It’s been over fifteen months since we locked our belongings in storage and left Australia. With one suitcase and one backpack each, we slow travelled all over Europe and Asia tasting the best foods and drinks both had to offer.
There are many articles I’ll be publishing in the coming months and many things I want to say about the whole thing but for now, let’s raise a glass (of not necessarily an alcoholic beverage) and say cheers to the fifteen months of slow travel.
The good start – flying business class with Emirates
We’ve been collecting frequent flyer points for a long time to get this comfy business class flight. Champagne is the only way to start such a monumental journey.
Fighting jet lag with beer
The very first (of many) Czech beers. These were not the best we’ve had but the view made up for it. We were tired after flying Melbourne – Hong Kong – Dubai – Prague but the excitement of what was about to begin kept us going. Na zdraví!
New ways of making friends
One of my first stops was the TBEX conference in Ostrava. We learned, networked and partied a lot. Then there were two fam trips where we were tasting wine from 8am and spending one hour in a beer bath spa after getting acquainted a mere 24 hours earlier. I met more people than I ever expected (life as an introvert with anxiety isn’t easy) and fifteen months later, I’m happy to call some of them my friends.
We were introduced to one of the best Berlin things by our Aussie friends who now live in Berlin. Spätis are late-night corner stores that sell predominantly alcohol. The cool thing about them is that they have seats outside where you can enjoy a drink or two, chat with friends and meet some new ones. Späti beer is a must in Berlin.
Oktoberfest in Munich
Our German road trip had its finish line in Munich where we went to the real-deal Oktoberfest. I even bought a dirndl dress for the occasion and danced on a bench. Prost!
Marseille had a perfect drink for sunny afternoons – pastis (anise-flavoured liqueur) mixed with ice and cold water. Now, even the anise smell brings beautiful Marseille to mind. À votre santé!
Snowy in Malaysia
Snow beers, frozen beer in frozen glasses, were the only way to drink beer on hot and humid evenings in Ipoh. For me, it was a second visit to this lovely city so I had to introduce Hubby to the best things it had to offer.
Celebrating my birthday in Saigon, I didn’t want a regular cake. Instead, we went to my favourite craft brewery and ordered a tasting flight for me. I was never this happy with any birthday cake. Một, hai, ba, yo!
Bubbles in Taiwan
I was never into the bubble tea craze until I tried brown sugar bubble tea in Taiwan (which is the home of bubble tea). Oh my! You beautiful milky, sugary goodness! I now understand why people go mad over these.
Tea house night
The famous A-Mei Teahouse in Jioufen was a prime example of perfect slow travel experience. After learning quickly how to brew oolong tea the proper way, we spent over an hour sipping tea and watching the busy streets below.
Psychedelic experience in Tokyo
During our many visits to Japan, we tried many different things like a tea ceremony, ryokan stays, city life and weekends in rural towns. Nothing came close to the psychedelic kawaii-overload of Monster Cafe. Even my cocktail came with two coloured liquids in vials. かんぱい!
Wine on tap
Our local market in Budapest had wines on tap, sold by litres. When our friend was visiting for a weekend, we bravely went there together and picked a litre of wine. The woman selling wine, asked us many times if we’re sure we want only one litre as the smallest bottle she had was twice the size. It was too cheap to be good so we settled on one litre. After trying it at home, we returned for two more 2L bottles of different wines. The woman from the shop had a huge smile on her face, she knew we’d come back for more. Egészségedre!
Celebrating love… with vodka
When your friends get married and throw a fantastic all-night-long party, you go and enjoy every bit of it. This vodka bucket had my name on it and I definitely had a lot of it to celebrate love. Zdrowie Młodej Pary!
Almost every afternoon of our month in Bologna was spent on our little balcony with a bottle of Italian red wine and pizza, cheese or other nibbles. I wasn’t complaining. Cin cin!
Micro-brewery in a micro-country
San Marino welcomed us with a Japanese festival with a local (and only?) microbrewery stall. Of course, I had to try their IPA.
Coffee perfection in Spain
Madrid has a fantastic coffee scene and the flat whites they serve are on par with those in Australia. What a beautiful positive surprise!
Dark drinks of Finland
We spent only a week in Finland but tried many tasty things. Among them two stood out: Salmiakki koskenkorva (salted liquorice vodka) was an instant hit and dark beers from Kvarken Brewery went down a treat. Kippis!
I was never particularly fond of Belgian beers so when we were planning our week in Belgium, I made sure to add some craft beer bars to the mix and taste local brews. They were pretty good! I also really enjoyed De Koninck brewery tour in Antwerp – a self-guided experience with interesting interactive elements.
Italy – round two
We chose to re-visit Italy as our last stop of the trip. This time around we went on two weekend trips (one to Cinque Terre and another to Siena & around Tuscany) where we enjoyed some beautiful wines, negronis and beers with a view.