Subject: First travel experiences

It's early in the New Year, new beginnings and new travel resolutions that may include memories of first travel experiences. Some of us caught the travel bug during our first travels, others after a few trips.

My family regularly travelled, usually driving trips to the U.S. As a young woman, I experienced my first "real" trip, boarding a Paris-bound flight at the end of May, with an open-ended ticket, to meet up with friends in Montpellier. No itinerary, no return date in mind except for the start of university classes in September.

This trip opened up a world for me that I have never forgotten, nor have I looked back. Museums filled with art I had only seen in books, magnificent cathedrals whose history enthralled me, regional food and local wines that brought new taste sensations, amazingly different countryside and customs, and foreign languages that I mangled at every try. I remember being struck by colour - fabrics in the markets in vivid blues, yellows and reds and blindingly bright sun on hot days in southern European countries. This was (and still is in many ways) heaven for me. 2-1/2 months of rolling around Europe seeing my first bullfight, spending day after day in the Prado, buying wines from farmhouses in France, navigating the busy streets of Lisbon, driving through the countryside of Portugal, sitting on the steps of the Pantheon in Rome wondering where to go to next - Greece? London? The world was ours and we gobbled up every experience we could find.

The sensory overload and the freedom to move enriched my experience. Knowing that I could make myself understood when I needed to buy bread, cheese and wine added to my confidence as a twenty-something.

We have a photo of three of us sitting on the bridge in Florence overlooking the Arno, taken in 1974. We have another of two of us (1984) and a third (1996), all in the same spot. We've changed physically, but I still see three young people having the times of their lives in each of these, because each time we return it's all new again.

What "bit you"? What first travel experience did you have that has stayed in your memory and has kept you on the travel road?

Lucy, in Toronto where beautiful big white flakes of snow are fallilng