European Road Trip in a camper – Part 2

Our European Road Trip in a self build camper van Continues!

The first 5 Days of our European Road Trip in a self build camper van had flown by.  From glaciers to castles, we were certainly very pleased with how much we had packed into such a short period of time.  If you haven’t already done so, make sure you read part 1 to find out more about some of Europe’s hidden gems!

European Road Trip in a self build camper van: Day 6  [Total Miles: 1250]

[Country: Slovenia]

After a good night sleep in the peaceful Motorhome Stop, we had a very lazy morning, enjoying a full cooked breakfast and getting the drone working. 

Both Erica and I were thoroughly enjoying our time in Slovenia, however we decided to start making our way to Croatia to ensure we remained on schedule!  After a quick look on the map, we decided to take the back roads and see what we would find en route!

Sneznik Castle

Our first stop was Sneznik Castle. Sadly it was closed the day we visited, however we were still able to walk around the grounds and see the impressive moat!

Sneznik Castle, Slovenia
Sneznik Castle, the first stop!

After our visit, we continued on our journey and decided to ignore the satellite navigation altogether. Consequently, we drove along a local road which turned into a gravel track.  This turned out to be a wise decision as we were rewarded with stunning scenery including remote farms and villages.

Touring Rural Slovenia during our European Road Trip in a self build camper van
Our route through Rural Slovenia

Ribnica

Eventually we arrived in the small town of Ribnica and visited the local museum.  The museum was very interesting and even included a private tour!  Furthermore, we were each given a carved wooden spoon as a memento. It was certainly worth the £2 entrance fee!

Once we had finished our museum visit, we wandered across an old bridge into town where we bought the national cream cake and visited the impressive church.  We then spent an hour sitting with an ice cream beside the river which was rather lovely.

Bridge in Ribnica, Slovenia
Lovely view across Ribnica

Soon it was time to hit the road again, we continued our route through the countryside and found a nice spot to stop for our lunch. 

Over lunch, we had a look on Park4night and found a camper stop near to the island village of Kostanjevica na Krki.  Consequently, we continued driving through the countryside stopping regularly for some short walks before arriving early evening.

Kostanjevica na Krki

Erica and I both love the water.  Upon arrival, we immediately inflated the kayak and jumped in. We headed for a cafe on the island side of the water, however the kayak decided it wanted to go in the other direction!  As a result, we ended up paddling around the entire island which was great fun.

Paddling around Kostanjevica na Krki, Slovenia. Touring Europe - European Road Trip in a self build Citroen Relay camper van
Paddling around Kostanjevica na Krki
Paddling around Kostanjevica na Krki
Kostanjevica na Krki was rather lovely!

We spent an hour on the water before packing it away and going for a final short walk into the village.  As night fell, we returned to the van for dinner and some rest.

European Road Trip in a self build camper van: Day 7  [Total Miles: 1400]

[Country: Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary]

We woke to a cloudy morning by the river and headed off early towards the Croatian border.  For the first time since Calais, we had our passports and documents checked.  Due to our forward planning, this was uneventful and we were soon on our way to the town of Samobor.

Samobor

Parking was easy as there was a massive free car park on the edge of the town.  From here we climbed the steep slope to Samobor Castle. The castle ruins were beautiful with far reaching views across Croatia.  Furthermore, there were no barriers and so we were able to climb right up to the upper floors!

Samobor Castle, Croatia. Touring Europe - European Road Trip in a self build Citroen Relay camper van
Samobor Castle

Durdevac

We drove through Koprivnica where we wanted to stop, however we needed local currency and couldn’t find an ATM to pay for parking! Consequently we continued onto Dordevac.

After finally finding an ATM, we walked to Durdevac Castle. We spent time walking through a number of exhibitions covering the Ottoman invasion of the area.  Unfortunately, there were no English translations and neither Erica or I speak a word of Croatian!

