Joy in the Journey

You’ve heard the phrase, “the joy is in the journey.” We’ve found that to be true! If we’re taking time to enjoy the whole experience, then the trip itself – the journeying – becomes the adventure.

What makes the journey so pleasurable and exciting and gratifying are all the surprising discoveries we make along the way. Blessings of serendipity, we might call them, that remind us of the beauty that is all around us; the goodness of creation and the kindness of human hearts.

Two of our most favorite things about traveling are going places a lot of people miss and the people we meet along the way. When we keep our eyes open for blessings of joy as we journey, we’ll find them!

Appalachian Trail hikers refer to “trail magic” – small gifts of food, candy, or inspiration left by other hikers or friends of the AT that help boost the spirits and morale of backpackers making their way north or south. 

When we focus on the joy of the journey, we’ll discover a bountiful supply of trail magic along the way that encourages us to keep going, even in the face of challenges or difficulties. 

In 2018, we took a trip to Italy with another couple to day-hike the St. Francis Way, the portion from Assisi to Spoleto. On that hike, we all encountered blessing after blessing. Striking views, alluring locales, delightful people. 

This picture was at the beginning of our hike as the four of us made our way through the quaint and charming village of Assisi.

Doesn’t this steep, cobbled street just beckon you to climb it and discover what’s around the bend? Maybe a surprising, out-of-the way cafĂ©, or a small hotel with views to die for, or the home of a soon-to-become new friend who invites you in for a glass of wine.

This last scenario actually happened! As we left Assisi, we encountered some ruins, an old fort that was being restored. Four or five workers were there preparing the courtyard for a festival later that day. We apologized for interrupting.

That’s when Fabio opened his arms and welcomed us in! That’s him in the blue shirt. He wouldn’t speak English (though we suspected he could, having lived in the US for a time), and we didn’t speak Italian. 

But we all knew some Spanish…or at least enough to get by. We had a wonderful conversation about his work around the world and, of course, the restoration of the old castle we were in.

The really fun part? Wine at 9:30 in the morning! 

After taking us on a private tour of the ruins, Fabio broke out a huge jug of red table wine and a pan of fresh baked cake that he and his friends were reserving for lunch. We were humbled and amazed. 

What a great start to a remarkable hike. We still think it was the best wine we’ve ever had. (Maybe because we’d never had wine for breakfast before??) And when we gather with our friends to talk about our next trip, we invariably bring up Fabio and his gift of wine and friendship.

The joy is indeed in the journey, especially when you have your eyes and ears open for blessings of serendipity that are just around the next bend in the trail.

What surprising encounters or out-of-the-way locales have you stumbled upon in your travels? Share them with us! We love to hear about delightful discoveries. 


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