Back in August I embarked on an 11-day trip around Europe with 3 very good friends that I grew up with and our significant others. To get 8 people together for an overseas vacation and to agree on the places to visit, was no small feat, and thankfully we all had a wonderful time. We made stops in Germany, Spain and Ireland and no trip would be complete without me sharing the highlights with all of you, so here you go!
We spent three nights in the Sendlinger Tor area and went on a lot of adventures in Germany. Obviously, we hit up a lot of the big beer gardens and halls in town, but we managed to see some really beautiful parks, architecture and culture, as well. Our first full day we went on a bike tour with Mike's Bikes (I highly recommend!) and spent 5 hours biking around the city, making stops to hear about the significance of many of the buildings, learning about some of the rich history of Munich and of course taking in a biergarten for lunch and a liter. Having only two full days in Munich, there's no other way we would've been able to cover as much ground as we did on the bike tour. At night, we traveled to the Olympic grounds for Sommerfest, a festival that occurs during the month of August, which was similar to a large carnival. There were rides, over 50 foods vendors, live music and even fireworks - it was a great way to spend the evening. Getting to walk around the Olympic grounds and tour the BMW Museum, which is adjacent to the grounds, was a plus.
Our next stop was another Olympic city. Barcelona came with a welcome temperature change (warm and sunny) and a beautiful beach, which we spent the better part of an afternoon enjoying. Barcelona is a unique city in that the downtown area is steps away from the beach and with it probably hundreds of beach bars and restaurants. While the sangria was amazing in this city, the beach bars also make a mean mojito. In Barcelona, we signed up for a 2-day hop on/hop off tour bus which came with an audio tour. This was a great way to see a lot of the city in only two days. Tapas, or small plates, are very popular in Spain, so most of our meals consisted of sharing many small plates and an order of paella, a delicious rice and seafood dish. We also spent some time popping in and out of some very unique bars in Barcelona, one of our favorites being the Dow Jones Bar, where drink prices go up as they are ordered which pushes the prices of others down. If you hear sirens, get to the bar, the market has crashed and drink prices are way down! iSalud!
After a few days of fun in the sun we hopped on a plane to Ireland, where the weather was similar to what we experienced in Germany, cool and sometimes rainy. We spent two nights in Galway at the G Hotel (I highly recommend this 5-star hotel - we got a great deal on Hotwire.com) and spent the days walking around this beautiful city. We unfortunately didn't have time to get to the Cliffs of Moher, but Danielle documented her time there in a post about her trip to Ireland last year - so be sure to check that out! We took long walks along the water and marinas, did some shopping and took in some traditional Irish music and dancing.
Next we took the Irish Rail over to Dublin. We ended up in Dublin the same weekend that Penn State was playing a football game against UCF, so we shared the city with about 25,000 American football fans. The fanfare was amazing to see, but since we weren't there for the game, we spent much of the time looking for outskirts of the city where we could get a more authentic experience. If you don't happen to overlap with an American sporting event (which I would imagine is extremely unlikely) the area of Temple Bar is a great place to visit some pubs and do some souvenir shopping. We walked to the Guinness Storehouse to take the tour and visit the elevation bar (with 360 degree view of the city), which was amazing. My husband is very into beer, so we've been on a lot of brewery tours, but this one tops the list. It's amazing to learn how much Guinness has influenced the city of Dublin and the entire country of Ireland for the last 255 years. My favorite part of Dublin was the area of Dawson Street. Here you'll find upscale shopping and plenty of nice restaurants and bars. We stopped into Peruke & Periwig for a very unique cocktail, the smallest pub in Dublin, The Dawson Lounge, for a pint, and Kehoe's for some live music.
We all had an amazing time on this European adventure. Looking back, I do wish we could have spent more time in a few of the cities. If I did it again I may pick one country and explore more so I could really be immersed in the culture, language, foods, etc. Have you traveled to any of these cities? List your recommendations in the comments!