Roadtripping Through Austria & Germany!


Hello world! It’s certainly been a long time! I have been busy with a promotion at work (#bosslady), traveling, and life! But I wanted to take the time to share some adventures I’ve had since I last posted.  I have had some truly incredible journeys!

In this post, I’ll be highlighting my experience road tripping through Austria and Germany.  It was such an amazing time! So let’s begin with some context and details.

I decided to do a whirlwind self-guided tour of Switzerland, Austria, and Germany in a week’s time.  To maximize my ability to travel freely and flexibly, I rented a car in Switzerland and drove it through Austria and Germany and then back – BEST IDEA EVER!  Renting a car gave me the real freedom to explore tiny mountain towns, abandoned castle ruins, and the alps on my own.  I obtained an International Driving Permit here in the United States first to ensure that I would be legally able to drive in all of the countries I wanted to on my trip (it was inexpensive to do so and easy to get one through AAA!). After landing in Zürich, Switzerland (remember when I did one of my “Wanderlust Wednesday” posts about Zürich?? It came true!) and spending a day and night there, I then rented a car from the airport.  I had booked it in advance so it was ready and waiting for me!

Getting into the car to begin driving toward Austria was a semi-terrifying moment.  Will I be able to read the road signs? Will I know what the signs mean? Will people drive differently here? Will I be able to navigate okay? I had indeed brought along roadmaps with me and made sure to study up on the road signage and driving laws in Europe first, but this was the moment of truth.  The biggest lifesaver EVER was the wonderful app that I was able to use offline (I did not use my cellphone unless there was wifi somewhere).  I was easily able to follow along with the map on the screen. So off the Austria I headed!

Driving in Austria requires having a vignette or “driving sticker” in your car windshield.  Tourists get nailed by the police all the time for not having them, so I made sure to stop and get one at a gas station right before crossing over the Austrian border from Switzerland.

I spent three days driving through Austria and Germany, stopping for two nights around Füssen, Germany and then heading back to Switzerland.  The sightseeing was absolutely incredible and the freedom to just stop and explore or check something out was great! Much of the scenery looked like it was straight out of “The Sound of Music” (I may or may not have pulled the car over on occasion to get out and run up the side of a hill while singing, lol).  It was so breathtakingly beautiful.  Below are some the photos I took while sitting passenger seat in the car and at some the places I stopped!

This was the first morning I had the car! I enjoyed a fresh poppyseed roll for breakfast, “fangirled” over seeing a sign for the Grand Tour (always wanted to drive it myself and am also in love with the show!), and snagged a picture of the border crossing heading into Austria!

Austria was absolutely gorgeous.  I spent most of the time admiring the scenery before quickly realizing I was already approaching the border of Germany! On a tiny, rural backroad, I entered into Germany as noted by a small sign and then stumbled across these old castle ruins.  One reason why I love using is because it lets you know if you’re coming upon something historical and notable, so I was able to quickly pull off the find these ruins!


No road trip is complete without snacks! I discovered the delicious wonders of Mezzo Mix (why is this not a thing in the States?) and stocked up on Kinder eggs and goodies!!

After spending a couple days in Germany, I started the drive back to Switzerland.  I had always seen pictures of the super-blue creeks and rivers there, but OH MAN was it even prettier than I had imagined! In Austria, I stopped at a park to admire this river and take in the towering Alps ahead – mountains that I would soon be driving into!


This may be something weird to ogle over, but I was most impressed with the road designs through the Austrian Alps.  This is an example of how they build “semi-tunnels” through some of the mountainsides, which serve two purposes – it’s easier to drive through a mountain than to drive over one and it helps keep snow and water off the roads.  Notice the overhang on the side – when the snow melts, it goes right over the edge of the road instead of melting onto the road and getting it wet, where it might freeze over and become slippery for cars.  As someone who grew up in the snowy mountains of the northeast US, I can greatly appreciate this engineering ingenuity.

