By Beth Higham
Well, it’s official. I’ve got FOMO: ‘Fear Of Missing Out’. That, and a serious case of wanderlust…
And with my diagnosis confirmed and no summer holiday plans looming, a few months ago, an early morning session on Booking.com resulted in me arranging a surprise anniversary trip for my better half, Alex. Opting for four days and three nights in Munich and a stay at the new, rather swish and surprisingly affordable Ruby Lilly Hotel, now I just had to keep the secret for 24 hours. How hard could it be?!
It turns out pretty difficult. My excitement building by the hour, the next day proved to be a long, but actually rather fruitful time. In just one day, I’d managed to mastermind how we could combine our Munich city break that Alex has long lusted after, with a visit to Salzburg in neighbouring Austria.
As our departure date etched nearer, almost constant sessions on Google Maps meant that my FOMO/wanderlust reached new heights: We would explore four countries in one day on one hell of a road trip. Sorted.
Fast forward a few weeks and after two days exploring Munich using our finely tuned city break formula…
- Bus tour – to get our bearings and play tourist
- Food – and lots of it!
- Cosmos and craft brews – to keep us hydrated
…we picked up our wheels for the weekend and hit the road at 7am. And so began our 1,000km-in-a-day road trip: Munich to Zurich (and back by bedtime!)
For some the thought of covering so much distance in one day might seem either overwhelming or draining. Not for me. Travelling like this is when I’m at my happiest and it turns out that my wanderlust coupled with sheer determination to make the very most of every travel opportunity resulted in one of the best days of my life.
Heading south from Munich we made our all-important first stop: a motorway service station to stock up on road trip essentials (you know, a bit like those ‘essentials’ that Waitrose sells). Armed with chocolate, Red Bull and Alex’s daily supply of Diet Coke we were back on the road in country #1 – Germany – and motoring our way further south through the beautiful countryside of Bavaria to reach the Neuschwanstein Castle. Set in the foothills of the Alps, this landmark is a popular choice with the coach parties thanks to its reputation as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle. A quick photo taken and we were off – this time to country #2: Austria.
Wending our way through the Austrian Tyrol, sunshine blazing and tunes blaring (with some golden oldies, ahem B*Witched – an ode to my teenage years), I felt on top of the world. A cliche yes, but this part of the world really is special and well worth its place on my (and your) bucket list.
Crossing the border into country #3, Liechtenstein, I thought a small Bratislava-style city would await in its capital Vaduz. Instead I found myself breaking my golden rule and sitting having lunch in MacDonald’s (yuk!) as this was for the most part the only real sign of life. The mountainous landscapes that surround Vaduz are every bit as spectacular as those back across the border in Austria, but I’d say Vaduz really isn’t worth the stop. But we’d ticked off another country in under an hour and were now headed to #4.
Switzerland had long been that place that every time I looked on Instagram, its sparkling lakes, breathtaking mountains and picturesque towns and cities would be there, calling me to come visit – only heightening my wanderlust. After passing alongside the glistening Lake Walensee we reached what was to quickly become one of my favourite European cities to date: Zurich. Many people just think it’s an expensive financial centre. While moneyed it certainly is, it’s also a city that in my opinion should be on every traveller’s ‘wanderlust wishlist’.
Set on Lake Zurich, we were especially lucky to visit on a hot, sunny day which meant that in just two hours, and for little more than 10 euros in parking charges, we were able to meander through the heart of the city, take plenty of Instagram-worthy photos and make a quick stop in Christian Louboutin. While I’m getting pretty good at making my travel dreams come true, my Carrie Bradshaw inspired fantasy of owning a pair of these iconic red soled shoes might have to wait a few more years!
Leaving Zurich late afternoon we headed 40 minutes south for our last stop of the day. The small city of Lucerne lies on yet another of Switzerland’s spectacular lakes and is best known for its beautifully preserved medieval architecture surrounded by snowcapped mountains. Its centuries-old Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) dates back to 1333 and straddles the top end of Lake Lucerne. Walk across the bridge in Old Town to choose a waterside restaurant for dinner – and, if like us you’re lucky, dine to the tunes of a local marching brass band who belted out the latest pop hits.
With the sun setting, we hit the road for the 365km+ journey back to Munich in time for some much needed beauty sleep so we’d be ready for our next adventure the following day – this time to Salzburg and the Austrian Lakes, but that’s a story for another day.
So what’s the moral of this story? Well, writing as a classically ‘time and money poor’ millennial (saving for a house takes its toll!), my combo of FOMO and wanderlust together with my recent European adventure shows that our generation has no reason to give up on its travel dreams. However it does mean that we’ll simply have to dream big to conquer. Who’s with me?