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3 months in Europe, Sept to Dec 2022

So I will preface the entirety of this post by providing some background information. This trip was with myself and my wife, 36 year olds from Vancouver Canada. This is both our 5th time to Europe in the last 12 years, each trip before this was 3 weeks or more.

Final itinerary:

**Frankfurt - Wurzburg - Nuremberg - Munich/Oktoberfest - Drogheda Ireland - Slane Ireland - Dubrovnik - Kotor - Mostar - Hvar - Plitvice national park - Opatija - Labin/Pula - Ljubljana - Venice - Sorrento - Capri - Positano - Naples - Rome - Lyon - Barcelona - Lagos - Leiria - Lamego - Porto - Lisboa

We had been planning a trip like this for a bit of time (probably even before our previous trip to Ireland and the UK in 2019) However, Covid kind of accelerated the planning and you never know what the future holds, so we expedited our plans which included attending a wedding in Ireland at the beginning of October.

If I may, I’d like to start this trip report off by some advice I’ve gained over my travels, experiences, and advice I’ve got throughout the years.

Firstly, which may rub people wrong, but don’t take it personally… don’t necessarily listen to peoples criticism of your itinerary. People from Europe and elsewhere abroad have VERY different views of travel and time. Ie. when building my Ireland itinerary I was basically told by some, if you’re going to be driving 5-6 hours in a day “Why bother even coming” coming from the west coast of Canada it’s a common occurrence to spend 3-8 hours driving for a weekend away. Having a car and being willing to drive 3/4/6 hours in a day can have a hugely positive impact on a trip. It can also save you money and enable you to see and do much more than you would otherwise.

With that out of the way I’d also like to give some advice I’ve found over the years:

Always segregate cards and money, carrying enough cards and cash to keep 3 separate stashes is invaluable. On you, in luggage, stored in your hotel/Airbnb etc.

Leave a contact number, email, WhatsApp in wallet, written on a card etc.

For good coffee look for a place that can do latte art in the reviews/google pictures

For varied , fresh food, look for açai bowls. Might be weird but it almost always holds true.

Download pre-loaded google maps, or favourite places in the general Google maps in lists before hand

Comfortable shoes without an air bubble. Personally I highly recommend Adidas Ultraboost.

For restaurants do the walk by/go back. Especially in touristy areas. Have a look at multiple restaurants and then loop back to one you want. Never go to the first one you see.

Anddddd.. onto the trip.. I really wish you could post pictures here..

So I travel with a 65L Arc’teryx Altera backpack. My wife recently switched from a backpack to a mid-sized rolling suitcase from Monos, a local Vancouver company. Highly recommended. We also both have day-bag backpacks which fit every carry-on requirement.

Imo, an extended trip like this can be accomplished with a carry on only, but it wouldn’t be fun. I think I could pair down my gear about 1/3 of what I currently have but you’d definitely be giving up some creature comforts which make a long trip like this much more enjoyable.

On Sept 19th we departed Vancouver, flying with Condor, to Frankfurt. Condor then proceeded to steal over $700 CAD from us for a business class upgrade I never received, and we still have not got a refund almost 2 months later.. good start lol

So we flew into Frankfurt and spent a night there by the train station. I’d say to this point the area around the Frankfurt train station is probably the sketchiest/worst part of any city we’ve been. Wouldn’t recommend spending much time through there other than transiting but we did spend a night at a great hotel though “Hotel Azimut” near the train station, was very nice and I can recommend it. From there we made our way to Wurzburg.

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Wurzburg

Now, what a pleasant experience for our first real city experience back in Europe. Wurzburg is a lovely city. Very cool, very German. We loved going up to the castle and walking through the vineyards. The scenery on the paths surrounding the fortress are outstanding and we had blue bird days each one we were there for. One of our absolute favorite experiences in Wurzburg was the “Gluchenshcapen” or drinking wine on the old bridge! An amazing evening scene with locals and tourists alike. The “federweisser” which is by-product of wine. A sweet almost juice like drink is amazingggggg and having a glass in the evening sunset with the fortress looming over head will be a memory I will keep forever.

In Wurzburg the “new/old town” is also very charming albeit feeling a bit fake Bavarian. It also has many good local lunch spots, to go/take out places etc. a good spot for some sausage and potato salad or a Weiner Schnitzel Sandwhich.

Staying in Wurzburg id recommend anywhere between the train station and the old town. The rest of the sites, the palace, restaurants, wine tastings, etc. are all within an easy walk. Everything is very flat besides the fortress and vineyard walk. We did the Burgerspitl winery tasting which is very interesting and they have a very cool facility under the streets of central Wurzburg. The cellar and facility wouldn’t be out of place in France etc. and the price of the tour included a little gift back with a small bottle of wine, well worth the tour price.

Oh.. and before we move on, while I’m very much over palaces, churches, etc. the Wurzburg residence is 1000000X worth the admission. The painted ceiling fresco is the largest in the world. It’s also one of, if not the most impressive I’ve ever seen. The use of the mouldings and plaster makes the ceiling look amazingly 3D, we stood there with our necks craned up for over half an hour just staring in awe of the work. Somthing we very rarely do anymore given the works we’ve seen in the past. We spent 4 nights in Wurzburg before moving on, it was probably perfect for us.

Onto Nuremberg..

Our end goal within Germany had always been Oktoberfest, so we were making our way slowly to Munich. Nuremberg seemed like a logical point. In hindsight I may have spent this time in a more picturesque place however we enjoyed our time here. We arrived in the afternoon at the main Train station and walked about 25 minutes north to our Airbnb. Dropped off our luggage and then went for a walk.

During the Oktoberfest times it seems that many other cities also hold small festivals and Nuremberg was no exception, we had an amazing time at the small festival held on the islands in and around the old town. They had small beer tents, great food stalls, live music etc. it’s own mini Oktoberfest.

The old town also has a nice open air market selling typical touristy goods and food, as well as many open air music venues we enjoyed a few different shows at.

The only thing I had really wanted to see in Nuremberg was the former Nazi Parade grounds and the coliseum etc. this was definitely worth the short tram trip from our Airbnb. Being endlessly curious re: WW2 and seeing many sights in different countries in previous visits the rally grounds were quite a sight. In many of the descriptions it explains how Germans are conflicted whether or not to tear these places down, or try to use them to educate, and I can definitely see why. These places have an overwhelming presence and looking up the pictures of the past with Hitler standing exactly where you can now, it’s very powerful and overwhelming. However, at the same time you get the Selfie-takers and people quickly snapping a photo for the sake of it and continuing on. Not that it’s the end of the world but I can see how not understanding the situation further can be frustrating for people who watch others seemingly glorifying these locations.

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After 3 nights in Nuremberg and eating far too many sausages we hopped back onto the train and continued on to Munich in anticipation of Oktoberfest!

Munich/Oktoberfest
So I had wanted to go to Oktoberfest for quite a while, love a good party, love a good beer. After watching many videos over the years I always imagined it to be somthing along the lines of Pleasure Island from Pinocchio lol and I wasn’t that off!

I will say, Oktoberfest exceeded all expectations, we absolutely loved in and basically spent 4 full days there of the 6 we had in Munich with no regrets. We stayed at a very nice hotel, the Hotel Motel One München-Deutsches Museum. Hotels are obviously very expensive during Oktoberfest and we spent a lot of time almost 8-9 months prior to going looking at accommodations. This hotel seemed to be the best balance of cost and location. Airbnbs we’re ridiculous for what you were getting. This location is approx 45 minutes to an hour walk away. However the train station heading back towards the main HBF is 5 minutes away. Then about a 12-15 minute walk to the fairground gates.

To put it mildly, I was blown away by the scale of the event, but also the sheer quality of tents, rides, attractions, and concessions. The Germans definitely know how to throw a party and do so in a way that simply works.

