We knew the inappropriately long picture overload had to come at some point, right?
The fact that I packed (literally) 101 pictures into this one single post is either really seriously awesome orrr really annoying. You can vote in the comments – JUST KIDDING, you will never even make it to the comments because you’d have to scroll for 50 years! joke’s on you!
I guess I decided to pack these all into one just in the name of efficiency. Might as well make this a one-stop-Europe-picture-post-stop, and might as be sitting on my couch in maternity leggings while making it happen. I just said MATERNITY LEGGINGS. This is now a thing in my life and I am not mad about it.
Our itinerary for this trip was pretty straightforward.
Days 1-7 – France:Viking River Cruise!
Days 7-10 – Switzerland: exploring Lucerne and region on our own
Days 10-12 – Germany: exploring Munich and region on our own
Basic and easy. Three countries, 12 days. Plenty of time and opportunity to take great pictures with the iPhone 7 plus because YES THIS WHOLE POST IS PICTURES FROM MY PHONE. I’m not freaking out about it, you’re freaking out about it.
Are you sure you’re ready for this?
Here’s the only picture we have of the two of us on our Viking cruise ship, because guess what?
OUR CRUISE NEVER SET SAIL.
And I don’t even mean that in a sad way. The funny thing about this semi-large and seemingly deal-breaker detail is that, strangely enough, it really wasn’t a big deal at all. The river was just too high for us to sail on, so we spent our week with Viking getting off and on the docked ship in Avignon, taking bus tours to the cities on our itinerary, and eventually transferring to (super nice) hotels as needed.
The one area I was most sad about missing out on was all the amazing food. This is not your normal cruise ship food, friends. The food that we had in our short two days on board was just 100% incredible and didn’t even hold a tiny candle next to some of the hotel food that followed.
(Pictured here: my self-created “taste of Provence” plate w ratatouille, green olives for days, marinated tomatoes and mozz salad, herbed potatoes, pickled cabbage salad, roasted chicken, and several large shavings of the best cheese that has ever touched my lips. I *might* be pregnant.)
A few people have asked questions about Viking cruises via email and in blog and social comments, and I’m so glad you’re asking! Here are my quick answers to those questions:
Were you the youngest ones on the ship? Yes, for sure. We did find 2-3 kindred youngins (aka 30-somethings – hi Lily! ) traveling with parents, and a few couples who’d hit the 40-50’s mark, but for the most part, this is a 55+ crowd.
If it’s 55+, would you recommend the experience to other young people? Yes, in a heartbeat. This is not going to be everyone’s thing, for sure. BUT. Viking cruises are such a good fit for people (all ages) who want to see the BEST of the world without spending hours upon hours planning and preparing, figuring out all the details, and stressing about the logistics of international travel. I say: SIGN ME UP.
What was the best thing about the cruise? Tours, food, cities… but mostly the mental freedom. We loved just looking at the itinerary to see where we’d be going the next day and knowing that Viking would be taking us to all the best spots. There was ZERO need for scrambling on our part to research, plan, or prepare. It was kind of like being at summer camp – you just go along for the ride and let someone else lead, knowing it will be awesome, rather than having to make lots of small decisions at every turn. I know it sounds cheesy, but I feel like our minds really got a chance to relax and actually take in the surroundings because of that mental freedom.
Even when the surroundings included a flooded river.
Other Viking highlights: tour bus! we secretly loved it.
Beautifully decorated ship.
Cozy, luxurious room that did not feel cruise-ship chintzy.
Hot chocolate, coffee, and cookie bar at all hours, thank you very much.
Here’s my excited-to-be-in-France-even-when-it’s-raining look.
And soon after, here’s my almost-passed-out-on-a-tour-and-now-cramming-a-Larabar look. Special times brought to you by dehydration, jetlag, and pregnancy.
Photo credit: Bjork Ostrom.
CREPES CREPES CREPES CREPES CREPES CREPES
Cucumber juice? France is so cool.
Sitting outside the Palais des Papes with Bjork one night, sipping hot chocolate at a cafe, watching people walk by in the plaza. Everything about it was so charmed.
