2 minutes after the beginning of a conversation the question came up; how do we financing it? That is understandable, because we did not really know either what a trip like this could cost. I did some research on the internet and found a blog from a German family who had also been around Europe for 11 months. When it turned out that the trip would cost a big amount but not that expensive, we started saving. Since our saving account was never empty, we were able to save a good sum in 1 year. We were hoping for a lot of workaway and couchsurfing experiences so that we could save on the trip and make new experiences and acquaintances. But since this way of travelling was not guaranted, we had to have the entire sum together before the trip. On top of that, we did not own a car, so it had to be bought and paid for. I hope with these numbers I can help someone with their travel preparations and provide clarity. Good luck!
The first edition was the new (used) car with 9 seats. We decided on a larger car so that everything could come along, and nothing in big expenses had to be bought during the trip. We brought such as camping gear, working tools, household supplies, and our beloved duvets with us.
Well, here is a summary:
These numbers are based on an 11-month trip (but 13 months unemployed) and a family of 4 (children are already 11 & 13, no more toddlers with small appetite 😊).
Adding up the expenses, we were exactly at: CHF 41,771.05
We are now at home for a little more than 2 months and Christmas is just around the corner. The return home, to our home, was of course with mixed feelings. On the journey we rented so many different dwellings that we were looking forward to our four walls, especially the bathroom (short distance between the bathroom and bedroom and the floor heating). On the other hand, we were sad that the adventures, the surprises, the last second adjustments, new experiences , were over.
After a week we had brushed, cleaned, repaired and put away all of our clutter. The wooden boxes from the car have been removed and the wood is now used as shelves in the basement (there is enough material to put away). We had a lot of space in the car, so we could pack a cool box and 2 folding bicycles next to 18 farmers boxes. Now you are wondering if we needed all of this material. Certainly NOT! As adults, we have certain prior knowledge when we pack for a short trip, but the children still have little experience. And yet, a trip for 11-12 months needs other preparations and if the material is already around the home, it should be packed, because buying things twice on the trip, makes things expensier. We tried to set priorities before the trip, but that didn't go down so well with the girls. Some stuffed animals and other (in my opinion unnecessary) things from their room had to be packed for the trip. After 11 months on the road, we all have learned that we can actually get by with very little and that material is not that valuable, but our time together is. We have collected everything in the living room that was NEVER touched on the trip.
In Conclusion, we could leave 25% at home. Certain things were used frequently, others were only used for a short time. In the end, Materials that were only used for 1-3 weeks that year should be left at home. For us, it would be the camping gear. If you write down everything that is needed for camping (4 People), you may be better of for those couple weeks to rent. Nowadays you can rent so-called mobile homes on all campsites and these are excellently furnished. So we could be traveling with a smaller car, which will turn out to be cheaper.
On the subject of cheaper, money, budget etc. you have to wait for the next blog entry😊.
July 25th, it is 2 p.m. and we cross the border without stopping. Finally, after a three-hour drive, we arrive at our Ibis hotel in Saint-Dizier, France. We just say goodnight to our pillows and fall asleep quickly.
July 26th, after about 6 hours in our car, we arrive in Draveil, a suburb city of Paris. Here we spend the next 3 nights in a B&B with a French / Portuguese family. The garden, with its play kitchen, tree house and slide, is suddenly occupied by our children. We settle into our room and after awhile, we talk with the adults about our adventurous journey. For dinner we eat all our leftovers.
July 27th. Today we spend the first day in Paris (that's why we came). Since we don't have a bus / metro / train ticket yet, we walk to the next train station (about 30 minutes). There is only one ticket machine, no salesperson nor a counter or any help in a person. It takes a few minutes until we got our tickets, then first we must tap the screen a several times to find out which services are offered and are best priced. Now the journey starts: Paris centre here we come! We sit on the train for about 10 minutes until we get off at the Austerlitz train station and manoeuvre into the metro.
First, we go to the famous Sacré-Coeur and Montmartre. Then, we take the metro to the Arc de Triomphe, walk on the Champs d’Elysées, then Place de la Concorde. We walk through the Tuileries Garden to the Louvre and the Pont Neuf. In the Latin Quarter C. gets something to eat, because the picnic wasn't enough 😊. After a short walk through the area, we take the bus to “Bibliothèque François – Mitterrand” and then the train back to the B&B.
