Friday, July 1, 2011

Europe's Top 6 Experiences

Fodor's Travel Intelligence website came up with another list, "Europe's Top 6 Experiences." I liked it, so here is my take on their variety of ideas for having a rich, meaningful time in this fabulous continent.

#1. Step Back in Time:
Experience History

History? Europe? Are you kidding me!

Europe is History. How can you not enjoy the museums, castles and iconic images that we have all grown up idolizing in a Western Civilization based country like the U.S. of A.?

Emperor Constantine's Statue
outside the York Minster

The Emperor who outlawed the persecution of the early Christians.

In Hoc Signo Vince.

London's Big Ben

The Eiffel Tower

Paris . . . iconic, wonderful, romantic

Notre Dame

Victor Hugo's novel saved it from ruin. I'm glad the boy could write.

The Arc de Triomphe

Commisioned in 1806 to commemorate Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz, it wasn't completed until 1836.

Yes, the Nazis did a victory march through it in 1940.

Historic indeed.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

If it was good enough for one of Galileo's most famous experiments, so it's good enough for us!

St. Peter's Basilica

The global seat of the Catholic Church with the Eternal City of Rome all around it . . . enough said.

Greek Temples in Agrigento, Sicily

And then there is Venice . . .

. . . with its Gondolas . . .

. . . its Romantic, EXPENSIVE Gondolas

Where is Shylock?

Berlin's Brandenburg Gate

So much of the Cold War centered around this tremendous city.

Onion Domes in Tallinn, Estonia

Speaking of the Cold War, how many people were not allowed to worship freely in the old Iron Curtain countries like Estonia?

The Swedish Legislature in Stockholm

From here, the Swedes have been officially neutral in armed conflicts for over 200 years now.

Unofficially, not so much perhaps.

Kronborg Castle
Helsingør, Denmark

"Hamlet's Castle" is the scene of one of the Bard's most famous plays.

So much of Europe's History is bright, shiny and in your face.

Sometimes it is sublime . . .

Kids at Play in a Madrid Courtyard

Did you notice all of the pock marks in the wall near this building's doors? Those marks are from a savage fire fight attack on this building and the people inside of it during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s.

Somtimes it is as dark as is inhumanely possible . . .

Dachau, Germany

Near Kraków, Poland

If you love the History Channel, then you too will fall in love with Europe.

#2. Drink Up:
Best Wine and Beer

The Gambino Winery, Sicily

Wine in Europe is a spledid alternative to water with a meal.

The Murgo Winery, Sicily

EVERY meal as it turns out. This is truly one of the great culinary customs in Europe.

Beer in Germany

Pretty damn good!

A Munich Beer Garden

A warm Spring day and a couple of cold beverages made for a good experience.

I only had two, honest!

Prague's Black Panther Beer Hall

We had more than two fantastic Czech beers on this sizzling Summer night.

Danish Beer on the
Helsingør, Denmark to
Helsingborg, Sweden Ferry

Good even in ice cold cans.

Now while the wine and beer in Europe is great, don't forget . . .

Genuine CUBAN Rum

It's smooth and legal in Europe! We have got to lift that damned embargo soon.

Fundo Bianco, Sicily

The category is "Wine and Beer," stay away from shots at all times and in all continents, hemispheres and planets!


Stick with the Delicious Wine

#3. Getting Around:
Hike, Bike and Drive

Transportation in Europe is always exciting, interesting and a bit of an adventure.

Hiking can be a daily rewarding experience even if it is only to walk into town to buy the day's supplies or to saunter on a 500 mile pilgrimmage in Spain.

Pilgrim's Julie Ouellette (Canada),
Trine Beck (Denmark) and
Michelle Hahn (Germany)

Good bless them and all of my fellow pilgrims!

If you don't want to walk or want to move a little quicker, then buy or rent a bike.

Lund, Skåne, Sweden

But watch out for those . . .

. . . Biker Chick's!!!

A bike is still not fast enough for your tastes?

Try a Vespa!

If danger isn't your thing, alright then, let's move up to a . . .

. . . Smart Car or a . . .

. . . Vintage Fiat 500

Bring some Duct Tape just in case

If you do opt for driving, traffic can be interesting.

Small Streets, Big Trucks

Alternately expect delays, the Indianaplois 500 or . . .