Now, imo if you’re a couple, or MAYBE a group of 3-4, you can do Oktoberfest without reservations. However anything over a couple becomes increasingly difficult to find seating, especially as the day goes on. If you’re a group of 5+ I’d say it’s DEFINITELY worth just biting the bullet and paying for a reservation. And yes, I know reservations are for 10+ however if you want a good spot inside a good tent, I think it’s worth it for everyone to buck up a little, at least for one night, and reserve a table.

My wife and I were able to get inside and have a beer in every large tent, and the majority of small ones. Many of the smaller ones focused moreso on food close for anyone without reservations later in the afternoon. For an easier tent to get into which had great food specials throughout the week I highly recommend the “wine tent” we had legitamitely some of the best food I’ve had in Germany there with their lunch specials such as cabbage rolls etc.

As a couple it’s easy to walk around and see all the sites, try some of the amusements, get into the little shoes etc. very quickly and easilly. We arrived mostly around noon or so and would stay to 6-7, a few nights a little later if we were having a good time and we’re still able to drink beer lol.. one thing I’d mention is that the tents start essentially closing up for the night around 10pm so if you’re taking transit or hope to get a taxi, I’d highly recommend leaving a little early to beat the crowds. For us to take an Uber/Taxi it was about 25 euros one way, but it was well worth it heading home at night imo.

In terms of getting a beer and a seat it can be a bit confusing, however the people who work the tents virtually all speak very good English and are more than happy to help. I’d recommend just quickly asking somone which tables are reserved and which are not. From there you can walk around the tables which are not reserved and ask people with room whether you can join them or not. Once you’re sitting you’re golden. I was blown away once again by the efficiency and service inside the tents. Every single tent we went into you could have a beer in your hand in under 10 minutes from arriving. Some tents may take card but I HIGHLY recommend only dealing In cash. It makes it easier for everyone, especially if you are sitting in off the aisle, the last thing you want to be doing is passing a machine back and forth, or even change for that matter.

Talk to your neighbours, make merry, enjoy a couple beers, and don’t be afraid to ask for the small beers if you or your company can’t handle the full steins

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Thanks Tyler! Germany is on our list but we just don’t know anything about travels there! Wurzburg sounds like our kind of town. Look forward to reading more!

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Oh and one thing I’ll add before I forget. Prior to leaving Canada I registered for the Orange E-Sim with my iPhone 13 pro max, best decision ever. I’m still using it right now and it’s worked amazing. The only country it hasn’t worked so far was Bosnia. The prices for data are fantastic and their system for reloading data is super simple, highly recommended and thanks for everyone who recommended it here. I wouldn’t even look for a different one if I was to come back.

So, on we go, from Munich, nursing a hang over we took an easy train from our hotel to the airport, as we were flying Aer Lingus to Dublin.

Ireland - Drogheda

In 2019 right before Covid my wife and my parents came to Ireland on a great 3 week trip. However, during that trip we quickly learned how expensive Ireland and the UK is relative to the Canadian dollar, imo it’s bordering on prohibitively expensive, as in, imo, the prices don’t justify the experience you get in Ireland. Originally we had planned to spend a night or two back in Dublin but airbnbs were basically starting at 250-300 a night for half-ass rentals, seeing as we had almost 3 months of travel left we obviously couldn’t justify the expense to we opted to take a bus directly from the airport to towards the wedding location. We took a nice, relatively inexpensive bus out to Drogheda.

So a lot of the charm of Ireland obviously happens in its smaller towns and I’d say Drogheda is no exception. The city itself has some negativity about it online however we loved it. It’s a quaint town but big enough to have dozens of restaurants, pubs, shops, etc. even a McDonald’s which is generally a good indicator of size lol. We spent 4 nights here exploring, going for dinners, and staying in a beautiful Airbnb just outside the city centre up the hill above the river. A relatively easy 15-20 minute walk to the city centre. The river runs through the town and provides a beautiful landscape backdrop for small town Ireland, a few days here would be a great home base if you had a car to explore the surrounding areas.

Newgrange

We spent a day at the historical site Newgrange, which is about a 20-30 minute drive away from Drogheda, this ended up being a bit of an issue as we easilly got a cab out there, but it was somewhat trying to get a cab back. There is a bus that stops there but only a few times a day so make sure you align your visit with the bus if you don’t want to have to call a taxi to come all the way out there.

Newgrange itself is really cool and a must visit if you’re in the area, again I’m not generally that interested in archaeological sites like this but the visitor centre, the tour of the structures etc. is very well done, and worth the price of admission. Once again however we lucked out with the weather and while a bit windy it was still warm and sunny at the beginning of October. You may have a different experience if it’s cold and rainy but I’d still say it’s worth it. lol an amazing site that dates back further than the pyramids and stone henge. From there we continued on via city bus to the town over, to get closer to the wedding.

Slane - County Meath, Ireland

The wedding we were going to was at Tankards town hall just outside of Slane. Slane itself is incredibly small and basically a 2 Road Town. There are a couple nice airbnbs here, 2-3 restaurants and a coffee shop or two but not much else. Tankards town hall, although only 4km or so away, becomes VERY inaccessible as the day goes on as there is no bus service, and also no cabs based in Slane. Imo you essentially need a vehicle in these little towns to get around. Tankards town hall is a very cool old estate and ended up ebing a beautiful 2 day wedding venue. Outside of that there is also the old Castle which holds concerts as well as a distillery as part of the castle. It was closed when we were there however I think that would be your stop if you do end up in Slane.

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My son & his family were stationed in Vilseck Germany so in 2015 & 2016 I made it to Wurzburg and enjoyed the town very much. I really miss the sausage stands in Nuremberg. Those rolls with the three Nuremberg sausages in them, I could not get enough of them. Enjoying the report.

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From Ireland we flew Ryan air along with their typical crash landing into Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

Flew in later in the evening, our Airbnb host arranged an airport transfer for 25 euros which was incredible value after realizing how far outside Dubrovnik the airport was. We stayed at a beautiful Airbnb in the”Lapad” area. Imo this is the area to stay in. Tonnes Of restaurants and bars, a few beaches within an easy walk, and FAR less busy and more accessible than the areas around the old town. The old town is still only a 15 minute cab ride or about a 45-hour walk, a little bit of elevation change but nothing crazy. The walk between the two has some nice scenery as well.

We spent the first day in Lapad at the beach and getting groceries etc. there is a beautiful pedestrian street lined with restaurants and bars and also a large Tommy supermarket to get groceries etc.

The following days we went to the old town which is absolutely gorgeous and very cool. You’ve gotta walk around the walls if you go, especially if it’s a nice day out. Just take your time and enjoy. There are numerous spots along the wall to get a beer or gelato so don’t worry if you think you’ll be hungry or thirsty. Inside the old town walls it was nice just to explore and check out the back lanes, again an old town brimming with restaurants, shops, and bars, you’re obviously paying a tourist tax here but the prices weren’t too crazy. Imo the old town only needs 2 days MAX, it’s just too busy and a bit stifling to allow any more. We didn’t take the tram up the mountain but instead opted on our second day to go swimming at the beach beside the old town. Very cool typical Croatian rocky beach with crazy views of the old town/kings landing scenes. Enjoyed a few hours here just at the public beach without paying for a sun bed. There are also lots of little stops and bakeries around here if you want a snack or a drink for the beach.

Imo the highlight of our entire time in Dubrovnik was going on the “3 island tour” imo you don’t really need to do the 3 island tour but moreso just get a ride to the island “Lopud” it’s by far the biggest island of the tour but also the most scenic and lively. YOU MUST get a lift over to the other side of the island and go to “Beach Sunj” or sandy beach. One of the only sandy beaches we went to in all of Croatia. This is an absolutely beautiful beach and given the time of year we went it was pretty much empty while still having the bars/restaurants open there. We purchased a few beers from vendors on the dock side of the island and used almost all our time in the island at the beach swimming and relaxing. A magic beach in a small
Cove on the island. Can’t recommend this beach enough. The other 2 islands are fine and give you a nice taste of this southern island life however it felt moreso just to get to past the vendors etc. there.

