An entire month in a city (sweet Paris) had us itching to see some views, so before heading to Florence, we made a pit stop in Switzerland to do a multi-day hike the Alps, because yes, please! After staying a night with friends in Bern, we started our hike in Engelberg, shuffling along for the next few days, up and down and up and down and up and down. We then deposited ourselves in Grindelwald, where we proceeded to train back to Bern and promptly collapse on our friends' couch.
Turns out, hiking the Alps is hard. Yes, duh. But also, whoa! I do NOT remember hiking trails (AT, PCT, etc) being this difficult. However, what was the actual hardest thing Travis and I have ever physically done was also the most visually rewarding. It. Was. Gorgeous. I can't even begin to explain how stunning this world is.
Because we were hiking a few weeks before the actual Alpine season began, we were alone for 85% of the time. Just us, taking our small steps across snowy passes hiding the trail, beside peaceful streams with crystal clear water, and always, always amoung towering mountains. The feeling is humbling, terrifying and awe-inspiring. At the end of the hike, our bodies felt wrung out, but our eyes and hearts were filled. The Alps make you feel like the tiniest person in the biggest world.
Moving onward, we spent the next month in Florence, Italy. Ready and waiting for a Tuscan summer, we proceeded to fill our days with marble statues, cold prosecco and dusty hillsides.
Breaking News: Italy Hot in Summer. As we tried to not melt, we explored the beautiful countryside, stuffing our faces with proscuitto and admiring the white and green tiles of literally every church. While in Florence, we spent time exploring our neighborhood, the Oltrarno, ingratiated ourselves into locals' lives, watched the parades and fireworks for San Giovanni (July 24th, a celebration in honor of their patron saint, John the Baptist), and eventually crossed the river to explore the artwork that epitomizes Florence.
Also determined to get out of the city as much as possible, we explored Sienna; did an Airbnb Experience where we cooked and dined with other travelers from all over the world as the sun set over the Tuscan hills; awed at the Tower of Pisa (it leans SO MUCH); and finally went wine tasting in Chianti and Montepulciano.
In the end, I think the tourism and sightseeing of the last 3 months has burnt us out. Italy is beautiful, to be sure. However, I think we are seeking places a little less crowded and a lot more low-key. We celebrated our 1 Year of Traveling while in Italy, which is such an awesome accomplishment. There are so many things we've learned, observed, assessed and maneuvered. (I might write a post on all the things we learned in our first year, actually.) And yet, we're still figuring out what we like, what we want to do and how we want to spend our time. What I love about this lifestyle is that we're constantly changing, growing and moving. And I wouldn't change it for the world.