On the offhand chance that you find yourself in Europe, here are surely enjoyable places that should be included in your itinerary…
Allez, Allez Francais!
Paris has a lot to offer to tourists. There’s the famous Champs-Elysees, dubbed as the most beautiful avenue in the world. La Tour Eiffel in its towering presence. Arc de Triomphe, a work of art that symbolizes triumph even in defeat. Sacre Couer with its glorious overview of the city of Paris and the nearby Painter’s alley. Notre Dame de Paris, famous for its connection with a classic story. Chateau de Versailles, a castle that could be commended for its beautiful garden. And who could miss the Musee Louvre and Musee d’Orsay, both containing timeless and priceless works of art?
Simple buildings in Paris usually have a sense of beauty that make square and unassuming buildings plain beside them. Where else can you consider department stores as tourist attractions? And Paris has an abundance of beautiful churches that could probably put to shame even the most beautiful cathedral in our country. One personal favorite is the Eglise Saint-Germain L’Auxerrois. This is a small Gothic church near Musee Louvre and used to be the parish of the Kings of France. It boasts of exceedingly beautiful 16th century stained glass windows.
Outside of Paris, a world of great culture and interesting places awaits those who are willing to progress out of the famous center of France. Visit Giverny to see Claude Monet’s house. The garden has a big collection of flowers of different kinds, sizes and colors. It is simply magnificent. Once you get to the water ponds, you’ll be surprised by the likeness of the real thing to the artist’s masterpieces.
Etretat is worth visiting for its beautiful cliffs. Imagine walking along really small streets towards the sound of the sea. And then suddenly you have before you the beach and the open sea with two towering cliffs on either sides. The view at the top is spectacular and is worth the long trek up.
Beaches in France is quite a different experience. Do not miss going to the French Riviera : Nice, Antibes and Cannes. During summer, the beaches of the French Riviera are lined with numerous topless women. Do not be surprised to see mothers and daughters lying in the beach topless in front of their whole family. I read that it goes with the French culture. Biarritz is another beach area but on the Basque country of France. This is near Spain. A friend commented that it looked like California.
While visiting the French Riviera, be sure to drop by the relatively near Monte Carlo in Monaco. A lot of people mistake the place as part of France but it is a different country. There is no border formalities. A visit to the Palais du Prince is worth your money. Since the Prince resides within the Palace, it is well maintained and will give you a good idea on how royalty lives. However, since it is a private place, no cameras are allowed.
For the religious pilgrims, Lisieux, Lourdes and Nevers should be part of your itinerary. Lisieux is the town of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. While you are there, visit the cathedral of Lisieux and St. Therese’s house. The food there is commendable. Lourdes is to the south of France and will require a longer time for travel. This is the place where St. Bernadette saw the Virgin Mary through several apparitions. You’ll be amazed by the horde of people who gather there to pray and pay tribute to the Lady of Lourdes. Here you should experience the long walk along the station of the cross, wash your face and drink water in the fountains, light a candle for humanity, hear mass at the Miraculous Cave and feel the faith vibrating from the crowd. After Lourdes, it is worth visiting Nevers to see St. Bernadette’s body. Although she died a long time ago, her body is still fresh. I saw a lot of people cry over this miracle.
Other places that are worth visiting include the Loire valley for its abundance of castles. The fortified city of Saint-Malo in Brittany has an atmosphere of timelessness. Be sure to go to Strasbourg. It is a beautiful city and the cathedral is wonderful. On the way to Strasbourg, be sure to pass by Gerardmer to see the beautiful lake below the mountain. Tours should be considered for its food. Go to any restaurant in the town and you will not regret it.
London is very distinct from Paris in that it has more to offer in architectural beauty. I think I say this because simple offices in Paris are very picturesque. Whereas in London, the buildings have modern designs and tend to be more practical than picture-perfect.
During my three weeks stay in London, I had a chance to explore the honey-colored city of Bath, watch The Phantom of the Opera, visit one of the seven wonders of the world : the Stonehenge and stare in awe over the splendor of the Windsor Castle.
Belgium and its chocolates
Bruges is a nice little town which is famous for its chocolates. Here, you’ll get a chance to visit a whole street lined with chocolate shops. Imagine entering a store adorned with different types of chocolates in varying shapes and sizes. The sight and smell can be overwhelming to one’s senses. Besides the chocolates, Bruges has a lot more to offer. The plaza is surrounded by little colored houses that gives the place additional character. The Notre Dame church boast of its Madonna and Child created by Michaelangelo. It was one of the few work of the artist outside of Italy.
Netherland : The land of Windmills
Amsterdam will overwhelm you in a different way. Or maybe it’s because my visit was limited to the red light district and places near it. Visit the red light district at night when blinking lights and music give life to a part of the city that would look so common during daylight. Here you’ll see a horde of people clamoring over glass windows that reveal dancing women in their lingerie. You’ll also stare in wonder at coffee shops that grow marijuana and sell them openly. Talk about getting a real high.
As a tourist spot, Italy's famous places is at the top of the list of most tourist to Europe. And you can't really blame people for loving beauty and wanting to explore and experience it. The usual and worthwhile places that you can go to in italy are of course Rome, Florence, and Venice. When in Rome, places to visit are the Colloseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hills, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, the Spanish Steps and The Vatican. Be sure to remember to drop a coin in Trevi Fountain and make a wish as the usual tourists do. In Florence, visit the Piazza del Duomo and take the 472 steps up the stairs to the top of the dome to get a breathtaking view of Florence. Then there's the Piazza della Signoria, home to the famous Palazzo Vecchio. For arts lovers, be sure to book for a ticket to the Galleria degli Uffizi or you might be disappointed and be forced to queue for more than 3 hours to get in. Be sure to see in Venice the Piazza San Marco, Basilica di San Marco, Palazzo Ducale and Ponte dei Sospiri. Visit Scuola Grande di San Rocco and be awed by the painter Tintoretto. Check out the Rialto bridge and compare it against Florence's Ponte Vecchio. When you have enough time, hop on to a ferry and visit the island of Torcello.
Other European features to watch out for
Being in Europe also gives you a chance to explore different types of music from different countries. Sure, most of them are in languages that you probably cannot understand, but sometimes, it seems music can cross language barriers. La Flaca, Sympathique, Onde Sensuelle and Je dis aime are some of the music that I’ve learned to love. La Flaca is a very catchy Spanish song that will have you dancing in a minute. The other three songs are from French artists. In a place where the world of music is ruled over by boy bands and sexy female artists, it is rewarding to discover and explore the music of Europe.
The most important part of going to Europe is the chance to meet all kinds of people with diverse backgrounds. It is a place where people can speak not only one or two languages, but sometimes up to more than five. It is a place where English is not usually the medium of communication and you’d be force to learn their language or be lost in the quandrum of voices going all around. I’ve met a lot of interesting people who one way or another made a mark in my life.
Everything that Europe has to offer
Here in Europe, you can have everything you want and go anywhere you please. The choice is up to you. It can be very expensive but if you plan ahead and research all your possible choices, travelling in Europe can be affordable too.
- Plan your own travel
- Use Mappy for driving instructions in Europe
- Use the train when you can
- Visit the top rated places in the Michelin guide as they are usually accurate and worth your time
- Stop being a snob and just enjoy!