We stayed in Dubrovnik for a total of 6 nights, we could have probably done 1-2 more easilly and just relaxed at the beach however we decided to carry on. We booked a rental car through the Ryan air link they provided when you use them for a flight and headed back to airport and rented a car from “AddCar” rentals. They turned out to be incredibly affordable and I felt better from renting from them VS other European companies I’ve dealt with in the past. They were not about the upsell and were very affordable, we rented a car for 16 days for about 800 CAD dollars. From the airport we headed directly to Montenegro.

Montenegro - Budva

So many articles and opinions online highlight Budva as a place to check out. Imo it’s not worth it. It’s about another 30-40 minutes passed Kotor and just felt weird. It seems like a place Russian tourists feel is “fancy” and a beachy resort town, however we found it to be very run down outside of the city centre/old town and even the old town was very unremarkable. It was kind of like a mini Dubrovnik but far less impressive

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And even more expensive seemingly than Dubrovnik. Imo spend more time in Kotor VS going to Budva.

Montenegro- Kotor

Now Kotor is super cool. Driving you take a tunnel through the mountain then arrive in the typical scene you think of in Kotor. We parked right near where the cruise ships dock for a very reasonable fee, I believe it was somthing like 3-4 euros for 5 hours or so. The old town in Kotor is free to enter and like I said it’s VERY cool. It’s unlike the other old towns in the area and has its own feel and flare. We worked our way to the back of the down where the path that leads up to the fortress is.

So this is pretty freakin treacherous imo. My wife opted not to come with me and I started not really knowing how high I was going to go. There is a guy at a turn stile just as you climb out of the town and I believe it was 8 Euros to access the hike. Imo this is not a hike for elderly people, out of shape people, nor if you are not confident in your footing. Much of this hike can be basically large stairs and a lot of the rocky material the stairs are made out of are quite slippery. I saw two older people fall right on their ass from slipping and one younger woman crying coming down, which I’m assuming was from her choice of foot wear, some type of heel..

I’m not in the best shape but I was weezing in between the landings. The views are unmatched however snd well worth it if you can manage. I ended up hiking all the way to the bottom of the fortress, took
Me about 35-40 minutes from leaving the old town. We had yet another beautiful day though and it was a breathtaking view. I stayed up here for 15 minutes or so, enjoying it and catching my breath then carefully hiking back down.

All throughout the old town there are a lot of little independent artists and stores which feel much less like the touristy/made in China stuff so many other old towns sell. Again restaurants, bars, and gelaterias were plentiful. We spent about 4 hours in the old town and had a late lunch and looked though many shops etc. you can also venture outside the old town and the city is quite nice further on, away from the tunnel you drive into Kotor from. The city centre around the tunnel and down into the old town is quite rundown and unremarkable.

Imo Kotor is nothing but a day trip. It may feel like a “long” day for some to drive or travel in a guided tour from Dubrovnik to Kotor but I think that’s really all you want to commit to it unless you’re going to venture further into Montenegro.

Btw, there is also a paid ferry you need to take to get to the side of the channel where you will drive to Kotor from. This was somewhat of a surprise to us and we hadn’t really expected the ferry lol. It runs from early in the morning to late in the night though so it wasn’t too much of a concern and costs about 7-8 euros I believe.

We departed our Airbnb in Lapad around 9am or so and we returned to the airbnb around 8pm I think. The border crossing both coming and going was very quick and easy. Requiring passports as well as your cars insurance/rental agreement.

One thing I will mention which I’m not 100% sure this is how it works but it may.. when we rented the car the woman working there asked us if we were planning to travel out of Croatia, specifically Montenegro and Bosnia, we replied yes given we were and this resulted in an additional 25 euro charge and a stamp on our papers which said somthing like “border crossing OK” or somthing.

So I’m not sure if the border guards are actually looking for this stamp or not, and they wouldn’t allow you in if you hadn’t got the extra insurance. However somthing to keep in mind if you were to lie to the rental agency and then tried to cross without that stamp

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Loving the information style of your TR so far. Anxious to read more.

I really wish you could post pictures here..

What I've done on my 2 Trip Reports this year is post to the Rick Steves Europe Group Facebook Page and then provide a link in your report. Others have shared via Google Photos. It's not perfect but it works.

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From Montenegro we returned to our Airbnb in Dubrovnik for a couple more nights then checked out and continued on, we googled a couple different routes to Mostar, and headed out

Bosnia - Mostar

So we took what looked like a “scenic” route which google recommended that stuck along the Croatian coast for quite a bit longer. This was indeed beautiful however we quickly ended up on what I would consider back home.. basically a golf cart path.. this road wound it’s way up a burned out mountainside and numerous times I wondered if we should turn back.. it was so narrow in Much of it that if a car had been coming the other way you’d like have to backuo hundreds of feet to allow them to pass.. we kept going higher and higher and from the map it looked like it would eventually lead up to a more substantial road.. lol..

We finally got to what seemed like the top of the coastal mountains and into more dense forest and suddenly there was a small border crossing.. into Bosnia… this was completely not what I expected nor I think what these border guards did lol.. a Canadian couple in a rented Fiat Panda crossing this mountain top/forest single booth border crossing.. anyways we got through without issue although they did seem to
Look at the rental agreement again as I mentioned in the last post. Now we were driving in RURAL as rural gets Bosnian mountain roads. Occasionally coming past a building or 2 long abandoned.. a few herds Of cows and donkeys, and finally after about an hour, we returned to some semblance of major road and civilization. I wouldn’t recommend this route lol.. take the toll roads etc.

So we continued on and eventually ended up in Mostar, the towns between the Croatian border and even the larger area outside of the historical old town of Mostar are pretty unremarkable. Occasionally you’ll drive through some decent scenery but nothing compared to the Croatian coast.

We ended up checking into a hotel I found on booking.com, it’s called “Hotel Sinan Han” I highly recommend this hotel. The staff was some of the nicest, most accommodating I’ve ever dealt with. This is a small boutique hotel but it’s very nice, the rooms were recently renovated and very modern and comfortable and it had a great roof top terrace, as well as a very reasonable breakfast for 6-7 euros I believe. The location of this hotel is also perfect, easy to drive up to, 5 minute walk to the old town, but not positioned so it’s slammed with tourists or busses etc.

Mostar itself was pretty cool.. the old town is very scenic and the streets you walk through weave around the river providing excellent views. Obviously around the old bridge etc. it’s jammed with tourists but it seems to lessen as you cross either way and walk away from the bridge. Again here like Kotor we found lots of small local artists selling very reasonable artwork, we picked up a couple hand paintings for 8-10 euros each. There are sights outside of the old town to check out including a view point but we didn’t feel like doing anymore driving so we spent 2 days just walking around, eating at restaurants, and drinking wine in the sun and view of the bridges.

One thing I’ll say here is if you’re sick of “Balkan” food by the time you arrive in Mostar, well.. buckle up. There are virtually no other options in the historic old town other than Balkan food. I’m not a picky eater, infact typically I love the meat and potatoes type food. However both my wife and I were becoming increasingly exhausted by the cuisine. The combination of the typical euro breakfast of cold cuts, bread and cheeses, along with the Balkan food for dinner and lunch was wearing thin. We were seeking out kebab and pastas but that hardly satisfies the diversity needs lol.. if I had one Knock on the balkans as a whole it would be the cuisine.. it’s almost exhausting to have to deal with.. I was begging for a McDonald’s by the time we left Mostar.

