Asia, Europe · 54 Days · 57 Moments · August 2017

Mick's journi to Eastern Europe 2017

19 October 2017

Day 53 - LAST DAY After driving 11,500 km and visiting 12 countries we are heading back to Sydney Australia from CDG Paris Airport. Eastern Europe is great to travel through and not tainted by the tourist masses that visit Western Europe each year. I will definitely be back to explore more in depth when time allows. Spent $45 Thanks for following my journi

18 October 2017

Day 52 - a leisurely hotel breakfast this morning the drove almost 4 hours to our 18th century chateau accommodation about half hour north of CDG Paris airport. We washed and vacuumed the lease car, bought some supplies and spent the afternoon nibbling, drinking and watching the canal boats idle by. Home cooked meal for dinner. Spent $224

17 October 2017

Day 51 - hit the road by 9:00am this morning and drove to Beaune, stopping once for fuel, then arrived at 2:00pm. We had a coffee and pastries then checked into Medicis Home Beaune, stowed our bags and walked into the beautiful old town. We looked around for a while and had a drink people watching then had dinner of snails and other French delights. The waitress spoke some English and we had a good chat about the current position with refugees in the country. Back by 10:00pm then bed Spent $325

16 October 2017

Day 50 - a lazy get up and go this morning driving the scenic coastal route to Monaco for a quick zoom around then down to St Tropez for another sticky beak. After picking up some supplies for lunch we found a nice sandy beach for a swim and laze around. Next we drove onto Marseille and checked into Casa Ammirati Apartment then a quick cuppa and hit the town. We walked around the old port and major attractions then a Tibetan meal and back to the room Spent $127

15 October 2017

Day 49 - a bit of sleep this morning then hit the road up to Ventimiglia near the French border. We checked into Hotel Kaly then drove/walked around to check out this popular resort town. I must say I am quite disappointed in the cleanliness of the place with dogs pissing and shitting everywhere, including the dirty sand/gravel beach. We grabbed some supplies and just chilled out for the afternoon. Spent $230

14 October 2017

Day 48 - up early again and caught the train to Corniglia the did a good solid hour hike through to Vernazza. We had a look around town then trekked the next 1.5 hours of difficult terrain along a cliff edge to Monterosso al Mare. We gathered some supplies from a market the sat on the pebbly beach and ate lunch. Afterwards we had a long swim and I had a snooze in the sun while the girls went shopping. We caught the late afternoon ferry back to Vernazza for a nice sunset and drinks on the sea wall. Later on we had a traditional Italian meal at the seaside restaurant of Bruschetta, spaghetti, pizza, caprese salad, profiteroles, pannecota, tirimasu and local vino. A great day Spent $276

13 October 2017

Day 47 - Up early again and head to the station to catch the train to join the Cinque Terre trail at Riomaggiore village. Unfortunately the first 2 sections of the coastal hike are close due to rock slides. After looking around the village we caught a train to Manarola, had a look around, climbed way up high for a panorama the down to the water for lunch and a swim. We then caught another train to Corniglia, had a Loki around then caught another train back to Riomaggiore for a sunset dinner, drinks and gelato. We the caught a train back to La Spezia at 9:30pm then bed Spent $157

12 October 2017

Day 46 - we got up early again and spent a few hours wondering Verona and the drove to La Spezia. Checking into Casa Frederica was a bit of a drama but we finally stowed our gear and headed out. Firstly we sorted out our Cinque Terre and rail tickets for the next 2 days and then wondered the town. We had a good meal at Il Pantondo then grabbed some food for tomorrow's hike. Spent $211

11 October 2017

Day 45 - up early again, quick pack and then a short drive to Ribno Hotel for a yummy buffet breakfast. Our first stop was Trevisa in Italy. We wondered around this mini Venice town for a few hours then drove on to Verona and checked into Ca Del Sasso. After a cuppa we drove 15 mins to Lazise on Lake Garda for a wonder along the shore, checked out a caravan park and checked out the old town. Back to the room for wog nibbles and early night. Spent $249

