Why do <i>you </i>go to Europe?

Why do you go to Europe, despite a sagging economy and the high cost of travel? Does it have anything to do with those inspirational moments that put a lump in your throat? What have been some of your inspirational moments in Europe?

Posted by Jarrod
White Bear Lake, MN, USA
479 posts

Unfortunately, it was the day that I saw a man in Rome sitting on the sidewalk with no shoes and badly blistered feet. It was January. He had his hat out. I really wanted to buy the guy a pair of shoes but all of the shops were closed.

Then I realized something. If I bought that guy a pair of shoes there is no guarantee he would wear them. Also, had I bought him a pair of shoes then I'd be taking away what could be his only source of income. I realized that his torn-up feet were his source of income. Perhaps they were his only source of income. I doubt that someone would choose to let their feet become so maimed.

That day taught me that there's always a story behind what you see at face value. I try to take a moment to consider more than what I see, although I'm still not very good at it.

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1524 posts

My most imspirational moments, so far:

  1. Arriving in London, and fulfilling my dream -- on my first European trip
  2. Viewing the Eiffel Tower for the first time
  3. Seeing the view of the Tuscan countryside from Cortona, Italy
Posted by Kate
Carslbad, CA, USA
103 posts

Peering through the heavy glass on the Bridge of Sighs in Venice Italy. I realized how we can take our freedom for granted and how precious the beauty of this world can be when it's threatened. Kate

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
3589 posts

Truly there are many breathtaking sights in Europe, but arriving at the American Cemetary in Normandy literally took away my ability to speak. Seeing all of the rows and rows of graves and knowing the history of WWII just left me feeling so pathetically inadequate. What an eye-opener.

Posted by Kate
Carslbad, CA, USA
103 posts

Sometimes I think it's the antiguity of Europe that is such a draw... Anytime there is so much emotion and passion in a room a place or a gallery.. I think it leaves it's own energy that we can share and draw on..Europe has an energy all it's own..

Posted by Kate
Carslbad, CA, USA
103 posts

Maybe you've all showed us what the difference is between a tourist and a traveler.

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
8870 posts

Tim, re your post about the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach: I felt the same way you did. I remember the sculpture called "The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves" and nearby the inscription from the French people that reads something like this: "A grateful French nation thanks the Mothers of America for the sacrifice of their sons on this beach in June 1944." Has been known to bring tears to the eyes.

Posted by Flight Attendant
Niagara Wine Country, Canada
808 posts

Mine was deadheading to Europe for the very first time. I was asked to liberate my seat to accomodate a sick child. I was asked to take the Jumpseat in the Cockpit for the duration of the flight and landing into Faro, Portugal. I couldn't believe it! The sensation, the thrill, the 3-2-1, the red clay roofs, the donkeys with plows, the date palms! Culture shock!
No, that was probably was a close second...
Operating my first flight as Flight Attendant, making the announcement that we were about to begin our decent (home)into YYZ...looking out my Jumpseat window seeing the CN Tower flashing in the morning mist...remembering that I had promised myself as a young Girl that one day it would be ME be up there welcoming MY passengers into my beautiful city!! A goal reached and a dream fulfilled!! From "Wannabe Flight Attendant" to "Flight Attendant? Hey, that's me!" I could bearly get the English and French announcement out of me with the lump in my throat and my eyes welling up! Most days I still feel that way, even a decade later... only now my mascara doesn't run!
Travel DOES broaden the mind! And open your eyes...the ultimate education!

Posted by Bob
Gettysburg, PA
1439 posts

December, 1985 in Hedelberg, Germany. Arriving after dark and parking in an underground parking lot, I walked up the steps and stepped out into the square- a light snow was falling as I looked up at the castle overlooking the town - breathtaking, still.

More recently, in Rome, my wife & I walked around a corner to see a section of the aquaduct looming over our heads. Still there, still solid. A silent sentinal to a long ago time.

Posted by Cora
Vancouver, BC, Canada
191 posts

Last year was my first trip alone, and my first time to Europe. My most memorable moments of 5 weeks of backpacking was seeing and walking up the bookcase to the attic in the Anne Frank House and seeing things she had written and pasted up on the wall still there almost as if she never left, second being really homesick and then stepping out onto the balcony right over the ocean in Vernazza, Cinque Terre. And finally the moment I stepped off the train in Venice and saw the grand canal, all I can say was it was magical.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8278 posts

The most inspirational moment of this year's trip to Spain was walking into the beautiful Catedral de Leon and seeing the breathtaking stained glass windows all around. And it was the only morning all week that we had brilliant sun, making it that much better! It's awe-inspiring to think that some of that artistry has been there for 600 years. When I visit places such as this, I spend some time thinking about the people who came before me, and those who did this remarkable work -- how did they get up there, anyway, without hydraulic lifts? :) I could have stayed all day watching the play of light change.

Posted by Kate
Carslbad, CA, USA
103 posts

Nancy.. isn't it amazing?? I got the same awe inspired feelings at San Marcos Basilica in Venice. The mosaic floors that we walked on were thought out and lovingly placed by artisans who spent years on their knees all for HIS glory, never knowing how many hearts and minds they would touch centuries later.

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
8870 posts

Nancy and Kate: Thank you for sharing your experiences in Spain and Venice. I was in Sainte Chapelle listening to Les Solistes de l'Orchestre Symphonique Francais play the Four Seasons, and the sun was setting behind the stained glass wall on one side of the chapel; and it was just as Nancy said, the colors kept changing by the minute. In that place, with that music, and the sunlight changing behind the stained glass....

Posted by Gela
San Jose, CA, USA
420 posts

Each trip I take there's always that special moment - a snapshot in my mind. But what stood out the most to me of the 12 European countries I've been to, was when I arrived for the first time in Venice this past May. I walked out of the train station and looked out at this amazing floating fantasy. It took me by surprise. It was a magical 4 days. So much so that I will return to continue the adventure in December.

Posted by Paul n Sara
Newburyport, MA
683 posts

So many things inspired, but some of the most:
Seeing babies laugh at the same things everywhere, children playing the same (or nearly so) games,sports fans celebrating happily-- in short, realizing that there are few places very different, that all people simply wish to dance , raise their children and to enjoy weddings and parties .

Posted by JC
219 posts

I had many European inspirational moments. The 2 that stood out the most occurred during my 1st British trip many years ago. The 1st was a RSC production of Henry V starring Kenneth Branagh at the Barbican in London. Branagh's portrayal of Henry was so real to me that after he gave the St Crispian's Day speech, I wanted to sign up and fight the French. I knew I was watching an historical, live performance. I later found out that the critics thought he would be another Olivier.
The 2nd was riding a rented bike from Brompton to Hadrian's Wall in the English countryside on a beautiful, sunny day. When I got to the Wall, I realized that ancient Roman soldiers built this awesome structure. Here I was touching and climbing on top of it. At 1 point I saw this magnificient tree standing alone in the nearby fields. I took a snapshot of it. Everytime I look at the picture I remember that wonderful day.

Posted by Meg
San Francisco, California, USA
36 posts

I've had two inspirational moments. One was while walking through a double row of standing stones along the path to the church on the isle of Iona. Iona, a tiny island in the Inner Hebrides, has been a holy island since the time of the so-called "ancient Britons." There's something truly magical about the place. Among many other things, it gave me goosebumps to realize that Macbeth is buried there.

