Which brings me back to this notion of the ‘eternal Europe.’ Despite the upheavals of past centuries, the colonizations and cataclysmic wars, Europe still endures and enchants. Great cities like London, Paris and Venice continue to fascinate and attract visitors from around the world. Ancient villages and towns seemingly unchanged by time can beguile one for days. In many of these places it can be both surprising and reassuring to find traditional ways that have also endured alongside the advances of modernity.
On a purely personal level, I find European sensibilities in general, quite appealing. I’m especially fond of their belief in ‘taking time’ to breathe in the life all around. You’ll find this in one form or another in any European nation. From the UK to Greece, people make time to enjoytime, to appreciate their city, village, or neighborhood while sipping an espresso or a glass of wine at a sidewalk cafe. You’ll see them sitting outside taking lunch in a plaza or on a busy boulevard, chatting with friends in a park, and strolling pedestrian-friendly streets in the evening.
This enlightened sensibility has also produced some of the most attractive public spaces anywhere. For centuries, the great pedestrian plazas and squares found throughout Europe have served the common good in this way by encouraging citizens to see each other. It’s people-watching as high art. For Americans born into a ‘car culture’ where our homes and machines have replaced these common spaces, this is, literally and metaphorically, a breath of fresh air
Lastly, Europe can feel like an embarrassment of riches for photographers. Wherever you turn there’s something to charm the eye: impossibly picturesque villages, Medieval walled cities, gothic cathedrals and ancient ruins, bougainvillea-draped stone houses, cobbled lanes and clay-tiled roofs, azure seas in white-washed harbor towns. Just don’t forget to take time and savor what’s around you as Europeans do.