10 October 2017

Day 45 - Up early today to explore Triglav National Park. Our first stop was spectacular Vintgar Gorge which we had to ourselves before any tour groups arrived. We then drove the mountain roads along cobalt blue rivers to Bovec. We fell short of the town due to significant road works but saw some spectacular alpine scenery nevertheless. Next we headed over to Bohinj Lake and Savica Waterfall for another amazing spectacle. Back at our accommodation we explored this small rural village, checking out rivers, fly fishing spots and the local hotel for a beer. The scenery today was some of the best I have ever seen. Pictures to follow when I sort through the hundreds of shots taken Spent $126

9 October 2017

Day 44 - we put our gear in the car then walked into Ljubljana for a look around this peaceful green city. In the huge main park/forest we met a man who gave us some food for the squirrels and birds keeping us entertained for over an hour. We then drove an hour to Bled and checked into Apartment Oddih in a small nearby village called Ribno. In the afternoon Di walked around Lake Bled and Alex & myself hired a row boat for an hour. We had some mulled wine afterwards, grabbed some groceries and Alex cooked a nice vego meal. Spent $139

8 October 2017

Day 43 - up and out the door by 9:00am and first stop 40 mins later was the beautiful seaside town of Rovinj. After wandering around town and beside the fishing boats selling fish we travelled 30mins to a very small village, Fuškulin, to find graves of Di's Croatian relatives. She left a note under the church door for ways of contacting her to follow up on living relatives. Back on the road we crossed into Slovenia and stopped for lunch at Piran the drove on to Predjama Castle built into the cliff face. We checked into Rose Valley apartments at 6:00am then walked into Ljubljana for a bite to eat and look around. Spent $184

7 October 2017

Day 42 - we spent today retracing our steps of 28 years ago in Pula, including a swim in the beautiful Adriatic Sea. Home cooked vego meal for dinner. Spent $72

6 October 2017

Day 41 - it absolutely flogged down most of today as we drove 3 hours to Pula on the coast of Croatia. We checked in in the afternoon and then spent some time looking for my wife's grandmothers house that we visited 28 years ago. After determining where it is we walked to the Ampitheatre and the around the Old Town. Spent $83

5 October 2017

Day 40 - Zoran, Di's cousin met us at the apartment at 9:00am and we travelled into Zagreb city by tram. We spent all day being shown around this surprising city, had lunch and the caught up with Christina, Zoran's wife. After lunch we walked through the kilometre WWII tunnel now housing the complete history of Yugoslavia and Croatia. A very good display. We had dinner and chatted before saying our goodbyes and getting a tram back to our accommodation. Spent $143

4 October 2017

Day 39 - the overnight rain gave way to a sparkling sunny morning for our day at Plitvice Lakes National Park. Wow what a spectacular series of fresh water lakes cascading down a series of waterfalls featuring crystal clear blue tinted water from the calcium carbonate of the limestone. This combined with the backdrop of fiery coloured autumn made the 8 hours hiking seem like an hour. We later drove to Zagreb and booked into Mach Apartments for two nights. Spent $144

3 October 2017

3rd Oct 2017 Day 38 - I got up early and went to the old town and produce market to see the town come alive. We hit the road by 9:00am and drove to Jajce for a look at the waterfall, coffee and look around the old town. It seems that no towns have been spared the scares of war as shown in the attached pictures. A further few hours of beautiful mountain driving we reached Guesthouse Olbina near Plitvice Lakes. We got some supplies for tomorrow then splashed out on a good feed out. Spent $138
Day 37 - we walked into Mostar old town in the morning and watched the city waking up and preparing for another day. It took 2 hours to drive to Sarajevo via some very nice mountain scenery. Our check in time was 5:30pm so we parked the car and wondered around town stopping to look at shops and getting a Turkish chai (tea). We also attended the very moving Museum of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide showing amazing photo's and video of the 1995 atrocities. The city is a mix of religions and there is a strong Turkish influenced Muslim presence which adds an exotic feel. After a bit of miscommunication we finally booked into Apartment Ferdinand, stowed our gear then went back into the Old Town for a traditional meal. We walked around and I found a local craft brew house so I had a few cleansing ales while the girls did a bit of sweets sampling. Spent $87

