EUROTRIP – how to plan your trip in 5 easy steps.

As I wrote here my boyfriend Floret and I went for EUROTRIP two years ago and we LOVED IT. This was by far the best trip in my entire life, and even though I have two more eurotrips planned, I can’t imagine any of them top this experience. If you want to know details about my trip you have to check my previous post linked above, but the excerpt is that we travelled by car from Poland to Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria. I wrote that we have two more Eurotrips left planned, well actually to be planned, that is: Scandinavia (Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden) and “wild, wild west” (Italy, France, Portugal and Spain).

Because this year we were offered to visit our friend’s house in southern Croatia to see Dubrovnik as well as Montenegro (hence not spend a single dime on accommodation), we decided to go there instead and postpone our Eurotrips for next year. That left me with quite significant time to plan our trip ahead and not end up being “spontaneous” (here the synonym of unprepared). I mention the impulsiveness of our first Eurotrip because it got us in trouble several times – hence I decided to plan everything in a little bit more detail. During my planning procedure I realised I have some experience which might be useful to all of you, sweet people, who might want to plan their own trips! Hence, I decided to share my 5 great tips for planning the Eurotrip!

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Amazing Plitvice lake we’ve seen during our first Eurotrip experience in Croatia.

1. Start by preparing overall plan

We decided to go for the Scandinavian trip first – let the working title for this expedition be; Vikingtrip. We started with the overall plan in our heads after a little bit of brainstorming – I wanted to see Copenhagen and the Oresund bridge to Sweden, Floret wanted to see Bergen and the fjords. Taking a quick look at the map we realised that our trip should look something like that:

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Our trip consists of: Warsaw, Berlin, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Malmo, Gothenburg, Oslo, Bergen, Oslo again, Karlstad, Stockhold and Gdańk.

The trip “ends” in Stockholm only because we decided to take a ferry to a beautiful Polish city of Gdańsk through the Baltic Sea. Now when our outline is ready we can see how long will it take to drive our little camper. We know from experience (we are together for almost 3 years and drove hundreds of kilometers) that it is optimal to drive around 500 km every 2-3 days. That way we won’t be too exhausted from driving, we will have time to see places we visit in detail and we will be able to relax.

Bearing that in mind we can move further and plan stops in between cities, which are too far away. That way I put a stop between Oslo and Stockholm in Karlstad – a city we were not really interested in, but decided it’s optimal to take a break in. I evaluate that the time needed to see all these places is around 3-4 weeks. Now when our trip is planned we can get into much more detail and check-out interesting activities and things to see.

2. Allow flexibility – don’t book all the hotels

Obviously in case of the Vikingtrip we are going to go in a camper, so arranging accommodation is going to be limited to us simply finding a campsite to stop. If you don’t have such an opportunity, I advise you not to book hotels for each night. What I realised during my first Eurotrip is that we liked some places way more than others. At some point on Krk island in Croatia we got a little bored of tanning on the beach and decided to drive to Slovenia earlier – which turned out to be a great decision – Slovenia is definitely my favourite destination out of all the trip.

Allow yourself a little bit of carpe diem moment. Be spontaneous and don’t worry – it’s not like finding a hotel is very difficult – you wouldn’t believe how many people book rooms and never show up!

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Floret on his way to see a mountain shelter in Slovenia.

3. Plan activities, relax and sightseeing in equal intervals

I used the word “interval” and got reminded of all the terrible moments I had in my High Level Math class in high school – I nearly got a panic attack, I swear. I am a firm believer in balance in the universe. I think that equilibrium between sightseeing, relax and activities should be achieved at all times, so that we don’t go crazy during a trip that is longer than a weekend.

At the end of my first Eurotrip we went to Vienna, Austria and were sightseeing the city and all the museum until I just gave up and had to simply… have fun! Floret saved me by taking me to Vienna Prater (an amusement park), where after trying one ride, tired I fell asleep on the grass in the park nearby. I realised then, that a great trip is packed with everything, not just sightseeing!

Usually Floret is the one who organizes sport during out trips; he took us for biking and kayaking in Slovenia, all the water parks on our way, as well as rafting. I am usually responsible for finding great places to see and visit; like museums, interesting places, reading the guide and analyzing where to go. I am also responsible for food and restaurants, while Floret looks for beaches and relaxation. I think we are quite compatible!

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Me kayaking on a lake Bled in Slovenia.

4. Always get a detailed guidebook

I know people who don’t believe in guidebooks and hate reading them. They prefer to simply go and see whatever they want. I am not one of them, and let me, sweet readers, explain why. When on my last Eurotrip I bought or borrowed guidebooks for all the cities and for most of them I read all the information. I simply stopped at a church, for example, and read all the trivia to Floret. At the end of the trip in Vienna I was a little lazy and didn’t bother to read at all, and… can’t remember half of what I’ve seen. I browsed through pictures to choose some for this page and it turned out I don’t even remember seeing these places. At all. I’ve never had amnesia before, so I think I’m right believing that it’s all because of not reading the guide – after all, I remember all the other ones!

