Published: July 25th 2012July 25th 2012
Ten weeks, 13,784 kilometers and 17 Countries later we returned the van on Friday. We were both very upset to be saying goodbye, as it has been an amazing adventure and probably the only time we will be free to travel for that long without any plans. The van definitely had its fair share of problems (we had to get a few jump and push starts over the last couple of weeks) but that didn't manage to deter away from the great time we had in Europe. Europe is definitely set up for camping, and it was such an easy way to get around. Surprisingly the Dutch were always the most common nationality to see at a campsite- generally making up around 60% of the population.
In our last week in the van we headed to Bohemian Switzerland National Park in the Northern part of the Czech Republic- nothing to do with Switzerland, but the name came from some Swiss artists who settled in the region. The Park is spread out over a large area with many walking trails and includes a gorge and Europes highest natural forming arch- Pravcicka Brana. The first afternoon we decided to go for a
quick bike ride to another small town 2Ks away. Once arriving we saw we could walk down to the gorge so decided to do that and the proceeded to walk 3Ks to an area where you could go for a boat ride. It was 17.15 and we thought the boat was a return trip. Little did we know it was about to poor down with rain and the trip was one way. We had no rain gear with us and Michael didnt even have a jumper so once we got wet we were freezing (temperature was about 12degress). When the boat got to the other part of the gorge we found out that that end shut at 17.30 so we couldn't turn around. We had no choice but to walk a further 2Ks out of the gorge to the main street and we were now 10ks away from home and soaking wet still. As we were standing on the side of the road our campsite receptionist randomly was driving past and took pitty on us, giving us a ride back to the campsite. We then of course had to walk the 2K to where our bikes were and ride them
home. So much for a quick bike ride!
The next day turned out to be thankfully drier and we went for a 17K walk to some of the sights in the park- including the Pravcicka Brana which was really pretty with impressive views of the surrounding area. We also went back to the gorge and enjoyed another boat ride while we were dry. The whole area was teaming with Germans as the boarder was about ten minutes away so there was pretty much no English anywhere (hence why we didn't know the boat trip wasn't return). Switzerland Bohemia is definitely very pretty and lovely to walk around, especially with the cooler climate.
Prague was our next stop and I was a bit worried as it is always talked up a lot. Thankfully the city didn't disappoint, with such a beautiful old town square it is obvious why so many people count Prague as one of their favourite destinations. We met up with a few friends who were also traveling around Europe that we hadn't seen for two years so we didn't really do much tourist things except visit the castle, which has the largest castle area in the
world- 18 acres.
Next it was sadly making our way back to The Netherlands. We stopped off at Hann Munden in Germany which turned out to be a beautiful little hidden gem, and then we spent the night on the boarder of Germany and The Netherlands and cleaned out the van.Once we dropped off the van we spent a weekend in Amsterdam with 11 friends who met up with us from their European travels and the UK. We were blessed with the best weather the city had had in months and didn't see a drop of rain in three days. Amsterdam has always been one of my favourite places- such a nice area to wander around and in our opinion one of the prettiest cities in Europe. This time around we all hired local bikes and wreaked havoc on the streets of Amsterdam, including a three seater quad push bike fitted with a disabled chair for a friend who had done her knee- taking up both lanes on the bike ways.
We didn’t regret anywhere we visited during the ten weeks in the van but some places have left more of an impression than others. If forced to
pick our three favourtie places they would be:
Beautiful scenery, a very livable lifestyle and easy to escape the crowds.
2) Wroclaw, Poland:
One of the prettiest old towns in Europe's, affordable and tourist free.
3) Munich, Germany:
A city that comes alive when the sun shines and reminded us of London with everyone out and about at the park.
Honorable mentions: Krakow, Poland;Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic; Granada, Spain; Llanes, Spain; Porto, Portugal; Eger, Hungary; Breb, Romania.
We have spent the last few days in Bruges, Belgium where we have been busy organising all our things for Africa. We lucked out as the hotel made a mistake with our booking so we are now in a huge 8 person apartment, so plenty of room for us to spread out with our packing. Bruges is very pretty and once again has a pretty old square.We are off to Africa tomorrow- Kenya to Cape Town for two months. Although of course we are excited we are also sad to be leaving Europe, where we have had such a great time. We will be sending our laptop home so I'm not sure how
often we will get to blog from Africa and if we do there might not be any photos. Otherwise I will do all our blogs once we get home at the end of September.
There are more photos below