What Do You Miss About Traveling in Europe?

With my 2020 travel plans grounded, it’s now been about 10 months since I set foot in Europe. And I’m itching for a fix. I find the things I miss most aren’t the glitzy cities and the famous sights. For those of us fortunate enough to travel frequently, what we really miss is our traveling lifestyle — those everyday joys of being fully in the moment. We crave the freedom of leaving the office headaches and the household chores behind, and having a span of unstructured time to play, explore, learn, and discover. For travelers, there’s something about life on the road that’s simply magic. Here are a few of those quirky little things that I’m missing fiercely right now.

I miss that “Hey, I’m in Europe!” moment that appears out of the jet-lag haze on the afternoon of arrival. It’s that moment when you feel the cobbles underfoot, hear the swirl of other languages, and realize that foregoing sleep for 20-plus hours — half of which was spent jammed into an economy airline seat — has a huge payoff.

I miss the exhilaration of near-miss connections. Hopping on the train seconds before the doors hiss shut. Driving onto the ferry moments before it pulls out into a dreamy Norwegian fjord. Slipping in the door of a museum just before they lock it behind you.

I miss beautiful doorways, pretty as a picture.

I miss communicating with Italians. I miss telling them that I don’t speak Italian, only to have them brush aside my protests and launch into an impassioned monologue…which I can, somehow, actually understand.

I miss that moment, about a week or two into your trip, where everything starts to fit into your bag perfectly. You’ve got the system down, able to pack up at a moment’s notice and hop a train to the next adventure.

I miss stunning sunsets from the top of a castle, earned by way of a sturdy hike.

I miss the many smells of a busy big-city metro station. Yes, all of them. (But some more than others.)

I miss meeting Europeans who have dedicated their lives to doing one thing and doing it right: Nicola the gelato master.  Tina, who knows the Slovenian Alps like she was born for it (and she was). Gianluca the zero-kilometer Tuscan farmer. And Naomi, who geeks out about Scottish candies.

I miss when a local friend gives me a hot tip for a truly untouristy discovery — the kind of place where you can eat real local dishes, with real locals, for pennies on the euro. That hidden milk bar in Kraków. That back-streets bakery in Mykonos. That amazing fish house in Tangier.

I miss colorful boats serenely bobbing in tidy pastel harbors.

I miss road trips: Figuring out the controls and sound system on a new rental car…and inevitably stalling a few times that first day as I fumble with the stick shift. Scrutinizing maps the night before a long journey to make sure I have the best route chosen, and any worthwhile detours plotted out. And then…hitting the open road, with limitless potential for exploration.

I miss learning some historical tidbit that instantly brings great meaning to what, until that moment, had been just another boring church, castle, or museum. I love how it makes my brain tingle.

I miss bustling market halls.

I miss lifts that zip you up to the top of a mountain in moments…depositing you at the doorstep of a glorious day of hiking above the clouds and the crowds.

I miss hearing an insistently catchy pop song by a band I’ve never heard of — over and over and over again, incessantly, everywhere I go. And then, coming home and realizing nobody stateside has ever heard about it. Until a few months later, when suddenly, it becomes ubiquitous here, too.

I miss Icelandic waterfalls. The blast of cold air, the mist speckling my glasses, the pure, unbridled magnificence of nature.

I miss savoring an entirely new flavor. In Greece, discovering mastica — the sweet natural resin that tastes a bit like licorice, but not quite. In Portugal’s Alentejo, discovering that the unlikely combination of clams and pork is surprisingly delicious. In Moscow, going to a Georgian restaurant for a tarkhun (tarragon soda) and doughy dumplings dipped in a sweet, tart, explosively flavorful plum sauce.

I miss adorable stray cats sunning themselves on a scenic perch.

I miss those cultural epiphanies that unlock not just a new custom, but an entirely fresh way of perceiving the world. Italians scoff at cappuccino in the afternoon…because they believe that consuming too much milk late in the day hinders digestion. Seemingly “unfriendly” French clerks become kind and welcoming when you simply say, “Bonjour, Monsieur” or “Bonjour, Madame.” And all across Europe, after a few weeks, I actually begin to believe that “slow” service is good and polite service — it’s how a restaurant encourages the diner to take their time and savor the experience.

I miss funny signs in Britain.

I miss those little serendipities that make a trip. Stumbling upon a harvest festival in a wine-growing village…and, if you’re lucky, stomping some grapes. Checking into your B&B and learning that the next town over is hosting a Highland Games tomorrow. That time I was in Eger, Hungary, and a hot-air balloon decided to land right in the middle of the main square.

And I miss that perfect trifecta of running out of deodorant, toothpaste, and shampoo on my last morning of a long trip.

What about you? What are you missing about Europe?

109 Replies to “What Do You Miss About Traveling in Europe?”

    1. While in St. Petersburg on their holiday celebration of freedom from the Nazi occupation, leaving a restaurant, we met a man in his 90s with his daughter. She asked if we were Americans? She introduced her father who fought at age 14 in WWII. He spoke through her translations about being walled of from provisions and hiking 50 miles and back to secure food. He was so proud to have served and she was so proud we could hear his message. It was then I truly appreciated how similar we humans are, divided by political ideologies. Travel is wonderful!

