Oct 29, 2010

To vignette or not to vignette

FYI: A vignette is a sticker you pay for that sits in a special spot on your window. It is mandatory for driving on highways and in lieu of paying tolls.

We have just left the Czech, I have had a glass of vino (not true, I'm drinking straight from the bottle).
We chose the faster route to Poland by driving through the Czech. We looked in our camping book for driving rules in the Czech and it didn't even have the county listed (remember this statement for later)
At the border we searched all signs looking for the word vignette... We did not see this anywhere. In three previous countries it was well marked (Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia)
I'm sure you can see where this is going...

The RV Lifestyle

Ah yes, life on the road. The initial draw for us was monitary as an RV rental would allow us to save a few precious benjies but over the past few weeks it's become a real insight into the life of an rv traveller.

I think Nicole would agree that far and away the best aspect of this leg has been the freedom. With a home on wheels you can stop and go as you wish. This was especially awesome when picking lunch spots in the French alps which most any hotel would have a hard time competing.


According to one of our travel books Europe on a shoestring, "Vienna is a city that straddles the past and present with ease. No other city effortlessly combined a rich history that has left behind such remarkable gifts as gothic Stephansdom or baroque Schonbrunn palace with contemporary gems like the Leopold Museum o MuseumsQuartier."

After the decision was made to cut the trip short by 2 weeks  was made through our trek through Slovenia to in light of our backpacker exhaustion, we decided to make a few stops en route to Dusseldorf, Germany .
One such stop was Vienna, Austria. Now, a few weeks back we were pleasantly surprised with Vienna’s sister city to the west, Salzburg, and so we expected somewhat the same this time around.

Oct 27, 2010


We wanted to make one last stop along the Adriatic coast before leaving Italy and heading into Slovenia. So, we picked Triste...
When we got off the highway, there was a Reindeer training camp... In all honesty, there were families of bucking deer running along a pond.
Then we began the very narrow and steep decent down the mountainside to the coastal town. It was probably another one of those top 100 roads we have driven that should only be done in a tint porsche.
One at the bottom, we drove just out of the main town, found parking and set up a picnic lunch outside along the Adriatic. It was a perfect ending to our stay in Italy.
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Slovenia, a Teapot & a Change

We drove into Slovenia, twice, we missed the correct exit after purchasing our traffic vignette and headed for the capital of Ljubljana.  After missing our exit again (we didn’t have GPS for this country so we were on Adam’s navigation), we found a McDonald’s parking lot to power up the computer…except they didn’t have wifi. So we climbed back into the RV to rest.
I was tired and Adam and I began talking and the idea of being exhausted from travel (yes it does happen when you are not relaxing by a beach for 5 days, a 4 month adventure is much different). We talked about not really caring if we walked around Ljubljana and how we had a good 18 days left, where would we go, what would we do.  Then, we still had Ireland and due to our quicker expenditure of our travel funds we were not going to be able to experience Ireland in a way we had hoped. Our zest for adventure just wasn’t the same as before.
So, we made the decision to look into coming home early. We luckly found a little café where the waitress allowed us to plug in, grab coffee and a sandwich and sit online for 5 hours. Here, we went back and forth with our travel agent trying to figure out how to affordably change our tickets and not cause us to have to pay huge fees and new ticket fees seeing as though we wanted to leave soon.
We contacted the RV company and in the end…success!
I have to tell you, calling my mom and telling her…cut your countdown by 12 days, im coming home soon…was the best.
Our waitress shared in our excitement (she worked on a cruise ship based out of Miami and was so nice). She gave us a tea pot for us to remember Slovenia by and we chatted it up.
Adam and I had a great night sleep knowing we only had 6 more days.

Oct 25, 2010


Pompeii was a city built on the side of Mount Vesuvius that was destroyed or rather frozen in time when it erupted in 79 AD. The people of Pompeii were obviously devastated when the lava ran over their lives, and maybe wondered why on earth it happened to them. As Adam and I talked about it, we realized that the reason it happened was so that all of us, thousands of years later would be able to see what life was like all over the countryside. Most of the other cities disappeared over time, but this one remained frozen.

Oct 23, 2010


I really believe that if you can only travel to one place in your whole life, Rome should be it. First off, which has nothing to do with the history of Rome, but of all places to find a parking spot… we arrived on Saturday afternoon and immediately found a spot on the side of the road. When I put in 6 euros for parking, it marked us paid until Monday morning! So, we had a prime spot, less than a mile from the Coliseum and Vatican City and for less than 10 dollars. We were set. An extra added bonus was that someone who lived nearby had a nonreliable but unsecured wireless connection. Although we didn’t have power to the RV, so we didn’t have much time on the computer, we were able to use the ipod to post a few emails which was nice.

Oct 22, 2010


Yes, Italy in its own right has been spectacular. But, if you can throw an authentic Bond location into the mix, it pretty much becomes stellar. Such was the case with our next stop in Italia....Sienna.

For those who've had the pleasure of seeing the newest Bond installment, Quantum of Solace, you will know that a fair portion of the movies opening scenes take place throughout the picturesque city of Sienna.

