A News Cafe.com's Doni Chamberlain has written about the recent European adventure that she and I took during Thanksgiving.
This is my second trip with Doni to the Czech Republic, where Doni's son and daughter-in-law live in Ostrava.
This was my first trip to Italy.
Our identical twinship holds fast in our mutual love of travel, and we're lucky enough that we are also good travel buddies. Upon reflection of my various previous travels, I was frustrated that I failed to have total recall of the details of each trip. I wished I'd kept some sort of travel journal to document each day.
Despite being a self-professed minimalist, I'm one of those sentimental types who tends to resist throwing away travel mementos such as boarding passes, ticket stubs and even airline napkins, as reminders of that once-in-a lifetime trip. Months or years later, I wistfully end up tossing those mementos away, when I realize the futility of saving a cocktail napkin or boarding pass.
This trip, November 14 through 28, I vowed to chronicle our venture by keeping a travel journal, with a place to tuck those boarding passes, ticket stubs and cocktail napkins: evidence of our trip to Prague, Ostrava and Metylovice in the Czech Republic, and Florence, Italy.
Initially, I'd intended to keep a brief bullet-point list of each day: something to jog my memory after the trip. What I discovered, as a artist, was the cathartic benefit of doing sketches of each day that added to the experience and fullness of details that I wanted to remember.
Since art is prone to the perception of the artist, some of the illustrations gave way to more of how I felt, rather than what I saw, such as in the first page, that showed the story of my and Doni's drive to a hotel for its early-morning shuttle the next day.
Doni, a lousy night-driver, and an even worse city-driver, wasn't pleased to be driving through San Francisco at rush hour, in the dark to reach the hotel that I'd booked, located further than she'd expected. Not a great start to our trip, but once we were on the plane for Europe, all was well.
In Europe, my travel companions were Doni, her son Joe, his wife Marie, and her non-English speaking Czech mother, Eva.
At the end of each day they asked to review my daily journal posts.
Turns out that Joe is a stickler for accuracy, occasionally pointing out details in my journal that weren't entirely true, like his phone being an Android, not an iPhone, or correcting the fact that he had nothing to do with getting Doni and my airline seats moved to the right side of the plane, so we could have a view of the Super Moon. Those corrections were modified with little red asterisks.
Marie was the best, because at the end of each day she had total recall of what each of us ordered at restaurants, or the specifics of our day's excursions.
For Eva, the journal served as an illustrated account that didn't require reading English.
I enjoyed the process and outcome of my travel journal so much that I can't imagine taking any trip exceeding a few days without making an art journal. I look forward to art journalling when Doni and I take our annual camping trip to Patrick's Point this summer, and will encourage our grandchildren to keep art journals of the trip, too.
Though I am an artist/designer by trade, it isn't necessary to be an artist to compile an art journal, any more than one would have to be a professional writer to keep a travel journal. What a fun way over the years to review experiences that may otherwise fade with time.
I'd enjoy hearing from some of you about your travel journals, especially those with illustrations.
In the meantime, here are some highlights of our trip.