    2. I miss the excitement of the adventure. We left Passau on a high speed train heading to Prague. 6 of us ( 3 couples ) with all of our luggage . We piled the luggage up in the space near the entrance steps.
      We didn’t realize our tickets had an assigned train car and seat. We climbed aboard the train car ( wrong car) and it was packed. As we all tried to find a seat and then being told it was filled, we separated and sat wherever we could find an empty seat. Needless to say. This was really a no english speaking crowd. About 45 minutes into the trip the train came to a stop on the tracks and an announcement was made. We didn’t understand it. A student sitting near my wife told her it said that work on the tracks was causing a 20 minute delay. My wife told him we would miss our connection. The student then called the conductor over and told him about the 6 of us connecting to Prague. The conductor came back and told him no worries, he informed the train to wait until we got there. When we pulled into the station platform, the train next to us was waiting. It was an old train something you would see in the 1950’s.
      We told the wives to run over and get on board and the 3 of us guys threw the luggage off the train and dragged it over to the waiting train. We then threw the luggage up to each other on the steps of the waiting train. The conductor was an older looking female of stout size giving us the hard look. As soon as I had passed the last piece up she blew a whistle loud and clear and the train started to lurch forward. I jumped up the steps with the conductor behind me. The train car had the aisle down the side with a sliding door compartment for about 6. The girls found an empty one were laughing having a good time. and just then a man with a styro cooler came down the aisles saying something cold . BEER we yelled out. Yes and water and he only wanted chez money. No euros. We doubled the euros in our hand, he then acted like he was still not happy, but we got the drinks. We made it to Prague!!
      HURRAY. another exciting adventure as we all started telling each other their take on what just happened that morning. FUN.

    3. I was just out of sorts- kind of depressed, confused and feeling like something was missing. And it dawned on me this was the first year in 12 years I didn’t go on a monthly trip overseas. I missed the planning, the anticipation, and then the actual wonderful experience of seeing something new and unique.

  1. I travel alone for six weeks every year. I really miss those spontaneous conversations you have with people sitting next to you at dinner—especially after you’ve enjoyed a couple of weeks of solitude! So fun and interesting!
    You captured many of the things I love and miss so much about travel in Europe!

  2. I miss the adventure of new surroundings and making my way around with Rick’s book and sometimes getting lost only to find out that is not so bad. But mostly miss the architecture in countries that do not tear down buildings that are 50 years old as it seems we like to do in the US. Plus I am now totally bored not being able to plan a trip.

  3. I miss that dank and musty smell of an old stone church. I miss the numerous different ways that sheep make sounds, coming from all directions outside our BnB near Kenmare. I do not miss the sheer terror that is driving the back roads of Ireland. I miss trying to figure out how to pronounce the next stop on the Paris metro only to hear the PA say something completely different. I miss driving UNDER a large boat on the highway south of Amsterdam. I do not miss Keflavik airport. Ok, I do miss it….

  4. I miss seeing and traveling with the friends that I met while traveling solo in Europe. One in London, the other in San Diego…both thousands of miles away from where I live.

  5. First, I miss the people that we meet, no matter the country we are in. I miss the amazing food. I miss the surprises: our apartment in Vienna was right behind Hadyn’s church (I’m a musician)! The jaw drop upon first setting eyes on the chapel at Melk Abby. Arriving in Hallstadt only to learn we were there on the holiday of their freedom from the Nazi’s. And on & on, through 9 countries across the pond so far.
    We can’t wait to travel again.

  6. I miss practicing my new language on taxi drivers, and asking them their take on the news of the day. I am learning German now in the prayer that I will soon be visiting the German-speaking countries within a year or two. I miss hunting for reservations and winging it as we explore from town to town, speaking with local residents and learning about what they love. I miss the world…

  7. I love reading your stories! It brought back so many wonderful memories and how much I miss visiting Europe. I am hoping
    things will be different next year so I can continue my travels.
    Thank you for sharing.

  8. I miss the myriad cats of Istanbul and my delight when the locals understand my halting Turkish. I miss bargaining in the bazaars. I even miss the long distance Turkish buses where the attendant, (yes there is one), comes down the aisle with a little cart and offers you chai. I miss the fabulous burnt cheesecakes in San Sebastian and the snow topped Picos de Europa. I miss everything about traveling except the long plane flights, although I love the long, soulful conversations I have with perfect strangers on those flights. I am booked for a trip next June to eastern Turkey and Georgia and inshallah, I shall be on it!

  9. I miss the planning and all the research I do to map out the perfect trip. Can’t wait for that again.

    1. Hi Sharon,
      Me too! So I am doing it anyway. I don’t know exactly what the trip dates will be, but ah, the planning is such fun!
      Plan away!

