We headed to the Wein HBF train station at 6:30 am for the next leg of our trip, sad to leave immaculate, stately Vienna but excited to check out Prague, which had been on our list for years. We hopped on our first class train to Praha and spent the next 3 hours listening to podcasts, snacking on dried mango and granola, staring out at the rolling countryside and falling in and out of sleep. Immediately upon arriving in Prague, we knew we would love it. Where Vienna was sophisticated and palacial, Prague was gritty and mysterious. Even with the sunny day, the dark-toned architecture with jutting spires gave an ominous feel.
So far this fall we've stayed in Luxembourg, beating our previous record for weekends at home by at least 3 weeks. To escape the wet and dreary climate in Lux, we decided to knock a few major cities off our Euro travel checklist by exploring Vienna, Austria and Prague, Czech Republic.
As the summer started to wind down, we decided to head to Puglia, a region in southern Italy located on the "heel of the boot." We learned about Puglia from some Italians living in Luxembourg, and they described it as a rugged, natural area home to miles of olive groves, rustic cooking, and grottoes lined with turquoise water, all undiscovered by the international tourism community. We flew from Frankfurt Hahn airport on a Thursday morning and landed in Bari just after noon. Then we traversed 800 miles by car as we explored Matera, Monopoli, Ostuni, Alberobello, Otranto and more.
One of our favorite movies is Hitchcock's "To Catch a Thief", which features Grace Kelly and Cary Grant traveling through the French Riviera. Since we first watched it together in a Cleveland basement at least 10 years ago, it was always one of our goals to take in the glamour, old-Hollywood history and beautiful scenery of the Cote d'Azur in the south of France. Now that we are based in Lux, it is only an hour flight into the heart of Nice. We woke up at dawn, drove to a local airport in Strasbourg, jetted over the snow-capped Alps and landed by lunchtime.
For our first trip of what is shaping up to be a busy summer travel-wise, we decided to start with a long weekend exploring Lisbon and Sintra in southern Portugal. Before moving to Europe, Portugal was never a top priority destination for us, but we ended up loving the food, wine, scenery and vibes in Porto on our first visit so we had high hopes for exploring Lisbon.
Brussels, Bruges, Ghent
After a dreary couple of weekends in Luxembourg, we decided to spend a long weekend in nearby Belgium. The border of Belgium is only 15 minutes drive from our place in Lux, and we regularly go there for typical Saturday errands. But this weekend we decided to venture further out and explore the Belgian trifecta of Brussels, Bruges and Ghent.
After spending a weekend in Luxembourg, we were ready to escape the dreary cold and head to the surprisingly warm and sunny weather in London for a 5-day business trip. Since our trip included a weekend stay, we took time to be tourists in London and hit a few new spots we hadn't seen before.
For our second trip to Ireland, we planned an open-jaw trip from the east coast to the west coast. We started in Dublin then road tripped it toward County Kerry with the aim to explore as many castles as we could find along the way. We flew in from Frankfurt Hahn Thursday night, arriving in Dublin after midnight. We immediately noticed loud partygoers outside pubs and lively crowds walking along the river that divides the city.
We couldn't wait to return to Majorca for an action-packed five day adventure trip. Along with Erin's brother Mason, we started off the trip by checking out the capital city of Palma. After arriving at night, we dropped our bags and ventured out for tapas. Accompanied by cervezas and cava, we chowed down on some delicious octopus, shrimp and other small plates. We spent the night strolling around the city streets along with stylish crowds enjoying the summer night at sidewalk cafes. Compared to the Luxembourg folk, the stylish, attractive people made for fantastic people-watching. Around midnight we made it to the Palma Cathedral - with its massive stone footprint - one of the largest gothic churches in the world.
After the whirlwind of travel we've been on lately, we decided to take the month of July to explore our immediate surroundings in the Netherlands, France and Germany. Fortunately, because Luxembourg is centrally located within Europe, these countries are just a scenic road trip away.