Throughout our travels in Europe, we have developed a special connection with Spain. We first visited in 2008, starting in the north in San Sebastian and making our way south, hitting Barcelona, Valencia, Granada and Sevilla. After moving to Luxembourg, we continued our Spanish explorations every few months, and held our wedding in Majorca last summer. To continue getting to know the country more intimately, we jetted off for a 5-day weekend in the famed Costa del Sol.
To celebrate the Luxembourgish holiday of Whit Monday (we are still not clear on what this is), we decided to hightail it out of town and fly to Ischia, a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, just off of Naples. To make the most of our 4 day trip, we booked a 7am flight out of nearby Brussels, and woke up at 3am to drive a couple hours north to the airport.
We started what would become an 8 hour drive from Edinburgh to the Iske of Skye just after sunrise on a chilly, wet morning. The Isle of Skye is connected to Scotland by bridge about four hours from Edinburgh. It's known for its rugged landscapes, fishing villages and medieval castles. It's said that the Scottish Highlands have a mystical quality to them. We had to see for ourselves.
We traded in the lovely sun on the coast of Portugal from our last adventure for the raging winds in Scotland. After a long work day and happy hour drinks with Erin's colleagues, we hopped in the car and drove an hour and a half to Frankfurt Hahn airport in Germany - a warehouse in the German countryside. We landed at 11:30 pm UK time, so we quickly picked up our rental car and drove into town, planning to explore the city at first light.
After spending consecutive weekends exploring the markets and rooftops of Madrid and discovering Gaudi's timeless works Barcelona, we decided to keep it closer to home for a short weekend trip to Strasbourg, France. We headed out early on a frosty Saturday morning and drove south, cutting through Germany on our way down to the Alsace region.
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.
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