The other had to do with something much more modern: the Brandenburger Tor, which we visited on Unification Day, 2002. We walked freely back and forth over the place where the Berlin Wall had stood. For anyone who caught that moment on TV, the night of November 9, 1989, it is a joyful thing to walk through the gate.

Posted by Susan
Prince George, BC, Canada
140 posts

My husband and I have traveled to Europe a few times and there have been many inspirational/special moments -- travel opens the senses and mind to wonderful moments. The two that stick out in my mind were 1.) waking up that first morning in Kitzbuel to the sound of bells from all the churches, and 2.) the sound of the cow and goat bells whilst hiking in the Swiss Alps.

Posted by Jill
Boulder, USA
659 posts

During our last trip there were many great moments, but the one that brought actual tears to my eyes was the hike we took from Almendhubel (above Murren)to Gimmelwald in early June while the flowers were blooming. I grew up in Colorado and have been to Yosemite many times, but have never experienced anything so overwhelmingly beautiful. My husband always describes it as Yosemite on steroids.

Posted by Lauren
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
20 posts

When my husband and I were just dating, we took a whirlwind six-week trip through eight European countries after college and had many of those pinch-me-I-can't-believe-we're-here moments. But my favorite was in Munich when we happened upon what seemed like a spontaneous summer festival in the city's main plaza and got swept up in the music, dancing and laughter. There were revelers in traditional dress, young and old, everyone with a mug of beer and everyone so carefree ... I can still summon the feeling I had then and feel so lucky to have been there, in that exact spot at that exact moment.

Posted by DW
Bothell, WA, USA
206 posts

Trip #1: seeing/hearing Bach's Mass in b minor by candlelight in St. Martin's in the Field (London).

Also trip #1: a new war (WW II?) museum outside of Valence (France)(will have to look up the name later). Many people were crying, nothing was in English (but didn't need to be), and there was an overwhelming gratefulness to the American troops for their assistance. Before I went to this museum, I didn't even know the Americans had gone there....

More trip #1: getting into the Tower of London early and spending time alone with the Crown Jewels.

Trip #2: Spending a WHOLE DAY at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew (outside London).

Trip #2: Being the only American at my friend's wedding in a 13th century cathedral in Valence, France.

Trip #3: Coming next year! DH's first trip across the pond. :-)

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1517 posts

I like the Alps. My first glimpse of the tall Alps mountains, with some snow on it, in southern Germany, was a thrill. And in Norway the friendly and helpful Norwegian people were inspirational to me. When foriegn travellers in Norway ask a Norwegian person for directions, the Norwegian person has a cordial strong desire to help the Foreign traveler. And some Swedish people in Sweden are equal to the Norwegians in that respect.

Posted by Georgiatraveler
Atlanta, GA
229 posts

I've had 3 over the last 9 years. My 1st 9 years ago, seeing my best friend for the first time in Stockport, England. We started out as pen pals some 10 years before the actual meeting but quickly became the best of friends.

The 2nd and 3rd happened this past March. First seeing my best friend after she had spent the past year going through chemo treatments for breast cancer. She's only 34, with a 7 year old daughter and to see her having fun after the worst year and doing things with her daughter, myself & my husband that she wouldn't be able to do otherwise. The 3rd moment had to be seeing my husband at Edinburgh Castle for the first time. This was actually his 2nd trip to England, he had gone with me the previous summer to visit my best friend, but to actually see him standing and looking at such a historical place was so worth it. He had always said he would never go overseas but it put the biggest smile on my face to see him there looking in amazement at the castle.

Posted by Karen
800 posts

Several over the past 15 years:

1)Standing in the attic where Anne Frank lived in Amsterdam, looking out at the same little patch of sky that she talks about in her diary.

2)Seeing the David in person - it really is the most amazing piece of art - it brought our entire family to a standstill (including my small children). We stared at it, circling it for almost 30 minutes.

3)Seeing Don Giovanni in the same Opera House in Prague where it had debuted. I had goosebumps as I thought about Mozart's genius.

And a small bit of "ah ha" moments - seeing the colors in Ireland - there really is a reason they call it the Emerald Isle.

Posted by Kate
Carslbad, CA, USA
103 posts

I want to thank all the wonderful travelers' who have posted their thoughts and memories... Such indelible impressions that make me want to go where you've been and see what you've seen and feel what you've felt..People are universal..Please keep sharing!

Posted by Bob
Gettysburg, PA
1439 posts

Thought of a few more:

August 1st in any Swiss village or small town for their main national holiday. Parades galore.

Barcelona street at lunch time when the locals drop their coats and dance a tradional Catalonia dance in a big circle.

Posted by Amy
Clarksville, TN, USA
862 posts

When I was 16, I went to Germany and Austria with a group from school. We went up to the castle in Salzburg, and when I walked to the backside of the castle and saw the Alps for the first time, it took my breath away.

Posted by Charles
Katy, Texas, USA
204 posts

I am an agnostic. Once on a visit to Gesu in Roma I had walked halfway down the aisle when the organ suddenly burst out with Bach's Jesus, Joy of Man's Desiring. It sent a shiver up my spine and suddenly I knew why people believed in God, built cathedrals, wrote music and did many things. They want to touch the void, exceed themselves, commune with eternity. I am still an agnostic but I no longer disdain those who do believe.

Posted by JC
219 posts

Charles, I was moved by your post! You nicely summarized why Christian European art was created.

Posted by Laurel
Arlington, WA
871 posts

I'm hard pressed to think of my "most" inspirational moment. 1.Evensong at York Minster 2. Evensong at Westminster Abbey 3. The Culloden Battelfield and Kilmainham Gaol.

Posted by CL
Salem, Oregon, USA
947 posts

1) Seeing "David" in Florence, a fantastic, sit down and shut up moment. I still get chills thinking about it.

2) Meeting an elderly man in Venice who helped me find my way to a restaurant (I was super lost). He spoke no English, but seemed just thrilled to help out a total stranger. This is one of many examples of generosity and tolerance illustrated by Europeans that I think many in the US could take a page from.

3) Kind of silly, but on my first trip to Europe, getting off the plane in London and seeing an entire candy machine devoted to Cadbury chocolate (if you like Cadbury, you'll understand)

Posted by Susan
Prince George, BC, Canada
140 posts

I've thought of some more spine tingling and inspirational moments.
1.) walking through a WW I graveyard in the Somme (there are hundreds of them) in the fog. The fog is so thick you can't see the wall that surrounds the hundreds of gravestones, and you know that this was the kind of weather that the soldiers often fought in. As this part of France is surrounded by lots of farmland, you can also hear (but not see) the tractors working in the nearby fields -- VERY eerie.
2.) Seeing my first ruined castle - it's called Corfe Castle, near Bournemouth in southern England. We were driving on a narrow, hilly secondary highway when we rounded a corner, and there it was - craggy and broken against the setting sun. Absolutely magnificient.

Posted by Chris
Renton, WA, USA
81 posts

1) Passing through Santa Lucia train station onto the bank of the Grand Canal just before dusk. 2) Also in Venice, I was upstairs at Saint Mark's when they turned the interior lights on, brilliantly illuminating the hundreds of square feet of golden mosaics on the ceiling. 3) Walking around the Musikverein my last night in Vienna, I scored a very good center balcony ticket for the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Zubin Mehta. In my travel clothes I was pretty scruffy compared to the locals, but at intermission, a lady who had been sitting with her family a few seats away asked if I was American and was I enjoying Vienna and the concert, and even complimented my woeful high school German. She then introduced me to her husband, daughter and son-in-law, and we met up again briefly after the concert and chatted some more, they wanting to know about my current travels and where I would go next.