    2. Merhaba. My plans to visit Istanbul for 2 weeks last May with my 2 college granddaughter was cancelled. The owner of the condo we rented refunded my money by March 20 and said she had no plans to rent again! We continue to practice a few Turkish words. We were going on to Paris for 2 weeks. The apt owner there has a no refund policy but welcomes us to book a date for next summer. He has sent pictures of the Provence village where his family now stays until it’s safe to return to the city. It’s been an unexpected experience all around. I enjoyed your post.

  10. I miss the joy of seeing places, experiencing the history, villages and the countryside. Checking out old cathedrals and church’s. Taking the train and wondering through the stations.

  11. I miss searching for a special little gift for each of my grandchildren in a faraway, fairytale city in enchanting Europe – a doll, a child’s costume, a tee-shirt, a purse, a book, or a tasty candy.

  12. While my favorite places may be a little different than yours, I adore watching the town or city come to life no matter where I go. Amsterdam, countless other places in the Netherlands, we here i studied my third year of college.

    Like you, I love it all.

  13. I miss all of the above mentioned by you and others. My plans to see Scandinavia for the first time have been put on hold but it is what it is. I need to be patient. In the meantime I have been writing about previous travels for friends on FB, reliving adventures!

    1. Terry, you will love it when you get here! I missed Europe so much that I retired in Finland, after 45 years in the U.S. And I love it here. Life is more relaxed, no worries about health care as every permanent resident has it, just like the natives. There is no stress about if I have the right address or the latest car model or what ever materialistic worries one has in the U.S. I can be here who I am. Finland is a safe country, even the virus has been handled correctly. And surprisingly, I can afford to live comfortably on my retirement check in ‘expensive’ Scandinavia.

  14. I miss Norway and its pristineness, all the waterways and greeness. I miss being able to walk or take your bike just about anywhere and if not hop a bus and/or train or boat. I miss Norwegian food and the hospitality of filling the coffee table with amazing goodies with coffee on the side. I miss my friends in Norway the most. It is so “koselig” there.

  15. I miss walking through the markets, Food markets and retail markets, smelling the different foods and tasting delicious fresh made specialties. Finding that special item you never needed but can’t live without. I miss talking to the stall owners and watching the locals shops. The Naschmarket in Vienna, Rue Cler Market Street In Paris or Puces de St. Ouen, La Boqueria in Barcelona, The Medina in Marrakech, the Flower market in Amsterdam, the Christmas Market in Prague or any European city and of course, Camden Market in London. I miss them all and the ones I have yet to see. MGL

  16. I miss picking up fresh food and cider from the grocery and then picnicking in parks and cemeteries in Stockholm and Copenhagen.

  17. I was 17 on my first trip to Europe in 1960. The best souvenir was the experience of waking each day knowing that I would experience something totally new.

    I miss that feeling most of all. Many more trips to Europe have augmented that feeling. Some were solo trips and many were RS tours. Each day was unique. That contrast to the “Sameday” feeling of the pandemic is what I miss the most.

    I have always found that trips are a trilogy experience: 1) the eager anticipation of planning and preparing; 2) the thrill of the trip itself—that excitement of realizing “I am in a grocery store in Kolding, Denmark!” or “I am actually on the Eiffel Tower!” or “Mürren is enchanting!”; 3) memories of the trip that last forever. The news and films and conversations keep those memories alive.

    New experiences occur spontaneously when traveling. For example, one morning our RS tour group explored the Hamburg harbor by boat and went directly under the bow of the Queen Mary II—amazing. Then that evening I was eating alone at a small place near the hotel and overheard Americans at the next table. We chatted and I learned they had just arrived on that ship that morning.

    My tour in Germany gave me the opportunity to use the German I had learned in college 50+ years earlier and taught in high school.

    I miss speaking German with a young German man on a train ride from Horsens, Denmark to Hamburg. He told me how German youth learn about their history of WWII. I gained insight on how Germans work to make sure the lessons are not forgotten. Such conversations are the best souvenirs.

    I miss traveling on several RS tours with my daughters and granddaughter—and recalling special memories now as we are isolated during the pandemic. Those memories help us endure the limitations imposed on us now. We took my granddaughter every year from when she was ten years old to college, and now she travels by herself—a knowledgeable world citizen.

    I miss so much that travel offers to enrich my life.

  18. I miss gasping and yelling “LEFT! LEFT!” While driving in Scotland. I miss Glaswegians speaking to me in their heavy Glaswegian accent and me standing there with a big dumb look on my face.

  19. Oh wow, yes made me tear up as well! I miss waking up each day early and completely excited no matter what we have planned. I miss market days and smelling all those amazing smells. I miss seeing others enjoy a meal in front of a small restaurant. I miss going into grocery stores and exploring the offerings. I miss the immediate feeling of cool and awe when entering an old cathedral or chuch, and the desire to get quiet and just listen to the building. I miss the youthful feeling of seeing things for the first time with my favorite travel partner (my amazing husband of 25 years). I miss taking mass transit. Thank you for sharing, and letting us share, and thank you Rick Steves for inspiring us to all keep on travelin!

  20. I miss wondering around in towns and villages I’m not familiar with, getting ” lost “, and finding something I wasn’t expecting. I found the best little restuarant in Florence, Italy, a great piece of pottery in Santorini, and an incredible market on Las Ramblas in Barcelona. Just because I got turned around. I miss exploring.

