The journeys end

December 7, 2008

Day 51: 6 December.

We booked in at the embarkation point at the ferry port and they managed to get us on an earlier ferry, which departed at 0230. The service from P&O was excellent and they parked us next to a lift on the boat to make it easy for Carol to go on the upper decks where it was more hospitable and certainly warmer. What I hadn’t realised of course was that I could then take her round the duty free shops to spend even more of my money.

All aboard. Next stop Blighty

All aboard. Next stop Blighty

The trip across the channel was uneventful, although encountering a rougher sea journey and we arrived back in Dover at about 0400 and then less one hour for time gained. We drove for a while and settled to rest at one of our Motorway service stations and took up some well earned sleep.

Before I get to the end, the question arises as to how I summarise this adventure. It is probably the most difficult part of any report I have posted. The highlight for us was of course to have the time with Lisa, Steve and George who had been such wonderful hosts in making us so welcome and entertained. The time with them went far too quickly for us and no sooner had we arrived than it was time to leave. We shall miss them all and look forward to our next get together.

We have visited 16 different countries and some of them twice during the journey of almost 8000 miles, many and varied over night stopping places and meeting some wonderful people throughout our unrepeatable experience. I think I reflected at one stage about leaving international relations to the ordinary people. It certainly worked for us and thanks to everyone who gave hospitality and friendliness in endless quantities. We had many great opportunities to see those things you might only read about, the towns and villages and not to forget visiting my uncle’s war grave in a most beautiful setting.

In the planning stage so much help and good advice was received from many people including Alan Poulter, and Steve Goodson, both of whom had undertaken a similar journey in the past.

The offers from Tom in Turkey and Robert and Sue from Folkestone who we met in Cyprus were all appreciated. Not forgetting Don Madge from the blog observations who gave us some great tips as we travelled.

Family and friends for all your support in the lead up to the event and the support we received throughout our time away.

A very special mention to Shirley and Brian who have done so much for us in the preparation right up to the time of departure, during the journey both outward and return (particularly progress plotting) and on our return to Derby.

While you are taking pictures Brian this is the 15th I have up and down these stairs

While you are taking pictures Brian this is the 15th time I have up and down these stairs

Also very special thanks to Lisa, Steve and George who gave us the motivation to do it and who looked after so well.

Thanks for having us

Thanks for having us

We have been so lucky for all of this support and we shall always be grateful.

Thanks must go to all the Blog followers and for the supportive and fun comments you have made throughout.

In summary then this has been an experience of immense pleasure and an opportunity to undertake a challenge we would never have contemplated under normal circumstances. We shall reflect on this for some considerable time to come in sharing the adventure with anyone who has the patience to sit and listen. There is the task of sorting and cataloguing over 5500 photographs and about an hour of video.

So here we are back in Derby with the Motor home parked up for a well earned rest while we consider the next adventure!!!

Resting at last

Resting at last

Carol and Roland

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Short trip to Calais

December 6, 2008

Day 50: 5 December.

We didn’t get much chance to assess the camp site last night other than to think it was OK and we had all we needed. This morning I took the opportunity for a quick look round and it is a very large site with many amenities and facilities to suit the Caravan owner and the Motor home travellers.

Just another camp Site?

Just another camp Site?

Leaving the site at about 1100 it would be one of our easier travel periods as our journey was to end in Calais. We planned to travel along the coast road from Westerne-Bad ( Bad means by the coast – just showing off here) to Dunkirk and then to Calais. Along the way we came across an extensive marina, housing many boats of all shapes and sizes along the coast road in Belgium.

Would you buy a boat from this yard

Would you buy a boat from this yard

We started off well travelling through some pleasant coastal villages until; yes you might have guessed it we faced another road closure. To our disappointment the detour took us to the Autobahn along which we had to travel to Dunkirk. We entered France at 1420 following the detour that had been prescribed.

A tour of Dunkirk discovered many interesting buildings showing some creative architecture. The town was very much a mixture of old and new and there must have been a European lake of white paint at some time because it was used in Dunkirk to paint pedestrian crossings at significant frequency through the town. The town whilst busy with traffic seemed relatively devoid of people. It became apparent that along the roads we travelled every establishment seemed to be closed or closing. Even the funfair was dormant.

Sorry no rides today

Sorry no rides today

Moving away from Dunkirk towards Calais we passed serenely along the motorway the fairly short distance to the port. I am afraid I have just had to do it and here is my final sunset from this fantastic journey.

The time of arrival at Calais was around 1730 so we thought a look round the town and somewhere to stop for our last few supplies would be a good use of time. The town itself was very busy and although a dull day there was plenty of people all scurrying around to complete there shopping.

We arrived at the ferry port good and early so that we could do some cleaning, eat some food and have a relaxing evening before boarding. Before the relaxation bit I considered that a check over the Motor home would be in order as i didn’t want it to feel neglected after all the miles it had taken us safely and hospitably. We had experienced on some road humps and sharp slopes off the road something scraping underneath. On examination I discovered that the number plate flap was loose on its hinges and would require a temporary repair before completing our journey. Behind the flap a piece of metal had come loose, I suspect from the vibration and holes and humps we had traversed. The torch was required to see what surgery would be needed to hold the situation until a full repair could be completed. To my amazement and I would have to say to my sense of humour I discovered that we had lost the spare wheel.

Spare wheel needed -any offers considered

Spare wheel needed -any offers considered

Now we had two choices, either to return to the Troodos Mountains, where I could only think we had lost it or to return home and then resolve the matter. I discussed the situation with Carol and she felt quite firmly that only one solution would work. So we shall be home as planned.

So now we are just waiting at Calais with spring cleaning and appropriate use of some string and creative thinking.

I will give a final report over the weekend to try and summarise what this whole adventure has been like. We are looking forward to seeing and hearing from everyone and of course checking all post and messages and simply returning to normal life.

Carol and Roland

Next stop Belgium

December 5, 2008

Day 49: 4 December.

The mini campsite had received a significant snowfall by 0400 in the night and we wondered what it would look like in the morning. To our surprise when we woke the snow had all cleared thanks to an adequate supply of rain. Having settled our accommodation bill with the Farmer he kindly gave us directions to the road for Antwerp. We left the site and followed carefully his directions as it was some distance from the main road. This was to prove not to be the greatest start to our day as the directions we received did not appear to be compatible with where we were going. The result was that we saw more of Holland than we anticipated including the village of Knegsel which we were happy to see behind with the commonly expected avenue of trees.

On the road again

On the road again

After travelling in a rather large geographical loop we were back on track and heading for Antwerp. We travelled through Oostlebeers, Middlebeers and places with no beers.

On approach to Rousel and the border we passed through some more interesting habitats and crossed a number of rivers and very large Canals being navigated by craft of all sizes with cargoes that were very varied.

Any scrap metal sir!!!

Any scrap metal sir!!!

We arrived at the town of Rousel where we would link up with the main road to Antwerp. We were within 50 yards of the junction and someone had decided road works were needed and the junction was closed. We were then subject to a diversion and after half an hour we passed the road that had been closed preventing our direct access to the N12 to Antwerp.

