Anything in history so moved you or interested you that you just had to touch it or see it or experience it? History can be thousands of years ago, or yesterday.
Yes, WWII. My father fought through Europe so I have an interest and have followed his journey on two trips so far.
Also, went to Egypt earlier this year, a place I had wanted to visit since elementary school. It was an incredible experience!
Ive always had an interest in history and thats why I loved Rome. But the one big event in my life was a few years back when my wife was out of town visiting relatives and in boredom I began watching NetFlix documentaries. I ran across this one the day before she returned home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RibAQHeDia8
When she got home, I told her no reason to unpack, we were leaving for Kyiv in two days. We arrived in Kyiv on August 22nd 2016; two days before the 25th anniversary of independence. Meeting and talking to those that participated. Seeing where it happened, then participating in their independence celebrations was among the more amazing trips of my life.
Moved me might be too strong of a word but interested me works. Two books of required reading in High School were All Quiet on the Western Front and A Tale of Two Cities, both gave me a strong interest in WW1 and the French Revolution. A bucket-list item is to get to Vimy Ridge someday and see the site of Canada's most historic battle. Haven't done it yet because my wife doesn't share my enthusiasm. Haven't made it to Paris yet either for more than a couple of half days but have been meaning to figure out some sort of revolution tour that I could take.
Reading Historical Fiction or movies is usually how I get my interest in history to begin with and then I act on it from there. I guess I should thank Ms. Montgomery from high school for the beginning of my love of history.
Allen, I get it; its why Rome was so fascinating. Then current history grabbed me. So much of today becomes more relevant when I am reminded of the recent events that got us here. Simple things sometimes. Across the street from my apartment in Budapest there is a third floor are a couple of windows around which the brick is riddled by bullet holes. The '56 revolution I assume. That started me asking a lot of questions and doing a lot of reading which changed my judgment of a lot that goes on today. Funny how little things barely noticed can change your thinking.
Our interest in history is the primary driver for all of our travel. (Well, that and food.) Even the art we see is more about the historical element of it than appreciation of art itself (perhaps why we don't care as much for "modern" art). No matter where we go, it's about understanding the history of the place, walking where others walked before us, understanding how what happened then led to where we are now.
Now that I think about it, even the history of the food is intriguing. Especially within Europe, where the countries are close but the food is so vastly different from region to region, is fascinating.
I don't know how anyone can enjoy travel but claim that they don't like or are not interested in history. They are the same to me.
In my case, it is my mom's family history in the Balkans. My ancestors 7 gen back were Germanic settlers there in now-northern Serbia (Vojvodinja) in 1784. The family lived in the Batschka area for the next 4-5 generations in various small villages. My grandmother was born in Buda-Pest - all areas were part of Austria-Hungary until 1918. We have been to many parts of the Balkans, and I am not tired of it. Due to my professional interests, I have gained friends and professional colleagues in Zagreb and other parts of Croatia, and a little in Serbia.
My father is a WWII vet, signal core. He was in Lyon and Metz mostly. He’s still living, 97 years young, and that prompted reading all about the war and that time period. Also, my husband is from Croatia and he is naturally interested in his country’s history. We are planning a trip to Brno cause my husband was on a family vacation, with other families, they did mostly group travel in those days, when the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia in ‘68. He wants to go back because it is such a vivid memory.
Like Celeste, I'm mostly a history-driven traveler. To be in the Roman Forum, or the Alesia battle site, or the room in Blois Chateau where the Duke of Guise was murdered, or the Tower of London, or Hadrian's Wall -- or you name it -- that's where the thrill lies. Food and wine, well, nice and necessary and occasionally memorable. Art is another attraction, but mostly because of the history it involves. Scenery, sure, where it's really beautiful. And I've gotten more into the iconography of churches and palaces and such -- recognizing the Habsburg double-headed eagle or the Medici balls or the various French kings' emblems (salamander, porcupine, etc.) on architecture, not to mention the whole array of symbols in churches. It can be kind of like beachcombing without the beach. (I like beaches too.)
I was able to incorporate visits to a number of Holocaust-related memorials and museums in France and Germany, on my most recent trip. Reading the display boards in the Gedenstätte Deutscher Widerstand (German Resistance Museum), where staff outnumbered visitors, or standing completely alone on Gleis 17, as suburban commuters rushed through the train station passageway below, I felt sad because the warnings of this history are quickly being forgotten.
