Boomeresque:Definition
1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

On the Road in Spain with Our #2 Boomlet

by Suzanne Fluhr on September 4, 2012 · 16 comments

This article appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Travel Section on September 2, 2012.  (It has since disappeared from their website. So much for my 5 seconds of local fame.)

When our son was a high school student in a suburb of Philadelphia, he rejected my advice that it was very helpful to learn a foreign language, especially Spanish. He did the least amount possible to earn B’s in Spanish classes and made no effort to approximate the accent of any Spanish-speaking country. Consequently, he was pretty much a mono-linguist when we delivered him to his climate-based college choice – the University of Miami.

I soon started receiving calls from him inquiring about the family dog, and by the way, “What’s the pluperfect subjunctive of the verb estar?” This helped me not be stunned when he chose to spend a sophomore semester studying in Barcelona, Spain. When he subsequently floated the idea of spending a summer taking an intensive Spanish course in Argentina, he met my incredulous look with body language that said, “Whaaat?” and the pronouncement, “I’m a citizen of the world.”

Still, I admit to some surprise when he chose to spend his junior year spring break in 2009 traveling with me in Spain, rather than joining his friends in Cancun.

Arriving separately, we managed to find each other at the sprawling Madrid airport and rented a car. I was relieved when he agreed to be the designated driver – even when I learned that the only thing he dislikes more than driving is the thought of me driving. We set out on our best behaviors, with a GPS unit, a detailed road atlas, and Google Earth.

With memories of my son’s not-so-long-ago contrarian teenage phase, I was silently pleased to realize that, in addition to my passion for Spanish, he also inherited my wanderlust and fascination with history. We marveled at the Roman aqueduct in Segovia; the preserved medieval city walls of Avila; the glow of sunset on the cathedral in Salamanca; and the view of Toledo from across the Tagus River, still so similar to the one captured on canvas by El Greco in 1597.

Sunset Glow on the Cathedral of Salamanca, Spain

Sunset Glow on the Cathedral of Salamanca, Spain

In Toledo, we were drawn to the Sephardic Museum, dedicated to the history of the Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 by the Inquisition of Ferdinand and Isabella – the dark side of the “enlightened” monarchs who sponsored the voyages of Christopher Columbus.

Our son’s last name, Albelda, is of Sephardic origin. His Bulgaria-born great-grandmother, who lived to be 97, spoke Ladino, the Spanish of 1492, nurtured through the Diaspora and the centuries by the Sephardim (Spanish Jews). The Sephardic Museum in Toledo adjoins the Sinagoga del Transito, the exquisite restored synagogue built by Moorish (Islamic) craftsmen in the 14th century. We explored the synagogue together, but by mutual agreement and in the interest of familial harmony, we toured the museum’s exhibits separately. I found my son waiting for me in the museum’s bookstore, perusing a book about Sephardic surnames. I felt a shiver when the book informed us that the name inherited by my self-proclaimed citizen of the world means citizen.

Jeremy Albelda--Tagus River Gorge, Toledo, Spain

My “Citizen of the World” at the Tagus River Gorge, Toledo, Spain

Update: April 10, 2016: So our self-proclaimed citizen of the world grew up to be……a citizen of the world. He started a travel blog before I did and he is now a self-supporting (amen) digital nomad, relishing slow travel. After a few months in Mexico, he is now in Singapore. Japan is his next stop, followed by Spain and I don’t think he has decided where to after that. 

Have you done any travels with older teen or young adult offspring or other close relatives? If so, how’d it go?

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar bermtopia September 6, 2012 at 2:01 am

Oh, how I enjoyed this post! I’ve traveled to Europe twice with the Number2Son — both over Thanksgiving breaks. The first trip was London, November 2003, when he was 17. The second was Amsterdam, November 2009, at the ripe old age of 23.

Traveling with a 17-year-old, you worry about being able to pry them out of bed in the morning to get on the with day. (Fortunately, the N2S takes me seriously when I say, “Daylight’s a’ burnin’ when traveling abroad.)

And with a 23-year-old, you find yourself in deep, serious discussions over steins of Dutch beer explaining why you won’t underwrite visits to Amsterdam coffee shops. What a difference 6 years makes.

