From Surprise to Splendor: Planning for European destinations | Slovenia and Austria travel
Have you ever embarked on a journey with a destination in mind, only to end up in a completely different place? Life has a way of surprising us, and travel plans are no exception. Join us on a thrilling adventure as we share our story of initially planning for Georgia, only to find ourselves enchanted by the hidden gems of Slovenia and Austria. From the initial apprehension to the elation upon arrival and the bittersweet departure, this tale will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions.
Unplanned Detour: From Georgia to Europe
As we began our travel planning, Georgia was set to be our destination. However, the desire for a more European experience led us to consider other options. After evaluating various countries, including the Czech Republic, Croatia, England, and Scotland, we settled on Czech Republic and Austria. Excitement filled the air as we meticulously crafted our itinerary and made the necessary bookings. But a sudden blow came when we realized that the earliest visa appointment available was 20 days after our scheduled flight. Panic set in, until a wise suggestion from our uncle changed our course.
Discovering Slovenia: A Hidden Gem
Our relative proposed visiting Slovenia, a country less frequented by Indian travellers. At first, we were unfamiliar with this mysterious destination, but curiosity took hold. With a speedy visa appointment secured within 7 days, we eagerly set our sights on this unexplored corner of Europe. Slovenia, once part of the former Yugoslavia, revealed a rich history, pristine nature, and captivating architecture. It may not have the grandeur of other European countries, but it held a unique charm all its own.
Nature's Bliss in Austria
To compensate for Slovenia's architectural simplicity, we discovered that Austria had a secret treasure trove of natural beauty. The breathtaking landscapes of Austria left us awestruck. From the majestic Alps to picturesque lakes and charming villages, Austria showcased a side we had never anticipated. It was a delightful surprise to witness the harmonious blend of Austria's cultural heritage and awe-inspiring nature.
Planning for the Journey
No Euro trip is complete without thorough planning. Our experiences taught us the importance of scheduling visa appointments early, especially during peak European summers. We recommend considering Slovenia as a viable option due to the relatively easier visa process. Our itinerary included three days in Slovenia before heading to Austria, specifically exploring Salzburg and Vienna.
Inter and Intra city travels
Navigating intercity travel in Slovenia can be a bit challenging due to low frequency, but various operators offer services. Check timetables frequently and ensure you travel with the same operator for round trips. In Ljubljana, the capital, consider getting the Urbana card, which provides free bus rides and additional perks like a boat ride and a ride on the Funicular (like a lift for reaching Ljubljana Castle)
In Austria, public transport in Salzburg and nearby can be tricky, so renting a car is advisable for exploring the natural beauty surrounding the city. In Vienna, a vast metropolis, it's best to obtain travel cards suitable for your specific needs. Research different options based on your planned daily destinations to maximise convenience.
Finding Your Perfect Stay
When it comes to accommodation, Airbnb often offers centrally located options without breaking the bank. Use Google Maps to compare the proximity of your stay to key attractions. For more budget-friendly options, booking.com and Agoda can provide alternatives, ensuring a comfortable and convenient stay.
Logistics: Sim Card, Travel cards and Currency
Upon arrival, obtaining a local sim card becomes a priority. In Ljubljana, we were surprised to find no sim card shops at the airport. Instead, we visited a local retail chain like Hofer or Lidl to purchase a sim card with data packages costing around EUR 10. It's also advisable to keep small currency denominations for public transportation ticket purchases.
When it comes to travel cards, evaluate your planned destinations in detail. In Ljubljana, we skipped purchasing a travel card as most attractions were within walking distance from our centrally located accommodation. However, in cities like Salzburg and Vienna, travel cards often include entry tickets to historic sites or offer discounts, making them worthwhile investments. Also, the Vienna travel cards come in various combinations, it may take some time to figure out best combo for you. Although, we ended up buying tickets only as the cards were coming costly for us. By the way, public transport is free on Sundays. So visit Vienna travel site and match cards for your requirements.
Indulging in Gastronomic Delights
Food options in Slovenia and Austria cater to a diverse range of palates. From vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes to vegan alternatives, you'll find ample choices. If you have specific dietary restrictions, such as avoiding eggplant, don't hesitate to communicate your preferences to ensure a satisfying culinary experience. Keep in mind that Slovenia tends to have slightly higher food prices compared to Austria, but the options are still plentiful. Packing some cup noodles or instant meals for quick fillers during travel can be a handy tip.
Dressing for the Adventure
Slovenia's summer weather remains consistent throughout the day, so light clothing is ideal. The long daylight hours offer extended exploration opportunities, though we regretfully missed experiencing Slovenia's nightlife due to exhaustion from daytime adventures. Austria, on the other hand, exhibits a varied climate, ranging from warm to cold and rainy. Packing layers of clothing will help you adapt to unpredictable weather changes and stay comfortable during your visit.
Our biggest takeaway from the adventure was to always start with getting an VFS appointment and then preparing an itinerary. Euro summers have become very famous and in a country like India, you may not get an appointment in due time.
Embrace the unexpected twists and turns that travel can bring. Our detour to Slovenia and Austria turned out to be a serendipitous experience, leaving us with cherished memories and a yearning to return. By planning meticulously, adapting to unforeseen circumstances, and immersing ourselves in the beauty of these countries, we discovered that the most remarkable journeys are often the ones that lead us off the beaten path. So, pack your bags, embrace the unknown, and embark on a transformative adventure through the enchanting lands of Slovenia and Austria.
Stay tuned as we add about experiences in Slovenia and Austria. Our stories may give you that push for Euro trip which you are trying to find.