There were some encouraging moments, such as encountering school groups outside the Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz and at the Mémorial de la Shoah de Drancy. They were behaving like normal teenagers, at times shouting and laughing among friends, but I hoped that what they had seen had made an impression. That these school groups were multicultural is in-and-of-itself a sign of progress in France, and especially in Germany.
I was also heartened to see the memorial plaques that have been put up at the entrance doors of most public schools in Paris in the past three years. The number of children deported from the particular school, if known, or from the neighborhood or the entire arrondissement, is stated. Sometimes, the text admits the responsibility of collaborationists. This degree of frankness is new in France.
It was a chance meeting on my train to Nantes, though, that set me on an alternative but related track. When traveling solo I always reserve a "place isolée", but this time, the only remaining seat was a "duo vis à vis". I had brought a picnic lunch, a demi-bouteille of wine, and my polycarbonate wine goblet. I was embarrassed to open the bottle without being able to share it with the gentleman sitting opposite me, but at least I could share the chocolate bar I'd brought. He, a Nantais, drew up a whole itinerary of places I should visit during my afternoon in his city. He even accompanied me for the first hour of my walk. (I ordered a second polycarbonate wine goblet to be delivered to my hotel the next day, and faithfully carried two goblets in my day pack from then on!)
The Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation, a series of underground displays along the riverbank, was compelling. I didn't know that Nantes had been a key link in France's slave trade. My friend from the train had told me that the memorial and the growing public awareness were due to the actions of a progressive mayor.
My discovery in Nantes led me to seek out other sites related to migrations and slavery, later in my trip. During my stay in Mauritius, I got to visit the Aapravasi Ghat, the place where the indentured workers who are the ancestors of 70% of the island's present-day population were received, in the years after the British "abolished slavery".
I came home to several parcels' worth of books that I had bought at these memorial sites and mailed to myself. Now I'm stuck indoors, and travel won't be possible for a while. I have my reading cut out for me, and can plan stops for my future trips, so that I can learn more.
I still feel like I’m on hallowed ground when I land at Tegel. I’ve done the airport tour at Tempelhof... twice. I had dinner with Gail “Hal” Halvorsen, the first US airman to drop candy to the kids of Berlin, a couple of years ago at a Pizza Hut in Manteo, NC (along with one of the kids to whom he dropped candy). I’ve searched out the school named after Col Halvorsen in Berlin. I’ve placed a flower at the Luftbrücke memorial in Berlin. I’ve climbed onto the Hastings TG 503 aircraft (likely used in the airlift) at the Alliierten Museum in Berlin. I’ve flown on a C-54 converted into a flying Berlin Airlift museum (most recently with the Colonel’s son-in-law sitting beside me). And I’ve watched kids run for candy the last 3 Decembers dropped from that C-54 at a candy drop recreation in the small NC town mentioned above.
My main interest in Europe was originally in the architecture and the art in the museums. But I began noticing Roman ruins everywhere, and now have become really interested in ancient history (I've always been into Greece). From there I've become fascinated by early, then later, medieval history. So for me, European travel has stimulated an interest in historical events, rather than the other way around.
Anything in history so moved you or interested you that you just had to touch it or see it or experience it?
The exact opposite, actually: there is an annual commemoration where I actively avoid the country it happened in because it's just too traumatic for me.
I always wanted to go to Italy because I grew up in a kind of "Little Italy" area. As I grew up, England took over my fascination. Neither DH nor I come from wealthy traveling families, so it seemed a fantasy. But when Princess Diana died, I was consumed with the need to go to England. And so that was our first trip to Europe/UK. We finally got to England in 2000. Both of us were addicted to it immediately.
Nothing of significant historic importance, but for my wife, it was living in Germany when her father was stationed there. For me, it was living in Spain for a few years while in the military and making a couple Western Europe trips during that time. We did make one UK trip geared towards WW-II and its sights; most significant to me was visiting Spanhoe airfield near Uppingham where my father’s unit (315th Troop Carrier Command) was based out of for a portion of the war. To me, it was fascinating standing by the old main runway, imagining how busy that airfield, full of C-47s, and my father would have been preparing for, then taking off, to drop off troops and supplies, on D-day. He was lucky and was not shot down.