Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dreaming of Europe

Lately I've been day-dreaming about being in Europe and everything 'European'.  I had the opportunity to go on a 3 week European vacation 2 summers ago and had an amazing time.  I loved people watching and simply taking in the beauty and elegance that is 'Europe'.  I traveled with my cousin and her young son and we went to Hannover, Munich, Salzburg, Milan, Zurich and Straussburg.  I don't know exactly what it is about my fascination with Europe and everything European, but I do know this - every single time I come back from a Europe trip, I come back somehow 'reborn', feeling like a new, confident woman - I feel more feminine and I don't know what it is about the men there, but they pay attention to you - they make you feel alluring and sensual (its just something about the way they look at you as you're walking down the street, they make you feel 'attactive' and they know what to say to make you feel good about yourself).  I'm also fascinated with the way European men and women dress and carry themselves - its a relaxed, yet polished look - I love 'studying' people in Europe - just observing how they dress, walk, carry themselves.  I remember a French man walking with son on the streets of Straussburg - he was wearing a crisp white shirt that was tucked into a pair of jeans with a belt and loafers.  His hair was was medium length and slightly layered, but it suited him so well - he had on a pair of black framed glasses and he oozed sophisticated and sensuality!  Then I saw his wife, looking so classic and elegant, with her hair pulled back into a loose ponytail, wearing a little black tank dress - I thought to myself "wow - what a sexy couple" - then, as I looked around even more, I realized half the people there had the same look - they looked casual and relaxed, but as if they still put effort into how they looked.  As I visited each city, I began to soak in the memories that I will cherish forever: sitting at an outdoor restaurant in Munich and listening to a small 5 man-orchestra playing some of Mozarts classics, walking down the street in Zurich and being stopped by a gentleman who told me I was beautiful (and he really meant it - I actually genuinely felt beautiful in that moment and I thank him for that - I will cherish that forever), sitting in an outdoor patio type place in Zurich and watching couples dance to a man playing the accordian (they were so in the 'moment' and really enjoying being alive), watching the cathedral in Strassburg at night (they had this light and music display - it was breath-taking) and eating the best vanilla frozen yogurt I have ever had - it was so creamy and melt in your mouth, going to the local patisserie the next morning and getting some fresh pasteries and almond cookies - all these little events seem so mundane, they are somehow lodged in my memory and bring me comfort everytime I think about them.  As soon as I came home I realized that 'European' feeling doesn't have to 'end' - its about enjoying and taking pleasure in the little things!!!  In North America, our schedules are so hectic - we are always 'rushing', never taking time to savour anything.  That is why I think we're so obsessed with the European way of life (or at least I am) - because the traditional European philosophy of life is about 'taking it easy' - enjoying the simple pleasure, dressing in a relaxed yet polished manner - taking the time to put effort into how you look, appreciating the beautiful woman/man as they walk down the street, enjoying that home-made delicacy (vs picking up a donught and gobbling it up in the car) - its about enjoying that hour at the cafe, people watching, embracing the moment that you are alive - that to me it what my fascination with Europe is all about!!!  Here a few pics from my Europe trip two years ago - I hope you enjoyed this post, I just wanted to express how I feel about the things that matter the most!!!

It was so amazing walking down the streets of Munich at night and hearing beautiful classical music being played and just stopping for a moment to 'take it in' and just enjoy the beautiful sounds and melodies of past composers - I felt so 'alive' in this moment and as much as I like today's modern music, there is something about being in Europe and being 'swept away' by classical music that is just magnificent!!!

I actually cried as I saw the cathedrals in Salzburg, Austria.  My grandmother I used to watch "The Sound of Music' together every Christmas and she passed away a few months before I went on my Europe trip - actually being in Salzburg and seeing the 'abbey' first hand, I felt my grandmothers presence with me and I will never forget that moment because it made me realize that she will always be with me, even though she is not here physically!!!

