Category Archives: Dog

From Paris-ish to Berlin

Mont St Michel

After three nights sweltering in Cap d’Agde, our resolve was to reverse our planned route to escape the heat for the sake of Neelix (and ourselves), so we headed North West to the French outcrop of Brittany.

The first night of the mammoth 1000km trip brought us to a free Aire in the little town of Bourganeuf. It was still hot, but we found Scooby a space in the shade of some towering conifers. Beyond a gothic chateau opposite, there was little to see, so the following morning we drove another full day until we stopped at an Aire beside a lake in Nord-Sur-Erdre, where a strange thumping and shoals of migrating people caught our attention…

Turned out that the town was hosting a two-night music festival about 2km from the Aire, featuring a whole host of people we’d never heard of – and Sting.

Bourganeuf Aire France

Bourganeuf, France

Nord-Sur-Erdre

Nord-Sur-Erdre, France

With the back doors wide open to the lake, the stars beginning to poke through the cloak of nightfall, we dozed to the sounds of Englishman in New York and If I Ever Lose My Faith.

The following day we finally made it to the cooler climes of Brittany, though the heat had stalked us and our hike to the awesome Mont St Michel a couple of days later brought with it sunburn. The next day it rained like hell.

Over the following three days, we made our way along the coast due north, stopping in free Aires and visiting the small harbour towns and Normandy beaches, finishing our second stint in France at Fecamp, an Aire so popular it had spilled over to a second car park and was rammed with wall-to-wall motorhomes.

Mont St MichelMont St MichelHorse drawn bus in Mont St MichelMont St MichelMont St Michel

Mont St Michel

July 11th saw us bid adieu to France and (whatever-it-is-in-Flemish) hello to Belgium. As we’d visited Ghent and Bruges before, it served only as a transitory overnight and, by the following afternoon, we’d made it to Rotterdam to look at some canals and windmills.

We finished out first night in The Netherlands in the cheese-themed town of Gouda, sampling the national dish of chips smothered in sauce, and taking a walk around the postcard-esque town. For the next three days we utilised the final ACSI discount period at a camp near Eindhoven. Where it rained. And rained. And rained. But there was a giant trampoline and no kids around so I didn’t care.

Hermanville

Juno Beach TankFecamp

 

<<< Normandy towns and beaches: Hermanville, a tank at Juno Beach, and Fecamp

 

Three nights at Camp Rainyskies was enough and it was time to venture into Germany. Andy had never visited Deutschland other than a flight connection at Frankfurt, and I’d only been through it on the way to Poland in 1994, so neither of us had any set expectations, and our first task was the possibly daunting one of obtaining an Umweltplakette – a windscreen sticker that states your vehicle isn’t spitting out toxic death fumes, thus allowing you into inner city areas. Without it there’s a hefty fine.

So we crossed the border and went straight to a small industrial town where we’d located a TUV branch, consulted my mild-German knowledge and miraculously managed a good 90% of the conversation in German! €5 later, we have the green badge!

Windmill near RotterdamGouda, NLGouda, NLCheese shop in Gouda

The Netherlands: One of many windmills southeast of Rotterdam, the cheesy town of Gouda, its fairytale-like centrepiece, and a shop of their eponymous queso

 

We made the most of the Germany’s über-efficient roadways to get to Kassel and eventually Göttingen, where we spent the night in a small Aire outside of the town. In the morning we drove north to Wolfsburg, found a near-central motorhome parking lot and walked through the 35 degree afternoon into town centre to explore.

In the morning we walked around the local Schloss, and paid a visit to the Volkswagen Automuseum. As VW’s ancestral home is Wolfsburg, it’s a game of spot-the-non-VW. The museum was replete with VW Beetles of yore (including Herbie!), vans, and a precious few T25’s similar to our very own Suzanne-the-Van. The drawback of this trip was having to go individually so the other could dogsit in the car park.

