After my co-worker learned about my travel hobby/obsession/blog, he asked me where I’ve traveled. I rattled off a few places, such as Japan and Austria, and he replied that he’d always wanted to travel overseas but never did because he didn’t speak the language. He asked if it’s possible to visit these places if you are unilingual. I replied with a resounding, “Yes!”
Don’t let the fact that you don’t know the language keep you from visiting a country. Now, I’m not suggesting being a proud idiot and going in expecting everyone in a different nation to speak your language, either. Understand there will be difficulties in communication, which will become greater the farther you explore from the normal tourist areas. These are some of the quaint things you remember about traveling. It’s a good idea to try and learn a few phrases before you go. Things like good morning, good evening, excuse me, please, thank you and the ever important I’m sorry.
Here are a few examples of places we’ve traveled without knowing the language and the memories we have.
Although we don’t do it all the time, when Joe and I have a opportunity to visit a place where a movie we enjoy was filmed, we visit it if we can. We’ve seen lots of places where they filmed the Harry Potter films, and even spent several days in Salzburg, Austria, visiting places where they filmed The Sound of Music. We’ve also been to lots of locations in New York that were used in movies, such as The Plaza (Home Alone 2) and Katz’s Deli (When Harry Met Sally). Oh, and I TOTALLY geeked out when we visited A Christmas Story House (it’s a museum now) a few years ago.
Over the years, we’ve come across a few places in our travels that had Disney references in them. i.e., when we went to France, we stopped at Notre Dame Cathedral, and in 101 Dalmatians, Pongo dragged Roger to the park, which is fashioned after Queen Mary’s Garden, in Regent’s Park. But it turns out that nearly every Disney animated feature was based, in part, on a real place. Take a look:
Joe and I have been to a lot of museums in our travels and we’ve done a lot of the biggies. The Museum of Natural History. The Louvre. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The British Museum. The Museum of Natural History. Bits and pieces of the Smithsonian. We have tentative plans to visit the Field Museum when we go to Chicago this fall. Joe’s been to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in NY and Museum of Popular Culture in Seattle. We’re both big fans of museums of science and industry in any big (or not so big) city we visit. We’ve even done some off-the-beaten track museums like the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, the Ghibli Museum in Japan and Alexander Hamilton’s home in Harlem, which has been turned into a museum. But this one we just found out about just sounds fascinating!
La Cité du Vin (City of Wine) is a museum & theme park dedicated to WINE! It’s located in Bordeaux, which make perfect sense, when you consider that Bordeaux is the wine capital of the world. And just like the science museums of your past (or maybe your present), they focus on an immersive, sensorial approach. And I’m ready to buy tickets right now!