  21. I miss the enjoyment of a cold drink at sidewalk cafes, stumbling upon a great little shop on a hidden side street, dinner at a small family restaurant where the owners treat you like family but not going through the airport and customs.

  22. I miss all of this, and walking to the corner newsstand early in the morning for the Trib (International Herald Tribune, now called New York International Edition) to enjoy with my coffee or tea.

  23. I miss the perfect grace and chill you get actually gazing at The Last Supper, the statue of David, or visiting the cathedrals and museums you only saw pictures of before. I miss those unplanned moments when life itself stands still and you experience something such as the crystal clear silence of a night in Tuscany, looking across a valley at the lights far away. I miss those very human moments that can happen anywhere, but just enhanced your memory of a particular moment on your trip… such as that little girl in a park in Paris bending over and gathering an armful leaves to toss into the October air.
    And of course the wines, the food, the people, and all the other wonderfulness, simply to enjoy and remember fondly.

  24. I miss the sense of adventure finding our way from place to place via different transportation methods…train, car, regional airline, bus, metro, shuttle, cab, uber, etc. I miss finding a hangout spot in the mornings to drink coffee and in the afternoon to grab a beer or two, people watching on a plaza and eating free snacks that came with the beer. I miss hiking through the alps and driving back roads in all countries where we are the only car for miles it seems. I miss the chance encounters with locals who are always so friendly and helpful even though we don’t speak a word of their language. I miss the narrow alley’s and the beautiful doorways. I really want to go back.

  25. Oh Rick, what I miss most about visiting Greece, especially my family’s island and village? Too many to list here, but among them are hearing the loud voice of the local traveling vendor, selling everything from fresh produce and fruits to patio furniture out of the back of his pickup…..repeating his goods and unbeatable prices in a rhythmic tone that lures you off your chair to go see…..an experience I’ll never have Stateside.

  26. I miss Italians, practicing their English on me, every Germanic word sounding so much better in their accents, calling me Lowrrah. I miss Lake Como so much it hurts.

    1. I so miss Lake Como and staying in Bellagio and being on the roof of the duomo in Milan-hopefully will get back to Lake Como!

  27. My answers will be different than most… I’m here… in Europe… I am living in Ireland and here is what I miss. Believe it or not… Americans!!! Listening to them at another table as the tawk about Chicago or Bahston or New Yawk. I miss Germans and the socks with sandals. I miss the French not being too impressed with anything they come across. I miss the hustle and bustle of Grafton Street on a Saturday afternoon. I miss going into a pub… I miss the live music and I miss sitting at a table with complete strangers only to find out that we have someone in common 3,000 miles away. I look for that day that we will all go back to two kisses on the cheek and three if you’re good friends. And I pray that we remember just how special all of these thing are and how lucky we are to have experienced them. Great post Mr. Steves. If you are ever in Dublin, let me know and I will greet you with a handshake and a hug and we can share stories of travels past and future. The best to you and yours. Stay well, stay safe and see you on this side soon please god.

    1. I miss the trip to Italy we won’t get to take in September and October. We finally decided to cancel our airline and hotel Reservations today. I’m so sad after all the planning we did and all the places we planned to visit. I just hope next year we can finally get there.

  28. Ahhh, all of those things you miss made me smile! Gelato on Rue Cler! The universal language when communicating with others not speaking a word of each other’s language & the laughs that follow! The transportation system in Paris! The surprises that happen: mooned in the metro in Paris – sleeping through my stop going to Niort (now what do I do…); sharing the joy of being in this moment together – giving my RS Paris book to a young woman from Kentucky that I met on hop on-hop off & making a friend.

  29. I miss it all too and I am definitely craving returning to Europe but What I will miss the most is being able to travel with my husband Alan – he died right after a cruise to Israel in December 2019. My heart will ache the next time I go back but he and I loved to travel so much it would be wrong not to follow some of his quests he wanted to complete. I had a trip to the South of France in October but that is not going to happen.

    1. I am sad for you and your loss. (I was married 30 years and my husband left for a new life in Mexico.)
      The dreams I had growing old and traveling with him are now gone.
      I hope you are able to find a way to heal and make new plans once the world is safe to travel.
      I, too want to travel a ktothe south of France- I loved that country!
      I traveled across Spain and Portugal last fall. Portugal was magical!
      All the best!
      A retired nurse in Eugene, Oregon

    2. I miss waking up and realizing every morning you are truly there.Walking out in the cool mist mornings to start an everyday adventure. I miss running around packing and seeing the next city in Spain to see the amazing processions before Easter.Palm Sunday at the Vatican then Easter Sunday in Córdoba.The nights of walking in Venice.I miss it all esp the great people !!!

    3. Dear Sheila; I was so touched by your story. I too lost my husband and travel buddy of 36 years. In the five years since I have continued to travel both as a single and with friends or family. Please know this- it does get better- with time. The first trip I did was three months after his death- I was still grieving but it was worth it.