July 28th. The discovery of Paris continues. However, it starts a bit unusual, the first stop is a toy store: C. still has some money and would like to buy a “Schleich®” animal. In the same area, we visit the Jardin du Luxembourg. We continue to the direction of Notre-Dame de Paris and Les Halles (we wanted to see them because Pablo's mother lived in Paris in the 1960s and designed a part of the plans for this large building). With the next bus, we drive to the Place de la Bastille (a little nap for Pablo). Hoop on to the bus, which drives along the Seine, we finally arrive to the Eiffel Tower. We're too tired to wait until sunset to climb up, so we get to the entrance at 6pm. The view is extraordinary, it is a ocean of houses. We enjoy the atmosphere and the warm evening on top and then make our way back by bus and train. At 8:42 p.m. we treat ourselves to a kebab at the Orly train station, which we take with us and eat in the B&B (arrival 9:30 p.m.).
July 29th, 10:31 am, our horse (with 120 horsepower) is packed, and we drive on. At 12:00 p.m. we park our car in the street in front of the Palace of Versailles. Really impressive, those avenues and huge houses with their gardens with the ponds, which could pass as lakes elsewhere. After 2 hours of admiring this palace we go back to the car, then we still have 3-4 hours to drive.
17:49 we arrive at Freschines Castle. We will spend the next 2-3 weeks here as a workaway.
July 30th - August 7th. Pablo's task is to distribute the Wi-Fi throughout the castle and in the annex houses, so that all guests can access the Internet. I'm currently helping in the laundry. Maria (from Venezuela) needs my help, she takes care of the rooms and has no time to wash and iron 😊. The children can finish their schoolwork. T. has all her schoolbooks finished, so she helps me iron the pillows cases.
On August 4th, after an eternity, I finally go to the hairdresser, I also get Pablo an appointment for tomorrow. His beard is certainly too long now.
August 8th. Today we visit Orléans, a pretty town on the Loire.
August 9th. After sleeping in and having breakfast, we go to Chambord. A large castle nicely situated at the river Cosson. On the way home we drive through Blois and discover a small old town.
August 10th-16th. We help where we can (laundry, cleaning rooms, serving dinner, cooking for the team and refurnish furniture). The B&B is well booked, it is high season, no wonder! Every now and then after work we just go cycling and discover the area.
August 17th. Yesterday we packed everything, and today we continue towards the Atlantic. We'll be spending the next week at a campsite in Hourtin. The children are very happy, because it was their wish to camp and the weather looks good 😊. On the way, we stop in Chenonceaux (Pablo was here with his parents about 30 years ago). At 5:52 p.m. we stop at the campsite reception. At 6:30 p.m. the tent is up, and we are ready. The pizza is fetched from the snack bar on campsite, the today I don't cook anymore😉. At 8 p.m. T. & C. go climbing, a camp activity.
August 18th. After a reasonably good night, we visit the little sister of the Statue of Liberty in New York, and a bunker system used by the Germans from WWII. On the beach, we go for a walk and bath our feet (the Atlantic is cold). In the afternoon we cool off in the swimming pool. T. & C. are asked by a young lady (her name is Emma, and she is 19) if they would take part in the water polo game! The 3rd place is the proud result!
August 19th. This morning we're trying to cool off at Hourtin Lake. The water is cool and somehow, we don't find beaches so great anymore or it's just that we are so spoiled from Crete that they just can't keep up. Luckily Emma comes by and takes the girls to a water park this afternoon. After lunch has been devoured, T. & C. go with their bikes and Emma to the Splash Park and have fun on inflated plastic castles on the lake. We enjoy the afternoon reading.
August 21st. There is nothing on the agenda, so we enjoy the hot day at the campsite and by the pool. In the morning, C., T. And I try to catapult our arrows onto the target in an archery course. It's fun and at the end, I'll be able to hit the middle 😊.
The children spend the afternoon with Pablo at the pool and they take part in a water Olympics. Pablo shows everyone how to swim fast, he beats everyone, great! At the end of the day, they win 2nd place (a bottle of rosé and a woodcut board as a prize).
