10 Moments of European Zen

Coronavirus, ack! Just a few weeks ago, I was putting the finishing touches on an ambitious itinerary of 2020 travels: Amsterdam. Berlin. Budapest. Poland. Iceland. Norway. Tuscany. But now all of that has been turned upside-down by that pesky bug. In the middle of January, I posted on Facebook: “Top priority for Europe-bound travelers in 2020: Avoid crowds.” I had no idea just how right I was!

We live in surreal times. The risk of coronavirus is serious, and those of us who take it to heart can easily get sucked into a whirlpool of panic. But we all need a break every now and again. During this period of self-isolation, I’m daydreaming about Europe like crazy…it’s helping me get through a period where my entire world is about the same size as my living room.

I miss Jon Stewart. I miss him for a lot of reasons, but one of my favorite Daily Show rituals was his sign-off each night with a “moment of zen.” After covering all of the day’s most consequential stories, he’d finish up with a surreal, beautiful, or thought-provoking non-sequitur…as if to cleanse the viewer’s palate before going to bed.

I think we could all use a palate-cleanser these days. So below I’m sharing 10 moments of European zen. I hope these calm and inspire you with the knowledge that there’s a big, beautiful world across the Atlantic that will still be there on the other side of this thing. (And if you find yourself hyperventilating from the headlines, click back here and take five deep breaths as you look at each photo. Works like a charm.)

And so, without further ado, here it is — your 10 moments of European zen:

Piran, Slovenia

Kirkjufell, Iceland

Lucca, Italy

Cotswolds. England

Rila Monastery, Bulgaria

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Honfleur, Normandy, France

Kastelruth/Castelrotto, Dolomites, Italy

Santorini, Greece

Stay safe and healthy, everybody! See you in Europe…someday.

43 Replies to “10 Moments of European Zen”

    1. I had all the plans in place to take my three grandchildren to Italy, in June, a county I love and couldn’t wait to share with them. Last May I enjoyed Rick’s, Best of Italy in 17 days which I loved. Our tour guide Elena lives in Venice, checked in with her and she doing OK. Thanks for the Zen moment. We all need one.

    1. We arrived at Rothenburg after 4 pm when the busses had departed. Beautiful light and just enough people to provide human scale in photos. Magical! Thanks to our waiter at breakfast in Frankfurt who said we must go.

  1. We plan to go to France in spring and Italy in fall. We are not in a threatened group (elderly nor weak immune system). All that said, we are totally careful in all ways. See ya there!

  2. Loved your pictures – brought up many traveling memories. We are going to continue to travel until God says NO MORE!!!! Thanks for sharing and making m6y day alittle more tranquil.

  3. Lovely photos! Like you, I am waiting to cancel my trip this year to see what transpires in the next few months. I am booked on a trip to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia – which are uncomfortably close to Iran, which seems to be one of the hardest hit in the world. I am also in the high-risk age group, so this also gives me pause. Maybe those places will have to wait for me

  4. Ack is a good word. As you know Laura and I are scheduled to fly into Milan April 29th and take a train to Cinque Terre. We are upside down on are we going on not. Probably just keep watching as each day passes. Our biggest concern is will Italy still be escalating and can we get back into the US at the end. That being said we are so concerned with the economic effect to people like Isabella at Cretaiole!

  5. I’m heading to South Africa in April followed by a week in England to celebrate the 75th D Day anniversary. Unless I’m quarantined in HOUSTON, I’m going. You want to learn about a real epidemic and quarantine, read about the 1873 Yellow Fever or the 1918 Flu. We are not there.

  6. We fly on March 17th to return to Europe for a 2 month adventure in France (Dordogne) and the UK (Worcester and the Lake District). We’re both in our 60’s but have spent months getting in the best shape possible. We’ll be vigilant about hand washing and use of hand sanitizer, and by avoiding big cities we’re hoping to reduce exposure. Bring on the fine wine, the cheese, and the opportunity to ramble around those historic sites!

    1. Hope you were able to fly to France on your intended date and are safe and well, wherever you are. After October in the HOLY lands I debate among OAT adventure to Egypt or maybe a share to surface for Lapland, Finland arctic Norway – I loved the Westman Island, Iceland and East Greenland adventure – yet also want to get warm and feel the sea. wonder what will open? Enjoy all the rich experiences you are having.

  7. Heading for Republic of Ireland and North Ireland in June. We’ve been planning for decades to make this trips and hate to give it up. we do have “cancel for any reason travel insurance” that may well turn out to be a good investment. But by June we should have a better idea of our risks. Being over 70 and some medical issues makes us more cautious for sure. The biggest concern is as someone else said, getting back into the US!

  8. I’m leaving to Lake Como Italy March 15 for 9-1/2 weeks, where I have a permanent aparttment. It’s a bit scary, but as usual, the fear seems all out of proportion. Yes, I will be as careful as possible, and, like you Cameron, it is difficult to not touch my face, but I will work on that. Hopefully by late May when I return, everything will be a lot calmer. Happy travels to all, be brave if you can, and keep on traveling!

  9. Not traveling abroad until October but still finalizing plans. Portugal and Spain await. In the meantime, following all the guidelines. We are trying to be smart.

  10. I’m planning a trip to Italy with my husband in September, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m going no matter what LOL. I’ve been dreaming about this for a decade. I can’t stand the idea that I’d have to cancel or reschedule.

  11. Awesome photos, Cameron! Are you using a camera that offers HDR (high dynamic range) capabilities? That’s a technique I have yet to master.

    1. Thanks, Glenn. Yes, my camera (Nikon D750) has built-in HDR. About half of these photos were taken with that feature. Once you get the hang of it, it’s perfect for capturing certain scenes (especially high-contrast situations).

  12. It is wonderful the way that many of your photos bring out the 3 dimensional nature of the scene, including distant objects as well as near objects. The Santorini photo is almost a photo of a cat but has two distinct areas of interest behind the cat. The Rothenburg photo is a bit like an Escher painting.
    Amazing work.

  13. Thank you for such an uplifting post, reminds us of all the beautiful places to see and treasure, perfect Zen joy

  14. Visited Granada, Córdoba Sevilla and Malaga last year equipped with knowledge from Rick Steve’s guidebook and video. Unfortunately our much anticipated trip of a lifetime to Santorini and Dubrovnik had to be cancelled since the tour will start in Venice. Thanks for sharing these pictures. Miss Europe.

  15. Thank you for these lovely reminders of places I am no longer able to visit. I’m the family memory keeper so this prompts me to pull out some old travel scrapbooks and see if I have a few ‘zen’ photos.

  16. Thank you for these moments of Zen. I’m booking my hotels for Ireland & Scotland today for my August adventure! As Rick always says “Keep On Traveling”!

  17. The Santorini cat is a doppelgänger of my boy Copper. Both love basking in the sunshine. With a perfect view of the caldera who wouldn’t ?

    Linda

  18. Thanks, Cameron, for the Zen of Europe. I used to see your Mom and Dad at Harbor Square at the circuit express class; please tell them I said, Hello!

  19. You’ve never let us down in the many years we have trusted your advice. Always great tips. Super do and don’t pointers. We will miss not tearing through your guide books this year. The zen photo of The Cotswolds says it all. We will…..keep on traveling….with you. Be safe.

  20. Thank you so much! Beautiful photos! I’m really missing my extended family in Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

  21. Beautiful pictures. Piran, Slovenia is just one of the pictures I would like to see the artistically inclined among us draw or paint.

    Many of us can not travel because of health or financial reasons. We take much vicarious pleasure when we ‘travel’, learn and enjoy by viewing Rick Steve’s great videos, travel guides, and other works

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