Chausson Motorhomes on forecourt

05 July 2011

Travel Blog - Part 12

Moving on quite quickly now and a couple of nights at a site at Kirchheim where it would certainly have been an advantage to have a motorized bike or scooter as the pitches were at the top of a hill – fine to cycle down, but going back up was quite another story!  Had to cycle 5 miles to the supermarket which was O.K. but coming back…  well! Good excuse for one stop was to photograph a house with a lovely painting on one wall and a painting of a window and balcony which looked very real. 

Next stop was a favourite spot at Rodenkirchen just outside Cologne where we were fortunate enough to get a pitch right by the river again and there was plenty of river traffic to watch with barges going up and down as well as very sleek hotel boats and boats doing river trips – a boat with a disco kept us well entertained with its music for quite some time as it went up the river and again on its return a couple of hours later!

The barges are in a great variety of sizes and with varying cargoes – some piled high with containers (though at the moment they are restricted as the river level is so low), some carrying piles of coal or gravel and we saw one with a great number of green tractors and lorries.

Sometimes there is one barge pushing another and sometimes there are two abreast.  Very easy cycling on the path between the campsite and the river and when we cycled the 5 miles into Cologne we found that the path now goes right into the city whereas before we had to go up to the road for the last bit and use the cycle path up there. A favourite ride has been to cycle in the opposite direction to Surth, a little way down the river where there is a pontoon restaurant – a perfect setting for a nice meal.

Didn’t do the cycle bit this time, but friends who came to visit us took us by car and we had a lovely evening – plenty of activity to watch, and a very reasonable priced meal.

We do seem to have met the unsettled weather and its definitely much cooler – we are having to adjust after the heat of Croatia and Hungary – and when it rains – it rains!  Feel very much on the homeward stretch now having just arrived in Bruges. 

04 July 2011

Travel Blog - Part 11

On our last evening in Budapest we again took advantage of the free tram travel and crossed to the other side of the river so that we could see the illuminated buildings on the Pest side, which really looked lovely. 

The bridges were also lit up and as it wasn’t too hot at that time in the evening we walked for quite some way just enjoying the sights. 

We had experienced some quite heavy rain and some thunderstorms and as we traveled towards Vienna we were in and out of wet weather. 

The campsite on the outskirts of Vienna was very easy to find and very convenient – just off the motorway which was the same one we which would take us towards Prague. 

Rain was even heavier in Vienna than Budapest and there was a violent thunderstorm late afternoon and it was almost like night-time, but the motor-home was water-tight and cozy, so just a question of waiting for it to pass over! 

Next day we were on our way again, this time to a little campsite in the middle of the Czech Republic, and in a beautiful setting beside a lake which was filled with carp (no fishing allowed as the carp are sold at Christmas time for the traditional Christmas meal). 

We often saw the fish leap out of the water and were delighted to watch families of ducks on the lake and also to see a black stork and ospreys. All very peaceful until night time when the frogs’ chorus began. 

Negotiating our way around Prague was quite straightforward with the help of the navigation system, though road-works and heavy traffic made the going very slow. 

Dresden was the next stop where we found the campsite very full, but still managed to find a place – we had forgotten it was a holiday weekend. 

Spent a day in the city where the tram system is wonderfully efficient and we took advantage of cheap travel to take another tram ride and seeing some of the area. 

Our friends in Dresden took us to a castle, Schloss Wackerbarth, which is famous for its vineyard and wines. 

A lovely setting with stalls selling wine, beer and the inevitable bratwurst, tables were set out under the shade of trees and under parasols on the terraces and music was played by different types of bands. 

The vines were on steep terraces with steps leading up to the different levels to the top of the hill – we decided that that sort of venture was for young people and we stayed firmly on the bottom level!  

It doesn’t seem possible that we have now been on the go for 9 weeks and have seen so many different places – at times it is difficult to remember where we have been and what we have seen. 

