Where do I start? Regular readers will know that I just can’t get enough of Europe and, fortunately for me, I get to feed my passion for all things European once a year on my annual two month holiday.
Each time I visit Europe, I like to include a mix of new destinations and some old favourites but there often seems to be a recurring theme to the places I visit.
I guess you could say these are my favourite things about Europe and the reasons I keep returning.
My favourite things about Europe
Gorgeous coloured buildings
A large portion of my travel photos tend to feature pretty streets lined with gorgeous coloured buildings. From the pastel hues of Appenzell in Switzerland to the gelato colours of Lake Como and the Cinque Terre – and everything in between – I love them all.
Here’s a selection of my favourites. From left to right, top to bottom they are: Appenzell, Switzerland; Bergen, Norway; Fussen, Germany; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Colmar, France; and Vernazza (Cinque Terre), Italy.
Centuries’ old traditions
I do have a soft spot for the German speaking countries in Europe (no doubt due to my husband’s background) and one of my favourite ‘sights’ in southern Germany, and even Austria, is to see traditional costumes being worn by staff in shops and restaurants.
To see a women decked out in her dirndl or a man in his lederhosen is wonderful. I can’t help but think that in Australia it would be seen as a bit nerdy to wear a traditional costume to work every day but it is well and truly embraced in Germany and Austria – and for that I am very glad.
Of course, I can’t overlook the food in Europe. A hearty wiener schnitzel, creme brûlée, pasta, apple strudel, and even fish and chips in England.
All of these seem to taste SO much better when eaten in the country that they originate from. And who can resist a picnic of a fresh, crusty baguette, a slice of local ham and some cheese? Ham and cheese sandwiches at home NEVER taste this good!
Europe often gets a bad wrap for its coffee but I don’t mind it. Especially when my cappuccino comes topped with whipped cream!
Often called a Viennese coffee, I’ve been served this many times and not only in Austria. One such cappuccino that I was served in the south of France even came with a straw!
Like many visitors to Europe, I am always awe struck by the history. Wandering through churches that are 1000 years old, you can become a bit blasé but when you stop and put it into perspective, it will blow your mind.
Coming from a country that was only discovered by Europeans just over 200 years ago, it is hard to imagine that 800 years prior to that churches and castles, that we can still visit today, were being built. And then there’s the Pont du Gard – 2000 years of history still stands proudly in the south of France.
No trip to Europe would be complete without a visit to the local market. Smaller towns, in particular, still hold a weekly market where locals gather to purchase the freshest in-season produce and have a natter.
Markets really are the heart and soul of these small towns and they are a great place to pick up the makings for a picnic or buy a locally handcrafted souvenir to take home.
And if you’re lucky enough to be visiting Europe from late November, a visit to a Christmas market is a must. This is the place to buy your Christmas ornaments, eat gingerbread and freshly roasted chestnuts and sip gluhwein (warm mulled wine).
The Flower Boxes
Most of my visits to Europe are during the European summer and I love seeing the colourful window boxes that adorn so many of the buildings. There’s no doubting that Europeans love their flowers and great pride is taken in having a lush display of brightly coloured blooms.
No matter how often I’ve tried to replicate this look at home, I still fail. My blooms are getting better but I still have a long way to go!
The Alps, lakes and fjords
If there’s one thing that always draws me back to Europe it is the stunning scenery.
To me, heaven is a crystal clear lake or a shimmering fjord at the foot of a snow-capped mountain. Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Italy offer an abundance of lakes and mountains, whilst Norway is THE place to go to see fjords, and nowhere (apart from (Oz) do I feel more at home than here.
Breathing in the fresh alpine air and taking in the beauty around me is one of my favourite things to do in Europe.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about (and seeing) my favourite things in Europe. Even better, I hope they give you the desire to visit this beautiful and diverse continent, too.