From Montenegro to Austria (via Serbia and Croatia)

SUP in the Adriatic Sea in MontenegroWe are almost nine months into our year abroad. In some ways it has flown by, in other ways it seems like we left the United States a LONG time ago.

Where We’ve Been

If you are following along, you’ve seen highlights from the countries we’ve visited thus far.

  • October/November – Italy
  • November/December –Croatia
  • December/January –Germany
  • January/February – Slovenia
  • February/March –England
  • April – Scotland
  • May – France
  • June –Montenegro
  • July –Austria

We’ve had a lot of people visit us along the way. Big Henry in England, Tiny Jen in Scotland, my mom and Ed in France, fellow Sequoia Junior High Drill Team member Christine in Paris, and Livingston friends Dorel, Beau, and daughters in Montenegro. These are just the people who flew over to see us (and have an awesome European vacation). We’ve also had the good fortune of meeting up with other friends (some we knew and some we didn’t) as we traveled around.


Bar to Belgrade
View from the Bar to Belgrade train in Montenegro

Now for the catch up. As we left Montenegro, we took a train trip through Montenegro, Serbia, and Croatia with Dorel and twin 10-year-olds Kiris and Gray (Beau had to go back to work). We started out with the famous Bar to Belgrade train.

I knew embarrassingly little about Montenegro and Serbia beyond the Balkans Wars in the 1990s. They are gorgeous countries and the train between Montenegro’s Adriatic coast and Serbia’s capital shows off just how beautiful this section of the world is. I read that God created all the other countries and was left with a bunch of rocks. He threw this pile down to earth and made Montenegro. The limestone mountains of this country are incredible. They are big, formidable, craggy, and fill the view from the train with beauty for many hours.

I say “many hours” because our train ride ended up being 12 hours, followed by an hour long bus ride where the tracks were being worked on. Our car didn’t have air conditioning. They don’t serve food in the dining car, which we didn’t know until getting on the train with four kids.

It was really fun, though. It may be that the big €1 beers kept Dorel and I in good spirits. It may be that Henry was in a separate room away from the chaos and mess of the kids. It may be that the view was that good. It may be that we happened to have five cans of tuna fish and a bag of trail mix so no one starved. Whatever the case, we will be remembering this trip fondly for a long time. I can’t wait until our kids are all adults and talking about that time their parents took them on a train through the Balkans with nothing but canned tuna for 12 hours. That’s college entrance essay material right there.Kid chaos on the Bar to Belgrade train


Belgrade, Serbia
National Gallery in Belgrade, Serbia

We spent two nights in Belgrade and had one day to explore the city. It was 98 degrees F, so I could barely function, but we stood outside important buildings and read about them, ate chocolate bombs in the (air conditioned) Hotel Moscow, wandered around the fortress, and played a in a strange little Dino Adventure Land.

We also took a really cool boat cruise down the Danube and up the Sava rivers. The two rivers come together beneath the fortress. The boat didn’t go far, but we got to ask our guide, Nemanja, a zillion questions. And it’s always nice getting a perspective of a city from the water.

Click here to get $10 off any Viator tour, including the Belgrade Boat Tour. Moskova Hotel in BelgradeUmbrella shade in Belgrade, SerbiaViator Tour boat cruise on Danube and Sava RiversView of the Belgrade Fortress from the Danube River cruise


Zagreb, Croatia
Cathedral overlook in Zagreb, Croatia

The next day we boarded the train to Zagreb, Croatia with plenty of snacks and no tuna fish. It was another lovely ride; this time past fields of corn and sunflowers, rolling hills, and green as far as we could see.

We spent three nights in Zagreb. When we left the United States I hardly knew anything about Zagreb and now we have been there twice. First for the Advent Market in December (Best European Christmas Market 2016 and 2017) and now in summer. Funny where life takes you.

Zagreb is a very cool city. Ten degrees cooler than Belgrade, in fact. On our first full day we took a free walking tour with Free Spirit to get an overview of the city. We didn’t do much other than ice skate and explore the Advent Market last time we were there, so it was nice to get a better feel for the city’s history.

After the tour and lunch we split up. Dorel and the girls went to the Museum of Broken Relationships, Henry and the boys went to the Museum of Torture, and I (looking for something a little more uplifting than either of those ;)) went to the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art.

Day two in Zagreb found us walking around the “Lenuci’s Horseshoe,” a U-shaped area of parks and a botanic garden. There was a festival going on in one of the parks, but mostly we wandered about taking in the greenery and flowers and looking for food for the kids. Between the two days, it was a nice balance of city and park, hardscape and greenscape.

The next day, we boarded a train for Salzburg and Dorel and the girls got a train to Vienna to continue their Europe tour.Traditional costumes at a festival in Zagreb, Croatia

Turtle mural in Zagreb, CroatiaNaive art in Zagreb CroatiaZagreb botanic gardens


Where We Are Now
Queen Anne's Lace and Austrian mountains

Now, we are in Tirol, Austria for a month. We originally wanted to go back to the part of Bavaria we stayed in in December and January, but we couldn’t find an affordable place to rent for a month. We waited way too long to look, so that was good lesson on making summer reservations EARLY.

