I finally get it.
The best time to travel around Europe is November!
All the great-weather tourists have long disappeared, and it’s a month until the Christmas/New year tourists will be back en masse. Yep – November is the perfect time of year for leisurely strolls along European streets and visiting (empty!) cathedrals, palaces and museums. Of course, the weather’s not super fine like in summer, but then Europe – especially southern Europe – doesn’t have a harsh northern climate anyway, so it’s perfectly doable.
Of course, you have to expect some rain, and you need to put a coat on… Big deal. A small price to pay for avoiding throngs of folks everywhere getting in your face, for not having to stand forever in endless lines, and not needing to get out of the way of pictures being taken by a zillion other tourists.
A.B. and I were lucky on this quick trip to Europe: We managed two hours walking gondoliering around Venice and a whole day strolling around Barcelona.
The two hours in Venice were unplanned and spontaneous – and all the better for it. En route from the nano-race we had some time until our onward connection so we set out for a bit of Venetian nano-tourism.
Briefly, everyone needs to experience Venice at least once in a lifetime; to look around the place, and also update one’s knowledge of the fascinating history of the Republic.
And what history! Grandeur, gold, power, might, treachery, intrigue and hypocrisy… it’s all here. And it all occurred in these very buildings that still stand here on these canals. So it’s obvious the place is a hit with tourists (and rich folks getting married, etc.). Which brings me back to the title of this blogpost: November and Venice – they were made for each other.
So, yeah. If you’ve been putting Venice off for some reason, it’s time to stop that and get yourself there. You won’t regret it!
Here’s what we got to see and snap in just two hours:
All the photos are here.
After a quick 90-minute flight we were in Barcelona – one of my favorite European cities.
One thing I noticed this time which I never really thought about in the past was how the corners of buildings on squares downtown appear lopped off – so you get eight-sided squares:
There’s something about Barcelona. It’s easy on the eye, friendly and relaxed somehow. Gentle and non-aggressive and with a positive atmosphere. Plus the wide boulevards and architectural aberrations (Gaudi-ness). It’s a city where you just walk and walk and walk and don’t want to stop walking. Which is what we did – covering around 15km in six hours!
Our first attraction, naturally, was Sagrada Família. Massive and magical. Pity it kept drizzling – it made the very top level out of bounds for some reason. Oh well, next time…
My travel companion A.B. had this to say about the place: “I’d been to Barcelona before, but we didn’t go inside the cathedral as the line to get in was just ludicrously long. Now I regret not standing in line… inside it’s simply cosmic! It really needs to be seen and admired for a good while. And now, the end of November, it’s the perfect time of year to do it. Not that many folks; simply excellent.”
Next up was something I’d been wanting to do for years: to climb up the hill above Barcelona to get to Sagrat Cor. The view was as I suspected: sensational.
If you do get here, don’t get your funiculars mixed up. This time we took a different one, which earned us an extra five kilometers to cover on foot. Bonus :).
And if you do get up here to the top – make sure you wait for the sunset. OMG!
Alas, we didn’t have time to check out any other places of interest in Barcelona (of which there are plenty) before we had to do a bit of work (meeting partners and customers, attending meetings, etc.).
The highlight of the official part of our trip was a fantastic pre-Christmas dinner with partners and customers. It was in the National Art Museum of Catalonia. What a setting. Simply awesome! Check it:
All the photos are here.