  30. The first thing that came to mind was church bells. Hearing them everywhere whether small churches or big cathedrals, we missed that sound when we got back. On night in Croscombe, England near Wells, they were practicing the bell changes in the church next door. Around 45 minutes of constant bell ringing!

  31. I so miss my yearly trip to Italy. Strolling the narrow cobblestone streets. The open door stores with their goods displayed and the owners standing on their stoops. I always make a point to find the open markets that are in every city. The smells of fish and the vendors shouting out their specials. Locals speaking to you in Italian and even though I don’t speak it I do understand what they are saying. I miss the fascination of walking down the street , turning the corner and find an ancient ruin. The amazing food that can only be found in Italy. I hope to go back…..

  32. I miss the beaches of Greece, it always seems like the days are longer and much brighter ☀️ there. I miss how no matter how busy your daily schedule is, you always make time for coffee at the outdoor cafes with friends.

  33. I miss challenging my brain to use another language. Sometimes It goes well, sometimes a French word ends up in a German sentence. Sometimes the ice cream and waffle shop worker rolls their eyes at me. Sometimes I get away almost believing they couldn’t tell I wasn’t a local.

  34. I miss all the HISTORY I discover at every turn, regardless of the country or city I’m in. You know, the history that is so pathetically forgotten by the American educational system. I miss the churches and cathedrals, even though I’m an atheist. Although I don’t always realize it, I miss getting lost once in awhile. And of course, I miss the food, most of the time! The big problem now, however, in spite of this world panic about a stupid virus, is that at nearly 75 years old, I’ve pretty much come to realize I may NOT be visiting Europe again, which saddens me greatly. Oh well, I still have all the pictures and souveniers that remind me of the 5 or 6 wonderful trips I did have (thanks in no small part to the Rick Steves books!)

  35. I miss my wonderful Rick Steves guides, Jody and Tara, and all of the fun that they brought to our group. I miss all of the extra surprises they managed to work into our trip. I miss all of the wonderful friends that I made on the trip. We still communicate to this day. I miss planning our next adventure, but know that I will one day.

  36. I lived in Brno CZ and Bratislava SK for a couple of years as a teaching missionary. I made lots of getaways on Spring, Summer and Autumn breaks from school. Loved heading off for a new country by train with several changes in empty stations in the pitch darkness and not feeling scared at all. Following the aromas of of coffee, sausages or bier to a perch at an outdoor cafe. And most of all, I miss worshipping in a centuries old evangelical church where I can sing along with familiar liturgical tunes in English rather than the native language.

  37. Thank you for reminding me how much I miss Europe. I retired on August 30, 2019. My wife and I left for Italy on September 14th. We went to 13 countries and had to come home in March due to COVID. I guess I miss the trains the most (and people on them) as we did not rent a car the whole time. Thanks to your books and blogs we had a great time. Can hardly wait to get vaccinated and go back for 12 months.

    1. Royce Mitchell: I’m curious about how you can stay for 12 months (unless you’re European). I thought the tourist visas were good for only 3 months at a time within a year…?

  38. I miss crepes on the street wrapped in paper and eating them with coffee while seating on a bench in St.Germain des Pres watching people passing by.

  39. I will not stop researching and dreaming of trips to come. I am learning to travel as a single retiree and hope to visit many new places.
    I love the people everywhere I go. We are all so similar in so many ways.
    I love finding where the locals eat and shop and tryi something new every chance I get…

  40. I miss the experience of planning the journey. I miss the sensation of taking off on a A380 or a 757 with the satisfaction of knowing I’m on my way to Europe. I miss the chance to see my uncle, aunt and cousins in England, my friends in France, Spain Italy and Hungary. I miss just being sipping either a café au lait in Paris, a cappuccino in Florence or natural freshly squeezed jugo de naranja in Sevilla.

    I miss the exhilaration of bicycling in Amsterdam, and pedaling through Vondelpark and getting lost in the original part of the city where North African and Middle Eastern immigrants now inhabitant.

    I miss the meeting new people who I would meet later in other parts of the world, as I did meeting three incredible strangers on a Bosphorus cruise during my stay in Istanbul.

    I miss it all, really.

  41. I love visiting Europe, but we, like so many others, had to cancel our trip to France and England this year. Instead, we experienced plenty of wonderful, magical moments right here at home, discovering secret gardens, river walks, fields of wildflowers, interesting old churches and other historical places, right here in our neighborhood! Your photos are gorgeous, by the way, but there is nothing you mentioned that we don’t have right here, if you just get out and find it. Instead of lamenting about not being able to travel, I’d rather spend my time right now discovering all the treasures right here at home, and watching my bank balance grow instead of shrink!

  42. I miss everything. The people I’ve met, the food, historical sites, trains, buses, etc. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel about 13 countries and enjoyed so many great moments with my family. So keep on planning, keep on dreaming, this pandemic will end.

  43. I miss the surprises – like walking into a plain, nondescript building, only to discover a gleaming jewel box of a church inside.
    I miss the panoramic views of Iceland, Switzerland, Ireland, Germany, France that I tried to capture with my camera, getting home and gluing all 9 shots into one for a scrapbook page.
    I miss the evenings after a day of travel: going through little paper bags in my purse with new earrings I forgot that I bought that day at a street market, posting pics on Facebook, doing a little laundry in the sink, planning my outfit for the next day of travel, practicing some foreign language, sleeping well after a day of walking for miles.

