I just returned to Toledo after spending over two weeks in a variety of cities in the Iberian Peninsula on a trip that turned out to be spent far more on vacation than research, unless you consider cultural immersion to be a legitimate form of research. In that time I polished my skills in speaking Portuguese and Spanish, visited a ton of historical sites, and learned a great deal about places I previously only experienced through films and books.
Yet I missed my house, my family, and my dogs, and it was with considerable joy that I pulled up in my driveway late this evening after spending 14 hours traveling from Barcelona to Paris to Detroit.
I think that - at least for me - 10 days is a sufficient amount of time to travel, and that trips longer than this create more stres than they alleviate. I found myself increasingly looking forward to the day I flew back, and the last few days in Lisbon and Barcelona lost their novelty.
But being away from home conversely makes a person appreciate the place more, and I found myself drifting away from Iberian restaurants and castles, wondering instead what was happening at home. I especially missed the companionship of my dogs, whose absence made me seek out canines to pet in Spain and Portugal.
Finally, there is simply no substitute for the everyday comforts of home. I quickly tired of European-style single beds in which my lanky frame meant that my feet hung over the edges of the beds, and there is much to be said for having easy access to a washer and dryer. I washed my clothes in the sink for the past week, and - though clean - they still gathered a scent that can only be described as "funky."
Home, sweet home: perhaps sometimes dull, but everything you need is right there. The same cannot be said for even the finest cruises, although I wouldn't mind a maid and a ship's steward around the house.