Aug 012012
 

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

Prague, Czech Republic

Old Town Square Christmas Market, Prague

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

First Avenue, New York City

First Avenue, New York City

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

Anguilla

Anguilla, British West Indies

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 bato

  59 Responses to “Three Favorite Travel Memories”

  1. Oh Anguilla sounds magical. Private beach… kind of reminds me of my stay in Fiji! And I’m glad you’re so in love with Christmas markets – so am I. I can recommend Nürnberg’s market, it’s wonderful.
    Christina (Jandal Road) recently posted..A taste of luxury at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver

  2. I would die to be on that beach in Anguilla right now!
    Michael Figueiredo recently posted..Perspectives: El Circuito Mágico del Agua – Lima, Peru

  3. I’ll gladly take the baton from you. Thanks! I’m loving your Prague memory. I am visiting Prague for the first time in November. I wish I’d get to see this Christmas market. It looks awesome.
    Leah Travels recently posted..Texas Tuesday: A Devil of a River

  4. Mmmm, Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte) … on my present year-long RTW, one of the “anchors” is to be back in Germany in time for the Christmas markets. I don’t think it’ll be difficult convincing friends in D-land to spend some time in the markets :) Thanks for the memories, Cathy! Goooo Blues!
    fotoeins | Henry recently posted..Hong Kong, the food score in June

    • I was very pleasantly surprised that the Christmas markets had such an impact on me.

      • Exactly! When I lived in Germany, I was also surprised by how much I liked going out for a couple of hours at least once a week. Just as one might expect to meet up somewhere at a beer garden in the summertime after work, it was easy enough to meet at one of the many markets for a Glühwein. I’m glad you got to see the market in Prague – the market in grand Old Town Square is magical, as you described, but I didn’t mind the market in Wenceslas Square as well.
        fotoeins | Henry recently posted..The HL chow fun (wok-fried rice noodle) special

  5. Great memories Cathy, and beautiful photos!
    Nancie recently posted..Travel Photo Thursday — August 2nd, 2012 — An Iconic Prague Attraction

  6. I’ve always wanted to go to those markets, I love beaches and was overjoyed when I finally saw New York. Your memories brought back good memories here as well. Beautiful photos and what a nice exercise to join in!!
    Jackie Smith recently posted..TPThursday: ‘Un Petit Cadeau’ in Provence

  7. It’s an interesting question! I wonder what we’d all choose! Having just returned from 10 days in New York, I am desperate to return for a longer time so I was very envious to read of your 3 month stay there. I wish Anguilla was closer -the beach looks fabulous- but it’s just too, too far away for Aussies! I might have more chance getting to the Xmas markets. Great memories!
    jenny@atasteoftravel recently posted..Inside Kensington Palace

    • Ah, ten days in NYC — wonderful. It’s been almost a year and a half since I was last there. Craving another trip!

  8. I do like Christmas markets, but thinking of winter when we’re having such a chilly, rainy summer up here… Maybe I should go to Anguilla this winter, instead – looks and sounds absolutely fabulous.
    Sophie recently posted..The Renaissance Man from Vinci

  9. Great memories that indicate a broad taste for travel;)
    Italian Notes recently posted..Bolzano and the magic mirrors

  10. I love all the Christmas Markets – each one has similar elements, but its own unique flavor. I visited 17 last year alone and have already started my list for this year. Anguilla looks amazing!
    Laurel recently posted..Meeting 4 Legged Locals in Nitmiluk National Park, Northern Territory

  11. Three great choices, and I love the variety. I would have a terrible time picking three, also. It’s like picking a favorite child.
    Vera Marie Badertscher recently posted..Travel Photo Thursday: Animals

  12. I enjoyed reading about your favourite travel memories, Cathy – it must have been very difficult to narrow it down to just 3! I have been yearning to visit the European Christmas markets for so long but I’m afraid it’s not going to happen as long as I have kids in school. :)
    Lisa @ Gone With The Family recently posted..Love Locks On A Parisian Bridge

  13. Your selection of photos was amazing! I especially loved your picture and memories of spending 3 months living in NYC. I can imagine how wonderful this would be. Your story of trudging through snow to see a white Central Park made me smile and reminded me of something I would do too!
    Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista recently posted..Capturing the Colors of Europe

    • I know I should be happy that I experienced that 3 month stay once in my life, but I really hope I can do it again …and again….

  14. Great memories! You know I’m a fellow Weihnachtsmarkt-lover, so seeing it as one of your top memories made me happy. And Anguilla? Sounds amazing!
    Sabrina recently posted..My Favorite Botanical Garden: The Atlanta Botanical Garden

  15. I love the diversity of your choices. It would be tough to choose between city and beach life.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Torn between two worlds

  16. What a fun topic for a post and relay! All of these sound amazing. I LOVE Prague and Europe at the holidays but I think the stay in New York would top my list if I had to choose one of these. That villa and beach sound amazing, too, though!
    Jenna recently posted..The History of Coffee in Santos, Brazil

  17. What a fun post! I would LOVE to see anywhere in Europe at Christmastime – I bet it is magical!! I used to travel to NYC for work, so I often felt like a local in midtown…. :)
    Becca@R We There Yet Mom? recently posted..Friday Daydreamin': Cooler Temperatures

    • I’m really trying to figure out how to get to Europe this Christmas, too. Well, where there’s a will, there’s a way!

