I have fallen far, far behind on blogging. It's been over two months since my last post and I owe updates on half a dozen trips: Dijon, London, Amsterdam, Budapest, Lausanne, Milan.... Plus, we have visits with Matt's mom and my friend Julie to share! I will get to them soon, I promise. I have the best excuse for the delay: it has been the most gorgeous summer here in Switzerland. Last summer was cool and rain soaked. This summer has been the polar opposite, gloriously full of warm, sunny days. We've been soaking up every bit, swimming in lakes and rivers, climbing mountains, learning new hobbies and trying desperately to keep our non-air conditioned apartment cool. The last month was the hottest on record here in Zurich, with highs in the 90s for about half of the days and 80s for the rest. It's been hot! Despite the lack of AC, I really haven't minded. It feels a bit like home (but with less humidity than central Ohio, thank god). Here's a peek into how we've spent our second summer in Switzerland.
In 2015, friends from home joined us in crossing a major item off the travel bucket list: Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. While it would make sense for the festival to take place in October, it actually begins in mid-September and runs only through the first weekend in Oktober. Six million people visit Oktoberfest every year, so it's no surprise that Munich is PACKED. Hotels are expensive and sell out quickly. Trains are full. We were WAY behind when we began planning our trip in July, but we were lucky. Guided by great advice from Matt's German co-workers, we planned a pretty awesome and inexpensive trip to Munich, via Innsbruck, Austria..
Innsbruck is a three and a half hour train ride from Zurich and a great mid-point stop on the way to Munich. It is also much less expensive, especially during Oktoberfest. We left Zurich on a Saturday, early morning train, which allowed us to spend an almost full day exploring. Since our time was limited, we skipped the panoramic views from the Nordkette cable car and funicular and Olympic ski jumps in favor of wandering around the Altstadt (Old Town), sampling local liquors, eating tasty food and hanging out at an outdoor music festival.
Austrian brandy tasting at Culinarium in Altstadt Innsbruck
Last September my brother spent time in London for work and suggested we meet him in Scotland for a stay on the Isle of Islay and visits to some of his favorite whisky distilleries. Matt and I like whisky (although neither of us were knowledgeable enough to know Islay), so we said, "Sure!" And began planning one of my favorite trips to date. Here's how we did Scotland.
Laphroaig Distillery, Islay
Matt & I flew in and out of Edinburgh from Basel, Switzerland on EasyJet - easy and inexpensive. Joe met us there. While there is public transport in the major cities, renting a car from Edinburgh airport was the easiest way for us to get around the Scottish countryside. We stayed the first night in Glasgow, drove to the Islay, stayed three nights on the Island then drove back for a final night in Edinburgh before flights home.