18th September 2009

We took the N1 road out of Paris after first spending about half an hour trying to find a petrol station that would have room for a large van.  It's more difficult than you think, as they won't let you use the truck area, or don't have one, and there are height barriers on all the exits, so you need to be very careful that before you drive in, you can get out again.

It took as about four hours to get to Calais so we arrived at 1:45pm and were able to join the queue of waiting vehicles.  As we had arrived early (we’d originally booked for next Monday) we had to pay an extra €7 which wasn't as bad as we thought it might be.  We made lunch in the van whilst we were on the train, arrived at Folkestone and drove straight to Blackhorse Farm campsite again.

I made a vegetable curry for dinner and I played my DS and went on my laptop.  Paul was ages on the phone to 3 again trying to get the £20 back from the cancelled dongle contract.  I must say it's nice to be in England again, I've had enough of staying on campsites now, and we're both looking forward to part two of our trip next year.  Italy in comfort.

We're off to Luton and Watford to look at two S type Jaguars, hope we can find a decent one.  Then we have to find a suitable property to rent in Tavistock.  Paul has seen a couple but we need to visit the estate agents and register with them before we can arrange a viewing.

I won't be writing in this journal every day, just when interesting events happen like buying the car or finding a house.  I'll start it all again when we commence our trip to Italy next year.

Some Notes on our Final Europe Tour

We’d driven another 2,300 miles, stopped in some really nice campsites, seen a lot of Germany and a bit of Austria and also had to suffer the state of some of the French campsites.
We met a lot of really interesting people.  Of all the nationalities we met, the Dutch came out tops as the most friendly, and the most accepting of us Brits.  The Germans were also nice but as I couldn't speak their language, I felt less comfortable with them.  The Dutch have to speak good English because nobody else in Europe speaks Dutch.  Ha ha!

17th September 2009

We left the campsite and drove for ages trying to find a site that offered the ACSI rate and was still open.  We found one at lunchtime, but it was under a load of trees and we couldn't get a signal so we drove on.  We stopped by the roadside and ate lunch of French bread, cheese ham and tomatoes which was nice, and then headed on to a site on the outskirts of Paris.
Camping Club Parc du Paris
The campsite is the Camping Club du Parc de Paris and I think it's horrible but it's the only one near here and it's now 5pm so we'll have to stay.  We both went for a shower as we didn't have one this morning, and it was disgusting.  They smell of urine, and the gutters for the water to run away, are filled with dead flies, moths and other brown stuff.  The water is either scalding or freezing, nothing in between.  I think everybody should camp in France and see what it's like; it would really open their eyes.  We’re going to leave early tomorrow morning and see if we can make it to Calais in time for a Eurotunnel train.  As it's not the time we booked we will probably have to pay extra, but it will be worth it!  Paul's just gone off to get WiFi which is €4 for one hour, what a rip off!  However, we need to book the tunnel and we're trying to locate a Jaguar for when we get back so we'll just have to pay it.

16th September 2009

We left the campsite quite early, goodbye Germany, see you again soon, and headed into France.  We are in the Alsace region which is quite different.  That's what Paul says is fascinating about France, it can be so different depending on which area you go to. We’re heading for a campsite called Camping Du Lac which as the name indicates is by a lake, so might be nice.  I'm not looking forward to French toilets and showers again though!

Bye Germany - hello France!
We stopped on the way to get some shopping at a Leclerc and had our favourite lunch, pizza followed by chocolate cake with Crème Anglais mmm delicious.  We arrived at the campsite and I did some washing and then checked out the loos, which were gross.
Camping Du Lac in Alsace
I then cooked some dinner.  Ha ha I just said something stupid and it made Paul laugh.  Whenever I put the oven on, it makes Paul's mouse jump about on the screen.  He said, ‘oh that sometimes happens when you get electrical interference.’  ‘But’, I said, ‘the oven is gas!’  He roared and said yes, but the igniter's electric isn't it?  Doh! I'm so blond sometimes.

15th September 2009

Another rainy day and we were stuck in the van all day again.  We've had a long talk and decided to go back home, well to the UK.  We've got to the stage where the weather isn't very good, it's dark early in the evenings now, a lot of the campsites are closing down for the season, and come November we will have to tax and re-insure the van for another year as well as renew our Caravan Club and other memberships, so it's really decision time.

