Most memorable European moments


Oct 5th, 2016, 04:50 AM
Join Date: Sep 2011
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I have an entire lifetime of special European memories, being a European.

The day which perhaps most sticks in my memory from a holiday is on my first Hurtigruten trip. It was February and we had had lots of grey days and snow, and no northern lights. Then as we were heading back south to the islands dawn was an amazing 360degree Technicolor wonder followed by a day of sunshine and a stunning sunset to match the dawn, and as icing on the cake northern lights for hours and hours.

Most of my really special memories from holidays are from other continents.
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Oct 5th, 2016, 07:28 AM
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I really have no idea where to start, nor where to stop. This is roughly chronological...

* Crossing the bridge into Venice for the first time, and immediately getting lost. There’s nothing in the world like getting lost in Venice. Nothing.

* Going to the Louvre for the very first time, on a Tuesday. Only to discover that it’s closed on Tuesdays. The disappointment must have been etched on my face, because a pretty young Danish woman came up and told me she had a press pass I could use (there was some new exhibit being previewed for the press). I had the run of the place, on my own, for a couple hours.

* Taking the gondola up to the station above Grindelwald, and watching the paragliders take off and fly acrobatically among the peaks of the Jungfrau region of the Berner Oberland. Breathtaking.

* The next night... a group of travelers from around the world, hanging out in the small “lounge” of the Gletschergarten Hotel, drinking wine. One of them started playing the upright piano in the corner, and we all got stinky drunk and sang popular songs for the next 6 hours. It was magical.

* We pulled over at a rest stop on the Isle of Skye, because the guidebook said we could see a rock formation there, the “Old Man of Storr”. Couldn’t see it, but there was a little trail, so maybe if we walked for a bit. The walk turned into a hike; and the hike became a climb. All the way up the hillside, to the jagged rock itself.

* Getting higher than Jesus at an Amsterdam “coffeeshop” and then visiting the Van Gogh Museum. Highly recommended (lol).

* The prehistoric cave art in the Dordogne Valley. It was a bucket-list item for me since grade school.

* Hiking in the Dolomites. Words simply don’t do it justice, so here’s a pic:

* The overwhelming sense of history inside the Hagia Sophia, in Istanbul.

* Our glacier-hike on the Jostedalsbreen, Norway. And the fjords, of course.

* FINALLY getting to Siena on a good day... and climbing all the way up that tower. Absolutely worth it for the view.

* Exploring the amazing monastery at Belem, Portugal. I didn’t want to leave!

* Sunrise on the Charles Bridge, in Prague. Before the crowds.

* Sunset in Santorini, among the crowds.

* Las Fallas festival in Valencia... and gintonics with the Fodorites!

* 25,000 steps in one day (according to Fitbit) in beautiful Stockholm... in boat shoes, with no socks. Both of us.

Note: There are at least a dozen great memories I’ve deliberately left off because the stories are too long to summarize here.
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Oct 5th, 2016, 08:07 AM
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- Getting hopelessly lost on the way to find the Trevi Fountain in Rome, even though my hotel was (apparently) minutes away from it. After an hour of wrong turns, with the sun already fierce on my head at 9am, I ducked in to a shady side street for respite. I'm not sure what I became aware of first - the splashing of water or the flat, mineral smell, like pennies in a well. I turned a corner and there it was, in front of me - a mountain of blazing white marble, rearing stallions and conch-blowing Tritons, and cascading ice-blue water.

- a 6 a.m train ride through the countryside of Transylvania, en route to catch a plane from Bucharest. The slow-moving train, with ragged eastern-bloc curtains and old-fashioned carriages was straight from a Graham Greene novel and the rolling, endless countryside backed by mountains that the pale sun was struggling to breech was a sight I will never forger.

- Snoozing over a book in a creaky rocking chair upstairs in Shakespeare and Company bookshop, Paris, before wandering across the river to Notre Dame.

- Wandering through the streets of Koblenz in Germany one cold December night, after cocktails with my mum. We were winding our way home and stopped to look at a full-size nativity scene. Snow started drifting down, and then came down thicker and thicker. There was lovely Jesuit church behind us, with a giant rose window, and carols playing.
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Oct 5th, 2016, 09:53 AM
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How do I cull through 50 years of travels in Europe, Asia, the near east? And with my iffy memory at that...

I do remember a lovely day at Delphi, standing with friends in the stadium there, testing to see if our voices carried across to the other side--sort of testing the acoustics. Then scrambling over the hills and seeing the ancient temples and statues. It's hard to believe I was ever that young.

I'd avoided Venice for 40 years, thinking the hordes of tourists would have ruined it. Then I finally walked into St. Mark's square and saw the church of San Giorgio across the water, looking as if it floated.
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Oct 5th, 2016, 10:44 AM
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For us, it was the discovery of the tiny village of Le Poët-Laval in the Drôme region of France. Absolutely magical.
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Oct 5th, 2016, 12:33 PM
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- going through the Berlin Wall in 1969>

Yes about the same time - frightening experience entering the East- one time I was pulled aside and taken into a room with bright lights overhead and had to empty all my pockets and day pack onto a table. A bit unnerving.
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Oct 5th, 2016, 12:46 PM
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Arriving at Krysiczyn (sp?) castle in Poland, near the Ukrainian border, at night on Halloween night. The few staff working there spoke Polish and German, and of course we don't speak either. One gentleman escorted us to our room in the castle, walking along a path and over a bridge, and we were the only people staying there. It was a little bit eerie and spooky, appropriate for Halloween, but a great stay and one of our most memorable moments.

Driving back to Krakow from Krysiczyn the next evening, All Hallows Eve, and driving past cemeteries, some located on hills in the distance, with glowing candles in the dark. Polish citizens visit their relatives' graves on this night, and honor them with candles and flowers. A magical sight for us.

Drinking hot mulled wine while strolling through Prague on a chilly night in October.

Autumn seems to be a great time to visit Poland and the Czech Republic. At least for us it was!

Lamorna, I love your description of Transylvania! My daughter is headed there next week!
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Oct 5th, 2016, 12:49 PM
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Standing on the spot where the Icelandic eruption occurred in 2010. The steam was still coming out of the ground. I remember thinking "if this thing blows again we're going to be in trouble".
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Oct 5th, 2016, 12:51 PM
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My error, November 1 is All Saints Day, not All Hallows Eve. We drove back to Krakow on November 1.
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Oct 5th, 2016, 02:00 PM
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Saw Prince Charles in Edinburgh - standing with just a few others outside a theatre he was doing somethingcharity-wise at - no obvious security and me and my son stood right next to him listening to the conversation - an impromptu thing that blew my mind. Why no body guards?
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Oct 5th, 2016, 02:44 PM
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The old Ortodox churches inside the Kremlin wall...Moscow
I was mesmerized by the sense of mystery and unexpected awe.

Salamanca, Spain ...when the lights came on in what is considered the most
beautiful plaza in Spain, a collective ...ahhhhhhhh

The flight approaching Barcelona as the sun was about to rise in dark red horizon
while a huge moon was still hanging over the city.
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Oct 6th, 2016, 08:10 AM
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I do remember a lovely day at Delphi, standing with friends in the stadium there, testing to see if our voices carried across to the other side--sort of testing the acoustics.

I did that too, but at Epidaurus. Stood at center-stage and delivered about half of Hamlet's soliloquy, in full voice.
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