by Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert
Did you know that September 27 is World Tourism Day? The United Nations World Tourism Organization started this day in 1980 and we would like to wish you HAPPY WORLD TOURISM DAY!
Why celebrate World Tourism Day each year? Basically, it is to raise awareness about the role of tourism in the global community and celebrate the benefits of worldwide travel. Anne and I are strong supporters of worldwide travel. There are many reasons why visiting another country is important, but here are the three reasons we think are the most important. We believe that travel makes us richer—it probably is the only thing you can spend money on and actually gain more wealth. We believe that learning about another culture enhances our lives—those who never get to experience the world through other folks eyes will never get to see how wonderful and unique the planet of Earth really is. But perhaps, most importantly, we think that connecting with new people deepens our understanding of the world—we are really more alike than different. We feel our travels has allowed us to become better people!
We thought maybe you might like to see some of the really unique things we have gotten to do together while traveling in Europe together for 28 years by sharing some of our favorite pictures.
The first picture is of us marching in a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Sligo, Ireland. Anne made her costume—I was Buzz Lightyear and she was Jesse, inspired from Toy Story. What a great cultural experience—the best holiday in Ireland—it was awesome!
The second picture is what is said to be the smallest house in all of the United Kingdom. It is in Conway, Wales. At 6 feet wide and 10 feet tall, it is amazing anyone could live here but a fisherman did until 1900.
The third is Brugge near sunset—the reflection off the water was magical. (Anne took this picture)
The forth is Paris at night looking down on the Eiffel Tower. It is taken from the only skyscraper in Paris, the Montparnasse Tower. Most folks only look up at the Eiffel Tower—we found a place to look down at it!
The fifth is the Samson Fountain in just outside St. Petersburg ,Russia. The Samson Fountain, Peterhof, St. Petersburg, Russia. This fountain displays muscular Samson tearing open the jaws of a lion. The fountain symbolized Peter the Great’s victory over Sweden. Sweden’s coat of arms is the lion; the victory was achieved on Samson’s Day, 27 June 1709.
The next is walking hand and hand in Ephesus where Anthony and Cleopatra used to walk. 2000 years ago came to the present, to see a Biblical Land was unique and so memorable!
Another cool Anne picture is from Santorini looking down on our cruise ship. Sheer luxury! Anne was convinced the bartender was a Greek god, who brought us offerings of wine and cheese! Of course, the next is the sunset–maybe the best place on Earth to see the sun go down!
It was hard to pick a favorite castle picture, since we have been to so many, but I decided to go with Bled Castle in Slovenia—so dramatic on the cliff overlooking the lake. Slovenia is unique for many reasons but on is that it has only one island in the middle of Lake Bled. It is a famous chapel where on of the great romantic wedding traditions takes place during the summer. The groom, to prove his fitness for marriage, carries his bride to be up the 98 steps to the Church of the Assumption, encouraged by the wedding party (we were told about 4 out of every 5 grooms succeed). It is also said if you ring the church bell 3 times all your dreams will come true.
A food tour in Rome has to rate high up on our list. We participated in an awesome food tour led by Hande Leimer (owner of #Vino Roma), who took us to a Trionfale Market, where all produce comes directly from the growers. If you truly want to understand a different country, you have to participate in events like this!
Venice is another great destination that we thought was worthy of including. The first picture is of St Mark’s Square, the Doge Palace and the Bridge of Sighs. The second is of a gondola, another symbol of Venice.
I have so many favorite pictures of Germany, I ask Anne to pick one that was special to her. We could not select one alone, so we decided to select 3. The first is a street market in Freiburg with its colorful fresh flowers for sale. The second are a half-timbered homes in Miltenberg. The third is the Rhine River gorge, with its castles and vineyards–Pfatzgrafenstein Toll Station (foreground); Gutenfels Castle (on the hill);.
Budapest at night is another favorite. This is the Budapest Parliament—stunning to say the least!
The Swiss Guard standing watch in the Vatican is another personal favorite of mine. So much history packed into a picture—the Christian faith, the mercenary Swiss Guards who protect the Pope sometimes to their death, and the grandeur of the Vatican represented by the huge door (Anne loves pictures of doors and windows!).
The Hall of Mirrors in Versailles is another favorite. It is 250 ft long with 17 windows with stunning garden views. The 17 arched mirrors combined with 24 candelabras & busts of Roman emperors & painted ceilings telling the story of the sun king’s battle victories that make it special. It was often filled with nobles in silk gowns, wigs & fine clothes who loved to look at themselves– mirrors were a luxury. This is the room were the treaty of Versailles was signed that ended World War I.
Man at work in Bratislava, Slovakia, shows the whimsy of the local folks. There are several statues around the city to help greet visitors.
The moose head at the Christmas markets in Basel also makes our list. Christmas markets are so much fun—we have been to several dozen!
The roof of the Hall of the 2 sisters in Nazaries Palace of the Alhambra is a wonderful, intricate work beyond description. The Alhambra is so detailed and stunning with views of Granada and the Sierra Nevada Mountains it is a place we would go to over and over.
Last, but not least is Anne & I at our new digs (“don’t we wish”)—Crom Castle in Northern Ireland—don’t we look like the owners of this estate?
As I said in the beginning, travel has changed us for the better. We are richer from our experiences, we have learned and experienced different cultures and our connection to new people and places has taught us about how special the world really is. We also hope this will inspire you to visit Europe or any other worldwide destination–we will be glad to help. Please give Hank a call at 713-397-0188 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help you Savor life . . .make memories . . . Visit Dream Destinations! Your journey begins here!