. . . some Sheep in the Road . . .

. . . Maybe a Tank or Two

Of Course,
European Parking Techniques are Intriguing

Oslo, Norway

If all of these transportation options scare you so far, use the Metro systems in place in all of Europe's major cities.

Train Station, Bayonne, France

If driving long distances is not your cup of tea, buy a train ticket. You'll pass incredible scenery and meet interesting people, guaranteed!

Still gunshy?

You Could Travel by Horse

As for me,
I like a gentle stroll every now and again

#4. Get Your Caffiene Fix:
Coffee, Cafés and Tea Time

I must admit that I do not recall sipping a single drop of tea ever in Europe.

Coffee, now that's another story indeed.

Stockholm, Sweden

If you asked me which I drank more of in Europe, wine or coffee, I would have to say it was probably a tie.

Wait a second, coffee always meant a delicious pastry or granite as well. Change that, I probably drank a lot more coffee.

Coffee was GREAT whether by myself . . .

. . . with Laurie or . . .

. . . with Laurie and Michael

It was good in Prague . . .

. . . It Was Good in Skåne, Sweden . . .

. . . It Was Good in Tallinn, Estonia . . .

. . . It Was Good in Vienna . . .

There was no bad spot for coffee in Europe, no matter the country or the size of the city, town or village.

Coffee in a European café with friends in lively discussions or just people watching is a must!

Of course the mandatory sweets are . . .

. . . FANTASTIC!!!

I think that Laurie would agree

#5. Hit the Beach:
The Mediterranean and Beyond

The Crystal Clear Water
at Sicily's Mondelo Beach


Stunning Rock Beaches
in Italy's Cinque Terre

Aci Trezza, Sicily

The waters are always clear and refreshing and full of very, very . . .

. . . Interesting People

Cefalú, Sicily

What a town, what a beach. . .

I usually bring along a book
to read while I lay out

The beaches can get crowded
but the services provided are oh so good

We Loved the Med!

#6. Go Slow:
Not Just for Food

In 1976, ground was broken for the new, state of the art, multi-million dollar Westlake High School due to open in September of 1978. I was named as Westlake's first ever Head Football Coach, my first ever Head Coaching job, and was excited to get things going. Imagine everyone's huge disappointment when we found out that the new campus would not be ready on time and we couldn't move in until January, 1979, after the Christmas Break. It forced us into double sessions for 3 1/2 months at Newbury Park H.S.


How could it take so long? That would be a typical question to the typical Type-A American personality but not in Europe.

In Europe things just happen, maybe quickly but probably not. There is no hurry, all in due time.

Antonin Gaudí's Sagrada Familia Basilica
in Barcelona, Spain

While those involved with the over two years that it took to finish Westlake H.S. could not understand what was taking so blessed long, the Spanish have a great lesson in patience for us in the construction of Gaudí's masterpiece.

Ground was first broken on this Basilica in 1882 and the current projected finish date is 2026!

That's 144 years of construction!

Gaudí died in 1926, how many other people have had a hand in the Basilica's painstaking building but have not or will not be alive to see its completion?

Europe is all about taking life slowly and enjoying every second of it.

Europe is Type-B.

Take time to hang out with the guys

Or to Check Out the Guys

Still, food in Europe is the best of all things about slowness. The dining experience is to be savored from start to finish.

Cooking is Both Slow and Communal

Eating is also Slow and Communal

To prepare a meal at home means shopping, but not usually at an American style super market. In Europe, the best meals start with slow but interesting shopping in specialty markets.

There are many decisions to be made.

For instance, for a main dish should we opt for . . .

Meat . . .

. . . or Fish

or Both?

What Wine Goes With What Dish?

I must admit that I did not taste or purchase any of these "exotic" labels in Cinque Terre, Italy.

Of course, cheese is a MUST!

As is fresh produce

and then the right dessert
must also be selected

It takes a lot of time to buy all of the right ingredients, more time to prepare them properly and then at least three hours to dine and converse leisurely in the European fashion.

Or You Could Go Out for Dinner

Either way, take your time, savor the meal and the people that you break bread with.

Oh my God,
I forgot to buy the bread!!!


Anonymous said...

Lugi-Limhamn ended with a 32-13 victory for the Griffins

George said...

Thank you for the update.