Many adventure seekers write-off Europe as the Disneyland of world travel destinations. While it’s home to ancient cities, beautiful landscapes, and a very diverse range of cultures, Europe is also exceptionally established. Every viable nook and cranny has been explored, surveyed, and settled centuries ago while the tourism industry is perpetually on point.
In other words, there doesn’t appear to be much prospect for adventure when planning a trip to Europe. Everywhere you go, somebody is either already there or on their way. Picking which underwear to pack sounds more exciting. Is this really true?
Despite these apparent limits on one’s ability to experience an original and unadulterated adventure across Europe, the continent still has plenty of excitement to offer adventure seekers. This is especially true when one considers the incredible and oftentimes intense history of Europe, a timeline which culminates with the continent turning into ground zero for the most destructive conflict to ever befall the human race to-date.
The potential for adventure in Europe is highlighted by the tale of Trevor, a personal friend of mine with an obsession for vinyl records. Not just any vinyl records, mind you, but those from a very distinct time and place. While his seemingly antique wooden record player might be brand new, his album collection consists of records which are pushing 90 years old.
Trevor specifically collects jazz and swing music records which were sold in Germany during the years of the Weimar Republic, which were from the end of the First World War until the Nazis came to power in 1933. These records are exceptionally rare due to the fact the Nazis banned these musical genres, a decision made based on the perception that popular music made by African-Americans was a threat to their racist ideology.
After a decade or two of dedicated collecting, Trevor exhausted all of his stateside leads. To track down more of these rare vinyl records, he would have to make a trip to Europe. For nearly two months, Trevor traveled by train from one town to the next, visiting record stores and attempting to cross language barriers to find leads on where to find a trove.
The journey took Trevor from Paris – where the ban on music was difficult to enforce and therefore the records more likely to be found – all the way to the Bavarian mountain ranges used by the Nazis as headquarters during the war. In between were countless towns and villages scattered across France, Belgium, and Germany.
As Trevor put, his obsession with collecting pre-war jazz records became a portal for a European adventure he will never forget. From sleeping in barns to crashing on couches, his unpredictable itinerary meant he never knew where he would lay his head down at night. If that isn’t an adventure, I don’t know what is.
For those who think Europe is devoid of a real adventure, consider the continent’s history. The reasons one might think they can’t experience authentic adventure in Europe are the same reasons European adventure is still possible.