Countries/territories visited: .es, .pt, .fr, .ch, .it, .de, .dk, .no, .se, .fi, .ax, .nl, .be, .corsica, .sm,
After the usual walk on the beach, meeting friends and their dogs, we left Capopino on the 7-JAN-2011 and headed down to to a supermarket to stock up and then Algecieras and up the hill towards Tarifa. The coastline here is impressive with a lot of surfing schools.
We head into Cadiz which I find singularly unimpressive, so we turn around and head out-of-there. We drive around Sevilla and it gets dark before we eventually stumble into El Rocio and drive directly into the campsite.
|El Rocio campsite||Sand everywhere, but good facilities and not too cold even if the rain is constant.||N 37.14197||W 6.49250|
We explore the town which turns out to be completely sandy with an occasional flamingo on a placid lake dominated by a number of eucalyptus trees.
They are building a bypass road around this town, probably to help people avid getting stuck in the sand at weekends when the place is (apparently) crowded with people riding horses and chatting with other like-minded rebel rowsers. This bypass, not being completed was a great place for walking-the-dog and we did a number of times, admiring the storks camped (precariously IMHO) on the power pylons.
The phrase "Lucky Bastards Day" comes to mind a few days later as we head down to the sea and on to Huelva which is not special being dominated by an industrial plant.
We cross over the river into yet another country for the dog collecting them. We are stopped by the police as we enter the country, they want to know what we are doing, I say visiting your lovely country and we drive on. A brief look at the (over populated) carpark at Castro Maran is sufficient to decide to carry on toe Albufiera where we pull into the campsite after having done some serious shopping.
|Albufiera de Pera campsite||Situated on a hill with a lot of room for pitches. No Wifi coverage - only at the "entertainment" center.||N 37.10916||W 8.35333|
We settle in, introduce ourselves to the friendly neighbours and then walk into town where the beach is a most welcome sight. We laze around for friends.
This waiting takes an additional hour because I had missed the change in time when we crossed the border! We have a functional lunch and head back to the main square for crepes - yumm!
On the way back up to the campsite we see some wild Borage - great for salads.
In the three weeks that we stay on the site we visit friends in the apartment they are staying in, I get told off for tying Miloš to a pole just inside a shopping center, met some lovely Portuguese neighbours who invited us to see their hometown - Évora, (was then invited by them to participate in the national dish - superb,) helped a friend buy a new computer, had lunch with an out-of-work lady and her dog, participated in the campsite annual lunch which was a waste and played cribbage and did a quiz with a load of Brits - our team lost both times!
The beach was wonderful because after having walked hither and thither we just lay down with Miloš's head on my thigh and slept.
When we leave we drive
We drive all the way down the coast to Portamico for a walk on the beach and then around to Sagres where the boat in the harbour are bobbing up and down. We then drive to what I think is the lowest point on the peninsular, Cape St. Vicente where there is a gale going on. I partake of the culinary delights in the local restaurant and get half-drenched for my trouble.
We then proceed up the road, past a few wind turbines to Alfambras and as it gets dark we find a carpark where a couple of camper vans are parked at Almogrove.
Now this is about the best carpark in Europe, but not because of the money the EU has spent on making the surface perfect for any vehicle, but the view - oh and the lack of people.
We spend three nights here and love it. (Later I discover that someone has attempted to break into Maria.)
We then drive up the coast to Vila Nova De Milfontes, then Sines (oh dear, how industrialization kills a place - why do I say this when I am using sooo much diesel on this touring) to Santiago Do Cacém where we walk around the castle and back to Almogrove.
We decide to go up onto the plateau under trees so high they met above the carriageway.
We take a break at Barragem do Roxo and then drive to Serpa, an old agricultural town which used to sit in the heart of the wheat bowl.
|Serpa Municipal campsite||Situated on the edge of the town close to the ring road. The facilities are old and as a consequence not pretty. But the site is the cheapest in Europe so far... € 5. The town is worth a visit and so is the bar with the orange Renault 4!||N 37.94105||W 7.60421|
There is a long walk down to the river (takes about 2 hours) which used to be the border between Portugal and Spain. Don't miss the black pigs - not feral.
We set off for Mauro which we drive through to Barragem de Alqueva one of the largest dams in Europe. The next stop is at the largest PV power station in Europe at Amareleja.
Such a good idea - and no fuel required! Shame they don't seem to have a visitor's center.
Then there is Monsaraz with an incredible view:
Yep, that's the lake caused by the dam.
And so on to Évora.
|Évora (Orbitur) campsite||On the southwest corner of this World Heritage city, the site is a brisk walk into town, but being an Orbitur, it has special rates for people over 60. OK facilities but as is the case with some sites - no toilet paper.||N 38.55722||W 7.92583|
Évora is a wonderful city with so much to see in and around the city. The chapel made out of bones, (an ossuary,) the Roman baths (in the town hall), the Greek remains and to the north the Celtic remains.
We meet friends who are most generous with their time and interest. Such a great place steeped in history.
Leaving Évora we drive around Setbul and then to the fishing village at Sesimbra for lunch and then continue to Cape Espichel. Up the coast we don't find a good place to stop so drive on to Lisabon and Cascais ending up at the campsite at Guincho.
|Guincho (Orbitur) campsite||At the top of a hill about 2 klicks from the beach. Short trees mean one has to be careful where to park. Good facilities. Free Wifi at the main reception block.||N 38.721713||W 9.466041|
The beach is simple superb.
Went by bus to Cascais to see the town which was originally a weekend haunt for the wealthy.
Up the coast again to Peniche and a great walk to the point, surfer's paradise apparently.
|Foz do Arelho (Orbitur) campsite||An unremarkable site with poor facilities,||N 39.431088||W 9.201082|
Went to the local lagoon for coffee in the morning, nice view. Went then via a few smaller towns to Fatima.
How did humanity ever end up on its knees like this?
This makes absolutely no sense to me, none whatsoever.
On up the coast to Sao Pedro de Moel. What a wonderful village.
|Sao Pedro de Moel (Orbitur) campsite||Very friendly staff, beautiful site with large trees. Free Wifi near the main building.||N 39.757872||W 9.026127|
This has to be one of the best places in Europe. Pleasant people, great walks/bike rides along the seashore and fresh air in abundance. A place to re-charge one's batteries.
The weather seems to be stable - soggy, so we head off south again and end up in Quanteira along with a lot of other camper vans near the beach.
|Quartiera Carpark||Very basic, flat, no services, lots of other camper vans, lovely beach, not far from a busy Marina - coffee!||N 37.07080||W 8.11116|
Watch the planes coming in to land at Faro!
Then on to Pedras d’el Rei and a couple of nights by the marches.
|Pedras d’el Rei Carpark||No services, opposite a wide flat area and a small train to a long, sandy beach||37.092088||-7.677353|
The weather is not too good so we decide to head back to Marbella via Seville and the then the Malaga road turning right to the coast after some solar energy farms. We get back to the Cabopino site to surprise some friends who are loosing at darts. We go to the harbour for a celebratory meal.
After a few days we drive to Granada but the main campsite is closed for renovation so we head on to Mojacar and park on the beach road for the night.
The next part we travelled mostly on the coastal road up to Cartangna which seems to be a mess and then via an industrial area on to La Manche which we didn't drive into but went further up the coast past the Nature Reserve and found parking at a marina which was a delight. The rumour is that the sea will break into these wetlands and destroy them because the building at La Manche has fatally damaged the local topology.
|Marina Carpark||No services, opposite the long sandy beach of the Nature Park.||N 37 49.105||E 0 45.432|
Next morning we drive up the coast to Alicante and Benidorm (what a mess) and on to Altea where we spend the night on a riverbed - crappy.
|Altea Carpark||Access under the road to a scruffy dirt, uneven riverbed.||N 38 36.516||E 0 2.371|
Then visit friends in Alicante for a bite to eat and a chat and drive inland up the pass with a spectacular view back to the sea.
Find a carpark, rest area in some woods.
|Jalance Rest Area||Difficult to find, a forestry place.||N 39 11.15||E 1 4.34|
Smell of the oranges as we wake up. Drive through Gullera and then Valencia to Benicassim where the well-off used to build their weekend places.
We drive up to the ancient town of Morella and as its dark we park and sleep. But the next morning Maria is covered in snow. We walk around the town and grab a coffee.
|Morella Rest Area||Exposed on a hill opposite the ancient town||N 40 37.441||E 0 5.485|
Down to the coast via a wandering, once important road - all single track to Cambrils and park on the beach.
Coffee in a local restaurant in the morning - yumm.
The next day turned out to be a long drive given that I didn't really know where I wanted to go and kept changing my mind. We went to Lleida, Badageur, Ager, Tremp, Benabarre, Huesca, Jaca and Sabinanigo where we stayed overnight at an hotel.
This was the place where my reversing caused a loss of back bumper on Maria. Still this was quickly fixed the following morning and we left for Huesca for food and a look at Maria's electronics - the speedometer had stopped working. We get back to north of Barcelona to Blanes where we have been before.
