Another fantastic adventure which I've now finally finished writing up. We were both truly exhausted and I had to go to work the next day! Our route worked out surprisingly well with only short journeys required during the halfway point. Only thing lacking was sandy beaches!

Total Distance Covered: 3182 miles

Average MPG: 38.61

Litres of petrol: 399.09L

Total Cost of Fuel: £494.63

Average Cost of Fuel: £1.239 per litre

Average miles per day: 109.7miles

Total cost spent on equipment getting ready:

Costs during road trip:

Total cost of road trip (All costs included):




18 & 19/07/13

beer festival?




The buildings in Dresden were really rather spectacular. The archeticture was intricate and it was all kept looking pristine (just like everywhere in Germany). The most impressive thing about Dresden, however, was the fact that not too long ago it was almost completely flat. Apparently it was a prime target for allied bombers and they really were quite sucessfull in destroying the place. The Germans had this place back to its former glory in less than 50yrs!

Trams, trams everywhere and all painted yellow

Recreated tile artwork stretched further than I could get in a picture

Super cute kitten took a particular like to us



Kostnice Ossuary - Czech Republic.

After seeing this in a Czech guide book we decided to head back on ourself to go and see it. What a bizarre experience it was. Thousands of victims from the great plague bones arranged in a decorative manner around a church. Not sure I entirely agree with people digging up human remains, disinfecting their bones, then using them for art but it was fascinating.

That is indeed a chandelier...

and a coat of arms..

Our guide book said these were all war heroes who died in battle (presumably burried with their weapons?). The dents in their skull were all battle wounds and apparently some of them survived (you could tell if the skull had attempted to heal itself).

Here's the outside. We had the option to buy a human skull for 30E. We opted not to.



We spent the whole day in Prague and headed first for the Old Town Square, we spotted a woman with a T-shirt saying 'Free Tour - English' so we decided to tag along thinking we could drop out whenever we liked, although we stayed for the whole 2 and a half hours in the end because we enjoyed it so much. Afterwards we walked around the Jewish Quarter, in which there were several immaculately preserved synagogues which was a shock, however, we found out that Hitler had intended tokeep this area as museum of an extinct race. One of the Synagogues had every wall decrated with the names, date of birth and date of death of the Czech Jews that were killed. The walls were all absolutely covered in tiny inscriptions and the ammount of names written there was absolutely staggering. Upstairs there was an exhibition that was particuarly moving, it was full of drawings



The guidebook recommended a little town called Brno in Czech Republic and given that we were passing by it on our way to Prague we thought we'd stop off for some lunch. The guidbook itself branded it as 'slightly underwhelming after prague', granted it was nothing spectacular but we had a nice lunch in the sun. After finding a nice little guesthouse on the outskirts of Prague we decided we were ready to grapple with the Underground sytem. After, failing to understand any of the ticket information and with no-one there to ask we ended up having a free ride. Although we have no photos we spent the evening in Prague. Unforunately Prague didn't seem one to particurly cater for vegetarians, in fact, in the words of a Prague resident herself she said 'the Czechs eat pork, pork, more pork... oh, and sometimes chicken'. On every corner there seemed to be pigs turning on spitroasts which the restauants served. After dinner we found an 'English Pub' which sold Walkers crisps and was plastered with posters of the Queen, the Beatles and other English emblems.



*please refer back to the 9th, it has now been updated*

Today was Vienna! It is such an elegant,beautiful city and we both fell in love with it.

This is the oldest church in Vienna

We went in the Freud museum and got to have a look around his house





After the crowded, touristy streets of Budapest, Bratislava (capital of Slovakia), seemed dull and lifeless. We followed the guidebook's recomendation to the top attraction - the castle. After walking around the outside we started to think that it didn't look that old at all - my thoughts were confirmed after reading an information board stating the castle was completely reconstructed in the 1950s after a serious fire.

The next best attraction was the bridge - it was lovely, but after a few pictures there wasn't much more to do so we set off towards Vienna (capital of Austria)

After entering Austria we both felt a huge sense of relief. The road surface and driving improved dramatically, the people were fall less scary, the number plates all had the EU stars and we started to see familiar shops/petrol stations. It really felt like we had come home!

