How do you choose just three favorite travel memories? I was tagged by Laurel of Monkeys and Montains to do just that as a member of Team BLUE in a blogger relay contest created by Lowcostholidays.com. Thanks to Christina Hegele of Jandal Road for including me on Team BLUE!
There isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not reminiscing about places I’ve been and people I’ve met along the way. My favorites might change over time, but there are a few experiences that consistently spring to mind when challenged to identify my top travel memories.
1) Magical Europe
It may be August, but I’m still thinking about the European Christmas Markets I enjoyed last December in Germany and the Czech Republic. From reading various travel blogs and magazines, my expectations were high. However, they were exceeded. In Berlin, Hamburg, Lübeck and Prague, I strolled through the aisles mingling with the locals, eating bratwurst sandwiches, admiring handmade crafts and clothing on display, and sipping glühwein (German for “glow wine”, a tasty hot mulled wine).
When we first arrived in Berlin, our taxi driver from the airport enthusiastically recommended his favorite Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkte), adding to my excitement. I felt like a kid at Christmas as I later walked to the first of those at Charlottenburg Palace, hearing music and seeing the white peaked tops of the market stalls as I got nearer. The multi-colored light show on the palace’s exterior was unexpected and dazzling. Irresistible were the chocolates, pastries and glühwein to take the chill off. At the Gendarmenmarkt Weihnachtsmarkt, Mr. TWS and I shared beers and laughs with a couple from Cologne as an infectious holiday spirit was all around us.
In Hamburg, I came across markets several times a day — outside the hotel, near the railway station, and the ones I enjoyed most at the Rathaus and along the Binnenalster. I can almost smell bratwursts cooking right now.
Prague’s Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic architecture provided the perfect backdrop for the market at Old Town Square. Trdelnik, dough wrapped around a stick and grilled over charcoals and dusted with sugar, was my treat of choice as we listened to carolers singing traditional Czech Christmas songs and watched holiday plays on a small stage in the square. The only thing missing was snow.
How nice it would be to celebrate part of the holidays in Europe every year!
2) New York City: Like a Local
I love New York! I’d always thought that it would be wonderful to actually live in Manhattan and several years ago I got a taste of what it would be like. A three month stay in a 19th floor apartment on E. 47th Street in Midtown seemed like a dream come true. Even after numerous short trips to New York City before that, I felt the thrill of someone visiting for the first time, yet I was experiencing the city like a local. Many of the people in our building worked at the nearby United Nations headquarters and foreign embassies, providing an international atmosphere to our time there.
I took on everyday activities with enthusiasm as I shopped for groceries in nearby markets, walked up Park Avenue to get to the health club, or met new friends for dinner. Advance planning wasn’t required to take in a Broadway show, visit galleries and museums, or explore new neighborhoods. When a huge storm dropped a record 27 inches of snow on the city one Sunday, Mr. TWS and I trudged on foot through the snow-packed streets to Central Park to enjoy the beauty. On St. Patrick’s Day, we watched the parade on 5th Avenue where I shouted a greeting to Hillary Clinton walking with other VIPs and got a wave in return. Afterwards we shared pints of Guinness with local residents in the pubs on Second Avenue. Shopping, entertainment, events and countless other activities were just a walk or subway ride away. Three months might seem like a good long time, but they were over in a New York minute.
3) Luxurious Seclusion in Anguilla
Of all the tropical places I’ve visited, a trip to the British West Indies island of Anguilla really stands out. This was many years ago, before it got on the radar of more and more Caribbean enthusiasts. The island felt like a different world from the big resort we came from on St Maarten where jumbo jets flew low over the beach approaching the nearby runway. Our beach house at Covecastles Resort was a luxurious, secluded property designed by New York architect, Myron Goldfinger, and had even been featured in Architectural Digest. Everything was top quality in our two-story beach house, located right on a gorgeous, private beach. There was an excellent restaurant on site where dinner was prepared, but served to us course by course in our own dining room. We also explored the island in our our jeep driving down miles of quiet, narrow roads bordered by foliage and flowers, bought provisions in the small town, and dined on fresh fish grilled in the open air at a small beach hut restaurant at the other end of the island. After a game of tennis on the clay courts, we relaxed in the hammock on our private patio just steps along the white sand from the water. It was a level of upscale experience that I’ve not had since.
There are still many new places in the world that I want to explore, but I’d also love the chance to relive any or all of my top three favorite travel memories.
GO TEAM BLUE!
Now it’s time to pass the baton to Leah of Leah Travels to share her stories as part of Team BLUE. Here’s the baton, Leah! I’m looking forward to hearing about your favorite travel memories.
Follow the #BloggerRelay and #TeamBLUE hashtags on Twitter to keep up with the memories of Team BLUE’s passionate travelers. There are also prizes to be won! Each member of the team with the longest chain will win a Filofax Travel Journal and all entries will be considered to win the top Travel Goody Pack Prize (including an iPad2, Digital SLR Camera and one pair of walking boots).