Traveling to Europe is a life-long dream for some, a mid-summer break for others. For Americans, Europe is the number one travel destination both in terms of actual travelers and the destination that tops the most wish lists. Unlike Europeans, who often get a full month or more of vacation time every year, most Americans only have one week of vacation to see all of Europe, two weeks if they are lucky. For the wishful dreamers and the seasoned travelers, we present the three of the absolute most original and quintessential destinations to visit in Europe when you only 7 days or so, most of it recovering from jet lag.
When you arrive in Athens, immediately take the first flight out for Paros. There will be plenty of time to scrabble over the Parthenon on your way home. You need to get to the islands as fast as possible and then slow way down. Nothing happens fast on Paros. Dining in a seaside cafe is long and luxurious, the sun seems to hover in the sky as you lie on the ancient beaches where philosophers have paced for centuries. Settle in for a week and you will forget about clocks and schedules in the eternal Cyclades.
Remember when travel meant seeing something completely new, not the same franchise restaurants and hotel chains everywhere? You don’t have to remember. Rab is first among the islands of the Adriatic Sea off the coast of Croatia that can show you the true heart of Europe. Silent pine forests, forgotten coves with soft sand beaches and warm breezes under the hot sun. Tiny stone houses and welcoming villagers with fresh baked bread and sweet wine in a wooden cup. You won’t need to believe in fairy tales. You will be in one.
Mont Saint Michel, France
Yes, Paris is everything you’ve ever heard. When you have a month, visit Paris. When you have a week or so, you can discover what makes Parisians so proud of being French. It is here in Normandy, where the people still remember D-Day and waive American flags for their “liberators.” Mont Saint Michel is impossible to describe with words. It is a medieval fortress/fantasy castle/miniature city/occasional island. It sits on the coast, but when the tide comes in every day it becomes an island. The tide rushes in so fast you can see the land disappearing under your feet. Once inside Mont Saint Michel, you will find yourself welcomed into French culture and cuisine that makes even Paris jealous once in a while.