That being said, like you and your son, the N2S and are I history junkies. . . and also soccer junkies. . . art junkies. . . and quirky junkies. We loved every minute of taking in the Churchill War Rooms, Dutch Resistance Museum, Amsterdam’s Torture Museum (yeah, that was a BIT weird), mummies at the British Museum (I later totally geeked out in the medieval exhibits much to the N2S’ embarrassment), Jack the Ripper night walk, Rembrandt’s house, and an English Premier League game. . . whew, and that’s just scratching the surface of the stuff we did. As anyone who travels with me would attest, we do enjoy full days.

Bottom line, traveling one-on-one with one of your kids — especially, I think, in the later teens and early 20s — is a special, amazing experience. Thanks for sharing yours!

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer September 6, 2012 at 2:34 am

Thanks for sharing your traveling with an older child experiences. This same child who was an excellent travel companion at age 21 in Spain and in London, was a nightmare when we took him to Gettysburg at age 7. We have pictures of him and his brother looking absolutely miserable on that trip which is still discussed in family lore. We laugh about it now, but at the time…..

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avatar Montecristo Travels September 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Citizen?? Oh how perfect is that?

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer September 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Now our self proclaimed “Citizen of the World” is in the Philippines with a two month inchoate Asian itinerary. You can follow his comings and goings at http://www.theworldorbust.com (Caveat: I don’t always approve of his language or “get” his Millennial cultural references–but at least he knows how to write in full sentences—when he chooses to).

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avatar Montecristo Travels September 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm

LMAO … noted! and thanks! I will go see! I love most travel blogs – especially if they are of storytelling nature. I think I fall in-between age wise so I may not get all the references either!

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avatar Margaret Blank November 25, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Thoroughly enjoyed reading about your trip with your son. It must have been so satisfying, if a little unsettling, to go looking into your family history at an international level.

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avatar Betsy Wuebker April 11, 2016 at 12:47 am

What a wonderful post this is for so many reasons. Traveling with our kids one-on-one is a gift long remembered. I love the “citizen” discovery. Thanks, Universe! 🙂

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avatar noel April 11, 2016 at 1:56 am

Wonderful read Suzanne, so wonderful to see how well your relationship still shares amazing shared travel experiences….bravo!

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avatar Anita @ No Particular Place To Go April 11, 2016 at 4:15 am

Loved this reflection, Susanne! There aren’t many things better in life than spending time with your grown kids and traveling seems to me to be the perfect thing to do. We can’t wait to have our son and grandson visit us in Portugal and show them some of the things we love as well as discover other places. And thanks to your mention of Toledo, I’ve added it to our itinerary for when we next cross the border into Spain!

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avatar Grey World Nomads April 11, 2016 at 6:24 am

I did some travels with my kids. Having four children I figured it would be good to travel with one at the time to give every kid a treat of its own. Most experiences were great but one which was a bit of a battle as I had to hike up to the Lost City in Colombia. That was not very enjoyable. https://travelbug.co/2014/08/01/searching-for-the-lost-city/
Also Naomi, my daughter, didn’t feel very well during the whole trip. Other than that I enjoyed all of the trips.

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avatar Janice Chung April 11, 2016 at 12:09 pm

Suzanne, I loved reading your story. You are so very lucky to have a son who was WILLING to travel with his mother. Touring the museum’s exhibits separately was a wise decision and I find that when travelling with family or friends one needs some “space”. Fortunately, those I travel with need their space during our trips as much as I do.

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avatar Janice Chung April 11, 2016 at 12:30 pm

I should add……and that YOU were willing to travel with your son!

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avatar Marilyn Jones April 11, 2016 at 6:10 pm

I love traveling with my children! I really enjoyed reading about your adventure. And your Cathedral of Salamanca photo is awesome!

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avatar Irene S. Levine April 11, 2016 at 8:04 pm

The burning question: Do you share guest posts? 🙂

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avatar Michelle April 12, 2016 at 12:42 pm

My favorite trips are with my daughter and I think it’s wonderful that your son was inspired to start his own travel blog. Congratulations on being published in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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