European road trip, part II

European road trip, part II

European road trip, part I

FRANCE AND ANDORRA

From Monaco we went to Cannes where we wanted to… I guess to walk on the red carpet at the Palais des Festivales? Anyway, there just was a sailing festival so we couldn’t get there and we rather continued to the west.

Marseille and Cassis

We arrived to Marseille and we lost a lot of our time as we found out in the evening. We just visited the port, had lunch, bought some souvenirs but thanks to terrible traffic jams we spend there a lot of hours. In the port we have discovered an ad for cruises to the bays near Cassis in the National Park Calanques and we wanted to see it on that day. But Cassis is kingdom of one-way streets that successfully confused our GPS so we broke these rules and drove by ourselves. Unfortunately it’s not possible to go by car to these bays and the sun didn’t want to stay longer with us. So we just went to watch the sunset above Cassis and then to find some place to sleep somewhere nearby Saint-RĂ©my-de-Provence.

Saint-RĂ©my-de-Provence, Orange and Pont du Gard

Saint-RĂ©my-de-Provence was, in change, kingdom of markets and tasting of all sorts of food. Cheeses, salami, fruit, turrĂłn. And, of course, lavender (we didn’t tasted). From the markets we went to explore the Roman Colosseum from the 1st century in Orange. And after that to Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard to which we wanted to get for free by not making eye contact with the staff. But the staff made the contact with us.

Saint-Guilhem-le-DĂ©sert and Pont du Diable

The last stop of the day was the small town Saint-Guilhem-le-DĂ©sert with the bridge Pont du Diable. From there we went to the coast towards Carcassonne, where we wanted to sleep on the beach. First, we arrived to Bages where Dexter could joyfully throw dead bodies into water and that place didn’t have much in common with the coast. Eventually we got to the beach in Narbonne and finally used the grill we had with us all the time.

Carcassonne

Surprisingly there is no entrance fee when entering the fortress town of Carcassonne. But if you are interested in a castle tour you have to pay. In case you are not an EU citizen under 26. I missed this criterion a few months ago and the lady at the cash desk didn’t want to beg about this. So while waiting for others I walked through the city and according their words I made a good decision because I could visit more places in the fortress. The only thing about Carcassonne I didn’t like was the commercialism and dozens of souvenir shops.

Andorra

Across the Pyrenees we headed to the capital city of Andorra – Andorra la Vella. Somewhere near the border we enjoyed nice traffic jam and right behind the border we chose paid tunnel. On the way back we realized that it was stupid idea because we skipped only short section with hairpin turns and we missed beautiful mountain scenery. After the tunnel we went only through valley. I liked Andorra la Vella so much I can imagine to live there for a few months. BTW, one guy in Monaco told us to not go to Andorra because it’s boring and ugly. Well, Andorra was the most beautiful small country we’ve visited during our Eurotrip. From Andorra there are only two roads out – back to France and to Spain. Due to shorter distance to the highway we chose the same route back. But this time we avoid the tunnel and enjoyed the ride above clouds at sunset.

SPAIN

Yes, at late night we arrived to Spain. And that’s because… To arrive to San Sebastian, while looking for a place to sleep pass the ghostly lighthouse and in the end slept in the car near the beach (but it belongs to a road trip, right?). And in the morning back to France.

FRANCE

Hendaye

I wanted to visit Hendaye for one reason – baguettes I’ve enjoyed two years ago. At the same time we needed wifi for finding accommodation close to the ocean somewhere near Hossegor and Seignosse. It wasn’t easy because it was expensive/far away/people didn’t respond, but finally we managed to get some great accommodation in Hossegor.

Hossegor and Biarritz

It was beautiful house in a pine forest with swimming pool and Japanese garden (Do you want $20 credit on Airbnb? So click!). The owners, a married couple, took really great care of us and they were well traveled so we had a much to talk. E.g. they spent a few years in Lebanon and Japan in which they fell in love so we had a room with Japanese elements. And why Hossegor? Because of surfing and Surf-Trip.cz! The waves wasn’t so good for my (in)abilities and the fish that can kill you? Weever, which according to Wikipedia, killed about one man. Anyway, the pain caused by stabbing wasn’t very pleasant. Then the coast guard explained me what was going on.