Posted by Chris
Renton, WA, USA
81 posts

4) An "Only in Europe" moment atop the Schilthorn in Switzerland--I met three Brits, an older couple and their grandson, there to celebrate grandpa's 80th birthday, and as I always do, offered to take their picture. Observing this a few feet away was a German couple who had the same problem, and gestured could I take a picture of them as well. In that case my bit of German came in handy, as I not only got them some good pix, but introduced them to the Brits, explaining about the birthday and holiday; a nice UN moment, I thought.

Posted by Luke
Carmel, CA
28 posts

I have never been so moved as when I walked through the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam.

Posted by Barbara
Walnut Creek, CA
70 posts

The "lump in my throat" moment for me was on an RS tour of Germany, Austria & Switzerland. We were on the bus traveling between Munich and Saltzburg. Along the side of the road I saw a sign for Meisbach. This was the town where my grandmother had grown up. I was not aware that we were going to pass by this town. I looked out the window and thought that these were the mountains that she saw growing up. It made me feel closer to her knowing where she spent her time until she came to America at age 21.

Posted by paul
hubertus, wi
10 posts

Just back from 21 days, 1.In Venice the gondola ride, with acoridain and singer. 2.Lauterbrruen Valley Switzerland, was a photographers dream.#. Eiffel Tower,Paris at sunset.

Posted by Ann
Summerfield, F:L, USA
71 posts

Great quesiton!

  1. The David statue by Michelangelo in Florence brought tears to my eyes.

  2. Verdun, France, the museum, and the battlefield

  3. the American cementery by Omaha Beach.

  4. Auschwitz

  5. Lisbon & the beginning of the Age of Discovery

  6. Mayan ruins outside Cancun


Posted by Dan
Ocean Shores, Wa, USA
124 posts

Last fall, on our trip to Ireland...1st magical moment: Standing in the Church yard, where my great-great Grandfather's baptismal records are kept, and realizing that he and his parents left Ireland in 1851 to escape the famine and find a better life in America, and the 2nd: on our last full day in Ireland, seeing "Newgrange" and the realization that it was constructed over 5,200 years ago....before the Pyramids, Stonehenge, and the Great Wall of China....awesome...to think that all those huge rocks were moved several miles before the wheel was invented, and that the light passage-way lined up with the sun perfectly during the solstice to light the inner chamber on only 5 days during each year! The beauty of the countryside, the many shades of green, and the friendliness of the Irish people will make a lasting impact! I think about going back there on a daily basis...I can't wait!

Posted by Lisa
Ithaca, NY, USA
47 posts

First trip to Europe, January 1990. I was flying from Seattle to Copenhagen to study abroad for one semester. About 8 hours through the 10-hour flight, it was starting to get light outside and I opened my window shade. There below me was Norway, just as if I was looking at a huge map, and I have always loved looking at maps. The outline of that jagged coast in the early morning light was unmistakable and I remember it to this day as probably the coolest thing I have ever seen in my life.

Posted by Robin Z
Troy, Oh, USA
1676 posts

My moment came at the Tower of London. In 1985 when we went to the Ceremony of the Keys, we met a Guard, he was the one that night that let you in to the tower, and told you what was going to happen. We got to see him again in 1988. In 1996 my husband, two daughters, two of their friends and I went to the Cermemony of the Keys. At the very end our friend the Guard came out and stood in front of the group and asked the "Z........" to stay behind when the others left. So after every one left it was only Mr. Jackson and us in the Tower it was so magical. He told us a lot of things that is never told, we were there for an hour, then he walked us up to the gate.
Mr Jackson has since retired and living a grand life in Cornwall with his wife. We will always remember that wonderful June night with Mr. Jackson in the Tower of London.

Posted by Christy
Laguna Beach, CA, USA
270 posts

Tough, tough question though. If I MUST narrow it down:
1. Anne Frank house. I read the question a few days ago but was too busy to post at the time. Anne Frank was one of my first thoughts. Today I read other's answers and realized it is mentioned quite a bit. I didn't expect it to impact me the way it did. I ended up going by one late afternoon b/c I returned to A'dam sooner than expected from a day trip. Went to the house, no line, not many people inside. I walked out stunned and speechless. It was just so moving and had such an impact.

  1. View from the backside of Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal. Unforgettable. Beautiful, breezy blue sky day. Way up on a hill, spreading out in front of you are lush green hills that extend all the way to the coast. It's breathtaking. I stood in one spot and just stared for nearly an hour (friend actually left me!). Couldn't shake the image and led me back to Portgual 6 months later (4 days only and all the way from Calif.) to see the site again
Posted by jack
Sheboygan, Wisc., USA
929 posts

I had 2 also.After seeing the Cemetary in Normandy I drove to Oradour-sur-Glane.Seeing the burned out village,bullet holes and a childs buggy was very moving.The 2nd was driving from Lake Como to Austria via the high road.We stayed in the tiny town of Glurn on a Saturday night.Sunday morning the entire town formed a parade thru town along with the children who were receiving first communion.All were dressed in their sunday finest.

Posted by John
St. Petersburg, FL, USA
104 posts

Wow, so many, it's hard to narrow down. I'll cite 2: making and meeting a new friend in France who invited us to her home in Normandy for Sunday dinner. Also, I always get a rush coming up the long escalator from the Metro in Paris at the Etoile station and "greeting me" at the top is the Arc de Triomphe. It's the symbol of Paris to me, not the Eiffel tower.

Posted by Flight Attendant
Niagara Wine Country, Canada
808 posts

There have been many...And there are always more to add to the list as I wander...
One that stands out in my mind is Cabbo da Rocha (Portugal), the most Westernly point of Europe overlooking the misty Altantic...Amazing!! (But no matter how hard you try, even on the clearest of days, you CAN'T see the Liberty Bell!!)

A great place to sit among the majestic rocks, in solitude, and try to figure it all out...Especially at Sunrise before the Tourists come along...A great "thinking spot".

Posted by tracee
granada hills, ca
24 posts

Sitting on my bed in Paris(in Montemart) seeing the Eiffel Tower illuminated by an electrical storm.

Michaaelanglos "David" was indeed amazing, but seeing his unfinished works "the Slaves" made me believe in God for the first time in my adult life(and I really am embarrased by how drama queen-y that sounds). I was quite moved by seeing a blind man being allowed to see (with his hands) these sculptures

Posted by Dani
Tucson, AZ, USA
57 posts

Some of you have posted the exact things that touched me like falling in love with Venice at first sight outside the train station or seeing David up close and very personal. Then there is the Mesquita in Cordoba and the Alhambra in Spain.

My first trip to Ireland and getting off the plane feeling that I had returned home. My great-great grandmother had taken her three little boys and come to America on a coffin ship. My uncle told me he had the exact same sensation when he made the trip after WWII. Several times people looked at me and asked me if I had come home. I cried in the yard at Kilmainham Prison on my last trip.

Chartres on a sunny day will take away your breath.

I can't forget seeing Michaelangelo's Pieta in St. Peters. It actually seems to be breathing. The most astounding sculpture I've ever seen.

Finally the astonishing d'Orsay Museum. Everywhere you go you are overwhelmed by the art. Starry Night just blew me away, so much more beautiful then pictures show.

