The best about road trips is being totally independent. You can stop whenever, wherever you want. Drive wherever you want and see a lot more of a place than flying over it. Plus it is just great fun.
Victoria and me set out to drive from Vienna to Germany to visit my friend Dimi and check out his new bar. His place in the small university town Tübingen is a real hotspot for all students and was packed with friendly people in good mood. It had a real fun atmosphere with some live music. During the day it’s a coffee bar, so definitely a great spot for thousands of students in town. I believe he will have great success with it, as he has a clear vision for the bar’s future and knows what it takes to run a bar like that. Plus, I believe that good things happen to good people.
After a fun night out in Tübingen we set sails to Luxembourg City, which is about 3 hours drive and is located in the Golden Triangle of Europe between Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. About halfway it started to rain. It got stronger as we came closer and closer to Luxembourg. The first thing you notice, while driving through the modern part towards the old city centre, are two gigantic bridges that lead to a hill, where the old part of Luxembourg city is located. The rain eventually stopped and we parked our car in one of the indoor park spaces.
While Luxembourg is relatively small it has a lot to offer. There are several institutions of the European Union, museums and beautiful sights in the Ville Haute Quarter. The Ville Haut Quarter, also known as the historical center, is home to the beautiful Gëlle Fra (Golden Lady monument). She is a war memorial that honors all the Luxembourgs who volunteered in the Allies of World War I.
I was surprised by the huge number of cafés, bistros and the relaxed atmosphere around Ville Haute, but I was a little bummed, that it poured a lot. Otherwise we would have seen a lot more. Anyway, after our visit to Lux we drove south for another 2 hours to Strasbourg, France.
Strasbourg, located in Eastern France, is the capital city of the Alsace region and also one of the most important political cities of Europe, as it is the official seat of the European Parliament. The Ill river flows around town and invites to stroll around. There are very few cars in the central area, as the majority of the streets are solely for pedestrians. We had a very charming small hotel in a side street , right next to the astonishing Strasbourg Cathedral. In the late 17th century the Cathedral, also known as the Strasbourg Minster, has been the tallest building of the world. Today it is not the tallest building anymore, by far, but one of the most beautiful, jaw-dropping gothic architectures in the world.
I highly recommend taking a morning walk in Petite-France, the UNESCO World Heritage Site part of the Grande-Ilê. The light of the reflecting sun in the river gives the colourful, old stilt houses a beautiful and mesmerizing atmosphere. Cafés and french taverns are all around and you will never want to step out of Petite-France again. Trust me.
On our way to the Swiss Alps we stopped at Alsace’s most famous medieval castle Haute-Koenigsbourg. The castle has a strategic location on top of a hill and from above you have a wide view over Alsace. It is believed that it was first built in the early 12th century. The castle was renovated some decades ago and now there is only one walking way around. It is actually quite convenient, as you walk past all rooms and buildings, without getting lost.
From Alsace we drove through Switzerland to the French Alps, which took us another 2 1/2 hours. I love mountains and their amazing scenery and while driving through the winding roads on the mountains to Chamonix I tried to spot the highest peak in Europe, but he is hiding until the very end and shows his real magnificence once you made your way to town. Chamonix-Mont Blanc is one of the most famous and expensive places for skiing and mountain adventures, but the atmosphere in this area of the French Alps is one of its kind and very charming.
The absolutely best to do there is inhaling the exhilarating views up at L’Aiguille du Midi. You take the highest cable car in the world for 20+ minutes up to more than 3800m and there you get off. Be prepared for less oxygen. L’Aiguille du Midi offers 4 different viewing platforms where you can see as far as Italy. The platforms are at different angles and the whole establishment itself is a masterpiece of structure work, as there is literally nothing else at this height. On one of the platforms you feel very close to the summit of Mont Blanc and the views are out of this world! And I don’t use this phrase very often. Let the pictures speak for itself…
After having breakfast with a view on one of the platforms we wandered around a lot and gazed at some of the climbers and alpinists. It was a weird feeling, when they all are completely geared up with ropes, carabiners, ice axes and thick clothes and we wore street shoes and didn’t even have gloves. We got some confused looks from a few of those climbers for sure. I definitely recommend going up there when in Chamonix, as you don’t want to miss out on this exhilarating views and awesome experience. With 56 euros each it is quite costly though. But it is worth every cent. Be among the first to go up in the morning, because the lights in the morning are amazing and the mountain range tends to get covered in clouds around noon. Plus, the cable car is very popular and you don’t want to wait forever. It has an actual boarding area, where you get numbers for your cable car. So there is the chance you have to wait for hours, when it gets crowded at noon. But again, it is definitely worth it!
On our way back to Vienna, we stopped in Vorarlberg, the most-western part of Austria and then stayed in Innsbruck for a night. It is the mountain capital of the Austrian Alps and generally an impressive, charming city. But just coming off Mont Blanc I wasn’t overly impressed with the view. My climber’s heart was still pumped about the French Alps and I’m very excited to be one of those mountaineers on Mont Blanc in the near future.