There are more reasons to travel to Europe than we can count. Why? It’s a destination like no other in the world. Vivid scenery of the snow-capped Bavarian Alps, or ancient ruins of Pompeii to Notre Dame its beauty at its best. Food is so incredibly delicious you savor every bite. It’s no wonder more tourists are flocking to Europe every year. You couldn’t contain the all reasons to visit in one single article let alone a book. Instead I will list some of my favorite reasons of why it draws our hearts and imaginations to visit.
A Man’s Home is His Castle
What do you think of when you hear the word castle? Disneyland? Royal kings and queens? Dungeons and Dragons or historic tales of the past? The allure of European castles are not just about the architecture, but the romance of lives lived long ago. From the time you reach the grand entrance of the castle you know there are stories of historic proportion. Battles, love, hate, intrigue, deception, extravagant parties, conspiracy, scamming and scheming, even murder! These are just a few of the events that have happened over the centuries behind the walls of the hold. Entering the castle you can’t help but notice how opulent the decor is, from floor to ceiling is almost overwhelming. Some castles are built with hand carved woods adorned with intricate golden filigree. Or gleaming crystal chandeliers in the main ballroom with hand carved mythical gods bent over holding up the ceiling. Walls plastered with paintings of the past rulers and top achievements in their lives. While others are abandoned rock and concrete structures behind tall walls of protection. Towers that lead to the ramparts where you can see imposing invaders hell-bent on overtaking the region. Castle’s are found throughout Europe so wherever your destination leads you there should be one fairly close to visit.
You will be ruined for more after this
All you want to do is just run your hands down the tall ancient columns to get a feel of the past. Reaching high into the sky and once very ornate the temple ruins must have been a jewel to see for their time. Deeply etched marble carvings of past battles, mythological hero’s and love stand out along the roofline also called the Pedimental Triangle. Realistic statues sitting in their rounded coves dominate the facade. You need a few minutes to take it all in and imagine what the buildings looked like during their bustling heyday. Walking down once busy hallways its strange but you can almost invasion long robed priests with leafy wreaths on the heads walking through the hallways. Vestal virgins keeping the goddess Vesta’s fire burning for fear they would be put to death if it went out. People lining up outside the temple to give their offerings and vendors selling sacrificial animals to those who didn’t bring their offering with them. But now we look at what is left of a once busy and vibrant city and see beauty and history.
Take Your Pick
When planning your trip you need to make the choice on where to go. That’s half the fun! Are you looking for romance? Paris, Venice and Prague should be at the top of your list. Walking along the River Seine at sunset as the lights in Notre Dame glow onto the smooth water is a good start. Take in the view of the Eiffel Tower from top of Notre Dame Cathedral, or the soaring views over Paris at Sacre Coeur. Rome has a “WOW” factor of 10 when you first set your eyes on the Roman Coliseum, almost crying the first time you look up at Michelangelo’s ceiling masterpiece at the Sistine Chapel. Take a ride on the London Eye and get an eye full of the city. Afterwards fill up on world renown British fish and chips at a local pub or getting your shop on at Harrod’s. Take a nice, easy bike ride along the Netherland’s bike route or be serenaded by a gondolier while floating in gondola at Venice. Ride a funicular up to Anacapri on the Isle of Capri. Mountain climbing for the adventurous, or snow skiing the Bavarian Alps maybe even rafting down the Dordogne River is your idea of a fun trip. You can always find excitement and fun in Europe.
All Squared Up
Europe has one thing over other continents, the Old Town Squares. Slender cobblestone streets filter into the most historic section of the town where you will often find the city hall, town clock, statues and fountains.Restaurants with umbrella tables filled with patrons sipping a cappuccino sitting back in a relaxing atmosphere. Although it’s probably the busiest place in the city it’s also the closest you will get to the culture of the locals. This is the place where you will see how they react with each other and how they dress. Outdoor concerts are quite popular and can draw a crowd quickly. Quite a few town squares will have a vibrant market with local produce and stalls that sell leathers, clothing, local arts, and foods. Christmas time brings a whole new atmosphere too with brightly decorated kiosks selling colorful and sometimes unusual ornaments, and interesting gifts to bring back home. The aroma of apple strudel, gingerbread and hot mulled wines beckon you to the booth to give them a try. Town squares will have a historic church that was the gathering place of the people when the town began. The bells from the church ring, echoing through the streets let you know that this is Europe.
