Magic Moments: 2005
Just a few magic moments in a trip can make it a success in your mind for the rest of your life. The moon rising over the Jungfrau...being alone at your own private Stonehenge...feeling Celtic pride well up in your non-Celtic soul after hours of traditional music in an Irish pub...meeting your "Old World" relatives for the first time. Do you have a favorite magic moment from your European experience?
One time in Munich...
I was traveling alone at this point. The plan was to catch a train from Prague to Munich, transfer to another train that will take me from Munich to Venice. 10 minutes was all the time allotted for me to make the train switch. No problem, plenty of time! Well, we were expected in Munich at 11:30pm but our train ended up being an hour and a half late arriving 1:00am. Why? Because apparently around Octoberfest people get too drunk and start reflecting on their life's worth and some attempt suicide by lying down on the train tracks. Once a report of such activity is announced to the conductors/train operators, they have to slow the train down to about 10 mph in case there is someone lying on the tracks. As far as I know the coast was clear that night but it made me miss my train to Venice and there wasn't another train leaving until 7:00am the next day. There I was alone, didn't know a word of German, stuck at Munich train station for the next 6 hours surrounded by people drunk as all hell, pissing and vomitting anywhere they please (however vulgar it sounds it made for great entertainment). Luckily, I came across a few fellow travelers on the train that were also headed to Venice. I searched them out determined to make friends in what seemed like a hostile environment. I was successful, saw them standing around by Burger King and made contact. For the next 14 hours these guys (and girl) were my family, telling life stories, making jokes, looking after each other. Even up to this day I feel this sort of connection with them, a connection only travelers can conjure up and be a part of. Unfortunately they had to literally jump on a moving train in Venice before we could get each other's contact information. Regardless, their company made my hours of stay in Munich much, much more enjoyable, not to mentiuon the "One time in Munich..." story they've provided me.
Seattle, WA USA Tue 12/27/2005
It was May, and the weather in Rome couldn't have been better. We had called for reservations from Florence, and were in one of Rick's choices near the train station. After two days, we had planned to go to Siena, so I pulled out ETTBD Italy and was calling some of Ricks choices, but everyplace was full. The Lonely Planet guide likewise availed us naught, and a quiet panic was setting in. I remembered a trainstop I saw on the ride down from Florence, and the majestic hilltop village, and recalled that it was Orvieto. By the merest chance, I had pulled out the pages of Rick's book that covered Orvieto, and with one phone call, snagged a reservation for one night. When we arrived, it was magic. I hesitate to even post this, because my wife and I extended our visit to Orvieto from one night to three, and this unplanned deviation from our generally pretty loose itinerary turned out to be the high point of our trip. Orvieto is magic, especially after the tourists depart in the evening. Thank you, Rick, for the information, and for the several nights of true Italian bliss.
Reno, NV USA Mon 12/12/2005
Better than Giverny
I've seen a lot of the world, but I found the best it had in Vernon, Normandie.
Stand on the bridge in the center of town, any time of the day. See that Norman house leaning over the river? Most beautiful place in the world. Right there.
Troy, MI USA Tue 11/29/2005
Wonderful Day In Rome
My wife and I were in Italy, Rome specifically, this past February. While it had been cold we were able to walk around without a care in the world and take in Rome and all it had to offer. The highlight of our trip, and any excursion we've been on so far, was the opportunity we received to attend an audience with Pope John Paul II while visiting Vatican City. It was an amazing and moving experience for us both especially realizing we were in the presence of a man whom we admired for many years. Sadly, he passed away a month later. That is one special day we will never forget for the rest of our lives.
Chicago, IL USA Tue 11/01/2005
Summer in the Dordogne
We were spending three weeks in the Dordogne, France and camped near the banks of the river near Domme. At that time (six years ago)we were fostering a lovely boy who was eleven and had never been on holiday let alone to France. One night we decided to make supper close to the river whilst he and our own boys played about, simply enjoying a glorious summer evening. later on while carrying our stuff back to the tent our foster child expressed how much he was enjoying France, how magical it was. It was the first time he had ever expressed such joy to us, and it was a wonderful moment. He even promised to bring his own children to France one day. We haven't seen him for over five years now but what he said has stayed with us and has given us hope that he will have a brighter future, bless him.
Skipton North Yorkshire, England Tue 11/01/2005
New Years in London!
We spent this past New Year's Eve in London. We were standing in the middle of a bridge over the Thames as Big Ben struck midnight! Talk about magical! Then there was the most exquisite fireworks display over the Thames, complete with pyrotechnics shot from the London Eye! How cool to ring in the New Year with millions of Londoners!
Columbus, GA USA Sat 10/29/2005
On a cold Tuesday one February I made the journey to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. This is where Anne Frank, her sister Margot, and thousands more perished from cruelty, starvation, and disease. This single day stands out as the most transformational of my life. I was utterly alone on acres and acres of hallowed ground-- mass graves, individual graves....it snowed, and I cried because I could literally FEEL thousands of sad souls crushing my body-- to the point where I was having difficlty breathing. If you ever have the chance and/or are in need of serious reflection or a wake-up call to the prosperity in your life visit this camp alone in the off-season.
Seattle, WA USA Fri 10/28/2005
Conway and Dulwich
I just returned from two hectic weekends in London, with a peaceful week in Wales in between. My favorite moments were when I spent time walking and enjoying nature!
