Countries/territories visited: .pt, .es, .fr, .ch, .de, .pl, .lt, .lv, .ee, .fi, .se, .dk, .it, .sl, .hr, .gr
The beginning of the year finds us still in Albufeira. I did a website (www.parquedapalmeira.com) for the local football club which owns and runs the site. A deserving project.
We leave after a couple of weeks and head towards Spain.
After getting supplies, fuel and gas in Faro we head for Olhao and spend a noisy night at the camper parking by the port. But the village is situated in the center of the coastal area and has a wonderful walk along the shore.
oh, and I buy some fresh fish
The following night we spend in Pedra d'el Rei - which we have visited before. A number of camper vans are in the car park behind the shore and of course we visit the long sandy beach at the end of the narrow-gauge railway.
Coffee at the beach café
And a view of the beach
|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 following day we head off to Alcoutim which is on the river dividing Portugal from Spain.
|Alcoutim Rest Area||No facilities, but hard standing right next to the main bridge across the river.||37.47263||7.47295|
In the evening one hears three sets of bells with about one minute between when each one starts. One has a rather flourish to its tone, and the last has an extra hour - must be the church across the river in Spain. The sheep bustle their way around the grass close to the carpark as Milosh watches their progress.
The following day, the 26-JAN-2013, the weather is none too inviting so we drive up to Mertola and then cross into Spain. There is rain for most of the way on the motorway to Seville where the traffic is dreadful because of an accident. We drive down towards Cadiz with little improvement and go to the beach at Conil de la Frontera where the wind is really getting into its stride. So on past a rough Tarifa, through Algeceiras and up the A4 to Marbella and the campsite at Cabopina.
|Cabopino Campsite||Good site, plenty of room, hot showers but sometimes a little chilly. Close to a great beach for walks and jogging. Not too far from a supermarket||N 36º29'19.47"||W 4º44'34.83"|
We spend a couple of weeks lazing in the sun (mostly), playing petange
and walking on the beach and in the hills.
Mid-February we head in the direction of Marbella and spend time with family at a relation's flat in a "compound" called Los Monteros.
This includes a trip to Mijas.
And a really good meal at the local fish place by the port in Estapona.
And even a side trip to Ronda - in the snow.
This was on"Andalucia Day" and the locals were out in force building snowmen and throwing the stuff at each other, not including the silly surfers.
Certainly Marbella was not as warm this year - climate change anyone?
We spend one night at Cabopino itself and wake up (after much shaking) to a rainbow.
Mid-March we head northwards and spend a few days in the National Park at Capo De Gata.
|Cabo De Gata Campsite||Excellent facilities, great dog walks in the nature park.||36.80089||2.24581|
A great place for long walks - oh, and rabbits for Milosh to chase - and never catch - puts a smile on my face that!
With friends we take a trip along the coast to Los Escullos for a walk on the beach which feels like Greece.
La Isleta for coffee
And then lunch on the beach at Las Negras with an delicious white wine called "Go To", just right with paella.
And life as a place to lay one's weary head.
After 10 days we head off North and to the marina just south of Torreveija, but it is too noisy - what do these youngsters get out of dancing in the dark with their cars almost falling apart from the power of their "music"?
Then on to Torreveija itself, parked not far from a friend's house.
We have coffee, walks and shopping, moving to a carpark full of camper vans for the night.
|Torreveija Rest Area||Large carpark, surprisingly quiet. Next to a Mercardo supermarket.||37.93249||0.72731|
On leaving we take the A322 and then the motorway skirting Alicante to Valencia and on to Cambrills where the rest area on the beach has been closed so we drive on, around Barcelona to Blanes and the beach. That's a lot of klicks in 2 days - about 700.
|Blanes Beach Rest Area||Lots of sand.||41.64693||2.76619|
The route north goes, again, via the coast - the Costa Brava. It's a wild coastline. We also visit L'Estartit which seems to have "unfriended" camper vans. Further around the coast we see L'Escala where the Garmin GPS has a turn (could be a dodgy additional map card,) but then along on the coastal road we come across a campsite.
|Aquarius Camping campsite||Great location, excellent facilities. Many surfers and kids - watch out for the bicycles... But, it is expensive - ACSI card gets two "normal" days, then up goes the price - amazing.||42.17542||3.10858|
The sun takes a holiday and we head North and take the coast road into
And a walk along the seashore at Carnet-Plage.
Then we drive further along the coast and preview the parking possibilities at Leucate. They are not what I was expecting, so we continue towards Narbonne. The day is getting long so we take the back roads beside the Canal Du Midi. We drive along a road I cycled along with 3 companions in 1998 where we passed by a recently decreased snake. Why I remember this I have no idea.
We end up in Trèbes as the light fades, parked up right next to a couple of other camper vans.
|Trèbes canalside parking||A bit noisy because of the proximity to a school, kindergarten, old peoples home. But a fresh bread shop (of course, this is France) and a coffee bar with free Wifi just along the road.||43.20982||2.44501|
The canal has a great triple-lock system.