Durdevac Castle. Touring Europe - European Road Trip in a self build Citroen Relay camper van
Durdevac Castle

Eventually we found the cafe where we sat reading about the castle on our phone whilst drinking a nice coffee.  We discovered that the town was known as the Town of the Rooster as when under siege, an old lady suggested firing a chicken from the canon to show they had lots of food!

Courtyard in Durdevac Castle
Courtyard inside Durdevac Castle

Despite the language barrier, we found everyone incredibly welcoming and I got the impression that they have relatively few tourists from England.

After a while waking around the grounds of the castle and the wider town, we returned to the van and drove to Virovitica, near the border with Hungary.

Virovitica

The drive to Virovitica took around 40 minutes along a major road. Luckily, we were able to park near to the city centre.  Here we spent a few hours exploring including visiting Pejačević Castle and its fountain.

Pejačević Castle in Virovitica, Croatia. Touring Europe - European Road Trip in a self build Citroen Relay camper van
Pejačević Castle
Fountains outside Pejačević Castle in Virovitica, Croatia
Fountains outside Pejačević Castle

Eventually we found a nice cafe where we sat with a coffee planning the next few days. After some discussion, we concluded that we should cross the border and continue into Hungary to the town of Szigetvár.  

Szigetvár

The drive to Szigetvár was only around an hour including a brief stop at border control to check our documents.  Also, a very friendly member of staff asked to look inside the van and her reaction of “Oh wow its a house!” made both of us laugh! 

By the time we arrived and found somewhere to park for the night, it was gone 8pm. Consequently we only had an hour or so to explore the town.  Luckily, we had parked near the town centre and were able to walk around the grounds of Szigetvár Castle and into the town square.

After some exploring, we returned to the van where we cooked a very late dinner before bed!

Szigetvár, Hungary
Szigetvár, Hungary

European Road Trip in a self build camper van: Day 8  [Total Miles: 1480]

[Country: Hungary]

Pécs

We woke very early and drove to the ancient city of Pécs.  Since we arrived before the commuters, we were able to park in a free car park near the city centre! From here, we wandered through lovely quiet streets and a fresh fruit and veg market. Next, we found a bakery where we bought some local pastry which we enjoyed whilst sitting in the main square.

Pécs Cathedral

After a little more wandering through the quiet streets, we eventually reached the cathedral.  We paid the entry fee and were the only people inside this spectacularly ornate building. Consequently, the sense of peace and tranquillity of such an empty place was quite beautiful.

 Pécs Cathedral (Sts. Peter and Paul's Cathedral Basilica)
Pécs Cathedral (Sts. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral Basilica)
Inside Pécs Cathedral (Sts. Peter and Paul's Cathedral Basilica)
Inside Pécs Cathedral (Sts. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral Basilica)

We climbed the 8 flights of creaky wooden stairs to the top of one of the towers.  From here, we could see right across the city and made the climb worthwhile. On the ascent, we passed a warning sign explaining that the bells chime at certain times of the day. Consequently, we didn’t stay at the top of the tower very long as the bells looked very large, and very loud!

The view from Pécs Cathedral Tower
The view from Pécs Cathedral Tower

Once safely back at ground level, we stopped in the Cathedral’s cafe for a coffee before walking some more around the city. Eventually we made our way back to the central square eating ice cream!

Central Square, Pecs
The central Square

The Downtown Candlemas Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Our final visit in Pécs was to the The Downtown Candlemas Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Whilst currently operating as a church, it had previously been the Mosque of Pasha Qasim.  Consequently the building was a mixture of various architectural styles and fascinating to explore. Also, the church is home to a 2900 pipe organ!

Mosque of Pasha Qasim, Pecs, Hungary
Downtown Candlemas Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Once we had concluded our visit to the church, we made our way back to the van. Upon arriving, we realised that it had been a wise decision to arrive early as the whole car park and surrounding area was now full.

Baja

Our next stop in Hungary was the City of Baja, a 75 minute drive from Pécs.  After some research on the map, we discovered a small Island called Petofi across the Danube from the main square in Baja. Perfect! 

When we arrived on Petofi Island, we found it surprisingly busy and full of tents and cars.  Luckily however, we managed to park next to the River Danube! 

