Tomislav and I are no strangers to long car trips, we've gone on road trips throughout Eastern Europe before, and especially as of late, T has done a lot of business travel by car. For our familymoon, we caravan-ed our way down to Dubrovnik in 2 big vans for the 8 hour drive. After Dubrovnik, we drove the 8 hours back to Zagreb, then embarked on a 1,300 km trip up to Poland. With so many drivers, we were able to get there with plenty of time for each of us to rest and relax. On the way back? It was just me and T. The first time we'd been alone since we got married and we were about to embark on an 18 hour car ride!
Many of you may know that my dream is to be on The Amazing Race someday. Unfortunately, you have to be a US Citizen to be on the show so my hubby wouldn't be able to be my partner on the show. This doesn't stop us from turning everyday life events into race challenges. Even little things like making it to the tram that's about to drive away, we book it and run, never giving up, as if we're on the Race. On our long ass car ride, we were making announcements like, "The next leg of the Amazing Race...starts NOW!" Our race started in Northeast Poland, we drove through the whole country, down to the Czech Republic, then through Austria, next came Slovenia, and finally back to Croatia.
So, what are the best parts of an 18 hour car trip?
1.) The views and scenery! Sometimes it's so beautiful but you just can't snap a pic in time to capture that beauty. There are many highways still being built in Poland so a lot of the drive is on more local roads on gorgeous tree lined streets like this, sometimes the trees even grow into each other so it looks like a tunnel of trees!
I just love seeing cows on the side of the road! It's so Poland!
2.) Taking turns being the driver and the co-pilot! My Uncle gave us some maps of Poland which was so helpful. Believe it or not, it's the first time we ever road tripped with maps (we usually just follow signs) so it was great to be able to cross off the cities we've already passed off our list. It's also good that I'm not afraid of driving in Poland anymore and have gotten used to European driving with roundabouts and passing cars on narrow laned roads. It's up to each of us to keep the driver as entertained as possible so they don't get sleepy and the driver needs to gauge when they feel awake enough to let the co-pilot take a nap. One of our favorite things to do on long car trips is I read out loud to T-Slav. It's even better than audio books because he gets to hear my impressions of different characters' voices. I read him Catching Fire this trip and he got hooked!
3.) Taking breaks at random detours that we think look interesting! We saw this massive flea market from the side of the road so we decided to go take a break and check it out! We were totally surprised by the first things we saw.
It was actually a pet/farmers' market with farm animals! There were so many different types of animals, it kind of made us want to be farmers (OK maybe, I should speak for myself). But someday, we would love to have our own chickens and a big garden, much like Tomislav's dear Aunt and Uncle have here in Croatia. Talk about farm fresh!
Sometimes it makes me sad to see the adorable little animals but these little duckies were so cute and were all shnuggling so close together. I was trying to secretly snap pics but we looked so out of place next to call the farmers, especially T in his Jersey-style sunglasses and me with my pink and purple blinged out iPhone case. Yeah, no. Not so farmery!
4.) Stopping at random rest stops, especially ones named "Old Timer!" After about 14 hours or driving, we made it to Vienna and it was about 9 pm at this point so the England vs. Italy game was on and I just had to watch at least a part of it! We stopped at this really cute rest stop (with the strangest name) to grab some food and watch at least part of the game.
I was glad we got to watch even a bit because it was my turn to drive and T's to nap and I couldn't find the game on any radio station. Finally as we got closer to the Austrian/Slovenian border I found a weird Croatian station just as they were in double overtime. I woke T up to translate during the PKs! No offense to any Italy fans, but Germany is gonna KICK ASS tomorrow! Woooohooo! Germany for the win! Anyway, I was getting really sleepy at this point of the drive so T-Slav took over and then we had to blast some Call Me Maybe and LMFAO to keep our energy pumped up. I'm so glad he drove the last leg of our trip!
5.) And my personal, absolute favorite part of 18 hour car trips (here in Europe anyway!) is being able to stop and get different magazines, especially cooking ones, in the languages that I actually understand. I got so many and I'm so excited about them all. The paella on the cover of the Polish mag on the left looks amazing and I'm definitely gonna make it one day soon. I love being on summer vacation now from work so I can really get my housewife stuff on. We've been home barely 2 days and I've already made chicken gyros with a Polish cucumber salad, German potato salad (my fav!), crunchy veggie filled salad with Thai peanut dressing, and sweet and sour vegetables with rice noodles (which was so unbelievably delicious, T-Slav literally didn't realize there wasn't any meat in the dish until I mentioned it near the end of his gorging. I just love that.) Delicious!