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Travel in Europe

We sell authentic and (mostly) self-guided bike trips, hiking trips and driving tours in over 10 different European countries.
Europe Lives promotes affordable travel, freedom and flexibility. Feel free to touch base with us.

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    Small Europe

    Most of my life I’ve lived in The Netherlands. As this is a very small country, it is easy to travel abroad. If there are no traffic jams, you can be in Belgium or Germany by car in less than an hour. Also Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy and Germany are reasonably close to each other regarding distances. 

    It’s hard to imagine for most North Americans how ‘small’ Europe actually is. Last week I met a girl from Calgary. She told me that she sometimes visits her brother for the weekend, travelling 16 hours! In 16 hours you can drive from The Netherlands to the middle of Spain, passing Belgium and France. And France is even the biggest country in Western Europe.  

    Fact is, if you add up the square kilometers of the European countries which are most visited by North Americans, you can understand the proportions a bit. Countries like France, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands and Spain have a total of 1.75 million km² while Canada alone has 9.9 million km². 

    Small cars in EuropeAnother difference with North America is that you don’t have roads in Europe that continue in a straight line for hundreds of kilometers. Besides the lack of space, there are simply too much villages, cities and borders in between. 

    In the Alps you’ll find quite winding roads like spaghetti laid out on a mountain. A good example is the Mount Stelvio in Italy. It is a breathtaking road. BBC’s popular car program Top Gear once voted it as the most beautiful road to drive in the world. I even rode it by bike, long ago…

    Anyway, the advantage of Europe is that you can cross several borders within one holiday if you plan it properly. Not only by car (europelives.com/self-drive), but also by train, on a bike (europelives.com/cycling) or even on foot (europelives.com/walking). But remember that each country still has its own style, culture, language and …something innocent like bread. 

    Welcome to Europe!

    Olaf Dijkstra

    You’ll get a good impression of Europe by watching some of our Flickr photos.

    A short video about life in Italy.

    Basic things to know about Italy for travellers

    Lunch in ItalyMany travellers to Italy know of its history, culture and cuisine, but there may be some small practical details about Italian life that tourists would benefit from knowing before embarking on their vacation.

    Travellers who come to Italy in August should be prepared to find cities like Rome, Venice and Florence largely abandoned, with the exception of certain shopkeepers and tourists. This is because like in France, Italians primarily go on vacation in August. Many businesses are closed, but those that cater to tourism may remain open.

    Another timing-related issue to consider when traveling to Italy is that the country’s restaurants often close for a period of several hours shortly after lunch. Not only do they do this because of decreased business during those hours, but also to provide their employees with the chance to eat and take a break during this time.

    Cuisine-related peculiarities and traditions abound in a culture so well-known for its food, but there are nevertheless a few basic things to remember that may helpa tourist make the most of his meals. Italian restaurants typically serve an appetizer, followed by a first course of pasta, which is followed by a second course of meat or fish. Salad is eaten after all these courses, as it is reportedly believed to facilitate digestion. 

    Isn’t that already a good reason to head over to Italy right-away? 

    Take that little country road which seems to lead to nowhere. Surprise yourself with those little treasures that are hidden from many and known to only a few.
    Ride your bicycle or walk through ancient history and cultures. A small chapel, built centuries ago, the perfect swimming spot where only locals go, that unique restaurant where they make the best ravioli you have ever tasted, the grape farmer who insists you try his wine out of sheer pride…

    You will find it soon at www.EuropeLives.com 

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