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2617 posts

My first trip provided two vivid moments, the first, standing in front of Rembrandts "Night Watch", having studied the painting in several classes, to see it in person and realize I was really in Europe was moving. The other, sitting on the breakwater in Vernazza, bottle of wine, watching the sun set. My wife and I sorely realized that waiting twenty years to travel was too long and promised to travel at least every two years, and we are still keeping that promise.

Posted by Vanessa
Halifax, N.S.
40 posts

Walking out of the Metro, and seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkling with it's light show. Paris was my first leg of the trip and I had been sick for the past two days while there, and had thought about giving up to go back to the hotel, but seeing that was worth it.

At the end of the trip, seeing the Coliseum lit at night, it was so surreal to see something that large, with so much history

Getting our group shot taken at the michelangelo plaza, I was on a high school trip, and we arrived at sunset, and have a wonderful group photo with the background of Florence, the way the pink sku hits the red roofs, it's amazing, it actually looks fake

Posted by Elizabeth
Denison, Texas, USA
51 posts

Paris: We arrived by night train and took a taxi to our hotel in the Rue Cler. Our driver took us along the many lighted bridges and monuments, which were beautiful. However, the moment I saw the Eiffel Tower ablaze in the night sky, I fell in love with the city. Later when we ascended into the lacework of that magnificent structure to its very top, I was amazed yet again: first, that I was actually there at the top of the world to survey the city; second, that Paris was much, much, much larger than I had imagined; and third, that other people weren't spending much time on top. (It was cold and windy, but the view was worth it. These are probable the same people who leave concerts and sporting events early to avoid the parking lot crowds.)

Posted by Cat
29 posts

My husband and I recently returned from our trip to Great Britain. I have traveled quite a bit to meet family obligations and for work, but this was a real vacation and my very first time in Europe. Over the years I have feasted on countless hours of Masterpiece Theater and BBC, read history texts galore (my major) and flipped through glossy coffee table books. After all my planning (thanks to those who answered my posts on TH!), I worried that it would be too familiar, too mundane. I could not have been more wrong. This is a surprise that cannot be ruined. The expense, airport delays, turbulence, and lines at customs were all worth it. If I had to pick one thing - the war memorials, in every village and throughout the citites. Maybe if we reminded ourselves of what we have lost in the past, we would not be so quick to sacrifice our sons and daughters today. I look forward to returning and am already planning our next trip. Austria, perhaps...

Posted by Mike
Seattle, WA, USA
492 posts

There have been so many....<>.

One of the most inspirational was in 2003 in Italy. Arriving at our apartment in Montepulciano, climbing up the stairs to the top floor, stepping out onto the small roof deck, and gazing over the hills in the late afternoon. I told my wife to go ahead and shoot me now, because life will be all downhill from here (thankfully she didn't, and it hasn't!). It was like I had stepped into a painting.

Posted by TOM
43 posts

A few weeks ago I was in Prague. I saw a small simple sculture of several hands in the "V" for victory sign. Underneath was "17/11/1989" The date of their velvet revolution. There were a few lit candles and a bouquet of flowers. It gave me a lump in my throat to see how much the revolution still means to the people of the Czech Republic.

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
3015 posts

The first time we took our daughter to Austria. She was in 6th grade and was just starting to study the violin. We walked around Salzburg after supper(this was in late July and just before festival). Off in the distance we heard music. We made our way towards it. In the main square outside the Dom, the Chekosloviakian National Orchestra was playing a free outdoor concert. We sat and listened to great music together. The next day when we visited the Dom, Michelle touched the tomb of Schubert and said- I hope to be a good enough violinest someday and play the music we heard last night. The guide asked if she knew "the legend". She didn't. The guide said if a musician touched the tomb and made a wish without knowing about the legend, it would come true. She didn't become a great musician- but she still loves Austria and good music.

Posted by Jason
Nederland, CO
108 posts

Summer of '87. Brindisi, Italy.

I was 19, tired, dead-broke, backpack on my back, sunburned, drunk, homesick after 3 incredible months of sights and experiences. Crying my eyes out on the balcony of my hotel room waiting to catch a ferry to the relative safety of my relatives in Greece. Pretty humbling.

And know what? I'd give anything to be there again...

Posted by Elizabeth
Denison, Texas, USA
51 posts

Chamonix: It was a cold and blustery day when we took the tram up to the Aguille du Midi. The warning of low visibility was accurate, but we braved the wind, cold and snow on the observation decks nonetheless. Then suddenly, the sky cleared and even tho the snow was all a-flurry, we could see the valley (Chamonix) far below. Magical!

The Crouton Savayard at Le Serac was delicious. The memory of it makes my mouth water.

Posted by Helen
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
705 posts

First ride on the vaporetto down the Grand Canal. Attending early morning mass in Notre Dame (this was by mistake and I couldn't understand a word, but a unique experience.)
Seeing Michaelangelo's David. The detail and power was amazing.
First view of the Vatican from the air flying over Rome. Extraordinary view of the whole city.
Maybe not a Europe moment, but the same for New York from the air on my first trip.

Posted by Furnacefighter
Philadelphia, PA, USA
101 posts

A thousand beautiful memories but one that shined brighter than all. Late September afternoon, Versailles Gardens, on the water in a rowboat with my wife of thirty two years. The picture is on my computer desktop and the placemats we used for lunch that day are laminated on our kitchen table. In my mind I don't think the French Royal Family had a more romantic, loving moment.

Posted by Kate
Carslbad, CA, USA
103 posts

My most inspirational moments are still coming in through all you wonderful travelers who are kind enough to share YOURS!! Thank you so much..

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8700 posts

While walking along rue de Vaugirard just outside the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, my wife and I and our adult daughter came across a group of lighted display boards mounted on the fence that encircles the garden. The current display was a series of huge photographs taken by Photographers Without Borders. Heart-wrenching scenes of suffering, and scenes of celebrations of life from all around the world. We watched as many people stopped in their tracks, then shed a few tears before moving on. We were among them.

The three of us went to the Musee Marmottan to view the collection of Monet water lily paintings there. We didn't all start our viewing in the same room. When I went to find my daughter to tell her about a particularly wonderful painting awaiting her in the next room, she emphatically told me to be quiet and not to disturb her. She was totally absorbed in the painting in front of her.

Posted by lisa
haddon heights, nj, usa
80 posts

I have 2, a life long dream of mine has always been to visit Greece and the Acropolis. During the drive from the airport to our hotel in Athens we came around a curve in the highway and there it was - the Parthenon - it brought tears to my eyes and a rush of adrenalin, my travelling companions teased me and thought this was funny, but I shut them up with this statement "this has been alife long dream, how many of you can say you achieved your dreams'!

The second was my first trip to France, we rented a car and spent 4 days cruising the countryside with no idea of where we really were. At dusk one day we were stopped at the side of the road picnicking and we heard bells, multiple tiny little bells, when we lookd around we discovered a huge herd of goats, probably 100 heading up to the hills. Each had a bell around it's neck and this was one of the most beautiful sounds and sites I have every heard or seen. It made me happy to be alive.

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8700 posts

My wife and I attended an Evensong service at Westminster Abbey in 2002. She and I and our daughter attended a regular Sunday morning service at St. Paul's Cathedral in 2005. Both services were wonderful.

Posted by Pat
Berryville, USA
11 posts

Here goes:
Cotswolds in England
Westminster Abbey
Eiffel Tower
Normandy France
Rottenburg Germany
Zermatt (Matterhorn)Switzerland
Salzburg Austria
Garmisch Germany
Southwest Coast of Wales
Eiger - Switzerland

Posted by Michael
Honolulu, HI, United States
7 posts

Paris--November '63. Drinking wine with 3 friends in our hotel room. A fellow American burst through the door with the news that Kennedy had been shot.

