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Chele60 Mar 23rd, 2005 07:50 AM

What Was Your Inspiration
I don't start many threads like this, but reading some of the threads here on the Europe forum has gotten me curious.

What was your initial inspiration to visit the first country(ies) that you did in Europe? A movie? A book? An interest in the history? Just kicking around Europe for a few months after high school/college and wanted to "see it all"? The romance? The culture? The language? Art? Food?

rickmav Mar 23rd, 2005 08:26 AM

Our very first trip to Europe was to Greece. We went there because ever since I'd been in junior high I'd been fascinated by the Greek gods, the Iliad, the stories and myths.

It was a terrible first trip. I was naive and stubborn - which is never a good combination - and decided we wouldn't go with any tour, we'd do it all ourselves. We took buses full of chickens, and Greeks who didn't speak a word of English ; travelled in taxis that got lost, then picked up relatives to help find the way; and booked rooms in the worst part of Athens with hookers blocking the entranceway.

Even the mini cruise we booked was horrible. The Mediterranean was so rough the cruise company was handing out sea sickness pills like candy and we were one of the few couples who actually made it out of our cabin. Of course, our cabin was so cheap, it was way below water anyway.

It was horrible - and it was the best way to learn about travel. From that point on I became a much better planner and became more realistic about what was/not possible.

Also, on the way back through London, which we fell in love with, we booked our first stay at the Basil Street Hotel. After three glorious days, everything bad just melted away.

elaine Mar 23rd, 2005 08:26 AM

Greece: a novel, "The Moonspinners."
Not great literature, but one of my favorite books still.

SuzieC Mar 23rd, 2005 08:34 AM

I took an art history course because I was going to be an "artist" (I was 14...). If I passed the course, I could go to Italy and Greece to see those things about which we learned.
So, History yes...the romance, yes, the culture, art, the back-ground information on people who were my friends...
I've been hooked since I can remember. And I'll confess, no other part of the world attracts me. I'm not particularly proud of that, but its true.

mamc Mar 23rd, 2005 08:34 AM

My inspiration was of the "just kicking around Europe" between my junior and senior years of college. We visited 10 countries in 5 weeks and loved every minute. However, I did narrow my interests to the UK, France, Spain and Italy and to more leisurely travel!

kamahinaohoku Mar 23rd, 2005 08:41 AM

Watching the Six Wives of Henry VIII on Masterpiece Theatre in the 1970's. It started a lifelong love of England and history that has yet to be sated.

sunny16 Mar 23rd, 2005 09:43 AM

My dad was with the airlines, so we went a lot when I was a kid anyway. But the first trip I proposed myself was to Austria to see the Lippizannner horses. I was a horse-crazy kid and I'd read Marguerite Henry's "The White Stallion of Lippizza" about a hundred times. My dad took us when I was sixteen, in the mid-80's.

We went in the summer, when the horses were at stud and they weren't performing, so we went to the stud farm in Piber. This was so far off the beaten path for tourists that we were the only Americans. I was in heaven, being so close to these magnificent animals! Overall, it was a fantastic trip. Vienna was a lovely city, and we had a good stay in Graz as well.

From our brief trips to London as a family, it was always my intention to do a semester there, which I eventually did. The first trip I really *planned* on my own was my spring break in Ireland that year, and I had a blast. There are many, many parts of the world that I want to explore, but I still love Ireland and the British Isles.

P_M Mar 23rd, 2005 09:52 AM

It's hard to say. I think I was born with the desire to see the world.

If I have to narrow it down to one moment, I remember when I was about 7 years old and my father told me a story about a tower in Italy that has leaned for hundreds of years without falling down. I knew then I would someday see this tower.

When my high school was sponsoring a trip to Europe for teens, the first question I asked about it was whether or not we would see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The answer was yes, so I signed up and worked my butt of to pay for the trip myself. (Well, mostly, my grandmother kicked in a few hundred dollars to help out. More about her in the next paragraph)

There were 2 other major inspirations. One was a great geography teacher when I was in 4th grade. I don't think she had ever left the US, yet somehow she made it all sound interesting. Then there was my late grandmother who helped make it possible for me to travel, as she loved travel as much as I do. We were soul mates in that we were both born to travel.

SAnParis Mar 23rd, 2005 10:00 AM

Our first trip was in conjunction w/a school trip that my wife was chaperoning. I joined her near the end of the trip (for the students) and we continued on to Vienna & Italy. The food & history certainly made Italy (particularly Venice) one of my top choices anyway. Now, after having been there (Europe in general)several times (12, I guess), my favorite place is Paris, while my wife favors Germany. I must admit our first fear of traveling to Europe was the language, that, as funny as that may sound, has rarely been an issue. After that first trip (my wife was over there for nearly a month, myself half that) we both discovered that the adventure outweighed any trepidation we had about traveling anywhere. We are also very fortunate to be excellent traveling together & our young daughter has also adapted quite nicely.

Chele60 Mar 23rd, 2005 10:09 AM

Thanks to all who have contributed so far! I'm truly enjoying the experiences and thoughts!

i_am_kane Mar 23rd, 2005 10:12 AM

Definitely genealogy. I just had to visit my grandparents' small village in Italy.