The last few pictures I’d like to share are of driving through and atop the actual Alps themselves. This was an experience unlike any other, and I am so thankful that my little rental car was able to handle it (although the elevation did mess with the tire pressure).  Rather than take a highway back to Switzerland, I decided that a road through the Alps would be more fun.  And IT WAS!! It was SO picturesque and scenic – words cannot describe it.  The roads were thin and winding through the mountains and a large part of the drive through the Alps was rather harrowing, but it was incredible.  At one point, I was so high up that the road was still closed from the winter snow so I had to stop the car and turn back around – but not without getting some pictures first! I was at about 14,000 feet up in elevation.  I really admired the buses full of skiers that were able to easily drive up and down the mountainsides all day!

All in all, driving on the Autobahn, through the Austrian Alps, and past gorgeous scenery and little mountain towns was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.  In a way, it breathed new life into me.  Of course, I have other photos and stories of the actual places I went to on this road trip, but I wanted to first share the experience of driving around.  If you ever get the opportunity to do so, rent a car and explore!

More posts to come soon!  Happy travels!



Winter Woodland Walks

There’s nothing quite like going for a woodland stroll in the woods.  It feels and looks so magical! Last weekend, I visited a wonderful, small, western New Jersey town that gets all decorated for Christmas.  There’s an adorable main street lined with small shops and cafes and lots of nearby farms perfect for visiting for some homemade apple cider and live Christmas decor (pine wreaths, anyone!?). After spending the day wandering the cute little shops and sipping coffee and cider, I decided it was time to see what walking paths and parks were nearby.  Lo and behold, the Cooper Mill was just down the road.

The Cooper Mill was built in 1826 and is on the National Historic Register.  During the warmer months, there are tours and events at the mill.  On this particular day, it was snowing, the water in the mil had begun to freeze over, and it was extremely picturesque.







Happy Birthday, National Park Service!

The National Park Service celebrated its 100th birthday weekend back in August (yeah, I know, four months ago) and in honor of it, the park service opened all national parks for free! I am a huge park lover and outdoors enthusiast so I took advantage of the free admission and visited a couple of the parks over the weekend. It was my first time ever venturing out beyond Queens on Long Island, so there were lots of new things to see!

My adventure began with a bus ride into Manhattan and then a subway ride over into Long Island City to meet up with a couple friends who were also interested in visiting the national parks. After some delicious bagels from Bricktown Bagel, we hopped into a car and made our way out toward Sagamore Hill to visit Teddy Roosevelt’s house.


Sagamore Hill is up on the north side of Long Island in Oyster Bay. It’s roughly an hour and a half journey from Manhattan. We had a picnic lunch on the lawn of Teddy Roosevelt’s home and then enjoyed walking around inside. No photography is allowed inside the home, but a quick Google search for images of it reveal just how grandiose the interior design is. Trophies and evidence of Roosevelt’s love of big game hunting are on display throughout the entirety of the house – animal skin rugs in almost every room and large, taxidermy, trophy heads mounted on the walls. It is quite impressive! The coloring inside is dark and rich – dark wood paneling, richly colored paintings and carpets. In a way, the house is a perfect snapshot of a time in history, and not only because it’s a presidential home. It reflects that turn-of-the-century, golden travel era feeling; the home brings you back in time in a magical way.

Outside Teddy’s home are rocking chairs, a wrap around porch, walking paths, and a tall windmill. I didn’t stay long enough to check out the walking paths and nature trail, but it’s definitely on the list for next time!

After visiting the Roosevelt home, we headed into town for some Oyster Bay oysters and fish. With a delicious lunch in our bellies, we continued onward to Fire Island National Seashore.





Getting to Fire Island requires a boat ride across the bay. After disembarking on the island at Sailor’s Haven, our group headed into Sunken Forest preserve for a walk through the island’s lowlands, bogs, and eventually the beach. The bugs ate a couple of us alive while in the forested sections, but once out on the beach, we soaked up some sun and enjoyed the water with no care for how wet our clothes got (which is an incredibly liberating thing, actually).

As the evening winded down, we took the last ferry back to Sayville on Long Island and headed west back toward Manhattan, chasing the sunset. We stopped for some delicious cold cheese pizza (life-changer, guys) and all was well.



Luray Caverns, Virginia


The first time I ever went into an actual under-the-ground cave, I was about nine years old and living overseas with my family. I was absolutely fascinated by the inner workings of our earth.  Stalactites and stalagmites? Yes, please! So, when passing by Luray Caverns in Virginia while on a road trip recently, I took the opportunity to head below ground.