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If you spend more than 2 days in Mostar I’d say it’s probably worth checking out some local live music which there seemed to be a bunch, or even a soccer game which they have a local stadium about a 45 minute walk north of the bridge from. We went to the war museum just north of the bridge which details the fall of Yugoslavia in a VERY blunt manner basically outlining the ethnic wars which were some of the worst in the Bosnia/Mostar area. It was very good, and very sad. Btw the hotel had free parking right out front which was a bonus but there are also many small gravel lots around the old town for reasonable prices. After 2 nights there we once again packed up and headed back to Croatia, this time taking actual highways! Lol

Croatia - Hvar

So from Mostar we drove back to Drevnik. Originally we were going to try all the way to split but our Airbnb host on Hvar recommended taking the ferry from Drevnik instead and that was definitely the right call. This ferry is much closer to both Mostar and Dubrovnik, and it’s also less than half the time on the ferry VS the split to Hvar ferry, although you make up that time driving across Hvar which was surprisingly big.

Now the biggest tip I can suggest for Hvar is RENT A CAR! Either on Hvar or come by car. We thought we were going to park the car in split and walk onto the ferry however this would have completely changed the trip for the worse. Having a car on Hvar turned out to be some of the best experiences we’ve had thus far. It’s virtually impossible to check out the remote beaches without a car, even if you were able to get a cab to take you to one, have fun getting one back.

In Hvar we stayed in Hvar Town, not Stari Grad. Imo you don’t want to stay in the old town. While the shops etc. are plentiful, it’s very quiet and simply not nearly as interesting or engaging than Hvar town.

Hvar town has a reputation for a party place however when we were there in October it was perfect. There were really no parties however everything was still open, busy enough to keep it interesting, and tours etc. we’re still all running. We stayed just outside the city core in and around the area of the fortress in an absolutely breathtaking Airbnb, one of the best we’ve stayed in, huge panoramic views of the ocean in a 3 bedroom top floor of a home for about $120 a night. It was about a 15-20 minute walk into the Hvar town center.

In Hvar we spent much of our time at the beach, and don’t regret a second of it. Infact I’d probably spend even more time at the beach if we were to go again, there are a handful of beaches within a walk in Hvar town but the best ones are a drive away.

Check out these beaches:

Beach Jagonda - one of my favorite all time beaches, amazing

Plaza Lucisca - harder to get down to but very nice

Plaza Dubovica - this one is a HIKE down. You have to park up on the road/main highway and walk down either a Gravel access or a hiking trail, very cool at the bottom though and there are 2 restaurants and bars there

Pokonji Dol Beach - this is the best beach you can access by walking from Hvar town. It will be a bit of a walk but mostly flat. Beautiful public beach with restaurants again, this one is pretty great given how accessible it is.

Beach Robinson - so this beach is a walk along the coastline from Pokonji Dol Beach, If you just keep walking around the public beach to the opposite side you entered from, you will see trails running along the coast line. If you’re up for it, there are 3 different beaches here. Beach Robinson is a more popular one given some boats from Hvar town harbour will come here and ferry you. However there is a smaller beach before this, more of a nudist beach seemingly. However when we were there there was only 1 other person the whole time. A beautiful little cove beach. Imo this one is, at the very least, worth checking out if you’re already at the public beach.

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A nice beginning to your trip report.

don’t necessarily listen to peoples criticism of your itinerary

True. Consider the criticism, but don't take it as gospel truth. You know what your travel style is and what your travel goals are; the "critic" does not.

the area around the Frankfurt train station is probably the
sketchiest/worst part of any city we’ve been.

Sorry to hear about the sketch. One stop away from the Hbf on the U4/U5 is Willy Brandt Platz, a 5-minute walk from the Motel One Römer. It's in a great area of Frankfurt with tons to see nearby. And as you learned in Munich, Motel One offers a good product... usually at a reasonable price (though probably not so reasonable for Oktoberfest).

I like the structure of your report. I enjoyed reading about your Germany experience. I'm not so interested in Ireland, so I skipped that part. But I am enjoying reading about your time in the Balkans and am looking forward to reading more as you reach your future destinations!

How do a couple of 36-year-olds give 3 months to travel Europe?

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Hi Dave, ya sorry I didn’t mean to come off blunt, with the first part, absolutely listen to advice but you’re bang in when you say you know your own personal travel style and what you’re capable of/wanting to do.

And yea, we walked about 15-20 minutes away from the train station in Frankfurt and found really cool, obviously “upscale” neighbourhoods with nice little bars and even a brewery we very much enjoyed. We only had about 14 hours total in Frankfurt after a 11 hour flight so I’d like to give it a bit more time in the future.

In terms of how two 36 year olds travel for 3 months, we each took leave of absence from our respective jobs, we also did our best to “save” for the previous 14 months or so, albeit we’re pretty bad at saving lol. We are in a decent financial situation and also found someone to stay/rent out the main portion of our home while we’re gone, on top of having a rental suite so while it may be a small amount, we are still getting some income while away.

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Hi, Tyler. Not criticizing your bluntness... more standing with you 🙂.

Nice that you are able to take that long of a break from work. Enjoy your trip!

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Croatia - Hvar continued

There are literally dozens, if not hundreds of beaches like this along the coast. If we had more time I’d start to venture further back down the island to other beaches. The beach scene, if you even slightly enjoy swimming and being in the ocean, is the best part of Hvar imo.

Hvar town also has some more varried restaurants ie. pubs with burgers and wings, fancier steak houses, etc. which allow you to escape the gauntlet of Balkan food. Good groceries are a bit hard to come by but if you’re ok with making some pastas, sandwiches, etc. and the like at home you’ll be ok.

We drove one day to Starigrad. In October it was showing MUCH more of the “end of season” vibes than Hvar town. It was pretty dead even on a beautiful day, but almost all restaurants and attractions were still open, there just simply didn’t see to be that much to see there, regardless of the time of year.

I will however suggest a really cool winery just slightly out of Starigrad, it’s about a 10 minute drive up the island. Hora Hvar is the place and while we didn’t get to go, it looked amazing! And the reviews/food seem a spot you’ve got to Check out. Don’t be intimated when you pull up to the gravel road, I assure you it’s down it somewhere! Lol

We spent 7 days on Hvar and could have stayed longer. Obviously when you have amazing weather it makes any stay that much more enjoyable. We did not do any of the boat tours from the harbour however there are many that go to the typical “blue lagoons” seemingly everywhere along the coast. There are also a couple islands to check out right off Hvar town however nothing seemed appealing enough to take us away from the beaches.

After 7 days we packed up and departed. It’s very easy to book a ticket for the ferry online. Just make sure you are dealing directly with the actual ferry company. Show up, show a QR code, and you’re heading on your way.

Croatia - Plitvice National Park

From Hvar we then drove all the way inland and up country to Plitvice. This took about 4 hours or so which was the longest drive one we we did so far in the trip. One thing I’ll say is Croatia has amazing roads, like world class ecen compared to North America etc. I’m not sure if it’s because of their entrance into the EU they’ve been building this amazing infrastructure or given they don’t really have trains they’ve always had good roads, I was blown away by this. Imo ALWAYS take the toll roads. They are nicer, faster, and an easier drive.

Leaving split and driving inland, it’s all your typical Croatian coastal desert scene, but then you take a longggg tunnel at one point and arrive on the other side and you’re suddenly in what looks like the forests of Central British Columbia lol.. it was really weird.

We ended up driving to a B&B we booked right near “gate 3” of Plitvice. Gate 3 is a gate you cannot buy tickets at however you can show your ticket purchased online to gain entry here.

Now.. I’ll say somthing here.. I really hate when you see these clowns online who say “omggggg if you come to Paris don’t go up the Eiffel Tower!!! That’s for dumb tourists!!!!”

I hate that stuff because of course you go up. However.. with Plitvice.. I wasn’t blown away.

Firstly, my own mistake I always though the waterfall at Krka was part of Plitvice, which it obviously isn’t. So the entire time in Plitvice I was looking for the giant Krka waterfall which was hundreds of Miles away lol..