Oct 21, 2010


Firenze!!! Its tough to not get excited to visit these places just sayin the names. Each one seems as legendary as the next especially for first time eurotripper like us.

Florence, a city that goes hand and hand with Renaissance mastery is full of places to appreciate the arts and architecture.


Pisa made for a quick stopover. We spent some time lost, trying to find the famous leaning tower. While we were lost we stumbled upon some of Italy’s finest women standing on the side of the road looking for a lttle fun. (The Spanish women looked like more fun). We parked at the entrance to town, walked a few 100 meters and boom, a huge courtyard which made us realize we were in the right place. Through a few arched doorway stood the Duomo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I think this is one of those buildings that they should leave out of tour books, movies and schooling because it all really steals this amazing buildings thunder. Coming to the tower, you know that yes, the tower is leaning and everyone and their mother must get a picture of themselves holding it up.

The building, if learned about in school may not at first appear to be that impressive, honestly because you are expecting more. BUT, Ladies and Gents, I thought that the leaning piece of architecture was absolutely stunning. Both it and the church it stands next to is made from a very white marble that is a great contrast with a beautiful blue skied afternoon.

Po Valley

Although Adam may disagree, due to his yellow face most of the ride, this road was harder to drive than the D900. The SS12 may have been the most beautiful road I have ever driven on. It may have something to do with the air up high, the fall leaves or the little villages that we wove our way through. The Po Valley begins South of Milan and runs, well, south. When you think you have hit the bottom, it just tends to wind its way right back up for a fun 4-5 hours of driving down hill in neutral and up hill in 3rd.
The scenery was well worth every minute of Adam holding back his breakfast.

Oct 20, 2010

Italy's Dark Horse...

In Germany, as previously blogged, we had the opportunity to tour the BMW Welt which highlighted the engineering prowess and precision of the German automotive machine. In Italy, they have auto’s too, except, they use them differently.
Germans want a car that drives nice and will last until the apocalypse is over….and they have built cars that most certainly will do both. Italians however, want a car that can outrun god and look sexy doin it…. should that occasion present itself….and they too have it. It’s called a Ferrari.

Oct 19, 2010


Now we’re getting somewhere. Not that the countries prior were anything less than impressive but this is now Italy….and this, is Venice.
We parked it at a campground to celebrate the occasion with a shower and a shave on my part. Both very much overdue at this point. We relaxed for the afternoon on our arrival day to recharge after some hefty cruisin that left us a bit more exhausted then usual. The campground was conveniently located near a bus that would whirl us away the next morning and and onto the canal filled mystery. 

Oct 17, 2010


Salzburg, not Salsburg or Salzberg is in Austria, not the United Kingdom and if you plug it into your GPS you may be in for a surprise should you drive to the wrong one.
For those of you who are fans of The Sound of Music, yes some of it was filmed here in downtown Salzburg, we even visited the abbey where Maria was first found. Salzburg was a quaint town, quite large, clean and full of open squares. I had no idea that Mozart too was from Salzburg. The old city was fairly easy to navigate through, and find parking. The weather was a little grey, but almost fitting for the town.

A Day with Silas

As mentioned, Silas is another friend we met in Vietnam. He is very
good friends with Daniel. He came back to Waldi for the night since we
were in town, from where he goes to school. We met him early, well
9:30 am and took a walk around the village he and Daniel live in. We
are apples, pears, grapes, raspberries and black berries directly from
the trees/bushes. We saw the local pigs, rabbits, ducks, goats, horses
and dogs.

The Werner's Farmhouse

After the nice stopover in Bern, our next desitnation was northward to
visit a new friend we met in Vietnam a few months back. Daniel, had
invited us to come visit his family on their farm when we cruised
through Switzerland and we did just that. After some help from a local
restaurant owner to local Daniels phone number, Daniels lovely sister
came to lead us to the farmhouse.

100 days...

In school, 100 days is a big deal. The 100 days of school is a big
celebration for the students and teachers to count 100 of everything.
Well, yesterday we celebrated our 100 days of travel. I can’t believe
it, 100 days. We have traveled to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos,
Malaysia and Singapore, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, France,
Spain and Switzerland. The experiences we have had these last 100 days
are so special and some of the most simple and silly ones are the ones
that will stick in the fronts of our minds forever. We hope that you
have enjoyed reading as much as we have enjoyed sharing. 31 days left
of travel, 6 more countries and countless blogs to come.

Bern baby Bern

Bern has to have been one of my absolute favorite cities so
far. It was nestled in the valleys of Switzerland. It was clean, well
manicured, had a fabulous daily market and a good transportation
system. Bern is the national capital of the Swiss Federation and is
known as the town of bears.

Geneva and Morges..Switzerland!

Overall our observation is that Switzerland is expensive. It is more
expensive than any other European Union Country or really any eastern
country, including Japan, that we have traveled too. Eating out costs
more than 25 Francs per person (McDonalds was 15 pp), a pair of warm
socks was close to 14 Francs. The grocery store was unexplainably
expensive (we walked out with 13 items at over 50 Francs).

