Tag Archives: Europe

Dover – England to Ancona – Italy 2019

Date of travel 15th Aug – 1st Sep 2019

So today Ian and I set off for our 2nd European adventure in Doris our motor home, along with Alf our fur baby.  We haven’t really got a plan, other than we need to be in Corfu by 4th September to go sailing with our parents.

Alf, waiting to get on the ferry at Dover.

We booked our ferry this morning (told you, I’m not very organised) from Dover to Calais through Aferry.co.uk. It cost £140 for 2 x adults, Alf and Doris.

 

Bye bye England, see you in a few months.

Whilst on the ferry we had a look on the laptop to come up with a route.  We decided that we should go to Trento, Italy to visits our friends and to get there we would go through Germany.  Ian then came across The Romantic Road (Romantische Strasse), that leads you on a fairytale journey from the north to south of Germany, so that’s would we decided to do.

The Romantic Road took us through beautiful quint picturesque villages and grand fairy tail walled medieval towns. We really enjoyed it and it’s a great way to see some of Southern Germany.

Our Romantic Road travel guide will be coming soon – so please watch this space…

After 5 days following the beautiful Romantic Road, starting in Würzburg and finishing in Füssen, it was time to continue south into Austria and then into Italy. This of course was absolutely spectacular as we drove through the alps.

Who wouldnt want to see these views?…

High up in the Austrian sky, I suddenly spotted a walking bridge and told Ian, but unfortunately we had to much traffic behind us to pull over and you can’t just turn around in Doris. Since then, I’ve learned that it’s the highest walking suspension bridge in the world, it’s called Highline179 and best of all it only costs €8 to walk it. That’s definitely on my to do list!!…

We spent one night at the magnificent Lago di Resia in Val Venosta valley.

The famous sunken bell tower.

Where Ian was very excited to find out that it’s a mekka for kitesurfers, but so disappointed as there was no wind. So I’m sure we will be back…

No wind 🙁

Highlights of this part of our drive, coming soon…

After one week of being on the road, we met up with our friend in Trento, Italy. He got us straight out of town and took us to some incredible places that only locals would know about.

We had our own VERY MINI festival, dancing and playing music to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary and of course the breathtaking view.

Just WOW!!!

We felt like we were in South East Asia rather than Northern Italy climbing up a waterfall in Centa San Nicolò. 

Alf, lost in the fall of it all.

We said our goodbyes and met up with another friend for breakfast at the beautiful Lago do Caldonazzo before continuing our journey down the Adriatic coast of Italy.

Where, we finally found the sunshine and sea…

Ancona

Our highlights for the East Coast of Italy, will be coming soon – so please watch this space.

We are now 2 weeks and 3 days into our European adventure and it’s time to head east over to Greece.

We booked our ferry directly with Grimaldi Lines from Brindisi in Italy to Corfu Island in Greece, it took 6.5 hours.
It costs £167.60 for 2 x adults, Alf and Doris.

I really hope you have enjoyed reading about our adventures and it will encourage you to get out there and explore…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Albania – 13 Must Do’s!! Because, we couldn’t stop at 10…

How can you not love, this?…

We fell in love with Albania and its simple to see why, it is such a beautiful country, with wonderful people. There’s breathtaking beauty around every bend, the mountain drives will give you everything. River side and high cliff hugging roads that take you through local villages and display the endless vistas beyond. 

One word – Beautiful…

We travelled from North to South in our Motorhome (Doris) with our dog (Alf) for 19 days from 1st – 19th October 2018.  Considering the time of the year the weather was absolutely  brilliant making it a Parfect autumn holiday destination.

Here are 13 things that we think, you MUST do whilst in Albania…

These are in order from North to South to make it easier to plan your travels.

Yet, another spectular view.

1.) Shkodër Lake

It would be easy to think, that you were looking out at sea…

Be sure to visit the largest lake in southern Europe, that stretches all way to Montenegro.

2.) Lake Koman

All aboard…

Hop on the local ferry and travel with the locals as they go about their daily lives. Whilst gazing at the mountains as they dramatically enter the water.  This unique trip is one not to be missed!!

