For the last 4-5 years, our director Andro spends his days on Mallorca and in Split, Croatia. It was March 2020 when everything changed (in Europe) and Andro was caught in the lockdown on Mallorca. 5 months later he departs for a road trip from Mallorca back to Split;
For the last 5 years I spend my time in Split and on the island of Mallorca. I was flying between Mallorca and Croatia every couple of months and this was relatively easy and cheap with all the low-cost airlines that exist in Europe. If I find good connection, it is usually 2 flights and about 5h of total traveling. In March 2020 I was supposed to fly again from Mallorca to Croatia. Few days before the departure I received an email – my flight is cancelled. Ok, no problem – I just continued to work online as I usually do while in Spain. But the things were getting worse, as I guess you all know. Sometime in June, when we realized there will not be much traveling (and work for us in Croatia) I slowly started to focus on some other things which were not work related. Baby Gina has 2 years, and spending time with her was of biggest importance. Lockdown in Spain was extremely strict. We were not really allowed to go outside for leisure activities, there were no kinder gardens opened and baby Gina was locked inside 4 walls for 2 months. Once we were allowed to take babies and kids out – we were out, by the sea, in the forest, on the bike.. She was happy (and so was I)!! But then, I still had some free time so I used my work experience to create (and dream whilst creating) a perfect family road trip (or our return to Croatia). This was the formula:
- Find great mountain bike routes in France, Italy, Austria and Slovenia
- Find great hiking routes for the whole family in the same location
- Find easier cycling routes for the family (in the same area)
- Find a place for the campervan
- Find great restaurants
- Find interesting attractions
- Find parks where Gina can have FUN
It took maybe 2 weeks to plan all of this and it included a lot of google maps (and that yellow guy from google maps) and other bike route mapping apps, youtube videos, various blogs and reviews and reports, driving and campervan apps, gps tracks creation...
Finally, when the departure day arrived, our fully equipped PEGGY campervan and we left the island of Mallorca.
This was our route;
- Village Sospel, Alpes Maritimes, France – This area is part of Provence- Apes-Cote d’Azur region. Just before the border with Italy, we drove into the mountains/Alps. History, food, relaxed atmosphere of this charming village Sospel were stunning. But the best is that this area is home of Nicolas Vouilloz, French MTB downhill legend (I always preferred Shaun Palmer, even Nicolas is legend…)
|Sospel - charming village in Alpes Maritimes|
|The views from mountain bike ride|
|Broken chain in the middle of nowhere.. adventure!|
|Hiking in Alpes Maritimes|
- Finale Ligure and Final Borgo – Italian Riviera (Liguria). White sandy beaches and the views give you a feeling that you are in the postcard. But we did not stay on the beach. It was July and summer in full swing, and we headed to the mountains. This area hosts final race of MTB enduro world series cup. Wherever you go, you end up on a great flow mountain bike trail. Heaven! Mozzarella di bufala!
|Mozzarella Siiii! Bon Giorno!|
|Start of the adventure|
|Exploring the Finale mountains|
|Finale Ligure NATO Base - start of the best European mountain bike flow trails...|
- Paganella, Molveno and Andalo – Dolomites, North Italy. Gina’s first ride with the lift. Here we really appreciated summer mountain climate and we were hiking (and biking – Willy Wonka flow trail oh!) between 1500 and 2000 meters. The views are just amazing; imposing rock faces and nature in its truest form, beautiful lake and many children parks high up in the mountains, beautiful trails and paths.
- Soll, Tyrol, Austria – this is where I used to work as a ski instructor long time ago… Charming Tyrolian village, many friends and mountains. Gina’s first proper hike and breakfast at a mountain hut! By this time, she was a proper mountain climber already! Great barbeques, farmer’s eggs and bacon, fresh milk, rivers, good food, beer. Tyrol is great and always will be! Servus.
|Hiking on Wilder Kaiser in Tirol|
|Our guides (actually friends)|
|Brunch in the Kaiser|
|Hintersteiner see in Tyrol|
|Grill with friends and Stiegl bier!|
|Learning tyrolean - SERVUS!!|
- Leogang Saalbach- Hinterglemm – Bike circus. Ultimate downhill, enduro and freeride madness. Lifts. The views. Over 70km of tails and 9 gondolas. This is where UCI Mountain Bike World Championship was held.
|Leogang - great mountain biking!!!|
- Lake Bled, Slovenia – after all those mountains we spent some time walking around lake Bled in Slovenia. Beautiful and tranquil. Gina had local soup and trout.
|Sailor on Bled!|
This was first time we spent 20 days of summer in the mountains of Europe. It is a great alternative to busy overcrowded beaches, at least for us, who live by the sea. Traveling is fun! We all want to go again tomorrow!
Van life is great!!!
|Dinner time :)|