Sunday, May 23, 2010


This is a long one. Are you ready? Maybe you should get a beverage…

Here is our travel route:

Planning your holidays sometimes takes months, sometimes years. For us, we take advantage of the moments. For a while we were thinking of taking a trip at the end of April to some where nice- somewhere warm. Maybe Turkey? Maybe southern France? On a bike ride over to a friend’s house we decided to rent a motor home and drive around Europe for a while. Croatia sounded nice- maybe there? The next day we went to a local RV rental shop and secured a motor home. With some smooth talking, J. was able to get two weeks worth of leave approved, and within a couple days worth of time, we were packed up and on the road.

Day 1

We drove most of the day through Germany. The kids were pretty happy to be in the camper and it was an exciting adventure. We ran into some traffic and having the luxury of a kitchen on our vehicle, we pulled off the autobahn and made our meal on the side of the road. We really didn’t know where we were going to camp, or what to expect. A friend of ours mentioned that when he did a trip similar to ours he camped in large parking lots. The kids were tired and so were we, and we thought that this would be a good idea. Little did we know that our camper had have the gas turned on for the heat to work… and we were camping in Munich. It was cold! Lesson learned… from then on, we stayed in camp grounds.

Day 2

Bike riding...

The next day we woke up early (because we were all freezing) and drove down to Salzburg Austria. We drove through the Alps (literally) and saw that the hills were alive with the sound of music. Southern Germany/ Austria is beautiful. The weather was more then accommodating and we arrived at a camp site near midday. The camp site was on the edge of town and we took our bikes and headed into the city. We spent the afternoon putting miles under our feet and sampling many of the treats the area had to offer. (Giant pretzels may or may not have been sampled more than once.)
View of Saltzberg by bike

Day 3

We left Austria and continued our trek to Slovenia. We were told that we must see the area of Bled and the only island in Slovenia which is on a lake. Lake Bled is situated in the middle of an alpine valley and is surrounded by rolling hills, agriculture and small villages. Actually, I don’t think those were hills that were surrounding the lake- more like steep inclines of torture that J. convinced us to bike up (he was not pulling the trailer by the way). Several times we had to dismount and push our bikes and children up the road so that we could continue on our journey. The countryside was lovely though. We took a pletna-boat ride out to the island in the middle of the lake to view the idyllic church and get a different view of Bled castle and the shoreline. We loved this area of Slovenia so much we stayed here for two nights.

Vintgar Gorge
Day 5

We left Slovenia and made our way further south to Croatia (Hrvatska). I’d heard about Plitvička jezera national park from some travel show that we’d watched. I didn’t research it before we went down there, but mentioned it as we were headed that way, and J. agreed to take us there. With our handy GPS (who is not so handy in Croatia) we made it to the park just in time for closing. Since it was still light, they let us in, and we spent a couple of hours walking around. We camped at a nearby campground and came back the next morning to finish our tour. I cannot do the park justice by describing it- you must see it yourself to realize how awesome this place is. I’ll include a few photos… but if you ever happen to make it near Croatia, go to the park, it’s well worth your time. 

the water was so clear! and the fish so fat!
bread and snails....

Day 6 & 7

Driving in Croatia is not difficult. When your GPS does not have a map of the area you’re in, and you don’t have any maps either, it’s a little daunting. But when you’re driving in a country that has not long ago experienced a war and there are bombed out houses and you don’t know really where you’re at, you may be a little nervous. Not me though. I had complete faith in my driver.

After an afternoon of driving we arrived on the peninsula of Istria. Our point of destination was a beautiful campground on the edge of the Adriatic Sea near the town of Pula. We parked about 30ft from the water and enjoyed the good life for the rest of our stay. There were small pools on the rocks where sea creatures resided and W. and I were able to study them and become fascinated with the life they contained. Another bike ride and we were able to visit the town and see some of the sights. One of the most memorable was the Pula Arena . As an aside: it was pretty difficult to find fresh fruits and vegetables in the tiny grocery stores we stopped at. Being a vegetarian, having your only choice for meals every day be pasta is not something that I was liking. However, we did find a fresh market and were able to acquire some fresh veggies and fruits, which I was so thankful for- until I remembered that I had to load them into the bike trailer with T. and pull them up and over the hills back to our campsite…