Keeping a diary has always been an advantage on these sort of trips and lovely to look back on an jog the memory.

07 June 2011

Travel Blog - Part 10

Well, we have been in Budapest for a week and have seen a lot of the city and the surrounding area having travelled on trams, buses, metro and trolleybuses – what it would have cost if we had had to pay fares I hate to think, and no-one has asked us for proof of age for our free travel – we must look old!

There is a wonderful market which has dozens of stalls on the ground floor – some heaped with fruit and veg., some selling meat of all descriptions (they sell every bit of the chicken and we saw bags of heads and some of claws!), sausages hanging very decoratively on various stalls and some with lovely displays of chilies and paprika in all sorts of containers.  It is also possible to buy packs with a recipe and all that’s needed (except meat and veg.) to make Hungarian goulash.  On the upper floor there is a restaurant where, amongst other dishes, you can get a big bowl of goulash at a very reasonable price.  Other food stalls sell typical Hungarian fare and the rest of the upper floor is devoted to colourful souvenirs of all descriptions and wonderful displays of embroidered items, table-cloths, table runners, tray-cloths, blouses and children’s outfits, and beautiful coloured glasses in all shapes and sizes.  Very tempting to buy, but you can really only have so many glasses in use!

There are some very impressive buildings, including the Parliament building on the Pest side of the Danube which we saw from the Buda side, looking wonderful in the sunshine, then a matter of 10 minutes later it was almost obscured as a thunderstorm and cloud burst swept along the river.

As well as seeing so many beautiful buildings we have also seen the contrasting run-down areas and high rise apartment blocks.  One strange sight was seeing a coach floating down the river.  Fortunately we weren’t too surprised as we had read about the amphibious vehicle which did a sight-seeing trip around some of the city roads, then down a slip-way, splashing into the water and doing a river tour. The large City Park is definitely worth visiting and really needs more than one visit to see it all – at one side there is a fun fair, somewhere else a zoo and a beautiful lake with a restaurant on the edge of it – all very picturesque.

Having visited Budapest 3 years ago when we did cram in a lot of sight-seeing, we have been able to take a much more leisurely approach this time and see some things that we didn’t see last time. It has also really been much too hot with digital displays in the city showing up to 33 deg.

31 May 2011

Portable TV Satellite Systems

With TV Satellite Systems Becoming Increasingly Popular With Motorhomers & Caravanners Alike.

TC Motorhome & Caravan Centre Are Introducing A Range Of Mobile `Easy-Find` Digital TV Satellite Systems.

The Easy-Find System Is A Unique Combination Of An LNB With Integrated Tri-Colour LED And Specially Programmed Satellite Decoder.

This Ingenious System Uses A Simple `Traffic Light` System Which Enables Quick & Easy Location Of The Satellite Signal.

Set Up:
  • Via Receiver Select ASTRA 2D
  • Set The Dish Elevation
  • Point Dish Eastwards
  • Rotate Towards The South
  • RED – Keep Turning Dish
  • Yellow – Slow Down 
  • Green – STOP ! .. Satellite Located .. EASY !!

What it does- It makes locating the free-to-air satellite channels the simplest task ever!
EASY-FIND is a combination of the unique LNB with integrated tri-colour LED and specially programmed satellite receiver.

Astra 2D Coverage:

40cm dish - England & Wales
54cm dish - As per 40cm + Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands & Northern France
64cm dish - As per 54cm + Central France
78cm dish - As per 64cm + Southern France, West Germany, Switzerland & Northern Spain

What's in the box:

  • 78cm Satellite Dish
  • EASY-FIND Receiver
  • Carry Bag
  • Aluminium portable tripod and securing ground pegs
  • 10m Coax Cable With Fitted Plugs
  • Scart Lead
  • Compass
  • 12v Power Lead
  • 240v Mains Power Lead
  • Step By Step Setting Up Instructions 
Call TC Motorhome & Caravan Centre For More Details: 01227:289111

Travel Blog - Part 9

The Balaton Lake is certainly a lake of contrasting colours and moods depending on the time of day and the weather and we had seen some fantastic sunsets.  We had several swims, though I don’t think ‘swim’ is the right word as it is hardly deep enough!  You can walk out for a long way on the sandy bottom, sometimes knee-depth, then up to arm-pits then a few yards further out back to your knees!  However, it is warm and very pleasant on a hot day.  We also had a couple of days when it was so windy that there was almost more white foam than coloured water – that brought the sail-boarders out in profusion!

