McKinney Gypsy Caravan

One part travel blog. One part nerdy history lesson.

Because “NotSoInnocentsAbroad” was already taken

I have spent the last 6 months to a year researching just where to go in Europe for our first trip. In fact, it’s sort of been an obsession to see everything I can see in our time in Ireland and the UK.

I initially planned out a 10 day Germany/Switzerland/Austria trip all the way to Day 7’s itinerary, only to find out that Europe is basically closed from November-April (Moose out front should have told me)…. and since we had to do our trip in March, I was back to square one. Turns out I had a lot to learn about travel to and around Europe.

So, as I’m researching and planning…I’m thinking, “How do I want to share this with everyone?” Facebook is awesome…but I didn’t feel like bombarding old coworkers and high school acquaintances with pictures and videos 5 times a day for 3 weeks. Plus, I truly wanted to share our experiences if anyone was interested, not just accumulate “Likes” on some selfies.

Also, in my research I realized that there are tons of message board type websites: tripadvisor.com, virtualtourist.com, etc…. but I had trouble finding real accounts from real travelers of what things they saw, where they ate, etc. I was looking to open a website and see a detailed itinerary with pictures…maybe even a mapped location of their various points along their trip. Now, I’m sure they exist…and this isn’t a novel idea… but I hoped that by archiving our trip in this fashion, maybe someone in the future (or hundreds of someones!) can use my 6 months of research to make their planning a little easier in the future and see more sites off the beaten path that sometimes only the locals know about and wouldn’t be found on a “Top 20 Things to do in Ireland” list.

Since we are so lucky to have the time and resources to even GO on this trip…I wanted to share some of the rich history, beautiful landscapes and awesome people we will be so lucky to meet.

In 1867, Mark Twain and a group of other American travelers chartered a retired Civil War ship, the USS Quaker City, for a voyage through Europe and the Holy Land. He wrote back weekly for a newspaper column throughout his trip and some years later, those columns were compiled into a book, “The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrim’s Progress”.  It became his best selling book during his lifetime.

So that’s how I bought a website domain: FreshInnocentsAbroad.com because NotSoInnocentsAbroad.com was already taken. (Granted, its just parked. Grrrr. but that’s OK. I’m creative!)

I’ve always felt very similarly to Twain while travelling. Throughout his columns, you can feel the boredom and his anger at the exploitation of history and the past by the “businessmen” of the present. The commercialization, the same tired stories told to tourists, the same trinkets on every corner because we think those are the things we are supposed to experience. These are the souvenirs we’re supposed to buy. Only when Twain traveled to places “off the beaten path” did his writing seem to indicate that he truly seemed to enjoy his voyage…and I find myself in very much the same mindset as Twain when I travel. I never enjoy the place listed #1 on the “things not to miss”list. The lines, the gift shops, the same Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville…. that’s not an experience to me…that’s just comfort in numbers and familiarity. Neither of which I feel should have any place in travel. You should be uncomfortable, out of place, in unknown territory….that’s how we experience the world from another point of view. That’s how we learn and grow and live.

So, I hope you follow this blog as we travel.  I hope you enjoy it…I hope you learn something you didn’t know before…I hope it inspires you go somewhere new or try something you’ve never tried before.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

3 Comments

  1. So very exciting! Can’t wait to see your updates from the trip. ⛵️✈️

  2. Susie Schnitker

    March 15, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Now I need to get Twains book to read. Have you read Steinbecks “Travels with Charley” about his 1960’s journey across America? It’s a worthwhile read too. Looking forward to reading about your adventures:)

    • Oooh…I haven’t! But now I have a new Steinbeck to read. I want to read The Winter of Our Discontent as well. I’ll put that one on my list! I’m currently working on James Joyce’s Dubliners… I didn’t quite get as far as I wanted before our trip!

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