Alf, taking in the views of Koman Lake.

3.) Valbona National Park

Ian & Alf, stretching their legs.

Once you have finished your Lake Koman trip head for the spectacular Valbona Nation Park. Here is a Mecca for trekkers high up in the Albanian lush green mountains.

4.) Thrown Sand at Rana e Hedhun at Shengjin Beach

Alf, waiting for me to make the steep climb…

This really is something special and if you have the energy, climb up for spectacular views. The slide down is great fun too.

5.) Vlore

Vlore at sunset.

Visit the beautiful seaside town of Vlore, with its long stretch of sandy beach and newly developed promenade.

6.) Barat

Barat, the city of windows.

Barat, a beautiful city on the river Osum with a castle high on the hilltops, be sure to spend a whole day and night here.

7.)  Gjirokastër

Gjirokastër Castle.

Take in some history with a visit to the splendid Ottoman UNESCO old town and Gjirokastër castle. The castle is still used to this day for concerts.

8.) The Blue Eye

Beautiful colours.

A stunning natural spring.

9.) Ksamil 

Couldn’t resist a selfie.

Ksamil, wow, what can I say ? A little piece of absolute paradise!!…

10.) Kayak

We made it…

Spend the day kayaking around the beautiful islands of Ksamil and a day to kayak to the incredible Butrint national park.

11.) Butrint

Once, the 1st line of defense.

 Butrint a prehistoric UNESCO world heritage archaeology site, the biggest not only in Albania but all the Balkans.

Amphitheatre in Butrint.

12.) Explore on 4 wheels, or 2…

Doris flying high, in Albania

It is the only way to get off the beaten track and see the real Albania.

(If you haven’t got wheels, Albania is still a fantastic holiday destination).

View from our home, oh the joys of Moho life…

13.) Get to know the locals

 

Hospitality at its very best.

We found that Albanian’s were incredible welcoming and extremely kind and always had time for us.  We were even invite into their home.  To read more about the locals we met, please read: Northwest Albania – Albanian Hospitality

Plus, you get your very own local tour guide and a friend for life.

Ndue whng us a tour around Lezhë.

 

It was really, really hard to name just a few things to do in Albania as it really is an amazing country full off natural beauty and history.

If, I was you, I’d get there quick before it gets too discovered…

Please read my posts about our road trip starting in the north, heading south, the links are below:

Northern Albanian

Northwest Albania – Albanian Hospitality

Central Albania

Southern Albania – The Riviera

 

Southern Albania – The Riviera

Date of travel: 9th – 19th October 2018

We continued our journey  south west, if you haven’t read about Central Albania, please click here: Central Albania

Please note – to travel the Albanian Riviera, you really need wheels as there is much distance between each beach.  Please do NOT let this put you off. The spectacular mountain drive, as it corkscrews between them is a gift in itself. 

Alf, watching the passing goats

We arrived in the coastal city Vlora mid morning.  We headed north of the city, straight for the beautiful long golden sandy beach to find a place to call home for a day or two.

Not a bad place to call home…

The beach is huge and undeveloped apart from a few wooden beach bars scattered along it .  As we were there in October the bars were not open but this meant we had the whole beach to ourselves except for locals doing their daily exercises and a few beach dogs that Alf had fun playing with.

The next day we walked south along the beach, where we found a newly developed port. Just past here there is a newly built promenade with lots of bars, restaurants and hotels.  I imagine in season this would be buzzing with life. We spent 2 nights here but we could have easily spent longer.

We then continued our journey south along the twisting and turning mountain roads, stopping at the picturesque pebble Drymades beach for a night.  A lot of reviews that we read, say that this is the most beautiful beach in Albania, who are we to argue…

Drymades – Alf enjoying the view.

We even got to share the beach with a cow who had a paddle to cool down.

A Cow, having a paddle

We climbed up through the split rock to find yet another beautiful beach, this one was sandy so you have the best of both.

