When someone says they’re going to travel the continent, several questions come to everyone’s minds. And they all have to do with sights in Europe.
What countries are you going to be in? Which attractions are you going to see? What’s your itinerary?
And then the recommendations come pouring in.
Now, you guys know that the word “itinerary” makes me cringe – it’s far too strict for my taste. But on my recent 5-week trip to Europe, I did follow a plan, of sorts. My transportation was booked, but I left the day open to whatever happened.
This spontaneous approach to travel allowed me to squeeze in some last minute ideas, and to say yes to opportunities I otherwise would have missed due to stringent schedules.
I’m happy to report that this non-plan plan worked out swimmingly. But if you ever find yourself looking for a few tips on what to do and see in Spain, France, Ireland and England, here are a few suggestions. Tried and tested by yours truly.
Easter procession in Spain
I am not religious, by any definition of the word, but even I couldn’t deny the electricity in the air during this Easter procession in Málaga. Spain takes their religious holidays seriously, and there were parades and events going on for days. Málaga is a smaller city on the Costa del Sol in the south, so I can only imagine what it would have been like to be somewhere like Madrid. Definitely a cool experience.
Wine tasting in Bordeaux
I love wine. Especially French wine, on a sunny day, in the heart of wine country. So there was no way I was going to miss a chance to get a taste of those gorgeous Bordeaux reds while visiting friends in the area. I booked a day tour to Saint-Émilion with Bordovino wine tours. The experience was fabulous, and I’ll expand on that in a future post, but for now you can read a little more about it in my article for French Quarter Magazine.
A picnic on the Seine in Paris
No sunny spring or summer day in Paris would be complete without a picnic by the Seine. With loads of spots along the banks for pedestrians, it would be difficult to decide where to set your wine and baguette. I’ll give you a tip: find spots that have easy access to public bathrooms. Near Notre Dame there are toilets (to the right if you’re facing the cathedral, underground). You can also keep an eye out for the public toilet pods along the streets and set yourself up somewhat near one of those. Trust me, after a couple glasses of wine in, you’ll be thanking me for this advice!
The Dingle Peninsula
Ireland was a delightful surprise with its varied landscape. We started in Dublin and drove the southern coastal route along to Shannon, spending 10 days total on the road. And one of the places that absolutely shocked us with its beauty was the Dingle Peninsula. Western Ireland is wild and untamed, its landscapes sweeping and its waters the most amazing shade of blue. The Ring of Kerry gets most of the credit, but the Dingle Peninsula ranks right alongside it.
The Sky Garden in London
This place has one of absolute best views of the city skyline in all of London. The Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street opened late 2014, I believe, and reservations are still booking out way in advance. There are four parts to this space: the Sky Garden, Sky Pod Bar, Darwin’s Brasserie, and the Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill. Getting into the Sky Garden is free, and the restaurants vary in price from reasonable to pricey. We ate at the Darwin’s Brasserie (the middle budget option) and everything we had was completely worth the price.
What is your favorite thing to do or see in Europe?