Hoi, Ciao, Bonjour

Bucket lists… are a funny thing. Or maybe we are funny about them? Growing up, I had a bucket list and imagined I would someday start checking things off it. But to be honest, there weren’t a lot of things on that list because a bucket list was supposed to be filled with extravagant to-do’s. Things I shouldn’t be able to accomplish or afford until way later in life, in other words, things I didn’t even know I wanted to do yet.

Then Dad’s words, Andy’s messages and Jim’s philosophies started sinking in. In Dad’s words, Enjoy life and spend the money (if you can), you can’t take it with you. And then there’s Andy who says, You shouldn’t have a bucket list. A bucket list indicates it will only happen once in a lifetime. Make it happen as many times as you want it to. Late to the game, but still with some words of wisdom (though never tell him about this credit), my brother-in-law, Jim, who believes, you don’t wait for the special occasion. You make any occasion special.

For the last few years, Andy and I tried to fulfill the goal of alternating each year between a house project and a trip. Prioritizing new places over repeats, an unwritten family rule.

I love rules and I love following them, unless that rule is stupid.
― Anna Kendrick

Upon our arrival in Amsterdam, we decided one of our previously established rules may fall under the stupid category and modified it.  We decided to attempt to travel at least 1x a month. It would be silly not to take advantage of our European home base.

Now, as previously mentioned, there aren’t/weren’t a lot of items on my bucket list. However, there are a few items, and one of them includes traveling Europe with my parents.

As random conversations of traveling to Italy and France gradually turned into excel sheets with arrival and departure times, I couldn’t help but recall the refreshing taste of gelato alla fregola, dream of a croque madame at a French café and anticipate all the memories to be made as the Van Carldolphs were about to take on Amsterdam, Cinque Terra, and Paris!


Now, it’s no secret the 7 of us, Mom, Dad, Morgan, Jim, Andy, Cooper and myself have all spent plenty of time together over the years, but as you know everything is a little bit different when traveling…

For example, definitions of coffee time…heck even definitions of morning. What sounds like an adventure for some, may be hell for others. And for each what a how should follow..now, some prefer to prepare for the how and other’s prefer to just let it unfold.

Andy and I have always said that we prefer to explore a city through our bellies, turns out this is true for the Van Carldolphs:

As much as we enjoy food, we are also fully aware that we all need it…and the window for that needing to take place is narrow. Unfortunately, the hangry curse has been passed onto Cooper (emergency crepes):

All rules, stupid or not, are allowed to be broken under certain circumstances:

…and when convince outweighs cost, it’s ok (take the cab over the train):

I haven’t been Everywhere but it’s on my list. –Susan Sontag

While my bucket list may be short and my pockets lean, my ability to see the beauty in these opportunities is grand:

They say,

The best things in life are the people you love, the places you see, and the memories you’ve made along the way. -Author Unknown

If that’s true, this European adventure was one of the best things.

A few more images of the memories made:

and a few where we just weren’t able to capture the moment digitally:

  • I sent the men on a fishing trip in Italy for Andy’s birthday. They all swore it was great, even though they didn’t catch anything…It later came up that when they pulled up their lines (at the end of the trip) they were tangled. Happy Birthday Andy???
  • You saw a picture of the Leaning Tower. This was an added pit stop on the way to the airport for Mom and Dad. What you didn’t see was a photo of Cooper and I covered in the back of a cab with 2 rounds of puke. (The cab driver took us seriously when we said time was limited.)
  • Cooper could have a book of all the indecent exposure moments he’s had across Europe…when you gotta go, you gotta go.
  • Last but not least, let’s not forget when you do for your loved ones…like travel an hour across Paris to the new hotel, only to then travel the hour back across town because you really do care about seeing that museum. Luckily along the way you passed the amazing macaroon’s your sister had been searching for!

As we sat in Mom and Dad’s hotel room on our last evening, drinking the rest of the hotel beers, sampling a few more macaroons, guessing the flavors of chocolates, countering the sweets with some French cheese, and picking at more pastries than 7 people should ever be allowed to have at once, we began to reflect on the adventures.

Morgan mentioned her and Jim always try to leave something to come back to when they travel. As I pondered what this was for me, I decided it would be going through Notre Dame. While everyone else went through it, Andy, Cooper and I spent time outside of the cathedral as Cooper was having a bit of a hangry moment.

That was Friday.

On Monday, it caught on fire.

As we sat back in Amsterdam staring at the t.v in silence, I continued thinking about this bucket list adventure. I vowed to myself to continue finding the balance between taking advantage of the moment, and leaving some things to come back to. Either way, no regrets.

Occasionally, taking advantage of the moment involves fulfilling someone else’s bucket list. That’s Keukenof. An item on Mom’s bucket list, one I could take or leave depending on the day. However, she was adamant that we go. Given we gifted her tickets for Christmas, I was somewhat obligated to attend. What an experience! At the end of the day, this too was an unforgettable moment and, again, I was reminded of the importance of stepping outside your box. Occasionally, something that sounds like hell for you and an adventure for someone else ends up being incredible for both.

As I think back to the opening of this blog, I need it to be known that while the first Van Carldolph European adventure was a success, and a check on my bucket list, I sure as hell hope it’s not a once in a lifetime experience! The only difference will be that the next one must include the Rau’s and…

Baby Van Dellen #2, who is due to arrive October, 2019!

4 thoughts on “Hoi, Ciao, Bonjour

  1. The best ending yet!! Love you guys and loved reflecting on our travels together this morning over my coffee 🙂

  2. I have loved reading your blog posts and living vicariously through you! I’m so excited to hear about your next adventures, now as a family of four! Much love!! Xoxo

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