We've had a great time, but all we seem to be doing now is drive to a campsite, sit in the van all day and then move on to another.  It might have been better, with hindsight, for us to have bought a caravan and car as we could have driven off to see places rather than sitting around, but it's the one thing that isn't so easy to do when you have a 27 foot long van to park and manoeuvre everywhere.  I feel a bit sad that our adventure is coming to an end, but we’ve spent nearly six months travelling which is a hell of a lot more than we both thought we’d do.  We've seen some great things and magnificent countryside like the Sierra Nevada, Algarve, Glencoe and the Mosel valley.

The plan is to go back to the UK, buy a car, maybe an S type Jaguar, rent somewhere to live and sell the motorhome (shame) and after the new year, maybe in April, go to Italy by car and stay in hotels and see some of the sites we’d have tried to go to in the van, like the Trevi Fountain, Rome, Florence and so on.  So at least we have something to look forward to, and I have the added bonus of being back near my family as we’ve decided we’ll try and find a property near Tavistock in Devon.

We’ve under spent our budget on this trip and provided we can get a decent price for the van, we could afford to do another trip next year. Paul has sorted out a route home and we'll leave tomorrow and hopefully be back in the UK by next Monday.

We both spent the day online and I did some more editing of my book.

14th September 2009

We didn't do much today as it was still raining so we sat in the van and I played MK and AC and Paul read his book.  I made bacon and eggs for dinner and we watched some TV as Paul has been able to get a good satellite signal over in this part of Germany.

13th September 2009

Today is our tenth wedding anniversary.  We both got up and headed for the showers and when we returned we opened our anniversary cards.  Aww Paul's is one of those really lovely Art Deco ones.  We went down to reception to sign in as we didn't have time last night, and then we sat in the van and went on-line as they have free WiFi hooray!

As they also have what looks like a nice restaurant, we decided to have a celebration lunch so we got ready and walked down to the restaurant.  It was a typical ‘Stube’, rustic wood and loads of flowers in baskets everywhere.
Campsite "Rustic" restaurant our 10th Anniversary
Paul had a venison steak and I had a pork steak which was nice but too big and a little under-cooked for my liking, but it was very good food.  It’s obviously popular with the locals as well, as it was packed.  At one point and elderly lady came and asked Paul if she and two other people could share our table.  Paul explained that we were celebrating our anniversary and would sooner be alone.  She didn't seem too pleased but I don't want to share my table with a bunch of strangers all talking German thank you!

We went back to the van and had a snooze as we’d been drinking Champagne and wine and I'm no good drinking at lunchtimes, it just gives me a headache.

12th September 2009

We've decided to head back into Germany, and to try and find a nice site over near the French border.  I suppose we should have done this yesterday instead of going through all the bloody hassle with the Go-Box. There are no other English people on this site, so nobody to talk to, we can't get a TV signal, it's raining again and I don't want to sit inside the van all day with nothing much to do.  This doesn't matter too much in the summer but it now gets dark about 6pm and you can't sit outside when it's like this. We tried to get our money back for the internet card, but the woman wouldn’t give it to us. Horrible cow.

We obviously wouldn’t get to see Italy or Switzerland as we had originally planned, but could do that maybe next spring when the weather is likely to be a bit better.
So! we won't be going in this direction then?
We drove for about nine hours in all today, a large chunk of it being spent trying to get our money back from the Go-Box.  The first garage didn't sell them, the second, which was about 40 miles inside the German border, did and said we would get a credit for €56 which means our little detour into Austria had cost us €24 or about £20!!  What with the woman at the campsite refusing to give us back the money for the internet access we didn't use, our impression of Austria was not altogether good!!  Now we have to check our bank and see if we do get the money back on the Go-Box.  I won't hold my breath!

We arrived at the new campsite which is situated in the triangle where the borders with Switzerland, Germany and France meet near to Basel and Mulhouse.  It's a nice site although we couldn't see very much of it as it was nearly dark.  If it's as nice as it looks, we'll stay for a week.  Poor Paul is absolutely knackered, I felt sorry for him having to drive all that way as he's still suffering with a cold and needs to have a rest.
Lug Insland Erlebnis camping Bad Bellingen