6 weeks backpacking in Europe? Let’s do this!
Because Ben and I are just a “little” on the adventurous side, we decided to make our Honeymoon a pretty epic one. We decided to backpack through Europe for 6 weeks and visit 5 countries. Here’s how it went!
*As a preface before we jump into the details, Ben owns his own company and couldn’t take much time off of work with his clients. So this trip wasn’t just exploring Europe. We both worked, met up with friends/family, and explored every country we had the opportunity to visit.
As another preface, I am writing this a year and a half later so it’s all from memory. If you want a quick look at what we did, watch this short video of all the highlights!
Ben says I slept through London and the truth is… I kind of did. Backing up just a little, we had our wedding in SLC on May 19th and spent the next few days at a hotel at the Gateway just west of the Temple. We came back to Texas on the 22nd of May, prepared for an Austin reception for May 25th with the help of my sisters who came in town. Then the following Monday (May 28th) be bought the RV and spent the next week remodeling the RV, moving all of our stuff into it, and then flying out to Europe on June 7th.
To say I was exhausted is an understatement.
We flew overnight to London and our Airbnb person said we couldn’t check in until 2 pm because she missed her train. For Ben (the positive one) this was a good opportunity to get in some work and stay awake so we could get over the jet lag. I SUCK with jet lag and couldn’t stay awake for the life of me. We were in a coffee shop a few blocks away and I just ended up falling asleep at the table.
Finally, at 2 pm we go over to Airbnb and were extremely disappointed with the accommodations. It was just a girl’s room that she hurried and cleaned up before we came over. Her shoes were on the floor, things were falling out of her closet, the bathroom and kitchen weren’t that great. We were both so tired and just said thanks then rested for the remainder of the day.
The next day I was still in recovery. We got a site-seeing city bus pass and did a little of that but came home early because I honestly couldn’t keep my eyes open, even on the bus! When we got back, there wasn’t any more toilet paper and we contacted our host to see if there was any stored somewhere. She told us we could pick some up at the corner store. Lame. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the bedsheet that came up on the sides and we saw some blood spots. This is a sign of bed bugs. WE ARE OUT OF HERE!
We asked to cancel the rest of our stay and get a refund for the remaining nights. We found another Airbnb that was a little better but not by much. It was a group Airbnb where we shared the bathroom/kitchen but at least it didn’t have bed bugs! It was close to the train so we could get around the city and visit a few peeps.
Ok, enough of the drama. Let’s get to the fun stuff.
Here’s a funny Story about this new place. They had a common room kitchen where there were a few tables and a fridge to keep your food in. Ben and I have a weird habit of taking a defensive karate pose when the other person comes into the room. Well, someone came into the kitchen that wasn’t me and Ben went full-on Bruce Lee. When he realized it wasn’t me he said: “Oh sorry, I thought you were my wife.” The girl wasn’t impressed and just walked out. We had a good laugh over it.
London had some cool scenes we got to explore. The bus tours were a great way to learn about the city and see it all without the stress of driving. There was even a river curse so we got to see some really historic sites like London Bridge, Big Ben, and some iconic architecture along the river. We met up with friends, ate some fish and chips (they are very stingy with their ketchup), and went to some great outdoor markets.
One thing that really stood out to us was our visit to the Google office right by Kingscross station. Bens’ old roommate, lives there and gave us a little tour. So cool!
Not a bad view from the top!
Overall, London was fun but didn’t blow us away. We probably didn’t research all the good spots we should have gone to, but it was really crowded and to be honest, dirty. Great place to fly into, but I wouldn’t go to Europe just to go to London.
After our “not so great” accommodations in London, our next Airbnb was a palace. It was on the outskirts of the main city but the cultural experience was totally worth it. There weren’t any grocery stores nearby that were an “all in one” stop. Rather there was a bakery, a butcher shop, and a small produce store within walking distance. Everyone walked everywhere and the food was magnificent, especially the bread and pastries.
Funny Story: When we got to our Airbnb, our host was a nice lady in her 40s who was working on her English. She told us she was a Cheif, which Ben got really excited about. I corrected her when I realized she meant Chef. Still cool, but not as cool as a Cheif.
She had to go out of town the next day so we had the whole place to ourselves. It was a really nice apartment and really close to the train station.
Another funny story: As you exit the apartment door, there is a short hallway with elevators with some automatic lights and when there isn’t any motion, they turn off. The first time we walked out and it was pitch black, it was confusing and somewhat scary. Ben said in a curious/whispering voice “Are we going to get murdered?” I lost it laughing. The motion sensor lights turned on and left. It was so funny to me.
The best part of Paris was art history and architecture. We went to the Louvre, Notre Dame, and Arce De Triumph. All were breathtaking. I really enjoy art history but Ben gets art numb fairly quickly. We did stumble upon a graffiti museum that Ben liked so it was a win-win for the day.
We did visit the Effiel tower while in Paris. Glad we did it, wouldn’t do it again. It was SO crowded and being at the top wasn’t as exciting as you think it will be. It’s a great view of Paris but because of the long lines and crowds, it’s not as “romantic” as you might picture it to be.
