When you decide to travel long-term, many wonderful experiences lay before you, but you must also be willing to leave behind the comforts of home and loved ones. We enjoy seeing what everyone is up to on Facebook and scheduling calls with friends and family, but the absolute best treat is hosting friends while traveling abroad. We love it when people come to visit.
Of course, in today’s world it is easy to stay in touch with tools like Skype, Facebook, WhatsApp, and email. They all go a long way toward combating homesickness. With technology, you can often feel just as “in touch” when you are thousands of miles from home as you did when you were actually there.
We’re pretty independent and when the 3 of us are together we don’t often feel lonely. But, it’s so much fun when we get to see our friends in-person and it’s even better when we get to play host and share some of our adventures with them.
Recently, some of our best friends were able to join us in Budapest. Together, we explored Castle Hill, the Labyrinth under Buda Castle, and the Christmas Markets. We shared meals, had some mulled wine, drank a few beers, and ate traditional Hungarian chimney cakes (kürtőskalács). We visited the ruin pub, Szimpla Kert, which was listed as number three on the list of great bars in the world by Lonely Planet. We had dessert at the elegant Alexandra Bookcafe (Lotz Terem) on the famous Andrassy Avenue. We rode Budapest’s Sziget Eye (like the London Eye, but smaller). We also made several attempts to speak a few words of Hungarian, but I think it is fair to say that we mostly mangled the language.
We could do, and have done, many of these things on our own and enjoyed them all, but there’s nothing better than sharing them with good friends. And, it’s a particular treat for our son. He, more than any of us, loves having visitors and playing host. You can see the pleasure he gets from showing people around – he’s got an incredible sense of direction.
During our 3 months in Chiang Mai, Thailand we had friends visit us on two separate occasions. With one friend, we went ziplinging through the jungle, visited an elephant sanctuary, and were serenaded by a Thai Elvis impersonator while eating dinner. With another friend, we re-visited some of the most beautiful temples, shopped some of the street markets, and had some delicious meals around the city.
In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam the tables were reversed and we visited friends that live in the city now. They played host for us, which was fantastic. And, amazingly, one of our son’s schoolmates from Portland happened to be visiting Ho Chi Minh City with his family while we were there, so we were able to meet them at a game arcade, a bowling alley, and have dinner with them a couple of times.
These brief visits have been some of our best memories from this travel adventure. We are so thankful for our intrepid friends. They have helped to make our experiences even richer for their presence.