I left Paris the next day, hitchhiking North with my small U.S. flag on my backpack. Not long to wait for rides. Every driver wanted to talk to me about how much Europe loved the man.

Many name changes throughout the continent to reflect the respect they had for him.

One person asked "Why did you kill your president"? Very strange question to ask of me but I understood the sentiment.

Being in Europe during the aftermath of the assassination, I didn't have the same experience most of you had here in the U.S. I did have perspectives from people I couldn't have had if I had been at home.

Posted by Jean
1 posts

There are so many wonderful places with meaningful history but these are mine for now: 1)visiting a small German village(Ladbergen) where my ancestors originated 2)Seeing original Handal's Messiah and a Guttenberg Bible at the British Library 3) The Forumn and Colossium in Rome, 4)Giverney, Monet's garden 5)A concert in Vienna where "The Blue Danube was played 6) Visiting Mauthausen, 7) Michaelangelo"s Pieta in St. Peters Leaving this week for Provence. Will add to my list I am sure.

Posted by Lisa
Beautiful Austin TX
582 posts

Wow Charles! I had the VERY SAME experience when I was in Rome. This is why travel is so important in a persons life. I'm growing so much as a person thanks to traveling Europe. I'm going to Berlin this Thursday!
More adventures!

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7805 posts

Here are a few awe-inspiring moments:

Looking back at the night skyline of Salzburg from one of the bridges.

Seeing the Trevi fountain in Rome at night.

Seeing the "Treasures" in the British Library London.

I think each person finds their own moments.

Posted by donald
charlottesville, va
7 posts

Finding a small French village that I had read about 20 year before. From an old travel book that I found at Powells.

Posted by Sylvia
Newcastle, wa, United States
8 posts

Most recently:
1. Walking up the steps from the metro (underground)at the Duomo stop in Milan and THERE IT WAS!! This huge gothic cathedral right in front of me...surreal after just getting to it on the very modern metro.
2.Exiting the train station in Venice and seeing the Grand Canal as soon as you get outside.
3.Viewing Leonardo's Last Supper...amazing.
4.35 years ago being up on the cliffs of Santorini and taking in the unbelievable view

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10381 posts

I had to think about this one for almost a month, and I left it at a tie:

1)Climbing up to the ruined mountaintop fortress of Novo Brdo, Kosovo on a cold day, looking out from atop the crumbling walls... and seeing not a single reminder of the modern world.

2)Dancing in the nearly deserted Market Square of Brugges on a cold April night with my (Flemish) fiancee, after a few too many beers and fries.

Posted by Josi
Long Beach, CA, USA
4 posts

My most inspirational moment is actually many moments that all roll into the experience of sitting down with a person from another culture to have a conversation about our lives, cultures, governments, and experiences: how they are different and how they are similar. It may sound a little pompous, but to be able to say in a conversation with other Americans, "You know, on my last trip to Europe, I got to talk to the owner of an Italian restaurant, or Czech regional planner, or Belgian school teacher, etc. and their point of view on this subject was . . ." I have learned so much from talking to these people and I will continue to seek out these experiences.

Posted by Adam
Fresno, CA, United States
28 posts

The summer of 2006, I took my first trip to Europe and witnessed the most beautiful things of my life. The best was one night in Bruges Belgium, after all the day-trippers went home, my travel companion and I went for a stroll at around 2am. While walking next to one of the canals, we saw a group of swans, sleeping on the glassy water, while a single swan kept watch over the others. That was amazing. I felt like my friend, the swans, and myself were the only creatures in the world. It was the most peaceful and strangely calm moment of my life. I still get chills thinking about it.

Posted by Laura
Modesto, CA, USA
19 posts

Walking through the mist covered mountains of Glencoe, ancestral home of my family. It still gives me chills to think about it. I'll be back there someday.

Posted by Shannon
Chicago, Illinois, USA
131 posts

Experiencing Mycenae, Greece in mid December with not another person in sight. My husband and I were alone there the whole morning. Exceptional!

Posted by Jeff
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
206 posts

Everytime I go to Siena, I climb to the roof of the Duomo museum and sit up there for awhile overlooking the city and the countryside. What a spectacular view the roof affords! It is truly a special experience. As a bonus, I often meet people from around the world up there; we take each other's pictures and chat about how beautiful and serene it is.

Posted by Sally
In the Mountains, USA
689 posts

I would have to say my most inspirational moment was seeing my Father in Law's village of Fallo for the first time in 1994. Seeing the room where he was born, the kitchen his mother made the family meals, the family olive orchard and vineyard, and in the cellar the olive press - with the big stone wheel and the track where the donkey walked around and around and around and around...

Hearing the girls accapela choir sing in the ancient church during the Mass for Festa and the bells ringing during the parade of St. Vincenza (their patron saint.

Posted by Sean
Providence, RI, United States
11 posts

I would say when my friend and I were taking a late afternoon walk in the swiss Alps above the town of Gimmelwald and fell asleep under the late afternoon sun in the middle of a cow pasture, with no one else around (besides the cows). It was so peaceful as well as beautiful when we awoke from the nap to look out onto the soaring peaks.

Posted by Nicole
194 posts

I have a couple ...

-Visiting Dachau: I'm not sure how you can't be moved when visiting a concentration camp.

-Walking along sand dunes on the coast of Lithuania. I was 18, and while it wasn't my first time to Europe, it was probably the most eye-opening experience I had had - flying to such a faraway place on my own, meeting a friend for the first time in person, and seeing an eastern European country. And the location I was in was breathtakingly beautiful.

-At 15, I traveled to England with my school orchestra. We had the opportunity to play a concert inside Salisbury cathedral. Having that experience and playing such beautiful music in such a beautiful place that is so old (at 15 no less!), was magical.

Posted by H J
LaGrange, Ga, USA
1103 posts

October 5, 2007 Nice, France, Seated in the Mayor's review stand, top row, next to the sea, watching and hearing the Nice International Military Tattoo - 12 bands, approximately 600 musicians, performing for us, and for the others standing along the Promade de Anglis, the bands one by one playing for us, then marching up the Promade and returning to assemble as one band, and playing a concert "just for us" - and the thousands of others standing at street level. The sounds were from heaven. The chill bumps on my arms were real. When asked what was the highlight of my trip I immediately tell of this experience and once again hear the music being played.

Posted by Jill
Boulder, USA
659 posts

Walking around St. Peter's at 7:30 in the morning hearing mass (including hymns) going on in several different languages and being totally in awe of the enormity and the sense of spirituality.

Sitting on a bench in front of a field of flowers on a hillside high above Gimmlewald and being overcome by the incredible beauty.

Sitting in an ancient window opening at the Ehrenberg ruins looking out on an amazing view and contemplating what it was like 500 years before when they were actually trying to defend the castle.

Standing in front of "David" and being totally in awe!

Posted by Kris
8 posts

Berlin- The couple of weeks prior to the wall coming down. It was very emotional.

Posted by Janis
Grapevine, TX, USA
873 posts

My mother & I were on a canal tour in Amsterdam. A man in white, tie-died suit was walking on the bridge over the canal and our eyes met. I smiled at him, and he smiled and performed a very deep formal bow to me. It was a beautiful gesture on a very beautiful day.
Also, the attic in the Anne Frank house. In the 80s before the modernization and expansion, it was easier to imagine the actual reality.

