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 crazy ice cream sundaes. Those were the days. The past few weeks have been pretty calm over here. I’m beginning to write my dissertation and waiting for my lab results to come back, so, naturally, I have been procrastinating like a boss. It seemed smart
to try and make something productive out of it.
I have been taking almost all of my study breaks to look up destinations and plan for my trip this fall. 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 after I finish up all of my school work. It’s something of a last hurrah before I leave the UK to live in the states.
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 thing 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, and 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 probably not going to Salzburg, but I do intend to return one day for the music festival, so there is still hope for that one. 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.
In no particular order, here are the six things I am most excited about for this fall!
1. The 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.
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. And that’s exciting.
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 believe that was during my trip to visit Durham after I was accepted. Woah, things come full circle.
I’d 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.
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 apline 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 Liechtenstein and 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.
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.
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, so I need to go. I was genuinely freaking out when I found out this was a thing. This is one of the movies that I would watch when I got homesick or was sad to leave home. 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 I am hoping we might even get some snow. Fingers crossed.
And there we have it. 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 see? Let me know!