17th April 2018
As we headed out of Bristol on Monday 9th April on our #Bristanbul adventure we were unsure on some of the road conditions that lay ahead. With 6 days until we reached Dubrovnik in Croatia, we were about to experience some challenging weather, glorious views and tricky hairpins.
Wednesday 11th April - Gigny-sur-Saone, France to Lake Garda, Italy – 385 miles
As we came out the Mont Blanc tunnel and entered Italy, the scenic route towards Milan was bright, sunny and with snow covering the hills of the Aosta Valley, the conditions couldn’t have been better… that was all to change.
Ten minutes after the glorious weather of our entry into Italy the heavens opened and we were in the midst of torrential rain and conditions that were far from ideal.
As we passed by the snow-covered hills on the approach to Courmayeur, the northwest village in Italy at the foot of Mont Blanc, the rain started to come down. Within five minutes the roads of Italy seemed to have shrunk as the rain came hurtling down. Next stop, Milan.
While the roads into Milan were not what you would describe as backroads, the conditions due to the downpour made towing more and more difficult.
Firstly, there was how slippery the road became, which made traction and grip an issue, and then as the rain continued to come down, visibility decreased too - our towing capabilities were really being tested.
Thursday 12th April - Lake Garda, Italy to Lake Bled, Slovenia – 280 miles
If the Italian roads were to be known for their road conditions in torrential rain, then Slovenia was to be… well not much different in some ways.
While the drive from the Slovenian border to Lake Bled was beautifully picturesque, the conditions again proved to be testing with a second day of downpours after the previous days’ rain lashed journey to Lake Garda.
Friday 13th April - Lake Bled, Slovenia to Split, Croatia – 345 miles
Slovenia was stunning, despite the torrential rain that lasted for a large part of our journey (did I mention that before?). With road conditions not quite up to the standard in Italy, it meant towing was a little trickier, again with limited visibility and wetter roads than expected.
Having dealt with the roads of France, and then the roads of Italy and then Slovenia. We feared what awaited us in Croatia.
With the sun high over the Split skyline our crew weaved their way through the busy city traffic, making fairly light work of the awkward hair pains as we maneuvered through the Croatian traffic.
As we made our way towards the beachside campsite, along the far from perfect road conditions, we were flanked by the glorious views along the coast, first moving left, then right, something we repeated for well over ten minutes. From here, we swept our way up the hill towards the campsite along the narrow lanes.
Saturday 14th April - Split to Dubrovnik, Croatia – 125 miles
If we imagined the hairpins we’d taken on in Split were, a little tricky to navigate then we were in for a shock with the sweeping winding road that led from the top of the hill as we made our way into Dubrovnik.
As we zig zagged our way in to the city, the views we were presented with made every inch of road worth it. While the road conditions varied from each section in the road, taking the coast road is something that should not be missed.
With the route from Split to Dubrovnik taking us through a short stretch of Bosnia – the Neum Corridor, it is this side of the backroads of Europe, which allows you to see the part of Croatia you just cannot reach if you take a flight.
Throughout the first leg of our 21-day challenge, the crew navigated both the good and the bad of European roads. While some days were more difficult than others were, it’s an experience that was well worth the time, with over 1600 miles covered.
If the route through France and Italy (via Switzerland and Austria) had been dominated by motorways, then Slovenia, Bosnia and Croatia are well and truly out there for some backroad driving and taking on hairpins as we maneuvered our way across 8 countries in 6 days.