- Everywhere else
(Note: We didn’t have any ham during our quick stop in Italy; otherwise they’d be on here.)
- Australia: Every little town has a brewery, most of which are excellent. Also, Sydney is home to best-named beer of the trip, Slayer Juice Black IPA.
- Scotland: Will at the Whiskey Box in Dunkeld gave us amazing recommendations on local stuff.
- England: I’m a sucker for a cask pull from an old pub, even if they are all chains now.
- Portugal: Entirely due to the existence of The Queen Ale in Lisbon and the Cerveja Nortada beer cart in Porto.
- Germany: Not a lot of creativity in German beer, but they do the classics well.
- Austria: See “Germany.”
- Everywhere else
(Everywhere else basically just has light pilsner, which is fine, but rarely something to write home about.)
Wine Rankings, by Value
(Decent wine in Europe is so cheap it’s silly. Australian wine is fantastic, but more expensive. Everything is better value for your money than we get in the States.)
Ways to Travel, Least Annoying to Most Awful
- Trains. The fastest were in Spain and Germany at about 160 miles per hour, but we were also pleasantly surprised by our London -> Edinburgh jaunt on British Rail. Fast enough and incredibly convenient. Well done, UK!
- Driving. There’s a huge gap between #1 and #2 here. Driving is unfortunately the only way to practically get around some of the places we went to (lookin’ at you, northern Spain and Australia!). After a couple of hours, driving is a boring chore no matter where you are.
- Flying. Especially to Newark.
- Flixbus from Vero, Spain to Porto Airport. I’m usually OK with busses, but between the lateness, the crowdedness, the unhelpful, bronchitis-ridden Camino de Santiago pilgrims, and the woman who took off her mask to cough… hard pass.
Favorite Kid Things
- The summer toboggan in Austria’s Stubai Valley. Fiona loved it so, so much.
- The Sydney Zoo. It’s a great zoo, taking the ferry adds points, and when you add that view… wonderful.
- Playgrounds on top of Austrian mountains. What a good idea.
- Waterslides at Leuksbad, Switzerland.
- The huge bounce pillows they have at Australian campervan parks.
- Playgrounds near breweries, Berlin.
- Frozen in London.
- Swimming pools! Ooh, I’ll rank ’em:
- Fiji (warm, tropical)
- Tandjung Sari, Bali (almost as warm, amazing pool deck for playing games)
- Au Pont Romain, France. Hot enough outside to make hanging out worth the time.
- West Bali. How often do you get your own infinity pool looking over the ocean?
- The Palace Hotel, Nice
- Guimaraes, Portugal. This one was cold but it was all our own.
- The Carlton Hotel, Singapore
Best Repurposing of an Iconic but Now Pointless Thing
The Little Free Library in an old phone booth. Strathpeffer, Scotland.
Things I Still Don’t Understand
- The Bap sign at the Holiday Inn Express in Edinburgh (see below). A Bap is like a sandwich roll. A croissant is a croissant. Why does the Edinburgh Holiday Inn Express care if you put either one in the toaster?
- The lack of cheese graters in Spain. None of the apartments we stayed in stocked a cheese grater.
- Queen beds in Spain have a single long pillow instead of two regular pillows. Seems like that’s a real formula for marital discord.
- South Australia’s time zone is thirty minutes different from Victoria’s. Just go with an hour, guys.
- Why does nobody anywhere in Europe have window screens? It’s buggy as heck in the summer, and if you have screens, you can open your windows and not get bit. (My friend’s answer: “Well, they don’t bother me.” I don’t think that quite cuts it.)
The Best Thing
Our friends and family. Visiting and seeing all of them was the highlight, every single time. We love all of you so, so much.