Europe | 1 Month Road Trip
Distance: 4,500km (direct to each place)
Note: Details about what we did in each city/country are not included, they can be found following the links on each location.
Locations are in bold.
In 2015 myself and good friend Adam embarked on an epic road trip through Europe in my car at the time, a white Ford Fiesta Zetec S (Mountune Upgrade). We had a plan to visit 12 countries over roughly 4-5 weeks but that, as you will read, didn’t go fully to plan. We got Adam insured on my car for a month so we could share the long drives.
Amsterdam – Berlin – Prague – Vienna - Krk – Rijeka – Venice – Milan - Monte-Carlo –
Annecy - Les Gets/Morzine – Frankfurt or Brussels – Amsterdam
We began our trip from my house in Stonehaven, driving down into England to catch the ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam, our first proper stop. The ferry cost £120 for a 2-man overnight cabin, including the car. Once we got onto mainland Europe we drove to and parked at the Olympic Stadium which had a long stay caprpark. From here we took a tram to our hostel, The Uptown Flying Pig.
After about 3 days in Dam, we headed for Berlin (650km). We had a good few nights in Berlin, although I felt it was quite a spread out place not really having a central hub. Still we went to the main sites, cycled around and shared a room with two Australian tattoo artists who turned out to be rather famous (Pari Corbett). A lot of Germany is made up of autobahn roads, where there are no speed limits and sometimes 5 lanes of traffic. It sounds daunting, but it was actually a great system – people knew what lane they should stay in so it ran smoothly. The only cars in the fast(est) lane were BMW or Audi saloon cars driven by businessman. Great experience.
From Berlin we went to Prague (350km), again for about 3 nights I think. Prague is one of my favourite cities I’ve been to, with lots to see and do as well as much having a good vibe. We met a Canadian guy in our hostel and did some exploring with him. Having been to Prague before I kind of new my way around. We walked up a hill just across one of the rivers on the outskirts of town and watched the city for a while.
Next was a long ass drive to Krk, Croatia (855km) via a nice viewpoint to see the sunset over Vienna. Krk is the biggest of the Croatian islands, yet it is quite unknown. To be honest neither of us had any idea at all what to expect. When we arrived it was pitch black, we were low on petrol and both of our phones had died and stupidly we had no chargers in the car. So when we awoke from our sleep in the car having absolutely no idea where we were, the view was quite surprising. We were in a small car park right beside a bay with a long, very picturesque pier no wider than my wingspan going out for about 300m.
It turns out this was the place we spent most time – about a week I think. We stayed in a caravan park in our tent. It was here that I foolishly left my phone on charge in the campsites toilet block and when I went back to check after about 30mins – gone. Brilliant! Being quite unknown, it was really nice walking through empty streets with our camera just seeing what we could see. It was the perfect place for a lazy beach type holiday.
Carrying on, we continued up the Croatian coast to its 3rd largest city, Rijeka (46km). I think we stayed for 4 nights in 1 World Hostel. This hostel was such a good find. The décor was spot on from a travellers point of view and each bed had curtains. I can’t really explain why but it was just a cool place and the guy on reception was helpful. Here we met a Canadian girl and went for some walks with her. We went along the 1km pier and up a hill where there was a ruined castle which was pretty sick for sunset.
Next was Venice (231km). Venice was somewhere I’d always wanted to go, but on arrival I got the same feeling I get in a lot of places. You see heaps of pictures of Venice canals, quiet rivers and just a sense of calm. I dunno if it’s just me being naïve but it wasn’t like this. What the photos obviously don’t show you is the amount of tourists that enter and exit daily and how busy the streets and canals really are. It’s an awesome place, with the rivers being the “main roads” and it was very pretty. I guess I just always expect too much for these world famous places. There’s probably a quieter time of year – should of researched more.
Venice – Les Gets via dinner in Milan (558km). After Venice we headed north towards Les Gets in the French Alps having decided Monte-Carlo would be too expensive. We stopped in Milan for some dinner so we didn’t really see any of Milan. We drove for a few hours into the Alps until it got really late so we slept in the car in a lay-by. When we woke up, just like in Krk, we were surprised by where we were. The lay-by was in a large valley surrounded by green mountains – it was a pretty nice view to wake up to (see photo at the top). From here we drove the rest of the way to Les Gets, a small place where my family had owned a chalet for many years. We went and took a selfie at the door of Chalet Tintin and looked around town for somewhere to charge our phones. It began to rain so we found shelter and sat on a roof for lunch before continuing on.
By this point we were both slowly losing motivation because of not having a GPS, in-car charger and financially we were stressed. So, from Les Gets we stopped briefly at Chamonix to look at Mont Blanc and then went North, skipping Annecy and going to the Swiss town of Berne (167km). It was in Berne, whilst in Burger King, that we decided we were too poorly prepared and just unmotivated to continue. We slept in the car and the next day we hot-footed it through Switzerland and Belgium back to Amsterdam (840km), spending another few nights in the Flying Pig before catching the ferry home about 2 weeks before we had intended to.
Not long after we arrived home my car had some serious mechanical problems, some of which began while we were away. It had to be sold about a month after getting home.
In summary, it was an awesome trip and we saw and did some incredible things. What let us down/things to learn from are below:
• no GPS
• not having a fully thought-through itinerary
• petrol prices were unexpected
• mechanical problems with the unreliable Fiesty
• parking in cities is not cheap
• don’t be too ambitious
In a way, i’m glad some things happened because I can take it as a learning curve and be more prepared for future road trips.