On August 22nd, we visit the “Plage de Hourtin”. Unfortunately, it is 8 kilometers from the campsite, if we had 4 bikes, we could even get there in an environmentally friendly way. Unfortunately, we only have 2 folding bikes, so we take the car. The beach and its famous dunes are heavenly. The children go swimming in the high waves, the water is, as always in the Atlantic, rather cold. At 9 p.m. we are still not tired and we turnup into great table football players, that was fun.
August 23rd, Sunday, and it's raining a little. Luckily, we booked one more night to dry pack our tent 😊. We spend the day reading, playing, and cycling.
August 24th. Getting up in the sunshine, wonderful! The tent will be dismantled today, and the journey will continue to the next campsite in the south of France. Our things are packed dry and clean and we have a good 5 hours' drive ahead of us. Tonight, we want to check in at the “Montpellier - Plage” campsite. At 5:30 p.m. we enter the tourist resort “Palavas les Flots”. It feels like we've landed in Florida.
At 17:53 we park at the assigned space. The tent bag on the ground next to the car but somehow, we don't like the space. I propose Pablo to go for a walk at the campsite, to clear his head from the drive. On our walk, we find much nicer places that are not fully shaded, but much better located and above all quieter. Upon request at the reception, we change our camping spot. Everyone is happy to live in place O72. At 6:40 p.m. we start setting up the tent and are finished 20 minutes later (we are slowly getting faster). At 8 p.m. we eat, food we have ordered (hamburgers, mussels, kebabs).
August 25th. The day starts well. The night was reasonably quiet. Today, we're going to the village, the girls want to register for a surf course. We are lucky, there are still places available for today and the next 2 days too, great! 3 days of surfing for 2 hours, yes! We wanted to keep our promise that the children could learn to surf.
August 26th. Surf, swimming, drink coffee, read in the hammock and soak up the sun.
August 27th. Unfortunately, there is no wind today, so no surfing, but stand-up paddling. Otherwise we spend the whole day with “Sun, fun and nothing to do” at 32 ° C, that feels good.
August 28th. The pool facilities in France can only be visited with appropriate swimwear, means no swimming shorts nor shirts. This will be difficult as the children only have swimming shorts and shirts. Around noon, we walk to the village and search one shop after the other to find a bathing dress or bikini bottom.
August 29th. This week here in Montpellier – Plage went by quickly. It rained last night. While the tent dries in the wind and sun, we go to the camping restaurant for breakfast. At 12 p.m. we slowly leave the campsite. Our next destination is only an hour's drive away. Why only such a small distance? We're not ready to leave the sun and sea yet. At 2 p.m. we arrive at “Les Saintes Maries de la Mer”. Groceries at Spar, a short tour of the village, lunch by the sea and at 3:30 p.m. check-in at the campsite. We move into our rented tent and walk through the camping area.
August 30th. Sunday! I walk along the sea in the morning while the laundry spirals around in the machine and can be taken out clean after 34 minutes. After the hot midday sun, we go swimming at the pool.
August 31st. We visit Saintes Maries, have an ice cream, and buy some souvenirs.
September 1st. Ah! We are very happy because we 3 (T., C. and I) are going on a 3-hour horse walk. Riding in the Camargue is a dream. The 3 hours are wonderful, only that I (the only one) feel muscle pain in my butt and inner thighs 😉.
September 2nd. Morning stroll and swim in the Mediterranean Sea. The afternoon we spend at the pool, as the water hear is 26 ° C 😊.
September 3rd, we stay at the campsite and by the pool all day long.
September 4th. Collect mussels, swim by the pool and an evening dinner at the restaurant tops the day. I'm freezing on the terrace; I forgot my sweater.
September 5th, clean, tidy up, pack and the journey continues. Today we will drive to our friends in Essert-Romand in der Haute - Savoie, it is our last stop before we will come back home. It's a strange feeling. After such a long journey, you are looking forward to an apartment with heating (especially the floor heating in the bathroom), hot water and the toilet a few steps away from the bedroom. The other eye mourns at the end of the journey. So many cool, adventurous, unusual, but also unsafe moments should simply be over now. We look forward seeing our friends after a year and exchanging thoughts.