The scenery from the train was simply breath-taking, especially when we traveled through Italy, where this picture was taken!  This photograph really captures the beauty of the European landscape - simply stunning!!!  The big cities in Europe are amazing, but so are the little villages, forests and lakes you see in Europe!  Traveling by train is a fantastic way to really 'see' and take in Europe!

I fell in love with Zurich - for some reason, it really resonated with me.  I found the people really friendly, the main city was so beautiful and inviting.  Zurich and Switzerland in general is definitely a place I will be returning to!

A scene from a boat tour we took while in Zurich - I love this photo because it captures someone's real life moment!!!

This was one of my favourites moments during my Europe trip - watching these older couples dancing together was so amazing - they were so present in the moment and enjoying the music and each other - I remember thinking to myself - this is what life and love is about - being with someone who makes you feel 'alive' even 20+ years after you first get married, where things are just so natural and easy-going.  This captures the whole 'growing old together and still in love' feeling that we all crave and look for!

There is a Cathedral in Zurich that was built by Charlemagne and the presence and feeling of history coming alive was so 'real' when I was there - It was awe-inspiring just being there and I really felt a spiritual connection and presence!
Another place that I fell in love with was Strassburg, France - its in the Alsace region, bordering with Germany.  I absolutely loved the old, historical part of the city - the houses and architecture were amazing - I felt like I was walking through history, which is why Europe is so alluring for so many people - its 'timeless'!

One of the traditional dishes of the Alsace region of France is the onion tarte (which is almost like an onion pizza) - the dough was so light and crispy and the tarte itself was so creamy and melt in your mouth - after a full day of walking, I finished this entire onion tarte all by my self and enjoyed every tantilizing bite!!!  I had some of my best and favourite 'food' moments in Switzerland and France.  In Zurich, I had the most amazing salad with hard-boiled egg and a dijon based dressing that was 'out of this world' good - the next evening I had a salad with goat cheese and honey and this pureed vegetable soup that was out of this world - This culinary experience is was taught me that there is no excuse to eat fast or processed foods - you need to love the food you eat, savour it and enjoy it - food is an experience, a love affair.  This is something that the Europeans have discovered and respect to this day!

Last but not least, the light and sound show every evening that illuminated the main Cathedral in Strassburg was 'beyond words' - just try to picture the beauty of this Cathedral coming to life with colours and lights and classical music - add to that the most delicious, creamy frozen yogurt you're 'ever' tasted and you're got an experience that is pretty close to heaven itself.  I will cherish this moment forever!!!

I hope after reading this post you can understand why I love Europe so much and why I am on this eternal quest to 'become' that polished, timeless, classic European!  Its not about a particular city or place - its about being able to get lost in the moment, letting go, enjoying 'living', embracing the now, feeling beautiful and sensual, allowing yourself to eat the most delicious food without guilt and simply loving and being who you are!!!


Anonymous said...

Great Post! I feel the same way you do about europe
but could never verbalize so nicely.

Anonymous said...

I do understand your love for Europe. I was in Switzerland, France, along
Lake Geneva, as well as the Swiss bordering France side and Italy side. Among many charming memories I took home and have retained to always be kept with me, Is something rather simple but it had an impact....I will never forget the hot chocolate placed out on the tables along with baskets of fresh croissants and they explained the milk was so sweet in the hot chocolate and butter for the croissant was very sweet as well due, as they explained, to the dairy cattle free ranging in the alps where wild flowers are abundant and thusly, the milk was sweeter due to the dairy cows having eaten the flowers as part of their daily grazing. Ohhh such decadence indeed. I would love to return. The German area, Bern, was fabulous as well.

So, anyway, I enjoy your blog and just came to this part of it and am loving your views of things... Especially you express admiration having witnessed the older couples enjoying their time with one another and carrying on their tradition of romance... I think you refer to it as their 'enjoying and being in the momenr'. Yes, it is good when we take the time to enjoy our lives many blessings. It makes life so much richer and deeper. Thanks again for your blog and insights... 💞 Keep on being you and finding you and sharing you.... With us! You rock!👍🏻💝😍