The next morning we leave early for coffee in Lloret de Mar and then to Figueres and end up parking in a small village Llanc.
|Llanc Carpark||Quite, residential area.||N 42.31278||E 3.01493|
We then drive down the coast to Cadques but they seem not to be camper van friendly. However, we do find a delightful place to rest with a very useable restaurant with very friendly owners and great food at Guifeu beach.
|Guifeu beach Carpark||Great stop with plenty of space in the early months of the year.||N 43.38130||E 3.15513|
We walk around the bay to the local port and into the hills to see people picking wild asparagus. Simply a couple of really great days.
|Guifeu beach Carpark||Great stop with plenty of space in the early months of the year.||N 43.38130||E 3.15513|
We eventually decide to leave and go around the coast to Coulliere and the Municipal Parking at the top of the hill.
|Coulliere Municipal Parking||Not too close to the town on the top of a hill.||N 43.38130||E 3.15513|
In the morning we drive (partly) around the town, but there is no parking - whose idea was this Miloš? The head up the coast to Narbonne Plage for lunch in the sun and a walk along the beach. We drive around Montpellier and park for the night on the road to Palaves.
|Palaves Rest Area||Between the road and the marshes.||N 43.53088||E 3.92414|
The next day we drive through the Camargue, Saint Marie sur Mar, then Arles to see Van Gogh's bridge. Via a number of small roads we take a ferry to Port Saint Louis where we stay 2 nights. This is a run-down industrial port but has a pleasant atmosphere.
|Port Saint Louis||Parking next to the harbour.||N 43.38729||E 4.80725|
Leaving early we head towards Valensole, the heart of lavender country. As it gets dark we find a campsite which is closed where the owner allows us to spend the night away from the road. Thank You!
We drive around the lake behind the dam and decide to head back to the coast. Decide to head for the Azur, found the D70, which was a delight and then we head for Valbonne. We spend several nights in Saint Paul en Foret.
|Saint Paul en Foret Rest Area||Parking in the center of the village. Quiet||N 43.56702||E 6.69247|
We made a trip on the D656 which is a beautiful route down to the river and back up. Just as well there wasn't any traffic.
Meet a very old friend at Mougins Golf and drive to his house and stay for a couple of days with him, his wife and their young daughter.
We leave and take a look at the bay,
before heading up past Grasse on the "Route Napolean".
We drive through Digne-le-Bains which Miloš and I visited in 2006 during a 10 day tour of the area. We end up for the night at a wonderful stop above the dam lake at Savines-le-Lac.
The next morning it is a wonderful drive to Grenoble down a fantastic road. We drive around Grenoble to avoid getting stuck and and then on to Nantua.
|Nantua Rest Area||Parking by the lake under a cliff which used to shed some large rocks.||N 46 09.260||E 5 35.827|
We then drive to Miloš's breeder in Pierre de Bresse and spend time with him and his dogs. Maria also gets a spring clean. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
During the stay we pass by a place which I remember from a trip at Easter 1974, Hostellerie Bressane - Cuisery, so of course we have to eat there, which we do - delicious.
We leave towards Geneva to visit one of my old bosses and his wife. We spend the night in Les Muids where we lived nearly 30 years before.
We then visit friends in Grandvaux and meet an ex-colleague for lunch a couple of days later in Lausanne.
We then move on to Sion where there is the occasional"sound of freedom" coming from the military airport located adjacent to the campsite. (Why, pray, do we need these jets?) Deafening.
|Sion TCS Site||Well laid-out, good facilities. Just a little noise from time to time. Nice park and lake too.||N 46.21165||E 7.31380|
When we leave (several days later) we go up the Valee and over the Simplon Pass
I overnighted here (in the tower) in 1972 while doing a trip around the country.
We drive down the other side into Italy and end up parked in Orta right on the lake.
|Orta San Giulio Campsite||Parking by the lake facilities across a road.||45.801926||8.420781|
Such a delight - perfect location.
Coffee (yep real Italian stuff) by a lake in a small picturesque village.
Packed up Maria and headed off towards Verbania then on to Ascona. Met up with good friends and spent a delightful time with them in their hillside home. This included a visit to the market in Cannobio.
Looking down the lake towards Italy.
The day we left we were invited to spend a couple of hours with a good friend up the mountain, with a view of the same lake, but from a different perspective.
We take (as usual) the St. Bernadino tunnel through to Chur with a stop at the services in Thusis which are very clean and the people very friendly.
We overnight outside the TCS campsite in Landquart.
|Landquart TCS Campsite||Quiet (well I was tired) site||N 46.97040||E 9.59620|
The following morning we head off to the Rheintal and beyond Buchs to spend some time with friends who have (now) two Vizslas from the same breeder. Great food and conversation.
We drive up to Wildhaus and stay overnight at the Iltios carpark.
In the morning we drive through Wattwil to Zurich and get waved down by one of my sons who is driving to work - surprise!
In the city we park at the Mythenquai and walk into town where we meet several friends - actually four of them. We setup camp at the Zurich lake campsite which is seriously expensive but on the lake with good facilities. (How did I ever afford to live in this part of the world?)
|Camping Seebucht Zurich Campsite||Nice site, on the bus line to Zurich. Expensive.||N 47.33633||E 8.54167|
We have a grand time meeting friends and family and do all the usual "chores" to do with getting Maria looked-after, and me and Miloš.
Towards the end of April we leave and head north towards Berlin. We find a place to park near Nürnberg and sleep well because it is very quiet.
It takes some time to get to Dassau which has some wonderful buildings and wide, light avenues.
We continue on, avoiding Berlin and end up in Pennenmünde. Singing the Tom Lehrer song we have a drink on the quay next to the power station museum and a Russian submarine - what on earth is IT doing here - was Werner Von Braun also a submariner?
Note the V2 (Vergeltungswaffe).
Most of the peninsular was taken up with the design, production and operation of the V1 and V2. The project started in 1932.
The beach is endless. And inheritance from the DDR love of its beaches. There are practically no kiosks or other "paraphinelia".
Two nights here was a real pleasure.
We then drive on towards Prerow, but there seems to be a lot of tourists, so we move on and end up parking in an off-road "campsite" behind the beach. The beach is long and sandy, the camping primitive and windy during the night. There are a large number of tourists, mostly older but some kids.
|Prerow Beach Carpark||Near a long sandy beach.||N 54 26.873||E 12 36.318|
Much as the camper van life is, a poor day and site is followed by a wonderful experience. We drive to a small island and a village called Poel and stay two nights on the carpark at Schwarzer Busch.
|Schwarzer Busch Carpark||Very nice parking near a long beach and a few tourist shops and cafés.||N 54 00.625||E 11 26.087|
A few very pleasant days are spent walking along the beaches and doing nothing much at all.
We leave and drive to Kiel and have a coffee in the town. We drive on and end up on the West coast as the weather takes a turn for the worse, it is overcast and windy. However we do find what must be a wonderful campsite in the sun, near classical dykes at Simonsberg.
|Simonsberg Campsite||Good facilities, sheltered from the wind.||N 54 27 17.3||E E 8 58 09.0|
We walk along the dykes and "hunker down" for two nights.
The wierd thing is Miloš seems to be scared not just of sheep, but also lambs. Haha.
We then drive to Niebüll and park in the square set aside for campers, just off the main shopping center.
|Niebüll Rest Area||No facilities, but a good spot if the weather is good.||N 54 47 20.6||E 8 49 29.6|
Watched the royal wedding like a true Brit, well not much. Bought some "Crocs" - it has come to this? Drive to the Nolde Museum which is not special. It seems he loved flowers and built himself a rather nice house raised up on a slight hill.
Then on to Flensburg for some shopping and fill up with diesel. Next stop is the amazing shell beach at Römö.
I fly the kite and burn my fingers in the process.
We then drive to a very old friend's holiday home on the main Danish island near Ordrup.
We walk on the beaches and in the woods. My sister visits for a few days, a relaxing time is guaranteed for all, except that is when Miloš is attacked by a local cat.
One point to note is that the Danes seem to be the best road-repairers on the planet. Their repairs are very smooth with perfect joints, e.g. not even the slightest jump as one drives across… Many other countries could learn from them. (This becomes so much more obvious as Maria adds on the klicks.)
After 10 days we leave and head off towards Norway via the main Danish island of Jutland. We drive all the way to the top to a free campsite at Tars.
|Vendelbo Vans Rest Area||Basic facilities only open at certain times. Quiet and electricity supply.||N 57 23 24||E 10 6 53|
In the morning we head to Hirtshals and board the ferry. We then drive all the way around the coastal road to Stavangar. The municipal campsite is on the south side of a lake not far from the town.
|Stavanger Municipal Campsite||Basic facilities on the lake near the town.||N 58.95264||E 5.71506|
The town has a party atmosphere in part due to the (large) tourist boat which has just arrived and then there was the street party - mostly young, very young kids.
We leave after a few days and head west on the lookout for the Preacher's Rock. We go directly to the campsite and decide to walk up the hill. Miloš and I basically run up the hill to the carpark, by which time we are out of energy, so return to the campsite via the main road.
|Vendelbo Vans Rest Area||Basic facilities only open at certain times. Quiet and electricity supply.||N 58.9525||E 5.71388|
The following day we drive up to the carpark and run up to the rock in les than 1.45 hours over rocks and streams. To the most spectacular - Fog! Though it does clear a little.