I first visited Luray Caverns when I was a child.  I remember being awed by the large underground rooms and the strange, damp smell that was everywhere.  On my most recent descent into the caverns, everything came right back to me – it’s so cool to revisit a place you haven’t been to in such a long time!

The tour guides are extremely knowledgeable and even have lots of great little puns and jokes to keep you plenty entertained while below the Earth’s surface. Luray Caverns have a few stand-out features including an underground musical instrument, “Pluto’s Ghost,” “fried eggs,” an underground lake, and a host of other unique cavern attractions.





There is just something almost magical about being below the ground and seeing the beauty that is inside the Earth. We work so hard to make gorgeous buildings and landscapes, but Earth does a pretty good job of that all on its own.

There are a host of other attractions at the caverns, too, including lots for kids and families. Upon ascending to the “outside world,” I was able to catch a picture of the mountains before the lower clouds rolled in. It’s a beautiful sight!


If you ever find yourself near Luray, Virginia, definitely take the time to see the caverns, there! It’s a sight worth seeing!!


Flying in a 1930 Biplane

Since dating the son of a pilot, my life has become much more steeped in aircraft, planes, and general aviation.  I have always liked planes – they’re pretty cool, after all, and a huge part of my travels! This past weekend, I had an incredible aviation experience unlike any other.  I was invited to come along on a photo shoot that focused on military veterans after their service.  The veterans participating in the shoot fly vintage biplanes from the 1930’s and 1940’s at the Bayport Aerodrome on Long Island, New York.  Needless to say, it was like aviation heaven!


The shots for the photo shoot required being in the air, naturally, and I was fortunate enough to score an open seat with one of the pilots going up.  I have never before been in a biplane and wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was positively one of the best experiences ever!  I enjoy “regular” commercial planes quite a bit but this biplane experience took my enjoyment and appreciation of airplanes to new heights (pun intended).

The photographers for the shoot and the pilots discussed formations and directions for what to do in the air – many of the planes do not have radios to communicate to each other, so knowing what to do ahead of time was crucial. Afterward, it was time to jump into the planes!  A wonderful gentleman offered to take me up in his beautiful green biplane from 1930 during the airborne photo shoot – I was very excited!  I sat in the front seat and he piloted from the rear seat. I donned a flying cap with headphones and a mic, and off we went toward the runway!

The runway itself was a grass strip.  The planes all lined up for takeoff and, before I knew it, it was my turn to head down the runway! The propeller spun furiously and we quickly gained speed before finally lifting off the ground.  It was such a bizarre yet incredible sensation! For a few minutes, I had that feeling you get while free falling on a roller coaster – I kept waiting for gravity to kick in and to feel some sort of steadiness or balance (like you do on a large commercial plane), but it never came.  Instead, I quickly adjusted to the bouncing of the small craft and the wonderful experience of truly feeling like I was flying (compared to a larger, commercial plane where you know you are flying but you don’t necessarily feel it). The whole time while in the air, I couldn’t stop smiling.

We flew out over Long Island and then over the water toward Fire Island.  The planes circled the lighthouse on the island a couple times for the photos and then my pilot flew me out over the beach, did some quick turns, and was able to really show me what the plane could do!  It was pretty windy up there, especially since the cockpits are open-topped, and a little cold, too, but nowhere near as cold as I had imagined it being.  After some time flying around up in the air, we turned and headed back toward the airfield.


Landing the plane went much more smoothly than I had envisioned it in my mind.  I had anticipated a bumpy and rocky landing, but my pilot put the plane down gently and with ease back onto the grass runway – a sign of great skill and experience!  My only complaint was that I had to exit the plane when we were finished.  I wanted to keep flying!

After the flight, I perused the old planes in the hangars.  One was especially stunning – a black and blue WACO biplane.  The man who owned it asked if I’d like to sit in it, so I did! My cousin captured a great shot:


Photo by B. A. Van Sise

I am so grateful to have been able to experience such a fantastic flight. Flying in a vintage biplane has only strengthened my love for flying and appreciation for aviation!