Austria: EU Road Trip

So we’re back on the mainland, after playing with the boats, and we’re driving away from Venice, as we’re crossing the SR11 (Bridge?!) from Venice, I notice a very famous train passing by. The Orient Express! Wish I had the time and money to have holidayed on a world famous train, Lee didn’t know what it was sadly.

 

Today was a lot of driving, in fact we where due to spend a very large part of the day on the road, in fact somewhere in the range of 6+ hours, driving.
We agreed while on the boat, that we had done a lot of recent motorway driving, and decided that we would go via the Italian Countryside. and that when we get into Germany we would be doing a lot more motorway… Autobahn driving.

We traveled around the Italian countryside, admiring the towns, villages, vineyards (most of the crop was harvested), Part of our detour from the motorways took us round the foothills of Dolomite mountain. mountains where a good sign for our next country stop. What I hadn’t realised initially is Lee had suggested the detour to visit Ai Pioppi, a human powered playground! We had both heard about it through YouTube.

We arrived to find it was closed as it was classed as the winter period when the park shut. but we still parked up, got snacks from the coolbox and drove on.

We carried on through the mountains, reaching the Austrian boarder.
Initially we planned to stop in Austria for a night, but this would add extra time we didn’t have onto the whole trip. However, we still needed to buy a Vignette to drive on the motorways

Much like Switzerland, Austria was very picture-esque, We had no plan for Austria, apart from driving through it to get to Munich, However we had decided on planning we should take a break in Innsbruck, just to split up our long day of driving. So where better to stop, than half way up a mountain, with views of this;

Innsbruck
Innsbruck

Needless to say, Austria is on my return list. even if I just take pictures like that all day.

The final part of our journey was shorter and took us into the early evening, and it took us across into Germany where we aimed to reach the hotel in Munich.

Italy: EU Road Trip

Now Italy is sort of the half way point on our trip, it’s the furthest point we’re traveling too before heading back towards the UK.

Firstly one notable items about driving in Italy… They LOVE tolls, possibly more than France…
Italy so far has become the most expensive place just to get around.  We had two destinations, Milan and Venice, A few hours after leaving the Swizz boarder and becoming a few Euro lighter in the pocket, we reach Milan…

Milan

Milan is a old feeling city, but famous for being the culture of fashion and design, which explains the abundance of cloths shops, after parking the car a few streets away in a secure attened car park we checked into our nice looking budget(?!) B&B Hotel, It’s comparable to the Premier Inn chain in the UK, just without Lenny Henry….

After ditching the suitcases, we decided to give the car a rest and use public transport, Doing some quick Google’ing I discovered you could download an App for the Milano Transport System ‘ATM’, and purchase a 24 hour ticket for Buses, Trams and the Metro (Underground), It used a QR code that you scanned before entering the Metro system and for other surface transport show the app ticket if requested – Simple, London I hope you’re taking notes!

We had a quick sights trip (quick being the key word here), firstly to Castello Sfozeco, A massive medieval fortress. before jumping on a Tram to see the equally massive cathedral. Next door to the said Milan Cathedral was the GAllera Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the oldest shopping malls in the world, I believe, it’s a very large glass covered shopping Mall, This is where you got a taste of the fashion with all luxury clothing brands Including, but not limited to Mercades, Fararri, Parada along with numerous restaurants of which we decided to enjoy dinner at.

The only thing that ultimately let Milan down was the street vendors, attempting to rip tourists off at every turn, selling selfie sticks, wristbands, scarves, handbags, roses and some silly children’s toys… These con artists were more of these annoying than the people than on London Bridge and Covent Garden put together, They began to get my nerves so much that I didn’t overly enjoy Milan at all.

I was relieved to return to our Hotel and prepare for the next leg of our journey to Venice!

Parma.

Milan to Venice was roughly 3 hour journey, so Lee suggested we check out another section of Italy this time Parma, Home of Ham & Cheese.
This flying visit resulted in a long walk from the carpark to the sort of town center, we saw the Baptistery of Parma, the Cathedral and bought some Parmesan cheese, well it would be rude not to..

Venice

Finally, the ‘furthist’ point of the trip, I booked a hotel on the island of Lido, but didn’t think to pre-book or research the ferry… On the plus side, the car did come to Lido, and it had a 2 night rest… It’s probably thankful to us.

We both agreed as we left the mainland of Euroupe and had sailed across to another island (albeit the same Country) it actually felt we was more ‘on-holiday’ than any other trip.

In Venice boats rule, Lido and the Santa Croce area of Venice are the only places you’ll see cars!

