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Most Memorable 2019 travel experience

For us it was celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary in Central Europe and Amsterdam. This was also a prilgrimage to learn more Jewish history and the connection to WW2. It exceeded our expectations. What was your most memorable 2019 experience?

I would like to thank those who gave us the inspiration and knowledge. Heartfelt thanks to my cousins, friends, and RS Forum contributors Sir James E, Christa (CA), Uncle Gus, acraven, Jane (Tn), Ruth (Ithica), CWsocial, Chani, David (AL), and Joanne (sunsetsandrollercoasters.com) We are eternally grateful.

Another shout-out to our incredibly knowledgeable guides: Timea Tarjani (Budapest), Karolina Kortusova (Cesky Krumlov), Pavel Batel (Terezin tour), Yvonne Weistrab (Prague Jewish Walking Tour), Jason (Livingpraguetours), and Naomi Koopmans (Amsterdam) Jewish Amsterdam Tour. These experiences exceeded our expectations.

Looking forward to a new decade and our plans to revisit Sicily independently next fall. This time we will be following Zoe's path in her memory with the help of Priscilla and jamaudinuu's guidance. Grazie Mille!

May 2020 bring new experiences that will exceed your expectations!

Posted by
377 posts

For me it was a fairly singular and brief event. Standing at Independence Monument in Kyiv viewing the 2014 photos of burnt buildings, military tents and vehicles on the square, some bodies along the roadways, and reading the first person descriptions on the panels of the Maidan events from Feb that year. And then looking just past the panels at how it looks now. Businesses are thriving, people rushing to work or shopping, young people hanging out, babushkas pulling their wire carts, fountain flowing, and Kyivans living otherwise normal lives. Fascinating as it was a mere 6 years ago.

Posted by
1180 posts

I have a more modest success to mention -- after touring the Doris Duke estate named after Shangri La through the Honolulu Museum of Art, I was interested in seeing it from the water side, and everyone at the museum and in tourist-serving Waikiki insisted that it was not accessible from that side because rocks and surf make it impassable.
Challenge accepted!
I walked to one of the tiny beaches with no signage and made my way along the water's edge, and was lucky enough to catch sight of a couple local kids who were headed exactly where I had my eye on -- when you see posted warnings against diving and swimming, it usually means that's where the youth like to dive and swim. A few scrapes and slips and rocky outcroppings later and I was back at the estate with its great collection of Islamic art.

Posted by
770 posts

Krampuslauf in Hallstatt on December 5. Lucky to be there on that day.

Posted by
1452 posts

What a great way to celebrate your 50th anniversary, Janis!

My "top sight" was Terezin, with Pavel Batel as the guide - with many thanks, as well, to forum members who recommended him. A fellow tour member, studying journalism, said that her journalism professor (in China!) described him as the greatest storyteller tour guide.

My "most memorable" travel experience was more personal …. discovering, while I was traveling in Dresden, that a cousin who I had not seen for 24 years was now living in Frankfurt, and making spur of the moment arrangements to see her on the last days of that trip.

Posted by
596 posts

What a lovely celebration, Janis!

My best experience was getting to bring my mom to the UK and Ireland, fulfilling a lifelong dream of hers. Some of our favorite parts were seeing the puffins on Lunga, spending the night in Ashford Castle and doing falconry there, and driving through the countryside of England. She loved it!

Another once-in-a-lifetime experience this year was riding in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia at sunrise. Magical!

Thank you for the happy trip down memory lane! Here's to hoping for more travel moments that inspire wonder and astonishment for all the forum members in 2020!

Posted by
515 posts

Visiting 6 countries with my mom since February of this year! All but two were repeats for me, but it was fun to show Mom some of my favorites!! 😊

Posted by
1955 posts

@CWsocial,
Have to say Pavel Batel's Terezin Tour was a once in a lifetime experience. In fact he is the best tour guide we've ever had, period! Definately agree that he is the best storyteller guide. When we took his tour, people who were with other tour groups broke away from their group and we're listening to Pavel! His passion and knowledge was incomparable. He has written several books. I asked if he had an audiobook in the works. He said he plans to offer it in the near future.

Posted by
7639 posts

My memorable experience was not typical for most travelers/tourists. During the year I went back and forth multiple times between my home in California and my elderly uncle's home in Kansas. He has Alzheimer's and was living there all alone. In June I finally got him settled in to an assisted living facility near my house. His children live in Germany, where they moved with their German mother when they were very young children. My uncle hadn't been there for decades because he was very afraid to fly. One benefit to the Alzheimer's is that he forgot that fear. I took him to Germany in October, where we spent a perfect week with his family at a rented house in Unkel. It is a lovely small town on the Rhine and not too far from Cologne. My cousins live in Cologne and it wasn't too difficult for one of my cousins to travel with her 23-month-old twins. I made a photo album for him after the trip and he mentions it a lot. The trip meant so much to all of us.

