The first time I went to Europe I was 17. Now that I think about it, that's pretty amazing that I was that young and that my parents let me go alone with my older sister. What's even more amazing is that one of my best friend's parents also let her go alone with just us and no family.
Me at age 17 in a German pub in Frankfurt.
This summer I will be in Germany for only the second time in my life. Exactly 30 years after my first time and what makes it so special is that I'm traveling with my 16 year old daughter. Hard to believe that it's been 30 years! I can't wait for her to have the same experience that I did when I traveled outside of North America for the first time.
Years after my first trip to Europe, and after I had gone back to visit Italy and Spain, I remember reading a wonderful passage in one of Maya Angelou's books about travel:
“It is necessary, especially for Americans, to see other lands and experience other cultures. The American, living in this vast country and able to traverse three thousand miles east to west using the same language, needs to hear languages as they collide in Europe, Africa, and Asia.”
When I read this I couldn't agree more. Visiting Europe for the first time was such an eye-opening experience about so many things. I realized how young our country is and how there is a big wide world out there to explore. My sister, friend Cynthia and I explored five countries in two weeks. We arrived in Germany and then traveled to France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland. It was a whirlwind trip but the best part was that I found that I really loved Spain an Italy and I went back to both those countries later when I was older.
When I went on that first trip we spent very little time in Germany and I think we were only in Frankfurt. I remember very little so it's going to be great to go back and visit other cities like Munich and Berlin. I'm really intrigued to visit the concentration camps near those two cities. It's exciting to plan our trip and our itinerary knowing that in just a couple of weeks we will be there.
Miranda chose to go to Germany in lieu of a party and I'm glad she took us up on that offer. In society young girls have coming out parties at 16. Their family introduces them to society. This is like a "coming out" of sorts for Miranda too, but it so much more than that. Instead of introducing her to the world or society we will be introducing the world to her.