How did you stay sane during 2020?

Did you pick up a new crafting hobby, fitness, or self-care routine? For me, it was planning a trip. Not just any trip, the perfect trip. Researching the cities, what to eat, and where to go was like a window into a future world where travel was possible again and I could go anywhere.

At any given time, I have two potential trips in mind and at least three distant future possibilities. Whether it’s a drive up to Michigan to see the lake and family and friends, a flight to New York City to see a show and the museums, or a trip halfway around the world, I love the idea that I will see something brand new to me. Sometimes these things are very old, like a medieval castle in Ireland, or very new like a random pop-up tater tot restaurant in NYC.

A few years ago, Greenwood Public Library partnered with Becky Squires with Tilson Travel to plan a literary tour of Scotland and Ireland. I was lucky enough to go. It was my first time leaving the country (Canada doesn’t count when you grew up in Michigan, it’s just across a bridge). It turned out to be a very dangerous trip because as soon as we got into Edinburgh, I never wanted to leave. I’ve never had a place instantly feel like it was where I belonged so quickly.

Ireland is just as gorgeous. Take a moment and look up a picture of the library at Trinity College in Dublin. Now picture a librarian walking into that room. I might have cried, don’t judge me. Sadly, I did eventually have to come home.

And then GPL announced it was doing another trip in partnership with Becky Squires now with Mayflower Cruises & Tours. A river cruise up the Danube from Budapest, Hungary to Passua, Germany followed by a flight to Prague. And since the library gets a percentage of the money, you will also be supporting GPL. I signed up almost immediately. Seriously, there may have been sprinting involved and I am not a runner.

In May of 2024, we will be setting sail with Mayflower Cruises & Tours. After flying into Budapest, we will get two days in the city before setting off to our next destination. The river cruise will stop in Bratislava, Vienna, Durnstein-Melk, Linz, and Passau. Then we hop a quick flight to Prague and get to spend two days exploring.

There will be different options at every stop depending on your preference of city tour, culinary excursion, historical sites and more. In Budapest, you can visit Buda Castle and explore the medieval paths and alleyways nearby, as well as take in the amazing culinary scene. At the top of my list is to stop at the Sacher Hotel in Vienna, the home of the original chocolate Sacher Torte. That is definitely a bucket list-worthy stop. Our stop in Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic includes a 13th Century castle and a 15th Century church. In Prague’s Old Town Square, you can see the historical astronomical clock, first installed in 1410.

In addition, they have bikes on the ship that you can use to explore. One of the only times the boat will travel during the day is in the Wachau Valley in Austria. Travelers will have the option to bike through the valley rather than stay on board the boat. If you choose this option, you might be accompanied by two of your favorite librarians doing their best — yet still terrible — attempt at songs from “The Sound of Music.”

Becky Squires will be at GPL on March 23rd at 6:30 p.m. to give a complete overview of the trip and answer any and all of your questions. She actually did this trip a few months ago, so she has firsthand knowledge of all the cities and the boats themselves. You can register at As a heads up to anyone who is interested, if you reserve your spot before March 31, your airfare is free.

Aubrey Watson is an Adult Services Librarian at Greenwood Public Library. GPL staff members share in writing this twice-monthly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected]


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