Oh, The Places You’ll Blog*

*with humble apologies to Dr. Seuss.

It’s day eleven of Blogging University: Blogging 101. With two weeks down and one to go, I’ve learned a lot.

Today’s assignment is to

publish a post based on your own, personalized take on a blogging prompt.

The prompt is

Places: beach, mountain, forest, or somewhere else entirely?

Where Am I?

Where Am I?

When daisies pied and violets blue
And lady-smocks all silver-white
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
Do paint the meadows with delight,
Love’s Labours Lost (5.2.900-4)

In 1989, single and unencumbered, I flew to Europe with a backpack and stayed for two months. I traveled mostly by train, but also by bus and boat. The best days were those spent on foot, exploring small towns, large cities and everything in between. I covered ten countries in all, including most of the British Aisles as well as France, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Switzerland.

I traveled on a shoe string, working from a copy of Let’s Go Europe. Staying in youth hostels made the trip affordable and fun. I met travelers from around the world and in addition to their good company, I learned about other places to stop along the way.

It seems a life time ago, and of course in many ways it is. I’ve since married and had two boys, started a small organizing business and moved to San Jose. When I look at this photo, though, all the memories come back. Photographs, much like music or a certain smell, have a way of transporting you back in time. I remember buying the dress I’m wearing and the sweater to go with it. Those comfortable, ubiquitous sandals carried me everywhere. It was a thrill to step foot in this aging town and to learn more about its history.

A woman I met at one of the youth hostels snapped this photo on a warm, July day. Then we explored the sites together. We were still buying rolls of film in those days and developing them at a nearby drug store. It was here that I bought the first of many travel patches that I would later sew on my backpack.

Of course lots of the memories are lost with the years. Sometimes I want to peer outside of the photos edge, to see what might be there.  I remember arriving but not departing and I don’t remember any of the meals. I wonder if I’m really that close to the river’s edge or is it simply an artifact of the camera’s lens?

What I do know is this: Traveling alone on another continent was one of the most enriching experiences of my life. There were times when I was lonely, cranky and scared, but they were far outweighed by the interesting people I met along the way and the tremendous sense of independence that comes from finding your way in a distant land.  I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Can you guess where I am from these clues?



32 thoughts on “Oh, The Places You’ll Blog*

  1. Nope! But I’m guessing it is a canal you are standing by – looking mighty near the edge to me! I’m guessing maybe you are somewhere in the UK, possibly the West Country going by that dress. Possibly Glastonbury? The Shakespeare quote backs up my UK premise, the canal too, the landscape – but that round tower doesn’t look particularly British to me. For some reason when I focus on that I want to say Belgium. I give up I don’t know!

    It sounds like you had a great adventure and that would have been character and confidence building! And there will be wonderful stories to tell too!

    I was backpacking around Europe for a couple of months in 1989. Sometimes alone and sometimes with friends. I wonder if we passed anywhere along the way. Whenever I went anywhere alone I got in a dreadful pickle 🙂 I had my pocket picked in Rome then got arrested on a train trying to get out of Rome……. Oh the places I’ve been and the stories I tell …….. 🙂


    • Well thank goodness I didn’t fall into the drink and hit my head or I wouldn’t be enjoying this chat with you, Pauline.

      I cannot get over the fact that we were backpacking in Europe and the UK at the same time!!!! Pauline, what an extraordinary experience. I avoided Rome on my own because of the crime and especially thought it a bad idea to ride the train at a time when passengers were being asphyxiated. Why in the world did they arrest you? Were you terrified? Good gracious, the stories we’ll share. Can’t wait to hear all about it and to sleuth our locations during the time.

      A couple of others have guessed where I am: standing near the Avon in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birth place. That’s the Holy Trinity Church in the background.


    • Marlene, it was incredible. Seeing the world is a great way to gain perspective, too. I often think that if everyone, everywhere, gave a year of service in another country, they would see how the other half lives and gain more respect and understanding. Instead of requiring military service, we could teach each other what we know. My personal solution for ending terrorism is to teach and nurture, not punish and hate.

      Yes, Blogging 101 shakes a lot of things loose. And I’ve no doubt you’ll get back to it when your life settles down. xox

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, I am at an advantage as I come from the UK, but I think the quote gave you away… is it Stratford upon Avon? You look so young and happy! I did similar trips alone with a backpack in France and Germany many moons ago – it’s the best way to meet people and I often paired up for a couple of days with other like-minded individuals for gallery visits or a picnic lunch. Yes, a lot of the memories fade, but many remain too! 🙂 A lovely post Alys!


    • Cathy, you guessed it! I majored in theater in college and both read and worked on Shakespeare’s plays. It was so much fun visiting his birthplace, not to mention the overall charm of the place.

      I was only 29 in this photo, and still couldn’t quite believe that I had pulled it all together and got myself overseas for travel.

      I loved France and Germany as well, though muddled my way through with my limited language skills. I found that people usually appreciated your efforts. Like you, I also met up with travelers for a day or two here and there. It made it all the more enriching.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you, Cathy.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with Cathy…and I think I see the Holy Trinity Church in the back ground?
    But where ever is it :From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere…with hats of to the magnificent Dr. Seuss of course ;0) xo Johanna


    • Bingo! You are both correct. I’m in Stratford-Upon-Avon with the Holy Trinity Church behind me, next to the avon. I studied theater arts in college, so it was especially wonderful to actually visit his birth place.


  4. i admire your traveling alone. I have always travel with a friend or husband, but always on trains, buses and boats. The best thing of my travel is the people I meet from other countries. Thank you for taking me back to some fun memories!


  5. I wouldn’t have guessed it was Stratford!

    I too was abroad that year – doing my placements in France and Germany as part of a Modern Languages degree. And I agree that travelling alone abroad is such an enriching experience 🙂


  6. Oh my, I’ve come to bathe in all the glory that is Nirvana and find you in England this morning. Look at your mop of hair shining in the sunshine, beautiful ! I’m astonished by all the giant, gorgeous tree’s in the background. It’s so green there. I can’t guess where you are because I’ve learned the answer on my way down, hehe. Since it’s snowing out my window this very moment, I shall relish the image and say hooray for independence and adventure.

    It was a different time wasn’t it? A woman being able to travel alone through Europe seems impossible now. Maybe it’s due to my age? I’m far less adventurous than I might have been in my 20’s. I did take a trip to Hawaii with 3 girls I didn’t know when I was 23. It was the sister and friends of a girl I worked with. I had lived on my own for 5 years and these girls still lived at home, so it was interesting in that regard. I remember thinking they were a bit immature but we still had fun. It would be interesting to meet travellers from around the world. I’ve never stayed in a hostile. I’m way spoilt now (as you know 😀 ). A room with a view with breakfast delivered is so much fun, especially shared with you xoxoxo ❤ k/p/b


    • It was green and lush there with regular rains to keep it so. You would have loved the history and the quaint vibe. It was a bit touristy in parts, but still a lot to explore on your own. Stepping foot into a church built in the 1600s was something else. If the walls could talk…

      I was a different time, and yes those times have changed. I did have a few small scares that I had forgotten before rereading my journal, but nothing that amounted to anything. The youth hostels are safe, welcoming places to stay, and so affordable too.

      What fun to travel to Hawaii with girlfriends, especially at so young an age. I was 28 the first time I went, also with two girlfriends. It seems like a lifetime ago.

      Yes, those rooms with a view and a breakfast tray are pretty special, especially when you’re there too.

      Liked by 1 person

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