We live in a world where moments are dominated by cameras. Almost every human is a photographer and a potential journalist, having the ability to capture anything with the phone in their pockets. More than ever, our planet is predominantly seen through pictures; we scan Pinterest for travel inspiration, scroll instagram for the best shots of the most magical places and watch youtube videos of people’s perfect globe-trotting adventures. But what about what we don’t see?
When I started blogging, I had been traveling Europe for nearly 3 years. While most bloggers take vacations with their blog in mind, I had to create all of my content from what I had already done, not knowing at the time that I’d be blogging about it someday. Because of that, there are a lot of moments and memories that weren’t captured in a picture. Here’s what you haven’t seen through my lens:
Getting Treated Like Royalty at Le Mirador Kempinski in Chardonne, Switzerland
One of the first trips we took while living in Germany was a 5 hour drive away in the Swiss Alps. I read about this resort, Le Mirador Kempenski, on Pinterest before we moved to Europe and my husband booked it as a surprise for our anniversary. Little did I know how incredibly expensive it was, like $500 a night kind of expensive. After a drive down a one-lane road on the tippy top of the mountain, we arrive to this hotel with a magnificent view of surrounding Lake Geneva.
Coming through the spinning door of the lobby, I instantly feel out of my element. The staff, dressed in their finest attire, ask us if we’d like a glass of champagne while we check in. Here we are, two 23 year olds from the midwest corn fields of Indiana, in our sweatpants and Nike hooded sweatshirts, just staring at these people like deers in headlights. I’m completely embarrassed by our attire, my hubs not giving a flying f whatsoever about what we look like. After we check in, they escort–yes, escort–us to our room and the guy gives us a tour of our magnificent suite, almost as if we were buying it, showing us everything from light switches to the espresso maker.
Each evening, a maid would come into our room and ‘turn down the bed.’ They literally would put a rug and some slippers out next to our bed, fluff our pillow and pull back our sheets–insert amazed face here. They would also leave us a breakfast menu with tons of options, and deliver it to our room each morning. Le Mirador Kempenski was the most expensive place we’ve ever stayed but it was probably one of the only times I’ll get to feel like I was living like royalty. And those views!
Walking 6 Miles One Way to the Piraeus Port in Athens
I know it’s hard to follow up the last memory with the claim that I’m the ultimate budgeteer, but it really is the case! We do sometimes make exceptions to the budget when traveling but when we went to Greece, our bank account was hacked into the day we were departing. We were left with little to no money for the entire Greece trip so we were living pretty modestly, having trouble deciding between wine with dinner or a taxi to get us somewhere. You can probably guess what I opted for.
In the middle of our holiday, we fly to Athens from Crete in the early morning and catch a train to the Acropolis.
We explore around this area for a couple of hours and decide we need to head towards the Piraeus port to catch our ferry to Paros Island. I ask my husband if he thinks we’re capable of walking, unsure of how far it really was, and he says that we can make it. So here we go, at end of August in 110° temps with the sun blaring down, walking towards the port, lugging our bags along with us. After miles and miles and miles of walking, I ask my hubs how much longer: “Oh, about 3 miles.” THREE MILES?!
Ages later, we finally make it to the port with a little time to spare. We spot a restaurant and immediately snag something to drink to combat the heat exhaustion. My clothes were soaked from sweating so badly and I had blisters on my feet from walking so much.
The things I do to save money.
Getting Lost in the Middle of the Bavarian Alps in Southern Germany
Planning a visit to the Bavaria region in southern Germany, we booked a hotel in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, about a 5 hour drive away from where we lived. My hubs gets off work on a Friday evening and, after we’re on the road for about 3-4 hours, we’re met with a detour. Frantically, we try searching for a new route on the Garmin but it can’t find any satellite connection. We pull up Google Maps on our phones but we have no service. It’s completely pitch dark outside with snow blowing so hard that we can’t see 5 feet in front of the car, and we’re in the middle of nowhere high up in the Bavarian Alps. Somehow we find ourselves on a random desolate road, away from all sorts of civilization, swearing we haven’t seen another car in hours. At one point, my hubs pulls over in a turnout to park so he could relieve himself (we’d been looking for a gas station/restroom FOREVER). I go ahead and step out too, trying to get a grasp of where we’re at. Our eyes start to adjust to the darkness and right in front of us is a stunning snow-covered lake at the base of the Alps, a true winter wonderland. We’re in awe about how we could drive for so long, not seeing a soul, and somehow be in front of such an incredible sight. We don’t have a clue where we were that night, and we’ll probably never see that place again, but it definitely gave us the motivation we needed to get to where we were going. We arrived at our hotel safely and enjoyed this stunning view from our bedside.
Basking in Amsterdam’s Greatest Pleasures
Amsterdam is life. No, really. I absolutely love everything about that city, but then again, who doesn’t? I’ve been there too many times to count and have never had a disappointing visit. I’ve watched my favorite band from the front row at the Heineken Music Center; I’ve walked the narrow alleyways next to the canals in the middle of summer, sweating my butt off; I’ve cheersed to friends on the rooftop of the Heineken Brewery; I’ve crawled all over the famous Amsterdam sign; I’ve frequented the same coffeeshop every visit I made, making friends with the owners who called me ‘The American Girl;’ I’ve wandered the Red Light district in the middle of the night, watching shameless men go in and out of brothels; I’ve sat at a cafe in the Dam Square in the middle of winter, so cold that I ran to H&M a couple of blocks down to buy a scarf and gloves.
The very first time I went to Amsterdam, I went into the first cafe that I stumbled upon. This place had the BEST cappuccino. I know, how can a cappuccino be any different but trust me, this one is out of this world. So, I get my cuppa and head down into the sitting room and all the sudden this random cat starts jumping all over me. What, a cat? Come to find out, this is Cocoa, the cafe kitty, and we remained friends while I visited over the next 3 years.After I discovered this cat, I was feeling so happy. Like tell me where you can go in the states and drink the best cappuccino at a cafe and be able to pet a cat at the same time? I was already hooked on Amsterdam.
This first visit was perfect timing because the carnival was in town! Luckily, it was a week night so it wasn’t that busy and we walked around and around all night, playing games and grabbing random goodies. I’ll admit, I ordered about 3 or 4 of these chocolate covered strawberries in a span of about 2 hours.
Getting Mean-Mugged by an Alpaca in Interlaken
We went to Interlaken, Switzerland to do some canyoning and stayed at the cutest AirBnb that backed right up to a field. If you’ve never been to Interlaken, #1: I HIGHLY recommend it. The town is absolutely beautiful & is THE place for outdoor activities. #2: The entire Interlaken area is like a big piece of magical farmland. Well, maybe it’s magical to me because I’m from farmland USA in the midwest, but aside from the monstrous Alps, I felt right at home here.
We go exploring one evening before heading up town to the local Irish Pub for dinner and drinks, and stumble upon some cows. We walk right up to them as they eat their grass and lazily plop themselves on the ground.
As we walk a little more, getting closer to the mountains, perked up on the top of this hill is this alpaca, mean-mugging the hell out of us. I can’t stop giggling because every step we take, he won’t take his eyes off of us and I’ll admit, he looks pretty intimidating. Pretty sure he was warning us to get off his property but nonetheless, I captured one favorite pictures ever from traveling.
Although there are a million more things you haven’t seen through my lens, this post is getting pretty lengthy. The amount of experiences and stories I have from traveling could probably keep us occupied in conversation for days! I hope to someday be able to share every single one of them with you all.
Until next time dears!