Today the journey takes a good 5.5 hours again. On the way north, we visit a sight, namely the “Pont du Gard”. At 6:23 p.m. we park our car in a very well-known area. The mountains just belong to us. Our friends are still out, driving around in Switzerland, so we go to the apartment, which is always open, and I start preparing dinner. The reunion is cheerful, and the evening lingers with conversation and wine.
September 6th. We can spend the night in a small apartment across from our friends. They maintain the large house for the English owners, but they can use the pool and sauna. After a long time only with the sea around and short walks, we go on a hike and stop in an alpine cottage, eat good food and buy excellent cheese.
September 7th & 8th. Antoine and Anne have school, so we stay in the village. I write, read, the children play billiards and Pablo reads and sorts photos. I go to the sauna on two afternoons, it feels good.
September 9th. The day has come, and we are going home. We clean the apartment while the kids play in the pool again. One last lunch together before we leave at 1:30 p.m. At 4:50 p.m. we arrive at our house in Switzerland. We can hardly believe it: we are home.
We have 327 days, 17,743 km, a car service, 2 new tires, gastrointestinal flu (Pablo), cold (children) and countless experiences behind us.
Many thanks to the readers and the comments that have accompanied us over the last 11 months.
July 21st. 7:30 a.m. and the construction workers start to make noise above our room. We do not need anything for breakfast, Pablo receives a small coffee as an apology for the noise when he checks out. In 5 minutes, we will be at the border. As always, there are not many cars today. It is guarded, but the passports are of no interest to the border, he prefers to investigate the trunk to make sure that we only have camping gear with us. As an info: We could load 1200 kg. Suppose that these 1.2 tons were not camping material .... we could be rich .... but this wealth would also have big consequences, which I do not want to discuss further. 😉
While driving, I get a message on Facebook. A former school colleague who attended the French course with us in Montreal 22 years ago is this afternoon at Seewalchen at the lake beach. This is not far where we transit and so we decide to spend lunch and the afternoon with her at the lake. We arrive at the parking lot and it is full. She calls and we go to see her mother and daughter at the club in Weyregg at Attersee. There, we picnic and enjoy a cooling off. At the end of the afternoon, after many conversations and memories of the 1998 time in Montreal, we say goodbye and we continue to Passau, where we have booked our hotel. The border with Germany had to be crossed at 30km / h on the highway, but nobody was checking.
We arrive at the hotel at 7 p.m. We nest in. However, Pablo thinks the evening is still so beautiful and so we get on the bus to visit Passau. We buy a real German meal: Turkish doner kebab. We circle the small, beautiful city along the rivers once and then take the bus back to the hotel, where we go to sleep at 11 p.m.
July 22nd. Breakfast is served on the way. Today we drive to our next overnight stay, which is in Bisingen. We arrive at 4 p.m. and are tired. We are happy to stay here 3 nights. Relaxing and resting is the order of the day.
July 23rd. Today we are visiting Tuttlingen, why? In the last few years, we have received visits from a very lovable, young man several times via couchsurfing. Daniel came to Biel mostly on business and today we are visiting him and his wife once in Tuttlingen. Dinner and a city tour are on the list of the day. Before that, we circle around Tuttlingen downtown for ourselves, also to get hold of souvenirs. The dinner tastes good, and before the dessert is served, they show us the local mountain and a castle ruin, where we get a nice overview of Tuttlingen. After dessert, we leave at 11 p.m., because we need another hour to get to the apartment.
July 24th resting!
July 25th. We will pack everything together, because today we are off to France. This morning we visit a well-preserved Roman villa (yes children, they were even here a long time ago). Just before the French border, we stop again in Germany to “enjoy” another typical German specialty: Currywurst.
Sometime in the early afternoon we cross the border smoothly (no border guards or barriers).
July 12th, today we are on our 4 wheels for 5 hours. The next border is waiting for us. After so many border crossings we should be used to it, but every time we get nervous again, only because of the new regulations after the Covid pandemic. As of today, we are back in the Schengen area. This is important for us as Swiss citizen because our country is not in the European Union, but many EU countries are also in the Schengen agreement, so everything makes it easier to cross. At the border we wait just a few minutes again and the crossing goes smoothly. We are literally driving away from the 2nd wave of Covid and using the open borders.
