Where Cultural Diversity and History Meet
Ah, Europe. What is it about sun-soaked vineyards, snowy mountain peaks, cobbled lanes and the smell of fresh-baked croissants that draws 460 million people each year? Perhaps it's that feeling of walking back in time, a baguette under one arm. Sailing along the Cote d’Azur, with the waves of the Med lapping against the hull, or browsing Venetian market stalls, you can’t help but get swept up in the sheer romance of the place. This is the land of Coco Chanel and Bridget Bardot, of Da Vinci, Pavarotti and Puccini. There’s subversive street art for the hip, farm-fresh food for the hungry and a cathedral full of culture for those plagued by incurable wanderlust.
What to Expect
Culture and Traditions
The culture of Europe can be described as a series of overlapping cultures; cultural mixes exist across the continent. Scholar Andreas Kaplan describes Europe as "embracing maximum cultural diversity at minimal geographical distances". There are cultural innovations and movements, sometimes at odds with each other. Thus, the question of "common culture" or "common values" is complex.
Weather and Climate
Europe lies mainly in the temperate climate zones, being subjected to prevailing westerlies. The climate is milder in comparison to other areas of the same latitude around the globe due to the influence of the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream is nicknamed "Europe's central heating", because it makes Europe's climate warmer and wetter than it would otherwise be. The Gulf Stream not only carries warm water to Europe's coast but also warms up the prevailing westerly winds that blow across the continent from the Atlantic Ocean.
Europe makes up the western fifth of the Eurasian landmass. It has a higher ratio of coast to landmass than any other continent or subcontinent. Its maritime borders consist of the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian Seas to the south. Land relief in Europe shows great variation within relatively small areas. The southern regions are more mountainous, while moving north the terrain descends from the high Alps, Pyrenees, and Carpathians, through hilly uplands, into broad, low northern plains, which are vast in the east. This extended lowland is known as the Great European Plain, and at its heart lies the North German Plain. An arc of uplands also exists along the north-western seaboard, which begins in the western parts of the islands of Britain and Ireland, and then continues along the mountainous, fjord-cut spine of Norway.
Stretching over the vast majority of central Bulgaria rises the picturesque haven of the Rodophe Mountain range. Here endless stretches of meadows juxtapose dark coniferous forests forming a lush green montage. Rodophe is home to dramatic canyons, spectacular gorges and some of the most protected wildlife species in the world! Legend also claims that the mythical singer Orpheus was born here, enchanting the people and animals of the mountain with his magical music.
Antoni Gaudi’s enchanting architecture has come to define Barcelona as the arty, hip city that it is today. Casa Mila’s curvaceous façade and the brightly coloured rooftop of Casa Battlo both have a fantastical element turning the city into a scene from a fairy tale. The most famous of all of Gaudi’s work is the towering Sagrada Familia, a complex cathedral so spectacular that he became revered as ‘God’s Own Engineer’.