Posted by Vanessa
Laval, QC, Canada
82 posts

On my first European trip with school to France and Germany back when I was 15:
1) Walking and getting lost at night in the streets of Strasbourg; going around the corner to see the cathedral right in front of us. Took my breath away.
2) Walking through the Struthof Concentration Camp, thinking that was going to be a boring afternoon. I took a look at all the crosses in the cemetery and it brought tears to my eyes. I realized the tragedy of all the history behind it. It totally changed the young teenager I was.

Posted by Siranna
Portland, OR, USA
26 posts

Romantic Venice. Being in the water taxi and viewing that city with my own eyes. That was quite the feeling.

Posted by Ayla
Woodinville, WA
86 posts

In Dublin Ireland (my first trip outside the United States):

-Exiting the airport and realizing that all the busses in this English speaking country are marked in Gaelic
-Walking into the Long Room library at Trinity University.
-Coming unexpectedly on an anti U.S. military in Shannon protest.

Swimming in the Mediterranean in Nice

Walking through small shaded allys in Avignon

Being awakened on my Birthday by a the most adorable Frenchman (cutest little six year old) who was so excited to give me the little bottle of perfume he and his mother had made a special trip to the drug store for and the hand drawn card he was shaking.

Posted by Chris
157 posts

I have a few moments that stand out - and they couldn't be different!

During one of my first skiing trips to Europe, I was jet-lagged and tired, but landed in a small family-run inn in the Austrian Alps. We had a fabulous meal, then out came the instruments, the beer flowed and it was truly a magical connection - great fun, great music and a roaring good time.

Last year I listened to an organ recital in Notre Dame on Christmas Day. As others have mentioned, I am not particularly religious, but the majesty and beauty of that place, combined with some great music is overwhelming.

One of my wife's most moving moments came as quite a surprise to me. I like art, but she is not crazy about it. We were in the Louvre one afternoon and she went around the corner. When I saw her, she was weeping with tears rolling down her face, totally mesmerized in front of St John the Baptist. To this day, she does not know why it moved her so much, but she will never forget the moment!

Posted by James
Beavercreek, Ohio, USA
4 posts

It was our first trip to Europe. My wife and son and daughter had our first German meal together at St. Goar. Sitting outside, it was great to experience our first trip as a family.

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2483 posts

First trip 36 years ago. Everything was an eye opener at 20 but those "moments" that have remained; Anne Frank's house, seeing The Night Watch (before it was behind ropes and glass), and discovering Geneva was on a lake. Who knew?
On a recent trip to Rome: Touching a carved stone with Roman numerals laying on the ground near the Arch of Titus. On a Christmas trip to London: Coming out of midnight mass in St. Peter's to a light snow falling and the church bells peeling. On a trip to Ireland; Seeing Eire for the first time through the clouds. The lush green. The stunning beauty. The Long Room at Trinity College. On a trip to London with a friend. Coming out of the Westminister Tube station along the Thames, walking up the stairs and asking him look up at Big Ben which was just striking 4pm. Seeing him stare, smile and say, "Wow."

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7805 posts

In Limerick, I wandered into an IRA pub. I struck up a conversation with a man who turned out to be an IRA Brigade Commander. We talked about the (then) recent accords. He seemed positive about the possibility for peace in Northern Ireland. He and his men had turned in the firing pins from their weapons.

I had had dinner with Senator George Mitchell (along with about 40 other people) not long before that where he described the peace accord and his optimistic view for peace in Ireland. At the time I thought he was overly optimistic because the accord was his baby.

It was inspirational to think the accord might really put an end to the troubles.

Posted by Juan
Dallas, Texas, USA
70 posts

Seeing Bernini's David at the Borghese gallery.

Posted by Carole
Daytona Beach, FL
220 posts

It's a toss up:
The first time I saw Michelangelo's Moses at the church of San Pietro in Vincoli (Rome) OR the first time I ate dark chocolate/orange gelato at Vivoli in Florence.

Posted by Brad
Duluth, MN, USA
2 posts

Music in the cathedrals.

While on a 3 week trip in Spain and Italy celebrating 30 years with my wife.

The first was in Barcelona where we stumbled into a wedding. As we were turning around to walk out, the choir started singing. The magnificent sound filling that huge space stopped us in our tracks.

A week later at the Pantheon in Rome when a group of Americans(?) broke into song in the middle of the room.

Again while in Rome at the Chiesa San Ignazio where we were fortunate enough to hear a Swiss choir perform.

The sound in these magnificent domes just struck a chord inside me that I feel whenever I think of it.

Posted by Beatrix
2094 posts

There are many great moments, here are just a couple:

1) Watching Barishnikov at the end of his career in "Swan Lake" in the Paris Opera House. As a student I could only afford the cheapest tickets waaaaay up in the nose-bleed seats. And I realized I couldn't have had a better seat to admire Chagal's ceiling painting!

2) Summer 1990 on my husband's first trip to Germany and my second trip to Berlin we paid 5 DM to an enterprising Pole to rent a hammer and took out a few pieces of the Berlin Wall. Haven't been back to Berlin since and hope to make it this year for New Year's Eve celebrations.

Posted by claregirl02
westminster, md, usa
196 posts

After waiting SO long to visit Ireland my dream came true in 1994, for the first of what have been MANY trips. I traveled to Ireland w/3 of my 5 brothers and 5 of my cousins (my cousins who were born in USA and were raised in Ireland, but who had come back to USA in 1985 to live). It was exciting and I was looking forward to the 'backdoor' of Ireland w/my cousins who were raised there.. meeting my Irish relations for the first time face-to-face, meeting my counsin's friends (ie: now my friends) and expienrence Ireland.

I had a window seat and as we our decent into Shannon my one cousin(God Bless her) sat next to me to watch my reaction to seeing Ireland for the first time...I am tearing up now as I write this... anyway once I saw the green of the island I started to tear up and tried to hold back the tears of joy. I know this will sound very strange... but when I came out of the aerport in Shannon it was the first time in my life that I felt... I AM HOME.

Posted by claregirl02
westminster, md, usa
196 posts


The next memory that stands out is when as a group we traveled to Clare to Feakle to family cemetary then on to Flagmount to the former family farm at Reinahumana.... Visiting the old farmstead. The house were my mam was raised is over 200+ yrs old. Touching the side of the house thinking of all of my relations who came before me, walking around the front guarden and touching the rose bushes that my grand-ma Hogan planted that are still there and thinking of my traveling grand-ma.. and finally the view of Lough Graney from the front garden and thinking of my grand-da, Pop-Pop Hogan and thinking of him and what he had to do during the National Emergency(WWII) and having to go to the tops of the hills to look out for German flyers. Thinking of them all and thanking them quietly for all they went thru for all of us who came behind them.

Posted by larry
saxapahaw, nc, usa
8 posts

Thanks to those that shared their moments in Venice. Venice was my first trip abroad on a RS Tour and I remember it fondly and want to go back. Gela, you stated that you would return this past Decemeber to continue your adventure. How was Venice in the winter time?

Posted by Pat
Wodonga, Australia
440 posts
  1. A tiny, nothing there fishing village in Sicily. At that point I realised that I had fallen madly in love with the island
  2. A Michelangelo painting at the Uffizi. I keep returning to both of them.
  3. Riding a scooter on Lipari.
Posted by Steve&Jerri
Trenton, IL, United States
1 posts

When visiting in Senlis, France we happened to be there for a community festival that had the theme "Our American Friends" for that year. The festivities included a historical presentation on how the French helped the Americans during the Revolutionary War. At the end of that they also talked about how the US came to the aid of France during WWII. They also have a flag in the City Hall that was dropped by Charles Lindbergh on his way to Paris. Very inspirational!

