Trip Start Mar 15, 2006
21Trip End Apr 01, 2006
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> My husband and I are planning a
> trip in August to Venice and have 3 days before our
> cruise. We can't decide where to go and I stumbled upon
> your trip. Can you help with recommendations? I'd love
> to go to Bled or Munich but don't know what to do and
> travel agent hasn't been there and can't offer much advice.
> Also, don't know if we should take a train or rent a car,
> we're at a complete loss.
Here is my response. I thought I'd post it here in case it could help others.
Wow, how exciting. With 3 days, it probably depends on where you are going to fly in & out. You'll want to spend a day in Venice, but unless you are really into Venice, one day is enough. If you can make it to Bled, you certainly won't regret it. We found most of Slovenia to be delightful, and it can be a little comforting to stay in EU countries.
But if your "jumping off" point is Venice, my highest recommendation is to visit northern Croatia. You can catch a catamaran from Venice and find yourself in Rovinj (pronounced Ro-veen-ya) within a few hours. If you can, stay as close to the old town as you can get (or even on a nearby Island). From there, you can explore the city, waterfront market, and beaches, and rent a car or take a bus to Pula or Vrsar. If you like beaches and scenic old villages next to high-class resorts, this is the place for you. Be aware that the Croatian beaches and many resorts have a much more liberal dress code (you might want to research that), even for Europe. The food in northern Croatia is excellent and very affordable also, compared to Venice. We found the best food (including Pizza) in Istra. Our favorite place in Croatia was a city called Split, but that had alot to do with the season of our visit.
If you are a glutton for punishment (like me), you could rent a car and drive up through Austria to Munich. Take a the first day to get to Innsbruck, so you don't miss the wine country to the north of Verona. The concentration camp memorial at Duchau (outside Munich) is something that I think everyone should see once. Or there is another camp (Mauthausen) to the Northwest of Villach that would be more on the way to Bled, which was highly recommended to me by our concierge in Venice. Munich is about the same distance through Innsbruck or Villach, but Bled is very close to Villach, so maybe that direction will be more rewarding. Either way, you get breathtaking views of the alps that just make you want to sing.
The highways are very easy to drive on, just stay out of the left lane or atleast watch your rear-view. Their cities can be more difficult to navigate. We rented a car from SIXT that had a Navigation system, though most of the time it didn't work (it wasnt a good one). I mapped our entire route on map24.com and printed driving directions and maps before we left. We also bought really good folding maps from one of the gas stops there. With these tools, we found we could go anywhere, though it does take some patience and practice to drive into European cities (not for the faint-hearted). I also used Google earth and did several fly-though practice runs of our possible itineraries and found myself recognizing mountains and tunnels when we actually got there.
Trains are a good way to get around if there are tracks near where you are going and if you can travel light. They take longer to get you there, but you get to relax and meet people along the way, so its just a personal preference I guess.
I wish you safe travel and hope you enjoy Europe!