Summary of our Great 2018 in Europe

Our toys: RV, car, e-bikes, boat & motor

We had a great trip this year.  Our weather was better than last year which was nice.  Our expectation was that after we arrived back in Hungary, we would head south into Croatia quite quickly where it would be a little warmer.  That didn’t happen.  We spent more time in Hungary than we expected and then, one hour from the Croatian border, we decided to switch from heading south to east and we travelled to Transylvania (in Romania).  What a great decision.  How nice to be retired and able to change direction on the spur of the moment.  Transylvania turned out to be a highlight of this trip.  We spent almost three months in Transylvania and Maramures, the northern region of Romania, and would have been there longer if we hadn’t had a specific date to meet up with friends in Croatia.  We absolutely loved our time there.  Everything worked out well, the people, the history, the outdoors, the biking, the towns and the rural areas.  Probably more than anything else we felt so welcomed by the people in Transylvania.  The campground owners couldn’t have been nicer.  They included us in their activities, knocked on our door with food and drinks, spent time visiting and talking with us.  They were great.  It wasn’t only our hosts.  The fellow travellers we met were very friendly as well, as were the local people that we met as we toured around.  We probably had more visitors and long talks with people while we were in Romania than we did in total the rest of this trip.  We also met more people in Transylvania who spoke English than we did elsewhere.  Perhaps best of all there was some really different sights; horse drawn wagons on the highways, gypsy castles (sometimes entire towns filled with gypsy castles; fancy Romanian Orthodox churches in every town, steam powered trains. In short is was like stepping back in time about 80 years with one exception.  Everyone had a cell phone, and prepaid SIM cards were unbelievably cheap. Most of the campgrounds in Transylvania were really people’s backyards.  They had added electricity hook-ups and water and made room for possibly ten campers in most cases.  I will say that the one downside was the entrance to these campgrounds.  They were really too small for us to get into.  We managed but it was extremely tight and heart pumping.  I honestly don’t think most drivers could have got our RV into many of these campgrounds.  We were definitely too big.  When we first got to Romania, we were told to visit the Maramures region as it was the area least impacted by time and where you would still see traditional clothes worn by the locals.

Leaving Church

The internet in Europe is much lower priced than the internet in North America.  The initial deal in Transylvania was so good they almost paid you to take their service.  We paid less than $20 for one month and that included almost 100 GB of data.  In addition, we got an additional 10 GBytes each week under a promotion where we had to log on to their website and “shake” our phone.  I don’t think they expected cell phone users to actually use this much data.  We got to watch all our “You Tube” news and history programs in high definition on our television since we had so much data.  Normally any internet programs that we watch are quite blurred because we select very low quality with a correspondingly smaller amount of data being used.

Baja town square late in the evening

Outside of Transylvania we also stayed in some lovely places.  In Hungary we spent a while in the town of Baja, pronounced very differently from the Baja in North America.  This campground was on a small river that fed into the Danube where we went boating.  Across the bridge at the end of the campground was a small, tourist friendly, town that we could wander into in the evenings.  It was a lovely setup all around.  In Slovenia we spent over a week at the Drava Centre near Maribor.  It was also on a river that we boated on.  It had a nice restaurant and coffee shops right on the premises.  The campground, restaurant and one of the cafés were owned by the same couple who were very nice and friendly.  The campground was also within easy biking distance of the town of Maribor.  Our plan was to bike there often but that didn’t work out.  Again, there had been quite a bit of rain and the bike path was just too muddy and messy for us to use.

X marks our campsite on Lake Bled

We spent 10 nights camping on Lake Bled in Slovenia.  We had been told by many people from various countries, starting with our Hungarian hosts, that we absolutely had to see this area and they were all correct.  The Triglav National Park nearby is a gorgeous place for anyone that likes the outdoors, hiking and scenery.

The last couple of months we have spent on the Istrian Peninsula, visiting this region that covers parts of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia.  We have seen more inhabited medieval towns than you would ever expect, many built right on the tops of the hills. We have driven along ridges on the tops of the hills and mountains to small villages with fantastic 360⁰ views.

