I AM AN UNABASHED EUROPHILE. It really is my continent of choice and I happily travel there often. Perhaps it’s because I have such marvellous memories of my first trip abroad from England to Paris and the South of France with my parents at the very impressionable age of 10. I recall so much of those two weeks – from crossing the English Channel, to shopping at Galeries LaFayette in Paris, strolling the grand Parisian boulevards, taking the overnight train to Avignon from the exquisite Gare de Lyon station and the old-fashioned Wagon-Lits carriages we slept in for a night, with our car loaded at the back of the train.
We then had a wondrous drive through the glories of Provence and the Riviera on scenic winding roads – some through the mountains, and along the corniche with remarkable cliff-top views of the sparkling Mediterranean below. We enjoyed a juicy melon from a roadside stand and biting into it brought a taste that was like no other for this young palate. Sensational.
On we went to the Hotel Graziela in Juan Les Pins – long before this resort town became one of the must-stay, must-see spots for the fashionable. We had days spent at the beach, swimming early in the morning, learning to speak French with a few new-found friends, and then excursions to Nice, St. Paul de Vence, Cannes and a special day out to Monte Carlo – all tremendously exciting.
This is why France is imprinted so clearly on my memory and I have been fortunate enough to return on numerous occasions over many years – both to discover and rediscover. The same goes for practically every other European country – with special memories being made in Italy, Norway, Portugal, Austria, Greece, Turkey and Spain and, more recently, a few days spent discovering wonderful, walkable Lisbon.
The charms of Europe are never-ending and with such a diverse array of countries there is much to see, enjoy, taste and discover. Does one ever tire of strolling along cobbled paths and laneways, seeing a Tuscan sunset over cypress trees standing sentinel by warm stone farmhouses, or watching that magical French light that has shimmered on ancient villages throughout the centuries? I can easily conjure up the exact shade of the cerulean blue sea along the spectacular Amalfi coast or bring to mind rugged landscapes, awe-inspiring Norwegian fjords, quaint towns and moors, hills and dales and even battlefields. The highlands, lowlands, rivers and seas are living history filled with ramparts and castles, forts and towers. All of this is Europe. Meandering, golden-hued pathways, sunlight dappling the bucolic English countryside, a pub lunch and a chat with the locals, taking a wee dram, golfing on heathered links – I love it all but the most magical elements are the small canals, meandering alleys, crumbling palaces, piazzas and plethora of bridges that combine to create Venice – my favourite city in the world.
We all have a Europe that speaks to us and to which we can return again and again, making wonderful discoveries each time. With this in mind, I determined to publish an issue of Cruise & Travel Lifestyles that would offer some of the best of Europe and naturally – we ran out of room! So much so, that some of our regular features have been displaced by yet another article – I could not resist that taste of Montenegro and had to find room for it. And we weren’t even able to write about Turkey, Hungary, Spain, Italy or Greece! Naturally, I am already planning a second European-focused issue for the summer of 2020.
I really hope you enjoy this particular issue and the love and attention we have paid to creating it for you. This is Europe – amazing and historic, stunning and picturesque. It’s a world of its own… serene, welcoming and filled with remarkable, diverse cultures in which we can immerse ourselves.
P.S. – I urge you to sign up for our monthly email newsletter as it covers a range of cruise and travel experiences that we may not include in our print issues. Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org with your email and we will sign you up, or continue to check out our website and sign up there – www.cruiseandtravellifestyles.com. I am also thrilled about the content for our fall issue – it will be quite different and I do hope it will resonate with you. Look for it in October.
Originally published in Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Summer 2019 issue.