“The Greatest risk is not taking one!
They do not write the stories of those who played it safe. Yet that is what most of us do. It is inherent in our nature to avoid risk. From the earliest age there is something that tells us to sidestep danger. Perhaps because of that, there is also something in us that admires the risk taker, the adventurer, the person with the courage to step up to the edge of the precipice and believe that he can make it to the other side.”
The Economist (April 2000) – AIG Magazine Advertisement
When I first came across this passage above, I was so inspired that I carried it around in my pocket every day for nearly a year. I was struck by the lure of the open road and totally enchanted with what travelers magically refer to as “wanderlust”. This notion that “he who sows the wind, shall reap the whirlwind” lofted me toward my own yet to be discovered destiny. I hope to catalyze the same wonder in you as you explore Europe’s extraordinary cultures. It doesn’t matter whether this is your first trip or your hundredth, may having this website’s insights at your fingertips assist in uncovering Europe’s countless wonders and be of priceless value.
As the famed French novelist Colette once wrote, “I am going away…to an unknown country where I shall have no past and no name, and where I shall be born again with a new face and an untried heart.” So echo my sentiments now to you as you venture forth into unknown lands full of unknown peoples. Consider this your invitation, as you wear your trusty St. Christopher pendant around your neck to safeguard you upon your journey. And remember, it is ultimately you who make your own weather on your trip.
The classic Celtic blessing always brought me comfort and now I offer it to you:
“May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rain fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.”
A hearty Bon Voyage, Buon Viaggio, Buen Viaje, Boa Viagem, and Gute Reise to you, many happy returns!
My Favorite Travel Quotes
- “It is good to come to a country you know practically nothing about. Your thoughts grow still, useless. … In a country you know nothing about, there is no reference point. You struggle to associate colors, smells, dim memories. You live a little like a child, or an animal.” Andrzej Stasiuk
- “I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.” Melody Truong
- “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” Susan Sontag
- “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” Gustav Flaubert
- “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” Robert Louis Stevenson
- “Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.” Paulo Coelho
- “Surely, of all the wonders of the world, the horizon is the greatest.” Freya Stark
- “If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.” Anthony Bourdain
- “A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” John A. Shedd
- “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” Anaïs Nin
- “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Andre Gide
- “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it’s lethal.” Paulo Coelho
- The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” Gilbert K. Chesterton
- “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” Dalai Lama
- “Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.” Michael Palin
- “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Mark Twain
- “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
- “If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” Anthony Bourdain
- “Own only what you can always carry with you: known languages, known countries, known people. Let your memory be your travel bag” Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
- “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” Jack Kerouac
- “Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” Paul Theroux
- “Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien
- “At its best, travel should challenge our preconceptions and most cherished views, cause us to rethink our assumptions, shake us a bit, make us broader minded and more understanding.” Arthur Frommer
- “And then there is the most dangerous risk of all — the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” Randy Komisar
- “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” Hillaire Belloc
- “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” Mark Twain
- “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all” Helen Keller
- “Live life with no excuses, travel with no regret.” Oscar Wilde
- “The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” Anna Quindlen
- “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.” Oscar Wilde
- “Take only memories, leave only footprints.” Chief Seattle
- “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you traveled.” Prophet Muhammed
- “Two roads diverged in a wood and I….I took the one less traveled by” Robert Frost
- “To Travel is to Live” Hans Christian Andersen
- ”People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.” Edmund Hillary
- “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” Tim Cahill
- “Travel is never a matter of money but of courage” Paulo Coelho
- “Oh the places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss
- “If you never go, you’ll never know” Unknown
My Favorite Little Used English Slang Words
- Coddiwomple (Verb) To travel purposefully toward an as yet unknown destination
- Tripophobia (Noun) The fear of not having any travel trips currently booked
- Travitude (Noun) When you start to get grumpy and sassy because you miss travelling
- Hodophile (Noun) One who loves to travel
- Fernweh (a German Word) An ache for distant places; missing places you’ve never been (Craving for travel)
- Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is taking longer to build than the Pyramids in Egypt
- Iceland has no mosquitoes
- In Germany, the legal age for drinking beer and wine is only 16, yet still 18 for hard liquor
- In 1968, Denmark became the first country to legally permit pornography
- In Switzerland, on Sundays it’s illegal to mow your lawn, wash your car, or hang clothes out to dry
- In France, it Is Illegal to Name Your Pig Napoleon. Albeit not enforceable, it was originally created during Napoleon’s tenure so his name could not be associated with swine
- Condom is a city of about 7,500 residents located halfway between Toulouse and Bordeaux
- Peniscola is a small coastal town located in the Valencia region of Spain
- Orgaz is a small Spanish town just south of Toledo. One can only wonder what people from Orgaz are called….orgazmos perhaps?