A day later we drive on over several ferries to Jorpeland, Tau, Hjelmeland (ferry to Nesvik), Sand (ferry to Ropeid). And then on to Vikedal.
|Vikedal campsite||Basic facilities and not obviously open, had to find the owner myself. Quiet and electricity supply, right next to the fjord.|
The following day we go to Sandeid and on to Olen, Etne and around the coast further to Skanevik (ferry to Utaker). Stopped for a walk at Holmeda then further around a picturesque coast through Lofallstrand to Sunndal where there is a campsite by the fjord which seems closed, but we park there anyway.
|Sunndal Rest Campsite||No facilities because the site is closed. But an amassing location||N 60.11853||E 6.26756|
During the several days at this idyllic location we also make the trek up to the glacier. Many years ago the local peasants used to hack off the ice and slug it down the hill, 50 kilograms at a time, to the waiting ships to take it to England.
The Norwegians celebrate their National Day with flags abounding.
Some days later we drive to Odda and meet friends. Then on to Voss to find some LPG and Bergen where we find the campsite near one of the main bridges.
|Bergen City Campsite||Very basis facilities but not too far from the city||N 60.38232||E 5.31794|
We walk around (the damp) town and have coffee at Café Michelsen with free Wifi and then take the funicular up the hill to get a panoramic view. Walking down the hill we were berated because I hadn't put Miloš on the lead - the first indication of a "reserved" attitude to dogs.
We leave and drive up and around to Byrkjela where we stay for a couple of days.
|Byrkjela Campsite||Lovely site, very friendly people and great location - if the weather is OK.||N 61.73026||E 6.50843|
We leave and drive via some snow and a very rough tunnel to Geiranger - what a sight from the top pf the pass - what are those toy ships doing?
And the answer is unloading a lot of tourists walking up the hill to take photos of how small the ship looks from above. We drive have a walk and coffee (not good) on the quay and then drive on down a pass (the Trollstigen) which seems very similar to scenes in the Swiss alps.
The next overnight is in Andalsnes on a quiet site by the river.
|Andalsnes Campsite||Nice site, good facilities and good walks in the vicinity.||N 62.55223||E 7.70394|
We get the electricity cable fixed the next morning and drive on to Alesund, which was a complete waste of time, continued on to a small ferry, over to an island and another ferry to Moelde then took the road to Bud where Miloš and I inspected the German fortifications above the village. We then drove to the local campsite where, surprise, we meet our friends again.
|Bud Campsite||OK site, good facilities and not far from the village||N 62.9040||E 6.92866|
The next morning we take the Atlantic Route which, though it is heavily promoted was almost a non-event, just the one bridge which was (I admit) quite special. We drive through Kristiansund because there isn't really anywhere to park and over a bridge to the Sunadal campsite where we meet with our friends again.
|Sunadal Campsite||OK site, basic facilities.||N 62.98116||E 8.68966|
We set off the next morning and get to Trondheim which we drive around but don't stay.
The weather worsens and we drive along the E14 into Sweden. A long drive down to Oestersund where we check into a campsite not too far from the lake.
|Oestersund Campsite||OK site, basic facilities.||N 63.15955||E 14.6731|
Next morning, well a bit later we head up the middle of the country and find a place to stay overnight between Doretea and Umea on a lake. A delight and quiet too. The silence at this place was palpable, almost thick and the lights stayed on during the night.
Up at the crack of dawn (there wasn't really a dawn as such) and drove down to Umea. We parked beside the river and went to get a coffee. Found the Tourist Office and did some downloading. Back to the café for a latte which was hardly drinkable. Then headed North in the driving rain. A good friend sent an sms and we met in Piteå, for supper. We then drove to his house near Lumea where we spent a number of delightful days meeting his family and also going on a number of trips.
To the World Heritage site in Gammelstad. This community is essentially a church and a collection of very small houses where people from far and wide would "meet" and get hitched. We were very lucky to have one of the residents show us inside her property.
And the Tree Hotel in Harads.
We then leave and join his father and mother near Lyksele where we have a grand time and I catch my first fish! We then proceed to smoke and eat said unfortunate creature - yumm!
After a couple of days we leave and drive up to JokkMokk which is just inside the Artic Circle.
We park in the middle of town and notice it is 03:00 in the morning. Time changes here, something to do with our internal clocks not getting the proper prompts?
|Center of the Town||OK to park here.||66.604365||19.834666|
The next days we visit the Sama Museum in the town and then head off up to Kiruna and visit the Museum there too. Parts of this town are now being moved wholesale in order for the mining corporation to be able to dig underneath the town. The iron ore is what the Germans fought about in WWII. They needed to have the export route to Narvik to be kept open.
We head back towards Norway and find a delightful rest area near the lake a few klicks before the border.
|Rest Area E10||Quiet, beside a lake. No facilities||68.302896||19.231222|
Refreshed after a deep sleep we drive on, over the border, to Narvik and find a coffee, but no place for a haircut.
We head for Tromsoe and look around having found a place for Maria near the University. We leave after some shopping and head off northwards. We find a place to park by the A8 road alongside a fjord just before Skibotn and sleep.
|Rest Area A8||Quiet, beside a lake. No facilities||69.384484||20.199001|
Next morning before before Alto we visit the Tirpiz Museum. After WWII the Norwegians broke up the hulk and used the steel, clever them. On the route we stop for (pretty bad) coffee and admire the view.
Before the end of the day we get to the campsite at Olderfjord.
|Olderfjord Campsite||Quiet, beside a lake. No facilities||69.384484||20.199001|
The next morning we drive in their vehicle to Avenouri for a look out to sea and a coffee and cake.
I then head off towards Finland and spend the night after a long drive on a "road under construction" along the top of Norway
and on to Tana Bru.
|Tana Bru Rest Area||Quiet, beside a river. No facilities||70.198439||28.188336|
The next day we drive to Vadsö and Vardo
to visit the Museum which showed life in previous centuries when Russians came to the town with wheat which they traded for dried fish. The town had a very successful past and is now on the tourist route - by ship of course. We drive back along the coast and find a stop where a number of other camper vans are parked.
|Near Vadsö Rest Area||Quiet, beside an inlet under a hill. No facilities||70.119301||29.236321|
In the morning we climb the hill behind the carpark for a view of Russia - well maybe in the distance.
We then drive back into Tana Bru and take the E8 up the river to Karasjok and enter Finnland. The 92 goes all the way to the E75 on past Ivalö and ended up at Vuotso, outside the souvenir shop.
|Vuotso Rest Area||Quiet, beside the river and next to the shop. No facilities||68.104581||27.12867|
The morning walk takes us along the banks of the river and back before we head off south towards Sodankyla where we have a coffee at the café at the bus station and then find a shop which sells wireless dongles. Then towards Rovaniemi stopping for a short break off the main road where we meet two Swiss guys who are just completing a two weeks break by car around the country.
Nice town Rovaniemi with lots of water and an old railway bridge on one side and a new road bridge on the other. The town was destroyed by the Germans in WWII as part of their "scorched earth" policy as they retreated. The pictures are brutal as documented in the Arcticum.
|Rovaniemi campsite||Very nice campsite on the water, good facilities||66.49743||25.74340|
After the museum we drive south to Oulu and go to the campsite and then a walk along the shore.
|Nallikari (Oulu) campsite||Very nice campsite not far from a beach. Quite a walk into the city.||65.0317||25.4159|
In the morning we walk into town and have a coffee, buy some fish and vegetables. On the way back we talk to a lady who is overseeing a group of women painting the fauna in the woods, all very 19th century. Sunshine makes life very good.
We leave and drive though Kokkola and on down the coast and found a place to park near a timber processing plant at Alholmen. We park in the carpark and then notice there is a small bay. We walk to the quay and see a couple just arriving in a 1930's cruiser. I ask if there is anyone I could ask to be able to stay on the quay? he says that should not be a problem, and if it is I should tell them the Plant Operations Manager says it is OK.
|Alholmen Rest Area||Delightful place to park.||63.701685||22.693471|
Wake up at about 07:00 and have breakfast in the sunlight, grateful for being able to spend the night in such a nice place. Drove into Vasa, parked and walked around after having a coffee and gipfeli. We drove on to Kristinestad and decided to stay for 4 nights.
|Kristinestad campsite||Right on the water with very good facilities. Not far from the town.||62.26502||21.36304|
Visited the local museums and had a rather pleasant few days in this very pretty town full of traditional houses.
This place has magnificent roadsides – plenty of Red Campion! (Just by coincidence my favorite flower.)
