Jeremy’s story of how he began traveling is really special to me. Jeremy married into my family during the time that Ben and I had decided to move to France so I could study international business there. When I first met him, he was sure we weren’t going to like it, and according to him, he would never be interested in doing that. Jeremy’s story shows me that there is a type of travel for everyone and experiencing new cultures, while it can be intimidating at first, can change our lives in ways we couldn’t imagine.
Jeremy Kuehn first left his home country to visit Canada when he was 25 years old. “We flew into Calgary, then rented a car to go up to Banff. The part that stood out on the speedometer was Kilometers and not Miles Per Hour. So, I got a speeding ticket up there, got pulled over by a Canadian Royal Mounted Policeman. The ticket said ‘If you do not pay this, we’re not going to go after you, but if you come back in the country, we’ll arrest you’. I paid the ticket to the Crown of England pretty much. That was a really neat trip.”
The next time he left his home country wasn’t until he was 40 years old when he and his new wife Lorna were invited on a 14-day trip to Italy with Lorna’s brother and sister-in-law. “I was apprehensive. I like my freedoms here in the United States and I don’t get to exercise any of those anywhere else outside of the United States. So, I was apprehensive about going to Italy. But I was looking forward to it. The more we talked about the places we were going to go see, the more excited I got. We were planning on seeing the Vatican and St. Peters Basilica. The first portion of our trip was to Rome. We flew into Rome, then we took a train to the termini. It was within walking distance from the main attractions like the Colosseum, and the Vatican.” In addition to Jeremy’s initial concerns about not being able to carry his firearm, like he’s used to in the United States, he said “We had heard that there were Gypsies all over the place, thieves and pickpockets. We didn’t see a lot of gypsies, but there were a lot of refugees. There were a lot of people just selling their wares, right there on the sidewalk as you were walking down the streets. It was like a flea market a lot of the streets that you went to.”
We asked how it felt when he landed in Italy, outside of his home continent for the first time. “Just being with somebody that kind of speaks Spanish and Portuguese, so almost roughly translates to Italian, he was able to communicate for us. It was surprising that a lot of people spoke English anyway, so we really had no problems speaking with too many people other than a taxi driver that didn’t speak very much English at all.” “…I think we were under the impression that there were a lot of English-speaking people there because it’s a really touristy location. The majority of the people we spoke to spoke English and spoke it very well.”
“Walking through Santa Maria’s Basilica, right down the street from the hotel we were at, that was a really incredible experience, seeing all of the frescos, and the statues, and just seeing buildings that had been there for centuries, I knew I wanted to go back. It didn’t take long to get that bug to go back.” As he thought about how long it took for them to return to Italy, “Wow, was it under a year? Oh my gosh, it was under a year. So, it was 9 months between February and December. Italy is by far my favorite place to go, especially Rome.”
He has since been to Rome, Florence, Venice, Calgary, Banff, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, London, and Scotland. He and his wife have also considered purchasing a vacation home in Italy to allow them to continue to return as often as they like. Jeremy said “I still have a love of the United States and the freedoms that I have, but the history of the United States is only a couple hundred years old, and if you go to places like Rome, a building that’s a couple hundred years old is brand new. Most of the buildings in Rome are over a thousand years old. They remodel them; they tear them down to the skeleton of the building, but the skin on the building is the same, everything structurally on the build is the same inside, but each of those builds are over a thousand years old and it’s totally different. Talking with some of the people that we’ve met; we met a gal in Edinburgh, she was selling earrings and necklaces. She was from South Africa. I feel sorry for the freedoms they don’t get to enjoy, but they make do with what they have and they’re all wonderful people.”