One of the best compliments that one can receive as a writer is to be told that one’s books have influenced readers to go out and do something that they may not have otherwise done – unless, of course, you’re Stephen King. If you’re Stephen King then this can too easily snowball into quite a tricky lawsuit. If you’re me, however, then it’s all perfectly great.

So, it was lovely to receive a message from Zoe Thomas (who, incidently, is from my home town in Wales) that THE SAT NAV DIARIES series inspired her and her husband, Richard, to take their own road trip across Europe this summer. (Ironically, their trip has inspired me to start planning my next one.)

Zoe and Richard are both artists and teachers. Here, in their own words, are the highlights of their trip, together with what they learned from their experience . . .

– Adrian Sturrock


Rich and I are fortunate to enjoy one another’s company and have the whole school holidays off together. We met whilst training to be art teachers in 2008 and share a love of art, architecture and a tipple or two. We started planning this trip a year ago, inspired by Sat Nav Diaries and an unrealised teenage dream to go inter-railing across Europe. At 48 and 53, we decided to do our trip our way, in the comfort of our car, staying in hotels and definitely not youth hostels! 

I should probably add some context and share that I have happily married parents and two sisters who also love travel and adventure. My parents began their sailing adventures in 1999. Retiring early, they set off for the Mediterranean where they spent seventeen years living the life of ‘Yachties’. Six years ago, my youngest sister and her husband took over the boat and have been seasonally sailing ever since, spending up to nine months of the year in Greece.

At the same time as our European trip, they were on the boat, my parents were in their motor home touring France, Spain and Portugal and my middle sister and her family were in their motor home travelling through France and the Italian Alps. Needless to say, adventure and travelling is definitely part of my makeup.

The plan was to drive our 10-year-old, now knackered, Nissan Qashqai to Greece to spend time sailing and visit the places we’ve always dreamed of, both on the way down and the way back. In order to afford this, we managed to say ‘no’ to many -but not all – of the usual invites, nights out and extras for a year and squirrelled all of our spare pennies in order to save enough to cover 42 nights in Europe. Armed with a giant map, a rough route, a tank full of diesel and credit card, we booked a return ferry from Dover to Dunkirk, a hotel in Luxembourg, a ferry and cabin from Ancona, Italy, to Patras, Greece and set off as soon as school broke up for the summer. 

Instead of taking our very own Bernice (the name given to Adrian Sturrock’s sat nav in The Sat Nav Diaries books), and being it is my mother-in-law’s name, we relied heavily on Google Maps on our phones. Not only does it show the way, with alternative routes when needed, but it also gave us speed limits, congestion info, tolls and heads-ups on speed cameras. 


After an overnight stop in Maidstone with my aunty, we made our way to Dover expecting queue upon queue as seen on the news. We arrived at 3am for our 8am crossing. There were three cars in front of us and we even got put on an earlier ferry. Taking us to Calais instead of Dunkirk didn’t matter, it just added around half an hour to our drive time. At this point, I had all the energy in the world and didn’t mind at all; we were on our way and heading for our first stop in Luxembourg.

Things we loved:

* FREE easy to use buses and trains
* Cafe/bar culture 
* Generous vodka measures
* Diesel prices – £1.45 per litre 
* Friendly people
* Mayonnaise assumed with everything 
* Decent local draft beer
* Beautiful architecture and history
* Condensed city with old and new
* Clean and safe
* The temperature 
* Rock bar

Things we didn’t love:

* As with most of Europe, a lot of the tourist sights are closed on Sundays 
* If you eat in the main square, it’s very expensive. Three drinks and a salad
each ended up costing £127. Lesson learned

During the evening we had a look at the map, having already kind of decided we were going to head to Friedrichshafen in Germany the next day, and opened up the app to find a hotel. Our only filters for a hotel were that had to have parking and the pictures looked nice. 

First time in Germany for us both and we’ve loved it so much that we’ll definitely be coming back. 

