When I travel I of course take along a camera. I think photography helps you see things differently, helps you think and imagine. I also find that I like to photograph certain things a lot. I can’t pass up someone I see reading a book without trying to get a good picture of them. And I love photographing people who are photographing something else! I particularly love photographing doors.
They come in so many shapes and sizes, so many colors, so many textures. I have a whole collection of door photographs. And whenever I open up that file and idle away some time looking at them I end up pausing at one of them and wonder to myself where that door leads. All the doors I have photographed lead somewhere. There is a place beyond each of them. To me that serves as a metaphor for travel itself. By leaving home and going somewhere you have never been you are opening one of those doors and stepping through. You man have had a pretty good idea of what is behind that door, but until you push it open you won’t really know. Behind it are the sight, the smells, the sounds, the people, the places that so far have been only of your imagination. Walk on in and it becomes very real. So, I wonder what is behind these doors? Tell you what, come along with me in June 2013 and we’ll find out together!
I don’t know how they make this stuff. I go to stores where that claim they have it. I try it. I am deeply disappointed. Only in Italy do them make the real thing. And it is simply remarkable! I have no idea what their secrets are, but I am sure there is some magic to it. Two of my sons are lactose intolerant, and yet they ate and ate and ate Gelato and thrived. My eldest son holds the tour record for 23 in one day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight snack – it doesn’t matter.
The Gelato flavors are nearly surreal. From Chocolate to Kiwi to Pistachio to Rice (Riso – my favorite) to any fruit you can imagine and some you can’t, it is a divine delight. So when in Italy dive in. Look over the amazing variety. Be daring and adventurous. There is more to life than chocolate and vanilla (although I always have some). Then, when you come home and go the ice cream aisle of you supermarket you will pause, look rather sad, and utter a forlorn sigh. Gelato – the foundation of the Mediterranean Diet!!!!!!
Europe has a beauty that is diverse and breathtaking, from the natural to the man made. North or South, East or West, everywhere you go there is so much that is just inspiring and, well, beautiful!
Perhaps one of the most beautiful, most perfect buildings is the Pantheon in the heart of Rome. Built by the Emperor Hadiran in about 170 A.D., it is the only Roman building remaining intact. When Germanic tribes swept through Rome to despoil it of its treasures the Pantheon stopped them in their tracks. They refused to destroy it. They were in awe, as we are today, of this spectacular building. No picture does it justice. It is one of those places you just have to experience for yourself.
They were going to tear this down when the World’s Fair was over. Parisians hated it. Beaudelaire would eat lunch in the cafe on the first floor every day because, as he said, it was the only place he could go in Paris where he didn’t have to see the thing. Well, Parisians are not the only ones today who cannot imagine Paris without it. It is one of those monuments that is so much more impressive in person. You finally realize – it is BIG! Really BIG!
And then there is the beauty of nature. On a clear day in the Swiss Alps it is hard to imagine anything more sublime. The Swiss love their mountains and spend a lot of time in them themselves. They also work hard to preserve them. We join them in their love of their mountains with a hike of our own right here at the base of the Jungfrau. If the weather cooperates you’ll never forget your day in the Alps.
But not all of Europe’s beauty is found in the grand. Much of it is right at your feet! So don’t always be looking up. Keep your eyes and ears open to everything around you and you are bound to fill your travel with beauty. It will enrich you trip immeasurably!
Pigeons eating off the top of your head. I’d say that was unexpected! And it is the unexpected that enlivens any trip through Europe. On our tours we actually seek out the unexpected. Sure, we see all of the wonderful things that you must see on a tour of Europe, and we love them and are thrilled by them. But we also seek out those “moments” that give a spark to travel that makes it all so memorable.
Take the time to admire the street performs that are everywhere in Europe. Some are seriously legit, like this guy in Paris.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Interlaken was filled with the foul smell of this cheese, but on a dare we tried it. Surprise! It was absolutely delicious! Honest!
Chat it up with the locals. You’ll learn a lot about the people and places that you would not learn otherwise.
So seek out and enjoy the unexpected. Don’t get caught in the typical tourist trap of only seeing the major sights. Get out, get looking, have fun!
For the past few years there have been a lot of mothers and daughters come along on our tours. My wife and I only had sons so the whole daughter business is terra incognita to me, but I have noticed the wonderful relationships between moms and their girls as I have traveled with them through Europe. There is a bond between them that traveling together in this wonderful place only deepens.
It’s not that the daughter knows mom has the credit card! Yes, they do have fun shopping I suppose, but it is the experience they share. They get to tell each other right then and there about the wonders they are seeing, about the feelings a great work of art inspires, about the sights and sounds and smells of Europe that they love ( and the things they don’t!) They get to share some invaluable time together away from home and work and school and husbands and boys. They share the trill of travel and the thrill of being together.
So for the moms and daughters out there who are wishing for some seriously quality time together before the inexorable march of time takes you away from one another, think about three weeks in Europe on our 2012 Grand Tour. If you ask me, or better yet if you ask the moms and daughters who have come over the years, I think you’ll get an enthusiastic two thumbs up!
Travel can be serious business. There is a lot to see, a lot to learn, a lot to experience. It can get intense in places like Rome or Paris, and you have to take time in places like that to just sit once in a while and watch the city go by. But travel is not all intense and serious all the time. Once in a while you just need to cut loose!
Europe is, after all, FUN! And in the midst of all there is to learn and see and do, don’t forget that you are there to have a great time! You’ll probably forget a lot of the names and dates and stuff like that, but you’ll never forget the moments when you had great fun! So keep that in mind as you plan to come along with us in 2012. We’ll be some serious travelers alright, but I guarantee you we are going to have FUN!
The 2011 Grand Tour was GREAT trip with a GREAT group of intrepid travelers! It will go down in history as the year of the extras. It seems that everywhere we went there was something special going on that we got to be a part of. It was wonderful. We put in a lot of miles, ate a lot of good food, saw and experienced so much. I wonder what is in store for the group of 2012?