In Conway, Wales, I walked two miles along a country road to reach a nature center. Along the way I saw many farm animals grazing in their pastures, as well as numerous sheep who roamed freely along the road. I always get a kick out of seeing and hearing birds that we don't have in the States, such as the jackdaw and magpie. Also, around every turn, it seemed like there was another "Thomas Kinkade" scene come to life -- quaint cottages and farmhouses galore.
While in London, I took a train out to nearby Dulwich to see an excellent Beatrix Potter exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. I ended up walking through the town and into a large park. Although there were construction fences up around the lake, the park was teeming with parents and children all enjoying the mild day. I had a very tastey bacon and egg sandwich in the little cafe pavillion in the center of the park, and afterwards enjoyed an ice cream cone, sitting on a park bench, people watching.
These two magical days stand out in a very hectic but enjoyable vacation.
Philadelphia, PA USA Tue 10/25/2005
Cow bells on the mountain air
Some of the many special memories I will remember from our recent trip to Switzerland will be the sound of cow bells and church bells as we hiked in the Berner-Oberlander area. There is nothing so memorable as a clear, blue sky, crisp, early morning air, and the symphony of cow bells drifting up the mountain trail.
Prince George, BC, CAN Fri 10/14/2005
November 24, 2003, Colleville-sur-Mer, sundown. My husband and I were visiting the American Cemetary just before sundown and while looking at the maps, heard Taps. Big tears from both of us. First one flag, then a few minutes later, the other, both with Taps. Very emotional...truly a special moment!
Granbury, TX USA Wed 10/12/2005
2 Magic Moments, Both in Italy
While I was in college, I studied abroad in Rome. One day, a friend and I were standing in the Piazza della Santa Maria Maggiore eating gelato. Suddenly, a loud noise startled the pigeons on the piazza, and all at once they flew away. My friend and I ducked with our gelato and looked up at the church as hundreds of pigeons flew overhead narrowly missing our heads. It was one of the moments that I will remember forever.
A few months ago, my husband and I decided to stop in Venice for about 2 hours just to see the Piazza San Marco again. Instead of taking the vaporetto, we decided to try to find our way on foot by following the signs. We had little time and it was getting dark, so we walked and ran from sign to sign. Sometimes, we'd take a wrong turn and have to turn around. Sometimes, we did not see the next sign right away, and we'd be huffing and puffing trying to find the sign. It sounds silly, but we felt like spy-hunters running around the small walkways and bridges! It was exciting and when we reached San Marco 30 minutes later, aaaah!
Chicago, USA Thu 10/06/2005
Prime Minister Elections in May
I know it's a little late, but I definitely had a "magic moment" when I was in London this past May, and I got to be there for the Prime Minister elections. I was there for the campaigning when all of the candidates would go all around England and London and meet various civillians, even in their homes! I got to watch each day and wonder what the results would be, and how their election system is similar, yet different to ours. Then, finally, I got to see the results of election day with other Londoners, whose lives this decision would affect, as Tony Blair was re-elected for a third term. It was really amazing to be able to experience that with the British, because it was *their* election, and not mine. :)
USA Sun 10/02/2005
There were few magical moments during my recent travel to France, Switzerland, and Italy. However, my top are:
1. Eiffel tower- sitting under the starlights in Champs de Mars and watching the tower light up was magical. We saw many Parisians doing the same as they ate candle lit dinner on the grass with their friends, family, and dogs. The weather was perfect.
2. Gimmelwald Switzerland- Hiking down from Brig to Gimmelwald. Very serene....Only sound we heard were the chiming bells of cows and sheeps on the alpine meadows.
OR USA Tue 09/27/2005
Many, many Magical Moments......
Many, many magic moments throughout Europe:
(1) Concert at London's Royal Albert Hall, the London Symphony conducted by Elmer Bernstein himself in celebration of his very own 80th birthday. He premiered music from "Far From Heaven" before it came out. Unheard of! Especially now that he has passed away.
(2) Sitting inside the Berlin Dom (Cathedral) during a Sunday morning scheduled service....and thinking back about the history of this cathedral that sits in former East Germany.
(3) Touring St. Bavo's Cathedral in Haarlem, The Netherlands, all by ourselves on a very cold February day. No one else inside of this huge building. As we opened the door to leave, the organ (which was played by Mozart when he was 10 years old) began to play.....it was the organist practicing for the Sunday service. We returned inside, sat in the front row, and had a 45 minute concert all to ourselves. Goosebumps.
(4) Being at Warwick Castle (England) on an unbelieveably clear day all while the town's church bells rang for the entire two hours we were there....kind of annoying to start with, but a definite highlight by the time our visit was over.
(5) A very cold, windy, and rainy day at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp just north of Berlin.....all by ourselves to start with. (We always travel off season so there are rarely crowds.) The weather added very much to the authenticity of the visit....and was a brutal reminder of the autrocities of our world's history. Now, wouldn't it have been better on a warm summer afternoon? I think not!
The list of magical moments is long.
Portland, OR USA Mon 09/26/2005
Celebration of George Gershwin's 100th Birthday
Back in the fall of 1998, my husband and I took our "last fling" as a couple prior to the arrival of our first child. We decided to do a week in Paris and another week in Florence for our last hurrah.
