2016 was a big year for Deuce dog – he traveled with me to 10 countries, learned 5 new languages (better than me), and became an official zen master on every form of transportation. I love bringing my best friend along with me as often as possible because he helps me meet new people, discover streets I may not otherwise have wandered down, and keeps me active during our trips as a running buddy. His doggy passport is getting good use – here are the highlights of his 2016 travel itinerary.
Bavaria (Germany) – We started 2016 with new friends in Kiefersfelden, Germany. Deuce dog loves visiting with his Aunti Ami and cousin Spikey in Bavaria. Although it was cold, the first real day of big snowfall happened as we were on the train headed back to Hungary. We went on several beautiful hikes, went for runs in nature and around the lake, and spent time with our friends. In fact, Deuce dog and I love hanging out with our Bavarian friends so much that we returned 2 more times in 2016 – once in July and again in September for Oktoberfest! Spikey and Deuce cuddled (sometimes) play-fought (often), and begged for food (obviously). Deuce’s favorite part about going to Bavaria is getting off his leash and splashing in the creek as Auntie Ami and mommy are hiking in the scenic hills around Ami’s house.
Transylvania (Romania) – Deuce dog and mommy’s first big trip of 2016 was in March to Transylvania by train, because mommy is insane. We took the overnight line from Bekescaba to Brasov and slept not at all. There are bunks on that train, but to book one with a dog you must book the whole compartment. And that’s about a 12 hour train trip (because you spend most of the time waiting at the Romanian border). Thank God Deuce was there to protect me, because that night train was shady as ****. Nevertheless, we arrived to freezing cold weather in Brasov and had a fantastic time. Deuce joined me for the free walking tour (half the time, it was snowing), and we walked all over the city center and up to the fortress on the hill. We also found an amazing healthy restaurant with warm soups and teas which was dog friendly… we went there twice, it was so good! Next, we stayed in a really nice hotel for 2 nights in Sighisoara, Dracula’s home town. We met some really nice people there and spent a lot of time just wandering in the picturesque streets. And finally, Deuce dog charmed a nice South African lady on the train to Sibiu, who treated us to drinks at sunset in the main square to cap off an amazing week of adventure in Romania.
Budapest (Hungary) – Deuce and mommy went to Budapest often in 2016. He’s pretty much an expert at navigating that city by now. When we go, he likes to join me for runs around Margaret Island or in City Park. We jog past the impressive mansions on Andrassy Avenue and around the neighborhood close to the park. He’s also visited his fair share of ruin pubs and stayed up late drinking (water, of course!) and charming the ladies. He enjoys hiking to the top of a Gellert Hill and chilling in the 1000 Tea House. Deuce’s favorite food to beg for in Budapest is any kind of sausage. And tomatoes too.
Debrecen (Hungary) – Summer came to Hungary and Deuce dog helped mommy to miss the fast train to Decrecen and end up on the regional train sweating bullets without A.C. That’s because if a passenger objects to a dog being on the fast train, the conductor can ask you to leave the train. I wish I was making this up, but Deuce dog and I were asked to leave the fast train and board the slow, regional train (even after I bought the fast train tickets). So we finally arrived in Debrecen and Deuce and I enjoyed running 4 miles both mornings. And we also visited a pretty cool dog friendly ruin bar. The trip with Deuce is never boring, that’s for sure.
Vienna (Austria) – Although Deuce travels through Vienna on the way to somewhere else often, we also stopped there for a few days in June. Deuce loved our Airbnb in the residential area near the main shopping street which featured a nice park and a friendly vet just around the corner. The vet gave us all sorts of free treats and told us stories about her days traveling all over Europe by train with 2 big dogs! Our Airbnb host also spoiled him with treats and mind games (like hiding treats in a toilet paper roll). We also spent a snowy night in December just before Christmas, visiting the Christmas markets. Deuce dog enjoyed barking at children throwing snowballs and attempting to pee on the giant Christmas trees in the markets at Stephensplatz and at the Rathaus.