The coffee and croissant were great.
We head off north on a wonderful road - the D57 which is in a flat plain and progress to the D12 which winds in hills - lovely. Then we end up on the D920 all the way to Courniou. We then drive the less-than-interesting D612 to Mazamet and then Castres where the advertised Camper Van park no longer exists so we drive on to Lisle-sur-Tarn (the plan is to drive up the road following the Tarn) and park up for the night.
|Lisle-sur-Tarn Rest Area||Lovely site adjacent to a small lake not too far from the village.||43.86197||1.81858|
After a coffee and free Wifi at the café in the morning we head off westwards towards Montauban, but take the road off left before entering the town. We follow the northerly side of the Tarn and end up in Moissac where I have been many years ago. It is noted by a monastery right on the corner of which the railway people placed the main line. They could not have put it any closer. Lovely to see the way the republicans don't give a damn about religion, warms my heart. Haha. However, apart from a delightful canal with many pleasure boats, the town is a mess, really rundown and gives the impression of having lost its way. No nail or betting shops though (See Hemel Hempstead from 2012.)
|Moissac Rest Area||Lovely site adjacent to a small lake not too far from the village.||43.86197||1.81858|
Up early and head down the Garonne and then up some of the back roads criss-crossing the Tarn. We end back in Lisle-sur-Tarn where the skies open up but people seem to be still fishing.
|Lisle-sur-Tarn Rest Area||Lovely site adjacent to a small lake not too far from the village.||43.86197||1.81858|
The following day we head to Gaillac for a few photos and coffee with Wifi.
Then off to the hilltop village of Cordes-sur-Ceil for lunch,
then into Albi and on to Plaisance - such a wonderful setting, then on the D33 and D200 into the Tarn valley road which, at least in parts, used to be a railway track. Then up the hill to Broquies.
|Broquies Rest Area||Hilltop area right next to the village with views down the valley to the Tarn. Free electricity.||44.00478||2.69485|
It rains quite a bit, but in the sun this stop would be marvelous. There are bells from the local church. I wonder how many people actually go there, but am too lazy to do so.
We then take the road along the lower Tarn valley where there are a number of hydro-electric power stations - makes a lot of sense. The road is partly small - especially the lovely D200.
Then on to the main goal of the trip - the bridge at Millau.
Then we get supplies at a E'Leclerc which has a new supermarket just below the bridge in the town.
We then go around and pass across the bridge. There is an exhibition on the roadway going northwards. (I got a puzzle for next xmas.)
Then we travel (for a number of hours) on the "Gorge de Tarn" on the road covering the upper Tarn valley - this is impressive!
Well worth a visit!
We spend the night - and partake of a delicious Pizza in Mende.
|Mende Rest Area||In the carpark, next to the river.||44.52113||3.49673|
We take the D50 and the A75 towards Clermont-Ferrand - nice road if a bit bumpy. We visit the Vulcania (www.vulcania.com) which is not really worth it. Then we head north again to St Amand Montrond for the night.
|St Amand Montrond Rest Area||Beside the canal, but a little noisy during the night.||46.71832||2.50327|
We leave early in the morning and get supplies and drive to La Charité-sur-Loire which is a beautiful spot.
Then on to Briare down the river for the night.
|Briare Rest Area||Beside the canal and close to the village. Nice.||47.63397||2.73967|
Such an amazing canal bridge, built between 1890 and 1894.
We then head back south taking turns to cross over the Loire and the canal until we get to Digoin for the night at a Rest Area beside the Loire.
|Digoin Rest Area||Beside the Loire with a toilet and across the road from a café with free Wifi and great coffee.||46.48100||3.97185|
Autun is the next place to visit, where there is a large amphitheater beside a lake where the air smells distinctly of fries - a Macydee, oh well.
|Autun Rest Area||Beside a lake with free toilets||46.95551||4.31701|
Then a night with good food with Milosh's breeder near Beaune.
The following day I get a long-deserved haircut in Pierre de Bresse and drive to the French/Swiss border at Les Rousses a fast-emptying ski resort.
|Les Rousses Rest Area||Behind the village - a quiet carpark.||46.48783||6.06677|
We wake up to snow!
Into Switzerland we have breakfast with a good friend - so nice to see him again - then on to a small village near Neuchatel for dinner with another friend.
Then to Weisslingen to stay with friends in their garden. The weather should be improving - we hope.
This included a walk up the Schaunberg on the first real day of Spring - lovely!
From the Säntis to the Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau and ...
Then into Zurich to stay with a good friend.
Including some wonderful evenings watching Helios drop
And also snow greetings - a bit unexpected.
And a Melody Gardot concert where she sang "Somewhere over the Rainbow" with Stephan Braun - this man is seriously great. Melody is a bit too Avant Garde for my taste, she does the same as Madeline Peroux, she sings too far behind the note or improvises so you hardly know the song she is singing.