Went for a short run in the morning then packed up and headed South. A long but uneventful drive down the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia to Rauma. Went to the library to try out their Wifi. The town is supposed to be the iconic traditional Finnish community, but I found Kristinestad to be preferable. Decided on Nokia as a good place to go to, so headed off in that direction. Boring drive and as it got late decided to sleep overnight at a lorry stop and coffee shop in Huittinen.
|Huittinen Rest Area||Behind the restaurant.||61.176||22.682421|
We drive through Nokia the next day. It seems to be more dead than alive. Not a tyre in sight. Decided to drive to Outokumpu to see what I missed all those years ago when instead of going to Paris to accept I job offer my boss said I I want you to stay. I said I want to get out of the UK for a while. He said I can offer you a contract in several places. One of them was to consult in Finnland. Instead I ended up in Zurich. Long, boring drive, stopped for a coffee a couple of times, also get some “gutzsis” for man’s best friend. Driving rain – nice and clean Maria, also picked up a spring in the wind shield – need to get this fixed. Listened to Radio Vega. Amazing fields of Lupins on the way, especially at crossroads. Arrived in Outukompu to find a town lost to mining – it seems to have moved on to somewhere else. There are jobbos driving around during the late evening so we drive off to find a quite spot to rest for the night and find one a few klicks out of town.
|Outokumpu Rest Area||Behind the restaurant.||62.749421||28.929123|
Had breakfast and tea on the car park and listened to radio Vega – unusual Swedish-speaking channel with some very old and quirky stuff, but also Beach Boys and Dylan – strange! Then we go back into town to visit the museum which is extensive with many exhibits showing how the location was found, the ore dug out of the ground and what was done with it afterwards. The company is still quoted on the Finnish Stock Exchange but seems to have no presence in the town.
We visited the Valamo Monastery on the way south. Coffee and cake, with some Swiss chattering in the background about nothing. Drove on towards Oravi and confronted with a “ferry” – nice idea, and didn't cost anything either. Arrived in Oravi and decided to stay overnight.
Two nights later and we head towards Savonlinna which seems to be a busy tourist town on a lake (what a lake in Finnland?) and a castle to boot. We take in the castle and a walk along the lake then head for Mikkeli which was also deserted. Took the road marked as green and scenic, ending up in Hirvensalmi where we spent the night beside a lake.
|Hirvensalmi Rest Area||Beside the lake and a taxi stand.||61.637522||26.779515|
In the morning took Miloš for a short walk and then off to have coffee and drive the rest of the scenic route through Jutsa and Sysma arriving at the lock system in Vääsky where we have supper and park for the night.(The Wifi from the tourist center works.)
|Asikkala (Vääsky canal) Rest Area||Beside the lake and the lock system.||61.177965||25.535164|
Next stop Lahtia and then to Heinola. Then on to Helsinki and the main campsite. A couple of days we spent doing the tourist things like a boat trip around the islands and shopping in the city. (Marimekko.)
Unfortunately dogs were not allowed in the restaurants, even outside on the terrace.
We decide to go along the coast and end up in Ekenäs which has a great campsite right on the lake and a restaurant which serves salmon and potato soup which goes really well with the local brew. We stay a couple of days.
|Ekenäs Campsite||Superb site with good facilities, shop and restaurant.||59.965526||23.446087|
We then spend a couple of nights in Hanko visiting very good friends who feed us and make us most welcome.
|Hanko Silversand Campsite||OK but basic and scruffy.||59.985271||23.01716|
The also recommend that we do an "island hop" to Sweden, so taking their advice we head to Kustavi arriving at 01:30 and quickly find parking next to a supermarket.
|Kustavi Rest Area||OK for an overnight stay.||60.545097||21.354165|
The following morning we take a short ferry to
another ferry then takes us to one of the smaller islands. (We have to stay one night on one of these islands otherwise the fare is € 350 instead of € 75.) There are very few campsites or places to park but we end up beside the road not far from a restaurant where we have supper. The local Tarn population is not impressed, especially with Miloš and when I take a dip.
|Kumlinge Island Rest Area||OK for an overnight stay.||60.254762||20.735743|
Early the next morning we head to the ferry stop and have a coffee in the local restaurant. The ferry then takes us to Hummelvik and on to Mariahamn. Drive past the campsite and then take off to see the sailing ship Pommen and eat at a restaurant there – yumm steak sandwich with a beer. Walk Miloš around the town to the other side and have a desert and coffee at “Indigo”. Then off we go to the ferry terminal at Eskerö where we get a reservation and ticket for the first sailing for the following week. Then find an inexpensive campsite called Gästheim on the Southern coast of the island. Lots of good walks down to the beach and a "do nothing" time.
|Eckerö Gästheim Campsite||OK, good facilities. Somewhat isolated but convenient for the ferry.||60.169599||19.588598|
Could probably have stayed at the ferry terminal if it had been for only one night. Took the early ferry to
The ferry arrives before midday and we drive to Stockholm and attempt to make contact with an old friend. No response, so we drive into the city and look at the campsite under a bridge. It is seriously scruffy so decide to drive on to one of the local historical sites -the Drottningholm Palace.
|Källtorpssjön lake Rest Area||Big carpark for the lake.||59.288956||18.160727|
We then have two nights on the quay in the middle of the city, spending time at the museums, walking around and meeting the friend for lunch. Nice!
Further south we want to go to the lake where Jönköpping is the main city to the south.
|50 Road Rest Area||Carpark beside a bridge over a lake.||58.811619||14.93854|
Much heavy rain during the night. The following morning we head down the lake and have coffee at by the harbour and castle at Vadstena. It seems this is a religious center with people and signs expressing their personal feelings?
The area is bristling with wheat fields, is this the wheat bowl of Sweden?
Sweden seems to be populated by names I recognize.
Gizlaved - Tyres
Husveka - Small machines
Persdorp - Construction materials - for me this means pre-fabricated squash courts
Oh and Helsingborg was the home of Tretorn - shoes.
We enter Kalmar and spend about a week there enjoying the sunshine, local Wifi access, the local shops and the quiet.
This used to be a point of departure for ships heading to America. The local museum is good.
|Kalmar Port Road Rest Area||Quiet, a few other camper vans. No services. Close to the town center.||56.66345||16.37090|
We do drive over to öland, but it is simply too crowded. Life in Kalmar is delightful and inexpensive.
We leave to go to Karlskrona and the Naval Museum, have a bite to eat in the town and walk down by the submarine base.
We go on down the coast and find a place to park just off the E22.
|E22 Road Rest Area||Surprisingly quiet||58.811619||14.93854|
Then on down the coast to a big field at Käseberga where we spend the night.
|Käseberga Rest Area||Big field with a Scout Hut with miserable facilities. Kr. 100 a night.||58.811619||14.93854|
The next morning we are up to inspect the "Viking Ship" which is a burial ground which was featured in a Wallander" episode.
And on to Ystad to discover more "Wallander" attractions and a lot of said tourists. But the library has free Wifi and friendly staff.
We park along the coast alongside a lot of other camper vans. It seems they are waiting for the ferry to Poland - at least some of them.
|Ystad Rest Area||Functional with no facilities. Supermarkets and fuels stops nearby.||58.811619||14.93854|
Then we drive around the coast as the weather really turns inclement. We end up parked by the port in Bästad
|Bästad Rest Area||Functional with no facilities. Supermarkets and fuels stops nearby.||58.811619||14.93854|
Still poor weather the following morning but we walk around the port and grab a good cup of coffee and something Swedish and sweet too. Still a bit damp. We head up to Halmstad and go to the library where we manage a coffee and an hour or so on the net. Up the E20 to Grimeton the Radio World Heritage Site. What a delight this museum is.
By lunchtime we are getting reports of a bomb in Oslo and an attack on some youngsters on an island in Norway. We go back to Kalmar even if it is a long drive. Why do I like the place?
After several quiet days we head down to Malmö and stay overnight - with local food (fritadelles ) - outside a friend's.
We then head to Malmö for a walk along what was the docklands - I once had a business meeting with a company which built submarines for the Swedish Navy Kokums, but they are no longer here, but there is an educational institute and some joker architect has been given funds to build a folly...
The area is very respectable and middle class in contrast to what I hear about much of the rest of the city. I did some consulting for Kokums many years before when they were still building submarines. The company seems to be gone now and I couldn't find anything I could recognize. At the time the docks were being used to build the concrete structures for the bridge foundations.
We take the bridge which I had wanted to try for some time. Spectacular!
In Denmark we head straight for Mons Klint, the Danish equivalent of The White Cliffs of Dover. We park, eat and rest for the night.
|Mons Klimt Campsite||OK facilities, a bit crowded and unfriendly staff||54.980695||12.524231|
The following morning we are up before the kids are and head off to the cliffs.
There are hundreds of birds which have found the perfect home in the chalk.
Off back over the bridge which connects the island to the main island and onto the motorway and drive down to Rödby, straight to the ferry terminal. Wait less than an hour and off we go. All rather easy.
Onto the motorway at the other end, past Lubeck and get stuck in a traffic jam South of Kiel going cross country. Eventually end up waiting for the ferry to cross to Wischhafen, no problems with the trip, some guy collecting the payment wanted to express how much he loved New Zealand. Decided to stay the night at the car park just off the ferry landing. Walked Miloš on the dyke.
|Wischhafen ferry terminal Rest Area||No facilities, functional||53.785548||9.339761|
Drove South to see if we could find a nice place to walk and observe the water traffic, which we did not far from Stade, some big container ships. Then back up the coast and along the top to Cuxhafen which is a mess, but did find the Tourist Information office which had a Wifi connection. Then South to Neufeld and stay the night, windy but good.
