Greece, the UK, Germany, Italy all right in your backyard

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For many people, leaving their enclave in sunny SoCal for Europe is totally out of reach. But there is a way to experience the charm and nostalgia of the old country without ever hopping on a plane. LA Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds put together a list of the best 21 places across the region that impersonate Europe. He spoke with KCRW about some highlights.

Papa Cristo’s, Koretown

Papa Cristo’s is a market and restaurant that was started in 1948 and is now run by Chrys Chrys, a.k.a. Papa Cristo. “When you go in there,” says Reynolds, “you get that Greek hospitality, [Chrys] will offer you olive oil, wines, ouzo, retsina, Cretan honey. He will offer you kalamata olives from Kalamata. It’s a really wonderful setting in a neighborhood that was once upon a time, a little bit of Greece.”

Gondola Rides, Long Beach 

Taking a ride on a gondola in Long Beach with Gondola Getaway will feel similar to a ride in Venice, Italy. “Your gondolier will be wearing a black and white striped shirt and one of those great straw hats, and they will take you around,” says Reynolds. “And believe it or not, the cost of a gondola ride is pretty much the same whether you’re doing it in Venice, Las Vegas or Long Beach. It’s gonna be around $100.” 

Rose Tree Cottage, Pasadena

Co-owner and British expat Edmund Fry has been running the Rose Tree Cottage since the late 70s. “You can have tea in their gardens served in very proper British style,” says Reynolds, “you can pick up lemon curd, Cadbury chocolates, Ty-Phoo tea bags, meat pies. It’s all very British.” 

Mission Inn, Riverside

The Mission Inn is our version of Hearst Castle”, says Reynolds. But it isn’t as much about the missions as it is about the trappings of Europe. Reynolds says, it’s not about one specific location, “but all sorts of different corners of Europe. So if you go there, and you can eat there or spend the night, there are domes, there are arches, there are terraces… It’s kind of a phantasmagoria.” 

Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disneyland

“When Walt Disney brainstormed Disneyland, the center piece he came up with was a place he called Sleeping Beauty Castle, which is like 77-feet high,” says Reynolds. “But the idea was drawn from a real castle in Germany called Neuschwanstein.”