These are a few of our favourite things:

* The drive down through the Black Forest was STUNNING. Everywhere you look is a ‘view’. 
* Friedrichshafen is on Lake Constance with views of the Swiss Alps and Lichtenstein 
* We felt safe, everywhere. People would just leave their belongings to go to the toilet, ice cream shop etc. and no one batted an eyelid. 
* The Zeppelin museum and seeing an actual airship in flight. If you have a spare €265 per person then you can even have a 30-minute ride in one. 
* Kids as young as 6 or 7, out on their own, going about their own happy business, minus any adult supervision. 
* Cheese. 
* When the menu comes with a QR code for the English version. Danke sehr. 
* Cheaper than Luxembourg for everything, except fuel, literally everything has been a reasonable, comparable price with home or less. 
* Excellent draft beer, in metric measures!  
* Pina coladas   
* Friendly, easy going people   
* Clean public toilets everywhere, even the services were spotless. 
* FAST, well-kept roads 🚘💨   
* Rich has had the ‘best coffee in the world ever!’

Not so favourite things:

* We didn’t manage to have a swim in the lake. 
* The hotel listed parking, but it did not. It was pay by minute on the street at 1 cent per minute

When looking where to go next, we decided to add ‘pool’ to our search and see a bit more of the alps having loved the scenery so much on the drive here.

Levico Terme, in the Italian Alps, near Trento.

Things we loved:

* All of the people who took a role in rescuing us from breaking down on the motorway, from the litter picker who stopped to see if we were ok and got an English speaking friend on the phone to send a recovery truck, to the mechanic and folk at the Nissan dealership who fixed the problem for a fraction of the original estimate. 
* Google Translate. 
* Pizza and wine. 
* Pool and chill out time. 
* The scenery, we were surrounded by mountains. 
* Dancing in the rain

Things we didn’t love:

* No air conditioning in the hotel. 
* Hills. Who’d have thought there’d be hills in the Alps!?  
* Not having the breakdown cover that I thought we had and having to pay out for the recovery and work   
* Learning after we left that it’s famous for thermal spas, which we missed entirely

For our next stop we were set on going to Venice, but then when we looked at hotels and reviews about how hot and busy it is in August, plus it was quite far east of where we were and not exactly accessible in the car, we decided we’d save it for another time. Verona got the final vote, tempted by Juliet’s balcony, ice-cream and the short drive, off we went. 

Things we loved:

* Car much happier. 
* Ice cream. 
* Architecture, a wonderful mix of old and ancient. 
* Small, so easy to walk around. 
* Very reasonably priced food and drink
* Record shop for Rich. 
* Again, really friendly people. 
* Wine. 
* Lots of pretty balconies

Things we didn’t love:

* We did try to go to Juliet’s balcony but the queue was at least 2 hrs in 34̊ C  heat, so I took a photo from a distance instead. 
* My limited experience of Italian drivers was that there are many who do not play by the rules and can be quite aggressive and entitled

Next, we wanted to go to both Bologna and Florence and had time to do both before our ferry to Greece.

It made sense distance wise, to go to Bologna first, so we booked into a recommended hotel, which was close to the motorway, and spotless.

Things we’ve loved:

* 39̊ C in the shade. 
* The sights and the general feel of the city. Everywhere you look there’s something interesting or beautiful to see. 
* Randomly bumping into Rich’s friend, Dave Allen in a backstreet, twice, and going to an outdoor gig for the evening with him and his friends. 
* The food, unquestionably, was the best so far. 
* The Curiosity trail, including the whispering corners, hanging posts and ancient measuring ‘perch’ embedded in the wall as standard measures. 
* Complimentary snacks with drinks in Italy, often hot. This has saved us spending on at least 3 meals so far, becoming affectionately known as ‘ginner’. 
* The bus is the same price however many stops you go. €1.50… even if you stay on it missing your stop and go round the route again. 
* San Pietro Basilica was cool, quiet and peaceful at 5pm when we went, and for one euro you can have a snazzy shawl to cover your shoulders. Also boasts the longest Meridian line and sun dial in the world, 67m, created in 1656. 
* Cafe bars and bistros down every alley. 
* A standard drink is a double double. We didn’t know this when we asked for a double and the barman confidently tipped in FOUR doubles into each of our glasses!

