Yes, you heard right! We visited five countries in less than one day – Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, France, and Belgium. How did we manage that? Like any fun anecdote, there’s a bit of a back-story.
For the last 10 years, author and world traveller Savannah Grace has travelled somewhere for her birthday (June 14th) – China, Turkmenistan, Egypt, Namibia, Canada, Netherlands, France, Mauritius, Cape Verde, and Peru. She’s visited 103 countries and has engaged in an assortment of incredible activities all over the world! Therefore, this year, when Savannah’s partner, Kees, went with his African drumming band “Tranzulu” to the Dutch island of Terschelling for a festival, she decided to embark on another adventure.
Four of us – Savannah, Maggie (Savannah’s mom), Anita (Kees’ sister), and I – hit the road at 6 a.m., coffee in hand. Anita made awesome sandwiches, we had enough CDs to last us for days, maybe even weeks (yes, we were all singing!), and there were snacks, fruit, and water galore. We knew which stops we wanted to make and where, but we had one time constraint: to arrive in Liege, Belgium by 7 p.m. for #TRLT, the Twitter chat Savannah and I host on Tuesdays.
Our first stop was Schloss Drachenburg just outside of Bonn, Germany. We didn’t have enough time to do both the city and the castle, so we opted for nature instead. We plugged the address into our GPS, but it first led us to a different attraction (it looked like another castle, but we weren’t entirely sure). After re-routing us, the GPS then led us up this steep mountain road, which we later found out was private. To be fair, Anita, who was sitting in the front seat and is Dutch, mentioned this may have been the case, but we kept going anyway. Hey, we were just following the GPS!
We climbed our way to the top and were rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Rhine River. We then quickly hiked down a walking path to get a better vantage point of the castle. It could be right out of a fairytale! In the past, the building served as a type of community center. It later became a boys’ boarding school, but when it closed, the Nazi elite school Adolf-Hitler-Schule (AHS 3) moved in. After World War II, the castle transitioned into a training center, its last role before becoming a monument open to the public.
Before continuing on our adventure, Savannah and I shared a quick beer, hoping to taste a local beverage at each of our stops on the birthday blitz road trip. Noticing the time, we hopped back in the car and drove onwards to our next destination: Luxembourg City. Savannah had been here before, but for me, this stop was extra special. Luxembourg was my 33rd country! Unfortunately, we had a bit of trouble finding parking, but it turned out to be a Sihpromatum (a blessing in disguise). It ended up down pouring at that exact moment, sparing us from getting wet. For the rest of our time in the city, the sun was shining. The tiered city is simply stunning! I’d love to go back and spend a few days exploring. Turns out Luxembourg is not known for its beer, so instead, we tried a local wine.
At this point, we were running a bit behind schedule, so we decided to adjust our original route. Instead of visiting Metz, France, we crossed the border and stopped in a small village called Kanfen. Our Dutch car turned heads as we drove down the residential roads. Ultimately we made our way up a hill to the church, where we spent a few minutes observing tombstones. In order to try our local French beer, we walked into a little patisserie and asked – in our best French – for the local brew. It was only 90-euro cents!
#TRLT was quickly approaching, and we knew it’d be tight, so we raced to Liege, Belgium, but got caught in rush hour. However, luck was on our side, and we only arrived 10 minutes late. Penta Hotels in Liege graciously hosted us! We received a warm welcome, including a glass of bubbles to toast Savannah’s birthday.
After a fantastic Twitter chat on nature, one of Savannah’s favorite topics, we had a moment to admire the hotel’s interior. The moment we stepped inside, we felt at home. The ambient lighting adds to the mood, and the reception area blends in with the bar and restaurant, giving it this low-key, laid-back vibe. I couldn’t tell if the people were locals or guests, but the lobby was quite full the entire evening. The rooms are really nice, and the suites are even better. Three of them have a foosball table!
We stayed for dinner, which was absolutely delicious! Being the foodie that I am, I had to ask what the kitchen is known for and what their most popular dish is. The cheeseburger, which I ordered, is their most popular entrée, and – to no one’s surprise – they are known for their meats. Savannah, Maggie, and Anita all had steaks, high in quality. I had a few bites, and it sure was tasty.
We were invited to stay overnight, but we politely declined, as our goal was to start and end in the same place, all while visiting five countries in one day. Ready to make the home stretch, we curled up in the car. Destination: Alkmaar. I tried to keep my eyes open, but after 19 hours of hard-core travel, I didn’t quite make it. I fell asleep around 12:30 a.m., and we arrived back at Savannah’s around 1:30 a.m. Maggie was a champ! She even set a personal driving record for number of hours driving. Crawling into bed at the end of the day, I could honestly say, “Wow, what a day! Look at all we accomplished.” My eyes were closed within seconds.
Be sure to read Savannah’s account of the trip, too, and check out more of her pictures!
Thank you, Savannah, for allowing me to join you on this incredible birthday blitz road trip! I had a great time and am looking forward to our next adventure.
What is the craziest road trip you’ve been on? Please tell me about it in the comments below!