Thursday, September 27, 2012

We finally made it into Amsterdam on Wednesday, Tuesday was a write off as we got up way too late.  Must get up earlier from now on, especially now its going to get darker earlier.

Amsterdam was dead.  The past few times I have visited the city has been either a weekend or peak season so this time was quite a shock.  Most bars were empty and you could walk around without having to weave through numerous bodies and bikes.  It was quite nice actually.

We left the campsite to get the bus which was a short walk (about 2 miles up the road) round the corner, it was only €4 for a return ticket which I didn't think was to bad.  We are about 10 miles out of the city so after half an hour we arrived into the centre.  For the rest of the day we pretty much just wandered around soaking up the atmosphere.  Vic liked the little narrow streets with the small shops so we tried to find as many as we could.  I also seem to have a skill at finding cities red light districts (by accident) I managed in both Madrid and Barcelona, but its bad to say I knew exactly where the one in Amsterdam is.  As seedy as it is, it's definitely worth a visit as its quite an eye opener. 
One thing I never understand with large cities like this Amsterdam is why do people pay to visit attractions such as Madame Tussaud's and the Amsterdam Dungeon?  Why would you pay to look at a wax figure of Justin Bieber when you have the whole city of Amsterdam to explore?

The weather has picked up now which is nice.  The rain was starting to grind me down a bit.  Luckily we now have a 'front room' in the back of the van.  Originally we used to have a bed which we used in total about 6 times since putting it in.  We now have an 'L' shaped bench so we can shelter away from the rubbish weather.  So far its doing its job pretty well.  We now even have a hookup straight to the van with power and everything.  Exciting.

As I have just typed that piece it has now started raining again.
We leave Amsterdam tomorrow morning and head a little down the road to the van meeting where we will meet up with Sam, a friend from back in the UK.  It will be nice to speak to someone other than Vic (she thinks the same.)  After the weekend we are then heading to Krakow.  We have to be there for around the 10th so we can meet our friends Stu, Amy, Chris, Dave and Emma who fly out to the city on the 11th.

We're going to have to rush through Germany which is a bit of a shame but we have only been to Poland for 3 days in the past so will be nice to explore the place a lot more.  It's probably a good thing they are flying out really as I reckon we would have ducked out again and decided to not visit Poland again.  Just need to find some more campsites as we struggled last time.
Got to go and wash some clothes now.  I miss washing machines.

We will update you when we can.

Max and Vic

Sunday, September 23, 2012


It's raining.  But I have finally sorted out a domain for this blog.

Currently cooped up in the back of the van trying to load Google which isn't playing ball (There are up and down sides to being at the back of the campsite.)  The toilets are for some reason with the bungalows and nowhere near the camping area.  Peeing in the bushes tonight.

We are now in Amsterdam for the next 7 nights until we move onto Amersfoort to the Dutch Citroen Van meeting (Not as geeky as it sounds.)

Since the last post we have visited Tongeren in Belgium to meet up with Vick's dad who was over with work.  Vick got very drunk as did everyone else there.  We were camped about 30km away from the town as there were no campsites nearby.   Tongeren is home to the Gallo Romeins Museum, voted the European museum of the year 2011 which upon arriving and blagging a €1 entry fee the nice man behind the desk told us we needed around an hour and a half to view the museum properly.  Vick and I polished the place off in 45 minutes.  However the museum was really good.  We were handed a booklet with detailed explanations of all the exhibits so we actually knew what stuff was.

We may have over estimated how much time we had to work with also, we arranged to meet Vick's dad once he had finished work at 7.  We were ready at 5.  Everything had closed.  We went back to the car to make a cup of tea,  halfway through boiling we ran out of petrol in the stove.  We decided to scrap that idea and went for a walk around the outskirts of the town where the old roman wall used to surround.  Luckily Steve finished a little earlier so we met up and went to the Moustache bar across the road from his hotel.  It seems Steve is in here a lot he is affectionately known as 'Small Guy' by the owner and barman.  Vick would like me to add here that he is not an alcoholic.

We had a few beers at the bar before moving on to 'the square' with Steve to have a meal.  Vick and Steve had the chicken Caesar salad and I had the steak.  After a hearty meal we headed back to the Moustache bar where we were joined by 4 of Steve's colleagues for more drinks.  When I say more I mean shit loads.   We stayed in the bar until 1.30 and even did a bit of dancing.  It was a very good night.  I am not sure how Steve managed to get up for work at 7 the next day and then drive back to the UK,  Vick managed to get up at 12 and that is all she did.  All day.  

It seems September is the main time for road works in Holland and Belgium.  Every single road/ town is closed for maintenance, we have driven around in so many circles these past few days.

