Friday Questions: European Adventure Edition!

Remember that dream, that it’s-not-going-to-happen-but-maybe-someday dream?

It’s happening.

c1b1997b7ac0aabf8abbda1d9385a921We have talked about it for the past year and a half, but every time there were so many reasons that it wasn’t possible. The cost, limited vacation days, the cost, the fact that James was living in another state, the cost, the fact that I didn’t really speak any German and hate being a terrible tourist, the cost, busy schedules, THE COST. But this June, it’s happening. I am overseeing a short-term study abroad trip for my university in southern France, which means that the school covers my round-trip ticket. When they told me I could arrive and leave anytime I wanted, I jumped at the chance to arrive early (because, PARIS) and stay late (because, EUROPE). Plus, after some careful calculations, we decided that if I live pretty frugally with my stipend while there, we can squirrel it away to fly James over after the students go home and we can have an adventure.


Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAway we go! We are meeting up in Milan and then hopping a train to spend several days in Cinqua Terre, on the Italian coast. After that it is up to Munich, where we will spend five days living out the German dream. Munich was selected after after I asked my German co-workers where I could go that would act as a base camp for day trips and would look like a German post-card. But, as the semester is busy, I’m hoping to outsource a lot of my trip planning to you, fine people of the internet. 0351a3691e1fe16120e75359dcb1ce64

Where should we stay, play, eat, etc. in Cinqua Terre? I basically have just always wanted to go because it looks beautiful, but I would love some guidance on specific restaurants, walks, sights, and lodging. Airbnb? Hostel? Cheap hotel? Give me alllllll the suggestions!

Where should we stay, play, eat, etc. in Munich? We are planning day trips to castles, cute places in Bavaria, and Salzberg, but where should be our home base in Munich? Any places you have stayed/ things you have done that you just want to pass on? I have been sitting in on German all semester, which means I am totally fluent when it comes to labeling office furniture and expressing my love of eating and watching TV (hello, easy verbs).

Finally, any pro tips for all that train travel in between? Are some of those rail passes really worth it? James reallllyyyyy wants to take the train through the Alps, but it looks so long and kind of pricey.

Thanks people! I promise to reward you with way more Instagrams and blog posts than you ever wanted.

Images via here and here.

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52 Responses to Friday Questions: European Adventure Edition!

  1. Kelly says:

    Cinque is so much fun!! Vernazza was my favorite, and it’s VERY picturesque–maybe the most so out of the villages. When I was there we stayed in Rio, and it was nice though not as picturesque. There were a couple of cute restaurants we ate at, and it was swarming with cats (so obviously I was in heaven). Note: There are cats everywhere anyway, especially on the hikes. I also liked staying on one of the end villages, because it made hiking very easy (we’d just hike through all the villages and then take the train home at night).

  2. Kelly says:

    Also I think the picture you posted is Rio Maggiore–where we stayed!

    • Hannah says:

      You do love the cats! And I should also say that while James is my favorite travel buddy, you are a very close second (maybe a tie?). We seriously need another Kelly-Hannah adventure! And we ended up booking in Rio Maggiore because everything else was gross or booked. Looking forward to hiking it all!

  3. simonbellars says:

    Pesto is the specialty of Liguria so it’s well worth having a bowl of pasta pesto for lunch! It’s great all over Italy but particularly tasty in this region.

  4. Katy says:

    In CInque Terra, eat at Miky — they cook their pasta by covering the dish in a thin layer of pizza dough and steaming it, so you have to poke open the dough to eat it. Delish. Hike between the 5 towns and take in the views!

  5. Megan says:

    Abe and I did some Bavaria, Salzberg, and Munich. Salzberg was amazing. You have to go to the Augustiner Beer Hall. To do it cheeply (like us) bring your own pretzels, sausages, pickles, etc. and just buy your beer there. We stayed a little south of the city with a guy from AirBNB (Marcus). If you are interested, I can give you his contact information. He was great—gave us all sorts of advice on where to go as well as a history lesson of the area. We followed Rick Steves Guides religiously. If you wait until 1 hour before the Salzberg fort closes, the admission is 1/2 price. We climbed up there, sat down to wait, and watched other people pay full price five minutes before the price drop. The Rick Steves walking tour will cover the churches and Sound of Music areas downtown. You can download it via the free app. On the East side of the river, there is a market that Marcus told us about. Great for fresh fruits and vegetables and cheese and meat. Abe tried bloodwurst there—he wouldn’t recommend it. The Salzberg public transportation pass is a fantastic value, but if you are not staying in Salzberg, the Bayern Pass is pretty good. You get all the public transportation in Bavaria and Salzberg. We took a train from Salzberg to Munich and then used our Bayern pass for Munich public transport the rest of the day (got us all the way to Dachau and back).