Fall was beautiful there and it is a very beautiful place, filled with the crystal clear water that covers Croatia..however it just didn’t blow me away. Coming from British Columbia we have some spots where we go swimming etc. in local creeks in rivers which, imo, are even nicer than Plitvice. This is a full day any way you cut it. We did the longest route walking without hiking up the mountain and did it in just under 5 hours. It’s pretty scenery, it’s a very nice

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Croatia - Plitvice Park continued

It’s a beautiful scenic walk, it’s quite affordable, however, if you come from an area full of natural beauty, I really don’t think this is a must do.

It’s also quite literally in the middle of the country and somewhat in the middle of nowhere. So you really have to go out of your way to get here. There are MANY reviews online of people somehow getting there by transit and then complaining everything is too far of a walk. You cannot be here without a car unless you’re on a guided tour which is taking you to and from the park and accommodations. You’d spend so much time just getting around it would be very frustrating.

Imo if you’re not going into the top half of Croatia but really want to check out some waterfalls, go to Krka.

We stayed 2 nights at the B&B in Plitvice then continued driving north.

Croatia - Opatija

We then drove all the way from Plitvice to Opatija. Again on a map this looks like a big drive but it was fine. We left in the morning and arrived In Rijeka/Opatija in the early afternoon.

We opted for Opatija over Rijeka due to it seeming much more chill and laid back as opposed to the busy port down of Rijeka. Opatija was pretty neat and we stayed in another great Airbnb up on the hill looking over the ocean. One thing I’ll say which was hugely disappointing with our Airbnb and I probably should have reported to Airbnb was this unit advertised a beautiful roof top pool as part of the rental. When we got there the pool had been drained even though it was still 25+ degrees. I contacted the host and he informed me everyone drains their pool in October. Although this wasn’t explained in the listing. So if you see an ad with a pool or hot tub maybe confirm before booking if it’s important to you.

Once again in Opatija it’s very hard to go anywhere without a car, so it’s kind of a must imo.

Originally we had planned to take the ferry from Pula to Venice. However when we went to book tickets we realized the ferry had stopped running 2 weeks before our arrival.. bummer.. so I contacted the rental company and got them ti change our drop off from Pula to Rijeka, from where we could catch a bus Rijeka to Ljubljana.

In Opatija we didn’t do too much, we did however drive the coastal road down to Labin where my wife’s dad is from. Labin and Rabac are REALLY cool and we actually had an opportunity to stay in Rabac which we turned down. However I think these small coastal towns would be wonderful for a night or to. Both Labin and Rabac are worth a stop over if you have a car. And the coastal road from Opatija to Labin is a MUST DRIVE! Trust me in this, the scenes are like a mix between the Mediterranean, Southern California, and Florida, stunning scenery and landscapes.

Labin is really cool, make sure you go up into the old town on top of the hill. Rabac is also cool just park your car somewhere and spend a few hours walking around, maybe have lunch there.

From Labin we went to Pula. Honestly besides the coliseum and the old town there isn’t really that much to see in Pula, given the amazing small towns scattered nearby I probably wouldn’t stay in Pula unless I was catching the aformentioned ferry. We checked out the coliseum, had lunch, walked the old town and a bit of the coast and got Gelato, and then drove back to Opatija.

On the way back since jr was getting dark we took the inland toll highway. This cuts off about 30-40 minutes from the coastal road given it’s just a nice straight highway as opposed to the snaking coastal road. However if we had more daylight I definitely would have taken the coastal road back again.

Back in Opatija, a few nights Of chilling and recharging, we finally drove into Rijeka and returned our rental car and killed a few hours before hopping on a 3 hour bus ride from Rijeka to Ljubljana.

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Thanks TravelMom, if it’s somthing anyone can do I highly recommend this type of travel if you enjoy travel in general. It’s so freeing to not have a strict timeline and basically look at a map and decide where to next. It’s been fabulous.

Slovenia - Ljubljana

So we had intended to go to Ljubljana either way, regardless of if we were going to take the Pula-Venice ferry, however since the ferry stopped running obviously our timeline was altered a bit. We were planning on driving into Ljubljana and perhaps going to lake Bled, but with the new situation we decided to just keep the car in Croatia and utilize the bus.

The bus from Rijeka to Ljubljana was very affordable, I beleive somthing like 25 euros total for both of us. This bud only has a couple runs a day however so we had to kill approx 6 hours in Rijeka. The area around the bus station has a large walking street and lots of restaurants/bars though so it wasn’t so bad

Short bus ride there and we arrived, we stayed in these appartments in the old tobacco factory. They are basically Individual units on Airbnb managed by a bigger company. Frankly I wouldn’t recommend them, they were these small lofts about a 15 minute walk to the old town centre. In hindsight I would have paid a bit more for a nicer place closer to the centre however prices were quite high there and we were only staying 2 nights.

Ljubljana turned out to be completely not what I expected. Really I didn’t have any expectations but any I did have were greatly exceeded. Ljubljana is definitely a college type town lots of young people, lots of nightlife, and finally some diversity in restaurants.

We ended up checking in then walking into the old town and going to a burger restaurant along the river by the 3 bridges, some great food and beer. Ljubljana however is noticeably more expensive than Croatia. In Canadian dollars I’d say everything was between 1.3 to 1.5 times what you’d pay in Vancouver, compared to Croatia which is more like 0.7-1.1 of what you’d pay in Canada.

The old town itself is beautiful and I think your visit to Ljubljana will likely be spent in the old town. We did a free walking tour which took about 3 hours and was a bit too heavy on information imo but it was nice to get a brief run down of the town. The river running through the old town provides really nice scenery especially in the fall. After the tour we took the fenicular up to the castle. We didn’t do the paid tour inside however it seems like there really isn’t that much to see. There are a couple Michelin starred restaurants within the grounds and you can get some OK views from the top but there isn’t much to see besides a sprawling city scape. I’d say a day is more than enough to spend in the old town. Some coil touristy shops and art shops. We ended up buying a traditional painted bee-hive door which turned out to be a very cool souvenir.

On the second day we walked from our Airbnb into the massive park just outside the old town. This park is beautiful and has some sites to see within the park but it would be great to just sit down and have a beer or a picnic.

From there we worked our way to the Union Brewery, this is one of the oldest and most popular beers in Slovenia. The brewery is a massive structure about 25-35 minute walk from the old town. We live around 12-15 breweries at home and have done numerous tours so we weren’t crazy about doing another one, and probably good we didn’t as reviews say that after Covid they don’t actually do a real tour but now do a VR headset tour.. I’m sure very lackluster.

We had some food and beers at the pub there which were quite $$$ then continued on.

There is an old abandoned barracks which was turned into an “Artists space” which shows up on many tour guides however when we went it was superrrrr sketchy and basically filled with homeless people and African migrants. We left asap. Checked out and onto the next bus!

The

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Slovenia - Ljubljana continued

The area around this artist installation is fine but the installation and buildings as I said were pretty sketch, this area is not far from the train and bus depot so kind of figures.

From there it’s a short walk back to the river/old town and pedestrian areas. If you walk these streets that are across the river from the old town there are plenty of great bars, shops, and restaurants to choose from. We started travelling with a great little dice game “Qwinto” which is a super fun, kind of gambling/risk dice rolling game that packs along well. We found a great little bar with amazingly cheap wine (3 euros per healthy glass) and played a few rounds and had more than a few glasses lol.

I think time spent in Ljubljana is best spent on a patio people watching and just taking it slowly. Especially if you’re stuck in the city center like we were.

Later that night we ended up eating at a Thai restaurant but it was more like “Asian” restaurant given the food selection and oddities lol but it was a welcome change from the Balkan food.

If you’re staying anywhere within the old town the bus station is an easy walk with or without luggage. However we were a bit further and walking 30-40 minutes even along these good streets is a bit tedious so we ended up getting a cab back. And another Flix Bus onward to Venice.

