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What are you interested in and study since you started traveling?

I am just wondering has a trip or trips caused you to study and learn more about something that you had little knowledge or interest? Was it one place that caused you to want to learn more or general travel?
I've been much more interested in European history and yes, even WWI and WWII now that I've traveled to Europe. I also want to know more of life in medieval Europe. I also have more interest in architecture and religion in Europe. And my extra research into European art allows me to speak with a bit more knowledge. I feel like I'm finally getting that liberal arts degree.. haha!

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7958 posts

I was so impressed by France in 2002 at the age of 36 (my 1st first trip out of the country) that ended up with a university degree BA in French language and literature by 2009. Also after a trip to Argentina in 2004 and Mexico in 2005 I ended up with 2 years of college credit in Spanish. Currently learning more about wine after my last trip to Bordeaux museum Cite du Vin in January 2018.

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7050 posts

Short answer: absolutely! I didn't know much about Turkey before my Dad went there on a few business trips (mostly Istanbul with a side trip to Bursa). After he spoke about it so favorably and I saw photos from a personal trip, I became really curious and enticed. I don't think there's another country I've been to that I got so engaged in, as far as reading and learning about and tracking historical and current events. Two (fictional) books I read initially were so incredibly evocative and I had such an incredible connection with, that I could honestly say that they were game-changers and really opened up my world to interests I've never had before. Now, I have a whole collection of books by Orhan Pamuk (major literary figure from Turkey; Nobel Prize recipient who writes extensively about his homeland), and I've read more about Atatürk and the history between the Greeks and Turks than I've ever thought I would read. My trips to Turkey were really magical and I hope to come back soon. I didn't think I would ever be as interested in archeological sites and history, and I still count Istanbul as one of my favorite cities of all time. I had a great time both on the RS Village Turkey trip and my own independent trip that I took beforehand.

I think doing research and reading before any trip (I don't mean solely travel books) can really make your experience a lot more rewarding, especially if you're really trying to understand a place and the culture/people. I think there are places that someone can literally "get lost in" (as in, super interested and engaged) before even setting out to the airport. The place/country/region is really individual to that person and their interests. I think you just need an initial spark of curiosity and being open to (and making time for) learning. That spark can quickly become a flame.

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14151 posts

Oh yes! I have always had an interest in WWII but moreso the more times I go to the Normandie area as well as seeing London in terms of what it must have been like in the Blitz or other areas in England which had large numbers of evacuated children.

The display of the poppies at the Tower of London in 2014 plus a photographic display on the WWI battlefields then/now stirred a WWI interest.

Visiting Wales, Brittany, Cornwall has made me dig further in to Celtic culture.

I agree, too, that the more I visit Cathedrals the more I have an interest in religion thru the ages (all those Temples to Mithras with churches built over them!) as well as architecture- just fascinating.

So...general travel plus hitting specific spots work for me.

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166 posts

Ever since we took the RS Greece tour we have loved learning about Greece from ancient times to modern. I always feel like I’ve attended a college seminar when we finish one of the tours. It amazes me how little Americans know and understand about other countries and their cultures.

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7379 posts

When we traveled on RS tours, we learned so much from the guides, and that was the spark to learn more about history - a topic I had previously thought was boring in school. Reading about it in a book vs. seeing the effects of it in person was also much more enlightening.

For all of our independent trips, besides the hours of logistics planning, part of the fun & preparation for me is researching & reading books, etc. about each of the locations where we will be traveling. It seems that each week, I'm excitedly telling my husband about some new nugget of information about some of my favorite topics - architecture, people's lives, current customs, music, etc.

My favorite topic has been authentic cooking, especially after taking a great cooking class in Rome and a fantastic croissant class in Paris. I would like to take more pastry classes now and our friends & relatives are willing taste testers!

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6352 posts

I guess for us it's mainly languages and art. I've always been interested in both, but we've amped up our study since we've been traveling for fun (not school or work.)

I'm amazed, and pleased, when I'm reading an art book, and realize how many of the works they're discussing we've seen!

And I'm a confessed language junkie. I love learning about different languages, how they work, how they differ. (Yes, I was a linguist in another life - decades ago!) We're great advocates of learning at least a bit of the language of any country we'll be visiting. It's fun, exercises your brain, and impresses the heck out of the natives.

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8582 posts

Languages, and contemporary politics. Much more interested in what's going on now.

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26 posts

Roman history. I read The Daughters of Palatine Hill (if I remember the title correctly) when I learned we were going to go to Rome. Then the tour guide we had at the Colosseum/Forum/Palatine Hill got me interested in Julius Caesar so I read up on him when we got back to our hotel. That inspired me to visit the Largo di Torre Argentina, which we had seen while passing by on a bus. We also saw the Roman burial grounds under St. Peter's on the Scavi tour. One thing led to another and now I am very interested in Roman history and mythology, now that I can kind of picture something of their lifestyle.

I have also developed an interest in the history of Christianity and how it evolved into what it is today.

I was always interested in WWII history in Europe, and I get more into it with every landmark and museum that I get to visit. I was surprised to find so much to see in Valletta, Malta. I have to go back there.

Tour guides have played a big part in what sparked interest in me, maybe as much as actually being in the places where events occurred.