The first night, we arrived late afternoon / early evening so we only wondered around Lido, found food, along with some wonderful Red Wine (Italian Merlot I believe) before going to sleep.
Next day we caught a boat back to the main part of Venice, passenger boats run as regular as buses, there’s loads to pick from. There was much to see in San Marco including a long walk round the islands, we watched the Gondals weaving among the canals, We debated going on one but at €80 for 30 mins this was a bit steep just for us… (If I had been on holiday with a girlfriend, then i’d have a different answer). The public transport / river boat done us fine and for €20 we had a 24 hour pass to use any of the city transport services.
The ticket was like an Oystercard too, simple.

We spent majority of the day in San Marco and ventured across to Murano for lunch, Murano we learned is famous for glass making, the majority of shops selling hand crafted glass items. After lunch and getting lost in Murano then buying Ice Cream we found a boat to take us back to Marco, after another spot of wondering round the maze of walkways we decided to get dinner at a riverside restaurant before catching the boat back to Lido and finding our Hotel.

Where we requested more teabags… Which could have been the most British thing we’ve done this whole trip!

Negativing the ferry back was confusing and fun, The port at Venice had clear markings and a full on ticket barrier and clearly marked lanes.. on Lido you get the barrier and ticket office, but you essentially queue up on the side road next to the ferry entrance!

I was sad we had to leave so soon, but we have more driving ahead of us into Germany!

Luxembourg: EU Road Trip

Our first destination on the road trip was Luxembourg, a historic picturesque city (It looked relatively nice on Google Street View) that’s small and amazingly nice.

We decided to spend 2 nights in this country, but we also booked our room through AirBnB. It’s an relatively new concept whereby you can rent out a spare room / apartment / bed for short term stays, usually undercutting most local B&B’s or Hotels. Our booking was an en-suite room, in the hosts basement with it’s own private entrance, located in Leudelange, just outside of Luxembourg City.

The first thing I noticed when wondering the city was how clean it is. The native language is actually Luxembourgish, which takes aspects of French, Flemish and old Anglish (Anglish, being the basis of English) Majority of people we encountered spoke French and where polite with Hello, Goodbye and Thank You being used in abundance (Although I wish I could remember more french from the years I spent learning it in school)

On the full day of exploring Luxembourg we tried the hire bikes (same system as London’s ‘Boris’ Bikes) before deciding to take a Tour Bus to see the true sights of the New & Old city. After getting an better idea of where things where, we decided to drive across to the New city and enjoy the sights again.

I quite enjoyed Luxembourg, if I had more time I would liked to have visited the museums or gone further across the country.

 

 

EURoadTrip

Would you believe I’m 25 years old and I have never been on a holiday abroad. I have never explored another Country ever (Not counting the school trip to France year ago, I choose to forget that experience through choice).

Actually, I know of people who are older than me and have never stepped foot abroad. I am due to have some annual leave late October / Early November and for the best part of a year, myself and Lee had been talking about going on Holiday. Most likely somewhere in Europe as that’s cheaper than going to the USA, New Zealand or somewhere far, far away.

We decided to start bouncing ideas of places we would like to visit, after-all the Europe is a big place.
My one request was to avoid france, I had very little intrest in staying there, plus Lee had already been ealier in the year. So we both agreed the first stop en-route would be Luxemberg.

Venice was chosen as the  the furthest destination and worked out how many days it would take to get there, we used Furkot  to help plan the trip, it works out the days, and forces ‘rests’ into your journey – Clever stuff!
Now with an idea of places we would be recommended to stop, we started reviewing places we perfered.

Luxembourg (avoiding France), Switzerland, Italy, Germany…

Now we had to narrow the list down to actual places en-route, plus with a few extra places thrown in, Lee suggested Czech Republic, so that went in. I discovered Hammberg had the worlds largest model railway (as a child I went to a few Model Railway exhibitions in London with my dad) so my inner child could be amazed.

From here we have a route… a long, long route… averaging 2500 miles… that’s not including driving round towns and the Cities….

Places to stay

This was inevitably going to be awkard, trying to book places that A) Spoke English, of some degree. B) Had Twin rooms (I’m not sharing a bed with Lee… I snore and i’m greedy with the covers (Ladies, i’m your typical bloke when asleep…)). C) Wasn’t too far from the places we wanted to visit…

I suggested we try Air BnB I remember reading about it, and seeing mostly positive outcomes we decided to book a couple of places, along with a few hotels… We have however, decided to only book 50% of the rooms, just in case we change our minds en-route.

 

So now to pack, get money, and go….