Things we didn’t like:

* The taxis were unreliable. Between the five of us, we must’ve booked at least five different ones to collect us from the gig at 12:15am and not one of them turned up.

Onwards to Florence. This was always a MUST on our list of places to go. We’d managed the heat in Verona and Bologna and it was clear that it was going to be even hotter in Florence, so we included a pool in our hotel search so we could at least cool down at the end of our sightseeing. 

Things we’ve loved:

* The swish hotel and pool, definitely a highlight and so lush to have a whole day spent there, especially as Rich made friends with the barman who gave us a few free gins!  
* Easy to use buses, cheap too. €1.50 for any trip. 
* Uffizi gallery. Crowded, but wow!   
* The best meal I’ve had, though forgot to take a photo of the main course as I was too busy enjoying. 
* Beauty and art and culture everywhere you look, (though the busiest place we’ve been to date). 
* Did I mention the food? Gorgonzola and walnut gnocchi, vegetarian carbonara, stuffed courgette flowers, butternut squash tortellini with porcini and truffle oil sauce, cheese and so much more!   
* Interactive Leonardo da Vinci museum where they’ve made loads of his sketches come to life, including a corkscrew type helicopter and very early bike, and you could play with them all. Great fun!

Things we didn’t love:

* It was so busy everywhere. People, cars, bikes, you really had to have eyes everywhere. 
* The stairs and the coughers in the Uffizi

The hotel was the best hotel we’ve ever stayed in. EVER. It was 4*, so a bit more expensive than the 3* ones we’d stayed in so far on our journey, but wow, it was worth every penny.

Next we had to get to Ancona to catch the ferry to Patras.

Things we loved:

* I don’t know how, but we managed to have been allocated a massive cabin. No complaints from me. It’s right at the front, with TWO portholes, air con and our own reasonably sized bathroom. Telly, fridge, table and chairs. We knew we’d need a cabin as it was a 23-hour crossing, including overnight, but I had no idea it would be so big when I was booking it. 
* The much needed sea breeze on deck. 
* Our first Mythos and Fix beers. 
* Managed to see both sunset and sunrise   
* We’ve travelled 500 miles without having to drive a single one. 
* Once we get ashore, we were just one car journey away from ‘Just Maid’, the boat, and Sam & Graeme!

Things we didn’t love:

* No shop or duty free

After quite an adventure driving over the mountains in Greece – and by mountains, I mean up high and snake-like turns, with some drivers getting impatient with me for driving at a safe speed – we arrived at ‘Just Maid’ in Portochelli, to spend a week or so, with Sam & Graeme sailing, swimming and anchoring.

Things we loved:

* Spending our time on the boat with my sister and brother-in-law Sam and Graeme was been lush as always. 
* Catching up on my reading list. 
* Eating lots of pasta. 
* Swimming in the turquoise sea and topping up our tans. 
* Getting to do some laundry. 
* Celebrating Rich’s birthday on board and giving him the cards and presents that I’d manage to hide for the whole journey

Things we didn’t love:

* I tested positive for Covid, just two days after arriving, most likely from the ferry or those coughers in the Uffizi. It was my first time getting it, and even though I am vaccinated, I was so ill that around five days of the time on the boat is just a blur. I kept telling myself that there are worst places to isolate than a yacht in Greece.  
* Not being able to spend much time ashore or see anyone else as we made the decision to isolate

Miraculously, in a 40ft space, all 3 of them avoided catching it, which may or may not be down to putting me on a lilo tied off the back of the boat when at anchor! We stayed longer than we intended, but it was necessary to rest and get some quality sister time in.

