Dachau: A somber day trip

Travel, for us, is almost always a joyous occasion. New cultures, new flavors – a window into the beauty of our world. However, not everything in the world is beautiful, and we feel it would be irresponsible and even dangerous to pretend otherwise. This is why, in the middle of our exuberant visit to Munich to celebrate Oktoberfest, we found ourselves making a short journey that somehow felt interminably long. It is difficult to live and travel in Europe without some sense of a dark cloud hanging over all this at times. World War II was not that many years

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Beer for Breakfast: Oktoberfest!

We went to Munich in mid-September to eat, drink, and be merry during the famed Oktoberfest, or The Wiesn as locals refer to it. Held in Munich every year since 1810, it is as Bavarian as beer and pretzels. And yes, we said September: if you’re looking to celebrate in October, you’re too late. The original event celebrated Princess Theresa’s wedding to King Ludwig I, and today’s celebration is still held on the festival grounds bearing the princess’s name (Theresenweise, also giving rise to “The Wiesn“). It was on this trip that Dreamer discovered her all-time favorite breakfast. But we’re

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Harvest time and day drinking in Spanish wine country

Aah, wine country. Next in line for our “have car, will travel” vacation in early September 2017 was Spain’s wine producing region, La Rioja. And it just so happens we arrived at harvest time. We stayed in the romance suite of a renovated 16th-century monastery in the town of Casalarreina. Everyone in Spain had gone back to work or to school after their August vacations, meaning we had the place pretty much to ourselves; and it was a rather affordable trip to boot. In nearby Haro – capital of the upper Rioja region – we decided we might as well

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Guernica: It’s not so horriffic any more (and bonus: Vitoria!)

We took the Euskotren to Guernica (or Gernika in Euskara) during our stay in Bilbao. The small town became known to the outside world during the Spanish Civil War when Nazi Germany’s Luftwaffe dropped bombs on innocent civilians on market day. Picasso later cemented Guernica’s tragic place in history with his iconic masterpiece named after the town. The painting can be viewed at the Reina Sofía museum in Madrid; it’s a very powerful and sobering experience. One can’t help but think about the war in Guernica. General Franco, who would go on to become dictator of Spain for nearly 40 years, ordered the bombardment

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The best bao in Bilbao

Bilbao: that most modern of metropolises (metropoli?), home to the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum, a contemporary city that embraces its ancient roots… We’d heard it all and decided to experience this place for ourselves during our Basque Country road trip. It’s not for nothing that the Guggenheim is one of the main attractions. One of the strangest moments of the trip came when two women approached us outside the museum and started speaking in Valenciano. We’d lived in the Valencian Community almost a year, so we recognized the language, even if we didn’t understand everything they were saying. It’s strange,

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More ham: Rural and French Basque country

Basque Country and culture extends across the Bay of Biscay into Southern France , so we took a day to explore this connection along with a couple of small fishing villages on the Spanish side. We started in Pasai Donibane, or Pasajes de San Juan, a small fishing village near San Sebastián, where we stopped to walk around and have lunch. Apparently water sports, particularly those involving boats, are quite popular in Basque Country. We even had a view of the water at lunch. We then headed across the French border into Biarritz, a glamorous beach resort town. Très chic!

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