buffalo, impala, and desert warthogs. We pulled up next to a Rothschild’s Giraffe eating some leaves so close to our truck that we could almost touch him. Later, we saw his whole family of about 14 giraffes grazing in a field. To cap off the adventure, we found a pair of female lions resting near a tree in the distance. It is a trip that will never be forgotten. We cannot wait to go back!
My journey began in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. The city itself is quite special to me. There are loads of top-tier restaurants, a diverse music scene, parks, lakes, and spectacular views over the Ohio River from the center of the city, all the way out to the boondocks. Along the outskirts of Louisville is when the sites and sounds come to life. From gently rolling green fields with miles of split-rail fencing, to the horse farms of Shelby County and Oldham County, this is an exceptional stretch of earth. Even further from the city life is a scattering of stills and rickhouses that produce and hold 95% of the world’s bourbon. Louisville Slugger baseball bats are made right on Main St and distributed to Major League Baseball teams and consumers across the world. Lest we not forget the world’s most legendary race track, Churchill Downs, home to vast horse racing history and, of course, the Kentucky Derby. Yes, Louisville is a unique city indeed. It was difficult to leave, but God had plans for a new adventure… one that may never end.
In 2018, we made the decision to move to Liverpool, England. It was during a trip to meet friends and learn about their work with refugees that we really felt called to help. So we spent the next 2 years figuring out how to get back. We finally figured it out and headed across the pond in the middle of a global pandemic, and a United Kingdom lockdown. At first we couldn’t do much, however delivering food and toiletries to refugees in the area gave us purpose for a while. Once we were able to get out and explore, we discovered that Liverpool is a fantastic city! It’s not simply the home of The Beatles, but also home to stone streets and beautiful architecture, and strangely enough, some delicious restaurants. Don’t believe everything you hear about food in the UK. Between the museums, pubs, historic sites, a really cool skyline, the iconic red double-decker buses, and amazing water views, you can’t beat the scenery here. The photo possibilities are endless.
The people in Liverpool are incredibly kind as well, and while the scouse accent is a tough one to understand, Liverpudlians are happy to repeat anything you don’t understand. Football is life for most people here, and just like in my home town, Liverpool is divided between red and blue: red being Liverpool Football Club, and blue being Everton Football Club. It’s an intense rivalry, and hilarious to witness. Liverpool also happens to be a melting pot of culture and art. In my neighborhood alone there are at least 50 different languages spoken. People from all walks and seasons of life live here and it’s quite refreshing. Plus, they do have horse racing here… so I’m not too far from home.
Traveling in Europe is much easier and less expensive than traveling in the US. My first journey out of England was to San Roque, Spain. San Roque is a very interesting place. Almost as far south as you can go in Spain, the nearest airport is Gibraltar. First and foremost, you need to have faith in your Pilot, as the Gibraltar runway is one of the smallest in the world, and the wind is fierce and unpredictable. If you make a slight mistake you will either hit the rock of Gibraltar, or land in the sea. I have incredible respect for the pilots who fly into Gibraltar International Airport. Incredible skill is required!
Nonetheless, once you land it’s a small airport, and a simple border cross into La Línea, Spain. Drive 10 minutes north and you land in San Roque. This town of around 34,000 people is situated on a steep hill, so you have great views of the sea, the rock of Gibraltar, and on a clear day you can even see Morocco. The cobblestone streets, wooden shutters, bright colors, white stucco, and terracotta roofing is unmistakeable. There are orange trees everywhere, and the roads are even skinnier than the roads in England. One of the best things about San Roque is proximity to the other amazing things around you. Castellar de la Frontera, a beautiful castle providing even more beautiful views, is just a 30 minute journey in a car. Tarifa, Spain, which is the southernmost point in Europe, is just 30 minutes beyond the castle, and you can stand where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea, or wander through the historic city taking in the sights. I’ll be back to San Roque sooner than later.