- Leper is the name of a city in Belgium
- Sparkasse is the name of popular German bank
- Fucker is the name of a German travel coach company
- Apparently the world’s largest dildo is on display at the Erotic Museum in Barcelona, Spain.
- According to Mike’s Bike Tours, the “ busker,” or performance artist if you prefer, who sits on the toilet and reads the newspaper all day long on Barcelona’s Rambla makes approximately 300 euros per day
- From 1996-2003 over 300 lap-dancing clubs opened in the UK
- The copyrights for the first travelers’ cheque were issued on July 7, 1891 to Marcellus F. Berry, then an employee working under James C. Fargo, president of the American Express Company. Fargo had traveled to Europe a year prior and was quite alarmed by the fact no one would recognize or cash any of his personal checks. That first year over $9,000 worth of travelers’ cheques sold with Fargo’s own son William cashing the very first one for $50 in Leipzig, Germany
- In the summer of 2003, naked backpacker Steve Gouch walked the 847 mile distance from Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’Groats, Scotland in an effort to promote the merits of nudism. The 44 year old truck driver was arrested over eight times during his trek which began on June 16
- When reference is made to the Right Bank, it denotes either the North or East side of the riverbank and consequently the term Left Bank is used to indicate the South or West side of the riverbank.
- The Dune du Pilat on the Cote d’ Argent in southwest France is the largest sand dune in Europe at nearly 3km (2 mi) long, 115 m (375 ft) high, and 500 m (1,625 ft) wide.
- Just outside Lucerne, Switzerland lies the steepest railway in the world. Their cogwheel railway to the summit of Mount Pilatus (7000 ft) has a shocking 48 degree gradient. See www.pilatus.com for more info. The Hotel Bellevue atop the summit is also considered the highest hotel in Europe.
- The Englischer Garten (English Garden) in Munich, Germany is Europe’s largest city park.
- Barry, the infamous St. Bernard dog who rescued over 40 people, died in Bern, Switzerland in 1814 and is on display (stuffed of course) at the Natural History Museum there.
- The country of Finland with its 187,888 lakes has more than any other country in Europe, not to mention its has nearly 180,000 islands.
- The country of Norway has nearly 15,000 glaciers including Jostedalsbreen, the largest glacier in mainland Europe.
- The country of Sweden is home to Sarek National Park, the largest wilderness area in Europe containing nearly 750 sq. miles, some 100 glaciers, and 80 plus mountains.
- Artis, located in Amsterdam, is said to be the oldest zoo in continental Europe (see www.artis.nl) while the Kolmarden Djurpark in Norrkoping, Sweden is said to be the largest in continental Europe (see www.kolmarden.com)
- Of the 60 million estimated rats in the UK, the biggest recorded one, called the “Ratweiler” was just less than 24 inches and weighed nearly 2 pounds. Incidentally, rats are the only wild animal British SAS troops are prohibited from eating in the field because of the associated diseases they’re known to carry. (Source: Daily Mail -August 2, 2002)
- Britain has more surveillance cameras per capita than any other nation on earth.
- Only 3% of British, compared to 11% of Germans, 18% of Danish, and 28% of Dutch get to work by bicycle.
- The Salvation Army was founded originally in London in x but also has a museum in Switzerland (ADD)
- Brussels, Belgium is the 2nd largest diplomatic city in the world boasting over 120 international organizations, nearly 1400 international NGO’s (non government organizations), 159 embassies, and 2500 total diplomats.
- In 1989 Denmark became the first country to recognize same sex-marriages.
- Each face card in a deck of cards represents a great figure from history. For example, the Jack of Clubs is said to represent Sir Lancelot. However, such notorious figures like Cleopatra and Richard the Lion-hearted are often commonly mistaken for the various correlations below. For example, the King of Spades = King David, King of Hearts = Charlemagne, King of Clubs = Alexander the Great, King of Diamonds = Julius Ceasar, Queen of Spades = The goddess Minerva, Queen of Hearts = Judith (of the Book of Judith-Old Testament), Queen of Clubs = Argine (an apparent anagram for Regina-the Latin word for Queen), and Queen of Diamonds = Rachel (of the Bible)