On a train going on a day trip to Giverny, we met another couple who asked if we were attending the free concert in Paris to celebrate George Gershwin's 100th birthday. "What free concert?" we asked and found out that the concert was that same night, but you had to have a free ticket for admittance.
Once back in Paris, we rushed from the train station to the Hotel D'Ville where the tickets were being distributed and emerged grinning several minutes later with some of the very last tickets.
After days of rain, the evening weather cleared and there were millions of stars out. The concert was held on the Hotel de Ville's plaza. Several well-known French cabaret artists performed with a wonderful orchestra of local, professional musicians. However the event which I'll always remember occurred during the 2nd song. An older couple (probably mid-late 70's) suddenly jumped up from their third row seats and started to jitterbug in the aisles!!The man was dapper in his tweed jacket, black beret and mustache while his partner looked Parisian chic in her ankle length black skirt and shawl and a flower in her hair! At the end of the song, they stopped, did a simple bow and sat back down to enjoy the rest of the concert. Everyone went absolutely wild, the couple received a standing ovation from the crowd and the performers blew them kisses from the stage.
It was simply magical. THE quintessential "Back Door" moment!!
Glendale, AZ USA Tue 09/20/2005
Making friends on the train
In the mid 1980's, I was traveling through Portugal and was on a train from Lisbon to Paris. To my left was an older Portuguese couple, and across from me was a trio of beautiful young Swedish women. Although I knew a smattering of Portuguese, I knew no Swedish. However, the Portuguese couple spoke French, and the Swedish women spoke German, and I had studied both languages in high school and college. So we passed many hours with me as the makeshift translator, and the Portuguese couple as the wine distributors (of which they had plenty). We laughed, drank and shared our lives and dreams. It was one of many serendipitous experiences in Europe that have defined my life as a traveler.
Whidbey Island, WA USA Fri 09/16/2005
I arrived late into Dingle and I could not find a hostel that was not full.I was on a tight budget and could not afford a hotel or B&B. The only place that I could afford was several miles outside of town. This was not going well. I finally gave up and paid a taxi to take me out there. My trip was definitly hitting a snag, so I thought. The next morning I got up and decided to hike back into town instead of paying the taxi fee for the ride back in. That was one of my better decisions on that trip. The hike along the road back to Dingle was beautiful. Mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. I was about half way to dingle when I seen the storm coming in from the ocean and I was stuck in the middle of nowhere without shelter. I started walking as fast as I could and I spied a small soccer field. I ducked into a small concrete entry way just as the hail hit. I waited out the storm that went as fast as it came in. I stepped out of the entry way and continued on into Dingle. The hail and sleet left everything glistening in the morning sunshine everything was so bright and vivid, and as I looked over to my left I saw a double rainbow arching over the mountains. That was one of my best days in Ireland.
Ill USA Thu 09/08/2005
Vernazza - Stepping back in time
One beautiful June morning in Vernazza, I woke up early and left my daughters to sleep in while I went down to the harbor for a brioche and cappuccino. All of a sudden I had to get out of the town's one street because several fishermen, carrying their boats on their shoulders, were making their way to the harbor to set out for the day. I truly felt I had stepped back in time. Then, while I sipped my coffee, the town cat wound her way around my feet and made herself at home beside my chair. Someone had put out a dish of water for her, but she preferred to stand at the town pump and wait for the drips from the faucet, which she caught with her tongue. My mornings alone in Vernazza were the highlight of my 3-week trip.
Athens, GA USA Thu 09/08/2005
Magic in the Metro
My first trip to France and Paris was in the summer of '04 (we just booked tickets for our return in '06). I don't like big cities so I was apprehensive about Paris, even though I speak decent French. The Parisians were wonderful and I copmletely fell in love with Paris. On our last day in Paris I was in the Metro tunnel and heard music playing in the distance. I turned the corner to find a small orchestra of 12 or so young people playing beautiful classical music. The accoustics in the tunnel were fabulous and it sounded like a full orchestra. I sat and listened for five minutes or so. As I left I gladly contributed a few Euros for the entertainment knowing that I had experienced a truly Parisian moment.
Seattle, WA USA Thu 09/01/2005
While visiting Stamms Abbey in Tyrol in the 70's, we went on a tour lead by one of the brothers: a fussy, bossy one. He found that the group spoke English and German. He made a point of dividing us: English to the right and German to the left. About halfway through the tour, he confused the groups and spoke German to the Americans, and English to the Germans. Everyone in both groups conspired in our silence and flashed humorous eye signals to each other.
Suddenly, the Brother realized his error and angrily rearranged the groups as though we had tricked him. We all switched good-humoredly but it was a struggle to keep the laughter within.