We celebrated with a nice meal in a beer garden close to Vienna



Happy Birthday Amanda!!! Today we planned to have a nice relaxing day walking around Budapest. We visited the public bathes which were fantastic. The water in one of the pools was a toasty 38C and there were a number of locals playing chess at the side - Amanda managed to get a game with one of them but lost :(

Afterwards we decided to get a traditional Thai massage - basically a Thai woman stands on your back, pulls your arms and just in general tries to hurt you. We were told before we started it would be stress relieving but not relaxing - I concurred - Amanda declared it was the worst thing she'd ever experienced. lol.

Budapest public baths were very touristy but relaxing.

Cave chapel was something unusual. Water springs running through the rocks kept the inside at a pleasant 20C throughout Summer and WInter.

On top of the cave chapel:




After the short 2hr drive to Budapest it became apparent that finding a hotel to stay in over Amanda's birthday with a place to put the car would not be easy. The roads were manic and very stressful and parking seemed near impossible. After a while we came across a rather tight underground car park. After walking around asking we eventually found a 4* hotel with a roof top car park, pool, sauna. Despite apparently being a recently renovated room this device (maybe a radio?) was under both bedside tables.

Liberty Bridge




I woke up to a rap-rap-rapping at the door, looked over and realised Alex wasn't there and looked around and he was no where to be found. So after a long time of ignoring the knocking I decided to actually go to the door. The lady whose apparment we were staying in was standing at the door with a tray with lots of toast and jam on it and a big teapot. She said that she had brought us breakfast because 'we were so lovely and she wanted to treat us'. After thanking her I went back into the appartment and found a note on the table 'Manda, walked down to the shops to buy some breakfast'. That's why getting up early doesn't pay off.

When we left that day the lady and her husband both wished us goodbye warmly, she wanted a hug from us both and told us how lovely we both were (just saying) and that if we ever go back to 'Hungaria' we must come back. We went to this thermal lake just down the road. It seemed to us to be essentially a giant pond, but that was heated by underwater hot springs which kept it at a toasty 34 degrees. The water also felt really thick some how and we both found it more of a struggle than it ought to have been to swim in.

We decided it would be a good idea to swim from one side of the lake to the other, which was just about fine, but on the way back I decided this was a very bad idea and ended up absolutely exhausted.

Afterwards we headed on towards lake Balaton which was only about half an hour away. We went to a waterpark which was fun except we spotted a beetle about the size of my fist and a wasp that may as well have been a bird and we were utterly freaked out. After decided we'd had enough water for one day we decided to find somewhere to stay. In the little towns in croatia a lot of the houses advertise a 'free room' and have an apparment or spare room in their houses which they rent out. We found a little town just off the lake and walked around knocking on about 6 of the houses having a look at the room an asking about price before chosing our favourite. Although the cheapest the lady didn't speak a word of English which wasn't ideal. However, she did manage to communicate that she wouldn't be in the next morning and that we should just lock up the house when we left and put the key through the letterbox. We couldn't believe the level of trust!!!!

Loads of ancient Skodas around here - thought I'd post a picture of this as I have literally no idea what it is.

Amanda and her obsession with fruit. Here she is having it as her main course. Weirdo.


This old well was right down the road from the Apartment we were staying at.



Last night was a rubbish, awful, stupid, noisy, wet, horrid, smelly motorway campsite just outside Zagreb. We were desperate, low on fuel and needed sleep badly and resorted to the only motorway campsite I've ever seen. It thunderstormed most of the night and Amanda and I both needed the toilet in the night and despite the umbrella our clothes were sodden.

As a result we were miserable and these are the only 3 photos we have from this day. The first 2 show the quality of Apartment you can get for just 35Euros. It was run by a nice old couple who were really helpful and recommended us a lake heated by a thermal water spring.



Zagreb - Capital of Croatia just couldn't compare to some of the other places we had visited. We did, however, get to watch Murray win wimbledon at a pub and met a talkative old Aussie.

The map kept directing us to the main plaza with the fountain. As far as we could see this was the only fountain in the main plaza... maybe it was broken?



