Thursday, April 21, 2011

Walking Through Time

Less than two months before my next small group tour to Germany in June. This is about the time I tell the group to start walking. Do a little bit every day so that you don’t get tired out while visiting Germany. Also, if you plan on buying new walking shoes get them and break them in. Why all the warnings? Germany and Europe in general, is best appreciated by walking. Europe is not a drive by. So many American tourists come over and get on a big tour bus and drive by the magnificent palaces and castles and get dumped off in a touristy city for a few hours and come home and think they have seen Europe. Yes, in a way they saw things but did they experience it? Did they wander down windy, cobble-stoned streets and get off the beaten path? Did you venture out alone with your few phrases of the language and try eating in a local’s only café? Did you experience living like the locals and riding their public transportation? To me this is the experience I am going for. Scary, sometimes but it sure produces a lasting memory and makes me hungry for more.

When I started this business I wanted to find my home base towns and check them out personally, so with extremely limited knowledge of German and a map I got on a train and headed out. What an adventure but I made it and people were nice and responded to my “Sprechen Sie English?” and I found some delightful towns we use as home bases today. These are towns that you might not hear loads of people speaking English or see a thousand of other tourists getting “off the bus”. Yes, I know you want to see the famous sites and I try to include these in our tours especially for first timers but I also encourage you to experience the small villages we take you too. Walk the streets and wander around, sit at an outside café and enjoy an “Eis” (ice cream), walk through the local church and cemetery, visit the winery up the hill. Some of my favorite things I found just by wandering small town streets. I sometimes play a game with our tour members by giving them pictures of things I have found in our home base town and for those that find all of the things by snapping a picture of it and showing me they get a prize. This way I know they have experienced the town. At least I hope they enjoy the experience of wandering the town. Here are a few examples:

Of course, our tours include the thrill of visiting your ancestral hometown and there is no more important place to wander than here. This is where generations of your family walked the same streets, saw the same landscape, and touched the church door probably. This is certainly not a drive by, you must get out and walk the streets and experience the surroundings, I’m sure you will feel the ancestors walking with you.

Ready? Get your walking shoes on and let’s go!