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5 Countries, 4 Friends, 1 Van: 1,800 Miles

An idea and its follow-ups

Chairlifts have a way of bringing up some of the most peculiar conversations and crazy ideas, which makes it the perfect starting point for our journey. What started as a random idea on the slopes eventually turned itself into one of the most spontaneous, adventure-filled spring breaks to date.

Days after coming up with the idea, we booked our Tickets and before we knew it we were in Munich with nothing more than a few bags of luggage, a European mietwagen (German word for rental car), and 12 days of who knew what. We set out with little idea of where we would go or what we would see—all we knew is that we were headed away from the city and towards the mountains.


After filling ourselves with some schnitzel, we were on the autobahn cruising at a steady 120km/h toward the Swiss alps. Being as we were headed to the less-touristy, mountain towns, we questioned whether or not our three-word German vocabulary would be able to get us very far, but, to our surprise, we managed to find plenty of friendly people who helped set us in the right direction.

To be honest, Switzerland was one of the most magical places we had ever seen (It also turned out to be one of the most frustrating places, see appendix A for more details). We spent a total of three days in and around the Swiss alps hiking through knee deep snow, riding gondolas to the top of the world, and skateboarding down country roads. With every turn we were blown away by the landscapes and incredible views, and grateful for the layers we were able to bring along on the summits.

Appendix A:

For the better part of a year, both Justin and I have attempted to get an epic photo of birds eatng food out of our hands. Upon the first summit of our trip, we discovered five or six crows flying around who seemed super keen on getting some food, but being as we were super unprepared for our first journey, we had absolutely nothing to offer them except an open hand (which they weren’t buying for a second). After 20 minutes of standing around with our arm pointed at them and our camera glued to our face, we gave up, took the “L”, and decided a better plan of attack would be to bring some bread with us on our next adventure.

The next morning, we snagged a whole bag of croissants from our hotel breakfast, threw them in the mietwagen, and told ourselves we would bring them on our next adventure. As it turned out, we managed to forget the bread every single time we left the car, and subsequently, we never managed to capture bird picture… but I guess that gives us a good reason to go back.


After a few more hours of mobbing in the mietwagen, we arrived up in Italy craving gelato, some authentic Italian pizza, a shower, and some much needed sleep. Although all of us had been to Italy before, we had never been on any sort of hikes or truly rugged adventures. After spending a day in Lake Como, we had the spontaneous decision to drive through the night and get into the mountains. Based on our calculations, we would get to our desired location around midnight, have four hours to sleep in the car, and hopefully managed to start hiking around 4am. The hope was that this early start would give us two hours to complete the six mile hike and reach the summit for sunrise.

That’s where it all began.

When the alarms sounded at 4am, we woke up extremely cold, tired, and confused; but rallied, stuffed our bags full of gear, and set off on the trail. As we began walking, we realized that we were hiking on what appeared to be an old forest service road. Shortly after beginning the hike, we came to a sign that (based on our four-word Italian vocabulary) said something similar to “transit at your own risk.” That’s when the gears started turning. We didn’t hike too much further before we all flipped around and before we knew it were in the mietwagen powering up this steep gravel road spewing rocks off our front wheel drive van. Long story short, after the initial hill that took us three tries to get up, we made it about three miles before we ran into snow and ice and ended up getting the van stuck sideways. Forty minutes later we got the car turned around, parked it on the side of the road, and started racing towards the summit on foot. We made it just in time to see the sun pop up behind the mountains. Mission success.


After Italy, we spent a few days touring around Austria checking out the castles and vast mountains before making our way back to Germany.


Germany was the perfect place to spend our final two days before the long flights and travel days ahead of us to get home. Although weather was poor, we made the most of it and spent a lot of time milling around Munich checking out the different stores and eating delicious food.

Overall, Europe was filled with some of the best … … …