Loran Smith: Europe in Summer

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Loran Smith: Europe in Summer

Loran Smith
Loran Smith

It is difficult to book a seat on a plane or find an empty hotel room in the summer in Europe.   The continent is overrun with tourists, many of whom are students who head over for studies abroad or in-depth tours.

The history and the art give you a sense of fulfillment, that you are doing something that is kicking provincialism in the teeth.  You know that your tenth-grade teacher would be overwhelmed.  Ah, the museums—The Louvre, the D’Orsay in Paris, the British Museum in London, the Uffizi, home of The David, in Florence and all that Rome has to offer—from the Sistine Chapel to the Colosseum to the Forum to Circus Maximus to the Vatican, St. Peter’s and Piazza Navona.   





And you eat and drink so well wherever you go.  Paris, Rome, Brussels, Amsterdam, Tuscany, but not greater than you do in the small towns and villages, particularly in the French and Italian countryside.

But don’t become dismayed when you discover that there are as many familiar American fast-food restaurants over there as you find here.  At least in some places.

It is the side trips that heighten travel in Europe.  Like driving 54 miles from Paris to Giverny, the home of Oscar-Claude Monet, but before you go, visit the museum which displays his Impressionist art in Paris.





While you are in France, take a trip to the invasion beaches in Normandy but stay for a week.  The tour is astounding. The story of the beginning of the end of the Nazi regime will make you proud; find a cozy little cross-roads restaurant where the food is very good.  The wine won’t disappoint, and the Calvados (apple brandy) will exhilarate, but only if there is no wake-up call.

There’s Bruges, with the greatest of charm in Belgium, with its sights, restaurants and canals; the stunning Amalfi Coast and a pizza at ol’ Napoli; Rembrandt’s Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam; the Alhambra at Grenada; Salzburg and Viennese coffee; the Bosporus in Istanbul and walking the streets of Prague, as electric of a city as can be.   I would like to live there for a summer.   Lastly, Maastricht is pretty much off the beaten path, but I promise if you go there, you will vow to return.  What a lively, upbeat place!

If you are into sports, you have more options than you do most anywhere.  There’s the Henley Regatta on the last of June.  Talk about tradition and sophistication for a sporting event—featuring white tablecloths and candelabra.  The Tour de France begins in late June and lasts for three weeks, and gets more coverage than an SEC football rivalry.   The running of the bulls at Pamplona, the feast of San Fermin, the second week of July where Spanish aficionados drink more sangria in a week than they do beer at the Super Bowl.   The French Open at Roland Garros is a fortnight of Grand Slam tennis competition, but you will never tire of the sights and sounds of Paris, along with walks down the boulevards adjoining the Seine and dinner at a sidewalk café in the evening.

Wimbledon begins the last Monday in June, also for a fortnight, and while the restaurants of London don’t compare with Paris, you couldn’t have a better travel experience than a pub life for a fortnight in a truly great city.

It all ends with the Open championship in the third week of July.  There are eight venues that host the event—four in Scotland (there were five until Donald Trump bought Turnberry, and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, which runs the championship, will not return to Turnberry until Trump goes away; and four courses in England.  The Scottish courses are Carnoustie, St. Andrews, Muirfield, and Troon, and recently, Royal Portrush in Ireland has been lobbying to become one of the permanent venues on the rota.  I am for that.  The English courses are Lytham & St. Annes, Birkdale, Liverpool (Hoylake), and St. Georges (Sandwich).

You can actually take in all of the venues aforementioned in one trip, but only if you have the time and most of all, the money.   There is no layaway plan.





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