Here's a the latest guest post about the magic of Europe when the sun goes down, written by Kelley Last! She and her husband recently returned from Contiki's Eastern Road trip, their fourth Contiki!
As the sun begins to set, the tourists retreat to their hotels and street vendors shut down their stalls for the night. That's when Europe becomes the most magical to me. There is something about seeing a medieval city lit up at night and abandoned by the masses that pulls me in every time. I crave those moments when we have entire city centers to ourselves, so we can explore, photograph and experience them without distraction.
Seeing a city both during the day and again at night also gives you different perspectives.
For example, take Krakow during the day:
And then again at night. It takes on a whole different feel.
(Don't worry, most European cities are safe and patrolled after dark and we never felt vulnerable or uneasy. Just take the same precautions you normally would in a new city and you'll be fine.)
It's almost as if Europe bares its soul at night. It feels a little more raw and maybe a little gritty, in a good way. You can visit Europe as it is meant to be seen -- without postcard stands, kiosk umbrellas and street musicians to cover up the the real jewels of its cities.
These buildings have seen history we can only imagine. They have stood witness to the rise and fall of empires, and have crumbled in war, only to be rebuilt again with painstaking detail. They have welcomed millions of people to their squares and posed for infinite pictures over the years.
They deserve to have the spotlight, to twinkle equally as bright under the stars.
Not to mention how straight up gorgeous these buildings are at night! Especially the ones on the waterfront. They make for fun photographs.
On each of our Contiki tours, we have been happy to find time to explore at night. When faced with the predicament of hitting the sack early or taking time to walk around after dinner... always choose the latter. And when you do, listen closely to the secrets the cities have to share. They have incredible stories to tell.
(All of the pictures above were taken on my most recent Contiki tour: Eastern Europe.)
Kelley is a self-proclaimed world traveler. She is originally from Boston, but now calls Los Angeles her home. When she’s not traveling, she’s running marathons, watching soccer games, eating cupcakes or planning her next trip. You can follow her adventures (both big and small) on her blog: www.kelocity.com or on twitter:@kelocity