Salt Lake City, UT USA Sun 08/21/2005
Really recommend Mario's Altfrankische Weinstube for dinner that is located just down a small side street near the northern wall tower. Good food and reasonably priced. BUT be sure to be there on a Wed. night for the English Conversion Club meeting. By good fortune we were seated at the "head table" one evening, finishing up our dinner. Wolfgang and Herman the German were holding sway. Great way of meeting locals and sharing your culture with theirs. Wolfgang even walked us home as he lived nearby. The answer to the question as to why Herman buys red tractors for farming? The green ones are not ripe yet
Mentor, OH USA Tue 08/09/2005
The Pope and my day at the Vatican
My dream has always been to see Rome. I finally made it come true this past March. Our first morning there we went to the Vatican, we had a room in Trastevere (wonderful and charming place) it was a great,long walk, so much to see. We got in a line at the Vatican but did not know what we were lining up for, we just followed the small crowd. It turned out to be the line to climb the dome at the top of the Vatican. I walk 5 miles a day at home and thought it would be a piece of cake for me but I was quite sore the next day. We met a great couple on their honeymoon from Australia that have invited us to visit them and we will very soon. The perfect, beautiful, magical day at the Vatican ended with us having incredible pasta and wine at an outdoor cafe..just after 9 we heard loud and long chimes, when we returned to our room the 4 of us girls crowded on the little couch watching news covered saying in Italian the Pope had just died, we sat there in complete silence reading each others minds about our experience earlier in the day. We still get goose bumps when we think about our day there and the historical signifigance to us. I truly fell in love with the Italians, I envy their way of life and love. I'm going back in October to try and locate my heart that I very obviously left behind! They loved their Pope and we felt truly honored to be there during that time.
Federal Way, wa USA Sat 07/30/2005
Magic in Bellano, Italy
My wife, myself, and her parents arrived in Varenna after a long-day's drive from Monaco and found that, even though we had guaranteed our hotel reservation, they had not honored it. We drove one town north along Lake Como's coast to beautiful little Bellano and found a small hotel. After we checked in, we walked into town for a drink and snack on the town square. My wife heard it first, beautiful Italian music in the distance. We walked towards it and followed the sound down a small alley and discovered a band consisting of townspeople performing a concert for their fellow townspeople in honor of the town's festival day. Chairs had been set up for all so we quickly sat down. The concert lasted more than an hour and even included a few American songs (but we really loved the Italian standards!). As it turns out, we loved the hotel, its food, and Bellano--and we found it because of the ill-will of a Varenna hotelier. Vive le chance!!!
Hanover, PA USA Tue 07/26/2005
During our honeymoon a few years back, my wife and I grabbed the last empty booth on a train from Venice to Milan. Moments later a local couple came in and sat down across from us. The couple said not one word or even looked at us for the first 20 minutes of the trip. At first, I figured we were getting the cold shoulder because we are Americans. Then the woman pulls a large sack of very nice looking white grapes from a paper bag she had stashed at her feet. She pulled a cluster from the bag, said something in Italian, smiled broadly and offered the cluster to my wife then me. We had just eaten a big dinner and weren't hungry, but how could we refuse such a wonderfully simple gesture of goodwill.
Alabama Ernie Ford
Birmingham, AL USA Sat 07/23/2005
Prague was very wonderful to see, but I discovered the heart and spirit of the Czech people driving just an hour or two south of the city. The minute you leave Prague, the country side opens up to some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever experienced.
If you are at all interested in locating ancestors in the Czech Republic, contact Hana Skockova. She
provided very comprehensive research into my family history. Contact her
at firstname.lastname@example.org. Because of Hana's
work, I was able to visit the villages of my grandparents birth. I met cousins and located the actual houses, dating back to 1650, of most of my ancestors---Bohemian and Moravian villages are very old and beautiful--all red tiled roofs with thick masonary exterior walls; simple architectural lines which give villages an almost Mediterranean feel. My grandmother's village of Omice in Moravia is celebrating its
1000th year anniversery. So there is much beautiful history outside Prague.
Also, there is no better accommodation in Prague but Guesthouse Lida (as recommended by this site); the owners,
Jan and Jiri, are very knowledgeable and extremely gracious. I would never stay anywhere else in Prague.
Seattle, WA USA Fri 07/08/2005
magic moment with trenitalia
Recently we were in Aosta Italy at the train station,having arrived in time to see our train leave. I attempted to obtain information on the next train to Bolzano (I spoke no Italian) and the clerk after much work gave me a schedule printed on a ticket form. Nice man #1, We had a 1 hour wait so my wife took our day pack and Rick phrase(which I forgot to use) book and went shopping with my niece. 15 minutes later a train pulls in on the track where our train was to be, I was worried to the max! The operator was at his window and when he stopped the train I asked in english (dumb me) if he was going to Bolzano,Answer no Bolzano. The conductor came along same thing again, Well then the train leaves and I waive at the operator in what must have been a pathetic way. He stopped the train about 50 yards down the track waited a few minutes then backed the entire train up to where I was,stopped the train came down to the platform and with the conductor began to help me figure out where we were going.Nice man 2&3. My wife returned with Ricks Phrase book and we found we could in deed ride this particular train to meet our connections,the most useful phrase being "is my pass good..." since our first helpful person printed the route on a ticket form the operator thought that was our ticket to a later train but when they found we had a pass everything fell into place. They went the extra mile for us. I did not get any names and the conductor advised it was normal service,no problem, but it sure made me feel special, wml
Brooksville , Florida USA Tue 07/05/2005
On the way home from Paris...
