We have been on this adventure now for 421 days or 1 year, 1 month and 25 days. It has to be said that we love being here and if it was possible we would stay here for good. Europe is quite grand with its 1000 year old cathedrals and glorious piazzas amazing parks historical artifacts and monuments displaying the reign of changing empires and dynasties. It shows scars of its many devastating wars, crusades, revolutions and inquisitions. We visited 12 countries so far: England, France, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Austria, Germany and The Vatican. No matter where we go we find that people are friendly, understanding, patient and relaxed with a hint of understated sophistication. We only speak two of the languages we needed to communicate and yet this was never an issue. Actually, it was only once when we ordered octopus for dinner in Rome, but it was good so no loss there.
We found that in Germany you need a scarf – always, no matter what the season, beer with lemonade is as common as sausage with curry sauce or a pretzel sandwich. In Italy you can eat pizza all day long starting with breakfast but you never order cappuccino after lunch, it is a breakfast coffee. No country makes bread and pastries like the French. Schnitzel is best in Austria, cakes are amazing in Hungary and Slovenia, and no one makes fried cheese like Prague. There is no ‘excuse me’ in Danish and the bicycles have the right of way and fearsome Vikings used to eat pirates and spit out Ninjas. In Sweden people speak better English than I do, and cakes are amazing as well. It is almost impossible to find a place that serves Caesar Salad unless they have an english menu and serve burgers which is not very often, the same goes for meatballs and spaghetti. Even in Rome you can’t find Caesar Salad – how un-Italian is that or is it? What you do find here in every restaurant in just about every country we visited are Caprese Salad and Salade Niçoise. You will also find that average street food is about €2.00 to €4.00 no matter where you are, a beer is usually about €2.00 for a 0.50 l bottle and espresso on average is about €1.00 – it is cheap. Europe is the king of bottled water both still and fizzy. You can walk anywhere around here and you will almost certainly never be more than 100m away from a cafe, restaurant, bar or a deli. It is a custom to stop in a restaurant or a gas station to have an espresso any time of the day. We are yet to see anyone drive with a bucket of coffee in the car – our car does not even have a coffee cup holder!
This is why I am ever so puzzled as to why people come to explore Europe and insist on looking like page 18 of Mountain Equipment Coop Catalogue?! Urban assault footwear, personal hydration devices, radio and GPS, backpacks and walking sticks, quick dry synthetic no wash clothing and thermal socks, flashlight and multitools strapped to their belts – why?