July 13th to 16th. We begin to work/help on Angi’s (an Austrian) farm. Pablo’s work is to sorts recyclables and arrange the barn, not exactly challenging. I attack the garden that is about to overgrow of unwanted plants, so I clear it of those weeds. There are so many that I cannot see what has been planted (tomatoes, radishes, sunflowers, cabbage, etc.). T. comes and helps me out from time to time. Time goes by quickly and the heat gets stronger in the afternoon.
Angi has a 7-year-old daughter and she has a lot of toys. C. is busy all-day building farms with all kinds of housing and animals. From time to time she goes swimming in the large pool.
On July 17th we will go to a Hungarian heritage park with Viki’s Hungarian grandmother, where we learn something about the Hungarian history.
July 18th. The children walk the 3 dogs every day for a good hour. Some mornings they clean the rabbit hutch and feed them and their babies.
July 20th, our last day here in Csólyospálos. The day is sunny, so we can pack the tent dry. We leave at 1 p.m. On the way to the next accommodation we briefly visit the city of Kecskemét. At 5 p.m. we check into the Autohofhotel Hegyeshalom on the border to Austria (cheaper than staying in Austria 😊). Therefore, we treat ourselves to a dinner in the restaurant with a Hungarian goulash. Good night!
July 2nd, late afternoon, we are crossing the border into Romania. It has about 5 cars in line. Immediately after the border we stop to buy a Ronvinieta (we do not want to get another fine like in Bulgaria). At 6pm, we check in with a couchsurfer in Constanta. We arrive around 5 p.m. as we said, but unfortunately, he is not yet back from work. So, we explore the area and withdraw some cash (RON). An hour later we move into our room and meet Edouard. I cook a risotto for everyone.
July 3rd. Today Edouard takes us to his workplace somewhere or nowhere. He works as a winegrower and he wants to show us the winery. The building is still under construction but 80ha of wine plants are producing very fine wine. The construction site is for Pablo very interesting. The construction site exists for more than 5 years. The owner probably must return the EU grant because the site was not completed in time. After visiting the construction site, we crossed the winery and examined the vines. The heavy rains washed away almost all the earth and therefore the plants suffer (we were told). We are invited to take lunch with the whole team. After a good meal and a outstanding wine, we drive back to Constanta (one way approx. 80 km) and go to the beach (5 minutes from the apartment). On the beach we meet another couchsurfer and her son (12 years old). We have great fun, the children play and bath, we adults have good conversations.
July 4th. Today we explore Constanta with the tourist bus (a red double decker like in London). First, we drive to the end point of the bus ride which is in Mamaia, and than come back to the city centre. There, we go to an address, which was mentioned in a letter to Pablo’s grand dad in 1948. We find the address, take a picture and than walk around till is lunch time. There is a McDonald beside our next visit place. At 2 p.m. we buy the ticket to the dolphinarium. First, we visit the small zoo and at 3 p.m. the dolphin show begins. C. is thrilled to see Dauphins in reality. With the double-decker bus it goes back to the apartment and then for a swim, it is 32 ° C. In the evening we go to a typical Romanian restaurant with our host. For dessert we buy at a takeaway some chocolate and berries filled crêpe.
July 5th. Today, we drive 401 km to Bran, our next stop in the region of Transelvania. Since we watched all 3 films “Hotel Transelvania” on our Europe tour, we had to show the children the Dracula Castle. On the way, we stop at a castle in Sinaia. Very impressive from the outside. T. & C. get a corncob for lunch (this is sold here on every corner, like the hot dogs in New York 😊).
Late afternoon, we check into our pension in Bran. Our family room is on the top floor, and for the kids there are swings and a trampoline in the garden.
July 6th. Shopping in a decathlon. Yes, I know, but new shoes and swimsuits are also needed while traveling. After the shopping tour we drive to the centre of Brasov. Beautiful downtown, clean and inviting. A coffee and toilet stop is required and later we eat lunch at a small snack bar (spicy pizza, sandwiches and a Kürtőskalács). In the afternoon we head out to see the famous (Dracula) Bran Castle from inside and the outside.
On July 7th we continue our trip to Turda. The Turda salt mines were recommended to us by the first couch surfing family in Bulgaria. So why not stop there as well? We found our accommodation on couchsurfing. Siggi welcomes us with a dinner prepared and spoils us with our own room and attached private bathroom, the children can sleep in the mezzanine.
