THE BLOG
07/27/2016 11:28 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

European Dreamscape by Car

When I envision perfect summer days, there isn't just one image; it's an amalgam of images. One that remains consistent, however, is me in a car with loved ones, staring out the window enjoying the view, waiting for a song to come on the radio that we all agree on, and the air condition blasting because I don't have that romantic image of the windows rolled down on a hot day.

I'm a city boy that doesn't have a driver's license, but I'm fortunate to have married a great driver. This summer plan to be in a car as a passenger as often as possible. This past year I have grown to appreciate car travel. You see, my family and I had spent the past year traveling, and when we arrived in Europe, we decided for the first time in our many years of wandering, to journey from one destination to the next via car. And we loved it!

Our travels through the United Kingdom and Europe with a car gave us the opportunity to see and experience moments we otherwise would not have if it weren't for the spontaneity that an automobile gave us. We used our partners, Auto Europe which facilitated the process of renting a car abroad by always finding us the right car for our needs at the most convenient location, no matter where we were.

Though I won't be in Europe this summer, I can still imagine the somewhat cool English Countryside, with the spring lamb maturing into full growth, and the pastoral landscape green as ever. I recapture that visual of families along the English Riviera taking cover in the colorful cabanas that line the beach to protect their pale bodies from the sun while enjoying some clotted cream flavored ice cream.

I picture the roads we had driven through in France, as we weaved in and out of beautiful small villages, passing romantic vineyards and chateaus along the way. I can still smell how the air changed when we neared the coast and pulled into a town like Antibes. Snapshots of markets and brown bodies coming off the sand beach come to mind.

I dream of how we stayed on that same road, crossing the French border into Italy. I can almost taste the fried seafood we had near the sea in the Cinque Terre town of Vernazza while we watched fishermen scraping the algae off their small boats and painting over the green residue with fresh white paint that reflected the harsh sun.

The fields were filled with windmills, and I couldn't help but feel like Don Quixote, as we roamed through Spain's arid landscape, watching the heat rising off the ground from the cool of my seat in the car. We were to hit the shore and enjoy the sea, but not until we saw the towns of Cordoba and Granada and had some of the best tapas the country had to offer.

There were always large groups walking near the road making their pilgrimage to one of the many cathedrals that sat at the center of the medieval towns on top of hills. There were olive trees and vineyards that lined the slopes and the valley. Every turn, on every small street, smelled of truffle being used in some dish. From the passenger's seat, I appreciated why they call the region of Umbria, "The Green Heart of Italy".

These are just vignettes of what we were able to see while driving through these beautiful countries. Create your own images behind the wheel, or as in my case, from the passenger's seat.

We were guests of AutoEurope and Umbria Tourism, all opinions as always all ours.