Archives for June 2014

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Germany

27th June 2014 We called in to visit some of the German travellers whom we had met in Roma Camp in Italy. Yolanda and Marcel gave us a personal tour of their delightful town of Lindau on Lake Constance aka Bodensee, giving us a parting gift of German wine and beers. I hope to repay their hospitality one day.

28th June 2014 Neuschwanstein is the castle that Disney based his Fantasy Land castle on. It is a fairy-tale style castle that Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria built only about one hundred and forty-five years ago and he wasn’t actually mad. So that’s enough of history, it was enchanting and I met a hurdy girdy minstrel on the way back down. We had an interesting conversation and he allowed me to wind the hurdy girdy handle whilst he manipulated the keyboard. I must say that I have never done this before. He then suggested that I should sing Pub with no beer* to his accompaniment, and although I do know the lyrics I did not want to steal his thunder, I jest. Anyhow here’s the photo.

Now in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Bavarian Alps having also visited Oberammergau which puts on the famous Passion plays every ten years. They started in the 1600’s to ward off the bubonic plague, and I guess it worked.

* Pub with no beer Is a quintessential Aussie song from the 1950’s; it was a huge hit at the time in Australia. Surprising to find a Bavarian minstrel playing it on a hurdy gurdy, in 2014.

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Switzerland

26th June 2014 Entered Switzerland with the usual formalities i.e. none and are now camped on the bank of Lake Geneva. We have already been welcomed by several Swiss, including the border attendant (you couldn’t really call him a guard). Several Germans that we have met along the way have emailed us back already, asking us to visit them.

27th June 2014 Three countries in one day,                again.

Started in Switzerland entered Austria for a few kilometres and then to Germany with the usual informalities.

One of the good things about Switzerland is that there are no tollways. That is, until I found out that I actually had to buy a motorway tag for thirty-five Franks before using these roads. On the plus side, I did not find this out until we were in Germany.

 

 

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France

17th June 2014 Now on French soil and we know this because the sign on entering France said FRANCE, no more or less.

The French are the style masters in all things, food, fashion, presentation, houses but maybe not cars, I joke.

 

We have visited Monte Carlo, Cannes and Saint Tropez. We actually free camped for two nights on a Saint Tropez beach with no hassles. I think it’s actually allowed.

The French Riviera deserves its reputation as a classy holiday haven, it even has sandy beaches and I must say that the French have been nothing but charming and friendly. We now find ourselves at Santa Gusta Camp overlooking the Med yet again.

Today we stopped for lunch at a village and a general look around. The bread you can eat as is, no butter required and the patisseries here are art galleries of pastry and cake. We bought olives, pates, quiche Lorraine, anchovy pessitsia all of gourmet quality and for dinner we have cassulette of lapin i.e. rabbit with gratin potato, a French potato bake.

I notice the Gum trees are creeping back both in Italy and here in France, I wonder if we will find them in Mongolia?

21 June 2014 After the Riviera we have been dawdling our way through Provence and with clear blue skies our explorations could not be better. We were advised that you can just go anywhere in Provence to find rustic villages and picture-like landscapes.

It is true, winding our way through the lavender fields, stopping at local markets where we stock up on cheeses, olives, fourteen different types of tomato, salami’s with whole nuts and baguettes. The local wines that we have sampled are quality and very cheap. Strolled through the old world Apt city center stopping for a refreshing apperertife at a lane-side pub to cool down in the late afternoon. The French towns all have narrow laneway’s only suitable for walking and you will find all manner of small shops in which to gladly spend your Euros.

We have travelled from Aix, via Apt to Gap.

22nd June 2014 Travelling north we decided to follow the route of one of the legs of this years Tour de France starting at Risoul and ending at Grenoble. This route takes in the French Alps and it is spectacular, rising to around 2,300 meters still with quite a bit of snow up high on the peaks, ending our day in a valley in the shadows of huge pointy mountains in the village of La Grave at the de la Meige camping ground. Along the road someone has painted GO CADEL.

We will explore the village later.

The village turns out to be everything you expect from a French alpine village, quaint houses and cosy restaurants where you sit on the deck looking directly at a mountain massif as you degustate.

25th June 2014 Yesterday visited Mount Blank, the highest mountain in Europe and finished the day at Samoens, an Alpine resort where Timea and Belinda, long-time friends of Nicola (our daughter) have been for around eighteen months. They invited us to stay at the lodge where they work and will give us a guided tour of the area later today. The owners of the Truman Alp Lodge, Debbie and Tony have been most welcoming and their luxury accommodation I can highly recommend. I think I may have to sing for my supper tonight.

