Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 6

We started our first full day in Marquette driving to Laughing Whitefish Falls State Park, where we had a short hike to a waterfall.

Next, we drove to Sugarloaf Mountain and walked up 304 steps to the viewing platforms. Wow!!

Lake Superior is large enough to fit five states in it.

Our last stop was Presque Isle Park. We drove around the one way loop and stopped a couple of times to view the lovely scenery.

After stopping at our Airbnb to freshen up and have a drink, we walked to The Vierling Restaurant and Marquette Harbor Restaurant.

We shared a smoked whitefish appetizer and had a delicious Whitefish entree (it looked so good I forgot to take a photo 🙂

Another wonderful day!

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 5 – Marquette

My first morning in Marquette, I cycled 8 miles on the multi-use path along Lake Superior.

I cycled in to town and saw some interesting sites.

My Airbnb was right across the street from Blackrocks Brewery.

I went from there to the airport in Marquette to pick up my girlfriend Sherry who was spending three nights with me at the Airbnb and then our next stop was Mackinaw City for a couple of nights. After she settled in, we walked less than 10 minutes to The Iron Bay Restaurant for dinner. We shared the Whitefish tacos and we each had a bowl of the Whitefish chowder…yum! The flight of beer was also delish!

We walked down to the shoreline and then back to our Airbnb, it was a full day!

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 4

I left my Airbnb in Traverse City and drove a scenic route along the Michigan Lake shoreline on my way to Marquette in the Upper Peninsula. I stopped in Harbor Springs for a restroom break and took a few photos. It was still early morning.

It was exciting crossing the Mackinac Bridge.

I wanted to capture a photo of the entire Bridge so after I paid my $4 toll fee I took the first exit and went to a state park to take this photo.

My itinerary included Tahquamenon Falls State Park. I stopped for lunch at Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub, located next to the Upper Falls of the Park and then walked a half mile to the main viewing platform.

The falls were impressive. They reminded me of Cumberland falls, Kentucky. The rusty color was surprising. I read that Tannins cause the rust color.

There are numerous vantage points to take photos from.

I drove four miles to the Lower Falls which weren’t as impressive but still beautiful. You only have to walk 400 ft. to the first viewing platform.

On my way to Marquette I stopped at a scenic lookout to take a few photos and stretch my legs. Lake Superior is beautiful, the water is so clear and a beautiful shade of blue.

Once in Marquette, I stopped at a grocery store for supplies and finally arrived at my Airbnb nine hours after my departure from Traverse City.

I unloaded the car, made a sandwich for dinner and watched a Netflix.

Pure Michigan road trip – Day 3

The only outing I did on Day 3 of my Michigan road trip was hiking a few miles at Grand Traverse Natural Education Reserve. The trails are along the Boardman River. It was only a 20 minute drive from my Airbnb.

It’s always fun to hike somewhere you haven’t been. Afterwards I packed for my departure the following day to Marquette in the Upper Peninsula, aka the UP.

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 2

On my 2nd day in Traverse City I drove my bicycle 10 minutes from my lodging to Boardman Lake and cycled the four mile loop around the lake. If you missed Day 1, it’s here.

It’s a relaxing and pretty ride.

Then I cycled into Traverse City and the waterfront to explore a bit.

This is one of the waterfront beaches.

I’d read about a very short hike to see the “hippie” trees so I drove about 10 minutes to check it out. Here’s the beginning of the hike.

Within a few minutes I was there.

I love to see eclectic things. So colorful and unexpected.

Less than three minutes away is The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. It’s a complex of buildings filled with shopping and dining.

I had brunch at the Red Spire Brunch House, located there.

I drove back to my Airbnb and took a nap. To finish my day I went to see a movie …Where the Crawdads Sing. I’d read the book and the movie was very good.

Pure Michigan Road Trip and Sleeping Bear Dunes

The morning of August 31, 2022, I left home (Northern Kentucky) and drove 7 and 1/2 hours to an Airbnb in Traverse City. I had three days to explore Traverse City and the surrounding areas. I stayed with a couple who have a beautiful view of Michigan Lake from their deck. They were very helpful giving me tips to tweak my itinerary. One of my followers Phil (and I follow his beautiful blog https://philperkins.photography/ ) was very helpful with ideas of where to visit on my Michigan trip.

The following day I left early, drove to Suttons Bay, and took a few photos.

The weather was perfect.

Then I drove to Good Harbor Bay Beach.