  44. I miss riding the wonderful trains that can zip you anywhere and if you go a stop too far, just get off and moments later take another one back. I miss stepping into “plain” churches and finding baroque interiors. I miss filming inside churches and happily have an organist or tenor practicing which adds music to my film. I miss the thrill of being in Europe, whether is it some place familiar or new to me. Europe is like meeting new and old friends-experiencing the joy of traveling. I love the wonderment of seeing history in situ-from palaces, battlefields, concentration camps, taking the gondala from Chamonix into Italy, to having to scramble to find different lodgings because the nun didn’t get my booking right or chasing down the monk so I could pay for my 3 days of lodging. Knowing full well that all misadventures will soon become a great story, like getting locked inside a Greek Orthodox church on Saturday noon in Pireus, Greece. Was it a lunch break or would the priest not return until tomorrow? Such fun, such memories and so much education. That’s what I miss but I have faith! I shall return!

  45. I miss the fruit/veg stand…going to meat store….having them cut a chicken breast into 5 thin cutlets so it will cook faster…going out to dinner and hearing, “prego, prego.” The commaraderie. The kindness of people. I now watch webcams of beaches in France/Italy….daily…for hours. I imagine myself on a chaise lounge. I told my husband I would only pack passport, toothbrush, change of undies..and we’re gone

  46. So many, but this is what comes to mind right away from a trip too long ago. Having a lovely conversation with a deckhand on the 16 hour ferry from Ireland to France while my friend slept in my sleeping bag. The kind person bringing me a paper cup of coffee and cellophane wrapped shortcake biscuit. They both tasted delicious. Then about an hour later watching the sunrise as we approached land. A day or two later yelling “look Will, Big Doors” gleefully, if not a big mocking, when we got to the Louvre. Will is tall and had to lean into every doorway in Ireland. Stupidly we tried to do the museum in a day. How the counter person at our hostel looked at us with disdain, but gave us a fantastic restaurant recommendation. My ordering off the Prix Fixe menu the best I could with only a semester of French. Accidentally ordering Liver for him, but luckily he liked it. I did 4+ months backpacking in Europe when I was 21. Now 20 years have passed and this was going to be the year, but soon…

  47. I miss the months of prep of my iti before the trip; finding the best accom-be it hostel airbnb aprtment or hotels n small towns/cities, and later changing my iti.

    Miss the italian breakfast of cappuccino & cornetto, and the sound of morning rush in an italian bar. A meal in a piazza in less touristy places and ringing of church bells at 12nn; regl cuisine in italy; friendly italians anywhere;

    I miss the breakfast buffet in hostels in berlin, munich, frankfurt; the effeciency of german mass public transport.

    I miss the small towns/cities of france like Arles, argentierre in chamonix; less touristy side of provence; french bakeries/pastryshops, cafes.

    I miss the poor regions of switzerland like gimmelwald-so authentic and beautiful.

    The pintxo bars in the basque region of spain

  48. I miss the gasp moment of seeing a place I have been waiting to see for a very long time and where history I’ve learned about has happened!

  49. I miss all the remarkable people I meet along the way: locals who welcome me into their home/lives/towns as a friend; fellow travelers who inspire me through their adventures; the unexpected “connections” with kindred spirits; and characters unlike any I have ever met before.

  50. I miss a way of life that is rooted in enjoying each others company in conversation or song. Sitting with a glass of wine, cup of coffee, a beer and enjoying everything and everyone around you. We have a society based on being entertained …Europeans still find joy in who they are with and sharing. Sharing on a village square is the best dream of all.

  51. I love living in the NOW. At home I try to control everything and in Europe I cannot. I love problem-solving to figure a way out of a situation I had not planned on. It feels so good to figure something out on the spur of the moment and always somehow it works out.

  52. I miss the sound of church bells early in the morning. A wonderful way to greet the beginning of a new day.

  53. I miss the sound of the door alarm on the Paris Metro. I miss the music that precedes announcements on the SNCF. I miss that glorious first day when we hit the streets running even though we’re exhausted. I miss everything you mentioned. I miss Europe.

    1. Having lost one family member and two friends to covid-19, I’m here to tell you
      I am avidly planning my next trip and I can hear them cheering me on! So nuts to you and your sour grapes!!

  54. I miss waking up the first morning in Paris, and going to the open window. There I see Parisians going about their daily life, an can smell the fresh croissants from the nearby bakery.

  55. You nailed it with this post! I miss the history and watching people live their daily lives surrounded by it. I miss the adventure of where to eat, navigating a market where nobody speaks English and pointing and gestures will do. I miss the welcome sign at the airport. I miss being on the train when it passes through a different country and knowing this by the changing of the flags on homes.

  56. So much layers of visible history at close hand. The walkability of so many towns and the ease of getting around. The variety of sounds, smells and tastes. A diversity of languages and cultures. So many places I still want to visit for the first time or, like a longtime friend, see again and again.