A Night at the Museum
History buff? Art connoisseur? Statue observer? Europe has some of the most interesting and historic relics in the world. The art we grew up learning about in school are there for us see with our own eyes. Who wouldn’t want to see the statue of Venus or the first machine to create chocolate? One of my favorites is a large Renoir in Amsterdam where the painted glass goblets looked so real you felt you could take one down and drink from it. The original fortress of Paris is still standing below the Louvre Museum in Paris not to mention Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Like a little tech with your museum visit? Deutsches Museum in Munich is dedicated to scientific marvels. Love aircraft, locomotives and vintage vehicles you can see the history of transportation at the Technik Museum Speyer. A trip to a museum will enhance not only your interests but also your vacation.
Floating Down a River
Danube, Rhine, Seine, Dordogne, bike paths that takes days. Long lazy delta’s that merge into rivers that pass by tree-lined villages with half-timbered buildings. The town square clock towers dominate the skyline dotted with white puffy clouds. A regional train sounding the horn to let drivers know they are coming into town. Sailing around a wide bend in the river atop a sandstone ridge is a small abandoned castle and if the sun is just right leaves a colorful reflection on the water. Villages lit up at night outlining the historic buildings.
Dance Until Dawn
Some travelers don’t get going until the sun goes down. With bars and night clubs in many cities staying open until the sun comes up there is a lot of partying to do. Prague is famous for its jazz clubs, Paris wild rock and dancing, Barcelona has easy to eat tapas and drinks, sit in St. Mark’s Square listening to music with a glass of local wine.
Parks and Recreation
No one can do it better than Europe for fantastical gardens. Versailles tops the list for palatial opulence. Wander through hidden coves where the affluent would have their romantic trysts, mythical fountains around every corner, marble statues popping up when you least expect it and vivid florals strategically planted for added effect. Schönbrunn historic zoo lies underneath the Gloriette where you can sit with a local beer up on the hill on a sunny day enjoying the view of the palace and gardens. Sanssoucci Palace Gardens near Potsdam has miles of flat trails in trees and hidden gardens. The Tea House is a nice stop and the Chinese House is a stunner with oriental flare and golden rococo decor. There are so many impressive parks and gardens throughout Europe its hard to pick a favorite.
Mountains of Fun
Snow capped rugged mountains call out to sports enthusiasts from all over the world. Winter olympics are not only held in the Alps but training camps for hopefuls are held throughout the year. Although professionals spend a lot of time in the Alps it won’t stop adventurers from having their fun too. Skiing the number one winter sport has half-timbered villages where you leave your hotel front door and you are on the slopes. Summer months cater to hikers, cyclists, fishing in the alpine lakes and fishing.
Calling all shopaholics!
Leaving the best for last, you can’t visit Europe without at least one shopping spree! Europe has the most desirable shops with regional specialties you just can’t pass up. Murano glass from Venice, Belgian Lace throughout Belgium, Bohemian Crystal from Prague, hand carved wood from Oberammergau. Students learning the art of wood carving are trained for years in Oberammergau. Cuckoo clocks and drindls from Bavaria or Limoncello from Sicily, inlaid woods from Sorrento, Italian Gold and chic fashions from Florence and Milan. Herring from Sweden and Calvados from Normandy. This is barely touching the shopping market in Europe but you get the idea, lots of fun things can be found on your trip.
There are so many more reasons to make your next vacation in Europe. I didn’t even get to the foods yet but as meals go I don’t think any place in the world can compete with Parisian Croissants and Macarons. Or spicy Sicilian pizzas and pastas, Hungarian goulash, British fish and chips, Nuremberg sausages, Swiss fondue, Norwegian smorgasbord and of course fresh made Gelato! But I’ll save these ideas for another time.