We had wanted to see Europe for quite a while. All the way back when we were in college, we’d determined that it would be something that we would love to do. We’re both people with a strong desire to explore and see new things. The expense of such a trip was totally prohibitive for quite a while. The language barrier is also an intimidating point unless you confine yourself to English-speaking countries, which we wouldn’t want to do. Neither one of us speaks anything other than English with any proficiency. As years rolled by and we achieved financial stability, we began to run out of excuses for our complacency. Last year we determined that we could easily afford to make the trip. When we learned that my wife’s cousin had just moved from Seattle to Düsseldorf, Germany, it seemed obvious that we should finally go. We planned the trip for the next year.
This trip had been a carrot dangling on the end of a rope at the end of a very long stick for a very long time. So long, in fact, that as the carrot actually got closer and very much within reach, it was hard to comprehend that it had moved out of the world of pure abstraction into the world of imminent reality. It was only during the week preceding our departure that I began to really comprehend it. Appropriately, we would be leaving on my birthday, August 1, when I would turn 30. Unfortunately, the volume of work and stress at my job had been huge, fevered, and shitty for the entire month of July. So my mental state was not the best, and I was not really afforded the luxury of excited anticipation. I did, however, make it through the end of the day on Thursday, July 31 without losing my temper and quitting my job. My wife and I were all packed and ready to leave by the next morning. The following is a document of our trip.