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butchers in europe (part I)

If you’ve never been, go.

We’ve been talking about our goals as a married couple since our wedding almost a year ago (wow!).  After about 6 months, we hadn’t seen any of the goals come to fruition. The desires still existed, but the excuses were dominating. Money’s too tight, there’s not enough time, maybe next year would be better.  Our goal list, like the majority of peoples, is quite endless.  So around Christmas, we decided that we were going to begin working towards our goals… and then we got email from Eurail who was running a special on passes to travel around Europe.  We saw this as an opportunity to check one of the biggest goals off our list…Backpacking Europe, hand in hand. So on our way to a photo session, we bought train tickets for 7 travel days between 4 countries. We were committed.

This ignited a fire in us and showed us that, although sometimes scary, our goals were entirely attainable. With a few adjustments to our budget and cutting back on any “unnecessary” spending over the span of 4 months, we had plane tickets, train passes, and enough money saved up that we could come back without a credit card bill.

While counting down the days for our trip, time seemed to speed up and the cycles of life got in the way our personal time, our quality time. Putting our new home together, ‘keeping up’, worrying about friends and money…honest things we all struggle with. When the time came to pack for our trip, our hearts were heavy and jealous for time together….we were ready to go.

Sitting at the gate that read ‘Barcelona, Spain’, some of our dear friends called and prayed with us, and asked the Lord to keep us willing and open to marvel at His creation and to drink in whatever we were meant to learn while we were there.  Another friend texted us and said (in short), “Sleep when you’re home, and don’t pinch your pennies.”  These two thoughts made all the difference in our trip.

If we were referred a place to visit, we went.  If someone told us, “order the duck,” we ordered it, putting our fork down between every bite. When our hostel liaison in Switzerland told us to jump off the side of a mountain, we jumped! We drank in every experience we could, and marveled at the vastness of our surroundings.

Looking back, we remember the little things. When we ordered orange juice, they squeezed it right in front of us.  The bread was freshly baked every morning. The cheeses smelled SO BAD, but tasted SO GOOD. Between 3PM and 7PM you wouldn’t find a restaurant open because everyone was taking a break from the day. A Siesta. Dinner was a new experience too! The majority of menu items were made from fresh local produce and the meals lasted at least 2 hours without a smart phone in sight.  Every day, we witnessed people investing in quality.  Whether that was time with friends, a good meal, or even time alone. Their priorities were not focused on how much, but how good.  It was so inspiring.

The images below allow us to be reminded of those little memories. The bread, the cheeses, the old couples who walk hand in hand and inspire the love that Jen and I have for each other. They remind us that quality time with one another, with our friends and family is something we have to work for and protect.  And when daily life weighs heavy, we look back to these images and we’re reminded that it’s okay (and necessary) to slow down, to pause, to share a bottle of great wine, and to marvel at the wonders of our world.

Barcelona, Spain > Marseilles, France > Avignon/Rhone Valley, France