After much debate we decided it was finally time to leave Europe. Three months was really burning a hole in our pockets and we had a craving for a new adventure. India would be the perfect next destination, but how to get there? After hours of searching we found that flying from Paris would save us a lot of money. We had both been to Paris back in college so we had no need to see everything. Only four days would give us a good taste (literally) of the city.
What better way to taste Paris than crepes? We frequented a few popular spots near our Airbnb to try as many as possible. Savory or sweet and all delicious!
We scoped out Brewberry and Académie de la bière, two beer bars nearby to see what they had on tap. Overall the French beers were good but pricey. They had a good selection of craft imports as well so we were happy.
Even though we only came to Paris for the cheap flight to India, we still managed to revisit a few of the main attractions. We walked along the Seine to see Notre Dame and the Louvre, went underground in the Catacombs, and picnicked under the Eiffel Tower. Vesper didn’t like Paris the first time he went, but Laura managed to change his mind this time around.
Looking back on our month in India, it was probably the country we will simultaneously love and hate the most. We loved the food, the people, and the sights, but each of those also had their drawbacks. We love trying street food, but not when dishes are washed in sewer water. We love meeting people and learning about their culture and lives, but not when overly pushy vendors make you not want to talk to anyone. We love visiting new places, but so many beautiful and sacred sites are littered with trash and shit (literally - cow, dog, and even human excrement is everywhere). India was a constant assault to the senses. We’re glad we did it: we got to try amazing food, meet new friends, and have memories that will stay with us for a lifetime. However, we’re still trying to process everything we experienced and want to make sure we portray it correctly so it might be awhile until you get to see the pictures.
Welcome to Thailand!
Given what we said about India, it’s easy to see why Thailand is a breath of fresh air - literally! The streets aren’t choked with smog or covered in trash! But let’s be honest: our love of Thailand began with the food. We have finally found a country that rivals Mexican street food! We can’t say one is better than the other - that’s like comparing apples and oranges - but the food here is amazing. We ate meat about three times in India so we’re making up for it here. In less than a week we have already eaten chicken, pork, beef, and duck - although we did skip over the fried bugs. Maybe we’ll try them before we leave, but that may require a bit of liquid courage.
We ended up visiting Germany twice within a few weeks. The first was to meet Laura’s parents in Munich before we headed off to Interlaken, and then again later to meet up with our friend Kim for her birthday!
Munich Round 1: Oktoberfest & Dachau
We weren’t planning on going to Oktoberfest since we’ve already been (twice), but then Laura’s parents got flights in/out of Munich so twist our arm! From our previous stints at Oktoberfest, we knew that it’s easiest to go for lunch and leave before it gets super crowded and crazy. But in true Oktoberfest fashion, you might have so much fun that you forget to leave! After all, you can’t have only one stein! You have to make the rounds, check out all the beautifully decorated tents, and - of course - try all the delicious food and beer. We recommend everyone add Oktoberfest to their bucket list. It’s an amazing atmosphere with people from all over the world who are all happy, drunk, and rocking lederhosen and dirndls. Our friend Bryant was also in Munich for Oktoberfest, and it was great to catch up with him and share a few steins.
After oktoberfest, we visited Dachau just outside of Munich. Dachau was the first concentration camp set up by the Nazis in World War II. Although we had visited this site a few years ago, it was interesting to go back since we had toured Auschwitz only a month prior.
Munich Round 2: Happy birthday, Kim!
After saying goodbye to Laura’s parents, we came back to Munich to meet up with Kim. We have only ever been to Munich during Oktoberfest, so it was interesting for us to see the contrast. Kim arrived on her birthday, so in addition to seeing the sights around town, we celebrated in classic style at Hofbräuhaus.
Rüdesheim am Rhein
To shake things up a bit, we took a break from beer and headed to wine country. Germany is known for their rieslings and some pinots too. We spent a few days touring various wineries, enjoying the countryside, and walking along the Rhine River.
Our final stop with Kim was Frankfurt, a city with a very metropolitan feel. It too has a charming Old Town, but the city is dominated by skyscrapers since it is the financial capital of Germany. We enjoyed a few more beer gardens, checked out the skyline along the river and splurged on… Chipotle! We haven’t had it since we left the US, but it happened to be located right next to our hotel. It wasn’t quite what you would expect for our last meal in Germany, but it was delicious nevertheless!
Even though we went to Prague a few years ago, we liked the idea of having more Czech pivo (beer) and playing tour guide for our final week with Laura’s parents. While exploring Old Town by foot was convenient for most things, we figured we would get some of the best views on a boat cruise and a bit of style from an “old” car tour.
Our first stop in Prague was the Old Town Square for beer the famous astronomical clock tower. Dating back to medieval times (it was installed in 1410), the clock has an array of mechanisms that detail the positions of the sun, moon, and what month it is - but most people really go to see “The Walk of the Apostles” which happens on the hour. These moving sculptures draw a HUGE crowd so you can always tell when it’s getting close.
In addition to the beautiful Old Town, Prague has a unique blend of old historical sites peppered in with modern architecture and design. The Old Jewish Cemetery was across the street from our Airbnb and is the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe. Just down the street from this is the modern Dancing House, whose design was met with controversy as it is in stark contrast to the rest of the city’s architecture. Across the river is the John Lennon Wall, which has been a symbol of peace and love since the 1980s amidst the communist era. Also on the west bank of the Vlata River is the historic Prague Castle, which has an area so large the Guinness Book of Records named it “the largest ancient castle in the world!”
Prague has more to offer than just pretty sights - the most obvious being Czech beer! Most places offered Pilsner Urquel (literally “original pilsner”) and Budweiser. No, it is not the same as American Budweiser. This is a Czech original that is much older and much better! We paired our beers with hearty and delicious Czech food, some of which is even made with beer! The most notable was the beer cheese, which was an interesting culinary experience. Sounds good on paper… but our only way to describe it is that it tasted like a fart.
Continuing our culinary journey, no trip to Prague would be complete without trying some absinthe. We’ll just let you see for yourself how delicious it was.
Prague was our last stop with Laura’s parents. It was an eventful two weeks full of beautiful sights and delicious beers. Thanks for coming, mom and dad!
Laura’s parents came to join us for a few weeks and wanted to spend one of them in Switzerland, which worked out great because we were looking for an excuse to go! We chose Interlaken as our homebase to explore the surrounding region.
Instead of museums or monuments, the main attractions in Interlaken are the turquoise lakes, beautiful mountains, and small chalet-filled villages. We got a three day pass for the area’s trains, cog railways, and cable cars, which made it easy to get up into the mountains for the best views.
Of course the best views of the lake are from the water, so we jumped on board a paddlewheel ferry to cruise around lake Brienz. And yes - the water really is that color. The coloring is due to “glacial flour” or silt particles that make the water milky colored. You can read more about it here.
On a break from the countryside, we decided to take a day trip to the nearby capital of Bern. After a few pleasant hours wandering the old town and waiting for the clock tower’s dance, we found the real attraction: bears! The city has several large brown bears inside a huge bear pit along the river, which dates back to the 1500s. The bear is a prominent symbol on flags throughout the city and region.
Our last day in Interlaken we went paragliding. This was easily one of the coolest things we have ever done! Our pilots gave us a chance to steer while we were up there, and we each did some fun tricks and spins on the way down before landing. It was a bit pricey but we can’t recommend it enough. We’ll have to try hang gliding next!