There were very few people on the campsite which isn’t surprising as there are so many sites around the lake and it is still low-season – good for us with regard to the price and the special offer was stay for 4 nights and pay for 3 – we stayed for 8 so only paid for 6.  Its worth checking the campsite books for offers and choosing a site accordingly. 

We left Siofok reluctantly as it had been a lovely time of relaxation where our pitch was big enough for us to have the option of sitting in the sun or the shade and we were able to see the lake.

Our next stop was Budapest, only just over 60 miles further on but the best route is on the M7 motorway which entailed getting a vignette from a fuel station before going on the motorway.  There was a Tesco with a fuel station very near the motorway junction so we were able to do a shop, then fill up with fuel and get the vignette when we finally found our way into the petrol station (going round the block a couple of times before going down a narrow entrance which looked as though it led nowhere).

In Budapest we made our way to Haller Camping, a small but very convenient site in the city, a 2 minute walk to the tram stop (if we could climb over the fence it would only take about 30 seconds!), and about 10 minutes to the Metro. We are doing a lot of traveling on public transport as it is free for over 65’s.  Very useful and it gives us the chance to explore a lot of the city at leisure as we have given ourselves about 10 days here. This also the first site we have come across where there is no charge for using the washing machines.  Internet is also free, but sometimes difficult to get on to if too many people try to use it at the same time.  However, at €15 a night with ACSI card its good value.

25 May 2011

Road Works

Road closures on approach road to TC Motorhome & Caravan centre 

Please be aware that the `kent highway services` .. Have announced that diversions will be in place along the sweechbridge road, from 31st may for up to seven days.

Diversions will be in place, however please be alert to these measures and accept our apologies for any inconvenience.

Social Media Management by

Travel Blog - Part 8

Since leaving Croatia we have seen many changes of scenery from the grey rugged mountains in the south to the meadows and arable land as we traveled further north.  In some of the places inland we saw quite a lot of derelict and broken-down houses which we think may have been abandoned in the war a few years ago.  There is, however, a lot of building work going on and the country is progressing in leaps and bounds and a new motorway is still being built which will eventually connect Split and Dubrovnik. This will speed the journey but it won’t be as attractive as going along the coast road or through some of the little villages, even though the road is narrow in places with a drop into the ditch if you are not careful!  

We made an overnight stop just north of the Plitvicka Lakes which are a UNESCO site and definitely worth visiting.  We spent a day there 3 years ago and thought it was lovely – many waterfalls and lakes with the path in places being slatted wood with the water bubbling up though the slats.  
We made our way around Zagreb and to the Hungarian border where we had our passports checked at 2 kiosks and the customs asked to come into the van.  The customs-man didn’t really look around very much and seemed to be checking on cigarettes and alcohol being taken into the country.  We had to declare our 17 litres of Croatian wine bought in bulk to be taken back to England – don’t know if that was over the limit, but he let us go anyway, and smiled approvingly when we said we didn’t smoke so had no cigarettes.  

A little way passed the border we came to a market area with stalls selling clothes, shoes, table-cloths and anything else tourists or locals might like to buy.  All at very good prices and priced in Kunas (Croatia), Forints (Hungary) and Euros.  Trying to work out whether items are cheap or expensive takes a bit of thinking about as 1 Kuna is around 13 pence, and there are approximately 280 Forints to £1.  At least the euro is used in most countries and you don’t have to try to use up odd bits of currency before leaving the country.  

