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Tuesday Travels: Getting Lost All Over Europe

My husband and I were both born and raised in the southern Midwest where towns and communities were established in later times and, therefore, planned and structured in ways that make them easier to navigate.  European cities... NOPE!

One of the greatest parts of our trip to Europe was experiencing all of the older aspects of the magnificent cities there.  The cobblestone streets, the incredible stone archways and aqueducts, and the churches built on mountaintops made us feel like we were walking through time to see and experience a different world.  The narrow streets in many of the older city areas were built for horse carts, and walking through them made the adventure even more enchanting.

Getting lost all over Europe and the lessons we learned
There's just so much to see and you can't pass them by.  Photo (c) Michele Luck.
However, the beautiful older cities are also limited in their directional assistance, especially for foreign travelers who are navigationally challenged!  The worst part of this is my personal history - I was a Geography teacher, and have prided myself on being able to navigate anywhere to find what I needed.  I attribute this skill, not only to my educational training, but to my years of visiting yard sales with my Grandma as I grew up.  With the Saturday morning paper, and a trusty city map, we found every sale, and every deal, each Saturday morning, gathering our treasures without problem!

But Europe was a whole new challenge.  Different languages, different signage, and different pathway structures left me, and Steve, in complete ignorance.  More important, as we saw the elaborate churches or the ornate gardens and pathways, we were drugged with "touristitis" and were so easily led astray, and usually off the beaten path.

Getting lost all over Europe and the lessons we learned
We walked past this guy a few times before we gave in and asked for help! Photo (c) Michele Luck.
Our first "getting lost" experience came in Munich, Germany.  We got off our tour bus for a meal at an amazing German restaurant.  I had the most mouth-watering pork and sauerkraut meal, and then we set off for our hotel.  Instead of jumping on the next bus, we decided to just walk back... Mistake #1.
Getting lost all over Europe and the lessons we learned
THE BEST GERMAN MEAL!  Photo (c) Michele Luck.

The first block was no problem.  We looked in the shops, bought our grand-daughter a postcard, and then headed "in the direction the bus went."  "Oh look!  There's an open market!  We should walk through it!"  And there we went... off the path... into lostville!

Getting lost all over Europe and the lessons we learned
Love the cobblestone streets everywhere, but they can lead you astray!  They all look alike!  Photo (c) Michele Luck.
I have to mention that the marketplace was so incredible!  The fruits and vegetables were so plump and brightly colorful.  And the cultural experience as we walked through the little area was one I will never forget.
Getting lost all over Europe and the lessons we learned
An amazing Beer Stube in the middle of the outdoor marketplace was a very busy gathering! Photo (c) Michele Luck.
And then Steve saw the ice cream.  The woman was kind enough to give us directions to the little hut she said provided the most flavorful sweets we will ever find on a cone, and off we went in the new direction.  Mistake #2.

After our ice creams, we started walking [what we thought was] back to the hotel.  About 30 minutes later, we finally stopped to ask for help.  We were ready to admit defeat: We were lost!  And lost, we were!  We'd managed to walk in a completely different direction than we'd thought, and the walk back would take us "about 30-40 minutes."  The nice man suggested we take the tram, but we had this!

Our walk back ended up filled with as much laughter as frustration!  We got off track one more time, tried to catch a tram and failed (you have to pre-purchase tickets and we refused to just "jump the ride"), and then we ended up following a huge protest march of those hoping to bring greater unity to Germany.  Did I mention it was V-E Day and we were in GERMANY!

Oh, the places you'll go when you travel with us!  And this was not our only lost experience in our 42 day trip.  Just days later we were lost in Venice... and then Santorini...oh, and then Rome... maybe for a few minutes in Florence... and definitely in Milan.  But with each came another story to tell, and much laughter to share!
Getting lost all over Europe and the lessons we learned
Florence is a beautiful city, but we got so lost here, we understood how so many people moved in and never left!   Photo by (c) Michele Luck.
Getting lost all over Europe and the lessons we learned
We were very careful in Santorini, but still found ourselves unsure of which path led us back down to the buses once we got to the top for that ultimate view! Photo by (c) Michele Luck.
Getting lost all over Europe and the lessons we learned
After heading up, and up, and up, for that great view of the ruins between the forum and the Colosseum, we found ourselves lost in the winding gardens and pathways through Ancient Rome! Photo (c) by Michele Luck.
Getting lost all over Europe and the lessons we learned
We "found" the Uffizi on our lost walk through Florence.  Photo (c) bu Michele Luck.
Happy Travels!