Have you ever had one of those dumb luck where you plan a trip months in advance and you happen to be there during perhaps the most spectacular days of the year where literally you could not have planned it better? Disregarding that terrible run-on sentence, I have had a few strokes of travel luck. Here are my top three terrific timing travel experiences.
1) Midsummer’s Eve Celebration (Summer Solstice) in Copenhagen (June 2011)
On my 2011 summer Eurotrip, Copenhagen was certainly our most random stop. Not that Copenhagen is random, but that we were going out-of-the-way with no idea what to expect or do when we got there. Copenhagen turned out the be THE highlight of the entire month of travel. Why? We happened to be in Copenhagen on June 23, which is when Midsummer’s Eve celebrations take place in Copenhagen. The celebrations of the summer solstice take place all over Scandinavia, and we were so fortunate to be there. There were huge floating bonfires all around the harbor surrounding the city. There were people everywhere on the streets and swinging their legs over the walls of the harbor drinking enjoying the jazz music filling the air. Since this festival occurs during the longest days of the year, I got to experience the sun being out until nearly 4 am for the first time – mind-boggling for someone from Texas, which has such a “normal” sunrise-sunset schedule.
Additionally, it happened to be graduation time for students in Denmark. The students wear white hats, called Studenterhue, that resemble sailor hats. There are lots of traditions associated with the caps. You try to acquire as many bite marks on the brim as possible, for instance. There are also lots of secret symbols written inside the cap to commemorate the acts you committed whilst celebrating in your cap. Some graduates told us that some people party for 48 hours straight. It was a wild time to be in the city!
2) Tour de France in Paris (July 2010)
Yes, the Tour de France is a long race, but we happened to be in Paris for THE finale of the world-famous bike race, which also happened to be Lance Armstrong’s last race (although he was injured before the finale so we didn’t get to see him making laps). Yes, I was a huge Lance Armstrong fan (don’t wanna talk about it). But anyway, being in Paris during such an exciting time was truly incredible.
We spent AGES finding a place to get champagne to drink during the race. It was a Sunday afternoon and good ole Europe seems to shut down a bit. Eventually, we walked into a nearby pub and made a to-go order. Once we got the goods, we wiggled our way to the front of the crowd on Rue de Rivoli and watched the racers make several laps to celebrate the race’s conclusion. They seriously FLEW past us. You could barely see the yellow jersey whiz by – it was incredible to see the greatest at their sport completing the toughest race of them all.
3) World Cup in Barcelona (July 2010)
This might just have been the luckiest moment of all. On July 7, 2010 I landed in Barcelona, which happened to also be the first time I set foot on European soil. We had friends studying abroad there, so it seemed like the perfect way to kick off our three-week jaunt through Europe. That very evening, Spain would play German in the 2010 World Cup Semifinals. Jet lag and all, we headed to our friends’ favorite pub to watch the game. We spent a full day sightseeing, so luckily there were 2 for 5 Euro Vodka-Red Bulls (ok, it was actually a Red Bull initiation called The Horny Leprechaun) to fight the jet lag and energize us for the game. Spain pulled out a 1-0 victory and the city just blew up! The people of Barcelona normally don’t associate themselves with Spain, but you bet there was excitement all-around. I can only imagine how the other cities celebrated. Writing this today gives me so much Eurocup 2012 nostalgia.
Isn’t that this the excitement of traveling – not knowing what’s around the next corner?
What lucky encounters have you had while traveling?
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