July 8th. The day was already programmed for us by Siggi, so we have to postpone our visit to the salt mine until tomorrow and add another night at Siggi’s place. For today we have a guide. First, he leads us to the Cheile Turzii (a gorge). As we hike through the gorge and back above, Siggi is waiting for us at the restaurant with his book. Our feet are sluggish now, because we haven't walked that much in a long time. For lunch we drive to a Hungarian restaurant which is very well known in this area. The food is delicious.
The evening is as well organized for us. Siggi knows a family (she is German, he is Romanian with Hungarian roots) and they have 3 children in the same age as T. & C. We are invited to dine with them. They cook Langosh (flatbread fried in oil over the fire) for us. The children get along well, T. exchanges WhatsApp number with Emilia (12y.), C. exchanges WhatsApp number with Bea (school friend of Emilia). The evening ends at midnight.
July 9th. This morning we visit the salt mine. We park the car in front of the family’s house, and we walk to the mine. In front of the entrance I forgot C.’s and my mask, so we had to buy 2 new ones (these are now made of fabric). Masks are mandatory inside buildings and public transportation. The mine is impressive, the giant size unimaginable. Inside, it even has a ferry wheel and a lake where you can ride a rowboat. We had a blast.
For lunch we meet again with the family and we have a barbecue with Micis and Salads. In the afternoon, Pablo and the children go to the salt lakes and mud baths (15min. walk). The mud has a healing effect and many people pay money for it, here it is free and simply occurs in nature. The day passes fast.
July 10th. Our front tires are worn out and nothing worth when it rains, so we found a mechanic here in Turda with Siggi's help, who will change our tires. The order of the tires should come in today at noon, the mechanics counts 15 minutes for work and then we can continue our trip towards Hungary. After packing everything, the children went up to the girls to play together for the last time, and we will pick them up after the tires will be changed. It is noon and the tires are not here yet. 3 p.m., finally the call that they arrived. But driving to Hungary now would be too much. So, we stay one more night at Siggi and leave tomorrow at 10 a.m. The children are overjoyed to spend more time with their new friends. We organize a movie night. We watch the movie “Rocca” with chips, popcorn, chocolate cornflake cakes etc. T. has a little stomach-ache and diarrhea; and so, has C.
July 11th. C. no longer has diarrhea, but T. is not yet better, and Pablo now has abdominal pain and diarrhea. The only one who has nothing is me (got an iron gut😊). So, we decide to stay with Siggi for one more night and rest. Diarrhea on a 6-hour drive, no thanks! We thank Siggi for letting us stay 3 nights longer.
July 12. Everyone is healthy and we are heading to Hungary. See you later!
June 23rd. It’s afternoon and we are coming to the border of Bulgaria. We are amazed of how many trucks are standing on the roadside and are waiting to get across the border. Fortunately, the car line is not that bad. We have about 6 cars in front of us and we are making rapid progress. Passport, ID, and vehicle ID are controlled, a little look into the car, greeting the children and we are through. On the streets of Bulgaria, we come across a sign that show us how and who pays for the use of the streets, but we have a hard time to understand it. So, we stop at a gas station, go to the kiosk and there is a machine where I can have the vignette printed out, yes!
On the way to our accommodation, we rush into a decathlon, T. and I need new sandals.
At 19:30 we drive up to our apartment where we sleep tonight. It is a area with a couples buildings with a total of 600 apartments in the middle of a corn field (surrounded with a fence and car barrier). In short, we move into a one-bedroom apartment with everything we need (including washing machine). We cook something simple and go to bed soon.
June 24th. We get up at 8:30 and eat breakfast. At 11:29 we take the train to Sofia. The journey takes 49 minutes. In Sofia we take the tram to get to our hosts, which takes us another 45 minutes. When we arrived, we greet each other, and T. & C. give the gifts we bought to the little ones. We put down the luggage for the overnight stay and go explore Sofia a bit.
June 25th. After a Bulgarian breakfast called Principessa, we get our pack packs and go towards the city centre. We take part in a free city tour. The young man tells the history of the city in a funny and comprehensive way.