These things are sent to try us

These things are sent to try us

Having navigated the diversion and adding our early morning delays I had to resign once more to using the autobahn to make up for lost time and miles. Unfortunately this meant that a visit to Antwerp would be postponed for another time and we would make directly for Ostend where we planned to spend the night. We entered Belgium at 1300 on the dot and the only way we knew this to be true was the welcome sign to Belgium. The weather had by now taken a turn for the worse with heavy rain; Carol was resting so pictures were limited for this stage of the journey. The main road continued to receive my close attention and as you can see from the picture below, driving conditions were less than perfect.

Thought I was on the M25 for a moment

Thought I was on the M25 for a moment

We arrived at Ostend by 1500 and I parked on the edge of town near the coast to have a break. I knew we were getting closer to home as a traffic Warden knocked on the window and asked me to produce and display the Disabled badge for the car. I was taking some pictures and to restore my faith in human nature a young lady and her mum undertook a spontaneous pose for the camera. With a grand smile and a wave they continued on their way.

Welcome to Belgium

Welcome to Belgium

Turning our attention now to the coast road we concentrated on finding a suitable place to stay. A lot of the campsites were closed for the winter but we found a very hospitable site at Westende-Bad a few miles west of Ostend.

Here we have settled for the night and tomorrow will be a steady drive towards Calais arriving for book in for the Ferry during the evening.

Carol and Roland

A walk in the Forest

December 5, 2008

Day 48: 3 December.

We started our day at the Motor home Park at an easy pace as the night had been cold with some snow and a quite frosty morning. The Motor home parks in Germany are a great idea and can be found in many towns across the country. The replacement gas arrangement works very well and a good night’s sleep was achieved.

We left the town of Rees at 1045 to begin the fairly short trek to the Reichswald Forest which is not far from the Dutch border which we shall cross during the day. Many of the roundabouts on the roads in Germany contained a wide variety of modern sculptures and this one was one of the most outstanding of those we have seen

Decor on the Roundabout

Decor on the Roundabout

We travelled along the E9 through much agricultural land frequently populated with the large birds of Prey that we had seen over the passing miles. The roads were often very straight and uniformly lined with trees on each side extending into infinity and these were great to drive down and be able to see more of the scenery around us.

Before we got to the location for the war graves we crossed the river Rheine. This was a very wide river with much boating activity from small craft to massive working Barges. The river was crossed over a modern suspension bridge which was simple and functional and blended well into the environment.

Crossing the Rheine

Crossing the Rheine

Continuing south west we passed through Kalkar, a small sleepy town with a good mixture of pleasant new buildings contrasted with older architecture. One householder did much cheer up the road user by painting a smiley on the satellite dish adorning the roof of the house.

Cheering up the passers by

Cheering up the passers by

We soon would catch up with another Motor home, the number of which had increased as we travelled across Germany. You could say we were in a convoy. It was however short lived as the one in front turned off to stay at a sign posted camp site.

We travelled from Kalkar to Kleve where we would turn towards the border with Holland In order to reach the war graves which would be found on this road before the border. We arrived at the Reichswald Forest in the early afternoon to find the place in an isolated area and empty of people.

team-cyprus-day-48-077

Although it was cold Carol and I took a tour of the site and pushing the wheelchair was no mean task over the grassy surface. We found the grave of my uncle and then carol was cold so she went back to the car to get warm. I returned to walk around and capture some images of the site as we would no doubt not return here. It had been an ambition of mine ever since my mother spoke to me as a child of her brother. Whilst we were there a small group of people arrived and one of them came across to ask if I was waiting for them. I replied that I was visiting to find a grave. The chap then apologised and introduced himself as Rory Bremner. We chatted a lot about the site and looked around it together.

After spending a couple of hours here we needed to move o n and cross the border into Holland. It was much closer than we had expected and we only knew we had crossed it when we found the welcome sign facing us in Holland. The next sign was to see the first of many traditional Windmills, one of which was working as we drove.

Have you seen Windy Miller?

Have you seen Windy Miller?

We would reach Eindhoven to complete our day of travel and find somewhere to stay. The welcome Camping sign came into view and we duly arrived within a short time at the entrance. The receptionist met and we felt optimistic that first time lucky today. She however shattered our hope by telling us that all camping sites in Holland closed on the 1st October. She directed to a farm where what is known locally as a mini campsite on a farm would probably be open. Within 10 minutes the farm emerged on our right with a camping sign outside. We entered and were met by the Farmer who welcomed us and located on his farm for the night with an electricity supply.

Another satisfying day with a long standing ambition achieved.

Good night all

Carol and Roland

7000 Miles and still going

December 3, 2008

Day 47: 2 December. Destination Dutch Border

We have been trying to replace our empty gas cylinder in every European country we have been in and it has been an impossible task. Last night, despite very careful use we ran out of gas completely. With this in mind and losing the ability to cook and have some heat we prepared for a night of quilt protection and warmth. Although we had some electricity the small fan heater we carry developed a fault and the choice was to try and fix it or get some sleep. The latter was opted for as it is now late and I had only just finished yesterdays report.

A good sleep was had considering the circumstances and we were both awake just after 0400. We discussed our options and decided that as we were behind from yesterday we would venture forth and stop for Breakfast somewhere that I could upload the reports. We left the motor home stop at 0500 and soon the engine and heating system was keeping us admirably warm. Stopping for breakfast at a well known fast food outlet carol indulged in a cooked breakfast German Mac style, while I sat and did the missing reports, whilst drinking a large cup of fresh orange juice. Having completed that task and also the daily work on our BPA membership we were ready to move on.

Our first early morning welcome came from the town of Hameln. This was some distance from Hildesheim where we had stayed last night and like ourselves there were some early morning risers going about their business. The observant amongst you will have noticed the error in last night’s report referring to our stay in Hameln. (Apologies for the confusion) After about 7000 miles of driving so far I guess I would be allowed a few errors.

An early welcome

An early welcome

The dawn started to break at around 0630 and by 0700 we were entering Hameln town where we were to stop for breakfast. We took a two hour break here and completed all I needed to do so that we could concentrate on making best possible progress.

Our next section of the journey took us along the E65 to Mindern and then on to Osnabruck passing through many villages including Coppenbrugge and Lockhausen for those of you who fancy a bit of German town surfing. Not far from Osnabruck we found Father Christmas looking inflated on the side of the road where Christmas trees could be purchased. (Look at the size of the trees in the picture)

Big Father Christmas - little trees

Big Father Christmas - little trees

Both Mindern and Osnabruck we drove through and saw the same diverse structures and architecture from the old the new. We arrived at Osnabruck at around 1230 and had caught up remarkably well. We might even find some gas and have a stopping time that might be considered civilised. Between Osnabruck and Rheine we found a place that specialised in Motor homes and Caravans. Optimistic we would be able to get some gas I went to enter the shop only to discover that the opening hours were 1800 to 2000 every day. (Well some you win and some you lose)

The next port of call would be Rheine and this involved my agreement to use the motorway. Before we left Rheine the gas crisis was resolved although not simply. A quick dash up the A30 without many images being captured we arrive at our junction to leave the motorway and travel South West to Ahaus on the E70. This was a lovely town and was noticeably very well looked after with clean streets and a lot of effort making is fun for Christmas.

Only 20 shopping days left then

Only 20 shopping days left then

Our planned journey from Ahaus would have taken us to Wesel, but unfortunately the E37 had been closed and a rethink was needed. An assessment on the map gave us the opportunity to divert through some small villages to see more of rural Germany. Carol was resting at this time and so relied on my good judgement and sense of direction to get us around the problem. Driving to a small town called Bocholt was a treat indeed seeing many places on the way. Our entry into Bocholt produced a fascinating structure on the first roundabout approaching the town.

Through Brocholt onto Rees and toward Kleve would where we should seek a nights’ accommodation at a camp site or not. As we entered Rees Carol’s sharp vision detected a sign for Motor home parking.

This was conveniently placed in the town and only a short distance from a large supermarket. Having stocked up we proceeded to park at a convenient supply of electricity for the small sum of possibly 2 Euros for the night. Then it was change the gas regulator, install the new cylinders and heat and food could then both be generated.

Parked for the night

Gas sorted then


A successful day overall and we are now only a short distance from the Reichswald Forest where there is a War graves cemetery. We shall visit this tomorrow and find the grave of my Uncle who was a Pilot being shot down in the area in 1945. I hope to learn more about him from the records held at the cemetery.

So goodnight to you all and there will more tomorrow when we cross into Holland.

Carol and Roland

Going West

December 2, 2008

Day 46: 1 December. Go West Young Man

This morning the first job (After making a hot drink) was to get some photographs of the riverside Camp site we stayed at last night. The place belongs to a Boating Club and although there were not many signs of boating the club house during yesterday evening had been well attended. Our hosts arrived to start their day at about 0900 and we started to prepare for our journey for today. Our hosts wished us a good day and thanking them for their hospitality.

Overnight Hosts

Overnight Hosts

We primed the engine and chugged off in a Northerly direction from Bernburg to the first town we would arrive at called Magdeburg. We arrived at about 1100 and managed to take a tour of the town. I would describe it as a standard town with some interesting features.

During this stage of the journey we observed in significant numbers large birds of prey. They were however reluctant to allow photography, but Carol did very well and captured this image of one at the top of a tree.

Find the Bird

Find the Bird

From Magdeburg we turned west to head for Braunschweig, a much larger town situated at the confluence of several of the motorways. We managed to negotiate through the town and kept clear of the motorways. The town contained may differences in the architecture and it was a very busy place with plenty to see.

We left Braunschweig very peacefully and along the E1 to Hildenscheim. Here we decided to stop for some lunch before moving on. Some distance to the West we found that our road had been closed and we were forced to turn right to go north. Unfortunately when road closures occur the German authorities do like to set their motorist the task of getting back to their route without the aid of diversionary signs. We were able to rejoin our road after only a few kilometres and this was mostly achieved by observation and good guesswork.

The road took us through much open agricultural land with large stocks of animal winter feed stored under large tarpaulin sheets. Every now and then something different would appear and the Windmill below which had been carefully restored is a good example of things we saw.

could you live here?

could you live here?

Hildenscheim

Hildenscheim

although smaller than Braunschweig produced a town with more traditional character. The use of modern buildings and noticeable modern business complexes were to be found. Even McDonalds and Subway had marked their presence here with much advertising on the approach.

Leaving Hildenscheim and travelling West to Hamien was at that time of the day when it was turning dark. I had driven for 6 hours and decided that I was motivated to find somewhere to stay. At about 10 kilometres from Hamien was the noticeable sign for caravan and camping. Turning left from the E1 we needed to travel only 2 or 3 kilometres to enter a small town where a dedicated area for Motor home overnight stays had been established. Electricity supply was available through the use of slot meters and for 50 cents several hours of electricity was at our disposal. This is a great idea and perhaps it would do well in the UK

Pic parking and electric socket

We have had difficulty in being able to find compatible gas cylinders to replace our empty one and to our dismay the current cylinder ran out of gas. So tomorrows challenge is to get to our destination in the Reinhault forest near Kleve,

Another 170 miles behind us and camping about 10 Kilometres east of Hamien will provide us with the rest before tomorrow’s marathon drive.

Carol and Roland

Dresden To Madgeburgh

December 2, 2008

Day 45: 30 November – Dresden to Madgeburg
Firstly a thank you is due for all the very supportive comments we have received on the BLOG. They have all been encouraging and kept us going over the long days. Emma comments referring to our European health cards and the worldwide structure of “Help the Aged” was a humorous delight. I will pass that thought on Carol for you Emma as she receives a state pension and can have a bus pass.
Today has been a slow getaway as the motor home was extremely reluctant to start, due primarily to the cold weather. Radical action was needed and a trip to find some assistance became necessary as we were the only ones left on the Campsite. I returned after a short time having found a recovery and repair vehicle in the local town. He duly returned me to the site and tried to start the vehicle with a slave battery. Without success he engaged the use of a magic spray which when applied saw the engine come to life and splutter into power mode. The engineer said that I must have weak Glow Plugs to which I replied they had served me well for many years.
So back on the road again and in order to try and make up some lost ground we would divide our travel between the use of the Autobahn and the more rural roads. The route we had planned would take to Leipzig and then to Halle and then to Madgedeburg where we shall turn West towards Hanover.
As we thought the Autobahn part of our journey did not create a great of satisfaction, although some of the distant scenery was very pleasant. Leipzig had to be by passed in order to keep up with our plan to get to Halle.

After several hours on the A14 Halle was finally in our sights. We discovered the location of a night stop in Aken which is North East of Halle and not far from Dessau. To reach Aken we took a country route and this allowed us to visit several small towns and villages on our way to the destination. These places were very different and offered a variety of buildings and interesting features. We suddenly came to an area where there were many fields of fruit trees standing in well ordered rows with much of the harvest still on the trees.

Apple trees and straight lines

Apple trees and straight lines

We found the camp site set in a forest surrounding and although it was open for business we could not find anyone to assist and the barrier was firmly secured. Not to be defeated we studied the map to guess the next option we had in the hope that something would appear. A local resident tapped on the window asking if he could help. He very quickly reassured us that we should travel to Bernburg where there are camp sites although he wasn’t sure where exactly. Another cross country challenge ahead we travelled the 15 Kilometres to Bernburg. On this quiet road we arrived at a rail crossing with lights flashing red in front of us. To our amazement and delight the train came through the crossing and stopped at the station of Sachdendorf where there seemed to be only a very small population.

A train to somewhere

A train to somewhere

Bernburg is quite a large town and after much searching and asking for local knowledge and directions we finally arrived at our home for the night. It is now pretty dark and late, but we have landed on a campsite that is officially closed but the people who were in the bar offered to let us stay and also gave us an electricity supply. Connected up and settled in we would soon be warm and settle for the night. Time then to complete today’s report and this is where we are staying tonight.

The days end

The days end

Take good care
Carol and Roland

Day 44 – Dresden

November 29, 2008

Day 44: 29 November – The change was good

We woke this morning to an overnight fall of snow and although not too heavy achieved a white blanket across the campsite. As you might imagine there are not too many people braving these temperatures and the elements to enjoy some time on a snow covered camp site. I am pleased to report though that there are such people other than us. There were two caravanners and another camper similar to ours. The site itself is set in a woodland area only 1 kilometre from the main road and the facilities were very good. We bid farewell to the very pleasant receptionist (Valerie) and she wished us a pleasant and safe journey. (Well it is better than “Have a nice day”!!!)

Without being rushed we prepared for the day’s journey, identifying where we would be going and listing the towns and villages we would see. With Sedmihorky now behind us we rolled along the E 422 travelling North West to our next destination Liberec. The town was very much a mixture of life ranging from the casino to the very old housing scattered around. Some of the architecture and house design certainly made a place of much contrast.

Room with a view

Room with a view

The road took us through the open country where the snowy scenes were a joy to see. We came to a small village called Jablonne Podiestedi. Here, life was very quiet and largely agricultural and people lived in moderate homes from the outside and the landscape would vary from a few picturesque Christmas trees planted at random to the wider scenes of the open country and distant mountains.

the bigger picture

the bigger picture

Making good progress we approached the town of Ceska Kamenice, which from the distance was much larger than anywhere we had seen in the previous 60 Kilometres. We watched with anticipation to see what secrets this town would hold for us. We were certainly not disappointed to have selected this route because the town was steeped in lovely buildings and a fascinating town centre.

Ceska Kaminece

Ceska Kaminece

We turned away from the main road at this town to witness some more of the smaller villages on our way to the border with Germany. The road was narrow and climbed consistently opening up some wonderful scenes and we stopped often to capture the images and soak up the experience of seeing so much.

Great Scenes

Great Scenes

There is so much to say about the journey down this road to the border and to do so would take so much more space I would never end. So from working water wheels to road side markets and grand hotels we arrived at Schimilka and the border crossing. On approach to the border the town was very busy with market sellers taking up all the available space. We took some time to investigate many of the stalls and we were actively encouraged to part with as much of our money to please the stallholders. Having some Czech currency left over a few good purchases were made and we pressed on to the border crossing.

Buy my Wares

Buy my Wares

The border like previous borders was not manned and a simple passage through was made. Our next task was to travel towards Dresden and look out for a camp site. There were a good number sign posted and we detoured to a few that seemed to be in lovely settings. Sadly each one we tried was closed for the winter. we decided to take a break for lunch at a parking area on the banks of a lovely river approaching about 10 Kilometres from Dresden. Lunch over and more pictures here is our riverside lunch stop.

Lunch by the river

Lunch by the river

We found another sign to a camp site fairly soon after which was up in the hills to the North. We ventured several kilometres to find the place not far from Pirna and when we got there it was idyllic set on the lower slopes of a mountain, but once again closed for the winter. We returned to the main road and drove with determined desire to achieve our goal. Stopping at a Petrol Station to enquire about local Camping sites we were directed to our final destination for the night.

This evening was to be relaxing but on checking the car I found a fault on the rear lights. On investigation I discovered that some of the wiring had shorted out and burned the cable. (we had smelled some burning earlier but convinced ourselves it was coming from outside)

My early evening then would get out the tool kit and apply some electrical cable surgery and repair to last till until we get home. All repairs now complete and everything functioning normally.

I am off for some food and a well earned drink.

Goodnight to you all and we will have another go tomorrow.

Carol and Roland

Another change of Plan

November 28, 2008
Day 43: 28 November – Change of plan
We left our non- descript stop over at around 1000 this morning having agreed on the plan for the day. Last night we discussed visiting Prague but the route involved mostly motorway and this could be pretty uninteresting. Reviewing our options we decided to give Prague a miss and travel North West across the Czech Republic and work our way towards Dresden. The route would take us through mostly open country on the E442 to Hradec Kravlov and Liburec where we turn west to travel to the German border. A steady journey was decided upon and in the mid afternoon we would look for a campsite on which to be resident for the night. Leaving our non-descript stop over to a lovely sunrise we commenced our revised route and fortunately the stopover was on the main road we needed to travel on.

The sunrise lifting over the building

The sunrise lifting over the building

The morning was bitterly cold and the usual reluctance from the vehicle to start was encountered. However with patience and the support of the booster battery she resigned to the pressure and burst into life.

Lets have some action please

Lets have some action please

We passed through a town called Vysoki Meto and in one picture it sported the traditional tower some housing and yes even a speed camera.

Even a speed camera

We visited a number of places during the day, each with their own character and wide range between the old and the new. The land we have seen today is largely agricultural and much work has been done to get the best from it. Along this road we found that all day Barbecues were open with smoking grills on the side of the road and we even came across an advertising sign for a zoo in what was apparently in a completely non residential area.

As we passed through Hradec Kralove some grand architecture formed the main focus to the town. It is a fairly large town with much development taking place and apart from some scattered new buildings and cosmetic changes to existing buildings we had the feeling that much of the original character has been retained.

   A A fine example
Stopping for lunch we moved forward towards Liberec and the time was here when would look for our camp site for the night. Our journey came to an end for the day at a small village called Sedmihorky which is only a few kilometres from Turnov
Another 120 miles completed and with washing to do and food to prepare I will leave you with that vision and show an image of the camp site tomorrow.
Carol and Roland

 

 

 

Leaving Slovakia

November 28, 2008
Day 42: 27 November – Slovakia to the Czech Republic
This morning I made a tour of the campsite and hotel complex at Dunadjska Streda where we had stayed last night. It was a place of some stature and contained in an area of 3-4 acres of tree planted land. In the grounds were three very large Thermal pools and I was amazed to find that two of them were habited by some very energetic people. Where I was walking round, adorning a heavy weight Jumper in a temperature of only 2 degrees C, whereas the people I was observing wore only swimming costumes. I was in some admiration of their courage and continued my tour doubting their sanity.

Time for a Swim

Time for a Swim

A number of extremely nice Chalets were scattered around the grounds but the main effort had been put into the hotel complex. I would estimate it had approximately 200 rooms, a restaurant and great fitness and social facilities; a great place to stay.

Having relaxed for a couple of hours it was time to depart and head for Bucharest for a look round before moving on to impose ourselves on the Czech Republic.

The road to Bratislava was often very straight and uninspiring and made finding interesting pictures to take quite a challenge. The landscape changed also as we travelled and in the early miles through Slovakia the land became much flatter with a significant amount of agriculture. The small towns we passed through were often marked by the presence of some large industrial complexes. We found these to be generally quiet and occasionally we would come to a small village where life appeared to be more of the style and pace I expected to see.

Village Life

Bratislava was soon upon us and looked impressive from the approach we made. We decided that with sufficient time on our hands we would go through the city centre and try to see some its life and features. There was much traffic and many people making up Bratislava and everyone was hurrying around, whilst the traffic would jockey for position in amongst the Trams. Drivers I found reacted in the same way as many inner city drivers I have encountered (Including some at home). I was often alerted to the risks when carol would observe with expression “watch out or he will hit you”.

The city itself was very dense with buildings and a major modernisation programme was underway. There were many large shopping complexes and even more large office blocks of very modern design. In amongst all of these developments some of the original architecture was preserved and made the town interesting for it stark contrasts of design and culture.

Bratislava

Away from the centre and into the suburbs we witnessed once more the concrete jungle of giant blocks of flats decorated with a multitude of satellite dishes and blankets of various coloured clothing hung out to dry. We had seen these structures dominating the landscape in many of the towns in most of the countries we had travelled. Whilst these were home homes for thousands of families it would be wonderful to see such large blots on the landscape disappear and restore the best of the features we had seen.

Away from Bratislava then and onwards to the border and we saw much of the same as we drove. Our journey would take north along one of the few Motorways we had seen or used towards a small place called Kuty and it would be hear that we would enter the Czech Republic. As we approached the border we found what we had expected with no border control and one individual lady staffing the booth where the required travel Vignette was purchased to allow us the use the Motorways and some main roads. As we left the Slovakian end and entered the Czech end there was a few building where money could be exchanged and purchases made. Apart from this the vast border area was devoid of people and activity

Border without guards

Border without guards

Having made the transition we continued on the motorway towards BRNO which is the first major town we would visit. This town we felt had more character than some places we had seen today and it was a busy and energetic place. Unfortunately we could not stay to long as light was reducing and we had to find somewhere to stay. We decided to travel north along the E461 towards the town of Hradec Kralove. After much enquiring regarding campsites we found the sign for one North of Svitavy. Turning off the main road with a sense of anticipation we found the campsite in a wooded area but alas it was closed and locked securely. We then returned to the main road and continued to look once more. We have ended today’s journey in a designated area called a MotoRest. It is in the grounds of a busy garage and we are preparing for the evening and a good night’s sleep.

Night at a Motorest

Night at a Motorest

We end our day having travelled 182 miles and staying as I have said on the E461 at ?? Holice
Carol and Roland
 

 

 

Tour of Budapest and on to Slovakia

November 26, 2008

Day 41: 26 November – Budapest to Slovakia

Today we have found some Internet access courtesy of the hotel where we are camping. thank you Brian for keeping everyone informed.

We left our camp site early this morning at the request of the camp site leader, who had been most helpful and we didn’t want to take advantage of his hospitality. The site is not one you would expect to find or even seek in an inner city area. It was located in a suburb of Budapest in a very nice wooded piece of land and it sported the facilities you might wish from a basic site.

haller camping -Budapest

haller camping -Budapest

First task today is to take a tour of Budapest to see some of the sights and architecture as recommended by Shirley and Brian. This we feel will be something of a challenge if the volume of traffic on our arrival yesterday is anything to judge the morning by. We were not to be disappointed and we took a worthy two hours to have a good look at the city. The buildings and statues both old and new were amazing, particularly the old with ornate mouldings and wonderfully domed and unusual features. Many photographs were taken and we have selected one that sums up what we have been privileged to see.

Great Architecture

Great Architecture

Leaving Budapest to the North West we head for a town called Gyor and our journey takes parallel with the border of Slovakia and along a vast river separating the two countries. Stopping several times to record the picturesque river and take in the atmosphere we would be satisfied just to cross the border tonight. From Gyor we turn north along the E575 to cross the border south of the first Slovakian town of Velky Meder. At the border the control was something we had not experienced to date and probably won’t again. The border controls were completely unattended and we drove without stopping from Hungary into Slovakia. The feeling of freedom in being able to do something like this was very good and I would wish to be more widespread.

Hello Slovakia

Hello Slovakia

An uneventful ride along the road to Velky Mera was encountered and we then turn north west again towards Bratislava. The day is closing in and so we decide for an early stop at the nearest camp site. We were directed to a place called Dunadjska Streda. There was nobody there to meet us so we got settled and waited for someone to arrive. During the early evening a gentleman duly turned up in his car and with difficulty for both of us it was established that we couldn’t stay as the camping was closed. He invited me to follow him to camp at another place. After a 10 minute drive we entered a wonderful hotel complex and directed to park inside and we were given access to electricity.

WI-FI in style

WI-FI in style

So more tomorrow internet access permitting

Carol and Roland

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Carol and Roland

New visitors to Hungary

November 26, 2008

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Day 40: 25 November – New visitors to Hungary

The random camp site we found for last night although entered by us in the dark was a good choice. On arrival we booked in with the reception and the night receptionist showed us to our parking space which as I said last night was very close to a lake. He duly connected us to the electricity, took the meter reading and promptly locked the access door to the supply cupboard. He had relieved of my passport for security of payment and told me I should settle my bill in the morning.

This morning we awoke to a wooded site and our first view was of the lake where some idle mallards were sat on the bank doing very little.

Eh up my Duck (Derbyshire Phrase0

Eh up my Duck (Derbyshire Phrase0

After completing the report for yesterday it was time to rise and explore. The site had a number of very nice Chalets dispersed among the trees and an area for the temporary accommodation of Caravans and Motor Homes. As in recent previous visits to European camp sites we had this to ourselves. It had well designed picnic areas, a swimming pool and the usual facilities for a camp site and these were of a high standard.

Ready to leave and settle the bill I was accompanied by the day receptionist who unlocked the power cabinet and took the meter reading with precision ensuring that I agreed with her figures. In fact they were so small I couldn’t read them but acknowledged her accuracy. We returned to the reception where on receiving the payment and duly returned my passport. I thanked her and in response she wished me a safe journey back to Ireland??

Great camp site if you are down this way

Great camp site if you are down this way

Brian and Shirley had recommended that we visit Budapest on our journey home as the sites and some of the architecture were a must to see. So this was to be our target and the journey would take us through vast open country, towns and villages that we were looking forward to seeing.

Our first port of call was to be a town called Szolnok and this was 40 – 50 Kilometres from the camp site. The day was extremely dull and pouring with rain. The photographer’s job was to be difficult today and we didn’t have high expectations for the pictures. Our windscreen washers developed a blockage which was very unhelpful and worse it required a number of stops to clean the windows to improve road vision and photography. Stalls scattered along the E60 were displaying for sale a range of crafted Hungarian wares. They looked very impressive as we drove by the first one and we then discovered that all of them were selling the same “crafted” items.

Crafted goods

Crafted goods

It was clear that we are getting closer to home as when we entered Szolnok the signs for a supermarket directed us to Tesco. As we needed further supplies we called in and found the design and layout to be the same as the UK stores. The contents however thankfully were not the same and so I made my Hungarian Tesco purchases and returned to carol to have lunch. A good rest in the Tesco car park pit us in good stead to complete the journey to Budapest. We had also reduced the time difference by one hour today and this of course made getting dark an earlier event. The result was that arriving in Budapest around 1600 entangled us in the peak traffic and the volume and queues were enormous. We needed to find somewhere to stay for the night and enquired at a petrol station. Trying to communicate with the cashier was something of a challenge and a gentleman behind me asked the questions for me. With a negative response I asked this helpful fellow if he might know where there is a camp site. He didn’t but he duly phoned his wife who explained to him where we would find one. I thanked and prepared pen and paper for directions. He decided this would be complicated and so I was to follow him and he would take me there. I am so pleased that he did because we would never have found it as the route crossed a suburb of Budapest where the camp site appeared in the middle of a built up area. There was no one to receive us and our guides simply said make yourselves at home and someone may turn up. He asked if we were planning to look round the city and we assured we would do it tomorrow as a tour had been highly recommended by friends. He produced a map book of the city and proceeded to show me how to get there, following which he decided to give us the map book as a memento of our encounter. He said how pleased he was to meet us and been able to help.

So here we are at Haller’s camp site in deepest Budapest and ready to settle for the night, our tour in the morning and onward journey to Slovakia. Today we have passed the 6000 miles marker and plenty more yet to do.

Inner city camping

Inner city camping

Carol and Roland

The final date with Dracula

November 26, 2008

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Day 39: 24 November – The final date with Dracula

The people at the Garage had been very friendly and accommodating to us. They were young people looking after the garage all night and I felt they were reassured with having the extra company during the night. Although we were sleeping in Transylvania we emerged in the morning bat free and our necks without bites.

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The weather that greeted us in the morning was very cold and dry with a temperature of -3 and although we were snow free it had been snowing a lot on the mountains around us. A hot drink inside us and it was time to move to our next target, the Hungarian Border. After the usual encouragement to get the Diesel engine to find some energy and giving it 20 minutes to acclimatize, before starting off we left the garage at 08:30 turning west.

Our first port of call today was the Supermarket to stock up with the usual supplies for our dwindling stocks. The supermarket we selected turned out to be more of a Cash and Carry and most things were sold in bulk and it was not possible to get Bread. With just a few of our supplies we would need to stop at another somewhere to complete the task.

Not wishing to have any further Delays at this early end of the day we ventured on to witness more of the spectacular environment in Romania. On this part of our journey we witnessed some great architecture and we found grand structures built in amongst the more modest homes and it provided some interesting contrasts.

Who would live in a house like this

Who would live in a house like this

On leaving the area a gantry had been constructed wishing us goodbye and reminding us of the distances to the next major towns. Oradea which is the largest town close to the Hungarian border was shown to be 185 Kilometres away.

Passing through a small town called Turda we encountered a traffic hold up and this was to be the first of two we would have on this leg of our journey. (I will tell you more of the second later). This traffic hold up contained many Lorries which made the clearing process more time consuming. On this occasion we only lost about 30 minutes and on leaving the town the traffic was soon free flowing once more. As the Lorries passed us at significant speeds in both directions the Motor home was buffeted quite severely much to the dissatisfaction of Carol.

The scenery opened up for us like a giant panoramic book and the snows had diminished from the landscape although there was the occasional reminder as we travelled. Men were still to be seen tendering their livestock and the picture below shows that one man and his Dog brave these low temperatures daily and they certainly seemed hardened to it.

One man and his dog

One man and his dog

With still time for a friendly wave we continued in the comfort of a warm vehicle while he continued to brave the elements for the rest of the day. We passed several frozen lakes and small rivers, arriving at the next large town, Cluj Napoca at around 10:30. Due to the build of traffic from earlier the journey of only 40 Kilometres had taken us almost two hours. Our pace was such that we could enjoy our surroundings even more.

what caused this then

what caused this then

Cluj Napoca was an interesting and busy town with many shops and interesting buildings along with the massive network of overhead cables that ensured that everything worked although I was amazed at how sometimes. This town was to be the subject of our second traffic hold up and as we prepared to exit the town and continue along the E60 traffic was at a standstill. We reassured ourselves that this was only going to be a small delay and we would be able to make up some of our lost time. This assumption was to be an error as we only crawled out of the town onto the main road where the situation appeared to be no better. With many vehicles in front of us and with nothing coming in the opposite direction it was clear that some kind of major delay was being caused along this road. After an hour in stops and starts and the occasional stream of traffic passing in the opposite direction the cause was to become clear. Our first traffic accident was encountered and with many Police cars and a number of Ambulances in attendance. We eventually manoeuvred ourselves around the vehicles involved under the direction of whistle blowing policemen guiding us by the waving of red table tennis bats. As we progressed the traffic in the opposite direction queued up for 4 miles and they would probably take up to two hours to get through. With sympathy for those drivers we at least were again on open roads.

We arrived on the outskirts of Oradea during the early afternoon and pausing for a break we decided to have a look around the town before continuing to the Hungarian border. We found the town to be a hive of activity with every driver looking after their own needs to the complete exclusion of those around them, so sharp reflexes and a good sense of humour kept us away from any close encounters of the contact kind. We went out into the country a bit to see some smaller villages and to circle back to our main road was the plan. This however would result in the plan not working and we got closer to the Hungarian border through the empty country side. We were met at a road junction by a border policeman who firmly advised us to return to Oradea and take the main road to the border. This advice we duly complied with and we were soon approaching the border.

The border guards on the Romanian side examined our passports and inspected thoroughly the inside of the vehicle and then wished us a pleasant onward journey waving us through the barrier. On the Hungarian side the guards just waved and beckoned us through not wishing to see our passports at all.

Enter Hungary

Enter Hungary

We entered Hungary easily and without delay and drove on the E60 towards Budapest to find somewhere to camp for the night. After about 30 Kilometres the welcome of the standard Campsite logo appeared on the road side and we were soon established on a site close to a lake. It is dark so I will tell you more in the report tomorrow.

Unfortunately I still have no internet access despite the reassurances of O2 that we would encounter no difficulty. Well there is modern technology for you!!

Carol and Roland

A Trip Across Transylvania

November 26, 2008

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Day 38: 23 November – A trip across Transylvania

Leaving our Hotel this morning to a very snow filled surrounding gave a feeling of expectation about the scenes we would see and the roads we travel on. The hotel was a dream and we had a very comfortable night. Although the Motor Home has been a pleasure to stay in there is something unique about a good normal bed. The restaurant in the hotel had a unique character and it was enhanced by a traditional Romanian meal and a glass of the local beer.

A Romanian Restaurant

A Romanian Restaurant

In the morning the Motor home was clearly not impressed by the cold weather and it was reluctant to join in the days activities willingly. However after due diligence and some persuading she burst in to action thus allowing her to warm up gently in readiness for a day of hard work.

Our target today was to reach a place called Targu Mures in the heart of Transylvania. We would keep a sharp eye open for those men in flowing cloaks and sporting rather large teeth. The views of the mountains and the accompanying snow became more and more spectacular as we travelled. The E60 was to be our companion for many Kilometres to come and it would be our guide to the many wonders of the Romanian scenery and season. The roads were amazing in that they had been very obviously attacked during the night by an army of unseen Snow Ploughs and road clearing strategies the country should be very proud of. During our journey we were surrounded by snow and yet the roads seemed not to have been snowed on. Even though it was Sunday the convoys and regular horn blowing large transport Lorries were clearly keeping the country supplied and without good roads to drive on the supply chain would be severely hampered. Well done Romania.

Great roads

Great roads

Despite the weather and the very low temperatures which overnight had been expected to reach a low of minus 15 deg C just north of our location; We passed many cold looking people tending their animals along the side of the roads with great tenacity and even time for a cheery wave and smile for us as we drove by in the warmth and comfort of something these great people might never experience.

The frozen rivers the occasional presence of a Snow Plough keeping up the clearing from a hard nights work seemed all to be part of the daily life of the area. Although we had travelled to length of Transylvania we were disappointed not to have encountered those men in the cloaks showing the large pointed teeth and riding shiny black horses. Furthermore we never even got to see a Bat!!

The horses and carts today had been in abundance and the pace of life they demonstrated was a reminder of what life could be like if we wanted it to be tranquil and sparingly PACED.

the way to travel

the way to travel

We had travelled at some length today covering some 200 miles and in the absence of being able to find a Camp Site we were kindly accommodated at a hilltop garage on the E60 North of Targu Mures in a small town called Campia. We had even been visited by a small number of local people who were curious about the Motor home and so I went and spoke with them to try and answer their questions. After a while of exchange they left the garage to go their different ways. The garage attendant thanked me profusely and he was pleased to see them go. Perhaps he knew something I didn’t.

Settling in for a quiet night was something we were looking forward to and the hope of having an equally challenging day tomorrow. Our target tomorrow will be to get to Oradea and the cross the border into Hungary

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Carol and Roland

Crossing Romania

November 26, 2008

Day 37: 22 November – Crossing Romania

This morning we awoke to a very breezy Black Sea coast at Navodari with the sea no more than 100 yards from our pitch. The beach here is flat and very sandy. I am sure that this would be a popular site during the summer, particularly for the Swimmer and Surfer. In contrast to Bulgaria the beach here is a wonderful storage depot for a whole range of different shells. I have made a collection for the children to be creative with on our return. Perhaps Lucy might like some for use with her school children. ( I will pop down and get an extra bag)

team-cyprus-day-37-008

The Campsite was extensive and had all the facilities of a Caravan Club approved site in the UK and the contrast to some of the previous camp sites was stark and added again to this rich range of experiences. On leaving the camp we had personal send off from our host which then left her with nobody to look after until another camper just happened to call that way.

team-cyprus-day-37-013

As we drove quietly along the E 60 it was raining heavily which made life quite difficult for my photographer and despite the rain some very good pictures and images were captured. One such image was of a person we spotted along the E60 many miles from anywhere that resembled civilisation as we know it. Here is this chap pulling his cart to complete whatever his day has in store for him. I do wonder if he is happy and fulfilled with his lifestyle; To do it surely means that he probably is.

team-cyprus-day-37-032

An indication of what life could be like in Romania is as we drove along the E60 we have passed many miles of robustly constructed snow fencing built into the fields. We have considered ourselves fortunate today as we have only had to endure Romanian rain. This does however come down with enthusiasm as can been seen in the following picture.

team-cyprus-day-37-061

We travelled through many small towns and villages today and in one we noticed some massive nest that had been made on top of the power line. I think Loren as we have discussed before that these must be Elephant Nests!!! Much further on we entered a town called Tanderai and here we saw a good example of the old mixing with the new. As we turned from the town we passed a small shop outside of which was parked a horse and cart and immediately in front of us a major rail interchange.

team-cyprus-day-37-073

We decided on a break for lunch and onwards then to Bucharest. This was another diversion from our planned route adding only another 50 Kilometres to our journey. We were pleased to have made this change so that we could get some realism to match our vision of Bucharest. As we drove through I have to tell you that our expectations were shattered and although we didn’t venture into deepest Bucharest the images of multiple tenement buildings and very large blocks of flats could be seen for miles. It did still provide us the opportunity to witness some of its better qualities and the atmosphere was one of a bustling community and many busy shops and markets

team-cyprus-day-37-115

Our target stop for today was to be Ploiesti which is about 460 Kilometres from the Hungarian border. We actually made the stopping point at a place called Campina. Here it was both cold and wet and we had noticed that some cars coming from the north had significant quantities of snow on the roof of their cars. We spoiled ourselves and had a night away from the Motor home and stayed in a Motel called the Casa Cornu. A great place and a small amount of Romanian Lei left us very comfortable. We were asked if we would like to return and enjoy Christmas at the Motel in true Romanian style. Anyone interested should follow this link to the Internet. www.casacornu.ro

Having completed 240 miles in another section of our expedition we are ready for a good night.

Carol and Roland

A Romanian Rendezvous

November 24, 2008

Day 36: 21 November – A Romanian Rendezvous

I left the report yesterday saying I would describe our surroundings at the Laguna camp site. We awoke this morning to a brilliant image of sunrise over the black sea. I have a number of pictures of this but I thought this one will do and make a change from those Sunsets

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The camp site itself, although scaled down to winter availability would be a wonderful place to stay in the summer. It consisted of a number of small but very laid out Chalets, each of which is fully serviced. The prices quoted were 15 Euros per night. There is an entertainment club, swimming pool and even a massage was on offer.

The locations for the caravans were on properly made bases and each had its own electrical and water supply.

Our trip today would take us through new territory in Bulgaria on the opposite side to that of the outbound journey. The Black sea coast was destined to picturesque and with a different landscape. Travelling in this part of Bulgaria we experienced some interesting findings, one of which was land sales at the cost of 1 square metre for 7 Euros. All enquiries please through Roland’s Acquisitions Ltd

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Our thoughts were as we travelled that Bulgaria is probably not a bad place for property investment as they seem to be putting a great deal of effort into development of the tourist industry. It is not difficult to see why as the Black sea has a lovely coast line. In contrast we turned off the main road to look at some houses being built and advertised with a sea view. Although accurate in description I should mention that a 100feet drop would have to be negotiate to get to the beach. Sadly alongside these spectacular development and within ony 300 yard were examples of some of the types of housing in which people still live.

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We arrived at the border with Romania about 1230. Sadly Bulgaria did not provide any one to see safely out of the country. The Bulgarian Border control was completely unmanned. With the barrier open we ventured straight through and into the Romanian control.

Here we were met by two very nice Policemen who asked only for our passports and site of the car registration document. These returned they asked if they could look in the back and as i proceeded to open the back door they asked with a smile if I had any guns, people or drugs. With an equal smile i invited them inside to have a look. A check was made to see if anyone was hiding in the bathroom to no avail. With that they were pleased to let us enter Romania and wished us a pleasant visit and a safe journey.team-cyprus-day-36-128

We continued as planned still following as close the coast as we were able and we arrived in Constantine by 1800. After visiting the supermarket to replenish stocks we decided that we would stay in Constantine for the night. We found a campsite on the coast once again. We are parked very close to the sea and we have the whole camp site to ourselves and a security guard on through the night. I will update about this camp site with tomorrow’s report. A reconnaissance by torch light found it to be a beach with many and various shells. I picked on up and for those who are passionate about shell the one below is a Black Sea Shell and for those who really don’t mind it is just a shell.

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See you tomorrow

Carol and Roland

Thursday 20th November – All roads to Romania

November 23, 2008

Day 35: 20 November – All roads to Romania

We left our camp stop at 1030 this morning and we were looking forward to our journey beyond Burgas and along the Black Sea coast and into our first visit to Romania.

The view when we awoke today was as good as we could have hoped and we had the whole village centre to ourselves. About 0900 the local population began to appear ready for their day’s work, which didn’t seem to us that it was going to be exhaustive. Two ladies appeared to open the Restaurant and the shop. Having packed away the Motor Home we are once again ready to move on. Having bid farewell to the local ladies and the small boy we were heading for the now well loved main road to Burgas.

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The further we travelled into this region of Bulgaria, the more the roads were shared between the traditional animal towed cart and the modern petroleum driven vehicles of all sizes. Wherever we passed the old traditional carts, the animals and the drivers were completely unperturbed by the traffic, ranging from motor cycles to very large Articulated Lorries. The buildings we encountered of which there were many, either built or being built to serve an obviously growing tourist trade. The hotels and entertainment centres were adorned with a wide variety of names. This hotel and Casino was I am sure aptly named for the benefit of the owner.

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Moving North East from Burgas and following the coast at intervals we travelled through much open country with long straight stretches of road, more horses and carts, and many small communities.

We entered a small town called Aheloy and it was here we discovered what happened to London Buses no longer suitable for Transport for London.

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A wonderful pleasure park for the children to complement the hotels and casinos; this picture especially for Loren, Callum, Freya and Alex. Aheloy was a bustling place considering it was situated on a main road where we normally found that towns and villages were fairly dormant in activity.

We stopped for lunch at a rather salubrious development for the growing tourist industry at a place called Ozbe. Here Apartments were being built at a phenomenal rate as can be seen in the picture below. To keep things in perspective we encountered a fisherman who decided to park his car in the apartment grounds and utilise the beach for his hobby.

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Putting a greater number of miles behind us, the country side and the Black Sea held so much to absorb including large fields of Grapevines meandering their way to the sea.

Although we had planned to reach the Romanian border today it appeared less and less likely as we stopped to admire as much as we could of this varied and interesting country.

We would then complete our day in Bulgaria and the next task was to find somewhere to stay. Sticking to the coast road we had felt that we might get more opportunity to find a camp site and take the opportunity to replenish water and energy supplies.

We had not gone far when sticking with our instincts were proven to be a good decision. We soon came across a camp site sign called the Laguna and although it was dark and we felt a little cautious after last night experience. Venturing the two Kilometres down a windy poorly surfaced road we found the camp site on our right, once again behind securely locked gates. We were met by a lady warden who had a site office a little more up market that the one yesterday. (I will give you some images of this one tomorrow as it is now very dark). The lady welcomed us in and I explained our requirements for the night. She asked me to wait and she disappeared in to the night. On her return she explained through her chronic breathlessness that someone was coming to see me. In the mean time I persuaded her to go into her caravan and sit down before I had my first medical emergency to manage. She invited me in and we waited for our new receptionist. On his arrival we had a difficult discussion about where we should park. He said I should follow him and he gave me a conducted tour of the site, turning on lights and water heaters as we travelled. Unfortunately the site dipped steeply to the sea and on returning to the office I was not sure who was worse, me or the lady. She was still in the caravan and I asked how she was. With her cigarette in full flow towards her lungs she declared she was much better now.

Finally agreeing the night’s fee we parked on a bay overlooking the sea at the Laguna Camp siteand I will be able to describe our surroundings in tomorrows report.

So it is goodnight from me and goodnight from Carol.

Carol and Roland

Following the Black Sea to Bulgaria

November 20, 2008

Day 34: 19 November – Back to Bulgaria

Let us start the report today with a light hearted look at one our camping stories in Turkey. As I reported yesterday we stopped at a camp site in a town called Sile which is on the Black Sea coast and East of Istanbul. Picking up where I left off in yesterday’s report, this camp site was like nothing I have ever experienced. In Caravan Club terms there might be some difficulty in realising the standards set. After rousing the Warden from the Site Office, we were let in through a pair of secured metal gates that sported a bright green Rope Lamp above the gates.

We were beckoned with some caution by the Warden who was flanked by two dogs. After a greeting that I didn’t understand although it was accompanied with a smile and after some gesticulations to support my English he finally understood what I wanted. The next stage was to phone his boss and request authority to let me in and connect us to the electrical supply. In order for you to get some perception of the site the first image below is of the warden and the Site office.

Caravan Club Approved ?

Caravan Club Approved ?

He walked around the site with me so that I could select the place to park of my choice. After only a few moments of walking I discovered that my feet were wet. At this point I suggested that where I was would be fine as long as we could reach the electrical socket. He showed me where the electrical supply was located and as you can see from the picture below I was happy to pass him the cable to plug in. It all worked and a restful night followed.

It evev boiled a Kettle

It even boiled a Kettle

We made a late start on the journey today, leaving the camp site at 1000. Carol struggled with the decision to leave the site as she had developed some attachment for it (Not).

Leaving this interesting place behind us with a robust wave from the Camp Warden, who insisted that I photographed his Ducks before we left. It is now raining and the skies did not offer any encouragement to get better as the day progressed. Our target today was to leave Turkey and make our entry into Bulgaria.

The journey was uneventful and difficult due to the rain as we ventured along the road to Istanbul. My photographer send apologies for some of the pictures you will see because of the lack of understanding by the windscreen wipers and the dirty marks and rain spots left by the actions on other vehicles and nature. I did offer her a cloth to lean out and clean the glass every now and again, but for some reason she declined with passion. Plenty of rest breaks were taken as the driving has been quite an arduous task today.

We arrived at Istanbul about mid afternoon and as we got close the main road system on the outskirts of the city it seemed that the M25 might have been replicated and taken to Istanbul.

M25 Instanbul Style

M25 Instanbul Style

We were impressed by the action of the local bus company who must have heard of our arrival and sent out welcoming party you can see below. This wonderful group of people escorted us with much waving and laughing towards the centre of Istanbul.

Welcome to Istanbul

Welcome to Istanbul

We decided not to venture into the centre as we felt we might never get out by Christmas. Having lost our escort who had turned off towards the city we continued in a westerly direction to cross the suspension bridge and enter the final part of Turkey. You might be forgiven if you think I have only put in a picture of the Severn Bridge. The only difference is that you can enter this part of Turkey without charge but you have to pay to get into Wales!!

we decided at this point to continue to try and achieve our aim of reaching the Border control and enter Bulgaria. Negotiating a few more mountain climbs and descents we arrived suddenly at the border in the dense fog we had run into. Visibility was around 20 feet at this point. The Turkish border Police waved us through at some speed and I believe they thought there we go another crazy tourist has left us. The Bulgarian side was not quite so simple. We followed some signs and drove through a disinfectant bath (cost 3 Euro) which if taken at speed would have washed the vehicle as well. Our next stop was the police office where on inspection of the passports we had to return to the Turkish post and get our passports stamped by the police. Task completed the next stop had to be the customs point. With nothing to declare and many entries made into the computer system we were then directed again to the Bulgarian border control office. Here the lady had great difficulty in communicating with us and eventually we realised she was looking for a memory stick with our details on that should have been given to by the Turkish contingent. The comments she made were not understood by us but the non verbal expression showed how impressed she was with her counterparts. She prepared a memory stick herself and waved us onwards. After a total of 7 check plus three returns to the various post we entered Bulgaria with much relief.

A foggy approach to the Border

A foggy approach to the Border

The fog remained thick and with nowhere safe to stop we ventured on until we found a small village with a large car park where we settled for the night.

Our final destination was some 70 Kilometres south of Burgas.

Tomorrow we should enter Romania following the coast road to the border crossing South of Constanta.

Carol and Roland