Leaving Palermo this morning we arrived in Gatwick, UK and are sitting in a pub called the Parson’s Pig reminiscing about our incredible 10 months abroad spanning over all four seasons. By plane, train, automobile and ferries we managed to slow travel through 10 countries, visiting over 183 cities, towns and villages while staying in 51 different accommodations (45 plus 6 housesits). Lord knows how many miles we logged but here are the countries we visited (mostly in order):
Catching up on blog posts from over a month ago…Slovenia and Sicily to come. Leaving Florence and arriving by train we were back in Venice with our kids. It was much warmer than when we last visited in February during Carnivale but no less crowded and already feeling a little overwhelmed with the mobs of tourists and heat surrounding the city.
After a few days in Naples we were on the move again for our ‘rinse and repeat’ tour of Italy with the kids boarding another FrecciaRosa high speed train for a few days in Rome. This was our fourth time in the eternal city and we were just as excited to be backat our favorite city in the world, just like visiting an old familiar friend.
Back to getting caught up on my blog posts: so I last left off with Sandra and Vyse leaving us and heading for Paris while the kids had just joined us in Naples.
The next day we made a last-minute decision to hop on the train and head to Caserta to visit the Royal Palace. It was about an hour train ride out of Naples, a scenic, relatively quiet and relaxing journey. We had left a bit late in the day so we were on a rushed tour but in retrospect we would have planned to spend a whole day here as it was astounding!
On our last day in Vico we did a day trip into Sorrento for some sightseeing and shopping that was enjoyed by all. The weather was outstanding, we had lots of variety from walking through the beautiful grounds of a hotel/villa to sampling local foods and shopping for souvenirs. We were looking at Sorrento as a place to base ourselves for touring the Amalfi Coast but picked Vico, it seems to be downplayed on sites like TripAdvisor but all of us really enjoyed it. We returned with the kids to Sorrento on our itinerary with them, we spent the day at a beach club and some sight seeing. They also really enjoyed spending the day in Sorrento. Here is a link to the Sorrento, photo gallery.
Next on our spreadsheet of plans was a driving tour of the Amalfi coast and Vyse was back at the helm navigating us along the tricky, twists and turns on one track roads hugging the cliffs of Amalfi. Our first stop was to the town of Ravello where we were blessed with the last parking spot in the lot closest to the town.
Our few days in Rome quickly came to an end and we were off to Naples via the high-speed train on a pleasant journey traveling to the south of Italy. As soon as we arrived in Naples we knew we weren’t in Kansas anymore surrounded by the noise, smells, crowds and chaos that is the fiber of this busy city! We rented a car and I was so thankful that Vyse had elected to do all the driving as it was nuts navigating this city, honking, swearing, swerving, breaking…..and that’s just getting out of the parking lot! There are no rules, it’s a free for all and a big game of chicken when driving in this part of Italy. The four of us with all our luggage jammed into our little rental looked like a comical frat prank on how much can you cram in.
Following up on my last post, here is a video of our tour through Romes iconic landmarks, unimaginable amounts of history walking through the streets where Ceasar once stood!
We’ve done and seen so much in the month of June, on the go every day that I’m just starting to get caught up on my blog entries. We had been intensively traveling with our besties from Calgary (Vyse and Sandra) who joined us for 10 days in Rome, Naples and the Amalfi Coast, then our kids came out and we rinsed and repeated. Overlapping with the kids my dad came out to show us his native land of Slovenia. We spent 6 days with him and the kids, then Janet and I drove them to Venice where they started their journey home. We returned to Slovenia and spent another 10 days with dad, a few days ago we dropped him off at the airport in Ljubljana and drove back to Venice where we hopped on a plane for Palermo, Sicily.
Well everyone has heard me sing the praises of our experiences with Airbnb, a few times we used VRBO and Booking.com with no problems, then we tried Hotels.com and had a terrible, stressful, twilight zone (when you can’t believe this could be real) experience. I will never, ever use Hotels.com again and want to pass on the warning if you feel like reading my rant about our experience.
On our second day based out of Dubrovnik we headed out for another day trip to visit the newest country in Europe, an exotic side trip to the lovely Kotor, Montenegro. The drive should have only been an hour and a half but our GPS took us on a wild trip high up into the mountains that had us arriving after a nerve racking four hours into Kotor. When we hit a rural Bosnian border crossing we knew something was up, we should have only had one crossing into Montenegro but instead we were on a GPS gone amuck adventure. Here is a video of some of the amazing scenery we got to see by mistake as I previously posted on FB.
The day after we arrived in Dubrovnik we headed out on a road trip to Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina following the coast until we hit the first Bosnian border crossing. Little did we know that we had to go through three borders (into Bosnia, back into Croatia, then into Bosnia again) to get to Mostar. It was a bit tedious with two windows and two checks at each crossing and we weren’t even there in high season, I can’t imagine what the traffic would be like mid summer. Be forewarned but I wouldn’t let it deter you from going just thought I’d mention the three crossings as we weren’t expecting it and concerned we might be going the wrong way. The crossings were standard checks, nothing out of the ordinary, just time consuming that had us arriving in Mostar 3 ½ hours later.
Next on our Croatian, Island hoping adventure was the nature island of Korcula, Croatia which took a bit of traveling to get there. After leaving Hvar Town we drove about an hour and ½ to the end of the island and at the port town of Sucaraj we boarded a Jadrolinja ferry to Drevnik, then a ½ hour drive to Ploce for another ferry to Trpanj, then another ½ hour drive across the Peninsula to Orebic for one last ferry, finally arriving in Korcula at the town of Domince.
Early on in our vacation planning we had pondered the idea of Croatia as part of our Schengen exile (if you don’t know what I mean, read our article on the Schengen visa rules) until we could return to Italy. We tossed the idea around but were worried it might be too foreign, that language might be an issue, would it be safe to travel, was it too far…all the hymning and hawing you do when pushing beyond your comfort zones. We were already in Wales, had a month planned in England and it would be easy to just stay another month. But the universe spoke to us once again and now we can’t believe we are in the middle of our Croatian dream.