Italy - Venice

The bus from Ljubljana to Venice is a bit tedious as it’s 4.5-5 hours but Flix bus is ok for comfort. You also drive along much of the coast on the way there and through some pretty cool towns you’d probably not see otherwise. On this coastal leg you definitely feel like you just want to stop at some of these little coastal towns and jump in the ocean for a few hours.

Our ride to Venice was fairly uneventful. The bus station for Venice is basically right out front of the train station which serves both the local trains, the trains into Venice itself, as well as the FrecciaRossa (Italian bullet trains) one thing I’ll mention before I forget is that make sure when booking trains either departing or leaving Venice, you double check the actual station you’re booking. The Venice station on the mainland is a different station than the one on actual Venice the island (obviously) but it doesn’t really lay that out very well anywhere. So the train we booked departing Venice to Sorrento was actually leaving from the Station on Venice island, and not the mainland station, which we were staying in a hotel on the mainland portion so in the morning of departing we had to take the local train onto the island then hop on the frecciarossa to leave. Not a big deal but make sure you know where you’re going.

So as I said we stayed off the island which is Venice, at a lovely, brand new hotel, “Staycity Venice” which is about a 5 minute walk from the train station. I HIGHlY recommend this hotel. The staff were amazing and the rooms were fabulous. It’s so uncommon to get a king sized bed in Europe but these had extremely spacious, comfortable rooms which made going back to the hotel each night very nice. I wouldn’t recommend the breakfast as while it was fine, it was chaotic to say the least and not any fault of the staff but moreso the patrons, all tourists seemingly, letting their kids run wild in a relatively small space. But other than that, great time!

So, in terms of Venice and your stay, imo, the move is to stay off the island. Every morning we woke up, packed our small day bag, and went to the station and we were on Venice in about 30 minutes total from leaving our hotel. We watched sooo many people lugging luggage from the station through the island etc. and it seems like absolute HELL!!! Lol some nicer places have porters etc. but if you have to drag your own luggage through the streets on top of navigating them with your hotel, good luck. Imo unless you absolutely have to be on the island late into the night, it’s not worth it.

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Italy - Venice continued

So to add to the luggage thing Venice is MUCH bigger than I expected without really knowing much. Consisting of many islands it was substantially larger than I expected. Also in terms of the luggage thing, many parts of each island only have one or two bridges to access one another, so while you may be directly across from where you need to get to, it may take 20-30 minutes of a detour to find a bridge to cross. Or paying for a water taxi which are scattered along the shorelines.

So I had very little knowledge or expectations of Venice besides expecting it to be very touristy, but to be honest I was very surprised and very happy with what Venice turned out to be. While it is true, it’s very busy and very touristy, even in Late October, it was amazing! My wife had been there before but couldn’t really remember much but both of us loved it. It was very cool to just explore the streets, grab a gelato or some wine, and people watch. Imo if you’re just there for basic sightseeing and exploring I think 3 days is about perfect. Anything else I think you’ll
Start feeling pretty jaded with the experience but if you’re willing to walk a lot each day, you’ll be able to see plenty in 3 days.

One thing to mention right off the bat in terms of restaurants and bars is that almost all of them have an additional service charge for sitting/dining within the restaurant. Some places you can grab a glass of wine and stand across from the bar without paying these fees but the majority charge them, and they vary GREATLY, some were 3-5 euros for the table, some in the more touristy areas were 15-20 euro PER PERSON which is crazy and would be a rude awakening when you get the bill.

In Venice you’ve definitely gotta try the cicchetti which are basically Italian tapas, small peices of bread or crackers with various toppings as well as friti/arancini. Most of these the waiters will take your order for drinks etc. and then let you walk into the restaurant and choose which ones you want. This was a little akward at first as we didn’t really know how to go about ordering them, but if you just be polite and explain what you’re trying to do all the servers we dealt with were very friendly and helpful.

Gelato was also amazing on Venice, we may have had the best gelato weve ever had as a small artisan shop just north of the train station, “Bacaro Del Gelato” this gelato was simply amazing and energized us for the long walks lol.

There are a few different set routes you can walk that our hotel gave us which kind of just circle around the islands but you can easily do these just by looking at google maps and setting a location to walk to where you will cross a bridge onto the next island.

We did end up at St.Marks square but this area is disgustingly crowded and we didn’t stay long. It’s definitely a sight to see however if you don’t have some sort of fast track ticket to get in, or get priority with a tour group, there’s no way in hell I’d line up to get into either the tower nor the cathedral. These lines were some of the longest I’ve seen stretching wayyyyy back to the water. There are definitely some
Sketchy characters around and the typical cell phone charger, selfie stick seller annoyances that plague any popular area in Italy but they are harmless.

What’s nice though is you can duck into a small lane just off st.marks and it goes from hustle and bustle to
Complete silence and tranquillity.

We never really had anything specific to see or do other than explore and that’s basically what we did over the 3 days. I think this way to explore Venice is the best and stumbling into beautiful scenes snapping some pictures, and trying the local food and drink is the experience in itself. Prices were quite reasonable even at restaurants and bars in the busier areas but defiantly mind those additional fees!

A few great, beautiful days there and we hopped on the FrecciaRossa!

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I had the pleasure of being in Ljubljana for 5 nights a few years ago. It was awesome. My itinerary:

Day 1: Lubljanyum food tour (awesome) + bus ride to Kranj for its end of summer bash including outdoor concert by the great Bosnian band Dubioza kolektiv

Day 2: hiked Šmarna Gora (hill at the outskirts of town hiked by the locals on the weekend) + National Museum of Contemporary History

Day 3: day trip to UNESCO world heritage mercury mine at Idrija + Franja Partisan Hospital (field hospital used by Partisans in WWII) + Skofja Loka

Day 4: Old town, fortress, ride on a boat on river

Day 5: Plečnik tour + hike in Pekel/Hell Gorge (more refreshing than it sounds)

Glad you got to experience Ljubljana!

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Oh yeah, I read ahead of time that Metelkova Mesto (I think this the artist place you mention) was pretty sketchy. Seems like I read more about drug use and dirty syringes than the things you mentioned.

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Coming from Canada and Vancouver specifically I’m VERY aware of drug paraphernalia unfortunately and it seemed quite clean in that regard. Just the people hanging around and kind of in shadows etc. didn’t seem like the most inviting place lol

The articles and stuff online you’d find in trip advisor and google searches paint a much prettier picture of the area so I’d be kind of worried for the not so savy tourist who wanders into there..

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Italy - Sorrento/Positano

So from Venice we hopped on the frecciarossia and headed south. It’s a 5+ hour trip from Venice to Naples with one change I believe, which wasn’t so bad. The trip from Naples to Sorrento though is probably the worst part of the trip lol

We arrived in the evening and it’s a bit tricky to find the train that goes to Sorrento. It’s best just to ask where to find it as it’s this small little subway, which looks very much like the old, worn down, graffiti covered subway trains from 90’s New York. It’s also located in its own little section of the station as it’s more of a local/regional train.

We hopped on this during what seemed like rush hour and it felt like it took foreverrrrr being the last part of our trip. In reality it’s around an hour on this train but it’s a bit ugly with luggage etc. as it’s basically a small commuter train.

We arrived in Sorrento around 8pm and walked to our Airbnb, we were staying just west of the Square San Antonino. Imo this is an excellent area to stay in, you’re right by the main walking streets, all the bars and restaurants, the bus abs train station, etc. we stayed in a beautiful airbnb located right above “Tavern Allegra” which was a very nice local restaurant ran by a man who actually had a daughter working in Vancouver! Small world! We had a great meal at his restaurant the night we arrived then retired for the night.

