So after a great year on the water meeting so many New people, sharing some amazing days on the rivers and seas of Ireland. It was time to take a Break and head for Colder Climates……………Yes thats right Colder Climates.
Here at Pure Adventure we Love Liquid water but we also like the Frozen stuff too.
We planned a great trip to see as Much of Europe as we could but also to get in a good bit of Snow time in afew different areas of the Alps. I was Joined By my Girl friend from New Zealand and Being her first time to Europe she had some Must see places in Mind.
When Planning A trip to Europe for afew weeks in Summer or Winter it is Important to do afew things the main one being Make sure that the Van is in tip top condition and the Tyres are up for the Job. So Prep started In December where we kitted out the Pure Adventure Van with Full Insulation and a Raised bed that allowed us to store Cloths, Boards, Skis and Food under the Bed. This was A real basic conversion nothing too flash as it is still a work van that fits all our Kayaks in the Back.
The Next thing was to make sure we had all the requirements for each Country we planned a route around Europe that covered about 14 countries some had different requirements but Most were the same. Check out The AA’s website for rules for each country.
The Main things You need when planning a road trip to Europe are,
1. Hi-Vis Jackets(one for everyone in the Car & You must be able to get them from the front so they cant be stored in the Boot)
2. Reflective Triangle
3. Spare Bulbs
4. Breathalyser Kit
5. Snow Chains (Winter Time)
6. Reflectors for Front Head Lights.
Most of this Stuff is easy to get in Ireland, Local Motor Factors or Halfords are great for them. My top tip for snow chains is wait till you are in Europe as you can get them much Cheaper or if Lidil have them In like they did this year grab a set they are Golden.
Our Route would take us through the following countries:
Ireland, Wales, England, France, Italy (Vatican City), Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Hungry, Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium
From Ireland It was A ferry To Wales then 6 Hour Drive to Dover where we grabbed the Channel Tunnel 45 min Later you are in Calais France Happy days. From Here we headed south towards Paris, After 2 days exploring the streets it was time to Head to Disneyland for a New Year’s Party Never to be forgotten. The best bit is they allow camper vans stay overnight in the car park and there are full toilet and shower facilities it costs €20 extra but it’s Cheaper and easier than trying to get a place in a Disneyland Hotel.
After a great day of scaring Ourselves on Roller coasters and Seeing live stunt shows it was time to get back to Nature and head to the mountains and one of my favorite places in the world, Chamonix France. Chamonix is a special place sitting right underneath Mt. Blanc with some of the Biggest Mountains in the Alps dotted all around it. We stayed in a great Hostel (Too cold for the Van at –15-20˚C) Gite Alpenrose, it is about a 10min walk from the centre of the town but is warm, quiet, clean and Cheap as chips €15 a night cant beat it.
While in Chamonix we stayed for 4 Nights boarding for 3 days and then doing the Touristy stuff before heading to Italy via the Mt. Blanc Tunnel. We then hit a small Italian resort called Pila and with fresh snow just after falling it was a great place for a day’s boarding no waiting at lifts and quiet pistes. Not forgetting the Pizza in Italy was Deadly.
From here we left the Mountain where we drove to Pisa to see the Tower, then Florence where they do savage Gelato and then to Rome where so everyone Know it is impossible to find parking especially with a van. We stayed in a friend’s House who works as a tour guide so we were all set for guided tours of the city and getting the inside scoop on some cheeky art work in the Vatican. We paid our way with Pizza and Ice cream!!
After this we headed to Verona to Check out Juliet’s Gaff and then on to Venice where as soon as we arrived even though it was close to 0˚C I wish I wish I had of brought one of our Inflatable SUP Boards he Canals where amazing and despite what I had heard before they were pretty clean. Next Time I am in Venice I will defiantly try my best to get out on a SUP board there It would be amazing.
From Venice we then travelled through a blizzard and over some mountain passes to go through Slovenia and into Croatia. We had decided not to drive that far down the coast of Croatia due to the weather not being the greatest snow, high winds and bad visibility, We made it down as far as a nice sea side town called Zadar here we found an amazing Sea organ which a Architect had designed when remodelling the waterfront prom they built in a organ which plays the sounds of the sea when it is rough and the waves roll into the sea front, Pretty funky in the Pitch Dark.
From Here we Travels to Bled in Slovenia where fresh snow meant it was a nice Powder day in Vogel Ski area, unfortunately high winds and Bad Visibility Meant the higher reaches of the area where closed but we still had a fun powder full 14km red run that got the legs Burning! Food in Slovenia and Croatia is Amazing and cheap check out the Bled slice Umm tasty.
Austria was our Next port of call with a day in Zell am See ski resort and then onto Salzburg to see if the hills really are alive with the sound of Music. From her we traveled too Another ski area in Austria With amazing Views Its Name Escapes me Right Now………. after a day on the slopes it was off to Vienna for afew days of Museums and sightseeing.
From Here we headed to Eastern Europe Spending the next week or 2 travelling from City to City through Hungry, Slovakia, Poland and Czech Republic These countries are all amazing and If you where planning a trip outside of Ireland and have a tight Budget I would Def recommend them as they are All beautiful countries with amazing Local dishes that are great value. One Quick example would be In Krakow for 2 people having Starter, Main, Desert, 2 hot wines, A beer & Hot Chocolate we spent €13 and it was all such good quality.
We then traveled across Germany meeting with friends and chilling out with them before hitting Amsterdam for afew days and onto Bruges then Back to France and the drive home.
All in We drove 8000 km saw 14 countries and had so much fun!
Travelling around Europe in a van in the winter is way different to the summer mostly due to it getting darker way earlier and also the Temp in most places being close to Zero or way below the whole time. But it is still great fun and a sweet way to see what’s on Ireland Doorstep.
Now Looking forward to Another great year Teaching and Guiding In the Best country of All Ireland!
See you on the Water