June was a very exciting month for us because it meant our trip had begun!! We left Cincinnati on the 12th (by train) and spent our first official night on the road in Chicago (at an Airbnb). We arrived early in the morning and had 2 full days to explore.
Chicago is the third largest city in the US and is a very walkable city. We took the city bus each day to downtown then were able to access most tourist sights from there. We explored Grant Park and Millennium Park along Lake Michigan all the way up to the Navy Pier. At the end, we toasted our trip with a cocktail on the 96th Floor of the John Hancock Building with 360 degree views of the city.
After two days 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. It’s probably the most walkable city I’ve ever been to.
We rode the bus (€2.40) from the airport to 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, to the Edinburgh Castle, to our hostels and to the Grass Market. Its so convenient that 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 tof sightseeing.
Overall, we spent 9 nights in Scotland: 7 nights in hostels (3 different ones) and 2 nights at a guesthouse in a fishing village.
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 from the USA living in Germany pick us up. That night, we stayed with his family in Nuremberg. We enjoyed our first beer garden experience in Nuremberg. Beer gardens are an outdoor area in which beer and food are served typically at shared tables. What an amazing 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 beautiful city. This was an amazing day in so many ways.
Unfortunately, we only stayed one day in Wurzburg as there was so much more to see and do on our trip. We took the train from Wurzburg to Munich arriving late afternoon.
Our Airbnb was outside the city center but we were able to use the city trains for free because of the Eurail Pass we had purchased prior to the trip. Munich is the 3rd largest city in Germany and the capital of Bavaria. It’s very easy to get around on the Metro.
Thanks to a recommendation from a local, we ended our first night at Hirschgarten, Germany’s largest beer garden. It holds 10,000 people. The following day we had a city bike tour through Munich which included lunch at another beer garden, Englischer Garten (2nd largest in Germany). It holds 7,500 people.
On our last day in Munich, we trained 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