Accidental Discoveries: The Journey of Columbus

The name Christopher Columbus is synonymous with discovery, and every October his landing in the New World is celebrated with the day that bears his name. It became an official United States holiday in 1937, but the explorer’s exploits had been lauded long before that. Though it is now legendary, that sailing back in 1492 almost didn’t happen.

Columbus had originally appealed to Portugal’s King John II, since the Portuguese had already been established as the pre-eminent European explorers. Navigators like Bartholomeu Dias had departed from Lisbon (from Belem Tower, which you can see on The Douro: Portugal’s River of Gold & Spain), but when Columbus proposed the voyage that would eventually make him famous, the King refused.

Undeterred, Columbus eventually convinced King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to fund his expedition to find a western route to such rich Asian lands as China and India. He never made it there, but the rest is much-celebrated history. (You can make it to China or India much more successfully with Vantage. Check out Exotic India & the Sacred Ganges and Highlights of China & the Yangtze, among others.)

Columbus’s October landing marked the beginning of a new era of colonization of one of the most beautiful continents in the world: North America. You can be reminded just how stunning it is on our America’s Treasures: The U.S. National Parks and Canadian Rail Adventure & The Rockies.

Among other things, Columbus Day can remind us of the good that can come from accidental discoveries – the idea that great things can happen even when things don’t go according to plan. More than 500 years later, we certainly know how to get where we’re going – but the unexpected joys of travel continue to delight us.

We look forward to sharing some pleasant surprises with you on an upcoming Vantage journey!

This day is celebrated by countries throughout the world, including some we visit on these trips: