Where do all these cars come from?

Vrboska is getting really busy this summer, and on an August weekend, it can be rather difficult to find anywhere to put the car. In the normal way, there’s wide open space in the pjaca next to the church, and all of us who live around here have plenty of choice. Ah, the heady days of summer. Driving back from a concert in Hvar late Saturday night, we found the only place left was our neighbour’s usual spot. Oh dear, that’s going to make us popular!

Parking in Vrboska

Parking in Vrboska

So where do all these visitors come from? On our last trip up to Zagreb, we entertained ourselves on the long drive by seeing how many different country plates we could identify. Well, it makes a change from playing “10 things beginning with…”, though that can be distinctly challenging in the bilingual version! Anyway, back to where all the summer traffic comes from – we counted 30 countries, including those we saw in Zagreb and on the way south again.

We noticed a few little quirks, for example on the way north, most of the foreigners came from Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Are the school holidays earlier there? For these were people already on their way home. Good decision! We didn’t see the vast hoards of Slovenes and Hungarians until we were on the way south again. The Poles all seem to drive big posh expensive cars, while the visitors from the Nordic countries tend to trail something behind, like a caravan or a boat.

Country number plates

Country number plates

In amongst the obvious ones were a few tricky country codes that we had to look up, particularly those from outside the EU with a different format. It’s not easy peering intently at a car’s number plate as you overtake! So we learned that LV = Latvia, LT =  Lithuania, UA = Ukraine, and our prize for the longest-distance drive is (ta-dah!) KZ = Kazakhstan! If you assume they set out from the capital city, Astana, that’s a journey of 5283 km or 2 days and 15 hours! Now, that’s pretty impressive!

Kazakhstan plate

The absolute longest distance was a New York registered car we saw on the road to Hvar. Google maps refused to offer me any kind of driving estimate for that journey, so I resorted to calculating port-to-port for a cargo vessel – 7071 km = 5172 nautical miles, which at 24 knots would be 9 days at sea.

New York plate!

New York plate!

For those interested, I’m including the full table below, with my estimates of how far these folks drove, and how long it took them. I used Google maps, and had to force it to assume no ferries for Italy or Spain, which would have shortened their journeys considerably. But since we saw these cars on the motorway, they clearly didn’t take the sea crossing to Split. I did, however, allow the GB car to take the ferry (or the tunnel)!

Here’s the list, in order of distance via road from their capital cities to Split, and Google’s estimate of traffic time, obviously different times of day would vary. Notice that the Macedonian must have had a particularly slow and winding road compared to, say, the Slovakian or Serbian who drove longer distances in much less time.

Code Country Capital Km to Split Hrs Mins
BiH Bosnia I Herzegovina Sarajevo 244 4 5
HR Croatia Zagreb 409 3 58
SLO Slovenia Ljubljana 468 4 57
H Hungary Budapest 750 6 52
A Austria Vienna 765 7 20
MK Macedonia Skopje 785 12 25
SK Slovakia Bratislava 788 7 54
SRB Serbia Belgrade 799 7 35 shortest dist = 536 = 7hr 49min
CZ Czech Republic Prague 1087 11 0
I Italy Rome 1148 11 30
CH Switzerland Bern 1234 12 57
RO Romania Bucharest 1389 16 2
L Luxembourg Luxembourg 1398 14 32
PL Poland Warsaw 1462 14 51
D Germany Berlin 1463 14 31
B Belgium Brussels 1676 16 14
F France Paris 1708 16 51
NL Netherlands Amsterdam 1716 16 59
DK Denmark Copenhagen 1863 20 16
UA Ukraine Kiev 1890 20 15
LT Lithuania Vilnius 1914 20 25
BY Belarus Minsk 1999 20 44
GB United Kingdom London 2015 21 7
LV Latvia Riga 2109 23 40
EST Estonia Tallinn 2419 26 0
E Spain Madrid 2452 24 0
N Norway Oslo 2457 26 0
S Sweden Stockholm 2508 26 0
FIN Finland Helsinki 2508 31 0
KZ Kazakhstan Astana 5283 63 0
USA United States America New York 7071 216 5172 nm at 24 kn = 9 days at sea

Update: I originally had London at 1246, but had failed to notice that was miles, not kilometres for journeys starting in the UK. Thank you Google Maps!

Now, we didn’t actually take photos of all the number plates, some of those examples are courtesy of Wikipedia, which was also a handy reference for decoding the various country codes.

Wikipedia: International vehicle registration codes

4 thoughts on “Where do all these cars come from?

  1. Bonjour , merci d ‘ avoir photographié la plaque de ma voiture 😉
    Il y a 10 jours j ‘ ai compté 50 voitures garés sur la place de l ‘ église Ste Marie à Vrboska et je me suis posé la question : Ou habitent tous les propriétaires de ces voitures ? Ne pourrait on pas trouver un autre endroit pour parquer ses voitures , et rendre sa beauté à cette place ?
    Sinon j ‘ aime beaucoup votre blog ,
    Olivier Schweitzer

    • Bonjour Olivier, vous faites un point excellent! Nous ne savons pas ou se trouve tous ces gens. Un petit village médiéval n’est pas très bien adapté aux voitures moderne. Nous preferons la pjaca en hiver!
      Je suis heureux que vous appréciez le blog, merci!

    • Now that would be pretty tricky to do within Croatia! The number of border crossings would be an entertaining addition to the blog. I guess the Fins would take first place with around 8, depending on route (Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia).

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