Let's See Those Places That Left an Indelible Impression in 2019

Although the year is coming to an end, 2019 will always live on through the memories created from the places we’ve gone and things we’ve seen. Sometimes it takes for us to take a break from the world to truly appreciate those places for the impressions they left. While I haven’t gotten the chance to venture outside NYC much this year, I figured I’d share one trip I took a few years ago I could never forget.


(Image: Dsdugan/Public Domain)

At least once a month I think my trip to the National Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. At the time, I was taking a class centered around women in the Holocaust and our professor suggested we all go as a class. I knew it would be a good opportunity to better understand the Holocaust more intimately, it was also my first trip back to the museum as an adult. While every exhibit inside left some type of impression, the Shoe Room remains my most vivid memory. The room is filled with thousands of shoes taken from the feet of prisoners as they arrived at the Majdanek concentration camp. The amount of shoes on display is truly staggering. To this day, the smell of the leather emitting from the shoes wafts under my nose whenever I reminisce about that day. Just the thought of something as personal as shoes being taken off the feet of men, women, and children, unaware of their fate was heartbreaking and eyeopening. That visit was made even more special because we also sat with a survivor and listened to her story of how she escaped Poland as Nazi forces closed in. A day I’ll never forget. That day further spurred my love for history and the desire to keep stories like hers alive.

In the thread below, tell us about some of the places you’ve visited this year that have left an indelible impression you will carry over into 2020. Where did you go and why? What did the visit teach you and did it change your perspective on anything? Why was this place or trip so special to you? Feel free to share funny, serious, eye-opening, or wacky memories from a place you visited in 2019, we are all ears! Be sure to include any pictures you have or can find. Your response and photo may be included in an upcoming round-up article on Atlas Obscura!

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One of my favorite museums for learning about the Holocaust.

The World War I memorial at Verdun France is very sobering. Over 300,000 deaths for the French and Germans. France along had over 377,000 casualties. These are not my photos (I am still scanning in my negatives from 1988). The memorial was built as a reminder of the evils of war, World War II had started before this memorial was complete. The local people carried the bones of those they found on their farms and are entombed below where you can see them.


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I visited the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery in 2009. The trip gave us an appreciation of what these servicemen suffered. Here are some more details from Wikipedia but the photos I took.

It is (known locally as the Don-Rak War Cemetery) is the main - POW cemetery. This cemetery is (Cemetery - Wikipedia) for victims of Japanese imprisonment while building the Burma Railway. It is on the main road, Saeng Chuto Road, through the town of Kanchanaburi, Thailand, adjacent to an older Chinese cemetery.

The cemetery was designed by Colin St Clair Oakes and is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. There are 6,982 POWs buried there, mostly Australian, British, and Dutch. It contains the remains of prisoners buried beside the south section of the railway from Bangkok to Nieke, excepting those identified as Americans, whose remains were repatriated.

There are 1,896 Dutch war graves, the rest being from Britain and the Commonwealth. Two graves contain the ashes of 300 men who were cremated. The Kanchanaburi Memorial gives the names of 11 from India who are buried in Muslim cemeteries.

Nearby, across a side road, is the Thailand–Burma Railway Centre about the railway and the prisoners who built it. There is also a Dutch Roman Catholic church nearby – Beata Mundi Regina.

The Holocaust Museum is indeed eye-opening. Vividly I remember the burst windows of Jewish stores or shops that Germans threw bricks through. And there was the smell of rotten vegetables and fruits left behind by Jews who had “disappeared.” If I’m not mistaken, the same thing happened in the South during the civil rights movement when Jews and colored people were friends. Some Jewish shops were vandalized and negative names chalked on the windows because the owners marched with those old foot soldiers of the movement.

I think that one day i will be visiting these places.i am still in the ivory coast of Africa. when i look at the comments of my brothers and sisters , i rest convinced that visiting such places contribute a lot to development of the minds of human -beings.