Now, imo, in terms of this entire area, and the amalfi coast, personally I think you’re best staying in Sorrento. Sorrento has soooo much more to offer and with infinitely easier access than Positano or Amalfi. Obviously it doesn’t have the charm of waking up in Positano in a beautiful room overlooking the beach etc. but in our brief experience in Positano and Amalfi, getting to and from these places is a nightmare, moving around these places is very hard as everything is pretty far apart and either up or down very large hills/roads, etc.

In Sorrento you have the harbour which you can catch multiple different ferry’s that have multiple runs daily between Sorrento and Positano and Amalfi.

Also, even in early November, the bus that goes to Positano was an absolute NIGHTMARE! We arrived at the station at 10am and there was already a 2 bus wait for the next bus (so leaving basically at 12:45) with a hundred people just waiting in the sun.

Luckily I saw a guy rounding up people to split a private van there, I jumped on the opportunity and him, his wife, and child, and 4 other women with my wife split the van at 10 euros each. In hindsight I would have paid 50-60 euros alone to leave right then and there. Waiting for the bus is NOT worth it. We took the van to Positano got dropped off well above the city on the road, and took a narrow staircase down.

Both my wife and I absolutely hate the uncertainty of getting back home so we instantly walked right down to the beach and the harbour and booked the last boat back to Sorrento. Again there are 3-4 businesses operating runs back to Sorrento and we got the last boat back at 6:45 I believe it was.

We walked around briefly but imo the best part of Positano is the beach. And imo it’s 100% worth it to get one of the paid chairs/umbrellas. Again, even in late November the public portion of the beach was jammed, but the paid beds were only about 20% full. I believe it was like 30 euros per bed but again, worth it! We spent the day just swimming, eating and drinking on our sun beds, the water here was the warmest we had all trip! Much warmer than even sunny Croatia etc.

The boat trip back was quick and it’s a bit of a hike back up to the square in a switch back road, or you can take a cheap cab ride up.

The rest of our time was spent In Sorrento, there is a lot to do and see in Sorrento alone, in the sunnier, warmer days there are some very cool floating piers which are filled with beach beds on the coast, you can take a

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Italy - Sorrento/Capri continued

Take a public elevator that goes down to the beach level during the day. It’s only 1.50 euro and saves 15-20 minute walk down, or a 20-30 minute walk back up. These beach clubs have bars, restaurants, etc. and unfortunately the day we walked down to these was the last day the main one was open for the season. They then tear up all the floor boards of these piers presumably to prevent people from using them for free lol.

There are dozens of good restaurants and bars all throughout Sorrento including a couple Michelin stars etc.

Now I know driving around this area and having a car in general in the amalfi coast is frowned upon or considered a burden, but, imo, if you have a nice place to park it every night in Sorrento, it might be worth it to have a vehicle in this area. Especially if you plan to visit multiple towns along the Amalfi coast. You’d definitely he parking outside of the cities up in the hills etc. but man, after experiencing what a total nightmare the bus was, which is essentially the only form of public transit besides the boats to reach the cities, I’d probably consider a private chauffeur if I could return.

Oh, and I almost forgot, we also took a guided boat trip to Capri. Which was amazing. We booked one online and this trip actually departs from a different marina further down the coast, but the tour operator picked us up in a nice van right in the San Antonino square (which, I believe many, If not all tours etc. probably originate from)

We opted for the boat tour which rent around Capri then gave you 5 hours on the island. Imo this is DEFINITELY worth the extra expense to go around the island it’s stunning.

Once on Capri we had a beautiful blue bird day, we took the funicular up to the town centre there, make sure to go purchase your tickets across the street from the actual funicular entrance. There isn’t a whole lot up here but lots of decent restaurants and patios to have a drink and a bite to eat with a view.

We then hopped in a cab that took us up to the other peak on the island in hopes of going up the chair lift there. This area that has the small chair lift is not doable on foot imo. Unless you’re used to EXTREME hikes lol… google maps said 40 minutes.. yea right it’s like 1000 steps up switch back paths here. You need to hitch a ride up here.

Once we got to the top unfortunately the stupid chairlift was closed for maintenance.. this would be some foreshadowing for future lifts as well sadly
Lol.. so we looked around up here, there are some cathedrals, tourist shops, restaurants and bars, but not much else. We then proceeded to hike back down the aformentioned steps. Even coming down, imo, you should be in decent shape to take this on. It’s quite challenging and if you have a fear of heights this for sure isn’t for you lol.

5 hours is all you really need on Capri, we were done with about 45 minutes left and just sat in the harbour having a beer before our ship departed. Upon return we got the return trip back to San Antonino square and back to our Airbnb. The rest of the Sorrento trip was spent just relaxing in the sun, checking out the odd sightseeing spot, and enjoying every minute.

At the end of our trip we walked back to the train station and hopped back onto the empty train back towards Naples.

This train departing Sorrento, as far as I remember, only goes back to Naples. So it’s basically buy a ticket, and hop on whatever train is at the station. On this ride to or from Sorrento you can also hop off and see Mount Vesuvius, which is approx half way between the two cities, we did not however but during the day you can get some pretty stunning views of it even from the train

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italy - Naples

We had a blank slate of an itinerary so while in Sorrento we decided we might as well stay in Naples a couple days, basically exclusively for the food.

We arrived at the train station and found a cab. This train station is quite large but also does not really have the traditional line of cabs right outside the station so you’ll have to walk up or down the street to find one. The park across from the train station is kind of sketch and probably had the most homeless people we had seen the entire trip, as did Naples as a whole.

We had an Airbnb up above the old town, it wasn’t the greatest location but it was surrounded by great restaurants, we ate way too much pizza and the carbonara friti

Couple pizzas places to check out:

  • Starita a Materdei - this place was basically right outside of our Airbnb and both our cab driver and many locals told us this place has the best pizza in Naples. It was pretty fantastic and imo, the ingredients such as the Vesuvius tomatoes really make real neopolitan pizza what it is.

  • Sorbillo - in old town, this place regularly has long lines and makes lists of the best pizza in the world regularly. It was really good as well but in terms of the entire experience and food I preferred Starita

Imo, personally, I don’t find neopolitan pizza to be my favourite type of pizza, I generally like a Greek style more but virtually everything we ate in Naples was top notch.

We did a walking food tour with a local guide through old town which included some pastries, a couple pizza, some ham and cheese, and also gelato. For the price it was a great deal considering the food alone would have been more than the tour cost and we got about 2 hours of info into the old town.

I don’t really have much more to add to Naples. In terms of Europe it’s one of the most gritty, grimey, cities I’ve ever been to. We probably stayed there 1 day too long but it was nice to have another slow stretch to our trip and just relax at our aibnb in between pizza feasts.

After a few days we got a taxi back to the train station and took another FrecciaRossa to Rome. This train ticket for these legs start adding up as I beleive this one was around $220 for a couple hour ride between Naples and Rome.

Italy - Rome

So rome is absolutely amazing and definitely a 5-7 day type stop on any trip. Rome may be my favorite city in Europe.

I think people may have this idea of rome as a gritty dirty city as it’s so massive and just by reputation but imo it’s quite the opposite, especially when compared to Naples.

So we stayed 6 days in Rome, staying in Trastevere. Imo Trastevere is the place to Be, it’s such an amazing
Neighborhood, one of my favourites I’ve ever stayed in.

Typically we spend much of our time walking and with rome it wasn’t much different, the first couple days we circled outside of Trastevere, at some amazing oasta, and drank great wine. Imo the super popular pasta places in Trastevere which are known for the “best carbonara” etc are not that. We ended up at a place called Enzo’s right by the river in Trastevere and this place was hands down the best pasta I’ve ever had in my life and it does not make the list of the best pasta in the area. We were drinking absolutely AMAZING bottles of wine for about $35-$45 bottles which may sound expensive for Italy but honestly these were comparable to $100+ bottles I’d get back in Canada whether they were local, or even French etc. there were 45 minute to hour lines of locals waiting each night we went but they serve drinks to the line while you wait so it went quick!

