We’ve been back from our mega European road trip for a couple of weeks now and I haven’t found the time to write about it, mainly because as usual I don’t really know where to start, there’s so much to say. So while I get my act together with more wordy posts and without further ado I thought I’d simply show you a family photo from each day. These pictures show candid moments and family time, not necessarily great travel images, from our 4500 km drive through 8 countries (9 including France).
The first stop was Verona, Italy, dinner by the UNESCO World Heritage Roman Arena: so happy to be on holiday!
The following day after a long drive we reached Bratislava, Slovakia where we stayed in a crazy hotel….
The third day on the road saw us eating breakfast in Slovakia, lunch in the Czech Republic and dinner in Poland. This is what Europe is all about! Here’s the little kid photo-bombing in Brno, Czech Republic.
The main destination on this European road trip was Poland and we were happy to stay in Kraków for 5 days, taking day trips and visiting the beautiful medieval city (another UNESCO site). It involved a not insignificant amount of beer drinking (par for the course in Eastern Europe as far as we were concerned!)
The first day trip was to the phenomenal Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage site, on the outskirts of Kraków. In the following photo we’re in a consecrated church deep underground where everything except the benches, rope and tablecloth is carved out of salt, (oh, and the 3 lads!)
We explored the countryside in Malopolska (southern Poland) and discovered this beautiful village, Zalipie, where nearly all the buildings are covered in floral folk art.
Food is an important part of any holiday for us, we always seek out and try local specialities and here we are in the Kazimierz district of Kraków waiting for zapiekanka – a kind of pizza/baguette snack.
I took the teen to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau – it’s not recommended for children under 14, so JF took the little kid elsewhere for the day. It’s a draining day trip full of horror and deep sadness, one which is hard to put into words, but the million plus visitors a year go so that the victims of the Holocaust are never forgotten.
As with all good summer holidays, ice cream was involved. We make it a point to learn a few words in the language of the country we’re visiting and “ice cream” is always one of them. Considering how difficult Polish can be, we were happy with “lody”.
After Kraków we headed north to Warsaw, which to my surprise delighted me with its mix of brutal Soviet Stalinist buildings, ultra-modern skyscrapers and fully reconstructed Old Town (so brilliantly reconstructed after being flattened in the Second World War that it’s now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.)
Having been in a self-catering apartment in Kraków we stayed in a hotel which meant, much to the boys’ delight, that we ate out 3 times a day. Plenty of pork was consumed! One highlight was devouring delicious pierogi in a traditional Polish restaurant.
Next stop after Warsaw was the utterly unpronounceable but totally lovely Wrocław (it really doesn’t sound anything like it looks!) The thing about this place is that it is overrun by gnomes – hundreds of them, all over the city.
And then before we knew it Poland was over and we found ourselves in Germany; in Dresden to be exact. By now the boys were having a bit of a culture overload so as luck would have it, the boat we were staying on (yes boat!) moored on the Elbe was ideally located on a cycle track. We hired bikes and explored the banks of the Elbe river, where to our surprise we found a vineyard.
As temperatures were hitting the high 30s, we were delighted to discover a most unlikely Ibiza-style “beach” bar, complete with beach volleyball, pool and chillout lounge just opposite our boat. (This is Dresden?)
Dresden was a revelation, beautiful and fascinating and only one of two places in the world to LOSE its UNESCO World Heritage status. Next up, 4 hours on the “no speed limit” autobahn to Munich – one of the (secret) highlights for the boys! Once there, being a large city, we made the most of its efficient U-bahn, something us country bumpkins enjoy….
Our last evening was spent calmly overlooking Lake Lugano in Switzerland (no sightseeing involved!) having had another of those amazing European days: breakfast in Germany, lunch in Liechtenstein, some minutes in Austria and dinner in Switzerland.
We had amazing weather – too hot if anything – and saw so much, including 6 UNESCO sites (as well as Verona, the salt mines and Warsaw already mentioned, the centre of Kraków, Auschwitz-Birkenau and some wooden churches we visited in southern Poland are also on the list – I didn’t count Dresden!) Poland was a new country for me, the 65th I’ve been to, and for my well-travelled kids, by the end of the trip they’d been to 30 and 24 each (not bad for 16 and 10 years old). Hopefully this will be the first of several more detailed posts on the varied and fascinating places we explored, please check back soon….
Do you like road trips like this? Have you been on one or are you planning one?
You might enjoy these related posts from our European road trip:
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