After a luxurious night in our apartment we excitedly got dressed ready to go to the Plitvice National Park only to open the curtains and see the pouring rain. We urmed and arred about what to do and decided to stay another night, prey for better weather, and hope the owners guard dog (who I have now named 'Killer') doesn't get any chances to eat one of us. Killer, who I don't believe Manda has mentioned, is the dog on a chain near the entrance of the apartment who runs from his kennel full speed until the chain snaps tight and bounds around woofing with such menance. I'm pretty sure he'd eat us if the chain broke.

While waiting for the weather to improve we went to lunch. Manda ordered some side dishes and slightly overdid it.... The fried cheese (which seems to be a traditional dish in eastern europe) was so fatty that Amanda thought a heart attack was immanent.

I should also mention that stupidly I left the camera in the apartment and all these photos are taken with my phone - I was amazed how well they all came out!

In case you cant see that sign does indeed warn you about bears.



Today has been a particuarly eventful and hectic day. and also our last day on the coast which we left reluctantly. We headed along what the map had highlighted as a 'scenic road' and it was certainly accurate. We weaved our way slowly along the coast before stopping at a small village with a cove and a small beach. A handful of locals were relaxing there and we were clearly a spectacle. After catching some sun and snorkling we headed on to the next big town where we had lunch. Afterwards, we tore ourselves away from the coast and up towards Plitvice. The road wove slowly up the mountain with a spectacular view over the sea and the many islands dotted in it. I had no great desire to drive, as there were often no crash barriers at all between you and a sheer drop down the mountain and when they were there they seemed to be rusty. Several graves and flowers at the edge of the road filled us with trepidation. Although, the view arguably justified the risk. The further away from the coast we drove and the more authentic our surroundings felt. A fair way in and lots of small villages with houses that looked as if they could barely support themselves sprung up. For every nice house there seemed to be one abandoned derelict and bare. An old man looking very weathered rummaged through a skip for food before slowly dragging himself and 2 bags wearily along the road. We decided to give him the pack of croissants that we had bought for breakfast the next day and he seemed absolutely delighted. Further on, we passed a completely abandonded town, the houses all lay derelect and crumbling and a church had lost its steeple entirely. Although in bright sunlight we both felt very spooked and we swiftly left. We made our way to plitvice very humbled. We decided to look around the lakes/waterfalls the next day and to find an apartment. A lady offered us one for 400 Kuna and we accepted, it is homely and set in lovely grounds yet we cannot shake a certain sense of unease. We haven't seen anyone English in a very long time to the extent that when a Dutch car passed us we felt a sense of comfort and homeliness. The electicity here seems to be fairly intermittent and the lights flicker sporadically. We both suddenly feel like we are a very long way from home.

You can see from the colour just how dry the terrian is here

To Amanda's mum - I did tell Amanda never to do a pose lke this ever again.

After coming away from the coast you start to see the other side of Croatia

Houses like this everywhere

Church destroyed and a completely empty town was chilling. This was very close to the Bosnian border and we also saw what liked like old watch towers dotted about.



After leaving the hotel, after a very unimpressive vegetarian selection at breakfast we headed back to mainland Croatia. We had lunch at another little town by the sea and drove further on down the coast. We stopped at a small village on the shore for a break and were so impressed we decided to stay. We had escaped the tourists that seemed to litter the coast and it was incredibly tranquil. We found a little cove where we had a swim and we clambered along the rocks along the coast. We decided to find somewhere to stay; campsites seem to be expensive in Croatia, they come with lots of facilities, for instance, entertainment and table tennis/tennis courts etc. However, this is little benefit for us, 'Apartments' are dotted all over even the smallest of towns and seem to be very cheap, so we decided to find one here. One lady said she had none spare and after asking her two neighbours also we still had no luck. She offered us the spare room in her flat for 30 euros, which seemed to have a wasps' nest in it, so we declined. Further up we found another apartment and stayed there, although we hardly slept well as unfortunately it seemed to be already inhabited by a family (or perhaps a whole neighbourhood) or mosquitos.

Before doing anything we had to bump start down a hill and source a replacement battery from a dodgy looking car garage (Alex wrote this because somehow Manda forgot about the difficulties of searching for a suitable garage in Croatia)

The looks on Alex's face in this photo never ceases to make me laugh.

