My friends over at Adventuring Pandas recently asked me where they should go in 2017. The answer is wherever they can get themselves to, but even after I’d narrowed it down from there, I realized the answer required more than just a Facebook reply—and besides, many of my readers are probably also planning their 2017 adventures.
What follows is the first half of a collection of places I’ve visited in Europe that would make a decent long weekend, with at least one reason why I loved it! The second half of the list will follow in a few days.
For me, it was learning about the Loch Ness Monster. In the middle of a childhood defined by fiction books, I distinctly remember sitting at a table in the back of my third-grade classroom, looking at the famous surgeon’s photo in a book, and realizing this was a place that really existed (even if maybe the monster did not).
Twelve years later on a cold and rainy February afternoon, I stood on the banks of Loch Ness itself, looking for the monster and drinking some tea. Life rewards us that way sometimes.
If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Twitter, you might know I recently spent some time in Philadelphia. My first day there, while waiting for my cousin (of October 27th fame) and her fiancé to get home from work, I stopped by The Continental for coffee.
But in Philly, nothing stands on its own. There’s always history. And on the Continental building was a Historic Sites in Journalism plaque explaining that, way back in the late 18th century, this was John Dunlap’s printing shop.
What, you don’t know John Dunlap? He’s only the printer who first stamped out distributable copies of the Declaration of Independence.
As a big fan of thrift stores and ApartmentTherapy.com, I love seeing how people make something beautiful out of what was once far from it. To understand where I’m coming from, please bear with a bit of a world history lesson, then a personal history reflection, before I get into the Death Strip.
I didn’t name my blog “in transit” just because I like to travel. It’s really (primarily!) because my life is always transitioning. Take the past month, for example, while I’ve transitioned into full-time job search and part-time transcription work. But this morning I looked up from re(re)(re)customizing my résumé and realized I never wrote about Berlin Underground!
While I was visiting my friends in Berlin (now with a blog of their own at Adventuring Pandas), we had dinner with Rob, once of the This Week in Germany podcast. When he found out I was undecided about my plans the next day, he recommended the Berlin-Underground Tour (which he’d featured on Episode 105, around the 10 minute mark), and Rob, I’m here to say thank you. I only wish I’d had time to take ALL of the tours they offer that day instead of just one!
Along with a tour of the capitol building, I also wanted to visit St. Patrick’s, the State Museum, and the State Library. Unfortunately, I have now learned never to trust anything the internet claims about opening hours in the capital of the Commonwealth, because when I went to the library on Saturday morning, I couldn’t get in. But St. Patrick’s was beautiful, and the museum was well worth the price of admission (which was $6 with my AAA discount).
The lady at the desk told me to start at the top of the museum where the animals and dinosaurs are because they’re everyone’s favorites, and I smiled politely but thought, “That sounds kind of boring.” Instead, I turned absolutely 6 years old when I walked into the room, which was quiet, empty, and alive. I was sure everything I saw was going to follow me around and attack the moment I turned my back.
Augh! The dinosaur is going to get me! It’s aliiiiive!
I’m sure some people learn about their genealogy and find they’re descendants of famous people. My mom has not had that experience. The closest we come to famous ancestors is Conrad Weiser, the brother of an ancestor and an interpreter between the colonists and Native Americans of 18th-century Pennsylvania.