Have genes, will travel

Guest Blogger Linda Basnett, also known as Molly’s mom, shares her experiences with the buddymollys, both past and present, during a recent European holiday.

 I remember the day a toothless little girl looked up at me and proclaimed, “Mommy, I am always going to live with you.”

A few years later she announced “When I get big I am going to live in Chicago.” She asked if I would move there with her. This should have been my first inkling of her vagabond gene.

Coming from a close knit family where no one moves more than five to 10 miles from their birthplace, I was skeptical of her late teen move to St. Louis. She was artsy and St. Louis fostered her creative side. She needed to be in the middle of it all.  

I tried to understand her artwork beyond my pencil-drawn stick people. The family supported her gallery shows, although I am sure we were quite obviously slanting, eyebrows crossed, as we tried to understand the object or photo on display.

Her creative side emerged in high school and college showed us an amazing photographer. 

I was both amazed and jealous of her gutsy travels to pursue her passion – backpacking to Barcelona, and photo shoots in London and New York.

In 2006, Molly announced she was moving to Hawaii to work for a fellow photographer. I didn’t think of the distance, my “motherly mind” immediately registered a full time job with benefits - a first for my daughter.

In 2009, I received a call that she was getting married. Meeting my future son-in-law at the airport in Hawaii put my mind at ease. He was a “male Molly” and had the same thirst for travel and life.

It is now 2010 and I am in Germany visiting the two vagabonds. We spent a weekend in Poland, followed by a weekend in Austria - with German explorations in-between. My travels have now expanded past the U.S. borders.

Our two amazing tour guides have shown us the most beautiful countryside. I look around in awe of the culture and history, the universal smile as you greet someone – so much to soak up. 

My daughter has opened up a new world of travel for me and I'm happy to say this time I don't have to slant to understand it all, and I may even have my own vagabond gene emerging. 


Naked people and cuckoo clocks

For Labor Day weekend Jeremy and I set our sights on being pampered ... and a lot less clothed in this chilly weather. Three hours later, after dodging a near death experience with an impatient bus driver on the autobahn, we arrived in Baden Baden, Germany - hidden in the plush Black Forest.

Baden Baden literally translates to Bath Bath and the natural hot springs have been around since at least the Roman Empire. They later became a social center for 19th century European nobility. Now it mostly caters to slightly aging German tourists ... and us. 

After perusing the town for a few hours we visited the Friedrichsbad for a ritualistic cleansing known as the Roman-Irish Bath.

The harmonious bathing sequence (a 16-step ritual) is said to regenerate mind, body and soul.

The changing temperatures and varying baths, with their thermally generated, mineral-rich waters, scented saunas and the infamous soap & brush massage on a marble slab table given by a calm German lady with a rough hand (my back looks like I got into a cat fight, but it was totally worth it) adds to the overall experience. Oh and you're buck nekkid the entire time.

This is somewhat new to the prude nature of Americans, but sitting in a whirlpool between an 80-year-old man and prepubescent teenager is anything but strange here.

When your fingers start to prune and you feel squeaky clean, you are led into a quiet room where you lay on a table as attendants wrap you in a cocoon of blankets to slip off into prenatal unconsciousness. After 30 minutes you emerge as a naked human-butterfly person and bask in the glory of your total relaxation metamorphosis.

We did this - twice.

But a trip to the Black Forest is not complete without visiting a cuckoo clock museum, as this is what the region is also famous for, so on day three we pulled ourselves out of unconsciousness and took a scenic drive through the forest.

The clocks were elaborate and amazing and we had a grand time setting them all to midnight and dancing along with the figurines to the music - that was until we spotted the sign that said "Do not touch."

I also managed to snap the photo below before seeing the sign that said "No Photographs."

The trip to Black Forest reset our internal clocks and we bathed in our new "textilfrei" experience.


Catching the Gerburstag bug

Catch up time and I’m striking while the pen is still wet. Last night we celebrated the birthday of our friend Todd “Tad” Trivisonno (above) at our favorite local joint the Bayrish-Irish, which is a little bit of Bavaria, a little bit of Ireland, and somehow just feels like home.

Tad and Jeb (aka Jeff Carson) showed up fresh from the trachten outlet and their new outfits just might have earned them enough points to audition for the buddymollys. 

And speaking of Ireland, our most recent trip back to the motherland had us criss-crossing through the past and making loads of new memories as well. Molly had never been to Ireland, and I had never been to London, so we each planned the legs we knew best. 
Besides the great “craic,” fish & chips and music (to include some traditional sessions in which we participated and the Cambridge Folk Festival), incredible hiking and scenery in Northern Ireland and cruising London’s posh streets, I’d say the highlight of the 10-day trip was an unexpected surf session in Portrush. Even though it was our first time in wetsuits, we totally shredded Ireland’s north shore. 
In fact, I think we’re officially ready for the Bavarian surf scene – but that’s a story for another blog (in a few days).

2 illegitimate 2 quit

Like the surf I thought we had left behind in Hawaii, apparently I left some unfinished business when I left Dublin more than a decade ago.

Right before I flew out in 1998 I withdrew everything from my student checking account, or so I thought. There must have been less than an Irish pound in there. Every once in a while over the years I’d get a bank statement at my mom’s house, but I figured they’d eventually just close the account due to inactivity.

So during this trip we stopped into a local Bank of Ireland branch to see if we could finally close the account. (For the record, my mom wanted me to keep it because she thought it was cool to have an international bank account.)

My little neglected student account blossomed through the boom and recession and grown to a whopping 16 euros. Unfortunately, the teller said I had to show up in person at the branch where I opened the account (at the University College Dublin campus, about a 15-20 min. bus ride) to officially close it. Short on time and with more important things to do, we headed to the pub and eventually to the North that day.

I guess closing the account is something I won’t be able to 'bank' on anytime soon. (no service charge for puns on student accounts.)