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Europe

  • Lord, if there is a heartache Vienna cannot cure I hope never to feel it. I came home cured of everything except Vienna.

  • Most gay, conversational, careless, lovely city ... where one drinks golden Tokay until one feels most beautiful, and warm and loved — oh, Budapesth!

    • Winifred Holtby,
    • 1924, in Alice Holtby and Jean McWilliam, eds., Letters to a Friend ()
  • These Germans seem an odd race, a mixture of clay and spirit — what with their beer-drinking and smoking, and their slow, stolid ways, you would think them perfectly earth; but ethereal fire is all the while working in them, and bursing out in most unexpected jets of poetry and sentiment, like blossoms on a cactus.

  • ... the air of luxury in Sarajevo has less to do with material goods than with the people. They greet delight here with unreluctant and sturdy appreciation, they are even prudent about it, they will let no drop of pleasure run to waste.

  • No Westerner ever sees an Albanian for the first time without thinking that the poor man's trousers are just about to drop off. They are cut in a straight line across the loins, well below the hip-bone, and have no visible means of support; and to make matters psychologically worse they are of white or biscuit homespun heavily embroidered with black wool in designs that make a stately reference to the essential points of male anatomy. The occasion could not seem more grave, especially as there is often a bunch of uncontrolled shirt bulging between the waistcoat and these trousers. Nothing, however, happens.

  • Vienna was the city of statues. They were as numerous as the people who walked the streets. They stood on the top of the highest towers, lay down on stone tombs, sat on horseback, kneeled, prayed, fought animals and wars, danced, drank wine and read books made of stone. They adorned cornices like the figureheads of old ships. They stood in the heart of fountains glistening with water as if they had just been born. They sat under the trees in the parks summer and winter. Some wore costumes of other periods, and some no clothes at all. Men, women, children, kings, dwarfs, gargoyles, unicorns, lions, clowns, heroes, wise men, prophets, angels, saints and soldiers preserved for Vienna an illusion of eternity.

  • Life is long since asleep in Bruges; fantastic dreams alone breathe over tower and mediaeval house front, enchanting the eye, inspiring the soul and filling the mind with the great beauty of contemplation.

  • Any sizeable Portuguese town looks like a superstitious bride's finery — something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.

    • Mary McCarthy,
    • "Letter from Portugal" (1955), On the Contrary ()
  • Holland seems like a quaint toy.

    • Clover Adams,
    • 1872, in Natalie Dykstra, Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life ()
  • ... all the salt of Turkish life consists of politics and official intrigue.

  • [On Denmark:] ... that little country of cottage cheese and courage ...

  • There were tons of bronzed Scandinavian types at the Sorbonne. Marvellously blond and healthy and shining white teeth. Funny thing though, because someone told me that if you actually go to Scandinavia none of the people who actually live there look like that. It's just a front they put up when they're abroad.

  • [The Germans] so easily confuse obstinacy with energy, and rudeness with firmness.

  • That is what is so marvelous about Europe; the people long ago learned that space and beauty and quiet refuges in a great city, where children may play and old people sit in the sun, are of far more value to the inhabitants than real estate taxes and contractors' greed.

  • I have fallen a hopeless victim to the Turk; he is the most charming of mortals ....

    • Gertrude Bell,
    • 1905, in Florence Bell, ed., The Letters of Gertrude Bell, vol. 1 ()
  • Budapest in late May is a city of lilacs. The sweet, languid, rather sleepy smell of lilacs wafts everywhere. And it is a city of lovers, many of them quite middle-aged. Walking with their arms around each other, embracing and kissing on park benches. A sensuousness very much bound up (it seems to me) with the heady ubiquitous smell of lilacs.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Budapest Journal: May 1980," (Woman) Writer: Occasions and Opportunities ()
  • In rural Spain, at least, it is far better to arrive than to travel, however hopefully.

  • Cadiz is a city of magic, like Cracow or Dublin, to set the mind on fire at a turn of a corner. ... The eye is continually fed, the imagination stirred, by a train of spectacles as charming as if they had been contrived.

  • Istanbul ... the constant beating of the wave of the East against the rock of the West ...

  • There could never be a more beautiful city than this. It was cold, austere, belonging only to the water. ... Stockholm was a northern city, her beauty stark and frozen even in midsummer, the blue water like the pure caverns of a glacier ...

  • Bruges! / Oh, my Beloved! / Nest of the Pelican! ... When I am far from here, / Bruges, / little city of love, / keep my heart / in the measured beauty / of bells, / ringing their carillon / in the grey steeple.

  • [On The Netherlands:] ... the entire country is a kind of saturated sponge ...

  • [On the Netherlands:] There is not a richer or more carefully tilled garden spot in the whole world than this leaky, springy little country.

  • In Spain, however, people have found a way of cheating death. They summon it to appear in the afternoon in the bull ring, and they make it face a man. Death — a fighting bull with horns as weapons — is killed by a bullfighter. And the people are there watching death being cheated of its right.

  • ... in the '70s Prague was pewter gray in spirit, broken and oddly adrift in the middle of Europe. The most golden thing about it then was its silence. Loneliness was its chief allure, radiating a sullen romance bred of cigarette smoke and satire.

    • Patricia Hampl,
    • "Reflections on a Golden City," The New York Times Magazine ()
  • Oh, lovely Europe, your flowers and your wine, your bread, your music.

  • ... for ... austere and gracious allegory, as for so much of its mysticism and its chivalry, its ardours and its endurances, the world is in debt to Spain.