(c) 2010 SV LLC

From the time I studied about the Old World in the 6th grade, I had always wanted to visit Europe. Two of the photos from my history book that really got me wishing to travel there were of the bombed out (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial) church in Berlin, and Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria.

For years after I left High School, I collected travelogues from AESU, Trafalgar, and Cosmos in the hopes of one day finally seeing the sites that were pictures in these glossy, enticing catalogs.

I got hold of an AESU catalog one year and realized that I had just enough money saved to afford the Europe Discovery Trip (now no longer offered), which promised 21 exciting days in Amsterdam, Brussels, Heidelberg, Luzern, Munich, Innsbruck, Venice, Rome, Florence, Cannes, Dijon, Paris, and London. There were also stops in Zaanse Schans, Cologne, the Rhine River, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Avignon, and Versailles.

(c) 2010 SV LLC

In the Spring of 1999, I went to Europe and had a merry ol’ time, despite not having a whole lot of cash (I did take a credit card I’d just been issued, but I never used it). There were only 22 or so young people on the tour, all of them White, and most of them from affluent families. A few of them had a distinctly snobby air but I did not really go around those types, preferring to hang with the little girls who, like me, came from less monied backgrounds.

I enjoyed my time in Europe so much that I decided to return the following Spring, which I did but this time around, I went with Contiki. The Aussies were a decidedly friendlier bunch than my fellow Americans, though there were some richies among them as well, and rich people tend to be snooty. I don’t like them one bit. However, this did not stop me from having a great time and I was sorry when the tour ended 22 days later.

(c) 2010 SV LLC

I went back in 2001, right after 9/11…because I had already paid for the trip in full and could not get my money back, or change the tour dates, without incurring hefty cancellation fees. I had no choice but to get on the plane despite my fear of terrorism. This tour was the best of the 3, mainly because I got to visit Berlin – though many monuments were in scaffolding due to renovations, such as the Brandenburg Gate – and also because of my fellow tourists, who were such happy-go-lucky types that I decided I’d definitely go Down Under one day, should I ever win the lottery.

Touring Europe in these crazy times is not an option for me. I did return in 2010, with Busabout because it’s not like a guided tour, you’re basically on your own so it’s more the backpacking thing and also, everybody else is buying food from grocery stores as well so you don’t feel like the poor relation as you do with the other tours. I got to visit the Czech Republic on this tour but I had to forego a return to Italy or Switzerland due to time constraints.

(c) 2010 SV LLC

I used to think that Europe was a much safer and better place to live than the United States but not anymore. It is dangerous. On my last tour of the Continent, with stops in Amsterdam, Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Munich, Paris, and Bruges, I noticed the high concentration of foreigners there – Arabs for the most part, followed very closely by Asians and Africans. They were easy to spot because they still spoke in their own languages and dressed in native garb.

Europe has an immigrant problem that’s worse than ours, because at least the Latin border jumpers aren’t trying to bomb us and drive trucks into crowds of celebrants or ax to death everyone on sight. I’m so grateful that I got to experience the Old World before all this madness started taking place.

(c) 2010 SV LLC

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