Road-tripping in Europe is one of our favourite ways to take a holiday; it’s so satisfying driving through different countries in a short time, crossing international borders often several times a day. Take for example our holiday last summer where we woke up in one country, had lunch in another and spent the night in a third four separate times. As the countries change so does the language, the food, the architecture, the street signs, the modes of transport, the shops, the customs and the currency (not as much as it used to but there are still some countries in Europe which don’t use the Euro and we visited three). The diversity is fascinating. There really is something rather fun about having breakfast in one country, lunch in a second and dinner in a third. Read on to see how we had 3 meals in 3 countries in one day, 4 times in one holiday.
Our objective was to spend most of our time exploring Poland, with a few days in Germany too so to make the most of our limited time we had to crack on and put in the miles during the first two days of our trip. We left home in the afternoon and drove to Verona where we had spent a night a couple of years before on the way to Croatia (another great European road trip).
The next morning after breakfast in Italy we drove into Austria, where we stopped for an obligatory schnitzel in a service station, and ended the day in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Traffic had been bad and we arrived late to find the only places serving food were the snack bars at the train station, a 10 minute walk from our crazy colourful hotel (dining room in photo below, another photo here).
It might not have been glamorous or relaxing, but it was unbelievably good value. We had 4 large sausages in bread, 2 burgers, 3 large beers, 2 soft drinks and 4 ice creams for 13€! The contrast couldn’t have been greater from the previous night in Verona. We went from an over-priced touristy, but never-the-less delicious, restaurant next to the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Roman arena to a stand-up snack bar by the station surrounded by drunks and a few weary travellers.
Honestly it wasn’t as bad as it sounds, the food was tasty, the stallholder was a great deal friendlier than the waiter in Verona, we didn’t feel unsafe and it was all part and parcel of what makes travel such an adventure: improvisation and the unexpected.
The next morning, after a simple breakfast including cigar-shaped bread rolls which reminded me of living in Prague as a teenager (as did the stalls with tiny openings to communicate and pass food through the night before), we set off for lunch in Brno, the capital of Moravia, a historical country in the Czech Republic. We didn’t hang around and visit Bratislava this time as we’d been the year before and had a lot of mileage to cover to get to the apartment we’d rented in Krakow that night.
However, having never been to Brno before, and the first time in the Czech Republic for the kids we had factored a little sightseeing into our timing. Before an enormous lunch of meat, cheese, garlic and fried everything, washed down with delicious local beer (which was to become a bit of a theme of the holiday….par for the course in central Europe) we explored the city.
All in all we spent about 4 hours in Brno, not bad for a road trip stop. Next up was the final leg to Krakow, where we were very happy to partake of the local beer on arrival, followed by a traditional meal of pierogi and soup.
After 8 days in Poland we moved on to Dresden and then to Munich. Our penultimate night on holiday was spent in an enormous biergarten, you guessed it, drinking beer!
By this stage I was utterly meated out. Central European food is heavy on sausages, meat, and more sausages, so I ordered a salad, craving some greens. Hah, just look at my German salad. A pile of cold garlic sausage with one cherry tomato, one radish, a gherkin and plenty of sliced red onion, drizzled in vinegar! I had to laugh. My attempt to avoid sausage was well and truly thwarted. At least it went well with beer.
The next day was to be our third day of three meals in three different countries (though we actually drove through 4, passing through Austria for a few minutes). After breakfast in Munich we set off for lunch in Liechtenstein (really just because we could!) We can’t say we explored this tiny nation but for me it was an opportunity not to miss, by taking a 5 minute detour we entered another country, and I’m never one to pass up such a chance.
We were hungry and had a fair way to go that day so we stopped at the first town we came to. It was pretty much soulless and devoid of character, perfectly pristine and totally empty, but we found a snack bar and filled our bellies. Our objective of a meal in another country was fulfilled.
That night we stayed high above Lake Lugano in Switzerland where we feasted on limitless amounts of divine homemade ravioli. We stayed in a hotel down a very narrow (2 way but only one car wide) mountain road about 20 minutes’ drive from the town of Lugano. It never occurred to us the place wouldn’t take credit cards and we had no cash…. Amazingly the wonderfully friendly owner wouldn’t hear of it that we return to town to get some Francs. He said it was too far and too much of an alarming drive and that we could just transfer the money to his account when we got home!
This was no small sum, being Switzerland, a hotel with a pool, aperitifs, dinner and breakfast for 4…. He simply trusted us; it was an unexpected, touching and delightful end to a great holiday. And very un-21st century! Together with the never-ending supply of delicious food (there was no menu, just what his wife was cooking that night) the warm relaxed ambience was a far cry from the reserved, dour image of the Swiss. To go a tiny way towards repaying such kindness I want to wholeheartedly recommend the Hotel Panorama. But if you do go please take cash!
Finally our last day on the road saw us eat breakfast in Switzerland, snack in Italy and home for tea. Do you like taking road trips through different countries and across international borders? I’d love to hear from you.
Read more about our central European road trip: Holiday Snapshots – Road Trip 2015
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So pleased to hear you’re finally making it to France Ting, Guedelon is an amazing place, you’ll love it.
