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Old 08.12.2017, 08:24
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Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

Greetings to my European friends,

I was fiddling around online planning a trip for next June. I thought I might land in Munich, rent a car, and for two weeks drive through Austria to Slovenia, come back through Italy to Innsbruck, and then West through Lichtenstein and St. Gallen eventually back to Germany and Munich.

A. Does this make any sense?
B. Do I have to worry about the car being stolen in Slovenia?
C. Is this route through Austria/Lichtenstein safe in May or June?
D. Should I prepare for issues being an American citizen at borders or in towns?



Thanks in advance,
Greg
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Old 08.12.2017, 08:41
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

I drove from Venice to Lake Bled in Slovenia in the summer. It felt very safe (much more so than Italy, France and Spain for example). The motorways were quiet and the countryside is stunning. In a way it feels like a cross between Austria and Italy.

Make sure you buy a motorway Vignette for each country (in Slovenia you can buy a - I think - 3 day or one month for not much money). We stayed in Bled but also drove into Lujbliana for the day which s also highly recommended.

There are no borders and I can't see why an American would have a problem, unless you wear "Trump is God" t shirts.
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Old 08.12.2017, 09:02
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

Slovenia is beautiful and safe. You don't have to worry about it being stolen there more than anywhere else on your route


Slovenia and Austria offer a 7 (or 10?) day highway vignettes. Switzerland comes only yearly (40CHF) and Italy does not need one. If you're just cutting through the corner of Switzerland and your car does not already have a Swiss vignette, it might be worth it just to avoid to the motorway. It will be more enjoyable anyway, off the main roads

What do you mean by "safe"? The only think that comes to mind is road conditions and while there will still be snow in the mountains, nothing should keep you from enjoying your trip.

American passport and a friendly smile and you'll be fine at the borders
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Old 08.12.2017, 10:17
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

It is a lovely trip with lot of things to see and many scenic route and options to chose from. Because of Schengen borders are normally not much of an issue and you may hardly notice them.

I do not know what you mean by "safe in May or June". High up in the mountain there could be snow and some specific higher alpine passes may still be closed. For example the Timmelsjoch route only opens around end of May. Once they are open they are considered as "safe", but still a a batch of Snow can slide on the road.
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Old 08.12.2017, 10:36
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

Safety or border crossings won't be an issue, but I think your loop might be a bit large. I think you may end up spending half of your two weeks behind the wheel.

The whole area is nice, but you might want to shorten your loop a bit to give yourself some more "dawdle" time.
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Old 08.12.2017, 15:24
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

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The whole area is nice, but you might want to shorten your loop a bit to give yourself some more "dawdle" time.
Agreed, unless this is how the OP likes to travel. My husband and I took two weeks to ride our motorcycles down to Mostar, B&H. For us, half of the point of the trip to was to ride on interesting roads and watch the countryside unfold before us. But we allocated enough time to arrive in a town mid-afternoon, enjoy a stroll through the streets, have a pleasant dinner and night's sleep and then start of on a new destination the next morning. For us, a few hours in some of the towns we were in was plenty of time.


And as the OP is from the US, he probably does not have a lot of opportunities to visit Europe and would prefer to see more, but not as intensely rather than see less, but more in-depth
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Old 08.12.2017, 15:39
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

Brief digression: On my "list of requirements for anyone mad enough to apply for the position of significant other" would be the ability to read Michelin maps and the willingness to do daft stuff like agree to head for the general direction of a seaside town but arrive there using as many of the green, scenic roads marked on the map as possible/ makes sense. The journey would be the holiday, so to speak.

My satnav is unfortunately not smart enough to include a "lengthen journey time by a maximum of x hours in favour of scenic roads" option (is there such a thing? If yes, which one does this? If not, can someone please make one?) so map-reading it is. As for the suggested journey, depends if you are happy to spend the majority of it driving. For me, that is no issue, but if you want more time to discover places, you may benefit from making your loop a bit tighter, as others have suggested.
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Old 08.12.2017, 15:54
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

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Brief digression: On my "list of requirements for anyone mad enough to apply for the position of significant other" would be the ability to read Michelin maps and the willingness to do daft stuff like agree to head for the general direction of a seaside town but arrive there using as many of the green, scenic roads marked on the map as possible/ makes sense. The journey would be the holiday, so to speak.