Drive through Bremerhafen because nothing there of interest. On to Bremen and need to avoid the city center, so park on the other side of the river. Find a Starbucks for internet and then a short walk by the Ratshaus which is apparently a World Heritage Site. Then back to Maria and drive away up the coast. Side roads mostly, not much traffic. Drive through Berne and end up in Elsfleth – what a strange spelling. Do some shopping then drive to the port and park. This used to be where the Training Ships were based, in fact still one around so a woman says. Now comes the interesting part – Miloš make hay with a 2 year-old black Labrador and gets stuck as males do, it takes a while before the part. The lady walking the dog (not the owner) is joking about this and we talk a lot about the area, what works, what doesn't, the tourists and the port. Miloš then throws up his (late) lunch – maybe a reaction to the special event?
|Elsfleth Rest Area||No facilities, quiet beside the water.||53.237755||8.465276|
The following day we drove around to Sande, where there was a camper van company and free water and disposal facility, then on to Wilhelmshaven to have a coffee and croissant and get change to wash Maria, but then saw the place was closed on Sunday. Drove to a port – seems to be a docklands area with a number of naval vessels. Spend a quiet night.
|Wilhelmshaven Port Rest Area||No facilities, impressive ships||53.525775||8.148624|
The drive around the coast is not impressive because the dykes are too high to get a view.
In Emden I get a haircut - long overdue and we drive around to the entrance to the harbour where there isn’t a place until a Mercedes leaves and we drive in. Miloš gets a nice long walk by the inner harbour, the locks are being worked on together with the dyke.
|Emden Port Rest Area||No facilities but a great location out of the town.||53.337664||7.183791|
Up about 07:00 and walk along the quay, much noise from the silo across the water – a granary, sucking stuff from a long flat barge. Saw the burial boat which featured in a TV programme recently. A rather wonderful warm sunny start to the day
Along the road which is the barrier which made the Ijsselmeer and end up at one of the stops from the camper book, but it is really not good and seriously full. Drive on up the coast Northwards. Found a parking place for camper vans in the original (1800s) harbour facilities at Den Helder.
|Den Helder. Port Rest Area||LOvely place but costs € 10 per night.||52.962437||4.770415|
We end up in Wijk ann Zee and are reminded of nothing from a visit on a school trip 50 years before. Drive along the coastal road to a car park not far from the Ironworks. We walk along the breakwater which extends about 2 klicks into the North Sea. Many fishermen with their long rods but there seems to be limited activity. Drive back across the country towards Etam along a rather narrow country road to a campsite recommended in the victorious book, but they are not friendly and anyway it is a long long way from the town. Drive to the main campsite in the town but they don’t take dogs, so we drive on to Hoorm and register with the (expensive) campsite there.
|Den Helder Port Rest Area||Lovely place but costs € 10 per night.||52.962437||4.770415|
Up early around 06:30 and did the shower thing. Then headed off to the city of Hoorm, with Miloš looking very appreciative as he trotted beside me. Walked along the dyke and into the marina area. Stopped for coffee at a place where there was a really good internet signal.
After a few days spent doing chores we head to Amsteram to do the Van Gogh Museum, not really a good idea, but we find a place to park and queue for tickets. Headed for the coast where we stopped at Scheveningen – where I was years before for the DEC/Shell meetings lead by Geoff Shingles. We drove on to find a coffee and the up-market supermarket at a place called Vlaardingen. Then up the coast found a parking place next to the main entrance to Rotterdam harbour - having passed some really beautiful water landscapes. slept well in spite of some noisy revelers.
|Vlaardingen Ferry Rest Area||No facilities and a bit busy||51.914691||4.250676|
The country seems full of petrol stations but only a few supermarkets, and the roads are crowded.
Up at 06:00 or so for a walk along the cycle path with Miloš. Then we drove through Rotterdam and on to the barriers down south, these were built after a raging storm killed 30'000 people in the 1950s. Had a long walk on an endless beach with some powerful wind turbines - majestic beasts these! After coffee in a small village with a very musical church tower – it played a Steve Wonder song, we go on to Middelburg, park and walk around then find a place to have a beer and a snack – funny meatballs with mustard and mayonnaise. The fun fare looked rather dangerous – especially if one stood underneath and one of the participants would be sick! Drove through the rain to a parking in Hulst, don’t have to pay and good walking for Miloš if not enough, at least he gets to do his business. During the night the local bother-boys in their supped-up cars come by to wake us – how thoughtful!
|Hulst Rest Area||No facilities but a nice location||51.16.627||4.02.963|
Then drive around the village and off towards Breda, but decide on Antwerpen instead – nice city, pretty art-deco buildings, huge cathedral. Have a good lunch – steak in juice and fries with the local beer too. Then head off in sunshine to Neerpelt and park beside the canal – lovely and a good walk for Miloš too!
Settle down and enjoy the rain during the night!
|Neerpelt Rest Area||Electricity and lovely and quiet beside the canal.||51.14.007||5.25.976|
Up after much rain and walk Miloš. No shower (Maria is leaning too far backwards) and exit the town.
Head towards Rees which we enter and park near the Ratshaus in the main square. Have a coffee and talk to the young man smoking at the next table who seems to be a footie fan. Then buy some postcards and get internet access at a bookshop. Write the postcards and drive to another parking place near what I assume is a dyke near the river but it isn’t that close. Head off along the other side with Miloš and meet a Swiss woman who tells of her life and the Nuclear Power-station which was never commissioned and has been stripped of its copper by a Dutch owner and turned into a kids playground and theme park. (Cost €1).
Head Eastwards in the hope of finding a parking place, assisted by ADAC. Arrive in Senden. Some rain during the night but mostly the water being shaken off the tree under which we have parked.
|Senden Rest Area||No facilities, not far from the village next to the swimming pool.||51.854509||7.475857|
We head off to Münster and park off the ring road. Walk into town and find some churches and the main drag. After much searching do find a Starbucks and sit inside as the rain begins. Drive to Paderborn to park outside the house of some friends we met in Norway. They drive me around and feed me for a couple of days which is very nice of them. Paderborn still has a large contingency of British military and an old town center. There seems to be a lot going on, including the European Squash Championships! The Heinz Nixdorf Museum is closed so there isn't a chance to see a facsimile of the Zeus computer, will have to come back.
We then drive to Bad Wildungen and spend the night on near the train station. I search in vain for the house where a friend lived, a man who helped me repair a car I had tried to demolish many years ago. My memory seems to have faded, I can't even remember the features of his delightful girlfriend.
|Bad Wildungen Rest Area||No facilities, not far from the village next to the swimming pool.||51.120462||9.137282|
Then on the next morning to Marburg with its hilltop castle and some rain. Then to Giessen, a much more modern mess and where the service stations appear to be well hidden, though we do find one eventually. Then down the motorway past Frankfurt, then off to Worms – much too far out of my way, then decided on the rest area in Ladenburg, but Garmin took us to a ferry and we had to drive a long way around the villages.
|Ladenburg Rest Area||Lovely spot beside the river. N.B. The actual location has now changed, but is nearby.||49.464401||8.608848|
Heading the next day for Heidelberg. We find a place to park and a great café with Cappuccino, gipfeli and internet access. Also walk around the town to the bridge and get a photo of the old university on the hill. Then out of town up the river, find a place to have eats but not a nice place to stay. Off to Göppingen and drive around. This is the town where Märklin used to produce millions of train sets, no longer, kids play games on the computer instead. After driving around a lot we eventually found the Arena parking.
|Göppingen - Arena Rest Area||Just a big carpark next to a stadium and a large green park.||48.711608||9.647593|
Took Miloš for a walk and ate. A little noisy during the night – these youngsters again. This is the 50th anniversary of the raising of the Berlin wall.
Drive to Geislingen, Blaubeuren and Ehingen. Blaubeuren is a big tourist place but Ehingen is a mess, but with a great parking place on the top of a hill. No wireless, but got water at the restaurant with a coffee.
|Ehingen Rest Area||East of the town||48.16.50||9..44.06|
In the morning we drive on to Biberach which is a mess. Drive on To Bad Waldsee – the first thing we see is a huge Hymer facility. We find the service center and park there. I buy the stuff Maria needs and have a coffee and net access. We walk into the town and get damp – eventually finding a place to eat – Italian and good. I ask about a Vet for Miloš and we go there and only have to wait for half an hour. Get stuff for Miloš and walk around the rest of the lake. Back and pickup stuff from the store and move Maria to the parking for an overnight stay.
|Hymer Rest Area||No water but electricity right behind the big showroom. Coffee in the showroom.||47.928389||9.758525|
Drove towards Friedrichshafen and then to Middleberg – but decided to go around instead. All ok, drove through Singen and on to Zurich where we stay for a few days, meet family and friends while Maria gets some attention.
We leave towards the end of August and head for Gstaad to meet a good friend and walk in the mountains. I get to serve Champers during the Gstaad Music Festival, who would have thought it?
Then back to Zürich and to Weisslingen to stay for a few days with good friends.
Eventually we head off to Neuchatel and spend a day with another good friend who was the office manager for a company I worked for in Neuchatel. She is now retired and travels a lot, especially to Siri Lanka.
The following day takes us around Yverdon and up to Vallorbe and along the lake (Lac du Joux) and over a pass to the small hamlets near the lake and the shopping center near Nyon for a coffee and a kip while it rains. Then along the motorway to the service station for a coffee, some shopping and a kip while the rain falls. Then drive up to Le Muids and go to sleep after a brief walk.
The following day, after a few chores we drive the back roads to St Cerque and straight into France. After a walk around a waterfall en route I finish the Christopher Hitchens book – “God is Not Great”. Then on to Pierre be Bresse where we set up shop next to the large country house Rest Area. The fairground seems to have ceased operation the previous night - just as well!