Can’t argue with that…

Next stop was Hirmare, we liked it here and thought it would be a great location for a week holiday, we spent 2 nights. This seaside town is split into three sections. The 1st is a modern pedestrian promenade full of bars and restaurants.  The 2nd, a small pebble beach with a campsite and a few apartments. We were lucky and the owner of the campsite let us stay for free as it was out of season.  And the 3rd, a long pebble beach with more apartments and residents.

Continuing south, Porto Palermo Castle is well worth a stop, it cost 200 Leke each to get in.   We just wandered around but you can get a guide. There is also a small beach here if you wish to have a swim.

Porto Palermo Castle

Borsh beach is a very long unspoilt pebble beach. It would be rude not to stop and have a swim, so we did….

No sandy bum, here…

We popped into Ujvara Varander where we enjoyed a coffee sat amongst a natural spring as it cascade around the seating area.
(Reviews for food on trip adviser are not great, we only had a coffee so I can’t comment).

A quirky café.

We then headed to Sarande, the main holiday destination in Albania. There are plenty of resorts and bars stretched along the promenade and 100s of shops.  For 1st night we stayed in Camping Ecuador which is south of the city, we had the ocean straight in front of us and a river to our left.

View from our home, oh the joys of Moho life…

From here we drove inland to Gjirokastër (it sometimes is spelled Gjirokastra) for the day, where we spent the day roaming the spectator Ottoman UNESCO old town.

A once secret tunnel, running under the castle.

The Castle is absolutely incredible and very well preserved. It is definitely worth pulling yourself away from the beaches of the Riviera to spend a day or two here.

Inside the castle.

We then parked for free closer to Sarande city with breathtaking views, I was very lucky and spotted dolphins whilst we were having a beer.  We then enjoyed the evening having dinner and drinks along the promenade.

The following day we went to see the famous blue eye.

Beautiful colours.

We should have incorporated this as a stop on the way to Gjirokastër as you do not need long here.

We continued our journey south to the stunning picturesque Ksamil, it really is paradise and in our top 12!! We spent a few days here, kayaking around the close by islands and eating at the local restaurants.

Alf, refusing to pose for the famous shot…

(Please bear in mind we were there in October so pretty much had the small beaches to ourselves, this may be very different in peak season).

No better way to lose a few hours.

Whilst here, we decided to be a bit more advantageous and kayaked along the coast to Butrint national park, leaving our kayak with some fisherman to look after.  It sure was worth the energy as the archaeological site is very impressive!  It’s one of the most important in the country and is still being discovered to this day.

A recent discovered amphitheatre.

We kayaked back to Ksamil via lake Butrint which is absolutely huge.  At one point we had to get out and carry our kayak with the help of a fisherman around a fishing gate.  I’m pretty sure he doesn’t see to many tourists and their dog doing this.

The following day after 2 weeks and 4 days, we said our farewell’s to Albania, a country that we loved and headed back to Greece…

Thank you very much for reading about our Albanian road trip. I really hope you enjoyed it and it helps you to plan your trip to Albania. I wouldn’t leave it too long…

Please click here to read our Albania – 12 Must Do’s…

Northwest Albania – Albanian Hospitality

Date of Travel: 5th October 2018

Following on from our Northern Albanian road trip – please click here if you haven’t read Northern Albanian – Road Trip

Whilst chilling on the long sandy beach of Kune-Vain-Tale Reserve, a young guy (Ndue) and his Mum (Bardhe) came over to speak to us.  Ndue spoke fluent English and translated for Bardhe as she spoke none.  They invited us over to their house for the evening as they wanted us to experience Albanian hospitality.

Sandy beach as far as the eye can see…

We were very grateful, as we had a fantastic time, hearing all about how Albania has changed over the last 20 years.  Whilst feasting on home made wine, goats cheese, bread, jam, vegetables and in fact everything we eat and drank were all grown in their garden.

Yummy vegetables growing in their garden.

They even made their own Raki, which was incredibly strong at almost 60%.

Ian, Ndue and Bardhe with the super strong Raki.

Bardhe thought it was funny that we could not drink much.

