The outbreak of COVID-19 around the world has got me thinking about a lot of things. Mostly health – my own, that of my family & friends, citizens of the world – but also travel. I’ve been thinking about the places I’ve been, those I would like to visit, and those I would like to visit again.
In November of 2011 I had a business trip that took me from Milan, Italy to a town in southern Germany by way of a road trip through the Swiss Alps and a tiny corner of Austria. I would love to return to Milan one day. Knowing what I know today I would probably make a point to visit some spots I didn’t even know about my first trip. To other spots I would gladly return.
I had what I would probably consider to be the best plate of eggplant parmesan I’ve ever eaten at A Santa Lucia. I found out later that Milan is known for this dish, and especially so in this famous (and widely photographed) restaurant.
The Milanese people have an amazing sense of style. At the time of my visit I was considerably heavier, and would never have thought to try to purchase any clothing. But I was inspired by certain styles, and have based my current way of dressing on much of what I saw.
Did I mention how much I adored both the food and the people?
The trip then took us through the Alps in Switzerland to our final destination in Markdorf, southern Germany – a couple hours drive from Stuttgart. Aside from the beautiful mountain scenery, my big takeaway from driving through Switzerland (and later Germany) was the rest stops. Here in the US we want to get in and out of rest stops as quickly as we can. These days they are usually clean, but the food is never good, and the overall experience is never quite dignified. In Europe you can get a fresh, delicious meal, and a cup of coffee in a real ceramic mug.
It really does make a difference to the travel experience. And yes, Switzerland really was that blue.
I enjoyed my time in Milan, but I absolutely adored my time in Germany. The people are wonderful. The scenery is breathtaking. And the food – what I had – is something truly special. One meal that stands out in my mind took place in a brewery near Markdorf.
I remember starting my meal with spaetzle soup – a German-style pasta stuffed with calves liver. This was followed by a round of brats for the table to share, then a sizzling plate of venison and potatoes. Dinner was finished with chocolate cake and house-made schnapps. And of course, the beer was second to none.
I look forward to a day – hopefully in the near future – when we can all again travel around the world without the imminent fear of COVID-19. I look forward to a day when I can visit new places, and just maybe return to some of the wonderful places I’ve already been to remind myself of why I loved it so much the first time around.