Finding out about your ancestors can be just going through genealogical records. I have friends and cousins who have done that, and I have to admit, it is interesting... but for me, it's much more exciting to travel to see where those ancestors came from. Let me tell you a couple of stories of our own that might get you thinking about traveling and finding your roots.
The first time we went to Europe, we began in Norway and Scotland because I claim to be mostly Norwegian, and my spouse has a Scottish surname... good enough reason, don't you think? That first trip was just a look see; a visit to say we had been to "the homeland". It also whetted our appetites for more.
The next time we went to Norway, we had friends to visit there, and I talked to that cousin who has done the genealogical research on our family. She put me in touch with an e-mail friend. We met him in Norway and took him to dinner, and he told us where we could find Grampa's hometown.
It didn't take a lot of research on my part. A couple of e-mails, a willingness to meet a stranger, and time enough to make the drive to a town 10 hours away... but let me tell you, I was so excited when we rounded the bend in that corner of Norway and saw the sign for the town... the same as my maiden name.
It just put a whole new twist on that trip. There wasn't even much to see in the pretty little town, but it was fun to talk to the people, find Great-grampa's name in their genealogy book, and see the church.... Proof to me that finding your roots can be just priceless.
We toured Scotland a few times. One time I bought a kilted skirt in our tartan, and while we were in that shop, we saw a book on the Clans of Scotland and where they came from. When we came home, we did a little searching on the internet, and we found the little town where my hubby's "people" came from.... and we learned that there had been a little castle there. A castle?!? Wow.
So we planned a trip to find it. Planned may be a little too strong a word.
We flew to Glasgow, rented a car, and drove to where we thought the town should be. The narrow road we were on didn't look promising so we asked some locals if they knew anything about a castle. It was less promising when they said no... but eventually we talked to someone who told us about a pub with some information.
By that night, we were in a hotel in a town of about 20, and had walking directions to what was left of the castle.... which by the way is a "wee pile of stones" and has been for centuries. But you know what? That just didn't matter... it was another priceless moment.
Doesn't that sound like fun. We like to plan trips with a "hook"... something we're looking for, a reason to take the trip rather that just ticking off a country. Finding your roots can be a great reason for traveling.
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Article Added on Sunday, January 16, 2011
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