Prague & Ceske Budejovice/ Krumlov (Czech Relublic) – Deuce’s summer tour continued in Prague, where we began our stay at a pub with beer and sausage and a big water bowl for hims. And we stayed with Aunties SJ and Hollie and Binx cat, who have now sadly moved to Thailand. Deuce dog and Binx cat are pretty ok with each other, with just a few fighting incidents. His Aunties helped to take care of Deuce dog when mommy had to take a day trip to Bratislava to get some paperwork done. Deuce and mommy enjoyed several long walks around Vinohrady and were sad to leave our friends in Prague. We took a train to Ceske Budjewice and had a great time staying in a student hostel there! Deuce came out to a whole bunch of breweries with mommy and we walked on the cobblestone streets. We took a day trip to a Ceske a Krumlov and Deuce joined for the free walking tour. Then we walked through the castle gardens with our new friend Ash and headed back into town for more Czech beer. The Czechs give the Germans a run for their money when it comes to having the best beer in the world, and the Czechs win hands down when it comes to best quality for the price. They are also super dog friendly and dogs are allowed almost everywhere, serious points for that.
Zagreb (Croatia) – Although Deuce spent a nice 10 days in Croatia in the summer of 2015, this time we only stayed for only one night to reset mommy’s Schengen Visa. Getting there was most of the fun. After spending 4 days at Samsara Yoga festival, Deuce and I boarded an early train from Budapest. Unfortunately, somewhere just after Balaton our section of the train had problems and everyone had to move into another section of the train so that it could be detached. We spent the next 5 hours sitting on the floor with some Spanish backpackers who had just spent 5 days not showering at Balaton Sound. The AC wasn’t working and I gave all of my water supply to Deuce dog and bought round after round of cold beer… the only way to survive. The train stopped for 20 minutes at one point, when Deuce got off the train and played with all of the festival backpackers and made lots of new friends from all over Europe. In Zagreb, Deucy drank lots of water while mommy enjoyed strukli at the Esplanade Hotel. Then we walked up to the old part of town and relaxed in the parks. And Deucy got lots of love from our sweet couchsurfing host.
Ljubljana (Slovenia) – Deuce and mommy absolutely loved Slovenia! Unfortunately, there was a bit of rain during our visit but that didn’t slow us down. The highlight of our stay there was definitely hiking for 2 hours to the top of the mountain which overlooks the city, grabbing some refreshments at the top, then heading back down through Tivoli park to the city center. We also enjoyed the shorter 15 minute hike up to the castle which sits perched like a guardian over the old town. You can see really far in all directions from up there. When it was really pouring rain, we stayed in and watched Eurotrip with our couchsurfing host. The last night there was a big thunderstorm which resulted in Deucy keeping mommy on high alert all night because it was certainly the loudest thunder we heard during all of 2016. But we both wish we could have spent more time in Slovenia!
Trieste (Italy) – Deuce loved Trieste because of the smell of sea salt in the air and the warm sunshine. We got coffee at an old cafe in the main square and walked along the harbor. Our couchsurfing host took us up to the old castle and in the car to Miramare Castle, the picturesque old castle on the sea about 15 minutes away. We had a big pizza (Deuce got some under the table), then some gelato, and walked back uphill to the apartment. Trieste has lots of hills and the city center is very pretty. Deuce and I spent a full day enjoying life and enjoying being back in Italy together for the first time since the summer of 2015.
Venice (Italy) – Deuce dog and I continued our Italian tour with a stop in Venice. This was Deuce’s first time in Venice and he was constantly trying to go for a swim in the canals. He loved walking down narrow alley ways and sniffing the multitude of smells in the air. We watched the sunset in a burst of colors over Cannareggio and jammed out to the music drifting over the Grand Canal on the steps of the basilica. We had a hard time finding spots to pee (the island is crowded!), but we easily found dog friendly cafes to sip strong coffee. There was fireworks one evening, but Deuce stayed in the hotel with the TV on, and seemed totally fine when I returned from the fireworks show which was about 2 miles away. He managed to take a few dips into the canals and bark at all of the motorized boats. Stick to gondolas, says Deuce dog.
