Capturing the continental lifestyle
What do you want from your retirement? Some people spend most of their working life planning for a perfect retirement, while others simply stumble from 40-plus years of work into a retirement with little idea of how they will spend their time. What makes a good retirement?
Many people enjoy their holidays to Europe, and imagine living a continental lifestyle with lazy mornings and slow, relaxing afternoons spent eating fine foods in a sunny and generally pleasant environment. For much of Europe, this is exactly what retirement looks like. How do they do it? There are several little tricks and lifestyle changes that you can make to help capture that continental lifestyle.
The biggest challenge for many people who have worked all their lives is in slowing down. In retirement you need to ditch the desire to always be doing something constructive - you are not at work any longer, so sit back and relax a little.
Television brings joy, entertainment and comfort to millions of people, but an over-reliance can cut people off from society. When you start opting to watch television rather than meet up with friends in a cafe, pub or restaurant then you may be developing a problem that needs to be addressed. Instead, join some local social clubs.
Cook every meal
Cooking takes time and effort, but that is one of its wonders and when you have retired, you have the time to prepare healthy, delicious meals rather than relying on instant meals and junk food. Europeans are famous for their healthy cooking - the Mediterranean diet is linked with improved heart health and longer life expectancy. Experiment with some new Spanish, Greek or Italian dishes.
Dine out with friends and family
European cafe culture is very different from what we find in the UK. Cafes are far more family friendly and it is not uncommon to see several generations of a family dining out together, enjoying good food, coffee and wine in one place.
The UK is starting to see more European style cafes that serve food and drinks in a relaxed and family friendly environment, so look out for tapas style restaurants where you can enjoy a touch of Spain.
The Greek diet is said to be one of the secrets behind long enjoyable life and there are Greek restaurants in larger towns today where you can enjoy a variety of Greek salads and platters.
Coffee may come from the Americas but it is the Europeans who helped develop the simple beverage into a global phenomenon. Many people go through their lives drinking nothing but bitter and bland instant coffee that tastes nothing like the real thing. When you retire, you really should take the time to enjoy a cup of coffee, made with freshly ground beans, every morning.
Continental style coffee comes in two main forms, the espresso and the cafetiere. Espresso is most famous in Italy and can be made with anything from a stovetop coffee maker to a commercial style pressurised coffee maker that you find in high street coffee shops. An easier way to brew an Italian style espresso or latte is with a Tassimo coffee maker. In contrast, the cafetiere, also called a French press, provides a more gentile way to brew a cup. Both methods are vastly superior to instant coffee granules.
Remember to invite friends over for meals and drinks on a regular basis. Europeans are perceived as being more sociable than Brits and this is partly why their retirement is more rewarding.
The most important aspect of any retirement is that you create opportunities to relax, have fun and pamper yourself every day. The great thing is that you do not have to leave the country to do this, just change the way you live.
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