My satnav is unfortunately not smart enough to include a "lengthen journey time by a maximum of x hours in favour of scenic roads" option (is there such a thing? If yes, which one does this? If not, can someone please make one?) so map-reading it is. As for the suggested journey, depends if you are happy to spend the majority of it driving. For me, that is no issue, but if you want more time to discover places, you may benefit from making your loop a bit tighter, as others have suggested.
Too bad I am already married. We are kindred spirits. I only do maps because GPS drives me absolutely freakin' crazy. I have forced my husband to figure out his GPS to do the exact thing you are asking about. You have to find the option for "avoid autoroutes".

Another way to get around a recalcitrant GPS that wants to continuously route you back on the motorway is to keep plugging in tiny villages on the tiny D roads that you want to drive on. It is tedious, but with a dedicated navigator with map in hand in the passenger's seat, it can be done.

My motto is "Nothing cool ever happens on the autoroute".
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Old 08.12.2017, 16:08
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

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My satnav is unfortunately not smart enough to include a "lengthen journey time by a maximum of x hours in favour of scenic roads" option (is there such a thing? If yes, which one does this? If not, can someone please make one?) so map-reading it is. As for the suggested journey, depends if you are happy to spend the majority of it driving. For me, that is no issue, but if you want more time to discover places, you may benefit from making your loop a bit tighter, as others have suggested.
Get one for motorcycles, they have a twisty and curvy road option which in many cases are also scenic drives

For the trip itstself I once did in less than two weeks Vienna and back including Salzburg, Hallstadt, Salt mine Altausee, Stift Wilhering, a danube cruise, Stift Melk, Neusiedlersee, a short trip through Hungary, Europes biggest Oaktree, Bad Blumau, Steirische Weinstrasse (which is literally on the Slowenian/Austrian border), Soca Valley. Planned was also Großglockner-Hochalpenstraße but because of some unfortunate events which have nothint to do with safety could not be done. Oh, it was Fall which made some of those part thanks to Heuriger/Federweise really enjozable https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federweisser (Good if you are two people )
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Old 10.12.2017, 21:33
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

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I drove from Venice to Lake Bled in Slovenia in the summer. It felt very safe (much more so than Italy, France and Spain for example). The motorways were quiet and the countryside is stunning. In a way it feels like a cross between Austria and Italy.

Make sure you buy a motorway Vignette for each country (in Slovenia you can buy a - I think - 3 day or one month for not much money). We stayed in Bled but also drove into Lujbliana for the day which s also highly recommended.

There are no borders and I can't see why an American would have a problem, unless you wear "Trump is God" t shirts.
Sounds wonderful. I'll have to look up what a Vignette is, I presume its a some sort of travel pass. In the two trip's I've taken to Europe, every border crossing was by air except Switzerland into Lichtenstein (which barely seems like a border). Thank you for explaining this to me.
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Old 10.12.2017, 21:35
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

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Safety or border crossings won't be an issue, but I think your loop might be a bit large. I think you may end up spending half of your two weeks behind the wheel.

The whole area is nice, but you might want to shorten your loop a bit to give yourself some more "dawdle" time.
Thanks for the feedback. This started as Munich to ? as I could get a car in Munich cheaper than in CH, or Vienna. I had read good things about Slovenia and wanted to take in some more of Eastern Europe. Between now and May I may alter things a bit as you suggest.
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Old 10.12.2017, 21:40
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

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Agreed, unless this is how the OP likes to travel. My husband and I took two weeks to ride our motorcycles down to Mostar, B&H. For us, half of the point of the trip to was to ride on interesting roads and watch the countryside unfold before us. But we allocated enough time to arrive in a town mid-afternoon, enjoy a stroll through the streets, have a pleasant dinner and night's sleep and then start of on a new destination the next morning. For us, a few hours in some of the towns we were in was plenty of time.


And as the OP is from the US, he probably does not have a lot of opportunities to visit Europe and would prefer to see more, but not as intensely rather than see less, but more in-depth
You describe me well, much like in the US a small town is great to explore but is not the sort of place you need to spend many days in to enjoy.

I take a similar view as you describe, if I am going to come I want to see as much as possible in the allotted time. If I could snap my fingers I would prefer to take a slower approach but cost and travel factors "are what they are" so to speak. Dublin IE or Shannon IE, are probably the only destinations I would go for a short time (i.e. 4 day weekend) due to their proximity to the US and native English speaking population.
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Old 10.12.2017, 21:48
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

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Thanks for the feedback. This started as Munich to ? as I could get a car in Munich cheaper than in CH, or Vienna. I had read good things about Slovenia and wanted to take in some more of Eastern Europe. Between now and May I may alter things a bit as you suggest.
I've done Munich - Slovenia a few times - once including a detour driving a van towing a trailer across an Alpine pass due to a tunnel fire.

