Travels to Europe As Book Ends of a Career

In August 1979, shortly after the bar exam, my husband and I traveled to London for two weeks. It was our delayed honeymoon, almost two years after we were married, and celebrated the end of law school and the beginning of our working careers. We knew that it would be a while before we would be able to take another extended vacation.

The London trip was a wonderful respite, a time to relax before we launched into new jobs. We had no worries, other than living within the travel budget we had set. (Money was tight until we began earning salaries.)

We got to know London and its museums reasonably well, finding our way on our own via subway and bus. We spent a day at the British Museum and didn’t see everything. The Tate Gallery offered a lovely diversion one afternoon. We ventured out of the city to St. Albans and a couple of other nearby sites. One day we happened upon a cricket match that neither of us could understand.

Earlier this month, thirty-five years after our trip to London, we took our next vacation to Europe as a couple. We’d taken family treks to Switzerland, Denmark, and Italy, and my husband and I had each traveled in Europe for professional reasons, but this was our first return to Europe with just the two of us. And we chose a Viking River Cruise on the Rhine River.

We hadn’t really planned the timing, but this year’s excursion marked the end of my husband’s career at the law firm where he began working in 1979, just after our London vacation. I retired from full-time work a few years ago, but he has continued to practice law. His retirement party at the law firm was the Friday before we left. So we will remember our two trips to Europe as book ends to his career.

Wandering in the Black Forest

Wandering in the Black Forest

As one would hope, our circumstances this time were very different from thirty-five years ago.

First, we weren’t on a budget, which was a nice improvement over 1979. But we still had to watch our spending.

Unfortunately, while we were traveling, our credit card was the victim of fraud back in the United States. The card was canceled two days after we began our trip, which was a huge inconvenience. The debit card worked in ATMs, but not at all vendors, and the transaction fees were higher than on the credit card.

The second change from 1979 was that this year we let Viking River Cruises plan our days. They handled airline reservations, transfers from airport to hotel to boat, and transport back to the airport when we left. And they provided tours and tour guides in every city along the way. We traveled by boat from Basel, Switzerland, on the Rhine to Amsterdam.

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Marksburg Castle

Castles.

Cathedrals.

Windmills.

Narrow medieval streets and modern autobahns.

Full breakfasts and three course dinners.

And even a battlefield for my husband.

We could have handled our own arrangements, but I admit it was a relief to let someone else do it. I always have to do the planning on our vacations. I enjoyed being pampered, starting the moment I got up and had bacon and eggs and pastries waiting for me. The pampering continued through dinner and dessert and the fresh evening breeze off the water.

I’m hoping I’ll get more pampering, now that my husband is retired. But maybe he wants pampering as well.

Who will pamper whom? I’ll have to let you know how we negotiate having both of us at home.

How have you celebrated transitions in your life?

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