Monday, March 9, 2009

Travels of Yore

Okay, they are not really travels from the distant past, but close enough. My first trip to Europe was in September 1998. I had invited Ron, my nephew who was at that time still in college, to accompany me on a three and half week guided tour of Western Europe. The tour started in London, went through Paris, Lucerne, Florence, Rome, Venice, Innsbruck, Munich, Heidelberg, Cologne, Amsterdam, and back to London. The tour had a lot of side trips such as a boat tour of Paris along the Seine, funicular and gondola ride up to the Swiss Alps, tour of Burano outside of Venice, a boat cruise along the Rhine, canal tour of Amsterdam, and many others. We enjoyed good meals at nice restaurants including a dinner in Rome with opera singers providing the entertainment, special lunch in Lucerne with Alpine music and yodeling, a lunch treat at Munich's Hofbrauhaus, and a dinner at an ornately decorated Chinese/Indonesian restaurant located along the harbor of Amsterdam. Since we were in a tour bus, we got to see a lot of the countryside. I have loads of pictures in neatly organized albums from this trip, but I only have a few digitized pictures.

Ron in London with the Tower Bridge behind:

Ron by London's Tower Bridge

With the Florence cityscape behind us. You can see the Duomo's distinctive top in the background:

Me and Ron in Florence

On the Rome leg of the tour, we visited the Colosseum. We had noticed two men dressed in Roman gladiator garb posing for picture with tourists. So I asked if I could take pictures with them while Ron takes the shot, and afterwards, I would do the same for Ron. After my picture was taken by Ron, one of them proceeded to demand money for their deed. I don't remember how much in lira they were demanding, but it was exorbitant enough that I refused to pay. They got angry and tried to scare me. I told them I would gladly call the police (who were conveniently nearby) to settle the issue. They gave up. I gave them about $5 equivalent for their troubles. Nevertheless, I got a picture with them, but Ron never got the chance. I don't have a digitized photo of that particular picture. I do have a picture of the Colosseum.

Rome's Coliseum

The Arc de Triomphe:

Paris' Arc de Triomphe

This trip was a great introduction to seeing the sights of Western Europe. It was also the impetus of me wanting to explore more of Europe on my own, not with a tour group. I have been back several times since with a six other backpackers, with two other backpackers, and in solo travels. I continue to travel the sights of Europe every chance I get. While working in Bosnia, I got to visit a few of the central/eastern European countries (Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic). Since I started working in Germany in July 2007, I have visited and revisited many sights of Western Europe. There are still a lot of places in Europe I would like to visit and revisit.

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