2 October 2017

Day 36 - we left the accommodation and moved up the Croatian coast stopping to take photo's of the stunning coastline along the way. We entered Bosnia- Herzegovina and stopped at Kravice Waterfalls for lunch. We then stopped at Počitelj medieval village then onto Blagaj Tekija , a beautiful river that pours from a cave at 40,000 L/m beside the half timbered sift-house. We checked into Guesthouse Hadje after a bit of trouble finding the place. Straight away we headed into the Old Town of Mostar and marvelled at the narrow cobbled stoned ally ways and famous old Bridge. After a nice authentic meal , beer and wine we headed back. Spent $79

30 September 2017

Day 35 - checked out of our accommodation this morning and drove 15 mins to Tivat airport for my daughters boyfriend to fly out to Paris. We crossed the Croatian border and checked into Apartments Koncul at Dubrovnik. I haven't been here since 1989, before Yugoslavia split apart, and the place has definitely hit the tourist map with sheer numbers of visitors. Despite this the locals are still very friendly and accommodating, as I remember. My daughter had spent a week here very recently so she showed us all the little lesser known gem spots for swimming, eating and sipping a beer at sunset. What a great town ! Spent $197

29 September 2017

Day 34 - up and hit the local ocean pool for a much needed swim session then had a nice casual breakky session. At midday I took a 3 hour speedboat cruise to Blue Cave and surrounding islands for an amazing view and swim. Back for a wog lunch then down to the marina to watch the ships leave port and sip a few beers beside the water watching the sunset. We had a farewell dinner for my daughters boyfriend, more beers and music then bed by 1:00pm Spent $147

28 September 2017

Day 33 - we spent the day in and around Kotor looking, swimming, eating, drinking and generally chilling out. This is an amazingly beautiful area and the crowds are pretty much gone this time of the year. Definitely put Montenegro on your travel bucket list Spent $88

27 September 2017

Day 32 - We left Bijelo Polje after a nice hearty breakfast and drove down the mountain towards Kotor stopping briefly at Morača Monastry for a quick visit. We arrived at Kotor at 1:00pm and booked into Apartments Dukic the met up with my daughter and her boyfriend for a nice lunch and walk up to the fortifications 1350 steps up the mountain for amazing night views of the town and views. What an amazing town. Spent $197

26 September 2017

Day 31 - we cut our trip to Romania short as we are running out of time and there is a lot of backtracking on slow roads when travelling around The country. We left Sibiu at 4:30am driving through Romania, Serbia and just into Montenegro (Bijelo Polje) arriving 14 hours later. We checked into Hotel Dvor , had a feed in the restaurant and blew the froth off a couple of cold ones. Spent $171

25 September 2017

Day 30 - drove to Sighisoara this morning to look around the narrow cobble stoned streets of the old town. Pretty good. After driving back we spent the afternoon walking around the old town at Sibiu, stopping occasionally for beers or ice cream. Spent $101

24 September 2017

Day 29 - today we drove to Corviniilor Castel for a look at this 13th century gem. One of the best restored castles we have seen. We then drove to Sibiu and checked into Antonia Apartemans and paid $34/night for a two bedroom apartment with all the facilities. We spent the afternoon at Astra Museum of Traditional Folk Civilisation which is a fantastic and huge collection of rural buildings as Romanian peasants lived all the way back to the 17th century. Very good. We then walked into Sibiu old town where Octoberfest was on full swing. There used to be a lot of Germans in Romania before the Ceauscescu communist regime. We ate pork, sausage, verges, dread washed down with a couple of fine local beers. Spent $105

23 September 2017

Day 28 - nice leisurely breakfast at the hotel this morning The headed towards Szeged just before the border to get a fire extinguisher and first aid kit which is a legal requirement when driving in Romania. At the border of Romania there was a check point where we were held for 15 minutes while they checked our passports and insurance papers. We checked into our accommodation at Golden Moments pension then drove into Timisoara for a look around. There was a festival in one of the town squares so we looked at some market stalls, watched some bands and had a feed of traditional goulash in a large scooped out bread roll. Yum ! Back to the room for some research for travelling to Sibiu tomorrow. So far Romania looks like the poor cousin of Europe but the people we have met so far have been very friendly and helpful. I'm looking forward to the mountainous beauty of this country. Spent $147