Our next leg was totally open. We considered Meteora, Thessaloniki, the Bulgarian coast but eventually settled on Neoi Poroi, affectionately called Oi Poloi by us. Somewhere in northern Greece. 6hrs and 45mins drive from the boat and a sad farewell to Sam & Graeme, we checked into a spa hotel with a pool. 

Things we loved:

* The motorways are pretty straightforward in Greece, long with varying degrees of maintenance. 
* Hotel was practically on the beach. 
* A massage for just €18

Things we didn’t love:

* Tolls, upon tolls. 
* Greek drivers aren’t entitled, they’re just not very good at it

Next stop, Sofia, capital of Bulgaria

Things we loved:

* The variety and measures of vodka. 
* St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. 
* The ethnographic museum. If you visit on Thursday then it’s just 2 Bulgarian Lev, about 80p. 
* Bulgarian art, a whole exhibition in earthy colours.  
* It really is a massive city, with everything anyone could want in a trip. 
* They do love their sweets and cakes here, the cheesecake was sublime. 
* It’s very inexpensive. We taxied everywhere after MORE car issues and never once paid over £6 and that was for a 30 min journey. Though I spent most of the journeys with my eyes closed as the drivers are absolutely mental!  
* The average we paid for a meal for two, with drinks was around £12 total, though I suspect it’s even cheaper outside of the capital. 
* The best translation we heard was that there was a shop ‘verses’ the hotel, meaning opposite. 
* Hardly any tolls   
* The work that’s been done on the car here is half the price that it would’ve cost at home. 
* The pool was divine as it was around 38̊ C

Things we didn’t love:

* Another car debacle could be something to do with the state of the roads, they really are dreadful. Potholes, cracks, landslides, missing road surface or shiny and slippery making braking treacherous   
* We were lucky not to get stung by expensive or dodgy taxis as we were warned by a number of locals that there are some unscrupulous and unlicensed taxis there. 
* Bulgarian drivers are crazy and love using their horn

I need to find out if you are really only ever 5 miles from a Nissan dealership, as that’s how it’s worked out so far. We can’t fault the staff there either, so helpful and understanding, prioritising the job so that we could be on our way in just two days.

Vidin, Bulgaria near the border to Romania

Things we loved:

* Rich finally got to have omelette and chips. 
* No horse meat on the menu. This has featured more times than you’d think. 
* Friendly people. 
* So cheap! Our room was only €39, and that included breakfast, air conditioning, en-suite, it’s reasonably clean and had some fantastic Soviet inspired decor choices. 
* We could see both the Danube and Romania from our room   
* A handy place to stopover as it’s close to the border

Things we didn’t love:

* Vidin really is a sleepy town and to be honest, it’s quite poor and run down.   
* Sitting in the queue of traffic to get through the Romanian border for 2 hours and 40 minutes

At this point we knew we wanted to get to Hungary and Google Maps gave us three different routes. One was straight through Serbia, the next zig-zagged in and out of Serbia and Romania, then the final one was going through Romania. Even though it was the longest route, we felt safer opting for the route through Romania.

Things we loved:

* The scenery

Things we didn’t love:

* The roads were awful, and especially dangerous in the storm. 
* Taking just under 10 hours to reach Hungary. 
* Queueing for hours to get both in and out of Romania
* People selling everything in lay-bys and at the border, including their own bodies. 
* The only time on the trip when we didn’t feel safe

Szeged, Hungary

Things we loved:

* We arrived on a Hungarian holiday, so whilst the shops were closed, there were celebrations, street stalls and a party happening. That was handy! It was such a shame to see them all unexpectedly closed because of the rain on the second day after it was packed with locals the night we arrived
* They have olive oil with crushed garlic in as a dipping sauce 🤤to go with the hottest and freshest bread I’ve ever had. 
* It’s been a while, but we could actually put toilet paper down the toilet… this really did feel like a treat. 
* Inexpensive. We accidentally ended up having dinner in the main square and possibly the poshest part of town (again) but this time two courses and a beer each came to £17.26 total. Phew!  
* Votive Church of Szeged  
* Despite the rain, (we walked our sandals off) this has been one of my favourite places we’ve visited. Third largest city in Hungary and it just has a really lovely feel about the place, with happy people and spotless too, I’d happily live there. 
* Camembert with blueberry cream and veggie options including vegan meatballs

Things we didn’t love:

* It rained for nearly the entire time we were there, but that is no reflection on Szeged as a place.

