I recently saw some of my Aussie friends in London. They were travelling Europe, one of them even for over a year. It always fascinates me to see how thrilled they are to come here. To them, Europe is a foreign continent. And I’m even more perplexed when I hear them utter resentment at having to return to Sydney. If it were me, I would love to return to Sydney. But of course, I’m European. I live here. For me, going to Australia is as big an adventure as it is for them to come to Europe. Going away is always more exciting than going home.
As none of my friends took me up on my offer to fly to Australia for them, they eventually returned to Sydney, and I returned to Hamburg. And maybe it’s better this way. It turns out that some of my Aussie friends have seen a lot more of Europe than I have – and I lived here my whole life. So it looks like I got some catching up to do.
In Europe you find so many different countries with different cultures, histories, languages, and traditions – and most of those countries are as strange and exciting to me as to a non-European. And yet, somehow a trip to a European destination feels very different from a trip abroad.
I might simply be because of vicinity. To many European countries I could drive by car and it wouldn’t take more than a couple of hours for the closest, a couple of days for those further away. With a plane I’m there in an hour or two. If I go abroad, I have to sit on the plane for a whole day. A place so far away just has to be more exciting than something close by. Right? Europe is home. The rest of the world is the adventure!
The difference in distance affects my travel behaviour. Because everything in Europe is so close I can go places just for a few days, or a week. On the other hand, if I went abroad I would want to have at least a few weeks to make the trip worth it. The result is that whenever I have a long time to spare for travelling, I take the chance to go far away. Europe I can still do when I come back.
For this reason I have never done Europe in the extensive, travelling-for-months way in which I have done Australia. I always do a few days here and there, and certainly covered quite a lot with this method over the years, but there still remains so much to be seen. I’m very fortunate to live in this continent where discovering different countries is so easy. I love travelling Europe, and I’m looking forward to explore more of it. But I still wonder if I will ever feel about Europe as such an adventure as other continents.
Maybe I should just take a few months off and do a road trip, so I don’t have to feel like my long-distance friends have seen more of my continent than me!
Does anybody share this sentiment? Or do you have it the other way around, and you wonder why the Europeans coming to your country go so crazy about it? And do you think that road trip would be a good idea? Share in the comments!