A town we drove to for dinner



Today was the day we'd both been waiting for - we were entering Croatia! We decided to head towards Porec which was highly recommended and Manda was proud to be following the only place her grandparents had been abroad. We packed the car and went to set off from the campsite in Piran but - clickclickclick.

Amazingly, despite the hot weather and long journeys the battery in the car had taken this moment to give up, After some cursing we went down to the campsite reception area in the hope they might have a battery booster pack but to no avail. We attempted to bump start the car in reverse down the narrow lane I was parked in but couldnt get the car out of the ditch I was parked in. Eventually a nice Slovenian man offered to help and we used the broken jump leads I had in my tool box to get the car going. What a palava.

Upon crossing the border to Croatia we were stopped by a scary looking policeman and it really looked like we were going to be searched. He then walked around the car, presumbly saw the GB sticker and we heard him say 'anglais go!' and we were waved on through. The Slovenian man behind us wasn't so lucky.

We found Porec to be quite touristy and not much different to Piran. The food though was so cheap! £3-4 for a pizza even I struggled to eat. It was here we met some English people! Hearing the English accent was like music to the ears.

We drove through Rijeka which looked like quite a big town on the map but was very industrial. Somehow this photo has managed to make it look really good

Krk Island was hugely dry and we were starting to notice a strange trend in Croatia - As soon as people realised we were foreign, we were offered rooms. The moment we pulled into a lay-by 2 people started to hassle us for apartment rooms.

This acrobatic beetle was about 5cm long and managing to crawl upside down up a fence. I thought he was fantastic but Manda wasn't a fan.

We decided to get a hotel on Krk Island as the prices were very cheap and the tent was very hot.



We both really liked Piran and decided to stay another night and went for a walk in the morning to soak up the sun and take some better photos. It was strangely very similiar to Venice and most people and signs seemed to be in Itialian. We walked along the coast to the centre of Piran and on route accidently stumbled upon a nudist beach which was a bit of a shock and we hastily left.

We sat on the plaza, munched on lunch and enjoyed the standard 500ml of beer all while watching this skillful man conduct roller skating lessons on the smooth plaza surface

Oh and Manda discovered she likes Shandy after I accidentally ordered one




We left Lake Bled begrudgingly and continued on the the 'Postojna Cave', apparently the bigest cave in Europe. I wasn't that excited for this, but I completely underestimated it. It was stunning and absolutely vast! We both agreed it looked like something out of an alien planet. Afterwards we headed towards Piran in Slovenia, which we knew nothing about and chose on a hunch.

Alex disobeyed the 'strictly no photos' rule, although the pictures really don't capture it.


We sat on the coast and watch the sunset over the mediterranean.



Last year we came to Lake Bled it rained torrentially and we left without appreciating it properly, I was bitterly disappointed and Alex promised we would come back, so we did!! (By the way, I am under instructions to write concisely).

Our pitch

We took the folding bikes out and cycled the whole lake on them

Whilst cycling Alex spotting this thing, I don't know what it's called, but maybe a bob-run, I'm not sure, we had three goes on it each and it was pretty cool, you could really get up some speed.

Afterwards, we went for a swim, we contemplated trying to swim to the island but decided that I was definitely not competant enough to not drown half way.

In the evening we hired a row boat and decided to row to the island instead,

This is our boat docked up on the island

This is the church on the island. We had wondered why the whole day the church bells had been ringing so persistently and erratically but it became apparentt that the public were given free-reign over the bell. We had a go ringing it ourselves.



Today, fed up with the cold weather we decided to make the jump from Austria to Lake Bled in Slovenia. While on the way we went up a mountain in Ebensee which looked down over Lake Traunsee. We conquered the mountain in typical victorian British style as you can see with our sepia photos :)

As the mountain was used as a ski resort during the winter months, a few of these amazing machines along with a series2 Land Rover was up there.

Manda made a friend with some cows

We soon realised it was a bull which you may be able to see if you look behind me in the photo. He started to get a bit sulky and kick his hooves so we made a quick get away.

This bouncy kitten chasing flies was also up the mountain.