Day 8 & 9

We headed up the coast about an hour north and stopped just outside of the town of Poreč‎ at the campground Lanterna. You know that you’re at a popular destination when there are several grocery stores, pools and restaurants located on the grounds. Again we acquired a camp spot that was on the water’s edge and for the next two days soaked up the Croatian sun and explored our tiny piece of paradise. There were not many people at the camp site, so it felt like we had found a fun little neat spot that no one knew about… well at least until camping season officially began.
the favorite past time of our trip- picking flowers!

Day 10

To entice me on this vacation J. said that we could stop in Italy and do a little pottery shopping. (not that I needed any convincing once the word sun and warm weather was mentioned) So we drove up through the rest of Croatia, Slovenia and over to Italy. We sighed as we passed the turn off to Venice (another trip, adults only) and headed up to Nove. Nove is famous for its pottery and it’s the place to go if you want some really sweet deals on items that you probably wouldn’t be able to afford in the states. I was able to spend an afternoon going from shop to shop and being oohed and aahed by the pieces I saw. Meanwhile, J. and the kids were back in the camper sweating and patiently waiting for me to return. J. had decided while we were gone that we were going to camp up near Lake Garda.

So our adventure began. After traveling all day through Italy, the kids who had not been out of the camper much were restless, cranky and tired. I had fed them a little bit of dinner while we were driving, but they didn’t have a complete meal, J. and I were waiting until we arrived at the campsite. With 10 minutes to go (according to the GPS) we started down this narrow little street in a villa without any sidewalks. The street met the edge of the building and there was an alcove for a door. I got out of the RV to help guide J. down this tiny road, and as I got out we put the mirrors in on the sides (our first mistake). As I’m guiding him, I hear a scrape… then another. He is so close to one wall that the awning is rubbing along side of it. The other side of the camper is being caressed by some wicked looking scaffolding. We try to squeeze through a little further…. There’s an intersection just ahead that’s a bit wider… and crack, pop! The scaffolding has caught on the window of the camper and broke it. J. then tells me to run around the rear of the camper to help him back out of this crazy street… I end up running for blocks to be able to get to the rear because there was not even 2 inches between wither side of the camper.

By this point, the kids are screaming, I’m worried, J. can’t get out, and I can’t direct him out. The scaffolding has become entangled with the windows and now we’re afraid we’re going to bring the whole thing down. J. tells me to call the police… I see an old man watching us, and I poorly sign to him to call the police for us. After a bit of confusion, they come and we wedge the children out of the camper. After an hour of phone translations with friends back in Germany, the mob of residents in the street and the police, the fire department shows up. The kids and have had enough and we’re taken to a nearby hotel to sleep and wait for J. Three hours after the ordeal, J. is at the hotel with us, and we’re contemplating our next move.

The next day we see that the camper isn’t too badly damaged (aside from the windows) and we leave Italy and her beautiful lakes that we were only to see from afar and head up to Switzerland.

Day 11

We stopped for the night in a town called Luzern. We weren’t planning on camping in Switzerland when we started our trip, but I think this town was my favorite of all the places we visited on our trip. There was a bus stop right outside of our campground, so we had an easy time touring the city with out our RV. The town it’s self is very European, but different from a lot of the places we’ve been to. There is so much charm in the buildings and I know if we had been there during the day when the shops were open, I would have loved that part of the city as well. There was a fantastic fondue restaurant that we ate at and even the children behaved moderately. The weather in Switzerland was a little cold and rainy, but I won’t hold it against the place. I think that Luzern is defiantly worth another trip to see when we have more time.

Day 12

With all that we had done and gone through, I was ready to go home. So we spent the entire day driving. We passed through the Black Forest in Germany, a few miles of the Maginot Line in France and miles and miles of Princess and the Frog background noise. We arrived home and what a relief it was. The trip was great, but nothing beats sleeping in your own bed.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed traveling with us!

this was the view I saw most of the time.... I think it's been burned into my skull. Now you can see it too!

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