Travel is an incredible thing. You can learn things you never knew but you have to be in the right place at the right time. I have always resisted my wife’s desire to be part of a tour. My idea of travel has been to explore while hers was leave the driving to someone else. I held to the premise that exploring will uncover those hidden nuggets, accidently while presenting them as pleasant, most of the time, surprises. The problem is, the odds are you might just as likely discover that you were lost and only thought you knew where you were. The only surprise turns out to be all the things you missed and without my wife’s method, never even knew you had. I believe the term is “blissful ignorance.”
Lest you think I am defending my approach, you are wrong. I have, after several, no, many successful times using with my wife’s methodology, succumbed to the idea that at the very least I need to compromise. The beauty of my wife’s reliance on tours and tour guides is that I have learned things about an area or region or country that I never would have if I had just been stumbling around in the “explore” method. And I might add, in such a shorter period that I still had the time to indulge my desire to explore.
This trip across the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland has provided so many “aha” moments each and every day. The tours have truly exposed us to the culture and history of the cities and countries we have traversed. The tour guides have entertained, skipped the lines and cued us in to the history, humor and ethnicity of the tours provided for us. Each and every time they have left us with personal space to spend exploring with just enough direction to leave us satisfied that we had seen the things that mattered. Call it the “cliff notes” of Europe’s greatest cities.
As an example, just today we learned the connection of Professor Bunson, Mr Heinz, Jacob Astor and the Preslin family line to the city we toured. I found out the origin of Mannheim Steam Roller, the real reason for the success of the Benz Company and the significance of the monkey statue just this side of the Heidelberg Bridge. And let’s not forget that there were John Deere’s there but they call them Bull Dogs. And now you are waiting for me to explain these statements………Seriously? That was the point of this segment. Unless you travel, unless you take my wife’s advice, you will be stuck with Google. But I know because I got the chance to be there, to hear the stories and even better, to experience them.
My wish for everyone is that if you haven’t yet, you will one day get the chance to travel to at least a few of the places on your bucket list. And that if and when you do, you’ll realize that there’s no shame and you are no less the explorer when you take the occasional tour or when you rely on the knowledge and wisdom of the guide.