One of the things for which non-Europeans are most jealous of Europeans is the closeness of everything to each other. It was one of the things which drew me to the continent in the first place; the fact that so many languages, cultures and peoples inhabit a pretty small chunk of the world, yet their influence has shaped the rest of the big wide world around them.
Growing up in Australia, short trips usually centred around two things; the bush or the beach. We’d go camping down in the Otway Ranges each school holidays, and go down the Bellarine or Mornington Peninsulas in search for a couple of free square metres of sand.
I distinctly remember my first major pang of jealousy regarding a European’s’ minibreak. I was in Hamburg, and a bunch of Londoners were staying at my hostel. They were all seeing the city as well as Berlin for their long weekend. Poms, it seems, have public holidays especially designed for cavorting off around the continent. They’re called bank holidays, and nobody’s ever been able to articulate to me as to why they actually exist.
Since living in Holland, Paul and I have minbreaked back to Hamburg, up to Holland’s northern cities of Groningen and Leeuwarden, caught the train over to London for a few days and I even made a last minute decision to see the Christmas markets in Cologne for a weekend. Paul’s even taken a day or two off work to visit me in Berlin, Prague and Barcelona.
It’s pretty easy then, to see why the UK is such an attractive option to tens of thousands of young Aussies, Kiwis and Canadians. You can easily get a working holiday permit, the job market is in your lingua franca and the continent is only a train ride or short budget flight away.
So, finally I’m going to use a bit of my knowledge gained as a tour guide and every Sunday night I’ll publish a new ‘A weekend in…’. If you’re in Europe already and saving up those pennies, it might give you a few ideas. If you’re still Down Under, there might be a few places you can sew together to create your own trip.
In any case, it will definitely make you jealous of anyone ‘celebrating’ a bank holiday.