Gouffre de Padirac

We left Hossegor in the afternoon and headed back to the east. We spent the night in the tent near Gouffre de Padirac where we were going the next day. Gouffre de Padirac is a chasm and caves in which you ride a boat. It looked kind of like in Jurassic Park.

SWITZERLAND AND LIECHTENSTEIN

The same day we arrived to Saint-Julien-en-Genevois on the border with Switzerland, built the tent on the French side and to the toilet we went to Switzerland.

Geneva

In the morning we visited Geneva for a while, looked to the UN and Lake Geneva and then we headed to the easternmost part of Switzerland.

Lauterbrunnen

The first stop was 297 meters tall waterfall Staubbachfall in Lauterbrunnen. From there we continued to the most famous Swiss waterfalls.

Rhine Falls

First we arrived to the Rhine Falls from the south side where is also a viewing platform. Surprisingly, here you pay the entrance fee. Probably before you enter the area of Laufen castle. But in our case we thought that the cash desks are there only because of cruises. And because nobody had checked the tickets we got to the viewing platform for free. What does it matter that it was weird there were turnstiles. But also opened wheelchair doors next to them so we could walk through it. So we saved 5 francs.

Then we crossed to the north side to Neuhausen am Rheinfall, where it’s not possible to get so close to the waterfalls. And along the way there we were stopped by police for the first time. Probably because they noticed us staring on them when they drove against us. Or they were interested because of passenger without seat belt? In a while they were right behind us with lit police beacon. Luckily it was just a routine check without a fine, we talked about our trip and when they saw our stuffed trunk we didn’t have to show it.

Sankt Gallen

From waterfalls we headed to our final destination – to St. Gallen where my friend KaÄŤka, who is in Switzerland at Erasmus this semester, provided us accommodation. Actually I didn’t see much of St. Gallen, but I visited a lecture at the university. In German language.

Vaduz a Malbun

From St. Gallen we made a trip to the last small country. Liechtenstein offers mainly Vaduz and mountains in which we chose ski resort Malbun. By visiting Vaduz we probably increased its population by a few percent, we visited the square of this capital village and then we rather went up into the mountains. Around the Vaduz Castle, which is still used by Liechtenstein’s Princely Family so it’s not accessible for public, through many other villages to Malbun.

And that was it, the next thing was just to get through Germany to Brno without any scheduled stops. A bit of statistics?

We drove more than 6000 kilometers. Fuel cost us less than €480, we spent millions by paying toll. We slept 9 times in the tent including 3 nights in camps. Once in the car. Three nights at our friends, two via Airbnb and one at the hotel. 10 countries in 17 days.

European road trip, part I

European road trip

After returning from Georgia I didn’t spend much time at home and I went to travel again. This time I had a plan for road trip through western Europe with my friends. Austria, Italy, San Marino, Monaco, Andorra, Spain, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany. How did it go?

AUSTRIA

GrĂĽner See

The first stop was GrĂĽner See in Austria even though we were considering whether to go there or not because of the level of water. This lake is popular for divers in spring and early summer when the water level is high due to melting snow and you can swim around benches on which we could sit down. In the end the visit was definitely worth it even though there wasn’t so much water.

Hallstatt

From Oberort we continued to Hallstatt lake where we wanted to spend first night. Parking lot at the lake said that we don’t have to pay during the night but we can’t camp there. We parked the car so nobody couldn’t see it, built  a tent and ate or food from home, including Georgian beer I still had. The weather at night was bad and we didn’t build the ten properly so sometimes some water drops landed on our faces. Fortunately, the rain stopped early in the morning so we were able to leave the place around 6 a.m. without paying. We stopped in Hallstatt for a while and then we went to Werfen.

