Preparing to Travel
We travel every year. The last few years, we've limited our journeys to a little village called Ojochal on the South Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. It's a place that we've gotten to know, a place where we've made good friends and a place where I can turn off and recharge.
There's something special about having a place that you're familiar with. You know where the grocery store is, the good restaurants are and the Sunday morning volleyball games are played. It's great to have friends that you renew each year and grow closer to as time moves on.
And we'll continue to visit our little corner of the jungle each year to refresh, re-energize and relax. This year we decided, however, that we need to get back to the excitement of exploring a new place.
Two years ago in Costa Rica, on a beautiful day by the pool, we made an extensive list of places we'd like to visit, including six priority locations. In 2 weeks, we're going to check off number one from that list!
One of the things that Melissa and I, as a couple, have placed tremendous importance on is exploration. Traveling to new places, trying new activities, new foods and drinks, and continuing to meet and make new friends. Sometimes this is hard to do, running a business, writing a book, teaching classes. Life gets in the way.
I'm so excited to fire up our travel exploration again by heading to Europe and visiting Austria and Germany. This area of the globe has long been high on my priority list as the vast majority of ancestors are German (Prussian to be exact.)
In preparing to leave, I spent quite a bit of time on ancestry.com (which truly is a black hole so be careful) searching for my roots. I was able to find where virtually everybody came from (they left Prussia between 1843 and 1865 or so). They were from small farming villages north and northwest of Berlin. And when I say small, I mean tiny. And it's not just my dad's side or my mom's side, but both sides came from the region, some even from the same town!
I was able to trace back to a gentleman named Anstatt Lingenfelder who was born in 1520. He's my 11th great grandfather and was a winemaker. Fourteen generations later, they are still making wine. In fact, I've been emailing with his descendant Rainer, hoping for the opportunity to meet him and his family at their winery during the trip.
And Melissa has some ancestors in Germany as well (although most of her people come from England and Ireland) and we'll be traveling through that region too!
I've also been reading a memoir written by a gentleman who was a soldier with my dad during World War II. It documents their journey from Deep South Mississippi for training to landing in Marseille France, fighting through France and Germany and ending up in Berlin. That was one amazing (and cold) journey those brave men went through, and I'm enjoying every minute taking in the history. As I read, I'm referring to Google Maps to see where we'll be crossing over which is in quite a few places.
I have several photos my dad took while he was over there and I've been able to find the villages on the map and intend on visiting them to re-take the photos from the same perspectives. I can't wait to stand in the same places that he stood 73 years ago with camera in hand.
Planning this trip has certainly got the exploration juices flowing, and we're looking beyond Europe to our 50th birthday trip next year. Where's it going to be? We'll figure that out soon.
I firmly believe that travel opens our minds and helps us to see people as people, not us versus them. It humanizes us. Mark Twain said that travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. Right now would be a great time for our entire country to go on holiday and learn, understand and experience this, because Twain truly got it right!