Last February, my friend and I had just spent 2 wonderful weeks in Paris (thanks, Rick!) and were at the airport waiting for our plane back to San Francisco when I noticed a very handsome man. I wanted to say "bonjour" but I lost him. An hour later, I noticed him in line for our plane! What I didn't know was that he noticed me too. We ended up talking on the plane for 3 hours--standing near the bathrooms! He lives in San Francisco and speaks French fluently, which is great for me because now I get private lessons! We've been dating now for 5 months. We met on the plane home from Paris on Valentines Day. How magical is that? :-)
SJ, CA USA Fri 07/01/2005
I have just returned home from a six-week European holiday, the highlight of which was eleven beautiful days in Scotland. But my Magic Moment came after I returned home, looking in the bathroom mirror, and realizing the the "worry line" that a lot of us have, (you know, that crease between the eyes and above the nose) had completely disappeared. I could swear I looked five years younger, after a six week blissful holiday in Europe.
L.A., CA USA Mon 06/27/2005
In the small train station of Bad Ischl in Austria, the person in the ticket counter saved our day. We purchased a ticket to Hallstatt and were about to get on a train going in the opposite direction. He saw us from the window, came out running and prevented us from making a blunder. I wish I had his name to thank him. I think it is more than a magic moment, it is much more than that.
Homage to Jaques Chirac
The Lone Star fluttering from the hotel room balcony near the Place de la Concorde last July as Lance Armstrong won another. Bonjour monsieur le president.
TX USA Fri 06/10/2005
It's magic to see Rome while everyone else is asleep. Finding a cafe when it just opened and had the best fresh bread and coffee at 5am and then watching the sun come up...unforgetable
Miami, Fl USA Sun 06/05/2005
Church Bells in Yorkshire
I was in Oxford for a term in the fall of '98, and because I love Wuthering Heights, two friends and I decided to travel to Haworth, in Northern Yorkshire, one cold November weekend to visit the birthplace of the Bronte sisters and the farmhouse that inspired Wuthering Heights. After we arrived, we wandered over to a giant Guy Fawkes bonfire. As we were standing there, an older man walked up to us and started asking us where we were from, and what we were doing way up in Yorkshire that time of year. He turned out to be a retired policeman, and after a long conversation, he gave us his phone number and told us to call him the next day, because he wanted to show us around the Haworth church. After a hike on the moors, we called, and soon he drove up on his motorcycle. We were sort of wondering what he wanted to show us in the church, but it turned out he was in charge of winding the old clock in the church clock tower. So he took us all up in the clock tower, and we all took turns winding the clock (the mechanism of which was quite large, and turning the wheel to wind it was a workout). Then, he opened a trap door, and showed us the way up a rickety ladder, past the bells, and onto the roof of the church tower, where there were amazing views of the moors. He then took us to his house for tea, and his wife gave us biscuits and we visited until we had to catch our train. You can't plan that sort of thing!
CA USA Thu 06/02/2005
My time with Arthur
I enjoy Budget Travel magazine and after the 3rd issue called the editorial office to share my delight with this new magizine. The receptionist was happy and saked if I would like to share my thoughts with Arthur Frommer ;we had a 15 minute chat!!
bellevue, WA USA Tue 05/31/2005
Photo opportunity with the Queen
While taking a respite from touring in England, my wife and I decided to check out the Grafton Centre (that's how they spell it) mall in Cambridge UK. It was May 16, 2005 at about 1:30PM. When we entered the mall we noticed three men dressed as Beefeaters in the lower court. I said to my wife, "maybe the Queen's coming today". She said, Yeh, right." I went to the fellow that was following the Beefeaters and asked him what the occasion was. He said, Her Royal Majesty will be here at 2:00 PM to rededicate the mall. I immediatley went to my wife and said I needed to get the camera from our car-which I did. We proceeded to center mall and waited. At 1:59 PM a group of people came down the stairway with champagne glasses. One minute later, the beefeater announced "Her Royal Highness the Queen." We couldn't believe it, but there she was coming down the steps to a plaque that was to be unveiled. The four piece band played God Save the Queen and Pomp and Circumstance as she came down. She was dressed in a purple outfit, matching hat, three string pearls, diamond broach and her purse. She stood no further than 10 feet from us. She was accompanied by the Mayor of Cambridge wearing his big chain around his kneck. After a few remarks, she unveiled the plaque. My wife thought it was over and went to call her sister in the states, I stayed to take more photos. Then I noticed a man getting his picture taken with the QUEEN. My wife was nowhere to be seen so I asked the young women next to me if she would take my picture. She did a wonderful job. I then spotted my wife and told her to come up to get her picture taken with the Queen. As she was standing next to the Queen, the beefeater said, jokingly I think, "Don't forget to curtsy." This really flustered my wife as she tried to bend down. The Queen looked at her and said "Stand up straight". Which I caught on film. It was unbelievable- in fact when it was over, I went to two local police officers nearby and asked them if that really was the Queen. They said, "you were in the right place at the right time. We do things covertly over here- it keeps the crowds down and helps with security." They assured me that yes that was the Queen of England. The next morning my wife woke up and said, " I dreamed I had my picture taken with the Queen." I said you did and I have the pictures to prove it. The next day the Queen made her way to Parliment to make a speech. This was the culmination of our first trip to England and what a trip it was.