Then on to Miloš's breeder in the same area where we spend a few very pleasant days doing nothing much at all. One thing we do do during this time is have supper in a restaurant which I first visited in 1974 with a Danish girlfriend, funny to be there after all those intervening years. Good fish and great white wine from Macon!
We then set-off and pass by Macon and get lost after travelling to the West of Lyon and end up on the St. Etienne motorway, but then find the N7 down the Rhone – marvellous! We go through Vienne - which is where I stopped the bike ride all those years ago. Down towards Valence and end up careering through the countryside before finding the lovely camping park in the village of Beausembant where Miloš gets a walk.
|Beausembant Rest Area||Very nice stop, recently rejuvenated.||45.21846||4.833264|
Down to Valence which we skirted and then headed Southeast towards Crest and then the mountain route towards Gap. Then the road really develops into a great pass road. But before we stop for a walk around a village with kids playing and we eat breakfast and have a coffee. The pass is spectacular, then we head on the Route Napolean to Grasse and a heavy traffic jam, but we survive and get to the Antibes road and arrive at a friend's house overlooking the bay of Antibes.
We stay for several days visiting restaurants, going shopping and drinking coffee in Cannes as well as discussing the camper van life.
I pack and do a few things in Maria and we all set off for Nice Airport. We get there (quite quickly) and park. After a goodbye session Miloš and I foot it to the main road and walk, and walk, and walk all along “Promenade des Anglais” in the sun all the way to the port. There is no water or shade most of the way, but at the port we find an hydrant which serves the immediate purpose. I ask where the ferry leaves from and we walk all around the port. I need food, so we eat at the same place we did in the Spring which turns out to be poor and then we go looking for Wifi and a coffee, neither of which are to be found. So we do the shopping – dog food and milk to drink and head back to the port and wait for the ferry to arrive – first the one just arrived has to empty and be re-loaded. Our ship turns up and reverses into the harbour.
We climb aboard and go directly to the sun deck. All is well as we grab a deck chair and move to the shady side, then to the sunny side. I get a drink or two and we watch the sun go down. It is warmer in the self-service restaurant where we stay, with me watching a few news videos more or less up until we need to move to the exit.
We dock and my great friend meets us. We bundle into his car and set off for his coastside retreat where I basically collapse.
We spend the next few days doing the tourist thing on Corsica, talking and swimming in the Med - every morning.
Back in Golf Juan we eat oyster with other good friends, do some shopping, walk, watch movies, etc...
We leave and set off through Nice and up the coast until the "short cut" through to Torino is available. We go up this pass which is amazing
not least because there is a train all the way up. We manage to find a campsite which is closed in the town of Tende.
The following morning we headed off up the pass and into the tunnel, on the other side (Italy) it was already Autumn and down on the plain there was very little traffic and very fertile land – plenty of fruit trees. We drive on to CAvalleno and Cunea for coffee and then into Souzza to Vodafone. The lady there sorted me out and I got a dongle which worked. We then drove to Barge and found the parking.
|Barge Rest Area||Up the hill from the town.||44.730119||7.320819|
We walk into town and have a coffee. Not special. But someone has done something special with the local heather...
Drove around Alba and found the campsite. Then we walk into town in the warm sunshine where we get advice from the Tourist Office and try and find a restaurant listed in the Lonely Planet which is closed, so we eat in a Pizzeria – curry poulet??? Then we take a quick look into the cathedral and the Natural History Museum.
|Alba Campsite||Up the hill from the town.||44.684144||8.01246|
It seems that the TV is telling us that Steve Jobs has passed on – a master of design. We sit in the coffee shop and get free internet access, but first Miloš gets a “Walk in the Park”. All seems well and we talk to the two ladies from Northern Germany about where to go, they are going shopping and then heading off home. Off we go to Barolo and visit the Wine Museum – rather kitschy, and the wine tasting palace – meeting a couple from Aussie.
We drive up to Novello which is not special, although the view is. Back down the hill and drive to Sommariva Perno where I eat and take Miloš for a “quickie” where we meet a lady who gives us a couple of maps about the park. We try and find the park but fail, so we drive on. We arrive in Chieri and park in the recommended aire, next to the “Vigili del Fuoco” – the fire station.
|Chieri Rest Area||Up the hill from the city.||45.014436||7.832441|
Then a quick walk, shower and shave followed by a walk to the village – Chieri to see if there is another bar, but there isn’t so we go back to the one near the parking. The school kids have gone in the buses – could be a day trip? Have a coffee and the usual croissant with marmalade – not so keen because they are rather sweet. We drive up the hill and down into the city to the place where a friend said we might be able to park with other camper vans. We get there and I have a sleep. Decide to try the campsite at Villa Rey, which we drive to and pick a spot.
|Villa Rey Campsite||Above the city next to an old mansion.||45.064223||7.719327|
Got up almost in the dark and shave and take a shower. Had a walk and breakfast. Walk down the hill with Miloš and catch a 59 bus into town (not the number 3 tram – which was a bus) and get to the main square – Castello and go to Piazza Carlo and have a coffee. We meet a friend in Piazza Carlo where we have another coffee and a long chat. We then walk back to Castello and around the walls to a small café where we have pasta of the day, served by a really nice looking woman who speaks good English too. Then we walk through parts of the old town – what a delightful city it is!
We part and Miloš and I head back in the 59 bus. The conductor says Miloš should have a muzzle but gives up. We arrive back at the campsite and pack up. At 15:00 we drive back into the city and park Maria outside the Fiat Museum. We all go in and view the exhibition. (There is an event being prepared for Lavatta and Martini with much singing and rehearsing taking place.) My toe is bothering me, so I take it easy. We then head off to Eataly in the old FIAT headquarters – a most impressive do-over
and we walk around the shop and have a great Pizza together.
And off we drive back to Chieri for a second quite night.
Breakfast in sunshine then head off guided by Garmin. A gloriously sunny day so we head off through Asti towards Piacenta. We get somewhat “lost” in Allesandria – too many narrow streets – must avoid this! Get funds and also inexpensive Q8 fuel and a cup of coffee in a bar outside of town too. Head for a place recommended in the ADAC guide and we do find it.
|Fontanelatto Rest Area||Over the motorway and the railway line. Full of solar panels - but no electricity available.||44.87767||10.170334|
Soon a camper van from VS turns up and we chat for a while with him, his wife and their daughter together with her friend.
We head off towards Bussano, passing a homestead with a hen and her chicks running around free in the grass. When we arrive in the village there is a celebration at Verdi’s birthplace – it is his birthday – after 198 years! Have a look around, take photos, have a couple of coffees and sent postcards – and send them too because the post office is right there.
Head off to the Verdi Museum – which is open, even though it is Monday – and go inside, not special, each room is painted and there is a description (automatic for each room) about the style and the music he wrote at the time. We get a ticket for the Villa he lived in and drive off to the car park there and wait. At 14:30 I walk to the villa and there are a group of people from down under, with an Italian-speaking guide. They say there will be a visit, we wait. The visit is very good with Patricia explaining in English. Take some photos.
We drive around Parma and take the secondary (good) road towards Moderna. I have a problem with my eyes and we end up in a gypsy site. After much hassle and a false-alarm we get to the parking place in the village of Montale and settle down for the night.
|Montale Castelnuovo Rest Area||Behind some shops, quite quiet.||44.578917||10.908307|
Up and walk Miloš, then shower and fruity breakfast, then a coffee at the local shop, well billiard hall. Lots of praise for Miloš from a man from an island near Sicily. Drive down to Ferarri and take some photos, some guy in a Bordeaux-red car making a lot of noise.
Drive around to the campsite – municipal of Bologna – and enter.
|Bologna Municipal Campsite||Not bad.||44.52333||11.37388|
Take the bus into the city at 13:00 and walk around. It is dusty, dirty and full of people. But meet some Aussies who admire Miloš and eat fastish food – Aubergine and Parmegano and a glass of Primitivo. Walk past the University where every man and his dog appear to be registering…. Have too much coffee and then head back to the campsite at 16:40, only 3 people and a dog as passengers, quite a service.
Up and shower, walk Miloš and get told off by the manager about him pissing on the roses, which he didn’t do. We drive to Ravenna and drive around a bit to find one of the Basilica. We do eventually find the one we are looking for and meet some Swiss people. I visit the basilica in Classe which is amazing due mainly to it shear size but also because of the marble columns and given that it was built in the 500’s – amazing. The area above the altar is beautiful – green, gold and white.
Miloš gets a walk and meets a friendly female – a fluffy young thing! We spend a peaceful night.
|Classe Rest Area||Nice spot, right next to the Basilica.||44.378322||12.234938|
We drive into town with some trouble finding the basilica, even though we have been given a tip and even a map. We find the carpark and I look at the amazing basilica – so high, but not half as pretty as the one in Classe!
We then drive the coast road, most of which is good even if the road surface is pretty poor. There are 2 solar energy farms on the way. We drive along this road not finding money initially and also having a great deal of trouble finding a supermarket. We eventually find an Auchun and get what we need, even if this is in the back-of-beyond. We spend a few hours in San Marino after parking under the cable car. The weather is not good and the people in charge of the cable car insist Miloš wears a muzzle – not good.
