When sailing in Europe, you have to slap yourself every once in a while to make sure you haven’t stumbled into a cliché. Lying on a warm deck, with the waves of the Mediterranean lapping against the hull and the cliff-top villages of Amalfi drifting past the starboard bow, it can all get a little surreal.
One thing should be made perfectly clear before diving into this list: every city, village, hamlet and fjord in Iceland could likely be considered a “small-town” by definition.
It’s an iconic American image – the endless expanse of the open road. And just like Australians can’t drive more than a few hundred kilometres before coming across a giant mango or something, Americans have their own quirky fondness for bizarre roadside attractions.
You have to picture Europe as one giant bowl of ratatouille: there’s a bit of everything in there, it’s delicious and surprising, but it can be tricky to know where to begin. Do you pack as many flavours into a two-week trip as possible, or spend 12 days carefully peeling back the layers of a single onion, er, country? It all comes back to time: how much of it you have and where you like to spend it.
After hibernating through a long, dark winter, spring and summer are the seasons in which Europe reanimates. Alfresco diners begin to colonise old cobbled lanes, vineyards burst into life, Spanish grandpas siesta under olive trees and white-sailed yachts start their dance across the blue waters of the Aegean Sea.