Europe-2012 Travel

Trip to Europe – England, Italy, and a roat trip through Croatia.

I have been to Europe twice before, once in the winter of 2007 (England, Brussels, France), and another in the winter of 2008 (Germany, Czech Republic, Amsterdam, England). I actually proposed to my girlfriend in London last time around! Not to leave out the many trips throughout the USA, and down to Central America/Mediterranean Sea. I love winter trips, it’s cheaper, less crowded, and I love the atmosphere. The downside is some things are closed, where they would be open during the summer months. So this time around, we wanted to see Europe in the summer! I am also of Croatian decent, so that lead is to our road trip through Croatia. The itinerary was as follows :

Day 1 – MSP -> London
Day 2 – London
Day 3 – London -> Venice
Day 4 – Venice
Day 5 – Venice (Lido)
Day 6 – Venice -> Pula, Croatia
Day 7 – Pula to Plitvice Lakes (CAR RENTAL START)
Day 8 – Plitvice Lakes
Day 9 – Plitvice Lakes – Sibenik
Day 10 – Sibenik
Day 11 – Sibenik
Day 12 – Sibenik – Mljet Island
Day 13 – Mljet island
Day 14 – Mljet island – Dubrovnik
Day 15 – Dubrovnik
Day 16 – Dubrovnik – Rome (CAR RENTAL END)
Day 17 – Rome
Day 18 – Rome – MSP

Here’s a map of locations we drove to :

In London we went to the Zoo, and Camden Town. We had been to London a few times before, so we did not need feel the need to do a whole lot. We just relaxed, and got our bodies caught up to the time zone change. We took a BA flight out to Venice, very quick trip, great view of the swiss alps on the way in.

Some pictures :

When we landed in Venice, we took a boat right outside the airport to take us to our stop on Venice proper/island (The local boat system is When we got settled in we pretty much walked, walked, and walked some more. We loved the canals, small streets, and everything else, we were a little sad you could not swim in the canals, but I bet it’s pretty nasty. We ate some great food, and saw some very cool and historic sites (St Mark’s Square, Grand Canal, Biennalle, and everything in between). We did take a day trip out to Lido Island. Great little island, took us a bit to figure out where that beach was that someone on the forums recommended down on Alberonni. It was awesome though, great swimming, VERY calm water, which we were not used to.

Some pictures :

We took the ferry (venezialines.comacross to Pula. It was pretty quick, and a lot better then having to drive up and around through the border crossing between Italy/Austria/Croatia. We got here around 8PM, walked to our hotel, and had some great food. We saw the shops, saw the area, and took a tour of the Pula Arena, basically a Colosseum/amphitheater, they have in the city. At night it was very awesome to see, our first taste of some epic sized Roman architecture. Pula Arena Wiki Page. We left the next day, about mid day via taxi to the Pula Airport to grab our rental from Hertz. I was hoping it was not going to be some old/beater, on it’s last leg. I was pleasantly surprised it ended up being a Peugeot with only 4,000 KM on the clock! So with everything we needed, took out my iPhone and loaded up the preloaded GPS coordinates for where we were going in Plitvice and took off (I used Navigon, love it in the states, loved it in Croatia, did not steer me wrong).

Some pictures :

Plitvice was one of the reasons we wanted to go Croatia, and boy it did not disappoint! There were for sure some long lines being the high season of August, but the crowds were worth it. We ended up hiking the upper trail to get a top down view and we were happy the crowd thinned up greatly. We’ve found in our travels if you go off into the ‘harder’ area’s of hiking, there tends to be a lot less people. We did this again the next day, but saw the upper portion of the national park area, it had a great view. I had my under water camera, so I took some under water shots, they turned out pretty cool. I definitely got some looks as I dipped the camera into the lake, haha.

Some pictures :
Plitvice Lakes

After Plitvice we drove off to Sibenik. Sibenik was awesome, this is where we learned about Croatia’s infamous rocky beaches. We swam on the newly made swimming area, and it was awesome water to swim in, as it was about 40C out. The rocks were rough on the feet, but once you got out there it was great. I also love watching Europeans play soccer on basketball courts, using volleyball balls. I saw this a few times when were over there, haha. We saw a bunch of stuff here as well, ate some great food, saw a outdoor concert that happened to be performing free before their opening night (the following night), which was great. We also ended up going to Krka. I did not think we would, as I thought it would be kind of lame, after Plitvice, but I loved it just as much, why? Because we could swim at the waterfalls! That was awesome, and 100% worth it for that alone. The hiking was maybe 2-3km, and mostly on a wooded plateform along the river/water areas.

Some pictures :

We were out the following day to Mljet island, hoping to hit the 10am ferry from Prapatno to Sobre, which will get us on Mljet island. We ended up making GREAT time and actually flew through the two Bosnian border checks and made it with barely 20 minutes to spare, which is pretty late for most ferries in the EU, if you’re trying to get on the next one out. The ferry ride was quick and painless, when we landed in Sobre, got in the car and took the 50 minute drive to Hotel Odisej. This was an awesome hotel, it had it’s own swimming area, which was huge. We ended up seeing the monastery as well, which was very cool too. Some very old ruins on the small island where the monastery was. We swam a lot her as well, love swimming :). One thing I wanted to do was hit up saplunara, but it was all the way across the island, which would have taken 60-70 minutes. The funny thing is, the island is fairly small, maybe 37km long, and 3.7km wide. Driving here was pretty crazy, lots of switchbacks, and when we got into pomena, some roads were a few inches from a drop off into the harbor, crazy! You wouldn’t see that in the states.

Some pictures :
Mljet Island

We left Mljet to make the noon ferry from Sobre, back to Prapatno and made it with good timing. We got across, drove to Dubrovnik and found our hotel. I ended up scrapping one of the mirrors on the rental going down one of the small alleys, but I had full coverage insurance on it, so I was not too worried. Dubrovnik was great, we did almost everything you could in old town, all of the historic buildings and whatnot. We walked the wall, saw the port area, went to the swimming area just outside old city. There was a lot to do, it was great. We were planning to leave early so we could drop the rental off, and take our flight out to Rome from the Dubrovnik Airport, so we left around 6AM.

Some pictures :

We landed in Rome, took a cab to our hotel, and settled in. We started walking around, saw a bunch of landmarks, and realized we should go see the Colosseum with a tour. So we booked one through Darkrome tours, which I remember reading about before we left and met up with our group the next day. There was 8 of us, it was great, nice and small. We went to the undergroup level of the place, and up to the fourth floor. It was awesome to see where the animals were kept, and the gladiators were. The tour also included the roman forum, which was a very cool history lesson on stuff I did not know. AFter our 4 hour tour, we went to the Vatican, and saw the sisten chapel, which was one of my long time things I have been wanting to see, one of the reasons Rome made it on our ever tight itinerary.

Some pictures :

It was a great trip, LOTS of pictures, lots of videos. If anyone has any questions on how I did something, or anymore questions on some of the details or things we saw, which I left out a lot of, I can definitely share them in more detail. I love planning these trips, and think I do a good job getting a mix of culture mixed in with versatility of what we can do at each cities, so if you want to steal my trip plan, go for it!

Costa Rica Travel

Costa Rica Driving Map

If you’ve ever wanted to drive through Costa Rica, I stumbled upon this great looking website that gives you GREAT drive times/mappings in Costa Rica :

Once you enter the site, click on the fuzzy looking map right in the center of the website.

This is what the image you need to click on looks like :
[zenphoto src=”costadriving.jpg” album=”blog/etc/” width=”500″ /]

I plan on using this for my 10 day trip in January, and I am hoping it’ll help out anyone else who goes.