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Trip Report Europe Road Trip (Estonia - France) — Day 1

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Surely the best way to spend a summer vacation is to go travelling around the world to discover new countries, their cultures and customs and to return with a whole luggage of exciting experiences and emotions, which will keep you up for the upcoming working days.

This summer we decided to visit beautiful villages and beaches of French Riviera and enjoy the sun, the sea and incredible atmosphere of the place. To get a more exciting travel experience, we rejected the idea of going by plane and took a car instead. Our route ran through many other places worth visiting, and thanks to being absolutely flexible in time we had a chance to make smaller stops where we liked.

Since it is our first time experience of travelling by car so far we have started preparations long before the departure. Here is a short list of the things we have considered in our planning stage:

1. First of all, make sure your car is in good condition and all necessary documents are ready. Also ensure you have the latest update of road maps in your GPS navigator.

2. Take time to investigate all lodging possibilities to get the perfect balance between the price and the quality. Do not forget to consider the surroundings of the place (whether you are looking for a tranquil family holiday or for a more active night life) and its proximity to most interest offering sights (since you would have to spend extra on local transportation).

3. Equally make enquiries about the accessibility of local transportation and the fares. Of course once you arrive you get more information, but it is better to make some home work in advance.

4. Check out some hotels, motels, campings etc located on your way to the final destination. In case you get too tired it would save you a lot of time and nerves if you have a backup stopover option.

5. Make enquiries about the toll roads on your way — probably you would need some currency and coins.

6. Depending on the chosen accommodation type make sure you have all necessary equipment for a comfortable stay. In our case (staying in the camping site) we had to take a socket, extension lead (as long as available), durable tent and sleeping bags, folding chairs and table, electric grill (as charcoal grills are usually not allowed), portable camping fridge.

Having packed all the necessary stuff we have finally departed from Tallinn and headed towards Poland, where our first overnight stop was planned. All three Baltic states are relatively similar in the road signs and speed is usually limited to 90km/h on the motorways. For those interested to see the Baltic Sea we suggest stopping in the Northern part of Latvia, where there is an immediate access from the motorway to the sandy beach. It would be a nice opportunity to take a break from driving, have a snack and maybe even swim.

Our greatest concern of the first day was driving through Poland. Prior to the departure we have read lots of other travellers' reviews saying that its quite dangerous to drive in Poland, the roads are all broken and there is police everywhere. However, it turned out to be not that scary as it was expected. The road leading from the eastern Europe towards Warsaw is a one-lane highway, which is now being partly reconstructed, so there might be slight hold-ups on the way. It also runs through many smaller towns, where a speed limit of 50 km/h is applied, however, you would see no signs indicating that. All you will see is the sign saying the name of the place and only this serves as an indicator of speed slowdown. It may also take some time to get used to the traffic full of trucks and the driving manners of Polish drivers, who always tend to overtake a line of vehicles in the face of oncoming traffic and do not really care of cutting in. All in all one would get a valuable driving practice once she/he travels around Poland :)

Poland is one of the largest European countries and it is really tough to cross it in one day, so it is definitely worth staying for a night in one of the numerous roadside hotels. What is useful mentioning is that all those roadside hotels are located only in the Eastern part of the country until Warsaw. After Warsaw there is a 400 km motorway, where the maximum you may expect are the petrol stations and some parking places, but no hotels or something of the kind. So keeping that in mind we stopped in a cosy hotel called Kamiza, which is situated in Brańszczyk, about 60 km away to the east from Warsaw (if interested please visit http://www.kamiza.oit.pl/). For approximately 45 euros we got a really comfortable double room with nice furnishing and all sanitary equipment . One can also have breakfast and use the sauna and billiard, which are included in the price.

First day result:
Travelled: 897 km in 12 hours
Petrol used: 142 €

Tip of the day:
Plan your journey so that you would avoid or at least have a minimised truck traffic in Poland. We suggest travelling on Sunday as we did. Keep also in mind that it gets dark quite early approximately at 22.00.

Some photos & map:
http://mindsparklemag.com/?travel/day-1

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