Such a sweet forever memory. ♡
Just reminding you THESE PHOTOS WERE ALL TAKEN WITH MY PHONE. K, not freaking out.
Our amazing hotel in Lyon which gifted me with my life’s most luscious robe and the softest scrambled eggs I’ve ever eaten. The Carlton Hotel is a winner. Good pick, Viking.
Crepes back on the scene.
French Onion Soup from a darling little Lyonnaise Bouchon. Obvi.
oh hai again crepes
Meet Lily and Alice! The perks of going on a cruise = meeting new friends.
Before we can appreciate the beauty of Switzerland, we need to appreciate the beauty of my husband carrying both of our 50 lb. suitcases up the stairs of the train station LIT-ER-ALLY one minute before our train departed for Geneva.
It was 0% stressful.
Our Airbnb in Lucerne was basically a legit tiny house it was GOALS in every way. Also included many petting sessions with James the most awesome Swiss dog.
Things I loved about Switzerland: the food (lots of variety and for whatever reason I felt like we found some of our best food here), the weather (crisp and sunny), the views (!!), and the ability to finally wear my Swiss outfit that was definitely not cool enough for France but totally fit the vibe in Switzy.
Just want you to know: those are curry-spiced beet fritters. ❤️
Basic with a capital B, but this magical sandwich of plain bread, mozzarella, fresh tomato, basil, and aioli eaten on a train through Switzerland will be a forever memory for me. It was a moment of pure Swiss bliss.
A boat trip around Lake Lucerne at sunset. Extremely cold, crisp, and clear views of one of the most beautiful countries in the world with my winter boy by my side. Couldn’t have been better.
On the way up and not even nervous.
This whole day at the top of Mount Pilatus is a forever memory. The panoramic views were just… I have never seen anything like it. I remember being up at the top and thinking: someday soon I’ll be back and home and this will all just seem like a dream. True dat. But it was such an incredible dream for those few hours while it lasted. I think for both Bjork and I, this was our favorite experience of the trip.
Germany actually started in Austria, with an adorable hostel (Hotel Tannenhof) and a rental car and a plan to visit the castles.
Spaetzle, sauerkraut, and bacon at the Christmas Market. Words cannot describe how good this was.
That is the last picture I have of Bjork for the whole trip, because a mystery virus slash food poisoning took him down and out for the remaining 36 hours of the trip. And when I say down and out, I mean literally did.not.get.out.of.bed. for 36 hours. I cannot even sugarcoat it for you – it was a pretty depressing way to end the trip.
I spent the rest of the trip by myself, walking around Christmas Markets and taking half-hearted pictures and eating warm cinnamon almonds. It was better than being sick, but dang. Life’s less fun without my travel buddy.
Which brings us to my last forever memory of the trip – The Last Dinner – which involved me going out solo to a restaurant to have dinner, but getting so emotional when they brought me to my table for one in such a beautiful, candle-lit restaurant that I actually had to leave so as not to openly cry like a pregnant fool at my table (“no, I’m sorry, just a change of plans”). I went back up to the room where I proceeded to ordered room service pizza and eat it next to the bed that Bjork, still, 36 hours later, had not gotten out of.
We will laugh about it someday. Just give us 20 years.
What a trip, you guys.
It was so phenomenal. It ended on a bittersweet note, but the other 11 out of 12 days were all absolutely five-star awesome.
Most so than other trips we’ve taken, I just have so many feelings about this trip – most notably a feeling of deep gratitude that we were able to knock off such a huge travel experience and spend such meaningful time together as we bring our just-the-two-of-us chapter in our lives to a close. It makes me feel weepy. I’m not hormonal at all tho.
The world is so amazing, and now, the big question for all of us, you and me — where to next? ✈️
I mean, it’s probably not even hard to take a baby along on international adventures, right?
Shout out to Viking Cruises for hosting us, Mom and Dad for watching the Sagey Girl, and YOU for your excellent recommendations which I studied and took notes on using a pen and a napkin on the train. You guys are the best. ♡
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