So, and then off we go towards the Baltic. First "stop" Landshut - but nowhere to park, so then on to Ravensburg - still no place to park, but we find a suitable spot in a quiet commuter village by the river Regen.
|Village north of Regensburg||Not far from the railway station.||49.12465||12.12589|
The following morning on to Chemniz which has some lovely old buildings and roads left over from the DDR times. We drive on to Dresden and locate the parking.
|Dresden City Camping||Right in the center of the city, surrounded by green areas. Electricity and payment at the City Herberge - 200m.||51.04390||13.74305|
This is a really warm city. So much green space it makes my eyes go funny. We take in a City Tour and then walk around a lot.
It is also the original center of Robotron - the organization in the DDR which produced computers. The buildings still exist - in the classic DDR style. In later years they took possession of a DEC VAX/780 which is the best computer I ever worked with. They copied this system and made it their own.
After a couple of days we take the motorway north past the open coal works and the Boxberg Power Station - now owned by Vattenfall - what a mess this brown coal makes of the landscape, we now know better. Then to Cottbus and Frankfurt an der Oder, north of which is the small village of Lebus - with a tranquil area down by the river.
|Lebus Rest Area||On the oder, nice and quiet beside a nature reserve. Deer in the morning.||52.42937||14.54435|
I can see Poland from my window.
On the way north mainly following the river we come across a package delivery system. I worked with a company in the Black Forest on this concept. Packages are "delivered" to this system, the client then receives an SMS with a code, telling them a package is available. They drive to the installation (conveniently located next to a supermarket) input their code and collect the package - voila!
|Lauterbach Marina||On Rügen, the sailing crowd are a bit posh. Haha||52.42937||14.54435|
Nice place, but really only for the well-off owners of boats.
And on the other side of the water is Erich Honegger's island, a place his wife loved. Neither of them are here anymore, they had to go to Chile - do not pass go, do not collect $200.
And then on to Peenemünde, where the wind blows steady. We don't stay but go on to Karlshagen.
|Karlshagen Campsite||Right on the sea, miles of sand.||54.11754||13.84534|
A really nice campsite alongside an unending beach - even FKK areas - where Milosh catches up on the many "lost walks". We spend two very pleasant nights and have a long talk with a German fellow camper about the Baltic States.
Then it's off to
We drive a long way up to the peninsular north of Gdansk.
This site is beautiful but the caravans are scruffy and the flies omnipresent.
Then towards the East. First a town full of large holiday homes from a previous century - Sopot, followed by a drive through Gdansk - with its cranes. The route then takes the main road eastwards.
We see many roadside tributes to people no longer alive. From the way the Poles overtake this is really not a surprise. IMHO the worst drivers in Europe. We do in fact see a half-destroyed truck leaking diesel and a car which seems to have jumped the barricade - the ambulance had already dragged away casualties. Makes one wonder!
|Lorsby Campsite||Off the main West/East road on its own lake. Picturesque.||53.84212||21.20464|
We had a coffee.
We drive on an on on the flat plain until we get to Riga.
|Riga City Campsite||Not too far from the center of the city - just over the bridge. Walks for Milosh too.||56.95609||24.07822|
The first thing the next morning is a city tour by bus which picks us up at the campsite. To see the concert hall...
The ex-KGB building..
The Germans left the hangars they built for Zeppelins.
This city has some other wonderful buildings provided by the various "invaders". Art Deco by Mikhail Eisenstein, (the father of the film director, "Battleship Potemkin" and all that,) the Russian Embassy and a traditional timber house near the market area.
And of course the tribute to men, the linden alley and the freedom monument.
And presents from the Russians...
After two days in this beautiful city we head north into Estonia and Tallinn where we get a ticket to Finland and a couple of boxes of beer.
The following morning (haven taken the cargo ferry, not the fast tourist boat) we emerge from the fog in Helsinki harbour.
A couple of sunny, warm days in Lahti with a good friend
Then there is a chance to See Switzerland dominate Finland in Ice Hockey - but then loose to Sweden for the World Championship.
and then off to the countryside.
And Milosh relaxes with a new toy.
The camping in Heinola.
And I get to try my hand at being a handyman.
And in the evening there is classic Finland.
And then there is a visitor...
Then back to Lahti and off for a tour of the South Coast where many of the name endings have significance: lahti - bay, joki - stream or river, niemi - peninsular, järvi - lake.
First the delightful small village of Porvoo on the river.
Then on to a beautiful campsite by the sea close to Kotka.
|Santalahti Campsite||Wonderful 5 star site on a bay and next to a park area with many pathways.||60.43761||26.86186|
The campsite has a sunny café where the Swiss draw with the Finns - this time Ladies Football. The supporters in the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki seem to be all young girls. at least judging by the chanting for team "Suomi".
Then there is a wonderful day spent on the rocks of the archipelago.
Then its off to Hamina, a military town.
And around the coast to a campsite not too far from the Russian border.
|Vaalimaa Campsite||Small campsite but with all facilities beside an inlet. Open forest area for dog walks and close to the Russian border.||60.43740||26.86181|
A great place to be for mid-summer.