    We did Europe on the cheap by eating out of the grocery stores and markets, staying with AirBNB hosts, and using cheap-o airlines (this meant only one backpack for each of us). We tried to stay in a hostel in Munich, but they were booked and only had ridiculously expensive rooms. Instead, we opted for a pension (Pension Lindner). We didn’t spend much time in Munich, just enough to visit the Hofbrauhaus and do a 1/2 day Rick Steves walking tour.

    In Germany, we rented a car to get around Bavaria (we stayed with friends). We hiked around Neuschwanstein, but didn’t pay the ridiculous ticket prices. The view from Marienbruke is what you want anyways. Oh, and don’t accidentally park in Fussen. Park in Hohenschwangau. It is over and hour walk in between (we thought we were going to die) and costs more to park in Fussen (free in Hohenschwangau).

    Good luck with your travels! Planning them is half the fun!

  6. Mie says:

    I went to Munich last summer, it was my first out of the country trip and it was great! The people are so nice and most speak English in Munich. We stayed at a Westin away from the center because it was cheaper. Their metro system is great and mostly clean. You have to visit Marienplatz and see the glockenspiel, there is a show at 11am and 5pm. Take the doubledecker bus tour with Sightseeing Munich on your first days because it will give you an idea of places you want to visit. Visit the Hofbrauhaus beer garden, a little touristy but FUN. Drink Radlers, beer and lemonade-it’s better than the water and it’s refreshing if it’s really hot. Mike’s Bike Tours is a fun way to see the city and the best company to do the tour to see the Neuschwanstein Castle (Sleeping Beauty castle), it’s a day trip but it’s worth it. The Dachau Concentration Camp tour is a must if you love history. It’s incredibly upsetting but also very thought provoking, you can get there by train and taking a bus from the train stop. If you need an English menu, it is hard to get authentic food, I realized that it’s a smaller menu a few days into our trip. Download an app called Word Lens, you scan it over something in German and it will try to translate to English, sometimes it’s not exactly right but it will give you a good idea.
    Have a great time! I want to go back one day!

    • Hannah says:

      Thanks for all those tips-especially the ap! I need that. And I have been taking more notes then usual when my German class hit the food unit… Priorities!

  7. Sarah S. says:

    Ahh I’m going to send you an email with some advice about Munich/Bavaria. My fiance spent 8 months living in Munich and that’s actually where we started dating. You are going to LOVE Salzburg so much. Do you know when you’re going to be in Munich? I have a feeling we could end up in Munich at the same time, since we will be passing through on our honeymoon. And, I know my fiance’s Munich friends are organizing a bit of a fete at a Biergarten (I think it might be May 26th, which may be while you’re still in France.. but anywho…) The more, the merrier!

    Cinque Terra is also very beautiful, and I’ve been hearing great things about Torino too. I rode the train from Milan to Paris (via Torino/Lyon) and it was lovely. The rail passes are kind of expensive, but if you don’t have a car, they certainly make things easier. Essentially you pay a bunch of money up front and then the actual train tickets are very cheap. I had a good experience with mine, since I did not have a 12-25 card in France in the summer of 2013. I just had the France/Italy pass and used it mostly on French SNCF tickets.

    While I was a bit disappointed that you couldn’t come up to photograph our wee wedding, it sounds like you have some pretty fun stuff to do 🙂

    • Hannah says:

      I am so sad to miss your wedding…. but Europe! : ) And please email with all the best Munich deets! And by that I mean pretty and tasty things.

  8. streckerme says:

    so one would think i’d be lots of help here, but all my visits to munich have been pretty blah. so i’m just going to say, hofbrauhaus. haha! but i’m sure you already knew that. yay i’m so excited for you!!! EUROPE! 🙂

    • Lisa says:

      Yes, Hofbräuhaus! 🙂 It’s most fun if you happen to meet a local or two that are bringing their tourist friends to see it.

    • Hannah says:

      I hope ours isn’t blah! ; ) We actually picked Munich partially because of all the possible day trips, so we will only really spend maybe 1.5 full days in the city.

  9. Lisa says:

    What wonderful, exciting travel news!