22 September 2017

Day 27 - up early this morning and spent a sunny morning wondering the Old Town of Eger before checking out and driving on secondary roads through flat fertile country and onto Kecskemét towards the south. We checked into Hotel Udvarhaz then spent the afternoon wondering around this peaceful and serene city. Today was a bit of a chill out day finished off with a nice meal at Pasta Mia The we caught a choir singing at the old church. Spent $81

21 September 2017

Day 26 - left Budapest this morning in pouring rain and headed to Szentendre a medieval town 19km north but it was still flogging down so we drove straight on through to Eger in the famous wine region. We checked in to a nice apartment at Aranykert Vandégház and headed to the Valley of the Beautiful Women 20 minutes walk away. We sampled local wines in rustic cellars burrowed into the hills and bought a bottle of the famous Bulls Blood red wine for our daughter to share next week. Back to the apartment and cooked a nice meal with lots of vegetables, had some beers, wine then bed at 10:30pm Spent $148

20 September 2017

Day 25 (cont.) - The House of Terror showed the oppressed years of occupation with real life displays/rooms and video accounts from survivors of interrogations etc. Our next stop was St Stephen's Basilica and The onto Old Parliament House as the sun finally broke through. For dinner we used TripAdvisor and went to Bors Gasztrobár for a fantastic burrito. YOU MUST GO TO THIS PLACE. Back to our room by 8:00pm after a massive day covering 25 km of walking. Next time we will use the hop on hop off service. Spent $101
Day 25 - Up at 6:00am, the rain has stopped and a big day ahead in Budapest. We caught the bus to the Danube River and walked to Castle Hill and visited Buda Castle. We then moved onto Matthias Church and Fishermans Bastion for a good view of the city. The bus loads started arriving so we dived down some back streets towards the river and found a quiet local cafe for a coffee and a chat with Jacky an American finding his ancestry in Hungary. We crossed the river and walked onto Margaret Island for supposedly a quick loll but spent a bit of time marvelling at the gardens, musical fountain and odd ruins. Next we walked to Lehel Market and sampled some of the produce with the locals and this became lunch. A few more back streets and we arrived at Heroe's Square dedicated to the 7 founders of Hungary in 972 AD. After a cafe stop for a beer we entered The House of Terror, a sensory museum in the old Nazi SS / Russian KGB headquarters. Continued next entry ...

19 September 2017

Day 24 - Raining all day today so we decided to move on to Budapest taking the tourist road beside Lake Balaton, stopping briefly at Tihany for a cuppa and quick look around. The weather was atrocious. We checked into Helios Hotel Panzió, stowed our gear the caught the bus into Budapest. The rain had eased a little so we walked up Gellért Hill for a great view of the city then spent an hour or so bathing in the hot spring waters at Gellért baths , outside in the late cold rainy afternoon. Pretty amazing ! Dinner at Sörbárka Pub where the food was ordinary and we were hit with an undisclosed 15% "service charge". On a Quiet Tuesday evening, give me a break ! DO NOT GO THERE , I have reviewed the on TripAdvisor and will be using this App in future. Back to the room by 10:30pm Spent $150

18 September 2017

Day 23 - we left Bratislava this morning and drove about an hour through Austria before crossing into Hungary and stopping at Sopron. It is amazing the contrast between the Eastern and Western European countries when we crossed the invisible borders. Austria is so neat and orderly and the east is very much less so, but still nice. In Sopron we spent a few hours exploring the old town and surrounds before the rain pushed us back into the car and so we drove to Keszthely beside Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Europe. We drove around near the lake and approached the host of Ilona Kis Kastely Panzió and booked a room for the night. Interestingly using would have cost 42 Euro/night but dealing direct cost 29 Euro due to off peak season. Our host Anika was great and we chatted with an nice Belgium couple, Mark & Pasquale, for quite a few hours over local Hungarian beer and bulls blood red wine. Spent $83

17 September 2017

Day 22 - Drove 360km from Levoča to Bratislava in pouring rain most of the journey. There were breaks in the weather as we went past nice mountain villages. We were too early for check in, and it was still flogging down, so we went to Auspark shopping centre for lunch and a look around. After we checked into the room I got the bus to the old town and wondered around for about 4 hours then ended up at Slovak Pub for a traditional sausage and cabbage soup and a few pints of the pub house brew (yum). Back through the Old Town square to see a full military band playing the walked 2km back to the accommodation and bed by 11:00pm Spent $186

