Europe2019-07-27T12:04:08+01:00

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

Stave churches – and a rant

I've been meaning to write about stave churches here on Sophie's World for a while now. Years, actually; waiting until I had seen the oldest of them all: Urnes. Somehow, I thought that one was needed. Well, in this corona-dominated summer - or early autumn rather - I finally got around to it. So here you are: one of the [...]

By |30 October 2020|Idle musings, Norway, UNESCO World Heritage|

World at a Glance: Wittgenstein’s cabin

See the house perched on the rock there? This is not exactly the best picture I've taken. I snapped it as I drove past, thinking that this, this is Norway in a nutshell. Find a remote, inaccessible spot, and build a cabin. Or a house even. (Maybe this natural inclination for isolation is part of the reason we’ve been spared [...]

By |3 October 2020|Idle musings, Norway|

Pisa: Field of Miracles

Campo dei Miracoli Field of Miracles: how wonderful is that name! Wonderful - and apt, I think. I can easily picture this as a centre of miracles: the blue sky, the green grass, the wonderful white constructions, the warm Tuscan terracotta wall, it's all rather stunning. The official name of the field is Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square). The piazza [...]

Pfaueninsel: where peacocks roam (Day out Berlin)

When people think of the UNESCO-listed Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin, Sanssouci is probably the first that comes to mind. And that Rococo palace of the Prussian king is indeed a fine example, with its park and temples and follies. Voltaire even stayed there for a bit. However, the World Heritage site comprises no less than 150 buildings [...]

By |14 September 2020|Daytrip, Germany, UNESCO World Heritage|

New Lanark: compassionate capitalism works (Day out Edinburgh)

Utopia: we all have our own ideas of that, don’t we? Compassionate capitalism and urban planning So did Robert Owen. Back in the late 18th century, this Welsh philanthropist, social reformer and idealist thought it was possible to combine a highly profitable business with human welfare. Today, we would call it compassionate capitalism; we even take it for granted in [...]

By |10 September 2020|Daytrip, Scotland, UNESCO World Heritage|

Saint-Émilion: wine, medieval history and more wine (Day out Bordeaux)

I'm noticing I haven’t written nearly enough about wine here on the blog. Scandalous really, considering the total yum! We’ve covered the vines of Switzerland’s Lavaux, (surprised Switzerland is wine-growing country? I was.) We’ve briefly touched upon the yummy wines of Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. We’ve talked a bit about Italian wines, such as Bubbles from the Abyss - the peculiar [...]

By |6 September 2020|Daytrip, Europe with kids, France, UNESCO World Heritage|

Baden: in the footsteps of a prisoner of war

By Alexandra Redisch and Anne-Sophie Redisch Three summers ago, on my way home from the Caucasus, I had a stopover in Vienna, about 8 hours long. And a chance to investigate something that had been on my mind for many years. Of course, why it took so long is anyone’s guess. Vienna is a mere two-hour flight away, practically just [...]

World at a Glance: Brussels’ Victor Horta museum

See these fabulous Art Nouveau buildings? The decorative facades? That golden balcony? This is the result of being thrown out of the music conservatory at a young age, for misbehaving. But he must have been forgiven; the conservatory named a concert hall after him. Yep, that's a Victor Horta fun fact for ya. As is frequently the case with architectural [...]

By |26 August 2020|Belgium, UNESCO World Heritage|

High coast/Kvarken Archipelago: the Swedish side

I'm in Sweden today. That is, not today, in the corona summer of 2020, but in the summer of 2015. You see, I've finally dug out my notes on this transnational natural world heritage site, and this is what I wrote 5 years ago. -------------------------------------- I'm in Sweden today. Northern Sweden, to be precise. Along the Gulf of Bothnia; here [...]

By |2 August 2020|Hikes and walks, Sweden, UNESCO World Heritage|

World at a Glance: The route to Santiago in France

Camino de Santiago, the holy pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, comprises two different properties on the World Heritage list. I have an intention (admittedly, a somewhat vague one) about walking part of the route some day. So how long is the entire route? That will depend on where you live. In a way, you could say it begins outside [...]

By |31 July 2020|France, UNESCO World Heritage|

Hiking Pulpit Rock, Norway (Day out Stavanger)

Norway has stunning nature. I say that entirely objectively (ok, not really. But still!) Excellent hikes abound just about everywhere you turn, all around the country. You'll also find some iconic rock formations. The three most famous in the south-western part of the country include: Trolltunga (the Troll's Tongue) Kjeragbolten (you may have seen photos of people standing on a [...]

By |21 June 2020|Daytrip, Hikes and walks, Norway|

Ancient Nessebar and Bulgaria’s southern Black Sea coast

I've always thought the Black Sea has an exotic ring to it. Dramatic events have unfolded here: Gorbachev losing his job while holidaying in Sochi in August 1991, The Yalta Conference during World War II, Dracula arriving in Varna in a coffin on his way to Transylvania, Jason and the Argonauts searching for the Golden Fleece. This is exciting stuff. [...]

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