Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Germany
60 Nights in 6 Countries
Getting There and Back Again
Into Vienna, out of Berlin
Getting the flights in and out is the start of all of my itineraries. After that, it’s filling in the route for the other destinations. How do I use award miles and get those Saver Business Class flights? That can be tricky, but more on that at the end of this post.
A third visit to Vienna? No problem! Vienna is a wonderful city and I could return again and again. This time our apartment was a block from the Opera House “Inside the Ring” and walking distance to everywhere. 7 nights gave us plenty of time to get over jet lag and visit some new sites that we didn’t get to on our first 2 trips to Vienna. Read Story >>
What about getting to Croatia? The routing worked better to fly into Ljubljana and visit Slovenia first, then move on to Croatia.
13 Nights in Slovenia
Slovenia is a beautiful green country, and the weather can be anything at the end of April, as we discovered for ourselves. We had beautiful sunny weather, rain, hail, and even snow. And a first for us, thunderstorms while it snowed!
Most people give Ljubljana a quick couple of nights, not us. With a fabulous apartment to come back to, Ljubljana makes a great sightseeing base. We picked up a rental car on our 4th day to see caves, castles and medieval towns before heading off to Lake Bled. Read Story >>
Lake Bled is less than an hour from Ljubljana and many people visit as a day trip. But staying 3 nights is a better strategy to really enjoy the area. Read Story >>
By the Adriatic Sea
Slovenia is a small country, it doesn’t take too long to drive from one place to another. After dropping the luggage off at our Piran apartment, we decided to make use of our last day with the car and zipped over to Koper to stroll around the historic center. The rest of our time in Piran was spent enjoying the peaceful pretty town, sightseeing, and hanging out by the Adriatic Sea. Read Story >>
Croatia Round One – 14 nights
I’d read a lot about Rovinj, the Istrian hill towns, and the famous Roman Arena in Pula. With a week we had just enough time to sightsee in the tiny town, bike the Golden Cape, and do a few driving excursions. Rovinj is a busy place during the day, but staying right in the old town to enjoy the quiet ambiance of the picturesque cobblestone streets in the early morning and evenings was simply delightful. Read Story >>
It rained, it poured, the sun came out, repeat. The spring rains made walking the fantastic wooden paths built over the top of the rushing water, past waterfall after waterfall pouring into lake after lake – simply magical. Read Story >>
The historical center of Dalmatia, Zadar isn’t a delightful medieval town, it was bombed and mostly destroyed in World War II. What you see today is a mix, ancient Roman Ruins and relics, historic palaces and churches, and big blocky Communist era buildings. You can see the main sights in Zadar in a couple of days, but with a car you can explore some of the surrounding countryside and return to your charming apartment in the lively historic center. Read Story >>
Bosnia & Herzegovina
The horrific war in Bosnia destroyed Mostar. Just 21 years ago, much progress has been made in the reconstruction of the city but the ravages of the war are still seen in the destroyed and bullet-ridden buildings. I didn’t know what to expect, I’d heard it was beautiful and when I saw the reconstructed historic center of Mostar with it’s stone streets, stone buildings with stone roofs and the famous Old Bridge, I definitely agreed. But Mostar is compelling, the horrific history came to life with a guided War Tour. Read Story >>
Kotor is a beautiful medieval town at the end of the stunning Bay of Kotor. Fantastic defensive walls zigzag up and down the steep mountain behind the town and around to totally enclose and protect it from it’s ancient foes. 5 nights gave us plenty of time to climb the walls, see the town, and go on driving excursions to return to wander the quiet streets in the evening and marvel at those spectacular walls.Read Story >>
Back to Croatia
10 Nights in Croatia
Dubrovnik is beautiful, and busy – but everyone knows that. I’d heard that Dubrovonik with a car is an expensive hassle, so our apartment 290 steps up above the Ploce Gate came complete with a fabulous view of the Old Town AND a parking spot. We parked the car for the 3 nights we were there and enjoyed the town on foot from one side to another. There’s plenty to do in Dubrovnik, I could easily have given it more days. Read Story >>
Why is Split fascinating? The layers of civilization that are right before your eyes. The ancient Roman blocks, basements and walls of Diocletian’s Palace repurposed in the dark Middle Ages – homes for the common people huddled against the walls, and nobility in the ancient Palace quarters – to today where shops, restaurants, services, and homes are tucked into these same spaces. Read Story >>
I knew I’d like Berlin, but I didn’t know I’d love it. The horrible dark history of World War II and the Cold War dividing East from West make for a fascinating place to visit. Story Coming Soon! >>
Getting There and Back Again
Getting There – the Elusive Super Saver Business Class Award
The plan was always to get Saver Business Class award travel to somewhere in Central Europe on United, and make our way to Croatia from wherever. On United, a standard one-way Business Class award is 150,000 miles from North American to Europe, but a Saver Business Award is only 57,500 miles. On American, a standard Business Class award is 110,000 and 57,500 for a Saver Award. On United, award availability opens up 336 days in advance and American 331 days in advance. If you think outside the box and fly into a major city hub where you can get a Saver Business Class Award, then you can fly cheaply to just about anywhere else in Europe. For my itineraries I have a few destinations in mind when looking for Saver Business Class availability. Last year our destination was really Budapest, but we flew into Madrid on Mile Saver Business Class awards on American and then took a cheap RyanAir flight from Madrid to Budapest. This year we snagged a terrific Saver award flight to Vienna on United and figured it would be easy to get to Slovenia or Croatia from there.
…and Back Again
One of the cities I really wanted to visit was Berlin, and (lucky me!) a couple of months after booking the first flight, a terrific Business Class return flight popped up on the day I wanted to come back – Berlin to Frankfurt, then Frankfurt to San Francisco. Business Class all the way in the upper deck of a 747-400, like your own private jet for 11 hours, 15 minutes. Sounds like a great way to end a long trip doesn’t it?
Filling in the itinerary
The goal was “Easy” – the easiest way to get from place to place without breaking the bank plus long stays in beautiful apartments so we wouldn’t go crazy with too many accommodation changes. We ended up in 10 apartments and 2 hotels in 60 nights…perfect!