Budapest, Hungary

It took only two hours to get there from Szeged, on pretty much one motorway, with a decent surface and drivers. This really did make a big difference. Whilst we were out seeing the sights of Szeged, we randomly bumped into our lovely host Zita, (we stayed in an apartment that time). Imagine our surprise when we bumped into her in Budapest too! We all laughed and she even joked that she’ll see us in the next city… 

Things we loved: 

* The history. The sights and footage that we saw at both the Jewish Synagogue and House of Terror were astonishing. It was important to see these things and hear from the descendants and also see interviews of the victims. Hungary is rich in history, more recent and traumatic than some may think. 
* Happy hour. 
* Szimpler Kert. A maze of bars and oddities. We had a great night here, making new best friends and tumbling out to a Vegan fast food place directly opposite. In fact, as vegetarians, this has been the city with the most options. You can literally get any kind of cuisine you can think of and at a reasonable price too. I think we paid on average around £15 for a meal for two with drinks. 
* The hop on/off bus was proper touristy and easy way to get our bearings in such a short time. It also came with lots of freebies and an evening boat trip. Even with this and the occasional tram, we still walked our socks off. 
* I visited ALL the spas in my last visit and Rich wasn’t fussed on going this time, so whilst we missed them this time, I would definitely recommend them for anyone who is planning a visit here. 
* The architecture. I took hundreds of photos as everywhere you look there is a beautiful building or facade or statue. It is a stunning place. We have loved it!

Things we didn’t love:

* Parking. As expected in a capital city. I should also note that there is a one-way system to get your head around.

Oh Vienna! 

Made friends with a band in the services en route because of Rich’s Poison Idea t-shirt. To be fair, it’s his t-shirts that have helped us make friends throughout this adventure. Accidentally went into Slovakia for around 10 minutes on the motorway.

Things we loved:

* A lovely local student gave us directions and confidence to find use the underground, it really has been incredibly easy to use public transport and one 24/48/72-hour ticket covers you for the trams, Metro and buses. 
* Vienna has history, art, architecture, culture and a wide variety of drinks on offer; all of our favourite things!   
* The Hundertwasser village and museum. For all the times we’ve both taught this artist, nothing compares with seeing the actual buildings, paintings and tapestries in real life. It was a privilege and a joy!  
* The Belvedere Palace and seeing Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Edvard Munch, Van Gogh, and Monet art works up close was amazing

Things we didn’t love:

* Vienna is an expensive city, so we thought we’d try to have a cheap dinner in an Australian bar, two drinks and a burger each was €60. Across the city, two coffees averaged €10 – €12 and a single measure of spirit with mixer around €8 – €10. Beer at about €4 – €6. 
* We were targeted by a pair of pickpockets as soon as we emerged into the central plaza from the Metro. Luckily we spotted them circling us and got away, but it did put us on guard for the rest of the trip.  
* Touts selling tickets for opera etc. were keen, as were the beggars there

We didn’t cover anywhere near the places and sights we would’ve liked with the little time we had there, especially the Schönbrunn Palace which would’ve taken a whole day alone, so a return trip is very much needed!


Though we’d planned to go to Munich, we decided to ditch another big city and go to Nuremberg instead and we’re so glad we did as it’s been one of the friendliest places we’ve been.