Food is a very important part of our travels Kimberly!
I love this Phoebe – it’s such an adventure and I have to admit one I have never done before. I think I would be meated out too, after all your great meals (I love meat!) So, we’ve never really done a European road trip, but you’ll be pleased to know I am finally driving to France this May as guests of Guedeleon in Burgundy! Any tips would be most appreciated 🙂 Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes
Just not the salad I ordered!!!
What fun! I love the idea of a different meal in a different country. What an unique way to see Europe.
Bises, Kimberly #MondayEscape
I love the idea of this! Great to experience the different cuisines of each different country. I too have a bit of a reputation for avoiding sausages in Germany – I swear them come with every meal! Fortunately they do some brilliant salads! #MondayEscapes
I missed it too when I lived in Australia. It’s easy to take for granted though.
Yes it sure is amazing! Such diversity at our fingertips!
What a road trip! Was curious how you could eat three meals in three different countries and wow! You did it. Europe is just so amazing. #mondayescapes
That makes me very jealous. And hungry!! That’s exactly why I miss living in Europe. The variety of culture, food, languages and architecture. Thanks for sharing!
But you can’t get tomato sandwiches in restaurants Susie! Liechtenstein looks exactly like Switzerland (the tiny bit we saw.) How glamorous to have an off shore account there….
I love the idea of choosing your country for lunch. Fab!
We were blown away by the hotelier’s trust in us, it was such a lovely gesture. and yes, the less said about that salad the better…!!!
Yes it certainly was Jacqueline 🙂
I’m glad we made it to Brno too Corinne 🙂
Ahh we like to do a bit of serious eating on holiday Catherine!
It’s funny how that sounds great to me too, while I absolutely love the European road trip border hopping thing, I’d love to drive across Canada too. I’ve done a lot of driving in Australia which is similar to Canada in that it’s huge too.
Living near a national border is such fun, we’re only an hour from Italy where I live. Country hopping really is part of the European psyche I think.
Food plays a HUGE part in our travels, we all appreciate and enjoy trying different types of food, but this time I really missed vegetables!
Thanks for commenting Aditi, great that you’ve done a trip like this too.
I’d love to take a road trip in the States, that’s a big wish of mine.
Thanks for your kind words Swags, I’m glad you like my salad!!! Luckily you play so much sport I’m sure you can take all that meat, but I think I’d turn into a sausage if I lived in Germany!!!
We tend to take to for granted living here; it’s only when I sit down to write about it that I marvel at how lucky we really are! I hope you get to live in Europe one day Ruth.
You are making me super jealous! I have to do this one day. Yo have no idea how I would like to live in Europe (the food is one of the number one reasons).
Phoebe, these road trips sound AMAZING!!! I love your meal-per-country plan, I think it’s perfect. And man, this Bavarian cuisine sure has got me down after four spoiled years in France. At least I have the volleyball to offset any potential weight gain…but it’s frustrating to go out to eat! :p That hotel in Switzerland looks beyond incredible, and I have to laugh at German “salad.” Very inspiring post!!
That is so cool! I get excited visiting several different states in the U.S. in one day but have definitely never dined in three countries all in 24 hours. Everything sounds fun and tasty!
Thrilling!!!! I remember doing just that ’bout 7-8 years ago.. 3 meals in 3 diff countries… 😉
great post! #monday escapes
Fantastic! It’s amazing how food memories linger the longest. That’s true of our travels at least and it looks like it is for you too! #MondayEscapes
Excellent. I grew up in The Netherlands, 5 minutes away from Belgium. Hopping from one country to another is in my blood. It’s great to discover a couple of countries in a short time.
Growing up in Canada we could drive for days and days and still be in Canada. Even flying anywhere took forever! It’s so big, so it was such a big shock to me to move to the UK where you could nip and whiz here and there in a matter of half hours! What a super trip you had!
This looks like serious eating as well as border hopping.
Phoebe, I cracked up. Yes, there is lots of meat in this part of the world, good for those chilly nights. I get to missing vegetables and salads sometimes when I travel because of it. Glad you made it to Brno.
What a lovely way to spend a few days!
Only in Europe could you do such a thing, wow amazing! An hotel owner who trusts the guests to transfer the money later, that’s unheard of, a really beautiful gesture!
That German salad certainly doesn’t look much of a salad…
Yes, you can cover a lot of ground in a fairly short amount of time. Super nice 🙂
Looks an amazing trip, Europe is certainly amazing the way your days travelling can be so diverse. I remember when we lived in Bruxelles we used to wake up and say ‘now which country shall we go to for lunch?!’ Great post-Phoebe, have another beer!
That sounds like so much fun, and looks like just the kind of trip I enjoy. All the meat would have been a problem, but we would have been perfectly happy with tomato sandwiches. 😉
I’ve always wondered what Liechtenstein is like. Years and years ago I had a bank account there, it was operated mysteriously by my boss at the time and I was never quite sure whether my money was actually there or not. But when I came to draw it out, it was. For some reason the name of the place always conjures up Gilbert and Sullivan.