So, anyone who has been around me in the past 6 months or so has heard me babble on and on (and on) about how excited we are to be going to Europe in May. Now, we are a mere 25 days away from when we embark on the trip of a lifetime! Our itinerary is as follows:
May 16 We leave from BWI and head to Munich, Germany to check out the city center and no doubt visit a good old Biergarten (or three). Sean says he wants to buy a pair of Lederhosen while we’re there.. not sure if that purchase will come to fruition, but I will be sure to snap a picture if it does. Another little task at hand is to follow my sister Lysa’s idea and snap as many “Opfer” signs as possible. Opfer is my maiden name, which means victim (or sacrifice) in German. Needless to say, there are many monuments erected displaying my beloved family name.
May 18 We check out of our hotel and head to the Muenchen Hbf (city center train station) and take a train down to Innsbruck, Austria. Obviously, we’ll be checking out this beautiful city but the main reason for heading there is to avoid the $600 drop fee for picking up a car in one county and dropping off in another. Once we pick up our car from there, we will probably grab a bite to eat at a local place and then head on to our next destination, Hallstatt, Austria. On the way, we plan on stopping to see the picturesque Lake Königssee and taking in the breathtaking views and crisp mountain air. Look at this view!
I am truly looking forward to this drive. This year will be our 15 year wedding anniversary ( I know, I know.. I look too young to be married 15 years – ha!) and this be our second honeymoon, of sorts. For our first honeymoon, we had very little money as I was still in college and Sean was in entry level positions. So, we took a road trip up to Montreal, Canada and found out that we LOVE to drive around to new destinations together. We had the same excitement back in 2003 when we took a week-long trip to Ireland. There is such a great thrill in driving around in new places, not knowing what you’ll find along the way. I have stories for every city we’ve traveled and I yearn for absorbing all offerings from different cultures.
So, now we’ll make our way to Hallstatt, a postcard-view town nestled in the foot of the Austrian Alps. When this trip was just a mere idea, I had researched places to see in Europe and this little town grabbed my attention right from the beginning. I planned almost our entire part of our visit to Germany and Austria around this little village. I am not a huge fan of largely populated areas, and find such peace in quaint towns. And while Hallstatt is gaining popularity in tourism, it still has that small-town charm you just can’t get in many locations. A few things we have planned are to visit the Hallstatt Charnel House, take a tour of the Hallstatt salt mine (which was the main source of income for this quaint little town), hike, bike and possibly rent a boat to go across the lake! What I am most looking forward to is relaxing and taking in all the expansive views.
May 20 We’ll check out of our hotel in the morning and drive down towards Villach, Austria. If we have some extra time, we plan on heading into Slovenia for lunch in Lake Bled. I would love to take the boat ride to the castle on the island but I really don’t think we’ll be able to fit that into our itinerary as we have to drop off our car in Villach and catch an afternoon train to Venice, Italy.
So, our train will be arriving fairly late in Venice and after our boat transfers and drive from earlier in the day I’m sure we’ll pretty much just settle into our B&B and grab our first taste of Italian cuisine for dinner. Boy, am I ever looking forward to that! I am (literally) a huge fan of Italian cuisine and I can’t wait to taste all the fresh, local ingredients in those scrumptious dishes. Oh, and the wine.. let’s not forget about the vino! I will be in heaven!!
In Venice, we don’t have much set in stone, but plan on spending a lot of time in St. Mark’s Square and strolling through the tiny side streets which are intertwined throughout Venice. I am looking forward to “getting lost” on the island. Also on the list of things to do is visit Murano Glass and of course, take a romantic gondola ride!
May 22 We’ll check out of our hotel leisurely and pick up our car rental and head to Tuscany. We will probably make a quick stop in Bologna along the way, since it’s right on our route. Later on that evening, we arrive at our villa in Bagni di Lucca where we actually meet up with 6 of our good friends (3 couples)! We will be traveling with them for the remainder of our trip. So, we have the best of both worlds here.. alone time with each other in Germany and Austria and then fun friend time in Italy! Could it get any better than that?! Our villa we are renting for the week is amazing. The owners have been very gracious in providing information about the location, things to do, etc. They will even have dinner ready for us upon arrival and will be doing some light grocery shopping for us as well. Here are some pics of the villa!
plus this heated pool with these views!
From our villa, we plan on taking some day trips to Florence, Pisa, Lucca and Siena. We may take some other small trips to surrounding towns and local wineries as well. We plan on leaving a day (or two!) open for relaxing at the villa and again, taking in these fantastic views. I’m such a visual person, so for me it’s ALL about the views!! Sean has been practicing cooking his Eggplant and Chicken Parmigiana, so after picking up local fresh ingredients from the town grocery store, he’ll be cooking that for the group one of the nights. Our friend Brian has been practicing some additional recipes too, including a delicious risotto which he served at our last “Italy Meeting” so we all can’t wait taste some more cooking by Sean and Brian. The rest of us girls (and Scott and Jeff) will gladly sit poolside with wine in hand while those two cook in the kitchen.
May 28 From our villa, we’ll pile into our three cars early that morning and head on down to Roma! We will probably make a roundabout stop in Assisi on the way. In Rome, we’re renting an apartment which is centrally located and convenient to most modes of transportation. This will come in handy as we’ll be dropping our cars off as soon as we arrive in Rome. While we’re there, we plan on visiting The Colosseum, San Giovanni, The Holy Stairs, The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, The Vatican, a bike ride to Aquaduct Park/Appian Way, etc etc etc!! I give kudos to our friends Brian and Sarah for planning a lot of our Italian adventures! Oh, and let’s not forget about the nightlife.. I’m looking forward to a little Italian Burlesque at Club Micca.
I’m sure we’ll visit other spots not planned or not visit spots as planned, but for now we have a great backbone for our trip! I look forward to especially documenting everything through my photography and I’ll be sure to post back on here when I can! Thanks for reading my (grammar mistake-laden) writing about this trip and special thanks to those who will be house-sitting and pet-sitting our little creatures while we take this venture! Stay tuned…