Magic Moments: 2010
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?
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We visited Murren last year, and met a Rick Steve's tour on the cable car to the Schilthorn. Happy friendly bunch! We also hiked through Gimmelwald after a visit to Trummelbach Falls, found a sign saying " cheese for sale" on a farmhouse garden gate, walked in, found nobody - just cheese and a basket to put your money. We then bought cheese and hiking further up toward Murren, still completely by ourselves except for goats, found what we guessed to be Rick's favorite Alpine bench, and ate cheese and oohed and aahed. Priceless! (except for the modest price of the cheese) Thanks again! PS The Eiger guesthouse in Murren was lovely. Just the descriptions in the Scottish owner's whiskey menu were rare unexpected entertainment!
Jaffrey, NH USA Mon 11/29/2010
Unplanned stops - Macedonia
Riding our bikes into the republic of Macedonia, climbing a very steep hill we looked across the road to see a couple of ladies 70- and 80-something feeding wood into a barrel in their yard. We stopped to see what they were doing. With no common language we introduced ourselves, established where we were from, and asked what they were doing. "Rakija!" was their reply. Turns out it was a still, and they were distilling grape wine into brandy or rakija depending on which language you prefer. With big grins the elder, Uba, pulled back the cheesecloth from the collecting bucket, dipped in a shot glass and held it out for us to taste. It was strong and tasty, reallly strong and tasty. You could probably set it afire. They offered us more but I mimed falling off my bike, bringing laughs to all. These encounters, which seem more common when we are on bike, are the magical moments that keep us traveling.
Silverton, OR USA Sun 11/07/2010
First Impressions :)
Our first trip to England, just to watch the Burghley horse trials. We had already been pleasantly surprised by the beautifully preserved little villages with all of the church steeples of Lincolnshire. After sixteen hours of travel and trying to drive for the first time on the left, we finally arrived at Burghley park on Wednesday to pick up our tickets for the horse trial. We drove in the south entrance and then through the park to the way out. Coming over the hill crested by ancient trees, we got our first look at Burghley House, glittering in the setting sun, with picnickers sprawled on the flawless lawn. We literally had our breath taken away! It was truly magic, even though my mom spoiled it a bit by her exaggerated astonishment over the speckled, double-antlered deer behind a fence.
Silverton, OR USA Fri 09/24/2010
Backpacks that allow magic to happen
One of many magic moments on our recent 3 week trip happened at the airline gate before we left. When we checked in we found our flight had just been canceled. There was only one other flight option that day, and we had missed the 30 minute check in, yet we ran to the next concourse, got ticketed but were told we were technically too late, but they would allow us to try to get to the gate. Thank you Rick Steves' convertible backpack suitcase. With all our gear on our backs (we never could have made it with wheels) we ran to security, then we ran down the long escalator to the train tunnel, and since the train had just left, we ran all the way to the 2nd terminal(500 yards), then up the 200 step escalator, then ran to (of course) the last gate, and finally the magic. The Delta gate crew was actually waiting for us. "We saw that you were flying to Paris and we weren't going to go without you."
Cincinnati, OH USA Tue 08/17/2010
Christmas night in Paris for my wife and I was one of the most magical moments of our life. For those of you haven't been to Paris on Christmas, the whole city with the exception of a few cafe's and a very few restaurants, shuts down so that people can be with their families. My wife and I had bought some microwave meals as our Christmas dinner and were thoroughly not looking forward to eating them as we had been dining on top class French cuisine for 3 days previous. We therefore decided to strike out and find a restaurant. Our salvation came in the Latin Quarter where I had the most amazing hamburger I have ever eaten. Thats right, hamburgers in Paris. From there, we crossed over the bridge, past Notre Dame, turned left at Ru De Rivoli towards the Louvre, and then just as we came to the Lourve we heard saxophone music echoing out from one of the breezeways that lead to the Lourve entrances. We turned down this passage way and recognized La Vie En Rose coming from this mans sax. We continued through the breezeway so that we are standing near the pyramids while still being able to hear La Vie En Rose and took in the beauty all around us. We could see the museum all lit up in front of us, the Tuileries behind us, and the Eiffel Tower off in the distance. As lame and touristy as it sounds, this was a magical moment for us.
