Empire State of Mind

Lisbon Barcelona—Lisbon, 637 miles (so I did cheat and flew this bit) On a map, Portugal doesn’t make its presence felt, boxed in by Spain on three sides and very easily visually absorbed into its Iberian neighbor. When you visualize Spain, you visualize that whole peninsula, rather than a piece of land with a chunk taken … More Empire State of Mind

El Cor de Catalunya

The Iberian Peninsula is geographically doing its own thing on the Continent, hanging off the tip of France and just nearly reaching the northern edge of Morocco. Culturally, it feels the same way. There are of course commonalities with the French and the Italians perhaps most of all, but it really does feel noticeably different. One … More El Cor de Catalunya

Beer and Waffles

To say I’m confused by Belgium would be a serious understatement. If you’ll recall, I was completely taken with the Netherlands and figured Belgium would be similarly incredible. The Flemish culture is native to the entire area (at least in the Flemish part of Belgium I was in) and the two counties have strong historic … More Beer and Waffles

Dutch Haarlem

Is the Netherlands perfect? I’m beginning to suspect so. This country is so great because it is exactly what people like Rush Limbaugh hate about Europe: no open-container laws, bicycles everywhere, aggressive recycling campaigns, nudity on beaches, small cars and other socialist ideas about the saving the environment, things not sold in bulk, “fruit beers,” … More Dutch Haarlem

Hitting the Deutschmark

The complaint often lodged against Germany is that because everything was destroyed in WWII, everything is new, depriving it of the chief appeal of Europe for most Americans, i.e. Old World stuff. This is not incorrect; any of the major cities are all entirely reconstructed with different approaches. Berlin feels very modern: lots of brushed … More Hitting the Deutschmark

The Last Duchy

Thus I returned to the land of my tormentors. Annecy  Montreux—Annecy, 83 Miles  Annecy is one of those places that’s the “Venice of [insert country name].” In this case, France. Every country in the known world has a “Venice,” which is such an unfortunate dilution of the name. Leave Venice out of this. At the risk … More The Last Duchy

Confoederatio Helvetica

Before I start, I have to plug the INCREDIBLE Swiss tourism site. I’ve been on a lot of tourism board sites; a lot of them are pretty terrible, and Switzerland is an attractive destination. They probably don’t need to try that hard to sell themselves (can you imagine being the marketing firm for the tourism board … More Confoederatio Helvetica