Summertime (and the living is easy)

Hello All! After a not-so-brief hiatus (in which I finished a third of my degree) I am back and ramping up for a summer of excellent diy-ing. Let the blogging spree begin!

This week I returned from 21 glorious days in Europe. While it was a class trip, (think Magic School Bus, but less magic, more gelato) I managed to eat drink and bike my way from business to business. We hopped through Germany (Munich), Austria (Vienna, Melk), Italy (Torino, Triste, Venice, Bologna and Milan) and finally France (Paris and Epernay).

Key learnings:

1) The best way to learn a language is to order as many gelato flavours as possible. This is critical for vocabulary development.

2) Germany (as expected) is pretty much the most pragmatic and well laid out nation ever.  The signs make sense. The subways make sense. The streets make sense. And most people speak English (although they are very welcoming of German learners.

3) Know your prices. A lot of items are priced in Euros the same as they are in Canadian or American dollars. So if you can buy it at home, check first.

4) Do not wear pointy toed shoes (especially heels). The toes will continuously catch on the cobblestone and either trip you or scuff/ruin your shoes.

5) Pizza is actually good. As a North American Pizza hater, I was pleasantly surprised by the thin, naan-like crust and light fresh flavours and toppings. A must-taste if in Italy.


France: I stumbled across a biking tour in the Champagne region while looking to fill a free day in Paris. A short train ride pops you out into the beautiful French countryside, complete with cobblestones and quaint architecture. While battery assisted pedaling is available for this trip, I kept mine off to work off all the bubbly and the previous weeks’ icecream in-take. The link to the trip is here; I would definitely recommend it! We toured both a small family operation as well as the much more commercial Moët & Chandon, which included exploring their 28 km of underground cellars as well as some well deserved sampling. If you take the tour and end up having lunch in Hautvillers, be sure to order the home-made fries! Délicieux!

Italy: Obviously, gelato. But after that, if you’re going to go to Venice be sure to take a guided tour off the beaten track. The city otherwise is just a tourist trap. I 100% recommend using Louisella Romeo. A born and raised Venitian, she did an excellent and interesting job of explaining the city’s history and development on our walking tour. Our trip to the Illy cafe factory was also amazing. We got to take a “barista for an hour” mini course to learn the real way to make cappuccino. Molto Bene!

Austria: Our class signed up for a tour of the Danube through the Wachau valley. Starting in Krems and ending in Melk, we had a chance to explore the Melk Abbey and  enjoy the local village. I noticed a bike path that runs from Germany to Budapest along the river. Look out Andy!

Germany: We didn’t have many days in Munich. Aside from a trip to the BMW Plant and the Dachau memorial site I was mostly catching up from jet lag. We did, however, have dinner at the site of Oktoberfest. Alas, it was only May, but the beer was still good. German cuisine leaves a bit to be desired in my opinion, but there is always dessert to round things out (literally and figuratively).

All in all, a great trip, and I’m already plotting my next cycling adventure to Europe. I came across these maps of Switzerland’s national cycling trails. But we’ll see. Apparently I still have to work for a living.


Companies Visited:

Germany: BMW

Austria: Bombardier, Heindl Chocolate Factory

Italy: Illy Cafe, Maserati, Murano Glass Factories, Marco Corona Ceramics/Tiles

France: L’Oreal

This entry was published on May 26, 2014 at 6:42 pm. It’s filed under Travel, Wine and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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