Things we loved:

* Handwerkerhof Nürnberg (Craft Yard in Nuremberg) Another stumbled upon delight of bars and cafes in the old quarter. 
* As it was pouring down when we arrived and the hotel bar and restaurant were closed, we drove onto the town on the lookout for a restaurant, found a traditional bar on the outskirts, made local new best friends who paid for our drinks when I realised our Euros were in my other purse! They also gave us a restaurant recommendation that did pizzas that were so big we took half of it back to the hotel, which saved on the €40 it would’ve cost for breakfast.  
* A cafe bar next to the record shop made for a happy pair of Thomases. Beer and all the cheese for me; Hardcore punk records for Rich. 
* Really easy to use Metro. Honestly, the Germans have got it sussed when it comes to efficiency, friendliness and cleanliness. Think we may be a little in love with this country, though I really do wish I knew even a little bit of German. 
* Albrecht Dürer Haus and exhibition. 
* St Lorenz Church. 
* Happy hour, again

Things we didn’t love:

* Hills. The first we’ve had to walk up since Italy

With just three nights left deliberated a lot about where to go next; Cologne, Lille, Ghent, Mons for two nights and then onto Bruges for one or push onto Bruges and chill out for the final three nights. We opted for the long drive to Bruges and a hotel with a pool for three nights.

F****n’ Bruges

Things we loved:

* EVERYTHING is within walking distance along beautiful cobbled streets. 
* A million different beers with varying strength and price, from around €3 – €8. 
* Quoting THAT film at any given opportunity. Saw lots of nooks, crannies and alcoves but alas no dwarves. 
* Art, architecture and booze. 
* A lot of vegetarian options and the best garlic mushrooms I’ve ever had and lush breakfasts in the town too. 
* The first British voices we’ve heard for a while sat next to us in a cafe bar and it turned out they were from Swansea!  
* The belfry, though we didn’t climb the 366 steps to the top. 
* There’s a torture museum, a record shop with tables and chairs and a bar outside, and a canal that you can pootle around on. 
* Chocolate, waffles and macarons. 
* We walked around a lot of cobbled backstreet and it was still beautiful and residential. Locals both live and work here and it definitely had that feel about the place. Chilled and safe and just bloody lovely. Actually, thinking about it, this is the first place we’ve been where there haven’t been any beggars, not one. 
* Saint Salvador Cathedral. 
* Dogs. There were so many to pet and fuss, it seemed like every other person was walking a dog. Heaven!   
* A well-earned rest in the hotel pool and spa

Things we didn’t love:

* Most places stop serving food at 9pm, some even 8pm, which doesn’t leave much time for that Mediterranean afternoon nap that we’ve become so fond of

+ + + + + + + +


Say yes. Someone invites you see a band, have a drink, go on their boat, meet their family, dance in the street, whatever, say yes to experiences that put you outside of your comfort zone. Obviously weigh up the risk a bit and use your common sense, but have the adventure because you are unlikely to be in that country or exact same situation ever again. Some of our best times have begun with those immortal words ‘F**k it’!

Accommodation. We mainly used as you earn stars as you go along which can be turned into free nights. Also, whilst it’s a bit of a faff, you can also use your Tesco Clubcard vouchers on there too. We have compared on and AirBnB, but only used them the once. The average we paid for a room on our trip was around €100 per night. It was much cheaper in Eastern Europe, around €30 – €40 a night, and Luxembourg was the most expensive at around €130 a night. 

Vignettes. You MUST have these for countries that are outside Schengen, so for our trip that was Austria, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. After getting the initial one for Austria in a service station near the border, we bought the others online the day before travelling there. They’re not expensive, maybe somewhere between €5 and €15.

Some countries have a city tax, which has to be paid at each hotel, again not expensive, between €3 and €13, but something to be aware of when booking.

Fuel. As at home, try not to fill up on the motorways as it’s much cheaper in towns. And often they have friendly men who do it for you because they ‘don’t want you to get dirty.’ Quote from Google translate. And they automatically clean the windscreen too or have a bucket and squeegee available for you to, which was desperately needed at every stop for us.

