Off the beaten path travel is increasingly difficult to find as time marches on. Mass tourism is impacting everything from our favorite cities to the seas that surround them. All the while locals and the environment are often an afterthought. This series, Trailblazers, checks in with writers, photographers, filmmakers, activists and environmentalists who are passionate about off the beaten path travel.
Christie Dietz, A Sausage Has Two
Christie Dietz was born in London, but after moving about a bit, working in various creative (and uncreative) jobs and doing a fair bit of traveling around the world, she moved to Wiesbaden, a beautiful spa town in the heart of Germany’s Riesling wine region, with her German husband in 2010. She’s settled there for now, and in Germany for good, as she just acquired German citizenship. Her work as a freelance writer focuses on German food and travel, both featured on her website, A Sausage Has Two, and other publications that to date have included The Guardian, Fodor’s, Time Out, EATEN, and National Geographic Traveller Food.
Immigrant and Classical Guitarist, Arturo Castro Nogueras
Arturo Castro Nogueras has been an immigrant for most of his life. Born in Mexico, his family moved to Puerto Rico where he continued his exploration of music and his familial roots in Cuba. As he progressed with classical guitar, he moved to Düsseldorf, Germany to study in the heart of classical music, blending his favorite influences from Latin America with his new surroundings in Europe.
“I cannot identify 100 percent with Mexico right now or Puerto Rico or Germany even. But that liberates me in a way.”
Europe is a continent of rails with some of the best opportunities for train travel in the world. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to ride routes in Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and plenty more. Despite the ease and affordability (with planning) of train travel in Europe, I’m still surprised to meet people from overseas who treat the continent like they’re flying into Phoenix, renting a car as soon as they land. In reality, train travel is often much faster, shedding as much as a few hours off your travel time when compared to automobiles, especially when looking at long distance routes covered by high-speed rail.
Below is everything you need to know about traveling Europe by train including information about the various high-speed train lines and how long it takes to travel between some of the most popular routes on the continent. Obviously, there are some omissions, but we’d be here all day if I typed out every route, especially once we get into central Europe. But by the time you’re done with the first couple sections, you’ll know how to search and plan your own train trip through Europe.
You step aboard a bus, and a man or a woman at the wheel quietly greets you. On the subway or tram, you stand side-by-side people from all different backgrounds with unique, undoubtedly interesting stories. Teachers, students, young startup employees, developers, techies, grandmothers, grandfathers, kids, parents, immigrants, refugees, priests, athletes — almost anyone you can think of is there at some point. Then on the weekend, this incredible, fascinatingly simple yet revolutionary machinery zips you out of the city and into the countryside where you’re surrounded by some combination of rivers, streams, mountains, and forests.
You’re connected to it all — the city, nature, society — and it happens subconsciously. All those times you were riding public transport, walking to the bus stop, or riding your bike back home from the station, you were creating a home and forging a deeper connection with your surroundings.
Mainz, Germany — a city tucked away firmly into the heart of Riesling country. Eighty percent of the city was left destroyed following over 30 air raids in World War II and the scars are still readily apparent in the dominant 1950s post-war architecture surrounding the rebuilt Altstadt or Old Town.
Playing a significant role in the city’s recovery and rebuilt reputation has been German wine. Traditionally overlooked by the French, whose border is just a couple of hours west of Mainz, German wine (and food) is making a name for itself thanks to passionate advocates looking to connect local delicacies with an already fiercely local culture. Jérôme Hainz and Christie Dietz of BottleStops share how they became enamored with German wine and food during an afternoon wine tasting tour through the shops and taverns of Mainz.
Mullerthal, Luxembourg. They call it “Little Switzerland” with its sweeping landscapes, streams, and towns that will seem familiar to anyone who’s traveled Central Europe. It’s hardly an unknown region. Tourism is popular in the area, especially so with Dutch tourists, and of course, Luxembourgers themselves.
But Americans will find Mullerthal to be refreshingly serene compared to some of the more well-known natural regions of Europe suffering from mass tourism. In fact, considering how remarkably easy it is to connect the already wonderfully unique Luxembourg City to Mullerthal, it seems to only be a question of time before more travelers take a pass on the familiar and plan a trip to Mullerthal.
Santiago, Chile is a city you’ve heard of, but what do you really know about it? Over 48 hours, Santiago left a lasting impression on me. From sipping wine at Concha y Toro to chowing down on the local favorite at a restaurant covered in satirical Chilean headlines, there are plenty of things to do in Santiago, Chile that will leave you feeling just as impressed with the city as I was.
The sun is out of hibernation. A perfect brush of green sweeps over the countryside. The historic squares and castles come alive once more. Spring has breathed life into Germany. And life in Germany means one thing — Man muss wandern. Time to hike Germany’s Neckarsteig and the Castle Road.