Guys, I have a confession. This may not come as a surprise to you but I’m completely smitten by Europe.
I am a total Europhile: A person who is fond of, admires, or even loves European culture, society, history, food, etc. I know that it’s ridiculously expensive compared to popular backpacker trails in Southeast Asia and South America, but I don’t care. It’s like something magnetic keeps pulling me back to the cobblestone streets and fairy-tale castles that first intrigued me as a child. I just can’t get enough.
Next week I’ll be traveling back to one of the first European countries I ever visited, Greece! Since my inaugural visit back in 2003 I have traveled in 16 European countries on 6 separate trips and spent nearly one year of my life on European soil. I’m no Rick Steves but I’ve certainly seen my fair share.
And while I’m off collecting beautiful photographs, hilarious stories, and moments that I’ll cherish for a lifetime… I thought it fitting to reflect on just a few of the reasons why I love this part of the world so much.
There is something so romantic about train travel. And even though I’ve had some less than glamourous overnight journeys on sleeper trains… I still get giddy at the thought of it. Maybe it’s the click clack of the station flip boards or the way the gentle rocking always lulls me to sleep. Maybe it’s all the famous film farewell scenes with lovers blowing kisses from the caboose. Something about train travel (and especially in Europe) feels magical and always transports me to days gone by. It’s efficient. It’s affordable. And the scenery doesn’t suck either.
I love that so many of the great European cities have a completely walkable city centre, often anchored by a beautiful river. I rarely have to use public transit during my European travels. Perusing major tourist sites on foot and casually wandering through nearby neighbourhoods is without-a-doubt my favourite way to see a city. Often as a broke backpacker, transit and even entrance fees were too much for my meager pocket book – but fortunately walking around is completely FREE! I love that! Some personal favourites – Amsterdam, Bruges, Edinburgh, Florence, Munich, Paris, Salzburg, and Venice.
Cheap. Plentiful. Unrestricted. I don’t think Europeans know how good they have it. We here in North America pay a not-so-pretty premium for alcohol in all its forms and face steep fines if we’re caught drinking in public spaces. In Canada, we are very behind the ball and can only buy liquor in designated stores although apparently select wine and spirits are coming to grocery stores in the never near enough future. Europe just does it better. I cannot tell you how lovely it is to sip a glass of wine with dinner without stressing about blowing my budget. They say the beer is cheaper than water… and they are usually right!
North America has definitely caught on to the street food appeal with its plethora of trendy (and pricey) food trucks in most urban cities. However, once again, Europe does this way better! Not only is their street food delicious and iconic but it’s also super cheap. I cannot even fathom visiting Turkey and NOT eating a doner kebab from a street vendor or going to Paris and not ordering a Nutella-Banana crepe from the side window of a café. I’m already salivating.
I live in a young city that is really still a baby at 129 years old, especially when compared with ancient greats like Rome and Athens. When I travel in Europe I get to walk where 2000 years of former generations have stood. I get to see the ruins of ancient civilizations and visit the most famous monuments of all time. These cities are steeped in a rich history with fascinating stories just waiting to be uncovered. I don’t know about you… but I think that is pretty cool.
Do you love Europe as much as I do? What do you enjoy most?