And Grilli Maisteri does his thing:
Then back to Kotka for a night beside the port.
|Kotka Port Carpark||Nice location, but no services and a number of noisy youngsters well into the night.||59.97797||23.43361|
Then several cultural sites including the Maretarium which is basically a live exhibition of many of the varieties of fish in and around Southern Finland.
The Maritime Museum is not just an astounding building but has very interesting content covering many of the aspects of finnish life and history.
Then the Czar's hunting lodge at Langinkoski.
And finally the architecturally rich area of Sanila.
Followed by another night in the 5 star campsite of Santalahti for the super moon.
Then back to Lahti via a country estate on the shores of a lake . Anjalan kartano by the Kymi river.
and the World Heritage site at Verla.
and off southwards to visit a number of museums, to wit:
Ainola - the former home of Sibelius. A delightful, quiet place where he was well looked after.
Halosenneimi - where the nationalistic artist Pekka Halonen resided.
Hvitträsk - the community where three of the most famous architects worked together. Eleil Saarinen was one of these, famous for both the Lahti Townhall and the Helsinki Central Railway Station. His son Eero designed the Gateway Arch of St. Louis, Missouri and the Dulles Airport in Washington D.C
While at this museum we are invited to see an house in the area designed by Eleil before he left to the US. And a wonderful airy place it is too, full of delightful features and airy too. The nude is an image used in the Finnish banknotes.
Then on to meet friends who were part of a reseller network when I was selling VR software in Europe. Nice guys, good food and interesting memories.
Then the night beside the sea in Inkoo, quiet.
|Inkoo Port Carpark||Quiet.||60.04366||24.00764|
Back then to Ekenäs where we have been before. The weather is very warm as shown by all the people swimming.
The next day we head back to Ekenäs.
|Ekenäs Port Carpark||To the left of the port with free Wifi.||59.97797||23.43361|
Where we meet a friend whom we got talking to 2 years before. We then get invited to their country cottage in the backwoods for a great evening of discussion and food. We spend the night in their driveway. Great food, and conversation followed by a very quiet night in their driveway.
It is really great to see how new roads in Finland almost invariably have a bicycle path too and how older buildings are renovated with such style. Take the railway station in Ekenäs:
Then to Hangö for a coffee and victuals at the port.
Then to old friends for supper. Great food and conversation.
The following day we head off to Turku and stroll along beside the river. Impressive hardware.
Then a slow walk around the (very large) castle, newly restored.
We end up beside a small somewhat unattended harbour. Simply bliss.
|Oravais Port Carpark||No services, but beautiful||63.30673||22.36427|
Then on to Oulu the following day where we sit under an umbrella having lunch, but it clears long enough to walk back to Maria.
|Oulu Carpark||No services, functional, just outside the town, a short walk to the marketplace on the harbour.||65.01882||25.46251|
The next morning we are off to
To do some shopping and spend time at a good friend's house - again.
Time to read the kids my favourite kids poems - yep poems, not the highbrow stuff - it all rhymes.
And then there were the Sorforsen rapids:
And then to the military town of Boden, to the Retro Café.
And Lulea has a huge facebook facility, together with a secure power supply (no failures since 1977) and a big fat Internet pipe it shares with the Technical University.
Is it Sunday?
After some convincing we head off to the Lulea archipelago on the ferry, stopping to drop people off at several islands before reaching Brändöskär (Swedish for paradise) where I do a lot of nothing - well sunbathing, eating delicious camp-cooked food and having mud thrown at me by two very naughty girls.
Milosh finds a soft spot in the grass.
We stay most of the day and as we leave the sun is considering setting, but doesn't until just before midnight back in Lulea.
When it is time to leave we drive to Falun and park.
|Falun World Heritage Carpark||No services, functional, just outside the town, a short walk to the marketplace on the harbour.||65.01882||25.46251|
This ia a World Heritage Site - a former copper mine, the proceeds of which propelled Sweden into the industrial age - and incidentally funded a couple of wars. The roof of the palace at Versailles has copper from Falun.
It is also the place where the special paint used by the swedes on their picturesque country houses and barns comes from. Oh, and the name is protected.
And it's mineshaft is pretty deep too.
And we also visit to ironworks at Engelsberg for a picnic.
|Uddevalla Carpark||No services, next to the sea and a lorry park||58.23027||11.91168|
A night is then spent with friends of friends just north of Götenburg - nice people.
The journey continues to Helsingberg and the ferry to
Which we basically drive through to Rödby and catch the ferry to Puttgarten
A wet night is spent in Lübeck.
|Lübeck Carpark||No services, close to the city, but some noise.||53.87159||10.67866|
The morning sees the sun back in full force before we drive past a huge lock at Uelzen
and then on to Wolfsburg to park in the VW area.
|VW Carpark||Electricity and water. But, lots of noise - they like to clean late at night - and start building new stuff early in the morning. €3 per day - so a good price.||52.13501||10.79784|
The "visitor's center" - Autostadt - is huge and grandiose. There are so many "helpers" it feels like a Disney facility.