Parked up on the River Danube, Baja, Hungary
Parked up on the River Danube, Baja, Hungary

There was clearly something going on in Baja as there was also a lot of loud music.  Consequently, we took a footbridge over the river into the City Centre to find out what was happening!

It turned out we had arrived during the middle of the world famous Fish Soup Festival!  Apparently, the festival holds the world record for the greatest quantity of fish soup cooked simultaneously.  Furthermore, this soup is cooked over a huge number of open fires across Baja. The city was extremely busy with a number of large music stages setup as well as lots of food stalls.  We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the festival and listening to the music. Furthermore, we got to see the Hungarian 2013 Eurovision Act! 

Fish Soup Festival, Baja, Hungary. Touring Europe - European Road Trip in a self build Citroen Relay camper van
Fish Soup Festival, Baja, Hungary
World Famous Fish Soup Festival, Baja. Touring Europe - European Road Trip in a self build Citroen Relay camper van
The world famous Fish Soup Festival.

By the time we had finished exploring the festival, it was getting dark and so we headed back to the van and opened the back doors.  The atmosphere was lovely with lots of locals sitting outside their tents chatting with the sound of the music in the background.

Both of us really enjoyed just sitting looking our across the beautiful Danube.

Across the Danube. Touring Europe - European Road Trip in a self build Citroen Relay camper van. The photographs shows the width of The Relay along with the Peugeot Boxer and Fiat Ducato.
Back Doors open – Looking out across the Danube

European Road Trip in a self build camper van: Day 9  [Total Miles: 1565]

[Country: Hungary]

We had a very lazy morning with the van doors open looking over the river. The lovely location was perfect for catching up on the journal, tidying the van and just relaxing until mid afternoon.

Once we hit the road, we found a stunning field of sunflowers where we stopped to take lots of photographs!  

Sunflowers, Hungary
Beautiful Sunflowers!

Szeged.

After around 80 minutes driving, we arrived in Szeged.  Luckily we were able to find free parking near to the city centre!

The sky was rather grey and it was clear that rain was on the way! Consequently, we packed our raincoats into the backpack before setting off.  A short walk across a bridge took us over the River Tisza and into the city centre. 

Bridge Across River Tisza, Szeged. Touring Europe - European Road Trip in a self build Citroen Relay camper van
Bridge Across River Tisza, Szeged

Szeged was full of lovely buildings, immaculate streets and lots of cafes.  Sadly, the dark grey sky soon turned to black accompanied by the sound of thunder.  For this reason, we headed inside one of the many cafes and enjoyed a coffee whilst watching the Wimbledon final on TV.  Our decision was sensible as the thunder and lightning was soon directly overhead and the rain absolutely torrential.  

Street in Szeged, Hungary
The rain quickly cleared the streets of Szeged

Once the rain had eased, we ventured out onto the streets for a wander. Our route took us inside the beautiful  Szeged cathedral, and past the Town Hall.  Luckily there was a street music festival on and so were able to stop and listen to some quite impressive musicians along the way!

szeged cathedral, Hungary. Touring Europe - European Road Trip in a self build Citroen Relay camper van
Szeged Cathedral
Szeged Town Hall
Szeged Town Hall

Eventually we found some stalls in Dugonics Fountain Square where we purchased some street food.  We spent the next few hours sitting by the fountain eating our food whilst listening to some live music. Eventually as the light began to fade, we made our way back to the van for the night.

Dugonics Fountain Square, Szeged, Hungary. Touring Europe -  Road Trip in a self build camper van
Dugonics Fountain

European Road Trip in a self build camper van: Day 10  [Total Miles: 1700]

[Country: Hungary, Romania]

We both had a very good night’s sleep in Szeged, despite being parked in a rather busy area!

After breakfast, we hit the road and drove along the border road into the town of Mako for fuel and a Lidl stop!  The town looked quite interesting and so we decided to explore the town before continuing on our journey.

