It was always Europe. London as the first stop, and then on to the continent. That’s how it was done.
When I grew up, Britain was the promised land with regard to international travel, and to do it right, Francs, Lira and Deutschmarks had to be involved somewhere, too. So was the great Australian dream of going abroad in my youth.
America wasn’t really on the radar then. Of course there was the sophistication of New York and the glamour of L.A. But it really wasn’t a place that anyone actually went to; well not before you had visited Europe of course. I did have a school friend go to Disneyland in seventh grade, but I never did speak to him again. (Okay, that’s not true, the speaking bit, but he did go to Disney, and he’s actually been to Hamilton now, too.)
Europe is a place of great history, culture, language and cuisine. Everything that was anything and anyone of significance supposedly came from Europe.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love England and really enjoyed our time living there. And Europe is an incredible place. I’ve seen a fair bit of it and yet not nearly enough. But it only took me one visit to America to realize that we’d been thinking about it the wrong way.
Incidentally, my first trip to America was a complete accident, as I too had intended to take a year off and explore Europe.
I feel that Americans, and indeed the world at large, sometimes forget that America is a country of incredibly diverse culture, history, language, food, art and music.
If you visit Seattle you will encounter a world very different from that of New Orleans and that the back woods of Missouri are nowhere near the experience of downtown Boston. The accents you hear, the phrases used and the approach to life are vastly different at all points of the compass. The way you order a soda/pop/coke is different in nearly every state, but you do get the advantage of a single currency to do it with. How is that any different to Europe?
The bucket list “check offs” that include seeing the Grand Canyon or standing atop the Empire State Building surely measure up to that of taking in the hills of Tuscany or scaling the Eiffel Tower, right? Maybe it’s different when it’s visiting parts your own county? I’ve stood at the Brandenburg Gates, but I regret that I have still not seen Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia’s Red Centre.
There is still plenty of the world that I want to see. But high on the list is Mount Rushmore, Miami Beach and that famed trip down Route 66 all the way to Goodyear, Arizona, to take in Reds Spring Training. There are 50 incredible states to see here (though you do a pretty good job of hiding one with an ocean and another with all of Canada), and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to seeing every single one of them.
Now which way to Versailles?