Day 49: Goodbye Europe…For Now

After a good night’s rest, I left the hostel sad that I was leaving Europe but still a little glad to go back home. At the airport while waiting in line to check my luggage and to get my ticket, I talked with two American girls that had just finished completing a group tour of Europe. Since I thought for a moment about joining an organized European tour I was very interested to hear about it. They told me how they enjoyed having everything planned out since they didn’t need to worry about all the fine details but they did feel rushed at times going from city to city at such a fast pace according to the company’s itinerary. Despite the ease of mind and having a group of you can always travel with, I am so glad I went the solo route. Sure, at times, it got stressful and a bit lonely but the freedom to do as I pleased and go wherever I felt, at a moment’s notice, was well worth it. Plus, traveling in a group would have deprived me of the learning experiences that I truly cherish. I found out that the two of them were taking the same flight to Toronto as me so I ended up waiting with them for the flight while we all traded travel stories that were both scary and exciting. They said I should join them near their seats on the plane and luckily I got to switch seats and share some limoncello with them on the flight. We kept saying how this can’t be the last time we travel like this. With some sacrifices who’s to stay I can’t pull it off. Once in Toronto, we tried to go through border control together but ended up getting separated. Going through the Toronto international border control, I felt like I was trying to cross the Mexican border into the U.S. with all the hurdles I had to jump over. After taking the seemingly two plus hours to pass through control and security, I got to relax in the waiting area for my flight to Cleveland. With the time I had, I talked to a 15 year old girl from Montreal who was traveling by herself for the first time to visit family in Cleveland. I played the part of mentor like a Mr. Miyagi by trying to inspire her to travel Europe and the rest of the world. She seemed to have the passion and willingness to do so at a young age. I told her that traveling by yourself is nothing to be scared of but rather the most rewarding and empowering way to travel. After dispensing all my earthly knowledge on this poor girl, I got onto the plane destined for hometown Cleveland. Once we touched down, I rushed down the hallways to get to baggage claim to meet my family. To my surprise, they were waiting around the last corner ready to greet me. In a touching moment, my sister had a huge poster made welcoming me back home with my name in large letters and a plane flying through the air. As much as I would have loved to still be back in Europe traveling, I was glad to be home in the comfort of my own family. Despite working on little sleep and having my body clock at 5 a.m., I was too excited to share some brief stories of my trip. I went to sleep in my own bed in my own room thinking about how the world has been opened up to me. My previous fears of traveling alone have been thoroughly washed away and now my focus turns towards working hard to tackle my next great adventure. Stay tuned…

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