I have a confession to make, I am kind of obsessed with today’s guest blogger and her handsome beau! They are basically the cutest and I’m not ashamed to admit I totally ship them. They’re always out and about taking adorable road trips, doing adorable things and being very adorable. Lindsey from Bring My Books is always down for an adventure and I knew she’d be the perfect person to share her travel bucket list with all of us. Girlfriend did NOT disappoint. Her epic European adventure is a dream come true and now my life won’t be complete until I grab a Eurail pass and recreate it myself. BUT, like Lindsey says, I need to win the lottery first! In the mean time, I’m currently exploring the gorgeous countryside of Switzerland!
When Sarah asked me if I wanted to participate in her blog feature about our Travel Bucket Lists, I knew I couldn’t turn her down! I’m by no means a current world traveler (I don’t even have my passport yet! *sobs*), but the allure of traveling and far off places and historical sightseeing has always been something I’ve been drawn to. If you’ve seen pictures of my apartment, you would know this to be true – it’s covered in maps and old globes and history textbooks and most especially, and very important in terms of this blog post, it’s filled with historical texts and books about Germany.
When I was in 7th grade, I had to take a Language class – and since baby Lindsey already had her sights set on college and looking good on those transcripts, I went for Latin. I showed up on the first day of Latin class to find out that (SHOCKER) only two students had enrolled and the school couldn’t afford to pay a teacher for just the two of us … so I was told (on the spot, I might add) to pick German or Spanish. By this point, I was already a pretty avid reader of all things Holocaust and WWII Germany, so for me it was a no brainer – German! I was incredibly lucky to have the absolute best German teacher for those last two years of middle school, and even luckier to have her for all four years of high school as well! (We both ended up going to brand new school that opened up, so she was my teacher for a whopping 6 straight years!)
One of my projects for German V, in my junior year, was to create a travel itinerary for Europe – focusing on German speaking countries and the Sehenswurdigkeiten (sight-seeing-places) of note in those countries. It’s been almost 15 years, but that project has always stuck with me. The idea of using the Eurail (I think then it was the Euro Rail?) and being able to travel between countries and cities with such astonishing historical significances with ease was remarkable to me at the time, and for that reason it remains at the top of my travel bucket list!
For the purposes of this trip, I plan to be in each city for about 1-2 days, and on this trip for about 2 1/2 weeks. It’s also important to note that for the purposes of this trip, I won some sort of crazy grand prize thing and money is not an object of concern. Rather than focusing on the specific historical significance of each locale I mention, I’ll be more so talking about history and traveling and what those two things mean to me.
First, a quick overview of my travel plans!
Prague, Czech Republic
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been pretty serious about history, far-off places, and how connected we all are to the places that we are now and the people that were here before us. I’m not entirely sure how it started, but I have strong memories of standing in my front yard and wondering if Pocahontas once stood there, or Chief Powhatan, or John Smith (I grew up very close to Jamestown and we frequented the settlement often on field trips as kids, not to mention the film Pocahontas came out when I was 7!) That turned into a lifelong sense of traveling/history/museums/landmarks being more so tied to the feeling of being there and the connectedness of my moment with that place and so many others’ before me.
(It sounds so hokey to write it out like that, but I swear it’s exactly that.)
There are so many reasons that I love being an American, and having been born in this country and being given all of the opportunities I’ve been given in my life. There are also so many places in the United States that are filled with history and meaning; so many awe-inspiring places that I could (and do) want to travel to someday.
That being said, for me, it’s always been Europe. The history of that continent is so completely overwhelming in all of the best ways. As a kid, my bedtime stories were about Eleanor of Aquitaine and Alexandra Feodorovna (although at the time, I didn’t realize the stories my mother was telling me were based on actual people and their histories!). For this reason, the romanticism of Europe was definitely solid in my brain from a very young age.
(Now, a quick aside: I know as you’re scrolling through here and looking at the 5 main things that I’ve chosen to see in each city, you’re probably thinking, “Uh. Lindsey. Ain’t no way you’re going to be able to do that many things, etc etc.”
Well – this next part here is going to be about me, a little bit about the West Coast of the US, a little bit more about NYC, and a lot about what I realized about myself through those two trips.
About 5 years ago, a friend and I went on a whirlwind 10 day, 8 city tour of the west coast. A lot of our friends and co-workers told us that we were crazy, that we’d be missing so much by trying to jam so much stuff into such a short trip, and that we would be better off to pick one or two cities and really dive in.
Earlier this year, I went to NYC for Book Expo America – my second BEA in the city and probably my 7th time visiting NYC in general. I knew I would have an entire day by myself, and quickly set out to make plans to see anything and everything I could: the MET, the Museum of National History, the NYPL, the Highline, Chelsea Market, Grand Central Terminal, Central Park, Chinatown, the Flatiron Building, and the East Village. Again, people told me I was crazy and that I should just hang out at the Museum of National History or maybe read in the park.
Ok, so first of all – we didn’t get to do everything we wanted while on the West Coast, and I didn’t get to see everything I wanted while in NYC this year (ONE DAY, Chinatown … ONE DAY.).
However – both of those trips were some of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my entire life. I got to see SO MUCH and I will never forget all of the things I saw and experienced. And because of how wonderful my trip to the West Coast was, I maintained that I would rather see a little bit of a LOT of things rather than the other way around. And after my trip to NYC this year, that feeling is officially cemented as the Lindsey-Bangs-Rowe-Way-To-Travel. (Trademark Pending.)
So, all of that being said – my travel bucket list is to go to each one of these cities and soak up as much as I possibly can of the sights and sounds and the feeling of being there – in places that millions upon millions have been before me, and of places that have survived wars and famine, heartbreak and death. Standing in places that have endured throughout centuries; throughout epochs and eras. I mean, come on – doesn’t that just SPEAK TO YOU?
I want to stand at the Munich Frauenkirche; want to rest my hand on the walls of one of the church that survived WWII. I want to stand on the Charles Bridge and close my eyes and think about the 600 years that have passed since it was completed, and how many people traversed that bridge on their way to someone, something, or somewhere. I want to stand in the cemeteries and feel the awe of history and love and memory and sorrow and hope.
(This sounds heavy handed as all get out, but I swear to you I am not exaggerating. These are very real and very strong things that I’m feeling (and have always felt) when it comes to traveling as it relates to history. I’m a very intense person, y’all. I can’t help it.)
So what all of this comes down to is that I would very much like to SEE ALL OF THE THINGS and GO TO ALL OF THE PLACES and FEEL ALL OF THE FEELINGS.
(Tried to lighten the mood a bit, how’d that go?)
And for good measure, once all that SEEING and GOING and FEELING is out of the way, I’m going to rent me a BMW 02 Series car in Bern, and I’m going to travel at the most leisurely of leisure-ish speeds through northern Switzerland and southern Germany until I get to Neuschwanstein Castle (and because, if you remember, this is a trip where all expenses are taken care of and I’m totally doing whatever I want), I am going to spend 3 whole days exploring JUST that castle, top to bottom, inside and out, every nook and cranny.
A) Because HISTORY and ROMANTICISM and GRANDEUR and DUH
B) Because Disneyland Castle
C) Because this gives me a chance to see if the “see as much of one thing as possible” has anything going for it
D) BECAUSE CASTLE
(BMW 02 Series)
Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog, Sarah! This post was an absolute BLAST to write and has me seriously jonesing for a passport and access to a bank account with unlimited funds!
Have any of you ever visited any of these cities? If so, what was your favorite part?? If not, do you want to visit these or would you pick other cities in and around Germany? How do you travel – a lot of a little or a little of a lot? I’d love to chat with you!