At 14:29 we take the train back to Pobit Kamak, where our car is parked. The man at the gate doesn't want to let us in. Unfortunately, he doesn't speak English and I don't speak Bulgarian. So, I show him a note with the phone number of our host. After a short conversation on the phone, the matter is settled. The weather is somewhat better than the day before and the kids go for a swim in the pool.
June 26th. Today we continue our journey. On the way we visit Plovdiv and the monument of freedom, Stoletov peak, before we arrive at our next couch surfers in the late afternoon. They have a charming house with a big garden. The son gives us his room and he stays on the couch.
On June 27, the host take us around to their neighbouring town, where we have our breakfast. Veliko Tavorno has about 70,000 inhabitants and seems like Biel to us. An old town with a lot of great pubs and coffee shops (it just feels good).
June 28th. It is Sunday and we all sleep in, eat breakfast together, lie, sit, run around in the garden and just enjoy the day.
Monday June 29th, the day of our onward journey. In the short term we have booked an apartment in Varna on the Black Sea. On the way we stop at the Ovech Fortress and the Stone Forest.
The apartment is great has everything we need, and we can do our laundry.
June 30th. In the afternoon we take the bus to go into town, look at Varna and find a barber for Pablo. The children go for a swim in the sea, but somehow, they find that the water smells (not as clear and beautiful as in Crete 😉).
July 1. We enjoy the chilled apartment doing what everybody feels like and just enjoy the day.
July 2nd. Today, we pack everything again and drive on. We visit the Black Sea in Shabla again before we cross the border into Romania. See you!
April 27 - May 3. We are looking forward to the last week. The joy of lifting the spears is great, finally you can move around again without papers (so shopping is fun again 😊). Spring and the blooms in the garden are a blessing.
On May 6th we go on a trip again after a long time. The lockdown saved us a ton of diesel 😊. We drive to the south (Chora Sfakion) in our region. A short hike of 12km on the famous E4 hiking trail. After so long we are a bit out of breath and the heat doesn't help. The goal was to visit the village of Loutro. This can only be reached on foot or by ship. Because of Covid, people were rather unfriendly towards us tourists. In the end, we could fill up our water bottles on outside faucet (thank you!) On the way back, we enjoyed the sweet water beach.
The car needs cleaning.
May 10, 4 little cats were born today. Unfortunately, the last kitten did not survive the birth.
A little journey of discovery through our shopping village and eating ice cream.
May 11-17. A wind from Africa is coming and it brings us sand and a heat wave up to 40 ° C. With these temperatures we go to all the beaches worth seeing (Balos, Elafonisi) and have the unique chance to enjoy them alone. There are usually 1000s of tourists in these places.
Travel will be possible again from the end of May, so we booked our onward journey today. The ferry will go to Santorini on June 4th (a surprise for the kids), stay on the island for 5 days and then take the ferry across to the mainland. We are very excited!
May 18-24. The heat wave is still going on. We enjoy the sea every day. From today, we go to a small beach (Kalami) which is 5 minutes away by car and which we visit and enjoy every day after work. It has a dock, from where the children can jump into the water.
May 25-31. This is our last week in Crete. We are working on the last little details so that we have everything at the end of the week. On May 26, Pablo receives an SMS from the ferry company, because of Covid-19 all small express ferries to the islands of Greece were cancelled until June 15. We were able to cancel the accommodations on Santorini and in Marathon and everything was refunded to us. We could not cancel the apartment in Limenas (30 minutes from Heraklion), so we will go east for 5 days and sniff some vacation and travel air until we can travel further on June 15th.
On May 29, our ticket was converted into an open status ticket, which will be valid until December 31, 2022, that's so generous
May 30th. Today we drive to the east of Crete. On the way we visit Knossos. The oldest traces of the eight-meter-thick settlement layers date from the 7th millennium BC (6900-6600 BC). Immigrants, perhaps from Asia Minor, brought farm animals and plants to the southern Aegean for the first time. Their settlement probably only existed for a few centuries (200-400 years). This is followed by a find that dates to around 5700–5500 BC. The following new settlers show the typical cultural characteristics of the early Neolithic. At the end of the 3rd millennium BC, smaller kingdoms developed on the island, as can be seen from the larger palace complexes in Phaistos, Malia, Knossos and Kato Zakros. The Palace of Knossos was built between 2100 and 1800 BC. Knossos was particularly tall, rich and magnificent.