Then we go along the coast, stopping beside the Adriatic, but staying seems not to be an option. In the end I find a parking place in a local community in the hills, I just can't remember anymore where it was.
We drove away and up over the hills, fantastic, unlike anything I have seen before, and a wonderful fresh smell. Some of the roads are really a worry, and some are up and down – rather steeply. We stop for diesel and a coffee, where one of the patrons is very impressed with Miloš. We take their advice to take the main road to Foligno and then turn right to Assisi. On the way we pass another solar energy place. We drive around Assis and decide to leave. We head towards Perugia and go through to Magione on the top of a hill and then down to the lake. We find the hotel/campsite and decide to stay even if the lady on the reception is not very friendly.
|Kursaal Hotel Campsite||A lovely site. It even has a dog wash!||43.18277||12.151082|
Maria goes to near the lake and then, because we can’t get satellite reception we move, but still no signal. Later on in the evening it is time to watch both “Under a Tuscan Sun” - which is poor, and not just because it is synchronised, and then “The Social Network”, which is a good story, but no idea how it relates to the real developments. We stay a few days and do manage to advance in the priority list until we have a place right on the lake.
Watch movies, read, walk into the village for provisions and general do not-much-at-all for about a week.
Some things happen in the world during our stay. Royal Wooton Basset is recognized by Princess Anne, must go there next Spring. President Obama inaugriated the new Martin Luther King memorial on the Washington Mall with a very African American directed speech and Gaddafi is killed in Libya.
When we leave we buy several litre bottles of local Olive Oil. Yumm!
Paid and packed up and left towards Siena, drove up and down Cortona on the way, no parking, so went on our merry way. Found a shop near Siena and stocked up, good stuff. Drove to the campsite and after having made a mistake by driving too low down, found a nice spot where the TV works.
|Casciano Campsite||Country site, facilites OK, not many people and a brisk walk from the village.||43.154679||11.333239|
We stay a couple of days. A German couple arrives and we chat. They have a big (7 tonnes) camper van and a trailer with an old beetle convertible on it. In Germany older people can drive up to 7 tonnes with their original license – before the country accepted common EU licensing. A long trek through the rolling hills to Saturnia with a walk around the village. Lunch (not very good) in the garden of the best-looking restaurant in the square, with the wench spluttering while standing around waiting for something to happen. Am I no longer susceptible to salt? SMSed with Viera. Then down to the coast to find the parking place described in the Italian on-line directory of stops, drove first past this to the village which looked to be an up-market joint, then back to the Bio-market (which is closed) and walk Miloš before relaxing in front of the TV to admire how the Libyans are getting on with their country, although there may be a real danger of the Muslims gaining control and proclaiming Sharia law. The All-Blacks won the Rugby World Cup – by a single point.
|Orbetello Rest Area||Just a dusty carpark on the beach.||42.524693||11.18805|
There are quite a number of flies and may-bugs in Maria. Miloš seems to be warm enough maybe it is warmer in general down here on the coast? Took a landscape picture early in the morning. Spoke to some Germans on the seafront, then walked with Miloš to the local village and back - Talamone. Did some shopping there in a very small shop. Some guys decide to windsurf in the afternoon, one of them is a complete flop, maybe because of the pasta he had at lunch?
Drove on the coast road northwards to the point – Pimobino, what a dump, lots of industry. Then tried a small coastal off-shoot road where we sight a group of camper vans. Took Miloš for a rather windy walk along the beach, something he really loves now-a-days, and he did. Then back through the woods and back to Maria. The sign says “Val di Cornia”. There was a lot of wind and rain during the night, but we were cosy, as per usual.
|Pappasole Rest Area||Also just a carpark. This time behind a line of pines and a long sandy beach.||42.947435||10.691896|
We then head South along the road we had originally taken North – rather a pleasant drive. Then on to the port of Grosseto which was nice. We walked on the beach and had a coffee and took some pictures. Then took the coastal road and went to the half-island which was a waste of time. Then tried several times to get to the beach where we had lunch near one of them. Then took the motorway to the Lido de Ostia where we found the Aire, which was unusable, so we drove to the campsite opposite the beach road which is not very salubrious. Registered with the sweetie on the reception desk and found a place to park.
|Lido de Ostia Campsite||Just across from the beach, but scruffy.||41.70564||12.339861|
The following day we walk for hours and hours along the road towards the port, but it was simply too far. Walked a little on the beach on the way back. There are hundreds of "private" beach areas, but the actual beach seems to be common access. This time of year there are very few people around.
We visit Ostia which used to eba busy port for Roma. Water from the Tiber river used to flow in and around this settlement.
After a few days we decide go past the airport to visit Tivoli - the water gardens to the east of Roma. This place is spectacular, though many of the over 7'000 water items don't work, the big ones do. It is amazing to see how the other 1% lived - it probably isn't much different today.
Then off to the Bio campsite in Montefiascone.
|Montefiascone Rest Area||An area with free electricity, next to a shop selling organic products. Well worthwhile.||42.533315||12.042753|
In the morning we look around the town and buy a few things. Then we discover the view of the day....
Then it's off down the country to Toscania for lunch, such a pretty town.
We then drive to the lake near Bracciano.
|Lungolago Rest Area||Just park in the road along with other camper vans. Right next to the lake shore. Very pleasant in the off season.||42.110493||12.180581|
Stay two nights taking coffee in the mornings at the café at the beginning of the one-way system where the owner is English. A good source for local knowledge.
Then on to the village where the pope has his summer palace. You have to see this place, such luxury and full of believers above a volcano lake.
|Castel Gondolfo Rest Area||Not too far from the village center. The rubbish collectors come around a bit early here.||41.744344||12.645607|
In the evening saw lots of kids dressed up as witches – Halloween! Went to bed after watching the locals play football on the newly marked-out mud-pitch. Decided to visit the naval museum, which was not at all interesting really. Shame the Germans buggered it up by burning the Roman boats in 1944 on their way out.
It is a holiday in Italy today – All Holy or some such, so a market in the towns and masses of people going to churches. Drove on to the coast at Anzio, where an uncle fought in WWII. Bought some vegetables at a shop run by Romanians. Then walked on the beach and drove via a number of really straight roads to the hills to Ceccano to spend the night next to an English camper van.
|Ceccano Rest Area||Functional stay with a good café for morning coffee.||N 41 34 5||E 13 19 36|
Spoke to the Englishman for a while after having been to the town to buy stamps. Not a hope in hell because today is the first day of the month and the Post Office is overflowing with pensioners. Drive back down to the coast – a really nice drive and end up in Sabaudia which I liked a lot - thanks Mussilini. Got coffee and information. Also met some people who spoke German to help with finding the Post Office (another waste of time, also full of pensioners). Then to the beach and down the coast to the big hill. Drive to the beach and walk Miloš before having caprese salad for lunch. Then back to the town for another coffee, a haircut and another coffee. Bought some new reading glasses too. Walked Miloš through the park down to the lagoon and then drove the coast road up to Figalio where a French couple with an elderly Dobermann were parked by the beach, so we stopped there too. Had a Greek salad for supper – yumm!
|Figalio Rest Area||On the road, next to the beach||41.409476||12.8626|
We leave early – without a shower or shave – and head on Northwards to the parking in the town, but it is empty and we park by the beach, give Miloš a walk and don’t find a place to have coffee. We continue and find a small coffee place. We drive up the coast and find a supermarket and grocer. We stock-up with lots of goodies. We arrive at the campsite just north of Roma and park so I can have lunch.
|Happy Village Campsite||North of Roma, quiet with OK facilities. The restaurant is popular.||42.003732||12.452319|
Some friends turn up unexpectedly and we have supper together - very good.
We leave and drive to the airport to check it out, then to Ostia for lunch. Back to the airport and meet my sister and her man who have come for a few days. Then back to Ostia. We meet for lunch, but the weather is really poor. We also met again on the day they leave for the UK.
The next stop is the city which suffered a devastating earthquake in 2009 - L'Aquila. On the motorway in the tunnels, the lights pointed away from the direction of the traffic – clever – it doesn’t blind the driver. The old quarter is almost like a ghost town, a huge number of substantial buildings, and all with massive cracks held together by steel supports. More than 300 people died that day in April.
I can't see how any of these buildings will ever be usable again, so when will it all be demolished? I wonder what the locals think and how they can revive their fortunes?
Had another coffee and sandwich in the park and then drove on to Populis down a wonderful valley, then took the motorway almost to Pescara. Then drove along the coast looking for a place to rest, no joy, then remembered that someone had mentioned some places so drove to Termoli, found the official camper van place which was closed, so drove to the port and parked next to an Italian who was constantly on the phone.
|Termoli Port Rest Area||Functional, no facilities. Café in the port. Some noise.||42.006097||15.004191|
Up and had a coffee at the almost deserted and rough café in the harbour where some fool stood on Miloš’s tail – with the expected reaction. Then drove down the coast to Lesina where the lagoon begins, drive on the old road to the real coast, then up and down and up and down to Veste and walked on the beach after the town. Far too many hills, lots of Olive groves. Then drove through Manfredonia and towards the coast on a terrible road, stopping at Marhgerita di Savoia for a walk. Then through Barletta, which was also not useful. Got some diesel and then decided to head for Alberbello – going all the way around Bari. Rough site and a bit cold.
|Alberobello Bosco Selva Campsite||Functional, very basic facilities. Not too far from the village.||40.770967||17.236502|
We are up early the following day to see the sights before the crowds arrive. This is a "World Heritage Site".