Toronto, OH USA Mon 05/30/2005
Another idea for a birthday surprise
Connie - I like Pat's idea a lot. Here's another idea, plus my installment for a magic moment. My wife's birthday is in January and we were in Florence for her birthday two years ago. We had been in the city for a couple of days and each day we walked by the same restaurant, though i can't remember the name at this point, and she exclaimed how much she would like to have dinner there. Hint hint. While she was trying on some leather jackets in a store not far from the place, I told her I was going to go get us gelati and quickly went to the restaurant, made a reservation, and told the folks in there that I would love it if they would sing happy birthday to her when we arrived. So at 8pm, we went into the restaurant, she was amazed that I even remembered she wanted to go there, and the minute we walked in, all the waiters and all of the patrons stood up and sang happy birthday. She was blown away. Plus, they brought us complimentary wine and zuppa inglese for dessert. She still talks about this and claims that she now knows how Julia Roberts must feel. (she likes Julia Roberts so it is a positive comparison) Whatever you do, have fun doing it and if you can, let us know what you decided on.
Denver, CO USA Wed 05/25/2005
Italian Magic Moments
We were on the train from Florence to Venice and stopped in Rome at the time. A 20ish guy and an old man who looked like he was none too clean and wheezing like he was about to die got on the train, and of course, in our little cubicle. The man did smell and I really thought he was going to die there because he just couldn't breathe. Things finally calmed down, the train got on it's way and he dozed a bit. After a while I noticed him glancing at my travel guide but he never said a word. When we got to Orvieto, all of a sudden he looked at me and started talking to me in perfect English. He told me all about Orvieto and how he'd lived there all his life. He talked about his family and how THEY had lived there for generations. Then the train pulled into his stop and he got off. He was almost crippled, and had horrible emphysema. He desperately needed a wheelchair and some good medical care but he didn't have it. What he had was a grandson who loved him and his love for his Orvieto. It still makes me cry when I think about it. I will never forget this man and his stories.
Chicago, USA Tue 05/24/2005
I arrived in Ireland having missed the bus that was scheduled to take me from Shannon airport to my "home away from home" in Ennis, Co. Clare. After walking past the Hertz Rental Car desk for what seemed like the 8th time in 15 minutes, an attractive young employee asked if he could "give me a lift home." Although I didn't have anywhere else to stay that night, I figured that I shouldn't be taking rides from strange men, even if they did have cute accents. However, when it became apparent that the airport was closing, and there were no taxis available (it was a Sunday night, after all), I decided to take the nice young lad up on his offer.
As we walked out to the car, he asked "you don't do this often, do you? Accepting lifts from strangers?" I laughed, and said, "no, I've never done this before. I suppose you're in the habit of rescuing stranded tourists, huh?" He chuckled and said, "no, but I guess there's a first time for everything."
A first time for everything is right. After we shared a few more car rides and some very memorable hikes out in the Burren, that nice young lad became my first love. A student teaching experience in Ireland quickly became the best 4 months of my life. Although we're no longer together (he's working in Australia, I'm back in the U.S.), I'm still thankful that bus never came.
NE USA Sun 05/22/2005
Connie - Often the best surprises are not the grandiose, buth the small and personal. Figure out where you will be on his b.d. and call ahead to a local deli/catering shop. Order a romantic picnic w/wine or champagne. Pick it up and "kidnap" your sweetheart for a tryst in a Tuscan field. There is nothing like "afternoon delight" to surprise AND thrill your husband!! Be sure and bring a soft blanket!
Winter Haven, FL USA Sun 05/22/2005
Magic moment in Paris?
I'm not sure if this is a magic moment or not. It was last month when I was in Paris. It was my second day there, and I was at the St. Michel Metro station...looking at the map to decide which train to take to get to the Eiffel Tower. As I was studying the map in the station, a group of local people pass by me, and one of them asked me in English where I was going. I told her I was going to the Eiffel Tower. The lady told me to follow them, but I told her that I didn't have a ticket yet. She gave me one of her carnat, but I refused. She stubbornly resisted, so I gave in. I followed her group on the train. I tried to give her a couple of Euros for the ticket, but she refused. While riding the train, I learned that she was with her friends/neighbors, and they were from the outter suburbs of Paris. They were taking a day trip into Paris. I exchanged greetings with her friends. She talked in English, and I spoke in what French I know. When we got to our final destination, I thanked her for the billet. Now, that's something I don't come across often.
CA USA Fri 05/20/2005
Cruising around the Amalfi coast, admiring the homes built into the hills and on top of one another.
Deciding to cancel the next days plans, so we could do that again.
Opening your window to see a golden sunrise over very green olive orchards covering Umbrian hills for miles.
Finding a restaurant where no one knows any English, the pigs are just outside the door, appetizers of prosciutto, melon, and sausage, three homemade pastas, every imaginable cut of pork, and three hours of eating course after course, before we realized that they would keep bringing us more until we said "basta".
The look on my wife's face after she stopped to eavesdrop on the tour group to check on my translation of political graffitti on a wall in Pompeii.
Slowly approaching a pair of sheep in the Alps, and then being surrounded by a whole herd freely grazing on the side of a mountain.
Cruising through the back canals of Venice on a gondola. Being joined by another gondolla with an accordian and singer. Turning the corner onto the Grand Canal in Venice in twillight.
Shopping at a street fair offering crafts made by local school children.
Comparing the gelatos in every town you visit.
Meeting your wife walking along the shore of Lago Como.
