In the first instalment of our Globe Trotting feature, our Editor, Amie Woodyatt, writes of her experiences travelling through Europe this summer – including some of the biggest trials and tribulations of her road trip!
This summer I spent two weeks driving to (and back from) Dubrovnik, Croatia. It was a tough journey with lows of sleeping in the back of a 2001 Ford Fiesta and being charged £60 for parking overnight in Dubrovnik (tourist traps: they exist), to highs of having an apartment for two and finding a cheap room in Venice. It was a wild ride, and if you plan on doing anything similar next summer, start planning now!
On our first day, we travelled from England to Brussels. Driving on the right was a strange experience, but something we quickly got used to. We managed a brief walk around the city before finding a bite to eat; Brussels has some beautiful architecture and a lot of culture – we saw street art and live music!
The next day we travelled through Luxemburg on our long drive to Stuttgart, eventually arriving at our destination late in the evening. We went out to find food and explore around 9-10pm and found ourselves in the city centre with people out clubbing and wandering alike. Instead of leaving at 8am, we stayed until around 11 and explored a little more of what Stuttgart had to offer.
Due to leaving Stuttgart later, we were ‘behind schedule’ to arrive at our Stelvio hotel. This would have been fine, except that after making our way through Austria (remember to buy a vignette for the roads) and technically through Switzerland (we didn’t realise, but we actually topped up our fuel in a small Swiss town) it was 10pm as we made our way up steep, winding roads where I only got into 3rd gear around twice. Our Fiesta struggled, her lights weren’t working except for off or on full beam (meaning we either blinded people or went blind ourselves) and we ended up with a leak, but through the struggle (I didn’t want to face hills again), we made it.
The morning brought engine checks and many tools, but Rocket (yes, we named her) got going and got us to the beautiful Lake Garda. If you want to relax in Italy, this is one of the places to go.
We had another slow start in Lake Garda before heading to Portorož, where we discovered rooms had been booked in a slightly haphazard way, meaning we lucked-out on an entire apartment to ourselves. Tip if you’re travelling through Slovenia: top up on fuel while IN Slovenia, it is much cheaper than Italy.
Driving through Croatia the next day, we stopped off at Krka National Park to take in the scenery. Then, after eight hours on the road (not including an hour ferry trip around Bosnia and Herzegovina), we reached Dubrovnik with the evening light cascading over the city.
We then spent a couple of days in Dubrovnik before heading back to England, this time going across Italy into France (and staying at a chateau), before heading north and finally home. European road trips can be long and tiring but seeing so many cultures and new places is exciting and eye-opening. I can’t wait to see somewhere new in 2019.
Featured image by: Amie Woodyatt
All photos taken by and © Amie Woodyatt