Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Great European Road Trip of 2010: Part One

Editor’s Note: I will be putting up a slideshow with lots more pictures than what will be in these updates. I’ll let you know when it’s there for those that want more! (or less in the way of words, I suppose :)

We arose bright and early on Wednesday, August 4th. Sleepy from a late night, anticipating a long day of driving, but knowing that Vienna was waiting kept us chipper and ready for action. We got off a bit late, but we got everything in order with our car rental and barely managed to squish everything in.

This was my space in the backseat with Aed. It was not easy to get in and out of that car! I sat Indian-style for about 30 hours straight.. it took my knees a few days to recover! Even being that squished, as our trip went on we found that we had packed almost nothing that we didn’t end up using, so we will just blame the lack of space on the size of the car rather than our over-packing :)

Aed was ready for a nap with his sleep blanky..

and Ian was all set up with the Garmin that we borrowed from the Bawulskis.

European Road Trip Tip #1: You MUST have a navigation device. We would have given up as soon as we hit the continent if it weren’t for that little piece of machinery. The cities are confusing as anything, there’s always traffic no matter what time you are driving necessitating quick decision-making, and summertime travel means never ending roadworks which is not only confusing, but would be so, so hard to deal with if you only had a map. Driving in Europe is just really nothing at all like road tripping in the States, as you will continue to learn.

Our drive down the UK went swimmingly. Aed was doing wonderfully and we were making excellent time, scheduled to arrive in Dover for our ferry with plenty of time to spare. Then came London. We did go around London, but no matter which way we planned, we were bound to hit the outskirts of the city sometime within rush hour. We knew it was inevitable, but we were hopeful we’d get through in time.

Alas, it was not meant to be. Our first glimpse of water was too many minutes too late.

Uh oh, says Aed

But we were excited to have made it, so I started snapping pictures anyway.

We drove passed some of the docking areas for these enormous vessels, and Ian got his first tastes of the white cliffs.

We had to wait for the next ferry, which wouldn’t put us into Calais until after midnight.. Oh dear. Oh well.. we knew this was possible.. we’d just have to roll with it.

Aed was a trooper! We got him all ready for bed before we got on the ferry in hopes that he would get nice and sleepy for the late, late car ride to our hotel in Brussels. But, well, sleepy not-so-much.

Too many lights, too many people, too many new things to see for our curious little explorer. He took walks with Daddy and found all kinds of new things to touch and try to eat..

And when that got boring, he found the seats made for wonderful drums!

The car ride to Brussels was not exactly peaceful. It took Aed a while to settle down to sleep, and once he finally did, Daddy let out a sneeze to high heavens and woke him up. He did not sleep again on the rest of the journey to the hotel.

I wish I could say that we got to the hotel and snuggled in for some peaceful slumber. We arrived around 3am after attempting to navigate the insanity that is Brussels.

ERT Tip #2: Do not try to drive in Brussels at any time of day. Just don’t. It is not worth it.

We got there and found they had no baby bed. We brought our pop up tent with us, so that was ok, but we weren’t really sure if Aed would sleep well in it. After so little sleep and such a disrupted day and night, he was not happy about the arrangement at all. We tried everything we could think of just short of letting him wake up the whole hotel, but he would not settle.

After some (very) serious debate in our sleepy stupors about whether we should hunker down and keep trying to sleep, keep driving, or just turn around altogether, we just decided to keep driving. We knew this was a ridiculous idea, but we also knew Aed would sleep in the car, and we weren’t accomplishing anything by no one sleeping in the hotel.

So, back to the car we went. We gladly kissed Brussels goodbye and moved on with our lives.

We were tired. But, Aed was sleeping and we were still making progress.

Around 10am Ian hit a wall. He didn’t think he could drive safely any longer. We stopped at a hotel to ask if we could have a room for just a few hours to take a nap. That nap was going to cost us 70 Euro so, after more debate, we moved on.

We had planned to stop in Mainz, Germany to see Luke Tallon’s sister and baby, so we gave her a quick call and learned that we were welcome to crash there. Only 1.5 more hours.. We could do it!

We made it safely, got a few Z’s, and hit the road again. It was still a long haul to Vienna!

On our way we had planned to stop in Worms and Nuremberg. We ended up foregoing Nuremberg for the sake of time, but stopped in Worms to see the Luther monument there. It was a gorgeous day, and a really nice monument.

I was, once again, disappointed that Luther is not as handsome as the man that plays him in the movie.. He was surrounded by many other people who had been involved in the Reformation, and they were perched on pedestals flanked by short columns naming important cities.

As we wandered through the area, we found another beautiful monument that we believe was a war memorial.

It was a gorgeous stroll and a good area for Aed to play.. in the grass and the fountain :)

As we continued on our way and out of the city, we passed the bridge that Worms is well known for, and I just barely caught a photo through the window!

About two hours outside of Vienna, we just couldn’t do it any more. Even sour gummies couldn’t fight off this fatigue! As much as we really (really) didn’t want to, we had to stop for the night. We were so exhausted.

ERT Tip #3: Consider having more than one driver. Since my license is expired and I don’t know how to drive a manual, the only way I could help was by staying awake in solidarity. I think the whole journey would have been much easier if we could have shared the driving. Though, Ian is a much better driver than I am! He’s been to racing school, you know :)

So (yay Garmin!) we found a hotel and slept the night away. It was fairly expensive, but the beds were soft, Aed slept, and we were welcomed with an amazing breakfast the next morning. We were so glad we had stopped. Aed enjoyed a wide assortment of fruit and a ton of eggs, and we enjoyed watching him flirt with the waitresses :)

Finally, finally, one day late we made it to Vienna! All we did that first day was get ourselves settled in and we made a grocery run. We were pooped and I could barely walk (remember Indian-syle??) so we decided to wait til tomorrow before taking on the city. To bed we went…


  1. Wow - this post was quite the hook! I am now hanging on your every word.

  2. You guys are CRAZY. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this post, and I look forward to hearing about the rest of your adventures!

  3. You guys are CRAZY. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this post, and I look forward to hearing about the rest of your adventures!