My next stop was Glen Arbor, where I had breakfast before driving to Empire Bluff Trail.

The trail is two miles round-trip and there’s a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan and Sleeping Bear Dunes.

My next stop was Mission Point Lighthouse.

On the way back to my lodging I stopped at Mari Vineyards for a glass of wine. There are lots of wineries to choose from. I drove a little over three hours total. There wasn’t much traffic and the scenery was beautiful.

I was surprised by how pretty Michigan is and how Caribbean blue the water is.

What not to pack for an extended trip in Europe

I moved my luggage to 21 accommodations…too much/too heavy

Here’s a list of what I packed for my 11 week, 5 country European trip:


Baggallinni Travel Purse/London Fog 27” checked bag/Vancropak 22” backpack carry-on

Packing List – I had to pack for weather ranging from the 30’s to the 80’s:

Pants: 1 jeans/1 gray leggings/2 black leggings/1 capri black leggings/ Eddie Bauer lightweight water-resistant pants/black stretchy flare leg pants that I used as PJ bottoms but also as dressy pants

Tops: 5 long sleeve SPF tops/1 short sleeve top/4 sleeveless tops

Misc. clothing: 2 long underwear tops and 1 bottom / bathing suit / PJ top /4 scarves /10 undies / 2 bras / 4 socks / gloves / lightweight winter hat / raincoat / packable short down jacket / fleece jacket

Shoes: La Sportiva Hiking Boots / 2 pairs of walking sandals / walking shoes (wore on airplane)/ flat Vivaia shoes (for a dressier look) / flip-flops

Misc.: Packable clothesline / detergent sheets / lightweight backpack (folds up to nothing) / 2 sun visors / 2 Covid tests and masks / Tupperware container containing cold medicines, Oximeter (in case I got Covid), thermometer / Gallon and quart size plastic bags / Bag for grocery shopping (folds into 3×3 square) / 2 hangers for laundry – 1 padded/1 for hanging pants (came in very handy) / hair straightener / 2 disposable emergency rain ponchos / umbrella / lanyard for phone so I could wear it around my neck (loved this)

Toiletries: I purchased a BoaCay toiletry bag for the trip and decided to bring everything I needed instead of having to purchase things in other countries

Tech: Mac laptop and charger / Nikon D1500 camera with 2 lenses with charger / external phone charger / Adaptor / earbuds for audible books / phone charger / Fitbit charger

Wore on Airplane: Gray leggings/sleeveless top/fleece jacket/walking shoes

What I wouldn’t have packed:

My camera and the laptop (I would’ve had a backup phone instead), the hair straightener, one pair of the sandals, the long underwear, one short sleeve top, 2 of the 4 scarves, gloves, winter hat, and the jeans.  I also would’ve taken small amounts of toiletry items since this made my bag much heavier and took up too much space.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

How to plan and prepare for an extended trip to Europe

There’s much to do to plan an 11-week trip through five European countries and being organized makes your trip so much more enjoyable.  Here’s a fairly complete outline of how I did it.

First, I had to decide where I wanted to go.  I began planning in November 2021.  I read Rick Steve’s info, blogs, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, ManinSeat61, and chat forums. I’ve watched lots of Anthony Bourdain, Rick S. and read fictional and historical fiction books based in Europe. Once I decided on the destinations I wanted to visit, I did more logistical research: Which places should be my home base and for how long; what day trips (via public transport, usually train) could I do from those bases; how would I get from point A to point B; which order of travel made sense; and then more micro research: What sites did I want to see in each place, etc. I chose the order of my travel based on the weather…warmer climate first (since I began April 2nd) and cooler climate last (since I flew home on June 20th)

Before I left home:

I made sure all of my bills were set up for electronic auto payment. 

A friend agreed to watch my cat and she fell in love with him.

I had my doctors call in 90-day supplies of my medications. 

I lined up a neighbor to do a weekly check of my condo and bring my mail in. 

I signed up for the STEP program: Alerts about what’s going on in the countries I would be visiting and they would have record of where I was. 

Made a timeline of when I had to purchase train reservations (especially for the scenic Switzerland trains), booked shuttle bus tours for the France Chateaus, transfers, ferry, other transport. 

I messaged the 21 accommodations to let them know of my approximate arrival time. 

I paid $100 extra per month to Verizon for 5 gigs of data, 250 talk minutes, and 1000 texts. 

