This fall, my husband John and I joined 44 other people, retirees from all over the world, on a European tour. We traveled to Spain and Portugal – and even took a quick jaunt to Morocco. This was the first time we had taken a bus tour, and I have to admit I was a little apprehensive.

However, we found it to be delightful – especially when I realized we wouldn’t be on the bus the entire time. The travelers rotated bus seats each day, so when we traveled we were able to get to know one another. The trip was incredibly beautiful, relaxing and educational. Since all of the travelers were around our age, we found we had a lot in common and never lacked discussion topics.

According to my notes, these were the top eight topics discussed on our European Tour:

8. Length of Flight to Europe

Most of us have traveled overseas for years. We all admitted each year gets a little harder, but we certainly aren’t giving up! Many of us found we had sore legs the first day off a long flight, even after using TED hose. We were even very mature and tried to gross each other out by describing the dirty airplane bathrooms. They were rather clean at the beginning of the flight, but by the end of the flight, not so much. We also shared the movies we watched. I Feel Pretty and The Death of Stalin were both popular among the group.

7. Iberian Peninsula Food

Portugal and Spain have wonderful food. During the tour, It became a bit of a contest to see who could eat the most unusual dish. Those of us who ate 8-inch grilled sardines were the winners. Thank goodness they were grilled and not served in fish oil like some sardines are packaged in the U.S. I thought octopus would have been the most unusual, but everyone seemed to have previously tried it on another trip.

6. Retirement Age Touring

We found we weren’t that different from younger travelers. Some couples were always early, some couples were always late and most of us were right on time. I suppose it helped that our tour guide told us if we were ever late, then he would make us sing a solo for the group. We all knew he couldn’t make us sing, yet there was that threat that lingered over us the entire time.

Early on in the tour, we discovered all of the retirees were grandparents, and I was thrilled we’d found yet another connection.

5. Our Grandkids Moving into Their Grandparent’s Home

There was only one set of grandparents who shared this unique situation with a grandchild. The rest of us just listened and gave gentle support. After the offers of reassurance, the rest of us started to think about how we would react if we were in this situation. We appreciated the guidance of the couple who said their love for their grandchild was never ending, and they would do whatever they could to help them get back on their feet. It was a good model for us to remember and perhaps to prepare for – after all, you never know what could happen.

4. Our Grandkids Are So Smart

All the touring grandparents shared stories about their grandchildren’s brilliance. Some of the brilliance was based on academic achievements, while other lights of brilliance were based on different criteria, such as being mechanically inclined or the ability to knit at the age of 7. A tender moment was hearing about a grandchild with special needs who was finally able to read a book.

3. Our Grandkids are Cute.

All grandchildren are adorable. I think this fact is included in the Constitution of the United States of America. They’re adorable when they’re born, and they’ll always continue to be adorable in a grandparent’s eyes.

As a group, we laughed about their hair, whether they have no hair or wild hair. We shared stories about their teeth, and how many times a grandchild needed to have braces. Whether their age is 4 months or 20 years old, we discovered there’s not a thing wrong with any of them.

2. Our Grandkids are Actively Involved

Activities were varied across the board. Some grandkids loved music, while others loved reading. Some were athletically inclined and others liked to sleep. Yes, we all agreed sleep should be considered an activity – at least according to our aging grandparent group. This was confirmed by the fact that we all went to bed relatively early every night of the tour.

1. Our Grandkids are Giving

Our group had many tender discussions about how giving and loving our grandchildren are to others. Although the touring grandparents heeded an unspoken rule of no politics, we all agreed our grandchildren love to give back to their families and their communities. They care about immigrants, those in poverty, and those who are bullied. I felt hope and tenderness in my heart for future generations.

Our touring group’s spontaneous chats about our grandchildren were an interesting and an unexpected perk to the trip. Whether you’re from Australia, Italy or Nebraska – grandparents are similar. The love we all have for our grandchildren is amazing. My husband and I may never see any of our fellow travelers again, but we’ll forever feel delighted in our shared experiences. It makes the world seem a little smaller. Or perhaps the world seems smaller after the second pitcher of Sangria?

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

I have four grandchildren ages 14-17. In some ways, I’m a very typical grandma, always proud of everything the kids do and wanting to help support them in whatever way I can. In other ways, I’m not very typical. My goal as a blogger is to share my thoughts and experiences that I think are funny and meaningful as I adventure through grandmahood.

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