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October 29, 2013 | Tim Hauserman
I recently returned from a trip to central Europe. It’s always interesting for someone who lives in a popular vacation destination such as Tahoe to change roles and become a tourist for a change. Just like we do in Tahoe, the folks in Krakow or Budapest are putting their best foot forward to woo visitors into their businesses and restaurants. In these thousand year old cities, the focus is on their ancient churches, fascinating culture, and interestingly, their recent horrific history (You did not want to live in Hungary in the 20th Century and Auschwitz is a popular attraction just outside of Krakow). Here in Tahoe, it is simpler, we just point to our boundless beauty and the incredible recreation opportunities.
It is especially intriguing to visit the countries that only 20 years ago were under the yolk of Russian communist oppression. They are now blossoming in their economic freedom, opening new businesses and embracing ideas that would have only been a dream a quarter of a century ago. It was heartening to witness a statue of Ronald Reagan in a park in Budapest overlooking the Hungarian Parliament. A small measure of appreciation for what freedom has meant to them.
In the middle of the trip we spent a week on a Viking riverboat cruise along the Danube. If you were ever curious to take such a trip, I highly recommend it. The ships relatively small size, and the ease of access provided to the charming historic towns you float by, make for a fascinating trip .The Viking Njord had about 150 passengers whose place of residency seemed to be evenly divided between the United States, Canada and England. Every meal was an opportunity to meet new people, and of course most conversations would begin with “Where are you from?” Invariably we received two reactions when we said we were from Lake Tahoe. The first went something like this: “Oh my God, what a lovely place! You are so lucky to live there…” And the second, fortunately less common reaction: They’d never heard of it.
So in other words, the only people who don’t love Lake Tahoe, are the ones who haven’t been here yet.
Our trip to Europe was an awesome opportunity to expand horizons and appreciate history. But upon our return it was also a chance for a wonderful reality check. There really is no place like home.