31. May. Today we explore the small town of Limenas where we have our accommodation.
June 1st. Today we asked the ferry company if they could reserve us a place for June 15th, and the answer: Unfortunately, no strangers are allowed to travel to the Greek islands until July 1st and the company does not offer trips until July 11th from Heraklion. Well, our dream of exploring Santorini without tourists falls into the water. We cannot and do not want to wait until July 11th.
June 2nd. In the morning we drive south and visit Ierapetra and Agios Nikolaos. We liked Agios Nikolaos a lot, it really gave us a holiday feeling, but also reminded us of the party resorts. We visited the bar “The Zep”, which a Swiss couple opened a few years ago.
On the way back on June 4th we visit Heraklion. We like the city vibe and the great markets. A stop at the fish spa for the kids made their day. At 8 pm., we arrive in Aptera.
June 5th Work a bit and go to the Kalami beach, swim and celebrate the opening of our friends' cantina.
On Sunday June 7th we drive to a green oasis, certainly something special for Crete when it is 35° to 40° C in summer and the landscape in Crete is brown. After a visit to the oasis and the small typical Crete village, we drive to Lake Kournas. To our surprise, there are only small beaches there, but a lot of pedal boat. We rent one and pedal around the lake and enjoy the fresh sweet water.
June 8-14. This week we want to finish all the little jobs. We decided to go to Souda this Thursday and buy a ferry ticket directly from Chania to Athens.
June 9th. A free day at work and we visit another breath-taking beach (Stefanou).
Today on June 11th we are in Souda and buy a ticket directly from the Anek office. The ticket is for June 17th, so we can be sure that the EU countries have their borders in Europe open again and that our onward journey does not get stuck somewhere.
We go to the Kalami beach every day for a short time and the children made a gift for our friend Chrisoula to put in her canteen.
On June 14th we have a bite to eat with our host and exchange memories, gratitude and tears.
June 15-21. The day of departure is getting closer and somehow it feels strange. Crete became our second home after 4 months. The toys are packed back into the box, clothes, stuffed animals and bed linen are freshly washed and packaged. Our donkey gets to work again 😊.
Today, June 17th, our ferry will leave the port at 10pm. We have all day to pack and go swimming again. The weather is nice and hot, but we have gusts up to 70km / h, hope the ferry leaves tonight. At 7pm, we have another meal with our host and than make our way to the port. The easiest check-in we ever experienced. Wearing masks is a must. After 10 minutes we are set in in our cabin. Good night!
Good Morning! Today is June 18th and we have arrived quietly on the mainland. T. has a sore throat and is very tired. The air-conditioning in the cabin didn't do much good. Fortunately, we can check in for our overnight stay at 8:30am. T. lies in bed with a sore throat and temperature. She sleeps all day.
June 19, T. is feeling better. We make our way towards Kalabaka, where our next overnight stay will be. On the way we stop at the monument in Marathon and the monument in Thermopylae.
The famous Metéora monasteries are in Kalabaka. These are an UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The entire complex consists of 24 individual monasteries and hermitage build on strange rock formation, of which only six are still inhabited today. The remaining eighteen monasteries are either too difficult to reach or have been abandoned due to the risk of collapse.
On June 20th we will continue towards Thessaloniki. We will spend the night outside, more precisely in Kallikrateia. It is a smaller city and right by the sea. We go swimming for the last time at temperatures of 30 ° C. The apartment is not ideal, it has 2 bedrooms, but otherwise it is too small. The kitchen does not invite you to cook.
June 21st. Today, we visit Thessaloniki. The 2nd largest city in Greece. Small and charming. The sea shore is pleasant and reminds us a bit of Biel.
June 23rd. Today we leave Kallikrateia and thus Greece. Our way today leads us across the border to Bulgaria towards Sofia, where we are invited to spend the next 3 nights with couchsurfers. On the way, we visit one last archaeological park, named Pella. Pella is the birthplace of Alexander the Great. With this visit, we conclude the Greek history class.
A new era begins tomorrow!
More pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/5XLY8Xyj5SwRR9Ao8