See, I told you it was strong…

The following day Ndue became our local tour guide and took us out site seeing.  We went to a town called Lezhë, had a coffee along the river and then went up the hill to see Lezhë Castle  and its view of the Lezhë.

Atop, Lezhë Castle

We then headed north along the coast to see the Thrown Sand at Rana e Hedhun at Shengjin Beach.

A beautiful, long sandy beach, where a mountain meets the beach and has deep sand half way up it.  Ndue tells us that in summer a slide with water is put here and people slide really fast down it, crazy aye…

 

It’s a lot steeper than it looks….

See, I told you it was steep…

The climb was well worth it…

We said our goodbyes to Ndue and headed south…

To read the next part of adventure please click here Central Albania

Thank you very much for reading xxx

Central Albania

Date of travel: 7th-9th October 2019

We continued to head south if you haven’t read about Northwest Albania, please click here: Northwest Albania – Albanian Hospitality

We stepped back in time, visiting an old bazaar town in the charming Pazari Krujes.  The market sits on old cobble stone streets with traditional wooden houses above the stalls.  As you wander the narrow lanes you cant help but imagine all the 1000’s of different people that have also wandered the same lanes through the centuries.

Step back in time

Make sure to buy your traditional Albanian clothing, rugs and souvenirs here, as we found them to be cheaper than most of Albania.

You will also find Kruje Castle , the center of Skanderbeg’s rebellion against the Ottoman Empire.

Kruje Castle

We then continued south deciding not to go to the capital Tirana as it was raining and getting late in the evening.  (There is a cable car that takes you to the top of the mountain, we were told the views are spectacular on a clear day, so may be worth a visit).

We headed to Berat a city on the Osum River, known as the city of windows due to the white Ottoman houses.

Ottoman City of Windows

Perched on a hilltop overlooking the city is Berat Castle, its worth the steep climb to see the beautiful view.

Take yourself back in time, to an archers view from the castle walls.

After a few hours of sight seeing we headed down to the new part of the city to mingle with the locals.  We watched a premier league football game in a betting shop and was made to feel more than welcome and even put a few bets on, we didn’t win.  There are many bars and restaurant’s, so the evening quickly went.

The following day we attempted to drive to Tomorr National Park unfortunately this was not possible in Doris (motor home) as you need a 4 x 4.  So instead we stretched our legs with a long walk along the beautiful river at the base of the park in Polican.

Not such a bad walk…

A steep climb down

We spent the night here in Doris before heading to Southern Albania – The Riviera

Ancona, Italy – England

We rushed this part of our 24 week adventure around Europe, simply because … We wanted to stay in the sunshine until as late as possible!!!…

We arrived in Ancona at 8pm on Tuesday 23rd October after being on a ferry from Igoumenitsa Greece for 18 hours.

Our, not so comfy bed…


We drove for about an hour, heading north before finding a place on the side of the road to spend the night.

The next day we headed for Trento to take Alf (our dog) to the vets to get the tapeworm medication and to have a health check. This is needed within 24 hours and 5 days before returning the U.K, the passport MUST also be stamped and signed by the vet.

(Read Alf’s European Adventures – our BIG mistake!!!  to see what happened when this wasn’t done correctly).

Animal Care Trento is the name of the vets we went to, it cost €35.00.

https://www.animalcaretrento.it/

We then met up with our two close friends who took us to a hidden gem set up in the mountains with a view over Trento.  If you find yourself in Trento it is definitely worth going too, the food is delicious and the view spectacular!!

http://www.sat.tn.it/rifugi/elenco-rifugi/show?nome=Bindesi+-+%22P.+Prati%22&id_rifugio=4

The next day we set off at 8am and drove until just after midnight, stopping only for quick toilet and food breaks as we wanted to be in Düsseldorf to have breakfast with friends the next day.

We drove through the beautiful alps, the views were absolutely incredible and I’m sure we will be back another time.

The next we said farewell to our friends and headed for Calais to return to England, we booked with Aferry.

https://www.aferry.co.uk/

Our journey cost us:

Fuel – €250.00

Tolls – €65.00

Ferry – £134

I’m sad that this adventure is over but I know it won’t be long until the next….