We have lots of indications that you share our long-running commitment to European travel—through your letters and e-mails, as well as newsstand sales. Some of us are bound to Europe by our roots, pure and simple, but for many the connection is not always in our bloodlines so much as in the lessons about art and architecture, society, culture, and politics that Americans learn at school. Despite the negative gloss on “Old Europe” during the past few years, I believe it is just this, the “old” but eternally renewing part, that draws us back again and again. For all the modern people and places you pass on the street, visiting Europe inevitably involves interacting with history. Even when dining at a cutting-edge new restaurant or shopping in the boutique of the moment, you may well be overlooking an ancient cobblestoned street, an intimate piazza or cour, or a grand boulevard that has always been there—solid, reassuring, and enduring.
So this month, once again, we devote our entire issue to Europe, an annual event that will occur in April rather than May from now on, to give you more time to consider the summer ahead. The journey begins in Venice, with Italy correspondent Valerie Waterhouse’s insider guide to the water-bound city (“T+L’s Guide to Venice,”). For those in search of still-emerging destinations, we explore the Baltic Coast in Latvia and Estonia with contributing editor Thomas Beller (“Discovering the Baltic Islands,”). In “Simple Pleasures in Aix-en-Provence”, T+L news director Luke Barr returns to a family haunt in Aix-en-Provence with his wife, daughter, father, and grandmother. (The story strikes a chord in me, as I spent a summer there, living with a French family when I was 16.) Sean Rocha takes us to Norway—Oslo, Bergen, and beyond—to find out what life is really like in a nation with one of the world’s highest standards of living (“Traditional Life in Norway,”).
Also in this issue, we make a few nods to the current economic realities with a roundup of stylish hotels from Athens to Zurich, all for less than $250 a night (“22 Affordable European Hotels,”); a Strategies section devoted to getting more for your dollar in the air and on the ground (“11 Money-Saving European Travel Tips,”); and our essential primer on the newest ships and itineraries, as well as the best values (“2009 Best Cruise Ships,”).
My own summer vacation plans are likely to include Europe, despite the seductive options in our T+L Weekend Getaway guides. I’m reserving those for other seasons. Try as I might, I just can’t tear myself away from Italy by the sea.