We are venturing into Amsterdam centre tomorrow so heading to bed now.  

Night. x

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Currently sat in the back of the van just outside of Bree, Belgium.  We have made a slight detour on our way to Amsterdam, going down to Tongeren, Belgium to meet up with Vick's dad who is there with work.  He has promised us a beer and a waffle so worth the detour (Sorry Steve).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Off to Holland...

Currently sat on the ferry crossing from Harwich to Hook of Holland.  It's long.  I did however sleep from 9 till 1 so its only half a crossing for me.  Vick wasn't to happy though as all she could do was read and guard the laptop.

I will try and update both stories now when I can.  I will talk about where we are now and where we were then.  If it gets to confusing sorry.

See you in Holland.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Benidorm May 2012

I've decided to do a separate post on this special special place, it will stay with me forever will Benidorm.

Mainly becasue its a complete shit hole.

It probably didn't help the fact that I had food poisoning when we left Olivia to go to Benidorm.   When we arrived I couldn't believe how over developed the place is. Driving through it would probably be OK.  But I was told you had too stop and actually walk around the place to experience it properly.

We arrived at the campsite to find out we were the only tent and the only people stopping for 2 nights.  Most people on site looked like they were set up for the month.  Some forever.

 Due to feeling so terrible on our arrival I decided to act all sorry for myself and lie under the car in the shade.  Meanwhile we could hear down at the bar that it was bingo night.  It's a shame we couldn't make it... instead I decided it would be more fun to have a shower and puke my guts up.

The next morning I was still a little fragile but decided we should venture out into Benidorm within minutes of leaving the site we saw our first mobility scooter.  We had arrived.  It was exactly the same as the TV series.  Golden oldies in mobility scooters, John Smiths and Burnt Brits everywhere.
One thing I couldn't understand is how many Dutch people were visiting I wouldn't have thought the lure of a fry up and a pint would appeal.

 After venturing around for the day we made our way back.  It was quiz night.  Again it was a shame we missed it.... but we could hear it from where we were camped.

Question 1 - What is the 5th letter of the alphabet.
Question 4 - What is the fastest land mammal.

Come to think of it I wish we had entered.  We would have smashed it.  With the Channel 4 news and then Eastenders at 7 on in the background of the campers and bar we decided to move onto somewhere else other than Benidorm.  We had seen it and ticked it off the list.  I don't think we're going to go back. 

Welcome to Spain. May 2012

Day 22 on the road and we finally made it to Spain.  For once it wasn't raining.  But it had been, I knew this due to the fact that the Van sunk into the campsite pitch we chose.  I then proceeded to mess up the pitch as I tried to get out.

The first thing you notice when you arrive in Spain is that its very hilly.  You notice it even more when you car goes 30mph up them and lorries are laughing at you at they steam past you.  I soon laugh back at them when we reach the top.  It's all 70mph back on our side then.

Our first stop in Spain was Etxarri Aranatz mainly because we had another crap scaled map so needed a large shop to get a better one.  It was quite a nice campsite.  Very loud.  But the Spanish love the night action.

The view wasn't to bad either.

We didn't manage to get a map in town. However we did manage to find Pamplona.  It's huge and has El Corte Ingles shops.  Basically it's Debenhams and has free toilets.  We bought a map and had a walk around.  We stayed their for four nights but for some reason we managed to completely miss out the old town in which they do the running of the bulls in July.  I was a bit gutted about this but I guess we will just have to go back. 

Even though we had no timescale and all the time in the world I decided we should go from Pamplona to Barcelona.  All 494km in a day.  I regretted this decision after about 4 hours.  We still made it to Sitges just on the outskirts of Barcelona.  The campsite even had a bus stop right outside.  The campsite was nice, but because we were there for 5 nights and it's free we decided we should be near a electric hookup to charge up stuff.  It turns out only camper vans are allowed electric so we were camped in a very hard car park.  

No pegs went in the ground without being bent.  It was a nightmare and I felt like a novice.  The next purchase was hard ground pegs. 
Day 3 at the site we decided to make a trip into Barcelona around €5 for a bus into the centre was a bargain for the distance.  

We made a mission of the day and tried to see everything we left the campsite at around 10ish and returned back at 11.  I had been there before a few times so it was mainly to show Vick the wonders of the city.  Although we didn't go inside everything we did manage to see the main parts.  After seeing the Sagrada Familia, Olympic stadium, the Las Ramblas, Güell Park, Montjuïc, Plaça d'Espanya,  It was a long day. 

