Looking back at the photos we took on our Europe roadtrip make us wish we were back on the road. I might of complained on hikes of being exhausted and sweaty but each and every one was worth the huff and puff for the incredible views they revealed. We’ve browsed through and picked our favourite photo from each country and looking at them now there seems to be quite a regular theme – nature. We weren’t there for the cities, we were there for the jaw dropping views and Europe nailed it.
Germany – From the cuckoo clocks and misty woods of the Black Forest, to the beautiful half timbered houses, year round Christmas shops and fairy tale castles, Germany pretty much had it all, but it was Bavaria that we enjoyed the most, especially the countless crystal clear lakes that we swam in.
Austria – A country full of Alp vistas and dotted with traditional wooden houses, it was the perfect start for our Europe trip. We spent days hiking in the Bregenzerwald region, up mountains, along pastures and past dozens of bell dinging cows. We even visited our first ever ice cave. One thing we loved about Austria was that most hikes went via a hotel/pub which always quenched our thirst on those hot summer days.
Denmark – We only spent a few days here but enjoyed the peaceful countryside, climbing up hay-barrels and walks around the country’s largest (albeit small) national park. We wondered around a pretty seaside village and spent the evenings swatting midges and flies.
Norway – The toughest country to pick just one photo for, Norway blew us away with its dramatic scenery. We conquered our fears on some precarious hiking trails and looked into the eye of a giant whale. We explored the impressive fjords of the south and the colourful cities of Stavanger and Bergen. We walked under creaking glaciers and swam in freezing cold lakes. We drove down relentless zig-zag’s and through legendary roads which were piled meters high with snow. But it was the Lofoten Islands with their spikey mountains, turquoise waters and brightly painted wooden houses hovering above the sea that we loved the most.
Sweden – We searched for wild bear and moose in the remote north and failed miserable after numerous drives through the midnight sun. We drove along dirt roads for hours and hardly passed another soul. The days were spent dipping into every lake we came across and basking in the never ending sun, while the nights were sadly locked inside Pablo avoiding all forms of flying insects.
Finland – It wasn’t quite as fun-packed as we’d expected, especially after Norway, but an entertaining chat with Santa Claus in Lapland and waking up to Reindeer strolling past us was enough to keep us happy. We started foraging and couldn’t stop once we tried the delicious Bilberry’s, we searched for wild bear (again) along the Russian border but all we found were bear prints. We couldn’t leave Finland without a traditional sauna and picked a beautiful location for it; in the woods with private access to a lake for cooling off.
Estonia – The beautiful medieval old town of Tallin was one of our favourites and full of character. In the south we searched for beavers and moose in the swamps and bog, and failed yet again.
Latvia – We slid down an Olympic bobsleigh track, swam in an old quarry and walked around the grounds of a fancy mansion. We also spent the day wondering around Riga which was full of art nouveau buildings.
Lithuania – There wasn’t that much to see in this country so we made a detour to the Capitol which wasn’t one we’d particularly like to go back to. The hill of crosses in the north of the country was an unusual site though.
Poland – It’s a huge country, but for us it lacked the wow factor and left us unimpressed. There was a big police presence and we were pulled over in Pablo on numerous occasions and once on foot for j-walking. The lakes in the north offered a relaxing pit stop but the huge chunk of nothing in the centre bored us a bit. In the far south we hiked the Tatra Mountains which, although pretty, were overcrowded with people.
Slovakia – This compact country managed to bag the best of Poland and Czech Republic. We loved hiking in the mountains here, and had an adventure in the Slovak Paradise national park further south where we had to navigate ladders through a gorge and past waterfalls.
Hungary – Another country which we didn’t see a lot of, although we made sure to try out one of their famous thermal pools, the one we went to was built inside a cave and offered numerous pools, saunas and a steam room. It rained everyday in Hungary and thanks to the ultra slippery conditions we had a small car crash but Pablo lived to fight another day.
Romania – The wild card, but what an amazing country. It was nothing like the rest of Europe, totally back to basics with horse drawn carts on the roads and the friendliest people you could imagine. We followed bear tracks in the Carpathian’s and then went to a sanctuary to find out more about Romania’s rescued bears. We visited the home town of Count Dracula with it’s brightly painted old town, hiked through a gorge, peeked inside a gypsy mansion and befriended countless stray dogs.
Bulgaria – We stuck to the western mountains and did numerous hikes to impressive mountain vistas and high altitude lakes. Rila Monastery was an incredible site with its remote location and vibrant murals covering the walls.
Greece – After five months on the road we decided we needed a holiday so embarked on a ferry to Thasos Island which offered deserted white sand beaches, a large rock pool and lashings of delicious Greek food. One thing we didn’t expect to find in Greece was Meteora which had monastery’s built atop narrow rock formations, it was a site to behold.
Croatia – Probably our second favourite country after Norway, everyday was an adventure with never ending natural sites. From giant sink holes and mountains rising from the azure sea, to the lakes and rivers that formed Plitvice and Krka National Parks. Then there was the beautiful old towns, frolicking dolphins, the unique sea organ and an impromptu wonder through an abandoned porn lords hotel. We loved every second in Croatia.
Slovenia – We can only imagine how much more impressive this country would of been in good weather, but even in the rain we loved it. We visited an Italian style port town on the coast, an incredible castle built into a cave and walked along the edge of Europe largest underground canyon. But it was the Julian Alps and the Soca Valley with its turquoise river and autumn coloured trees that wowed us the most.
Italy – We spent one week in Southern Italy, exploring cave dwellings, conical trulli houses and swimming in the warm sea. Then another week in the Italian alps, battling the rain and snow for a glimpse of the Dolomites and vibrant green pastures. After two chances, we realised Italy was not for us, the drivers were of Indian standard, the language barrier drove us mad and the amount of litter was disgraceful.
Switzerland – We missed a huge chunk of Italy so that we could explore Switzerland and it’s the best decision we made. The mountains really were breath-taking; absolutely caked in fresh snow and constantly towering above us. The green pastures and wooden alpine chalets were picture perfect and so was Lucern, a gorgeous city in an idyllic location.
Liechtenstein – A little detour from Switzerland put us on the opposite side of the Rhine River and just across the mountains from where we’d been in Austria 6 months before. We enjoyed more beautiful alp views on a hike above the tiny Capitol.
France – We saw a little of Northern France when we began the roadtrip, and although it didn’t offer much, it was home to Colmar, a stunning old town full of half timbered buildings. When we re-joined France 7 months later we were faced with freezing temperatures as we slept below Mont Blanc. As we drove south through Provence it warmed up again and we explored Europe’s largest canyon, Verdon Gorge, and an unusual corner of the country where the vineyards and lavender fields open onto a scene from Colorado with red rock formations. We loved seeing the wild flamingos in The Camarague and wondering around the many rustic villages.
Andorra – Another teeny tiny country, sadly rain fell instead of snow so Craig’s plan to snowboard in the Pyrenees was ruined, but we did manage to do a little hiking in a quiet corner of the country.
Spain – We only explored Northern Spain but loved what we saw of it. We hiked through canyons and desert scape’s and drove through scenery that resembled Monument Valley in the States. The colourful surroundings were enough to make us want to go back, along with the delicious tapas we ate in Pamplona.
So that’s it, back to reality for a bit and time to get saving more penny’s for our next adventure…wherever that may be; Africa? Alaska? China? back to the USA? or maybe spend a season living in Norway? Only time will tell, but one things for certain, we still have the travel bug.