Fascinating, small houses. I can hardly imagine what it would have been like to live in such a tight-knit, controlling community.
There was a man mowing his grass as we walked back to the campsite – there was the most wonderful smell of Ruggula in the air. Drove, mainly via the back roads, to Lecce, well the ring road, then down the coast. Very flat, not a cloud in the sky and warm. There was this man and his wife on a lay-by on the motorway throwing out his trash to the side of the road – what children these Italians can be! Drove around Otranto, but nowhere to park, so went on taking the coastal road to the campsite near Gagliano del Capo, which is not bad. But it is cold because of the Northerly wind.
|Gagliano del Capo Campsite||Good place but quite a walk from the town.||39.824054||18.368838|
Packed up and left early driving to Gallipoli and on to small villages, sunny but not special. Had a good coffee in Porto Cesareo.
Taranto was a big mess, so drove along Italy's "instep" and on to a campsite on a hill.
|Bernalda Campsite||Good place quiet and a magnificent view from the top of a hill.||40.457752||16.759927|
And this is how people used to live in Matera.
Drove down to the WWF parking, but this was a waste of time. Drove on after getting food etc at a supermarket with speakers in the carpark blaring out all sorts of drivel. By the time the sun was gone we had found the ”Da Mario” campsite in Mandatoriccio.
|Mandatoriccio Campsite||By the beach, good facilities||39.52386||16.899616|
After a week-long rest up we drive directly to Reggio di Calabria and boarded a ferry to Messina. The roads on the way were based on bridges and tunnels, many of which were being repaired. I wonder if they will be done when we return after the Winter – I suppose not. The ticket is valid for 3 months – until the 26th of February. Drove on the motorway along the Northern coast to Falcone and Oliveri, finding a campsite in Marinello where the girl on the reception wanted to speak German. We couldn’t access the beach, but all is OK. Maria is one-eyed at the moment – need to replace the headlamp bulb on the driver’s side.
|Marinello Campsite||In the shadow of a big hill, no satellite reception and basic facilities.||38.133514||15.054477|
Took a morning run on the beach below the cliffs and the lagoon and long beach.
The long drive to Catania where we tanked-up and found a Fiat dealer so got a lamp or two to repair the headlight. Then on and on towards Syracusa which we missed and down to the coast and along to the West. We found a small supermarket to get the addition stuff for the coming days. The Luminoso campsite in Santa Crosa was easy to find and the reception was staffed by a pleasant young woman who filled in all the forms and told us about the private toilet and the rest of the facilities. We parked and settled in before walking on the beach.
|Luminoso Campsite||Nice site, right on the beach. A bit small and therefore crowded.||36.816921||14.46593|
Walked on the beach and the cliffs with Miloš, some running but not enough, also clambered on the rocks – the number of bottles is amazing, these Italians really are like children, such complete disrespect for their own environment.
During a few weeks at this site made some friends, cycled to the local town for provisions, cash and a haircut. Then decide on some sight-seeing so off we go northwards to go around the island.
Then set off for the Eden campsite, first a stop at a service station to give Maria a wash – such a shiny one now. Then a lovely road up through the hills with the fields hemmed-in with stone fences and then a magnificent view of the plain from the top, lots of sun too, but the two lane road is dangerous – well some pushy drivers – I wonder how many accidents there are? Then before Catania the flat part which I sort of remember. Took the wrong road – thanks Garmin – should have stayed on the motorway, but do eventually get back onto it.
|Eden Campsite||Scruffy site, but free Wifi and close to the beach. Very inexpensive.||36.816921||14.46593|
Stay for a few days enjoying the fact that the floods have long since subsided and the area is deserted. Lovely views of Etna and the bay below Taomina.
Then off on a trip around the island to see some of the sights, so drive to an Esso service station to get gas, but the attendant says I can’t have any, I think he does not understand that if the gas bottles are fixed it is allowed by EU law. Head to Messina and then along the coast on the motorway and drove and drove to the campsite recommended by friends, but first a bit of shopping.
|Ras Gerbi Campsite||Nice site, OK facilities. Friendly, right above the cliffs, but not much sun.||38.024887||14.152949|
Had a coffee outside Carfuti and then attempted to drive through the town, what a mess, then on the coastal road all the way to Palermo including a factory area and a nice lunch of pasta with salmon at a small beach kiosk at a small port. Then into Palermo to the “Green Parking” which was not at all green. Then had a Ramazzotti on the main drag followed by artichokes in Maria.
|Green Parking||Crappy facilities, but right in the heart of the city - and there is a watchman 24/7!||38.110233||13.342804|
Next morning strolled along the Corso Calatafimi past the cathedral and on to the flea market at Vila Garibaldi with its amazing trees.
Looks like the finance department is not in the best of shape.
Then we head off to the Greek Temple in Seguta but first we go to the village looking for a restaurant which we don’t find, but what we do find is a road up the hill where I find a turn-around place which is just too small and she gets a crunch – again. (Number 3.)
Then down to the coast as it gets dark and we drive though the valleys to “La Pineta” at San Vito Lo Capo. Miloš gets a walk and we sleep.
|La Pineta Campsite||A lovely site with excellent facilities.||38.173095||12.747765|
This is a delightful place, warm, soft, white sand. And few people, even at the local fish restaurant.
And some entertainment for Miloš too.
We stay a few days and then set off southwards. Passing a view of the bay we missed in the dark.
Then down the coast road looking for an eatery but none until we arrive in Tarapino where we go to Angalino’s – a daily menu. We then go shopping and drive (for quite a while) down the coast to Petrosino where we find the campsite and walk Miloš on the beach road.
|Petrosino Campsite||Quiet site not far from the beach. Free Wifi works on and off.||37.70118||12.47748|
I then fix up Maria, lots of glue, it could work and maybe I don’t need to buy a new light? We then go for a walk along the seashore. Lunch is held in the ristaurante on the campsite – wonderful beef and frites. The “Maria fix-up” looks OK.
We slog it up to Erice and park Maria under the gondlebahn and take off to the hills, as we get near the top the clouds cover any possible view and it remains so. We partake of the coffee and some sweet thing and head back down.
A long drag on the motorway, also pass close by Segusta again, then down to the coast and the Athena campsite in Selinunte.
|Athena Campsite||Not special, but not too far from the sights. Free Wifi at the restaurant.||37.59554||12.843166|
We then head off to the ruins, park and long walk to the main Acropolis and then to the temple by the sea which is more or less in ruins, surrounded by stones from the village.
We then have a cold lunch down by the bay, windy but good. Drive a long time around the coast to the campsite recommended by Alan and Sue, but they only want someone for 3 days minimum, so we leave and drive to a small village for tea and Panettone and a walk on a long sandy, windswept beach.
We then drive through Agrigenta to San Leone and find a closed campsite, then one which is open.
|San Leone Holiday Park Campsite||Not at all special. Many cats.|
We take the long way around up the hill to Favara – such a crappy town, then on to Castrofilippo, another catastrophe. We find a motorway under construction and have a coffee, nice owner. Then in Caltanisetta we take a back road to Pietraperzia, a real back road – really! Then a fertile valley up to a surprise – the Roman Villa, we have a bite and a look, not much of the museum is open this time of year.
Then off towards Gela after having gone up a very steep hill in the town of Piazza Armerina. We drive southwards and find the restaurant I visited in 2008, which is good for the next visit. Down a wonderful valley, wide and fertile, so many crops and avoid Gela with a glimpse of an oil refinery, but not working. Then along the long coastal road to Marina Di Ragusa and then Donnalcate where we have a pizza – yumm! We then drive back to the Marina and park for the night just inside the entrance – on a slope – not a great idea that.
|Marina de Ragusa Port||No facilities, but a great location. It is new, so in good shape. Good coffee is to be had.|
Then on around the coast to Marzamemi – wonderfully run-down buildings and many cats.
We ate at a family place – too much food again. Made remarks about the train track and the old buildings which could make a great tourist attraction for cyclists. Then up the coast to Noto which we just drive through and then to the Lido and had an industrial ice cream, then up the coast to Syracuse and park in the center of the town. Long, much needed shower in the crappy site, but what the hell?
|Syracusa Area Von Platen||Really crappy site, but well located.||37.07716||15.28756|
We walk around the port and the wall by the bay. We see the trees by the aquarium and then the cathedral. We go back to the restaurant and have really good fish. We work our way back to the campsite, we pack up and then drive down the long straight road and take the motorway following the same route to Lampinoso. We wave to some friends who are also on the campsite and then hunker down.
|Baia de Coralli Campsite||Great location in Punta Braccetto, very friendly receptionist. New facilities on top of the cliffs overlooking the bay.||36.815409||14.467458|
Most days we get up and scour the beach for gold bars – none so far. Then breakfast, always tea, sometimes crunchy muesli and other times bread and marmalade. Spend time with friends, even lunchtime on the 25th. We watch films, do the washing, sometimes ride bikes to the local supermarket. All rather relaxing.