Ireland

Ireland

cliffsFor a foreigner to Ireland, I believe doing a road trip in Ireland is more for the abnormal traveler who tends to always make a point of avoiding the normal.  In my books, this is a very good thing!  You can be abnormal and unusual with me. :-)

There’s been several occurrences while driving down a quiet country road (which seems only wide enough for my little car) when all of a sudden a big semi truck comes barreling down right for me!  I have to scoot over just enough so the rock wall on one side is barely scraping my car and he just kisses the other side with a wave and the friendliest and more genuine smile I’ve ever seen. Wow.  green

There’s a different kind of beautiful in Ireland.  It’s the land of 40 shades of green… it’s the land where huge castles and towers will just suddenly appear and almost knock you off the road in shock!  It’s the land where they just…let it be.

TravelIt’s amazing when you turn a corner and are slammed with yet another amazing, distinct castle camouflaged within a brand new shade of green.

castleProbably my favorite places to stop along the way were the Ring of Kerry, Galway, County Clare and the Giants Causeway.

Provence and the Cote d’Azur

Provence and the Cote d’Azur

coteThere are so many beautiful places (and some downright rude places) I’ve experienced throughout France.  Probably the most beautiful road trip in my opinion is along Provence and the Cote d’Azur.  Now, before you hop on a flight to Paris and rent a car.. just hop onto YouTube or picture what Paris would be like in rush hour traffic.. think of all the crazy french road signs, the parisians swearing at you, your stress and anxiety levels blowing the roof off of your tiny car.  Yeah, thought so.  Instead, how about you fly into Paris or Nice and hop on a relaxing train to a smaller french town.  Here, you can rent a car much cheaper and spend some time in a relaxed sleepy town, getting to know the roads, the car and the road signs.

france-roadsI’ve been to Paris probably a dozen times and I’d still not recommend starting a road trip from there.  Instead, I’d suggest starting in Montpellier.  From here, the French back roads and country-side just have that, i don’t know.. je ne sais quoi about them.  From purple lavender fields to vineyards to sleepy towns where instead of hearing a pin drop, instead you hear the distinct sound of the cork popping on a lazy weekday afternoon in a small rural town bistro in the country.  Here’s a route you may follow:

- Start by hugging the coastline from Montpellier to Arles and through the beautiful Camargues (home of many wild birds and wild white horses!).  You can find a cute little B&B in Arles or keep moving and spend a night in Marseille.

provence2 – Arles to Marseille, stopping in some vineyards and a detour to discover the charms of Aix-en-Provence.

- Marseille to Nice is probably going to be the most scenic in my opinion.  It’s just an amazing sun-soaked coastline where you can stop many times along the way in some quaint little fishing villages or if you’re more into the glamour, just make a bee-line for St. Tropez and Cannes.provence

This would be the end of the line and a great home base to explore the area, including the small and crazy expensive country of Monaco.  Go find the massive casino.monaco

Carretera Austral Road

Carretera Austral Road

chile3Okay, this is such an amazing country which got a gorgeous slice off the edge of the continent.  There’s so many beautiful parts of Chile, from the Lakes Region to the Lava Flows, to the Andean mountain villages to the Atacama desert but one of the most talked about roads is…the Carretera Austral road.

Carretera_AustralYou can pick from a number of roads in this long country and it will still feel as though you’re driving through an endless postcard.  Remember, this is the driest place on the entire planet so load up on Agua but be sure not to bottom out as you will need some high wheel clearance on parts of this exotic road!

While on what to bring:

- cash

- extra gas  (you’re on your own out here!)

chileOkay, maybe you’re not entirely on your own.. you may run into some cute (and not so cute) Llamas.  Just remember if you’re going to give one a drink, make sure it’s from your water can and not the gas can.  Made that mistake once and damn did that little llama fly!  Road Runner 2.0 (with fur)

Some of the best stops to do along the way include, in order:

- the hot springs on the Channel

- National Park of Queulat.  Here’s a great place to end the day.. go for a hike to the Colgant Glaciar or rent a boat to explore the pristine lake.

laguna - After a few hours driving through the heat, I suggest you stop at Bosque encantado (The Enchanted Forest).  A reasonable hike will take you to the lagoon.  mmm  This is heavenly on a scorching hot and dry day.  It’s an ICY pool of glacier water. C’mon, I dare you.. take the plunge!

You’ve now made it over the Carretera Austral road to Coihaique.  Here you can unwind before considering if you want to go on another amazing road trip of the Lakes Region, head up to the Atacama desert (my pick!) or over into Argentina (mmm  Steak).

carretera-austral-chile-6

Grossglockner High Alpine Road

Grossglockner High Alpine Road

Grossglockner, high alpine road, beautiful road tripsThe Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse is a sublime mountain way in Austria. It begins in the inside of the village Bruck and heads off 48km to Heiligenblut in the south. The most ideal path to drive along is by motorbike and this is such a unique road in that it has stops for bikers which offer large safes for helmets and biking clothes complimentary.

There’s been over 50 million drivers who’ve driven this breathtaking high alpine roadway.  It doesn’t matter what time of year you want to drive this amazing route, you should always check the snow reports, road conditions and here’s some Live Cams for you.

Großglockner, summit, high alpine road, beautiful road tripsThere are 36 hair-pin turns which snake your way up the tallest mountain in all of Austria. You should definitely stop at the Großglockner summit where you can experience a massive glacier which is one of the longest in the Alps.  At the end of all these turns, you’ll feel as though you’ve just won the Grand Prix but your passengers may have either made good use of the ahem “sanitary bags” or you may just find them all in one big clump now.  Crack open the door and let in the fresh freezing glacier air. mmm

Have a blast, watch out for Bond racing down or up this windy road.  Check out the national parks, stone mansions, cable cars, vintage cars racing and motorbikes everywhere.

grossglockner-hochalpenstrasse