Adventure

Field Notes: Exploring Bavaria and Bohemia

Laura Lawson Visconti sitting in front of mountain view

Words and photos by Laura Lawson Visconti

Having traveled the world together, my husband Nick and I learned time and time again that we do best when things aren’t overly planned: last minute Airbnb reservations, stumbling into hole-in-the-wall-cigarette-smoke-filled bars, taking the long way. So when it came time to celebrate turning 30 together, our European escape was no different.

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Nick was working in Munich, so I flew out to meet him there for a few days in Germany. From there, we decided to head down into Salzburg, Austria and finally wound up in Prague.

Laura Lawson Visconti with statue in Germany

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Bavaria, the German and Austrian portion of the trip, was marked by cobblestone steps leading into ancient churches, set against the almighty Alps. Bohemia, now known as the Czech Republic, was marked by endless train rides, gorgeous churches saturated with medieval history, and even an ossuary adorned with 70,000 human skeletons.

Hallstatt

Nick and I rented a car for the Munich and Salzburg portion of the trip, which allowed for more freedom to explore, then hopped on the six-hour train ride to Prague. We had always been told we’d fall head over heels in love with Praha. We did. But it wasn’t the city that sold us, it was the people, some of the friendliest humans I’ve ever met while traveling. If you’re considering a European escape this spring, here are some travel tips I picked up in the week I spent in Bavaria and Bohemia. Lace up your Arrowood Swift sneakers, take your camera, exchange your cash for Euro (the exchange rate is great right now), order a local Pilsner and enjoy.

Nick Visconti arms up at mountain lake

Sneakers and tulips

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Bavaria

Aside from having some of the oldest brauhauses (brewpubs) in the world, Munich is an incredibly clean and sophisticated city that’s easy to navigate via public transit. Make sure to check out the farmer’s market near Marienplatz for snacks, fresh flowers and plenty of local cheese samples. Looking for an espresso pit stop? Don’t miss Man Versus Machine in the hip part of the city.

Gondola in Hallstatt

If you stay in Salzburg, make sure to go to Hallstatt (we had a rental car and it was about an hour drive). The first salt mine in the world, Hallstatt is a gorgeous Austrian village on a lake. On the way there, we decided to go for an impromptu gondola ride overlooking the lake, which put us smack dab in the middle of the Alps.

Nick Visconti sitting in tree

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Laura Lawson Visconti walking in snow in Germany

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If musicals are your thing, watch The Sound Of Music during your stay. It was filmed in Salzburg and is a great portrait of some of the Nazi history in the area. Bonus points if you stroll across Mozart’s birthplace while exploring the city.

Laura Lawson Visconti sitting stairs

Laura Lawson Visconti in Germany

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Bohemia

While in Prague, our Airbnb host recommended we stay away from public transit and just walk everywhere, and it worked out well for us. Make sure to check out the John Lennon Wall, which has become a symbol for revolution and freedom among local Czechs and tourists alike, and walk across the St. Charles Bridge at night for romantic views of the city.

Laura Lawson Visconti drinking coffee cafe

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Bone Church skulls Prague

If you have time for a day trip, hop on a bus or train and head to the Bone Church. A small ossuary decorated with real human skeletons, this is an eerie once-in-a-lifetime experience. Do your research before going as it’s quite far outside of the city center and can be hard to find if you’re not with a tour group.

Laura Lawson Visconti by church doorway Germany Shop the Women’s Arrowood Swift Lace.

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