And they have a car I used to have, same colour too. Still missing her!
Oh and one of those very famous camper vans, a "splitty" at that.
The day after is really hot, but Maria has air conditioning which gets well used. We eventually arrive in Würzburg late in the evening and park in the bus carpark, next to the river.
|Würzburg Bus Carpark||No services, noisy.||49.79782||9.92327|
We travel up the Tauber valley (was there a few years ago, but it was a lot more fun by bike with a very good friend) on narrow back roads. Then on to Maria's birthplace - the Hymer town - Bad Waldsee.
The founder of the company died last year, but not before he created a museum.
There are some classic items. A self-build..
And the very first commercial product...
And we spend the night next to the Hymer service center.
|Hymer Service Carpark||Electricity and water in 100m at the fuel stop.||47.92775||9.75813|
where they also have the latest models on view - drool, drool.
It is really warm in Germany so we set off early to
to visit my son Dustin at the Open Air Cinema in Arbon, beside the lake.
We get to spend time chatting with some really nice folks, eating and watching a long list of films. There are a few weather "events" too. Blitz and Donner!
and the following night - 100km/h winds
And along the lakeshore is the café and hotel - Wunderbar.
With free Wifi and very pleasant staff. And a picture of family contentment: the 3 reeses.
After the final film ("Seaching for Sugarman" quite a good film with a few surprises and good music) we leave just after midnight back to
for a a quiet night in the carpark before a flight in the Zeppelin at Friedrichshafen. Quite an experience this.
Room with a view
Then in the afternoon we head into
well to Zurich, where we spend 10 days or so sorting out service for Maria - not successful this, back to the service company in the spring - visiting the boys, watching films - go to the film section of this website - and a few administrative chores.
We meet some friends and people I haven't seen for more than 30 years!
We depart on the 27-AUG-2013 and head towards Chur, but turn off at Landquart and up to Davos for a look around. The first pass of the day is the Fluela which is a bit damp, but a good place for lunch. The Engadine is very green and it seems not too many people. We leave Pontressina for the second pass - the Bernina - which is also damp.
We had considered staying for the night but it is damp and cold. So on to
Tirano where the Rhätischebahn train terminates. We head over the thrid pass for the day - Aprica - and then a long drive down past Edolo, Breno, Pisogna and then south of Brecia to the lake of Garda where we find a campsite beside the lake to the right of Sirmione.
|Sirmione Rest Area||Beside the lake, free Wifi||45.46053||10.63290|
The next morning there is stiff breeze from a green lake. The blitz and Donner of the previous night has gone and the sun is doing her thing.
We drive onto Trieste, the core of which is an old town with some impressive buildings and statues. The rest is similar to what I recall other big italian ports look like - with roads along the seashore and huge industrial plants.
And a taste of things to come....
The place in one of our many databases was no longer available to camper vans, so we drive around the bay, past all the industrial plant to Muggia.
|Muggia Rest Area||Beside the sea but scruffy and noisy.||45.59863||13.78183|
The following morning we drive around the coastal road to
Not much to say about this, we basically drove straight through, although I'm not sure where because Garmin had a couple of turns - now you see me, now you don't.
We end up coming into the country via a small border post on a basic, but smooth road. Not a common occurrance in these parts. We drive through Rijnka because it is a typical Mediterranean town. Then over the brdige to the island of Krk where we checkout a couple of campsites which are not cheap, not at all. We end up in Konobe where clothes are optional. If this doesn't do my tan a whole lot of good...
|Beside the sea under half-sized oak trees. Good facilities, relaxed.||44.99614||14.62644|
Not too bad, the view of Italy as the sun sets.
Milosh even puts a paw into the salty Med while making new friends.
Still, we have to move on, if only to see what else is out there. So, off we go back over the Krk bridge to the coastal road. What a rugged, beautiful coast this is. It seems the authorities have been putting a lot of funds into the ground - well the road with lots of dam-like structures and bridges - all built of the local stone.
We stop for a photo shoot and alongside come two people on impressive motorbikes. This would be Sam Manicom and his partner. Sam writes travel books.
Then down to catch the ferry at Pizna - we are the last ones on board.
For a great view from the other side, on the island of Pag.
Up the hill and down the other side we get to the campsite, the non-textile area.
|The best campsite we have stayed on in since we began this odyssey. Beautifully laid out, smiling staff and free Wifi at ACSI rates.||44.53415||14.88524|
And Milosh is 10 years old.
So we celebrate with a paddle at the beach.
This is truely a wonderful campsite, quiet, tolerant people. Even Milosh is allowed to swim and it's cleaner than a swiss street. A bit warm at 30 degrees, but one shouldn't complain.
Not only allowed on the beach - but ...
Before we leave Milosh gets to use the dog shower - oh joy!
