October 28, 2014

A Country Mouse in the Big City

When it comes to every day living, the pastoral beauty of the Virginia countryside has my heart.  Quiet, unpainted roads, skies lit up by stars instead of light-bulbs, the steady thrumming of tractors, and more cows than people for neighbors - I wouldn't trade any of it, not even for the convenience of living near cafes, grocery stores, and movie theaters.  I choose to commute many miles and long hours to the office in order to enjoy the serenity of country living; it's a sacrifice, but one I'm willing to make.

But while the countryside has much to offer in terms of bucolic beauty, most cultural attractions and museums are found in the city, and so our travels primarily revolve around cities.  However, we throw in a dash of country sights here and there to give us a little bit of relaxation while on the road.  Here are just a few examples of how we've managed to put both cities and countrysides on our trips:

My five cent grin
Our trip to Italy had a heavy focus on city sights (Rome) due to the high number of attractions available to see: the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Vatican, the museums, etc.  However, we made sure to spend time outside Italian cities, too, beginning our trip in the quiet modern town of Pompei just outside the ruins of Pompeii, spending a gloriously relaxing day on the coast outside Sorrento, and an invigorating morning hiking Mt Vesuvius!  This country mouse can better tackle a whirlwind tour of European cities with a few days spent recharging in the countryside first!

Our visits to Germany always highlight the best of both country and city, thanks in large part to the flexibility of having many friends and family members to visit while we're there!  From the tourist-packed town of Rothenburg, to the World-Cup frenzied streets of Stuttgart, to the alpine beauty of Neuschwanstein, we've seen a lot of Germany - but still not enough of it!  Munich, Berlin, Cologne, and Germany's North Sea coast are still on my bucket list.

Beautiful Rothenburg
Selfies at St Vitus Cathedral
We visited Prague in 2012 before flying to Germany, and this trip was entirely city-oriented.  But when you're walking fairy-tale streets and gaping at beautiful Gothic churches, getting stressed out by the confines of a city is the last thing on your mind!  We would dearly love to return to Prague and then venture out into the Czech countryside.

My whirlwind 48-hour trip to London in February was all city.  But I didn't mind one bit!  I fell in love with London - crazy and overwhelming as it can be at times! - and can't wait to return.  But like with Prague, I also yearn to see the English countryside and venture north and west to Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.  Last weekend we entered a raffle to win a trip to Ireland and the UK and when the results are announced on St. Patrick's Day, I'm hoping to hear our name called!

My "please don't send me back to the States tonight" look.

Having family ties to the Boston-area might make the city seem like an old hat to some, but for me it's anything but!  This city has attitude and historical sights in spades.  This past May we were able to walk the Freedom Trail, eat lunch at the historic Green Dragon Tavern, and reflect on our revolutionary roots at Bunker Hill.  Later we made an excursion outside the city down to Plimoth Plantation to learn more about the settlement of America in the 1600s.  While only a weekend trip, it was a perfect combination of city and country sights.

Visiting both cities and countryside on your travels not only gives you the best of both worlds, but provides you with a more well-rounded feel for the cultures with which you're interacting.  City-life is not the only facet of a society, and neither is country-living.  Experience them both and you'll come away with a deeper awareness of the culture and a more satisfying understanding of the country you're visiting.

My natural habitat is somewhere green, warm, and in the great outdoors!
Do you prefer visiting cities or countryside on your travels?  Or do you try to see the best of both?

Linking up with Bonnie Rose and Camila for #TravelTuesday!


  1. Love the way you formatted this post! It seems you do have a pattern of choosing to visit cities more - I guess it makes sense when flying to a city and staying in one. And usually they also do have the most attractions - but I do love me a good country getaway too :)

    1. I definitely think countryside > city. ;) But yes, it's cheaper to fly into a city and spend our time there catching up on cultural attractions! We get our fill of countryside at home and in Germany, though. :)

  2. I am a big time city traveler. I love cities they give me so much energy and are just so full of history, people to meet, and activities to do! However lately, I have been a little more interested in getting out of the cities to see other parts of a place. And you have to go to Berlin! If you love Germany it is a must, Berlin is my absolute favorite city in the whole world!

    1. I know! I've heard so many terribly good things about Berlin! We will make it there one day (perks of having German relatives). My lack of PTO is what holds us back.

  3. Munich and Cologne are also on our list, and we would love to return to Prague too! So, when do we go?


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