By now you probably are aware that we as a family have this penchant for taking family vacations !! And in those little two-week holidays we try and work out the details beforehand as much as we can.¬† I do not favour travelling with guided tours or tour-packages and always love the independence that a solo tourist enjoys. This year¬†¬†my plan for a family¬†holiday was to go to Europe. With the intention of taking our Footprints back to Europe this holiday season, we needed to slowly¬†build a plan from scratch . Check out my plan – Family Vacation to Slovenia and Croatia below. Though¬†the travel plan originally started with a completely different plan, later as we worked out the cost and the tour dates we shifted focus till we found out that Slovenia and Croatia this time.¬†I usually prefer cheaper and budget travel and Slovenia, if you compare it to the likes of Paris or¬†Amsterdam or London, is ¬†much cheaper and fitedt both our budgets and our tastes wonderfully.¬†It has to be our type of travel, the things we like and the locations we would enjoy.¬†As you know Europe consists of around 30 countries of which Russia is the largest and probably Vatican city and Lichtenstein being the smallest.Our target this time was to again do a quick 2-week tour, and see which route fits us and its destinations attracts us too. Here was our initial plan. We were supposed to fly into Germany, then drive through¬†Switzerland, Lichtenstein Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and¬†Czech Republic and then back into Germany.
As always I plan up an itinerary first, scanning¬†Google maps, and checking distances, and identifying the cities where we can spend the night if we¬†string¬†the locations as a big road trip. I also note down the distances between cities, later adding a 25% detour to arrive at the total driving distance. Now once you have identified the car, and taken an average calculation of the kilometers/miles per liter and then multiplied by the average cost of gas, you can estimate the fuel cost.
Here is our first plan
|Zurich, Switzerland||312||3.20 hrs||City|
|Bern, Switzerland||125||1.30 hrs||Nature|
|Lausanne, Switzerland||112||1.20 hrs||Nature|
|Lucern, Switzerland||220||2.20 Hrs||Nature|
|Salzburg, Austria||454||4.45 hrs||City|
|Vienna, Austria||296||3.20 hrs||City|
|Budapest, Hungary||245||2.30 hrs||City|
|Bratislava Region, Slovakia||235||2.40 hrs||Nature|
|Prague, Czech Republic||525||3.10 hrs||City|
|Bavaria, Germany||356||3.3 hrs||Nature|
|Munich, Germany||85||1 hr||City|
|Distance and Fuel Cost||2806||415 Euros|
But you will find two huge drawbacks¬†¬†drawback¬†in this family holiday plan. Firstly , it included a looootttt of driving. Too much if you ask me. The route¬†covers 2800 plus kilometers in so short a time. Plus this tour chart¬†does not include the local sightseeing which , as per my experience¬†say usually adds up to 25% . So that another 700 kms. Pretty large distance to cover when you are visiting new places and cities. .
Secondly I am not a student of history and thus my interests in castles, museums and palatial architecture¬†makes for a very¬†medium intensity. Thirdly I am also not an avid opera enthusiast¬†neithera classical concert lover¬†to make me decide in favour of¬†locations or cities which are famous for them, example Prague or Vienna. I would probably love to view and tread the corridors of the museum from the first city that I come up to, but as I keep visitng more cities with more museums and more churches, my interest will¬†wane, I am sure. I am not concerned if Jacob¬†the 16th fought Henry the 9th and won over the queen Lillie the 11th.¬†IIt doesnt hold so much importance to Joe the peasant here.¬†Now, I happen to¬†live in one of the most dazzling cities of the world : Dubai. This travel and road trip itinerary included¬†destinations which are mostly cities. I would rather be with nature rather than visit cities with¬†skyscrapers and palatial hotels or buildings. Nope, this plan didn’t work for me.
So the question is what would me and my family love most ¬†out of a two week tour ?? Now, my family consists of myself, Anita and our just-been-teen daughter. I needed to plan a schedule which would be rewarding for all of us. Again I had a budget to consider. And the bugger cities are usually more costly, especially Switzerland which is the costliest.¬†Thus the plan went for changes , quite a few times and this is what it ultimately shaped up to.
|Kransjka Gora||85||1.10 Hr||Nature|
|Lake Bled||0||1 hr||Nature|
|Plitvice Lake||325||3.25 hrs||Nature|
|Venice||200||2 .0 hrs||City|
So you see, how i started with one set of countries in central Europe and then moved towards East Europe to chalk out a totally different route plan ? This one suited me and my family travel plans.
As you can see, the final tour plan for the Family holiday switched over to a complete new set of places. It included Venice (Italy), Ljubljana, Lake Bled, Piran and Kransjka Gora from Slovenia , and Plitvice National Park in Croatia. The tour started and ended at Venice ( I later went ahead and booked a return ticket from Dubai to Marco Polo Airport, Venice) and included the rest as a form of road trip.
This tour was basically of Slovenia. One of the little known gems of Europe, Slovenia is nature’s delight. The capital Ljubljana . not falling in the likes of cities like France or Lucerne, is cheaper but well connected to other parts of Europe.
As I was¬†applying my finishing touches to the basic plan for Slovenia¬† I was told¬†about this place in Croatia. It is an UN Heritage park, and some pictures which I checked out in the internet, bowled me over. A quick check-up on the driving distance , I found it is doable. So our plan was to drive to Plitvice National Park in Croatia, about 325 Kms from Lake Bled and then move back into Slovenia , to a seaside town called Piran. All looked good, and the logistics and plan slowly was forming out. Now I decided to work out on the places where I needed to stay and the number of days. Ths depends on the local sightseeing plan and again I quickly checked them¬†out.
It worked for me and slowly the tour was forming shape. Plan was to fly into Venice, move to Ljubljana, travel to Kransjka Gora and Lake Bled, and then into Croatia and again return back to Piran (Slovenia). The fly back plan¬†is from Venice.
Another family joined us and we needed to adjust our plan a bit. The car which we had booked initially from Venice would not accomodate all six of us. We needed a bigger car. Initially we¬†had¬†booked¬†out¬†a car from Venice, but then found out that the larger automobile class were not allowed to travel into Slovenia / Croatia from venice. So we tweaked the plan. We needed to find a car transfer service. A quick search and a question to the forum at virtual tourist lead me to Go-Opti .
We booked our trip from Venice to Ljubljana and our return from Piran (Slovenia) to Venice through Go-Opti. The experience was great. More about it here. For the rest of the tour I booked an Opel Zafira ( 7 seater) which we picked up from Ljubljana and dropped off at Piran ( next to Portoroz)
The rest of the trip now became easy to plan.