Marg and Leigh's travels around the world

We are two retired women from New Zealand, busy travelling the world. Our quest is to experience other cultures before they are changed beyond recognition, and see endangered animals and environments before they disappear. We hope you like our blog and enjoy our exploits. We sure have had fun getting here.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Our route in central and southern Europe 2011

Several people have asked about our 2011 route, so below we have described this and included a route map.  Overall, we drove for 218 days and covered 15,712 kilometres.

March to June 2011 - Germany to Greece

Germany: flew into Frankfurt then caught a train through Cologne into Bielefeld in northern Germany. After buying the van there, we went south via Padderborn, Kessel, Gother, Erfurt, Wreimart, Jena, Plauen, Hoff and Selb. Then we crossed the border into the Czech Republic.

Czech Republic: via Sokolov to Karlovy Vary. Then Plzeň (Pilsen) on way to České Krumlov then straight on to České Budějovice where, with the help of friends, we would register the van. We then went on to Tabor, and Telč to Prague then to Kutna Hora. From Kutna Hora through Kaslav, Jihlava, Moraveske Budejovice, and Znojmo.

Austria: across the border to Retz via highway 30 then on to Langau (Thaytal National Park). Then through Horn; Langenlois; Krems; Stein; Dürnstein; Weissenkirchen; Spit; Aggsbach; Melk (the Wachau wine region running beside the Danube), then Via St Polten to Vienna.

Slovakia - to the Tatras: from Vienna directly to Bratislava. On to the Low Tatras via Svätý Jur; Nitra; Banská Bystrica; Detva; Brezno. Then the High Tatras via the Spiš region-Tatranská Lomnica; Skalnaté pleso; Lomnický štít; Lomnické sedlo; Starý Smokovec ; Hrebienok. 

Slovakia - to Tokaj: Then to Kezmarok and Poprad to Liptovská Teplička, Levoca and Presov to Košice. Then Michalovce and into the Tokaj wine region towns of Trebišov, Bara, Čerhov, Černochov, Malá Tŕňa, Slovenské Nové Mesto, Veľká Tŕňa a Viničky.

Hungary: Over the border into Hungary via Miskolc. Through the remainder of the Tokaj wine region which goes right through into the north-west of Hungary, to Eger then on to Budapest. Through Szentendre, Visegrád and Esztergom on the Danube bend, then down to Veszprem and Siófok on Lake Balaton. Then the Villány wine region including Zamardi; Balaton-Lelle; Balaton Boglar; Kaposvar; Sasd; Pecs; Harkány; Villány and Siklos. Crossed the border at Donji Miholjac.

Croatia: From Hungary straight through to Zagreb. Then via Karlovac and Slunj (Rostoke Village) to Plitvice Lakes. Then via Korenica; Gradac; Obrovac; Benkovac and Sukosan to Zadar. Then Biograd; Vodice; Sibenik, Trogir and Kastel to Split, and Omis, Ploce, Neum (in Serbia), Ston, and Orebic (Peljesac Peninsular) to Korcula Island. Then Slano, Trsteno, Zaton, to Dubrovnik. ­Then Cavtat, Cilipi, Poljice, Molunat then over the border into Montenegro.

Montenegro: Igalo; Herceg Novi; Zelenika; Bijela; Risan; Perast; Dobrota; Kotor; Tivat and the Bay of Kotor. Then Budvar; Sveti Stefan; Petrovac; Bar and Ulcinj and from Ulcinj, back up to Bar then over the mountains to Podgorica then onwards.

Albania – Macedonia – Albania - Macedonia: the first time in Albania we went to Shkodar (Skadar), Lezhe, and Tirane. We then headed toward Lake Ohrid and crossed the border into Macedonia - the Albanian/Macedonian border runs right through the middle of the Lake. On to Elbasan, Struga, Ohrid and many other smaller villages around Lake Ohrid to Pestani on the Macedonian side. A tiki tour around the Lake took us back into Albania (2nd time in Albania) and into Pogradec and other towns on the Albanian side of Lake Ohrid. Once back on the Macedonian side we went to Skopje; Kusevo; Kumnovo; Prilep; Bitola.

Greece - Northern: From Bitola, we crossed the mountains and the border at Niko into Greece then travelled through Florina, Kozani, and Grevena. We then travelled over the top of the mountains on a very well made and straight route through about 22 tunnels (rather than on the very steep winding road around the mountains) into Ioannina. Then via Perama, then Metsovo and the Metsovon Pass and on through the fantastic Pindus mountains, to Meteora and Kalambaki. 

Greece - The Mani: From there we travelled via Trikala, Karditsa, Lamia, and Amfissa to Delphi; then via Arachova, Levadia, Thiva, Elefsina, Corinth Canal, and Mycenae to Nafplion. Then on toward the Manni, travelling through Argos, Tripoli, Sparta and Gythion (while in the fantastic Mani, we travelled to Haria, Agios Georgios, Kalopirgo,s Gerolimenas, Alika, Vathia, Kokkinogia, Porto Kargio, Lagia, Agio Kuyprianos, Kokala and Kotronas). 