On the 3rd day we had reservations to go to the Vatican Museum. Now from Trastevere to the Vatican museum this is a pretty good hike, a 45 minute to hour walk. However Ubers and taxis were like $10 euro so 100% worth it. We went to the Vatican museum with a 11am reservation.

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Italy - Vatican City

We took an Uber as I said before and it was about a 25 minute Uber from Trastevre to the entrance to the Vatican museum.

We had booked a time slot for a guided tour a few days before and arrived, checked in easily, and waited about 25 minutes for our guide to hand out the ear peices and we were off. Quickly cleared the security/border and we were onto the tour.

Now with the Vatican I have a hard time really enjoying this tour without huge skepticism/somewhat disgust that the Catholic Church owns this type of collection. There are plenty of videos you can watch on how these massive art collections whether it’s the Louvre, Hermitage, any huge collections are basically tax havens/they only show a fraction of the collection/they are just hoarding treasures away from the worlds view. But it feels quite a bit dirtier with the Vatican. Given their history/reputation which we don’t have to get into.

With that said the Vatican museum is very interesting and it actually holds a lot of peices I loved and actually interested me. The hallway with the golden frescoed ceiling is breathtaking. The guided tour feels almost required as there is way too much to take in. Maybe you could do a Rick Steve’s Audio guide but there’s just so much stuff everywhere without someone actively pointing things out and adjusting the pace at which you go through the rooms it would be quite difficult.

The tour took about 2 hours until we were guided into the Sistine chapel. The sistine chapel has a lot of negative reviews for overcrowding etc. however when we went in late November it wasn’t too bad. What was off puting, and frankly felt like this totalitarian/authoritarianism approach to crowd control is this BOOMING voice over microphones saying “BE QUIET!! BE QUIET!! NO PICTURES!!”

There were actually a few people who got escorted out for taking pictures.. was quite the experience.. lol

We didn’t end up going into St.Peter’s basilica as we had a bit of trouble understanding which tickets actually included it or not. My parents had previously done the tour with the basilica being part of the tour but we could not find this combo deal, and the lineup at 4pm when we walked out was what seemed to be hours long.. my wife had been inside previously and while there were a few things I wanted to see, after the museum I didn’t feel too eager to stand in a longggg lineup.

Overall it’s obviously a must see when in Rome but I feel a bit dirty supporting anything to do with the Catholic Church.

It didn’t help the numerous gift shops/caffès you were forced through at the end of the tour hawking $30 cheese burgers.. lol

After all that we grabbed some gelato nearby and walked back to Trastevere. This walk from the Vatican to Trastevere is very nice along the water. Highly
Recommend if you’re heading back that way.

Italy - Rome

Rome is just so amazing. The vibe is like nothing I’ve experienced anywhere else in Europe. It may be my favourite city on the continent.

We spent the remaining days walking around the coliseum area and all the other great sites. One thing I don’t really love and why I likely wouldn’t stay around the coliseum are all the hustlers/grifters etc. it’s better than begging I guess but definitely saw a few tourists getting hustled whether it be for stupid trinkets or seemingly fake tour tickets etc.

We did not do a tour of the ruins nor the coliseum as we had not pre-booked but I was more than satisfied with walking around the outside. Especially since we had just been to the coliseum in Pula.

We never took public transit other than Ubers and while some distances such as the coliseum back to Trastevre are quite a walk, it’s very manageable. Walking back from the coliseum you also see the old ancient race track where you can picture chariots racing around the perimeter lol

One thing I’d say for eating, look for the quick take out places locals go to, pasta, pizza, friti

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Am sad that you didn't ask me for some hotel recommendations in Frankfurt. The city has much to offer and lots to see.
Do not define a city by the RLD around the train station. Sadly, the Rick Steves audio guide has people walk through here. Why? No idea, but it certainly is not my own advice or recommendation.

If you would have stayed on the train from the airport just 2 more stops, you would have come up in the middle of the city, with lots of great hotels around you, medieval churches, shopping, green spaces, and restaurants. You would have left Frankfurt with a completely different feeling.

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France - Lyon

So from Rome we took the FrecciaRossa all the way to Lyon, believe it was like an 8-9 hour day. Stopping in Milan I think it was.

We’d been to France a couple times before but never Lyon. We had some mostly for food and wine and seeing a few sights nearby. Under this post I will talk about road trips we took to Chamonix and Annecy, as well as Dijon and Burgundy and 2 separate private wine tours.

So in Lyon we stayed south of the river basically across and down from Perache station. This felt like it was a pretty good choice. We found transit a little annoying in Lyon as the street layouts etc. aren’t too conducive for cars nor getting somewhere without a transfer. We could walk to the street car that went to Perache and then the metro line runs north south along the main district with the pedestrian ways etc. as well as the old town across the river on the other side.

Now.. this is a little annoyance but there is an attitude in Lyon similar to a Spanish siesta etc. where things close for lunch or a break etc. as we usually woke up a little later and then would go for coffee and lunch if you aren’t at a lot of restaurants right in the middle of that 11am to 1-2pm window a lot of places are closed when google says they are open, they aren’t serving more food once you arrive, they are closing shortly and have no more seatings etc. lol we found it.. inconvenient..

Ironically, our private guide, Olivier who lived in Lyon said there was increasing pressure for things to stay open and “open on weekends” due to demands by customers and in order to make profit, lol..

Oh and yea, our Airbnb host also said that reservations at many restaurants are very hard to come by because the aforementioned, restaurants feel they are so busy during the week, that they tend to be closed on weekends… so something else to note lol

So.. first 2 days we spent in the town, the main pedestrian areas are very nice walking streets lots of shops and restaurants, bars and bakeries. Plenty of delicious spots. I walked for about 15 minutes to a place that reviews claimed had the best croissants in the city and while it was a dingy hole in the wall compared to some of the others around those reviews weren’t lieing! Damnnnnn! Lol I’ll see if I can remember the name.. honestly Lyon is Lyon lots of restaurants options and France, it’s a great town to eat and drink but it wouldn’t crack my top 15 in Europe personally.

After a couple days we had plans to rent a car and drive to Chamonix. We ended up renting a car from Perache main station from Sixt. We rented a Fiat 500 for 5 days which was like the cheapest we could find and it was still $650 for 5 days when we rented a car for 22 days and dropped it off in a different location in Croatia and that was only $800 :/

The drive to Chamonix is ok, it gets much more scenic as you get into the alps. Also there are quite a few rolls I think it probably cost between 15-20 euros in times to drive to Chamonix and Annecy?

In Canada I don’t think we have any of the traditional take a ticket type toll booths anymore, at least not in BC so we found it really hilarious to see the 4-5 lanes turn into a fan of 12 lanes and everyone just driving everywhere to get through then racing back to merge into the 4 lanes lol

80% of the drive there it was mostly socked in and overcast but as we were driving up the via ducts that kind of weave up the mountain it began opening up. I didn’t really know what to expect from Chamonix but it’s really cool nestled in the mountains in a large valley. The actual “village” as you picture Chamonix is quite nice but imo it’s not as nice as Whistler. It’s actually quite comparable I’d say in terms of size and layout but outside the main village promenade etc. the homes and apartments are quite run down comparatively. Not saying that the 10-20 million dollar mansions surrounding whistler are an “improvement” over the vibe etc but

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I’m really enjoying reading your trip report, Tyler! The info about Croatia & Slovenia is timely for my trip this year.

I particularly appreciate your detailed perspective of each of your cities! Your recommendations are almost opposite of mine for Venice (my favorite city), the Amalfi Coast (liked staying in Salerno and Amalfi and taking the ferries everywhere) and Lyon, and that’s a huge benefit for all of us readers to hear multiple perspectives when planning our own travel style for the next trip.

@Dave, thanks for those recommendations for Ljubljana, also. I will be there four days total and researching activities beside planning to take a city bike tour the second day. The food tour is a must - thanks!