  57. I miss the smell of the trees and the sounds of the birds and the scent of women’s perfume — all of which seem different to me in Europe. I even miss the toilets with the different types of flushes!

  58. I miss shopping for locally made arts and crafts in the small shops and marketplaces throughout the countries I visit, that bring back such fond memories when I display them back home.

  59. I miss walking into a bustling patisserie, ordering a fresh pain au chocolat in what I think is French and not be able to wait to eat it because the smell is so darn intoxicating….and why I always by two!

  60. I miss an anticipated solo trip to Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, etc., with a daughter and granddaughter joining me for part of the time. I miss the fun of researching and planning an itinerary, knowing that some things will change as I go. I miss reading about the recent history of a country (about 1930-present) then watching and listening for how that history has effected the lives of current residents ages 50 and over (I’m 77+). I miss laughing at myself when I go the wrong direction on a tram or start to say a simple morning greeting in whatever the appropriate language might be – only to have Chinese slip out, and realizing how badly I need coffee! I miss staying in small private hostels, especially in Eastern Europe, where it’s rare to encounter other Americans. I miss letting go of control and having to rely on the kindness and generosity of others. I miss being reminded over and over that people the world over are no different in their humanity than I am, regardless of the official lines of any government.

  61. I miss the unplanned gems that we find on the way to where we’re supposed to be going, sometimes only stopping there for lunch or coffee and a stroll but turn out to be highlights!

  62. I miss all of the Europe I have enjoyed through the decades. However I have been reviewing and enjoying my photo albums. Whenever the coast it is clear I hope to return to my favorite destinations in Europe.
    I missed 2 blockbuster trips this year due to pandemic.

  63. I miss the thrill of being someplace I’ve only heard about or read about or seen in a photo–or on Rick Steves. The sense of “Golly! we’re actually here!”

    Or the sense of being welcomed back to a place I visited long ago, especially if there are no people around (other than my traveling companion).

  64. Where do I begin…..I miss everything about my travels to Europe! I miss the excitement of being in a country filled with history and walking where others have centuries ago – like Ephesus and imagining the bartering in the marketplace; walking what seems forever up a hill to Sacre Coeur in Paris to be delighted and surprised by the nuns playing folk music; opening the shutters in our hotel in Sorrento and gasping at the picturesque view of tiny boats in the harbor below;meeting a fun couple as we noticed their Rick Steves guidebook and joining them for a trip to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast;all the awesome museums, churches, people and unforgettable memories. So grateful for Rick’s episodes as it keeps me motivated until I can return. I can’t wait!!!!

  65. I miss everything! Had to cancel back-to back trips. First a 2 week bus trip and then a river cruise!
    Give me 30 minutes and I can have my bag packed!
    I live❤️Going to Europe!

  66. What don’t I miss would be an easier question to answer — I don’t miss the long flights or cramped seating, & sometimes I miss American plumbing — but the main things I miss are the surprises & unplanned encounters. Twice we’ve had car troubles & both times gave us the stories & memories which don’t go away: the Swiss camper van’s brakes failing coming down the Dolomites in Italy, & the resulting all-day repair in Florence which led us to follow the mechanics to their cafe when they went to lunch & thus gave us a meal we can’t forget. The blown water pump in England, which put us at the end of a fraying tow rope going to an unknown town, & a night in a hotel with a closed restaurant which led to sharing odd bits of snacks with 2 nuclear engineers, & put us in the hands of a group of village auto mechanics who went scavenging to find a German water pump for a right-hand drive Ford. Turned out we were next door to Gloucester & its magnificent cathedral — we went to Sunday services, had a personal tour by vicar, & because of a blown water pump we experienced people & a cathedral we’d never have encountered. Serendipity & being flexible are the lucky charms of travel — & at age 78 & 80 my husband & I look forward to our next trip on the adventure “express”!

  67. We were scheduled to leave for Italy on the 17th; flying into Zurich and spending 5 days driving to Venice for the back-country Italy tour. I can’t tell you how many nights I explored the roads and villages and sights of Switzerland. Saying we are disappointed is a huge understatement. I check the web site at least weekly to see if 2021 tours are opened up yet, we will be one of the first to sign up. Thank you to Rick and his tour guides letting us live vicariously through them until we can get there.

  68. Every trip we’ve come to enjoy laundry day! Turns out to be a fun encounter with locals! Last trip was two older women in Madrid that watched as my wife and I followed all the instructions except one…pushing the red start button!! One of the ladies stood up looking at me the whole time and pushed the button looked at me smiling then all four of us burst into laughter! I miss the simple.

  69. Most of all, I miss the people I get to meet. Travel has taught me there are special, kind and great people EVERYWHERE. The spirit of living life to its fullest comes alive every time we travel and it is grounded in the joy so many have for loving others and giving the gifts of time and knowledge. Travel makes life special.

  70. I miss all of those things you wrote about so beautifully. For many years I have taken student groups to Europe so I would add this to the list of things. I miss seeing the faces of young first-time visitors. I miss seeing their excitement and watching and listening to their reactions. These moments always bring back the wonder and joy of my own first trip to Europe.

