I am the first to admit it but I'm not a good traveler. Not sure why that is but I think I get the "stay at home" genes from my mom. I tend to get very comfortable where I am and have not had that wonderlust to see the world (or even other parts of the country). I'm always fretting about missing planes or forgetting to pack something I know I'll need. I tend to be a creature of habit and even when I go on vacations I tend to want to go to the same places over and over again.
All that changed when I met Maria. My girlfriend was born to travel and will take any opportunity to pack up and go. She has had me out on short excursions to the cape (in winter) and discovering new places that you can easily drive to.
Last year I had the opportunity to go to Frankfurt, Germany for a convention. The "old" Jeff would have passed that one by without question ("They don't even speak English there! Its almost like they are trying to confuse me"). But Maria rearranged her work schedule and we were off. She did the itinerary, booked the hotels, got the rental car and planned the whole trip. As we took the overnight flight to Frankfurt she couldn't sleep because she was so excited. I couldn't sleep because I kept worrying if I packed enough clothes and how was I going to order breakfast?
But I found the country amazing and the people easy to talk to (in English mostly but I did learn to say "Excuse me-do you know how to speak English?" in perfect German). For the first week most days were spent on the convention room floor but at night we discovered great local restaurants. A trick my father taught me to find a great "non touristy" restaurant was to ask the bellhops where they ate. It never goes wrong. The second week we rented a car and we were off discovering the countryside with stops along the way.
We got lost on our way to seeing one castle and stopped to ask directions. Without speaking German and with the local people not understanding a word of English we parlayed our game of charades into an automobile escort showing us the way. My mother's side is German so I already had a great taste for the food but we only had one meal that Maria and I will remember with a shiver.
After two weeks we were home. Tired and broke. We are already planning our next trip (Italy this time-when we can afford it). But in the mean time I'm back to being the old me. I do occasionally watch the travel channel and imagine what it would be like to see these exotic places-but glad I can see them from the comfort of my own couch!