Silent Highways, Spirited Adventures: Rediscovering Europe with an Electric Pulse
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Part I: The Croatian Prelude (2021)

Berlin to Rovinj - A Journey of Discovery and Learning
In 2021, I embarked on a road trip from Berlin to Croatia that would shape my perception of long-distance electric vehicle (EV) travel. A novice at best in the world of electric vehicles back then, I took to the road in "Olaf" (our Standard Range Tesla Model 3 named by my kids after the goofy snowman), and an enthusiastic curiosity to explore and sample the hype of electric vehicles. A week or two before my inaugural long-haul on an EV, I carefully planned stops and always had potential bottlenecks along the way that could potentially derail or set our timing off.

The German Autobahn - A Charging Challenge
Navigating Germany's iconic autobahn, with its generous speed limits, meant frequent charging stops every 200km. A cautious adventurer then, the thought of the battery dropping below 20% was a continuous whisper of anxiety. Yet, with each stop, the whisper quieted. A rhythm was found, a confidence built. You start questioning whether or not going more than 150 kmh is really necessary. But of course, you’d still sneak in a couple minutes of going 200 for good old times.

Our first roadtrip EV companion. This Tesla Model 3 accompanied us from Berlin to Rovijn in 2021. © Andrew Santos

Croatia - The Land of Beauty and Charging Limitations
Upon reaching Croatia, the journey brought the first twist I was already expecting while planning the trip. Superchargers were scarce at the time, leading us to rely on our hotel's free charging stations in Rovinj. In a land so breathtakingly beautiful, this limitation became an adventure in itself, barely allowing us to explore nearby Pula and back on a single charge.

On the flip side, Slovenia, with its growing Supercharger network, was a pleasant surprise, making the drive through Ljubljana, Bled, and back to our first stop in Regensburg a smooth sail. And indeed, since 2021, Slovenia has continued to enhance its EV infrastructure, making it a model for other countries to follow. That 2021 road trip was more than a vacation; it was a learning curve, an inspiration that left me yearning for more.

Part II: The Italian Odyssey (2023)

Two Years Later - A New Adventure Beckons
After two years of waiting, filled with visits to friends and family across the globe and a yearning to reduce our environmental impact, the time was ripe for another road adventure. Our travels had taken us afar the previous year, boarding flights to the US and the Philippines. But this year, with the memories of those airplane flights weighing on our eco-conscious minds, the road seemed the right way to tread. Italy was calling, and we were ready.

From Berlin to Bolzano - A Ride Through the Alps
Our itinerary was simple yet breathtaking. The journey began in Berlin, a brief stop in Austria, and a drive through the mesmerizing Alps. Our overnight halt in Austria's Schloss Mariastein offered respite for the kids and a chance to explore a hidden gem. Our 2023 Tesla Model Y became not just a vehicle, but a companion in exploration. The drive through the Alps, descending into Bolzano, made more so by the heavy rains painting the mountains and valleys with shades of mystery. Pictures that remain etched in memory.

The Tesla Supercharger in Langkampfen, Austria provided the most epic of views. © Andrew Santos

Italy - A Symphony of Culture, Cuisine, and Technology
Italy embraced us with open arms. The warm weather and the historic routes from Parma to Tirrenia made for a gorgeous backdrop as we are introduced to our first highways in the heart of Italy with our state-of-the-art EV technology. The 2023 Model Y was, in many ways, a revelation. "Lucy" as named by my kids after the catchy Beatles tune "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", provided more range, more space, and more convenience. Its compatibility with the Supercharger network has always been its greatest appeal and its software was its proverbial crown. Imagine the Apple ecosystem—it simply works. Consistently and effectively.

Italy, with its sun-kissed landscapes and historic cities, was a joy to explore. Charging, while slightly more expensive with local providers like Enel X, wasn’t a challenge. Meandering through Pisa and Lucca, soaking in their rich histories, was an experience of a lifetime. And as we drove northward, halts in Florence and Venice offered a delightful blend of art, culture, and history—reminding us that two weeks of beach relaxation can be effectively blended in with a deep dive into civilization’s heart.

No roads here, but our EV brought us all the way to Venice. © Andrew Santos

The Road Ahead
The era of concern over long road trips with EVs in Western Europe has come to an end. However, as I was reading up on a handful of EV news during my trip, it was clear that we still have a long way to go. Outside the EV community bubble, the judges and juries are still at work. The opinion that EVs are too expensive, have steep depreciation and poor infrastructure are topics manufacturers, regulators and governments need to address in order to improve the public’s perception.

But make no mistake, taking such trips with the right equipment will make anyone become a believe that it’s a viable, enjoyable, and responsible way to travel, especially for families who share a love for exploration, culture, and sustainability. As for me, the road continues to beckon, be it to Ireland, Spain, or beyond. The journey has only just begun, and the horizon is filled with promise. This long-range road trip with an electric car was more than a holiday; it was a testament to human ingenuity, a celebration of culture, and a step towards a future where technology and nature exist in harmony.

A view of the alps from Lucy’s cockpit. © Andrew Santos

Photos courtesy of Andrew Santos & MOTION Magazine.