When the dives and greasy spoons get too much for you, why not head off track, or at least into the great outdoors. Over the years I’ve found myself picnicing in some of the oddest and most unexpected places. Thinking about it now, I imagine some of you might’ve had some picnics in some fairly weird places yourselves. If you have, leave a note, telling us where and when and what it was like. Here are a few of mine to get your started.
One of the best picnics I’ve ever had was in Brugge. Go to the Country Girl for a sandwich and Perrier, take it to the picnic bench on the walking path behind the Beguinage. The trees overhead filter the sunlight beautifully, birds provide miraculous music, and the breeze is crisp and clean. Cheers!
One of the more memorable was sunset at the Roman theater ruins in Avenches. It would’ve been better for lunch but an early dinner was okay too. I suppose I was lucky, but at 7PM on a warm, breezy June 21, sitting in the theater (the roof has been gone for a while) looking up at Avenches on the hill, made the sandwiches and wine taste all the better. Be sure to bring your own food & drink with you. I’m sure there are things available in Avenches, though it is the quietest town I have ever seen. A very romantic spot if you’re travelling with a lover.
In Grenoble, take the teleferique to the Bastille . Then hike a few more minutes above the Bastille. On a sunny day you will be blessed with a spectacular view of the city, the Isere River valley and the surrounding mountains. Settle into a nice quiet picnic away from everything.
IN THE U.K.
If you happen to find yourself with a summer day to lounge around in Cambridge, picnicking in Grantchester is extremely nice. You can rent a punt on the upstream side of the locks and punt your way up to Grantchester if you’re so inclined. If you’re new to this method of locomotion, you’ll want to have an extra “punter” to trade off with. Don’t worry though, when you get too tired, park the boat on the bank, haul out a blanket and the bread, cheese, and wine…and enjoy!
Not much to see in Grantchester (an old mill, an old church, and 2 pubs), but the real reason to head up that way is the peaceful river and the flowery banks of the Cam. And if you don’t have time for a long trip, get a local to take you on the shorter, scenic trip downstream through the colleges of Cambridge – preferably early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
In London, Regents Park is not to be missed. Lots of trees, an incredible rose garden, and soft grass under shady trees.
Another favorite outdoor munching spot is at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew. Take the Tube and a short walk, and then enjoy your meal with the company of thousands of different kinds of plants. But watch out for the birds — they’ll all but jump into your lap for a taste. 🙂
Which kid doesn’t love the chance to roll down a hill? Roll-able hills don’t come much better than Devil’s Dyke, the peak of the South Downs ridge, which has glorious views to the sea and across the Sussex countryside. Ideal for kite-flying, Frisbee-throwing, walking (it’s on the South Downs Way) and picnicking, it’s also a great spot simply for lazing an afternoon away and watching the hang-gliders swoop in the breeze. It is just 10 minutes outside Brighton; there is plenty of parking and good public transport links – an open-top bus runs from the city centre.
Zumsteins is the best place in the Grampians for camping and picnics. Lots of wildlife including the rare Frogmouth Owl. I used to come up here all the time when I was a teacher at Lake Bolac High School. My partner and I along with some friends would head up after school, arriving before sunset, we’d pitch our tents, build a fire and stay there Friday night and right through til Sunday evening. If you find yourself in the western district of Victoria, spend a day or two in the last major chain of mountains in the Great Dividing Range of Australia – The Grampians!
and while IN TURKEY
You mustn’t miss the adventure of picknicking in Izmir, at Alexander the Great’s wall (or what is left of it), has a terrific view over the downtown area, the Med and the mountains ringing the city. Right next to a beautiful neighborhood mosque, the place is ideal for a quick bite or two.