Spain, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, and Germany
A “bucket list” wish of mine was to spend a couple of months in Europe. The last two years we’ve managed 6 weeks at a time, but – hard to believe but true! – we STILL had too little time. 8 weeks sounded perfect, especially since we planned on flying into one country and out another using Business Class award miles.
For this trip the original idea was to get Business Class award travel on American Airlines to Budapest – starting travel somewhere around the middle of April 2015. For AA awards availability opens up 331 days in advance, for United 336 days. Started checking while we were in NW Spain – nothing. Checked for award travel to airports all around central Europe. Nothing reasonable. So… pretty easy to get award travel from San Diego to Madrid, and there are low cost flights to all over from Madrid – Booked! A couple of months later I booked Business Class award travel on American Airlines (US Air) out of Frankfurt back to San Diego, with a plane change in Philadelphia.
Filling in the itinerary
Now what? With starting and ending dates and cities, the next step is figuring out where to go. The goal was to NOT go crazy and that means long stays in beautiful comfortable apartments in cities for a week at a time, with country breaks and some moving around of no less than 2-3 nights. No one night stands. We ended up in 13 different accommodations in 8 weeks…not bad!
We love Madrid and what better way to get over the 9 hours time difference than a week in that vibrant city? Our last visit was only 2 nights in 2013, this trip we’ll have plenty of time for walking and exploring and yes EATING – seeking out the Basque style pintxos in every quarter of the city. What about getting to Budapest? RyanAir (the world’s most hated airline!) flys cheaply from Madrid to Budapest in 3.25 hours. Read Story >>
19 Nights in Hungary
How many nights for Hungary? Sometimes you have to plan the end of the trip first – we could have spent much longer in Hungary but we needed enough weeks for Austria and Bavaria, and enough long stays to make sure we had plenty of time to relax in one place.
Budapest is the hub in Hungary and we ended up staying twice with a car rental and country break in between before catching a high speed train to Vienna. Read Story >>
Our 8 night country break started in Eger, a pretty town about 1.5 hours from Budapest. Read Story >>
Continuing our country break, we spent 2 nights in Tarcal at a spa hotel with an excursion into the Hungarian countryside. Read Story >>
Our next country break destination was Tiszafüred and another spa hotel with an excursion to the Hortobágy National Park. Read Story >>
9 Nights – 7 in Vienna and 2 in Krems
Week long stays in cities were a big part of the plan this year – if the weather is bad there’s plenty to do! Our first visit to Vienna was in 2013 and I knew I’d return, it’s a beautiful city. After a week we picked up a rental car and drove up to Krems to spend a couple of nights in the Wachau Valley to see the famous Melk Abbey and sights up one side of the Danube and down the other.
I was looking forward to doing things we didn’t have time for on the last visit – relaxing in some of the grand cafés, visiting new-to-us museums and sights, and taking long self-guided walks to explore different parts of this beautiful city. Read Story >>
I’d checked into visiting the famous Melk Abbey by train from Vienna back in 2013, but it was too much for our short 6 night visit that year. This trip we had a car and 2 nights in Krems as a base for seeing some sights in the Wachau Valley. Read Story >>
Český Krumlov is a famous medieval Baroque town and kind of a hassle to get to if you don’t have a car. A nice drive from Krems through the Kamp Valley with a couple of sightseeing stops. Despite the crowds of pushy tour groups it was a charming place to visit. Read Story >>
Back to Austria
Most people don’t spend a week in Salzburg, but with a fabulous apartment and parking for 9€ per day, Salzburg was a great base for sights up and down the Salzach Valley. With only a week we didn’t have nearly enough time for the area. The drive from Český Krumlov is about 2.5 hours, we dropped off our ridiculously expensive Austrian rental car and 2 days later picked up another car in Freilassing, a city in Germany across the border from Salzburg. We had this car for 2 weeks, returning it at the end of our trip at the Frankfurt airport. Read More >>
Castles, castles, castles! The first stop out of Salzburg was Herrenchiemsee New Palace on the way to Fussen. Fussen is a great location for seeing the most famous of King Ludwig’s castles – Neuschwanstein. With a comfortable charming apartment it made a terrific base for 6 nights before moving north to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and finally Würzburg. Read More >>
4 Nights in Franconia
Rothenburg and Würzburg are in Bavaria, but oh no don’t say that to them! The people are proudly Franconian. Our last 4 nights in Germany were 2 in Rothenburg and 2 in Würzburg, both terrific stays even if they were only 2 nights each.
I was braced for selfie stick toting pushy tour groups but – surprise! – it wasn’t like that. In fact, it was very relaxing. Read More >>
Fascinating history and a lively scene, our last two nights of our 8 week trip had a perfect finish in Würzburg.Read More >>
8 weeks trip Summary
How did it go? Was 8 weeks too long? Were we going crazy? NO! The long stays gave us plenty of time to relax, 8 of our 13 accommodations were apartments, and we had plenty of days off from driving.
What do you take on an 8 week multi-country trip?
We anticipated a rainy kind of trip and started with our packing list from our Portugal/NW Spain/Paris trip last year, and sure enough those waterproof hiking boots came in handy as did the shorts at the end of the trip.