Before the pandemic I had started my own little tradition of taking early morning walks in all the cities where I sleep. I love the peace and the silence at this time of day. Each city has a unique feel when it is empty, and it takes on a different personality. A few weeks ago I went for a long walk through the empty streets of Bilbao. There was hardly a soul on the street and none of the bars or cafeterias were open yet. It was so pleasant that I walked for much longer than I had planned.
As I walked that morning I was bombarded with different memories from my countless visits to this city. My thoughts included nights out with friends in the Casco Antiguo, walking to the Guggenheim for dinner with my groups, getting a cast put on my leg in the local hospital, drinking Txakoli with colleagues and sharing my love for this part of Spain with so many people.
I have been blessed to travel with many people who have touched my heart in different ways. Many have repeated tours with me or have come back to visit. We communicate through email and I receive holiday cards from them by snail mail. Several have become close friends and I think of them often. Throughout the pandemic so many of these people went beyond what it means to be caring and generous and it brought me to tears on occasions. I have thought about my guests and prayed that they have were healthy and safe throughout the past two years and I get worried when I don’t hear from them.
In Spring 2016 I had a mini group within one of my groups. During the welcome dinner in Lisbon they came up and asked me to guess which of the six of them were blood related. From that moment on we had a permanent connection. On one of our free nights in Bilbao they invited me to dinner at one of the Michelin star restaurants, Extanobe. Unforgettable doesn’t even begin to describe that evening filled with laughter, friendship, storytelling and amazing food. There are some guests that seem to emotionally adopt you and you are connected for life.
After each tour is over I receive many emails from my guests. This email is from one of those amazing people who I shared dinner with in Bilbao.
None of us will ever forget you. Nancy and I had been to Spain four times to Spain before that trip. Yet you took a wonderful trip and made it the trip against which we we measure not just trips to spain but all others. So to us, you are unforgettable. We all hope to see you, your husband, and beautiful daughter someday in San Antonio.
Nancy says she gets hungry every time she reads one of your stories.
Con abrazos,Al and Nancy Karam
P.S. I still remember the first words I said to you, “I already don’t like you because you live in Granada and I don’t!”
On my birthday last week I received a message that Al had passed away. My heart broke in two as I took myself back to the memories of his kind smile, laughter and all of the stories that he shared with me. We had a special connection.
“Margaret, here’s a little thing you may find interesting. We first arrived in the evening in Granada on our first trip to Spain summer 1994, our 25 anniversary . Since it was our anniversary, we had a room in the Hotel Alhambra…uh…what was the working class Leb. boy doing in this hotel? Since we were just relaxing we went to the grounds and started walking around for about an hour or so. There was hardly a soul there. We later learned that the place was closed and how were we able to sneak in? No sneaking, just walk into, I think, the Fatima gate. Ah… to be young and unknowing.” Al Karam
I will never forget you dear Al.
In loving memory.
10 thoughts on “In loving memory…………………………”
Beautiful post, Margaret. A loving remembrance of places and people. They go hand in hand. It’s the memories we share with others that makes a city or town we visit special. You are so lucky to have so many good memories.
Thank you! I do feel lucky and blessed to have these memories. Thank you again for the nice comment.
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Thank you for this post about Al. It brings back so many happy memories of that special trip and many others we have taken over the years. Nancy K
Much love to you and the rest of the gang. I will always remember my time with you.
Margaret, you are the angel for many of us who have had the privilege of traveling with you and Felipe.
Your remembrance of Al let’s us know how you value us.
I hope Al rests in peace and his wife gets some comfort in your post.
Marilyn and Victor
Thank you to you both. I am always sending loving energy to both of you! I appreciate you always keeping in touch with me. Much much love y abrazos!!
Dear Margret, Good to hear from you even in conjunction with some sad events. Sue and I spent last week in the Azores. On San Miguel and Treceia (sic). Good time, but not as good as our trip with you. Best wishes for happy holidays. Bob and Sue Kamm
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So nice to hear from you!! I’m glad to know that you have been traveling. We love the Azores. We were there a few years ago. I’m pretty sure I wrote a blog post about Sao Miguel. Much love to you both!!
What a beautiful tribute . You have a special talent that makes everyone comfortable that travels with you. It is Judy’s and my hope that we can travel again with you soon . Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year. Hugs and Love, Mike and Judy Madden
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I would love to travel with you both again!! Thank you for the kind message. Happy Holidays and may this New Year be filled with health, peace and love for you and the gang!!