We are now at a campsite about 5kms from Siofok on the shores of the Balaton Lake and have seen the water change through so many different colours – green in the sun, grey some of the time and nearly black in a thunder storm!  

The cycles are in use again as the area is flat and going into the town is an easy ride.  Siofok is definitely a tourist place with dozens hotels, children’s amusement places, restaurants and souvenir stalls – more exploring to be done yet!

Travel Blog - Part 7

Well we have spent almost three weeks at this site and will soon be moving on.  A lot of time has been spent relaxing and enjoying the lovely view we have from our pitch.  Public transport on the peninsular is almost non-existent but we did establish that there was a bus going to Dubrovnik, leaving Orebic at 7.20a.m. – we hadn’t seen any bus-stops and wondered if we would have to walk into the town to get on it, but we were assured that if we waved our arms at the driver he would stop.  We tried it and it worked – except that it wasn’t the Dubrovnik bus and we weren’t sure where it was going, but the driver said that the Dubrovnik bus would be along in about 10 minutes.  It was, and we got on it.

The journey took about 2¼ hours and there were some magnificent views, stark grey mountains, little fishing villages way down on the coast, miles of vines and what seemed to be an enormous number of wineries as this peninsular is a very important region for wine.

Dubrovnik is well worth a visit and inside the old town there is a main street lined with a variety of little shops and made up of very shiny stone and with many steep, narrow streets leading off it.  It’s possible to pay to walk around the city walls, but as we had done that on a previous visit we just wandered around the town and down to the harbour where there were many boats ready to take people out on sight-seeing trips.  We didn’t really have time to include that in our itinerary as we didn’t have a choice of times to get the bus back again.  Initial enquiries about the buses gave us 2.15 as the return time, but to make sure we checked at the bus terminal as we arrived.  Yes, 14.15 was on  the printed timetable but we asked in the ticket office to make sure and were told 4.15.  Decided to confirm with the driver who was still there and he wrote the time down for us – 1500.  Utterly confused we did get ourselves back to the bus terminal in good time and saw a bus with a board on the front stating it left at 2.15 and arrived in Orebic at 5 o’clock.  We soon realized where the extra ½ hour on the journey occurred – we stopped quite a number of times along the way for the driver to deliver packages to someone waiting for him to come along!

To allow us to see a little bit more of the area we hired a car and drove to a lovely little hamlet, Loviste, at the tip of the peninsular.  In one place along the route the main road was closed and we were diverted along the road by the sea – literally!  Not a very wide road and only enough room to pass another vehicle if one pulled in to a gateway – the other side of the road didn’t have any verges, curbs or bollards and a slight error of judgment would mean a drop into the water!

Leaving that road we went up over the mountain with the most beautiful views of some of the many islands along the Dalmation coast.  The sea in the Adriatic is very clear and in all the places we have been to you can see down to the bottom, the water ranges in colour from aquamarine and turquoise to mid-night blue – never seems to show the full range in photographs!  Having gone to the tip of the peninsular we had to come back the same way as most places have one way in and the same way back out.

Made our way towards Dubrovnik and down to a very deserted little hamlet on the coast across the water from the Croatian mainland, though a little further down that coast the road runs through Bosnia for about 10 kms and you need to make sure your insurance covers you for that country.

On our way back we made a stop at one of the many wineries where you can taste and purchase local wine ranging in price from 25 Kunas (about £3.20 a bottle) to 100 Kunas (£13) and then on to Trpanj where the ferry comes in, before making our way back up and over the mountain back to the campsite.

There doesn’t seem to be very much in the way of wild life here, but we saw 3 snakes in gulley near the town and on another day there was one in the gutter by the footpath.  On the more cheerful side we did catch a glimpse of a pair of golden orioles – a beautiful flash of bright yellow as they flew in and out of the trees along the road and the wild flowers everywhere are a lovely sight.

