New Yorkers Jenny and David took in the fairytale sites, unique flavors, and complicated history of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague on tour. Here, Jenny (pictured on the right with two tour mates on a snowy walk over Prague’s Charles Bridge) shares what has stayed with her most from the journey.
What made you and David want to visit Eastern Europe in the first place?
We’ve always wanted to go to Eastern Europe! My father visited these countries many, many years ago when I was a child of about 5 or 6 years old, living in China. I even have some pictures of him in the same spots that we visited on tour, so I went and took the same pictures. It was kind of a personal journey for me to visit these countries because of those pictures of him.
Do you have a favorite between Budapest, Vienna, and Prague?
Prague! Especially visiting Charles Bridge. That bridge has just stayed with me in my head. It’s just beautiful. We went a few times, in the day time and night time, and when it was snowing. My favorite evening of the whole trip was when my husband and I and two younger travelers went for a walk to see the bridge lit up at night, and ended up having a great dinner out at this underground restaurant with live music. It made me feel like a teenager again!
Any other highlights from the tour?
My husband would say the food—especially if you’re a meat-eater! I loved the museums in Vienna, and we went to see an opera in Vienna which was really neat. I’d actually love to go back and spend more time in Vienna. There is so much to see there.
Anything about the region that surprised you?
The people—especially in Prague and Budapest. They’ve been through so much. When you think about Budapest, the Communist rule ended recently but today, the young people speak great English and are so nice and helpful. We had this one local guide in Budapest who really sticks out to me. She was wonderful and shared about her life and her parents and the hardships they’ve been through. They’re a very strong people.
You and David make it a priority to fit trips into your life now—how has travel changed you?
I walk around downtown New York City every day, and I see tourists from Europe all the time, sometimes struggling with a map or needing help on the subway or with directions. Now whenever I see that, I stop them and ask if they need help. I think, “You helped me when I was in your country.” That’s one big way travel has changed me. Another is simply just appreciating the life we live in America more.
You’ve been on a handful of Go Ahead Tours at this point. What’s your favorite part?
Making connections with people you didn’t expect! We’re all so different—different backgrounds, different ages, from different parts of the country—and I think that’s the best part. These trips bring people of all different backgrounds together.
Why do think travel has such a special ability to bring people together?
Well on tour, we all start with something in common: We like to travel. We like to go out and see the differences in the world, to eat different foods, to meet different people and make new friends.