Giovanna Mar 23rd, 2005 10:23 AM

Had wanted to visit Europe for years, but not at all interested in the British Isles. Wouldn't you know that would be the first place we visited! Our niece was teaching at an underprivileged school in Glasgow on a Fulbright, and we went with her parents to visit. We toured around in a rented van, visiting Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Arbroath. I was pleasantly surprised with how beautiful Scotland is and how much I enjoyed being there. (Have since also fallen in love with London.)

We then flew to Rome and in a day or so drove south to Tricarico, where my father-in-law was born. It was too far for a pleasant day trip, but it was a wonderful, tearful experience.

jonesie Mar 23rd, 2005 10:27 AM

I had wanted to go to the British Isles for a long time. The planning of it just overwhelmed me (knew I did not want to do a tour). I can gauge any two places in the US and know how long it will take to get there, but Europe scared me-- how long would it take? where would we stay?

So, we were notified in late August 2001 that our friends were getting married in Tuscany in October--- here's our chance! No reason to say no --- it will be easy, the bulk of the trip is planned, we will just tack on a couple days to see Rome and Florence. So on 9/10/01 I am trying to buy the plane tix online, but my computer keeps locking up, so I say forget it, I will deal with it tomorrow.
Well, tomorrow was 9/11/01. Our friends lived in Manhattan, in the area around the WTC which would be quarantined, and thankfully they were both fine, but it took days to get in touch with them, and weeks to figure out if they would still be getting married in Tuscany.
They did, and we decided 2 weeks before to go-- there would always be excuses and reasons not to go to Europe, but we had a reason to go, and we did!
Very rushed planning (obviously), had a travel agent book the hotels and train tix, rented a car online, bought a phrasebook, and off we went!
And we loved it. Even though we call it our "survival" trip-- we had never been out of the country before, so it was a whole new world, trying not to be too "american"- dodging anti-US protests (we had just started bombing)--
but we loved it --- even my husband who HATED flying---
and we have gone back at least once a year ever since. :)

Grasshopper Mar 23rd, 2005 10:28 AM

I read "The Agony and the Ecstasy". I pulled out the Atlas and was following Michaelangleo's travels on the map of Italy and I was hooked.

FainaAgain Mar 23rd, 2005 10:43 AM

As silly as it may sound, it was a movie! A geographical society in San Francisco runs series of movies filmed by amateur travelers, and the one about the Alps was so great, I kept on dreaming! Actually each movie makes me start planning :) I will be in Switzerland in May.

The show those movies at the Paramount in Oakland, 2 more will be shown this season.

carolyn Mar 23rd, 2005 01:22 PM

My regular life is pretty routine and I always liked to see somewhere different from home, so I had seen quite a lot of the U.S. I always wanted to go to Europe in a sort of unformed dream kind of way but might never have done it if it hadn't been for my daughter who begged me to go with her. That first trip did it for both of us. Of course, I had trained her well with our U.S. trips to love travel.

kureiff Mar 24th, 2005 08:27 AM

Like one of the posters above, it was a teacher who taught world history so well.

I remember coloring maps of Europe in sixth grade and memorizing the capitals. We each had to do a report on a country and then our class had an international fair for parents and the community where we displayed our reports, brochures that we had acquired, and ethnic food that we had prepared.

After doing a report on Italy and learning so much about other European countries as a sixth grader, I was thrilled to go to Europe when I was 21 for a whirlwind, self-planned, ten day and four country trip.

Now I can't wait to go back! Some teachers are pretty amazing, aren't they?

cecisard Mar 24th, 2005 08:36 AM

I am a native Brazilian, and I guess it all started with my year in the US as an AFS exchange student. I had the opportunity to meet people from many different countries and became interested in getting to know other cultures. That led me into becoming an anthropologist. Now I have the opportunity to do "academic tourism", that is, I go to meetings, congresses, whatever and try to take a few days, either before or after the meetings, to visit people and places I love. This is how I will be going to London, Paris and Lisbon this coming May, and to Bangkok and Munich in October-November.

Chele60 Mar 24th, 2005 08:36 AM

Yes, kureiff, some teachers are very amazing! I remember my 7th grad Civics teacher had virtually traveled the world during her lifetime. (Not sure how old she was when she was teaching me, but she seemed really old - at least in her 40s! :) ) I can still recall her telling us about all these exotic and wonderful places she had visited: Arabia, Kuwait, places throughout Europe, Asia, sailing on the QEII around the world. We didn't even know where most of these places were (certainly not Kuwait at the time - it was the mid-70s!), but it started my dreaming of adventures to far off lands.

I'm sure this teacher has probably passed on, but I wonder if she fully realized just how much she instilled an expectation of travel in some of her student's imagination.

Yeah, teachers can be thoroughly amazing!

And these insights are really quite interesting! Some I can relate to, others I had not thought of, all are interesting insights!

atravelynn Mar 24th, 2005 10:32 AM

In my 4th grade class we had a social studies book with a guy riding a camel in the desert on its cover. I remember thinking, "Instead of just reading about these places someday I am going to actually go there." It took another decade or so but I've been going to "these places" now for years.

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