Down the coast through a dry, stony landscape via Pag
to Zadar which is a crowded town, so we drive on towards Trogir and find a place to stay overnight.
Vranjica Belvedere Campsite
|Not a good place, scruffy and neglected. But the washing facilities are clean. Can't imagine what it is like with summer hoards.||43.50994||16.19475|
The weather turns in the same direction we are going.
And here the proof a the campsite near Skradin and the Krka National Park.
|Functional and inexpensive. Good wash facilities and free (though weak) Wifi. Friendly staff.||43.79992||15.94152|
THe following day we take a tour of the Park (€50). This included a walk around the falls at Skradinski Buk
and the second hydro power plant on the planet - Jaruga - based on a design by Tesla - a Croat.
It started delivering power to the local town in August 1895 - a world first.
We then stopped at Roški Slap for the local "power drink", ham and cheese before taking a small boat up to the Othodox Monastry.
Seems they had a lot of time to invent some colours.
Impressive cliffs too.
The journey continues south to a delightful campsite on the coast.
|Voted the best Croatian campsite of 2012 - it sure is good.||43.60711||15.92171|
The restaurant name has a familiar ring to it. Ja?
Half a day is spent in Trogir, a pleasant town but full of tourists.
And the fortifications - the Kamerlengo fortress.
Now off to Split. What a big mess it is, no time to see the Riva and the other sights.
|Large with big pitches, good facilities. Some road noise and a small beach||43.50474||16.52961|
We do visit the amphitheater in Solina - amazing what slave power can do...
A long way down the coast, not a particularly pretty road, but impressive mountains.
Then to the Peljesac Peninsula by ferry from Ploce where the train goes to Mostar - looks like there is an aluminum plant up in the hills - which could be why the train was built in the first place.
We drive up the hill (quite a height) and down the other side to Orebic opposite Kucista and arrive at the campsite in the dark.
|Quiet but a "funny" smell. Friendly||42.97706||17.12949|
The ferry from Orebic to Korcula does not take much time.
The old town of Kurcula is a delight, the birthplace of Marco Polo.
And the location of his tower.
We then drive to the far western end of the island for a few quiet days close to Vela Luka.
|Very quiet set in an olive grove. Lots of walks, but the beaches are basically rock cliffs. Simple facilities.||42.98471||16.67128|
Someone put a lot of work on building individual gardens for olive trees.
On leaving Vela Luka we drive back to Kurcula with a young German couple on board before taking the ferry back to the peninsular. On the way down we stop at Stor - amazing defensive constructions built, we were told, by the Turks.
In Dubrovnik we quickly find the only campsite - and boy do they know it - the prices are like high season in other places - their high season prices must be like Switzerland.
|Expensive, rough pitches but good facilities. The Wifi is flaky.||42.66143||18.06969|
A walk down by the water brings a few large vessels.
Of course we get to see the tourists in Dubrovnik Old Town. And there really are a lot.
We have to "do the walls" of course.
After two nights we head off down to the ferry terminal and our ship awaits.
We spend an hour with a very nice couple from Montana on board before sleep beckons.
The crossing goes smoothly if a bit tired. (Should have taken a cabin.)
Early the next morning we arrive in
Bari to be precise.
So do some victualing and then back in the evening for the ferry to Hellas.
And a Costa (not a coffeehouse) leaves - watch out for small islands.
With "eyes wide shut" we approach the ferry terminal, and Milosh has now visited 25 countries/States.
The first stop is the beach just north of Igoumenitsa.
|Very quiet directly on the beach. Water available and free Wifi at the Taverna||39.51412||20.21545|
I can see this is going to be a tough month.
The day is spent paddling and doing nothing much at all.
We have a delicious (celebratory 64) meal in the company of a German couple with their Dalmation - Kiwi - yumm!
I spend some time trying to find a Wifi amplifier, as recommended by several fellow campers, and a mobile internet pre-paid dongle. We find a shop, but they are all sold out. Hmmm!
And I learnt something new: Park your camper van in Greece beside the Med where it says "No Camping" and you're fine. You are after all parking. But you put out the awning and you are camping - this is of course not allowed. Please desist!
The coastal road shouldn't be missed, although I am really not sure about Maria's springs - will have to have them checked in the Spring.
While stopping to check on the route (road signs say one thing and Garmin somethng else) a taxi driver stops and asks if we need help. He then directs us to the best road - bigger he says. Nice people!
We do get safely to Glyki which is the location of The Source of Achelon. The water is freezing cold and one can walk up to the springs - we didn't, Milosh was unhappy as it was.
This visit was based on a report I read in a German magazine. They also recommended spending a night at Kornisia at the end of a long road. Unfortunately it is too windy so we continue on to Prévesa where we seem not to be able to stay at the marina, so we drive to Lefkada for the night.
In Prévesa I ask a lady at the fuel stop where a telecoms shop was, her answer: "Driva to donalds, fast food, then turna." Nice. Couldn't find any golden arches though.
