“Early to bed and early to rise . . .” You know the old saying. It is the way I live my life. I go to bed at 9:00 P.M. and get up at about 4:45 pretty near every day of my life. Except on Symphony nights, where the dang thing doesn’t start until 8:00! Those late nights are rough! And I absolutely love the early morning!
But when I am in Europe things are a bit different for me. I still get up at the same time, but the nights will find me out and about among Europeans who love the night!
One small bit of culture shock Americans have when they go to Europe is the time dinner begins. 8:00 P.M. is usual for folks from Rome to Paris and most places in between. And it is easy to sit down at 10:00 with lots of locals to tuck into a great dinner. That doesn’t happen much where I come from!
The after dinner stroll, particularly in Italy, is another endearing custom well past my bedtime. But when in Europe I eagerly join in with local families rambling slowly, kids in strollers, gelato everywhere, and smiles and laughter. And Paris did not get the tag “City of Lights” because of what happens at noon! The nighttime is the right time to be with the locals enjoying their lifestyle.
But the early morning! Europeans are not morning people all that much. Wandering around Rome or Paris in the early morning hours you are the King of all you survey! You have the whole town largely to yourself in the cool and the quiet. The tourist crowds are still abed and it is you, the sunrise, and the birds! It is a beautiful time of day to see parts of Europe alone, or just the two of you. Sunrise in the piazza of St. Peter’s in Rome is unforgettable. You are pretty much the only one there as the sun strikes the cupola and makes its way down the façade of that great church. The empty, calm canals and bridges of Venice are a labyrinthine delight. And a fairly traffic free Paris?
They say you can sleep when you are dead. Well, adequate sleep when traveling is vital to your health. The trick to getting up early and staying out late in Europe is to take a good break in the middle of the day. The locals do it. You might as well do it also! Take a very leisurely lunch, perhaps a short nap at your hotel, and you are good to go on both ends of the day. I highly recommend it. Europe is great 24/7 – particularly early in the morning and late at night!