“The construction of Europe is an Art. It is the art of possible”.
Europe in its truest forms is an idea. It really is an art that can be seen, felt, lived.
On this continent, everything is different, yet so similar. Countries are born with collective history and have developed individually from one another. And the one thing that draws common ground between them all is the old-school charm. The life-size castles, ancient architecture, narrow quintessential streets, old towns and new towns, the weather, the people, and their warm welcoming smiles, there’s just something about Europe that goes unmatched by the rest of the world.
I have traveled to Europe a couple of times and each time this continent surprises me. Every new place I see here moves something inside me. Europe has surreal magic to it. Whether it’s the complicated ways of pronouncing French words, or the high snowcapped mountains of Switzerland, or even something as simple as the British accent, there’s art and poetry in just moving around this beautiful continent.
“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you.”
Anthony Bourdain, sculpting his sentences in his magical humour.
On some days when I’m sick of my everyday routine or start finding mundanity in the smallest of things, I find myself instantly charged with Anthony Bourdain’s version of food, travel & leisure. And anyone who perceives travel the same way knows how much any new place can change you if you truly immerse yourself into it. And this is what this article is about, the many many lessons I learned from all the wonderful cities I have traveled through in Europe.
Here are 8 life lessons I learned from these 8 cities in Europe.
1. London – Taught me that time is short and time is valuable
I didn’t spend as much time in London as I’d hoped for. But with the couple of weeks that I spent here, this city kept me on my feet. Indeed time is money in London. Everything is so fast-paced in this city, that one tends to feel left out. London taught me that time is short and valuable. Even if it’s little. I realized no matter how much I ran, how fast my feet were, I’d still not be able to finish everything on my bucket list. And that is okay! I learned that it is okay to sometimes not have all the time in the world. But it is important what you do with the time you have in hand. It is on you to make it valuable. So I just sat there, under the London eye, sipping hot chocolate on a cold autumn evening, and took in a deep breath. I took a good look around and just let this oh-so-busy city in Europe grow on me.
London can be expensive if not planned well. Check my top ten tips to travel to London on a budget!
2.Paris – Love your food, love your desert. Love the little things.
Paris, the city of love. Just the word is enough to make you daydream, aye? It is the fashion capital of Europe. A city with a rich education, fashion, architecture, history, art, and mostly the mouth-watering yummy-looking cuisine. I have been to Paris twice, and although it is one of the highest visited tourist destinations across the year, for some reason, this European city struck to grow on me. But this city taught me some lessons too. Like, how everything here has a queue and that the people arent’ always going to be as friendly as you thought. But the biggest lesson I learned from Paris is that they can make the simplest of food sound poetic and romantic. No, I am serious. Every meal in Paris is served with love. And you eventually come to appreciate just how much history and patience the Parisians put into making their food, especially the deserts. Their deserts are pieces of art. And this city taught me that pouring love into the smallest of things, can be so fulfilling.
3. Venice – There is bliss in being an old-school romantic
What do you think of when you hear Venice? The narrow canals filled with gondolas? City afloat? Super tiny streets, fancy boutique shops at the edge of every curve? When I landed in Venice, the beauty and the romance in the air stuck me like a shotgun. Venice is effortless in its existence. And what this beautiful city in Europe taught me was that it was okay to be a little old school and romantic sometimes. That it was okay to like letters in the age of Whatsapp’s and Instagram. That it was okay to be your own self. Oh, and it taught me one more thing – That everything in Venice is expensive (hehehe…). But it is. You can walk into the tiniest of boutiques and easily be billed for a couple of 100 euros (sob!)
4. Spain – Kindness is a universal language
Every time I hear Spain, I see ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. It’s a Bollywood movie about 3 friends who take a trip to Spain (watch it if you haven’t). Traveling to Spain was difficult. in terms of language mostly. So before I left for Spain, I managed to learn a few generic Spanish terms. But one thing Spain taught me (and this is the closest to my heart), is that in a world where there’s a price tag on everything, Kindness is free. Kindness is a universal language. The only other place where kindness literally is their only language is New Zealand (but we’ll get to that another time). Spanish people are so kind, that even though we do not share the same language, they’ll make sure they help us to the utmost extent. One aged woman walked with me to my destination even though she had to walk back in the opposite direction.
The people of Spain are truly kind. Check out this story to know more about my personal encounter with a local.
5.Copenhagen – Love life on two wheels
Scandinavia is one of my favorite destinations in all of Europe. I cannot pick on anything I disliked here. I traveled to Denmark in January. If I had to define Copenhagen in one word it would be “Satisfied”. The Danish really know how to stay happy. You look at a Danish family, and they have happiness written all over them. Danish folks find happiness in everything they do. From their early-morning hot chocolate’s to their two-wheel rides to work, to their end-of-day hygge routines. Copenhagen taught me to enjoy life to the fullest, especially on two wheels. The city inspires you to stop being lazy and get your butts on a bicycle and ride away your sorrows. What inspired me the most was seeing a woman riding a bicycle in the middle of heavy rains with a twin stroller attached to the front wheel wrapped securely with a rainproof cover. I mean, look at her guts man. In India, you’d NEVER find something like this.
6. Norway – Ga Pa Tur
Norway is peace, redefined. I always fall short of words to describe this enchanting city. It truely is Europe’s crown. From the pristine lakes, to the gorgeous landscapes of the fjords, to its strong vikings history, if there’s one thing Norway and the Norwgians taught me is Ga-Pa-Tur – Take a walk. Norwegians can walk for hours in total bliss. I mean, look at the place, who wouldnt? I think one of their secret’s to a fit lifestyle is the fact that they walk almost everywhere.
7. Sweden – Just fika!
Sockholm has everything. From an archipalego that any other country in Europe would fight to have, welcoming locals and a subtle ease of travel, stockholm is the queen of nature, landscape and exotic coffee. For us coffee lovers, it is literally paradise. I am someone who can’t function without a morning coffee, or an evening one 😛 and so Stockholm literally felt like paradise. The people here are helpful and soft spoken. Everywhere around the world, people use coffee to charge themselves up. They use coffee to wake up, recharge and speed things up. It is an energiser. But one o fthe many things I learnt from the swedish culture was to find a reason to slow down. Here coffee is a reason to pause and not to rush up. Everyday the swedish take a coffee & cake break in the middle of the day called Fika. The swedish Fika to relieve stress, spend some quality time with their friends or with oneself. Everything stops when they Fika. Their only task is to pause their brain, slow down and enjoy their coffee, sip by sip.
Are you traveling to Stockholm anytime soon? I also have an article on things to do in Stockholm.
8. Switzerland – There’s no time for ordinary chocolate.
Switzerland is heaven on Earth. People who haven’t been here, haven tasted life in its most adventurous form. The swiss take pride in everything home grown. From their watches to their cheese, milk or even chocolates, the swiss know how to make the best and how to do it right. You see Switzerland and chocolate are synonymous. The Swiss taught me how to eat quality chocolate. Once you’ve had authentic Swiss chocolates, you’d crave for none other. There’s no time for ordinary chocolate.
Did you know Zermat is the home to the famous Matterhorn captured on the Toblerone package? Check out this article to know about this quintessential village in Switzerland.
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I have been a lousy blogger TBH. But I am trying to change that. 2020/21 haven’t been great years, but we’re all doing everything we can to turn the pages. Let’s hope for a safer future. Read about my 2020 journey here!
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