Werfen

In Werfen, there is a castle Hohenwerfen to which we went by food so we could find out that we have to pay an entrance fee of 11 euros. Well, at least there was wifi so we could relieve our cold turkeys and then we continued to the Alps to check out Grossglockner.

Grossglockner

We chose the Grossglockner High Alpine Road which was really great experience and it definitely wort that 35 euros. Thanks to this route it’s possible to reach the Pasterze glacier which is just bellow the Grossglockner. In Austria, we haven’t anything else to visit so Italy was next destination.

ITALY & SAN MARINO

Lago di Garda

Thw whole route through the Alps was full of amazing scenery, hairpin turns and villages, we drove through Cortina d’Ampezzo to Trento and started looking for accommodation. We couldn’t find anything appropriate on Airbnb so around midnight we reached a camp in the north of Lago di Garda. In the morning we wanted to go to southern part of the lake to Peschiera del Garda and we chose great road on the coast. About one million people had the same idea so it took us some time. By the evening we wanted to reach Venice which we had planned for the next day. But it wouldn’t be right trip without any problem, right? On the highway near Verona the car stopped working and we had to spend about two hours at SOS place before the tow truck arrived.

Verona

It was luck that right in Verona there was Ĺ koda service station. Very friendly and helpful lady took care about us. She arranged with us everything important and helped us with finding cheap accommodation. It was a hotel a few steps from the service. Quite a change with comparison to the tent. Not that we were unable to find accommodation by ourselves, but there was nothing for affordable price in Verona. And it wasn’t sure when the car will be repaired so staying in Verona was in the game. The only solution was to rent a car to not lose a weekend in one city.

Friday morning we visited the city and it wasn’t bad unscheduled stop at all. And one great news was waiting for us – the car will be repaired in the afternoon.

Venice

We arrived close to Venice in the evening, spent the night in the nearby camp and in the morning we went by bus to the islands. Because we bought the bus ticket from driver, it would be probably cheaper to go by car and park right in Venice. We took the circuit through Venice in go with the crowd style and in the afternoon we headed on another journey – to Rimini in the south which should be our place before visiting San Marino the next day. Actually we found the camp a little further in Riccione, enjoyed swimming in the sea with jellyfish together with local hotel security, because exactly that part of the beach we’ve been to was private.

San Marino

It would be really great to head to San Marino early in the morning to see the sunrise, but sleep is sleep. Even so we arrived at a time when the city began to wake up and on Monte Titano there were almost no tourists. On the mountain  there are three forts which were never conquered – La Fratta, La Guaita and La Montale which has an entrance in the underground and served as a prison. BTW, did you know that the San Marino F1 Grand Prix wasn’t take place in San Marino but in close Italian Imola? Its name was only because Italy already had one GP.

Cinque Terre

From San Marino we went to west coast to the region ofCinque Terre (so we skipped Florence and Pisa), which is located between cities La Spezia and Genoa. Cinque Terre is famous because its small colorful villages on the coast in which you can’t go by car. So you have to park on the edge and take a small walk. We’ve visited three of these villages – Riomaggiore, Corniglia and Vernazza.

We wanted to spend the night in Genoa by couchsurfing but nobody was able to take four people. In the end an idea of going straight to France and camp there won.

FRANCE & MONACO

It took us about four hour drive to get to France and we got there around midnight. We wanted to build the tent in French Menton on a nice patch of grass, but local police didn’t recommend us to stay there (I mean they forbade us to stay there so they don’t have any problem because of us) and sent us to another place down the road which we weren’t able to find. But we got to a nice hidden beach right before Monaco and we went to sleep around 2 a. m.

Monaco

The next day we went to Monaco where we had arranged accommodation. We relaxed a while in the swimming pool and in the afternoon we walked almost the whole Monaco – Larvotto beach, Japanese garden, port Hercule, Monaco-Ville with its Prince’s Palace, Saint Nicholas cathedral and the Monte Carlo casino.

Which of the small states was the most beautiful, which fish can kill you while surfing in France and where we were stopped by police for the first time? You will find out in the next article.

European road trip, part II