This was the first campsite we really spoke to people.  We have a lot of people come and talk to us about the car a lot of the time but its mainly about the car.  One night some people came over to talk about the car.  Paul and Darren then invited us to their Volkswagen camper for drinks.  This was a night out for us.  We hadn't had a new conversation in ages.  They were two of the kindest guys making me cups of tea becasue our stove had broken and feeding Vick with beer.  Because we enjoyed it so much we decided to stay another night and do the same thing.

Day 34 and we moved down the road to Alcossebre,  the ACSI book mentioned it had an off road track to reach the site.  It didn't lie.  We drove down the very bumpy track into the middle of nowhere.  Thinking we were going to nowhere we thought the campsite was either closed or no longer there.  We turned right and ended up in the most expensive looking campsite ever.. .It didn't seem right.   We were expecting a man in a shed with a calculator.  There were posh toilets loads of bungalows for hire and it was 100m away from the beach.  Bonus. 

Becasue it was so in the middle of nowhere and we we're limited on the food we had with us we moved on down through Spain again.  This time to Olivia.  In contrast we turned up to the smallest dirtiest campsite.  It was also boiling.  The day we arrived it was 40 degrees.  There wasn't really much in Olivia apart from beach.  So the next day we went for a walk.... to the beach.  Where we saw this DIY boat.  It didn't look like it would work very well but the owner seemed happy with it.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Backtrack April 2012

Ok I'll make a start....

If you would like to cast your minds back to the 8th April 2012.

Our mileage is 53017 we are at our friends in Hertford waiting for our 4.00am ferry from Dover to Dunkerque.  I chose the early crossing because we saved 2 pounds... Never again.

I expected the crossing to be empty.  I couldn't have been more wrong, it was rammed with family's as it was the beginning of the Easter holidays.

Our first stop after the ferry was Brugge.  Mainly because we had the worst map in the world and Brugge was the nearest biggest place. 

Vick had never been to Brugge so we did the touristy walk around looking at all the hotspots etc.  We're trying to last as long as possible on what money we have so we aren't going into a lot of the tourist traps and we tried our hardest to not eat out.  In the whole three months we ate out 3 times in total.  A good effort I think considering we never cook when we normally camp.

Our original plan when we left was to head to Kiev in Ukraine.  We eventually ended up going to Spain.  The complete opposite way.  It kind of sounds the same I guess.  I think it was the best decision.  As a whole I don't think we we're ready to be thrown in at the deep end.  We have been to Czech Republic and Poland before but never on our own.

For some reason I always need a target to head for I am not sure why really as we don't really need one.   Our new final destination was Almeria in the South of Spain.
New destination in our heads we headed off down France trying to avoid the pull of Paris on the roads.  After Brugge we headed to Charny,  stopping off one night in the worlds scariest camp site.  It was a municipal campsite in the middle of nowhere. We were tired. It was raining and getting dark.  I had made the decision I wasnt going anywhere else.

The campsite was completely empty so I approached the small building in the middle of the site and knocked on the door.  A man answered his door with his tea in hand.  I then asked him in my best french.... "Camping?"  He said no and pointed at another door with a phone number on a piece of paper.  Great I had to make a phone call to a french person.  Its not my specialty.  I rang the number and asked in my best french again "camping?" this conversation went on for a while and went nowhere.  She then put down the phone and I heard a car door shut,  The lady lived up the road so came to book us in.  We went to find our spot in the campsite and It looked like we had to spend the night in a scene from the Texas chainsaw massacre.

It rained all night, the church bell rang every hour making it more eery and the crow scarer made a bang every minute.  We made a very quick exit the next morning.

We found out that we had friends on the route we were heading on.  A week later we arrived at there house.  About half an hour from Montlucon is there house.  We camped the night before in the hills and it was very very cold.  We both slept in our clothes and hats. Even though we had only been away less than 2 weeks it was nice to see some different faces and speak to someone other than Vic.  She thought the same so it's not me being harsh.  After being treated like king and queen for two nights we moved on to the Dordogne region which in April/ May is very wet.

We leapfrogged through the Dordogne as the weather was terrible.  The ground in most sites was very boggy so we moved on most mornings.  We found it very hard when we first started to relax and take our time in places.  We visited Sarlat for the day which was very nice.  We were going to make a visit to the walnut museum but in the end decided we would regret it.  A walnut is a walnut surely? Just two weeks in and we we're stopping at another friends house.  Paul and Janice live in Chatenet near Bordeaux, whenever we visit the car always has a fault.  Which is a good job really as Paul has a lot of spare parts and the know how.  We had an issue with the front wheel.  The kingpin had been completely eaten away.  Luckily Paul had a spare. We stayed at Paul and Janices for 4 nights and then decided we should finally make the break for Spain...

Ok, I am going to back track and write about our last trip out but I am currently trying to sort out stuff for our next trip.  We have 6 days...