Love In Europe: Memories From My Traveling Days

Several years back, one of my friends wanted to start a website about love in all of its incarnations.  I wrote a post for her site that just recently became more relevant for me.  After my divorce, I decided that I would just work on myself and raise my children. I didn’t consider the thought of meeting anyone, much less forming a new relationship….but life does what it wants with us, doesn’t it?

This post I wrote was entitled. “Love In Europe” and was my romantic homage to a continent I love dearly. Little did I know that years later, I would meet and fall in love with a man from across the pond….that would make me feel all those things I had written about without having to board a plane.  May we all find love like that…and until then….without further ado…’s Love In Europe:

I was sixteen years old the first time I went to Europe. Communism had just fallen, and my father was able to return to his homeland of Hungary for the first time since escaping in 1956.  

I was a typical teen, not really looking forward to traveling with my parental units, but with a head full of fairytales and Jane Austen-esque fancies, I ended up falling hard for that continent.

Something in the air, the architecture, the food, the music, the history….all of it… every country that I visited screamed “love and romance”.  I was nothing but a baby at the time, but I remember thinking how I would one day want to fall in love in Europe.  

I toured Munich, Vienna, and Budapest with my parents, but took in every spot that I would one day want to visit with my “Mr. Darcy”.  Being within eyeshot of castles, villas, and manors made it seem all too easy to imagine myself arm-in-arm with a modern day knight in shining armor.

A few years later I ended up winning a coveted spot with the University of Portland’s Salzburg Program and left the States to study in Austria for a year as a Sophomore.  I went with my then boyfriend and a few dozen other students and once again….I fell in love with the continent.

Walking the streets that were once home to Mozart, taking in every inch of that city so steeped in beauty and history was nothing short of amazing.  I remember traveling to Paris that year and seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night for the first time, then going to Venice and riding a gondola through the canals. All so seemingly cliche yet so truly full of romance and beauty.

I remember seeing how the people of those glorious cities truly knew how to live, and how to love. That passion was evident in everything they did, the way they spoke, ate, dressed, walked….pure passion for life. It was beautiful and I took it all in with a mixture of awe and envy.  

I remember seeing couples everywhere I went, not afraid to display their love and affection for one another…sitting beneath centuries-old statues embracing with reckless abandon, sitting at sidewalk cafes staring into each other’s eyes…swoon-worthy.

Fast forward several more years and I would be living in Milan, Italy for work….and for the third time I fell in love with Europe.  I started to put together all of the emotions I felt when I was there and realized that while I was surrounded by incredible culture, history, cuisine, wine, architecture, adventure…there was something else.  Something that was not always fully palpable but that lay like a faint heartbeat everywhere I went.

Europeans knew how to live and love because they allowed themselves the time to.  While each country I visited and lived in had its own ways of living, I noticed that for the most part, they all knew how to take a break from the rat race of, “work hard, make money”, and added in the ever important, “love hard, be happy”.  

They took longer lunches, closed shop on Sundays, made eye contact, complimented each other, embraced in greeting, spent time soaking in everything that makes us feel truly alive.  It was all so different than how I was used to living in the States.  I wanted to be swept away by it all and I was…completely swept away.

If I can recommend anything to anyone, it is that you should travel…and do so as much as you can.  Go with your loved one, go by yourself, go with a friend…it doesn’t matter….just go. Fall into the rhythm of a different land and fall in love with it…and how alive it makes you feel.

Anyone who has seen the Bridge of Sighs, looked over the Chain Bridge from Castle Hill, walked down the cobbled streets of Tuscany, or sipped Gluhwein at a Christkindlmarkt, knows the feeling I am talking about.

The feeling that you are so completely overwhelmed by love, and life, and beauty, that you could quite literally grab a random stranger, give them a massive hug and kiss and neither of you would feel the least bit odd about it as you went on your separate and merry ways. It’s like that. That magical. That amazing.

It’s been too long since the last time I lost myself in Europe, but I miss it every day.  Perhaps I left a piece of my heart there, but I will go back someday to recover it.  Love is in the air there…truly. Go breathe it in.

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