Logbook. I was told we’d need to have it with us and was convinced it was in a safe place in our home, but in the run up to leaving the UK I still hadn’t found it, so had to order a new one for £25 and hope that it arrived in the promised 5 days because that’s all we had left until our departure. Thankfully it did because we were asked at every customs in Europe for it, as well as when we had some car trouble.

Food and drink. Take your big handbag or rucksack to breakfast. Most of the hotels we stayed in offered a continental breakfast, which of course had bread and cheese etc. that can be easily stored in a handbag for lunch on the road. Bonus points for boiled eggs. We had a cool box that plugged into the 12v in the car, which we thought was an excellent idea, meaning we could keep our drinks cold, carry food etc. but in reality it got bumped for charging our phones as we needed them for Google maps, which is a very thirsty app. 

When we broke down, we didn’t have any food in the car as it was only meant to be a short hop between cities. That turned into 8 hours and we were starving, so we didn’t make that mistake again. Even if it’s just some of those long-life croissants you get from Lidl, have something in the car. Rich became quite expert at making crisp sandwiches whilst I drove! 

Local draught beers and spirits, vodka being a preferred tipple of ours, are much cheaper than any brands or bottles. 

Twice we got stung by drinking and eating in the main plaza where it was busiest and the bill was way over budget.

An evening meal in Eastern Europe was around €15 for two with drinks. In Western Europe it was closer to €75.

Money. Apart from Euros, we changed £100 in Hungarian Forints and Bulgarian Lev, so we had coffee money. I wish I’d changed some Romanian money too as we couldn’t get a coffee with a credit card en route, as I found out when the lady shouted at me trying to squeeze euros into the vending machine slot! We used a credit card to pay for everything else, mainly for the reassurance that we were covered if we were ripped off in any way, also it’s so easy to tap for drinks, tolls and service station toilets.

Car. Breakdown cover. Whatever it costs, get the best one you can and check it’s valid in all the countries. I thought we had bells and whistles cover, but turned out the ticks were to show what we could’ve had. That mistake cost us €450.

Insurance the same, make sure you’re covered everywhere… we weren’t convinced that we were covered in Serbia, so did a big detour around it to get from Bulgaria to Hungary. To be honest it felt like the safer option too as it was the last place we wanted to breakdown.

Driving. You drive on the right everywhere. Apart from that, there are a few differences depending on the country, such as the traffic lights are slightly different in each and also you should know that on roundabouts in Greece, the person filtering in has the priority. Seriously, if you’re driving around a roundabout and someone comes on to join, THEY HAVE PRIORITY.

Services. Be prepared to pay, 50c, 70c or even €1 for use of the toilets.

Parking. Even if a hotel says it has parking, it may not be on-site and there may also be a charge. It’s worth messaging them ahead of booking to check.

Hotel room TVs. Not that watching TV was a priority, but occasionally we did have to rest and zone out a bit. It wasn’t until we got to Hungary that we learned about the yellow button that gives audio options on some channels where you can select another language or subtitles. 

Check in/out. All hotels have an afternoon check in time, some even as late as 3pm. Where we turned up early, say 11:30/12:00, which we did more than a few times, the plan was to park, leave our bags and get on with exploring not expecting the room to be ready, but 9/10 times it was.

Museums and galleries. We checked online for the biggies like the Ufizzi and found tickets for select times so you don’t have to waste time queuing. Note that quite a few across Europe are closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Door to door from Llanelli, we travelled 4742 miles, with me doing the driving as Rich doesn’t drive. He does make a mean crisp sandwich though and is an excellent navigator, sweet feeder and DJ. The longest drive was around 13 hours and the shortest was just an hour and a half. We used around £600 in diesel and spent out £760 on car repairs and recovery whilst away. 

We have had a great adventure and can’t wait for the next one! 

– Zoe Thomas, 2022

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If you enjoyed this article, or you’d like to ask Zoe & Richard about their experiences during their trip, please do leave a comment below. Also, if you’d like to contribute an article to this ‘GUEST WRITERS page, please get in touch.

You can also find more by Adrian Sturrock on or (.com)

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