The French Alps

There must be a cool office somewhere in the world full of
people that get to name roads. For the most part its probably a pretty
boring job as most roads and highways don’t drum up much excitement or
at least not enough to create a name worthy of such. I bet, however,
that the dudes called upon to drum up a smart name for the roads
winding through the French alps were psyched with their final

Oct 16, 2010

The BMW Welt....Munich!

Some people associate Germans with brats and beer. This is very much true but as you drive through the streets of German towns, their autobahns and peer into the driveways you will notice another focal point to the German. They love automotive engineering and so they buy Audi, Mercs, Porsches and of course...the BMW.

Oct 12, 2010

Spanish Senoritas

Imagine our surprise as we entered Spain and drove down the highway to see tons of these ladies sitting in lawn chairs on the side of the road. Some waved as Adam creepily took pictures, others danced and others texted on their phones. The cops also drove down the road like it was no big thing, so I guess it Spain...the ladies are free to do as they wish.

standing on the shoulders of giants in Monaco...

To this point, the trip has been absolutely phenomenal. We have seen some spectacular places and some really inspiring cities along the way. I must admit though, there is something missing for me from time to time as we approach each new marked spot on our travel map. I mean, yes, Barcelona, Paris, and Amsterdam are excellent cities with a vibe and energy that is very unique and memorable but yet, I am still not entirely enthrawled. You see, there is somethong about a city that is defined by the world as a racing mecca, a prestigious exclamation point on ones lifes work in motorsport,....and that place....naturally... is Monaco, Monte Carlo.

Cannes, France

We began our day in Cannes hoping to catch a train from there along the coast to Monaco. I guess it would've worked if we were driving a mini, but of course things didn't go as smoothly for the Americans in an RV.
We drove into the old city of Cannes looking for the train station and saw many old cars and small streets like most of the other French towns we've driven through. We found a few parking lots, but they all had height restrictions of 1.8 meters, us being closer to 3 wouldn't fit below the markers without cutting the RV in half. So, we trucked on and found a spot at the train station. However, you could only pay in coins (we only had bills) and you could only pay for 3 hours at a time (we wanted all day). I confidently walked into the station to the information desk. The not so helpful woman with her permanent frown and made up face only had a few words for me.

Oct 9, 2010

Hola Barcelona!

What a change the border of a country brings. As we neared the southern border of France, the buildings took on more of a Spanish flair and the countryside became more arrid. The sprawling fields turned into barren grounds of browns and clays. and then...we were in Spain. We headed down the eastern coast in search of a camp ground in Calella. We found not only a beautiful camp ground on a hillside called the Bonita Buena Vista, but also a street of call girls right out in the open. We unpacked our awning and table and chairs, did some laundry...and then went on search of the train to take us into the city.
We boarded the train in a city called Sant Pol de Mar and it was a beauty, right on the Mediterranean with blue hues, narrow streets and white buildings.

France: The countryside

No, I can't tell you about Spain, Italy or the splendor of the distant Swiss alps....well, because we haven't gotten there yet. What I can tell you is that over the past week, Nicole and I have been engulfed in the marvelous serenity of the french countryside.

Yes, Paris was great. If you have cash, some star-tude and a frilly scarf, it's the place...but if your taste is more visual, hitting cruise control on a rolling highway north of Bordeaux is paramount.

Oct 4, 2010

From Paris with Love....

Ok, so we finally snagged some wifi at a McDonald's so i can catch you up on the goings on from Frenchyland.

Ahh Paris, its the sort of place that you imagine stepping into and falling in love with everything all over again....but then you get a whaft of urine and that changes a few things. The city itself is rather picturesque but as in every major metropolis made famous in movies, the actual reality falls a little short. Parts of the city are exquisite while others are somewhat dirty and mildy sketched out.

Mt. St. Michel, France

After our short stopover in Dieppe, we headed to the nearby dramatic site of Mt. St. Michel. The massive building along the dikes of northern France stands 250 above sea level and had been attracting gawking onlookers since its construction completed during the 16th century.

Now, because we are on a tight shoestring, we decided not to pay the 10 euro parking price tag and snap a few illegal photos from the "no stopping" lanes nearby ;) Still a pretty impressive sight

Paris is next!

Waiting for the sunrise (video pending)

It has been hours, I have been sitting on the chair in the Rv waiting for the sun to rise. You see, we are in the middle of these trees and the wind is howling, leaves are flying and acorns or rain or who knows is falling from the sky. My over active imagination has all the huge trees surrounding us trampling down our new home and toto flying by. The sounds of the winds and flying debris remind me of who know what.
I am petrified of storms and have been for as long as I can remember. Summer afternoons in Florida I would spend in the closet with the dogs waiting for the storm to end. So, sitting in an Rv, feeling the wind shake us, is not really my dream morning.
At least the sun has risen so I can stare out the window and see what's going on as I sip my coffee, wait for Adam to wake up and the winds to stop. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

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