Experienced travelers are quick to remind us that the best parts of a vacation aren’t always those big-ticket things you planned in advance. Quite often they’re the little unforeseen pleasures you didn’t plan for. Judging from a popular thread on our Talk Forums, “Your Favorite European Travel Moment,” the most blissful moments some travelers experienced last year in Europe were filled with these small unexpected pleasures — a perfectly prepared cheese sandwich, an idyllic afternoon spent in a Cologne beer garden, tulip fields in Holland. Below, we’ve highlighted a few of these special moments.
“It was our first time there, and after settling in at our apartment we were starving. Hunger forced us into a small cafe, where a young waitress took pity on us and in a very friendly manner helped us decide on a pork loin plate. The dinner was delicious with a sauce to die for, and the wine she brought to our table warmed us.” — scdreamer
Top Picks for You
Recommended Fodor’s Video
Hungry for la bonne vie? These Paris bistros fit the bill.
Travel Talk: Know where to find Paris’s best prix-fixe menu? Help Rosetravels discover your favorite lunching spots.
Ready to explore the capital of Catalonia? Browse Barcelona’s best hotels, restaurants, and sites.
Travel Talk: Can you find your way through El Raval? GiuliaPiraino welcomes your neighborhood advice.
“The most memorable — Istanbul, the first day in city, standing outside the Blue Mosque when the call to prayer came out over the loudspeakers and was echoed by other mosques. It was a cultural moment I haven’t forgotten.” — Michel_Paris
In need of a spa day? Visit one of Istanbul’s hamams
Travel Talk: Ever wandered the streets of Beyoglu? How should Tippy1 spend her five days in Istanbul?
“This year we went to see the tulips in Holland — fantastic. One day in the formal gardens and one day riding thru the tulip fields. Now, besides all the places I have yet to go, I have added this trip to my list to do again.” — suec
Heading to Amsterdam?Take a day trip to see the bulb fields.
From the Forums: Have you seen them bloom? Help kms00 pick travel dates that coincide with prime tulip viewing.
“I would have to say being at the Open in Carnoustie. I was literally inches from players such as Tiger, Sergio, etc., and watching the playoff hole. Weir said hi to us!” — travel2live2
Love golf and gargoyles? Edinburgh with a side trip to East Lothian it is.
Travel Talk: Have you gone green at St. Andrew’s? Susan56 is looking for advice on day trips from there.
“My single favorite European travel moment was in Switzerland when we stopped off on the side of the road to watch the Swiss locals bring the cows down from the mountain while on our way to Atzmännig.” — trafaelwyr
“We stumbled on the Teatro di Marcello in the early evening and got to listen to a pianist warming up for a concert. We stood there for a long time watching and listening as strains of Chopin floated up to us, echoing off the arches of the theater, the whole scene bathed in golden light. Absolutely magical!” — hausfrau
“Being at the top of the Windsor wheel with just my sister in our pod and looking out over the English countryside and the swans down on the river and up at the castle and down at the train station and over at Eton. Lovely, just lovely.” — cynthiabooker
Photo credits: (1) photo by pussnboots; (2) photo by Tom Caswell; (3) photo by Aaron Logan.