The whole trip seems pretty doable to me and sounds a great itinerary.

Keeping flexible might be a good idea in case you do end up driving too much and want a break - which may be tricky if you pre-book accommodation.
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Old 10.12.2017, 21:52
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

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Slovenia is beautiful and safe. You don't have to worry about it being stolen there more than anywhere else on your route
That's good to hear. Growing up in the US I encountered Eastern European immigrants who told stories about the time after the fall of the Berlin Wall and some of the crime which occurred. I'd hate to be stranded in a foreign country, although I would just deal with whatever happened as best I could.

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Slovenia and Austria offer a 7 (or 10?) day highway vignettes. Switzerland comes only yearly (40CHF) and Italy does not need one. If you're just cutting through the corner of Switzerland and your car does not already have a Swiss vignette, it might be worth it just to avoid to the motorway. It will be more enjoyable anyway, off the main roads
I like that idea, I'll just have to bring a good map and my Swisscom SIM for when I get lost.

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What do you mean by "safe"? The only think that comes to mind is road conditions and while there will still be snow in the mountains, nothing should keep you from enjoying your trip.

American passport and a friendly smile and you'll be fine at the borders
The last time I was in the general Alps region it was June 11. I read snow can still cover roads as late as April or May, I'd hate to be long down an empty road and be unable to pass it in a rented sedan.
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Old 10.12.2017, 22:04
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

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Brief digression: On my "list of requirements for anyone mad enough to apply for the position of significant other" would be the ability to read Michelin maps and the willingness to do daft stuff like agree to head for the general direction of a seaside town but arrive there using as many of the green, scenic roads marked on the map as possible/ makes sense. The journey would be the holiday, so to speak.

My satnav is unfortunately not smart enough to include a "lengthen journey time by a maximum of x hours in favour of scenic roads" option (is there such a thing? If yes, which one does this? If not, can someone please make one?) so map-reading it is. As for the suggested journey, depends if you are happy to spend the majority of it driving. For me, that is no issue, but if you want more time to discover places, you may benefit from making your loop a bit tighter, as others have suggested.
Ha. My father taught me how to read maps when I was 10, here today it seems the basic ability to interpret a map is a lost art. I agree in that heading in a general direction but taking the most scenic route possible is the best method unless one is on a time crunch.

I don't know of an application which does as you suggest, but I imagine if one could develop in Swift or Java he could write something which interacted with Maps software to generate the longest or most interesting routes possible. I am a programmer but have never attempted mobile development.

I also could probably extend the trip from two weeks if necessary, my company allows for generous vacation with the caveat being I'm a supervisor and they only really want you out of the office for so long at a time.
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Old 10.12.2017, 22:05
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

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Too bad I am already married. We are kindred spirits.
Have a sister?

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My motto is "Nothing cool ever happens on the autoroute".
Wise words.
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Old 10.12.2017, 22:08
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

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Get one for motorcycles, they have a twisty and curvy road option which in many cases are also scenic drives

For the trip itstself I once did in less than two weeks Vienna and back including Salzburg, Hallstadt, Salt mine Altausee, Stift Wilhering, a danube cruise, Stift Melk, Neusiedlersee, a short trip through Hungary, Europes biggest Oaktree, Bad Blumau, Steirische Weinstrasse (which is literally on the Slowenian/Austrian border), Soca Valley. Planned was also Großglockner-Hochalpenstraße but because of some unfortunate events which have nothint to do with safety could not be done. Oh, it was Fall which made some of those part thanks to Heuriger/Federweise really enjozable https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federweisser (Good if you are two people )
Thanks for some ideas on locations to see. Bled was already on my mind but I'll be looking up these other places.
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Old 10.12.2017, 22:19
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

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ride our motorcycle
Umm, those are BMWs, not motorcycles.

Tom
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Old 10.12.2017, 22:22
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Re: Planning a driving trip through Central Europe

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Do I have to worry about the car being stolen in Slovenia?
Greg
No.
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Old 10.12.2017, 22:24
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No.
Thanks.
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