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Italy

7th June 2014 Three countries in one day,   again.

Entered Italy with same amount of formalities as for Slovenia i.e. none, weren’t sure exactly when we entered the country. No passport checks or green card/carnet.

8th June 2014 Now at the “Jolly Camping” ground in Venice.

Venice was really something extraordinary, from the busy tourist areas to deserted alleyways and squares in the back-blocks.

 

The best way to see Venice is to just walk around which we did for many hours before catching a ferry that took us all round the city, giving us yet a different perspective on this unique place. We finished our day by having a pizza there and whilst being very good we both agree that the pizzas from Menai, back home, are better.

I will let the photos do the talking.

9th June 2014 Adriatic Sea in the morning, Ligurian Sea in the afternoon, travelled the entire width of Italy, 400k’s at it’s widest. Ready for the coastal, five-village walk of Cinque Terre tomorrow.

Had Maca’s for lunch (terrible isn’t it!) and we both agree that the Maca’s from Menai, back home, are better. True Bogans huh? On exiting Maca’s we then discovered the best Italian shared table cafe with beautiful salads and delicacies. Judy not happy.

10th June 2014 The five villages of Cinque Terre are quite interesting and built on very steep terrain but the walks between the villages were all closed. I thought that this was meant to be part of the experience. We had to do it by train. Supposedly a “World heritage of UNESCO” since 1998 and National Park since 1997 we were a little underwhelmed. Maybe we are just bad tourists.

But it was a beautiful summers day.

11th June 2014 Another perfect day to drive around the Italian Riviera calling in at low key villages and lunching on dark sand/pebble beaches (I mean sitting on them and having lunch)

What seems to happen here is that you go to the beach bar at about 5pm, to have a beer, and they ply you with food, no dinner necessary. Today we were given bruschetta, focaccia, pizza, olives, chilli pasta, carrot sticks-eh-fro mage’, crisps, peanuts and tuna, onion and cannelloni bean potage of compote (my quote)

And of course Portofino. We drove in. It’s lovely. It is a dead end. No parking. So you have to drive back out again. And I remember doing the exact same thing forty years ago.

Our good friends, the fireflies, are also back again over the last few nights.

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Slovenia

7th June 2014 Entered Slovenia, taking the wrong road, with so little fuss (no formalities whatsoever) that we had exited the country before we knew it, spending a total of forty minutes on a motorway before leaving the country, with no photos. Sorry Slovenia!

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Croatia

30th May 2014 The campsite in Dubrovnik that we tried first was really crowded and priced at about AUS$60/night but after some shopping around we find ourselves 10k’s out of town, overlooking the Adriatic for AUD$24/night.

31st May 2014 Caught the bus into Old Dubrovnik, the walled city section of greater Dubrovnik. This ancient city is in excellent condition and is very interesting to see especially on a magnificent day as we had, but so many tourists, yes I know I’m one of them, and every building is a tourist shop of some description i.e. restaurant, souvenir or women’s clothing. The rest of Dubrovnik is also very pleasing.

4th June 2014 We have been weaving our way up the Dalmatian coast staying on the seashore each night and visiting some of the old towns along the way.

Some of the campsites are huge. Tonight we are at Kamp Strasko near the town Novalja. This place has 1800 campsites and bungalows, a nudist camping section, restaurants, supermarket, camping shop, nightclub, sport, recreational areas, masseur, tattooist and palatial toilets with piped music. They can cater to 6500 people. We are camped at the waters edge, beach, in the shade of Dalmatian oak trees on manicured lawn with a huge sun setting on the water. This is camping with a capital G for glamping. Ninety per cent of the people here are Germans with huge mobile homes the rest are Dutch, Austrians and did I forget to mention! two Australians.

5th June 2014 Just coasting.

 

6th June 2014 The highlight for the day came at 11pm, just as we were about to go to sleep. We arrived at our campsite late, sunset, at around 9pm. We found a spot right on the water, as usual, to the sound of a live Croatian band playing at the camp restaurant. By the time we were tucked up in bed it was 11pm. Then BANG, and another and another. From the far side of the bay was a fireworks display but doubled because of its reflection on the mirror surface of the water. Thank you for that, and off to sleep.

7th June 2014 (The Day After D Day) The Axis powers have invaded Croatia. Germans, Austrians and Italians were massed at the Croatian border in a ten kilometre queue but the Croatians were ready for them with many, huge camping areas, some three kilometres long, and high tariffs but I don’t think they will repulse them this time.

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