The truth is, the first time that André and I traveled together, it wasn’t on a trip organized by us but by our school. In 2007, through the Comenius program, we had the opportunity to travel to Hungary and participate in a European project about environmental issues. There were 5 or 6 of us plus Ms. Oriana, our physics and chemistry teacher, and we were to join other groups of students from Poland, Germany and, of course, Hungary.
And even though this trip wasn’t all about sightseeing, it was undoubtedly because of it (when we were just 15 or 16) that our love for travel grew.
On this trip, everything was new, everything was different. And, because of that, everything was lived much more intensely than usual. Arriving at the airport in Lisbon (already kind of last minute for our check.in), I distinctly remember looking around and trying to take in how big that airport was. Everything seemed so big and we were filled with so much curiosity that, even though we were running so short on time, we decided to take a little tour around the airport and ended up getting completely lost from the check-in counter! Thus we started our trip with a lecture from our teacher: we would get completely lost from each other this way! We had no sense of direction!
We were a little aprehensive but we were running on auto-pilot so we didn’t have much to worry about – we had been told what documents to show at check-in, how heavy our bags could be, etc. And, in the end, we were just following Ms. Oriana around who took us from the airport to the boarding gate.
When it was time to board, our curiosity struck again. Getting on that TAP plane, I was in awe of the size of everything. We just wanted to take in all the details from the size of the wing that we saw from our window to the safety instructions relayed to us by the flight attendants. In all honesty, I felt my heart pounding after hearing those instructions! What if I really had to get out of an emergency situation on a plane? André was much more relaxed, mesmerized with that spirit of adventure. The travel bug had bitten us – just in a different way in one and the other.
Sitting next to each other, I held on to André’s hand and, since then, we make it a point to always travel next to each other and hold hands in this more “critical” part of the trip. We took off and the flight went smoothly – I still remember feeling like we were walking on cotton candy as we looked out through the window and saw the white clouds beneath us.
When we landed, that’s when we came face to face with a world completely different from our own: a different language, different food, people dressed with different clothes, a city organized in a different way.
We didn’t stay in Budapest but in a school outside of the city (we were there on a “work” trip for our project after all) but we still had some time to visit some of the country’s historic sites. Even though we didn’t do much research on Hungary before our trip (something we always make sure to do when we travel nowadays!) this trip left a lasting mark on us. The monuments we visited were so big and so different. I remember us talking about how we had never imagined that, just a few hours from Lisbon, it was possible for such a different world to exist. And it was in that moment, I think, that we had that click and started thinking: There is so much more to discover, there are so many places to see.
From that point forward, we just couldn’t stop. After feeling that click, all we could think was: If things are like this in Hungary (which isn’t even that far) what’s it like in the US? In South Africa? In Mexico? How do people eat, what do they wear? Getting to know people’s lifestyles is one of the things that most fascinates us when we travel. And, of course, the monuments and the historic places – all of that only makes our trips even more amazing.
Despite this trip not being organized by us and even though we didn’t travel alone as a couple, this trip was where we were able to get bitten by the travel bug. And we were definitely bitten.
This is how we realized that we really wanted to explore the world – and explore it together! – to get lost in airports, spend our sweet time at monuments and enjoy romantic dinners together. To be able to travel our own way.