Meeting our friends in Croatia

We did enter Croatia earlier in the year to meet up with our friends from Norway that we met last year.  Croatia in July is a little bit hot and busy for Mike and me but spending the week with our friends and their family was great.  If they read this, a big hello and hope to see you soon to Helge, Elin, Helene and Trina …and Martin also.

In any of the countries in this part of the world, it doesn’t matter what the drivers are like, they all stop immediately at pedestrian crosswalks.  If you try and cross the street away from a crosswalk, whether or not traffic will stop for you seems to be country dependent but in all the countries the crosswalks are almost sacrosanct.  It is probably worth a quick comment to say that all of Europe is well ahead of North America when it comes to recycling and greener environments.  Mike and I first noticed this over twenty years ago and it hasn’t changed.

When Mike once came back from a trip to China (without me ☹) he told me about going into an apartment building where the lobby area was just awful by our standards but once he went inside one of the private apartments it was lovely.  We ran into the same thing in Russia last year.  Our small hotel was in a building shared with others.  The entrance way was enough to make your turn tail and run but once inside the hotel’s doorway it was very nice.  We have seen that same thing here in some parts of Europe.  In the older buildings the common area or entrance way looks decrepit, but once you get inside one of the private apartments off the lobby, they are extremely nice.  In North America, first impressions such as lobbies and entrances are very important.  Over here it appears that no-one wants to spend any money on the common entrance area, but they certainly spend it on their own areas.  Just an interesting cultural difference.

Our new e-bikes. Love them!

We did have multiple problems with my new electric bicycle and it isn’t working properly at the moment.  That has been a bit of a concern.  Electric bikes were new for us this year and we have absolutely loved them.  We put over 1500 kilometres or 1,000 miles on the bikes and would have done more if we hadn’t had the problems we did.  We are just hoping that we can describe the issue and get the correct parts while we are home at Christmas.  The other big issue that I am not sure if we can resolve while we are home is our problem with our laundry machine.  It isn’t working at all and I had no idea how much we took advantage of it until we had to go without.

As expected, we have had some ups and some downs but without question the year has been great.  There are so many places, even just in this part of the world, that we would have liked to have seen but knew that we didn’t have the time.  The world is a great place to see and explore.

We added stickers to our RV.  These are all the countries in Europe and states and provinces in North America that we have camped in with this RV.  As soon as I post this, I know that I will remember all sorts of highlights of this year that I forgot to mention but for now, this is the end of 2018 Europe Leg 2.

Travels with our RV

Statistics:

                                                   

2017

2018

Notes:

Departed Canada:       

Apr 16

Mar 2

 

Returned to Canada:

Nov 20

Dec 1

 

Total Days Camping:

189

270

Not incl: hotels, planes, ferries etc., many more of these in 2017

Days Camping for no charge:

63

23

2017 a lot of dry camping in Norway and stayed with friends in Budapest

Total Campground Cost:

$4,070

$6,265

 

Miles on the RV

8,485

4,555

 

Miles on the Lincoln

6,708

13,300

 

Total Miles

15,193

17,885

 

Total Fuel Cost

$10,000

$5,200

Fuel is more expensive in Scandinavia in 2017, Most miles on hybrid Lincoln in 2018

Note that no charges are shown here for meals, entertainment and other costs.  This is fuel and campground costs only.



Some pictures to remind us of our journey.

2018 Started in Budapest, Hungary
We don’t look like we fit in: Transylvania
Historic Transylvania – Alba Iuliu
Romanian scenery – just great
Maramures, Romania – the land that time forgot
Onto the capital of Croatia – Zagreb
Enjoying a nighttime concert in Croatia with friends from Norway
Churches everywhere!
From Croatia back to Slovenia – Ljubljana
Slovenia – Absolutely Gorgeous
The Istrian Peninsula where we spent our last month – Rovinj, Croatia
Hilltop towns in Istria: What a great trip

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