June was a very exciting month for us because it meant our trip had begun!! We left Cincinnati on the 12th (on a train) and spent our first official night on the road in Chicago (at an Airbnb). We arrived in the morning and basically had 2 full days to explore.
Chicago is the third largest city in the US and is a very walkable city. Both days we would take the city bus to downtown and then you can access a lot of the tourist sights from there. We explored Grant Park and Millennium Park along Lake Michigan all the way up to the Navy Pier. We enjoyed a cocktail on the 96th Floor of the John Hancock Building with 360 degree views of the city.
After our second day in Chicago, we were off to Edinburgh, Scotland, our first international destination. Edinburgh was a pleasant surprise. I thought Chicago was a very walkable city until I arrived in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is probably the most walkable city I’ve ever been to.
The bus ($2.40 Euro) picked us up from the airport dropped us off right off the Royal Mile in downtown. After that we never had to use public transportation again. We were able to walk to the trailhead at Arthur’s Seat, walk to the Edinburgh Castle, walk to our hostels and walk to the Grass Market. Everything in Edinburgh is right off High Street, The Royal Mile.
After a few days in Edinburgh, we left on a five day Bus Tour (more like a large van) and headed northwest to the Highlands. The Highlands are absolutely stunning and very remote. We were able to explore small fishing villages and gorgeous lochs (lakes) along the way. After the tour we were dropped back off in Edinburgh for a few more days to finish sightseeing.
Overall, we spent 9 nights in Scotland: 7 nights in hostels (3 different ones) and 2 nights in a fishing village at a guesthouse.
After eating a plethora of fish n’ chips, we jumped back on the airport bus and we were on our way to Germany.
We landed in Munich around lunchtime and had a friend pick us up. He drove us to his house in Nuremberg for the night. Nuremberg was where we enjoyed our first beer garden experience. Beer gardens are amazing and such a good idea, I could talk about them for hours.
The following day we took a train to Wurzburg to meet my parents, brother and sister-in-law. My father was born here but hadn’t been back in over 50 years. We met up with some long lost relatives and they gave us a tour of their city. This was an amazing day in so many ways.
Unfortunately, we only stayed one day in Wurzburg. There was so much more to see and other family members to meet. We had to leave because we had set up an Airbnb in Munich for the night. We jumped on the train from Wurzburg and arrived in the late afternoon.
Our Airbnb was outside the city center but we were able to use the city trains for free because we had purchased our Eurail Pass prior to the trip. Munich is the 3rd largest city in Germany and the capital of Bavaria. It’s very easy to get around but since it’s so large, you must take the Metro everywhere.
Thanks to a recommendation, we ended our first night at Hirschgarten, Germany’s largest beer garden. The following day we took a city bike tour through Munich which included lunch at another beer garden, Englischer Garten (2nd largest in Germany).
On our last day in Munich, we took the city train northwest to Dachau. Dachau was a concentration camp used by Hitler in the 1940’s. It was a surreal place and I am thankful places like this do not exist today.
June was coming to an end and it was time to leave the land of the sausages and beer for the pristine country of Switzerland.
Days on the road: 18
Cities Explored: Chicago, Edinburgh, Nuremberg, Wurzburg, Munich
Accommodation: 6 Airbnb, 6 Hostels, 2 Guesthouses, 1 Friend’s House, 1 Hotel, 1 Airplane
Total Transportation: 2 Flights, 3 Long Distance Trains, 12 city trains/metro, 1 Group Tour, 6 City Buses
Paid Excursions: Art Institute of Chicago, 5 Day Bus tour Scotland, Ghost Tour in Edinburgh, Bike Tour in Munich, Visited Dachau
Hikes: 6 (Favorite: Fairy Pools & Arthur’s Seat)
Different Beers: 12 (Favorite: Any beer Out of a Giant Beer Mug)
Outdoor Markets Visited: 2 (Wurzburg, Munich)
Crazy Things That Happened: Had my Face Painted in Germany
Biggest Regret: Staying Only One Day in Wurzburg