Moreover, when you already have a guide you can prepare a more detailed plan of what to see in each place – you simply pick most interesting things and arrange to visit.

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Menu in one of Viennese restaurants – on the table an amazing guide I was too lazy to read.

5. Plan your finances and book hotels in advance

Since I ran out of points to close up in 5, I had to join two very important points. I know you might think I’m contradicting myself, above I wrote: “don’t book hotels for each night” and in here I tell you to book hotels. What I mean, is that I believe we have to arrange accommodation for most of the nights way in advance to get better deals. 

In terms of money… Money is such a sensitive topic nowadays. I know Instagram makes us believe all the people in the world are loaded and we are the only ones who don’t have golden Lamborghini, but the reality is I know very few people who can wipe with cash. When going for such a long, quite expensive trip, you have to assess how much cash you need and be prepared to use your credit card. We spent around 3500 Euro on our trip and it was a lot of money – we didn’t limit ourselves with anything really, which we should have, and we tried everything, so be prepared for that kind of money. We had to use our credit cards several times and weren’t really expecting it!

Right now, in case of Vikingtrip I know it will cost way more than what we spent before – Scandinavian countries are extremely expensive – hence the camper idea to not pay for hotels. You now know why I constantly preach about things being expensive and saving money, I just need it to travel.

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A dark sky above Krk, Croatia.

I hope with this post I was able to help you. If you have any questions please hit that contact button and let’s share! Follow me on Instagram and get fresh pictures from my adventures!

Dorota

 

My Eurotrip experience.

Hello world,

in one of the previous posts I wrote about my trip to Bieszczady Mountains, which is a range of hills in Southern Poland. I loved the trip, because not only had I had a pleasure to try pure spirits, but also it was my first ever trip when I swam in a lake. Before I ventured to this amazing place I had a pleasure of experiencing one of the most amazing trips of my life: EUROTRIP.

The task was quite easy, I live in Europe, so my only concern was to get a car, pack and book some hotels on the way. I went with my boyfriend Floret, of course, and our companion: my fluffy grey cat from Nicci, which was quite useful when we slept in a tent under olive trees in Croatia.

We started our trip in Warsaw, where we live, and first travelled to a Hungarian city of Eger. On our way there we had to drive through Slovakia, where we were really conscious since it’s extremely easy to get a fine for everything, but even though – of course – we got a fine for speeding. On the border with Hungaria. Literally looking at the sign of the country. We had 45 km/h on a 40 km/h limit, but they still imposed a mandate on us of 200 Euros. I’m looking at you Slovakian Police, stop!

After Eger, where we also visited Miscolc Topolca, we went to the capital city Budapest, where we spent three days travelling back and forth throughout a beautiful, old streets, eating hummus and drinking wine on the bank of Danube river with some very nice, old German people. We ate delicious food and both Floret and I enjoyed it very much.

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Budapest is a city known for it’s architecture, especially the building of the parlament, which is quite astonishing.

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Here it is just on the other side of the river. The weather did not spoil us, but we still got a lot of time simply enjoying little streets and food.

Later on we went to Zagreb, a capital of Croatia, where we visited a ZOO and were sightseeing for two entire days. Since we are both engineers we visited Technical Museum of Zagreb, where we enrolled into classes about Tesla (the greatest) and his inventions. It was for kids, and in croatian, so we understood only what the lecturer showed us and with knwoledge from our physics background we were really excited to try some experiments.

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The city of Zagreb is very misterious and looks a little like Warsaw.

A little digression here: You know how when you go home you look through pictures to see how they turned out? Most of the pictures taken by Floret, were pictures of… You’d think me, maybe some nice sites… No. Of our car. He literally took ten pictures of our car in different places. Men are weird. 

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At least our car got to take a picture with panorama of Zagreb 😉

After Zagreb, we went to one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, the oldest national park in Croatia and one of the places on the UNESCO World Heritage register. Before we embarked on a hiking trip there I had a little accident – I left my laptop in one of the restaurants on the way. Luckily they wrote me on Facebook later and gave it back – Croatians are really nice. Thanks, lovely waiter guy!

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The trip was quite interesting and it took multiple hours (I think we hiked for like 6?) but it was totally worth it, just look at that water… It’s magnificent. The color is a result of sedimentation and limestone on the bottom, creating a fairytale look, that honestly, in real life looks just like the pictures.

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What is interesting there is that you can pass a lot of waterfalls and rivers, which look astonishing and make you realize, how beautiful our world is.

20160528_105532.jpgIf you are wondering right now – yes, I did take all these pictures myself, no joke.

After hiking we drove straight to the campsite, where we found a little river (of the same color) and we enjoyed a calm, warm evening sipping wine from cups with smurfs printed on. It was my first night ever in a tent – I start to sound a little like I was brought up in a shed, but really, it was my first time ever. The tent was very tiny (I think 1+) and I had to sleep with my back against the side, with moisture all over me. Thanks to this trip we bought and new tent now and are prepared for camping like pros.