Fresno, CA, CA USA Thu 08/05/2010
Traditional Irish music in Clifden, Ireland
Griffins Pub in Clifden, Ireland drew us to it with the welcome sound of lilting traditional Irish music wafting out its open door during our post-dinner stroll. The talented musicians (mostly guys in their late teens) were terrific. Give them a listen if you're in town. (The musicians at the pub were we'd dined played American oldies. That actually was our experience at almost every pub we visited during our recent two-week stay in Ireland.)
Bedford, NH USA Fri 07/30/2010
We called oursselves the "dirty dozen";6 couples (5 Brits and 1 Yank). We had all become good friends as we traveled across the length and breadth of the Iberian penninsula in our RVs. We explored the regions on our scooters during the day and at night sat around a roaring fire and shared all that we had--dreams and aspirations--food and wine. On one especially lovely evening someone got out a Glen Miller CD and began to play it, and on that beautifully glorious night we twelve forgot all about the past and cared nothing about the future as we danced together under sparkling Portuguese stars.
Mendota Heights, MN USA Tue 06/15/2010
An angel in Civitavecchia, Italy
Our trip did not start right. First of all, I left the Gorillapod that my husband bought for this trip. After we were dropped off at the airport, that was when my husband realized that he left his pocket money with our eldest son, (he was left incharge of the house and his two other siblings + pet) & what my husband has was the money intended for the kids to use in our absence. On the plane, the TV monitors on our row were not working. Upon arrival at the Flumicino airport, we paid for round-trip train tickets instead of one-way. When we reached Civitavecchia, it was already dark and there were no taxis around to take us to our hotel. The directions from the train station to the hotel seems easy, but we had a hard time finding the street names of the place (some of the streets have signs on the corner of the building, some do not). My husband and I were tired and sweaty dragging our luggages on those cobblestone streets when we happened upon a young family. Asking for directions, we couldn't understand each other since they spoke no English, so we tried our best with sign language. At least we understood when they said 'sorry', so we went on our way again. We found someone who told us to just go straight. As we were again dragging our luggages (it seems like forever), a small car stopped next to us. It was the man we were trying to communicate with earlier (now without his wife and small child). In sign/body language & broken English (& Italian in our part), we understood that he came back for us to take us to our hotel. At first we didn't want to impose, but he was insistent. Apparently, the hotel was still quite far for a walk than we thought. We would have been roaming the streets all night long since the hotel was quite hard to find. Before he left, I was teary-eyed saying 'thank you' to him while gesturing my hands towards my heart. My husband gave him a huge hug and said 'thank you, angel." I knew then that our trip was going to be alright.
Vacaville, CA USA Wed 06/02/2010
First trip to Rome, 1999, didn't know who Rick Steves' was, so stood in line to get tickets for the Vatican Museum for 2 hours, so tired I could barely stand due to it being my last day of a 2 week whirlwind tour of Europe, followed a huge group of nuns through the museum, and walked through a small door (not realizing where I was) and found myself in a small chapel. Flashback 20+ years, I am in middle school and I have a very passionate art teacher who spent a lot of time teaching us about all the great artists. Her ability to make art come alive made a young girl dream about going to Rome to see the art for herself. It took me 20 years, but I finally made it, and I didn't even know it. Everyone in the room was standing still and looking up, (you can tell how tired I was because if you have ever been there you know there are signs along the way to show you how to get to this particular chapel). I looked up and when I saw "The Creation of Man" by Michelangelo I realized where I was and started to cry. The Sistine Chapel was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen. For years I had dreamed about seeing it and there I was. Most of the art had been cleaned and they were working on one of the corners so there was scaffolding up. It was amazing to see the difference between how it looked before and the vibrant colors after they cleaned it. This magic moment is hard to top for me. I am so happy that I will be going back this summer and now that I have done my Rick Steves' research, I know how to skip the ticket line!
