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Old 08-15-2012, 06:38 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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I find Italy, Greece, and (if you count it) Western Turkey, southern Spain, France, generally more interesting than say northern France, the UK, Germany because of the culture (more exuberant), and of course the older buildings, long history (albeit the UK has Roman buildings but mostly ruins and nothing like Italy itself). Who here is more interested in Southern Europe in general for this region? I actually find Turkey more interesting than most of Europe, too, because of the history, culture.etc.
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:47 PM
 
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You speak my language, Tri. I love everything about the Mediterranean countries of Europe...the topography, the vegetation, the sights/sounds/scents, the food, the architecture, the anthropological mish-mosh, the weather, the beaches, the people, and, of course, the theatrics of the people!

For me, it would be 1) Italy, 2) Portugal, 3) Spain, 4) Greece and 5) the south of France, in that order. While Portugal doesn't technically touch the Mediterranean, it is clearly a Mediterranean country by way of its attributes.

If you haven't been to the Med, you need to go! It is my "baseline" for normalcy. I think the U.S. is "spotty" in this regard.
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Old 08-16-2012, 03:33 PM
 
Location: on an island
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Haven't been to Turkey yet (I hope to remedy this!) but I certainly do love the Mediterranean, have spent a lot of time over the years enjoying southern France, Italy, Spain--and the Adriatic. One of the most amazing taxi rides I ever had was crossing from one end of the island of Hvar (Croatia) to the the other, passing through purple fields of lavender, then looking down dramatic cliffs directly below me to the blue ocean below. Staring at the brilliant blue caldera on Santorini was unforgettable, but Crete was actually my favorite island during a trip to Greece.

Yet the other coastlines of those countries have their own wondrous qualities. In recent years we have visited Brittany, France, the west coast of France and the northern coast (central and west) of Spain, and we enjoyed the unspoiled coastline, delicious seafood, and fascinating history.

It's outdated now, but in a way that adds to the flavor of the book: Paul Theroux's The Pillars of Hercules is a grand tour of the Mediterranean. Theroux's tour took several months and he did it in two separate stints. He can come off cranky, but he knows his stuff, and really gives the reader a feeling for a place's history and culture. This is not a guidebook, it is more of an armchair traveler book for someone who wants to know a bit more than where to buy the best olive oil.
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Old 08-16-2012, 04:09 PM
 
Location: Chicago
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They are indeed beautiful but my heart goes to the Balkan region. 1. Bulgaria 2. Croatia 3. Hungary 4. Montenegro 5. Serbia
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Old 08-16-2012, 09:13 PM
 
Location: Bay View, Milwaukee
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I've certainly visited the Mediterranean region a lot more than other places, much of my career is based on the literature and history of the Mediterranean, and I certainly love the cultures, cuisines, languages, and other elements of the Mediterranean, so in many respects I do find the Mediterranean region more interesting than the rest of Europe.

But the rub is that my familiarity with the rest of Europe is rather scant--aside from recent trips to Ireland, Iceland, and northern France, my only contact with non-Med Europe was over 20 years ago, when I did a backpacking trip through various countries.

My heart will always remain with Spain, Portugal, southern France, and Italy, but recent trips brought me into contact with the beauty of Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, and Greece. I'd love to go back and explore these places more, but interestingly enough, my visits have stimulated my interest in exploring the non-Med hinterlands of Eastern Europe.

One of my travel obsessions now is the Baltic States, and the more I read about Poland, Czech, Bulgaria, and other places, the more I want to explore them and experience the cultures of places that emerged from the Eastern European crucible of Slavic, Germanic, and Roman contact. Years ago I travelled to Hungary, and I'd love to go back and see how it's changed. I'd also like to explore the inland Balkans more and dig into the cultural layers there of Europeans, Turks, and others.

Nevertheless, when it comes down to it, almost by default, the Mediterranean remains my cultural compass and gateway. My idea of the region keeps evolving as I visit more places, and that only makes the region more interesting to me.
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