LOST AND FOUND IN EUROPE
Travelling light is easy — skip the galleries and just do as the locals do
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
The Grand Canal: A view from the Rialto bridge in Venice