Travel Blog - Part 6

Plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful view from our pitch and apart from a couple of days of wind and rain the weather has been hot and sunny.

The walk down into the town is fine, but coming back is uphill and a bit of a struggle if the sun is too hot, however the walk doesn’t need to be on the road all the way as there are many narrow roads leading down to the lower road by the sea.

Found a lovely little restaurant and enjoyed large shrimps fried with garlic and a bowl of chips!  Good thing we had to walk up the hill afterwards – hopefully it got rid of a few of the calories!

Oranges, almonds, figs and nesparro seem to grow in early everyone’s gardens and there are so many beautiful wild flowers which we don’t see in England.

Ferries go regularly from Orebic to the town of Korcula on the island of Korcula which is a 10-15 minute trip and well worth it.  We only visited the town itself which is on the level for the main part but on one side of the main street there are narrow streets of steps going up to the buildings on the hillside and on the other is a walled city, built on a hill, with many narrow alleyways leading off the main street, some with steps, some just steep, and with little shops and dozens of eating places everywhere.  A really lovely atmosphere which is very difficult to describe!

We felt very privileged to be invited by Duska (campsite owner) to a luncheon on Sunday to celebrate the birthday of her husband, Jani.  A wonderful experience sitting with friends and family and some of the other regular visitors to the site.  A real time of celebration with plenty of wine and schnapps along with platters of meats, canapés and potato salad, followed by goulash with what looked a bit like pasta but had the consistency of bread dumplings, then grilled meat, followed by cake with plenty of fresh fruit and cream.  This was also accompanied by plenty of singing of what we took to be Croatian folksongs.  Certainly something to be remembered for a long time.

03 May 2011

Travel Blog - Part 5

The journey along the coast road from Split to Ploce was slow but very pleasant with lovely scenery – sea and islands on one side and tall, craggy mountains on the other. 
We had allowed plenty of time to get to the ferry and – 3½ hours early – were second  in the queue.  Apparently buying tickets in advance does not guarantee a place on the ferry, the queuing system does!  
When the ferry arrived we were pleasantly surprised to see it was a fairly new boat – conventional drive-on drive-off ferry.  Last time we made the journey it  was an old tank landing craft and we had to back on to it – staff watching all vehicles to make sure they didn’t ‘ground’ on the slope, and ready with mats in case help was needed  – and the trailer had been man-handled on separately.  Things are definitely progressing in this part of the world.  
Landing 45 minutes later at Trpanj we then had to negotiate the narrow winding road around and up over the mountain.  Not the most pleasant journey for anyone of a nervous disposition!  Fortunately not a lot of traffic and we made the journey without dropping down into a deep ditch or a field where there were no barriers at the side of the road.  
Arrived at the campsite at Orebic about 40 minutes later having ignored the wonderful Sat-nav which really wanted us to turn left after the mountain and go via Dubrovnik – there and back on the same road, adding another 120 or so miles to the journey!  As I said before Sat-navs can be good, but common sense is better!  
Settled on the pitch we had booked in advance, with a beautiful view out across the water.  Now for 3 weeks of not doing very much!

27 April 2011

Travel Blog - Part 3

We have made several expeditions into Ljubljana on the bus – bought a plastic ‘credit-type card’ from Reception and put enough money on it to cover our fares.  Everyone, it seems uses these cards and just holds them against a little machine as they get on the bus – we never saw a driver taking money for a fare.

With the aid of a guide book we found our way around very easily and a ride on the little street-train took us up to the famous Ljubljana castle where there were some fantastic views.

The streets seem to be lined with cafes and everywhere you go you see tables and chairs laid out down the street.  We found a wonderful place called Sokol which served traditional Slovenian food and where we had a lovely lunch-time snack of soup in a bread cup.  We later went to that restaurant for an evening meal to celebrate our 51st wedding anniversary.

