Discover the age-old continent through these Europe travel stories, its curious, unsung places as well as its more familiar spots.
You may notice a few countries that may not traditionally be considered European. Europe’s borders are never easy to define. So I’ve decided to go by the old definition I learned in school: In the east, Europe ends at the Ural Mountains. That means the Caucasian countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – are part of Europe, according to Sophie’s World. This is probably also according to the countries themselves: all three are members of the Council of Europe and cooperate with the European Union with a view to future membership. Also, all three countries participate in the Eurovision Song Contest; can’t argue with that.
Latest Europe travel stories
I've skimmed through my ever growing list of draft posts, and found this one that's been laying about, half-finished, for 10 years or so (eeek!) Back then, I wrote a series of posts on family road trips in Wales. Seems I completely forgot to finish the series. Something must have come up. But better late than never, so without further [...]
I love old libraries. Oh, I enjoy contemporary, futuristic ones, too (the new library in Birmingham comes to mind), but the old ones, well, they seem to have a depth of soul the newer ones haven’t quite attained yet. Top of my list is the 18th century Long Room, the library at Trinity College Dublin, with more than 200,000 ancient [...]
French then German then French then German then French Like nearby Trier (Germany), and Nancy (France), the city of Metz was first inhabited about 3,000 years ago, and you can see evidence of Celtic and Roman times here. Medieval ones, too. But I'll go out on a limb and say it is the last 150 years that sets Metz apart. [...]
In this week's post, we are back in Italy, and back in Lombardy, between Milan and Bergamo, at the foothills of the Alps. Specifically, we are in Crespi d'Adda, a 1 km² company town, a welfare town, built in 1878 for cotton mill workers and their families, in a valley along the River Adda. The person behind this project, textile [...]
From Trier in Germany's Moselle Valley, I have now stepped across the border into Lorraine - to Nancy, capital of the French département Meurthe-et-Moselle. My goal for the day is the city's three famous squares: Place Stanislas, Place de la Carrière and Place d'Alliance. Place Stanislas Just a 10-minute walk from the railway station, the largest and most magnificent of [...]
It's a lovely Saturday in June, and I am on my way to one of Italy's holy mountains. Holy mountain? And you said Italy, right? Not India? I did, indeed. Italy's nine sacri monti are complexes of chapels, little churches and other architectural delights, built on hilltops in the 16th and 17th centuries, in the provinces Piedmont and Lombardy. But [...]
On a random Monday in October, I find myself in Wrocław. I am here to make a delivery: disembark, take two huge bags through customs, hand them over, then fly right back. That was the plan anyway. But my options were essentially either A. a roundabout route via Stansted, having to spend the night at what is not exactly the [...]
My latest tour in the field with A Drop in the Ocean* here in Krakow is coming to an end. Some reflections: The free shop Sfaza Dobra = 'the good cupboard' Back in spring, when the Russian war on Ukraine first began, the free shop was in a large, abandoned shopping mall, with more than 100 volunteers and up to [...]
Is Olomouc one of Europe’s secret little pearls? An informal survey amongst friends revealed just 2 out of 11 had even heard of it. REM knows about it, though - or sings about it, at least. And Tolstoy, too. In War and Peace, Czar Alexander I and Emperor Franz II meet (pre-Battle of Austerlitz) at the Archbishop’s Palace here to [...]
What is hiding behind this rather worried-looking face? This palace, that is what: Palazzo Reale di Torino, partially hidden behind scaffolding just now, but we'll disregard that. Turns out my temp flat in Turin has balcony views of main square Piazza Castello, and the palazzo. Score! (Yet again.) Back when Italy was not yet Italy, there were monarchs. And I [...]
Once again, I’m in Rome of the North. That’s twice in one year. And yet, I haven’t been in the same place twice… what’s going on? In the early summer, I spent half a day wandering around Roman ruins in Aosta, capital of the Aosta Valley and self-declared Rome of the North. That seems to be an all-round desirable label [...]
City panorama from the top of Christ's Resurrection Church Lithuania's interwar capital We like second cities here on Sophie's World. They're frequently just as interesting as the capitals. Think Aarhus, Gothenburg, Munich, Manchester or Birmingham (the jury's still out on that one). Sometimes, second cities are even more interesting than the capitals, or at least more unique, like Antwerp, Bergen [...]