LOST AND FOUND IN EUROPE

Trav­el­ling light is easy — skip the gal­leries and just do as the lo­cals do

Financial Mail - - LIFE - Luke Al­fred

Con­trary to what fear-mon­gers would have us be­lieve, the sound of Europe is not the sound of Syr­ian refugees wad­ing ashore. Nei­ther is it the whine of re­morse that whee­dles out of post-brexit Bri­tain. No, the sound of Europe in au­tumn is the clack of the ubiq­ui­tous wheeled suit­case be­ing hauled down air­port cor­ri­dors, up es­ca­la­tors and down walk­ways.

Some­times they clat­ter down sta­tion con­courses, some­times down cob­bled streets, ac­com­pa­nied by lit­tle gasps of frus­tra­tion that Google Maps isn’t func­tion­ing as it should. “It says here that there’s an Airbnb in the back­streets of Lis­bon’s Alfama some­where close, but for the life of me I can’t work out if this is an al­ley­way or a cul-de-sac.”

As the riot of Europe in Au­gust gives way to some­thing more se­date in Oc­to­ber, the Ja­panese tour par­ties aren’t quite so thick on the ground.

The smaller, in­ti­mate des­ti­na­tions — Venice, Dubrovnik — have suf­fered from anti-tourist graf­fiti and a clos­ing of ranks, and even big­ger des­ti­na­tions like Barcelona have been swamped now that the Mediter­ranean cruise lin­ers lie deep on the quays.

In­deed, there seems to be a strange fight for equi­lib­rium tak­ing place in the Euro­pean hol­i­day mar­ket, with tourists flood­ing in and lo­cals push­ing back. As a South African trav­el­ling with rands (or, like us, with an­ti­quated ruck­sacks that made us look like Bul­gar­i­ans) it’s dif­fi­cult not to feel slightly in­tim­i­dated by the hordes and the strength of their cur­ren­cies, though there is al­ways a plan to be made or an off-the-beaten track to be taken.

If you aren’t on hon­ey­moon or com­pelled by “I-must-seethis” dizzi­ness, it of­ten makes more sense to seek out smaller

123RF/ jako­bradl­gru­ber

The Grand Canal: A view from the Rialto bridge in Venice

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