My first flight ever was just mere days after turning 12 years old across the Atlantic Ocean to a new life in America. It would be another several years before I would set foot in the ocean. I was in High School and my friend’s parents’ were brave enough to chaperon four teenage girls on a Spring Break trip to Florida. I don’t remember us (my parents, myself and my sister) ever taking a vacation as a family in America, life was hard enough trying to make ends meet in a new country. For those reasons, I vowed to one day take my parents to see the ocean, especially my dad who might as well been a fish in another life. So, after a long twenty-three years of being in the United States and a year of postponement due to the pandemic, that day finally came! Because traveling has always been a special luxury, I still to this day treasure every single trip I take, reminding myself to never take it for granted. Being able to peruse through previous trips always brings me back to those joyous moments, which is why I love writing these blog posts.
Not only was this the first time my parents saw the ocean, but it was also Vesna’s first vacation. Her first flight was at 6 months old when she and Jason joined me for a work trip to Boston. She mostly snoozed through that first flight (as I remember being pleasantly surprised that I was able to get through three episodes of Killing Eve while she slept in my arms), so seeing her enthusiastic reaction when she first saw the plane was all the joy we needed after the events of this past year.
Initially, our plan was to travel to For Myers, Florida in March of 2020, but alas, none of us could have imagined what 2020 would have in store. After postponing the trip several times, I decided to try a new location, Sanibel Island, Florida, booking us a vacation package through Sun Country. I had heard of Sanibel Island through several people who had been there and after reading that it was considered the best shelling spot in North America, I knew that that’s where we needed to go!
We stayed at Sundial Beach Resort and Spa in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment (because who wants to share a bathroom with their in-laws) and even though it was hurricane season, we lucked out with the most perfect beach weather and an occasional Florida rain shower that quickly passed. I typically don’t care to mention where we stay when we travel, but Sundial was absolutely amazing with some of the nicest staff I have come across when traveling. It also helped that it wasn’t the busy season, so we literally felt like we at times had the beach to ourselves.
The first day we arrived, we went straight to the beach and I will never forget my dad’s face as he ran into the ocean, exclaiming “the water is so warm!” – it all made those long years worthwhile. Vesna, her little beach bucket in hand, was a little more apprehensive of the waves on her first day, but she quickly found her spot with all the sea shells and started playing in the sand right away.
We spent the next four days at the beach all day and I remember the first moment we were all in the ocean together, my little family plus my dad and mom, and I remember thinking to myself how I wish I could freeze this moment. Before our first day was even up, my dad was already talking about wanting to come back next year again. Vesna quickly picked up on the daily routine and would grab her beach bag and all of our shoes eager to start the day playing in the sand. Landing back in Minneapolis, as we were waiting to disembark the plane, for the first time on that trip, my mom turned to me and said – “bilo nam je pravo dobro”.
Hope to see you again Sanibel Island!