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610 posts

WWII history has been a big one for me for our upcoming trip. I figured that since we are going to Amsterdam I should re-read the Diary of Anne Frank. That prompted me to read Beyond Auschwitz by Eva Schloss (thanks to recs from my Kindle App) and then The Hiding Place. Concurrently, I watched The Zookeeper's Wife. This helped me decide to take the Berlin, Prague and Vienna tour this fall instead of Portugal as I had planned, and to add a few nights in Poland so I can visit Auschwitz. We really enjoyed going through the Churchill War Rooms in London last year, and it was neat to see scenes from there in The Darkest Hour. So my interest in WWII keeps kind of snowballing, even though I had never previously been interested in any type of war/military history. I think just because when you travel to these places that are so affected by it, and you learn of all these stories of people who lived through it, it becomes so much more than just a war I learned about in history class. I look forward to discovering more as I travel.
Art is the other biggie. I have never been terribly interested in art, mostly because I didn't understand it. But through the Rick Steves' tours I've taken so far, I've been introduced to some really important art, and when it's been explained to me by intelligent and entertaining guides, it's like a light went on, and now I love learning about it!

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4420 posts

Actually, it's the opposite for me-I travel because I want to see things I've read about. I will say that travel has put faces on the World Wars and made me realize how comfortably some(but by no means all) of us American baby boomers have lived compared to the wartime suffering endured by people in most other nations during the 20th century. I continue to wrestle with the question of how people who seem so much like us could allow what happened in Germany and the answer so far really scares me-that any of us might do the same in hopes of securing the safety of ourselves and our loved ones. I don't think I would have come to this conclusion had I not been to Germany and seen how beautiful and peaceful the landscape looks near Munich. And the peaceful countryside near Ypres that stands in such stark contrast to its WWI history.

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11348 posts

Tamara, in Amsterdam visit The Dutch Resistance Museum, very interesting. Amazing what those brave souls did during WWII.

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2616 posts

I have Hungarian heritage and since my first trip to Budapest in 2014 I got interested in learning the language—and I follow several Hungarian news sites. I’ve been interested in the Jewish experience during WWII since reading Anne Frank’s diary when I was 10 so have explored sites in various countries, which also led to an interest in the communist regimes in the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary.

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118 posts

I first wanted to travel to Italy after my Renaissance and Reformation class in college. That class made me interested in traveling to the place where the Renaissance took place (Florence). Prior to my first trip there, I saw an "Italian for Travelers" class through a local community classwork/learning program and I took it with the intent of learning a few key words and phrases for my trip. I loved learning Italian so much that it prompted me to continue to study and practice Italian and I continue to practice it over 15 years later. I even spent a few weeks in Florence one summer at an Italian language "scuola" and that was an interesting travel experience. I was a student by day and a tourist by afternoon/night in Florence and this was a school for any age students, mostly adults. I was in my mid-20s at the time of this (2006?) and there were people at the school that were all ages and from many different countries (about half were from the US and many others were from other European countries).

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14151 posts

Ohhh, Tamara....we expect one of your excellent scrapbooks for this trip! (I second the Resistance Museum suggestion as well.)

Speaking of movies/books and how places link back....Did a Paris Walks thru Hemingway sights last Fall, mostly because I love Midnight in Paris with Owen Wilson (who in general I can't stand) and wanted to tour the area around St Etienne du Mont (where he sat on the steps and was picked up by the taxis). I'm ashamed to admit it but Hemingway's books never held my interest HOWEVER after that walk I picked up a Kindle edition of A Moveable Feast and enjoyed it immensely when I could mentally walk the streets and follow on Googlemaps.

So movie ->Paris Walk ->book of actual literature and not my usual Regency RO-mance/cozy mystery fare!

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23411 posts

Early Spanish history since Spain was so pivotal in the establishment of the nation state and the Moorish period prior to the consolidation of Spain.

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8992 posts

Oh Pam, you mentioned Mithras. We can be friends! He is quite the soldiers god. There are a few sites around Frankfurt where he seemed to have a few fans.

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796 posts

I too am much more interested in history and languages since I have visited Europe. I found some great podcasts of university level French history which I listened to in my b&b while doing my hand washing and journaling in my room. I need to listen again to jog the memory.

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14580 posts

Yes, traveling has whetted my appetite for learning more esoteric history in detail, especially more Prussian history, tracking down esoteric historical sites pertaining to the wars, especially on WW1.

Repeat visits to Paris and Vienna have increased my understanding and historical empathy, not just what is shown, how it is shown, and what is not shown, same as in the US.

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11433 posts

Especially after living in Italy for a few years, I like to read news from the European perspective. Gives me an alternative POV on the US.

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3285 posts

Especially after living in Italy for a few years, I like to read news from the European perspective. Gives me an alternative POV on the US.

I do this too although I did not live in Italy.
I also read books before the country I visit and watch movies etc. It makes the trip richer and more meaningful.

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418 posts

My father fought at the Battle of the Bulge and he always spoke "unkindly" about the French. I had always heard the jokes about how the French "surrender at the drop of a hat". My trips to England (Best of England in 2015) and France (Best of Paris and Eastern France in 2017) gave me a whole new perspective. I learned that 1/2 of the young men in France died in the first World War. There weren't enough men left to re-populate the country. France just didn't have the manpower to fight another war. England was in almost the same position. It made a lot more sense. We did a lot of research about World War I before our Eastern France tour (which included a stop in Verdun). We watched a "Time-Life" series that was 10 hours long that also helped us understand much more about that history.
I read the book "The Agony and the Ecstacy" when I was 14. That made me fall in love with Michaelangelo! I studied Art History in college. So, the first place I wanted to visit in Europe was Italy.

So, in answer to the original question... I do a lot of research before I head to Europe, but after I come home, I do more, but mostly I enjoy watching movies that are filmed at the locations I've visited and I say "I've been there" Then I can re-live my wonderful experiences all over again.