Author: Ana Alibegova
That’s what they do in Europe. You go down to the city hall and you become legally connected. You have a civil union there. Then, if you’re religious, you go down to the church, and the church blesses the union. That gets the problem solved. – Tony Campolo.
Quite often we hear the politicians talking about European values, sharing the European dream, blessing the European Union. But Europe is special in another way, not because of the more or less stable economy, integrated politics or social care system, Europe is magical because of its streets, the people and the spirit of freedom. My magical Europe is those European cities where I felt myself European. Nature, art and endless charm attract you and make you want to come back again. The list can be endless and can include the sandy beaches of Spain, the attractive French Riviera or the wonderful Alps, but I preferred to focus on the spirit of the most visited European capitals.
Paris, France – a music, a story, a dream
The city of lights or the city of love, for me it has nothing to do with both of them. My Paris is not romantic at all, better said it is a real reflection of art and free spirit. Walking along the streets of Paris, especially on Montmartre, I imagine the poet Jacques Pervert drinking coffee in one of the Parisian cafés, smoking cigarette and analyzing the beautiful women that pass by. When in Paris, you should definitely see all the tourists waiting in line for hours just to climb the Eiffel Tower and enjoy the panoramic view. Paris is music, a story, a dream, a place where you hear history whispering to you. There is much more than just nice buildings, taking photos of all of them is not such a good idea since their number is endless. Paris’ museums and monuments are among its highest-esteemed attractions; tourism has motivated both the city and the national government to create new ones. Feel the magic of Paris drinking wine and sitting on the grass on the Elysian Fields. Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, receiving 45 million tourists annually and it is definitely among the most charming places in Europe.
Brussels, Belgium – a micro Paris
Once you visit Brussels it is almost impossible not to fell in love with it. The city itself resembles Paris, but is less crowded, and much smaller. Brussels can be easily called a micro version of Paris, maybe not because of the similar architecture, cathedrals, mini restaurants etc, but more because of the feeling you have being in the heart of Europe. Brussels today is what Paris was in the past, a symbol for the capital of the European Union, administrative and economic centre of the old continent. It ranks third according to the number of international conferences hosted and at the same time also becoming one of the largest convention centres in the world. The presence of the EU and the other international bodies has for example led to having more ambassadors and journalists in Brussels than in Washington D.C. Apart from the political importance of Brussels; it is definitely a city that has a lot to offer to the tourists. Great for shopping, partying or just relaxing in the numerous parks, Brussels is a great city for young people as well.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands – Feel the Freedom
There is no way that the first association for Amsterdam will be other than freedom. Many young people dream to visit the City of the Red Lights District, to relax in the numerous coffee shops and do everything what is illegal in their home countries?. Amsterdam is famous for its vibrant and diverse nightlife, but still it is not just a city for partying till the dawn, or a city where you should be really cautious not to be hit by some crazy bikers, it is also a place where you can find numerous museums, exhibitions and great cultural life. One of the places you shouldn’t forget to visit Madam Toussaint Museum in the city centre. Also spare some time to check the erotic museums all around the city; you will be surprised that some of them actually have an educational aim?. Amsterdam definitely is a city where you can test your liberal point of view. The city itself is interesting for the business leaders as well, because many large Dutch institutions have set their headquarters there, and 7 of the world’s top 500 companies, including Philips and ING, are also based in the city. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, the oldest stock exchange in the world is located in the city centre.
Prague, the Czech Republic – Golden sunset near the river Vltava
Another famous tourist city. The golden Prague has a lot to offer to the tourists: places of interest, cultural life and good clubs. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, making the city one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, receiving more than 4.1 million international visitors annually. It is the sixth most-visited European city after London, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Berlin. Prague suffered considerably less damage during World War II than some other major cities in the region, allowing most of its historic architecture to stay true to form. It has one of the world’s most pristine and varied collections of architecture, from Art Nouveau to Baroque, Renaissance, Cubist, Gothic, Neo-Classical and ultra-modern.
Berlin, Germany – “Poor, but sexy”
The formerly divided city has also a story to tell. If you decide to visit Berlin, forget about the typical organisation of a European city, which means one city centre and all the places of interest located in it. Berlin is special because of many reasons, and one of them is definitely the hidden history. Even nowadays people there talk about Ossi and Wessi (people from East and people from West Berlin). The urban and historical legacy has made it a popular setting for international film productions. The city is recognized for its festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts, extensive public transportation networks and a high quality of living. One thing is certain: Berlin has evolved into a global focal point for young individuals and artists attracted by a liberal lifestyle and modern zeitgeist. From a symbol of a divided city, Berlin has reached a reputation of a city for free-spirited people and became the first association for multiculturalism.