Europe for FirstTimers

Europe is the obvious first choice for many first-time travelers. Its rich history, beautiful icons and stalwart architecture invoke a range of emotions for all those who have to come to see them. Europe's compact space is also a huge advantage for those who are looking for variety in their travel experience - you can flit from one end of the continent to the other and you will have already been in three or four countries. Although there can be a number of travel pitfalls, such as the occasional non-usage of English and the large servings of German beer, Europe is relatively "easy" to travel in.

Even the Eastern bloc, which remained closed to many travelers for a long time, has now opened up and becomes more tourist-friendly as the years go by. For many, Europe seduces them with its dazzling lights and wonderful beaches. For some, it's a chance to join the manic festivals of Italy and Spain.Europe has impressively retained its mix of the past and present. After sightseeing in medieval towns and castles, there is a bustling night scene in the local pubs, bars and cafes, especially in Barcelona, Copenhagen and London.

More often than not, many of your most valued European experiences will be intangible; along the way, you will meet people with different points of view and backgrounds who will greatly enhance and perhaps even change, your life.If you are still planning your first European trip, it's important to know the scope of the land you are about to visit. To date, there are 36 countries in Europe that occupy a land area of almost 5.

7 million sq km. This area is slightly less than three-quarters of Australia, or almost the 48 "continental" states of the USA. The distance between Los Angeles to Chicago is almost the same as the distance from London to Ankara.

The distance between Lisbon and Helsinki is almost like the distance between San Francisco and Columbus, Ohio. In terms of population density, Europe's is much greater than that of Australia, with an average density of about 100 people per square kilometer, which is four times the density of the USA. Europe's total population is almost 575 million people; this is more than double that of the USA despite the fact that Europe's landmass is only two-thirds of US territory. Europeans are quite evenly spread out over the continent except for the Netherlands which has a population density of almost four times the average. The Scandinavian countries, on the other hand, have a much smaller person-land ratio.

Take Finland, for example which is about eight times the size of the Netherlands but has only less than a third of the latter's population. Iceland is more than double the size of the Netherlands but has a density of less than three people per square kilometer. Norway has thirteen people per square kilometer; while Sweden supports a population comparable to the Netherlands' but its land area is ten times bigger.

Maybe you already have an idea of what you want to see and experience while in Europe. The important thing is to go. Buy a good travel guide, book a plane ticket and cast aside all self doubt.

Don't worry about not having a good time (you probably will) or that you'll lose your passport (a rare possibility if you just retain common sense), or even that you can't afford it (there are cheap hostels and food along the way). Just go. You'll have priceless experiences, amazing insights and perhaps, a start of a lifelong passion for travel.

.Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Europe Vacation.

By: Michael Russell

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