16 September 2017

Day 21 - a little rainy this morning so a slow breakfast and walk down to the supermarket to get some supplies. By midday the weather started to clear so we drove up to Mariánska Hora for a look around but couldn't go inside as the priests were having a service. We then drove west to Spîs Castle and had an audio tour and look around these 900 yo ruins. Very good. Back to the room in the arvo for a cuppa then wondered around the old town of Levoča for an hour or so. Dinner in our nice room of cheese, prosciutto, tomatoes, rye bread, salad and liverwurst. Bed by 9:30pm Spent $115

15 September 2017

Day 20 - packed up and drove through Kezmorak and then onto Bardejov for a look around this Unesco protected medieval town. We booked into Hotel Barbakan in Levoča had a few drinks then strolled around the old town. Treated ourselves to a nice meal and dessert in the hotel restaurant and bed by 9:30pm. Spent $130

14 September 2017

Day 19 - started our walk at Strbske Pleso (Lake) at 9:00am and hiked up to Velke Hincovo Pleso a high glacial lake @ 1948m high. We had some lunch, boiled the billy and sat around admiring the view. We got back to the car at 5:00pm and went to Poprad for supplies. Feeling a bit stiff so had a couple of beers, left over slush, shower and bed by 9:30pm Spent $90

13 September 2017

Day 18 - up, packed and out the door by 7:00am then drove to Stara Lubovna in Slovakia to look around an outdoor traditional timber cottage museum and main castle. We the drove onto Stary Smokovec at the foot of the High Tatra Mountains to get some information about hikes in the mountains. Finally we checked into Penzion Belvia in the small village of Nova Lesno, got some supplies and cooked dinner. Afterwards we had some local apple spirit home made drink with the owner/host then in bed by 9:30am Spent $160

12 September 2017

Day 17 - nice lazy morning then headed out to Schindler's factory but found that the tickets had been exhausted for the day. We went to one of the main shopping malls and had lunch and a look around. We also had a look around a Factory Outlet complex and bought a couple of items. Back to the room by 6:00pm for dinner and planning our next leg of the trip to Slovakia. Spent $89

11 September 2017

Day 16 - up early to drive out to Auschwitz-Birkenau for 8:00am opening. We beat the crowds and spent 1.5 hours walking around camp 2 in relative isolation. We then drove 2km to camp 1 and the main museum for a guided tour. Out of respect I won't go into detail of what we saw but the visit had a very emotional impact on everyone in our group. I would highly recommend everyone visits this place to remember the atrocities that took place so that it is never allowed to happen again. After we drove back to our accommodation then walked into the Old Town via the river and found a nice place for dinner. Spent $152

10 September 2017

Day 15 - today was kind of a rest day. We slept in until 7:00am, did some hand washing and face timed the girls. We then drove about 40 mins to Ojcow National Park and joined the locals walking forest trails. We saw caves, monoliths and caverns that held hiding Jews during Nazi occupation. After a nice coffee and cake we headed back to get a picture of Krakow Castle then got some food etc for a late dinner. Spent $74

9 September 2017

Day 14 - got up at 5:30am and spent another 3 hours looking around Wroclaw the city of 300 bridges and 21 islands. We drove on the motorway 267 km (toll $9) to reach Krakow and check in to a nice room ($48/night). After dumping our stuff we got a bus into the Old Town to view the castle then headed out bit to the Kazimierz District to see and feel how the locals live. A bit like Newtown etc but a whole lot older. We the checked out the local flea market, the largest medieval market square in Europe and a few more churches. The last stop was an incredible dig site under the main square that has been transformed into a brilliant museum that shows 1000 year old roads, foundations and artifacts spread over a few hundred square meters. By far the best interaction I have had with how life was back in medieval times. Walked back to the accomodation and bed by 11:00pm. Another full but satisfying day. Spent - $174
Day 13 - early start to exit Prague before the traffic. Was going to spend two days here but glad we didn't as for me it was too big and crowded and we saw most of the tourist stuff. Headed an hour out to Hutna Hora to view a church made with the bones of 40,000 skeletons and then had a wonder through the amazingly well preserved old town that was not clogged with tour groups thankfully. Drove over the Polish border and onto Wroclaw to check in to the hostel. It was another big day and we didn't get into the old town until 6:00pm. Wound our way around the old town, various islands and bridges until 10:00pm then bed. Spent - $94