The Fort at Lefkada
|A bit of noise from the canal bridge.||38.84737||20.71976|
An early morning departure down the coast takes us to the back of beyond. Ruined houses, practically no people and a few olive trees.
We pass a valley which is under industrial agricultural control, big fields. All the way down to the bridge at Patra and then along the coast to the campsite. The washing calls.
Kato Alissos Campsite
|Not well laid out, but friendly people and not expensive.||38.14888||21.57737|
The restaurant is not special, but does have a ver old olive tree and one can see the bridge at Patra and the ships going in and out of the ferry terminal.
Ok it's the 29-SEP and we miss being in Olympia as the flame is produced for the Winter Olympics in Russia.
Yep, we have taken the long coast road down to Pyrgos and then to the Olympia area. Dogs are not alloowed so we don't get to see the runis, or the place where the lady lights the fire.
Our route takes us back towards Prygos to fill the fuel tank and food for Milosh. We then head further down the coast. This road has a serious problem caused by the farmers setting light to their fields. I assume this is their way of adding phosphore to the soil. I thought this practise was forbiden by law. It is also dangerous for the speeding traffic. Speaking of which speed and overtaking signs are completely ignored by Greek drivers - makes one wonder how many accidents there are in this country per capita and if we will get out of here unharmed.
The renown camping paradise in Elia awaits us, and it is indeed populated by the tralier people.
Elia Beach Rest Area
|Not at all bad. Lots of space, even water. The constant roar of the surf. Yes!||37.31843||21.68748|
The beach is impressive.
We get an amzng show during most of the night - the lightening is almost continuous for 6 hours, but we get almost no sound or water from above. All this is accompanied by the booming of the waves
Someone is happy with this place - reminds him of Portugal methinks.
On the road southwards access suddenly stops but we drive up the hill and find a way though.
We miss Nestor's Palace because it is closed - humm! The beach at Petrochori is very windy, so we are alone for lunch, not even a surfer in sight. Gailova provides a break with coffee and moon cake - yumm!
Then we go to a recommended bay - Voidokilia.
The wind on this Western coast is too strong to be pleasant, so we drive over the hill to the olive groves around Kalamata. Can't wait to get my teeth into some of the local produce. We park by the beach - nice and quiet.
Kalamata South Beach Rest Area
|Quiet and a local fruit stand. Water available.||37.00553||21.97223|
A lady comes by and explains she worked in Switzerland between 1963 and 1977, we chat a bit. She then returns and donates some of her own produce - nice!
We drive down the coastal road to Oiytlo and spend the night in free parking provided by a taverna. Conversation with a very pleasant couple from Belgium with the bigest (18 ton) camper van on the planet and their Vizsla Kalin. Providing happy times for Milosh too.
Taverna at Karavostasi
|Free Wifi at the taverna and water.||36.696141||22.37842|
The road to Gythio is to the South an up the hill, for this view:
Just North of Gythio is the famous wreck, but we don't stay.
But travel on to Monemvasia, basically a fortress - there must have been a lot of pirates around in earlier times.
The wind is too strong to think of finding a place to park, so we head back to Gythio and a few klisk South to a very quiet bay, the only sound being the ripple of the water on the beach and practically no wind - yes!
The following morning we are greeted with this:
The Bay South of Gythio
|Very quiet and out of the wind||36.72744||22.54640|
Two nights later we drive around to the local campsite to do some washing, both me and some clothes. The evening provides diner at a local taverna. And they grow bananas in their garden terrace.
And we are given a couple of pommegranites - nice people here.
|Free Wifi on the beach. Very friendly staff.||36.696141||22.37842|
The following day it is time to move on to Sparta and Mystras.
Imagine having to fight as a foot soldier up to these ramparts with burning oil and the rest raining down on you.
We have a conversation with some nice folks from Australia and then move on over the impressive mountain road from Tripoli to Argos - keeping and eye out for anything interesting of course. A great drive. Then along to coast before finally settling in Nafplio for the night where there was an extended conversation at the port with some very nice youngsters. And Milosh gets to play the boss too.
Nafplio Port Rest Area
|A number of camper vans. Free Wifi in the local Cafés||37.56905||22.80089|
In the harbour is a ship which is based on Cardiff, Wales with a totally Polish crew, transporting phosphates from Spain to Greece. What a world.
We leave and pick up two new shoes for Maria - a puncture causing a slow release from one, so we got two new tyres.
Next stop is the ancient settlement in Epidavros where the rain catches up with us and the tourists too.
After the coasl road we make a few driving mistakes ending up in Ancient Corinth which looks most unattractive so we depart all the way around the coast to a rather special place.
|Good food, free Wifi and toilets.||38.03186||22.87321|
Several days go by with good food and lots of sun. Not too many people until Saturday comes around then we even get to see a bus.
When we leave there is a delightful road up the hill and along the shoreline. Maria strains in 3rd gear most of the way up from the shore to the top of the cliffs, then up a long valley to Delfoi.
I asked, but got no reply from the lady.