Posted by
105 posts

We did not get to Europe this year, hopefully next year. But we did get to Glenwood Springs, Colorado. We hiked up Hanging Lake trail, which almost killed me given I am so out of shape. But I/we survived and it was lovely at the top. There are a couple options for hot springs, and we went for Iron Mountain Hot Springs. Highly recommended. Many different pool options. We had dinner at the Pullman Restaurant, and had a very delicious liver pate. So a good local vacation.

Posted by
7639 posts

Janis, thank you for your kind words.

Posted by
421 posts

Don’t know if I am the Jane(TN) but if I am I am thrilled to have helped you in any way!😘 I think my most memorable travel experience in 2019 was from our Eastern Europe trip last May......standing on that balcony of our hotel in Hallstatt, Austria and looking out over that lake was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. That is when you are so thankful you paid a little extra to book the room with a balcony-lake view for the forever memory! I will also add that my Mom and Dad taught me to live the golden rule....and as we have traveled I have tried to be kind to shop-owners I meet and it has served me well.......I am always charmed with the precious people that reach out to me in their stores after I compliment them on their linens, antiques, etc....whatever! I now have friends in the Marais in Paris who look forward to me returning and shopping there.....and they seem to always give me some gift from their shop out of their kindness.....such fun to look forward to!

Posted by
1955 posts

Andrea,
You are very welcome! When I set out to write this thread my purpose was to encourage not only memorable experiences, but unique to everyone. I don't think it matters if we traveled to Europe, or elsewhere. What matters is you have this venue to express what 2019 brought for you! Thank you!

Posted by
1955 posts

Jane (Tn)--
Yes, you are the Jane that gave us great tips for our stay in Budapest! Everything you mentioned was spot on! It was our favorite city on our journey. What a special place. The history, the culture, the kind people, the food... Thank you!

Posted by
7681 posts

My #1 was also a US event - was in the right place at the right time to see Steamboat Geyser erupt in Yellowstone in June. I go to Yellowstone at least once every year, had been following the reactivation of Steamboat in March 2018 so had hoped to see it. I pulled over at an overlook and saw the column of water and hurried to the basin as quickly as I could. I got there before it swapped out to the steam phase. I parked about a half a mile away on the road but still had geyser overspray hit my car. I think of Steamboat every time I drive into the sun because the overspray leaves crud that will not come off, lol!! One of the geyser gazer sights I follow estimates Steamboat’s irregular eruptions will be seen by perhaps 1,000 people. I’m thrilled to be in that number.

My #1 European experience was Keukenhof. I’m not a gardener but this was so beautiful. I was stunned at the variety of blooms. Just exquisite.

Fun thread! Thanks Janis.

Posted by
5313 posts

My most memorable travel experience of 2019 was sitting glued to a TV set in Sarlat watching the breaking news of the Notre Dame fire -- we had been there only days prior.

Posted by
1489 posts

Mine was that the 13th time we traveled in Italy we finally put the Dolomites on our itinerary. Wow! I was overwhelmed by the beauty - and I lived for 35 years near Colorado's San Juan Mountains (the "class" mountains of Colorado, as an old friend called them). The Val Gardena area (we stayed in Ortisei) is a very special place.

Posted by
1452 posts

When we took his tour, people who were with other tour groups broke away from their group and we're listening to Pavel!

Janis, I'm not surprised to hear this! We had some individual travelers stopping to listen, as well. And it's easy to understand why. He's mesmerizing when he talks about Terezin! The class that our Chinese student/tour participant was taking was on storytelling in journalism and she signed up for Pavel's tour to hear him first hand!

Posted by
1957 posts

Most memorable 2019 experience = Attending the "Prayers for Peace" service at Nikolaikirche in Leipzig on Oct 9, the 30th anniversary of the Prayers for Peace service that preceded a massive, peaceful Monday Demonstration in the city, which was surreptitiously recorded, later broadcast to all of East Germany by West Berlin television stations, and led to further Monday Demonstrations across the communist state.

Most memorable 2019 misadventure = Inadvertently walking solo down what I later learned was one of Berlin's most notorious streets for prostitution.

Posted by
194 posts

@Andrea -- what a lovely story, and kind/generous thing for you to do for your uncle!
- Shelly

Posted by
13962 posts

Renewing friendships and making new ones with RS forum members. . . . Spending another day with Enric in Barcelona, this time with his beautiful companion Boira including by sheer chance seeing castellers performing. Sharing a bottle of green wine and getting to know Kathryn in Cascais. Spending time with Priscilla and meeting her daughter in Portugal, and meeting Helene over dinner with them in Porto. Lastly meeting Valerie and her husband in Tel Aviv just before their tour began.

Looking forward to the new year, I hope to meet one or two of you in London in February and I'll be back in Chicago this spring, maybe the Bay Area as well. And anyone who comes here as well.

Wishing everyone on the forum Happy Trails in 2020.

Posted by
674 posts

I spent most of April in Valdez, AK. Most tourists who visit are fishermen, but April is too early for that, so about half the already small town is still closed down. Snow, rain, and then a fantastically clear day or two is the norm, and when it's clear the scenery is breathtaking. There's all sorts of wildlife, from Moose to Otters, but what really had me going was the numbers of birds; both the sheer numbers and the variety.

