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The Bookish Planet: Europe to Americans

Hi Virtually Readers! Welcome back to another Bookish Planet. Today’s guide features Europe. Yes, all of Europe. It might seem like a big place than you can’t generlise with a travel guide under a thousand words, but you’re wrong. If you’re an American, especially an American under the age of twenty, it’s very easy to see all the important bits of Europe AND find yourself within the space of, say, a single summer. This guide will introduce you to the Europe that Americans know. Also, shoutout to Marie @Drizzle and Hurricane Books, who is not only a lovely person but also inspired and gave me feedback on this post. 

Featured in: Girl at Sea, Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, Just One Day, The Girl’s Guide to Summer, Wanderlost, Heist Society, Anna and the French Kiss, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Love and Gelato. 

Description: Europe is always sunny. This is because, if you’re a sensible YA character, you will only visit it in summer. You will only be able to travel to the places that people have heard of: Paris and Amsterdam are in, Darby and Abruzzo are out. You will be amazed at all the history, the people, the effective public transport, and of course the food. If you’re not eating gelato on every second page (if you’re in Italy) or croissants and baguettes (in France), or paella (in Spain), you’re probably not in Europe. There is no such thing as obscure region specialities, because people in the US won’t belive you if you ate something they haven’t heard of. And if you can’t see an iconic sight, like the Eiffel Tower or the bridges of Venice, then you are probably not doing a good enough job at being in romantic places; try harder. There will be iconic places everywhere; well, as long as you go where the rest of the tourists go. Occasionally you’ll feel obliged to eat at a small and slightly grimy café, just to prove that you went off the beaten path sometimes; but you’ll be much more comfortable in the places where you’re surrounded by other foreigners. The important parts of a country—the parts where you can find yourself AND fall in love—are not determined by the people that live there, but by your travel guide (like this one, and I’ll quickly list them for you: Sagrada Familia, Eiffel Tower, [sunny beach in South France with sunbathers], the Colosseum, Big Ben (if you count the UK as part of Europe, and you’re an American Anglophile, so you do), the temple to Athena whose name you can’t remember in Athens, the canals and bridges of Venice. Alternately, read any of the books listed above and you’ll find all the other important sights.). Oh, and you’re not really go into any of these countries because they don’t feature in any movies you’ve ever watched about Europe, so therefore must not exist: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Kosovo. Basically the Balkans and the Baltic.)

People: Yeah, the people are a really appealing part of Europe. If you’re a young, you’re sure to meet people in two categories: 1, grumpy old people who suck at English, hate tourists, and make you feel like you’re seeing the real Europe; and 2, attractive and cool young people of whatever gender you find attractive who know local secrets (ooh, exciting), enjoy drinking because the drinking age in Europe is 18 or younger, and will somehow have enough money to accompany you on part of your travels. There are other people in Europe, but if you meet people who deviate from the national norm (Muslim Danes, Italian speaking Swiss, black Spanish), you’ll be in the minority, and again you might not really be in Europe, because as we know, all Europeans are white, except for the ones who are really really tanned. But, just be warned, you might fall in love with one of these Europeans, and the one you fall in love with will definitely speak English and there won’t be any issues with, say, your parents or their parents that will stop this romance from being the only one that will ever matter. 

History: Ugh. History. Do I even need to cover this? You probably know it all already. The Germans caused WWII and are sorry, don’t worry, they’re cool now; they occupied France (was there something called the Maignot line that didn’t work?) and then there was Russia for a while, just all over everything, ugh, and Germany was split, and then some wall fell, how fun, and the Cold War happened and then at some point there were rich cities in Italy that paid Leonardo Da Vinci to make stuff. Oh, and there were Crusades, how fun right? And there were dark ages, oh my goodness, America never had Dark Ages because Christopher Columbus escaped from them and started America, good for him. There’s lots of history, you’re going to be soaking it in all day, you’re a total expert. 

Where to Stay: You might have to stay in one or two youth hostels. Sorry about that! But it’s a great location to meet other young people who are having a fun time. Mostly though you have a lot of cash and not much explanation of where it comes from, so you get to stay in swanky hotel rooms in perfect locations with little to no supervision. And if you’re lucky you’ll get to be in a swanky bus or a boat that is somehow available to you. If you make friends with the locals* you can maybe stay with them and experience ‘authentic cuisine’, which will probably be a three course meal. There are places to stay everywhere in Europe as long as you only go where other tourists go.

*the English speaking, inexplicably good looking locals

Dangers: There might be some people who will try to rip you off. But you have a ridiculous amount of money for an eighteen year old without a job, so that shouldn’t trouble you. Otherwise, there are pickpockets, but, despite this being your first trip, you’re far too savvy a traveler to let them bother you. 

So, was this painfully true? Do you think Europe is romanticized? Tell me in the comments! 

7 thoughts on “The Bookish Planet: Europe to Americans

  1. LOL!
    This cracked me up “all Europeans are white, except for the ones who are really really tanned”… 😀

    I haven’t read many YA books that involved European trips but those few i did… yea, everything is overly romantic and perfect and cool.
    Last month i went to Spain, and language was kind of an issue. Not everyone spoke english, even among those who worked in restaurants or on the beaches.

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  2. It’s strange to comment on your own blog posts but I would just like to shout myself out for doing the cliched 18 year old travels europe and finds themselves (lol @ that though). BUT I can definitely say I saw a few non-cliched places (like Gothenburg, Smoland, Glasgow, and western scotland) and a lot of cliched ones (london, Prague, Copenhagen. Maybe Edinburgh and Stockholm?) . Also, I didn’t get robbed even though I’ve barely travelled alone. I was probably in YA book and not even aware of it.
    Oh wait. I didn’t kiss any hot Europeans. I must have failed.

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    1. I 100% appreciate your comment anyway. I’m proud of you for being a non-cliched self-aware cliche. Not getting robbed was definitely an accomplishment, not kissing hot dudes was not

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  3. SHANTI, this is a GREAT post. And I’m not just saying that because I’m seeing my name on it ahah. Thank you again for mentioning me, I’m so glad that I could be useful and even happier that you ended up writing this post. It makes me so sad, sometimes, to see Europe being so cliché, especially France, since I feel more concerned about that one, since it’s the country I know best ahah. It’s always pictured as romantic, is it ALWAYS set in Paris (there are other cities), more often than not, it’s a summer-y adventure… and it makes me sad. It is FREAKING COLD here in Winter, let’s set some books there, on the cold dark streets or something, French whisperers or something. Sorry, I’m kind of rambling here. All of this to say, I so agree that Europe is, more often than not, romanticized. If it’s good to escape, it’d be great to see some books set there, a bit different, quite not so “picture perfect”, with getting lost, language barriers, rainy days and so on.
    Great post 😀

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    1. I’m so glad you appreciated it, Marie! Your comments about the cliche of Europe in the pasta definitely helped to inspire me though. Europe is far north and it gets cold, all these writers forget about it. I ‘m always worried about satire, because it’s a bit hit and miss, but I’m glad this worked!

      Liked by 1 person

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