So the big trip to Europe is over. I’m back at work and people have already asked me … what next?
You’d think that I do this all the time! The answer actually is nothing, for now.
I’ve loved my time in Europe. Seeing Dublin again and catching up with most of my friends (I couldn’t quite squeeze them all in with time constraints) I did realise I could live there again – but only if you gave me a house, a car and a job. I couldn’t start over from scratch again now. It was also lovely to see the family again.
I thought Strasbourg was lovely and enjoyed seeing the German influence in this town, as well as going across the border to Germany. Germany’s a country I haven’t seen really so it was nice to get a small taste of it. Having someone take us about and show us things was a bonus too, as we experienced the “local” take on the place.
Paris – well Paris is Paris isn’t it? It has an amazing vibe. The cream coloured buildings, the immaculate lawns in the jardins, and a tower that continues to hold its own, despite all the tall buildings and towers that have been built world-wide since. It may only be a teeny-tot compared to new structures but somehow none of them compare to the emotion of seeing the Eiffel Tower in person, or how picturesque (photogenic?) this rather weird iron structure is. Maybe because it is in scale to Paris rather than towering miles above it, is the reason it still works?
Bordeaux? Well, that’s another city that has a wonderful feel to it. Easy, efficient and clean transport, 18th century buildings, narrow streets, a river, and a recurring strange sculpture. I enjoyed it immensely. I found it compact and easy to navigate after Paris (a bit easier to get a sense of direction).
Carcassonne – la cite. This fairytale medieval city was a highlight too. Despite the tourists I could still picture it back in time, and imagine myself somewhere in the fairy tale!
Cerbere – amazing views and the most night-mare inducing building I’ve ever seen (the derelict Hotel Belvedere). This was a “rest stop” and the actual village wasn’t much to write about – we ventured by car to the next town for most things, but we had quality family time and great home-catered food while there. The house was wonderful and it’s definitely a place to stay if you want a break from the sight seeing.
Barcelona! (Does everyone sing that instead of saying it, or was that just us?) I still adore Barcelona and think Spain is my favourite country in Europe outside of Ireland – simply because the people are friendly, the food is amazing, the weather is warm and I adore orange trees and olive trees! Barcelona is a party town – somewhere to go and have fun and my sister and I made the most of the short time we had there, eating well, drinking well (tapas bars are the biz) and seeing as much of the town as we could. I faced off my vertigo and went up in the cable cars to get the most amazing views!
Roma – When in Rome… well we walked, we shopped, we ate, we drank and we saw lots and lots of really old places! It does feel like the beginning of civilisation (I know, the greeks had a hand in that too) but when you’re in the ancient city and can reach out and touch (if no-one is looking) the ruins, you can feel the thousands of years of time at your fingertips. It is the most intriguing city. It has everything … including leather jacket shops! We walked for miles and loved every bit of it.
Faenza – a special special visit.
Milan. Just a one-night stopover before flying home. I think I’d seen so many cathedrals by the time we saw the Duomo … but it was still impressive … but so is the whole square with people out and about in it, and the Victor Emmannuel building to the side. We had one of our best meals in Italy (we splurged) and watched beautiful people at a Prada launch prance by with their goodie bags.
Then of course the long, long haul to fly home. It was good to get home. It was great to have a proper cup of tea (the first since Ireland). It was nice to get back to work – really!
Things I’d like from Europe to be here: the transport systems, the fresh markets (ours are so small and limited compared to the European ones), some really really decent Spanish tapas bars! I’d also like it to be only 1 hour away, compared to 24. That flight really is a killer. But really, I’m happy being back in little ol’ newzild. It is godzone. It is clean and green and spacious – particularly when compared to where we’ve been. It has gorgeous mountains, lakes and rivers. The vineyards can hold their own (albeit the wine is dearer here!) and it’s a relief to stop thinking in pigeon french/spanish/italian.
For now, I’m just happy to be back in my wee house, with my cat and a garden that needs attention. I’m not going to make any big plans for a while, I’ll just savour the memories of a fabulous month away for a bit before I start thinking up what’s next. Whatever it will be, I’m sure I’ll blog about it!