Convertible Beetle, Basket Beetle & Wooden Beetle, and my childhood hero

Classic Convertible Beetle, Basket-Weaved Beetle & Wooden Beetle, and my childhood hero

After Wolfsburg, we rocketed down the autobahn to Berlin, where we’d found a strange Aire-cum-campsite on the outskirts, charging just €20 a night (good, for high-season). On the Monday, the three of us hopped on a U-train from nearby Tegel and, twenty minutes later, surfaced in the centre of Germany’s capital city. Neelix was perplexed by the train, seemingly unsure how to sit without keeling over every time it braked or gained speed.

A tiring foot tour followed: The river to Brandenburg Gate (big), the Holocaust Memorial (people taking selfies inside seemed odd), a preserved section of the Berlin Wall (touching), Checkpoint Charlie (tiny!), plus Gendarmenmarkt Square, Bebelplatz, Berlin Cathedral, Mitte, Alexanderplatz, and a trip out to a suburb that seemed to be streetwalker central, even in the middle of the day! Berlin also gave us the chance for Andy to buy a replacement camera for the one stolen, and both of us some replacement clothes for the ones threadbare and/or impervious to being cleaned, thanks to the giant Primark store. We finished off with haloumi wraps back in Tegel and a long, much-needed sleep.

Out n’ about in Berlin:

Wolfsburg SchlossBrandenburg Gate, BerlinHolocaust Memorial, BerlinmemorialBerlin WallCheckpoint Charlie, BerlinDog on the subwayBerlin

Days away: 147
Trip Miles: 5,991
Trip Kilometers: 9,663

RouteMap_270715

Spain, Part Trés

Neelix stays still for once.

Today sees us 12 weeks into our journey of discovery and Tapas. It’s also our last day at Camping Didota, in the strange sub-Vegas resort of Oropesa del Mar.

Tomorrow, we chug off in the direction of Valencia to explore the city a bit, then head south to a place neither of us has ever experienced: Benidorm.

We’re meeting our great friends Shona and Karla there, so to hell with any local naffness. Plus I really want some bad food.

Oropesa with it's marina from the nearby hills

Oropesa with it’s marina from the nearby hills

Since our last update, we set up home at the nice campsite here, approximately 100 feet from the sea, which sends us to sleep in a perpetual lullaby of waves each night, backed by the chirping cicadas of the overgrown campsite-no-more over the wall. It’s quiet, well kept, and a lot of people here seem like they intend to stay for months rather than weeks.

We ventured into nearby Benicassim a couple of times, hiked from the camp the 5km into Oropesa searching for a market we never found, replacement flip-flops (they do not like everyday wear), cut our own hair (quite successfully), and taught Neelix to negotiate incoming waves and swim a little to cool down – temperatures soared as high at 38°C at one point! See his graceless lolloping here:

Andy got his action cam on a few times, strapped to the grill of Scooby: See at 8x the speed for true rollercoaster effect along the hairpin turns on the way to Morella!

Christmas came as well and we managed to angle the hardly-ever-used satellite dish to find a German channel broadcasting Eurovision. The commentary wasn’t quite Graham Norton, but we waved our arms a little as the UK dwindled into it’s usual almost-last place.

So, it’s still a slow, lazy life in the sunshine, as summer comes to northern Europe we’ll weave our way back and experience some new countries – promise!!

Group shot for this month

Group shot for this month

Route map so far with next section planned

Route map so far with next section planned

Days away: 84
Trip Miles: 2,116
Trip Kilometers: 3,405

Click to enbiggen:

Oropesa del Mar

Oropesa del Mar

FARTons - yes really

FARTons – yes, really

Benicassim

Benicassim

We love a boardwalk

We love a boardwalk

Sunrise on the beach

Sunrise on the beach

Pebbles like Brighton!

Pebbles like Brighton!

Neelix endorsing Oropesa

Neelix endorsing Oropesa

Big ant, big leaf!

Big ant, big leaf!

 

Neelix stays still for once.

Neelix stays still for once.