So, on to the campsite.
|Great view, but otherwise not special. The guy onthe reception really needs to consider another career.||38.48299||22.47558|
The following day we go to the rest of the site
and the museum.
drive down to the coast and spend a few days by the harbour.
Itea Harbour Parking
|Sunny with a number of walkers in the evening and some annoying motorbike riders during the night.||38.43102||22.42238|
We leave on the spectacular coastal road towards Athens. Maria gets a good wash - no soap though. The water is rushing through the gap at Chalkida.
Aparently the water changes direction 7 times a day. Maybe the influence of the moon and the local topology. The med doesn't have much of a tide otherwise.
Harbour Wall Parking Eritrea
|At the end of the town, not far from the ferry terminal. The lapping of waves and fishermen (no ladies) walking by at all hours.||38.38792||23.78995|
We get to see the very latest in Russian wood storage.
And also the curtain going down on a blustery day.
Then it's back to the mainland by ferry and on to Peireaus to take the overnight boat to Crete.
The promosed Camping-on.Board didn't materialise in spite of the time it took to get the reservation in the first place at one of the company's own offices when we first arrived in Greece.
Bleary-eyed we arrive after 260 Klicks and a 6 hour ride.
We take the road South and pass by Knossos in the dark, no coaches in sight. Up the hill we stop for a short zizz with a view
Then on to the ruins at Gortyna as it starts to warm up, but it does not seem like a good place to spend the night. Off to Pitsidia which is also not spectacular,
so we head down to Martala, a favourite resting place for Hippies in the 1960s for lunch with a view.
But it is simply too touristy, so we find a quiet, beachside stop for the night.
Harbour Wall Parking Kokkinos Pyrgos
|Very quiet, even on Saturday Night. Some cafés within walking distance for free Wifi (Well for the price of a cup of coffee, and water.||35.08318||24.73771|
A couple of days in this small village with brilliant sunshine, coffee and free Wifi at one of the local cafés. The route takes us over the mountains back to the Northern side of the island to Rethymnon and a beachside campsite.
|Beachside, sandy site. Set in trees and bushes. Very friendly manager, good, simple food.||35.36845||24.51541|
Out of town we head West and come to Sauda where there is a Commonwealth Grave.
Under the aircraft coming in to land at Chania Airport we find a charming port - Marathi.
|Just the sound of the Med lapping on the port walls.||35.50392||24.17420|
And the view from my sitting room is:
We are woken very early in the morning because I have parked Maria close to a slipway - too close and we need to move for a local fisherman to be able to launch his boat. Yawn, yawn. At lunchtime he returns with a cool box full of fish which he then proceeds to clean after taking his boat out of the water. Before he leaves we get a present - a large fresh fish filet- How marvelous!
Four nights is enough! (Not true of course: Once a King always a King, but once-a-night's-enough.) We drive around past the airport, waving to an incoming Easyjet and down to Stavros. Famous for many of the scenes in "Zorba the Greek" we dance on the beach and generally enjoy ourselves.
|Quiet place this time of year (October) Wifi at the restaurant, toilets too.||35.59221||24.09464|
A walk in the hills oposite isn't too scruffy either.
In the film, the same beach has practically no houses but the one there was is still standing.
Then, before it closes for the Winter, we have to do the Samaria Gorge, so down to Omalos for a coffee and to arange a taxi back up after the walk. We then do the gorge.
We get to the end after 13 klicks with sore knees (old age) and aching toes (too short boots) and can't decide which is worse.
The boat then goes
from Agia Roumeli to Sougia where we take the taxi back up the hill - well mountain.
The following day we head back down to Sougia in Maria for a couple of nights to recover.
|Pleasant restaurants with free Wifi.||35.59221||24.09464|
We do walk again, up the hill to the West.
The following morning we see a fisherman coming back after a night's work.
The road from Sougia to Paliochora is both wide enough for a camper van and bendy. Up and past some majesticlly turning windturbines and down a gorge.
We park up next to the Methexis taverna for lunch - what else but a Greek Salad - getting used to this.
They also allow us access to their electricity, so two nights as the wind builds. They even have a private beach where the water is still warm - 23 or 24 degrees.
Oh, and a word of warning: The fish in Greek Tavernas is generally really, really good. But, it comes at a price. I have mostly paid close on € 30 for a meal which includes fresh fish.
|On the seafront by the taverna with free Wifi and electricity.||35.22567||23.68235|
And it's a dog's life...
Back to the Elisabeth campsite for a few days after some shopping.
|Beachside, sandy site. Set in trees and bushes. Very friendly manager, good, simple food.||35.36845||24.51541|
Milosh settles in with the site canines, but is less impressed by the felines.
and more cat antics.
Mostly sunny days with good food, for example here.
A charity English roast lunch...
And then it's Monday, Monday.
Of course the weather changes and we get some Siberian winds - they have to be strong to carry all that way. The beach gets re-made - where did all that sand end up I wonder?
And then there is man and friend.
And Boxing Day comes around...
And food a few days later..