Our first 8 months of our Year in Review 2017 had us visiting some wonderful travel destinations which we wrote about here – TravelKiwis Year in Review. But there was so much more to see, we decided to highlight the second part of our awesome year, this is focused on our road trips.
TravelKiwis Year in Review 2017
Part 2 Road Trips August-September 2017
We were excited about the end of the year, as we had bought a car in Germany late August, and would use this to do some road trips as we travelled between house-sits. Our first road trip was to be our 10 Country 10 Night trip from Greifswald, Northern Germany to Italy. We then had a 2-week house-sit in a small Italian village. We followed this up with a 3-week Road Trip to the top of Italy, down the Coast of Croatia, into Bosnia and Herzegovina, across Montenegro, and then to Albania. Here are some of the highlights…..
1. Rakotzbruke, Germany
Our first ‘Wow’ moment was on Day 1 during our stop at Rakotzbrücke, near the German-Polish border. This is a stone bridge built in the 1880s. We think it just was made for the effect rather than any real purpose because the lake it crosses is so small it is easy to walk around, but isn’t it stunning.
2. Castle Ksaiz, Poland
On Day 2 on our drive from Kromlau, Germany to Wroclaw, Poland, we deviated to see Castle Ksaiz, near Walbrzych. Built 1288-92, and despite the attentions of two 20th century foreign occupations (Germany & Russia), it has survived in good condition.
3. Wroclaw, Poland
Day 2 and 3 was spent in Wroclaw, a large city in Poland. Maura is photographing the buildings along Rynek in the huge central square area of Wroclaw. We loved the colours and the architecture. This area is so pretty with three distinct sections with stunning buildings, and loads of cafes and bars to people watch and pass the time. Of course, if we were pros at all this, the backpack wouldn’t be there, lol 😄
Blog – Five Highlights of Wroclaw
4. Olomouc, Czech Republic
We stopped by the city of Olomouc, Czech Republic on Day 4 of our Road Trip. The city is stunning and will be even more so once the current renovations of streets and buildings are complete. The Gothic St Wenceslas Cathedral sits on Wenceslas Hill, and was consecrated in 1131. The tower is just over 100m high, the 2nd tallest in the country.
Blog – Four Countries in One Day
5. Bratislava, Slovakia
We had been to Bratislava 30 years ago on another road trip, with Maura’s brotherJoe and sister Liz. It was amazing to return and see how much the place had blossomed now that the country was no longer under the influence of the Soviet Union. On Day 5 we went through Michael’s Gate, one entrance into the old town of Bratislava, and where all the activity is. In this area you will find every bar, cafe, restaurant you ever need, as well as access up to the castle, and the lively squares to relax and people watch
6. Lake Bled, Slovenia
Day 6 was a night in Zagreb, Croatia via Hungary. We reached Lake Bled, Slovenia on Day 7 of our road trip. This shot was taken from Castle Bled. The climb up to the castle burned off a few calories. The views are spectacular as was the thunderstorm that struck soon after, so we didn’t do the climb the other side of the lake. Still the coffee was good while we watched the lightning blaze across the sky.
7. Predjama Castle, Slovenia
Day 8 we explored Ljubljana and Day 9 we visited Predjama Castle, near Ljubljana, Slovenia. It is quite an impressive bit of building for the 1200’s. That and the cave system underneath makes it the biggest Cave Castle in the world, and yet we didn’t even know there was a ranking for such a thing. Do you know of any other cave castles?
8. Padua, Italy
Also On Day 9 of our road trip saw us in Padua (Padova), Italy. We have seen so many stunning places along the route, we didn’t think anything would surprise us. But then we turned a corner and our skin tingled with the sight of towers and domes adorning the Basilica di Saint Antonio. Have you had an experience where something unexpected made your jaw drop?
Blog – North East Italy Road Trip
9. San Marino, Republic of San Marino
The last night of our 10 night 10 country road trip was in the worlds smallest and oldest republic, San Marino. San Marino city sits atop Monte Titano and has three towers perched on the three peaks of the mount. It is hard to believe a pretty city sits up there with lovely buildings and viewpoints at every turn. The drive up to the city puts your driving skills to the test on winding roads with sharp bends, but once at the top the views are 360 degrees of sensational scenery.