    I spent a few days in Munich during my college days. We took the train from Switzerland and then also went by train from Munich to Rome. I don’t know what all the pass options are now, but we found it very worthwhile to have a more expensive & flexible pass. Because we were young we just found hostels as we went. It was not glamorous, but it was cheap! We took one of the guided walking yours in Munich our first day. I loved it because it have a nice historical overview and helped us figure out which places we might want to go back and spend more time at. We also met up with a guide and went to visit Dachau. Very sad but VERY worthwhile.

    Feel free to email me if you have questions about the above or have any yearning to visit Switzerland. Happy travels!

  10. Kirsten says:

    When I studied abroad, one of the girls in my cohort bought a pass for three months and used it everywhere (even to Greece). However, in Germany, there are regional passes that are purchased per day for regional trains only and include buses and trams (i.e. Munich, in Bavaria, is 28 Euros for two people:
    There is also a Twin 5 Consecutive Days pass for 253 Euros for two people: (;jsessionid=Yq6kAJhA071UZjVEbGNUDOw_HTimrveoTLcVoznuR81NjhQP2VZ2!-1823313716?shopId=96233a&lang=en&country=overseas), and a five day promo (a few extra perks for 260:;jsessionid=Yq6kAJhA071UZjVEbGNUDOw_HTimrveoTLcVoznuR81NjhQP2VZ2!-1823313716?shopId=96233a&lang=en&country=overseas). The consecutive passes will also take you to other cities in neighboring countries (Salzburg, and more). You can also purchases a one day pass for two for all of Germany (regional trains) and it will cost 52 Euros: ( So, for Germany, it really depends on how much Freedom you want and if the other places are appealing. If you find yourself mostly wanting to stay in Bavaria, the individual day passes (28 Euros) will be most cost efficient (you will have to take regional trains which are slower, but not bad at all!).
    Here is a full description of the Rail Pass:
    I can’t find information about Salzburg being included in the Bavaria day pass…but if it’s not, tickets shouldn’t be too much. Book in advance, but first try and contact someone to learn if Salzburg is included.
    Places to stay: In Salzburg we stayed in a cute little hostel called Stadt Alm ( varied), the view was AMAZING! It is located on top of the cliff overlooking Salzburg. The sunrise is breathtaking. Cost is 20,50 Euros a night per person, including breakfast.
    I recommend climbing a lot of stairs and a long hill to get to the Fortress. It is my favorite! The view at night, especially, is spectacular. (Another favorite fortress/castle I visited is the Heidlberg). When we went exploring, we found (what we thought was) a monstary. The next day we returned and discovered we’d actually stumbled upon the convent (still used) from The Sound of Music).
    Here is a link to a (very long) blog I wrote about some of my travels in Germany/Austria/Italy if you want to skim it for pics and more details:
    I’m SO excited about your upcoming European visit! It sounds like it will be amazing (and I feel certain it will be)!

  11. Kirsten says:

    Also, I recommend visiting Regensburg. It’s about 1.5 hours NE of Munich. A Roman walled city, beautiful, historical, the Danube runs right through it, great gelato, bratwurst, and Walhalla is a boat ride up the river. There is an excellent hostel on and island in the Danube (the building is a former SS headquarters, the staf is phenomenal, and I lived there for the better part of three months).

  12. Jason Custer says:

    I have yet to visit any of those places, but I would definitely recommend using airBnB. It’s pretty cheap, and gives you the double benefit of staying in a more local area instead of touristy hotels and having a local contact who can give you insider tips nearby. Every airBnB experience I’ve had in Europe has been great. It lets you save money by cooking at home for meals as well. Also, trains are a great way to get around, but don’t rule out renting a car in Munich for day trips. Renting is surprisingly easy, and driving on the autobahn is always an enjoyable (and fast) experience and would be nice for day trips. I didn’t have much trouble following signs and traffic while there (just be prepared to drive a stick shift). If you enjoy church architecture, then I’d suggest visiting Duomo di Milano for sure, and you’re only a 1.5 hour drive from Ulmer Munster in Germany (tallest cathedral in the world). If you can make a choral mass or sung prayer service at either cathedral that is my favorite time to visit – and you never have to pay entrance fees to attend services.

  13. Susan Snell says:

    Manuel’s Guest House in Monterosso, Cinque Terre! We stayed there 3 years ago. Loved it and would definitely stay there again.

  14. Katherine A says:

    I don’t know about rail passes, because someone else took care of train tickets, but taking a train through the alps would be stunning. I’ve taken a train from Geneva to Paris, and it was so lovely and relaxing. Not a fan of over night trains, though. I always find plane travel more stressful and tiring than train travel. And you do not want to drive through the alps, in case you were considering it. My student group takes a bus, which is great, but only because I can look away or close my eyes while going over really really tall, long, isolated bridges. And you should visit the archaeological dig below the Milan cathedral if you have time. You get to see the baptistry that Augustine of Hippo was most likely baptized in. So cool!

