As we prepared to move to Dubai in the summer of 2010, one of the things that filled me with anticipation was the travel possibilities promised by my expatriate friends. It’s true, one of the greatest benefits of expatriate life is accessible and affordable travel. Those of us living in the Middle East are fortunate. Our airports, especially in Doha and Dubai, have become hubs for travel all over the world. We can scratch that adventurous itch without breaking the bank. This year, when Hannah’s spring break from the American School of Dubai approached, we recognized the opportunity to finally fulfill a Ralston family tradition thanks to her grandparent’s legacy. Jack and Jeannette Ralston were themselves an expat family. In the early 70’s, Jack Ralston’s position with Eastman took them abroad to Zug, Switzerland for four years. That experience left the senior Ralstons with a desire to pass on the travel tradition to each one of their fifteen grandchildren. One by one, in the year of their sixteenth birthday, they were the recipients of a grand trip to Europe with Gram and Papa (and without Mom and Dad), ending in a visit to Zug, where their parents had lived as children. For fifteen years the tradition continued but as grandchild number ten approached sixteen, it became clear that the Europe trip might be in jeopardy. In spite of being the most energetic octogenarians around, Gram and Papa decided it was ok to pass on the role of travel guide to someone else. Since it wasn’t possible for Hannah’s grandparents to take her, they agreed to let Jeff and I take their place. The Ralston Europe trips are stuff of legend, now intertwined in the family folklore and ours will be no exception. Boy, do I have some stories! I look forward to sharing our times with you over the next couple of weeks as I reflect back on this amazing trek. Especially poignant is Jeff’s visit to his childhood home of Zug.
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