I purchased trip insurance thru Squaremouth (a search engine to compare the insurances (Tin Leg is who I chose). 

Made photocopies of my passport/Charles Schwab debit card/driver’s license/Capital One credit card/extra debit card from home bank/extra Chase credit card for my backpack and checked bag and had photos of them on my phone and backed up to the cloud. Took photos of my passwords and stored in the cloud.

I’ve had four Covid shots (2 Pfizer/2 boosters)/made photocopies of them, took photos with my phone, and stored in cloud. 

Downloaded regions from Google maps that I’d be visiting for offline use onto my phone. 

Put my 40 page Itinerary onto my phone’s home page for easy access (packed a hard copy). 

I developed Google Map walking routes for 95% of the 40 destinations I’d be exploring and had them on my itinerary. I had the itinerary on my phone’s home page so that I could easily look at it and click on the route the morning of my walk.

Some of the apps I had on my phone: Rail Planner (train travel was made much easier with this), DB Navigator (great for knowing ahead of time which train platform), SBB Mobile (Switzerland) (for platforms), Free Now Taxi service (for Italy and France), Rome2Rio, Google Lens (which was already on my phone – came in handy for translating menus, instructions, etc.) An example is shown below of before and after…

Google Translate (I used this quite often), Libby and Kindle for audible and other books

I made folders on my phone home screen for the apps – Airlines, Lodging (Airbnb and Booking.com), Embassies (Covid), Transport, Get Your Guide (for a couple of tours I was taking).

I’ll go over what I packed and shouldn’t have in another post.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Three months in Europe for less than $12,000

You may think $12,000 sounds like a lot of money for a three month trip in Europe, but it’s actually very reasonable for everything I got to see and do. A few of the ways I saved money included booking accommodations within 5-15 minutes walk from the train station, so that I rarely had to take a taxi. I also purchased convenient and inexpensive food from the grocery store to limit my dining out expenses.

Doing my own laundry was a savings.

Here are the Stats of my trip (April 2 – June 20, 2022):

5 countries (Italy, France, Germany, Greek Islands, Switzerland)

21 accommodations/18 day trips = 40 destinations


12 Planes / 73 Trains / 25 Metros in Paris / 6 Boats / 15 Buses / 6 Taxies / 10 Shuttles / 2 Trams / 400 miles walked


$ 3850 Transport

$ 6100 Lodging

$ 1900 Food / Drinks (restaurants/grocery)

$ 1135 Entertainment/Laundry/Luggage storage

$ 365 Cash spent (food/tips/misc. from ATM withdrawals)

$ 600 Misc (Cat sitter/Verizon phone Int’l use)

$ 975 Trip Insurance

$14,900 Total

$ 3400 Minus what I would’ve spent at home while on trip (Grocery, entertainment, clothing, utilities, vehicle gas & car ins., nails)

$11,500 Grand Total

Not bad for such a long trip and for all of the memories!

Trummelbach Falls

After my hike to Murren and Gimmelwald, I took Bus # 141 (to/from Lauterbrunnen) to Trummelbach Falls before returning to my lodging in Lauterbrunnen. It’s the world’s only glacier waterfalls that are accessible underground by lift, galleries, tunnels, paths and platforms. They carry the meltwater of the glaciers from the Jungfrau down to the valley – up to 20,000 liters of water per second. The water carries with it over 20,000 tons of boulders and scree per year and causes the entire mountain to shudder and make a thundering noise.

The falls are part of the Lauterbrunnen Valley’s 72 waterfalls and are a Unesco World Heritage site. The entrance fee for adults is 14 francs. It’s chilly inside but felt great because I was hot from hiking. It’s difficult to capture the sound and sheer power of the falls with photos alone. I took the elevator up to the 6th floor which is the highest it goes and then walked up to the top (10th level). I checked out the waterfalls from each level (6-10) and then walked back down to the elevator and took it to the bottom. I walked up some separate steps to check out waterfalls number one and two so really I only missed out on falls three – five.

The elevator…

When I planned my itinerary back in November/December, I decided to incorporate one night at the Hilton Hotel by the Airport in Zurich (where I was flying home from the next day) mainly for peace of mind since Covid was still prevalent, and in case of any train issues. On June 19, 2022, I left Lauterbrunnen at 8:00am and took three trains before arriving at the Airport. The hotel shuttle picked me up at 11:30am.