Close to the border of Austria while driving up a rather steep hill we pulled in to take a look at this river. The bridge only had a handle one side and was really bouncy so we clambered down to sit on the rocks. Manda then showed off her adventurous side leaping from one rock to the next over the river.



** Please refer back to 25.06 to see Nurburgring Photo! **

Well slept after the night in the hotel room we asked in reception for some nice places to visit. We were recommended a natural Spa in Bad Ischl which apparently sat on top of some warm water springs. We dont have photos but the pool was basically one giant jacuzi - lovely!

On the road down we stopped at this lovely spot at Lake traunsee further around from hotel. I think Manda would agree that not a single photo we took here did the places justice. It was truly stunning.

Not bad for a self timer photo ehh?

Hotel room:



After a freezing cold horrible nights sleep despite the beers and honey liquer the German couple gave us the night before we drove feeling quite tired out from Rothenburg to Altmunster in Austria in search of some warmer weather. We also decided to go for a nice warm hotel and seach for a roll mat to keep warm next time we camped.

We stopped in Nuremburg which was a bit dreary

Underground restaurant was awesome!

German sausages are the best food ever. German vegetarian food here not so good.

Austria greeted us with sunny, warmish weather and some beautiful scenery

My idea of an artistic photo

Our hotel was a typical looking Austrian building

It had a view over Lake Traunsee which we both agreed was one of the most beautiful places we'd ever been

Manda made some duck frends but at the last minute they decided they didnt like her and went for a swim instead of posing for the photo. awww



Once again it was a very cold night, we got going pretty late and decided to follow the Rhein and then ultimately drop down to Rothenburg. It took absolutely ages to get anywhere on this road (although beautiful it was slightly inefficient), but still, we did manage to see about a million castles dotted all over the horizon and a church dotted right in the middle of the river.

We arrived at Rothenburg at 4ish and it was definitely worth it, we both agreed it is one of the most beautiful places we've ever been. We also went in a massive Christmas shop/museum, which was like Santa's grotto, it was just full to brim of anything Christmas related, it was quite a surreal experience and felt like being in a dream

Traditional German Sausages tasted gooodddd

Parked outside Christmas shop:

Our first church visit of the month was a Catholic one. It even had a confessions room which neither Amanda or I had ever seen.

You could walk around the walls of the city and look out at the spctacular view.

Also for those who are wondering; this is how we dry our towels when it isn't sunny:

Travel kettle (courtesy of Amanda's Dad) took 20mins to boil enough water for 2 cups of tea - still a million times better and probably faster than getting the gas stove out!



**I apoligise for Amanda's tendency to write essays...**

We both once again slept very badly, it was a really cold night and we had to sleep in lots and lots of layers to keep warm. We got going sharpish and went to 'national park eifel', where we had a short walk around a massive lake. We headed on promptly to the nurburgring (alex's idea), when we got there it was quite deserted, we went into the cafe and a lady told us that there were test cars only at that time and that the ring wasn't open to the public until 5:30, it was only 2:30 and we were aware that we were on a tight schedule. Anyway, we hummed and harred but in the end decided to wait because it was something Alex was desperate to do. I decided that I definitely wasn't going to sit in the car though because it looked so dangerous, watching the test cars go past on the straight made my heart lurch, I didn't even know cars could go that fast!!! So killing some time, we made friends with a Pakistani man in a restuarant who charged us 2.50 for a cup of tea that he managed to curdle. We showed him the route and he suggested that we didn't go to Frankfurt, that it was a large yet ultimately sterile city, the guide book consolidated this. He recommended the town of Koblenz and following the river down to Mainz.

When we arrived at the Nurburgring at 5 it was already buzzing with lots of annoying motorheads with petrol in their veins. Feeling very out of place I just hang around awkwardly whilst Alex admired lots of shiny cars. Eventually, it was time to go, I decided to not wimp out and to go in the car so as not to regret it later on, (sorry mum). Anyway, all in all it wasn't actually that bad, Alex drove very well and very controlled. Afterwards we headed straight off to Koblenz and set up camp by the river.


Nurburg Castle

Click to play video below




Neither of us slept very well the night before and we were both awake long before the 5 o'clock alarm. We set off at 5:45, slightly later than originally anticipated and the ETA for the eurotunnel on the satnav read '8:16', aware that last check-in was 8:20 we were in a bit of a rush to get there on time but we made it.

