I’m back from a trip that encompassed northern Germany, Berlin, and Prague. As expected, I came across many wonderful things: places steeped in history, beautiful architecture, and plenty of well-made beer alongside hearty meat dishes. What I wasn’t expecting were sudden connections to people who inspired me to travel.
Of course, there was the run-in with Rick Steves as he was filming one of his travel shows in Prague. I’ve used his travel guides for years now and have appreciated his mission to make travel to Europe accessible for American tourists to navigate on their own and connect with the culture and history of a place.
It was really neat to see Rick in action. But before I ever watched one of his travel shows, there was another person who inspired me with tales of travel and wanderlust. My grandma.
My grandmother made her morning coffee with a lot of zucker, just one of those little hints of her 12 previous years living in Germany. She would play home videos of her travels throughout Europe for me, giving far more detail to her adventures than Rick Steves ever could. (Not only were her videos narrated by herself on film, but sitting with her she managed to dub over herself and “double narrate” the action, which was so her style.) Seeing the windmills of the Netherlands and the cuckoo clocks from medieval Germany made Europe come to life before my eyes, and I longed to experience all these things.
I never got to travel with her to Europe, but last week my uncle took me to see the two houses where my grandparents lived for the twelve years before I was born. Suddenly and unexpectedly, I felt a connection to the independent woman I lovingly called “my adventure grandma.” She was always up to go somewhere and took me often into New York City on day trips as I was growing up. She taught me to get out and see the world, and nothing held her back or slowed her down. With something as simple as passing by her old home in Germany, I wished that I could tell her about my own adventures in Paris, following in her footsteps and forging my own path to discover Europe.
Thanks, Grandma, for infecting me with the travel bug at a young age!