Those American Thighs
This is going to be a weird post today. But it does have to do with travel (as promised) and it is something that has been on my mind lately, so, I had to write about it.
Next week I will have a post prepared about packing, and outfits, and trip planning and Italy and gelato and pizza, but this week I have something else very important to write about.
It's probably the single most important part of my traveling experience.
It's...my legs. (Flipping your fins you don't get too far, legs are required, for jumping', dancin', strolling along down the, what's that word again....STREET)
When we travel, Mr. Nolandia and I will take the metro in a pinch or a tram when we're in a hurry, but we are walking most of the time. We are walking an average distance of 12-15 miles each day of our trip. Sometimes more. Often times this is on cobblestone streets, or up medieval or Roman built stairs or sometimes, straight up a mountain amidst swearing and sweat. If we aren't in good physical condition, then we are stuck on the motor coach tour with the rest of the quitters.
We aren't ready for that.
We will never be ready for that.
Whilst exploring, there is nothing worse than sore feet. Even if your legs can take the daily beating, feet are another story. And, excuse me, but I am not waltzing around Paris or Milan in trainers. Gross. I understand "tennies" are having a moment, but no. Just, no. So, as I've written before, I'm a HUGE fan of TIEKS flats, (though I do not think they need anymore advertising since they are basically worshipped in the blog/pinterest world) and have worn them religiously for every trip of the past two years. And to work. And to the grocery store. And always.
If you've gotten this far, and you're still like, wait, LEGS? Is that what we're talking about? The answer is yes. Because, you guys, it is important. To really explore a place, you have to walk it. You have to get the feel of the streets on the soles of your shoes, you have to figure out directions and look up at the buildings or lemon groves or crumbling classical columns surrounding you and feel your place there. Your feet should pound the boulevards(Do you really want to miss any Paris architecture?) and walk the bridges (there are seven connecting Buda and Pest!) and find your way through mysterious twists and turns of an old medieval city, (Barcelona's Gothic quarter is a maze of surprises, every turn, something unexpected and new) But you can't see these places from a bus, or a tram, or the metro, or even a bike. To be seen properly they must be walked.
And if you want to be able to explore properly, and not for one day and then have swollen throbbing legs for the next three days, you have to stay in walking shape.When not traveling, we take a daily run up to Fit Athletic Club for cardio and weights, and then I spend a lot of miles walking and running with the pooch. I like to clock in about 5-6 miles a day. We take all of our vitamins and supplements, extra greens, etc. And a lot of that, honestly, is about being healthy for our next trip.
Traveling isn't all spas and pizza and chocolat chaud and waffles from a street vendor, though I've written blog posts about all of those things. But, I never would have found those vendors, that life-altering pizza, those Turkish baths or that creamy Parisian hot cocoa without a map and the stamina of good health.
I'll close by saying that people always ask me how and why we travel so often. I travel because I am able, and fortunate and drive a very old and junky car. But traveling takes a lot from your body. It makes a lot of demands on your muscles and your bones and your emotional health and sometimes, your sanity. It's stressful, and exhausting, but, obviously worth it. So, when I hit the gym, it's to make my body healthier for more enjoyable travel. When I choose clothing or shoes, its based on how well they will pack for travel. When I get a paycheck from a bookstore or from an editor, it goes toward a plane ticket. My legs might be a little bigger than I like, but they are strong, and ready to walk, scramble, hike, run, and dance around this world.
Up where they walk, up where they run...you won't see this B on a tourist bus.