  18. I loved reading your travel memories, Cathy! What great experiences you’ve had and Anguilla just oozes tropical and beautiful. My favorite would have to be the Christmas markets in Prague and Germany only because I would love to visit them one of these days. I’ll even brave the cold for that one and already plan to bring an extra suitcase home.
    Mary @ The World Is A Book recently posted..Roskilde Cathedral: Art & Architecture in Denmark’s Royal Burial Site

    • I don’t know if you saw Laurel’s comment above — she went to 17 Christmas Markets last year. I want to match that!

  19. This was a thoughtfully written post and very interesting!!! I loved the details you’ve provided and the inspiration too. I’m ready to book a trip just to see the Christmas markets after reading your posts. And Anguilla in the winter sounds like the perfect antidote for grey, cold days.
    Leigh recently posted..Kayaking Murtle Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC

  20. How to choose only three places as your favorites??? What a tough feat! Nearly every place that we’ve visited becomes my favorite. But like you, there are a few places that stand out in my mind as incredibly memorable.

    I have to admit that I was a wee bit jealous when I read that you stayed in NYC for three months. I loved the Big Apple. I’d heard so much negativity that I was leary before visiting last year but when I got there I thought it was wonderful. I loved the sights, the sounds and the people. I thought they were great and not at all unfriendly like I’d been led to believe.
    Tonya @ The Traveling Praters recently posted..Take Your Blog to the Next Level with Eli Rose Social Media

    • Some of the nicest people I’ve come across in my travels were New Yorkers. Seem like the NYC stay grabbed the attention for several folks. I was a very lucky girl.

  21. Anguilla sounds really cool! It’s one of the few Caribbean islands we haven’t been to yet, and it still seems rather off-the-beaten-path for most Americans. Would love to visit Antigua & Barbuda as well.
    Bret @ Green Global Travel recently posted..How To Be Happier: 5 Secrets To Improvising Your Life

  22. These are great. I, too, have often wondered what it would be like to live in NYC, but only for a while. I suspect, in my case, the initial rush would fade and I’d start craving wide open spaces again :-)
    Erik recently posted..Forty Pics for My 40th Birthday

  23. I’d never heard of Anguilla before! But I’m all for tropical solitude, so I know where our next vacation is going to take place. ;)
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Why We Stopped Traveling (When We Could Have Continued Indefinitely)

  24. Anguilla and Christmas in Europe both sound amazing. We may be spending our Christmas on an island this year and I can’t wait! Good luck in the contest!
    Christy recently posted..Stretch the Summer Giveaway: Win 30,000 Starpoints!

  25. Go Team Blue! I’m loving this post, Cathy. I’ve always wanted to go to the Christmas markets in Germany – I even had tickets to Hamburg booked last December, but sadly I wasn’t able to go. It’s never too early to think about Christmas and get the festive fuzzies, though.

    Now, Anguilla’s not a place I’ve ever read about before nor somewhere that pops into my mind when I think of the Caribbean. That beach looks divine – I could get used to having fresh fish grilled there for me, that’s for sure!
    Waegook Tom recently posted..Hot Springs & Romance

  26. I would definitely love to visit a Christmas market in Europe (though deciding which country’s to visit may be a hard choice).
    Annie – FootTracker recently posted..FootTracker Fall Travel Plans

  27. This reminded me of one of my favorite travel memories – my first time in the old city of Jerusalem. I loved the markets and covered streets and will always remember hearing a radio blaring “Jingle Bells” in arabic.
    Jenny recently posted..Dead, but not Gone – “Las Momias” of Guanajuato

  28. An amazing three! I think I told you that my mom did the European Christmas markets last year after wanting to do it for decades. And I lived in NYC for five years. It has my heart. For your third choice — I’ve never been. But it looks like my kind of place!
    Abby recently posted..Daydream of the day: palm trees

  29. Over the years I’ve thought about staying in a city long enough, so it’s like I was a local. Somewhere where I’d visit the local attractions, but also go to the local laundromat, become a regular at coffee houses and local grocers, becoming friends with locals. You picked a great city for that and some great memories. San Francisco also came to mind.
    Aaron recently posted..Photo of the Week: San Francisco’s Ferry Building.

  30. Hands down, I would include a visit to the Christmas markets as my number one choice, however, I just need to get to one. I love reading about these vibrant markets in the months leading up to Christmas and dream that I will make it there someday! You’ve ignited my wanderlust once again…and I am grateful!
    Jeff Titelius recently posted..Visit to the Portuguese Synagogue and the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  31. Wow, I love your travel memories, Cathy. The excitement of NYC, the anticipation of the Christmas market and the tranquility of Anguilla. Nice variety, for sure.
    insideJourneys recently posted..Capturing the Colors of Jamaica

  32. Europe is certainly magical. Even though I haven;t been to the Christmas market in Prague I know how lovely it could be. Yay to Team Blue and hope we win!
    Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com recently posted..My Top 3 Travel Memories

  33. Those all sound like lovely travel memories! I really like the sounds of those Christmas markets in Europe – they just seem like a magical way to experience that holiday spirit – and so much nice than strolling around a shopping mall!
    Reena @ Wanderplex recently posted..How to unpack following a vacation: a light-hearted guide for the neurotic traveler

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