Three Countries in Two Weeks!
by Hayley and Will
Grossglockner Mountain Pass, Austria
Slovenia and the Dolomites had both been on our wish-list for a while, and we decided that a camper van would be the ideal way to experience them- giving us the freedom and flexibility we desired. When we stumbled across Spicy Campers we knew it was the right choice, offering fully-kitted out camper rental and a personalised service.
Our journey started in Venice, and after a day and a night of sightseeing (plenty enough), we caught a train to Gorizia for Greg to pick us up. On the drive back to Greg’s house, we chatted about our route, and Greg was surprised to hear we wanted to visit Ljubljana. “It’s a nice city” he said, “but there are SO many nicer places you could go with the freedom of a campervan”. We smiled and nodded, and left it at that. After showing us around the Spicy Baby, Greg sat us down to help us with our plans. He gave us lots of suggestions of things to see and places to stay, and soon talked us into driving straight up to the mountains, and bypassing Ljubljana altogether!
From Greg’s, we headed straight up the Soca Valley to Tolmin, and found a pitch for the night at Camp Gabrje. The weather was beautiful the following day, so we decided to go paragliding - scary at first but worth it for the beautiful views of the valley and surrounding area. We would highly recommend Camp Gabrje- the people there were really friendly, helping to organise the paragliding for us, and the food and drink were delicious, even the 80 cent red wine!
After two nights in Tolmin, we headed across to the Instagram-famous Lake Bled. We did a lap of the lake, then hiked up to a viewpoint, meeting some locals on the way who taught us about the history of the local area. That evening, we drove back towards Lake Bohinj, to stay at Camp Bohinj right by the lake. Over the next few days we experienced: delicious pizza, local beers, plenty of rain, plenty of sun, paddle boarding (amazing!), swimming, and waterfalls. Awesome.
We sadly left Bohinj, and after an overnight stop in Bovec (and a speedy visit to the Great Soca Gorge), we headed onwards to Austria! Greg had suggested that if we wanted mountain scenery, we should visit Austria and drive over the Grossglockner High Alpine Road. We're so glad he persuaded us!
We found a small campsite - Camping Lindlerhof - just near the start of the mountain pass, and stayed there for a night (after enjoying some local food and beer, of course). The next morning, with a beautiful sunrise, we set out over the pass, which gave us some of the most breath-taking views we have ever seen, and a welcome drop in temperature after days of hiking in Slovenian heat. We would recommend the Grossglockner to anyone: excellent views, beautiful smooth roads, and up-close meetings with marmots!
After our second night at Camping Lindlerhof, we crossed the Italian border to the Dolomites. We made a quick trip to Lago di Braies for some photo opportunities; the wet weather kept away the hordes of other tourists, so we almost had the lake to ourselves! Then, onwards to Cortina d’Ampezzo, our base for the next few days. There are some excellent Via Ferrata in the area, so we rented some equipment and hit the mountains.
Whilst in Cortina, we also hiked out to Lago di Sorapis, which was more than worth the 10-mile trek and looming thunderstorm! There were some stunning views on the way, and once we were at the lake, we pretty much had it to ourselves. There's also a Refugio near the lake which does an excellent espresso...
However much we were loving the Dolomites, the weather forecast did not look positive, so we decided it was time to drive South. Our next day was a long one, aiming to get as close to Lake Garda as we could. We got tired and hungry before we got there, and stopped in the nearest campsite we could find - Camping Obstgarten. And we are glad we did! We managed to accidentally stop in wine country, and there was a vineyard right next door which served excellent wine and local food. A happy accident!
After our stop-over, we made it to Arco, which primarily consists of climbing shops, gelaterias and restaurants - just our thing! We had planned to spend a few days relaxing by Lake Garda, but quickly got bored and headed back to Arco to do more climbing and hiking - so much for relaxing!
After that, our trip was nearly over. We made our way back to Slovenia and camped around the corner from Greg's place, ready to drop the camper off in the morning and head back to Venice for our flight home. At the campsite (Kamp Lijak), we met another Spicy Camper family, who had travelled around Croatia, and had an equally good time.
We would highly recommend Spicy Campers to anyone who is travelling in the area. Greg is extremely friendly and helpful, and he has obviously spent a lot of time driving and camping around Europe, so he has plenty of recommendations and experience to share. We personally can’t think of a better way to enjoy the Alps!