Forget about getting your breath back from Aimee's trip to Hawaii - we are high-fiving at the airport as I (Elissa) head to Europe today! YEEEEW!
What's not to love about Europe?! (Apart from the really long plane trip to get there, a history of subjugation of far-flung colonies and icy, dark winters - let it not be said that I am not a realist!) There are hundreds of things I love about the continent that gave birth to Western culture but here are my top five...
- Long summer days. Being a Queenslander (even in summer, the sun sets by 6.30pm), the novelty of the sun going down after 9pm leaves me giddy as a school girl. There's nothing quite like a cider under an apple tree in broad daylight at 8pm. I feel like I'm getting maximum value for day - and on holidays, getting the most from each day is even better!
- Artisan culture. I love being able to meet the person who made this particular wheel of cheese and that special vintage of wine. And I love that in this part of the world, it's not a big deal - it's just the way it should be. Every French town has their own speciality but everyone does a pretty great local version of staple goodies. Why would you import them from miles away when you can make it yourself?
- Embedded history. There's nowhere quite like Europe for incorporating centuries-old remains into the streetscape. That fountain you're leaning on has probably been here since 1530. There probably isn't even a sign, because there is heaps of that stuff around here. And why wouldn't you be allowed to climb and dream and live on it?
- People are better at just being. We were in a town called Riparbella near Pisa, Italy a few years ago. We were lost and doing several (increasingly frenzied) laps of the town trying to find the turn-off to our hotel. Every time we went past one particular doorway (and this circling went on for the best part of an hour), I noticed an older gentleman standing there looking out over the street. He didn't seem to think there was anything more demanding of his time than keeping an eye on the street. And that's not unusual in rural Italy or France or many other parts of Europe.
- The difference a few miles makes. Here in Australia, you can travel for thousands of kilometres and still find yourself among the same sort of pubs, people and places that you left behind you. In Europe, lots of countries are only a few hundred kilometres across - and crossing the border means crossing into an entirely different language, food and cultural tradition. Fantastique!
So buckle up wanderlusters - England, Spain and France here we come!