European road trip, part I
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?
The first stop was Grüner 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.
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.
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.
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.
It was luck that right in Verona there was Škoda 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.