Turns out that our Austrian apartment is in just as beautiful a spot. We absolutely love Austria. The mountains are beckoning.Kirchberg in Tirol


What’s Next

Everyone wants to know what’s next in our long term travel plans.

  • August – Sweden
  • September – Ireland
  • October – Montana

And then what? We really don’t know. We have definite housing in Livingston through the middle of January, with the possibility of extending it a few more months. We want to find a way to keep traveling, but also be home sometimes. We don’t know what that will look like, yet.

I want it all – travel, adventure, home, community…. a reasonable income, health insurance, dark chocolate and Earl Gray tea. I’ll let you know when I get that figured out.


Plan Your Own Trip



The last two weeks of full time travel have taken us from Montenegro to Belgrade, Serbia, to Zagreb, Croatia, and finally to Tirol, Austria!Disclosure Policy 

22 thoughts on “From Montenegro to Austria (via Serbia and Croatia)

  1. nicki coble

    Great update and sharing you unbeliveable journey us all~~
    Even with all my travel I realize how little of the world I have seen and like you know nothing of the countries you just came from. How beautiful and inviting. I miss you all and will be glad to get you back to the US if only for a few months.
    Mom

    1. Mel Post author

      It’s a big world, isn’t it? Even after spending almost a year in Europe, there are so many places we wish we could get to in this little section of the planet.

  2. Edith H Conyers

    Oh goodness this sounds so wonderful and I felt I was right with you. Thanks so much for the wonderful journey-logs which I have so enjoyed!! Hoping to see you in Ireland.

  3. Jackie

    So cool to see a family travelling and discovering new places together, I’m a mom to 2 year old toddler and been travelling with us since she’s 2 months old! We are blessed to be able too! Enjoy every moment and be grateful all the time. Xoxo, jackie

    1. Mel Post author

      Awesome that you are traveling with a little one! I have to say one of the best things about traveling with older kids is that they carry their own stuff 😉 and can hike! We did a lot of trips with the boys when they were tiny, too, and I think it helped them become the awesome travelers they are today.

  4. CJ Haughey

    Beautiful pics and I really enjoyed that tale of how Montenegro came to be!
    Are the museum of broken relationships and the museum of torture in the same building? They sound related 🙂
    Also, you’re going to be in Ireland in September, same as me! Perhaps I’ll see you for a Guinness somewhere!

    1. Mel Post author

      Those museums do sound related! But, not in the same building :). I’d love to get together in Ireland — let’s stay in touch!

  5. Sara Essop

    You are living the life I dream of :-). I love train travel, exploring beautiful less-explored countries and living in a different city every month. Enjoy the rest of your amazing adventures.

  6. Mimi

    I have been wanting to go to this region for a while now and have been trying to plan a Balkan trip. But I have been a bit intimidated by the region. So thank you for posting this. It will definitely help me plan that trip, hopefully soon!

    1. Mel Post author

      I think the Balkans can be intimidating. Partly because some of us know it mainly from the Balkans wars, partly because most of the region (other than Croatia and Slovenia) can be hard to find good information on. I think that is changing, though, and once you get there, it’s an outstanding place to visit!

  7. Umberta

    What a great adventure this long trip your doing! Tyrol is beautiful! On the other side i don’t know all the other places you visited. I particularly like Zagreb, seeing your pictures!

    1. Mel Post author

      Zagreb is such a cool city. It’s small and easy to get around on foot and there are so many interesting things to see. I highly recommend it!

  8. Valerie

    Saving the best for last. I would love to see more of Sweden, only had a short visit to Stockholm. Ireland is wonderful! My husband and I spent 2 weeks there, west coast where a car is a must. Can’t say enough nice things about it, great people. Then Montana, where our reps are doing there best to make sure we are all uninsured, sorry to vent. I know a blogger, Melissa Joulwon, who just moved to Prague, https://meljoulwan.com/2017/01/18/moving-prague/. She and he husband just received their one year visas, health insurance next up! Since you and Henry do freelance work, maybe you too could become expats, hmmm . . . Enjoy everyday of your adventure, you still have a big chunk left!

    Valerie

    1. Mel Post author

      Hi Valerie! I am super excited to get to Sweden (although these Alps are pretty captivating). Stockholm will be the first place this year that I’ve been to before. My mom and I took a trip to southern Sweden and Norway about 20 years ago. We have definitely looked into longterm visas.I don’t know what we will decide to do. I do love my friends and family in Montana and the US, and feel some obligation and desire to get back there and work on issues. We’ll see….

  9. Jing

    I’ve never traveled that long so reading through your journey is really something that greatly amazes me. Traveling with kids must have been an extra challenge but I’m sure this early exposure will make a huge positive difference in their lives. Good luck on your next travel adventure! 🙂

    1. Mel Post author

      In some ways, the kids are an extra challenge, but it a lot of ways they make the trip richer. And fortunately, ours are old enough to carry all their own stuff!

  10. Vicki Louise

    What an incredible journey you are on! Your previous destinations look like a great selection – and the ones you are heading too are just as exciting! And travel by train in Europe is the best – it’s so simple, clean and affordable!

    1. Mel Post author

      It is an incredible journey, indeed. And I’d agree, train travel is usually smooth and relaxing, this one leg was the exception!

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