7 September 2017

Day 12 - Got up at sparrows and walked an hour into Prague to see Charles Bridge before the crowds and then onto the Astronomical Clock to see the hourly show. The rest of the day was spent doing a tour of Prague Castle and looking around the old town. Spent - $217

6 September 2017

Day 11 - Drove the scenic backroads to Holasovice for a quick look as it was raining, then onto Hluboka and Vltavou a resort town. We had a tour inside the Chateau which was amazing. We then drove past Karlstejn for a look at the Disney like castle. Next onto Prague and checked into Sir Toby's hostel and grabbed a vego meal down the road. Spent - $178

5 September 2017

Day 10 - Drove from Plzen to Cesky Krumlov via the scenic rural towns drive. Spent the whole day in this amazing medieval town and decided to stay for the night at Krumlov Hostel. We'll be having a traditional Czech meal tonight and then doing a ghost tour. Spent $192

4 September 2017

Day 9 - Drove from Mainz to Plzen in Czech Republic some 445 kms. Arrived around 1:00pm and did a shop in Lidl The checked in. Had lunch then did the 100 min Urquell Pilsener brewery tour. Afterwards went to the old town and dinner + drinks at Parkanu pub for traditional food and local beer. Spent - $225

3 September 2017

Day 9 - drove to Mainz Germany which took 4.5 hours due to autobahn roadworks and traffic. Went to Duisburg on the way to check out the largest sandcastle ever constructed. Checked into Zum Schnackel Hotel and had a look around the old town. Back to the room for a few wines and tuna dish as all supermarkets etc were closed. Early night tonight. Spent 53.1 Euro / $80

2 September 2017

Day 8 - Spent the day with Mateusz looking around Nijmegen and seeing where Colin lived, the accident site and had a lot of beers at his beer cafe. We left a memorial sticker at the cafe and on a pole next to the accident site Spent $226
Day 7 - drove from London to Nijmegen via the Eurotunnel. Long day in the car and we vowed not to drive more than 3/4 hours in future Spent 126 Euro / $ 189 8 GBP. / $ 13

31 August 2017

Day 6 - drove to London and checked into Lakeside B&B at Ilford and caught the tube into London. Di did some shopping around Covent Gardens while I caught up with Craig and Dom from last years Nepal trip. Back by 10:30pm then bed Spent 121 GBP / $202

30 August 2017

Day 5 - Drove to Bolsworth castle for an interesting look around then through some English villages and onto Chatsworth House for a cuppa. Back through Sheffield and home for pies 'n peas and a pint at an old English pub Spent 81 GBP / $135

29 August 2017

Day 4 - Spent the morning chatting with uncle Brian & Aunty Anne the wondered into the village of Tickhill. Had a look into the quaint shops then walked around a ruined castle complete with moat dating back to 1200AD. Drove BRian & Anne to the hospital to pick up mess then had a fresh baked pie and verge for dinner. A few wines then off to bed Spent 72 GBP / $120 including a full tank of fuel @ $1.92/L
Day 3 - got the 6:20am Eurotunnel train to Dover UK, did a walk along the white cliffs and have a cuppa and bacon sanga. Drive up through Canterbury, Rochester and Cambridge to arrive at uncle Brian's in Doncaster. Great catch up and dinner then bed . Spent 18 GBP / $31

28 August 2017

27 August 2017

Day 2 - landed at Paris airport at 7:10am and collected the lease car at 10:30am. Freaked out driving a manual on the wrong side of the road feeling a bit jet lagged. Decided to drive the shortest route to Calais, checked in to the Premiere Classe Calais, stowed our bags and wondered around town for a bit. Picked up some supplies and had tuna, salad and a baguette in a park watching the locals play boche. Spent 109 Euros A$160 for meals, fuel and accommodation. Early night for a 4:15am wake up tomorrow morning to take the Eurotunnel to England

26 August 2017

Day 1 - 10:45am flight to Guangzhou. China Southern Airlines were OK arriving at 6:30pm then a 6 hour intransit hanging around the terminal. Feeling tired and ready for a sleep on the next leg to Paris