Home, CA USA Sat 05/14/2005
something great in Tuscany
Help! I need a magic moment! My husband is turning 40 while we're in Cinque Terra and Tuscany. I want to make it very special. I was thinking about a balloon ride in Chianti but it's too expensive (almost $500 for the two of us for 45- 90 minutes). Does anyone know of something great that I can surprise him with? I need ideas!THANKS!
Williamsburg, va USA Thu 05/12/2005
Magical moment- intimate concert in Siena
We just returned from a great trip to Italy, and used Rick's book extensively. We especially wanted to spend at least one evening at a live classical music concert, and were unsure how to find them. To our delight, our hotel had a poster about the concert being given several times a week in Siena at the St. Peter's Anglican church. We went and it was delightful-- a concert pianist and a talented tenor whose voice filled the entire room with classic Italian arias. They also perform in Florence and we enjoyed the first concert so much we went to see them again when we were in Florence. Details are available at www.concertoclassico.info
When we were in Venice we also got to see a group perform an entire concert of Vivaldi, and it was also truly magical. It was so easy to see why such amazing music emanates out of Italy.
san francisco, ca USA Sat 05/07/2005
Magic Moment in History
We were in a park in Frankfurt Germany in the morning of October 3, 1990 when suddenly every church bell in the entire country rang.Our tour group asked some German people in the park what was happening, and they said, with tears rolling down their face, that the two Germany's, East and West, were coming together at that moment in history. We all stood there crying too, as the importance and sense of being a part of this wonderful celebration made us all awed. Barbara O
Ontario, CAL USA Fri 04/22/2005
special moments in Belgium
I served for 8 years as the business manager of a select children's chorus in Central Ohio, directed by my wife. In 1997 we had the privilege of hosting a visiting children's chorus from Belgium, who of course invited us to visit them the next year - which we did, with 40 young people.
The first magic moment was when my wife and I visited the Bastogne memorial. Standing atop the large star-shaped building, looking out into the Belgian countryside, I swear I could hear the tank treads squeaking in the hush as the German tanks drove by. It was an eerie experience, particularly seeing the detail in the Bastogne memorial. Then there was our joint concert with yet a third children's chorus, in the small Belgian village of Wavre in Wallonia, the French-speaking section of Belgium. A local senior political official greeted us at the concert, saying all the right things to welcome the Americans --- then he started ad-libbing to the audience about how he was but a young lad when Patton's Third Army "came through town, and delivered us from the Boche". He spoke of how he still remembers the GI's handing out chocolate bars as they strode through town. Although old and bent, a light shone in his eyes like it was yesterday. It was quite a moment.
The kids also created their own special moment, while riding the canal boats in Brugge, when they broke out in to a spirited rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner, drawing cheers from other American tourists nearby, and applause from other spectators. The best moment of the trip, however, was when our kids'bus pulled up in front of the music school in Knokke, a Belgian resort town on the North Sea coast. The group that had visited us in America the year before was waiting inside. Before we could all even get inside, the kids spontaneously broke out in song -- a song entitled "Unity", which had been performed as a joint number the year before ("Behold how good and how precious it is for brethren to dwell together in unity..."). The smiles on their faces was enough to make all the work on the trip worthwhile !
Imagine, then, our surprise and pleasure when the director brought his most recent group to America just last week, and when we went to see them perform (some of them so young, they had barely been born when his last group visited !) --- he announced their closing song as "Unity", and told the crowd, "since we visited Ohio in 1998, we have ended every concert with this song. It is now our tradition to end this way". He had not shared this little detail with us. Guarantee you my eyes weren't dry.....
Pickerington, OH USA Tue 04/05/2005
i travelled to iran and ssaw thw finest city esfahan and also the city of shiraz .....a wonderful country ,people.magic moments siting int he main square esfahan
eastligh, Uk Tue 03/15/2005
Bastille Day in Provence
In July of 2001 my husband and I were in the provencal town of Isle sur la Sorgue on Bastille Day. As we strolled the streets of the village that evening, we saw several people in white uniforms carrying musical instruments. We followed them and found a small parade, consisting of a troupe of drum majorettes and a marching band, forming in a narrow street. We joined the throng behind the band and waited for the parade to begin.Soon the drummers started drumming and the march through the streets began. As darkness fell, we followed behind the band, the parade picking up more and more people as it moved through the village streets. After about twenty minutes, we reached the soccer stadium. The drum majorettes and the marching band entered the stadium while we and the rest of the townspeople found places along the fence surrounding the playing field. While the band played, the drum majorettes unfurled banners of blue, white, and red. They performed a routine with them, moving around in a circle and waving the colors. Finally, the parade marched off the field and the stadium lights were extinguished.As we stood behind the fence with hundreds of French men, women, and children, the "artifices de feu" began. Between fire works, lighting flashed horizontally across the sky between the grandstand, almost as if nature were competing with the display put on by man. After about twenty minutes of constant sparks, punctuated by the oohs and ahs of the crowd, the grand finale, in which the national colors figured prominently, ended the show.As we made our way back through the town, along with the rest of the people who had come to see the show, we knew that it had been a very special night.
