Europe2018-09-16T20:33:48+00:00

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

Day Out Split: Hvar Island and Stari Grad

My little quest to see world heritage - places that deserve special protection for future generations - has provided some truly amazing experiences I’d never even have considered otherwise. 10 days ago, I was in central Croatia to explore four of them. However, I seemed to be glued to the beaches! So how to explore AND relax? How to have [...]

By |4 September 2018|Croatia, Daytrip, Islands, UNESCO World Heritage|

Day out Zurich: Surprising St. Gallen

St Gallen was one of the first foreign cities I visited. 15 years old and not a care in the world. Also, more interested in shopping than nature and architecture. Naturally, I missed most of what this Swiss gem has to offer. Now, decades later, it is time for another look. A grown-up look. I'm here for a convent. Not [...]

By |31 August 2018|Daytrip, Switzerland, UNESCO World Heritage|

In transit: Fear and folly in Liechtenstein

Malbun, 28 August 2018 I'm driving from Zürich to Chur today, and as I’m going past anyway, I decide to stop off in Liechtenstein. Just a whim. Have a cup of tea. Maybe open a bank account. It’s like Switzerland, y’know. On steroids. (Although, to be fair, money laundering is more difficult these days. They’re off the bad boy tax [...]

By |28 August 2018|Liechtenstein, Real-time|

Split awakening

There’s something magical about watching a city wake up. And if that city has an old medieval town, contained within a 1700-year-old royal castle, so much the better. Here in Split, in the middle of Diocletian’s Palace, it’s as if I’m watching 2018 waking up in ancient Rome. But who was this Diocletian, you may wonder. Or I do, at [...]

By |23 August 2018|Croatia, UNESCO World Heritage|

Park Musakowski: biking across borders

See the bridge here? It is one of several bridges in Park Musakowski/Muskauer Park, crossing the River Neisse. Perhaps that name sounds familiar? You may remember the Oder/Neisse line from history lessons in school: at the Potsdam Conference after World War II, on Stalin's insistence, the rivers Oder and Neisse were set as the border between Poland and East Germany. [...]

By |28 June 2018|Germany, Poland, UNESCO World Heritage|

Kinderdijk, the cat and the cradle

Holland; what image comes to mind? Tulips? Indeed. Wooden clogs? That, too. The sublime paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn? Most definitely. Windmills? Oh yes! And probably the Kinderdijk windmills, specifically. Can’t get a more classical Dutch image than this. And I’ll tell you a bit about this most Dutch of ingenuities, but first, a little story: Have you played the [...]

By |25 June 2018|Netherlands, UNESCO World Heritage|

Alluring Lucerne: 4 hours is but a glimpse

You know how you’ll find articles telling you how to spend 24 hours – or 48 hours or 72 hours – in a given city? Well, this isn’t one of those. This is more of a marathon: 4 hours in Lucerne, a brief glimpse, at best. But 4 hours is better than 0 hours. Way better. What I found, was [...]

By |18 June 2018|Switzerland|

World at a Glance: Flemish béguinages, a 13th century women’s movement

A béguinage, what is that? Well, let's begin with a béguine (come on, that was funny...) A béguine is, or rather was, a woman who dedicated her life to her god - but didn't necessarily want to take a vow, or withdraw from the world. Who were these women? According to one theory, wars and crusades left a surplus of [...]

By |6 June 2018|Belgium, UNESCO World Heritage|

Belgian Belfries

We’ve covered many serial world heritage sites here on Sophie’s World. Some are within the same country, such as the mining landscapes of Cornwall and Devon, while others are transnational: Struve’s Geodetic Arc, Europe's ancient beech forests, and even transcontinental, like le Corbusier’s buildings. Today, we’re in Belgium, taking a look at a transnational property, comprising 56 belfries scattered throughout this country and northern France. Unlike [...]

By |31 May 2018|Belgium, UNESCO World Heritage|

The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

It's a warm afternoon in June. I'm walking along a narrow path in a park in the town of Dessau. In the state of Saxony-Anhalt, once part of the now defunct country DDR, the German Democratic Republic, better known as East Germany. This is not just any park, though. This is Georgium, an 18th century English landscaped garden, with a [...]

By |24 May 2018|Germany, UNESCO World Heritage|

11 things you’ll love about Geneva – in 60 snaps

If a picture paints a thousand words, prepare for 60,000 words. That's in addition to the actual words, ca 2,500. In fact, this could easily be loads of separate posts, but I'm in the mood to do one massive one. So here we go, all in one place. What do you think of when you hear Geneva? Money, perhaps? ✓ It [...]

By |21 May 2018|11 things, Switzerland, UNESCO World Heritage|

Plantin-Moretus publishing house: a 16th century amazon.com.

In Belgium's second city, you’ll find the Plantin-Moretus Museum, a fascinating 16th century printing shop, publishing house and residence. Antwerp, then a city of 100 000 residents, was one of Europe's leading cities for printing and typography, with 140 bookshops, printers and publishers. Among these, Christophe Plantin was the most famous - a 16th century Amazon.com, you might say. Though Christophe was much [...]

By |18 May 2018|Belgium, Idle musings, UNESCO World Heritage|

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