  15. Mark Perkins says:

    Munich was where I did language school for five weeks. It’s fantastic and beautiful.

    I lived about a five minute walk from Schloss Nymphenburg, which was where the Dukes of Bavaria lived. It’s beautiful.

    There’s tons of tourist stuff to do everywhere, but I mostly loved the kind of generic every day stuff. Go out to a castle in the countryside. Go to some small biergarten (Hofbrau is fun, but I like the smaller ones)…

    And this is probably too far, but if you got a regional day pass on the rail and got up to Bamberg and see all the churches and drink some Rauchbier–that’s my favorite town. It’s incredible.

    The Perkins are jealous and excited for y’all!

  16. Amanda says:

    I love your blog, but I never comment. But you’re going to Cinque Terre, and I’m so excited that I had to comment!

    We stayed at NiRia in Volastra, which is a tiny village a short bus ride from the main train stations in the five bigger towns. The owner was absolutely lovely, and she made the quaint hotel even more enjoyable. She made us delicious homemade pastries for breakfast (and even got up at 4am to do so when we had to leave early), and they drove us down to the train station when the buses weren’t running yet. The views are absolutely breath-taking, and the rooms are nice, too (though we spent most of our time outside!).

    We hiked from Volastra to Corneglia to Venezza. It was a beautiful hike, and took us about 3 hours. We ate some wonderful pesto lasagna in Venezza (this area is famous for pesto, so eat it as often as you can!) and panna cotta (and some gelato, because you’re in Italy and you should eat gelato at least twice a day) and enjoyed the beautiful buildings and views. We also explored Manarola, which was cute as well. Really, all of Cinque Terre is so beautiful and I just can’t even say enough good things about it.

    I can’t wait to see pictures! I’m so exited that you’re going to a place that I love so much.

  17. Danielle says:

    I have absolutely no advice about your crazy cool adventures in Italy and Germany, but I wanted to say that I will be studying abroad June to August in Normandy through the “Chez Vous” program. What city will you be in?? Also, I love reading about your own experiences in Paris on your old blog. It makes me dream big 🙂

  18. Take a train through the Alps. I was told it was a waste of time and did it anyway. It was so beautiful I just sat and cried for a while.

  19. Wini says:

    How exciting! How comforting that God knows the “secret desires of our heart.” (Ugh, that verse gets so overused, but I’ll pretend it’s okay here…) I’ve never been to Cinque Terre (someday!) and it has been over 10 years since I’ve been to Munich so I don’t think my information is any good. However, it looks like you’re in good hands!

  20. Dawn says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip. Here’s my two cents worth on Cinque Terre. IF you like seafood I would highly recommend this place in Monterosso. Of course, they also serve Ligurian pesto pasta which is delectable.
    Sorry – no donuts or bagels that I am aware of!

    Ristorante Belvedere Di Santina Moggia E C.Snc
    Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, 38
    19016 Monterosso Al Mare SP

  21. Kate says:

    Gah Cinqua Terre! wonderful. obviously you have to walk the trail between the five towns and eat gelato in every single one… ice cream per days is not allowed a limit in Italy. take lots of pictures! can’t wait to see!

  22. Carrie Ann says:

    In Munich, I stayed at a Bed and Breakfast and the hosts were fantastic. (

    I used Rick Steve’s guidebooks (courtesy of my local library) to plan my whole trip. I loved staying in the bed and breakfasts that he had recommended. Also, find his FREE audioguides/audiotours on iTunes before you leave. I saved so much money using his free ones instead of paying extra for an audio guide at all the museums and historic sites.

  23. Debbie says:

    Hi Hannah! I’ve never commented on your blog before but I’ve been reading it for the past year or so and think its so great! I’m a junior in college and actually studying abroad in Paris right now (une rêve qui se réalise, bien sûr!) and will be staying there for the whole summer. I love that your blog is so real and honest but so fun – especially today in a society where social media makes us want to present our lives in a certain way.

    But anyways… I’ve been to Munich and its a beautiful city!! As others have said, the Rick Steve’s guidebook is everything haha and definitely go see the glockenspiel. We also happened to be there during the last European Cup a couple years ago and one night watched a match at an outdoor biergarten in the city and it was the most fun evenings just being with all the locals and watching soccer together!