Colorado Springs, CO USA Mon 04/26/2010
A special night in Rome will forever leave me recalling that night we danced under the stars with the kindest people we have ever met. We walked among hundreds of people - families - into the romantic Roman summer night and at about 10 p.m. we came to a fair at the Castel Sant'Angelo. My three children ages 5, 7 and 9 years of age danced under the stars under the shadow of the castle to wonderful Italian music. Lovely local men and women were dressed in native clothing and taught my children the traditional dances and paired the children with children from other countries. It was fantastic, fun, lively and wonderful to see everyone coming together in the joy of dance -great music - kind warm hearted Romans loving dance and our children. Italy was a dream come true and this was a night my children shared joy within the Italian culture.
Lynnfield, MA USA Tue 04/20/2010
While visiting Heidelberg, Germany, we stayed up very late at the sidewalk (really the narrow street) in front of our hotel. We conversed in fractured German and schoolroom English with a man named Heinrich who was sitting in his chair, tilted back against the wall of the hotel reading the newspaper. We talked of everything imaginable and drank prodigious amounts of beer right along with "Henry"....The exact same thing happened the next night when we returned to our hotel and sat at the street tables until after midnight, again talking with "Henry" about our travels, our families, our education -- you name it, "Henry" was interested. On neither night did our conversation pal leave before we did -- both nights as they stacked the chairs on the tables. On Sunday morning as we were checking out, I noticed "Henry" sitting in a corner of the dining room, still reading his newspaper. I jokingly asked the young man at the desk if "Henry" ever goes home. His reply? "Oh, Heinrich owns the hotel." I was blown away when we were charged for only one night at the hotel. I approached "Henry" and told him he would not be in business long if he did not collect what was due him. He replied that we were "different" from most Americans that had visited his hotel. We hadn't called in the middle of the night to say our room was too hot/too cold, our pillows were too hard/too soft, the toilets were noisy, etc. We also had not asked for bacon, eggs and pancakes at 11:00 in the morning. I asked him if "...people really did that sort of thing...? And he replied, "No, not people, just Americans!" I was immediately embarrassed for every other American in the hotel. But I'll never forget the conversations at the street-side tables until the wee hours.
Allentown, PA USA Sun 04/04/2010
Paris at night
A short walk to a small Italian restaurant in Paris (yes, we had Italian in Paris) where the owner was gracious and food marvelous. A stroll to the Seine followed by a tourist cruise on the river, applause as the Eiffel Tower sparkled every hour. Paris at night, the city of love.
Encinitas, CA USA Sun 03/21/2010
And around this corner...
My first trip to Europe was to Rome. I had a planned itinerary all written out, and did not realize how walkable Rome is compared to a city like NYC. I had not seen the Colosseum yet but had a planned tour coming up a few days into my trip. I went to dinner one evening and as I was walking back to my hotel, the sun was starting to set, making the ancient buildings and ruins look so beautiful and without realizing it, I turned the corner and there it was. The Colosseum. It stopped me in my tracks. It really hit me then how wonderful and huge it was. I spent a long time staring at it, taking in the details and got some really nice shots with the sun setting behind it. I was also so surprised at how close to the main road it was and wondered how many people go rushing by it, not appreciating it. That was a magical moment. One I will never forget.
Orlando, FL USA Tue 02/23/2010
Since I first started taking French classes back in 6th grade, I dreamed of going to Paris. We even got pen pals from France and I corresponded with mine for more than 10 years. In 10th grade our school offered a trip to Paris and Rome and I was all set to go- deposit paid and all. Then there were bombings in the Metro and with the security measures the trip was subsequently canceled. Fast forward 20 years... we were visiting friends in Brussels and, knowing we were SO close by train, I just had to get to Paris. I never knew if we'd ever be back. We went for the day and walked/rode all over the city, yet my magic moment was seeing the Eiffel Tower. We emerged from the Metro, walked around the corner and there it was... finally! My eyes welled up, sap that I am, as I realized a dream had come true.
Montgomery, NY USA Wed 02/10/2010