I’m voracious when it comes to seeing live music. I’m a big fan of Joe Henry and hadn’t seen him in ~20 years, he’s not a guy who tours. I took the trip to the west coast this year to see him at Largo, a well vaunted venue. I’ve seen a lot of venues, and it’s now in competition for the top spot with The Filene Center at Wolf Trap.

Along the topic of sobering museum visits, the War Remnants Museum in Saigon hit me especially hard. Learning about GI coffee houses in neighborhoods in which I’ve lived (Mission District, SF) and Cleveland Plain Dealer breaking a major warm crimes story made the displays feel close to home. The stories of solider resistance (like the Presidio 27) were inspiring. Images of US veterans returning to Vietnam to visit and care for agent orange victims made me simply break down, and seeing some of those disabled by AO upstairs playing in a band for tips was again sobering, but also sweet and heartwarming. While most would argue this isn’t the most balanced or “accurate” representation of the war, it did leave a last impression on me.

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I finally returned to Galway and Aran Islands, 44 years after my first visit in 1975. It was magical, mystical, and wonderful.![DSC00522|666x500]

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Soajo in Portugal
A place found via Atlasobscura. I liked this place Very much.
If you are in the north of Portugal, go here.
Here you fond old grain chambers…i hope I Can upload a picture

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I had never been to any of the “STANs” before but The Silk Road had always captured my imagination. Uzbekistan was an eye opener. The cities are so old but so clean. No litter, no graffiti. Only saw one begger. A few Roma. They have fast trains, we got to 230 kms per hr. The 4 Ms, mosques, minarets, madrassas and museums were all eye candy. The oldest place I saw was a 2,300 year old fort, eroded and desolate. Tashkent, the capital has a micro climate. Saw a banana plant in someone garden, in November! The people were polite and friendly, wanting to practice their English. There were modern cars but the occasional donkey car sharing the road. They are a very arty, crafty people. Could have come away with a suitcase ful of souvenirs at good prices. It was a memorable trip.

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A native festival in a tribal village of Nagaland in North East corner of India bordering Burma/Myanmar. We were treated as special guests enjoying the festivities, watching the dances in beautiful handwoven traditional costumes, songs and greased pole climbing competitions. We were invited to share the food and home made beer. We were shown around the village including a giant traditional drum used for communicating big news of new births or enemy at the gate.

Sadly there are not many places left where ethnic displays go beyond a dance show for the tourists with cheaply made replicas of old costumes.
But when you get to the places where people still live within their authentic culture, the pull is strong.

I recently came across a remarkable British woman, a Margaret Mead of Nagaland. As a young graduate in 1930’s Ursula Graham Bower went to visit a British friend in India and upon her first foray into a Naga village fell in love with the tribe and their way of life. She spent 7 years with them, taking thousands of photographs and even films. During the Japanese invasion in WW II she trained and commanded a force of 150 Naga warriors and was dubbed the Naga Queen.
In some remote villages one could still find old men with traditional tatoos protecting them in battle.

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I was privileged and excited to visit Castle Air Museum for the first time in 2019. As an Air Force veteran it was eye-popping to see so many great aircraft on display. It is a little out of the way in the middle of the Central Valley of California - which of course suited it well during its heyday as an outpost of the USAF’s Strategic Air Command. But it is beyond worthwhile to get there and see the many beautiful and historic planes, among them an SR-71 and an Air Force One (presidential airplane).

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My dad was stationed in Bitburg AFB, Germany in the late 60s. My sophomore American history class went to Verdun on a field trip while studying WWII. I still remember how quiet and solemn it felt there. I remember being told that there were still pockets of mustard gas in the area that had been buried. I was 15 then, now I’m 65 and it still stays with me. The American cemetery in Luxembourg is another sad beautiful place. Patton is buried there, still at the head of his soldiers.

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After checking Atlas Obscura for Massachusetts this past summer, my bestie and I visited two obscure sites: the Poet’s Seat Tower in Greenfield and the New England Peace Pagoda In nearby Leverett, MA. Thanks Atlas Obscura for these amazing finds! Elizabeth Quigley

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These are all great everyone and thanks for sharing! Sure looks like last year was a memorable one and hopefully 2020 will be even better!