The European Summer Adventure Series

So I have been dragging my feet on HOW IN THE WORLD AM I GOING TO WRITE THIS post, but here it is.  I started planning my 17-day road trip back in I think either January or February.  I had the inclination that I was going to be a Big Girl and do this trip ALL BY MYSELF… with the kids of course, but that changed at the very last minute.  In fact, my friend, Jennifer (yes we have the same name) and her daughter decided to tag along 2 weeks before the big departure.  And get this … we had only known each other for 2 weeks.  I kept having things go through my head… oh boy.. she is going to hate me forever, BUT we bonded significantly over our road trip and we have already planned another trip together next month to Denmark and Sweden.

The first part of the road trip was making our route.  The main reason of our trip was going to our favorite place, the Pine Beach Resort in Pakostane, Croatia so I made our route that had that as the center of attention.  As we sneaked closer and closer to to our departure date I made a road trip checklist.  Of course if we didn’t have everything we could always get those items while on the road.. in which we did.. several times.  I did change many aspects of our road trip as we inched closer to the date: (1) not taking the dogs and (2) not camping at every location… because it was HOT.

So let’s start this rodeo!

Austria

We left on the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL… would I recommend this?  Nope. Not at all.  The next day would have been a LOT better for us.  We were supposed to only drive 6 hours to Zell am See, but well.. that didn’t happen.  We were stuck in stop and go staus (German for traffic) and it took us almost 10 hours to arrive to Sportscamp Woferlgut (I booked our site via EuroCamp German site) and we arrived around 11pm.  Which really sucked for us since the gate closed at 10pm and we had to tiptoe to our campsite (yes we camped) with 4 sleeping kids and some of our gear we had to walk in the pitch dark to get to our tent.  Though the site was very nice… and quiet.  It had a nice playground area for the kids, small (tiny) grocery store, and a restaurant (we didn’t eat there).  This would be a great place to stay if you were travelling to Salzburg (1 hour away) and to ski! Since this location was just our temporary stomping grounds and we were there in low season we were not able to take advantage of all the of their amenities.

*Note: Do bring a light jacket. It was pretty chilly while we were there and an umbrella too!

#Austria

Beautiful Austria!

What To Do in the Area: 

  • While in Austria, we had reservations to do the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg and you can see that review HERE.
  • Sommerrodelbahn in Kaprun was a TON of fun.  Though the price tag is quite high, but there are a few things to do such as the playground and the slides (1 euro each).  There is also a restaurant, but they only accept cash.
  • And well… SHOPPING! Lots of shopping!
  • CASTLES! Wow we saw so many of them.
  • Outdoorsy stuff that we didn’t do, but it is there.

Slovenia

After spending 3 nights in Austria we loaded back up and headed to Lake Bled in S-LOVE-nia.  Love is an understatement.. Wow! It is a beautiful country and you MUST add it to your European bucket list.  I personally wish we would have spent more than 36 hours in this amazing country.  Of course we had to check out Lake Bled.  Wow! Wow! Wow!

We decided to check out Bled Castle which gave boastful views of the beautiful lake.  The castle is very nice, but unfortunately it is only the grounds that you can explore. The Castle also has a souvenir shop, metal shop (which is neat, BUT they only accept cash) and a cafe.

From the Castle we headed to our farmstay retreat.  We drove through beautiful little villages and I must say my partner in crime, Jennifer, was a bit hesitant… we WERE driving into the middle of nowhere. But! Wow! We were certainly surprised. Our hosts were absolutely amazing and treated us like we were family. Our kids had the best time of their lives playing around the farm.  Checking out their cows, the chickens (even fresh eggs in the morning), their adorable kittens (I almost thought we were going to bring one home), and feeding the goats.  It was for sure a child’s wonderland.  It really reminding me as a kid going to my grandmother’s house and playing around in the barn.  Though unfortunately I wish we would have stayed MUCH longer as one night is and WAS not enough for this paradise.  *Note: They only accept cash payment.

Croatia

From Slovenia you wove through the mountains and along beautiful streams to Croatia. And when I said wove I certainly mean it.  I think I was driving below the speed limit and the rain certainly did not help.  But it was a very nice drive. I wonder if the drive to Zagreb would have been faster?  Next time! Though I must say if you are going through the customs gate into Croatia and have an American (or large) SUV… stop before the window and let them know you might hit the gate.. yup.  That is something I did. I barely tapped it and was yelled at.

