Coming to Europe: My Passion for the Old Continent (Our 100th Post!)


in Amsterdam 2003

I fucking love Europe.

This is something I know as sure as too many stouts will give you pain the next day. I’m a first generation Aussie with Macedonian blood, so this love affair comes as no surprise. Before this year, I’ve been to Europe fice (four times) with the only other continent visited being North America. So while it’s been delightful in South America, Europe is calling to me in a husky voice – “Welcome home, Johnny!”

It all started in 1987 when I was a chubby ten year old. My mother, father, sister and I hopped on a plane and landed in London. My first memories of the UK were the cathedrals of Westminster Abbey and the gorgeous surrounds of Scotland. I remember we attended a fake wedding in the little town of Gretna Green, where my sister was the bridesmaid. While the experience was weird, the photo we took is etched in my mind.

Then we crossed the channel to Calais and ventured into the ‘real’ Europe. My stock standard attire back then was tight shorts pulled up way too high and my beloved royal blue tracksuit. The Eiffel Tower and Heidelberg Castle were things to behold, but undoubtedly the highlights were the scenery of Austria and the Greek Islands. Importantly, we also visited family in Macedonia and ate like food was going out of style.


Visiting the Eiffel Tower for the first time in my favourite getup

Thirteen long passed before I would see the shores of Europe again. I first went to Macedonia and saw all my cousins that’d now grown up and their new families. After an arduous five week tour of Western Europe with five friends from Perth, I spent time in Scotland and Ireland. One of my best friends was living in Munich, so why not see him during Oktoberfest? Unfortunately, just prior to this, I was mugged in Prague and arrived in the lederhosen-clad city with slight concussion. It affected my drinking ability a little bit, but I still held my own.

Back in Perth for 18 months in my first engineering job, I was suddenly wondering “Is this all there is?” The memories of 1987 and the taste of 2000 left me with a hidden desire to travel that quickly came to the surface. This time, I booked a one-way ticket to Madrid and obtained a working holiday visa for the UK. I had no idea when my money would run out and when I would have to work, but the adventure was about to begin.

The next two and a half years defined me as a person; I travelled far and wide, I experienced living in different countries, I met fabulous people, I trusted my instincts, and then I grew up and met the woman I was to marry. Timing is everything when you’re on the road and this was clearly the case in that hostel in Plakias.


travel in Dubrovnik

in Dubrovnik 2002

Andrea and I found ourselves back in Europe just a year later, but now we’re about to take some proper time to see Europe once again. Many places will be the same, but this time I get to experience them as a couple. And I really love going back to a city where I’ve walked down the cobblestone streets before. I’m also really excited about the Croatian Islands, Hungary and Poland. So it’s almost time to catch those fast trains, sit back and watch the different cultures zoom by my window faster than I can say “How far is the beer carriage?”

snowboarding in Innsbruck

Snowboarding near Innsbruck, Austria

A Preview of our European Travels

Over the next five months we’ll be covering some pretty exciting destinations on the continent. Highlights include:

  • A three-week road trip through the Republic of Ireland
  • Edinburgh Fringe Festival
  • We’ll spend just under a month in Croatia, including the islands of Rab, Korcula and Hvar
  • A week in and around Budapest (a first-time city for both of us!)
  • Oktoberfest

If you’re around between now and November, we’d love to meet up. Drop us a line!

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Would you like to see something covered while we’re in Europe? Do you have a favourite European destination you’d like to share? Please share your comments and recommendations in the comments!


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