SPON­TA­NEOUS EUROPE

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The cou­ple: Karen Kris­tian Beiler and Justin Beiler, mar­ried June 6, 2015, in Lan­caster, Penn­syl­va­nia, Justin’s home­town. Each the child of mis­sion­ar­ies, this Spring­field, Mis­souri– based cou­ple started globe-trot­ting early: Karen grew up in Tokyo, while Justin, the co­founder and owner of a coffee com­pany, spent his teen years in Vi­enna. The plan: Three weeks in Europe—just the new­ly­weds, a rented Opel sta­tion wagon, and the open road. Shortly af­ter ty­ing the knot, they took off for their first stop, Bu­dapest, where Justin had a work meet­ing. “We had no time to plan where to go,” says Karen, a wed­ding pho­tog­ra­pher, so they flew (er, drove) by the seat of their pants, de­vel­op­ing their itin­er­ary in tran­sit. Go-to book­ing sites: Even though Justin says they were “pre­pared to sleep in our car,” that never hap­pened, thanks to Airbnb and the HotelTonight app, both ideal for last-minute stays. The best finds: Vi­enna’s chic Ruby Sofie ho­tel (from $92.50 per night; ruby-ho­tels.com) and the bed-and-break­fast Val d’Or­cia Pian di Meta-Mezzo in Tus­cany (from $91 per night; airbnb.com). “The B and B was in a re­mote, beau­ti­ful place, and the host cooked a five­course meal,” Karen says. Fa­vorite dis­cov­ery: The cou­ple quickly came to ap­pre­ci­ate the perks of driv­ing, which let them dis­cover quaint coun­try towns they oth­er­wise wouldn’t have found, in­clud­ing Radda, in Chi­anti, Italy. “We got to see ev­ery­day life,” says Justin. “That’s the part of travel I en­joy.” Alpine ad­ven­ture: Af­ter ex­plor­ing Bu­dapest and Vi­enna (in­clud­ing a visit to Justin’s child­hood home), they headed to the Aus­trian Alps, with stops in Hall­statt and Zell am See. They didn’t let the cold and rain stop them from tak­ing a ski lift to the area’s high­est peak in Salzburg. “At one point you’re in the clouds, then sud­denly you’re above it all and can see the moun­tain­tops,” Justin says. Lessons learned: Stay pos­i­tive! On a trip as im­promptu as this, there are bound to be ups and downs, such as when the two re­turned to their room in Rome to find some­one else in it! “Even when the ho­tels were not ideal, it be­came a funny mem­ory,” says Karen.

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