13450912_10209878542229022_722152894778040985_nWe arrived to Pine Beach resort around 5pm and you can read ALL about that portion HERE.  Also while we were at Pine Beach Resort, we went on an excursion to the Plitvice National Park.  I have put also my review of Krka National Park in with that post.  We did make one more stop on our journey and that was Split.  Here is another city where I wish we had more time in.  I must say that if you are going to go to Split.. go when it is cooler.  I think I melted to a drip as it was boiling.  Split was actually our hub for our ferry crossing.  We “sailed” Split to Ancona, Italy overnight via BlueLine Ferries. It was a great experience and my children absolutely LOVED it.  Would I do it again? YES! Note: They do stamp your passport going into Croatia by car.

What To See

Go to Zadar! Check out the Sea Organ & Salute to the Sun

Plitvice National Park

Krka National Park

Go to the Beach

Sightsee

Awesome slide inside the mall!

Awesome slide inside the mall!

From Pine Beach, we went to Split where we spent a good 36 hours at.  Our apartment was not very impressive.  If it were not for no toilet paper, dirty towels and dishes it wouldn’t have been so bad.  Though there was an awesome mall nearby, City Center One.  Your kids will love the slide inside of it! Dicholan’s Palace was amazing! Though it was VERY hot while we were there.  That is why we went to the mall. Oh yeah… the mall has childcare AND there is a Gymboree (it is under another name though, but it very close to the childcare).  I spent a pretty penny there since they had a BOGO sale.

Italy

Whoohooo! This is our second leg of our 17-day road trip! We arrived in Ancona, Italy at about 7am and we were already disembarked by 7:30 and on our happy go-lucky way. It does go by very quickly.  It took about 5 hours to drive to Camping Fabulous near Rome.  It is such a great location! We booked via Canvas Holidays and we had booked a tent, but since it was so hot we requested that we upgrade to a cabin (which we were able to get). This resort is amazing! Has EVERYTHING that your family needs! It has an amazing pool, decent sized grocery store, childcare (yes please), several bars, restaurants, and excursions.

Storytime:

While I was in the store one day a lady told me about the Rome by Night tour since during the day it is so hot.  Please keep in mind that even though the tour leaves at 7pm it is still PLENTY light outside since the sun do not go to bed until almost 11pm in Europe.  And in Rome it was still plenty warm as well.  The tour was about approximately 4 hours long.  The tour bus takes you all over Rome.  It is part bus tour and parking walking tour… so be sure you bring your tennis shoes… or trainers…. or sneakers.  Whatever you may call them as it IS a lot of walking. It was an amazing tour and I learned quite a bit more about Rome! Apologies for the blurry images as we were on a bus for part of it.

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Push it Michael!!!

Our next stop in Italy was Pisa.  I was hoping we would be able to see the Leaning Tower that day, but we ran out of time since we were having such a difficult time finding our accommodations which was already 45 minutes away from the tower.  We ended up having to contact the host to come and find us.  The accommodation was very nice! It was very shaded and had a wonderful pool. The room had 2 bedrooms which was perfect for the 6 of us.  It also boasted a beautiful patio which we enjoyed a delicious Italian meal, spaghetti Ragu, prepared by the Host’s mom and you can not get more authentic than that! Funny thing is that the kids say that their favorite part of our trip was when I jumped into the pool with my clothes on and they followed suit. Best day ever?! Yes! The sucky part about this accommodation was that there was this psycho duck going ballistic all night long.  It reminded me of Donald Duck. Note: The accommodation accepts cash only.  The Leaning Tower was very neat, packed and hot.  We parked in a lot about 2 blocks away and made our way over.  It was a lot of fun watching the kids and other people try to “push” the tower.

Switzerland

Driving from Pisa into Switzerland was another long drive (6 hours), but we made it! Our accommodations was at the Dachsen am Rheinfall also known as Schloβ Laufen which sits on top of a waterfall! How dreamy is that?!  There is not very much to do in this area so it would be perfect as just a one night trip or even a day trip. Check out our review!

Trip Details

Drive Time- 40 hours+ (driving the entire time)

Tolls and Gas- $1000 -/+ << All the gas stations and toll booths accept credit card and cash!  In Croatia they accepted Euro as well.

Vignettes Needed- Austria and Switzerland.  There are tolls in ALL countries except Germany (our origin)

Currency: All countries but Switzerland and Croatia use the Euro.  Switzerland uses the Swiss Franc and Croatia uses the Kuna.  I recommend pulling currency out at the airport or a bank.

Conclusion

So after 16 nights all over southern Europe we made it home back to Germany and survived the crazy European drivers.  Would I do it again? YES! Yes I would.  With or without kids.  Should you do it? YES!

Thank you so much for taking your time to read about our summer adventure.  You are more than welcome to ask questions below or add your own feedback!

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