Greece - Central to Athens: After leaving the Mani, we went via Areopoli, Sparti, Kalamata, Meropi, Kopanaki and up the coast of the Ionian Sea to Zacharo then inland and through the tiny village of Krestena to Olympia; then via Livadaki, Nea Dafni, Tropea, Toumpitsi, Lefkochori, Lagadia, Vytina, and Corinth to Athens. 

Greece - Amorgas Island: From Athens we travelled by ferry to Amorgas Island then after a 10 day island interlude, back to Athens then via Corinth to Patras where we boarded a ferry to Brindisi in Italy.

July to October 2011 - Italy to Germany 

Italy – Puglia region: Left Greece via ferry from Patras to Brindisi in the Puglia area of Southern Italy. Drove north from Brindisi through Ostuni and a number of small seaside villages to Capitoli in Monopoli. Then moved on via Castellane Grotte, Fasano and Alberobello, Locorotondo, Martina Franca, Taranto and Matera, then over to the Ionian coast to Metaponto, Trebisacce and other seaside villages on the Ionian Sea.

Italy – Calabria Region: Arrived in Reggio de Calabria and caught ferry to Sicily.

Italy – Sicily: Arrived at the port of Messina and followed the south-eastern coastline to Taormina, Giardini Naxos, Giarre, Mt Etna, and Catania then via autostrada toward the north-western corner to Trapani, Isola Dell Femmine, Palermo, Cefalù and back to Messina. Went back to Reggio de Calabria and left the van to have the long awaited air conditioning installed. Returned to Sicily without the van, going by train to Siracusa then Pozzallo where we picked up the ferry to Malta. 

Malta: Disembarked in Valletta. Toured Malta including Senglea, Floriana, Sliema, St Julians, St Pauls Bay (including the suburbs and beaches of Bugibba, Qawra and Mellieha), Golden Bay, Mosta, Mdina, and Marsaxlokk. Back to Sicily via the ferry and then to Reggio de Calabria by train. 

Italy – Calabria and north Up the coast road to Palmi then over to the Golfo di St Eufemia to the small village of Tropea. Then staying with the coast road through Pizzo and all the small towns on the coast to Paola, Praia a Mare, Maratea and Sapri. Then to Agropoli, Paestum and Salerno on the Golfo di Salerno, then inland to Pompeii. While there visited Vesuvius, Sorrento, and the Amalfi coast (including the villages of Amalfi and Positano), then on to Naples then directly to Rome. 

Italy – Tuscany and Umbria regions: From Rome to Viterbro, Marmour, Orvieto, Bagnoreggio, Lago dei Cor Bara, and Citivella to Spoleto, then Assisi. From Assisi to Perugia, and Lago Trasimeno, Montepulciano, Singalua, to Sienna.  

Italy – Chianti region: From Sienna to Gaiole in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Pogibonsi (where Vanni was made), and San Gimignano to Pisa. 

Italy – Cinque Terre: From Pisa to Lucca, Portavenere, then Levanto where we based ourselves to visit Cinque Terre – saw 4 of the 5 villages being Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza and Monterosso.  

Italy – Venezia: Took the autostrada and main roads from Levanto through Parma, Mantova, and Padova to Venice (stayed in Fusina), crossing the Appennino Mountains en route. 

Slovenia: From Venice, drove out of Italy via Trieste and Muggia, then onto the Slovenian coastal villages of Koper, Izola, Strunjan, Piran and Portoroz. 

Croatia: From Portoroz, crossed into Croatia and to the coastal villages of Savudrija, Umag, Novigrad, Porec, Rovinj and Pula – all in the region known as Istria. Travelled back up the eastern coast of Istria via Labin, Brestova, Brsec, Moscenicka Draga, and Lovran to Opatija. 

Slovenia again: From Opatija, crossed inland into Slovenia at Rupa, then on to Postojna and Predjama. There we bought a motorway vignette to drive into Ljubljana. Then on to Ptuj, then Mozirje, Radmirje, Stahovica, Kanmik, Menges, and Kranj to Bled. 

Austria: From Bled, went to Podhom, Jesenice, Kranjska Gora, Tarvisio, Analdstein and Villach. Also visited Klagenfurt on Lake Wörthersee, Sankt (St) Veit an der Glan, Feldkirchen and Ossiach. From there, drove north into the Austrian Alps via Spittal an der Drau, Obervellach, and National Park Hohe Tauern to Heiligenblut. Then drove the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße Road – the Alps road - and all places along it (e.g. Schoneck, Kaiser Franz Joseph Hohe, Großglockner, Pasterze Glacier, Hochtor, Fuscher Tor, and Edelweiß Spitze), then onto to Fusch and Bruck to Zell am See. From here, west via Mittersill, to Krimmler and the Krimmler Falls, then east to Werfen in the Hohe Tauern. From there, a loop to Radstadt then Hallein, and on to Salzburg and finally Innsbruck. 

Italy – Verona area: Over the Brenner Pass to Lake Garda in Italy, entering the lake area at its northern tip via Mori; then south through the many small villages around this very large lake to arrive at the base of the lake and the old fishing village of Peschiera del Garda.  

Homeward: From Italy into the Czech Republic to drop off our van at České Budějovice, then onto Prague for a train to Frankfurt, Germany and our flight home to New Zealand.


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