Thursday, March 10, 2011

10 FAVORITES (24) - European Wish List!

Hello, my name is Jeremy and I have something shocking to admit. I am a little over 30 years old and I have never been outside North America. I know, I know that I seem worldly and wise to all of you, my loyal readers. But the United States, Canada and (a small part) of Mexico is as far in the world as I have traveled.  In this time when our wallets are not as bottomless as they once were (were they ever?), it is unlikely I will be doing any world travelling in the next couple of years.  As much as I would love to see the beauty of Asia, explore the cultures of Africa and view the wonder that is Australia, there is one continent that constantly comes to mind when asked about my dream vacation: Europe!  Europe is filled with gorgeous countries and cities that are not only historically relevant but they are personally important to me (and my family).  So, this week's 10 FAVORITES is a kind of "Wish List." These are:


CITY #10
Germany, one of the strongest nations today both economically and politically, has an extremely troubled and rocky past.  So, when you say that Berlin (or Munich or Frankfurt!) are on your travel "Wish List," you get the looks.  But Berlin is on my list for a couple of reasons: the main one being is that I can clearly remember being a young boy and watching on television the couple hundreds of young East and West Germans tearing down the notorious wall that once divided the nation.  It would really mean something to me to stand near the place where the wall once stood. (See, I made it through a talk about Germany without making a single Nazi joke! Progress!)

To some this may seem like an odd choice, but when my brother came back from his European tour, I could not stop looking at the pictures of the beautiful Czech capital.  The architecture is so classic and awe-inspiring that it does not surprise me one bit that several filmmakers and movie studios choose to film period films there.  A lot of the structures take the visitor back to a world that seems long forgotten and would be a thrilling addition to any tour of the continent.

The Austrian capital city may surprise people by making the list but the city as a rich and glorious history.  Yes, Austria has given us Innsbruck (2 separate Winter Olympics!) and Salzburg (The Sound of Music!), but Vienna has the gorgeous palaces, opera house, museums and capitol building.  Plus, to see the same buildings and walk the same roads that Mozart once did would be a profound honor for me.

I have had dreams about the iconic Dutch structures and the Amstel River, which is really strange since I have never been there.  Amsterdam was always a fun European capital to say (since you had to say the word "dam!") and, as I got older, the more fascinating place to visit.  Those of my generation (and older) know to which part of Amsterdam I reefer....I mean, refer!

The only non-capital city on the entire list.  Barcelona has grown in my estimation ever since the 1992 Summer Olympics.  And the more I see films set in Barcelona or hear of a friend or family member's trip to the city, I get envious and I want to hop on a plane to sunny Spain. Hey, I made a rhyme! I hope it doesn't rain. (Okay, let's move on.)

Molto Bene! This is where the Italian in me comes out.  And my Catholic upbringing (and the guilt that goes right along with that!) makes itself known.  But in addition to the Vatican and the beautiful St. Peter's Basillica, Rome is filled with a rich and powerful history.  The Colosseum must be as glorious as a gladiator fight and "funny things" can happen at the forum (or on the way there!). Who could resist the city's Italian charms? So when in Rome, Veni! Vidi! Vici! Wait, that's Latin. Oh well, Ciao baby!

One of the most exciting things during my academic life (in both high school and college) was studying the endless supply of classical Greek mythology.  The gods and goddesses were especially fascinating to me (but that's another list!).  I would love to go to Greece and see its original city-state, the birthplace of democracy.  And there's also the Parthenon, the Temple of Zeus and, of course, the Acropolis.  The ancient structures would be fascinating for Greek Myth Geek like me to visit.

This is the most personal city on the list for me.  Both sides of my family (both grandmothers for that matter) have strong Irish blood in them.  So even though I may be your generic European mutt (Irish, Italian, French, German, etc.), it is the Irish that is most likely the strongest part of me.  To go to Dublin would be what Oprah  calls "a full circle moment."  I would just love to visit the castles, the pubs, the greenery, the pubs, the River Liffey and, oh, did I mention the pubs?  Hey, I am Irish!

This city is pretty much a no-brainer.  Almost everyone I have talked to about this list says that Paris has to be on here, whether I really want to go there or not. But it so happens that I would love to go to Paris.  If for nothing else than to just stand beneath the Eiffel Tower.  But there is also Notre Dame de Paris, the Champs-Élysées, the  Louvre Museum and so on and so forth.  So, yes, Paris is truly a place to be in Europe, but it is not THE place to be (for me at least).

This city has always been a dream of mine since I was a child.  My two favorite cities in the United States are my home base of San Francisco and the bright lights of New York City.  To me (at least based on what I've observed), London seems like both of those cities put together and therefore the European city I would feel most comfortable in.  I could marvel at the glory of the Thames, adore the beauty of Westminster Abbey, see the journalistic bustle of Fleet Street and the political intrigue of Downing Street AND, if I have time, stroll by Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle and give an "'Allo!" wave to "Lizzie" and her regal brood. And of course I must take in a show in the West End!

So that ends my "Wish List" tour of Europe and I hope that it inspired people to add these cities to their lists.  For those who have already been there, don't rub it in! Next week, we'll stay geographical and I will tell you about my favorite cities in North America, since (as I said) is the only continent I've seen!

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