Monday, June 13, 2011

Road Trippin' -- European Style

After months of planning we finally completed our European road trip. My sister and her husband were visiting Europe for the first time and I wanted them to see as much as they could during their stay. 

The distances between destinations weren't that far (we drove from south Germany to Croatian coast with stops along the way), but of course the reality was we were driving in new territory and it wasn't always so clear where we had to go (usually when it came to finding our hostel or hotel).  The timing was great because there weren't so many tourists yet but that also meant the weather wasn't peak yet either (the water was still a bit too cool and it rained almost every day, but luckily only a short time).

Our some 2000 km drive included stops in 1)Bled, Slovenia  2) Krk Island, Croatia 3) Plitvice National Park, Croatia 4) Ljubljana, Slovenia and 5) Salzburg, Austria.

Some things learned along the way?

-If you need to have an automatic transmission, it can be hard to get a rental company that can guarantee the car--with a tip from a friend, we had luck reserving a car from a rental company at the airport.

-The downside to the airport rental is that (at least in Germany) there is a 20% airport/train station fee. :( Somehow the sales representatives "forgot" to mention that when we booked the car on the phone.

-GPS is not as crucial as you might think.  Our car didn't have one (and after the additional airport fee, we decided to do without renting the GPS which would have been an additional 50 Euros for the week) and we did perfectly fine.  I picked up a map of the region we were traveling to and it was pretty easy for most of the drive.  In addition, once we were in Croatia, we could pick up lots of local maps at the tourist information centers for free.  And in my humble opinion, I don't think the GPS would have even managed to guide us through all those back roads in Croatia anyway without getting us lost.

-If you are going to Croatia, exchange your Euros for Kunas in Croatia!  The exchange rate is infinitely better and you can practically do it everywhere.

- Being flexible is key on a road trip.  Believe it or not, we had originally planned one last destination in the south of Germany for the last day of our trip--but by day 7 we were exhausted and I think being flexible and free to cut (or add) destinations along the way is best.

Although it was a bit exhausting (even with three drivers), I have to say it was an incredible trip!

Have you ever done a Euro-Trip by car?  Where did you go and what was it like?

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