First off we went to Dunkirk, the war memorials and the rows of graves were ghouling, and those with pictures of the person were particularly harrowing.

Hugo and Henrietta were once again thrilled at being our mascots once again.

We soon found ourselves at Brugge, the weather was slightly disappointing but the city was still beautiful. Chocolate shops were everywhere, but regrettably we decided not to buy any.

We went up the Belfont Tower, at the top there were several huge bells.

Alex didn't really fit in the spiral staircase


Click to play video (use button bottom right to make full screen)



Packed and ready to go



New route drafted after being advised by a colleague of a few places of interest in Slovenia. I've also added Krk Island/Croatia which looks amazing.



Our super cool 80s Dahon folding bikes we bought for last years trip will be coming along again.

as will the tent...

and the campstove..

(and 30 cans of baked beans.)



One month leave accepted by work - starting to feel excited now! A route has been drafted in google maps here:




New car for this trip! Odometer reads 49k not 149k miles. Few little rattles to get checked out but should be ready soon!

Eastern European Road Trip

The Plan:

As before, we have been very ambitious. We have 28days to cover the 2974 miles which equates to 107miles per day. The route has a nice blend of scenery including cities like Brugge, Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Amsterdam but also includes some stunning looking countryside like the Plitvice National Park and miles of Croatian coast.

We plan to leave early Monday 24th June crossing with the Eurotunnel and sticking to route as much as possible. If we decide we have been too ambitious we will adapt the route as we go to make it shorter. We will return Sunday 21st July.

The Car:

BORING ALERT! Yes. I bought another blue Mondeo. It is, however, perfect for this sort of thing. Big boot, doesn't attract too much attention while travelling through dodgy places, relatively economical and with the extra 20bhp we might not struggle up the hills so much!

The Rough Route:

2974 miles and gives us a good variety of interesting cities and beautiful countryside.


Countries we will be travelling through:

  1. Belgium
  2. Germany
  3. Austria
  4. Slovenia
  5. Croatia
  6. Hungary
  7. Slovakia
  8. Czech Republic
  9. Netherlands



As we already have all the equipment already and we are travelling to more eastern and poorer countries we are anticipating the costs to be:

Costs to buy equipment we needed:  
Maps/Guide books £20
Estimated Costs:  
Fuel - 3000miles £500
Austrian Road Tax £14
Manda on insurance £50
Euro Insurance Free!
Green Flag Euro Breakdown + Car recovery £100
Travel Insurance £20
Eurotunnel single (booked) £70
Eurotunnel return (not booked) £130
Spending Money £200
Total Costs During Trip:  


We are taking:

Car related:
  • 4L of oil
  • Windscreen wash
  • Engine Coolant
  • Yellow Jacket
  • Spare bulb kit
  • Breathalyzer (Stupid french requirement)
  • Sat Nav
  • Assorted tools
  • Tow rope
  • Jump leads
  • GB Sticker
  • Blind spot mirrors
  • EU light beam deflectors
  • Haynes manual for car
  • Fire extinguisher (Slovenian requirement)
Camping related:
  • Tent
  • Mallet
  • Floor lining
  • Airbed
  • Electric Pump
  • Camp stove
  • Gas for camp stove
  • Camp cookset
  • Plates/Cutlery
  • Washing up liquid
  • Bin liners
  • Washing up bowl
  • Double Duvet
  • Pillows
  • Kettle
  • Lantern battery powered
  • Lantern Wind up
  • Maglite 2D torch
  • Bike light torch
  • Wind up torch
  • Camping seats
  • Camping table
  • Large water container
  • Tea towel
  • Shorts
  • Tshirts
  • Swimming stuff
  • Coats
Entertainment related:
  • DLSR Camera
  • Ipod
  • Netbook
  • Magazines
  • Driving abroad book
  • Europe on shoestring book
  • Bikes
  • Bike helmets
  • Puncture repair kit
  • Pump
  • Lots of bottles of water
  • Lots of easily storable food
  • Passport
  • Driving license + counterpart
  • Health vcard
  • Travel insurance
  • Insurance proof
  • V5 for car
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