How often do you go on a road trip in winter just for fun? You should challenge yourself to go on adventures that sometimes don't make sense to the people around you - before this journey everyone had shivered at the thought of driving around in the snow in January without a functioning heater. What I learned is that it is way easier than you think...as long as you have the funds to do it.
I left Hamburg on the 26th of January and was headed for Flachau, a small ski valley tucked in the mountains just south of Salzburg. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it all the way since I hadn't been driving much in the time that I lived in Germany I wasn't very confident in my ability to stay focused on the road for so long.
On the first leg to Leipzig I had two passengers that I hosted over Blablacar and it was fun being in good company for a couple of hours. I got used to the feeling of the bus and how it maneuvered on the road and after arriving at Leipzig central station in good time I decided to rest for a bit and press on to Munich, were I was awaited by my friend Sara's later that day.
The second leg was slightly more strenuous since I was alone but I put on some good music and listened to a good audio book which made the time fly by.
Arriving in Munich I was starting to get hungry and fortunately Sarah had home made Pizza in the oven which I gratefully accepted.
Sarah and her husband Jochen also donated an old heating blanket which I couldn't refuse since I was thinking of buying one just for the trip.
You see, the bus I hired wasn't built for winter trips as it wasn't properly insulated and didn't come with a heater.
After supper I decided to press on and wanted to reach Flachau before the end of the day. It had been a long day of driving but I felt energetic enough to reach my goal. A couple of hours later I arrived in Flachau and was welcomed by Tamara, who was joining me to do the road trip.
Although I wouldn't have minded spending the first night in the bus I opted to sleep inside Tamara's hotel room, where I ended up staying for the entire stay there.
The next couple of days we spent skiing around the slopes and enjoyed some breath taking views of snow covered mountain tops. I hadn't been skiing for many years but got used to the feeling fairly quickly and on the second and third days I started having a lot of fun. On the last day we managed to catch a para glider take off and it was a magnificent moment to behold as he took off for the skies.
On Thursday the 30th we enjoyed one more skiing session and packed our things to head down south.
Our first stop was Klagenfurt, only a hop skip and a jump away from Flachau, Here we spent the night parked in the city next to an open field and it was surprisingly quiet. It was the first night inside the bus and the heating blanket worked remarkably well and lasted throughout the whole night!
In the morning we tried out the little gas stove by heating up some good ol' HEINZ baked beans.
We left Klagenfurt and crossed the Alps into Slovenia, where we headed into Ljubljana to meet my gaming buddy Tim, who I met while playing Fortnite. Tim showed us around the city and it was great putting a face to the name of someone you knew online over a game. We had a fun day out, eating traditional Slovenian food, which wasn't very vegetarian friendly.
Tim's family was very forthcoming and gave us some tips on where to go in Slovenia this time of the year- luckily it wasn't tourist season!
The next day we headed down to a coastal city called Portoroz which is one of the last cities of Slovenia before the Croatian border. It was a lot warmer here and there was an international film festival happening in Piran, a small fishing town a couple of miles away, that I wanted to attend.
In the evening we took a shuttle bus into the town because the town was closed off for private vehicles and sat through several Slovenian speeches that were held before the actual movie and then the film itself was a Drama in Italian which we couldn't understand! Over the app Park4Night we found a quiet spot down by the water next to some old fishing boats to spend the night.
As Portoroz wasn't very interesting to spend more time in, we headed back up north towards the town Bled and along the way we stopped at Predjama castle - an old castle that was built into a cliff! In Bled we booked ourselves into a hostel for the night to warm up and shower as we had spent a couple of nights living inside the bus and wanted a freshen-up. From there we headed into Triglav National Park to visit the Bohinj lake and the waterfall Savica. The waterfall was unfortunately very dry - to be expected in winter :D
We dipped once into Italy to spend a night next to another lake and on the way back we came through an old mining town with an abandoned factory that has been vacant for over 30 years! I snuck up into the building to experience the atmosphere and it was really spooky walking through it, wondering how it must have been like working here in the 20th century. I took some photos while I had the chance and I really wanted to grab my field recorder to record some of the interesting sounds that this place was making but unfortunately it was very cold and we decided to drive on.
The last stop we made before heading back to Austria was at the turquoise green volcanic pools at Zelenci nature reserve. The colour of the water was stunning and we had some lovely sunshine while we walked along the beautiful forest path - stock footage material right there! Our last night we spent parked just after lake Jasna, where I had the once in a life time opportunity to ride the statue of a goat!
On the 5th of February our trip in Slovenia took an end and we headed back into Austria where we picked up my watch that I had forgot in Klagenfurt, back when we invited ourselves in to shower at a friend's family home.
We drove up towards Vienna and made one more pit stop in Graz to visit the famous clock tower only to find that we got our very first parking ticket for parking inside the city without paying! Maybe a little Karma for all those times we did not want to pay for camp site parking :D
Altogether we drove about 3600 km from Hamburg to Austria and Slovenia, heading back up through Czech Republic and stopping over in Prague to visit the folks at Amanita before coming back into Germany. It was a lot of driving but it was fun and we came back without any scratches, speeding fines or accidents! I am a little bummed that I was only able to record some ice cracking in Italy and nothing more but I got familiar with my new Fuji camera and managed to snag a couple of cool shots.
Next up will hopefully be Portugal!