Mako

The weather in Mako was beautiful and very hot, despite us arriving early.  Consequently, we spent our time wandering the sunny streets enjoying our surroundings.  We really enjoyed an unusual canopy made entirely of colourful umbrellas.  Also, the Hagymatikum Thermal Bath resembled a spaceship!

Hagymatikum Thermal Bath, Mako, Hungary. Touring Europe - European Road Trip in a self build Citroen Relay camper van
Hagymatikum Thermal Bath, Mako
Mako, Hungary
Mako, Hungary

Once we were both satisfied that we had seen all that Mako had to offer, we returned to the van.  Our next destination was Romania!

Timișoara

The border crossing into Romania was very easy,  we just needed to show the V5 registration document and pay £5 road tax. Furthermore, our route took us through some beautiful countryside towards our the city of Timișoara.  Unfortunately, the roads were entirely single carriageway and so progress was slower than it had been through Hungary.

Approaching the Romanian Border! Touring Europe - European Road Trip in a self build Citroen Relay camper van
Approaching the Romanian border!

Eventually we arrived at a free car park on the outskirts of the city.  Consequently, we enjoyed a stroll through a local park towards the city centre.  We found a number of large squares surrounded by many impressive buildings, all in very different states of repair!

Roses Park, Timișoara, Romania
Walking into the city centre through Roses Park.
Square, Timișoara, Romania
One of the many squares in Timișoara!

Anybody who knows me, will be aware of how much I love and am fascinated by electricity (The camper van has 63 additional switches…) Therefore, I was very impressed by a sculpture resembling a tree with branches of solar panels.  Furthermore, it included a number of USB sockets allowing members of the public to charge their phones from the tree!

Solar Tree, Timișoara, Romania. Touring Europe - European Road Trip in a self build Citroen Relay camper van
Solar Tree, Timișoara

Timișoara Orthodox Cathedral

We made our way along more lovely local streets towards the Cathedral Park.  Both Erica and I were impressed by how friendly everyone was and how clean the city appeared.  Finally, we walked to the stunning Orthodox Cathedral with lots of gold!

Cathedral Park
Erica standing in front of Cathedral Park.
Timișoara Orthodox Cathedral
Inside Timișoara Orthodox Cathedral

After some time exploring the Cathedral, we spent more time walking down random streets to see what we found.  Luckily, wherever we went, we always managed to find some beautifully kept buildings.  Eventually we found ourselves in another beautiful square.  We decided to stop in one of the many cafes where we enjoyed a large ice cream and milkshake! 

Architecture of Timișoara, Romania
Beautiful architecture of Timișoara, Romania
Timișoara. Romania
Time for a Coffee Stop!

After a while sitting watching the movements across the lovely square, we decided to make our way back to the van.  Our route took as back through Roses Park.  Sadly, my geekiness got the better of me.  Consequently, I felt the need to pose in front of this 100kVA diesel generator. More importantly, I convinced Erica to take a photograph…

Standing in front of a diesel generator.
Like I said, slightly obsessed with electrics…

Lacul Surduc

By the time we arrived back at the van, it was mid afternoon and still stunning weather. Whilst we love exploring, we also enjoy a relaxing afternoon now and again!  Luckily, after some research on Park4night, we found a lovely looking campsite on the shores of a beautiful Lake.

The drive to Lacul Surduc took us through some more picturesque countryside accompanied by some slow moving traffic.  Soon we arrived, paid the £6 campsite fee and parked up with the rear doors facing the lake. I have to say that it was really hard work building the van, however its moments like this that make it all the worthwhile!

We spent the afternoon and evening swimming in the lake before setting up the barbecue and opening a bottle of Romanian wine.  P…e…r…f…e…c…t…

Sunset over Lacul Surduc, Romania
Sunset over Lacul Surduc, Romania

European Road Trip in a self build camper van – Where Next?

Golden sandstone rocks, Transylvania and more caves. There is so much more to see… Click the link to find out more.

European Road Trip – Part 3

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Further Reading.

Are you considering an adventure like ours?  Go ahead and read about how we planned this memorable trip!

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