Zillertal Multi-Day Trek | Tyrol, Austria

A few summers ago, Austin and I spent some time exploring the Tyrol region of Austria. We trekked for about a week on the Berliner Höhenweg, taking in the stunning scenery while experiencing the full range of alpine weather, from snow to sun and everything in between. But of course, the highlight of any trek in the Alps is the opportunity to stay in the mountain huts. There are few things more wonderful than sitting around a lively table, eating hearty food, drinking delicious beer, and enjoying good conversation with your fellow trekkers. Each hut has its own unique character, but all provide a cozy welcome at the end of a long day. The huts also provide ample opportunity to ponder the question of whether it is possible to consume too much Kaisershmarrn (we concluded that it is not).

Following our trek in the Zillertal, we made brief detour to Vorarlberg to the charming town of Lech, where we rented an apartment for a few days while exploring various day hikes in the region. Between the vibrant wildflowers, glassy alpine lakes, and the beautiful free-ranging horses, we found ourselves wishing we had more time to explore this magical region. But I suppose that’s just an excuse to plan a future alpine hut trek!

Travel | Azores & Madeira

Any Boston bride looking for a unique but accessible location for an elopement or destination wedding should definitely consider the Azores. Austin and I recently spent some time exploring São Miguel, the largest of the 9 volcanic islands that comprise the Azores. We flew direct from Boston to Ponta Delgada in a little under 5 hours, where we spent several days soaking in the hot springs of Furnas, enjoying the beautiful gardens and camellias of Parque Terra Nostra, hiking in the Gorreana Tea Plantation, and taking in the view of Sete Cidades (while doing a bit of urban exploration of the nearby abandoned hotel). Besides the beautiful scenery, the islands of the Azores produce an abundance of delicious wines and cheeses—in short, a perfect vacation destination.

Following our stay in the Azores, we hopped on a short flight to Madeira. Outdoor lovers that we are, we didn’t spend much time in Funchal, other than to wander the streets for an afternoon, sample some Madeira wine, and visit the Mercado dos Lavradores. After that, we were eager to hike Madeira’s famous levada paths, and take advantage of the stunning natural beauty of the island. The levadas are an ancient network of irrigation canals that cover the island, making for delightful hiking. (Though also dangerous at times—the landscape of Madeira is incredibly mountainous, and many levada trail heads include vertigo warnings. Some paths are so steep and narrow that a slip or misstep could be fatal.)

Besides the levadas, we were also determined to take a dip in one of the lovely natural pools that dot the coastline. Rough seas meant that we struck out more than once, but we finally found a stunning natural pool that we had all to ourselves!

The last photo in this series was taken at sunrise as we drove to the airport for our flight back to Boston. The road passes under the airport runway, which had to be built on columns extending over the ocean—there simply isn’t a space large and flat enough for an airport runway of adequate size. This golden sunrise view was a perfect end to our Madeira visit, which impressed not only with its stunning natural beauty, but also the amazing ways that humans have shaped and adapted to its landscape.