Europe Trip Update: My Current Destination Obsessions

If you can’t travel, dream.

I can’t believe I arrived back in Scotland over four weeks ago. It feels like only yesterday I was stuffing my face with shopska salad and sampling Rakia in Bulgaria. Those were the days. I’m beginning to write my dissertation so, naturally, I have been procrastinating like a boss. It seemed smart to try to do something productive with my time. Et voila! Here is my list of current destination obsessions in Europe.

For those of you who haven’t seen my previous post, my sister Dev and I are embarking on a three-month European rail adventure this autumn. It’s something of a last hurrah before I leave the UK to live in the states. Armed with nothing but oversize backpacks and Eurail passes, we will be making our way around continental Europe.

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If this picture illustrating my attempt to shower Dev with grass is any indication, I think this trip is going to be great.

The Itinerary

I decided it might be fun to sum up some of the cities, sites, and activities that I am looking forward to seeing. This is the biggest trip I have been responsible for, and that can be a little intimidating sometimes. I have been doing a lot of research, including countless hours trolling Pinterest and travel sites. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I find it helpful to think about all of the amazing things that I am going to be seeing in a few months.

Here is a rough outline of the ground I want to cover in three months. There are a lot of things I want to see and do, and I have already had to make a few cuts from the list (I’m still coming to terms with not going to Salzburg). We will fly into Brussels, stop over in Bruges for a few days, and after that, who knows!

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We are actually going to be flying to Dubrovnik from Munich, but that was a  bit too much for Google Maps to handle. I’m also thinking of getting the ferry to Newcastle from Amsterdam on the way home, but that’s not set in stone yet.

I’d love to hear back if you have any suggestions, and who knows – you might want to do some of these things yourself one day.

 

1. Freedom

Though not a specific place or activity, I am really excited to be in control of such a long trip. The majority of trips I have been on have been organised by someone else or not very long. Being able to decide what I want to do when I want to do it sounds incredible.

By getting rail cards, I am hoping I can feed a little spontaneity into our adventure. I love to have things planned out, but it seems unrealistic to plan every little detail five months in advance. I’m sure there will be days where we don’t want to go to a certain place, or we are bored with the city we are in and want to leave.

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Spontaneous trips, like this one I took to Loch Lomond, can turn out to be the most incredible adventures. With no real expectations, there is less pressure, so you can just enjoy the ride.

That being said, I don’t intend to show up in strange cities knowing nothing about them and completely winging it. I’m just thinking that planning things a week or two in advance will ease some of the pressure of trying to sort everything out now. We could even go to entirely different parts of Europe if we want to.

2. Island hop around beautiful Croatia

Croatia has been on my list of Places-I-Need-to-Visit-Right-Now for years. I have a distinct memory of chatting to a woman from Croatia for over an hour whilst riding the London tube into the city from Heathrow. She said the food easily rivals that of neighbouring Italy, so now it is necessary for me to investigate.

I’m really drawn to the idea of island-hopping around the Mediterranean and checking out cities like Hvar and Split. Up to that point the pace of the trip is going to be relatively fast, so it will be nice to slow things down a bit and spend some time relaxing. I am hoping we will get there once the summer crowds have started to disperse and it quiets down somewhat.

3. Sample the best Kebabs in the world

One of my best friends (and housemate of three years) is originally from Berlin. Every time we get on the topic of her hometown, we somehow always end up talking about the, and I quote, ‘greatest kebab place ever’. Lucky for us, we will be hitting up Berlin towards the end of our journey, and a stop at Mustafa’s is definitely on the itinerary.

Apparently the queue is ridiculous, like waiting around for over an hour ridiculous. But my friend is not the most patient of people, so I am thinking it has to be worth it. After my recent introduction to the wonderful world of kebabery, I would be willing to wait a long time to taste the best one in the world.

4. Party like it’s 1999 at Cannstater Volksfest

I would be absolutely bananas if I were to travel through Germany in the autumn and not go to Oktoberfest. I am not that big on beer, but it just looks like such a good time. Munich’s Oktoberfest is the most famous, the biggest, and a bit expensive. Thankfully, I have lovely friends who clued me in to Cannstatter Volksfest. This is another beer festival located in Stuttgart, a city known for its history of car manufacturing and pig museum. Yes, there is a pig museum, and yes, I want to go.

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I have a deep love for pretzels, and the opportunity to eat an actual German one is a source of extreme joy.

Apparently this is a slightly less crowded and more family oriented festival complete with rides and beer tents and pretzels. I am also considering getting all of us matching dirndls and forming a girl band. I will keep you updated on that one.

5. Take part in alpine adventures in Switzerland

This one was probably one of the biggest surprises for me. I included Switzerland on my initial itinerary simply because it made sense to go through there on the way to Croatia, and I was even considering knocking it off the list for a hot second, but I have since seen the error in my ways.

 

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The last time I visited Switzerland, it was strictly urban territory. Who knows what adventures are waiting in those mountains.

In the area around Lucerne, there is a whole array of exciting outdoorsy things to do like giant zip lines and slides and skiing. There is also the famous Jungfrau Railway that takes you to the highest train station in Europe.

Switzerland is quite an expensive country to visit, so we won’t be able to stay too long, but it sounds like an absolute blast. Now I just have to convince my sister that riding down the side of a mountain on a giant slide is a good idea. I don’t think that will be too hard, right?

6. Live out my childhood dream of visiting Karlovy Vary

Last, but definitely not least, is Karlovy Vary. I know I said these weren’t order, but I have to say, this is the one thing that I am looking forward to most right now. I know this may sound silly, but bear with me. Many of you have probably never heard of Karlovy Vary, a spa town in the Czech Republic, but this picturesque town is the setting of one of my favourite movies of all time: The Last Holiday.

She is flawless. (Property of Paramount Pictures)

I absolutely love this movie. In fact, I will always love this movie. It follows the journey of Georgia Bird as she kicks down all of the walls holding her back from living her best, fabulous life. After being diagnosed with an incurable illness and given weeks to live, she decides to drop everything and jet off on the holiday of her dreams to the Grand Hotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary. It is a goofy, cheesy, warm, fuzzy adventure about taking control of your dreams, and it has Queen Latifah. I am sold.

As it turns out, the Grand Hotel Pupp is an actual place! I was genuinely freaking out when I found out. This the movie I watch when I get homesick. It’s the kind of move that makes me want to jump on my computer and book a flight somewhere.  We will probably be there in November, so (fingers crossed) we might even get some snow.


I hope this has given you some new ideas of places to visit, and I will let you know how it goes when I see them! Were any of these on your must-see list? If not, are there any other spots we should definitely head to? Let me know!

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