Celebrating our history & connections in Europe

There’s nothing I enjoy more when I’m discovering a new city—or rediscovering an old favorite—than a long stroll. Which is why I’m pleased that this month’s Harriet’s Corner spotlights Dubrovnik, where the main thoroughfare, the limestone-paved Stradun, remains charmingly geared towards pedestrians. Worn smooth by centuries of footsteps, this city holds myriad delights within its ancient walls, and stunning trademark red roofs dotting the landscape. (See what awaits you there in this month’s Video Gallery featuring our Dubrovnik & Beyond: From the Adriatic to the Alps vacation.)

Another of my top European strolls is along Vienna’s Ringstrasse, which will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2015. The 2.5-mile boulevard, constructed during the tail end of the Hapsburg monarchy, is a lovely winding path around the Innere Stadt, or Inner City, and rings such architectural landmarks as the Parliament building and the State Opera. As you’ll discover in Community News & Views, you can see the evolution of Austria’s capital in special artistic exhibits and concerts celebrating the city’s rich past and visions for its future throughout next year on many departures of our most popular river cruises.

Vienna’s architecture was innovative at the time—and now, 150 years later, we celebrate innovation through technology like computers and the Internet and cell phones that bring us together. This month in Travel Talk, I answer a question from Florence and Robert Myers, who want to know which “smart” device is best for them to invest in before their next river cruise—iPad or iPhone. And in the Traveler Story from Inge Saenger and her husband Rudi, she shares her reflections on the leaps and bounds that have occurred in overseas since she emigrated to the U.S. from Austria after WWII, and he from Berlin.

That’s what I love about traveling to Europe—seeing all of the wonderful innovations, whether architectural, technological or social—and simultaneously celebrating our heritage. Though neither Alan nor I are Croatian, we like to think a return to Dubrovnik is about getting back to our roots, as it was travelers’ most popular destination when we acquired Grand Circle in 1985. For me, that’s always been the point of travel—discovering a bit of your history, and the world’s, and making those connections to our collective past and hopes for the future.

What are your future travel plans? Have you returned to your homeland on a Grand Circle river cruise? Please share your experiences with me at harriet@gct.com.

Harriet Lewis