Terry had booked in advance and as it was a special occasion the staff had gone out of their way to make it a special time.  All the tables and chairs were made of wood but our table had a white table-cloth, tea-lights on the table and a decoration made up of baubles and a pot covered in gold mesh with holly in it!  They had even put lovely tall glasses out ready for us, and had greeted us with a complimentary drink!

Most of the week had been quite cold (not surprising really as there was still snow on the mountains not too far away) and our van registered an outside temperature of around 5º each morning!  On our last day however there was a complete change and although morning and evening were a bit on the cold side the sun was very hot during the day.

Travel Blog - Part 2

Well, we finally managed to get away! Now how do you put lots of travel, sights, experiences into a few lines of writing? I’ll try!

Down to Dover early and put on the midnight boat instead of 4a.m. (unsocial hours do give cheaper prices!) and once across the channel we pulled into an aire, parked amongst a good number of lorries and had a few hours kip.

First camp stop was Rodenkirchen just outside Cologne, on the banks of the Rhine and a few days watching the variety of barges and hotel boats going up and down the river and seeing a glorious sunset one evening.

Moving on things don’t always go according to plan and an overnight stop at a site at Gieselwind didn’t happen because the campsite was closed! Don’t know why and as campsites didn’t seem too plentiful in the area we decided to spend the night at a Rest Station – in amongst lorries again – but felt quite safe, locked in and with the gas alarm on (you do hear a lot of stories about things that can happen especially if you are negligent).

On our way early next morning to Lake Chiemsee where we had a beautiful view over the lake and with snow covered mountains in Austria in the background. Beautiful weather and a chance to do a bit of cycling – all very good and flat (I have a bike that doesn’t do hills!).

On the move again after a few days and to the next stop at Ljubljana in Slovenia, via Austria where a vignette costing €7.90 allows travel on all autobahns for 10 days – pity we can only make use of it for 1 day.

Change in the weather and traveled for some miles in pouring rain but after coming out of one of the long tunnels through the mountains the sun was shining again. Stopped for coffee and delicious Austrian cake and apple strudel – well we are tourists now – and fortified again were on our way once more.

Found the site without any problem with the aid of the Navigator programme on the lap-top – something that was well worth the investment, but really only helpful if there is a second person to navigate, not one person driving alone (something like a Garmin or Tom-tom is better for that but doesn’t give such detailed information).

Now to spend time exploring Ljubljana so next installment in due course!

08 April 2011

Travel Blog - Part 1

Twelve weeks traveling around Europe in a motor home sounds great – 
but it doesn’t just happen that way and as the preparation goes on you begin to wonder whether it really is worth all the effort! 

Planning the dates is easy, planning a route and having a rough idea of which campsites to head for is O.K. too, its just the other bits like finding the best prices for crossing the channel – this year Camping Cheques gave us the best price with 20 nights on campsites that take Camping cheques (€15 per night in low season), ferry Dover to Dunkerque for 2 people, motor home and trailer for £369. We also have an ACSI card which gives discounted rates at their listed campsites in low season - €11, €13 or €15 which includes electricity. 

After that - check that passports are up to date, renew EHIC cards and take out travel insurance, which isn’t without its problems when you’re over 65 and being out of the country for 86 days. We did eventually find one that seems to cover everything we need, but needed to know the countries we would be traveling in and then later on adding another country and a slight change on the medical side meant going through the whole questionnaire again. Hope its not needed! 

More to think about is what is going to happen while we are away – the insurance on the car left at home needs renewing during that time and its too early for them to give a quote (should be solved by email!), home insurance needs to be informed of the time the house will be empty – is that everything covered. I’m not sure – I hope so.
Anyway the time has come to leave, after stowing everything that has been accumulating on our living room floor for the last few days, away in the van. 

If anyone is thinking about doing a long trip and wondering whether its worth it, yes it is ( Was Only Kidding ) and we will soon be able to tell you about some of the things we are seeing and doing in Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary. 

Jenny & Terry ( Away On Another European Tour In The Hymer For Twelve Weeks ! )
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