Posted by Janet
Seattle, USA
120 posts

From years ago: 1) rounding a corner in Florence and suddenly seeing - BAM - smack dab in front of me, the Duomo. 2) Sunset in Siena.

Posted by Rhynda
Southwest Harbor, Maine, USA
6 posts

My first trip to Italy was in 2003. I have always loved ancient Roman history and the first time I saw the Pantheon, I was just overwhelmed. All the history that has unfolded while this building has stood is incredible. I have been back to see it several times since and my reaction is still the same! On the same trip we also went to Pompeii. As we were strolling around I couldn't believe my eyes when we happened upon the tile artwork "cave canem"-the beware of dog sign in the entryway of a villager's home. I really can't get enough of Italy!

Posted by robert
Takoma Parl, md
1 posts

The first morning when I awoke in Orvetio and it was just beginning to get light. I went for a walk alone and there was no one on the streets. I just explored and peeked into as many private spaces as possible without being too intrusive. The absolute quiet of this small town was completely surprising. As the towns folk appeared they were quite pleasant and often responded when I spoke to them.

Posted by Jackie
Herriman, UT, United States
3 posts

I hate to contradict but VanGough's "Starry Night" is not at the d'Orsay, but is in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City

Posted by Jackie
Herriman, UT, United States
3 posts

I have been many places, but we went to Italy over Christmas for 2 weeks and anywhere we went in Italy was
an aaahh moment from Pompeii to Venice. I have never wanted to go back to a place so badly as I want to go back to Italy. The musems, the churches, the ancient sights, amazing.

Posted by linda
dayton, oh, usa
8 posts

My most inspirational moment was while I was in Greece. We were looking at some ruins with awe when our guide stated, "Those aren't old, they're Roman. Now these are Greek ruins, they are old!"

Posted by jack
Sheboygan, Wisc., USA
929 posts

We were in the Swiss/Italy border town of Glurn high in the mountains.On sunday morning a parade formed and the town had a parade for first communion.It started on the edge of town and all the townspeople joined in dressed in their sunday best.They stopped at a small church and the children went in for a few moments and then the parade continued to the larger church where the first communion was held.We were told this happens once a year.

Posted by Lauren
Seattle, WA
297 posts

Having a "pinch me" moment at the British Library, looking at original, handwritten scores by Mozart, Bach, & Chopin, as well as the many other manuscripts.

Visiting the Point du Hoc memorial above Omaha Beach, and having it take a moment to realize I was looking at a bomb crater the first time I saw one.

Also listening to the first-hand accounts of those who lived through the Blitz at the Cabinet War Rooms.

Walking the wall in Rothenburg at dusk.

Watching the sunset on the Mediterranean from our hotel in Villefranche sur Mer.

Hard to stop.

Posted by Chere
Kelso, WA, USA
221 posts

I have had many unforgettable moments, but the one that stands out the most; my family Christmas in Rothenburg. The taxi brought us from the train station, through the arch in the wall, and it was snowing. I felt we had traveled back in time, and turned around to look at my husband and kids. Wow. We stayed at Cafe Hotel Uhl and that part of the wall and gate are in many paintings and photos of Rothenburg. We did the Christmas markets, drank Gluhwein and went to Christmas eve mass in the Salzburg Cathedral. Stille Nacht, in German with guitar and three tenors and then the choir in the loft singing the chorus. magic, magic, magic.

Posted by Geoff
Powell River, Canada
359 posts

So many inspirational moments over so many years of travel in Europe. Most inspirational to me; there are 2, both seen for the first time within a week of each other in '98. My uncle George's grave in Gosselies, Belgium (my Dad's kid brother); and my uncle Bill's grave in Bretteville-sur-Laize, France (my Mom's brother). Uncle George was 19 years old, flying with the RAF, & is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves (CWGC)section of the municipal cemetery in Gosselies. Uncle Bill was 30 years old, a Signaller, buried in a Canadian CWGC cemetary where he rests with 3,000 of his comrades who survived D-Day and Juno Beach but not the battles for Caen/Falaise. Those two hallowed places will forever be a magnet for me every time I visit Europe.
Next 2; driving into downtown Sarajevo for the 1st time & seeing the destruction from the recent 'conflict' which left scars that last to this very day. Finally, the Anne Frank Museum.

Posted by Rose Marie
New York, NY
1 posts

The approach to Venice via the lagoon, aboard the
Seabourn Spirit, early on a Sunday morning, with
the church bells ringing...

Posted by Roger
Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, United sTates
18 posts

We traveled to Mathusen, Dachau,Auschwitz an d Oradur a Sur. When we witnessed the concentration camps and the burned out village , it makes all the history of World War II so real. This makes us all realize that the value of traveling to Europe is to realize that history is preservee there so we never forget.

The other sight I rememeber is going to the Skellig Islands in Ireland and realizing the courage and grit of the monks who lived on that small rock.

Posted by Mme Eli
1170 posts

I have many moments, but one that will always be precious to me is seeing Pope Benedict close up, and sharing the moment not only with my husband and kids but a new stranger that would become a friend. We were sitting next to a woman who was holding two rosaries. Finally I could contain myself no more, and asked where she was from. I had heard her say a few words in English but didn't get the accent. I thought she was from Italy. She did not come with anyone. I asked where she was from and she told me in a beautiful accent that she was from Montreal. Anyway, as the Pope arrived, she burst into happy tears and grabbed my arm. In no time at all we were hugging and crying, and sharing a most marvellous moment. My husband and kids were there too and she soon became part of my family. We received a card yesterday from the Vatican from this new friend. It dawned on me that for the rest of our lives, we will always remember each other, and seeing Pope Benedict at St. Peter's.

Posted by Natalie
Thunder bay, On, Canada
48 posts

my most amazing moment in europe was when i sat alone in the town centre of Siena and an old italian man sat down next to me while the il palio parade was going on. we didnt understand each others language but we communicated perfectly. he told me about what was happening in his town that day, and taking the time to listen to people, it doesnt matter what their language, your able to connect. it was amazing!

Posted by Tom
191 posts

When I was about to put on a headset for an audio guide at the Residenz in Munich I discovered to my shock and horror that I had lost a hearing aid... I was really upset. We, wife and I searched through my jacket, hoping that it was lodged in the hood, but it wasn't there... knowing it would be hopeless we decided we had to retrace our steps and search... The audio guide attendant overheard this and followed us insisting that she should accompany us that three pairs of eyes were better than two. Her kindness really impressed us. Then later in the day, having accepted the reality of the loss, but still upset, we stumbled upon a quintet playing Mozart on the street.
Looking back on the events of that day, I gladly accept the hearing aid loss as the price paid for the ladies kindness and the wonderful street music.

The Organ postlude in Notre Dame, Paris at the conclusion of a Gregorian service on Pentecost. Stunning and unforgettable. When the organist stops playing the air still is filled with vibration for several seconds. No hearing aid needed!!

Two Parisian girls walking up and asking ME for directions, and I could help!

Memories for a lifetime.