Because we didn’t plan our trip in a great detail and only booked some hotels along the way, we decided to be spontaneous and travel to Krk Island to get some relax on the beach. We wanted to visit Dubrovnic where The Game of Thrones is shot, but we decided it was too far away.

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The island is absolutely beautiful. You can get there only through a bridge (for which you have to pay – that’s kind of weird). There are several towns here, where you can visit very old little church built of stone, very nice restaurants and a city of Punat, where we chose to stay. We slept under olive trees, in a tent, just next to our car on a campsite. There was a storm there that almost made me pee my pants, I swear, being in a tent during a thunderstorm is not funny, so we arranged bottles of wine and played cards for almost a whole night.

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Days are very lazy there in Punat. Beaches are great, although full of stones and we had to travel through the whole island to find one where there was sand. On the way there we also found a cevapi stand where we ate almost everyday – ayvar, the condiment made of paprika, is so amazingly tasty there… I have to buy some more!

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Since we didn’t want to only lay on the beach and burn our asses we took several trips through surrounding hills and found these guys. Actually, the picture was taken just because we were interested in how the foundations of the high voltage tower were made, but I centered a picture to be more interesting to you guys 🙂 The little island you see there is one where you can swim in a boat to and spend some romantic time on a picnic – you should try it!

It came a time where, with a broken heart, we had to leave for another place – Slovenia. I actually wanted to stay longer in Croatia, but we booked a rafting trip and had to meet our appointment.

Slovenia is…

I have no words, if you think Plitvice Lakes were amazing… Slovenia is just like… I don’t know, if you drank an elixir of happiness you’d end up there, for sure.

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This was our view from the hotel room. The host greeted us with wine and chips and all day long I could look at this mountain (Triglav) like on the painting of the greatest painters. Since we booked a rafting trip – which I was very scared of bearing in mind I just learned how to swim – we went there right away. I was unsure and freaking out, but it was one of the best experiences I ever lived through. We couldn’t film or take pictures there without GoPro, so I’m going to show you a video from YouTube. That was so much fun!

The water was ice-cold and during rafting our instructor chose to stop and let us jump from a huge stone in the river with such a strong current I was fighting with myself for 10 straight minutes if I should jump or not. I stood there, on this rock and wanted to jump, but my body didn’t want to move! Seriously, it was such an incredible experience, to fight my own fear. Finally, I jumped. But I was shaking from excitement!

Later we decided to try another typically Slovenian thing… we drove our car onto the train and we travelled by train in it!

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Very weird, especially in the tunnels, but  fun experience nevertheless. I shot a great video with my phone on that trip and I sent it to my mother. I hope one day I will be brave enough to show my face on this blog and share it with you guys.

We also visited a city of Bled with a gigantic castle way above a beautiful, also very blue, lake.

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This looks like I took a picture of a mirror, or I rendered it badly in Photoshop, but  trust me, it really does look just like that! The city is worldwide famous for its cake, which – of course – I had to try. Yummy!

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After eating all that sugar we had to find a way to burn it and since there is no good visit to the mountains (here Triglavski National Park) without a good old hike, we had some.

20160607_102514.jpgSlovenia is really an amazing place. All the people I met there (where we lived in Kranska Gora or where we went) were extremely nice. The owner of the house we stayed in (called Smucka – check it out on booking.com) let us use his grill, his own bikes (really nice ones – and advised us to bike to Italy. Doesn’t it sound weird? Like I could literally take a bike and go to Italy… in like two hours. Oh, Europe, you’re great!) and even washed our clothes! We promised to come back and for it we received a nice, handmade candle holder, which stands on my living room shelf till this day!

20160607_115944.jpgUnfortunately, we had to leave Slovenia and head back home, but not until we visited Vienna and a great aquapark next to it. I wanted to see Vienna because I’m very much interested in european royal families and their palaces – both Austria and Poland have some in common, including several kings. We’ve seen both Schonbrunn and Hofberg.

20160609_111330.jpgGerdens in Schonbrunn.

20160608_143003.jpgHofburg Palace, which is quite interestingly just in the middle of the city. Also, I learned a lot about empress Sisi, who is one of the most fascinating royals I’ve ever heard of (not to mention beautiful). Check her out in the website of Sisi Museum in Schonbrunn.

What should any of you do before leaving Vienna? Eat Saher Chocolate Cake, Schnitzel and of course visit the famous Wiener Prater which is an amusement park first opened in 1766!

After Vienna we headed back home with a plan for another EUROTRIP. To be honest we think of doing two: one for western Europe (I want to shop Portugal to Floret since I lived there for a year) and one for the North (Scandinavia).

Since this trip produced so many amazing pictures I decided to start a special chronicle of my trips with Floret. I will share some pieces with you in some of the next posts.

Wish me lack and tell me something about your trips in the comments!

Dorota