“Two minutes to spare”, Brett informed me as we settled into our seats on train from Dublin to Galway. The taxi driver had been amazing, navigating the traffic and construction to get us to the train station on time, but when we discovered our train was on the end of a very long track, we ran (faster than I thought I was capable) to catch it before the doors closed. We made it and settled in for a two-and-a-half hour ride from the east side of Ireland to the far west. Little did we know that our final destination, the Cliffs of Moher, would consume another two-and-a-half hours on a bus ride down the coast. So, on the last day of our three-week European adventure, we spent ten of our fourteen travel hours on a taxi, a train and four buses, but when I saw the Cliffs, I knew each bump in the road had led us to a place like no other.
The majestic Cliffs of Moher set against the Irish mist is something we have all seen in pictures, but feeling the fear as you approach the edge and witnessing the massive formations in person is beyond compare.
And as beautiful as our last excursion turned out to be, our first was every bit as breathtaking as we traveled from Bergen to Oslo to explore the fjords of Norway
by train, bus (down the steepest road in northern Europe) and a windy three-hour boat tour. At the time, I thought we had seen the best and the rest of the trip would be bland in comparison. Boy, was I wrong!
Eleven days later, we traveled from Munich to Zurich by bus, Zurich to Lauterbrunnen by train and Lauterbrunnen to Murren by cable car—halfway up one big-ass mountain.
When we got to our room, we stepped out on our deck and faced a mountain in front of us and a valley way, way, way down below. Fear of heights is not one of my phobias, but believe me, I was holding tight to the railing on our deck for these pictures.
Three of the most beautiful sights on one vacation is more than one should expect, but there was so much more…
The Vasa Museum in Stockholm housed the oldest salvaged ship—it sunk in 1628!
A city with great food (Swedish meatballs of course) where the sun rose at 3:45 AM and didn’t set until at almost 10:00 PM.
Prague had some of the most beautiful architecture including the astronomical clock, as well as the cheapest drinks at local beer hall, appropriately named Lokal.
Salzburg was only an overnighter, but the lovely home of Mozart was enchanting.
Our three days in Munich were cathartic as we were reminded of my father’s German heritage and, in turn, ours if slightly more diluted.
Enjoying the music and atmosphere of the famous beer hall, Hofbrau Haus, Brett’s tears started to flow for his grandfather—my father. In life, my dad never travelled to Germany, but we felt he was with us that day. And of course, what would Germany be without a castle.
We returned to Germany after our amazing Switzerland stop, traveling farther north to Heidelberg to meet a friend of Brett’s who had moved to Germany. This friend took us on a hike to the amphitheater once used to recruit young Nazis.
Imagining the furor of those meetings, I couldn’t help feeling anger over the bigoted, hateful agenda of Hitler’s followers. I wish we’d have learned more from those times…
As our trip drew near the end, we stopped in Amsterdam for a couple of days. The canals weave through the city where there are literally more people traveling by bike than by car. I feel lucky to have survived the passing bikes swirling through the narrow cobblestone streets.
Ending our trip in Dublin was a glorious finale to our adventure, where we started with a tour of the Jameson distillery and finished with the Cliffs of Moher. In between I was astonished by the Book of Kells and the Old Library, while Brett enjoyed learning how to pour and drink Guinness on the other side of town.
We had a drink with the locals at the Gravediggers bar and a round of golf at Howth Golf Club on the rainiest and windiest day of our trip—in spite of the weather, the Irish Sea was beautiful.
And, now I’m home again, happy to see my friends, my family and my dog, but a little sad that I’m not still exploring Europe. For all the people I met—Joao, Andreas, Loran, Ginny, Alan and all the others whose names I didn’t get—you all made this a trip I will not soon forget. The sights were amazing, but sharing them with other travelers and natives added color, flavor and spice to the adventure.