Posted by Vanessa
Halifax, N.S.
211 posts

Going out for a farwell dinner in Rouen for one of my friends from my exchange program. The server asked where we were from, and the group of seven of us that I had become so close to in the past six months replied: Austria, France, Canada, The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Australia, and I found that to be quite amazing.

Also sitting in on a park bench in the garden behind Notre Dame, reading Julia Childs-My Life In France (that I had bought at Shakespere and Co.)and recoginizing many of the places she visited, streets, cafes etc.

Posted by Sharon
514 posts

Just returned from trip that included tours of the battlefields and cemeteries of Normandy, as well as Rouen, where my father worked in the hospital in WWII, and Belgium. We followed the route that my husband's father would have traveled with the 11th Armored Division through Belgium...seeing memorials, large and small, and plaques and monuments and American flags flying in so many places, in towns, in hamlets, along winding forest roads...a memorial garden of Tyler, Texas roses near Malmedy...foxholes near Foy...sand and stones of Omaha Beach...over a week of travel through these areas, with different guides and tours, many lumps in throat, many tears. Inspired and moved just as I have always thought that I would be...tremendous trip...will never forget the stories we heard, the tiny old churches that witnessed such horror, the battlefields and hedgerows, the beaches, hearing TAPS in the American Cemetery while looking out across all that white marble toward the sea, the thick and quiet Ardennes where my husband's father and oh, so many others spent that awful December of 1944...wow...just incredible memories.

Posted by Shannon
Chicago, Illinois, USA
131 posts

Just back from three weeks in Italy & Greece. The most memorable day of this trip was hiking the five villages in Cinque Terre. It really is worthy of all the hype. Simply spectacular!


Posted by Jacquie
St. Pete, FL
75 posts

My Dad died about two weeks before our November 2006 trip to Dublin. Luckily, I was able to spend almost a week with him just before he died. He made me PROMISE to go on the trip no matter what happened.

We buried my Dad and left two days later for our trip. One morning, while I was outside on the front walk of our hotel, for some reason I turned to face the street that ran alongside the hotel (usually I was looking out at the main street which ran in front of the hotel). I hadn't been looking that way for more than 10 seconds or so, when a large truck rolled past ... and on the side in letters about 2 feet high, it said "Davis" .... That was my Dad's last name.

I feel it was his blessing on our trip. It really inspired me to travel, no matter what your circumstances might be.

My husband was surprised to find me in tears at the front of the hotel, but when I explained what had just happened, he was in tears too ...


Posted by Charlene
Lewis, WV, US
178 posts

My most inspirational moments are MANY but if I have to narrow them down they are:

Phillipsburg, France - My husband, daughter, and myself as we stood in front of the memorial and read the inscription thanking my father's 275th Infantry Trail Blazers for liberating them during WWII. My daughter never met him and, sadly enough, he never had the joy of knowing she would exist.

Hitler's Eagle's Nest - Walking sixty years after my father did and before I was born. His group had held the site after the paratroopers took it. I imagined him as a young man, not much older than my own precious son, attempting to protect our own country but also those that Hitler was trying to overtake.

Edinburgh Castle - Feeling the vibrations in my chest as the musicans from all over the world came out in unison at the Military Tattoo with the most glorious music I have ever had the thrill of hearing.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3072 posts

If you look under "Happiness & Hedonism" on the Graffiti Wall page, there is a topic "Magic Moments." Same topic as this thread.

Posted by Gio
Chicago, Illinois, USA
586 posts

WOW. What a great question, Kent. For me, there are three primary reasons that keep me going back, usually more than once a year:

  1. I love history and art, and in Europe, there's an intimacy one can get with these things that can only be found in the states, for me, in a few places, i.e. Gettysburg, PA, D.C., and some others. For example, there's not much left of the Patawattomi Indian culture in Chicago, but in Europe, you can enjoy a bottle of wine leaning against an ancient Egyptian obelisk, dine in a medieval cellar, and experience a Baroque masterpiece in situ, right there in the church for which it was designed, all in the span of about two hours!

  2. It brings my wife and I together, away from work and the daily grind, in a way that renews our relationship and reminds us what really matters in our lives.

  3. European travel connects both of us to our family ancestry and history...we see and hear things that remind us of our grandparents all the time!

Posted by john
painesville, ohio, usa
13 posts

Although I have not been to Europe yet, I know why I want to go. I want to see Rome, I want see Delphi, I want to see where my dad landed on Omaha in France and I want to see where my Ancestors came from in England & Germany. My dad said that France was beautiful and fell in love with England (and a young nurse) where he went after he was injured. I want to see the things that influenced so many people and continue to this day. I want my daughter to see history and learn that we are all one planet and a world community.

Posted by john
painesville, ohio, usa
13 posts

And I also plan on going back either every other year or every year...

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
8870 posts

Why do you go, or keeping going back, to Europe, despite a sagging economy and high costs of travel? Is it the inspirational moment, new insight, appreciating the differences between here and there, the extra couple of thousand years of history, those moments that put a lump in your throat, or brought a tear to your eye? If you weren't on the Helpline a year ago, you probably haven't seen these thoughtful answers, from you our Helpline community, to the question: Why do we go to Europe?

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
8870 posts

A similar question has been asked here today. The last time this question was asked was in 2007; it was posted to over a hundred times, and the thread was featured in one of Rick's e-mail newsletters.

Here it is again.

Posted by Alex
Longmont, CO, USA
259 posts

Because it is amazing ~ the history, the people, the culture, everything! I love the way of life there ~ they really enjoy it where we Americans tend to rush through everything.

Posted by Debi
Sherman Oaks, CA, USA
258 posts

Where do I begin? Europe has changed my life in so many ways from the people to the food to the beautiful landscapes and especially the architecture.
A couple of things really stand out in my mind, the Anne Frank house. I climbed those tiny stairs with my feet perpendicular to the the steps imaging how those hiding there walked up those same steps. Then noticing the pin-ups of American movie stars posted on the walls.
The other place that remains in my mind in the square
high above Florence, where you can see the whole city. I was amazed at the view.
I could go on and on. Evry time you go to a city you notice things you missed the times before. I think it is why I visit places over and over again.

Happy Travels!

Posted by Tom
Brea, CA, USA
36 posts

At our firt trip to Paris we noticed Cindy Crawford and Richard Gere entering a Hotel ( back in 1993). We followed them into the hotel and they went into a grand ballroom that was hosting a fashion show. We were not allowed into the ballroom so we stayed just outside the door and a man asked us if we cared to see the fashion show ( is the Pope catholic?). He happened to be the show's organizer and sat us down along the model's run way. It was fantastic! We'll never forget that show with all the glamourous models, celebrities and that man's kind heart.

Posted by Dave
Webster Groves, Missouri, USA
65 posts

There are the unforgettable views: the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Sagres, the Lauterbrunnen Valley from the Murren/Gimmelwald trail, the ski run and the valley below the Zugspitze and the twinkling lights on the Eiffel Tower during the Rugby World Cup.
But it's more about the friendliness of people: workers at the water bottling plant in Monchique giving us free bottles of water when we wandered into their plant when everyone was at lunch; strangers in Garmisch and Mittenwald who gave us their paid parking tickets to use for our parking fees; sharing stories with other travelers from around the world at B&Bs; and creating a lasting friendship with Noelle who was leading a group of Marseille school children at the American Cemetery in Normandy and included us in the group to sing our National Anthem and the La Marseillaise with them before the children placed roses on the graves of the fallen heroes.
This is why we go.

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
8870 posts

It looks like the inspirational moments in Europe people have shared are being read again, and added to.