In April the salmon have not started running, and the winter was fairly warm, so critters were out of hibernation before the feast arrived. Eagles start to gather around the salmon runs, and they'll eat anything that gets stranded by the tides. But they're not picky, and they also eat other birds. When an eagle is in the air all the other birds are too. They get up ASAP and make huge formations flying every which way, trying to stay away from the eagles. Sometimes it seems like the eagles just take wings to see the panic, and they'll drop off their perch and make a long gliding loop just to wind up where they started. And every eagle has his own favorite perch, you can see them coming back day to day.

I'll never forget watching one of the regular bald eagles dive through a flock of gulls that numbered in the thousands and carry away his victim to sit and eat on a rock.

Posted by
1095 posts

Checked off two bucket list items in May; visited Carcassonne and also Lascaux Caves in France.

Tip about Carcassonne; everything you've heard about it being touristy and crowded is true. If you can, stay overnight and you'll have the place to yourselves after 8pm and before 8am. I took some spectacular photos of the sunrise along the walls.

Lascaux may only be a reproduction of the original cave, but once you're inside you won't know the difference. You can sign up for an English tour.

Posted by
1082 posts

Mine was, as a Canadian, my first trip to our province of Newfoundland on the other side of the country.
I went with two fun girlfriends, and we rented a car and drove up and down the (huge) island for two weeks.
We stayed in small places in small towns, ate marvelous seafood, heard amazing music, saw amazing natural wonders and wildlife; but most of all fell in love with the kind and generous people who are fiercely proud of their Rock out in the Atlantic.
It made us proud to be Canadians, and learn about the history of where our land began.

Posted by
182 posts

Most memorable for me in 2019 was on our Eastern France tour in Chamonix, where we had a perfect, gorgeous August day traveling up to the Aiguille du Midi on Mt Blanc and then the tramway gondola car with just my husband and myself over to Helbronner Italy. In glorious sunshine and quiet we glided over the snow and glaciers, saw the Matterhorn in the distance, spied the tiny figures of climbers and hikers below and marveled at the beauty of the French Alps. An unforgettable day.

Posted by
524 posts

My two 2019 best memories: 1) discovering Dad and I enjoy river cruises, making new cruise friends. Highlight of the trip: the baths in Budapest simply because it was so much fun and how wonderful to be with so many nationalities, ages all of whom are reduced to children. 2) enjoying my young adult son's company on a short trip to Philly to see 76ers play Warriors. his idea so I could see Durant, Curry and Thompson play together.
Great thread, Janis

Posted by
170 posts

My husband and I took our 17 yo granddaughter to Rome in April. We were able to celebrate Mass in St Peter's square on Palm Sunday. My husband and I were set to "skip it" when the seminarian told us to be at the gates about 6:30am and the mass started at 10:30am however our granddaughter insisted we go and I'm so glad we did as it was a beautiful experience for me. I was raised a Catholic but have been non practicing for many years. The high mass and the tradition and pomp and circumstance made me think of my father who was devout and I hope was smiling down on us.

Posted by
69 posts

Janis- what a fun post! I love reading other's travel experiences!
Our trip for 2019 was our "Ultimate Road Trip" My husband, Russ, me (Lisa) and our dogs, Sage and Tug.
We rented a 19 ft Airstream trailer and traveled from Ohio to the Adirondacks,NY, Quebec City, Prince Edward Island, Canada, Nova Scotia, Canada, Acadia National forest in Maine, then back home to Ohio. If anyone wants any Camping/AV advice please reach out to me privately. I'd be happy to help! My take away is how wonderful all of the people we met along the way. So kind, so welcoming. Such beautiful landscapes in Canada and Maine. It was so much fun, our gypsy living. It suited us very much and we had the best times!
5300 miles later we accomplished our Road trip.

2020plans- We are taking a '17 Days best of Italy" Rick Steves tour- first one! with another couple. So excited!
Happy travels to you!
Lisa

Posted by
11 posts

Checking off a 30 year Bucket List item...I went to Prague in February. Still hard to believe I have actually walked Charles Bridge and Wenceslas Square.

Posted by
1072 posts

Filming a commercial for my favorite restaurant in Liverpool. Not exactly your typical tourist experience!

Posted by
1955 posts

I continue to enjoy all the unique 2019 memorable journey’s! Looking forward to more. Thanks!

Posted by
396 posts

Going by boat from Mull to the uninhabited St Brendan's Isle, for a day among the old stones, flowers and birds,
and the spirits of all the saints and pilgrims who have lived or visited there in the past.

Posted by
1095 posts

It made us proud to be Canadians, and learn about the history of where
our land began.

As a fellow Canadian, I'm nodding in agreement. We made our first trip to the Maritimes a couple of years ago-didn't make it to Newfoundland, but got to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and it was so fun going back to the beginnings of our country. We visited the Fortress of Louisbourg which was the beginning of the end for French rule in Canada when the English took it over in their march to Quebec City.

Sorry Janis, I know I'm cheating and talking about a memorable travel experience from 2017...but I did post my 2019 comment earlier if that helps.