For the past 13 years I have spent my birthday (June 14th) in a different country (except once) and it has become a birthday tradition. I have celebrated in China, Turkmenistan, Egypt, Canada, Holland, Namibia, Mauritius, Cape Verde, France, Peru and last year I did a “Birthday Blitz Road Trip” driving through five countries in one day; The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, France and Belgium. I never thought one year ago when we took off on that trip with Jess (good friend and fellow author), Mom and Anita (sister-in-law) that I would be seven months pregnant taking another great road trip. We’re just missing Jess who is now living in LA after six years in The Netherlands.
This year for my 27th birthday, Mom, Anita and I embarked on a 8-Country, 8-Day Road Trip through The Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy, hitting four new capital cities! (Once again, this idea popped up and was planned within a week of departure! True Savannah-style travel.)
Our departing and final destination country.
A fabulous country for both tourists and residents and one each of us has been to so many times we couldn’t count. Germany is one of the main doorways to Europe from our corner in The Netherlands. When considering road trips, Germany has the best toilets (the kind where the toilet seats automatically rotate and self clean!) and you at least feel you’re getting your money’s worth when you pay your 50-70cents. We passed through on our way to Czech Republic and also on our way home, crossing in from Austria, we stopped at the famous Disney inspired castle Neuschwanstein (yes! Finally after this trip I can actually spell it). We stayed one night in the countryside and another night in Ulm where we, through lack of preparation, realized in the last moment that it is home to the world’s TALLEST church, the fourth tallest building before the 20th century, its steeple towering into the sky at a whopping 161.5 metres (530 ft).
A stop in Prague the second time for all each of us. It is always strange and exciting to return to a place years later. The last time Mom and I were in Prague was in 2006 when I was just 16 years old and my best friend Terri had just joined us on our world tour for the summer. We spent the first night of our trip just an hour outside of Prague at the stunning Castle-like Chateau Heralec where we were greeted like princesses with a freshly picked rose for each of us and a glass of champagne. The royal treatment continued throughout our stay as we were served exquisite foods, home-made and fresh from the property’s gardens or surrounding farms.
Despite many road trips that took us through Austria, this was the first trip that brought us to the famous capital, Vienna. My love for opera has always left me yearning to visit Vienna’s opera house. Considering it was such last minute and I’d only had a few days to plan this trip before departing, we were lucky to get standing tickets to Swan Lake. Thanks to the tourism board sponsoring our visit we got a good literal taste of Vienna. Ice cream, sausage with mustard, Manner Original Neapolitaner wafers, the real sacha torte at Hotel Sacha and true wiener schnitzel for dinner at Lugeck made a culinary tour complete for our short stay in Vienna. The next morning we visited the very interesting Schönbrunn Palace.
A great stop and highlight of our trip was Budapest where I spent my birthday. We had a perfect central location at Estilo Hotel right on Vaci Street and just a minute walk to the nearest Hop on Hop Off Bus which we used to explore the entire city! A perfect (if not boiling!) day. So many gorgeous sites, don’t be stupid like us, please take more than a day or two to see this underrated capital city!
It seems this was another trip of capital cities as we stopped in Ljubljana, our fifth capital city of the trip. Slovenia stole my heart the first time I passed through on a road trip to Italy years ago. The gorgeous mountainous scenery is breathtaking and so unexpected. I am thrilled to have had the chance to experience more of this beautiful country. We stayed in a family farm the first night and enjoyed Momma’s home-cooked meals, stopped in Ljubljana (yes! Another impossible name I can spell after this trip), our second night we spent in Bled in a luxurious Wellness Golf Hotel, and ate a gourmet meal with a 5-star view of the lake from Bled Castle Restaurant . I really encourage you to include a dinner date here when visiting Bled! On our way out of town we drove through the spectacular Triglav National Park where I was mesmerized staring out the car window.
Since all of these countries are ones I have already had the pleasure of visiting on numerous other occasions, and thus can’t add any to my country count, instead I get to start counting baby countries. After this trip the toll is a whopping 10 countries for the baby bump! I can’t wait to explore the world with our little one and show him all the wonders it has to offer.
PS. Stay tuned for the full stories and more photos of our time in each country.
Categories: Savannah Grace