  71. I miss the little Italian woman who shared her peanuts with me while we were waiting for the train in Rome. She blew me a kiss when we parted!

  72. My husband and I take turns deciding where to go and this year was my turn. I usually start researching and planning around February and we go in July. I haven’t even planned anything yet, I’m so sad! I miss figuring out how to get from one place to another, taking small group tours and meeting people from all over the world, and trying out new languages and foods. And I really miss the days when it wasn’t embarrassing to admit I’m from the USA…

    1. I miss the outdoor cafes and the endless hours of just pure people watching. The joy that Europeans exude doing NOTHING!

  73. I miss how you feel when you awaken in a city and a country you have never visited before: like you are four years old again, you don’t know how to read yet, and you understand very little about that place. But you trust you will learn, perhaps, a little bit or more that will stay in your heart forever. I miss stopping while driving in Northern Italy because of a ferocious rain storm, and sharing the sight of a beautiful rainbow afterwards with an elderly lady, leaning out of her window. “Bella!”, I say, and she nods and smiles. Unforgettable. May we all stay well and be able to travel freely again soon.

  74. I miss traveling in Europe so much that I have planned two trips for the second that Europe opens to American tourists. One will be to Germany, Austria, and Prague at Christmas time. Another would be to England and Scotland for any time. i just started looking at Ireland also for Christmas time as my only trip to Ireland was several years ago and I did not spend nearly enough time there. i have been traveling to Europe since 1998, one time each year until I retired in 2004, then Spring and Fall with one trip at Christmas since then. Every trip is planned from Rick Steves Travel books. I almost never make reservations and have not been able to find a room only once. I have been to twenty six countries and many of them more than once. Of coarse, I love European history and I like to think that I do research each place before going. Rick’s books and videos are a must. Thank you Rick for helping to make our experiences the best they can be.

  75. I miss the chance meetings with locals. Once on the Isle of Jersey off the Normandy coast to attend a technical course I arrived at the hotel in the early afternoon, unpacked and went down to the pub. There I met two gentlemen “on holiday” from England. One was a Mercedes salesman from Manchester. The other was a retired Royal Navy officer. We exchanged stories and had a great time while putting away pints. Went to dinner together to a restaurant just a few miles walk down the beach. By the time we finished dinner a few hours later, the tide had come in and we had to find a different way back which was over 5 miles (found a local bus).

    Another time while working in Geneva, Switzerland the site director took me to his second home in Chateaux D’oex, a little village on the scenic rail line (through the Alps) between Montrose and Interlachen. While there we went to a supermarket. While he went inside, I stayed out to view the scenery and take photos. On the other side of the parking lot there was a church “bake sale” underway. I met 3 older ladies at a table and struck up a conversation. We mutually decided my high school French (from 1970) was better than their English. So we had a really nice chat en France. It took a little time and we had to speak slowly, it was one of the highlights of my trip.

  76. I miss the cities that become your favorite stops after thinking they were simply an inevitable place to hang your hat.

  77. Thank you for writing such a wonderful, thoughtful article. It perfectly captured so much of why I love travelling in Europe and why I am heartbroken to be currently banned as an American from doing so. I loved so many parts of this article.

    The constant magic/serendipities of being in Europe are deeply soul-enriching. E.g., a few years ago we were staying at a small town in Umbria, Italy, and they just happened to be hosting a Genesis festival. My husband and I are huge fans of them and were just awestruck at the serendipity of this festival happening in the square below our rented accommodation. The Italians who were part of this festival were so kind to us and shepherded us around during a tour they were having of ancient sites in the town, even translating Italian into English for us. Late into the night we could hear Genesis music and we felt just utterly in heaven.

    I started crying at the end of this article. This article brilliantly captures the nuances of the joy I feel every moment of every trip in Europe–thank you!

  78. I miss being where I feel I really belong. A few years ago, I made a decision to keep my responsible, good paying job, so long as I made it to Europe, specifically Italy, once a year. I figured I didn’t have any special talent to make it big and live in Europe but I had it in me to earn a good living that I could spend a few weeks in Europe every year. I’ve since made it to Europe 10 consecutive years. Our last trip was Nov 2019. With the recent restrictions, I ache and long for another trip to Europe. Maybe someone soon? It’s heartwarming to know I’m not alone in this feeling.

  79. My wife is not a big fan of flying, but I have made 4 severl week-long trips to Europe during 2014 to 2019 with our son. Our last trip was to the 75th Anninversary of D-Day in June of 2019. We did a 10-day paid tour, not our normal method, but wanted to ensure we had a up close seat at one of the June 6th ceremonies – ours was at Utah Beach. We spent another 5 days in Germany, returning to some sites we had visited before and wanted to see again. We attended the US Women’s World Cup match against Thailand in Rhiems. My son got married that year, so I have to get my wife to become my overseas travel partner when we return to some sense of normalcy. As someone else posted, “I missed the planning, the anticipation, and then the actual wonderful experience of seeing something new and unique.”

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