USA Sun 02/27/2005
Reading over comments on this board brought back memories of a trip I took to Scotland and England two years ago. She, an active 74, had never travelled outside Canada and the U-S before. I had been to the UK a few times, and she had always commented on how she wanted to see where her father had come from. He had emigrated to Canada immediately after the First World War, and had, after many struggles, established a long and successful career as a tradesman with a large phone company. We managed to see all the sights my grandfather had always talked about when I was a child. We even got to London for a day of sightseeing, and her eyes lit up with wonder when we spotted Big Ben, saw the changing of the Guard at the Palace, and explored the Tower of London. But my favourite moment was when we tracked down two of my grandfather?s homes in northeastern Scotland, those he lived in as a child. One is now gone, replaced, by an auto service station, but nearby homes survived, and we wondered how this poor family, with 11 children, had managed to cram into this small flat. We saw the town?s small war memorial ? on it, the name of one of my grandfather?s younger brothers, killed a week before the end of the First World War. His body was never found. It was only topped when we managed to track down the location of the farm where my grandfather had spent several years as a youth. The owners were ?new;? the farm had only been in their family since 1929. But they were kind enough to allow us to roam the place. We spotted several old cottages below the main farmhouse, and the owner confirmed that, at one time, that?s where the hired labourers had lived. As we looked upon the tiny homes, she turned to me and said, ?I don?t know how they managed to do it.? It?s a trip I should have taken her on years ago ? but better late than never. The memories she?s collected in her photo albums will keep her, and us, in touch with our past, and remind us of the sacrifices others made so we could have the life we enjoy today.
Ottawa, Canada Sun 02/27/2005
Coffee skirmish averted - Florence.
On way to the Accademia. I stop for coffee. These two young Brit fellows (seemingly well off, educated) are harranguing the Barista. They rudely and persistently demand a "latte" pointing to the steamed milk he gave them. I of course tell them that in this country, Italians call milk "Latte" and coffee with milk - "Caffe Latte." They get quiet real fast, he gives them free espresso shots, and the Barista is then rid of the self-absorbed Britons. I finally order in my poor Italian - "un cafe latte, Senor." The old Barista kind of drops his shoulders and points at me, a genuine smile of appreciation welling up in a man besought by too many an impatient tourist. Respect can overcome our culture barriers, it seems, and connect us to the world's people.
Toronto, Canada Fri 01/28/2005
y magic moment in florence
my moment was on thanksgiving day 2003 when my boyfriend (soon to be husband) and i went to a turkey dinner sponsered by my school i was attending. we ate way to much mashed potatoes and stuffing and wine of course and took the bus back to our apartment. we were in our little bedroom talking about life when he asked me to marry him. i thought he was joking! well, i said yes and were getting married in april and going back to italy for our honeymoon. later that night we went with our 7 roomates to the local pub to celebrate. i'll never forget that night.
hollywood, fl USA Thu 01/27/2005
In Ireland my travel companion and I asked the locals in every town if they knew of any traditional music sessions. One evening we were the only tourists present and the music was great. During the session, one of the musicians handed his violin to an older man sitting next to him. Although the man's fingers were bent and stiff, he played that violin from the heart. Although his prime was long over, this elderly musician was being honored. We were blessed to share that special moment hidden by the curtain most tourists never see behind.
Iowa City, IA USA Sun 01/23/2005
It is summer 2004 in Paris, and I, an excited 16-year-old, am making my first trip beyond my known world. One day, after coming back from a huge sightseeing excursion (we hit Notre Dame, Latin Quarter, Arc of Triumph, and more) we were really hungry. Our hotel was on Rue Cler, and the only place open (it was late) was a little convenience store close by. Searching about, talking in English, we attracted the attention of the owner. "English?" he asked."American." we said."Oh!" his eyes lit up. "Thank you. Thank you for what you did, for all of us. I will never forget..." This one conversation sent goosebumps up my spine. Indeed, I will never forget this, and the permanent, undeniable bond that formed between America and France in the horror of a World War.
Bel Air, MD USA Sat 01/22/2005
Aboard a ferry on Lago Como, I engaged a worker in conversation about the weather. It was hot and we commiserated. But, I said in Italian, I used to live in NJ, where temps of 35 and 40 are not unusual in summer and the humidity is high. He was certain that he had encountered a real sufferer!
Newburyport, MA USA Sun 01/16/2005
Spanish in Italy
We were in Milano, enjoying a gelato while sitting at a cafe-type table. I was approached by a woman who asked, IN SPANISH, for directions. Happily, I was able to give them, altho haltingly. I felt great to be able to use other languages.
Newburyport, MA USA Sun 01/16/2005
Big Ben framed by the London Eye
I just returned from a two week trip to England and my last night there was New Years Eve. It was a great send off, a closure to the trip to hear Big Ben striking Midnight and the fireworks going off all around the clock. They lasted for what seemed a long time. It was once thought what you are doing at the change of a year sets the stage for that following year... well... being just south of the Thames River with friends I had made on my trip sounds like a good deal. Can't wait for my next time.
houston, tx USA Tue 01/11/2005
One of my magic moments last summer was when we were leaving the Metro in Paris, and down the long and winding hall, I heard a man playing, "What a wonderful world" , on his accordian. It fit the mood so well.Also, being in Bolton Abbey, in Yorkshire, on a magnificient, clear and sunny English day.
Thats the best part about traveling, being able to reflect on all the memories. :)
Tampa, FL USA Sun 01/09/2005