    If you want to commit to a big day trip, the Neuschwanstein Castle is a couple hours away from Munich by car and it is definitely worth the trip. Not far from it is the Hohenshwangau Castle, also amazing.

    Also Salzberg is wonderful! The house where Mozart was born is there and is now a museum and that was really cool to explore. There’s a lot of biking tours of the city – we never got a chance to do one unfortunately, but really wanted to because it looked like fun. Also the Sound of Music gazebo is still there at the Hellbrunn castle.

    Hope you have a blast during all of your European adventures!!! 🙂

  24. Nicole says:

    OH BOY. Sooo exciting! Salzburg: you must go to Demel’s for the most fabulous pastry experience. Hike up to the castle/fort. Wander the picturesque streets.

    Munich: the outdoor flower/fruit market near Marienplatz. Watch the Glockenspiel. Visit St. Peter’s church and climb the bell tower for amazing city views.

    Cinque: gosh, it’s been YEARS since I was there as a child, but it’s everything it seems to be!! The boat rides between the islands are particularly fun! And whoever mentioned pesto is right: it is out of this world in CT.

    As far as training, it can be expensive if you’re only there for a short stay. You really won’t miss out on scenery by not training through. (It does take FORever. I fee like I spent half my semester abroad in Austria on TRAINS).
    Cannot wait to see all your photos!!

  25. Nicole says:

    I also third or fourth both Air BnB (we used it for Rome) AND Rick Steves. He’s a legend in my family, hahaha.

  26. Hi Hannah! I haven’t commented on your blog before either, but thank you so much for taking time to post! So thought-provoking, and meaningful, and real.

    My first overseas experience was when I was 9 years old with my grandparents and my brother. We went to Austria and the Ukraine, and from my limited memories of Austria, I know that we were in Salzberg, and I enjoyed it immensely. I stood next to the Sound of Music gazebo (so exciting!!) and we went to one of the salt mines. That was really neat…it was a museum tour-like experience, and there were these chutes that you slid down to get to another level in the mine. I think we got to keep some of the salt from the mine, and learned a lot from the tour. It might be worth looking into! 🙂 I know we did other things, but that’s all I can remember at the present moment. Have a FANTASTIC time!!! How special.

  27. Randi. says:

    If you can make it work, TAKE A TRAIN THROUGH THE ALPS. Just make sure you book it so that you’re training during the day, and not once the sun sets (obviously). I sat and cried and stared out the window, heart bursting with gratitude for the chance to see something so beautiful. And that is not a joke. Haha

    Also, Cinque Terre! Yay!! I’ve done a moderate amount of backpacking in Europe, and those 5 cities continue to be some of my most sacred experiences. We stayed in a studio apartment, right on the edge of the water – one of those windows you see 2 or 3 floors up – with a tiny balcony that jutted out toward the ocean. I had a moment on that balcony that changed my life! It’s just SO beautiful. And to reiterate what everyone else is saying, PESTO ON EVERYTHING. It is made, literally, down the road. As fresh as you can get. And drink the local wine. Not only is it wonderful, but after hiking through the vineyards during the day, it would be a crime not to.

    So excited to hear about your trip!! Here’s to new places, and familiar foreign cities, and sweeping majestic landscapes, and using newly learned languages! A grand adventure!! Cheers!

  28. r_strick says:

    If you can make it work, TAKE A TRAIN THROUGH THE ALPS. Just make sure you book it so that you’re training during the day, and not once the sun sets (obviously). I sat and cried and stared out the window, heart bursting with gratitude for the chance to see something so beautiful. And that is not a joke. Haha

    Also, Cinque Terre! Yay!! I’ve done a moderate amount of backpacking in Europe, and those 5 cities continue to be some of my most sacred experiences. We stayed in a studio apartment, right on the edge of the water – one of those windows you see 2 or 3 floors up – with a tiny balcony that jutted out toward the ocean. I had a moment on that balcony that changed my life! It’s just SO beautiful. And to reiterate what everyone else is saying, PESTO ON EVERYTHING. It is made, literally, down the road. As fresh as you can get. And drink the local wine. Not only is it wonderful, but after hiking through the vineyards during the day, it would be a crime not to.

    So excited to hear about your trip!! Here’s to new places, and familiar foreign cities, and sweeping majestic landscapes, and using newly learned languages! A grand adventure!! Cheers!

  29. Pingback: Cinque Terre | The Art in Life

  30. Arma says:

    Ce n’est pas la calabre mais les 5 terre

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