10. Moresco, Italy
By the time we reached our house-sit in the small village of Moresco, Italy, (population 606), it was September 1st. The first of our 11 nights there was a food festival within the castle walls celebrating a specific salami created in the town – Ciauscolo. We couldn’t resit joining in and putting our limited Italian to the test. It can’t have been too bad as we were fed and had a drink. We also chatted with some locals, who thankfully spoke better English than our Italian.
Following our house-sit in Moresco, we had a 6-week gap before returning to Moresco for the next house-sit back. We decided another road trip was the best way to fill the time, so we planned the trip in two parts. The first 3-weeks we would go to the top of Italy, down the Coast of Croatia, into Bosnia and Herzegovina, across Montenegro, and then to Albania.
11. Zadar, Croatia
Zadar is known for its stunning sunsets, and the ones we saw did not disappoint. We nearly missed this sunset, as earlier the clouds had come in and it looked like there would be nothing to see. But as we settled in for a drink, we looked out our window and Wow!!! Red, pink and yellow all combined for a dazzling show. The area where you watch the sunset has a ‘Sea Organ’, music is played as the movement of the water forces air through pipes in the promenade.
12. Krka National Park, Croatia
This was taken at Skradinski Buk in the Krka National Park in Croatia and represents a lot about us and our relationship. We love traveling together, going to new places, testing the water, choosing excitement over comfort, and experiences over possessions. Krka has some great walking tracks and several waterfalls to explore, or swim to.
13. Split, Croatia
For our wedding anniversary gift we booked a day out on a boat cruising to some spectacular locations off the coast of Split. The highlight was to venture inside the Blue Cave. The light comes from a 4 metre wide gap that allows light to reflect off the floor of the cave 16 metres below the surface. It is a stunning place that has to be seen to be believed.
14. Kravica, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Our first stop in Bosnia and Herzegovina was at the beautiful Kravica Waterfalls only 15 minutes from the Croatian border. The water is clear and a little chilly which explains why only one other person was swimming at the same time as us. Maybe that’s why others paid the boat guy €2.50 to take them across the water.
15. Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
We loved looking at the Old Bridge in Mostar, from any angle it is a beauty. It gets busy in Mostar during the day with loads of people on day trips from other places. But in the morning and at night there are very few people there. We had this viewing spot almost to ourselves. The Old Bridge originally opened in 1567, it stood for 427 years before being destroyed in 1993 during the Croat-Bosnian War. It was rebuilt and reopened in 2004.
16. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik is a magnificent walled city which dates back to the 7th century although most of the old town is rebuilt. The city suffered significant damage during the break up of Yugoslavia in the early 90’s. After the rebuild the city emerged as one of the top tourist destinations in Europe. We saw this ourselves when we entered an empty city at 7am to walk the walls that open at 8am. We managed to walk the wall without any others walking with us. But by 10am the city was completely full, as three cruise ships had berthed and had been continually ferrying passengers into the city. We left immediately to return in the evening with far less people around.
17. Kotor, Montenegro
The Bay of Kotor taken from Fortress Kotor high above the Old Town of Kotor, Montenegro. The views in this stunning area are incredible where ever you are looking from. We climbed up the fortress in the morning (=100 flights of stairs), the opposite hill to the old Austro-Hungarian Fort in the afternoon (another 60 flights), and explored the old town during the day and the evening. It is the most remarkable place at the end of a coastal inlet. We loved this place as the scenery reminded us so much of our homeland New Zealand💕
Check out our walking path for Kotor Old Town City Walls
18. Budva, Montenegro
On October 3rd, we stopped at Budva, Montenegro after visiting Kotor, and couldn’t resist jumping into the clear blue water from the pier at Ricardova Glava beach. We met some cool young Russians, and one took this pic, and we think he nailed it. The background is Budva Citadel, an old town with a wall completely surrounding it.
19. Kruje, Albania
Visiting Albania was like taking a step back in time. The country is struggling economically and the infrastructure is certainly in need of investment. It is a Muslim country so five times a day the loudspeakers play the call to prayer, depending on the voice this can be quite alluring or very annoying. We stayed in a nice hotel in the mountain town of Kruje with views to Kruje Castle and the mosque. The next day we drove to the coastal city of Durres to catch the overnight ferry to Bari Italy.
We made the voyage across to Italy on October 5th, and had a good sleep in our €8 cabin. Then we and set off on another 3-weeks on the road, this time across the bottom of Italy, to Scilly and then up the west coast.
You can see the pics from this road trip in our next part of TravelKiwis Year in Review 2017 – Best Road Trip Pics Italy, to be published soon.