The Bookstore! My favorite activity to do when traveling in Europe is to find a local bookstore.  This may just be the inner book nerd in me, but I love a unique bookstore-actually just the smell the books in the bookstore.  Finding a bookstore is not just for us Booknerds though.  Many bookstores in Europe have amazing architecture, an interesting story about their history, or give an insight into the country's culture.

It is only right to begin with the first bookstore I went into, in Europe: The Cook and Book in Brussels, Belgium.  The store nestles a restaurant throughout the book store, which stretches through several buildings itself, with tables here, benches there, sofas over there.  There is a very whimsical yet romantic feeling about this store.  The rooms are natural divisions between the literature topics, which go beyond just cookbooks. (And don't worry there is an entire English section if you prefer to read in English.)

Even if you are not into visiting a bookstore, go for the food.  It is extremely enjoyable!

Next, off to Paris, the city of enlightenment, culture, and philosophes.  Why not visit a Parisian bookstore and partake in the intellectual culture of France?   Many believe Shakespeare & Co is a must see for all tourists.  The bookstore is a small little cottage on the Seine River established in 1951 by Walt Whitman, an American poet.  While the downstairs sells modern books in English, the upstairs is filled with old, early edition books to read not to buy.  It is decorated like a private library with dark cushions and dark lighting. 

There is a strict silent rule as people spend hours up there reading.  Outside there are used books for sale, and you never know what gems you may find!

Maastricht, The Netherlands.  The Selexyz Bookstore has to be one of the most beautiful bookstores I have seen.   The church, built in the 1200s, was left unattended and falling part for two hundred years until two Dutch architects renovated it in 2007.  The high arches, stain glass windows, and paintings are part of the ambiance of the open spaced area.  The bookstore is an amazing feat of repurposing by combining medieval European architecture and modern lines and angles, a struggle that European cities see everyday.

For those of who are true Booknerds and wish to see more bookstores while traveling abroad in Europe even Lithuania check out this blog:  Bookstore Guide- an amateur guide to book shopping throughout Europe.  ( I stumbled across this some time ago, and it is a personal favorite now!