Chiavari (Italy) – The Italian Riviera must be Deuce dog’s version of heaven. He went swimming in the sea and we ran together almost every day for 4 weeks. He joined me for a few hikes on the weekends, although most days the temperature was too high to bring him along. I was watching two kiddos, and Deuce dog loves kiddos. The kids played with him, putting on socks and a tiara. He is so patient with them even when they’re grabbing his ears or yelling at him to do something in Italian. He got extra food from the 6 year old boy and extra exercise from the dad, who enjoyed taking him for walks or runs. He cooled down on the floor tiles during the day and slept on the big bed with me every night. He joined me for evening strolls to get gelato and to partake in the traditional Italian “passeigata”. Because really, mommy and Deucy are actually Italians at heart.
Lake Como (Italy) – Deuce also felt completely at home with Lake Como. Our first stop after getting off of the train in Varenna was the doggie beach, where we found a big stick to throw into the water again and again. Deuce jumped through the waves to retrieve the stick time after time. Once he started to get a little tired, we took him on the ferry to Mennagio. Later in the day, we went for a walk and again Deuce played in the lake with a big stick for a long time. The next day we took the ferry to Bellagio and again, he cooled down in the water, retrieving his stick and swimming until his poor doggy legs were exhausted.
Amsterdam (Netherlands) – Deuce and mommy traveled by train (mostly) from Chiavari to Amsterdam in August because, again, mommy is insane. To keep things interesting, mommy decided to book 2 seats on a blabla car ride share to get from a Milan to Zurich. There was plenty of time, until we got stuck on the side of the highway in Switzerland for 3 hours and spent another 2 hours creeping along at 15 miles per hour. A bad accident made the trip take almost 6 hours longer than expected and we made it to Zurich with only about 20 minutes to spare before our overnight train left. Once again, we didn’t get a bunk bed since it is required to book the entire cabin, and we slept not at all with all of the summer backpackers getting on and off of the train. Once in Amsterdam, we stayed out in Osdorp with Carlos and that was fun. We went on lots of walks and a few runs. We played fetch with the Chunk It ball launcher every day, usually 2 or 3 times per day. Deucy got a new uncle, Uncle Klassy, who took him out for a few walks along the canals. We went back to Amsterdam in December for our holiday break. That time we didn’t take an overnight train, because mommy is getting smarter little by little. Since the weather in the Netherlands was about 20 degreees warmer than in Slovakia at this time, Deucy took mommy for a run almost every day in the Eastern Docklands for anywhere between 4 and 8 kilometers. We also took a couple of long walks out to Flevopark to play with the ball launcher. Luckily, Deucy didn’t fall into any canals.
Bratislava (Slovakia) – Mommy had to go to an orientation program for her Fulbright year in Bratislava and Deuce dog came along too to stay in the fancy hotel. In the mornings, we took walks around the neighborhood and down to the river. Deucy made a few guest appearances as the unofficial mascot of the 2016-2017 program. He also enjoyed an evening walk to see the Bratislava Light Festival. Dogs are allowed into most of the pubs, cafes, and breweries in Bratislava, although definitely not all. Deuce is now getting really tired of that obnoxious ringing noise in the Bratislava train station because we travel through there often.
Brno (Czech Republic) – Deucy and mommy made a return trip to the Czech Republic via car with Auntie Andrea in December to visit the Christmas markets in Brno. Although Deucy spent several hours at the hostel on Saturday during the day, on Saturday evening he joined us for a night out on the town. We started with local craft beers at a famous pub, where he charmed the children at the next table. Then we walked through the Christmas markets to grab dinner at the Lucky Bastard brewery, where he sat on the bench next to me because he thinks he is a human. We capped the night off with rum at Cubana, Deuce drifting off to sleep on the bench beside me. On Sunday, Deuce joined us to walk to the top of the hill to see the castle, then he was a good boy in the car the whole way home.