One crazy thing that happened was, my brother and Sister-in-law were in Paris at the same time! She was 5 months pregnant and was visiting my other brother and sister-in-law who were living in Germany at the time. So we hung out, walked through Notre Dame, and got some gelato.
Overall, we loved Paris and would go back. The art there was incredible and nothing in the states holds a candle to the baguettes.
Travel days were exciting but also extremely stressful. Packing up and getting to a train on time, just to be in another confusing country, then finding your new location all with a language barrier to deal with. Ben would get stressed about working and an internet connection, so it was up to me for travel planning. Luckily in Germany, we met up with my brother and Sister-in-law who were living there for work. It was such a relief to be with family as well as someone who was fairly familiar with the language and had a car.
We took a train ride into Stuttgart and stayed for two days until my brother could come to pick us up. We stumbled upon a German place that served Dunners. It was AMAZING! It seemed like the first real meal we had in a long time. We liked it so much, we went back again the next day and ate the same thing!
While in Stuttgart, we went to a neighboring town that I guess used to be a mid-evil town with some of the same architecture. It was really fun to walk around all the shops! I even found my way to an old chapel!
Kevin and Melora picked us up for a weekend in Austria. It was SO nice to have a car to get around and people that knew the area. We stayed overnight at an Airbnb that overlooked some incredible countryside, then headed to the New Schoenstein castle in the morning. There we took a tour and even did a little bobsled ride afterward.
Austria is a place I would love to go back to for sure. The landscape was incredible!
After the castle, we checked out a treetop canopy walk and skipped some rocks in the river. The water was so blue!
The next day we went and explored a recreated ancient trade village on the water. It was crazy to walk around and see how people lived there so many years ago.
Then we spent the rest of the day out at Constance lake. My sister-in-law and I went swimming even though the water was really cold. The boys stayed on the beach which was fine. We called ourselves The Adventure Club. Someone has to jump in!
Another fun thing we did in Germany was going to the baths where different pools were filled with minerals and you could dip yourself in each and they were supposed to have healing properties. We didn’t go upstairs which was the “nude” section. We love culture but not sure we are ready for that. It was worth it for sure!
The last day we were in town, we explored an old castle close by before taking the train to Switzerland.
It was so nice spending the week with family and getting a little break from our backpacking trip where we had a car, with a guide that knew the language. So nice…
I grew up in Salt Lake City Utah and am very familiar with mountains but the Swiss Alps had me breathless. Honestly, they were so dramatic it was hard to take it all in.
We took the train into Switzerland and found our Airbnb in Thun. It was a really decent price to stay but transportation over there was CRAZY expensive. To be honest, everything was expensive. We had to be very selective about what activities we chose to do there as it was about $100 each to take transportation anywhere.
We decided to go downhill dune bugging. We had to take a bus, then a train, to a town called Grindlewald then took a ski lift thing to the top of the mountain where we hiked around, then road these dune buggy things down the mountainside. It was awesome and a really unique day to remember. Those wildflowers though…
We enjoyed even just walking around the town of Thun and would love to go back if the opportunity ever presents itself.
Funny story. The first night we were in town, we ever so slightly opened the windows to let the fresh night air in. Little did we know the mosquitos there are small but Oh so powerful! We woke up to over a dozen in our room. All who loved my blood rather than Bens! I had about 10 bites on my face and another 10 on my arms. Ben had a good laugh as my face was slightly disfigured the first few days of Switzerland but we learned our lesson and kept the windows closed at night.
One stress of this whole trip was trying to figure out how we were actually going to get to Croatia. We decided to take Ryan Air and fly there, then fly back to London for our outgoing flight. It was the best decision as the drive would have been 14 hours +
Anyway, we arrive in Croatia, and the landscape is not what we expected. I kept saying, it looked like Cedar City Utah with lots of dirt and sagebrush. We rented a car, and headed to our Airbnb. Kevin and Melora (family we visited in Germany) were also coming to hang out with us in Croatia for a bit so a few days later we picked them up and went on some really cool adventures.
Croatia really has some hidden Gems. One was called Plvitca park where you walked for miles along a raised wooden path and saw incredible waterfalls.
The other park we went to was one where we could swim in!
Both were so magical in their own way.
The world cup for soccer was going on during our stay so the whole country was really involved with the games. We watched the semi-finals in a park with a bunch of rowdy Croatians in town!
It was fun to spend a day in town and do a little shopping. Of course, I couldn’t live without some Gelatto!
Kevin and Melora were supposed to come on this “Blue Hole” excursion with us but weather restricted the boats so it was postponed until the next day. So, they headed home and we stayed. The excursion wasn’t what we expected. We spoke with someone at the airport when we first arrived in Croatia and they told us it was the most incredible thing they have ever done because they had to hike into it and could stay there a while.
Now… this place is a tourist trap, and we got trapped. We took a bumpy boat ride for an hour and a half, then waited an hour for a smaller boat ride where we entered the cave for only a few minutes… It was for sure cool… but I wouldn’t recommend it. We also went to some Croatian beaches as well as a castle. It was a good day but in the end, Kev and Melora didn’t miss out on much.
In the end, we loved our adventure. There were times it was incredibly stressful but looking back, I am not sure we would have had any other time in our lives to be able to travel like this together.
Check out the video we made!