This was a trip of a lifetime! I’ll be posting what I packed, how much the trip cost, and how I planned the trip in my next few posts.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Hike from Lauterbrunnen to Murren and Gimelwald

I took a cable car (there’s one every 30 minutes beginning at 4:08 a.m.)(normally 9 francs..less for me with a Eurail pass) from the Grütschalp station in Lauterbrunnen (next to the Coop grocery)(takes 3 minutes to go up) and then hiked 7 km to the very quaint town of Mürren. There’s also a train if you don’t want to hike. That’s what most people did. The hike from Grütschalp to Mürren was scenic. It took me about an hour and a half but I did stop and have my breakfast/lunch on the way

Murren reminds one of The Sound of Music!

Lovely place to take a break…

People like to have their photo taken here…

Upon arrival in Mürren, there were no signs pointing the way to Gimmelwald, which is where I wanted to go next, so I asked a local and he gave me directions. Mürren is a quaint pedestrian-only Village so it’s quiet. It’s a gradual 1.7 km paved downhill hike to Gimmelwald and it’s more scenic than the first hike although everywhere is scenic.

Gimmelwald is smaller and has more of a local country feel to it.

From Gimmelwald I took a cable car down where there’s a bus every 30 minutes to take you back to Lauterbrunnen. View from the cable car.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Schynige Platte Hike

On one of my three days in Lauterbrunnen, I walked five minutes to take the train from Lauterbrunnen at 8:02 a.m. (there’s one every 40 mins. & takes 15 mins.) to Wilderswil where you take a 50 minute cog train ride to Schynige Platte (76 francs r/t, but with Eurail pass 57 francs). There are four hikes that you can do ranging from 1 hour and 15 minutes to 6 hours, so I chose one that is two and a half hours (#3).

This was my favorite hike of all…the scenery reminded me of a combination of Olympic National Park, Glacier National Park, Alaska, Colorado, Canyonlands, Utah and the Sea to Sky highway on the way to Whistler, Canada. The views of both Lake Thun and Brienz were delightful.

It almost looked mythical…

Wildflowers were abundant…

The hike is a little over six km (6,463 ft. high elevation) and took me two hours.

Taking the cog train…

Views from the cog train were stunning!

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Four nights in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Originally, I was going to take seven scenic train rides (a section of it known as the Golden scenic route) from Zermatt to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, but after having been on 70 trains in the past 10 weeks, I decided to take the shortest route which only took a little over three hours on three trains. Upon arrival in Lauterbrunnen, I had a five minute walk to my lodging. The view of Staubach Falls from my balcony was stunning (photo below)!

I walked towards Staubach Falls taking photos along the way.

The Friedhof Lauterbrunnen cemetery is adorned with flowers and so well kept.

Staubach Falls drops 974 feet (297 metres) from a hanging valley that ends in overhanging cliffs above the Weisse Lütschine.

The falls are lit up at night.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Matterhorn up close

On my second day in Zermatt, which was my birthday, I was at the Gornergrat railroad station by 7:30 am when they opened to purchase a cog train ticket for a 33 minute ride to see the Matterhorn and Gorner Glacier (the 2nd largest in the Alps) and hike to Riffelberg, via the Riffelseeweg trail #21, passing Riffelsee.

I captured this view of the Matterhorn and it’s reflection after hiking 1 ½ hrs. to Riffelsee.

This is Europe’s highest outdoor cog railway at 10,132 ft. My ticket was 103 francs. I think it’s 67 francs each way but since I was walking down part of the way it was less.

Beautiful view of the Matterhorn on the way up…

At the top you have a great view of the Gorner Glacier…

This lady gives a perspective as to how massive the mountains are…

I began the hike up at the top left…

There were two bees hovering by me for most of the hike. I like to think that it was a message from my deceased husband and child that they were with me in spirit.

You can see Riffelsee Lake in this photo and the cog train…

closer to the lake and the Matterhorn…

I was very lucky to have such a beautiful day on my birthday to see the Matterhorn! It got down into the 20s at night, warming up to 39 degrees when I started the hike, and eventually reached the 50s.

I hiked another hour to Riffelberg, where I took the cog train the remainder of the way back down.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Two nights in Zermatt, Switzerland

I arrived in Zermatt at 5:20pm via the Glacier Express train from St. Moritz and walked less than 10 minutes to my lodging. I loved my little apartment (the outside pictured).

The patio was very relaxing.

I preferred the vibe of Zermatt over St. Mortiz. It was a laid back town with beautiful views.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.