Author’s Note: Although I love traveling with my dog and wouldn’t want my European travel experience to be any different, there are certainly challenges and difficulties which arise when traveling with him which wouldn’t exist if I was traveling alone or with other humans. So traveling with a pet is certainly not for everyone. You must be ready to not only take care of yourself but also another being who is entirely dependent upon you during the sometimes stressful travel process. You have to pack for 2, provide food for 2, and find accommodations which are dog friendly. In my opinion, the rewards far outweigh the challenges, but I know that not everyone would agree. So I suggest carefully weighing your personal balance before bringing your pet along. I also really want to stress that I could never be a good dog mom to Deuce without help (a whole lot of help). Thus, in the next section I want to acknowledge all of those people who’ve made traveling with my best friend possible in 2016.
With Special Thanks to: all the countless friendly faces on trains across Europe who have given food and love to Deuce dog, who have watched him while I go to the restroom, and who have helped me to keep him calm and entertained while traveling. All of the Couchsurfing and WorkAway hosts who have opened their homes and allowed Deuce dog to stay with me. All of Deucy’s Aunties and Uncles who help me not only when we are traveling but also when I travel alone without him…
Auntie Ami… who Deucy loves because she joins him for walks in Bavaria. Also, she’s his best buddy Spikey’s mommy, so that makes her pretty special indeed.
Auntie Andrea… who brings Deucy in her car to adventures all over Slovakia, like the night run in Zvolen and ski touring at Chopok. She also takes him for walks and play time with his friend Ozzy when mommy is out of town.
Auntie Darina… who has never traveled with Deucy, but has watched him in her house on several occasions when mommy has been traveling. She also takes him for long walks in the Forrest near her house.
Aunties SJ & Hollie… who are the mommies of Deucy’s best cat friend Binx, and who helped mommy to take care of Deuce when she had to take care of some work paperwork.
Uncle Saba… who also has never traveled with Deuce but has watched Deuce at his house while mommy has traveled on several occasions, along with Deuce’s best doggie girl friend.
Uncle Klassy… who watched Deucy for a night so that mommy could plan a surprise evening with Auntie Caitlin and Carlos. And who is really patient with Deucy whenever we visit.
My Italian WorkAway family… who basically adopted Deuce as their own dog for four weeks last summer. The kids played with him and gave him lots of treats. Fabrizio walked with Deuce and the whole family took care of Deuce when mommy went on some long weekend hikes.
Carlos… who is now Deucy’s doggie daddy. The same guy who said he’d never let Deuce onto his bed now cuddles with him all the time. Carlos picks Deuce up and carries him around like a baby, then wrestles with him in the way that only boys can.
And that’s a short summary of Deuce dog’s 2016 adventures. Deuce started off 2017 with mommy in Amsterdam, and is looking forward to a trip to the Northwest of Slovakia for a Fulbright conference in late January. He’s also excited to pick up doggie daddy in Bratislava on February 1. Then, he’ll chill in the ski resort in Krompachy during early February. He’ll head back to Chopok (no skiing this time) in mid February with doggie grandma. Then he’ll help mommy show doggie grandma around Bratislava and navigate down to Budapest. He’ll head to a new doggie hotel for mommy’s Spring Break, then join mommy and Carlos in Vienna in late March. Another trip to the Czech Republic is also in the works, and who knows where else 2017 will take Deuce dog and I?! I’m very fortunate to have a doggie best friend who is an amazing traveler and who enhances my travel experience in every location that we journey to together.
For more info and advice about traveling with your pet, check out my upcoming article in the February 2017 issue of 008 magazine!